Working on Your Fitness Fuel

Hello eaters!

Once again, it’s Tuesday, but all day I’ve been thinking it’s Wednesday. It’s driving me crazy!

Anywhoo, how are you doing? Anything new and exciting going on in your life?

Yeah, not too much new here either. Unless, of course, you count the new knowledge I’ve gained and am about to throw at you.

Ooh, aren’t I just the queen of forced, but effective transitions?!

Alright, today’s topic of discussion is fueling for your workout.

This is something I rarely thought about until it became an issue for me, so I can only assume other people are in the same boat.

So let’s get started.

Pre-workout fuel

I don’t tend to eat immediately before a workout because I get crampy pretty easily. But I do drink.

  • Before cardio-only workouts I drink coffee.

There have been numerous studies and reports that recommend ingesting caffeine right before a workout because it helps relax airways and reduce the perception of pain.

  • Before a strength workout I drink protein.

When you’re strength training you are breaking down your muscles so that they can be built back up bigger and stronger. But in order to make sure that your muscles are growing rather then repairing themselves with protein from other muscles, you need to put some protein in your body before you even step into the weight room.

I drink a half serving of protein (which should be between 10-12g) about half an hour before.

Add hot water and it's just like Swiss Miss.

In the past I have used chocolate flavored Lifetime Plant Protein Blend and mixed it into a grande unsweetend iced coffee. The caffeine from the ice coffee was beneficial, but it’s real purpose for me was to mask the unpleasant flavor of the protein powder.

Recently, I switched to GNC’s chocolate flavored Pro Performance Amp. While originally I thought the whey wouldn’t agree with my stomach, I haven’t had a single problem. AND it tastes great with just water so I don’t necessarily need to spend $2 on iced coffee.

Post-workout fuel.

This is possibly more important than what you ingest before your workout because you need to repair the muscles that you worked. Not repairing your muscles almost defeats the purpose.

  • Immediately after a strength workout I drink half a protein drink, sometimes with caffeine.

I bring the other half of my protein drink to the gym with me and drink it as I’m walking out. That’s what I mean by immediately.

  • Within 15-20 minutes of ending a strength workout I eat a carb-heavy snack.

There’s a lot of research that gives a lot of ratios of protein to carbs and then simple to complex carbs. I’m not much for math, so knowing that for your body to recover optimally you need both simple and complex carbs (my protein is already covered), I experimented.

Brownies count as carbs, right?

It took a few tries of different kinds of carbs.

And a few too many days of my body feeling like lead.

Dried apple rings for the win?

Eventually, though, I found two snacks that work.

Genesis bread and jelly, or Halo bars.

Both provide simple, quickly digestible carbs (sugars in the form of fruit and brown rice syrup, respectively) and complex carbs (grains in the form of barley, wheat bran, spelt, etc. and oats and flour, respectively).

In reality, though, toast with jelly is going to be my go to snack, because I’m not made of money…honey.

  • Within an hour of ending any kind of workout I eat something.

Generally I avoid dairy (because it’s hard to digest) and focus a bit more on carbs, but still aim for a balanced meal.

I’ve been following this complete plan for a few weeks now and am happy to report that I no longer feel full body exhaustion after a strenuous workout. I feel like I worked, but not like I need an afternoon to recover from every workout.

That makes working out easier to fit into my life, and more enjoyable because I know I get a snack right after.

I’ll do pretty much anything for a snack.

What about you:

Do you pay attention to fueling for or from your workouts?

What’s your go to fuel?

G’night eaters!

Disclaimer: I am not a registered or certified anything. This is what I’ve learned from research and personal experience. This is meant to be a guide/nudge in the right direction, but in no way a one size fits all plan.

PS-Today I’m thankful for m’lovely lady Janet, who always pushes me to up my energy in Zumba. Class wouldn’t be nearly as exciting without her (and her tata shaking).

Good News Only

Hiya eaters!

How in the heck is it already November?

I’m in denial. So in the spirit of denial, let’s talk about yesterday when two great things happened.

First, it was Halloween.

I have known what I was going to be for Halloween since last year. I started assembling my costume on St. Patrick’s Day.

Yes, I am intense about costumes.

So finally, after a year of working and waiting I debuted as…

Broccoli!

Apparently Chipotle was on the same produce-loving page as me because last night if you came dressed as something farm-related you got an entrée for $2.

The Chipotle employees (burrito artists?) were pretty lenient with what they considered farm-related. Ninja turtles became farm turtles. Flintstones became pumpkins.

