Road to Recovery – 1 year later

 

From day one to now

 

June 2014 – After training for months, I took part in the ROC race (think of the tv show, Wipeout). I trained like I had for Spartan races, focusing on my upper body above all. The day came and I was ready. I flew through the obstacles and then I got to the monkey bars. Historically, I was never any good at those. I was the little kid who’s parents had to hold her as she went across. But that wasn’t gonna stop me. I trained hard, doing many pull-ups. I could do this! I made it half way without a problem. Then I felt something pop and burn. I grabbed my shoulder and let myself fall. I shook it off and continued the race, finishing all smiles. In the weeks and months that followed, that smile quickly faded. At first I thought maybe I pulled a muscle or something…but it wasn’t getting any better. I continued to workout and work around my injury until one day I realized there was no muscle growth on my bad arm. I couldn’t take it any more.

October 7, 2016 – I finally went under the knife to repair a nagging shoulder injury. After trying my best for two years to rehab and “fix” it on my own, I realized that my injury only getting worse. I went to the doctor and was immediately sent for a MRI, which revealed that I had a torn labrum and, because I waited so long, a frayed rotator cuff. The doctor was clear that while I didn’t HAVE to get surgery, the longer I wait the worse it will get…and the less likely I would be to get back to full strength. So I begrudgingly scheduled the surgery.

I’ve never had a broken bone much less surgery like this before. I had my tonsils out when I was 11 or 12 but nothing like this. Despite being clumsy my entire life, I somehow managed to escape the ER. Yet here I was – ready to undergo surgery. I wasn’t so much nervous for the actual surgery as I was for the recovery. I wasn’t wrong.

The surgery itself went fairly well, despite a nonsensical hiccup at the hospital the morning of. I was given a nerve block, meaning my entire arm was numb and feeling fantastic post-op. Until around 3am anyway. They say you should stay ahead of the pain and medicate. I didn’t want to overuse the drugs that I was given…so I didn’t listen. Big mistake. I learned good from that though and made sure to keep ahead of things for the next couple of days. I was religated to sleeping on a recliner for that first week…and almost a month in total. I couldn’t lay down without being in terrible pain so I gave up and slept like that. It killed my back but at least I was able to get some rest.

One week later, I went back for my first follow-up. I was given a clunky, yet very sturdy, sling/support device. I was also told that I couldn’t drive for at least another week, meaning I couldn’t go to work. I hate to sit still so this killed me. It’s important to note that I’m right handed…and the surgery was on my right shoulder. So this meant EVERYTHING was a chore. Basic things like showering and eating became a ridiculous task. 2 weeks after surgery I was able to return to work and begin getting back to “normal.” Which…wasn’t much. I couldn’t do many tasks at my job and I had to drive with my left hand (no sling could be worn…which hurt more than one may think). It wasn’t easy at all but I was determined. I also began physical therapy twice a week, which was a godsend. They got me moving again and helped me regain my strength.

Little by little, with the help of PT, I was able to get back to normal. A couple of months later, my insurance decided to stop paying for PT and that was that. I kept at it on my own, best I could. I had the idea of enlisting help from my co-worker, who specializes in massage therapy along with personal training. I knew that I needed help with correcting the bad form that I created and while I may be a trainer myself, it’s much more difficult to correct things on yourself. See, over the two years that I was injured I had to adapt and make changes to compensate for the pain. Some I knew I was doing…but many I didn’t. So I got the help that I needed and was well on my way to pain-free workouts…or so I thought.

March 1, 2017 – just under 5 months post-op and I was cleared for all physical activity. The doctor was really impressed with my progress, saying that I was healing faster than most. I wasn’t given any restrictions!  Sounds great, right? It was…except I know no limits and paid the price for that. I began working out the same as I always had…which produced the same pain it had in the past. As I write this, my eyes are rolling HARD. It was stupid to stop the PT warmups and just jump full speed ahead. People tried to tell me that – I didn’t listen. The following month, I began my 6 week summer shred. I went balls to the wall in my workouts and by the end I looked great…but my arm was killing me.

