Tag Archives: exercise

Could it be this easy?

I have been battling knee pain for just about a year.  Basically, as I was recovering from my ankle injury last year, I babied my right ankle and wound up messing up my left knee somewhere in my crash-training-for-a-half thing.  I tried resting it, I tried doing more squats and lunges, and inevitably I would tweak it doing something at home.  Something dumb like mountain climbers.  I’ve run two 5ks since my half last May, and I keep meaning to get around to going to see a doctor or a PT or something.  I did a free injury clinic and the guy was like, “come by my office and I will dry needle you for free!” and I did not because 1.) my follow up isn’t great and 2.) I have no time.

So when one of my best friends asked me about my knee again at Stroller Strides, and I complained that it still is busted, she told me to come over so she could dry needle me (she’s a PT, not a weirdo who just has a house full of needles.)  I said sure, then promptly did not do it.  She bugged me again about it last week, and I was off on Monday and daycare was closed and I really want to do another half this year, so off I went.

She poked at me and then told me to foam roll a LOT more than my current amount of none, and so I did, and then my knee didn’t hurt after our run on Monday and it didn’t hurt after Body Back on Thursday night when we did a lot of running, and it didn’t hurt after Stroller Strides on Saturday.  She made me come over again on Saturday night and recommended I keep foam rollering and told me to come back in a week.

Here I was, convinced that I had some kind of crazy runner’s knee situation and I would need 6-8 weeks of PT and many many clamshell exercises and lunges and squats and other things that are good for your knees.  And it turns out it really is as simple as foam rollering a ridiculous amount and also following through on the dry needling thing.  I’m sure I can also benefit from PT, and I will go if this doesn’t turn out to be a long term solution.

She said something really interesting last night though, which is that for each decade of life that you have, you should do that x10 minutes of stretching, foam roller-ing, or general work to prepare your body to like, be functional. I mean, I don’t have 30 minutes a day to stretch right now, but I think I’m going to try for at least 10.  And it made sense, because I’ve been feeling generally stiffer and less flexible, and I thought it was just a not-going-to-yoga thing, but I do think it’s also an age thing.

So yeah, stretch and like, go see a doctor.  I highly recommend it.  Sometimes things have a simple fix.

 

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All I wanted to do was go to the pool.

Subtitled, a conversation with myself.

Listen, self. All I wanted to do was go to the pool, maybe get a few laps in because it was a gorgeous day.

I didn’t need you to start talking.

“Man, this is the easiest first long swim of the season that you’ve had in years. You’re not choking, you’re not clinging to the side, you haven’t had to do a resting stroke for a lap yet.”

Great. This will make that sprint triathlon I’m registered for a piece of cake.

“What is the swim for that, like, 300? You’ve done that already. See, you’re finishing up your tenth lap right now.”

Yeah, but my knee is totally messed up still whenever I try to run.

“That’s temporary...There is THREE MONTHS between now and October.”

Lalalalala I can’t hear you.

“You’re on your fifteenth lap right now! You’re going to do twenty like it’s nothing. You could definitely be ready for an October 1 race.”

The last international distance one was so much work and so exhausting.

“You were growing a whole other person. Think how easy it will be when you aren’t pregnant!”

I have a child. I don’t have time to train for a race that long.

“SHE LOVES THE BICYCLE.”

Let’s just…let’s just see how the summer goes. If I’m comfortably swimming 30 laps by the end of the summer, we’ll talk about signing up.

“That’s all I’m asking.”

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Body Back

A few friends who follow me on Instagram requested I write a review of Body Back, a program I have been doing through my local Fit4Mom chapter.  It’s a boot camp and meal plan program that meets twice a week for classes and then there is a lot of support during the program. The best part for me is the meal journaling you can do, with instructor feedback.  It’s very helpful to me to know that somebody else is going to be reading what I’m recording, because it helps me make better choices.

It’s also helpful to me to know that somebody else is going to see whether I’m exercising.  Knowing that I need to either put something in the exercise block or leave it blank spurs me to actually do a DVD or a workout or go to a class or walk somewhere I might otherwise drive.

