Tag Archives: exercise

The Heal Thy Steff Plan: The Victoria Model v2.0

I try to learn life lessons where I can, but I’m not sure what to glean from spending $95 on a massage, then sleeping on my arm wrong.

Sometimes, maybe there isn’t a lesson. Sometimes, maybe life’s just stupid.

Ignoring the “Oops, I did it again” sleep and all, the massage was awesome. I’m still in a frustrated headspace, though. This weekend, some game-planning’s goin’ down.

See, like the ever-smart pragmatist I try to be, I realized the year-end was upon us and I’ve begun trying to make all my leftover medical benefits vanish by way of use, rather than time running out on me.

I took this shot near my home yesterday. Had a 4km pre-breakfast sunrise walk. Beats the shit out of walking to a bus stop on a busy thoroughfare, like I’d be doing back in the city in the morning.

Hello, beefy masseur. Howdy, Mr. Chiro. Bonjour, acupuncturist. Allo, physiotherapist. Holy fuck, look at that crowded calendar.

Thus begins the 10-week intensive Heal Thy Steff regimen. Oh, and I’m signing up for yoga at the end of the month, and I’ve just joined the gym. I’ll continue with my avid walking/cycling life as well, with my last bus ride having been in July.

It’s about to become a very anti-social, very focused, and very broke end-of-year for me, but with, I hope, fantastic results. I’m imagining myself starting 2013 in the best mind/body place I’ve been in for a few years. But I’m under no illusions that this will be an easy time of life management or physicality. Time to get my game on.

Last year, when I did something similar, I spent my funds completely differently — on experimental stuff on the other side of town, after which I’d get home tired, often soaked, and frustrated. This time, I’m doing more traditional treatments I know have worked for me before, and I don’t need to spend 70 hours a month on the bus to make it happen. Instead, everything’s within 2.5 kilometres of me.

I’m switching chiropractors, which is the one big risk. The guy I’m with has worked with many Olympians and is incredible, but he also causes a lot of pain. I’m in constant inflammation, and I’m just wondering if someone else who uses the same techniques can be a little more forgiving with my body. The worst thing is, his time management sucks. Out of about 15 appointments, only 3 times have I gotten in with less than 15 minutes’ waiting, and at least 5 times I have waited 45 minutes. I know I’m not some big fancy rich person or anything, but my time’s valuable to me, too.

And given I’m cycling 30 minutes/9km each way to his appointment, that’s adding up to about 2 hours of my time, not to mention the half-hour I have to stretch after all the cycling’s done, or that I usually justify this time/effort spent as a reason to order bad food on my way home. Add to that the money I’ve spent on the session, and suddenly it’s a black hole of time and expense, and usually ends up making me bitchy.

So, Olympians or no, I’m moving on to someone closer, whose bio sounds like he has a similar life/wellness perspective as what I’m hoping to attain.

Any way you slice it, this plan I have in mind will take tremendous discipline, a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. It’s a huge commitment, and one I’ve not been ready to make before now. In 3 weeks, I’ll be meeting with a prominent physiotherapist who’s got an amazing background, and I will be getting a program started with him.

It also means I put writing on the back burner once again.

My recent birthday, and getting my new driver’s license, has opened this realization that I’ve been on this five-year journey through a lot of levels of pain, and I’m fucking tired, man. It needs to end. If it means I throw EVERYTHING at this, for one amazing 10-week period, and see where it gets me, then so be it.

Five years ago, I got my driver’s license photo back and this massively fat face was peering back at me. I’d just quit a job that had sent me spiralling towards depression because my employer was a toxic, negative hag who had high turnover with good reason, and went back to a job I’d always enjoyed (and am still at). I chose to do something about that depression by way of exercise and eating better, and adopted a lot of good habits, worked crazy hard, and lost 85 pounds in the next year (but gained 10 back immediately, and maintained a 75-lb loss for the next 2+ years) before blowing my back 4 years ago this month.

