Knee Surgery

I’m waiting to be taken into the OR as I write this. It might sound weird but I’m actually excited to have this procedure done because that means my knee will actually be able to heal and I’ll actually be able to run again.

I’ve tried PT, stretches and strengthening exercises, knee braces, and more but any time I jog at all my knee swells up like a balloon. At just 24, I don’t want to abstain from running altogether. I’d rather have this minor, minimally invasive surgery done to fix it 100%!

The MRI I had done showed a few potential issues causing my problems, but the doctor said he’ll have a better idea once he’s inside my knee. There is a symptomatic plica and some scar tissue around my meniscus for sure, but there’s a chance I need my meniscus repaired or who knows what it’ll look like in there.

All I know is I’ll feel great in 6 weeks when I’m done PT and can start jogging! YAY!

  So ready! 

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Dear Coach: Setbacks & Surgeries

My last blog post was months ago and I blamed it on a busy schedule. But I can happily report that after that, I started jumping in on work outs with my athletes (fun & hard!) and going straight to the gym after work so I couldn’t change my mind. I also made use of all my personal equipment and did a lot of quick workouts in my room at home when I couldn’t get to the gym. I mainly used my resistance bands to perform various arm exercises, did body weight exercises for my legs, and used my physio ball to target my back and core. I even jump roped for cardio in my driveway…  Which is WAY harder to do for 10 minutes than I remember it being as a child. 

However, late October and November have been a ride. I’ve recently had a few health setbacks that have forced me to scale way back on my workouts.

I had a stomach bug that sapped me of all energy for a week, then just a couple weeks later when I was finally back in my groove, I had to have my appendix removed unexpectedly. (I hope you enjoy the photo I provided! I’ve never had surgery and the pain medicine I was given was quite a trip! LOL) This surgery has proven to be a lot more of a pain than I thought! Even though the appendectomy is done laparoscopically and is minimally invasive, ten days later I am still getting winded, still have tenderness in my belly, and still can’t cough or sneeze without wanting to cry. I’m not supposed to be exercising for at least another two to three weeks and when I start again, I’ll have to start at half the weight I was using. This is to ensure my abdomen muscles heal fully and I don’t give myself a hernia.
Between my knee issues (fun fact: I also have an upcoming surgery in February to remove an irritated plicae and clean up the scar tissue around my meniscus…) and my appendix, this has not been the comeback year I was hoping for after that stress fracture I had last year!

I’ve lost over five pounds of muscle and while I’m pretty lean, I’d much rather be strong. I’m itching to get back to exercising and put some weight back on. I am both cursed that I slim down quickly and lucky that my body tones quickly. For me, given my smaller stature to begin with and the fact that I’ve lost some weight rather quickly, it’s so important that I strengthen and build some muscle back before I start doing any running. I certainly don’t want to re-fracture because of these unplanned recent events!

Everyone has setbacks, gets sick, suffers an injury or has to have an emergency surgery some time! It definitely is frustrating. It’s exhausting to start all over again and lose gains and progress. But we’ll get back and hopefully exceed our goals! Just remember all the reasons why pushing on is important to you and tap into that motivation when you’re healed. 💪🏼🏆

Dear Coach: Losing Weight

Clients: You’re lucky you’re so skinny/toned/small/etc/etc/etc……..
Me: It’s not luck!!!


As a personal trainer, I think it’s really important to be able to relate to my clients when it comes to fitness goals. Most of my clients assume I’m just one of those special, lucky people who are naturally thin and fit without even trying – one of those extremely blessed people who can eat literally anything they want, as much of it as they want, and not gain a pound. But that isn’t me. While my weight loss total wasn’t over the top or as significant as most, it still counts and it certainly gave me insight on how difficult it is to lose weight!

When I was a senior in high school, I gained about ten pounds. Part of this was travelling abroad and experiencing Spain’s diverse foods to the fullest and part of it was not continuing to exercise when my team sports seasons ended. A big part of this was being social all summer with my friends, going out for ice cream every chance we got before jetting off to college.