There is a meal plan that comes with the program, and the meal plans are a little bit dated – they recommend low fat cheese, etc. but the portion sizes and the meal suggestions are still pretty good.  It’s a tough program to do if you have to cook for an entire family, which is why the journaling support is so helpful – I don’t worry as much about adhering strictly to the meal plan if I just write down what I’m eating.

There is also a BodyBack DVD. As workout DVDs go, it’s annoying but tolerable and it’s 3 total body workouts and 3 abs workouts. The abs workouts are great and they are only 10 minutes. The total body workouts are also really good workouts and they are only 20ish minutes.  There are modifications on the DVDs as well so its good for a lot of levels.  They work well in a small space (I have about 5 feet by 8 feet in my living room) and you can modify the jumping if you live in an apartment.

You also get a resistance band, since most workouts just involve your band and a mat.  My class is also great – our instructors are fantastic women who are super creative and always come up with interesting workouts. Most classes are either a circuit, a traveling class (where we do four stations around the park), a stationary class with things like runs out from the setup spot, or a “novelty” style class like partner workouts or tabata.  Most of it is bodyweight exercises or it uses a resistance band.

In comparison to my old New Rules of Lifting for Women or Stronglifts 5×5 workouts, Body Back doesn’t feel like it focuses as much on strength training as say, doing squats with a 135 lb barbel.  But right now, where I am in my life and my exercising, this is what I need.  First of all, I need the core help.  My core was wrecked after having a baby.  Building it back up has been hard.  Secondly, I need the cardio.  When I was biking to work and running around the courthouse all day, I was good with just strength training at the gym. But my life now is so much more sedentary – 2 hours a day in the car, etc. so I really need the cadio aspects of these workouts, and the workouts do a great job of picking cardio exercises that are also strength or core exercises (burpees, plank jacks, push ups, etc.)  And most importantly, I need the exercise that I’m doing to be at a regularly scheduled time, walking distance from my house, with people that I like and want to see on a weekly basis.

I think the most important part of any exercise program is to be reminded that your body is so much more than how it looks.  That it is capable of doing amazing, awesome things, and that you should feed it good food that makes you feel good.  Which I really, really, really like about this program.  I didn’t lose as much weight on the last round as I had hoped for, but I developed new and better habits and I’m working towards getting myself to a happy place, both weight and exercise-wise, where I feel like I am strong, capable, and ready for any kind of challenge I want to embark on.

This review is unsolicited and uncompensated.  If you want to check out whether there is a Body Back program near you, you can go to their website for more info.

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First Half After Baby

On Sunday I crossed the finish line at my 8th half, the first one I’ve run since I was pregnant a little over two years ago.  Even without the setback of my foot injury in January, it was a tough road to running this race.  The furthest I had run until March was 6.2 miles in a very difficult 10k last September.  And running long distances just hurt for the first year after having a baby, and I really started to feel like getting back to half marathons and long races would be impossible. But I signed up for my first half anyway, since races motivate me to train and because I wanted to at least try and see how it went and see whether it was achievable.  My husband and my sister also ran it, which was nice because my sister and I were able to stay together for most of the race, and I’m honestly not sure that I would have been able to get through the whole thing on my own.

I get asked a lot why I race. Not why I run, people seem to understand that weight loss and not wanting to die of a heart attack and wanting to be in shape are all valid reasons to exercise and that running is the cheapest method of achieving that. But why do I pay money, wake up really early, and join a thousand strangers to compete in a sport that I will never ever win?

Races are a chance to learn more about myself, to challenge myself and push myself and try to achieve things that I haven’t done before.  All of the things I doubt about myself, all of the mean things I say to myself, all the mean things I ever said to myself, those all disappear on race day.  I focus on myself and what I can achieve and putting one foot ahead of the other.

So what did I learn on Sunday? That muscle memory is powerful.  That my friend E is right, that what matters the most in race training is just time on your feet – I did a lot of walking to train because my running ability was limited.  I learned that physical therapy is amazing.  I learned that running a half marathon is still possible.

