Insanity 2.0 – Day 05

Given my general horrible health and the fact that I can’t run at a steady clip for more than 15 minutes, today’s Insanity workout, Pure Cardio, was a bit intimidating to pop into the DVD player. When, in the beginning of the workout, Shaun T himself admits to being afraid, you know it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

That being said, though, I was able to finish the entire workout. Not that I did the entire workout without taking breaks, but I made it through to the end. Given my medical history, that’s saying a lot. Of course, I modified the crap out of the workout. Yes, I felt like an old-man with a walker in the lane next to Usain Bolt, but I knew it was for my own good. And, about halfway through, I felt the echoes of a shin splint in my left leg taunting me.

My shin splint didn’t return, but I did feel a warm tightness as if my body was saying, “Careful, Ed.”

So I took it slow.

My shirt was still drenched at the end and my heart rate was still pounding in my neck, but I was a bit smarter about it than the last time around.

On a side note, I love that the people in the DVD seem to be struggling as much as I am. As someone who’s not in the kind of amazing shape my wife is in, it’s kinda nice to see that I’m not the only one begging for mercy.

What’s Wrong with Me

“Do you do Zumba, too?”

I’ll bet I’ve been asked that question hundreds of times, no joke. You see, my wife Sarah is a fitness instructor. Actually, she’s not just a fitness instructor. She’s a kick-butt fitness instructor. Take a look at some of her videos on YouTube and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. As a result, I’ve heard the aforementioned question on more than a few occasions.

If you think about it, it’s an odd question, because I’m sure the reverse very rarely happens. I don’t think anyone ever asks her if she edits audio, doodles caricatures, writes comedy reviews, or interviews people for a podcast. If I meet someone who works at Michael’s, I don’t ask her husband if he works in a craft shop, too, and if I meet a mechanic….well, you get my point. It’s just a little weird to me.

Be assured, I’m never offended when I’m asked if I also do Zumba, but the query has been posed to me so many times, it’s just kind of taken me by surprise. There are two answers to that question: the short one and the long one. I always give the short one, which is to say I smile, chuckle, and reply, “No, I don’t like to pass out in public.” It usually gets a laugh and then it’s on from there. If only they knew that the short answer isn’t just a joke but exactly what would happen.

This post is the long answer.

There’s something wrong with me (insert joke here). I don’t know what it is and apparently neither do the doctors I’ve gone to see. To put it simply, when I move around so much that I sweat, I also get really close to passing out. I have no idea why and it’s plagued me since I was in my late teens, early 20s. I run around, I get hot, then I get dizzy, then I either need to run my head under water or else it’s lights out. Weird, huh?

My very first memory of thinking something was up (and it didn’t actually occur to me until years later while reading a blurb in Men’s Health) was as a teenager mowing the lawn in the summer. We had a huge lawn and I assume our riding mower was on the fritz because I was using the push mower. I recall being drenched in sweat and suddenly getting really woozy in the head. I stopped and stood there and just stared at the ground and watched it spin. I wanted to run to the five gallon bucket we used as our dog’s water bowl and submerge my head in it. That would feel great. I wanted to lay down in the grass and just sleep. That would feel even better.

About that time Dad came out of the house to get something from his truck and I asked him how someone knows if they have heat stroke. Assuming I was just trying to get out of mowing the lawn (something I totally would have tried to do, I’m sure), he replied, “You don’t have heat stroke.” Which really meant, “Mow the lawn, cry baby.”

And so I did. I didn’t pass out and I didn’t have any other dizzy spells. I just mowed the lawn without further incident.

I used to love playing outdoor volleyball. It was always a family reunion favorite and one day (a few years after the lawn mowing story) I noticed that after only one game, I got really dizzy. I had to sit out (literally) the rest of the games and just watch from the sidelines. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I figured it was just a really hot day when, in actuality, it probably wasn’t any warmer than an average humid summer day in Indiana.

And that’s just how things kind of progressed from there. If I was doing anything too active, I’d need to be careful, otherwise I’d get super-sweaty, light-headed and dizzy, I’d fall to all fours and just want to sleep.

I didn’t mention it to a doctor until around the year 2000 because, to be honest, that’s the first time I had medical insurance. During a routine examination I mentioned it to my family doctor and his eyes lit up like he was about to gain Doctor Notoriety with a paper he would write about me. In actuality, he told me it sounded like an extremely rare heart condition and, when over-exerted, the symptoms are dizziness (check), the desire to dunk one’s head in water (check), and needing to put one’s head as close to the ground as possible (and check. That wonderful, alluring sleep).

I told him I had those symptoms and soon found myself at the local hospital wired up to a machine and on a treadmill for a stress test. Did you ever hear the one about the guy on the treadmill wired up for a stress test who actually couldn’t run long enough for them to get any readings? Well, now you have.

