Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Anyone who subscribed to Confessions of a CrossFit Fattie some time ago will know it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted.



From chARiTyelise at

That big motivator of most things bad, fear.  I didn’t want to talk about what was going on. But now that I’m feeling a bit better, it’s time to ‘fess up.

Almost a year ago I was feeling the best I had in years. Well enough to go for a week to Tampa by myself to visit my mom. I was great about staying on my CrossFit workout while I was there.

And then I crashed. It took me two weeks after I came back to do much of anything except sleep. I assumed that I’d gotten those bad habits conquered, what with my regular visits to the physical therapist extraordinaire and my consistent workouts.

But I was wrong.

I hadn’t factored in what would happen when I started trying to resume a “normal” life, one with work in it. I participated in NaNoWriMo, and the writing started to take priority over the workouts. I’m fine, I thought, like any backslider. It’s just a glitch; I’ll get better.

And then November ended, and with it NaNo, and I’d completed the fifty-thousand words. And I looked upon it and found it good. I really thought I could go back to my old ways of spending nonstop hours at the computer without harming myself.

I started picking up more freelancing work. I started planning an AWA-style workshop for the new year. It didn’t happen. I kept doing the freelance copyediting1 and writing because it was fun, and it had been so long, but for the gigs with Thomson Reuters, since I’d been consistently earning any money. And I was doing work I enjoyed.

I’d hated becoming the unreliable employee that illness had made me into. I was able to be reliable as a volunteer at because it was a telecommuting job. I didn’t have to get dressed and drive; I just had to have enough energy to make it through my shifts and organize my work around my down times.

Now I was taking on more responsibility, and what was the mistake? The same one I’d made my entire life — that I could escape the consequences of ignoring my duties to my health. I’d think about it tomorrow.

As the new year came, I left the routine of regular workouts, becoming more and more sporadic. Not surprisingly, I started feeling worse. I was annoyed that I was losing what definition I’d gained in my arms and legs. But I kept telling myself that the occasional workout that I was getting in was going to help me maintain until I had time for more.

Yeah, right. That’s worked so well for me in the past.

And the migraines started getting worse again. And I had to be responsible, take care of the clients who expected their work to be done on time and well. So that became a priority. The excuse I’d tried to tell other people not to use, “I don’t have time,” was returning to my vocabulary, even though I knew that it was a lie. I didn’t have the time NOT to work out, because failing to do so ate into the rest of my life, taking time away to be sick or alternate between insomnia and hypersomnia. And sleepy editors are sloppy editors, so I’d be waiting for that window of time when everything was working to work.

Then I had a couple of weeks of something I hadn’t done in years, not since I’d figured out my food sensitivities and sworn off corn and dairy and kicked my Coca-Cola habit. I went on an eating binge.

cupcake tier

Cupcake tier from The Cake Shop.

That’s my oldtime modus operandi for weight gain. It had been years, truly, years since I’d last been a bitchy binger. “Bring me baked goods,” I demanded of my husband in a take-no-prisoners way. He did. I’d eat a six-pack of cupcakes and want more. I put on ten pounds in a week. Turns out one of my drugs had pooped out on me (okay, that’s not the technical term, but it captures what I mean), and it took me while to figure it out. The first thing you look for is something new, not something old, when your behavior goes wonky.  But now I’ve figured out that the first thing to think about if I get bingey is to consider any drugs that work on neurochemicals, but particularly antidepressants. It was the Wellbutrin that my brain had started to ignore, and the first thing my body did was say, “Send me sugar.” Turns out the brain’s its own sweet tooth, using a disproportionate amount of glucose, which I learned from a TED Talk2:

I don’t want one of those nasty things in my brain, although if you told me it was the only thing between me and a daily migraine, I’d seriously consider it.

At any rate, the next clue was complete lack of energy and motivation, accompanied by showers of weeping eyes. No good reason, just started crying anytime I wasn’t distracted. So I went to my friendly pill prescriber and spent the  next three months getting titrated up to an effective dose of Viibryd. It’s new, and I almost said, “No, thanks,” when she told me about it, because I didn’t want a new thing on the market. No one knows what’s wrong with it yet. All I knew right away was that it made me queasy and gave me the worst smelling flatulence I’d had in my life. Powerful bastards, too: the farting would wake me up at night as if a cannon had been shot out of my…well, you know. And I put on another ten pounds of fluff eating starchy stuff to combat the constant nausea.

