Thursday, July 17, 2014

PiYo Highs and Lows

It's been bit more than a week since I started PiYo and I thought I would give a little update.  First of all, I'm really enjoying the program overall.   I like the combo of pilates and yoga a lot.  I've always enjoyed pilates (probably partly because it's something I can do with my strong swimmer's core), but have sometimes found straight yoga classes to be a little dull.  So sorry to my friends who are yoga devotees, but it's just not my thing.  The combination of the two and the constant movement is really appealing to me.  I feel challenged and I sweat, but PiYo doesn't have all of that plyometric stuff that other workouts do and that completely shred my shins.

I have had to adjust some things.  Instead of push-ups, I hold plank.  Push-ups are too unstable for my shoulder, but I've done plank in PT so I know it's approved.  I can't do anything that has me balancing a lot of weight on just my right arm, but fortunately there aren't too many exercises like that. 

I've noticed I'm a bit stronger and while down dog hurt a week ago, I now seem to have the muscle support around my rotator cuff to do it along with the DVD most of the time

Finally, and as I've just crowed about on Facebook, in less than 2 weeks I have lost an inch on my waist, half an inch on my hips, 3/4 inch on each thigh and 3/4 inch on my chest!  Batteries are dead on my scale so I couldn't weigh, but I think measurements are so much more telling.  Yesterday I noticed that I just felt a little different.  A little less wiggly maybe?  Turns out it wasn't my imagination.

So here's the down side.  My shoulder continues to be a struggle.  It's so frustrating.  On Tuesday night I did two of the PiYo workouts for a total of 42 minutes.  I had minimal pain while I was doing it, iced my shoulder afterward, and felt pretty great.  Then yesterday morning I woke up and discovered that all of the muscles around my right shoulder blade and in my neck had knotted up.  I took my prescription anti-inflammatory Tuesday morning, but I think I need to take it shortly before the workout so it's at maximum strength while I'm working out and right after.

Anyway, this morning, I'm just coming out of a migraine brought on by all of the muscles in the right side of my neck seizing up.  I've determined that the majority of the migraines I've had over the last couple of years have probably been shoulder-related.  This has probably been a problem for a lot longer than I realized.  Thanks a lot, shoulder.

It's really disheartening because PiYo is low impact and I have been modifying, and yet my shoulder is still a problem.  Working out has shoulder-related repercussions that can last for a couple of days.  It may be awhile before I can swim again.  I probably won't be able to kayak this summer.  All my favorite things are slipping through my fingers.

I have to admit, I'm a bit down about that.  But I'm encouraged by the inches lost and the fact that I can do PiYo, so long as I'm careful.  No more doubling up on workouts.  I think what I'm going to do is shoot for doing PiYo every other day, and walking on the days when I don't do PiYo (and maybe on the days that I do too).  At least I can still walk.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Starting A Challenge and Office Improvements

No, the improvement isn't that there's less junk food in the office.  However, today I got an office again!  I figured since I moaned about not having an office on here a little bit ago, I should talk about the exciting development that is having an office again!

The people in charge have finally accepted that we're not going to be out of this temporary space by September and something needed be done about the cramped environs.  For instance, I was in a cubicle and 3 other people were all sitting in a large conference room together.  Cozy!  So the landlord rented us some space on the second floor, which means all the lawyers actually have offices now.  Hurrah!

The benefits so far are: (1) I have an office;  (2) people will no longer be sneaking up behind me and opening a file cabinet, scaring the crap out of me; (3) I can close my door and have a private phone conversation; (4) unlike the first floor, the AC seems to work pretty well up here; (5) since we still don't have bathroom keys on the second floor, every trip to the bathroom means taking the stairs so bonus steps and floors for the Fitbit.  (I could take the elevator, but it's the slowest elevator in the world.  And it's one floor.)

As an extra bonus, I also now have a parking spot.  It came with the additional office space we rented.  I've been resisting getting a parking spot because I don't usually mind taking the bus, but I've needed my car a lot lately, and the bus routes and schedules just changed significantly, so what better time to just admit that I'm part of the problem and drive my car to work every day?

In other news, I started PiYo officially yesterday as part of the PiYo Facebook challenge I'm doing.  I've done two workouts, and have had to tweak some things for my shoulder, but so far it's not so bad.  Tomorrow's workout is called "Sweat", so I may change my tune.

