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