The last four years have been a repetitive story of rehab and fall-backs, including me regaining weight (it was 25 lbs when I left Vancouver, spiked to 35lbs after, and now is at 28lbs regained, so…).

All this culminated in this year’s decision that the city was killing me and I needed a slower pace of life that would be kinder to my body.

So, I sit here now, typing in my pajamas before a day of working from home, which is some 7 or so blocks from one of North America’s best urban ocean stretches, where I find my soul and refill it often.

I have come a long, long ways in the last seven months since my move.

It’s why I’m ready to make the commitment now, despite the fact that the fat, long-injured girl deep inside me is scared as hell about what it’s gonna feel like to go hard and face all the things that emotionally come with rehabbing your body after injury.

I suspect I’ll get bored of being in all the same neighbourhoods by the end of this year, since I’ll be in a 3-5km radius for much of the winter months, until Victoria is bike-friendly and pretty and warm for cycling again, but at least I’m close enough to never have an excuse to not cycle to appointments, since it would amusingly take about 3 times as long to bus as it would to cycle.

I’m scared and excited, but either way, time to go to the next level of Steff v2.0: The Victoria Model.

Let’s do this.

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Riding the Wave: Back at It

It’s been a day filled with plumbing excitement. I returned home last evening to find some other tenant’s mystery filth backed up in my bathroom sink.

18 hours later, it’s as good as new, and was even cleaned by the handyman. A year ago, I’d be waiting for a couple days or more, since, hey, bathroom sinks aren’t as important as kitchen sinks, and they didn’t rate the same service by my slack-ass jerk of a former landlord.

In little things like how my building is maintained, my life has changed from night to day in a year.

Sure, I need little things yet… like, you know, friends. But I know me and I’ll get ‘em. And I’ll get ‘em when I’m feeling better about myself than I have been before now, and I’ll net better quality people, because that’s what happens when you’re in a better place in both your life and your mind. It’s always about quality for me.

Who I am *right now* is much, much closer to the person I’ve been trying to get back to for quite some time.

My health’s improving on every level. I think know I bottomed out with the move here, but that was after what had been the most difficult year of my life. So, naturally, one has a little nuclear fall-out dealio with that.

But if this is how much everything has improved since July 1, then I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

September 1st is my six-month anniversary of becoming a Victorian in this fine town, and the first four months were rife with a great deal of pain and injuries. I had a whole lot of painkillers for three-plus months there, people. Now I take maybe a pill a week. That’s, you know, improvement — or great restraint! But, no, it’s improvement. I just don’t need it because I’m just “regular sore” now and I’m woman enough to handle it.

I’ve gone from, in the third week of April, barely getting through a 5km bike ride without back twinges to being able to cycle 35km/130 minutes in an evening and just being ass-draggin’ wasted-tired, not crippled.

I’m trying to be active daily, usually walking 5 kilometres or cycling 10 kilometres, or more, a combination of both, every day. I’m using my balance ball chair for watching TV most days (but took the back off, because that’s just counterintuitive!) for an hour or more, I’ve phased in some weightlifting.

Now I’ve discovered I’ve healed my badly injured-and-then-reinjured-in-a-biking-accident shoulder on my own mostly, and I’ve gone from being unable to do a side plank AT ALL in the last three years to being able to do one for more than 30 seconds yesterday.

I’m only now returning to the level I was at in late 2009 in what I am able to do, but I’ve gained weight.

Now I’m past the “painful incapable stage” where I couldn’t DO anything, but I’m in the Oh-Fuck-I-Hurt stiff-ass sore-everywhere phase one gets into after they’ve started firing on all exercise gears. At least I’ve worked up to this stage slowly, so it’s only the first day or two of trying something new where it hurts. Today is residual pain from rediscovering planks and push-ups, but it’s not “something’s wrong” pain or over-inflamed, so I know it’s all good.

