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About thelionmachine

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  1. I'm still here! I've had hugely busy weeks with working on my thesis, but I'm still in the game Monday marked the start of week two of doing my dailies every day again. I've been careful not to push myself too hard, even when I feel like I could, but I'm doing some sit-ups and body weight exercises every evening as the last thing before I go to bed. I'm not walking right now but I hope to get back on that soon. Keeping my routine dead simple seems to have been the way to keep going. I increase repetitions if I feel like I can, but I try not to worry about it, and vary exercises based on what feels right for my joints on a given day, as well as to keep from stressing my muscles too much. The sugar portion of the challenge is going well for me! Some days I'm way underneath 30g of sugar, other days I'm over, sometimes by a lot. But if I'm over one day I take pains to eat under the next couple of days. I think being mindful has been the key part of this for me, since if I'm going over my sugar limits it's a deliberate choice, and I can mitigate it somewhat (only going to drink this one super-sugary beverage; only going to eat this one slice of cake; etc) instead of going crazy, getting amped up on a sugar high, and crashing in a big way. I guess all of this is working in my favor. I went to the doctor on Thursday and the scale said 157lb, a loss of about 8lb from my last weigh-in a month or two ago! I figure most of this is water weight from going off a medication, but my fiancee says she can see muscle definition on my stomach and my upper arms, so I guess some of it is probably the result of decreasing sugar and trying to keep moving every day. Thanks so much for your encouragement, guys! I'm about to go on a weekend trip that involves a lot of time in the car so we'll see how well I keep to the schedule with a major change in my routine. I'm not going to worry about sugar intake while I'm out of the home -- I'll get back on the bandwagon with sugar when I get home on Tuesday. I'll keep you updated about how doing bodyweight exercises in the hotel room goes
  2. So I've basically taken a break from Saturday onwards... which I didn't really mean to do, but a series of events happened to make this the case. Saturday was fabulous -- the ballet was fun, dinner was amazing. I broke my sugar limitations with a pomegranate-orange lemonade to drink, and a trio of ice creams for desserts with Turkish coffee -- SO good, ugh. And then ... the escalator from hell appeared. I had to go down a quarter of a mile of steeply inclined still escalator steps, inclined at an angle that aggravated my knees and threw off my balance horribly. After driving home that night, I woke up the next day with both a migraine that's lasted 3 days, and horrible leg cramps from those stupid broken escalator steps. The migraine, plus hand pain, has been so bad I haven't done any push-ups or body weights of any kind. Today I had some injections that help with the cause of both the hand pain and the migraines (some evil muscles in my neck) so I'm anticipating that by tomorrow I can start up body weights again, only... gently! I clearly missed some major cues from my body in my rush to do something exciting and new, and I want to avoid crippling hand pain any more. And since I can already tell the migraine is improving with the injections, I intend to go back to walking, since I was really enjoying that. Either tonight, if my dizziness/general post-injection fuzziness subsides, or tomorrow. As for sugar, well... I know I blew it last night (I ate out and drank a soda to help deal with the migraine), and I drank a small tin of orange juice AND ate a lara bar after the injection to stabilize my blood sugar, so that's definitely blown too. I used up a high-sugar almond milk (why do those words even go together?!) making grits the past couple of days, which probably put me over too. Otherwise I've been pretty good. It's frustrating to me how many things I want to drink are full of sugar. I should probably invest in some more fruity teas that don't require sweeteners, or that I can sweeten like I take my coffee (1 gram of sugar or less). I'm also starting a new medication for pain. Hopefully if that works my activity levels in general will come up from where they've been lately, which is.... in the dumps. I've slept a lot. But that's okay! Every setback is followed by a new chance for progress. Me-the-wounded-Gondorian knows that I'll catch up and keep progressing soon, and I'll get home when I get there.
  3. The food you eat looks fabulous. Definitely enjoying the food photography. It makes me want to cook, which is always a good thing!
