Monthly Archives: October 2016

Hell Week Part 1 (or Not Pushing It Too Much)

Last week was the first part of Hell Week at Orangetheory. Technically part 2 of Hell Week is only today, but it’s still covering more than one week. This year, to earn the Hell Week shirt, you have to complete 5 out of the 8 days. Before I got sick, there was no question that I was going to do this. I signed up for all my classes and got super excited about it!

After getting sick, while I still knew I’d do my 5 Hell Week classes, there was a bit of hesitation. I didn’t want to push myself so much that I got worse but I didn’t want to not try either. So I tried to take it day by day and figured out what the best plan for each day would be for me. And last week, as planned I got 4 of my Hell Week workouts done! And each of those days ended up being a 3G workout, which I actually think helped me survive it despite the pain in my stomach!


Monday’s workout was a hill based one, but I knew that I would be on the bike for it. I was able to increase my resistance on the bike a bit more than I had done the past few workouts. Plus, I was able to increase the resistance for the hills as well. It was still a bit of a struggle on the bike and I had to take some breaks while riding it, but it was much better than the week before. When we were on the rower, we had to row and then do squat arm work with weights. The rower was still tough because of my stomach so I was rowing pretty slowly. And the weight work was also tough because my body didn’t want to bend like normal. But I took breaks when I needed to and even though I didn’t do as much work as I would have liked to, I still did something. And finally, I was on the floor doing lunges, planks, and mountain climbers which surprisingly didn’t bother me too much!

By Wednesday, I was feeling so much better. I thought about going on the treadmill that day, but I knew that I would want to push myself more than I should so I stuck with the bike. And it’s a good thing that I did that because the workout had a distance challenge element to it. We had 2 segments that were 6 minutes each on cardio. The first time, we were given guidance on when we should be in base, push, and all out paces. The second time we were just supposed to beat that original distance. I really went crazy on the bike and I think I was working harder on it than I normally do on the bike! And I was very happy to see that I was able to beat my first distance when I had my second attempt.


Next we had a rowing challenge that was set up the same was as the cardio challenge. 6 minutes to do our best, and then we did it again to try to beat the first time. The rower was still a bit tougher for me than it normally is, but I was very happy to see that I was able to row for the entire 6 minutes both times without stopping! And again, I beat my distance the second time (which I was not expecting at all)!


Finally on Wednesday, we had our floor work which had some lunges and mountain climbers (again those weren’t bugging me so I was able to work hard on them). We also had some arm work and I really wanted to use 12 pound weights again. I didn’t feel ready to use my normal 15 pound weights, but when I looked around all the 12 pound weights were being used by other people. So I was forced to use the 15 pound ones (I wasn’t going to use the 10 pound ones) and while it was a bit of a struggle I managed to get through and felt very accomplished!

Friday was the first day that I went back to using the treadmill. I knew my next 5K was coming up, and I wanted to see how I was doing after taking time off and feeling sick. I know that my expectations for what I would be able to do at my race need to be reevaluated because I’ve had those set-backs, but I still want to train as much as I can. For this workout, we started with a round of 3 minutes at each station. For the treadmill and rower, the plan was a 2 minute push and a 1 minute all out pace. I was able to do that for the rower, but for the treadmill I did a 1 minute run, 1 minute walk, and 1 minute run. The running felt different to me, but it wasn’t impossible. And on the floor for those 3 minutes, we had squats.

For the rest of the workout, we had a 3 partner workout. It was a rotation between the rower, treadmill, and floor and the person on the floor controlled the pace (the floor work was squats, lunges, and ab work). On the treadmill, we were supposed to run for the time it took for the partner from the floor to tag us out. And on the rower we were working toward how far we could row as a group for the workout (so we didn’t reset it between people). For the treadmill, I tried to stick with a 1 minute run/1 minute walk pace. I was able to do that for most of the time, but I did do one round where I just walked for the entire thing. But considering how awful I had felt a week prior, I’m very happy that I can still run and I have hopes that I can do a run/walk pace for at least part of my upcoming race.

And I have to say, as a team we did a lot of rowing for that workout! We didn’t place in the top 3, but the fact that our total was 6666 during Hell Week was pretty funny and I enjoyed that.


By Saturday, I was feeling a bit tired from all the work I had put in. Even though I was taking it a bit easier than normal during Hell Week, the workouts are very intense and tough. And of course, I’m very competitive with myself and try to see how far I can push myself. It’s not the best trait I have, but it really did push me hard when I planned on going easy on myself.

Saturday was a tornado style workout. We were never on one thing for that long and kept moving around a lot. We started and ended the workout with the same thing: 3 minutes on each section. For the treadmill both times, I did the 1 minute run, 1 minute walk, 1 minute run plan. And on the floor we had to do ultimate burpees and hop overs. But in the middle of the workout, everything was a 1 minute section. That’s very short so we were moving before you knew it! I stuck with running for the 1 minute I was on the treadmill. On the rower, I had to take it a bit easy because that was the only time I felt I had to rest. And on the floor, we pretty much always had to do burpees (that was the theme for the day). By the end of class, I was ready for a nap and to relax!

Today will be my last Hell Week workout (so I can earn my free shirt!) and then I’ll have 2 more workouts in the week before my 5K race. It’s so soon and I’m trying not to be nervous about race day. If I can’t run at all, I’m still going to do it and finish and that’s what is important. But hopefully the 3 workouts I have this week will prep me for the race as much as possible!

