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?

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Mixing It Up

Hi all! I know it’s been awhile (or, at least, a little longer than my usual), but last week I said that I’d probably move to two posts a week and that’s where it’s at. I was hoping to do more of a Tuesday/Friday schedule, but that didn’t work out this week. So I’m mixing it up and doing Wednesday/Friday.

I’m also mixing up a lot of other things in my life right now. Or at least it seems like a lot for me being the creature of habit that I am. When I find something that works for me I like to stick with it. That being said, it is good to get some variety in your life and everything in moderation is always what I’m preaching, so I best be practicing it, too!

On the food front, I’m mixing up my breakfasts again. I had been sticking to a yogurt parfait in the morning for nearly a year. Yes, a year. I’d sometimes mix it up on the weekends and have oatmeal or go out for breakfast, but I always missed my parfait. You’d think I would have gotten sick of them, but surprisingly not.

Pumpkin parfait container

Then, a couple of months ago or so, I changed it up and moved to smoothies for breakfast. Except, again, every.single.day. I finally decided this week that I’m having a combination of items for breakfast throughout the week (smoothie one day, yogurt another day) and I should branch out and try a chia pudding or overnight oats. I’ll let you know if (when!) I do how they come out.

Almond Coconut Milk Smoothie

Also something I have nearly every single day? An apple with nut butter for my afternoon snack. Notice that I did say nut butter, which implies a little variety. It used to be peanut butter only, but I had branched out a while ago and have since been using sunflower and almond butter as well. Remember my stash that I keep at work (upside down, of course!)?

Peanut and sunflower butter upside down

I’ve recently started including pears (gasp!), watermelon (no!), and today, an orange (mon Dieu!)! I think I’ll have a handful of nuts with my orange, though. Doesn’t exactly go with peanut butter. Like, the one thing that doesn’t. Probably because nothing rhymes with orange. 😉

Orange with smiley face

I may have drawn on my orange…

That may not sounds like a lot, but for a type-A, sticks-to-a-plan person like me, this pushes me outside my comfort zone a bit. And is if that weren’t enough…

Ron Popeil but wait there's more

I’m also mixing up my workouts! With the week or so hiatus between classes, I made it to the gym a few times. I ran on the treadmill, did some Little-style walking hill intervals, and hit the heavier weights. I definitely missed the variety of the gym.

I’ll be back at home a lot now that I’m in the midst of a really busy 10 week class, so I wanted to be able to mix it up at home as well. I downloaded the Nike Training Club app after reading about it on Courtney’s blog. I did one of the 15 minute butt workouts, combined with the first five minutes of an abs/glute workout, and I’m still sore two days later! I love that you’re coached through each move and everything’s timed for you. The only thing I didn’t like was the inability to skip a certain move.

Nike Training Club app

I’ve also been expanding my yoga practice thanks to YouTube through my TV via our Wii. I’ll generally search for “yoga for runners” or “yoga for hips” and I’ll get some great results from that. I love the variety since my yoga library is limited both in terms of DVDs and what’s available on On Demand (we have the least expensive cable option) and I’m definitely not one to do my own yoga workout.

You know how else I’m mixing it up, but is actually not working in my favor? Being on my feet a lot more at work. With our medical record Go Live, I’ve been in the infusion room for the past week instead of my desk and I’m doing a lot of standing around. For some reason, standing, as opposed to walking, really bothers me and has made my PF flare up a bit. So I’m easing up on the running for right now so as not to aggravate it further. It wouldn’t be a problem except that it was like going from 0-60 MPH. I went from all sitting to all standing. This week’s been a better variety of sitting and standing, so thank goodness for that.

What prompted me being all kinds of wild and mixing it up? I’ve just felt a bit “off” lately. You know what I mean? My body’s been a bit fussy in terms of GI issues and generally feeling tight, so I’m trying to figure out what I can do to make it better. I’ve also recently discovered the idea that gluten may not be the only issue for me–that FODMAP foods may also be to blame, hence the slight dietary changes. I’m not going all in just yet because that would be a lot of food to change up at once. Plus, it’s ice cream season.

Double fisting ice cream

Questions: Do you tend to stick to certain habits? Do you need to make yourself change things up or do you look forward to it? Is there anything you’ve changed up recently?

Friday Favorite: Podcast Edition

Good morning and Happy Friday! It’s been a bit of a crazy week, both at work and home. A&P II started this week and is only a 10 week class (compared to the usual 16 weeks), so I’m thinking things are about to get a bit crazier. I’ve been contemplating the idea of moving to only two posts a week. While I’m sad to do this, I feel it’s what I need to do to maintain my classwork and my sanity. We’ll see how it works out in the coming weeks, but I hope you’ll still stop by!

Speaking of sanity, know what kept me sane during my crazy commute to Boston and now keeps me going during my runs? Podcasts! I’ve found that listening to podcasts, while entertaining and educational, also help me with pacing. When I listened to music during my runs, I would always match my pace to the beat of the song, which would inevitably mess me up. I know many people make playlists for running based on BPM, but I don’ t know that I have the creativity or music library for that.

You already know my girl Jillian Michaels has one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. She makes me laugh, she’s informative, and has a very funny and thoughtful sidekick/producer named Janice Ungaro (who I quickly met at Jillian’s Maximize You Life Tour last year!).

Jillian Michaels Podcast

My new favorite podcast that makes me feel like I’m cheating on Jillian is Evan Brand’s Not Just Paleo. As the name of the podcast implies, he doesn’t preach about paleo, though it is something he’s passionate about. The thing I love about his podcast is he has a variety of knowledgeable guests that he has great questions for. Though I just started listening about a month ago and am not up to date on the most recent ones, my favorites so far have been podcast #71 with guest Dr. Ray McClanahan, a podiatrist who quickly made me re-think my approach to footwear and podcast # 72 with guest Dr. Tim Gerstmar, a naturopathic doctor.

