Boxing for Girls

I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this blog that this morning I had plans to attend my first boxing class.  It’s been fun to see and hear people’s response when they hear of this plan.  I’m not the most spontaneous person, pretty predictable, so it’s neat to every once in a while surprise people.  It’s not a huge surprise to me because I’ve always liked punching bags and loved taking self defense at BYU.  Maybe its a result of being bullied as a child but I’ve always wanted to be able to defend myself and boxing always looked super fun and satisfying.  (Better not tick me off.  I’m in training! 🙂 )

Got to love the green gloves for St Patrick's Day!

I was a little worried that my pulled leg muscle would prevent me from going but I decided to go for it.  The Boxing for Girls club is in the Sugarhouse neighborhood of Salt Lake, so a good 30 minutes from my apartment.    They do a good job with the styling of the gym, giving it a gritty, boxing feel.

There were around 20 girls who came (plus, one Dad who was taking the class with his daughter, how cute is that!) and 3 instructors (2 men, 1 woman).  For the first half hour we were given a routine of 5 sets of weight lifting and other aerobic activities (squats, lunges, crunches etc).  We had to do each 17 times and then repeat the whole routine as many times as we could.  I got through it 3 times.

This was a nice way to do things because you were pacing yourself but motivated by the activities of others.  I normally hate aerobics classes because I can never keep up with the moves.  I have almost no natural rhythm (and no I’m not just being modest…).  It also made it easier to modify things so that it worked for you.  For example, my leg being a little tight I could be more gentle on that side with the lunges.

Once that was over we split into 2 groups.  Half of the group did ring practice where we had to move our feet from side to side in a circle and then about every 30 seconds do a push up (or as close to one as we can do!).

The other half got to try different punches with boxing gloves on punching bags.  It was a ton of fun!  Seriously I could punch that bag forever.  I love it!

Everybody was so friendly and I will definitely be going back.  I think it is such a terrific idea to have a place like this designed for girls.  So brilliant!  (I tell you every year I find one more reason why I love Utah.  Each year it will get harder and harder if I ever have to move).

I bought a pass for 20 classes, so if anyone wants to come with me that’d be great.  (Its $15 for a normal session, $200 for the 20 pass).  I’m sure I will be super sore tomorrow but it’s worth it.

It’s great to try something new and add a bit of spice to my workout.  (One amusing thing is the music was totally different than I was expecting.  It was classic rock.  I never thought I’d be boxing to Mama’s and Papas. 🙂 )

It was sort of funny after the workout I visited my Grandma Richards because the gym is close by.  Talk about contrasts!  Boxing and visiting the elderly.  Not bad for a Saturday….

Happy St.  Patrick’s Day.  I was going to wear my green Sara Bareilles shirt but could not find it anywhere.   I had a little green on the turtles on the back of my shirt so that had to do.

 

At the end of the workout. Is there any doubt it was a good workout!

 

Back in the Pool

Today I am tired and sore but glad to be so.  As I was working on my diagnosis I didn’t want to muddle my chronic pain symptoms with exercise related pain so I held off of any hard training.  This means its been a few weeks since I did a serious swim- really since the QUAC swim.  QUAC was awesome but it was very tough to recover from.   I think because I was going through other stress and the gnawing pain in my ribcage (which in itself is a stressor) it made the recovery more difficult.

Anyway, I wanted to be able to tell my doctor for sure that the pain I was feeling was the chronic pain, not something from exercise.  Also with labs and doctors visits I had to be careful to get my work hours in and that left less time for exercising; however, after a promising week of results with  my thyroid medicine I felt like I was ready to get back to training. As much as I moan and groan about workouts I really do miss them when I can’t do them anymore.  Especially swimming.

Today I met with my swim coach for the first time in over a month (crazy how fast the time goes!).  He gave me a good workout- 1500 meters with intervals (250m fast, 250m slow, 200m fast, 200m slow…all the way down to 50m).  It was intense and my arms felt heavy but it was awesome!