Shortly, I expect to actually enjoy working out without being apprehensive about what The Day After will bring, and I see myself being pumped about lifting weights and doing plyometrics.

Diet? I’m conjuring a plan to increase my meat and vegetables, and cut out carbs but I’m not too optimistic there yet, and I think this is the week I get serious. No more chocolate and other treats, no more fucking around with monster portions.

There gets to be a point where you’re working too hard to keep blowing out your diet. Like that time I cycled 35 kilometres from out of town to home, for more than two hours of cardio, then ate a whole commercial small pizza with a bottle of wine? Yeah. Talk about oxymoronic. But it was delicious and well-earned. Just… you know. Didn’t change anything, and I coulda.

I know people panic about getting everything right all at once, and I know it’s awesome result-wise when you do, but I’m just not that person. I can’t make radical changes all at once.

The moving-to-a-new-city thing was radical enough for one season. Yet, I’ll be phasing in new changes weekly. Little things here and there. Like, I’m considering going cold turkey on butter/margarine for a month. If I do it now, I can have it back for my birthday… Ooh.

So this is where I’m at, people. I’m working a lot. Exercising a lot. Changing my mind and body, if not yet the diet. Sort of figuring out where the hell I’m headed, but liking the view as I go.

It’s pretty much a deeply personal time as I kind of clue into a lot of things. But it’s a good time. Now and then, I’ll share some with you.

Hope you’re doing well too.

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Building Blocks: Mastering Less as More

It’s been a long week and you’re probably wondering how it went, given my dreaded Month of Suck admission last week.

I’ve spent this past week slowly recalibrating myself, lowering my expectations, ditching my guilt, and focusing on the individual steps to take rather than being overwhelmed by the bigness of my journey…

Found on SciFiTV.com.And it’s been much, much better.

My workout with Le Physique’s Nik Yamanaka last Monday was really an empowering start to my week. She was empathetic, didn’t dwell on my admitted failings, changed the game up a little, challenged me, and provided great positivity, support, and encouragement during the workout. She also brought The Funny, and we like The Funny.

It wasn’t that she was babying me, not by a long shot. She pushed me enough, and god knows I felt it the next night as the Screaming Thighs of Fury set in a day after the epic “Let’s try some lunges” experiment, but she didn’t push me past what I could take.

Who cares about the Screaming Thighs of Fury, though?

Face it, anyone who doesn’t have killer-sore legs after doing their first-ever triple-set of lunges is probably immortal. We don’t like those people.

We really, really don’t like those people. But I digress.

Aside from letting me ditch my guilt and shame by playing me her version of the “everyone has reversals” record, Nik also provided a lightbulb moment when it came to stretching.

I think I know better than most people the profound difference that can come from tweaking a stretch angle by a few degrees, so I was really surprised to find that, a) I’m still being uber-overzealous in my hamstring stretching, b) it’s probably a huge part of why my hamstrings never stretch out, and c) it’s likely instrumental in why I have recurring back issues on a small scale all the time.

Nik drove the point home that the hamstring is a very gentle stretch, and one of the most important ones we can do. She said to wait while the hamstring naturally extends itself. Stretch the leg to the point of feeling it, hold, as it releases and resistance lessens, extend slightly further, hold, repeat, etc.

Okay, whoa, hold them technique-horses a moment.

This needs saying: I’m not a licensed kinesiologist, I’m not edumacatin’ you on stretching, and you shouldn’t be doing anything by way of my limited explanations here. This was a trained professional explaining the best way of stretching for MY body. Your body is a whole ‘nother thang, and this is why certified personal trainers are a wise idea for anyone embarking on a new life of fitness: Because every body responds a little differently.

(But if you’re like most people, you probably should be stretching those hamstrings more, honey.)

Anyhow, that slight adjustment, less-kamikaze approach has been making a difference in my legs and back this week, but there’s another stretch that’s proven monumentally important to me, now that I’ve been hearing Nik’s voice in my head all the time: “Drop your shoulders. Drop your shoulders.”

