I Begged Them To Chop My Leg Off

“Pretty please?” I asked Nurse Nick, the studly and only male nurse tending to patients in the ER that night. “Then I can start training to become a Paraolympian runner!”

Nurse Nick laughed but refused and left me and my roomie S to our own devices. Our day had been consumed by a trip to urgent care, and then the ER, to diagnose what was happening to the thing I used to call my right leg.

Let me back up a bit.

Remember how I went on a chilly, but amazing, excursion to Europe? Well it turns out that before I left, I contracted poison oak on a hike. Over the course of the trip, the rash – which I had paid very little attention to – turned into full blown cellulitis. Think mega-rash/skin infection. Very unbecoming.

Thus I limped off a 10-hour flight and straight into the waiting arms of my amazing friend.The doctors bandaged me up, gave me my prescriptions, and sent me home for the weekend to recuperate.

Thursday I called out of work sick and took it easy. Friday I went back to work, but tried to stand/walk as little as possible. By Saturday I had deemed myself well enough to spend a friend’s birthday at a Rocky Picture Show viewing until 4 AM.

On Monday, the doctor checked up on everything and said the infection looked almost gone, so I worked my usual hours through to Thursday. By Thursday, however, things had taken a turn for the worse, and a subsequent visit to urgent care confirmed the infection was back, and I had to restart all of the medications that had been driving me crazy all week. Plus it meant my fifth and sixth shots to the glutes. Yikes.

image

Waiting for Nurse Nick to wheel me in for an ultrasound of my leg

This weekend, I have dedicated myself to being a model patient. I’m embarrassed to think how much I brushed off truly taking the time necessary to heal on the first round. When you’re in your twenties, you think you’re invincible. My version of ‘taking it easy’ at work meant working like I do normally, but just sitting down when at my desk instead of standing.

I was careless, and I hope you use this as a cautionary tale the next time you fall ill. Please. Do yourself the favor. Treat yourself right, inside and out, and have the courage to tell people you need the time to do so. If you do not, you will get sicker, and you will miss more work and pay more money for medications and doctors visits (which means more glute shots).

You only get one body; treat it well.

Oh, and make sure you know what poison oak is before you hike.

 

Signature

Advertisements

Fitasmic

Monogram

It’s 5AM on a Tuesday, and the green band around my wrist buzzes energetically, coaxing me into consciousness. Time for the gym. I’m up, out the door, on my way. At the gym, I give the band a couple presses and it logs my activity for me. Later, at work, it buzzes to tell me I’ve been inactive for at least 30 minutes, shouldn’t I do a lap and get a few more steps in? Just before bed, I check out its corresponding app on my tablet to see how many steps I took, how long and how well I rested the night before, etc. Then it’s time to do it all over again.

This nifty device is my first ever fitness tracker, and it has simultaneously taken on the roles of my nurturing mentor and annoying personal trainer. The band itself is simple and sporty; I was the only photo 1 photo 2 photo

person who ordered it in a color other than black and navy. Now, though I can see why – by day two of wearing it, it was already showing signs of discoloration/dirt/who knows. You use a button on one end to input several simple commands, such as change status, time an activity, and take a power nap.

The app that this fitness band uses is called Up. Up takes all of the data synched from the band and turns it into useful information, counting your steps and counting your sleep. You can use it to set reminders, track goals, see health trends, and even form a ‘team’ with your friends. My coworkers and I joined one together, but that’s only served to make us each feel bad about our individual contributions.

If anything, wearing my band has opened my eyes to how much less healthy I actually am than I previously thought. Once upon a time, I could come home from a long day at work and reason that since I felt fatigued, I probably walked way more than the recommended 10,000 steps per day, and so of course I deserved this bowl of ice cream!

Wrong wrong wrong.

Instead, I barely hit 10,000 in an average day. Additionally, I’m not sleeping as soundly as I could be. Nor exercising as often. Suddenly, I have someone – or, rather, something – holding me accountable for my own well being. Sure, it’s a little annoying; I had to take a two day break from wearing it so I didn’t have to face my lack of movement. On the flip side, though, now I have this incredible little device that can actually help me take better care of myself, if I’m willing to work with it and be honest about where I’m at health wise. I guess it’s time to step it Up!