Not Just Paleo podcast

Moving on to a more running-specific podcast is Kinetic Revolution’s Train Smarter. Though I’ve only listened to one podcast so far, I found it incredibly informative. Kinetic Revolution is a group of running coaches and physiotherapists that provide services for runners, triathletes, and endurance athletes. Needless to say, they know a lot about running. Plus, listening to British accents is always fun!

Kinetic Revolution Train Smarter Podcast

The last podcast is based on one of my favorite books, Freakonomics (I have not yet read SuperFreakonomics or their newest book that was just released this month, Think Like a Freak, but they’re on my list!). For anyone who hasn’t heard of Freakonomics, it’s a book by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner that  exposes the hidden side of just about everything, from how real estate agents really make money, to why crime may have dropped suddenly in the 90s. They also have a movie (it’s available free on Amazon Prime Instant!), though it’s basically just illustrating the book, so if you don’t want to read the book, it’s a good CliffsNotes version.

Anyway, back to the podcast. They have a variety of topics that they break down for you with research, such as “How to Make People Quit Smoking,” “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” and “Would a Big Bucket of Cash Really Change Your Life?” One of my absolute favorite episodes is The Economist’s Guide to Parenting. I won’t spoil it–you’ll just have to give it a listen! If you’re a research nerd like me, or just want to know the numbers behind the results, this is the podcast for you. Not to mention the Steven and Stephen are funny in a nerdy kind of way.

Freakonomics Radio Podcast

When I was commuting to Boston I used to listen to a lot of the different How Stuff Works podcasts. Stuff You Should Know with the hysterical Josh and Chuck was the main one I listened to, as well as Stuff Mom Never Told You and Stuff You Missed in History Class. I haven’t listened to them in a while since I already have a full library of podcasts, but will download a podcast here and there if there’s an episode I’m particularly interested in.

A lot of other bloggers I follow have written about their favorite podcasts. Funnily enough, Carrots ‘n’ Cake shared some of her favorite podcasts just earlier this week. I know a lot of people, WH bro included, who are fans of NPR’s This American Life, such as Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point. Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers is another NPR fan, liking Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.

Questions: Do you listen to podcasts? When you work out or when you commute? What are some of your favorite podcasts?

How Long Should You Hold a Stretch?

Happy Monday and Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to all of the fabulous moms out there. I don’t know how you ladies do it! I hope you all had a wonderful day. The weather was heavenly in Massachusetts, and as I predicted, it seemed we went right from winter to summer. It was in the 80s!

Crabapple blossoms

Crabapple tree finally blossoming about 2 weeks later than usual

We had a lovely brunch yesterday with my parents, grandmother, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, and my husband’s Grammie. It was such a whirlwind that I didn’t snap any pictures, despite making a point to take out our camera. The only thing I captured was cooking the veggies for the frittata the night before:

Veggie frittata filling

Everything cooked right in the cast iron. I love one-pot/pan cooking!

Today I wanted to talk about stretching because I have found it to be so beneficial for recovering from my injuries as well as staying injury-free. Since I’ve already shared my favorite stretches for the lower body, I wanted to specifically talk about how long to hold stretches* for because I’ve found people tend to rush through them. So,

How long to hold a stretch

My answer? At least twenty seconds. How did I arrive at this number? That’s how long my physical therapist told me I was to hold my prescribed stretches and I’ve been doing it ever since. When I first started doing this, 20 seconds seemed like forever. Now I’ll often hold a stretch for longer to allow myself to go deeper into the stretch. And, not only do I hold them for 20 seconds, but I often do two sets!

Quad stretch

To make the most of holding a stretch this long, use your breath to help ease you deeper into the stretch. Those that do yoga will know what I’m talking about, but for those who haven’t done it, use your inhale to relax your muscles while you’re in the stretch, and use your exhale to go deeper. Don’t force anything, because that can do more harm than good. Push it to where you feel it, but it shouldn’t be painful. I find it amazing how much deeper I can go as I relax the surrounding muscles and then use the exhale to stretch further.

Don’t forget to keep the rest of your muscles loose when you’re stretching as well. I sometimes find myself tensing up other areas of my body as I try to get a deeper stretch and have to constantly remind myself to keep it loose. As my girl Jillian likes to say when stretching the hammies,

Jillian Michaels streching quote

That being said, for anyone who does her DVDs, I would caution that she does not hold stretches long enough. Much of the time she seems to hold them for less than 10 seconds each. I have found this to be more of a problem in her quick workout DVDs such as 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30, probably to add to the speed of the workout. I always stop the DVD during the cool down and do my stretches. Don’t forget that you need to listen to your body and I’m guessing you’ll hear it asking for you to hold that stretch longer!

*Please note that I’m referring to static stretching. Static stretches are isolated stretches that you hold for a length of time and should be done at the end of a workout as opposed to dynamic stretching, or stretching that utilizes movement through the stretch and is done as part of a warm-up. A static stretch for shoulders, for example, would be when you pull the arm across the body to the opposite side, whereas a dynamic stretch for the shoulders would be arm circles.

Questions: How was your Mother’s Day? How’s the weather been lately where you are? Do you have a stretching routine? How long do you hold stretches for?

New Year’s Goals Check-In: April

Happy May! How did the month of April look for you? Anything you’re looking forward to in the next month? Here’s a breakdown of my goals for the New Year and how I did in April:

Personal Goals

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

After putting away the winter clothes and taking out the spring/summer clothes, I’m good for now, though I will probably need some summer clothes since I was running low last year. I also remembered a bag of clothes I had put aside from the tailor when I lost too much weight. I tried the clothes on and three of the five items now fit well enough that I don’t need them taken in. Still tempted to try Stitch Fix.