Learning Lessons (or What Being Sick Taught Me)

I’m finally feeling almost 90% better now. This past week seemed to drag on as I felt off, but I’m glad that I almost feel like myself again. I’m questioning if the residual uncomfortableness is related to my liver, but I won’t find that out until I meet with the surgeon in a week and a half. And I think that going to Disneyland was good for my mental health and that helped me to feel better.

I’m still being very careful with what I’m eating and trying to take things easier than I normally do. I don’t want to do anything that will make me feel horrible again and being cautious makes me feel a bit in control in a situation that feels very out of control to me right now.

Now that I’m almost over whatever stomach thing I had, I’ve been reflecting a bit on what good things came out of this. Obviously, discovering that there may be a cyst on my liver is something good to learn about. If I didn’t have the stomach pain, I wouldn’t have known until it was worse and it may have been a more urgent situation. And I’m starting to wonder if my stomach pain was my body telling me to get checked out. I know when my mom found out she had cancer, it was because of a suspicious bruise that wouldn’t go away. The bruise had nothing to do with cancer, but it was what got her to the doctor and to do all the medical testing. Maybe my body was doing the same thing.

I’ve been on a pretty restricted diet since last Wednesday. At first, it was just clear liquids (chicken broth and jello) and has moved to soft foods. I’m starting to eat more normally now, but I’m still keeping things a bit restricted. This doesn’t feel like a weight loss diet, but that’s what it is. I’m eating mainly fruits and some vegetables with very little meat. This is not the most restrictive diet I’ve been on, but it’s up there.

But because of these restrictions I’ve been rediscovering foods that I love or that I forgot could be just fine for a meal. I’ve rediscovered cream of wheat (although the exact packets I loved before don’t seem to be in stores anymore). I make it with water and have a banana with it and it’s a pretty filling breakfast or lunch. I’ve had cheese and crackers for dinner one night when I was feeling a bit full and knew I still needed to eat something. And I’ve been looking at making the sautéed vegetables again that I used to have a lot when I was on the cleanse I did last year.

All of those foods are things that I could have had before, but I either forgot I enjoyed them or was so focused on other things that I wanted to eat that they just didn’t come to mind. These are all good and healthy things for me to eat and I need to work on keeping them in regular rotation. While I’m still a believer that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, there is a difference in how you feel when your calories are from a variety of foods versus a binge of one food.

I’ve also learned how to be gentle with myself. It’s not easy to take things easy, especially when you know you have so much you need to get done. I don’t want to be lazy and sit on the couch all day because that reminds me of myself when I wasn’t working hard at bettering myself. But sometimes, you need to have those days on the couch doing nothing. It was important for me to do that so I could get better and if I had pushed myself I know I wouldn’t be feeling as good as I do now.

And finally, I’ve learned to accept the out of control feeling again that I really hate. Right now because my liver isn’t healthy, I can’t take any painkillers. I hate the idea that I might be in pain and can’t take something to make it better. But I have to deal with that now and it’s been a good thing for me. I may have been taking too many painkillers for what I really need (I usually took 3-4 a week so it wasn’t close to what the maximum I could take would be). I’ve had to tolerate a bunch of needles lately. In the last month I’ve had 3 blood draws, 3 shots, and 1 IV for an MRI. And I’ve got at least one more IV coming up next week. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, and I can’t do anything to change it. So I have to learn how to accept something I can’t fix and make it the best situation I can.

While I wish I could have learned all these things without getting sick, at least knowing something good came out of it makes me feel a bit better about the situation. I know that I may need this positive thinking to continue as I do more tests on my liver and find out what a surgeon thinks needs to happen. Maybe I will learn more lessons from this whole liver situation to make it even seem more worthwhile that I had to go through something that isn’t that great. I know how easy it can be for me to get sucked into feeling sorry for myself (I had that happen when I got sick last week) and I am refocusing my energy on learning what I can from the circumstances I’m in.

Recovering At Disneyland (or A Never-Done List)

After going the hospital last week, I spent several days not really doing much. I worked from bed, I rarely left my house, and I tried to make myself get better. I wasn’t getting better as quickly as I wanted to, but I was finally noticing some improvement toward the end of the weekend (during the headshot day). And it’s a good thing that I was getting better because I had a Disneyland day scheduled for Monday and I didn’t want to cancel it!

My friend Michelle knew that I was at the hospital last week and what was going on with me. She was checking in with me to make sure that I still wanted to go to Disneyland. I knew she’d be ok with me if I had to cancel it, but I was feeling like I could do an easy day there (no crazy roller coasters) by Monday and around lunchtime we headed down to Anaheim.

On the way, we picked up one of Michelle’s friends who also has a pass for Disneyland and has Mondays off like we do and we were at the park by about 1:30 to have a low-key day. I’m glad all of us have passes because there was no pressure to get a ton of stuff done and I didn’t feel too guilty about being limited in what rides I was ok with going on.

Since I am on a soft food diet right now, I knew my food options at Disneyland would be limited but there was plenty that would be ok. And one of the first things we did in the park was to go get a Dole Whip!


It turns out that Michelle’s friend had never had a Dole Whip before, and as soon as I found that out I decided we needed to figure out what else she hasn’t done at Disneyland before so we could check things off of her list of never-done things! We ate our Dole Whips during the Tiki Room show and then were off to our next ride!