One scoop of rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, all the salsas, guacamole, and lettuce.

But that didn’t affect the awesomeness of my burrito bowl one single bit.

See that giant mound? It's all guacamole.

And once my belly was fully of cilanto-line rice and orgasmically creamy guacamole, I headed off to my friend’s Halloween party.

There were slutty freshman. There were a few freshman. And there was a giraffe and an ostrich racer.

It was a hoot and a half.

But before I donned my broccoli suit, I had an appointment with my orthopedist.

This appointment was one that I was crazy excited for. Because I was pretty sure I would be graduating from PT.

After he read my PT progress report, felt me bend and straighten my knee a couple of times, compared the size of both my quads, and evaluated my pain using a super sophisticated pain assessment system (“On a scale of 1 to 10…”), he said I was clear to stop formal PT and continue the exercises on my own at home.

I was ecstatic!

I got even more ecstatic when he granted my other wish:

A prescription for a gym membership.

I don’t know if my insurance will actually honor this prescription, but it’s a shot. And the more active I am (to a degree and in certain ways) the better my knee feels. And a (free) gym membership would make that considerably easier.

And then my doctor told me I should spend my co-pay money on something fun, like a night out or good beer.

Yes, my doctor suggested I go buy beer instead of going to PT.

He’s pretty awesome. And so is this news!

I’m really thrilled to death about graduating, and not just because I get the roughly three hours and $40 a week that I was spending on PT appointments back.

I’m thrilled because it means I’m improving. Because it means that a problem, hopefully the problem, has been identified. And because with that knowledge I can continue to improve.

I’m not cured. My not good knee isn’t suddenly good. I’m not able to go brace-less for workouts. But I’m getting there.

And that’s still pretty damn exciting to me.

What about you:

Have you gotten any really good news lately?

Or are you expecting any soon?

I surely hope you are.

G’night eaters!

PT, the Beginning

Hello eaters!

I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with less than regular eating habits. I rather like it that way, though.

Okay, so I briefly mentioned yesterday that I’m in physical therapy. Today was my second session so I figure it’s high time that I fill you all in.

I mean, you’ve been listening to the saga of my not good knee for so long that I can’t leave you hanging, right?

Right!

I had an appointment with my orthopedist last Thursday. While it certainly wasn’t the best date I’ve been on, I did get what I wanted — a prescription for PT!

My first appointment was bright and early Tuesday morning. My physical therapist spent a good bit of time poking and lifting and looking, to get a feel for how things are held together.

The verdict: they’re not held together very well.

It didn’t take long for her to realize that my abductors are really strong while my adductors are really weak. My IT band is also really tight.

All of this means that in addition to everything else that’s misaligned in my legs, my firm outer thigh and weak inner thigh are pulling my kneecap to the outside.

I knew that my adductors were on the weak side, but I had no idea 1) just how much like limp noodle they were, and 2) how much that affected everything else. So between Tuesday and Thursday I got put through a host of evaluations and given a handful of moves to do at home.

For example…

Keep the knee as straight as possible.

A straight leg lift. Normally this move works your quad, but when you turn your foot out about 45 degrees it gets more of your adductor.

This one looks petty unattractive from behind.

Cross body leg lift. I used to do this pretty regularly, but the more hardcore and heart pounding my workouts became the less I wanted to do things on the floor. Now I’m really regretting that.

Partial wall sit with a ball. For this one I have to squeeze a ball between my knees and hold a wall sit for 15 seconds, and repeat 5 times. I used to be able to do wall sits for days, but once I added in the ball (thus activating my adductors) I was done.

Low lunges. I have to hold a low lunge for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times. This is to stretch out my overly tight quads. Yeah…they’re pretty bad.

These are just a few of the moves I have to do. I won’t bore you with all of them (there’s about a half dozen), but I will say that all of them make it painfully clear just how bad off my knee got.

The thing I’m most shocked about is how reluctant I’ve become to straighten my knee.

It hurt a lot. And something else that hurt a lot — the fact that I’ll be going twice a week for the next two weeks with the goal of being about to sit cross-legged on the flour and to sit comfortably through a 75 minute class.

Yeah, it’s a lot of work for something so thoughtless for most other people. When my physical therapist decided that these were reasonable goals on the first day I was more than a little sad. Disheartened. Bummed the fuck out.

You get the idea.

But at this point I’m so disheartened in general that I can take a little more as long as there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I will stick with my at-home exercises. And eventually, Ashley and I will be reunited. I’m already planning a new route for our first ride.

