Monday, 22 October 2012

I'm blaming the weather...

Since my last post, I've done back and leg sessions; both went okay, but I'm feeling really flat and weak at the moment.

I don't like to make excuses for any shortcomings or shit sessions, but I truly do think being ill has affected my performance in the gym. It doesn't matter massively as I'm not training to compete or anything. But it's frustrating feeling like you're going backwards rather than forwards. Shit happens I suppose. Happens to everyone at some point, I just have to get my head round it and not let it piss me off too much.

I still haven't managed to get my support belt back from the place I left it; this is also a bit of a hindrance as I felt a bit wonky when I was deadlifting. I went up to 45kg (for reps) which is down 7.5kg from my best, for reps. Not the end of the world really; the weight felt fine on the first couple, I just fatigued really quickly and was struggling to breathe due to being full to the brim with mucus. Urggggh I fucking hate winter! I've struggled to sleep because I've been coughing every night, so I really can believe now that being well rested makes a huge difference to your performance.

Another thing I've been trying to do is cut down on my caffeine & sugar intake; this would probably have an impact (albeit small) on how I feel throughout a gym session. Amazing how things that are bad for you, really do make you feel good! Always the way...

After deadlifting, I went on to lat pull downs & nearly ripped my thumb off adjusting the height on the machine. Luckily I moved quickly enough and just ripped the skin off - I say luckily, it hurt like a bitch; but at least I still have my thumb attached to my hand. Always a winner! After having my bleeding thumb tended to by the lovely Clayton, I walked back over to Terry & said "well that's totally fucked everything. I can't do anything now", to which he replied "yes you can. Just don't use your thumb". Sympathetic as always. It's amazing how much you use your thumb without realising - I've been practically disabled (more than normal) since doing it. Even taking the handbrake off in my car requires a little extra thought now.

My leg day didn't go much better than the back session; as before, I felt flat and fatigued. I'm not as snotty/phlegmy as I was, so I'm assuming I'm on the mend. My squatting did not substantiate that fact. I have previously squatted 50kg for 5 reps with ease. There was definitely more to give on that occasion. Based on this, I expected to be around the same level this week, rather than declining. I worked up to 40kg and just felt flat. I even borrowed Emmy's super strong lifting belt, wore my knee supports and still felt like a sack of shit. My legs were burning, I felt wobbly and I was out of breath within 2 reps...?! Wtf! My fitness has severely decreased; I really need to work on this to be able to get through a gym session without feeling like I'm going to keel over. I know I've been really unwell literally the whole of October, but that's just taking the piss.

Moaning done (for now), I then went on to do some more leg work on machines and still felt pretty lame. Same weights as usual, same number of reps - I just struggled to get through it far more than normal. Terry also made me do some step ups onto a box while holding dumbbells. I did not fucking enjoy this one bit. The box was higher than my knees, too fucking high if you ask me! I was muttering and swearing the whole time, for all the good that did - he just told me to 'shut the fuck up and get on with it', which I ignored and carried on swearing anyway. I did some extra squats using the monolift as I felt my earlier ones were crap - I did 10 reps just to feel like I'd done something; the bar in the monolift weighs 5kg more than a regular bar, so I just did extra reps rather than adding extra weight. I followed this with complaining about having to do planks; they're so painful and boring. I did them anyway - regular and both sides. Unfortunately, a necessary evil.

Since commencing my training, things have definitely improved within my physical being. I can get myself out of bed EVERY day with no help, my pain has decreased massively and I no longer have to take as many painkillers to get through the day. In fact, I will be coming off of them entirely within the next couple of weeks. This is primarily because of my work situation, but it's best to not have to rely on narcotics in an attempt to have a normal life; ideally I'd like to make that happen by myself through training, stretching and supplements/vitamins/diet.

Considering I've done absolutely fuck all exercise most of my life, I'm surprised by how little my body has changed since starting out. My arms, shoulders & back are much more defined than they were - great; they were never problem areas to begin with. My 'ab' (note the lack of 's' on the end - I only have 1 ab) looks the same as always, as do my thighs & arse. The older I get, the more pear shaped I become. This is something that I think can only be rectified by doing fat burning exercise and changing my diet. Boo :( I can honestly say, my body is (currently) built by:

Greasy fry ups

It's my own fault for following a strongman diet on top of my already horrific eating habits. I do blame myself, no one forces me to eat like a pig. Time to change...

You can do loads of sit-ups & have amazing abs, but what's the point if they're covered in a layer of fat? You can't even see what's built up underneath. This is something that has stuck with me since first reading Bruce Lee's book about the art of the human body. Time to listen!

Anyhoo, time for bed soon as I'm ill and knackered. I'll update again soon... Promise...

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My first post in a while... A recap

I haven't posted in a while due to unforeseen circumstances. I say unforeseen, but actually I should have seen the bollocks coming due to my previous record of misfortune...

I had a couple of really positive training sessions at the gym, gaining PB's on pretty much everything I did. Terry was really pleased with my progress even more so than usual. No complaining, good form, good consistency, bigger weights & generally better/quicker recovery on my rest days. I did a 52.5kg deadlift for 2 sets of 3 reps in my last session which was impressive (for my standard) compared to my previous best of 50kg for 1 rep or 45kg for sets of 5 reps. So all was looking great in my stupid crippled world of hypermobility.

As anyone who follows my blog will remember, my car broke so I had a bit of an enforced break from the gym due to no transport. I was given a car to use by a friend; another extremely reliable German car in fact. So once again we had transport... Until the ignition barrel of reliable German car no.2 fucking broke & we couldn't turn the bastard car off; even taking the key out of the ignition did nothing, the engine just continued to run... So once again I was trapped at home with no way of getting anywhere. Luckily my best friend leant me his Toyota for a week so that I could get to work at 4am every day. That car is the ultimate in reliability; it's old as fuck, has no air con, but always gets you from A to B with no issues. Unfortunately I can't keep it forever so had to hand it back before me & Terry headed off to Los Angeles for this year's Worlds Strongest Man. Talk about shitty timing huh?? As if life wasn't already stressful enough without having to worry about that situation!

Luckily the hotel we were staying in had a gym, so I was hoping to get back on track with my training to stop myself seizing up the whole trip. I wasn't expecting a fully kitted out amazing gym, but what equipment they actually had was fantastic... For losing weight. Cross trainers & treadmills. Awesome. Both of absolutely no use to me other than for a bit of fat burning or cardio. There was also a vintage piece of equipment with some weights on it - so vintage, that we had to look at the instructions on how to use it. So basically I did some lat pull downs, some rows, chest press & some leg extensions. It was shit & I didn't bother entering the 'fitness studio' again on my trip. I contracted tonsillitis & a stomach bug too, so it was best I just let the heat do its job on my body. I've put some pictures on so you can see the crapness of the 'gym'. All I needed was a medicine ball or a couple of dumbbells. Even a bar with a few weights. It's hard to improvise around total uselessness!

I went back to Bulks yesterday for the first time in a while - car is running (touch wood) & although I'm really unwell with kidney & chest infections, I really couldn't wait to get a workout done. Seeing as I left my support belt in the pub (haha, yes! This is true) I had to do upper body until I can go & collect it. Terry trained with me which was a bit of an annoyance for him. Seeing as we take our lifts in turns, it's quite inconvenient for him to keep removing lots of 20kg plates for my go! We got through it anyway, and although I felt like a useless sack of crap, apparently I hadn't lost any strength and was still doing the same weights I was pre-broken car(s) & LA. All was not lost.

One thing I'd like to mention about post workout protein... Jay convinced me to have a protein shot as they're a lot quicker to drink, have 0g fat & sugars & have good amounts of what my body needs. I think I'll fuck that idea off in future & do some extra fat burning to be able to have a protein shake instead. It tasted foul. Like rancid, fruity, sour, coffee poop. I need to learn. Why do I keep drinking these disgusting things?? Never again.

I've learnt some very interesting things from a sports masseuse I saw prior to my trip to America. He tested my joints & said as expected, they are extremely lax because of my hypermobility. An unexpected finding, was my muscles being the exact opposite of my joints; extremely stiff & hard. A well looked after muscle should feel soft when it's not being tensed. Mine constantly feel hard & this is why I struggle to move sometimes. Another interesting point he brought up was about my working day. I sit in a train for the majority of the day. What does a train do? It shudders & vibrates when it's moving. What also does this? The power plate! Obviously a power plate is a lot more intense, but you only use them for short periods of time. 9+ hours is a very long time. For those of you who aren't sure about what a power plate is, here's a brief description: you do regular exercises while standing on or leaning on the power plate - it causes your muscles to work extra hard, thus shortening the length of your workout, but with the same results of a much longer one. By sitting in a vibrating machine all day, and quite often in a position of stress on certain joints or muscles, I'm actually exacerbating the problems that I have. I need to really take note of this and in future, sit with a more appropriate posture. Easier said than done right? But now that I'm aware of it, I can do my best to try and minimise the stress on my body.

