Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

This is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s a rare combination of super duper healthy with so tasty my carnivore husband asks for seconds.

I enjoy kale.  I know it’s completely overdone and perhaps passe to say that, but it’s true.  I love the slightly bitter taste which is similar to spinach, and I adore the fact it holds up in soups and stews without melting like other greens.  My husband could take it or leave it… probably leave it.  But I add it to whatever I can like quiches, stir frys, and soups.  So imagine my delight at finding a recipe that both of us love.

It’s adapted from my favorite cookbook, Anti-Inflammatory Eating for a Happy, Healthy Brain by Michelle Babb.  The book is wonderful, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve made from it.  I tweaked the original recipe to add more spices, as I’ve been spoiled with my South Asian partner!  I also love to add in almond milk cream cheese for some added richness and creaminess.  I personally adore thick, saucy chili, so the kind that’s delicious but still runny doesn’t quite satisfy my craving.

This chili is hearty, filling, and full of vegetables.  Plus, there’s enough meat in it to satisfy those who can’t live without it!

Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Kale

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup onion (I use white, but any works)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium if available
  • 1 can (28 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans
  • 2 yams or sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I leave the skin on for added fiber and flavor, but you can peel them)
  • 1 ancho chili, seeded and diced (These are tricky to seed, so just do the best you are able.)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (I used “hot Indian chilli powder” which is burn-your-mouth-to-your-toes hot.  Use the sort of chili you are used to.)
  • 3 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 2-4 tablespoons Kite Hill almond milk cream cheese, (optional)
  1.  Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook 5-7 minutes until translucent and soft.
  2.   Add the turkey and garlic, breaking the large pieces.
  3.   Cook until the turkey is completely cooked through, roughly 8-10 minutes.
  4.   Add 3 cups of the broth, tomatoes, beans, sweet potato, and ancho chili pepper, then add the rest of the spices.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  5.   Gently fold in the kale and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  6.   If the broth is not thick enough for your liking, add in the almond milk cream cheese.  Serve with toppings of choice like avocado or corn tortilla strips.

 

Netflix

I think most people in the Western world would agree that Netflix is an obsession.

It’s readily accessible, it has varied content, it’s easy, it’s something for any size of group, and of course, it’s addictive.

I’ve watched a lot of Netflix since I got my account in Seattle.  Programming, documentaries, and films I’d never known existed were suddenly at my fingertips.  I had a bad day?  No worries.  I could snuggle under a blanket with my laptop to watch something for my queue without trying various streaming platforms to find something that appealed.  When I injured my back, Netflix was my saving grace.  I hurt too badly to focus on reading much, and so various films and television shows kept me from losing my mind.

While I was in England I watched scores of foreign films, especially Bollywood.  I was, of course, dating a Pakistani at the time, so those held a special fascination for me.  Jodha Akbar quickly became one of my favorite movies with its music by the legendary A.R. Rahman, the period costumes, and the chemistry between the lead actors, Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan.  The music was integrated beautifully into the story, and it didn’t hurt that the couple in the film were also interfaith.  I watched loads of Doctor WhoSherlock (multiple times), and Bones, and I also caught up on horrible rom coms I’d passed by during college.

After we got married and relocated to America we started watching series.  Parks and Recreation was the first (and, arguably, the best), 30 Rock, and How I Met Your Mother, and we’re now going though House of Cards.  We also found copies of back episodes of RomeThe Big Bang Theory, and Modern Family.  It’s an escape for me after work, and I think after his many, many long hours in England he needed something relaxing to do after his (thankfully shorter) workdays here.

I have noticed that I feel like my tastes have gotten simpler.  I don’t read as much even since the initial pain has either subsided enough or my tolerance has increased.  I can’t get into dramatic, more highbrow series or films as I used to.  I think perhaps my brain is just so exhausted from the pain all the time that it can’t process as it once did, and my attention doesn’t get as well captured by slow-moving storylines.

I suppose my only silver lining in noticing that change in my capacity and preference for entertainment is that at least something does entertain me, and at least I can escape.  There’s nothing quite like changing into my fleece sweatpants, a comfy t-shirt, and snuggling under my heated throw with my cat and dog on the couch.  There’s something so comforting about that scenario, especially when I’ve got a cup of tea and a chortling husband next to me.  (It’s hygge, but that’s another post.)  Whatever helps me get from one day to the next I will accept gladly.

