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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Ever since the physical therapist (a.k.a. Hot Yoda) gave me the go-ahead to get back on the elliptical last summer, I have managed to work out at least four days a week. My goal is five days a week, Sunday through Thursday with a two-day break for my knees before starting my five-day stint all over again.

I have to admit my motivation for exercise hasn’t been that altruistic. I realize exercise is necessary in order to be successful in weight loss, but I keep up with my 4-5 days a week on the elliptical because I get to eat more if I do.

I am a person who eats every single Weight Watchers point given to her. Every daily, every weekly and every activity point is consumed every week. My weight loss is progressing slowly because of this, which is fine by me, but I’m starting to realize that being able to eat more should not be the reason I head to the gym every morning.

At my current weight, a 45-minute elliptical workout nets me 13 activity points. I count every workout at high intensity and wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I’m staying within that high-intensity range. I’m probably cheating a little by counting the entire 45 minutes as a high-intensity workout since it usually takes five minutes to get my heart rate up to where I want it to be with the workout fizzling out after the last hill climb around minute 40.

I do love the elliptical, but lately I’ve been getting kind of bored with it. It’s been harder to wake up, get dressed and get my butt out the door, so much so that I’ve considered switching up my routine. But switch it up with what? There are plenty of other activities I could do, but none that could provide the low-impact, intense calorie burn my knees have come to appreciate. I could think of nothing short of running that could get me the same bang for my buck, and since I’m not ready to be a runner yet, I started wondering if I’ve been making exercise a priority for the wrong reasons.

That’s why this week I have decided to continue my regular routine without adding any activity points to my tracker. I am making this decision having already consumed 34 of my 49 weekly points (birthday cake, cookie dough, etc), but I figure if I can exercise without making activity points an issue, I should be able to open myself up to new activities that may not fill my bank with as much snacking currency.

Since making that decision, I can tell I’m already becoming more mindful of what I’m eating. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about taking a Lofthouse Iced Cookie from the potluck table since I have a few weeklies left and 39 activity points earned so far.

But if you take away those activity points, I only have 15 weeklies to see me through Friday. And Friday is pizza day.

So the cookie stayed on the table and I ate my mango instead.

It was a very good mango.

Aside from shifting my focus away from points, I’m also hoping this experiment helps me see a respectable loss at the scale next weekend. I keep saying I don’t care how long it takes me to lose this weight and I completely, honestly, truly mean that, but I only have 1.8 pounds to lose before I reach my 100-pound milestone and it will kick some serious ass to finally get there.

Completely, honestly and truly.

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The other day I was thinking about how fabulous I’ve been feeling lately.  It’s not just losing the weight.  It’s about doing things I never thought I’d be able to do again.

Several mornings a week now I get up at 5:30, get dressed and drive to the university where I work out for 45 minutes on the elliptical (arc trainer, actually) and then go back home to take a shower and get Autumn ready for school.

Let’s forget, for a moment, about my previous misconceptions about never being able to work out on an elliptical again. What really amazes me is that I actually look forward to hauling my ass out of bed and getting all sweaty before most people are even aware we’ve entered a new day.

My dog doesn’t like this so much since I’m walking her less, but to hell with her.  I have a list of stolen food and damaged goods that only grows the older she gets. And I am keeping track. You betcha.

Six years ago when I lost 80 pounds, this is what I did to be successful. I got up and I worked out just as the day was starting.  I used to look back on those days with a wistful sort of melancholy because I was sure that was never going to happen again.  In fact, last year when I finally located all the parts of my Polar heart rate monitor, I pressed the button that displayed the stats for my last workout and took pictures as the numbers cycled through.  I couldn’t remember when that last workout was, but I was quite certain I’d never see another one like it again.

Years ago I read an interview with Patrick Swayze in which he talked about the knee injury that put an end to his high school football career and any hopes he had of gaining an athletic scholarship to college.  Anyone who’s ever seen Dirty Dancing, though, knows that injury never kept Patrick Swayze from being an amazing dancer. He was athletic, powerful and very seductive.  You’d never know by looking at him move in that film that he may have been working with a bum knee, and in that interview he said dancing was the only thing keeping the knee from becoming completely useless.

I never understood how that could be possible until now, but sometimes your body, like your intellect, needs to be challenged.  Since going through physical therapy and being told that I could, in fact, get back on the elliptical, I’ve seen drastic improvement in my mobility and a huge reduction in pain.  My left knee still clicks, but it clicks less. I’m still arthritic and my right knee sounds like steel belted radials popping down a gravel road, but I feel FANTASTIC.

And I even got down on my hands and knees to look for a trouser sock under the bed the other day.  I got down on my knees in about a second and got right back up again after I couldn’t find the damn sock.

Seriously, why can I not keep track of trouser socks?

Anyway, now that I know what is possible, I’m left feeling kind of sad about all the time I lost believing I’d never again be active enough to start losing this weight.  If the orthopedist who performed my knee surgery had told me what the Hot Yoda Guy told me when I started PT, it may not have taken me two and a half years to feel whole again.

But, you know, water under the bridge, I guess.

What matters now is that I know I can kick some ass.

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Lies and half truths

This week my physical therapist cut me loose.

When he asked me if it was okay if we “wrapped it up” I thought he was referring to my knee.

Yes, please do wrap it up. Let your hands heal me.

Ah well, I was kind of getting sick of him anyway. The smile and the dimples. You can only take so much of that.

The pain is not gone but it has diminished.  I suppose I might see more improvement if I actually did the exercises he told me I should be doing.

Last week I outright lied to him.

