Physical Therapy is Hard

10325771_10152178862025945_3803660742779114138_n[1]If you’ve ever done physical therapy, this won’t come as a surprise to you.

I’ve been in PT for about four weeks now trying to address the issues with my knees.  It’s going well, but it’s painful.  I’m working to strengthen my hips, legs and knees in order to help my knees maintain their alignment and also alleviate the pain associated with the loss of cushioning and cartilage.

My first active session with my therapist was both embarrassing and torturous.

First, she put me through a series of hip and leg exercises that were expected and not all that different from working out with my trainer.  It felt like a workout, but that was good.  Afterwards, she “stretched me out.”  This is where it gets embarrassing.

Like this, except laying on or your back with a therapist looming over you.

Like this, except laying on your back with a therapist looming over you.

She had me lay diagonally across a therapy table, and positioned my legs so that one foot was braced on her shoulder, and the other was bent as far back as possible under the table.  She leaned into me so that my knee was almost touching my shoulder, and she used her body to stretch my other leg back under the table, stretching my quad and hip flexor.  Outside the context of a PT room, this would have looked like some serious girl on girl action.  I was so embarrassed by the positioning, and we were not alone in the room, I had to stare at the ceiling.  I could not look her in the face while we were in this ridiculous position.

Then, with my leg jacked up to my shoulder, she digs her forearm into the top of my other thigh and says, “Your hips are so tight.  Your quads and hamstrings are strong, but your hips are really tight and weak.”

Gasping through the pain of her shredding my muscle with her tiny arms of steel, I said, “No way!  My hips aren’t weak!  My hips are bangin’!”

Just kidding.  I didn’t say that, and my hips aren’t bangin’.  Well, at least not in that way.  My hips are awesome in a good-Midwestern-stock-breeding-hips sort of way.  I actually had a doctor tell me once that I was “good Midwestern stock.”  I probably should have been offended by that at the time.

Anyway, this freaky, painful stretching escapade lasted for several minutes and then she moved me into the same position with the other leg.  At one point I had to put my arm over my face and turn away because I refused to allow anyone in that room to see how much pain I was in.  I kept chanting to myself quietly, “Don’t cry in public, don’t cry in public.   Only candy-ass, wussie girls cry in public!”  The next morning as I was getting dressed, I noticed multiple bruises all over the tops of both my thighs.

I don't know this guy.  It's a stock photo, but an accurate depiction of pervy guy.

I don’t know this guy. It’s a stock photo, but an accurate depiction of pervy guy.

This physical torture has continued for four long weeks.  The stretching has gotten better and less painful, although there is one dude also receiving therapy who seems to enjoy watching my stretching sessions with more enthusiasm than I’m comfortable with. I’m pretty certain he’s a pervert and probably getting off on the visual.  I secretly hope the therapist gives him an extra dig with her elbow when she’s manipulating his muscles.

I wish I could say that I’ve noticed a significant difference between the knee shots and therapy, but so far, it’s mostly the same.  Pain, grinding, and more pain.  My therapist admitted to me that some people don’t experience any pain relief from the shots.  That’s disheartening considering that I only need one more shot to complete the course of my treatment.

So yeah, physical therapy is not for sissies.

I can never un-see that!

The other day I was at the gym, minding my own business.  I was on one of the cycles, just finishing my cardio workout. In my peripheral vision I see this man walking toward me, and he stands directly in front of my cycle, which is positioned along a carpeted walkway.

I recognize him.  I saw him a few days ago.  I was lifting weights and noticed that he was looking in my general direction.  I didn’t think he was watching me at the time but maybe I was wrong about that.  He’s tall, in his late forties.  A big guy.  Not handsome, but not unattractive.  Average.

I can tell he’s staring at me and he’s standing three feet away from my bike.  I’m trying to keep my gaze on the display screen.  Pretending I don’t know he’s staring.  It makes me uncomfortable.

He slowly raises his shirt to reveal a hairy, sweaty chest.  He begins to dry himself off with a towel while continuing to stare at me.

What the fuck!?

I look to the left, then to the right.  Am I being punked?  Is this for real?  Who does this?

Then he turns around, lifts his shirt again, and dries his back while looking over his shoulder at me.  His back is hairy and sticky with sweat.  I almost threw up a little in my mouth.  I don’t usually have an issue with hairy chests, but this is not sexy.  This is not okay.  Why is this happening?  I feel as though I have been visually assaulted!

Then, and I swear to God I’m not making this up, he hikes his leg up on a piece of exercise equipment, sticks out his ass, and then looks over his shoulder to stare at me again.  It was like something Will Ferrell would do in an SNL skit.  I was speechless.  I had no words.  I couldn’t even laugh because his behavior was so ridiculous.

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No one jumped out with a camera.  No one started laughing.  Am I being hit on?  Is this how old dudes try and pick up women at the gym?  No wonder so many people prefer to be single these days!

I can never un-see that!  Ever!  It makes me want to scrub my eyeballs with bleach and a wire brush!

