Let’s Get Physical, Physical


It’s our last weekend for “Don’t Talk to the Actors,” folks! If you’re in the area and in the mood for some PG-13ish entertainment in a quaint historical setting, hit us up at 8 tonight…or 8 tomorrow night…or 2 on Sunday. Please and thanks! You won’t regret it, and neither will I!!

Yeah, no. I can’t do this.
It pains me to look.

Okay, on with the main event. (Thought y’all could use a non-theater post for one day. Happy Friday to YOU!)

I’ve mentioned a few times lately the fact that I’m going to physical therapy. Long story short, it seems that I had some extra wear-and-tear on my knees while pregnant (um, baby was big) and I did a lot more than I probably should have. When you have pregnancy pains, you tend to assume they’re just that — pregnancy pains — rather than an actual “thing.” I also didn’t adjust properly to walking/moving “normally” post-pregnancy.

So, I’ve got a couple of Baker’s cysts, which are just minute tears ([not min-it teers, but my-noot tares] in this case, on the back of both of my knees — nothing you can SEE, but you could feel them if you crawled into my achy body) that fill with the fluid that’s supposed to help my knee caps do their thang. There are a couple of other issues, but that’s generally the idea of the thing. I’ve been sore, and at times it’s been super difficult to move or squat, let alone shelve books at work.

The ultimate goal is to build up my thighs to support my knees better, as well as build up the strength again in my knees. Just call me “Thunder Thighs!!!” Not sure if those tears will ever heal on their own, but it’d be nice.

I’m going to a local place, Fitness Forum, which has been good for the most part. However, my biggest challenges are the facts that —

a) I just had a different doctor last week (filling in for my usual physical therapist) who gave me a completely different regiment of exercises,

b) I’m awkward as heck in “gym” situations, so I always feel like I’m doing it wrong (or just when I think I’m doing it right, the p/t tells me I’m not…embarrassing), and

c) I’ve had a very hard time finding the TIME to do my home exercises — the biggest challenge.

I’m trying to stay positive, but I’ve never been a super active person. Maybe that’s one reason my legs are so “surprisingly” tight for a “girl my age.” (Love that. Not.)

In high school, I played tennis and enjoyed it greatly (and attempted short stints with basketball and volleyball — not so great). Oh, and as a senior, I tried bowling, but that was a way to connect with my dad’s hobby and I wasn’t even close to good. I disliked gym; I was a music-English-history girl. Heck, I would’ve stayed with volleyball if my JV coach hadn’t been borderline abusive (verbally and physically pushing me to the point of throwing up every day; not the whole team) about not belonging there — she had gone to school with my siblings, who were band geeks like myself.

See? A bit of emotional soreness over athletics. Blah.

But, this is something else. This is to allow me to do my work again the way it needs to be done. This is to allow me to crawl around with my son and change his diaper and play with him without groaning in pain every time. This is to give me my energy and feeling of normalcy back.

It’ll be worth it, I know. I just have to jump some mental hurdles first — my own issues. Here’s how I hope to handle them:

a) Check in with my regular physical therapist to ensure that I’m doing the proper exercises…’cuz, yeah, they’re 100% different than what I was doing. (I have since done this, and while I have a million exercises, I’m adapting them to my needs. ie Not doing them all everyday.)

b) Get the heck over it. There are a TON of high school athletes around me doing exercises (and knowing full well how to do them) and a BUTTLOAD of older folks (dressed in Dockers and belts…? Here I was worried about my ratty sweatpants on the first day. I HAVE amended this situation that I blend in well enough, thanks to new sweats and new sneakers.), so I’m a rare creature. As with most things in life, I’ll just do my best and listen to what they tell me to do and deal with it. After all, it’s not forever. Just like gym class.

c) Um, yeah. This part sucks. I’m supposed to do them 2 times a day (they had mentioned 2-3, but we all know that ain’t happenin’). It seems that every time I go, the amount of exercises double — either in duration or just by changing what I’m doing — so it’s been confusing to LEARN the exercises as well as dig out the time to do them. (An assistant there that I LOVE has recently told me that once a day, especially with the busy life I’ve got goin’ on, is just fine. I love her.) SO, my attempt at a strategy here is to do them in the bedroom, when possible.

