Walk to defeat ALS

This past Sunday I joined in a fundraising walk for the ALS association in honor of one of my lovely coworkers who recently has been diagnosed with ALS/PLS. We were joined by a good amount of people from work and a whole hoard of her family and friends. I’ve included the link below to the walk itself. Obviously you can no longer register to participate, but there is a venue to donate to research to find a cure for ALS if you wish to contribute.  Through the walk they were only able to raise about 70% of their goal.

http://web.alsa.org/site/TR/Walks/CentralandSouthernOhio?pg=entry&fr_id=13208#.W5xEfkHod0U.facebook

Below is an info sheet about ALS specifically, directly from the ALS association. It is a degenerative debilitating disease with no cure and a very unfortunate predictable outcome.  If you aren’t familiar with it and want a mental image, think Stephen Hawking. It affects the body but not the mind, eventually essentially trapping the individual in their own body. Luckily with today’s technology though they still have ways to communicate and have a life somewhat.

What Is ALS Infographic

Amber’s current diagnosis is PLS, or peripheral lateral sclerosis, which is a bit different than ALS. It has many of the same symptoms of ALS, which is why it’s difficult to diagnose one vs the other sometimes. It progresses slower, isn’t necessarily fatal, and doesn’t debilitate 100% as ALS does. Though it affects every individual differently both in severity and progression, it is still a degenerative debilitating disease. From what I understand her doctors are basically just watching her symptom progression. At any point they may switch the diagnosis over to ALS depending on what her body is doing. Of the two sucky diagnoses though PLS is the better of the two evils, so to speak, so keeping our fingers crossed that that switch never happens.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/primary-lateral-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353968

Amber is one of the nicest and most cheerful people I’ve ever met, even in the face of this crappy situation. She’s also one of the best nurses I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. She’s super knowledgeable, absolutely loves what we do, and always willing to help anyone with anything at any moment.

I also have to give a shout out to her awesome fiancé. I don’t think that enough attention is paid to the individuals behind the person with the diagnosis sometimes. Over the summer they did an epic trans-continental road trip vacation, culminating in him proposing in front of the most perfect sunrise over a desert scene. It was gorgeous and very envy worthy. I know that everyone here at work cyber stalked their entire trip, living vicariously through them the entire time. Just from observing from the outside, he’s always there for her in everyway possible, and has been since way before the struggle of getting a diagnosis even began. That’s rare in this day and age and not a thing to take lightly.

The ALS association uses the funds from the walk to help fund research,  but also to help those diagnosed to advocate for themselves and to help provide compassionate competent care, basically to live their best lives for as long as they possibly can. If you feel so inclined please go to the link at the top of this post and donate. Even a little bit goes a long way. If you are unable to donate at this time, please take the information that you learned from this post and pass it along. Maybe that next individual would like to try to make a difference as well. Thank you 🙂

 

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Mini Tough Mudder!

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Last weekend, on Labor Day, I completed my first tough mudder. Though this was considered a “mini” tough mudder, not nearly as intense as the officially sanctioned ones. It was a shorter distance at just over 5K, and even though it had more obstacles, they were less difficult for the most part.

I also managed to rope two others into my craziness, one of my oldest friends, Faye, and my brother’s lovely fiancé, April. They were both less than pleased with the adventure I believe. Having never even run a standard 5K before, this was a tough one to start on, no pun intended.

The event itself was Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet. It’s an annual thing at Morgan’s Canoe and Campground in Brookesville, Indiana. If you’re interested in seeing a video of the course I’ve included a link below to the actual site.

https://www.morganscanoe.com/mud-gauntlet/

Included in the 5K-ish course were 40 obstacles, 6 mudpits, and the largest hill to climb up and down in all of creation. Most of the obstacles included various combinations of hay bales, canoes, tires, ropes, etc. There was a fun slide into a deeper watery mud pit. I attempted 38 of these obstacles, successfully did 37 of them, and did all the mud pits. screenshot_20180903-2208343232470142886541569.pngI skipped #35 and #20, though #20 was accidental. We turned the wrong way when getting out of the river and skipped the whole loop on that side, going directly from obstacle 19 to 21. #35 was the reverse of #34, which were both giant climbing walls. I manage to get up and over the first one with only moderately freaking out, but couldn’t bring up the courage, and the confidence in my arm strength, to attempt the second. I’m not sure how many obstacles Faye and April completed. I wasn’t honestly keeping track. I was just super grateful and excited they were there with me, even if it was just to cheer me on as I climbed over/under stuff.

