Tag Archive | finding balance

50 Races by my 50th Birthday

I am back in training mode because, let’s face it, I’m crazy. I also committed to finishing 50 races by my 50th birthday which means I have 20 months to finish 12 races. I can do this. Right? And because I’m back in training mode, I thought It would be fun to share what it was like for me to run my latest race. And what I learned from it.

I trained incredibly hard for the Disney Half Marathon this past September. For twelve weeks, my entire life revolved around my running schedule and my every free thought was wrapped up in routes, nutrition and pain. Lots of pain. And after two years of health issues and a pretty serious fall about three months before my race (separated shoulder, mild concussion and cracked rib), I was ready.

The night before the race, we had a pasta dinner (gluten free for me) and then reflected at the start and finish lines to get ourselves in “the zone.” Then it was back to the hotel to set our things out and settle in for an early night of slumber. Now, I have to ask who really sleeps the night before a big race? Because my mind was all over the place. And did I mention how HOT it was? Good God we were in for a tortuous run.

The alarm went off at 2 a.m. and it was time to load up on the body glide, tape up my shoulder and don my race attire, only to find I had pinned my bib all the way through my shirt. With bib re-pinned, I double and triple checked my pockets, made sure I had my nutrition, ear buds, ID, etc., I forced myself to eat my pre-race breakfast and out the door we went. 3:00 a.m., 80 degrees outside and 70% humidity. WHAT? What the Hell were we thinking? We arrived at Disneyland only to discover there was a yellow flag warning and folks with health issues were encouraged to back out of the race. I am now of course, a bundle of nerves and have to pee every few minutes “I don’t have to pee. I don’t have to pee. I DON’T have to pee…” Perhaps if I say it enough times, I will convince myself that I don’t have to pee. Of course at this point I’m now questioning my training over the last few months and whether or not I will make it to the finish or be swept. Why the Hell is it so hot? Can I do this? Why did I think I could do this? And then the National Anthem plays and we all sing it together. What a beautiful moment. And then the realization hits that this is it. The moment we all trained so hard for. And, we are off.

As we run out of the safe confines of Disney and head out onto the open road, I notice the first of a many ambulances. It has barely been three miles and people are already dropping like flies. Did I mention how hot it was?! At this point there isn’t much to look at because Anaheim isn’t really that much to look at and it’s all mind games at this point. Although I am thankful for the kind souls who lined the race with their creative signs such as “Smile, remember you PAID to do this.” Yup, it takes a special kind of crazy to run 13.1 miles for FUN after paying $200 to do so! (And just so you know, I was having this EXACT conversation in my head as I was running.) As I approach mile 8, I’m fairly certain I cannot go any further. My fingers are so swollen, they are like sausages and I cannot bend them. I’m tired and feel overwhelmed by the heat and my feet hurt and I start pouring water over myself at each water station because I’m so miserable and it’s so hot.  I’m also bargaining with myself at this point and making myself promises in the event I actually survive this stupid race that I actually paid to run. And in that moment the race flag is changed from a yellow flag to a red flag warning. UGH. The game has changed. Now it’s all about survival.

We enter Angel Stadium and the sheer cool factor of running out onto the field makes up for the misery I’m feeling at this point. I run around the stadium high-fiving every spectator I pass in the hopes their positive energy will somehow enter my body and give me the boost I need. And, you know what? It worked! For a while. We run out of the stadium and through the parking lot down the street and see this giant overpass looming up ahead, in direct sunlight no less. And another person collapses. For a brief second I wondered (hoped?) perhaps it was me who collapsed and I was having an out of body experience. No such luck. And so I push on.

Mile 11. This is about the time I started crying. Yes, I actually started crying. It was hot, I was miserable, I couldn’t bend my fingers, I didn’t want to run ever again and I still had 2.1 miles to go. So close and yet so far. Some random woman in the crowd beckoned to me and held up one of those cooling neck rags to give me. At first I wondered why I was being singled out, but if I looked as bad as I felt, there was my reason. God bless her. That and the ice she poured into my bra was what got me and all my delirious glory to mile 12.

