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Archive for January, 2010

Bad Blogger

(Source)

10. Forget to post

9. Forget to post

8. Forget to post

7. Forget to post

6. Forget to post

5. Forget to post

4. Forget to post

3. Forget to post

2. Forget to post

1. Forget to post

Honestly..I keep forgetting to post! Or take pictures of food, or document ANYTHING, REALLY.

I am just a bad blogger. I’m owning up to it, and hoping to do better this week!

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2 years ago I was running contently, working on mileage. Sure, I only ran about 5 miles at a stretch, but it was still awesome – I loved the high, and loved how it changed my body.
Then the pain started. It radiated down my left buttock and sometimes around my hip as well. Slowly, at first – a little stiff in the left glute when getting out of bed in the morning, a twinge here and there throughout my desk-job work day.
And then it got worse. And worse. And then I thought…”My god, I’m only 27 and I have sciatica!? How is that possible?!”
A trip to the doctor later (where he had me do some simple stretches that I, essentially, failed at doing pain-free) I had a script for 6 weeks of physical therapy, 3x a week.
The physical therapist had me do similar stretches (sad. Laying on my back, I couldn’t stretch my leg past 45 degrees up in the air!!), she measured me to make sure my legs were the same length (they’re identical. Apparently that’s uncommon), and then checked my hips (which were horribly out of alignment). Based on my pain complaints, I was diagnosed with piriformis syndrome, and told to quit running until I was rehabbed.
I ended up doing 8 weeks of physical therapy, 3 times a week. I learned stretches, increased my flexibility, had deep tissue massage, and learned techniques to strengthen my core, lower back, glutes, and hip flexors.
I was approved to quit PT and run again, however, after only one month of running, I was back in pain. I quit running again, went back to all the education I had been given during PT, and rehabbed the inflammation in my piriformis.
I tried running AGAIN – and 3 weeks in, I was once again in excruciating pain.
I have been unsuccessful in eliminating this problem on my own….but have learned a lot about it throughout my struggles. To date, I am not running, but hope to try again this spring when the weather clears up.
In the meantime, here is some of what I’ve learned…
What Ive Learned:

  • 2 million Americans suffer from Piriformis Syndrome – Sports Injury Handbook (Im certainly not alone!)
  • Women are 6 times as likely to have Piriformis Syndrome –Fundamentals of Orthopaedics
  • 15% of people have a condition that predisposes them to Piriformis Syndrome. In these cases, the sciatica nerve goes through (instead of around) the piriformis muscle, causing irritation and sciatic nerve pain. (Mayo Clinic) – this is me!
  • Piriformis syndrome can be caused by imbalances in the core muscles pull the pelvic bones and hip joints out of place, which causes the piriformis muscle to contract and shorten, creating pressure on the nerve (Source)
  • Another common cause of piriformis pain is overuse… runners, bicyclists, and rowers commonly complain of piriformis pain (Source)
  • Piriformis pain often feels like a radiating pain from deep within the left buttock. It can also travel around the side of your hip. It often continues to hurt, long after the activity that caused it (for me, running) had ended.
Triggers
Triggers for continued piriformis pain (for me) included…
  • Sitting for extended periods of time (I work a desk job, but I make sure I get up, move, and stretch about once per hour)
  • Stair machines at the gym or using stairs for cardio (such as at a park, or at home, or on bleachers)
  • Running
Treatments
You should speak to your doctor about which treatment is best for you, however, most treatments for piriformis syndrome include…
  • Stretching and increasing flexibility. Especially of the hamstrings, lower back/core, and hip flexors
  • Balance work (which helps strengthen and balance the hip flexors and core, making the body more balanced as a whole)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Massage Therapy
  • Discontinue activities that aggravate the problem (like running and stairs for me!) –this one makes me unhappy!
Below are some of the stretches I do. I do these every day I am active, and every day I am sitting at my desk….this prevents my hamstrings and lower back from getting to tight, and pulling on my piriformis/hip.
I don’t do all of these stretches every day – I’ll pick 5-6 and do those and then pick a different set, to keep expanding my flexibility…when I began with this problem, I could barely touch my knees in a forward bend. Now I can wrap my hands around the bottoms of my feet! LOL
Stretches:
Spinal Roll (front to back)
Spinal Roll (side to side…I find if I do this one JUST right, I can feel it massaging the ‘knot’ that is my piriformis muscle)
Hamstring Stretch with Belt/Towel (it’s #5 at that link)
Sitting Crossed Piriformis Stretch (it’s #8 at that link)
Assisted Plow Pose (yoga pose…I don’t go that far. I support my lower back with my hands, and stretch my legs out over my head, almost horizontal)
Pigeon Pose (yoga pose)
In addition, I do these strengthening exercises 2-3 times a week. My PT also gave me several good cable exercises, however, my gym is not equipped for me to use them, so I’m not including them here.
Leg lifts – lying on my side, lift top leg, keeping hips straight
Leg lifts – lying on side, place foot of top leg on the floor in front of your bottom knee, and then lift bottom leg
Leg lifts – lying on your back, abs tight and lower back against the floor, one foot flat on the ground, the other leg laying straight out; raise the leg laying straight out to about 45 degrees and lower; repeat and switch legs.
Bridges (#11)
Wall Squats (I squat against the wall – you can also use an exercise/swiss ball between you and the wall – and then I hold that squat for ~60 seconds. Stand up, stretch a bit, and repeat)
Bosu Ball Balance (I stand on a bosu on one leg and work on my balance. Sometimes I stand on the ball, sometimes the flat disc, and sometimes I even close my eyes. LOL)
I also find that incorporating yoga into my fitness has helped immensely. Yoga contains a lot of hip opening flows, and it helps my hips stay centered and keeps me from being pulled off balance.
Also, the foam roller and/or a tennis ball are your best friends. The foam roller is quite popular with runners for all types of tight muscles, and works equally well on piriformis issues. A simple tennis ball can also help you massage your piriformis muscle if it’s causing you pain (you can do it against a wall, or laying on the ground).
And lastly – ice and heat. I’ve found both to be quite helpful early in my piriformis pain.
As with anything, if you are in pain or are concerned that something is wrong, please see your doctor. They can give you the best treatment options for you!
Resources

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Still experimenting with how often I post. I am unable to do so from work, and my evenings tend to be pretty packed, as I do my workouts after work…so weekends it is!

Here’s what this week looks like…

Breakfasts: I’m armed with all the ingredients for the following…I like to alternate so I don’t get bored.

  • Nature’s Path Red Berry Crunch with 1% milk, blueberries, banana
  • Ezekiel English Muffin with egg whites, turkey sausage, and cheese
  • Oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar, or peanut butter

Lunches: I like re-using lunches throughout the week so I rarely plan more than 2 options…then I just alternate them, leaving a free day so I can get something at the farmer’s market near my workplace for lunch.

  • Vegetarian black bean chili (I’ve been eating Amy’s….does anyone have a good homemade recipe?) with salad
  • Healthified chicken salad (with chicken, plain yogurt, celery, grapes, onion, and dill) stuffed in a whole wheat pita or lavash with plenty of raw veggies, sweet potato fries
  • Salad with leftover chicken and vidalia onion dressing

Dinners: My dinners are listed every monday over at my food blog

Exercise: I’ll be continuing with the same plan as last week, however, this week will be a heavy weights week. Rather than creating  a new plan, my intention is to do one more round (2 weeks) of this current plan, and by then I should be done reading The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and I’d like to give their plan at go at that point.

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Workout

Current fitness schedule…

I haven’t decided how I want to post my workouts here. I may just post my 4-6 week plan each time I change it. I haven’t decided yet.

Generally, I change my workouts every 4-6 weeks. In the past I’ve focused more on changing my weight lifting routines, but I also need to make it a point to incorporate new kinds of cardio and yoga and strength/balance exercises as well.

For example, I can see looking at my schedule below that I’ve become a slave to the steady state workout. Time to incorporate different time frames and some HIIT!

I also need to re-focus my efforts on strengthening and loosening my hip flexors/adductors/glutes so I can attempt running again…maybe in the spring!

