Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Official DX

Well I saw the doctor today because my right knee has been getting progressively worse.

The official diagnosis?  Severe patellar tendinitis in both knees, and a torn MCL in my right knee.

Two runs!  Two workouts into the Couch to 5k series and I'm sidelined for at least 2 weeks.

Doc ordered a strong anti-inflammatory for me, icing every single night, stretching as much as I can tolerate without getting nauseous, and no exercise for at least 2 weeks.  He said I should not even consider going back to rowing until I can walk up and down the stairs with no pain at all.  Also, I'm not running, jogging, or anything again.  Running is not worth it to me to lose out on all the exercise I could be doing.

Also, I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but they weighed me and I'm almost as heavy as I was when I was 8 months pregnant.  I'm completely crushed by this.  But I have hopes that this will change soon now that I'm off my antidepressant, given that I've already felt and noticed a change in my weight since being off of it.

I really hope it gets better soon though.  I don't know anyone else who works out fairly regularly and GAINS weight instead of, at the very least, maintaining their weight.  I'm seriously starting to lose steam and hope.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Well people, I am many things.  But a runner - I am not.

A week after run #2 of Couch to 5k and I'm still in so much pain that it's hard to walk; it's hard to go up and down the stairs; it's hard to stand from a sitting position; it's hard to sit from a standing position; it's hard to do anything.  Forget squatting down for anything, getting on my knees for anything, walking at any pace other than a waddle... Owie ow ow ow.  I wake up in the middle of the night because my knees ache from being in one position for too long.  Sitting Indian-style?  I may be able to get into that position, but getting out of it?  PAIN.

I've been told to ice and stretch - stretching huuuuuuurts.  Boy does it hurt.  I can barely pull my heel to my butt to stretch now; before, I could do that and barely feel a stretch anywhere.

Now that I've been in pain for a week, I suppose it's time to go to my doctor.  I have pretty much figured out by now that my patellar tendinitis has returned, but I don't know how to proceed.  I feel like the pain has gotten worse over the past week, when it should have been getting better, which worries me.  I really don't want to go to physical therapy.  I really really don't.  But resting my knees are practically impossible.

I'm really mad at myself.  I really should have listened to my body after the first run when I felt like it wasn't right.  But no, I had to be all stubborn and stupid.  I'm so mad I didn't stop then.

I may have now gone and ruined my chances at working out for several weeks.  UGH so stupid.

Friday, May 24, 2013

(The Last) Couch to 5k May Update

It is actually with a sad heart that I write this.  I have to give up on Couch to 5k May.

My knees can not handle the running.

My last post discussed how I didn't feel so bad after running... that was Monday night, and as I sit here on Friday night, my knees are in so much pain (from that ONE run) that I'm now having a hard time going up and down the steps, and walking in general.  I rowed the day after running, and felt fine while rowing, but while doing other exercises like lunges and squats, I was in a lot of pain.  I could get nowhere near a 90-degree bend in my knees without pain.  Wednesday I decided I needed a rest day due to the pain, and on Thursday I had to skip rowing because my knees still hurt.  My knees are clicking when I walk, and they just hurt so bad.  I'm not going to push it any further.

I made this decision primarily because if running is going to cause me to miss out on working out otherwise during the week, I want no part of it.  I missed out on three workouts this week because of the pain I'm dealing with from a single run.  So, sorry knees.  Sorry I tested you and put you through this.  I promise not to do it again.  :(

With that said though - I'm not giving up on my goal to do a 5k.  I could always walk it.  Walking actually - surprisingly - doesn't bother me at all.  Another decision I made this week is that I'm going to give up my membership to RowZone.  This makes me sad :( but, I now have access to a free gym, with free fitness classes, through my new job.  They have decent rowing machines, treadmills, EFX machines, weights, kettle bells... basically anything and everything I would use at RowZone, PLUS some.  PLUSSSS I can take yoga once a week.  For FREE.  I mean, it's dumb to pay an $80/month gym membership when I could go whenever I want to a more equipped gym for free.