I recently started randomly chatting with someone on a game I play on my phone, only to find he's a professor of musculoskeletal problems. Of all the people in the world, I make friends with someone who knows everything there is to know about my condition. On describing my various symptoms to him, he's said that I should be tested by a genetic specialist as he is sure that I have the vascular type of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. That type is the least common and the most dangerous as it involves the internal organs. Very frightening stuff. Armed with this information, I will be seeing my doctor this week & demanding to be sent to a specialist (again), and this time not taking no for an answer. When there's a possibility of serious health complications that could lead to my death, I think it's definitely worth pursuing further! Let's hope my doctor agrees & I don't have to force the matter by crying/complaining/having a mega tantrum.

Watch this space...

As always, I've added some pictures of me looking a total spaz in the gym. If there's anything in particular anyone would like me to add to my blogs, please do get in touch.

Adios for now :)

PS - my super cool grey t-shirt in the crappy LA gym is by 'Strong Stuff' - Phil Pfister's own brand of clothing. You can get them with keg toss, truck pull, atlas stones, dumbbell & other strongman designs on the back :)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Something a little bit different

Hi everybody (in the voice of Dr Nick Riviera)!

I'm going to do this blog in a different way to normal. I forget how many people who read this are unfamiliar with my situation, my life & the way I speak. So I'm going to do some explaining & add some facts/info as well as talking about what I've done in training.

Hypermobility can affect lots of people, but it only becomes a syndrome if you suffer side affects/consequences because of it. So when you say to someone who has HMS "oh I've got that! I don't see why you're taking painkillers/seeing a Physio/in a wheelchair as I find it really cool to show people my tricks at parties", you clearly don't have the syndrome form. My mum has hypermobility in her elbows & her mum had it in her thumbs. My mum suffers no ill effect from it, therefore it's not a syndrome. It's just a cool/gross party trick.

I am from South East London and speak as such. I forget that people don't understand some of the things I say sometimes so please ask if it makes no sense to you! I recently had someone ask me to translate bits of my last blog into American for them - I was happy to oblige ;)

I sometimes moan about my personal trainers trying to kill me. It's all said in jest & that's just how I generally am with people. They aren't random trainers that are charging me the earth to try & injure me. They are not crappy fitness instructors that have done a 2 day online course for a qualification that isn't worth shit. They are important people in my life that are taking time out of their own schedules to help me get better. I'll list them below:

Terry Hollands - my husband & full time strongman. He was a judo champion when he was younger, has played professional rugby for teams in both New Zealand & England and is now a professional strongman. The most successful British competitor since the 90's, he mainly does international competitions rather than local lower level ones. He's competed at worlds strongest man 7 times (placed 3rd last time, made the final 6 times) & will be there for an 8th time next month. He's studied all aspects of strength training, nutrition & much more to aid his sport. He's also about to gain a qualification in personal training. He's been helping me out of bed and looking after me throughout this whole saga with my HMS so knows the pain I'm going through. He's the sole reason I'm training & if it wasn't for him I'd still be bedridden most of the time.

Jay Hughes - my good friend, former bodybuilder (placing 3rd at Junior Mr Universe) and one of the top British strongmen having competed at Britain's strongest man, amateur Arnold (Schwarzenegger) Classic & most recently at Europe's strongest man plus many more. He has an excellent knowledge of all aspects of training having come from such an eclectic sporting background. His knowledge of nutrition is extremely useful, particularly for someone such as myself who doesn't want to gain any weight.

Emmy Louise - my good friend and owner of Bulks Power & Strength Gym. She's done something not many have achieved; opened a strength & fitness gym that is clean, friendly & has tonnes of equipment whatever your goal may be. She has competed in strongwoman briefly and has now turned her hand to powerlifting. She has great knowledge of all aspects of gym training & even has her own supplement range. When Terry's busy, she takes the time to train with me even though she's often already done a heavy session a few hours before!

Clayton Nicholson - my good friend, former Muay Thai fighter who is now competing in strongman; he also does full time personal training at Bulks. He knows a lot of about stretching & flexibility which is extremely useful in my case.

So that's all my little (and not so little) helpers :) they all know their stuff and aren't trying to kill/injure me. They have my best interests at heart and when I moan about them, it's just messing about. Everything I've done has been trial and error; everyone is different and it's a case of finding what's right for you and your body.

By writing this blog I've met a lot of nice people; fellow sufferers, people who genuinely want to help and of course it wouldn't be complete without the people who have no clue about anything but think they're experts regardless. I am content that lifting weights is helping my condition. It's low impact, is helping to stabilise my bendy joints due to the strengthening of my muscles and is also giving my whole body a good stretch. I can now touch my toes 8 times out of 10 instead of 0 times in 15 years! I welcome advice & ideas from fellow sufferers/qualified therapists. I don't welcome criticism & ignorance. My husband knows what he's doing, he knows my limits and knows my situation. So the next person to tell me that lifting weights is the wrong thing to do (because they know better of course) shall be told to fuck right off :)

Another thing to point out is that HMS/EDS also comes with some other nasty issues. For years I've had kidney infections & UTI's as well as digestive problems. From doing research online, I've discovered that these can be linked to my condition. I'm hoping to get referred to a specialist once I change to a better doctor who isn't a complete fucking moron. All the investigations I've previously had have led to more confusion, so hopefully I'll have some answers to share soon.

Since my last blog, I've been to the gym 3 times and am considering adding some Pilates type exercises to my days away from the gym. Again it's low impact & will help strengthen my joints & aid with my recovery from lifting. My chest, shoulders and triceps day went well; I improved on all exercises, the weights went up or stayed the same but did extra reps. So I won't bore you with details. It was the usual bench press, shoulder pressing type thing that I normally do, but mixed up a bit to keep it interesting.

Leg day was a bit of a weird one. I arrived at the gym late as I'd had a really late night/early morning at work & was knackered. Emmy trained with me (bless her, she'd already done loads already) and we did loads of squats with medicine balls, leg extensions, calf stretches and straight leg deadlifts with 20kg & 30kg. A short session, but it was enough; we were going to watch a strongman competition afterwards which is knackering just to stand there watching! Legs felt fucked, so I feel it was plenty.

Back & biceps was yesterday with Terry. Deadlifting went really well; he was monitoring my form very closely to make sure I wasn't hurting myself. He was very pleased with the progress I've made as I did a PB of 50kg for 3, then 2 after doing all my warm up lifts (30kg for 5, 35kg for 5, 45kg for 5) followed by a set of 10 at 30kg. I trialled a support belt for the first time. It doesn't add anything to the lift, it just helps to keep my back in the right position and protects me from further injury. I'd definitely recommend getting one if you ever do deadlifting. This was my most successful session to date; I tried hard and got the job done and all while keeping a good form.

I did all my usual exercises (lat pull downs, bent over rows, face pulls etc) and with good form, Terry was very pleased with my progress. At the end he wanted me to do planks which I fucking hate, but they're important for my core work. I did regular planks on the exercise ball - how hard is that shit?!!! I think Terry & Jay just wanted to have a good old laugh at me looking like a spaz. It was criminal, trying to stop myself falling off was really bloody hard; particularly because I was laughing so much. I also did some side planks on the bench, they also sucked.

I realise how lucky I am to have such a great supportive group of friends who happen to be experts in strength training; I know how difficult it must be for someone to go into the gym for the first time when they've got a condition like this that makes you feel useless and weak. So in that respect, I am super lucky that I've got company to bring along and guide me through a routine. The worst thing you can do is be trained by a dickhead who hasn't got a fucking clue what they're doing though; it's probably more damaging than just sitting on your arse. I've seen able bodied people doing ridiculous things in the gym, some of whom work as 'fitness instructors' too. So be wary of who you enlist to help you! There are cunts masquerading as saints! Check credentials!

I've added some pictures as is customary for me; the first ever pictures of me deadlifting and me with the wonderful team behind my success. Without them, I'd be crippled in bed and miserable still.

Later dudes/dudettes, feel free to ask anything if you don't understand my weirdness ;)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Hypermobility sucks!

