Biological Link Between Fatigue and Pain

Yes, I manged to re-injure an old injury again.

3rrjrh

While I’m not really ready to discuss it, or what we’re going to do on a longer term to “fix” it, I did notice I’ve been exhausted during the ordeal. I mean really, really tired.

So, I started to wonder if there was a connection between pain and fatigue. I know I was in so much pain I was sweating. So, I thought there might be something there.

Turns out, there is.

I did a lot of searching through the internet, and while WebMd and eMedicine agreed with me, I tend to be skeptical of these sites.

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I kept digging, and I learned suffers of arthritis have known this for years. I’m not suffering from anything as severe as arthritis, thank goodness, so more digging. And the internet delivered. I found an article from the University of Washington Medicine: Orthopedics and Sports Medicine that lists pain right below disease as a cause of fatigue.

I know how tired I was when I had a cold, which is nowhere near the level of disease they are discussing, but pain did make the list. So I feel like maybe there is some vindication and science behind what I’m experiencing.

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More digging led to me to an article written by the University of Iowa. It goes into why pain causes fatigue, and why men suffer less than women from it due to a protein involved in muscle pain and how it worked in conjunction with testosterone. As men have significantly more testosterone in their system, this reduced the pain they feel.

Of course it does. We get labor, and they get reduced pain. Where is the justice?!?

But I digress.

Sadly, while this all tells me what I’m going through is normal, it doesn’t give any insights in how to manage it.

At this point, I figure the best plan is to listen to my doctor (as my husband drilled into my head) and rest. Really listen to my body. Pain response evolved for a reason, and that reason is usually to tell us to knock off whatever we’re doing because it injured us, and now the body needs us to do a certain thing so it can heal.

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This thing is usually rest, and for me, keep that injured area immobile.

Which is so hard when there is always so much to do.

Before I can anything, thought, I have to heal. “I am not going to rush this. Really.” I repeat to myself over and over again.

After I do heal, I need to find someone that can help me build an exercise regime a middle-aged desk jockey who has some underlying medical issues can still do without injury.

And I will. I want to be healthy and live to be there for my kids and husband. I will find a way.

 

Have you ever found yourself really tired if you’re in pain? How did you handle it? If you’re in less than pristine condition and have a workout routine, how did you develop it?

 

Protein Powder – Fact and Wishful Thinking

I have taken up strength training, and as part of the process, the nutritional information I’ve been fed most of my life kicked in.

Ever since I took a class through my employer twenty years ago, people have been pushing protein powder post workout. Not just any protein powder, but whey protein.

Up until this point, I’d been diligently following what that original instructor told me. The books I’d bought on the subject reiterated everything he’d said.

Protein1
No, not Facebook. Just my blog.

I decided to check with science and see what the actual demonstrable results were.

This was harder than I thought.

I read through the WebMD articles, but there were no links to actual studies. No published results. Just an “expert” giving their opinion. I was surprised, though I probably shouldn’t be.

There is a lot of really good information here  if you are a really serious lifter. If you look past the images, you’ll see that the site is actually quite impressive. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. The articles I read there were all very well written and footnoted.

Yeah, the authors quote real studies. They think about those studies and what they mean for their target readers. Seriously good site. I wish I could find something similar for middle-aged desk-jockeys trying to dodge osteoporosis. Interestingly, this site assumes you are drinking a shake after workout and goes into which protein powders are best. But, these guys are hardcore lifters.

I am not. Middle-aged desk-jockey, remember?

So, WebMD’s site offered a different opinion than the “expert” that my company had paid to come talk to all of the employees, and a different opinion than that of devoted lifters. WebMD’s opinion had no scientific studies behind it, so I dug a little deeper.

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Opinions masquerading as facts permeate the web. Have to check your sources carefully.

 

I found this: Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training

It’s from the US National Library of Medicine. Yeah, that’s a respectable data source.  I tried to read this article, but I’ll confess, I ended up skipping down to the conclusion. That conclusion states that certain proteins, consumed pre or post workout, do, indeed, have an impact. Not only that, but for building muscle, whey protein really did have the best results.

