Slow Running For the Win

I have been vindicated, you guys.

Ok, let me back up a bit, so as to explain that vindication: I’m a slow runner. Painfully — no, embarrassingly — slow. For years, I’ve been both appalled and slightly ashamed of the fact that I routinely average a 10:30 mile. I manage to do 11:00 if I’m tired. 9:30 if I’m feeling awesome. 8:30 if I’m in the best shape of my life and had a cup of coffee the size of a Winnebago.

After the Great Health Implosion of 2013 and the ensuing 14 months of bloat-inducing medication, my mile time slowed to such a plodding pace that I stopped referring to these forays into outdoor exercise as running and instead called them by a more appropriate name: lumbering.

As in, I’m going lumbering and will be back in 35 minutes or so. When I got tired, I’d start singing Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” in my head — but I’d change the lyrics to say Lumber on/Now’s the time/The time is now…

Meanwhile, when I read about all these amazing runners who can roll out of bed and bust out multiple 8 minute miles, I feel like the athletic equivalent of a manatee.

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BUT NO LONGER!

This afternoon I saw a column in the Times health section which said that slow runners have greater longevity than either sedentary people or fast runners. To quote the article:

Plodding joggers tended to live longer than those who were faster. And in fact, the people who jogged the most frequently and at the fastest pace — who were, in effect, runners rather than joggers — did not enjoy much benefit in terms of mortality. In fact, their lifespans tended to be about the same as among people who did not exercise at all.

The results suggest that the “optimal dose of jogging is light, and strenuous joggers and sedentary non-joggers have similar mortality rates,” said Jacob Louis Marott, a researcher for the Copenhagen City Heart Study and co-author of the study.

YOU GUYS. Today, I am vindicated. Today, I stand before you a newly-proud slow runner.

The timing of the article was perfect, too: the weather here has been too cold and miserable to run outside, so I’ve been either bonding with the treadmill or the elliptical lately. Today, though, presented the one shining reprieve in our weather pattern.

All week I’ve been planning to take advantage of today’s nice weather, so I went for a lumber. I lumbered on for 3 ¼ miles, plodding along with my 10:30 pace – but when other people sped past (and even when one dude passed me twice), my competitive side, which gets obnoxiously vocal when I’m doing anything sports-related, was quickly silenced. Instead, it was replaced by me imagining myself standing on a park bench and yelling, like a super-creepy self-proclaimed prophet who tries to preach to the masses without being fully coherent, “Yes, you guys are all way faster than me – but I MIGHT NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO BE ASHAMED ABOUT AFTER ALL! BECAUSE SCIENCE! SLOW RUNNING 4 LIIIIIIIIIFEEEEE!”

So, to any other joggers who enjoy running but are totally cool with their non-competitive pace, I say this: slow runners unite!

RaisedFist1
Solidarity, my fellow non-competitive slow runners. We shall inherit the earth, possibly, if the results of that study are legit.

I Call Bullsh*t: Fear Mongering and Pushing Perfectionism in Health Articles

I’ve spent a long time being a voracious consumer of health research. My interest began after my Celiac diagnosis and continued unabated for years. I (metaphorically, and with pun intended) gobbled up anything I could find on nutrition, disease prevention, and healthy living. But, as I found recently, the more I read, the more I became…scared sh*tless.

I didn’t even realize it until my health-panic reached critical mass a few weeks ago — but prior to this epiphany, I’ve spent untold amounts of time vigilantly avoiding everything that I’d read was harming me: canned food, tap water, non-stick pans, plastics, household cleaners (hence the article I wrote about it last spring/summer, when I realized that a lot of products are seriously no bueno), grilled meat, non-organic foods…the list goes on.

While all those habits are definitely good, I didn’t realize until recently that they’ve fed into a growing reservoir of “holy crap you guys everything is poison and I’m going to die an early and painful death because THE ENTIRE WORLD IS MADE OF TOXINS AND DOOM.”

 

DoomThen, a few weeks ago, the reservoir breached its banks. I was reading yet another article about the horrors of drinking water, even though this is a generally venerable habit: tap water is horrible for you, and bottled water is apparently no better. The proposed solution is to buy some sort of reverse osmosis uber-filter and install it in your sink, but since we live in a rented apartment and can’t exactly take apart the plumbing without getting into a heap o’ trouble with the property management office, the alleged “only solution” isn’t viable for non-homeowners like us.

Cue the panic: “Omigod. The bottled water is toxic. The tap water is toxic. I can’t install the filters they say will keep the water from being toxic. I DRINK A LOT OF WATER AND IT’S ALL TOXIC AND IS GOING TO KILL ME OMIGOD.”

Then, a few seconds later, just as I was about to weep and curl up in fetal position beneath my desk, I had another thought: “I do the best I can with the resources I have and the circumstances I’m in. Why do I feel so scared that I’m not doing enough? Why do I feel that despite all my effort, I’m totally doomed?”

A few more seconds later: “Wait a minute. This is bullshit.”

