Fitness Updates check-in, because I am a rocket scientist.

Consider this to be Part 2 of last Thursday’s post. I didn’t think I’d have much to report, but here we are!

I went ahead with my crazy idea to do Body Pump immediately after Body Combat, and now I’ve got documentation for myself (which I’m sharing with you) regarding how that went: it was really, really, really hard. End of documentation. Not exactly the notes you’d find in a rocket scientist’s journal.

Conclusion: Sunday’s double-class combo was a learning experience.

Body Combat was the first class. I threw myself into it, as usual. I always feel like I have energy to spare after a workout, but now I know that whatever’s left is not enough to fuel another 50 minutes with the same drive I applied to the first class. It was a struggle to get through Body Pump without decreasing my weights, and I was amazed that I did it! I’d just never felt so tired during a workout. Even more disconcerting, I was hungry during the workout. How does one deal with hunger during a workout?! It was a strange sensation. It made me feel weaker.

On the way home from the gym, I stopped by the water store to refill six five-gallon jugs of water. It probably wasn’t the brightest idea to haul 30 gallons of water home at that point, but I really thought it would be okay. My mind insisted, the classes are over! You’re not at the gym anymore! You can do the usual stuff! One of those three statements was a lie. My mind lied. It was not a good idea to do “the usual stuff.”

I shuffled slowly through the rest of the day, stopping to rest between steps. I had to gather energy for the next few steps. I had to take a few breaths to overcome dizziness. Oh, and the pain! Weirdly, all of my lower-body joints flared at once.

I felt like I was going to pass out as I did the laundry and some minor household tasks, yet somehow I managed to assist Callaghan in moving some Very Heavy Things in the house. It had to be done, and again, my mind said, Drive ON, Soldier. Since my week at the War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center, I’m now very aware of how my mind does this… but I don’t think of it until after the fact.

The next day was yesterday. I felt that I had energy, but the day ended with no alleviation of the joint pain. Muscle soreness also became a factor. I finally took some Advil and flopped onto the bed with my phone. I had a feeling I would report on my experiment in today’s post, so I took a selfie there in the moment of grade-7 pain.

 

Joint pain everywhere from the waist down. Just lying here waiting for the Advil to kick in.

 

I do pride myself on how well I can flop on the bed and stay there when I’m in pain. Haha!

I took more Advil the next morning – this morning, that is – and I went back to Body Pump and I smashed my workout, because today is a NEW DAY. Last night’s pain? Ancient history, thanks to sleep and ibuprofen! Today’s Body Pump workout went well. It was kind of awesome to note the difference in how strong I felt this morning compared to how I felt in Sunday’s class post-Body Combat.

This leads me to my spin-off experiment plan, which is to do the double classes again this Sunday with just one change: I’ll skip the last track in Body Combat (core, aka ab-work), and I’ll take that time to sit and eat a protein/energy bar. I’m hoping that a little break for rest and food between classes will be restorative enough! I don’t see a need to do TWO core tracks, anyway. The one at the end of Body Pump will suffice. I do Combat for the cardio; why work abs twice in two hours?

 

 

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Dreaming of a greener day (Fitness updates!)

I’ve had this glute/hamstring issue on my left side for months now. It’s still there, even after taking two weeks off. In fact, it’s getting worse! I finally said to myself, Self, wouldn’t it be great to get in your four workouts per week without doing consecutive days?

The only way to do four workouts per week with a day of recovery between workout days is to double up classes.

Thus, I got the insane idea to do what a lot of people do and slip a day of back-to-back Combat (cardio kickboxing) and Pump (weight-training) into my schedule. This is a scenario I’ve avoided for years. IT JUST SO HAPPENS that my schedule needed re-vamping, anyway. My “primary” gym (whose name rhymes with LA HOT MESS) finally dumped Body Pump from their schedules. Hoards of Body Pump orphans flooded out into the streets in search of new classes, bloating the available ones at the OTHER gym’s various locations. (I haven’t gone to a weekend Pump class since the last one on June 1st, but I’ve heard reports of the over-crowding at these other gyms.)

So I looked at those gyms’ schedules to see where weekend back-to-back Combat/Pump classes are offered, and I decided on one to try. It’s a bit further away going south, but that means that I can skirt around the construction zone that is my entire neighborhood here in NW Tempe. I’m fine trekking out to a south Tempe class! I was specifically looking to go either north or south; I found both, and they’re both on Sunday mornings, which is also fine.

I chose the south location because its first class, Combat, starts at 9am, which is what I’m used to. I’m looking forward to it. The instructor (easily findable in the local Les Mills crowds on FB) looks to be a complete badass, also in keeping with what I’m used to.

