Tuesday, December 9, 2008

There are bad days, but there are also Good Days!

I ran easy for 40 minutes today. I felt pretty good, although left hip was hurting more than the right hip (usually it's the right one that bothers me), and left ankle was showing some sharp pains occasionally. I stretched after the run just to make sure i was addressing those pain issues. I was suprised at how i didn't get exhausted by the 20th minute, because i remembered the struggle i experienced last week.

This past Saturday I ran/walked 5 miles, more like 6 including warm up and cool down, and perhaps that helped me build better endurance although I was stuggling after mile 3 with both hips and calves screaming for rest. I was very exhausted and fatigued at mile 3.5 or so, was regretting not bringing Cytomax with me (just brought plain water), but I powered through and had a long cool down, just to make the mileage. I wasn't as sore the next day, in fact i ended up standing around for 6 hours volunteering at a half-marathon event, but it was good to be out there and get some positive energy from so many runners. On Monday, however, I couldn't dare to run like I was supposed to because that was when the soreness kicked in. I took the day off and I ran today instead (so i'm skipping one bike session this week), and i think the rest yesterday helped.

I gotta look into the left hip pain and make sure that is figured out before I go out and run again. Nothing some foam rolling and icing can't fix, I hope.

Training plan for this week:
Tues: Run Easy 40 mins (not including warm up for 10 minutes and cool down for 5, for all workouts)
Wed: Power Plate / Strength training
Thurs: Run Moderate (a little faster/harder than today) 30 mins with drills afterwards
Fri: Bike Moderate 40 mins on trainer
Sat: Run/Walk 7 miles, Conversational pace (I think it's 7, but it might be 6)
Sun: Rest (will probably do pilates, core exercises, etc)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

** Some days are bad - today is that day **

What a lousy training day i had this morning.

I was supposed to run at a moderate pace (about 7-8 difficulty/exertion out of a 10 scale) for 30 minutes. I just couldn't run at that pace for any longer than 5 minutes. My legs felt heavy, my head was foggy, I was miserable. I think people driving and running by me could see the misery on my face (nearing breakout into a sob). I was feeling quite discouraged but remembered that every day is different and even the pros have days like this where their body feels like it's someone else's.

I ended up pretty much jogging for like 25 minutes, and walked 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after. Well, better than nothing. At least I got up and tried. I feel lame and yet justified all at the same time. Eh, what can I do about it. Move on.

Tomorrow is moderate bike on the trainer for 30 minutes. That should be better, because cycling is usally easier than running :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

** Patientslikeme.com Launches Fibromyalgia Community Site **


I've joined patientslikeme.com and put up my profile. The website, which has been receiving some great accolades for their existing patient communities (ALS, MS, etc), is launching a community site for fibromyalgia, based on great demand from fellow patients out there! How exciting is that - this proves so many positive things surrounding the illness, some of them being increased awareness and the growing "validity" of the illness in the medical community. This is a great website for us to share not just our personal info and experience, but treatment, medication and symptom history with others in a nice little visibly effective chart that allows you and others to track your progress. I'm still working on building my history, which I expect to show a very interesting progress chart (less medications, less treatments and less symptoms over the years!). I'm a stats/numbers geek so when I see things like this I have to admit I do get a bit too excited. Anyway, I encourage you to check it out and register!!!! My profile is http://www.patientslikeme.com/members/view/minnielee

Also, I don't know how many people are going to read this today, but there is going to be a section in CBS Evening News tonight at 630pm featuring PatientsLikeMe...check it out...you might discover a little surprise...

One last bit - I did my moderate bike for 30 minutes on the trainer this morning. I felt ok, legs are still feeling pretty heavy and slow. Right hip and back are kind of killing, but i'm stretching them out all day long. I really am working towards losing about 7-10 pounds. Losing the load off my muscles and joints would help me greatly with running long distances - right now i'm just lugging around too much for too long! Tomorrow is 5 miles, easy...long...boring...easy but not really easy training day it will be and i'm really looking forward to it!

** Winter = Post Season = Half Marathon Training **

It's been way too long since my last update. Not much to report except that I have completed my base training stage for my half-marathon training - running/walking easy and long 3 times a week, for about 2 months. I combined some cycling and yoga/pilates to break the absolute boredom that comes from running.

After the triathlon season is over (Spring, Summer) it is so easy to just fall into the trap of doing nothing and eating poorly. Well, eating poorly at times I did, but i made sure that i didn't stop exercising completely. Winter time is the best time to focus on your weakest area, which for me is the run.

My half-marathon race is on Feb 1st, Super Bowl Sunday. It will be at Huntington Beach, CA. Last year I did a 5-k at this race when i was just starting to recover from my hip injury. This year I will make a comeback by completing the half-marathon...in fact, this is where I did my first half-marathon two years ago, which led to my grueling year-long hip problem. This should be interesting.

Tomorrow's training is moderate run for 30 minutes. Then Friday moderate bike for 30 minutes. Saturday is the big 5-miler on a relatively easy pace (i will get bored, but i will think of post-run food enjoyments). Sunday is REST DAY, as it should be.

Stay strong and positive, people - i know it is hard but we just...have to at the end.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Being Grateful

I am grateful, despite feeling a little tired and achy today.

Yesterday, i had the privilege of talking to a wonderful lady in Boston, who just completed her first 5k run in July and is going for her second one this weekend. We shared our experiences in our battle against fibromyalgia and our journey to finding our health and building our strength to do things we never thought was possible. Meeting and talking to these wonderful people makes me so happy about what I do, and although i'm having rather a painful day at home, I am smiling. I know today will pass and so will the pain. I am just happy to know that somebody is reading this out there and feeling encouraged to stay active, be positive and continue fighting the good fight.

It is amazing how we can find connection among perfect strangers. To all the readers out there, I am encouraged by your words, your courage and spirit. Thank you so much for being my light in my dark days, so that I can be your light in your dark days.

Last thing to note, i did manage to go out for a quick 35minute run yesterday, and it felt awesome (although it was a bit nippy at 6am).:)

Pain is temporary. Joy in your heart is permanent.

God Bless.**

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Recovering and Taking it Easy

Just a quick update - since my race on 8/23, I have really been doing...the very thing I should be doing. Resting, sleeping, keeping my exercises to a minimum. For the first two weeks after the race, I got on the bike and span for like 45 minutes twice, went swimming once, and then focused on stretching and started some strength training again. I slept 9-10 hours when I could, especially on the weekends. I kinda splurged on some yummy food to treat myself. All in all, I feel great and I am ready to start again. This past Friday, I went on my first quick run in over two weeks - my legs felt refreshed and i could tell it was ready to train again for my next half-marathon (probably in January 2009).