EpiphanyThen I took a brief tour through some of the articles I’d read in recent months, and you know what? According to pretty much everything I read, THE WORLD IS MADE OF TOXINS AND EVERYTHING IS GOING TO KILL YOU.

Here’s a small recap of all the things that are going to lead to you being sick, miserable, and probably dead: being tall, your bottled water, your tap water, your tea, your food, the air in your home, your air freshener, anything plastic, getting angry, taking vitamins, flying, insomnia, your antiperspirant, and, wait for it, pretty much everything you own.

Oh, and BTW: being stressed or anxious about the fact that everything is going to kill you is, in fact, also going to kill you. However, be forewarned that using modern medicine to treat your anxiety is going to kill you even more.

Now, I’m prone to freaking out about, well, everything — but these articles had the collective effect of making me nearly crap my pants in sheer panic. The fear-mongering, as I realized with my highly scientific (cough, cough — sarcasm — cough, cough) meta-analysis, actually looks pretty epic. “Scary,” “could kill you,” and “is killing you” are some of the most common themes that cropped up, over and over and over.

Now, there’s a definite difference between actual scientific studies saying that X (for example, height) is correlated with Y (in the case above, cancer) and the outright fear-mongering pieces that tell you to be afraid, very afraid, of everything. But even in those legitimate study results, I realized that no one ever brings up the fact that correlation doesn’t imply causation. Just because two things are linked, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other. But no one ever says that when writing about studies linking X and Y, which then leads the reader to draw the conclusion that X actually causes Y. And let’s be honest: these studies usually correlate everyday things, like your height, with really scary, life-altering/ending sh*t like cancer. Which is terrifying.

Brandon — AKA The Rational One — has occasionally called me on my panic-induced BS, noting that our water is fluoridated (ergo, my fit of freak-out, which happened after I read some terrifying article about the dangers of fluoride in toothpaste, was really just an exercise in futility), and that the whole antiperspirant-breast cancer link has been resoundingly debunked. (Which is good, because my brief foray into all-natural deodorant sans antiperspirant led to me schvitzing right through my sweaters, thus yielding sweat stains the size of watermelons. I despised it.)

Deodorant without antiperspirantI also noticed that along with these prophecies of doom, there are ample recommendations on what you can do to prevent horrible health outcomes from befalling you. What’s the best way to prevent being killed by everything you own, touch, or ingest?

According to all the health literature I’ve read over the years, it’s simple: adopt this easy 80-step, time-sucking process to propel yourself into vibrant health!

  • Spend 20 minutes per day doing oil pulling. And no, it doesn’t matter if you usually barely have 2 minutes to spend brushing your teeth.
  • Make your own toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, lotion, and all personal care products, only using fresh spring water that you retrieved yourself and carried on your head in a fair-trade, non-GMO, certified organic clay jug.
  • Similarly, craft your own non-toxic stone ware out of fresh clay that was found in a sacred clay deposit after the rainy season in Sedona.
  • Cut gluten, dairy, meat, vegetables, sugar, fruit, grains, and beans out of your diet, because they’re all toxic. Subsisting on air is the way of the righteous.
  • If you do choose to consume food (because you don’t love Mother Earth), don’t buy almond or coconut milks from the store — they have carrageenan, which will kill you! Instead, make your own from scratch. Please note, though, that it must be infused with unicorn saliva, or else it will be unhealthy and still likely to kill you.
  • You must cook solely from scratch, using only organic produce that you foraged from your local forest/city park/vaguely terrifying remote wilderness populated only by militiamen and aspiring Unabombers/whatever.
  • Get at least one hour of exercise per day. And, as one of my track coaches used to say, if you’re not on the brink of barfing or passing out, you’re not working hard enough.
  • Meditate whenever you’re not actively oil pulling, foraging, exercising, cooking, making toothpaste using your artisanal mortar and pestle, or hunting down unicorn saliva.
  • Never allow yourself to experience stress. Always be filled with serenity, gratitude, happiness, and positivity. Horrific tragedy is no match for the power of positive thinking!!!1!
  • Make every effort to be the perfect parent. Not doing so will irrevocably screw up your kids for the rest of their lives. Having screwed up kids will stress you out, which will kill you.
  • Sleep at least 8-9 hours per night.

 

Unicorn SalivaBasically, it comes down to this: 1) at the end of the day, most people are just doing the best they can with what they have, and 2) scaring everyone into doing 80 kajillion more things to keep our lives from killing us probably isn’t going to help.

Yeah, I get that “scary” and “this everyday thing could kill you” make great click-bait – it appears that in the health world, fear seems to sell far more than sex ever could – but after my “this is bullsh*t” epiphany, I’ve become acutely aware, and exceedingly tired, of fear-mongering headlines and articles.

But look: we can’t all take the time to make a bajillion DIY products, 8-9 hours of sleep is sometimes outright impossible (shout-out to all those with newborns or, hey, any children under age 12), and there are plenty of times when people really do need anti-anxiety/depression medication. Ain’t no shame in any of it, folks. You play the cards you’re dealt.