Sunday was also mother’s day. And what I found myself thinking about, after my sister and I had separated and I was alone with my thoughts, is what my body has been through since my last half.  My last half was Rock and Roll DC in 2014 and I was fortunate that excessive cardio was the only thing to quell my morning sickness.  Pregnancy finally feels like a distant and uncomfortable memory.  And while I was in it, I had a hard time getting past the discomfort to a place where I could appreciate my body and what it was doing.  But for nearly two years, I grew and nourished and sustained another person who is amazing and that is amazing. And I thought that I would be able to focus on that while I was in it.  And I wasn’t, and that was disappointing to me.  And somehow now, or more specifically, during Miles 11-13, I was able to focus more on how huge motherhood is, and how much I appreciate my body, not just for its ability to grow and sustain an entire whole other human being, but for its ability to allow me to lift her and carry her and jump up and down when she commands me to.  I took a moment to thank my thighs and hips, which frankly, I have recently been berating for still not fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes. My legs and feet, in particular, had done some very serious work to recover from my injury, and I appreciate them for it.

I didn’t set any PRs.  I did come in well under my 2:30 goal, and mostly I met my goal of finishing, but also, the most important part about crossing the finish line is that the me who crosses the finish line gets to rub my accomplishment in the face of past-me who was full of doubt. Because as every amateur athlete knows, the greatest competition is with yourself.

 

 

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And then it’s March.

And then March is nearly over.

I’ve been continuing in PT, continuing to hope to make my goal of running a half-marathon on May 7th, continuing to go to the gym at my office a few times a week.  I’m trying for daily workouts but like all routines, it does eventually start to fall apart.  My husband started running in the mornings so two days a week, I’m watching the kiddo and trying to get us out the door.  I got assigned a ton of new cases in the last week.  Old cases have come back with crazy new problems.  Life goes on, basically, and exercise is often the first thing to go.  Lately, I’ve been fighting really hard to hold on to my new routine and my new habits.

I don’t talk much about work here but work has been challenging lately.  A heavy caseload and a lot of different kinds of cases.  We’ve been short staffed since last fall, and have only finally just hired a new person, with four more vacancies yet to be filled.  I’m struggling not to let my workload interrupt my routine because I know that when I feel like I don’t have time to exercise is when I need to the most.  I get more done, am more focused, and have more capacity for my clients when I’m feeling good.

I hit my two year therapy anniversary this month.  My therapist and I talked about how much progress I’ve made and how much work I have left.  There isn’t really an “end” in sight, but I have goals and I am working towards them and I am in such a better place than I was an anxious puddle sitting in that office two years ago.  I talk openly about therapy at work, with my family, and with my friends.  The more open we all are about our need for mental health help, the better off we will be.

I read this article recently and I talk about it with my therapist.   Self care is important for me, but I hadn’t made the connection that I was basically coming home empty after a full day of caring for other people, social working them, and dealing with their problems.  So I would lose patience with my kid and didn’t have anything left for her, let alone my poor spouse at the end of a long day when all I wanted to do was sit on the couch, not deal with the dishes or our house or anything else.  So I’ve been working on radical self care.  What are the practices I’m stepping up?

  1. Exercise (duh). Particularly my Fit4Moms group where I get to be social about my exercise.
  2. Books on tape. I’ve been listening to audiobooks on my commute constantly and I feel like I’ve been able to tap into my imagination more and have been really excited about books and reading, which has been hard for me. It also gives me space to switch gears really fully after a long day.
  3. Therapy. At one point last year my therapist asked me what kind of self care I was doing (my kid wasn’t sleeping, I was working a lot, I was eating poorly and generally a mess) and I told him, “I come here once a week.” He has a pretty good poker face and he looked horrified.
  4. Mindfulness. I’ve started doing deep breathing exercises when things get to be too much.  It’s hokey but it’s helpful.

Anyone else engaging in radical self care? What do you do?

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Status Report

It is so very easy to forget, I think because sweatpants and the couch are so comfortable, how much better I feel when I exercise.  How much more bearable it is to wade into the trenches and try to fight for my clients, when I’ve been able to get my heart rate up or my arms and legs pumping.  How much better I am at my job when I feel better about myself.  How confident I feel when I know I can do a push up or ten.