  4. I think I overdid it yesterday, ugh. I had been doing wall push-ups because if I put too much pressure on my elbows it can trigger pain in my hands, but I felt pretty good yesterday morning so I did push-ups off the floor. That went great! They were much less hard than they had been the last time I had done them on the floor, so I was pretty pleased with myself. Then I decided to try and add pull-ups under my desk, since I was previously in physical therapy to strengthen my shoulders and my back. Those went pretty well, too. Challenging but not impossible. But it was too much! When I finished my pull-ups my elbow cracked horribly and intense hand and elbow pain plagued me all yesterday, so bad I had to use dictation software and couldn't type and even eventually broke down and took heavy-duty pain medication. Ugh! These kinds of set-backs are normal for me (I've been having problems with a nerve that runs through the elbows anyway, it's not a new problem). The thing I'm trying to do this time is stay positive and keep doing something until I feel well enough to get back at it in some modified form again. I did put in 1.5 miles in the evening since I needed something to do that wasn't typing. I walked a little slower and talked to A while I was pacing in the living room, and ended up enjoying it a lot. So today I'm planning to give my arms a massive break, and just do gentle stretches and restorative yoga. I'll see if I can continue walking more than a mile at a go, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed that just by changing what I was doing as I walked. The sugar part of the challenge is going well now that Passover is behind me. There's a small amount of cake left to be eaten, but A and I will probably finish it today before it goes stale and a slice of cake is still less than ~15g of sugar. Yesterday I had about 15g of sugar total, in two cups of coffee with almond milk and a little sugar. While it's hard for me to measure exactly how much sugar is in some stuff I cook (for example I made homemade teriyaki sauce and added in molasses the other night), I am finding it easy to keep away from processed food and sweets in general, and even to stay under 30g. I had figured I'd be super addicted to sugar but even in the press of writing my thesis, I find it pretty easy to tell myself "if you eat this now, you can't have that later" and to actually stick with whatever I decide. I know tomorrow will be a weird but fun day -- I'm going to be driving to DC to go to the ballet so A can see her favorite danseur. Then we're meeting with a friend to have a dinner celebrating her birthday, and I KNOW I'm probably going to go over my sugar allotment at dinner since they have interesting ice cream, one of the few dairy products I do eat occasionally. There will be a lot of somewhat sporadic walking -- to and from metro stations, for example -- but it's going to be tough to put in the kind of dedicated mile I've been charting with a pedometer. I have no way of knowing if my hands and arms will feel better by then, but I may do yoga stretches before I go, or try to put in my dailies. But if that's not going to happen, I may just count tomorrow as a break day and jump back on the bandwagon on Sunday. Thanks for all your encouragement, guys! It's really motivating me to come back and report that I've done something, which of course, means doing something first!
  5. Sounds like you're rocking it so far! Hello to someone else doing some yoga and a Tolkien-themed challenge
  6. So my first two days I knew were going to be highly disrupted. And I was right. The first night of Passover was Monday night, and I put in a good effort by walking a mile before things got a little sideways. I didn't have any sugar early in the day and definitely overspent it in the evening, but at least I practiced moderation. My brother came, we had an amazing feast prepared mostly by A, and we all massively overindulged! I ate more food in one meal than I usually eat all day, and felt a little off just from the sheer quantity of amazing food. I dragged myself to bed at 2AM after staying up drinking cider and wine, eating gluten-free spice cake. I usually do my daily routine in the evening but felt tired and a little sick, so didn't do it at all. Tuesday I woke up and the weather was not in my favor, and I had a horrible migraine. I managed to walk a half a mile in the evening, just so that I didn't have a day where I did nothing, kept the sugar intake around 30g (half a pot of turkish coffee with almond milk ~8g; about 11g of sugar in sparkling french lemonade to take with medication; a tiny slice of spice cake, probably around ~10g of sugar). Today I'm set to keep on track: I decided to avoid the I-feel-sick-this-evening problem (the weather's going to do what it did last night again) by doing my dailies this morning while the sun is shining. No surprise, they're way easier to do in the daytime when I'm not really tired than they are at night when I'm exhausted. I'll be trying to keep this new habit in the daytime instead of right before bed. I'm also hoping to put in 1.5 miles in the living room this afternoon to catch up to where I'd like to be this week. I think I'll be replacing the spot in my evening where I usually do my dailies by doing some gentle stretching instead. So far I'm sticking to my sugar goal today: I've had half a pot of turkish coffee (~8g) and a tiny slice of cake (~10g). That leaves room for one more cup of coffee if I need it, or another tiny slice of cake in the evening, or a little bit of ice cream. 30g is actually quite a lot of sweets, now that I'm trying to keep my diet under that -- I may not want any more tonight after the start to the week I've had!