So, in calling bullsh*t on a lot of the aforementioned fear mongering in a lot of health literature, I’ve decided that I’ll continue doing the best I can with what I have. Buying mostly organic, using glass food storage, and using non-toxic household products and cosmetics wherever possible? I’m on it.

However, I’ve decided to quit freaking out about drinking the bottled water at work (plastic bottles > lead pipes), the occasional serving of canned soup, my store-bought shampoo and body wash (Pantene and Dove 4-EVAH, yo), the absolutely necessary antiperspirant, my beloved almond milk, and the fact that it saps all my personal willpower and discipline just to make myself floss regularly. (To my dentist: Sorry, dude. But it really is onerous.)

After all, trying to add oil pulling, detoxing, and DIY almond milk-making to my schedule would make me totally lose it.

And that would probably kill me.

Updates Galore

Since it’s been a while (cue Aaliyah! “It’s been a long time/we shouldn’t have left you/without a dope beat to step to”), I figure I owe y’all a an update on the various goings-on over the last few months.

In my last post before my long hiatus, I was waxing poetic about how much I miss Colorado. Thankfully, Brandon and I were able to head out there a desperately needed two-week vacay in February, which was awesome. What wasn’t awesome was the weather, which was predicted to be in the 40’s and 50’s and gorgeous, only to be revised (on the day we arrived, no less) as highs of 3 and wind chills of -20.  So, while we didn’t get to hike much, we did get to watch a lot of movies — and we got to see some of my favorite people, which made me sublimely happy. I did get one very brief hike in, juuuuuust as the weather improved before we flew back to DC — and of course, I had to take pictures for posterity. This is from one of my favorite local trails:

 

Bear Creek Trail

Oh, and the Broncos lost the Super Bowl. Guys, I knew it was doomed from the moment I saw that first fumbled snap. I’m not a big drinker under normal circumstances, but I made a considerable dent in my dad’s GF beer supply during the course of that game. As soon as the snap was fumbled, my dad and I exchanged one of those “oh, sh*t” glances and helped ourselves to a few adult beverages. (In case anyone is wondering, Colorado has some awesome GF beer.) To illustrate how much I love my Broncos, on the Friday before game day, I wore this shirt to work:

 

Broncos Country
I think this solidifies my candidacy for upper management, does it not?

 

While Seattle obviously played a great game and Seahawks fans have every right to be thrilled about the outcome of that particular massacre, I’m not going to want to talk to any Seattle fans about that game for a very, very long time. In fact, probably not ever. As the game concluded, I put up a PSA on Facebook to let everyone know that if any Seattle fans talk any trash to me, ever, about this game, I will summarily de-friend them. Because my devotion to the Broncos obviously comes before human relationships. I’m nothing if not logical, folks. (As an example of my irrational sports fanaticism, I still loathe the University of Michigan after they beat my beloved Colorado College hockey team, in double overtime, for the NCAA national championship…in 1995. Now I rabidly root for them to lose in all sports, all the time. But I don’t carry grudges, I swear!)

Once we got back to DC, we were met with equally frigid and snowy weather as what we’d experienced in Colorado. The good part of this was that we had a bunch of snow days off from work – yay! – but the bad news was that once we did return to the office, my bus stop looked like this:

 

Bus Stop with Snow
To give you a sense of scale here, the ice was up to my knees. It was fun times.

 

I mean, who doesn’t like a treacherous, icy schlep to work in the mornings?! They’re beloved by everyone, obviously. Thankfully, winter fiiiinnnaaaalllly seems to be releasing its vise-grip on DC, since today is supposed to be gorgeous and warm. Despite the incoming pollen-bomb, my inhaler and I are totally going to take advantage of the sunshine by going for a run outside this afternoon. I may be a wheezy, sneezing mess by the time I get back, but I think it’ll probably be worth it. (Albuterol, don’t fail me now.)

Lastly, and most exciting, two weeks ago I had a re-biopsy to see where things stand with my endometrial cancer treatment, and the results look good! Things aren’t totally back to normal, since the cells have regressed into a pre-cancerous stage — but this means that a) the cancer itself is gone, and b) the meds are working. HAPPY DANCE!

 

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Colbert + Kermie = best happy dance ever

 

The state they’re in right now is basically a half-way point: when endometrial cancer develops, cells go from being normal to pre-cancerous to cancerous — so in treating it, the meds are supposed to make it go in the opposite direction. Since the meds are doing exactly that, my doctors are really encouraged that a bit more time will hopefully knock this out for good. I’ll remain on the progesterone treatment for another six months before we re-biopsy, and hopefully by then things will have returned to normal. My fingers are crossed — but, should you feel compelled, please feel free to light a candle/say a prayer/sacrifice a goat to add some oomph to my cause.

So, that’s a recap of the most notable goings-on during my blogging hiatus. I hope all you lovely people have been doing well!