And so, over a full week into my new diet and exercise program, I’m making the gym and healthy snacks and drinking more water happen.  As if by magic, my caseload, while still overwhelming, seems manageable and I’m better able to focus at work.  I’m no longer getting into work early, since I’m going to the gym, but when I come in at 9 or 9:30, I’m ready to take on the day.

I’m also making progress at PT and yesterday I got to run on an anti-gravity treadmill.  It was awesome.  They put me in it and had me run on 75% of my body weight.  It felt really good.  My foot was sore later but did better with stretching. I’m supposed to add in calf raises this week, so I’ve been doing them after workouts and when brushing my teeth.

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Get It!

I got the boot off at the beginning of February and after a super-successful PT session on Monday and some stretching, I finally ventured into my office’s gym on Wednesday morning. (In December my office moved to a complex that has a gym. It was very exciting and it took me two months to use it.)

I’m reluctant to call anything a routine before doing it for 3-4 weeks, but yesterday and today I managed to get myself up and out of the house with my kiddo, drop her at daycare, and then get to the gym with enough time to get in a 15-20 minute workout, shower, and head into the office.

Part of me feels like it’s such a huge effort to only get in 15-20 minutes but the rest of me knows that if that’s the only time I have, I will still benefit from workout out for that length of time.  Also, if I’m only exercising lightly for 20 minutes, I don’t need to shower.  Which is good because the hot water doesn’t seem to work in the showers.

I also started, and am dragging my poor spouse along for the ride, a DIY version of 21-Day Fix.  Basically, I borrowed the containers from a friend and figured out my container count on the internet and am cooking food from recipes I found on Pinterest.  I’m not doing the exercises because I’m injured and once I’m back to being able to work out I will be following the half marathon training plan from my training group.  I have not paid for this plan.  If you are also interested in DIYing the plan, you can definitely get the containers on Amazon and download a tracking app or printables and I think it’s still probably a good program.  Mostly I’m learning better moderation and portion sizes, particularly for carbs and how many vegetables I really need a day.

The really cool part is how good I feel.  I don’t mean the “I have so much more energy because I’m not eating gluten!” high that some people get when they are doing Whole 30 or even the “Shakeology is giving me a glow!” that people tell you because they are trying to a) justify the cost to themselves or b) sell it to you.  I mean that I’m feeling good in the, “I am exercising and eating right and I CAN DO THIS AND I AM AWESOME!” superwoman kind of way that I get when I get into a good groove.  I’m moving more. I’m eating food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I haven’t lost any weight yet. And that is discouraging.  Four days in.  But I also know that I have a long range plan here.  Which is to get into a healthier eating and exercise pattern, which will hopefully both help me avoid diabetes and fit into my suits.  I know that the last time I needed to lose this much weight, it took me a full year.  I definitely convinced myself that it should be easier to lose this time because it was “just” baby weight but it turns out that those pounds are just as hard to lose as regular pounds.

Anyway, for now, I’m just going to keep trying to get in 15-20 minutes a day of exercise and to keep up with the container counts and eating more vegetables and protein and less carbs.

What has everyone else been up to while I’ve been on the sidelines?

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2016 – Goals

I do believe in new year’s resolutions.  A new year’s resolution in 2007 started me running and down the path to losing 30lbs.  It led to me discovering all kinds of wonderful things about myself.  A resolution in 2011 to Get a Job led me to two fantastic opportunities that paved the way to better things later.  In 2012 my resolution was to Get A Better Job.  In 2014 my resolution was to Have a Baby and Do an Olympic Distance Triathlon.

So, right now I’m still stubbornly at around the weight I was post-delivery.  So my goal is to kick the baby weight, now that I’m done nursing. I’m signed up for another session of Fit 4 Mom’s Body Back boot camp, which is awesome and includes a meal plan and journaling and feedback on your food journal.

I signed up for a half marathon and a sprint distance triathlon. I signed up for a training plan for the half marathon and I have high hopes of doing the local Masters swim class this summer.