  • Take more pictures: B

I’m still taking a lot of pictures and keeping them organized moving forward. We received our Shutterfly book and it’s such a nice little memento to look through. I still want to go back through our vacation pictures more thoroughly to organize/make notes on them and get more printed for an old-fashioned photo album. And wedding pics? Yeah…

Shutterfly vacation book

A funny series of picture from the top of the incredibly sunny Jungfraujoch.

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: A-

This past month we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants a bit. It’s been crazy with work, studying, working out, and family/friends, so we’ve been less creative than usual and definitely have not done much meal planning. I’m going to curve this grade a bit, though, because class comes first and we’re still eating plenty clean and healthy.

One new recipe I did make? Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie from Cook Smarts. Yummy, yum, yum!

Deconstructed shepherd's pie

One thing I have been really good at: “use it up” recipes. That is, using up all of the leftovers in my fridge for a random meal. Last night I had some eggplant, pepper, shallot, Brussels sprouts leaves, stewed tomatoes,and tempeh that needed to be used. Et voila, a take on ratatouille:

Left over meal

  • Travel: A

Tickets to Colorado are booked! Now we need fill in the blanks of where to stay (hopefully with my brother in the Boulder area for a few days) and what to do (hiking, horseback riding, etc.). I would love any suggestions if you’ve been there before!

A trip to the Netherlands to visit friends is still possible later this year, though not probable.

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: B+

When aren’t I reading?! I feel like all I do is read! This month’s school assignments have included incredibly long chapters, as well as double chapters this past week. I’m a regular book’s worth (~300 pages) through A Storm of Swords (which is even longer!)!

TV has been average, with some of our favorite shows all back on at the same time (A Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Vikings, and Call the Midwife). We try to portion it out so we watch on weekends nights only. Do you watch any of these shows? We only know two other people who watch Vikings and can’t believe it’s not more popular given how popular GOT is. Lagertha is one of my favorite characters because she is so bad a$$. I could go on and on about how good this show is (not as good as GOT, though), but since this is my reading instead of watching TV goal, I’ll save myself the shame.

History Channel Vikings

Speaking of shame…I have a “french fry” (no good for me, but tastes so good!) show: Total Divas. I am absolutely fascinated by this world of tough, athletic women that throw themselves around. I may even follow the Bella Twins on Instagram and Twitter. I try to watch only when I’m foam rolling or icing, because I really don’t have time for this.

Total Divas

This month has consisted of nothing but the necessary, so a no-go on the Pinterest board. I’m scaling it because classwork is to blame (so she says after talking about TV shows!) and I’m not going to give myself a hard time for not getting to it when that’s what I’m spending most of my time on.

  • Simplify house further: B+

Yet another bag of items off to be donated as well as a Thred Up bag to be sent! Still no-go on the dreaded closet, but see legitimate excuse above.

Thred Up logo

  • Meet with financial advisor: C+

Still haven’t done this. I’m thinking I may move it to the end of the summer when I will be done with classes for a few weeks and can properly concentrate. Scaled accordingly.

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

Ugh. I am seriously tanking this month. April obviously kicked my butt. Will re-assess the TV situation for sure.

Professional:

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

It’s my last week of A&P I (still holding a 95% average!) and A&P II starts in three weeks, so I get one week off in between.

Dissection for Anatomy & Physiology I

  • Start nursing school: TBD

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

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B+

I had my first guest post this month and was definitely better with posting at more consistent times and prepping more posts ahead of time, so I feel really good about that given how busy the month was.

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

Still not a focus right now, though it is on my mind a lot . A possibility for the fall…

Health and Wellness:

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

No quite as good as last month. My focus has been mainly on trying to maintain a routine during some busy weeks, and to keep moving forward in my Return to Running program. I have ventured out on some trails, though, and have made a big effort to find new routes at every chance.

April train run

Friday’s run was stage 16! My right knee felt a little funny during part of the run, so I’ve been icing and taking it easy the past few days. It’s my weird knee that acts up from time to time. I think I overdid it during one of Jillian’s workouts that had a lot of plyo training. I just need to not do that anymore. My knees never like me after I do. Trying not to think too much about it.

Hill running

Lots of hills on Friday’s run. Kept saying to myself, “You can do this!”  instead of “When will this hill end?!”

I’m done with the 12 days of prednisone for my tennis elbow and while it felt fabulous the first few days, pain and stiffness shortly returned. After being in training all week last week and not doing much computer mousing, it definitely felt looser and I was able to do some wall and knee push-ups for the first time since December. I think that may be the key: keeping it loose long enough so I can strengthen it. I asked for another ergonomic evaluation at work, hoping that might help the situation. I go back to my orthopedist tomorrow and will probably refuse the second cortisone injection I’m sure they’re going to offer me. Second opinion is next.

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

We’ve continued to make an effort to buy more natural meats, whether they’re vegetarian-fed (the cheapest of the natural meats), grass-fed, and/or organic. I’ve also been checking out the 365 Everyday Value brand at Whole Foods a lot more and the prices are not only reasonable, they’re often less than Market Basket’s equivalent. Love it!

365 Everday Value logo

To recap my monthly grades so far:

January: C
February: B-
March: B+
And April…B+! Whew…I seriously thought it was going to go down. I’ll take a steady B+ for now given how crazy this month was.

Last month I mentioned that I wanted to focus on more on slowing down. That didn’t exactly happen and as this new month started I was thinking how every day was going by so quickly and I felt like I was doing what I could to just get through it, making sure to eat healthy, work out, get my school work done, and maybe have time to read for pleasure and/or watch TV, let alone get to house stuff.

