Still Giving Thanks

November 28, 2012

It’s been a very good week.

I meant to write a Thanksgiving post about all the things I’m thankful for, but somehow never got around to it.  But who says we should only be thankful one day a year?  Let’s choose to be thankful every single day instead.

My yoga instructor yesterday (@ Laughing Lotus ) spoke a lot about Karma, and how good deeds boomerang back to us.  This mental boomerang image stuck with me, and I’m making a real choice to just be good.  It really is that easy.

This was my first class back to yoga after a long break.  The pain that developed in my wrist during my 21 day (attempted) streak is not giving up so easily – I think it is here to stay for the time being.  I haven’t been to a doctor yet, but spoke briefly about it to my new physical therapist, and she said it’s probably nothing to worry about, and scar tissue can just irritate it but that I’m likely not doing any further damage.  I gave it a try, and while it was a little sore during some of the more straining poses, overall I was OK.  Good news and I’ll take it.

Speaking of physical therapy, I think I’m in love.  With a physical therapy office.  Is that weird?  I’ve been through a very long few years of running injury after running injury.  I’ve been in and out of doctor’s offices, MRI machines, physical therapy appointments, massages, and even tried acupuncture recently (and LOVED it, more on that later).  But the problems persist.  I feel like a sponge – I’m so hungry for answers and just keep asking questions, just wanting to know why no matter what I do, my pesky IT band just WON’T quit being a pain in the ass knee.

So why am I back in PT after I know it hasn’t really worked for me in the past?  Because I signed up for (another) marathon, and this one I AM GOING TO FINISH.  I really am.  It’s happening this time, I can feel it. I’m doing the Nashville Rock N’ Roll Marathon. I’ve always wanted to run NY – like always, since I was 15ish?, competitively swimming, and had no real desire to ever be a real runner.  I didn’t run.  But I knew I wanted to run THAT RACE.  It just seemed like something I would do.  When would I do it?  In 2010 when I was 25 of course, because that, well, sounded right.

Well, I didn’t.  I had an impossibly hard to secure spot in it.  I raised a lot of money for Fred’s Team, but alas, my joints weren’t really on board.  I got through my 15 mile training run on October 1st, and it was all downhill from there.  Or uphill, depending on how you look in it.  Running sure got harder.  So I deferred to 2011, and I thought, yes, this is fine – a full year to recover and train and I’ll DEFINITELY be doing a marathon in November 2011.  But guess what?  That didn’t work out either.  Hello, lower spine, I didn’t realize we were not getting along.  Goodbye, marathon, again.

All in all, since July 2009, I’ve had a broken tibia, two stress fractures of the left femoral neck, one stress fracture of the right sacrem, two herniated discs, and endless knee aches and pains from what I now know is actually a HIP issue.  I deferred a second time, and had a spot in the 2012 NY marathon.  I ran a  half last spring with no issues while training, which obviously led me to believe I was invincible again.  Do all runners do this?  Do we all feel superhuman when things are going well?

I started training for the marathon, and with a 7 mile long run under my belt in August, my knee pain was back with a vengeance.  A sprint triathlon with said knee pain was the clincher.  No marathon for me.  Whether or not my spot will be honored next year is still TBD.  NYRR isn’t talking yet.

So I thought, perhaps spring is just my season.  All of my successful half marathons have been in the spring (I say all like it’s a lot.  It’s not a lot.  It’s two.), and I’m thinking perhaps I strength train more in the cold winter months when it’s freezing outside and toasty warm in the gym?  And spend much more time clocking miles when it’s beautiful and sunny outside?  It makes sense to me that stonger legs = less injuries, so we’re going for a spring marathon.  And if NYRR says so, maybe we’ll try for NY in 2013 as well.  But let’s take take this one endeavor at a time, and talk about NY in May with one marathon checked off the list!

Running so far (since my break during the 21 Days of Yoga  has been….okay.  Some tightness/pain and I just get so nervous.  Superhuman confidence goes out the window with the slightest inkling of an injury at my door.  I did a lot of research, and I came across reviews for the most amazing-sounding physical therapy office ever .  It’s called FINISH LINE Physical Therapy.  Ya know, like the finish line of a race?!

I’ve had two appointments so far, and it just feels right.  They get what I’m trying to achieve, they understand my goals, and so far everything they’ve done really feels like it’s helping.

So I’m going to give a lot of thanks to my knees, and to the world, and hopefully that kindness will boomerang right back, and in 21 weeks I’ll be writing the greatest post of all time about my amazingly successful first marathon.