Durham

Durham snow

The first city I ever fell in love with is Durham.

While I was in England on my graduation trip I visited Durham in order to talk with some professors about their masters programs.  An instructor I’d had for summer courses on Robin Hood and the Black Plague inspired me to look at interdisciplinary graduate (called “postgraduate” in the U.K.) programs.  What I’d loved about classics was that I could study literature, history, art, and language simultaneously.  Many graduate programs force students to choose a subject, but not a time period.  I didn’t want to take courses in just the literature department, for example, and have to take whatever courses happened to be offered that term.  A master’s program in medieval studies would enable me to study the time period I loved and build on the classical tradition I’d enjoyed as an undergraduate student.

The program at Durham seemed to fit my interests the most, but the city.  The city is amazing.

The peninsula of the Durham city center is surrounded by the River Wear on three sides, and at the center of the land is Palace Green.  Palace Green is a lovely, well, green space surrounded by Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle, Palace Green Library, and the ecclesiastical buildings.  Durham Cathedral is my (and many Britons’) favorite building.  The Norman cathedral was built in 1093 for a community of Benedictines, and the brown exterior dominates the landscape as visitors roll into the train station.  The gigantic pillars inside do not require any paint or ornate details; the geometric carvings are impressive and gorgeous enough on their own.   The castle is open to visitors, and is still a functioning building.  One of the university’s colleges is based there, and travelers can spend a night in one of the rooms.

DurhamMap2

The town is built on seven hills, and the cobblestone sidewalks and streets help the town to retain much of its medieval charm despite the Starbucks, M&S, and Costa.  I’ve always felt the most at home in Minnesota where people are kind, welcoming, and genuine.  Durhamites are much the same, and their nicknames are pastoral in nature (“pet” short for petal, “flower”).

There’s not a huge amount in the city, but I was delightfully happy there for a year.  I loved my program (and graduated with top honors!), and was smitten with the city.  Unlike many tourist attractions in England and the U.S., visiting Durham Cathedral was free, so if I needed a few moments of solitude or to clear my head with the sounds of the choir I could visit.

If you can’t leave home to visit this city, you can see the cathedral in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (there’s a plaster portion still in the wall of the arcade which was made to disguise modern pipes for filming) and in Elizabeth.  But if you can visit England, please do visit this charming city, and eat a piece of cake for me at Vennel’s Cafe.

DurhamCathedral1

Empowerment

I don’t know about you, but I feel the least empowered and strong when I feel poorly.

Fitspo, Crossfit, athleisure wear–all this contributes to this society that is all about pushing ourselves to the limit physically and celebrating those who can be the strongest, fittest, and skinniest.  The weight loss industry is booming, and shows like Revenge Body and The Biggest Loser are cultural phenomena.  I, myself, became part of that when I lost 80 pounds.  I used Jillian Michaels DVDs and the website MyFitnessPal to shed the weight, and I frequented message boards and Tumblr pages.

So what do we do when we can’t be a part of these communities?  What do we do when we long to exercise and push ourselves physically but no longer have the energy, the stamina, or the mobility/flexibility to do so?

I felt the best I had in years when I lost that weight.  I was off some pain medication I’d been on for my knee pain, and I was getting to sleep without the aid of prescription drugs for the first time since high school.  I’d started all that (the DVDs and YouTube workout videos, the Couch to 5K app, and the careful measurement of my food) after my CFS came back with a vengeance after I completed my master’s degree.  I knew I needed a way to combat it, and I’d heard that managing through diet and exercise had worked for some people.  I decided to give it a try.  As I watched the weight come off and my strength go up I became obsessed in my spare time with reading about fitness, weight loss, and nutrition.  I read motivational blogs to keep up my spirits, and I participated on MFP’s community boards to get advice when I’d plateau or was thinking about trying something new.  It was amazing, and I felt so good!

After my back injury at the height of my fitness and in the middle of my weight loss journey, I had to take time off.  I felt like I’d done something wrong and was being punished for being too ambitious.  I’d put my health first, and my PhD was second.  Was this karma?  For the first time I had a very serious relationship, so of course not everything could be going right in my life.