TGIF, Holiday Gift Guides, and Other Fun Things

Good morning, and happy Friday!

It’s a rainy morning outside, but I’m excited because it’s about to get chilly up in here. Yesterday it got up to a whopping 66 degrees — which, while enjoyable for a day or so, feels kind of strange for December. I did, however, take advantage of it as much as possible with a walk to Whole Foods and a 4 mile run around the National Mall. It’s always wonderful to get outside and get some fresh air!

Speaking of Whole Foods, I picked up this grocery bag there, and I’m convinced it’s the cutest grocery bag ever. We have a ridiculous surplus of reusable bags, but I couldn’t resist this little guy. I mean, it’s a baby stegosaurus om nom noming an apple! (The tag says he’s a generic monster, but I beg to differ. He’s clearly a stegosaurus.)

 

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Anyways, today I’m sheltering myself from the rain by working from home. I don’t often get to do this, but I was given a project that has some flexibility — so, for the first time in the five years since I moved back to DC, I’m chillin’ in my home office. I had one other day of working from home a few weeks ago, and OMG. It was sublime.

I expect today to be similarly fabulous: I’ve got a warm cup of tea, and I fully intend to spend the day looking like a total schlub in my yoga pants and sweatshirt. (Yoga pants > work pants. In fact, yoga pants > work pants by a power of 10,000. Also, can we talk about how work shoes/heels are actually instruments of torture? Every single pair is giving me horrible blisters now. Even my old faithfuls have started tearing up my skin when I wear them for more than 10 minutes. And, because I have super narrow feet and struggle to find shoes that fit, I reeeaaaaalllly don’t want to have to go shoe shopping. Blergh.)

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And, on a wholly separate topic (or, as the Monty Python boys say, “An now for something completely different!), when I had some downtime the other day I started scouring various holiday gift guides for some shopping inspiration.

I don’t know about you guys, but holiday shopping makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide. I haaaaate large crowds, and I especially hate large crowds filled with frantic holiday shoppers. This is made even worse by the fact that I often don’t know what to buy for people (why is everyone I love so hard to shop for?!), which means I’m forced to browse among the aforementioned awful crowds of frantic holiday shoppers.

 

 

Like I said, it makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide. Happily, though, I’ve been doing most of my holiday shopping online for the last few years (Amazon: you complete me), so that’s made things better.

However, coming up with gift ideas is still a challenge. Because I can’t deal with that whole hot mess of guesswork anymore, this year I sent my parents and brother an email saying that they were forbidden – absolutely, totally, unequivocally banned – from saying things like “Oh, I don’t know what I want” or “Oh, just get me something you think I’d like.” I told them that I need definitive ideas, or at least a list of places they’d like gift cards to, because I’m not taking shots in the dark on this anymore.

If that’s not the embodiment of holiday cheer, I don’t know what is.

Anyways, for those of us who aren’t heartless enough to give their nearest and dearest holiday ultimatums, a lot of awesome healthy living websites have been compiling some great holiday gift guides. If there’s a foodie, athlete, or health junkie in your life (or, possibly, someone in need of healing), these lists could help with gift-giving inspiration.

For foodies: Greatist has an awesome list of kitchen gadgets, edible goodies, and books that will light up the eyes of any foodie or kitchenista (yeah… I totally just made that word up) in your life.

For athletes: Girls Gone Sporty, one of my favorite online health and fitness resources, has a fantastic gift-finder. You can search gifts for men, women, and teens – and you can sort the options by price, gift type (relaxation, athletic tools, etc.), so it’s super user-friendly. FitSugar also has a list of Practical Stocking Stuffers for Fitness Fans, and it’s chock-full of great ideas.

For eco-mavens: Well + Good features a lovely list of five gifts for a healthy, stylish home.

For those who love healthy living or are looking to get healthier: Meghan Telpner, author of UnDiet and nutritionista extraordinaire, compiled a fantabulous gift list for just about anyone who’s interested in health and wellness. Truth be told, I’d gladly accept every single thing on her list. Especially the meal delivery. Sweet fancy Moses, the meal delivery. If I had a week off from cooking dinner, I’d be so excited I’d probably faint.

 

Anyways, with allllll that being said, happy Friday! And now, I want to hear from you…

Do you ever get to work from home?

Do you like cold weather around the holidays?

Do you love or loathe holiday shopping?

What’s the best gift you ever bought/made for someone?

What’s the best gift you ever received?

 

Yoga, Sans the Class

Fact: I love yoga. Like any red-blooded, alternative medicine/eastern philosophy-inclined Colorado native, I’ve been interested in yoga since I was a teenager.

When I was 17, I jumped at the chance to take a yoga class at the local Y. However, since this was after we’d moved to rural Pennsylvania from my beloved Colorado, I was the only person who signed up. It just was me and the instructor — a hippie-rific older gentleman who seemed sorely out of place in north-central PA — for all of two sessions before the Y cancelled the class due to lack of interest.

