Monthly Archives: February 2011

And just like that, my life changed…

Hello everyone! Those of you following me on Facebook or Twitter know that I suffered a pretty bad accident on Friday.

What should have been a fabulous day skating…

Turned into a three-day hospital stay:

That’s me looking attractive post surgery. Greasy hair, oxygen line, pee-bag and all.

Because I’m limited to one hand, the details are coming to you in point form:

  • After a wobbly start on the ice, I managed to skate the full length of the 7km Rideau Canal.
  • Just as I was turning around to skate back at the 7km mark, I lost my balance, falling backwards directly onto my elbow.
  • The second my elbow hit the ice, I knew something was wrong. Well, that and I was immobile with pain and yelling.
  • Two people sitting on a bench just watched me as I crawled off the ice all by myself. I will never forget that.
  • I managed to get my skates off and tie my sneakers with one hand. I walked off the canal to the nearest intersection and called a cab to take me to the hospital. It was in a residential area and I was sick with pain and shock. Waiting was a challenge.
  • Why I thought wearing knee pads and not elbow pads was a good idea I’ll never know…

 

  • My sister Sara rushed to the hospital as soon as I got there (she was at work as it was a Friday afternoon)
  • The original wait wasn’t that bad and I got in for my first x-ray quickly. I was wearing two really nice long sleeve technical shirts that I refused to cut off. A lot of pain and screaming ensued and I was promptly given painkillers.
  • The x-rays revealed a severe fracture and I was told it would have to be operated on. I went for a second round of x-rays, which revealed a severe fracture at my radial head and a piece of my elbow broke off. Thankfully, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in elbows was on call for Saturday, so they admitted me into the hospital Friday night.
  • It was then that they told me I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink until surgery and I was left with an IV diet.
  • I went into surgery around noon on Saturday. My first time ever undergoing anaesthetic, or open surgery for that matter. The drugs kicked in quickly. What was supposed to be a two hour surgery turned into five, and I don’t remember anything until being pushed through a hallway at 5:30.
  • The only scary parts of surgery were waking up with an oxygen mask on and a pee bag inserted. Fun times.
  • They let me eat a meal of broth, apple juice and jello afterward. The effect it had on my energy levels was amazing. They kept me in the hospital again Saturday night. I was in and out of it all night with only one really bad episode of pain.
  • Talked to my surgeon Sunday and got the scoop on my condition and why the surgery took so long. Apparently I smashed a lot of the cartilage off. They had to remove the elbow and try to reassemble the pieces. Surgeon said one of the worst he’s seen. Right now it’s being held together with three screws in hopes that my young healthy cartilage will grow back. If not, I’ll have to get a prosthetic for my radial head.
  • I went 40 hours without solid food. Ugh.
  • I’ve got a cast on for 1-2 weeks. I’ll know more after my follow up appointment 0n Friday here in Ottawa. I’m no longer in hospital and staying here at my sister’s until next weekend at least.
  • Suffice it to say, I won’t be skating again for a while.

  • Thankfully it’s my left elbow and I’m right handed. So I can still eat and type, just slower.
  • I’ll know more after my first follow-up, but it’ll be around three weeks until I can start physiotherapy with flexion/extension of the elbow. Rotation will be several more weeks. And lifting anything with it could take 6 months.
  • Work is obviously on hold for the time being. My number one concern right now is dealing with the pain as my body adjusts to its new metal parts. I don’t have the mental or physical energy to stress about anything else right now.
  • My active lifestyle as I know it is forever changed. And I’m okay with that. I trust the universe knows what its intentions for me are, and I am more than capable of moving on and dealing with the cards I’ve been dealt.
  • If you have any mindless movie recommendations, leave them below.
  • I have a pre-written post scheduled to go up tomorrow. It’s a fun one and couldn’t let current circumstances prevent it from being read.
  • THANK YOU for the tweets, messages, comments and e-mails. I was attached to my cellphone all weekend in the hospital bed and reading them helped my spirits immensely xoxo

 

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Fitness Friday: Something For The Beginner

At this point in my personal training career, I would say the majority of my clients are what I call “beginner exercisers.” I know I post a lot of intermediate workouts on here, but by and large the ones I create for clients are filled with exercises geared towards newbies. Or at least, someone who hasn’t worked out in say… 15-20 years? ;)

I put the call out for Fitness Friday topics this week, and Rhonda fired back with a good one.

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Hi Rhonda, you just described my typical client.

Now, I have to tell you there is a reason why this type of person seeks out personal training if the first place. They’re out of shape, their flexibility is shot, they’ve got an injury, and they’re seriously lacking in the motivation department.

