Tuesday, February 22, 2011


So, it's been a while. Bet you guys were wondering if I was slacking off workout-wise!
Truth is, I was exercising less, but for good reasons that have nothing to do with being 'too busy' or 'too tired' or even letting Zuz and Freddy's 'brutus' win in my conversations with myself about my workouts. (first mentioned here as that voice in your head: http://www.bodyrock.tv/2010/12/21/exercise-challenge-drowning-in-your-own-sweat/). In fact the reason that I haven't been working out as much has been due to a DIFFERENT type of self- sabotage - making the subject of all kinds of self-sabotage my next topic!

First off there are the 'standard' methods of exercise self-sabotage that everyone falls victim to. Did any of the ones I mentioned earlier sound familiar? If you're a morning exerciser you've probably had lots of those days where you say "I'm too tired to workout, so I'm going to ignore my alarm and sleep for another half-hour." I myself am TOTALLY guilty of this and I'm a morning person! Then there are those of you who try to fit the workout in after work and before you start dinner, but a lot of you have families and other responsibilities that you let take precedence over your fitness and health. Or you get home from work and say "ugh, that was the worst day at work - I just want to veg out in front of the TV and try to forget it." Yep, I'm one of these too. Notice I've said "too". Even those of us who love exercising easily let these opportunities to self-sabotage take over sometimes. Then there's 'Brutus.' You know about him, right? Maybe not by that name - he's that voice in your head saying things like "you've worked out 3 times this week, you deserve a break" or "yeah, I know you should be pushing harder here, but you've had a long day and you're really just goofing off right now." He may be in your head saying "Laundry, dishes, cleaning the bathroom, dusting... you've been doing this all week, there's no reason for you to get off the computer/off the couch and do a workout/go for a walk." Usually Self-Sabotage of any form has a cycle. Here is an (unrelated) example of what one might look like:

imagine all of my 'cycles i write about looking like this.

The next kind of self-sabotage is found in your diet and boy am I ever guilty. Remember that you're only human, so giving in to temptation is only natural - sometimes. If you're only giving in once a day to once a week you are in GOOD shape as far as i'm concerned (I just gave in and ate a cinnamon roll, just as an example that I'm as human as all the rest of you! ;-P ) However, if you're 'giving in' and drinking soda and eating tons of junk, you're really sabotaging not only your fitness and 'aesthetic' goals regarding your body, but you're also compromising your health! So try and monitor how often you give in to those "I'm not hungry, but I want something (insert - sweet, salty, fatty, crispy, crunchy - here)" Giving in frequently is a downward spiral that you want to try and stop. Especially if you're an emotional eater like I am because the spiral starts looking something like this: have a hard day - crave something 'bad' - eating it - feeling guilty - crave something else 'bad' - feeling guilty... you see where this is going! Some of my healthiest behavior to stop this spiral has been to stop and ask what's really going on and then do a little mild yoga or meditate or go on a nice walk - all activities that encourage you to think through your issues and help 'fix' that behavior.

how often have any of these tempted you?
RESIST the temptation of this picture! You don't need any of this food!

The third type of self-sabotage is sneaky. REALLY sneaky. This is one that catches me regularly and is why I am always telling you to really listen to your body and what it's 'saying.' This type of self-sabotage manifests in the moment you've gotten into really good exercise habits and (for most people) you get an injury. For me, it's most common in the form of illness. I'm one of those 'blessed' (note I put this in quotes, because i'm really not sure how much of a blessing this really is) people with a really fast metabolism. The kind that, when over-revved, starts to make my body as a whole stop working quite right. Usually it compromises my immune system so that I get sick ALL THE TIME. I like the feeling of exercise and fitness and will fall into the trap of not listening to what my body is telling me. Like 'you really shouldn't work out today, I'm too busy cleaning up after your last workout.' A couple blog entries again I mentioned noticing this and switching almost exclusively to walking and yoga. You know what happened? I stopped getting sick. I was healthy for an entire 4 months. WHOAH!!! So, after realizing that I was getting back into the cycle that totally compromised my immune system, I'm stepping back to working out no more than every other day. I'm trying to incorporate more walking and slightly less high intensity workout, because you all know what happens when you get sick - you can't workout and after being sick for a while you start losing fitness. In my case it's another cycle I fall into: Workout hard and frequently - get sick - lose fitness - get well and start working out hard to try and get back to previous fitness level - get sick - lose fitness. Can anyone see the cycle (another self-sabotage cycle) that keeps showing up?

should i workout today?

Now, I realize this isn't a problem that many people face. But it IS similar to sabotaging yourself when you workout with an injury. How many of you have injured yourself just badly that you're definitely injured, but not so badly that you 'have' to stop working out? And what happens when you don't stop your fitness routine? The injury never really heals, does it? So just like when you get sick, it's necessary to take a break. Re-evaluate. Let yourself heal and learn from how you injured yourself. Never EVER perpetuate the problem by continuing to use the injured part in the way that you first injured it. Or any way that bothers it in any small way, shape, or form.
Remember my mantra: "Listen to your body and what it's really saying." Pay attention to all the little parts as well as the big and make sure you're looking for any self-sabotaging cycles. It could save you in SO many ways!

