muscle atrophy is real, y’all

I learned something today that I should already be well-versed in: muscle atrophy is a real thing. I should know this from all the P.E. classes I had to take in the public school system. I should know this from my brother’s broken wrist when we were kids. I should know this from my emaciated left leg post-ACL reconstructive surgery. But somehow, I failed to realize how legitimately disabling it can be even without traumatic injury as its impetus.

I decided that instead of taking four days off from my workout regimen while doing the couch to 5k training, I should still keep active on my “off’ days. I have a wonderful free gym at work and there is no reason I shouldn’t attempt to do a little something active four or five times a week. I don’t want to do anything too strenuous on those days (which is tough because I’m of the “no pain, no gain” mindset) but I need to be careful to not worsen any soreness before my three running days per week. So! I decided to do a tiny bit of cardio today (just 20 minutes on the recumbent bike) and something I haven’t done in quite a while…weights.

I’ve noticed in recent months that push-ups are damn near impossible for me. I figured this was due to the weight I’ve gained in recent years and it never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, my sedentary life has wasted my muscles away. I was able to do lat pull down no problem, and then I waltzed over to the free weights and picked up two 10 lb dumbbells. I used to own 10 lb dumbbells and did all sorts of arm exercises with them. Today, I could barely get through three sets of 10 bicep curls. What the everloving hell? I have never struggled with 10 lb weights before. And after that near-failure, I was afraid to do anything else because I strained my neck a little bit and I didn’t want to do any more damage. Yikes! I called my boyfriend when I left the gym and told him to stop the presses because muscle atrophy is legit.

I’ve always heard that muscle atrophy is sort of a death sentence. There’s sort of a “use it or lose it” mentality. I always heard that once your muscle is gone, there’s no getting it back. I stumbled upon this, which sounds a wee bit more optimistic than that…

Disuse atrophy occurs from a lack of physical exercise. In most people, muscle atrophy is caused by not using the muscles enough. People with sedentary jobs, medical conditions that limit their movement, or decreased activity levels can lose muscle tone and develop atrophy. This type of atrophy can be reversed with vigorous exercise or better nutrition.

So I guess it’s settled. On my “off’ days, I will attempt to whip my arms back into shape. How did things escalate to this point? I’m so glad I’ve decided to start taking responsibility for my health. I feel worlds better already and it’s only week 2.

No food updates today. I attempted to make vegan pesto for the second time (a different recipe) and was again disappointed. Wah. I used to love pesto and I am just not having any luck with making my own. Any good vegan pesto recipes floating around in the blogosphere?

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5 thoughts on “muscle atrophy is real, y’all

  1. Ok, I’m officially scared now. I need to get my butt back into shape. I love your continued motivation.

    And pesto recipes….I have trouble with pesto. I’ve tried making some with cashews and it came out too clingy and chunky. The best I think I’ve ever made is with pine nuts but those are $$$$$$$$ !

    Let me know if you find a good one.

    • Ugh, I know. Nuts in general are pricey. The pesto I tried tonight nixed the nuts completely–it was a creamy pesto and just didn’t. taste. good. It makes me very sad. 😦 don’t let me scare you, btw! I legit hadn’t been active in FOR. EVER. until recently. I’m sure you’re much better off than me!

  2. Kinenchen says:

    Oh no! I’ve been trying to make saag for ages and keep having to throw it out because it doesn’t taste right… or good. It’s very disheartening. What improvement would you make on the pesto recipe you tried? I grow my own basil. If you’ve got a sunny window it’s easy. Maybe that would make better pesto even if the recipe is mediocre? I also find a 50/50 mix of pecans and walnuts in silken tofu has a good balance of flavor but my palate is not particularly sophisticated. :/

    Anywho… no worries about atrophy. As long as you stay motivated you’ll be able to get where you want to go in terms of physical fitness. You got this.

    • I don’t know what it is about the pestos I’ve tried, something just isn’t tasting right. I might be using too much basil. There is a (non vegan) brand I used to by in the fridge section of the grocery store that for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of. It was pretty pricey and high in fat but delicious! I just want my pesto to taste 70% as good as that. 😦 Or 70% as good as the pesto they use in Pesto Cavatappi at Noodles & Co. These are my only two points of pesto reference, haha.

  3. […] with 10 lb weights. I wrote about how challenging the bicep curls were and the total legitimacy of muscle atrophy and then went on my merry way. I felt totally fine yesterday–no soreness, no […]

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