My husband will be stoked to read that.  This is a test to see if he reads this entry.  :)  Now he'll get to join an MMA gym like he's been wanting to.  What a good wifey I am, eh?

Also, I decided (I sure have made a lot of decisions this week huh?) that June is going to be my last "health"-focused goal month.  While focusing on my health has been great, it's also been kind of stressful.  I've been stressing a lot over what I eat and I feel that this just makes me overeat at times.  I need to stop caring so much about what I eat.  So, starting in July I'm going to focus on other goals.  Like, now that school is over, I want to read some books for fun.  I want to focus on my photography and do some photo shoots (ANYONE WANT A PHOTO SHOOT?  CONTACT ME.  I DO FREE PHOTO SHOOTS.).  I want to try some new recipes.  I want to start my Scott Family Table cookbook.  There are other things I want to do this year other than focus on my health.  Besides, doing things I find enjoyment in will contribute to my mental health.  :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Couch to 5k Update

Well today was my second run of the Couch to 5k training series.  I know, I know, almost a week later - but I needed to rest my knees.  Two days after my first run, I went rowing, and my legs were so exhausted after that I could barely walk the next day, let alone run.  Maybe I should have pushed through it.

Today went okay though.  It's about 4 hours later now and my knees don't hurt as bad as they did last time.  But this time, my legs and knees hurt more during the workout than last time.  I am thinking this might be pointing to me needing the right shoes.  My right knee hurt more than my left, which is predictable, my right knee has always been my worse knee.  But my right shin hurt also.

I might do the week 1 workout for 2 weeks.  See, here's my problem - lungs-wise, endurance-wise, I am making this just fine, it's not a struggle for me at all.  It's my legs that are working against me and making me want to stop.

Tomorrow I am rowing.  Wednesday I run again, then Thursday I row again, and Friday I run again.  At the end of this week I'll make a decision about buying new sneakers or not.  I got some good advice from a great friend of mine this weekend about running shoes so I've got my eye on them - and their cost.  Sheesh.

I haven't abandoned my planks either.  I did one after my run today and I held out till 2m 33s.  My best time yet!

I have also been trying to figure out what my monthly resolution should be for June, and I think I'm going to make it a juicing month.  I am pretty sure I can't commit to a daily juice - though maybe I can, I have to take my juicer out of the box and see how many parts it is and how difficult it will be to clean every single day.  I am thinking every few days though is do-able.  Last week I tried a new juice bar near my work and picked up a freshly prepared juice made with orange, carrot, and pineapple.  I hate carrot - but it was surprisingly delicious.  So now I'm pumped to finally try my juicer.  I have tons of recipes picked out.  I think trying to do 3 a week would be reasonable on both my wallet and my time constraints.

Anyone have any advice or good recipes for juicing?  Let me know!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Non-Toxic Sassmaster

I've been off of that toxic antidepressant for exactly a week now.  I tapered off of it on my own, and started supplementing with amino acids to boost my serotonin levels.  I really feel the need to write a little bit about this experience because it's hardly been what I expected.

I have an almost-15 year background in pharmacy.  I believe in medication.  I don't discount natural remedies for things, in fact, quite the opposite - I am the last person you will see in the doctor's office, or popping a pill, for that which ails me.  Even for headaches (as my husband will attest to).  I will avoid Tylenol and Excedrin and prefer to sleep it off.  The only time I really ever go to the doctor is if I'm so sick that I'm completely incapacitated, or, like last summer, when I really feel in my gut like something is actually wrong with me.  No, I prefer to let my body fight off infection and other health complaints naturally.  Same with my daughter; at a certain point, I stopped calling her doctor at every little sniffle.  I believe that sickness is good for the body, and that we don't need to band-aid our complaints with pills and medicine at the drop of a hat.  With that said though, I DO believe that there is a place for medication.  And I do have a tendency to be skeptical of natural remedies.  So when my brother started talking about his amino acid supplement successes, I was skeptical.  I thought it was a placebo effect.  (Actually - to some degree - I think that everything has a placebo effect.)  But, then I started my new job.  And my new co-worker, my new very bright, very intelligent, very well-spoken co-worker that I instantly respected, started telling me about her amino acid supplement successes.  So I started to think that maybe there was something to it.  Suddenly having a conversation with her was exactly like I was having a conversation with my brother, and vice versa.  With mostly my brother's help, I figured out how to taper off my antidepressant and start supplementing my system with amino acids to fix my serotonin levels.

