Monday, November 04, 2013
BLC has weekend challenges. This weekend includes a requirement to exercise in a silly manner.
Here's my silliness.
I had TWO dreams last night in which my standard poodle, Solly, took his usual minute or two to finish inspecting whatever was fascinating him before he came when called. The poor dog came to a bad end and I woke up panicking both times.
Solly should come when he's called. So this morning, I sliced a banana and put the slices on two plates - one all clean and one with liver juice on it. I took my family (hubby and two dogs) outside to the front porch. I gave my husband a fork for each plate so his hands didn't get dirty. I asked him to call me to come to him first and tell me to sit, then give me a piece of clean (not liver soaked!) banana.
I took the dogs under the walnut tree and waited. Hubby called, "Mommy, come!" I ran helter-skelter as fast as I could, wagging my tail and looking happy to be called. I plopped into a sit the second he asked. I got a banana slice and a pet on the head for reward. I wagged my tail some more to show happiness. Then I ran back to where the dogs were. He called me again and ordered me to lie down!
Hubby had me run to him 3 times before he started calling the dogs and me more or less alternately. The poodle immediately understood the rules of the game, including that he had to go back and wait quietly. The Boston had to be dragged back and held firmly. He kept trying to steal the entire plate of banana in liver juice.
My husband clearly enjoyed having me obey him so quickly. He made sure I did a lot more running, sitting and lying down than the dogs did. Maybe he thought my training needed some work, too?
The poodle did a little extracurricular running - laps around the tree and all around the yard, slapping his big front feet down on the ground like a puppy - because he was so happy we were playing with him!
I had to dress and leave for work, so I couldn't continue the game today, but even if I had to obey my husband, it was rather fun. Maybe we'll do it some more tomorrow.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Today my husband and I went to a new Sports Authority that opened in our rather underpopulated county. We were surprised it was even built since we already have another sports store. A tall young brunette swooped on us before we got 3 feet in the door and introduced herself by name, telling us not to hesitate even ONE SECOND before coming to her for advice or questions. "She's on commission," I muttered to my husband. He nodded.
We walked around the corner, looking at the clothes. We weren't shopping for anything in particular, having just bought shoes for me and a singlet and weight belt for my husband, who is entering a competition next month. A young man pounced on us, asking us if we needed help finding anything. He followed us about 30 feet before he was convinced by my repeated "back off" looks to actually back off.
By the time we'd rounded another corner, we'd been accosted by two more young men. I looked at my husband and muttered, "If one more comes my way, can I give him the full treatment?" He laughed. We agreed that he would take the female salespeople and I would take the men. Since we know the security guard, we figured the police would not be called.
In our giggly revenge we noted that none of the salespeople were over the age of 20. They would no doubt die of absolute shame to have gray haired people like us stripping off our outerwear in the aisle while asking to be helped with various supportive devices. I was going to tell my young male that my boobs bounced too dang much anymore when I went running and could he please look at the tag on the sports bra I was wearing right now because silly old me, I forgot my size! Then I'd turn around and lift up my shirt enough for him to see the tag in back, but not enough to actually expose myself. If he hesitated, I'd remind that he was following me around the store offering to help me.
Would I actually do such a thing? I've done such things before. But today, by the time we were done debating whether my husband should ask about male supportive devices - or since he's a fairly public figure, had better play it safe and ask for stock market advice instead - we had reached the front of the store. We tipped our hats to the security guard, made a lame joke about whether or not he was allowed to let us leave without buying anything, and left.
Friday, October 25, 2013
I spent 4 days heading out of town, being out of town and coming back to town with my mother in order to visit her terminally ill sister. I did a lot of thinking on this trip.
My mother recently confided to me that she did not marry well if she wanted to predict the health of her future offspring. 52 years after she made that choice, it's a little late to be sorry... and well, heck... neither my brother nor I would be here if she'd married someone else, would we? But she was warning us to be very, very careful.
Yes, we must be careful. And no, we cannot do anything about our genes. But I have realized that not only are there things I can control, but that I can feel really good about these areas of control.
We can control what we eat. We had been wanting to go to a fine restaurant. Time, not good intentions, prevented that, but I am very glad because we both would have eaten things that two women on low-sodium diets can't have. My mother would have willingly gone through a fast-food drive through, but I went to Safeway twice and brought fruits, vegetables, a chicken, cheese for her, hummus for me and whole grain bread back to the hotel room. We never ate anything but Safeway food the whole time we were gone. It was plenty of food and it was healthy. I got to check off that I ate all the freggies of the rainbow on my BLC weekend challenge! I also stayed well within my calorie range the entire weekend and posted a small loss on Wednesday.
I can exercise. I hurt my ankle and my IT band, so I upped my strength training. It is very important to me to keep my cardiorespiratory fitness up, so I have not stopped running entirely. Instead, I am running half a mile or a mile as a warm up. Then I do kettlebell, dumbbell or barbell workouts with no rest time between sets. I definitely feel not only my muscles, but also my heart - another muscle, after all - working.
