Monday, February 28, 2011

Simple Tools- Great Workouts!

I've been helping a friend at the Gym, just simple things by transferring what I know to her!

It really is sad when you go to the gym and see many people doing the same thing every time, and it's either really WRONG and you know they're going to hurt themselves or you can see they're bored out of their mind!  This isn't the case for my friend, just what we see on a daily basis! (that and the dude out straight out of "Hot Tub Time Machine" I wonder if he'll ever let us take a picture).

I'm having a ball writing down what I know and creating some workout plans for her.  Not only because now I have them in a written form, but also because so does my friend!

I'm sure I'll have a couple more workouts to write to the blog but thought I'd post these today!

Every time we work out, I want to show her different stuff. There are so many really cool exercises to do that work your muscles.  Not just the same "curls, lunges, run on treadmill"- BORING!  Well,  I felt the need to write about it today because I expanded my own horizons today! I've used the rope before but I can't do too much of it because of my EDS (it will pull my arm and / shoulder out) but most of you can do it no problem!  And my friend can attest that today's workout, even though was ALL DONE WITH A ROPE was a KILLER..

I found this video

This man makes all of this look so easy, let me tell you.. it is not!  Especially that side plank! (we did not try that one). Ok here's what we did:

1 min each x 2
  • Double Wave
  • Single Wave
  • In and Out
  • Upper Cuts
  • Bucket Dump
  • Overhead Press
  • Up and Out
  • Arm Abductions (although I call this one the Flap like a Bat)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Stability ball single leg lift single wave
Then we did some regular ab work (pilates 100, plank, etc).  Good overall workout for your upper body, it hits your triceps, biceps, chest, back, and abs! Not to mention if you keep up the intensity, its a great cardio workout as well!


Here's leg workout that, if done with some intensity, can burn some significant calories! - You need a Bosu, a Kettle bell, & a Step
  • Warmup in the spin room  - 7 minutes, but keep cranking it until you can't keep your 90-100 RPMs anymore
  • 1 leg balance on the bosu 
  • Frog Jumps (25 yards)
  • Kettle Bell Dead Lifts with Jumping Jacks between sets
  • Alternating lunge on Bosu with weights in hand
  • Calf raise on step with weights
  • Step-ups 3 sets (first set with bicep curl, 2nd set with front raise, 3rd set with overhead press).
  • Raise Aerobic step as high as you have or use bench, jump over it! (keep hands on bench if necessary).
  • Sumo Squats on 2 benches holding a weight
  • Jump Squats
  • Wall Sits (keep legs at 90 degrees)
  • Side abs with weights
  • Pilates 100
  • Pliates single leg stregth
  • Plank
  • Side Plank


Friday, February 25, 2011

It really is a Journey!

I've been having a hard time, as you can probably tell!  I think many of us have been having a hard time!  This weather alone has been BRUTAL!  We have a snowbank in the driveway that at the peak was over 5' tall!  Every week it would snow a foot or more.  I love the snow, but there's a point where you have to say, enough is enough.  Especially when the town has to CUT the snowbanks to widen the roads!  I don't live in the tundra, I live in MASSACHUSETTS!

I figured by 2011, I would no longer be a "Triathlon Athena" I would be running distances, I would be swimming with ease and I would have no problem with the bike. Am I delusional? Or does my brain work much faster than my body?  I have to say though, life has thrown me some curve-balls!   I'm 10 pounds HEAVER than I was in September, I gained 30 seconds on my swim lap (not in the GOOD direction), my bike is pathetic, and don't get me started on my run!

I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS); (you can read about in previous posts), and that has made me really focus on strengthening odd muscles instead of focusing on the above. I have zero excuse for gaining 10 pounds!   I go back and fourth on feeling sorry for myself, celebrating the small victories, and then wanting more!   If I take just the EDS factor, I'm a winner, I'm beating my migraines!  25-30 years of fighting almost daily pain! WOOHOO!  I've also discovered that I have a voice in a community that maybe didn't have one.  Most people that have mild EDS don't know they have it, perhaps this is where my journey leads me.....

If I take the weight loss factor.. BIG Loser! - NOT in the good way!  I hate that I'm addicted to stupid foods!  I eat them,, knowing full well that they're bad for me! Pizza is my downfall!  I know what to do, just need that switch in my brain to kick in!  (Shock therapy?, I know I've said it before, but seriously, I think the dog shock collar would be good for me). I get so bored with food, and also I'm SOOO busy!  I commute almost 100 miles a day to work so I eat in the car and who has time to cook when I get home? John is awesome and cooks sometimes but I can't expect him to have a healthy portioned out dinner waiting every night!  Processed frozen foods are ok, but they are so high in salt (see my previous rant on that LOL), and as one who has a family history of heart issues-  I can't really go down that road!  Sometimes I wish I could just hook up that nutrition IV to myself in the car and be done with it!

