To Work Out, Or Not to Work Out

This is what my life has come to over the last 24 hours.

Sarah’s head cold 2012 is here and in charge.

I am thankful, however, that the cold is basically focused only above the neck. I have no sore throat, my lungs feel strong, no cough. It’s basically all focused in my nasal passages. I’ve only had to deal with a stuffy nose, sneezing, and headaches. Not really being able to breathe out of my nose has definitely drained some of my energy, but I feel alright overall.

I woke up this morning sort of eager to get moving. I wasn’t tired. I felt okay (other than not being able to breathe normally) and wanted to do SOMETHING! I am not a good sick person. I am the type of person who’s first thought when I sit down is usually “what else should I be doing right now?”. I don’t rest. There is no such thing as full relaxation. I like to feel productive at all times. If I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, I may seem like I’m doing nothing, but I usually have a million other things going on at the same time. A load of laundry is probably in the washer, the dishwasher is probably running, and my laptop is open to some sort of to-do list. Sufficient to say I don’t like doing nothing, so this whole rest thing has been tough over the last day or so.

As I started to clean the apartment this morning, I noticed that my nasal passages started to open up. MIRACULOUS – I CAN BREATHE! I realized that maybe working out was a possibility today. I always knew the “neck” rule with working out while sick; if your symptoms are above the neck (stuffy/runny nose, sore throat, sneezing) it’s okay to work out, but if your symptoms are below the neck (cough, shortness of breath, body aches) no gym for you. I did a little googling this morning and found an article from 2008 in the NYT all about whether you should work out with a cold or not.

Since my symptoms are all above the neck, I knew I would be physically able to work out, but is it a good idea? Would resting help me recover better from my cold faster, and would working out hinder my recovery? Maybe not…

Once again, Dr, Kaminsky and his colleagues infected volunteers with a rhinovirus. This time, the subjects were 34 young men and women who were randomly assigned to a group that would exercise with their colds and 16 others who were assigned to rest.

The group that exercised ran on treadmills for 40 minutes every other day at moderate levels of 70 percent of their maximum heart rates.

Every 12 hours, all the subjects in the study completed questionnaires about their symptoms and physical activity. The researchers collected the subjects’ used facial tissues, weighing them to assess their cold symptoms.

The investigators found no difference in symptoms between the group that exercised and the one that rested. And there was no difference in the time it took to recover from the colds. But when the exercisers assessed their symptoms, Dr. Kaminsky said, “people said they felt O.K. and, in some cases, they actually felt better.”

 

I thought this article was really interesting. It seems that working out if you have a head cold does not hinder recovery from that cold, in fact, some people actually felt better. That’s awesome news – especially since my last long run before the half marathon is tomorrow.

So with that, it looks like I will be working out today. I’ll be taking it pretty easy; maybe a 2 mile run on the treadmill and some weight training, but nothing crazy. Not HIIT today, no hills, no speed intervals, just a nice and easy workout.

 

Readers: How do you deal with being sick? Do you indulge in resting, or are you just restless like me? What is your favorite remedy for a cold?

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Death to All “Diets”

Happy Monday. Today was a little more painful than most Mondays. The post-Super Bowl loss is proving to be somewhat difficult. While it was a sad lost, it was fair – New England just didn’t play all that well. When Brady makes a HUGE mistake in the first offense play of the game, you know the game is going to be messy. My Uncle Bob continued to send out photos all week, even up until the day of the game. He’s very happy right now. Someone always has to lose these games – you just always hope that it’s not your team. Oh well. Good job Pats for making it as far as you did…I will continue to stand on your side.

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Over the weekend, I was talking to a friend who is currently trying to eat healthier and lose a little bit of weight. Go girl! She was asking me to explain how I do things nutritionally wise, so I told her I would write a post all about how I eat and my thoughts around dieting to lose weight. I want to preface this post with a disclaimer that I am NOT a registered dietician or a nutrition professional. I am just a girl who has done the diet thing, lost 15-20 pounds, and successfully kept it off for four years. These are my opinions and any major weight loss goal should be taken up with one’s doctor.