About the time I finally started to feel normal again, I was knocked down by an allergic reaction to the bloody stuff.  Itchy everywhere, including my throat and mouth, which is a bad sign. I develop drug allergies every so often, and this one was acting suspiciously like the one that gave me blisters all over the inside of my mouth. Because of the depression symptoms, I’d started counseling right around the same time, and that helped me get through the tsunami of helplessness and hopelessness that attacked me.

Now that’s cleared my system, and a new/old drug seems to be working. I’m slowly working my way back up from zero, starting out at the exact same weight I was when I started this blog. But unlike days past, I refuse to stop. I refuse to let the bad juju win. I’m back to more healthy eating (no more Mr. Gutsquirm) and, ooo-rah, working out.

And life, with its odd synchronicities, sent me a client whose wife is a CrossFit instructor at the box closest to me. I pass it every time I go to a physical therapy appointment. As soon as it cools down, I’m going to gut up with my big gut and go workout in public. Then I can talk more authoritatively about putting yourself out there. Time to stop denying the importance of the social structure, time to stop assuming they’re all going to judge me, time to overcome inertia. (Or maybe just defy gravity — whatever it is that’s keeping you away from health..)

1. Every time I mention copyediting, I cringe to think that someone will read my blog and think “Who the hell is she to call herself a copyeditor?” My errors on my blog are evidence that everyone needs a copyeditor, even a copyeditor. Oh, and “copyeditor” and “copy editor” are both used by the people calling themselves that. I won’t bore you with the details. If you want me to bid on copyediting work for you, please contact  Amy at and tell her you’d like me to work on your project.
2. I’m hooked on TED Talks. Awesome info in twenty minutes or less.


Peanut Butter Cookie Batch

Peanut Butter Cookie Batch (Photo credit: Greatist): I can’t stand peanut butter, but maybe some of you crave it.

I love Greatist. I encourage anyone interested in health, fitness and weight loss to subscribe to them. No, I have no financial or personal interest in them, so feel free to take it or leave it with my blessing and no effect on my pocketbook:

  1. How to foam roll like a pro
  2. Can you be too sore to work out?
  3. 10 interval training mobile apps to download right now
  4. News: Talk to yourself to stay motivated
  5. Schedule your day to reduce stress
  6. Give in to cravings to avoid binges
  7. Ultimate guide to good posture at work
  8. Develop a routine to improve sleep
  9. Why do I eat when I’m not hungry?
  10. How to handle criticism like a pro

There seems to be a “routines” theme in my list. Maybe I’m trying to tell myself something. I’m not even touching the word “pro,” given that I’m a woman old enough to remember that as a euphemism.

Reflecting on the pressures I feel while navigating through the challenges of escaping my poor health/fitness condition, I wondered if it was anything like what a 600 lb. octopus felt when squeezing through a hole the size of a quarter.

The ability of the octopus to compress like that could reasonably be considered a survival mechanism, although I can’t seem to locate any authority that states the reason for the behavior. Makes sense, though: Why else would you scoot through an unreasonably small opening, if not to get away to live another day? Or, to twist the question into the shape I’d like it to take, why else would you put yourself through all this pressure and/or pain except to stay healthy?

The other question I can’t find an answer for is whether this is painful for the octopus. Granted, it’s hard to ask them to rate their pain on a scale of 1-10, but their physiology should suggest whether it would be possible for the compression to cause pain.

This all came to me when I was joking about meeting the four horsemen of the apocalyptic workout–the day that makes you want to end all exercise forever.

I’d had a workout that left me sobbing in pain and frustration: changing my dosage and timing on one of the medications to prevent migraines had made me light-headed and light-sensitive, so I was doing my workout in the shade in sunglasses…and with my eyes closed whenever possible. Every squeak of the equipment and sound of the timer going off put my teeth on edge. I had flash migraines, where it felt like someone had shot me in the left eye with an arrow, but only for a few seconds at a go. I was cranky, because the changes had disrupted my sleep schedule.

