Monthly Archives: March 2015

6.2 Hemoglobin Count and Still Kicking

For those health care practitioners out there, you are probably screaming at me to run to the ER because I obviously have some internal bleeding. After some routine blood work as part of my physical, my doctor called me frantic, saying that he had been trying to reach me all weekend and feared that there was something seriously wrong with me because I was not answering the phone. Truth is, like most people, I don’t answer the phone if I don’t know the number. He then proceeded to tell me my hemoglobin level was 6.2, way below the normal range of 12-14 and I needed to go the the emergency room immediately. Here’s the thing…. I felt fine. I worked out that morning (when the admitting nurse heard this she called me a bad ass). I was A-ok. Totally normal. And I was at work so I was not about to take a sick day if I didn’t have to.

Against doctor’s orders, I went to the Emergency room after work. More blood work, waiting, more waiting. At least I had a book and a full telephone battery. The doctor came in with even more terrifying news. “You are being admitted. You need a blood transfusion.” Hold please… At this point, the only thing wrong with me is a spike in my blood pressure because I now have an IV in my arm and have to tell my parents that I am in the hospital. Long story short, I signed myself out. No blood transfusion and still a 6.2 hemoglobin count. I did stay home from work the next day.

So what was the final verdict?? I have Thalassemia. A genetic blood disorder which causes chronic Anemia. I just don’t make enough hemoglobin. And here I thought I was normal.To put things in perspective, I trained for and ran half marathons, a full marathon and completed several intense cardio programs at a hemoglobin level were normal people would pass out or have a gun shot wound. The human body is an amazing thing. My body adapted to be able to train and workout at intense levels, when by all Doctor’s accounts and tests, I should not be able to walk, let alone run. And for full disclosure, I never knew why I couldn’t do high impact exercises. Yes folks, I am a modifier. If I were to go all out, I probably would have a heart attack. And I did come close the first time I Cardio Fix from the 21 Day fix. I had to stop because I felt dizzy and short of breath. Lessons: know your limits and it is perfectly fine to modify!! Don’t try to kill yourself because you think you have to go balls to the wall to prove that you can workout at Shaun T’s level.

After a follow up trip to the hematologist, I am now on prescription iron (yeah I know). But I have counteracted all side effects by increasing my water intake and I becoming vegan. My standard meal is corn, kale, mushrooms, chard, and lentils. Fiber is my friend. I try to stay away from soy thanks the Frankie the fibroid. I do have some meat, but it is maybe once a month. And I will be having steak when I go to Disney World in May. I went back to the hematologist last week for a check up and I happy to say that my levels are now a whopping 9!!!! I made 4 pints of blood in 6 weeks. Booyah! I go back in 4 months and hopefully will be able to kick the iron pills to the curb.

I embrace my abnormally low hemoglobin levels because Thalassemia is just one trait that make me…. me. It’s a part of who I am and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Later Days

Hit the Road B

Full disclosure…. my fitness journey did not start with Beachbody. Gasp!! My road to fitness actually started on the road. I was looking to challenge myself about 4 years ago, so I decided to register for the Broad Street Run.  Never heard of it? It is quite possibly the most popular road race in Philadelphia. 10 miles through… wait 10 miles? Who would want to run 10 miles for fun??? Who would want to pay to run 10 miles through Philadelphia? This crazy girl. I found a running group that offered training for beginner runners and signed up. I was ready for the challenge

Training went well. I knew I wasn’t the fastest of the bunch and that was ok. I was ready for the endless  miles, possible cramps, shortness of breath, and the joy of crossing the finish line. I was not prepared for near 80 degree weather that greeted me on that first Saturday in May.  I remember running through the many fire hydrants that were opened along the course to help stave off overheating. I am happy to report that not only did I cross the finish line on my own to feet.

Flash forward a couple of years…. I had been thinking about running off and on for about a year.  I had stopped due to household budget cuts and could not longer afford race fees, sneakers, and membership fees. When I started to think about getting back into running, I wondered if my muscles would remember what it was like to run up and down Kelly Drive. I wondered if my running shoes that have been in the back of the closet where still ok to run in. I wondered if my spirit would remember what it was like to be at peace along the river, remember what it was like to just let everything go and truly be in the moment.

So listening to my gut, I entered the Broad Street run lottery. The race has gotten so popular over the past 2 years that they have instituted a random draw lottery (insert gratuitous Hunger Games reference here). So I signed up, waited two weeks and at 4:30 on a Monday morning, I got the email. I would be running Broad Street!! Fear and excitement ran (hehe) through my body! I was lucky enough to get a spot! I would be running Broad Street. Holy Shit…. I will be running 10 miles and I hadn’t ran in 2 years. What is a girl to do??

