Single, Single, Double….

I have been putting off talking about Zumba because I had no idea where to start.  I’m one hundred percent, over the top, ridiculously addicted to it!  It is the most fun I have ever had working out.  Zumba is a dance workout inspired by Latin music, but also incorporates any kind of music you can shake your butt to.  

I’ll never forget our first class.  My best workout buddy and I laughed to the point of tears. I remember wondering what the heck she had gotten me into as I tried the follow steps and sweat poured down my forehead.  I was hooked from the first class and have been a Zumba addict ever since.

I know cardio can be difficult for people with Fibro. I had been doing Zumba for about a year/year in a half before being diagnosed, so my body was already conditioned for the cardio.  If you want to try Zumba and you have fibro, I would personally recommend starting slow or with a beginners class to avoid being overly fatigued.  I remember being worried when I was first diagnosed with Fibro that the pain during Zumba would be unbearable.  For me, heating up and getting my muscles relaxed (especially in the humidity of the Zumba room) actually made me feel a lot better.  It’s the day after that can be a challenge for Fibro.  I felt very fatigued the day after my workouts when I first started back to Zumba after being diagnosed.  I had to learn what my limits where, like going 1 or 2 days instead of 3 or 4 and modifying some of the moves so it wasn’t so hard on my knees/back, etc.  No matter what, I wasn’t giving it up!  I had to feed the addiction!

There have been many benefits for my fibro from Zumba.  Of course it has helped me slim down and has helped get me into much better shape, but these things aren’t nearly as important to me as the other benefits I have gained…

Zumba has been my mental therapy.  It’s very hard to feel down or stressed out when you’re dancing and working hard. Plus, I think my best workout buddy has made it her mission to make me laugh uncontrollably through at least one song every class.  So far, her mission has been accomplished every class.  Stress triggers my fibro flares more than anything else.  I think Zumba has saved me from a few pretty horrible flares a time or two.

Zumba has also introduced me to my “guardian angel,” Yvette, and my little supportive family of other Zumba addicts that have helped me keep moving, which is so important to me in my fibro management. 

I’ve asked my workout buddy and myself many times, and we still don’t have an answer, but…

“What did we do before Zumba?”

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Tomorrow Never Knows…

It has been a very busy fibro week!  I’m not even sure where to start…

This week my best workout buddy and I are trying a new diet suggested by a local bariatric office.  For those who I haven’t already bragged to, I’ve recently hit a 90 pound weight loss.  I have a goal that by the Zumbathon I’m attending next month that I will have reached 100 pounds off.  The Zumbathon is March 26th…the countdown begins.

I’m at the point where the weight loss now is really hard.  While my diet isn’t terrible, it definitely could use some tips, not only for the weight loss, but for my fibromyalgia.  So far the diet has been high protein and low carb.  We will add more variety as time goes on.  It was also suggested for fibro relief that I eat food that is gluten free.  This one is tricky, but it’s worth a shot.  I’ve got nothing to lose but weight and pain!

The most humorous part of the diet so far has been the water intake.  It breaks down in ounces comparable to 60 percent of your weight, but I can tell you it doesn’t mean much until you see the water bottle you’ll be drinking from.  I am supposed to drink 4 ½ to 5 of these a day…..

 

 

So far I get to 4 and get water logged, and I think I’ve had a grand tour of every bathroom in Terre Haute, Indy, Brazil and Knightsville.  My workout buddy and I have been racing for the same bathrooms at work and have had some desperate text messages to each other from the road about how we might not make it to our destination, or how inviting the woods next to the road look!

I’m on my 6th day of drinking the water and it is getting easier.  It turns into more of a habit than something you have to remember to do.  Plus, my tummy feels a little flatter in the mornings and my skin seems a little clearer. 

We have our first weigh in tomorrow night.  I’m excited to see the results so far!

There has only been one downfall to this diet for me so far, and it’s all been psychological.  When it comes down to having fibro, one of the reasons I’ve been frustrated is because I can’t do some things like everyone else.  I can’t step up and do some more challenging workouts (not yet anyway) or do much weight training/toning.  Other people don’t have the recovery time I do after a workout because my body gets fatigued so easy.  And then there are times when I’m in a crappy mood and people will start complaining about how sore they are from a workout or how hard it is and I just want to yell at them, “Oh yeah!  Try doing it with fibromyalgia you weenies!” 

