Seasons Change

I write daily blog posts in my head. I am often sorry I missed the boat on becoming a professional blogger. I don’t think pursuing that now would be all that sustainable or financially lucrative for me.

Fall is nearing its end. It’s my favorite season. Yet for much of it this year we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather. I’m not complaining, but now we seem to be entering winter weather a bit prematurely.

Since my last post my life looks like this:

  • Wake up at 3:30/3:40AM, go to the gym to be home by 5:15 when Orlando has to leave for work. I have been participating in a Step Bet challenge so I use this morning gym time to get my steps in on the elliptical while reading my school assignments. It’s been a super productive hour or so.
  • Get ready for the day, pack Carlos’ lunch, make Carlos’ breakfast, prep patient visits or other work tasks.
  • 7:35 stop at Cumberland Farms for much needed giant coffee. I’m not a coffee snob and for 99 cents you can’t beat it. It stays super hot in my stainless steel travel mug for a good two hours.
  • Bring Carlos to school for 8AM.
  • Usually I see one to two patients starting at 9AM.
  • Home by 11/11:30AM. Eat something. Do some laundry.
  • Noon – 3PM paperwork
  • Some days I will take a break for a 30 minute – 1 hour run
  • 3:15PM pick up Carlos
  • The afternoon varies depending on Carlos’ activities. I typically do not plan on any work productivity between 3-6PM. I make work phone calls, cook dinner, and do some things around the house. It’s not a time I can use to do any focused work.
  • Most nights between 6-7PM, I head to the Mount Holyoke College library to tackle school work.
  • I have been committed to getting to bed by 11PM most nights. Some nights I actually make it earlier.

Then I repeat it all the next day. On October 1st, I began a new role at work as a Clinical Liaison for my team. So far I’m not so sure it was a great decision. Although my caseload is being lowered a bit, it has not had an impact on the amount of work in the present because the patients I have given up were not due to be seen for a month or two. I have the same amount of patients to see right now with the added responsibilities of this new position. I will be training new RNs on our team eventually, and I have already started leading WebEx trainings for new nurses across the state.

Work has been stressful for another reason. Last December my boss was let go. A nurse on my team took her place. She’s wonderful, supportive, approachable, and really reasonable. Our team is made up of two sections of Massachusetts. I work on the Western Mass portion of the team which is small in comparison to the Worcester portion. In the spring a nurse from my area became our supervisor. There was never a clear understanding of her role yet it became quickly evident that she was essentially managing the Western Mass staff. She’s the complete opposite of our manager. She is cold, unapproachable, task oriented, inflexible, and demanding. It has placed an unbelievable amount of stress amongst our group. One of my colleagues has taken the brunt of her wrath. The worst part is that her behavior is totally unnecessary and it is going to drive some great staff out of the job which will mean nothing to her, but will increase the work demands for those of us remaining.

I decided to return to grad school at the end of August. I had two more core courses to complete before I can begin the actual program specific classes. I was dreading these two courses – Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice. My fears were quickly realized. Each course is 8 weeks. I did get an A in Nursing Research, but I work my tail off to earn that grade. Not only was the course demanding and pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone, but the professor was absolutely no nonsense. I turned in a paper 37 minutes late and lost 20% on the grade. It was my own fault. I owned it and I didn’t offer any excuses. She was completely unforgiving and made a comment on my next paper to “watch those late assignments” as though I turned them all in late. It was just the one!

These courses I am taking are all online and follow a very similar structure. The course begins on a Monday. We have a discussion post due on Wednesday night by 11:55PM Eastern time. Between Thursday to Saturday we are expected to respond to two of our peers for a minimum participation grade, but if we are Type A overachievers and want the full participation grade then 4-5 responses are needed. The discussion post and responses are not a short blurb. Research is required and we must include references. For both the research class there were two extensive papers due midterm and at the end. We also had an actual midterm and final exam, timed online. The evidence-based practice class I am taking now also requires two larger projects, one of which is due tomorrow night by 11:55PM. I am nowhere near done, completely lost, writing myself in circles, and frustrated. Will it get done? Yes. Will it get done well? I’m not so sure on this one. It is like nothing I’ve ever done and I honestly don’t know if I am on the right track with it. This course ends on 12/15 and I am counting the days.

I ran the Zooma Half Marathon in Falmouth at the Cape in early October. I was there as a Zooma ambassador. I met some wonderful women and ran a lovely race with new friend Heidi. We chatted and chatted until I could see that she was picking up steam around mile 11 so we parted ways. My legs weren’t quite as perky at that point, but I was pleased with the race I ran nonetheless. I have no other races planned. I am not training for anything. I just run when I feel like it and for as long and as fast as I want. I am beginning to think about possible spring marathons.