I have 3 gym sessions to include in this post, but I'll try to keep it brief to stop the life threatening boredom from kicking in. I've had a really bad day today, but I'll talk about it some more toward the end of the post.

Session 1: chest & triceps/upper body

I had just finished my last blog post before I headed off to the gym & was feeling very positive. I felt okay, my back was holding up well & I felt like this gym session was going to be a good one. What a mistake it was being so optimistic. This is what happens when you're normally a 'glass is half empty' kind of person & you suddenly change your outlook on life which is totally against all your normal beliefs.

I started off on the treadmill, 6 minutes with an incline & trying to keep my heart rate in the fat burning zone rather than the cardio zone. Not a problem. Felt fine.
Incline bench - 3 sets of 5 reps at 17.5kg & then a drop set of 10 reps at 12.5kg. All felt fine other than my elbows hyperextending & clicking as usual. I have to really make a conscious effort to stop my elbows doing that.

Shoulder pressing on the exercise ball was next. I don't know what the hell was wrong with me, but I was struggling with 5kg dumbbells & was pushing them up & forward rather than straight up. I think it's because I have a lack of flexibility in my upper body (probably due to my back muscle issues) & I really struggled to do it properly. I told Terry that it was really hard and asked to go down in weight as it was burning. His answer was 'it's supposed to burn, you can do this weight easily.' I argued that I couldn't do it, it was too hard. He was having none of it. The truth was, I was genuinely struggling to do it and the more I stressed about it, the worse I felt. I did get through the 1 set of 10 reps with 2.5kg, followed by 2 sets of 8 reps with 5kg. Sounds pathetic really, but when you're balancing on a ball, it's a lot harder than sitting on a bench; I always decrease the weight when I'm using a ball as the balance issue makes it much tougher. Once I'd finished this exercise, I had a little bit of a meltdown. I have no idea what was wrong, I'd started off with a positive attitude and suddenly felt defeated. I asked Terry to leave me alone for a minute as I was on the verge of having a mental breakdown. I honestly felt like a huge loser and had a really low moment. This is why I am always so negative - expect the worst and anything better than bad is a bonus!

Once I'd pulled myself together I carried on with the session; tricep push downs this time. Instead of using the rope as I usually do, we tried using a bar for a change. It went fine, no problems at all considering my last exercise almost ended up in disaster.

According to the expert, the next thing I did was called a French press. Basically, I held a dumbbell above my head & lowered it behind my neck. Like the last time I did it, I kept hitting the knobbly bit at the top of my spine. It fucking hurt! My arms felt fatigued, I was balancing on that ball & I just couldn't be bothered anymore. I had lost all control with my arms and really had to struggle to not smash the fuck out of my neck! All in all, a pretty shit session. In my head, that is. Terry said I did well, but I just wasn't feeling good about it. I went and had a moan to Jay about it :) he enjoys it, I'm sure haha. Terry suggested that maybe the jump between 2.5kg & 5kg on the shoulder press was maybe what caused it. As I'm not very strong in this area, the jump is quite substantial when I'm working up to a particular weight. For Terry & other strongmen, a 2.5kg jump would feel like fuck all. Even a 10kg jump. I suppose I just need to get my head round that and forget the whole thing so it doesn't fuck with me next time I do it. Jay suggested using plates for next time, maybe taping them together to make the jumps between each set not so extreme (for me!). Maybe that's the way forward for next time.

So, off Terry went to Finland the next day! I had no personal trainer. Even considering the disastrous session I'd just had, for some mental reason I decided to go to the gym by myself on Saturday. I knew Jay would be working and he had agreed to help me out as I'm pretty clueless about what to do by myself. So here we go:

Session 2: legs & core
Personal trainer: Jay Hughes - ex-bodybuilder (he came 3rd at junior Mr Universe once upon a time!)/international & British level strongman/general all round strength & fitness expert.
You may have seen me moaning about Terry being a mean personal trainer; I stupidly thought 'Jay's so nice, he's my buddy. He'll be much less mean to me'. Yeah, right. He was worse!!

I arrived & asked what I should do with myself. Jay asked what I wanted to do, which I replied with 'not a lot. But today would normally be my leg day'. So Jay agreed I'd do legs with his help & ordered me onto the treadmill. I asked how long for. He replied: 'until I say you can get off'. Oh man, I think I've done a fuck up here! I should've stayed at home. It gets worse though. He told me what speed, what incline, that he would be checking to make sure I was doing it AND took my phone off me so I couldn't even enjoy myself with some mid-exercise social networking. He did give me a copy of Nuts magazine to 'read' though!

11 minutes later, I was allowed to stop. It was a hot day and I was definitely suffering with a sweat moustache. Not the greatest look, even for men. I barely had time to breathe before he'd conjured up my next exercise. Standing in the middle of the gym (there were people... So many people) with my arms in the air & squatting my own weight. I thought he was taking the piss to make me look a right dickhead. Nope. I had to do it. A lot. Easy, you think? It really isn't!! I'd say it's harder than squatting with with a bar & weights. By having your arms up, you really have to use your core to maintain stability. Plus, I felt like a dick. He made me do it a tonne of times until I felt like I was going to die. As soon as I'd stopped, he made me jump up & down (from the floor, mind. Not just from a standing position) until my legs nearly buckled beneath me. Straight onto the next thing. Front squatting a medicine ball. Only, he decided that the heaviest one was too light and gave a pumpkin looking thing that weighed 15kg to hold while doing it. I did fucking tonnes of squats with that too. I actually nearly collapsed a few times while doing this. Did he care? Not a jot! When I felt like I could take no more and sweat was literally dripping into my fucking eyeballs, he made me squat with it again, dropping it when he said so to replace it with every fucking medicine ball in the gym each time. Plus a kettlebell?! I must have done at least 50 squats by the time this was done. My legs felt like concrete & I was walking like I'd shit myself. Again.

No breather allowed. Next, I was doing the leg press. 5 reps, followed by one realllllllllllly slow rep, followed by 5 really fast ones. Repeat. A lot. It was burning like my pee does when my kidneys regularly decide to pack up. I was nearly crying. Jay didn't care. He helped me stand up as I was staggering all over the place and next stop was leg extensions. But not like normal. He put his hand to where I had to go to. Small reps at the bottom, up to his hand until he said stop. Then reps at the top to his hand until he said stop (felt like forever), followed with full reps. Again, until he said I could stop. I didn't even do a particularly heavy weight, but my legs were shaking, my sweat moustache was now becoming a sweat balaclava and it still wasn't over! Oh, I had to do those jumps between each exercise too! I nearly landed in a heap on many occasion!

Last thing was at least 20 reps of stretching my hamstrings. I stood on something with my heels hanging over the edge & went up on tip toes & back down as far as I could go. I also did this with me feet facing inwards, outwards and AGAIN in the regular forward position.

I've added some pictures of our session - one with me & him smiling, the other with my dying face.

Conclusion. Jay is mean! Like a militant bully! Not really, I know he's doing it for my own good. I see that now. That was 3 days ago though, so now I can see the goodness intended. At the time I thought he was trying to kill me.

So Terry's back for back & biceps. Today did not start well at all. I had to have him massage me before I could get out of bed this morning as I'd stiffened up so badly overnight. I was in fucking awful pain. I did get myself out of bed though, so still a positive... Even though it's a small one. Until my painkillers kicked in, I could barely walk faster than an old lady with a hip replacement. If I had put on a grey wig & a hideous floral lampshade skirt, you'd actually think it was a 90 year old woman struggling to walk along. So what happened? I don't actually know. I had a panic about how I was feeling, I should be getting better, not worse. I AM better, but this was horrific. I stood in the middle of the room about 3 hours after I'd got up & said to Terry 'I feel like my brain is over there (points to doorway), but my body is still stuck here trying to get there'. That's the only way I could explain it. I felt weak, fatigued, drained and useless. It was like having the flu when your whole body struggles to move and pick things up. I couldn't bend forward and get my hands past my knees - this was a MASSIVE set back. I haven't been that bad in months, lately I can get fairly close to toes straight off. After training or stretching, I can reach my toes. What the fuck has happened? I had a migraine yesterday, so maybe that may have had an effect? Or is a side effect of some bug I've acquired? I've also tried to stop taking as many painkillers, I'm wondering if this is what could've caused my issues? Who knows. I contemplated skipping the gym as I could barely pick up my shoes or even bend down to tie them. I decided to go anyway. Maybe some gentle exercise might help, it can't get much worse, right??