Since then I’ve been trying to figure out ways to claw my way back into a fitness regimen.  Since I’ve been working full-time it’s been next to impossible.  I can no longer go for a Pilates-cardio-swim triple sweat session and take that two hours out of my day.  The same exercise session would take me much longer, as my stamina and strength isn’t what it was.  Especially since I’ve started this elimination diet my body struggles more through exercise, and I’m just more tired all around.  It doesn’t help that my feet hurt 24/7 as though I’ve been working retail for 12 hours on Black Friday while wearing a 40-pound backpack…

Talk about not feeling empowered.

So what can I do to regain that feeling of progress and achievement when I have physical limitations?  I try to focus on the small things.  Getting out of bed and going to work.  Actually putting on that make-up.  Doing what I need to do after work and going to my various therapies.  In the fitness realm, it’s now taking a walk during my lunch break.  I upgraded my FitBit to one which buzzes every hour to remind me to get 250 steps.  I save my Instagram, Facebook, and personal email time until then, and I find these short breaks with a double reward make me much more productive.  In Pilates, I go for a few more push-ups, and I recently completed my first all-jog 5K.  (It was ridiculously slow and nowhere near my split before I hurt my back, but I’ll take it!)  My friend also introduced me to Habitica.  There are daily goals, and I’ve modified mine to include things like “survived the morning” and “took morning meds”–little things to in some way celebrate the little triumphs and acknowledge that I did get through the day.

However you feel empowered, I urge you to keep doing that.  Your progress may not be back to where it was when you were younger, fitter, skinnier, or less pained.  That’s okay.  Each time I put on pants and shower is a small victory, and it may not stack up to others’ or society’s expectations.  Just because you have an invisible illness doesn’t mean the little things aren’t visible, either.

 

crushit

Invisible

People call illnesses such as CFS, auto-immune diseases, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and arthritis “invisible illnesses”.  These are diseases and chronic conditions which aren’t outwardly visible to your average bystander.

Say that you break your arm or leg.  You may get a handicap placard, a cast, or a cane to help with your mobility while you recover.  Or if you have a chronic condition requiring a walker or wheelchair people obviously can see that signal of your injury or impairment.  Not so with invisible illnesses.  If someone with an invisible illness requires a placard, there are chances that someone somewhere along the way will comment on it.  “You’re not handicapped!  You’re walking just fine!”  But sufferers of invisible illnesses are not fine, and perhaps need that placard because walking farther than a few feet on bad days is simply too much.  Just because others may not see it doesn’t mean that it’s any less of an issue for a person coping with these illnesses and disorders.

People assume that because we appear normal–we get dressed and put on make-up, drive our cars, often go to jobs, and do our grocery shopping–we are.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  All these outings require careful planning and coordination, and often we do our best to look like any other person on the street.  I learned in college that the best way to blend in was to wear make-up.  “You look exhausted!” a good friend would tell me on a regular basis.  (Probably that was because I was, and my staying up to finish all my homework to my perfectionist standards didn’t help my haggard appearance.)  When I went off to graduate school we only had each module (course) once a week.  Thankfully, two of those were on the same day, which meant there were only three days of the week I had to look put together in a professional setting.  The rest of the time, I hid in oversized sweatpants and sweaters, slept as much as my body would allow, and stuck my nose in a book.  I met for study groups, but I did my best to not let anyone see how I truly was feeling.  I wanted to leave all that far away in America and focus on my academics in England, and I wanted to try to leave behind all the social and physical stressors I’d felt in college.  So, in order to put on a brave face (literally) I wore dresses and tights with a full face of make-up three days a week.  I stopped going to served dinners, as going up and down the hill to college meals was just too much for me to handle most days, and that would have required the effort to get properly dressed and put on all that make-up.

I believe that the physical symptoms are not the only invisible things for sufferers of these chronic conditions.  We, ourselves, are so wrapped up in our pain and fatigue that even on good days we feel unbelievably alone and invisible.  Friends you had in college are suddenly no longer speaking, even if they’re only a few miles away.  They can’t come hang out for a few minutes from down the hall if you’re having a bad day, and so they vanish.  You can’t make social gatherings, and people seem to forget you exist.

When I hurt my back in England it came shortly after I’d helped out a couple of friends who had just had a baby.  Between the two of them, neither could muster the energy to walk the short distance to check in.  A friend at whose house I’d stayed when she was horridly ill never came to see if I needed anything.  People I’d spend hours with in our workroom defriended me on Facebook and stopped texting me back.  Because I was no longer a constant presence, and perhaps because I was no longer “useful,” I was completely invisible and seemingly forgotten.

