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Initiation?

IHeartRunning

I think I was initiated into a secret running club without even knowing about it.

I went for my run yesterday because it was the first day in ages that it wasn’t 100-and-Firelands degrees two minutes after sunrise. Actually, it was pretty nice at 8 am or so. A little on the humid side, but it felt good. In comparison, I saw several people on walks/runs last night around 11:30 pm because it was FINALLY cool enough to do it. (Yes, my area is safe enough where people were out and about at that hour for exercise.)

My run ended up something like this: little over a half mile walk to warm up/get to the main trail, ran a full mile (YAY!), felt shin splints trying to develop, so I walked about 3/4 of a mile to just around the killer hill in the neighborhood beside the trail, turned around and walked the 3/4 mile back, ran ANOTHER full mile (YAY AGAIN!), then walked about 3/4 mile home.

So I’ve proven to myself that in a single ~4.5 mile workout, I can run one mile without stopping TWICE. Next is a matter of connecting the dots, with less of a break in between, and getting in that third mile of running. (Normally I would have jogged a bit during the 1.5 mile walk in between the two running miles, but again…shin splints.)

Which leads me back to the initial point of this post.

I want to say it was because the weather was finally nice for a run, but everyone on the trail was even MORE friendly than usual. I didn’t think this was possible! But EVERY person I walked past during my warm-up said hi or good morning or at least afforded a friendly smile. Usually I smile and go, “PUPPIES!” if they’re walking dogs (which usually earns me a smile in return) but I don’t think I’ve seen it from EVERYONE.

Then I got to the main trail. Stretched for a minute, then kicked it up to a run. That’s when it happened.

The first jogger coming toward me waved. He waved at me. I know it was at me, because he didn’t wave at the walker in front of me, and there was no one behind me. I smiled and waved back, had a surge of happy energy, and kept going.

Then it happened again with another runner.

And then another.

Walkers were still smiling and friendly, but they didn’t do the wave. It was odd.

And then when I was on my way back, jogging the second mile after my walking portion, I passed by the first jogger as he was heading back to *his* starting point. He waved again. Same wave, too.

It felt like I was being taught the secret handshake of runners.

I’ve said before that I’ve been feeling welcomed into this world that other runners live in, even though half of my workouts are not yet up to speed.

I’m having a hard time grasping this. I don’t think of myself as a runner yet. Yes, I run for 2 miles every time I go out on the trails, but I’m mostly walking still. So if only 45% of my workout is actually running, how am I a runner?

And yet, the challenge is to think positively on my goals. I WILL get there. I WILL run a straight 5K. I may not be able to do it now but I’m working on it. I’m running, therefore I’m a runner. I have a feeling that once the scale tips so more of my workout is spent running than it is walking, THAT’S when I’ll promote myself to “runner.”

But even still, there are other people—strangers—who are recognizing what I’m doing. And for that, they’re giving me the “Hi, One Of Us! Keep going!” wave.

Gotta say, it’s pretty damn cool!

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June Wrap-up

MakeJulyYourBitch

June was a crazy month. Not crazy in a bad way, but still crazy.

The beginning of the month started pretty normal. Diet, exercise. Stayed on schedule with both.

Then came vacation. There was a little travel bloating (sodium, eating at restaurants, not drinking enough water, not getting to exercise like normal) but weight-wise not much changed. I managed to get in some exercise days DURING vacation, though. That felt pretty good!

After vacation was my birthday. For all the weight I didn’t gain on vacation, I seemed to put it on over the course of a few days around my birthday. It came back off just as quickly, but those two days at a peak weight were not fun on the ego.

On the plus side, those days DID aid my motivation.

I also started seriously running. While I can’t run for miles and miles without stopping, I was doing intervals that added up to at least 2 miles in each run. Usually that came out to about half of the session. I couldn’t do that before. I was especially proud of the day I ran a mile without stopping. I hadn’t been able to do that since high school!

The running seems to have sparked some more weight loss, too! I’ve noticed since I’ve been able to run regularly that my weight has also begun to drop at a slow, but regular pace. My previous workout schedule was mostly strength training with walking as my cardio. I’ve been doing slightly less intense strength right now and working on turning my walks to runs. I think I just needed to find the right balance. The scale says weight is dropping. I can tell my calves, especially, are looking thinner. The sad part is that they were always pretty decent. I wish more would melt off my inner thighs. The only DOWN side to running is that I’m discovering the horrors of chafing!