This feeling “different” also showed itself a little bit when starting our diet.  My stomach has become so ridiculously sensitive to everything since I got fibro that certain foods don’t work for me.  I discovered this week that egg whites are not my friend!  Since this was something we were supposed to eat quite often I felt stuck.  Luckily I’m working with a wonderful lady at the bariatric center who gave me more options that are tummy friendly for me.  It still didn’t keep me from feeling a little down that even when I try to eat healthy the fibro acts up!

That’s the thing about fibro.  It likes to keep you confused.  Monday I had one of the hardest Pilates workouts I’ve had so far (yes we did the evil chair).  I was so proud myself for surviving it, sore abs and all I still felt really strong.  Then Tuesday I had to travel to Indianapolis for a work meeting.  *BOOM* Fibro flare from driving and sitting (even with many potty breaks due to the water).  I luckily had therapy last night with a lot of stretching, ASTYM, and deep tissue massage.  She also used kinesio tape on my back at the end of our session for my really sore areas.  I’m a little tender from the therapy today, but my pain from that little flare is much, much better!

I guess I will have to look at it from the perspective that fibro is keeping me on my toes.  No two days are ever, or will ever be, exactly the same!

That Looks Like a Torture Device!!

Tomorrow is Monday which means it’s my group Pilates day.  I love that my group is on Mondays because it gives me something to look forward to on a usually crummy day. 

I started in my group after my first round of therapy.  During my therapy I used the Pilates reformer and as I got better at it I graduated out of therapy into a group.  For those who are not familiar with a Pilates reformer, this is what it looks like….

 

                               This is the Pilates room where I spend my Mondays.

It’s funny seeing someone’s reaction to the equipment for the first time because everyone seems to say the same thing… that it looks like a torture device.  For some workouts, I would agree to this description, but also helps give you the best stretches!  It really helps stretch out those spots where it seems like the fibro is just “stuck.”

I’ve been using the reformer for a little under a year.  When I first started on the reformer, I could only stretch a little beyond my knees.  It has increased my flexibility more than I ever thought possible.  I can grab my toes which I can’t even remember doing in elementary school!  Plus, my body has trimmed down and shape faster than any workout I’ve done. 

Although the Pilates workouts have been SOOOOO beneficial to my fibro pain, I will admit there is one aspect of the workouts that is challenge for me…

The chair….que in scary music (I think the “Jaws” theme would fit nicely here).  You can see the chair a little in the first pic behind the tower of the reformer. 

We do an exercise called the pike on the chair.  You put your hands on the chair, then your toes on the attached , long pedal.  The more weight she adds to the pedal, the more it lifts your butt up in the air (which is the goal).  Even with the high weight, I struggle.  For the life of me, I cannot seem to do these!  We usually do  10 repetitions.  I get to about 4 or 5 and my butt slowly starts sinking back down.

I’ll never forget when my Pilates instructor was trying so hard to help me do these.  She grabbed on the back of my pants to try to help lift me up.  I think all that was accomplished was a really big wedgie.

I’ve improved on all my other workouts on the reformer, and I know this one will come in time (and probably after a few more wedgies).  You can count on a celebration blog when I get 10 full reps in!

Even with the evil chair, I look forward to every workout.  No matter how fibro sore I am on Sundays, the pain always seems calmed down a bit after my Monday workouts.  There is so much concentration involved to breathe, relax your shoulders, and scoop (which is my instructors way of telling you to pull your belly button up towards your spine) that it totally distracts you from the fibro fog and fatigue. 

Even if a reformer isn’t available to you, there are also mat Pilates classes available (which I have also done) that are beneficial!

I’ll try to keep everyone updated on my chair battles!  Happy Monday everyone!

She did what to your back?…

I recently started back into physical therapy.  For those fibro patients who don’t know, fibromyalgia is a valid diagnosis with many insurances and they will allow you to have physical therapy for your fibro.  In some cases, you don’t even need a doctor referral.  And if you’re anything like me, and can’t stand the side effects of the fibro drugs, then you may be looking for alternative options to just taking drugs for the pain.

