2020 Lab Test Results – Vegan Diet

This year I am right on top of checkups, screenings, and physical therapy. Right out of the gate I had some blood testing done to see how nearly 3 years on a plant exclusive diet is working for me. There was a period of a few weeks at the start of 2019 where I brought back eggs and wild game, but all it got me was dizzy, constipated and depressed. Back to the beautiful plants for me 🙂 I have a surgical procedure planned for April of 2020, so I popped the hood to take a peek and see if I need to course correct.

I have had high cholesterol every time I’ve had it tested. I never had a normal result. However, in my “paleo” days it was 314 total (2014) and then 294 total (2017).  Going plant-based in 2017, I was able to drop it by 92 points in 3 months. For reference, I take no prescription drugs.

And then I got relaxed about added oils. And nuts. And well, it’s high again. I do so much better when I keep the fat low. I even notice easier periods and better athletic performance when I keep it low fat. Before we blame genetics…. nope. I had my DNA tested. I cannot blame anyone but my own self because I do struggle with food addiction.

I’ve never gotten my vitamin D in a normal range. I have increased my dosage based on these results to 4000iu daily, but it’s chronically very low. Has been for at least a decade.

I do supplement B12. I understand “meat animals” are supplemented with B12 and also get it from soil, which is where humans used go get it. I hear debate about the necessity, but I’d rather not take chances. My D supplement contains K2. I bleed very heavily on my monthly cycle, and have for the better part of 34 years now (yay!), so I take Floradix to supplement iron. Those are the absolutes. I rarely use protein powders.

I have to say, I get asked where I get my protein so often, if I had a nickel for every time, I’d be a rich woman! Haha! aerialObviously I get sufficient amounts from plants. Read the book Proteinaholic or The China Study if you want to learn why more isn’t better. My protein levels are great. Calcium great. Hemoglobin A1C (long-term blood sugar control) stellar. Oh and I eat primarily carbohydrate! Fresh, delicious, juicy fruit. Every day. In general, it’s looking great except cholesterol. I’ve dropped added oils and cut back on nuts. I’ll retest later this spring.

Other than that, I’m hovering around 130# at 5’1″. I have a good amount of muscle. Blood pressure normal. As I said, no prescription drugs. Plenty of energy to get through my very active days.  Far less struggles with depression. I feel like I’m on an even keel most of the time. Even in the dead of winter. My only complaints are chronic pain (12 years now and still trying to figure it out) and bloating (same amount of time). I think I’m doing pretty dang good at 45 years old. I have certainly come a long way.

 

labslabs

 

 

2020Labs

Falling Leaves

Sweet Surrender

Surrender
Ahh…. the fall equinox was yesterday. For some reason, I find myself very introspective at the change of seasons. Moving into autumn (my absolute favorite!), I’ve been contemplating letting go. Letting go like the leaves from the trees. Letting go of ideas that no longer serve my highest self. Surrendering to the act of letting go.

Letting go of resistance. Surrendering to love.

On the physical level, perhaps it’s a surrender in finding out that I have some genetic connective tissue anomaly as well as misshapen hip sockets. Perhaps, maybe, running any distance will not serve me. Perhaps that frees me up to spend more time on bikes with my ever-patient, amazing and supportive husband. I like that idea. My body likes yoga and mountain biking sane distances. My mind and soul also benefit in innumerable ways. So, why keep chasing other physical endeavors that leave me injured every time?

That’s pretty minor in comparison to a revelation I had today. Now, I grew up around Christianity. I had a bit of a falling out with God over a decade ago. In recent years, I’ve found a closeness and a “spirituality” that I never knew previously. I had released the dogma and felt I did not need an interpreter/middle man. I have believed in a God/One/Creator/Being of Light for some time now. Working around the dying, I feel that there’s something undeniable beyond what our eyes can see. I believe that heaven is here and now, hell was made up to control the masses but certainly can be a state of disconnect (going through hell) here on Earth. But, I don’t need the scare tactics or some of the other things that have turned me off to “religion”. My Creator, in my opinion, did not create me or any of us as worthless sinning machines destined to a fiery hell if we don’t follow all the rules. Ha!! My Creator is far too amazing to play games like that. My Creator is He and She and Up and Down and ALL. And don’t tell me what to chant or sing. If my heart doesn’t feel it, I won’t do it. I want a direct connection.

