Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday WOD in the Park - 6/30: Olympic Bars & Prowler

Almost every Saturday for more than five years I have taken part in a CrossFit style workout, led by my husband (a certified CrossFit instructor). I have shared the workout of the day (WOD) with my Lipedema Fitness Facebook support group during that time, and as a way to reach others outside of our group, I'm going to start sharing those WODs here.

A little background on me, CrossFit has changed my life. I was diagnosed in 2007 with Lipedema, and at the time the advice given to the newly diagnosed, was not to exercise, as they thought it would make our condition worse. When you are first diagnosed with Lipedema your first thought is YAY, finally there is an answer! You quickly find out there is no cure, and not really much geared towards Lipedema. For me, a stage 3, they focused on the Lymphedema (a secondary condition to my Lipedema) and the biggest goal for me was not getting worse, so I stopped the gym visits. Fast forward 6 years and I was getting worse anyway, so decided to take my health back and started working out again, and thus began our training. (You can read more about me in the older blog posts).

Our weekly Saturday WOD (workout of the day) last week was in the park. We are fortunate to have a lovely park to workout in, that offers things like racquetball, tennis and basketball courts, a football field with 1/4 mile track around the outside, even a skateboard area. There are also a couple baseball fields, but those are mostly in use by the youth and college clubs.

We started with our regular warmup on the grass (3 rounds of 10 each: sit-ups, pushups, squats, good mornings, and Sampson stretch; then moved on to the racquetball court with our Olympic bars for Olympic lift progression:
  • Deadlifts
  • SDHP - Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
  • Cleans
  • Overhead Presses
  • Front Squats
  • Overhead Squats
  • Power Snatches
  • Power Snatch Overhead Squats

Coach was glad to see that our technique did not require much tweaking, even though it had been a couple months since we worked with the olympic bars. After ensuring each movement was in proper form we did (10) of each lift.

Even at 9am the temperatures were climbing rapidly up, so it was key to be prepared. I wore a baseball hat (great for the protection under the sun, but also a useful tool when lifting, if you get too close to your face, you hit the brim), brought my electrolyte drink, keeping it cool in the shade of the racquetball wall, and I sought out shade of the nearby trees whenever possible.

After the Olympic lifts, we pulled out the prowler. It is a device Coach made that carries various amounts of weight, and sometimes even our training mates hop in to make it more challenging. Up and down the field with 90lb. in the prowler, first pushing up and back then pulling up and back.

My body responded by needing a nap that day. In the past five years that is one indicator of progression that has been an eye opener. Early on I needed a nap after every workout, now it is occasionally.  Lipedema makes it harder to notice progression, since we don't show it in our bodies (externally to see), you have to get good at noticing other changes, you feel different internally, stronger, etc. and things like needing less modifications to do the workout, needing less naps for recovery, cardio improving, etc. A journal is a good place to keep track of that, or join a group, start a blog, etc. where you document what you did, how it felt, what your recovery was like, etc. I can promise you, you will be surprised by the progression your body makes, subtle changes add up, and noticing changes, improvements in your body feels great.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Mobility Monday

Mobility Monday - You hear me talk a lot about mobilities, coach used to teach a mobilities class on Mondays in our beautiful park, and that is where the "Mobility Monday" title comes from.

It involved a lot of stretching, which can be tricky for some of us, especially those with EDS (Ehlers–Danlos syndrome), because of overly flexible joints that can dislocate easily. I suspect I have a bit of EDS, because I can easily twist an ankle or knee, and have to be mindful during stretching that I don't go too far, which can be super tricky as stretching feels so good to me.

Functional Mobility - What Does It Mean to You???

This got me thinking about functional mobility, and what it takes for us to be able to move about in our lives. Which is different for each of us, some are more active, maybe because our job requires more activity, we have little ones to chase after, or we like participating in activities like going to the gym, etc., and some of us are less active, our job is a desk job, our children are older, or we do not have children, or our bodies are in so much pain that standing, let alone walking, is just too painful.