Back in the pool! My face was so red after the workout. Something about these post-workout photos I love

There is something about diving into the water that I find so therapeutic.  There is a peace in the white noise of water that I love.  You can scream under water and nobody knows. I find the minute I dive in my mind becomes clear and the repetition of the strokes allows me to mull over the problems in my life.   Most importantly my body floats away, the pain with it.  I don’t feel like a heavy girl in the water.  I feel like I am flying!

It was great to get back in the water!  Tomorrow I meet with my trainer, thursday swim with my friends and Saturday I am taking boxing lessons!  I’m so excited about that!  Yes, I’ve always wanted to take boxing lessons!  There is a gym in Salt Lake that teaches boxing classes just for women.   http://www.boxingisforgirls.com. I think it will be awesome.  I took self defense at BYU and loved it. So, take notice and don’t tick me off in the future.  I will be trained! 🙂

I got my first bountiful basket this Saturday!  It was delicious! I’ve been enjoying the oranges this week and all the yummy vegetables.  I made corned beef and cabbage on Sunday and that was yummy (my fridge is now stuffed with crockpot meals I’ve made the last few weeks!).   Today I had a steak.  My mother can not make steak.  Cooks it to death.  Once I learned how to make it right I love it! Its expensive and high in calories but for an occasional indulgence Ok. Especially after my intense swim.  Don’t get too worried because with all my delicious veggies I made a massive salad to go with the steak!

There is something better about carefully selected produce.  You don’t really realize it until you try the good stuff and there is such a difference.  Yesterday I had dinner at Anna’s and she made ginger ice cream.  With the fresh grapefruit and orange sections the citrus and ginger combined well, creating a delicious dessert.

My friend Kate and I decided we will do the baskets every other week.  For $20 how can you go wrong?  (We split the box equaling $21.50 per person). This week they had special pineapples to order.  Hope they will have something like that next week.  Yum!

An Author

Last week a friend told me about a service that coverts blogs into books.

http://blog2print.sharedbook.com

Using this service you upload your blog and can chose from a number of different formats, with everything from a scrapbook style to more of a traditional book.  With my blog being more word-heavy and being 4 years old I naturally chose the latter.

IT IS AWESOME!  2 volumes, 751 pages with black and white photos (I also got a color pdf copy with links included).

Even though it is just for me it feels so satisfying to hold volumes in my hands that I wrote.  That have my thoughts and ideas inside. It really does make me feel like an author.  It is exciting!

I remember a writer told me once to bind your first book whether it is published or not, and I can see why.  Its extremely satisfying to see your hard work in paper form, not just electronic.

Its just neat to see the proof of my life over the last 4 years! It makes me want to keep writing.

The front and back cover. Don't they look great!
Text with photos
the inscription

Morgan Spurlock Listen Up

I have a great idea.  A few years ago the gimmick documentary maker Morgan Spurlock made his movie Super Size Me where he eats McDonalds every day for a month and every time they ask him ‘Do you want to super size it’, he says ‘yes’.

During the month they monitor his health and vitals which all go down the tube.  I don’t know how this is really considered an expose of any sorts, really more of an extreme stunt.

Here’s something that would be more interesting. All of the fast food companies claim you can eat healthy at their restaurants. Some example from their websites:

McDonalds

“Eating right isn’t always easy – we have lots of menu choices to help you.”

Wendy’s

“At Wendy’s, we believe in choice. Choice in toppings. Choice in dressings. And the choice to select from a wide variety of nutritious options.”

KFC

“We believe eating sensibly, combined with appropriate exercise, is the best solution for a healthy lifestyle. KFC offers a variety of menu items for those that want lower fat, lower calorie choices, including Kentucky Grilled Chicken and Honey BBQ Sandwiches, corn on the cob, BBQ baked beans and green beans. ”

Taco Bell, KFC and I assume other Pepsi owned companies all have links to the ‘Keep it Balanced‘ website. To me this is just amazing.  They show a family eating fried chicken, biscuits, cole slaw, drinking soda- probably the worst meal in the world, and then say ‘Its a simple formula, ‘Energy In=Energy Out’.  Do you know how much energy you’d have to put out to make up for that meal? Its so ridiculous.The whole website kind of ticks me off to be honest!