I have also been working on eating more this month. Yep, furnace was lit, and suddenly I’m burning more fat, too. Of course, I’m still focusing on healthy foods, but I’m trying to relax a bit. I wanted to stop mentally stressing myself out over food, but still be careful about it. Between vacation and forcing myself to relax, I think it’s helped a lot.

Since the day after my birthday, I’ve dropped 3 pounds. The majority of the month was a plateau, but it’s still the least I’ve weighed since I really started focusing on getting in shape again. (I’m also 5 pounds down from the post-birthday-bash peak…a lot of that was probably water weight and “food mass” in my stomach, but it’s still nice to lose that and more!)

So what’s in store for July?

First and foremost is that I have a job interview the second week of July. I won’t say that I’m guaranteed the position, but I think I have a really good chance. A lot of July will be planned around whether or not I get this position.

I still would like to join a gym. We’re having this heat wave this weekend, making it virtually impossible to run. I could go running, but I don’t want to risk my health. Originally I said I wanted to join a gym for access to heavier weights and machines. Now I ALSO want to be able to use the cardio equipment on days like this entire weekend when running outdoors is just unsafe. Joining a gym, and which one, is dependent on whether or not I get the job.

I have a goal of getting past this plateau and back into the 160’s again. I would like to hit 165 by the end of July. That’s about a pound a week. I won’t be disappointed if I’m lower than that! The shorts I bought just before my trip are already beginning to feel a bit loose. I would like them to be unwearable (too big) by the time autumn hits and I switch back to jeans. Although right now I’m practically living in workout clothes…I try to sleep in them so when I get up in the morning I have less preparation to do a workout. It’s harder to say no when all I really need to do is put on a sports bra, socks, and shoes!

But you know, even if I don’t reach my weight goal, I’m setting a schedule for myself to stick to. I made a calendar and everything! So even if my body doesn’t want to cooperate as far as the scale is concerned, I’m going to try to hit those non-scale victories and be able to point at what I’ve accomplished.

Tomorrow is picture day. I may or may not post them. But if things continue as they are right now, hopefully I’ll have even more to show at the end of the month!

A Fitness Bucket List

SetGoals

Saying “I want to lose X number of pounds” or that “I want to get fit” is nice and all, but sometimes you need a goal to work toward to really push it. Last year my goal was BlizzCon and Krystal’s wedding in a 1-2 punch at the end of October. While meeting my goals was kind of at the mercy of what my body chose to do (“LOL PLATEAU!”) having a looming deadline kept me pushing.

My birthday was two days ago, so I began writing out a new list of goals to focus on for the next year. I WANT to include BlizzCon 2013 in this list, but it hasn’t been announced yet so it’s hard to count it. That’s not to say there aren’t other things to work toward.

Right now my first goal is to join a gym. Guess what? Happy birthday to me! I’m researching the gyms in the area, and while I think I’ll end up joining the one closest to me, you never know if there will be one that offers something that I just can’t live without. For example, the nearest one is a standard gym with separate weight rooms, cardio rooms, and offers personal training. There’s also a Curves nearby, and there’s even a boxing gym which could be interesting. I think there may even be a Crossfit gym, too, but I don’t know its status. I really wanted a place that has a pool, but the one I know of is far enough away that I don’t think I would be compelled to go as often. There’s another standard gym not too far from here. They might offer something or have better rates that would make the extra couple miles of travel worth it.

A gym would be a great investment in my health and fitness. For the strength training plans I’ve been following, I’ve maxed out the amount of weight I have on my bar and dumbbells. It’s hard to continue improving when you can’t increase the weight. I would also love to go for a run right now, but we’re having a thunderstorm. I don’t mind running in the rain, but would rather not during a thunderstorm. In addition, our summers get very hot and humid, so it would be nice to be able to hop on a treadmill or get in some other cardio if the weather is potentially dangerous.

So the big question is finding a gym that I like, and ensuring that I’m committed to using it…which is why I’m setting up a goal list in the first place!

Not gonna lie, if there was a Pink Iron in my area, I’d join in a heartbeat.

PinkIronGym

Goal #2: Sign up for a 5K race. The closest gym to me sponsors a 5K in the fall, and they even posted the race map…which I have been walking most of already! I walked/jogged the entire course the other day, and it wasn’t too bad. The worst part is The Hill through one of the neighborhoods. I’ve always seen a running club jogging down the hill, and now I know it’s because it’s apparently a route that’s a measured 5K. So you know what I’m doing? I’m working my way up to running it, and going in a direction to run UP the hill. (I don’t know if the race goes up or down the hill, although the map has it marked “Uphill” but I figure this way I am putting a little extra work in.)