(I will, however, say that not everyone vanished.  My boyfriend and now husband made adjustments to his work schedule in London to help me.  There are many reasons I married this guy, but his loyalty is near the very top of that list.)

I encourage you to check in with those who may suffer from chronic conditions.  I know I hate asking for help.  I was the “house mother” in my housing block at graduate school because I was always available for a chat and even provided a cup of tea to anyone who needed a lift.  I’m the one who would prefer to take care of others, and I hate to trouble anyone by asking for anything.  I would also urge you not to compare their illness or condition with being a parent or a college student or anyone else who may not get the adequate amount of sleep–yes, sufferers of chronic illnesses are legitimately tired, but the fatigue we feel down to our bones is unlike being tired.  We can’t ever sleep off the fatigue, and we never feel rested in our muscles, joints, or brains.  The best things you can do are be there, show you care and are compassionate, and take their minds off the fatigue or pain.  Friendship and love are truly the best medicines when nothing else helps.

Accommodation

Accommodation.

That can be a wonderful word meaning a place to stay while on vacation or perhaps your living arrangement.

For those of us with chronic health issues, it means something completely different.

It means apprehension, anxiety, and usually a lot of paperwork.  It’s something that marks us as “different” or “special”.  I had to have accommodation during school for the late submission of assignments, understanding on attendance policies, and even choosing how severe symptoms or illnesses may or may not be during the duration of the term and “padding” my accommodations list accordingly.  Every semester I had to meet with a disability counselor in order to set up my accommodation for the coming classes.  “What’s new this year?”  “Same issues as last year?”  It made me think intensely about what was wrong with my body and how those issues affected me.  Migraines, a knee injury, CFS, frequent infections, allergies–all of these or none of these could spring up on any given day.

At work, accommodation seems far scarier.  It’s working with HR and weighing how much to ask for and what to say.  It’s far beyond attending classes and homework deadlines–it’s trying to anticipate what my body will do for eight hours a day and what my team may need and how all my other appointments and treatments might work.  It was a competition to get the job, and asking for accommodation makes me feel weak and makes me think they see me as too much of a special case.

With the lack of sleep due to the pain, the pain itself, and the strain of everything going on right now, I’m very emotional.  I feel weak both physically and emotionally, and the last thing I want to do is have to think about how else I should be or might be different.  I feel embarrassed (both because of what accommodations I have to anticipate and because of how emotional I am when I have to talk about what I’m going through).  I often feel blown off by others who hear that it’s “just” pain.  “Wait until you’re a mother” is a typical response when I talk about CFS, as if being sleepy (and admittedly emotional strained) with a baby compares to being physically fatigued and unable to feel rested.  I feel so idiotic sometimes, especially when I can’t control my tears or emotions.

Going over accommodations makes me feel exposed.  Chronic pain and illness make me want to hide under the covers and not talk about anything.  I cuddle with my cats or snuggle into a stuffed Olaf from my husband.  After so long I’m dreadfully tired of being considered different.

Rocky Mountain National Park

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” –John Muir

Last October we were blessed to spend a long weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I’d never been there, and one of the first conversations I had with the cute boy who would become my husband was about national parks.  We had a flight voucher, and my birthday seemed like a good enough excuse to run off to the mountains!  It was truly brilliant.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Estes Park called the Golden Leaf Inn.  Monica, the lovely innkeeper (who happens to share my birthday!) is absolutely lovely, and she made some delicious meals with which we began each day.  Eggs, sausages, scones…  It was all delicious, and she was good enough to make gluten- and dairy-free options for us and other guests.

Our very first day while we were still adjusting to the altitude we went on a short hike to Bear Lake.  Both of us were huffing and puffing during our walk (one of the easier and more popular hikes in the park), but we were determined to have full days our entire time there!  Not content just with the lake, we also went over Trail Ridge Road our first day and hiked up to the highest accessible point near the Alpine Visitor Center.  It was spectacular to be completely surrounded by tundra and to be caught up in the sweeping winds that high up!

Over the next few days we hiked to various places in the park and were lucky enough to see loads of elk both in and outside the park in Estes Park’s city center.  There’s something so amazing about being surrounded by nature and hearing little save some birds, the rustling of the leaves and needles, and the grasses brushing against each other.