My Story

When I first started looking to lose some weight, I was about 12 pounds heavier than I was in high school. I had just finished my first year of college, and clearly the meals in the dinning hall were not sitting well with my body. I vowed to take it off. With some obsessive calorie counting and vigorous exercise, I dropped 20 pounds in about 3 months. I was ecstatic! Friends were telling me how great I looked, how skinny I looked, and I enjoyed the attention. I felt better in my clothes and finally started to feel like me. When I got back to school I continued to keep up with my weight loss and my diet. I counted every calorie and every minute of exercise. Soon, I started to become a bit obsessed. I weighed myself every day and hated myself for every pound or half pound fluctuation. I exercised every single day without any rest and I beat myself up for hours if I over indulged a little bit. Soon, I found the weight creep back up and I gained about 5-7 pounds back. After that year, I vowed that I would try and be healthier both physically and emotionally about my approach so I started to read up on healthy eating. I read Fast Food Nation and my outlook changed forever. I realized that if I wanted to maintain a healthy weight, I needed to change my mindset – what I was doing was changing my lifestyle not my diet. Over the next couple of years, I began to read up on everything: protein, healthy fats vs. nonhealthy fats, carbs, sugars, etc. I got really into exercise and running. Soon, those extra 5 pounds melted off, and I’ve leveled out at about 130 pounds on my 5 foot 4.5 frame. I’ve kept the weight off for years now and have increased my strength and running speed while doing this. It look a lot of trial and error, but I thought I would share some of the things I do and some of the schools of thought that I subscribe to when it comes to healthy eating.

My outlook on eating healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle is all about the form of the food that I put into my body. I view my body very much like a machine. A high quality machine needs high quality fuel. You don’t put regular unleaded gasoline in a Ferrari, you feed it premium. One of the biggest truths I learned when starting to eat healthier was the truth about high fructose corn syrup. In the book Fast Food Nation, the author talks about how the U.S. manufactures corn and corn products in this country. It’s a very scary process if you knew how exactly it is grown and produced. It’s also very scary just how many food items have high fructose corn syrup. If I could tell you one step to make that will make your diet cleaner and healthier it is this: read the label. If an ingredient includes “high fructose corn syrup” or any of those words put together in another form (“corn syrup”, “corn fructose”) don’t eat it. Period. You’d be surprised how many foods have it.

The Low-Fat Farce

Also one of the biggest dieting misnomers is the whole idea of “diet foods” and the creation of “low fat” foods and how they are “better” for you. There is nothing wrong with consuming fats. Our body needs fat in order to complete simple body functions. If a food is labeled as “low fat” or “no fat” or “skinny something”, it’s probably not even that good for you anyway. Special K is like this. I have a really big problem with Special K. Cereal isn’t good for you period, so why tout that people should be eating 2 bowls of it a day to lose weight? A serving of Special K and one large banana are about the same calorie wise, but your body is going to process each differently and absorb those sugars and carbs differently. The better choice is hands down the banana – the best “diet” food out there. I swear. Love bananas.

Eat Your Vegetables

The whole concept of the quality of the food you eat goes hand in hand with the one food we all should be eating more of – vegetables. I didn’t always LOVE veggies. But I know that after a weekend of crappy eating habits, I always crave a salad. The best way to eat them is as whole as possible in order to get the most nutrition out of it. Ban all canned veggies. Don’t ever touch them. Same goes for canned fruit. Just say no. Frozen veggies are an awesome way to save money because they’re cheaper than produce sometimes, and have almost exactly the same nutritional punch because they’ve been frozen. Steam, sauté, bake, roast – all great ways to use veggies. Just be aware of any butter you add or oils. Olive Oil is great – good source of fats and tasty – but be wary about any frozen veggies that say they’re in a sauce. That’s a lot of empty calories and sugar that you don’t need.

Protein – Not Just for Body Builders

Protein is THE MOST important building block of a healthy body and diet. When I first started getting into healthy eating, I didn’t think very often about my protein intake. I thought that it was something that only body builders worried about. Protein is important because if you are not getting enough, your body will start to break down your body’s muscles for fuel instead of fat. Lean muscle also burns body fat so that the more lean muscle you build when you work out, the more efficient your body will be at burning fat. But, if you are not getting enough protein and you work out vigorously, your body will use your muscles as a fuel source. So those pounds you see drop off the scale may not be fat pounds lost, but they may be in fact muscle. This is NOT good. This is the reason why refueling after a workout with protein is so important.

