Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Pre-Race Jitters (nerves, anxiety, etc.)

Guess what, it is normal to be nervous before a Triathlon, Marathon, 5K, etc. It does not matter at what level your fitness is, it is human nature, so just breathe and try to relax.

Easier said than done, right? Everyone has their own way to calm down, but there are some things that can go a long way to help the week before your race/event.
  1. Remember all the work you have put into training, and be ok with your current level of fitness. Maintain as clean a diet and good hydration as possible, up to your race/event. I would also suggest sticking with foods you are familiar with, and not try that new protein bar, etc. in the event it doesn’t like you so much.
  2. Make a list of what items you need with you, pre-pack your bag, ready your water/electrolytes/snacks you will need during the race. For me music is key on the later legs of the Tri, so making sure you have a proper play list to keep you pushing through the harder bits really helps me, and it is fun to review your favorite songs (and sing) when stressed, maybe even get up and dance about the kitchen a bit to let go of some of the anxiety/nerves building up.
  3. Remember you can tweak the activities in the event. If you find a portion of the event is causing you pain or concern, you can tweak it. Ex. if you started your swim too fast and got winded (it happens to a lot of people), turn over on your back and either back stroke or do a stroke called the penguin – where you reach above your head and scoop the water down towards your sides with both hands; or if a knee starts to hurt on the run/walk, maybe swap out to the elliptical, which can be less painful to an injured knee. Just know the race is not set in stone, especially the Lipedema Triathlon, which is all about inclusivity – we want as many people as possible to try to do whatever they are comfortable with – it is a community race, no stress, everyone there is thrilled you are there, or online supporting them. A way to assist in calming the nerves of the what ifs, is to come up with some alternative things you can do should you need to adjust your movements.
  4. Take a walk, get a massage, play in the pool, do things that help calm you down. Even take a nap (or two or three). Sleep is good when nerves are flaring up. Especially the night before, get a good night’s sleep. Instead of running through the race events in your mind while you can’t fall asleep, think about all the workouts, training, and activities you have been doing to get your body ready for the event. Swinging sledge hammers, flipping tires, taking walks, swimming, etc. Break down each thing you have done, and how it made you feel strong, happy, exhausted, etc. Before you know it going through all those sessions will be just like counting sheep and hopefully you drift off to sleep. But if you cannot fall asleep, try not to stress about it, listen to some music and envision yourself finishing each leg of the Tri. 
  5. On the morning of the event, try to stay positive, remember you are badass just for signing up for the race! Have fun, swimming is fun, riding a bike is fun, and running/walking can be fun (did you catch my least favorite there LOL) – but in all honesty, after being nearly immobile five years ago, I find each part is a huge thrill – for my body to be able to do what I’m about to ask of it, is the biggest reward. I remind myself five years ago I couldn’t have swum, biked, or walked these distances. I literally thank my Lipedema legs for all they are letting me experience.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


For the last two years we setup and completed the first two Lipedema triathlons, with the help of my training mates, friends and the Saratoga Springs YMCA.

I am happy to say the Saratoga Springs YMCA once again is letting us hold the triathlon at their facility, and once again, they want to open it up to others (outside of Lipedema) that have mobility concerns, I love what the YMCA stands for and how it tries to be inclusive of all body types and mobilities.

As I found out in our first year, triathlon races vary in distance, the one we focus on is the Sprint: 750-meter (0.47-mile) swim, 20-kilometer (12-mile) bike, 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run/walk. 

Here is a break down of what we will be doing come June 23:

Swim - The most common pool sizes built today are either 25 meters or 50 meters (Olympic size) so 750 meters will be 30 lengths in the smaller pool and 15 lengths in the Olympic.

Bike - Most bikes (road or stationary) calculate mileage, but if not , just calculate your speed (MPH) by your duration to get you to 12 miles.

Run/Walk - Most treadmills calculate mileage; or if using a standard indoor track (200 meters), you would need to do 25 laps for a 5K. If using a standard outdoor track (400 meters), you would need to do 12.5 laps.

A big part of our efforts to include as many people as possible, is to make the event virtual (meaning you can do it anywhere - in your own hometown, on your block, in your your favorite gym, in the park, etc.). You can choose to do it as a relay as well. Just get a friend or two and each take a section of the race. Or get a group and each take a lap of the swim and/or a portion of each section of the race. 

If you want to do the entire race, but not sure you can complete it in the 9am-1pm timeframe, spread it out over the entire month of June. However you want to be involved, we want you to do so.

Here is a link to sign up: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080448abad2fa57-lipedema2

Want to help, but not able to participate? You can donate to either the Saratoga Springs YMCA or Fat Disorders Research in honor of the Lipedema Triathlon. Both are great charities doing a lot to help us spread awareness and fight back. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Body Positive

Did you know the body positive movement has been around since 1997, and there was a fat acceptance movement in the 60’s? I didn’t.  I learned about the movement well after being diagnosed with Lipedema in 2007.