Sometimes experience, as in the case of those weight lifters over at T-Nation, has taught us a thing or two.

Next question for me, however, is does what I do really constitute the level of exertion they are describing in the study.

Probably not. I’m a desk-jockey by day and romance writer by night. Yes, I’m strength training, but I’m not really “weight lifting”. Especially not like the guys a T-Nation. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m in awe. Especially after enduring my version of strength training. That’s serious dedication and pain over there that I’ll never have.

That’s okay. My goals are different. I’ll never be ripped, but I am looking to be able to stay mobile as I age and fend off osteoporosis which is a big deal in my family, especially for desk-jockeys.

As of right now, I am still using the powder after each workout.

Protein3
Although, first I have to get the scoop out. Why doesn’t it attach to the lid?!?

Not because I think it’ll help me build more muscle, but because of a less talked about side effect.

Faster recovery.

I’d love to link to a quality study on this, but for all of the websites that talk about faster recovery, none of them actually link to any studies that prove it. *sigh*

What I do have is my own experience. Maybe it’s placebo (the brain is powerful that way), or maybe it’s real, but lots of people who do much harder workouts than mine swear it helps get rid of jelly legs faster. Lemme tell ya, I’ll do a lot to get rid of jelly legs and drinking something that tastes like chocolate milk is not a hardship.

So, for the moment, I’m willing to let my quest for the truth rest and drink my protein shake after working out. Maybe it helps, maybe it’s all in my head, but for the moment, I don’t see any reason not to indulge a placebo. And, they whey protein I found on Amazon tastes like chocolate milk.

 

How about you? Do you strength train, and if so, do you drink a protein shake afterwards? Why or why not? Any other post-workout tips to reduce jelly legs or just the general aches and pains?

Brain Went on Summer Vacation

A week before vacation, my brain and body decided they were already there. I struggled to motivate myself on my WIP, and my exercising regime became sporadic.

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I enjoyed the week I was off of work, but it’s now a full week after returning from vacation, and I’m still not back in my groove.

Perhaps it’s the summer doldrums. Our months-with-snow are usually longer than our months-without-snow. My daytime gig as a desk jockey is usually quieter in the summer months before we gear up for budgeting. Right after budgeting, we face a new fiscal year, and things get even more hectic.

So, yeah, summer is a good time to relax, take a deep breath, and get ready to face the challenges.

So, after three weeks, why am I not facing those challenges?

Maybe I’ve hit a snag with my current WIP.

The piece I’ve been working on for over a year is at the point that I actually have to send my baby out into the world and face the cruel rejections coming. I truly dread this.

Maybe I’ve been pushing hard for a while and I need a break. A longer break. Burn out is very real.

Maybe I don’t really know what motivates me, so I struggle to stay motivated.

I’ve adjusted my word count requirements to reasonable levels, but there’s more to it. I just don’t know what that more is.

As far as exercising goes, I suppose this is the epic uphill battle you face when you hate exercising. When it’s always a chore rather than something you look forward to doing. Not sure how to fix that, either.

Time to do some thinking. To analyze what’s going through my brain and why my motivation has evaporated into procrastination. Science may help with this, or it may just be I have to figure things out for myself.

Maybe inspiration will come and get me.

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What do you do to rekindle motivation, especially if it’s something you know you need to do rather than want to do? Any tips or tricks you use to escape the procrastination beast?

 

Happily-Ever-After According to Science

Why do some marriages work and others don’t? Why do some people stay in a bad marriage, while others will leave a relatively good marriage?

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I hated Romeo and Juliet anyway.

Some will say love. Romance. Soul mates. On the more mundane and practical side, people will say shared interests, beliefs and goals.

As a romance writer and reader, you often see the story end at the point where the characters are married and are now expected to live happily-ever-after. Or, maybe this particular trope is one where they’re forced to marry because of plot reasons, but by the end of the story, they confess their love for each other and then live happily-ever-after.

