this time a year ago…

Today is my birthday (Woo!)… My gift to myself was a day off work. It’s Friday, so let’s start the weekend off right 🙂

On birthdays, we tend to look back at the past year- at everything that has changed. This is the first time in years (six to be exact) that I’ve been in a relationship, so that is pretty major for me. Last year, I had just started to get to know Dan

Last year, I was tapering down for my first marathon. My goal had been (for a long time) to complete a marathon before I turned 30. I was 28, and in great shape, so it was perfect timing. I had just finished my first distance relay– Tuna200. I ended up staying home from work because I was super sick, and slept the entire day- until about 5pm (when I started getting ready to meet up with friends for low-key birthday drinks). Ironically enough, I’m meeting up with the exact same group tonight- just a different location 🙂

My brother had just gotten married, and my sister-in-law was pregnant with little Mason. Now, I am a proud Aunt of the most adorable nephew in the world. He plans to be Winnie the Pooh for Halloween, and I can’t wait to see the pictures. I can’t believe he is almost 9 months old… He’s such a big boy (as you can see below):

in a pumpkin

in a pumpkin

My dad is coming over this afternoon for some quality father-daughter time, and considering he’s one of my best friends, it will be good just to hang out with him some.

Although I am super happy, in general, with my life. My health has been less than stellar the last six months… But, it feels good to say I am getting better. I ran 4 miles last Friday (woo! The most I’ve ran since April), and at a 10-min pace, which isn’t too too bad. It felt like my standard long-slow-run day. I’ve gone to the gym twice this week- including what are called “thrusters” (I had no idea that’s what all those crossfitters are talking about when they complain about thrusters… I just thought it would be better than regular squats with a weight). My legs were super sore Monday, but my ab hasn’t hurt in over a week… I have officially started working on getting my strength and speed back, and plan to call my Saturdays my “long run” day (even if it starts out at a 4mi run). The struggle of the past six months doesn’t seem as important as the fact that I am getting better and stronger.

I still like beer. We also cook more often than we used to. We go to the farmers market often, and have only killed it a few times- an eggplant that we kept forgetting about, and a pepper that went bad within a week of getting. I eat more salads than I used to– dark leafy greens, a creamy cheese, nuts, dried fruit, apples… It’s delicious. And the apple cider sangria was a hit! Though, I’d suggest not to use sweet apples- they absorbed the alcohol, and tasted like pure ethanol after a few hours of soaking.

And girly things- I started getting birchbox this summer, and it opened me up to more makeup and playing around with girly things… However, I got a couple boxes where I only liked 1 or 2 items, so I cancelled it. I did find a few things I liked- Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner… but it was in a teal (not exactly an “everyday” eye liner color). I found an amazing face moisturizer- Benta Berry G1 but you have to join a wait list, and it took 3 months to even get to the top of the list… Ain’t nobody got time for that. Anyway, it seemed like there was always something… More recently, I signed up for Julep and love it! Use the code “FREEBOX” to get your first box for free 🙂

No tangents. This birthday will be good… Wishing you all a good weekend as well. Happy Friday!

Overcoming PTSD of injuries

Settle in kids. This may be a long one.

Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to come back.

In May, I found out the sharp cramp in my side was actually a torn abdominal muscle. My PCP did not do an x-ray like I suggested, and just thought it was a fluke, and it would go away with rest and muscle relaxers. It would be fine for a few weeks, then I’d push it a little harder, and would end up laid up in bed for a week or so. Of course, I still had to work, but I’d take a day off, or go to work, get the essentials done, then come home, take muscle relaxers and be in bed by 8pm.

Finally, in August; I decided there was still something wrong with me. I searched the area for an ortho- specialist who would work with abdominal (muscle) issues, and came up empty-handed. After much exasperation, I settled on going to our chiropractor (I went to him often when I was a gymnast and my mom still goes to see him. She has brought him fresh baked cookies at Christmas for the past 30 years). I trust him, which is big. But, more importantly, I thought he would be able to help.

