Quick Nutritional Fixes for the Kitchen Weary

When there’s an increase in stressful events, it’s easy to find yourself on the edge of a health neglect catastrophe. When I feel the threat of stress coming on and my energy dwindling, meal planning and grocery shopping fall to the wayside. For a quick nutritional fix with minimal prep, I usually turn to one of these easy options:

  • Can of tuna or hummus or goat cheese with rice crackers
  • Rice cake with almond butter and banana (or avocado)
  • Miso soup (all you need is boiling water, miso paste, green onion, and tofu)
  • Green smoothies (great for breakfast or with a light meal)
  • Baked, whole sweet potato or sweet potato fries
  • Boiled eggs or veggie and goat cheese omelettes
  • Rice cooker recipes (throw brown rice, veggies, and seasoning into the rice cooker and voila!)
  • Veggie pizza with goat cheese on a rice wrap
  • Lots of fruits, veggies, seeds and nuts as sides or snacks (no prep required!)

I’ve been feasting on these fast foods quite a bit lately, slowly inching myself towards my cookbooks and grocery lists. As I leisurely complete that journey, I will leave you with a quote from my yin yoga instructor: “Discomfort allows for growth.” I suppose the challenge of finding and sustaining health is very much like holding an excruciatingly long yin yoga pose – you breathe, you modify, and you don’t give up.

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Measure by Measure

Fatigued from the humidity and heat of recent days, I opted for a non-heated yoga class this past Thursday, hoping to soothe my body and mind with a moderately paced practice.  I sank onto my yoga mat, peering curiously at the towels covering the mats around me.  This isn’t a hot yoga class, I thought, I’m not going to sweat enough to need a towel, right?  Right?? And before I knew it, I was in the midst of the most challenging and fast-paced yoga class I’d ever experienced. Towel envy descended quickly as my arms quivered through 108 primarily arm and core-focused poses in 45 minutes.  At the end of the class, we did three rounds of three different push up variations.  On my last leg of strength, I modified the pose by dropping my knees to the floor and accepting that my upward and downward movements would not travel very far. I exited the studio in a daze, embarrassed of my weak performance.  As soon as I crossed the threshold into the lobby, the instructor caught my eye and waved me over.  He scurried out from behind the reception desk and swept me into a big hug.  Sweaty and confused, I gaped at him as he gently released me.  “I just want to tell you how proud I am of you,” he said looking down at me with a smile, “I kept looking back to you and when others had given up on the sequence, you didn’t. You modified the pose and tried every time even if you could only move an inch.  You are an inspiration.” In truth, I felt like the furthest thing from “an inspiration” in that moment, but I felt the blood rush to my cheeks as I smiled and thanked him.

This morning, the sky outside is a clouded calm, the quiet and lazy beginning  to my August long weekend. I sit here remembering his kind words, as well as a very different morning, a very different beginning not so long ago. Three years ago today, I was admitted to the hospital. I was manic, riddled with inflammation in my brain, my chest lining, and a large majority of my joints. That day, any control I thought I had in my life was lost, my independence, my ability to work, my ability to reason,  even my personality had changed. My life as I knew it was wiped clean.

I guess you could say that since then, I’ve moved forward one inch at a time.  At times, the inches felt like triumphant victories, at other times, pathetic under achievements, but ever so slowly, my life is being re-written. I plan to mark this anniversary by one, a trip to the Farmer’s Market to celebrate the changes I’ve made to my diet, and two, by doing something that scares me and takes advantage of my “newfound” mobility (my first spin class – eek!).  And of course, I will mark this anniversary with gratitude for the people who have helped me get to this day and for the opportunity to continue to move forward, inch by inch, one failed push up at a time.

To my amusement, my Yogi tea bag quote this morning sums it all up quite nicely:

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!