A week off my antidepressant, I feel better than I did when I was on it.  There were a couple days where a combination didn't quite work, and I had to stop taking one thing to take something else, but I've figured out a balance now, and in as many words: FUCK that antidepressant. 

My serotonin levels are now recalibrated.  I feel new, refreshed, alive, happy, light, and cheerful.  And I'm not talking just spiritually or mentally - I'm talking physically.  I know it's kind of hard to imagine how you could feel "happy" physically, but I do.  Do I sound crazy yet?  I don't know how to convey how well this has worked for me.  In the morning I take a B-Complex supplement and some Theanine, and I have energy, patience, a sense of calm, and motivation all at the same time.  In the afternoon before working out, I take Glutamine, and I take some post-workout too.  And in the evening, I take Tryptophan.  This is my serotonin-stabilizer.  It also helps me sleep.  But this is the daily regimen I worked towards.  There were a few other amino acids I had to take to help me get here.  And the wonderful thing about amino acids is that they work so quickly, and as long as you know what each of them can be used for, you can take them on-demand for a quick fix to whatever your mood may have shifted to.

I posted this picture on Instagram earlier this week**.

The caption read:  All of that up top, to undo all the damage caused by the one on the bottom.  And it's honestly true.  Within days, my insatiable hunger and sugar cravings were cured.  And I barely even noticed that they were gone actually.  My brother asked how my appetite had been, and once I started thinking about it, I realized, yeah, that HAS changed. 

Remember I blogged about my extreme sugar cravings in January?  This experience was surreal to me.  I have always had a sweet tooth, but never an unmanageable one.  I liked sweets - but I didn't need them.  I also mentioned that I believed this behavior was caused by my antidepressant in last week's blog entry.  Well, now, suddenly, I'm realizing I'm back to not needing sugar again.  I even tested myself.  I went to Wawa and stood in front of the candy shelves.  I waited and waited, and there was no physical reaction like mouth watering, urge to grab 2780367026 pieces and buy them, etc.  I picked up a package of my nemeses, Reese's PB cups.  I held them in my hand and I looked at them and I really tried, but I could not find the desire within me to devour them right then and there.  I took the test further.  I bought those PB cups, and brought them back to my desk at work.  I wanted to see how long it would take for me to tear into them during my afternoon lull.  A few hours later and I still could have cared less about them.  So then, I took the test even further.  Sometimes - no, like, 99% of the time - I wouldn't be able to eat just one piece of candy.  It was like eating one piece opened the floodgates and then I was all EAT ALL THE CANDY.  So, I ate one of the PB cups.  And I swear to God - I swear on my life to you - it tasted different.  It did not taste as sweet.  I finished it, but I just wasn't seduced by it.  I didn't even eat the second one.


My brother keeps telling me to do some research on serotonin and how many things it affects.  One day I will get around to it, but these days I'm relying on his and my co-worker's expertise, because I'm completely bombarded at the moment.  But I'm officially a believer now in this amino acid supplement stuff.  I mean who weans themselves off of an antidepressant and feels better than normal a week later?  The pharmacy background in me is screaming that it's not possible.  But I can't argue the physical evidence going on inside me.  I just can't.

There's one more thing I need to mention, and this was the final selling point for me on amino acids.  Last Tuesday, I re-injured my shoulder during rowing.  I originally injured it about a year and a half ago, and subsequent re-injuries haven't been as painful, but are enough that I know I have to stay away from rowing for a couple weeks or so.  I mentioned this to my brother who advised me to load up on Glutamine, because it helps to restore oxygen and nitrogen balance in your blood and muscles.  Apparently many injuries from exercise can be attributed to some absence of Glutamine in the system.  So I did just that.  I took Glutamine about 3x a day for a few days.  And I kid you not, by Friday of that week, I felt like nothing had ever happened to my shoulder.

