Allergic to Exercise

Allergic to Exercise

Middle-Age-Moments-Blog-Fitness-with-PJ

Yes. This is real.

I am allergic to my job. Quite literally.

I have never written about this, or mentioned it during any of my YouTube workouts – which is surprising since I love to talk while filming. But, I’m allergic to my job and I could swell up like a blowfish, itch like a dog with fleas, and gulp for breath like I’m drowning, if the conditions are just right.

They call it Exercise-Induced Anaphylactic Shock. I call it inconvenient as hell.

But, let’s back up a bit.

When I was in grade seven my teacher was a long-distance runner. He loved to run,  he loved to brag about his ability to run, and in turn, he loved to torture us by making us run, too. And run we did. We ran around the school, we ran around the block, we ran in track meets, and we ran in cross country races. 

I was never fast and could usually be found dead last, or close to it. Being a chubby kid, addicted to chocolate bars and Dairy Queen, made it difficult to find my running legs, let alone an ability to be quick and nimble. 

But, I participated in all the races nonetheless. 

It was after one of those cross country races that I was in rougher shape than normal. I finished, but by the time I hit the finish line my face was swelling up, my body was on fire, and I was covered in hives.

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Being the youngest of four children my parents were done with the nurturing and worrying that comes with the firstborn. So, when we got home I was sent to have a warm bath and the episode was quickly forgotten.

Plus, things were handled differently back in the early ’80s. Those were the days that your seatbelt was your Mom or Dad throwing their arm across your body when they stopped suddenly. This was also the time when we played outside unsupervised, bicycled to school by ourselves (without helmets), drank from garden hoses, and became blood sisters’ with our best friend. 

In other words, parents did some shady shit when we were younger.

My reactions after races were getting worse, though. By the end of the fourth race, it was becoming apparent to my parents that warm baths were not the solution. This is when I ended up in the emergency room with the diagnosis of early-stages anaphylactic shock.

From there I was sent to an allergist who explained that I had a rare condition called Exercise-Induced Anaphylactic Shock.

This means if I combine exercising with certain foods (like carrots, lettuces, celery) I can go into anaphylactic shock. This is the same anaphylactic shock that people who are allergic to bees go into, except sub out “bees” and add “working out” for me – damn, did I pick the perfect career, or what?

As I got older not only was healthy food a trigger, but altitude and stress became an issue as well. The stress was usually in the form of my menstrual cycle or lack of sleep. Honest to God, I could eat a chocolate chip cookie, near sea level, go for a run and all would be fine. Give me a salad, though, on a mountain, while I had my period, and all hell could break loose.  

I don’t even need to be exercising hard either. Case in point – the time I ended up in the ER at Lake Tahoe. I had a small piece of papaya, walked to the lake and BOOM, one came on. Who knew papaya was so fucking evil?

_Middle-Age-Moments-Blog-Fitness-with-PJ-Anaphylactic-Shock

It’s embarrassing when I have an attack and I hate it when people make a fuss about it. Thankfully I know the signs well enough and when I start to feel one come on I pop a few Benadryl, rest, high five LH, and I’m good to go in an hour or so. 

When I decided to become a personal trainer I talked about it with my allergist and, while he wasn’t thrilled about the idea, he said he had confidence in me that I would figure this out.

And I have. 

Because the thought of not exercising never entered my brain. Even when I was that chunky, back-of-the-pack kid. I never thought about quitting.

I love exercising, and this has just been a minor speed bump along the way.

Getting older has actually helped as well (finally ONE perk to age). I don’t trigger as easily as I used to, and the experience has taught me that when you want something, you can always find a way. 

Now, when people tell me (jokingly) that they don’t exercise because they are allergic to it, I just smile and say “You too?”.

 

PJ ox

Last week’s blog “Detached Retinas”… read here.

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Allergic to Exercise

Getting Older and Detaching Retinas

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Over 40? You need to know this then.

Did you know that as we get older, the eye goo (technical term: the vitreous body) that fills the space between our lens and retina becomes less gel-like and condenses?

Neither did I, until I ended up in the ER because of it.

A few weeks ago, I had “flashing,” and “floaters” pop up in my right eye, which freaked me out because as the evening progressed, it got worse – so I asked LH to drive me to the ER.

This “ask” did not come easy, either. 

In my opinion, the Emergency Room is only for people who are bleeding profusely or are having a near-death experience. And FYI: your limb has to be severed to warrant an ER visit, too. Case in point, a few months I cut my finger badly, and while I should have gone for stitches, I instead opted for a bandage and duct tape. It worked like a hot damn.

But you don’t want shit happening with your eyes—a scar on your finger, no problem, that’s nothing to get stressed over. Your eyes, though, you don’t want to mess with your peepers.

