Trust the Process: Pain, Progress and Lessons Learned.

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Trust The Process…even if it seems impossible at times.

October 28th.  I was so incredibly excited to lift that day.  My trainer, Brian, and I were going to lift together for the first time.  Normally, he’s all professional and does the typical trainer/coach thing, but this time he and I were lifting together as partners.

I love this camaraderie.  I love that my gym understands the importance of relationships, not just protocol.  A previous gym of mine didn’t like my trainer lifting with me during sessions. They thought it provided an unprofessional appearance.

Fuck Appearance.

This isn’t a runway show, this is Strength Training…Powerlifting to be exact. It’s gritty, dirty, sweaty, fun, challenging, exhilarating and it’s Family.  Family doesn’t care if you show up in a ripped shirt with a gallon jug.  They just care that you’re there.

At this point I am about 6 weeks into my Powerlifting journey.  I’ve been lifting in general for almost a year and I love every second, but now the goals have changed.  I’ve committed verbally to a meet in June of 2018 and I’m competitive AF.

This day, however, will be remembered for the lesson I learn on my very last rep.  I’m feeling amazing.  Pushing myself harder than usual.  The pump is good and then it happens.

On my last squat rep (5th set. This one is 135×5…my max has been 165lb) I start to power up and in my exhaustion, I lean.  Lean forward.  My mind immediately says, “Oh Shit, straighten out Stephens” and in the process, I feel the pull.  It’s my SI Joint.  I’ve notoriously had issues with an SI Joint that doesn’t just move easily, but moves often. I rack the weight and immediately stretch and figure it’s gonna be fine, just some extra pump. We move to bench.

After some quick bench work, I take to the mats to stretch.  The Rollga is not in sight, and I didn’t have my own with me.  So, I grab a traditional foam roller and start to roll out my glutes.  As I twist to try to hit my piriformis on my right side, the sharp edge of the foam roller along with my heavier body weight decided my fate.

POP.

It happened.  I popped my Right SI joint so far forward it subluxated my right Hip.  AAAAAND I’m out.

Fast forward 14 days.  14 days later, I’m writing this in the backseat of my car as we drive home from a Hockey Weekend.  Currently, I am the most comfortable I’ve been in days. Last night I had my first sleep session that was longer than 2 hours straight and woke up with little to no pain.  This didn’t come from popping pills and sitting on my ass.  This came from 14 days of hard work that wasn’t in the gym.  There were tears, screams of pain, thoughts of anything but success.  It was 14 of the hardest days I’ve had in a very long time.

Injury is not just debilitating but it’s embarrassing, it’s demoralizing and it’s the enemy of motivation. The thoughts that went through my brain included:

“Will people laugh at this?” “Are they all saying ‘I Told You So’?”  “Will I be able to continue?”  “How am I going to explain this one to the ones that already doubted me?”

I stepped back and started to really look at what was happening.  Was I done lifting? Would my coach say, “Well, if that’s how it’s gonna go, let’s just quit.”?  Nope. The next 14 days would prove to be more motivating and introspective than I would have ever guessed.

With every Chiropractic adjustment, even the ones through tears, I felt myself changing.  Physical therapy stretch sessions, multiple daily ice baths and a diet of Advil and water were mixed with one of the busiest weeks my job demands.  Multiple Rollga sessions on my Quads, Hamstrings, IT’s and glutes helped to alleviate the extreme exhaustion my muscles were feeling due to constant contractions with nerve pains.  Heating pad sessions just on my muscles with ice packs on my joints.  Sleep session that only lasted a max of 2 hours due to pain waking me up and telling me to move to my other side.  2am ice showers when my nerve pain in my legs created the most painful restless legs you can imagine.  Young living Pan Away and BioFreeze Professional were my new aromatherapy and every time I wanted to cry and just give up, *Bing* my phone would light up with another notification.  It was my FitFam.  Whether a post notification showing one of my FitFam’s newest accomplishments, a suggestion on recovery for myself or just a general inquiry, I realized I wasn’t alone.  I wasn’t going through this on my own.  This wasn’t an end, it was a bump in the road and it was going to be a major teaching factor in my workouts and how I push my training as my coach and I continue the journey to the USAPL Raw Open in MN June 2018.

