Is social fitness more beneficial then working out alone? I have mixed feelings on this question. I work out alone more then I work out with other people and I have never had a friend meet me at the gym to workout so my motivation comes from within. I did think that I needed the gym to make sure I got intensive workouts because at home I felt like I always had other things that needed to get done and I never really wanted to sweat in my living room. I love the women I see at yoga and I also enjoy the group at the gym even at 5am, but I have also realized that because I have a motivation within I am able to workout at home and get a good workout.
A few weeks ago my husband was kind enough to build me a fitness room in the basement with a floating floor that I can sweat all over and just clean up after. My weights, balls, bands, steps, platforms and DVD’s are all set up down there and with some music, a guide on the internet, and my own motivation I have rocked some really good workouts. My weight training is more consistent, mainly because I don’t have any excuse not to head to the basement for at least 30 minutes. Not only that I can find 30 minutes at different times of the day so I may be able to get in some cardio and weight training on the same day.
Do I miss the people at the gym? Yes, I actually do which is why I went today just to say hello and check in but traveling there, and traveling back cut out some of my workout time so I have found I truly enjoy working out at home. I get to pick the music, turn it up, and rock out without wires in my ears and other devices attached to my body. I can move from cardio to weights easily, and I can do it in a shorter amount of time.
I will not give my yoga. I love yoga and prefer doing that outside my home. I love the people I see and the new ones I get to meet. I love getting extremely sweaty in the studio and coming home. I love the way I feel and I love the calm I get. I will venture outside my home for yoga and take in all the energy that it has to offer. However, for the pump, strength, and ego of weight training I like doing that in the confines of my home and the energy in these walls.
This post is going to ring true for many of the readers with MCTD, since one of our symptoms is swollen hands I deal with this regularly. However, in the last few months my hands have really swelled up pretty big. It is hard to explain why they look like this and honestly the size of them can be embarrassing but at the same time everything I try the swelling is still there so how can I really be embarrassed by this? I was talking to my husband about how weird my hands looked and although he sees them all the time he also thinks they are looking a little big but he mentioned that most people have some swelling from time to time. This conversation lead to the conversation of weight gain and swelling and when did they go hand in hand.
For me they are going hand in hand right now. I have gained weight this past year and yes the swelling has been more challenging and made my hands pretty sore as well the last couple of months. I am working hard on trying to figure out how to lose this weight but until my body gets more balanced it just wants to hold on to this weight. From what I have read and from what I have talked to my doctor about, my body is basically holding on to fat to protect my organs until the “stress” becomes more manageable. Now I realize that stress is evil but I have stress when I’m not even doing anything. This is part of being out of balance hormonally so now that I’m working on find this balance the next thing I hope to be able to really see results with is the loss of some of this weight.
I know I have to sleep better but when my body constantly feels like it is running from lions how will it settle down enough to sleep? Again, when I become balanced again my hope is that the sleeping will fall back into place, the stress will settle, and the weight will come off, resulting in some less swollen and sore hands. I have been drinking my dandelion tea daily and although it worked well in the beginning like anything the more I do it the more my body gets use to it and the benefits start to wane. In an effort to settle the stress at night I have taken up walking. I really wanted the gentle yoga to work but it wasn’t enough to settle the body and now I’m trying walking. I keep trying things until something finally works. This is how I have approached the last 10 years of my life but this time I’m finding a lot more challenges or brick walls to maneuver through. I’m certainly not giving up but I would like something to finally kick in and start working.
Yesterday we said good-bye to summer and hello autumn. Although I was most disappointed to see summer go this is all part of life and so as a way to celebrate the arrival of autumn we went to Maine’s largest farmer’s market. We call it the Commonground Fair in Unity ME and it brings farmers from all over to share their offerings and experience with the common folk. We are the common folk but there is something very sweet about eating produce and vegetable that were grown and cared for by the very farmers standing in front of you most impressed with their own work.
Now do not get me wrong, this is a fair with everything fairs have to offer except no rides, but there is fried dough, lemon slushies, and treats absolutely everywhere. However, they also have grass fed organic meats, cheeses, dairy, and made with love pies and ice cream. We knew we didn’t want to spend our time in the food area so we had packed snacks to tide us over as we walked through the farmer’s markets, the cattle area, poultry and backyard chicken area, some of my favorite places; the sheep, goats, alpaca, and donkeys. I honestly don’t know if the picture I posted was a mule or donkey but I do know her name is Lily and she is very much loved.
I had a moment of romanticism or maybe it was insanity but I started to think that I could be a homesteader. My husband in a very loving way laughed and said it isn’t romantic at all and how about we start with a garden. I believe after many conversations on our way home that I truly am not cut out of homesteading right now but I’ll start with a garden and see how I do. I did try a garden a few years ago but I guess I didn’t realize I actually had to do anything with it so as you can imagine I had the best fed deer, chipmunks and squirrels in all of Maine.
There really is something romantic about the thought of living on a farm, heading out every morning for first fresh air and saying hello to all your animals. Eating foods right from the farm and sharing those foods with others. Perhaps just a dream for many of us, but also a true reality for those very people working so hard to provide us wonderful foods not just one weekend a year at the fair but every day.
I recently received a note from a reader that is dealing with stress and as I was reading her note I had a flood of thoughts come rushing to me which I needed to process and give great thought to. Stress is dangerous to everyone in general, and as we deal with life in general, work situations, home situations and other things our stress levels rise. I hear so often that we need to manage our stress better, and that is so much easier said than done. I was thinking back to this last year in my life and can see how things quickly unraveled for me personally.
