On this day I truly rocked it but not for the reasons I would really like. Today was my Cross Fit day and I didn’t go. Nor am I going for the next month or so. I’m highly disappointed by it but the truth is that even my intense 30 minute Cross Fit session is too much right now. We say all the time you can do anything for 30 minutes and I truly believe it. I still believe it, but I have to make a commitment to getting my body, mind and spirit back to normal. Therefore, for the next month or so I’m going to ease up on this body of mine. This is not going to be easy for me and clearly I hear the words “you can walk and do yoga” but I also hear, “you can walk as much as you want and do as much yoga as you need.” So, I did, I walked 24576 steps today. Is that too much? Maybe but it sure felt good and since I didn’t do any yoga this day I put all my energy into walking, yes it was eboost energy but still energy none the less.
With my hormonal imbalance I could also be suffering a bit of adrenal fatigue and by walking and doing yoga I won’t further burn myself out if that is the case. Once I see the specialist she will better guide me in my exercise routine, but until I see her I’m going to keep walking and doing yoga.
First, I would like to say Happy Summer to all, especially for the people that suffer severe Raynaud’s this is our type of weather for turning our purple fingers and toes into pink, normal looking digits again. Second, I would like to apologize for not writing more often. I have no excuse but life gets in the way sometimes and we have to concentrate on other things. It doesn’t mean my health isn’t important, nor does it mean I haven’t been doing things every day that relate to my health and MCTD but I just haven’t had a moment to write about.
I have been forced to stop and really take inventory of myself and my mind and since my mind is feeling very overwhelmed right now. My body feels fabulous and I’m increasing weight training each week but my mind isn’t following suit with my body yet. We are in the process of turning our house upside down this summer with remodeling and although this is something I really want and I know it will be wonderful when it is done, no lie this is seriously stressful. I have been living in chronic stress for several months now with just life.
My doctors are worried about my stress and blood pressure but it fluctuates so much to high and than normal that it is hard to tell if I suffer from high blood pressure or not. I can go days with normal and then it will spike to high for several days and back to normal. I do not want to take another medication especially for high blood pressure. I don’t eat processed foods, I exercise every day literally, and I do yoga 5 days a week. If there is a person out there that should not have high blood pressure I believe I’m that person so I’m watching every day and doing my own testing. I also don’t want to put unwanted stress on my largest organ, my heart, so I have to be careful with this as well. I have been able to decrease some of my other medication and have taken my prednisone down to 4mg and have decreased another medication by half which is my mobic or my pain medication. I do realize that these changes can add stress to my body and if my mind is stressed out most days that is mind working against body, body working against mind.
I was in Bikram on Thursday morning for an early morning class and as you may know you must look at yourself in the mirror for 90. I honestly didn’t know who the woman in the mirror was. I was tired, sad, sore, and out of whack. I’m surrounded by people that truly enjoy me, look out for me and care about me and none of them are family. I drew on their energy and just said to the woman in the mirror that she was OK. I wasn’t fond of her at that moment but she was OK. Friday morning I went right back in the woman in the mirror looked better to me. She didn’t look tired, and I actually had a moment of pride for her. I decided that I needed more time in front of that mirror and really focus on who I was looking at. Each day the woman in the mirror will be different but I cannot be mad at her. She is me, and I have done nothing that justify anger.
I have been back twice more and finding love for the woman in the mirror. Typically Monday is not my day for Bikram but I’m making the commitment to get in there and make an effort to keep finding moments of pride and love for myself and the one I refer to as the “woman in the mirror” this is only because I have lost her a bit and the stress I feel isn’t helping. Lifting heavy weight is awesome but it honestly isn’t doing much for my mind. Tomorrow is my cross-fit session and I’m sure he will work us very hard, I’ll feel accomplished but I think I’ll still feel stressed and I’m desperate for the feelings of stress to leave my mind, my home, my workplace, my car and my yoga studio. Be Gone Stress and Soon!!
I am finally making some progress in my health and lowering meds in regards to MCTD. For many years I have been stuck on 5mg of prednisone and although that doesn’t seem like a lot it is too much for me. This is the number medication I want to eliminate from my medicine cabinet. Beginning of May I decided instead of dropping to 4.5mg and cutting a pill I would just drop an entire mg. I didn’t really think my body would allow it but when I cut the pills I never really know how much I’m getting and therefore, could be getting more or less than the scheduled 4.5mg. Taking 4mg was making a bigger drop but I have more control over actually receiving the level of milligrams that I need.