Subway is of course the king of healthy eating marketing, even promoting their food as a diet choice with celebrity athletes such as Apollo Anton Ohno and Michael Phelps.  Here’s the thing- how many people really make the healthy choices at Subway? No mayo or sauces, wheat bread with one of the 8 possible ‘fresh fit’ selections?  Last time you went to subway did you stick by the rules and get the healthy choice?

To their credit, Burger King, Carl’s Jr, and In N Out are all more honest, merely stating their nutritional information and not making claims of health in any way.

Anyway, here is my idea.  Someone should put the fast food companies to their word and do a month of eating fast food.  Order the ‘healthiest’ options and see if it could really be done and be healthy.  Follow vitals and participate in moderate exercise as all the sites suggest.  I don’t think it could be done.

I say this because I am tempted by fast food.  It is sometimes difficult to get the motivation to cook just for myself and fast food is so easy.  The idea of it being ‘healthy’ does sometimes convince me to go and I always regret it. In 2010 I went an entire year without fast food and it was awesome.  Usually I stay away but every once in a while I fall into the habit.

I’m not one of those people that think fast food should be criminalized and monitored like the cigarette companies but it does seem like false advertising to claim health when in truth it is almost always an indulgence.

So there’s my idea! Morgan Spurlock call me!

Random Thoughts VI

So I’ve tried to write this post tons of times but for some reason wordpress keeps erasing it.

Here goes again.

Pain- Day 2 of hypthoroid pills has come and gone and so far I am cautiously optimistic.  No major side effects and today I actually felt pretty energized.  Still have the pain but there are things to feel good about (I have learned to be grateful for a good day no matter what the cause of it is).

Something about this photo I really like

I was thinking today of the scripture in D and C 122:7 when God tells Joseph Smith “that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”  That I idea of giving us experience is so interesting.  Every trial I have gone through has helped me relate to a new person in a new way.  It has literally given me experience. (In my new ward I’ve met like 6 people who have chronic pain in some form or another and I can relate to them. My experience gives a connection). Something to think about…

Breakfast- One of the things I have really struggled with is eating a good breakfast.  Lately all food looks gross to me, all the time, but especially in the morning.  Things I normally like such as eggs produce the gag-reflex. Plus, it means I have to get a pan dirty and chop stuff and I’m tired (you get the idea).

I would say more than any other category, aside from maybe dessert, it is hard to make breakfast healthy.  All of my favorite things I can never have- french toast, toast, fluffy pancakes, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, most cereals (the hardest of the list), donuts, bear claws, etc.  Any ideas you have for a healthy, quick way to do breakfast that would be great.

I recently made this breakfast quinoa that was pretty good.  In the rice cooker 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup water.  Then I put nuts and dried fruit on top.

breakfast quinoa. It would be really good with half and half or cream...

Books- I’m on the lookout for cheerful books. I’m talking fun, even silly, happy books. Not the type of inspirational overcome challenges type of books but just overtly happy books. For example, the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is bright and funny (Alexander McCall Smith is kind of the king of the happy series), or Sophie Kinsella’s books I really love in this regard. Especially The Undomestic Goddess. Is it great literature? No, but it makes me laugh without fail and actually has a few things to think about on the side.

Food- Recently I came up with this list. What are your top 5?
Top 5 Foods I miss:
1. Mashed Potatoes (Potatoes in general are a rarity)
2. Non whole grain cereals.
3. white bread with honey and butter
4. most yummy breakfast foods- french toast, fluffy pancakes, cinnamon rolls, donuts, honeybuns…sigh
5. Pies and fresh hot cookies (and the cookie smell)

On the plus side of food I am finally getting a bountiful basket!  http://bountifulbaskets.org/.  It is this organization that combines farmers produce to get fresh produce at a discount price.  My friend Kate and I are splitting it and it should be delicious! This is what the baskets look like.  Yum and since we are splitting the cost it will only be $20 each including the organic and citrus package!

I am told this is what a typical bountiful basket looks like.