My aforementioned husband is a regular church goer. I accompany him to support him and love feeling the energy of collective prayer. It is powerful! Today I was by his side and the music was so moving. Honestly, every time I go, I fight back tears. I feel my soul is stirred. I’m moved. I can barely hold it together sometimes.

So, what’s with that? I usually just stuff it down and move on. Today though….. I choose to surrender. Something that moves me so deeply needs my attention. I, like the leaves on the trees during my favorite season, am letting go. Letting go of resistance.

I’ve been looking for a guru. For now, my guru is Jesus Christ. It’s so obvious to me. There is a freedom in surrender.

 

I Quit

Today was my last scheduled day as a Registered Nurse. I saw two hospice patients. I’m so very grateful for the time and experiences I’ve had. For the patients I helped “pack their bags” to go home. For the deaths I was blessed to attend. For the tears I’ve witnessed. For the stories I’ve been privileged to hear. For the patients I loved and let go. How can a person not get a little attached? Some will forever be close to my mind. And heart.

My mom is a nurse. I was 34 when I lost a well-paying job due to a business closure, and had the opportunity to go back to school with some substantial financial assistance. Don’t get me wrong, I did have to work 2 part-time jobs, nearly lost my house, and stood in food pantry lines to make ends meet for myself and my kids. I learned far more than the piles of information in the textbooks. I learned gratitude, and to accept help from strangers, and that I’m capable of whatever I put my mind to. That was a crazy time! 9 semesters, due to waiting list and pre-requisite courses.

My first nursing job was in Home Health. I learned a good deal about wound care, colostomies, catheters, lab draws and medications. I actually love to drive, which came in handy with the miles put on in a rural area. However, I ended up needing more stable hours and benefits. I went to surgery, working in the suites with the surgical teams. I never fit in. The pace is fast. The environment is cold. I felt like a janitor of bodily fluids, a gopher, and if a person needed shaving or disinfection that was my job. I don’t care to ever prep another gynelogical case. Haha. I don’t like to be in such a rush, either. Or bright lights (unless it’s the sun). Or snarky co-workers. Felt like middle school. It was definitely interesting from a how-stuff-works standpoint. The on-call just about killed me. I had 20 minutes to be in the hospital and I live just about that far away. I started having panic attacks when the phone rang at night. I had everything prepared but holy smokes, to be woken up out of a dead sleep because someone swallowed something they shouldn’t or needed a C-Section was just a jolt.

My heart was always leaning towards hospice, and working in surgery was just the push I needed. People always say “it takes a special person”. I don’t know. It’s an honor and a privilege. Death is the one truth we all have in common, right? After all, a flower doesn’t blossom forever. If I can assist in that transition, my cup is full. So, I jumped in to a full time position as a hospice nurse. There’s so much I loved about it. However, with full time came on call overnight. My body really freaked out. Panic attacks, insomnia, heart palpitations….. I can do a lot of things but being called in the wee hours and having to work the days before and after just aren’t on the list. I was in pain all the time and had full on adrenal exhaustion. The company I worked for was very unlikely to utilize a “casual” nurse, offered nothing else in hospice without call, and therefore I went to Aspirus as a casual.

Aspirus is where I started in home health. I like the company. I like the supervisors. I was hired as a casual – no expectations really. No benefits but by this time I was married and didn’t need them. Work when I’m available. I figured I’d get my massage license and then do 2 days per week of each.

Around December 2017, 4 months or so into my massage therapy practice, I was working 4-5 full days per week doing massage. It kind of took over my schedule. I was available some random Wednesdays to hospice, but the timing wasn’t working out. I went from the end of February to July without putting on my scrubs.

And, I didn’t really miss it. I was committed to covering a vacation in July but kind of dreaded it. You see, in my massage practice I’ve found what I was hoping to in being a nurse. One of the greatest joys in my massage practice is the continuity of care. I actually see the same clients, week after week and month after month. I get to know their needs and tailor sessions for them. It’s the feeling of seeing an old friend when they grace my table, even if only a few words are spoken. I’m never on call. In fact, my phone is in Do Not Disturb mode most of the time. I’ll check it when it’s convenient. My “charting” consists of writing down what my client’s complaints were and what I did about them. I’m usually done by the time they walk out of the treatment room. No meetings. No waiting for doctors’ orders. No Foley catheters to insert. No needles. No medication management. Just a peaceful environment, aromatherapy, and presence. All I really have to do is be present.