But in the mean time, got any words of encouragement you want to pass along? I’d greatly appreciate it, eaters.

G’night eaters!

Guest Post: Laura

Hi eaters! (as Ms. Kara would say).

While she is away having tons of fun with the one who is manly, I am very happy to be filling in today and sharing with all of you Food Baby Blog readers.

Isn't she pretty?

I’m Laura from Scribbles and Sass – where I share my adventures, life, fitness, and dating mishaps. I’d call them tips, but most should probably be avoided. Don’t try these at home.

I’m sorry to say there will be no recipes shared today from me. I’m not a food blogger as much as I attempt sometimes (if you want a kickass GF vegan pancake recipe click here).

After reading about Kara’s diagnosis, I was reminded about my journey for answers and rehab after a bad ankle injury last year.

I was on stage dancing, my ultimate passion, when a fellow performer knocked into me by accident and down I went. Full of adrenaline and a little rage I got up and continued (for two hours) thinking it was just a bad twist. After the show was done, I removed my tights and my ankle exploded. A balloon, right there between my calf and my foot. It resembled nothing with bone structure, but a grapefruit.

I passed up the Emergency room for sleep; it had been a long day and I was convinced with some elevation and Advil the balloon would pop. Sadly, when I woke up the next day, the only thing deflated was my optimism. My first stop was to get crutches, my second was the hospital for x-rays. “Too swollen to see much,” one tech said to me, “but I’m sure it’s not broken.” After a doctor suggested physio and acupuncture as my next step I was quick to find my healer. ..and a good brace.

Many hours of my day looked like this:

Which is really unfortunate when all you want to do is run. I was in a really good place with my fitness, I loved being back on the stage performing, and yoga and running were my yin and yang. What was I to do now? Nothing. Even walking was a chore most of the time. After about two weeks I hobbled with appreciation that I was back on two feet. My downfall was acting like nothing happened. Went to the cottage thinking I’d be able to run down the dock or get into the boat with ease. What a mistake – I realized I needed to commit time to my recovery.

And so it came, my diagnosis day: chipped cartilage, a ligament tear, a compressed bursa.

Like Kara, I also immersed myself in research. I wanted to know everything about my injury and how I could go about fixing it.

There were diagrams.

And lots of photos of recovery.

With acupuncture, physio and rehab in my life on a daily basis the ankle was coming along strong. My fitness, on the other hand, was not. I still couldn’t run since the pain was so intense. Yoga just didn’t spark the same fire in me. I had to try something new, something fun that would take me over heart and soul again.

I tried Zumba since it incorporated fun Latin music, dance and getting sweaty.

I get to take a Zumba class this fall for credit.

Source

I tried Jukari, because who doesn’t dream of running away to join the circus?

Holy amazing!

Source

I tried BodyPump, and BodyStep, and BodyFlow, and every other “Body” class my gym offered.

The "Bodies" are pretty intense classes.

Source

After a while I didn’t need to consciously try anything, because I just started to DO.

Injuries are really sucky things. I still feel pain in my ankle daily, and sharp stabbing, blinding pains weekly. I still can’t really run.

I can have fun with my fitness though, and that is the best part!

 

———————-

Isn’t Laura freaking amazing?! I sure think so.

And I lovelovelove how committed to not only exercising, but to finding an exercise that she loved. 

Anywhoo, I’ll try to get at you tomorrow, eaters, with a post from Vermont, but I’m not sure if manly friend’s “camp” has internet, so no promises.

Later eaters!

Another Diagnosis, Another Day With Cain

Hi eaters!

How are you today on this hot Monday? I almost forgot what day it was because for once I really and truly am on break! The only reason I need to know the time and day is so I can go to a Cain class. Speaking of Cain…

He made me wait until his shirt dried before I took this picture.

I had a personal training session with him on Saturday because I knew that he was the man to help me get my ass back in shape. (Literally! It has started looking a little too much like a bag of Jell-o. But really, any slight resemblance with a bag of Jell-o is too much.) And I knew it was high time to get back to working it like I like to because…

I got a diagnosis!

I never mentioned it because I wanted to do some research on everything (which I’ve become increasingly good at) before giving you the goods. So…drum roll please…I have…

A softening of the cartilage behind the patella, which my doc called chondromalacia.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

No, it really shouldn’t. It’ll sound like even less fun once you know more about it.

The gist of it is that it’s a degeneration of the cartilage from a misaligned kneecap. Oh and it’s a precursor to (osteo*)arthritis.