I went back to the doctor, fearful that I did serious damage again. Lucky for me, doc didn’t think I did anything to my shoulder but he did think that I was suffering from some bicep tendinitis. I was told to scale back my workouts and to rest more. This completely deflated me.

Since then, I haven’t worked out much. I do weekly workout videos and often feel pain in the days that follow. It’s extremely discouraging but I have decided enough is enough. I was able to get back to full strength in just under 5 months…so I damn sure can get there again. I’m not the most patient person but I’m learning how to be better. I began my PT regimen over the weekend and my plan is to do that 3-4x per week (not counting other workouts). I will also enlist the help of my coworker again- not so much for the corrective stuff but for the magical ART work that he does.

I want to ease my shoulder back into things this time. Knowing how I get, I’ve decided to work towards a couple of goals to keep me motivated. My first goal is to do pull-ups again…and do them unassisted. After all, they were one of my favorite exercises. I’m pretty sure that’s how I blew my shoulder out but maybe if I don’t overtrain and do it right, I can do them better than before. Another goal of mine is to do another Spartan race. That’s not on the forfront as I’m a little skiddish about hurting myself unnecessarily…but it IS something I’d love to do again. Lastly, and maybe most important, my goal is to have pain-free workouts. That is going to require A LOT of patience but I’m going to do my very best.

This injury has taught me many valuable lessons. I need to be patient and truly trust the process. I don’t do myself any favors rushing things. No one tells you how hard this is mentally. Everyone focuses so much on the physical aspect that the mental is all but forgotten. After going through this myself, I’ll tell you the mental is so much more important. If you can’t will yourself through the pain and will yourself to do the work, you’ll never recover. It’s truly a testimony of your inner strength so much more than physical.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an injury or injury recovery, know that it DOES get better. Take the time you need to rest and really take the time to get to know your body. It’s a long process but you will come out on the other side…stronger than before.

Until next time, stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

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Summer Shred, Day 5 – FriYAY vibes 

Happy FriYAY!! Day 5 wasn’t as amazing as I hoped. The PT session was definitely not as hardcore as it could’ve been…thanks to a nagging bicep issue. That issue has been plaguing me since my surgery and for whatever reason it picked today to act up. I got in a semi-decent workout nonetheless and was even able to get some ART/Massage work done to it afterward.


At least my diet…and macros…were on point. Here’s what that looked like:

Breakfast:

  • 3 egg whites scrambled with a sprinkle of cheese, 4 pieces of asparagus, a handful of balsamic mushrooms
  • Caramel latte protein coffee (with almond milk)

Post-Workout: Phormula1 chocolate shake (with water)

Lunch:

  • 3 oz ground turkey
  • 3 oz kale
  • 1 oz mushrooms
  • 4 pieces of asparagus

Snacks:

  • 100 calorie almonds
  • Iced coffee with almond milk & 1 Splenda
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries with crystal light lemonade (to kill my sugar craving)

Dinner:

  • 3 oz tilapia
  • 1 oz butternut squash
  • 4 oz string beans
  • 2 mushroom caps
  • Salad with sprinkle of cheese, 1/2 cup chick peas, and homemade balsamic vinegarette


Tomorrow is going to be a hectic day but I’m going to try to get some extra cardio in…and keep my diet in check. Have good night everyone!

-Gina

Heart Healthy Habits

February is American Heart Month, which focuses on the prevention of cardiovascular (or heart) disease. Cardiovascular is a term which relates to the heart, as well as the arteries and veins that supply our organs with blood. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States.  Many Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease such as high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, or an unhealthy diet. Your risk also increases with age; however, regardless of age, it is NEVER too early to start practicing heart-healthy habits. Here are a few steps you can begin implementing at any age:

  • Check your family history. Ask family members if they have had heart disease or any risk factors for it. If the answer is yes, you have an increased chance for developing the disease will go up so it’s definitely important to learn the information sooner rather than later.
  • Smoking will double your risk for heart disease and stroke. Avoid all smoke, including second hand. Plus smoking combined with certain oral contraceptives can cause an increase in your blood pressure, so women should be sure to choose their birth control carefully.
  • Know your numbers, such as your cholesterol and blood pressure, which will impact your heart health. Visit your doctor regularly to monitor both of these. As we age, it becomes increasingly more critical to monitor changes in our body so make sure to get those regular checkups and screenings.
  • Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can also make diabetes more likely to develop. By losing as little as 10 pounds, you can lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet & exercise regularly. As we age, our dietary needs, as well as physical limits, may change. However, regardless of your age, making smart food choices and keeping yourself active will insure a longer lifespan. A good rule of thumb is to follow these guidelines:
    • Eat more fruits & vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry/fish, and nuts.
    • Avoid red meat, as well as sugary and processed foods, and foods high in sodium.
    • For overall cardiovascular health, the AHA suggests 30 minutes of aerobic activity, 5 days per week along with muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week.
  • Regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression & anger. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen, which directly affects the brain. Long term stress will cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to damage of the artery walls. Find ways to reduce and/or manage your stress at home and at work. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques. A stressful situation will almost always cause your quality of sleep to decline, which can also impact your heart health.
  • Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle is also dependent on getting enough sleep. People who don’t sleep enough are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits.Studies show that adults who sleep fewer than six hours per night are about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Good-quality sleep decreases the work of your heart, as blood pressure and heart rate go down at night. Lack of sleep can also increase insulin resistance, a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Making small adjustments to your daily routine will dramatically improve your overall quality of life. Remember – it’s never too early!! Take action today so you can look forward to a healthier tomorrow!

Fighting to be Fit…3 Years later!!

 

I’m about a week late but…Happy 3-year Blogiversary to all of us!! Thank you all for your continued support as we Fight to be Fit!

I had big plans for this little blog last year but life had different ideas. 2016 was a rough year for most of us…and I was no exception. I suffered a major setback with my health, in the form of severe chronic fatigue and the reappearance of my PCOS symptoms. On top of that, my shoulder finally gave out on me & I had no choice but to undergo surgery. It’s been a really long road…but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

For starters, I’m officially 3-months post op! Although I still have pain, I’m 1000% better than I was before. My range of motion isn’t perfect but it’s definitely improved. I’m finally able to raise my arms above my head without pain, which is something I haven’t been able to do in over two years! Despite my progress, I get in my head a lot. I think about how hard I worked and where I was before this injury happened. My workouts have resumed but they are nothing like they once were. It’s a huge adjustment mentally but I’m trying my very best to focus on the positives. I may not be able to lift heavy or do the exercises I once loved, but I will be able to soon. Deep down I know that if I push myself too far too soon, I will only make matters worse…and set myself back even further.

As far as my health goes, I have good and bad days. My chronic fatigue has gotten much better, which I believe is due in large part to a supplement called Adrenal Restore. That shit is magic. I wrote a whole review about it last year…and everything still holds true today. My PCOS symptoms have been horrible. I’ve developed pretty debilitating migraines, which sent me to the ER earlier in the year. All things considered though, that’s been mostly under control and since that episode have rarely happened.

The surgery mixed with my health issues definitely set me back with my weight loss. I gained back a good 20lbs over the last year….and it definitely wasn’t muscle. I went from weighing over 200lbs to getting myself ripped to something in the middle.

I won’t pretend that I’m happy about the setbacks or that I’m proud of where I’m at. However, despite my physical setbacks I learned that mentally I’m stronger than ever. Sure I have bad days like everyone else…but rather than get discouraged by the bad I’m using it as motivation. I know if I keep working hard and stick to a (mostly) clean diet, I will see great results. Hell, I’m already seeing some drastic improvements!