It’s like the struggles to get to this place have made my success. I appreciate it with a deep gratitude. It’s like going to work now is a breath of fresh air. I look forward to it. I am allowed to be creative, set my boundaries, and provide the calm and caring space for people to do their healing work.

My experience as a nurse certainly helps. I utilize care planning for treatments. I understand peoples’ conditions and medications, and customize sessions for those circumstances. Nursing has taught me so many things, and thought process is a huge part of it.

As of today, I am no longer available as a Registered Nurse. I will maintain my license and keep ties with Aspirus. I look forward to spending some of my Wednesdays providing the comforting touch of massage to hospice patients in my area, and I’ll do it with the watchful eye of a nurse. My role within the company will be transitioning.

It has not been a year since I officially became licensed for massage therapy and here I am, booked solid for a couple of months. Doing work that I embrace with my entire being. No more panic attacks. No more dreading phone calls or crying because I’m miserable in my work life. Just spreading the love and joy. The awesomeness of my life. The good vibes.

Thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion. I choose joy and abundance. I am at ease.

Namaste.

My Experience With Lyme Disease (22 July 2016)

Two weeks ago at this time I was making plans. My sister’s 37-year-old remains were put in the ground on that date and to my surprise I had lost my stoic demeanor. I was deeply saddened, and ready to turn to my usual method of dealing with hard stuff; bike rides and lifting heavy things. Physically I had been feeling strong and had returned to some harder workouts as well as longer bike rides. After months of watching the decline of one of my favorite people in this world, I was ready to return to the things I love with a passion.

That night, my sleep was disturbed by shooting pains in my left hip. I would reposition myself with some difficulty and doze back off. When morning came and I went to get out of bed, I knew something was very wrong. I could not sit up or stand without excruciating pain in my left hip. It was so bizarre! I had no issues with my hip before. No aches or anything. I limped up the stairs and found even using the bathroom would bring tears to my eyes. Any movement like picking my leg up, or moving it side-to-side, would cause such a sudden and sharp pain it would take my breath away.

I thought maybe an Epsom salt bath would help, so I carefully lowered myself in and soaked for a long time. It was incredibly difficult to get in or out. A friend came over for coffee. At that point I thought maybe I pinched a nerve. I sat down so carefully on a chair but couldn’t stay sitting. It felt better to stand; not so sharp at any rate. I grew very tired of standing that day. I would go to lay down and not be able to swing my leg up onto the bed/couch because the sudden pain would overtake me and I would cry out. I tried high-dose turmeric, fish oil, essential oils, muscle rubs, ice, ibuprofen…. nothing…. walking hurt. Stairs were taken like an old lady. Honestly if it would have stayed like that I would not have wanted to continue to live.

Keep in mind I have had a broken bone. I’ve birthed 2 of my 3 children at home without medications on purpose. I have raced endurance mountain bikes and pedaled 15o miles by myself in one day. I’m ok with some pain. This, though…. this was something else. It was a solid 5/10 achy, burning thing in the left hip joint when I was doing nothing and a 10/10 if I tried to stand. I needed help to get off the couch. I hate going to the doctor. I have a high-deductible insurance plan just in case of something terrible but by Saturday night I was dipping into leftover Vicodin from surgery in 2009 and wishing I could just go to the Emergency Room. I was up several times the next 2 nights and medicated myself that entire weekend. It was the most searing pain like a stab with a knife.

Other oddities that had been happening around that time were vomiting, insomnia, heart palpitations, moderate headaches, and brain fog. I chalked those symptoms up to the stress of a loved one dying.

Two or three weeks prior to this pain, I had been bitten by yet another tick. This one was different, in that it was impossibly small. Like a little bigger than the period at the end of a sentence. It was in my left outer thigh. I removed it without issue, but did develop a red rash and itching. It wasn’t a bullseye. I was bit again in that time. When I had hit a deer driving home from visiting my sister in the hospital, I had 7 ticks crawling on me after walking the roadside to collect car parts and make sure the deer was dead. One of them had bitten, but it was a standard woodtick. I wasn’t too worried. Ticks are part of being an outdoorsy girl, after all.

