Friday, March 29, 2013

Worrywart

Telling someone with anxiety not to worry is like telling them not to breathe.  It's not possible.  Our brains don't all work the same.  It makes me crazy when someone who hasn't walked in my shoes tells me how simply I can do this or that to change my life.  Well, maybe that works for THAT person but it isn't necessarily going to work for me.

A little over a year ago, I wrote about my battle with depression.  I think it surprises a lot of people that the outgoing girl they see in person and/or on Facebook deals with these kinds of issues.  But we are all fighting our own battles and we are each on our own journey.  I haven't walked in your shoes, so I don't know what it's like to be you.  And vice versa. 

Anxiety and depression sometimes go hand in hand.  Sometimes not.  I've never felt like I was a high-anxiety person but I have definitely noticed an increase in the last six months since starting this new job.  I went from working from home two days a week and being able to wear flip flops and yoga pants everyday, supporting only one attorney in a non-litigation firm, to commuting daily on a dirty BART train and supporting three very, very busy litigation attorneys. 

I recently decided to start seeing a psychiatrist again (as opposed to a counselor/therapist, or a psychologist).  A psychiatrist can prescribe medication.  On our first visit, he gave me a klonopin prescription.  This is a pretty strong drug and I only take half a pill at a time.  I saw this guy three times and by our third visit, he was offering me another prescription (I hadn't even used 1/4 of what he'd given me).  I decided to stop seeing this doctor for other reasons, but still have my "chill pill," as he liked to call them, in case I need them. 

For some people, life can be too much and there is nothing wrong with deciding to take medication. If you had a heart condition, you'd take your heart pill. If you had diabetes, you'd give yourself an insulin shot.   So if your brain needs help, why wouldn't you find a medication that works for you?  Unfortunately, there are so many different medications, and not everyone reacts the same. The side effects might make it not worth it. So that's only a decision you and your doctor should make together. 

Anyway, I write about issues like this so you know you aren't alone.  We all have our issues and hopefully we have a supportive network of friends and family who can help us through it.  I encourage those of you who need help to go find it.  Sometimes it can be scary to share your problems with a stranger, but I feel like (once you find the right doctor or therapist), it can change your life for the better. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vitamin D3 (dry) and Gastric Bypass

Yesterday, I updated my vitamin list and today, I wanted to talk about why Vitamin D dry (or at least a non-softgel) is a better fit for gastric bypass patients.  We are malabsorptive in general of vitamins and nutrients after our intestines are re-routed, so certain vitamins don't absorb as well as others.  That includes Vitamin D in a softgel. 

I found a link comparing various Vitamin D supplements for gastric bypass patients.  Why re-invent the wheel?  Check out that article HERE

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery points out that gastric bypass patients are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency due to having part of their small intestine bypassed. They should get regular blood tests to monitor their vitamin D levels and supplement as necessary.

Linus Pauling Institute explains that D3 is absorbed best by everyone, including but not limited to gastric bypass patients.

...softgels filled with oil ... don't work well for gastric bypass patients since they malabsorb fats.

And from the ThinnerTimes forum, read the entire post HERE.

50,000IU gelcaps of vitamin D are always D2 (Ergocalciferol).

We absorb the dry form D3 (Cholecalciferol) far better. D3 is the human form; D2 is the non-human form found in plants and is cheaper!

But apart from that, people with malabsorptive procedures absorb the dry forms of the fat soluable vitamins A, C, D and E over the oil based supplements.

Regarding vitamin D, this is from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
The case against ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as a vitamin supplement -- Houghton and Vieth 84 (4): 694 -- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

The top two bariatric supplement companies: Celebrate and Bariatric Advantage only use D3 (Cholecalciferol).

The cheapest 50,000IU dry form D3 I know of is from vitalady - $21.49/100 tabs:
Vitalady.com - Protein Supplements, Vitamins & Minerals and Safe Snacks!

So, there you go.  Sounds like dry Vitamin D3 is our best option for absorption.  What I need to research next is whether sitting in the sun is as effective or better than taking a supplement.  I'm always looking for reasons to get a little extra sunlight. 

Does anyone else have anything to add to this?  I had to add Vitamin D into my vitamin regimin two or three years ago.  I was low and my doctor said to add it in.  My levels are back to normal but I still take a dry D3 every day. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Update: Vitamins and Gastric Bypass

In 2011, I wrote a post about the vitamins I take.  Although I mostly take the same vitamins (so you can read the old post HERE about why I take them), I wanted to post an update to types and amounts. 

I still take a Target/generic brand prenatal pill as my multi-vitamin.

I, for a short time, started taking iron due to slight anemia last year, but am back to normal and have discontinued taking iron.

I also still take echinacea.  Who knows if it works, but I take an immuno-suppressant to help with my psoriasis and I feel like any help I can get to ward away colds is a necessary evil.  The Stelara shot suppresses my immune system and can make me stay sick longer.  So I try to avoid getting sick.

I also still take a daily dose of L-Lysine (1,000 mg) to ward off cold sores.  Since I have a stressful job, keeping those at bay is one of my number one concerns.  I know it seems silly, but I REALLY hate cold sores.

I have been lax on the acidophilus.  It's in my fridge.  I kind of forget about it. 

I take B12 daily.  1,000 mcg.  Post-surgery instructions suggested twice a week, but I figure it can't hurt to take it more often. 

Even though I find myself to be a bit sensitive to niacin (B3), I am back to taking a B-complex vitamin.  I was low in B1 awhile back, so its one of those vitamins that I need to take.  Sometimes if I'm vitamin shopping at somewhere like Target, I can't find B1 alone, so I'll just lazily grab a B-complex.

I also take calcium-citrate (500 mg) with Vitamin D and Magnesium.  Read HERE about calcium.

I still take a Vitamin D3 (2,000 IU) pill, but have switched to the "dry" version.  Most Vitamin D pills are oily capsules that look like mini Vitamin E's.  Apparently gastric bypass patients can have a hard time absorbing those (I'm hoping to write a post about that soon). 

I still take a Vitamin E dl-alpha (400 IU) pill.  It is an oily capsule, so who knows if I am absorbing it properly.

I have stopped taking the joint supplement.  It's expensive and I'm not sure it was helping that much.

I am still taking an omega-three supplement.  I have switched from regular fish oil to krill oil.  It contains 420 mg of Phospholipids.  The switch is due to my newly-found heart issue (I was also informed that my new issue is not necessarily related to my old issue....I now have an inflamed heart.  Before I had an enlarged heart.).  Anyway, the krill oil is supposed to help with inflammation.

I have added magnesium to the mix (250 mg each...but I take two to three per day).  You can read about my adventures with magnesium and sweat HERE.

I also added 50 mg of zinc and a CoQ10 supplement (100 mg).  I try to remember to take a little Vitamin C from time to time as well. 