  7. I also wanted to add that I'm 98% dairy-free (I use almond milk and coconut milk products and occasionally eat a bit of goat or sheep's cheese) if you want any advice about dairy-free. I personally find plain almond milk tastes and cooks more like milk, unless you're making Asian food that specifically uses coconut milk. I try to avoid soy products, and the (totally subjective) best-tasting cheese replacement isn't a fake cheese but a product called Nutritional Yeast Flakes, which make a great cheesy topping for all kinds of things (it's great on pizza!) though it doesn't have the stretch and melt of traditional cheese. Good luck!
  8. It's not in my challenge but I also am working on writing short stories! I find it really helpful to try and write for specific calls and requests for short stories. I don't know what kind of stories you write, but if you write speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc) at all, try looking at http://coffintreehill.wordpress.com/ for ideas for stories. I also read slush at a great spec magazine that publishes shorts called Crossed Genres, which is always looking for new writers. Good luck with your challenge! I've followed along.
  9. A bit of mutual follow for this challenge Good luck! I have no doubts you'll get there.
  10. So in my introductory post I talked a little bit about my health issues, which include ehlers-danlos syndrome, chronic pain, and weak joints. I'm mostly trying to keep on with the good habits I've been trying to establish. In July, I am moving a couple hours away to Washington DC, and my big goal is to look fit and trim and drop the weight I put on last year. In the tradition of my youth, I'm making this workout routine more nerdy by telling a story about why I'm exercising. For most of my life I've motivated myself to get fit by pretending I'm a soldier of Gondor (one of Boromir's, perhaps!) who has been wounded far from home and is recovering in friendly territory, but has a long way to go to be well enough to get home. This encourages me to see very small steps as progress, and to be gentle with myself by reminding myself always that I am starting from a baseline of injury and need to avoid further aggravating my conditions -- and that my "end point" is way different than it is for most people. MAIN GOAL: Reduce body fat & put on muscle before July. I'm not putting too specific a point on this because I literally don't know what's possible with my body -- but while I definitely want to look great, more importantly, I want to have stamina and strength to put my life in boxes and move. I should probably do some body fat measurements on Monday, but I'm less concerned about actual body fat percentages and more about how I feel in my own body. 3 GOALS: x daily routine or modified routine every day x walk 1 mile + some extra 5+ times a week x cut sugar to 30g a day & track all my sugar intake (I think I'm probably over today, there were a bunch of amazing free samples at my farmer's market.... there's no way to track what one tiny bite of artisanal candy or a single swallow of sweetened kombucha is, sugar-wise.) My Motivation: This Halloween, I am marrying my best friend, the wonderfully geeky A (we met roleplaying in a Lord of the Rings game!), who is also chronically ill. While she loves me no matter what I look like, I want to be with her a long time, and we will save a lot of money if my health is better (not to mention groceries go further when you only eat 30g of sugar a day and aren't buying sugary crap all the time!). I also want to be able to do more of the heavy lifting with the moving so she doesn't hurt herself. My daily routine: x push-ups + 1 x yoga pose : wheel + 1 x yoga pose: bridge x yoga pose: plank +1 x sit-ups + 1 Every day, I'm trying to do one more of each exercise than I did the day before -- one more push-up, one more second of wheel or plank, etc. I've wondered if I should have more exercises in there, or add a gentle yoga stretching routine, or something, but the exercises only take about 10 minutes to do at maximum and keeping it low-key is one of the ways I figure I'll stay successful. On Monday, when I start up the routine, this is the number of exercises I'll be doing: push-ups: 20 wheel: 35 bridge: 2 minutes plank: 35 sit-ups: 70 (I've been doing them in 2 sets of 30; so I'll do 2 sets of 35) I also have a modified routine for days I feel very weak or in a lot of pain. Modified routine: x wall push ups: 20 x yoga pose : wheel x yoga pose: bridge x yoga pose: plank 20 seconds x sit-ups at least 1 set of 30; 2 if I feel I can tolerate it. Walking I've joined the Walking to Mordor crowd and am trying to walk one mile at least 5 days a week, preferably every day of the week but I'm trying to be modest. I'm also writing my graduate