Back at it

The past month has been rough.  March is already my least favorite month but this past one was one for the books (though technically it started in the end of February).  I took a few beatings and wasn’t sure how I was going to come out on the other side.*  It started with my broken toe.  The mysterious, no clue how or when it happened, why do I not have feeling but can still tell that this thing hurts like heck, broken toe. That was annoying.  Then, the next day I hurt my back at the gym.  I did a motion which involved twisting which is a huge no-no in my spinal cord.  And that spinal cord made sure that I knew how pissed off at me it was.  It took about a week and a half for me to stop crying in pain.  Then it was more of a I-got-punched-inside-my-spine ache.  Then it became a dull pain.  And then, one day, it was gone.  The Hubs asked how I was feeling and I realized that I wasn’t.  There wasn’t pain there.  In the midst of all the broken painness, I also caught an ear infection.  That sucked too.  A lot.  The ear hurt, and the antibiotics they put me on made me throw up a lot.

But, now it’s April and I’m pain free, earache free, bones mended back together and healthy.  And as of a week and a half ago, I’m a contender for a clinical trial on the ReWalk.  If I get into this trial, I’ll have the bionic legs for a year and help prove to insurance companies the health benefits of having them.  To say that I’m beyond stoked is an understatement!!  I have my physical therapy evaluation next week.  So, having been out of service for the past month, and with it being a beautiful new month, I decided it was time to get back to the gym.

For the first time since joining this gym I was nervous to go in.  I’m a bit gun shy now that I may hurt myself again.  But, I had an appointment for training with Ninja Trainer so I had to go in.  And I have faith in his experience in training and I know he won’t let me overexert myself.  We had a talk about my fears and about how I just have to be careful, mindful and vocal.  The hour flew by!  We did a very thorough warm-up and did a lot of slow training on various machines.  You’d think that slow movements and lower weight would be easier.  And if I could raise my arms, I would slap you in the face.  My arms caught fire before out session ended.  It was amazing!!

And my biggest fear (that I would lose all progress that I had made) flew out the window.  I still retained a lot of the strength that GunShow had helped me gain.  Ninja Trainer pointed out the definition in several of my muscle groups, which made me feel better.  I was also worried that my dedication would be gone, but I’m so stoked to be back in the gym that I found my motivation to make healthy changes all around!  NT is going to give me meal planning guidelines to help me meet all of my goals.  His training, combined with eating healthy and *fingers crossed!!!!* the ReWalk could be everything I need to make some HUGE improvements!  And I did promise my gym friends that I would try to walk again so they could be the gym who got the paralyzed girl walking.

Cheers to picking back up and moving forward even stronger!

*It wasn’t all terrible. I did get to spend a lot more time with my Little Mister and do a ton of fun things like park play dates with other kids. I think that little baby is what kept me from really going off the deep end.

Come to Jesus meeting

I know that since joining the gym at the end of April 2016, I have been talking pretty consistently about how much I love it!  And, if you follow my Instagram, you see that a majority of my photos/videos are from the gym.  I get it.  I’m obsessed.  But, I can’t explain how happy I am that I found a gym where I feel comfortable and where I actually want to spend time!

And almost more important than that, it’s a place where everyone cares.  I know that GunShow cares cause I pay him to care.  (Yes, I know that I’m poking the bear and will pay for that later during training.)  But, it really goes beyond payment.  Everyone there is just genuinely nice!  It’s like the unicorn of gyms!  Yesterday I was there working out on my own (I am trying to not be lazy on my days off from training and still go in to get some cardio in).  After I did a virtual boxing class (another amazing perk of the gym!!!) I was chatting with Smiles (the gym manager), GO1 (one of the gym owners) and Gangsta Belle (the female trainer from North Carolina who has this super sweet accent and an amazingly wicked sense of humor). The conversation started with us talking about whether I could take Gangsta Belle’s “yogalates” class.  She thinks that I can, but we are going to meet before so she can figure out how to modify some of the things.  But, it’s a class that incorporates stretching and a core workout, both of which are areas that GunShow is always getting on me about improving.