Mile 12.  I can see Disneyland. I mean, I can see actually see it. I’m close. Only 1.1 miles to go. OMG. I still have 1.1 miles to go… This race is never going to end. There is a saying that the longest mile in a race is the last .1 miles. Do you want to know why? Because at that point you are wondering where the HELL is the finish line. Because you want to finish strong (ok, who am I kidding at this point. I just want to finish upright) and so you need to be able to conserve your energy for that last sprint to the finish line. I was in such a fog, I didn’t even realize I had crossed the finish line until I did. So much for my happy finish photo. Let’s just say my photo looks pretty much like I’m sure you are imagining at this point. But no matter. I finished. I pushed through the heat and the tears and the pain and I FINISHED!

This race was not the best run of my life. It wasn’t even in the top ten. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is I believed in myself and accomplished something not everyone can do healthy, much less with the health issues I have. I learned that we all have so much more inside of us than we think. That even when my body is begging to stop, to be strong and reach deep down and fight. But, most importantly this race taught me not what I am capable of. It taught me to believe that I AM capable.

And as I walked to the medical tent to ice my shoulder, I smiled and began to plan my next races. Because there will be more. Twelve more to be exact.

 

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The Day the Music Died

While I normally post about food and exercise and dealing with an autoimmune disease, yesterday was such a profound day of loss, I had to switch gears a little just this once and I hope that’s ok.

Yesterday was a sad day. The day the music died. I was trying to put into words why I was hit so hard by Tom Petty’s death or by the shooting in Las Vegas. I mean, I never met Tom but his music was with me most of my life and his music carried me through and defined moments in my life. So many memories… And to see him in concert was pure magic. And I didn’t know anyone at the concert in Vegas. And yet it was a tragedy that hit us as a nation hard. And I mourn. We all mourn. As a nation, and as fans.

I awoke this morning feeling the world off-kilter because life is forever changed. And for me, this is yet one more sad change in a sea of change – one more thing, one more person, one more change to mourn. So last night was one of wine and Tom Petty songs and Las Vegas news as we worked through our grief.

Today my world, OUR world is a little darker. We mourn and we weep. And we wonder why. And there are no answers. No right or wrong way to feel. In this moment of time we must be especially kind to one another. Yesterday there was such love in action. Strangers caring for strangers, sharing grief. Loving one another. We must continue to help each other through. Give blood, give of your time and your treasure. Be there for others. Share stories and remember. Most importantly, we must continue to enjoy and experience and share music with others. To not be afraid to congregate in a large group and do just that. And so, I end this with my favorite Tom Petty song:

Alright for Now
Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love
May God watch over you from above
Tomorrow I’m workin’ what would I do
I’d be lost and lonely if not for you

So close your eyes
We’re alright for now

I’ve spent my life travelin’
Spent my life free
I could not repay all you’ve done for me

So sleep tight baby
Unfurrow your brow
And know I love you
We’re alright for now
We’re alright for now

 

A Happy Anniversary to Me and My Blog!

It has been one year since I started this blog. Amazing how time flies! Because of the health issues I’ve experienced and how I learned to cope and heal, I felt the need to help others. To share what I learned and not only be an inspiration to others but a resource as well. And I hope I have done just that.

I remember being handed information as to what to eat and not eat to manage my illness and I felt lost and overwhelmed. Thankfully I’m ever the planner and did a lot of research on how to eat this way – especially when my diet was very restricted. But I felt so alone on my journey. And it’s not that I didn’t have the support of my family and friends. But unless you’ve been there. Truly been there, you don’t know. You can still eat like a normal person. You can choose to eat the way I do or not. I don’t have that luxury. I mean, I can choose to ignore the plan but the consequences for me are serious.

What have I learned/done this past year?

1 –  I LOVE trying new recipies. I’ve continued to follow Against all Grain but I’ve also discovered resources such as the Whole30, Nom Nom Paleo, Physicalkitchness, Iheartumami and countless others. I follow them religiously and love their recipes and encouragement. I also just finished reading The Wahl’s Protocol and am having fun incorporating what I learned into my diet. Yes, this CAN be done!

