Valentine`s Day and this week in exercise

Well, hello, friends.  Happy Valentine`s day to every one of you!  As cheesy as this holiday is, I actually really love having an excuse to shower love on my friends and family.  So I`ll start out by sending some out to all of you.

valentine meme

(A little Harry Potter humor never hurt anybody…)

This week was the first week of my new workout program.  And it is tough.  I feel like I felt back in November when I first started meeting with my trainer…  totally awkward and intimidated by all of the new exercises I`m supposed to be able to do.  I will share my leg day and upper body day routines with you in my upcoming posts.  They`re hard.  I miss squats and lunges and bicep curls.  I do not like one armed pushups and sprints…  just when I was getting comfortable…  BOOM.  Welcome to hell, body.

So I`m sore every day and pooping the Advil again.  The fun part is that I know my body will adapt over the next couple of weeks, and I`m going to get great at this stuff.  Except maybe the one armed pushups, which I may never be great at.  We`ll see how that goes.

I`ve been at the gym every day this week except yesterday.  I`m on nights at work this week, so today is a recovery day for me.  I`m about to spend it on the elliptical doing 45-60min of cardio.  I may even throw in some deadlifts and squats, but that has yet to be decided.  It depends on how much exhaustion-nausea I still have once I`m at the gym.  It`s days like this that remind me why I love running/cardio so much.  I am already looking forward to that feeling that I’ll have after a good sweat.

I rang in my Valentine`s Day by admitting a little patient who was in a house fire.  He and his cousin came to our hospital with some bad smoke inhalation.  They were transferred from a smaller hospital, and arrived by plane just after midnight.  They are perfect little boys.  Chubby little toddlers who are just growing into boyhood.  They are very sick, but I have hope that we`ll help them get better and this will all just be a crazy nightmare far in their past one day.  It was a crazy shift last night.  But seriously, guys…  I don`t care if you`re in a relationship or not, I know there are people in your lives that you love.  Parents, sibling, nieces, nephews, best friends…  Do me a favor and ask them to be your Valentine today.  🙂  (Or at the very least, say something nice to them.)

So after I go to the gym and show myself some love, it`s all about quality time with the husband tonight and with the girlfriends tomorrow.  I wish all of you a fabulous weekend.  here’s to taking good care of yourself and of the people around you!


Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and an essential truth about Nursing

I know this blog is primarily about fitness.  But sometimes, I like to talk about my work as well.  Mainly because there are a lot of similarities between having a challenging fitness schedule and having a challenging job.  It`s almost impossible not to apply the life lessons I learn from nursing to staying fit, and vice versa.

This past weekend was a great weekend at work.  It was tough and scary at times, but utterly satisfying in the end.  My patient went from being crazy unstable to being sort of stable…  three days of solid work by a great team of surgeons and ICU doctors and nurses and RTs.  It was one of those weekends that makes me love my job.  It`s absolutely humbling being entrusted with such fragile little patients, and it`s a great feeling to know that I can help them get stronger.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, it’s made me reflect on how far I’ve come in my career as a nurse.  When I was a new nurse, this patient would have terrified me.  And I’ll be honest, we had some pretty intense moments with this little patient over the weekend, and it was still pretty scary at times.  But somehow, in the past 5 years, I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  That stress that I feel when I see something going wrong and I need to act fast is actually a very good thing.  I’ve gotten to know that feeling, learned to act on it and live with it in my work at the bedside.  That feeling is part of being an ICU nurse.  Instead of trying to avoid it, like you do when you’re young and inexperienced and everything in the hospital scares you, good nurses learn to use it.  That “oh shit” feeling is your friend in a lot of ways.  It makes you act, and take control of the situation.  You learn to love the discomfort.

I could apply this lesson in a thousand ways to other parts of my life.  Let’s talk about the “oh shit” feeling you get when you hit a wall during a tough run.  I’m pretty sure we’ve all felt it.  How can I learn, as a runner, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable?  Well, I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that one.  And I know you all do too, because it’s kind of obvious.  Practice makes perfect.  The more unstable patients I have, the better I get at taking care of them.  The more I push myself past my comfort zone when I run, the better I will become at dealing with it.

As obvious as all of this seems, it’s nice to have a reminder of it every once in a while.  I guess I`m having an “oh yeah” moment.  This is why I train hard.  So that when I’m uncomfortable during a race, I’ll be ok with it.  I’ll know how to take control. 

I’ll be honest, I’m still learning that lesson when it comes to my fitness.  I used to really just run for fun, so if I wasn’t feeling it, I didn’t have much motivation to push through and keep going.  But if I’m serious about running longer distances, I’m going to have to learn how to be uncomfortable.  Eeesh, this doesn’t sound fun.  But I’m pretty sure I can do it.  If I can adjust to caring for critically ill children, I can probably adjust to anything, right?