November 2016 >> December 2016

Being on a weight loss journey really teaches you the art of patience…and about yourself. We are all much stronger than we know and it’s not until we are truly put to the test that we realize our full potential. That being said, I won’t make any elusive promises or grand gestures as we go into our 4th year. My goal is simple: continue to inspire all of you reading and give you all hope that no matter how hard life gets or what obstacles you face, it IS possible. After all, nothing worth having comes easy 🙂

Let’s all continue this Fight to be Fit together throughout 2017…& beyond!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

 

Turning a Setback into a Comeback

img_0451Happy holidays everyone!! I am a little over 2 months post-op and I’m feeling great!! Slowly but surely I’m getting back to normalcy. My pain is almost non-existent and I have been using real weights in physical therapy!! I’m amazed by how quickly I’ve been able to bounce back…and how little pain I experience daily.

Now that I have a semi-normal routine again, here’s how it goes: Mondays and Thursdays is physical therapy. Each session lasts about 45 minutes, during which time I start with the arm bike then proceed on to more fun activities 🙂  I usually start with the seated row followed by lat pulldowns. As of this week, I’m up to 50lbs on the row – which is more than ever before! For the pulldowns, I’m typically at 40lbs but on a good day we go a little heavier. After 3 sets of 10 on both machines, I move along to use the TRX bands which I use for two exercises – The T and The Y.


I always hated TRX and with my current situation, it’s that much worse. Still, I do what I’m told so as to get back to doing what I love on my own. After the TRX (and a healthy dose of complaining), I head over to the tables where get stretched and do a few sets of dumbbell exercises. These include side raises, shoulder extension, and external rotation. Then I stand up to do jumping jacks…without jumping but with weights. My weights for all of these exercises range from 7lbs down to 3, depending on my pain tolerance (which my therapist gauges from the faces I make, since I rarely complain about the weight itself). I also do a swimming exercise, which I must say, is probably one of the most miserable things I’ve done yet. However, like everything else I’m sure a month from now I will sing a different tune. I drop to the floor for a few rounds of shoulder push-ups (or cat-cow) followed by plank to push-up. Lastly, is the VERY best part – ICE!


Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been cleared for any cardio that I desire…so I’ve been taking advantage of that by doing it on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Last week, I also got cleared to begin doing bicep curls and tricep pushdowns on my own! Since all of this is happening, I have begun the process of meal prepping so as to keep my diet in check. I haven’t weighed myself but the transformation I’ve seen in just a couple weeks is crazy!

It’s not perfect but it’s some serious progress! I am SO much further along in my recovery than I ever dreamed. So while I’m not where I wanna be….this is a DAMN good start! The biggest struggle for me thus far has been overcoming the mental aspect. I’ve been out of commission, workout wise, for several months. Seeing how my metabolism works, I know that if I don’t workout I will gain weight. And unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. I worked really hard to get where I am and have been working tirelessly to build a career based on helping others do the same. Seeing myself slide backwards wasn’t pretty but I made it through. As with everything else, whatever struggle or hardship we face often makes us stronger in the end. So rather than dwell on the negatives, I’m taking my setback and using it to form my biggest comeback yet! If you are facing any obstacle, I challenge you to do the same. After all, pain is temporary…but quitting lasts forever.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

 

On the Mend

Lots of things have gone down since my last blog. One of the most significant things being my shoulder surgery. After two years of dealing with aches & pains, I finally sought help…and finally had corrective surgery to fix what had been ailing me all along. The injury itself began to negatively impact my own workouts and sleeping patterns as well as how I train clients…so it definitely needed to be done.

How It Happened – In June 2014, I participated in the ROC race. You’ve seen it – the race that mimics the TV show, Wipeout?? I trained hard for months and focused a lot of time on building my upper body strength – something that has long been a weak spot for me. The day arrived and things were going great…until I got to the monkey bars. Now, I’ve never been able to do monkey bars without assistance but I was determined. I made it halfway across when suddenly I felt a pop and instant burning in my shoulder. I immediately dropped down. Even though I felt some pain, I wanted to complete the race so I pushed through and finished all smiles. All good, right? Nope.

