Winter Blues Got You Down?

Americans every day have their routine down perfectly. When summer is here, we take our vacations, visit the beach or travel somewhere exotic. We make sure we slather on that sun block to protect us from harmful rays. At the end of the vacation, we go back into our routine of getting up early when the sun is no longer there to greet us. We work our eight hour shifts, often inside, and too often see the sun setting for the day when we leave, forcing us to drive home in the dark.

What are we missing in winter? Our healthy dose of vitamin D!

Sun and train photo

Continue reading “Winter Blues Got You Down?”

Taco Salad – Quick and Easy (Corn and Gluten Free)

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Mexican food. This is a problem when you have a corn allergy like I do. So creating fun Mexican dishes is one of my favorite things. Most taco salads are served in corn shells with corn on top. I got the idea to change up the veggies a bit when I went to an Authentic Mexican restaurant and in their veggie burrito they had things like zucchini and squash. Why not mix up the veggies a bit? It is also easy to pack for lunch! Just leave the salsa separate until you are ready to eat it.

Taco Salad Making

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5 Ways to STAY Committed to Your Fitness Goals

Raise your hand if you’ve said to yourself, “I’m going to exercise, eat better, lose weight and be healthy.” I would wager that the vast majority of you reading this right now would raise your hand.

“You have to be healthy, slim, beautiful, fast, swift, chiseled, ripped or toned to be beautiful and happy” is the uncontested message global (that’s right, not just American) media propagates to the world. “If you’re not just like this model, you have a lot of work to do.” Who’s been there? I have.

Marathons are all smiles when you're no longer running them.
Marathons are all smiles when you’re no longer running them.

I would bet even MORE money that those of you who initially raised your hand would also raise our hand if I asked, “Who among you has QUIT a fitness/health program?” It’s sad, but true. Statistics show that more than half the people who begin a fitness program will quit within the first three months. There are many reasons why they quit. They:

  • Don’t see results
  • Go too hard, too fast and burn out
  • Set unrealistic goals or expectations
  • Restrict too heavily and become ill
  • Aren’t interested in/excited by what they’re doing
  • Don’t celebrate small wins

Continue reading “5 Ways to STAY Committed to Your Fitness Goals”

My 5 Running Rules for Half Marathon Training

I am a rules person. Rules make sense to me. I have a fond appreciation for order and organization. I think these reasons are why I enjoy math.

Math has a ton of rules and it has answers that are concrete. For me, it just makes things easier. When I started training for this half marathon, I decided to come up with some “rules” for myself – to make things easier.

Some may seem silly, but they motivate me and help keep me on target. I am two and a half months into training and so far, it seems that the rules are working!

So what are these rules? They are simple and short, but helpful. They are as follows:

My 5 Running Rules for Half Marathon Training

Running #selfie: let's do this!
Running #selfie: let’s do this!

Continue reading “My 5 Running Rules for Half Marathon Training”

A Salute to Ebola Care Nurses

I’m presently watching the 60 Minutes special on Ebola, listening to nurses who took care of Thomas Duncan and hearing about their experiences caring for the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States. It’s hitting really close to home.

nursing, family, Ebola, patient care

As a nurse, I have had many friends ask me, “would you take care of the patient if they were in your hospital?” Currently I don’t work in a hospital and am an oncology nurse (always have been), which means that even in the hospital I would have never be faced with this decision. I will (in a hospital environment) work on a floor with immunocompromised patients. Here is the thing, though: I would without hesitation take care of that patient. I am a nurse; caring for patients – for people – is what I do. Continue reading “A Salute to Ebola Care Nurses”

Week 9: Volcanic Eruption

Today, I forgot to weigh myself. So that will be tomorrow’s task I am afraid. I woke up later than I wanted to this morning. I am out of coffee that isn’t Maxwell House or Folders. Lately, when I have been making coffee using the low quality quick fix, I just haven’t been drinking it. It is wasteful.

Week9weighinNOT
Dum…de…dum…de…dum-dum

Tomorrow I will weigh myself first thing. I will see where I am at then. How do I feel at this very moment? Tired. Exhausted mentally speaking. Emotionally, I am wiped clean. My mind is a total blurry abyss where only momentary thoughts bounce wall to wall as though one was playing Atari. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce-Bounce. Continue reading “Week 9: Volcanic Eruption”

Week 8: Discipline Yourself, My Child

This week I indulged in pasta.  I stayed a few days with my grandmother and we always have a good time.  It started with a little wine on Saturday, then progressed to a little homemade mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup on Sunday, followed up by a very delicious dinner made by Casa –a local favorite.

Week8Homemade
Half of a plate; portion control practice

Last night before weigh-in, I tried another wonderful Italian dish from Oley’s Pizza.  It was a Chicago style deep dish pizza.  It was not as good as Giordano’s, but it was the better option here in town.

In my mind…I just kept thinking as if on repeat…discipline yourself, my child.

Here are some things I have observed this week:

1.  Eating out can be lethal if you don’t exercise portion control and proper logic.  Hold the extra sauce.  Hold the extra cheese.    With each and every one of those meals aforementioned, I was utilizing portion control with every single sitting.

2. Exercising makes a huge difference.  I can tell when I need to just go on a walk or when I need to burn off some added energy.  This week I made a valid effort to walk, even though my decent workouts cease to exist.

3. Cleaning, lifting objects, and walking away from the desk are wonderful ways to keep your strength muscle wise.  It wasn’t ideal workouts, but it was better than plopping at my desk sedimentary all day long.

