Zigzag: Random thoughts about exercise, food and friends

Yesterday before the teenager and I took our impromptu trip to Hershey to visit with Curly, I had the good fortune to have a coffee date with a neighbor who has proven herself time and time again as a reliable friend.

We met while pregnant, due dates a week apart, homes a few blocks apart, and with jobs in the same town in the next state. Even though we lived less than a block apart for most of the teenager’s life (and the fact that her son and my daughter have first names that are one letter apart and family names that are very similar and fall alphabetically beside each other), she and I have not kept in touch the greatest— but somehow— when I need her, she seems to be there.

She even worked for me for about six months when I needed a staff member that could act without much hand-holding and understood my working style. The partnership renewed our connection— and the employer recently asked her to return to the organization and she politely declined.

We had the chance to discuss these things over “coffee” at the diner where the teen used to waitress. But the day was rainy and we both wanted soup instead of coffee, so we had our mom therapy session over bowls of pepper pot.

We talked about the teenagers’ post-high school plans, the value and frustration of college, our health, medical insurance in America, and how hard it must be to be a teen in today’s world.

I mention this as a reminder of how sometimes, sharing a moment can bring laughter and release.

Our latest Hungryroot box came, and I realized for the first times in all these months of Hungryroot that the reusable nitrogen ice packs are plant food. Now I can’t wait to pour that on our compost heap.

Speaking of food subscription services, my breakfast today was Cabot cottage cheese from Grocery Outlet and a sprouted multigrain everything bagel and garlic herb probiotic cream cheese from Hungryroot.

My lunch was leftover cauliflower linguine and one meatball from Hungryroot, basil tomato sauce from ShopRite and a pile of plain lentils I made.

Turns out lentils are a great way to add plant protein to spaghetti.

And finally, my session at Apex Training today was not easy— but I did it. We did a lot of sweat-inducing balance exercises. I have been having issues with stiffness since I left work and my walk has been unstable. This morning my right leg felt off. So I told Andrew and together we thought it might be super tight. Well, by the time I left, my right leg and back were screaming.

But after a shower and an NSAID to make sure nothing is inflamed, at least I don’t feel like a pile of grinding gears needing oil.

Rainy Mondays

This morning, I slept in until 6:30 a.m. and that felt like a luxury. My hip is starting to bother me less. I even managed to give the last foster cat her dewormer. Before coffee!!

I had a cup of my dark roast Supercoffee and a bowl of Cabot cottage cheese. I needed a shower, so I bathed. And then I called to see if I could move my chiropractor appointment up earlier in the week.

My plan is to confer with her about how best to strengthen my core and work with my hip. That will be Wednesday at 9:15 a.m.

Two hours had passed since my cottage cheese. I prepared my main breakfast— a vegan feast of quinoa, lentils, ancient grains, kale, pumpkin seeds, Hungryroot fresh salsa and my homemade roasted red pepper hummus as dressing. And the first batch of the days vitamins.

For dessert I had three slices of dragon fruit “chips,” which appear to be a great source of potassium and even have iron and protein. And a big glass of water.

I used my mid-morning to work on the Parisian Phoenix Publishing May newsletter.

It talks about upcoming events that will blend literature and fine arts.

I puttered about the kitchen and felt my injured hand becoming frightfully cold— so I started a second cup of Supercoffee at noon (which is way too much caffeine but it’s the only way I can keep my blood flowing without a workout and I don’t want to workout without supervision because of my recent falls and my mallet finger).

The teenager’s Keurig kept having some sort of stroke and just refused to make coffee. It acted as if it didn’t have water in it, so I unplugged it, added more water, took my fancy coffee pod out and ran the water through. Then I tried again. It took about three tries to get my coffee.

I gave myself two sesame mochi as a snack and curled up with the dog.

And after we got settled, the doctor’s office called to discuss paperwork for my employer and the disability company.

I’m watching some TV now and brainstorming ideas to make tomorrow a “writing day.” I just hope it finally starts to get warm.