All of the above is best fixed with one-on-one sessions. It allows me to asses your specific needs and build a training plan from there. Because I can’t do that through my blog, I’m going to try to do the next best thing.

The following is a list of exercises that I will typically do for a beginner exerciser in the first session. They’re easy to get in and out of, it works the whole body, and tells me what should be the areas of focus. Plus, they’re all exercises I feel comfortable letting a newb try out on their own as “homework.”

The following is a strength routine you can do 2-3 times a week. On top of this, you should be doing some form of cardio 4-5 days a week for 20-50 minutes. On lifting days, keep the cardio to 20 min, on non-lifting days, make it a little longer. Be sure to allow 48 hours between each strength session to allow for proper muscle repair.

 

Stability Ball Squat
2 sets x 20 reps


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I like this exercise because it automatically puts you in correct squatting form without the use of a machine. It’s supposed to be easier on your knees, but you can always widen your stance to take additional pressure off.

  • Make sure your knees are behind your toes when you lower.
  • Only come down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Push your butt back into the wall.
  • Keep your chest facing the front wall.
  • Push up through your heels.

Lying Hamstring Curl on Ball
2 sets x 12-15 reps


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  • Lay down with your arms at your sides, palms down.
  • Place your ankle on top of a stability ball.
  • Raise your hips so your body is a straight line.
  • Bend your knees into your body using your hamstrings.

Seated Machine Chest Press
2 sets x 12-15 reps. Starting at 10-15 lbs for women, 20-25 lbs for men.


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  • Adjust the seat so the bars are next to your chest – aka the “nipple line”
  • Roll your shoulders back and rest your head against the seat so you’re not tempted to strain your neck.
  • Elbows are slightly below the shoulders.
  • Don’t let your hands come back past your chest, it puts too much weight on your shoulders.

Seated Machine Cable Row
2 sets x 12-15 reps. Starting around 30-40 lbs depending on the machine.


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All machines for this one are slightly different, but the motion and form are always the same.

  • Back is straight, shoulders are back and down away from the ears.
  • Feet resting on pads or edge.
  • Slight bend to knee (but enough room to allow cable to pass)
  • This is a back exercise, so think about pulling the handle in using your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and bring your elbows as far back as you can.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press
2 sets x 10-12 reps. Starting around 8 – 12 lbs.

 


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Preferably done standing, but only if you promise me you won’t arch your back. If you suffer from back problems, try these seated on a bench or chair.

  • Don’t arch your back!
  • Dumbbells come above your head, not in front of your face.
  • Shoulders are down the whole time. Locked back into that perfect posture position.
  • Don’t strain your neck, or push your chin forward.
  • Lack of shoulder mobility is a common problem, meaning this exercise isn’t for everyone. Let me know which ways you can’t move your shoulder and I’ll give you an alternate exercise.

Standing Cable Tricep Pushdown
2 sets x 12-15 reps. Starting around 15-25 lbs.

  • Your forearms are the only part of your body moving in this exercise. It’s a single-joint move, meaning the only joint moving is your elbow. Lock everything else into place. The second you fall out of form, readjust or call the set done!
  • Keep your shoulders back and away from your ears.
  • Bring your forearms up to 90 degrees, and then push them down until your arms are straight.

Dumbbell Bicep Curl
2 sets x 12-15 reps. Starting around 8 – 12 lbs.

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  • Another single-joint exercise, your elbows are also the only ones working here, and your forearms are the only body parts moving.
  • Keep those elbows hugged to your sides like your life depended on it.
  • Keep your shoulders back and away from the ears.
  • Don’t let your spine arch backward.

Prone Cobra
2 sets x 30-60 seconds


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Lay on your stomach, hands down by your side, and lift your chest off the ground. This is an isometric back exercise, so you’re just going to hold that position for as long as you can.

  • Face the floor so as not to strain your neck.
  • Keep your toes on the floor.
  • Always be trying to lift your chest higher and higher with each passing second.

Lying Leg Lifts
2 sets x 10-15 reps.


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I often get people to place their hands under their hips for this one to support their lower back. That will help prevent your back from arching when your abs begin to fail. Start with your legs together, toes facing the ceiling. Lower your legs until you feel that pull in your stomach, then bring your legs back up.

  • Try to keep your legs as straight as possible.
  • Motion doesn’t have to be big. Some people only drop their legs a few inches because that’s all it takes to feel the burn!

Ab Roll-Up
2 sets x 10-15 reps.

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Lay on your back with your legs stretched out in front and your arms stretched out on the floor overhead. Using your abs, pull yourself up, moving your arms towards your toes. Then slooowly roll your spin back on to the floor and repeat.

  • Try to keep from using momentum to get yourself up.
  • Remember to engage your core and not your back.
  • Take it slooow on the way down to get more out of this exercise.