I was limited in what Halloween things I could do, but the Haunted Mansion is a smooth enough ride that I was totally ok riding it! I love how it is decorated for the holiday season and every time I ride it I notice more and more stuff. And it was a gloomy day outside with lots of clouds so it seemed like the sky matched the ride.


Our next stop was the Jungle Cruise (another smooth ride) and we had a pretty fun skipper on the ride. Lots of good cheesy jokes and there were a couple of jokes that he said that I had never heard on the ride before! We were trying to figure out what other rides would be easy smooth ones, and we saw Buzz Lightyear and headed over to that. Michelle and I have been battling each other on that ride since we started going to the parks together. This time, I was beat but I have a feeling I’ll have a comeback soon.


Next was another never-done thing for Michelle’s friend: the Nemo Submarines! None of us are huge fans of going in the submarines (they are a bit tight inside and sometimes they don’t smell very fresh), so we watched the video in the alternative viewing room. The video is just as good as the ride, plus since it was a grey day outside I knew that the stuff in the water wouldn’t have been as nice and bright as it is in the video.

We then tried to ride the monorail (riding in the front of it with the driver was another thing on the list), but the monorail ended up breaking down in the station while we sat on it. It was unfortunate, but we figured we could walk over to California Adventure to continue our day. But right when we were ready to ride the monorail, it started to rain pretty hard! None of us were prepared with umbrellas, so we just tried to walk as quickly as we could across to the other park.

We wanted to ride Radiator Springs Racers, but it was closed before of the rain and possible threat of lighting. And by that time, we were all feeling a bit hungry (Dole Whips aren’t that filling). And all I really wanted to get to eat was soup in a bread bowl. I hadn’t had one in a while and was really craving it. Plus, it was a soft food that I could eat and I knew it would fill me up! We found a table out of the rain near the bread bowl place and sat down to enjoy our dinner.

By this time, my stomach was starting to hurt a bit again. It may have been due to hunger or walking more than I was used to, but our dinner break really helped to get me feeling almost normal again. After dinner we were headed over to the Little Mermaid ride (another thing on the never-done list) and realized that after the rain stopped there was a gorgeous sunset right behind the ferris wheel!

mickey-sunset sunset

The last 2 rides of the day were going on Little Mermaid and then Soarin’ Around The World, but we weren’t done yet! We were getting ready to head over to the Animation Academy to draw a bit (another never-done thing) and we decided to look around the stores a bit to see what they had. Sometimes there are some really cute things and even though my budget didn’t really have extra money, I was happy to check out what was in stock.

One of the things I love checking out are the Dooney and Burke Disney purses. They are limited edition collections that are released from time to time. There have been a few patterns that I love, but I never have been able to get it because all the purses were sold out. So we were totally surprised to discover a new pattern in the store that was Disney villain themed that we had never seen!


It turned out that pattern was released that day and there were still a few purses left in stock! Michelle was celebrating her birthday the next day (which is why in that picture you see the birthday button) and decided that the purse was going to be her birthday present to herself! It’s such a cute purse so I’m super excited for her! And to know that we happened to be in the park during the first day of the pattern release made us say that it must have been fate for her to get that purse!

Our final stop of the night was one more thing from the never-done list for Michelle’s friend: the Animation Academy. We ended up doing the last 2 classes before park closing. The first one was drawing Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas” and the second one was Winnie The Pooh. I think that my Sally looks much better than last time and my Winnie The Pooh wasn’t too bad!

sally winnie-the-pooh

My Sally is the big one on the right and my Winnie the Pooh is the one in the middle.

After drawing, California Adventure was closed (Disneyland had one of the separately ticketed Halloween parties so we couldn’t go back) and we went to the trams to get back to the car.

I’m so glad that I didn’t skip going to Disneyland. I think knowing I had this coming up helped me get better and kept me motivated. And I was able to push myself to see what my body was able to handle and realized that while I’m still not 100% I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. I’m glad that I had done the earlier trip to ride all the Halloween rides since I only got to do 1 of them this time. But even with doing the easy low-key rides, I still had an amazing time with awesome friends!

Slimmons Is Closing (or Maybe I Should Do One More Workout)

Even though I haven’t worked out at Richard Simmons’ studio Slimmons in years, I was still pretty upset when I heard that the studio would be closing down next month. I know I’ve written about Slimmons before, but I feel this is important and I’m going to share a lot of my story there again.

I first went to Slimmons because of my friend Alex. She told me how much she loved going to workouts there and I decided that it could be something fun to check out. I never expected to go there regularly, I just thought I could have it as a fun story to tell people. Not everyone gets to work out with the one and only Richard Simmons, so I wanted to do it! I had no idea what to expect but went into the workout with an open mind.

And I was surprised to discover that I really liked it! This was right after I had regained a lot of weight that I had lost, so my confidence was very low. I didn’t want to return to the gym that I belonged to because I didn’t want people to stare at me (or worse, remember that I was recently thin and judge me for gaining back the weight). But at Slimmons, nobody is looking at you. Yes, part of that is because Richard is just so ridiculous that you can’t take your eyes off of him. But another part is that he made it such an accepting environment that you wouldn’t dare to think negatively about anyone else and you are very focused on bettering yourself.

Alex and I would go to Slimmons on a somewhat regular basis. I tried to do at least one of Richard’s classes each week. And I started to make friends in class pretty quickly. One of those friends is one of my current day job bosses (she actually got me a job shortly after we met at Slimmons). And one of my favorite bloggers (who is more of an acquaintance) was someone I met because he also went to Slimmons. I had a lot of people I saw each week, and it was nice to have people who expected to see me each week in class.

