Quick Tip: Take Off Your Shoes

Hi all! I know it’s been a while, but I am still here and still dedicated to this blog. I’m just trying to figure out a schedule that will work around my life. I’m back in class (microbiology) and fall is a busy time of year, but I do miss interacting with all of you and sharing ideas on how to live a healthy life.

That being said, today’s tip is something I’ve adopted over the past few months. I told you how much I enjoyed the Not Just Paleo podcast with Dr. Ray McClanahan and how it really got me thinking about foot health and shoes. It influenced me to adopt more of a shoe-free lifestyle (when appropriate). We’ve always had a no shoe policy in our house to keep down on tracking in dirt, allergens, and any nasty chemicals. Our shoe collection by the door can attest to that:

Shoe tray

In the warmer months, we just take our shoes off and walk around the house barefoot. Yes, this flies in the face of advice I was given and have given for anyone with plantar fasciitis. In fact, I’m kind of convinced that my podiatrist’s advice to wear shoes in the house may have made it worse/prolonged it because I found that my ankle mobility decreased. Since kicking the shoes off and keeping up with my exercises, my ankle mobility has increased.

Bare feet on wood floor

Bare is best!

In the cooler months, we have our slippers waiting for us by the door. Our slippers are fit loosely, have minimal support, and wide toe boxes. We’ll be breaking those out soon given the recent decrease in temperatures we’ve had here in Massachusetts!

I even make a point to walk around our yard barefoot and do some sprints, or “strides” as runners call them, across the grass. I walk across dirt, stones, you name it. It’s healthy for our feet to have a variety of surfaces so we can develop muscles that have been weakened through our shoe choices and the fact that we do need to wear shoes in our modern day.

Running barefoot on grass

Source

Next, I’m going to experiment with more minimal/barefoot shoes. That will be a post all on its own once I have enough data for you. :-) Have a great weekend!

Questions: Do you make a point to go barefoot? Do you have a no shoe policy in your house? Do you run around outside without shoes? Is foot health important to you?

A Welcome Break

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, but that’s because I was in Colorado for half of that time!

IMAGE_3495

Rocky Mountain National Park

WHH and I took a much-needed vacation to visit my brother and his lady friend in the beautiful Boulder area. It was one of the lazier, less planned vacations we’ve ever taken and in some ways that made it even more enjoyable. With my crazy schedule over the summer and WHH gearing up for his new position, we’ve been working ourselves too much. This vacation was a great time to recharge.

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I took a lot of inspiration from an article that my mom sent me earlier in the summer titled, “In Praise of Purposeful Loafing.” It’s a great, quick read on the merits of chilling the heck out. So as the summer unofficially comes to a close this weekend, I urge you to take time to unwind before the busyness of the fall is upon us. You know, sit by a beautiful river with some coffee, a good book, and a handsome man.

Books and coffee outside in Colorado

I hope you all have a great holiday weekend and I’ll see you in September!

Quick Tip: Get Outside!

Hi all! So happy to be back here again!

I wanted to let you in on a new healthy habit of mine: getting outside. More specifically, I’ve been spending my weekday lunch time outside. Not a revolutionary idea in the least, but it’s been a big change for me as I would usually spend that time writing blog posts, reading other blogs, and catching up on personal things that needed to be done.

Corner desk

Type, type, typing away…

It started when I was still in class this summer. I felt like I was missing out on some beautiful summer days, spending all of my time at work or inside doing lab experiments. I decided that instead of sitting inside, why not go outside? It was also nice to warm up from the chilly indoor air conditioning (yes, that blanket that I’m using in the picture above for padding is also used to keep me warm!).

While reading, I would make a point to be in the sun for 10-15 minutes to get some vitamin D. I’m glad I did this because I recently learned that even after over a month of doing this and also taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day, my levels dipped back down! Do you remember when I was able to get it up to 61 ng/ml? Now look at it! Back down to 38!

Vitamin D July 2014

I obviously have some vitamin D issues. Despite taking a multivitamin, an additional vitamin D supplement, getting sun, and having a healthy diet, it keeps trending down! My PCP told me to increased my dose to 5,000 IU/day, so I’m hoping that, combined with continued outdoor sun exposure, will keep it higher.

When class ended, I decided I would still go outside, and this time go for a walk. I love my BalanceBall chair, but sitting all day isn’t so healthy (and I do transition to a modified standing desk for a few hours most days). So walking seemed like a natural way to stretch out those hip flexors and get the benefits of some low intensity exercise.

Summer stroll scene

Scene from a weekday stroll

Though the amount of time I’m able to be outside for a walk varies, I am able to get out most days. A couple of weeks ago I got out every single day!