I drove the 15-20 mins to Bulks, and thanked god that I am currently driving an automatic car. Everything felt awful still. We decided that I'd do some serious warming up on the treadmill before I did anything else, just to see how that goes before trying weights. Problem. All the cardio equipment was in use.

Terry said I could warm up with just the bar before deadlifting instead of doing cardio. We'd see how that went and then decide whether I actually could deadlift or not. I did partial deadlifts with just the bar for 2 sets of 10 reps. Really light, really easy, something I wouldn't normally do. But as I was so crippled today, it was necessary :S

30kg deadlift. Terry said to try just 1 & see how I feel, but carry on to 5 if I can. He watched to make sure my form was alright, otherwise he'd make me stop. As I couldn't even touch my knees earlier in the day, it was a worry that I'd even be able to get down to the bar. I just about managed to get down & started my first lift. It was ok. By the 2nd rep, I was back to normal?! I did 5. I tried to touch my toes & got an inch away. This is absolutely mental shit. How can I go from looking like a crippled grandma, to being that close to touching my toes after deadlifting 30kg for 5 reps?! I then did 35kg for 5 reps, followed by 3 sets at 40kg. Terry asked if I wanted to up the weight after my first set at 40kg as my form was so good, but I decided to stick at it just in case my legs or back monged out again. I think he was as shocked as I was; he said it was the best he'd ever seen me deadlift and couldn't understand how I'd managed it after the shocking state of me this morning. One of life's mysteries I guess.

1 arm dumbbell rows - 1 set at 7.5kg for 10 reps, 2 sets of 10 at 10kg. This all felt fine & Terry said it was positive as its the heaviest I've ever done and with good form too. So I must be improving, I just didn't feel like I could do fuck all before I got there! Weird.

Lat pull downs - 1 sets of 8 reps, 1 set of 5 at a heavier weight, then a last set at the precious weight for 8.

Rear delt flys on the gym ball. With the gay dumbbells this time as it was so fucking hard to keep myself still; it was like doing a plank AND with the extra added exercise. It was really difficult, but it felt like I was using all of my body so it was beneficial.

Stiff leg deadlifts - 2 sets of 10 with 20kg

Bicep curls on the ball - 2 sets of 10, 1 set of 12 all with 5kg dumbbells.

I also touched my toes afterwards :) yay!

And that wraps it up. Thank fuck, I bet you're thinking; if you even got as far as this paragraph ;) I know this has been particularly long, but I feel I need to log all of my training for my own benefit to look back on. And hopefully if someone else has the same issues as me, they can see what I've done in comparison to their own regimes. Everyone is different, but weight training is what works for me. Physio has been a lost cause, but hopefully soon I can find one to supplement my training that's not an uninterested-NHS-just doing enough to satisfy the quota-fucktard.

There's been a lot of highs and lows over the past couple of weeks, but hopefully there'll continue to be more highs from now on.

I'm not one for lame clichés or motivational quotes, but a couple of quotes have really given me the mental strength to carry on and not just collapse in a sobbing heap. Bruce Lee has always been a massive inspiration in my life as all of my friends will know, and today when I was in a bit of a bad way, his words really helped me. His quotes are always spot on, not cheesy, and motivational; I hope you'll agree with his words that follow: -

"Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today."

"Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one"

On that note, we've come to an end. Pictures as always, until next time amigos....

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Deadlift, squats & pressing - 3 workouts in 1 blog

I've been lax with the blogging recently, so to save writing 3 separate blogs, I've done an all in one type combo thingumajig.

Session 1: upper body.
We started the session off with some bench pressing. Regular grip and with the silly little bar to begin with to see what kind of weight I could comfortably go up to without smashing myself in the tits. We kept adding more weight as it was hard to stabilise myself with such a puny little weight. I was wobbling all over the place, so ended up doing about 20kg for 3 sets of 8 reps. There was a bit of discussion about where to bring the bar down to. In female powerlifting, you generally bring the bar down to the the largest part of your boobs - so if you were to wear a massive padded bra, you could get away with doing a much smaller pressing movement ;) although that is how most powerlifters do it, it was decided by Jay & Terry that I had to bring the bar down to above my boobies as it would be far more beneficial for what I'm trying to achieve with my training. Bah. Just doesn't seem fair somehow...

Next was shoulder pressing on a machine. Just your average kind of pressing workout really. Not much to say about this. Some tricep push downs with a bar for a change instead of with the rope.

Now this was the most interesting part - Terry had a bright idea that I could do the rest of my workout on an exercise ball to help stabilise my core. He has never done this before as they don't make exercise balls to take 28 stone (shockingly!), so it was a brand new 'trial' for us both. I did shoulder pressing with dumbbells, flys & lateral raises all while balancing on this ball. And I have to say - it's actually amazing! My core felt like it had really done a lot, and the best part is, I didn't realise I was using my stomach muscles until I felt the ache afterwards. I had to lower the dumbbell weights from my usual ones due to the stability issue, but it really made my body work a lot harder than just sitting on a bench. I know it's not for everyone, but it really did my core good and also got me out of doing planks :D which I hate doing! So it was a win-win situation! I felt a bit of a knob rolling around the gym on a giant inflatable ball, but it was actually quite good fun in the end.

Session 2: legs
The gym was absolutely packed solid, so we had to improvise a bit. Instead of squatting on the smith machine, I used just a bar for the first time ever. Due to my lack of flexibility & core strength, I started out with just the bar (20kg) to get used to the feeling of it. It was digging like fuck into my shoulders & actually hurt more than the actual squatting. I moaned so much about it hurting that Terry let me use the foam cushion thing that he HATES & thinks is totally pathetic. Anything to shut me up right?! :) well Shane (Emmy's powerlifting coach) came over & demanded I stop using it as it's lame. He wants it banned from the gym & said everyone needs to man up. Terry agreed. How the hell was I supposed to carry on without my gay cushion?! Shane & Terry tweaked my technique a bit & once the bar was further down my back, the pain totally went. No foamy thing for me anymore! I did 1 set of 10 reps at 20kg, then went up to 30kg for the rest of the sets. It felt quite easy actually, I was surprised - I could definitely do more weight.

I did a couple of other leg machines & a set of kettlebell swings. Terry felt like I hadn't done enough & said 'do you really want to smash the fuck out of your legs?' to which I replied 'no I fucking don't!'. Needless to say, my opinion was ignored & he dragged the prowler outside. Basically, it's like a sled that you can load weight onto. You can either push it, or attach a harness to it & practice truck pull.

I then spent the next 10 minutes or so running around outside pushing this bastard metal thing up & down; never mind my legs. My chest felt like it was going to explode. Unfit doesn't even come into it, what a bloody joke! Terry was a bit disappointed that my legs still felt ok when we left... Next day, I could barely walk. Absolute sodding agony. So next time you see someone walking like they've shit themselves, please feel sorry for them rather than mock them! That was 7 days ago and my legs and arse still haven't recovered. Terry Hollands is a sadist. Let it be known.

Session 3: back & biceps
Deadlifting to start as usual. 30kg for 8 reps. Easy weight, good form. Upped it by 5kg and did another set of 8 reps, then another 5kg for a set of 8. As my form was still so good (yay!! Finally getting stronger/more flexible) he said to do another set at that weight. Unbeknown to me, while I was chatting to Jay, he sneaked another 5kg on; I didn't notice & did 45kg for 8 as my last set. My form was still good throughout, so this is a good positive sign. The gym is working!

Did a quick touching toes test afterwards & got to my ankles. This is also good - normally I can only get to my knees.

Bent over rows on the smith machine - it was fucking heavy compared with using the little bar with weights that I usually do. 3 sets of 8.
Hammer pull downs with 10kg each side (another improvement in weight), face pulls with the 4th pin down (compared to the start - this is also a huge improvement) and lastly, bicep curls with dumbbells on the exercise ball. More core work thrown into the equation without actually realising it. I'm a big fan of the exercise ball at the moment, it really helps get my core involved in my workouts without having to do an extra exercise. He also made me do some cardio at the end, you'll be able to see by my face how impressed I am with this...

I'd still say I'm unfit; the treadmill tells a different story as I can go for longer and in a quicker time. But to me, I still feel unfit.