thesis and changing up a lot of things about my health so I'm willing to keep this one low-key. It's hard for me to do this consistently, so this is a challenge to me to put an X next to walking as many days a week as I can. I'm walking back and forth in my living room, based on a classic old soldier's recovery technique of counting the miles you can walk wherever you are recovering by counting the "roman mile" (count every strike of your left foot, 1000 left steps = 1 mile). This is the future, though, I cheat and use a pedometer. I can currently pace 1 mile in about 25 minutes but I'm hoping to get a little faster than that, maybe. Sugar I am currently informally tracking my sugar intake on my own in a notepad document, doing my best to calculate what a cup of coffee with almond milk and a teaspoon of sugar (~7g of sugar; less when this almond milk runs out and I go back to a lower sugar brand) sets me up for. I eat almost no processed foods and am not counting natural sugar in things like tomatoes (it's not fruit season here, currently, so that's not a temptation), only sugar in stuff that has a package. I'm also not counting calories at all -- this makes me angry and neurotic, and because of my health issues I can't find a reliable indicator of what I would even try to count calories to anyway. Just charting what I eat most of the time I seem to be at or under 2,000 calories anyway. I've focused on eating a diet that is protein rich, carb light, and which makes my body happy. The only slip-ups I have are with processed sugary foods. I used to have a sugar cola-a-day habit (for medicinal reasons for the caffeine! I thought I was doing myself a favor by not drinking high fructose corn syrup) I've recently replaced with coffee and tea, and I am an absolute junkie for fruit juices (to help take my medication, some of which is foul tasting) which has been hard to kick as well. This is pretty much the only "weak spot" in my diet, since I no longer eat carbs of any kind I don't make at home (I'm gluten-free and can't eat eggs or cow milk) and so eat them less than 3 days a week and often have weeks where I don't eat any. I have discovered I can quite comfortably have 2 cups of dairy-free coffee and a small sweet snack (like a small amount of almond ice cream with a modest amount of chocolate added in), a couple of macarons, or some homemade gluten-free bread without going over 30g. Once I dialed back the sweets I realized I don't really want all that many, so this challenge is less about a sweet tooth craving and more about eating mindfully. I think I will probably set a few days aside to indulge over 30g during the challenge -- Passover is Monday and there's going to be sweet stuff on the table, for example. I also know next week I have a birthday dinner with a friend and am resolved to eat whatever is on the menu that meets my dietary requirements, even if it has sugar. I've already had a couple of days this week where I ate food I had no way of tracking the sugar content of -- a brownie I split with my girl on our engagement anniversary date, for example. But no sweat! I'll just keep my sugar intake minimal the next couple of days after I go over. I figure I will update my thread to report on how my sugar intake is going -- hopefully you all will keep me honest! I'm looking forward to going on this challenge with you all! Any thoughts or suggestions for me? Anyone working on a similar project or under similar constraints?
  11. I posted this in the wrong thread this morning... what I get for being in a hurry... I thought I'd join in! I've tailored the Walk to Mordor slightly differently, still Middle-earth themed. My goal is to walk from Dol Amroth to Minas Tirith following the routes and cities in the maps of Gondor Christopher Tolkien drew. The story I am telling to motivate myself is that I'm a soldier from Minas Tirith who has to walk home after a long injury. As a teen I got through physical therapy with a different version of the same story. I'm currently only 12 miles in (yikes!) but I'm trying to get up to walking 1+ mile 5 days a week, charting it with a pedometer on my phone. Right now I'm walking back and forth in my living room, hah! Here are my personal goalposts, though... in this case, since I've only set a modest goal of 560 miles, I'll probably be extending it to the Fellowship walk whenever I hit my personal goal... or make up a new path to walk to keep me motivated... (Boromir's journey from Minas Tirith to Rivendell, maybe? It's a long one.) Dol Amroth to Edhellond: 65 miles Edhellond to Ethring: 130 miles Ethring to Pelargir: 225 milesPelargir to Minas Tirith: 140 miles I'm guessing anyone who tried to walk that distance is probably wondering why they didn't just catch a boat... but I'm going to walk it!