Physical therapists can use e-stim, do deep tissue massage, ultrasound, etc.  My only suggestion would be to call around and see if certain therapists have worked with fibromyalgia.  I think most therapists would be perfectly capable of working with our pain, but I think it feels more relaxed if you don’t have to explain fibro pain to someone who hasn’t worked with it before.

I don’t know how I got so lucky finding the therapist I have.  She had been my Zumba instructor for a long time.  She is also co-owner for Ultimate Fitness, a physical therapy, Pilates and fitness studio.  They use regular physical therapy, but also do Pilates-based physical therapy.  When I was diagnosed, I found out she had been working with fibro patients for many years.  They say everything happens for a reason.  At the time I started Zumba I had no idea I was going to have fibro, or that there would be a therapist there who would help me so much.  I consider her my Filipino guardian angel.  🙂  I’m sure I will talk about her a lot in future posts because I spend a lot of time with her because she’s my Zumba instructor, Pilate’s instructor and my physical therapist.  In the words of my workout buddy “We’re always there, they might as well just adopt us.”

But for now I want to talk about my physical therapy from last night since I’m sure the treatment was something most people don’t know anything about.  It was my first ASTYM treatment.  I’ve mentioned this to a few people and so far nobody really seems to know what it is.  This is what I’ve found about ASTYM (from www. Astym.com):

-ASTYM treatment initiates the natural healing response of the body by gently disrupting abnormal soft tissue. The body sends new collagen to the area being treated, replacing dysfunctional tissue with healthy tissue.

-An ASTYM-certified therapist follows specific treatment parameters to initiate the healing process. She or he will run instruments firmly along your skin, following the direction of the muscle, tendon or ligament. You will feel bumps as the instrument moves along your skin. These bumps are the defective soft tissue. The first couple of treatments can be uncomfortable-but stick with it. As your body heals, those bumps will decrease and the area around your old injury will smooth out nicely, indicating healing.

  These are the instruments used…

I carry most of my pain in my back and shoulders so this is where my physical therapy is focused.  My first session was, well, just plain strange.  It’s one of those “hurts so good” treatments. She used the biggest tool first, that was the one that felt the best!  If I was a cat, I would have purred.  It was great! But has she went down to the smaller tools, she focused more on my knots/bad spots on my back which hurt a little bit more, but still in a good way. 

I’m not going to lie that when I got home I totally freaked out when I looked at my back.  I had some bright red lines and a little bruising.  I knew this was a normal side effect of the treatment, but it looked pretty intense!  Today I’m a little tender but not red anymore.  It’s nothing that would stop me from having the treatment done again.

I was also excited to read that activity is promoted after Asytm treatment for stretching and healing.  This means a lot to me because I never want to do anything that keeps me from my Zumba addiction 😉

I will say, after weeks of not sleeping well, I slept like a baby last night.  To me, this said a lot about the treatment.   I will continue to update on how my treatments are going!

For Better or for Fibro….

It’s Valentine’s day once again.  This gives me a good excuse to get all mushy and gooey about my husband for a minute.  I’m far from the most romantic person in the world, so this doesn’t happen very often!

Not too long ago I was talking with another fibromyalgia sufferer.  She told me “You’ll just have to get to the point of realizing that nobody really cares about your fibro.”   

Okay, yes, there are times where this is true.   I’m sure the mail man could care less about my fibromyalgia.  He’s more preoccupied by making sure my dog doesn’t try to eat his hand as it comes through the mail slot.  And I’m sure that the driver I just honked at for going 10 miles an hour under the speed limit, making me late for work, doesn’t care that I’m running late because I woke up stiff that morning and couldn’t get going.  I’m sure I could think of a million examples of the people who don’t care, but I started really feel sad for her. Maybe for her, that’s true.  After she said that I felt very lucky for the people in my life.

I know my family cares. Even hours away they show me as much support as possible.  I have close friends who show me support, and my physical therapist/Zumba/Pilates instructor definitely cares!