Unrelated to the medication change, I was cramping in my left quad and gastroc. My body seemed to be screaming at me to quit, assaulting me on all fronts. I felt rather like the one time I’d had sunstroke, just before I passed out. And then, the crowning blow was a simple hamstring stretch.  This is usually the “ahh” moment, as I’m almost done and everything left to do is on my back on a nice foam mat.

Pain exploded in my right quad, radiating to my hip. That’s when I started crying. As I said before, pain for a purpose, to achieve a goal, is one thing, but there’s no sense in suffering needlessly. And, as often occurs, I began doubting whether I would ever progress.

The same thing happened for the next three workouts. I felt like I was squeezing my fat ass through a teeny hope, pressured by pain and fear. My husband felt a big knot in my quad. I set up for an early appointment with Stephanie the phenomenal PT, but, in this case, early meant five days away rather than three weeks.

In the meantime, Gary was rolling the knot. Foam rolling is the best way to do this for yourself, but it’s really difficult for me to get the balance right for most of these, so we’ve taken to using a rolling pin over the area. As I’ve mentioned before, muscle knotting is common in people with fibromyalgia. Usually neither Gary nor I can find the knots, although massage and/or physical therapists seem to put their fingers on them immediately. This one was big enough for him to find.

So we looked up how to deal with knots in muscles. The instructions basically said (in all the sources we could find) to stretch the knot away from the contraction. Since we had no idea how to figure out which way it was contracted, Gary and I decided to go with rolling along the same direction as the muscle fibers. Turns out that was the right idea, and that, yes, until you’ve had a lot of hands-on training, figuring out which direction it should be stretched isn’t that easy for most people.

So he put some pressure on the rolling pin and ran it up and down the knot, the IT band and the hip. I concentrated on breathing like I was in a Lamaze class (although when applied to childbirth, I gave up and asked for the epidural) so the crying incident would not be repeated.

The rolling (and some anti-inflammatory OTC meds) helped, but I dreaded the hamstring stretch each and every day after the first time my quad screamed. On something like the fourth workout after this ghastly newcomer showed up, I had finished the hamstring stretch and was into the piriformis stretch (which you do by pulling your knee toward the opposite shoulder) and there was something like a pop where the knot had been, a burning sensation, and then an immediate reduction in the pain.

Ahh. Is that what the octopus feels once it’s out of the hole?

I alluded to my recent health issues (well, more than “alluded” in some) in recent posts: Pain and other challenges, Pain and other challenges: Part 2 and Pain and other challenges: Part the third.  The problems kept piling up, and the key feature to improvement, consistency, has eluded me. I think I’m now on the way to surmounting the problem.

One of the issues that is only tangentially about me is that my migraine specialist, Dr. Robert Nett, died in a car accident back in February. His death was a loss to the medical community, as he was both a researcher and a practitioner, an M.D. and a pharmacist, and very attentive to his patients. It was, of course, even more of a loss to his family and friends, but I’m sure all of his patients felt the loss as well.

I found out when in a different specialist’s office. I’d listed Dr. Nett as the doctor treating me for migraines, and the doctor’s assistant asked me a couple of times who was taking care of that. I repeated the answer a couple of times, a bit confused. Then she realized I hadn’t been told.  When she told me, my first thought was “What a waste!”  My second was “His poor family.”  And my third, I’m a bit embarrassed to say, was “What will I do now?” Selfish much?

But there’s been some validity to the concern. I’ve been heavily medicated to prevent the migraines, and I was developing some sporadic and odd side effects. He had planned to reduce them at some point after they’d done their job of resetting the sensitivity of my brain to stimuli. However, you basically had to audition to get an appointment with him because he was in such high demand. Now that he’s gone, pretty much everyone here in San Antonio that specializes in migraines is slammed and we’re looking at, ohh, August, maybe, before I actually see one of them.

So my internist (whom I’ve called “wonderful” several times, and realized I use “wonderful” way too often, so let’s say she’s amazing — because she is) has been temporarily dealing with my migraine meds as well as my grab bag of assorted illnesses. I had an appointment with her because of a hacking cough I couldn’t shake and managed to have one of the side-effect “spells” that  periodically plague me. I won’t bore you with the details, but she sent me straight to the ER, and on the follow-up appointment said that I was acting as if I’d “had three bottles of tequila, and [she] knew [I] hadn’t done.”