My goal for the next two weeks is to continue on the moderate/easy spins and runs, and start swimming again more regularly. nothing intense, just something I can ease myself into.

Thinking ahead of my next racing season - I'm thinking Lavaman in Kona (March, Olympic distance), NYC Triathlon (July, Olympic distance), and then a half ironman in October/November (undecided which race).

It's Sunday afternoon, I'm getting some work done in the office but I thought I'd give an update real quick about my life after the big race. It's all about resting, being lazy when i want to and easing slowly back into training.

My health is just unbelievably good. I am so grateful and I can't even believe it sometimes. But i also know that i need to keep moving forward and not settle where i am right now - when I am better i often go back to my old/bad habits and get myself in trouble again, so I have to make sure that i don't lose track of my routine, while still allowing some room for myself to let go once in a while. I'm not a robot :)

Hope you are all getting better, bit by bit, day by day...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon Post Post Mortem

Now here comes the more suprising part - the morning after.

I go into each race prepared for a day long of pain that comes the next morning. There was never a time i didn't have a full day spent in bed after a long race.

Within 2 hrs after the race, I got a massage, which enabled me to walk again. I simply walked into the door limping and walked out skipping. I was still quite tired, so I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking a lot of water, eating a lot of vegetables and proteins and took a nice long nap late in the afternoon. At dinner, I had a big steak to treat myself (i was thinking to myself protein, iron and fat recovery).

Around 5am the next morning I woke up with some disturbing pain in my usual right hip and upper thigh, so I got up and got some ice to strap around the inflammed areas. After stretching a little more I fell asleep again for another couple of hours. I was sore all over, but it wasn't as bad - it just felt like I had a good work out. I was tired, but my friend who raced with me who doesn't have fibromyalgia was also tired. I was *naturally* tired.

When I finally got up around 8am to start the day, I paused. I paused to check if this was for real - this meaning feeling...ok...like any other day! My shoulders weren't burning, my ankles were sore from the race but not burning as if they were being ground by sandpaper as in my usual flare-ups. My head was clear, I was smiling. My friend Shirley was amazed too. I felt like a whole new chapter of my life was opening up. I was still in disbelief, but I wanted to make sure I sustained that feeling so I kept drinking a lot of water and drinking my protein drinks and made sure I took my vitamins.

That afternoon, we left Santa Barbara and went to the Camarillo outlet mall and spent about an hour and a half there. I even drove and I was feeling fine. Amazing!

Since then, I worked late many nights (including Sunday night when I returned from Santa Barbara), managing to sleep maybe about 5 hours a day for 3 days. I was worried that my body would breakdown. But besides being really tired yesterday, I actually did VERY well. I just lived through a miracle, i think. I cannot believe to this day how well i have been feeling since the race. But i'm LOVING it.

I thought about what could have brought about this change. Here are my thoughts:
1. I have been eating healthy consistently over the past 7-8 months.

2. I have been taking vitamins, antioxidant and omega-3 supplements religiously.

3. Before a workout (and before the race) I drank FRS to help my body recover faster post-workout.

4. After a workout (and after the race) I took extra protein in my body through shakes or bars (ProEnergy protein powder, Think Thin bars) throughout the day, to give my muscles better ability to recover.

5. I stretched religiously before and after workouts (and the race).

6. I rested as much as I could when I had the time, even it cost me my social life.

These six principles, coupled with my efforts to remain stress-free and positive no matter WHAT happens, I believe have truly helped me build the endurance and strength to recover FASTER and BETTER compared to even a year ago. It is unbelievable still, but I really do believe that consistency paid off. One day at a time...240 days later, my body turned around. If there is such a thing as *remission* in fibromyalgia, I would like to say that I am in it.

Of course all of these milestones don't come without help from others. I would like to thank the following people in my life that got me through the tough times and helped me improve my mind and body (in no specific order):

- Dr. Chyung at 3 Angels Health: my acupuncturist who cared with her heart, not just her needles. You sure are an Angel!

- Edwin at Phase IV/Forster Physical Therapy: physical therapist and trainer who got me through both physical therapy and strength training (and more training to come), who understood my passion and mission to get back into training.

- Dianna Linden, my genius, compassionate and AMAZING sports massage therapist and friend: she was instrumental in enabling my muscles to get looser and therefore stronger. it is because of her that my muscles were able to recover as fast as it did after a quick little massage post-race. It was because of her i became more aware of my body, my muscles and also my mindset.

- Shirley, my dear friend: thank you for encouraging me through every single race. Thank you for being there for me at the finish line. Thank you for being the energetic force in my life.

- Frank, my good friend: thank you for listening to my dreams and encouraging me to pursue them. I must have tired you out with all my ranting about doing this and doing that and achieving this and achieving that, etc etc...but you never got tired of it (at least you didn't show). Somehow you understood, and continue to understand. So THANK YOU.

I guess the point of it all is that... there is hope. If we try hard enough, if we keep thinking of ways to improve our days, if we just don't give up, before we know it we will find ourselves where we have always wanted to be. Please, please, if you are suffering now, please look ahead...no, SEE ahead, where you are running, happy, smiling and much less in pain much less frequently...and just keep doing the right thing. Our body reacts to what we give it, so just keep giving the good things. It will thank you back, in due time.

My heart is full of joy and my eyes are full of tears as I'm writing this, as I keep replaying the past...4-5 years of change. I just finished watching Obama's speech about his dream and the change that is in our own hands. I think about my dream and the change in my life that was hiding inside my own two hands (and for so many years I thought it was in everybody else's hands but mine!!!!). I am overwhelmed a bit at times, but thankful, and I am determined to move forward to keep proving to those who are still doubtful, to go out there and go for your first walk around the block, to sit up and stretch your arms and legs way out to loosen up those tight muscles, and to believe that your life can be better. It just HAS to be.

p.s. Ms. Anonymous who left me a beautiful note last night, THANK YOU, and keep running your race! Your races are by no means short and you know it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon Post Mortem

I don't know where to start.

Last Saturday, 8/23, I crossed the finish line of my longest triathlon race to date. 1 mile swim, 34 mile bike and 10 mile run. All I can remember really was the pain and the recurring temptation to quit during the run. And the moment of crossing the finish line - as I was greeted by several friends of mine - that made all the pain so worthwhile. The minute I hugged my friend Shirley as she welcomed me, I couldn't stop the tears from gushing out of my eyes. But i finished something i've been preparing for a long, long time. During the preparation, I faced injuries, fatigue, long work hours that kept me from training, poor training rides, poor training runs and awful training swim days... Even to the last minute leading up to the race, I had to fight my own doubts about being able to do this race.

