Sunday, October 19, 2014

Make the hard but healthy choice

I'm supposed to be running a 10k right now.  I should be out on Roosevelt Island with Alec and Jen, running 6.2 miles for the New York City 10k.  I should be feeling simultaneously fatigued and energized, on the brink of glory, as I was one month ago at my first 10k.

Instead, I'm lying in bed, drinking tea, considering what type of soup I want, and coughing up a storm.


I've been sick since precisely September 24, when I first felt the itch in my throat.  Over the following weeks, my upper respiratory infection got worse, and then better, and worse again.  Even after I felt well again, my cough persisted, and I was continuously short of breath.  As a result, I did not continue training for my next 10k, and I didn't hit the gym at all.  Walking wore me out, and talking exhausted me. After too long, I finally admitted that this was more than a cold and went to the doctor.  He first tried to knock it out of me with some strong meds (which worked for only the one day after taking it), and then started me on antibiotics. I'm currently on day four of seven.

As today's 10k approached, I kept trying to convince myself that I would be okay.  One evening last week, I went out for a test run to see how I'd do.  I made it one mile--a distance that hasn't challenged me for years--before I had to stop and catch my breath.  Then, I turned around and walked/jogged back home, saddened at what this likely meant for my race.

Yesterday, I found myself walking for just 20 minutes (for transportation purposes), and this, too, I felt in my chest.  By the time I got home, I was coughing heavily again for an hour straight.  The coughing gave me a headache.  Enough is enough--I'm sick. 

While I and the friends I asked had been on the fence, saying sure, I could go and just walk when I need to... my trusty friend Dr. Jordan told it to me straight: "Don't do it."  

He was right!  My poor lungs!  Why was I pushing myself, only to make myself worse?  I should be resting and recovering, letting my meds run their course and hopefully pump me back to life sooner rather than later.  I'd surely already delayed my recovery by continuing to go to work every day; by forcing myself to travel 6.2 miles on foot, I'd undoubtedly further set back any progress toward health I'd made up to that point.  And for what, to get a medal and run with friends?  I know my friends will run with me a different day, and I'll cross those 6.2 miles when my body is up for the challenge.

So, I did not set my alarm for this morning.  I spent yesterday afternoon trying to pawn off my race bib.  I went to bed at 10 last night, and slept exactly until the 8-am start time, at which point I woke up, as though my body knew where I wanted to be.  I thought of my friends running the race and hoped they'd meet their goals (they did!).  I rested.  I took my medicine. I'm continuing to rest.


Doing what I've got to do.

It turned out to be a very cold morning, and I woke up feeling sickly... but my cough sounds better, and I'm glad I'm not overdoing it today.

-----

Dare you to make the hard but healthy choice, when you're in a similar position.  

Sometimes "healthy" means not pushing yourself, not running/moving/lifting.  

Sometimes, you have to give up something you want, looked forward to, even paid for, when your health calls for it.

Then, when you're well and feeling great, shoot for the stars :) 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Eat Apples

Fall!  Leaves!  School!  And... APPLES!

Although I didn't love eating fruit as a child, apples are one that I always enjoyed.  As an adult, I've gone through phases of apple consumption.  Whenever they're around, I gladly eat them, but I just have to remember to buy them.   Whenever I do, I'm always pleasantly surprised by how tasty they are!  This fall, I've dared myself to step up my apple game, and I dare you to, too!


Apples courtesty of tuelekza / freedigitalphotos.net

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," or so they say.  I don't know if this is true, but I do know that apples have been long hailed as a health food.  What's all the fuss about? Don't so many health companies and apps use an apple in their logo or icon?  Why is that?

What's so great about apples?  Let's explore:
Nutritional Benefits 
Fiber
Antioxidants
Vitamin C
Boron
Pectin
*many of these nutrients are contained in the skin -- don't leave em out!
Note that apples are high in sugar.  Of course, this is a natural sugar that doesn't bother me much, but if you need to watch sugar consumption for one reason or another, it's something to be mindful of.
Medicinal Benefits: 
Antioxidants help protect against heart disease, cancer, and asthma
Apples are a "cooling" food that treat the heart, lungs, large intestines, and spleen
They're moistening, so they reduce thirst
Apples help cleanse the liver and gallbladder
Can boost exercise endurance
Can help clean teeth!
Promote beneficial intestinal flora and support normal colon function
Aid weight loss by satiating hunger via a modest amount of calories
Plenty to boast about!  No wonder apples are so popular.



Did You Know...
  • It's said that an "Adam's apple" originates from Adam being unable to swallow the bite of forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden
  • Apples trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit
  • There are more than 7,500 apple varieties grown throughout the world today 
  • It takes 36 apples to make one gallon of apple cider
  • Peak season for apples is from September to March (aka NOW!)

For me, the best part of apples is how satiating they are.  I find the fiber really fills me up, which is why this portable snack is a great option to toss in your bag for long days or trips.  Bonus: they're pre-portioned by nature!

Image courtesy of  rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Still, there are SO many ways to eat apples!  I bet you can find more than one way you'll enjoy:

Dare You To...
  • Take a bite of a whole apple (a timeless winner!!)
  • Slice and add to salad
  • Slice and eat with cheese or nut butter
  • Slice thin pieces to make little apple sandwiches (like this!) 
  • Make applesauce! (Recipe here)
  • Stew for use in a sauce 
  • Try dried apples as a convenient travel snack
  • Use apple butter as a scrumptious spread
  • Bake apples and add cinnamon for a sweet dessert (delicious grain-free apple crisp!

Click below to read more on apple selection, care, consumption:

I want to know:
What's YOUR favorite way to eat apples??
Feel free to post recipes in the comments!

Sources: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia TheYummyLife.com Eating Well Huffington Post LiveScience.com WellnessMama.com, StillTasty.com FarmFlavor.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Celebrate National Kale Day!

I've been feeling a little sickly and living off soup since my first 10k race last weekend, but I'm popping in for a moment to bring attention to an important holiday...

Did you know that TOMORROW is National Kale Day??!!?

According to NationalKaleDay.org:
"National Kale Day is held on the first Wednesday in October and is an annual celebration of eating, growing, and sharing kale throughout America."

So how should you celebrate?  By eating, growing, and sharing kale!

But WHY, you ask?  Click to review last year's post: What is kale, Why is it great, and How can you eat it?    (Hint: It's a green vegetable with all kinds of benefits that can be eaten cooked or raw in a variety of ways!)


Last October, I celebrated the very fist National Kale Day in style with my friends (see the PaRTaY here), so this year, I dare you to follow suit with your own KALE PARTY.  Hit up the farmer's market or supermarket, find a few varieties of kale (as shown above), Google a recipe that uses it, and get cooking!

Throwback to my first time massaging kale

Another way to celebrate is by attending a local event!  There are all kinds of festivities going on in cities across America, so check the list by clicking here to find a Kale Day event in your town.

How will YOU celebrate National Kale Day?? 
If you've never tried kale before, I dare you to seek out some well-prepared kale and give it a try.