Monday, January 30, 2012

Weak, Workout, Reality and Recovery- Part 3

Recovery. Long, glorious recovery. I have been in recovery mode going on two months now.  I thought that when the doctor and others told me that it would take months to recover, that they were smokin' crack. Seriously. I thought that I would be back at it, just as before, once all the meds did their thing and I got back to working out.  I am the first to admit, I was wrong.

And not just slightly wrong. I was totally and completely wrong. It has been months of needing more sleep. Months of feeling OK, and then all of a sudden I am exhausted. Not just kind of tired, but literally exhausted from head to toe, mind and body. It even took me a while to get back to taking showers on a regular basis. It just took too much effort for a while. It took energy that I could use on something else. Months of random hits off an inhaler I thought that I would never have to use.

The hacking. The coughing. It is still hanging on. What brings it up is any number of things. I could be laughing and it starts. I could go outside to roll the trash cans out to the curb, and the cold crisp air gets into my lungs and cranks up the coughing. And it is definitely the workouts.

Even before I was diagnosed with pneumonia, it was in my workouts that I most noticed a change. This is still the case. While my body was being tormented by infection, I was losing my cardiovascular strength as well as my muscular strength. This, in itself, has been a huge wake up call. It has also been absolutely devastating to me.

Every one has their thing. Mine happens to be CrossFit. I am not super elite CrossFit Games person, by any means. But I had come to identify myself as a very fit, strong woman, and in a matter of months, I felt like that identity had been slowly stripped away from me. Some may think that I am being crazy, because they couldn't do what I do, but that is not the point. I know what I was able to do, what I was capable of. I know how fast I could run a mile or how heavy I could do high reps of dead lifts or rip off butterfly pull ups, but now it has all changed. The strength I had has to be gained back. You see, your mind tells you that you should still be able to lift that 200-pound barbell, and then your body tells you, no. Not just no, but hell no, and that has been heartbreaking for me.

I am so very hard on myself and always have been. You see, I have that "never good enough" kind of battle going on in my head. Never smart enough. Never fast enough. Never lean enough. Never a good enough mom. Never a good enough wife. Never good enough at anything. Never...never...never.  It has been with me since I was a child, and bad habits are really hard to break.

So hear I sit, with all of the strength and gains that I had made in CrossFit, gone, and I felt like I was back to square one. CrossFit athletes are always asking, "What was your time? How much weight did you do?" when it comes to doing the workouts. I was known as a pretty darn good CrossFitter, too. Now all I am doing is playing catch up. Embarrassed by my times. Embarrassed at the weight that I am using. Having to set new goals. Goals that I had already reached at one time, now I need to reach yet again.

I know it shouldn't matter, but it does. It matters to me. I want to be strong. I want to be fast. I want to keep getter stronger and faster. I don't ever want to say or think, "Well, it's really good for a 37-year-old," or  "That is awesome, considering you're a mother of two." I just want to be awesome, because I am me. Oh, I get that all of those things make me who I am. I am almost 37. I am a mother of two. I am stronger and faster than I ever was in high school or college, but that's not good enough. I want more.

I am not even sure what exactly "more" looks like. I am not sure that I ever will. And this whole "pneumonia thing" has been a great lesson to me.  A lesson about slowing down.  A lesson about being OK with where you are at the time. A lesson about working hard to eventually get to where you want to be, even if you were already there at one time. A lesson about simply being me.

Weak, Workout, Reality and Recovery- Part 2 knew what that meant for most people, but what about me? Before I left the doctor's office, I said, "Rest. OK, like sit around on the couch all day, kinda rest?" He replied, "Whatever it takes. Listen to your body, but whatever you were doing or not doing last week, didn't seem to work." My mind flashed to me lying on the dining room floor, crying because I was too weak to move.  The kids had to go get my husband, so he could help me back to bed. Then he had to get them ready and off to school. Still quarantined in the guest room, I would randomly try and yell out instructions to help out.

As I snap back to the graveness of the conversation, I just had to ask it..."OK, I get that I really have to rest, take my meds, and drink fluids, and I know this sounds crazy, but I have to ask, when do you think that I will be able to work out?" He says, "Look, I get it. I workout all the time too. I know how badly you want to get back to it. I will tell you this again, listen to your body, but don't be stupid. It is going to be a looooong recovery for you. I am talking months. Months of you hacking and coughing up stuff. When you do finally workout, you may not feel it completely when you are working out, it may be more likely to hit you right after, when you are recovering. Make sure that you ALWAYS have your inhaler with you. You are going to need it for the next couple of months."