So, Monday morning rolled around. I took off of work and so did Steve. He drove me to Urgent Care so we would arrive as soon as they opened. I honestly feel like the next 1.5 weeks has been a blur. I was x-rayed and lab work was drawn. My x-rays looked fine. My inflammatory markers were up. The doctor listened to my heart and noticed the palpitations. I had a low-grade fever that had been coming and going. I struggled for words and felt ridiculous with how much pain it caused me to even go for the x-rays. I had such little range of motion in the hip joint. The initial Lyme test was negative and a tick panel was drawn to check for other tick-borne diseases. Due to the initial Lyme test being notoriously inaccurate and given my symptoms and history, I was started on doxycycline immediately. I could not even limp back to the car after obtaining the medication. Any sort of regular stride would make me yelp in pain. I was given an open-ended work release and felt completely debilitated. Yet, I’d been off of work so much recently for my sister.

I attempted to go to work the next day. With pain medication I could kind of function. Like, if I didn’t sit much I could get some things done. It was the sit-stand thing that really got me. Not to mention the fact I was exhausted, feverish, and my brain was in a fog. My sweet coworkers sent me home before I even made it to see a patient. They saw me stand up from a chair and said I should probably not be working. They were right! I don’t know what I was thinking. Work ethic and stuff. I did return that Wednesday. I know it was too soon. It took all of my energy and focus to visit my patients and I had nothing left afterwards.

The pain was better to the point of being able to function for the most part just two days into antibiotic treatment. I still woke at night with pain but the improvement with each dose was significant. The things that really lingered were the cognitive issues…. I just felt stupid and at a loss for simple words…. and the cardiorespiratory issues. Walking up a flight of stairs or a small hill had me stopping to breathe. I would have to stop mid-sentence to breathe. The fevers stopped by Wednesday the first week and ever so gradually the cognitive/cardiorespiratory issues are receding each day.

One and a half weeks out, I did kayak around our little lake today. I took a mile walk with the dogs. I tire easily. My muscles burn. My hip lacks full range of motion and has some aches/pains yet like I expect an arthritic joint might. The knee on that side is also affected. I feel a fog in my brain and need a little extra time to find words. But, every day there is improvement.

I have employed some complementary therapies to help my recovery. I’m eating a ton of veggies, more fruit, significantly less meat, drinking a little less caffeine, doing some juicing, consuming only quality flax and olive oils, meditation, coffee enemas most days, and yoga.

I wanted to write all this down before the memories fade, so I can reflect on how it was and how far I’ve come. My short-term physical goal is to…. hmm…. I have to think about that a little longer… and my longer-term goal is to be able to ride a lap on my mountain bike at Washburn by our wedding day in October. That’s all. Other than that, I’m enjoying a slower pace. Enjoying the beauty around me. Grateful for the doctor at the Urgent Care department. Grateful for Steve’s love and kindness no matter what.

Here’s to healing!!

Probably Multiple Sclerosis – I Inspire Me (2013)

Probable Multiple Sclerosis/I Inspire Me

Today, as I was enjoying the crisp and brilliant fall day from the seat of my road bike, I felt that this is the time to tell my MS story. I hope that by sharing I might inspire others, as that appears to be my calling in this life.

In fall of 2001, I woke up one day just like any other. My feet were “asleep”. You know that pins-and-needles feeling that you get when you lay on your arm? It was like that. Except it did not go away. Over the course of the next few days, it spread upward.

Me in 2000

Let’s rewind just a little bit here. At 5’1” I was about 165# and gaining. I had very little self-control when it came to food choices. I recall many times when I’d bake something for my husband and small children, and proceed to eat it all throughout the day. Not only did I make poor food choices, but I was very sedentary. I had never been physically active. Now, as a mom of three small children, I felt exhausted all of the time. I had very little self-esteem.

The tingling went on up to my waist. Believe me when I tell you, everything was numb from the waist down. Everything. Not only that, but my sense of depth perception was off. I was working part-time as a school bus driver, and one day I backed into a pole due to my depth perception. I quit the job at that time. I had a hard time walking and had to pay a lot of attention, because I wasn’t sure about where my feet were.

