Social Media + Workouts: Helpful or Harmful?

>> Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article for my gig at WalkJogRun about social media + workout motivation. For the most part, I see a ton of positives going out and running/walking/swimming/biking/etc. and then sharing the details on Twitter or blog for a boost of confidence. I've had some trouble, especially since becoming a mom, with sticking to training plans -- and sometimes a little "way to go!" or "great pace!" from a friend or even stranger has made time spent moving more gratifying.


But then I thought about it on the flip side, because I've certainly had days and even entire periods of my life when social media sweat session boasting has irked and even derailed me. Of course, it's all on me how I decide to spend my time + interpret information + subsequently stew in my own annoyance/frustration/whathaveyou . . . but, as an example, I had to block from my feed almost all my running club buddies for the latter part of my pregnancy.

(Yeah, guys. Sorry about that.)

It was in late summer and early fall -- at the height of marathon training season. And they were on fire. I felt happy for my friends and enjoyed living vicariously through their training. However, hearing about all those 20-mile long runs as my own had dwindled to single digits and then to zero did anything but invigorate me. The constant, up-to-the-minute reminder of how far I'd fallen "off track" was actually quite upsetting, even when I felt confident in my own decision to do what I was doing.

At other times, I've looked at my Facebook wall or Twitter feed or favorite blogs or Instagram snapshots and felt like "why the hell can't I muster enough energy to train for X, Y, or Z?!" Or "So-and-so is doing THIS, what's wrong with ME!?" You know, "Since when did we all have to exercise twice a day or run ultras to be REAL athletes?" Or other nonsense that I've thought in the past year, month, week, hour.

I am certainly guilty of posting mostly my best workouts. I certainly favor sharing PRs versus total bombs for race times. So, I suppose this isn't really a rant but rather a curious prodding. How does social media influence your exercise, if at all? 

What are your positive/negative experiences?

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Catching Up

>> Tuesday, October 29, 2013

If my first week of 10K training is indicative of how the rest will go, I think I'm going to be in good shape. With the exception of shifting my long run from Sunday to Monday (to accommodate a travel-date, which I'll get to in a moment), I got in all my workouts and even fit in a run with a friend.

M: Off
T: 5 mile, fartlek
W: 4 miles, 34 minutes -- 8:22/mile
R: 6 miles, 54 minutes -- 8:54/mile
F: Off
S: 5 miles w/ friend
S: Off
M: 8 miles, first 4 slow, second 4 fast

TOTAL: 28 miles

+    +    +    +    +    +    +

Besides running this weekend, Stephen and I took a little day trip to Corning, NY, which is a small "city" about 40 minutes north of Wellsboro, PA, the town where I grew up. We had both planned on running the Wineglass marathon here, and then dropped to the half marathon, and then dropped the whole thing altogether due to Ada's surgery.

Still, we wanted to make a visit just for fun.

We first grabbed brunch at The Cellar. I ordered the Green Goddess omelet (incredible! full of asparagus, pesto, chevre, and mushrooms). Stephen got the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. I also sipped the most peppery Bloody Mary I've ever experienced (read: delicious), and Stephen got his fill of french press coffee.

After that, we strolled in the chilly air, taking in the sights + scenes.

It was fun gallivanting around just the two of us.

Completely off topic, but Stephen won a half marathon last weekend. Like, won the whole thing. He finished in 1:12:39 (5:32/mile), smashing his previous record by 2 minutes. The best part? He won a blanket, among other things. (It's the little things . . . ) Great job, Stephen!

If you didn't notice from the photos, stuff was a little dead in Corning because it was, well, a Sunday morning. Next time, we'll have to go either later in the day or on Saturday when everything is open, the farmers' market is in full swing, etc. Regardless, we found our fill of stuff to do. Next time I really want to check out the Museum of Glass and make a necklace.

Before we left, we visited the Market Street Brewing Company.

