Before you jump to any conclusions, let me explain how I came up with this term...
There is something I hear about in the sport/athletic world called "overtraining". Because my husband is addicted to triathlon and the like, I hear about "overtraining" here and there. It happens frequently to endurance athletes. What does it really mean? How can someone "overtrain"? Kind of sounds ridiculous, right? If you're tired, you stop, how hard is that? Well, here is the actual definition of "overtrain" from Wikipedia.com:
"Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes."
To further clarify how this can happen, it goes on to explain physical activity in terms of an addiction:
"Physical exercise may be addictive. One theory is that this addiction is due to natural endorphins generated by the exercise. Whether strictly due to this chemical by-product or not, some people can be said to become addicted to or fixated on psychological/physical effects of physical exercise and fitness. This may lead to overexercise, resulting in the "overtraining" syndrome."
Now to address the subject of this blog entry, "overhooping". It's a term I just coined. I am definitely guilty of it and I'm recently recooperating from it. Huh? You might be saying. Is there such a thing? Oh yes. Yes, there is, I am certain of it now. However, "Hooping" is it's own, separate, inclusive activity. It is unlike anything else I have ever done. When I am hooping, I am not "training" for anything - there is no goal with hooping except to be in the moment with it - to let myself go - move my body within it's circle without any regard for what's outside of it. Sounds blissful, doesn't it? You might be wondering how someone can possibly get tired doing that? It's not like when you run too hard and you pull your knee out, right? ... have you SEEN me hoop???
This past fall, I taught 13 hoop classes a week. I was hooping in every one of them right along with all of my students. I was also hooping outside of class to keep up with my own individual hoop-practice. When I could, I would go to class early or stay late, and do my own hooping. It's really a strange thing ... the more I do it, the more I do it. I can honestly say I love it. However, I realized that there were times when I was actually pretty tired and I had a voice in my head telling me to stop hooping, but it's like my body got into over-drive. I can never just stand around before class waiting for people to show up, I HAVE to hoop - I have to practice something new or work on something that I thought looked good in my head while I was driving to class. I can't stand still and talk to someone with a hoop in my hand. If it's in my hand, it's twirling.
When I wasn't hooping or teaching class, I was making hoops. This is another thing I think about. New designs for my hoops ... new ways to make them work better for those students who struggle. I was actually taping hoops and teaching classes in my sleep. Not dreaming about it. These were not dreams. This was me sleeping and my brain just kept doing the same thing over and over again all night long.
Want to hear something really wierd? I gained weight! I was confused; my husband said maybe I gained muscle. I didn't gain much, about 3-4 lbs. But, still, it was wierd considering that I was hooping 13-15 hours a week. I did feel like I was stronger physically in a way, but something wasn't adding up. Not having much time to think about it, I got sick over Thanksgiving ... a flu-like virus and then a sinus infection. I still hooped through all of it.
Mid-December rolls around and my hoop class sessions start ending. I start hooping a little less. Then, school lets out. My young children are home all day for a week and a half. Christmas break is upon us and I started listening to my body more. It was telling me to just stop. I decided I was on vacation, from everything (including the food shopping and the laundry, which is something my husband might discuss if he had blog ...). I didn't hoop for 10 days! I lost 3 lbs. What happened? How is that possible? I wasn't even trying to watch what I ate. But, my body was recovering because simply put, I overtrained with the hoop ... I "overhooped".
Science has discovered amazing things about the body and the ability to try to heal itself. If you just keep doing without enough resting, your body can't recover; meaning, your muscles can't rest. If your muscles can't rest, they can't get stronger - they won't benefit from the exercise you're giving them. So, my muscles didn't grow with all of that hooping, they got fatigued. And because I kept pushing them without adequate rest, my immunity suffered and I couldn't fight off illness. Then, there's the caloric intake. I wasn't taking enough in to adequately support my metabolism with all of the physical activity I was doing. The body's first priority is survival and it was storing fat for me. It's nice like that.
So, yadda, yadda, yadda. What have I learned? I learned that just because I'm not running marathons, I can still overtrain. I learned that even though my job is doing something I love, I still need a vacation. I learned that I still have a lot to learn ...
The other day, like a dummy, I asked my husband if it looked like I had gained some weight. He's not an idiot, of course he said no. Honestly, I looked in the mirror and didn't look any different to myself either and I'm my toughest critic. All of my clothes fit the same too. But, I started feeling like I weighed 500 pounds. Out of curiosity, I got on the scale and that's when I discovered I lost those 3 lbs. Did I lose muscle, I wondered? I took out my hoop to see how it felt. I must admit, I was a little scared at first. It had been so long since I hooped! I would probably be dropping it all over the place!
This was when it all came together. 3 days ago when I picked up my hoop again. It felt amazing. Like coming home to a "Welcome Back" sign or something. I was stronger! I was more fluid in my movements. I was flipping it around and doing new things with it that I was struggling with before. Guess what? I'm a better hooper!! I'm doing a lot of the same stuff, but it's better. I'm more in-tune to it ... I could listen to my hoop better. We were one. It's apparent that I definitely need to learn things the hard way. Just another service I provide so you can learn from MY mistakes. :)
Although I don't recommend it, I'm glad I over-hooped. I learned something and now, I'm re-energized for another season of smarter hooping. I've got some new tricks up my sleeve and I can't wait to share. My hoop and I definitely missed each other. In this case, distance made my body stronger.