I knew that I had to keep going. I knew that i had to commit to this race. If i didn't, everything I have been sharing with you through this blog would go in vain. I thought of those who couldn't do what I do, who suffer the pain over which they have no control, I thought of how it would make me feel to be able to finish, and the hope I may be able to share as a result.

The swim was tough. it was cold, it was murky, and my wetsuit was suffocating me (i must have grown out of it, from the muscle mass i've gained from strength training), but the moments from it have already been forgotten....the bike was hard, on a fairly hilly course (about 80% of Wildflower), but it was manageable and rather fun to tackle those hills one after another. But the run, the run....was a true test of my endurance and mental strength. I had never run 10 miles after biking 34 miles. I never ran more than 7 miles (without a preceding bike ride!) during my training run. I had no idea what to expect. The minute i started running, my back was already pinching (I had a back spasm 5 days before the race, just to add a little background story) which made me cringe every time i landed on my right foot. Miraculously, the back pain disappeared maybe 2 miles in, then the pain started to move towards the hips...usually during training it would start around mile 4. Worried that my upper quads may tighten up as they usually do during training, I ran in intervals of 8-10 mins between 1.5-2 minute walks.

I approached this run in intervals - one interval at a time. The more i thought about the entire 10 miles, I only got frustrated and even more tired. I distracted myself by saying hi to fellow runners, cheering on others, cracking jokes and just smiling. By doing so I managed to get through 7 miles. At that point, i thought, hey i can do the next 3 miles, easy. Yes, i mean, it's only 3 miles, right? Wrong. My hips started fatiguing FAST, and they were tightening up more and more every minute. At that point, my right upper thigh and hip flexor were too weak to enable my legs to move up and down/front and back. I was practically at walking pace, and my legs my hip were sinking. The sun was hot and the course was nearly emptying out. I was getting passed by many people, I was lagging even more. I nearly stopped twice wondering if i should or could continue. All i could think was quitting. But i kept going...and as the pain increased i wanted to get to that finish line so badly, and i started thinking..."why am i doing this? what in my life has driven me to be here right now?" and then i started tearing up a little. I was very frustrated and i wished that i didn't have fibromyalgia. But i also knew that it was my mission to complete this race, keep going, and cross that finish line. I wiped my tears and dragged my legs forward....then all of a sudden i heard a man shout to me "Keep those legs moving, you can do it!" His voice and words of encouragement lifted me up, firmed up my determination and kept me going. I started running again, biting my lips. I started singing, i started saying the daily prayer, repeat and repeat and repeat.....until the finish line became visible from about quarter of a mile away. I kept going, trying to go as fast as I could.

The final few sprints to the finish line...I was dizzy, I couldn't really see or hear anything. I could vaguely hear my friends shouting my name, and right before i crossed the finish line I finally saw them waving at me (they told me they were shouting and waving for a while, but i didn't even notice)...as i looked up at the clock that read 6 hours 15 minutes and 26 seconds (i think!) I was crossing the finish line. FINALLY. My first long course triathlon....my pathway to a half ironman next year!

I was in so much pain, but I was so overwhelmed with a sense of surprise and gratitude. I couldn't believe it. I'm done! I finished! I battled with my thoughts of doubt and fear, and at the end I was standing as a finisher.

Immediately I promised myself that I would train for a half ironman distance next year. I am going to do it. **

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Catching Up

It's been a while. Where do I begin?

From July 3rd to 14th, I was traveling in Spain. A dear friend of mine got married in Laguardia, Spain. I used the opportunity to travel to some of the cities I've always wanted to visit. I knew that, because of the wedding and having many of my friends fly into Spain, there would be days and nights that I would party and stay out, much more intensely than I have been doing over the past couple of years (which has been very minimal). I also knew that traveling by air over a long period of time (10+ hrs) would stiffen my back, hips and shoulder muscles.

I prepared myself as well as I could for this trip, by abiding to the following key principles:

1. Drink FRS every day to get my vitamins and antioxidants
2. Spend some time alone in certain cities where I can to get ample rest and sleep (i.e. don't be susceptible to friends' coaxing to go out and stay out all the time)
3. Run, even for 20 minutes, every other day
4. Don't stress about keeping a strict schedule - if tired, rest and go with the flow. Enjoy the trip, not create boot camp.

Despite 3-4 days of *obligatory* partying, I have to say I survived this rather long and busy trip pretty well. However, a week after I returned to LA, I caught a pretty heavy duty flu, and I was aching pretty much all week. I slept about 9 hours last night, got up and went to my power plate class and swam for a quick 25 minutes. This was my first work out in a full week, as I was not able to work out at all this week once the flu hit me. The flu subsided in a day, but the inflammation and congestion/fogginess stayed for the rest of the week.

I was quite frustrated having to deal with the pain again, but what scared me the most was the possibility of going through what i had been through in the Fall of last year, when I was in pain pretty much every day no matter what I did for myself. My mind had to fight the temptation to get discouraged. My mind had to erase the vision of me being in pain every day again. I went to work, got my work done, continued to take my vitamins, started eating healthy again (in Spain, your healthy food options are limited). I couldn't work out all week and I was pretty stressed so for a couple of nights i ended up woking up with heart palpitations and complete insomnia (haven't had that in YEARS). That ALMOST pushed me over the edge. I just had to keep strong and wait, fighting every minute the self-pity and sense of depression luring me back in to the dark.

Today, after a decent night of sleep and the workouts I managed to do this morning, I feel pretty good. I will rest up for the rest of the day, go to bed early and go for a bike ride tomorrow morning.

I have caught up, and am hopefully back on track.

Full training to start next week. Again.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My First Brick Workout in Over A Year

Can this be true? After a strenuous brick workout yesterday, I am feeling pretty decent!!

A Brick workout is where you combine two of the three legs of a triathlon, in order to condition our muscles to get used to switching from one sport to another. The most common one is the Bike to Run brick, because it is usually the hardest on your legs to make the switch from Bike to Run. Yesterday I did my first brick, risking feeling some serious level of pain this morning. I spent 90 minutes on the bike (on the trainer, so it was non-stop spinning, no coasting or stopping like you would usually do on a road ride), then changed into running gear and jogged/walked (usually 3 minute jog/1 minute walk intervals) for about 25 minutes. In the beginning of the run I actually felt pretty good, but towards the 15-20 minute mark my legs started to feel quite fatigued. I tried to sprint towards the end but at that point my heart rate was over 171, so I had to cool down. My runs are still weak, and I need to focus on that over the next couple of weeks.