So, off we went.

Once we arrived, LH had to stay in the car (due to COVID restrictions), and I sat my ass down in the hallway and waited for the doctor. I was bored out of my skull too. You see, my stupid eye would not allow me to use my phone, so the only entertainment I had was counting the ceiling tiles and eavesdropping on other people’s problems.

When the doctor finally arrived, I had to giggle. Because the first thing that popped into my head was, “Is he even old enough to drive?”. And while that’s not so funny, what is funny is my father said the same thing many years ago about HIS ER doctor. 

I guess we all eventually start sounding like our parents at some point. 

Once I confirmed that he was old enough to drive, drink and vote, I allowed him to check out my eye. Long story short, he couldn’t see anything dramatic, and they booked me an eye specialist appointment for further testing.

This was great news because my big sis, Karen, has had two detached retina’s and her symptoms were the same as mine. I messaged her to tell her the news, and she replied, now you can go to bed and not wake up blind. Empathy and sympathy run high in my family. 

A few days later, I ended up in the eye doctor’s chair to find out that I have Posterior Vitreous Detachment. When pressed as to how I got this, her reply was, posterior vitreous detachment is common during advanced age.

WTF? 

Getting older can cause this too?

Not only do we have to contend with ALL the other crap that happens when we are at an “advanced” age, but we are also more susceptible to our retina detaching?

That’s. Messed. Up.

Most people with vitreous detachment go back to normal after a few months, however, we do run the risk of retina detachment, so I’m to go back in a month for another eye exam.

The only good thing that came out of this was a yoga workout on YouTube. 😂

Between the ER visit and the eye doctor’s appointment, I wasn’t allowed to do anything strenuous. Still, I needed to film a workout for the channel, and a lot of people in the community have been asking for a yoga workout, so I thought, let’s make lemonade out of lemons, and I released one of my best yoga workouts to date. 

Moral of the story: don’t hesitate to go to ER if there’s weird stuff happening to you, and don’t ask to see your doctor’s driver’s licence to confirm their age. They don’t like that. 

 

PJ ox

Last week’s blog “Unwanted Hair”… read here.

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Allergic to Exercise

Unwanted Hair

Middle-Age-Moments-Blog-Fitness-with-PJ

Seriously… I have this to contend with now???

Let’s talk about hair.

And I’m not talking about long, flowing locks, or cute little pixie cuts. Nah, I’m talking about the hair found on the face, and to narrow it down even further – the unwanted hair found on the chin and neck.

While a boy may crave these things because they are a milestone towards manhood – a menopausal woman does not. Now, reaching menopause could be considered a milestone, the whole hair on the chin and neck experience, though, knocks it down quite a few notches on the list of “things I want when I am older”.

An electric SUV, a trip to Italy, and some damn good eye cream are what’s on my list of things I want in my mid-years. Not chin hairs.

But, here I am with chin hairs and one freaky neck hair.

I know my Greek and Italian readers are most likely shaking their heads at me because they remember their first chin hair, at age six, and I want you to know that I now feel your pain.

Middle-Age-Moments-Blog-Fitness-with-PJ-Unwanted-Hair

What mystifies me, though, are the growth patterns. Because they are not on the same growth pattern as the rest of the hair on my body.

Back in the day (when I was at the young tender age of 42) it took me about 4 years to grow my hair from pixie cut to past my bra strap. I have no idea why I wanted long hair, it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and past the bra strap was a good yardstick that helped me know exactly when I reached my goal.

When the time arrived, I kept it long for a few months and then promptly cut it all off again. I know, I too have a hard time keeping up with what makes me tick.

Anyway, the point I was making was that it took a long time for my hair to grow. Growing hair is a slow process, if you’ve ever done it before you know where I’m coming from, and you’re probably nodding your head right now. Because it’s slow, and I see my hair in the mirror every day, I never really grasped how long it actually was getting until I would run into someone who hadn’t seen me in a while. When this happened this is how the conversation went, each and every single time:

Them: OMG PJ!! Your hair is soooooo long now.

Me: Yes, I can’t afford a haircut.

At which point they would giggle nervously, with eyes darting for a quick escape route in case I was destitute and it was contagious. I’d just smile and not say a word. Let’s just say I enjoy mind f*cking with people sometimes.

Now, one would assume that all hair on the body would have the same rate of growth. Slow and steady. I, however, have discovered that it does not.

I have a neck hair, a weird-ass neck hair (I briefly mentioned him earlier. Hmmm…. is it weird that I refer to my neck hair by using a pronoun? And a male one at that?).

This neck hair (yes, only one) does not follow the normal biology of hair growth. You see every night I do the same thing. I wash my face, brush my teeth and then I apply my lotions and potions to my face and neck. And every night everything is copacetic. Until it’s not.