Finally, I got the help I wanted

My first visit was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I was nervous he wouldn’t be able to help me. And I was excited that I may have finally found a solution. He met with me; we caught up about the past ten years (apparently my mom alluded to Dan and I getting married… Hopeful exaggeration I’m sure), and I jumped right in with my problem. I told him I want x-rays, I was sure I was dislocated something, or that I had a broken rib or something I hadn’t even thought of yet.

The x-rays came back as this: My left hip was all out of line, and had pulled my sacrum (your very lower spine) to the left. My upper back was being pulled right and down, pulling my shoulder out of line. The diagnosis was pretty clear- my body had been pulling itself apart, resulting in a severe ‘crunching’ of my right abdomen. I wasn’t getting full circulation to the area. Nerves and arteries were likely being pinched, causing extra pain on top of the pulled abdominal muscle(s). Basically, it would have never healed on its own.

He popped my shoulder and hip back into place, and did a little treatment on my upper spine (by your shoulder blades), and by my sacrum. He told me the plan was to see me weekly for a little while.

That night is hard to describe. I could feel my abdomen again. It felt like every breathe opened it up. I also felt a lot of pain. Your body gets used to misalignment, and being corrected hurts.

He urged me to run further and further each week. At first, I ran maybe a mile; afraid of pushing it too far.

Fear lingers, even through recovery

I am still afraid. Each time I run, I try to push it a little extra. But there is a wall I can’t push past. It keeps me from giving it my all. I am afraid that I will literally give it my all, and be left with nothing. Nothing meaning I will be laid up in bed for another week or two.

I’ve added strength training. But I can only do it once per week. I often ‘don’t have time’… The truth is I’m afraid when the strength training hurts. I really can’t feel it my body when I’ve pushed it too far. So I back off quicker. I don’t always complete a workout (which makes me feel weak- mentally and physically). I am learning to accept this, but it is a hard struggle.

This summer, I was pretty depressed about my injury. I had to choose between doing a 10-min run or hanging out with friends, because I knew a run would put me out for the day. I wouldn’t be in ‘a little pain’, but the kind of pain where sitting up hurts. Holding a conversation with people, laughing, leaning forward; all of it put in pain. So I would stay in. I lost a little bit of the vitality that makes me who I am.

I was so mad about it. I was mad that Dan was forced to be around me when I never wanted to go anywhere or do anything. Like I was a rock, weighing him down. I’d get mad at myself for getting upset about it. I’ve learned to just live the hand you are dealt.

The good news is

I’m done with all that. I have acknowledged I have been experiencing chronic pain. There are good days and bad days. My good days are getting better and better, and are more often. My bad days are fewer; and although they upset me, the pain isn’t as bad as it was over the summer. I’ve owned up to the fact that the muscle relaxers help me on the bad days. They keep me still and tire me out, which helps my body heal. I am not weak because I choose to stop a workout, or take muscle relaxers, or go to bed at 9pm to ensure extra sleep. I am healing, I am getting stronger; all of it is necessary to get there.

So the most recent update-

The most I’ve ran since April is 2.95 miles, which I did on September 19 (and celebrated with Dan and Dave, pizza and beer). It was at a 10:22 pace, which is a lot slower than my former 3-mile pace, but I was able to complete it; so it was a day of celebration.

Last week, I ran 6 miles total; broken over 3 separate runs, and I swam ~20 mins one night. For the most part, I felt okay; good even. That is very different than June/July. celebration.

My work schedule is a little chaotic (working til 7 or 8pm), so this week is less than last week.

Overall, my goal is to complete 5 miles (running without stopping), within the next month. I plan to do the Ridgewood Turkey Trot (5 miles) no matter what this year. I may have to walk some, and will probably finish a LOT slower than in years past, but I will finish it. celebration.

If by February, I can’t run a decent long run (8-10 miles), I will defer the Rock ‘n Roll Raleigh’s inaugural year. As it is, I’m not crazy; I plan to drop down to the half. I am hoping that I can slowly build over the next few months, and begin ‘training’ in the new year.

So that’s my injury story. I’ve been avoiding writing about it. Partly because it makes me sad. Partly because I’m still in the middle of it. Partly because it had consumed my life for the past six months, and I didn’t want to give it any more power over me. But I needed to write it. This is one of those ‘blogging for me’ moments.