Months?  That is what I hear. Months...hacking...listen to your body....don't be stupid...inhaler.  I thanked him, vowing to myself not to be back on that table in a week. I would rest and "listen to my body."

I stop off at the pharmacy and by that time, the pharmacist recognizes me. I hand her the two new prescriptions and she simply says, "You poor thing. You are really sick. You should be at home and someone else should be getting these for you." I can barely muster a smile as I waited the 15 minutes to for my prescription to be completed. As I was checking out, the technician looks down at what she is handing me and lets out a, "Whoa! OK, make sure you are listening. Are you listening?" I was, barely. "This is strong, serious stuff. You need to read all of the side effects, and if you have any of them, even a little, call your doctor immediately." I nod and agree, she certainly got my attention, but inside I was thinking, "What the heck is this stuff?! Should I be worried?" Ah, so is life. And off I went.

Home again, already tired and a little down. Back home to get into my sweatpants and sit on the couch. Awesome. More resting. More worthless TV that I could not even concentrate on. More pills, cough syrup, and Gatorade. It was rather depressing. I went from a super busy, active woman and mom to a sick, barely breathing couch potato. I was so tired and sick that I could not motivate myself to shower. Anybody that knows me, will tell you that I take at least one shower a day. I was starting to go on three days with no shower. It was simply too much work.

Yet each day, I started to feel a little better. I rested. I medicated. I showered once in a while. I listened, and low and behold I was getting better.  Either it was me listening or it was the anthrax-like medicine eating away at the virus and infection inside of me...or maybe both.  By the next Saturday, I was feeling really good, so guess what I did? Worked out.

Probably not the smartest thing for me to do, but the sitting around was getting to me worse than the pneumonia. But because I am so hardheaded, I didn't ease into it. I didn't go and maybe work on some skillwork and call it a day. I decided I was going to do a "hero WOD". Hero WODs are workouts made in honor of someone who has given their life for their country and also happened to be a CrossFitter.  This particular work out was named "Wood"and consisted of running, burpee box jumps, sumo deadlift high pulls, and thrusters.  In my head, I was thinking that I could do this workout, because at the end of each round there was a built-in one minute rest.  I was thinking that this would give me time to catch my breath, since I had been "sick." Perfect.

When I got there, another CrossFitter and good friend was there finishing his WOD.  I told him what I was going to do, and he laughed and said, "Don't you think you should ease into things? Maybe just do a long row or something." I explained my thought process, he shrugged and shook his head, and off I went. By round two, I was wheezing and had really shallow breaths and chest pains. At round three, I said to him, "Maybe I should have only said I was going to do three rounds." Still, I kept going. It was the whole mentality that I had already written it on the board, so I had to finish it. I finished my last two rounds and thought, maybe they were right. Maybe this would have been under the "don't do anything stupid" category that the doctor was talking about.

Somehow, all of the warnings, tales of me needing to rest, and the comments, "You know, pneumonia can kill you. It isn't something to mess with" were finally setting in. Maybe it was the doctor, maybe it was the warning about the meds, or maybe it was the slap in the face called a workout followed by chest pains, wheezing, and multiple hits on the new inhaler that made me listen. Whatever it was, I was listening, yet finally in recovery.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weak, Workout, Reality and Recovery- Part 1

In case you didn't know (although the one person that may be reading this does), I was really sick at the end of last year. I had pneumonia. Another important thing to know about me is that I work out all of the time. Not unhealthy, like the person who eats a Cheerio and then makes herself work out, but a lot.  It is just sort of "my thing." I do it for many reasons, which I will discuss in a later post. As you can probably guess, the two do not coincide well together, at all.

The day that I got diagnosed with pneumonia, I had done a workout, and that day's workout had felt a lot like the workouts I had done for months. Bad, horrible, slow, just not me. You see, I log all of my workouts, and basically since the end of September, I had been writing down things like "way too slow" or "95 pounds felt like 125." Things just weren't right. I was starting to worry that I was feeling the effects of getting older, or that I had just lost my mojo. Then, after a night of hacking so much that I could barely sleep,and another workout that was more laborious than usual, I decided it was time. Time to get checked, and so it was off to the doctor for me.

