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

MaƱana 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....

Monday, 11 June 2012

2nd gym session

For those that didn't read my last post or are unfamiliar with my situation, here's a quick recap:

I'm in constant pain on a daily basis due to a condition called Hypermobility Syndrome. I have it in my elbows, knees, hips, hands & possibly my ankles. Basically, my joints are mega flexible. Unlike normal people, my joints have no stopping point and continue to move beyond where they're supposed to. This causes my muscles to struggle - my muscles are what keep me upright, and they really have a tough time stabilising my body due to my joints. They work extra hard making them ache, feel fatigued and actually switch off altogether. My lack of activity has been part of the problem. My brain has stopped me from moving much in an effort to protect my back from harm. But by doing so, my back/core muscles have switched off & the little ones are taking all the brunt. I need to retrain my brain into allowing these muscles to switch back on and help keep me moving. After a particularly bad morning, my husband Terry decided that it was time for him to step in and help sort this problem out. I've started this blog to keep up with my progress in the vain hope it'll actually work.

After my first gym session I was aching like fuck for days. It was quite weird how it happened; I was sore the day after and even worse the day after that. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to do my 2nd session I was that sore. Luckily on the day, I woke up feeling a lot better.

As usual, Terry went off to train with Jay whilst me & Emmy got down to business. The initial plan on the cross trainer was to do a minute more than last time. It was going quite well, with me chatting away & not getting too out of breath - Emmy decided I should try to make 10 minutes instead of the planned 6.5. I got to 10 minutes & it was decided for me that I should carry on until I reached a distance of 2km! I ended up doing 2km in under 12 minutes keeping my speed between 10-15 the whole way. Jelly legs weren't as bad as last time either, result! Although my heart rate did get up to 190 according to the machine, so I was convinced that I was on the verge of a heart attack. This didn't wash with Emmy and she made me carry on with the session anyway!

Next stop was the dumbbells. I was training my shoulders, biceps & triceps with pretty little blue weights while Emmy used much bigger ones - well, she is a power lifter, so I shouldn't feel too embarrassed... ;P

I did 3 sets of 12 reps on the time I got to my triceps, I felt like my arms were going to fall off. Emmy went into the store room giving me the perfect opportunity to cheat (I didn't) and along came Terry & made the weight bloody heavier! Interfering git, I almost bust a blood vessel finishing that particular workout. I felt quite pleased with my session and was glad it was over... But because Terry & Jay were outside doing frame carry, Emmy decided that we should carry on and utilise the time we had left while waiting for the 2 slow coaches to finish :/ I was cursing them, believe me.

I was instructed to do some ab work, starting with that thing where you hold your weight up with your arms & lift your legs up so you're using your core to pull them up. Like I said before, I'm not very technical or in the know when it comes to the gym so please try to imagine what I'm getting at with my shit descriptions ;) I could not lift my legs out straight in front of me, my core is just too weak. So I just lifted my knees up to my chest which does pretty much the same thing, just not as advanced as some people... I then went on the sit up bench thing (you hook your feet under & lay backwards at about 45 degrees - you know what I mean haha) and couldn't go all the way back without my back spasming & suffering severe pain. So I went back as far as my crippled body would allow & did 3 sets of 12 reps again. I felt like I was going to die by this point. Again, Terry came over & was telling me to get on with it and that it'd help my back loads. I said I wasn't flexible enough to do it properly & said how would you like it! He then showed me how easy it was. Fucker. What a show off, I didn't realise how flexible he actually is considering he's always saying how inflexible he is... But there you go; inflexible for him is way more flexible than your average person - I need to get my head round this as I felt totally useless & mongy doing everything.

I'm really aching today, I feel very sore particularly in my biceps. Triceps feel ok, traps are a little sore, the muscles above my boobies are very sore and my abs are killing me. I tried to turn over in bed this morning & screamed. It was a combination of regular back pain & gym pain, what a lucky girl ;)

As much as I hate the gym & exercise in general, I'm actually really enjoying doing this. I think it's mainly because of the social side of it, I get to see Jay & Emmy every time I go and have a laugh afterwards. I also think that because Emmy is trying so hard to get me better, I want to do well not just for me, but for her too. Bulks is definitely the most comfortable gym I've ever been to; no bitchiness, no queues for machines & just a general all round relaxed atmosphere. I think I'll stay :D

I'm going to try and post some pictures on here, hopefully it'll work but if not I'll try again later when I'm on the computer.

