Day in the Life: Returning to Fitness World

(I think that’s my new name for the gym, and not just when I’m doing a body fat test.  ;)

Yes, I’ve been putting it off.  Partly because I’m easily the largest woman I’ve seen there, partly because dealing with the tech during the body fat test did rattle me a bit, and partly because I had a fairly serious asthma attack Monday night.   I’d used my inhaler in prep for going for a walk.  Walking uphill I was gasping and stopping to catch my breath for over a block, not sure if I wanted to use my inhaler again.  Then the tightness in my chest got tighter and painful.  I  remembered that it’s a symptom of asthma too, and used my inhaler.  Almost immediately the pain subsided and I could breathe better.

But still.  Chest pain?   Scary.   Tuesday I got my 2nd preventative asthma prescription filled and contented myself with my home weight routine (there’s a lot you can do with dumbbells and an ankle weight.)

And tonight I stopped by the gym on my way home.

If Curves is very “girls work out” and the Y has a “family vibe”, my gym is more “serious workout” — partly due to the wide range of free weights and different lines of weight machines.   That variety is one of the reasons I joined this particular gym, in fact.  Each manufacturer makes their machines for particular body types; more lines and manufacturers makes it more likely I’ll find machines that fit my body.

So, tonight, I used my inhaler 20 minutes before exercising, as recommended.  I walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes to warm up and moved onto weights. Usually I start with leg presses, but today I tried a new machine that more closely approximates a squat.  I ended up deciding that it has me crouch at a bad angle for me, at least right now, but that’s a good thing to learn.  I moved on to the seated leg extension, leg curl (basically the opposite of the extension), seated row, shoulder press, and pulldowns.

Not the world’s biggest workout, but I feel comfortably tired and glad I went.

12 thoughts on “Day in the Life: Returning to Fitness World

  1. Scary indeed those chest pains! Having asthma myself, I know what you are talking about, but I always attributed the chest pains to reflux. A number of years ago, while in my late 30s, I had a series of tests (ekgs, halter monitor, chest panel) on my heart due to palpatations and pain in the chest. While they couldn’t explain the palpatations (within “normal” range…whatever), the chest pain subsided with the acid reflux diagnosis and treatment. Prilosec once a day has greatly diminished these pains for me. Not just Zantac or Tums…but an acid production reducer.

    Having asthma makes me prone to anxiety attacks. When you think about it, losing the ability to breathe freely and sufficiently tends to make one anxious. When I explained this to my doctor, she convinced me to try Effexor and see if that helps control the anxiety. I tried it for four months at the lowest dose and hated the effect it had on me. For four months, I literally became obsessed with what it would feel like to be dead. I didn’t WANT to die and was not suicidal in the least, but I had dreams about coffins, burial, autopsies and preservation of my body that were so vivid I can recall them to this day. I also stopped caring about everything. EVERYTHING. Needless to say, I took myself off Effexor cold turkey when I couldn’t stand the person I had become. Not a good idea because then the “brain zaps” started. I literally had jolts of electricity zing through my brain at various times during the day that felt like what I imagine shock therapy does. This lasted 6 weeks and believe me, I will never, ever take anything like that again!

    I am amazed that you take 20 puffs off your inhaler before exercise. If it’s albuterol, that amount is definitely going to cause your heart to race quite a bit. The most I’ve been told to inhale is 2 puffs at 30 minutes and 15 minutes prior to exercising. Could this be the cause of the chest pains during your walk?

    Also, I am by far, no expert on heart attacks in women, but have done my own reseach for my own informational purposes and have found that chest pain is rarely the most common or only symptom of heart attacks in women. Since women’s heart attack symptoms differ greatly from men, I have found that neck pain, shoulder pain, and nausea/indigestion type pain are actually more commonly associated with heart attacks in women. (I am not a doctor so please take my words with a grain of salt and as my own individual experience). Knowing this info helps me to run through my own checklist whenever I have chest pain and keeps my anxiety in balance.