Soothing my wounds with healthy food

After my doctor appointment yesterday, Nan and I went to Grocery Outlet. Advocating for yourself, even in a safe, familiar environment drains a person emotionally.

My work in the kitchen not only provides the nutrients for my recovery from my mallet finger, but also helps me continue my fitness journey with Apex Fitness.

Maybe I’ll finally commit to losing weight.

Last night for dinner I had leftover pancakes, almond butter and apple slices with a can of blueberry elderflower sparkling water.

And this morning, Louise insisted I get up at 4:15 a.m. And it’s only Saturday not even a work day.

I cuddled her for a while, tried to go back to sleep, and finally just got up at 5:45ish.

Someone adopt this love so I can sleep instead of cuddle the cat all night

I came downstairs, had my coffee and started cooking my treasures. I sautéed kale (reduced for quick sale) in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt pepper and lemon juice. I made shredded potatoes in the frying pan with peppers. I prepared quinoa and midnight grains.

I fried an egg and mixed some of everything together with some apple, some of my homemade roasted red pepper hummus and pumpkin seeds.

Truly delectable.

And then right before the gym I had two medjool dates.

And I also prepped some plain lentils just to have on hand. I’m taking Nan some of the different ingredients.

Now for lunch I toasted some Ozery multigrain thin and made no-nitrate smoked turkey sandwiches (the free protein of the week from Hungryroot) topped with Brie, roasted red pepper, spinach, butter lettuce (reduced as well) and chipotle mayonnaise also from Hungryroot.

And I fell again today. At the gym today. Andrew my trainer seems to be concerned that I won’t make as much progress with upper body during my injury (but I did bench press today, but I inadvertently favored the right pretty heavily). But I’m okay with that — a body has to stay active and exercise, alcohol and excessive caffeine are the only way I can get my left hand warm. Well, unless I curl into bed under a heat blanket.

That’s two falls this week that lead to not serious but definitely painful bruises and scrapes.

Cute animal photos and mallet finger impact

It’s the end of April and it was 35 degrees last night. The price of oil continues to skyrocket and I’m still heating my house halfway through spring.

The cold does not help the poor circulation in my hands which has intensified in my left hand because my mallet finger restricts my movement.

My hands are painfully cold, except when Andrew is making me curse him in my head at Apex Training. Today was leg day, and I was so tired that when I came home and let the dog out I turned around and lost my balance and slammed right into the brick wall between my mud room and my kitchen.

Nala, my six-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo, started shaking and plucking her feathers today. Nothing in her environment has changed except the neighbor’s dog has been barking nonstop all day. The teenager believes his distress causes her anxiety.

Speaking of the teenager, she made this thick chocolate chip cookie/blondie dessert that I topped with ice cream that Sobaka’s mom brought home from Penn State when we dog sat last weekend.

Before the teenager brought home our dog, I would never criticize a dog owner, but now that I see the difference between different dog care styles, I feel back for dogs that aren’t spoiled like Sobaka and Bean.

And I don’t know how Sobaka’s mom does it— that dog is a bed hog.

But now an update on my mallet finger:

  • Stitch Fix has been amazing. Because my specialist at OAA took a week to return my paperwork and then didn’t properly fill it out, the onus was on me to find jobs I could do to not hurt myself. It turned out I can QC just fine— I hit 92% just fine.
  • But here’s the thing… my specialist knows hands, he doesn’t know me. I don’t think he heard me when I said I have cerebral palsy and that I work 10 hours a day in a warehouse. I’m just not sure that environment is safe for me right now,
  • Why do I say this? Because this week drove home to me how much I rely on my left side for stability. By forcing me to work 90% on the right, I am struggling to keep my right hip in place.
  • I am so stiff by the end of the work day. I also end up pinching and slamming my right fingertips and by the end of the day my left fingers I can use are swollen and sore.
  • And I fold 750 clothing items a day, handle 150 boxes and rip open probably 500 plastic bags. That’s a lot of fingers moving.
  • Once I consider the risk of accidentally losing my cast and bending my finger (which would extend my healing time) and adding the increased fall risk of mine because I am aggravating known issues with my balance and mobility, I just don’t feel safe.
  • This is a horribly stressful feeling.
  • I’m going to talk with my family doctor about it. I already mentioned it to my therapist, because I wanted to confirm my thoughts were rational and not whiny or emotional.