Extra Things To Consider:

When going through these exercises, play close attention to your body.  What moves felt particularly hard? What ones felt easy? If you can barely walk the next day, then maybe it’s time to focus a little more on the legs. Or if your back is sore, then start working on not only back exercises but core strength as well.

Always start with lighter weights than you think necessary to get the form down, then move up to challenging weights that have you close to failure. YouTube is your best friend when it comes time to choose more challenging exercises. But the ones above should hopefully just get you in the weight room door ;)

This workout is not meant to get you sweaty and breathless. It won’t aid that much in weight loss, that’s why it needs to be paired with cardio. BUT it will get your basic strength and mobility back. So you can eventually take on more advanced exercises to get that metabolic fire burning ;)

As for cardio and flexibility for this fitness and age group… That’s another post for another day.

Anyone Can Do Yoga

As most of you know, I am currently participating in a 30 day yoga challenge. It’s hosted by Power of Movement, the word’s largest yoga fundraiser. It will wrap up on February 27 when me and 499 other yogis take to our mats in a “mega session” in Toronto.

I wrote all about the event and why I chose to take part in this post. Money raised will go towards the Arthritis & Autoimmunity Research Centre Foundation. While I am not personally afflicted with arthritis, I know those who are. It’s not just something your grandparents or dog suffer from. One in 1000 kids will get arthritis and there are over 100 different types.

When I heard Andrea had an autoimmune form of arthritis, I asked her to share her story. As a fit 28-year-old, her story shows just how the condition can effect anyone, and how it can change your life.

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In 2008, I started experiencing pain in my hands. It wasn’t from overuse – sometimes I’d just be reading a book and all of a sudden both of my wrists would hurt. Then I noticed that my feet were hurting. After a few months of this, I headed off to my doctor. A diagnosis of arthritis was not what I was expecting.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – I had no idea what it is. Like most people, you hear arthritis and relate this to osteoarthritis (OA) which is the breakdown of the joints due to wear and tear.

So what is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

“Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is one where the body’s immune system becomes confused and begins to ‘attack’ the body. In RA, the joints are the target of the immune attack causing swelling, pain and inflammation in the joints”

(from the Arthritis Society)

Most cases of RA occur in women and usually effects people between the ages of 20 and 60. I was 28 when I was first diagnosed.

Some of the symptoms of RA include:

  • Joint pain in more than one area – for me, it started with my hands and feet, than moved into my knees and neck.
  • Fatigue – We have a couch in our break room at work. That couch and I are good friends. I’d have a nap every day on my lunch hour.
  • Morning stiffness that may last for hours – getting out of bed is a nightmare. You can’t flip over because your knees, hands and neck are stiff. Once you get out, you can barely walk since your feet and knees are stiff. Forget about opening your shampoo body in the shower. I’d hobble off to work and would be hopefully loosened up by the time I got there, 3 hours after getting up.

Up until my arthritis symptoms started, I was very active. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life and exercise helped keep me at a healthy weight. However with pain in my hands, feet and knees, I had to stop everything. I gave up my cardio classes because bouncing around hurt my feet. I stopped running because it was too hard on my knees. I stopped practicing yoga because you can’t hold a downward facing dog when your hands hurt too much to support yourself.

Thankfully, RA can be controlled with medication. Its different for everyone, but I take 6 big pills a day and a weekly injection to reduce inflammation and slow any damage to joints. My Rheumatologist got me started very early with my medication and thankfully, I don’t have any permanent joint damage. For many people, RA results in irreversible damage to their joints and potentially long term disability.

Two and a half years from my initial diagnosis, I’m pain free about 99% percent of the time. I have the occasional “flare up” where every joint hurts and I’m exhausted and all I can do is stay home in bed. I’m often sick to my stomach from my medications. I see my rheumatologist every 3 months, get monthly blood tests to ensure that my medication isn’t causing any problems with my liver and kidneys, have x rays taken once a year to monitor any joint damage. But I can run, kick box and be active again. I’m much better off than a lot of people with RA and for that, I’m grateful.

There’s currently no cure for RA. My plan is to keep taking my medication, supporting organizations that fund research for all forms of arthritis and to keep active for as long as I can. Every time I run, finish a Turbo Fire video or hold a downward dog without pain is a small victory for me over my arthritis.

Andrea%20Salin

Thank you for taking the time to share your story Andrea!! Is that not the nicest race photo you’ve ever seen?

If you’d like to pitch in for the cause, click here to go to my fundraising page. Even $5 will help!

I love yoga. I love what it does for my mind and body. And I would love it if everyone and anyone could do it.

P.S. That’s the bar I celebrated my birthday in ;)