As a Certified Athletic Therapist or CAT (C), I work with many patients who are recovering from injuries. One of my patients, whom I would call Betty, is an inspiration. As much as I helped her, she improved my life.
Betty is 69 years old and sustained an injury in a fall about a year ago. Like all my patients, I told her that she should carefully monitor her work / rest ratio and keep track. As you heal from an injury, it is essential to give the brain stimulation and time for rest and recovery. You can start with 10 minutes of work, starting with watching TV and talking to a friend, then a 50 minute rest. You can adjust the ratio for more stimulation and short rest as well as recovery. Tracking your sleep is also critically important.
Betty took my instruction to the next level. When we met in person, he would bring a binder of data. He told me how he relied on his Fitbit to track other biometrics such as his active zone minutes, sleep and his heart rate variability. I was particularly impressed with the depth of the data the Fitbit device produced about his sleep. It can not only track how long he has slept but also report how much time he has spent between deep sleep and REM period. He has not slept for a long time, but he has got high sleep scores for sleep quality and recovery. I was inspired by Betty to improve my sleep and my own mental health.
I had to admit that even though I was promoting a balanced work / rest ratio and the importance of sleep, I allowed these things to slip into my own life. I am a single mother and own my own multidisciplinary clinic in Petawawa, Ontario. I am one of the team therapists for the Canadian national wrestling team. I always enjoy athletic, paddleboarding in spring and summer and skiing in winter. My life is active and busy but often stressful.
After the first year of COVID, I felt more anxious and less healthy. The epidemic forced my clinic to close several times and there was a lot of staff turnover. I was exercising less and drinking more than usual. After Christmas, I noticed that my cross country ski pants didn’t fit, and my resting heart rate was 74, which was high for me. It’s easy to let your own health get in the way when you’re busy taking care of others.
So in June of last year, I decided to follow in Betty’s footsteps and get a fitbit to keep a better track of my overall health. I bought an Inspire 2 mainly to focus on my mindfulness and sleep.
I was not someone who could sleep 8 hours. Betty was similar. He can only sleep 5 or 6 hours but has a high recovery score. So instead of thinking about total hours, I focused more on developing better sleep habits and my sleep quality. Following Betty’s advice, I tried Fitbit’s guided meditation and found that I could lower my heart rate before going to sleep. This allowed me to fall asleep earlier and my sleep quality and my recovery score improved dramatically.
My Inspiration 2 has indicated my behavior in other ways as well. I wanted to watch those active zone minutes, so I started running to work instead of walking. I was getting exercise and saving time as well. The Fitbit platform gives you many ways to experiment with your habits that have the most impact on viewing. I decided to have a dry February with my partner as an experiment. I noticed an immediate improvement in my sleep score and heart rate variability. This kind of clear response helps you to stick to positive change.
The choices Betty and my other Connexion patients have to make while recovering often change their lives. Every hour, they have to ask themselves, ‘How do I use my limited attention and mental energy?’ ‘Am I doing something that draws me out or enlightens me?’ I find this inspiring. Betty reminded me that you don’t have to hesitate to ask yourself these basic questions.
I am now living a more intentional life with a clear improvement in my mental and physical health. My resting heartbeat dates back to the 60s. My ski pants fit again, but they’ll be in the closet soon. The snow and ice on the Ottawa River is melting and it’s time to get back on the paddle board.
As Ethan Waters was told
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as an alternative to medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your health problems or conditions. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.