Wait, what? Yes, in the bedroom. If I get up early (5:30, people!!!! NO!), turn on the news, and do them while I don’t have any distractions (ahem, baby crawling on my stomach thinking it’s hysterical to sit on Mommy’s belly while she’s doing bridges, and, ahem, husband who doesn’t realize how much focus a grown woman needs to count to 20), I think I’m more apt to do them. Er, at least most of them. There are a couple of the exercises I’ve cut out on my own (probably breaking a cardinal rule, but…) because they’re painful. Like, direct knee contact that seems to be causing more issues than doing good type of stuff. (Don’t worry; I talk to my PT about it and we figure stuff out.)

Oh, and the same thing goes for the evenings (when I’m not into doing the 5:30 thing). When it’s time to chill out for the night, it seems that having one “zone” to do these exercises is half the battle. Plus, Dave zones out with his graphic novels (he is the Dorky Daddy, after all) and we can throw on The Big Bang Theory (or whatever, I’m not choosy…man, we are dorky) and I get the job done.

*sigh* I’ll get through it. And, y’know what? When I do, I hope to be pain-free enough to sign back up for some weekly yoga. Plus, when spring *finally* arrives (we have snow in the forecast…as long as that’s sitting on the 7-day outlook, it ain’t spring), we’ll be able to do family walking after work on a few days thanks to the hubby’s “new and improved” schedule.

See? Always a silver lining. 😉

Prenatal Yoga

I’ve mentioned wanting to try yoga, and most recently prenatal yoga, a few times. My reasons have ranged from exercise to improving my mood to helping in the birthing process — ohhh, there are lots of reasons. So, after work last Friday, I ran home to change into something comfortable and headed to Universal Yoga Center in New Hartford. (That’s about 30 minutes away, for the record. And, no, there’s nothing even similar any closer to home. Boo.) On this particular day, I was lucky enough to have Dave in tow for a post-yoga date.

So, he dropped me off and headed out to kill time while I got my stretch on. I was the first to arrive (I’d been told to come early to fill out a short form), and nervously got myself situated. There were approximately 7 other ladies there (plus the incredible instructor), all ranging from 17 to 36 weeks pregnant.

I don’t remember everything about the experience since I was focusing on learning new stretches and feeling the connection with my body and with the baby. I was definitely the “newest”, so the instructor seemed to pay some extra attention to me at more challenging points. The yoga itself was all about modification — especially focusing on the fact that, being pregnant, we may want to try some moves differently than even other women in the room, and definitely differently than how certain types of yoga might be taught.

What I don’t recall as far as the technicalities of the yoga itself, my memory makes up for with experiences and ambiance. The low lighting (there’s a lot to be said for Christmas lights – it’s the first time I’ve seen lighting like that that wasn’t reminiscent of a college dorm) and Eastern instrumental music were instantly calming. The instructor’s calm sweetness was inviting and caring – and perfect for a bunch of pregnant ladies! The stretching and moving wasn’t altogether too challenging (although there were a couple that proved to me that I need some more balance practice) but just “uncomfortable” enough to provide a mild workout while giving options for relaxation and other needs during labor or as the pregnancy continues. I honestly can’t say enough good about the experience.

The breathing techniques and little “tips” that the instructor provided (such as trying one stretch, in a modified way, to help with sciatica issues — my mom was jealous about that one since apparently I gave her such troubles when she was pregnant with me) were awesome. While the baby stayed pretty much motionless, it started moving during something called the “puppy pose” (an upside-down pose). I like to think the little one enjoyed it, but it just occurred to me that the opposite might have been true, hee hee. At the end of the session, after a long, deep breathing exercise, we made lotus blossoms with our hands and gave up a wish/intention for the baby up and into the universe (or to God, depending on what you believe). THAT was powerful.

The best part of the whole thing (other than that I didn’t realize my first session was free – score!) was when I met Dave at the car. I was throwing my bags in the backseat and getting myself situated while he blabbered on – “How was it? Did you like it? Were they nice? Did something happen? Was it okay? Do you hurt?” I think that he had hopes as high as I did about it, and a quiet Meg is a very rare thing. After I had strapped myself into the passenger seat, I finally said, “I’m relaxed.” “Oh! Good!!” I got to the business of explaining things shortly thereafter, but his excitement (and apparent nervousness) about it all had him bouncing off the walls. Can’t complain about that!

Oh, and for the record, that night he read the children’s book he had purchased (while I was at yoga ;-)) to my belly and got to feel it kick for the first time. Overall, it was a very special evening. Throw in a farmers’ market trip the next morning, and it was one of the best weekends we’ve had in awhile.