I basically take my cache of pills and eat them at work with dried apricots and almonds or pistachios (I do not take most vitamins on the weekend).  Some vitamins are fat-soluble so eating a little fat with them will help with absorption.  Along with everything else, I'm taking a daily baby aspirin for the heart issue and take Aleve for body aches -- mostly my foot issue (yes, I am aware I shouldn't take either).  I rarely get headaches but will take Tylenol for that.  I take allergy pills for my year-round "seasonal" allergies. 

Vitamins are VERY important post-surgery.  (Read Melissa's story HERE.)  I am nine years post-op and still get my blood tested every year.  Every year I'm low in something new.  I am hoping to be in normal ranges for all tests this year.  I am certainly taking more than enough pills to make that happen!

What vitamins are you taking and are there some you think you should be taking but aren't?  Tell me about them here!

Malabsorption after Gastric Bypass Surgery

So in one of our support group meetings, one of our more knowledgeable members mentioned that gastric bypass patients are only malabsorptive in the calorie department for a year or so after surgery.  The body apparently has an amazing ability to adapt and the lower intestine will "re-grow" villi.  Funny that we seem to gain back the ability to absorb calories, but not necessarily the ability to absorb nutrients. 

Anyway, I went on the hunt for some information.  I had a hard time really finding anything concrete.  I see message boards were people are asking and answering questions, but not much "real" authority.  Here's some of what I found:

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/28/2/481.full

Protein deficiency is easy to recognize by following albumin. Fat malabsorption manifests its presence by loss of fat-soluble vitamins. Patients can present with a number of problems after this procedure. In our clinic, the most common presenting complaint is fractured bones or a bone density study showing “severe bone loss.” Due to fat malabsorption, severe vitamin D deficiency will develop along with an already reduced ability to absorb calcium (23).
                
In general, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K will be deficient in two-thirds of these patients within 4 years after surgery. Up to 50% will have hypocalcemia, and all of these patients with low vitamin D levels will have secondary hyperparathyroidism (24,25).
                
Manifestations of all the different fat-soluble vitamins can be seen, ranging from unusual rashes, to osteomalacia, to easy bruising. Fortunately, there is a rather simple solution: pancreatic enzyme replacement. When pancreatic enzymes are replaced, there is some weight regain, and physicians often observe patient noncompliance as a result. The hyperparathyroidism may be difficult to treat and may require separate treatment or even surgery.
                
Other problems associated with this type of procedure include severe hair loss, liver disease (usually transient), kidney disease, and unusual body odors (26). The lifestyle after this procedure can be difficult due to the frequent bowel movements (over 10 times a day) and the foul-smelling stool that the fat malabsorption causes.

http://www.obesityhelp.com/forums/rny/4253502/Malabsorption-How-long-does-it-last/

No one knows for sure; each person has their own experiences. However, since weight loss tends to slow for most around the 18 month mark, that is a safe benchmark I suppose.

*****

Studies on this topic are mostly done on patients who had cancer or some other form of a diseased intestinal tract and had to have a portion of their intestines removed to save their lives. The body is pretty amazing and can "heal" itself to a certain extent. The micro-nutrient malabsorption (vitamins/minerals) will never fully repair, but the macro-nutrient (calories/protein/fat/carbs) malabsorption will eventually be repairs completely. This process is called adaptation.

From what I've read, it looks like the adaptation process begins almost immediately after surgery - within 4 days. But it can take up to 2 or 3 years to complete depending on your body and how much was bypassed. The remaining intestine will grow longer and stronger and more dense villi - the little finger-like tentacles that grab nutrients from food as it brushes by. It's also called the brush border. But since vitamins/minerals have assigned locations of absorption, no amount of extra villi will make us absorb vitamins that had their assigned location bypassed.
Here's a diagram [note: link no longer valid] that explains those locations.

For more reading about Adaptation. Here's some links:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122341206/abstract http://www.springerlink.com/content/m6h3622488510617/ http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/133/11/3703

This doctor claims that there is no caloric malabsorption at all:  http://www.thinnertimesforum.com/topic/59658-calories-in-normal-stomach-vs-gastric-bypass-stomach/?p=730692

Your food is absorbed by your small intestine. The stomach churns up your food, and the stomach juices start the digestive process. After a gastric bypass you will probably still absorb 100% of the calories that your eat. There is less absorption of B12 and Iron, possibly of Calcium, but unfortunately not of calories.

http://www.thinnertimesforum.com/topic/59753-no-calorie-malabsorption/

Web MD: "Gastric bypass
Gastric bypass surgery makes the stomach smaller and allows food to bypass part of the small intestine. You will feel full more quickly than when your stomach was its original size, which reduces the amount of food you eat and thus the calories consumed. Bypassing part of the intestine also results in fewer calories being absorbed. This leads to weight loss.

Medline Plus: "Your diet after gastric bypass surgeryURL of this page:
http://www.nlm.nih.g...ions/000173.htm
You had gastric bypass surgery. This surgery made your stomach smaller by closing off most of your stomach with staples. It changed the way your body handles the food you eat. You will eat less food, and your body will not absorb all the calories from the food you eat.

Laproscopic MD: "This technique is called a roux-en-Y intestinal bypass. Once in place, food passes from the stomach pouch directly into the jejunum, bypassing the duodenum. Because of this bypass, there is reduced absorption of calories and nutrients.

ASMBS association says "Treatment of morbid obesity and obesity related disease and condition: limits the amount of food the stomach can hold and/or limits the amount of calories absorbed.

*****

Any malabsorption from calories wouldn't last for long anyway.

The body is a miraculous thing and our intestines grow additional villi to compensate for the RYN's bypass. Villi are finger-like projections in the small intestine that help absorb food more efficiently in the body.


*****

At a recent follow up I asked my doctor about villi regrowth and she said it doesn't happen. She also said if your tool stops working completely it's due to human error - not measuring or eating the appropriate foods, fluid intake, etc. 

*****

Patients who have had a part of their intestine removed by surgery undergo a process called intestinal adaptation. During intestinal adaptation, the intestine may grow in size after surgery. The surface area inside the intestine increases as the mucosa (lining of the intestine) becomes thicker. The villi (the lining of the intestine responsible for intestinal absorption) become longer and denser, helping to promote absorption of nutrients. The diameter of the intestine may also increase.

Here is a diagram from the posting above, which shows were things are absorbed. 


So according to what I found, you may be malabsorptive for 12, 18 or 24 months, or not at all.  Who knows...but I do know that whether I am absorbing my calories, I do have to be very careful with my vitamins.  I still have my blood labs on a yearly basis and each year I am somewhat deficient in something.  So I just "up" that vitamin and by the next year, I'm good.

Have you ever heard about calorie malabsorption?  If you have links to articles, please post them!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Fourth Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser to Benefit The National Kidney Foundation

Can you believe it is almost time for the FOURTH annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser?!