On the subject of running, I hit a non-scale victory the other day by running over a mile on a particular trail non-stop! I know that might seem silly to the people who are used to running several miles non-stop, but I don’t think I’ve run a full mile since college. I then walked a quarter mile, jogged a quarter mile, walked a half mile, jogged another quarter, walked The Hill, jogged a quarter mile, walked a half, jogged a half mile, and walked the final quarter mile home. I remember starting going on walks in March and being winded and tired after only walking 1.25 miles. Now my distance is nearing 5 miles in the same time it used to take me to do 3, and I’m running more. If I keep it up, (I’m loosely following the C25K plan) I am sure I can do a whole 5K in September!

Goal #3 is to continue the running and getting in shape. Why? Have you ever heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge? According to the site, the course is now 5 miles…just a little over what I walk already. The challenge is to eat the dozen doughnuts before reaching the finish line. I love me some Krispy Kreme Doughuts. I grew up with them. I giggled in college when people first discovered these “new” doughnuts. The Challenge is more or less a local race for me. So why not? They don’t have the information up yet for 2013, but this year’s challenge was in February. I’d assume it would take place around the same time. And yes, I know how many calories are in a full box of Krispy Kremes. I would likely sign up as a casual runner and not attempt the full-dozen challenge. But exercising more means you can eat more, right?

ODNSGainWeightAfter1BadDayOfEating

I’m researching other races and events to join. There are several in the area, especially in the spring. If I have dates to look forward to, I can keep on track and not “Oopsie, where did the time go?” by the time BlizzCon rolls around again.

While I’m looking into running races, I don’t want to stop my strength training. And now we’re back to the “Why I want to join a gym.”

Whenever BlizzCon is to be held (3 of the 4 times I’ve gone it’s been in October, but it was in August one year), I want to be able to cosplay this year. I want to look like this:

ThoseAbs

Holy crap, that’s hot. And I KNOW I can do it!

Thing is, I want to get strong not JUST to look hot, but to be able to USE that strength as well. My final goal on my list?

Fall 2013. Tough Mudder.

I have ALWAYS loved obstacle courses and ropes courses. Sure, I have a terrible fear of heights, but this stuff I can do. I need to get into shape for it, but I know I can do it. Whenever I went to summer camp, I always first signed up for horseback riding, and then ropes or obstacle courses.

This is not a race, but a challenge. And there’s nothing I love more than a challenge to get me fired up. I know that in order to join, I need to be way more fit than I am now. So guess what I gotta do?

You guessed it…I need to stop dreaming and start DOING. Well, I’ve started, but now I have some goals to focus on.

BWForgetSkinny

What I Learned on Vacation

OMGBackAgain

I just spent the past 10 days away from home, away from my computer, away from my fitness equipment and stocked kitchen, and went on vacation to see family. You learn a lot about yourself when you are trying to get fit and healthy, and you learn even more when you are forced to improvise away from your “natural habitat” and live with people who are not used to your habits.

The first thing I learned is that my stomach does NOT like fast food and grease anymore. I spent more than one day in stomach discomfort (the worst time was when we went to see the Avengers movie and I REFUSED to get up to run to the bathroom), and while I was glad I brought the Pepto tablets, they turned my tongue brown for a few days. That’s the problem with vacation: you are often at the mercy of what is available to eat, and when it’s a case where you’re going to be socializing a lot and eating out, even trying to choose healthy choices doesn’t always help. My belly missed veggies and fiber, and hated having so much salt on EVERYTHING because that’s what “normal” people are used to. I didn’t get as many fruits and veggies as I would have liked. We got Chinese once and I only had the option of white rice, fried rice, or chow mein noodles…no brown rice. So you make choices, and I made mine based on whether or not I thought my stomach would get upset or not. Hey, I’ve had vacations where I laid awake at night with heartburn, and did NOT want to go through that again!

