View Full Version : Lost Weight, Feel Better, But Need More Help
08-07-2003, 06:53 AM
Hey everyone, I'm back again for some more helpful suggestions.
I posted here a few months ago about feeling depressed, out of shape, etc. I got a lot of inspiration here and have done so much better. But, I feel I need some more help. Bear with me on the medical explanations, they are lengthy, but impact what I can do.
After my last post, I really put a concerted effort into walking. I've been walking steadily for several months, 5 days a week, from 2-5 miles per day. I average a 13-15 minute mile. I got myself some good shoes to get rid of my knee pain (I'm an overpronator). I still get a little pain, but it is much improved. I even started doing a little running during my walk and was enjoying that.
Add to that, a better diet. I didn't specifically go on a diet because I only had 10 lbs to lose, but I definitely did better. Overall I have lost 5-7 lbs and am feeling better than I have in ages. Now that I've lost those pounds, I'm fitting back into my size 8 clothing and everything is much more comfy. But, I've found that I'm looking a little "scrawny." Not that I looked better at my higher weight because I didn't, but now in shorts or skirts, my legs are looking kind of twiggish. This never used to be the case, but I guess it is true, once you hit your 30's you start losing 3-5% of your muscle mass per year. I think it finally happened to me (I'm 39). So, I know that I must do some weight lifting, especially in my legs. The problem is that I don't really have a place to do this in my home, or the equipment. This means I'll have to join a gym. I'm not crazy about that but I will do it because I need to come up with some way to exercise in the winter. Walking 5 days per week will be almost impossible around here once January-March comes. Too wet, too cold, too dark.
Now for the medical problem. Sorry if this weirds anyone out. Ever since the birth of my 2nd child almost 9 years ago, I have noticed some "vaginal" changes. In the past month, they seem worse. It is like there is a slight bulge inside the vaginal area. I went to my GYN and he said that I have a very slight prolapse of the bladder and possibly uterus. He said this is very common in women who've had multiple vaginal deliveries and, actually, most women don't even realize it. I'm a hypochondriac so, believe me, I realize it. He said that my walking and or running probably has exacerbated it. He told me to definitely STOP RUNNING. He thinks no woman should run and says that his feelings about this make him unpopular. He said the female pelvic floor really can't handle it. So, that kind of bummed me out because I was making such progress. He told me that walking is fine as long as I'm not too "bouncy." This is where I wonder about weight lifting. I was also instructed not to do any exercise that causes me to bear down too much. This leaves out most squats, lunges, etc. I know at a gym there will be various machines that I could use that would alleviate that. What I'm looking for, first off though, is some ideas you might have where I can start out at home. I would really love to add some more definition and shape to my legs. My legs were always one of my better assets and were fairly "maintenance free." Now, they are losing shape. I really HATE this scrawny feeling. And the walking is just not doing anything for them.
So, can you guys offer any help???
08-07-2003, 07:13 AM
I'm not really sure if this will help, but this is what first came to mind when I read your post. What if you did leg lifts with ankle weights? Start with no weights and slowly build up to using weights. I'm not an expert so you may want to talk to someone else before you start doing this but it would not be too expensive to get the weights and it's something you can do in your home. I'm not sure if this is something that would bear down too much but it may be an option for you to look at.
Good luck and keep us posted as to what you end up doing!
08-07-2003, 07:22 AM
My goodness, how old is your doctor? I have heard that a long time ago people (i.e. men) thought women shouldn't run or ski or do anything else even slightly strenuous because it would harm their reproductive system somehow, and the most important thing a woman could do was bear children. I didn't think anyone still held this opinion! Clearly there are plenty of women who run and have no problems whatsoever. In your case, I don't know. Maybe it would be good to take care of the prolapse problem first. Is there another GYN you could see to get a second opinion? This is ***definitely*** what I would do. In fact, if I had a doctor who had such a backwards opinion, I would probably switch immediately. I realize that the consensus of the medical world may not always be correct, but I would always have the uncomfortable suspicion that he bases his decisions not on research and evidence, but his own personal feelings about things.
I had a roommate who was studying to be a midwife, and in one of our many strange conversations about the female reproductive system, she told me that women could sometimes get prolapse of the bladder or uterus when everything loosened up from vaginal deliveries. She recommended something called Kegel exercises, which I guess sort of tightens up the vaginal muscles. She said you could do them anytime without anyone even noticing and, in fact, declared that she was doing them as we spoke. :eek:
08-07-2003, 07:38 AM
Your doctor is... um, primeval.
Hit the jackpot, first search: http://www.kegel-exercises.com/index.html
As for resistance training, you don't have to join a gym. Squats and walking lunges are perfectly good done with bodyweight, for leg exercises. For arms, dumbbells are very cheap, and don't take up much room... or you can even do them with, say, those handle jugs of juice filled with sand, or with cans. Or simply pushups and dips, which target the major arm and chest muscles, and need no equipment at all except arms and a sturdy chair.