And of course, I had to share my love of Slimmons with other people. I brought a bunch of friends there (including having one friend celebrate his birthday there).

justins-birthday-at-slimmons friends-at-slimmons

And because my dad is always interested in trying whatever workout craze I’m loving, he had to come with me to Slimmons. I didn’t get a picture when just my dad and I went, but the next trip my parents had to LA got my mom to join us! My mom loves tennis and hiking, but I don’t know if exercise classes are really something she loves. But she had fun at Slimmons and I had to get a picture of her with Richard.


And as soon as Richard found out that our dog Dante was in the car, he wanted us to get Dante so he could meet him and get a picture with him too!


The time at Slimmons with my parents and dog was my last time working out there. I had something happen that made me not want to work out there anymore. And until I found Orangetheory, I never found another workout place that was as accepting and welcoming as Slimmons was.

As soon as I heard the news that Slimmons was closing, I was had a bit of a pit in my stomach. Slimmons was so important to Richard and it’s making me worried that there are more health issues that he’s dealing with than are known right now. While I don’t work out at Slimmons anymore, that doesn’t mean I want it to close. It’s an amazing home for so many people to work out in. There are people who wouldn’t think they could work out until they went to Slimmons. And to know that place won’t exist again soon is depressing.

There’s a few more weeks until Slimmons closes down. I’m thinking I’ll have to go back for at least one more workout before it’s gone forever. I know some people I know will be going for the last class ever, but I think that might be too crowded to go to. And while I wish that Richard would come back for everyone to work out with, I really doubt he will be returning again.

Like I said in my last post about Richard, I really do hope that he is doing ok. I hope that he posts more things on social media that are current and show that he is alright. And maybe he will make an appearance at Slimmons again before it closes, but that would be pretty surprising since he’s pretty much disappeared from public.

Even though Slimmons is closing, I’m so glad that so many people have happy memories there. Almost all my memories are very positive ones and I share stories from my time at Slimmons quite often with friends when they find out I worked out there. Hopefully I get the chance to be there again so I can make sure my last memory of Slimmons is another great one.

Express Headshot Day (or Another Fun Podcast Event)

The podcast I work for has been trying to do lots of fun stuff for our listeners. We’ve done some pretty great parties in the past, but now we are looking to do monthly events to benefit actors and anyone else in the entertainment industry. I’ll try to remember to share these events on here in case any of you want to join in (sorry I didn’t do that before!).

Last month, we did a vocal class with Darci Monet (who is a friend of mine). It was a class for all levels and was an introduction to how she teaches. I was an observer for that class, but I had a great time and we were inspired to do more events like that. While the vocal class could have been for all levels, we know that some people might have been intimidated if they have never taken a class before. So we wanted the next event to be something that doesn’t seem to have levels of expertise so everyone felt like wherever they were in their career that it would be a great opportunity for them.

So this past weekend, we did an express headshot day. The idea of an express headshot day is to do really amazing photos for less money and taking less time than a normal headshot session. It’s great if you have one look you want to do that isn’t something you already have. Or if you are a writer and need a professional photo to use. I even joked with my friends that they could do it to have an awesome photo for an online dating profile!

We were hosted again by Acting Up Network (we will totally be partnering with them again and again in the future) and our photographer was Adam, who did my last round of headshots. I didn’t need any extra looks right now, so I didn’t sign up to do a session (and that was for the best since I got sick). But since Adam was the photographer, I knew that everyone who signed up would be getting incredible shots and nobody would be disappointed.

Not only did we feel so lucky that we got Adam as our photographer for the day, the day we had our express day was his birthday! He said that he was happy spending his birthday doing what he loves to do (he really does love taking photos), but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t forget about his birthday! So toward the beginning of the day, one of our hosts (who was getting his photos done during the express day) got some cupcakes so we could celebrate!


I’ve seen express headshot days in the past and they don’t always work. But Adam really had things set up to make this work the best it could. I watched almost each of the sessions, and every person left with a huge smile on their face and very impressed with some of the shots that they were able to see at the end of the shoot.


Doing headshots can be a fun time, but not everyone loves doing them. But it made me so happy to watch people walk in a bit nervous or unsure if they will get a good photo and walk out looking like they hit the jackpot because they got a photo that they never knew they could get.

I wasn’t able to stay for the entire event (I was there for almost 6 hours and then I needed to get home to rest), but the time I was there was really fun and inspiring to watch. I know that we are going to make these express headshot days something we do at least once a year. It was a hit and I know that good headshots are a necessity that not everyone can afford (most shoots are $300-500 and we did our express day for $100).

I feel great that we can do something that benefits others in the industry and it is something that others have done for me so I just want to keep paying it forward. If any of you want to know all the events the podcast will do (in case I forget to share it on here), I recommend signing up for the podcast email list. You’ll get an email for each episode we release, but we put podcast and community announcements in them too.

I’m not sure what our next event will be, but I have a feeling it’s going to be something else incredible!

An Off Week (or Being Ok Being Weak)

I had a weird week of workouts this past week. When I started the week, I had no idea that I would be getting so sick on Wednesday. But even though I was in the hospital that day, I still managed to get 3 workouts in (it was originally going to be a 4 workout week, but I’m proud of my 3).

