Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bras for well-endowed women athletes

Follow PerfectImperfect's board Bra Recommendations on Pinterest.

I get asked about this pretty often, so I thought I would share my recommendations and experiences with sports bras. I have pinned links to the bras in the Pinterest board above.  I wear different sizes in different brands -- in the Enell I wear a 1, in the VS Sport and the Moving Comfort, I wear a 34DDD. None of these links are affiliate links, I just wanted to help other women find their perfect fit.  Here are my favorites:

#1: Enell Sport

Until my experience modeling this bra at Fitbloggin', I had never tried it.  The whole look of it was a little intimidating.  However, now that I have run wearing this, I wouldn't want to run wearing any other bra.  It holds everything in place and there is no bounce at all. I would like to proselytize about this bra to the unsupported women I see running, but that would be weird, so I don't. If you wear a D cup or larger, you should definitely try one of these.  It may just change your life. It works for my triathlons too -- I wear it under my trisuit.

There is also an Enell Lite, but I haven't tried it yet. I like that the fabric is moisture-wicking.  That is one problem sometimes with the Enell Sport -- it can get hot.

#2: Moving Comfort Maia

This was the bra I was wearing to run before I tried the Enell. It is fairly supportive and it has molded cups under the smooth outer layer, so it doesn't create the dreaded uniboob effect. If it peeks out under a V-neck, it just looks like a tank top. I have three of these -- two in black and one in blue. I hang-dry all my bras, so they last a long time.

#3: The Victoria Secret Knockout Bra

This is my newest find. It uses the same strategy as the Maia -- molded cups under a smooth outer layer, but with a zipper and snap close instead of hooks in the back. This is the prettiest of all my sports bras by far, but I wouldn't wear it to run or do any impact activity like aerobics. It is great for Pilates, yoga, weight lifting, or just standing around looking good. My trainer saw me in this yesterday and said that I should go buy a bunch of them and wear them every day.  I thought that was a pretty strong recommendation.  This is one of the few VS bras available in sizes up to DDD.

Honorable Mention: The Coobie Bra

I wouldn't wear this bra to do anything, but I do like it for those times when I am at home and want very light support and not to feel restricted. I even wear it to bed sometimes and it is comfortable enough for that -- no seams, breathable material. I only have one but I would like a few more.

Do you wear any of these? Do you have recommendations to share? 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Healthy as a horse

Are horses really healthy? They do work hard.
In light of Jillian's dismissal of my health, I wanted to provide the latest data that I actually am quite healthy, if my Walgreens Wellness exam results aren't enough proof. These are from actual doctors.

Results from my stress test earlier this month just arrived (given because of my family history):
The patient exercised for 12 minutes and 54 seconds of a Bruce protocol achieving 14.8 METS. The peak heart rate achieved was 179 bpm which is 101% of the patient's maximum predicted heart rate.... The blood pressure response was normal. The heart rate response was normal. During the test, the patient reported no chest pain or pressure. The test was terminated due to heart rate achieved. Functional capacity is above average.
I didn't really understand all of the information so I did some searching around the Internets.  From this test, I found was able to estimate my VO2 max: 52.60. It would appear from norm tables that it's not my oxygen uptake that is keeping me from being a high-level athlete.

Selected scores from my blood chemistry panel, also earlier this month:
  • Fasting glucose: 79 
  • Cholesterol: 154
  • Triglycerides: 108
  • AHDL: 74 
  • LDL: 58
  • VLDL: 22
  • Cholesterol/HDL ratio: 2.1
In my family, fasting glucose usually isn't the problem, it's glucose tolerance, so last year I had an A1C result of 4.5, and a calculated average glucose of 82. The endocrinologist didn't see a need to repeat the test again this year given the excellent result last year. 

I am not saying my health is perfect. I have Hashimoto's hypothyroid (which is well-managed with meds). I have seasonal allergies. I have some mechanical issues that I am working on.  I'm also working on losing weight with Weight Watchers, and making progress, albeit slowly. I have talked to my endocrinologist about the weight, and he said that as long as I continue to stay active and eat a healthy diet, the weight itself is not a problem. He said to look around at family parties and compare myself to the people there. Weight is heavily (no pun intended) influenced by genetics.

So I'm doing what I can.  And I was about to say "maybe I'll never be a model," but I actually have a photo shoot coming up. More on that later...

Photo from Fitbloggin' with Heather, in which both of us are looking pretty healthy and cute, IMHO. 

Injury update: Still a runner

With running guru Jeff Galloway at Fitbloggin'
As much as I know Vickie will cringe to hear it, I'm still running, but I'm not being stupid about it (a matter of opinion, I know). I had been planning to do an all-women's triathlon this weekend, but considering that I have not had time to really improve my run over the last one, I decided to sit this one out and volunteer instead. 

