Stability Ball vs Lower Body

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Try out these exercises with your ball.  They are great for your legs and abs! And don’t worry, you can do them with a PICC in your arm!

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Another Great PICC-time Exercise: The Lunge

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This is a little experiment I am doing in anticipation of the upcoming Stanford/UCSF research project I’m involved with.  “MRSA-schmeRSA,” I say.  So what if I can’t coach the little guys in person? This is 2010 and I have YOUTUBE!

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Lower Body Time!!!

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When you are addicted to weights as I am, those weeks with a PICC line can be a pain the the butt, and psyche.  In order to not get completely depressed (i.e. to stay sick-but-getting-less-sick and happy), I always at least walk every day, and then as the magic juice starts working and I feel better, I’ll add in resistance work for my lower body. So I’m starting to add in some video blogs because a) they are easy to do, and b) it is much easier to demonstrate exercises than to describe them in words.

Here is the first of this weeks focus videos–LOWER BODY TIME.  Today is the squat, a very basic exercise that targets multiple muscle groups.  Go for it.  Add weight if you can (hold dumbbells at your sides).

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Operation Exacerbation

Rule Number One that I hear myself telling people who are bummed out about their illness, whatever it is, is to remember, “there is more right with you than wrong with you.

And that’s true, right?  Think about it, by some miracle you are here on this earth, breathing, most likely able to walk around, enjoy food, listen to good music, pet your dog, watch Survivor…

Why is that?  Because most of the 100 trillion cells in the body, each of which are probably performing thousands of events per second, are actually doing their jobs perfectly well right now.  If not; well, you would not likely be reading this.

Now I’m not preaching here.  I am mostly writing this for my own edification, because I just learned that I am now infected with MRSA in my lungs.  I really can’t convey in words what happened in my consciousness when I learned of this last week.  Maybe you know the feeling that really bad news carries with it.  The sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, the tight chest and throat, the heart racing and the blood draining from seemingly everywhere…  Sh_t!

Then the anger, and the self-pity arrive.  Sh_t (again)!  Why me, why now?  This is a REALLY bad time for this.  I’ve got plans, Universe!

And then, the tears.

So, now I’m officially a CF Pariah.  Gown, glove and mask everyone…here comes Julie.  Man, I’m pissed.  And of course, really what I am is scared.  What does this mean?  Is my CF going to get worse?  Will the freakin IV’s even work this time?

So, I allowed this to go on for a couple of hours.  Then, I was better.  Then, it came back with a full and serious vengeance over several days.  And now, finally, I’ve decided to respond instead of reacting.  Or at least…to try.

The first thing that came to my mind was to write the post I was going to write before the fateful telephone call.  It seemed to me that writing about having a “positive exacerbation” could only be credible if it were to be created during an exacerbation.

So, even though this is a slightly unusual (for me) situation, it is most certainly a “CF adverse event” and just as certainly would be best handled with a positive attitude.

Here are a few things I do to make my three weeks of IV’s…my “home vacation:”

1) First, since I can’t exercise strenuously, I don’t.  I legitimately and compassionately stop pushing myself.  A gentle walk every day that I feel like it is about as hard as I’ll push these days.  After the port goes in and the PICC comes out today, my arms will be free at last, free at last.  So as I feel stronger…I’m back to those kettlebells!  Have I told you about my favorite new exercise?  Something else to post about.

2) I have incredible friends who have been incredibly kind.  I will appreciate them every day, in some way.  By telling them what they mean to me, I will add positive energy to their world and mine.

3) Sometimes it takes a real blow to the illusion of stability to wake me up.  This has been a great one.  I will resolve to appreciate what is good in my life.  The best way I’ve done that in the past is to keep a gratitude journal, and vow to write in it every night three good things that happened that day.

4) I have a post that I have been writing in my head for weeks now about the growing importance of meditation in my life.  I have been trying to figure out how to stress this without sounding like a preacher…hence the silence about meditation.  But it has been SO key for me this last week, that I will write this post.  It will be the next one.  I will pour my soul into it, for both myself and for those two or three readers I have:-).

So if you like this plan, or if you have some suggestions, or if you’d like to share how you deal with your own “operation exacerbation,” please leave a comment!

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The Pros and Cons of Working Out at a Gym

I like to start an article off with a bang!

