Monday, February 28, 2011

I Had A Secret: The Reveal

Well, not just me keeping the secret.  It was Shelley and me holding it together.  We had big plans people, really big plans.  The secret was that I started training for a half marathon while Shelley was training for her half marathon in Austin.  Shelley was going to run Austin then back her training up and ramp it up again to run the half at the Armadillo Dash.  And I was going to Texas to run it with her on March 6th.  We've been training, emailing, texting and so looking forward to finally getting to meet each other in person.  Included in our larger than life plans was that I was going to come in and stay a couple of days after the race so Shelley could try to get in touch with some of the other Texas bloggers - Roxie, Kelly, Anne, and maybe even MizFit and see if we could get around to meeting some of our other virtual friends face to face!

But then, stuff happened.  It started after Shelley did her 10 mile long run, with an achey ankle.  She nursed it, cursed it, and finally ended up going to the doctor who told her "no running!" and to rest it.  But still, we clung to hope that our plans would come to completion.

You know one of the things I've learned in life is that sometimes when a wrench gets thrown into your plans, sometimes it's just the first sign that maybe the universe has other plans for you and is just choosing not to reveal them yet.  But with time reasons are revealed, and the next thing we knew, Shelley's mom was diagnosed with cancer.  Then, on her next visit to the doctor, because her ankle wasn't getting better, he said, "No running for 6-8 weeks!"

Ahhh, there it is.  As you know I'm a big believer in signs and although it sucks, I feel like Shelley's ankle "happened" because she was going to need to be sidelined and not even have to worry about thinking about her training or her planned races because ultimately she would need to be with and care for her mom.  And so, the best laid plans....

But then, suddenly, last week I had another secret.  I didn't tell anyone except Mr. Helen and even then I only told him right at the last minute because I didn't want him to slip and tell anyone.

There is a Half Marathon race here that is run every February and it's done no matter the weather.  The race director is a local guy who just loves running.  It has the feel of  a guy that wants to throw a big party and he asks some of his friends to help with the party and some of his friends to come to the party. Just a few years ago it only cost $2 to enter it - probably so he could pay for the Gatorade.  the cost is up to $12 now but even then on the application it says if you can't afford the fee, just come and run and maybe next year you could pay a little extra. This is a 'no frills at all' race.  No medals and only 3 water/Gatorade stops (in 13.1 miles!), although they have added part chip timing. You do it for the glory of saying that you did it.  This race is known to be hilly and to challenge even the best runners.  No PRs are set on this course.  I've never run it and have pretty much actively avoided it because I've heard the stories of the hills.

So last week a couple of my runner friends contacted me and started poking at me about running the race since my plans had gone awry. Even though I was about 90% trained to do a half marathon (didn't get in my last long run)  I had every excuse in the world, "I can't because I'm undertrained.  I've been on a treadmill too much - no hill training at all.  My longest run was only 10.2 miles that's not long enough.  I've been under super stress with my inlaws lately! What if I'm last?  What if the sweeper car makes me get in?  What if I totally suck?"

But my friends just kept after me, even offering to pay fee,  telling me I needed it as a stress reliever and one finally said, "well you're all trained up and nowhere to run so why not?" and that made me cave.  But why did I give in? I was still feeling all those terrors... but I couldn't shake the feeling that it was what I should do. Do it for Shelley because she couldn't run and also because I wanted to do it for Judy (Shelley's mom).  To show them they could face the unknown and conquer it.  I'm not kidding people, I was terrified of this race.  So, I kept the secret and I didn't even tell Shelley.  It was hard, but I really wanted it to be a surprise for her. (Also, just in case I backed out at the last minute.  Shhhhhh.....)

Friday I worked on hydration and carbs - woohoo - carbs for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  Saturday morning I got up bright and early to get my hydration going and to eat some breakfast.  I had typical race day jitters and my race day stomach.  A familiar feeling that doesn't go away until the gun goes off to start the race.  My girlfriend picked me up (I think she was afraid I'd back out lol!) and and off we went...

Interested in how I did... if I finished?
Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fat Cat

No, I'm not describing myself.  If I was I would have used the word "chubby" or "big round ball of stress" because that's about where I'm at right now.

I'm talking about feeling like a fat cat licking it's chops due to the package-a-palooza that has greeted me at home in the last two days.  What a haul!

