Fitness Friday: How to Exercise When You’re Injured: HIIT Dip Bar Workout

kaila-prins-exercise-injury

Well, I’m back on the West Coast, and I realized that it’s been a hella* long time since the last “How to Exercise When You’re Injured” post, SO…time for another exciting workout that you can do, whether you’re injured or … Continue reading

UN-Podcast 018: UNStoppable

journal-and-map

Here’s why today’s episode of the Finding Our Hunger podcast is amazing, summed up in one quote from our ridiculously eloquent guest: “You never know everything–and as soon as you do, you don’t anymore.” Is how you eat or exercise an … Continue reading

Fitness Friday: How NOT to Exercise When You’re Injured

pain is a sign that something needs to be changed

Last month, Abel James, aka the Fat-Burning Man, wrote a really great blog post about using an injury to your fitness advantage. After hurting his shoulder doing Krav Maga, he was faced with the difficult decision: do I give into … Continue reading

Car-Struck, or How Respecting My Body Saved My Life

bruised-not-broken

In late 2009, at the height of my “clean eating”-induced anorexia/exercise bulimia, I was told I had osteopenia. That means that my bones were thinning and on the brink of osteoporosis. From late 2009 until May of last year, I … Continue reading

An Open Letter to My Orthopedic Surgeon

No, I don’t have anything of value to add to the discussion on ED today. Instead, I offer you an open letter to my orthopedic surgeon: 

 

Dear Dr. H—,

 

Do you remember how I came to you, desperate, for a second opinion about my ankle after being told by a Stanford doctor that my MRI showed a torn tendon and that I needed surgery, and you not only agreed but encouraged the surgery, even pushing it up a month, and then, after the surgery, telling me that the tendon wasn’t torn and there was nothing structurally wrong with my ankle but a lot of inflamed synovial and scar tissue, and then telling me I’d be fine to walk within a week, but then when I wasn’t getting better by my next check up, wrenching my ankle around in several directions telling me to get over it, only I had gotten an infection from the surgery you did and that was why it wasn’t healing and still hurt terribly, so you put me on antibiotics that almost killed me because I was allergic to them, but you took one look at me when I was covered in huge, painful hives and actually denied that I was having an allergic reaction to the medication, and then, after having to do another surgery to get rid of the infection, you wrenched my ankle around a lot and sent me to physical therapy saying that I was fine and had no reason to be in pain, even though the nerves in my ankle wouldn’t stop firing and it hurt to put on a shoe or even touch the area near the scar, and then, after two months, when the nerve pain actually got worse you came into the office, wrenched my ankle around in a bunch of different directions despite the fact that I was crying from the pain, declared, “We’re done,”* and then walked out of the room (and charged me $30 for the less-than-five-minutes you spent with me)?

 

Well, this keeps happening:

Swollen ankle 5 months after surgery

 

“There’s nothing structurally wrong with your ankle.”*

 

Thanks, doc.

 

– K.

 

*Actual quote.

A Sunday Health Update…and a BIG Announcement!

Gosh, it feels weird to blog again!

 

It’s not as though I haven’t been writing…I just haven’t been writing anything for myself. I suppose it’s both a blessing and a curse to have so many exciting freelance projects up in the air all at once.

 

Before I finish my calories in/calories out series, I wanted to talk a little bit about my experience in the last few weeks in dealing with rehab, stress, sickness, and change, since it’s part of my story, and, well, why not?

 

REHAB

 

So, as many of you who know me in the real world know by now, I’ve been back at the retail store for a week and a half. I’m only working part time hours because of my ankle, but in those part time hours, I only get one break and spend the rest of the time in shoes and on my feet. I’ve done surprisingly well, although there have been moments (read: hours) during which I’ve done semi-barefoot.

 

Kick Ass Take Names and Flowers

A very thoughtful “Happy First Day At Work” gift from a very thoughtful someone….

The funny thing is, there’s nothing structurally wrong with my ankle anymore, but for the fact that it’s weak as hell and has severely limited functional range of motion. The pain persists in two forms: the same dull ache that drove me to the operating room in the first place, and acute electric shocks resulting from even the slightest touch to the skin (a condition called allodynia, where pain occurs from an otherwise non-painful stimulus.)