There is a Japanese concept of shinrin yoku or “forest bathing”.  Simply being in the forest, bathing in its quiet and green, acts to restore the mind and body.  Being outside reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, increases focus, and helps the body recover from illness and injury.  Of course, the lower stress level also help sleep during the night, and I know that after spending time in the wilderness my mind is sharper and I feel energized.

Before I ever read that there was an actual word for what I was experiencing, I loved being in national parks and being surrounded by trees and wildlife.  My favorite vacations as a child were to Yellowstone (and a little bit of Teton or Glacier thrown in), and I’m determined to go with my husband later this year because of these memories.  I’ve never felt drawn to beaches or flashy cruises or themeparks–my heart has always been among the trees.  I doubt that because I’m related to John Muir I’ve felt this way my whole life, but it’s lovely to consider that it’s always been in my blood.  While London felt like home in many ways with its museums, history, and amazing food, the mountains and forests call me home as often as I can return.  It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the trail or the nearest city before or not, it’s always a part of me.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean.”  — John Muir

Isolation

Being chronically ill is hard.  Beyond the physical frustrations and limitations, there’s this sort of self-imposed isolation.  Slowly, you stop showing up to social gatherings.  Your body doesn’t allow you to keep going from the work week into the weekend.  Hiding out under a blanket with a heating pad and the entire series of Parks and Recreation is much more appealing than riding in a car somewhere or trying to cope with unknown venues.   Even sitting in a theater for a movie or music performance takes planning and more energy than it ever should.

I found that when I hurt my back the friends I’d helped suddenly vanished and never even inquired about how I was doing.  (Luckily, Tesco and the local farms delivered.  Healthy food delivery is one of my favorite things of this interconnected world…)  My fatigue and pain-addled brain didn’t care for texting back-and-forth, and I was in no position to host anyone if they’d cared to pop by.

The past year or more I’ve lost touch with people who were my closest friends.  My back acts up at the most inconvenient times, and without adequate pain control I have to resort to taking Tylenol and a muscle relaxant which makes me loopy.  I’ve missed a couple of girls’ nights, a pumpkin carving party, dinners out, and picnics.  It’s depressing and difficult to think about all that I wanted to join.

A few weeks ago I went to a wonderful theater performance.  I’d planned it all out–my husband would drive, I’d make sure to walk during the intermission, and then the next morning I’d recover a bit with Pilates.  When my husband got home we would do some shopping (which generally helps since I’m moving the whole time).  Then, I would be good to go for a movie night.  Of course, when we got there it turned out that the seats restricted my knees more than expected, making my back bend for the duration in an uncomfortable way.  The next morning, my instructor was ill and canceled about an hour before class.  Despite all my careful planning, I couldn’t make it to the movie night when my back gave out while grocery shopping.  In the moment I can’t think, I don’t care about time, and all social graces go out the window because I unconsciously have to prioritize the pain above all else.

I tend to do better when we’re hosting or when meeting out somewhere, as then my husband can drive and take away a little of the pain for me, but obviously that doesn’t always work.  As illustrated above, I can plan as much as I can, it still can go horribly wrong.

It’s also incredibly difficult to schedule anything during the week.  Mondays are my late nights at work, so I get off at 7:00 PM.  The rest of the week, I have acupuncture or Pilates, and my early mornings mean I need to start making my way to bed around 9:00 PM.  I almost always feel like I’m running on empty, and so of course my social calendar is the first sacrifice.

 

There’s no way around it: this isolating feeling SUCKS.  It’s hard, and it does little to help a chronically ill person recover or be in higher spirits.  It’s one more frustration in one never-ending, ginormous ball of anger and exasperation.  I suppose all I can do is do what I do best: plan and keep going no matter if those plans work out or not.

The Elimination Diet

So what is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet is an eating plan which avoids the common foods and food groups to which people are often allergic or intolerant.  It’s used not because it’s “cool” or the “fad” but because it’s a useful diagnostic tool.  Many people don’t know they are intolerant or that a certain food they’ve always eaten is actually causing them harm.

Certain foods can also be harmful to gut health.  Your gut governs a huge portion of the body’s processes, and it helps your immunity and ability to heal and recover from illness.  I suppose it stands to reason that if I’ve had medical issues my whole life–many of which were related to my immune system–that an elimination diet might help me.