Pushing my limits!  Yea I'm a goal setter, if you've kept up with me this past year, I keep setting my goals higher and higher!  I set my sights on something and I do it.  I can't NOT do it.  I swear my head would explode.  (I often wonder if that would ACTUALLY happen?).

So far, I'm SOOO damn slow, but I do it.  I set my sights on 7 triathlons last summer including an OLYMPIC distance and I did it!  Not many triathletes, even the competitive ones do that many!  Of course they do it in half the time I do!  I get so much out of each one though.  I have a story about each one, the day isn't about my transition area, kicking someone in the face in the swim, or getting to the finish line first. It's about finishing, again.

I think about each person in the race, I often think "what brought them here? What's their story... "  Seeing Rick and Dick Hoyt compete is amazing, but they're just 2 of the many people with stories, there are so many others out there!  Check out my posts on Oh yea that's why.. or Season Finale  Just two people I met while racing and/or volunteering. They changed me! I get so excited during a race, I just never know who I'm going to meet and what's going to happen!  

I'm an abrasive person, kinda a jerk at times, I don't mean it, it's just who I am. I think it comes with the Type A, Goal Setter, go-getter..  I wish I could change that too, but I think that's also part of this journey!

This year, I have a Half Ironman! 70.3   and the Pan Mass Challenge (193 miles on a bike) on  tap!

I cannot wait to hear "Congratulations you are an ironman" I get choked up every time I think about it!  Man I hope my stubby legs can do it! 

***Check out my Pan Mass Challenge Page

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ehlers Danlos - You can have it and be "mild"

 I am writing about this today because I have an OVERWHELMING number of people coming to my blog that search and read my post about my migraines   I know it's pretty scary out there as you start to read about EDS and start to read the blogs, the message boards and think "OMG, do I REALLY have this thing.?"   Don't be afraid, attack it with knowledge, power and be ready to educate your physicians because they haven't heard of this disorder since med school!  (seriously)!

I thought I needed to add a post in here to tell more about my story of my EDS!

EDS is as different as a fingerprint.  I've learned that it affects each one of us differently.  I've also learned that there are SO many common traits.  I've found so many bizarre, unexplained pains an annoying things in my life are actually caused by my Ehlers Danlos!   Now the big thing here, I am a mild case!  I can run, ride a bike, swim, function daily. (most of the time).  My big thing is my migraines.  They are just debilitating! I've had migraines all my life!  In the last 10 years, I've lived on a pain scale of 1-10 (my pain scale I might add) of a constant 2 with flux to 8's sometimes 9's.  I can function with a solid 3 or 4 with no one knowing any different. I just take some drugs, and just deal with it.  If you read more of this blog, you will see that I've done triathlons and just took some of my migraine meds and went on my way.

EDS affects many of my joints, recently I learned the REASON I have my migraines is the lack of muscle control in my neck.  I've been doing physical therapy and I've gone from a constant 2, where I was taking pain meds 25 days a month to taking them maybe 2 or 3!!!  ( I feel like doing a cartwheel on this)!!!!  This is new in the last 3 weeks!

The EDS affects other joints that I used to just ignore. I thought it was old age, or wear and tear.  About 10 years ago, I thought I had arthritis in my knees.  I played volleyball in High School and sorta in College. I figured I just beat the crap out of them.  I had the obligatory scans/ xrays, etc.  I would have the normal 'arthritis' pain in the knees, they would ache, especially in weather changes.  The orthopedic doctor said "well you have loose joints, but I don't see any arthritis, have a nice day." - UGH.. If he had caught it then???

My hip also "falls out" all the time, I used to think this was kinda cool as a kid.  I would take my foot, wedge it under the screen door, and pull my leg out of its socket.  I could move my entire leg around. It really would "feel good."  Later in life (well like 3 months ago), I learned that this was REALLY bad for me, and I was further breaking down this connective tissue and just killing that socket. That joint socket continues to bother me and it continues to fall out on its own!     I've learned through physical therapy that I need to strengthen the muscles around it to hold it in place.  Clamshells (painful but effective). I will write about the exercises in a post.