Today’s vegan lunch: curry carrots, lentils, quinoa, my own roasted chick peas, toasted sesame seeds, green olives and a touch of Thai peanut sauce topped with pumpkin seeds

And last but not least, cats. Misty caught a mouse! Video here.

Saturday morning— gym, meal plan & prep

The teenager and I headed to the gym this morning for the first time in a while. I did a gentle lower body workout to stretch everything and get my body rolling after the chiropractic adjusted just about everything yesterday. Even my ears.

The teenager wanted to find her max weights for powerlifting— which seem to be 100 pounds on bench and at least 155 on squats.

Tomorrow I head back to work after a weekend of falls and rest.

So that means meal planning and meal prep.

Our Hungryroot box came yesterday and since the app showed they didn’t have much product, I focused our box on mostly proteins.

With leftovers from last week’s box, the new box and pantry items I had in the house, I made this:

  • Chickpea rotini and beef meatballs with marinara and superfood tomato sauce.
  • Lemon pesto broccoli
  • Homemade pesto hummus
  • Omelet (with green olives)
  • Tempeh bacon
  • Brown bread

We also have leftover pizza and pancakes.

So for breakfast after the gym, the teenager had omelet with mozzarella and tempeh bacon on organic, sprouted everything bagels. I went vegan and had my bagel with my hummus and tempeh bacon.

And last night, the teenager and I went to my stepmom’s for Christmas and I got my hand bag. I have been admiring this Urban Expressions work tote since I started at Stitch Fix. I have one now.

The Kit and Kaboodle Update

So, as a former journalist, I could easily write a summary of every day like a nice newspaper column and post it. I could probably even manage to maintain my sense of humor, style, and tendency to find joy in the ridiculously ordinary.

But this week, every word I wrote felt repetitious. Or perhaps every word I wanted to write felt like it had been done before.

And maybe it has. Because so much of life goes that way. The same struggles, the same events, and often the same answers. And we repeat the cycle over and over probably for two reasons.

  1. It’s hard to break a habit.
  2. And growth, the kind of change that comes from embracing a lesson, presents its own difficulties.

In today’s blog, I’m going to do a generic update, and I’m honestly not sure if any of this is repeating myself. But do you know what? Repeating myself is okay. This is a small droplet in the vast waters of the internet and there’s always the possibility someone hasn’t heard it before and may need to hear it today.

Are you listening?

Fosters: Touch of Grey, Mars and Minerva. Information on how to adopt them at http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

All eyes on me.

Topics to come in this entry: Update on my cerebral palsy and quest to end my chronic back pain, weight training with the teenager with Dan at Apex, emotional eating, review of Purple Carrot’s vegan Thanksgiving dinner box, and the requisite animal photos.

This week’s personal training at Apex:

I know I frequently mention how amazing the trainers at Apex are. One of their strengths (weight training pun there) is to recognize the needs of each client and to match the client with the right trainer. I’m obviously not in the whiny white women who primarily want to lose weight category, and that’s how I ended up with Dan. As Dan has the unofficial knowledge of a physical therapist (because he’s had enough accidents to know the patient side of it) and he has the curiosity to read, research and think. With my cerebral palsy this is important. Dan has the observational skill to read my knees and lower body to know if it’s a bodyweight/calisthenics kind of day or a weight training day. And this is important so you can build range of motion and flexibility and not get hurt.