I quickly jumped off the bike and headed to the locker room.  When I got home I told Dan about it.  He laughed and laughed.  I said, “I don’t know if I was supposed to be flattered or insulted, but I’m leaning toward insulted.”


Help me feel better about this people….what’s your worst gym story?

A Conversation with my Vivofit.

I’m forty-five minutes into an hour workout with my trainer, Carrie.

I’m dripping in sweat and about to go into another super-set of exercises.  I casually glance down at my Vivofit.  It’s the fitness band I wear that tracks my activity levels.  If there’s an extended red line across the top of the display screen then that indicates you’ve been inactive for to long and need to step it up.  As I look at the band, the red line is blazing across the display because it doesn’t count anything but a full stride of movement, walking or running.

So I say, “Look at this Carrie!  The red line is mocking me!  It says, move your ass fat girl, you’ve been stationary too long!”

Carrie is quietly laughing at my outrage.

So I look at the Vivofit on my wrist and say, “Fuck you Vivofit!  You don’t count the 100+ lunges I’ve done today, or the eighty squats I did with weights!  You don’t count the rowing machine, or the fact that I bench pressed 45 fucking pounds!  Screw you and your red line of ridicule and judgment!”

Carrie is still laughing.  And then she says, “That could make a good blog post.”


You’re number one, Vivofit!

Wanda Says…I can do anything for a count of ten!

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that in my attempt to increase my levels of physical fitness, I walked over 12,000 steps yesterday.  The bad news is that I’m pretty sure my knees and ankles are now plotting to murder me in my sleep.

I’ve been plugging along with my diet and exercise routine with somewhat slow but still fairly decent results.  The first week with my trainer I gained two pounds which she assured me was normal.  Then I lost the two pounds and gained them back when my bestie came into town for the weekend.  Apparently drinking gallons of wine and eating out two meals a day is not exactly healthy or good for my diet.  Whatever.


Even though I’m not shedding pounds quickly, and I accept the fact that this is my fault and directly related to my weekend activities, I am getting stronger.   I can feel it in my arms and legs.  And I notice the difference in what I can do in my workouts.


My trainer, Carrie, is amazing.  I actually look forward to working out with her.  Can you believe that?  I look forward to an hour of physical punishment twice a week.  I describe it as punishment because after the workout I feel like I need to crawl into bed and sleep for the rest of the day.  The other day I came home from the gym and went into my son’s room to play with him.  I laid down on his bed and passed out for over an hour.  I slept in his bed in the middle of the day while he played around me.  That one hour with Carrie is so exhausting, and my whole body has been continuously sore for weeks.  My armpits are even sore.  I actually feel like someone punched me in the armpit, repeatedly.  Who knew that was possible?  But during the workout I don’t feel exhausted.  I just feel strong and curious to see what I can do.  I never watch the clock, either.  When I workout with her I never feel like I have to check and see how much time is left before I can be done.

exercise-would-be-so-much-more-rewarding-if-calories-screamed-in-agony-as-you-burned-them-f568c[1]Prior to our workout, I do a quick warm up on the treadmill in a small, woman’s only section of the gym.  This room has mirrors on every wall, so while I’m on the treadmill I can see my body from every angle.  This has proved to be very motivating for me.  By the time I’m done with that warm up and join Carrie in the larger section of the gym I am mentally prepared for her to put me through my paces.  Seeing my body from every angle while I walk on that treadmill reinforces why I’m there.  I told Carrie about this and then said to her, “I don’t care what you ask me to do as long as you help me get rid of my second ass.  I only need one, and this bitch has been free-loading on my backside for long enough.”

She also pushes me in ways that I would never think to push myself.  I’ve learned to not even look at the amount of weight she hands me.  My first workout I thought she was crazy when she handed me ten pound dumbbells.  Now, I just trust that she knows what she’s doing and she wouldn’t give it to me if she thought I couldn’t really do it.  It is hard.  I have to fight through the exercises and I’ve learned what people mean when they talk about the mental aspect of pushing through physical barriers.  I mentally chant to myself during difficult exercises, which is almost every exercise she asks me to do.  I quietly tell myself, over and over, “I can do anything for a count of ten.”  Of course, it’s actually three sets of ten, but in that moment I just need to get through ten.   I focus on that and it helps me to wrap my head around what I am pushing my body to do.

My first week I could only plank for twenty seconds.  My whole body vibrates with the effort necessary to hold the position.  At week four I can do fifty seconds.  I hate that fifty seconds.  Carries says, “Close your eyes, breathe and go to your happy place.”  Instead, I close my eyes and repeatedly think, “I can do anything for fifty seconds.”

And I can.

Wanda Says…Pilates is hard.

fitness at 40I’ve always wanted to try Pilates, but honestly, what little I’ve seen of it really intimidates me.  I’ve never seen curvaceous women or people who need to lose weight doing Pilates.  It’s always super sculpted women with flat and tight everything rocking those moves like it’s no big deal.  It’s always left me with the impression that Pilates is one of those workouts you tackle after you’re in great shape, not when you’re trying to get into shape.