Faye opted out of the gigantic hill at obstacle #11, meeting back up with us at #14. April opted out at #22, meeting back up with us afterward. Faye and I walked/crawled across the finish line at 2 hrs and 17 minutes.

If you’ll notice in the pictures below, my gym shoes died a horrible death. I ended up throwing them away once I got home. About halfway up the monstrous hill the soul of my right shoe decided to come away, so every step I took after that was followed by a lovely flopping noise/feeling. If I had duct-taped my shoes on like all the sites suggested this may not have happened, but I probably still would have thrown them away anyway. They had gained probably at least a pound each with just the sheer amount of water and mud. These were my yardwork shoes though, and were at least 8 years old, so they’ve lived a good long life.

As part of the registration fee we received a long sleeve, black commemorative shirt (very useful in 90 degree heat), a finisher’s medal, a “free” meal of pulled pork/beer, and “free” camping the night before onsite. The pork was super yummy. Out of the more than 400 participants not that many took advantage of the camping option. We, of course, did. We came the day before, set up camp, and then went exploring!

Another benefit of being a participant is that we could have gotten half off canoeing if we had wanted to. We opted not to, not wanting to mostly kill ourselves before completely killing ourselves the next day. Instead we wondered to the nearby town of Metamora. April and I went horseback riding, then we meandered around the kitschy little town for a bit, and ate dinner at a little English themed pub/tavern. Afterward we went back to camp for campfire and alcohol induced fun.

This was the first time since losing the weight that I’ve been horseback riding. I’m pretty sure I’ve commented on the lack of cushioning on my posterior now. 5 days later and that’s the only part that is still hurting some. My “undercarriage” didn’t appreciate the hour in the hard saddle. No matter which way I shifted I just couldn’t get comfortable. I did come ahead of April though. Her horse ran her straight through a large tree branch causing a long scrape up her upper arm.

We were at campsite #14, which was right next to the river. If you look at the race map we could see obstacle #23 from our tent.  Though it was cool to be able to walk down to the water, I will say that navigating a sand-filled campsite isn’t the funnest thing in the world.

5 days later I’m just now not feeling sore. Even with that I would not hesitate to do this again next year. It was a blast! I got such a sense of accomplishment from completing the obstacles. At my fluffiest I probably wouldn’t have even attempted them, psyching myself out. I never would have even seen if I could do them, thinking I was to fat to even try. Now the only issue I ran into was my height. Being on the shorter side made some of the obstacles harder, and made the monkey bars literally impossible. I couldn’t reach the damn second bar!

I’m probably going to have to find other accomplices next time though. I don’t think Faye and April will be willing to join in again. I can’t imagine how sore they probably were. I have a year and a half of working out 3 days a week under my belt and was still walking like a little old lady needing her walker.

It was such a fun weekend though. I had such a blast! Thanks again to Faye and April for joining me!

Springdale 5K Color Run!

This is weekend my girls and I ran/walked a 5K to benefit their elementary school. I didn’t have very high hopes in regards to how well they’d do or how far they’d go. Phoebe surprised me. She kept Pace with me for the majority of the time and said afterwards that she had fun! Zoe lived up to my expectations however. She only did 2 laps out of 5 with a break in-between them. She mostly sat with my husband and complained, pretty par for the course.

Even with two 6 year olds our finish time was still 57 minutes, so still better than the average of the 5Ks I’ve walked with Dad.

The color run aspect was fun. Volunteers chucked colored powder and water at us as we ran by. It eventually soaked through everything, staining our skin and skivvies underneath. I had to literally get in the shower with the girls and scrub them down with vigor to get it all off. About 10 minutes after the race ended the sky unzipped and a monsoon ensued. Of course I let the girls play in the rain when we got home since we were already all a mess. I wonder if we hadn’t gotten wet after if the color would have stained our skin so bad.

And now for the picture overload 🙂

Flying Pig 5K!

