fitness

Fueling Up!

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Things have been going so well with my knee that I’ve stopped blogging my daily workouts and am going back to just writing about unique workouts and nutrition! It also doesn’t help that it’s school season again so my full-time job has ramped up and I’m once again at the mercy of teachers and students needing all things technical.

Yesterday I signed up for The Heist!! This is an all-women’s bouldering competition held at Central Rock Gym (my home gym) in Watertown, MA. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I heard about it after CRG’s Ring of Fire comp back in March. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to compete due to my knee, but I’m back in the gym twice a week and I’m feeling strong so let’s do this!

I’ll admit, I’m nervous. I’m still very much a beginner climber; my height to weight ratio really works against me in the gym. So even though I’ve been climbing twice a week since January, my techniques’ just so-so and I’ll be competing at a beginner’s level. This means I’ll be attempting 5 bouldering problems rated V0-V2 over the course of 3 hours. That is a LONG comp, much longer than the one I did back in March. I honestly rarely do gym sessions that are so long and while the length is really to give people time to rest between attempts, folks who need more attempts (as I might due to my level) will just end up climbing more. My goal is literally to not come in last. This is a real goal for me because in my last comp, well, I came in last. 

Due to the healing time for my knee I missed out on the chance to train with The Heist CRG Team so for now I’m on my own. I’m training by bouldering once a week to gain strength and skill and top roping once a week to help me with endurance. I also just treated myself to new shoes (I’ll blog about those another time) since my old shoes were starting to fall apart and really weren’t ideal for bouldering. On the days I’m not in the gym I’m doing a mix of cardio (biking for my knee), tabata/HiiT workouts, kettlebell strength training, and yoga.

It’s been interesting, as I work to strengthen my legs and upper body I’ve been gaining weight. A chunk of that is from new muscle, but if I’m honest with myself a larger chunk comes from allowing myself to drift into a summer junk food diet cheating more and more on my allergy diet. I’d still say overall I’m a very healthy eater, but I’ve had fried clams/oysters, lobster salads, bagels with lox, burgers and beer, Mexican and margaritas, and all sorts of things that are great once in a while but not once a week. It’s time to slim down, which means being strict about not eating foods I’m allergic to and keeping my portions reasonable with a paleo-tilt. Every pound in my body is a pound I’m dragging up the wall with me. Thankfully, this is also harvest season so my kitchen is FULL of local, organic produce, most of which from my or my Dad’s garden.

This week I’m trying out a few new recipes. The first one was Punjabi Baingan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish that I actually enjoy (I usually hate eggplant). I basically followed that recipe to a T except that I quadrupled the amount of garam masala, added a little turmeric and cardamom, and used an immersion blender at the end. Its was so good!

Last night though was INCREDIBLE!! It was adapted heavily from this recipe, but I’ll put my whole recipe here.

Grilled Chicken with Raw Peanut Ginger Lime Veggies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, or an oil of your choosing
  • 3 large or 5 small carrots, spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 large zucchini spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 medium beet spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter if you’re strict paleo)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk (use canned or “cooking coconut milk”)
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

*Note: I use the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer but have my eye on the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. The GEFU works well for zucchini but for the carrots and beets I just used a vegetable peeler to make strips.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your grill (if it’s not grilling season you can pan-fry the chicken in coconut oil, ghee or an oil of your choosing). In a small bowl mix olive oil, salt and pepper and brush on chicken (note: if you’re pan-frying just sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken).
  2. In a medium bowl mix the nut butter, coconut milk, aminos, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and lime juice. 
  3. Begin grilling the chicken, depending on the thickness it should be grilled about 6 minutes per side to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  4. Mix spiraled/peeled veggies with cilantro and stir in sauce.
  5. After chicken has cooled for ~5 minutes cut it into bite-sized chunks and mix in with the “pasta” until fully coated in the sauce.
  6. Serves two!

Finally, here are two of my favorite DIY workouts from the past two weeks. These are both core and lower-body intensive to compliment my climbing and knee recovery, but they are still full-body workouts (and both started with 30 mins on the exercise bike doing intervals and end with 15-20 mins of yoga):

8/22/2014 3 Rounds for Time (my time = 20 mins)

  1. KB backward lunge row and pass under x 20 (26lb KB)
  2. Weighted sit-up and butt-lift x 10 (15lb dumbbell)
  3. Single-leg lateral lift x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. KB Single-leg deadlifts x 5 each side (26lb KB)
  5. Single-leg kick-backs x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)

9/3/2014 – 2 Rounds for Time (my time = 22 mins) – I purposely lowered the KB weight for this per my Physical Therapist as I get back into weighted squats. I’d normally use a 26lb KB so choose your own weight that’s right for you.