Monday obviously was my best workout day. This was before I got sick and I was pushing myself quite a bit. It was a strength day and we didn’t switch between blocks, so I had a long time on the treadmill. I still am not running hills, but I decided to run the flat parts that I could and get my inclines as high as possible. We started the workout with a 2 minute push pace that I ran in full and we ended the treadmill time with a 1 minute push and 1 minute all out (both minutes were run). And in the middle we had 2 30 second all outs that I was able to run.

But besides those parts, I was walking the rest of the treadmill time. Hills are tough in general for me, so running hills is not a priority for me right now. I was keeping my inclines pretty high most of the time by averaging between 8-12% incline with my usual walking pace. The hills are starting to feel more like they did before I hurt my calf, so I was very happy with that. It’s been a long time since the hills felt like that, so I saw that as a huge improvement and something to be proud of.

The floor work was a bit tough for me. My abs were hurting (I thought it was because of the MRI, but I’m now wondering if it was something related to my current issue). When we were doing ab work, I was able to do it but things were tougher for me than normal. I wasn’t able to get up from being on the floor as easily as I usually can and I decided to be a bit careful with my weights for the rest of the floor work. I wasn’t going with really light weights, but I took it a bit easier than I probably would do on a strength day.

Wednesday’s workout didn’t happen because I was still in the hospital at that time and there was no way that I could go anywhere once I was done. I honestly thought that there was going to be a chance that I couldn’t do any more workouts for the week, but I decided that since the doctor I saw said I could work out once I was getting better I figured it was worth trying. I told myself that if I could only make it 10 minutes into the workout before I had to leave, that would be ok. So I kept my already scheduled Friday and Saturday workouts.

Friday was really a challenge for me. I know I must have been getting better, but it was hard to believe that. I was still hurting so much and there were only so many positions that my body could be in that made the pain go away. There was no way I was going to walk on the treadmill (even if I kept it really slow, I would be tempted to push myself more), so I went onto the bike. I kept the resistance very low and didn’t pedal too fast the entire time I was on there. It wasn’t easy, but I made it through.

Friday was a run/row day, and I think that was the best thing I could have had. I didn’t spend too long on the bike for a stretch and the rower had the ability to be a good way for me to stretch a bit. My bike time wasn’t fast, but I wasn’t pushing myself at all. I just wanted to make it through what I could. The rower wasn’t that great for me (crunching my body up was hurting my stomach), but I just did a bit of a lazy row and got all the meters in that I needed to. My coach knew I was dealing with health stuff, so he wasn’t pushing me that hard and kept checking in to make sure I was doing ok.

When we moved to the floor, I decided there was no point in me trying to use my normal weights. I needed to keep things easy, and that means easy weights too. So when I usually would use 15 or 20 pound weights, I was using 10. I felt a bit pathetic and weak, but I had to keep telling myself that I was feeling like crap and wasn’t letting that keep me from the gym. Most of the floor work was focused on arms, but there was some ab work as well. I knew the ab work wasn’t going to happen, so I just skipped that part and did more arm stuff. I ended up leaving class a bit early because the last 3 minutes was a core blast, and I knew I couldn’t do any of it. Plus, I was feeling a bit exhausted since that was my first real workout or movement since I got sick.

I went into Saturday a bit more optimistic. I knew I could do the bike and make it through a workout with significant modifications. It helped the nerves go away since I knew I could do it. I got on the bike again and even though it was a power day (my favorite) and there were a bunch of push and all out paces, I didn’t do any of that. I just tried to ride the bike at a steady resistance and cadence for the entire time. I did have to take some breaks (my stomach would hurt or I needed to stretch out a bit), but I did ride for a good amount of time. The computer on the bike stops when I stop, and in the end it said I was on it for 25 minutes. Not too shabby at all.

The floor work was a bit tougher for me, but I stuck with my Friday plan and used 10 pound weights again. We had a bit of squat work to do and I was modifying those and doing what I could. I was feeling my muscles working so even if I felt like I wasn’t doing much, I was doing something. We had some ab work that I skipped (like toe touches) and some ab work that I tried (mountain climbers which were very difficult but doable) and we had a bit of rowing as well. My stomach wasn’t hurting more at the end of the workout than it did in the beginning, so I consider that a victory.

This was not the workout week I was expecting to have. But I did my best to make it the best I could. I’m not disappointed in myself since I know that it would have been so easy to decide not to go at all. But I still wish I wasn’t hurting so I could have done more.

With Hell Week starting this week (and going through the beginning of next week), I’m still planning on doing all the workouts I have signed up for. I’m hoping that I won’t be in pain for all of the workouts and can really push myself to see what I can do, but if I have to be on restricted exercises I’m going to try to make the most of it. I want to earn my Hell Week shirt and I know what I need to get it!

My Day At Kaiser (or I Guess This Was For The Best)

If you follow me on social media, you saw that I spent Wednesday at the hospital. I was there for about 6 hours doing medical tests and things, and in the end I got some interesting news.


First, I need to explain why I was in the hospital. On Tuesday afternoon/evening, I had a pretty bad binge episode. It wasn’t the worst one I’ve ever had, but it was pretty significant. I’m not proud of myself, but it is what it is and I can’t go back to change it. About the time I was getting ready to go to bed, I noticed some symptoms that usually mean I’m about to have a gallbladder attack. I wasn’t looking forward to having an attack, but this happens from time to time after a binge.

