Officially Discharged from Physical Therapy!

This past Thursday was my last appointment at physical therapy (PT) for treatment of plantar fasciitis. I’m sure anyone would be excited to be discharged from PT, but I am especially excited because this was my third stint at physical therapy this past year!  (Be on the lookout for other posts about my injuries this past year, including information on what treatment worked for me and what didn’t.)

I see the podiatrist tomorrow for what I’m hoping (toes crossed!) is a final follow-up. In the meantime, I’ve been cleared to start easing back into running! I am excited to finally start running again after about 10 months of being unable to. I am also a bit scared because they last time I worked back from an injury was late August and that’s when I developed the plantar fasciitis. In retrospect, the plantar fasciitis has probably been there for the past year, but it was not obvious since I couldn’t run. My left foot would sometimes seize up while I was sitting with it out in front of me, but I was more concerned about what was going on with my other injury at the time.

For those who are lucky enough to not have experienced it, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick band of tissue that run along the bottom of your foot, known as the plantar fascia (the “-itis” addition at the end means “inflammation of”). You will often have pain in your heel or the arch. It can be the most noticeable first thing in the morning when you get out of bed since we sleep with our feet slightly pointed, allowing the fascia to shorten. When you take your first step in the morning, you are very quickly stretching it out, thus irritating the fascia.

The most popular rule of thumb for coming back from injury in the running community is to keep mileage increases to less than or equal to 10% each week. While I plan to follow this, I wasn’t sure what the ratio of running to walking should be. I did a quick Google search and came across this incredibly helpful guide on Physio Advisor.

Of course, being the dork that I am, I had to make myself a handy Excel workbook to track my progress and make sure I don’t overdo it. The spreadsheets incorporate the guide aboves as well as the 10% rule. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

RTRExcel

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I wasn’t sure what to use as a mileage starting point, so I picked two miles for now and will plan to adjust based on how I feel today. I’ll let you know how it went!

Has anyone else had to deal with an injury? What about plantar fasciitis?  Any tips and tricks for dealing with an injury and returning to physical activity?

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Aw, Nuts!

Did anyone hear about the study results from Harvard yesterday in which it was concluded that nuts may reduce your risk of death? In a nutshell (hehe):  “Nut eaters were 25 percent less likely to die from heart disease, 10 percent less likely to die from cancer, and 20 percent less likely to die from diabetes as well as lung diseases.”

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This is great news for me since I have at least a handful of almonds and a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter nearly every day (my co-workers even joke that 2:30 PM is “Peanut Butter Time” for me). My husband has his “nut cup” that he puts a mixture of almonds and walnuts in every day.

But as someone who majored in statistics, my head is crying out, “counfounding variables!” Thankfully, they do touch upon this issue in the article. A confounding variable is basically a variable that correlates with another variable. In this study, confounding variables could be the amount of exercise someone does, a person’s diet, a person’s education level, etc. In other words, do people who regularly eat nuts tend to be healthier people anyway because they exercise, eat well, and are educated about the nutritional benefits of nuts?

Now, let me ask you: Are you as nuts about nuts as me? Do you regularly eat a lot of nuts? Or are you allergic to nuts like my brother and try to be healthy in other ways?

My current peanut butter of choice:

Teddie Old Fashioned All Natural Peanut Butter

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This Is It (Explained)

I understand that my first post (here) may have been a bit vague. What is “it” that I want to do? Fair warning now: this is a bit longer than my first post. I don’t plan on most of my posts being this long. I’m writing this for myself as much as for anyone who wants to read it. I need to see it written down so that I can move on.

Let’s back up a few (or many) years. I have wanted to be in the healthcare field for most of my life. When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I was even a participant in the 2000 National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in Washington, DC. It was an amazing experience and I learned much about what I would need to do to be a doctor. Ironically, it was because of this experience that I decided being a doctor wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to go to school forever, rack up huge loans to pay for school, and then only be able to spend a small amount of time with patients.

When I realized I didn’t want to be a doctor, I felt lost. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I went to college and majored in something I was good at: math (more specifically, statistics). Not knowing what to do with my major, I took a job at a marketing consulting company upon graduating. Many of our clients were in the pharmaceutical industry and over a few years of working there, I realized I was much more interested in the medicine than the marketing. I knew I had to get back to the medical field using skills I already had, so I was excited to get a research position at the number one children’s hospital in the country. My plan was to then go to nursing school to become a nurse practitioner.

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It is this position that forever changed my life. I discovered something I loved and was incredibly good at: clinical research. I spent three wonderful years in various research positions in the cardiology department. During this time I got engaged, got married, lost a dear uncle, and we bought our first house. There was so much going on, I didn’t have time to think about school. I blamed a lot of it on the three-hour round-trip commute. After three years, the commute became too much to justify so I knew it was time to look for a new job.

This is what my commute felt like many days: car to commuter rail to hospital shuttle.

I had incredible luck again as a position in research was open at a local community hospital’s cancer center and I would be working directly with the Clinical Research Nurse. I jumped at the chance to learn a new field of medicine and work directly with a nurse. Additionally, and most importantly, I would now finally have time to go back to school, now that my round-trip commute would be less than an hour!

Fast forward two years to now. I am incredibly happy in my current position, but it’s not what I want to do the rest of my life. I am still not in nursing school. I have gone back and forth over the years about whether I truly want to be a nurse and regrettably, done nothing about it. I’ve done plenty of things in that time, such as further my current career, but my dream life, the life I want to build, has not completely started yet. I think I’ve been struggling with this decision because most of what I want to do isn’t necessarily nursing, but I know that having that RN after my name will give me clout.

I don’t know if it’s because I turned 30 this past year or, more importantly, that our trip to Europe this past summer opened my eyes to all the possible other lifestyles we could have, but I have finally realized that what I want to do is be a type of health coach. I want to help people change their lives through food, exercise, and other whole living techniques. I believe that these are the foundations of health.

I am nearly finished with my application for part-time nursing school. This would (hopefully) start fall 2014. In the meantime, I should take some of the co-requisite courses (Anatomy & Physiology I & II, Microbiology) to get them out of the way. I may also look into getting a nutritionist and/or personal training certification, either now or in the future. The idea is still hazy, but I am sure it will continue to form as I learn what I want to really do and whether people want me to help them do it.

This is also why I started this blog. I want to be able to reach out to people now, to share knowledge I’ve gained over the years through personal and professional experience and research about simple, everyday things we can do to improve our physical, mental, and spiritual health and avoid disease.  I would also love to learn from all of you out there as I am certainly no authority. So, what do you say? Let’s do this!

This Is It

Here it finally is: my first blog post. The blog post I’ve been wanting to write for at least six months now. The blog post I thought I had to wait for the perfect circumstances to write. My two week vacation to Europe over the summer opened my eyes, though. I remember seeing an ad on the Paris metro with the following quote:

I was thankful my dusty French language skills had come back to me so quickly as I was able to figure out the meaning:

 “We have two lives. The second starts the day the day we realize we have only one.”

So, this is it. Life starts now. I need to do what I want and what will make me happy now. Not when xyz is in place or when I have the perfect amount of ideas or when the timing is perfect (which is such an abstract idea—what time is perfect?).

I want to start crafting the life I want. I’m 30 years old, so it’s about time. It’s not that I haven’t “started” my life yet. I love my current job, work for a great employer, have a wonderful husband and family, a starter home with an affordable mortgage, all the things I should want, right? It works and it works well, but I have the sense there’s something else more out there for me. Please join me on my journey as I start to form the life I was meant to lead and to help others find their way as well!