So what with the actual migraines, the recurrent hacking cough, and the spectrum of light-headed to stoned beyond belief, I’ve been extremely inconsistent with my exercise.

So at said follow-up, I talked to her about reducing all of the drugs to zero and asked her if she thought I was being overly simplistic in thinking that diet and consistent exercise would take care of the problem. She nixed reducing everything, even over a lengthy period of time, and pretty much told me I could expect to be on X, Y and Z for the rest of my life. On the other hand, she was in favor of reducing to eliminating some of them.

But we both knew that the ones that were first on the chopping block were those which were preventing the migraines, as they’re also the ones probably responsible for my problems. So I kept thinking, well, what about the exercise if I’m in the middle of a migraine?

She did agree that exercise and weight loss would/could eliminate (or at least ameliorate) most of my medical issues. But I was stuck on the “How can I be consistently exercising if I’m having all these problems?” and not expressing it well and we kind of went in a circle for a bit.

It took me a while to formulate the right question (because of all the foggy brain problems), but I finally came up with it: Is there any reason I should stop if I’m having a migraine, feeling wobbly or hacking like crazy — or do I just need to suck it up?

She smothered a chortle (or at least that’s what I think it was), and said, “Well, basically, yes. Suck it up.”

Fair enough. My fear has been that I’ll make things worse. Now, if necessary, I’ll go workout with my earplugs and sleeping mask, and if it makes any one migraine worse, I’ll deal. I plan on having the hubby coach on standby, of course, but as far as the pain, well, it’s just pain. I don’t mind suffering in the short term if, in the long term, I’ll actually get better.

So, sports fans, the race is back on.

Pretty much stands on its own (click on pic to go to George Takei’s Facebook page):

I reposted the Greatist Graphic that I originally posted about a year ago because I was looking at it to evaluate whether I would consider what I do now High-Intensity Interval Training…or if I could consider what I do CrossFit.

I guess it depends on how you view it. The level of exercise I’m doing certainly has sections that, for me, are aerobic, although others would find them no more challenging than getting off the couch. My current exercise regime is, however, anything but quick.

On the other hand, I came across Kelly Starrett’s blog, MobilityWod, which I’ve added on the resources to the left. I’ve mentioned him in earlier posts, as he’s a fairly well known within the CrossFit community as a physical therapist who is a CrossFit trainer (among other things). Anyway, I came across the following statement from Kelly:

I’ve long maintained that you are an infinite healing machine, at any age, forever.  This simple equation reads:  Right Lifestyle + Right Movement = Perfect Healing/Adaptation Human Machine.

That doesn’t necessarily address how you define CrossFit or High-Intensity Interval Training, but it does hit the basic point: Whatever you call it is irrelevant (except to the extent that it may indicate the philosophy of the particular program), the point is being consistent, addressing your shortcomings and doing the best you can.

The quote comes from a post called “Measuring Lifestyle and Nutrition,” which includes, in the first video (from YouTube, below), a discussion of personal biology and performance between Kelly and Jim Kean. The sound quality is a bit poor, and the conversation wanders a little, but it touches on what you can and cannot control and that there is always hope, as long  as you’re working at fixing the problems.

So, gentle readers, all that I mentioned yesterday happened at the end of last year.  I’d written that post back in January on a good day. They were pretty infrequent, so I put off posting until I had something more encouraging to report (at least in the end).

Just before Christmas, things got even worse, although, for once, the injury was completely not my fault. The water heater decided to lay a trap for me. Our washer/dryer is in the garage and the water heater is just beside the door from the kitchen to the garage. We’d been in and out during the day. My mother was coming in for Christmas, and, an hour before we were to pick her up, I went out to the garage to get some laundry out of the dryer.

I was sitting in the puddle at about the same time I realized I’d fallen. I didn’t feel anything at first, which alarmed me a bit because all of the worst injuries I’ve had in my life didn’t hurt right away (unlike a paper cut, which is a dramatic little screamer).  I fell hard enough my husband heard it reverberate through the concrete (the same thing happens when anyone drops a weighted barbell in the garage). I was able to get up; nothing broken.