Usually my gallbladder attacks follow a very predictable pattern. I feel the signs that one is starting before going to bed and I usually can fall asleep before it happens. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in pain and within an hour it is over and I am able to get back to sleep. But this time, it was very different. I couldn’t go to sleep and the pain was not ending. I didn’t get any sleep for that entire night because the pain was so intense. There were times in the middle of the night that I debated calling my mom for advice or going to the emergency room, but I decided to try to tough it out.

By the time my alarm went off on Wednesday morning, I wasn’t doing any better. I was exhausted from not sleeping and feeling horrible that I did this to myself. If I hadn’t binged, I wouldn’t be in pain. I tried to see if I could make it through the work day and go to the hospital after, but that wasn’t going to happen. So I made an appointment with someone in internal medicine for 9:45am and went over to Kaiser.

I was very honest with the doctor I met. I told her that I binged and that I have a history of gallbladder issues. But she didn’t feel like it was gallbladder stuff this time based on the pain I was in. So she ordered some blood work and an x-ray and instructed me to come back once those things were done.

The blood work wasn’t fun (I passed out a few times while the blood draw was happening) and while the x-ray was easy I was still in very intense pain. By the time I got back to the internal medicine department, I couldn’t find a way to make myself comfortable.

The good news and bad news was that there was nothing weird in my tests. I had elevated liver enzymes, but I had that issue the last time I had blood work and I knew that it was something I was supposed to work on. So the doctor ordered an ultrasound to be done so that my stomach, gallbladder, and pancreas could be looked at to see if there was anything that would explain the pain I was in.

The wait for the ultrasound was excruciating. I was sweating and crying in pain and it took almost an hour for them to get to me. And in the ultrasound, they had to press really hard where my pain was located and that was causing me to tear up and have issues breathing. I was really glad when that test was done and I went back up to internal medicine again to see the doctor for her response to my tests.

When I went back up to internal medicine, the first thing they did was give me a shot of a painkiller to help me a bit. At that point, I didn’t even mind that the shot was happening because I just wanted to get out of pain. It didn’t take the pain completely away, but it dulled things a bit and helped to make it more tolerable.

But again, the doctor couldn’t find what was causing my stomach issues. She let me know that it wasn’t my gallbladder as there was only one tiny gallstone in there and it was not in a place that could cause me pain. And everything else they were looking for looked normal. So her best guess was just really bad indigestion or a stomach ache or possibly a small ulcer. She told me to get some antacids and heartburn medication down at the pharmacy and said that my pain should go away within a week.

I was still really mad and embarrassed that I did this to myself. If I hadn’t binged, I wouldn’t have had this problem. And while I want to believe that this will stop me from binge eating, I’m not thinking that would be true. It’s a very tough addiction to get over (can you imagine an alcoholic having to have 3 drinks a day without going crazy?) but I’m trying to focus on getting myself better as much as I can.

But my appointment and time at Kaiser wasn’t a total wash. While my ultrasound was happening, the tech scanned over my liver and noticed what may be a cyst on my liver. If this is accurate, this would explain my weird liver enzymes on my blood work and would make things easier to figure out. Since the ultrasound isn’t the best diagnostic tool to look at cysts, I now have more blood work scheduled plus a MRI with contrast (which means another IV) to look more into things. And I have an appointment with a surgeon after that to hear what needs to happen if there is something I need to do.

If I hadn’t had the binge episode and the stomach distress I never would have found this possible cyst. It is something that explains the weird things in my recent medical tests which is a relief since I couldn’t figure out why things were so weird. But it also is now taking me down a crazy rabbit hole of more medical testing and doctors. I’m hoping that they will tell me that if it is a cyst nothing needs to be done with it. Some cysts go away on their own and maybe this one will do that. But I’m also preparing for more stuff I might need to do.

Either way, I’m a bit grateful that I did something stupid because it lead me to find out something that I needed to know was wrong with me. I wish that this liver thing was what was causing my pain or we could find out what was causing it, but at least I have some medication to take for now and a plan for what else I might need to do.

Magic Castle Fun (or Girls Night Out)

I’ve been fortunate to be able to go to Magic Castle twice in the past. It’s a really fun place to go to and since you need to be invited it’s not something that everyone gets to do. I don’t know members, so it’s not something that I can be invited to that often. But through a friend of a friend, I was able to get an invite to Magic Castle and I organized another girls night out there!

I had a great group of friends with me when we went this past week. In that group, I had my friend Shey (my Evil Twin), my workout buddy Dani, and my friend Camber who I met through my WIF mentoring group. Shey also invited her roommate and one of her roller derby friends to round out the group. I think it was a really great group and we were all so excited to be at Magic Castle.


The rules are that you cannot take photos beyond the lobby, but the entire place was decorated for Halloween and I totally loved that! The only photo of the decorations I could get was in the lobby, but you can see the fun stuff that they put out to celebrate.


We arrived at Magic Castle a bit before our dinner reservations, but they opened the dining area a bit earlier than expected so we were able to get in for dinner pretty quickly. And it turns out that our server was a friend of Shey, so that was fun! The dinner that they serve is pretty delicious and I was excited to have a nice splurge meal. I didn’t drink any alcohol (I wanted to save the money and calories for food), but I didn’t miss drinking at all. For my dinner, I had a steak (and it was cooked perfectly!) and I got some banana pie for dessert. It was a bit more food than I’m used to, but it was really good and I was glad that I didn’t try to restrict my food too much!

All of us had a great dinner and we enjoyed discussing tons of random stuff over dinner. Considering that most of the people in the group didn’t know each other before that night, it was awesome to see everyone get along so well. You never know when you create group outings like this if things will go well, so I’m so grateful that it turned out perfectly!

