Saturday, September 15, 2012

Singulair...No Magic Fix

Things have been a bit wild around here the past few days.  At least for me anyway.  I last posted on Wednesday when I was feeling down and my motivation was low.  I didn't exercise on Thursday, I just didn't feel ready for whatever reason.  But I continued to eat light and that helped lift my mood.  I also went to the doctor on Thursday and spilled my laundry list of concerns.  I'm not anemic, I had a physical back in April and they tested my iron levels - totally normal.  No reason to believe it's changed now.  She wasn't concerned about my hot flashes.  But she was very interested in my report of wheezing in the afternoons and sometimes with exercise.  After all was said and done she diagnosed asthma - either allergy or exercise induced - and prescribed Singulair (and asked me to carry an inhaler until it kicks in).  I was to take it for two weeks and then have a follow-up appointment with her.  Today was my second dose.  More on that in a bit.

Friday was my WW meeting and it really helped to get my head back in the game.  Of course seeing a weight loss on the scale that morning helped too.  It was only .6 pounds but it might as well have been 5 I was so thrilled.  I went to the gym too.  I'd planned to do a recovery week type session but when I got there I felt the need to do a normal session, as if I had to prove something to myself.  So I did the upright bike on level 8 for 25 minutes and while it was harder than it had been before, I got through it.  My last gym session was on 9/3 so I hadn't been in the gym for 11 days by that point.  Of course things will be a bit harder.  After the bike I did back/biceps/core.  I left the gym feeling like things were getting back to normal.

Normally I take today (Saturday) off but doing my long run today worked much better for our weekend schedule.  And since I've hardly exercised this week there was no reason it wouldn't work.  But I had to do my 9 mile run in the hot afternoon so I headed out to the Sausalito-Mill Valley trail for some cool bay air.  Things started out well enough, I was running in the 10:30 range and running felt really easy.  Which, considering I hadn't run in 13 days, I was super pleased.  I don't know when exactly the run got "hard" but I know by mile 7 I was counting the minutes.  And the weird thing was my heart rate, it was much higher than normal, especially considering I didn't feel like I was breathing hard or working that hard cardio-wise.  My legs were feeling very heavy though and my pace was getting slower and slower.  By the last mile I was fighting to stay under a 12 minute mile and my heart rate was in the high 160's.  Weird.

So of course I wondered if the Singulair had anything to do with it.  I came home and started to Google Singulair and weight gain.  But you know how Google offers suggestions as you type.  I got Singulair and typed out when Google suggested and weight gain.  Of course I had to check that out.  Holy Mackerel!  The first link was pages and pages of (mostly women it seemed) writing about unexplained weight gain after starting Singulair.  I read a few pages of the posts and it was enough to scare me away.  Yes, I am that bad patient that reads about scary side effects on the internet and stops a medication without consulting her doctor.  I will carry the rescue inhaler on my runs though, just in case.  The doctor did manage to put the fear of death into me on the possibility of an asthma attack, "this is exactly what we see, someone like you, fit and healthy, who has no idea of the asthma and has an attack and the results can be catastrophic."  I took catastrophic to mean death.  So sure, I'll carry the inhaler but I'm not taking that Singulair.  I'd already been down on the idea of having to take a medication for the rest of my life anyway.  And I talked to a nurse friend who gave a lot of CAM suggestions to consider.  In reading more online there are a lot of folks out there like me, who have mild asthma (if I do indeed have asthma), and don't take meds for it.  So what I hoped would be my magic solution for being tired - doc thought having lower oxygen from the wheezing could be making me tired - and what I also hoped would lead to faster run times (more air = better running, right?) isn't going to work.  I'll see the doctor in two weeks and see what she thinks about all this.  I hope she doesn't lecture me.

Alright, I have my calf compression sleeves on and I've been icing my knees.  Now I'm off to bed so I can get at least 7 hours sleep tonight.  That has to be the new bare minimum.  I can't skimp on sleep and then go to the doctor complaining about being tired, that just doesn't make sense.  Night all! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grinding to a Halt

I am doooownnn in the dumps.  I don't know if it's post bliss blues or what but I have been in a bad mood since getting back from Yosemite.  Part of it is being tired of feeling tired.  Another part is probably related to TTOTM (which started the day before the trip) and I'm sure part is related to being off my normal food/exercise routine.  I didn't go on my long run on Sunday because my body just needed rest and I was tired.  I ended up not doing anything on Monday either.  Tuesday came and I was in such a funk I just didn't care about dragging myself to the gym.  Oh, yes, and I've had an off-and-on headache since getting back.  Maybe that's about the processed food.  My head has been all over the place - am I anemic?  should I try going gluten free?  maybe just get more sleep on a consistent basis.  Who knows, all I know is I've been eating like crazy (chips, crackers, cereal, candy - you name it, I've been eating it - except fast food, things aren't that bad) and suffering from that old "I don't care" attitude.