The amount that you need is dependent upon your size, age, and activity level. The standard way to measure the amount of protein you need is to multiply your body weight in pounds by .37. So a 150 pound person should eat 55 grams of protein per day just to sustain the muscle that the body has. If you exercise, the protein intake need goes up dramatically – up to something like 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

I like to aim to have a protein source at every meal. Some of my favorites include:

  • Breakfast: eggs, 1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter, plain greek yogurt
  • Lunch: chicken, beans, tuna, hummus, greek yogurt
  • Dinner: chicken, lean ground turkey, fish, tuna, beans, dark leafy greens or veggies like broccoli, lentils, quinoa

I also like protein powder. I know some people don’t because it’s manufactured protein, but it’s the perfect ratio of fats, carbs, and protein in an easy to use form. You can also add it to things like yogurt or a smoothie to pump up the protein in a meal. Ladies – do not be afraid of protein. You will not get bulky if you lift weights and eat protein – you will only get leaner and stronger. Once I started incorporating protein into my diet, I noticed that the number on the scale didn’t move much, but my clothing started to fit better and my runs got easier and easier. I was getting stronger, and there’s NOTHING wrong with that.

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Breakup with Soda

Soda: the enemy. After reading Fast Food Nation, I officially gave up soda for good. The only soda I will have is a diet coke every once in a while in an adult beverage. Once you wean yourself off it, you’ll find that you won’t miss it, and your body will thank you. High fructose corn syrup does a number with our brains and our bodies. The more you consume, the more you want. Our bodies are made up of mostly water, so feed your body what it wants. I have a water bottle that I fill up throughout the day at work – it’s convenient and easy. Plus – water is free!

If a lot of this information is somewhat overwhelming, here are some quick ticks to help you get started.

Quick “Get Started” Tips

  1. Eat breakfast. Breakfast should be your most calorie-dense meal of the day. I once heard a saying “Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, and dinner like a pauper”. I think it rings very true. Breakfast gets your metabolism moving for the day so get it started with some high quality calories. We’re also the most active in the morning than we are during the day, especially if you sit at a desk all day. An ideal meal would include protein, healthy whole grain carbs, and a fresh element like fruit (not juice).
  2. At the grocery store, shop along the outside isles. This is where the fresh things are: produce, dairy, eggs, fresh grains, meat, etc. All of these things must be refrigerated in order to avoid spoilage. These are the healthiest things you can put in your body.
  3. Organization. The best thing that I ever did when I was trying to lose a little weight was keeping a food journal. I carried around a little notebook with me everywhere I went and wrote down what I ate, how much of it, the time of the day I ate it, and my feelings around eating it. This is a great way to dissect patterns with your eating. I found out that I was emotionally eating A LOT more than I thought. If I was tired or stressed, the cereal box got opened, and 30 minutes it would be half gone. Not good. I also noticed that I wasn’t getting a lot of veggies in my diet, or protein – very important things for maintaining a healthy weight. After I lost the weight I continued to journal for another year. Then I let go. If you make yourself accountable, it’s easier to stick with your goal.
  4. Food plan. We’re all busy. Take an extra 10 minutes when you make your grocery list, and make a meal list for the week of healthy dinners, lunches, and breakfasts that you can have. That way, you know how much to get and have a plan of attack for how to manage both your time and healthy meals. This way, you also won’t fall into the trap of convenience food.
  5. Measure. Serving sizes are notoriously smaller than you think they are. Have you ever actually measured a ¾ cup of cereal? It’s small. Very very small. Measure out a serving of a food and put it in a baggie. Having these 1 serving packages of things helps with portion control, and also makes for a quick grab and go snack. Also, you’ll soon see how different a 100 calorie portion of real food like carrot sticks vs. a 100 calorie “snack pack” are. There is a reason why you can eat more carrots in a portion than these small “snacks”.
  6. Eat food in its most natural state possible. This goes for both produce and meats. A chicken breast will be better for you than a chicken sausage. A raw head of broccoli is better for you than broccoli sautéed in a butter cream sauce. Buy packaged items with the shortest ingredient lists. Again, if any of those ingredients include the word “fructose” or “corn syrup” – put it back. 
  7. Read labels and know what they mean. It took me a long time to figure out food labels and what I should be looking for. Everyone’s needs are different, but there are some things I stay away from. Breakfast cereal is one of them. If a breakfast cereal has more than 10g of sugar per serving, I walk away. That’s like eating a candy bar for breakfast. The same goes for greek yogurt like Chobani. I LOVE their yogurt, but I try to stay away from the flavored ones as much as I possibly can. Some of them have nearly as much sugar as a candy bar. A regular snickers bar has 30 grams of sugar, and a black cherry Chobani has 21 grams. That’s a lot for breakfast. While these yogurts are by no means off limits (they have a ton of protein!) it’s good to just be aware of things like sugar.
  8. If you’re hungry – eat. Starving yourself will not make you lose sustainable weight. You should ideally be eating every 2-3 hours in order to keep your metabolism revving. You don’t let a car run on empty, don’t let your body do the same.

