Back in the day, before I knew how to battle exhaustion properly!

Whew! Has it been one heck of a week! Performing 15-16 hours a day as an MC for 3 days is a pretty intense job! We were up at 5:30am in the morning, and did not leave the theatre until past 11pm. Do not get me wrong, it was a very fulfilling experience, as with all my performance work, and I got to see some astounding young people dance like I have never seen before. But by mid-Sunday, I felt very justified treating myself to a small Coffee Crisp and also a Sweet and Salty nut bar.

Being an MC is a challenging experience. Especially when doing competitions because things change around all the time, and I have to think up speeches on the fly when suddenly a dance is put on hold, an item is missing, calling a studio, etc. etc. And I have to do it calmly and concisely, even when the rest of backstage is in chaos. Not only that, my cold reading abilities had to be absolutely spot on, which becomes difficult when I hit a low point in the day, and my exhaustion finds its way to my tongue. I am born in Canada and fluent in English, but there were certainly moments when I felt my ESL come through as words wrapped their way around my tongue and then knotted it.

When we are working such long hours and under stressful conditions, it is so important that we remain alert, calm and focused. However, we are increasingly relying on a variety of crutches to carry us through the day(s), and we ultimately pay the price at the end, whether that end is after a show, or 30 years down the road.

For me, with only 1-2 cups of coffee (and the second cup was a dark roast always, much lower in caffeine and never past 4pm) and those two treats on Sunday, I knew the practice of how to stay focused during long stressful hours. I packed a multivitamin drink that I consumed every day, packed my Vega Optimizer that I shook up in a smoothie cup for snacks, and when we ordered our lunch and dinners, chose as wholesome a meal as possible (eg. fish with no butter, salad, vegetable soup, whole wheat veggie wraps). I packed clean protein bars, Manuka Honey for my throat, ate nuts and drank lots of herbal tea.

But that’s not easy for the average person to do. As I observed over the weekend, I watched people deteriorate before my eyes as their coffee intake increased, smoking increased, drinking pop increased, the energy drinks got busted out,  junk food habits increased as they found any method possible to try and spike their energy in the midst of exhaustion. And when their blood sugar crashed after all this processed and refined food, they had splitting headaches and they would reach for painkillers. And such would continue. In moments of exhaustion, it is so simple to do what we had been conditioned to do for years,  consume more unhealthy stimulants until our body says, “NO MORE!” and we crash spectacularly. It is almost like we are looking forward to that giant crash where we vanish for 24-36 hours post productions.

Except that one day, that crash will be rather permanent.

Those cycles of exhaustion do not merely last those 2-3 days when we are filming a movie, doing a production, studying for an exam and so on. We carry the burden and body stress of that cycle with us when it is all over. Our bodies take at least 21 days to reset our metabolisms; thus, that would be the absolute minimum time required to flush all that junk our of our bodies, if our bodies don’t shut down first. Health problems like back aches, kidney problems, liver problems, systemic inflammation…all arise as part of not respecting our bodies in our highest points of stress. Thinking logically, if we are under such huge mental stress, the last thing you want to do it make your body go through stress as well.

Examining the less extremes to just the daily life of those who sleep late, and work 9-5 jobs…those cycles will eventually carry over many years, and at the ripe age of our 30s and 40s, we become ill.

I can go on and on but I still stop. I think we get the idea. Small things can accumulate into big things until whammo! We don’t get sick because we turn 50, we get sick because of the things we did when we were in our 20s and 30s. Take care of that body. We only have one body. There are many other ways to fuel it. I’ll drop a short list here:

  • WATER – Hydrates the brain! Also the body. We often mistake dehydration for cravings/hunger.
  • Nuts – Good fat. If you’re going to be eating chips and getting all that fried oil, you might as well be eating nuts.
  • Fruit – Sugars, but far better than refined sugar, and you get nutrients and fibre too.
  • Tea – If you need a bit of caffeine, green tea. But herbals are fantastic because you get some flavour and it’s more hydrating and detoxifying.
  • Protein bars – Look for ones without refined sugar. I like Genuine Health, Vega, or Simply Bar. They provide a quality snack and the protein keeps you fuller longer. I wouldn’t eat more than 2 a day though. Many protein bars have too many sugars…and it’s still a processed food.
  • VEGETABLES – Like water, this should speak for itself. Rich in nutrients, fibre, water and…well…c’mon it’s a vegetable!
  • Vitamin C or Electrolyte Drink – I take Emergen-C, or my MAX multivitamin. Powder to liquid supplementation is always best because your body absorbs it right away, and it gives you a healthy boost of energy and providing the nutrients your liver desperately needs under high stress.
  • CLEAN energy drink – if you REALLY need one, only then do I recommend taking an energy drink, and I would get one without refined caffeine as their energy source. There was one I took years ago but I cannot remember the name anymore sadly. The one I currently take is MAX ATP, which is a clean cellular energy. It doesn’t spike the body as much as eliminate fatigue, which is awesome.

    Getting happy! It's almost spring! Shed that winter fluff!

In a nutshell, break that cycle! You do not want it carry over into years.

I really feel I am making headway with my body transformation. My clothes are looser on me, and I recently did an audition video in short sleeves. I’m usually very, very self conscious of the size of my arms, but when I saw the video, I was taken aback by the definition on them. I felt very happy. Also, when borrowing my mother’s coat today, I noticed it fit very nicely. I had been hesitant to wear it because I remember how it bulged the last time. Glorious moment!

Career wise? I’m overjoyed at my MC gig…I’m being paid well, and I get to use my voice, which is a fantastic stepping stone towards my superobjective as a voice actor. I had an audition for Young People’s Theatre today, and I think I rocked the audition. Even if I do not land a position (but I think I will! Crossing fingers!), no regrets because I performed my heart out. More auditions to come!

I do not remember if I posted this, but I got officially nominated as one of the Leading Edge Artists Under 25th for the Kitchener Waterloo Arts Awards. I am so honoured by this opportunity and it truly justifies all that I have been working hard for since I changed my career path when I was 16 from becoming an electrical engineer to the arts. I submitted all my supporting paperwork and media last week, and so now it’s in someone’s hands until June. I thank everyone who has helped me on my journey, and supports me til this day.