Speaking of food, the other issue I had was getting into a cycle of binging/starving, even though I tried not to. When you’re used to eating 5 small meals a day, switching to 2 or 3 meals proves difficult. For breakfast I usually eat 2 eggs and an egg worth of egg whites, with veggies, maybe a piece of fruit, and sometimes some nuts or cheese. So having a bowl of cereal or one egg and a piece of toast usually left me pretty hungry. When lunchtime hit, I would be STARVING. I would do my best to not wolf down my food (I wanted to give my body time to register that I had eaten) or take more than I could handle. There were a few meals where I know I ate more than I normally would have only because I didn’t eat as often as I was used to, and by that meal my body was CRAVING more fuel. I could feel the differences in my body temperature at night when I tried to sleep depending on what I had, how much, and when we last ate.

The next funny thing I learned? Usually when I DID get a large meal (like at a restaurant where everything is served as a “platter”) I could never finish it. I used to be able to finish that much food…AFTER having an appetizer and THEN having dessert! I kinda felt bad going to Chili’s and leaving *A* chicken crisper strip and most of my fries (Hey, I TRIED choosing from the healthy menu, but didn’t ALWAYS succeed. >.>), and tapped out early once when we got pizza. I brought home leftovers from the seafood restaurant. Blasphemy!

I know I also drank a lot of soda, and not enough water. Ugh, my body was CRAVING water the entire time. According to my weigh-in this morning I put on about a pound and a half over vacation, but I can pretty much guarantee that it’s water weight bloating from the salt and not drinking enough water. Give me a few days and it’ll come right off.

Because of the change of eating habits, my skin and hair felt icky most of the time. My skin was dry and flakey, and my face felt puffy. I felt like I always needed to exfoliate, but because I have sensitive skin I knew I couldn’t or I’d make things worse. My hair felt greasy quickly too. It was strange how quickly I recognized the changes in my body due to changes in nutrition. I was okay for the first few days, and then WHAM! It was like a sudden bout of PMS complete with the acne, bloating, and my sweet tooth being reactivated. Heck, for all I know it COULD be PMS, just made worse with the diet change.

Of course, I’m not just writing to complain about vacation completely derailing my efforts or anything negative like that. Overall, I think I managed to keep my calorie count around my normal level, even though it wasn’t as healthy.  I actually managed to get some exercise in! I found several bodyweight workouts for strength and cardio (squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches, etc. with cardio in the form of jumping jacks, running high-knee, butt-kicks, etc.) so I was able to stay active. It was tempting to not exercise because I was on vacation, but I told myself, “You never regret the workout you did, though you’ll probably regret the one you didn’t do.” Sure, we did a lot of walking, but not at the pace, time, or distance I’m used to, so I made sure to get some extra in.

And vacation had one other good effect: DESTRESSING! I’ve been the caretaker of everyone and everything for so long now that it felt good to finally get some time away from home to relax. I came home last night making plans for what I need to do, and for the first time in a long while I didn’t feel overwhelmed with “OMG THIS STUFF ALL NEEDS TO BE DONE YESTERDAY!” I feel more calm and focused.

The first “deadline” coming up is that my birthday is in 2 days. I’ve been debating a birthday present for myself: First I thought about getting new running shoes, but then I thought that maybe I should step it up a notch and treat myself to a gym membership and a few personal trainer sessions to check and correct my form. I’ve been wanting a gym membership for over a year now, and the only downside to the place near me is that they don’t have a pool. I really miss swimming laps (I used to swim competitively when I was young) and would love the option. But if that’s not to be, then I’ll make do. Another option is to get a Fitbit Tracker or similar gadget. I’m especially interested in the sleep tracking function.

No matter what I end up doing, I’m pretty excited about this year. It’s nice to know I’ve motivated some people and have some friends on the wagon with me. Vacation had me thinking about this year’s “Bucket List” of things I want to accomplish by the end of the year and by my next birthday. At the top of the list was getting into great shape again, complete with quantifiable goals. Lower weight and body fat are obvious, but the gym I’m thinking of joining has a 5K race in September I might sign up for. It’s easier to have goals to work toward, you know?

Vacation was a nice end to a previous life chapter. And now it’s time to move forward. I’m pretty excited to see what happens this year!

Emancipation

fear

Three months ago yesterday I moved out of my ex’s apartment and into my house. It’s weird…some days it feels like it’s been forever, and other days it felt like it was just yesterday. I’m pretty sure he’s felt the same too, as he was saying it had been three months six weeks ago.

I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD over the losses I had back in 2008/2009. Avoidance of things I needed to take care of…like the house? Flashbacks, like being unable to take care of others when they were sick? Nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression? I seriously had it all, and just didn’t know how bad it was. I didn’t get the help I needed then, and it became too much.