So I might take boxing lessons! I just found out about this club in Salt Lake just for women and boxing. Looks awesome. I’ve always wanted to learn. I took a self defense class in college and it was really fun! It will be fun to spice things up a bit. Lately in my training we’ve been using the punching bag and I love it! (Get out all that angst!). Did I finally think of something that suprises a few of you’all?

Living alone- So in my new ward I am the only never married single person. Isn’t that kind of amazing? Still, things have gone very well. One funny thing is that everyone is so surprised I live alone. I’m kind of used to it. Its really not that big of a deal to me. Yes, friends I live alone and love it! The only time I wish I didn’t live alone is when I’m sick and someone could go to the pharmacy for me (and listen to my moaning and groaning!).

New Calling- So it finally came. I got called into primary.  I was actually quite disappointed because I have loved teaching Sunday School.  I will miss the gospel interaction with adults….However, it will be a new challenge and I am sure I will learn a lot.  It is teaching the 9 year olds so if any of you have suggestions for engaging that age group please pass on.  I’ve heard bring treats from a lot which is hard because I don’t really eat treats but I will see what I can do.

Diabetes- One comment on the Paula Deen controversy.  I do think it is strange that she didn’t come out with her diagnosis for 3 years until she is a victoza spokesperson.  Seems shady to me.  However, I don’t really care about her.  The thing I noticed in the coverage is who the ‘experts’ kept talking about diabetes as this horrible awful thing, and it can be that.  Never do I seem to hear that it is a treatable condition.  I was a borderline diabetic at best but I got my A1C’s down in a year and am no longer a diabetic threat.  When I was first diagnosed I thought I’d have diabetes my whole life and that I was going to die.  That’s what I thought.  I had no idea it was treatable.  Maybe that’s just my ignorance showing but I wish more ‘experts’ would point that out when they discuss the issue.

Here’s a great flyer on the subject. http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/sharedresources/Downloads/2009/113009/pa_dec2000.pdf

So, there you go.  That’s my thoughts on a bunch of issues.  The most important thing is I am feeling hopeful in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.  Thanks so much to everyone for all your love and support.  I’m sure there is still a long road ahead but to feel hope is grand thing. 🙂

Interesting Results and Hope

So this blog has road the ride of my crazy health the last year and a half.  In addition to the struggles of getting in shape and losing weight, I’ve faced borderline diabetes, PCOS, a fall down a stairs, unexplained ribcage pain for over a year, possible fibromyalgia and more.  I’ve had a hard time finding a doctor I can trust.  Because I was having so much ribcage pain I decided to go to an internal medicine doctor in August.  Dr.  Ling in American Fork.  Between her and her nurse practitioner Sarah Smith we have made headway.

Yet, still the pain persisted.  Finally Sarah ordered 14 tests last week and xrays. She said ‘we are going to test everything!’.  I really appreciate her investigative spirit.  I find this is the rarest but greatest trait in a medical professional.  I was going to meet with her next Monday but the anxiety (and pain) was making me crazy and I couldn’t take it another week.  So, I called and met with Dr.  Ling today.  I went in anticipating a ‘all your tests were normal’ response but after talking to the doctor she revealed some interesting results:

Low Thyroid level

Low vitamin B12

Low vitamin D.

(By the way this doctor’s office gives you a print out of notes from your visit. How great is that!)

I had been taking a B12 vitamin but evidently you need to have a sublingual pill for true absorption.  This is kind of like a melt-away.  You put it under your tongue and wait 30 seconds to swallow and it absorbs the vitamins into your blood stream faster.

I also got a thyroid med and a prescription vitamin D.  I had no idea before today that these deficiencies could cause pain. She said the pain meds don’t work very well because its not a muscle strain in the traditional sense.  It has more to do with the nerves and endocrine system.

I had also been tested for thyroid problems many times but evidently those ‘normal’ results needed to be dug into more completely. I’ve also learned there are 3 tests not just one TSH/T4/T3. Perhaps that test was done before.  Who knows.  All that matters is we had results now and we’re trying something out. That feels exciting! (I really feel like I should get an honorary medical degree after this year!).