 

It’s the allodynia that makes me feel a little insane…for example, I’m performing in Les Mis in a few short weeks, and we performed “One Day More” at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday night. Due to some parking issues (because that’s so unlike California, right?), I and the woman with whom I’d car pooled, had only five minutes to make it from the parking garage on the other side of the complex, through the massive, packed, standing-room-only crowd, and to the tree. I had no problem ducking, weaving, and speed walking (when it was possible) through the crowd, but the fact that I was wearing boots that touched the side of my leg while I stood to sing made me want to cry.

 

Les Miserables Rehearsal Boys on the Barricade Children's Musical Theater

Rehearsing the barricades

My physical therapist is getting aggressive with the treatment, since I won’t be able to see him after November 30th. (Details on why in a moment.) He’s been trying to help me desensitize the area…we started by just lightly brushing it with a tissue, but by the end of my last session, he had some scary, silver, ridged tool out and was basically digging it into my scar for a good 10 minutes. Apparently the fascia is ridiculously tight, and that may be causing some of the pulling on the scar, which causes the nerve pain. I sat there and took it, but there may or may not have been tears.

 

All that to say: we’re not there yet, but we’ll get there. I just have to be more aggressive with my own treatment. I even kept my shoes on through my whole shift on Friday…(Although I’ve been paying for it with random shooting pains in my foot and ankle all weekend…)

 

SICKNESS & STRESS

Besides the physical stress, I’ve been dealing with the kind of emotional and work-related stress that I haven’t seen since I went on disability over five months ago. (Hard to believe it’s been that long…)

 

I have been incredibly fortunate to take on several freelance writing projects–from public relations, to marketing, to social media and brand management, to copywriting/editing an ebook. I’ve even written a 120-question reading and writing drill for a test prep company. (I now have a new-found respect for the good people who write the SAT. If you think it’s easy to write those boring reading comprehension passages, I can assure you, from firsthand experience, it most assuredly is not. It’s a seriously intense undertaking.)

 

Unfortunately, however, I haven’t just been sitting at my adorable little neighborhood Starbucks and lounging about all day while writing, as I had been able to do while blogging all summer. Not only am I back at work for four hours each day, but I’m also in rehearsal for four hours each night and six hours on the weekends. Moreover, I’ve actually been more social than usual (and more about that in a later post as well).

 

Frida the Chihuahua with her foot on my computer, forcing me to take a break

Frida says, “Take a break, Mom. Let’s go for a walk!”

In other words: my sleep has been a little limited. Most days, I’m up by six or six-thirty, at Starbucks to write by seven-thirty, at work by nine-fifteen, and in physical therapy or back at Starbucks until rehearsal at six. I get out at ten, and then if I go out afterward, I’m usually up until one, before I repeat the process again. It’s a little stressful, both mentally and physically, to say the least. Especially since I’m used to going to bed by eight, and not having anywhere important to go or anything important to do.

 

Between the lack of sleep and the stress of writing deadlines, my poor little immune system has been compromised. And so, after five months of perfect health, I went back to work in the petri dish retail store and immediately got sick.

 

I’ve been congested and coughing all week, so that hasn’t helped my ability to function much. I’ve avoided the gym, because I know that I just need to rest my body instead of adding another extra stress, but that does add a little bit of mental stress (once a chronic exercise addict, always a chronic exercise addict–I’m still learning how to handle the cravings to work out…). I just want to get better, but I know that it’s going to be difficult until I can cut some of the extra stress out of my life.

 

But that being said, I’m kind of grateful for having gotten sick. I know that sounds crazy, but let me explain:

 

Addiction to Perfection by Marion Woodward and Resting Dog

Frida knows how to handle an addiction to perfection: Get more rest!

I have always just allowed stress to happen. I’ve always said “yes” when asked to do a project. I’ve always taken on immense guilt for saying “no” to friends who want to go out when I’m exhausted. I’ve always overextended myself, because I hate to be bored, because I hate to feel unproductive, because I hate to feel like I’m missing something.

 

And this was, in some ways, very instructive for me. I got the chance to see how much I could handle before my body and my brain just had to tell me “no.” This awful sinus thing is my reminder that I can’t be Super Woman. It’s my reminder that wanting to do everything and being able to do everything are two entirely different things.

 

While I’m continuing to freelance, I’m only working on one (and a half) project(s) right now. While I’m continuing to work at the retail store, I’m only doing so part time, and not stressing about my job while I’m home (a first for me!). While I’m continuing to do the musical, I think this will be my last one for a while. I’ve made my peace, and I’m ready to have some down time.