I don’t recall exactly how long I ran, but when they told me I didn’t last long enough, I remember feeling a little confused. It’s not like I only ran for 20 seconds and it was Game Over. How much info did they need? And how ancient are their machines that they learned nothing? I was standing on the side of the treadmill, dizzy and sweating like a maniac, and they could get nothing out of it.

After that, they attached a heart monitor of sorts to my body and told me to wear it for three days. They also told me not to do any running or strenuous physical activity. I tried to tell them the problem only happens when I do strenuous activity, but they assured me they knew what they were talking about. Not having any sort of medical degree, I conceded.

Three days passed and nothing happened. I didn’t sweat and I didn’t get dizzy. They unfastened the wires and monitoring device and, lo and behold, one week later called to tell me they didn’t see anything wrong.

I mean, I could have told you that.

So, basically, modern medicine shrugged its shoulders and said, “I dunno. Beats me.”

And that’s where I am today, 14 years later. I have no idea what’s wrong with me. All I know is I have to keep myself to one game of volleyball (and even then, I can’t go all out), I workout (carefully) at home to DVDs so if I have to get on my hands and knees or put my head in water I can (and, once in a while, just lie down on the floor and sleep where no one will see me), and I can’t do my wife’s Zumba class. She’s a little maniac and really goes to town and I can’t keep up. I want to, but I can’t. If I try…well, see the short answer at the beginning of this post.

Last year I was reading Men’s Health and I read a blurb on a study done about people who had suffered heat stroke at an early age and how, in a handful of cases, the symptoms stuck with the person whenever they engaged in physical activity (I wish I could find a link to the article. I looked, but nada. It wasn’t an article per se, just a little sidebar quickie).

In my head, that’s what I have. Did that day mowing the lawn do it? I don’t know. Is it something else? I don’t know, but it’s an answer that seems to fit and having that answer is a lot more comforting to me than admitting… I don’t know.


I forgot to mention there is one activity I can do with no problem: Swimming. I can’t run for more than 15 minutes but I can literally swim all day long. And have. Maybe it’s because I’m already surrounded in water? Maybe it’s because I’m part fish. Who knows. But I’m super grateful I have that.

Insanity 2.0 – Day 03

I’ve been walking a lot lately. Yes, it’s good exercise, but I’ve usually been walking to 300-calorie caramel lattes, so it sort of cancels itself out. Today I walked a few miles and was going at a pretty steady pace. By the time I got home I was already a pretty sweaty mess (My wife is such a lucky person) and I gave myself about an hour before I started in on today’s round of Insanity.

I only made it about 25 minutes into the 43-minute workout before I had to cut it short. Even with my modifying of the jumps, toning them down from jumps to steps, I knew I wouldn’t be able to last the whole time (Long story short, I’ve never been able to last long at all-things cardio, which kinda stinks. I come from a family of long-distance runners and in high school it was always something I wanted to do but physically couldn’t). Apparently my body needs a bit more time in between walks and Insanity workouts (or, like I did the previous two days, do Insanity earlier in the day, and then walk).

It’s always a bit discouraging when I have to cut a workout short – or else end up passed out on the floor – but Sarah helps me to remember it’s a good thing to be smart about it. And, at the end of the day, 25 minutes of Insanity is still 25 minutes of Insanity.

Insanity 2.0 – Day 02

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m taking things a bit easier with Insanity. Of course, this is Insanity, so that’s a pretty relative term. Although I’m stepping instead of jumping, it doesn’t mean I didn’t collapse on the floor every time we were supposed to be doing push-ups. I think I did like 3 push-ups and the rest of my time was spent panting.

On the upside, I’m really good at the jabs and uppercuts that come near he end of the workout. I owned that part.

Insanity 2.0 – Day 01

So, today I began my return to Insanity.

You may (or may not) recall how, back in 2010, I attempted to tackle this fitness program. We’ve all seen the infomercials and we’ve all been tempted to sign up, if for no other reason than to snag one of those free “I earned it” T-shirts. Last time around, though, I got eight days into the program before my left leg began feeling the pangs of a shin splint. By Day 16 both legs had succumbed to The Splints and I had to give up. Too much jumping too fast as compared to zero jumping in the years leading up to it? Maybe. I was loving it and wanted to keep going, but couldn’t.

I gave it up for a while and some time later tried it again. It didn’t take long for the shin splints to return, this time even quicker, and again I was sidelined.

So why, nearly four years later, have I decided to have another go at it? Well…this time, I have a plan and the plan is one word: modification.

I never knew there was such a thing for Insanity; it isn’t mentioned on the DVDs (I guess because, just like in baseball there’s no crying, in Insanity there are no shortcuts) and so it was my impression there were only two speeds: Insanity or nothing.