At that point the extent of my yoga instruction learning to sit in lotus position and belt out a resounding “om,” but that was about it.

I wound up picking up yoga DVDs and books in the years that followed, and after a few years of doing DIY yoga and the occasional free class at the university gym (both when I was in Israel and then during grad school), I figured I was ready to hit up some legit classes. Once I was back in DC, I figured I’d find a studio and get my asana on.

Well. As it turns out, I really don’t like going to yoga classes. I went to a Bikram studio, where I schvitzed a river while the other women — all of whom appeared to be 50 pounds skinnier and a few million dollars wealthier than me — merely glistened. I tried free classes at Lululemon, which were filled with Judgy McJudgerson types who’d throw shade at anyone using stability blocks for support. I went to a Vinyasa studio where the other women would do a little “more enlightened/flexible than thou” smirk while doing handstands on their eyeballs. I even went to one class at my gym during which the instructor looked at me, arched one eyebrow in annoyance, and said, quite loudly, “Oh. You’re new.”

Yes ma’am: I’m new here, and I’m never coming back.

Namaste

After all this, I realized my most enjoyable yoga classes had been the ones I took in Israel. Which were conducted entirely in Hebrew. Which posed a significant challenge for someone who was just starting to learn Hebrew. Which meant that if I was more comfortable in classes in which I barely spoke the language, the classes in the U.S. weren’t my cup of tea.

So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered online, do-this-at-home resources like YogaDownloads. I’ve been all over that stuff like white on rice, and while I do love a lot of the classes, I’ve also learned something about myself and my yogic style, if you will: I’m slow.

I’m like the brontosaurus (I know, I know: apatosaurus is the correct name, but so help me God, I’m sticking with the terminology I know and love!) of yoga, in that I move at a lumbering pace. My yoga flow is more reminiscent of refrigerated molasses than anything else. Half the time when I do to yoga classes at home, the instructor is calmly telling me to go into down dog, but I just got into up dog, and I haven’t even done plank yet, and then I’m all,

“HolycrapthisladyisfivestepsaheadofmeIcan’tgetcaughtupaaaaagghhh!”

https://i1.wp.com/420furs.org/images/1310996683812387278.jpg

 

It’s SO not zen. Knowing this, I decided to go even more DIY than I was before: I pulled out my old yoga books, which talk about the purposes and benefits of each pose, and then conduct my own little impromptu class based on what I think my body needs at the moment. If I’m feeling nervous, I do some heart-openers. If I accidentally get glutened, I do poses that help soothe GI distress. It’s totally ad-hoc, and I love it.

In addition to the fact that I’m not trying frantically to keep up with an instructor, I’m also really diggin’ the fact that the “class,” if you can call it that, goes for exactly as long as I want or need it to. If I’m pressed for time in the morning, I bust out a few warrior sequences before breakfast. If I’m increasingly sleepy before going to bed, I do a few minutes of Hatha sequences before I zonk out (and probably drool on my pillow).

I think this makes me the most non-yogic yogi ever, but obviously this gig works for me.

Do y’all do yoga? Do you do it on your own, or do you take classes? What do you like best?

WIAW + A New Routine

Good morning, everyone — happy Wednesday! The countdown to the weekend (and not just any weekend, but a glorious long weekend) is now officially on.

This week also marks the start of a new routine for me: after pushing myself through coffee-fueled morning workouts for the last few years, my efforts to give up the java mean that morning workouts are now — how to put this gently? — utterly effing impossible. I’m monumentally zonked when I first wake up, so I needed the high-octane jet fuel to get me through a morning sweat session.

Left to my body’s own devices, though, I vastly prefer to work out in the late afternoon. I don’t know if this is a circadian rhythm thing or just a leftover habit from years of after-school sports, but sometime between 2:30 – 4 is totally the Goldilocks zone for me. Before I go to work is too early (because I’m too tired), and after I get home from work is too late (because 1) I have to cook dinner, and 2) by that time I’m so hungry I can barely stand it and I’m liable to straight-up maim anyone who stands between me and a snack).

 

 

But 3:30? It’s perfect.  I look forward to it all day, and by 3:30 I’m all “GYM TIME! GET EXCITED! WOOHOOOOO!”

We have a gym at work that would allow me to work out during the aforementioned Goldilocks zone, but since it costs money, I’ve been avoiding that path in favor of using the free gym in our building. Now that I’m on my new coffee-free schedule, however, one thing is clear: I gotta suck it up and join this gym.

I took a tour of it, and it’s not bad at all: there are lots of cardio machines, lots of nautilus weights and free weights, and unlimited towel service. Apparently it gets slow right around the time when I want to hit it up, so hopefully this will go well.

So, as of today I have some extra gear to carry with me: my gym bag. I’ll let you know how it goes!

With all that being said, on to today’s main event: What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by the lovely Jenn from Peas & Crayons.