As the week continued, I started to see and feel a difference.  10% mobility to 60% in just 5 days.  I started pushing myself for new options of healing so I could ditch the Advil.  Checked out my first Cryogenic Session at Kuhlen Cryo in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  (separate blog post on this) I rested rather than pushed myself and am officially 3 days advil free and my pain has decreased from a 10 to a 3.   This is progress.  Tomorrow I get to see my coach and be back at the gym.  We’ll be heading back into this slowly and working on a lot of accessory work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t cry when I hug him tomorrow at 3:30pm.

Is my story the worst? Did I suffer the most of anyone? Nope. But when you’re the one in pain, it’s easy to curl up in a ball and give up.  The FitFam I surround myself wouldn’t let me do that.  If you ever feel alone, embarrassed or an outsider in this fitness world, Reach out!  Reach out to me, the guy on the bench next to you, or even a fitness lover that you follow online.  We are REALLY here for you. We get it.  We’ve all been there. I can officially say I have. It’s my turn to help you through the tough times.

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Help, Please. The Toughest Phrase in the English Language.

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IMG_4481I’ve been spiraling downward for months now.  Deluding myself into thinking that i’m just fine. I’m just happy. I’m in control of my weight, of my eating, of my thinking.

Nope.

Not so much.

I made the call.

It was a sunny day.  A Friday.  I was driving with the windows down, the radio up and a strange feeling of ambition.

Sitting at a stoplight, I picked up my phone and dialed.

It rang. Three times it rang.

“Hey Brook!” Ben, my trainer, answered with a smile.

I took a deep breath, let all the pride, anger, hurt and self-loathing free.  I was ready to admit it.

“I need help.”

 

And so a new journey begins….

Falling Down and NOT Running Away

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Sometimes things happen.  Sometimes things are Life. Other times things aren’t things. They are just one thing.  They are just one letter; I

Work didn’t tell me to skip the gym.  My son didn’t tell me to eat pizza instead of the lunch I brought.  My husband definitely didn’t tell me to skip doing work and play games on my iphone.  Nope.

What we have here is a failure to commit.  But why?

Ok, let’s rewind about two months:

I’m gung ho! I’m rarin’ to go!  I’ve got my supplements.  I’ve shopped.  My training sessions are scheduled.

One day gets stressful and I seek the typical head in the sand escape.  I cancel on Ben at Rejuv.  I don’t eat my lunch or really anything at all.  I’m running late and blame the world.

I’m afraid.  I don’t know why.  I’m totally fearless with so many things, but when it comes to weight loss and commitment to myself, I run scared and it takes me weeks to figure out that I’m running.

Then it’s the lunch lady sized ladle of steaming hot self guilt.  “Will they just shake their heads at me?”  “Will they think less of me?”  “Am I a total failure?”  “Who have I let down now?”  “How can I hide my total embarassment and self pity from everyone, they can’t see me like this!”

I work in a career where my life is in the open for all to see.  Sometimes I have to appear super happy even when I’m not.  I have to be the life of the party.  90% of the time, I am happy and ready to party, but there’s that 10% of the time that I question if people will not like me as much if they only knew that I fall down on the road to progress alot. This is where negative self talk destroys me.

This has been a pattern in my life for years.  Back in college, I was a Computer Science Major.  I loved learning code, JAVA, C++, etc.  However, even though I was good at it, I was even better at correcting other people’s incorrect coding.  This is just like my weight loss journey.

I know what to do.  I can even help others on their road.  I have the answers.  I just can’t seem to execute them for myself. The only thing I can think of is that by helping others, I’m not committing to anything. I’m just swooping in and doing what I love in short bursts.

Weight loss for me can’t be a hobby. It can’t be an every now and then thing.  I need to keep my head out of the sand and make this a career.  I know that I can do this. I did it before I had Timothy. Losing the weight after baby?  So much harder mentally.  I’m strongly thinking of joining the weekly support group at Rejuv Medical calling “Breaking Barriers”.  It might be just what I need to finally COMMIT to this LIFESTYLE of health.

