What I’ve Been Up To (And Down From)

It has been such a long time I wrote this blog that a lot has happened. To point out that I have done something else than just sleeping and feeling awful I wanted to share some highlights from this year 🙂 . I’m blessed with lots of friends and possibilities to do all kinds of fun and interesting stuff as long as I have some energy and a chance to rest enough afterwards. I’m not giving up on trying to live my life even when my adrenal insufficiency makes it difficult. But I do have to say I never thought or understood how tired one can become when pregnant! If AI exhaustion was bad, then this… More times I can count I’ve literally fallen on the sofa or bed, just to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, or have my feet give up under me completely. No amount of willpower could keep me awake and functioning.

Me with Anni celebrating her book launch on February ❤

On Feb I had my 35th birthday (that I spent working) but before that I had the chance to go and celebrate my former coach and friend, Olympic athlete and weightlifter extraordinaire Anni Vuohijoki’s book launch. Anni published her first book, Voima kanssamme (Power with Us) this year and yes, it’s a great book and especially I recommend it to all women who are interested in becoming strong both mentally and physically in their lives ❤ .

I couldn’t have been happier for Anni when she won her first weightlifting European Championships medals this year – bronze on clean&jerk and on total ❤ ❤ !! She is an exemplary athlete with professional team supporting her and has made huge progress the whole time I’ve known her. She makes a great example that if you want to reach the top, you need to have everything in order – your health, nutrition, mental game, finances, great coaching on all aspects and still remember to have fun!

Anni also keeps an English vlog nowadays, go and check it out here !

Anni is simply the best !!<3

I’ve had lots of issues with my pregnancy that are still difficult for me to go through without crying. I will try to write about the health stuff later. But there was a scare that my baby wasn’t growing normally – there are still issues that are followed, and I had to change my maternity hospital because of not getting treatment and consultations I needed due to both my adrenal insufficiency and problems with extremely low blood sugar that caused symptoms and was one factor why I was unable to work. I got symptomatic hypoglycemic attacks they simply refused to study and treat and was forced to go to private doctors and registered dietitian to try and sort things out with my health. The mental strain was unimaginable and if I wasn’t fighting not only for myself but also for the sake of my unborn child I don’t know how I would’ve made it sane.

I also had troubles believing I was pregnant as I didn’t have a big baby bump until on my fifth month. Because of some suboptimal nutritional decisions made in the early pregnancy I gained almost 6 kilos in the first trimester (!!) and mostly felt like overweight person, not a pregnant woman. Also my placenta is placed very anterior so that I only started to feel real kicks on weeks 23-24 – I had only slight, weird, light touch sensations that could have been anything before.

I had to look at the ultrasound pictures over and over again to realize I was pregnant before the constant kicking started 🙂

On Easter, my Christmas came early when my favorite lecture team from Renaissance Periodization finally came to Finland to present all things related to recovery and nutrition for serious athletes ❤ . Science is truly stronger! Last time I saw Drs Israetel, Hoffman and Davis was on their London seminar two years ago. Read more on my trip on post “Nutrition, Training & Recovery” -seminar in London 🙂 .

Once again, the seminar was absolutely fantastic. I can wholeheartedly recommend everyone serious about their fitness and progress to check out RP’s website and especially their ebook section as well as RP+ membership!

As a RP fan who follows their work there wasn’t so much new to learn as for many others attending, but I got some cool new insights into volume landmarks in training and was able to ask tons of questions at their Q & A and also got them on video to share with my fellow fitness coaches on my fitness team Finnish Physique Academy with their permission. That was great! Especially I benefited from info about transitioning from diet to mass phase with female physique athletes and different methods of progress during a mesocycle when training petite females. I also got to ask questions my fellow coaches wanted to find out.

Dr. Mike tells more about MY favorite type of massing diet!

More on high carb, low fat massing:

Dr. Hoffman presents everything you need to know about recovery strategies!

To really learn all you can about recovery and adaptation and training volume, get RR’s books Recovering From Training and How Much Should I Train? as they are both golden!

Melissa’s diet presentations were great as well – especially the dieting mindset part! ❤
We had a great gang of eager students and simply the best teachers ❤ – and special thanks to my friend Ulrika and her husband for company during the course!

I have had issues with training as my tiredness and low mood have prevented me from doing as much as I would’ve liked, and then not accomplishing anything has made my mood even darker with lots of self accusations and shame. I know a lot of women are too tired to exercise as much as they’d like during pregnancy and I have my AI as complicating issue as well. If I was all fired up and energetic and feeling good I wouldn’t be on sick leave now would I?? But coming to terms that my brain wasn’t working at all and my body didn’t respond to my wishes was a tough thing. Having friends to cheer me up was really important. There were a lot of times I felt really alone and sad in Hamina, as I only have one close friend there and I was too tired to reach out to even her most of the time.

Luckily I have lots of good friends in the Helsinki metropolitan area I got to see every time I had energy to drive to stay with my mother in Espoo ❤ . We went to train and have lunch with my personal trainer friend and see a mutual friend’s gig in Helsinki with another. I’ve been to water running again – only once, but this week I’m going again with a friend to a nearby swimming hall. It also has outdoor swimming pool open in the summer and I’m already waiting anxiously to go! I’ve had troubles to go and do stuff by myself due to tiredness, brain fog and depression issues. Especially starting something has been almost impossible. I just procrastinate until forever, it seems.

A good meal after a good workout with a friend ❤
I had a chance to enjoy a friend’s gig at legandary Raffaello’s terrace in Helsinki with good company
Dance Storm, you rock !!

On Mother’s Day, we drove to Loviisa to visit my mother-in-law with my husband and the dogs. The weather was wonderful and afterwards we sat for a while in the city marina. We also visited the ruins of Loviisa bastioni, a fortress built in the 18th century.

The weather has been exceptionally warm and sunny for most of May here in Finland. Even warmer than in Spain I heard !! I don’t feel so good in high temperatures especially AI wise, so most of the time I try to spend the hottest hours indoors and go out later in the evening. We had a nice picnic with my hubby one day at local Pitkäthiekat (Long sands) and he took both Franz and Maksim swimming. Franz actually hates to swim but he can if he has to… Maksim seemed to enjoy his first dip in the ocean, though! Afterwards they both were satisfied as the grueling heat had gotten to them, and refreshed from their swim they played at the beach for a while. There is still birds’ nesting season and they were on leash and what a circus they made as they got tangled all over…

Franz and Maksim enjoying a wonderful Mother’s Day weather in Loviisa
Taking my little ones and my tummy out to check Loviisa bastioni with hubby ❤
Maksim after his first ever swim in the ocean (!)
In our first picnic this year enjoying the weather at the beach in Hamina ❤

These past two weeks have probably been my happiest during this pregnancy. I’m not crying anymore, and I feel I have more energy to do things. I still sleep about 12 hours per day, but I’m not as brain fogged all the time as I was and have been able to exercise more consistently 3-4 times per week at the gym and do some light walking as far as I can. I’ve started to get contractions and low back pain if I walk too much. But I’ll write about my pregnancy exercise routine more thoroughly next time!

Wishing you wonderful summery feelings,

xoxo,

Veera

Pullups And Downs

Winter has come to Finland and it’s great! I hope I’ll get to go downhill skiing this winter as I’ve missed it tremendously… I’ve been busy with work and workouts so I’ve yet again neglected writing. I’ve been great AI wise most of the time, though only with quite a big a dose of cortisone. But hey, at least I’m still standing :).

I’ve had a new hairstyle which simply I adore for two months now:

69 Eyes ❤ my hair ❤

We went to see 69 Eyes with my boyfriend when they played at quite a different venue than usually, Sellosali in Leppävaara, Espoo where I live. The gig was perfect for an adrenal insufficient listener as we got to sit and it started already at 7 PM instead of midnight :).

Training has gone really well. My massing phase is now over. I gained approximately 3-4 kilos in the 9 weeks of mass. At least some of it must has been muscle as I keep hitting new PR’s in the gym :). I’ve trained both powerlifting and weightlifting now, but for the next few months I’m going to concentrate more on powerlifting, and only doing weightlifting workouts once or twice per week instead of four.

Here’s a video of me practicing push jerk at CrossFit 8000 box where I train weightlifting:

 

I’m so happy I’ve also gotten better at pullups, though I struggle a bit with my added weight now after the mass season 😀 :

 

Now I’m off to bed. I had a terrific time at Endodays – the annual endocrinology conference in Finland – last week but I was totally wiped out afterwards and only slept and slept. I was dizzy and weak already after day one and had to leave for home already a little after noon on day two, but it was still worth it. I talked to an endocrinologist who gave a lecture regarding European Society of Endocrinology’s new Clinical Practice Guideline for Primary Adrenal Insufficiency and she agreed to come and give a lecture at our patient organisation’s event! 🙂

Completely wasted after Endodays
Completely wasted after Endodays

Wishing you all a wonderful, snowy wintertime,

xoxo,

Veera

A Little Celebration Is Quite In Order

Finally, here are the results from my diet. I couldn’t be happier 🙂 – fat loss 8.2% in ten weeks !! My fat percent 7.7 is misleading as only skinfold measurements are taken, the actual fat % is quite higher, but most important for me is that the measures are comparable. It’s cool how much better all my clothes seem to fit ❤

I used Renaissance Periodization’s Diet Auto Templates and I followed my plan 98% at least. No cheats or even cravings. My strength stayed about the same until week 8 of the diet. The last 3 weeks of my 10 week diet were pretty tough with extreme tiredness and brain fog. I had to updose my hydrocortisone as I otherwise would never have made it through my workouts, let alone been able to work at all. But in the end it was all worth it!

I think I’ve proven without reasonable doubt that even with adrenal insufficiency and difficult hypothyroidism you can absolutely lose weight and get into great shape!

Here are my BioSignature results:

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Now I’ve transitioned into mass gaining phase :). Damn, it’s good to EAT lots and lots of food for a change! I’d like to gain 3-5 kilos in the next 2-3 months. I follow RP’s mass gaining template, but in addition it’s ok to eat some extra treats like ice-cream etc. to get more calories in and indulge a bit from time to time.

 I’m currently training 5 times per week, 4 days are both weightlifting and powerlifting practice and one pure hypertrophy workout mostly for upper body. On Wednesday and Friday I have weightlifting school at Crossfit 8000 box. I has been so much fun to do weightlifting regularly again after the summer break! ❤ I think I also see some progress already with my technique as my weightlifting session volume has quadrupled from spring :).

I’ve still been somewhat tired – okay, that’s an understatement in a way that without stress dosing I wouldn’t be able to work even part time at the moment. I’ve filed for full disability for a year’s period from work insurance. We’ll see what the verdict is. My endo, professor Välimäki also thinks I need to lower my cortisone dose but if I try to work even 20 hours per week I’m not able to at the moment.

So far I’ve managed to do my work. Franz has been keeping me company <3. I need all the cheering I can get. Otherwise I love autumn, but the early morning wakings into cold and dark aren’t my favorite at all…

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Franz was really perky and “helped” me at work for a while…
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…until he got a little sleepy 😀

Besides my diet success, my boyfriend got as good results from his fat loss diet and is now in maintanance phase. This was a great reason to gather some friends over, eat tasty food (at last!), clink glasses and of course play Eldrich Horror! 🙂

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It was fantastic to get to eat this stuff again 🙂
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Playing Eldrich Horror is SOOO fun ❤
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My unfortunate character (K.I.A.)

Right now I’m trying very hard not to get sick. I feel a cold coming and my asthma is acting up a bit. Hopefully with some rest / light workouts and lots of vitamin C and zinc I can banish this nuisance soon.

xoxo,

Veera

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Dieting Tradeoffs

A couple of weeks ago I re-listened to an older episode of Sigma Nutrition Radio podcast where Danny Lennon interviewed John Berardi, founder and CEO of Precision Nutrition. If you haven’t heard of them, DO check them out at www.precisionnutrition.com :).

You can listen the episode here: SNR #93: John Berardi, PhD – Dieting Trade-offs, Applying Science to Practice & the Future of Nutrition

I’ve been a big fan of Precision Nutrition since about 2008 when I first learned about them. I admire the scientific, but personalized approach they have about nutrition, and that general wellbeing and psychology are taken into account regarding nutrition and diet. I’ve previously participated in PN’s Lean Eating Coaching Program and am actually in the midst of doing their Nutrition Coaching Level 1 Certification. Though I’ve really been short of time in advancing with it as I’ve had so much work and other commitments to do – but I’ll get back to it one day :).

What I wanted to write about was the idea of trade-offs. Nothing in life worth pursuing comes without a price tag. Want to be a doctor? You have to be willing to skip parties and other fun events in order to study for hours almost every day during prep and in med school. And – surprise – even after graduating you have to give up some of your free time to keep up to date on latest science and treatment advancements. If you’re more interested in making easy money and having lots of time for hobbies and family, you probably won’t become a professor of neurosurgery.

Want to learn a new skill? Even though the 10,000 hour rule has at least partly been debunked, truly mastering something will take years and thousands of hours of commitment. It’s time away from something else. I know I’ll never be a great, or even good, krav maga practitioner, as I so rarely have time to train it anymore, but I’ll settle for mediocre (at best). Powerlifting and weightlifting are more important to me right now. Though I still wouldn’t miss the annual Utti summer camp for any price :).

What’s important to me might not mean so much to you. This is just the same with nutrition. We all don’t need to eat like a bodybuilding pro or a figure competitor during his/her last weeks of contest prep. My Renaissance Periodization’s diet plan has proved it.

Most people can achieve a toned “beach body” look without eating only tuna, rice and broccoli, weighing every morsel of food and losing their sanity. But don’t think you can look great – or be healthy – if your diet resembles a heart attack on plate…

Image source (and recipe for anyone interested in obtaining coronary heart disease)

But, if you’re fantasizing about totally ripped muscles with bulging veins, washboard abs, absolute quad definition or maybe even striated glutes, you’re gonna have suffer for it. It usually means dealing with hunger, abstaining from party food and eating out – even following IIFYM. You have to be ready to trade feeling good to looking good. In order to make informed decisions you have to be able to jot down the positives and negatives that follow that decision. Precision Nutrition has made a clear infographic to detail some of the things that are needed to achieve a certain level of “leanness”. Of course there are always some outliers, but for the majority of people out there I think this is a very good example :).

Here’s the infographic from PN’s article “The Cost Of Getting Lean”:

You can read the full article here.

I started my cutting diet partly because my boyfriend decided he should go on a diet and I wanted to support him. I also felt I was finally ready to do it. This spring was extremely fatiguing both mentally and physically. Before summer I wasn’t in a place to give attention and energy to a follow a strict nutrition plan. I feel I did exactly the right thing when I concentrated only on two nutrition goals: eating enough veggies and fruit and getting enough quality protein to prevent my health and muscles from deteriorating when my illnesses flared up and I couldn’t work out regularly. But now I am ready, and have been following my diet program 100%, and with great results to share soon :). 

I don’t – yet – have definition in my abs, but my clothes fit better day by day and I feel more comfortable in my body – more like an athlete. My performance is constantly improving. Right now I’m more than willing to trade eating ice cream and not having to count my macros to that great feeling and improved esthetics.

What are your goals, and what are you willing to trade to reach them?

xoxo,

Veera

Flying High

Two weeks ago I got completely taken by surprise by additional stressors and for the first time in my life had to inject Solu-Cortef. It was a really scary experience, but now I feel much better, and my adrenal insufficiency is in control again. But lately I’ve been battling with extreme tiredness and depression. Getting back to work has been a challenge with my tiredness and brain fog and I’ve worried about my performance. I want to be the best doctor possible for my patients so I have to admit being scared if I can make it. So far additional rest has helped but I hope I can work little less in the future to help me recover better.

After all the hardship, last weekend really helped to lift my spirits – literally. We rented a plane and went flying with my boyfriend (he is a flight instructor) ❤ . We flew from Malmi airport in Helsinki to Espoonlahti and back over Helsinki’s center and then over Emäsalo island toward Porvoo, admiring the beautiful southern coastal archipelago :). It has been a while since we went flying together and the weather and my mood couldn’t have been better! ❤

Ready to go from Malmi airport
…and we’re up there!
Somewhere between Helsinki and Porvoo, over the Gulf of Finland
The center of City of Helsinki
Suomenlinna castle

Since my near adrenal crisis I had to take a week off from training, but now I’ve been back at the gym and really enjoying my workouts. My bench totally sucks at the moment and I have to do something about it but I trust coach Anni will help me with that :). Now I’m anxiously waiting for the autumn’s weightlifting school to start in September.

Exercise has always been the most effective anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medicine for me. Besides endorphins released during exercise, the ability to use my body, the feeling I get from being able to lift heavier weights and progress with my technique, lifts my mood. So far in my life I’ve had bad days and bad lifting sessions, but still I’ve never walked out of the gym unhappy.

Keep your spirits high,

xoxo,

Veera

Bench Presses And Benchmarks

Wow, I’ve now written this blog for a whole year! Thanks everyone for following my journey – I hope to continue writing about my life, training and of course adrenal insufficiency for a long time… 🙂

First off, I have some amazing news: my coach Anni Vuohijoki will be lifting in the Rio Olympic Games!! I’m so happy for her, she really has deserved her spot among Finland’s Olympic Team :). She’s such a great athlete whose dedication to weightlifting and overall attitude I admire and look up to. ❤ So follow women’s 63 kilos class in Rio! 🙂

Follow Anni here:

https://www.facebook.com/annivuohijokiweightlifting/

http://anni.vuohijoki.com/

My training during the past month has gone really smoothly and I’m extremely satisfied with my consistency there. I haven’t really missed any workouts and have mostly hit the designated numbers in all my lifts. Only in the last week before my deload I missed my bench press 5 x 10 with 45 kilos and back squats 5 x 10 with 60 kilos. Partly that may have been due to the fact that I’ve now been dieting for the last 4 weeks, with good results overall. My deadlift hasn’t suffered at all, my mood has been good and I haven’t had any hunger pangs or cravings. What I’m especially happy about is that my boyfriend has been dieting with me and that has made the whole process so much easier as we’ve prepped meals together and have been able to support each other ❤ .

We’re both following Renaissance Periodization‘s Auto Diet Templates. I’ve written about RP before, lastly about my trip to London to the Training & Recovery Seminar. I can wholeheartedly recommend RP’s diet templates – both for massing and cutting – for any serious athlete out there. As their motto says, “Science Is Stronger” :). I’ve never felt better dieting down and the auto templates are so easy to use – my boyfriend who has never (truly!) followed any diet program got the gist of it really quickly and has progressed from total newbie to walking automatic macro calculator… 🙂

I will tell more about my cutting progress after I get some caliper measurements done next week. I’m excited to see how my skinfold measurements have progressed besides my weight.

I recently read a great article at Strengtheory.com about a bench press technique tweak that really “clicked” when I tried it at my last benching session. The bar really seemed to move so much more effortlessly. I usually lift alone and at the commercial gym where I train there aren’t any people well versed in powerlifting who could look and comment on my technique. I try to read articles about lifting technique and watch Youtube videos of good lifters and pick up clues how to better my lifts. This is one of the best enlightened moments since learning how to arch my back and pull my lats back – I was a flat bencher just two years ago…

So what’s the ado all about? Bar movement pattern. I’ve always been pressing the bar straight up. But I now learned that the most efficient bar path – and one all advanced level lifters seem to use – is back (toward your face) and up. Here’s the whole article: Fix Your Bar Path For A Bigger Bench.

I also suggest you read How To Bench – The Definitive Guide – it’s pure diamond and completely free! Greg Nuckols is a genious – a great writer and even greater powerlifter 🙂 I love his stuff and try to learn as much as I can from his articles and watch his lifts.

Now we’re spending my rest day chilling out with Franz at my mom’s backyard :). He’s now fully recovered from his wrist surgery and we’ve been enjoying longer walks in the beautiful Finnish nature again ❤ .

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After I’ve gotten some much needed R&R, in the beginning of next week I’ll hitting the gym and next weekend hitting other people as it’s yet again time for the annual Krav Maga Summer Camp at Utti…!!

Take care,

xoxo,

Veera 

The Winning Attitude

While my physical state has been a mess, I’ve tried to focus more on my mental game. In sports and in life, I believe in having the right attitude. What you get out of life depends highly on how you see yourself and the world around you, and how you interpret events that happen. I’m no way an expert in living a perfect life – during this year’s time as I’ve written this blog, I’ve stumbled and fallen countless times. But I’ve always believed I will – and always have – made it through the hardships.

I’ve been a fighter all my life. I’m just not mentally built to give up. Ever. But I also know I can learn to better my mindset even more. That is why I go to a cognitive therapist. I read psychology books. And just recently I’ve met with a mental coach who I have now begun to see regularly. I will write a longer post about that later. So far after three appointments it’s been beyond great and I know I’ll benefit immensely from that cooperation both as an aspiring athlete and otherwise personally :).

I’m no sports or any other psychologist, but I want to share what I think are some qualities that have helped me in my life and in sports. What makes someone a winner?

  • Winners have a positive outlook. You have to focus on opportunities instead of possibilities of failure. If you think negative thoughts you will succumb to fear and procrastination and often they will become self actualizing prophecies. Knowing yourself and your abilities and giving yourself the credit you deserve doesn’t mean you are cocky or overconfident. Believing in yourself is necessary for success. If you don’t have faith in yourself, how can you ever win when you are your greatest enemy? That doesn’t mean you turn blind eye to things you need to develop to get even better. But don’t think about those qualities as a weaknesses or they are bound to become just that. Think that they are things you have possibilities of greatest improvement!
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  • Winners takes responsibility for their actions. Don’t play the blame game or succumb to self pity and whining. Okay, you’ve had a rough time lately. I sure as hell have. There are things that I’ve had no control over such as my mother’s and Franz’s illnesses, troubles in personal life, health problems and constant worrying about money. What I’ve had control over, instead, have been what I do with my free time and how I prioritize things in my life. I could have done better in some aspects but overall I’ve given myself as much time as I could to train and rest. In the future I plan step up my game even further by putting sports into a greater priority than before. That means I have make some decisions about work and other commitments to make more productive training possible.
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  • A winner never gives up. If you never quit trying, there are no failures, only setbacks. The road to success can be long and windy, full of bumps and detours. Sometimes you may even get pushed back or sideways by heavy wind or have to stay put and rest for a while before continuing your journey. But as long as you continue taking that one step at a time forward you will never lose. For me, giving up is as unimaginable concept as if you’d try to tell me black is white. It’s incomprehensible. If life knocks you down, get back up (and kick it in the nuts! 🙂 ).
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  • Winners don’t take the easy way. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you shy away from necessary practice that seems like too much work or too intimidating, you’re not going to get as far and high as you could’ve. I don’t always look forward to going to the gym. Hard squat sessions twist my guts and make my heart pound in fright beforehand. I still go and get the work done, one set at a time.
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  • Winners know they have power over their mind and can change their perception of things to their advantage. Your thoughts are just that – thoughts. Words. You can change your inner talk to be more positive. I feel I’m completely out of my depth regarding weightlifting. Especially snatch is a really difficult lift for me, even frightening. I feel extremely self-conscious when snatching. I fear I look silly and everyone will laugh at my technique. I fear failing my lifts. I could let this become a problem for me and start to avoid the snatch because I’m afraid. That would lead into a deleterious circle where I avoid practicing the lift, not progressing with it, getting more and more afraid, annoyed and miserable, feeling like a failure. Instead, I’m always trying to think how much I love lifting and that every time I get under the bar I’m getting better. I look forward to practice. I remind myself that only by trying – and failing, if need be – I’m gaining more experience.

Here are two books I’ve read the latest and can recommend if you want to in read and learn more. Especially interesting is the first one which is already a bit of an oldie but extremely good. The mental coach I go to also uses hypnosis which is covered in the book – very fascinating, and it works ❤ !

Decide To Win – Rex Johnson & David Swindley

Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence – Gary Mack

What do you think are the mental qualities of a winner?

Wishing you all a happy and victorious weekend,

xoxo,

Veera

Wouldn’t It Be Good..

..If I didn’t have the need to compare myself and my performance to others? To be able to do my own thing within my limits and be satisfied?

I had pretty bad muscle cramps as well as little numbness in my hands and feet. My thigh and shoulder muscles would twitch and fasciculate on their own. I asked for some more exotic labs and found out I had hypophosphatemia. So now I got even more blood work taken as well as other tests such as 24 hour urine collection to find out the reason for the low phosphate. The situation’s a bit better as I’ve been eating loooots and lots of cottage cheese :). But the problem can occur again if the reason behind goes untreated. Or course the endocrinolgists’ first suggestion was that the muscle cramps probably have nothing to do with the hypophosphatemia but instead I have subclinical hyperthyroidism 😀 – subclinical because my free T4 and T3 were well within normal values to their disappointment…

I made it back to the gym this week and have started to slowly inch my way back into the training groove. It hasn’t been easy. I’m dead tired since I got back to my normal HC dose. I’m still brain fogged and find it hard to concentrate and at the gym, especially in this heat, I’m dizzy and my heart races. I guess I feel bitter at times that I can’t perform as well as others and can’t cope with this chronic illness shit.

I’ve started to do some weightlifting style warm-up before my powerlifting practice. Damn this summer heat, my illness and absence from the gym lately have made this into the warm-up from hell…

I feel so out of place and inadequate with weightlifting still and I only dare to practice snatch with a stick as my normal gym doesn’t have women’s Oly bars. I do 10x snatch from hang, mid-thigh and below knees and then 6-8x cleans from mid-thigh and below knees and split jerks with 20 kg bar.

Tonight, my training was all over the place, not according to my plan at all. First the squat racks were occupied and I had to bench press first. I did 4 sets with 35 kilos. I was supposed to do 10 reps but my triceps really started to give out and I only got 9 reps and 8 reps in the last two sets.

I was also supposed to do back squats 4 x 10 reps with 52.5 kilos. But damnit, I was really weak and wobbly and dizzy and all weird shit and actually all I wanted to do was quit. I got 9 reps in the first set but nearly passed out. I had to take it easier so I only squatted 6 reps in the rest of the sets, though it didn’t feel easy at all…

Last I punished my puny triceps with dips (had to do them in the counterweight machine) for 4 sets and finished my workout with cable pushdowns for 4 x 12.

I must be in a more deep mental and physical burn out than I thought. Even though I’ve rested I don’t feel rested at all. I feel anxious and fearful about the future and also about today, this daily life. Thinking if I can make it. Not all the time, but often. But I have to try and keep on fighting. I have no other choice. I’m not a quitter and I can’t see a future where I wouldn’t lift. This is what I do. This keeps me sane.

At least yesterday I had fun as we played Eldritch Horror with my boyfriend, my friend’s hubby and his friends at our place. It was long, intense and desperate 6 hours. Unfortunately we were unable to stop the dreadful Ancient One from rising – so sorry folks for the apocalypse, it was us… 🙂 I was mentally a wreck afterwards and slept nearly around the clock.

Franz is recovering well and anxious to get moving more. Though at this heat, even with his Mexican heritage, he too likes to chill and sleep in the cool indoors…

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xoxo,

Veera

Rest And Recovery For The Whole Family

Franz’s surgery went well and he’s recovering – almost too well! He should have bed / cage rest for whole five weeks before check up but already he’d very much like to play and run around as usual. I’m thinking we’re going to have soooo much trouble with my little boy…

Poor little Franz the night after his surgery
Franz depressed and bored with nothing to do but rest…
…and already coping…umm… a little bit too well…

I wish I could say I’m as good as my beloved puppy. But I’m not. I simply crashed. Right now I’m on sick leave until end of next week and Midsummer’s Eve but I can’t really say if I’m up to working until much, much later…  😦

On Tuesday I went to swim with my friend. I was already exhausted from the weekend even though my mother had helped with Franz as he was already anxious with his movement restrictions and was crying a lot at nights. I slept and slept. I was supposed to train with my coach but I was so tired I only did some Oly technique practice with bar for 15 minutes and called it a day.

On Tue evening, I went to see Muse at Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena. My friend had an extra ticket and was so nice to try and cheer me up after really hard time I’ve had recently ❤ . I haven’t listened to them a lot, but I can say I’m a new Muse fan now! The show was great and they had an amazing live presence :). I really enjoyed the experience and had a wonderful time there. I would’ve liked to go and continue the evening with my friend and her brother and his fiance, but I was simply way too spent for that.

Pictures from Muse’s show:

On Wednesday I didn’t make it anymore. I had pushed my body that one inch too far. I was beyond exhausted. The brain fog was unimaginable. I couldn’t get my mind working. My muscles cramped and I was dizzy, weak and nauseous. This all even though I had slept, tried to rest as much I as could and had taken extra hydrocortisone. I only wanted to cry and stop existing. I knew I couldn’t handle work – I already had been on leave since start of June and had had to cancel my trip to EURORDIS Summer School in Barcelona. I wasn’t feeling any better, only getting worse. I was deeply afraid I’d make a mistake at work and a patient could suffer. And I was so tired I almost had a panic attack just thinking that I had intense two weeks of work ahead of me. So now I’m resting at home. I haven’t been able to do much more. I’m taking tons of HC and just lying on the sofa. I hope things will get better.

Me after Muse’s gig
20160616_044621.jpg
Me after a sleepless night and total collapse in exhaustion

I know the last few months have taken such a hard toll on me that this collapse was probably inevitable. Now that my mother’s move, Franz’s surgery and my travels are over for now, I truly wish I can finally recover and have the willpower and wisdom to give myself enough time to do so before returning to work. The feelings of guilt and failure that I wasn’t strong enough, tough enough, to handle all the stress and work have been at times overpowering. I’m just happy I have such great bosses at work who know about my illness and understand that right now I’m not able to function and need time off.

I wish I’ll soon be as perky as Franz already is ❤

Hopefully my next post will already be more lighthearted and with happy news,

xoxo,

Veera

“Nutrition, Training & Recovery” -seminar in London

Last weekend I attended “Nutrition, Training & Recovery” seminar by Renaissance Periodization’s ultratalented team of Dr’s James Hoffman and Mike Israetel in London.

And – WOW. This broscience attack squad completely overloaded my neurons with knowledge so that I may have to deload a full month before I recover from the information assault… I can’t truly express the extent of my happiness and gratitude for this experience. Actually, I’m almost speechless with awe, and that doesn’t happen very often to me :).

I was so deeply enthralled by the presentations I seem to have only hazy memories of the two seminar days. Without my notes and the picture below to prove it I probably could’ve wondered whether this was all a dream… I’m extremely thankful for our wonderful hosts Steve Hall and Mike Samuels for arranging the seminar!

Me with RP’s Melissa Davis, James Hoffman and Mike Israetel ❤

Dr. Mike Israetel is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science in Temple University, a bodybuilder, powerlifter AND a Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu grappler 🙂 – I’d really hate to wrestle this guy… Though I wouldn’t dare challenge him intellectually, either – his formidable wit combined with clear and precise presentation skills and great humor simply makes this girl all humble and week on the knees… 😉

I also enjoyed immensely from Dr. James Hoffman‘s presentations, especially regarding recovery. With adrenal insufficiency my recovery resources are seriously limited, and while taking good care of nutrition and seeing to that I train smart but hard, it’s extremely important for me to know how I can enhance recovery. He was very kind to talk with me in more detail about cortisol and it’s role in recovery processes, as well.

It was great that James had brought his girlfriend, Melissa Davis with him as she was such a sweet and smart person, I was so happy to get to meet her :). She’s also part of team Renaissance Periodization, a PhD of Neurobiology and Behavior and a Jiu-Jitsu grappler as well – amazing! She also co-authored RP’s great nutrition and diet book for women, more on that below :).

Men and horses, prick up your ears as Dr. Hoffman cracks the science behind recovery!

As a whole, we attendees were a very strength training -oriented and enthusiastic group and were treated royally with absolutely fantastic lectures, for example about proper nutrition, workout principles for muscle hypertrophy and planning a proper strength training program and yearly planning for athletes.

Muscle hypertrophy – it’s magic ( if you’re not Gandalf or Brad Schoenfeld 😉 )

If you want to learn more about how to perform better, I can’t recommend highly enough that you go and buy the RP’s Scientific Principles Of Strength Training and Renaissance Diet ebooks. Also, a must have for us ladies, and for anyone who coaches women, is their Renaissance Woman nutrition ebook. I’m already anxiously waiting for the Recovery book Mike and James are currently writing…

The event was also videoed – thanks again to Steve Hall! Here’s a small taste of the wisdom we were treated with shared by Steve in his facebook page:

 

If you already don’t, immediately begin follow these extraordinary gentlemen as they share absolutely great info to fuel your fitness ambitions:

Steve Hall – Facebook – Macros, Bodybuilding & Powerlifting with Revive Stronger  /  http://revivestronger.com/ 

Mike Samuels – Facebook – Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting  /  http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/ 

Mike Israetel – Facebook

Renaissance Periodization – http://renaissanceperiodization.com/

What else did I do in London? Ummm… I slept :). Traveling with AI has previously lead to some near catastrophes even with someone accompanying me. Now I was abroad alone for the first time after my diagnosis so I had to consider my health and make sure I recovered well enough. I didn’t want to experience another near-crisis incident as last year in Copenhagen. (See Copenhagen Mania Part 1 and Part 2 and Pre-Crisis Symptoms And Adrenaline Rushes Part 1 and Part 2)

Well, this time overstressing myself was really not an issue. I was so worn out after both days I simply dragged my weary body to the hotel on autopilot as my neurons were crazily firing all over the place, and crashed on the bed. No wild partying as I fell asleep at 10 PM 😂😂. I have to admit I felt jealous and a bit depressed as I thought about other people – healthy and normal people – and what they would have done, or what would my old self have done when spending a weekend in such a fantastic city as London. But my life is what it is and having a poor-little-girl pity party wouldn’t have changed my circumstances one bit. We all have to make trade-offs of some kind in our lives. I needed to take good care of my wellbeing by sleeping enough so I was able to follow the great lectures we had and learn in order to become a better and wiser athlete.

At least I got to treat myself to a small but effective shopping spree as the seminar was held on Saturday and Sunday, but due to health reasons to get enough rest I had booked my return flight for Monday. I can just say I went totally wild in London’s premium sci-fi and fantasy bookstore Forbidden Planet <3. Later I completed maxing out my Visa and Master Card in Foyles’ flagship bookstore to get some new medicine and exercise science additions for my home library. My strength workout for the day was to carry all the books to the hotel :D. And as it was my last day in UK, and I had been a very good and clever girl with my macros, my diet was flexible enough to fit some Chinese delicacies as well as a “small” dessert ;)…

Lunch in Chinatown 🙂
The SMALL dessert
@Piccadilly in great weather
Leicester Square
Bought just a couple of books…

Overall, last weekend’s seminar was one of the the best I’ve ever attended. Period. And I proved to myself I can travel with AI – alone – and handle it. Though I missed my boyfriend on several occasions as we had so much fun the last time we were in London together and it would’ve been nice to share all my excitement and joy of new knowledge and all my new experiences with someone.

After getting back home I was crushed, though. It took me this whole week to get back to my feet. Literally. During the trip I had doubled my hydrocortisone, but after coming home when I tried to lower the dose I was wiped out. I could only sleep and lie on the sofa. Standing up I was dizzy, mildly nauseous and weak. My muscles cramped. I’m still taking 1.5x my normal HC dose but I hope I can soon go lower. So, traveling was nice for spirit, not so nice for body. I rest my AI case – pun intended.

But yesterday I finally got to the gym after a whole week’s break. And with luck this evening will be dedicated to deadlifting <3. I’m also soon meeting with my coach Anni to discuss our battle plan regarding rest of year 2016 – stay tuned! 🙂

xoxo,

Veera