I’m actually getting ready to prep a new workout, but this one was awesome, so I’m recording it for posterity..and so I can use it again sometime. LOL

 

Monday:

Cardio

30 minutes steady-state stationary bike (using a moderate heart rate setting…about 140-150 bpm for me)

 

Strength – Back/Biceps

*I alternate weeks/weight. So, for example:

Week 1: 3 sets of 12 reps (lighter weight)

Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps (higher weight)

 

Lateral pull down

Reverse grip pull down

One-arm cable row Alternating Seated Dumbbell Curls

Standing Preacher Bench Curls

Alternating Seated Hammer Curls

 

Core

Plank on forearms (50 seconds) x 3

Side Plank (30 seconds) x 3 each side

Reverse Plank (30 seconds) x 3

Bird Dogs 12 x 3

 

Stretching 

Piriformis Stretch 1 (30 seconds) x 2

Piriformis Stretch 2 (30 seconds) x 2

Sun Salutations (4)

Hamstring Stretch (30 seconds) x 3 – I do this one with my opposite leg flat on the ground, though

Spinal Roll (Front to Back)

Spinal Roll (Side to Side)

 

Tuesday

Cardio

30 minutes steady-state cardio elliptical (moderate HR)

 

Strength – Chest/Triceps

*I alternate weeks/weight. So, for example:

Week 1: 3 sets of 12 reps (lighter weight)

Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps (higher weight)

 

Smith Machine Flat Bench Press

Incline Fly

Incline Press

Lying Tricep Extension

Cable Bent-Over Tricep Extension

Cable Pushdown

 

Piriformis Exercises

Pelvic Tilt – 12 x 3

Bridges – 12 x 3

Wall Squat with Exercise Ball – (30 seconds) x 10

Straight Leg Raise – 12 x 3

 

Stretching

Piriformis Stretch 1 (30 seconds) x 2

Piriformis Stretch 2 (30 seconds) x 2

Sun Salutations (4)

Hamstring Stretch (30 seconds) x 3 – I do this one with my opposite leg flat on the ground, though

Spinal Roll (Front to Back)

Spinal Roll (Side to Side)

 

Wednesday

At-Home Yoga Practice. An easy, no-sweat yoga focused on stretching. I really love this one but am looking for new ones if anybody has any recommendations?

 

Thursday

Cardio

30 minutes steady state cardio stationary bike (moderate HR)

 

Strength – Legs/Glutes

*I alternate weeks/weight. So, for example:

Week 1: 3 sets of 12 reps (lighter weight)

Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps (higher weight)

 

Plate Slide – Similar to the link, however, instead of placing my lunged-out foot on a slippery surface, I place a 5 lb plate weight on the inside of my foot, and slide the weight back to standing

One-Legged Deadlift

Donkey Kicks

Round-The-Clock Lunges (Front Lunge, Side Lunge, Rear Lunge; that’s one rep) 12 x 3 (Light week); 6 x 3 (Heavy week)

Pile Squats

 

Core

Plank on forearms (50 seconds) x 3

Side Plank (30 seconds) x 3 each side

Reverse Plank (30 seconds) x 3

Bird Dogs 12 x 3

 

Stretching

Piriformis Stretch 1 (30 seconds) x 2

Piriformis Stretch 2 (30 seconds) x 2

Sun Salutations (4)

Hamstring Stretch (30 seconds) x 3 – I do this one with my opposite leg flat on the ground, though

Spinal Roll (Front to Back)

Spinal Roll (Side to Side)

 

Friday

Cardio

30 minutes steady state cardio elliptical (moderate HR)

 

Strength – Calves and Shoulders

*I alternate weeks/weight. So, for example:

Week 1: 3 sets of 12 reps (lighter weight)

Week 2: 3 sets of 6 reps (higher weight)

 

Standing Calf Raises on Step – (3 ways – feet facing straight forward, toes turned slightly in, toes turned slightly out – working different angles of your calf muscles)

Seated Calf Raises

Dumbbell Lateral Raise (standing straight; weights out to each side)