Signature

 

 

Well, I Tried: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Monogram

Well folks, it’s the weekend, and you know what that means! After a long week of some very non-clean eating, it’s time for another installation of “Well, I tried”. This week’s recipe is for slow cooker honey garlic chicken, from the blog Just a Taste. Here’s what I thought:

The Ingredients: For the most part, very easy to find grocery items. Once again, I tried to get everything at Target, and was successful EXCEPT for soy sauce, if you can believe it. The only thing I blinked an eye at was the hoisin sauce, but I figured it’d be a worthwhile investment if I was sure to use it again.

The gang [minus onion] is all here!

The Prep: Not too bad, actually. You whisk the main ingredients together, pour them over the chicken breasts, and voila! It’s ready to cook. The only thing that took some time for me was dicing the onion, but that’s because I don’t know how to properly do so.

** Note: I took some liberties with the recipe. Firstly, I used boneless breasts, simply because Target didn’t have any with bones. Secondly, I used coconut oil instead of olive oil – it was convenient, because I already had it. Third, I stacked some pieces of chicken on top of each other, even the recipe says this is a no-no. I had to because my crock pot is tiny, and I wanted enough to last me. Next (yikes, I didn’t think I made this many changes), I cooked it for two hours on high, rather than four hours on low. This is because I don’t know proper time management skills and wanted to eat at a decent hour. Lastly, I skipped the toppings because I ran out of money at the store.

Simmering the sauce with the slurry.

How’d It Come Out? Wow. Hands down a really delicious, flavorful recipe that yielded more than I expected it to. The chicken came out moist and tender and had really absorbed the marinade without having sat in it for too long. I promptly devoured it with some rather unhealthy potatoes from a box but hey, this is a step in the right direction!

I took this photo and then promptly inhaled the food.

The Verdict: SO DELICIOUS! A huge recommend for everyone except my poor mother, who is allergic to chicken.

Stay tuned for more recipe adventures!

Signature

Standing Standing Everywhere, and Not a Place to Sit

Monogram

There have always been – and most likely, will always be – health crazes and fads. From early tonics that promised instant cures, to the Shake Weight, there are new trends starting every day. This time around, I’ve decided to board the bandwagon on one.

At work lately, there have been a string of my coworkers who have begun to use standing desks. It started with one guy in the creative department, M, who claimed that he preferred standing to sitting when he drew. He propped up his laptop and accouterments on some cardboard boxes and voila! A standing desk was born.

M’s desk remained homemade until work hired a new executive, who had back problems and couldn’t sit for long periods of time. And as an executive, there was no way he was going to be greeting clients with his desktop sitting on a Goldfish box. Several standing desks were purchased, along with some mats to ease the pressure on their feet.

The craze was moving along at a solid pace when my coworker, B, and I finally thought we wanted to give it a try. I

My homemade standing desk, don't mind the mess!

My homemade standing desk, don’t mind the mess!

actually prefer to stand to work – it makes it easier to dash out the door when anything arises (and let me tell you, a lot arises).

Because we were only testing the waters, we took the homemade route; my keyboard is resting on a paper holder, while my mouse is on a plastic drawer set. B’s setup involves several boxes at key heights. Luckily, the company had ordered some extra mats for us to stand on.

After a week of no-sitting, B and I agreed on a few things:

  1. Our legs weirdly feel more toned. Though in my case, I emphasized they were a little more stiff.
  2. It does make it easier to walk in and out of our office to do tasks.
  3. We don’t feel as sluggish and bloated in the afternoons following lunch

Screen shot 2015-04-08 at 6.34.45 AMSo far so good. Then B texted me the link to an article one night about the real health benefits of standing desks, versus the hype. It spells out that standing desks aren’t the magic antithesis to sitting. In reality, too much of anything will kill you, and standing too much can be painful and cause heart problems and varicose veins. Yikes.

Standing desks can be apart of a solution, though, when placed into a life routine that additionally include
low-intensity physical activity. The key is to make sure you’re doing it correctly! After reading the article, B and I adjusted our setups to make sure our standing – and sitting – positions were correct.

As she and I begin week two, we’ve begun to allow ourselves to sit whenever we feel uncomfortable or tired. The key is balance, balance, balance.

Until tomorrow, when B brings in her new weighted hula hoop for us to try. 😉

Signature

The Day I Forgot My Boulder Holder

Monogram

There’s a funny story in my family that recounts the time a friend’s daughter had to have her father bring her a pair of underwear at high school, because she’d forgotten to put them on that morning. Endless laughter was brought forth in re-imagining the scene of the father, red faced, having to discreetly bring his daughter her favorite thong between classes. What a hoot! Who could be so forgetful?