Anyway, Dan has been kind enough to let the teenager join my training sessions. I love throwing weights around but lack the personal discipline to do it on my own this time around. And the teenager has a natural muscle tone and build that makes her perfect for powerlifting. But she hates dumbbells and she hates routine and discipline. So as long as we tell her to go throw around that heavy object she’s fine.

And today she deadlifted 135 lbs as if it weren’t even a challenge. I honestly think she could have done 150 lbs easily.

I think I kept up with her through 115. I only did three at 115 because I was really afraid I would blow out my knees. A deadlift when executed correctly utilizes the lower body, and the weight actually (once I get warmed up) helps me lower my butt in the squatting portion, but since my knees tend to point sharply inward, I have to adjust my stance to compensate. While the main gist of the lift is to pull the weight along the shin and lift into the hips and use the legs to support the weight as the hips straighten and thrust outward with the tightening of the glutes, in my case, I have to force my knees to stay in the proper position facing my toes and not each other.

As I start to lift heavier, the dull ache in my spine is a reminder to lift the weight with my legs and not my back. I place my feet in position, point my toes slightly out and stretch my knees in line with them. And, for lack of a better description, I lock them in place and while lifting the barbell I have to concentrate on keeping my knees from turning inward. Because if they would suddenly snap where they want to be, I could not only blow out a knee but also potentially lose balance.

So I did three.

In related news, physical therapy update:

Yesterday I finally had my physical therapy appointment with the proper physical therapist now that neurology has confirmed that my balance and brain are fine. Much to my pleasant surprise, I had the same physical therapist that treated my initial bouts with back pain three years ago. He was at a different physical therapy office, then, and came recommended by my doctor as the guy who really knew back issues. What makes this a funny but pleasant coincidence is the fact that I chose this physical therapy branch because my blind friend Nancy is going there and I thought we could combine appointments and I could help her with rides.

What did my physical therapist Jeff say? Basically, that I need to do yoga. He has me doing “press-ups” 5 times a day for 10 reps. At least to start this week. Last time I had physical therapy with him, he started me super light and then made the exercises ten times harder when I returned in a week. “Press-ups” are cobra pose in yoga. I used to do yoga daily. It always seems like physical therapists are always telling me to do more of what I already or what I used to do.

Random photo of Nala the Goffin with foster cat Touch of Grey

Confession time, emotional eating:

My weight is 160lbs. This upsets me greatly. When I had gestational diabetes at six months pregnant I was 169. I was 142 on the day I brought the teenager home from the hospital and 142 for most of her toddler years. When I finally decided I needed to get my weight under control and regain strength after breaking my right hand while working at Target, I lost 30 lbs in 6 weeks. I lost too much weight too quickly and then gained weight while strength training and got ripped. Over the years, I found a set point at 135, where I could maintain muscle but be more relaxed about eating.

But then, my marriage ended. My boss at the job that allowed me to separate from my husband and support myself turned out to be a sociopath. I mean that in the kindest way possible. She was very sweet, and driven, and perfection-oriented but she had no empathy, no flexibility and no patience for any way other than hers. No views allowed other than her beliefs. This led to high blood pressure and I honestly had no energy left to take care of myself. When she fired me, it took six months for unemployment benefits to determine she was in the wrong. The pandemic was underway by then (Summer 2019). I lived on my savings, a total of $4,500, and foodstamps that kicked in three months after I lost my job.

And this was also when I ended up in the hospital for an infected cat bite and took in a second teenager who lived with us for nine months without her parents contributing to her care.

I mention this only because it is why I lost my discipline. Why I stopped caring for myself like I used to. It was easy and fun to go to McDonalds for a $1 Diet Coke and a $1 McChicken. Cheap dinner.

I thought I would turn this around when I started “picking” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I walked 17,000 steps a night in the warehouse, grabbing clothes. But then I caught Covid-19. And my stamina never bounced back. So now I fold clothes. Which killed my back.