Daily walking habit

While going for one of our nightly walks a few weeks ago, I proclaimed to WHH that I intend to keep this habit throughout the year, safety permitting. Granted, I may balk at the idea when it looks like this outside:

Massachusetts polar vortex 2014

But I will try my darndest and push myself to do it. The fresh air, the sunlight, seeing nature (even if it’s just trees on a busy city sidewalk) are refreshing. We’re meant to be outside! We are not meant to be holed up in front of electronics all day.

Massachusetts walking path

Lucky to have this near my work

Questions: Do you try to get outside during your lunch breaks at work? Have you started a new habit lately?

School’s Out For Summer!

Hi all!

I’m so excited to be back! It’s been a bit of stressful summer, but I wanted to pop in to tell you I’m hoping to be back a bit more regularly. I’m not going to be posting as frequently as I was before because I want to enjoy what little is left of the summer. I’ve spent the past ten weeks reading my textbook, doing my labs, and writing up lab reports and papers. I can say with near certainty that I will not be taking a summer class or an accelerated lab-based class again unless I absolutely have to!

Gas mask for dissection

My summer in one picture

Though it’s been a rarity, I have had a few opportunities to enjoy some beautiful summer days. I made it up to the lake house a couple of times and hope to go up again soon!

New Hampshire lake scene

Peaceful early morning at the lake

We had a quick weekend getaway to Boothbay, Maine for a family wedding. If you’re ever in the area, check out the Botanic Garden. It’s gorgeous!

Coastal Main Botanical Gardens

I got to see Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails last week and the night couldn’t have been more perfect for an outdoor concert! I was lucky enough to tag along with my husband and his two good friends.

Comcast Center Mansfield Massachusetts at night

Oh and see that KT tape on my right hand?

Soundgarden NIN KT tape

Yeah…so…I’m back to getting my tennis elbow treated, this time in physical therapy (yes, this would make physical therapy stint #3 in a year and I’ve lost track of what treatment approach this is for the elbow). This would be part of the stress of the summer. I’m going to post more on that soon and what I think is going on with my broken body. There’s some conventional stuff in there, but in true Whole Health Dork fashion, there is also some unconventional stuff that I think makes a lot of sense and may be a big part in my recovery.

Most importantly, what’s going on with all of you?! I’ve missed you all! I hope you’re having a fabulous summer!

See you soon…

WHD

I’m Still Here

Hi all! I know it’s been waaaaay too long. I’ve missed you and I’ve missed catching up with some of you on your blogs!

My accelerated A&P II class has been taking up all of my free time. I’m reading at work, when I get home, on the weekends (when I’m not doing my labs or other assignments). It’s been a bit crazy and I’m bummed that WHD has had to take a hit, but I’m halfway through and hope to be back to more regular posting in August! In the meantime, I’ll try to pop by quickly a bit more regularly than the past two weeks.

Studying at Starbucks

I even study at Starbucks before my acupuncture appointments!

I did have a quick break this weekend which was absolutely divine! My brother was home, so I took Friday off and we headed up to our parents’ lake house in New Hampshire. It was a bit chilly (we had to turn the heat on Friday night), but it was still lovely to be up there. How can you not feel relaxed with this view?

Lake and mountain view

Still lots of studying and reading for me, but I managed to squeeze in some quality time with my parents, grandmother, brother, and his girlfriend. Exercise consisted of a nice long walk with my mom one day and kayaking with  my dad the next day. Poor WHH had to work the school’s dance on Friday night, so he wasn’t able to join us, but he’s looking forward to seeing my brother and his girlfriend again later this summer when we visit them in Colorado! So excited for another vacation to look forward to, as well as the company!

Camp mug

Morning conversations over coffee are the best

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my new toy! I had a Macy’s gift card from Christmas and when I saw this was on sale, I jumped at the chance to finally get into juicing. I can’t wait to share some recipes with you! This delicious combo was:

  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 green apple
  • ~2″ of ginger

Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain

Questions: What have you been up to? Any fun summer plans? Are you insanely busy right now or are you enjoying the lazy days of summer?

Are You Orthorexic?

(Sorry for the radio silence after last week’s post. Class is taking up a lot of my time, so it looks like some weeks may be one post, some weeks may be two.)

Have you heard of this term? It’s a real one, I promise you, though not an officially recognized diagnosis. It means to have an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?

Orthorexia origins

But on closer inspection, you can see how being consumed with being too healthy is unhealthy since being consumed by anything isn’t good. Being able to eat only something you would consider a superfood, for example, and unable to enjoy anything that’s not, or worse, having anxiety over the fact you had something that wasn’t on you “only will eat these things” list, is never healthy.