One thing I would say is, I'm stronger. It's actually really noticeable :) I'm not in as much pain with my back/knees and haven't needed to be helped out of bed in a long while. This is all excellent progress for me and the fact I touched my toes last week is also a huge positive. Any positive you can take from the gym, no matter how small, can really help keep you motivated. Anyone who's followed by blog posts will see how much I struggled to get excited about going; I was the most reluctant gym goer ever. But now, I'm actually saying to Terry 'shall we go to Bulks?' quite a lot! I think I've gone mental ;)

One other thing for the ladies who might be interested: I trialled a Reebok Easytone top for the first time during my deadlift session. It's meant to assist with toning your muscles as it has strips in certain locations that apparently make your muscles work harder. I can't say for sure whether it helped with any of this, but it did improve my posture. It's so bloody tight (it was £3 in TK Maxx because it was a size XS - I might've been a bit ambitious with my size haha) that it keeps your posture in the right place; it doesn't let you slouch. This isn't a rave review, it's just an observation for anyone who's considered purchasing one :)

As always, I've added some pictures of my sessions; don't laugh, I'm trying! Haha

Feel free to ask any questions, I'm still new to this myself & welcome advice/queries from fellow cripples ;D


Friday, 27 July 2012

Fighting my way back from regression

As some of you (Facebook, twitter & real friends) may be aware due to my moaning, my car failed its MOT recently. Without a car, I can't get to the gym. I know some of you are probably thinking "don't be so lazy, just walk there instead" - Well this is not the case. Walking long distances absolutely kills my knees & hips, so I'd be useless once I got to the gym anyway. Bulks gym is actually 10 miles away from my house, so walking would NOT be an option! I would actually die & my 28 stone personal trainer wouldn't be able to walk that far without being in agony either!

You'd think that I'd be happy to have an excuse to not go to the gym seeing as I'm not a huge fan of exercise. I've actually been feeling quite upset about it. I finally got some positivity from my training & posted quite an upbeat blog last time I went. So what happens? To set me back, I have a personal disaster that stops me from continuing going upwards.

I'm not even joking - I didn't go to the gym for nearly 2 weeks & I felt it. Terry has had to massage my back a few times to stop the pain, he's helped me out of bed again & I've been in a lot more pain. Literally, from 2 weeks unfortunately enforced gym abstinence. Can you imagine how depressing this was? Finally seeing some progress, a light at the end of the tunnel; then it's snatched back due to an unforeseen circumstance that you can't resolve without a lot of money. Which I don't have.

So finally, I'm back on the road. A friend has given us the use of his car which has made such a difference. You don't realise how much you rely on something until it's gone. I went to the gym on Tuesday & had the luxury of choosing which kind of workout I wanted to do as it had been so long since my last session. I chose back. It's my favourite because I enjoy the exercises a lot more & I also chose it because my back was feeling really sore - hopefully doing some work on that area would get the blood flowing & ease the soreness a bit.

I'm going to keep this short as this is the most boring part! This is what I did:
Deadlifts - sets of 5 reps
Bent over rows with a bar
Bent over rows with dumbbells
Lat pull downs
Face pulls with a rope
And quite a lot of other stuff I can't remember! Oops. Must keep on top of this blog stuff a bit better...

I hit it really hard, complaining throughout of course ;) it was quite soul destroying going backwards and all because of something I couldn't control. Terry was a bit disappointed by my regression (not that he was blaming me) & felt a bit down in the dumps about it too. The longer I was there though, the more it became evident that I had not entirely lost EVERYTHING. I still had the same strength as before. I was still doing the same weights (that I couldn't do at the beginning, I worked my way up to them) but my flexibility was horrendous. I started my deadlifting at 30kg for a warm up. Good form, felt light & very easy for me. Great, right? If only it stayed like that! So we upped the weight to 40kg & guess what happened? I could lift it no problem - but with totally wank technique. Rounded back, straight legs, using my arms & upper back to do the lift - all because my hip flexors went so tight due to a bit of activity after a long period of inactivity. I literally could not get my arse down, it was like some sort of joke. We had to drop the weight again in an attempt to correct my form, it was pretty miserable. I looked like a total pleb, I just couldn't get myself into a decent position.

Throughout the session though, I stopped moaning as much & although my flexibility had gone to shit, it gradually loosened off the more I did. It made us both feel a bit better knowing that all was not lost. I HAD retained some semblance of fitness haha!

As always after a gym session, I tried to touch my toes. I think I've mentioned in previous blogs about the fact that I can't touch my toes, haven't been able to since I was probably in primary school, have been stuck around my knee cap area for about 10 years or so & always test out my progress by trying to go further after each training session. Well.... Drum roll.... I fucking touched my toes!!!! This may seem like a trivial thing to a normal person, but for me this is absolutely amazing! To not be able to do something for over 15 years & then to suddenly be able to do it - it's like the most amazing feeling even though it's something so small to so many. I felt so proud of myself, I really felt such a sense of achievement. Again I'll reiterate - this is a BIG deal for me. I'm hypermobile (aka Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), totally unfit & have been in agony for most of my life. To get to this point after a long break from the gym as well; when I thought I was back to square one - it's pretty exciting news to me. I'd never have gotten to this point if I just did those bullshit 'granny' physio classes. This is purely down to weight training. Nothing else. This is the reason for my blog. To capture moments like this, relive them when I'm feeling despondent and hopefully to inspire others with similar problems to take up something that seems so alien to them. I am a small woman, I am disabled. Lifting weights is helping me to get my life back; I'm not bulky, I'm not really strong, I'm not muscular. Don't be afraid to do it, it can help you too! And when it gives me the body of Jennifer Aniston (dreaming haha), I'll show you all that lifting weights can be for girls as well & that you won't end up looking like a bloke!

Back to the point about the toe touching! Clever Clayton (thanks pal) suggested trying a trick he learnt when he was doing Thai boxing. He was explaining it to us; something about tricking the mind into thinking you're more flexible than you are. We kind of looked at him blankly so the demonstration commenced. I stood with my back to the wall & he lifted my leg in front of me up to it's maximum stretch - it was pulling really badly & I felt like screaming! He held it there for 10 seconds, then started shaking & rotating my leg. He pushed my leg up further. It went. But fucking hell, I felt like my leg was going to rip out of its socket & fall to the floor spraying everyone with my blood in the process. He did this a few times with me almost crying/swearing/fainting and it does work. I didn't believe it, but it really did make a massive difference in how much I could get my leg up. He made me do the other leg too (nearly sobbed my heart out) to make it even on both sides. I touched my toes again & even managed to touch the floor with about a third of my hands flat. It hurts like fuck, but it really does the job; maybe next time I try it, I'll get someone to video it for everyone to see how it works, and also for your amusement!

This is a belated post, I've actually been twice since this session so I apologise for the close succession of the next instalment(s). As always, I've added a couple of pictures of my session. Touching my toes FUCK YEAH!!!


P.S. excuse the gym attire, it was frigging hot that day & was sweating my nuts off ;)
P.P.S. you can actually see my weird bendy knees in the side profile - they're more concave then the average knee :S #freakwatch

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Positivity. At last!

Today has been a VERY long one. I got up at 3.15am for work after about 3 hours sleep tops, so I was expecting it to be one of those bullshit days that you just have to write off or go mental about. My knees have been really painful today & my neck keeps on cracking which is not the most comfortable feeling ever. Not the best start to the day to say the least.

I got home from quite a hefty shift & sat on the computer for ages doing a whole lot of nothing while Terry was out with Martin (voice of strongman) at Bluewater (huge shopping centre for those of you non locals reading this). I decided against going as I'd only cry at my lack of money or end up abusing my credit card. I got quite comfortable & considered not bothering with the gym. When he got back, Terry asked if I wanted to go out to eat then straight to the gym. Well of course, the thought of food changed my perspective about staying in vegetating. We went to Harvester and I had -

A bowl of salad
2 bread rolls with butter (not low fat spread that tastes of plastic)
10oz rib-eye steak with a jacket potato & a shit tonne of butter again
A Rocky Horror - if you don't know what this is, you must immediately go & find out. It's awesome.

I had a ridiculously bloated stomach & felt sick - I was hoping Terry would let me go home/take it easy on me at the gym. No such luck with either option.

Once at the gym, he decided it was best I skipped the cross trainer in case I threw up my recently consumed 3000 calories & instead did some light deadlifts for a warm up/cardio.

Deadlift - 30kg (warm up lifts) 5 reps
40kg 5 reps
45kg for 3 sets of 5
Back down to 40kg for 8 reps.

Jay turned up at this point with his chicken & rice in a Tupperware pot (haha) and was also giving me some encouragement/pointers. I had support from both sides which was quite nice :) Terry said my form was LOADS better this week - although I didn't go up in weight, what I was doing was a lot better than the last few times. Although, as I got tired toward the last few reps, my form turned to crap again which is why he dropped the weight back down to 40kg.

