Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How my feet affect my life...

Or possibly, the story of trying to get new shoes.

I have been running in Nike Frees for over a year. I like them, but they're worn out. They cause pain in the arches. All I can guess, is that because I am so flat-footed - any arch support hurts.

It hurts enough that at Crossfit, I will always take off my shoes for the indoor workouts. For lifting weights, I hear varying responses about whether this is a good idea. For me, however, it comes down to the fact that I feel stronger when I can let my feet spread out naturally. Yes, there's always the possibility of dropping something on my foot - but trust me, my Nike Frees weren't going to save me any pain!

This method works fine indoors - but it isn't so great outdoors. In the grass, yes, I can run barefoot easy - but not on pavement. On pavement I get blisters, my feet are in danger of glass and other various things out there, and running in grass puts me in danger of dog poop.

I tried some new shoes the other day. I went into Fit Niche for a fitting, and walked out with their reccomneded shoe after feeling defeated that none of the minimalist shoes will fit me. I walked out with a pair of Saucony Women's Ride 4.

Then, I took them for a test run to Lake Hollingsworth - a nearly 3 mile loop. Within the first 15 minutes of running, however, my feet hurt so bad in the shoes that I ditched them and ran barefoot instead. It was not a simple matter of them not being broken in - it was the arch support in them pushing so hard against my feet combined with their rigid structure not allowing me to land in my preferred method on the balls of my feet.

Annoyed, I took them back to Fit Niche last night. I expressed my frustration, and that those shoes were simply not going to work. We tried some of the New Balance Minmus shoes, but they don't come in wide, and I have unfortunately, very wide feet. I tried the Vibram FiveFingers as well, but my last three toes are too short to make it into the toe pocket! This would leave extra shoe hanging off, likely causing me to trip at some point.

Eventually, the helpful employee brought me a pair of Brooks, which were ironically enough, exactly what my trainer wears and suggested I try.

I did take them for a test run around Lakeside Village, and they seemed alright. We did the exchange, and I took them to Crossfit this morning.

The run was a bit uncomfortable, as new shoes tend to be, but it wasn't extremely painful like my first attempt. It will obviously take some time to break in the new shoes, but I think these will be pretty satisfactory running shoes.

I am still going to take my shoes off for the weights though, because I am still happier barefoot.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Going the Distance

I mentioned in the previous post that I was concerned about my health and had some tests run at my doctor's office. Those results have come in and it seems I have two issues to contend with:

1. I am anemic. I suspected this - I would frequently attempt to donate blood only to be turned away due to low iron, at times my iron would be so low it wouldn't register on the machine. Being anemic is likely the cause of my extreme fatigue at times - for some reason, despite eating plenty of red meats and drinking plenty of red wines, and taking an iron supplment, I just don't seem to absorb it. I have been given a perscription for some iron supplements to take twice a day now. It has some side effects to contend with - mostly in making it difficult to keep food down, but hopefully I will adjust to it soon.

2. I have hypothyroidism. The symptoms listed - depression, fatigue, dry skin, brittle hair and nails and weight gain all fit my perfectly. I was put on a perscription for this as well. I'm due for an ultrasound to find out why it isn't working, but it seems I may be taking this medication for the rest of my life. From the reading I've done on it, the thyroid has a major impact on your metabolism - and if mine isn't working correctly, it may be the reason I'm working so hard and not seeing any results. I am hopeful I can now see the 1-2 lb a week drop I've been working so hard towards!

Although it's clear that some of the things I was fighting were not going to be fixed through diet and exercise (I have been assured by the doctor that nothing I do with my diet will affect my thyroid if it doesn't work), it also isn't a magic wand that is suddenly going to fix me. I will continue to exercise as often as I can, and keep up with eating right - I may well finally see the results I'm looking for. Bear in mind this is not a weight loss pill in any shape or form, and I will be tested again every 6-8 weeks to ensure the dosage is correct and I do not lose weight too quickly.

The constant fatigue may have been caused by the anemia - and I am really hoping this can be corrected, as the fatigue was affecting all areas of my life - work, home, my volunteering, my exercise... It was a constant struggle to find energy that just wasn't there.

I can't say I've seen a difference yet, as I have just recently started the medication. Hopefully, soon, though.

Friday, February 24, 2012

When being tired is more than just a lack of sleep...

Most of my adult life I have skipped out on health insurance. I rarely get ill - occasionally a cold, but nothing I can't handle with over the counter medications.

With my husband now in the military though, I'm able to use TriCare - and since I have it, I'm going to use it.

