Posted in Health, Wellness

Renewal

I recently turned 40. A momentous occasion (allegedly).

What did I do to commemorate this milestone birthday?

Well, for one thing, I renewed my driver’s license. I know how to party, right? 

Standing in line at the BMV hardly seems to warrant a blog post. Pretty boring stuff.

Sure, today standing in line at the BMV is just another mundane adult task that requires minimal effort.

But a few years ago? Different story…

The year was 2014. February 19, 2014, to be exact. At this point I had never heard of Ludus Magnus or Matt Wenning.

Continue reading “Renewal”

Posted in Health, Wellness

Painful Assets (Part 1)

My trainer, Matt Wenning, has a new book coming out soon, and he recently gave me a copy of the manuscript to proofread. Sorry, no spoilers today! I will say that in addition to a treasure trove of technical information, he includes a detailed biography that goes all the way back to his childhood and discusses his challenges, talents, habits, etc., and how it laid the groundwork for who he is today.

I’ve been pretty open in this blog about my life-long struggle with food, weight, and body image, and that it has roots deep in my childhood. But Matt’s writing got me thinking about other aspects of my early life in addition to food, and how those issues that started when I was so young all contributed to the situation I found myself in as an adult.

For the sake of brevity I want to tackle this subject in two posts (I originally wrote it as one, but it was entirely too long!). Today’s post is mostly background about what my physical and emotional life was like as a kid, and how several factors came together to mold a body and mind that regarded physical activity as uncomfortable and punitive.

My next post will be about how I use the pain of the past to help others today. I will offer some observations and suggestions based on my experience that I hope can help adults struggling with these issues, as well as parents who have children exhibiting some of the same problems that I had.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

The year was 1987. I’m nine years old, in my third year of dance classes with the annual recital coming up. In addition to my usual tap and jazz routines, my teacher put me in a big group number set to Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

The routine opens with the girls coming on stage one at a time doing a move where they clap their hands above their head, and then drop down into a deep squat and clap their hands again. Over and over several times until all the girls are on stage.

There’s just one problem. Continue reading “Painful Assets (Part 1)”

Posted in exercise, Health, Weight Loss

Walking on the Moon

Great Dane. Baby hippo. Hellfire missile. Small person. Large child. 55-pound squat bar with two 25-lb plates.

What do these random items have in common? They all weigh over 100 pounds.

The same amount of weight I have lost over the past three years. 104 pounds, to be exact.

Hitting this astounding milestone coincides with my three-year anniversary of walking into Ludus Magnus and training with Matt Wenning.

Was losing 100 pounds my goal when I walked through that door?

Hell. No.

Continue reading “Walking on the Moon”

Posted in Health, Lifestyle change, Travel

A 20 Minute Hike that Took 3 Years

I’m not great at selfies.

For my “featured” photo on a blog post, I try to use a reasonably polished-looking picture. And I usually have someone else take that picture for me. As my friend Suzanne will tell you, it’s not just selfies. Photography in general is not my strong suit.

But today, I am proudly broadcasting this selfie over the interwebs for the world to see (okay, maybe just the awesome cluster of people who read this blog, but still…). Behind this selfie is a three-year journey of sweat, strength, and self-discovery.

Continue reading “A 20 Minute Hike that Took 3 Years”

Posted in Health, Lifestyle change

Bricks Over Spoons

It’s been a month since my last blog post. My goal is to publish at least twice per month, but in the past few weeks I’ve had some unexpected (and upsetting) change come my way. I sat down to write a few times, but I just didn’t have it in me.

But today I’m grateful to be back doing what I love, and I’m returning with a message of hope for anyone who has ever struggled with emotional eating.

What happened? Continue reading “Bricks Over Spoons”

Posted in Health, Lifestyle change, Strength Training, Wellness

Anatomy of a Pain in the Ass: Part 2

There’s an old parable often referred to as the “streetlight effect,” that goes something like this:

A policeman comes across a drunkard searching for his car keys under a streetlight. Neither can kind the keys. The policeman asks the drunkard if he lost his keys in this spot. The drunkard replies, “No, I lost them in the park.”