I did it, I dropped from 5mg to 4mg on May first and here I am 6 weeks later still at 4mg, feeling strong and healthy and no sign of flare. This doesn’t mean I won’t flare but so far I haven’t and that is a huge accomplishment. I have noticed that my fingers are more swollen than normal but I’m hoping my body will reach a new base line and allow for the lower dose and accommodate the new dose by allowing things to go back to my normal. I have been increasing my Bikram practice as well since the hot helps eliminate some of the fluid from my body, the practice also makes my body strong and therefore I feel strong. The practice reminds me that everyday I get up flare-free I have accomplished something great and now reducing one of my major medications is another indication that this body and mind have the strength needed to keep moving forward and perhaps reduce other medications as well.
The key is I can’t get over excited and drop to quickly. My body does have the ability to flare when it needs to and by me adding too much extra stress I can push it into flare. Life in general comes with its own stress and by reducing medications that adds stress, as well as my intense fitness adds stress. Too much is not a good thing but the body is made to endure some stress, and it is my job to assess, reassess and keep pushing the limits to see what this body is capable of.
This past week during one of my cross fit sessions we were running. I haven’t really run in a long time. I do quick sprints on the treadmill for 30-40 seconds at a time but haven’t just run/jogged for a while. We did some running, some suicide sprints and lots of weight training. He promised I would leave there tired, sweaty and invigorated and he was right. Every time I’m able to do something else and look myself in the mirror and be proud it is a special day.
Many blogs ago I wrote about HIIT which is “High Intensity Interval Training” and that when things got crazy and something had to give this was the first to go in my routine. I didn’t really enjoy doing it and I wasn’t sure if I was really doing it correctly and not sure what equipment to use for my HIIT, therefore, it was easy to let this slide in my routine and just do it when I could.
Things have changed and in a good way. I have committed to 3 solid sessions of weight training using my “Gain Fitness” app and that thing keeps me on track which reminders, whistles, don’t give up and cues to get moving. With every session it remembers what I did last time and has me working the appropriate muscles for any given weight training session as well as when to increase weight and keeps me honest with my commitment to 30 minutes of weight training 3 times a week. What does this have to do with HIIT? Believe it or not a lot, because I have less time for traditional cardio and learning that I really don’t dig cardio unless it is simple walking for stress relief so before my weight training sessions I put in 15 minutes of hard HIIT to warm up before I hit the weights.
I have been using the treadmill, elliptical and even row machine for my HIIT training. I know I only have 15 minutes to devote to it so I have to get it done fast and hard. My rhythms have increased, my speed has increased and my strength has even increased which allows me to lift heavier weights after the HIIT as well. My body is fully heated and my mind feels as though it can do pretty much anything so I push myself harder each time. I think to myself I can do anything for 15 minutes but it isn’t even hard for 15 minutes really only extremely hard for 30-60 seconds depending on how I feel once I start my sprint. 4 or 5 rounds of sprinting with slower intervals makes the 15 minutes go by very quickly. As soon as I feel my form slip even a bit I stop the sprint and go back to a slower pace that is why I say 30-60 plus with every rotation I increase the intensity each time which makes it harder to sustain the full minute later in my training.
Once my 15 minutes are up I’m off to the weights for 30 minutes, feeling very strong and accomplished and then take 10-15 minutes just to walk and get myself back to balance before heading back to work or home depending on when my session was. Yesterday I had my cross fit in the morning and it was all cardio based so I used that as my HIIT and later in the day went back to focus just on weight training so I was able to do 45 minutes of weights. After doing 45 minutes I realize that I don’t need longer durations right now I really need to focus on 30 minutes of heavy lifting. Between the walking when I can to de-stress, my new found strength, and my balance of Bikram I’m really starting to feel like a normal person again. I also have a doctor’s appointment coming up to make sure everything else is in balance. Balance is one piece missing in this whole equation but I’m getting there day by day.
You might be thinking what is DOMS? Or, why would a blog post be tagged DOMS? In this case it follows up nicely to my last blog post about weight training. So, what is DOMS? It stands for “delayed onset muscle soreness” and how does this pertain to me and my last blog post? Simply, I’m living with DOMS as we speak. I actually thought it was good idea to continue my cross fit session and use my new app thru Gain Fitness yesterday. “No Pain, No Gain” is not true for me but the pain I feel is a reminder that I have muscles that clearly don’t get used as much as other ones.
My cross fit session was incredible. I had a new instructor, a male this time, and he wasn’t letting us off the hook for anything. Does that mean that our other female instructors will take it easy on us? Sure, sometimes they do and I bet with more time spent with this young guy he would too. They have to figure out where everyone is but the only real way is to push us to our limits and if he doesn’t really know us he can push a bit harder just to see. We were using big ropes, boxes, kettle –bells, and dumbbells. This was such a great work for me. I like the metcon workouts also, but sometimes I want the strength and resistance training so I can really see where I’m progressing.
I did my cross fit session in the morning and walked outside at lunch time. But, during the day my “reminder” dinged reminding me I had committed to a 30 min strength training session that evening. This app is really slick. I was using weights for squats and other leg exercises. Using boxes for a bit of cardio built in. Machines out on the gym floor were used for some exercise as a way to mix things up. Finally I was using my body weight on a mat for other exercises. It was a full body workout that took exactly 30 minutes using their cues and staying on track. Resting is part of the program and since I don’t normally rest I really don’t know what to do so I walked around but I will get use to just sitting quiet at some point in my life.
Needless to say after those 2 workouts I woke up this morning remembering some for those dormant muscles were still there. I’m sure I will probably be sore again tomorrow but I have read to keep moving forward through my committed workouts and push through the discomfort. Clearly if it is really bad I won’t but I doubt that will happen. The DOMS should subside in a few sessions and I won’t have any remnants of it again I try something else out of the box. I believe with this new cross fit trainer and my new app that I truly have enough to keep my body guessing. Believe it or not my body has gotten use to Burpees; I didn’t say my brain however. Every time I hear the word Burpee I think “oh no, not again” but my body is fine doing them. The ropes were so tough, but I felt really strong being able to wave those things down and back and in and out. No joke when I feel like I’m not making much progress and then I get thrown a routine like that, I totally get to see and feel the progress I have made.
I won’t kid anyone; I was terrified jumping on the boxes. Not the front jump or the Burpee up on the box but when we had to straddle the box and jump both feet into the middle that is when I wasn’t confident in myself. He coached me through it and rounds 2 and 3 I was way more confident. I also learned the proper way to use kettle-bells and it isn’t willy nilly throwing them around the way it looks when I have seen kettle-bell classes going on.
Tomorrow night I’m back in the gym for another round of weight training but no cross fit in the morning so I should be able to knock it out pretty hard. DOMS be damned I’m doing this and pushing this body a little harder every committed workout.
Which are better, free weights or weight machines? Ask any number of people and you’ll probably get a split right down the middle. At least that has been my experience and I have asked many people. Therefore, I chalk it up to personal preference and the theories behind what people think. The free weights work for people that able to use them with good form since you need to use your core and muscles throughout your body to assist in many of the exercises you have to have a good balance and stability. The weight machines target specific muscle groups therefore the machine is your stability and your form is going to be naturally better with less free form available. The exercises will target one muscle group at a time versus using many muscles with the free weights.
Perhaps a combination of the two is a good way to go. Free form for a few exercises and hit the machines for targeting the specific muscle you are working on at any given time. I found an app that incorporates both free weights and machines into your weight training workout. It is the “Gain Fitness” app and yes it is free. You set the time duration of your allot workout, where you are going to work out either home, gym, on the go, and the days in which you are committed to weight training and it forms a schedule for you. Someone like me enjoys a schedule, I am all for being flexible in life but I do better if I have a schedule to follow and reminders. This has it all, literally. I get instructions of the exercises, cues as to when to do them and coaching along the way to make sure I’m staying on track in my allotted amount of time I said I could commit. I used it for the first time last night after hearing about it on yes you guessed it, a podcast. I have been listening to Keifer at Dangerously Hardcore for a while now and find the process he uses very interesting. The system he uses in carb back loading where you stuff your face with any food you want after extreme resistance training sessions. Ladies, don’t get too excited, this doesn’t always work as well for us with our hormones and our cortisol levels. However if you are interested there are modified versions to fit a woman’s needs but you have to eat cleaner than the gentlemen. Now there are women out there training hard and yes I’m sure this will work but the majority of the readers of this blog are on medications, diet restrictions and just trying to keep balance on a day to day level dealing with MCTD. I just happen to love reading, researching and learning everything I can. Not that I’m implementing a carb back loading night but it does allow me a little freedom to train hard and splurge when needed. Well now I’m just off track from my original thought which is weight training.
I have been incorporating more weight training sessions into my week because my cross fit classes are great for the cardio portion but I was feeling as though my strength has stalled. I don’t want to over train but I would like to continue to see results so between a few true weight training sessions, 2 cross fit sessions, lots of walking and 5 days of Bikram I’m hoping to be bathing suit ready in a few weeks. Remember I’m in Maine and we just pulled out the sandals, although I know many of you are enjoying warm, sunny days at the lake, beach or wherever you like to go to soak in your vitamin D.
After writing my “woe is me” blog yesterday I was hit with a really nice moment of perspective as well as reality this morning. You can find the comment under “Aliens have taken over my body” where a reader wrote a lovely post for me indicating that she ran her 2nd 5k but during the race she was hit with terrible pain in her hip and had to walk. Despite crossing the finish line last in the race, she crossed the finish line. Here is my moment of perspective, I don’t feel great mentally, emotionally and yes even physically. However, I can still do whatever I want as long as I don’t let my mental anguish stop me. My body is working very well; in fact I am feeling incredible strong on most days and can perform any task. I am not having flare-ups and I’m certainly not stuck at home in bed. After reading Jennifer’s post I had to literally say to myself “buck up cupcake” and mean it with real terms of endearment. I’m not saying it to be negative to myself or to push myself farther into a black hole; I’m saying it because this body can do incredible things.
I am seeing myself and not liking what I see but at the same time I need to remember that when this body doesn’t feel good what that really means. I’m doing regular Bikram practices, I’m walking every day and I’m still cross fit training 2 days a week. Sure I bonk a bit in some of my workouts but I’m doing them. I might not be feeling 100% every moment of every day but I’m doing more than functioning in this thing I call life. Mentally I don’t have the capacity to take on to much without feeling overwhelmed right now so why not just take on less? It seems like an easy solution and one I can commit to. I don’t need to over extend myself, but what I need to do are the necessities and spend more time taking care of the mental me.
When moments of negativity take over it is so sobering to get hit with moments of reality and be able to except that good things are happening. I would probably come up with this on my own eventually but thank you Jennifer for getting me their quicker. Every day is a mystery as to how we will feel but if I have nearly 3 months of flare-up free days behind me I can be content with what this body is going through from a hormonal point of view. Yes I need to make better choices but I also need to forgive the bad choices I do and will make also. For 10 years my bad choices forgave me and didn’t cause me grieve now they are so I need to practice forgiveness of myself and get my body back into balance with help and then things will fall into place nicely.
For an update, I’m not a doctor so I hesitate to write too much about things I’m taking but I also think it is important for others to be able to have conversations with their doctors and start the lines of communication. I started taking Rhodiola about 5 days ago and last night I was actually able to sleep, woke up this morning early but more rested then other days and was able to weight train harder than I have felt like doing in a while. Now, for those of you that weight train hard these numbers will not be impressive to you but they were for me and apparently rushed enough serotonin to my brain to make me feel good about it. I loaded up a dumbbell with 50lbs and did my back squat, dead lift and dropped to 40lbs for my chest press. I had to drop again to 30lbs for my overhead press and increased to 65lbs for my back pulls. I now have these numbers in my book so I can watch my increases as they happen.
So, what is Rhodiola and what does it do? It is a supplement that lowers cortisol levels while decreasing fatigue, leveling out mood swings and giving you a natural feeling of calm. High levels of cortisol is what is giving me that overwhelmed feeling along with being high strung and unable to quiet my brain body to get a good night’s sleep. This is not my final answer and I’m still working on many things but receiving posts like Jennifer’s help along with taking supplements to back me away from the edge and get real with what is happening with my life and body