So that’s the main fitness update this time. It’s more a gym update than a fitness update, but it’s a big change and a big deal for me to try the back-to-back class thing. I’m dropping my recently adopted Friday morning Combat class so I can take a rest day after Thursday’s Pump. Maybe this will help the situation in my left glute/hamstring. I don’t think that doing Combat and Pump one after the other will aggravate the problem, but we shall see.

As for last week in Palo Alto, I didn’t get to work out, after all, because the on-site gym was closed the whole week. (I found out when I got to its doors.) There was a lot of walking and stair-climbing in my day-to-day, though, so I did get to get moving!

 

 

My week at the War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center

At the top of my mind today: our hearts have been heavy with the recent disappearance of a dear friend, one of Callaghan’s longest-standing, closest friends here in the States. Over the last 20+ years, they’ve been co-workers, roommates, and motorcycle road trip partners, continuing to take trips together once or twice a year. The last time Davey came through here was in March, and I just hate writing all of this in the past tense. The wide-spread search for Davey was called off yesterday. Davey G. Johnson, wherever you are in the universe, we love you. Just wanted to put that out there.

—–

As promised, I’m here to fill you in on the medical experience that took me out of state for six days.

It all started when I took the Gulf War Registry Health Exam for Veterans. My results led to my experience volunteering myself to research efforts at the War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) at the V.A. in Palo Alto, California. The Palo Alto V.A. has one of the three WRIISC programs in the country, the other two being in Washington D.C. and New Jersey.

I gladly accepted the WRIISC’s invitation to donate my time and DNA to this on-going research project. The study benefits combat veterans of Southwest Asia conflicts as the research is advanced through the center’s findings.

Let me just put in here that “Gulf War Illness” remains a controversial term. It broadly refers to a spectrum of symptoms that can also be described as “chronic multi-symptom illness” or “medically unexplained illnesses” related to combat service in the Gulf War, resultant of exposure to certain agents, fumes, and environmental hazards.

My experience at the WRIISC was fantastic. There were only two of us in this round of the study, and we received the best of care. He and I were flown out to Palo Alto and housed for the week at the Defenders Lodge.

 

Tired but grateful at the end of the last day of the study.

 

Those who take part in the WRIISC studies benefit personally, as well, as the other veteran and I learned. With our study results and notes documented in the system, specialists at our home V.A. hospitals will follow up on the WRIISC team’s recommendations with pinpointed exams and further testing that may lead to official diagnoses.

The other veteran and I both left with recommendations for further neuralpsychological evaluation… what I called “brain day” of the study mainly involved a mentally exhausting three-hour battery of tests. He and I struggle with similar cognitive difficulties, so we weren’t surprised that we tested out the same in that particular category.

In addition to a complete neuralpsychological work-up, it was also recommended that I undergo evaluation for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), an illness that is apparently not uncommon amongst Gulf War veterans. For me, this would actually explain a lot.

Incidentally, I always thought it was strange that I’m tired most of the time, but I still work out with an abundance of energy in my body. I’ll often yawn before class begins and even during class between tracks in both Body Combat and Body Pump, yet when the music starts up, I’m instantly “ON.”

One of the WRIISC team members commented that soldiers are trained to power through fatigue, and many veterans never unlearn that conditioning in their bodies. When our minds recognize that it’s Go Time, we just GO, no matter how tired we are. What you see is a person with a lot of energy, because we do have a lot of energy when we’re in training mode. We have so much energy, we have some to spare after the workout is over! You can have a lot of energy while your mind is screaming “fight or flight,” even if you’re fatigued.

This might be the reason why I get my best workouts with instructors who deliver that drill-sergeant vibe. The more forceful the instructor’s commands, the better I respond. (This is more true for Body Pump, though… in Body Combat, I’m there to fight to the death no matter the instructor’s vibe.)

The underlying take-away for veterans with Gulf War Illness – for everyone, in fact – is that the mind/body connection is real.

It was wonderful to be able to volunteer and contribute to research helping other veterans with war-related illness and injuries. I never thought I’d give away my DNA for research purposes (or for any reason, for that matter), but I was happy to do it at the WRIISC. I’m grateful for the excellent care that I received, and for the light shed and answers obtained regarding my own health picture.

If you’re a Gulf War veteran experiencing health issues, I strongly recommend that you consider taking the Gulf War Registry Health Exam for Veterans.

 

 

Medical travel blog in pics, part 2. (More selfies and food pics!)

You want selfies, I got you. You want food pics, I got you. You want to know where I am and what exactly’s going on, I don’t got you. Not yet, anyway. It’s not a big deal, but I just wasn’t sure whether I was allowed to mention it. It turns out that I can, so next week Tuesday… I got you.