As most of you know, my friend and co-Twirly Girl, Rita, has had three kidney transplants in her lifetime.  In less than a month, Twirly Girls is hosting a fundraiser, which will benefit the National Kidney Foundation.

If you are a local business or a pole related/online business that would like to offer items for our raffle, please let me know.  If you would like to buy tickets to the fundraiser, they are $15.  We will also start selling raffle tickets soon.  Contact your favorite Twirly Girl to secure your spot.  You may make checks payable to the National Kidney Foundation if you would like a receipt for your tax deduction. 

Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM (door at 6:30 PM)
Location: Twirly Girls Pole Fitness, 288 Spring Street, Pleasanton, California

http://www.twirlygirlspolefitness.com

Please join us for a fun evening to support a great lady! 


Pole Moves: Using Twisted Grip

I have seen some heated conversations go down on Facebook about the evils of using a twisted grip.  Of course, now that I want to post about them, they are hidden in the dark corners of Facebook's timeline format.  I know David C. Owen is an advocate AGAINST the twisted grip. 

Read Aerial Amy's take on the twisted grip handspring HERE"When you put your top wrist in position, twist your chest and hips to face the ceiling, and then lift, you are bearing weight on joints (your shoulders and wrists, primarily) that are not meant to be bearing weight in that position. You need a good deal of shoulder flexibility, and wrist flexibility, to even get ready to go."

Check out some comments left in response to a Studio Veena post about twisted grip handspring:

TG is a great way to get tennis elbow aka lateral epicondylitis. I've have it now for going on 2 months and my practice is now severely limited. Thanks to TG, I have to wear a brace, ice 2x/day, and take anti-inflamatory meds. My orthopedic Dr. says it may take 12 weeks or more to fully heal. BE CAREFUL!! Don't too too many reps and make sure you are WARM first! A fatigued, cold muscle is the recipe for getting hurt.

----

Its the twisting of the arm that is bad, its no where near a neutral position and any time you go outside a neutral body position you risk injury, no matter how strong you are. There are always exceptions to the rules, like if someone is hyper flexible naturally...but that doesn't mean we should all strive to be hyperflexy. I have never heard of a move causing as much trouble on the joints as this one. Be careful if you do perform this one.

Here is a comment from another Studio Veena post about twisted grip and shoulder pain:

Most of it comes down to 3 things: improper form, improper strength or kicking into the move.

And another SV thread:

The twisted grip is a professional level move.
Never kick up into the twisted grip.
Flexibility and stability of the shoulder is needed to perform this move safely. Before working on this move inverts and shoulder mounts should be soiled and very controlled. The body must be highly conditioned before working on these high level moves. Even with all of these suggestions taken into consideration, I have still seen this move injure dancers.....

And another:

This move aggravated a non pole related injury for me personally and I have heard of and gotten emails from other dancers who have injured themselves because of this move. Soooo should anyone chose to try this TG mount, I feel it should be done from an invert and NOT by kicking up into the mount. Its a really unnatural position for the top arm to begin with, and adding the force of a kick and the jerking on the limbs that can result, means you can VERY easily injure yourself. If you have troubles at all with your wrist, elbows or shoulders DON'T try this move!

The twisted grip takes more abdominal strength and will feel more stable than a regular grip for the cartwheel mount and some other grips, because your not relying on arm strength as Chem said, but your "pulling/hanging" from a larger muscle group, the shoulder/upper back/teres major & minor ect.. and using a straight arm to push away from the bottom. The bottom arm can cause pain and trouble too if you tend to be hyperflexible at the elbow.

I know a good number of pole moves are far from ergonomically correct so this is my thought on the TG.... If someone has the strength and flexibility to perform this safely then that's fine for them, but I don't think this is a move that everyone should be doing.


----

I use the twisted grip and I don't mind talking about it. I have experienced some pains as the result of using the twisted grip which have kept me off of the pole for days at a time. Part of this is the physical awkwardness of the position itself, and part of it has been negligence on my own part. But I have also caused myself certain pains by doing other moves like the cartwheel mount. I think any move can be dangerous or harmful for someone whose musculature isn't prepared for it in terms of strength and flexibility, and even the very strong and very flexible can hurt themselves by trying advanced moves without being warmed up adequately first.

Here are some things I like about the twisted grip. I will preface this by saying I only like twisted grip after I am inverted. But once I am inverted, the grip feels more natural and seems less taxing on the wrist and elbow of my top bracket than does the split grip (or cartwheel mount). In addition to this, it offers a lot more control over the aerial movement done in inverted holds. Also, I feel like the twisted grip allows me to hold my torso straighter without the odd sideways-bowing that I have found characteristic of the split grip in inversions. Lastly, I really like that this grip offers the ability to do very slow and controlled lifts and dismounts, instead of leaps and falls.

Now here are some things that I do not like at all about the twisted grip! From the floor, it feels very awkward and can be painful if I am not very precise about my hand and body positioning. Also, pushing off into a slow lift, I have found, puts a lot of strain on the shoulder of my lower bracket (usually left for me) which can leave that shoulder hurting for a couple days (after all, a body is a lot of weight to put there). Further, if I have to shift around too much to get myself inverted in the twisted grip, I find that there is some discomfort for a day or two following behind my right shoulder blade and on the right side of my neck.

I do feel that most of the problems that I have had using the twisted grip could have been mostly alleviated though, if I had been fully warmed up before attempting to do any twisted grip handspring work. Also, whenever I do strength training, I use the Y.T.I. exercise formula that is posted in Veena's video. My friend panda (squishypanda9 who just joined the site today) has been doing that exercise and also Veena's wrist/forearm exercises with me, and I feel much safer when I'm on the pole knowing that I'm using Veena's advice to strengthen and protect some of my very vulnerable muscles and joints. And I've been on enough forced sabbaticals from the pole to realise that I'm just not going to get away with performing demanding pole moves when not adequately warmed up. And if I weren't as stubborn and sometimes dumb as I can be, I would have learnt the first time.

All that said, I learned all of the other grips before I started trying to work with TG. And I fully agree with Veena that this grip should be done from an invert before attempting the handspring. Even though I use the handspring, I still really enjoy going into the twisted grip from a "princess grip" shoulder mount. Once you get your legs on the pole, you can drop your lower bracket, and voila! You're in twisted grip and can butterfly, aysha, or whatever. I like doing inverted bodywave in twisted grip, and when I do it makes everyone at work go crazy!