This past weekend in Cincinnati was the annual Flying Pig Marathon. It takes over the downtown and surrounding areas for the whole weekend. There’s a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, kids run, pigability run (for those with disabilities), and flying fur run. There’s concerts, food, family fun fair, health expo, and more. It’s a whole thing. This time around though Dad and I just did the 5K.

When you sign up you have to specify if you’re a walker or runner and also what your estimated finish time is. They use this info to assign you to a corral at the start line with others of similar athletic prowess. They also did a stagger start at the start line. Each corral had 2 minutes until the next one was released. We were in corral G, second to last. The goal was to reach a 16 minute mile pace. They don’t time you out, but if you’re slower than that then they kind of shoo you over to the sidewalk as the reopen the roads behind you in the downtown stretch of the course.

Apparently before the race Dad and I inadvertently switched our assigned bibs, so the gender/age stats aren’t accurate on our official results, but the end times are at least. This was the first 5K that I’ve actually attempted to run. I finished in 44 minutes. Dad finished in 1 hr 2 minutes. The finisher’s medals are super cute! They have some heft to them too. They’re a lot heavier than I would have thought.

During the course of the race they had a couple of spots where they were handing out free food/ water. The free food consisted of pretzel rods and candy orange slices. Weird choices I thought. Two things that would make you super thirsty with no chance of water in sight.

The entire experience was super fun! I think we’ll make it an annual tradition of ours. I’m thinking next year I’ll also volunteer to part of the medical tent for the other races. Maybe even next year I’ll work my way up to the 10K. We’ll see…

Friday and Saturday they had an expo at the convention center where they had a crap ton of venders related to the pig, running, and fitness in general. As you can see from the above pics I bought some pig swag. I’ve gotten into the habit of theming myself for our races. I do themed leggings for the gym for holidays as well. It’s become a bit of an addiction. There are worse things though to be addicted to I think. I also bought Dad and myself hanging placards for our medals since they’re starting to accumulate a little bit.

So what does the future currently hold? My 6 year old twins and I are running a Color Run 5K to benefit their school on May 19th. Then I have nothing planned until Labor Day where I’m doing the Mud Gauntlet 5K. I think I need to find something for during the summer. There’s a big gap in there 🙂 Any suggestions for a good one around July 4th maybe?

 

 

 

One year Surgiversary!

2 weeks ago Dad and I celebrated our one year surgiversary, or rather surgery anniversary.

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At Dad’s appointment the doc told him how proud he was of him, of us. That he was very pleased with his results and wants him to continue what he’s been doing basically. He’s happy with where he’s landed weight wise, though I know Dad would like to lose another 5+ lbs to break even at 200 lbs. A year later Dad is completely off his diabetes meds and now is strictly diet controlled, his renal doc has upgraded his kidney failure since his labs continue to improve, and his primary has talked about reducing or removing some of his blood pressure meds.

6 or 7 years ago an ortho doc told Dad that he’d need a total knee in 5 years. Well, he’s decided that’s his next step after the rest of the changes in his life stabilize a little bit. He’s currently retiring from one job, starting a part time job somewhere else, selling his condo, selling my childhood home that he’s been renting out, and buying a home out by us. I’m exhausted just typing all that!

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Numbers wise, a year out Dad has lost 75 lbs and 43 inches total (extremity measurements are right side only).

At my appointment the doc told me he was proud of us again. That he was very happy we had each other to support each other, which I agree with. I don’t think either of us would have done half as good or stay nearly as motivated if not for having the other right there alongside.  The doc did say even though he was happy with where I landed weight wise, that I’m “normal”, he’d like me to lose another 5-10 lbs so that I have a fluctuation cushion. I’m fine with that. It gives me a goal so I don’t rest on my laurels, so to speak.

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At one year post-op I am down 56.9 inches overall and 97 lbs lost. Damn the stupid natural fluctuation that happens during that certain monthly time, robbed me of my official 100lbs at my appointment.

This journey is never ending and ever ongoing. It changed both our lives for the better. We both agree whole heartedly that we don’t regret it for a second and wish we had done it years ago. We’re more active than we’ve ever been, have more energy, wanting to do more and actually able to do more. If you’re thinking about weight loss surgery we both endorse it 100%. True, there are some potential complications,  but in our eyes the benefits outweigh them by far. You’re gaining years of life and improved quality of life!

