Monday, May 28, 2007

Out of the box progress

I have not blogged because I do not think anyone reads here! That and I have some things running through my head that I don't feel like I can talk about here. That and I am boring and have no life besides the gym and my job!!

I am doing 4 lifting circuits and 4 HIIT sessions per week in this phase of my workout. It is hard. If I want to have a whole day off, which I think I need, I have to double up two of those days with lifting/cardio... and after I lift, I just feel too wasted to get anything out of a HIIT session!

I did not get my HIIT session done yesterday after lifting. Once again, I just felt too tweaked, even with a serving of breakfast oats in me before my workout.

Today's workout
I did a treadmill session today: 25 mins, 5 one-minute interval rounds w/ 2 minute recovery.

My speeds were:
6.0/8.5, 8.6, 8.7, 8.8, 8.9!! Which is officially the fastest I've ever gone on the treadmill. And to be honest, this felt a little too easy so I think next time I will try all my intervals at the higher speed, and go up to 6.1 for the recovery.

I walked for a bit after this and did some stretching and some work with the foam roller (calves are knotty!).

Reflections on progress
As I was cooling down, I was thinking about how much progress I have made since January. I tried to keep up with physical activity while I was going through my cancer treatments, but I had to back off the intensity of everything. I still went in the weight room when I could and "lifted" really light weights, just to keep my body moving and my muscles remembering what they are supposed to do.
I tried to keep running, then eventually had to stop that too and just walk or pedal on the bike. Before my surgery I was running about 30 miles a week. It was sad to watch myself detrain. I'll never forget going on a walk and my HR being like 175 just walking uphill and my HR monitor was beeping like crazy and I had to stop at the top and bend over to catch my breath and stop myself from passing out.

Before my radiation, I had to stop taking my thyroid hormone altogether and become severely hypothyroid. I won't go into what that was like, but it was not fun. It was hard to get off the couch. I couldn't remember whether I'd cracked one egg or three. Without any thyroid hormone, your body just starts to shut down because your cells can't get any energy! Once pedaling on the bike, I remember looking down at the display and I was pedaling at level 2 and barely like 50 rpm's or something and I felt like I was climbing Mt. Everest. I got off the bike and just cried.

When I started to get better, the first time I tried to do an "interval" on the step machine, I went for 1 minute at a moderate level 7 and then had to get off the machine because my HR just would not come down under 170 and it freaked me out! Of course, I almost passed out b/c all the blood drained out of my head once I abruptly stopped.

Aaannyyway. I don't want to belabor the unpleasants, I just wrote all that so y'all can get a sense of why I'm feeling proud of how far I've come!! It's been almost 5 months and I'm feeling really healthy, and I ran at 8.9 today!

Legs are sore! I'm progressing in my lifts and the single-leg exercises Cosgrove has me doing right now are getting "easier" - LOL.

Gym Faux Pas?!
Oh, I know gym people will appreciate this story...

So I'm at the gym yesterday doing OVERHEAD SQUATS (which I consider to be a pretty hard-core exercise!). I'm holding a bar OVER MY HEAD with my arms locked out, doing squats. And in the middle of my set, this scrawny guy comes up to me TO ASK ME IF I'M USING THE SMITH MACHINE.


a) I'm doing overhead squats.

b) I'm doing overhead squats (no, I'm not using the smith machine, genius).
c) I'm doing overhead squats (are you CRAZY?! don't talk to me in the middle of my set! I could get HURT... or you might when I throw this bar at you!!!)


Also, another fitness related rant? Can the sports store please employ SOMEONE who knows about lifting equipment??? I'm there looking to buy lifting straps (b/c I can deadlift more than my grip strength allows on some sets) and an employee comes up to see if I need help.

Me: "Sure, I'm trying to decide if I need these padded ones or if I'm fine without the padding... the padded ones seem a little big on my girly wrists."

Guy: "Um, when I used to lift," (ed note: he's maybe 18) "I just used gloves."

Me: blink blink... "Ok, thanks."

Eventually he went off to get his supervisor who didn't know anything either. Nice.

Ok, that's enough ranting for one day!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weird Week

Workouts are going pretty well, even though I've been avoiding the jump squat workout... it's soooo hard! I don't like jump squats, but I only have one more week before I start a new workout. Yay. I've added weight to most of my lifts and it seems like I just keep getting stronger, which is great! Now I need to focus on getting some of this fat off so I can actually wear my summer clothes. It seems like some of them shrunk over the winter in my drawers... And people, I am NOT buying bigger clothes. No. That is not an option. I've been all over the map with my nutrition this week. When I start to feel burned out, I justify poor eating. I'm due for a vacation! I haven't really had a vacation in more than a year! I took a lot of time off with the cancer stuff, but that doesn't really count for a vacation... I need to plan my trip to FL to visit my sister!!! Yesterday I got my hair cut and I think today I will go have a pedicure and manicure. My toes are looking frightful! I still haven't downloaded those pictures from my camera... maybe I will do that this evening.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I'm all out of sorts...

We finally made it out to Sugarloaf on Sunday and did the 5 mile loop. It was so nice! The weather was perfect - a little windy and chilly when we started out, but it warmed up and by the end my t-shirt was soaked. The sky was so blue and clear, the view was amazing. Usually it's a bit hazy. That always wipes me out good though, and I was pretty baked the rest of the day!