I was letting the fears get the best of me. Yes, PTSD explains why, but I hate admitting letting something like fear keep me from a positive future.

When our relationship fell apart last year, I didn’t have much to hold onto to get me through it. He said he was sorry for cheating and wanted to try to work things out, and I believed him. I said that working things out meant he had to stop the cheating. He promised he would. So I said I was going to move, but was taking my time because I thought he really wanted me to stay.

I still had a lot of fears regarding facing the house. And the thought being on my own after living with a person for nearly a decade was also scary. Those fears kept me from doing what I needed to do. I convinced myself that things would be all right as they were. That time would handle everything. I didn’t push myself to move.

I let the fears win.

Then I caught him at it again earlier this year. He doesn’t know how much I know. He thought he could lie and say he stopped, but I knew everything. I know what he’s said and done. I know the things he’s called me. He was done with the relationship long before I broke up with him. So much for wanting to work things out….

It all finally hit me. It was the proverbial rock and a hard place. I was letting the fear of moving keep me in a bad living situation. It was the fear of the unknown, being alone, that held me in an uncomfortable but familiar “relationship.” I realized I had a choice: Remain in a situation where I was unwanted, miserable, being used, and not getting the support I needed…or face those fears and give the unknown a shot at being good. It wasn’t a hard decision at that point.

FUCK FEAR, MAN.

I’m not saying that the past three months have been all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had several days where the depression wanted to bring me down again. But I’ve gained SO MUCH by facing those fears.

Suddenly, I felt free.

I’ve taken to calling February 24th “Emancipation Day.” Sure, it was the day I moved out, but that means it was also the day I freed myself from my fears. Sure, they still linger and threaten to take over from time to time, but then I remember what I gained by facing them, fighting back, and defeating them.

I have a great house. I have a great new roommate. I am getting my health back, both physical and mental. I have friends…loads of friends! Friends who suddenly stepped up out of Acquaintanceville or who came back, rekindling friendships we had before. Friends who are interested in me as a person, not what they can get out of me. Heck, friends who are interested in more than just friendship, but kept their distance in respect for my previous relationship. Now they don’t have to.

I have so much support and love coming from all directions that it’s overwhelming sometimes. I have so much support and love to give, and it feels good to give back.

I’ve gained so much confidence again. I’ve been coming out of that dark place. I’m remembering who I am.

I am happy.

Sometimes I wish I had faced those fears sooner, but I think it happened at the right time. Would my relationship have survived? Maybe. But looking back at everything, would I really want to be in that relationship anymore? Not really. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about him, and it’s better this way.

But most importantly, I am free to be me again. I have learned how far down I can slip when I let my fears rule me. I have learned I have the strength to overcome them myself. And now? Now I have new goals and know I can attain them.

Come back here next February 24th. You will see a VERY changed person.

And I challenge you to do the same. What do you need to free yourself from? What fears hold you back from being the best YOU that you can be?

Face them. Break them. Find your freedom. It’s the most amazing feeling.

Note to Self…From Myself

GirlsFuckingSweatDear Aili,

You know damn well that weight loss comes from causing a deficit of calories. You want to burn more than you eat. It’s simple math.

But never EVER forget again that there’s such a thing as creating TOO BIG of a deficit, which will impede your weight loss goals. You want your body to burn fat, not burn the muscle you’re working SO HARD to build. You know those big solid lumps in your arms? Those are your BICEPS and TRICEPS. You got complimented on them today. DON’T LOSE THEM BECAUSE YOUR BODY IS PANICKING THAT IT’S NOT GETTING THE CALORIES IT NEEDS! Seriously, don’t be afraid of eating a little more!

I know you don’t like to eat breakfast, but GUUUUURL you GOTTA do it! And you’ve found several recipes and ways to mix things up that you won’t get bored, remember? No one says you HAVE to eat “breakfast foods.” Eat one of those little steaks for breakfast. Cook up a chicken breast. Have some salmon. IT’S OKAY. Save the eggs for a salad if you want. Just make sure you are eating enough.

Also: Veggies. Veggies are yummy. Veggies are full of water. You feel cooled off when you eat your veggies. SO EAT THEM. (Doing great on the fruit, though! Awesome idea to start freezing grapes again!)

Speaking of water, good for you on keeping up with that. Just push it a little more. You’re almost back to 3 liters a day. Your skin is looking better. One to two more glasses. YOU CAN DO IT!