We sampled and savored -- the Wheelhouse IPA being our favorite. It was cool to chat with the owner, and for those of you who live in/around the Finger Lakes, you should definitely check out the Finger Lakes Beer Trail. I've never been much into wine (which is what the region is famous for), so this newer trail is exciting!

We stopped by my childhood mall on the way home (and by that, I mean it was the closest mall to us growing up, about 1 hour away!). We ran into my grandparents, which was an awesome bonus. And I couldn't resist grabbing an old favorite treat of mine.

Happy Halloween to me! (Truth: I bought two of these guys.)

I think it's been like 50,000 years since I posted a weekend recap like this one. Probably because most of our weekends are super duper low-key. It was a nice change of pace, that's for sure. And something we need to make more time for, even if it means shifting long runs to fit in lots of brunch food, drinks, and ridiculously amazing desserts.

Happy Tuesday!

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Prepping for Winter

>> Friday, October 25, 2013

Those bright, sunny, and unseasonably warm days we were having decided to abruptly go elsewhere. In fact, snow showers are in the forecast and my back is aching from raking. Last night the temperature was around 40 degrees when I headed out on my 6-mile run. It was also dark + I could just smell the winter in the air.

You know the smell, right?

So, I put on my tights, a long-sleeve tech shirt, and my trusty fleece vest and jumped in.

I've written a lot of survival guides for the cold months, so I thought it might be nice to put them all in one place. Whether you're a seasoned runner who just don't like the seasons OR if this is your first winter running, you can enjoy frigid temperatures (or at very least, learn to love the treadmill).

Overall, my best tip for learning to love the cold weather is to just DO IT. (Any maybe bring a friend for emotional support.) Usually by 10 minutes into a run, I'm not shivering anymore. The blood is pumping and I feel much better being outside than stuck indoors. The key, though, is to start now, before it's too much of a shock. It takes some getting used to . . . even if it's only a few miles at a time.

How do you overcome the deep freeze?

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(Another) Vegetarian Freezer Month?

>> Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For obvious reasons, I didn't attempt making a month of freezer foods for our October consumption. But now that we're nearing another fresh start, I'm toying with the whole idea again. I first want to review the pros and cons of what I did for September, as well as provide some details about what I would modify going forward.

  • I prepared a variety of meals -- from vegan lasagna to veggie burgers -- but planned on eating each once a week. Overall, I didn't get as bored with the food as I thought I would, but there were certainly times I felt I'd rather cook fresh because I love cooking.
  • Without using a microwave, which we've banished to the basement for more counter space, reheating the foods took a long time -- and if I didn't think enough ahead (which there's no excuse -- but it still happened, multiple times), dinner would only be lukewarm when we were starving. 
  • It was nice to have meals already portioned out, and I think it helped us conserve our food resources ($$$) instead of just carving away piece by piece at what could be leftovers.
  • I'd have to say the taste of the food was good, but some was lost in freezing and reheating. I don't know if this is entirely avoidable or if I just don't use much salt (though I'm not willing to load stuff for taste). Maybe trying new, spicier recipes is in order?
  • However, speaking of spicy recipes -- this Indian stew looked vibrant and tasty when we made it . . . but after freezing was a complete mess. Cook and learn, I guess.

If I freeze foods for November, I think I'll likely change the following:

  • I'd only make freezer dinners for 2 or 3 nights each week, decreasing the BIG COOK intensity, but also giving me an opportunity to make fresh meals when I feel like it.
  • I'd still meal plan for the entire month -- fresh cooking included -- and attempt to buy the bulk of the month's groceries in a massive shop to save money.
  • I'd plan to make very simple fresh meals that have only few ingredients or prepare easily in the crock pot or in one bake dish by roasting, etc.
  • I'd use a lot of local and seasonal squash because it's inexpensive, readily available, hearty (doesn't spoil easily), and versatile. Another batch of Delicata Mac 'n Cheese, anyone?
  • And with the fresh foods I do make, it'd be nice to plan for leftovers and then remix them for the following day (lunch) or night (dinner).
  • I might also like to make freezer bagels or breads this month -- the baking bug has bitten me. And this month I will make time for a batch of Homemade Freezer Waffles.
  • I'd also like to keep a closer watch on the budget for what I spend the weeks after the big shop. When stuff got crazy last month, I honestly stopped caring about that piece -- but I plan a full budget analysis and see how it compares to just regular cooking.
So that's where I am with planning for next month. I'll be sure to share the recipes I intend on making (some new stuff -- hooray!) soon. The freezer lasagna was a big hit, and I'd love suggestions for tried-and-true recipes you know freeze really well.

Anyone else doing freezer meals?

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Weekend Things

>> Friday, October 18, 2013

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to a quiet, uneventful weekend. We're not much into heavily loading Saturday and Sunday anyway, but I envision a lot of low-key meals and time in the backyard on the horizon. I love this time of year. Well, except that we have a literal ton of leaves ready for raking!
It makes for a beautiful chore.

// READS //
Elizabeth Smart's My Story
Jenna Woginrich's Made from Scratch
as well as her new book One-Woman Farm

// WALK, JOG, RUN //

Cute + clever sandwich crust cutters
Ada's absolute favorite toy -- Play Doh Big Barrel set
Bright + fun reusable snack bags

// 10K TRAINING //
I'm thinking of trying this plan, which is 12 weeks in all.
However, I will modify because I can't/don't want to run that many days/week!
Goal is 46:30 or 7:29/mile, pace predictor says 46:49 more likely.



And here's what you may have missed on Writing Chapter Three:
Have a great weekend!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

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Training Seasons + My Winter Running Goal

>> Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exactly two years ago -- when I was around 34 weeks pregnant with Ada -- I dramatically slowed my running. I decreased the frequency of my workouts, the speed, and the distance. All of it. At the time, I had mixed feelings. Running was so much of my identity. Seemingly one of the few things left that was mine and mine alone as my body had changed + softened and my mind had filled with thoughts of baby 24/7.

However, running had also become progressively uncomfortable at this stage. Not painful, but the pressure on my bladder wasn't pleasant. The energy I had in the second trimester had waned. My muscles and motivation didn't recover so quickly. I could have pushed harder, yes, but ultimately decided to give my body the break it was telling me it needed. I jogged barefoot miles on our treadmill and favored long, brisk walks and prenatal workout DVDs.

Somehow my mind transformed to the maturity of a 12-year-old about this change. I worried I'd never EVER be fit or fast AGAINNNNNN. That taking a break would somehow be the end to something I had fought so hard to continue, to prove to myself that I could maintain. I worried I'd never regain the competitive spirit or stake claim to the activity that allowed me to think, to feel strong, and to exude body confidence.

So, it's been a long journey, but here I am today, having gone through varied seasons with my training -- from not running at all after birth or very little due to discomfort/newborn sleep to PRing at all distances from the 5K (22:18) to half marathon (1:44:25). I'm happy I've reached a good balance with training/life, but sometimes I wish I was more motivated. My younger self could stick to training plans 99.9% because I had the drive and (all the) time (in the world) + limited responsibilities outside my desk job.

Honestly, it also seems when I became a mom, my competitive spirit took a back seat, for which I have no excuse other than not putting as much value on it. I don't necessarily miss the urge to push myself to the max or that distinct craving for new PRs. To prove to myself and, of a strange, chief importance, to others that I'm a badass athlete.

I guess you could say I've mellowed. Maybe it was the mom-factor or perhaps it was turning 30. I'm aging like a fine wine. I sort of revel in this new sense of centered-ness that comes from within. What I do miss, though, is consistently making time for something that is mine, and that's what running is to me.

I knew a new goal was in order, but after years of training for half marathons with the same old plan, anything else seemed too much/risk of injury (marathons are murder for my IT-band) or too little/too intense (hello, my love/hate relationship with 5Ks!).

