Rhabdomyolysis: The Silent Exercise-Induced Killer!

On Friday January 3, 2014, I went to my CrossFit class and did a WOD that consisted of 42-30-18 Ring Rows and 21-15-9 Barbell Back Squats, alternating between RRs and Squats. Prior to this I hadn’t done any upper body strength training for about a month because of some nerve issues, and I actually thought this workout would be okay for me. Little did I know how wrong I was!

After (and now that I think about it, even during) the workout my arms were immediately sore. It even hurt for me to take a shower! I figured, “Hey I just did a tough arm workout, of course my arms are sore!”

By Saturday I could barely straighten my arms and they started to get swollen and puffy.

Sunday my arms looked like this:

On the inner side of my biceps my arms were puffing out! This is when I decided to do a little bit of research on Rhabdomyolysis (Rab-doe-my-o-lie-sis). I heard about it from my CrossFit coach when he posted an article about it a few months back. During my research I came across this article: http://fitfeat.com/blog/2011/06/03/rhabdomyolysis-if-you-exercise-read-this/ written by Shari. Shari if you’re reading this… THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I cannot thank you enough for you writing about your experience and it really helped me take the initiative when it came to my health! You might have just saved my life!

After reading her article my boyfriend and I drove to the ER. After a 4+ hour wait… I told the doctor I did CrossFit and I thought I had Rhabdo. He checked my Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) levels and normal is < 200. I was at 8000. I was admitted immediately, hooked to an IV and was in the hospital for 4 days. I didn’t plan for any of this to happen and it came out of nowhere! Even after I was in the hospital I was STILL in denial.

They put a liter of fluids in me every 2 hours and I was peeing round the clock! Within 2 days I gained 20 pounds of water weight. Trust me when I tell you that this was seriously disturbing for me, especially since I’ve lost 20lbs and was still in the process of trying to lose weight!


Welcome my 20lb. water baby!

Here are my CPK levels as the days went on:
1/5/14: 8030
1/6/14: 10,416
1/6/14: 11,858
1/6/14: 15,645
1/6/14: 16,191
1/7/14: 12,100
1/7/14: 13,013
1/7/14: 13,090
1/7/14: 12,463
1/8/14: 10,186
1/8/14: 11,004
1/8/14: 9,639
1/9/14: 7,749
1/10/14: 3045

The first couple days my levels kept going up! Could you imagine if I was still at home or at work? My numbers could have been much worse!

Two weeks later I took another blood test…
1/22/14: 129
Halleluyer I’m normal again!!!

WTF is Rhabdomyolysis??!

Now that you heard my story, I bet you’re wondering, WTF is Rhabdomyolysis??!

According to medical dictionaries and the interwebs:
Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage.

Some symptoms of Rhabdo include:

  • Dark, red, or cola-colored urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • General weakness
  • Muscle stiffness or aching (myalgia)
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Weakness of the affected muscles

If you are experiencing muscle stiffness, pain, weakness, swelling then go to the ER! DO NOT WAIT! Especially if your urine is dark, coca-cola colored. That means blood is in your urine and your kidneys are failing.

I write this as a way to let those who exercise know that Rhabdomyolysis IS out there and it IS dangerous. Though it is a rare occurance, it can happen to anyone. Someone in the military, CrossFitters, even those working out at home can get Rhabdo. I read about a situation where a person got Rhabdo from doing 20 sit-ups every day for a week. Another case happened when someone took a cycling class ONE time! It can occur in your arms, legs, back, even abs. It can happen to athletic people (like me) or to someone who hasn’t worked out at all and is just getting started!

Post-Rhabdo

As far as my post-Rhabdo experience, I haven’t lifted anything heavy or even attempted to work out. I will post what I’ve done to get back into the swing of things, and if I will return to CrossFit. As of right this moment, doing CrossFit is definitely not an option for me. I dont’ know if I’ll ever be a CrossFitter again. Going through this experience has definitely traumatized me a little bit. I will be questioning my body every time I lift and wondering if the next workout I do will be okay. I don’t know how long mentally this will last, but I just don’t see myself going back to CF anytime soon. Right now I want to work out SO bad but I need to understand that I need to start off SLOW. Like my doctor told me, “No Pain, No Gain” does NOT apply here!

