Starting My Fitness Journey…Over Again

It’s a painful journey, this.  It’s hardcore enough when you take it on the first time, but after bum knees have forced you to sit on the sidelines for 5 months?  Getting your fitness groove back on is hard.  Especially when you were getting really good pre-injury, and you remember how easily all these exercises used to come to you, before you stopped doing them all…it’s really enough to make you cry.

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But “re-fitting” myself needs to be done, sometime.  And “now” is always the best time to start those sometime-things.

SO.  Because I like to plan things and because I like nice, neat little starting dates for all my antics, a while back I designated May to be the month of getting my badassery back.  Selfishness aside, I want to look awesome in my Carnegie Hall dress at the end of the month.  I want to look okay in my swimsuit during my Costa Rica vacation (!!) in June.  I want to put in some good, hard, sweaty work I can be proud of–I have missed exercise SO MUCH.

In terms of exercise, I’d like to take my own advice and start following some of the tips in this post for working out with my knee issues.  And putting into practice some of the moves from The Bum Knee Workout.  I LOVE cardio, so it’s harder for me to work up the chutzpah to bust out a strength-training-session, but that needs to happen more often as well.  I want to move more on a daily basis–this will include the more simple stuff like pacing during a phone call, taking a stroll outside with free time rather than surfing the glorious YouTube, indulging in little childhood things (like hopscotch and swinging and jumping rope and trampolining–because Spring has finally, finally hit here!).  You know, as opposed to living on the internet.  Though that’s fun, and by no means am I abandoning the blogosphere for any length of time.

I also want to make really-super-extra-sure I continue my physical therapy and put my focus into it, rather than just zoning and rotely doing leg-lifts.  Though it keeps being pushed back, the tentative date for a running assessment and a reintroduction into the world of human propulsion is about 3 weeks from now.

And, of course…

This apple has little apple abs. It’s “hard”-“core” 😉 Get it..?

This graphic is from an older post on Sprint2theTable…yes, it’s older, but it’s exactly what I need right now.  Healthy eating and regular exercising often go hand in hand for me–if I’m not consistently working out, for some whacked reason it makes more sense for me to overindulge and lounge around on the laptop popping dark chocolate into my mouth by the bar.  (Somehow I’m not obese…)  As I work to redefine my body, I also want to clear up my diet; for me, this will mean changes including:

  • amp up vegetable levels!

Yeah, I’m a vegetarian.  Yeah, I eat reasonably healthy.  But yeah, I NEED to bump up my veggie consumption!  Come on, TGITO…girl cannot thrive on only one serving of the green stuff a day.  I want to broaden my vegetable horizons, eat more salads (it’s summer now; yay! farmer’s market here I come!), and cook more veggie-centric dishes.  I want to play with variety and spices.

  • no (processed) sugar except for weekly cheat

This is important for me, since I know that personally once I have some sugar it is all too easy to just stick my face in a bag of C&H and just snort the stuff.  (Erm…not really…)  Point is, it’s a slippery slope.  I just want to make a point to avoid empty calories in my diet, that don’t really enrich my life beyond the taste experience.

  • replace refined grains w/ whole

‘Nuff said.  Bye-bye, pasta, white tortillas, baguettes.

  • reduce grain consumption overall

I’d like to experiment with eating more on the paleo side (haha…paleo vegetarian, haha…); macronutrient-wise, at any rate.  I want to see how I perform, feel, and look on a diet that’s higher in protein and fat; I’d like to gain muscle, and I feel like I listen to my natural satiety cues better with proteins and fats.  Carbs are all too easy to overeat!

  • weekly meal prep so no “emergency” disasters

THIS is the BIGGIE, folks!  I always tell myself I will get my week of meals prepped out on Sunday, and it is never so!  Really, I’d like to develop a system that I actually carry out that would enable me a whole-grain source, lots of chopped-up veggies, some prepared protein sources, and some homemade frozen meals (e.g. soups, rice/quinoa dishes and the like) for when the time crunch gets really dastardly.  I’m drawing my inspiration from here and here and fixin’ up a Pinterest board for weekly recipes and tips as well.

Grab button for TGITO

<div class=TGITO-button style=width: 400px; margin: 0 auto;>
<a href=http://thegirlintheorange.com/2013/05/04/may-shapeup/ rel=nofollow>
<img src=https://thegirlintheorange.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/may-shapeup-button-1.jpg alt=May Shapeup width=400 height=300 />
</a>
</div>

Behold, the official “May Shapeup” Button!  ^^I am becoming a veritable HTML coding master. 😉 I’ll be Instagramming and Pinning my way through my moves and meals this month–if you’d like to join in, use the hashtag #mayshapeup on pins, instagrams, and tweets, and link up any “proof” posts with the button!