“The park?” The policeman responds. “Then why are you looking here?”

The drunkard responds: “This is where the light is.”

When dealing with a problem, we often do the same thing. We look where the light is because it’s the most obvious thing we can see. But sometimes the light is misleading.

As I described in part 1 of Anatomy of a Pain in the Ass, the “light” was coming off my back in waves: I had a bulging disc in my lower back. I had signs of arthiritis in my back. The pain was in my back. Stands to reason that I, and all of the health professionals around me, were focused on my back.

But the true origin of the problem was not under the streetlight. It was in the dark, obscured nether regions of my ass (and hamstrings, to be precise). Continue reading “Anatomy of a Pain in the Ass: Part 2”

Posted in Lifestyle change, Strength Training, Wellness Coaching

Anatomy of a Pain in the Ass

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my journey to strength training at Ludus Magnus began with back pain. Chronic, limiting, debilitating back pain.

I lived with it every day. Some days it was a low-level ache, a kind of white noise that lingered in the background of my daily movements. Other days, I would have recurring spasms in my low back, accompanied by sharp stabbing pain in my ass cheeks that radiated through my hips and down my legs.

In hospitals and doctors’ offices they have pain rating scales such as this where they ask patients to assign a number to their pain level:

Pain_scale

I lived between 4 and 9. Even with chiropractic care and massage therapy 1-3 times per week, daily ibuprofen, regular stretching, and multiple icing sessions per day, it never got better than 4.  Continue reading “Anatomy of a Pain in the Ass”

Posted in Lifestyle change, Nutrition, Wellness Coaching

What’s for Lunch?

Human beings are animals. Eating is one of our most basic survival instincts. The urge to find and consume food is hard-wired into the most ancient part of our brains. Without food, we die.

So why can’t anyone decide what to eat?

I see it everyday when I go to work at Trader Joe’s. People come through the door, sometimes armed with books and web printouts, totally confused. They’ve heard that gluten is bad, but they don’t know what it is (I’ve been asked for gluten free cheese more than once). Dr. Oz says olive oil popcorn is a healthy snack, so they fill their carts with it and eat a bag in a sitting. Because it’s “good for them.” A friend told them cherry juice helps arthritis, so they buy it by the case and drink tall glasses daily, pumping massive quantities of sugar into their bodies. Bags of frozen spinach are labeled “fat-free” because we have been told for years that fat is evil. Doesn’t matter that it’s spinach, which of course has no fat. Put the buzzword on the bag to get people to buy. Continue reading “What’s for Lunch?”

Posted in goals, Health, Weight Loss

Horizons of Possibility

I’ve been thinking about goals quite a bit lately.

Our society loves to talk about goals: setting goals, working towards goals, reaching goals. Short-term versus long-term goals. Define benchmark goals on the way to the larger goal. Plan the steps necessary to help reach the goal. Organize your life in a way that gets you closer to the goal. Once you reach the goal, set up the next goal.

(Did you notice how strange the word “goal” starts to sound when you say it that many times in that short a space? Or is it just me? Anyway…)

Weight loss and “getting in shape” are huge goals for millions of people, with a multi-billion dollar industry devoted to helping people reach that goal in a myriad of ways, from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Continue reading “Horizons of Possibility”

Posted in Strength Training, Wellness Coaching

Patient Zero

By Summer 2014, this was the situation in which I found myself:

I injured my back at work in January of that year. An MRI showed a bulging disc in my lower spine, L5 to be exact. I returned to work after six weeks off, but I was in constant pain. I ate ibuprofen like tic-tacs to get through the day, and then came home and laid on ice packs. I was seeing a chiropractor for adjustments and massage every week. I was stretching, going for walks, and occasionally swimming, but my recovery would not progress past a certain point. My quality of life was in the toilet; I was surviving, not living. Continue reading “Patient Zero”