Though I had the blessing of the sports medicine doctors to go back to running, I'm varying my training a lot more, with maybe one or two runs a week. I have been doing a lot more swimming this summer, in the pool and in open water. I signed up for an unlimited yoga package, and have been trying to attend 2-3 classes per week.  I have gotten out more on my bike, which does not hurt my hamstring at all. 

I had been blaming most of my problems with my knees and joints on my extra weight.  At Fitbloggin' I was able to get a running gait analysis from a physical therapist.  Some of the problems he noted were an anterior pelvic tilt, insufficient hip extension, lateral pelvic drop on both sides, and some knee buckling. All of these point to mechanical issues and imbalances that, if corrected, could help me a lot, both with my joint health and with running performance. I have tight hip flexors and I need to strengthen my core, my glutes, and my hips. As Heather pointed out, if I had only focused on weight loss and not addressed these issues, I could have just ended up a smaller person with the same problems. 

After my interview with Robert Gillanders, I looked at all the physical therapy resources for runners on the APTA website and found information on "sleeping glutes." I happened to have a massage therapy appointment the next day, and I talked with the therapist about it. She did some tests and was able to find that, no, my glutes were not firing properly.  She prescribed some different things for me, including toe and foot exercises, some correctives to wake up the glutes, and, oddly, "scrubbing" my neck (rubbing out the muscles).  I have a tendency to tighten up my neck when I'm working out, and it seems to be a substitute for tightening the muscles that are actually needed to run.  Interestingly, my husband also has been having hamstring tightness and pain, so I recruited him to nudge me to do these exercises with him.  

I had briefly thought about switching from the triathlon to the aquabike as my preferred sport, but I'm not willing to give up being a runner and a triathlete, even though I'd probably place better if I eliminated my weakest link.  I know this identity thing is hard for other people to understand, but it's important to me. I'd (reluctantly, sadly) give up running if I really believed I needed to, but I really don't.  These interventions seem to be helping.  I did a 20-minute run yesterday with no pain.  I always do a 5 minute warmup walk and cool down, and I stretch afterward.  

Over the winter I plan to figure out a real strength-training program to build up in the off-season for next year's races.  I'm ready to end this injury-recovery cycle and start making some real progress. Too bad it took me this long to figure it out. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday weigh-in: Let's roll

I think it's time to stop gaining and losing and start working on a downward trend. I committed to giving my leader my tracker at next week's meeting to keep me from blowing off tracking like I did last week. Maybe I will even see a new number.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jillian Michaels says I'm not healthy

"Does this dress make my cholesterol look high?"

I wasn't going to write about this, but it has been rattling around in my head for a while and I think it's better to write about it so I can stop thinking about it.

In a recent episode of her podcast called "Fat Shaming," The Jillian spoke about the self-acceptance movement on social media.  She seemed to go back and forth on the idea of whether she supported it or didn't.  On the one hand, she agreed that we all need to be proud of ourselves and love our bodies in order to affect positive changes in our lives, but she seemed to get stuck on numbers.

She talked about Meghan Tonjes's fight with Instagram, supporting Meghan and saying "she has a great butt." She said she thought Meghan was a size 14 -- I would guess from her photos that she might be a bigger size than that, but I think that Jillian was right, she does have a great butt.

At the same time, Jillian said she'd like to post an inspirational story from this movement, but she hasn't found one to post yet that is "healthy."
"I just want to say, the message is, yes, love yourself no matter where you are at. You are a valuable human being. You are a powerful human being. You are a lovable human being. I don't care what size you are, I don't care how old you are. But, what I can't cosign is people saying it's okay to be unhealthy. . . I can never, and I will never put a stamp of approval on people damaging their health. And I've seen many healthy girls in size 8s! Size 10s! I don't generally see it in 12s, 14s, I have yet to see it."
"How's my blood pressure, J?"
What is unhealthy? She at first talked about things you would learn at the doctor's office: Cholesterol, blood pressure, hormones.  But she also talked about clothing sizes, and looking at pictures on the Internet. I'm not sure how you can diagnose hormonal problems, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc., from looking at a photo.  But if that's possible, instead of going to the doctor's office next time, I'll just send a selfie to Jillian.

I'm being a little facetious here. I'm a Jillian Michaels fan and I always will be -- she's real, she tells it like she sees it, and she isn't afraid to admit when she's made a mistake.  I think she has made one here, but I don't know if she will understand that she has.

