Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ellie's Television Debut

Back at the end of March, I was in Wisconsin for my SIL's bridal shower.  That's right folks, be shocked that my baby brother found that special someone!

While I was away, I left explicit instructions that Ellie must arrive on-time to her dance class and that she MUST not wear pajamas.  The second one I was most concerned about.

You see, Ellie participates in a special needs dance class through the charity 2dance2dream.  McKenna Carr is 19 years-old and volunteers her time teaching children with various abilities how to dance.  This includes kids with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, autism and of course Down syndrome.  She knows sign language which is a pretty big deal! Ellie and Jack, who has tuberous sclerosis complex, happen to be in their very own dance class.

Ellie and McKenna
Contrary to what this pic shows, The Bear loves McKenna.
She loathes me taking pictures.

Because McKenna selflessly gives herself to others, she was nominated for a special award through KVUE's 5 Who Care.  Sheryl, Jack's mama gave an awesome interview expressing the thoughts that I was not able to share since I was in Madison.  Andrew, hid in the back.  Apparently, he is camera shy.  My daughter is not.

Here is the new segment:

Look!  no pajamas :-)
Bear stole the headband from awesome volunteer Elizabeth.
Thus began the birth of Ellie's headband obsession.
Camera shy that is.

Girlfriend flirted with the camera man like there was no tomorrow.  This means she only got a cameo on the news show because she was too busy trying to "help" film the class.  Jack was a freaking rockstar as you can see in the news video.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Digging Out of a Hole and the quest to live forever

In slightly less then 2 months, I have managed to lose 15 lbs and over 17 inches from my chest, waist, hips, thigh and biceps.  My BMI is finally in the normal range and my waist circumference no longer has me in the danger zone for heart disease.  My risk for diabetes had drastically decreased.  I have more energy than before I had Ellie and you all know that I need a lot of energy to stay on top of The Chunky Chicken's antics.  My anxiety is at an all time low which says a lot given the fact that I often blog about my battle with depression and generalized anxiety disorder.  Most shockingly, I need less coffee to get through the day!

Forever keeping me on my toes.

Why am I telling you all of this?

1.  The fact is, I need to live forever. I am not going to lie. I must outlive my daughter.  Don't get me wrong, the idea of watching my Ellie pass away before me does not give me great pleasure and it does keep me awake at night.  Having a child special needs is a different kind of parenting worry.  As Ellie ages into older adulthood, she will require more care and possibly supervision.  I need to take care of her for as long as possible before my health deteriorates as I do not want her to end up in a state-run nursing home with no one watching over her.  Additionally, living forever also entails being healthy!  It does no good to outlive your daughter if she is stuck having to care for you!

2. I am a quitter.  At least when it comes to healthy living.  I ate horribly.  I indulged in Ritter Sport chocolate bars.  Bad days and pain = chocolate Amy's ice cream.  I was in grad school and didn't make working out a priority.  I started Zumba a few years ago.  Got rear ended and was incapacitated for 4 months.  Took me even more months to restart.  That lasted a few weeks before I got rear ended again.  No working out for several more months because I "just didn't feel like it'.  Then I started Insanity which I loved and lost 2 lb a week just working out twice a week, but then the holiday's hit and that was that.  Quitting is easy, but I was tired of starting over.  Each time I quit, I would gain the weight back.  I am done with that!  Done!  Over!  Finished!

3. I have been able to do this through the support and encouragement of friends who want to adopt a life style modification for themselves and I want to pay it forward.

Two months ago, a friend of mine said she signed up to do the 21 Day Fix Challenge.  Peer pressure got the best of me and I thought "why not? I can do anything for 3 weeks!".  Three weeks is what it takes to change most bad habits and establish newer, healthier ones.  The 21 Day Fix is a part of the Beachbody fitness programs.  Think of Insanity, P90X, and Turbo Fire.  I had 7 different 30 minute workouts and an eating guide.  Oh and Shakeology.  Chocolate shakeology.  Yum!  I have trouble sticking to things (remember Zumba?) and getting to the gym was becoming impossible due to the class schedule and Ellie's schedule conflicting.  That and those classes are 60 minutes!  In the safety of my own home, I was able to work out with Ellie sitting on my chest or imitating downward dog.  Girlfriend has me beat on flexibility!

I was/am a member of a FB group with people also in the challenge.  We would post when we worked out and recipes.  I would sign on and see that so-and-so did Dirty 30 after working a 12 hour shift.  Peer pressure!  So of course I had to do Dirty 30.

I have completed 2 rounds of the 21 Day Fix Challenge and I actually lost more weight and inches the 2nd round.   I am now a Beachbody Coach that helps manage a closed Facebook Accountability group called Forward Motion Fitness.  There are people who are looking to lose weight, eat better, get new recipes, run, walk, or use Beachbody workouts such as T25, Les Mills Body Pump, or the 21 Day Fix.

Let's all just take a moment that I am mortified and
am in shock that I actually posted this!  I didn't even put
this on my Facebook page :-/
note: that is my swimsuit bottom and not underwear!

4. Arthritis is a literal pain in the butt or hip or back or knees and physical activity, core strengthening, and stretching can alleviate this crunching, burning pain.

Remember my herniated discs and arthritic back?  I was able to modify my workouts to be low-impact.  Think marching instead of high-knees.  Sadly, the last 3 weeks I have only been able to work on arms and chest due to my back issues.  I am able to walk in short burst throughout the day as too much walking, sitting more than 20 minutes, and prolonged standing increase my pain.  Now that the epidural steroid shots are slowly working their way along my nerves, I hope to start up with the newly released PiYo.

