Health + Wellness

Healthy Coaching

With the new year comes new goals, new commitments...and new health plans. As in HMO's and PPO's. My company encourages us to take a proactive approach toward our health and offers incentives for taking advantage of special benefits - one of is having a health coach.

Health Coach After taking an online health assessment, I had my first session (via phone) with my health coach last month. It was pretty basic - he reviewed my health assessment, asked me what my health goals were and he gave me suggestions on how to formulate a plan to achieve them...although half the time, he was taking notes on information I was sharing with him! However, he did send me links to a few resources that I found helpful.

- The Pyramid Guide - Lance Armstrong's Live Strong - Nutrition Tips

Yesterday was my second session (its scheduled monthly). I updated him on how the December half-marathon went and shared with him my goals for this year. He sent me 2 new articles that I am really enjoying reading.

The first one is on how to train for a marathon. I am a like sponge right now, absorbing as much as I can about this.

The second article has 50 different types of swimming workouts. I am such a novice to swimming that it didn't even dawn on me that swimming has different kinds of workouts, like every other kind of sport. I told him my goal is to swim 3 times a week so he suggested that since I'm still very new to this sport I could structure my week by rotating between kick-boarding for a lower body workout, then using a buoy when swimming laps for an upper body workout and then closing out the week by doing regular laps for a total body workout.

Wednesday Massages Another benefit at work is that a massage therapist comes in each Wednesday to give chair massages. Its $1/minute for 20-minute sessions. I don't do this every week, but this week it was a necessity. My shoulder blades and elbow are killing me - typical tension areas for someone who works at a computer all day. This week's therapist was a substitute and I was a little skeptical on how she would be. Some therapists just stick to a routine instead of focusing on your trouble areas. But this lady was great - she hit the right spots. It really helped; I think I need to start getting a massage every Wednesday.

Dinner and a Run Normally Wednesday nights are track workouts with my run club, but we're still on a holiday schedule so I was undecided about what, if anything I was going to do. I packed my gym bag with both swimming and running gear, but by the end of the day my motivation started to wain. I found myself taking to the exit home, instead of to the gym. However, once I got home, I did manage to fight the lazy and headed out for a short run. It was dark by the time I headed out so I used my headlamp for just the second time. I love that thing! I walked for a half mile, then I ran a mile out and back for a 2-mile run, then walked the half mile back home.

When I got home, I tried a new healthy chicken recipe that I found in Fitness Magazine. It was really quick and easy to make, although having to touch raw meat makes me want to become a vegetarian. It just grosses me out.

Thursday Its still not getting any easier to wake up in the mornings. Today I normally would go to Body Pump, but I was excited to try the new swim workouts my Health Coach recommended that I skipped Body Pump at Golds in favor of swimming at 24-Hour.

When I got there the all the lanes were taken so I went in the whirlpool to wait for one to open up. The whirlpool was so nice and warm that when a lane opened up, I really didn't want to go in. But I told myself that I have new workouts to try so I got out and started to put on my swim cap and it ripped. I took it as a sign that it wasn't meant to be this morning and went back in the whirpool for another 10 minutes. Then I spent 10 minutes in the steam room and tried to spend 10 minutes in the sauna but by then I was overheated and just done.

The rest of the day is truly going to be a rest day - no workouts planned for tonight. I need a night to just come home and veg in front of the TV; I have 4 episodes of GH waiting for me! :)

What Made Me Happy Today and Photo of the Day I forgot to post a photo yesterday so I have 2 today:

1. So this isn't from today, but I have it posted on my fridge and everyday I look at it and it makes me smile! This is my favorite cousin in the whole world, Chip Gifford Ironhorse Ellison. Everybody loves Chippy!

2. I got an email from the Daily Burn this morning telling me I placed 2nd in the Spring Half-Marathon Challenge...after 5.2 miles 7 days into the new year. Now that's funny.

Pain is only temporary...

...So says one of my Daily Mile friends and let's hoping it is because I am still in pain. I guess I was naive to think I would not be this sore after the race. During this training period I was brave enough to start taking ice baths which seemed to be the cure-all for post-run soreness. I took one after any run that was 6 miles or longer and had minimal soreness. But not this time...