I am not overly fond of the current TG obsession that's going around right now. It almost looks like its a requirement in order to stay competitive, and I think that's too bad. There are so many beautiful and challenging moves that can be performed on the pole without having to use twisted grip, and most moves that can be done with this grip can be done with other grips. Handspring "lifts" can be done with true grip although this may take more strength and more training. I presently cannot "lift" into anything with that grip, but it has to be possible because its been done in every Chinese pole performance I've ever seen. The straight edge, aysha, and jackknife, can be done with the split, forearm, or elbow grips. I'm sure that if I practiced a little more I could get an inverted bodywave with elbow or forearm grip... and actually after watching this thread, I'm sure I really ought to work on that. I agree with Veena that TG isn't for everyone, and for myself I have found that I can only use the TG handspring in moderation unless I am just in the mood to do some suffering for a day or two to follow. I have a suspicion that the need for moderation in TG may be a universal one, but each poler knows her/his body better than I!


*****

I know I'm light years away from using any kind of grip to lift into any kind of invert, handspring-this or that, cartwheel whatever or whatnot, or anything else.  But I am realizing that if I'm not careful, especially at my size, I am putting myself at great risk for injury.  I imagine if a twisted grip could give me "more strength," I might have used it.  But I want to preserve my body since it's the only one I have and I've already done a pretty good job of beating it up. 

Does anyone use a twisted grip?  I'd like to hear both sides of why you should or should not use it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pole Poll: Do you train on both sides?

Last month on Facebook, I posted a pole poll asking how many dancers train on both sides.  At Twirly Girls, we generally only learn on our dominant side.  Bel's theory is that baseball players don't bat using their non-dominant side, so doing tricks and twirls on our non-dominant side may be setting our bodies up for more injury.

There are many people who do not subscribe to this theory.  I have heard many argue that you don't want one strong arm and one itty, bitty weak one.  I haven't noticed a huge difference in my bicep size on either arm.  But especially for those who compete or perform professionally, having the strength and grace to perform tricks on both sides seems to be very, very important.  One person put it to me this way, if you get waaaaay up there on the pole and something bad happens to your dominant side, you want to have the strength to get yourself down safely using your non-dominant side. 

Here are some comments left in response to my question (I am posting them anonymously, but if you'd like to claim your comment, please let me know and I will happily credit you). 

YES, I am a broken record on this.  Always train both sides to protect your body from injury, plus sometimes you need to get into certain moves from something else on your bad side.

...All my students know to as well...Training on one side only leads to muscle imbalances which, in turn, can lead to postural imbalance as well...

Yes.  I usually start with my easier side but you should always do both sides for balance of strength and ability.  Also aesthetically, you want your muscle tone to be event. 

Both, always.  That way I build up both sides equally and it improves my over all strength.  I am way better on my dominant side, but there are a few moves I actually do better on the weaker side.  I teach making my students do both sides also. 

I always try to train both sides to maintain each strength, unless it is something complex that is more technique based than strength based, in which case I go "strong" side in order to get it as good as possible.

Always!  You never know when you'll need to transition out of something and end up on your non-dominant side. 

Yes, my instructors don't enforce it much but I sneak in a little on my own every class and practice session.  I occasionally do a whole lower level class on my other side too.  I just feel something isn't right when I leave classes with my right upper everything killing me and my left side feeling almost nothing. 

Obviously the popular answer is yes.  But I am a no.  Personally, I put myself int a lot of danger trying to do things on my opposite side.  It's a brain communicating to my body thing rather than a "strength" thing.  (This does not include basic spins and such.  Those I'm cool with being ambi.)

Absolutely!  How could ya not?  Wouldn't go to the gym and only do free weights on one side...

Yes yes yes!  There are some tricks that I still can't muster on both sides, like twisted grip and ayesha.  But any move that I teach, I do on both sides.  I read that the biggest contributor to back pain and injury among athletes is lopsided muscle development in the torso.  Muscles are strong enough to literally pull and twist your spine out of alignment. 

MUST!

Balance.  PERIOD.

I received many, many responses to my question, but those are some of my favorites.  In Sean Michael's class, I have started doing a few things on my non-dominant side.  I'm three and a half years into pole dancing, so it feels very awkward.  But I am also still barely over beginner-intermediate in my moves, so I haven't advanced to the moves that cause the kind of muscle gain that might make ambidextrous moves more important. 

How about you?  Do you train both sides?  Why or why not?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Eating protein and burning fat

In the gastric bypass world, we talk often about eating protein.  For many of us, whey protein works best because it is a "pre-digested" protein and is easier to absorb.  I know, for myself, I can tell if my protein is low because my hair will start falling out again.  In our support group meeting, one of our members is extremely knowledgeable about pretty much everything having to do with health, diet and weight loss surgery.  He was talking in one meeting about eating a high protein diet so that glycogen is burned first when losing weight.  I wanted to explore that topic a bit.  Since I don't feel particularly knowledgeable on the subject, I'd like to direct you to some articles that may have useful information. 

http://www.fitnessandpower.com/training/cardio/175-glycogen-depletion

Our body uses glycogen as a primary source of energy. Glycogen is actually the storage form of glucose (carbohydrates) in animals and humans. It is stored in the liver and muscles. When there is no glycogen available, the body will reach for its secondary energy source - stored fat and muscle protein.

http://www.shapeyou.com/old/weights_first.html

When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores them as glycogen in your liver and waits for your body to use them as fuel. When performing an aerobic activity, like walking or running on a treadmill, your body has the option of using glycogen stores or fat stores. The problem is that your body won’t use any fat stores until your glycogen stores are used up. On the other hand, during anaerobic exercise, like weight lifting, your body can only use glycogen as fuel.
http://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/lose-fat/12-laws-fat-burning

We can't harp on this advice too much: Eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. Your major protein sources should be lean meats (chicken, steak, turkey breast, tuna), egg whites (the yolks contain the fat, so discard most of them when you're trying to lose fat), protein powder (whey or casein) and low-fat cottage cheese. As for fat, limit it to 20%-30% of your total daily caloric intake.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/223225-how-many-grams-of-carbs-per-day-to-lose-weight/

To lose weight gradually or to maintain weight loss, "The Primal Blueprint" recommends you limit your carbohydrate intake to 100 to 150 g per day. This allows a wide variety of food choices and is best if you don't want to give up things like bread or high amounts of fruit or if you are an athlete. You can expect to lose 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of weight per week.
http://wlzine.com/why-proteins-are-good-for-weight-loss/

Unlike a high starch diet where the body burns the energy it needs from glucose in the starch, eating mostly protein forces the body to burn stored fat instead of glucose. This cuts down on the body’s stores of fat and not only do you begin to look better, you feel better as well. You will feel less heavy and you’re lighter on your feet. Carrying around lots of stored fat makes for a very sluggish feeling.

http://www.askscooby.com/losing-weight-and-getting-6-pack-abs/the-myth-about-'burning-muscle'-15354/?wap2

The order in which your body uses fuel is: glucose --> glycogen --> fat --> protein. Your body uses glucose and glycogen as the main energy sources. You use fat as the next energy source. The body rarely, if ever, breaks down protein and uses it for energy.
http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/ketosis.html