Even if this isn’t the full answer I just feel excited to have a doctor who is asking questions and helping me figure things out.  I will meet with her again in 6 weeks, repeat the tests and see how things are going.  As I was leaving she said ‘I hope you feel better’.  I said ‘That’d be great but I really just want to know what it is I’m fighting against’.

We will see but I have hope and feel more encouragement than I have in over a year.  Still have the pain but at least some of the anxiety about the pain has lessened for the moment.

Will be sure to keep you posted! Anyone who has experience with any of these 3 deficiencies I would love to hear them.  Thanks in advance and thanks to everyone for all your support during this insane year and a half.

Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. What a journey! I feel exhausted just thinking about it.

Chronic Pain

Ribcage pain! The bane of my existence. The great mystery

“[Pain] removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.” CS Lewis

So we are still diagnosing my pain and I haven’t given up on finding a solution.  However, I have been living with this rib cage pain for over a year and learned a few things along the way. Here are a few:

1. Nobody truly understands your pain but there are a lot of people who try.  That is the blessing. I used to get so frustrated trying to explain how I felt.  It isn’t really possible.  I’ve learned to be grateful for those who try.

2. Sometimes the pain can lead to anxiety, panic attacks and frustration.  Nothing wrong with that. Just part of the condition like a cough is part of a cold (plus, a side effect of some meds so check).  Be patient with your brain and body.

3. Try your best to keep pushing ahead. The days where I went out despite the pain usually ended up being great.

4.  Thank goodness for swimming. No pain when I swim and its what I love.  What a blessing from my Heavenly Father.

5. Find something productive you can do during healing time.  I have my blog and fortunately my job can usually be done when I’m in pain.

6.  Be patient with yourself and just do the best you can!

7.  Find a doctor you trust who takes your condition seriously.  It took me a year to find a doctor with an investigative spirit.  Someone who asked questions and didn’t dismiss me.

8. Treatments are a personal decision.  I chose to not take most pain meds and am very cautious with meds in general.  I use lots of essential oils and heat/cold therapy and over-the-counter pain meds when necessary.  Either way, its your choice but be informed and understand risks. Take friends suggestions for pain relief with a grain of salt.  They are trying to be helpful.  Usually if you just say ‘thank you’ and then do what you want it is forgotten.  On the other hand, be open minded to trying  new things out.

Its amazing that with all we know about the human body we still don’t know some basic things about pain and pain management.

9.  Stay informed but also know that in the end God makes decisions on pain, and He has his reasons why certain trials are necessary. I like what CS Lewis said:

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

10.  Communicating with other chronic pain sufferers (much more than me) has helped give me perspective and hope.

I’d love to hear what you have all learned from similar experiences.

I don’t normally post articles but I really liked this one from the New York Times.

Living With Pain That Just Won’t Go Away

By JANE E. BRODY

Pain, especially pain that doesn’t quit, changes a person. And rarely for the better. The initial reaction to serious pain is usually fear (what is wrong with me, and is it curable?), but pain that fails to respond to treatment leads to anxiety, depression, anger and irritability.

At age 29, Walter, a computer programmer in Silicon Valley, developed a repetitive stress injury that caused severe pain in his hands when he touched the keyboard. The injury did not respond to rest. The pain became worse, spreading to his shoulders, neck and back.

Unable to work, lift, carry or squeeze anything without enduring days of crippling pain, Walter could no longer drive, open a jar or even sign his name.

”At age 29, I was on Social Security disability, basically confined to home, and my life seemed to be over,” Walter recalls in ”Living With Chronic Pain,” by Dr. Jennifer Schneider. Severely depressed, he wonders whether his life is worth living.

Yet, despite his limited mobility and the pain-induced frown lines in his face, to look at Walter is to see a strapping, healthy young man. It is hard to tell that he, or any other person beset with chronic pain, is suffering as much as he says he is.

Pain is an invisible, subjective symptom. The body of a chronic pain sufferer — someone with fibromyalgia, for example, or back pain — usually appears intact. There are no objective tests to detect pain or measure its intensity. You just have to take a person’s word for it.