It's hard to break out of a rut, isn't it?

Anyway, I guess this post is just a long-winded way of declaring that my new goal is to run a winter 10K in 46:30 or faster. I'm going to follow a more advanced plan that's challenging, but far different from the plans I've grown accustomed to. That photo above is from my run last night. I'm ready for speed. I'm excited to try something new. I'm also looking forward to carving out more time for myself as a runner and mom. I don't do enough of it. And I'll write more soon.

What are your cold weather training plans?

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Curried Mac 'n Cheese w/ Delicata Squash

>> Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We ate our fair share of cafeteria food last week, and not all of it was bad. I'm partial to hospital parfaits -- chocolate pudding layered with cool whip and Oreo cookies. The dessert seems to be made the same way + using the same ingredients everywhere I've stayed/visited, likely because a lot of hospitals use the same food service suppliers.

The cafeteria also featured a mean black bean burger and a amazingly delicious macaroni and cheese dish. Now that we're home and cooking again, I've been strangely missing the whole convenience factor of just going downstairs and grabbing a tray for each meal. So, I thought recreating some of those comfort foods might do the trick.

Local delicata squash is a huge favorite in our house this time of year. So, I thought I might like to try and inject its sweet flavor into an easy, satisfying dinner.

This recipe calls for a flavorful + roasted puree. So, just preheat your oven to 375 degrees F, wash the skin of the delicata squash well, then slice and scoop. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper, then roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes. Until lightly browned and softened.

Scoop flesh out of the skin (don't discard -- you can snack on the skin!) and then blend in a food processor or blender with a little water until the mixture resembles a thick applesauce.

* Alternatively, you can use canned pumpkin or squash if time's an issue.

Serves 4-6, or dinner for 2-3 for 2 nights!

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup delicata squash puree, instructions above
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used a mixed bag)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups milk (soy milk is delicious), unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder, or more depending on your preference
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance
  • 12 ounces elbow pasta
  • breadcrumbs, whole wheat
 Method . . .
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch square baking dish or a 2-1/2 quart round and set aside.
  2. Start a pot of water to cook your pasta. Just cook it al dente, around 8 or 9 minutes.
  3. While your pasta cooks, combine your puree, cheeses, milk, and seasonings in a small pot over low heat. Mix until totally combined. You may adjust it with more/less milk as desired. Ours was around the consistency of fondue.
  4. Then drain the pasta, put the tablespoon of butter or Earth Balance back into the pot, return the pasta too -- toss and pour your cheese mixture over top. 
  5. Mix gently. Then slowly pour the egg white in while mixing so it doesn't cook unevenly. Add more spice if you like.
  6. Cover with breadcrumbs -- the more the better, in my opinion.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

I am so excited because we have half of our mac 'n cheese left for dinner tonight! The delicata squash is so sweet, but amazing in combination with the cheese and curry. I'd love to experiment with making a vegan version of this dish.


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Postpartum Body Update

>> Monday, October 14, 2013

It's been over a year since I last updated you all about my postpartum fitness and weight. Partially I feel it's just not relevant to speak about my body in terms of "postpartum" anymore -- Ada's nearly two years old and I've moved on with my life. And -- also partially -- I was frustrated with being stalled at 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight no matter how much I was training or eating well.

I know 5 pounds isn't much. Still, I just didn't want to talk about it + generally had accepted the extra weight as new normal. My clothes fit a bit tighter, but athletically, I was still performing well. It sounds trite, but my body image did improve after pregnancy, not necessarily by conscious effort or personal growth. Perhaps by necessity, if that makes any sense.

I have decided to write on this topic again because I've received lots of emails and comments related to "getting back" or the before-baby body. How long it takes. What I did to slim down. What works when nothing else seems to, etc. I usually reply with a response about how I'm not back to normal. That each woman is different, each situation after pregnancy is different, and there's really no magic answer, unfortunately.

