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Tania: Donating Blood While Exercising This Hard? I Should Have Planned Better

The slogan for Canadian Blood Services is "It's In You To Give". I don't have a particularly rare blood type or consider my donation anything special, I just think it's the right thing to do.

The slogan for Canadian Blood Services is "It's In You To Give". I don't have a particularly rare blood type or consider my donation anything special, I just think it's the right thing to do. What I didn't think of, was the impact of donating blood and what the removal of a pint does to your body. This wasn't my first time donating, but it was the first time I was forced to think about how the donation would affect my new lifestyle... I made an appointment and planned ahead: eating iron rich foods in the week leading up to my donation and ensuring I was hydrated.  The finger prick to determine iron counts was good, blood pressure was in check and when I sat down in the donation chair, being hydrated and warm helped me donate blood in less that 9 minutes. This isn't one of my favorite things to do (I'm actually afraid of needles) but my phlebotomist was wonderful and found the vein quickly (not sure if she was just fantastic at what she does or, if the vein is easier to find now that I'm carrying less weight). She advised against heavy lifting with the arm that did the blood donation and to take it very easy on the elliptical watching for dizziness and being light headed. I was escorted to the recovery area and the first of many challenges began.

I was asked what type of juice I wanted to replenish my fluids and had a bit of trouble landing on the apple juice box (I don't drink sugary juices these days).  Then the cookie pushing began. I was asked three different times if I was interested in having a package of cookies. Saying NO to a wonderfully large assortment of cookies spread out in front of you, is a challenge. But I declined and ate the apple slices I'd packed along. I did pick up a couple of cookie packages to check labels (to see if I could have just one) but without a label to count calories or carbs etc., it wasn't happening. I even moved seats when the smell of an Oreo almost got the better of me. I left the donation clinic intoxicated by the smell of cookies, having done my good deed, anxious to get home to my spinach/ham omelette and a workout.

When I got home, I could already feel an abnormal depletion of energy (these days I usually only feel that tired after a workout at the gym). As my energy levels continued to drop, I realized that a cardio workout wasn't going to happen. That was really difficult for me. I like the adrenaline that comes with my workouts and I thrive on the routine. But I have learned to listen to my body and it would have been foolish to try a workout when I'm down a pint of blood that carries oxygen to all the necessary parts of my body. So I relaxed a bit and gave into an evening of light stretching.

The following night at my workout with Dana (night two of four scheduled workouts this week at Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre), I struggled and was incredibly frustrated. I wasn't feeling myself and my energy levels were really low. I talked with Dana, she amended the workout and explained what donating blood does to a body.  She realigned my expectations and helped me to be less frustrated. The following night (again at JDF) I had a bit more energy and then Friday night, I felt more like myself and had a blast doing a TRX workout (with a good friend I'd invited along for the challenge). I'm feeling much more like myself and have a busy weekend planned with plenty of activity.

Donating blood is a wonderful thing to do but next time, I'll plan a bit better with rest days immediately following my appointment. A cookie or two isn't going to hurt me, but I don't want to give in to sugar cravings when I don't have to. I'd rather save up for something I'm really craving on my free meal day!