Back in December and maybe early January (time flies) I entered several blog giveaways and to my suprise won a couple within days of each other.  All the things arrived in the last two days.

First there was my Popchip haul from Mr. Jack Sh*t.  What a great package this is - 6 single serving bags of various Popchip flavors, along with a chip clip and a coupon book that has several coupons for free bags of chips, buy one get one and dollar off! I like every single flavor and haven't even been able to decide which one to have first. Thank you Jack!

Then I got the giveaway I won from the lady who was my first follower, Katie J. Tosca Reno's Clean Eating Diet Cookbook, a really cute journal, Secrets of a Former Fat Girl, and magnets!  I noticed on the magnet package that a portion of the sale went to breast cancer research - I love that! Thank you Katie.

Lastly, I got a gift from the beautiful Shelley.  She recently sponsored a giveaway for Rocco DiSpirito's Now Eat This autographed cookbook.  When she got hers, she looked it over and then surprised me and sent it to me saying, "I assemble meals, you actually cook.  I know you'll really enjoy this cookbook so much."  How sweet is that?  Thank you Shelley, you made my day! I promise I'll make some things and put them right here so you all can see them.

I mentioned above that I've been a big ball of stress. Whch is probably contributing some to my chubbiness or as Lori would say, "Snacky. Stress related much?"  Stress due to what we are dealing with with my inlaws.  This is not something that is going to be resolved easily or quickly. Stress because it should have been dealt with long ago - but it wasn't - so now we scramble.  We are basically living one day at a time right now combating the issues as they arise.

As it turns out - and who would have guessed back in December when I entered the giveaways -  these packages were right on time - just when I needed a little something to brighten my day, there they were.  As I was opening all these wonderful packages, I began to think about how great it is to be part of this blogging community.

The ironic thing is that each of the individuals who mailed off a package to me is under stress of their own.  Jack's wife Anita has a very serious eye condition and has had some emergency surgery.  They have been dealing with it as aggressively as they can so that she does not go completely blind.

Katie J., who has always known she was adopted, found her biological family in 2010.  During that process she found out her bio mom had passed away but that her bio dad was living in a nursing home.  She only had a couple of visits with him and he passed away too.  Just yesterday she laid his ashes to rest.  That's a lot for someone to deal with so suddenly.

Shelley's young, lively mom was diagnosed with cancer just a couple of weeks ago.  She wasn't feeling sick and certainly doesn't look sick.  She will be having surgery on Friday and while Shelley was able to go be with her mom for some wonderful and joyous pre-surgery days, this family is having to deal with the reality of cancer in their lives and what it will mean going forward.

And there are other bloggers who are dealing with sudden similar situations that have put their lives on a totally different track.  So we learn once again that the best laid plans can go awry and it's really about progress verses perfection. That all we can do, is to do the best we can with the situation we're in.  Sometimes it truly is one day at a time, or even a minute at a time.  I'm glad to have all of my blogging 'friends' who help me get through the day and make it a little brighter.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  When I was taking photos during my surprise Valentine Extravaganza, Mr. Helen said, "I don't want to end up on Facebook!"  I said, "I'm not putting these on Facebook."  Well, that was true.

9.  Until I watched The Social Network this past weekend, I had forgotten that Facebook has only been around  7 years.  In the first years it was only available to people on college campuses. Amazing to think how it has become such an integral part of our society in less than a decade.

8  Hello, my name is Helen and I have a magazine addiction.  I subscribe to several but still buy them impulsively when I go through the grocery checkout.  Recent real life conversation with Mr. Helen

Him: Please tell me you did not just add a magazine to that pile.  Weren't you just complaining that you can't catch up with the ones you have?

Me: But it's on sale - a dollar off!  Besides, look at that chicken pot pie on the cover, I want to try that!  Plus it's got a whole section of crockpot recipes and I can't read those while I'm in line!  Plus it's on sale!

Him:  Sigh.

7.  I still haven't made the pot pie or finished looking at that magazine either. Shut up.

6.  Which makes it even more ironic that I've been feeling cooking creativity fatigue lately. I think I'm tired of winter style foods as much as I'm tired of winter. Meal planning has been hard and even going through cookbooks hasn't helped. Thank goodness Mr. Helen isn't picky. He enjoys what I make but doesn't complain if I revert to breakfast for dinner or hamburgers or a store bought rotisserie chicken and salad.

