Belated Goodbye to 2014

First of all, I’d like to send a virtual hug and a warm welcome to Face Forward’s new followers! Connecting with you and reading your supportive and inspiring comments brightened my days during a very busy and tiring month. I’ve been aching to post, but I’ve had to prioritize napping over blogging in the small amounts of free time I’ve had. It’s late and I should be in bed, but I needed to touch base to let you know I’m thinking of you and to give you a quick update on some recent(ish) Face Forward news.

It’s weeks after the fact, but I’m still excited to announce that my first article as a monthly contributor for New Life Outlook is now online!  Click here or on the picture below for my take on the importance of support and the healing power of shared experience. How do you create and sustain the right level of support in your life? I’d love to hear your story! My upcoming article touches upon my “lupus elevator speech” post and our personal roles in advocating for lupus awareness. I’ll let you know when the article is posted on the site! Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 1.24.56 AM In other news, I’ve set up a new email address that is connected to Face Forward’s new domain name. If you would prefer to connect privately instead of commenting on the site, you can contact me at My email will always be visible at the bottom of the homepage and within the “About Elena” page link.

And so, my friends, we’re already half way through January and full speed ahead into 2015. As we move into another year in search of balance and health, I’d like to share a comment that a follower posted two weeks ago:

“… I will remember that even when I cannot go very far, I can always face forward.”

This comment really touched me. It is the message I hope all my readers receive when they visit Face Forward. It’s the sentiment and change in perspective that moved me into a completely different (and much healthier) phase of my lupus life. Thank you for your wise words, Paloma. I may have to make them a permanent fixture on the blog!

And with that, I say good night. As always, I am locked in a battle with my night owl self. She stuck around even after prednisone left, and she doesn’t care how busy or tired I am. It’s a problem that begs to be solved, but for now, I’ll take my losses and end tonight’s battle here and now.

The Proof is in the Prednisone


While perusing my blood test records, I made a huge discovery.  One year ago, I was back on prednisone in an attempt to increase my low white blood cell count. After a few weeks, my WBC was up to 2.8, so my rheumatologist insisted that I keep taking a low dose to continue to stabilize.  It was then that I started a gradual plan to wean myself off prednisone with my naturopath, paired with a renewed focus on food as medicine.  A year later (this past June), after 8 months of being off prednisone, my WBC was 2.8, the same as it was when I was taking it a year ago!  This was it, the huge breakthrough I’ve been working towards for past three years, the first real results of all my wellness experimentation!  For the first two years, it was nearly impossible to understand what was happening with my body because of all the different drugs I was taking.  Was Lupus acting up or was it a side effect from one of the drugs? Were the drugs making me feel better or was it because of the lifestyle changes I was making? Now, I finally have some concrete evidence that my body does not need prednisone to keep Lupus at bay.  The proof is in the prednisone, or in this case, the lack there of!

And what better way to celebrate this invigorating discovery than enjoying a yummy Asian noodle bowl inspired by a Thrive recipe, an outdoor run, and a nutrient-packed post-run snack?

Cucumber, collard greens, cilantro, & cashews over brown rice noodles & Asian peanut sauce. Yum!


Post-run snack: Almond butter & avocado on a rice cake… who knew it could taste so good?


Feeling HOT, HOT, HOT

After several years of wanting to try hot yoga, I finally opened myself up to the heat. I started regular yoga around 6 years ago, practicing on and off, mostly sidetracked by periods of illness and a much too busy lifestyle.  The financial aspect of yoga has been difficult, as well. The last two years, I’ve practiced only at studios that I’ve been able to get a deal online or through gift certificates from loved ones.  Since hot yoga is even more expensive than regular yoga, it was low on my list of options.  I was also nervous about the heat, wary about the amounts of sweat, and intimidated by the hot yoga culture that has developed in the last few years.  I felt like I didn’t “fit in.”

A few years ago, a friend sent me an article about a woman living with lupus and her experience with hot yoga.  As soon as she started hot yoga, her symptoms slowly fell away, including the butterfly rash across her cheeks.  Her lupus went into remission and she continued her practice, eventually becoming an instructor and opening her own studio.  I remember being inspired by the article, but not being in the physical or emotional place to take any action.  I did, however, tuck that article away in my mind.  I knew it was something I had to try.

My work family got me a two-week hot yoga pass for my birthday, which I plan to use during my recovery after my 10K race next week.  Last night, I was on the website learning more about the studio and trying to psych myself up for my first class.  Amidst my browsing, I also stumbled upon a notice that another hot yoga studio was holding a free class and that there was an online deal for 80% off a 2-month unlimited pass.  I took that as a sign that I should go and try it out.  I was sweaty.  I was shaky.  I was slippery.  And I liked it!  I felt slightly dizzy only at one point, but otherwise, I felt great.  The heat really helped to relax the tightness in my body, leftover from years of pain and tension.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no yogi, so it was challenging, but it felt doable. It felt possible and that’s all I’m looking for.  Possibilities.

I bought the online deal and that, along with my other pass, means that I am officially embarking on a sweaty, hot yoga adventure. Other than my first hot yoga class, there have been other exciting events since my last post:

  • My 2nd year of adult jazz classes ended with some Bollywood-inspired hip shaking at our recital last week!
  • I turned 31!
  • My 2nd blood tests came back and my white blood cell count went from 1.5 to 2.8!!  So much gratitude for all the love and healing vibes I’ve received over the last few weeks.  I don’t know what happened, but I am so thankful that my body has been given more time to heal and function without the use of prednisone.

So, things are looking bright despite the rain outside.  And oh, did I mention I’m playing on a dodgeball team?  An update post coming soon!

Cooking for the Wolf: Black Bean & Butternut Squash Burrito

First, an apology for not blogging regularly the past few months.  As soon as New Year’s 2012 hit, I allowed myself to be sucked into a vortex of never-ending commitments.  As a result, I’m left with little energy and not surprisingly, with less white blood cells.  Since my test results, I’ve already taken action to lessen my load.  Learning the lesson that “feeling good” doesn’t necessarily mean “do way more” is one that I’ve had to re-learn over and over again.  All my life, I’ve been the kind of person who wants to know and experience everything.  There is a deep urgency to that now, one that I struggle to keep in check.  The pain-free hour glass is on it’s last grain of sand… or, at least, I feel it’s best if I tell myself that.  It’s a fine balance knowing your limitations, yet leaving room for new challenges and adventures.  All I know is that whatever I’m faced with, whether it be illness or otherwise, I refuse to expect less out of life.

That being said, I’ve done my moping around about the prospect of the return of Evil P and have chosen instead, to celebrate the fact that I’ve been P-free for 7 months!  It’s the longest time I’ve been off it in the almost 3 years.  Yay!  I also decided that my time would be better used focusing on the “pharmacy” I have complete control over:  The kitchen!

Here’s a Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos Recipe from one of my favourite vegan food blogs, “Oh, She Glows.” I decided to do a lettuce wrap version, but the filling is actually great all on it’s own.  Super easy (well, I found chopping the squash hard, but I’m a weakling) and makes a really delicious, healing meal to take to work for lunch!

Not a very good picture, but you get the idea!