Another thing - any girls doing lifting in the gym; use gloves!! Calluses are not nice and make your hands feel all manly. I was sent some amazing leather gloves with built in wrist support from POW! Performance Gear. I used them for the first time yesterday and they were amazing. Really helped my wrists feel stable (as they're so wobbly normally due to HMS) and my hands are thankful for the padded leather! I have tiny hands (size 5.5-6 in surgical gloves) and I managed to get a pair from POW in an extra small size :) little people need equipment too :)

Back to work tomorrow :( I'll be having to change my training times around quite a bit and probably be trained by the mean giant aka Terry as Emmy will be busy teaching & doing business type stuff! So you'll probably find my next blog updates will be a lot more moany and sweary if I have my husband training me! Haha

Thanks for reading! :)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

First day at the gym

I was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome early this year, after suffering with debilitating back pain since I was a teenager. It has got to the point where I can't even get out of bed without being picked up - luckily for me, my husband is quite strong & doesn't have trouble hoisting me up on a daily basis ;)

I joined the gym with Terry back in 2008 & was noticing a significant change in my levels of pain. I was waking up feeling fairly loose & without as much pain as usual. Sounds like something I'd stick with, right? Unfortunately, I came down with swine flu about 2-3 months into my routine, which meant resting & being quarantined until I was better. This was closely followed by us moving into our first home together and then being royally stitched up by the 'popular brand name' gym we were attending. So all in all, it went to shit and I went back to my usual lazy lifestyle.

According to the decent physios & chiros I've seen over the years, my sedentary lifestyle is my brain's way of protecting my back. By not moving, I'm not damaging myself further. But I'm also not doing myself any favours by doing fuck all.

This morning I woke up & was unable to move. So much so, I couldn't even get my painkillers out of my bag which is right next to the bed. By the time Terry came up to rescue me, I was in a right state - crying, panicking & feeling sorry for myself. He got so pissed off about the shit treatment I've been receiving from the NHS that he decided there and then that he'd take matters into his own hands and help me get better through strength training. I can't get any worse, so what do I have to lose...?

We went to Bulks Power & Strength Gym in Gravesend which is owned by our good friend Emmy and endorsed by a top British strongman, Jay Hughes. I've been there a few times to 'supervise' and to watch competitions, but this was the first time I'd embarked on training for myself!

Terry was squatting with Jay & Clayton, so Emmy kindly said she'd take me through a workout herself to save him being distracted with my exercises rather than his own.

I did 1km on the cross trainer in 5 1/2 minutes to warm up before doing any weights. I did better than I expected; although my legs were wobbly afterwards, I didn't feel like I was having a heart attack which was a nice bonus!

I did some deadlifting for reps, some squatting with a 5kg medicine ball after we decided using the bar was making me wobble all over the place, some lat pull downs, some more lat pull downs with a close grip & some sort of row type thing with the same machine! I'll have to work out the terminology as I go along, I guess that'll come with time! So I did all that for 3 sets of 12 reps.

My arms are quite sore, but my back feels looser than it has all day. I'm starting to ache already, but as Terry said, it'll probably get worse before if gets better. I think that gym pain is preferable to my usual crippling pain, so I'm sure I'll be able to cope with it (famous last words...)

I might post some pictures of myself tomorrow for extra motivation to see how my body changes as I go along. I'm fairly slim anyway, but I have squishy bits that I'd rather weren't there. Hopefully it will help me keep up with gym stuff - I'll probably have to sort my diet out too as I eat way too much. And unhealthily as well :-/ I won't be looking for compliments from people - I don't want comments like 'you look good already, you don't need to go to the gym' etc. I'm mainly doing this for my pain management & disability, but the added bonus of a better looking body is something everyone would want...

Thanks for reading my boring blog, I will try to keep it updated with my progress on a regular basis!