Bad News/Good News

The bad news that apparently my piriformis muscle is inflamed and pressing on my sciatic nerve. The good news is it hurts so badly I don’t even notice my hip flexor anymore. Nerve pain BURNS. It literally feels like someone is shoving a flaming sword into my left buttock. The piriformis reaches horizontally from your coccyx to your hip bone. So yes, after being told for years that I’m a pain in the ass, I now have a pain in my ass. Stretching really helps, as does pressure point release with a tennis ball. Tonight the hubster is giving me a deep tissue massage.

Unlike the hip flexor this is not a running injury. I think I set this off on the drive to and from New Hampshire. I’ve mentioned before that I have tiny little T-Rex arms. When I drive I have to pull the seat fairly close to reach the steering wheel, this leaves my left leg in an awkward position as I really can’t stretch it out. Normally this is no biggee as I rarely drive for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. On the NH trip I drove for a total of nine hours and was in the car for 23. I stretched, but didn’t know to stretch my piriformis (or even that I have a piriformis). Fortunately I don’t have to stop working out, only back off a bit. Obviously I won’t be starting my spinning class this week, and I’ll walk/run three days a week instead of five. This is a setback and I am bummed, but this weight loss gig is a marathon, not a sprint. I didn’t console myself with cheese straws and brownies, though I did have a tiny cocktail last night.

How to Get Rid of That Pain in Your Butt

Hip Stretches

Areas of Pain

I mentioned before that my hip hurt. I’ve been stretching, icing and taking Advil, but it’s still quite painful. (Spending a week in the car on our road trip probably didn’t help either.) I’ve had good doctors and physical therapists before so I know what to do, but I’m a bit frustrated that I have to do it. I’ll have to back off the running a bit, I’ll continue walking and weight training. I need to hit Pilates hard to strengthen my core and stretch my hips like crazy.

Hip problems are common for women who’ve had children, sometimes our hips don’t realign properly which sets us up for all manner of issues. In my particular case my right leg is now measurably shorter than my left. I was expecting either bursitis in the hip joint, which I’ve had before, or for my sacro-iliac which is a smaller joint in the back of the hip bones to get aggravated. I’ve had intense problems with them before and spent weeks in physical therapy. This hip flexor thing is new, though related to the sacro-iliac problem, apparently when I run I overcompensate for my other issues and aggravated the hip flexor.

Anyway, enough kvetching, I found this great site that’s full of the type exercises my physical therapist had me do. I expect that within a month or so I’ll be out of pain. Wish me luck.

Learn About Hip Stretches – Sports Injury Info.

Increasing Intensity

I’ve been working out consistently now for a little over four weeks. Today I decided that I’ve gotten too comfortable and ratcheted up my intensity level. Instead running/walking, I switched to jogging/sprinting. Also, I increased the amount of weight I lift. I went from 5 pounds for upper body to ten. That wasn’t too bad, but the 20 pounds for my lower body was a real killer. I’m so sore now I can barely move, but I can tell it was the right move to make. I don’t know how scientific this is, but to me, once you stop getting sore it’s time to kick it up a bit. Comfort and complacency leads to boredom, at least it does for me. I need a challenge and doing three sets of deadlifts plus a super set was one helluva challenge. I’ve never felt more like hurling in my life, I seriously didn’t think I could do it. The “meatheads” on the other side of the gym who are constantly giving me tips watched in amazement. I do intend to mix it up. I’ll go hard two days a week lifting heavy with light reps. The rest of the week I’ll go light with lots of reps. I think it’s good to keep your body guessing what you’ll do next. I still don’t think I’m ready for a spin class–maybe next week.

Down 21 Pounds! Yay Me!

I’m back at my pre-pregnancy weight, even more importantly I’ve lost five inches off my waist. Hips haven’t budged all that much, but then I don’t carry much weight there. I’ve been gradually working up to this, but officially started June 10, 2010. This is essentially my routine:

  • No Booze. No Sugar. No Grazing. I do occasionally have a Laughing Cow ice cream bar, and I do mean occasionally. I’ve had three in the past two months. Sugar makes me crave sugar. If I don’t eat it, I don’t miss it.
  • I exercise five days a week. No excuses. I run on the indoor track at the Y. Somedays I run intervals, some days I just run full out, either way I run for a minimum of one hour. I then do a 20-30 minute weight training set. I focus primarily on my lower body, glutes, quads and hamstrings. These are the biggest muscles and working them burns the most fat. For me this the key to trimming my waist and getting rid of my gut. Two days a week I run for 30 minutes and weight train for a full hour. It’s important to lift as heavy as you can. If the first few reps are too easy, you need to lift heavier. You should not be able to do more than eight or so reps, if you can they’re too light. Do reps until you cannot lift it again. I don’t count reps, I just do them until I can’t maintain form. If you don’t like weight training and want to get by with the minimum, focus on deadlifts, squats and lunges. Deadlifts will give you the ass of a goddess. I mainly do upper body for aesthetics. I like for my arms to look cut.
  • And here’s a big one. I don’t eat more than 1200 calories a day. I go on My Fitness Pal and log in what I eat every day. Each morning I eat two boiled eggs and a cup of greek yogurt. For lunch I have a big salad with turkey or whatever protein we had for dinner. And for dinner I eat whatever I cook for the family, minus the carbs. I’m extremely carb sensitive. Even good carbs like brown rice will put weight on me and/or trigger cravings. I try to avoid them. Fortunately fruit doesn’t have this effect, but I stay away from the sugary ones like bananas and grapes and focus on apples and berries.

Looking back I think I’ve always had a metabolic disorder. For years I could eat whatever I wanted and stay slim as long as I worked out. Well, eventually that caught up with me. I’ve never counted calories before and man was it an eye opener. I’ve always had a good diet. No fast food. No soft drinks. So I thought I was doing okay. Not so much. I was eating way too much. Even good stuff will put weight on you, especially as you get older.

Sugar is my nemesis. I’m amazed that I don’t miss it all that much. I do miss alcohol. I had my first drink in months Fourth of July weekend. I’ll probably have another when we go to New Hampshire this weekend. That’s a far cry from the several cocktails or glasses of wine I used to have every week. I could probably tolerate the extra calories, but not the way it brings my already sluggish metabolism to a screeching halt. It’s simply not worth it.

Surprisingly this hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I would’ve imagined. It’s certainly a helluva lot easier than being tired all the time.  Tired of looking like crap and feeling worse. Tired of the fear of developing diabetes. Tired of taking medicine and still feeling nauseated. Tired of not being able to wear cute clothes.

I’m still angry and frustrated with the diet and fitness industry. They tell us that we only need “thirty minutes a day” of exercise to lose weight when all current research says we need an hour or more of cardio PLUS weight training. And don’t even get me started on the diet choices.

I finally had to learn some hard truths on my own. Hunger is not an emergency. Some nights I do go to bed hungry. Anytime my stomach growls I drink water to make sure I’m not just thirsty. As we age our metabolism slows down. We either have to exercise more, or eat less. It’s really that simple. Food is not a pacifier. It’s not an emotional crutch. It’s not entertainment. It’s fuel, just like for your car. That’s all it’s designed to do. Exercise is not entertainment. It’s not fun. It’s not pleasant. It just has to be done. Just like you change the oil in your car. Once I wrapped my mind around those hard truths, losing weight has actually been downright easy.

I’ve still got a ways to go on this journey. Goddess willing I will attain my goal my Christmas.

Sports Bras

How many sports bras do I own? At least five and I’ve probably “lost” more than that. (Long story, don’t ask. I have a habit of losing bras, even when I like them.) Now ask me how many of my bras I actually like. One. Just one. And why is this one so good? Well for one thing it holds the girls in place, even when I do jumping jacks. And almost as importantly the damned thing zips up the front. By necessity sports bras are made to fit tightly. So what masochistic contortionist decided that they should go over your freaking head? Clearly it was someone a helluva  lot more flexible than me! So what do I do to keep my lone bra fresh? I wash it every night in the sink. It’s held up remarkably well. I know I need to get a couple more, but I don’t remember paying $42 for it! I must have, but usually I don’t drop that kind of cash on anything but Wacoal.

Champion Double Dry Zip-Front Sports Bra | Champion.

Maintenance

I ran today. A total of two miles. I ran the last mile nonstop without any intervals in between. This represents an absolutely massive change in my mindset. I don’t enjoy running. Left to my own devices I would probably do nothing but read, write, eat bread, cheese, tomatoes and olives washed down with copious amounts of really good wine.

I run every day because that’s what it takes to maintain my body. I think it’s absurd that it took me to darn near middle-age to get the simple fact that I have to maintain my body the same way I maintain my car, and for the same reason: Maintenance is significantly cheaper than repairs. Crazy that I would never be irresponsible and not maintain my car. Why was I more careful about a thing than I was a body that I have to live in for the rest of my life? Talk about fucknuttery.

No, running is not fun, but then neither are oil changes. Or tune-ups. Or system flushes. Or all the other crap I have done to my car. I don’t look forward to any of those either, but it’s irresponsible not to do them. I think that’s where people, at least people like me get derailed. We’ve been told that fitness is supposed to be fun, and when it isn’t we feel like some type of failure. I’ve thought something was wrong with me for years because I don’t enjoy exercise, but now I get it:

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE FUN. IT JUST HAS TO BE DONE!!!

The Only Vice I Have Left…

Needle on the scale didn’t budge today. I had a feeling that it wouldn’t this week. I can usually tell when I’m losing and it seems that my body is holding on to every ounce for dear life. I’ve hit the gym a lot harder this week. I run/walk for an hour, and then do 20-30 minutes weight training. Two days a week I only walk/run for 30 minutes and do an hour of weights.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but weight training is the only thing that slims my waist and stomach. That’s probably why I lost another couple of inches off the waist. That’s good news. I’m well on my way to getting off Dr. Oz’s “Doomed to Die Young” list. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble meeting my goal of 35 inches by my birthday in September, but I was also hoping to be at my goal weight by Christmas. Not so sure about that one. We’re going to New England next week and I wanted to be down a couple more pounds for that trip so I could treat myself to a lobster roll. Oh well, I’ve still got another week. I’ve lost 16 pounds since June 9th, so I’m not exactly treading water here. I just have to focus and keep my eye on the prize.

Doing very well on my No booze. No sugar. No grazing pledge. I had a vodka tonic 4th of July weekend and that’s the only booze I’ve had in three months. The only sugar I have is from fruit and an occasional Luna bar. I do like to have honey with my greek yogurt, but I limit that to a couple teaspoons. Interesting enough I haven’t been craving sugar. That’s always the way. If I don’t eat it, I don’t crave it. I haven’t missed booze at all. Though I do wish someone would invent something calorie-free that doesn’t impact your metabolism, but would taste as good as a nice dry martini. That’s not happening anytime soon. Usually for my birthday I have a bottle of boutique bourbon and a lovely cigar, a Churchill. No bourbon this year, of course, but I’m really looking forward to that cigar. I’m thinking it’s the only vice I have left.

An Epiphany

My hip hurts. No biggie really, but the first thought that went through my mind was that I won’t be able to run tomorrow. Immediately I changed that thought, after all, athletes run through pain all the time. If it hurts too much to run I can always walk. It’s not an injury, just a little inflammation. (My hips haven’t been the same since I had Luke. One of my legs is now shorter than the other–long story. I forgot to wear my orthotic.) The big change though is that before I would’ve let that keep me from going tomorrow. Then the next day, and the next day, and the next. Before long I’d be fat, out of shape and so disgusted and ashamed that I wouldn’t want to do anything.  Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. Not this time. Unless that leg falls off, I’ve got an appointment at the Y every morning for pretty much the rest of my life. Epiphany for real.
I’ve had the same type revelation about food. I realized that I’ve had two boiled eggs for breakfast every day for two weeks. I’m a gourmet cook, and always hated to diet because of the boring repetition. Now I look at food as fuel. Sustenance. Not entertainment. Not a pacifier. Simply a necessity to keep my body going. Like gas in the car. As long as it’s wholesome and nutritious it serves its purpose. By George I think I got it.

Miss Ernestine Shepherd So Totally Rocks!

This morning I was watching GMA and saw this fabulous lady. She just started working out twenty years ago, and now she’s the world’s oldest female bodybuilder at…wait for it…SEVENTY-FOUR. I don’t know about you, but she’s an incredible inspiration for me. She didn’t start working out until she was in her fifties, surely it’s not too late for me.

I Ran A Mile Today!!!

Okay, not continuously. I interval train, meaning I run two laps and then I walk two laps. Seventeen laps is a mile. So after I’d done ten laps I took a break and went to the weight room. Did three sets of squat/press, three sets of deadlifts/bicep curls, three sets of bent-over rows and I lost count of how many flys and skull-crushers (Have to maintain my guns: Moose & Squirrel!). Then I went back and did seven more laps the same way; two laps running, two laps walking. So I did a mile and then some. Isn’t that freaking awesome? And get this I didn’t even feel like hurling afterwards. Yay me!