Nearly 10 percent of people in the United States suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain, and the prevalence increases with age. Complete relief from chronic pain is rare even with the best treatment, which is itself a rarity. Doctors and patients alike, who misunderstand the effects of narcotics, are too often reluctant to use drugs like opioids, which can relieve acute, as well as chronic, pain and may head off the development of a chronic pain syndrome.

Why Pain Persists

The problems with chronic pain are that it never really ends and does not always respond to treatment. If the pain initially was caused by an injury or illness, it can persist long after the injury has healed or the illness defeated because permanent changes have occurred in the body.

Mark Grant, a psychologist in Australia who specializes in managing chronic pain, says the notion that ”physical injury equals pain” is overly simplistic. ”We now know that pain is caused and maintained by a combination of physical, psychological and neurological factors,” Mr. Grant writes on his Web site, http://www.overcomingpain.com. With chronic pain, a persistent physical cause often cannot be determined.

”Chronic pain can be caused by muscle tension, changes in circulation, postural imbalances, psychological distress and neurological changes,” Mr. Grant says on his site. ”It is also known that unrelieved pain is associated with increased metabolic rate, spontaneous excitation of the central nervous system, changes in blood circulation to the brain and changes in the limbic-hypothalamic system,” the region of the brain that regulates emotions.

Dr. Schneider, the author of ”Living With Chronic Pain” (Healthy Living Books, Hatherleigh Press, 2004), is a specialist in pain management in Tucson, Ariz. In her book, she points out that the nervous system is responsible for the two major types of chronic pain.

One, called nociceptive pain, ”arises from injury to muscles, tendons and ligaments or in the internal organs,” she writes. Undamaged nerve cells responding to an injury outside themselves transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and then to the brain. The resulting pain is usually described as deep and throbbing. Examples include chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches, interstitial cystitis and chronic pelvic pain.

The second type, neuropathic pain, ”results from abnormal nerve function or direct damage to a nerve.” Among the causes are shingles, diabetic neuropathy, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, phantom limb pain, radiculopathy, spinal stenosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and spinal cord injury.

The damaged nerve fibers ”can fire spontaneously, both at the site of the injury and at other places along the nerve pathway” and ”can continue indefinitely even after the source of the injury has stopped sending pain messages,” Dr. Schneider writes.

”Neuropathic pain can be constant or intermittent, burning, aching, shooting or stabbing, and it sometimes radiates down the arms or legs,” she adds. This kind of pain tends ”to involve exaggerated responses to painful stimuli, spread of pain to areas that were not initially painful, and sensations of pain in response to normally nonpainful stimuli such as light touch.” It is often worse at night and may involve abnormal sensations like tingling, pins and needles, and intense itching.

Some chronic pain syndromes involve both nociceptive and neuropathic pain. A common example is sciatica; a pinched nerve causes back pain that radiates down the leg. In some cases, the pain of sciatica is not felt in the back but only in the leg, making the cause difficult to diagnose without an M.R.I.

Beyond Physical Problems

The consequences of chronic pain typically extend well beyond the discomfort from the sensation of pain itself. Dr. Schneider lists these potential physical effects: poor wound healing, weakness and muscle breakdown, decreased movement that can lead to blood clots, shallow breathing and suppressed coughing that raise the risk of pneumonia, sodium and water retention in the kidneys, raised heart rate and blood pressure, weakened immune system, a slowing of gastrointestinal motility, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and weight, and fatigue.

But that is hardly the end of it. The psychological and social consequences of chronic pain can be enormous. Unremitting pain can rob a person of the ability to enjoy life, maintain important relationships, fulfill spousal and parental responsibilities, perform well at a job or work at all.

The economic burdens can be severe, especially when the patient is the primary breadwinner or holds a job that provides the family’s health insurance. Only about half of patients with chronic pain ”who undergo comprehensive multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation are able to return to work,” Dr. Schneider reports.

As for the notion that chronic pain patients are often malingering — seeking attention and escape from responsibilities — pain specialists say that is nonsense. No one in his right mind — and most patients were in their right minds before the pain began — would trade a fulfilling life for the misery of chronic pain.