Sunday Ritual

November 18, 2012

Working long hours all week does not a healthy diet make.  Waking up early to go to the gym or get a run in, eating lunch at my desk, working late – all of these things sometimes lead to last minute thoughtless take-out for lunch or a PB&J for dinner.  So to avoid this, I’m making a habit of spending a few hours each Sunday prepping for the week ahead.

This process starts at the Saturday morning McCaren Park market. The haul:

Kale, collard greens, bok choy, cabbage, beets (with their greens! the best part), parsnips!

As the weather is getting colder, the fresh produce at the farmers market is becoming less about salad greens & fruit, and more about winter root vegetables & squash (hearty greens are still in season! Thus the kale & collards.  Yum.).  One of my favorite things to eat this time of year is a medley of roasted, colorful roots. 

This particular batch was parsnips, carrots, beets & celery (correct, celery is not a root, you win).  I didn’t know parsnips existed until a few years ago, and they’re now one of my very favorite vegetables.  Slightly sweet, and chewy when roasted.  The batch you’re seeing above is actually from last Sunday.  Today’s pan was lacking in the celery department.  Whomp whomp.

I also finally went and bought a vegetable brush today!  No more peeling away over the garbage for hours.  I’ve traded up to scrubbing away over the sink. 

So basically I just scrub them, chop them up to bite size pieces, toss them in coconut oil (or olive oil), salt, pepper & garlic powder, and they’re ready to go.

Into the oven at 400* for 40 minutes, tossed half way through, and they come out perfect.

Mmmm.  They are then on hand to toss in a salad, or serve alongside a piece of chicken with quinoa whenever I need a quick meal.  Needless to say, the quinoa and chicken are prepped on Sunday as well  – or black beans, tofu, wheatberries, etc.  As well as a big old pot of steel cut oats for breakfast.  Makes eating delicious home cooked food all week so much easier : )


Day 21!

November 6, 2012

Well… not today.  Today would be day 27.  It just took this long to get this post written.

But guess what I learned on day 21?  Hot yoga does not put any pressure on the wrists.  Not a single plank or downward dog.  I showed up for my usual vinyasa class, but for the first time ever it was full.  Probably because no one was at work, due to that pesky hurricane and the lack of subways into the city.

A few spots were still available in the Traditional Hot Yoga class across the hall.  I’ve always been curious but have been nervous to try it.  Everyone always makes it sound so intense.  But really…it wasn’t so bad at all.  It was a lot more stretching, with poses held for a period of time before the instructor loudly clapped, initiating the class to switch positions.  It was also a lot less relaxing, what with all the clapping and the rule AGAINST closing your eyes.  Strange how different the two practices are.  But any yoga is better than no yoga!

So how did the rest of the challenge go?

  1. Yoga everyday.  Good enough, I’d say.  A few days of no yoga at all, but most days went well.  I’ll take it.
  2. No fried food.  I accidentally ate a few tortilla chips on day 3 before realizing that they were most definitely not baked. Oops.  Otherwise fine, and will likely keep this part up – I can live without fried anything.
  3. No meat.  It’s a little hard to accidentally eat meat…so no problems here.  I was really missing this for a few days towards the end there, but when Wednesday night came, it went by pretty easily without digging my face into a rare filet mignon.  That being said, I did have an organic bison burger with spicy feta, sautéed onions & pickles for dinner on Friday night from Burger Guru and it was FANTASTIC.
  4. No added sugar.  OK…so I ate some Craisins.  A few handfuls.  Mid 8 mile hike, and running out of plain roasted almonds, a delicious bag of dried (& lightly sweetened…) cranberries was offered my way.  I was two fistfuls in before it occurred to me that sugar was certainly added.  Oh well. I made it 21 days without desert and that’s fine by me.
  5. No booze.  Check!

In other news, my first (very short, 1 mile) run was a success.  No knee pain!  I’m not, ya know, getting my hopes up or anything.  But it’s a start.  I signed up for the Rock n’ Roll Marathon in Nashville in April.  Six months to get up to 26.2, and positive thinking is the only thing that’s going to get me there.

 

 

As I type this I’m eating rosemary garlic pumpkin seeds by the handful.  The recipe came from Edible Perspective.  I used 2 tablespoons of oil (1 just didn’t seem like enough to coat them all), and dried rosemary instead of fresh, since that’s what I had in the house.  They turned out great, and they made my apartment smell AMAZING. I adore rosemary.

toasty!

Now I’m off to vote!


-2 / +2

October 29, 2012

There’s a hurricane on the way, or so they’ve said.  It’s currently 24 hours after the rain was supposed to arrive, and it’s barely windy out there.  Though there are a lot of sirens screaming by.  We are one block from the mandatory evacuation zone, so we’ve prepared for the worst, and are enjoying a cozy day working from home on the couch.