I’ve always had my shoulders up too high during stretches — and now I realize my stretches are probably largely responsible for the “tension headaches” I get, or at least as responsible as other things, like carrying too many groceries or wearing heavy shoulder bags.

By keeping my shoulders down during the stretches, I’ve greatly reduced the headaches that were seriously cramping my style. Whew. Fantastic.

So, where didn’t my week go as ideally?

Well, everywhere, of course.

But “perfect” wasn’t my goal.

Sure, I didn’t exercise the “Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names” routine, but I decided to cut myself slack and instead just focusing on Doing it Right and Feeling Good Later. Nik seems to approve.

I still haven’t stretched often enough, eaten as well as I would like, but I really don’t care.

I really don’t — because I’ve done everything better, I feel better, and I know I can still do better.

The difference is, this time I feel like doing better isn’t going to kill me. I don’t feel the dread and fear I was feeling for a while, when I kept paying for my efforts with negative fall-out (thanks to the trifecta of overdoing it, poor sleep, and bad stretching.)

Now I think “doing better” might even have me feeling better overall.

Working out through my pneumonia recovery has proven challenging, but I’m finally at the point where pushing cardio may still have me spent and asleep on the sofa by 8:30, but a good night’s sleep recharges that battery, and I find myself with more to give the next day.

That’s a new thing — having more to give — and a good thing.

Will I manage the Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names program this week?

No, probably not, but I can get closer, do it better, feel stronger, and have the feeling that I’m adding to success rather than kicking myself when I’m down.

I’m listening to my body with exercise, and soon I know I’ll be listening to it for food, too. That’s always a 1–2 thing for me — I get the exercise sorted, then figure out the food.

All in all, it feels like the pieces are falling into place — or, rather, that I’m kicking ass and throwing them into place.

This week, less has been more.

By doing less and feeling like I’ve executed it better, or more well, or more promisingly, the emotional gains and the confidence I now have in going forward is both a pivotal and welcomed change in my life.

I knew I’d get here, but it was just such a rocky road with so many obstacles, and me with my lack of objectivity at the time.

Recalibrating, lowering expectations, and focusing on technique but working through obvious pains while trying to reduce unnecessary pain, have been a key in my week of regrouping.

Going into this week with a little less fear and a little more confidence will be a nice change, provided I remember that it’s doing less, but doing it better, that’s being my “more” right now.

Baby steps, baby.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.
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Ratcheting It Up After a Slow Afternoon

Yesterday I cycled 42 kilometres.

That’s the fifth time I’ve ever bested 40km in a day. It felt pretty awesome, because it’s the first time out of all those times that I managed to Finish Strong.

Fitness, for me, isn’t just about health. It’s about proving things to myself. It’s about saying now that “That can’t beat me anymore.”

It’s about saying “I Win.”

There was a time when cycling a round trip of 7 km to my bookstore job would add about 40 minutes to my day. It once took me 74 minutes to cycle 12km home from downtown (with about 4-5km uphill), not including “catching my breath” breaks.

Now I can do it in about 34 minutes.

Being athletic isn’t about where you start, it’s about where you make it go. It’s a mindset, a way of life, a credo, and a pursuit. It’s about taking control of your health and dominating something, ANYTHING, in life.

Me? It’s been a long, long time of slowly improving and constantly setting new goals. “Okay, I did that. Now what?”

The only problem I run into, though, is who I was versus who I am.

I wrote once about how Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of The Tipping Point applied to me, personally, with my weight issues. Gladwell asserts it takes 10,000 hours to gain expert proficiency at any one thing.

Well, I spent 218,000-plus hours chasing the “expert” status in Being Fat. I mastered that shit. I came pretty close to being The Funny Forever-300-Pounds Friend.

Now, with all my weight-loss efforts, I’m probably over the 10,000-hour mark for Kicking Ass and Taking Names, but the 218,000-plus of fatty-school hours did some pretty intense conditioning to this Bear of Little Brain, I tell ya.