I was sitting on those hard, paper covered beds with the cold stethoscope on my back. The doctor asked me to take deep breaths, and at that very moment was when I realized that it was a good thing that I was there. The same woman that could do a 12-hour adventure race or a 155-pound overhead squat could not give her doctor three deep breaths. By my second breath, my breathing was shallow, labored, and wheezy. What a battle that was going on in my mind as the doctor was continuing to listen to my lungs!  I just did a CrossFit workout this morning, and now I can't take three deep breaths? What is going on? It was like I was comprised of two people--a complete CrossFit badass, strong, fast and determined, and then a little old lady that could barely breathe for the doctor, while sitting in this cold, sterile room on that noisy paper-covered bed.

The doctor was done listening, and I was waiting to hear what the diagnosis was. She sat down at her computer, sighed and said, "Well, it looks like you have...pneumonia." My mouth dropped open at this statement. Once again, thoughts about breathing and working out and pneumonia were rolling around in my head. How could this be? I just kept saying to myself, "This can't be. I just worked out. People with pneumonia can't do CrossFit or any other sort of workout." This has got to be a mistake. You see, I had been sick at the end of September with some sort of virus. I thought that I was going to go into the doctor's office and they were going to say, "Yep, looks like you never quite kicked that other virus," hand me a Z-pack, and send me on my way. Boy, was I wrong.

Next, the doctor says to me that she could do a chest x-ray, but it would simply tell her the same thing because she could hear "it" plain as day. So there I was, three prescriptions later, full of gunk and infection in my lungs, completely shocked and heading home. But home to do what? Sit around? I don't do that. If I sit around too much, I feel gross and lazy, not to mention guilty.

I just kept trying to Jedi-Mind trick myself. I thought that if I didn't truly accept the diagnosis, that I would just get better. You know, that whole mind over matter thing. The problem was, that diagnosis made complete sense to me. No wonder I was feeling weak. No wonder I couldn't seem to get enough sleep. No wonder I wasn't performing like my usual strong, fast, and powerful self in my workouts.  I guess the fact that it somewhat made sense to me won out.

Next thing you know, I was laid up in bed or on the couch. I was quarantined to the guest room, so I wouldn't get my husband sick. I was sipping cough syrup like I used to sip Gatorade or protein shakes. It was horrible. The sickness sunk in and was taking over my body and my mind. Coughing, fevers, chest pains just to walk to the bathroom, in and out of lucidity. Yes, lucidity. You see, pneumonia hit me like no other illness ever had. I would have conversations with people and later have no idea what I had talked to them about. Yet at the time of the conversation, I was sure that I was totally involved in the conversation. Also, I would start to feel OK and think that I could go do something as simple as a quick grocery shopping trip and then, BAM,  I was down and out again.

One week down. One week of couch surfing, sleeping, and fever-filled days, and I felt worse. I was still hacking, couldn't breathe, and my chest was killing me. The doctor gave me a stronger cough medicine and a super strong antibiotic. This antibiotic was so strong that everyone was warning me about the side effects. This stuff was powerful. And here is what the doctor left me with, "If you come back here in another week and don't feel better, just know, there is nothing more I can do for you. The medicine that we have given you is what we give 70-year-old ladies. If that doesn't work, we will have to put you in the hospital on IV meds. Listen to me...You have got to rest."

To be continued...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Feelin' Lucky

Writing yesterday was just what I needed to get out of my funk. And last night, as I was sitting by the fire, reading, sipping some red wine, and hanging out with my kids and one of their friends, I felt really lucky. It was such a relaxing and real moment. Not something filled with the materialism of stuff, just being. I finally slowed down enough to enjoy myself. I finally finished a book that I had been reading since summer of last year. Pathetic, I know, considering it was an 80-page essay/article, but it felt good to finally finish it and to start a new book.

My husband had been working all day, I was cleaning and carting kids to play dates and birthday parties, and although we were not together, I finally felt the balance of what we do. He is working, doing what he loves in order to enable us to "live." I was handling the other half so the rest of us could "live." Each of us doing our part, and neither one any more important than the other.

Last night was filled with a myriad of ah-has and visions and memories. The sleepover with my son and his friend constantly made me smile and giggle. It took me back to when I was his age and hanging out with my friends, mainly one in particular. We were always together, at one or the other's house. Always acting crazy, playing Yahtzee in the top of my closet, talking in weird voices, singing songs all the while our parents were rolling their eyes at us and laughing.

