Thursday, November 13, 2014

Post-Cheilectomy - A Dancer and Fitness Instructor's Experiences

And here is the disclaimer: I am not a doctor; I am merely sharing my experience with the desire that it will bring hope to those in the same situation. Always follow your doctor's orders!

After experiencing intermittent pain at the base of my big toe due to osteoarthritis for over 20 years, I finally reached my breaking point when it created a bone spur on the side of my foot. I successfully tried physical therapy last year which really seemed to keep it at bay, but this summer when the pain worsened again I had a bad feeling. I attempted P.T. again but this time around it did not help. We employed not only the exercises this go-round but also a therapy called iontophoresis, which is basically a battery-powered medication delivery patch that administers a steroidal drug through the skin in lieu of getting a painful injection at the site.

I visited my podiatrist and we discussed surgery and decided it was the best course of action. If I had waited too long and the situation worsened too much further, I may have had to get my big toe joint fused, which means I never would have been able to bend it again. For a dancer and fitness instructor, that is anathema!

One week ago today, I had my surgery.  Mine was done with both regional injections (thankfully, done after my propofol had kicked in and I was out) and a mixture of sedatives administered through an IV.

I woke up groggy - just basically feeling very sleepy. I had some crackers and ginger ale and other than some lightheadedness, I felt fine. My surgery was at 8:30 AM and I was home by 12:00 PM.  My advice is this: stay on top of the pain!  Take your pain meds at the regularly scheduled times, even if you have to set the clock overnight because if you don't the pain gets to be a bit much. By then it's hard to play "catch up" with the drugs because they will take 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to kick in!

My other advice is if your doctor tells you to keep that foot propped up, do so!  I was only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom for the first 5 days.  I am healing nicely and I think part of the reason is because I listened!  Also, icing the top of my ankle helped; apparently there is a nerve there and that is why you should ice that area rather than the area that was operated on (at least in my case).  Check with your doctor though.

I only had to use my Percocet twice and it was for overnight. The rest of the time I just took one or two Tylenols with codeine. They might make you feel sleepy but it's better than feeling pain. I took them til the following Wed. morning and that was it.

I am not allowed to drive yet so life is a little boring, what with not being able to teach my classes and all. I am focusing on catching up on emails, taking fun online courses, watching a movie here and there, volunteering to proofread someone's book, etc.

I am able to get around with the nifty little post-op shoe with Velcro straps that they gave me after surgery.  Didn't really need crutches; maybe used them a few times but otherwise simply walked (gingerly) on the heel of my foot and continue to do so today.

Has anyone experienced this surgery and if so, would you care to comment on your experiences?  I would especially love to hear from those of you who have gotten it and were able to come back to dancing and exercising. :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Quest for a Healthy Lunch - or at last....A Veggie Burger That Doesn't Taste Like DIRT!

Awesome dirt included.

 In my never-ending quest to discover filling yet tasty healthful foods, I finally succumbed to trying Amy's All-American Veggie Burgers (original flavor).  While I cannot vouch for any other of Amy's various burger concoctions, I can say that this one does not taste like the aforementioned dirt.  It's just slightly spicy and when coupled with a good bun and some fresh lettuce to provide a crunch, it's pretty darn good overall!  Coming in at 140 calories for the burger and then adding in another 100 calories for a sandwich "thin" (such as Arnold's multi-grain one) it's only 240 calories.  Pair with a salad and you've got lunch. 
Oh yeah, and don't forget a smidgeon of dark chocolate for after lunch!  I like, okay LOVE, Gertrude Hawk's Dark Chocolate Silk Smidgeons.  The silky center makes the dark chocolate palatable and I'm usually not a big fan of it.  Failing that, there's also Chocolove's Dark Chocolate with Orange Bar which is normally available at health food stores and even some grocery chains.  However, a does not come portion-sized and therefore you have to have the discipline to stop at a few squares....or six....or nine.  Yeah, they're that good.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sidelined - Every Fitness Fanatic's Nightmare or How I Survived a Pulled Muscle With My Sanity Intact

While smack dab in the middle of a fun Zumba routine one day while teaching, I felt a rather sharp pain fly across my left hip flexor. Since the pain subsided, I thought nothing more of it but did recall it had hurt there a few days after doing this particular song the last time.  Suffice it to say this pain kept returning until I realized it was high time for a doctor visit.  My doctor surmised that I had a pulled muscle so off to physical therapy I went.

I was actually excited to be able to go to P.T. as I was sidelined from dancing or other aerobic activity and of course weight lifting was also out of the question.  I was thrilled to be able to do SOMETHING, geek that I am.  Here are the lessons gleaned from my physical therapy experience, so that you too may be able to avoid an injury:

1) Don't underestimate the importance of cross training.  I was working the same muscles in the same ways at least 4 times per week.  Your muscles get bored even if your brain doesn't.  Cross training by choosing a different activity (for me it will probably be cycling) will help avoid muscle boredom.

2) Don't you dare slack off on your weight training.  I stopped teaching my Butts & Guts class in December, figuring I'd get my weight training done weekly on my own in the weight room.  Sometimes this "weekly" session would get put off til 1 1/2 weeks or at worst, 2 weeks.  You have to keep it up regularly.  Women start to lose muscle after only 1 week, per my P.T.!

3) Don't forget to restGive those hard working muscles a day of rest or even two!  They need recovery time in order to sufficiently bounce back.

4) Don't forget to warm upIf your muscles aren't sufficiently warmed up, you are more prone to injury; we all know this but yet we don't always like to follow those directions.  We just want to jump right in to the fun part.  A 10 minute warm up should most likely do it. Be careful and above all, listen to your body.  If you still feel tight after a 10 minute warm up, do more!

If you do get sidelined, listen to your doctor and/or your P.T. and don't overdo it!  You will most likely have to make a gradual return to your usual activities.  Shine a positive light on your "downtime" by getting things done you didn't have time for like your favorite hobbies or finally watching that movie you've been wanting to see.  You'll come back to your favorite exercise with knowledge you didn't have before on how to avoid injury and how to pay attention to little pains that you wouldn't have previously.

And just remember....we're not getting older, we're just getting SMARTER!  ;-)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tracey's Semi-Naughty Dark Chocolate Chip Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes a girl's just gotta have chocolate, so I am always on the lookout for recipes that are at least "semi-healthy" and this one fits the bill in my opinion.  So put down that bon bon and eat something with at least some beneficial ingredients in it.  :-) 

Tracey's Semi-Naughty Dark Chocolate Chip
Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
~3 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips, containing at least 60% cacao
sprinkling of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

-Set oven to 350.
-Melt butter and add sugar, stirring til smooth.
-Combine flours, baking soda, oats and salt.
-Add butter mixture to dry ingredients and then add egg and vanilla.
-Fold in walnuts and chocolate.
-Spoon by the tbsp. onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for ~11 to 12 minutes or til dry to the touch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flirty Girl Debuts Flirty Girl Fitness LIVE!

Constantly on the lookout for new ideas to incorporate into my classes, I stumbled upon Flirty Girl Fitness LIVE, which includes not only live classes but "on demand" as well.  A brief overview of the free full length classes.....

Sexy Sculpt - Started off a tad slow....wondering why they don't start to film closer to the time they actually begin warming up.  Speaking of a warm up, this class went straight into fast "skier" lunges with the gliding discs with no warm up, which I found odd.  This was followed by pelvic tilts which were performed lying on a "log" (foam roller).  Ab and arm work follows.  Nice butt work, including my favorite "donkey kick" exercise!  However, when they did exercises against the wall, you could not see what they were doing as there was a bad camera angle.  Instructor Karey cued well and offered lots of options. 
Grade: A

Body Blast - Again slow start.  Class goes right into lifting with no aerobic warm up.  Referrring to a multi-muscle exercise near the beginning, instructor Eneli says, "I love just watching people screw this up; it's funny".  Umm, a fellow instructor, I am a bit horrified she would say that (and yes, I do have a sense of humor) but she does seem knowledgeable, corrects her students when necessary and she cues well.  The lady in the grey shirt behind Eneli looks like she's ready to kill someone but I can relate; when you're working hard, nothing will make you crack a smile!  But know that we instructors are just trying to help you through it with laughter.  ;-)  Anyway, nice variety of exercises, although the stretching at the end was abruptly cut off. 
Grade: A

Video Vixen - Definitely the highlight of my Flirty Girl experience!  Taught by Alix, it includes a warm up...yea!!  Described as a class where we will be taught routines done by stars such as Madonna (another plus for this huge Madonna fan), Alix does a fantastic job of breaking down this routine.  She demonstrates an 8 count and repeats it several times slow before turning on the music and trying it both slow and fast.  She then adds on another 8 count.  She is an excellent dance instructor.  If you have two left feet, I still believe you can learn this dance; however, you may have to do it to a slower song as the one she has is very fast.

Also, it's a shame Alix is at the back of the room because sometimes her arm movements/placement gets cut off.  In addition, her voice fades in and out at times.  That being said, I still think this is a super fun class.
Grade: A+

Pricing is not bad; a 7 day pass is only 10.00, a monthly pass is 15.00, and a 1 day pass is 5.00.  I'm going to give it a go and let you know how it goes.  If anyone else tries it, let me know!

Have you had any experiences with pay as you go sites like this?  I hope you'll share your experiences with me in the comments section!  Thanks and happy exercising!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

3 Things I Learned From Carmen Electra

Oh, the things I do for my job!
As a fitness and dance instructor, I spend a lot of time trolling the internet for inspiration.  I recently had a look-see at Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease to see if I could find a dance move or two for my Just Teasin' class.  This led me to discover....
3 Things I Learned From Carmen Electra
1. Those fugly knee high socks we were forced to wear in junior high apparently have made a comeback and are considered sexy. Darn, I threw mine away years ago!!  Who knew??!


2. My intonation while teaching may have a way to go, but I've got that part all over her....note her lame bimbo-like "5, 6, 7, 8". If you listen to it enough, your ears will begin to bleed.

3. If you slap your butt 50x during an instructional video, that's HOT (yes, I watched the whole thing and it gets a bit old).
In any case, I'll give Carmen credit for being in great shape and she even has some moves I might steal.  Except for the excessive butt slapping....
What is your favorite video (dance related or not) to get choreography ideas from?  Or if you're not an instructor, which is your favorite workout video?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The purpose of life is not to be happy - but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all. ~Leo Rosten

As a wife to a terrific husband who has a demanding job, a mother to two little boys who are only 18 months apart, and an employee of two jobs (one rather time-consuming), you would think I have enough on my plate, right? But nooooo…..I keep adding to it for some unknown reason. However, when I looked into the face of a little two year old boy from Russia who has no home, no family to call his own and who faces each day living in an orphanage, I could not turn away. Working alongside Reece’s Rainbow (, I have decided to become Quinten’s “Christmas Warrior” this year. The goal is to raise 1000.00 by 12/31/11 to put into his adoption fund, in the hopes it will encourage a family to adopt him and give him a permanent home. Please join me in donating and/or sharing his link so that he may hopefully have a chance at living the life he so richly deserves, warm, safe, and loved, in the arms of a family he can call his own. Thank you!