So as not to make this post a novel I’ll do a separate post about our recent 5K adventure. Read on!

I’m Normal?!? (and the Mini Heart 5K walk)

screenshot_20180320-0932491289093212.pngRecently I had my yearly health screening for my work insurance. They take some blood, your weight, waist circumference, and then give you a basic lecture on being healthier. If you fall out of any of the norms for the categories you have to jump through hoops to “earn” the points back to receive your HSA money. This is the first year ever that not only have I been in the norms for all the categories they award points for but that my waist circumference was within normal range! The lady who was giving me the mini lecture was going on about how they would like my weight to be closer to the normal range for my height, not realizing/ knowing my history. Meanwhile I’m internally jumping for joy!

Above I’ve included a chart of my health screenings from years past and a few extra values from blood draws for the weight loss management office, just to show the trends.

So looking at the numbers my blood pressure has improved, not that it was bad before, as well as my cholesterol, HDL, and LDL. Pretty much everything! The couple that haven’t improved have been consistent, neither going up or down for the most part.

So why do we care about the size of our waists and such? The website that explains the reasoning behind the categories lists them as follows: “Waist circumference helps assess your risk for chronic diseases that are associated with overweight and obesity. An excess of body fat, especially abdominal fat, increases your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.Glucose, or blood sugar, is the body’s primary source of energy. When there’s too much sugar in your diet, or your body isn’t efficient at using it for fuel, blood glucose levels can rise. This can eventually lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood used by the body for energy. While you need some triglycerides, too much can raise your risk of heart disease.HDL Cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps to remove “bad” cholesterol (LDL) from the bloodstream, lowering your risk for heart disease. HDL Cholesterol that is too low may increase your risk for heart disease.”

One way to raise your HDL is through exercise. I like that you can see quantitatively the change in the numbers as I started working out from 1 month post-op.  You can also see my food funerals reflected in my triglycerides and cholesterol values for the pre-diet numbers.

 

This past Sunday my Dad and I joined some of my coworkers and 27,000 of our closest friends at the Mini Heart 5K Walk downtown. Over the course of the day there was a half marathon, 5K race, 5K walk, 1K steps for stroke, and 1K kids run. Last I heard about 3 million dollars was raised for heart disease and stroke research and education.

The walk wasn’t a timed race but of course I couldn’t not figure out our time. We finished it close to 1 hour and 14 minutes. That was walking at a leisurely pace around people that were truthfully walking quite slow. Dad even got frustrated a couple of times at the lack of speed of the people walking in front of us. Still, all things considered we were only 10 minutes slower than our finish time for the Thanksgiving 5K, which is really good! Since it’s gotten cold we haven’t really done any training and this was the first course we’ve done with hills. Not too shabby.

Our next challenge is the Flying Pig 5K in May. Dad now has a fire under his butt to train more for it, not only to improve his speed but to improve his recovery time from it. He was a bit sore after Sunday. I was thinking of trying to completely run, or run as much as I can. I’m curious just how fast my time could be. Though I don’t want to leave Dad to walk on his own. We need to find someone willing to walk with him so I can run off.

The Saturday before the Mini Heart there was a health expo at the convention center downtown that I went to. They had booths from all the specialties within healthcare with free screenings, as well as booths from the different running stores selling their wares and booths from future marathons/runs. There was a couple future events that caught my eye, one in particular. There’s a local canoe rental place that’s putting on a tough mudder of sorts. 40 obstacles with mud over 10K on their property. Crazily I think it sounds super fun! I just need to find someone to do it with me so we can keep each other motivated. Dad is not the least bit interested, which I don’t really blame him. Any takers?? Bueller??

Fancy shoes and Purim

 

Last weekend Dad decided he was tired of his feet hurting and so we ventured to a fancy running specialty store for him to purchase fancy gym shoes. It was an amazing experience that I would highly recommend if you’re looking for a higher quality running/walking shoe.

We went to Fleet Feet in Cincinnati. They has awesome service, super nice, and were very knowledgeable. The store itself had more than just shoes. It had just about any running paraphernalia you could want. When I have a bit of extra change in my pocket I’ll likely go back for one of their super duper exercise bras ($60ish).