 

CHANGE

 

But that being said…I do have a big announcement. A very, very big announcement. A very, very big, life-changing announcement:

 

I’ve put in my two weeks notice at the retail store.

 

I have gotten a job at a startup in San Francisco. It’s my dream job: In-house Journalist/Copywriter/Copy Editor. I’m in charge of all of the written content and reporting to the VP of Marketing.

 

My life is about to change in so many ways. And now I’m going to be better prepared to handle it. Because I know my limitations, and I know my strengths. I’m scared to death, but I’m excited as hell.

 

This is definitely a good week for giving thanks–because I have so much to be thankful for.

 

So…here goes nothing…

 

Happy Sunday, y’all.

 

– K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgetting Fitspiration

A quick thought before I go back into the science and history of the calories in/calories out myth: 

 

My physical therapist wants me to start going to the gym again. And I am utterly terrified.

 

I know it’s silly, especially since I’m hoping to make a career of fitness and nutrition, but I can’t help it.

 

The gym has always been both a haven and a prison. It is where I saw some of my greatest triumphs and my hardest falls. It is where I learned to love my body and hate it, to gain muscle and lose my mind.

 

Yoga is one thing, but going back to the gym is definitely another.

 

I just find this very relevant now, as I start to understand the myths that fueled my ED and exercise bulimia–as I start to explore why calories in/calories out is a fallacy, and how obsession is fueled by the false advertising of the fitness and health industries.

 

I’m not sure how to reconcile the fact that my PT wants me to start doing 5 minutes of steady state cardio with my former impulses to do hours of the same. I’m not sure how to reconcile 3 sets of ten light-weight negative calf raises on the leg press with the desire to deadlift 100+ pounds on the first day.

 

Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated, fitspiration

So said the voices in my head. But sometimes, obsession is really just obsession.

I’m terrified of finding myself listening to the voices that once upon a time told me the lies that led to my pain.

 

That being said, I feel a little bit better about the fact that I know that the voices tell lies. That I know that ED is always going to be waiting for me to start listening again. That I know how to tune the voices out–that I want to tune them out.

 

It’s funny: I was listening to the most recent Paleo Solution Podcast, and someone wrote in with a question regarding the Health at Every Size movement. It seemed strange–Robb Wolf, of The Paleo Solution Diet fame, is all about nutrition and strength training; HAES is more about body image and mental health/perspective. The question seemed out of place, being answered by a man who doesn’t struggle with an eating disorder and really hasn’t focused on Paleo or strength training as a method for coping with overweight or obesity in his own life. And something in the question stuck out at me: it was sent in by a personal trainer who noticed that the several of his overweight/overfat clients who had made significant gains in their health and vitality were the ones who were more likely to be upset when they didn’t see the same results reflected in belly or underarm fat.

 

What is so striking to me is that those people–people whose health has dramatically improved, whose lives have become infinitely better, whose chances at surviving to live a long and happy life have just increased–were unhappy because they aren’t physically “perfect” (whatever that word means).

 

All of that to say that I don’t understand why we spend so much time trying to equate health and fitness with aesthetic ideals.

 

I don’t understand–even though I’ve lived through it–why we have to equate flat abs with health and First Lady arms with longevity.

 

You know what? I no longer have completely flat abs. My triceps don’t pop anymore. I can’t deadlift or do a pull up (or ten) like I used to.

 

But you know what I’m more concerned about? The fact that I can’t run up a flight of stairs–or even walk it without getting winded. I’m more concerned about the fact that my gut health is still affecting my skin. I’m more concerned about the fact that walking my dog isn’t easy.

 

And because I’m spending more time worried about my lack of physical fitness, I’m spending less time worrying about my lack of a six pack. Funny how priorities change. (Would I like a six pack? Sure. But if it means having to starve myself or eat tuna and egg whites six times a day, then it’s not worth it.)

Me with flat abs after Muscle and Fitness Hers Challenge

In order to take this picture, I starved myself, ate nothing but tuna, egg whites, and protein powder, had no friends, went to the gym 7 days a week, and cried a lot. NOT WORTH IT.

 

So maybe I will be okay to go back to the gym. Maybe I finally have the perspective that I was missing when I was spending hours on the elliptical, hoping for the “perfect” body (whatever that is). All I want now is the perfect body for me, where I am today. One that will keep me healthy, happy, and living a good, long life.

But that’s just me. More soon,

Love,

K.