Last night, while laying on the floor in front of the fire, it brought up visions of my sister. Her head always seemed to be in a book while I was the one begging her to play Stratego with me. Her lying in front of the fire, on the "Jeffy rug" just wanting to finish her latest Little House on the Prairie book. I was the "I don't want to sit down and take the time to read. I want to play and dance and run around" kinda kid. She just wanted to finish that chapter. Back then it drove me crazy. I just wanted my big sister to come and have fun with me. I thought reading was boring, but now I totally get it. The slowing down and reading. The opening and expanding of the mind and imagination. I get it.

Then my husband came home after a long exhausting day and we were all together, hanging out in front of the fire. And man, did it just feel right. Family, friends all snuggled together watching and laughing at a movie. Knowing what it felt like to have that as a child and loving that I have that as an adult.

And as I sit here writing, listening to the squeals of joy, as my kids and their friend sled down the neighbor's hill, I will make sure that I have the water boiling and the hot chocolate on the table as they come inside to warm their ice cold noses and fingers. Because it is never the things that your parents bought you that you remember, it is instead what they did with you and for you that embeds in your heart and mind.

I am so lucky.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To Run Is Divine...At Least Most of The Time

I am having one of those days. A day where nothing I put on looks good on me or feels right. Where I am constantly on the verge of tears for no good reason. Where someone else's win makes me mad at myself and annoyed at them and want to punch something. Where all I can seem to focus on is everything that I need to do or "should" do, and not the many things that I have already accomplished or are in the process of getting done. Boo on today.

It is time to shift, and I am wishing I had a treadmill. I know that sounds funny, but all I really want to do right now is run. Run until "it" feels better. Unfortunately, it is currently a balmy 25 degrees here, plus the windchill, which makes it closer to 20....if I am lucky. And after a recent stint with pneumonia, I would be crazy to go run outside.

I have a love/hate relationship with running. A lot of the time, running is one of those things that I have to gear myself up to do.

Force myself, because although I was always known as being fast, I was not an endurance runner. Sprints were my thing. I could rock out a suicide with the best of them.

These days, there is something very cathartic about running to me, yet I seem to forget this until I get out there and do it. I will be honest, sometimes I still hate it. Usually, it is that first run of the season that I despise the most. I've been cooped up doing exercises inside because of the "awesome" midwest winters. That first run of the season is a lung burner.  Makes me feel like I am running through mud and breathing through a straw, with jell-o legs and collapsing lungs. But then, then there are the times that it just feels perfect.

Running perfection, at least for me, goes a little something like this. I love, love, love to run in the evening. There is something about the light and the air that makes me feel like I am gliding. It feels almost effortless. Like I could keep running with no protest from my legs and my lungs. Run like the wind and with the wind. I have my ear buds in, listening to whatever suits me at the time, sometimes it is a book, sometimes it is music. My thoughts tend to meander just like the trail, usually with the trivial problems or going-ons of the day. But somehow, on the 15-, 20-, or 30-minute run, it has allowed and enabled me to figure everything out, or at least feel like I have for the time.

And let's get this straight, I do not jog, I run. There is no lolly gagging. This is not a trip where I would be able to carry on a conversation with a potential partner. No, I run. Run as fast as I can at that very moment, because not only am I healing my mind and my soul, but my body as well. Burn out the toxins. Sweat them out. Run them out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Letting Go

To forgive and forget easily is a virtue. It seems like it is such a hard thing to do at times, at least for me. It has gotten easier as I have gotten older and realized that a lot of my worrying and pining over things just isn't worth the energy. Somehow, my daughter has the lesson of letting go down pat, at the ripe old age of six. It does not seem to matter how mad you get at her, or what the situation is, she is able to simply and easily let it go. She is definitely upset in the moment that either you have scolded her or she gets mad at you, but after a discussion she is done. Done.

We had an incident tonight where she lied to me. We talked calmly about it, and she was literally wailing with sadness and disappointment in herself. I could feel her energy and her feelings, it was so intense. After she calmed down, she received her punishment of 75 burpees, and it was like a switch was turned. She started doing the burpees and was done with it. It was as if she just excepted what she did, what had happened, her role in it, the punishment, and moved on. And this is not the first time that she has handled a situation with such maturity. She still amazes me every time. An "ah-ha" moment.

And oh, how I envy her! Sometimes it seems that you urge yourself to let it go, but somehow you can still feel it. "It," this feeling, this thing is in your gut, your heart, and your mind. It lingers like a bad smell. You try to scrub it out, but that stubborn thing won't go no matter how hard you try to get rid of it. Yet here she is, no scrubbing, no pining, no urging. Just poof, and it is gone.