5.  Exercise, which I almost never miss, has been spotty of late.  Too much stress and late nights around the issues with my inlaws.  Not to mention that I think I've really had it with winter.  Getting up at 4:15 to go run in a 15 degree garage just feels exhausting these days, not fun.  This morning the windchill was -1.  I'm tired of it. On the other hand, I know some exercise would probably reinvigorate and refresh me.  It's a wicked catch-22 really.
4.  We had a couple of spring like days last week where our temps hit 50.  Of course, it happened during the week, when I had to be at work and couldn't really enjoy them.  Then, of course the temps once again plummeted making it feel like Mother Nature had thrown a sucker punch.
3.  This weather rollercoaster caused several of my friends to complain on Facebook.  In one of the posts I read, a commenter said, "You're right.  Enough is enough.  I think Mother Nature needs to get laid by Father Time."  At this point, I couldn't agree more.

2. My mantra of late:  "Do the best you can with the situation you're in." For me, this amounts to not being so harsh on myself because my regularly scheduled life has been in an uproar.

1. The weather, my thyroid, and midlife hormones are teaching me that even at my best, I am not always the one in control. (See above mantra.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Best Intentions

I think most people navigate through life with thoughts and actions generally focused on getting the best outcome no matter what they are dealing with.  I mean, really, none of us go into a situation saying, "Well, I hope the worst thing possible happens," right?

But sometimes our best intentions can be completely derailed, simply because life happens.  In these past 4 days I have seen my best intentions with eating and exercise flying about looking for a landing pad. Eating has not been bad per se, just extremely erratic. Exercise, which is about 99% of the time a no miss for me, has become almost non-existent.

Last Thursday my father-in-law was rushed to the emergency room because he was choking and couldn't breathe.  Unfortunately he chose to have someone drive him there and not go by ambulance.  I say unfortunately because whomever was triaging decided that it would be OK for an 83 year old man to sit in a chair in the emergency room waiting area for almost 3 hours before he was put into a room to be examined.  One of my husband's cousins who is a nurse agreed that ER's are overwhelmed with uninsured/under insured people who walk in and use them as primary care physicians but she also stated that the triage nurse should know the difference between a person who cannot breathe and a person who may have a cold, flu, or strep throat.

It took another 6 hours before he was properly diagnosed and decision made to admit him.  I suspect the only reason it didn't take longer is that when the ER nurses had a shift change, a family friend came on as the charge nurse and when she saw what was going on, she pretty much took over his case and advocated to the doctor to get things moving along.  She also correctly diagnosed what was happening to him, which probably saved his life.

It took an additional 2 1/2 hours from the decision to admit to actually getting him in the room, which meant from time of arrival at the ER to time of arrival in the bed, it took 11 1/2 hours.  There is something very, very wrong with that.

The condition he had is life threatening and though he was admitted and they tried to stabilize him until morning, he almost died in the middle of the night.  Finally, an ENT was called in and that doctor immediately put him in the ICU. 

As I write this, after 3 days of IV anti-inflammatories and antibiotics he was moved to a respiratory step down unit where he finally got to eat some real food.  If he continues to progress he will be allowed to go home, but someone will need to stay with him as this condition can flare up quickly again even though he might still be on meds.

In the midst of all this, Mr. Helen and his siblings have suddenly been thrown into a situation they never hoped would happen:  the care of their mother who is in end stage Alzheimer's.

She should have had professional home care or been admitted to a certified nursing facility long before now but my father-in-law insisted on keeping her home.  Over the last year he has become progressively exhausted but refused to "give up" on her (his words).  I know for a fact that his best intentions were to let her be in her own home until the day she died.  He meant well but the facts are that his emotions got in the way of a good decision.  In turn, the kids have not known what to do because they have been in the very tenuous position of trying not to parent their parent.

Yet now, the best intentions of everyone have come to this, and the family is in crisis having to make some terrible, stressful, awful decisions that are way overdue.

As I witnessed the siblings' family meeting last night and saw the stress and emotions flying through the air like acrobats looking for a safety net, it occurred to me that there are times when we all need to lay down our best intentions and recalculate, readjust.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Giving the Finger

In an email 'conversation' with Shelley and Laurie we were talking about regular features on blogs.  I mentioned that I don't really have one, except maybe Tuesday Ten, which people seem to enjoy the randomness of.  I said I need to come up with another one, maybe for Fridays, but I couldn't do Fashion Friday because Shelley had already tradmarked that and besides, my running clothes don't match!  Shelley suggested I do an occasional Finger Friday where I show off my bi-weekly manicure.