While I was out of town, I looked at my family around me. My mother is 26 years older than I am. It is not so hard for me to remember 26 years in the past, so I can now think 26 years into the future. Do I want to be in such poor health? Or deceased, like my father? Or as ill as my aunt? My cousin, the same age as me, with similar body aches and pains, is heavier and hurts so badly she spent most of the weekend on ice packs. I wanted to tell her (and wish I did) how my pain lessened once I started exercising and losing weight. I have to admit I was afraid to have so personal a conversation with someone I haven't seen in years.
I did advise her on physical therapy and a podiatrist. My orthotics, which help me stand straight (I have one short leg) have indeed helped quite a bit with my back pain. (She also has one short leg.) What a simple help that was! And a good physical therapist helped me not only learn helpful exercises, but also helped me get insurance coverage for a traction machine. I bought an inversion table on my own. Again - why did I wait? Yes, these were expensive, but was saving money worth being in pain? It was not.
I am hoping just watching me in action was a motivator for everyone. Two years ago they saw me as a fat girl, but I have slimmed down and gotten stronger. I was even able to pick my aunt up after she fell. She is my height and weighs about what I do! This felt like a major victory to me.
There are so many things all of us who feel cursed by bad genes CAN do. Instead of sitting around popping chocolates into our mouths and griping about our hearts, our lungs, our knees, or whatever else is making us feel fat and sick and ugly and hurting... we must think: what can we do TODAY, TOMORROW and EVERY WEEK from here on out, for the rest of our lives? What can we do to motivate our loved ones to join our journeys with us?
I'd like to welcome you to join me on the path to being our healthiest, happiest, and most pain-free possible selves!
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
When I joined BLC22 I had grand ideas of losing 2 pounds a week, which just didn't happen. I did also plan to even out my arm strength, which did. For those who don't know me, I have disc damage, which causes nerve compression. I modify a lot of the strength training assignments, but I always do something. The result is - two arms that look almost matched, even if I still can't make a left arm bicep. And I can almost lift the same amount of weight for the same amount of reps. In general, even though I lost very little weight, I look more toned.
My thighs didn't seem to get the memo that they were supposed to be involved in the last BLC round.
When I sit down, I can still grab a hunk of inner knee flesh with my hand. If I also grab a hunk of upper thigh flesh and work both hunks for a minute or two, I can start a wave of fat rolling across my thigh. (I know, I know - you want to sit next to me at the next party, huh?!?) At least since I've lost 20 pounds, this grand show is not as easy to do as it used to be. But I do not want to be able to perform any fat magic tricks anymore!
I'd like to look like a runner in my running skirt - not like a wanna be runner who doesn't wear shorts because she's afraid someone might see her thighs rubbing together.
This is my goal for BLC23. I'd like to lose some weight, too, but this time I'll be reasonable and shoot for 6 pounds.
And of course, if I achieve the body I want one of these days, someone needs to get me to reprogram my head so I stop finding ways to make a circus sideshow out of myself.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
I've been eating up running books like they are candy. Why? I suppose because I was born broken and became broken-er and never really liked exercising before. Then I found running. I am still broken. But I am motivated to overcome the issues I can and ignore or tolerate those I can't because running is what I like to do. Despite the fact that I suck at it. I am slow, loping along at a pace my lungs can handle, a 10 minute mile most days, sometimes less.
I haven't signed up for any more races. The last race included many paved and bark path hills and a steep sand dune hill (up and down). The hills did not hurt in the least at the time, but I also was working clinical rotations with 6 hours of standing on my feet. Within two days, I was wondering if the next race would injure me so I couldn't even work. I didn't understand this since leg pain has not been an issue before. Running itself has never hurt, only standing at work. And since I live in Oregon, I run small hills all the time. I even live on a mountain shelf (well, my mother refuses to call it a mountain because it rarely gets more than a dusting of snow but it DOES go almost straight up, dizzyingly) and trudge up it now and then to check fences or just for the peace and quiet of looking down on my ant-sized car and house below.
I knew for years that my right leg was much longer than the left. When it got to be really hot outside, I started running on the treadmill and couldn't stand to listen to myself, so I put a drugstore shoe insert inside my left shoe. It was only 1/8" deep, but I sounded better... and had less lower back and hip pain. Hmmmmm, I thought. This obviously isn't the cause of my upper spinal issues, but maybe my leg length difference is compressing some lumbar nerves. So I got a thicker drugstore orthotic and tried that. The clip CLOP sound was not only gone, but so was about 50% of my lumbar and hip pain - as long as I was wearing those shoes. So I bought more inserts, threw away all the right feet and stuck them in all my left shoes. Now I have to remind myself not to go around barefoot anymore. Pretty soon even my right knee which has a torn meniscus, was feeling better, no doubt because it no longer had to travel so much more than the left leg, because I'd lessened the leg length difference with the shoe inserts.