Two things happen to any excess glucose that your body doesn't use for energy right away:
  1. The extra glucose is converted to glycogen, a larger sugar molecule, and stored in your liver and muscles. This process is called glycogenesis.
  2. If your liver and muscles are already full of glycogen, and can't accept any more, the body then converts the excess glucose to fat and stores it in your fat cells. This process is called lipogenesis.
http://www.three-peaks.net/annette/Together.htm

If your daily diet is lacking the proper amount of protein, your body's ability to make new body proteins slows down and you actually start to break down existing body protein (muscle) to supply the body with the amino acids that your food is lacking. This is the WORST thing that can happen. Because you sacrifice muscles, your fat burning machines, your metabolism slows way down. This results in your body burning fewer calories and fat. This is why and how you can lose muscle tone on high-carb diets. Protein is the ONLY macronutrient that builds and maintains muscles. Never skip eating protein at breakfast or lunch to save it for dinner. You will be greatly increasing your body's ability to store fat instead of burning it.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/442128-does-fat-burn-before-protein-when-exercising/

Your body only stores about 2,500 calories as glycogen, but you likely have at least 70,000 calories stored as fat. Therefore, low-intensity exercise burns a high proportion of fat to conserve muscle glycogen for higher-intensity exercise, which requires quick fuel supply.
http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/articles/foods39.php

Some of you may be thinking, "I may eat a lot of starchy carbohydrates, but at the same meal, I am also eating protein and fat. Why am I just burning sugar and storing fat?" It's a good question, and it gets to the heart of the vicious cycle.

Let's assume that you are following the current dietary recommendations that tell you to eat more than half of your daily calories in the form of carbohydrate. You fill your plate with a cup or so of pasta, topped with meatballs, some tomato sauce and cheese.

From the minute the pasta is in your mouth, it begins to be broken down into simple sugar. Your body can only store a small amount of sugar at a time in the form of glycogen that is stored in muscle and liver. What's not stored as glycogen is burned off as quickly as possible, forcing you to burn sugar, but your cells can only burn so much off at a time.

I realize this was a lot of information and some articles may give the same information and some may slightly contradict others.  There are so many different schools of thought, and various theories to follow based on the results you'd like to achieve.  But I think it's good to read up on the subject and understand how carbs/sugars, proteins, fats, and even hormones, are connected.  I know I eat too many carbs.  I loooooove the simple sugars.  It is something I'm working on and reading these articles for this blog has me realizing it's time to cut them down (again).  I'm not a fan of completely eliminating things, but I do recognize that I need a lot less sugar than I have been eating lately.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gastric Bypass, Pouch Size, Enlarged Stomas and Weight Gain

Before we start this post, I want to make sure everyone understands what happens to our guts during gastric bypass surgery.  I am going to post a photo I found on Google.  I know it's completely illegal but I am going to link back to their website so you can read up on their information as well:


This photo borrowed.  Please visit: http://www.njbariatricspc.com/bariatric-surgery-types/gastric-bypass-surgery-nj/
So your food travels down your esophagus and into your pouch for minimal processing before it passes through the stoma on it's way to your newly-attached intestine.  The purpose of bypassing some of your intestines is so you (initially) do not absorb all calories eaten (some reports state that this calorie malabsorption may only last a short time because of the body's amazing ability to adapt to "trauma").  In the long run, it also means you are not absorbing all of your necessary vitamins and minerals, which can cause other health issues. 

Most people believe that if you gain weight after you have had gastric bypass surgery, it is because you have stretched your stomach back out to it's old or "normal" size, thereby allowing you to eat more.  Most likely, however, you are either eating (grazing) too often throughout the day, or your stoma may have enlarged, which allows the food to just slide on through without spending much time in your pouch. 

From an article about understanding your pouch:

Our pouches will GROW over time. Yes, it's a living organ and your body tries to compensate for the rearranging we did to it during bariatric surgery and it will grow to help get in as much nutrition as possible. A mature pouch is anywhere from 6 ounces to 9 ounces in size... and can naturally stretch to hold up to 12 ounces of food at a time. A pouch reaches maturity at about the 2-year mark. By 6 months after RNY gastric bypass surgery your pouch has grown to about 2/3 of it's maturity level. Once you are a year out, your pouch is no longer 1 ounce in size ... it's more like 3 ounces or 4 ounces and can hold 6 to 8 ounces of food.

Studies have shown that the size of your pouch has very little to do with your overall success with weight loss. Your success has more to do with how well you follow your eating and exercise plan and how well you follow the "rules of the pouch."

Click HERE for some pouch rules.  Worried that your pouch has grown too much?  Click HERE for the cottage cheese test.  (I am now 9 years out...about two years ago, I did the cottage cheese test and found that my pouch was about eight ounces.)  For the fun of it, here's the link to a study called Pouch Rules For Dummies.

What happens if the stoma, the opening at the bottom of your pouch, enlarges, allowing your food to slide through faster, and leaving you hungry sooner?  I see ads all the time for gastric bypass revisions.  Often, those are fixes for an enlarged stoma (they generally aren't re-cutting your pouch to be smaller again).  A potential non-surgical option is listed HERE.  For an article about surgical revisions, click HERE.  For information about the non-surgical ROSE procedure, click HERE.

The purpose of this post isn't to list EVERY option available but to make everyone aware that weight gain can and does happen, that it isn't always "your fault," and that there is help available if you fall into certain categories.  For the most part, for those of us dealing with weight gain, we may have fallen back into old habits, or are dealing with health issues that make our metabolism slow down.  I certainly know why I have gained weight.  I am sensitive to medications, which affects my metabolism (meaning, I need to eat fewer calories to make up for it), and I am an all-day grazer, who uses food to deal with my emotions (meaning, I need more therapy).  Do you feel like your pouch may have stretched too much or maybe your stoma is enlarged?  And, have you figured out what makes you over-eat?  Tell me how you're doing and, if you've run into problems, how you're going about making them better!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My 9th Surgiversary

On March 17, 2013, I turned 9.  That is, my gastric bypass surgery, the supposed new beginning in life, was nine years ago.  Sure, my life has changed a lot.  For better?  For worse?  Who knows.

I spent my new-birthday doing what most 9 year olds would love to do...I went to Disneyland.  I had such a good time.  I will post some photos below. 