There it is. My neck hair… and it’s about three feet long. Last night no neck hair, tonight I could braid the f*cker if it had a partner.

A completely opposite experience from when I was growing the hair on my head. As mentioned earlier I never really knew my hair was long until I was told it was, my neck hair I know the moment I see it because it skips the whole slow, steady growth phase.

It goes from 0 to 100 in less than 24 hours and it baffles me every time.

In fact, my confusion was so deep that I actually asked my doctor about it at my last check-up. And you know what he said… he doesn’t know. He then went on to tell me why I am seeing more unwanted hair (changing hormones, age, blah, blah, blah), but he had no answer as to why my neck hair acts like it’s pumped up on amphetamines.

As a bit of a joke, I offered him my neck hair, you know for science. I’m not sure he got the joke, though, because he looked at me strangely and then politely turned me down.

So, what can a menopausal woman do with the unwanted chin hairs and the odd freaky neck hair?

There are lots you can do, but this menopausal woman simply does a scan every so often then pulls out her trusty ol’ tweezers.

 

PJ ox

BIKINI COMPETITIONS AND OTHER STUPID STUFF I DID… read here.

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Allergic to Exercise

Bikini Competitions In Your 40’s

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Bikini Competitions and Other Stupid Stuff I Did

 

I’m in an industry that rewards beauty, youth and rock-hard abs. The fit, the gorgeous, and the barely dressed get the likes and clicks, and I know this firsthand – cause I was one of those when I turned 45 (minus the youth).

You see at 45 years of age, I decided to enter a fitness bikini competition and I got myself the abs, the long hair, and the fake tan and I plastered those bloody images all over social media with cute little hashtags like #absaremadeinthekitchen, and #bikinicompetitor.

Whenever I posted those photos (see below) my likes were at least 25% higher than any other previous post. Because like I said above the internet recognizes the barely dressed. 

I’m not very proud of this time in my life. I thought I would be, but the truth of the matter is after the competition was over (and after I finished filling my face with wonderful glorious carbs) I was embarrassed.

 

I was embarrassed that I spent so many months working towards the one goal of trying to look good in a stupidly small, ridiculously over-priced, glittery bikini.

The only thing that makes me smile with pride is when I think about the stripper heels I had to wear and how I conquered those without a sprained ankle insight.

“Yay PJ, bravo girlfriend.”

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However, this was not the legacy I wanted to leave.

So, at 45 years of age, I started to grow up.

LH was pretty happy with this too. I guess I was a tad “challenging” to live with while on a restrictive diet with a two-a-day workout routine.

I don’t think this growth would have happened, though, if I didn’t do the competition. So one good thing did come out of not eating carbs for three months.

I also believe this change in mindset happens as we get closer to milestone birthdays, like in my case 50.

Now, flash forward five years later.

Below is a post I recently put on my Instagram feed of what my stomach really looks like versus how you can make a stomach look good with the right angle and pose (making a point 
that not everything we see on social media is always what it appears).

And this post is currently my top post on Instagram… ever.

It has the most engagement and the most likes including a whopping 450% increase from the post above in my stupid bikini.

So, I believe I hit a nerve, and that the women who follow me on Instagram feel the same way I do. 

PJ-Middle-Age-Moments-Blog-Fitness-with-PJ-Bikini-Competition

I guess getting older isn’t that bad. While I hate not being able to read the small print and the fact that I move slower than I used to, I do love the personal growth that age has helped me find.

I am happy I am leaving the baggage of my younger years behind me and that I am now a-okay with posting a photo of my meno-pot belly on Instagram… and that you were a-okay with it as well.

Thanks for being you.

PJ ox

WHEN YOU’RE THE OLDEST PERSON IN THE ROOM… read here.

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Allergic to Exercise

Over 40 and Sexy?

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Men Love Me Because of My… Shoe Size

No woman does NOT want to be found attractive by someone. Whether that’s by a man or a woman, I think I can safely say that most of us want to make someone’s heart flutter a bit when they see us.

This flutter can be because of our brains, or our beauty (or both), but we do want to have this effect on someone.

Some of us work on the exterior for this effect – makeup, hair, clothes. And some women couldn’t give a rat’s ass about those things. 

I have a friend who just rolls out of bed in the morning, brushes her teeth and away she goes. She doesn’t comb her hair, put on makeup, or hell even look in the mirror. She couldn’t care less and I, who took an eyelash curler with me when I backpacked for a week through the backcountry, am both horrified and envious of this attitude.