This week, though, I measure myself and learn I’ve lost 2 more inches off my hips and 2 more off my waist. Somehow, there’s this band in between that isn’t yet giving, but hey, movement in the other areas is fantastic. I’m closing in!

Today I’m learning about diabetes, and I’m reminded just how preventable that disease is.

I’m loving that exercise is such a major factor in how likely you are to prevent or reverse its occurence.

I’m loving that I can now describe myself, most weeks, as being “active”.

I can’t tell you the satisfaction of yesterday doing a ride that killed me years ago — when I used to do a 20km shorter version of it, and tackling on an extra 10km on an already-50%-longer route for the hell of it because I had “more left in me”.

It’s with a great deal of smugness I can casually state what I’m capable of doing these days, when the opportunity to talk about it comes up — only because I know how hard I’ve tried to get here. I’m the one on the other side of painkillers, ice bags, chiropractor appointments, and everything else I’ve had to learn to use to my advantage as I suffer through the acrimony of Becoming UnFat. I’m the one on the other side of asthma.

I don’t know.

I don’t know what I want you to take from this, why I’m writing it. I guess I ultimately hope that anyone who’s out there who’s not fit or active can learn what it’s taken me a long time to work through — that you don’t need to remain who you are today, that exercise does hurt but it’s supposed to, and it’s in that struggle and pain and recovery that we become new, better, more confident people.

Even if you’re “skinny-fat”, inactivity kills people every day, and the lack of self-esteem from being inactive cripples people every single minute of every day.

My athletic accomplishments make me stronger in every single life experience I face, because I know the mental fatigue I can overcome, and the physical strength I’ve shown. I KNOW it now. I’ve proven it to myself.

It’s not about filling 30 minutes with walking because the doctor says to do so. It’s your opportunity to set a goal and kill it.

If you’re not huffing, puffing, sweating, and wheezing, then you’re simply not exercising hard enough — whether you’ve got 10 minutes to do it or an hour.

Leave everything on the floor, and you’ll know it.

And a few hours later, then a few weeks later, and then a few months later, you’re gonna increasingly love it.

Today, I’m recuperating a little. Soon, after a healthy meal, a healthy snack packed, and hydrating a little more, I’m off to ratchet up at least another 25 km today.

Come Tuesday morning, I want to feel like I won the Weekend Warrior challenge.

It’s the athletic version of the old saying “Why do I keep hitting myself in the head with a hammer? Well, ‘cos it feels so good when I stop.”

If you don’t know that feeling, isn’t it time you started?*

*The first 3 weeks will suck. The best antidote to stiffness and sore worked-out muscles is to do it all over again. Ice. Advil. Whatever the common prescriptions are for overcoming training, go for it. In a few weeks, they’ll not be necessary anymore. You, too, will be a fitness machine, grasshopper. If I could do it? SERIOUSLY, you can.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I started the Bonus Resolution plan for FREE and I get a whole extra month of kicking ass and taking names! My 2010 started on December 1st!

It’s the Olympic year in Vancouver, you know. “Citius. Altius. Fortius.” Faster. Higher. Stronger.

Considering a couple years ago I weighed 65 pounds more, couldn’t run a block, do a single push-up, and was 8 sizes larger, being faster, getting higher, and becoming stronger than I already am will be a challenge. And I’m so up for it!

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In Vino Veritas: I Fucking Rocked It

I had wanted to post this on Monday morning, having written it Sunday morning, but was having issues with getting footnoting working with this template of mine. And since the footnotes are where all the “funny” is in this posting, I wanted them working. Here you go! Finally.

It’s 5:05am. I’m not really drunk anymore, but with any luck I’ll be tipsy in a few. 1 This is a mighty big sunrise glass of wine I’ve poured, and there’s another to go.

Insomnia. Staring at a black ceiling. Mind whirling in a million directions — boys and summer and bikes and money and–and–and– 2

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