I still stand by these words, but in the interest of hope, I'd like to share with you that it took a long 23 months after giving birth -- and 6 months after weaning Ada -- to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. My stretched stomach is finally getting flat, the skin getting tighter again. And the magic solution ended up being TIME.

I never did any hardcore dieting or supremely healthy eating to get back to my weight. I didn't cut out entire food groups with the hope of sliding the scale in my favor. Yes, I trained for half marathons, but didn't do any more exercising than my body was used to before, during, or after pregnancy. In fact, as I read through my posts over the last several years, I'm struck with how lax I've become about fitness these days. Or, maybe to state in better words, how better balanced I've become at incorporating activity into my daily routine.

Balance is a good thing.

I read my pregnancy running posts now and feel a bit shaky about how intensely focused -- hell-bent -- I was on getting in those miles despite morning sickness or exhaustion or whatever else I was feeling at the time. I ran more then than I do now, and I'm pretty sure it's because I was trying to prove a lot to myself and to others. While I'm hoping to gain more discipline as I look to new running goals, at the same time -- I'm racing faster than ever, so something seems to be working if I'm focusing solely on performance.

Sure it's absolutely annoying when it seems like all other women are shrinking back to normal with little effort. Sure it seems sometimes that the breastfeeding + weight loss thing is just a cruel joke or reserved for a privileged few. Sure dieting and lots of exercise might get you back into your jeans faster. But as hard as it is to accept in this culture of constant comparison -- it's really is true: Each woman's body responds differently to the hormones and other jazz associated with pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, etc.

Time was all that worked for me, along with eating like I always have and exercising moderately and then more intensely at times. Weaning did seem to help. And now that I'm back to "normal" I'm already beginning to think about number 2, so the cycle will continue. At least now I know what to expect and can stop being so hard on myself.

But you, too, should give yourself a break, which I know is easier said than done.

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Fall + Change + Thoughts

>> Saturday, October 12, 2013

I marvel at people who can turn their frustration and anxiety into productive energy. I try my best -- if for no other reason than to keep my sanity -- but I am usually unable to move. Utterly paralyzed. Stephen's one of these super-human creatures and, for example, has run more miles this month than perhaps in any other week of his training. I, on the other hand, didn't even care to count. I know last week's miles could be counted on just one hand.

Life is crazy. Motivation ebbs and flows with each hour, depending on what's going on. And now that we have now passed the biggest hurdle in our current situation and Ada's on the mend, I'm slowly feeling more enticed by these gorgeous fall days. I want to get moving again, in all regards.

I want to reclaim this season.

DNS-ing our half marathon was necessary -- all while being disappointing. I know my energy was focused in the right direction, so I have no regrets. As I've written in the past, though, I need to take care of myself in order to take care of my family. If you've been reading for a long time, you know exercise is important to me. So, it's one area in my life in which I need to move on and find a new goal.

Here are a few goals I'm tossing around:
  • Work up to swimming two miles.
  • Devote 3 days a week to strength.
  • Delve back into yoga practice.
  • Take an adult dance class.
  • Train to run a fast 10K. 
  • Work up to running a 20 mile long run for fun.
  • Train for a spring half marathon, 1:40:00 goal.
  • Work up to doing 5 pull-ups.
Cooking and baking are also high up on the list. After a month of vegetarian freezer meals followed by a couple weeks of eating convenience foods, I'm itching to get back into the kitchen. I often revert back to old, tried-and-true favorites. At least that's what I've done the last few years.