Five plus years ago I could barely stand, and walking involved getting to/from my desk at work. I would park as close as I could and the walk from the parking lot down the hall to my desk was excruciating, my lower back was where I felt the majority of my pain. I would not get up much during the 8+ hour shift, and then make the painful walk back to my car and repeat the next day. Weekends were spent in my chair with legs elevated, which led to less and less activity, because it just hurt too much to do so.
So how does one start to be more active? For me it began with the CrossFit warmup, modified by my husband to my specific abilities (he is a certified CF coach). I started with a couple push-ups on the kitchen sink, then a couple pull-ups on that same sink, a yoga ball was used to do my sit-ups, the railing on the steps in my breezeway gave support for squats, the wall was used for my Sampson stretches (I was incredibly off balance when I started so using the help of the wall, or railing, was critical), and good mornings - which were the easiest for me, picture bowing, but so good for hip opening/closing.

Eventually I moved up to do 3 sets of 10 reps of each of those movements, and now all our WODs  (workouts of the day) typically start with the same warmup, followed by whatever fun activity Coach has for us that day.

I won't lie, it was hard to begin. It hurt, it made me feel embarrassed, and angry. I think mostly angry for what I had lost. I used that anger to my advantage, it helped fuel my desire to take control back, and not let this condition dictate where my life was going.

I started very slowly, and you know what? That slow progression was impactful. It changed my life. My core got stronger, my body got used to being active again, and it started with a few minutes of activity.

I remember thinking of how far away I was from my ideal fitness, and thinking I would never get there, but pretty quickly I began to notice real changes, I began to notice increased strength, feeling more balanced, more flexible, etc. I began to focus on those changes, those small improvements, and they built up over the past five years. If you would have said I would be doing an annual triathlon every year, I would have said you are nuts. But that is exactly what happened. I am still blown away by that, and in the last leg (the 5K) of my recent Lipedema Triathlon (on June 16), my least favorite part of the triathlon, when all my energy was gone, my strength was weaning, and I had no sure knowledge if I could finish the walk, my coach reminded me of all those doctors, and people "in the know" about Lipedema at the time, telling us to not exercise years ago, as it could make us worse, all those who look at us and don't think we can do this level of activity. THEY DON'T GET TO HAVE A SAY IN MY LIFE, or in your life! I can tell you it fueled me to push through and finish that triathlon!

Fight my friends, fight for it. Your mobility is so key, keep as mobile as you can, for as long as you can, and then fight some more to regain what has been lost. I am here, reach out if you need support, there are almost 2000 other members in our facebook support group, all at various stages and abilities, all fighting along side you, and most importantly cheering you on!

Saturday, June 23, 2018


June 16th at 9am we began the swim portion of the Third Annual Lipedema Triathlon. The distance was 750M or 15 laps in the 25M pool of the Saratoga Regional YMCA.

This year I had not done much swimming prior to the Triathlon, like I had last year, and I knew I had to pace myself or the excitement of the race would throw my swim off, which can really set you up for an even tougher Tri.

Even without much prior swimming, my time this year was only a few seconds slower than last year, I clocked in at 27:30, and was pretty excited I was only a little over my PR from 2017.

My 2018 Triathlon Times:
Swim = 27:30, Bike = 55:06 (PR - shaved 7 minutes off my best time), and 5K = 75:57 (better than last year, but last year was dealing with a very painful knee). Total duration = 2:38:33 (not counting the time spent in the changing room between the swim and the bike, which is officially counted in a Triathlon).

Returning Finishers:
Bettina, Colleen, Phylise & I

New Finishers:
Amanda, Dan, John & Patty

Duathlon Finishers:
Bob (Swim/BikeX2), Joel (Bike/5K) & Liz (Bike/5K)

THANK YOU!!! I could not do this every year without my coach and husband, our daughter, our training mates, and our family and friends.

SPECIAL THANK YOUS!!! Saratoga Regional YMCA Aquatics Director, Ilene, and staff members Genevieve and Shannon were such great supporters, cheering us on and tracking our progress every step of the way - a huge shout out to them and to the members of the YMCA, who happened to be sharing the space with us as we shouted out mile after mile.

The thing that stuck out for me this year, is how many first time triathletes we have. Most told me they would never have even attempted a triathlon if it were not for the Lipedema Triathlon I created just 3 years ago. To think back to where I was before I started this Lipedema Fitness journey (barely being able to stand, let alone walk) to being a 3 X Triathlon Finisher just blows my mind. I am incredibly grateful my legs have carried me so far. Small steps equal mountains climbed! Never give up.

We were officially
X 3!!!

CHEERS!!! Looking forward to next year!

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.