Bent Over Reverse Fly (similar to this, but I stand with knees bent, abs tight, and body slightly bent forward from the hips)

Arnold Press

 

Piriformis Exercises

Pelvic Tilt – 12 x 3

Bridges – 12 x 3

Wall Squat with Exercise Ball – (30 seconds) x 10

Straight Leg Raise – 12 x 3

 

Technorati Tags:

Piriformis Stretch 1 (30 seconds) x 2

Piriformis Stretch 2 (30 seconds) x 2

Sun Salutations (4)

Hamstring Stretch (30 seconds) x 3 – I do this one with my opposite leg flat on the ground, though

Spinal Roll (Front to Back)

Spinal Roll (Side to Side)

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Goals for 2010

I kid, I kid. But I do love me some Calvin & Hobbes.

I do agree with Mere, though — I like the word “Goals” better than “Resolutions”

And by all means — don’t just make new goals on New Years! As you achieve goals you’ve set for yourself — make new ones! Keep moving forward!

And if you have goals you haven’t met — re-evaluate them. Are they possible? Are there things or people standing in your way of the goal? Can you do anything about those things or people standing in your way?

Alright — off the soapbox.

Below are my goals for 2010 — at least the initial set. I’ve come a long way in my fitness and eating goals, but I still have a lot of room to improve. These are the items I’ve chosen to work on:

  • Try 30 days with no white sugar: This is more just a scientific test on my body. While I try to limit white sugar intake, it seems like it’s all too easy to scarf down something full of sugar when I’m stressed out, tired, hungry, whatever. I’d like to try minimizing the amount of white sugar in my diet to see how it makes me feel. The biggest aspect of this challenge will probably be the “hidden sugar” in so many products. I imagine this will just make me eat cleaner, but we shall see.
  • Try 30 days with no white flour: I should note that this will not co-incide with the white sugar challenge…at least not initially. Based on my success rate of doing them independently, I may come back later and do them together. I don’t anticipate as much trouble with this challenge as the sugar challenge. As a result of IBS and other digestive problems over the years, I tend to already eat most grain items in whole form. However, I do still occasionally eat white flour items, and would like to see how it feels with it completely out of my system.
  • Start a health blog to better keep track of my workouts, healthy eats, and other items that don’t really belong on my cooking blog:  Heyyyyyy — check! I’m doing that right now! LOL
  • Strive for 1-2 vegetarian lunches per week: I am, admittedly a huge carnivore. I love meat. Especially poultry. But I acknowledge that vegetarian options can be healthy, delicious, filling, and full of protein as well, and would like to learn to incorporate more of that into my life. I’m beginning with lunch, which I completely control as I pack my own lunches for work.
  • Include at least one fish and/or vegetarian dinner in each week’s meal plan: My meal plan gets posted each Monday over on my cooking blog, and I’m going to strive to include more fish and vegetarian options for our dinners. I am concerned about vegetarian options, as DH is a huge meat eater. But I’m willing to try!
  • Expand my use of the gym — try yoga and spinning classes at the YMCA: I am a bit of a loner at the gym (DH goes with me, but we work out independently) and so I’ve been awfully shy all these years about going to classes. I don’t know anyone! And I know NOTHING about spinning! But I’m going to try to overcome that fear and try the class. As far as yoga goes, I’ve always done home practice, but I acknowledge how beneficial classes can be, and instructors that can assist you, so I want to try it out.
  • Continue to work on strengthening/stretching my hip flexors, lower back, and core: These were the instructions I was given at physical therapy when I was rehabbed for piriformis syndrome in early 2009. I want to be able to run again, and want to focus on doing the exercises and stretches I need to get back in the game.
  • Use C25K to get back into running again: This one will depend on the health of my hip. But I’m hoping with a structured plan and continuing to exercise and strengthen my hips, I can get back out on the running trail again.

There they are! That’s what I’ll be working on for the next few months — here’s to 2010!

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Welcome!

I learned early on in my food blogging days that even when you think nobody’s reading — somebody is! So welcome!

Head on over to the “About” page to learn more about why I started this blog….otherwise, we’ll just get this show on the road. 🙂

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