Here's what I mean:
  • I'd like to give my overall "diet" a looking over. I often feel this way with the change of seasons. I get in lots of food ruts and would like to add more variety with fruits and especially vegetables. 
  • I'd like to eat more vegan meals because it will force me to experiment with new ingredients and methods. 
  • I'd like to create healthier desserts before the holiday season, without skimping on deliciousness. 
  • I'd like to continue to expand my bread baking -- along with other from-scratch skills.
  • I'd like to create some solid soup recipes. I three in mind, actually, but just haven't had the time to develop them.
  • I'd like to set aside a few hours every Sunday where I spend time creating something purposeful in the kitchen. I used to do this whole "champagne afternoon" thing -- so I think it's the right time of year to start again.
  • I'd also like to start having more meals with friends. I'm thinking potluck style brunches and the like.
As far as the blog goes, ever since I became a mom, I got far less organized about posting and planning. I'm sure if you're a long-time reader, you've noticed. I love writing and sharing bits and pieces from our life with you all. So, I have some goals related to this space as well.
  • Eventually I'd like to re-merge my blogs into one mega-blog. I think I've written about this before. Initially I wanted to separate everything for the benefit of the reader -- many of whom aren't interesting in musings on our family life. Thing is, it is who I am . . . so it's weird to split content. And it's clunky for those of you who like to read both.
  • I've like to get more organized and even have recurring themes or series. Not only for myself to stay motivated and excited to write, but also so readers can know more what to expect on the day to day.
  • I also want to enrich my posts with more personal stories and heart. It's when I inject more of myself and, in turn, learn more about you all that I feel the happiest and most fulfilled in writing.
Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about this blog in my absence from it. This past month has changed me in many ways that I didn't quite expect. It brought me way down low, of course, but I'm climbing back up again. It's a slow process. However, it's oddly nice to have a chance to reevaluate my priorities and the places where I'm expending the most energy.

I hope you are all well, and I look forward to regaining my voice as this new season rolls on!

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Vitamins + Supplements

>> Thursday, October 3, 2013

There's this whole world of health stuff I don't really get into on my blogs. And by that I mean, there's a ton of stuff I don't know about being healthy or striving for betterment with my diet and exercise.  I've touched on different products here and there when it has seemed relevant (for example, a quick mention of my prenatal vitamins) -- but otherwise keep mum on the topic.

For the most part, vitamins, supplements, and herbal stuffs are a mystery to me. I have friends and family who take the entire alphabet and then some specialty stuff to boot. Others swear the entire industry is a scam and that most of the so-called "concentrated formula" is lost through sweat and urine anyway. Still others contend that maybe that stuff helps, but it's eating a well-balanced diet that is best to keep our stores full.

I haven't done much to change my own routine over the years. I eat what I can in way of vitamins and minerals and take a daily multivitamin somewhat blindly. I don't know if it helps or doesn't, but since I'm in my childbearing years, I figure it can't hurt to have a hefty dose of folate in case I didn't get enough through food alone. Lately, however, I've been dipping into the related world of herbal supplements and remedies. This is where things get really murky.

As I stepped foot into one of those gigantic chain vitamin suppliers earlier this week, I was overwhelmed by all the visual commotion. The lights were bright. The walls were lined with tiny glass and plastic bottles, from the most general vitamins to specialized supplements to pills for dogs + cats to take. There were energy bars and powdered drinks and all sorts of other "healthy" things all over the place. The shoppers all seemed to be coming to/from the gym, as they were donning stylish stretchy duds + their hair slicked back for activity.

This trip wasn't exploratory by any means. I had gone in with a clear mission -- list in hand.

a.) I've been having trouble sleeping. I've also been feeling worried. With everything going on, I know it's normal and I've been finding healthy ways to cope through running and eating well. Still, I remembered a while back when I was in college, I used to take Valerian Drops to help myself sleep (a bout of insomnia + going to school in a hippie town = lots of herbal suggestions, which is how I arrived at that particular tincture).

b.) I'm thinking I might need some extra calming during Ada's surgery next week -- and some of you on Twitter suggested Bach's Rescue Remedy, which contains "flower essences" made to combat a wide assortment of anxieties. According to some reviewers, just as good as dropping Xanax or Ativan. Others say a shot of whiskey would do the trick better.