Here’s the rest of this medical travel week, starting with Wednesday (yesterday):

 

About to leave my room for my morning appointments

A second day of hospital bathroom selfies. Imagine that!

I helped myself to this sleeveless hooded tank when Callaghan put it in his to-donate pile. Shopping your partner’s clothing cast-offs pays off sometimes. This tank is large, but it works well over a long-sleeve top.

Last night’s Door Dash delivery: bok choy with black mushrooms and soft tofu, brown rice, and miso soup with seaweed and tofu.

The “after.” I demolished all of the bok choy, seaweed, and tofu. I ate maybe three mushrooms, and I barely touched the rice or the broth. I was really just craving the greens. They were delicious. Do you, too, feel the life flowing back into your veins when you eat the greens you’re craving?

This right here is LIFE in a plastic spoon. This seaweed was SO GOOD. There was a lot of it, too.

 

Thursday (today):

 

This selfie was taken with a timer, and, well, you know my phenomenal camera and pic skills.

I did think of looking in the mirror while taking this shot, though. Today’s outfit was my standard uniform of jeans, boots, and t-shirt.

Tonight’s Door Dasher brought this fabulous Pad Thai with a side of brown rice. I asked for broccoli with the tofu, green onions, and crushed peanuts. There was no food left for an “after” pic.

I leave early tomorrow morning! My bedside table is set for Friday.

Last night showering in this huge bathroom.

And a last-minute selfie here in the lamplight.

 

In case you’re wondering, I had Door Dash bring dinner all week because while I sincerely tried to eat the hospital food, I just couldn’t do it. Moreover, the portions here are small compared to the volume of food I normally eat, so it wouldn’t have been enough even if I did want to eat it. I wasn’t the only one who sought food from other places! No one’s meals went to waste, though. We know we can eat from other peoples’ trays if they go unclaimed. I did forage through my tray every once in a while to see whether there was anything I wanted. One time, I found some broccoli. I scarfed it down inside of two minutes. It wasn’t bad. Broccoli is broccoli.

For lunches, I mostly ate protein bars, trail-mix-type foods, and fresh fruit bought from the canteen. There was the one day that I bought sushi from the canteen. It was surprisingly good! Sushi from a military canteen!

 

 

 

Medical travel blog in pics (aka a bunch of selfies and food pics.)

We’re taking this to a new level of silliness today, because there’s not much I can say regarding this medical/research trip. I’ve been taking pics along the way, instead. I’m afraid there’s no attempt at artistry going on here… this is literally a see-what-I’m-seeing sort of display that ended up being mostly food and selfies. You who enjoy the latter are going to love this post! It’s a rare selfie extravaganza. But let’s start in the bathroom at Sky Harbor International Airport and go from there. Haha!

Sunday:

 

(Jansport backpack with a Kipling monkey, in case you know your backpacks and you’re confused by this pic)

Benefit of having short legs: relative comfort in small aircraft economy seating

I’m almost never without a protein bar. I still had one in my bag after I ate this one. In fact, half of my suitcase was food.

Washed out next to the window in my room

These blooms smell divine!

Vegan pizza Margherita (delivery for the win)

The “after.”

 

Monday:

 

Literally dropping with fatigue after a long day at the hospital.

Got back to my room, flopped on the bed, threw my hand up to shield my eyes from the sun, and snapped this pic.

I did a little shopping at the hospital’s retail store.

This protein power snack mix is one of my new favorite things!!! I scarfed down most of the bag and had to restrain myself from eating the rest. I’d ordered food from Chipotle.

Chipotle burrito bowl: brown rice, sofritas (tofu), black beans, fresh tomato salsa, fajita veggies, romaine lettuce, and guacamole.

The “after.”

Jumbled assortment of toiletries and makeup before I organized them all again

 

Tuesday (today):

Getting ready to conquer my second day of hospital appointments

My once-a-year bathroom selfie

x2. Today was brain day, which required loose, comfy clothing.

Tonight’s Door Dash delivery: a falafel/hummus wrap. I ate the whole thing, so there were no remains to photograph.

 

Exciting, right??! [insert laughing/crying emoji here] Thursday’s post will contain more of the same. I plan to make it to the hospital’s little gym tomorrow afternoon, and that’s an environment I should be able to photograph! Pretty much the only pics I can take in the hospital, itself, are in the bathrooms.

 

 

A little saint, mostly sinner. (May Favorites!)

For those of you who enjoy these “favorites” posts and for anyone else curious, scroll down to see what I loved watching, eating, and putting on my face in May!

 

1). The Curse of La Llorona (film)

 

 

Because horror always completes a month. Incidentally, I’m counting down the days to Short Horror October! I’ve already discovered a great one that I’ve stashed away just for that series.