This was quite alarming, and I have to thank my mom for helping me through the battery of tests that I went through. Some of it is kind of a fog to me yet. I seem to recall a nerve conductivity test (EMG?), being on steroids, and being scared to death of my future. The definitive test was the MRI, which revealed two active brain lesions. I was started on daily injections for a medication to slow the progression of the disease. I do remember having welts on my welts. I remember looking at mobility options. Mind you, I was in my late 20’s at the time. I prepared myself for the possibility of needing a service dog for stability. I struggled to carry my toddler around and feared losing my balance with him.

Looking back, this was just the wake-up call that I needed. I was obese and unhappy. When  a friend of mine challenged me to see who could lose the most weight by a certain date, I turned to the Atkins diet. I removed grains from my diet. Slowly, my symptoms went away. I started to exercise, first by doing Tae Bo in my living room. It felt good to get my heart rate up! I quit the daily injections and committed to getting my health in order. I called it a healthy denial. I wanted to give MS the big FU.

Followup MRI showed a healing of the lesions which had been active, so I continued to do what I was doing in the way of diet and exercise.
The only time I’ve had a recurrence of symptoms was in 2009. I had reintroduced grains into my diet, thinking I needed them to fuel my new love of cycling. I was under a lot of stress at the time. In 2010 I gave up grains again in an attempt to alleviate irritable bowel symptoms. I have had zero relapses of multiple sclerosis since.

My own theory on it is that for me personally, grains cause systemic inflammation.  It turns out there are many other sources of carbohydrate for fueling my body. This is only my experience, and I realize it does not apply to everyone. It is simply my observation over the years of what works for me.

I fell in love with bicycling in 2007. In 2008 I decided to try our local mountain bike race. I had never been athletic or competitive in my life, so it was a huge step for this former gym-class-skipper. I won my class. I’ve been racing ever since. It has been a growing process, but since I have detached myself from the outcome or awards in my races, it is pure joy. When I think about where I came from and what I have overcome in my life, just the fact that I am out there doing it is a win. That’s all I need. My life is so much richer and fuller in every way since I had my wakeup call.

This may explain to those close to me, why I seem impulsive at times. This also has a lot to do with why I push myself physically and test my limits.

My message is this: There are no guarantees on tomorrow!! You can do and be anything you want to in this life. Now get out there and do it!

“Your adversity is your greatest teacher.” – Paul Chek

24 hour solo mountain bike race, 2013

On Being a Nurse and a Massage Therapist

Many of you know that I’m a nurse as well as a massage therapist. I had met my edge in nursing with overnights on call, and sought balance in my life by going to massage school. My plan was to do each job 2 days per week and have a weekday to myself for solitude/errands/house cleaning/adventures. I left my full-time hospice nursing job and took a casual position, working on a pretty regular weekly basis for Aspirus Comfort Care & Hospice Services. No on-call expectations, help out when I’m available and they need me, etc. Perfect arrangement. Balance. Two wonderful jobs.

My massage business quickly took flight. I expanded my hours for a crazy promotion in November 2017, in which I gave away 100 thirty minute massage sessions to the community. I called it Project Give Some to Get Some, and it was a resounding success! Since then, my calendar has been full 6-8 weeks out. Some clients signed up for a year at a time! My expanded hours have stuck, so my only available day for hospice was Wednesday. Most weeks I work as a massage therapist now 4-5 days (and try to squeeze my husband in on Sundays!).

It’s been some time since hospice needed me on a Wednesday. I generally have massage clients hoping they can get in that day as well, so I give Aspirus first dibs.  As of now I want to say it’s been about 6 weeks since I put on my scrubs.

And a funny thing happened recently. Once I put aside my guilty conscience for having invested in my education to become a Registered Nurse and hone my hospice skills (I do love hospice work), I realized that the very work that has taken over my weeks (massage therapy) is everything that I hoped nursing would be.

I meet a new client and assess their needs. I diagnose (not medically, duh, I’m not a doctor). I make a plan. I implement the plan. I evaluate the treatment (I love it when folks follow up in the couple of days after their massage – it helps me shape their treatment).

I provide hands (ok, feet too!) on care. I provide touch. I provide comfort and space to just be. I nurture. I help. I develop a relationship with my clients that gives continuity to my work. As I get to know them, I give thought to ways I might better serve whatever they’re coming in for.

This is what I went to nursing school for. And I’m finding it as a massage therapist.