After dinner, it was time to see the main stage show (we get tickets to guarantee seats with our dinner). We got there a bit close to showtime, but we found 3 seats in one row and 3 seats right behind it toward the front of the room. We were off to the side, but we had a great view and the tricks that the magicians did were pretty incredible! I knew how a few of them were done because of a show I’ve seen on how to do magic, but there were so many tricks that I couldn’t figure out how they were done!

After the main stage show, our next stop was the close up magic room. We ended up being in the front row for the show so we were super close to everything happening. Usually the close up room is my favorite, but the magician that we watched seemed to be a bit nervous and their hands were shaking really hard. It started to make me nervous, but he was still able to do some great tricks and everything was impressive.

Our next stop was to try to see the last stage show at Magic Castle, but we missed the show we were hoping to see. We figured we’d wait an hour to see the next showtime and were trying to figure out what to do. All of a sudden, a man at the bar asked us what we were doing and we said we didn’t know. He responded that we were his audience for the show he was about to do. There was a card table near the bar where we all sat down and he did a bunch of different tricks.

He was so impressive! The fact that he didn’t have time to prepare since he just found us while he was eating at the bar was amazing. And the tricks blew all of our minds! We kept trying to figure out what was happening or how he could do it, but none of us could figure out anything! I’m so glad he was willing to put on a show for us because it ended up being the best show of the night!

We made it to the last stage show after our private show, and that was really fun too. There were some great rope magic tricks as well as some disappearing money ones. And the magician was very animated and kept everyone’s attention even though it was close to midnight on a weekday when we were at the show.

By then, we were all pretty tired (we had been there for over 6 hours) and most of us had to work the next morning. So it was time to say goodnight and for all of us to head home.

This was just a really great night out with my friends and I’m so lucky that I was able to get to Magic Castle again. I’m hoping that I might be able to get another pass at some point next year because there were a lot of friends who wanted to come but couldn’t due to scheduling. I’d love to have a chance to share this amazing place with more people soon!

An Overdue Friend Hangout (or A Medical Discussion Dinner)

There have been some friends that I haven’t gotten to see in a while. It’s a lot of issues with scheduling with all of our crazy schedules, but also time flies by and we forget how long it’s been. So when a friend of mine invited me to dinner recently and I realized it had been months since we had seen each other, I said yes right away!

This friend is someone who I used to see pretty much every week, but our schedules haven’t been matching up lately. She also had some medical things to deal with that prevented her from doing too much stuff. But we’ve stayed in touch through texting so when we got together, it felt like almost no time had passed!

We went out for Mexican food and I was a little nervous about it. I’ve been doing really well with my food lately and I didn’t want to eat too much or something that I shouldn’t (there was also another dinner coming up that I knew would be a splurge). Fortunately, neither of us cared to eat chips and salsa, so we didn’t get any for our table. Not having the chips in front of me made me feel a bit better about things since I didn’t have to stare at them or try to figure out if I should eat some. And I ordered fajitas, so I felt pretty confident that I made a good food choice and started to relax more.

Once we had ordered our food, our conversation became all about medical stuff. I was telling her about my MRI, and she shared all the stuff that she went through recently. She found out that she has the BRCA mutation (the breast cancer gene) and went through some stuff to make sure she stayed healthy. She had a double mastectomy and then reconstruction. I hadn’t seen her since her surgeries, and it was great to see her (also she looked amazing!). I’m not sharing her name because I don’t want to share her story for her, but she knows who she is and I’m so grateful that she is my friend.

She has been so open about everything that she has done so far and has always been more than happy to support me and share advice and tips. When I knew I’d be getting my MRI, she was one of the first people I contacted for advice and to find out anything I should be prepared for. She told me it wasn’t that big of a deal and let me know that I’d be fine. When she’s done additional genetic testing, she let me know so I could see if my mom did that testing. She’s not afraid to tell the truth about what she’s going through and I really appreciate that honesty.

I’m curious if anyone at the tables near us at dinner could hear our conversation. We were talking about a ton of medical stuff like surgeries, IV issues, scars, and other things that most people wouldn’t usually discuss. I’m totally used to it since growing up I heard lots of medical stuff over dinner when my parents were talking. I love that I have a friend who is able to be as chill about talking medical things over food as I am.

We did discuss other stuff besides cancer and medical stuff like my workouts at Orangetheory, other mutual friends of ours that neither of us have seen in a while, and random comments about the people watching we were doing from our table. It was a really nice dinner and it made me realize that I should do dinners with friends more often when I can.

While we had a pretty quick dinner, it was the perfect thing for me that night. I needed to have some positivity in my week, and my friend did just that for me. I have been very set in my ways with my food, and I needed the push to go outside what I’ve been feeling have been safe foods (even though I splurged a bit at dinner, my weight wasn’t affected the way I was scared it would be). And I got some great advice about the cancer screenings I’ve been doing lately and how normal they really are so I shouldn’t be too worried about them.

MRI Time (or Another Type Of Cancer Screening)

Because I’m considered high risk for getting breast cancer since my mom had it, I do cancer screenings a lot earlier than most people do them. For the past 2 years, I’ve done mammograms. They aren’t fun to do, but I know I need to do them. There is a chance that I might not be doing them every year for the next few years, but that’s not yet decided.