Either way, we end with the characters in love and ready for their happily-ever-after ending.

In the real world, more marriage will end in divorce than be successful. At least in America they will.

Yeah, not very romance-writer of me to mention that, I know. But, if I want to give my characters a believable happily-ever-after, I need to understand what leads to that happily-ever-after. What makes some marriages work?

mar2
No, no, no, no, no!

 

Well, science has an explanation on why some marriages work and some don’t. It’s called Interdependence Theory.

Interdependence Theory states the following.

Rewards – there are rewards from marriage (or any social interaction). These can range from companionship to physical intimacy. Interdependence theory has defined them as the following:

  • Emotional – Positive and negative feelings in a relationship. These are especially important in a close relationship. Ah, here we’re getting to where love comes into play. See, you knew I was a romance writer!
  • Social – Or how you appear to others. Does being seen with a super model make you feel better about yourself? What about with a stripper? What other social repercussions are there from the relationship? Perhaps you have to attend a lot of operas, and you love opera. But what if you hate opera?
  • Instrumental – These rewards are achieved when a partner is proficient at handling tasks. Like mowing the lawn, building the kids a tree fort, or doing the laundry without anyone getting stuck with pink socks (true story).

Costs – there are costs to a relationship as well. Basically, for all of the different types of rewards (emotional, social or instrumental), there is a corresponding cost. So, just like there are emotional, social and instrumental rewards, there are emotional, social, and instrumental costs. Makes sense.

So, DH putting up with my annoying habit of leaving my shoes by the sofa where I kick them off every night would be an example of an instrumental cost my husband has to pay regardless of how many times I’ve promised I’d be better about it. Or going to the annual corporate party for my employer would be a social cost. Sorry honey!

Rewards Minus Costs  Should Be Positive – Yeah, not very romantic, is it? Sounds more like I’m building a profit and loss statement than writing a romance novel.

Yes, I’m sure I’m a romance writer. But science is seldom romantic.

However unpleasant it may sound, research has shown that humans keep a record, whether consciously or not, of the net value of a relationship to us. So, you’re in a “profitable” relationship if the rewards outweigh the costs. But, this still isn’t enough to keep people in a relationship. They have to be making “enough” profit. Kind of like when you invest in your 401(k) account. You only have so much money, so you want to select the investments that will net you the most profit for the time you have them invested.

Comparison / Opportunity Cost – Once someone has tallied up their total relationship rewards and costs, they will either consciously or subconsciously review their other options. Even if they are net positive, in their account isn’t earning as much as they think it should, they are more likely to end the relationship and look for another. This may explain all of the Hollywood break-ups.

 

Okay, so now that we know this, how can we apply the science to making a romance novel earn its happily-ever-after?

mar3
Not the response I’m looking for, though I may have said it about a romance novel or three.

 

I want my happily-ever-afters to be believable. So, here are a couple of ways I can use the Interdependence Theory to make it believable:

1.No Alpha-Holes – A strong male lead could provide a lot of rewards on the instrumental level. He gets stuff done. But even if a heroine loves him, the emotional and social costs of dealing with him are going to be extremely high. Toning him back so he’s still an alpha without being a jerk would help a lot.

2. No Porcelain Dolls – Both characters in the romance have to be active. If either can basically be put on the shelf while the other does all the heavy lifting, you’re going to have a relationship with very high instrumental costs. No matter how much you love someone, if they can’t figure out how to open the refrigerator and get themselves a soda, you’re going to get pretty ticked at them after a while.

3. Opposites Might Not Attract – The whole wallflower with a super outgoing character trope might not end well. If the wallflower really doesn’t like much social interaction, but the extrovert loves it, there is going to be a high social cost to the relationship. Unless, of course, one or the other is the way they are to mask their true personality. The extrovert who actually hates all the parties etc.

 

What do you think? Does interdependence theory hold water in your book? Think it’s bunk? If so why or why not? Any other way that it could be used in writing to give believable happily-ever-afters?