My other main goal is to simply my life. To spend more weekends at home.  To say no more.  We have a toddler now, and our life needs to be more about making sure she is enjoying herself and getting to do things that suit her and challenge her.  None of us is at our best when she is running around a brewery and getting stuck to the floor and my husband is trying to chug a flight of samplers and I’m chasing down the waitress with my credit card to get the check paid ASAP.  We have a few big trips planned, but we have a lot of weekends at home.  We built a deck. We joined our local science museum.  The good thing is, it becomes easier to say no when your child is less portable.  Our daughter has needs.  She wants our attention.  She does not want to linger at a bar for cocktails.  She isn’t happy to sleep in her carrier or nurse at the table anymore.  And people don’t invite you out as much after they see an epic meltdown.  (My in-laws had asked if we’d like to go out to dinner tonight, and we passed, and once they saw our kid have an epic meltdown over the mere existence of her Ikea play tent, they understood why we had opted for takeout.)

Anyone else make goals? Setting limits for themselves this year? What are you going to make happen?

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Postpartum Body

I hoped, postpartum, it wouldn’t be hard to lose the weight. I hoped, postpartum, if things didn’t look how I’d hoped, I could just look at my beautiful baby, sigh, and say it was all worth it.

It’s hard to capture in words just how Done I was being pregnant. I did not enjoy sharing my body with another person. I didn’t feel like I was glowing. For maybe 7 weeks between when I stopped throwing up before the back pain kicked in, things were good and I felt cute and like an adorable pregnant person. For the other 32 weeks I was pregnant, I was uncomfortable. The thing we both looked forward to most was me not being pregnant anymore. I think I commented, leaving the hospital, how nice it was to not be pregnant.

As beautiful as my baby is, as relieved as I am, I’m having a hard time getting used to my body.

I knew things would be different after. But I didn’t know that I needed to buy a new suit jacket. I didn’t understand how much your body is not your own. I didn’t realize how daunting losing the baby weight would feel. How impossible it would feel to fit in exercise. I’m trying to have faith that it gets better, that winter is always hard, and all I can do is the best I can.

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Pregnant Triathlete, Part II

I just finished my second triathlon of this pregnancy, and man, was it harder than the first.  I did the first at the very beginning of my second trimester, and my second at the very beginning of my third.  I hit 28 weeks on Friday, and the race was Sunday.  

I did this race last year, and it’s a fantastic race.  (Druid Hill Park Sprint Tri) So I knew when I signed up (before the January 1 price increase) that even if I was pregnant, I would probably hopefully maybe be able to handle it, as long as I was having a healthy pregnancy, which I fortunately am.  It’s a 300 yard pool swim, an 8 mile bike course, and a 3.1 mile run.  The run is completely flat, around a lake.  The bike course is challenging and hilly.  The swim is in a pool, which actually presents it’s own challenges but does not feel as endless as an open water swim of the same distance.  

When registering for a pool swim, it’s important to gauge your speed accurately.  I was generous with my time and put 2:30 for my 100m swim time.  Based on what my pace has been at the gym lately, I was spot on.  Last year I put 2:00, which was also fairly accurate.  I was passed by a couple of people but I also passed a few folks.  If you are pregnant, you should probably adjust your swim time down a bit – even though swimming is recommended for pregnant women, the reduced lung capacity and general lumbery-ness slows you down.  

I rode my Canondale Quick 3 for the bike course.  My normal road bike is a Giant Avail, but my sister, who did the race with me, has had custody of that since May.  I stopped riding my Canondale to work about a month ago (more on that later), because it was getting too challenging to swing my leg up over the rack to ride to work.  I was concerned about riding it for the race because when I’ve done long rides recently, the angle I have to sit at presses directly on my bladder.  The seat, which is normally very comfortable, was also uncomfortable on my SBR a few weeks ago.  I asked my husband to swap out the seat for a wider one, which helped considerably.  I would recommend a comfort saddle like this one for anyone who is cycling during pregnancy.  (I don’t actually have that one but it looks a lot like the one I do have and it’s nice.)  If you still have saddle discomfort, consider slightly tilting the nose down.

Like I said, the course was hilly.  I did not train hard enough for the hills.  My lungs were working at their capacity and I was having braxton hicks contractions on the steep uphills.  I coasted as much as I could on the downhills to give myself a break, and I didn’t push myself.  One guy that passed me kept cheering me on, which was lovely and was the extra push I needed to finish the bike course.  