I am otherwise in a weird place mentally.  I don't really have much to say that I haven't ranted about already lately, so I will post some of my recent gastric bypass related posts, starting with my 8th surgiversary post last year (which links to other helpful posts):

http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2012/03/my-8th-surgiversary.html

Read about ulcers: http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2013/03/ulcers-after-gastric-bypass-no-no-list.html

Read about bone spurs and calcium: http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2013/03/bone-spurs-calcium-heart-attacks-and.html

I knew it wasn't the case but somewhere in the back of my mind, I guess I thought I'd have surgery and be thin, rich and beautiful.  Here I am, still working too much, still fat and not necessarily feeling very beautiful.  Happy new-birthday to me.  But thank you to Jimmy and Yolanda for a really, really fun Disneyland adventure, where I didn't think about it even once!  :-)




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Big Dogs Die Young

The women in my family live well into old age.  80's.  90's.  I think one great-grandma was close to or into her 100's.  With the economy the way it is, I'm not sure that's a good thing.  I see this little old lady on the corner near my work with her walker and coke-bottle glasses begging for money.  I don't want that to be me.  I've always relied on the fact that I'm so tall that maybe I'll just live happily into my 70's, then dig out before I get crazy health problems or run out of money.  Someone on my Facebook page was commenting on how many health issues I have.  What can I say?  One body just can't contain all of this awesomeness. 

So, let's add to that list.

My doctor recently ran some blood tests and one of them was a high sensitivity cardio-reactive protein (CRP) test, which tests for heart health/inflammation.  CRP is produced by the liver.  The level rises when there is inflammation throughout the body.  When all other tests (such as cholesterol, etc.) appear to show normal/healthy levels, this test is supposedly one of the best indicators of future heart attack.

My decision to have gastric bypass surgery was partially influenced by a test I took over 10 years ago that reported that my heart was "enlarged and flabby."  Years before that, I had taken fen phen, and was entitled to certain medical tests to ensure that my heart valve had not be ruined by the medication.  My valve was fine but my heart was not in great shape.  I was 350 pounds.  Even though I've battled some recent weight gain, I am still 100 pounds lighter than I used to be!  Of course, my heart must be in better shape too, right? 

On the paper given to me by my doctor, less than "1" was considered low risk.  1-2 is considered moderate risk.  Over 3 was high risk (and over 10 was really bad news).  I was almost a 5.  I'm half way to really bad news.  It was so scary and a bit of a wake-up call. 

So, other than taking medication, or prescribing weight loss (which is a long term solution, and may not fix the problem considering I DID lose 100 pounds and still have an inflamed heart), how can I lower my CRP?

One way is to take krill oil.  Krill oil is more expensive than regular fish oil or omega three supplements, but apparently krill oil has anti-inflammatory properties.  I just picked up a bottle and started that today.

Increase exercise.  I admit I have been a little lax on the cardio.  I love Twirly Girls and yoga but hate the treadmill.  Last week, I started back to cycling (have to watch that stupid bone spur too...ugh). 

My doctor also suggested taking a baby aspirin.  That made me a little nervous due to the gastric bypass, but I'm giving it a try. 

Other suggestions:  Make sure you are getting enough sleep and lower your stress levels (uh, ok).  Supposedly, increasing fiber can help as well.  Also, limit foods high in saturated fat. 

Anyway, I swore I wouldn't count calories again, but here I am.  I have been recording my food again for a week.  I guess the doctor will check my levels again in a few months and we will see if I have made any progress.  I do want to follow the Health At Every Size philosophy, and I was glad that my doctor didn't simply suggest weight loss as the fix (he just said get more active and eat healthier), but what IF weight loss IS the fix for something?  Then again, I am 100 pounds lighter and THAT weight loss didn't seem to fix the problem.

I am at a loss.  I guess medication can be a consideration if healthy living doesn't fix this.  Heart issues run in my family.  My grandfather on my dad's side, my dad, my cousin, my sister...all various heart issues.  So I guess I should take this seriously. 

As anyone else had this issue and has it corrected itself?? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ulcers after gastric bypass (the no-no list)

The "don't list" after gastric bypass surgery is pretty long.

Don't drink out of a straw
Don't drink with your meal
Don't drink soda/carbonated beverages
Don't eat sugar/bread
Don't chew gum
Don't drink coffee
Don't take aspirin
Don't drink alcohol
Don't overeat
Don't snack

Blah blah blah

How many of these rules do most of us end up breaking?  Well, today I want to talk about why we shouldn't break a few of these rules especially. 

After gastric bypass surgery, the acid in our stomach is severely reduced, leaving our stomach lining slightly more vulnerable and potentially at a higher risk for ulcers.  Although I have read conflicting reports (shocker, huh) about what actually does and does not cause an ulcer, there are a few items I'd like to specifically discuss today.  There are different types of ulcers.  I won't bore you with a medical lesson (although you can read the Mayo Clinic's list of potential complications HERE, if you're curious).  Let's just talk generalities (especially since everyone is on their own journey). 

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory)

Aleve (naproxen), aspirin, Motrin/Advil (ibuprofen) are all no-no's after gastric bypass.  Tylenol (acetaminophen) is really all we are safely supposed to be able to take.  I don't know about you, but Tylenol only fixes my headaches, not my body aches. 

From ObesityHelp.com:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Excedrin and Celebrex, are used primarily to treat inflammation, fever and mild to moderate pain from headaches, arthritis, sports injuries and menstrual cramps. Taking NSAIDs after gastric bypass surgery significantly increases the risk of developing marginal ulcers at the connection between the stomach pouch and the Roux limb. Thus, gastric bypass patients should avoid these medications.

Side note: Also a good point from this article, which some patients might not realize, we shouldn't be taking time-release capsules:


The shorter intestinal length after gastric bypass or duodenal switch surgery can make extended-release drug preparations less effective. Some extended-release drugs include antidepressants (Wellbutrin XL), anxiolytics and sleep medications (Xanax XR), and anti-hypertensives (Toprol XL, Verapamil XL). Because these formulations are intended to be absorbed over 2-12 hours, the pills may pass through the gastrointestinal tract before absorption is complete.

This same principle also applies to delayed-release and enteric- or film-coated pills, which are coated with a material that prevents the medication from being released until the pill moves through the stomach to the small intestine. (Sometimes the abbreviation “EC” is added to the name of a drug to indicate that it is enteric-coated.) Immediate-release dosage forms should be substituted, although they may need to be taken more often.


Now, that ALL being said...I take Aleve.  Almost daily (and multiple pills).  I didn't touch the stuff for six years, but when I started having hip problems three years ago, I gave in.  I make sure I take it with food, and I haven't (knock on wood) had any issues yet.

And now an even bigger issue (in my eyes).  Now that I have been told I have heart inflammation, my doctor has prescribed a baby aspirin.  Daily.  That one scares me more than the Aleve.  I don't know why.  So I take my baby aspirin in the morning with food.  And I make sure I don't take Aleve until later in the day after I get to work (now that I've swapped hip pain out for foot pain thanks to my heel spur).  I don't want to over-do it. 

Caffeine

I have never been a coffee drinker, so I will admit, this one was no big deal for me.  Or so I thought.  I have, however, in the last few years, picked up a Vitamin Water habit.  The yellow Energy Vitamin Water has a little bit of caffeine in it.  I drink it because it's yummy, not because I think I'm getting vitamins. And it isn't carbonated and has way fewer calories than soda anyway.  A bottle supposedly has about a quarter of the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.  Guess what, it's enough that I get headaches when I don't drink it now.  How did I get a caffeine monkey on my back?!

