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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HIIT it Up!

High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, workouts are a phenomenon sweeping the nation. What is it, and is it safe? Read on!

HIIT is a cardio session that consists of short, high intensity bursts. HIIT can be an incredibly effective way to work out to see the body composition and fitness results that you want, but you need to do it right. Numerous studies have shown that working your hardest is key when it comes to boosting endurance, increasing metabolism, regulating insulin levels, and losing body fat. HIIT routines that involve bodyweight work (e.g. push-ups) or added weight, such as kettlebells, medicine balls, or dumbbells, will tone your muscles while spiking your heart rate. All types of exercise will ultimately help you burn fat by burning calories, but the more intense the exercise, the more fat you will burn. As a result, it is a very effective way of helping people get the “shredded” look.

A true HIIT workout will involve pushing yourself to the max during each set, which should never exceed 90 seconds. These workouts are typically quick and convenient since they are such high intensity; they usually are 30 minutes or less. They can also be done virtually anywhere, with little to no equipment. The only stipulation is that you should rest in between sets. This may not be the first thing that comes to mind with such an intense workout, however, it is imperative. Recovery is essential so that the body works to adapt from the anaerobic (high-intensity) period to the low-intensity recovery period in HIIT. This workload results in high caloric expenditure, which can lead to fat loss.

That fat loss also comes from an increase in metabolism, which is a benefit to any high intensity workout. Research shows that this is due to an increase in post-exercise exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. EPOC speeds up your metabolic rate and can result in a metabolic boost for up to 48 hours after a complete HIIT routine! The high intensity cardio raises your metabolic rate to the point where you continue to burn calories even after the session ends—in some cases 15% more.

If weight loss is your ultimate goal, the old saying that you can’t out-train a bad diet is true…even if your workouts are super demanding. HIIT isn’t an excuse to neglect your diet, so keep it clean! By incorporating HIIT training into your exercise regimen and keep your diet in check, you’ll start to see some amazing results!

If you’re looking for a safe, yet awesome HIIT workout to try…subscribe to my weekly series on YouTube! https://youtu.be/1l6TamfSeko?list=PLcrZ2KJHxs8xBs1F3sT3jpUNjFVGGXjjG

Adventures in YouTube Land


Well, folks…the day has finally come. I’ve teamed up with the gym that I manage to create workout videos! It’s something that people have been asking about for a while so when my boss suggested it…I ran with the idea. As great of an opportunity as it is, the venture itself into videoland hasn’t been all roses & sunshine.

I love taking pictures and posing for them. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve had a camera in my hand basically everyday since I was 5 or 6 years old…and I was a ham for the camera long before then. BUT there’s a very big difference between a still photo and a video. That may seem like an obvious statement but let me elaborate.

Despite being heavy on and off my entire life, I still loved taking pictures. I learned how to pose to avoid double chins and look as small as possible. Let’s just say Tyra (and ANTM) taught me very well. I also love taking pictures and capturing memories of pretty much everything and everyone I’m around. It’s always been a big hobby of mine. This new venture…on the internet no less…is an entirely different animal.

I try to be honest about my struggles and this video business has definitely been one. Mentally, that is. Every week we film and as I sit down to edit…I cringe. I love being in front of a camera but when I watch the action shots back, I die a little. I work very hard to be where I am. So when I see rolls on my stomach or a double chin or some sort of flashbacks to fatness staring back at me…it’s like none of that hard work matters. Now, the rolls and whatnot are likely due to my bad posture and discomfort shooting in front of certain people…but it’s still really hard to watch. When you are in a video, you can’t pose. You’re doing some sort of motion, in this case exercising. It’s great when it’s just you talking – you can stand a certain way, get a good angle….but when you are moving around it’s about the action not so much how you look. When I shoot my talking pieces, I have someone behind the camera who I’m very comfortable with and who seemingly calms my nerves, while helping me sort out what to say. It adds more work and more time to the project but it definitely turns out much better this way.

I’m no fitness model. I work really hard to maintain my size 2/4 and keep my weight in the 130s. I found balance with food, where I can enjoy beer & various treat meals without a ton of guilt afterwards. However, I still struggle with body image issues. I have loose skin and suffer from mystery stomach problems…which together can sometimes mean my body doesn’t look like it should. Still, I manage to push all of these internal conflicts aside and I post my videos weekly anyway. I’m not perfect but I know my story is one that many people can relate to…and hopefully my workouts can help someone get started on their journey…just like certain videos helped me. The people watching likely aren’t nitpicking like I am. They are watching the workout and seeing a girl who has struggled her entire life DO IT. So while I may nitpick over some stomach rolls or weird faces., I find comfort in knowing that there may be a girl out there just like me who will watch my video and get motivated to jumpstart their own journey.