So Shelley, here's Finger Friday, just for you!
Ate Berries in the Canaries by OPI


When I was reading comments on yesterday's blog, I happened to notice that part of the photo of the card Mr. Helen gave me was whited out by the camera flash.  I took another photo of it because it's really much funnier if you can see the nut.  I am STILL cracking up every time I look at that card!


Yesterday morning, I had my followup on my bad cholesterol as well as the usual thyroid and cortisol check that my doc does.  Once again, the results were a mixed bag.  For some reason my thyroid levels are creeping back up.  I'm only 1/10th of a point from having my meds increased, yet again.  I knew that.  I can tell by the way I feel and also by the fact that I'm not losing weight.  Cortisol still not good.  But she seems to think it's to be expected what with all the stress I've been through.  Cortisol is bad though because even if you don't feel puffy it makes you retain water and fat like a pig before slaughter.  Bad.  In her words, "Weight loss is pretty much a crapshoot for you right now, I'm sorry to say."

My cholesterol, however, due to my STELLAR consistency in following the mediterranean style diet she wanted me to follow, has dropped 25 points!  Which is the equivalent of a low dosage pill! So, even though my weight was exactly the same as it was last October (as she said, most likely due to those thyroid/cortisol nubmers), because that number dropped so much, she is going to continue to let me stay off the meds and try to bring it down more.  HURRAY!

How do you like me now cholesterol?  Why yes, I am giving you the finger!

Between the two of us we decided that the best course of action is for me to continue to try to be my best, healthy self and not worry about weight loss per se. After all people, I do know what healthy foods are and what a healthy portion looks like.  So for now, I'll keep eating lowfat/good fats 90% of the time, keep up my exercise, and just try to be the best I can be.  Eventually, the stars will align and I'll see weight loss, I'm sure.  But if I can keep that cholesterol managed and not have to take meds, that is a huge victory.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time After Time, The Grand Finale

This is part two of a two part blog.  Part one is here.

As Chris Montez' Time After Time played and I stood there with my mouth hanging open, I realized he indeed had actually thought out a plan and was surprising me in the biggest way.  There were all sorts of good smells coming from the stove area but I was told that I was not allowed to hang in the kitchen and to go freshen up.

When I came back downstairs he handed me a glass of wine and said, "Let's go sit down in the living room for a minute, before I have to get started cooking."  As we walked that way, I smelled them before I saw them...

Pink roses and chocolate?  Godiva chocolate? Pink roses are special to us because that is what I carried when we got married... he has given them to me only a very few times in our years together usually on an anniversary.  How special!

Godiva chocolate is my favorite and truffles are my favorite Godiva.  Hmmmm, which one should I have?

Definitely not a time to care about this! Throw it out.

Let me consult the map...

As I sat mulling over my chocolate options, Mr. Helen said he needed to start cooking and that I should stay OUT of the kitchen!  I did sneak around the corner to catch him working his magic - had to capture this memory you know.

A few minutes later he came in and handed me this and told me it was just a little something to hold me until dinner was ready.  I love shrimp cocktail!

Soon after he called me to come to the table...  when I saw it I had to stop and take a photo, it was so pretty and heartfelt.

Look at the delicious dinner he made me!  Gorgonzola crusted filet mignon, a creamy stuffed potato, and asparagus!  All from scratch, not to mention, Mr. Helen hates asparagus.  For him to make it for me?  That's a sign of true love! We figured out that the last time he made it for me was March 2, 1991 which was my birthday.  I guess he plans on making it for me every 20 years or so lol!

He was so proud of himself because he looked all the recipes up on the internet.  I was proud of him too but my head felt like it was going to explode!  Because honestly, I'm the more romantic one in our relationship.  I felt completely overwhelmed and just when I was wondering what alien had come and abducted my husband, he redeemed himself as we exchanged cards...

My card to him (yes, romantic)

His card to me... started romantic...

And then I was laughing so hard, I was crying!
 The inside said, "And I don't give those to just anybody."
There's my real husband!