So I didn’t make it the 21 days of yoga.  I’m slightly disappointed, but I’m going to add two days onto the end and, well, get over it.  I made it 16 days.  Saturday we woke up at 5:30am to head up to Hudson Highlands State Park for an 8 mile hike.  There was a lot of cloud cover, so while the scenery was beautiful, it was not very photogenic.  The fall foliage was gorgeous though.

The  hike took 5 hours.  That is 5 hours with very little rest, with lots of inclines and descents.  Every time we appeared to be approaching the end, a switchback brought us straight back up the mountain again.  About 3.5 hours in, my right knee started complaining – the IT Band (iliotibial band) syndrome that has been bothering me on and off for a few years was acting up again.  Not very surprising given that I’ve been on a running break for the last month, so my knees weren’t used to the impact.  And there was a LOT of impact on those down hills.  By the time I was home around 11pm, I could think of nothing else except collapsing in bed.  As my head hit the pillow I realized I had done not even one short child’s pose that day.  But my knee hurt and I was sleepy.

Sunday was spent helping my parents prep their waterfront home for Sandy Frankenstorm, and then back in Brooklyn stocking up on whatever we might need in case we lose power and are stuck in the apartment for the next few days.  Knee still hurt a bit, and as my wrist isn’t getting any better, I took that day off as well.

So now it is Monday, Day 19 for the rest of the challenge (that is going great, despite being stuck inside all day craving Halloween candy).  I will do some yoga for the next 3 days, and I will do it Thursday & Friday as well.  21 days of yoga over 23 days will do just fine thank you very much.

Regarding the wrist-pain-that-won’t-go-away, it’s not hurting at all now when I’m not using it (I guess that counts as improvement), but there is still a lot of pain when I put any pressure on it.  I realize that while I’ve been resting it, I’ve been doing little else to help – so there is ice on it as I type this (and on my knee too!), and I will continue to ice twice a day until it is as good as new.

The rest of the afternoon will be spent cooking acorn squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini, tofu, beans & quinoa – just in case we lose power.

Happy Hurricane!


5 Part Challenge

October 24, 2012

Day 14!

Things are…going.  There are actually a few other pieces to this challenge, and while the yoga has been, well, challenging, everything else is going really well!  Let me explain.  I decided that for 21 days I would…

  1. Do yoga everyday – in any way for any amount of time.
  2. No fried food.  This isn’t really a challenge – I eat so little fried food as it is.  But I will sometimes eat the occasional handful of fries or a random potato chip from a generous friend’s bag.  I really never need it and never actually crave it so why not eliminate?
  3. No meat.  I actually don’t eat all that much meat these days anyway.  I used to be a huge carnivore, and while I do still need a big juicy burger once in a while, I’ve been eating less and less of it over the last 5 years.  I’ve become a lot more discerning about the source of my meat, and have tried to eat as many meatless meals as possible.  Including this in the challenge is really more about encouraging myself to eat DIFFERENT protein sources than I normally do.  I’ve been in a tofu rut for the last year or so, and while that obviously is allowed under this rule, the added challenge has encouraged me to do some new things.  I made a huge pot of beans from scratch, something I’ve meant to do for a long time.  I don’t know why soaking the beans overnight always seemed like such a big deal.  It’s really not.  And man were they good.  I’ve also been having quinoa as the protein in a lot of meals because it is, and we really don’t need more than that.

 

The only time the no meat rule became really difficult, when I seriously considered just digging right in to a poached lamb saddle (um what?) was this past week at the TOP CHEF KITCHEN (!!!). http://www.topchefkitchennyc.com/

 

 

One cannot just opt out of an opportunity to eat at the Top Chef Kitchen.  Chef’s Mike Isabella and Edward Lee prepared two Prix Fixe menus.  You could choose to follow one chef’s menu for all four courses, or pick and choose from both.  I chose the Crudo of Blue Point Oysters with candied sweet potatoes, spiced pecans and dashi over the Fried Chicken Salad for the first course.  While I’m not a picky eater at all, I’ve never had an oyster before.  Something about them being grey has always freaked me out a bit. I went the swallow whole route, vs. the apparently more sophisticated chew-to-get-the-full-flavor route (http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2009/02/the-right-way-to-eat-a-raw-oyster).  They were fine.

 

 

But the second course.  PEOPLE.  These Crispy Gnocchi with butternut squash and crispy sage were out. of. this. world.  They were supposed to come with pork belly, but the chefs were happy to serve vegetarian.  If only there were more than 2 bites of them!  (Note: we did request seconds of the second course.  We were denied.  Le sigh.)