I may have just topped this anecdote.

Flash back to this past Thursday. I’ve just finished a really kickass workout at the gym – I’m dripping with sweat, ready to shower and get ready for work. Normally, I pack my gym bag the night before, making sure I’ve got my towel, clothes, and makeup. That way, I don’t have to pack it in the morning at 5AM when I’m sure to forget something important.

I root around the bag for my flip flops and towel, and that’s when I realize what I haven’t got: a bra. And of course, this is the day I wore my workout shirt with the built in padding. And of course, I don’t have a single alternative.

My heart is beating in my ears as I ponder my options in the shower. There’s no way I can run back to my apartment, the LA morning traffic would guarantee I’d be late. Maybe I could stop at a store on the way?. I’d probably have to wait until a few hours later, when the Target down the street from work would be open.

I dried myself off and dressed, trying to get used to the feeling of being…bare.

Here’s my lo-down on bras:

  • I, like most women my age, have been wearing bras since puberty, even though I told my mother at the onset that there was no way in hell I was ever going to grow breasts, because they were horrifying.
  • The boob gods heard my prayers, because I check in at barely a B cup
  • Just because I don’t have much going on chest-wise doesn’t mean that it isn’t absolutely obvious when I don’t wear a bra
  • I don’t wear them to bed, nor sometimes on early morning runs to the coffee shop

As I continued prepping for the day, I kept reminding myself that bras are not a necessity! Shirts and shoes, yes. Bras? Nope! There are no rules dictating when or how to wear them. Over hundreds of years they’ve come in and out of fashion, and many women put them on every day tumblr_nlvbso3h5Y1se6x8po1_500without much thought. For some, it’s for support; for others, it’s to create a different illusion of what a we as a society think a breast should look like. Seeing a woman’s nipples through her shirt isn’t the rage right now. Bralessness is instead thought of being something indie or hipster-ish.

“I’ll look just like Kate Moss,” I tittered to myself silently as I walked out of the gym, conscious of the way my girls were moving wildly around with every step.

At work, I was even more self-conscious, arching my shoulders so my shirt would hang away from my body. I was sure everyone would look and see and realize. I went back and forth between feeling liberated and part of my own “social experiment” – if my coworkers saw, would they think any less of me? Would someone pull me aside to talk about ‘appropriate work attire’? Why is this bothering me so much? – to feeling almost naked, exposed. I didn’t want anybody seeing this nonsensical, jiggling production that was my chest. I wanted everyone to be able to focus on what I was doing and saying, rather than my appearance.

Two nerve-crushing, unbearable hours later, my social experiment was done. I was stressed out, thinking about what I’d do if I had to go up or down another flight of stairs, and was having trouble focusing on work. My co-worker and friend, whom I’d confided in about the whole stupid thing, finally pulled me aside and handed me two pieces of gauze and medical tape. I thanked her profusely before booking it to the bathroom, where I was able to tape down the more noticeable aspects and stabilize the jiggle effect.

After this, my day did a complete 180, and I nearly forgot about the whole thing until I came home and changed into my PJs.

What can I take away from all of this?

I got a cold dose of American culture, that’s for sure. In forgetting my bra, I was confronted with how bodies are so hyper-sexualized that seeing my silhouette through my shirt felt incredibly wrong and unprofessional. We wear these things daily, even when someone like me (who doesn’t need the added support) has no good reason to.

The whole scenario has got me thinking about all of these invisible aspects that guide women’s lives and dress codes daily. For now, though, I’ll stick to my Aeries and my Victorias Secrets, and will be sure to check my gym bag twice.

Signature

Groups Get it Done

Monogram

Ok, ok. I hated group anything in college. Maybe because I always ended up doing most of the work the night before the big project/presentation/anything.

photo 1

A little time at the happiest place on earth didn’t hurt!

Last week my family visited Los Angeles to tour a couple of colleges my brother applied to, and I took a few days off from work to enjoy with them. We did Hollywood, some hiking, Disneyland, the zoo – it was amazing.

When I got back to work, though, my co-worker and boss immediately sat me down to tell me about their newest idea. We were going to host an exercise challenge for the month of March. The goal was to get people out of their fitness ruts and physically challenge them at least three times a week.