 

This has been another week of Weight Watchers-friendly foods, obviously (because one can’t commit to re-joining WW and then proceed not to eat accordingly):

I’m much like a Hobbit, in that I’m a big fan of first and second breakfasts. My first breakfasts always involve tea with multi-grain GF toast and a tiny bit of nut butter, just to get me up and moving around. Second breakfast usually happens between 9 and 10:30, when I’ll have a healthified Morning Glory muffin, egg whites, and a banana.

 

Gluten Free Morning Glory Muffins

Lunches have been super consistent, as I’ve been craving one thing and one thing only: Moroccan lentil stew mixed with Imagine Creamy Carrot Almond soup and bulked up with with baked sweet potato and wilted spinach. (Wow, that’s a mouthful. I mean that both literally and figuratively.) This recipe is warming like a mofo: it has fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, and loads of savory spices — so as far as I’m concerned, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Snacks have involved loads of produce: apples, celery, grapes, Thai cole slaw, and bell peppers with hummus.

Dinners, meanwhile, are when I tend to protein-load: we’ve had things like baked pesto chicken, turkey burgers with spinach and reduced-fat feta, chicken salad with chickpeas and basil, and GF pasta with broccoli and Italian chicken sausage.

I decided not to take pictures of everything for each meal, because it becomes time consuming like you wouldn’t believe. (This may just be a by-product of the fact that I’m a perfectionist and thus prone to fixating on the idea that the pictures have to be perfect before I put them up here, or it may be that it just really is time consuming. I have no idea.) So, instead, I made a collage with some of the gustatory highlights of the week:

 

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It’s waaaaaaay easier. And I gotta tell you, I’m a big — nay, colossal — fan of things that are easy.

Questions du jour:

What time of day do you like to work out? Do you find that you have more stamina/endurance at a particular time?

What was your food highlight of the week?

P.S. A quick STL housekeeping note: I’m going to reply to all your comments soon — things have been busy, so I apologize for the delay! A comment reply binge will follow shortly, I promise. 🙂

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K*

* And by Circle K, I mean the gym. I know, it’s not super accurate — but I couldn’t resist the temptation to use one of my favorite quotes from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Anyways, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve seen some really weird stuff in my years of gym-going.

Some of the most bewildering things have happened in the locker room, because this is a place where people feel it’s completely acceptable to parade around butt nekkid in front of strangers. Call me old-fashioned, but this creeps me out.

The worst case of this happened when I was working as a lifeguard during grad school. My usual routine was to hit the gym before my shift and then change into my pool gear in the fitness center locker room, but this became increasingly untenable. Why, you ask? Because and every day, without fail, there was a patron who’d prance around said locker room wearing only a leopard-print thong and clear lucite heels. She’d do her hair and make-up in this get-up, and would strike pouty supermodel poses in the mirror while doing so.

Not only was this bizarre and incredibly awkward, but I also I began to question my own perception of reality. Had I somehow wound up in the back room of a strip club instead of the locker room of the fitness center? Was I losing my mind?

Thankfully, I’ve had a gym in my apartment building for the last 4 years — so I’ve been able to avoid the dreaded locker room weirdness. In recent years, though, I’ve started to realize that apartment gyms have their own weird cast of characters. Behold, the following cases in point:

  • The dude who wears street clothes — and not just any street clothes, but jeans and a button down shirt under a sweater — as his workout attire. How is this not incredibly uncomfortable? I mean, I sweat like a wildebeest when I work out in shorts and a t-shirt, so I can’t imagine how he doesn’t feel like he’s suffocating under multiple layers of regular clothes as he huffs and puffs on the treadmill.
  • The chick who wears a full face of make-up for her workout. Maybe it’s because I have sensitive, zit-prone skin that practically looks for an excuse to break out, but my only discernible thought when I see women schvitzing through their copious foundation is HOLY ZIT INCUBATION, BATMAN. Bacteria! Sweat! Clogged pores! Complexion devastation! Whhhhyyyyyyy?
  • The dude who gets on the bike and pedals blissfully while drinking three — count ’em, three — big cups of jet-fuel strength black coffee. Now, I love coffee. (Y’know, hence the name of this blog.) But when I can smell someone’s high-octane java from 20 feet away, it’s kind of absurd. I also question the wisdom of drinking coffee while working out: I mean, it’s a diuretic. It dehydrates you like a mofo.  I get thirsty — insanely, deliriously thirsty — when I’m at the gym, and the idea of quenching that thirst with a cuppa joe, especially one so strong it could double as propulsion fuel for a rocket, makes my kidneys want to jump out of my body while waving little white flags of surrender.
  • The dude who gets on the elliptical and goes into what can only be described as uber-rabid-beast mode. Simply being in beast mode isn’t enough for him — no, he’s pedaling so fast and hard that the machine is swaying and making horrible noises reminiscent the scene from Titanic when the boat is sinking and breaking in half. Homeslice, I get it: you’re more hardcore than all of Seal Team Six combined. But the machine is showing signs of metal fatigue, and you don’t want to meet your demise at the hands of an elliptical that can’t handle the brute force of your very existence.