My neighbor and good friend recently suggested I attend a Pilates class with her.  I wanted to go but I was afraid, not fully knowing what to expect, that I would make a complete ass out of myself.  I am one of those curvaceous women you never see doing Pilates.  Plus, even when you use a workout mat, when you have big boobs, laying face down on the floor and smashing the girls into an unforgiving surface is not something to look forward too.  So, just to try it out in the privacy of my own home first, I got a beginners Pilates DVD so I could do a few of the workouts and really see for myself what it was all about.  Let me stress, the workout I got was for beginners.

Holy workout hell!

It doesn’t look hard at first, until you try to balance on your tailbone with your arms and legs fully extended in the air. Or balance on your side and hip and lift your legs and shoulders off the ground using only your stomach muscles. That’s when shit gets real.

The core basics workout was insane.  I realize my core needs work, but I couldn’t get my body to do half of what the instructor was doing.  My muscles just wouldn’t respond to my brain’s command to lift my legs and my upper body off the floor at the same time, and every exercise was a variation of this move.  Additionally, my lower back and tailbone are sensitive to pressure, so there is no way I can properly balance on my tailbone without experiencing pain.  Even now, over an hour after finishing the workout my neck, shoulders and tailbone are still pulsing with discomfort.  I’m sure I was doing it wrong….but you have to have abs of fucking steel to do these moves.  In fact, hold on…I need to get an Advil.

Maybe if I found a class that stressed it was for beginners it would be better, but for now I’m going to go find a heating pad and raid my husband’s medicine cabinet for some Bengay and call it a day.

Pilates=Epic Fail.

Wanda Says…Losing weight is hard.

women workout 2In a recent post (Move your ass, sister!) I talked about some of my challenges with physical fitness and weight loss over the years. I also discussed how in recent months I’ve overcome some of my motivational barriers and begun working out regularly.

I’m still working out six days a week and surprisingly, I’m enjoying it. I like the way I look after a workout, all covered in sweat and red in the face.  It’s validation that I worked hard.  I feel my body getting stronger in some ways, especially through my arms, and I am definitely less fatigued throughout the day and have more energy.  However, I’m losing weight at a snail’s pace, and it’s incredibly frustrating.

When I first started increasing my workouts, in the first two weeks I gained four pounds. Four fucking pounds!  Everyone said, “Oh, don’t worry, you’re probably just gaining muscle.  This happens.”  Despite the fact that I was calorie counting and working out daily, these four pounds just sat there, shaming me every time I got on the scale.  After a couple of weeks the scale began to slowly eek its way down, a half-pound at a time.  To date, I’ve lost those four pounds, but only those four pounds over a nine week period.  At this pace, I need to change Operation Hot by 40 to Operation-Hot-By-The- Time-You-Stop-Giving-A- Fuck-About-Being-Hot.

I talked to my doctor and she didn’t have answers for me. I’m very healthy and my bloodwork is always great.  The logical answer is for me to look at my diet, and admittedly, I could be making some better choices.  But I will never be that girl who can survive on salad and lemon water.  I enjoy food, and while I understand calorie counting and calorie quality is important, I believe in moderation versus elimination.  I know from experience that if I’m too extreme in my diet or calorie reduction, it will just set me up for failure.  I start to feel sick and lethargic for days, and then ultimately throw the diet out the window out of frustration and physical misery.

Angry Woman SpeaksMore importantly, I get cranky and snappish when I’m hungry.   Have you spent time with super thin people who don’t eat?  They’re assholes!  And they should be crabby because they’re starving!  Living in LA, you hear about this stuff all the time.  It’s really popular for people to take appetite suppressants or other drugs to help control their weight, because God forbid, if your thigh is wider than your arm, California may just kick you out for not conforming to the standard.  If there’s some actress or model throwing a fit on set because her imported bottled water isn’t the right temperature, I guarantee you she probably isn’t really a bitch as much as she just needs a sandwich.

green shakeI know liquid diets are really popular these days, too. That’s one thing I will never be able to wrap my head around.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I want to feel like I really ate something.  I want to chew my food.  I love the flavor and texture and aroma of good food. I can’t just choke down a green shake made from ten kinds of lettuce that tastes like horse piss and feel even remotely satisfied.  Can you?

A girlfriend of mine tried this diet where she had a list of all these different drinks she had to rotate through in a day. It was so complicated everything had to be written down to keep track, and there was a different mix or shake you had to take every hour or two. And then for dinner she could have a small salad with an ounce of chicken.  An ounce of chicken!  That’s like two bites!  But I would call her to offer support and encouragement because that’s what friends do.  She can usually make it to day three or four before she goes crazy and eats an entire pizza by herself out of desperation, and honestly, who could blame her?

healthy foodI just can’t live like that, but I know that I have to find a balance between my diet and exercise if I’m going to make this work, and I feel like if I don’t get this right, all the hard work I’ve done so far will be for nothing. I’ve recently started a new diet I found floating around Facebook.  It requires me to eat five small meals a day with a lot of protein, vegetables and whole foods only.  I’m on day four and so far I’m not starving and I don’t have the urge to kill people.  In my book, that’s a win!

PS–If it goes well, I’ll do a follow up post to share the details of the program.  🙂