Gin Miller had a really good leg workout in CL, last year or maybe even the year before. Used nothing except a broomstick to maintain form, and it was still nice and concentrated. I have it clipped somewhere, or maybe it's even on the site (don't have my password handy).
08-07-2003, 07:48 AM
I agree that you should get a second opinion.
To make a blanket statement that women should not run just doesn't seem right to me. I would ask around and get a recommendation for another GYN. It also seems to me that you could ask for a referral to a Sports Medicine specialist - they may be better able to help you? I don't know how much a GYN really knows about exercise and maybe a SM specialist would be more open-minded about the kind of exercise you want to do and work with you on it. It may well be that your condition will call for you to modify your workout, but perhaps a SM specialist could better show you how or help you improve your condition (with such things as Kegels) so that you can go back to running.
Anyway, I guess the point is, I don't think you should feel locked into this one doctor's advice. Doctor's are fallible and all have different approaches and some of their approaches are based on opinion, not scientific fact. Why not hear what others have to say?
Good luck! :)
08-07-2003, 07:51 AM
I don't see how squats and lunges would be weight bearing down. The weight is all in your legs/butt ....your reproductive system wouldn't have any more weight bearing down on it than walking. Squats and lunges are the best exercises you can do for your legs. You can do them without any weight, with dumbbells, or with a medicine ball (lifting the medicine ball as you squat down). You can do stationary lunges or walking lunges in the comfort of your own home. You can also do calf raises where you stand on your toes contracting your calves (make sure weight is across the entire ball of your foot and not towards the little toe)
If you want to buy ankle weights you can do leg lifts, side leg lifts, butt lifts (where you are on your hands and knees) etc... If you have dumbells, you can do dumbell squats (plie squats), dumbell lunges and stiff legged dead lifts (awesome for hamstrings and lower back)
If you do join the gym, there are machines, but to be honest nautilus will not work you out like using your own body strength/balance will. I belong to a gym and for legs the only piece of nautilus I use is hamstring curl machine. The rest is all free weight/my own weight.
You have lots of options!
08-07-2003, 07:54 AM
Well, actually, my doctor isn't THAT bad. He's about 42, has two children, and his wife is also an obstetrician. He is a specialist in pelvic floor reconstruction.
Basically, he told me (and I read on the internet at pelvicfloor.com) that the prolapse is not really caused from "loosening". During childbirth you can get "cracks" in the faschia that lies between the bladder and the ****** (anterior problems). Or you can get the same time of thing on the posterior side (then you have a rectal prolapse). If you get a crack, this is just like a hernia. It will not go away on its own. No amount of Kegel exercises will help, although Kegel's are very good to do, period. As far as fixing this problem, right now I am at a "grade 1." These prolapses go up to about a Grade 4. Many women who've had more than one child will have a grade 1 prolapse and not even know it. Many women who also have had no children can get this. And, of course, there are women who, thanks to good genes, can have seven children, run a marathon, and never have this happen. My doctor says that in his experience in his own practice, this is what he sees and many of his patients who are runners have an exacerbation of the problem. But, basically it is caused by pregnancy, childbirth, and bad luck. Now that I seem to have this condition, running and straining are the worst things I can do. Right now, it is WAY to early to have it surgically corrected (which is the only way to fix it). He said that it may never get worse, it may take 10 years to get worse, or it might get really bad over a small amount of time. So, there you have it.
Also, I do have those ankle weights that go up to 20 lbs each. I just thought maybe I needed to do heavier weights.
08-07-2003, 08:20 AM
Something else you can do is to buy one of those exercise bands. You can get them at Target and they are probably under $10. They come in different levels of resistance, and you can adjust the resistance by either holding or stepping on the band while you do lunges or leg lifts.
As far as walking in the wintertime, I dont know if you would have room for this or not, but you might consider a treadmill. You can get them fairly inexpensively if you buy them used, and over time may cost less than a gym membership.
08-07-2003, 01:48 PM
OK, after your explanation, your doctor doesn't seem that unreasonable :) (though a sweeping statement like "no woman should run" seems really extreme). What about something like a stairmaster machine or elliptical machine? Those have a minimum of bouncing action, I think, because they do not give me any cramps like running does (but they turn out to wreak havoc on my bad ankle so I can't use them, sadly). They seem like they would build up your leg muscles alot. Would they still provide too much strain, even if you put them on a low setting?
08-07-2003, 02:28 PM
I feel for you. If my Dr. said I couldn't exercise, I think you'd have to put me out to pasture.
I know each person's relationship with their doctor is different, but honestly I don't think I could stick with yours. My GP told me when I was pregnant with my first child that I had to stop exercising. I'm a Jazzercise instructor so I was not happy with that. My OB on the other hand said I knew my body better than he did and I was safe to climb 14'ers and teach up until the minute I delivered. (which I did with both of my kids). I love my OB.
I have heard that prolapse is a common women's problems. Some of my friends who are also instructors have had to have theirs "fixed".
If you're not satisfied with what your Dr. told you, I would personally get a 2nd opinion.
Question - I'm a little surprised that with all of your walking your legs are still "scrawny"? I would think that would be the first part of you to tone up. Just curious.