  1. Weighted double-leg lifts x 15 (5 lb ankle weights)
  2. Single-leg lateral lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  3. Single-leg medial lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. 2 X 20 Kettlebell One-Arm Swings (15lb KB)
  5. Figure 4 Squats x 12 each leg (15lb KB)
  6. Weighted Deadlift kickbacks x 15 each side (15lb KB + 5 lb ankle weights)

Enjoy the beginning of the change of season and remember to eat those fresh veggies!!

 

Feeling Great!

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I’m continuing to find improvement with my knee! Next week I’ll only be heading to PT once and as long as things are still going in the upward direction she shouldn’t need to see me again for a month, woo!! I’ve learned a lot during this process and I’m thrilled that not only did I manage to not lose fitness during my recovery period, but I’ve actually gained a ton of glute, hip, core and leg strength. I can’t say this enough, if you’re in PT do your exercises. Seriously. Your recovery is your responsibility. They’re not giving you exercises for their health, they’re giving you exercises for your health. Do them.

With that said, here’s my week in review of exercise. It was my “hell week” at work as we prepare for students to return to school so that included rolling out new machines on campus, reimaging the entire campus, rolling out six new servers and completely re-doing the server rack. In other words, it was a very physical week at work for me. I adjusted my workouts accordingly.

Saturday:

  • This was my “rest day”. I took Toby for a short hike and a swim at Burgess Pond. It was probably 45 minutes of activity and much more of just lounging. 🙂

Sunday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • 30 minute Barre Pilates class

Monday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • ZuzkaLight’s Kettlebell Series Workout #1 – I was particularly thrilled to get back to working out with Zuzka. This was the first time since I’ve been injured. I did have to substitute one exercise, but this was a fantastic workout. I’ll post the workout here (with my modification) for posterity, but for the record if you like high intensity workouts I really recommend her ZGym. It’s paid, I have no affiliation with her, but I’ve been doing her workouts for three years now and I love them! You can find many free workouts from her on YouTube.
    • 2 Rounds:
      • 40 Side-to-Side Kettlebell Swings
      • 10 Warrior Rows (LEFT)
      • Standing single-leg kick-backs x 12 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
      • 10 Warrior Rows (RIGHT)
      • 20 Clams
  • 20 mins yoga, focused on legs.
  • This was the day we loaded out all the new machines, mostly desktops. It was 8 hours of lifting and being on my feet. If I knew in advance that’s what my day was going to be I would not have done the above intense workout. Thankfully, my knee made it through ok!

Tuesday:

  • 15 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike.
  • 45 minutes advanced yoga. I didn’t go into it expecting it to be as hard-core a class as it was. After Monday I needed some recovery, but this was intense!
  • Another full day of being on my feet along with some lifting but not as much as Monday.

Wednesday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
  • Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
  • Standing single-leg kick-backs x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
  • Completely redid the server room solo. LOTS of lifting, crawling, bending, etc.

Thursday:

Friday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • 15 minutes restorative yoga
  • Gave 2.5 hours of deep tissue massage
  • 1 hour gentle yoga practice
  • I’m hopefully also going to do a round of my PT exercises today. The day is still young. 🙂

You may notice I didn’t climb this week. That was more due to my energy level this week and the amount I used my upper body at work. I’m looking forward to getting back to the rock gym next week!!

From Upswing to Awesome!

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Well my PT was right, this was my week! Wearing the brace while exercising has made a marked difference with my patella tracking. I’ll have to post about the particular brace that I’m using but I don’t have it on me at the moment. I’ve really amazed myself by what I’ve been able to do pain-free this week. Here are my past two days of exercise:

Thursday:

AM:

  1. 15 minutes on the recumbent bike.
  2. 45 minutes climbing. I felt stronger climbing today and was sad that I only had 45 minutes to spend doing it. I completed all of the V0s in the gym, many V1s and worked on a V2 that was all heal hooks (my favorite but tough on the knees). All-in-all it was a *lot* of deep squats and I didn’t feel pain, yay!!