The guy behind the counter wasn't thrilled that I only wanted these two items and not to explore the wide world of other health-enhancing goodies he had in the store. Honestly -- the jury is still out for me. Whether it's a placebo effect or what, I know after I've taken the Valerian, I feel tired within 10 minutes and sleep much more soundly. So, that's great. The Rescue Remedy, I'm not so sure. I took it this morning to try it out but didn't feel much difference. I'll put it to the ultimate test next week and get back to you.

I suppose in general, this whole trip just got me thinking about the "health" industry and all the potions and elixirs and vitamins that so many down each day. I am very much in the middle ground at this stage. I'm curious because a lot of smart, thoughtful people take these things and I wonder if I'm missing out. Yet, I'm skeptical because the whole buying experience is set up like how Bath + Body Works associates try to sell me extra lotions and soaps . . . shouldn't I be the one dictating the add-ons when it comes to stuff that might impact my health?
Are vitamins and supplements or other herbals/etc. a part of your daily routine? 
Did you consult with a medical professional about the benefits/interactions? 
What types of things do you take? 
Have you seen noticeable health benefits?

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Taking Care of Myself

>> Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meals are more important the we give them credit for.

You see, it's around this time in a crisis, however big or small, when I take a step back and look at how I'm treating myself . . . and usually feel quite horrified. Since Ada's MRI a few weeks ago and her subsequent diagnosis + surgery schedule, I've gone through periods of feeling fine alternating with near-panic attacks. Eating absolutely nothing (I lost 7 pounds) and eating absolutely everything (and gained it all back like THAT). I've taken entire weeks off from exercise due to emotional paralysis. Then I've gotten back on track.

The transition between these two extremes has been sort of like when that other kid you're riding along with on the seesaw just jumps off. BAM!

It's the all too common all-or-nothing approach. My body and mind don't know what they want or need. It's just one of those situations where I'm stumped. And with every twist and turn, there are fewer and fewer answers or certainties. Life doesn't often make sense, it's sometimes cruel and utterly confusing -- but, and what's been hard for me to believe, it's in our best interest to wade through the insanity and gather our best forces to power through.

I write a lot about movement. Not just running or swimming or other exercise -- you know, the physical manifestation of the word. Lately, when I make a motion forward or backward, I mean it with my heart and soul. So, I am trying my best to make progress -- motion -- and meet Ada's needs.

Thing is: I need to pay attention to my own in the process.

I need to take better care of myself if I'm going to care for Ada when she's at her most fragile these next few months. I started today with a healthy breakfast of roasted sweet potatoes + avocado chunks topped with a fried egg. Much better for me than downing three glazed doughnuts or skipping all together, I'll tell you. My parents have generously dropped by for a little over an hour each day to make sure Stephen and I can get in our therapy sessions (running) while still having time to cross off all those last minute to-dos.

Thanks to them, I ran 26.2 miles last week, 10 of which were on Sunday -- and I think that's a good start toward keeping some normalcy. We had planned to run (or skip) the Wineglass Half Marathon this coming weekend, and now we've officially accepted we'll finish DNS. It's too much to load the weekend before surgery. Still, I'm committed to seeing the fruits of my training and will be completing a 13.1 mile "sanity run" by myself on Sunday.

*   *   *   *   *   *   

It's the little things that can turn a situation from bad to worse or, alternatively, to better. If it means going to bed a half hour early or jogging a couple slow miles or accepting all that help that our amazing friends, family, and neighbors have offered us -- all the better. It's surprisingly difficult to resist isolation and stagnation when things get rough. It feels much better in the immediate to just retreat, fade away.

The challenge is giving in to the situation and somehow finding peace and a path to move forward. But I'm learning that most everything in life is a challenge and it's how we design our plan of attack that matters most.

Something positive: This very afternoon next week, surgery will be over + Ada will be on her way to recovery.

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