My freshman year of college at UMass Amherst, I gained even more weight. The “Freshman Fifteen” is real people – especially at a school like UMass where the dining is delicious and all you can eat. Not to mention that if you want it to be, the drinking scene can be heavy.

By the time I was heading into sophomore year of college (I transferred to Gordon at this time), I was over 135 pounds. I had never weighed more than 120 in my life. I’m not extremely tall, about 5’6″, so 135 is on the upper end of an average weight. But I was clearly not muscular, not toned, and definitely not fitting into my old jeans.

That spring, I really took to the gym and started eating healthier. I lost about 5 pounds over break and came back feeling awesome about it. So that summer, I decided to forego all ice cream excursions and dedicate myself to getting my cardio in every week. It wasn’t just one thing I changed, but my whole lifestyle. I slowly cut out junk food to the point where I didn’t even crave it anymore. The gym became a haven where I could de-stress and love the work my body could do. The roads of my town became my treadmill and I revelled in making it farther and farther on each run.

By the time I went back for my junior year, I lost all the weight I had put on and then some. I fluctuated between 115-120, but continued my healthy eating habits and exercise routines. Maybe losing 15-20 pounds doesn’t sound like much. But it was a lot to me! I could see the difference and feel the difference physically, emotionally, and mentally. I had more energy, was happier and more focused, and I felt more confident and motivated in other aspects of my life.

Photo Jun 20, 6 52 52 AM Photo Jun 20, 6 53 52 AM

[After freshman year of college (2011) I was at my heaviest (left photos). Most notable is the weight in my face (chubby cheeks!) and arms. Right photos are 2014 and 2012 respectively.]

Photo Jun 20, 6 55 34 AM Photo Jun 20, 6 57 34 AM

[Again, left photos are all 2010-2011. Right photos are 2012 and 2014. Again, the weight in my cheeks and arms is most notable, but I also lost quite a few inches around my waist and stomach.]

No matter what your fitness goal is, it’s important to do it for YOU and only you. Be determined and love yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve when you get closer to your goal. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen over night. Surround yourself with people who understand what it’s like – what it’s like to strive toward your goal, what it’s like to slip up and fall off track, what it’s like to lose motivation and get down on yourself, what it’s like to crave dessert, what it’s like to feel your body burn during your workout, what it’s like to achieve that goal.

I always tell my clients that I certainly did NOT always look the way I do now. And I still have fitness goals I want to achieve. There is a reason I always refer to your fitness journey as a journey, and it’s because you’ll never be “done”. Even when you achieve your goal, there’s always another one to strive for, or at least maintain.

I was really discouraged when I finally realized I had put on 20 pounds and could barely do a push up or run a decent mile. But I’m glad I went through that journey because it’s allowed me to relate to all my clients who have weight loss goals and struggles. I can get personal and honestly say, “I’ve been there, I GET IT.” It’s hard, and it takes time and dedication, but it’s a day to day process. We’ll get there.

  

 [Present. 2015]

-Coach A

Dear Coach: More Favorites?

Dear Coach, Got any more fun favorites to share?

-Fitness Fan


Fitness Fan,

There are always more things to like when it comes to fitness! Here’s a couple more of my favorites (and not so favorites)…

-SPORTS BRAS! Is this a weird thing to love? I love that I can buy them for $5 at TJMaxx. I mean really? I’ll take 10….

-CORE! I LOVE ab exercises. One of my favorite feelings is when my abs are sore from a previous workout and just me laughing even makes the muscles ache a bit.

IMG_4503-LEGS! Strength training my lower body is a fave. I love squats. Sumo squats. Squats with overhead press. Goblet squats. Front squats. I love it.

-SUMMERCan I count a season as a favorite when it comes to fitness? Well I am. Spring (and summer) is my favorite time to year be exercising outside.  The temperatures are perfect, everything is coming to life again.  After all the snow is gone, you have a much greater appreciation for how the sun feels on your skin and how you can actually start to sweat again because you’re finally thawing out after a long, cold winter!  Who could pass up that view?!

Dislikes: 

-HEADPHONES. I’m always yanking the wire out of my ear or iPod by accident and disrupting my gym flow. Although I found a great pair that hooks into my ears so they stay in place, I still can’t stand the feeling of ear buds in my ear when I start to seriously sweat.

