Saturday, October 29, 2016

Today is the day!

Today I finally got to go to the gym and work out. 

I am officially medically cleared to exercise again.  Yeah!!!  With conditions, of course.  "Don't over do it!"  "No heavy lifting."

Okay, Doc.  I hear you.

So, let's back track a bit.  I injured my shoulder last spring, re-injured it in September, rode 100 miles on my bike a few days later and seriously inflamed the tendon.  Two weeks ago I had a cortisone shot.  The next day, I had vein ablation surgery on my right leg for my varicose veins.  Last Sunday I woke up, convinced I had a blood clot.  Spent the morning in the e.r.  Diagnosis:  superficial thromboflebitis.

Saw the doctor yesterday and he said I'm good to go.

Yippeee!!!!  I'm so excited!!!!
I forgot  my hair tie and it was super windy yesterday!!!
I thought I would overdo it when I went to the gym, because that sounds like something I would do.  But I didn't.  I kept the weight down.  Focused on form and increased my reps.
I'm more of a free weight lifter.  But my shoulder has to heal fully before I can do much serious lifting, so I'm sticking to machines for my legs.
I started writing this last night and never got back to finishing it...

This morning I am going back to the gym for cardio, core and a Pilates class.  I got a run in this morning.

I am not a runner.  I have no idea if this is a good time for a beginner or not.  I have no idea if I'm wearing the right shoes, if my pace is right or not.  But to me, it's kind of like riding a bike.  Just get out there and do it, learn each time you do it and make adjustments as you go.  What do you think?  

I feel great!!  I do.  I'm so happy to be back at the gym.  I didn't let the restrictions get to me.  The first week I did a lot of walking and hiking.  I had a scare last weekend with the blood clot.  Essentially the veins in my leg are not happy.  It's been quite painful.  This week I took it easy until the doctor cleared me.  Yippee!!!

So, it's 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and I'm heading to the gym to work out.  Have a great day, everyone!

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
What's your favorite form of cardio?  Have you ever been restricted from your favorite activity?  How did you deal with it?

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Plan B

This weekend has been busy, but awesome!

Friday night I helped a couple colleagues get started with a workout plan.  That was fun.
You can do a lot with a little!
Yesterday morning I went hiking in the morning with puppy Leia and my friend Cyndi.  We had a great time at Peaked Mountain.
On our way home, I stopped to take a picture of that church.  It was so pretty with the bright blue sky behind it and the colorful tree in front!
In the afternoon, I went to an Eagle Scout Ceremony for one of the boys that was in my Cub Scout Den back in the day.  I am so proud of him.  Sticking with it is not easy, especially with all the demands on kids to do other things.  Scouting is a commitment and he did it!
Top:  Matthew, Liam (guest of honor), me, Devon and Sean
Bottom:  My den of WEBELOS in about 2008, I think.  Three of them stayed with scouting and went on to become Eagle Scouts.  I am so proud of them!
Then last night my church had a celebratory 20th Anniversary Dinner.  I went with my dad as my date and had a super nice time with him.

Today is somewhat open, but after yesterday's whirlwind, I think I am good with that.

Now that you are up to speed...

I finally have some answers about my shoulder and the pain I have been experiencing.  I have what is called bicep tendinitis.  Yes, it's my shoulder that hurts, but it's the tendon that connects my bicep to my shoulder that is causing all the trouble.  The pain was so bad last week that I called my doctor on Monday.  He said it sounds like tendinitis and ordered an X-Ray and referred me to a specialist.  On Wednesday I had a cortisone shot and was the recipient of a very stern lecture about ceasing all activity that may be contributing to the pain.  Pretty much, this means no more lifting, cardio (that involves moving my arms like an elliptical or running), vacuuming, laundry. or even biking.  His orders?  Rest.  After 1-2 weeks I can start doing my physical therapy exercises again with VERY little weight and VERY low repetitions and I am to cease all activity if I experience pain.  And absolutely NO biking until he clears me to ride again.