I have been waiting months for this work out program.  It is a combination of pilates and yoga which builds strength and increases flexibility without burpees!  I loathe burpees and mountain climbers.  Low impact, high intensity, no weights, 8 different workouts.  I am so excited to get back into working out!  This mama bear is striving to be a MILF :-P

5. Finally, a not so thinly veiled ulterior motive: I am now an independent beachbody coach.  Remember how I mentioned Shakeology earlier in this post?  I am addicted.  Before my lifestyle modification, I was gorging on Ritter Sport candy bars and Amy's double chocolate ice cream.  No brownie could go uneaten.  I crave chocolate.  Right now I drink chocolate Shakeology which came as part of my 21 Day Fix Challenge package, but you can buy it individually and in different flavors.  It is not a weight loss drink, but it can be used as a meal replacement.  I drink mine for breakfast because I tend to feel queasy in the morning and not eat which leads to overeating later.  It has high protein, tons of fiber, pre/pro-biotics, and digestive enzymes.  Mostly I like the flavor and sneak in spinach and fruit too.  So, addicted.  By being a Beachbody Coach, I get a discount on all beach body products such as PiYo and most importantly, shakeology.

Additionally, I am hoping that my story will maybe help encourage people to adopt a health lifestyle. Even if it is just changing one thing such as drinking more water or cutting out soda.  Because, you know, you want to live forever and a healthy forever!

If any of you would like more information on fitness programs or shakeology or are interested in doing a Challenge (and added to the FB group), you may visit or email me at annatheuerfitness (at) gmail (dot) com.  Or you can visit my Facebook page


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lordosis, Herniated Discs, Pinched Nerve, and Epidural Steroid Shots

Ellie Bear pic at bottom.

I hope to be back on my feet soon!  Okay more like back to sitting soon.  I think that the least time I blogged I mentioned that I was having severe lower back and hip pain and as such could barely sit.  Hence why I am typing standing up!  Since then, I managed to pinch a nerve in my next while buckling Ellie into her car seat.  A seemingly innocent movement that led to severe pain between the shoulder blades (referred pain) and numbness and tingling in my right arm.  Sorry for that type-os!

First off, I have lordosis aka swayback:


This puts added pressure on my lower spine and pelvic area.

This lead to pain.  Unbeknownst to me and the doc, we thought it is due to something called lumbar facet something or other.  A MRI revealed that he was wrong and I have not one but TWO problems. Yay!  Yippee!  Ever the over-achiever!

I have two torn and herniated discs at L4/L5 and at L5/S1.  I also have spinal arthritis.  Goody.


Lumbar Radiculopathy
Hence the hip and thigh pain I have.
Photo: Emory Neuroscience

We tried physical therapy to build up core muscles and maintain a proper pelvic tilt to improve posture.  This helped my lower back but exacerbated my hip.  After 3 weeks, I quit. Yes, I was a quitter.  After physical therapy failed to alleviate the pain and pressure in my lower back, hip, and thigh, we turned to epidural corticosteroid shots.


Great description of the procedure

I had two shots in the problem areas yesterday.  I was under the mistaken impression that this was going to be a piece of cake since I had an epidural when I had Ellie.  Wrong!  I was delusional.  The pain was so severe as the steroid was going in that I may have said a few choice words that are not appropriate for this blog.  Two shots, two times my nerves were on fire--all the say down my leg to my toes, then all the way through my right lower back, hip, buttocks, and thigh.  I was left with 10 out of 10 pain (compared to my 6/10 prior to the procedure) and a numb right leg.  This is a common occurrence since there is pressure on the disc due to the added fluid the steroid creates.  As it dissipates, it will improve.  Steroid shots can take 3-5 days to decrease the pain and then may take up to 21 days to reach full benefit.

Please say a prayer that this works.  I need to get back to PT, exercise, core building exercises (to pull my pelvis into correct alignment), and stretching.

Just to tie you all over, here is a pic of the ever-stylish Bear.  She is channeling Carmen Miranda:


Lordosis.  Mount Sinai Hospital.

Cervical Radiculopathy (pinched nerve in neck).  University of Maryland Medical Center.

What is a herniated disc, pinched nerve, bulging disc? Spine-Health.

Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections for Lumbar Herniated Discs and Sciatica.  Spine-Health.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2dance2dream: The Recital

Back Stage
I have mentioned a few times that Ellie takes a dance class that is offered by the 2dance2dream program which is a part of the Legacy of Hope Austin Organization.  This program is for children with special needs.  Ellie and Jack participate in the program and over the weekend they had their dance recital.  Jack was a superstar.  Ellie, well let's just say Ellie was Ellie.  The good news is Ellie didn't attempt to crowd surf.

excuse the blueberries stuck in her teeth

There are several young ladies in the 2dance2dream that serve as volunteers.  Ellie has mastered the art of manipulating these wonderful girls into holding her during the dance.  It is a motor sensory thing for her.  By hold her, she gets to the movements of the dance.  She will wave her hands around and of course she claps for herself at the end.

An amazing thing occurred at the end of her dance.  Backstage after the dance, Ellie said "I did it!".  As I was in the audience, I didn't get to hear her first sentence however there were several witnesses.  I have not heard her say it since, but my mama bear heart has been beaming!

Of course, Ellie thinks nothing of dancing in the middle of restaurants, but dancing in a dance class NEVER!

I am apologizing for the lack of blogging.  I have two torn discs and vertebral degeneration in my lumbar spine.  Sitting exacerbates the pain.  I tend to sit to type the blog.  So, my poor neglected blog!


A mask for kids with Down syndrome

Do you hear crickets?  Yes, we are here!  We are alive!  We are safe and healthy!  We haven't been inside a restaurant or store since m...