We did have some fun, having friends over one weekend night, attending some family events, and then celebrating my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday in style at Nebo in Boston (delicious food, great service, and gluten-free menu!). But it’s still a lot. WHH has a lot going on, too, but I’m hoping as his school year comes to a close in the next two months and the lazy days of summer are upon us, we’ll find time to stop and smell the roses. For now, I’ll have to just enjoy the little moments, such as this beautiful scene I caught on my way to work this morning.

May sunrise

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Did April go by as quickly and crazily for you or were you able to stop and enjoy it?

Quick Tip: Keep an Exercise Log

Good morning! I know this sounds awful, and I shouldn’t wish my days away, but I can’t wait until this week is over. My work schedule is 1.5 hr later than usual thanks to week-long off-site training, which throws off my workout and study schedule since I’m still getting up and going to bed at the same time for traffic reasons. In addition, this week’s homework includes two chapters of reading (vs the usual one), a test, a quiz, a dissection (sheep brain), and a lab report. Finally, and something I’m looking forward to, tomorrow is WHH and my MIL’s birthday and we have various celebrations throughout the weekend. Everything happens at once!

Tired bunny

Wilbur is tired just thinking about my schedule this week

One thing that helps me not only during my regular weeks, but especially during the crazy weeks, is keeping an exercise log. What can I say? I’m a planner. It helps me look at the week and plan my days off around known conflicts. On crazy weeks I give myself a break and aim to get 3-4 workouts a week. Most times, depending on intensity and other various factors (e.g., if I pull something), I aim for 5-6 days a week.

I made a simple sheet in Google drive that I keep updated throughout the week. I keep four weeks’ worth of workouts visible at a time to make sure I’m constantly mixing it up. Since I only do some workouts once a week (yoga and barre), it also helps to look at when I did it last week so that I’m sure to evenly space things out, if possible. Here’s what I’m currently looking at:

Exercise log

I’ve already tentatively filled in the rest of the week based on what I may or may not be able to fit in.

The thing I love about keeping an exercise journal is that not only does it help me plan (“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!”), but it gives me a great sense of accomplishment of what I’ve been able to do over the past month. It also helps me see where my training may be lacking and helps me fill in the blanks. On days that I have no idea what I want to do, I’ll look at the gaps. Have I not done strength in a while? Running (not that I’m likely to forget that!)? Yoga?

Please keep in mind that this is meant to be one tool in your toolbox of healthy living tools that you can use, not something to obsess over or feel bad about. I didn’t feel bad about these weeks, for example, when I was clearly ill:

Off weeks exercise log

And I won’t feel bad this week if I don’t get in my usual workouts. I make an effort to be especially mindful of what I eat to “make up” for less physical weeks, so to say, but even if I’m not, it’s just one week. Not a big deal in the larger scheme.

Perhaps you don’t want to keep a nerdy excel-like spreadsheet as I do. You could also do the old-fashioned pen and paper. You could get a little fancier and buy an actual workout journal.

Workout Journal

You could use an app, such as my favorite MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal logo

You could find a free printable one online.

Source

Whatever it is, make it work for you. Perhaps you don’t need or want an exercise journal. That’s fine. I just wanted to share what works for me and how I keep myself motivated, accountable, and making sure I’m as healthy as I can.

Questions: Do you keep an exercise log? Why or why not? If you do,what kind? Are you a tracker and planner by nature?

What’s Working Lately

Happy Monday! This weekend flew by! The weather was pretty gross here in Massachusetts-back to the 40s, rainy, and just dreary. Though it made staying in and doing homework for most of it a bit easier, I suppose. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze in another run in between showers. It threatened the whole time, but I outran the storm clouds!

April showers

As I was running, and feeling so grateful that I had made it to stage 16 relatively uneventfully, I was thinking about what’s been working for me lately to get me to this point. Of course, then I started thinking about all the things in my life that are just kind of geling, which then lead me to think about some things that aren’t. So, in true type-A fashion, I started making some lists when I got home. 🙂

What’s Working 

  • My current workout routine: This consists of running 2-3x a week using the Return to Running program faithfully. I’ve also made sure to incorporate one yoga routine a week, one barre3 workout, and strengthening.
  • Injury prevention: As I’ve been amping up the running, I’m sure to massage and do an ice rub following each outing. In addition to icing on the day of the run, I’ve also been icing my foot nearly every single night when I get in bed to read for about 10-20 min. Foam rolling 1-2 times a week, especially along the IT band and into my glutes, has helped keep my glute injury at bay.

Ice massage for plantar fasciitis

  • Running on varied surfaces: My feet really love me when I run on grass, so I make a point to have a trail run or a run along an area with grass in one of my weekly runs. I can really feel the difference and I think this has helped to keep the plantar fasciitis at bay.
  • Chipping away at homework: For the first half of the semester, I did the bulk of my homework on the weekends. Of course, this left me trying to cram a lot of information into a short time and not getting much else done on the weekends. I’ve been trying to make a point of doing one hour of homework every night. Breaking big jobs into smaller tasks is a concept I need to work on. I let myself get overwhelmed with the big picture, decide to tackle it all at once, and stress myself out unnecessarily.

Proper dissection safety

 Dissection time!

  • Getting to bed earlier: My energy has been so much better lately thanks to making an effort to getting to bed about 15-20 minutes earlier. It makes the evening shorter, but it’s so worth it!

Of course, this list leads me to consider the opposite topic…

What’s Not Working

  • My diet: I seem to be hovering a pound or two higher than my usual range the past few weeks. This wouldn’t bother me except that I feel uncomfortable and have a heaviness in my midsection. Is it true weight gain? Is it because of the time of the month? Is it irregularity? Is it the prednisone? Whatever it is, something needs to change. I’m definitely not my usual self. So I’ve decided to try to cut down my dairy intake a bit. I love my morning yogurt parfaits, but I shouldn’t have them every.single.day. I’m also going to refocus on my fruit and vegetable intake, decrease my sugar, increase my fiber, and double-check my calories as all this running has made me a bit rungry. I also ordered the RawJuvenate’s 2 Week Detox Kit through a Groupon (it includes that supergreens mix I loved from my Greatist box!). I’ll be having this for breakfast every day and am hoping it will help “reset” my system. My goal isn’t to lose weight, but be back to feeling myself.

