Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Knees, neck and holding back

Last week was a big week for me… Test (as in X-ray) results from the chiropractor show marked improvement in my neck, since I started in May. Now, we know that most of the problems are in my hips and lower back, but apparently, the smaller bones in the neck are less “stubborn” and therefore, more likely to show improvement sooner.

The improvement was not as much as suspected, but still, we are moving in the right direction; enough that I was told I could start a walking program again. This, of course, is in preparation for a walk/run program and ultimately, running.

I won’t post too much about the walking program for now… other than to say that I have started it. Unlike the previous two times I have started on a walking program, this time, I am much more tentative than hopeful. If the knee pain returns on a walking program, it will mean going back to the drawing board – again. I’ve spent almost 10 months in an injured state. To say that I’m sick of it is the understatement of the year!

After assessing the X-rays, Dr. Mike said it is time to start on some exercises to help my spine along. We start with the neck and if all goes well, in October, we'll move on to lower back exercises. He started by giving me a small foam neck cradle. I am to lie on the floor and rest my neck in it for 2 minutes a day, and increase it by one minute per week until I get to 10 minutes.

Today he said to me, “Now, I know you’re a keener… and you can overdo it… so don’t think you have to go longer each time, OK?”

This, from a man who sees me for a total of about 6 minutes a week - tops. I looked at him a bit hurt as if to say, “What? Who? Me? A keener? But… but…!”

Instead I just said, “No, no… This is the 2-minute week.”

And heard in reply, “That’s good. We don’t want you to overdo it.”

Good thing I have professionals in my life to keep me in line... But damn them for being able to see that I'm a hopeless keener.

Excuse me .... I think I need a chocolate martini...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

My snuggle bug

Rarely do I gush. Stuffed animals and cutesy just-about-anything usually turn me off in a hurry.

But really, who could resist walking into a bedroom, with an armful of clean, warm bed linens, thinking only about housework, only to be surprised to find this...?

Innocent and mischevious... Mewing in greeting as if to say, "Helloooo! Notice me! I'm cute, don'tcha know!"

His name is Shade.

He also goes by Shady Guy, Shady Character and every once in a while....

Snuggle Bug.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I noticed the other day when I came into my office something was a bit off; I mean, in terms of smell. It was an overly “earthy” (as in decaying) type smell… Couldn’t figure out what it was, since I tend to be fairly tidy in the office.

“Maybe I watered one of the plants too much and it’s got root rot,” I thought to myself.

Uhhh... not exactly. Today, I found the culprit. Tucked (or perhaps tossed?) into the bottom of a drawer was a plastic bag. Inside said bag was a disposable plastic container with the remnants of some beef stew in it. My beef stew. And it had leaked into the bag.

When did I leave it there? A long time ago. How long? I can’t remember exactly. At least a few weeks, I’d say, but maybe more.

I know what you’re thinking, “Ew! Gross! I’d never do that! She's a repugnant slob.”

If you were to walk into my office tomorrow I can assure you that the words “repugnant slob” would likely not be the first ones to cross your mind.

All I can think is that I must have been in one hell of a hurry one day and threw the bag in the drawer absent-mindedly.

Come to think of it... school is starting again soon… and I will be teaching one Spanish course this semester. Can I claim to be an absent-minded professor? (Actually, it’s just a contractual teaching staff position, but let's not split hairs and make even more of a mess, eh?)

Nevertheless, is probably a good thing that my week of being a slacker officially ends at 6:00 p.m. tonight when I have to get my tail back into the gym for a training session. Clearly, I have slacker-like tendencies that run deeper than even I care to admit!

Monday, August 21, 2006

In case you plan on impaling yourself... I can help.

I am having a wonderful time lazing about and taking my job of being a slacker very seriously. (As you can see, I haven’t even been blogging much these days… Just too lazy!)

I did take a First Aid and CPR course on the weekend. Remember the guy who collapsed on me during the marathon? Well, that freaked me out enough to go get some training.

I remember taking some basic First Aid during a babysitting course a couple of decades ago (in the very early days of such courses). But naturally, I had forgotten about 99% of it. I was glad to see that some things had changed… We only practiced on dummies (no “real life sharing”, which I was thankful for). We used gloves and oral barrier devices, too – even on the dummies. Those were unheard of way back when.

Apparently, you don’t use alcohol or peroxide on the body for any reason any more. That was news to me. I just bought a bottle of rubbing alcohol about a year ago, deciding it was time to stop pouring my good tequila over my skin when I cut myself. (No, I am not kidding.)

We were told that these days you're not supposed to use anything other than soap and water on cuts and whatnot. Suits me… tequila was made for drinking, anyway!

The instructor knew her stuff, but oozed a steady stream of bitter, rancid sarcasm and a condescending attitude that almost sucked the life right out of me - no pun intended. Some people just shouldn’t teach.

But apart from that, it was good. My favorite part was bandaging; in particular, bandaging a casualty who’d been impaled with something. That we did get to practice on each other – and it was fun! I am now certified until August of 2009 (so if you're going to impale yourself, do it before then, OK?)

