The Disease That Only Affects Stand Up Paddlers & What To Do About It

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jodelle and freinds supingStand up paddling is a fun, fit way to stay in shape, and get outside. But perhaps you haven’t yet heard of the incurable disease that lurks just beyond every stroke of your paddle. I’ve seen it take over the lives of many SUP new-comers as well as seasoned paddlers. It can happen over time, or it can happen the minute you set foot on the board. It’s something not to be taken lightly, as it will greatly impact the rest of your life, and possibly even those around you. How have I come to understand this detrimental disease? Because I myself suffer from it, and am reminded of it it everyday. It’s called “Stand-up-paddle-itis”.

For me, I contracted it the moment I first stood up on a SUP in Waikiki beach, HI. I set foot on that board, in the middle of the waves and the sunshine and something unforgettable happened. A symphony of brain chemicals washed over me, a surreal, electric smile spread not only across my face, but also within every muscle of my standing body; and my eyes reached a new space and time of being wide open. Dopamine, one of our “feel good” neurotransmitters, shot through me like bullet. A rush of adrenaline flushed through my every cell. Electric neurons, protons, and nerve impulses began to change my entire being and I felt it instantaneously. I knew my life would never be the same, apart from Stand Up Paddling.

bic sup board on lakeIn that instant, I contracted “Stand-up-paddle-itis” and have come to the understanding that while there is no cure for this life-changing condition, there is a treatment and there is hope. The treatment, and the only true relief you get from this debilitating disease is to get out there and paddle, paddle, paddle and then paddle some more. To be on the water, in the sunshine, standing tall and noble, and sensing that pure euphoria that only SUP brings, and paddling is the only way one ever doesn’t feel the effects of “Stand-up-paddle-itis”.

As a professional stand up paddle instructor, I see it happen every day in my stand up paddle lessons. I see the electrifying symphony of cellular change as each of my new recruits steps foot on the board. As that smile intensifies across their face and their eyes brighten, I shake my head in disbelief that yet another soul has contracted this “paddle pathosis”.

Some however, this condition lays dormant in their system, even after they have paddled 2-3 times, and then suddenly I get the phone call, “Jodelle, where can I get a board? I’m dying to paddle! I have to get out there. I just can’t get enough of it! I didn’t realize I could love something so much!” I use my words to soothe them and get them the vital information of how to seek treatment and find a board of their own and soon, although they can’t stop the contamination of the soul by the sport of SUP itself, they can treat the symptoms.

jodelle on top of car and supAgain, there is hope. It’s quite literally becoming a worldwide epidemic. All over the news, and internet, the sport of SUP is infiltrating the body and soul and spirit of thousands of new individuals everyday. My theory is if you are reading this, as a Standup Journal enthusiast, chances are you have already picked up this virus and are feeling the systemic symptoms daily. What are the symptoms of “Stand-up-paddle-itis”? To answer that question, you need to fully first understand what the condition actually is.

Obviously we know what “Stand-up-paddle” is, and the suffix “-itis” is defined as inflammation. Essentially, once you attempt to SUP, your body, mind and spirit is inflamed with an innate need to do more and more and more. You brain screams for the euphoric high of The Disease That Only Effects Stand Up Paddlers & What To Do About It the dopamine and adrenaline release. Your body goes into “rest and digest” and begins calming down the nervous system, creating a chronic craving for more calm, more happiness, more paddle fun.

Your perhaps, life-less, stressed spirit is re-purposed and re-passioned after a longing it didn’t even know existed outside of your desk, or your todo list. “Stand-up-paddle-itis” is inflammation of your core existence to get outside, to get fresh air, to paddle, and to stand.