And then there is my husband.  Poor sucker had no idea all this was coming when he married me five years ago.  For better or for worse has definitely held true throughout our marriage.  He has been very patient with me throughout all my fibro struggles.  He understands why there are sometimes I just don’t want a hug, offers to massage (lightly) whatever is hurting, he knows that if I don’t get in at least one Pilates or Zumba workout a week I’m going to be one grumpy wife, and he understands sometimes I just need to cry about it for a while (which is exactly what happened yesterday until my Chihuahua decided it was my husband making me cry and he bit him on the ear.  Ferocious, isn’t he?)….

One of my biggest struggles was admitting I needed his help.  I’ve always been independent.  I felt pride in doing things on my own.  If I could handle working 8 hours, getting all the laundry done, the dinner made, get in a workout, and clean up the house all in the same day I would, and I did.  When the fibro first started to really flare I couldn’t even figure out how to clean, or how to make dinner.  There were too many steps and my mind would race, so instead of doing everything I could, I started to do nothing at all because I didn’t even know where to start.  Memory loss and confusion were a big part of my first few flares.  I would completely forget if I had even seen my husband some days, or if we even talked to each other.  Unfortunately, on some days we did talk about very important things and I didn’t remember any of them.  I finally had to admit I needed his help, so I gritted teeth, swallowed my pride and asked.  It broke the ice a little bit.  The tension we were feeling from working through the first few months of fibro passed and we knew we had to move on.  There are good days and bad days, there always will be.  I know he’ll be there for both.

 He said he would take it all away from me if he could, but to be honest, I don’t think I could take care of him as good as he’s taking care of me.

We’re going through this together and I’m very lucky he’s there for me to support me. 

                                                       Happy Valentines Day!

Watch out fibro! Here comes the brides!!!

Fibro is a funny thing.  Fibro-Fog, to me anyway, is more than just being forgetful, or mixing up words.  I also get the pleasure of getting overwhelmed very easily.  This is especially true when I have to follow directions.  This became very evident this past weekend when I helped my husband at a local bridal show.  The bridal show was being presented by the local newspaper where he works and they pulled in all the help they could get.  It was my impression we would be gophers for the vendors.  I was alright with that.  Any extra walking, or any activity helps me fight off my pain so I was ready to move!  When we started, however, I found out that we would  be in charge of taking money at the door.  I was given directions on how to take the money:

-If the brides registered online then they got a discount, and so does the rest of their party.

-If they registered online, anyone with them in their wedding party got to put their names in for door prizes

-If they didn’t register online, then they had the normal entry fee and only the bride could put their name in for door prizes.

Not to hard……Right??  Expect in my head all I heard was “mumble mumble mumble, bride, blah blah blah, register online,yack yack yack, door prize” and then I think it just went into one of those sharp high-pitch noises that only fibro people can hear.

I was overwhelmed and the brides to be, bright-eyed and excited, came bursting through the door in a long line of women that never seemed to end.  So of course, in my over-whelmed state I figured the best way to take out my frustration was to decide this was all my husband’s fault.  It was his fault for dragging me here to help!  It was his fault my mind can’t wrap itself around the idea of making change when someone paid with more than a five! 

Ugggg……

After about the first 50 brides, my mind finally unclouded itself a bit.  I was officially exhausted. 

I always get a kick out of the commercials for fibromyalgia medicine where they just talk about the pain.  *Poof*  They take a pill and their lives continue on as if fibro never happened.  From my experience in taking this particular medicine is that my fibro fog was actually worse.  So of course, they’re not going to mention that part.  I choose not to mention the name of this evil medicine as I’m taking the “Beetlejuice” theory on this one.  If I say it’s name too many times, it may come back to haunt me and make me dance a Banana Boat song around my dining room table!!

I think most fibromyalgia people choose not to talk about their fibro fog very much, because, to be honest, it’s really embarrassing.  In most cases, laughing it off is pretty easy, but in other instances (like when you have a new bride-to-be chomping at the bit to get at that first bite of sample wedding cake) it just gets frustrating. 

But…as with everything else with fibr… I’ll keep dealing with everything as it comes!  🙂