But it made the fibro critter incredibly pissed off. By Christmas day, I couldn’t lift my arms to brush my own hair. Overwhelmed with pain and frustration, I think I cried pretty much every day for at least a week. (Of course, there’s always menopause to blame).

Let me digress for a second. Fibromyalgia is one of many syndromes that result from neurochemicals getting crosswise with each other. Dr. Wonderful  told me that it, along with migraines, crop up because your brain is hypersensitive to various stimuli. Given all these interactions, the chronic migraines returned in force. All my medications were upped. Whee.

And the migraines receded, but I was still so crippled by pain that walking or standing was a challenge. I went to my internest, and she checked me out and said, “Well, there’s nothing more I can give you because of all the medications you’re already on.”

Argh. One of those moments where your heart drops and you think you’re doomed.

But then she sent me to back to Stephanie, my ever-so-awesome physical therapist, giving her pretty much a free hand to deal with my fibromyalgia as needed (I think it’s technically “assess and treat”).  The first few visits were murder. I’d cry during the therapy, which, although I freely admit in writing that I cry over stuff, I rarely cry in public. It’s pretty ingrained that crying in public is an invitation to abuse. I don’t like being that vulnerable; generally I hole up when I’m in pain. (Which is another reason I haven’t posted in ages).

One of the things that fibromyalgia can do (or is responsible for creating fibro–the experts won’t agree) is create knots in your muscles:From

I’m not endorsing the site that created this image; it’s a nice illustration, though. I don’t know enough about it to give an opinion. However, I’ve been warned by several doctors (some friends of the family, some treating) to be careful when choosing treatments for fibromyalgia; just like any other chronic ailment, there are some treatments that are possibly useful, but not scientifically studied and others that are downright hokum.

So you’ve got this contracted muscle. It’s freaked out and won’t relax. Notice the biceps in the illustration below from Human Locomotion at Connexions:

When the bicep contracts, it bulges in the middle and strains at the insertion point. When this goes on for too long, it begins to become inflamed. So it’s a bit of both happening all at once. The trick is to convince your body that it’s okay to relax.

Physical therapy has helped. I have to spend a couple of hours a day doing home exercises to improve; at least an hour to stay even and start going downhill if I miss a day. Unfortunately, I still have days with migraines and the fibro flare still makes its presence known. My social life consists of seeing health care professionals and my immediate family members.

Among the various discussions about what I could do in the way of working out, squats came up. At the physical therapist’s location, I was doing squats on a Total Gym. Basically, it takes the load off the knees but allows you to do the same motions as a squat, leading to an exchange that went something like

“So, can I start doing air squats at home?”


“I mean after I’ve improved.”


“After I’ve lost weight?”

“Which part of ‘no’ are you not getting?”

[laugh; pause]


“Not with your knee.”

Bummed me out. She went on to explain that if I didn’t do every single squat perfectly, I’d end up reinjuring myself. She agreed with CrossFit’s position that it takes several years to master the squat. I’m in a situation in which the arthrogenic (read: Getting Old) changes in my knee won’t allow me to go through the learning process.

However, SCALING still applies. So I’ve got a new toy. CrossFit isn’t big on equipment, but for those of us who are overweight and aging, sometimes you need something to scale down lower than zero weight. (Again, I’d like to put a fat suit weighing a hundred pounds on some of these guys and say, “Go ahead. Do a friggin’ air squat.”)  I got a home version of a Total Gym, although not the trademarked one. My husband did the comparison shopping and we invested in a Jillian Michaels Body Shop. It’s not nearly as sturdy as the one at the therapist’s office, but it’s at least one-tenth the price.

So far, I’m only using it to do the squats (in 8 minute stretches) and working at the pullups. I use the next to the lowest setting, which allows you to do the exercise carrying less than your total body weight.  I’m having to accept that I will max out on what I can do with squats, and weighted squats are a no-go for me.  Running is also off the table.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t work toward other goals.  For me, I’d define it as wellness, a bit shy of the CrossFit fitness model. More on that in the next post.