Fast-forward a few years and my wife Sarah is a certified Insanity instructor. Each month she gets a new CD and DVD with a new Insanity program to teach in her classes and, besides the instructor showcasing the moves, there’s also a person standing beside them showing how to modify the moves for people like me who may not be able to go at top speed all the time.

When I saw the person modifying the exercise, it was like a light went on. Why didn’t I think of going at a slower pace or maybe not as full-on? Because, to be honest, when I started to, I felt like a dork who couldn’t keep up. Even though on the DVDs Shaun T encourages you to take breaks whenever necessary and the others on the DVD seem at times to be struggling just as much as I was, I never felt like I had permission to take it down a notch.

I talked about it with Sarah and she encouraged me that the big difference – for me at least – is to always keep one foot on the ground. The jumping (for those who don’t know, there’s a lot of jumping) killed me and obviously it wasn’t something I would be able to dive right into, no matter how much my ego wanted me to. By modifying, though, I would still get a killer workout, sweat like a beast, and not risk having to bail out again. Or, at least, that’s my hope.

So today I did the fit test once again. I hated not jumping like they were on the video but I knew that if it was something I wanted to be able to stick with for the long haul, I’d have to force myself to drive in the slow lane and let the others whiz past me in the carpool lane…as much as I wanted to be in the car with them enjoying the ride. Instead of switch kicks, I was doing switch step kicks. There was no jumping in power jacks but instead power side lunge jacks. Globe jumps became globe side-steps. You get the point. No jumping, just stepping.

And yet by the time I got to the end, I was sweating, panting, and in need of morphine. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go full-speed Insanity but right now it’s not about breaking any world records. It’s just about crossing that finish line. That finish line that is waaaaaaaaaaaaay, way out there.

Cleanse – Day 2

I woke up this morning still grumpy. Coffee headache still here (or maybe just a regular headache, but I’m blaming my lack of coffee). This time around I mixed the Ionic Seaweed in a glass of water and the taste was way less overpowering. So now it was just a hint of awful instead of awful all at once.

Sarah made me a smoothie and offered to put half a banana in it. I don’t think that’s allowed but I don’t care. I’m hungry and I don’t have coffee. I deserve a friggin’ banana.

2:08pm. Super grumpy. Sarah made more chicken and peppers for lunch which was really good. I’ve felt really tired and lethargic all day. I’ve been constipated today, too, which is a bit surprising because I’ve always heard cleanses have the opposite effect. I still have a headache and a slight stomach ache which is probably from all the angry poop that insists on staying put.

I also don’t like being in this bad mood. This will change, right? I don’t like being upset with/snappy at Sarah for no reason.

6:09pm. Took a nap. Headache is almost gone. Hungry. I’m allowed to have as many green apples as I want. I have the feeling I’m going to get sick of green apples really fast. And chocolate. You see, everything on this cleanse seems to be “chocolate” flavored, I guess to fool people into forgetting they’re on a cleanse. The shakes, the snacks, the “chocolate wafers.” I’m going to be sick of powdered chocolate flavoring even faster, I think.

11:05pm. I came home from rehearsal hungry and craving a burger. Or bacon. Anything meat-y. I had an egg (and 5 egg whites) and 2 bowls of spinach. Still grumpy. Going to bed.

Cleanse, Day 1

Sarah wanted to try a 30-day cleanse and somehow she talked me into doing it with her. Because the cleanse itself was pretty expensive, instead of splurging for two we decided to share it and make it a 15-day process instead. Fifteen days without coffee is still 15 days without coffee, but it’s better than 30.

I started off drinking 2 ounces of…I don’t know what it is. Ionic paste, I think. They said you could also dilute it in water but, because I’m an idiot, I drank it straight. Or tried to. You know in movies and TV when someone is drinking some sort of “health smoothie” and their friend tastes it and they have the appropriately comedic reaction? That was me.

The phrase “blech” was the only thing I could think to say and I think I said it 376 times.

The replacement smoothie for breakfast was OK, but the chocolate flavoring to make it “yummy” seemed a little overpowering. I was already grumpy without my coffee and, after the smoothie and supplemental pill, was still kind of hungry.

Sarah made us chicken, rice, and peppers for lunch which was really good. I inhaled mine in about 3 seconds and thought about how much I wished I had some coffee to get rid of the coffee headache that was already throbbing.

By 6:30pm, despite the “snacks” we were allowed, I was still ravenous. On my way to rehearsal for a play I am in, I stopped by the coffee shop (with Sarah’s permission) and got a small black cup of coffee. I didn’t have much of it, as I usually take mine with cream, but it was still coffee and it seemed to help for a little bit.

When I got home, Sarah made me another shake and I was still hungry. I made a salad (a bowl of plain spinach) and had a green apple and then ate some peanuts. I’m looking forward to the “I feel great!” part because right now I’m just grumpy.