 Here we are trying to capture how much fun we had... we suck at self portraits

Romance, Love, Laughter.  This was seriously a Valentine's I'll never forget. Who knew it could be this way on a Monday night?  Especially after all these years together.  It really does get better with time.  I love you Mr. Helen!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Time After Time, Part 1

It was interesting the see all the different reactions to Valentine's Day on the various social networking sites: Blogger, Facebook, Twitter.  There definitely seem to be two distinct camps of love it or hate it.  A lot of the hate it posts I saw came from single people who are not in romantic relationships right now, but there were a few from couples who seem to allow Hallmark and the florist lobby to pressure them that they need to feel or act a certain way.

I have always viewed the day as one to celebrate love - no matter who you are there is probably someone who you love, including, surely, your pet.  So no pressure.  Just an extra opportunity to say I love you to someone.

Mr. Helen and I have mostly been non-celebratory, in the traditional definition of the word, as generally we are in the midst of living our usual lives of work and recreational activities.  Last year he was working until 8 p.m. on Valentines so you understand what I mean.  Even when the day has fallen on the weekend, we at most exchange a card and have a homemade dinner, sitting at the table together, which as you know in these busy days is a celebration all in itself!  In other words, it's not a big hoopla for us.

As you know this year he was gone for the entire week before Valentine's.  I figured he'd be so sick of travel type food that he'd very much enjoy some good home cooking. When he arrived home on Saturday evening, I had made one of his very favorite dishes: Braciole with Creamy Polenta.  I told him that was my Valentine's dinner to him because I couldn't pull something like that together on Monday after work. We did sit at the table and enjoy a leisurely meal and talk about his week away.  Lovely.  On Sunday, I made another of his favorites: Chinese Chicken served with sticky rice and a salad with mandarin oranges, walnuts and a homemade vinaigrette.  He joked that he was enjoying how all this worked out - that he was lucky to get two Valentine's meals this year.

While I was pulling the chicken I also made a roasted vegetable dish that has eggplant, zuchhini, red peppers and fresh tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.  I will eat this concoction over brown rice for a hearty and satisfying lunch.  Mr. Helen smelled it roasting and asked me what it was.  When I told him he said, "Oh. That really goes will with 'my' special pork chops."   I replied that we were having the chicken not pork chops.

On Monday morning, which is his usual day off,  as I was leaving for work he told me he had to go in to turn in all his receipts and to check on some orders.  Then he casually said  that if he had time he might throw something together for dinner, otherwise we'd have leftovers.  When I got to work, I laughingly told a friend that I was pretty sure I was getting his pork chops and my veggie side dish as my Valentine's dinner - either that or leftovers.

When I got home Monday evening, I can only say to you that I was astonished when I walked through the door and he was standing there in his red shirt, grinning from ear to ear as he pressed play on his iPod and played the most impossibly corny song that makes me melt, simply because he tells me every time he hears it, it reminds him of me: Chris Montez, Time After Time.

But that was only the beginning of a Valentine's Day that I will never forget...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Ten: Ten Mile Run with a Crappy iPhone Camera

1.  I got to run outside last Saturday!  It's the first time in months.  Until last week we've had around two snowstorms per week and as I've shown you before, the huge piles of snow and narrowed roads made it dangerous to try to run outside.  But for Lori's Heart Healthy Weekend, I pledged 10 miles and really didn't want to do it on the treadmill.

2.  So I drove to the suburbs where there's much less traffic and I figured the roads might be wide enough to share with the occasional car. What I didn't count on was ice from the melting we'd had last week and heavy frost on the roads anywhere the sun hadn't hit.  Did you know that's as slick as ice to run on!  Look closely and you can see the ice on the side and the frost right down the middle.  Where am I supposed to run?!!

3. Sidewalks maybe?  Good idea!  Except there are no sidewalks.  There are ice skating rinks and trails though....

4. We are lucky to have two parks in this area, right next to each other, connected by paved roads that are usually clear.  And, this time of year, no traffic.  One is a summer camp, the other a state park.  I was in both of them for a few miles.

5.  It was cold there though, because the parks are near the ocean.  It was an interesting contrast to see the snowy land with the sea in the background. There was a breeze and it was time to get the heck out!

6.  This is a nice run because it is two loops and if I need to stop and get more water or anything, I can.  Hi Bluebelle!  Be back later!

7.  When you run long enough, you have to refuel. (See my Accelerade stuck there in the snow?) OK, I'm ready to rock and roll!