You’re kicking ass on the exercise. The entire reason I’m writing to you, Aili, is because you may be kicking a little TOO MUCH ass right now. The amount of ass you’re kicking is fine if you make sure you’re eating enough. So start tracking that food RELIGIOUSLY. Then go kick more ass! KICK ALL THE ASS!

So yeah, eat a little more, track it, drink more water, and keep kicking all the ass!

Your bestest friend,

-Yourself

PS – Don’t let the scale tell you that you suck. It’s a stubborn bastard and a total jerk. Now your clothes…they’re telling you that you’re awesome. Seriously, you look HOT in that tank top.

RICE

knee-painSorry, folks. This post is NOT about wonderful starchy carbs (which I certainly enjoy post-workout—I’ve been described as looking like a panther crouching over its kill when I get my post-workout meal). It’s about basic injury prevention and treatment.

A few weeks ago, I went to my ex’s apartment to bring home a bunch of boxes of my stuff. I hadn’t been working out much at that point, and I could feel the flights of stairs in my knees after hauling 25 boxes and box-like items down the flights from that apartment, and back up the stairs in my house. Then, to clear my head, I took my usual 4.15 mile walk.

My knees were sore, but not too bad.

Then that night I managed to sleep with my left leg tangled in my sheets and my knee bent at an angle.

When I woke up? SEARING PAIN.

I treated it as best as I could by staying off my feet and putting ice on it. It was okay, but not fully healed, when I made it worse that weekend when I got the rest of my belongings.

Since then, I have been fighting to get it healthy again. It would feel better for a while, then I’d do something and begin to feel the ache and pain creep up on me again. It felt fine BEFORE Legs Day. The next day it wasn’t so good. Or it was great on Saturday. Sunday? It might not have been a great idea to wear those cute heels just yet.

I went to running websites and blogs to try to figure out what exactly was wrong. Shin splints sounded like a possibility since I tend to overpronate. And I won’t lie, the thought that I caused a stress fracture scared me. But I SWORE to not become a “cyberchondriac.” Besides, the pain was more around the knee. Patellar tendonitis looked like a possibility, too, but still didn’t seem to fit the bill.

I finally figured out that it’s bursitis. On one hand, OW. On the other, YAY FOR FIGURING IT OUT SO I CAN TREAT IT!

I had actually been doing the right things for treating it: RICE.

RICE (sometimes PRICE) stands for (Protection), Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It’s not a cure-all for ALL injuries, but is definitely the go-to first aid when you feel a pain that is not the normal soreness from working out.

Thankfully, I didn’t really need the Protection aspect of it, but it’s something to keep in mind if for some reason you have to keep going despite a potential developing injury.

Rest: This much is obvious. Think of pain as your body’s way of telling you to stop whatever it is you’re doing NOW. If you’re strength training, definitely take at least a day off from that body part. You should be doing that anyway. Don’t follow Legs Day with ANOTHER Legs Day. (I shouldn’t have to say that, but I’ve seen people do it.) If you’re running, take a day off. Or walk, if you must keep moving. (I did have a day where it was annoying me, not painfully, but I also had DOMS from Leg Day and wanted to take a short walk anyway to try to deal with THAT soreness.)

Ice: Pain like this is often due to inflammation. Take an anti-inflammatory pain killer like Advil, and ice the body part that needs it. In my case, figuring out that it was bursitis meant I finally figured out which part of the knee needed the ice. Don’t put the bag of ice directly on your skin, and don’t keep it there for too long. 15 minutes at a time should be enough. You don’t want to give yourself frostbite! Give yourself an hour or so off of the ice, and then ice again as needed.

Compression: Having a brace or even ACE bandage to apply light compression to the area should be applied to accommodate swelling.

Elevation: Try to keep the injured area above heart-level if you can, but definitely elevate it for circulation.

I actually enjoyed dealing with this because it meant I had an excuse to sit somewhere with my leg propped up and do nothing but knit or watch tv. Relax? What’s that?!

When I wasn’t resting, and before exercise, I focused a little harder on stretching my legs and knee. I’d warm up with some dynamic stretching, and was certain to do some static stretching after. My exercise focus has turned to strengthening my knees, and I have been taking my time to make sure I was using proper form. I push hard enough to strengthen the muscles, but not so much to cause further injury.

In my case, it helps that I’m also losing weight. It’s said that losing 1 pound of weight takes 4 pounds of pressure off the knees.

