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Archive for October, 2014

Seven months ago today I had been transported, by ambulance, from Hamilton to Brantford after undergoing the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (formerly known as angioplasty). Later that afternoon I was released and I began the process of recovery.

Physically I recovered very quickly but emotionally the journey has been a little more difficult. It has been hard to try and wrap my head around the fact that I am okay. It freaks me out to know I have something foreign in my body. I underwent all sorts of post-procedure testing and that indicated that there could be a mild and reversible issue or that my ample bosom was interfering with the scans. In other words, I’m fine. As you know, I had been cleared to train for a marathon so that in itself was pretty positive. Yet, here I was struggling with runs and breathing. Five minutes into things I would start having troubles and my mind would automatically go to thoughts of it being my heart again. It seemed to be getting worse… until…

Starbucks with Carla.

Back at the beginning of October, Carla and I decided to catch up with one another over coffee at her favorite coffee shop. The next thing I knew my dear friend had convinced me to go for an orientation at The Athletic Club (TAC) here in Brantford. I can’t remember how we actually got on the topic but next thing I knew we were touring the brightly lit facility. She didn’t pressure me but she did share her passion for working out there. I could see why. TAC is open, bright, and not the least bit intimidating. It wasn’t at all what I had anticipated. So, on October 4th I committed to becoming a member for a year. Quite honestly, I have toyed with the idea on numerous occasions but Carla gave me the gentle push I needed.

With membership at TAC you receive a fitness assessment as well as a personal training demo. I went in to see Kelly Harker and we spent well over an hour discussing my history, current health, lifestyle, and goals. Kelly did all sorts of fitness tests and gave me a copy of the results. I have some work to do. Body fat is still a concern, but I knew that going in. I still can’t do a push-up to save my life. Well, okay… I managed one and even that was modified. Apparently I have average strength biceps… that one shocked me. I would have expected a poor rating there. My flexibility is shot… I used to be able to sit and reach well beyond the tips of my toes (lol – I’ll just blame that on being a runner).

I had gone in with extremely low expectations surrounding cardio-fitness because, when it comes to my health, I’m a realist. I had been off with broken toes, heart issues, and bronchitis that verged on pneumonia—it was one hell of a year. With the time away from training I had expected my cardiovascular ability to be close to rock bottom. After all, every time I would run I would feel like I was immensely out of shape in that regard.

face your fears

face your fears

I braced myself for the news that my suspicions were correct, however, my VO2Max was much better than I thought. I had expected to be in around the 21 V02Max range which is quite low. The actual assessment was much higher at 33.2 which is considered good. What!? At first, I thought maybe she had made a mistake. It was at that moment I realized the breathing issues I have been having when I run are not physical… I was dealing with anxiety. Knowing that has been a gift that has allowed me to move beyond fears that my heart issue wasn’t fixed. That one simple act of going to Starbucks with Carla that day started me on a course of action that would lift a great weight from my shoulders.

While I have your attention, I should update you on The Fall Challenge that I decided to do in order to support my friend Kim.

Here is where I am at…

Nutrition

I have done well with all the goals I set out for myself except I still need to focus more on breaking the habit of having lunch in front of the computer. I could still do with incorporating more dark leafy vegetables too.

Fitness

I’m walking, running, and working out at the gym where I am concentrating on the areas that need some attention. I met with Jenn Jones, a Personal Trainer at TAC. Jenn gave me some pointers on how to achieve my goals which are to increase strength especially in the core, reduce body fat percentage, bring up my V02Max even more, increase flexibility and lose a little more body weight in a healthy way that I can maintain over the long term.

I am somewhat lacking in discipline when it comes to doing the daily yoga flows and will continue to work on that during the last bit of this challenge. Soon enough it will be second nature.

Posture

I’m continuing to work on correcting decades of poor posture. It’s tough but I am determined to stand tall. The gym has mirrors and that certainly helps me check my form when I am lifting and such.

Other

I’m sleeping better. There are a few exceptions to this, like when my little girl has been coughing in the night. Cutting down on the caffeine and exercising more has been quite helpful in this regard.

So there you have it. I’m back to my run-bunctious self.

I feel good great for the first time in over a year. I’m starting to sign up for running events that will take place in 2015 and my enthusiasm for fitness has returned.

And… I couldn’t have done this without the people who have encouraged me, believed in me, and lifted my spirit.

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It is now day 11 of my Fall Challenge and I’ve managed to make some positive changes in working towards my goals. I am blessed to have a wonderful circle of support which is contributing to my success in making lifestyle adaptations.

Nutrition

Reducing my caffeine intake has been tough. I’m happy to say that I am down to two cups a day and even one on some days. I’ve been having a glass of water or some lemon verbena tea when the craving hits. Ideally I’d like to get the coffee down to one cup per day or less. Speaking of drinks, I’ve been making a conscious effort to hydrate properly.

I’ve been snacking on more vegetables especially the raw ones. Apples are in season so that has been my go-to sweet snack. Sometimes I have the fruit with a bit of cinnamon, a few pepitas, and some walnuts. Next week I’ll be introducing more legumes and soups back into our menu… maybe even together.

I’ve been better about checking my blood glucose every day but there is still room for improvement.

Fitness

I’ve been walking every day and I started to train for running events again. I managed 28K the first week and I’m at 23K for this week already. I start a training week on Monday. One of my goals was to start running a minimum of three times a week again. That will happen this week and soon I will start increasing my distances with the eventual goal being a Spring half marathon. I still need to incorporate more core work and a daily yoga practice.

Posture

I’m working on this one. I have to constantly remind myself to straighten up especially at the computer. Strengthening my core should help.

Other

I’ve been taking time to read and work on some hobbies. One of my loves is photography so I’ve been taking more photos especially on the way home from walking my children to school.

Lately I’ve been making a point to stay after school to watch my son’s cross country running and soccer practices. In the process I’ve reconnected with an old friend whose daughter and son are on the same team as my boy.

Sleep has been much improved likely because of the reduction in my coffee consumption. I actually put a time limit on the router so that I wouldn’t be tempted to work late into the night. That’s one of the downfalls of self-employment.

My desk is a constant clutter battle but I’ve managed to keep it clear for the most part. That said, I have to give it a good sorting out on Friday mornings. My family likes to pile things on it.

I’ve hidden the scale because, frankly, I get a little obsessed with it and this challenge is about mind, body, and spirit… not the number on the scale.

All in all things have been progressing well. I’ll post again in another week or two and fill you in on what other changes I’ve been working on and how my training is coming along. I’m certainly am happy to be back to running.

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