  12. I thought I'd join in! I'd tailored the Walk to Mordor slightly differently, still Middle-earth themed. My goal is to walk from Dol Amroth to Minas Tirith following the routes and cities in the maps of Gondor Christopher Tolkien drew. The story I am telling to motivate myself is that I'm a soldier from Minas Tirith who has to walk home after a long injury. As a teen I got through physical therapy with a different version of the same story. I'm currently only 12 miles in (yikes!) but I'm trying to get up to walking 1+ mile 5 days a week, charting it with a pedometer on my phone. Right now I'm walking back and forth in my living room, hah! Here are my personal goalposts, though... in this case, since I've only set a modest goal of 560 miles, I'll probably be extending it to the Fellowship walk whenever I hit my personal goal... or make up a new path to walk to keep me motivated... (Boromir's journey from Minas Tirith to Rivendell, maybe?) Dol Amroth to Edhellond: 65 miles Edhellond to Ethring: 130 miles Pelargir to Ethring: 225 milesPelargir to Minas Tirith: 140 miles
  13. Heh, chronic pain represent! I would start with something much more gentle than running, myself. Yoga or pilates with a trained instructor seem like a better entry point -- you've got to figure out what your muscles and joints can and can't tolerate, in a low-impact environment where you won't be putting strain on your joints. I echo other people on seeing a physical therapist -- I have chronic joint and muscle issues and it helped me a lot. But PTs aren't necessarily cheap or easy to get into, so if you're dead set on doing something even if you can't see one, I would restrict yourself to gentle exercises -- modified bodyweight (until you know you can tolerate full weight on your joints without hurting yourself), yoga, SLOW walking with strict time limits to try to build up your endurance (DON'T walk until it hurts, obviously). You might also consider aqua therapy/aqua exercise, moving around in water to take pressure off your joints to build up strength in your muscles. There's some stuff out there for working out in a pool that may help you avoid worsening your conditions.
  14. So, I've been reading the blog and waffling a little bit about whether or not a fitness community makes sense for me to join, but I'm here. I have a few major challenges to the concept of "fitness" that have made it hard for me even though I take my health very seriously. Before I launch into my "fitness story", let me introduce myself! I'm 25, I live a few hours from Washington DC with my amazing fiancee, A, a PhD student in history. I'm a graduate student studying medieval religion, currently writing my thesis. 3 weeks till the first draft is due! Wish me luck! I'm also a huge geek -- I grew up in a very Star Wars house (my dad showed me the Star Wars fanfiction he typed on a typewriter back in the day back between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back! Old-school, Dad.) and I met my fiancee through Tolkien roleplaying online. Tolkien has been my first and enduring fandom love, and my favorite characters are Boromir and Denethor (ask me about Gondor!). I play Lord of the Rings Online occasionally though I'm not at a very high level (Loremasters represent!). Most of my friends are fandom friends I met online talking geeky. I have a lot of food restrictions, so I've learned to love to cook and bake. I also write speculative fiction that combines my research in the medieval world with urban fantasy, science fiction, and weird tales. Writing is actually my main hobby. I'm also a huge balletomane (my lady love takes lessons and is wild about it) so if you're a ballet person come sit by me. I'm also chronically ill. I have the hypermobile type of ehlers-danlos syndrome, which is a short way of saying: "every major joint in my body dislocates at least partially". Not for any particular reason. Sleeping, sitting in a chair, and normal body movement are major culprits. I have subluxations (mini-dislocations) and larger dislocations daily. Here's a list: both knees, both shoulders, some of my toes on both feet, my elbows, a couple of ribs. When I sublux joints, I pinch nerves, which is excruciating, including ones in my arms, my hips, my neck, my shoulders, and my hands. I also have chronically inflamed muscle tissue that is extremely painful. I take a lot of medication for my conditions, and my health yo-yos based on the weather. I am gluten-free, egg-free, and 90% dairy free (just cheese, sometimes, or a cup of house chai at my favorite tea place). I make 95% of all my food at home, and it's low-carb (but not paleo because I'm broke and my budget and I love legumes). My fiancee and I make fabulous, vegetable and protein-heavy food at home. We cook from around the world -- Indian food, Mexican food, Asian-inspired cuisine, Russian food, North African and Mediterranean. We've been completely gluten-free 3 years, and