I can’t be the only one who sees weird people doing weird things at the gym, right?

It’s storytime, folks: have you ever seen things that made you pull a Scooby-esque “BWWWEH?!” while working out?

Adventures in Juicing

Around the time when we put together our wedding registry a few years ago, I’d started reading all about the wonders of juicing. This was excellent timing: because wedding registries are an awesome way to stock your kitchen with amazing appliances, I seized the opportunity and put a juicer on our registry.

Granted, it went on along with approximately 8,000 other things. I was never into wedding planning, and I definitely hadn’t been dreaming of/imagining my wedding day since I was a little girl. I had, however, been planning/dreaming of my wedding registry since I started cooking. (Which was in high school. Which meant I’d been mentally compiling a registry full of kitchen appliances since I was 17. Which meant I might’ve gotten a little too excited about putting together our registry in real life.)

But I digress. Back to my grand designs for the juicer: I was totally going to use it every day! I was going to be a juicing goddess! It was going to be great!

Well. As it turns out, I’m lazy. Juicers make a mess, and they’re hard to clean. We used it exactly once – that is until this week, when I’ve suddenly morphed into the juicing fiend I always hoped I’d be. It’s a murricle!

I’ve been juicing up a storm and combining all manner of produce. As luck would have it, these comics showed up on the first few days of our adventures in juicing:

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I tend not to like juices that are super earthy or overly vegetable-y (I do, however, like making up words like vegetable-y), so I decided to nix combinations like beet-kale-cucumber right off the bat. Instead, I’ve been running experiments with fruit and veggie combinations. In the interest of playing it safe at first, I decided to start with a carrot-orange base, which I know I like. Thus far, I’ve tried the following concoctions:

Carrot-orange-mango

Carrot-orange-pineapple

Carrot-orange-apple

The assessments:

Carrot-orange-mango was a bit too heavy on the mango. It also was really pulpy, which I didn’t love. (A direct quote from my inner monologue: “Huh. It’s really pulpy. The juicer is supposed to make it be not pulpy. WHY IS IT SO PULPY?”)

Carrot-orange-pineapple was just a wee bit too sweet and too acidic for my taste. I love pineapple, but sometimes it makes my teeth hurt (no joke – I have to be judicious in my pineapple consumption, even though I love the stuff), so I decided to let this one go in the “close, but no cigar” column.

Carrot-orange-apple was a winner! It was just sweet enough without being overly sweet, and the apple added some extra depth of flavor (which turned out to be delicious). Here’s a slightly art deco-ish shot of the winning concoction:

 

Now, of course, I’m all about broadening my juicing horizons. However, that excludes horizons that could lead to juices that taste like snail burps — so I figure this calls for some crowd-sourcing.

With that in mind, do any of you good people make your own juices? What are your favorite combinations?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (Or, Why I’ve Been AWOL from the Blogosphere for Three Months)

So, as y’all may or may not have noticed, I’ve been on an extended hiatus from blogging lately. And by “extended,” I mean three months. Which, in the blogging world, is basically an eternity. (I don’t know if I even have readers anymore. Is anyone out there? Please come back?)

This wasn’t a hiatus that I’d expected or wanted to take; to the contrary, on the day of my last post, I had every intention of blogging merrily along. Life, however, had some other plans.

As you might recall, starting in late May I had some fairly serious, shall we say, lady-troubles. I wound up having a uterine polyp removed in early July, which solved the Flaming Lady-Troubles of Death problem – but as it turns out, the story didn’t end there.

On July 11, my OB/GYN called to give me the results of the pathology report on the polyp. Fact: when your doctor starts the conversation by saying “The results of your path report were really, really surprising,” you know that things are about to go in an unpleasant direction.

As it turned out, the polyp was playing hostess to a party-crashing group of cancer cells. Um, WTF?

The bad news: Multiple pathologists had confirmed the presence of cancer in the polyp.

The good news: The cancer cells were very early-stage, low-grade, and non-aggressive. In other words, it’s highly treatable.

 

You are stronger than you think.

 

Endometrial cancer usually shows up in post-menopausal women, so the normal course of treatment is a hysterectomy. Being 32 and still wanting to have children, however, is a game-changer.  In the interest of preserving my fertility, my OB/GYN and gynecologic oncologist opted for three months of high-dose hormone treatment, followed by another round of tests to see if the hormones had knocked out any remaining cancer cells.

The hormone treatment does the trick 80% of the time – so as you can imagine, my fingers are crossed that I’m part of that 80% and can thus hold off on yanking my baby-making bits (for now, at least, since it’ll all need to go once my child-bearing days have passed).

When I first got the news, though, I was in complete shock. I was at work when I got the call, and I very nearly vomited on my desk. My whole body shook like mad as I wrote down everything my doctor said. My handwriting looked like that of a six-year-old.