A group challenge? I was, of course, skeptical at first. Was it going to be a competition? How would we know if people were really exercising?

They nixed the competition idea. Instead, anyone who completed it throughout the entirety of March would win a fitness tracker, courtesy of the company (which I’m still reeling from. Sometimes, I love my job). As for knowing whether people were actually participating… well, we decided to put faith in the participants. The only person who would lose would be them.

Here are the official guidelines we sent out:

  • Participants must complete three 30 minute exercise sessions per week throughout March
  • The sessions must be separate; doing one workout for 1.5 hours won’t count as the week’s total
  • Workouts do not have to be completed at a gym. Activities like hiking and running outdoors count and are encouraged!
  • Participants must track weekly progress on the progress board

We decided to call it ‘Move Your A$$ March’, as our alternative to March Madness. By this

Our progress board

Our progress board

week, we’ve had 16 people sign up. Personally, I’m so excited to have so many new fitness buddies. Research has shown that having reliable partners in fitness increases your chances of sticking with it. Psychologically, if you feel like you have a responsibility to another person (or in this case, 15 other people), you’ll follow through on your commitments [source].

Here are a few tips for being a good fitness buddy:

  • Be in touch. Send reminder texts and emails encouraging your fellow fitness trainee(s). I like to work out in the mornings, while my co-worker likes to work out at night. Every day after work, we talk about our training goals, and I’ll send her inspirational pictures and quotes.
  • Push your partner, then praise their efforts. We used to complain about working out. Now, we instead encourage each other not to skip our workouts, but to follow through with them.
  • Be reliable. Always follow through with what you say you’ll do. This includes sending timely encouragement, providing a wake up call, meeting up with your buddy at the gym, doing your own separate workout, etc.

I hope this inspires you to grab a friend and get moving!

Signature

 

Snowrobics

Untitled

As my inbox is being flooded with spring break lounge wear and the newest styles of swimsuits, my daily Google searches consist of How to prevent ice damns? and How to avoid a heart attack while shoveling?  The extreme weather hitting the Northeast is just as crippling as predicted.

Untitled design (6)

Happily surviving Juno!

However, as one of the few snow lovers left in MA, I am in the hunt to survive these storms but also enjoy it while it is here! I am predicting a change of heart for all the haters once heatwaves hit this summer. My biggest complaint of these storms is the “snow globe” effect it has on my routine.

So far, 2015 has been very successful in regards to my NYE resolutions.February is the most critical time in predicting the long term success of NYE resolutions. It is now that the gyms return to their normal operating volume and where it shouldn’t be a struggle to bypass that 3 pm sugary snack. My philosphy is: If you can last a month, then 11 more months will be a cake walk.  I have made strides with the Spartan training, taking a hold of my adult responsibilities, and moving to a happier healthier version of myself. The massive amounts of snow have been standing my way of keeping this momentum going.

With the mixture of driving bans and mountains of snow that resemble The Wall  in Game of Thrones, it is hard enough to get to work never mind the gym. I am not surprised to find an amazing article from the Huffington Post that solves all my snow problems. From dead lifts to squats, this article covers all the staples for my training regiment.  The best part? It provides instruction to properly perform these exercises while shoveling. As the inches fall from the sky, I will be able to work towards new personal lifting records.

For all my snow lovers and haters alike, there is hope to stay on track!

Safe shoveling, folks!

Jess (2)

Check out the article here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/26/shoveling-snow-workout-gifs_n_6548946.html

May I Blog More Frequently

Monogram

Phew! After a week and a half of a nasty cold, I finally feel like I’m better & nearly back to normal. During that period, I tried to be extra kind to my body. That meant more sleep, less gym; heartier foods, less time cooking. While it felt really, REALLY good to embrace my – dare I say – lazier side, it’s made me be all the more appreciative of how much exercise and clean eating boost my confidence and overall make me feel great.

To help get me back in the saddle, I’ve enlisted the aid of setting weekly intentions. Before now, I’d only ever heard the term used in the smattering of yoga classes I’ve taken. According to the blog Abundant Mama, intentions keep us focused on our goals and help us “behave the way we wish to behave”.

You can make weekly intentions, daily intentions, weekend intentions, yearly ones, etc. What you must do is ask yourself what it is that you need out of your set period of time. Abundant Mama reminds readers that while our intentions are meant to be taken seriously, stuff happens and in the end, they’re just intentions.