So that’s my essential truth about Nursing.  If teaches me how to be better in all areas of my life.  And I think that’s probably true about running, about loving, about doing anything that’s actually worthwhile.

Saturday Night Failure

How do you know if you’ve been a nurse for too long?  You can no longer tell the difference between weekdays and weekends…  That is what happened to me tonight.

Maybe it should have been a sign that something was off when I left my freshly made coffee at home this morning.  I have felt like this all day:

first world problemsAnyway, so I had this big plan to head to the gym after work today and get in 45-60min of cardio.  Of course, silly little me…  I forgot that it’s Saturday!!  My gym closes super early on Saturdays (I think at 5pm) and so when I arrived, it was closed!  How could I forget??!  Am I the only one who’s done this?

I am upset about this.

Seriously, I’m super disappointed to miss cardio day.  As tired as I was after work, I know that when I get in some good time on the elliptical or the treadmill, I not only feel amazing afterwards and sleep super well that night, but I have more energy the next day.  I’ve really started to rely on post-work cardio to help get me through my back-to-back-to-back shifts…  and tomorrow is going to be a huge day at work for me, so I was really looking forward to my gym time.  I’m actually cranky without it.  I never thought I’d be this person, but here I am.  Little miss I didn’t get my run in today crankypants.


I considered running outside, but it’s 15 below and super slippery out there.  Walking home from the bus was harrowing enough.  It just isn’t an option tonight.  So I ended up coming home and doing a Gillian Micheals workout DVD.  I used to do these and think that they were super tough, just pouring sweat the entire time, so I thought it might be a good substitute for cardio day.  Sadly (well, maybe not sadly, I guess this is a good sign) I am left feeling completely unsatisfied after that workout.  It wasn’t that hard, and it only lasted 25min.

Insert your that’s what she said jokes here…

So the good news is, I’m much stronger than I used to be back when I thought Gillian Micheals was tough.  Silver lining, I suppose.

Tomorrow night is a day off because I have post work dinner and drink plans with friends, so my next gym day is Monday.  I have a trainer appointment, so at least I know it won’t disappoint.  Until then, I am going to be spending the rest of my night online looking for genius at-home cardio ideas for those who live in small downtown apartments and don’t have treadmills (and whose husbands are at work so they can’t box together right now.)  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Do you work out for your body, or your mind?

After starting my week with 3 straight days of yoga, I ended my week with 3 straight days of work.  (If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it’s because I worked part of the weekend.)  Although this yoga thing is still new to me, it’s already getting in my head!  But I mean that in a good way.

I will explain.

This week at work SUCKED.  There’s no other way to describe it.  As an ICU nurse, I take care of one very sick patient all day long, which means that I’m in the room with their family for 12 straight hours.  In other parts of the hospital, where patients are not critically ill, a nurse has a few different patients to care for, and has to split her time between them.  While that is challenging in its own way, this week’s major challenge for me was dealing with the family of my sick little patient for 12 long hours every day.  This was my only patient, and there was no escape.

nurse meme

Simply put, my patient’s father has an anger problem.  The poor man, who I’m sure was stressed out of his mind and super worried about his daughter, took all of that stress and worry out on me for 3 straight days.  He yelled, he swore, he got into my space while I was trying to do procedures that would help stabilize his daughter.  This man was rude, aggressive and inappropriate.  He made it harder for me to do my job, he yelled at his wife, he yelled at the RTs, he treated all of us with disrespect.

I can honestly tell you that at one point, while I was administering extra oxygen and helping my little patient to breathe, watching her vital signs dip and troubleshooting the situation, suctioning with one hand, bagging with the other, with the patient’s father yelling at me the whole time as if somehow that’s going to help me concentrate, I could hear the yoga instructor from my YouTube videos saying “Breathe in, breathe out. You are strong.”

I’m crouching over my patient to suction her, trying to avoid the spit coming out of her father’s mouth as he yells pretty much directly into my ear…  “Suction her!  What are you fucking doing?  You need to go deeper!  She needs oxygen!  Ahhh, tabernac!  Stop touching her!  You’re making it worse!  Ostie de merde!”  I’d say something back if I wasn’t so busy trying to help his daughter breathe.

“Find your center, plant your feet into the ground and stay in this pose.  You are strong.”  Ahhh, yes.  I am strong.  My patient’s vitals are improving.  She’s starting to stabilize again.  I step back from the bedside, turn and look the father in the face.  He’s swearing at me, half in English and half in French, telling me how to do my job and berating me.  If I was a little less strong, I would yell back at him.  “I’ve been doing this for 5 years.  I know how to treat children with this disease, I promise you, this is not my first rodeo.”  I would tell him to back off, or call security and have him escorted out of the ICU.  I don’t feel like dealing with this shit anymore.  I need to focus on my job, I need to be able to help this man’s daughter get well without dealing with the constant distraction of having him all up in my space!!  Take a deep breath in and find your center. 