Yup, loads of fun!

When I first found out exactly what all this meant, I cried. A lot. The idea that because of simple luck of the genetic draw I am going to have pain all my life was more than I could really handle.

So I gave myself some time to be sad, but then I realized something — it’s out of my hands.

Yes, I can do specific stretches and exercises, but I really can’t control the fact that my knee is misaligned. And I can’t keep the cartilage from degenerating. So in reality, as bad or unhealthy or extremist as this may sound, that kind of means I’m free. My knee will always hurt (on and off and with different degrees of severity). My cartilage will continue to break down.

So from here on out, I’ll do what I can to lessen it’s affect on my life, but I also know that what I do as far as exercising and the rest of my life is only limited by my ability to handle the discomfort.

Do I sound crazy?

Probably. But I’m crazy about exercising. I love pushing myself up and over a hill on Ashley (my bike). I love kettlebell swings (which include squats) and side lunges and regular lunges. I love all that stuff. And I love it enough to deal with a little (hopefully not a lot) of discomfort to do them.

So with that mindset firmly intact, I went to Cain.

And he showed me some great, gentle(ish) lower body exercises.

Cain takes too long to take a picture. So I stopped working out.

And he made fun of me. But it was oh so worth it! (And not just because I got to oogle and giggle for an hour.) So the three biggest things I learned from Cain:

1) Straight leg quad raises are great!http://www.workout-x.com/videos/multishot/rle113-1_fallback.jpg

This targets the lower part of the quad, which is so rarely worked. And it’s so much harder than it looks.

2) One-leg elevated squats are also great! I don’t have a good picture of this one, but it’s a wide leg squat (the wider you stand the more you target the glutes, according to an Italian study sited in the most recent Muscle & Fitness Her’s magazine) where you put one leg on a step, squat, and then switch legs.

I'm squatting so fast. So fast.

Not only do I feel like this squat gets even more up in there than a regular squat, but it’s also a lot more gentle on the knees.

3) Doing arm exercises one arm at a time makes your muscles work harder. So instead of doing back flies or butterflies or dumbbell chest presses with both arms at the same time, you should alternate arms. Trust me, not letting the muscles work off of each other makes it noticeable harder.

So that’s where I am right now, eaters. Sure, I still get (more than a little) down when I think about everything my diagnosis means. But I’m trying to be more optimistic in general, so here’s a good place to start. And if I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned just how lucky I am that the rest of me works.

And if you learn nothing from this (besides a couple of workout tips), learn not to take your health and fully functioning bodies for granted. And maybe even help me learn —

How do you stay positive about things? How do you deal with an injury? Am I extra crazy for wanting to keep working out like I had?

G’night eaters!

*I can’t definitely say that it will develop into osteoarthritis, but based on my research it seems (sadly) likely.

Dichotomous Day, 2

*This was written last night, but WordPress doesn’t like me or my pictures…yet.*

Hello eaters!

It’s Tuesday, but I keep thinking it’s Wednesday. But whatever day it is, it’s been a hell of one, so let’s skip the small talk and jump right in to…

Part 1: What’s up, Doc?

This morning I had a date with my second doctor in three days. You’d think I’d be close to scoring a huge rock and a prenup-free marriage by now, but alas, I am not. I am closer to finding out what the hell is wrong with my knee, though, so I’m happy.

First, there was the obligatory “please wait for the doctor in this cold room while you sit on this crunchy butcher paper.

Not good knee.

Then a trainer came in and took some notes. Then she told me they couldn’t find ANY of my x-rays and that they would have to do new ones. I thought they should do new x-rays anyway, because my symptoms are completely different and the x-rays are a few months old. After my x-rays there was the usual staring contest with the door until the doc came in.

And when he did…oh boy oh berto, eaters! He bent and poked me like the other doctor, but he was much gentler. And after he was done, he stayed and talked for a while.

Sounds pretty dreamy, right?

Oh eaters, it gets better!

He listened to what I had to say. He agreed that the other doctor was a cad (by which I mean that he was wrong and that I almost definitely don’t have tendonitis). And he listened when I said that the pills the other doctor gave me did nothing for the pain.

Better than flowers, if you ask me.

So I came away from this date with a nice little present. AND a second date on Thursday, by which I mean an appointment for an MRI on my knee.

This doctor loves second dates MRIs. And hopefully this will clear everything up and I’ll come away a happily married diagnosed ‘Baby!

