Tuesday, March 31, 2020

At Home: EMOTIONAL HEALING During Covid-19

We are currently in our third week of self quarantine amid the novel Coronavirus. What that means to my family is:
STAY STRONG
Impromptu photo shoot taken
by my daughter at an isolated beach.
  • My daughter is out of school through the middle of April, subject to change. She is a sophomore in High School and is taking part in assignments and occasional online classes, as assigned.
  • I work for a synagogue and am fortunately able to work from home, with an occasional need to go into the office, or to pick up mail at the post office.
  • My husband is considered essential at his office, and has continued to practice as much social distancing as he can while doing so. He is also the primary person to do the shopping.
I have been practicing At Home workouts, to stay as active and as mobile as possible, but the lack of walking to/from my parking spot to work, and the loss of my aqua fitness classes at the YMCA (which closed per instructions from New York State), have meant my legs are more swollen, and thus more painful.

I asked my husband/coach to bring up my rebounder (mini trampoline) last week, and that has really helped and is a good option when access to the pool is not an option. I immediately saw improvement by doing gentle bouncing (where my feet do not leave the surface of the trampoline), and will continue to do five minutes at a time throughout the day. I was reminded that it is also a very good core workout, when I woke up with some pretty sore muscles.

Staying active is great for bodies, and also great for our emotional benefit, too. But what else can we do during this time of crisis in our world? How do we navigate all that is going on, and how do we address the fear that comes up?

Some things that have helped me are:
Surviving Self Quarantine
One Book at at Time
  • Started an online book club on Facebook, called The Flu Fighters, as a way to take my mind off all the news and sadness that we are all experiencing. It is a feel good book club, and we are currently in our first book, Finding Tomorrow. I've never been in a book club, let alone start one, but it has been a great distraction and lots of fun connecting to others looking for similar relief. I used to be an avid book reader, so at the very least it gets me back to a hobby I love.
  • Limit the news I watch, and how often I watch.
  • Keep to a daily schedule, as close to what my schedule was like before Covid-19; meaning I get up at the same time I used to, I keep my same morning routine of using my whole body vibration, stretching, lymphatic yoga, adding in rebounding, taking a shower/washing face & brushing teeth, putting on my compression, and getting dressed and at the Table (where I spend my work from home day) by 9am.
  • Eat as healthy as possible, at the normal times, meaning I get up from the laptop and do a little more rebounding/stretching, while waiting for my lunch to heat up; which is actually, if I'm honest, better than when I work at the office (where I typically sit down at my office desk and work straight through with minimal movement or lunch). I also started drinking more water, which is so important to keep hydrated.
  • Get some fresh air. It is not easy for everyone, some have more restrictive quarantine guidelines
    they have to follow, but if you can open the window and get some fresh air, and maybe some actual sunshine (vitamin D), it will really go a long way. We are lucky in that we can still travel (this might be changing very soon), so a trip to the beach, double checking nobody else is there, and getting out to stretch, maybe get a workout in, helps so much to not feel so isolated. Even a walk to the mailbox gets you outside being active; maybe time to restart the mailbox challenge!
  • Meditate, I start with deep breathing and move into some mediation. Deep breathing is great for moving my lymphatics and helps me with meditation, I can focus on my breathing and try to limit my monkey brain and the distractions that pop up around me whenever I try meditating. I learned from coach everyone has it, the goal is to not let the distractions or thoughts take me out of the stillness. A work in progress, but some great guided meditations online.
  • Help others, I had a friend reach out regarding making medical masks for our local hospital. I cannot tell you what helping does for me. The being proactive, doing something, helping in some small way really goes a long way to our emotional health. Look in your area, there are lots of groups making masks, or maybe see if you can help in other ways. Here is the video we use, we changed it slightly (9x6 pieces of fabric, and 12" elastic pieces). Warning the elastic is really hard to find now, but there are other options, use bias tape and tie behind head, etc. Look around online for ideas. #CoverOurCaregivers #Thankyoucovid19heroes
  • Connect online. Zoom is the app of the day it seems, I had not heard of it before Corona, and now I wish I had gotten stock in it. It is everywhere. It is super easy to use, and they have a free option. You can setup an online meeting, give others the meeting login info, and then you all see each other on your computer screens. Have a catch up session, have a cocktail, do a workout, whatever you are in need of socially, you can do it somewhat on zoom. I'm sure there are other online meeting options, but that is the one that everyone seems to be using. We are even considering having our book club discussions viz zoom once everyone has finished the book! But just connecting in Facebook groups, or on Instagram, and having discussions about things other than the crisis going on all around us can have a big impact on our emotional selves.
  • Play. Our family started playing Wii again, Just Dance for some fun movement, and playing old school video games like Life. Playing cards, or board games, or put together a puzzle. Connect with your family, and if they are not with you physcially, connect with them remotely also. Zoom or Portal (my sister and I have a weekend catchup this weekend, sadly we used the device once before this, but now we are bringing back the Portal!
  • Clean! Anyone else feel like deep spring cleaning is going on a little every day? Seems the more we spend in our homes looking around while waiting for that work email to pop up, the more things we see in need of repair, or cleaning. Yard work, too! Improving the space around you helps us emotionally. Pick some flowers and put them in a nice vase and place on the table you are working at.
  • Make Art! OK, I'm a big art fan, and painting or whatever your style of art, really goes a long way to distracting us from this pandemic. Bring something beautiful into your home, something you made. The process is amazing, and so is the benefit of seeing it every day. I've been taking part in #marchmeetthemaker on instagram, a great hashtag to look through for art and creativity appreciation and ideas.
  • Exercise. You knew that was coming, right? But it is so helpful emotionally. Movement of any kind works. Don't stress out if you don't have the "right" equipment. Your own body is your best equipment. Get back to basics (sit-ups, push-ups, squats, etc.) or kitchen dancing - so much fun! Check out some of the recent posts on making your own weights from recycled items in your house. Even more recycling ideas, what about all the equipment you have purchased over the years? Why not break it out and the laughter alone will be good exercise. I know I have the body blade somewhere in the basement LOL.
Please know you are not alone. This is a scary time for everyone. Seek support groups online, the Lipedema Fitness group is very supportive for fitness but also sharing with others who also have Lipedema, and might be going through the same emotional distress. There are lots of other groups and ideas online, too. 