But that didn't solve the other problems, the ones caused by the combination of sand dune plus clinicals... suddenly my right ankle was severely swollen right ankle by the end of every day. I had inverted (sprained by turning outwards) this ankle repeatedly in the past but not recently. This foot has always been oddly flexible, like a ballerina's. Meanwhile, my left foot has started to creak and crack with arthritis. I had Achilles tendon pain in both legs and IT band pain in my right leg. Where were all these pains coming from?
I used to be an anatomy tutor. So I got running and sports injury and anatomy books wherever I could find them - the thrift store, the library and Amazon. I started putting together a program for recovery.
Basically, I limit impact on my feet. I use an Arc Trainer for warm ups. This is like an elliptical, but you can dial the incline down to zero. I "jog" for 5 minutes, then "run" on it, moving at 150 or more strides per minute for at least 1.6 miles. I usually try to stay un-bored long enough to do 2 or more miles. Then I move to the treadmill or the track to do "speed" work. (A "jog" to other runners, I am sure.) Or I stretch and do strength training.
One book - Running Anatomy by Joe Puleo - really stands out of the literally 2 dozen or so I've gotten for helping me in formulating a training plan. It covers the whole body and shows why certain strength, stretch and plyometric exercises are helpful.
I made an appointment for the only sports podiatrist in Roseburg - Cordell Smith. He is a marathoner and is fabulous. When I said "I have pain from the lateral malleolus to the fifth metatarsal base but am edematous primarily at the calcaneous", he respected my knowledge and listened. He didn't blow me off as someone who memorized something off the internet. We talked about previous history, leg length difference, and that I hoped that orthotics with inversion prevention and that a heel lift for the left shoe would help me with ankle pain and my IT band pain. I brought in an assortment of shoes - my trail runners, my gym shoes and two pairs of walking shoes. My right shoes all show an "under-pronator" wear pattern, bordering on supination. My left shoes show under-pronation, no supination. He measured my leg length difference and came up with 3 cm - more than an inch.
I always knew I was a twisted chick!
We looked at the x-rays together. No broken bones, not even in the past, which somewhat surprised me. A couple of those sprains felt pretty bad. I have a bone spur at the superior edge of each heel, at the insertion for the Achilles tendon - and the spurs are long and sharp, like upholstery tacks. So that is the source of my pain. Why did the pain start suddenly? The sand dune hill, no doubt, because my calf muscles are not balanced in strength. (This is my theory, not his. I think I need to strengthen the soleus.) Bone spurs are surgically removed as a last resort. Also, the sand dune, not being at all firm, encouraged my right ankle to supinate.
He showed me the insertion points for the tendons of the Peroneal Longus and Brevis, which tuck behind the lateral malleolus and insert at the 5th metatarsal - my pain sites exactly. He said that orthotics with extra support on the lateral footbed will help with the ankle roll/supination problem. The x-ray was not clear enough to show if there were any small tears in the tendons.
He pressed my feet into some dusty pink styrofoam stuff to make molds. I frankly doubted it was as accurate as previous casting materials, but he showed me that you could see I had three arches in my right foot - a medial arch, a lateral arch and a metatarsal arch. He said hardly anyone has an lateral arch. Meanwhile, my poor left foot casting looked like a blob. I had to admit the pink dust caught more detail than I thought. The technicians don't need the details of my foot wrinkles. They are not going to read my fortune off these castings.
The diagnosis for insurance? Peroneal tendonitis. The cost of my orthotics? Depends on how much insurance plans to cover. Could be as much as $425 for the first pair.
My personal plans to strengthen the ankle? There are a lot of exercises in the running injury books - mostly using exercise bands and moving the foot around. These are also freely available on the internet. Also recommended are drawing circles with the big toe.
According to Running Anatomy, heel raises with weights (dumbbells or a machine) will exercise the peroneus brevis as one of the secondary muscles. This is the only book I've seen that also gives the recommendation that I remember from my favorite anatomy teacher.
Bryan Nichols at Lane Community College told us that when he was working in sports medicine, he was hired as a consultant to University of Oregon's football team - the Ducks. Everyone in town loves the Ducks so the class listened with rapt attention. The coach was concerned with how many ankle injuries the team was suffering. These fellows were strong and fast from a secret program of explosive plyometric exercises. However, somehow their ankles kept bringing them to the ground. The coach wanted to know what kind of weight training program would strengthen them.
Brian's answer was to have them stand on one leg, hold their arms out to the side and shut their eyes. We giggled because it sounded so easy and he made us stand up and do it. Then he had us switch legs. A lot of us could stand reasonably long on one leg, but not on the other. We wobbled like drunks.
So part of my rehab will be to train my proprioceptive balance. Standing on flat feet, on tiptoes, holding one weight and bringing it down to the floor while simultaneously bringing my other leg up behind me. (I already was doing the latter exercise with a kettlebell. I suck at it while standing on either leg. I wobble and put my foot down all the time.)
I have great hopes for the future. I'm sure I'll have another race by Thanksgiving.
P.S. If anyone reading this is just beginning a running career, is having pain issues and is not receiving much help from the medical profession (ugggh - my previous experiences with PT) - I recommend beginning with the books Running Injury Free and Healthy Runners Handbook.
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