In other news, I've been picking up a lot of books lately about fitness and health, etc. Right now I'm reading one by Dr. Lisa Callahan called The Fitness Factor. I'll let you guys know what I learn!
The Fitness Factor: Every Woman's Key to a Lifetime of Health and Well-Being

Thanks for reading, all of you! I know this one was a long one. Have a great day and keep healthy!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Exercising with old or new injuries

There are many people out there with old injuries, including me. In fact, I was asked about working out with joint pain and old injuries. This is a fun question for me, because, like so many of the other things I've written about, it applies to me too! I am frequently known as the walking disaster. I've had two knee injuries (thankfully fairly minor), sprained both ankles multiple times (each one i've gotten fairly minor sprains and one major for each), broken my wrist and had surgery on it later, and sustained some muscle/tissue damage to my lower back/right hip. Just like anything else, when you're working with an injury or old injuries, listen to your body. If it's a new injury, make sure you talk to your doctor before you start working out again. Ask when you can start working out again, what kinds of exercises you can do, what the intensity level should be, and what kinds of repercussions to expect from your body as you get back into it.
So... ouches are not fun

Luckily, there are many exercises that you can do while dealing with ouches and many more that you can modify to work for you. Ultimately, if you don't have much workout experience, you should ask a pro, however, there are many of you out there who don't have that luxury. What I like to do is start with common sense and then modify the moves as my body requires when i'm dealing with one of these setbacks. For example, once I could put weight on my ankle again after my sprain in September (more than 2 weeks later!!!) I started working out again. I took a lot more care with most of my workout moves. I found that I could handle stepping moves (no jumping for me, thanks!) like side lunges where I stepped from one side to the other. When I started doing pushups again I started on my knees; not because my arms and chest couldn't handle the weight, but because my ankle couldn't handle that pressure. I was still able to do reclining ab workouts (like crunches, bicycles, v-ups, etc), so I incorporated those in my workouts a lot.

So i'll cover a couple common injuries and a couple of the exercises you should be able to still do:

Ankle sprains:
obviously, i've touched on this a bit already, but here are some moves that you can still manage.
  • Pushups on your knees to avoid extra pressure on the ankle
  • tricep dips if your legs (shins/knees) are resting on a chair, make sure that your weight isn't on your ankle
  • bicycles (the ab exercise where you are on your back, alternating knees and twisting your opposite shoulder to knee)
  • v-ups (you start lying extended on your back, and pull your knees up to your chest as you pull your chest up to your knees. you should end up in a V shape balanced on your bum.)
  • Mule kicks where you start from your hands and knees and push your leg up behind you like a mule kicking over a bucket.
    Mule Kicks
    Uploaded by dailyfitnessblog. - Basketball, baseball, pro wrestling and more sports videos.
  • dirty dogs starting from that same hands and knees position you're going to raise your knee to the side:
  • crunches self explanatory
  • Pilates floor exercises: there are lots of these that you can do:
*roll ups
*arm circles
*cervical nod and curl
*knee folds
*the bug
*the hundred - beginner or advanced, this one will make your abs BURN
*single leg circles
*forward spine stretch
*rolling like a ball
*single leg stretch
*double leg stretch
*straight-leg single-leg stretch
*straight-leg double-leg stretch
*criss cross (basically like a bicycle)
*the saw
*roll over

once you can bear weight again, and really pay attention to your body on these:
  • squats (you can do knee lift/twists too)
  • stepping side lunges
  • pushups on your toes
  • reptiles
  • walking mountain climbers
  • plank knee tucks

ok, you get the point. There are LOTS of exercises you can still do!

wrist injury:
some of these are obvious. you can still do a lot of those standing exercises; squats, lunges, (if your balance is good you can still do high knees and jumping things). you still have the ability to do those reclining exercises like bicycles and crunches, jumping jacks, and walking too!
  • take your plank pose stuff and turn it into elbow plank (if your arm is ok with that)
  • grab a light weight for the other arm. you can do bicep curls, tricep presses, rows, etc.
knee pain:
this is the worst one to work with. Here you're going to have to be REALLY creative because your knee is so integral. If you have a knee INJURY, it's best to let it heal first and foremost.
the best thing to do for your knee is pay attention to it. warm up well before EVERY workout. Cool down well. Pay attention to all of the little twinges and modify. Side lunges can be surprisingly easy on the knees, but PAY ATTENTION, it it makes any 'noises' at you, don't ignore it. change exercises. Squats halfway down, but the same mantra applies; Pay Attention to what your body is saying to you. Walking is a great way to get some cardio in with less pressure on your knees.
You can do a lot of reclining exercises. Refer back to the pilates and ab exercises that are listed above for some lower pressure knee exercises that you can always do. Pilates floorwork is a GREAT way to get some strengthening work with minimal pressure on the knee. Just make sure you always pay attention to those 'little twinges' and learn to recognize if it's a dangerous twinge or a minor one. Definitely talk to your doctor about any concerns at ANY point.

the last thing i'm going to talk about regarding exercise:
Iliotibial "IT" Band:
I injured this earlier this year and it can be a really uncomfortable injury. It can manifest in your hip or knee, or anywhere in between the two. Mine was particularly painful in the hip. This is what your IT band looks like/where it is:

first you have to let the band heal. ice and ibuprophen help lessen the swelling and the pain. I hurt my IT band doing curtsy squats with incorrect balance and posture. I put the weight on my leg incorrectly and paid for it. SO be careful with balancing/weight bearing exercises.
When dealing this kind of pain, take it easy, balance your weight carefully, and make sure you are paying attention to those little twinges again!

hope this helps! :)