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Things I Learned The Month I Tried To Move

It’s impossible to conquer Toronto. There’s just too much to do, see and eat.

Walking is such an underrated activity. Sure it’s no calorie-burner, but I think it’s as beneficial for mental health as yoga.

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I have to stop automatically giving a positive response when people ask “How are you?” It causes others think I’m “okay” when I’m actually not.

Bad things happen to good people all. the. time.

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If you’re going to add Greek yogurt to cooked oatmeal, add it after cooking and not to the pot while oatmeal is being cooked. The latter results in a soupy batch.

I need to relax. Which can be hard to do when you’re not allowed to exercise and it’s your best form of stress relief.

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Getting the cast off a broken limb does not mean it’s all better. It can mean the hard and painful work is about to begin.

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Adding pesto to hummus is a good idea.

Sometimes the best way to get out of an exercise slump is to take a break. Not a few days, but a few weeks or even months.

I don’t want my parents to ever leave me.

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Doctor says at least two years until my arm is back to its new “normal.” Two. Years. I fucked it up bigtime.

Move It Monday: Stretches For Your Pipes

Welcome to Week #2 of the Pipes Challenge! During the six weeks of the challenge, I’m hoping to rehab my broken elbow into flexion/extension again and working on my wrist rotation. In case you’re catching up, I shattered my elbow six weeks ago in a skating accident and had reconstructive surgery on it.

I have progress pictures!! It’s been two weeks since getting my cast off and four physiotherapy sessions. I’ve also been sitting down and working on moving it at least twice a day.

Here’s what the flexion looked like two weeks ago:

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Here’s what it looks like today:

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Not that much progress, just a few degrees. The photos are taken “cold,” meaning I didn’t work on my arm beforehand. I can get it to go a little further in a physiotherapy session.

Extension two weeks ago:

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Extension today:

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I feel like I’ve made more progress with this movement. Extension is far less painful than flexion. My biggest problem right now is that my bicep is “on.” Meaning it’s almost always contracted. You can see it a little in the above photos. It’s why a lot of my movement is limited and why moving is so painful. Hoping it eases off soon!!

Wrist rotating to supinated (palm up) two weeks ago:

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Supination today:

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For the record, this is what supination looks like on a normal arm:

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I’ve made a little bit of progress with this too. My physio worked hard at it, which meant a sore forearm for days. But I can get my hand into “neutral” now with just a little coaxing, which is having your palm face your stomach.

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So overall, not an amazing amount of progress over the last two weeks. But at the same time there has been some progress, which is way better than nothing. I will say that being able to straighten my arm with the palm facing the ceiling feels like a million years away. Right now the inability to rotate my wrist is what frustrates me the most. I still can’t hold a book with two hands. Or read a newspaper comfortably. Or drive a car!!

As mentioned above, one of the biggest things holding me back is that the muscles in my left arm have completely seized up. Because they’re contracted, tight, and stiff, it makes moving my arm hard and painful. One of the things I’m most focused on now is learning to relax. Always checking in with myself and making sure I’m not tensed up along my arm. I’ve also started taking muscle relaxers before I move my arm and I find it helps noticeably.

As a way to help us relax those upper body muscles we’re working so hard during this pipes challenge, here’s a list of some of my favourite stretches!

Shoulder Stretch

Every person I know does this stretch wrong. It’s supposed to stretch out the back of your shoulder, but only works if your shoulder is DOWN. Try locking your scapula down, then bringing your arm out front. Don’t let your shoulder raise an inch when going into the stretch.

Chest Stretch

KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS DOWN!!

If your flexibility isn’t quite there yet, you can always do this one:

Just put your hand up on a wall, then rotate your body in the opposite direction. Your shoulders need to be down for this one too (noticing a trend here?)

Triceps Stretch

The best way to ease into this is start by bringing your arm back to reach between your shoulder blades. Then grab on to the elbow with the other hand and push it in & down towards your head.

Biceps Stretch

A lot like the above chest stretch, but you don’t need to be so vigilant to keep your shoulder down. I find I always have to play around and readjust this one to find that sweet spot where I start to feel it in my bicep.

Just because…

I finish every workout with this stretch. It hits the hamstrings, back, loosens the shoulders and neck. This is also one I’ve been doing a lot of with my bad arm to loosen up and stretch out my stiff left shoulder. Really have to relax and learn to haaaaang. Take deep breaths and enjoy being upside down for a while.