It was actually only a few years ago when I joined a couple body positive support groups on facebook that I really began to understand the movement. One group was for fashion, and the other two were for fitness. All of these groups had one thing in common; they were filled with people like me, posting pictures of themselves in a very loving way.

At the time I just lurked. I wanted to find out where these people shopped. I wanted to see what other bodies my size were doing for fitness.

They had rules, too, no weight loss talk, period. They were perfect as is, in that very moment.

It really got me thinking about my body, my Lipedema body, how I saw it, and how I wanted to see it.

I knew what I did for my body, all the effort I put in to make it as strong and healthy as possible, and I knew if others looked at me, they would have no idea what I did for it, how I cared for it. 

I decided that I had to start showing others what I did, not only to explain what I was doing to my Lipedema Fitness support group members, but also so others could see my body doing fitness.

I had been training with my CrossFit coach and mates in the park for several years, but I started taking pictures and videos of what I was doing and where I was doing it. I posted those pictures and videos on the Lipedema Fitness support group first. Then eventually I started posting them on the body positive support groups, too.

I was blown away by the positive responses. The comments of inspiration and how they were trying the movements and modifications my coach was so good at coming up with.

One day, back in January, a member of one of those body positive fitness groups (Kristen Pednaud) commented on a video I posted (it was of me finally being able to lift a heavy bag from a squat position). Her comment was “OMG you’re a warrior” and then a few moments later she posted this cartoon image (that she drew of me) saying “I hope you don’t mind”.

Mind? It was amazing. I was in tears. 
Others commented on how our interaction with each other made them cry, and how much they would love to see the image (and others like it) on workout t-shirts and in gyms.

I looked at this piece of art she created of me and I felt like one of the Incredibles (no capes). She made me feel incredible. I literally drove around for days thinking someone turned me into a piece of art. She told me I looked like a super hero or a Viking and she had to draw it.

HOW COOL IS THAT!!! I took the video to see my form, to see where I can improve it, to share the movement with others, to show them a visual of what I do, to help explain it, and someone else got inspired to make art. I love that.

Kathryn Lynn Hack is an artist, a fellow Lipedema sister, and one heck of a dancer. She saw a picture I took of my shadow last year and she turned it into art. She took photos that my husband (Bob Cornute) took of me for her class, and she turned them into spectacular pieces of art. Art that I look at, and smile at, and truly love.

Kathryn has a gift. A way of showing us what she sees in us, and the more we see ourselves like others do, the more self-love we will create. You can check out her art on her Etsy page.

I so wish I was going to the FDRS Conference this year, and attending Kathryn’s session (Honoring our Bodies through Art), I cannot wait to see what everyone creates.

In the words of the incredible Peter Gabriel…
     In your eyes, I am complete.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


I have been dealing with tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis) the past couple weeks. It is a first for me, and it sure is a new sensation (I typically deal with leg pain with lipedema, arm pain is somewhat new to me).

I use my arms, and arm strength a lot in moving about my every day life, and I like feeling strong, so this has put a cramp in my activities as of late.

I think the injury was caused by a somewhat new movement for me, floor pulls. We started doing floor pulls as part of our WOD (workout of the day), and they are just what they sound like, you lay on the floor and using your core and arms (no legs), you pull yourself across the mats. My MOD (modification) for this movement is to do them on the doorway edge...

When I first started doing the floor pulls, I was only able to do a couple, but have since built up to incorporating them into my regular CrossFit warmup (in place of the pull-ups), and lately coach has been having us do "stations" where we have different movements and do them for a set period of time, as in the photo above - the pulls were one of four movements that day.

Injuries, What Are They Good For?

So here is where the title came from. In talking it over with coach, and after doing the floor pulls yesterday, and realizing if I bring my elbows in more, and engage my core more, the pain was greatly diminished.

Coach made a comment about all movement should start from the core and work it's way out. You get in to trouble when the outer extremities start to do the work that the core should do (or the core is not engaged when the extremities are working).

So don't treat your elbow like a shoulder, and don't treat your shoulder like your core.

The injury I had sustained reminded me that I was not using my core enough. That I was finding a way to move my body any way I could, instead of the proper way.

So in that regard, the injury is a good reminder of engaging my core, and probably will be for some time as it heals.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Handling the Holidays

We are one week away from Christmas, one week and a day from Boxing Day and the start of Kwanzaa, and there are still two days left in Chanukah. Whatever holiday(s) you might celebrate, if you celebrate, I wish you a very happy one.

But not everyone celebrates, or looks forward to the holidays. Some find them too painful, too stressful, too costly, too much pressure, anxiety and/or depression.

I love the holidays, but even I find them stressful at times, and stress is one of the worst things for those of us with Lipedema. 

For me stress causes my legs to swell up and become tight and painful. So what can we do? How do we handle the stress during the holidays?

Here are some ideas...