To understand further, here are symptoms related to “Stand-up-paddle-itis”:

  1. A constant craving to paddle
  2. Persistent daydreams about paddling and places to paddle
  3. Night visions and dreams about paddling
  4. Trouble concentrating due to the mind so absorbed with all things SUP
  5. Obsessive compulsive behaviors about saving money for a SUP
  6. Dominating conversations with friends all about your recent SUP experience
  7. Reliving your first SUP experience over and over in your brain
  8. Unfulfilled by normal daily tasks that don’t measure up to SUP
  9. Anxiety caused by going more than 2-3 days without paddling
  10. insomnia and sleepless nights waiting for morning so you can paddle
  11. depression setting in when going more than several months without paddling
  12. low vitamin D from limited outdoor sun exposure on a SUP

…and there is many more symptoms, but these are the most typically seen in my practice, (and in my own issues with the condition.) The sad fact is that many individuals let their “Stand-up-paddle-itis” go untreated. While they would love to purchase their own board, or attend the weekly tours and classes, life and finances sometimes can get in the way. However, you should know that if it is left untreated, it can have very negative effects on your life and your daily habits.

Here are 6 ways “Stand-up-paddle-itis” can destroy someone’s life when paddling is not occurring as often as it should:

  1. Work suffers as the individual is so focused on their next SUP “fix” that they can’t keep focused on their essential work-related tasks. Moreover, the inflammation overtakes the brain and thought patterns, that make any other thoughts out of the question.
  2. Relationships suffer due to the sick individual being unable to form conversation that is not SUP related, and due to the significant other/others being jealous about the individuals need to leave them and go paddle. (Remember, people who have not yet contracted “SUP-itis” can’t understand your symptoms, so please don’t be angry with them.”
  3. Driving daily can be impaired as the individual sees and open water-way of some sort and longs to be on it. (Be advised, there is hope, as I will be giving remedies below of what to do when you can’t get to water.)
  4. Metabolism can slow as the individual forgets to eat when their hunger signals are confused by the constant craving for SUP. As sleepless nights and insomnia take over, with the individual unable to shut down the need for SUP, the thyroid begins to slow metabolic function even further. This can cause weight gain, low moods, and trouble regulating appetite.
  5. Food, alcohol, and other “pleasure-inducing” compounds can take temporary placement of the SUP craving, and temporarily mask the symptoms of SUP-itis, but The Disease That Only Effects Stand Up Paddlers & What To Do About It typically leave the individual hungover, or full, or even in worse condition once the fog of “masked symptoms” lifts.
  6. Obsessive-compulsive-ness can and sometimes does lead the individual to sell many important items such as exercise equipment, clothing, cars pets, spouses, and even their favorite set of conga drums to be able to purchase a board and finally conquer the cravings. (Man, I miss those drums, but I don’t regret it!)

jodelle chiling on her boardThese are just some of the issues surrounding how “SUP-itis” can and will take over your life. But, like I said, there is hope, and there is help. You are not alone. And once this epidemic is more widely known, we can all begin to SUPport eachother in a movement towards chronic treatment, rather than chronic cravings. Most likely there will never be a cure for “SUP-itis” in our lifetime, because that would mean we have been freed from the need to paddle (and honestly, who even wants that), there is ways to treat the aforementioned symptoms and get help before “SUP-itis” destroys your life.

In a perfect world, we would all have a board, and we would all paddle everyday to keep symptoms from taking over our existence, but sadly with weather, swells, working long hours, and the need to take care of family responsibilities as well as spend quality time with those we love, it’s not always possible to get treatment just from paddling.

Yet, fret not, my “SUP-itis” inquirers.

For I have here my Top 10 Treatments you can implement today to start getting relief a part from paddling:

  1. Talk therapy. Talk with someone else suffering “SUP-itis” and suffering from not being able to paddle to be validated and understood. Sometimes just venting your frustration about the cold temps, the crazy wind, or the overtime at work that’s been preventing you from getting out there, can ease the symptoms. Not only will you be helping yourself, but most likely helping other other person as well!
  2. Set aside specific day-dreaming time. Plan your day accordingly and pencil that time of day when you plan to sit and think of all the new spots you plan to check out and paddle, or the new SUP you are saving money for. A great time for this is while taking your morning “bowel movement” as it can really relax your bowels to think on the pleasure that SUP brings.
  3. Journal before bed. Write down those anxious thoughts about why you can’t paddle tomorrow, or how much longer it’s going to be before you get your board, or before the ice on your local waterway melts. Journaling is a great release of emotions and a fantastic practice to get into to avoid lashing out at the world, when SUP just isn’t happening.
  4. Play make believe. Remember when you were a kid and you would pretend you were a pirate on the high seas, but you were standing on the couch? Or you pretended you were a mermaid swimming through the ocean with dolphins by your side, yet you were really splashing in the bathtub with your baby brother (speaking again from personal experience)? Who says you still can’t play make believe. Stand on a high chair, and play the sound of a metronome and work on your stroke technique. Place outdoor chair cushions underneath your board and play with your “reach and grab” technique with your paddle. Practice SUP yoga, on your yoga mat pretending it’s a very unstable surface. You are never to old to use your imagination and it will will keep you young.
  5. Train like a SUP-er star! Check out my SUP yoga and fitness videos and just begin to watch them and learn new tips, exercises, and fun moves to try once you do get The Disease That Only Effects Stand Up Paddlers & What To Do About It out there. Visit Stand Up Paddling TV on youtube and perhaps use tip #4 from above and utilize a mat to try the moves at home before setting out on the water to try them.
  6. Wear SUP gear. Sometimes, just for fun I’ll wear my favorite SUP line of clothing and SUP-cessories as kind of a “security blanket” to tide me over until I can get out there. Just the act of prancing around in your favorite SUP clothing, can let the world know, “Hey, I have SUP-itis”, and I’m okay with that.”
  7. If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic SUP-porter. That means, maybe others around you have boards, or aren’t injured, or can go race, or paddle, and for whatever reason, you can’t. Now is your time to live vicariously through them. Build them up, encourage them, carry their stuff to the race start-line, and maybe even help ‘em pull their wetsuit on. Remember, this too shall pass, and someday the wetsuit bootie may be on the other foot so to speak, and they will do the same for you! Another way to be an athletic SUP-porter is to join a local paddle community, or an association you believe in, like the SUPIA, or SUPAA, so that you get your jollies, staying in the loop of what’s going on in the SUP world.
  8. Speaking of getting your jollies….spend free time researching SUP blogs, SUP inspirational posts and podcasts full of information to keep your cravings away and keep you SUP-stoked for what’s to come. Check out my SUP Audio Workout podcasts on Itunes called “Get Fit with Jodelle on the water” which you can do on land when you can’t be on the water! All you need is a mat, and your body! Other great blogs that I love? Anything by Dave Kalama, and of course any content put out by Standup Journal.
  9. Become a fair-weather friend. If you have a friend who has a SUP, really begin to invest a lot of attention into that person. Buy them things, shine up their paddle, ask them questions about SUP to make them feel as if they were your SUP guru, and then eventually see if you can borrow their SUP. Brown-nosing and butt-kissing is quite essential here so if that’s not part of your nature, you may want to practice first before attempting.
  10. And finally, subscribe to Standup Journal. The mind-blowing pictures, the exotic destinations, the valid SUP instruction and information will keep you going through those really hard moments of detoxing a part from being on your SUP. Whether you get your subscription digitally like I have on my Ipad, or subscribe to the full in your hands lovely, thick rich magazine itself (perfect for that bathroom day-dreaming time you have set aside), the calm and “serenity now” will overcome until you set foot on the water again.

Now you have all the information necessary to help yourself begin to feel balanced, nourished, on track with daily tasks. If you follow these suggestions here, life can and will once again become manageable even with the “Stand-up-paddle-itis.” Yes, we are powerless when it comes to a cure, but not when it comes to staying sane out of the water. You can live and function with this condition, and I’m living proof. The Disease That Only Effects Stand Up Paddlers & What To Do About It

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Fitness Host for SUP TV, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, PaddleFit Coach Training Instructor, & Certified Nutrition Coach.

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