Another day, another workout. This was a bit condensed from yesterday since I had to squeeze it into an hour:
- Light warmup.
- 20 mins on the bike set to “random” with an average level at 10.
- Circuit x 2:
- Kneeling weighted pushups + rows x 10 (10 lbs each arm, totally bummed I needed to keep my knees down, but the one-leg plank didn’t work for the rows)
- Leg lift series (per PT):
Straight-leg-lift-crunches x 10
Side leg-lifts x 10 each side
Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 10 each side
- KB press R x 10 (26.5 lbs)
- KB press L x 10 (26.5 lbs)
- TRX bicep curl
- 10 mins stretching, including leg stretches with resistance band.
- Swam 500 meters
It was a good workout. Definitely got my sweat going and I felt like it was a good incorporation of full-body. Reflecting, I feel I should have just done pilates this morning though, since I did a circuit yesterday so I’ve lifted two days in a row, and tomorrow I take an intermediate yoga class at night so it would have been more balanced to do pilates today and then the hard workout tomorrow morning followed by yoga at night. I’ll get a routine going eventually. 🙂
Oh, and I rocked my Vibrams today! First day with them in the gym and it felt great! I usually exercise barefoot or in Vibrams at home so it made me feel much more comfortable.
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!!
Aside Posted on
The past month has been particularly busy, as Spring is finally here in full force and I’m happily spending as much time outdoors as possible while squeezing a ton of activity into each day. The sun stretching across so many more hours of the day means my energy is renewed and I’ve successfully sloughed off the winter urge to hibernate. I even got talked into competing in my first rock climbing comp, The Ring of Fire held by Central Rock Gym (my favorite Boston-area indoor rock gym).
It was a bit of a last-minute decision as I went in to climb the Monday before the comp and the woman working the front desk really encouraged me to sign up. I didn’t realize most comps have a Women’s Beginner’s division. I had already been planning on coming to watch the pros climb, so I figured why not give it a go. All-in-all I didn’t do terribly well (flashed the first wall, fell on the other two) but I had a lot of fun and learned a ton. I’d definitely do it again! I’m really not a competitive sports person so it was quite a surprise that I both did it and enjoyed it. Also, watching the pro finals that night was outstanding. Ashima Shirashi and Delaney Miller blew my mind, and I was seriously impressed by everyone who climbed.
The real reason I was drawn to blog today though is to address some information that’s making the rounds about Vibram Fivefingers. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you may know I started blogging when I first did the Couch-2-5k program back in the Spring of 2010. I had always hated running and used the excuse of “bad knees” to get me out of even thinking about it. I was encouraged to try running with C25K and Fivefingers as I read there were benefits of running barefoot. The biggest benefits for me were that it encouraged using a more natural stride (mid-sole/fore-foot strike instead of heel strike, working on pushing up/being springier) and increased awareness of the environment (eyes learn to scan the terrain to avoid stepping on sharp objects). I personally experienced both of those pros and also found it was the first time in my life I could run without knee pain and shin splints. I also enjoyed running for the first time as it felt like playing when my feet could really feel the textures of mud, sand, gravel, etc. It was such a positive experience for me that I’ve bough three pair of Fivefingers in the past four years and I use them for running, hiking, paddling and swimming. I even just ran my first 5K in them last weekend (note, I just started walking at this point so that heel coming down is not my normal running stride):
While I’m obviously a fan of VFF, I also realize they’re not for everyone. Depending on your foot shape and bone structure they may not be for you. I’ve also seen quite a few people injure themselves due to switching to VFFs and not weaning into them properly. VFF shoes use muscles in the feet, ankles and calves that you may not be used to using on a regular basis. This isn’t true of just VFF shoes, it’s true of beginning any new physical activity or picking up an activity after months without it. For example, how many of us know people who have become injured after heading to the gym and doing the same weight routine they did four years ago when they haven’t touched a weight in months?