So, will I be going back? Let’s just say that there isn’t a session this week, so I’ll be returning for their next class. I enjoyed the process so much that I can foresee trying the “mommy and me” yoga (or even just “regular” yoga classes) in the future. The exercises speak to me in their timing (not too quick/extreme, not too slow/boring), with their focus on breathing, relaxation, and inner focus, and the underlying calmness from the instructor’s tone and the music (a variation of which I listened to on my Sirius satellite radio the next day – seriously).

Trying Something New…Maybe…Gulp

I’ve decided that the more time goes by pondering something, the less likely I’ll probably be in doing it. So, what better way to have some accountability than to mention it to a who-reads-this-thing-anyway blog? Who am I kidding, really – I’m a procrastinator, through and through – but the guilt factor really does work with me. 🙂 I AM still working on the bathroom (personal things have been thrusting distractions in the way), among a million other little projects…but I’m optimistic that, with cooler weather will come a completed product. Seriously.

Back to the subject at hand. In the interest of complete disclosure and over-sharing, I’ve seen therapists (ie analysts, ie psychiatrists, ie shrinks…) for many years, on and off. When I say “many”, I mean over 23 years. I saw my first incredible mental health professional when I was 6, just beginning to understand the death of my father and feeling the effects through lowered self esteem, depression and anxiety. Let’s just say that, while he was great, those symptoms have followed me for years. I don’t really expect them to ever be “gone”, just hopefully managed.

Recently, I started with a new therapist, but the fit just didn’t work for me. I ultimately realized that I’m handling the depression things (no medication, currently) pretty darn well, and I think that the love and support of my husband and friends and family (as well as that whole “cats need you no matter what” responsibility thing) has helped. My anxiety, however, has popped up, and no matter how intelligently I try to talk it away, it’s still front and center. We won’t even get INTO the self esteem stuff. That’s a day-to-day given. I think it’s probably also why I’m involved in acting – what actor DOESN’T have that issue? Not to mention that the rush from a supportive audience can help, momentarily. 😉

After a hurtful session which led to the ultimate break-up with my recent therapist, I did lots of soul and mind searching. “I know what all my issues are, and where they’re rooted, and how they show themselves; that’s not the problem,” I insisted. “It’s dealing and coping with them. I’m smarter than this. I need to control or work with this myself.” It may be naive to think this, especially since, when I was at my “lowest” in the past, I couldn’t talk the pain and agony away. But, things are different with anxiety.

So, I decided that I need to purchase some self-help books…but not necessarily the kinds you’d imagine. I guess I tend to scoff at self-help books, in general, but when I’m learning some truly helpful methods of handling life, I let go of the criticisms. Strangely enough, what worked best when I was in high school was looking towards Eastern methods of, well, LIVING.

I meditated, studied several Eastern religions and philosophies, and found myself to be at peace for the first time in my life. Of course, the life of a teenager eventually took over and, by college, huge personal pains took me back down the spiraling hole of despair.

My husband has a great respect for the Buddhist religion, even blogging about his occasional readings about it and letting it affect the way in which he handles, particularly, stress and “that which cannot be controlled”. I am now reading (silly as it is) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living (while Dave works on the same series’ Buddhist title). I’d like to move on to more “serious” readings, but this book is good at relating zen methods to a 21st century, Western lifestyle; good for a “beginner” like myself.

Additionally, I’m taking my mother’s advice (I MUST be an adult!) to look into yoga. While my mother’s a devout Catholic, she’s a smart lady – and has read about the helpfulness of yoga for those who need help handling stress, centering themselves, or even those coping with anxiety and depression. So, now I’m on the hunt. It reminds me a bit of my last search for a therapist, and I had considered going back to the drawing board for a new doctor (which may still be on the horizon, depending on how things go), but this is also something I’ve been interested in for several reasons, for awhile.

There are no “local” yoga centers, as far as I can find (as in…close to home), but the greater Utica area has a few from which to choose (have those two words ever been uttered in one sentence – greater Utica?). The challenge is determining when I can fit it into my schedule, since rehearsals for the current show at ILT are starting this week. Once I hammer down that schedule, I can determine what facility will best work for me.

The options are the Universal Yoga Center, the Yoga Haven, and Yoga Journey. The Yoga Haven’s web site appears to be for children, but other reliable sites linking to them lists that they have other valuable types of classes for adults, and the Yoga Journey site seems not to have any openings, currently. I know that our local community college offers classes, but my mother suggested attending a more professional type of class to get greater benefit from it.

I’ll update everyone as to how my search goes and what I decide. However, ANY suggestions or shared experiences in the world of yoga would be greatly appreciated. I’m ultimately hoping to learn relaxation/calming techniques, gain physical benefits (I’d like to actually be able to stretch…and tone in the process), and perhaps make this my go-to form of physical activity, especially when the word “prenatal” becomes part of my vocabulary. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!