But because my mom’s type of breast cancer wasn’t caught on a mammogram, there was some discussion that I would need to get a breast MRI in the near future. I got a letter from my mom’s geneticist that explained that a baseline test for me would be a good idea, and my doctor sent that to a geneticist at my hospital. And after my last appointment with my doctor, it was decided that getting a baseline MRI would be my cancer screening this year (it was instead of getting another mammogram).

I’ve had a MRI before for my hip. That wasn’t a great experience for me because I didn’t realize how loud the machine would be and how long I would be stuck in there. I also went into that MRI knowing that if my pain went away or decreased after the solution they used was injected into my hip, that was a clear sign that my cartilage was damaged and I would need surgery (the MRI was before I had a full diagnosis or treatment plan). I was out of pain within minutes of the injection, so I spent the entire MRI knowing that I would need surgery and that freaked me out a bit.

This time, things were very different for me. First of all, this MRI couldn’t be done at my hospital. Because breast MRIs require special equipment and they aren’t done that often, there is an imagining center that my hospital outsources them to. I’ve never had to do any procedures or appointments outside of the hospital that I go to, but I tried to think about it as a new adventure. I was able to get a Saturday appointment, so I went right after work this past weekend.

When I got to my appointment, I had a dozen or so papers I had to fill out. Most of them were pretty basic, but there were a few things that I had to think about (such as the dates of my mammograms and the date of my previous MRI). I was trying not to be nervous while filling out the forms, but I’ll admit that I was a bit shaky as I was trying to write.

After my forms were filled out, I waited for a bit for my name to be called, and then the tech that I was going to be working with brought me back to the changing area. For my last MRI, I had to be naked under the gown (they needed full access to my hip for the injection) so I just assumed this would be the same. I didn’t realize that if I had worn pants with no metal I could have kept them on. I should have worn yoga pants so I could have done that, but I wore jeans so I had to just wear the gown. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind if any of you are going to get a breast MRI.

Next, the tech took me into the MRI room. They were able to arrange for me to have an open MRI machine since I do have issues with claustrophobia and I was grateful for that. The tech had me lay down face up on the bed for the machine so she could put the IV in my hand. I’ve said how much I hate needles and IVs are the same problem. I told the tech my issues and she was seriously amazing! She asked me if I knew any good or bad veins, and I showed her the vein that was used for both surgeries I’ve had before. She was able to get the IV in with one stick, and then she got ready to prep me for everything else.

For most MRIs, you lay on your back on a table that slides into the machine. For breast MRIs, you lay on your stomach on a ledge that is on top of the table. There are holes in the ledge for your boobs to go into (they want to keep the tissue separate from your body) and you have your arms out in front of you. It took a few tries for me to lay properly so that everything lined up ok, but the tech was really great again and helped me get into the position that was going to get the best images in the machine.

Right before I went into the MRI machine, I got my earplugs (you totally need those for MRIs) and the tech hooked up my IV to a machine. For the first part of the MRI, there would be some saline going into the IV. But about 2/3rds of the way though, there would be contrast going through my IV to get a different type of images. I tried not to think about the IV too much and was slid into the machine.

While I was face down, my face was close to the front of the room so I could see light. And they had a fan at the front and the back of the machine so there was air always moving around me. Some of the images took 5 minutes and some were shorter. Each time, the tech warned me how long the session would be and I tried to stay distracted or count down the time. It’s extremely loud inside of the machine, and since my hip MRI had my head out of the machine I didn’t realize it would be quite as loud as it ended up being. It wasn’t too bad (the sound was very muffled with the ear plugs) and I tried to use the variety of noises to distract me.

Then it was time for the contrast to go into my IV. My mom had warned me that the contrast sometimes hurts, but it was more uncomfortable than I expected. The contrast is a thicker liquid than the saline so it feels weird. It wasn’t unbearable or anything, but I think the shock of the feeling made it feel worse to me than it really was. As soon as the contrast was all injected into my IV (it was done by a machine and not the tech), the tech ran into the room and disconnected my IV so that I didn’t get anything else into my vein. That made the discomfort go away almost right away.

After the contrast went in, there were only a few more minutes inside of the MRI machine. And before I knew it, it was all done and the tech was pulling the table out of the machine so I could get up. She first had to remove the IV from my hand and bandage it up, but I was able to sit up within a few minutes of being done. My body didn’t hurt too much, but my abs were a bit sore because I think I was tensing my body up from time to time and that gave my core a bit of a workout.

I didn’t get any pictures of the MRI process. I was so tempted to ask the tech to take one while I was in the machine, but I didn’t want to distract her from her work or make her run behind with other patients. But I did take a picture in the dressing room after everything was done.


I felt really great after the MRI was done. I was so nervous about the IV and I made it through that. I was nervous what the MRI would be like or if I would have any issues, and fortunately I didn’t really have any problems. I haven’t gotten my results back yet, but I’m not too worried. This is just a baseline MRI so that future MRIs can be compared to it. I also know that MRIs (just like being young and getting mammograms) can have false positive results, so if I do hear back that there was something suspicious I’m not super concerned. There is no reason for me to believe that there is anything wrong with me and that’s the mindset I’m sticking with.

I know that having cancer screenings can be scary. You are terrified that they will find something and that’s why many people don’t do them. I totally understand that feeling, but I also know how important it is for me to be on top of my health and this is just a part of life for me now. I don’t know if I will be doing any more cancer screenings before I’m 40 (that will be up to my doctor and the geneticist to decide), but whichever way it goes I trust my doctors and that they are looking out for me.