What do you think?  Have a different question for me? Comment!

-Coach A

Dear Coach: What Are Your Favorites?

Dear Coach,
What are your favorite fitness things?

Sincerely,
Curious Reader


Hey Curious Reader!

Well. I love so many different things….IMG_4494

-RUNNING! is my favorite form of cardio. I’ve learned to love running and feel amazing both during and after a run. Just
knowing that my body is capable of carrying me miles and miles, or my muscles are strong enough to push me at a great speed gives me all sorts of good feels.

SNEAKERS! I have so many pairs of sneakers and I love them all. The more outrageous the colors, the more I love it.

asics sneaksATHLETIC CLOTHES! in general, especially shorts and pants. Yeah. Clothes. All of it. My style is definitely athleisure, if that’s even a thing. I wear gym clothes anywhere, anytime.

Dislikes:

-ARMS are not particularly my favorite. My upper body has always been “weak”, but it’s getting better! Playing sports in college forced me to balance out the muscles in my shoulders and arms so I got very used to push-ups, burpees, plank up-downs, bicep curls, and anterior/lateral side raises. While I don’t love these exercises I love bikehow good they make my arms look!

-STATIONARY BIKE. I have a serious grudge against the stationary bikes at the gym. I was injured and unable to run for months at one point, and the bike was my only option. I got so bored! But put me on a bike OUTSIDE and we have a totally different story!

What do you think? Anything you relate to here? Let me know 🙂 That’s all for now!

Coach A

Dear Coach Special Edition: My Journey

Hi! Now that you’ve read a few of my articles and hopefully continue to check back in here, I wanted to give you a more meaningful and personal introduction of who I am and where my fitness journey really began, as well as where it is now.

The Beginning

I played sports in high school, but was just average. It wasn’t until college that I really found a passion for exercise and health. After that freshman 15 (ouch), I turned myself around. I declared my major as Kinesiology and got to learn all about sports, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, muscles, the effects of exercise and disease on the body, and so much more.

The Turn Around

All of this new knowledge is what led me to begin viewing my body as an agile, efficient, smooth-running machine. Whenever I went for a run, I would revel in how capable my muscles were. Striding out, contracting, pushing me faster. I started incorporating more strength into my exercise routine and finally got stronger. No more wimpy girl push ups!

I learned to eat the best foods and actually enjoy them. Chickpea and bean salad with beets. Yum. Granola and yogurt. Double yum. The more I ate good, healthy foods, the less appealing potato chips and ice cream became. All cravings for unhealthy foods stopped. iphone2014-2015 008

I started playing college sports. Even though I wasn’t the most skillful lacrosse player, my speed allowed me to keep up and help my teammates improve as well. Being on a team was an amazing experience! It was worth all the hard work and pre-season training I tortured myself with.

The Setback

Then, all the good feels came to an end. Senior year of college, I got injured. A stress fracture in my tibia put a halt to all things exercise, running, and sports. I was devastated. Running was my thing. It was my stress reliever, made me happy, helped me think about the issues in my life, kept me sane. Running was my therapy and my training! To be honest, I relied on running a little too much… it would definitely be fair to say I idolized it.

So, The Good Lord opened my eyes to this idol in my life and forced me to turn my eyes back toward Him. I had to spend 8 weeks on crutches resting, watching my teammates practice and play. What a humbling experience. When I was finally cleared to run again, I discovered that the fracture still wasn’t fully healed like the doctors thought. So, I had to start the healing process all over.

This cycle continued three times. Each time I would start back at it, the bone just wasn’t healed fully. Each time I would start back, I got too excited and started my running frequency or intensity at too high a level. I would immediately get selfish with my running, and have to run faster than anyone near me at the gym. How ugly, how proud! When would I learn? I would give other people advice on only focusing on bettering yourself, on being patient with injuries, on the important of rest. Yet I couldn’t swallow my own advice. 