08-08-2003, 06:00 AM
cindylu--yes, I think an elliptical would be great for me because I wouldn't bounce and it would do much better for my knees; however, I think it will do no better for my overall muscle tone than the walking does.
I guess what I was trying to find out was if there was any exercises you all do that would tone my legs nicely.
Kathy--As far as the walking creating any shape for my legs--it really hasn't. I guess I'm not really a naturally muscular person so it takes a lot for me to get some muscle definition. My friend is the same way. She lifted weights for almost 6 months in a gym and saw no noticeable difference. So, while my calves look pretty good (probably from teh walking), my butt and thighs really need some more shape and bulk to them (if you can imagine that!!). The walking just won't do it for me. On the other hand, my 40 year old cousin has a very athletic build and is naturally muscular. She refuses to lift weights because she bulks up so fast the her jeans get to tight on her thighs. Oh to have THAT problem.
As far as my doc, I really do trust him. There are 5 docs in this practice and I've been to all of them, so it's not like I'm locked into this guy. He really explained things well to me and they really make sense. In the past, he's never, ever made a comment about "women shouldn't run" but in the context of my problem, he did. I've also read up on the condition on several internet sites devoted to this problem (pelvicfloor.com and UPRISE) and the consensus is pretty much the same. Once you get into your late 30s and 40s, the pelvic structures, ligaments, etc. do start to weaken (mostly due to hormonal changes) and exercises that are high impact or anything that causes straining (heavy weight lifting, constipation) will "help" a prolapse.
So, I think I will try my ankle weights that I've had for years and see what I can do at home. I guess I could also get back into The Firm--maybe I can manage it now since I've been walking.
08-08-2003, 11:01 AM
I think that 20 pound ankle weights are actually pretty heavy. I have some at home. I do step aerobics, which really help strengthen my legs. I agree that squats and lunges are excellent. Walking should tone to some extent, too. JeAnne is right, you don't need machines for a good work out and lots of times you can get a great workout by simply using your own resistance without any weights. I have bad knees, but I continue to do exercises to keep those muscles strong. My ortho told me that squats were good for me and one doctor told me not to do them! So there are differing opinions, even when you are dealing with a well respected doctor. Don't be discouraged, there are exercises out there for everyone!
08-08-2003, 11:55 AM
In the Body Sculpting class I attend, the instructor does a set of exercises for thighs and butt (especially the butt! ouch.) that involve sitting on knees and elbows and lifting the legs in various ways. We also do inner and outer leg exercises laying down on the floor. Would these positions also cause pelvic floor problems? A thought would be to have one appointment with a personal trainer to teach you exercises you can do at home from positions in which you are comfortable.
As for muscle definition, it took me about a year of weight training to see the outlines of a tiny muscle here and there. However, the tone of my thighs, butt, and triceps showed definite improvement after only two months of exercises (and it's the first thing that went when I stopped exercising for two months due to an ankle injury).
It took me a long time (a few years) to find the type of exercise I was comfortable with and willing to do regularily. Since you appear commited to exercising, you will find a good way do it. I'm certain about that.
08-11-2003, 10:00 AM
Don't be discouraged from exercising! I am cursed with very muscular, large legs that always fill up every pant leg, so I'm trying hard to find sympathy for someone with small legs. I'm going to assume your Doc knows what's best for your medical condition. work around it. don't use it as an excuse not to exercise. If walking works, keep walking. any hills around you can use? Up and down hills will help develop muscle tone. I've never read much good about weights on hands or ankles, but you could put on a small backpack and add some weight to it. start with 5-10 lbs. walk your regular course with the added weight. If there are no hills nearby, hike up and down stairs at home for 10 minutes a day. then add the backpack. increase weight as conditioning gets better. Up and down hill will work your quads and calves. Winters are dark and wet here also. DH & I used to run outside. a few years ago we invested in a treadmill. for walking you don't need as expensive a unit as running. set it up where you can watch TV/ video while working out. bad weather, darkness, cold, become a non-issue. Set it up so you can watch something while working out. This is absolutely essential to prevent boredom! Nobody ever asked me, but I think boredom is the main reason home exercise programs often fail. If your brain is not occupied it will make workouts seem like forever. an additional benefit is you can multi-task! I wash/cook/bake while I'm working out, something I would not do if I were miles down the road. Stationary bikes are good too.
squats & lunges? getting a "step" and some hand weights is pretty cheap & would add some variety. Or you can do lunges using the stairs. Good luck!
08-13-2003, 08:49 AM
Here's my .02 on the subject....the second opinion advice is right on. Find another doctor. Also, I just had my yearly physical and my doctor recommended walking but gradually adding bursts of speed for a minute at a time, including moderate running. She says our metabolasm actually stays the same, we move much less. She's an expert on obesity, and a friend as well as my doctor and knows her stuff.
Also, check out the book Strong Women Stay Young and other books by this author, whose name escapes me at this moment. She has a weight lifting program designed to be done at home which is really doable. I live in a small apartment and find it managable.
Hope this helps.
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