eat, move, think, feel


poison oak

THIS is Why Athletes Like Steroids…

Just kidding. Sort of. But since I’ve been taking prednisone for the damn poison oak that won’t go away, I’ve had such a crazy surge in energy it’s not even funny. Today I was working out with my trainer. Whatever he asked me to do, it was truly so easy, I was not remotely winded, out of breath, unable to do ANYthing. He started looking at me funny. This was weird to both of us since I have not been working out much in the past few weeks and logic would dictate that I would be LESS able to do things, not more. He was like, “Man, you are on a whole other PAGE. What IS this?!?” I was more flexible, stronger, with 100% more stamina than usual. After an hour workout I was barely damp from sweat. I said, “Is that ALL?” and then the lightbulb went off.

“Girl, you are ON STEROIDS!”

Oh. Yeah. The last time I took prednisone was 10 years ago when I finished my first (and only) marathon, and it had a similar effect. (ie, I ran the last mile or so of the 26.2 mile race I’d trained to WALK) It was for poison oak back then, too.

I know that steroids are really bad for you. They have made my blood glucose go crazy. I’ve had to up my diabetes medication and it still is way too high. And every day I get fresh new patches of itchy itchy rash. It’s insane.

But wow, does it feel good to be able to do stuff so… effortlessly. I can see why it’s addictive. I’m glad I am not a professional athlete and that my physical performance doesn’t really mean anything other than to my own ego.

I’m tapering down and it will be interesting to see if and how I get weaker. Meanwhile, it’s weird to feel like Superjock.

Back in the (Itchy) Saddle

IMG_0543I went running this morning for the first time since the poison oak struck. It didn’t go too badly – about 2.5? miles in 40ish minutes. I was running a lot faster than usual, spurred on by my happiness at seeing GOATS near my running track. Every year when the grass is tall and dry in the summer, a goatherd travels around my area with his herd of goats, and they act as live lawnmowers. It is SO SO SO awesome. Every time I passed the goats (once per lap) I got really happy and yelled “HI GOATS!” and they gazed at me with sweet and startled expressions and then resumed munching. I just wanted to keep going and going so I could pass them again.

So I did 9 laps? maybe 10. But a few of them I walked because I was receiving calls from my endocrinologist (to advise me on blood glucose control while I am on steroids) and had to walk while speaking. And I needed the walking breaks, believe me. I started experimenting with a different kind of gait – higher and faster and bouncier, instead of my usual shuffling old-lady jog. It definitely wore me out more quickly – I was a LOT more short of breath than I ever have been, but in a good? way.

I have to rememer this. I like running! It makes me feel good! Even when I am struggling and have various aches and things. I was all endorphined up afterward which was partly due to seeing the goats as well. In addition to the hundreds of adorable creatures, there was the goatherd, whom I did not see, but who was standing at the back door of his little trailer (with solar panels!) on the hill, playing jazz saxophone into the hills. Now what could be more perfect or surreal? The whole thing was just too great for words, and a perfect re-entry into runnerdom.

My friend K (hi nutellamama!) invited me to run a 5k this Sunday but I do not quite feel ready for that. Too many weeks of nonrunning have passed. But I do hope I can find a good one to do in late August or maybe September.

My stupid poison oak really flared up after my run. I think maybe due to heat and sweat. But I had big new welts on my face, neck, back, stomach, hip. I came home and took a hot shower (which I really needed) but that only made the PO worse. Itch itch itch!

The prednisone (which I think I would be insane without) has definitely helped things, but it hasn’t gone away completely and does have periods of worsening. It also is making me sleepless and sort of manic. Last night I stayed up until 3am, working on making two books on  I have been reading a lot about prednisone AND poison oak and I see that this could go on for weeks (please, no). Weirdly, it seems that a common side effect of steroids is weight gain and appetite increase, but I have had the opposite (thank you!). I’ve barely eaten.

So it’s weird. I don’t feel like myself at ALL.  I feel manic and jumpy and sleepless and odd. But also a little euphoric and very goat-happy. And glad to be running again.

Did you know that the last time I had poison was 10 years ago, the week that I completed my first and only marathon? My dog had gone for a walk in the woods (with dog walker) and come back to sit on my lap and kiss my face. That was brutal. I took steroids then and my racewalking partner was convinced that it helped me really pump it up for that marathon because I ended up running the last mile, something I’d never done before. So. Who knows. Don’t anybody report me to the sports authorities, please.