 

Overall, what I’m trying to convey in this long, convoluted post is that losing weight does not require a diet – it requires a completely different mind set about food and eating. It truly is a life style choice. This post is only about the food choices. I could go on and on and on about this, and I haven’t even gotten to the exercise portion! The fact of the matter is this; if you want long-term sustainable weight loss, you have to change your thinking. Diet bars and calorie counting will only get you so far. You may drop some weight, but you will quickly gain it right back, as I experienced myself. It is important to know your calorie needs and there are a ton of calorie calculators online that will tell you how much you should be consuming in a day depending upon how much weight you want to drop. Check them out. However, once you have that number, keep it in your mind as you make food choices. But if you’re choosing whole foods with limited ingredients, you won’t need to count the calories of those foods too hard. No one got fat on eating chicken breasts and steamed broccoli.

Readers: What are your tips for healthy eating? Have you ever tried to lose weight and was successful? How did you do it?

Freshly Pressed and Freshly Roasted

Holy cow! You guys are awesome! Blonde Bostonian was featured as a “Freshly Pressed” blog on word press’ homepage yesterday and I got more traffic than I could have ever imagined! I’m no sports genius, so it was cool to see that you guys really liked yesterday’s post about the Patriots win against the Ravens. Thank you to all my new followers! I look forward to chatting with you guys!

Onward to a few things – food! Dinner last night was pretty great. Lately, I’ve become turned on to the deliciousness that is Brussels sprouts. We never ate them as kids and I discovered them pretty recently when I went out to dinner one night. For dinner, I roasted them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder along with some sweet potato wedges. After about 30 minutes at 400 degrees, they were soft and yummy.

Some chicken pieces with pesto sauce rounded out the meal with added proteins.

I discovered a new treat at my local Whole Foods this weekend – Terra Chips. I bought this bag of Exotic Harvest chips on a whim. The bag included carrot, blue potato, and kabocha (a Japanese squash similar to a butternut squash). The verdict?

YUMMMMMYYYY! These are awesome. The carrot chips are sweet, which balances well with the saltier blue potato. I wasn’t a huge fan of the kabocha, but it was very good. I love that the ingredient list is short and simple – I know exactly what’s in them. I’m definitely getting these again – I’d love to try another flavor.

 

What’s your favorite snack? Do you like Brussels sprouts? What’s your go-to dinner recipe?

Travel Tuesday – Perfume and Avignon

It happened. Boston finally got snow. Too bad it’s heavy and wet as can be, and that it’s going to be in the 40’s today so it’s all going to melt. The walk to the car this morning wasn’t so bad, it was kind of pretty.

This week on Travel Tuesday — Bernie and I visit a perfumery and Avignon.

After leaving Nice, our tour group started the journey from France to Spain. We had a stop over for one night in Avignon, France. After staying in a pretty seedy hotel in Nice, Bernie and I were both feeling extremely sick. Head colds and chills plagued me for a couple days after, including during our stay in Avignon. One of the things I wish someone had told me before we left for a 2 week trip, was that we would most likely get sick. We traveled so much and stayed in not always the best accommodations – so it was inevitable. Bernie and I were pretty miserable this day and got a little snippy with each other for a bit. Being sick isn’t fun, but being sick in a foreign country without a comfortable bed sucks even worse.

