Monthly Archives: November 2012

Juicing up

Hi everyone,

Well it’s been about a month since I hurt my knee now and it’s still giving me problems. With Thanksgiving this past week I decided to take a few days off and hope that it help the recovery process. With all these interruptions to my training I am desperately looking around for ways to get back my edge which led me to a decision this week – it’s time to get on the juice.

Well come on… it’s not like I’m the only one doing it. I’m just leveling the playing field out a bit. Besides, with Lance Armstrong and other big name athletes involved in the practice I’m in good company. You think it’s unethical? Really?! But if it makes me a better athlete it’s healthy, right?

Oh, wait you think I’m…! NO!!! What gave you that idea?! I’m not injecting myself with a cocktail of drugs – I’m making cocktails out of fresh fruit!

In the wee hours about a week ago while I was looking after Baby Benjamin I came across a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It follows an Australian guy named Joe who goes on a 60 day juice fast in an effort to get on top of his health problems. The transformation is amazing. Along the way he meets an American named Phil, a truck driver who is morbidly obese. He too goes on a similar fast and gets his life back in order. It’s a very well made documentary and highly inspirational. I can highly recommend it.

Although I like to think I’m not fat, sick or nearly dead, I do struggle to eat the very healthiest of foods at times, so the film motivated me to try juicing, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never got around to. So off I went to GNC to buy my first $40 juicing machine and the supermarket to buy a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables (you know, the healthy looking stuff down the end we sometimes forget about). It’s been a huge success.

My juicer

The model of juicer I bought

Firstly, there is something immensely satisfying about taking a big solid carrot, putting it in a machine and getting a liquid at the other end. Secondly, whoever would have thought carrot juice could taste so good! The stuff is downright delicious! Thirdly, even if you find something that doesn’t taste that good, you just mask it with something else (No not a diuretic Lance!) and you get all the nutritious benefits without having to suffer through all those nasty things we never wanted to eat when we were kids. I think the thing I am most excited about is making juices for Ben when he’s bigger. Refusing to eat your cauliflower? Fine, try this fresh apple juice laced with a little something extra!

It’s been fun to experiment with different fruits and find what works. This is what I’ve discovered so far:

  • Carrots: Wonderful! Who would have thought such a sweet delicious juice would come out if that big ugly orange thing!
  • Cantaloupe (Rock Melon): After making this one I’m surprised it’s not sold commercially, it produces so much juice and it tastes fantastic.
  • Strawberries: Great, but it takes a few to get a decent amount of juice.
  • Bananas: Delicious, but it produces too little juice in my style of juicer to be worthwhile.
  • Raspberries: Don’t really work. Very hard to extract any juice and it’s more tart than you would expect.
  • Celery: Produces a lot of juice, but it’s an acquired taste. I prefer to mix a little bit with something else.
  • Oranges, apples, pineapple: Great, as you would expect.

Results depend on the style of juicer however and my $40 juicer is definitely not the gold standard. What I would love to have is a vitamix blender, which you can use to make juices, smoothies, soups and even ice cream! I saw one demonstrated last year at a food and wine festival I went to with some friends and I became a convert. I’m going to have to prove to myself that I will get the use out of it before I make that investment though, those things aren’t cheap!

So the next time someone asks the answer is yes, I am juicing. And I’m not afraid to admit it.

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What causes HG?

Hi all,

Another week of cold weather prompted me to buy the indoor trainer I wrote about and set up my bike in the basement. It’s actually not as boring as I thought it might be, but I’ve bought a few cycling workout DVDs  to keep it interesting. One of them actually takes you through the Lake Placid course, so I’ll know all the hills in the Adirondacks before I even get there.

Benjamin and Brynn are doing very well. We had our first public outing yesterday with a short walk in the park. I think Ben loves the great outdoors already. Brynn is well and truly over  Hyperemesis Gravidarum and though in some ways it seems like a distant memory, it will be a long time before we forget about the impact it had on our lives.

Benjamin – almost 3 weeks old

I wanted to spend this week’s post exploring HG and what causes it. Firstly, let me preface everything by saying that I am not a doctor, let alone a HG expert. I have done a lot of research over the past nine months though and learnt a lot from Brynn’s terrible experience.

The truth is that nobody really knows what causes HG. No correlation has been found between age, race, culture or geographic location. It does however, only affect pregnant women and seems to have a greater chance of affecting mothers carrying twins or multiples, suggesting it is related to hormone levels. Recent studies have also shown that it tends to run in families, meaning there is likely a genetic component. Statistically it’s usually quoted as affecting between 0.3-2% of pregnancies, but given there is no test to confirm it and there is no way of accurately measuring some of the symptoms (such as nausea, where do you draw the line between “normal” and “severe”), you can take those numbers with a grain of salt. Given the number of women I’ve met who have had HG I personally think it’s probably closer to 5%.