Pumpkin, kale, and almond butter smoothie

This morning’s pumpkin, kale, & almond butter protein smoothie

  • My tennis elbow: The prednisone worked great for the first few days. I felt like a new woman! But then, even though I was still on it (two more days to go), I started feeling the tightness more and more. I’m not back to where I started, but it’s not near the result I was hoping for based on how I felt the first few days. I’m going to try some ART therapy tomorrow to see if I can loosen up the muscles before it comes back with a vengeance. If that doesn’t work, I’m going for a second opinion. I saw what life could be without the constant pain and tightness and I want that back!

On the Edge of Not Working

  • My current life pace: I feel like I’m right on the edge of being overwhelmed. I’ve been able to work everything in so far with taking class and having it fit into my life (that is, still being able to work out regularly, prepare fresh, healthy meals, keep up with the house, blog, and have a social life). But there are times when I feel like the balance could almost tip. In that case, I will need to assess what can go and what can stay because this path I’m on is important to me. Whatever is in the way of that will have to go, whether it’s changing up blogging to only twice a week, or giving up TV altogether.

That’s that for now. A bit of a mind dump, but I wanted to share what’s working for me in case there’s something there that could help you. I think it’s good to assess our day-to-day life to make sure we’re living a happy, healthy life. We only have this day, this moment, and we need to make the most of it.

Aim High graphic

Questions: What about you? What’s working for you lately? What’s not working?

 

New Year’s Goals Check-In: March

Personal Goals

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

I don’t need any clothes right now. We’ll see what happens as I put away our winter clothes and take out the spring/summer clothes and take an inventory. I am tempted to try Stitch Fix, though…

  • Take more pictures: B+

I’m still taking a decent amount of pictures and–even better–keeping them organized moving forward. We just made our free Shutterfly book. I’m not crazy about the quality of the book or the options, but hey, it was (mostly) free (had to pay S&H and for a few extra pages). Looking over our pictures to choose for the book made me want to go back through them more thoroughly to organize/make notes on them.

Europe vacation Shutterfly book

 

The plan this month is to frame a wedding picture and get albums for our proofs.

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: A-

We have been making at least one new recipe each week and I’m happy to report that they’re mostly “real” recipes, with some made-up ones thrown in there. I’m joining in on Carrots ‘n’ Cake’s April Cookbook Challenge  to break into more of that giant Bittman book. She also did a great series on shopping at WF/Trader Joe’s on a budget, which has inspired me to be better about meal planning and perhaps be able to shop at WF more!

Coconut curry peanut butter stir fry

  • Travel:A-

Excited to have more definite plans! We’re making definite plans to go to Colorado to visit my brother when he moves there this summer. We’re hoping to spend 5-7 days in the Boulder/Denver area and would love any suggestions if you’ve been there before!

A trip to the Netherlands to visit friends is looking less and less like a possibility this year. The flights are just too darn expensive for us. We will see how things look in the fall, but I wouldn’t go without WHH and he can’t take time away from school.

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: B+

I finally finished A Clash of Kings and am now on to A Storm of Swords (which is even longer!)! Still lots of reading for class. Moved the Blog, Inc. book to the coffee table in the living room to encourage me to read that instead of watching TV, which has been much more minimal this month.

A Sword of Storms

As you saw earlier in the month, we finished the inexpensive industrial-inspired shelves for the kitchen. We haven’t gotten to much else, but as I’ve said before, school is the priority. School, healthy eating, working out, everyday life (I include that in everyday life).

  • Simplify house further: C+

Not quite as good as last month, but we’re slowly getting there. Another bag of items off to be donated and a bunch of (empty) boxes cleared out of the basement. That dreaded closet, though…

  • Meet with financial advisor: C+

Even though we haven’t done this yet, we have a plan. Taxes were done last month, so we have more information to go on.

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

Though I still need to go back and do reviews from our travel last summer, I’ve been really good moving forward with items I buy and things we do. So, I’ve upped my score this month.

Professional:

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

Still on A&P I right now and signed up for A&P II for the summer. Plus, my average is now up to 95%!

Skeleton model for Anatomy and Physiology I

  • Start nursing school: ?

As I told you last month, I’m on the wait-list for Fall 2014. I’ve decided to just focus on the next few months for right now: get through A&P I&II, and start thinking about my plan for the fall in mid-summer. I still need to take microbiology (fun!), so that’s a possibility for the fall.

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B

I’m continuing to learn new things every day and further develop my voice and focus. I would like to get better at preparing my posts even more ahead of time and posting at set times on the days I post. WHH is working on the logo and new banner. I have a few exciting things going on this month: a new product review and my first guest blogger! Stay tuned…

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

Again, not a focus right now, though it is on my mind constantly. We’ll see what the fall brings. I’d love some feedback from anyone out there who is certified in either field. I’m definitely interested in doing both, especially since I strongly feel they go together.

Health and Wellness:

  • Try new physical endeavor as my body continues to heal from all of the injuries last year: A-

I’m happy that I’m still headed in the right direction, slowly but surely. I’ve told myself I wouldn’t worry about how long it would take to come back and I’m following through on that promise to myself. Workouts have been mostly at home due to budgeting time for class, so no swimming or spin classes yet, but I’ve still been able to mix it up. I recently tried one of the Ballet Beautiful DVDs I’ve heard so much about. It seemed to be a more traditional ballet-type class. I personally didn’t love it and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I was looking for more instruction on form? I think I just prefer the more yoga/pilates-influenced barre workouts.