2 – I’ve discovered a love for things such as my instant pot and spiralizer and the importance of having the right tools for the job. Unfortunately I have a love for all things kitchen-related. But these tools I’m addicted to are used often and loved. I did NOT blow up my house with the instant pot as I feared last year. Instead it has cut my Sunday prep time in half. And Kitchenaid mixer and all your attachments, where have you been all my life?

3 – Organization is key! Each week I sit down and plan my meals. ALL of my meals for each day of the week. By planning and shopping accordingly, we do not have food waste in our house. One meal turns into the next and last night’s dinner can become tomorrow’s lunch or even breakfast. And when all else fails and I’m tired at the end of the day, we have “clean out the fridge” night and I put an egg on it! Those dinner bowls with a fried egg on top have become some of my favorite meals.

4 – This isn’t always easy but that’s ok. I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. And a minor setback is just that.

5 – I rediscovered my love for running. It keeps my mind clear and my body active. I was told, because of my RA, I needed to stop running. I was devastated and then came across this wonderful support group  of people with RA WHO STILL RUN!! They inspire me. We inspire and support one another. They were one of my lifelines and I’m forever grateful. In this past year I’ve run countless 5k’s, two 10 k’s, a 12k and a half marathon. I mentored a running group and ran through illness, arthritic pain, a cracked rib and a separated shoulder. I ran when I was happy, angry or sad. I always say my integrative doctor saved my life two years ago but this past year it was running that saved me. Find what activity makes you happy and DO IT! Movement is so important. Especially for something as debilitating as RA and fibromyalgia. My body used to be so stiff and it hurt to the touch. I’m not saying I don’t still have those days but they are few and far between because I stay in motion.

6 – I’ve learned patience with myself. And to accept and love myself as I am. This past year I finally learned that what others think doesn’t matter. What counts is how I feel about myself. That I’m strong and capable and can do anything I set my mind to. I’m my own damn superhero! And you can be as well. Positive self talk and a positive attitude are everything!

7 – Real food, HEALTHY food tastes good. Paleo, along with my other food limitations doesn’t mean eating styrofoam. We eat a balanced, healthy diet that was created for me to remove inflammation from my body and keep my immune system intact. Everything tastes AMAZING! And most of the time, my family doesn’t realize they are eating “healthy.”

8 – Thanks to three very special people in my life (all colleagues and dear friends), I rediscovered my faith. I spent so much time being angry. I kept saying Why me,  It’s not fair. And then one day it all clicked. I realized I wasn’t being punished. That there maybe was a reason to all of this and I was meant to help people. I went from being unable to pray to being so incredibly thankful for the many gifts in my life, including my life. It was in that moment of clarity I decided to create this blog. That my purpose was to help others struggling with their health. To provide the love and support that was shown me.

Life is this crazy journey of ups and downs and even sideways. And it’s what we learn from those moments that count. There will be failures but so many more gifts and successes than not. I’ve discovered my voice and that people want to hear what I have to say. That you CAN change the course of your health by eating deliberately. I’m living proof. I’m alive because of those changes.

I thank all of you for your love and support of my blog. This year has been a journey and a HUGE learning curve for me, and it continues to be. But it has been a gift and a joy to share my life with you. I don’t know what’s next but I do know I want to continue to teach and inspire people. The how and what I haven’t yet quite figured out. So until I do, I will continue to write and share and encourage because eating to change your health is something I feel strongly about. And a happy anniversary to me and my blog. And remember, if I CAN do it, so CAN you!

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I’ve Lost the Will to Live…

I’ve lost the will to live… that’s what I told myself at mile 7 of my 9 mile run last week. I was so wiped out, I pondered Ubering home but then my inner stubbornness kicked in and I finished my run.  Today was mile 10 day. I felt great the ENTIRE run. No willing myself to die this time. Why the huge difference, I asked myself.  The difference is routine,  consistency and discipline. I allowed myself to fall out of routine and THAT was the game changer.