In order to keep my intentions fresh in my mind, I framed a sheet of paper that reads, “Only Good Lies Before Me”. In the center, I can use dry-erase marker to write out my different intentions as they change. I think the end product is so-so, and eventually I’ll probably switch it out for something cuter, but in the meantime it’ll do!unnamed-1

Mine for this week are:

  • May I not be stressed
  • May I be balanced
  • May I have lots of creative energy
  • May I be mindful
  • May I take care of my body

Where do you see your week headed?

Signature

Om

Meditation-2

Lately, it seems like my brain is constantly and humming with activity. A lot of it is because work is absolutely nuts right now, and so I’m always finding myself thinking about what I need to prepare, who I need to email, etc. Otherwise, I’m dreaming up new blog posts, brainstorming for that next DIY project, planning future trips, and worrying about everything else.

I broke down the other night, convinced my brain was on steroids and that I’d never get any peace. I called my mom, because who better to cry to? She heard out my woes patiently and then offered – meditation!

I think I started to roll my eyes, but then caught myself. Meditation sounded like a nutty idea, something for people with more patience and self-control than I, but I remembered how in college I would attend guided meditation sessions offered during finals week. More often than not, I would fall asleep during them, spread full-eagle on a mat surrounded by strangers, but it was because I was so relaxed and comfortable.

For the last week or so, I’ve been re-visiting guided meditation as a means to shut my brain off before bed. Normally, I hate having computer screens in the bedroom, but I quickly searched for videos on YouTube before settling down with one from channel Psychetruth. I turned the brightness way way down, tossed it onto my nightstand, and settled back on my pillows.

This is how my thought process went during the fourteen minutes:

 

  • Am I comfy? Am I too comfy? Where should my arms be? What was I supposed to remember for tomorrorow?
  • Picture a boat, eh? Oh wow, I remember that one time we went on dad’s friend’s boat and jumped off!
  • Stop thinking about other things, focus on the damn boat!
  • Ok, I think I’m getting the hang of this. Breathe in, breathe out.
  • Zzzzzzzzzzz

I don’t even remember the end of the video, because at some point I fell into such a deep sleep that I almost was late to work the next morning. Since then, I’ve tested a few more videos, each with the same result. They make it easier to rope in those rogue thoughts that keep me up at night, instead helping me to focus my mind and breathing and to relax.

There are many, many different forms of meditation, and I’m looking forward to incorporating it more into my daily schedule.

Not convinced yet? Here are eight ways meditation benefits you in mind, body, and soul.

Here’s the video I tried on my first night by Psychetruth:

 

Signature

 

Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

d346e3d324100612_009213c6118e11e3bccd22000ae91234_7.preview

Sleep – even vampires need it. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a highlight of my day. Picture it – your pre-bed routine, finally climbing under those covers, settling in for the night. As I write this, I can feel my eyelids closing. It took me until college to realize that I’m someone who needs at least 8 hours a night. Otherwise, I go through my day like a zombie. Growing up, I was always the first person in bed at sleepovers, and even now I’m prone to passing out on friends’ couches. What can I say? I love catching some Z’s!

Here are some sleep facts you might not have been aware of:

  1. People with desk jobs and mentally taxing work are “exquisitely sensitive to even minor sleep loss.”
  2. Losing just one hour of sleep per night for a week can cause your brain to behave as though it has a BAC level of .10 – that’s more than the legal limit of .08 to drive!
  3. The effects of sleep loss on adults can include poor concentration, poor memory, and poor job performance.

I have a confession to make: for the past six months, I’ve been sleeping on an air mattress! A nice one, for sure,

Mr. Sock Monkey reclines joyously on our new bed

Mr. Sock Monkey reclines joyously on our new bed

but an air mattress all the same. Honestly, it was taking me a while to save for it. When I finally did, I had to use the money to fix my car. But, I’m a lucky gal, and for Christmas my dad matched what I’d saved since. This week, I welcomed home my brand-new queen sized mattress – and I’m in love!

Even more exciting is to see how my health improves as my body adjusts to sleeping on a real mattress again. I’m looking forward to improved moods, having an easier time getting up in the morning, and so much more!

Additionally, I’ve found a great list from PopSugar of other ways to get better sleep at night. Luckily, I’ve already got #17 down pat 😉

Signature