Ballet Beautiful Body Blast DVD

I have my first race on Sunday as the running club representative from my work, though I will be walk/running it. I had a bit of a set-back with my plantar fasciitis last month, but I think it had to do more with breaking in my orthotics. I’m finally at stage 9 (yesterday’s run!) of the Return to Running program. Who knows, maybe that marathon talk wasn’t so crazy?

Outside run

In terms of my tennis elbow, occupational therapy has been going well. I’m happy to report that I’ve seen some slow improvements. I’ve been mostly staying off of my elbow (no upper body workouts or yoga poses), but I tested it out a bit last week with the ballet workout. It didn’t hurt while I was doing it, so I went ahead. It was probably a bit too much, too quickly, which resulted in it being painful for a few days, but then luckily died back down. A good sign, says the OT.

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

We’ve been really good at making an effort to buy more natural meats, whether they’re vegetarian-fed (the cheapest of the natural meats), grass-fed, and/or organic. Whenever I see some of the meat is on sale (usually because it’s about to expire), I stock up! It’s great having it at our disposal in the freezer and I love knowing we’re reducing our exposure to all kinds of weird hormones and chemicals.

Grass fed beef on sale frozen

To recap my monthly grades so far:

January: C

February: B-

This month’s overall GPA is…  B+. Not bad, not bad at all. Going in the right direction. I’ll take it.

One thing I do want to focus on more this month as we have so much going on is making sure to take the time to slow down. Life is going by so fast and I want to just press the pause button! WHH and I had a little celebration for our 13 year anniversary (being together) and it was such a nice treat on a random weeknight: dinner out after we both worked out (and showered), followed by dessert at one of those fro-yo sundae bars I’ve never been to, then curling up on the couch to watch the phenomenal Walking Dead finale. We are usually go-go-go on weekdays (work, workout, dinner prep and eat, showers, studying, prep for next day, sleep), so it was so nice to truly enjoy the night and not feel like we had to do anything.

Whisky sour

WHH’s been on a whisky kick lately thanks to a friend from KY introducing him to the good stuff.

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Do you feel like life is going by too fast sometimes? What do you do to try to slow it down?

Friday Favorite: barre3 28 to Great Program

Happy (freezing!) Friday!

Temperature March 7 2014

As I’ve mentioned before, I purchased the barre3 28 to Great program back in late January through a Living Social deal.

Living Social Barre3 28 to Great package deal

I had actually had this on my Pinterest Wish List for about a year, and when I saw it on Living Social, I jumped at the chance to grab it for such a great price! I also knew that I’d be working out at home more for the next few months so I could devote as much time as possible to my A&P class. I had tried barre workouts at a local, non-franchised studio last year and really enjoyed it. I stopped going because my injuries made it difficult to do a lot of the moves, plus the cost in addition to my gym membership was a bit more than I was willing to pay. So I couldn’t wait to open the package when it arrived!

Barre3 28 to Great package

It comes with everything you need except for light hand weights and a surface to help you balance (a chair). I found it a bit challenging to get the ball blown up, because you essentially put the plastic straw in it to blow it up.

Barre3 core ball

I’ve since gotten it to a pretty good firmness, though I wouldn’t mind it being a bit harder. Maybe I should commission WHH to help? (That all sounds really dirty and I don’t mean it to!)

Barre3 core ball

The DVDs included with the program are:

  • barre3 Burner DVD – 40 Minutes
  • barre3 Ballet Fit DVD – 40 Minutes + Bonus 10 Min Ballet Core
  • barre3 Ballet Boot Camp DVD – 30 Minutes
  • barre3 Studio Shape DVD – 60 Minutes
  • barre3 Standing Slim DVD – 30 Minutes

The program also comes with the 28 to Great Guide (a workout and nutrition plan designed to shape your body in 28 days) and 15 days of access to barre3 Online Workouts. I bought this program with the intention of changing it up from always doing my Jillian Michaels or Sportskool On Demand workouts, not to reshape my body in 28 days, so I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has done the full program. As much as I love the workouts, there’s no way I could do only this nearly every day.

My favorite thing about these workouts is that the instructors offer so many modifications, which I have found especially handy lately with my ongoing tennis elbow. The workouts would be great for anyone dealing with an injury because instructors offer modifications and accommodations for nearly every type of issue.

I also love that the workouts are low-impact. It gives my healing plantar fasciitis a little bit of a break on days that it’s acting up, and again, would be great with someone who has any kind of injury that limits high-impact workouts. I can also see this being a great pre- and post-natal workout as there are a lot of the moves that condition the pelvic floor muscles. The moves are functionally-based and challenging without zapping all of your energy.

Sadie Lincoln

Given my loyalty to Jillian Michaels, I was surprised how much I liked Sadie Lincoln’s teaching style. She’s bubbly without being too saccharin and her prompts are spot-on. She’s always offering you a way to modify, telling you what you should be feeling and where, or how to check your form to make sure you won’t hurt yourself. I look forward to the DVDs that she’s the instructor on because I know she’ll make me feel like I don’t have to push myself if my injuries are bothering me, but to still do as much as I can. Plus, she answers Tweets!

Barre3 Sadie 28 to Great convo Barre3 Sadie running Barre3Sadie Shakes and Quakes

I haven’t tried my 15 day pass to the online classes yet because I’m saving for when (if) I get sick of the five DVDs. I looked at them, though, and there is a huge variety! I can’t recommend this workout enough for changing up your routine, injury recovery, and ease of at-home workouts. (Please note that this is not a paid review, nor was I given anything for free–I just really love this workout that I purchased with my own money!)