Momentum, Lost

I was worried this would happen – that during this time of year I would be so stressed from coordinating my big family camp, that I would just lose my momentum altogether. And at one point I was all determined that it would NOT happen. But, well, it did, sort of. Not completely. I didn’t go totally off the deep end and eat myself into a stress coma, but I DID lose an entire week of exercise, maybe more. (almost 2 weeks?) I knew in that week before camp that at least a WALK would have done me so much good, but I just… didn’t.  Every day I told myself I’d at least try to get in a walk or a 30 minute Jillian video, but neither of those things happened. Which sort of perplexes me and bums me  out. With ALL that I know about how good and helpful exercise is, I still had this inner resistance. With this voice that said, loudly, I’m too busy. And yes, I WAS busy, but I could have taken 20 or 30 minutes a day and it would have helped. But I didn’t. However, I did continue to make decent food choices during that time.

When I was at camp itself, I wore my pedometer and was walking a minimum of 4 miles a day, just running around doing camp stuff. In addition, I took one good (steep) hike and did one ill-fated run. (more on that later) So I felt good about that. The food at camp… well, it was overall fairly bad but they did have a good salad bar. So that often saved me. But on the last day or two I felt myself sliding a bit. I had a couple cookies. I ate some Cream of Wheat and other stuff I normally wouldn’t. But it wasn’t an all out disaster.

When I got home, I was up a pound or two (I had lost those 2 lbs before I left, so I wasn’t panicking). But the all out disaster came the day after I got home. I had been itching a little at camp. But the day after I got home (yesterday?) I had a huge, terrible outbreak of poison oak. Remember that run I did? Well I was about a mile from camp and had to go to the bathroom REALLY BAD. And you know how uncomfortable it is to run when you have to go. So I went in the woods. And… yeah, I got it THERE.

I have never known such horrible, insane, burning itching! Welts! I couldn’t open one eye. My lips were enormous and weeping fluid. On my face, chest, back, arms, legs… and yeah, THERE. Ugh ugh ugh ugh. I tried to go to my trainer yesterday morning but he took one look, would not come NEAR me and told me to go get a cortisone shot ASAP. I didn’t do that, but I did start taking prednisone. Which has my blood sugars all whacked. But I can’t not do this.

So, I’m stressed. I was so uncomfortable yesterday I didn’t want to MOVE but today I am feeling like things are calming down a bit. I might go for a walk later on.

The worst part? Yesterday I had the worst “food” day ever since January. I was scheduled to make lunch for 30 kids in my daughter’s theater group (they are in all day rehearsals now). She requested homemade mac and cheese (MY NEMESIS). And I think the combination of stress, the poison oak, totally losing my healthy mojo, and I just lost it. Two plates of mac and cheese (don’t even ask how many “portions” that may have been) and two brownies. BROWNIES. Wahh!

What was going through my head? (“Well, my blood sugars are already up from the prednisone, let’s make it even worse! or let’s disguise it.”) Or I don’t even know. I think my head was not working. Did you know that steroids can also make one emotionally and mentally whacked? Let’s blame it on the steroids!

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. And what did I learn from it? I learned that the mac and cheese was not as incredibly awesome as I’d dreamed. In fact, I think the reason I ate so much of it was I was chasing that elusive high, waiting for it to transport me into ecstasy, when it really didn’t. (the brownies, however, were darn good)

So I’ve learned. It’s been a humbling experience. I am ready to get back on the horse or the wagon or the donkey. I know it feels 100x better to act and be healthy than it does to make the unfortunate choices I’ve been making.

I’m glad that there wasn’t HUGE harm done – in the past this period has been much worse and lasted much longer and meant 10-15 lbs gain instead of the two or four that it probably is.

This post is getting really long but I wanted to say another that I learned. You know that quote, “You are what you repeatedly do.” That is so so so true. When I didn’t Tweet for a week, I also lost the momentum of that community and what it does for me. I came back, and I felt…. out of it. It would be so easy to fall away. But I don’t want to. I know that my blogging friends  are still out there, and I really need y’all.

I need a hand up on the wagon. Circle back round for me, will ya?

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