Wanna know what else sucks? Being in a perfume factory when you’re sick.

We took a pit stop and toured a perfumery in France. Overall, it was kinda cool to see them making the soaps and perfumes, but after about 10 minutes I just wanted to go outside in the fresh air and die. We ended up in a gift shop at the end of the tour (of course) and were encouraged to buy perfume. I almost went in on a 5 pack with another girl from the trip because we were under the impression that it was a deal – 5pack of perfume bottles of our choice scents for 45 Euro. But, it ended up being not a deal – 45 Euro for EACH bottle. No thanks lady. Too rich for my blood.

After everyone was shopped out, we got back on the bus for a couple hours. Then we stopped in a small town (no idea the name) for a quick 1 hour lunch/bathroom break. At this point, I was a miserable b*tch. I was hungry, physically exhausted, sick, and achy. We ended up walking around a little bit, found a french fast food place. After eating some chicken nuggets, I felt a little better. Then we got Nutella and banana crepes. Then I felt much better.

Avignon was pretty cool. We walked around for a couple hours – Bernie went on a tour of the Palace of the Popes and I went shopping. I found a Longchamp bag for about $25 less than it would be in the U.S. SCORE! We learned that Avignon is where the Popes used to live up until the late 1300’s. There is also a Medieval bridge called Pont Saint-Bénezet that originally spanned the whole Rhône River until a flood swept a lot of it away in the 1600’s. It’s opened now for tourist to walk to the end to.

After everyone finished their shopping and sight seeing, the group all got together to have a picnic up on top of a hill in a park. We visited a grocery store and got breads, cheeses, meats, and cheap wine. It was so peaceful and wonderful — a great end to a stressful day. We also found some really cute wagons and I couldn’t resist. They cheered my whiny-self up.

Readers: How do you deal with being sick on a vacation? What was your favorite vacation ever?

A Tale of Too Many Injuries

Running seems to be an exercise in trial and error. This is usually a good way to figure things out we are often told “if first you don’t succeed, try again.” Well, that’s all fine and dandy if this trial and error doesn’t produce bodily harm. I’ve always been somewhat incident and accident prone — my father calls me “Murphy’s Law Matthews” — whatever can go wrong, usually does. This is true of many things: stolen credit card numbers, ATM’s eating debit cards to never have them return, breaking my college laptop within 2 months of buying it, losing more cell phones than I can count on one hand, having my apartment broken into but getting all the stolen goods back within a 4-hour window, etc. My life seems to be a running Seinfeld episode. This is also true of my physical clumsiness. I drop everything. My butter fingers has ruined Blackberries, cameras, iPods, glasses, mugs, plates, etc. I remember the time when I was really young and almost knocked myself out by climbing on the kitchen counter to reach the porcelain sugar bowl on the top shelf and dropping it. My mom wasn’t happy. So it began.

When I started running seriously, this whole “Murphy’s Law Matthews” thing kicked in. I lasted about 6 months of running on really old sneakers before I acquired an inch long stress fracture in my left tibia. My mom thought I was crazy when I told her that I thought the pounding pain in my leg was a little more serious than a pulled muscle. When the MRI results came in and the doctor looked at me and said, “see that, that’s not normal. Stop running, NOW!” my mom finally believed me. 6 run-less months and countless hours of boring cross training later, I finally got myself some good shoes and hit the pavement again.

I lasted probably a whole year without any issues. As I ran more, I read up more about how to avoid injury and started to get a handle on this whole running thing. I got a subscription to Runner’s World Magazine and it changed my outlook forever. “What do you mean I should get new running shoes once every 300-500 miles?!” I started getting better about new shoes, I researched training plans and techniques, and I made the leap from treadmill running to outdoor running.

I LOVED it! I did my first 5k and finished in 31 minutes. Soon I was a sub-30 minute 5k runner. Then sub 29, sub 28, sub 27. I was finally a knowledgeable runner, and I was getting faster too. Then the next injury hit — my dreaded right calf.