I hope you are doing well, but if not, please seek help. Call 911, or contact the Disaster Distress Hotline (1-800-985-5990 or text TalkeWithUs to 66746).

Sunday, March 29, 2020

At Home Workout: REBOUNDING

When you are at home and need some workout ideas, look around your house.

If you are anything like me (and the rest of the world), you have purchased a lot of equipment over the years, and now is the time to pull it out.

I purchased the rebound-air mini trampoline more than 10 years ago, and forgot what an amazing piece of equipment this is.

With our gym being shut down due to #covid_19 my legs have begun to swell more than usual (due to my Lipolymphedema, and because I’m not able to get to my aqua fitness class).

Rebounding is a great alternative to aqua fitness for moving your lymphatics! It is also a great option for way more than that.

Did you know rebounding is said to do 50% more for our bodies than running does? And it is gentle on our joints!

Rebounding is great for improving our lymphatic, circulatory, and cardiovascular systems!

Plus, it’s also good for core training, improving balance and bone density, even NASA recommends it for their astronauts!

UPDATE: I reached out to the company who makes my rebounder with a parts question and the rep answered my question and offered a coupon code to friends and family, so enter code REBOUNDAIRFAMILY for $30 off your rebounder purchase through www.rebound-air.com.

What’s in your basement you can pull out to stay active while self quarantining?

Rebounding is great for our health, and it is also FUN!


Here is an experiment I started this week, looking for anything that could help with the swelling; I shared it with my Lipedema Fitness Facebook support group...

REBOUNDING ACTIVATES YOUR LYMPHATICS - A LOT

WHAT I DID:
Gentle Bouncing - Where my feet do not leave the surface of the mini trampoline. And a forward bend and gentle stretching when I came off the trampoline.