The conversation morphed from that to my horrible, terrible, no good, very bad diet.  I know that if I ate better I would be seeing way better progress.  GS gets on me about that too, but being the head strong person that I am, I see it more as a way to obstinate and combative with him.  But while I love to see him shake his head in annoyance when I tell him that I had [insert bad food here], I’m really just hurting myself and delaying progress.  So, it’s time to make a change.  The come-to-Jesus that I had with GO1 and GB really made me think.  (Plus, there’s something to be said about advice coming from other females who can relate than from a dude who has all the willpower in the world and whose goal is to make the Hulk look small.)  I went home and told the Hubs about my new plan to get healthy.  He stopped listening when the words “turkey meatloaf” came out of my mouth.  To be fair, that doesn’t sound so good to me either.  But I’m going to find healthy and delicious ways to be healthy.  And I’m going to save sweets  to be what they were intended for: a sweet treat, not a staple food group.

I’m also going to be more public about my diet.  No more private binge eating.  This morning I had a Greek yogurt from Trader Joes (I’m sure I will hear about how that’s full of sugar and not actually healthy, but at least it’s protein, right?! BABY STEPS!) and I made my lunch.  It took me less time to make my lunch than it would have taken to drive through McDonalds.  And it’s full of protein and deliciousness.  I took a can of tuna and mixed it with half an avocado and some mustard.  (It was also a fun excuse to try out my new avocado tools- a cutter, slicer, de-pitter AND a half-avocado saver.  No clue what their real names are.)  I’m going to cut up a tomato to eat with it.  This should be a nice healthy and protein-y lunch after my training today.

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Let’s Make Me Great Again!!

My hamstrings hurt

My hamstrings hurt this morning.  More my left than my right.  It was a day-after-the-gym-proof-that-I actually-worked-out-why-did-I-push-it-so-hard-could-I-have-pushed-it-even-farther kind of hurt.  It was a good hurt.  I woke up to this hurt around 4:30 this morning. I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep.

But, holy [expletive]!  My HAMSTRINGS HURT!  MY hamstrings hurt!  MY HAMSTRINGS HURT!*

Before everyone thinks that I’ve gone insane: My. Hamstrings. Hurt.  Translated: I can feel my hamstrings!  I haven’t felt my hamstrings since (ballpark guestimate) August 12, 2013.  How do I know that?  That’s the day before I became paralyzed.  My hamstrings haven’t really worked since.  In fact, I’d kind of assumed they somehow jumped out of my legs and were sitting on some beach sipping mai tais.  I wouldn’t know they were there because I couldn’t feel them.

But today.  I. Felt. Them. They. Hurt.  A glorious hurt!  A marvelous hurt!  The most wonderful hurt that has ever hurt in the history of hurts.  I knew that GunShow pushed me yesterday at the gym.  We did some exercises that we’d never done before.  That I’d never really contemplated before.  He’s probably going to claim he’d researched and thought of it ahead of time, but I’m pretty sure that he creatively came up with it on the fly when I said “I want to try the rowing machine sometime when there’s less people around.”  His reply was “Let’s do it now.  No one is ever looking.”  (Um, rude.  I was having a good hair day.  I’m sure they were looking.)  But I decided to go for it.  The transfer took about 5 minutes because halfway through I started laughing (the kind of laughing that made Ninja Trainer come over to watch because he probably thought I was crying) and kind of got stuck.  But, I eventually made it onto the world’s tiniest rowing machine seat (I’m pretty sure it’s actually normal size, but in my nervousness, it was the size of a pinhead).  And instead of rowing, GS had the brilliant idea to have me “walk” my self forward and backward using the moving seat.  It was more of a pushing back with my quads and pulling forward with my hamstrings.  The pushing back was pretty easy because my quads have always been kind of present in the past few years.  The pulling forward was tough.  I had to try to not cheat by using my arms or core to pull myself.  But while it was slow, I was able to do it!  I think we did 8 or 10 or 503 reps. I wasn’t really counting.