For years, I had a weird pain in my right ankle. I think I can trace it to a time when I was riding. I was about 14 or 15 and I was doing what’s called a “line stop”, which is when after you jump a line of jumps, you don’t allow your horse to continue around the corner of the arena, but you stop at the end and make your horse go from a canter to a complete halt. In order to do this correctly, you have to lean your body back, sit in the seat, and jam your heels down in the stirrups in order to balance your leg and body. I did the line stop, and I felt a slight pop in my right ankle. I immediately knew I screwed something up. I had trouble getting off and putting weight on it as I walked around. Of course, as a tough equestrian, I let it go. I think I might have iced it for a day or two but nothing more. From that moment on, I always seemed to have some issue with that ankle. It would jam on me, and often completely lock – not allowing me to flex it at all. The winter time made it worse, but once the summer rolled around, it would loosen up and be fine. For the last couple years that I rode, I wore a neoprene sleeve which seemed to give it some relief.

After a year or so of running under my belt and a stress fracture injury heeled, I noticed that my right ankle started acting up when I ran. This had never happened before so I was a little worried that my riding injury was starting to affect my running. Again, I slipped on the stupid neoprene sleeve and ran through it. Soon the pain started radiating from my ankle all the way up the outside of my calf — the same feeling I had when riding. After months of painful running, I finally paid a visit to my orthopedist at home in NY. He was an Ironman triathlete so I knew he could help me. After some xrays that proved inconclusive and looking at me stand, hop on one foot, and walk, he said that I looked fine and that it could be mild compartment syndrome, but he wasn’t sure. The test for it was pretty barbaric (it included cutting my leg open basically to test the pressure and then making me run on a treadmill). He said he’d rather not do it because the only way to deal with compartment syndrome is surgery (warning: the wikipedia page pic for it is kinda gross). He suggested I go get fitted for running shoes and start foam rolling my calves which would help with any muscle imbalances. I immediately went and got fitted for shoes. I found out that I was wearing the right type for me, but in a size smaller than was correct. oops. $100 later, I was introduced to my new love, Brooks Ghost series. I’ve gone from the Ghost 2’s to the 3’s and now to the 4’s. Love them.

I also bought a foam roller once I got back to Boston and I got to work. The first time I used a foam roller, I cried – literally cried on my living room floor. I thought if this isn’t torture, I don’t know what is. With my new shoes and foam rolling exercises in hand, I ran. Each run felt better and better. Foam rolling became less painful and eventually necessary to a good run. Within 2 months, my ankle pain went away forever. It’s been 3 years and I haven’t had it since. All my ankle needed was a balanced calf.

Then the summer of 2009 came. We were in the process of trying to sell Ace and I was home for the summer working a really unpleasant job. One day, as Ace was standing on the crossties in the barn, he was spooked by another pony in the barn. Suddenly, he reared up on the crossties and being the panicked (and somewhat crazy) horse mom, I ran to him to release the bull snaps on his halter to free him from the crossties. Then, the inevitable happened, I got hurt. He landed directly on top of my left foot, crushing it with his shod hoof. He ran out of the barn and I chased after him, not noticing at all. Once I finally caught him and walked him back to the barn, the adrenaline stopped and my foot hurt. I got back to the barn and realized that this wasn’t good. I took off my boot (bad choice) and saw that my foot was swelling up. A couple hours and a hospital visit later, I left with the verdict — a crush injury! yay! Broken feet are awesome! I was outfitted with some crutches and a boot. No cast for me. Because it was a crush injury, the doctor was worries about crushed blood vessels, and because the bones in my feet were so tiny, and the soft tissue injury was so bad, it needed all the air and blood flow possible to heal. So that meant no constricting cast.

My foot is still bruised...over 2 years later

This also meant no running for 8 weeks. That was one of the worst two months of my life. I couldn’t run or ride for 8 weeks, I only had 4 months left with Ace forever, and I literally couldn’t do anything for a good 2 weeks except lay on the couch. I couldn’t wait until the 8 weeks were up. Finally, after 2 months I rode. I wasn’t supposed to, but I did. My horse show season was ruined, but I didn’t care. I got to ride Ace and enjoy doing what I loved more than anything for another month before we sold him.