 

 

The options for the last course were Olive Oil-Poached Smoked Lamb Saddle or Tamarind Pork Breast.  However!  The chefs prepared an off menu roasted vegetable, pureed sunchoke and edamame hummus that was fantastic, and perfectly meat free.

 

I did however skip dessert.  There was no ifs ands or buts about it. Because…

4. No added sugar.  This is the part that I was sure would be the hardest, but has turned out to be not so bad.  I typically need (not want) both lunch AND dinner dessert.  Pretty much every day.  A huge bag of apples on my kitchen counter has had to fill the void though, and man, have I eaten a LOT of apples.  So last night I was checking out at the drug store and come across these.

 

 

Oh man. These definitely do not qualify as “real food,” but holiday candy just gets me every time.  Halloween candy corn (+ candy pumpkins!), and Easter Cadbury mini eggs (in the purple bag!) are my two very favorite candies.  I just can’t help myself, and see no reason not to.  But I CAN wait.  Into the cupboard these go until November 1st.

 

5. No alcohol.  Boring, but absolutely doable.

 

So overall, so far so good.  The wrist pain is still present, but not getting worse.  I probably would continue to go to class everyday with modifications if it wasn’t for a very slight pain in my left knee while walking down stairs.  My wrist I can live without, my knees I cannot.  Restful yoga-at-home it is until I’m feeling 100%!


How many days has it been?

October 19, 2012

And….why didn’t I speak to the instructor about my wrist earlier?

So I took yesterday off from class.  I waited 48 hours, but I still had soreness and pain this evening.  I mentioned it to the instructor before class began, and he was really able to help.  He recommended using foam blocks on my right side so that I could keep my left arm in correct position and rest my right forearm on the blocks.  It worked — I could even do the flows!

I’m still a little concerned about the pain. It’s basically a shooting pain up from my wrist to my elbow on the top part of my forearm.  It hurts when I push down on the ground, but also if I just flex my wrist and move my arm as if I’m pushing the air. (Does that make sense at all?).  If I squeeze my arm completely straight and lock my elbow, it hurts in the back of my elbow joint too. Or if I hold my arm out straight palm up and twist it inwards,  it hurts all the way from wrist to shoulder.  AND it seems to be getting worse, not better.  UGH.  I hope the blocks are actually protecting whatever is hurting.

Tomorrow we’ll be upstate apple & pumpkin picking all day long, so I won’t be around for any classes, but at this rate that’s probably a good thing.  Another rest day from class will probably help, and I’ll do 30 minutes or so of yoga stretches in the morning before hitting the road to keep the streak going!


Day 8 : this is harder than I thought

October 18, 2012

“I breath in, I am full; I breath out, I am empty”

I’m not going to yoga class today.  Day 8 and I’m skipping it.  I did do 20 minutes of yoga on my own this morning, so I’m not counting this as a fail, but my body is screaming for a break from a full class, and that is exactly what I’m giving it.

Let me explain…

One full week of 60 minute Vinyasa Flow classes later and I’m starting to realize that diving back into yoga with 21 straight days may not have been the smartest way to get back into it.  I’m not sure what it is that makes me set such lofty goals for myself, why I can’t get it through my head that everything in moderation really does mean EVERYTHING.  Including things that are good for you.

The last week has been challenging.  Getting there is piece of cake – I really do love the time I spend on my mat.  I’ve also noticed that classes that used to seam like they took forever to get to Half Pigeon are over before I know it now.  But unfortunately, I’m developing a problem in my right wrist and elbow.  HELLO.  It’s as if I don’t know a thing about overuse injuries.  Why would I not even think to worry about an overuse injury from yoga?

So I’ve done a little online research, and it makes perfect sense.  Our wrists are not made for weight-bearing support.  Our ancestors did not walk on their hands.  It takes time to build up the strength to support ourselves in this way.  But where does that leave me now?  It doesn’t hurt terribly, and I’m pretty determined to see this thing through.

I asked Dr. Internet, and I found a few great alterations that prevent pressure placed on the wrist.  Half-Dog (or Puppy) worked quite well in place of Downward Dog in last nights class, and doing forearm planks in place of traditional Plank Pose was a great substitution too.  The only thing I really don’t know how to alter is the chaturanga flow.  This post has a great explanation of what might be causing my wrist/elbow pain.  Makes a lot of sense!

 

http://yogaisforlovers.wordpress.com/2007/02/24/chaturanga-dandasana-wrist-and-elbow-killer/

 

So at this point I guess I’m going to just skip this part of class.  Paying attention to it last night, there really is not a whole lot of time that I spend on my wrists throughout the class.  I’m still going to get plenty out of it without putting undue pressure on places that aren’t feeling 100%.  These 21 days are about healing, not doing more harm.

 


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