When training for a big race or just eating Paleo in general, routine and discipline is key.  It’s important you eat right – natural, healthy food that will fuel your body. You must stay hydrated. And I’m not talking the night before your big workout. Daily Hydration helps your body function properly, it flushes the toxins out of your body, it also gives you good skin. For those of you looking for the fountain of youth or who ask why I have such a nice complextion, I’ll tell ya that fountain of youth is no further than the water on your refrigerator door, faucet, etc. Limit your alcohol consumption or cut it completely. I promise you will survive; a glass of sparkling water with lime is just as refreshing. Lastly, make sure you are getting enough sleep and also allow your body time to rest. Rest days are built into a training program for a reason. And if you are injured, for Pete’s sake, allow your body to heal (yes I hear your groans friends and family…). I don’t always follow this. I’m recovering from a cracked rib and separated shoulder and am currently only allowed to walk/run until I’m fully rehabbed. And you know what? My pace has decreased because I’m allowing my body to heal!! Allow your body to heal. It will thank you.

Every run/workout is different. You will have good days and bad ones. But you can increase your odds of good workouts by taking care of your body. After all, it’s the only one you’ve got.

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The Prednizone

Nope, not a typo. I’ve entered back into The Prednizone. Third day in and I’m exhausted. I haven’t slept in two days, I’m cranky and just so darn tired my eyes hurt. But I have to power through a few more days of this hell . Why did I give in and let them prescribe this to me? Well, it’s keeping me out of the hospital. That’s why. There will be times I must have a prednisone burst because of my asthma and ABPA, and this is just one of those times.

So, because I’m so wiped out from this trying to breathe thing, I’m making very simple meals, one that flows into another. Quick and not energy zapping. I bought cauliflower and sweet potato rice this week and have used it for breakfasts and dinners: under fried eggs, under a Hawaiian chicken patty and added to other leftovers. A little pop of color and it tastes great. We don’t waste food here so one meal is just repurposed into the next. Even breakfast can become a sweet potato and some leftover pulled pork with avocado. It’s using what you have and yet being creative. Last night, I took a sweet potato and then covered it with leftovers consisting of broccoli,  riced cauliflower and sweet potato, ham and apple sausage and then drizzled my dairy free ranch over the top; a simple meal that was pretty to look at and yet quick and filling.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. I do all my prep work on Sundays so the rest of the week is a breeze. Heat and eat. And by repurposing leftovers, you are keeping things interesting and also not wasting food.  The key is to prep things on Sunday which can be worked together during the week.

My ranch dressing recipe:

1/4 cup avocado mayo

about three tablespoons of coconut milk or enough to get a ranch dressing consistency

1/4 tsp celery salt

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 -1 tsp dried dill (I like lots of dill)

small pinch of salt and pepper

mix until the consistency is smooth and this will last a week in your fridge.

Another tip is to take that small amount of   Dijon mustard you are about to throw away and add a little champagne vinegar and honey. Shake well and you have a nice vinegrette. Again, no waste.

Once you get the hang of repurposing meals, it gets easier. Honest. And if I can do it, so can you. So, what are you batch cooking this week and how will you turn those varied leftovers into meals?

Signing out from the Prednizone. Maybe I’ll get a nap today. Oh, who am I kidding?

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Asthma and emotions/stress

The declining health of a parent, the anniversary of the death of a loved one, work stress…  All things out of our control and yet things which affect us emotionally.  All things which may make it hard to eat, to sleep, to concentrate.  Well when you have asthma, stress can affect your breathing. Stress is the enemy to asthma and anyone who has asthma needs to learn how to manage stress.  And it’s hard.

Believe me. I sit here typing after having my third breathing treatment of the day.  I was up all night unable to breathe.  I started coughing until I gagged and vomited.  Awesome, right?  And why?  Because rather than keeping my stress in check, I let it fester and grow until it made me physically sick.