PM:

  1. 75 minute Intermediate Yoga class. This is my favorite class of the week with my favorite teacher, Nina Carmel. I was ready to rock when I came in and she taught a very challenging and creative class. Not only did I succeed, but I did poses I didn’t think I’d be able to do for months (crow, several planks, tree, deep deep warriors, chair pose) and a *ton* of balancing. My knee didn’t hurt. I iced it afterwards just in case (my PT said I may want to do that) but I feel great today. It’s night and day from just a week ago and worlds better than a month ago. I really impressed myself and came home in such a great mood that as soon as I said “hello!” my partner knew I was psyched!

Friday:

  1. My rhomboids are killing me today from all the upper body work I’ve done this week (and we did a lot of “flying” in yoga, using my back muscles) so I didn’t work upper body today. Instead I did my PT leg exercises:
    1. Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    2. Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    3. Standing single-leg kick-backs x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
  2. Then it was off to the gym to swim 500 meters.
  3. I’m scheduled to give 4 hours and 15 minutes of deep tissue massage today so I’ll get the rest of my workout in there!

Cheers to feeling great and I hope to keep riding this upswing to the top!

Upswing

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It’s been a good week! Let me break it down by workout!

Monday found me back in the gym for a pretty intense workout. I actually got so caught up in circuit training that I never made it to the pool. I can’t say I missed the smell of chlorine in my hair though. 😉 This is what I did:

  1. 30 minutes on the recumbent bike, interval training but no steep hills (per PT).
  2. Circuit 2 x:
    1. Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    2. Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    3. Standing single-leg deadlifts to kick-backs x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle and using 26.5 lb KB)
    4. TRX low rows x 10
    5. Bicep curls x 10 (using 12 lb weights)
    6. Bicep forearm curls (using 12 lb weights)
    7. Overhead tricep extensions on an exercise ball (using 15 lb weight)
    8. French presses on an exercise ball (using 15 lb weight)
    9. Weighted pilates sit-ups (using 15 lb weight)
  3. 15 mins stretching, including full leg stretch series with resistance band.

I felt great after this workout and I saw my PT later that morning. She says my quads are getting noticeably stronger and as my vastus medialis strengthens the tracking issue with my patella should resolve. The brace I bought is making a huge difference and the PT encouraged me to start trying short-duration squats, lunges and planks.

The BIG news is TUESDAY I CLIMBED!!! Woo-hoo!! That also means I’ve re-discovered muscles in my back that I forgot I had. 😀 I started by riding a bike at the rock gym for 15 minutes and then I hit the walls. Whoo, I forgot what a cardio workout climbing is, coming into it with a sweat from the bike was tough! I started by climbing all of the V0’s, and I was feeling really good. I even did a V0 that was all overhang and it felt good and smooth. The leg exercises that my PT has had me working on are very core/psoas oriented which was perfect prep for hitting the rock walls. I felt strong despite not climbing in over a month. I then hit some V1s and a V2- before I decided I had enough. That was only about 45 minutes of climbing, but it was a great start and again the knee brace made the tracking issue nonexistent.

Tuesday after work I took a trek to Mission Hill in Boston to check out a recumbent stationary bike I found on Craigslist. It was totally what I wanted and at a good price so it was worth the almost 2 hours of driving to get it. When I got it home I did 30 mins on it.

I’ll admit, after two days of pretty intense workouts my knee was a bit sore today at the distal  tendon attachment. So this morning I just did pilates with a glute focus. I did play with squatting and lunging a bit in there. I’ve also found that planks are pretty comfortable with the knee brace so I’m excited to start doing more plank exercises. When I went to PT today I let her know I was sore, but much better than last week. She was happy with my progress and told me some sore is ok, but to monitor it. She thinks I’m on an upswing and that’s my hope and thought too.

CLIMBING AGAIN TOMORROW WOOHOO!!!!!

Back in The Saddle…Again

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Recovery has its ups and downs. I was feeling great after my last post. The knee pain was under control and I could really feel the upswing of recovery. Unfortunately, I overdid it in Seattle and have been slowly getting back to where I was this past week.