Well, that’s all she wrote! I’m meeting with my new physiotherapist tomorrow and going to see my family doctor for a referral with an orthopaedic surgeon. I still need bi-weekly x-rays and check ups, and will need more surgery to get a screw removed in six months.

Even more exciting news, is that I’m getting a gym membership this week!! Recumbent bike here I come…

“The Slump” and My Saving Grace

I have something of a confession.

Before the accident that broke my arm, I was going through a bit of a “workout” slump.

I know this is a pretty common occurrence, but what made mine notable is that it lasted for almost a year.

Ever since leaving my much loved gym in Fredericton last April, working out has been a challenge. More of a challenge than it was in the past. Before, I legitimately loved exercise. Working out was my favourite time of day. I had to consciously limit my workouts to 60-90 minutes, otherwise I’d just want to keep going. I had the proverbial fire in my belly about exercise. I mean, it’s why I quit my blossoming career as a radio reporter to become a personal trainer.

And then it just went away. After leaving Fredericton, I stayed with my mom in Moncton for a month. I felt like I was dragging myself to the gym for mediocre workouts every day. I blamed it on my newfound unemployment making me lazy. Or the fact that the gym there didn’t have my favourite classes or lifting equipment.

When I arrived in Toronto in July, I immediately found work as a personal trainer. This had to get me excited about exercise again… right?

Wrong.

It turned it into work. I’m not talking about my sessions with clients, but about my own personal fitness. After a long day of training, the last thing I wanted to do was stay at the gym an hour longer to get my own workout in. Training on the same equipment I worked on made it feel less fun. Not to mention, the gym was far away from where I lived, and getting there was a real hassle when I wasn’t getting paid for it. I hardly ever went to the group fitness classes at my gym because peak class hours coincided with peak training hours.

When I injured my arm six weeks ago, I admit, I was a little relieved by the prospect of not feeling pressured to work out. The only reason why I have consistently exercised during this extended “slump” is to maintain my health and fitness. Because that’s what a personal trainer is expected to do.

It has been 10 months of bored workouts + 6 weeks of complete rest and I am finally, finally, starting to feel enthusiastic about it again. I feel like setting fitness goals again. Like following a training program. Jeez, I could even sign up for a race! I’m starting to get a bit of a smoulder in my belly again. I know it will be a while yet until I’m back in my full fighting form. But I have a lot of hopes for things I’ll be able to do this summer. Activities I’ll be able to do outdoors in the Maritimes – even with my rehabbing arm. First step is getting the okay to run again. I’m going to bug my surgeon about it again tomorrow!

Anyways, it is with this that I bring you my final Toronto brunch.

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I only just heard of Saving Grace after it made the #3 spot in BlogTO’s latest Best Brunch in Toronto list. I’d already tried the one and two spots, so I had to round out the top three!

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Saving Grace is this reeeeeally small place in Little Portugal. So small they make you wait outside for a table because there’s no room for people to stand in the doorway. It wasn’t that big of a deal on the spring-like day we were there. But that’s not cool in the dead of winter.

We arrived there at 10:30am not knowing it opens at 10am. We had to wait for the first round of brunchers to finish up before we were seated. Rookie mistake!

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I of course ordered a coffee right away as my eyes glazed over considering both the brunch menus.

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Gah! Fish tacos? Savoury french toast? Poached eggs on lentils? ROSEMARY MAYO??

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Roomie Megan went for that last one. More specifically the Old White Cheddar Sandwich: tomato, avocado, lettuce, rosemary mayo, toasted whole wheat raisin bread w/ greens & potatoes.

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Roommie Jocelyn went for the two poached eggs with toast, potatoes and greens.

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Me? After gathering my wits, I decided on the Corn Pancakes with blueberry maple syrup & breakfast sausages.

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Real bits of corn! These were actually very light and not too sweet. Nothing like the dense cornbread I’m used to. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet.

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I did love the combo of corn + blueberries. The maple syrup with cooked blueberries was divine.

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And breakfast sausage!! I love breakfast links. Preferably when smothered in a healthy dose of ketchup.

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I ate the whole darn thing and didn’t even feel that full. Perhaps it speaks to how light the pancakes were. Or maybe it’s just that I’m ready to go pro with brunching ;)

I’m working on a personal Best Of Brunch list and a Best Of Toronto list for next week. But you can always find a list of restaurants visited under the Restaurants tab!

See ya tomorrow with a doc update and some sweet treats ;)

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