Trying Something New…Maybe…Gulp

I’ve decided that the more time goes by pondering something, the less likely I’ll probably be in doing it. So, what better way to have some accountability than to mention it to a who-reads-this-thing-anyway blog? Who am I kidding, really – I’m a procrastinator, through and through – but the guilt factor really does work with me. 🙂 I AM still working on the bathroom (personal things have been thrusting distractions in the way), among a million other little projects…but I’m optimistic that, with cooler weather will come a completed product. Seriously.

Back to the subject at hand. In the interest of complete disclosure and over-sharing, I’ve seen therapists (ie analysts, ie psychiatrists, ie shrinks…) for many years, on and off. When I say “many”, I mean over 23 years. I saw my first incredible mental health professional when I was 6, just beginning to understand the death of my father and feeling the effects through lowered self esteem, depression and anxiety. Let’s just say that, while he was great, those symptoms have followed me for years. I don’t really expect them to ever be “gone”, just hopefully managed.

Recently, I started with a new therapist, but the fit just didn’t work for me. I ultimately realized that I’m handling the depression things (no medication, currently) pretty darn well, and I think that the love and support of my husband and friends and family (as well as that whole “cats need you no matter what” responsibility thing) has helped. My anxiety, however, has popped up, and no matter how intelligently I try to talk it away, it’s still front and center. We won’t even get INTO the self esteem stuff. That’s a day-to-day given. I think it’s probably also why I’m involved in acting – what actor DOESN’T have that issue? Not to mention that the rush from a supportive audience can help, momentarily. 😉

After a hurtful session which led to the ultimate break-up with my recent therapist, I did lots of soul and mind searching. “I know what all my issues are, and where they’re rooted, and how they show themselves; that’s not the problem,” I insisted. “It’s dealing and coping with them. I’m smarter than this. I need to control or work with this myself.” It may be naive to think this, especially since, when I was at my “lowest” in the past, I couldn’t talk the pain and agony away. But, things are different with anxiety.

So, I decided that I need to purchase some self-help books…but not necessarily the kinds you’d imagine. I guess I tend to scoff at self-help books, in general, but when I’m learning some truly helpful methods of handling life, I let go of the criticisms. Strangely enough, what worked best when I was in high school was looking towards Eastern methods of, well, LIVING.

I meditated, studied several Eastern religions and philosophies, and found myself to be at peace for the first time in my life. Of course, the life of a teenager eventually took over and, by college, huge personal pains took me back down the spiraling hole of despair.

My husband has a great respect for the Buddhist religion, even blogging about his occasional readings about it and letting it affect the way in which he handles, particularly, stress and “that which cannot be controlled”. I am now reading (silly as it is) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living (while Dave works on the same series’ Buddhist title). I’d like to move on to more “serious” readings, but this book is good at relating zen methods to a 21st century, Western lifestyle; good for a “beginner” like myself.

Additionally, I’m taking my mother’s advice (I MUST be an adult!) to look into yoga. While my mother’s a devout Catholic, she’s a smart lady – and has read about the helpfulness of yoga for those who need help handling stress, centering themselves, or even those coping with anxiety and depression. So, now I’m on the hunt. It reminds me a bit of my last search for a therapist, and I had considered going back to the drawing board for a new doctor (which may still be on the horizon, depending on how things go), but this is also something I’ve been interested in for several reasons, for awhile.

There are no “local” yoga centers, as far as I can find (as in…close to home), but the greater Utica area has a few from which to choose (have those two words ever been uttered in one sentence – greater Utica?). The challenge is determining when I can fit it into my schedule, since rehearsals for the current show at ILT are starting this week. Once I hammer down that schedule, I can determine what facility will best work for me.

The options are the Universal Yoga Center, the Yoga Haven, and Yoga Journey. The Yoga Haven’s web site appears to be for children, but other reliable sites linking to them lists that they have other valuable types of classes for adults, and the Yoga Journey site seems not to have any openings, currently. I know that our local community college offers classes, but my mother suggested attending a more professional type of class to get greater benefit from it.

I’ll update everyone as to how my search goes and what I decide. However, ANY suggestions or shared experiences in the world of yoga would be greatly appreciated. I’m ultimately hoping to learn relaxation/calming techniques, gain physical benefits (I’d like to actually be able to stretch…and tone in the process), and perhaps make this my go-to form of physical activity, especially when the word “prenatal” becomes part of my vocabulary. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!