6 Months Doing CrossFit!

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As of today, I have been doing CrossFit for 6 months since my ONRAMP. I have been enjoying every bit of it so far! I have increased my weights, finishing WODs faster, and my physique has changed a lot. I’m more toned, but I still have at least 10-15 more pounds to drop.

Last year (before surgery) I had a body fat percentage of 30-31%. Today I am at 24-25%! I have also lost 4″ in measurements over the last 6 months. I am so happy with my progress and I can’t wait to see where I am next year!
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I thought about doing Paleo, juicing or a meal replacement to get my weightloss going again. I haven’t decided what I want to do just yet but it definitely will be healthy. I cannot wait to get to the 150s! I’m 5 pounds away! I can do this!

CrossFit

I’m not gonna lie. I want to join CrossFit not now… but RIGHT NOW. I LOVE lifting weights and pushing myself to my maximum potential. I want to do hand stand push ups, dead lifts, overhead squats, all of it! But unfortunately joining CrossFit costs $150/month and that’s too expensive for me right now.

I wish I didn’t have a car payment, student loans and a ton of miscellaneous bills, but I do. And I have to focus on paying those off before I can do what I want.

Hopefully one day I will be able to join CrossFit and get in the best shape of my life! One day…

But for now, I just have to push myself with whatever work out I do and strive to get as fit and healthy as I can!

My Progress!

Hey all! Sorry I’ve been away for a while. I have a few updates to make, especially about my fitness/weight progress!

1. I’M IN THE FREAKING 160s!!!! My highest weight was 184pointsomething last year. As of yesterday morning I am now 167.8! Holy freaking weight loss batman! That’s almost 20lbs! I can’t believe it! This is a huge deal for me. The past couple years I’ve been wanting to lose weight and I would work out hard and just wouldn’t see any progress. I am now consistently losing weight every week ranging from 0.2 – 2 lbs! *fist pump*

What has worked for me:

  • Lifting weights like a BOSS. I upped my weight and decreased my reps. I have muscles again! Ladies you CAN lift heavy weights. It helps with weight loss. It really does.
  • Cardio. Every time I go to the gym I do some form of cardio. It usually switches between the elliptical or treadmill (aka DREADmill, I hate that f*cking machine). I also learned to run outside! I still hate running with a fiery passion, but I still do it. I’m signing up for another 5k in November.
  • Abs & arms. I do ab workouts maybe 1-2 times a week and some arms. A lot of my ab workouts include planking. Gotta love planking! *insert sarcasm here*

2. Medical issues. I’ve been going through medical issues lately that has/will hinder my work outs. I’m trying to get a few workouts here and there, but I may have to have surgery within the next 2 months. I am doing much better now, but I will post details about that later!

3. My clothes are fitting better and I don’t hate looking at myself as much in the mirror as I used to. I’m now able to wear clothes in my closet that used to be too tight! How awesome is that?!

4. I can bench press 120lbs and leg press 400lbs (NOT including the machine. Four 45lb plates and two 10lb plates on each side baby!). My goal is to bench 135lbs. Only 15 lbs to go!

5. I learned that weight loss takes TIME and EFFORT. I literally didn’t see any weight drop for 3 months. THREE MONTHS. And this was 3 months of working out and lifting hardcore. And when I say hardcore, I’m talking 1-1.5 hours of cardio + abs + weights 4x a week! I stopped thinking about weight loss and started thinking about the 5k I ran and the weight I was lifting. My weight loss eventually came as a surprise! A great freaking surprise!

