Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Injury Recovery - Part 37 : Christmas 2014

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.  It is Christmas Eve and I want to wish you a wonderful day and hope the day brings you joy and happiness and above all precious memories.

I thought about a title of "Surviving Christmas" as it has felt a little like that this year.  Recovery comes with its fair share of both pain and emotion, and sometimes the emotions are more frustrating than the pain especially when they hijack you with feelings you just don't want to feel. 

Don't get me wrong when I look at my progress pragmatically I am doing really well.  The last setback has been a challenge as it brought back all the related fears of the injury I had 2 years ago and whilst I have controlled it, it has left me with that nervous feeling, you know the one. It plays at the back of your mind and it takes a force of will to set it aside for fear you might set it off again even though you know you need to train to control it.  Talk about draining.  It turns out it is mentally draining.  More so than I expected.

Add to the injury recovery the need to be jolly, festive and for all things to be wonderful at this time of year and a whole other bundle of pressure gets added.  I have felt that pressure this year in away I have not in the past and I can't say I like it.

Being injured and dealing with someone who is injured takes an enormous amount of effort both physically and emotionally.  The analogy for me is when you are strong you can ride right through a speed bump but when you are tired a speed bump can feel like a mountain.  With the drain of energy and the effort needed to maintain a positive attitude throughout the day sneaky negative feelings and thoughts take root and if you are not careful you find yourself doubting yourself and on a track for self sabotage even though the rational side of you knows differently.

And then there is friends and family.  Like many people who relocate to a different country, our roots are many miles away.  Now don't get me wrong I have learn 't the hard way that family is what you build not what you are given and whilst we are blessed with wonderful friendships there are times when you wish to spend time with people that truly share in your life, the ones you laugh with and cry with, the ones that you spend time with and with whom you have built your new family.   When you are not out doing things and socializing it is sobering to realize somewhere along the way you neglected to build those bonds and for me more than ever this year has been a realization.

Life is a wonderful and precious thing and I need to take the time to find those out there that I can share the ups and downs with.  The effort needs to be more that just Facebook or Linked In but real and in person.  It is community, togetherness and love that should be the focus of the holidays and above all sharing that love with the ones that you love or come to love as family.

It is the realization and the reflection of the flaws in myself that help me deal with those flaws with the endeavor to be the best that I can be and to live my life to the Max every day.

To my loving wife Sarah - Thank you for being my rock and for facing or putting aside your own fears in the pursuit of helping me.  I could not ask or want for more, I love you.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Festive Winter Camp: Leavenworth 2014

It only took us 10 years but this weekend we made it to Leavenworth for the Christmas Holiday lighting.  Last week I decided that pain or not we would go to see the lights and it would be great to camp in Benny, hell sleeping is painful no matter what so it would not make any difference if I was at home or in Benny.  Now Sarah was not at first totally receptive to the idea.  There was concern that Benny being only two wheel drive would not do well, then their was Candy not being comfortable travelling in Benny and lastly the cold.   Fortunately the weather was still mild for the time of year with no snow on the passes well at least no snow on the roads the first concern was easily addressed.  Candy not being comfortable was a tough one but given the short distance of 2.5 hours, Sarah and I felt ok about it.  The cold however was another matter.  We looked at hotel options as an alternative but the decision was made for us.  With no rooms available, if we wanted to go camping in Benny was the only option.  Now this also touched on another worry, we have never slept a night with our van heater on, we have a propex heater designed to vent externally and safe for sleeping.  Even with that in mind since getting it with the van we have been conservative and not used it at night.  Well with temperatures well below freezing at we would have to either wrap up warm or give it a go. 

With all the worries and concerns addressed the decision was made and the site booked.  We opt'ed for the KOA site just outside of Leavenworth as we had stayed there back in April and whilst a long way from our favorite site it is close to town.  Due to prior Foundation Training commitments we headed out from Issaquah on Saturday afternoon for the 2.5 hour drive to Leavenworth.  As we were in Issaquah we decided to take I90 rather than the route we would normally take.  It was plain sailing or rather driving all the way there.  It was not until 4 miles from Leavenworth that we got a sense that we might not be the only ones going.  The traffic was solid all the way to our camp ground turnoff and past into town.

It is always disconcerting when the helpful person behind the desk stares blankly at you when you repeat your name and say you booked up in advance.  It turned out that the helpful booking person had booked us in the day after I called and not for the Saturday night.  Thankfully the helpful person behind the desk was indeed helpful and sorted out the problem and pointed us towards our pitch.