I don’t love spending as much time charting as I spend with patients as a nurse. I don’t love turning down overnight call (my body just doesn’t handle that well at all – hello adrenal fatigue!) because I feel like a jerk even though I know it’s not expected. I realize people have pain and die in the middle of the night.

I love being my own boss, too! Heck, if I’m feeling overworked I have no one to blame but myself! I get to work in yoga clothes every day. My meditation and yoga practices benefit not only me, but those I work with.

So here I am, away for a weekend of ashiatsu massage training and excited to learn. Every day I spend in my rental room downtown giving massage, I am so grateful. My heart overflows. I needed more calm in my life and I found it. My work is my creativity. We’ll see if Aspirus feels like keeping me around or if I go 100% in on massage.

Either way, thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion.

Mind Shift

Something shifted in my brain very recently and I have to share. I’m 43. I can’t remember a time I was satisfied with my body. I was a chubby girl, then an obese woman, starved myself skinny in 2009, gained to the point of overweight, struggled hard with my weight until 2017 and FINALLY found what works for me – and with an amount of ease I am still not used to!

For months now, I easily maintain a weight of 125-128. Now, my actual goal at 5’1″ is 120#. It’s a healthy weight.

It’s a number on a scale. I saw this photo of me working yesterday at an Expo and it kind of hit me upside the head. I mean, as recently as the last few days I’ve been “doing a cleanse” or whatever to try to fight my way down to 120 for some reason.

I’ve been knocked down by “Probable multiple sclerosis”, fibromyalgia and an acute tangle with Lyme disease. Twice I struggled to stand up and walk for a period of time in my life. And with this body, I’ve fought my way back. I run 5k on a whim, ride my bicycles to and from work (21 miles round trip), work physically all day long and have the energy to make dinner when I get home. With this body. This. Body. How about just being content with precious gift of a body to enjoy?? It’s actually pretty fantastic.

It’s time to drop the struggle and turn to gratitude. I love the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. I love the ways I move my body to keep fit. I love my job and the fact that I’m physically able to do it. I love my life. I love my body. I don’t give a crap how fast I can get from point A to point B any more. I do give a crap about having fun and enjoyment.

Grateful and content,

Andrea

On Detoxing

Here’s the thing about me and cleanses. I eat very, very clean the vast majority of the time. When I decide to do a cleanse/detox because that’s my January ritual, I spend the week leading up to it binging. It’s a scarcity mentality, I suppose. I’ll pile on a few pounds and then spend the cleanse bringing it back down. I love the way I normally eat and I’m a healthy weight now by anyone’s standards. I eat mainly vegetables, some fruit, some grains in the form of sprouted grain bread, rice and quinoa, and occasional seeds. Almost entirely organic. I drink coffee, tea, plenty of water and a glass of organic, sulfite-free Pinot Noir several evenings each week.

Maybe it’s a residual from my unhealthy past? This feeling of being compelled to detox after the Holidays? I guess there were about half a dozen holiday cookies consumed. Otherwise, I prepared and hauled healthy dishes to every gathering I attended.

I tracked my food today, weighing and measuring things out of curiosity. I used to do this all the time to try to force weight off (that didn’t work long-term, either). Here’s the breakdown:

Calories total 1437
Protein 34g
Carbohydrates 329g (I never would have believed this would lower my long-term blood sugar control)
Fat 2g
Fiber 45g (yeah!)
Sodium 679mg although I did add some salt to dinner
Potassium 6713mg
Vitamin A 1495
Vitamin C 433
Calcium 30
Iron 86

What I ate:
Breakfast: One pound of Russet potatoes and 1/2 cup red cabbage hashbrowns cooked in water, with seasoned salt

Lunch: Baked sweet potato (a full pound!) with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon real maple syrup

Supper: Diced potatoes 10 ounces and 1 cup diced canned tomatoes with chili seasonings and a good portion of spinach

Snacks: Apple, orange, potato

This fueled me nicely for yoga and fat biking in the snow 🙂 Drank lots of water. Sat in the sauna for 40 minutes. I’ll end my day with rooibos tea shortly. No lack of energy. Clean fuel.

If I wasn’t “detoxing”, I may or may not have added a glass of wine. Makes me think, what are we detoxing from?? Given my history of binging prior to a detox, might it be wise to eat as I do and if I feel the need, perhaps fast for a period of time? Is my motive love, or is it self-deprivation to atone for something I did? Like the binge prior. Hmm….