  • Physical activity, is one of the best things we can do for our bodies in general, but especially when dealing with stress. It not only gets our endorphins pumping, but it also gives us back some feeling of control, we feel stronger and less like a victim.
  • Stretching is also good, or a warm shower, even a nap, as they all help us to relax our muscles, which we tense up when stressed.
  • If you find you cannot steal away for some physical activity, to stretch, shower, or nap, maybe find a place you can be alone for five minutes (ten would be better) and do some deep breathing. Maybe you forgot the cranberry sauce (hint**hide the cans you actually bought a week ago) and take a quick trip to the store; or maybe you are missing those much needed candles and recall you had some in the attic or in the shed.
  • Acknowledge what is causing you stress, talk about it with someone, if not in person, hop on facebook or phone a friend who might also be having some "relative" stress. If you can keep it positive (think affirmations over memes), you can actually reduce it, but rehashing all that is going on to cause your stress in the first place might just send you deeper into it.
  • Be gentle on yourself, remind yourself it is for one hour, one day, one weekend, whatever duration it might be and plot out how you get through the moment you are in, not the entire duration.
  • And the best bit of strategy, if all of the above fail, is to do as Jerry Lundegaard did in Fargo, and simply flee the scene. Bail. Escape. Leave. We are our own protectors, we do not have to stay in a situation that is uncomfortable, causing us harm emotionally or physically, and we have every right to take ourselves out of the environment (or ask those in our home to leave). If you have to be polite about it, then fake an illness or an injury (yes, stub a toe if you have to), but do whatever you need to so that you can get away from the stressors.

Know you are not alone, and it will get better.

Take care of yourself first, you are top priority. If what I have touched upon is not helping, you feel it is beyond your ability to handle on your own, and you need help, please call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They have the tools you need.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

MODs for WODs

MODs (Modifications) for WODs (workouts of the day) are key, not only when you have lipedema, but for life in general.

Things happen in life to take us out of our fitness routines, an injury, or an illness, or maybe you are just starting a fitness routine. Whatever it is, at some point we will all need a modification, and there is nothing wrong with that, in fact MODs are a fantastic tool in our fitness arsenal.

When I first started taking back my fitness (after losing most of my mobility listening to the advice given to newly diagnosed lipedema patients), I learned first hand how important MODs are. 

Coach wanted me to start off doing body movements like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, etc.  But how does someone do a push-up or sit-up, let alone a pull-up, when they are just starting out? The answer is MODs.

Sink Push-ups (LEGO Style)
I am lucky, my coach (who is also my husband) is aces at MODs. He showed me how to use our kitchen counter for my push-ups, and pull-ups.

At first I was hesitant, I didn't think it would do anything for me, but five years later, and I am now able to do them on the floor.

Here is the progression of my push-up MODS:
  1. Kitchen counter (or a wall)
  2. Picnic table (a little lower than the counter)
  3. Chair, or park bench (a little lower than the last MOD)
  4. Stack of mats or heavy bag (once I progressed to getting down on the floor)
  5. Floor push-ups (hands and knees on the floor)
This year I have been working on planks, and I was excited when I held my first one. Now I incorporate 10 second planks before my push-ups; one day soon I hope to be able to do my floor push-ups on my toes, instead of on my knees.

But you know what? I still do counter push-ups, I love them. If I'm doing the dishes, I'll throw in a couple rounds of push-ups and pull-ups. With good form, these are still an excellent movement for me, even though I am able to get on the floor to do them now.

Recently, when I had a nasty cold and couldn't get to our regular workouts, I relied on the kitchen counter once again to keep me feeling strong(ish) - the cold still had me feeling pretty weak, but those few movements against the counter reminded me I could do something to feel stronger - to fight back against that weak feeling.

The emotional benefits of fighting back is huge, and MODs keep you inspired to try new movements, and gain new strength.

Friday, June 2, 2017


Last year we setup and completed the first Lipedema Triathlon, with the help of my training mates, friends and the Saratoga Springs YMCA.

Fast forward to this year, and I am so excited to say the Saratoga Springs YMCA once again is letting us hold the triathlon at their facility, and even more exciting, they want to open it up to others (outside of Lipedema) that have mobility concerns, I just love that!

As I found out last year, Triathlon races vary in distance, the one we are focusing on is the Sprint: 750-meter (0.47-mile) swim, 20-kilometer (12-mile) bike, 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run/walk. Here is a break down of what we will be doing come June 24:

Swim - The most common pool sizes built today are either 25 meters or 50 meters (Olympic size) so 750 meters will be 30 lengths in the smaller pool and 15 lengths in the Olympic.

Bike - Most bikes (road or stationary) calculate mileage, but if not , just calculate your speed (MPH) by your duration to get you to 12 miles.

Run/Walk - Most treadmills calculate mileage; or if using a standard indoor track (200 meters), you would need to do 25 laps for a 5K. If using a standard outdoor track (400 meters), you would need to do 12.5 laps.

Wish us Luck, and spread the word, June is Lipedema Awareness Month!