I guess that means I'm going to hang up my bike for the season.  :-(
On Thursday I had vein ablation surgery for the varicose veins in my right leg.  It might seem like this is a cosmetic procedure, and to some degree it is.  But my right leg aches every time I am on my feet for a while.  It gets worse at night when it is at rest and decides to throb like crazy.  After consulting a surgeon, I found out that the procedure can prevent future problems, such as venous ulcers.  The procedure was very painful.  I will not lie.  But recovery has been relatively easy.  Doctor's orders: "No lifting or strenuous activity for two weeks."  Oh, okay, isn't that funny that the endocrinologist said the same thing?

So now here I am at Plan B.

It's taken me a little while to swallow the pill, but I'll be honest with you, I'd rather have answers than be up in the air with what's going on.  Now I know.  I have tendinitis, which essentially is an overuse injury.  The only way for it to heal is to rest.  If I am not careful, I can tear the tendon and end up with what they call "Popeye Muscle."  The only way to repair this is with surgery, which they won't do.  So, yeah.  Rest sounds good to me.

I am surprisingly okay with it.  I am.  I can tell you the exact date I can go back to the gym too.

 And when I do go back, I am going to take it super easy.  I will.  I learned a lot from Physical Therapy and I'm going to make good use of what I learned.
As far as my legs go, I'll ease back into them too.  The veins in my right leg are in pretty rough shape, this was only the first treatment.  I don't want to develop complications because I chose to be aggressive with my training.

Yeah, so 25 steps back.  It's okay.

Plan B:  Walk.
I bet the puppies will like all the walks! 

Question for you (answer in the comment section below):
What did you do this weekend?

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Body Beautiful

In August I wrote "The Change Factor."  My intention for this entry was to focus on the internal dialogue we must have with ourselves to make the necessary changes to affect change.  One of my readers commented about body image and the messages we tell ourselves about the way we look.  This is a topic I have been dancing around since I started this blog: body image.
I look so mad!  Just putting my game face on after a good workout.
How does my physical appearance affect the way I think about myself?  How do those feelings affect the internal dialogue I have with myself about my goals, future, abilities, strengths and weaknesses?

My struggle with body image started when I went through puberty.  I hated the overly generous size of my breasts, the width of my thighs and the girth of my hips.  I was never really happy with my hair either.  I couldn't find a style that suited me.  I was genuinely dissatisfied with my appearance and this marked my demeanor.  I was shy too, so this combination wrecked havoc on my self-confidence.  While I have grown up and most people would not characterize me as shy or lacking self-confidence, my perception of myself and my appearance is something with which I still battle.

The next time you take a shower, take a long hard look at your reflection before you get dressed.  If you are genuinely happy with your reflection, you don't need to read this blog entry.  But if you're not, I want you to identify the areas you want to change.   Even today, almost three years after I embarked on this journey towards fitness, there are things about my appearance I would still change.  Yes, I've lost over 80 lbs.  Yes, I wear a size 4-6 pants/ dress.  Yes.  But a lifetime of looking at my reflection in the mirror and never seeing it as good enough, has marked my perception of who I am.  I know I am not alone in this struggle.

Even though I have childbirth scars you can't see too well (trust me, they are there), I think I looked pretty good in this picture.  That said, I have gained several pounds since this was taken and I am disappointed with my appearance.  But this is not where my value is found.
When it comes to our physical appearance and makeup, some things are within our control and some are not.  We can change the color and style of our hair.  With exercise and proper nutrition, we can somewhat control the shape and size of our body.  There are skin treatments to help with acne and dry skin.  But without drastic measures, there are certain features we must learn to accept...the shape of our nose, chin, if we have a full head of hair or are bald, if our breasts are small or overly buxom.  The truth be told, the bottom line is each of us need to accept that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:4

The media does not help at all.  Fashion magazines typically feature airbrushed models who weigh less than I did at age 12.  TV shows geared toward teenagers depict perfectly beautiful girls and boys.  Even the most beautiful woman on the planet can't be perfect, not when a former Miss Universe is characterized as "Miss Piggy."