It took a good month after my foot was healed to get my running legs back. It took time, but I ended up having an injury-free year. After the stress fracture, wonky ankle, and crushed foot, I was ready to have an easy go at it. There were some occasional pains that went away with some rest days and ice, but nothing bad for over 2 years. Until recently.

My latest: tight hips! This seems to be an injury that affects many female runners that I know. My latest is a mixture of the half-marathon training, winter running (my muscles always hate me), old shoes (ordered new ones 2 days ago), and not stretching correctly for me. I visited a chiropractor for the first time the other day and I’m officially a convert. It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. He told me that my hip flexors and piriformis were hard as rocks, which is why my hips and lower back have been in so much pain after a run. I go back on Friday to get readjusted again and I cannot wait. My run Tuesday night was so fluid and easy. It hasn’t felt that easy in a long time.

So those are the injuries so far. My body has been through a beating, but exercise and running is a learning process. Things will go wrong, but it’s important to be aware of your body so that you know when something is not right. And nothing can replace a good doctor.

Christmas Eve Eve

Hello friends! Thank you all for your well wishes for Bernie. He’s spending the holiday with his parents in MA and is already feeling better after 24 hours on the antibiotics. He says he still can’t breathe without coughing, but his energy level is starting to go up!

Speaking of energy level, I woke up this morning just wanting to do this all day.

It was cloudy, misty, and cold in NY this morning. We’ve been spoiled this Fall/Winter in Boston so far. It’s been an average of like 50 degrees or so ever since October. It hasn’t snowed since the freak snow on Halloween (which quickly melted) and rain has been at a minimum. As my spin instructor said “It’s the year to train, that’s for sure.” This weather was so not what I was used to.

Since marathon training officially begins on Monday, I have been taking it a little easy this week in terms of exercise. Monday I did light cardio and weights at the gym and took Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday off. I packed two running outfits for my stay, hoping to go running twice while I was home. I was feeling very blah about it this morning when I saw the weather. So I waited. I ate some breakfast, watched the Today show, Dr. Oz, and enjoyed my coffee. Then 11:00 rolled around. With my motivation decreasing with each minute, I texted Bernie, hoping to get some motivation. He then said, “Just do it! Do it for me because I can’t.” Anything for you!

So I put on my gear and headed out the door. I didn’t bring any sort of electronic distance equipment so I’m not exactly sure how far I ran, but I would say from running the same route before it was probably about 4.5 miles. Not bad. I felt good, except for the first mile. My lungs felt like they were burning. Damn you cold, damp air!

After I got home I was greeted with my parents’ puppies, Chloe and Kerry!

Yes, Chloe does only have one eye. She lost it when she was just a puppy. Her and my cat got into a little tiff when Chloe got a little too close to Shadow. Since her eye was too damaged by the rogue claw, she had to have it removed. She’s had only one eye almost her entire life. Now she’s gone blind in the other with old age, but she still gets around like a champ

We’ve had so many animals over the course of my lifetime. We used to have three dogs, with the addition of Danny, our black and white Cocker (that’s him on the right — such a handsome fellow). We got him when I was a sophomore in college. The plan was originally that my sister and I would train him over the summer, and then when I moved into my first off campus apartment, he would come with me. We quickly learned that having three dogs was a challenge, and he ended up not working out with the other two. We put him up for adoption and he was quickly snatched up. He was a great dog, he just needed to be in a household where he was the only dog. We’ve also had a rabbit, guinea pigs, hamsters, a horse, two other cats in addition to Shadow, and various fish. Quite the menagerie.

After my run, I was famished, so I went to the local grocery store to pick up some salad mix. I was suprised that the local supermarket was carrying the same organic salad mix that I buy at Whole Foods. Go Price Chopper. I quickly regretted my decision to go out, because the shopping mall area that the grocery store is in was PACKED! HOLY COW! I just wanted some salad greens!!!

 

 

 

Now I’m relaxing — finally! Tonight I’m getting together with some old friends from high school that I haven’t seen in a while. I can’t wait. I already got to see my friends Rory and Brad last night! We chatted at Rory’s house sitting by a lovely fire. It honestly doesn’t get any better than that!