After the brick, I stretched diligently for 20 minutes, iced my back, upper quads and hip, rested for a couple of hours. While I was resting I drank a carbohydrate/potassium drink, ate protein rich foods to help muscle recovery and drank a ton of water. After that I stretched again, then took a hot epsom salt bath. I was dead scared that if i didn't take all measures possible (to my limited knowledge), I would end up waking up with unbearable pain the next day. And I had a long Monday to deal with at work. Being in pain was really not an option (but of course I get myself in trouble by doing a brick for 2 hours+, setting myself up, but hey you never know until you try...).

This morning I woke up and paused. 'How am I feeling right now?' I asked myself. I was no doubt pretty stiff, but i wasn't in pain. I was so amazed and so grateful. I got up, did some back and hip stretches and then i jumped in the shower.

I feel pretty good considering - i'm a little tired, a little tight on the right quads, but I am doing really well! What a great feeling!

Recovery is just as important as the workout itself - if not more.

Well, before I make any conclusions let's see how i feel tomorrow morning. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Build Stage I Training Schedule and Thoughts on Pain After Exercise

I sat down earlier this week and came up with a schedule - I modified it today after feeling very sore after the Bike on Tuesday. High-intensity workouts, although shorter, will initially put some strain on the muscles, and that's exactly what happened. Instead of Biking, Swimming then Running back to back, I modified the schedule and included Yoga between the Bike and Swim, because this morning I felt pretty sore and fatigued. So, here's my schedule for this week (and probably next week as well):

6/9 Mon: Yoga
6/10 Tue: Bike 45 minutes (3-4 5X2 intervals (with gradual intensity buildup), 10 min hold at mid-effort, cooldown)
6/11 Wed: Yoga
6/12 Thu: Swim 1500m (200m warm up, 300 (low)/500 (mid)/200 (high) intensities, 200 drills, 100 cool down)
6/13 Fri: Run (3 miles, fast pace at high intensity), weights/strength training in the evening
6/14 Sat: Power plate strength training, Swim (1500-1700m)
6/15 Sun: Yoga, Bike (1 hr, same interval mix as Tuesday, with 15-20 min hold at mid-effort)

Fri-Sun might be a challenge, but I'll modify as I go. However, Monday is rest day so I will try to push through the weekend and enjoy the offday.

I just wanted to address one very important thing before I end today's entry - it's about PAIN, our sore subject (pun intended). I know it is daunting when we perceive some level of soreness, discomfort and pain after a workout, because we tend to think, "ok what is happening here?" The truth of the matter is, it is NORMAL to feel sore after a workout - people with decent health and strength still get pretty sore after a workout (many of the triathletes I know carry ibuprofen around at all times). For us, it will be a bit more intense - however, if you put it in perspective, that is really no reason to freak out. We need to stretch more, eat better to aid recovery of our muscles (protein, water, vitamins A,C,E - pls see my previous entries) and sleep well (don't say "but i have fibro, i can't sleep well" - take natural supplements that suit you). I don't ever NOT feel pain or soreness after a workout - in fact, I am sometimes limping and walking around with a stiff neck the next day. I do what I call active pain management - basically, I do what i can to reduce the pain and stiffness, while preventing the worst by eating right and stretching (and yoga) before and after workouts.

If it were as easy as working out in whatever way we wanted, eating whatever we wanted, and doing nothing about pre and post-workout activities, then everybody would be doing what some of us are doing. Exercising is challenging for all people at all health levels - wonder why so many people in the US are obese??? It takes work to exercise regularly and live a healthy life. It's work, but I also think it's quite fun to learn about our body and nutrition on so many levels. There is science behind all this, and we are smarter for knowing what we know - and it actually has a positive effect on our lives.

I try to abandon my fear towards pain - instead of being reactive to pain, let's take control and be proactive about managing it.

Before I close - when it comes to stretching, I think www.about.com has some very cool articles about stretching for specific purposes. I recommend searching articles for stretching the hip, quadraceps, IT band, shoulders, calves and back. Well I guess the entire body. :) I do these stretches pretty much every day, even when I don't exercise. Your muscles will LOVE you for treating them right.

God bless*

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Quick Update

It's been a while since my last blog entry. Life has been a bit hectic lately, but in a very positive way. I started a new job with more challenging work and greater responsibilities, which led me to a couple of long hours and late nights. My training plan was to start buildup stage I, after ending my base training stage at the end of May. Due to the hectic work schedule, training plans have been compromised a bit. However, instead of stressing about what I couldn't achieve in the past week, I have decided to just jump back into training and go from there.

More importantly, I just wanted to show my appreciation to those who have been reading my blogs and sending me messages and comments - most of you were all so encouraging and wonderful. I truly appreciate your honest opinions about my blog and I am very happy to hear that some of you are determined to start changing your lives. Thank you, and please let me know how you are doing!

I have been most grateful for my ability to work long hours for weeks without having a bad flareup day - granted, days haven't been easy and I could sense some level of inflammation in the mornings, but I truly have been enjoying a steady level of health. I feel that all the hard work over the past 5-6 months have been paying off. This weekend, however, I did feel exhausted and achy all around on Saturday....but not too bad that it kept me trapped in bed. Flareups are short-lived and pain is lighter. I am so grateful.

Once I get my buildup stage I training schedule figured out I will post a sample two-week schedule. I have some work cut out for me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Power Plate Releases the Hip Pain, and Training Charges Forward

I tried Power Plate for the first time at the Agoura Hills 5k event's expo. What the heck am I talking about? www.powerplate.com to check out what the equipment is all about. I was skeptical at first glance of this very strange looking machine. However, they had the machines there for people to try so since it's free I figured it couldn't hurt. The demonstrator told me to stand with my knees slightly bent, foot shoulder width apart. The machine was switched on, and it started vibrating gently yet fast. I just stood still in a half squat position, for 40 seconds. I get off the plate, and my soreness from the run/walk was zipped out of my system. I was pretty impressed with it, so I decided to go to a personal training center that offers classes using these powerplate machines. As if it was meant for me, there is a place right by work in Beverly Hills, called Blue Clay Fitness (www.blueclayfitness.com). Last week I had my first class - which lasted about 40 minutes. Exercises on the Power Plate included doing squats, push-ups, bridging, lunges, etc... and stretches. It was much harder than i thought, but something amazing happened afterwards. When I got back to the office (the classes are offered at lunch time) and after working on the desk for a couple of hours, I got up to walk around....and I realized that i was no longer feeling the tightness i usually feel on my hips when i get up. Wow, no more limping the first couple of minutes after getting up from the chair!