And anyone who reads down this far, run a little extra/ push a little extra for me. Because I can’t, but so badly want to. Set your goals a little higher than your comfort zone.  I’ve always ran because I work with people who inspire me. Their health made it hard for them to dream of completing a marathon, so I ran with them in mind. It’s very strange for me to be on the other side now, even if its temporary…

preparing for the holidays

There has been evidence to suggest that people who gain the least amount of weight during the holidays start strategizing early- as early as October. For North Carolina, I think the NC State Fair is the beginning of the holiday season. Pretty much anything is deep-fried, covered in butter, and somehow pork is always involved– for instance, the Krispy Kreme burger. Two Krispy Kreme doughnuts act as the bun for a burger, which is topped with cheese and bacon. Then, comes halloween and the beginning of all my friends’ holiday parties. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve… My weekends are quickly filling up between now and the end of the year with these events.

This week was also our annual Success Week at work (I work at a private residential weight management facility). During success week, former clients who have been successful at home return, and impart wisdom on our current clients. Although their success varies, and everyone’s stories are different. They all have one thing in common- through the years and struggles, they have managed to lose weight; some have lost 30-40 lbs. Some of our most successful people have gone from 675 lbs to 250, or 400 to 200 lbs. Either way, it is always an inspiration to hear how we have impacted these people’s lives, and it’s particularly nice for me to hear. I work with the numbers; working statistical analyses all day, determining outcomes, and reporting averages. When I am in the numbers all the time, I forget about the applied aspect of my research; the stories behind the weight loss.

So what strategies have worked for people in the past?

Planning your strategies now.

It seems silly that we plan our trips home, who we plan to see, where we want to go; but often, we forget to plan to be healthy during the holidays. When you make your plans for the holidays- whether you are going out of town or having people over to your house, the most successful people (people who are able to maintain their weight) plan out the meal and exercise plans while planning out their vacations. This may vary by person, but here are my favorites I’ve heard over the years–

Sign up for a Turkey Trot.

Most of these are pretty flexible and allow people to just walk the entire course, and range in distance from 5K to half marathon (3 to 13 miles).

Create a family tournament.

Besides, who doesn’t like a little sibling rivalry. This could be a pick-up game of flag football, running around the block in a santa suit, or a yoga-off (see who can hold the move longest). Hopefully you get the point.

Bring your own health.

Don’t assume that someone else will cook healthy for you. Ask if there is something you can bring to the get-together (or offer to test out a recipe there, with tons of veggies).

Add some veggies.

One of our former clients started baking fresh veggies at every holiday meal (This started 7 years ago). She claims they are delicious, and year after year, they are the only thing there with no leftovers. All she does is chop seasonal veggies and put them in 15-20 mins before the turkey/ham/whatever is baking is ready. She also swears by the next rule…

Pick a day.

Pick one day for each holiday. On that one day, you can eat everything you want. Indulge in those favorites. But, don’t extend each holiday into a holiweek. There is some evidence behind this, and one day will not ruin your diet, but three months of indulgence will add pounds in all the wrong places.

Put the cookie jar away.

Research shows that if you we don’t see it, we think about it less; and eat less of snacks that are in the cupboard.

Switch your drink.

Non-alcoholic drinks- like seasonal teas or apple cider have less calories, and are less likely to lower your inhibition (which keeps you from eating the entire batch of cookies you just made). If switching to non-alcoholic makes you scoff, stick with wines, beers, or club soda/tonic water and a shot. You can try my apple cider sangria- coming soon… (I’ll link to my apple cider when it is up and running… I made a trial batch- delicious, and am making another LARGE batch this weekend (<200 cals per glass)

Mini-size me. Pile up with smaller portions of each item. Then, only go back for seconds of your “favorites” (as opposed to eat 1 full heaping portion of everything, and then add another heaping portion of your favorites). This allows you to feel satisfied in your choices. You can eat as much as you want of the “top 3 favorites”.

The biggest advice I can give is know when to indulge, and when to be conservative. If you indulge at every party you go to, and do not eat healthy in between, your jeans may be a little tighter in January. I enjoy the holidays with games and activities and talking with people. Food is part of it, but only the main event a few days out of the year.