I know my body.  I know these shoulder injuries, I've had so many of them.  I've never felt better in that short amount of time.  And aside from that, no remedies like Tylenol or Ibuprofen could ever touch the pain I had from these shoulder injuries.  And to be practically healed within a few days?  Unbelievable.

So that experience has really made me a believer.

I will continue to document my progress with amino acid therapy here and maybe, just maybe, there will be one glorious day where I will not have to pop any pills whatsoever (except birth control bills.  I don't think there's an amino acid that prevents pregnancy).

**Disclaimer:  Please don't look at this picture and think that if you start taking all of these supplements, that you will start feeling better too.  Please do your research and know what interacts with what before you start taking supplements.  Please know what they all do and what they all help with before you start taking them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Couch to 5k May.....be?


My original intent for May was to start the Couch to 5k training program.  I've been wanting to do a 5k since I saw my friend Consuelo complete one last year.  I was so proud of her, and she was so happy -- she had trained for so long, and had done so well, and it was amazing to see her accomplish one of her goals.  I was envious, and I wanted in on the race circuit.  So I stuck it on my bucket list for this year and decided to make it one of my monthly goals.

Just four hours after my first run, I am already starting to question this decision.

About two and a half years ago, when Maraea was still a baby, I started working out again with the trainer that was training me before I got pregnant.  He had me doing all the usual stuff -- cardio, weights, etc.  I was doing some time on both the treadmill and the EFX machine; and I was, for the first time ever, starting to enjoy my time on the treadmill.  I felt as though I was developing good running form and I was actually running and not jogging.  I felt it working.  But after about 6 weeks of restarting my workout regimen, I started having severe pain in my knees; so bad that I couldn't even do the EFX machine at the gym (which is much easier on knees than treadmills are).  Like, I'd be walking down the stairs and one of them would buckle in pain - as if someone had stuck a knife right through my kneecap.  I almost fell several times from buckling pain like this.  The pain got so bad that I saw my doctor, who immediately ordered me to 6 weeks of rest -- no exercise, and as little on my feet as possible.  (How possible is that with a baby in the house?!)  He diagnosed me with patellar tendonitis.  Apparently it's pretty common, but, whatever.  Pregnancy had really destroyed my knees; I'd had a lot of knee pain late in my pregnancy but attributed it to all the swelling I was experiencing in my legs and the extra 40lbs I was carrying around.

Several months later, I was getting restless.  I'd taken all this time off from working out and felt like I needed to start doing something to be active.  One night, I had a dream about running.  A very vivid dream.  I dreamt that I was running and nothing hurt and nothing jiggled and it was just pure glorious healthy activity.  I woke up totally energized and thinking that maybe it was a sign I could start working out again.  Later that morning, I saw a LivingSocial deal for RowZone.  Instantly, in my gut, I felt like this was what my dream was steering me towards.  So I sent the studio an email and got one back the same day from the best trainer ever, Mike, who convinced me that rowing would not only be easy on my knees, but it would be good for my knees and help strengthen them.  After several classes, I was sold - and after about 6 weeks, I'd dropped about 15lbs.  I've been a member ever since.

I love rowing, and I love that it's made me fit to a degree, but I really have been wanting to do this 5k thing.  I thought after almost 2 years of rowing fairly consistently, maybe my knees would be strong enough to handle it now.  After all, now I could do squats and lunges with ease, where before it was so painful.

So today I did my first run.  In case you're not familiar with it, the Couch to 5k program is a running program that helps you build endurance to run a 5k (doy).  Every week you do 3 workouts, and you gradually build in intensity.  The first week is a 5 minute warmup walk, and then 20 minutes of alternating between 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking.  So I get up on that old trusty treadmill, confident that this time I'm conquering this sucker, and about halfway through I'm starting to worry about my feet and my form.  I just felt sloppy and clunky.  Easy enough to attribute to being ungraceful, but.... no pain really.  I told myself I'm just getting used to it.  I made it through the workout.  And physically, at first, I felt fine.  I endured it well, my endurance is pretty good from rowing.  I was not totally wiped out.  I felt pretty good.