Bent over rows - 20kg 3 sets of 8. Much better than last time and heavier. So progress again! :D

Lever row - hated this, he tried to make me do 20kg & I complained it was too heavy. Dropped the weight down & it was so easy it was ridiculous. Jay told me off for cheating & told me I was only cheating myself haha. It wasn't intentional, it really was too bloody heavy at first! So pffffft to you Hughes! ;D I got absolutely no sympathy from him, I'm not impressed! Where's the camaraderie homey?!

Kettlebell swings next. 12kg kettlebell to start, 2 sets of 10 reps. Jay said I was starting to swing weird (he even did a demonstration of my lack of coordination, cheers buddy!) because I was tired, so dropped it down to 8kg for my last 10 reps. Was much more in control again, form was better again, so was definitely worth doing.

Lat pull downs with a wide grip - 2 sets of 8 reps on the 3rd hole down. Terry said I could do less reps if I upped the weight for my next set. So went to 5th hole & did 5 reps, complained the whole time and accused Terry of taking most of the weight. So to prove that wasn't the case, he made me fucking do it again for 6 reps without even touching it. Ok, so he was right. But that's the only time he's EVER been right about anything ;) I'll let him have that one.

While I was sitting on the bench after the last exercise complaining (like you do), as I was right next to all the atlas stones, I asked if they reckoned I'd be able to lift the smallest stone. Both Terry & Jay said they reckon I could. I have no interest in becoming a strongwoman or anything like that - this exercise malarkey is purely to help my hypermobility problems. But seeing those stones & thinking it'd be cool if I could do it, I really wanted to give it a good shot. Last week, Terry was convinced I would be able to flip the small tyre (140kg or so) and I failed miserably. I didn't attack it hard enough apparently. But I felt like a right twat & a bit of a failure, so this would redeem my honour amongst... Well no one really. Just myself. I had no fucking clue even how to do it. I've seen people do it tonnes of times, seen which techniques make for more successful stone lifting. But when you go to do it yourself, it all goes out the window. It kept rolling towards me every time I tried to pick it up, so it was suggested I moved my hands further back. I picked it up off the floor using pretty much just my arms & upper back which is why I didn't get very far. Another tweak to my technique & I got it further, but I was scared I was going to fall backwards. So Jay being my spotter (and perverted opportunist haha - joking!!) I managed to lift it fairly easily onto my lap, stood up with it, got it to just under my boobies, then realised I was too short AND too far away from the platform to load it. But that was good enough for me. My first time lifting an atlas stone - and I did it 3-4 times after deadlifting & various other exercises. So it was one hell of an achievement for an inflexible, unfit, weakling like myself. Luckily Terry got photographic evidence which I'll post at the end :)

Seeing as I suggested the atlas stone experiment, I assumed that would be the end. Extra brownie points, and time for chilling. But oh no. Not in this lifetime; I was not impressed :S I had to go & do some bicep work - 3 sets of 10 reps with 5kg dumbbells (another weight increase - yay) and some face pulls with a rope. 3 sets of 5 reps with... drum roll please... the proper weights on the machine! Not the girly ones, the ones that regular boys do haha :) I think Terry was quite surprised, he was full of praise all the time we were there even though I kept telling him to go fuck himself. Clayton was also no use; I said "tell him Clayton....! He's being a prick!" to which he responded "3 sets of 5 reps. Do it." - just you wait, mister. Big trouble is heading your way!! ;)

After finishing I then spent 10 minutes debating which protein shake I wanted as I'm concerned about my weight being so hefty (for me - no offence to heavier women, but I'm small framed and a midget) - I like the bulks banoffee flavoured one best, but it's quite high in carbs; the low calorie ones (not bulks brand) are what I'd imagine bumholes to taste like. It was then pointed out that it's not the protein shakes that are the problem, it's the mountain of food I'd just consumed at the Harvester that's probably done the damage. And all the other junk I constantly stuff my face with. *sigh* salad & lean chicken for me from now on :S

For anyone interested, I'm currently 54.80kg (8st 8lbs) which is quite a lot for me. I'm at a happy weight between 7-7st 13lbs. Bearing in mind that I'm 5'3" with a very small frame.

A synopsis of the point of today's blog - if I can do this with my aching, uncooperative body then so can you. I've got stronger & fitter in a really short amount of time, purely from lifting weights & doing about 12 minutes MAXIMUM on the cross trainer each time I attend the gym. I haven't changed my diet at all, so haven't lost any weight or improved looks-wise, but I ache less & feel a lot less stiff (snigger) in the mornings too. Don't get me wrong, I'm still in pain, taking loads of painkillers & struggle to get out of bed; but I CAN get myself out of bed now which is something amazing for me. And I can almost touch my toes which is also amazing. Imagine what will happen in another month...! Watch this space.... :D

Once again, here are the thank yous:

Terry - for helping me out of bed, fetching my painkillers, popping my joints back into place, making me dinner, listening to me moan & taking it upon yourself to try & fix me when my GP/physio didn't give a shit and/or were useless.

Emmy Louise - for letting me train at Bulks, being supportive to my cause, training me when Terry's busy doing his strongman stuff & basically just being my friend :)

Jay Hughes - for making me laugh, adding your thoughts & ideas to my exercises, supporting me through my training & being my homey :D

Clayton Nicholson - for not letting me moan about training, making me get on with it, mixing my protein shakes, giving me lifts home from the pub when I'm drunk & teaching me about putting your finger up chicken's bumholes ;)

And all the other people who've given me support & words of encouragement - thanks very much! It's all appreciated and I read every single response on Facebook, twitter & on blogger's comment page.

I'm not often pleasant, so don't get used to it ;) wankers ;)

Anyway, time for bed now. More to come soon!


PS. I haven't proof read my post this time as I can't be fucked, so if there are any typos, it's because my iPhone is a dickhead & likes to autocorrect proper words into gibberish. So fuck off, I actually got an A in English ;)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

2 birds, 1 stone...

I didn't post my last training session as I had the major hump & wasn't in the mood for writing about it. I was feeling mentally wrong & my joints were hurting more than usual, so I was like a fiery ball of anger. Turns out, I had lady issues about to occur, so it explains the strange mental position I was in. A physio who also has HMS contacted me with some advice so I thought I'd ask if that was a reason that I was in more pain than usual. Very interestingly, when a woman is pregnant/hormonal it makes the joints more supple than usual. Some women end up in wheelchairs when pregnant due to hyperextension of their hip joints, I think it's called pelvic synthesis or something similar. So when I have a surge of my monthly oestrogen, not only do I get a serious case of rage, I also have extra joint pain. It was nice to find out what was behind this, rather than just feeling like a mong for no reason. Once again, thanks to Twitter for allowing me to learn more about this stupid disability!

I will be quick with my gym stuff as I'm sure a lot of people don't care/understand what I did - it's purely for my own motivation & a record of my achievements over the time I've been training. Although it's nice if any other female EDS/HMS sufferers find my workout plans useful to see where they're currently at/what can be done to make things better.

Last session
Deadlifts - working up to 45kg for sets of 5
Kettlebell swings - sets of 10 with 8kg & 12kg. An increase in weight since my last session.
Lunges with a bar, then switched to dumbbells because I was wobbling all over the place like a spaz. Got the hump & gave up a set early!
Bent over rows - 3 sets of 12 reps, can't remember the weight now.
Lat pull downs - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Bicep curls - 3 sets of 12 reps with girl sized (2.5kg) dumbbells

Felt like crap afterwards, was in a stress & couldn't be arsed to talk about it! So that was what I did last time...


Felt absolutely knackered all week for some reason. I've been put back in the office which means more regular hours. And it's making me feel soooo tired. It makes no sense to me; getting up at 3am for work makes me feel suicidal with tiredness, yet I feel prepared & (mildly) energetic for the gym. You'd think normal hours would make me feel human again, but in fact I feel more like dogshit than normal. I've swerved the gym all week due to my tiredness, but today I had to force myself as its my first time since last Thursday or Friday :/

When we turned up Jay & Emmy were just leaving, but kindly decided to stick around for a bit to chat with us. Terry & Jay had their man chats and Emmy went on the bike next to me to keep me company while I killed myself on the cross trainer. I was ready to give up at 1 mile but with Emmy's encouragement & our continuous chatting, I made it to 2 miles fairly easily. Just goes to show that a lot of it is a state of mind.

Terry took over once the Hughes family (including Monster the chow chow) went home, starting with some seated shoulder pressing in the smith machine. No weight added to the bar, I would guess it was about 15ish kg. it felt quite heavy as it doesn't have a pulley system like some others do. I suppose it's better to do it that way, more effort exerted! 3 sets of 5 reps done.