Carlos, his best friend Tyler, and I did our annual Halloween spooky attraction. This time it was the Rails to the Dark Side haunted trolley and haunted trolley museum. The night was awesome!

Carlos and I are on a flight from Florida right now. He had Thursday and Friday off this week. I had a ton of time off to use before the end of the year. We also had Jet Blue vouchers to use before they expire. We planned a quick trip down south to visit my dad and sister. I used the opportunity to get some work done on my paper due tomorrow and to catch up on paperwork. Working in the sun by the pool made it much more bearable. The weather was gorgeous.

Time to land!!

Healthfest Day 2 – Rich Roll

A few years ago I began thinking about doing ultra marathons. There is something intriguing about distance running and last year I thought I was ready to make the leap to trail running and ultras. Turns out I was wrong or at least my body decided it wasn’t the right time, but I still have a fascination for people who run extremely long distances.

I stumbled upon Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra. It was an interesting read about Rich’s foray into ultra running and his life story from a promising collegiate swimmer to a desperate alcoholic. He found his way out of addiction and eventually into a plant based lifestyle. He rediscovered his love of swimming and took on new interests in biking and running. He went on to compete in the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii. This is an exclusive competition which is comprised of a 6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile cycle and 52.4 mile run over 3 days.

Now you can find Rich Roll on his podcast by the same name. His podcasts have inspired me, motivated me and taught me to think big, dream and keep striving for more. I first heard about Healthfest on one of his podcasts. It sounded interesting and it was a great opportunity to hear speakers with a message that resonated with me.

I must admit I was a little star struck in Marshall, TX. I know most of the people in my life don’t even know who I’m talking about when I refer to the likes of Rich Roll, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Garth Davis, etc. What struck me instantly was how generous the speakers were with their time. They all seemed very open to meeting their audience and chatting with them.

I tend to feel minimal in most social situations. I was very reluctant to approach the speakers. However, about 20 minutes before Rich Roll’s talk on day 2 of Healthfest I went outside for a short walk and coming straight towards me on a deserted street was Mr. Roll himself. I knew I had to say something. So I outstretched my hand and introduced myself. He was kind, shook my hand and chatted with me for a few moments. As I’ve said attending Healthfest was really about getting outside of my comfort zone and exposing myself to a new experience. I definitely did that in more than one way.

The last talk I attended on Day 2 was Rich’s. Since I’ve been following him for a while his talk was not really new to me.

How To Live More Sustainably & Thrive

Rich Roll

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Some take away points from Rich’s talk:

  • 108 million dieters in this country have yielded a $20 billion/year industry
  • We are addicted to foods that fail us, medications that treat symptoms not the problem and lifestyles that lead to illnesses.
  • Everyone has the time to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s a question of priority.
  • Stop trying to hack the journey. The journey is the destination. Invest in the journey.
  • One industry is destroying the planet more than any other and it is industrialized livestock agriculture.
  • It requires 660 gallons of water to develop 1 hamburger.
  • It takes 1000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk.
  • 110 animal species are lost daily in the rainforest.
  • Vegans produce 50% less CO2

 

 

Healthfest Day 1

Friday, March 27, 2015

I drove about 45 minutes from Shreveport, LA to the small town of Marshall, TX. My hotel was practically on the highway exit to Marshall so I checked in and then set out to explore the town.

Marshall Texas Court House
Marshall, Texas Court House
Quiet street on a Friday afternoon in downtown Marshall, TX
Quiet street on a Friday afternoon in downtown Marshall, TX

There was not much happening in Marshall. I expected to see more people with the conference set to start in just a couple of hours, but the town was very quiet. I read that a few of the local restaurants were offering special vegan menus in honor of the conference so I grabbed a quick lunch at Sweet Sabine’s Restaurant. I enjoyed a veggie wrap and a delicious vegan carrot ginger muffin.

The conference opened late in the afternoon at the Marshall Conference Center. I checked in around 4:30 and made my way around the small vendor area. I watched the Vitamix guy do his thing and grabbed a sample of his green smoothie. I was mostly in awe that some of the main presenters, like Dr. T. Colin Campell (co-author of the China Study), Matt Frazier (No Meat Athlete) and Christy Morgan (The Blissful Chef) and were just walking around chatting with people. I have read their books and blogs anonymously and there they were chatting with folks and posing for photos. I suddenly became very shy! I felt a little out of place wandering around by myself.