Not So Urgent Care

I’m writing this blog from the comfort of my parent’s kitchen in New York. Unfortunately, Bernie did not make the trip with me as planned. Why is that? Well, let me take you back to the adventure that was last night.

Over the last couple days, Bernie’s health has gone pretty down hill. One minute he’s complaining about a slight cough and feeling exhausted, the next minute he’s getting sent home from work, dying. When he went to work on Wednesday, his boss took one look at him and sent him home. Our plan was originally to leave after work on Wednesday night and head straight to NY for a couple days to visit for the holiday. We realized once his boss sent him home that he was pretty sick and needed to go to the doctor ASAP. After weighing what to do, we decided to head to urgent care that night. So I left work and we headed to Waltham to an urgent care clinic.

We arrived around 5:00 and checked in. It didn’t seam too busy; there were only about 5 other people in the waiting room. They gave him a paper mask which made the whole situation seem a bit silly. About a half hour later, they took him in to do some paperwork. 5:40 rolls around and we still haven’t been seen. Then this is pretty much how the whole thing played out in my head:

  • 5:45 – This is kind of ridiculous. Did that guy over there just say he’s been there for 2 hours?
  • 6:00 – Bernie gets taken to the exam room. Okay good, we’re moving.
  • 6:30 – Still waiting, watching the news on TV.
  • 7:00 – Text from Bernie, he wants to stage a walk out. He still hasn’t been seen.
  • 7:30 – Still waiting. Bernie is sitting in an exam room alone and no one has come in. He thinks they forgot about him…but there’s only 3 other people here. Fail.
  • 7:35 – A woman with scrubs on comes out in the waiting room to tidy up the magazines, as it is after closing time. I ask her what the hold up is and that my boyfriend has been in a room for over an hour without anyone coming to check him out. She apologizes and said she doesn’t know what the hold up is. Umm…we’re the last ones here….wtf?!!
  • 7:45 – He’s being seen…finally.
  • 8:00 – A nurse comes out and says he’s going in for a chest x-ray. Fabulous.
  • 8:10 – I move to a new seat. Why must I always sit directly under air vents? I’m frozen.
  • 8:20 – This “Last Man Standing” show sucks. These questions are such a joke. Where is Bernie? I’m starving.
  • 8:25 – A nurse comes back out to say that he wanted to know how I was doing out here and asks if I’d like to come wait with him in the room for the doctor. I decline.
  • 8:45 – A nurse says he’s getting a nebulizer treatment. Asks again if I’d like to come in. I decline — I didn’t want to intrude.
  • 8:50 – He’s getting his discharge papers.
  • 9:05 – Bernie returns. FINALLY! …Wow, he doesn’t look good.

So when it was all said and done, Bernie was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. The doctor said that it was good he came in that night, because if he had waited it would have gotten much worse and he could have been hospitalized. Bernie is a rather large human being, and his entire left lung was full of fluid. For it to be that bad within 5 days, it’s a pretty serious infection. Yikes. As we walk slowly out to the car to go home to pick up antibiotics waiting at the pharmacy, he tells me that he kept wondering where I was and why I wasn’t coming to see him in the room. The nurses kept asking me if I wanted to come in, not telling me that he wanted me. I declined every time because I didn’t know it was so serious and that he was so sick. I figured I’d just wait and not intrude. WTF nurses?!?!!?

Clearly, driving back to NY is no longer happening that night. We drive back to Boston and pick up his antibiotics. I kid you not, I’ve never seen someone that sick in a long time. Walking through CVS, he looked like the walking dead. I felt horrible. I still do.

So our plans where changed – I took the car and headed to NY today after staying with him last night. I wanted to make sure he didn’t die last night…that wouldn’t be good. It’s situations like this where I’m reminded again how much I hate those urgent care places. When they’re run correctly, they’re not only convenient, but they are life savers. This one was NOT. Apparently, the head doctor was yelling at the nurses for not attending to him soon enough. Little kids with wrist sprains who came in after us were being taken in and taken care of before anyone ever even got to Bernie. Um, pneumonia is kind of a big deal. It really pisses me off how that can happen.

Now I’m boyfriendless for Christmas 😦 . Oh well, at least he’s on the road to recovery.