This time last year almost to the day I talked to my husband about taking a more demanding position at my job and agonized over what this decision meant for me, and for us as a couple. His first response was, what would it do to my health and how would I deal with the added stress. At the time I was making this decision I was feeling very strong mentally and physically. I had been doing cross fit for at least 3 months and doing things my body could never do before. I was going long periods of time without flares. I was in the Bikram studio regularly 5 days a week and more when I could. I was sleeping 8-9 solid hours every night and eating a Paleo diet so I honestly thought I had this wrapped and if ever was a time to do make this move it was at that very moment. Never in my life did I feel more capable of making a change and here was my opportunity. I took the job knowing full well that I was going to work really hard for a short amount of time and then when my time was done I would pursue a gentler life and teach yoga or do something that really drove me to get up every morning. I look back at that now and wonder exactly what have I done. I used to spring out of bed with a huge smile, ready to rock my day and nothing stood in my way of achieving my goals whether they were personal, fitness, health, career or life goals.
Fast forward 2 months to Nov and I’m sitting in my doctor’s office with a blood pressure reading that is off the charts. He looks at me and instantly says what has changed. I have a new job, it is more demanding. I’m losing sleep over all I have to accomplish and trying to find 26 hours in a 24 hour day. He asked if I was still exercising and I told him yes but that I didn’t feel as good doing it. My fatigue was so much higher but I still pushed and pushed. The holidays come and go and for the first time in over 10 years I had put on “holiday weight” really how did that happen and what do I need to do to get it off? These seem like questions people have all the time but I didn’t have these questions before. I knew where my fatigue came from and even in my highest levels of fatigue I still had motivation to work out maybe even more motivation because I knew how good I would feel when I was done.
I start to realize something is very wrong but getting my point out there was harder than I first thought. I started to believe this was all hormonal and wanted my levels tested immediately. Fast forward again to nearly a year from the day that I started this job and I am truly a 40 year old woman in full menopause. I don’t sleep but 3-4 hours at any given time. I’m so tired but wired most of the time and feel adrenaline rushes periodically throughout the day which means my body is just pumping the cortisol. I’m
20 pounds over my normal weight with no motivation to exercise to decrease this added weight. I want to eat clean but my brain takes over with these stupid weird cravings and as much as I want to fight them I give in from time to time. So, did I cause this premature menopause by stressing my body to the very max? I honestly will never know and although my doctor and I can speculate all we want the truth is I could have kept my life the way it was and still went through menopause early. However, I feel very strongly that I have created this mess for myself.
I thought like most people I could manage the extra stress. I was certain I was strong enough to continue to live my healthy lifestyle. I was naive enough to believe I had this under control and I was blind enough to not realize until I receive a note from another that this was all menopause related and not stress related. With that said, thank you Jessica for opening my eyes to what I’m really doing here. At least now I can make no changes but not hide from what I’m doing or make changes in the hope of changing the outcome I have created for myself.
I’m in the process of really processing everything that is happening to me and seeing what I can change, what I’m willing to change, what I’m committed to in the short term that won’t allow any change and where can I tweak to at least feel better if change is not an option. I’m sure I’m not the only one going through this but it sure feels good to just get it out and process through it.
As the weeks go on I continue to cut back on my Bikram practice therefore instead of attending a practice 5 days a week I’m trying 2 or 3 days. I like going on Saturday and Sunday because I have the rest of the day to recover if I need it but I also try to get in one more day during the work week. I am finding that my body is taking longer to recover after a practice and I can feel a high level of fatigue after my practice which makes working a day job more difficult. My last Bikram practice my teeth, hands and arms were tingly and I thought I might actually pass out from exhaustion so that was another indication that maybe I need a break from Bikram. The toughest thing for me though is that Bikram keeps me flexible and keeps my joints loose. In an effort to try and get back some flexibility without the residual effect of fatigue I’m going back to vinyasa flow yoga. This form is gentle on my joints and can be very calming. Also, I do this type of yoga at night so I’m hoping that calm at the end of the day will also assist with my sleeping skills. The part of Bikram that I love the most is the heat and as I sweat I release a lot of fluid off this inflamed body which I don’t get in vinyasa flow yoga. I have tried hot yoga but I don’t sweat enough in hot yoga to release enough fluid so I am still finding ways to sweat more and more.
I have the potential of practicing vinyasa 5 days a week so my hope is that my hips and knees will start feeling better. Especially as the weather changes and we head into autumn here in Maine my joints really start to feel the effects of the change in seasons so as much as I miss Bikram I’m excited to get back into downward facing dog, crow, and wheel pose. The vinyasa flow postures are different than Bikram postures and holding of the postures is different but the whole idea is to open up hips, gently stress knees, lower back and really work balance. In vinyasa there is much more upper body work which in Bikram there is very little upper body work so my shoulders will start to get a work out again in my yoga practice and the strength that is gained in vinyasa is really wonderful.
I’m writing another personal blog post today but then I’ll get back to more of the diet, exercise, MCTD blogs later this week. This week is one of my favorite of all for the year because one nephew turned 3 years old, while another nephew made his way into the world to meet us all, but mostly because this is week my husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. Yesterday Aug 31 we celebrated our 10 year anniversary and although it seems like the time has come and gone so quickly another part feels like we have spent our entire lives together. These 10 years have been amazing and although they have been difficult in ways such as finding out I had MCTD and the complications that go along with having an autoimmune disease as well the reality of finding out our lives would not involve children we have also had some of the most amazing days, weeks, years of our lives. I have written many times that this man is my greatest supporter and still continues to be my supporter, my partner, my love, my best friend and my constant rock. I don’t know exactly what a soul mate is so I’m reluctant to use that term as most people would but I do know that my life would not be as joyful, satisfying and fun as it is without him. He allows me to fly when I want and grounds me when I need it. He is so special and I just look forward to see what the next 10 years bring to our lives, our relationship and what this next stage looks like for both of us.