Other than that… still busy slacking…

Friday, August 18, 2006

Busy resting

I learned something about myself on my quest for fitness and health. When I tried to be less perfectionist, less “Type A” and to “break” bad habits, I struggled – and still do.

One example is studying. When I study or read, I eat. Constantly.

Try cutting out that habit when starting a Ph.D. program. Nuh-uh! Didn’t work.

Instead I had to change what I ate. I used to go through entire family-sized bags of chips while reading at night. Now I chow down on celery stalks and cucumber. I was unable to “break” my habit. I had to change it, instead. I had to trade really bad habits for better ones. Thinking about eliminating them was just inconceivable.

(I’ve just come in from being outside for an hour and a half, reading. My gut is stuffed with veggies as I write this.)

This week, I’m supposed to be “resting”, taking it easy, doing “light activities”. When I think of this, my brain goes into a tailspin. Rest? What the hell? I mean, I sleep every day. Isn’t that enough “rest”? The thought of “doing nothing” shorts out my personal mental programming.

So instead, I have re-framed my week of being banned from the gym. I have decided that for one week, my job is to be the best slacker I can possibly be… no going to the gym, no “secret” workouts at home (yes, I have some weights and exercise equipment at home… I just prefer the gym) and no stressing about the fact that I am not working out.

Nope. Instead, my job is to put my feet up, slack off, laze about and practice not feeling guilty about any of it. I can do “light” cardio and in fact, I went for a short bike ride last night. But otherwise, I am in Full Slacker Mode.

My house mate is away until Tuesday, which means I can be a slob at home, too. I purposely have not done dishes in two days… just because my job now is to be a slacker. I came in to work later than I had planned yesterday… just because I could. Heck, it’s summer and my hours are supposed to be “flexible” anyway, so why not?

I have scheduled more coffee dates and lunches for next week than I’ve had in weeks. I mean, heck, aren’t socializing and eating out considered somewhat “slack” activities? Besides, let’s be honest… eating is one of my favorite past times…

So, instead of 'doing nothing' (the very idea of which fills me with a certain dread and guilt) I have decided to be an Over Achiever at slacking off, resting and taking it easy. I do have one thing planned for this weekend that I'll tell you about in the next post, but apart from that -- bring on the slack life!

Hell, I’m considering not even showering for the next few days.

OK, so that part was a joke. But you get the idea...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kicked out of the gym

Yup. You read that right.

My trainer has kicked me out of the gym. At least for a week. He calls it a "Rest Week". (Yeah, right!)

The words "plateau" and "you just need a break" came up during our conversation. If I look back on my training log for the past couple of weeks, I can begin to see telltale signs of the beginnings of being overtrained - a higher-than-usual heart rate, no motivation to work out, trouble sleeping, generally feeling low on energy and a bit cranky. I think the "rest week" is a way of nipping it in the bud before it becomes full-blown burn out.

Well, whatever. I'm to stay the hell away from the gym for a week. Trainer's orders.

Yaaay!!! (Ooops! Did I say that?!)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Isn't she sexy?

A. went with me yesterday to help me pick her out. (And yes... it's definitely a "she". I mean, with curves like that, how could she not be??)

Interestingly, there was a tag on her saying she's made for some one 5'6" - 5'9", with a 26" to 29" inseam.

Now, how many people do you know who are 5'6" with a 26" inseam?? Puh-lease! I'm barely 5'1" and my inseam is 28"!

Needless to say, we just tried different bikes until we found the right one. This was it. We agreed that we liked the colour... and it's "made in Canada", too. (I didn't know we made bikes in this country... Shows how much I know!)

And I have a nice red helmet to go with her, too.

In my mind, I ride like a walrus... Really, it's just embarrassing. But whatever... I took her out for a test drive tonight and I have to tell you, I was surprised... I got on and... rode. Not wobbled. Rode! Imagine that! All that core work in the gym has paid off!

Naturally, I avoided busy streets, but really... it's much better than I remember. Best of all, I arrived home in one piece - after half an hour of riding around, trying out the various speeds and of course, the brakes. It was fun!

I think I'll go out again tomorrow!

Saturday, August 12, 2006


After a year and a bit of working out, for the first time, my motivation has tanked. It was like someone flipped a switch. I feel like I could walk away and never look back. I doubt I will, but the very fact that I have this feeling surprises me.

I have heard others talk about how hard it is to get motivated to get to the gym or do whatever form of exercise they do, and I have listened, nodding... but not understanding. After I finally got comfortable in the gym, I looked forward to it... "Sarah time".

But now... I get it.

Dragged my sorry ass into the gym today, wanting to be anywhere else. I burned through a quickie workout in 45 minutes... No way I could stand my usual 1.5 to 2 hours in there.

Maybe it's that my chiropractor has been on holidays for 2 weeks and my entire body feels shattered. Maybe it's that I had every intention of being outside running this summer and injury has prevented that... and I feel "stuck" inside... Maybe it's that I'm just bored of my current workout...