The Present

Now, its been a full 6 months of NO running at all, and I get to (God willing) start running again – slowly this time. I designed a 12-week cardio program to help me not only strengthen the muscles in my legs to help avoid re-fracture, but also to hold me accountable to minimal frequency, mileage and intensity. The program begins with mostly walking, and slowly and gradually builds up to my desired mileage and intensity over a three month period.

IMG_4495In addition to the cardio, I re-evaluated my nutrition. Was I getting enough protein? Was my diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals? Was I unknowingly negatively affecting the health of my bones?

So I researched vitamins, cut out foods that were actually leaching the calcium stores from my bones (Coffee is one culprit! How awful!), and started incorporating more leafy greens filled with calcium and other nutrients into my diet (Kale, broccoli…), as well as really made sure I was getting adequate amounts of protein in each meal.

Since I began personal training during this process, I was able to incorporate more meaningful and effective strength training exercises into my regimen, which has made a huge difference in how my legs feel! I’m confident this will translate into helping me with my running comeback by taking some of the impact and load off my bones.

Results

This journey back will likely feel slow and laborious. Torturous even! The first two weeks I literally can only run for a grand total of 6 minutes (3 minutes one day, rest two days, 3 minutes the next day…Humble pie, anyone?) Plus, it’s always a conscious journey to keep my nutrition in check. (Limiting my coffee intake is probably the biggest struggle!) But if I have learned anything from this chronic, long term injury, it’s that rehab and rest are critical to one’s health. It’s smarter to take the time your body needs to heal rather than rush it. You’ll just be hurting yourself and prolonging your journey back to health. Take it from me, I was diagnosed with this fracture a year ago!

Additionally, my eyes have been opened to the dangers of over training. I idolized running to the point of idiocy. Going for two to three runs a day. Running sub-7 minute mile repeats for 5 miles straight, then going back to the gym later in the day to do it again. No wonder I fractured my tibia. Thank God for forcing me to find new ways to do cardio that I actually enjoyed so I’m able to change it up. Aqua jogging, long bike rides outside, swimming…I never would have opted for these methods of training if I hadn’t been desperate for exercise, but they’re really awesome!

As a result of this injury, I’ve also learned so much more about strength training and cross training, as well as how nutrition influences our biology. Really ensuring you maintain a proper diet, eat the right nutrients and calories, and make up for any vitamin deficits is truly just as important as when and how you exercise. IMG_4500

If any of you readers can relate, feel free to comment any questions about stress fractures, strength training and cross training, or nutrition below. I would love to chat!

I’m excited to be back, running around in the gorgeous New England spring and summer weather. I will definitely be writing future posts on my comeback journey! So stay tuned 🙂

-Coach A

Dear Coach: Why Should I Eat Every 3 Hours?

Coach,

Why do I have to eat every 3 hours? I’m trying to lose weight, so shouldn’t I be eating less?

Sincerely,
#Confused


Dear #Confused,

It’s natural to think that if you want to lose weight, you should eat less. But this actually is a misconception that tends to bring many people failure instead of success when it comes to reaching their fitness goals.

The reason eating 3-4 hours is so important has to do with our metabolism. Our blood sugar plays a key role in letting us know when we are hungry and it’s time to eat, and when we are full. It is important to listen to these cues and stay within a normal range of blood sugar levels.

If we wait too long to eat, our body goes into “panic” mode, and worries about when it will be fed again. In turn, the next time you feed it, it tends to keep more of those calories and store them as fat, instead of use them for regular functions. This leads to weight gain, as more fat is being stored in your body.

Similarly, eating too often has negative effects. If we eat too often, our body is receiving more calories than it needs to function properly, so it will store any excess calories as fat. Again, this leads to weight gain.

Eating every 3-4 hours ensures that our blood sugar levels stay within a normal range. Our blood sugar doesn’t go too high (over-eating), or too low (under-eating), so the calories we do eat are processed and metabolized normally and efficiently, fueling our muscles, brain and the rest of our body for whatever tasks we face.

This is not to say you should eat a huge meal every 3-4 hours. Make sure your daily calorie intake is appropriate for your age, weight, and height. Snack on proper, small, balanced meals (snacks, if you will) in between your regularly scheduled breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Sincerely,
Coach A