I'm not even going to attempt to explain how the machine works - there is so much useful information on their website, regarding the scientific reasoning behind the technology and how it relates to effective training and rehabilitation. I read a testimony from a MS patient, who started walking again after using the machine. I read a testimony from an overweight person who used the machine to benefit from weightloss and reduced sciatic pain. Obviously, there are tremendous benefits of this machine to chronic pain patients. I have done two sessions with Blue Clay Fitness, and my hips are feeling much better and I am losing the weight i gained during my low-activity months (yes, already). I was very sore after the first session, but there was no pain. After the second session, I felt great. I ran the next day and after 20 minutes of working out the tightness just by walking, I was running stronger.

I am using the Power Plate classes to round up my rehab and get me stronger and lighter all at the same time while I prep for the next stage of my training. I'm thrilled.

I've been working on my right shoulder which has been showing a lot of impingement every time I swim or do heavy weights - so i backed off from swimming and started using lighter weights to condition my shoulder muscles and tendons. A lot of icing and stretching is essential, too. But I'm back on the bike and on the street gradually increasing my time and distance. I have three to four more weeks of base training to do. By the end of base training, I aim to do 90-120 minutes of walk/run intervals and 90 minutes on the bike, at a lower heart rate zone (111-138). Hopefully I'll be back swimming by then.

In May, i'm looking forward to three run events - the inaugural NFA Walk of Fame (www.fmaware.org), Bay to Breakers in San Francisco (13k), and the Brentwood 10k. It could get a little challenging but I will once again use them as my training runs, not for personal records or anything like that.

I have been feeling GREAT. The healthy eating and the regular exercises and sleep management are paying off HUGELY. It took some time to get here, since...August last year? BUT i'm here. FINALLY. We need to keep trying, keep believing. Patience and perserverance are essential in seeing the results of our efforts.

Goals for the next few months: Lose 5-7 pounds, complete shoulder and back rehab once and for all, build endurance. Stay motivated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

5k post race report and This week's training

On Saturday April 5th, I did another 5k race in Agoura Hills. As I mentioned before, I used this race as a rehab run/walk - and boy, was it a rehab event. I was for some reason feeling pretty tight all around my left hip and legs and my body felt like a ton of bricks. I started with a very light jog, but my heart rate was going off at 140-150 bpm! So I forced myself to walk - but maybe it was the adrenaline going in a race environment, surrounded by thousands of people running/walking around me, my heart rate could not get down below 135-140 bpm. So I keep walking... walking...until I just couldn't walk anymore out of complete boredom. I started jogging, and I was pretty much at 160bpm all the way. When my hips were feeling tight, I walked for about a minute and a half. Then I picked up the pace again...repeating that cycle several times. Before long I was running my final mile, and I swear that was when my body was finally getting fully warmed up and ready to go for another 3 miles. But way too soon I hit the finish line, passing two people who were ahead of me. Rarely do I pass people in a run event. It was fun, I felt good, my left hip still as tight as a wall, but overall I was dying to run another mile or two. :)

Saturday afternoon, I went to see Dianna, and she worked pretty deep into my left hip/leg muscles. Wow, there were some tight areas around my quads and glutes! Since the body work done was pretty intense and deep, i wasn't allowed to do any strenuous workout the next day. on Sunday, I did upperbody strength training, using 3 or 5 pound weights. It was a beautiful day so I did it outside, in my back patio (as small as it is, it serves its purpose!). My right shoulder felt pretty challenged in the external rotations, which reminds me to use 2 pounds instead of 3 next time.

This week's training plan:
Mon: Rest Day (stretching in the evening)
Tue: Run/Walk for 60 mins (close to 4 miles). I was able to run up to a 5.5 minute interval, from last week's 3.5 minute. sweet. Heart rate a little better than Saturday, but still have a lot of work to do to keep that heart rate down.
Wed: Lowerbody strength training, Swim for 45 minutes
Thurs: Bike 45 minutes. Stretch extensively afterwards
Fri: Rest Day (maybe yoga, some stretching)
Sat: Run/Walk for 75 minutes, upperbody strength training
Sun: Swim Clinic (1hr), Lowerbody strength training

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Week 1 Sample Training Schedule

Today is my first rest day. After training Monday and Tuesday, I was feeling exhausted starting about 3pm yesterday. It wasn't a bad exhaustion, it was purely from working out two days in a row, where my muscles were sore (but like a good sore, not painful sore) and I could hear my body saying "ok, time for a break." This is what my week is looking like so far, with regards to training:

Mon: Bike 25 mins, Swim 35 mins
Tues: Bike 25 mins, Yoga 50 mins
Wed: Rest Day
Thurs: Strength Training (probably about an hour), Swim 40-45 mins
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 5k run/walk (will use this event as training run)
Sun: Swim 60 mins (that is the goal, but it could be 45- 50 mins)

Next week I'm going to add another strength training session somewhere, and try to see if i can bike for more than 30 minutes on the trainer without any back/hip pain. On the days i'm doing Yoga or strength training, I am trying to add a bit of cardio via swimming. I've deliberatly chosen Friday as rest day this week because I wanted to make sure I make it to the 5k event on Saturday. In the future rest days may be on Mondays and Thursdays, especially as I start riding long rides in the weekends. Once I get the hang of what my body can handle, I'll sit down with a trainer and actually have a full schedule I can keep for the next 4-5 months leading up to the Santa Barbara Long Course event. Just the thought of it is very very exciting.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Race Goal: Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon. 1 mile swim, 34 mile bike, 10 mile run.

For the next 10 weeks, I will be in base training mode. I will be building distance and duration in my training, keeping my heart rate at aerobic level (111-138). I know that during the first couple of weeks of this stage I will be walking more than running, because I know that my run heart rate is pathetically high (155+!). Hopefully by the end of this stage I will be able to at least jog for a prolonged amount of time within the suggested heart rate zone.

So, yesterday after my little *tantrum,* I stretched, did some upper body strength work, and rested. I just didn't have the strength to go swimming for some reason. I ate well, I iced my hips and shoulders and just rested, did some stuff around my condo, etc...just took it easy.

This morning, I tested my heavy legs on the bike for 25 minutes. I did it because I wanted to see how i felt after getting my bike refitted. I didn't wear my bike shoes with the clips because I wanted to relieve the extra load it puts on my glutes during my upstrokes (or uppedal?), as suggested by Dianna. I just put on my running shoes instead and started spinning as I examined my setup on the bike. NOT BAD. I stretched afterwards and went to work. The next couple of workouts on the bike will be short and easy, maybe increasing the time by 5 minute increments every time... I need to condition my body to get reacclamated to the bike, slowly and steadily, instead of shocking the heck out of it by getting right back on to a 2-hr ride with rolling hills. Ugh, what a disgraceful failure that was. Almost humorous.

