As hard as it is to admit this to the world, I realize that I need to. The past month or so I have found myself falling into some old behavior patterns. I allowed myself to engage in some of my old toxic habits. I started eating and drinking things that I know are not nourishing for my body. I also fell out of my regular pattern of running, kundalini yoga and meditation. My sleep was suffering. And then this morning, I got a wake up call.
I wear something called an Oura ring (thanks, Corina!), which tracks all kinds of health stats, including heart rate and heart rate variability. When I first started wearing the ring back in June of this year, my stats were literally impeccable! I had the health of a baby, basically! My stats have gone up and down over this time, but over the past few weeks, they have taken a turn for the worst. This morning they were:
Average Heart Rate: 69
Heart Rate Variability: 17
Compare this to my stats back in June:
Average Heart Rate: 45
Heart Rate Variability: 93
A person’s average heart rate is a good indicator of their cardiovascular health. My old average of 45 is quite stellar. An average heart rate of 69 is not horrific, but it’s way higher than my healthy baseline.
Okay, but what the heck is Heart Rate Variability?
“Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is simply a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat. This variation is controlled by a primitive part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system (ANS). It works regardless of our desire and regulates, among other things, our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion. The ANS is subdivided into two large components, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight mechanism and the relaxation response.
The brain is constantly processing information in a region called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, through the ANS, sends signals to the rest of the body either to stimulate or to relax different functions. It responds not only to a poor night of sleep, or that sour interaction with your boss, but also to the exciting news that you got engaged, or to that delicious healthy meal you had for lunch. Our body handles all kinds of stimuli and life goes on. However, if we have persistent instigators such as stress, poor sleep, unhealthy diet, dysfunctional relationships, isolation or solitude, and lack of exercise, this balance may be disrupted, and your fight-or-flight response can shift into overdrive.
That all sounds nice, but why should you care about your HRV? Well, it turns out that HRV is a pretty good indicator of your psychological and physiological resilience. In addition, higher HRV has been found to be associated with reduced morbidity and mortality, and improved psychological well-being and quality of life.
Okay, all that is great, but what does this have to do with the 40 day challenge?
Well, I am committing to modifying all of my lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, meditation, sleep, etc.) in order to return to my previous state of good health. So, for the next 40 days, I will be doing everything that I can to make my body happy! I will be logging my “stats” every day and my goals are:
Average Heart Rate: 45
Heart Rate Variability: 90+
These are some pretty high targets, and I am acknowledging that I might not get there, and that is all perfectly okay. My goal is to simply do the best that I can do.
As part of this 40 day challenge, I will also be sharing with you all my daily routine and stats. I will share a snapshot of my day, including what types of exercise, yoga and meditation I am doing. Importantly, I will also be sharing with you my diet. I will include photos and recipes as much as possible. If you’re so inclined, you’re certainly welcome to join me in this challenge (if/whenever you feel like it!)
So, here we go!
Veggie Egg Scramble:
Mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach – sauteed
Eggs, vegan cheese, turmeric, salt and pepper
Topped with fresh cilantro and tomatoes
I’m now off to do some running and kundalini yoga…will be sharing more on that, soon! Here’s to 40 days! :)