I woke up yesterday (Tuesday) morning and weighed myself.  I'm up nearly 5 pounds from 1.5 weeks ago when I finally hit normal.  Hopefully at least some of that is lingering TTOTM weight, but I know it's not all that.  For the day it furthered my crappy mood but by the time this morning rolled around I was seeing things with a little more clarity.  What am I going to do?  Put on 10 pounds and then dig myself out of that hole?  Or am I done?  Am I going to go back to eating crap and not exercising?  No.  I need to do whatever I can today to intervene.  So I decided to eat light today for a couple of reasons, 1.,  to remind myself that I can, that I do have control when it comes to food and 2., to try and establish a bit of balance in my calorie intake this week.  So I had my normal coffee, cereal/milk for breakfast.  For lunch I had a Special K meal bar and fruit.  I had a string cheese for an afternoon snack and for dinner I had a grilled chicken breast with quinoa and a 1/2 of an avocado.  I just finished a hot cup of tea.  And my mood is a bit better.  I still don't know when I'm going to get back in the gym, maybe tomorrow.  I know when I do I will start feeling better but I also know I'm not going to apply too much force at this early point.  Now, if Monday rolls around and I still haven't exercised I will apply whatever force it takes to drag my ass into the gym.

But I am doing something, I have an appointment tomorrow with the doctor.  I'm going to ask to have my iron checked and see what else she offers up.  Oh!  Another thing I've been noticing is I have a slight wheeze in the afternoons.  It's very slight, I'm sure others can't hear it.  I thought it was related to allergies but I still have it even if I take an allergy pill.  Sometimes it gets worse when I exercise.  So I'm also wondering about some lung issues, asthma (exercise induced or not), allergy stuff or who knows what else.  So I'll be asking the doctor about this too.  One good thing is, I'm pretty sure she's not going to tell me that I'm tired all the time because I need to lose weight.  If she does, we might have a problem ;)  If you've been overweight for a long time then you know that almost every medical issue can be, at least partially, attributed to needing to lose weight.  Not this time, doc, not this time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Backpacking in the Ten Lakes Basin of Yosemite National Park

I can't remember much of what happened in the early part of last week.  All I know is I ended up missing my run on Tuesday.  I considered doing it on Wednesday but with rising at the crack of dawn on Thursday to drive to Yosemite and then backpack all day - I thought better to just skip it.  I also started my period on Wednesday.  Bad timing.  But, on to the fun!

I drove to Modesto Wednesday evening and unfortunately stayed up late. I think I finally hit the sack around midnight.  The alarm at 4:45am was a bit of a rude awakening.  But I eventually got on the road and arrived at White Wolf camp at 8am to meet the rest of the crew.  There were 7 of us women altogether.

The sign Karen posted at White Wolf so we could find one another.  No cell service in the woods!
We arranged and re-arranged our stuff until we were ready to set off.  We drove down Tioga Road a bit and parked at the trail head to the Ten Lakes Basin area.  My pack was comfortable and the weight felt manageable.  I was carrying my sleeping bag, pad and pillow, a bear canister full of food (and alcohol), clothes, my camelbak (for water and for the next days' day hike), and various other necessities.  I didn't have to carry a tent, stove or water filter because others were bringing that stuff.

Most of the trail felt relatively flat.  Looking at the elevation profile (of course I wore my Garmin!) but I didn't feel like I noticed it much...until around mile 5 when the climb got really steep.  I'd never used hiking poles before but Sarah lent me one (Thanks Sarah!) and I was amazed at how much they help.  I'm definitely getting a set for next years' venture.  Here's the map and elevation profile of our hike in.

A map of our hike into the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite.

Elevation profile of hike into the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite. (It's easier than it looks, until mile 5 that is.)
And here I am near the start of our journey.

That long sleeved shirt came off pretty quick!  Hi Erin!  Thanks for the picture Sarah :)
We passed through different surrounds, from rocky areas with not so many trees to Half Moon Meadow and then a very rocky, steep climb in classic High Sierra terrain.  Along the way we saw deer, marmots, a couple of grouse and some seriously cute chipmunks.  We also heard from ravens and other birds.  Several of the women on the trip are biologists that specialize in birds so they identified everything for us.