I knew that I pushed it yesterday because my legs were tingly all day.  But now, if you need me, I’m going to sit here enjoying this wonderful post-leg-day hurt.  I earned it!  I deserve it!  I can FEEL it!!

 

*Note for my mom: Don’t worry mom, it’s a good hurt.  Not a “I did too much and hurt myself” kind of hurt.  You don’t have to worry, I’m OK.

Leg day: take THAT atrophy!

As I was getting ready for work this morning I mentioned to the Hubs that I felt like my legs were showing more atrophy.  That’s really my biggest fear- losing muscle that I will never get back.  That might seem like a silly fear, but here’s the reason why: I’m fully hopeful that someday there will be a cure for paralysis and I don’t want all my muscle to be gone and prohibit me from being able to walk again.  My muscles still have some slight ability, so I like to keep them active as much as possible.  Or, when I remember, at least.

[Random thought: isn’t “atrophy” a weird word?  It looks like “a trophy”.  But, isn’t that the opposite of what it is?  Your muscle is literally dying.  It’s going away.  You’re losing.  There’s definitely no winning.  Shouldn’t it be called a-sucky?  Or a-losing? Or a-where-the-hell-are-my-muscles-going?]

So, at the gym today I did leg day.  I killed it on leg day.  I told GunShow that I thought my legs were getting skinny and at first he didn’t understand why that was a bad thing.  “You don’t want your legs to get skinny?”  I responded “No.  I’m good with every other part of my body getting skinnier.  Just not my legs, cause it’s not for the right reasons.”  And after that, I killed it.  I rode the bike longer than I have yet.  I did more reps on the leg press and I did the abductor and adductor machine.  I was completely spent by the end.  Legs twitching up a storm.  It’s funny when I do leg day, because I know that I am working really hard, but I can’t really feel it.  And then after I’m completely exhausted.  But I still feel like I didn’t do anything, because, again, I can’t feel it like with other body parts.  Sometimes I forget why I’m so exhausted and have to be reminded that I did leg day.  It’s just a really odd feeling.

But, it’s something that needs to be done.  I need to start pushing myself more to keep my legs from withering away if I can help it.  They may atrophy.  And they may get skinny.  Too skinny.  But, I am going to fight like hell to keep that from happening.

 

Trust.

Today was a body part at the gym day.  (I honestly don’t know what part of the body we worked out today because somehow GunShow managed to make them all sore.  Maybe shoulder day?  Maybe bicep day?  Pretty sure it wasn’t leg day, though he did still manage to get them involved and they are now steadily twitching as I sit here typing in agony.)  He was a bit under the weather with a sinus infection and he decided to take his unhappiness out on me.  Ok, I don’t know that last part to be completely true, but it is a very likely scenario.  I told him to take the time off to rest.  He told me I wouldn’t work out if he weren’t there.  I told him I would.  He apparently knows me too well. I would have gone to the gym.  And I probably would have half-assed it in a virtual class.  I love the virtual classes.  But, I also admit that I don’t push myself in nearly the same way he does.  Hence my need for his services!

But, the conversation also got me to thinking.  I sometimes do weights when I’m not training at the gym with him.  Again, it’s not the same way.

wheelchair lat pull downwheelchair lat pull downI don’t do some weights because I would need help (i.e. a seated lat pulldown [I’m sure the “seated” ).  I need help pulling the bar down to even do the exercise.  Sometimes I lose my balance.  I’ve never fallen.  Or even come close to falling.  But it’s still a really scary feeling when you have no control.  And that’s why I like having him there.  I know GunShow won’t let me fall or hurt myself.  I trust him.