Another area that drives me crazy is my feet!  This is one that I can't ignore the pain.  The bones on top of my feet fall out of place and crumble on top of each other, I can't put them back and I have to wait until they go back. I can't walk properly, so I walk on the outside of my feet and I look stupid!  I can't really complain though, because as I say, I have a mild case of it, and you wouldn't know by looking at me, or by really my daily activities.

My right shoulder also doesn't stay where it belongs.  I joined an awesome facebook group about EDS and a woman posted a funny message to her shoulder - and man I feel the same way and it pretty much sums it up  "Dear Shoulder, how I wish when I wake up in the morning you would be where I left you the night before. I do hate the search and rescue mission in the morning."  I have learned that I have to really CONCENTRATE on my posture.  It is not second nature for me (or most with EDS).  I am not aware of my body and when I think it's one place it really is NOT!  I wrote a little more about my PT and awareness in this post. and This post.  I learned that I hang 'end range' on my 'mouse' shoulder ( I bet more than EDS patients do).  I am constantly just stressing the joint out!  I'm working on it, but MAN it sucks spending HOURS and HOURS on that instead of the hours I need to be spending on my swimming, biking and running!

There are so many other aspects of EDS, not just our joints. Its connective tissue as well.  I'm lucky to not have the vascular type, but that doesn't mean I wasn't checked out.  I'm actually having another EKG tomorrow to re-check (just to make sure that I have no valve issues). I have to tell every physician that I go see that i have this condition.  I bring my Dr. Tinkle book with me as a reference.  I don't expect that they know what EDS is, I take the time to explain it and they 'vaguely' recollect it, and then they are typically eager to 'go look it up.'  This is exactly what happened with my cardiologist.  I actually have had an EKG, stress tests, etc in '07 for family history so I have the baseline.  I saw him, told him of the EDS.  He looked at me, but I approached it in the "hey you prob haven't heard of this since med school..." he said "hm hold on..." and he looked it up right there.  He said, well, even though we have the baseline and the 2nd check, lets look again just to be sure.  Then he started talking to me about it again, he was curious!  I have been hearing horror stories of Physicians asking EDSers to "do party tricks" this is asinine!  That's like asking someone with a compound fractured leg to walk on it so we can see the bone come out, just dumb.  Its one thing to see one or two things to check range of motion, but don't give in to some of that!  Get involved with the online support groups THEY RULE!  (See below for some links).

I went to the dentist the other day for my routine visit. I had called the day before and they actually planned for me, nothing changed really, but they did a full set of xrays to check my bone loss just in case.  EDS can cause people to lose their teeth (I mean just fall out).  It's nice to know a little ahead of time!  I have to say all of this planning is annoying for ME but prevention is really they key!

I plan to do the same thing when I get to the eye doctor later this year. I know I have symptoms in my vision, as I'm 37 years old and my prescription is STILL changing and I have a terrible astigmatism that continues to change.

Next on my list will also be to check the allergies, I have no idea if they're related but my migraines seem to be magnified when the weather changes.  I have ZERO post nasal drip, or any other outward sign of allergies, no coughing, sneezing, eyes watering, etc, just the increase migraines intensity when the weather changes.  Odd but now that I've connected with other EDSers, they have the same symptoms. It's amazing to connect with people that have the same thing here, especially since we're so RARE!  Its so great to know I'm not alone, and to ask people "hey do you have X or Y."

Here is the facebook community for:
Ehlers Danlos Type 3 (hyper-mobility) 
Ehlers Danlos Foundation- On the discussion page you can find local community.

If you have questions please "like" my facebook page FatGirl Ironman Journey" - you can find "me" on the left as an admin, send me a message if you would like!  This blog isn't about my EDS, but I certainly have EDS!  I really do believe that there are LOTS more of my 'mild' EDS versions out there!  I'd love to help people preserve their joints; to stop using them in counterproductive ways so they don't end up in lots of pain!

I do not want to write two different blogs, but due to the # of people finding me BECAUSE Of  my migraine EDS post, I feel the need to post this!  I will try to post these once in a while!  Please feel free to contact me via the facebook page listed above!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sad, Fat, Unhealthy, Society!

Yea, the name of my blog is a little tongue in cheek, a little true, and a little bit how I feel about myself. Sometimes I feel like a thin person, today was one of those days! 

Over the last couple of weeks, I've seen more and more how moronic some people are about food!  I know I don't eat right, but at least I KNOW what I'm doing and I KNOW its wrong. OK maybe that's worse?!