In the weeks and months that followed, I noticed that I wasn’t able to raise my right arm properly or lift has heavy as usual. In fact, most of the exercises that I was accustomed to doing at the gym were becoming impossible. I decided to take a couple of months off in the hopes of healing and rehabbing the injured arm myself. What I thought would be temporary actually never got better at all…in fact it got worse. This year, I began noticing that my right arm wasn’t developing muscles like the left was. It looked as though I had only been using one dumbbell. Any exercise involving my shoulder or overhead ROM was completely out of the question. My sleeping patterns were also thrown totally off. I’m typically a side to stomach sleeper…my right side. I tried to adjust to sleeping on the opposite side but noticed quickly that was easier said than done. If I happened to roll over in my sleep and end up on that right side, my right shoulder would be as big as a balloon when I woke up. It got to the point where if I felt myself rolling over, I’d actually wake up out of a dead sleep to make sure that I didn’t end up on that right side. It was becoming a nightmare. Enough was enough – is was time to see a doctor.

MRI – Over the summer, I sought help from a local surgeon who instructed me to get an arthogram (MRI with contrast) of my shoulder. Upon review of this test, it revealed my worst fear – I had a tear in my shoulder after all. My labrum was completely torn off and since I had waited so long, part of my rotator cuff was beginning to fray as well. The only way to rectify this problem was to get surgery.

Surgery –  After some scheduling conflicts, my surgery date was finally set for October 7. Things with my clients have been slowing down a bit so I decided that it would be best to go under the knife now, rather than have it drag through the holidays. I did just that and while the day didn’t start out so smooth, the surgery itself went very well. They were able to successfully repair the labrum and clean up the frayed edges of my rotator cuff without any further complications.

One Week Follow-Up and Beginning of PT – About a week after my surgery, I went back to check on the wounds and to receive my physical therapy prescription. Since the surgery was an arthoscopy, there were 3 small incisions where they were able to repair the tear. This is what it looked like:

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My doctor instructed me to attend physical therapy 3x per week for the next 12 weeks. They also changed my bandages and gave me a new sling with a detachable pillow piece to help support my arm. It was a very cumbersome device and I was less than thrilled with it:

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I signed up that same day for PT and was given an appointment for a few days later. That first day I was very excited to get things started and finally begin my road to recovery.

 

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The therapist who did my initial evaluation and first session wasn’t a great fit for me so I requested a different therapist…and I’ve been with him ever since. I was allotted 20 sessions by my insurance, which does not cover the amount of sessions that my doctor wants me to have. I had to obtain a letter from my doctor in order to gain more sessions from my insurance. For the first three weeks, we did PT just once a week so as not to waste the sessions so early on. We worked on passive ROM & stretches and I was given one exercise called shoulder pendulums, to do twice a day at-home. As excited as I was to get moving, I quickly learned that the best and most exciting part of a physical therapy session is the last 10 minutes…when the pillow-sized ice pack comes out!

As of today, I began a slightly more active PT session. I was given several exercises to do mostly on my own, with minimal help from the therapist. I also increased my sessions to 2x per week and was told to stop my at-home exercises altogether for now.

Going Forward:  Since this is my 4th week post-op, I am now able to wear the sling part-time and slowly get back to normalcy. I will continue to sleep with it, as I had a rude awakening when I attempted to sleep without it this past weekend. I woke up in the middle of the night in so much pain that I decided it’s not worth the effort right now. My shoulder feels like it’s being weighed down without the sling so I will be keeping it with me and switching between having it off & on.

This whole situation has definitely done a number on me mentally. Being out of commission for this long as caused me to gain some weight and lose a good chunk of muscle. Not only have I been unable to exercise…my diet hasn’t been that great either. Once I’m actually cleared for some type of cardio, I intend on following a very strict diet to lose the excess weight and get back on track once & for all. I will keep you all posted on my progress and once I’m able, I will definitely share my light workouts and new diet plan. For now, I will just try to remain positive and pray that with my continued PT efforts & some more time to heal I’ll be back to doing what I love sooner rather than later…and be even stronger than ever before!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina