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05-07-2014, 02:41 PM   #1
CrohnsChicago
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CrohnsChicago's Fitness Journey

Tonight is my first very serious commitment to better physical well being since crohn's. I have an appointment with a personal trainer for a physical assessment.

I've been in my first remission for some months now and my weight has fluctuated so much since my first flare in 2012. I have lost a lot of muscle mass. And now that I can eat again, I have a hard time balancing out my foods even when I make good choices. I have gained about 15lbs this Chicago winter (I was never a small crohn's patient) I'm now nearing 200lbs. and it concerns me because I am afraid if I don't take care of this it will trigger another flare somehow.

Thinking of how to explain all of this to the trainer. I don't want them to push me too hard or recommend things that I fear will trigger some discomfort but I do know that I have to make a change and take some chances.

Any who a little nervous and hoping to have some accountability support to get back to better health...wish me luck!
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Crohn's-Colitis May 2012
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05-07-2014, 02:54 PM   #2
Cat-a-Tonic
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Good luck, Chicago! For what it's worth, I haven't been assessed by a personal trainer but I have been assessed by a physical therapist. Like you said, I knew I had put on a bit of weight and lost some muscle mass, but I didn't think it was too terrible. I also figured she'd just assess my bad hip, but she assessed my whole body, and it wasn't pretty. My good hip was as weak as the bad, my knees were very weak, ankles, etc and I had very little muscle mass. My whole body needed help! It was horrifying and made me ashamed, but it was also that push I needed to start working out in earnest and take back some control over my body. So, even if the assessment with the trainer isn't particularly positive in terms of muscle mass and so forth, don't let that make you feel ashamed. Use it to push yourself forward towards better health. Good luck! I am sure you'll do great once you start getting more into fitness!
05-07-2014, 03:10 PM   #3
CrohnsChicago
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I totally forgot about my hips and knees! hahahaha

I also have a bad hip (I have no cartilage and it has a pin in it limiting my range of motion) and my knees are turning to crap since crohn's and steroids were introduced to my body.

You are right, I've mentioned my struggles and desires towards getting fitter a few times on the forum. If anything this will give me the rude awakening that I need to get on track and STAY on track. Maybe this thread should be renamed "Chicago's Exercise Diary"
Thanks for the support!
05-07-2014, 04:04 PM   #4
Cat-a-Tonic
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I'll be here to encourage you if you want to regularly provide fitness diary updates! I'm sure you've seen my exercise diary thread, I think it helps keep me accountable and it's also helpful to get feedback from others in that thread. It's definitely a good thing to keep a diary like that as long as you regularly update it.

Ouch, your bad hip sounds worse than mine. My bad hip has been tentatively diagnosed as, "Maybe some type of arthritis in the sacroiliac joint or maybe it was just a blur on the x-ray and we don't really know." (My quote, not theirs, but that's the gist of it!) I will say that physical therapy really helped me not only learn some exercises to help my hip, but it also helped me learn how to ease into a fitness regimen. It wasn't until I had the PT exercises pretty well down pat that I was brave enough to step into a gym and use the weight machines. I'm sure you know this already, but start slowly and listen to your body - those are the two most important things I have learned about exercise. On a bad day, my body will tell me to rest, and even though I want to go to the gym, I have to hold myself back and let myself heal. It's frustrating, there will be setbacks, but don't let them get you down or deter you from meeting your goals.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a ramble. Anyway, if you want somebody in your corner, I'm there! I'll be watching this thread for fitness updates from you.
05-07-2014, 06:24 PM   #5
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Good luck. Don't overdue it. People think they get in there they have to be intense. You don't need to go all out.
05-07-2014, 06:28 PM   #6
theOcean
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Aw, good luck, CC! I started working out recently with a personal trainer too, and it's been wonderful and I think it has been really improving my moods. I hope it goes well!
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05-07-2014, 09:51 PM   #7
CrohnsChicago
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Thanks everyone for the support!

Arthritis is not fun at all I know Cat. Sounds like the PT was successful at getting you on the right path. You are definitely a bit of a fitness inspiration on this forum! I will definitely do my best to go slow, I've got a lot to work on and want to do it right.


I did the assessment and I am in desperate need of some guidance to make this stick. Turns out I can barely do diddly squat when it comes to what they tested me on. We did some wall sits, step ups, squats, planks and lunges to test my core and lower body strength which I want to work on the most in addition to weight loss. I've got about 25lbs. shed/replace with muscle and get into a healthy body fat percentage. I will keep up with them for a while and see what type of improvements come because I want to be ready to run my first 5k that I registered for in August.

I'm actually looking forward to some weight and resistance training, I need to learn how to properly do these things. Changing the name of the thread to CrohnsChicago's Fitness Journey. I'll use it to try and keep tabs.

And it turns out explaining it wasn't too hard. Apparently my trainer's sister in law has crohn's. How is STILL that everyone knows someone yet we all never find each other?? LOL

(P.S.- I would like to make the following statement on record: I always have and I always will hate planks! lol )
05-08-2014, 09:25 AM   #8
Cat-a-Tonic
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As I said earlier, I was in a similar boat with regards to having too much flab and very little muscle mass when I started working out, too. (I had been on Entocort which made me gain weight, plus corticosteroids actually rob muscle mass from the body, so I was in rough shape even though I was in remission.) It took quite awhile for me to get the flab noticeably shifting into muscle - it was probably 6 or 8 months after I started working out that I noticed a difference in how I looked (I felt much better from the beginning though so it didn't bother me too much that it took so long to notice a difference on the outside - what's going on on the inside is more important to me). So, in a nutshell - don't get discouraged if you don't notice results within the first few months. Sometimes it takes awhile - just keep going! It sounds like you're in a good, realistic mindset about fitness and that's a great start.

Ha ha about hating planks. I don't mind them myself - with my severe GERD, I've been told to limit my abdominal exercises, but planks are fairly easy on me. I think it's because, with stuff like sit-ups, there's a lot of squeezing and relaxing going on with the abdomen and I think that kind of repetitive squeezing motion tends to send more reflux up my throat with each rep. At least with planks, there's no reps and even pressure the whole time so it doesn't make me reflux so much. That's the one abdominal exercise I can do even on an iffy GERD day.
05-08-2014, 10:31 AM   #9
CrohnsChicago
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Funny because in the beginning steroids gave me so much energy I couldn't sit still and wound up doing nothing but working out or walking about the city when I was well enough to do so. But that was only the first two times I was on steroids that happened. My body adjusted to that medication and that level of energy wasn't as apparent even though all of the restlessness was still there.

I've always been a soft girl since childhood but I currently have 35% body fat which isn't all that great so replacing some of that is key to my overall health.

I think my dislike for planks is more mental than anything. I loathe stationary and repetitive exercises. They mentally bore and stress me out a bit.

For example most people I talk to hate burpees but I love, love, love them for the variety and energy they offer lol. They are hard as hell to do after a while but I love them anyway hahaha! I also like the medicine ball alternating v-ups where you switch the ball with your hands and feet as well as any type of fast paced cardio. I've always been the type that needs variety and movement throughout my routines so I need someone to help me figure out things that would work to my advantage especially when it comes to strength training.

Also I have a habit where I constantly yawn when I exercise and stationary things make me focus on yawning even more . I heard that yawning during working out is a result of not getting enough oxygen into the body but I don't know how accurate that is even though it sounds logical. No one has ever had a confident answer for me when I ask about that.

Keeping my energy levels up is going to be important. Diet, rest and keeping my b12 injections coming routinely is a necessary. I always get a little extra fatigued around the time I am due to get my b12 from my doctor.

Tonight I'm going to try a few of those v-ups and continue on with my couch-to-5k journey. It's finally NICE in Chicago for a change with temps reaching the 80s for the first time since I don't know when. I want to attempt the run outdoors before the rain sets in.
05-08-2014, 10:59 AM   #10
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Couch-to-5k sounds like a great plan to me! And definitely take advantage of that nice weather while you can.

(Also, you talking about yawning made me yawn. )
05-08-2014, 04:28 PM   #11
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Chicago, with the yawning thing - I just saw an article on CNN about yawning. According to this, maybe your brain gets too hot?
http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/08/health...html?hpt=hp_t3
05-09-2014, 09:51 AM   #12
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oh wow that's interesting Cat. If that is true then I wonder how does that apply to those instances when you are just plain tired and can't stop yawning. Sometimes when I am dead tired I yawn consistently to the point where my eyes start to water. I could see how this theory would apply to exercise though. Man, I must be one real hot head (literally) according to this article!

Managed to get my Couch to 5k run in yesterday it was beautiful. Decided to make it an outdoors run along the lakefront. I've only ever attempted to run outdoors once before and while it felt good it only lasted two weeks because I pushed myself a bit too hard. I need to get used to running outdoors for this race. I will be more mindful and keep things slow and steady as I learn.

I was reading somewhere that especially if you are a beginner you should run even slower than you think you should. Whatever pace you are at naturally is probably too fast to start off with. Actively slowing down gives your body time to build lasting endurance and get used to the pavement and is more likely to help prevent injury down the road. I always felt that I should be running at a sprinters pace but this definitely felt good, I was able to keep momentum and follow through with my intervals more comfortably. It also gave me a chance to pay attention to my posture and breathing. I worked up a sweat for sure, but I didn't die in the process so that's good lol. Even took a slightly extended walk afterwards.

Stretched really well, I probably only jogged a good 8 minutes out of the 25 total in Day one of the program but the combination of run/walk and hilly pavement worked my core and lower body good.

Today is my rest day (or possibly Sunday). I may do some light cardio or strength training tonight if I am up to it but I will be playing a grown-ups game of tag tomorrow afternoon and will be getting plenty of running in for that! Lol.
05-09-2014, 10:53 AM   #13
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I believe I've read that when a person is falling asleep, their body temperature lowers slightly. So, if this theory about the brain being too hot causes yawning is correct - then perhaps the body and brain are slightly too hot to fall asleep, so yawning is essentially aiding the brain to cool down enough for sleep? That's just my guess.

That's really interesting about purposely running much slower than your natural pace when you're starting out. I think my natural pace is pretty slow to begin with, so I'd have to walk to start out with! My bad hip won't let me jog though so walking is pretty much it for me anyway. How'd your bad hip respond to your jogging yesterday?

I want to know more about this grown-up game of tag! It sounds like fun.
05-09-2014, 12:13 PM   #14
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That's a good point, the body does fall asleep once it is cooled down. Cat you're so S-M-R-T!

Hahaha we have a number of tag enthusiasts here in Chicago. There is one major game that happens each year (and is coming back later this month) where strangers from across the world come to Chicago and try to track down and tag each other out. All you are given is a map of the city where the game will be played and an armband to indicate whether or not you are a "tagger" or a "runner". Then you have to figure out what strangers on the street you either need to chase or run away from. Without going into great detail it get's pretty intense because no one knows each other so it's all very real in the sense of adrenaline and "fight or flight" responses lol. It's been pretty successful at scaring neighbors and onlookers who have no clue what is going on only see two or more people chasing each other on the streets and down alleyways. Tomorrow though I am playing a milder version of that game but with friends and acquaintances in a large park. I may know at least 10% of the people there

My hip held out okay yesterday. They were sore overall because of the strength exercises I did the day prior. I just make sure to stretch them out extremely well and if I feel any sort of odd discomfort I stop automatically whatever it is I am doing. Today my hip feels normal. I'm sure at some point in my lifetime I will need hip surgery but I am doing my best not to aggravate it and make that surgery a necessity sooner rather than later.
05-09-2014, 04:55 PM   #15
Cat-a-Tonic
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Wait, so the entire city is the tag game? Or just part of the city? Either way, that sounds insane (in a cool way) that you just look for random strangers on the street wearing the armband to tag or run from. There was something similar here on campus, some sort of zombie game, but it involved something like nerf guns or squirt guns I think? I never participated but I think the object was to shoot the zombies with your nerf/squirt gun, or if you got tagged by a zombie then you became a zombie too, something like that. But too many people called in complaints about "people running around with guns" (even though they were obviously not real) and the cops shut it down. Chicago's version sounds much better - I don't like squirt guns (particularly since they apparently played the squirt gun game in the winter! Brr!).

Yeah, I've read that about how the body sleeps once it's cooled down - I never fully believed it, though. I find I have to be warm to sleep, if I'm too cool I cannot fall asleep nor stay asleep. Even now that it's springtime and reasonably warm-ish weather, I still need to have warm fuzzy socks, sweatpants & a sweatshirt, and several blankets including my electric blanket on in order for me to sleep comfortably and stay asleep. Particularly if my feet get too cold, I keep waking up. So for me at least, it seems I need to be warm when I sleep. I may be totally weird though!
05-09-2014, 05:24 PM   #16
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The game is within a 5 mile radius of Chicago with multiple checkpoints you have to get to along the way towards your final destination. The goal is to get to all checkpoints and your destination without being tagged. The challenge comes int he fact that you cannot use cars, taxis, bikes or roller blades (Public transportation is okay although taggers could also be hiding on buses and trains as well). Taggers however can ride bicycles to chase you on the bus.

I think a part of it may also be that once we fall asleep our body temperature starts to drop even more and puts you into a deeper sleep (just my own theory on this). I also need to be comfy when I fall asleep, I need to be under warm covers but I can't have my feet covered or I feel like I am burning up and suffocating. But when I wake up in the middle of the night or early morning I feel like I am freezing even though the house is reasonably warm. That could just be my anemia/b12 issues enhancing that feeling as well, who knows.
05-09-2014, 07:14 PM   #17
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@CC: City-wide tag? I'm so jealous right now. The closest I ever got to that was doing something similar with my whole school, throughout this massive ravine system.

@Cat: I'm the complete opposite for sleep! I need everything to be as cold as humanly possible. Windows wide open when it's -40 in the winter, heat turned down. And even then I still get too hot. So the summer months will be interesting for sleep. That said, my SO tells me I have no understanding of my own body temperature. I'll tell him I'm freezing cold and he'll say I'm boiling hot and to get away from him. So: a mystery.
05-10-2014, 10:40 PM   #18
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Good luck!
05-12-2014, 10:48 AM   #19
Cat-a-Tonic
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Chicago, how did the tag game go? Have you guys been getting a lot of thunderstorms too? Hopefully the weather didn't affect your tag game.
05-12-2014, 11:24 AM   #20
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I was just typing when you posted!

Thanks KyleB! This weekends tag game was super fun! The weather was GORGEOUS on Saturday. I spent the entire day in the park...a good 9 hours. Even got a good book in and a nap before playing tag. There was about 20 of us and we hid in every corner of the park that we could find. At one point I went up to a family watching their kid in a t-ball game, explained what we were playing and asked if I could hide in the crowd and sit with them. So I won that round because they helped hide me and I was cheering on the t-ball game and that family's kid..no one ever found me hahaha! There were a lot of regular park visitors that day so a few other times I would just try to blend in and lie on the grass face down as if I were napping

I got some good running/sprinting in from that experience and then went home and STRETCHED and slept. The past few days of physical activity definitely is helping me sleep more quickly and more soundly.

The storms rolled in yesterday evening for us. The lighting was mostly on the lake from what I saw. It wasn't too terrible of a rain though. I enjoyed the breeze because it has been a bit warm for us these last few days and I am not ready to turn on the air conditioner ($$$). Unfortunately I slept with the patio door open, forgot to close the screen door and woke up to a missing kitty only to find her on the ledge of the balcony, outside of the fence portion and freaking out because she couldn't remember how to get back into the house. She kept trying to climb the side of the building but when she realized it was impossible she would freak out even more. So I spent this morning trying to coax her to the appropriate part of the fence that she could fit and crawl through. I think the gloomy, wet weather didn't make her feel very comfortable out there either. She got LOTS of loving when I finally got her back in


Tonight I have a personal trainer at the gym and will start to develop some sort of plan to move forward with. Was tracking my meals this weekend as well because they want to see what my diet looks like. I swear, when you write down what you eat it really is an additional slap in the face that you need to get your act together! LOL
05-12-2014, 11:42 AM   #21
Cat-a-Tonic
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Good luck with the trainer tonight! I'll be interested to hear how it goes and how the plan develops. The tag game sounds fun, especially the part about blending in with the t-ball crowd. The strategy involved is very interesting! I think I've heard a saying, something about how a person has more anonymity when in a crowd than when alone - sounds like that worked for you.

Oh, and glad to hear your cat is okay! I bet that was worrying!
05-12-2014, 05:04 PM   #22
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Ahhh, I wish we had something like that going on in Toronto!! That sounds like so much fun, CC. What a great way to get some fun exercise, too.

And oh no, poor baby getting stuck outside! I'm glad she didn't wander far at least. I'm sure she's getting some very good care after that.

And HAHA, I had the same experience the other day when I saw my GP and had to explain what my diet was like. It's terrible realizing how much work you have to do! But at least now you can get an idea of a better direction to go in and what to potentially cut down on. Good luck with your personal trainer! I'm excited to see how that goes for you.
05-12-2014, 05:39 PM   #23
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I find the cross trainer to be a really good work-out and has less impact on joints also a bit of a fan of the rowing machine as well,really good cardio work out which surprised the hospital when I did a cardiac stress test,did the full 12 minutes,they asked if I did the gym but I said no for a childish reason they mentioned my weight and recommended more exercise before I did the test,ha!got them.
05-12-2014, 10:22 PM   #24
CrohnsChicago
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I would love to give rowing a try, it truly is a workout! lol I'm just too weak right now I have to work my way up to that.

Had my physical training session tonight. We talked about my goals and decided before we can do anything major we need to focus on strengthening my core and balance. We did a number of body weight exercises that targeted the core, glutes and balance, some using medicine balls, steps and benches and even used the adjustable pulley weight machines to do some squats and PLANKS!!!! That was the last exercise he had me do. I didn't have the strength to stay up for more than 5-10 seconds at a time.

After all of that he thew me on the treadmill for some interval training.

Overall I managed a lot more than I thought I could, I just needed someone to give me a little push. My core is begging me for relief right now.

Stretching, dinner, my TV show, and sleep. That's exactly what I need now.

Tomorrow he's letting me come in during his free time and will give me some ideas of things to do until the next time I see him in two weeks.
05-12-2014, 10:34 PM   #25
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Congrats!! It always feels great when you're able to accomplish more than you thought you could. To me it sounds like you already have far more stamina than I do, especially when it comes to running/jogging.

That's awesome he's letting you see him on his free time, too. I hope you get to sit down and come up with some good goals!
05-13-2014, 10:34 AM   #26
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Chicago, as far as rowing goes - can you rent a kayak (maybe on the Chicago river)? Kayaking is a super fun thing to do and is a great arm/shoulder workout! I own a kayak and I love it. It's not too difficult to do. It would be a good idea to build your arms up a bit first, but you don't need a ton of arm strength to kayak - it's easier to get forward momentum in a kayak than in something like a canoe.

How are you feeling today? Pretty sore I bet? Sounds like you had a good first session, even with the dreaded planks.
05-13-2014, 11:11 AM   #27
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My butt is terribly sore lol. My hips are a little and my core is tighter than usual but I stretched very well last night and this morning.

There are a few places to Kayak here in Chicago both on the river and on Lake Michigan even a couple large ponds. I have kayaked in Wisconsin and the Chicago River before with one company it was a lot of fun but it definitely was exhausting towards the end in my arms and again because of my weak core. But I would love to do that again kayaking is fun!

More than anything I just want to take a nap right now. I worked out a bit late yesterday so I couldn't fall asleep until around 1 a.m. I would love to become one of those morning workout people but I can only bring myself to get up that early maybe 5 times a year for special occasions or bouts of insomnia .
05-13-2014, 11:20 AM   #28
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Haha, me too, CC. The only time I see 5AM is from staying up too late or some lovely insomnia.
05-13-2014, 11:22 AM   #29
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I totally understand that, I'm an afternoon/evening exerciser myself. I tried working out in the mornings, but my GERD just won't let me. I need to wake up, take my GERD meds and drink some water, and let my stomach settle for a couple hours. Then I eat breakfast and let that settle for a couple more hours - and then I'm able to go work out. If I try just waking up and working out without eating first, it's like my stomach acid is not yet diluted enough and it hasn't had any food to work on, so my reflux goes nuts. It's so much more tolerable if I wait, eat, and wait some more first - but that means I can't really work out until noon or so at the earliest. Which is fine, I'm willing to work with/around whatever my body throws at me and I have no problems with working out in the afternoons and evenings. But I am with you, I'm just not built to be a morning exerciser I guess!
05-13-2014, 03:17 PM   #30
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Does your gym have rowers? Usually they say concept2 on them. You can adjust the amount of resistance so I don't really think there is a way to be "too weak" for it.
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