HOW LONG I DID IT: 
10 Minutes - I did 2 reps of 5 minutes, once at 12pm, and once at 2pm.

WHAT I NOTICED: 
I felt unsteady, and a little awkward (because I haven’t used it in a couple years); and boy did my legs feel it. Not in a bad way, but because rebounding engages all your muscles, it is a whole body activity. My legs were a little wobbly as I stepped off.

HOW DO I KNOW IT HELPED:
My swelling went down, visibly noticeable this morning, and I had to use the restroom twice during the night (not typical), and once again upon waking (typical). I also had to use more frequently during the day yesterday, and give me a minute because nature calls...

WHAT STAGE AM I:
I’m late stage three Lipedema with secondary Lymphedema, which is referred to as Lipolymphedema.

WHAT DID I WEAR:
I had my graduated compression on, I wear Juzo Dynamic Knee Highs grade 30-40. I had work clothes on, and no shoes, due to working from home, typically I would have had workout clothes on.

The rebounding companies recommend loose fitting clothes and no shoes. But I wear my compression because it is too painful if I don’t. Since our legs are compromised, this will have to be whatever is most comfortable for you. Wearing my compression did not hinder my body’s response.

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I HAVE:
I purchased the rebound-air trampoline about ten years ago, before my diagnosis, as a way to try to get exercise at home. It was the only option back then to support my weight limit, and it was around $450. They make less expensive ones now, think even my model is less expensive, just make sure to get one for your weight needs.

NOTES:
Rebounding is a great activity, but I highly recommend a stability bar for anyone with balance concerns. I have mine placed next to a large piece of furniture that I can hold on to for stability, but a bar would be better.

Rebounding is a whole body activity (engaging legs, core, bum, etc.) that has been shown to be more effective than running/jogging, while being gentle on your joints. I am not saying you should not run/jog, that is a personal choice, but for me those activities are painful, rebounding is not.

It activates your lymphatic system and your circulatory system and is proving to be one of the best activities we can do, not just Lipedema and Lymphedema bodies, but all bodies for improved fitness and health. Google the benefits of rebounding, it is an impressive piece of equipment.

Think I found my aqua fitness replacement during our self quarantine period, and something I will add even when the pool opens back up again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

At Home Workout Ideas: Coronavirus

Our world is in crisis. The Coronavirus began a few months ago in China, and by now most of us are being asked to self quarantine ourselves. The request to do so is for the safety of our community, especially those with compromised immune systems. It is the best way to slow the spread as much as possible so we don't continue to overwhelm the hospitals and care centers.

Over the past couple months (or days in our case here in the USA) our worlds have been turned upside down. Our schools have been closed, kids are online learning, and the places most of us seek out for fitness have also been closed.

So how do we navigate this? How do we stay sane for the next 8 weeks, or longer?

One of the best things we can do is stay active! At home workouts are the new black.

It doesn't have to be complicated, body weight movements are some of the best things you can do, and you don't need any equipment to do so.

Squats, Sit-ups, Push-ups, Pull-ups, etc. are all amazing at keeping our bodies strong. For the past seven years I have been doing the CrossFit warmup, which consists of 3 rounds of 10 each (pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, good mornings, overhead squats, and the Samson stretch). It is how I got started training again after my Lipedema diagnosis. I regained my mobility and strength, it truly saved my life.

If you have some dumbbells at home, great! Or look around your recycle bin for some old clothes soap containers. Did you know each of those 2.95 liter bottles weighs about 7lbs. when full of water? You can fill them with sand, too. You might say 7lbs. big deal, but try doing a farmer's walk up and down your hall a few times with them and see what a good workout it can be. Here's a great link to how to do a proper Farmer's Walk.

CrossFit also has an At Home series that is geared towards the elderly, with the tagline of... "The needs of our Olympic athletes and grandparents differ by degree, not kind." It is all about functional movements, and that is pretty personal to each of us. But the videos show great workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home, and they are free, always have been. They also have some recipes to help keep us healthy, too.