 

I know that I’m a different kind of client.  I need more attention because things that aren’t an issue for other people are possibly problematic for me.  Like sitting on a weight bench.  A normal client can just sit down.  I have to transfer off of my wheelchair onto a narrow bench.  I have to know that I’m not going to fall off equipment.  Or that I’ll be able to get back up if I get on the ground.  These are considerations that I think about nonstop when I’m at the gym.  And that’s why it has to take trust.  My trust in him has grown as our relationship has developed while I’ve trained with him.  I’m willing to try different things that push me way [read: WAY WAY WAY] past my comfort zone because of that.  If I don’t trust my trainer (physical therapist, doctor, whatever) I’m not going to push myself or let them push me.  I’ll play it safe.  It’s once we’ve established that level of trust that I’m willing to go out on the ledge (so to speak).  And I don’t trust everyone.  Or many people, for that matter.  And if I don’t have the trust connection with someone, I will completely shut down.  That’s why I left a couple physical therapists prior to joining this gym.  No trust = not pushing myself = wasting my time and theirs.  But you have to understand how scary it is doing things when you can’t feel that you’re supported on the ground by legs that are meant to stabilize you and having a core that isn’t quite up to snuff.  It’s intimidating and daunting.  Even though past therapists would tell me to trust that my legs are there and still supporting me, it’s nearly impossible to trust that when you can’t feel them.  So when I can’t trust my own body, I have to trust the person who is working with me.  I have to trust my trainer.  I have to trust GS.

Another example: today we did timed bicep curls and I set the weights on my legs for very short breaks.  I had the weights resting on my hands because it’s scary putting weights on my legs and not knowing if they’re hurting my legs or not.  GS didn’t want me to cut off circulation to my hands by holding the weights.  I told him my fear of accidentally hurting my legs and not knowing and I could see him thinking about that.  I don’t think that’s something he had thought of before.  And I could literally see the wheels in his brain turning.  And then he said “Do you think I would let you do something to hurt yourself.”  It wasn’t accusatory like how dare I not trust him.  And it wasn’t feeling sorry for himself like he was sad that I didn’t trust him.  It wasn’t even really a question. It was a statement of strength.  I know he wouldn’t let me really hurt myself.  He knows that I know that.  And I moved my hands and let the weights rest on my leg.  And I did not get hurt.

Well, My legs didn’t get hurt.  My biceps are completely on fire.  But I suppose that was intentional.

Leg Day

Today was leg day.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Leg day.  I know that when GunShow nicely suggested demanded that I get on the recumbent bike I questioned it.  I think I looked behind me to see who he was speaking to, since it obviously wasn’t me.  I’d assumed the wheelchair had given away the fact that my legs don’t work.  Maybe he wasn’t that quick to catch on?  He’s been overworked lately so maybe he’d forgotten?

But no.  As I was slow to follow, he asked politely  yelled at me to follow him and stop lagging behind.  I guess he was talking to me afterall.  Since I am always pleasant and never second guess him With a look of confusion and quite loudly voicing that, I followed him.  I think the conversation went like this:

GS: Get on the bike.*

Me: My legs don’t work.

GS: Excuse me?!

Me: [Blank stare] You heard me.

GS: Get on the bike.

Me: You realize my legs don’t work?

GS: Stop waiting and get on the bike.

Me: How?

GS: I can help you.

Me: I don’t need help.

GS: Then get on the bike.

Me: ……

GS: Let’s Go!

Ok, so after a few logistical maneuvers, I finally figured out how I could position myself to hoist up to the seat.  The handle was in a very awkward place and it took a while figuring out how to get around it without getting awkwardly impaled.  GS told me to use his arm for leverage.  I told him I didn’t need help.  And I managed to not only get on the bike by myself, but I did it very gracefully [with the exception of when I first got on the seat I lost my balance and fell head first into the monitor.  Luckily I caught myself with the top corner of my left eye socket- you know where you’re not at jeopardy of losing an eye cause it’s just under the eyebrow.  Funnily enough, that was the second time that morning that I had lost balance and saved myself with my head.  The other is a story for another day.]  I thought GS was going to have a heart attack, which did make it pretty funny.  And of course, that’s when Smiles happened to walk over and announce that he had definitely seen that.  I used to be afraid of embarrassing myself in the gym.  Cross that off my bucket list.