For me, it's not the media that plays in my head.  Maybe it's because I am 47 years old and I frankly could care less what he, who shall not be named. has to say about the appearance of any woman.  For me, it's what I think about my own appearance.  It's coming to acceptance with myself.  Seeing myself for the gains I've made on this journey.  Accepting my weaknesses and flaws as part of the wonderfully made creation I am.

This is NOT easy to do.  In fact, my shoulder injury in June slowed down my physical training to the point where I have had a brand new internal dialogue about my training and appearance.  I can't do the things I could do six months ago.  I just can't.  And there is nothing I can do to change that right now.  While this has set me back tremendously, my focus has to be on recovery and healing, not on what I can't do.  I can hike and walk, and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.  While I may not feel it, I am strong.  I will work through this and come out on the other side okay.  Better than okay.

Fitness is a continuous journey.  It's not just about how you look.  Don't get me wrong!  I understand the primary reason most people go on a diet is to be thin, not just to be healthy.  I get that.  But to maintain your weight and fitness level, your focus can't be on your appearance alone.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
1 Peter 3-4

Our self-worth and self-image, can't be based on that which is physical.  Whether you are a spiritual person or not, who you are comes from the person inside, who God made you to be.  Whether you are skinny or plump, muscular or not, whether your girth is wide or thin, if you are an "apple" shape or a "pear" shape, none of this matters.  It's how you reflect God, the creator that makes you beautiful inside and out.

This takes a LOT of soul searching to fully accept and I am NOT saying I am there.  Not at all.  Today, at age 40+ something, it's the number on the scale that makes me a little crazy (if I let it).  Even though I wear a size 4-6 pants/dress, I see my legs as thick.  At the gym, I see a roll of flab in my middle and think, "If only I could get rid of that."  This, even after losing 80+ pounds.  But what I should be concerned about is how do I reflect Him?  Am I patient?  Loving? Generous?  Kind?  How do I treat others?
Learn to differentiate between what you look like and how you feel.  Fitness is about feeling good, not just looking good.  Be content with small steps in the right direction.  Learn to accept the things you cannot change.  Refuse to quit.  Be persistent.  Don't allow your inner fears and insecurities to throw you off your game.

Your inner dialogue should NOT be controlled by your appearance.  If you are too curvy or too skinny, if you don't like the size of your breasts or your nose, if you are overweight and feel like you will never lose the weight, if you think you've tried everything and failed... STOP now!!  Start telling yourself you are worth it.  You can't do much about your nose or your breasts.  But you can change your weight.  Expecting immediate results is the biggest mistake, so focus on small goals and encourage yourself daily to stick with it.  I still have to do this, even when a series of bad days makes me feel like I just can't do it anymore.  You are worth it.  You are!

What do you think?

I posted a survey on the blog, asking if you are happy with your appearance.  Between the survey and the private messages, I received a variety of responses.  Most people said they are not happy with their appearance and it was their weight, stomach or legs that they did not like.  A few had some positive things to share.  This was my favorite, from Bridgette:

When I look in the mirror I love what I see.  My body is the product of hours of work and moving lots of heavy things.  I'm at the heaviest I have ever een but I'm also able to DO more things than I ever have.  Would I like to wear a 6?  Sure but my body doesn't maximize activities when it's that size.  I got married last month at 168 lbs. and felt better than I have at 140.  I look at my body and see my competition totals and the future totals I will put up as I progress.  I see a body that will not worry about osteoporosis.  I will have children someday but I don't think that will change my vision of self because I envision my body as the sum of the things I can do.

I want to continue with this theme in future posts.  Stay tuned and come back for more!!

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
What one thing did you like or dislike most about yourself when you were a teenager?  Have you come to grips with that yet?  

Side note:  

On Saturday I shared some personal things I have been going through.  I received several private messages and texts of encouragement.  I wrote this post for two to keep  me accountable  to my own journey and two because I want you to know that I get it...we have problems, life is not all peaches and cream.  Sometimes we fall down. The key is to get back up.  I am doing much better the past couple days.  Thank you to everyone for the love you showed me.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

How long does it take to heal a broken heart?