Don't really know.

I was talking to A. about it today. She said, "Your motivation can't have tanked! You're my inspiration!"

Truth be told, I think we are each other's inspiration. She's one of my heroes, as much in fitness as in life.

Today she accompanied me on a little expedition which may help me to get out of the rut... Dunno...

In the meantime, I am left wondering what the hell has happened... ?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Maybe I'm crazy...

Funny how the universe works. A post over at Robb’s today reminds us all that time is precious and it is worth a few moments to tell our family members how much we love them…

Today I did something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while… but hesitated, not wanting the person in question to think I was crazy… or hitting on him (which I wasn’t).

A little over a year ago, when I first started going to the gym, I was overwhelmed with terror. Those of you who have been following this blog know all about that. I kept my eyes downcast and tried to blend into the wall, not wanting to be noticed by anyone.

Well one day, I was sitting on the bike, huffing and puffing away and the guy on the bike next to me just started to chat with me – out of the blue. I had seen him in there before. He typically chatted with the staff (I wondered if maybe he used to work there or something, since he knew them all).

He was hot. We’re talking ripped beefcake… That’s never really been my type (still isn’t), but he also had this amazing smile which he managed to share while dripping in sweat, chatting away.

I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what to say, really.

I am not the kind of girl that gym beefcakes tend to chat up. Ever. Especially not when I was nudging 200 lbs.

But whatever.

That day, that guy talked to me. And I never forgot.

I’ve seen him around since, but we’ve never really chatted again (most likely because I was too stupefied to have an actual conversation with him in the first place).

Today, I saw him at the gym again. As usual, he was chatting with various staff members as he did his own personal Tour de France on the stationary bike… dripping and smiling.

Finally, as I was almost done… stretching on the mats, and I saw that he was alone, I went up to him and said, “You probably don’t remember this, but about a year ago, when I first started coming here, you chatted to me one day while we were both on the bikes. At the time, I needed all the positive encouragement I could get… I was totally overwhelmed and intimidated… And you made me feel great that day. I don’t even remember what we talked about… Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not hitting on you. I just wanted to say thanks. You made my day that day.”

Naturally, he was shocked… Of course he didn’t remember talking to me. He may think I’m some kind of freak… who knows?

The point is that I have been wanting to thank him for a long time… and I never had the guts… too shy (hard to believe, I know!) or maybe just didn’t want him to take it the wrong way.

Robb is right. Life is short… and when people make a difference to us in a positive way – however big or small, they deserve to know about it.

I took a risk walking up to this fella today. (I don’t even know his name… Never occurred to me to actually introduce myself!) Like I said… he probably thinks I’m a lunatic… but I’m guessing that even if he does, he’s secretly pleased that someone told him he made them feel great one day… even if he doesn’t remember doing so.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hitting the big 60 (repeatedly)

No, it is not my birthday… The title will be explained shortly.

But before that, I just have to tell you that I am feeling much better now! Yaay! (Had sushi for supper last night, so that should speak volumes.)

As for what it was, I ate at home and I think it was either whole egg or the egg white product (called Egg Creations... a variation on Egg Beaters). As part of my quest to eat lean proteins and less fat, I bought the egg white product for the first time last week, to try it out... Yeah, um... We won't be doing that any time again soon! Really, I can't be sure what it was, but that's my guess...

Anyway... changing the subject, I have good news to report from my July training log. No, sadly, I am not back to running yet... The plantar fasciitis hangs on... Continues to improve, though at a snail's pace, it seems.

What I did manage to do was 60 minutes of cardio last month -- with little or no knee pain. For those ultra-runners who follow the blog, a mere 60 minutes is just a warm up for you, I know, but for me, it is a bit of a personal record... at least since I started my training a year ago.

Given my track record of doing something and then having to stop right away again due to injury or pain, I held back on reporting this until I could confidently say I'd done it more than once. I am happy to report that I repeated the 60-minute stint several times in July -- and I'm still walking around without a knee brace!

Our gym has a 30-minute limit on cardio machines. Sometimes you can get away with more if it's not busy, but in general I try to respect the time limits (within about 5 minutes or so). I figure that it just wouldn't be good to tick off the gym staff, especially since I see these people six days a week! So, my 60 minutes is comprised of half the time on the stationary bike and half on the eliptical.

After an analysis from my trainer on my technique on the elliptical, I have been working to improve it so my knees and hips track better... and my knees hurt less as a result.

I have been using my HR monitor through much of the month, with a focus on keeping my HR fairly low… in the “fat burning zone” or low intensity cardio training. I didn’t want to do too much too fast (again!) One thing I have noticed is that I need to put the resistance on the bike up a couple of levels higher than I did at the beginning of July, just to get my HR in the same zone… A good indicator of adaptation and improvement.

So… I finished July being very happy with my training for the month… the most pain-free month I’ve had since getting injured… and better performance than I’ve had since I started training over a year ago.

(Have I mentioned that my chiropractor is wonderful?)