Anyway, according to LiveStrong, there are a few reasons not to drink caffeine: 

According to Scott J. Belsley, M.D., a board-certified surgeon and robotic surgery researcher, you should be cautious in drinking caffeine -- whether in coffee or other beverages -- following weight-loss surgeries. Caffeine is the subject of a lot of research, much of which is contradictory. Caffeine is known to increase stomach acid, causing indigestion and possibly leading to an ulcer. Even decaffeinated coffee can upset your stomach. Some studies suggests coffee increases your risk for a gastrointestinal bacterial infection called H pylori, as well as acid reflux, but the research has been inconclusive. Caffeine is a known diuretic that may slow healing. You need to control fluid intake and output after your surgery, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, which recommends waiting a bit after surgery before adding coffee or caffeinated beverages to your diet.
Most reports I've read that say drinking coffee isn't the worst thing you could do post-surgery, say to wait at least six months to start that habit back up.

Alcohol

This is a biggie.  Not just from a potential ulcer standpoint.  Alcohol is a problem for those who may be switching addictions.  Before we get back to ulcers, you may want to read up on some of these articles relating to alcohol and gastric bypass:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57455416-10391704/gastric-bypass-surgery-may-double-a-patients-risk-for-alcohol-problems/

Researchers believe gastric bypass surgery also changes how the body digests and metabolizes alcohol; some people who've had the surgery say they feel alcohol's effects much more quickly after drinking less, compared to before the procedure. The study suggests that may cause problem drinking.

http://www.facs.org/news/jacs/gastricbypass0311.html

The results showed peak BAC percentage of patients after drinking five ounces of red wine was significantly higher post-operation. BAC was 0.024 percent at pre-operation and 0.059 percent (p = 0.0003) at three months. Tested again at six months post-operation, the patients’ BAC was 0.088 percent (p = 0.0008) which is more than the legal driving limit of .08 percent. Additionally, it took 49 minutes for patients to reach a zero BAC prior to their operation compared with 61 minutes at three months and 88 minutes at six months post-operation.

Ok, but let's get back to those ulcers.  Here is a blurb that sums it up pretty nicely in one paragraph:

Alcohol is basically a type of sugar and it slows down a patient’s weight loss and may cause dumping syndrome. It contains lots of calories and is not nutritional. After surgery, alcohol enters the blood stream more quickly than before surgery. The intoxicating effects of alcohol occur sooner than before surgery and after smaller amounts are ingested. A patient who has had gastric bypass surgery absorbs FOUR times as much alcohol from a given drink versus before surgery. It is best to avoid drinking alcohol for at least six months after surgery, since it can be irritating to the stomach pouch and cause ulcers. You may choose to drink alcohol after the six month mark, but only do so on special, rare occasions, and NEVER drive within 24 hours of having an alcoholic beverage.

[Empahsis added.]

I realize this was a long one and I apologize for that.  I know many of us push the boundaries after gastric bypass/weight loss surgery.  Just be aware of which boundaries are less "push-able" than others.  If you have any information that you think might be helpful regarding this topic, please feel free to share in a comment below.  Thanks!

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bone spurs, calcium, heart attacks and gastric bypass

I recently reported that I have a very painful bone spur in my right heel.  It affects me every day.  I have spent a ton of money trying to make this thing right.  I don't know if it ever will be.  I've had two cortisone shots and they only seem to last about three weeks.  I had been told that bone spurs form due to an over-abundance of calcium in your system.  The calcium supposedly doesn't know where to go, so it attaches to your bones.  Apparently this is NOT true.  So I started researching bone spurs and calcium, and that lead to some studies, and my realization that gastric bypass surgery has potentially caused ANOTHER health issue for me. 

I had gastric bypass to AVOID health problems.  I was in my 20's.  I didn't have high blood pressure or diabetes.  I did not yet have ANY of the "fat diseases."  I was just fat.  But I thought I better ward them off by completely rearranging my insides.  Sounds like a great idea. 

My very first issue was waking up with staples holding my guts together.  I had gone to sleep thinking I was going to have laporoscopic surgery.  The intestine they had chosen to attach to my new pouch was too short, so they had to open me up at the last minute, leaving me with a much longer recovery than expected. 

My next issue, about nine months out, was blacking out.  My blood pressure and blood sugar would drop so low that I would black out if I stood up too fast.  I literally had to stop reporting it to my doctor because my driver's license was going to be yanked for losing consicousness (even though it never happend when I was just sitting).  I also had to go back to my surgeon and ask for more calories.  Our program told us that every person should eat 1,000 calories per day for life after surgery.  I insisted that since I was six feet tall, perhaps I should get a few more calories than a five foot tall lady.  I was given 1,500.  By the way, 9 years later, I maintain my weight on about 2,300-2,500 calories a day.

I also ran into tons of vitamin deficienies.  Each year was something new.  You want to know how you know you have a B12 deficiency?  The tops of your feet go numb.  Want to know how you know your protein is low?  Your hair falls out. 

Anyway, I don't want to bore you with all of my issues.  But I definitely ended up with more health issues AFTER surgery.  I'm not saying I wouldn't do it again, but it is something to point out...this surgery doesn't fix everything.

Back to the bone spur.  So, the doctor says, hey you have a bone spur, and they take a long time to grow.  At first I was thinking, well maybe I had it when I was even fatter.  But then I realize, I had surgery 9 years ago, and that IS a long time already, so I start researching bone spurs.  According to the Mayo Clinic:

Wear-and-tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) is the most common cause of bone spurs. As osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones, your body attempts to repair the loss by creating bone spurs near the damaged area. The extra bone may help increase the amount of surface area for load bearing.

According to Livestrong.com:

Calcium is essential in the formation of strong and healthy bones as well as in maintaining the health of your bones. According to "The Vitamin Book," a lack of calcium can contribute to the formation of bone spurs by not allowing your bones to form as they should. A lack of calcium can cause your bones to form abnormally, leading to the possible formation of bone spurs.

[emphasis added.]
So, did gastric bypass and vitamin deficiency strike again???  Was I not absorbing my calcium supplements, leaving me at a higher risk for bone spurs?  Who knows, but let's talk about some recent studies about calcium and heart disease, and why we have to be careful about taking TOO MUCH calcium. 

High calcium intake has recently been linked to heart disease in men!  Read the entire article HERE.

Over 12 years of follow-up, men who took more than 1,000 milligrams (mg) of daily supplemental calcium were 20% more likely to succumb to heart disease than those who didn’t take calcium supplements. There was no connection between calcium supplements and heart disease in women (which has been seen in earlier studies), and no connection with calcium from food. The results were published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

But wait, now there are studies to say calcium can lead to issues for women as well!  Read that article HERE.  They reported that women taking more than 1,400 mg of calcium per day were twice as likely to die as those taking 600 to 999 mg. 