As part of the challenge I post pictures of my meals, which means they better be healthy or I get no points.  Points are excellent motivation for me.

It's like when the teachers on The Simpsons are on strike and Lisa pleads with Marge, "Grade me!  Grade me!"  I always thought  Lisa was my nerdy, bookworm soulmate.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Struggle At the Office

Our office used to consist of me, my boss and our assistant.  We also had a junior associate periodically.  So there were 3 or 4 of us and we had an unspoken arrangement that we would not be bringing junk food into the office.  I swim, my boss bikes, our assistant walks and does P90X.  Office snacks available for general consumption consisted of trail mix and granola bars.  We got birthday cake at the appropriate time, but since the assistant's and my birthdays are 3 days apart, cake happened twice a year.

Then the office grew.  We now have 9 people, but we knew we were in trouble when numbers 5 and 6 joined us at the beginning of March.  Within a week, number 5 had brought in donuts, cookies and cupcakes to share with everyone.  We also learned that number 6, probably one of the skinniest women I have ever seen in my life, lives on chocolate and pizza.

Now, in addition to trail mix, our office kitchen is also stocked with Nutter Butters (my personal kryptonite), those crappy crackers with cheese or peanut butter that are full of trans fats, and chocolate chip cookies.

I really miss the unspoken arrangement of no junk food.  It made it much, much easier to stick to my food plan.  Now I have to exercise actual willpower and not pick up that package of Nutter Butters.  It's hard, y'all.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Yesterday, I ordered PiYo from, fine purveyors of such products as P90X and Insanity. 

One of my online knitter friends is a beachbody coach (pretty sure this means she gets a kickback any time one of her people orders a product through her link, which is fine with me).  I've been whining about my shoulder and my inability to do anything with any sort of impact and she suggested PiYo.  It's a combination of pilates and yoga and is low impact.  Sounds ideal, right?

I have lots of friends who have done various beachbody workouts with success, so I know this is a tried and true company.  So I ordered PiYo.

Now my friend has hooked me up with a couple of Facebook challenge groups, and the main PiYo challenge starts July 1.  From what I've read, the PiYo workouts vary from 18-35 minutes, and there are lots of modifications you can do if you have issues.  I've already been reading some comments from people in the Facebook group and there are so many people there who have knee, hip, or just general joint issues and they're loving this workout.  I'm excited!

In the meantime, I still have pain in that one little pinpoint on my shoulder and I notice if I even walk for a long time, my shoulder aches.  For real, shoulder?  You're not even going to let me walk? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

State of the Shoulder

I won't lie, I'm a little down.  I joined a 3-week challenge that started last week, and despite the allure of points and knitting-related prizes, I haven't been doing that great.  Mainly because I haven't been working out.  Part of it is because I haven't been sleeping that well (which is odd) and of part of it is because I've been down about my shoulder.

With physical therapy, I've been doing a bit better.  My range of motion has improved and I've strengthened the muscles around my shoulder to stabilize it better.  Last Wednesday I went to Masters swimming for the first time in a few months.  It was so great to be back in the pool, but I paid for it.  I swam in the slower lane, and swam last so I could take my time.  I got out of the pool early, but I still did too much, I guess.  All day, my shoulder was stiff and sore, and I wound up with a really bad headache as the soreness crawled up my neck and into my head.

The next morning I went to pt and my therapist spent about a half hour working on my super tight traps and neck muscles to try to get them to release.  By the time I left, my headache was finally going away, but I was still miserable at my failed swimming experiment.  Later that day, I met with the orthopedic PA and he gave me a cortisone shot.

The idea of a cortisone shot scared me to death.  I mean, doesn't the idea of a shot in your joint sound horrifying?  But it was seriously no big deal.  Over the weekend I felt a bit sore at the injection site, but I gradually realized my regular pain had lessened.  Except for this one pinpoint on the front of my shoulder.  I went to physical therapy yesterday and my therapist poked around the sore spot and explained that it's the convergence of a muscle and a tendon and sometimes that tendon can get frayed or ripped. If that’s the case, tendons don't heal on their own and surgery is the only option.

Yesterday I was sore from the piddly little weight exercises they have me do at pt.  So I skipped Masters this morning because I didn't want to aggravate my shoulder any further and have a repeat of last week.