With all of that squared away for the day, let’s move on to…

Part 2: Marinate and Massage

Mmm, salads. While I’m more than certain I haven’t been getting my daily 3-5 servings of vegetables a day lately, I do still adore salads. Specifically, I adore massaged kale salads. With dino kale. And yummy toppings, like marinated mushrooms. So that’s where I’ll start.

Mmmarinated Mushrooms

1 qt baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 T brown rice vinegar

1 T soy sauce/tamari

1 T oil (I used Mongolian fire oil)

sriracha, to taste

Note — I say thickly sliced because while the mushrooms do absorb tons of the liquid, they do also shrink and there’s nothing worse than starting off with thinly sliced mushrooms and ending up with nothing more than mushy mushroom essence on your salad. Unless you like that.

Is there anything prettier than sliced mushrooms?

Once the mushrooms are sliced, add everything to a Tupperware, toss and refrigerate. The longer you let them sit the better.

I think these sat about two days.

And today, I simply massaged up some of my beloved dino kale in a bit of olive oil, salt and spicy mustard, tossed on some green bell pepper and edemame, and volia!

Love.

I really wanted the mushrooms to do the talking here. And talk they did.

Beautiful.

Tender and tangy, these mushrooms really held their ground against everything else.

This salad was a winner, despite the fact that I didn’t have my usual salad fork.

And with that, eaters, I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day and I’m ready for a hot date with my frozen peas and some bad TV.

G’night eaters.

Dating Doctors

G’evening eaters!

How are you? Are you wonderful? Were you productive today? Did you embrace the start of a new week?

If you said yes to any or all of those questions, you’re lucky. And I’m happy for you.

Now, m’dear lucky eaters, it’s time for me to whine a little. I hope you don’t mind.

If you follow me on the old Twatter you make have heard of my recent knee troubles. If you have been eating here for a while you know of my not good knees. If neither of those apply to you, here’s the rundown:

My legs are like someone put all the missing puzzle pieces you find under the couch together and called them done. Sometimes the puzzle pieces behave well enough. Sometimes the puzzles pieces try to fall apart. Right now, my right knee is rebelling against my desire to walk and squat and lunge and cycle.

This rebellion started the week between the wedding and Virginia Beach. (Yes, this summer I’m marking time by beaches. I’m a very lucky ‘Baby.) At first, it felt like a few too many walking lunges. Then after a spin on Ashley I felt some inflammation, similar to when my plica is aggravated. But by the time I came home from the third beach I had a full on limp. There was pain. Numbness. Burning.

I, being the stupid stubborn ‘Baby that I am, didn’t stop exercising or walking lots until Friday. Or Saturday. Whichever didn’t come first.

In my defense, on Friday I did try to get an appointment with my awesome sports medicine doctor, but unfortunately he’s booking into August. But yesterday I finally got fed up enough and went to the orthopedic urgent care. I saw a doctor. He poked and bent me. And five minutes later he left.

Sounds like a bad date, right?

It kind of was. And out of this bad date I got a prescription for anti-inflammatories and a diagnosis: inflamed plica and tendonitis in my quadricep tendon and patella tendon.

At first, I did what every girl does after a bad date — I had a little pity party, which included…

Frozen peas,

Sun Chips and animal crackers.

Comfort food,

Knitting and Red Box.

And old lady activities.

But then I decided to pick my still perky (not yet old lady) ass up off the couch and take my not good knee by the horns. And even though I never went to medical school, I do know a thing or two about how to Google. And about how to tell which part of my body hurts and what kind of pain it is and how often this pain occurs.

So here’s the thing about this diagnosis: I feel like I got the wrong phone number after the bad date.

Because frankly, the pain and other symptoms I’m feeling don’t really align with tendonitis. I think it aligns more with tendinopathy. Or iliotial band friction syndrome.

So now I have an appointment with my regular orthopedist tomorrow morning. And while in the past he hasn’t been the greatest date either, I’m hoping that if I go in there tomorrow and take charge I’ll come away feeling pretty damn satisfied. By which I mean, I’ll have an accurate diagnosis and course of treatment. I’m not actually going to date or screw my doctor.

He’s old. That’s creepy.

Anyway eaters, that’s where things stand right now. I’m optimistic about the appointment. I’m optimistic about the possible causes of pain I’ve identified. And I’m optimistic that I’ll be back to “beast mode”-ing it in the gym and on Ashley pretty darn soon.

And tomorrow, hopefully I’ll find out if all of my optimism is justified. Until then eaters, thanks for listening to me whine…

And g’night!