In other news…I started occupational therapy today for my tennis elbow. The therapist dug into my elbow and was playing around with the calcium deposit, trying to break it up. Given the amount of time I’ve been dealing with this, I’m technically in the chronic phase now, but he’s optimistic that if we can get in there and break up the deposit, while lengthening and then strengthening my muscles, I should have a full recovery. My session ended with an iontophoresis patch, which I am to keep on for 14 hours.

Iontophoresis for tennis elbow

As you can see from the +/- signs, there is self-contained battery pack in the patch. On the minus side, the therapist put a solution of dexamethasone (a corticosteroid) and on the plus side, he put salt water. Though I’m a bit hazy on the chemistry of it, my understanding is that the charge conducted via the salt water will drive the dexamethasone into my skin, like an injection without a needle. I don’t feel any change (in fact, I don’t feel anything at all), but we’ll see what happens.

I also got my arm taped up to limit my movement in order to let the tendons rest.

Taping for tennis elbow

I have two appointments next week, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some improvement!

Questions: Have you tried any new workouts lately? Have you tried barre workouts? Any injuries, new or old, you’re working around?

Please feel free to leave any additional comments or questions! Have a great weekend!

New Year’s Goals Check-In: February

Another month in the books for 2014! I can’t believe it’s already March, though I am so ready to be done with this winter. It’s been a killer here in Massachusetts, as it has around much of the country, between the amount of snowfall and the constant bitter cold. It’s the cold more than anything that I’m sick of. And it’s not just me– it’s officially been confirmed that this has been one of the most terrible winters, according to the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, aka the misery index.

Proof of  Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index

Proof of Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index

On the positive side? The days are getting longer and they’ll be even longer next week when we spring forward on Sunday! Also positive? I think I’ve done a bit better this month with some of my goals, and that’s saying something since it’s the shortest month of the year! Let’s see…

Personal Goals

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

My parents knew how desperate I was for new clothes, so they hooked me up with a great birthday gift and went shopping for me. Something new they got me that I wouldn’t normally wear: bright pink pants from Banana Republic! I love pink (I’m actually wearing it today) and have a pink skirt, so why not pink pants? I exchanged some of the items that didn’t fit and walked out with a couple of more items a little outside my comfort zone: a high-necked sweater (I’m usually a large, open or V-neck type of girl so my short neck looks longer) and a silk shirt.

Banana Republic blue sweater and shirt

  • Take more pictures: B

Again, thanks to the blog and joining Instagram, I have been documenting more. WHH and I have sat down and started going through our wedding pictures to pick out a few more to get framed (yes, from our wedding nearly five years ago). We still have need to make our free Shutterfly book. The code runs out on 4/1, so we’re under a deadline! Would love to make a 2013 “yearbook” like Young House Love while we’re in the midst of that.

  • Make a new menu item weekly: B+

Like last month, we have been making at least one new recipe each week, though most of them are variations of recipes we already make or are made-up recipes. We did make a garlicky roasted brussels sprouts recipe from the Bittman book from my brother, and they’re a new favorite in this house!

Garlicky roasted brussel sprouts

I’ve also been especially good about mixing it up on the weekends with my breakfast. You know how much I love my yogurt parfaits, but I have been making smoothies and protein pancakes instead. My best pancake recipe so far was the one I made up this weekend and shared on Instagram:

Gluten free protein pancakes

We could still use improvement in meal planning before going to the grocery store, hence the B+ (so close to the A!).

  • TravelC+

I’m scaling the grading on this one since we’re trying to save money, and travel is obviously one of the first places to pinch some pennies. Still no concrete travel plans. I Skyped with my friends in the Netherlands over the weekend and I want to visit them so badly! My brother is also moving to Colorado in the fall, so we’d love to visit him once he settles in. Price alerts are still out on Kayak and Airfarewatchdog, and I have contacted my travel agent to double-check on her end for flights to the Netherlands.

Amsterdam canals in summer

Amsterdam, c/o Joshua Doubek

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: C+

It’s officially National Reading Month and I’ve been reading a ton, but it’s mostly been my A&P textbook. So that pile of books may still be on my nightstand, but I’ll get to them eventually. I’m still in the midst of reading A Clash of Kings (Game of Thrones book #2), but I’m finally nearing the end! I’ll admit that I’ve been bad the past week or so with TV on the weekends. I think my brain just needs an escape from all of the information it’s been absorbing lately. Still, it no excuse. But to reduce the guilt (and keep with simplifying the house goal), I brought the old magazines I hadn’t read yet to work for patients to read. And I feel a bit better knowing the subscription was free from our participation in the CHaD HERO, so I haven’t wasted any money.

A Clash of Kings by R.R. Martin

So, I’m scaling this one as well because we got some things done that weren’t on there, but had been on my “want to do” list in my head. I’m also scaling to give myself a bit of a break given my time is stretched thinly these days with my class (this past week my lab reports alone totaled about 8 hours’ worth of work!). I would like to get to this pin for organizing my KitchenAid stand mixer attachments this month, which seems incredibly simple to do. We’re going to attempt to fix up some of our hardwood floors one once the weather gets nicer. And we’re in the midst of completing these inexpensive industrial-inspired shelves for the kitchen. Can’t wait to share pictures!

  • Organize my life better: ?

Now that I look at this one, it’s quite vague. I should have made it more specific. Since I have some other goals that are related to this one that are specific, I’m striking it off the list. That feels good. 🙂

  • Simplify house further: B+

Though I haven’t gotten to our closet of shame yet…

Closet organization needed

…I quickly went through some bags of clothes my mom had brought over as she’s been cleaning out their attic. Most of the things, as well as some things that were already in our house, quickly went off to be donated.

Clothes donation pile

  • Meet with financial advisor: F

Still haven’t done this yet. We will plan to do this after we file our taxes. I was thinking taxes were due in a week, but we still have another month! Regardless, want to get my money back ASAP. I hate giving the government an interest-free loan!