I read an article online a couple of days ago entitled,  “The Four Germiest Places at the Gym,” and it made me a little ill.  You can read it for yourself (I recommend this), but in a nutshell, you want to avoid public yoga mats, dumbbells, bike seats, and shower floors and walls.

Now I don’t know about you, but I actually touch dumbbells when I go to the gym.  Not only that, but I always have to adjust the exercise bike seat height!  Now, I can definitely avoid yoga mats (I bring my own), and I rarely (by rarely, I mean never) use a locker room shower anymore.  Still, the article got me thinking about the good and bad points of public gyms for someone with CF.  So, here’s my take.

THE PROS

1)  The first that come to mind is obvious, and the video above is a perfect example:  PEOPLE WATCHING!  Let’s face it, treadmill running, or elliptical training, or stationary cycling, or (fill-in-the-blank) for 30 minutes at 70% of your estimated maximum heart rate can be BORING.  Watching those around you, especially when they are doing unusual things, can be very entertaining.

2)  Variety of equipment:  My gym is a great example of this.  I could be there all day, and not have enough time to try every machine.  It’s mind blowing.  For an exercise nerd like me, it’s like being a kid in a candy shop!  Chest day, you say?  Well, let’s see…I can use dumbbells, or barbells, or cables, or stack machines, or take a group weight lifting class.  The possibilities are endless.

3) Vicarious experience:  If you are short on inspiration or motivation, the gym can be a perfect remedy.  All you need to do is look around.  There are always people there who can provide inspiration.  You can see yourself in others, and aspire to push yourself a little harder.  When I see a woman who can do 10 pull ups, I am both impressed and motivated to work harder, because, darn it, if she can do it, so can I!

4)  Variety:  Let’s say you get sick of your “usual” aerobic or lifting routines.  Check out the group classes!  Again, if your gym is like mine, you can choose from anything from “Zumba” (I don’t know what that is…it sounds like a soup to me) to kickboxing to group “body bar” classes to yoge to (fill-in-the-blank again).  Never even THINK of a boring exercise session again!

5)  Social connection:  Working out alone, either jogging or lifting weights in your living room, is kind of lonely, isn’t it?  A gym is a much more social experience, even if you don’t know anyone around.  There are people there!  You can talk with them, or not, but you are not alone.  You might even make friends with people there.  Some people have hooked up romantically after gazing from afar for months at the gym…

6)  Guidance:  Let’s say you have no clue what you are doing, for instance.  At a gym, you can a) watch what others are doing on the machine in question, or b) ask for help.  There are people who get paid to answer your questions.  And there are people who aren’t getting paid for it who will answer your questions.  And, of course, there are people who want to answer all of what they perceive to be your unspoken questions (but they go in the other column).  Last, if you have the cash, there are people you can hire (personal trainers) to teach to what to do and set up a program designed specifically for you.

THE CONS

1)  This one is easy.  I alluded to it earlier.  GERMS!!!  Gyms are germ havens.  Ask around, I bet you can’t find any self-respecting microbiologist at your gym.  They know better.  Now, this freaks out many “normal” people (i.e. CFTR-able).  Imagine how it might affect those with CF!  If you have a transplant, forget about it…there’s no way you should go into a gym.  So this is serious business.  I go back and forth on this, and I am addicted to my gym!  The best I can say is if you are like me, and can’t stay away from your  gym, wash your hands…wash your hands…wash your hands!!!  And until you can wash your hand after touching the machines or weights, keep your hands AWAY FROM YOUR FACE.

And avoid the locker rooms…and the yoga mats.

2)  Inconvenience:  Getting dressed, packing your bag and water, finding your keys, driving down the block, returning home because you forgot your membership card, and driving to the gym take time.  For some, this series of events take longer than the entire workout.  This is not efficient use of time, nor is it good for the environment.  The worst part is that often this series of events presents an insurmountable obstacle to the exercise itself.

3)  Being “Noticed:” This one is only sometimes the case for people with observable health issues:  When I look or sound sick (you know…”the cough”) it can be embarrassing to exercise in public.  Once I was at the end of a course of IV antibiotics, and I went to the gym with my PICC, infusing Tobramycin.  I was on the treadmill, jogging I think, and this guy came up and asked what was wrong with my arm.  “Nothing,” I responded, “I’m just getting antibiotics for a lung infection.”  I wish I had words for the look on his face.  He truly thought I was a nutcase that should perhaps be carted off in a straitjacket.

At least I wasn’t dancing.

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