Rainbow of foods

The term was first coined by Dr. Steven Bratman. When I visited his website, I discovered he also admitted that the definition sounded like an oxymoron (great minds think alike?). He gives an example of a woman who died from orthorexia (though the lines seem a bit blurred to me as to whether she really had anorexia). Labels aside, anything that causes us to restrict food in an unhealthy way, whether we think it’s unhealthy or not, can be detrimental to our health, both mental and physical.

Salad with egg, legumes, nuts

I’m bringing this up because I have been through stages when I started to head to orthorexia-land. It’s not surprising given my history and you know how open I’ve been with my unintended weight loss last year and subsequent (healthy) gain. I’ve gone through periods, even in those healthier times, of restricting my carbs and/or dairy more than necessary.  While I do know my body benefits from being gluten-free, that doesn’t mean I have to be low-carb. And while I’ve experimented with reducing my dairy due to a potential issue with FODMAP foods, that doesn’t mean I need to eliminate it completely.

Mixed greens salad

Why all the salad pictures? I think I had been having a few too many every week. I came to realize this after recently mixing it up. Having one for lunch and having a lot more raw veggies for dinner was messing with my digestion almost as much as gluten! I shunned or drastically reduced other carbs, such as the gluten-free pasta we would make to go with American Chop Suey and instead put the mixture on top of greens. Don’t get me wrong–veggies are great for you, but anything in excess is not so great for you.

Salad prep for lunch

This makes me wonder if there is also an equivalent exercise term would could apply. That is, an unhealthy obsession with only being able to work out a certain way. Don’t get me wrong–if you find an exercise you love, you should do it. But if that exercise is causing you to become injured, perhaps you need to mix it up.

Jillian Michaels DVDs

You know I love my Jillian-inspired HIIT workouts and though I mixed up my workouts throughout the week (some yoga, some running, some strength), I didn’t mix up the intensity much. I thought the best way to go was to max out every time. I liked feeling like I had worked really hard and given my all. But perhaps I was pushing my body too much. In an effort to rein it in recently, I decided to focus on also varying the intensity and my body has been thankful.

What’s the point of all of this? To admit sometimes we don’t know everything, or what we thought worked may not. To be truthful with ourselves about our aim to be healthy and whether trying so hard is actually unhealthy. Being healthy, like all things that are worth your time, is not effortless, but it also shouldn’t consume you.

Questions: What do you think of the term orthorexia? Do you think it’s a real thing? Could you see yourself going down that path? How do you make sure you keep your healthy choices healthy?

New Year’s Goals Check-In: May

Holy smokes, it’s June! We’re nearly halfway through the year. How the heck did that happen?

You know what a new month means: a breakdown of my goals for the New Year. A lot of my answers to my goals are, “classwork is my focus right now” and I’m fine with hat, especially given that the A&P II I’m taking is only 10 weeks long, compared to the usual 16 weeks, so I’m cramming in a lot in a short time. I’m already feeling the pressure and am doing my best to balance life.

That being said, here’s how I did in May:

Personal Goals

  • Try a new trend/clothing item I wouldn’t normally: A

Even though I gained some items after going through a pile of too-big clothes I had put aside, I still have no casual/weekend clothes. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Stitch Fix and hope that although they will have my style profile down, they push me outside my comfort zone a bit as well. I won’t receive the shipment until July and I can’t wait to share with you!

Stitch Fix Logo

  • Take more pictures: B

Picture taking has been mostly for blogging, but it’s becoming more and more of a habit, so I’m happy for that. Once my class is over, I want to go through our vacation pictures more thoroughly to organize and make notes on them as well as get them printed for a real photo album. And then there are our wedding pics…

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: B+

Another month without much meal planning, but we’re still eating plenty clean and healthy. WHH has been making up some of his own recipes, such as the sausage and pasta stir fry we had the other night that I was too hungry to take a second to take a picture of.

Something new that I did get a picture of was Brussels sprouts on the grill! I cooked them a bit in the oven first with some olive oil and garlic salt, and then onto some skewers and the barbie they went! We had to take off a few of the outer leaves on some of them, but they were delicious!

Grilled Brussesls sprouts

  • Travel: A

With our plane tickets to Colorado booked and filling in some details with my brother, we need to get a bit of a loose itinerary, and start to think about booking some places to stay when we’re not with my brother. This vacation is well-timed to be a couple of weeks after the end of my course. I will be wanting some R&R and to finally enjoy the summer!

