Monday, July 29, 2013

Pieces Of Me

I've been contemplating sharing this for awhile but have been hesitant because it's certainly my own inward struggle, and no one can really do anything about it. I don't want to be perceived as whiney and I certainly wouldn't want to sound annoying with such trivial issues when there are lots of bigger things going on in the world. But I've been struggling with this for weeks now and I'm hoping that talking about it will help, at least to some degree.

A friend once asked me where I thought fat went when it left the body. I didn't have a good answer except to say that maybe the molecules dissolved into thin air. Or perhaps it was the droplets of sweat left behind on the gym equipment after I'd finished a set. Maybe it was contained in the exhales that came from my lungs as I huffed and puffed through a run. But really, I had no idea. A common question upon my arrival back stateside is, 'how do you feel about leaving Guam?' The answer to that is also quite complicated. In a way, I left pieces of myself there. Seventy pounds worth of pieces to be exact. I have felt, and still feel every day, like I am grieving the loss of a person. Maybe it's the person that arrived on Guam October 8, 2011. I had felt that she was already dead to me, but perhaps staying at the scene of her death kept the grief at bay. It becomes stronger, and more real to me, each and every day. Maybe it's because so much has changed since that October day when the plane landed in paradise. It's not that I miss that woman, or her life, but I can't quite put my finger on why I feel so sad about leaving her behind. Is this is a common feeling when one loses a great deal of weight? Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

And of course, I miss my Guam family. Their smiles, their hugs, their encouragement through the hard times. Outwardly I smile and carry on about my days, but inwardly my heart continues to break. Texts, phone calls and FaceTime just aren't the same but they have become my band-aid, fixing my feelings temporarily. I wish so badly that someone or something would come along and sew me up. Put my pieces back together. I am trying hard to remind myself that grief takes time. Staying busy helps a little bit. Hopefully once I get 'home' from my little 'vacation' down South I can slip into a routine that will find some friends with similar interests. They'll never replace what I had in Guam, but I have hope for a new normal in the future. I do find it interesting that the place we were stationed at for the shortest amount of time, brought me friends that dug the deepest into my heart. <3

Monday, July 8, 2013

Baby Got Back Problems

Last Monday when I started to work on my newest training regimen, I was eager to get going and really hit it hard. And I did, until the very end of my first workout. While doing some dumbbell sumo squats, I felt something kind of tweaky in my left hip. It didn't really hurt, but it didn't feel right. So I dropped my weight a bit and didn't squat as low as I normally would. Once I finished out my set, I went about setting up for my deadlifts. Deadlifts are one of my favorite exercises and I've worked very hard over the last year at proper form, steadily increasing my weight to a personal record of 165 lbs. Being absent from the gym a couple of weeks, I dropped my starting weight down to a measly 95 lbs and decided to work through the first set, see how it felt, then increase if I thought I could do more. I positioned myself, pulled up, completed one rep and set the bar down. As I pulled up on the second rep, I felt and heard a 'SNAP!' in my lower back that literally brought me to my knees. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't lie down, and I couldn't roll over. I just couldn't move. I panicked for a moment before crawling over to the nearest wall and slowly picking myself up from the floor. I knew I was done for the day(thankfully on my last exercise!) so I quickly tried to re-rack my weights and get the hell out of there before people started laughing at the new girl. I had already been really nervous about being said new girl, and here I'd gone and injured myself like a dumbass, with minimal weight on the bar. AARGH! So I came home, popped some ibprofen, and parked my back on an ice pack. The next day it felt a little better, so I added heat therapy into my regimen. By Thursday I was feeling almost 80%...until I got in the shower. As I bent over to shave my legs, that same awful 'SNAP!' occurred and brought me to my knees in the hot streams of water. By Friday, even though I had resumed my ice and ibprofen, I wasn't feeling any better. Saturday I knew I had to see a doctor. I didn't want this getting out of hand. I've never had a back injury(or so I thought; more on that later) so I didn't know how my body was going to heal. A pulled muscle is one thing, a slipped disc is another. So I went to an urgent care facility on Saturday morning. Their x-ray technician was out so I didn't get any films. The doctor said it could be anything from a pulled ligament to a slipped disk but the only way to be sure was an MRI. So she wrote me a script for a lovely cocktail of steroids, narcotics and muscle relaxers to take for five days. Even after taking the drugs for a couple days, I wasn't bouncing back like I had the first time. My parents hooked me up with their chiropractor so I went to see him this afternoon. Now, military insurance does not pay for chiropractic care which I find downright stupid. I've always been kind of leery of chiropractors until today. I went in and the first thing he did was measure my legs. 'Your right leg is shorter than your left.' Who knew? 'I think you've got a misaligned pelvis.' Well okay, then. Fix me! A couple x-rays later and the good doc's theory was proven true. He also found that I have some small bone spurs on my pelvis, probably from carrying around so much extra weight for so long. He was amazed at my weight loss, by the way, and my before/after pictures blew him out of the water! He also showed me that I, at some point, sustained a compression fracture in my upper back. Remember how I said I never thought I had a back injury? Turns out, I do. He said it appeared very old and the only thing I can think of is slamming into a tree trunk with my back, on a rope swing, as a kid. This was when I was 10 or 11 years old!