At 1230pm, I snuck out of my office and went for that swim I skipped yesterday. It was the perfect timing though, since I biked this morning. :) Maybe i was still tired or something, I felt slow and my strokes were not so well coordinated, in my opinion (instead of gliding through the water, I was pretty bumpy). Oh heck, I mixed in some breast strokes and back strokes so that I wouldn't over load my right shoulder with forward motion (right shoulder still quite vulnerable, with frequent jamming in the rotator cuffs, which causes me to squeal underwater). I think I swam for about 35 minutes. Went crazy in the shower to get back to the office on time before anybody started placing a missing person search on me. Right now, my hip feels looser after that swim and I feel like I've accomplished something.

Last week I skimped on lower-body strength training. So this week I'm going to have to get back into that.

I have a 5k race on Saturday (4/5), which I will try to use as training run, staying in my aerobic heart rate zone...so i guess it will be a training "walk." The event is called The Great Race of Agoura Hills, and it is said to have the "Best Post Race Party," voted by racers. Extra motivation always helps.

I haven't really figured out a regular training schedule yet, because I am still working on the right mix of swim/bike/run and strength training, yoga and OFF days. I am thinking of using a 2-week period instead of the usual 1-week period to jam everything in, only because I know i can't squeeze in two workouts/day, let alone daily workouts, like normal healthy people would do. Once I get the hang of that I will try to come up with a weekly schedule. I'll post a sample schedule in the next week or two.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

** Feel Like Giving Up, but that would be Stupid **

Yesterday, I went to my genius sports massage therapist Dianna and got some heavy work done on my shoulders and lower back. Usually, after getting deep tissue work done for a good day or two I'm not supposed to do any heavy lifting or training - even if you wanted to, you would be so sore from the body work there would be no way you could do much of that. This morning, i mean right now, whew~ I am sore. My right shoulder is KILLING me. The spot on the shoulder that overlaps with a trigger point is tight and is aching to the touch. A double-whammy, so to speak.

I am supposed to stretch, I am supposed to pick myself up and go to the pool for some easy swimming to flush the toxins out. I know I'm going to. But right now, to be bluntly honest I really don't feel like moving or doing anything. ANYTHING. Months of this stuff - treatment, pain, recovery, more pain, more recovery....is making me tired. I don't know how much longer i have to deal with this, and man, it is just enough for me for now, so i think.

BUT of course i know this is temporary. Months seem long, but in the grand scheme of things it is quite temporary. Over the past 4-5 months, my lack of training volume has caused me to put on some extra pounds. Now with these extra pounds i am starting to run and bike all over again. Let me tell you people - the extra weight does not help, not only when it comes to training, but in day to day living, especially for people with fibromylagia, arthritis or any other chronic pain illnesses. If you think about it, extra weight puts extra pressure on our trigger points and joints. It will take us that much more effort to move around - and would we want to do that on already weak, tired and vulnerable muscles? That's why exercising and eating healthy is important. I read in many articles about the high percentage of overweight patients who have chronic pain illnesses. I know it is almost a double-edged sword - it's hard to move around cuz you are in pain, but if you don't do anything you will be in more pain due to weight gain. And of course the heavier you get, the less likely you will be moving around any time soon. But at least if you can't move around you can eat healthy - lots of veggies and fruits, lean protein (fish, chicken), and add a lot antioxidants and vitamins in your diet to fight inflammation and strengthen your immune system. Then you might have some energy and decreased pain levels to go out for a walk. Then you might stop feeling so upset and unpleasant about being in so much pain - and overweight. Then you might start living a little. Maybe smile a little too. We must stop just complaining and blaming it on Fibromyalgia, and be logical, scientific and smart about our approaches in dealing with our pain. That is the only way to live day to day with this thing. It is extra work, and boy do I know that. And yes, today is the day I am about to just drop it all and go stay in my bed all day long. But I know, if i do so I will be defeating myself. What's worse, I will be feeling so bad about myself later today. I am not going to enter that vicious cycle. I just read a piece of information on Runners magazine: "For every two-pound gain in weight, the risk of developing arthritis increase nine to 13%." I bet that for FM patients, the risk multiplies.

I've got a heating pad wrapped around my neck and shoulders as I'm writing this. My entire back feels like I'm laying on a bed of needles. It sucks. It really does - but I also know that I can do some stretches, maybe get a hot bath with epsom salt, rest a little, have a good brunch and take myself to the pool to move around a little. And then I know I will be feeling a lot better - not perfect, but better. Sometimes I wonder, geez why do I have to push myself every day, how did i end up with the responsibility to go the extra mile every single day when others take their every day health for granted... But whatever, this is my reality. I have brought myself up this far over the years, and I didn't just come up with this. It was hard work and it is going to be hard work.

Once I push through this tough time of re-buildup, i will be fine. I am going to drop the weight, I will be fully recovered from my injuries, and I am going to be training full-capacity. I see that future, maybe a little far away than what i had hoped for, but the future is there. I must be patient, consistent and brave. To all of you reading this, I hope you stay on your fight. I hope that you beat the temptation to give up and be sad - and pick yourself up. Not many people know what we go through - but who cares about what other people think, we just have to fight our own battles, and encourage each other as we go through it. Nobody knows, but I know, you know and God knows. This debilitating illness has become the one thing that enables me to do all these positive and healthy things. I know I can turn this bad thing into good, and that's why I'm writing this blog as I'm treating, training and persevering. That is the true path to being a winner - we are not born winners, we are trained to be.

God bless you all, and I hope you are smiling, despite the tears.

** on a totally random note, Nike's Triax running shoes beat Asics, based on my 3-month testing (of course, this is very subjective). Finally, I found a pair of Nike shoes that provides the stability and support I need for my running! Thank you, the gentleman at Nike at the Grove, who endured my thousands of questions and nit-picking, and had me run around in over 5 pairs of shoes to find me the perfect one! **

Monday, March 24, 2008

** Yes, there is a Fine Line... **

This morning before work, I got up and got on the bike to do an easy spin for about 45 minutes. My ego was so shot from Saturday's slow and sluggish ride that I thought i'd recover by adding some more time to my ride. Well, I think i was humbled even further this morning instead - I was fatigued, way fatigued to do anything. I started spinning, and the pedals felt so heavy. My cadence (revolution of the pedals/minute) was barely reaching 76 (i try to keep at mid-80's), my heart rate was exceptionally low but my energy could not be mustered up to bring it up to a healthy aerobic level (around 120bps). I was really struggling.