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: A

I made a conscious effort at this one this past month. Instead of eating weekend meals in front of a screen (whether the TV, my phone, or my computer), I’ve made myself sit down and read a magazine or a book. I’ve enjoyed this immensely and found a lot of satisfaction in finally being able to read something other than my textbook or A Storm of Swords (as much as I enjoy the series, I’ve been reading it since late last fall).

Check out this interesting stat I came across in my Women’s Health Magazine.

Americans ate 118 fewer calories in 2010 vs 2005

This month has consisted of nothing but the necessary, so a no-go on the Pinterest board. I’m scaling it again because of classwork.

  • Simplify house further: B+

Another bag of items went off to be donated as well as another Thred Up bag in the mail! We’re getting there, little by little!

  • Meet with financial advisor: TBD

As I said last month, I’m scheduling this for the end of the summer when I will be done with classes for a few weeks and can properly concentrate. This time I just took it off so it doesn’t affect my GPA. ;-)

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel:C+

Have not done this, but scaled due to class. Will try to make a better effort this month and do it in small chunks instead of thinking of all of the different places I should review and get overwhelmed. As my co-worker says, you need to eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Elephants_at_Amboseli_national_park_against_Mount_Kilimanjaro

I feel as though I have a line of elephants to eat. Image c/o amoghavarsha.com

Professional:

  • Take co-requisite courses for nursing school: A+

I finished A&P I with a 95% average and am in the third week of A&P II. The weather was too lovely this weekend to be stuck in the basement, so I tucked myself into a little corner outside to do my endocrine system dissection. WHH admitted his sick curiosity had him peeking over at me while he was doing yard work. He gave some pretty priceless faces.

A&P II dissection kit

  • Start nursing school: TBD

Still on the wait-list for Fall 2014. Focusing on getting through A&P II, and then I’ll go from there.

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B

The blog has unfortunately fallen by the wayside a bit thanks to classwork. I’m okay with it for now since that is where my focus needs to be, hence why I’m not being harsher with my grading.

  • As time allows, get personal training and/or nutritionist certification: TBD

Constantly thinking about this even though I just need to concentrate on one thing at a time. It’s always in the back of my mind, though.

Health and Wellness:

  • Try a new physical endeavor as my body continues to heal from all of the injuries last year: B+

I finished the Return to Running program in May after six months of making my way back to running! I haven’t pushed my body much since that time as my plantar fasciitis has been rearing its ugly head a bit. It’s partially my fault–I haven’t been as religious with icing and massaging–and partially being on my feet for two weeks at work. Now that I’m back at my desk, it’s getting a little better. I’ve been varying my routes and surfaces a lot, so that has been fun.

New England white church

I love the quintessential New England sights during my runs.

Something that’s not so fun is my nagging tennis elbow. When I went back to the orthopedist earlier in May, he told me to take the next four weeks and stretch–that’s it. Well, I  have, and guess what? No difference. I haven’t stayed off of it completely because I don’t want the tendon to get tight from no use, but I don’t do anything that hurts it.

I go back to him on Monday and I’m kind of dreading it. I know he’ll offer me another cortisone injection and will make a convincing argument, but I don’t want it. PRP or prolotherapy are the last options before surgery, which I also definitely don’t want. While it’s holding me back from doing a lot of workout moves that I want, I am just going with the flow more than I used to.

  • Work on reducing exposure to pesticides, hormones, chemicals, and other toxins: B+

We’re still conscious of the types of meats, dairy, and other food we buy. I’ve been going to Whole Foods more regularly to buy their organic almond milk, which is surprisingly less expensive than our usual grocery store. I go through a decent amount of it every week between smoothies and my new obsession, overnight oats.

Gluten free overnight oats

That brings us to the end. A recap my monthly grades for the year:
January: C
February: B-
March: B+
April: B+
May…B+! Still holding steady and I will take it!

For the past two months I’ve talked about how I want to work on slowing down. It hasn’t happened to the degree I would like, but both myself and WHH are conscious of taking small steps to make it happen. June isn’t quite as jam-packed for us as May was, but it is slowly filling up. It’s often WHH’s busiest month at work as the school year comes to a close and everyone’s rushing to get everything done.

Though he is technically off for two months, he will be keeping himself busy with some classes and curriculum planning because he finally got his dream job last month: a full-time high school art teacher. So proud of this guy.

Two thumbs up

Out celebrating last month

All in all, June is still looking busy, but we have time planned to kick back and relax, if only for short bursts of time. I know we’ll make every effort to enjoy those moments, no matter how brief, so that it recharges us to go on to the next thing.

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Do you have time planned in the next month to relax a bit? Any accomplishments that you want to brag about?