So, there you see my crooked pelvis. He said it wasn't anything I'd done recently, it happens over time. I asked him if sitting in the same position flying for some many hours, combined with being out of the gym and not moving those joints regularly could have contributed and he validated that thought. A few minutes later and I'd been crunched back into place, painlessly. So for now, I'm supposed to stay on my medication cocktail for the next few days, ice for 20 minutes every hours tonight, ice and heat tomorrow night, go back to see him for one more adjustment on Wednesday, and then heat after that. I'm feeling alot better already. It's almost a miracle. I'm, of course, supposed to lay off the lower body workouts for a little while longer but I've already been doing that. I don't feel *great* about it but I know it's necessary. Hopefully next week I'll at least get to go to a Zumba class!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Peace Out, Guahan

Dear Guam,

I owe you an apology. When I first learned we would be settling into this tiny mosquito speck of a space on planet Earth, I went through emotions ranging from sadness to all out rage. From the moment we landed, I had it in my head that I would hate you until the day I died. I would curse your name and everything you stood for. And then something magical happened....

You overtook me. Your beaches, your sunsets, your people, your history. I changed physically and mentally. You became my structure, my foundation, my latte. It is because of you that I now hold close the dearest friendships of my life. My sisters. You know who you are and you know that I love all of you, whether you're a plumeria or a blue starfish. ;)

I am loathe to leave you, Guahan. Each day that the clock counts down, little chips of my heart are breaking off onto your sand. My tears into your ocean.  I can only hope I have left some sort of mark here that I would be remembered if I return. When I return. Because...

I will always remember you.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Breaking The Stereotype

Something that's bothered me for a long time is the cookie-cutter mold that seems to run rampant in the fitness world. You either have to be a cardio bunny or a weight lifter. You can't Crossfit if you're a body builder. You're either a personal trainer or a group fitness instructor. I know a few people who go in a few directions but for the most part, it's like you can only be one thing. Well, I want to break those stereotypes. I want to dabble in everything. Of course my heart will always lie with body building because that's how I got started, but a close second comes by way of Zumba. I was introduced to Zumba classes by friends last September. The treadmill and elliptical had become boring forms of getting the cardio in, so I wanted to shake it up. And that's exactly what happened! I met two beautiful and amazing instructors who have since become friends. Both have inspired me over the months and brought out something in me that I'd forgotten about: Confidence. I remember walking into my first few classes nervous and not knowing what I'd gotten myself into. But a few weeks passed and there I was at the front of the class, shaking it like nobody's business. ;) Shortly after the new year, my friend Ana(also my instructor) told me that there was going to be a Zumba certification class in Guam. I had planned on getting licensed when we got back to the states but the opportunity was presenting itself now, so I signed up.

The day arrived and my friend(also getting licensed) picked me up and we talked as we drove to the studio. Both of us were incredibly nervous but excited at the same time. We had no idea what, or who, we were walking into. Parked at the studio we gathered our things and made our way into the tiny room that would be our office for the day.

Our training started off with an intense master class that had us dripping in sweat. The studio only had one aircon unit and a couple fan. The doors were opened because the 90-degree Guam heat was cooler than the room itself. Let's just say I had no problems blowing through my gallon of water that day. After the master class we sat down to discuss all the how-to's and what-not-to-do's.

After a lunch break we were back to experiential learning, running through all the basic Zumba steps and how to combine them together to make a routine. This was probably my favorite part, seeing everyone's different styles. I even got complimented on my lunge form. ;) And then the class was over. It was graduation time. The day itself wasn't all that bad but the heat was killing me. I was so ready to get out of that room! 

 So now it's time for you to laugh. As if a whole day of Zumba wasn't enough, somehow my friends convinced me to join them at another master class the same evening. I was nasty, though. Stinky, sweaty, you name it. But there was no shower at the studio. What's a girl to do? I went into a local shopping mall bathroom, stripped down, wrapped a towel around myself and proceeded to bathe using the sink and a bottle of soap. I got some interesting looks. Pretty sure they thought I was a homeless person. But man, it felt good to get some of the grime off! Anyway, my friend picked me up and we went to dinner before the master class. Yeah, it was bad. Bad, bad, bad. I ate way too much and ended up feeling sick the rest of the night. But we did the master class and it was alot of fun, other than feeling like I was going to explode. Our ZES called up anyone who had done basic training that day, so we went up on stage and helped lead a song. Okay, it was more like standing there going, 'WTF is this woman doing?' I'm pretty sure it was meant to freak us out. But hopefully I held my least I think I did. That's me in the pink pants and our ZES, Madalene Aponte, in the front. She's truly amazing.

So, in closing, I don't want to be just one thing. I've always been a sort of jack-of-all-trades so why should this be any different. And I want to say 'Ana and Belkis.' Thank you for bringing out my moxie. Thank you for cheering me on. And thank you for inspiring me. I love you both. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Where'd You Go?