I  don't know what it is this year but we are just not used to the cold and boy was it cold in Leavenworth. I put it down to such a great summer and mild autumn.  It's my story and I'm sticking to it.   We arrived around 2pm and the lighting was not until 4:30, so time for some lunch and a little prep for later.  Around 3:30pm with the heater on full blast and full bellies we decided we should get going or risk missing it all together.  With all our layers on it was time to layer up the girls which included snoods for both of them, I wondered where my snowboarding neck warmers went.

It was about a 20 minute walk into Leavenworth and as we got closer and closer the number of people increased and increased, until we got to the main street.  We honestly was not prepared for how many people had turned up.  We could not get near the band stand so we opted to stay towards one end of town with a few thousand of the closest friends we have never met.  No surprise the dogs got all the attention.  Seriously I wish I could make friends as quickly as Candy and Daisy.  Oh and keeping Daisy from eating various delicious morsels discarded on the ground was a full time job.

Before we knew it the big count down started followed by the oooows and arrrrs as the lights came on.  It was both pretty, festive and bloody cold.   We weaved our way through a few thousand more of our not so closest friends as we took in the sights and Daisy tried to take in anything she could get hold of, which lead to me spending at least some of my time with my fingers down her throat fishing things out.   With the lights on, the sights seen and a brief lamentation that we could no longer eat the not so healthy bratwursts and we did not have friends with us to share the experience we headed back to Benny for a well deserved and healthy dinner. 

One of the things I like most about camping is the evenings.  At home I am an insomniac but after a day of travel, fresh air, cold, fingers down daisy's throat and a good meal I am ready for bed.  After dinner we played boggle and cards at which I was soundly beaten.   At around 9:30 an unheard of time for me I uttered the words "I think I am ready for bed".  To be honest if I had not looked at my watch I would have sworn it was past mid-night.  Talking about past mid-night, it was 1:30am when the red-necks in the site behind us decided to roll back in from town drunk as skunks and all about partying in the field outside our van. 

Upon waking from my slumber, the first words from Sarah's mouth was "don't you go out there".  I have never been one to avoid a hard conversation but even I had to admit that messing with 3 drunk red-necks in a campsite at 1:30am whilst still recovering from my injuries would not be a smart move and could in fact go south very quickly.  So the alternative was to turn my deaf side to the noise and pretend like it was the sea crashing against the shore, which by the way it sounded nothing like.  Whilst I was able to get some semblance of sleep Sarah was on edge all night worried that they might decide to wake up the occupants of the cool red VW camper a stone throw from there personal party.  Fortunately that did not happen.

On the up side the heater ran like a dream all night.  With the top down the heater really worked well.  With the top up it did not do as well but still good enough to keep the space warm if not toasty, oh and we did not set off our carbon monoxide alarm which was awesome.  On a side note running the heater all night only took approx. 0.7 gallons of gas which was a pleasant surprise.  The house battery did not fair as well.  We estimate maybe another night of battery power was left.

After a nice breakfast in Benny we headed home.  The options for the homeward journey were back the way we came, the shortest distance according to the GPS by 12 minutes, or HW2 and over Stevens Pass.  Since we were in no hurry we opted for the additional 12 minutes and did not regret it.  If you have not driven HW2 it is a stunning drive with my favorite leg being just outside of Leavenworth as you meander along the river.   The sun was shining and with the frost and snow all around it was just beautiful.   Sometimes it just feels good to drive and take in the scenes and today was one of those days.  Normally on our way home we blow by Stevens Pass ski resort but today Benny all but drove himself into the car park.  With the lifts closed and the resort open it was an ideal opportunity to grab a rest break and a cup of tea.  Yes the cups say coffee but let me assure you they contained a great herbal tea.  Rested and watered we set off for the last leg of the trip home.

The whole trip was less that 24 hours but by the time we got home it felt like we had been away for much longer, now that is the sign of a good adventure.  Until next time - Max Life Out.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 36 - Back to Basics Update

Friday night and looking forward to the weekend with Sarah.  Ah yes the pictures, just a little bit of Steam Punk'ery I experimented with during the week as a distraction.  I made the base from a scrap of wood and a piece of copper piping.

This weeks recovery has been, would you believe it, "Slow".   You know life is interesting when nighttime pain permeates your dreams.  It leads to some very surreal dreams, trust me.  So each day this week has provided a different opportunity to reflect on the effect of lower back pain along with mid back and neck pain, with a side order of arm and groin pain to boot.  Sarcasm aside it is hard going back to basics and this week was just that.