8. Hmmm, I think this is a summer home... these folks will be surprised to arrive for the season and find their evergreen snapped in half and probably permanent damage to the other tree - which is the only thing holding the broken part up!  Ooooh there's a decent sidewalk!

9.  Even though I heated up, the wind picked up, the sun went in, and it felt cold.  Makes me long for summer, sort of just like these guys...

10. But I so enjoyed this outside run - ice, cold and all.  There were hills people! Glorious hills to really exercise my legs properly!  (My legs were killing me on Sunday but it hurt soooooo good.)  Unfortunately, as they say, all good things must come to an end... until next weekend maybe?

(Can you tell I used my real camera for this last shot? )

Monday, February 14, 2011

True Love

Gracie gave us valentines.

She's even learning to write her name and she's not in kindergarten yet!

My heart melts.
I hope you have someone to make your heart melt, too.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


You know the photo I posted on the Tuesday Ten this week? I know some of you thought that was my cup, but it isn't, it's a picture Karen took of her cup. Last Friday, I was sitting quietly at my desk reading through my Facebook feed when I saw that picture. It took my breath away - it was like Pam came out of nowhere. I started crying. As I sat there a little bit shocked at how emotional and sharp my feelings were, deep down inside I knew it was Pam trying to send me a message. I felt that so strongly, I commented to Karen on the photo.

On Saturday, Mr. Helen and I were out running errands and he said, "It's crazy but in the last 36 hours several family members feel like Pam has sent them a message." My heart started pounding and my ears filled up like the sound of wind and I croaked out, "What? Who?" He said, " Well, Thursday night when I was leaving the dojo I was talking to Kyoshi and when we finished she grabbed my hand and said, 'Sensei, don't you worry, it's all good.'

Also on Thursday evening, my father-in-law was watching a show on TV and the singer/songwriter who was performing looked at the camera and said something along the lines that he had written the song he was about to sing because he felt like sometimes we grieve so much at the death of a loved one that we can't move forward and he really believed that those who pass are in a better place and would want us to know that "it's all good."

On Friday, one of my sisters-in law also had the words spoken to her, and along with me, another saw the words in a photo.  When I told Mr. Helen what happened to me he felt there could be no other explanation than Pam was trying to reach out to us.

While I have always believed in signs (often we ignore them, right?), I don't know that I've ever been part of one that was given to so many people at the same time. Perhaps we were the ones who needed the reassurance, the therapuetic benefit, of knowing that Pam really is at rest, and that we should carry on because it's all good.


The physical therapy on my butt/leg/hip has taken a turn and seems to be improving the issue. The one reason I love this therapist is that she is dogged in her determination to figure out how to stop someone's pain. She did it for me back in 2005 when I tore a tendon in my leg and she did it again in 2006 when I got a case of plantar fasciitis that wouldn't quit. Last week, the pain suddenly shifted and with it, my hip shifted as well. Every single day I would get up and my left hip would be an inch or two higher than my right.  Until I got my muscles warmed up it was actually painful to walk because I was so uneven.

When I crookedly walked into PT last Friday, she poked around a bit and decided I didn't have to have the ouchy Graston.  Instead she began to work on my SI joint and by Sunday I was feeling terrific.  Here's the thing:  SI joint would indicate a back issue, not piriformis, IT band, sciatic nerve.  Yet what we're both still trying to figure out is why I feel so much better after I run.  We know it has something to do with bloodflow to the aggravated area but technically if I am having pain due to a back issue, I shouldn't be able to run as the pounding would hurt too much.  Obviously whatever is going on, it's all connected. But you know what? I don't care at this point! I just want to be fixed and be able to work out properly and not be feeling a throbbing pain 24/7!

Heres the promised photo of the ouchy Graston "wrenches."  Doesn't this look just like a medieval torture kit?


My favorite therapy, hands down, is running.  It's my personal happy hour.  Therefore I had no hesitation to sign on to take part in Lori's Heart Healthy Weekend.  (You can do the heart healthy activity of your choice but why would I do anything else?) I am excited to say, I think I'm going to get to run outside!! Yes, we have finally had a week with no storms (I guess God does hear my insistent begging/whining prayers) and warmer temperatures, so pavement and sidewalks have begun to reappear. While I still wouldn't chance running in my city - too many big mounds of snow at intersections still - I am planning on driving to an area near a state park and doing my run in those suburbs. Dare I say I might try to run 10 miles outdoors? With hills!