For starters, we just couldn’t find rental bikes that were affordable (I’m talking $180/wk, the same as our rental car), which put a damper on my plans to bike. It also didn’t help that we stayed in Mapleleaf, which is a long haul to downtown Seattle so the feasibility of riding daily was greatly diminished. That said, I did manage to do my PT exercises five out of the seven days we were there, and I also did laps in a pool for one day and yoga on one day. Obviously, compared to my normal workout schedule that is a drop in the bucket.

The real thing that set me back was, unfortunately, the walking. I was told walking was ok, and even light hiking would be ok. Apparently, my knee did not agree with the hills in Seattle. A few days into the trip a group of us headed to the Locks and Discovery Park. It was a long walk, up and down many hills. I was doing ok for the first few hours, but the last stretch of the hike took us up several staircases in the park and that’s when my knee pain really came back with a vengeance. I made it to North Beach and sat for a bit. By then my partner could see I wasn’t doing alright and he started trying to figure out how to get me back to the car without hiking the whole way back. He knew I was stubborn enough to just walk back, but I’ll admit I was glad he stepped in. He and a friend ended up jogging the three miles back to the car and picked the rest of us up. Since a couple of his friends were beat by then, they were happy to stay behind with me, which made me feel like less like a cripple.

By then the damage was done, so for the rest of the trip walking hills was painful both in my distal quad tendon and under the kneecap. I ended up skipping the group hike at Rattlesnake Ridge and hung out at the lake there instead, which didn’t feel like a sacrifice at all; it’s gorgeous!

Tuesday I was back in PT and let my therapist know what was up. She found that the quad tendon is doing much better, with noticeable improvement to the scar tissue, but the big issue now is the tracking of my right patella. I’ve always had tracking issues with my knees, but apparently right now the right patella is trying to go too far laterally when I bend my knee so it’s grinding on the bursa and bone beneath it, causing the pain I’m experiencing. She did the usual ultrasound, TENS and massage and we tried some kinesiotape to see if that would help.

Wednesday I was back in the gym for a “normal” workout:

  1. 30 mins on the spin bike
  2. Circuit x 2:
    1. Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    2. Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    3. Superman arm/leg lifts x 15  (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    4. 30 KB swings (26.5 lb KB)
    5. 10 KB Press each side (26.5 lb KB)
  3. 10 mins stretching, including full leg stretch series with resistance band
  4. 20 mins swimming
  5. 5 mins in the hot tub

Unfortunately, my knee actually hurt while biking, which was new. It seemed fine during the circuit but I felt the pain when I bent my knee swimming again. On Thursday I opted to just swim for 40 minutes, which was fine but kind of boring.

By the time I went to PT on Thursday I was not feeling great. My therapist spent a full hour with me, doing assessments and additional treatment. She decided the kinesiotape wasn’t enough and that I should try a thin knee brace for patella tracking. I have to say I felt great after her treatment. I picked up a knee brace that’s intended to be lightweight and is used for patella tracking. I used it for yoga last night and overall I have good things to say. It’s a bit thicker than what I’d ideally use for yoga, but I’m struggling to find a thinner product; the tape was really the ideal thickness. I did feel like the thickness compromised my flexibility since it bunches up a bit behind the knee. Per the PT’s advice, I did play around with bending my knee a bit, and it was a rigorous class and my knee didn’t hurt afterwards! I’m going to take the brace to the gym on Monday and see how I do. I was also told to not use spin bikes since the clips cause some shearing of the bone that my patella is coasting over, and the position one rides in uses more range of motion than I should use right now. So back to the normal bikes and we’ll see how it goes!

I’m so ready to be recovered. 🙂 Hoping to climb next week too!!

Killer Sunday Morning

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It’s a little hard to believe that today I’ve already been to the airport, my office, spent 1.5 hours at the gym and had an awesome breakfast and it’s not even 9:30am yet. You can do a lot when you get up at 4am…not that I recommend it. 😉

One big plus was that the gym was dead, so I felt more comfortable there than usual, and I enjoyed a whole lane to myself in the pool. Here was today’s workout. I have to say it felt harder than it looks on paper, probably because I was pretty exhausted to start with. The total time was 1.5 hours:

  1. 30 minute spinning using intervals (I used their built-in spin class option and it actually wasn’t bad, I enjoyed it more than the real spin class I took on Monday mostly because the instructor was very detailed and took a lot of time to explain proper form)
  2. Two sets of the following:
    1. Hanging straight leg lifts x 5
    2. TRX Low Row x 10
    3. Kettlebell Swings x 30 (12kg/26.5 lbs)
    4. Side-plank leg-lifts x 10 each side
    5. Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 10 each side
    6. Weighted sit-ups x 10 (15 lbs)
    7. Weighted seated twists x 20 (15 lbs)
  3. ~10 minutes of stretching, including a full leg series with a resistance band.
  4. 500 meters swimming, various strokes.