 

2). John Wick 3: Parabellum (film)

 

 

Because who needs a plot when you have Keanu Reeves kicking ass in exquisitely choreographed fight scenes? I will say that the story-line makes sense if you’ve seen the first two John Wick films. If nothing else, you can just sit back and enjoy the splendor. The sets are eye-candy in and of themselves.

 

3). Chambers (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

Key words and phrases for this intriguing Netflix thriller/horror series: Native American representation in characters and their actors; Navajo; Diné (Navajo) language; Navajo rez; Arizona!

 

4).  Dead to Me (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

Because there aren’t enough well-written drama series that you can watch in conveniently packaged 30-minute episodes. This one has a darkly funny edge and a talented duo of main actors… Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini both kill it (pun not intended). Cardellini also plays the lead in The Curse of La Llorona; it was wonderful to witness her range between these great performances.

 

5).  Love, Death & Robots (Netflix) (NSFW)

 

 

Even more rare! Here we’ve got a brilliant animated series with episodes that run from six minutes to 20 minutes, most of them just around 15 minutes long. We tore through Love, Death & Robots. It’s hard to keep the binge at bay when the episodes are this short! Each episode stands alone as a story. This series is like an animated Black Mirror in tiny installments.

We loved every one of these little stories. If I had to recommend just one, though, I think it’d be Beyond the Aquila Rift. Or maybe Sonnie’s Edge. Or The Witness. Or Fish Night. Or….

 

6). Killing Eve (Hulu)

 

 

May I just say that Jodie Comer plays the most impressive psychopath I’ve ever seen on screen?

 

7). May 2019 Grand Sumo Tournament (Natsu Basho) (Grand Sumo Highlights)

 

 

Because Sumo is my favorite sport. This time, my favorite badass Sumo warrior came back healthy enough to earn back the Ozeki rank he’d lost in the March tournament! Congratulations, Tochinoshin! The pride of the country of Georgia is back!!

 

Tochinoshin

 

(Pic taken from Tochinoshin’s instagram)

 

8). SkinnyPop Sea Salt Popcorn Mini Cakes.

 

Skinny Pop Popcorn Mini Cakes – Sea Salt

 

These mini popcorn cakes are wonderful little vehicles for salt. They know their place in this world.

 

9). e.l.f. Sculpting Silk Eyeshadow in Berry Please. (Vegan and cruelty-free.)

 

e.l.f. Sculpting Silk Eyeshadow in Berry Please

 

I went looking for an eyeshadow trio holding these very shades. The quality of e.l.f.’s eyeshadows gets better and better, though it’s always been good! The shadows in this mini palette blend beautifully, and the colors are gorgeous. Vegan, cruelty-free, and only $4.00.

 

10). e.l.f. Liquid Matte Lipstick in Vampy Violet. (Vegan and cruelty-free.)

 

e.l.f. Liquid Matte Lipstick in Vampy Violet

 

A purple so dark, it almost looks black. My heart!! This liquid lipstick doesn’t feel drying, and its staying-power is excellent. Lip balm works well to fill out the color at the end of the day, or after eating something oily. The color lasts even with lip balm over it! Vegan, cruelty-free, and $5.00.

 

That’s it for May! Happy Friday Eve, my friends.

 

 

Strategy: layering. Mood: determined. (Random updates!)

Next week already! Next week is the week I’ll be out of town for five days of medical testing and evaluation. I’ll bring my laptop, so I should still be able to post here on Tuesday and Thursday.

It’s going to be colder where I’m going, so I’ve been thinking about what to bring. I suck when it comes to packing, even if I check the weather forecast up until my departure date. Don’t you hate when you’re at the end of a trip and you’re left with a suitcase full of things that mostly haven’t been worn? I’ll pack clothes for layering. That should work.

I’ll have access to a gym, which means I’ll be packing gym shoes, as well.

Have no doubt that I’m looking forward to putting on those gym shoes during my trip! I’m going to lift weights on my own for the first time since starting Body Pump, so I’ll be able to find out how much weight I can lift when doing regular sets (rather than how much I can lift at a fast pace, as we do in Pump).

June mood: determined.

 

First of June mood.

 

It was almost midnight when this pic was taken a few days ago. I was wiped out. ALSO, if my bedroom walls look especially white in this black-and-white pic, that’s because they are! We’ve been painting. Room by room, the brown walls in our house are vanishing. It’s magic.

Summer is afoot; for me, it’ll begin once I get back from my trip. I’m going to dig into my writing. The digging-in will actually begin while I’m gone, as I’m considering my trip to be a sort of writer’s retreat.

Leaving spring behind: look for my “May Favorites” post this Thursday. Until then!