I also think that the exterior stuff starts to lose its power over us as we get older. We aren’t so hung up on good looks or trying to look a certain way anymore. While I’m not quite at the level my friend is at I am waaaaaaaay less maintenance now at 50 than I have ever been.

And what makes my heart flutter now compared to when I first met LH is a whole new ballgame too.

Middle-Age-Moments-Blog-Fitness-with-PJ-Larry

Thirty years ago when we started dating I loved his rear end, his ability to make me laugh, and the fact he had his own car. (Side note: previous to LH I only dated men who fit this set criteria: tall, dark, handsome, no steady job, and 9 times out of 10 was an asshole.).  


Twenty-year-old PJ fell in love with LH due to physical attraction (and more), while 50-year-old PJ loves LH because of many reasons with the top five being: he can fix shit, he vacuums, he still makes me laugh, he still owns his own car (haha), and we can sit in comfortable silence – anytime, any day.


I don’t care anymore about how his butt looks, I care more about what his latest blood pressure reading is.


What he’s wearing doesn’t concern me either, and I’ve even stopped being horrified every time he goes to the store with his old man slippers on (you know the kind – plaid top, hard sole).


LH claims he loves me as a whole package, while I think it’s because I’m the only one who remembers the wifi password and knows how to troubleshoot his email when there’s a glitch.


But what he does not care about are my shoes or my shoe size… while other men, strangely, do.


There are scores of female fitness YouTubers who captivate men because of their bodies, their hair, their face… I seem to captivate men because of my shoe size.


A few years ago I had one sad soul who messaged me on Facebook for almost a full year asking me about the runners I was wearing in whatever latest workout I released. He wanted to know all about them and what size I wore.


Bravo to him for hanging in there for almost a year because I never messaged back or even acknowledged that I received his DM’s (rule #1 – never engage). 


And just recently a new one popped on the YouTube feed who wanted to know what size shoes I wore. I had to shake my head. 


I don’t get bent out of shape with these comments, you can’t when you’re online. I find them funny – and in this instance, I found it EXTREMELY funny that my sex appeal starts (and ends) in a pair of 9.5’s.


I just chuckle and I move on.

 

PJ ox

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Allergic to Exercise

Oldest Person

Middle-Age-Moments-Blog-Fitness-with-PJ

Oldest One in the Room

“What’s it like? To be the oldest person here?”, she asked. 

Let me punch you in the throat, I think to myself when I look at her because it probably feels the same. 

This question was posed to me last summer when I attended (as a participant) a fitness class – where, as you guessed it, I was the oldest one there. 

It was the first time, in my 50 years on this planet, where I was the oldest person in the room. And I know this for a fact because I asked the one guy who I thought was at least my age or a few years older, and it turned out that he’s actually five years younger than me. I wish I could say I was also the wisest one there… but I will never be that, in any room, at any time, no matter what my age is.

But in this room, on this particular day, I was the oldest and I was surrounded by people who wouldn’t be able to sing the chorus of “2 Legit to 2 Quit” with me (and do the awesome hand moves to accompany said rhyme). They also probably never heard of Jack Palance let alone have seen his one-arm push-up feat on the Oscars – at age 73. And, this group would never get my jokes about dialling up for the internet either (When I was your age the internet went “Skaweeerurweeert”😆.). 

I was also in a room where I wasn’t the fastest.

And this was an eye-opener for me. 

You see, in the past, I’ve been accused of being competitive. I don’t think I am, I just prefer the view from the front of the pack that’s all, but here I was at mid-pack and sometimes at the back of the pack with my inside voice cheering my 50-year old ass on (which oddly enough sounds like Morgan Freeman). 

Now, where younger-PJ would have just about killed herself to be the fastest, 50-year old PJ, well… she didn’t care.

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This amazed me. This sense of “who gives a f*ck” as people were passing me. This was so unlike me.

Could this mean that I was evolving? Was I getting, dare I type it, more carefree with age?

LH says “thank God” that we are less inclined to keep up with those who are younger than us. He says life goes too fast and we need to slow down. 

When I point out that that is so “cliche”, he says there’s a reason it’s a cliche, it’s because LIFE DOES GO TOO FAST (his voice always goes up an octave when he has a point to be made). And now as we get older, he continues to tell me, we can finally get off the treadmill – he always uses fitness equipment metaphors with me because he knows that’s how you can hold my attention.

I think I agree with him… to a degree.

While I am totally a-okay with slowing down, I am not going to get off the treadmill entirely. Sure, I’ll bring the speed down a notch – but I’ll also add some incline to make up for the lost speed – because that’s how I roll. 

And if you’re wondering how I responded to the sweet twenty-something-year-old asking me how I felt about being the oldest in the room. Well, I kept it violence-free and smiled and told her that I could still kick her ass.

PJ ox

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