Even though I had a delightful Thanksgiving, with vegan recipes I prepared from Purple Carrot and leftover pie and wine from my in-law’s meal, I “ruined” it by drinking a big glass of wine yesterday with about 1200 calories of Trolli gummy worms. And then I tell myself, “Well, at least they had protein, iron and calcium.”

And finally, the Purple Carrot Box:

I’ve only made about half the box. The rest is still in the fridge.

I made the Purple Carrot “sausage” stuffing, vegan thyme gravy and cranberry sauce. The thyme gravy was better than I expected as I am not a gravy person. I added local granny smith apples and herbs de provence to the stuffing. The stuffing began life as caibatta rolls, root vegetables, and Fieldstone vegetarian sausage. Let me say again, if you haven’t heard it before, that the Fieldstone vegetarian sausages are amazing. The fact that they come wrapped tight in plastic “skin” casings annoys me, but they are very tasty.

Silly items from the Grocery Outlet

This weekend I’ve been working on a very small batch of local apple butter— you know local Galas with local Granny Smiths and some local honey.

I actually canned it after coffee and before the gym, after going to the Grocery Outlet yesterday for my favorite cottage cheese to compliment my apple butter.

Except Grocery Outlet no longer seems to carry my favorite Cabot cottage cheese.

What I did find is some exotic coffee creamers, some delicious Black Forest gummy bears and Terra Vegetable Chips in salt & vinegar.

The Honest to Goodness Madagascar Vanilla Bean Creamer has a lovely flavor and almost lightens the coffee to the level I prefer.

As for the Mooala keto plant based banana nut creamer has a unique muffin reminiscent flavor and at 10 calories a serving is incredible. But doesn’t lighten the coffee at all.

Food box blunders, ear infections and a good workout

I’m feeling exceedingly optimistic today.

I “fixed” my roomba, had a therapy session that left me sobbing in my psychologist’s office, had an incredible workout (full body as I will be traveling this weekend, but we did a lot of work on hip mobility), and cooked.

The business cards for Parisian Phoenix came in. Thanks to my trusty business partner Gayle.

Perhaps the chaos of earlier this week is finally settling down.

Seen in downtown Easton

So, last Saturday I got my regular Hungryroot order. And Tuesday was Purple Carrot. I wasn’t going to get a box from them this week but they had West African Peanut Stew on the menu.

And then I got a text that Green Chef was on the way.

I promptly canceled Green Chef so there would be no more surprises as they were my least favorite. But that box was on the way.

It arrived yesterday after I left for work. I received this message today.

I certainly hope there is no more food coming.

Because the teenager came down with an ear infection and has so much phlegm in her throat that she can’t swallow. But don’t worry she took some antibiotics and some DayQuil so she could enjoy a Hungryroot burger.

I prepared a bag of greens and a Green Chef meal for Gayle as I am supposed to go to DC this weekend and I can’t physically prepare it all. And M, my host, said I can’t bring it. The result— I now can say I pay my art director in groceries.

Purple Carrot has a $75 Thanksgiving box available. I ordered one.

And today I cooked:

  • Green Chef Mojito Cauliflower
  • Purple Carrot Buffalo-style tempeh and roasted sweet potatoes and garlic
  • Brussel Sprouts

But much to my chagrin— Purple Carrot swapped out the peanut stew for a grilled tofu meal.

Addendum:

From Gayle, after making her Green Chef meal.

I came home and just put everything in the fridge. Brown bag and all.

Pat looked at the recipe when she headed to the bathroom. She made vomiting noises. Not surprising.

I thought I remembered it saying 30 minutes. About 4:30, I started working on it. I didn’t look at the recipe earlier and didn’t realize it had two sides. I was overwhelmed when I saw all the instructions on the other side. I quickly realized that they were dummy proof and that made them longer.

I got the farro on and started the oven, then cut the squash and picked the tarragon. That was the most tedious part of the whole thing. That all went in the oven and I opened the chard. It was nasty. One leaf was probably okay. Glad you gave me other chard. I’m not a fan of raw chard so I wilted it. The nasty stuff went to the compost pile.