Winter Solstice Reflections, Gyms, Workout Routine

Today is the winter solstice of 2017. Seems that many of us pause and take some time for deep reflection this time of the year. It’s kind of an annual review. Where am I and how does it align with where I want to be? Are there large changes to be made? Habits I’d like to adopt?

I’ve been licensed as a massage therapist for 4 months. While I still work as a nurse most weeks, the majority of my work time is spent in a lovely room, in a lovely space, with essential oils being diffused, my homemade candle flickering, Wholetones music playing and a client that I’m grateful for on my massage table. My intention was to be booked out for 4 weeks at a time by the end of the year, and that’s exactly what has happened. It has taken a lot of effort, but it’s here. I love it so much. I feel like my work is my hobby, my creative outlet and my gift. I love helping people feel better in their bodies. I love learning more.

I am a personal trainer and health coach, but don’t push that work. This is certainly the time of year people are thinking about their weight and health, myself included. I’ve lost 17 pounds since spring with ease by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet and moving my body throughout the day. Once in a great while I will weigh and measure my foods, counting calories and macronutrients. It’s more to prove a point now, like that I do, in fact, get enough protein without eating animals. And that I do eat a rather large quantity of food. I like it that way. I like that my diet continues to evolve, to be more aligned with the seasons as well as my feelings about animal welfare.

Several people I’ve observed over the years turn to whatever the latest pill or potion is to lose weight, only to gain it back. Not only is the weight back, but the feelings of failure are worn around like a weight every day for many people. I’ve been there! Although I still have my struggles, they’re much fewer and farther between than they used to be. I truly believe the fundamental reason why the pills and shakes fail is that they don’t address the root of the problem. What if you loved yourself enough to nourish your body? What could you love about yourself right now, in this moment? Until you examine why you keep repeating the cycle, it will continue. Also, what are the ingredients in your shakes and bars?? Synthetic vitamins? Isolates? For me personally, I like a large quantity of real food. I like to put away a pound of veggies, or several cups of starch in the form or rice or yams every day. I do not like restriction, and if I think I can just have a little bit when it comes to chocolate or nut butter, I’m lying to myself. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Serves me well in some aspects of life.

Ok so, here’s my current workout plan:
plan

If you’re wondering what the heck Heart Butt and Blast are, check this site: https://ashleyblackguru.com/heartbutt/ – the Fascia Blaster is the only tool I’ve found that addresses my bound up fascia, and I’m able to see/feel a difference with regular use! I’ve struggled for years with IT band and Achilles pain, so this is huge for me. Most days I do my strength training and blasting in the morning, in my bathroom with the space heater on. I play loud music and do the strength exercises with a resistance band in sets of 10 for the duration of a song. Then I blast one area for a song (left upper leg, for example) and repeat for 3 full sets.

For cardio, you will no longer find me on some machine under fluorescent lights watching negativity on a screen. Here’s my cardio gym on Tuesday. Quiet stillness except for me moving my body through space, and the chatter of winter birds. The forest floor blanketed in sparkling white. Crisp, fresh air. Hills are my high-intensity intervals. I’m finding that a gentler pace and more restorative approach is more aligned with this season.

and Thursday, with my enthusiastic 4-legged soul mate:

 

I’m not so into “Resolutions” but in 2018 I’m taking steps to:
 – replace some evening glasses of wine with tea
 – create a morning ritual to involve a little yoga and meditation
 – create space in my schedule to relax, especially in the evenings

Vision

November17Today during a meditation, I had a vision of my future self. It looked like this:

A healer by way of my hands
Barefooted
Running, swiftly and with ease, through an old-growth forest
With icy blue eyes and long, flowing, henna red hair
Strength and grace
In a turquoise top and sleek black leggings
Scented with essential oils
The calm in a storm
Adorned with bright silver jewelry, but not too much
Carrying compassion for all sentient beings
Leaving footsteps of kindness

Almost there. I’m so filled with gratitude for my husband, making it possible for me to discover and live my highest passion. It’s almost surreal to me, feeling so loved and supported…. living in the environment that I do…. with a body that, while I still struggle with tendon issues, is fully capable of providing massages or working as a hospice nurse. Those things give me purpose.