There I was on the bike.  GS helped me strap in my feet so they wouldn’t slide off the foot plate.  (That was the beginning and end of his being nice.) Since Smiles was there, I asked him to film me for my YouTube page. “Start pedaling,” GS commanded. Being the very good client, I did not.  But then I eventually did when I knew my film crew was going.  And, with a little help from my hands, I actually did pretty well.  I was able push down pretty well.  It was getting the leg around that needed some guidance.  We stopped filming.  I thought I was done.  It was only a rest.  “Let’s go.” GS said again.  <Insert dramatic sigh here.>  But I obliged.  And I did well that time.  And I felt like I could go forever.  Well, I felt like I could go forever until it got really hard and my legs didn’t want to work anymore.  For some reason, GS felt like his slow-ass countdown was going to inspire my legs to keep going.  All it inspired was dramatic eye rolls from me.  But, I did it.  So maybe it did work.  Who knows?  After another short break, I went for a third and final time.  However, this was actually my best round as my legs were all fired up.  I actually did several rotations where I didn’t even need my hands to help.  “Keep going!” GS enthusiastically exclaimed.  See, that was the one we should have filmed.  It was amazing!!  I had the Rocky theme playing in my brain.  [Not really.  I was too exhausted to even think beyond “left leg push, right leg push.”]

Getting off the bike was much easier.  I lowered myself to the bar below the seat to avoid the impaling handle and then bounced over to my chair.  The funny thing was that I hadn’t told GS what my plan was, so when he sees me plop down to the lower bar he thought I was falling and almost had a second heart attack.  Now it’s just funny to me to try to freak him out like that.  Is that mean?  Maybe.  And maybe he’s mean with all of the torture he puts me through.

*(Disclaimer: GS and I have become really good friends, which is why we can have a conversation like this.  He is actually really nice to his real clients [something I often point out and question and beg for!].)

New is not always better

It’s funny the relationship one creates with a gym they like.  I know I’ve mentioned my love affair with the gym I joined a couple months ago.  What I didn’t realize until being away is how much this gym has become a part of my life.  Sure I hang out there (read: bug and annoy them) all the time. But, it goes beyond that.  I am my best me there because they all push me.  When Smiles took us on the tour of the gym, he said everyone there got along and it was like a family.  I didn’t believe him.  But it is.  It’s like one big, happy (albeit sometimes incestuous [the stories I could tell on that but won’t for fear of retaliation in the form of torture during training sessions…]) family.

What made me realize this and be kind of sad about missing them all for so long was joining the gym in Wyoming and doing a personal training session today.  The gym up here is small and very nice.  The owner, who is also the trainer, is also very nice.  But, it was just so different.  Her workout was fun.  I got to throw weighted medicine balls and do some other fun core workout stuff.  (I did tell her that her workout was more fun than Gun Show’s.)  But, sometimes different is not better.  I got away with too much.  I could easily distract her.  And if I got tired, I just stopped and took a break.  She didn’t scold me.  I was almost expecting an immediate “What are you doing?” Followed by a “Come on!  Let’s Go!” GS stays on me.  My arms could seriously tear out of the sockets and I’d get a kick to the wheelchair and an exasperated “Let’s GO!”  (Ok, if we’re being honest here, sometimes I do take breaks just to annoy him.  But, he knows it, which is why he doesn’t show me any pity.)  I was also almost expecting a “Why is she taking a break?!” from Ninja Trainer.  (Ninja Trainer is not my trainer, but he’s one at my gym.  And from what I hear, he’s a beast who feeds on the tears of his clients.  But he’s also a ninja because I won’t even see him, but I’ll hear a “Why is she taking a break?!” or “Thumbs!” and it’s like…where the heck is he and how does he know?!)

So, while today was fun and it was good to be working with a trainer because I just do workout better when I am not alone, it made me miss my gym family back home.**  I do have a feeling that I will be sore tomorrow though.  I’m not saying she went easy on me.  Because she did make me work hard and do a ton of crazy core stuff.  It just wasn’t the same.  And I’m a creature of habit.

**Please remind me that I said this when I am home and my ass is getting kicked by GS for all my sass and being away for so long.