Some equipment you might already have at home, or it would be easy to pickup online, a Kettle Bell, or a Medicine ball... both are great to amp up the workouts we can do at home, and they don't take up a lot of space. 

My top 3 med ball movements are:
  1. Wall Ball
  2. Slam Ball
  3. Wall Ball Sit-ups
For now, even though we are under self quarantine, we can still go outside, so get some fresh air and grab your med ball for some outdoor options - let me tell you, slam ball gets out so much built up emotions!

We'll save my favorite med ball movement (Hoover Ball) for the summer, when we can hopefully get back in touch with our friends and training mates and have a great time passing the ball.

Did you know Hoover Ball was invented by the personal trainer of President Hoover? The President was in South America and watched some Navy guys playing a game called Bull-in-the-Ring on the battleship Utah.

Taking a walk might not come to mind, but yesterday we took a drive to the lake, just to get out of the house, and there was not a soul around; so my daughter and I popped out for a quick walk and some much needed fresh air.

It felt amazing, we laughed and forgot about the Coronavirus for a few minutes. Get outside if you can, even just opening a window can help. Remember, the goal is to limit contact with others, but seeking out open space, or popping into the backyard for a bit is good emotionally and also for that much needed vitamin D the sun provides.

One of the wonderful things that I've been noticing are the kind businesses offering free online at home workout options for us, here is a list of some of the ones I've seen pop up, a huge thank you to them all...

Big Fit Girl - Louise Green has been a long time favorite, free month of online classes.
CrossFit - has ALWAYS been free, they post the daily workouts, and people comment with how they did.
CrossFit At Home - as mentioned above.
Down Dog apps - includes apps for Yoga, HIIT, and more.
Headspace - is a meditation app and is free till the end of the year for all healthcare professionals.
Planet Fitness - free to everyone, check out their facebook page for live workouts.
Peloton - offering a free 90 day trial, and it doesn't require you own any Peloton equipment.
YMCA - offering the Stay Health-Y Challenge.

If you know of others, let me know and I'll get them added.

I start my day, like I have for the past seven years, on my vibration machine. Here is a link to an old post I wrote all about it.  I've taken to using the height of my vibration machine for step ups, which you can also do on the first step if you have some stairs at home (and use the railing if you need to).

Then I put on my Juzo Dynamic 30-40 grade compression knee highs (compression lets me stay active and helps my lymph system function better) and add in some rebounding, which can be done on a mini trampoline, or even on a yoga ball, like Dr. Melissa Gallagher enlightened me to. AND, rebounding is a lot of fun!

I highly recommend checking out Dr. Gallagher's youtube channel, Natural Health Resources, she has loads of videos about Lipedema, Lymphedema, nutrition, and lots more!


For Valentines Day, my husband (who is my wonderful coach as well) got me a TRX Go for home! I'm so happy he did. I can do pull-ups and push-ups and so many other options, including this plank move I tried out recently after seeing it posted on their Instagram page, using the TRX Pro at the Dojo where we usually train this time of year - and now I can do all from the comfort of my own home.


I post all my workouts on the public Lipedema Fitness Facebook page, and the public Lipedema Fitness Instagram page, and a lot of workouts you can modify to do from home.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

March Is Lymphedema Awareness Month

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month. Yes, I said LYMPHEDEMA.


Lipedema can also come with secondary Lymphedema, which is called LIPOLYMPHEDEMA, and is exactly what I have.

It is critical to spread awareness of rare diseases, like Lymphedema and Lipedema.
March is Lymphedema Awareness Month!
June is Lipedema Awareness Month!

So this month is even more focused on my Lymphedema, and how treating Lymphedema is primarily the current way to treat Lipedema. It is all about moving and caring for your lymphatic system, which includes exercise, and compression.

March is Lymphedema Awareness month, and one of the best things we can do is aqua fitness!

Why? Because it is a great way to move your lymph!

It is also a lot of fun!

What is your favorite activity for moving your lymph?