Saturday, 12 January 2013

Psychiatrist, protein and progress, oh my!

So it's a New Year, and despite all of my hoping and wishing, my seizures still exist. I'll admit that there was a small part of me that was wondering if maybe when the clock struck midnight I'd be magically cured and wouldn't have to think about my seizures anymore, but alas no.

One thing that has happened is I seem to have reached a point where my recovery time after each seizure has dramatically reduced, which is making living something vaguely resembling a normal life a little bit easier. I mean, it's nowhere near what I'd like, but it's certainly getting a lot better.

And I can't help but wonder if this is, at least in part, due to the fact that I've ramped up the amount of protein I'm eating. I've never been a big protein eater - partially because I've never craved it and also because I was a lazy vegetarian/vegan. But these days, if I don't have protein forming a significant part of lunch and dinner, I'm a) famished and b)far more likely to have a seizure. And by protein, I mean meat. I've never craved meat in the way that I do these days and sadly my health is a bigger priority than my ethical standpoint. I'm sure I'll flip back to being most vegetarian someday, but if eating meat is making me healthier, I'm a happy girl.

My seizures have been fluctuating between small and annoying and large and terrifying recently - the dissociative side has certainly got worse, which isn't particularly enjoyable. Dissociation is sort of like a trance state - it's where my brain chooses to disconnect from reality and emotion and moves into what it thinks is a safe space. It's something that we all do on a daily basis to some extent - like when we autopilot our way home or when we don't hear someone calling our name because we're so immersed in a book. I went to see a psychiatrist the other day and she described it as my brain thinking it's being really helpful and protecting me, but being about as good at it as a 3 year old.

Which is where the progress comes in - I went for a psychiatric assessment the other day. I was terrified about it, but it turned out to be far less scary and far more helpful than I could ever had hoped. My Psychiatrist (Dr Fairley) seems to actually understand what's happening in my brain, which is a first. She talked about things in the same way as I do and didn't push me too hard. I'm hopefully going to be starting therapy (a hazy mix of psychotherapy and CBT with some other methods thrown in as and when) in a couple of months, which is incredible news. I've been left for so long with no help at all, that just knowing someone is going to be doing something is a massive relief.

Obviously, I know therapy isn't a quick fix. I'm potentially looking at something around a year before I'm "better" and even then, there's a possibility that I might not fully get over seizures, but I'm strong and determined and planning on working as hard as I possibly can to kick this shit.

For now though it's much of the same - trying to work out strategies to make seizures less draining for me and the people who look after me and trying to find ways of living as much of a normal life as possible. And filling all the time in between with adventures and meditation and grounding techniques and yoga and lifting weights. Generally, remembering to be the super strong badass that I know I am.
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Friday, 11 January 2013

New Balance Minimus Barefoot Trainer Review

A new workout regime is clearly an excuse for a bit of new workout kit right? In my case, it meant a new pair of workout trainers.

New Rules of Shoes for Lifting

I love my running shoes (I run in an awesome pink and dark grey pair of New Balance 760s, which have sadly been discontinued), but they're not right for a weight training based exercise regime. Firstly, because running shoes, in my eyes, should be used for running and running only - they don't need to get bent out of shape with heavy weights and things like that. Also, when weight lifting you want your heels to be firmly grounded to the floor - this gives you a better centre of gravity and for me, helps me to feel more connected and stable. Ideally, this means you're looking for a shoe with a pretty flat sole and not very much in the way of cushioning and support (which my running shoes have an abundance of, as I'm a heel-striking, over-prontating, weak ankled mess).

New Balance Minimus Trail Shoe

I spent a lot of time drooling over Cross-fit blogs and finally decided on the New Balance Minimus 10 Trail - it has a 4mm drop (which means it's got a teeny tiny bit of a heel) and a fierce vibram sole to give excellent grip. The shoe itself is incredibly lightweight, which is another bonus - I don't want to be carting around a really heavy gym bag as my job involves me doing a lot of walking and I don't have an office to store my things in. It's made of a breathable, minimalist upper, which is treated with ACTEVA+ - an antimicrobial treatment that reduces odor, so hopefully they'll stay smelling fresh too!

They truly are things of beauty and come in a wide range of colour combinations. Another great thing about New Balance is that they make half sizes - I went for a 7.5 and it's a perfect fit. 

I picked up mine from Amazon pretty cheap - it's worth searching around to work out which colour combination you fancy as that, and your size, can affect how much you pay. I recommend the trail version because the Vibram sole is an excellent addition for weight lifting, but there's also a running version and a 0mm version of both the running and trail shoe if you're so inclined.

Do you have different shoes for different work out?
What do you think about barefoot shoes? Have you ever tried them?
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Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Rules of Lifting for Women: The Beginning

If you read my last post, you'll know that one of my aims for this year is to get stronger emotionally, mentally and physically - the impact of spending the best part of a year having a lot of my life dictated by seizures is that I'm feeling a lot weaker than I want to in all of those areas, especially physically. I miss the feeling of my body being strong and fierce, so I decided to take action.

For various reasons, cardio based activity isn't really my best option at the moment so long runs and bike rides are out of the question. And if I'm honest, I've always been more of a fan of strength training than cardio anyway... give me weights and yoga over running any day!


I've ummed and ahhed over the New Rules of Lifting for Women for ages, but took the plunge and bought it some time before Christmas. My review? I fell in love and devoured the whole book in a couple of days - it's very down to earth and easy to read, with lots of excellent advice, information and myth busting. I've always been a firm believer that the weight room isn't just for male-bodied muscle-bound grunters, so it wasn't the revelatory experience that I'm sure it might be for some people, but it's definitely been a push towards using weights I'd been scared of before (barbells) and having the confidence to really feel like it's ok to be in the weight room.

I adore the workouts too - there's 7 stages, all of varying lengths and intensities, with the aim being to increase your weights as you move through the stages and to really challenge yourself to lift "like a man" (a phrase which, of course, I hate but I completely understand - this is the first time I've seen female-bodied people encouraged to lift in the same way as male-bodied and to not stick to low weights). There's no suggestion of what weight you start with, which is both frustrating and entirely the right thing. I've had to start out very, very low - lower than I've wanted to - because I'm in the process of helping my body to heal, and every person using these workouts will be different.

The Before Pictures

And now, as is obligatory in all "starting a new workout regime" posts, here's some moderately embarrassing pictures of me in my underwear. This is actually a couple of weeks ago, before I started the programme. I didn't take measurements then, but I'll pop in my current measurements as of today as I've been working out sporadically and with low weights, so I don't think they'll be that different yet. Ignore the dodgy lighting/odd (miserable) facial expression/mess.

Beginning measurements:   10/01/13

Chest:                  35.5in  
Left Bicep:          10in
Right Bicep:       10in
Waist:                 29in
Hips:                   35.5in
Left Thigh:         21in
Right Thigh:      21in
(For reference, I'm 5'7"/170cm and weight 60kg)

I feel it's important to point out one final thing here as well - my goal for following the NROLFW isn't to lose weight. It's to be as strong and badass as I possibly can be and to have a more toned, more powerful body. A friend sent me this yesterday, which sums up my thoughts exactly:

Have any of you tried the New Rules of Lifting for Women? How did you find it?
What's your current work out routine? Are you trying anything new in 2013?

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