But now I'm sitting on my couch and my knees are just throbbing.  No, I haven't iced them, or done anything like that, but I did pop some glutamine hoping for some healing.  I AM going to rest my legs for the rest of the night though (good thing I don't have any laundry detergent, otherwise I'd be up and down the stairs doing laundry).  My feet are a little sore.  I'm sure I need better shoes to jog in.  But before I invest in shoes, I need to really figure out if I should be running in the first place or not.

I wonder, how normal is this?  To be sore in the knees after running for the first time in years?  Should I give it another go?  I'm scheduled to row tomorrow and Thursday, and was going to do my second run of the week on Friday.  Should I see how I feel on Friday?  Should I rest?  Should I quit now before I hurt myself?

I don't really know the answers to any of those questions.  And I don't think I'm ready to answer them yet.  Maybe I need to see how I feel tomorrow.

To quit a goal when I've barely started is about as monumental a failure I can think of.  I'm not ready to quit yet but I have to be honest with myself and say that I really didn't think my knees would feel this bad after 25 minutes on the treadmill.

Le sigh.

Monday, May 6, 2013


As indicated by the title of this post.... I have some confessions to make, specifically regarding my health.

Last summer, I was battling a sudden onset of severe exhaustion.  Exhaustion so bad that I was regularly going to bed around 8pm and waking up at 6am feeling like I still needed more sleep.  At first I thought it came on due to a string of overnight releases I worked in a row, in about a 2-3 week span of time, but by July and August, it became apparent that I was no longer just catching up on sleep.

So I went and saw my doctor.  One of my problems is that I cry really easily - whenever I reach an extreme level of anything (happiness, stress, frustration, anger, etc), I tend to tear up when I talk about it.  As I was describing my exhaustion to my doctor, he stopped me repeatedly asking me why I was crying.  I told him that's just how I get, and he said it's not normal.  So he jumped to the conclusion that I was depressed.  And while I conceded to him that work was weighing me down, and school was sucking up all of my time, and mommy guilt from schoolwork was getting to me, I didn't feel that I was depressed.  I've been treated for clinical depression before, and this didn't really feel like that.  I rebuffed his diagnosis, and to placate me, he wrote up a lab sheet for a standard round of bloodwork.  He specifically said, "I would bet my license that everything will come back normal, and that you're just depressed."  I went for the bloodwork, and lo and behold, something WAS wrong with me -- my thyroid was all out of whack.  So he started me on a round of synthroid and told me to come back in a month to check on my progress.

I went back a month later, and didn't have much change in my symptoms.  My exhaustion was improving, a little, but now I was exhausted for a different reason -- I was getting up frequently at night, around 4am I'd wake up and couldn't get back to sleep.  He stopped me as soon as I said that time and said, "4am seems to be the witching hour for those suffering from depression.  It really sounds like this is where you are right now."  But I again resisted his diagnosis, and his attempts to put me on a pill.  I was staring down the barrel of a 3-month break from school and a much-needed family vacation at the beach, and I begged him to just let me take that time to see if I could let my body heal before I made any decisions about going on an anti-depressant.  He reluctantly agreed, but I left thankful that I was not yet being put on a pill.

Fast forward three months to late October / early November, and I was finally starting to feel like maybe there was something more to it than my thyroid.  I noticed I angered quickly, I was highly stressed, irritable, sleeping terribly, just generally miserable.  Now it was starting to feel familiar.  There were things going on at work that I was having a hard time leaving at work, and I was back in school with a severe case of senioritis.  I went back to my doctor, told him what was going on, and let him have his way.  He put me on a new anti-depressant called Viibryd.  He started me on a titrated dose pack - which I know can be common, but alarmed me.  Anything you have to titrate up to the full dosage for, seems to be an intense drug on your system.  Having to titrate up usually means having to taper off when you want to stop taking it.  But regardless, I was a little desperate for help at this point and took the sample pack.