I mean, I’m young, I eat well, I exercise – how could my body just go rogue like that? (Side bar for a brief public service announcement: ladies and gents [if the dudes haven’t gotten grossed out and stopped reading, that is], if anything seems off or just generally out of whack with your body, go to the doctor. Get it checked. It’s never, ever a waste of time to make sure that nothing sinister is going on.)

My doctor, luckily, was and is incredibly compassionate. Over and over, she gently told me that I’d done nothing wrong, and that there was nothing I could’ve done differently to keep this from happening. It was a case of a hereditary genetic mutation gone awry and plain bad luck.

I started the hormone treatment that night – endometrial cancer feeds on estrogen, so I take uber-high doses of progesterone twice a day – and began to wrap my head around the fact that this really was happening.

 

Look forward with hope quote via Alanna Chasin (AKA the Dog Buddha)

 

The process of wrapping my head around the situation took a while, and the fact that it took me a long time to feel up to writing about this came as a bit of a surprise. Writing and exercise have always been my go-to forms of DIY therapy. Writing is my catharsis, my release, and my home. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

A bit part of why I didn’t write until now is the fact that I don’t want to be forever branded as a cancer patient. I was torn between wanting to let people know what’s going on and my deep desire not to be labeled as “Lillian, that chick who has cancer.”

Now, I also want to note that there’s no right or wrong way to deal with the Big C. There are people who take great comfort in being part of a community of current patients and survivors, and those communities are often wonderful sources of support. There are also a lot of people who find tremendous purpose, meaning, and hope through activism and other activities. More power to all these folks! Many of them are doing amazing and inspiring work, and they deserve a ton of credit for what they do.

For me, though, my visceral reaction was – and is – that I want to get through this, get better, and put it all behind me. I don’t want cancer to be the focal point of my life or my writing.

So, while the issue of the rogue elements in my baby-making parts will certainly show up here from time to time (especially since I have my next  round of tests coming up next week), it isn’t going to be the sole focus of this little slice of the blogosphere.  I continue to love – and will continue to write about – normal things like food and fitness, as well as generally inane things like celeb gossip, cosmetics, and flavored coffee. It’s all good.

And, most of all, it’s good to be back.

{Currently…}

Good morning, y’all! Hopefully your Thursday is off to a good start, or at least a tolerable start. 😉

I haven’t done a Currently post in a while, so I figured I’d hop back on that bandwagon. So, without further ado, a list of current goings-on:

Currently…

…In heavy rotation on my iPhone:

Radioactive, The Other Side, My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark, and Come and Get It (I know I should be totally ashamed by the fact that I find a Selena Gomez song so effin’ catchy, but really, that ish is pretty awesome).

…Awaiting with baited breath:

The arrival of the royal baby. Much like the Selena Gomez situation, I know I shouldn’t care about stuff like this — but whatevs, I kind of adore Wills and Kate. Add to that the fact that I’m a total Anlgophile, aaaaand…royal baby obsession it is! Also: please be a girl, wee regal fetus.

Tabloids can pretty much never be trusted, so who knows whether this is actually true or a pile o’ BS.

…Reading:

Mind Over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin, and I’m loving every second of it. This is an amazing book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! (I’ll do a separate and more detailed post on this awesome tome once I’ve finished it, just because it’d be kinda ridiculous to do a full post on something I’m 40% of the way through.)

…Craving:

A yoga session followed by a big green smoothie, grilled chicken with avocados, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (WHY OH WHY did I take them to work?!), and as much summer fruit (nectarines, cherries, grapes, berries, etc.) as I can consume.

…Excited About:

The fact that my one week of post-op rest is finally up, and I seem to finally be recovering from the epic glutening earlier in the week — which means I can start being active again! I’m going to take it easy today with some yoga, and tomorrow I’ll return to the gym (during which time I’ll shamelessly catch up on Scandal).

I’m also seriously, insanely excited about our impending vacacation to Colorado later this month. I haven’t been home in over 18 months, and I’m craving Colorado time like woah. I can’t wait to see my parents and my brother, hang out with old friends, visit extended family who I haven’t seen since the wedding, hike like a madwoman, eat my weight in gluten-free goodies that haven’t yet made their way out East, breathe mountain air, and celebrate our anniversary with a trip to Elway’s and a hike around the Flatirons.

…Watching:

Our DVR has gotten surprisingly sparse lately, which is really saying something considering how many shows we have set to record. We’re all caught up on North America — as a tangent, I’d like to note that a show prominently showcasing the West is slightly problematic for someone like me, who happens to be desperately homesick for that part of the country — and are now on a rampage through the original seasons of Arrested Development. Second tangent: that show is amazeballs. I know I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating.

So, that’s a wrap! I hope y’all have an awesome day — here’s to it being almost Friday (why, oh why, must every weekday basically just be a countdown to the weekend?)!

What are you up to lately?

What are you looking forward to the most?

What are you listening to/watching while at the gym?