So to me, it was no surprise when this research study came out citing the potential for increased foot bone marrow edema in those transitioning to VFF shoes. The thing is, some people are seriously misinterpreting this study to mean VFFs are terrible and horrible and, as one post mentioned, “will fuck up your feet”. Whereas in reality the study clearly states: “CONCLUSION: Runners interested in transitioning to minimalist running shoes, such as Vibram FiveFingers, should transition very slowly and gradually to avoid potential stress injury in the foot.” Well, that makes sense.
But let’s take a moment to break down the study. It involved 36 experienced runners, 17 in the control group ran in their normal shoes, while 19 transitioned to Vibrams. The transition plan sounded reasonable. Runners continue their normal running routines (which are 16+ miles) and use Vibrams for 1-2 miles to start and gradually increase. The thing is, the study gets a little wishy-washy from there. “It should be noted that some subjects stopped logging their runs prior to the 10th week of training and 4 of the 19 Vibram subjects did not document their training at all, though they did participate in both pre- and post- testing and therefore, were included in the statistical analysis in this study. This lack of documentation presents a limitation to this study.” That’s kind of a big strike here. The people running the study also don’t note how runs were tracked. It’s alluded to that the runners all self-document, which leaves quite a bit of room for error. I was surprised they didn’t have them at least track their run with a smartphone app. Not that those are perfect, but it would be a bit more scientific than giving them a logbook and sending them on their way.
The study goes on to explain that they used a MRI before and after the study with each included participant to check for bone and soft tissue damage. There was a noticeable increase in edema and a small incidence of stress fractures with those using VFF shoes. Incidences were higher in women than in men. This is certainly concerning and not something to brush off. I do personally feel this warrants more study, since the control group was small and there were issues with the data collected, but their conclusion draws upon common sense.
“Although most runners will not know about the presence or degree of bone marrow edema, our results suggest that if a runner transitioning to VFF feels pain, they should modify their running regimen.” Yes, this. They also concluded that if you are a long-distance runner, it’s advisable to transition over a period of time greater than 10 weeks. I’m totally down with those conclusions. Not only do these rules apply to running with VFFs, but they’re common sense rules for exercise in general.
Rebecca’s Simple Rules to Avoiding Injury
- If you feel pain make modifications to your exercise.
- Transition slowly into new exercise routines.
- Properly warm up the body before engaging in physical activity.
- ALWAYS stretch and cool down after physical activity.
- Support your body with proper nutrition to fuel your workouts and support your recovery.
And lastly, since our society is so friggin’ litigious, Vibram Fivefingers was sued for making unsubstantiated claims about their footwear (basically saying it was a healthier way to run). So if you purchased VFFs after March 2009 you may be eligible to collect from this class action suit. So if that applies to you and you’d like to be a part of it, keep an eye on this page for updates on how to register. For the record, VFF still claim they did nothing wrong, so this is a settlement, not an official ruling.
As for me, I’m going to continue rocking my Vibram Fivefingers. And I’m especially excited to use them for paddling season!
I started week two of C25K this week. So far it’s noticeably easier this time around and I feel that’s a testament to how my level of fitness has increased over the years. It’s also a huge help that I’ve kept up with a daily yoga practice. My legs were sore last week but daily stretching with yoga, plus a longer class on Thursday night, has really helped make the soreness barely noticeable. This week I also upped my speed in half of the segments that I’m running. The program this week has me alternating running for 1.5 mins and walking for 2 mins for a total of about 29 minutes. I was excited to break the two mile mark yesterday and will try to up my speed when I run again tomorrow. I will say I’m missing my HiiT workouts. I had to shift things around to make room for running so I’m taking a break from HiiT and Kettlebell 2-3 days/wk to running 3 days/wk. While running is great to build my cardio, it’s also a bit boring (especially when compared to HiiT), and it’s not dynamic so it’s uber-focused on legs and core so the rest of my body is just happy I’m continuing to climb and do yoga to keep it active.