So metaphorically it was pick yourself up Matthew, dust yourself down and start your recovery training all over again.  With a voice in my head saying "you should be getting good at it by now".  I put aside my aspirations to participate in upcoming cycling events, counted myself lucky that I have the tools and am able to start over and focused on the basics.  Yes I had and to be clear have moments of doubt and concern, it is hard not to when you have a pain that is not going away.  It is like an itch you can't scratch, the mind plays all kinds of games with you even when you are doing exercises you know will help their is still that voice saying "will they really help" or "are you wasting your time" oh and my favorite "don't do it now, you can do it later".

Before, you ask.  Yes, I succumbed to those voices a few times but as I am learning in spades attitude in recovery is so important.  My attitude is "I WILL get better" and if it takes starting from scratch "SO BE IT" .  I was given the chance to be here and I will not squander that gift.

To reiterated, last week my lower back went into spasm most likely as a result of my old herniation in L4-L5.  This resulted in limited mobility and sensations radiating into the groin and leg.  For anyone who has experienced a herniation these symptoms will sound only too familiar.   Obviously in my case the situation is also compounded by the mid back, neck and shoulder issues.  I set myself the goal of being able to do three foundation exercises by Wednesday.  So with my goal in mind I started the week focusing on Standing Decompressions and basic Founders.  In the morning I got ready for work with 1 or 2 repetitions followed by icing.  During the working day I found time to do the exercises at random during the day.  I ended the day with a few repetitions before bed.  No they did not always feel great but they helped me get through the day and from time to time they did "Just Feel Good".  by Wednesday I was able to add back extension repetitions.  Only 5-6 repeats and after each session I felt a little better.  by Thursday I was able to add an adductor assisted back extension hold for 10 seconds and today although still stiff and sore I am stronger than I was on Monday and ready to help my clients tomorrow in my Foundation Training classes.  Once again having the tools in my toolbox is making all the difference.  The journey forward is still very uncertain so I am staying focused on the near term and trusting that no matter what I life has to throw at me I will deal with it with.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 35 - Sunday Nght Bear

It has been a good afternoon spent with a good friend.  It was also sad hearing from another friend who is not having such a good time and it is frustrating to see those you care about suffering hard times especially when you cannot be there to help.  It reminds me to be thankful for the good things I have even when I feel down or frustrated with my progress.

I know that I am recovering and that set backs are to be expected but it does not stop the feeling of frustration. Not only for me but for Sarah who has been my rock whilst dealing with her own fears and worries. 

Yup I crashed a little tonight and feeling a little low but for no good reason as I am slowly getting stronger. So enough of the self pity.  Time to reflect again on how lucky I am to be able to crash. 

So why the bear, because how can you not smile when looking at a cute cuddly polar bear :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Foundation Training Re Launch: MaxLifeOutFit

Whoa, we made it, and I have to say it was a close call.  After my back went out on Wednesday I was not sure everything would go smoothly and I m pleased to say it did.  With a focus on Foundation Training myself this morning I was able to train two new clients with the assistance from my beautiful assistant Sarah.  It is always good when teaching to be able to look someone in the eye and tell them you know what it feels like, in this case I honestly wish that was not the case but my life experiences have made it so and to me there is no better satisfaction than to be able to help others overcome their challenges. 

This week I have officially transitioned from a Student Instructor to a Certified Foundation Training Instructor and thanks to a lot of hard work put in by Sarah we launched our new website MaxLifeOutFit.  Going forward my hope is to wrap the great work Sarah does as a holistic health coach into the site so that we can share the great insight she has built up over the last 10 years.

If you are interested in Foundation Training take a look at and if you have any questions don't hesitate to let me know

Sarah Rocking out a Founder

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 34 - Minor Speed Bump (I Hope)

If it is not one thing it's another, seriously, I need a break and not the type that involves bones.   Everything was going well today when climbing off my bike after todays training session I felt a little sore in the lower back, imagine my surprise to find that it has now developed into a full blow flare up.  The first lower back flare up I have had in over 9 months.  Just goes to show how the whole chain is connected.

I think the universe is just helping remind me of the challenges of back pain so that I don't lose sight of what I need to do to really help others as a Foundation Training instructor because upper back and shoulder pain is not enough, sorry that just slipped out.   It certainly gives me yet another opportunity to practice what I preach when it comes to training.  Now adding lower back recovery to the program.  It sure is a journey.