The view from the peak, at around 9600 feet elevation, was breathtaking.  We saw several of the lakes and just stood in awe taking in the beautiful valley.  This area has been called the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and it did not disappoint.  As for my body, my quads and glutes felt totally fine but around mile 6, during the descent, my shoulders started to seriously ache.  The pain was becoming sharp when I had to take a rest and some Advil.  After that my shoulders hurt a lot less, and I'm sure it helped that we were going downhill.  The official distance for the trail is 6.3 miles but all our side scampers added a bit and by the time we chose our camp spot I clocked us in at 7.16 miles.  Whew!  Taking off that pack felt like such a relief.

I was so pleased with how my body handled the work.  Things like this would have been completely outside of my ability in years past.  Heck, I don't know if I could have done this even last year before I started exercising again.  But today I am strong and fit and capable and look at what I can do!  People might think that "diet and exercise" is hard work, too much trouble, not worth the effort...but the payoff is huge.  I spent three days exploring pristine beauty that I would never have been able to see had I not worked to turn my body into something that could take me to these places.  It's harder to remember this when it's 9pm and I'm craving large amounts of ice cream, but trips like this make the connection so clear and strong.

We set up camp and I ended up in a tent by myself, which turned out to be quite nice.  I'm sure I slept better than I would have otherwise so for future trips it will be worth the extra 5 pounds to carry my own.  For dinner that night we had yellow curry with cashews and cheese over brown rice.  It was delicious!  Not to mention I was starving.  After dinner we stayed up next to the BEST campfire ever (thanks to Angie) drinking and laughing under a star-filled sky.  I was careful to watch my alcohol consumption though because I didn't want to wake up feeling like death.  I was a bit worried about being cold but between the campfire, the alcohol and my long johns, I was plenty warm all night.

And it's a good thing I didn't overdo the drinking because the morning was amazing!  I cozied up on a big boulder with the sun shining over the lake, a hot cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal - I could have sat there all day.  And I almost did.  The rest of the crew were prepping for a day hike but I just wanted to relax with my book so I bowed out.  But then someone said something about the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and I decided I couldn't miss out on those vistas so I hurried to get ready.

The view from my breakfast spot.
We had the most luxurious day I've experienced in ages.  We hiked to several of the lakes.  Around midday we stripped down and took a chilly dip in the cool alpine water and then sprawled out on large granite boulders to eat, read and lounge around in the sun.  It was peaceful, quiet, relaxing and perfect.

Karen and I lakeside.
I was so glad I didn't skip the hike, I got the relaxing quiet that I wanted but I also got to see more of the beautiful lakes and views.  And I got to spend the day with a really great group of women.  We were mostly in our 40's, mostly all moms, and definitely all grounded, mature, know-how-to-have-fun kind of women.  Sarah spent three weeks backpacking the John Muir trail, most of it alone!  I loved asking her questions about that trek.  I have to make this work for next year.  While it was hard not knowing how the kids were doing, and I found myself wondering about them throughout the trip, it was nice being forced to be out of touch with the world.  No email, no text, no news, no calls, nada.  Good thing I trust my husband to keep things running smooth at home.

One of the Ten Lakes.
Eventually we made our way up to one of the highest peaks in the immediate area.  The view was beyond words.  So here, take a look at the pictures :)

Love the clouds!

Dania, Angie, Sarah, Leslie, Erin, Karen and myself.

I spotted this heart naturally carved into the granite as we stepped off the peak.

Back at camp and it was night one all over again, except I indulged a tiny bit more in the drink.  We sat around another incredible fire and I begged the night sky for a shooting star, which I finally got.  I slept pretty well and had another great morning by the lake before packing up for the hike back to our cars.  This time we got the uphill part out of the way at the start and could then enjoy a leisurely trek back.  And, again, a huge sense of relief as I took off the pack for the last time. 

Karen, Leslie, Angie, Erin, Dania, Sarah and yours truly.
We decided to stop at In-n-Out before splitting up and heading home.  And good thing because I was starving!  I had a double-double with fries and a milkshake.  Needless to say, I didn't lose any weight on this trip, but who cares?  That's not what I went for.  I'll have to take a pass on this past week's weigh-in and see what next Friday looks like.  Well, that's it.  I took today off to rest up and got a lot of little jobs done around the house.  I considered doing the long run that was on schedule for yesterday, 6 miles, but in the end I just wasn't up for it.  My toes are still tender from all those hours in the boots.  But I'll get back on the training plan soon enough, I have to, that half-marathon is going to come quick!