I reached a new height in climbing today by killing a 5.9+ route. Regular climbers may not find this impressive, but for me it was a big deal. I specifically chose the route because it had very few jugs and was mostly slopers, pinchers and globes. I hate all of those, though slopers and I have become friendly lately. I’ll also admit the two globes thrown into that route proved to be really nice resting points. But pinchers? We’re still not cool, pinchers. For the non-climbers that read my blog I will eventually explain more about those different holds so sorry if you feel left in the dark for now.
I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new smoothie recipe, so here’s my current favorite:
Pineapple Mango Smoothie:
- 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (recipe here)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 tbsp flax seed (if your blender won’t pulverize this buy it ground)
- handful fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 cup frozen mangos
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
Blend it up in the mixer of your choice! I still love my Vitamix and make smoothies for myself and my partner every morning. If you’d like to indulge in the rest of the meal pictured above, make yourself some Scrambled Eggs with Spinach!
Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (yes, this may sound simple but I’m posting the recipe because I believe my scrambled eggs are recipe-worthy)
- two eggs (preferably free-range organic, even better if they’re local)
- 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (recipe here, omit vanilla and sweetener)
- handful baby spinach
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (or fat of your choosing)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt oil in pan over medium-low
- Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until slightly frothy.
- Add eggs to pan and move continuously. This is the biggest trick to making light, fluffy eggs; keep them moving constantly. I like to use a heat-safe silicon spatula to keep folding them in on each other.
- When eggs are barely firm (maybe 20-30 seconds in the pan) add the spinach.
- Continue moving constantly until they reach desired firmness and spinach has wilted.
Now have your smoothie and scramble and go take over the world! 😉
August has been a pretty crazy month for me, but while my blog entries cooled down, my workouts continued to fire up! I’ve been traveling a lot, which means my routine has needed to shift to accommodate my locale.
The first adventure was a five day intensive Lomilomi retreat. Lomilomi is a style of Hawaiian massage that I’ve been studying for about two years now. This was my third class and it was incredibly inspiring. I knew that I would be in a calorie-friendly environment, as our meals were all vegetarian, mostly made from ingredients found right on the land we stayed at. Speaking of the land, I already knew about Dreaming Mountain in Johnson, VT, but now that I’ve spent four nights there I’m absolutely in love with it! I had done a mini-cleanse before the trip, so I had already cut out alcohol, red meat and was strict to my food allergies diet (generally no sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, coffee and a slew of other random things). This meant that I didn’t feel the need to do my really intense workouts on the retreat. Instead, I did yoga daily, a martial arts dance that’s part of the Lomi training, and, of course, I was giving and receiving massage daily. I ended up dropping 5lbs just from living a healthy stress-free active life for a week!
The next adventure was much more challenging. My company recently opened up a new store in Key West, FL. It was my job to head down there to set up all the infrastructure. This meant taking three planes each way to a hot, sweaty tourist playground, working five 12 hour+ days in a row and attempting to stick to my diet and exercise. The first thing I learned is that the sun rises LATE in Key West, after 7am. So to keep up my workouts I had to just deal with getting up in an unfamiliar place in the dark. I did a combination of creating my own workouts in the hotel’s (really spectacular) gym and yoga on the beach. I should have recorded what I did in the gym but I didn’t think to. It was nice varying between being in the gym and being on the beach. I really didn’t get much time at all to enjoy the island so at least doing yoga under the stars, next to the ocean, and then slowly watching the sun rise through my vinyasas was pretty spectacular. I’ll admit diet was much more of a challenge there, and I made myself outright sick once or twice, but you gotta live too, right?
It’s nice to be back home and back to a more normal routine. Though, it seems my yoga is going to be ramping up as I’m trying to hit the minimum pre-req hours for a yoga teacher-training I’m hoping to start in January. I only just found the program and they require 35 hours in their studio before I can enroll. Since I live an hour away this is a challenge, but I’ve been wanting to get my yoga certification for years now and it’s a teacher I really like. Wish me luck!