It just goes to show you how much you can learn from anyone, at any age, at any time. A continual journey of learning and experiences. Moments that your child is learning from you suddenly turn into a role reversal of lessons. The same time they are learning from you, boom, you are learning larger lessons from them,and I love it. I love that my kids can teach me thing or two about living life to the fullest and letting go.

The Me Factor

Toby Keith said it best in his country song rendition, "Wanna Talk About Me, Wanna Talk about I...," people are so all about themselves these days. Since I have moved to Indiana, yes, the same state that brags about their Midwest values, I have experienced people that I thought were friends, being oh-so-selfish. I can take total responsibility in saying that I chose these people to be friends with. I chose to tell them things that I trusted them with. And no, it is not Indiana's fault, but as I have lived in the East, West, and now Midwest, I can certainly see a huge difference with people and their values simply by what part of the country they reside in. There are certainly all kinds of people all over, I know that. I am just talking about my observations and experiences. And I must say, that I do have some of the most wonderful, trusting friends here. But over and over, I am shocked to see how people act and how downright mean and selfish they can be.

Back to what I am calling the "me factor" and my stories. In several situations, I have found that I have told people some things, and even said, "Please do not share this information with anyone," and low and behold, they do. One time right in front of me. No, I am not kidding. I was standing there, mouth open, as my "friend" was relaying my business to one of my clients. It is like no one here can stand not to tell someone else your business. It is as if because it makes them feel good to tell your secrets, it is OK. Big lesson in trust on my part. I have learned who is a true friend and who just wants to know and share your business.

Ever have someone that you would consider a friend do something that shocks and hurts you? They don't do it directly to you, but instead to someone that you know? That has happened quite a few times since I have lived here. Mainly I have trusted people and they have turned around and disappointed me, broken my trust or acted cruelly towards another person or myself. 

We all have said something or made comments about another, I am sure. Maybe I am too naive, but it brakes my heart that people would do these things. It certainly changed how I felt toward these people. Do I hold it against them? No, but I am a little more guarded around them now? Absolutely. I get that we are all human. I am not perfect. I have broken people's trust, been mean..whatever,,,my point is that we all need to stop and think before we speak and act.

Ellen Degeneres once said something of this nature, "We could all use a few more please and thank yous in our lives." I concur. I wish we could all live a little more from our hearts and a little less from our mean-spirited side. We all, myself included, need to learn and remember that what we give out, we in turn receive. It is like we sometimes forget that we are each humans with families and feelings and our own problems and issues. Living, breathing beings with hearts and brains and FEELINGS.
But as this wonderfully crazy world works, it decided to let me know that all was not lost. Random acts of kindness do still happen. People do act from love.

I was at Costco with my kids, and they got hungry. I had checked out and was going to get them something to eat at the Costco Cafe. I ordered and went to pay and had no cash. I did not realize that you had to pay with cash or check; I only had my debit card. This wonderful lady said, "Here, I'll take care of it." I protested, but she insisted. She said, "Please. It is the least I can do." What a wonderful surprise. And can I say that I was shocked? Seriously. Shocked that someone would help me out and pay for my food when she could have just pointed out the ATM. That is what it is all about people. There is a woman acting out of kindness and love.  

I truly believe that we are all somehow connected. If we could all think of the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," I believe that we might just see a world full of a lot more kindness and a lot less hate.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Abundance: an extremely plentiful or oversufficient quantity or supply.


I know I am abundant in many aspects of my life. I have a nice home, plenty of clothes, two cars...blah, blah, blah. But right now, I seem to have an abundance of thoughts, opinions, and ideas that are forever running through my mind. 

I created this blog, not for anyone else, but for me. I need a place to purge all of the nonsense in my head.  There are so many places that one could do this these days, facebook, twitter, Google+...I could go on and on. But I have seen many a post about "whatever" that offends others, and I am not looking to do that. I know that my opinions and thoughts can sometimes not fit into the square box that so many put themselves into, and if someone somehow reads this, so be it. These are my opinions and no one else's. I am not looking to have a great debate over anything here. Really, I just need to write and get this crap out of my head. So, I could care less if anyone ever reads this.

I will be posting on a plethora of subjects. From fashion to fitness to Jesus and Buddha and anything else that crosses through my pea brain. I won't apologize for my thoughts, for these thoughts; words and opinions are neutral until someone else adds their own feelings and opinions to them. Also, they are mine and at the age of almost 37, I am starting to care less and less what people think of me and my opinions and thank goodness for that. we go.