What am I trying to say here? I learned that there is a very fine line between fatigue and feeling tired. I suppose *fatigue* is when your body cannot be energized by exercise or stretching, and just being tired is a condition you can recover from by exercising or doing something active (even stretching). Sometimes it's hard to tell. The only way you'll know is by trying. After about 20 minutes of forced, miserable spinning on the bike, I got off and just rested while icing my hips. My body was fatigued from a sudden spike in activity - 2 hr bike ride on Saturday, and then yoga on Sunday. The longest aerobic activity i've done in the last 3 months barely lasted an hour.

Today, i was planning on swimming this evening after work. Although I would love to do as planned, my earlier incident tells me maybe my body needs a break. I am going to humble myself and listen to my body. It is a difficult admission to make. I hate not doing what i planned on doing. However, I am hopeful that if i rest tonight, I will have a couple of healthy weeks ahead, instead of a possible breakdown tomorrow. I realize that this is a life-long battle (hopefully not), so i have to be wise about it.

I want to make sure that i communicate to everyone (and to myself) that it is not always wise to just go for it when you feel less than optimal. Some of my previous entries talk about how just trying Yoga made me feel 10 times better than before - here, trying spinning made me feel 10 times worse. Instead of pushing it, i stopped and rested. We can try when we're iffy about our conditions - but ultimately, we have to listen to our body. There is a very fine line, and the only way to find that line is by ... stepping on it a little and pay attention to how we feel, maybe?

And i know that many FM patients such as myself are type-A personalities, so we hate giving up or stopping what we started. We also dislike admitting defeat or admit that we can't do something. BUT one thing i am learning through my battle with fibromyalgia is the discretion to say no when I have to, the patience to wait and prepare for the next upturn, and the wisdom to stop and think. It's still a working progress, but it's progress...

Hey, what can I say, i'm living on the edge, walking on a thin line.... :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

** Two 5k Runs, First Outdoor Bike Ride, and Strength Training **

Finally, I have a moment to sit down and catch up...

It has been a very busy last several months - work has been non-stop, and it has been challenging for me to maintain my health while juggling work, physical therapy and training. So far, I can't complain. Here are some of the things I've been doing regularly, which I believe have helped me maintain a relatively steady state:

1. Vitamins - i've been taking multivitamins almost every day.
2. Fruit/Antioxidant shake for breakfast: This is a new thing i've been implementing. For the past month or so, I have been making healthy shakes for breakfast - it contains 1 cup of blackberry (i'm allergic to blueberries), 1 cup of milk, a banana, and two scoops of Omega Mix (http://www.energyfirst.com/Omega-Mix-Blend-ground-raw-seed) and a scoop of Greenergy (http://www.energyfirst.com/). After yoga or a workout in the morning, there is nothing better than this shake that recharges me with carbohydrates and antioxidants. As many of you know, Omega 3 is a key anti-inflammatory nutrient. This shake tastes great and does great things for me.
3. Sleeping aid: Pharmanex's Night Time Formula and Energyfirst's Sleep Aid (http://www.energyfirst.com/Sleep-Aid) have both been helpful.

4. Yoga and Swimming: on days when my muscles feel tight and stiff, either one of these is what i do, no questions asked. Before, I used to choose to do nothing and just lie down when my muscles felt weak and stiff - i learned that doing Yoga for about 45 minutes really helps release whatever i have been holding in my muscles, a far wiser choice than just lying down. Swimming has been great for my rehab, and helped me facilitate my hip recovery.

On Feb 3 (super bowl sunday) and Feb 23, I run/walked a 5k event. I could only do run/walk intervals, but i still felt great after finishing a race. The good news is that these 5k events didn't set me back at all - my hip was tight and i felt fatigue in some areas, but I recovered quickly and I wasn't hurting at all! I have to thank Dianna Linden, my super sports massage therapist (http://www.diannalinden.com/), who has not only been getting rid of the kinks in my stubborn, tired muscles, but also been amazingly helpful in guiding me through an active recovery process. All I had to do was adhere to her guidance as to what to do and what NOT to do while still training. Thanks to her, I am officially off physical therapy, and I am kicking off my official training season. Thank you Dianna!

I am still stretching and icing EVERY DAY. I have made it a point to stretch every morning when i get up, even when I am not training. I have learned that my muscles take more to recover from a workout, my muscles need more care than others - if you are a fibromyalgia patient and exercising regularly, i highly recommend active stretching. Yes, ACTIVE, proactive stretching. Stretch before and after a workout. Stretch when you are watching TV. Stretch when you are not doing anything.

So...I have just started my full-season strength training program with Phase IV (http://www.phase-iv.net/). I guess i can say that i have replaced physical therapy with strength training sessions - always something new to do! Seriously, years of running and cycling have used up my muscles, and little did i know that I needed to do enough strength training to replenish my muscle losses. I was just piling up mileage on weakening muscles! Having learned my lesson the hard way, I have committed to learning how to do adequate strength training to get me prepared for longer runs and rides. I will have more updates on this over the next month or two.

Last update but not least, I finally was able to go on my first outdoor bike ride today - the first in MONTHS since the 2nd coming of my hip injury in November. It was only 20 miles, at a very humbling 13mile/hr average. My back was a bit challenged and I was hurting here and there, but overall i survived it and I stretched like crazy and iced afterwards. I hope to get up to 17-18 mph on flats in the next two months, without compromising the heart rate (stay at 120-130 bpm). I have a lot of work cut out for me, i know. It is a bit discouraging to see myself spinning so slowly even at my best, but I am just starting to build up again so I have to just get through this. I have the next 12 weeks to just be patient and keep going, building a strong base.

There is a lot going on, and there is a lot i need to focus on. The main focus is to maintain consistent and patient. I appreciate every small improvement on a day to day basis - however, i do have days when i feel so small and slow and pathetic, just struggling not to stay bed-ridden. At the end, we all have to keep going forward. I have many people that encourage me to keep going - so thank you! Your emails have been such a HUGE motivation for me.

OH I almost forgot - please check out http://www.aztrail4fms.org/ for more inspiration - this woman, Sirena, is embarking on an amazingly courageous journey. You MUST read it to find out! I am so inspired by her courage and determination, and I am hoping to join her in one of her hikes. :) Please give her your support!!!!

I promise not to take so long to give the next update... hope everyone is doing well.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Does Anyone Go Through This?

This week has been tough for me - very busy at work with deadlines everywhere, feeling a bit tired from last week's swimming/walking exertions and not being able to sleep as well as i used to when I was on the amitryptalin. I have been out of Fibronol for a week because it has been taking forever for them to ship it (quite disappointing) so my sleep has been quite out of whack.