Bench pressing next. Used the smaller gay bar, but Terry decided last minute to add some weight to it which took it up to 20kg. I took a normal grip (as oppose to wide/close) brought the bar down to above my boobies to work the upper part of my chest more. As with all my pressing exercises, my elbows were clicking like fuck & were so painful afterwards. Interestingly, Terry said he could see the muscles being worked as I was doing the reps; which I take to be a good thing because:
1) it's actually working
2) it means I'm quite lean in that area, unlike some of my 'chunkier' parts ;)
I did 2 sets of 5 reps with 20kg, 1 set of 8 reps with 15kg & 1 set of 12 reps with 10kg.

Tricep push downs with a rope - 3 sets of 12 reps, not sure of weight but the pin was in the 3rd or 4th hole!

Deltoid raises - 3 sets of 12 with 2.5kg dumbbells.

Seated shoulder press with 5kg dumbbells - 3 sets of 5 - Terry had to keep hold of my elbows for a few reps as due to my hypermobility, I was bending them inwards far too much (the wrong way) which is probably why they were hurting so much. *sigh* yes, I'm a freak.

Last exercise was a French
press (holding a dumbbell in both hands above my head & lowering it behind to my neck) - 1 set of 8 reps with 5kg but I kept bashing the knobbly bit of bone on the top of my spine (fucking OUCH) so I did the last 2 sets with 2.5kg for 8 reps.

And that was that! Felt weaker than a newborn deer after all that. While Terry was doing his cardio, I had a Bulks banoffee protein shake (best protein flavour EVER) followed by a wee. It was a very satisfying wee at that.

I forgot to mention, I had my shit physio class on Tuesday & as usual, he asked me to try & touch my toes to see if there's any progress. I got to about an inch above my ankle bone - this is AMAZING for me. He was very happy that his class was working for me & asked if the exercises had helped with my pain; to which I replied 'not at all - but my husband has been taking me to the gym which is why I can now bend further than I ever have before'. He looked a bit put out, but having seen Terry beforehand, I don't think he really wanted to question his methods compared with his own. Nonetheless, I'll keep attending that pile of shit so that I can tell my doctor that it's not worked and can I be referred to someone who actually knows what they're talking about. Apparently, I have to exhaust the physio before I can be referred to a specialist. What a load of bollocks - good old NHS.

I'd also like to mention for anyone that has shit joints like myself, that I used gloves for my pressing workouts with built in wrist support. So not only do my hands stay Fairy liquid soft, I don't totally fuck my wrists up. Best of both worlds for us girly types ;D mine are from POW! Performance Gear and go small enough for little people like me which is a rarity. I'm considering getting a few other bits to aid my gym work, extra stability can't hurt right?? Another thing that keeps me going in the gym is my awesomely cool (lol) neon coordinated clothes & trainers! I bought a couple of pairs of trainers last week that are totally me, garish & bright :) I'll post some pictures next time, mainly for my own pleasure!

So the latest conclusion is - the gym seems to be helping. My muscles aren't as tight as usual, I can ALMOST touch my toes (I've never been able to do this past the age of 10) and I've managed to get out of bed by myself all week. It hasn't been pretty or graceful, but I fucking did it! Hooray! Haha simple pleasures...!

I don't want to jump the gun & jinx myself, but I'm hoping that this is finally my road to recovery. Fingers, toes & eyes all crossed.

I've included some pictures from tonight taken by Terry on his new phone, which he is very excited by (loser) - I say again, simple pleasures... ;P one is mid workout, the other is me looking depressed & like I've had enough! Quite apt I'd say!

I've also added a picture that I nicked from Heinz Ollesch for inspiration. As well as helping with my pain & freaky joints, I would like to eventually look like this (dream on) haha - obviously I'm about a whole fucking foot shorter, but you get the gist ;)

Laters amigos, hopefully another fairly positive post to come again soon... :D

Monday, 25 June 2012

Day... I've lost count (and the will to live)

Well... Where do I start! Since my last session & blog post, I've been unable to go to the gym due to all of my personal trainers buggering off to Leeds to compete in Europe's Strongest Man. Emmy was obviously going to cheer & not to compete, as that would be scary otherwise. By the by, they're a bunch of selfish arseholes for leaving me to fend for myself for 2.5 days ;) and for Terry & Jay to come back sick & injured...? Wankers. How bloody dare they.

Terry informed me that he'd be taking a week off from training due to tearing his calf muscle & straining his diaphragm (constant hiccups & being unable to breathe properly - not cool for him & annoying for me having to listen to him haha) so I took the opportunity to stand by my man & do the same. "As you're unwell & meant to be resting, I'll do the same. I don't want you overexerting yourself on my behalf." It was worth a shot - it got me nowhere as expected. In all seriousness though, it would be a waste of my previous work to stop for a week, so it's worth persevering through my misery!

I actually started the day by almost losing my rag with the physio department that is 'treating' me. A quick recap for anyone new to my blog - I go to a physiotherapist run class where they do 20 minutes of 'education' about pain (yeah, like I need to be educated on how I feel every day) and the other 40 minutes is spent doing bullshit exercises. 3 minutes at each station, basically consisting of sitting on a gym ball, slow walking on a treadmill, standing on a trampoline for balance, laying on the floor tensing my pelvic muscles & a load of other extremely mild useless exercises.

The week before the Queen's jubilee, I had my last appointment - I was informed that because it was the jubilee the next week, I'd be in the next class. It was then discovered that they'd already fully booked the class with OAP's and I'd receive a phone call for my next class. Lucky I'm taking matters into my own hands by going to the gym, if I was relying solely on this class I'd be right up shit creek. They don't seem to grasp the difference between a retired granny with a dodgy hip and a 27 year old with a job that could be at risk if I don't get my hypermobility syndrome under control. It's very frustrating - after being spoken to like I was a dickhead, I think she got the picture when I explained their fuck up & how serious this situation was. I got an apology & she sounded quite worried. Wait until I've finished my classes, I shall be writing a strongly worded letter to PALS about their uselessness!

Anyhoo, back to the gym. I had some Ready Brek before I went as its central heating for kids & I'm so fucking thick I can't work out how to make porridge without turning it into a gluey paste. So with that in my belly, it seemed a good source of slow release energy for my workout. I drank a pre-workout drink that Terry had made for me before going in, which tasted like fruity sulphur. The further I got to the bottom, the more it tasted like it had been made with Icelandic tap water. Anyone who has been to Iceland will fondly remember the smell of their water - like rotting eggs & sewage; it actually tastes alright though, unlike this swill that Terry made me drink.

I actually got a PB on the cross trainer - 1km in 4mins 45. The last time I did 1km, I did it in over 6 /12 mins. So it was quite an improvement; I don't actually feel it's because I'm any fitter, I just attacked it with a lot less trepidation than I had previously done. I felt fairly decent afterwards & had worked up quite a sweat already :-/

I went straight into deadlifting after my warm up. I started by doing 30kg for 5 reps to remind myself of the technique & for Terry to tweak anything that he wasn't happy with. I tend to have a habit of setting myself up with good form, and as soon I start lifting, round my shoulders & lift away from myself. I think because it was so light, it made it easier to screw it up. Next weight was 40kg & I found it better to keep a good form throughout. I still found the weight quite easy & did it for 5 reps. We increased the weight to 45kg for my next set which was still fairly comfortable, but by now my grip was going & I started to shake quite badly. I felt massively fatigued & had to change my grip from double overhand to a mixed grip to be able to keep hold of the bar :-/ for my last set we met in the middle & went for 42.5kg. I wanted to stay heavy, Terry wanted me to go lighter believe it or not! Another 5 reps done.

Something really wasn't right with me. I was shaking, felt flat & my hands could barely open my bottle of water. I have never felt so pathetic in the gym as I did today. I really don't know what happened, I just felt like I could collapse - I've never experienced muscle fatigue like it in my life.

I struggled on & did some bent over rows for 4 sets of 10 reps, some one arm dumbbell rows with 5kg for 3 sets of 8 reps on each arm. I also did some wide grip lat pull downs (quite light) for 3 sets of 12 reps. Terry wanted me to finish off with some hamstring work, but I couldn't use the machine as it was digging into my thighs - I have such tight quads, that even the slightest push into the muscle kills me; this is not normal! A normal person can press a finger into their muscles with quite a force & feel no pain. We decided that straight leg deadlifts were the answer... Except my hands had gone so weak that I couldn't keep hold of the bar - like I said, something really wasn't right. I suggested doing it with dumbbells instead which I just about managed to keep a grip on. I did 10kg in each hand for 3 sets of 10 reps. I finished the session with some face pulls with a rope (I just asked Terry what this was called!) - I didn't want to do it as by now I was shaking from head to toe so he let me do 1 set with 15 reps.