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel: D

Same as last month: I need to go back and do reviews from our travel last summer!

Professional:

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

I’m taking A&P I right now and I’m giving myself an A+ for having a 93% average! I know 93 is technically an A or A-, but whatever. Woot woot! (That’s a picture of our wedding pictures to go through in the background–talk about a two-fer picture!)

Microscope for anatomy and physiology I lab

  • Start nursing school: ?

I finally heard back this week and I’m bummed to tell you that the program is full for the fall, so I’ve been wait-listed and have a definite in for Fall 2015. I was able to speak with the Assistant Dean of Nursing and she told me the waitlist is short, so there is a chance I’ll still get in this fall (though no idea where on the list I fall). I asked her what I could do to move forward in case I didn’t make it in, and she gave me some good ideas. Will reassess as needed. Trying to remain positive.

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B-

I’ve done a bit more blogging research and changed things up a little on the blog visually. WHH is working on a logo and new banner (he actually went to school for graphic design, not teaching). I haven’t had a chance to break into my Blog, Inc. book yet, but I’m scaling this one again given my focus needs to be on school. I was a bit stressed out last night thinking about needing to do this post while trying to finish my assignment, which took me over four hours just last night. I am still committed to this blog, but in speaking with WHH last night, decided I may need to scale back on the length of some posts. I’m also thinking about some people who would be great for a guest post!

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

No time right now. We’ll see what the fall brings.

Health and Wellness:

  • Try new physical endeavor as my body continues to heal from all of the injuries last year: A-

I would say I’m doing pretty well in this category despite my injuries and my need to be more savvy with my workout schedule given the demands of my class. I’m tentatively doing two races in April (probably as a walk/run) as the hospital I work at is sponsoring them and I will be leading the running club/Couch to 5k group in the spring! Though I’ve had a bit of a set-back with my plantar fasciitis the past two weeks, I am planning to try running on it today. I’m going to go back a level on the Return to Running plan, but that’s okay with me. I’d rather be injury-free!

Return to running week 15

I still haven’t tried spinning yet, nor have I ventured into my gym’s pool, but I have done a lot of new at-home workouts via SportSkool and the Jillian Michaels DVDs I got for Christmas. I’ve also been loving the barre3 DVD 28 to Great set. The biggest problem with the pool is that I don’t have a one-piece swimsuit. I tried some on when I was at Dick’s on Friday, but they were all incredibly uncomfortable.

Jillian Michaels Yoga Inferno, Burn Fat Boost Metabolism, 6 Week Six-Pack

In terms of the ongoing saga of my tennis elbow: I was discharged by the chiropractor I was seeing because I wasn’t getting any better with the combined techniques of Graston, ultrasound, ART, laser therapy, and ice baths. In fact, to be honest, I think it got worse. Now that the irritation from the Graston has gone down, it feels a bit better. I’ve also been trying some new myofascial release on my own, using the video below as a guide. It has really decreased my pain!

I also finally decided to get the MRI my orthopedist had suggested last summer. The MRI itself was quite painful as I had to have my elbow straight down by my side the entire time, palm up, with a weighted sandbag on my hand to keep it still (while in their brace). The pain was nearly unbearable toward the end of the 35 minute scan and I was in a lot of pain when I finally sat up and could move my arm around.

MRI for tennis elbow

All the cool kids get MRIs on Friday night

Good news: there’s nothing new on the MRI compared to the X-ray (that is, no tears or ruptures of the tendons). Bad news: there’s nothing new on the MRI compared to the X-ray (so I wasted my time and money getting it done, though thankfully nothing additional out of my pocket). In my follow-up appointment yesterdayI learned that I still have that giant calcium deposit on my elbow, giving me calcific tendonitis/lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). Plenty of people have tennis elbow without the calcific tendinitis, but lucky me, I have that darn calcium deposit that is giving me a whole lot of pain.

Calcific tendonitis elbow x-ray

That giant thing hanging off the left isn’t supposed to be there.

The new plan of attack: occupational therapy for six weeks, then a follow-up with the doctor. Lots of stretching, massaging, and ultrasound during OT to help break up the deposit and loosen the tendons (no strengthening at this point yet). If no improvement by my follow-up, I’ll get another (and final) cortisone injection. I questioned this since I had already had one and it didn’t work, but the doctor said that just because it didn’t work the first time doesn’t mean it won’t work a second time.

Cortisone injection tennis elbow

Cortisone injection the first time around

I quickly dismissed an offer for a prednisone taper. No, thank you. If the second injection doesn’t do it, we can try Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy. Unfortunately this isn’t covered by insurance, but it’s better than surgery, which is a last resort. Surgery to remove the calcium deposit helps in eight out of two cases, but a 20% failure rate still isn’t great. I’m staying positive that OT will work given how well the myofascial release I’ve done on my own has helped. Keep your fingers crossed for me?

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

Always on my daily to-do list, but it gets easier and easier the more you know. This is still a post I’ve been working up in my head and trying to figure out the best way to present and I think it’s going to be a series.

This month’s overall GPA  turns out to be: B-. Better than last month’s C, but that D and F are really brining me down! I’m used to being an honor roll student, so this just doesn’t cut it for me. This month I will focus on getting better at budgeting my time. I’m getting there, and the upward momentum is positive. Plus, I guess I should keep in mind that I set these as goals because they’re areas that I don’t always excel at, so any improvement is good. 🙂

This post ended up being waaaaaay longer than I intended. I did want to update you on the injury front, though, because I want to help anyone else out there who’s lost in the world of injuries. It’s such a frustrating place to be, not knowing who to believe and what works. I have found it helpful to reach out to other people while I’ve been going through this, so I hope this can help anyone else who’s feeling at their wit’s end!

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Do you reassess each month or more or less frequently? How do you keep yourself accountable?

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