My Fitness Pals: Taking All The Help I Can Get

By Tanya

The past ten months have been quite a challenge for me in regard to my fitness. For the past year-and-a-half I have struggled with some on-and-off lingering pains and injuries. These pains have now become chronic, occurring daily with or without exercising.  As a result I've been forced to alter and limit my physical activities and completely stop running.

I have sought out numerous body work specialists including physical therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists. I have spent countless hours trying to self diagnose over the Internet, coming up with a million different possible causes and treatments. I have taken breaks from any and all physical activity to allow myself to heal.  Unfortunately as soon as I start exercising again, even taking it easy, the pain comes right back.

For the most part, I have maintained a positive attitude.  I've gotten creative and found any type of physical activities I can do to keep my body moving. I have taken up swimming and the elliptical has been my best friend through the winter. Through all this I have been pleasantly surprised to find how motivated I am to get any type of physical activity into my day. I guess when something is taken away, it makes you value it even more.

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to do whatever is necessary to figure this thing out. With great sadness I did not sign up for any races.  I also committed to not run at all until I can do it pain free.  I continued with consistent physical therapy and visits to a chiropractor.  I also started getting weekly massage.  But all of this combined was not enough.  I continued to have pain daily! My massage therapist put a name to the extremely tight muscle I've been battling: Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL). Armed with new information, I began searching the Internet for causes and treatments.

From Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers.

The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. There are so many opposing theories, opinions and techniques out there that it is hard to decipher the ones that are true and/or will work for me. The theory that best agreed with all the input I received from the various specialists I have seen came from a personal trainer out of Escondido, California, named Brian Reddy. It just so happened that I had a trip planned to southern California, so I contacted Brian and asked if he would be willing to meet with me.

During our meeting Brian took my physical activity vs. pain history and assessed my strengths and weaknesses. He even took videos of me performing certain exercises to show me where my weakness and tightness are. Brian theorized that my pain is stemming from an overall movement vs. posture issue, evolving from the way I am built and exacerbated by the way I sleep, stand, walk and sit. These problems are more common in women with wider hips and are related to the feminine way women sit, with knees in and legs crossed.  The end goal is to improve the muscle imbalances by retraining myself to perform daily living activities in a correctly postured and cohesive manner.

Brian showed me the correct posture for these activities and explained that I needed to constantly be aware of how my body is positioned during my everyday activities. He also said that doing any strenuous exercise would be out of the question until my body was moving in correct posture. When translated practically, it meant the only exercise I was allowed to do was walking (but not on the treadmill) and swimming, even though he really would prefer I avoid it.

I have to be honest and say at first this really freaked me out! Working out three times per week at the gym along with two days of swimming had become my routine. It was my stress relief and the way I kept my weight at a relatively consistent place. Without my morning calorie-burning session I feared that I would pack on the pounds and go crazy!  I shared my fears with Brian and he reassured me that even if I do gain a little weight now, the long term goal of a pain-free life is worth it. Not to mention the weight would certainly come off once I resumed my active lifestyle. I conceded and committed to try the "B Reddy" method.

My fears however did not recede, and I shared them with my Sole Sisters when I returned from my trip. Carissa suggested that I try the my fittness pal app that she used to keep track of her calorie intake while she was injured with limited physical activity. My initial reaction to her suggestion was a firm "No way!

Earlier in this process friends and specialists had suggested I try an elimination diet to see if my pain was being caused by a dietary intolerance. I came up with a million excuses not to try this. I am already conscious about what I put into my body, but counting calories or going on an all juice diet sounded too restrictive. Truthfully, even though I eat relatively healthy, I like to eat what I like, when I like. In addition to being miserable from not working out I envisioned myself being even more miserable as I would be "forced to starve myself."

When I left our meeting I took a long hard look at my strong adverse reactions.  I came to the realization that I did not like how much power I have given food to control my happiness. To me, this constitutes both an addiction and an idol. A convicting line from the movie Forks Over Knives kept ringing out in my mind, "Instead of eating to live, I was living to eat."  Confronted with that realization I decided to face my fears head-on and enlist the help of  my fitness pal.

To my amazement the app itself is quite easy to use. Many food items are pre-calculated in the database and a built-in bar code scanner makes for easy adding of most store-bought items. I was pleasantly surprised, but a little skeptical, when it calculated my daily calorie intake to maintain my current weight. I was allotted 1980 calories per day, with even a bit more if I performed some type of physical activity. 

I believe in the weight maintenance theory of calories in vs. calories out, but the fact that everyone burns calories differently based on their metabolism must also be taken into account. The app does not account for this. I also believe that a person's health is highly dependent on the quality of foods they consume. I must say, it was a bit of an eye opener the first couple of days to find how many calories are in my everyday healthy foods. However I found that if I ate consciously every day without making excessively unhealthy choices, it was relatively easy to stay within my calorie goal without feeling starved or deprived. I don't even mind the work of entering what I am eating into the app because I find it interesting to see the total calories and the nutritional breakdown that the app provides, even when I enter my own recipes.  How cool is that?!

Will all of this finally be the straw that fixed the camel's back? Who knows. I feel good that I am doing all I can to heal completely. Learning new things in the process is an added bonus. If  nothing else, this experience has served as a reminder to me that every choice I make has consequences. I want to be more conscious and intentional with the choices I make, not just with the food I eat but in the broader spectrum of life too. One of the best choices I've found is to always have fitness pals of all types around for encouragement, support, and accountability.

What about you?  Have you battled constant injury or dietary restrictions?  How have you handled it?

1 comment:

  1. Yes we should do regular physical activity to get fitness and rid any kind of body pain. I also do exercise daily and I have a fit and smart body.