I may still struggle mentally…especially with this nagging shoulder rehab…but deep down I know that I’m not the same 210lb girl I used to be. Mentally or physically. While I can’t do many of the things that I want to do or that I used to do, I’m learning to adapt. The old Gina would’ve given up the minute she got hurt…and probably gained all of the weight back. This Gina has finally figured it out. It’s not easy. Every single day is a struggle but I try my best to put one foot in front of the other to keep going. I’m not the girl I used to be – and I’m so much better for it.

If you want to check out my Fight to be Fit video playlist, you can find it here. I welcome any & all feedback!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

Mission Hot Body version 2.0 – Day 1

Here we go!! Day 1 of this 6-week summer shred…aka Mission Hot Body version 2.0 is here! My workout didn’t happen today…because myself a new car! Being stuck at the dealership way longer than anticipated didn’t leave me any time to workout as I initially planned. Oh well…life happens sometimes. This is how my week will shape out, to adjust for not working out today:

  • Tuesday – legs
  • Wednesday – PT
  • Thursday – cardio
  • Friday – PT
  • Saturday – legs
  • Sunday – cardio

There is some wiggle room with my weekend but that’s my plan as of right now. Despite having tons of junk in the house – I stuck to my guns and was very strict with my diet today. Here’s what day 1 looked like:

Breakfast:

  • 1/4 cup of oats with cinnamon & flax
  • Caramel latte protein coffee (made with almond milk)

Snack: 100 calorie almonds

Lunch:

  • tuna with avocado (4oz)
  • carrots

Snack: RX bar

Dinner:

  • Two turkey cutlets (4 oz)
  • 2 oz butternut squash
  • 2 oz string beans
  • Salad with chick peas and a sprinkle of cheese tossed very lightly with balsamic vinegar and a drop of olive oil
  • Raspberry like seltzer (2 cups)

Water – 6 glasses 

Macros on point 👌🏻


Looking forward to another day of delicious food…and a hardcore workout. Have a good night everyone 🤘🏻

-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

A Healthy & Happy End to Summer

Image result for end of summer bbqSummer’s (sadly) coming to a close. I’m sure by now you think you have it all figured out and can throw the best BBQ party anyone has ever been to. However, I’m willing to bet there are many things you haven’t even thought of when it comes to hosting a healthy feast for your family & friends. In this post, I’ll give you some of my tips as well as some healthy ideas to end the summer of 2016 with a bang! Let’s get started!

One of my favorite ways to cook is on the grill. I wish that I lived in a climate that made this possible year-round but since I don’t right now…I’m stuck with it being summer only. Grilling gives everything such amazing flavor and it’s super easy for prep and clean-up. When people think of BBQ, they typically think of burgers and hot dogs BUT there are so many more options! You can make chicken, turkey burgers, vegetables, fish…virtually anything your heart desires. You can also use this BBQ time as meal prep for your week ahead. Grill some extra meats and you will be set for the entire week! The best advice I can give anyone when preparing for a Labor Day BBQ…or any get together – spend a little extra time planning the menu. Think of your guests and what they like…but also think of healthy options. Make your list, check local sales, and head to the store for those items. By being a little prepared, you will end up being a lot less stressed and your entire event will run much smoother.

In addition to the grill, you will need to think of snacks. One great option to pair with platters of chips, pretzels, & crudités is Chobani Mezé Dip™. Mezé Dips™ are made from Greek yogurt and real vegetables with only natural, non-GMO ingredients and no artificial flavors or preservatives. They come in flavors such as Roasted Red Pepper, Chili Lime, Three Pepper Salsa, and Smoked Onion Parmesan. Best of all, they are low in calories and good for you! Try that instead of traditional dip or hummus this weekend 🙂

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As far as side dishes go, have your guests bring something they love. This will keep everyone involved and cut down on your own prep time…and expenses.

Now then…the drinks. I’ve written about this in a previous post however this is such a common diet buster at get-togethers…it’s worth mentioning again. You have to be smart about it. Enjoy a light beer or skinny cocktail but save the calories for the delicious food instead. Trust me, you won’t regret that choice!

Lastly, and my least favorite – cleaning up. The best part of a BBQ party is how low maintenance it all really is. Head to your local Dollar Tree or dollar store and stock up on paper goods – tablecloth, napkins, plates, utensils, cups – get it all. While you’re there, get a few bowls and aluminum tins as well. When the party is over, you can throw everything away!! The only clean up required will be your grill (and putting away any leftovers, of course).

No matter where you go or what you do this weekend, make sure to enjoy every second. Life is too short to spend it unhappy. Stay safe  & stay healthy everyone!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com