And I woke up Monday morning with a serious pain in my right hip. Probably from the combination of jump squats followed by a 5 mile hike the next day. I decided to take Monday off from the gym, but I was still feeling it this morning!

Plus I had a really shaky workout. I kept feeling like I was about to pass out, and had to sit down and take long rests in between sets - definitely the worst workout I've had recently. I think I was dehydrated? My heart was just racing. I made it through. I also had trouble doing the cable rows because my arm is pretty bruised from where I had blood drawn on Monday. Seriously, I think this lady did it on purpose, I really felt it when she jabbed me! Usually you don't feel hardly anything, if the person knows what they are doing. It seemed like she stabbed the needle in harder than necessary and I was like, OW, that hurt!! And she goes, (in this sugary voice) oh, but I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm like, yeah... whatever. Anyway, it actually made the rows really painful to do!

AND, to top all that off? The mother of all zits has taken up residence RIGHT in the middle of my eyebrows. It never ends.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bad Blogger....!

Despite what you may have surmised by this point, I did not fall and break both of my hands!! I've just had a busy couple of weeks. I flew in from Ottawa late last night where I was attending an intercessional of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and meeting all sorts of interesting new people from all over the world, plus seeing my French friends again who I met in Paris last month. Being a diplomat is so fun :) - but the downside is that my job takes up an extraordinary amount of my time and energy. Like all of it on some days. I work 9-10 hour days, plus the 1 hour commute (30 mins each way) and add on my 30-40 minute workouts each morning and 8 hours sleeping (I cannot survive on any less without a major meltdown, my body really wants more!) and that leaves only 4 hours each day to cram in the rest of existence. You know, like fixing and eating dinner and breakfast, making my lunch for the next day, showering and fluffing, and blogging, reading, tv watching, socializing, making phone calls, etc, etc. It's not enough. I cannot comprehend how people do this with children??? I don't know if I could manage it. Because after the work/commute/work-out, my energy for the day is pretty much depleted and I'm in my must-retreat-into-self-to-stay-normal-because-I'm-hopelessly-introverted mode.

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining! I LOVE my job. Love. It. But my life does often seem unbalanced to me. I do worry about it sometimes and wonder if I'm missing out on something or if I should make a change? But I'm having too much fun at work to think about changing my job right now, even though I daydream about moving back to Arizona to lead hiking and rafting trips in the Grand Canyon or something like that - it's that part of my spirit that doesn't get enough stimulation these days pulling on my heart-strings. And part of the reason I run and lift daily to stay sane, even if it's not a hike in the woods, is because it's still the place where I can get totally unplugged from the "rat race" and just focus, just breathe. Ya know?! I don't think about a possible "other life" too much because it's just not time yet.

Last week I had my mom in town and I finally got confirmed as a real bona-fide Catholic. I was in my "anti-anything that seemed like authority phase" when I was supposed to get confirmed back in high school. Going through cancer treatment was such a deeply spiritual experience for me that this seemed like the right time to do it. I knew if I didn't go ahead and do it while the cancer experience was fresh in my mind, the inspiration would fade as life keeps getting back to "normal" and other things take up my attention. I still have lots of problems with religion and dogma, but confronted with my mortality, I really drew a lot of peace and grace from the Catholic faith I grew up with and I see it somewhat differently now.

I read something recently about how the Celts spoke of "thin times" when the space separating heaven and earth is "thin" (or the divine and mortal or however you want to conceptualize it). For me, that's what having cancer was like - from the moment I was diagnosed until pretty recently - my life was in that "thin place". Maybe that just sounds strange, but it felt like I was on another plane of life. I wonder if other cancer patients feel this way too?

I'm doing really well with being a survivor and the thyroid stuff too. I finally these last few weeks am starting to feel really healthy again -starting to wake back up to normal life. I still have complaints and issues - my hair falling out, still adjusting to the hormonal changes, the extra fat, the pain in my neck (literally!), the emotional/psychological issues - but mostly it's getting better all the time.

I devoured Lance Armstrong's cancer memoir in about two days. There is something so universal about cancer - even though what he went through was WAY worse than my experience. Mine was pretty mild compared to his!

Right now I am procrastinating about going over to the gym. Alwyn Cosgrove must have drank a whole cup of evil right before he wrote this workout he has me doing in this phase - it involves a giant set of jump squats, push presses and good morning's. With no rest in between. JUMP squats, people! I have never in my life been so close to hurling in the gym as the first day I did this workout. I cleaned one of the E-Z bars (already weighted) onto my back for the squats and GM's instead of using the longer regular squat bar so my center of gravity would be more compact and balanced. When I finished my last set, my arms were so baked that I just stood there like, oh shit, how am I going to get this bar off my back, I don't think I can do another overhead press!!! (I was not in a rack). You can always do more than you think you can - thank god so I didn't have to drop the bar on the ground off my shoulders!!!

Anywayyyyyy - wouldn't you be procrastinating if you had to go do those on Saturday morning?!! Alas, my workouts were all screwed up because of being in Ottawa for the week (although our hotel did have a little gym!) - I would normally not put this workout on SATUrDAy!!! :( Weekends are for R&R (mostly) or really FUN exercise like hiking or trail-running :) LOL. oh well.

Our hotel. No I am not kidding.

I'll post some pics tomorrow of Ottawa and the 7 foot tall bishop who confirmed me!!!