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
- 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.
- 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).
- In a medium bowl mix the nut butter, coconut milk, aminos, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and lime juice.
- Begin grilling the chicken, depending on the thickness it should be grilled about 6 minutes per side to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Mix spiraled/peeled veggies with cilantro and stir in sauce.
- 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.
- 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)
- KB backward lunge row and pass under x 20 (26lb KB)
- Weighted sit-up and butt-lift x 10 (15lb dumbbell)
- Single-leg lateral lift x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
- KB Single-leg deadlifts x 5 each side (26lb KB)
- 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.
- Weighted double-leg lifts x 15 (5 lb ankle weights)
- Single-leg lateral lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
- Single-leg medial lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
- 2 X 20 Kettlebell One-Arm Swings (15lb KB)
- Figure 4 Squats x 12 each leg (15lb KB)
- 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!!
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.
- 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. 🙂
- 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
- 30 minute Barre Pilates class
- 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
- 2 Rounds:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike.
- 30 minutes of Anusara for Head, Neck, and-Shoulders
- 75 minute Intermediate Yoga class
- 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!!
About two weeks ago I wrote a long post about how I injured my knee at the end of May and the many frustrations I’ve had seeking proper treatment for it. I thought it was my best entry ever, which meant, naturally, that the entire body of the post disappeared when I hit “publish”. After much ado, tech support let me know there was no hope in getting it back. I will hopefully wrangle up the hutzpah to re-write it at some point, but for now I’m just moving on.
So, quick facts on what’s up:
- The last week of May I banged my knee against the climbing walls while bouldering (not unlike me, I have very little grace in my legs when I climb) and bruised my distal quad tendon right at the top of the patella.
- The very next day I could barely move my knee and was in a ton of pain. Ice/rest/elevation and I was getting better.
- Feeling better, I went back to my normal workouts, which left me unable to walk for two days…crap.
- Spent a month modifying workouts and using ice when needed. No pain killers. Still struggling with pain so I saw my PCP, who sent me to an Orthopedist, who diagnosed me with a very small tear on the distal quad tendon and sent me to Physical Therapy.
- I haven’t been able to teach yoga since I can’t squat or lunge, I also can’t run/jump or do bodyweight exercises with significant quad engagement. Not easy, but I’ve been making it work.
- Just started PT yesterday, which already has made a difference. I have scar tissue in my quad so it will take 4-6wks to repair, as opposed to ~3 if I came in right away, but it WILL repair.
So I’m looking at about another month of recovery as long as I’m careful and keep my fitness up. Unfortunately, much of what I’ve been asked to do (swimming, cycling) I can’t do at home so my loving partner bought me a 1 month membership at our local
cattle-call gym. It’s one of those fancy Boston Sports Clubs and, frankly, I fucking hate it. That said, recovery is the most important thing. I’m a physical person, I have two physical jobs and I was preparing for a climbing comp in September, which I still have a chance for if I take care of myself. My leg will also, hopefully, be with me my entire life so I have to treat it right.
I’m posting today to start a log of my workouts. This may not be daily, but I thought this would both help me track what I’m doing and possibly help give others with knee injuries ideas on what they can do. The most common thing I see as a massage therapist is clients who get injured, get out of a normal exercise routine, lose fitness and struggle to get it back or give up entirely and become sedentary. I’ve personally seen this lead to chronic health issues including depression, chronic aches and pains, insomnia, and in extreme cases issues like heart conditions and diabetes due to weight gain. Let’s face it, we all know proper diet and exercise make a huge improvement to our quality of health, so the lack of exercise can lead to poorer health. This is one of the reasons I’m fighting to stay fit, while also ensuring I treat my knee right to prevent further injury. The Orthopedist said this is not a time to “play through the pain” unless I want to be back in 6 months with a completely torn tendon; at which point I would need surgery. No surgery, please!
On to the workouts…
First one is a circuit I’ve been doing at home. I start with a 5-10 min warmup and end with ~15 minutes of yoga for a cool down, ensuring that I’m not doing lunges, squats or two-legged planks on the right.
- One-Legged Wide-Arms Pushups x 10 (bad leg on top)
- Bicep and forearm curls x 20 each (10lbs)
- Tricep overhead and push x 20 each (10lbs)
- L side-crunch x 20
- R side-crunch x 20
- Chest push and flys x 20 each (10lbs)
- Kettlebell Seated Twists x 40 (26lbs)
- Weighted sit-ups x 10 (15lbs)
- Butt-lifts->legs straight full sit-ups x 10
- One-Legged Close-Arms Pushups x 10 (bad leg on top)
And here’s what I did for my first two days at the gym:
7/14/14 – Total time: 1:15
- 45 min spin class without standing
- 10 mins stretching
- 8 laps in olympic-sized pool, various strokes
- 10 mins sauna
Reaction: Spin class was SO BORING!! I really struggle with machines that use a lot of cardio but don’t go anywhere. I get the rat-in-a-cage syndrome. That said, I have to bike right now so…
7/15/14 – Total time: 1:15
- 30 mins cycling, using intervals for both speed and tension
- 5 mins upper-body stretching
- Circuit 2x of:
- Chest push and flys on ball x 10 each (12.5lbs)
- Bicep and forearm curls x 10 each (12.5lbs)
- Tricep overhead and push on ball x 10 each (12.5lbs)
- Leg lift series (per PT):
- Lying on back, lift one leg up, foot flexed, and lift upper body into a crunch x 10 each side.
- Side leg-lifts x 10 each side.
- Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 10 each side.
- Side-crunches x 10 each side.
- 5 mins stretching
- Swam 5 laps, various strokes, one lap with kick board.
- Attempted to sit in steam room, it smelled like a pile of old socks.
Reaction: This was much more my style, even though I still wanted to gauge my eyes out during the cycling. It’s so boring. I have to find a way to make it more fun. The circuit was good, shorter than I’d like but it’s hard to fit everything in before work. As it is, ideally my PT would like me to do 40 mins on the bike and I’d like to have swam longer, but I really needed the circuit to make me feel good in my upper body and abs. I realize swimming is a full-body workout, but as someone who’s used to lifting weights, it’s not enough for my upper body.
Through this process I’m also tightening up my diet. I have been cheating on my food allergy diet off and on since moving back to MA; lots of temptations down here. It’s amazing that in just not eating the things I’m allergic to I drop weight immediately…like 7 lbs in a week. That’s just pure gut inflammation, and I was feeling it as my belly started protruding again. For the record, this is not a calorie-restrictive diet, it’s simply not eating the foods I was diagnosed as being allergic to. Huzzah science!
Speaking of which…after a workout like that a healthy breakfast is imperative! This is what I went for:
Eggs on a gluten-free millet bun with half an avocado with salt + pepper and a small handful of fresh fruit. I have my healthy fats, a good amount of protein, and some carbs to perk me up. Feeling great!!