Then, what can’t I have?  Wheat, corn, beef, shellfish, soy, diary, peanuts, and caffeine are the big ones, but I also can’t have any refined sugar, honey, or maple syrup.  That leaves out pretty much any prepared sauces and any chocolate.  Alcohol (which I very rarely drink), coffee, shortening, oranges, eggs, rye, barley, cold cuts, and non-dairy creamers round out the list.  Compared to other elimination diets, I’m lucky (for now) that I can continue to consume tomatoes and peppers, also called nightshades, as those are a huge portion of my daily diet.

What does that leave?  Huge amounts of fruit and vegetables, coconut and nut milks, fish, poultry, wild game, lentils and beans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, nut butters, cold-pressed olive and nut oils, filtered water (no tap!), herbal teas, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, stevia, molasses, vinegar (though not from wheat or corn), and all spices and herbs.

At the request of my doctor I have been having a smoothie in the morning (spinach, frozen berries, avocado or almond milk yogurt, coconut milk, and a plant-based protein powder with probiotics), and I will follow that a few hours later with oatmeal with fresh fruit and cinnamon.  On Sundays I pre-cook chicken, sweet potatoes, and brown rice so that I can throw together a quick lunch with some greens to warm up at work.  I will usually have a snack in the afternoons like some vegan, gluten-free bread, some fruit, or a gluten-free bar.  Dinners have varied somewhat, but for the most part I’ve made salmon or a piece of game with brown rice and a green vegetable.  Dessert has been a piece of fruit, or in a pinch some dried fruit without any kind of added sugar or flavor.

My doctor also recommended several gut health supplements: a strong probiotic, a digestive enzyme blend, and fish oil.  I’m also taking vitamin D for overall energy and DHEA because my last labs showed my hormones were a little low.  I’ve been taking turmeric, glucosamine, and biotin for a long time to address my joint pain and former hair loss (associated with extremely low B12 levels).

It’s boring, it’s a lot of work, and it’s frustrating.  I won’t go into how difficult it is to walk by the samples in Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or to watch people at work indulging in Reese’s Eggs, homemade brownies, or pizza.  Even my husband can’t escape a wrathful look from me on occasion when he makes his eggs in the morning.  (Though, to be fair, he’s been extremely supportive and eats what I do in the evenings and for snacks.)

If you have been experiencing fatigue, tiredness, and chronic illness it might be beneficial for you to speak to a doctor about going on this or another elimination diet.  I’m only a week an a bit down, but I know it’s already doing me some good.  On day three, I discovered that my belly had gone down seemingly overnight.  I know that this will help my sugar cravings in the future.  I won’t lie: there are some side effects, especially early on.  I had intense day-long headaches the first three days, I was more sleepy and fatigued in my body during that time.  I do think that my new afternoon headaches are related to the diet, and my stamina on my walks or in my Pilates sessions is definitely lower than it’s ever been.

I’m going to keep going, and I hope that all this work will eventually lead to a decrease in pain and an easier life going forward.

 

Why “Up & Atta Girl”?

There’s the phrase, “Up and at ’em”.  It’s used to urge someone to get up, embrace the day, and get after “them”–those issues, homework assignments, or various other mini daily demons.

Then there’s the phrase (or word?), “Attaboy” or “Attagirl” to praise someone.  My father often would use that when I was a child after I’d done something well, whether it was a defensive kick in soccer or getting a difficult algebra problem correct.

I learned how strong my body is when I lost all that weight.  I was punching, lifting, running, downward dogging, and planking my way to a healthier and stronger body.  I strayed from that path in 2013 when I hurt my back, and even when my energy is good enough to run or plank, my joints now provide an extra hurdle.

In January I made the commitment to sorting out my back.  That’s when I started at a new chiropractor, tried acupuncture for the first time, and started getting massages.  I got in with the homeopathic doctor who has shown incredible compassion and who I believe wants to help my whole body feel better.

I want to become that fearless, energetic, committed woman again, and I think I can.

The name “Up and Atta Girl” is a combination “up and at ’em” and “attagirl” because even though I struggle to move beyond my bed each day, I believe I can.  Each time I visit the gym or run a 5k or fight through the brain fog it’s an “attagirl” moment for me.