it's made a huge difference in both our health (she's chronically ill too). While it didn't used to be, my weight has been a sore spot in my life for a while. Over the past year my weight's been going up. I couldn't figure it out at first, because my fiancee's weight has decreased gradually from diet alone as she's very low activity. I'm eating better than I ever did earlier in life, I sleep better than I ever have, my medications mean on average I feel better than I ever expected... but there's the problem! I'm on a medication for chronic pain that makes me gain weight. I went from 155lb to between 165-170 (I don't have a scale, this is from doctors offices) last year, with every weight creep associated with increasing the dose of the medication. I don't care about the number, but for the first time in my life I am starting to have a visible stomach. For obvious reasons, exercising can be pretty tough for me. And the kinds of exercises I can do are pretty limited because of my joint hypermobility -- I can do bodyweight, but not anything that involves bending my knees and straightening them again quickly. I used to do modified yoga and still do it occasionally. And I can walk but I have to be careful with that as if I walk on the wrong surfaces (ie: concrete and sidewalks and the only places there are to walk in my town) I'll dislocate my toes and screw up my knees and limp for the next 3 days. But I've got to keep this medication-caused weight creep under control -- I'm getting married on Halloween and I want to look like the man my fiancee deserves. And my conditions will only get worse if I don't get proactive now -- this might be the best I ever feel. What I'm doing right now is a small number of push-ups, sit-ups, plank, and strengthening yoga exercises. I also try to pace a mile in my living room at least every other day (now that spring seems to finally be in the Mid-Atlantic I might take my mile outside if I can find somewhere to walk). I haven't been doing either very long, only a week or two. I tried a high-intensity push-ups routine in the winter to work on my shoulder stability but it was too hard on my shoulders and I had to stop; now I am pushing myself to count one more of my exercises every day than the day before. (Today's goal: 15 push-ups/65 sit-ups/45 seconds of plank/4 sets of bridge for 1 minute). I've put visible muscle on my arms and shoulders even though I'm not doing very much, and I'm definitely stronger when my shoulders aren't going haywire, so I guess at least I'm doing my upper body right. My diet is already so restricted by income and allergies that I'm just not interested in paleo (though, frankly, many of my meals are paleo anyway if they don't have legumes or rice). According to my best calculations, because I eat almost no processed food and very few carbs (I really only eat GF bread if I make it, which happens once every few weeks, and I make it with grains-that-aren't-actually-grains so it has a very high protein payload for a relatively small carb payoff; we eat rice about twice a week if that) I'm getting between 1700-2000 calories a day, which OUGHT to make me shed pounds, but no dice. I certainly can't eat less without fucking up my already screwed up metabolism. I'm frankly contemplating adding more meals into my day because I spend a lot of time uncomfortably hungry. The only thing I can think to try is to control my sugar intake. I take sugar in coffee and do eat sweets (mostly chocolate, or in the form of a natural sugar carbonated beverage; occasionally in the form of baked goods I make myself) every couple of days, often when my pain is really high. I had though to try to restrict my sugar intake to 30g a day -- if I put sugar in my coffee it's going to have to come out somewhere else. I've tended to just ignore the sugar content of stuff, presuming it'll all come out in the wash. But it frankly makes more sense to plan for my indulgences since I'm having weight problems. I guess I'm looking for a bit of cheerleading. My fiancee can't exercise with me, though she's very supportive, so I'm kind of alone in my living room walking back and forth (my cat thinks it's a game! I hold a ribbon stick in my hand and let him chase it -- he's getting more of a workout than I am) pretending I am getting closer to Minas Tirith. I'd love to hear from other people with chronic pain how you stay consistent when pain flares up (the big reason I tend to fall off the bandwagon) and maybe hear ideas if anyone has bodyweight exercises that don't involve tons of elbow and knee bending that I might be able to incorporate into what I'm already doing. I'm also looking forward to getting to know people who won't think it's weird that sometimes when I feel really cruddy, I pretend I'm a wounded Gondorian soldier on medical leave, trying to get back in the race so we can kick Mordor in the teeth...
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