I talk about food and health and how important it is to eat healthy to stay healthy.  But emotional health is important too.  I shared this with a student the other day who was very stressed.  I told him to find a time in his day to regroup and breathe.  And normally, I follow my own advice. There’s always time in your day.  ALWAYS!  Find something that calms you and make time for that. Go for a run, listen to music, go outside for fresh air.  Remove yourself from the situation.  Don’t let the small things become big things. Talk to a friend or loved one.  Whatever it is that works for you, do that.  Because nothing is more important than your health. Nothing. As for me, worrying won’t make my mom better or bring my loved one back or make that colleague any easier to work with.

If you have asthma, I challenge you to find small ways in which to work on handling the stress in your life.  When I actually practice what I preach, my asthma stays in check. I saw the warning signs but I refused to stop and listen.  I’ve been using my emergency inhaler so much the prescription I filled on April 4 is already empty and I can’t get another inhaler until May 4 without my doctor’s intervention.  I also know that because I let things get this far and I’m bordering on bronchitis I’m probably going to be forced to take a prednisone burst.  And darn it, I know better.  Because now here I am beating myself up… more stress.  I would laugh but that makes me cough!

So, learn from me.  Not taking your health seriously can have serious consequences. Pay attention to your emotions, get rest, eat properly and follow your asthma action plan. Reminders for both you and me. Together we CAN do this! We CAN keep our asthma under control.

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Body, mind and spirit

It appears I have a raging fungal infection in my sinuses and am developing another round of oral thrush. Because, of course I do. All stress-related, I’m sure. Fortunately, I know what to do when this happens so I’ve bumped up my supplements and probiotic intake and am drinking lots of water and herbal tea to flush this out.  And then there’s the sinus rinsing.  Lots and lots of sinus rinsing.  I also bumped up my workout routine.  That may seem counter intuitive to you since I’m fighting off infection but it has been really great for me. I have a trainer pushing me and I feel so accomplished and strong after each workout.  Right now, it’s vital that I continue to push myself and fight mind, body, and spirit.

Body – During this time, I’ve been playing around with food. Now that I’m working out harder, I find I need more protein. My latest favorite is lettuce wraps.  How can something so easy be so fantastically wonderful?  Really, I’m addicted to them. And they are so portable.  I fill mine up with turkey, ham, peppers, a pickle, a little mustard and avocado…    And they are super easy to make: just lay out some parchment paper and then place your lettuce and start stacking your fillings.  And then roll, while tucking in your ends.  Once it is rolled, slice in two like a deli sandwich.  I can’t eat the whole thing, so this gives me two sandwiches.  And, they are filling.  If I feel like I need something else or something crunchy, I’ll have an apple. Snacks for me now consist of a hardboiled egg or maybe some tuna or walnuts.  I never realized how tasty plain walnuts are and the healthy fat is good for you. I’m also very deliberate with my breakfast as well, ensuring I have enough protein to tide me over until lunch.  And, water.  I drink lots and lots of water.  I’m lucky in that the women’s restroom is in very close proximity to my office, that’s how much water I consume each day.

Mind and Spirit – A weekend getaway to the ocean allowed me to clear my head and breathe and reflect. I was reminded I am strong in spirit. Maybe a little too strong in spirit because, on the way home from that trip, I registered for a 10k and my second half marathon. I’m also running a 12k in three months. I continue to push myself to run and swim because it makes me feel good – normal. And it’s my way to say to my illness “you aren’t going to win this battle. You are NOT getting the best of me.”

I swam Alcatraz a couple of years ago (850 of my closest friends and I jumped off the boat at Alcatraz and swam back). And I share this because that was THE hardest thing I’ve ever done. And now, when things get tough or I doubt myself, I remember what an amazing thing I accomplished and that no matter what I end up facing, I will do so with the same grace and determination.  Find that one thing which makes you feel strong and embrace it.  Hang on to it tightly and when the going gets tough, remind yourself you are strong, you can do this, whatever “this” happens to be. We all have that inner fight inside us.  We just have to believe enough in ourselves to listen and act upon it. If I can do it, so can you!

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