    I hope the Singulair works well for you. I have been on it since my diagnosis of adult onset asthma over 4 years ago now. I get fewer allergic trigger responses (pollen, pollutants, etc) since I started taking it. I hope it works the same for you :)

    It sounds like you have a great workout! Keep tabs on the chest pain….maybe give the doctor a call or email to discuss this? (concern is genuine)

    • NOT 20 puffs – 2 puffs 20 minutes before. I did that before the walk and before going to the gym. :)

      The reason I didn’t call 911 was that a) I was in an asthma attack before my chest got painful – chest tightness, gasping for breath, etc and b) pain went away when I used the inhaler. Somehow I don’t think the inhaler would’ve affected a heart attack.

      Glad you’ve got the acid reflux and asthma under control. I find anxiety is an asthma trigger for me too, but I’m dealing with it the meditation and avoiding anxiety ways ;)

      • I’m so sorry for the “20 times” faux pas! I seriously read that twice (just before bedtime *cough cough*) and saw 20 times! Please excuse the middle aged lady with bad eyes for she can be ridiculous sometimes! ha ha

  2. Singulair is good. I take that, too. This year I had to go back on Advair. Really didn’t want to, but I couldn’t deny that I needed it, and it is helping. If you’re still sucking that albuterol once a day or more even with the singulair, maybe you should ask about advair or symbicort or something else. Once the general inflammation gets into your lungs, it can be really hard to get it to let go. I was raally resistant to taking advair in the first place, but the peak flow meter doesn’t lie. It helps. I was not treating my low peak flow aggressively enough, and I regret that now. So much time lost!

    I’m getting ready to start slow-burn style weight work. Since I am unemployed, I can’t afford to use a gym right now, so I collected adjustable ankle weights and I have some bars and plates, and a mat, and a weight bench…I just need my husband to help me, because I won’t do free weight work without a partner. Especially not work to failure.

    I really like using a gym, and if money weren’t an issue, I’d sign right up for one right now. There are three in my area I really like. And I relish being the fat girl at the gym. If they give me dirty or disparaging looks, I smile at them. I have my ipod, I have my HRM (or at least the strap) I am in the zone. The last person who trained me didn’t know how to deal with a fat woman with a positive attitude about fitness, I’m not sure he knew what to do with a fat women client at all! — it was a real consciousness raiser for him, I am sure!

    • I’ve been on Advair for about 6 weeks. Now I’m on Singulair too. I’m trying to get to the point where I MOSTLY use the inhaler just before exercising.

      Re: exercising at home, I got started again during knee rehab without resistance, then added stretchy resistance bands, then finally adding an adjustable ankle weight. We also have acquired a variety of dumbbells over the years – 5, 10, 15 and 20lbs. ;)

  3. If you were using a Smith machine, DONT!!!!!!

    I know there are trainers who say it’s safer, but it’s really not. It forces you to travel a straight line throughout the movement, creating shear force on the knee that a full free squat doesn’t. It’d be better to do a free squat with one of those heavy broomstick things some gyms have than use it. (Or an empty Olympic bar if you’re up to 45 lbs).

    http://www.exrx.net/Questions/SmithSquat.html

    • Nope. Ever seen a leg press machine with a stationary platform and you push the weights with your shoulders? Like that, only standing, or mostly standing—the platform is at a 30-degree angle with the floor. I figured I’d try it at a 10lbs to see what it was like and figured out I don’t like it. :)

      The gym does have a squat cage, but it’s at least 3′-4′ deep, so lots of room to maneuver. I’m not using it yet — right now I’m mostly just squatting to get at the coffee supplies in the break room, or to practice the movement.

  4. My gym is so full of different body types and ages, that nobody is really the fat girl or the old guy. I really feared joining a gym because I thought it would be full of size 2 twentysomethings, but it’s truly democratic.

  5. I agree with Noel: squats are pretty simple to learn without a machine. Maybe try a box squat until you get comfortable with them (i.e. squatting onto a box, set at a height where your knees are parallel or just below parallel when sitting). I use a wooden box with mats on it to make up the height.

    Squats are fabulous! Well done on the workout!

  6. If you ever get the chance, try a Kettlebell. They may seem fadish or hardcore (depending on where you go online) but the fact is they are funner than puppies and offer a killer workout with relatively few moves.

    And it really gets your heart going.

    Just be sure to get some sound instruction if you’ve never used one before.

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