“Have you been doing your stretches at home?” he asked.

YES!

I answered immediately, maybe too quickly, because I knew he was going to ask.

I wonder if he could tell I was full of shit.

Hopefully he never finds this blog.

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Yesterday I had my first physical therapy appointment. It was not the torture session I imagined it would be.

And?  My PT is kind of cute.

Actually, he’s pretty hot.

Of course I had not shaved my legs in a couple days, so I doubt he thought the same of me. He did praise me more than once for having lost fifty pounds so far. He said he lost sixty pounds himself a few years ago and that the rate at which I’m losing is ideal.  It hasn’t felt ideal as of late, but I understood what he was saying.  Slow weight loss = good. Fast weight loss = bad.

I am really excited about working with this guy because he’s all about telling me what’s possible.  Up to this point I have felt extremely limited in what I can do physically, mostly because I’ve set limits for myself based on what I thought I knew about the arthritis and what my previous orthopedist told me I should and should not be doing.

For instance, twenty minutes into the hour-long session, the PT started talking about stairs and how I should be incorporating them into my fitness routine.

Excuse me? Stairs? I do not do stairs. I have been told not to do stairs because they put stress on the knees. Stairs are the reason I’m in physical therapy in the first place and I only do them if I have to. Like the stairs in my house that lead up to the kitchen. Obviously I need to take them if I want to eat, but I have never considered doing them for fun.

In fact, I have been known to send laundry baskets full of clothes skidding down to the landing in an effort to avoid the stairs.  Of course the laundry doesn’t find its own way into the washer and I usually only employ this method if Nathan’s already in the basement.

But the PT insists there is a right way to do stairs, and when done correctly it’s one of the best workouts around.  Tomorrow he is introducing me to the 2 ½-inch step.  Whoa, Nelly.  He also gave me a little hope as far as becoming a runner some day. He said it’s not out of the question but that I should only start a running program once I’ve lost more weight so that I don’t exacerbate the problem in my knees.

I have a feeling this guy is going to be my Yoda.  Only hotter.

A hot Yoda. I think that may be the most ridiculous oxymoron ever.

So far I am very optimistic about the outcome of the physical therapy. I ultimately decided to get the second opinion because I wanted someone to be able to take me to the next level of recovery.  I have a lot more weight to lose, and even though Yoda suspects my knee pain may be from overuse (Saturday-Arc trainer, Sunday-elliptical, Monday-2.6 mile walk), he did not say I should not continue doing what I have been doing.  He just wants to help condition my body so I can do it without pain.

Isn’t he awesome?  I have three more sessions scheduled with him and I’m very much looking forward to them.

And it’s not because he’s hot.

But that does help.

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I met with a new orthopedist this morning. It’s been two years since I had someone look at my knees and I felt I needed a second opinion on what is and is not possible in terms of physical activity.

The good news is I do not need any more surgery.

The bad news is I have a fairly advanced case of osteoarthritis for someone my age. The doctor said on a scale from 1-4, a woman in her late 30s should expect to be anywhere from a 1-2 in terms of joint degeneration. I’m at about a 4.2.

Of course I asked him if such advanced arthritis could have been caused by my weight. He said yes but that it also could be hereditary. It’s probably a combination of the two, but I don’t have the medical degree to back up that theory.

More good news is that I can get back on the elliptical. Since I’m so in love with the arc trainer right now I’m not really missing the elliptical, but it’s nice to know I have the option. The doctor said I can do whatever I want as long as it doesn’t put too much strain on the knees and it doesn’t cause me pain.

Alas running is out of the question. That kind of sucks because I would have liked to have trained for a 5K after taking more of the weight off. I know running can be very empowering and rewarding and it makes me just a little bit sad that I won’t get to experience that.

I guess I’ll just have to be awesome some other way.

I have no idea if the arthritis will get better or worse and neither does the doctor. He says I’m doing all the right things by taking the weight off and exercising regularly and I have some physical therapy scheduled in a couple of weeks to help with the everyday pain I’ve been experiencing for awhile.

I’ve never had physical therapy before. I did go with my mother once after she injured her knee. I was around 13 or 14 years old and all I remember about that session was that she screamed. A lot.

**Sigh**

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I love that you used the search term “exercise for people with shitty knees.”

Better yet, I love that it brought you to me, though I’m guessing you left disappointed after finding no exercises for people with shitty knees.

I do have shitty knees but I do not exercise them well.

Hopefully someone out there with shitty knees is less of a slacker than I and has what you’re looking for.

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Something remarkable happened while I was in Chicago.

My knee stopped clicking.

It didn’t stop clicking completely, but it stopped clicking constantly and I’m very close to walking with a spring in my step and a bounce in my boobs.

For those of you who are new to this site, I’ll give you a quick run-down on my shitty knees.

First there was the accident.

Then the discovery that my shitty knees are actually due to a congenital condition brought on by my substandard DNA.

Then there was the surgery which was supposed to correct whatever was wrong with the left knee but actually wound up forcing the right knee to do all the work so that I can no longer say “my good knee” because both of them are crap.

Then came the injections from the needle of death.

And finally there was the trip to Mackinac Island and my ill-advised bike ride along the coastline which subsequently created the click that has been driving me crazy for almost an entire year.

I think it was Saturday or Sunday that I noticed the knee was feeling better and I mentioned it to Meg.  We actually walked to Navy Pier and then back to the Sheraton from Giardano’s.  It almost felt good to get a little exercise.

So thank you, Chicago, for doing whatever you did to my knee.  I totally forgive you for holding my car hostage back in 2001.

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