What the studies don't seem to address is whether we are talking about calcium citrate (YES for gastric bypass patients) or calcium carbonate (NO for gastric bypass patients), or whether it matters.  They do both seem to suggest that we are only talking about supplements, and not getting calcium natrually from foods. 

I was recently told I have heart inflammation.  I will be writing about that soon, but I am having to increase my exercise, decrease fatty foods, and take...a baby aspirin (no-no for gastric bypass patients -- again, another planned future blog).  So, in response, I have lowered the amount of calcium supplement that I take (one pill instead of two to three...I'll grab the amounts and publish that new blog soon).  Also, we should be taking Vitamin D with calcium to help with absorption (and if you're a gastric bypass patient, you need the dry version, not those cute little oily pills).  I am also taking zinc and magnesium.  It is, in fact, be time for me to re-write my daily vitamin in-take blog, to let people know what I'm actually taking now. 

Ok, back to this bone spur.  I have heard some home remedies about apple cider vinegar dissolving bone spurs.  I have heard a ton of good things about health and apple cider vinegar, actually.  Some of the reports say you should drink a little bit of cider (I get the organic stuff, not the Heinz bottle) with water.  A bodyworker at Twirly Girls warns to do two weeks on, two weeks off.  So, I have been adding it to my morning glass of water for the last couple of weeks (before breakfast, I try to jump start my metabolism by drinking a glass of water anyway).  Now, other reports say to soak a towel in apple cider vinegar and wear it around all day (although I'm not really interested in having a wet sock all day). 

So, there you have it.  Lack of calcium may have lead to a bone spur in my heel, and trying to take additional calcium to fix it could potentially lead to heart issues.  I guess you can't win.  Has anyone else had any experience with any of these issues

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Blog Hop: These are a few of my favorite [pole] things...

For this month's blog hop, we decided to talk about our favorite pole products and companies.  Now, don't forget, after you read MY blog, you can click that link above (or HERE) and read up on other polers' favorite pole items.  You can read Sheena's explanation blog HERE.  Since she is our pole blogger mama, and sets up these blog hops for us, I like to give her extra love. 

Let's start with grip aids.  As I am pushing myself into doing more advanced moves, I find I am literally having to glue myself to the pole with various products.  First, it was Mighty Grip.  Then iTac.  Now, I'm just using straight up rosin, normally used for aerial silks.  The best part of Firm Grip?  Even after showering, if I don't SCRUB, I can wake up the next morning with my legs glued shut.  It's that strong.  lol.  [Yesterday, when I originally posted, I cited to Tuf-Skin, another Cramer product, but we use Firm Grip in our studio.  I ordered Tuf-Skin yesterday for myself...the freaking cans are almost identical....whoops!!  So we'll see if it works anything like Firm Grip!]  I have gone back and forth about grip aids.  I shouldn't use them because then I'm not getting stronger.  I should use them because then I will get stronger.  I have swung back in the "I should use them" direction, because I am not otherwise going to get into some of these moves without help.  I am hauling 250 pounds of Viking Goddess ass up and down these poles.  I need a little assist now and then.  I am already feeling a lot more confident in my climb and I have only been taking my new class for a little over a month.  I am also working on sits and layouts, including plank/lying lady.  Eventually, those will work into real cross-ankle or knee releases. 


Next up, this is a new addition to my repertoire, after my amazing teacher, Se├ín Michael, introduced the concept:  WOODY BANDS.  I have been using the #5 black band to help me with inverts and cross-ankle release (back to sit-up to the pole).  I love them.  I am going to buy some varying weight resistences so that I can practice more with placement and getting my ass up over my head.  I still need some help pushing my legs up once I pull into a ball.  My warnings would be this (at the insistence of Mama Bel):  use two woody bands (adjust weight resistence accordingly) AND a spotter.  If a band breaks, it could be VERY dangerous, as you might not be holding on securely enough to hold your own weight. 




I have recently started using Powerflex tape by Andover.  With my bone spur, I have to tape my foot, but the tape slips off the pole.  Powerflex tape sticks only to itself but provides a little more stick and a lot less slip when I'm climbing or doing things that require my foot to be on the pole.  Maybe it will even help with padding for that Remi sit I'm trying to get right now.  Ouchie. 

As I wrote before, I really love my high-waisted derby shorts that I bought from Derby Skinz.  Although not a traditional pole clothing shop, they have cool shorts.  You can read my previous review HERE

I have to give a shout-out to a few of my favorite pole places, too.

Twirly Girls Pole Fitness in Pleasanton, California.  This is my home studio, where I learn and teach.  I adore Bel and everyone at the studio.

ThePoleDancingShop.com.  I do the majority of my blogging for this company. 

United Pole Artists.  Annemarie has included me on some fun adventures and I appreciate her for that!

Nadia Sharif and Natasha Wang, a couple of amazeballs pole dancers, who are so, so, so overly sweet to me. 

I'm sure I could go on and on for pages about everything and everyone I LOVE in the pole industry.  So for now, here's my list.  Let me know what awesome products YOU might be using to help you be a better poler!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Poletry in Motion: Showcase at Studio Botan

I have, of course, known about Studio Botan in San Francisco since it basically opened.  I first tweeted Sahaya, their creative director, way back in 2010 when I went to California Pole Dance Championship.  I also watched her perform at PPC last year in Los Angeles.  And, now that I'm working in San Francisco, it turns out the studio is just blocks from my office.  I have been meaning to come out to the city to see the studio, but the timing just never worked out.  However, last weekend, they had their spring showcase, including a guest performance by one of my favorite people, Natasha Wang, so I decided it was time to venture over and check it out!

What a beautiful studio.  The studio is spacious and inlcudes (I believe) six tall poles.  There is a huge window on one side (which was open for the showcase, but they normally cover during classes, for those who are shy).  Everyone was really sweet and their performances were amazing.  You can really tell a lot of work goes into the choreography of the routines.  With many performances competiting in the second annual Pacific Pole Championship (PPC) this weekend, we agreed not to publish many videos.  I did take some and may publish mine after the competition.  But Studio Botan took video of Natasha, and I thought I could at least share that.  I also got to meet Crystal Gibson in person for the first time. 

I have a co-worker who lives in the City, and she says she wants to try pole dancing, so I told her when she's ready, I will take her to Botan, since we can walk there after work. 

Check out some of the photos from the night, as well as their video of Natasha's performance.  Natasha was performing on an injured knee.  What a pro and a beautiful lady!! 

http://youtu.be/UqCOZen8mfM

Vanny, pointing out Nadia's boobs in honor of her birthday

Sayaha

Crystal Gibson...amazeballs performance...so, so intense!

Supporting my injured pole sister, Natasha Wang

My lovely pole instructor, Sean Michael!