6. I also learned that weight loss doesn’t happen without a good DIET. I’m not even going to call it a diet. It’s more of a lifestyle change. I’m definitely more conscious about what I eat, but I don’t deprive myself of food either. Taco bell? Sure. Candy? Okay. Ice cream? Why not! But I do it all in moderation. I”ll eat fast food maybe 1-2 timesĀ  a month, candy every few weeks, ice cream maybe 1-2 times a month. It’s all about portion and knowing how to eat. My daily diet usually consists of:

  • Breakfast: oatmeal or cereal w/ toast, water
  • Lunch: Salad w/ a side of fruit, water
  • Dinner: Chicken/fish, pasta/rice, veggies, water (sometimes juice)
  • Snacks: Cranberries & almonds, peaches, fruit snacks
  • Dessert: ice pops, chocolate milk

So for all those non-believers that you can’t lose weight all I have to say is that YOU CAN DO IT. I honestly thought I was going to stay 184 forever. That no matter how hard I worked out that scale wasn’t going to budge. You have to figure out what works for you and stay motivated! One of my main motivators is my boyfriend. He comes with me to the gym and pushes me hard and I am blessed to have him in my life.

I am so happy right now and I cannot wait to reach my 2nd goal of hitting the 150s! My goal is to reach that by October 31st. Wish me luck!

Squats!

Recently I have been doing barbell squats. Don’t know what they are? Here’s a pic!

I am starting with 45lb. weights on each side, so including the bar, the total weight is 135lbs. Not bad, eh?

The first time I did them I felt so uncoordinated. It feels a little weird because there is a lot of weight on a different part of your body. It’s not on your legs or you’re not holding it in your hands, its on your shoulders. I just had to make sure that I maintained form 100% because I did not want to injure myself!

Benching, squats, leg press… I feel like a beast in the gym! RAWR!

I gotta say though, just getting myself to the gym is the hard part. Sometimes I don’t have the motivation to go. Thank God for my boyfriend because he motivates me (*cough* forces me *cough*) to go when I don’t want to!

I Can Bench 110 lbs!

UPDATE! I am now benching 110 lbs!! BOOYAH!

So I stepped on the scale yesterday and I lost another pound. That brings me to 175.5. My first goal is to get below 170! I feel like it’s taking a freaking eternity to get through the 170s and I’m stuck in limbo, but I’ll get there eventually. It’s so frustrating to not see faster progress but I have to remember that it took 8 years for me to get this heavy so I’m not going to become a 130lb. goddess overnight!

I have come to the conclusion that the only way I’m going to lose weight faster is if I change the way I eat. I need to eat more fruits and veggies, eat healthy snacks throughout the day and eat healthy lunches and dinners. I think right now I eat okay if I was to maintain my weight. I don’t stuff my face with fatty goodness like burgers, fries, burritos, chips (all the yummy foods) but I do need to eat more healthy. I indulge every now and then. Maybe once every 2 or 3 weeks? But I definitely don’t go crazy with food. I literally can’t eat like that anymore!

Time to start cooking and pre-making meals! Yay… (can you feel my sarcasm?)

Weight Lifting Progress!

So I have mentioned before that my boyfriend shared some information he learned in one of his Pre-Physical Therapy classes on how to get stronger. Do 3 sets of 5 reps at 90% of your max weight. Here are my results after 8 weeks:

5/22/12
Bench Press: 80 lbs.
Leg Press: 320 lbs.

7/17/12
Bench Press: 105 lbs.
Leg Press: 360 lbs.

I went up 25 lbs. in bench and 40 lbs. in leg press! RAWR! I definitely got stronger and I am living proof that this method works! My goal is to have two 45 plates on each side when I bench, which would be 135 lbs. So I have 30lbs more to go.

Ladies, I know you’re thinking “I don’t want to get bulky, so I’m going to stick with these 5 lb. weights and do a bajillion reps…” NO. NO NO NO. You will NOT get bulky at all. You will get toned, have more defined muscles, get stronger and look like this:

I would LOVE to look like this! So get out there, pick up those weights and lift, lift, LIFT!