After putting your name on a waiting list, you wait and wonder. They were so busy that they were about 4 people ahead of Dad, which meant waiting probably 20 minutes. Once they called his name they asked what he was looking for in a shoe, what he actually plans on doing in it, any issues with his current shoes, and what size he’s been wearing. Then they do a cool 3D mapping of his feet, and watch his gait while he walked up and down the store barefoot. Combining all this information they brought out several shoe options, socks, and insoles for him to try out. Each pair he was encouraged to walk, or even run, around to test out as much as he wanted. There were several people literally running the sidewalk outside the store testing out their shoes.

Once Dad landed on a pair he liked we learned that he’s been wearing the wrong size shoe! Plus he’s lost all of his arch to the point where he’s completely flat footed and his ankles are turning in to compensate (hence the insoles). All in all he probably spent close to $200 between fancy new shoes, socks, and insoles. Over the next week he said it was like walking on air and his feet haven’t hurt once! Though his knee has been hurting more than usual. I attribute that to his ankles actually in a neutral position again, which is forcing his knees to a more neutral position again. In theory that should work itself out. Hopefully anyway. Our next 5K is in a week.

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I also wanted to wish you all a belated Happy Purim!

“Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. This took place in the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire. The story is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus/Achashverosh (presumed to be Xerxes I or Artaxerxes I of Persia, “Khshayarsha” and “Artakhsher” in Old Persian respectively) planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and his cousin and adopted daughter Esther, who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim).

Part of the celebration of this holiday is the wearing of costumes. According to my husband, so take this with a grain of salt, the evolution to wearing costumes on Purim came about from the story. Each year at the party the story of Esther and Mordecai is retold via a play of sorts. The actors act it out in costume. There’s a fair few characters so a good number of people at the party would be in costume for the play. This evolved to everyone at the party wearing whatever costumes they want, or so the husband says.

Last year we went as crayons (our labels had become unpinned by the time the picture was taken). This year the girls went as medieval witches. I went as Emma Watson, combining Belle and Hermione.

Our Temple does a good job with the party every year, hosting a kid version in lieu of Sunday School.  Included is a decent lunch, lots of crafts and activities, and learning opportunities. Everyone involved had fun 🙂 And I managed to only eat two hamentashen (cookie. look it up. seriously yummy).

 

Dad’s 9 month post-op

So I realized that when I posted Dad’s 9 month post-op appointment results last month that I didn’t include a picture to go with it. They always say it didn’t happen if there’s no picture to document! So here it is 🙂

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He and I are both “slow losers” in comparison to some. Both of us are occasionally disappointed in the speed at which the number on the scale is going down. That’s why taking progress pictures is so important though! Even though he “only” lost 16 lbs from July to February the visual difference is very noticeable. We’ve been doing more strength training and more cardio, so we’re building more muscle. So who knows how much fat he’s actually lost compared to how much muscle he’s gained.

Speaking of exercise I’ve learned a new fancy thing in the gym from our trainer. She said she usually doesn’t teach her weight loss management group these particular exercises due to the difficulty level. She doesn’t like to set people up for possible failure and frustration. Dad and I are two of the handful of people that have been coming to the group exercise class outside of our allotted timeframe, so we’re on month 8 (I think?) when usually people only come for 3 months. Therefore occasionally she gives me a few more challenging moves to do just to mix it up.

A few of my favorite things in the gym to do have nothing to do with the machines. I love to work on the Pilates reformers, exercise ball, and the TRX (bands with hand loops, see video). All of these are a lot more versatile than you would have ever thought and give a great workout if you know more of the moves that you can do with them. Basically you’re using your own body weight with them and working on core strength a lot, though other muscles groups are obviously used as well.

I had Dad take a video of me doing two moves that I just learned on the TRX. I needed a visual reference of how high my feet were. They ended up being a bit too low so if you choose to try this at home raise up the loops a bit so you’re in a better plank position. Also I just want it known that that is not the top of my buttcrack you can see there but the tag from my pants sticking up. I’ll do another video later on the exercise ball for comparison. The same moves on two different pieces of equipment can change up the difficulty level exponentially and give variety.

It’s very weird to me how much I actually enjoy working out and going to the gym now, though I am very much looking forward to it getting warm so Dad and I can resume our weekly hiking outdoors.