Hi friends! It's been awhile since I posted on here. I won't give a bunch of reasons for my absence, and I definitely won't apologize. I just have been feeling utterly defeated in many areas of my life and when times get tough, some things just fall to the bottom of the priority list. Unfortunately, blogging is one of them. I've been doing my best to get through day-to-day tasks, including working out and eating right. The working out comes easily enough. I have my partner and lots of other friends keeping me motivated. But the eating right fell by the wayside for an entire week. Now, I will say that...ummm...'womanly issues' contributed to the mass amounts of food I stuffed in my face last week. Overall I don't feel too badly about it. Shit happens, right? You screw up, then you get up and you start over. Of course it doesn't seem like my stress level is going to be decreasing anytime soon. We just found out The Husband received orders this weekend. We are(quite happily) going back to New England! But first, there is sorting and purging and packing and a bunch of other stuff that has to get done before moving across the globe. I am, admittedly, quite sad about leaving behind my friends here and the beauty of this island. Guam has been the foundation for my new lifestyle. Something has changed within me since arriving here eighteen months ago and I will never, ever forget the things I've learned. I will also never forget the beauty I've been privileged to see on a daily basis, and often take for granted. I wish everyone could see it, just once. But as I sit here reminiscing on the past, my mind shifts to the present. I have a mere six weeks to take everything in, and more importantly, to spend these last moments with some of the best friends I've ever had. So if I remain absent, just know that I am out there doing my best and that I will most definitely return here at some point. But in the meantime, stay focused on your goals. Know that we all(including me, most definitely) have struggles whether they are internal or external. Chin up, buttercup. ;)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Been There, Done That

We finished up Operation: Unleash the MILF two Fridays ago. At the time, I had become so physically and mentally weakened, it was a blessing. I needed the rest and I know my partner did too. We were breaking all over the place. But we finished twelve weeks and that's what's important. I didn't actually set a goal for the end of this program, just to finish it and finish it with some kind of results. I'm happy to say that over the last twelve weeks my weight went from 173 lbs. to 166 lbs. and I lost a total of 12 combined inches. I'm still not real sure about my body fat. According to my monitor I lost 1.2% but there were weeks where it went up significantly(?) and then went back down the next week. So who knows. My clothes fit better and I'm sliding into the next smallest size, now. Could it have been better? Probably. Am I gonna beat myself up about it? Not at all. It was a challenge from the very beginning. Some of the workouts were excruciating...hello, leg days! And like the saying goes, 'Focus on the weight of your dumbbells going up, not the number on the scale going down.' If you remember, I was disheartened after a few weeks of no weight loss. Well, I quit worrying about it and go figure, I started losing. My lifts also increased dramatically in the final weeks and I'm noticing much more upper body tone. My legs still have quite a lot of work to do, so that's what I'll be focusing on the next couple of months, as well as continuing working towards my goal of 20% body fat. Right now I'm sitting at 25.3%. Last week I was ordered(per my program) to take an entire week of rest for the gym. I cannot tell you how hard that was! Thankfully, my parents were here visiting and we did some active things like stand-up paddleboarding that kept me from getting too fidgety. I kept my diet spot-on except for two cheat meals and I'm really proud of myself for sticking to the plan.

So what's next? I'm going to be repeating the last six weeks of this program as I work on my legs. I'm going to re-evaluate my daily caloric intake and macronutrients and try to further my fat loss a bit more. My morning Zumba classes got cancelled so unless I can make the evening classes(super hard to get there at that time) I've got to come up with some kind of cardio that I can stick with for awhile. I'm thinking some interval running and time on the stair stepper to help with my booty. ;)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

W11D3: Fly-By Quickie Update

This is gonna be a short one. We had a killer leg day this morning and I can honestly say I can barely walk. I've had some interesting moments in the gym but random guy came up to my partner and me and asked if he could take our picture. We were, after all, superheros. :D

Of course we obliged and then continued on with our torture session. Thankfully we were done in just over an hour but I'll be paying for that hour for days! Anyway,  I just tucked my kiddos into bed and I'm ready to soak my bottom half in the tub for an obscene amount of time. But first, I want to share a little something with you. We all know progress pictures are important. As I get down to the little nitty gritty details of creating my 'new' body, it gets harder and harder to see the big picture on a daily basis. I was changing clothes earlier and happened to catch a glimpse of my back in the mirror. Whoa, baby! So I snapped a picture to commemorate the moment and compare it to late last year right before I started Operation: Unleash the MILF. The first picture was taken mid-December and I, of course, used the handy dandy 'auto-enhance' feature on iPhoto. The second picture was taken tonight and although it's not the best quality photo from my lovely iPhone, there are no special effects, lighting, or filters. All me, baby!
Before any particularly smart people comment on my tattoo moving, it's called a mirror image. ;)

W11D3 Operation: Unleash the MILF

Workout Duration: 1:00:02

Calories Burned: 544

PR-ed Barbell Squats and Deadlifts. Woot!