So, today’s workout was really unusual for me. It’s a little bit of everything. I started out doing someone else’s workout (some of you may recognize the first few items) and then decided I wanted it to be more dynamic. This was LONG. My arms were shaking at the end and I was dripping with sweat. I feel it’s a good mix of cardio and strength training, though the cardio portion never really ends. Check it out:
- 1 Min High Knees
- 1 Min Sprint
- 1 Min Low-Jacks
- 30 Weighted Burpees (I used 5lbs)
- 30 Knee Tucks
- 30 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
- 30 Plank Side-To-Side Jumps
- 10 Prisoner Getups
- 10 Weighted Sit-Ups (I used 15lbs first 5 and then 10lbs last five)
- 10 Push-Ups
- 20 Knee Tucks
- 20 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
- 10 Side Crunches, Right
- 10 Side Crunches, Left
- 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Tricep Kickbacks in Lunge Position (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
- 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Bicep curls (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
- 10 Weighted Lunge Twists, 5 Each Side (I used 10 lbs)
After that, I needed some protein and amino acids!! Cut to today’s smoothie!
This beauty contains pomegranate juice, coconut milk, spinach, flax seeds, fresh local blueberries, frozen mangoes, and a half-serving of vegan protein powder (Fat Flush). I’ve honestly moved away from using protein powders in my morning smoothie because I feel adding flax or chia seeds plus spinach gives me enough protein without making me bloat. But, today I really killed my upper body so it seems right to add in the protein and help rebuild my muscle tissue.
I also am on a daily gut repair formula from my Naturopath which includes l-glutamine. While new research is always coming out, there’s a lot out there showing a direct correlation between l-glutamine and muscle recovery. It’s recommended post-workout, along with protein and carbs (1:4). We always hear protein protein protein after workouts, but that’s one time when I think it’s important to have carbs to help with the recovery. Frankly, I do think there’s such thing as too much protein. I’m definitely trying to build my muscles, but that doesn’t mean I need to eat 10 eggs and a bucket of protein powder in one day.
What post-workout drinks/meals/supplements work for you?
Another week, another workout! Yesterday I had the day off for the US Independence Day. In preparation of a few extra drinks I crafted a high-intensity full-body workout. I was really happy with this one and felt it was pretty well-balanced. It was also the first time I tried doing double kettlebell step-ups and I was surprised how much the 50lbs slowed me down. It was a great exercise for legs, abs and balance; probably my favorite and the hardest of the whole workout. Want to give it a try?
7/4/13 – Set interval timer to 3 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest. I used 25lb kettlebells and a 20lb free-weight for the ab twists.
- Sumo Jumps
- Double KB step-ups
- KB Lunge-Row
- Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout
- Weighted Seated Ab Twists
- Hanging leg-lifts
“What do you LOVE? While achieving your strength goals, focus on what you love, not what you want to fix.”
Holy shit, you guys, as of about 10 minutes ago, when I completed my last 10 burpees of the day, I officially completed my 90 day challenge!!! 90 burpees a day for 90 days? DONE!!!!!
This challenge ended up being a great kick-start into more regular exercise, and really pushing what my body could do. I started running daily again, have been committed to doing Zuzka workouts 6 days a week, completed a 5-mile obstacle course and have been eating extremely healthy along with finally having my food allergies diagnosed. My body has changed a lot over the past 90 days and while I still have a ways to go I wanted to finally share a pic of my progress. I’m taking a deep breath as I share this, but here goes (note, I didn’t start taking pics until late Feb, a month into the challenge)…
Woot to noticeable change!! My plan going forward is to do Zuzka workouts, or other HIIT in the morning. I’ve switched my running to mid-day now that the weather has gotten better, any my pup is very appreciative of the exercise. I’m also learning to do pull-ups and will be heading back out to the obstacle course in mid-May. Any other ideas for a good challenge? Let me know!