I guess the odds were ever in my favor

Dust off her shoes and hit the road. That’s what. I found an old training plan, wrote out my running/PiYo schedule in my planner.  Luckily for me, I would finish Max 30 the Friday before my training began. But that was exercise endurance.Would that transfer into running endurance???

There was only one way to find out. My first day of training, after work, I put on a pair of sweatpants, a Nike hoodie (best piece of winter wear ever!), turtle fur headband, a good playlist and off I went.

I don’t know if it was increased fitness level, my increased iron levels (more on that later), or my new found confidence, but once I started running, it was like I had never stopped. I found my stride and did not hold back. I was supposed to run only a mile and a half that first day, but due to some fuzzy math, I ran 2 and half miles with no problem. And on top of that, I felt like I was running faster and after looking at my Nike GPS watch I was. For the first time in my life, I ran a sub 11 minute mile. What the cuss!!!!  For me, that is like Kara Goucher speed. And that was just the first day.

Saturday would be the test… My first long run. 3 miles….

How could you not have an awesome run with a view like this!

It was cold, but absolutely breath taking. There is nothing like running along a snow covered Kelly Drive with the sun shining brightly and Debroah Cox blasting in your headphones. So totally stoked for this week’s runs. Oh and my pace for 3 miles…. 10:50. Thanks Shaun T!!

Later Days

Insanity Max 30 – The Final Results

Well, 60 days has come and gone and I made it through Max 30! Like I said before, I knew Insanity Max 30 was just that, insane and I would have to push myself to make it through every workout. Overall Shaun T brought it. An intense cardio and strength training program that had me wondering why I would put myself through this torture. He yelled at me to move faster when I knew full well that if I moved any faster, I would pass out and have to be revived by the dog. But I am so happy that I pressed play and completed this program.

What I ultimately learned, was that Max 30 was more mental than physical. Yes the workouts were tough, but when I first started the program, my mind would give up before my body was ready to, just because I thought that if i didn’t take a break now, I wouldn’t make it through to the end. By day 60, I was saying to myself, “You are going to make it through this workout even if you have to decrease your range of motion or slow down, but you are going to get through this no matter what.” And that’s what I did!
Water breaks were my friend and a measuring tool. Yes, I needed water because I was working out like a crazy person, but the circuits were broken into 5 minute segments with 30 second water breaks (except for the ridiculously hard Friday workouts). All I kept saying to myself was,
“Just make it through the 5 minutes and you can have your life-saving water and a chance to catch your breath!” Sometimes you have to play Jedi Mind tricks with yourself 🙂
Another aspect that I love about Max 30, is Shaun T, even though I wanted to punch him in the face and look at him all kinds of crazy when he decided that it was a good idea to do 8 count push ups after 5 minutes of push up jacks and shoulder taps (yeah, insane).  He is amazing, motivating, inspiring, and funny. And he keeps it real throughout all of the workouts. I was comforted in the fact that even Shaun T hates Shaun T sometimes and even he can’t make it through his own workout without taking a break. Mind blown. The motivational speech before the workout is amazing, and a little frightening.
Thanks to Insanity Max 30, I have learned that I love tabata workouts. Month 1 the intervals were 30 seconds. Month 2… 45 seconds which felt like an eternity. You can do anything for 45 seconds if you put your mind to it. I will definitely be looking into ways to incorporate Tabata into my workout routines.
I also learned to Dig Deeper and sometimes falling out is the only option. I thought that I had some resemblance of upper body strength that myth was was squashed during the first 10 minutes of Max Strength. After one set of 4 count push ups, it felt like I had burning coals for arms. I think it took about 2 hours for my arms to function normally after that workout. The results are amazing. My arms are more toned than ever, and I did not lift one single weight. In Max 30, your body is your equipment. How cool is that.

This is exactly what I thought of Shaun T…. * explicit language
Because of Max 30, I have found my life. Not the meaning of life or my purpose on this planet. But I have found that I wasn’t maxing out at life. I was comfortable going back into child’s pose when things got rough instead of taking a deep breath and pushing through the tough stuff. If I can survive Friday Night Fight Round 2 (the hardest workout I have ever done in my life), then I can handle anything(within reason).
Oh, before I forget, here are my results….
Day 1



Day 60

Well there you have peeps. My Insanity Max 60 Adventure. On to the next big thing… The Broad Street Run!

Later Days!