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Working Out As It Stands Now

The title of this post was a pun.  If you’re a regular here, you know all about my knees and their lack of function.  Ive honestly lamented them to heck and hope they stay there…there won’t be a lot of standing for me for a while.   😉

Since I’ve been living with these excruciating joint maladies for four months now, I’ve had to find some form of exercise to keep me sane.  While I’m still not at optimum activity level, and on a “bad knee week” I barely move, much less exercise, necessity has driven me toward some creative solutions for my daily endorphin fix.  I really, really wish I’d had someone to write this post for me when I was first injured, so I didn’t waste a few months of complete inactivity, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to exercise until the pain was completely gone!

*On that note, my little disclaimer here: I am not a certified or registered dietician, doctor, personal trainer, or anything.  All “advice” taken from me is meant to be taken with a grain of salt!  I could prove quite dangerous!  If you are experiencing severe abnormal joint pain PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE consult whoever your regular physician is–“working through pain” is never a good idea.  With my knees I try simply to work “around” already-diagnosed pain, because I have a doctor’s OK, and because I’ve found some exercises I can complete without aggravating it further.  Stay safe, kids.*

The Girl in the Orange’s Post-Injury Exercise Routine (Tips for Would-Be Runners!)

The biggest shift in my exercise routine, post-injury, has been the transition from mainly cardio (running) to mainly strength training.  I strength train almost every other day now, and while I don’t feel like it quite satisfies the runner’s need for cardio–the need to have your cheeks red and burning with your breath catching in your throat at the end of a workout, the need to push yourself faster and farther–it’s something.  Problem is, the majority of colloquial strength training exercises involve weighted bending of the knees (squats, anyone? lunges? dips?), which, to put it mildly, would feel like a dagger being driven under my kneecap and twisting to pry the kneecap from the bone…SO I obviously needed a workaround. 🙂  Many of the exercises in my Bum Knee Workout have found their way into my regular strength-training routine, even though I don’t really perform the workout verbatum (can you perform a workout verbatum?) often.  Bicep curls, for instance.  Lots of work with the resistance band.  My arms are getting a whole lot of focus in my training, but I’ve also shifted to include more ab work–planks, crunches, V-Ups, and the like.  Check out the Fitnessista Ab Burners for quickie ab workouts when you don’t have enough time for a full sweat session!

Physical Therapy has been working on my leg strength–I only wish I’d started doing the exercises WAAY earlier.  They’re simple–I’m doing leg raises, side leg raises, and bridges.  All things that involve little or no bending of the knee or stress placed on the joint, and yet when done daily they’ve proven to be really effective at increasing muscle mass and toning.  (Happy aside: during my session today I’ve been proclaimed as making mass improvements, and may be able to start up that introductory running routine as soon as two weeks after spring break!  Gaah!)  If you’re injured, building the strength in your quadriceps is really crucial in helping with alignment of the joints, and when you do get back to “regular” activity, a strong muscle will help you from placing so much stress on the joint.  Three cheers for leg raises!

If you get bored of simple calisthenics, there are SOME mild forms of cardio us cripples can partake in.  Hula hooping has proved pretty painless for me, plus it whittles your middle!–but I agree that you can only hoop for so long. 🙂  If you have access to some basic exercise tools, there’s always the WaveMaster (aka punching bag)

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ready for a good pummeling when you are.  Sure, you may not be able to kick, but you can probably get in some wicked uppercuts and practice your fighting stance.  As a bonus, you feel beastly afterward.

Other simple weight training tools include inflatable exercise ballsdumbells (duh), and a weight cage with pull-up bar…maybe refrain from hack squats with iffy knees though. 😉

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Oh, and don’t forget yoga!  While you want to be careful of poses that aggravate your condition, (Warriors, Crescents and Dancer–I’m lookin’ at you) most yoga poses will provide a gentle stretch that, for me at least, has proven to be very therapeutic to ailing joints.

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Any fellow cripples out there with advice to share with the group?  If you remember one thing going into a sports-injury recovery period, I would say keep focused on doing your best NOW–not aggravating your condition, listening to your physical therapist, etc., and being patient with yourself (honestly, you’re not going to keep your chiseled abs with so few exercises available to you, sorry).  But there’s certainly no harm in looking forward to the future when you’ll be back to full health! 🙂