shanmonster: (Default)
This is my first post on DreamWidth since evacuating from LiveJournal. I wish I didn't need to abandon ship, but the new terms of service are untenable. I'm part of the rainbow brigade made illegal by the Russian powers that be. I'm still waiting for all the comments from LJ to be ported over here, and then I plan on doing a computer backup of all my files. I'm gonna miss you, LJ. You were my electronic home for at least 18 years.

In cheerier news, I have passed the first round of selection for the Arctic expedition. My references have been contacted, and their deadline to get their forms in is the 14th. I think I have an excellent chance of getting selected, and that's exciting.

I've been steadily working at getting my health and fitness levels back up to snuff, and it's not comfortable. Stepping outside your comfort zone is always uncomfortable, by default. On Sunday, I did a couple hours of escrima and then went for a run. Yesterday, I did strength training at the gym, went for my first bike ride of the year (~7 km), and did a flamenco class. Today, I went for a run, and tonight I'll be working on gymnastic skills at the gym.

My strength and endurance continue to improve. In the meantime, I'm stuck always feeling a bit sore and tired. The first couple of weeks after increasing activity levels are always like that. Here's a clip of my most recent session playing on the rings. My equipment wasn't quite set up ideally.

shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Yesterday, with some amount of trepidation, I attended a handstand workshop. My energy levels have been generally waning over the past year or so, and my endurance has been getting pretty shitty. Nevertheless, I've been working hard at improving my endurance, and I was able to make it through the entire workshop without needing to take numerous breaks. Despite not having done a handstand in ~8-9 months, I did quite well. My strength, range of motion, and flexibility were up to the challenge, and I believe that if I can practice regularly, I will have an unsupported handstand within a few weeks.

I did have one major whoops. While doing a partner exercise, I kicked off too hard, overbalanced, and came down on my head and shoulder. I didn't damage myself, but it was a reminder that being klutzy hurts. My next kick-off was much better.


Over the past year, combined with my fatigue issues, I've also gained a fair amount of weight. At the beginning of the year, I was the heaviest I've ever been, and it did not feel good. Over the past two months, I became proactive and have been monitoring my diet, doing daily exercise (burpees and regular strength training), and taking some vitamin supplements to help with general health and sleep issues. I'm feeling a gradual change, and two days ago, for the first time in many months, I noticed muscle definition again. I knew the muscles were still there, but it feels good to see them peeking out at me again. Hi there, guns.

(Self-portrait circa 1997. Pencil crayons on textured paper.)
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Today was made with walking interspersed with a whole bunch of other stuff. Here's a video précis of my day.

My morning:



Now? Now I rest.
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
My hip is improving. As long as I play by its rules, it's been forgiving, and today, for the first time since the issue started up over a month ago, I was able to do pistol squats on that side without any issue. Yay! I'm hoping it will let me start running and jumping soon, too. So far, not going to do it, though. I tried doing mountain climbers a few days ago, and just 20 in, my hip said, "NO." Ok, then.

I'm also able to carry things around for prolonged distances again without my hip freaking out, so yesterday, I brought four bricks into the house and washed them off. Sounds pretty random, I know, but they're going to be my self-inflicted handicap for several months as I train up for the Goruck Challenge in June. I'm intimidated as hell. Those bricks are heavy, hard, heavy, unwieldy, and heavy. Did I mention they're heavy?

My physiotherapist told me I'm doing all the right things, and shouldn't bother going back to see him unless I regress, so hooray for that! He's not ruling out the cracked cartilage idea, but, based on the spiral nature of the way my hip catches, thinks it may actually be a ligament issue.

Since running and jumping are bad ideas at the moment, I've been doing pull-ups for every workout where running/jumping is prescribed. I feel like those are coming along pretty well. My endurance is improving, and my strength is starting to improve, too.

I'm a full-time student again, somehow, though not through any particular school. I'm registered for seven different courses:
  • CrossFit (I totally include this. Consider it my major.)
  • Aerial silks
  • Classical voice
  • Audio design
  • Fantasy/Science Fiction Literature
  • China painting
  • Acrylic painting

On top of that, I'm working on various projects, and playing in two tabletop RPGs and one LARP. And doing housework. Good lord, my life is full.

Here are a couple of pictures of things I did today: )

And now to get some prep work done for painting class tonight, and to do some more reading for my lit class.


Jan. 11th, 2013 10:57 am
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
So yeah. Finally recovered from the surgery on my leg. Slowly recovering from asthma issues brought on by a seasonal cold. My hip has been a bit wonky for a while, so I went in to get some massage work done on it, thinking something was just a bit twisted around inside and needed a bit of work.

And that's when I get told it's likely I have a degenerative issue that caused tearing in my hip labrum.

I'm going in for a second opinion next week, but after reviewing a bunch of sites on the issue last night, yes, it sure does look like I'm a classic case.

For starters, nothing that puts my hip/leg through large motions for a month. Even walking and sitting down sets it off, occasionally. So that (nonrefundable) aerial silks class I just started up again last week? Gone. CrossFit WoDs? (Though I should still be able to do some exercises at their open gym.) LARPing? Well, I can only be a noncombatant, because I mustn't run. I'm registered for a physically-intense dance workshop with Louise Lecavalier in the spring. I'm registered for Goruck in June (nonrefundable), but depending on how bad my hip is, participating could be a terrible idea.

If this is indeed what is wrong with me, rest might let it heal. If not, I may require surgery to smooth out the cartilage. If the surgery goes well, I should be able to eventually return to my previous levels of activity. Reading up, it seems the recovery time from surgery for athletes to start training again is about three months.

I have a job interview today to lead a fitness class...a class I may not physically be able to teach. Argh.

Well, rather than get completely bummed out, I want to come up with a list of exercises I should be able to do without putting strain on my injured hip. If you have any to add, please share, because there's only so many planks and wall sits I can do without getting sick of them. I appreciate any challenging exercises you can add to this list.

List of Exercises )


Dec. 21st, 2012 12:40 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
In case you've been wondering what's with all the poetry entries lately, I've taken on another challenge: a poem a day for 66 days. I expect the stuff to be of varying quality, but I'm looking forward to the creative brain flexing.

In the meantime, my 100-day squat challenge is still a go. I missed a few weeks of the challenge due to leg surgery, so once I was healed I decided to do 100 squats a day until I was all caught up. I lost track, and out of a strange sort of laziness, I decided to just continue doing 100 squats a day for the rest of the challenge. I might just continue doing 100 squats a day when it's done. I think it's great for my general strength and flexibility, and really, I don't find body weight squats taxing. They're also making my pistol squats much easier....

Wait wait wait, you may say. Surgery?


About two years ago, I noticed a new mole a few inches above one of my ankles. A bit paranoid, I asked my doctor about it. He took a look at it and told me not to worry. He said it was just a mole. A year later, I asked him about it again. He once again told me not to worry. I didn't like the look of it, though. It didn't feel the same as any other mole I have. It felt slightly dry, and the edges weren't smooth. So I asked him to excise it. I could tell he thought I was being a hypochondriac, but he agreed to remove it with a punch biopsy. I've had a mole removed before (from my back). It wasn't a huge deal. It barely hurt.

This time, it hurt like fuck. The freezing needle must have gone right into a major nerve cluster, because I gave a good yell. Once the freezing set in, it was fine, though, and the punch biopsy didn't hurt at all. The doctor assured me that it should be healed up in less than a week.

It didn't heal for months. It never even got a scab. I had to keep it clean, moisturized, and bandaged all the time. I stopped doing aerial silks because the wound is in exactly the right place to be constantly re-injured by leg wraps, which are an integral part of aerial silks.

About a week before I was scheduled to leave for Peru the doctor called me. It wasn't just a mole. It was a basal cell carcinoma.

Fan-fucking-tastic. Cancer time. Luckily for me, this is an extremely-slow-moving cancer. An appointment was made for me to go in for surgery to have it removed. As you can imagine, I was pretty freaked out and filled with a plethora of what-ifs.

On the scheduled day, I ran to the dermatologist's office. I knew it would be my last time running for a while, so I made the most of it. I got to the office and laid down on the gurney, sock off and pant leg pulled up. The doctor prepared the freezing needle, and I prepared myself for the suck. This time, however, the needle wasn't that bad.

The freezing worked pretty well, but not enough. On the surface, the cutting was fine, but he had to gouge in deeper. He cut out a piece of me about the size of an almond, and it hurt like fuck. You know how it feels when you hit your funny bone? Well, I figure his scalpel hit the nerve cluster that first freezing needle hit, because all of a sudden, I was hit by the funny bone sensation if it were made of sheer pain. I yelled. I jerked. I tried not to, but I couldn't help it. I felt a wave of nausea and faintness. He apologized, but then it was over.

He plopped the excised flesh onto the table next to me. It looked like a little piece of raw chicken. Such a small bit for such a big pain.

He stitched me up. It took a double row of stitches, and I looked down at the site, aghast. It protruded like Frankenstein's monster making duckface lips. He told me that because of the location, the stitches would be under a lot of tension. I was therefore not to run, jump, or anything else which would increase the tension for fear that my skin would rip. Walking was ok, though.

I nodded. I felt faint. I called a cab and went home. For the next two days, I sat on my ass. It hurt too much to walk more than a few steps. I hoped and hoped that the surgery was sufficient, and that it had gotten all of that skin cancer out of me. I didn't want to go in for more excision. What if they had to dig it out of me with some sort of doctor shovel?

The stitches healed wonderfully. The wound no longer stuck out, but the skin had relaxed and settled back into shape. When I had the stitches taken out a week and a half later, I went right back to training. I'd lost a bit of stamina, but it was good to be back.

A couple of days later, I was all set to go training again when I was hit by a wave of nausea which I just couldn't shake. So I went home.

The next day, I clued in to why I felt nauseated. The wound had become infected once the stitches were pulled out. What had looked completely neat and tidy suddenly looked like an infected zombie bite. I went to the doctor, and he was afraid I had cellulitis. This scared the crap out of me. [ profile] knightky had that last year, and it was BAD. I was put on antibiotics and told that if the infection spread, to go to emergency right away.

I was lucky. The antibiotics worked, and the infection didn't spread at all.

And guess what? The excision worked. It got all of the carcinoma. I have a clean bill of health.

Take that, cancer. To celebrate, I'm living my life as fully as I can. Celebrate with me?
shanmonster: (Default)
I did my first-ever Strongman training yesterday. I had a blast. Here are some annotated pictures of what went on. )
shanmonster: (Default)
How many of you are still with me on the 100-day push-up challenge? Today's my day 53. Here I am doing ten diamond push-ups. My form gets a bit saggy by the tenth one. I'm hoping that by day 100, I'll be able to keep perfect form a lot longer.

shanmonster: (Default)
Here are my results for the Warrior Dash on the weekend: I ranked 262nd for my division (women 40-49) out of 792. I ranked 1331rd over all, out of 6689 participants. My time was 50:45.80.

I don't think that's too bad for a course that hard, steep, and brutally hot!

Here I am, looking remarkably unmuddy considering how filthy most people got. I guess I'm just dainty. )
shanmonster: (Default)
Oh, hectic month, you sure are hectic: as hectic as longcat is long!

I've ramped up my training, as I said I would before, and am running a minimum of twice a week. Mondays, I run between 8-12 km of hills, and Wednesdays, I do a variety of running drills (sometimes sprints, sometimes intervals, sometimes hills, sometimes distance, sometimes cross-country, etc.). And then I run around the neighbourhood when I feel like it on other days, and run, when it's called for, at my CrossFit workouts. I still do not consider myself a good runner. But I am no longer a bad runner. I'm slow, but steadily getting faster, and my endurance is much better. I think I will be up to competing at Tough Mudder next year and half marathons, at this rate.

I've been training harder and more frequently than ever before, and my recovery time has improved dramatically. For example, Wednesday is possibly my hardest training day of the week. I do a minimum of 30 km of cycling, two hours of kung fu practice (which often includes about 400 squats as conditioning), and an hour of running drills. Oh yes, and the usual pushups are thrown into that mix. When I first started this training regimen, I was absolutely destroyed come Thursday. This week, I felt perfectly fine the day after, and am sure I could have done another full workout. However, I'm ramping down to save myself for tomorrow's race.

Tomorrow, I run the Warrior Dash. It's a 5km obstacle race, and looks like this.

So instead of a giant workout, I did a leisurely one. Basically, I went to the gym to play. I climbed the cargo net upside down just to see if I could. I did handstands. I did pistol squats, weighted (10-lb) glute ham raises, and 10-lb one-legged squats off a 24" box. I played on the rings and ropes a bunch.

The other night, I dreamed I could finally do kipping pull-ups with ease. Previously, I've only ever managed one. So I tried, and though they're certainly not pretty, I can do them singly now. It's a start.

Over the next week, I'll be teaching six fitness and kickboxing classes, and keeping up with my training schedule which goes as follows:

Sunday: push-ups
Monday: push-ups, 1 hour CrossFit, 90 minutes of running
Tuesday: push-ups, 2 hours of aerial silks
Wednesday: 2 hours of kung fu, 1 hour of running
Thursday: push-ups, light training for 1-2 hours
Friday: push-ups, light training

Cycling gets strewn about daily, because it's how I get around. I generally do a bare minimum of 10km a day. I'd do heavier training on Friday except that I'm competing again on Saturday in the Masters division of the UG Series.

I have another Masters competition in mid-August (Masters Mettle), a Strongman training seminar the week after, and then I'm off to hike the Inca Trail in Peru!

I'll be doing my push-ups all the while, except possibly while on the Peruvian trip, because I just don't know how feasible that will be. I'll continue where I left off upon my return, though.

Holy crap.

And yes, there are more competitions upon my return. I'm thinking of at least volunteering at a local zombie race. I'll be a zombie. Braaaains....

I still want to take up rock-climbing, but am not sure how to slot that in. There's only so much of me to go around, after all, and I still do other things, like teach, dance, sing, paint, write, cook, sleep, etc.

Rest Day!

Jun. 1st, 2012 01:16 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
I've been seriously busting my ass lately, and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. As of July, I'm signed up for two aerial silks classes each week, on top of the usual running, cycling, dancing, and three or four CrossFit workouts. I'm trying to figure out where to stick the rock climbing I want to do, too.

Today is a scheduled rest day, since I am doing a mountain race tomorrow (my first race since I was in grade five, I think). But I can't stand not doing something, so I figured I'd do a bit of a challenge over on FaceBook. For every "like" I get, I've been doing five situps. At last count, there are 64 likes.

Here I am, banging out the first 100 situps.

Between sit-up bouts, I'm doing housework. Rarr!
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
My plague is leaving. Sort of.

Ends up I have a wicked ear infection, so I'm sure hoping the antibiotics kick in, pronto. My balance is off just the teensiest bit, enough to make me look like a tipsy person trying not to look tipsy, and mostly succeeding. The earache of the other night had best not make a return, or I might be pulling a Van Gogh. In the meantime, I have one seriously crappy symphony playing in my ears. The tinnitus needs some music lessons. The crackling and whistling is quite noisome.

I've had perverse cravings to do handstands, but have been resisting them on account of putting my head down throws everything off kilter and just plain feels terrible. I went in to the gym yesterday and was able to climb the ropes without any difficulty, a few low-weight squats, presses, and deadlifts, but one-legged bodyweight squats were a bit too much for my weakened lungs, and I knew it was time to pack it up and go home. I simply cannot exert myself much, right now. Bah, I say. Bah. Regardless, tomorrow is aerial silks day. If I can climb a rope, I should be able to climb the silks.

Today was terribly unproductive, but I don't mind too much. I got a huge amount of work done the other day, so I think I can bank those hours for today, so to speak.

I just put in an order for a bunch of new knee-high socks from Sock It To Me, which is the first online sock shop I've found which doesn't charge an exorbitant amount to ship to Canada. Hallelujah! Apparently, I have the reputation at my CrossFit club as the one in the funky socks. I'm ok with that. I've always liked wacky hosiery. I like wearing long socks to the gym, because they protect my calves from getting rope burn on all those rope climbs I like to do.

I took a picture today of my guns before all this inactivity has my wee muscles fall off.

[Mini gun show]

3 2 1 GO!

May. 8th, 2012 02:46 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
On Saturday I did my first-ever timed 5 km run. I'm not going to win any races. I was the slowest person who did the run by far. BUT, I am pleased. I didn't have to stop even once. I didn't even need to slow down. And at the end, I was fresh enough to put on a block-long sprint and finish in 35:51. I know now I was overly cautious in my cadence, but since it was my first time, I didn't really know how to pace myself. Lance, the CrossFit running coach, was impressed by my time, and says I should be able to shear it down to 30 minutes by October.

Here's our running group about five minutes after I finished the course. I pretty much crawled into position.

I was afraid I might run something like this camel, but apparently my form looks pretty solid.

Behind this cut lie photos.... )
shanmonster: (Default)
Hi. I haven't been here in a while. Time to fix that.

I've been been excruciatingly busy. I'm taking classical voice lessons, and am starting up with musical theory again. I'm doing much better with it than I thought, because I haven't forgotten nearly as much as I was afraid I had. I look forward to being able to sight read music again. Right now, I'm sounding melodies out slowly, kinda like learning to sight read words the Sesame Street way.

I've also been continuing with my china painting class. My painting style in this is surprising me. It's completely different from any other paintings/drawings I've done in the past. I'm currently working on a teapot. It's not done yet, but here's where it stands after about two months of work:

Read more... )
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Yesterday, I completed my 100-day burpee challenge. Technically, I should have completed it on Sunday, but I had a stomach flu on day 93/94, and there's just no way I was going to do them in that state. By the strict rules of the challenge, I was supposed to make up for the two missing days plus do 95 on the 95th day, but considering I'd already done an enormous workout that day and was still recovering, I figured, bite me, challenge. Purists would say I cheated, but they can bite me, too. Heh....

Six months ago, burpees were my most dreaded exercise. I loathed them. Doing 5 left me staggering and heaving like a horse with its wind broken. Burpees still wear me out, but I can do about 15 at a stretch before really wanting to stop. And as soon as I get my breath back, I can go right back to them. Doing the 100 yesterday was no big thing. I would not have believed that possible a year ago.

The two hardest days were the day before the flu made me take a break (doing burpees with what feels like half-formed churning concrete in your guts is horrid), and the second competition date for the CrossFit Opens, where I did 30 45-lb snatches (that sounds so dirty) and 8 75-lb snatches. I actually had to bribe myself to do my burpees that night. Snatches plus burpees is a cruel combination. Sadistic, even.

And yeah, I'm participating in the CrossFit Opens this year. I have no illusions that I'll be finishing anywhere in the top 25%, but I'm challenging myself to do my best. The first round was burpees. I did 65 burpees in 7 minutes. I'd hoped I'd do better, but my asthma was giving me grief that day. I can't be too disappointed, considering my lack of burpee acumen last year.

The third round of the competition is being announced tonight. I will be attempting whatever it is tomorrow afternoon. The suspense is killing me!

Now that I'm through with the burpee challenge, I want to repeat the challenge, but with pushups this time. Pushups aren't nearly as physically demanding as burpees, but my technique could use some tweaking. The challenge will do this wonderfully. I'll wait for [ profile] knightky to finish his challenge (he has a few days left), and then we'll start them together. Anyone else want in on this? We can keep one another motivated.

(By the way, you've probably seen all those motivational posters and such that say you can regret not having worked out, but you'll never regret having worked out. The exception to this is when you have the flu. Specifically, ass flu. Just so you know, and don't go there....)

Also, this picture makes me laugh:

shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
I wrote up an hour-long bodyweight-based strength routine for a personal training client who is interested in developing strength specific to make her a better dancer. She's a novice dancer. Here's what I came up with for today. I include this in case you're interested in trying it yourself.

1 minute jumping jacks
1 minute seal jacks
1 minute active runners stretch
1 minute slow side lunges (dragons)

Routine (x2 or x3, depending on endurance):
1 minute lunges
1 minute squats
1 minute 1-leg Romanian deadlifts
1 minute 1-leg Romanian deadlifts
2 minutes sustained Egyptian shimmy
1 minute bridge
1 minute side plank
1 minute side plank
1 minute plank

Static stretches at end

The plan is to strengthen her core and to begin developing more explosive strength through her legs. I'm starting off a little slow, and will be ramping her up to do more intensive work in the weeks to come. I'll be able to gauge her progress with these exercises, and figure out how to scale them up or back as necessary.

I'll be changing this around from week to week, but I think it's a pretty good start. The other training day is based on dance technique. Since our training days are back to back, I am only doing the strength training on one day, so she has recovery time.
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
It was what? Two weeks ago? Maybe three? Not that long ago, anyhow, that I first climbed a rope.

Yesterday, I climbed a 20' rope four times. Last night, I decided to look up rope climbing online, and I found this link: Rope Climbing, how to climb a rope efficiently (if you can find a rope...).

Today, on my very first attempt, I managed to climb halfway up the rope using just my arms.

I didn't even clue in until I was 10' up that I'd done it.

Holy shit.

I shimmied back down, and then repeated the climb four more times.

It wasn't easy. Oh no. But it also wasn't impossibly hard. If I practice this every other day, I think that within a month, I'll be able to arm-over-arm myself all the way to the top.

I've got this.

[The view from the bottom]


Jan. 25th, 2012 09:53 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
So this is what I finally learned to do on Sunday.

[Learning the ropes]

This was me at noon today. What seemed impossible before this week is now easy. I levelled up all of a sudden.

Also, I'm doing weighted glute ham raises, now. Whoa.

I'm still waiting on being able to do push-ups with good form, but I expect it will happen in the not too distant future.

Oh yes, and today is day 60 of the 100 day burpee challenge. I've yet to miss a day.

One more thing.... This is what I did on Saturday.

shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Earlier this year, in an almost unprecedented event, I set actual fitness goals for myself. This month, I achieved one of them. I can now do glute hamstring raises without it feeling almost impossible. In case you don't know what they are, they look like this:

One of my other goals is to be able to do numerous pistol squats with relative ease. I'm not there yet, but there's a decent chance I might be, by the end of the year.

For the past two years, I've had a recurring issue with my lower back/glute area. It made me stop weight training for quite a while, because it was such a bad issue, that it was making even basic hip slides and hip circles--fundamental movement from my dance--painful and poorly executed. I discovered that deadlifts were making it worse, and even though it's one of my favourite lifts, I stopped doing it.

After several months, and many therapeutic massage treatments, I thought the problem went away. And then, two weeks ago, the stupid thing flared up again while doing deadlifts at CrossFit.

I was pretty worried by this. I went for more massage therapy, and then to visit a physiotherapist who specializes in movement analysis. After lots of range of motion experimentation, he found out the issue. Apparently, I am much stronger and much more flexible than the average person. I have a slight discrepancy, with one hip being stronger than the other, and one side more flexible. Because all the surrounding muscles are nice and strong, and because my flexibility, even on my stiff side, is still pretty darned good, my body was able to compensate and cheat without me even noticing it. The cure for this is single-legged training. So I'll be focusing on stuff like pistol squats, single-leg lunges, single-leg deadlifts, etc. on my non-CrossFit days. This is supposed to iron out the problem.

Tomorrow is my first training day with the physiotherapist. It's pretty neat that this coaching counts as physiotherapy and is therefore covered by my health insurance. I lucked out.

So yeah, my physio just might get me doing multiple pistol squats. And then I'll be two goals down....

CrossFit has been great. It's been helping me achieve goals I never even thought to set.... like doing 100 pull-ups in a day. Sure, they might be assisted pull-ups, but still. Damn. Oh yes, and I can do some pretty kick-ass burpees, now. I still think burpees suck, but at least I can make 'em look good for a while.

Well, Shit.

Nov. 8th, 2011 07:51 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Thursday night is my last bootcamp class. Damn. I really liked that job.

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