The truth is, this man is afraid.  He is yelling because he doesn’t know what else to do.  He is worried for his daughter’s life.  And while I have every right to throw him out of the room, and some nurses would have, I try to remember that I am the one who’s strong, he is the one in a weakened position.  Why humiliate him by kicking him out of the ICU?  This will only make him more angry.  Why argue with him?  Take a deep breath, maintain your calm, look this man in the eye, and reassure him.

This was one of those weeks when the mantras I use to get myself through a run or a workout started popping into my head and helping me through a day at work.  I can do hard things.  Relax, find your center, you are strong.  Sometimes I think working out and running are even more important for my mental health than my physical health.  I wonder, if I didn’t learn to stay calm and focused during a run or a visit to the gym, would I have the same focus in other parts of my life?  Do I work out for my body, or is it really for my mind?  Probably a little of both, but this week, it was my mind that needed that discipline, and I was so glad that I could dig deep and find it.

Not super anything

I have to admit, I`ve been more ICU then Runner lately.  My first week back at work is hitting me pretty hard, and the 12 hour shifts have me getting home at 8:30pm, making a quick dinner, and passing right out afterwards.  My running schedule has been a bit of a mess this week, and I think my mood has started to show it.

Today was a rough day.  I spent 12 hours being abused by an ungrateful and manipulative patient, and by the time I got home, I`d really had enough.  Enough of ducking flying fists and medical equipment. Enough of trying to be kind to a very angry and very sick teenager who really needed my patience and kindness.  I think I did a good job, but I was burnt out afterwards.  It was just really tough.

It was cold comfort coming home to an empty apartment, knowing that Joe was himself knee deep in an evening shift as a doctor at the emergency department.  He won`t be home until I`m already asleep, because I have to go back for more tomorrow morning.

Good lord, how will I face tomorrow without losing my mind??

I think this is a brilliant example of why I run, and why I fell in love with running in the first place.  For the first time in a long time, I went for a run because I needed to.  It had nothing to do with my pace or my distance or my training schedule.  The second I walked in the door, I was changing out of my scrubs and into my running gear and heading right back out.  There are days when I come home feeling like super nurse, or super wife, or even sometimes super athlete.  Tonight I didn’t feel like super anything.  I needed that run, just to get my mind clear, to get my sanity back.  To burn off the frustration of the day and prepare for tomorrow.  This is why I run.

Today’s workout log: 6.1 blissful miles in 1:01.


Hangover Tuesday

I`ve mentioned in earlier posts that I`m an ICU nurse, but I haven`t explained that I`m currently taking a bit of time away from that and doing research.  I`ve been working 8 hour days, 4 days a week, sitting at a desk for the first time in my life.  This phase of my life is about to come to an end, when Joe and I move back to our lives and jobs in Canada at the end of the month, and we`re both back to our crazy healthcare clinician lifestyle. 

For now, I am a 9-5er, a lifestyle that doesn`t suit me nor has it ever appealed to me.  I`m actually looking forward to 12 hour night shifts right now, something that I never thought I`d say, just so I can be back inside an ICU again.  And with only 2 weeks left at my current job, I`m pretty much just DYING.  DYING to get back home!!

I woke up a little bit hungover this morning and I don`t think I fully shook it off.  I worked my usual day today but have to go back in tonight to facilitate a research project at 9pm.  So I had a whole 3.5 hours to make dinner, eat, run my 3 miles, and then shower and get ready to head back to work.  I decided just to run on the treadmill in our building`s gym so it would be a bit faster… 3 miles of hungover running and that`s another workout logged.  I have to say, it was just about survival today, but at least I did it.  I hated every second of that run, but I already feel so much better for it.

My time was actually kind of not bad, at least for me.  I think it`s because the guy on the treadmill next to me (who looked like a slightly younger version of the coach from Freaks and Geeks) kept nodding at me and trying to get my attention in the mirror. 

Not cool. 

Dude, I HAVE to look in that mirror, the whole wall is a mirror and I`m running on a treadmill that faces it.

So needless to say, I couldn`t get out of there fast enough.  I almost forgot to check my time at the end of my run, but I think it was 28:18. 

And now, after my hellish run with my aching legs silently cursing me for all those beers I had last night (legs, stop your complaining, it`s the playoffs!), I truly feel…  fantastic.  I will be about a million times nicer to my husband when get home from my evening of work tonight than I would have been if I`d just holed up in bed all evening, watching trashy TV and drinking Gatorade. 

And that is why I run.  🙂