By the end, I felt totally fucked. I couldn't understand what went wrong. I had eaten a good meal beforehand, had a pre-workout drink and kept rehydrated throughout. It was a horrible experience & I still don't feel right 5 hours later. I've had a very small appetite for about 6 days now, as has Terry. It's possible that maybe we both have a bug - I also had extremely severe bloating for a few days before the weekend, so something must be up with us. I was sweating profusely from my face at the gym today which isn't normal for me either. Obviously, I sweat a bit, but I had to keep blotting my face every few minutes. Highly embarrassing when you suffer with shit skin & your make up has melted off.

Since my last post, I have met a fellow HMS/EDS sufferer & blogger on twitter - she has some very interesting ways of explaining how she feels & I find it fascinating to read about this condition from another persons point of view. I've asked her permission to add the link to her blog on this page; it also has a really excellent poem that a friend of hers has written. I fucking hate poetry, but this is really good & sums up chronic pain in a really apt way. I promise, her blog is a lot shorter & more interesting than mine! So please, if you can find the time, have a look & see a less sweary/different angled approach :)

Also, thanks once again to everyone at Bulks Gym for your support, POW! Performance Gear for my lifting gloves & of course my personal trainer Terry Hollands for taking the time out of your strongman training to help me out :)

I'd also like to thank Clayton for teaching me about chickens while I drank my Bulks banoffee protein shake & explaining how to get a stuck egg out of its arse. These moments are priceless! :D

Mañana peeps, up at stupid o'clock again tomorrow, what a fuck up.

Until we meet again....

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Session 5 - Terry Hollands personal trainer!

Okay, so I'm writing this while it's still fresh in my memory!

Today I'm feeling absolutely fucked. I've started work at 4am for the past 3 days & in that time I've had very little sleep. My circadian rhythm is disrupted due to my painkillers, so my body struggles to realise when it's time to sleep. For those who've never heard of the circadian rhythm, (as I hadn't until recently) your body releases melatonin at night to make you go to sleep. Shift work and certain drugs can disrupt this rhythm causing severe fatigue & problems with going into REM sleep patterns. I have both things against me. Shift work AND drugs are causing me to be drowsy and unrested. Enough of the boring sleep lesson, let's get down to business!

Emmy was teaching today so the training session was with the mean personal trainer - my husband, 3rd strongest man in the world. I only add that last bit so anyone who doesn't know us or is new to my blog, can see the difference in our situations! One of us is massively strong, dedicated & successful and the other is disabled, weak and lacking in motivation! The two together make for an odd pairing when it comes to training...

Terry decided that I would be doing shoulders, chest & triceps today - I argued and said I wanted to do back, he ignored me and won. So that's what I did... Bastard. The cross trainer was hijacked and I couldn't warm up with cardio so I did some really light dumbbells for reps to warm up with. I did incline dumbbell press, seated shoulder press (with dumbbells), seated shoulder press (with a bar), lateral raises, seated bent over rear delt raises, tricep push downs, tricep extensions, incline flyes & straight arm dumbbell pullovers. All of this was done using various dumbbell weights, depending on the exercise & how much I felt comfortable with. I think 5kg was the maximum I went up to and did 3 sets of between 8-12 reps. I have very little knowledge about any of the stuff I've just written, that's just come from Terry! As you may have guessed due to my previous blog posts where I describe things in a very amateurish way haha ;)

I did some stretching afterwards to try and stop the muscles tightening up too much. As an experiment an the end of the session, Terry asked me to bench the bar (20kg) to see if I could do it - I managed to get it up (snigger) but lost balance & struggled like fuck - apparently I didn't do too badly considering I'd just trained really hard & was knackered.

I didn't cheat on any of my exercises either - I didn't realise you could cheat and couldn't fathom why you would...? I learnt today that some men do half reps and various other cheating exercises so that they can lift more weight. Basically to show off and massage their ego; it doesn't actually benefit them at all, and just makes them look a cock. See, not just a training session, but a lesson in gym behaviour too! Quite fascinating really, especially when Terry told me that there are blokes that stand next to him looking smug doing double the weight he is - except they're doing it wrong and not benefitting themselves whereas he's doing it strict and gaining strength. So much to learn, I really didn't know that there was a world out there like this! I find it quite pathetic, really surprised me to be honest.

Emmy and Jay met us down there to go for a meal at Harvester but I was feeling really sick. I was going to have a protein shake to make me feel better but worried that it would make my appetite even worse. Emmy gave me a protein shot to stop me from filling myself up too much before our steaks. It tasted like absolute shit. As I explained at the time, I'm sorry for sounding ungrateful but holy mother of god, it tastes like arse! Oh well, if it helps my muscles repair then I suppose I'll appreciate it!

Had a really nice meal out to end a hard training session so I feel quite cheerful considering how much pain I'm in. I've been REALLY suffering with my back today for some reason, so was a bit worried that I'd be useless (more than usual). Painkillers took the edge off the pain, but it was really bothering me all day. It seems to have eased off now, but maybe because my muscle fatigue has overruled everything!

I shall leave with a couple of pictures, obviously the one of me & Terry is a piss take because I'm very aware of how puny I look haha! :)

Adios amigos, thanks again for following my boring training shit! Until next time...............

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Last week's training (sessions 3&4)

I've been a bit lax about posting recently, I think I'm in a bit of a slump.

I trained with my husband last Wednesday morning before work, so I didn't get an opportunity to do a write up about the session. It's probably for the best that I've left it this long as he nearly killed me and I would've sworn A LOT if I'd updated my blog right away!

Wednesday was my legs day. I got a PB on my cardio by getting to 1km on the cross trainer in a faster time than I'd previously done :D I did some squatting on the smith machine with no weight - due to my inflexibility & poor muscle strength, this was a far better option than doing it with a bar & weights. I have really bad balance & when I tried it the week before I felt all wobbly. Also, the general consensus seems to be that you need substantial weight on the bar to be able to get to depth and not fall over. I can't do much weight at the moment, so that's the main reason I'm doing things a bit differently.

I did some kettle bell swings with the 2nd smallest weight :) I could've done heavier, but as it was my first attempt we kept it light. I did some leg pressing and extensions, all for 3 sets of 12 reps as usual. I was really quite sore and Terry is a harsh trainer. He decides on the weight and regardless of whether it hurts or is too heavy, you have to do as you're told. He's a right knobhead! After all the leg stuff, he decided it'd be a good idea to do some planks. Yeah, what a fantastic idea that was! He wanted me to get to 20 seconds, rest & then do another 20. I could manage 10 - I felt like I was dying. I was shaking, sweating & felt like my back was going to break. I must've done about a minute total & felt like I was going to be sick afterwards. He was impressed that I didn't cheat though, I didn't realise that you could - next time...! I really fucking hate planks!!!!

The next day was much better as I trained with Emmy :) I did a bit of cardio to warm up which was killing me due to my leg soreness, so I didn't do as much as I would normally do. While I was waiting for Emmy to finish her powerlifting training, I watched Jay & Terry doing some squatting. I really wasn't feeling in the mood for training & had Terry singing to me in the car on the way there to cheer me up; he told Jay and he decided he'd sing to me as well - in the middle of the gym! I suppose it did help make me feel better! Jay decided to give me something to do while I was waiting for Emmy - I have no idea what the technical term would be but basically I held the bar mid thigh, bent forward with it (slightly bent knees) to stretch my back, then with a really fast movement & keeping it close to my body, went into an overhead press. He made me do it 8 times. Once Emmy was finished, we did back and biceps together. It's quite handy that we're both little as no adjustment is needed on any of the equipment; only the weights needed to be adjusted :) as always, we did 3 sets of 12 reps. I felt quite good afterwards and it even helped the pains in my legs.

I was supposed to go to the gym on Sunday with everyone but I got up late & didn't have time to get ready. So I dropped Terry off & just came home like a loser! I'm planning on going later on today as I feel like I'm already losing motivation to keep up with it. I really don't like the gym or inflicting extra pain on myself so it's a real struggle to keep my head in the right place.

I'm in a lot of pain with my back and hips today, so hopefully the gym will help ease it. And hopefully Terry won't be so hard on me today! I feel broken and crippled.

More updates soon....