Shelley, don't worry, since I will be visible to the public, I might actually try to look reasonably matchy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Ten

Everything I Know, I Learned on the Internet
True things I've seen lately, both thought provoking and funny.

If any of them belong to you, I'm sorry, because for the most part,
I wasn't smart enough to write down where I saw things as I scribbled them down. 

10. Stop stressing, start living.

9.  Have a cocktail and relax.  If that doesn't work, add a Xanax.

8. Don't look back with regret, or forward with fear.  Just give the best you have today.

7. Get rid of death. Celebrate Increase. Make it be Spring. (from the poem February by Margaret Atwood)

6. You’ll never out exercise bad nutrition.

5. The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back.  That's the real glory.  That's the essence of it. (Vince Lombardi)

4. Stop waiting for the storm to pass.  Learn to dance in the rain.

3. Know what you love.

2.  Believe that the past does not dictate the future.


Thank you for the reminder of Pam

Monday, February 7, 2011

Go for the Green!

I got in two runs over the weekend rather than one long one. Saturday I was particularly sore from the PT and spent quite a bit of time stretching trying to loosen up. When I got dressed to run, even Mr. Helen was really surprised that I was going to even attempt anything but I told him I needed endorphins.  I decided I would just walk on the treadmill knowing I could stop if it really did hurt too much.  But once I got going, I felt myself loosening up and by mile 4 I was doing a flat out hard run.  So I decided I'd go for 5 miles... once I hit that I decided I'd run for 60 minutes and once I hit that I was so close to 6 miles I figured I'd keep going.  When I got to 6 miles, I thought why not make it a 10K?  So I did.  6.2 miles 64:35 which is a 10:23/mile pace.  Pretty darn good considering the walking and slow jogging I did at first.  And I felt great the rest of the day.  Some of that might have been brought on by the fact that Mr. Helen felt so badly about my aches and pains that he did about the half the housework and went grocery shopping with me so I wouldn't have to lug bags all by myself.

Sunday morning I got up and had a bit of pain but it really was the least pain I've felt in weeks.  That made me happy and makes me wonder if the PT isn't starting to take and maybe soon I'll be back to feeling my usual self.  I can't wait to really kick the bag in Muay Thai again!

Mr. Helen was leaving for his trip first thing in the morning, so I just hung out with him until he took off.  Then I decided if I wanted to have any Superbowl treats I'd better hit the treadmill again.  Ended up doing 5 miles.  Another good run and again had hardly any pain or twinges all day long.  

You all know from last year's Superbowl Muffaletta I usually try to make food themed around either one of the teams or the city that the Superbowl is being played in.  I didn't plan on making a bunch of stuff to eat since I would be home alone eating and though I planned on having something that was a bit of a treat, I didn't want to have tons of hors d'oeuvres and stuff like I normally would if Mr. Helen was home. Honestly I was afraid that lonliness and boredom would drive me to eat whatever I made so I wanted to keep it simple.   I had just recently made my Texas BBQ Beef so I really wasn't in the mood for that, but I came up with what I thought was a pretty good idea: a spinach, mushroom and gorgonzola pizza.

Green for the Green Bay Packers and Cheese for Wisconsin!  (I was rooting for the Packers and their underdog quarterback - WOOT!)  Here it is just before going into the oven:

And here it is all beautiful and golden, ready to be cut!

My plate

So yummy and somewhat healthy I'd say.  Healthy is the route I'm going to try this week.   I even made Chicken Shawarma too and I have lots of salad fixings and good for me things in the fridge.  Wish me luck!

Spinach, Mushroom & Gorgonzola Pizza

Dough for 14" Pizza (make your own like I did or store bought is just the right size)
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves
4 T Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
4 oz. part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 oz. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

    Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

    Saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until mushrooms give up their water. Add parsley and spinach to quickly wilt.

    Spread dough out on a 14-15 inch pizza pan - preferably a stone.

    Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over dough. Spread vegetable mixture evenly over dough.

    Sprinkle crumbled gorgonzola evenly over veggie mixture.

    Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden.

    Makes 8 servings.

    Per serving including crust:  269 calories, 13.5g fat, 492g sodium, 27.5g carbs, 2.4g fiber, 11g protein

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Houston, We Have a Purple.