4. Never under-estimate your will power.  I am a lover of food.  I love cooking, eating, creating…food is wonderful.  It took everything in my body to cut my portions and restrain from over-eating.  I know this part is a problem and although this week was far from perfect, I was proud of myself for the effort I was able to put forth despite its wonky nature.  Yes, I said wonky.  And yes that is a technical word…

5. Blessings come in all forms, keep your eyes open and the opportunities will present themselves.  I stepped out of the salon and despite my situation still was presented with a class and a day long event.  Perfect timing.  I went on an impromptu walk with my sister.  It was lovely.  I spent some much-needed quiet time with my grandmother.  Our talks were precious.

Check out my surprising results for week 8!  This week fed my body and soul.  I am so grateful as this week I found peace among this challenge which has not been easy.

week8
Week 8: height 4’8″; weight 100.0 lbs.

Imperfectly Perfect

My body is far from perfect. I have a very smooshy belly that is full of stretch marks. My arms jiggle when I wave. My thighs are very well acquainted with each other and I do not anticipate ever having a thigh gap. Even my calves and ankles are chubby.

But my smooshy belly has seen a dramatic reduction after losing 100lbs. A challenge I never thought I would accomplish, but I did.

My stretch marks are permanent reminders of the 3 babies my body grew and housed. 27 months of growing and stretching and 3 surgeries to have 3 babies ripped from my body. The incision scar will always remind me of the strength it took to recover each time.

My arms that jiggle are strong. They carry babies, wave to friends, give hugs, cook and clean.

My thighs, calves and ankles enable me to stand, walk and even run. They are moving me toward my goals.

I spent a long time hating my body. A long time thinking I wasn’t good enough because my body isn’t “perfect”. I don’t ever want my kids to feel this way. I don’t want them to bear the emotional baggage that comes with hating their body and feeling they need to look different.

My body may not be perfect I the view of the media, but God had blessed me with the perfect body for what He has in store for me. My body is imperfectly perfect.

This imperfect body even carried me through my first 5k Mud Run this past weekend, with some awesome ladies. And just yesterday shaved 20 seconds off my fastest mile pace. So this hard work is paying off!

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Today I Closed a Door

It was my last day at the job I’ve been at for the last year and a half today. It was a tough decision to leave, but I am so incredibly at peace about the decision it is kind of scary. But I’m sitting here tonight reflecting on all this job brought me. It brought me so much that I have to be thankful for, my heart is overwhelmed. I leave knowing I am leaving incredible coworkers behind, but that I will get to continue to have them as friends. I leave reflecting on all the patients who’s care I have been a part of. Some are in remission, some are still fighting a courageous battle, and some have moved on from this world. I leave this job a much better person because of all the people I came in contact during it.

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Change is never easy. Even good change is still hard.

I will be getting over an hour back of my day between commuting and a shorter shift. I will be able to learn more about many cancers that I don’t yet know about and chemos that I’m not familiar with. Overall it is a step to continue to advance in my career. It is a GOOD step. But with every new door there is an old door closing. There are the things I am looking at saying “I will never do that again”. This is how I process. This is how I work through things and move on. This is how I close doors.

I have the absolute joy and privilege of being a chemo nurse. This job provided that open door to me. This job set the foundation for me to step into the world I now call my career. It isn’t an easy one. And on some days let me tell you that it just plain sucks. 100%. There are days that I as a person with very little of a temper am so incredibly pissed off at cancer. There are days that I step out my front door and sprint as long as I can because I don’t understand it. I don’t get how so many amazing people are taken so young by such an awful disease.

But amid the trials, pain, and grief I get the privilege of seeing the beauty. Of seeing the love. And I am so beyond excited to step into the next step of my career. This new job will allow me to be happier, healthier, and more whole myself. And as a nurse that is one of the biggest gifts I can give my patients.

So even though the decision to switch jobs was hard. Even though in the middle of this transition I’m freaking out the majority of the time. I know it’s right.  So I’m taking this step for my health. For my sanity. Thankful for my experience, but ready to continue the job I love in a healthier environment. And reminding myself that even some of the best changes I will make in my life are still going to be hard. Change. It is one of the most beautiful and yet difficult aspects of life.

Raising Awareness Month: Pediatric Cancer Awareness

I love what the ice bucket challenge did. I love that it brought so much awareness to a disease that has brought so much heartache to so many people. I did the challenge, but here is my challenge to all of you. Choose a disease or disorder every month to learn more about and even potentially donate to for the next year. If we all chose to do this, I think we would be a lot more aware and hopefully financially we as a whole could propel medicine and research along faster.

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We live in a world that is full of brokenness, hurt, and trials. 1 in 285 children before the age of 20 will be diagnosed with cancer (1). While less children than adults are diagnosed with cancer on average a child loses 71 years of life compared to an adult who loses 17 years of life (1). Worldwide on average each day 720 children are diagnosed with cancer and 250 die from cancer EACH day (2). In the U.S. childhood cancers is the leading cause of death by disease in those under the age of 15.. the LEADING cause (2). The average age of death for those kids who do die of cancer is EIGHT years old (3). And for those 80% that do survive, 2/3 of them will have chronic conditions related to treatment as a result (2). Chemo sucks. I know I give it 5 days a week and I help patients manage through symptoms 5 days a week.

So friends, let us ban together to help fund research. To help fund support for these children going through treatment. To help find better treatments that cause less side effects and work even better. Let’s work together to find treatment so less kids are doing early. Let’s fight for these kids and their parents. Let’s be aware of what far too many little ones and their families are dealing with on a daily basis. Because it isn’t just about survival statistics, but it is about quality of life and longevity after the 5 year survival mark. Together we can make a difference. Together we can help take back some of those years being lost by a war against cancer

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Resources:

1. http://curechildhoodcancer.ning.com/page/facts-1

2. http://www.alexslemonade.org/childhood-cancer-facts

3. http://www.kidsvcancer.org/facts/

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