I went to the doctor for the first time in... years. I mentioned things that have been plaguing me for years - my low iron, frequent headaches, constant fatigue (oh, and apparently my brittle hair and nails are symptoms too), and she ordered up blood work.

I don't know the results of that yet, other than I have 'abnormal' results and will discuss them on Tuesday.

I wonder if those results hold the answer to why I have a severe lack of energy, why I can fall asleep in the middle of a workout if I were to lie down, or why I can sleep for 12 hours and still wake up feeling worn out.

I'm not sure if diet and exercise are enough to get me into shape if I have underlying health issues - but they certainly can't hurt those issues.

The past two days I have been simply so exhausted that I could not find the energy to even get out of bed, let alone survive a workout involving burpees.

I am not sure what's going on, but hopefully I can get answers that may help me on my path to fitness.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Strong is the new sexy.

Today, I went to Crossfit for a workout. I knew today would be a good day - because it contained my favorite exercise - the deadlift.

Today's WOD called for 10-1 reps of deadlifts and push ups. I can deadlift a lot. For some reason, I feel very, very strong in my ability to lift heavy.

The WOD also called for those deadlifts to be at your body weight - and mine is a pretty hefty 195.8 this morning (I weighed in at the gym before I racked up). My previous max was 175 lbs.

I had also injured myself a few weeks ago falling off a box, and I was not sure if my arm could actually support that kind of weight, but I decided I would rack the weight up and try it.

I deadlifted 195 lbs, twice. I could feel a bit more strain than I was comfortable with in my arm, and decided to drop weight to 95 lbs to complete the rest of the WOD - which I then completed in 8:11 and in second place.

I lifted my body weight. Twice. I was elated, I didn't think I would be able to do it so soon.

After the WOD, although tired, I decided... I lifted my body weight of 195 lbs - my personal deadlift goal was 200 lbs. What's 5 more pounds?

I rested for a moment, let my trainers know I was going to attempt it, and racked up the weight.

I lifted 200 lbs. I lifted more than I weigh. I reached a new goal, and I set myself a new max.

Oh, and it was recorded, so enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Good morning, Fran!

This morning, although I had planned on sleeping in (I stayed up a tad too late last night), my puppy decided to headbutt me in the face and tell me he needed to go out. Since I was up, I may as well head into Crossfit.

Arriving at 5:45 in the morning means I am still in a zombie, near vegitative state. I am no where near awake yet. In fact, I could easily curl up on the futon and go right back to sleep - but that's not why I'm there...

Our workouts always include a warm up - in today's case, the warm was as follows:

400 Meter Run (I opted for rowing instead)
25 Body Weight Squats
25 Push-ups (I am using my knees still, especially since I am still recovering from an injury)
25 Sit-ups
400 Meter Run (Again, I opted for rowing)

After the warm up, we proceeded to stretch - and this is about the time I actually start waking up.

Today's workout was Fran. While in general, every work out is a little different, there are a few workouts that have a set program, Fran being one of them.

Fran calls for 21 reps of Thrusters, and 21 Pull ups, followed by 15 reps of each, then 9 reps of each, done for time. For men, the RX on the weight is 95# and for women it is 65#.

In my case, while I can certainly lift the RX, I can not do it 45 times in a row - and definately not while I am still letting my left arm recover after my incident with a box jump.

I choose to lift a smaller bar with no weights - 35#. This allowed me to focus on form and speed and not injure myself furthur - which is just as important to me.

I also can not do a Pull up on my own just yet - I use a large rubber band to slip my foot into. I'm doing considerably better than I ever have before, and I'm sure in a short of amount of time I'll be eliminating the band all together.

For today's WOD, I was able to finish Fran with 35# at 11:48. I know I could have beaten it even faster, but on each of the Thrusters, fully extending my arm was causing a fair amount of pain, and I had a tendency to put the bar back down on occasion instead of blasting through it. I know there are people out there who can finish this in two or three minutes, but I'm not there yet.

I'm working at it though - September 26th was the last time I attempted Fran, and I finished with 35# weight in 12:18. I shaved 30 seconds off my time, even with my arm not fully recovered.

I'm glad I record all of my workout times and weights - it gives me a progress bar to watch other than the Scale or my waist line.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Harder, better, stronger, faster...

I'd like to adopt that as my mantra. Everytime I work out, workout harder, better, stronger, faster.

One more time...


I find music helps me stay motivated. Many times, I find inspiration in songs that probably make no sense to any other human being alive.