    In my never ending quest for Spring, when I got my manicure this week I picked a color from OPI's spring line called, "Houston We Have a Purple."  All the spring colors are named after Texas which isn't so appropriate today, is it?  It's actually more of a raspberry color but I've been enjoying it as a nice change from darker winter colors.


    I know my mid-west and Texas friends are under snow right now, while I have dry roads for a change but it's still a disaster here on the east coast.  First of all it was 5 here this morning.  FIVE.  Secondly, every single day when I sip coffee while listening to the local news they are talking about roof collapses.  This morning they were talking about THREE - two businesses and a condo complex.  Connecticut actually has ordinances in place that regulate the slant of roofs, but a lot of the collapses are happening in older buildings.  The ice storm we had this week has only contributed to the problem, and tomorrow we are forecast for more snow.  Additionally, is going to be heavy wet snow adding a lot more load on people's roofs.  I guess it's a good thing that Mr. Helen shoveled our garage.

    The city I live in has been going street by street based upon recommendations of police and the fire department setting up parking bans and actually removing the snow.  It really has been crippling.  You can imagine my joy when I saw the those no parking signs on a street I have to drive on every single day to get home.  We live on a one way street and that road had become so narrow with people trying to park and the huge piles of snow it really was dangerous.  I wish I had taken a before and after photo so you could actually see the huge difference but I didn't think to do that until last night when I saw the snow was gone. 

    Unfortunately, I may get the chance to show you yet because this morning, my weatherman said he can see 6 storms between now and February 20th, which prompted me to yell at the TV, "I quit Connecticut, I quit!" and Mr. Helen to yell back, "Settle down girl, you're not going anywhere."  But seriously people, I just want it to

    Yes, that is an actual photo from my neighborhood.  Now you understand why I say it's dangerous trying to drive through intersections, much less run through them.

    And why I keep using "actually" and "actual" so much I don't know... except maybe I think you won't believe me.


    Getting around has additionally been made harder because of whatever is going on with my hip/leg/back.  I started going to PT but I've been feeling almost worse than better.  And the pain seems to be migrating.  It was so bad yesterday I didn't run and then poor Shelley had to listen to me whine via email all day. Which really wasn't very nice of me since she's nursing her own running injury right now and can't really run either. (Sorry, Shelley) Of course, this morning the therapist was all happy dappy because she says when the pain centralizes that means it's actually getting better and is far easier to treat than pain that basically covers the left side of my body from the waist down.  When I left she told me to have a nice weekend and I told her that would depend on whether or not I'm able to run tomorrow.  She laughed but I kid you not when I say as Mr. Helen left this morning for work he said, "I sure hope Michelle can do something for you today because you sure are cranky when you don't run."

    And his point is?  Listen people I'm dealing with winter here too and I need my endorphins. Perhaps I should have eaten some of the triple mousse cake that Mr. Helen treated himself to after he shoveled the roof.


    Since I did a more serious post on Monday I never had the chance to tell you that for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn't spend the weekend cooking.  At one point I had an email exchange with Biz and told her to hold on to her hat and not fall off her chair because not only did I not cook one single thing, I got Mr. Helen to agree to cook a couple of things on Monday (which is one of his days off) and that meant that I wouldn't cook at all this week either.  Believe me, I was as shocked as anybody.  Then I realized that Mr. Helen will be traveling next week which means, I won't cook again this weekend!  Holy carp.  I can't even remember in years and years the last time that happened unless I was on vacation.  I  might be able to think of this as a mini vacation if it weren't for the damn snow. 

    I also realized that I could use this week of eating alone as an opportunity to whip my own eating into shape.  A good solid week of that and I might be able to get myself in a good solid pattern of healthier choices.  As I said before, right now between the weather and my hip all I want to do is drink heavily and eat chocolate.  While the drinking is easier to control, mostly because of the meds I'm on right now, I'm afraid I've let a little bit too much of the chocolate get back in.  Hey, when a girl can't get her endorphin fix from running, she's got to get it somewhere.  In any case, I have an opportunity, now it remains to be seen whether I will take it, or take the easy way out and just have popcorn for dinner every night.


    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    (Almost) Wordless Wednesday


    Where I walked to get to the treadmill this morning

    Poor Goldilocks!
    (1/4 inch of ice, at least)

    45 minute drive to work.  Highway speeds 25-30 mph
     on roads that look like my driveway.
    Joined Lori for Bagel Wednesday, runnin' on Dunkin'