Where to begin - first it was my feet, but thankfully, that is gone. Then it was my quads and calves, butt, hamstrings (again) and hips. Basically my entire lower body. Within an hour after crossing the Finish Line, I did take an ice bath, stretched and rested for the remainder of the day. Then on Monday, Kady and I went to the spa...

In the past 6 weeks I've gone to Vegas twice and during each trip I went to the Mandara Spa at Planet Hollywood and Spa Mandalay at the Mandalay Bay. Both are very good spas, but neither comes close to Qua at Caesars.

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I had booked myself an appointment at Planet Hollywood with the same massage therapist I saw in October. She was very good and I was looking forward to seeing her again. But Kady told me about the mid-week Swedish massage special at Qua so we decided to go there instead. I would have preferred a deep tissue, but she swore it would be a great experience and she was right. The massage itself was okay, nothing special about it. The therapist did work on my calves and quads for a long time, which I appreciated.

After our massages we stayed at the spa to enjoy the rest of the facilities. They have huge Roman Baths and I even took a much needed nap on one of the Bath-side lounges (amazing because I can never nap). But the best part of the experience was the Steam/Arctic Room combination. I love steam rooms; when I'm sitting in them I can feel my tight muscles loosening up which feels so good after running. Next door to Qua's Steam Room is the Arctic Room. Not very many spas have Arctic Rooms; its exactly what it sounds like - a really cold room.

caesars-palace-qua-spa

So the deal is, after sweating in the Steam Room, you're supposed to go into the Arctic Room where its ice cold. Moisturizing mist resembling snow falls from the ceiling and there's a sink that dispenses crushed ice that you can rub on your hands or face. It sounds horrible (at least I thought it did...at first), but the contrast of going in-between the two rooms is glorious. As Kady said, "You can feel the toxins leaving your body." It was a heavenly experience; I highly recommend you go there on your next trip to Vegas.

So now its 3 days later and I still hurt. This morning I went to the gym and rode the stationary bike to try and stretch the legs out; it does feel a little better. Afterwards I went to my Core Training class - its about the only type of exercise I can do right now that doesn't hurt. I'm doing everything I can think of to minimize the pain - stretching, rolling, Naproxen, Icy Hot, Arnica, Biofreeze, lavender oil - I have everything on rotation, but any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Yesterday was supposed to be my final appointment at physical therapy. I was so looking forward to it, just to get treatment. But they screwed up my appointment so I'm going back again this morning, just before I catch my flight to Hawai'i. While I am so not looking forward sitting on a plane for 5 hours, I am looking forward to escaping the freezing cold weather and heading home to a nice and balmy 70+ degrees. Maybe being in the tropics will help.

So....a hui hou, my next post will be from Molokai.

PS Race photos are in.

Tiny Reminders of Humility

Last night, as on every Tuesday night, I volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House. I'm assigned to the Children's Activity Room where I play with the kids, helping them with different activities like painting, puzzles, legos, video games, puppets, basically whatever they want to do. Up until now its been a pretty slow gig. At the most, I've had three or so kids in the room at the time. But last night, it got really busy, about 12-15 kids. As crazy as it got, it was still so much fun. The kids amaze me. They are afflicted with terrible illnesses, yet they are so happy, full of life and laughter, and just a delight to be around. I thought of this as I worked out this morning. I had some extra time today so I did an extended workout that consisted of a little bit of everything:

* 10 minutes of hamstring curls, prescribed by my physical therapist cause he says they're still too weak. * 20 minutes on the bike, also prescribed by PT. * 30-minute Core Training class (my third of the week...ouch!) * 45-minutes on the dreadmill....I mean treadmill. I intended run 60 minutes on the treadmill but I just couldn't do it. Running on the treadmill is SO MUCH harder for me than running outside. I could barely pull a 10-minute mile. I just wasn't feeling it.

After my workout I went to physical therapy. I thought I was having IT band issues, but my therapist told me it was my lateral hamstring, not the IT band. He treated it with an ultrasound and a massage, then showed me stretches for it. Other than that, he said I'm good to go for the race. He doesn't even want to see me again until after its all done.

As much as I've had to deal with injuries this year, I know it doesn't even compare to the challenges the Ronald McDonald kids and their families go through. So when I start to complain about my aches and pains, I am thankful that I have Tuesday nights to remind me to be humble and thankful for my good health and the opportunities I have to do the active things that I love to do.

Happy Thanksgiving!