Today, I need extra motivation.

I woke up, and feeling quite good about the day - I stepped onto my Scale.

Unfortunately, I have actually gained 1.5 lbs pushing me up to 197.5. Trying not to be discouraged, I also grabbed a tape measure and took measurements for my stomach, wasit, hips, thighs, calves, and biceps - and sadly, the measurement for my stomach went up an inch.

I'd like to say I held it together well, and went on with my day but that isn't the case. This small change actually changed my entire outlook on the day.

I had opted to sleep in an extra hour today because I had gotten home quite late last night rather than going to Crossfit. After checking the Scale this morning, I now regret this choice terribly and I will make up for it by attending the 6 PM class tonight.

The Scale affected my mood this morning. It made me short with the dogs. It made me drive a little more aggressively. It made me short with co-workers and annoyed with things that normally wouldn't bother me in the least.

I feel like it's important to note this, because I'm not perfect. I fail sometimes too, even when I think I'm doing everything right. I don't know if I am, and I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

It's too hard to ask for help at times. I don't mean the actual asking - that's no problem! I mean that everyone gives you a different answer.

My doctor tells me I need to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight. My calorie counter tells me that it's too few, yet at the same time tells me I will gain weight if I eat more than that. Friends in various places are all trying to tell me to do something different. Snack more! Drink more water! Eat less! Don't eat this, eat that!

I really don't know what to do. It's easy to quit. I really want to today, but where will that get me?

For a frame of reference, my current meal plan is as follows:

5 AM Wake up.
6 AM Crossfit. Do not tell me to eat after I wake up. I can not go to Crossfit with food in my belly, or I will have to make use of the puke bucket.
8 AM Get to work, have my first Vi Shape shake with almond milk, as I try to avoid dairy products as much as possible.
10 AM Have a snack. It is usually about 10 almonds, or some greek yogurt, possibly cottage cheese. (I realize this is dairy, but I said try...)
12 PM Lunch. Second Vi shape shake with almond milk.
3 PM Snack. Same options as before, but I try not to eat the same thing twice.
5 PM I go home. I try to make dinner right away and eat as early as possible. I try to keep them small - some protein and veggies when possible. I don't always succeed, but lately it's just chicken breasts and veggies.

I try not to eat after 7 PM. If it's after 7 and I still haven't had dinner - too bad. I'll have to wait until tomorrow. I try to be in bed by 8:30 PM and I don't want to have food in me when I go to sleep.

I've been on this plan for 13 days, as I started the Body by Vi challenge - and in the past 13 days I have gained 4 pounds, and added 1.5 inches. I don't know why.

I can say, however, that I may not continue the challenge. I have already paid for this month - and at $250 a month, it's not worth continuing if it is not working. I feel I had much better, faster results following the Paleo diet, and I may return to that.

There is also the possibility of paying extra to my trainer at Crossfit to help with nutrition, which would still be cheaper than the Body by Vi products.


One last thing - some motivation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I haven't got the time...

Have you ever said that?

I have. I say it a lot. I look at my schedule and I am often wondering how I get everything in my life done.

I work Monday - Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.
On Tuesday nights I teach a puppy obedience class at my local dog club from 6 PM to 7 PM, and then train my own dog from 7 PM to 8 PM.
The first and second Thursday of each month are spent at my dog club at meetings, as well.
I volunteer at various community events - while trying to manage a healthy social life, video games, writing, reading, movies and crafting...

Oh, and my dogs. My three dogs who practically consume my entire being.


It's very easy for me to make the excuse that I don't have time.

And every day, I drag myself out of bed at 5 AM, pull on some clothes and throw in a sloppy pony-tail. I grab the breakfast and lunch I made the night before, I grab the gym bag I put together the night before. I feed my dogs and let them out. I feed my cat and clean the box.

Then, I get in my car and I make it to Crossfit by 6 AM. The WOD (Workout of the Day) ends by 7 AM, giving me enough time to shower, get dressed, and be at work by 8 AM.

Sometimes, I'm exhausted, and I sleep in. Sometimes, I forget to change my alarm clock, and I oversleep.. and sometimes, I make up for it by attending a class at 6 PM.

I make time, because this matters to me. It's important to get up and go. It's not a 'when I have time' kind of thing, because then I'd never have time. It's too easy to find an excuse.

What's your excuse?

Do you find yourself relaxing in the evening with 30 minutes to an hour of TV? Why not spend that 30 minutes to an hour walking instead? Walking burns almost as many calories as jogging!