I've been dealing with internet issues at home lately, so I haven't been able to update my blog.  I am working on posting a new blog entry about body image, but with all the connection problems, it has not been posted yet.  Even as I try to post this, the internet keeps going in and out.  Time to call Comcast.

That said, there have been a lot of things going on and I haven't even been able to update.  I want to start with where I am personally.  I've been going through a tough time for the past several months.  I haven't posted any specifics because it's deeply painful.

Here Without You by 3 Doors Down

Without giving too many details, I can tell you that in June I lost a close friend.  We spoke on Monday and I never heard from her again.  She stopped talking to me completely.  There was no argument or disagreement that I knew about.  I tried to make things right with her, but she never responded.  In July, I got a text message from her saying she was going through some stuff and wanted to catch up, but that was it.  I never talked to her.  We never caught up.  

I can't begin to tell you how badly it hurts.  I never had an easy time making friends.   I don't care how this sounds, but I can honestly say my husband is truly my best friend.

I have friends, don't get me wrong.  But it doesn't come easy for me.  For one reason or another, I have a hard time trusting people.  So, the loss of this friend hit me to the core.  It's been more than four months.  Some days are easier than others.  But the pain is there.  It's  like a constant ache in my chest.  Sometimes I can breathe a little easier than others. Time helps with that, I guess.

When You're Gone by Avril Lavigne

It has affected my fitness journey because I am fighting to care.  Yesterday was a gorgeous day.  All day at work, I said, "I'm going for a bike ride when I get home."  Instead, when I got home, I went to bed.  Slept for two hours.  I proceeded to spend the rest of the night, laying on the couch, watching TV until I went to bed.  Sadness rolling over me like the ocean surges from Hurricane Matthew.  Hurricane Matthew

It doesn't help that my shoulder is still hurting.  I re-injured it, doing cable flys a few weeks ago. 
Image from Women's Health and Fitness
It hasn't been right ever since.  Right now, it is throbbing.  I want to go to the gym and work out, but I'm concerned about my shoulder, so I'm hesitant.  This morning's mission:  CLEAN THIS HOUSE!

Where'd You Go by Fort Minor (feat. Holly Brook and Jonah Matranga

I decided to share this much today because my blog helps to keep me accountable.  How can I write about fitness, nutrition and motivation if I allow myself to be overcome by this?  It is a struggle. 

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia

The silence hurts more than if we had a fight and parted ways.  The friend I used to talk to about things that were going on...from nonsense nothingness to the comings and goings of our day to our insecurities about life and the gone.  And I don't know why.

My pastor asked on the church's Facebook page "Have you ever felt forgotten by God in your pain?" and "What do you do to keep connected to God and others in your pain?"
I sent him my response and shared it during a Sunday morning service.  You can listen to it here, if you really want to:  Evangel Assembly, go to August 21, "When Life Hurts" at 8:02
 and 25:37.

This morning, as I pick myself up from a day of depression and feeling broken-hearted, I must fight the urge to quit.  I need to turn to God and ask Him to help me work through this. The super sad love songs I included here, I really want to replay them over and over. They describe the pain I'm feeling so well.  Instead, I need to listen to happy music that motivates me and Christian songs that uplift me.  I can't dwell on what's wrong and let the waves of depression overcome me.  

When you go through tough times, when you lose a friend or loved one, when your problems seem insurmountable, you really have to reach deep and find your inner strength to keep going.  Giving up cannot be an answer.  It is okay to have a bad day, to feel deeply.  In fact, I think that's what makes us uniquely human.  What is not okay is to let one bad day turn into a pattern.

So my mission today is to get on it!  Even if it means I have to fake it a little...
Happy by Pharrell Williams

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth!!

If these connectivity issues persist, it will be a couple days before I post again, but I do have more to share!
Tough Enough to NOT QUIT!
Happy Day by Tim Hughes

Oh,happy day, happy day, I'll never be the same!  Forever I am changed!

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
What do you do to cheer yourself up when you are down?
What HAPPY thing are you doing today?

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