Chicken with Balsamic Tomatoes & Artichokes

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2013-12-30 19.54.01Alright. First off I’d like to thank the Academy.  Ok. Not really, but I would like to thank my mother for always making things from scratch.  After years of peering over the counter watching her chop veggies and try new recipes, I can officially say that I’ve inherited the kitchen bug.

I found a recipe similar to this one last night on Pinterest and totally forgot to actually pin it…what does this mean?  Well it means I’ll never find it again. It’s now lost in an abyss of recipes and handicrafts.  Thankfully, I read the recipe well a couple of times and had already done the shopping for it.  Now, it’s time to put my own twist on it.

The original recipe only called for around 5 ingredients:  Roma Tomatoes, Jarred Artichokes, Flour, Sugar and Chicken.  That’s it. yup.  It was a Clean Eating Recipe and well, I guess they didn’t realize that white flour and white granulated sugar are both no-no’s in the Clean Eating world.

I also am a HUGE fan of Fresh Herbs and food with a bit of a tang to it:  Insert Balsamic Vinegar.  Oh B-Vin you ol’ dog you!  You always know how to make a girl feel sophisticated.

I also forgot the temp on the oven and how long to cook it…so we winged it…and well..it worked!

My husband gladly ate his over angel hair pasta and said he liked it enough for me to make it again, but not enough to eat leftovers.  I still consider this a victory since my husbands idea of pantry staples are Manwich, Suddenly Salad, Frozen Pizza and Pierogies.

You can use any 9×13 cake pan or roaster…I have a Le Creuset 3qt Au Gratin that I used for this recipe.

If you are super new to cooking..don’t be afraid this is NOT a difficult recipe 🙂

Materials I used:

So I started out by cutting each Roma Tomato into 4, then coring them, then chopping them up from there.  I drained a small jar of Artichoke hearts and added them to the bowl.  This is where I start to get creative because the original recipe only called for two more ingredients, white flour and sugar. Nope Not using those.  So instead I add Balsamic Vinegar, Honey, Chopped Fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped Fresh Basil, minced garlic, salt & pepper, grated Parmesan and whole wheat flour.  I generously Salted & Peppered my Chicken breasts and then popped it in the oven! BOOM that easy!

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I baked it, covered in tin foil, at 350 degrees until the chicken was almost done, then took off the foil, stirred it up a bit, basted the chicken, sprinkled on some Parm/Asiago mix and fresh parsley and popped it back into the oven until bubbly and the chicken/cheese mix was slightly browned.

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Served it over Quinoa for me and Angel hair pasta for my husband. it was delish 🙂

2013-12-30 20.12.06Chicken with Balsamic Tomatoes & Artichokes

Easy / Serves 4-6 depending on portions

      • 2.5 lb pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts (thawed/fresh)
      • 6-8 Ripe Roma Tomatoes
      • 1 small jar of Artichoke Hearts
      • 1 heaping TBL of Whole Wheat Flour
      • 1 clove garlic minced
      • 2 Tbl grated Parmesan Cheese
      • 2 Tbl to 1/4 c Shredded Parmesan, Asiago or blend Cheese
      • 1 tsp honey
      • 1-2 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar
      • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (reserve 1/4c for end of baking & garnish)
      • 2-3 large Basil Leaves Chopped
      • Kosher Salt
      • Pepper
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
    2. Wash then Quarter, core and chop up Roma Tomatoes and put them in a large mixing bowl
    3. Drain and add Artichoke hearts to the bowl
    4. Add Garlic, 1/4 cup of the Parsley, Basil, Honey, Balsamic Vinegar, Grated parmesan cheese, Whole Wheat Flour and mix together.
    5. Pour into a greased baking dish
    6. wash and pat dry the Chicken breasts, then generously salt and pepper them.
    7. Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the tomato mixtures
    8. Cover with Foil and back until chicken is almost finished, approx 50 mins.
    9. Take the foil off, stir it up, baste the chicken and sprinkle shredded cheese onto chicken.
    10. Place back in oven and bake until bubbly and the chicken/cheese turns a golden brown.