What about eating healthy?

Do you have time to pack your lunch the night before? What about cooking in bulk on the weekends?

I'm not perfect. I often slip up, get lazy, or sometimes just plain forget. Sometimes I get worn down and need extra rest, and sometimes I hurt myself and have to take things a little slower.

What's important though, is that I don't wait to see if I have time left over. I make time.

No excuses. Move.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Set fire to the rain.

Welcome to.. well, yet another of the thousands upon thousands of fitness blogs out there. How am I different? I don't know... but if I worry too much about whether or not I'm different or original - I'll never get going!

In order to help me write, I feel the need to tell the world a little about myself, so everyone knows my starting point, and why I am doing this.

I'm 26, married, and I have a full-time job at a desk. I'm also bi-polar and I have manic days... and days where I can barely function. So my journey into the realm of fitness is not exactly easy.

My journey really began last year - but I was too embarrased to share it. I was 25 and I had hit my highest weight - 213 lbs. I was so large I wore exclusively large, baggy t-shirts and blue jeans and messy pony tails. I didn't like to go clothes shopping, and I was out of breath after half a flight of stairs.

I hated the way I looked and the way I felt. When I say I hated myself - I mean it. There are days when I locked myself in my room and cried because my clothes were no longer fitting me. I don't know how my husband stayed by my side through all of those horrible episodes - and never once telling me I was anything short of beautiful. I never heard his kind words, though - I was too busy being lost in self-loathing. That self-loathing where I destroyed my own self-esteem (call yourself a fat cow often enough, and you won't be able to belive anything else) and I ate to console myself.

The most damaging thing I tried to do was to learn to love myself at such a large size. I don't mean that larger framed women can't be beautiful - just look at Adele or Queen Latifah or Kirstie Alley, for example. I mean I tried to tell myself that the way I looked was the only self-worth I had. I was so caught up in the way I looked. The way I looked defined how I felt about myself in a way I never thought possible.

Then my husband decided to join the National Guard, and he went to the YMCA and he worked out - a lot. He changed his eating, his snacking, and his habits - and he lost about 50 pounds. He had gone from 240 to 192 to meet the requirements.

I was initially afraid that after losing all of this weight and getting so fit - he wouldn't be interested in me. While that is a completely ridiculous accusation and he would never do such a thing - it was enough of a kick to get me motivated to do something about it.

I started going to the YMCA, and I found an app on my phone called 'MyFitnessPal'. I began obsessing over food and counting calories. It didn't take long for me to drop about 10 pounds this way!

It also didn't take long for me to plateau and get frustrated, either.

After my husband left for Basic Training, I decided to really go for it. No waiting for a New Year's Resolution, no waiting for the first of the month - just GO. So the week he left, I joined my local Crossfit box.

Crossfit is insane. For someone like me who sits at a desk 40 hours a week, my first few months were brutal.

Sit-ups? What's that?
Running? Me?
Squats? I don't even...
Lifting weights? Won't I turn into a huge tomboyish scary woman?

I also began working on my eating habits - and I attempted the Paleo diet for two months. I managed to lose another 10 pounds before my husband graduated Basic Training.

Then I plateaud again. I've actually gained some weight back, I'm sitting around 196 pounds today. Still under 200, but a long, long way from my goal of 135 pounds. I stopped trying to follow Paleo because it is very difficult to maintain (not to mention expensive!). Right now I am trying the 90 Day Body by Vi Challenge. I don't know if this is a fad diet, or if it will work - but I am going to give it a shot. (I am on Day 11, and I'm actually up 2 pounds since I started...)

I am still using MyFitnessPal to track my food, and I also enjoy playing Fitocracy with my friends. I still struggle with bad eating habits, learning to eat healthy, and keeping up with exercise. I'm attending my local Crossfit somewhere around 5 times a week on average. Due to temporary insanity, I have also signed up for The Savage Race.

The goal has also changed - it's no longer about looking like the women on the cover of Cosmo. It's about being healthy. Learning to eat right, taking care of myself, and learning to be strong. It's a long journey ahead, but every little step is a tiny bit closer to the end goal.

I mean, not to brag, but I can deadlift 175 pounds now. When I started, I could hardly move the bar. I still have a lot of body fat on me, but I am more fit than I have been in the past few years and I know that when I reach my goal I will have done it right - through proper diet and exercise.

So that's me. I'm learning to defy gravity, to set fire to the rain. To find beauty in strength, and to love who I am. Gravity be damned, one day I'll fly.