Monday, November 4, 2013

Chill'n out and doing some focused strength exercises

Since the crash in August I've been keeping it pretty low key. Not that I've had much of a choice, between a wicked concussion that kept me off the bike for about 6 weeks, and then realizing just how badly I'd messed up my knee once I was back on the bike. I've also continued to have some lingering Crohn's related ick. So, I'm continuing to ride it out, and try to enjoy the time I can get out on the open road even if it's at an easy pace.

The benefit of the easier pace is that I get to spend time with our newest riders on the Yale team. And, I must say, I do love helping folks master cycling skills like pacelining, cornering, and climbing hills! Getting to see the huge gains in confidence and the satisfaction of mastering a new skill is so satisfying.

40 degrees and sunny in New Haven! 

Plus, it's fall. And autumn riding means we are back to base miles anyway, so my easy pace is right on target.

I've also been taking the time to work on some other stuff while I've been in the saddle less.

The problem areas:

- Core strength: I have terrible core strength, which is likely because I have trouble with ab spasms on my ostomy side if I do much direct core work like sit ups.

- Medial leg strength: It's easy in cycling to work only the front and back muscles, as we have no side to side movement.

- Gluteus Medius strength: Yep, that's the muscles on the side of my butt. A lot of cyclists have  this issue. Have you ever seen a competitive cyclist on a bike and noticed that the side of his butt looked almost indented? That's the gluteus medius underdeveloped. And, according to my physical therapist friend (it was a strange night of casual consults and laughing about it), mine are sincerely lacking.  She said that my "massively hypertrophied hamstrings" had been doing all the work instead.

The remedy: 

- planks! Oh man, I am terrible at these. But, I'm making myself do at least 5 sets of holding it for 30 seconds with keeping good form before bed every night.

- Spider-mans: 2 sets of ten. From a plank-like position with your arms straight, bring one knee out to the side and touch it to your elbow. Then bring it back together with your other leg. Now do the same on the other side. This should make you side ab and back muscles burn.

- cross training: and by this, I mean cyclocross training. Yes. Running, leaping onto a built up road bike with knobby tires, and then jumping over barriers and roots. It's good for building stability in all of those other little muscles that don't get used in just moving forward. Still not sure what cyclocross is? Check it out:

- Actually cross training: Really, not bicycling. Walking vigourously while focusing on form - ie, not compensating for my lack of gluteus medius muscles by using just legs. It's suprisingly difficult to focus on using butt muscles while walking. Try it.

- Thigh master like it's 1992: Just kidding. But, same idea, squeezing a soccer ball between my knees while doing a slightly more upright wall sit. This targets the muscle groups on the inside of the thighs without activating the larger quad group.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Awestomy Wrap Review

About a month and a half ago I got a new wrap from Awestomy, a new company that makes ostomy undergarments, and I have been meaning to write a review since then.

Beyond a review, I also wanted to talk a bit about what the deal is with wraps. I'm usually pretty amazed that so far none of my GI docs have ever seen a patient wearing one before, and no ostomy nurses I've encountered have had any idea such a thing existed! No wonder there are so many folks out there stressing out about what to do with their pouch as they go about life! No, you don't have to have it flopping about, or hanging outside of your clothing, as I've seen many a question on facebook groups and message boards. Tucking it in to a wrap helps keep you discrete and helps smooth out any contents. I'm honestly not sure how I'd function if I didn't have wraps to keep the pouch secure, and I can gaurantee that my wear time would be less due to the weight of the bag pulling on the adhesive. This is one of those product types (like Skin-Tac) that was a game changer for me, when I found the website years ago.

These ostomy specific wraps are different than a simple tube top, which you could wear around your waist just as easily, in that they have two inside pockets on the right and left side. This keeps your bag from resting against your skin, where the edges can be irritating and in warmer weather the plastic makes for a sweaty time. The pockets are on both sides so as to work for folks with an ostomy in either (or both!) location.

Personally, I'm a minimalist. I don't like having to fiddle with zippers, or velcro or other elaborate contraptions to empty, and I hate wearing any more clothing than I need to (no wonder I love cycling!). I also don't like the constricting effect of standard, old fashioned, elastic ostomy straps. I like wraps for their simplicity and freedom of movement, as well as low profile under a t-shirt or dress shirt. In the past I've had wraps from, and those are still the majority of my collection.

1. The wraps from are different in that the top is a bit higher and they have a silicon band around the top seam so it will not scoot itself down during activity such as running, biking, etc. For activity this is super nice, since repositioning a wrap mid-run is always a bit awkward.

2. The silicon band and higher waist ensure that the top crest of the pouch doesn't peak out over the top of the wrap, which was ever so slightly the case with the wraps. This is a nice features if I know I'll be changing in public (not that I care either way or have ever been shy!), running around topless, swimming, etc.

3. They come in more colors than white and black! I'm a fan of the grey and argyle.

4. The material is soft enough to be comfortable all day long, and the seams don't rub.

5. Customer service is awesome. I custom ordered a 27 inch waist size, and they were happy to oblige, despite that not being one of the standard sizes available. And, the size seems to be pretty spot on (note, I did order it a hair big due to my anticipated issue with the band, in case you were looking at the photo and thinking "that doesn't look tight at all"). Nice work, guys.

1.  I will confess that the silicon band does make it slightly harder to access the pouch and empty it - a very minor inconvenience, and I suppose I'm just fussy or lazy.

2. The band does make you aware that you are wearing something around your waist, not uncomfortable but aware, much in the same way that a loose elastic band on your wrist feels present but not uncomfortable. Again, maybe I'm just inordinately fussy, especially for somebody who spends a lot of time wearing spandex.

3. Finally, why no neon colors, guys?! Don't you know pink is the new blue for men in 2013?! Yet, these are all minor complaints, very minor complaints.

The verdict: Awestomy is awesome. The pros of having a wrap with a higher top and a silicon band to keep it in place outweigh the cons, and you can't have one without the other for this feature. Hot pink, or maybe some electric green (?), would make my day. Zebra print would also be sufficiently loud. But, I'll settle for ordering another grey one for now! Thanks for making such great products, Awestomy! I'm not sure what I'd do without such creative folks out there looking out for their fellow ostomates!