For me, Monday was Legs Day. Yesterday was my walk (it definitely helps with DOMS) and Core Day. Today I don’t have a walk, and it’s Arms Day. Tomorrow is just a walk. I can tell that my knees are feeling stronger, and my left knee is feeling better.

So if I can emphasize ANY point in this post, it’s to listen to your body. Recognize the difference between soreness and actual pain. Treat it immediately, and build yourself back up so you can continue kicking ass!

Rebirth

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anaïs Nin

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anaïs Nin

I know, I know. I keep saying I’m going to get back on track and write more. I’ve finally been getting back on track, just haven’t been writing about it.

Here’s the thing: I have been suffering major clinical depression. There, I’ve said it. I’m not always a strong person. I’m good at putting on a strong face and supporting others when I’m crumbling inside. But the first step to healing is admitting you have a problem, right? Well there you go.

I will post my story eventually. It’s helped to finally talk about it with people. I kept it all bottled in and didn’t get any professional support or help since my world fell apart in late 2008 when my dad died. Things went downhill from there with lots of other major setbacks. Some days I struggled to just get out of bed. Strangers tell me how strong I am and how impressed they are at the transformation I went through last year…all I saw was a fat girl struggling to tread the emotional waters in a deep, dark place. I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. I cried myself to sleep nearly every night hoping SOMEONE would see how badly I needed help. I hated myself every day. Living like that was hard. In fact, there are no words to describe how hard it is, and it certainly isn’t “living.” You have to experience it to know, and I don’t wish that kind of situation upon anyone. It was that bad.

But like losing weight last year, I had to rely on myself. I wanted to change so badly, and only had the words of a few “strangers on the internet” and a few people who knew me to keep me going. I wasn’t working, was finishing school online, and only had in-person social contact with my fiance who really wanted the depression to just go away. So no one really knew what I was going through except maybe two long-distance friends who have struggled with depression themselves. Hell, there were times I considered suicide, but decided that would be too much effort. Yeah, I didn’t even have the strength to actively pursue ways to remove myself from everyone else’s problems. Besides, that felt like a coward’s way out…plus what was left of my inheritance would have gone to my brother and he’s such a cockbite that I wasn’t going to let him benefit from it. =P

I couldn’t stand being in that dark place and struggled to pull myself out. Even my 10-year relationship suffered. I was not able to give my fiance the affection he wanted, so he looked elsewhere. He’d told me that my depression was “bullshit” and I should “just get over it.” In our last argument in late February, he first screamed at me about how he couldn’t stand living with me and couldn’t wait until I was gone. Later he admitted to cheating on me. I said I’d be out that Friday. And I was.

Not gonna lie, it hasn’t been easy. But the scary unknown future is better than the familiar dark place I was in. I moved into my childhood home (I inherited it in the estate and was too scared of the bad memories to move into it before, and finally found some self-confidence when I faced them alone), and one of my long-distance friends later moved into the spare bedroom.

A mix of sunlight, a new place, eating right and exercising again, and having a dear friend in my actual presence who understands depression and actively listens (and on whose shoulder I’ve left a few mascara stains already) has helped a lot. Money is scary now, but I’m looking for a job. That and the remnants of Hurricane Depression are what’s left to face right now…I think I can handle it.

I’m starting over again, but this time I’m not alone. And finally being able to name my demon has been helping me face it.

I’ll be writing more for real this time. I’ve already started exercising again to get my body used to working out, and have added walking on the vast network of trails by my house to get me moving. I plan to start the Couch To 5K (C25K) program in a little over a week (look for that either April 15 or 17) and have just completed Week 1 of 100/200/200 again. I’ve been keeping a mini-journal on paper lately, and will probably move it back/copy it/elaborate here.

I also plan to post more about depression, helping yourself through it, and how to help someone you know who has it. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m not totally out of that bad place yet, but I can finally a light up ahead and am certain it ISN’T an oncoming vehicle! I hope to be able to help others who may be going through the same thing I did but don’t know how to get to a better place in life.

I feel reborn again. I’ve been wearing the phoenix pendant I already own, and haven’t taken it off since I moved. It’s a constant reminder that change is always happening, and you can either just go with the flow or use it to better yourself.

Because this post is of a rather personal nature, I’ve turned off comments. If you feel the need to respond to anything in this post in particular, you may email me at firebudgie (AT) gmail (DOT) com. Thanks for understanding, and I will be back with new posts soon!