Today I was standing in line at Subway, and this man in front of me orders a foot-long Ham, Regular Egg, Bacon, Extra Cheese, Sandwich.  The clerk asked "would you like mayo on that?"  and he, with this swagger said "no thanks, I'm trying to keep it healthy."  I giggled to myself &  thought WOW, that's funny.  Then I thought about it for a while and it's actually pretty sad!  That man actually thought that sandwich was HEALTHY??

I'm cool if you want to eat that, and maybe he was treating himself!  But the thought that he THOUGHT that sandwich was  healthy because he 'left off the mayo' is disturbing! 

I had a few encounters like this lately!  Another, surprisingly younger person in my life is having some health issues.  I said "you should think about cutting down on the salt."  I know this person eats out a lot due to his job, he's on the road most of the time; he eats out; and  he eats a ton of  processed food at home.  His response "I NEVER put salt on my food, so I know I  don't eat much salt." !?!?!?!

Then there's my favorite (from a couple people in my life) -  "I eat healthy, I eat a salad every night." - yet I watch them  having a salad with store bought croutons, cheese, BLUE CHEESE or RANCH dressing, and BREADED CHICKEN or fish doused in OIL on it?!?!?!  

Are we really this mis-informed as a society?   I personally have a problem with food because I love it, I love eating it, I love how it smells, I love my carbs, but I'm making 'wiser' choices.  Brown's instead of whites.  Lean protein, smaller portions, etc.  I'll never stop eating my bagels or my pizza - it's who I am but I KNOW IT'S BAD.  I'm not going to 'hold the peperoni" and suddenly say "ooh I had a healthy pizza today." ?!?!

I am very disturbed today, no wonder other countries are loooking at us saying 'FAT AMERICANS!' -

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I would love to, but..

I can't tell you how many times I hear "I would love to do a 5K, but... ", or "I would love to go to the gym but... "! I have friends, colleagues, or just random people that see what I’m doing and they tell me, "I would love to do what you do but.. " then they insert one of a few generic excuses in there. I bet any one of you can recite them as you've heard them too. "I don’t have time, I'm too busy, the kids are busy, I'm too out of shape to start to work out, its too expensive to join a gym... etc."

No one believes me that you CAN make time for yourself. John and I don’t have children so everyone assumes I have all the time in the world. I assure you, I'm just as busy as the next person.. BUT don't take it from me! I have friends that have not one, but multiple children (some up to four and five).  Single parents, parents of traveling spouses, parents of special needs children, you name it AND THEY DO IT. So here's my motivation.. STOP MAKING EXCUSES. YOU CAN DO IT.. but here's the kicker..

ONLY IF YOU WANT TO! Ask yourself, do you WANT to? if you don’t REALLY want to, stop there, and stop staying "I'd love to..... " if you do want to.. make a change, make a choice, and DO IT!

At any given time, there's 47 other things I SHOULD be doing, my house is a wreck, my car needs an oil change (actually I have a leak that I have to get checked out before it dies). I need to write my thank you's for my Pan Mass Challenge donations! I need to ... well everything!.... I choose to get up 3 hours before the SUN gets up so I can work out. I choose this lifestyle. I don't love it every day, but I know I have to do it.

Laura's Myth #1:
Gyms are expensive.

Gym's aren't expensive! You can find 'cheap' ones. You do get what you pay for though.  I found a Bally's for $24 a month and it includes a pool. There are many out there that are less than a coffee! You can work out at home for sure, but will you be disciplined there? I personally am not.

Laura Myth #2

You have to get in shape to get in shape. Pulaheese... really? walk in place while watching your fav tv show, lift the green bean cans. Set a goal. People look at me like I've set some crazy goal to do triathlons, really it's not outlandish for any of you! You CAN walk the run, you CAN use your banana seat bike with the basket (we all might giggle at the pics, but you CAN).  Setting a goal of something like a triathlon or a 5K is so much more fun than "I will get fit before I set that goal.." BOORRING... and you will lose interest!

Laura Myth #3

You don’t have time.

Yes you do.. Some of the people I know can fit in IRONMAN training while holding up families, coaching soccer, etc it takes discipline, dedication and the desire to actually do it. Time management... You have to want it. Figure out how to multitask if that's your issue. If they can do that, why can’t you do that 5K you claim to “want to do?”

Laura Myth #4

Laura's a positive person - LOL.. ok, in all seriousness, I try to be - but sometimes it can be tough. Like today's post.. well, obviously spawned by the straw that broke the camel's back! Either DO IT.. or admit that you don’t want to :).