Then I hung out in the hot tub for a little bit, aiming the jets at my ITBs, which have been pretty tight this week due to all the cycling. I was thrilled that my PT cleared me to do the KB swings again, though she wants me to try to keep my legs straight, and I normally add squats to them. That was a little challenging but not bad.

I got creative today with the PT exercises. From my previous entries, this is what I’ve been tasked to do daily:

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side

I had already modified the forward leg lifts and was adding crunches and doing some as double-legs instead of single. The hanging leg lifts today were really intense and more full-body than my previous modification. I really struggled to complete 10 and am looking forward to building up to 20 at a time and beyond. Doing the side-leg-lifts in a side-plank was also quite intense and more full-body. I love that both challenged my core. For the reverse lifts I still did it the old way today, mostly due to exhaustion. I’d like to possible try them with the TRX the next time I’m back in the gym.

So that wraps up my last workout before Seattle. I’m still trying to figure out what I can do there to remain active. I’m bringing my yoga mat and am hoping to bring my ankle weights, with some of the weight removed, as long as I don’t go over the bag weight limit. I really want to rent a bike but have been FLOORED by the prices for a one week rental. I could actually buy a bike on Craiglist and give it away at the end of the week for less than the cost of renting a bike. Honestly, our car rental is cheaper than renting a bike. There is seriously something wrong with that equation.

Wish me luck and remember that injury doesn’t need to equate to a sedentary lifestyle. There’s always *something* you can do to keep moving. 🙂

Every Day is Better

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Well, that’s at least mostly true. 😉 I’m finding PT is making a HUGE difference with both my quad tendon injury and my outlook. My therapist is awesome. She’s very positive and knowledgeable. I also really appreciate that she spends so much time with me answering my questions and giving me tips.

My ankle weights came on Wednesday and holy hell are those leg exercises brutal with them! They’re not too hard, so I know the weight is right, but I actually sweat when I do them now, which is kind of awesome. Here’s a brief look at two of the exercises from my point-of-view:

Workouts from the past two days were a little light. Yesterday I was supposed to go to my awesome intermediate yoga class but unfortunately I was stuck in a server room working on upgrades-gone-wrong for 11 hours. So, no yoga for me. This is all I ended up with, a 35 min workout (I guess plus going up and down the stairs to the server room multiple times):

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift-crunches x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side
  2. 20 minute yoga-pilates fusion class.

That left me warmed up for my day, with a decent sweat going from the weights. It was a LOT of core and glute work. Again, ideally I would have also done the 75 min yoga class but that was not meant to be.

Today was a 50 minute workout:

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift-crunches x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side
  2. 35 minute advanced yoga (focusing on prep-for and actuation of bird-of-paradise).

This was a little short, but I’m giving 4 hours of massage today so I didn’t want to overdo it. I had to modify the yoga a bit (the flow included crow pose, which I can’t do right now) but overall it was a fantastic flow for stretching out my hips, glutes and hamstrings; all of which get WORKED with those PT exercises.

I’m happy to report that my knee was feeling pretty awesome Tues->Thursday. By last night it was a little stiff and it was stiff again this morning but it’s feeling great since my workout. In addition to PT and the exercise I was given, I’ve been doing self-massage using cross-fiber-friction (per the PT) and it’s amazing how much the scar tissue has broken up in just a week. I intend to hit the gym for harder workouts tomorrow and Sunday.

Next week is going to be a challenge. I’ll be in Seattle with my partner and his college buddies as they enjoy a reunion culminating in a friend’s wedding. So I’ll be away from the gym and my home weights. I’m planning on bringing lighter ankle weights, since traveling with 10 lbs of weights won’t help me with those checked-bag weight limits. The PT has given me the assignment to rent a bike, which I’m totally down for but I’m also a bit of a tag-along in this group so it will be a delicate balance of keeping myself in shape while not being aloof from the group or roping them into bike rides they might not be down for. We shall see. I’m also bringing my yoga mat so at the very least I should be able to do bodyweight exercises and some yoga. Wish me luck!