The rest of the prep was easy. By the time the farro and squash were done, the rest was too.

I made two portions. One for another day and one for supper. I did not put the apple on the leftover portion because it was already browning.

I was left with two large piles. One was compost and the other was plastic bags. So many bags. One said to pull off the label and recycle it. The rest had no numbers, no nothing so they went in the trash.

It was nice having all the ingredients and a recipe. It was fantastic having something different to eat.

Unboxing: An Impulse Hungryroot order and a fulfilling Indian meal

A couple weeks ago, it was the middle of the night after a long shift. I had poured a cocktail and was perusing the menu and grocery options at Hungryroot as I like to treat myself to one Hungryroot box and one Purple Carrot box each month.

When the charge for my regular shipment popped up in my American Express notifications— I noticed it was more than double what I normally spend.

I opened my account to see what I bought— and I couldn’t find a single criticism of the items I selected.

The meals included:

  • Braised tofu, dall and sautéed vegetables
  • Spinach artichoke burgers on cauliflower buns
  • Salmon avocado toast
  • Egg and cheese (organic sprouted) bagel sandwiches

And the extra groceries: guacamole, samosas, meatballs, Alfredo dip and golden kiwis. The free protein was pork carnitas which the teenager really liked last time.

Unboxing video here.

I made the Indian-style meal with the samosas and seasoned the vegetables with garlic and can Indian spice blend though I’m not sure which one. I also added spinach.

It was very delightful on this crisp autumn night.

Health Update: There was a Crooked Hip

I still haven’t heard from either my gynecologist or my primary care physician— and the mental and physical struggle has been rough. It’s ironic, since my daughter thought she say worms in the dog’s poop and within 24 hours she had lab results and preventative medication.

Luckily, I’ve been able to engage my chiropractor (the beyond amazing Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Wellness Center in Easton, Pa.’s College Hill neighborhood) in this journey to discover and maximize the potential of my disabled body.

(Which I am told today is World Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, not that I ever even heard of it or noticed anybody celebrating.)

I told her this past week has been hard and strange with familiar pain and symptoms coming at the wrong time of the month and new symptoms happening now.

But I also admitted that some of these symptoms— like my swollen legs last night— could be explained by my behavior. Cheeto binge this weekend, for example.

Last night, I performed at only 83% when I had folded those clothes at 100% or higher all week despite pain. My knees had intense intermittent pain and my legs felt completely wooden, like they didn’t even have joints.

The chiropractor laughed at my ownership of my Cheeto binge and said that, yes, that might have something to do with it.

And she commented during my adjustment that my body and I are managing life and my symptoms much better in general.

But here is the “good news”—

My hip was crooked. The right side of my hip was significantly higher than my left and probably had been since the pain started last week. I attributed it to the same old pain but it was probably new and unique pain.

So then the chiropractor mentioned what I have been trying to articulate.

I used to have periodic bouts with high levels of pain when joints would seize and shift and muscles would spasm.

Now, with my exercise regimen and some of my other behavior change, I am experiencing lower levels of pain more frequently, but that pain is emotionally disturbing because I am aware of and used to the conditions that send my body into a flare and am doing everything I can to prevent those situations.

So it’s a perpetual game of anticipating what might be next. And how bad it will be or get before I find relief.

I told her I have had much success with CBD cream and she recommended trying a daily dose of the oils to see if that could help from the inside out.

I’m enthusiastically giving it a shot as over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen don’t help.

And the “not knowing” because of slow response time from my medical team is crippling to my mental health.

Pun intended.

I actually emailed my therapist yesterday and it must have been a good email because I got a response asking if he could call me for a check in, which I said yes to, and he called to do a wellness check to make sure I was safe.

Odd how that can make a person feel “loved.”

Now my hip is back in place, I took my vitamins and my CBD oil and prepared my final Purple Carrot meal from my box. This one— apricot sticky rice— even the teenager loved.