Within two weeks, I was actually noticing a change in my demeanor.  In everything.  I thought okay, maybe he was on to something.  I got a prescription for the full amount, though I wasn't taking a full 40mg per day dose - the 40mg made me pretty sick, 5 days in a row, so I leveled off at 20mg per day.  I've been taking this medication consistently for over four months now.  When I miss a dose, I feel it - I get headaches, or when I take my next dose, I'll feel sick again.  I didn't like any of that.  But what was I gonna do.

Everything has been relatively hunky dory though, until the past month when I was really starting to examine my health habits and wondering why it felt like I was gaining weight.  My friends thought I was pregnant - I took 3 negative tests.  (Sorry BEFF.)  I started to blame it on sugar - and yeah, my sugar consumption was bad, but I'd cut it down drastically.  I was rowing pretty regularly.  I wasn't eating terribly every single day.  I was really being pretty vigilant about my food intake and exercise and couldn't figure out where the extra weight was coming from.

In the last two weeks, I started to feel that exhaustion come back again.  My skin was also itchy like it used to be before I went on my thyroid medication.  So I thought maybe it was time to increase my dosage.  I went for another round of bloodwork.  Came out with bruises all over my arm as if I'd been manhandled.  And found that my thyroid was functioning normally.  Oh, really?  Then what the heck is wrong with me now??  I'm exhausted, I'm gaining weight....

With the help of my brother and a friend though, I'm starting to think that maybe it's this anti-depressant that's the problem.  Aaron echoed the sentiment this weekend.  He said, "You were as skinny as a rail when I met you.  You never had problems with your weight until your doctors started sticking you on SSRIs and they messed with your appetite."  He's right.  Yes, we all gain weight as we age, but my first round of SSRI treatment 14 years ago sent me on a pretty good spiral.  My brother and friend are big proponents of amino acid supplements, and through a lot of my own research, and research they've done and have shared with me, I'm really starting to see that this anti-depressant is doing me more harm than good.  For one thing, guess what it causes (and I had no idea)?  Extreme carb and sugar cravings.  Hm, any wonder why I went through that extreme candy phase in January, just a few weeks after starting the medication?  It also causes easy bruising (check out my bloodwork pictures on Facebook or Instagram).  Know what else it causes?  Weight gain due to an INABILITY TO PROCESS FOOD CORRECTLY.  Even though my doctor assured me that "this drug won't make you gain weight", ahem, apparently, in as many as 12% of patients, weight gain was a side effect.  Well 12% is enough to convince me.  Really though, I didn't need to see anymore than that, because I read those and knew it was me.  I have NEVER craved sugar the way I insatiably craved it in January of this year.  I have NEVER bruised like that from bloodwork, or from anything else, for that matter.  Because I have had MORE success with exercise without watching my diet, without caring what I ate, than I have these past four months.

So the plan is to safely detox from Viibryd.  I'm tapering off my dose starting this week, and replacing with amino acid supplements.  Honestly though - I think I would be fine without the amino acid supplements, because from the beginning I felt that if this really was depression, that it was situational (as it was last time I was treated 14 years ago).  And look, all the things in the "situation" that got me down are now taken care of - I got a new job.  School is over.  Really though, what is left other than to enjoy my life?  I feel like I have an open road in front of me and I can take it as fast or as slow as I want.  I can go where I want when I want.  I'm no longer bound to a weekend warrior schoolwork schedule, or a job that made me more miserable than I was at a retail pharmacy.

I'm excited about detoxing my body.  And I'm also excited about my May plans - this is Couch To 5K May!  The plan is to start as soon as I can get into the (FREE) company gym that I have access to.  The plan was to check it out today, and start this week, but Maraea got sick on the way in so we had to come home and have a sick day.  I will check it out this week and start the regimen soon.