My shoulders and neck have been hurting a lot from the swim and the lack of quality sleep, so I took a break from swimming. I took a 35 minute brisk walk Tuesday morning, worked non-stop, to feel heavy and beat-down over the past couple of mornings. Last night I was so tired I couldn't even taste what i was eating for dinner. I went to bed pretty early (10p?) after taking one pill of Sleepy Time (from pharmanex) risking feeling groggy the next morning because i really really needed sleep. 6am my eyes open and my shoulders, arms and ankles are aching. However, thanks to the sleeping aid my neck wasn't as stiff (which means i was able to get some quality sleep). I knew that swimming was again not going to happen because of the aches, but something in my heart told me to get up and do something. I had no idea what that *something* was supposed to be. Do my usual stretches? Strength training? Not feeling either.

As i was standing around in my living room, the cover case of the Yoga for Athletes DVD caught my eye. I didn't think i would have the strength for certain Yoga poses, but I turned it on anyway and just let my body figure it out.

During my first forward bend and neck stretches, I felt my left side hurting as i turned that direction - i'm thinking "ugh, here we go, the swim has tightened my neck again". After several plank and downward dog poses later I'm feeling a bit stronger, I was happy to see how my right hip held up on the warrior poses (Thank you, Dianna, my amazing sports massage therapist!)...and then about 30 minutes in during another forward bend/neck stretch, i saw that the kink on my left neck was gone. My ankles were not aching anymore. I did feel a little faint in one of the last two sun salutation routines, where i just rested instead, but overall my aches were washed off and the kinks were gone.

How interesting. Perhaps my body, feeling stiff after the swimming, walks, and strength training, needed some flushing out of the toxins in our muscles. Yoga does that for us. Of course without the quality sleep I got helped from Sleepy Time (or any good quality natural sleeping aid) i wouldn't have had the strength to even get up. Last night my legs were swollen from poor circulation and they felt like a ton of bricks. This morning I am walking as if i'm flying on wings.

I just thought that it was really interesting to get up in the morning feeling completely lost - and then now i'm feeling like a brand new person. Just because I thought i'd just get up and do something and the yoga DVD was calling out my name, and I obeyed.

Sometimes we just gotta get moving to see how our body responds, I guess.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Swimming, Swimming and Swimming

My hip/back is still suffering from weakness and severe tightness and i'm tired of it and I will end it soon. I've started working with an amazing massage therapist who is knowledgable in physical therapy and sports injuries as well. She treated me for a whopping 2.5 hours last week (that's how bad perhaps my conditions are, little did i know) and we got maybe 1/4 of the problem solved. However, i feel so much better on my right hip that now my left hip feels relatively tighter. She is exactly what my long-injured, tired and weakened muscles needed. Needless to say, i'm going back to her soon.

The slightly ramped up training with the run/walks and longer spinning caused my hip muscles to tighten up again and caused a lot of pain. I was basically repeating the vicious cycle of improvement, setback, improvement, then setback... So lately i've shifted my focus on to swimming, which is my only choice as of now. So here's my sample schedule of the week:

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: Brisk walk, 20 minutes. Strength training
Wednesday: Brisk walk (20 minutes), Swim (25-30 minutes)
Thursday: Stretching, Strength training
Friday: Brisk walk (20 minutes), Swim (30-35 minutes)
Saturday: Yoga
Sunday: Brisk walk (20 minutes), Swim 45 minutes
**stretch always before and after, and icing after workouts!**

Next week after my second massage/muscle scuplting treatment, I am hopeful I will be able to start getting on the bike again.

**Back to Basics - Dropping the Amitryptalin**


About two weeks ago I stopped taking the Amitryptalin I was once raving about. Although I do miss the less painful and stiff mornings I enjoyed for a short period of time while i was taking the medication, I know that I have made the right decision to keep all my treatments natural.

I had heard that Amitryptalin makes you gain weight. I thought to myself when i heard it, that I'd be able to counteract that side effect because i exercise all the time. Wrong. Here's why: In a week or so after i started taking the drug, I recall starting to crave sugar and carbohydrates - i do love desserts here and there but my craving for carbs in this case was uncontrollable. It was right around Thanksgiving that I realized that i wasn't able to curb the craving - usually i don't even feel the urge to have carbs/sweets, and when i did a little taste of it would do. Not this time - it was uncontrollable in both frequency and volume.

Over the past couple of months, I felt myself becoming heavier and also prone to more pain, thanks to the sugar. I was feeling lethargic and just not the same anymore. I didn't think immediately that it was the Amitryptalin... but I started narrowing things down, comparing what i'm doing different now vs. before, and the only variable that has changed recently was the drug. So I experimented for a week - taking the drug, and then the next week - not taking the drug. A conclusion was made. Although the benefits of sleep and less pain in the mornings were great, it did not outweigh the drawbacks of an uncontrollably unhealthy diet and related physical (and even psychological) symptoms.

I think my system is finally clearing out the effects of the drug - I am craving less sugar and I am feeling so much more upbeat and focused. I'm back to my low-carb diet (I have always kept a low carb diet, since the 90's) and eating healthy again. I've got some extra pounds to lose, but that's just a matter of time.

So what about sleep without the drug? What about the pain? Here are my recent additions to my regime.

1. Fibronol and Fibroboost (www.fibronol.com) - helps with the sleep and therefore the morning stiffness (not as powerful as Amitryptalin) - and Fibroboost gives me extra energy during my training.
2. Greenergy (www.energyfirst.com) is back - i stopped taking this for about 4-5 months and tried Monavie, which is also an antioxidant supplement. Monavie has worked wonders for some people. Greenergy just works better for me and helps me more when it comes to digestion and metabolism.

Every morning before my training I drink FRS (all the benefits of antioxidants, with a kick of caffeine). Throughout the day I make my Greenergy drink (twice to three times) and take Fibronol (two pills, three times a day). Back to my past/normal routine. I'd take the bit of the morning stiffness (which i deal with by stretching every morning now) over all the other sugar-related lethargy and inflammation. Case closed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I have more updates to write, but I just finished reading this article about Lyrica and Fibromyalgia in the NY Times.
All I want to say is that, if anybody thinks this illness is not real, read my blog and tell me how a *fake* condition could so often stop a healthy-living person from going to work and doing things as menial as running errands and walking down the stairs. And I know i speak for many patients out there that spend every waking moment of their lives planning healthy eating, exercising, resting and remaining positive despite the challenges we face. If they were fake, a simple declaration of "I'm not sick" would do.
I just have to laugh at those who look at this condition with arrogance and ignorance.
If anything, I thank God for allowing me to share the bad and good experiences with my fellow patients through giving me an illness as complicated as fibromyalgia. Today I am writing with more conviction in my heart that this (racing, training and raising fibromyalgia awareness) is what i was born and raised to do.
Fight on everyone! Keep up the good work, and may God bless you all. More physical therapy/training updates to come.