I'm seeing the PA again in about 2 weeks.  If I'm not seeing significant improvement, the next step is an MRI to see if there is a tear.

I’m trying not to think too much about surgery until it's an actual possibility.  Apparently it can take 6-12 months for full recovery.

I'm just really sad.  Swimming has always been the one thing I’ve loved and never got tired of. 

So in the meantime, I think what I need to do right now is focus on strength training.  My gym has all of the weight machines, and thanks to pt, I’m pretty aware of what my shoulder can and can’t handle. At least I can lift heavy with my legs.  I don't love it, and it doesn't give me the endorphin buzz like swimming, but it's what I can handle right now.

Also, I need to walk.  If I could walk 3 miles a day, or most days, that might get rid of some of this excess energy I have balled up inside of me that's keeping me from getting to sleep at a decent hour.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Second Place!

First of all, we're back from St. John and I'm a little depressed about that just generally.  Although I am happy my eyes are getting back to normal.  I always forget, but every time we go to St. John I have an allergic reaction to something and the skin around my eyes puffs up and itches like crazy.   This is the 4th year now.  Every year I think, "Maybe it's such-and-such that's causing this," and every year we rule out one thing or another. 

I have absolutely no seasonal allergies of any sort anywhere else in the world, but there is something in St. John that the skin around my eyes doesn't like.  My eyes are fine - they don't get red or teary.  I don't get stuffed up or cough or sneeze.  I don't get skin irritation anywhere else.  Just the very delicate skin around my eyes for whatever reason.  It's bizarre.

Anyway, once I got past my self-consciousness about looking a little freakish with my puffy eyes and just wore my sunglasses everywhere, we had a great time.  I wasn't going to let puffy eyes stop me from enjoying paradise.  We snorkeled and swam in the ocean every day.

But the important part is, we got 2nd place in our relay!  Only 2 seconds away from 1st!  It was a race to the finish for Tad and the other team's anchor.  However, I think it's important to point out that the 2 guys on the other team were both free divers and had fins that were, like, 4 feet long.  I'm convinced if we had had 4 foot long fins, we would have smoked them.   I'm proud of us!

My shoulder was great.  Earlier in the week I took one little swim around a little island in the middle of one of the swimming beaches, just to get the kinks out and see how I felt swimming with my snorkeling fins.  My shoulder started aching a teeny bit by the end of that swim, but nothing too bad.

After my leg of the relay, I iced my shoulder for about 10 minutes and I was fine.  Actually, I had little to no shoulder pain the entire time we were on vacation.

Since I got back, though...  I've realized that sitting at my desk all day, even while consciously pulling my shoulder blades together and sitting up super straight makes my shoulder ache.  My sedentary lawyer job has injured me, which is probably the lamest way ever to get injured.

However, this morning I got clearance from my physical therapist to swim again since I did so well in St. John!  She also tested my strength and range of motion and determined that I am much improved since I started with her a couple months ago.  Saturday morning, I'm hitting the pool!  I was reflecting to Jason yesterday how when it's my idea to not swim (for example, in the middle of a brutally cold dark winter), I can handle it, but being forced not to swim, especially as the mornings are brighter and I'm waking up early anyway because it's light out, has been wretched.  I'm looking forward to getting back in the pool!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

All Hail Prescription Drugs!

When an orthopedist (or orthopedic PA, in my case) tells you to take an anti-inflammatory, it's a good idea to do it.  The problem is, we're still trying to have a baby, right?  And the particular anti-inflammatory I've been prescribed (or really any anti-inflammatory) isn't good for an embryo.  So I haven't been taking my pain pills for a couple of weeks. 

Which is when I did too much helping with set up at the Arthritis Foundation walk, and my back muscles knotted up and I had two weekends in a row ending with severe shoulder pain plus a migraine at the end of one of those weekends.

I started taking my pills again yesterday and it's like night and day.  Yes, I still have a dull ache in my shoulder, but it's just a mild humming in the background rather than shouting in my face (and crawling up my neck and down my back).  What I have learned is that up until a month ago, my shoulder hurt really bad, but I was just Dealing With It.*  Then I had a couple of weeks of less pain, so I really, really noticed it when suddenly that pain wasn't being stifled anymore.

The point is, I'm feeling better and my perspective is a lot more cheery today.

*I have a history of breaking bones and not realizing it for a few days.  A high pain tolerance can be dangerous.