The run course was where I felt the crappiest, at least for the first half.  I wore my camelbak hydration pack but forgot to bodyglide my arms.  So of course I started to experience chafing from my arms pumping against the wet straps.  I knew from my run last weekend that following my 2 min run 1 min walk pattern was going to be hard.  So I switched to a 1 min run, 1 min walk pattern.  Even that was too strenuous for the first mile and change – I was still having Braxton Hicks contractions, I was getting round ligament pain, and the chafing on my arms was really burning.  I stopped and walked for about five minutes.  Everytime I tried to run again, something hurt.  So I had a pack of Stinger gels and walked as fast as I could.  At the end of Mile 1, I saw my husband and brother in law on the course and handed off my Camelbak.  Once I did that, I was able to run again – I’m not sure whether it corrected my posture or just not chafing was such a relief, but at that point I picked up and stuck with the 1 min run / 1 min walk intervals.  Everyone was super encouraging and nice to me, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to total strangers when they say, “you are awesome!” So usually I just said “so are you!” or something else like that.  

As I got to the end, I could see where the chute was to the finish, so I took my walk break and gave the baby a quick pep-talk.  We were going to walk until we saw the sign for the chute, and then we were going to sprint.  I did not think this was actually going to work, but it did, and we were able to come flying into the finish line, which I’m pretty proud of – usually I’m so spent from races that I have nothing left at the finish line, but the advantage of being conservative on this one was that I had plenty of legs left, even if I didn’t really have the lung capacity.  Also, the finish was downhill. That helped.  A lot of people congratulated me after the race and asked how I was feeling and commented on how great it was that I was out there.  

I also got to hang out with my tri club for a little bit, which was really nice.  My husband usually crews me for races but I feel like being in the club will make it easier next year when I have to go by myself and leave him at home with the kiddo.  Everyone in the club is really nice and super-supportive.  

My time last year was 1:16:25.  My time this year was closer to 1:35:37. I’m okay with that.  I felt a little uncomfortable with the attention I was getting (I wasn’t even the only pregnant athlete there – I overheard another girl saying she was 16 weeks), because I didn’t sign up for this race because I felt like I wanted to prove anything.  I really just wanted to do it, and I’ll admit that a part of me was curious if I could do it.  But it wasn’t like anyone told me I couldn’t and I needed to prove them wrong.  I will also say that I did not notice any judgmental looks, comments, or implications.  

What I wore: 

– De Soto Carrera Loose Top with Drawstring Waist – I ordered this top before my international tri, and I was so happy with it’s performance, even though it was snugger than I’d thought it would be and I knew I couldn’t wear it for this race, and when I went to review it I realized that De Soto had accidentally shipped me the Sprinter Top and I hadn’t realized it when I received it. I sent them a sheepish email asking if it was at all possible to exchange a used tri top for the one I had wanted and they shipped me the Carrera top right away.  The Medium accommodated the belly really well and also accommodated my increased chest, and although I probably would have been more comfortable in a Large, I will be able to wear the medium post-pregnancy as well.  A+, would highly recommend to any pregnant athlete looking for a good workout top.  

– Under Armour Compression Shorts (5″) – Last weekend, getting pretty desperate for something made of moisture wicking fabric to wear for this race, I hit the Under Armour Outlet. I really wanted these shorts in the longer 7″ version, but they only had the 5″. I bought them in a large, and because the waistband is wide and pretty flexible it was able to fit up and over my belly.  However, when I test rode them yesterday, they rode up quite a bit and so I needed to add gripper elastic to the bottom.  (I ordered 2 yards of Gripper Elastic from Quest Fabrics a month ago to add to my running skirt.)  It was a quick project and made a world of difference – my shorts stayed put and didn’t ride up, bunch, or chafe, and they were long enough to protect my thighs from my bike seat.  

Ultimate Maternity Belt – I’m a pretty comfortable person doing what I need when I need to, but even I was kind of embarassed to be pulling on my support belt before the bike course. However, I can’t run without it, so I sucked it up and put it on.  It stayed put and helped keep things in place for the run.  I actually have mixed feelings on whether it’s that helpful for the bike.  

Tri

 

And yes, I went home and took a nap.  

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