First of all, I have seen Jillian in person, and she is teeny-tiny. She probably would be very overweight for her frame if she were wearing a size 12 or 14.  If she is thinking about herself and how she would feel if she were that much larger, I can see where she would project bad health. But a typical plus size model is much taller and built on a larger scale than Jillian.  It is possible to carry extra weight and have great blood pressure and blood sugar levels. I should know.

Jillian, presumably, can't diagnose these things from a photograph, so she is talking about looking healthy, not actual physical health. I wish that she would just admit that, but confusing weight and health is so common that it's hard to blame her. I do it too. I remember running into an old college friend and congratulating him on how healthy he looked (because he was visibly at least 50 pounds thinner than he was in college) and he had just gotten over a very serious illness.

Health is not an on/off variable anyway, and it isn't completely under our control. There are so many parts to it. It's not easy to measure.  You can have great numbers and still have a heart attack a few weeks later (I know people this has happened to).  You can be physically fit and still get cancer.

I'm a little sensitive about this because I grew up in an extended family that put a lot of emphasis on looks and weight, and never really talked about health. I had several relatives who were put on "diet drugs" by doctors in the 70s, which turned out to just be amphetamines.  Another relative got a lot of praise for how good she looked while she had an eating disorder.  Putting the emphasis in the wrong place can be very destructive. It can put a lot of pressure on someone who is otherwise healthy and carrying extra weight, and worse, it can give a false sense of security to the thin and unhealthy.

I get what Jillian is saying -- love yourself as you are but continue to work to improve. She has taken this to heart herself with her "Project Awesome," so I think it's fair for her to ask the same of the rest of us.

I would love to be a size 8/10 and qualify for "healthy" status. Until then, I'm doing what I can.  In this "unhealthy" size 12/14 body, I ran and biked yesterday and did yoga. I'm planning to swim around this lake tonight.

I can't instantly make myself thinner, but I can keep taking care of the body I have. I think Jillian would probably approve.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Note to self: Just track!

Dear Me,

It doesn't help not to track. Even if you are going over your points, being honest with yourself is better than hiding from the truth. You are paying for access to these tools, so use them.

Track by phone, on paper, or snap and track -- just do it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Photo tour of Mackinac Island

My bike makeover was in preparation for our trip to Mackinac Island earlier this week, and I have to say that a cruiser bike with fenders and a basket is the perfect vehicle for visiting the island.

Fenders are just a cute accessory here on the mainland, but my husband rode a bike with no fenders on a wet day on an island that uses horse-drawn carriages for everything from passenger transport to trash pickup. He ended up with the famous Mackinac Island Fudge Stripe on his back.

Because the first day was so wet, we did as many indoor activities as we could. The $10 Grand Hotel tour was our big activity for the day:

We needed a rest so we stopped in the Cupola Bar and each had a drink -- I chose coffee because I was chilled, and my husband had a Big Porch Ale. Neither of us opted for the $127 anniversary cocktail.

The Grand was not in our budget, so we opted to stay at the Inn at Stonecliffe, which was a pretty strenuous bike ride from downtown.  My bike basket and my tote from Bicyclette were very useful in transporting the things we needed for each day after we left the hotel. 

The first night, we chose to have a less-expensive dinner at a downtown restaurant, which didn't save us much money when we figured in cab rides there and back. Still, it gave us a chance to see the downtown area at night.  Tip:  It's a good idea to give the inexperienced (and often drunk) cyclists plenty of room when crossing the street. 

Luckily, we had better weather on our second day on the island, so we spent most of our day touring. Fort Mackinac, besides all the history and re-enactments, offers stunning views of the island and the water.

Our $12 tickets also included entry to a bunch of smaller museums, including a blacksmith shop.

We also toured The Grand Hotel Stables, which had historical carriages on display. 

And we took a long stair climb up to Arch Rock, which was well worth the walk, although we found at the top that we could have just accessed it from the road at the top of the cliff.

For dinner on our second night, we walked to The Woods, a restaurant operated by The Grand Hotel, which was right next door to where we were staying.

After dinner, we watched the sun go down from the back patio of our hotel. I wanted to wait to see the stars when it got dark, but by 11:00, we were both too tired from our long day to stay up any later.

The next morning we packed up, sent our luggage to the ferry, and did a little shopping and sightseeing. It's interesting to see the consequences of the "no cars" decision.  Almost everyone on the island bikes to work.

Horses transport most things, but we also saw a bike trailer loaded up with furniture and quite a few people pulling hand carts for smaller items (and to clean the streets of the consequences of all the horses). A lot of people have to work very hard to make it possible for vacationers like us and people with summer homes to enjoy a car-free retreat.

We rested for a while near this pretty house, then bought a little fudge, some souvenirs, and got on the ferry for home, a little worse for wear.  

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07