Women who have suffered HG are more likely to suffer from it again in future pregnancies, but there is no guarantee. The opposite is also true – it can affect women for the first time on their third or fourth pregnancies.

A lot of doctors still don’t really understand HG and just dismiss its symptoms as a purely psychological problem (like the first doctor Brynn saw), despite all research indicating that it is physiological. The fact of the matter is that HG can be managed through various means including intravenous (IV)hydration and various drugs, most of which have no psychosomatic effect. In fact, the drugs used to treat hyperemesis are almost identical to those used to treat chemotherapy side effects. If HG were caused by psychological issues it is unlikely that these drugs (e.g. Zofran, Reglan) would have any affect.

From Brynn’s experience I think that the most important factor in keeping her condition stable was good hydration. Unfortunately, this is almost impossible as nearly everything she drank would just come back up. However, whenever we went to the ER and she received IV fluids her nausea would go down to a point where she was able to eat and drink a small amount without being sick. Unfortunately, once she was off the IV fluids she would soon go back down hill. The importance of fluids in Brynn’s case has led me to believe that hydration is the key difference between bad morning sickness and full blown HG. And given the impossibility of holding sufficient fluids down once morning sickness gets to a certain point, HG becomes inevitable without IV intervention.

In Brynn’s case by the time she was able to get consistent IV treatment through a PICC and then a mid-line, her HG was so bad that she required drugs to stabilise her condition. I do wonder if she would have required drugs, or at least if she would have required the same dosages of drugs, had the hydration aspect been properly addressed from the beginning.

Anyway that’s just my theory and it really isn’t  worth anything until somebody has put it through some rigorous scrutiny. Unfortunately that may not be for a while as hyperemesis research is extremely underfunded (if only it could pull the same funding as erectile dysfunction!), which is why Brynn and I are trying so hard to raise awareness of the condition and garner funds for the Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation. If you haven’t already please consider making a donation to HER, it could make a huge difference to the life of someone you love.

Here is the Winter of our Discontent

Hi everyone,

I hate to be a voice of resounding optimism, but winter is upon us and it’s really going to suck! Technically it’s still a month away and it will get worse but it is definitely here in spirit with the daylight savings coming to an end this past weekend (it’s currently -2 Celcius / 28 Fahrenheit as I type). To top it off my knee is killing me, it looks like I have some form of “Runner’s Knee” probably caused by tight and/or weak quadriceps muscles.

Okay, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. The truth is things aren’t too bad, I’ve been through Virginia winters before so I am going to be prepared this time. It just means I have to be a bit more flexible and creative with my training. Besides, I have a new training buddy in Benjamin now so things definitely can’t be too bad! I’m very fortunate to have had such a positive season with no injuries up until now. If you’re going to get an injury, the very end of the season is the best possible time to get one. It means I won’t be as tempted to do anything silly too soon and so for now running is completely off my program until I resolved the problem. In lieu of running I have a lot planned.

I went for a cycle on Saturday and it was bitterly cold. I was well rugged up but when I got home it took about 30 minutes to get any feeling back in my toes. I definitely don’t want to be going out too often in those kind of conditions so I’m going to get an indoor trainer that I can put my bike into and essentially turn it into a gym bike. This will allow me to put some long miles in while it is dark and cold outside without losing the feel of my bike. As a bonus Ben will be able to hang out with me in his bassinet – hopefully the whirring noise of the trainer will help put him to sleep. I’ll still try to get outdoors once a week and for that I have invested in some neoprene booties that go over my cycling shoes.

I’ve also signed up for more swim classes with my coach, who is a former Canadian Olympic coach. I began taking my swim training more seriously about two months ago and my swimming technique has improved out of sight. I returned to swim practice on Sunday and my arms were aching yesterday – every session is a great workout! I’m really learning how to catch the water and get more distance per stroke, which I think will pay huge dividends come Lake Placid.

One thing I’ve been lacking in my program over the past twelve months is strength and general conditioning training. Between running, swimming and cycling it is hard to find the time to fit much else in. However, with just an hour a week of the right conditioning work I probably could have avoided my current injury I have. While this hour might be better spent in the saddle of my bike for performance gains, those gains are soon lost when I find myself sidelined. So I’m going to look into joining a gym this week, but in the meantime I have set up my workout studio in the basement with my BOSU ball and a few workout DVDs (NOT P90X, I promise!)

Would I rather be in a tropical paradise… or even somewhere that gets some decent snow that you can ski on? I probably don’t need to answer that, but given my geographical predicament I plan on making the most out of what I have.

Benjamin and Brynn are both doing very well. Brynn has recovered super fast from the delivery and is doing an excellent job keeping on top of Ben’s demands (eat, burp, sleep, potty, eat burp, sleep, potty). I’m currently on Ben watch and he is sleeping in my arms. Every time I try to put him in his bassinet he starts complaining until he can feel my body warmth again – I think he’s inherited his Dad’s hatred of the cold.