Inside the large conference room a small vegetarian chili competition was happening. I tried the three different chilis and voted for my favorite which had almond butter in it. Sounds strange, but it really was delicious.

A local fitness group did a zumba presentation while people began to fill the auditorium in preparation of the opening night of Healthiest 2015. I sat anxiously in the third row with my glasses on and notebook in hand. How badly do I want to go to college again?!! Dr. Campbell was literally about 3 feet away from me politely talking with anyone who approached him. I posted about it on Facebook and a few friends insisted I try to talk to him or at least get a selfie with him. I couldn’t do it!! Instead I took a photo of him talking to someone else. He’s 81 years old!

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Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Mayor Ed Smith and his wife Amanda opened the conference with a short discussion of the origins Healthfest. It began as part of the Get Healthy Marshall Texas movement which was started by the Smiths. Mayor Smith was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. After transitioning to a whole foods plant based diet the cancer was halted. Mayor Smith and his wife have encouraged and motivated their community to take charge of their health through their own enthusiasm about living a plant based lifestyle.

They introduced the keynote speaker, Rich Roll. I’ve mentioned him on the blog. I have been listening to the Rich Roll podcast for a few years now which feature a range of guests from the likes of well known health and wellness experts, bloggers, athletes and inspiring people who have overcome diversity. These people are truly living their dreams and motivating so many along the way. Rich told his story, one that I’ve heard on the podcast and read about in his book, Finding Ultra.

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Rich Roll

Next up was Dr. T. Colin Campbell with a discussion of his famed book, The China Study, which essentially chronicles the link between nutrition and chronic illnesses. He also touched on the subject of what many find difficult about adopting a whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD).

The Origin and Meaning of The China Study
The Origin and Meaning of The China Study

The last presenter of the night was Chef AJ. She’s a performer and is clearly at home on the stage. Her talks are informative with a heavy dose of comedic grit thrown in for texture. She’s got a witty sarcastic humor that resonates with me. She also looks amazing and attributes her svelte body to the rather rigid oil free, whole foods plant based diet she has been living for years. Her message is all about eating to the left of the red line something I will discuss in another post.

Chef AJ telling Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss
Chef AJ telling Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss

The night ended with the winner of the Chili cookoff being announced. I returned to the hotel tired, but excited for the next day of the conference. I browsed the Healthfest schedule and tried to decide which sessions I really wanted to attend the next day as so many of them overlapped or were held at the same time.

9/3/14

Carlos and I had a pretty amazing summer. We spent tons of quality time together. There were lots of get togethers with friends. We were outdoors a lot. We talked and played. We also both read the first Harry Potter book. Carlos finished before me and kept trying to spoil the ending!!

However, I have been working a ridiculously insane schedule to cover holes in the schedule and my husband’s has had to work longer hours since August. Unlike summers before I simply couldn’t do it all and something had to give. I already mentioned that training for a race was nearly impossible and even my regular level of fitness was interrupted. I did the absolute best I could with what little free time I had. I started working out at home more and introduced new things to my workout routine like push ups, kettle bell swings and squats.

The other thing I did was put away my electronics as often as possible. I didn’t want Carlos on his electronics so I tried to set a better example. I admit it…I like love my iPhone and my iPad. This summer I barely blogged, took Facebook breaks for days at a time (I don’t have a huge presence there anyway) and essentially tried not to be attached to a device. I realize that time is of the essence with Carlos. He’s 7 now and still loves hanging around with me, but I know those days don’t last forever.

I really enjoyed the summer, but inside I felt very unbalanced and by the last week of school vacation I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends. I put a lot of effort into parenting this summer, but failed to nurture my marriage or myself. Even my house suffered a bit of neglect. I don’t even want to talk about sleep, or lack thereof. I know that some things need to change before next summer rolls around. I cherish my time with Carlos, but I need to find a better balance between work and home life.

On a positive note, I did learn to let go of a few of my hangups this summer. I learned to let some housework go in exchange for a morning walk or jog with Carlos. I let my list of “things to do” grow and grow if it meant meeting friends out at the park. I learned to tackle only the priorities. I think my mantra of this summer was “it will get done -eventually.”

I saw this video for the first time yesterday and thought it was a simple way of making a very important statement.

Running Questions

I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Arizona with my family. We traveled to the Scottsdale area for my cousin’s wedding. I plan to write a post or two about our trip. It was my first visit to the southwest and I was blown away. I loved it!

On the plane rides I was able to catch up on blog reading. Carina answered these running questions recently and I thought I would do the same. I am still running despite the miserable winter weather. I actually have a 10 mile race today and some big plans for the year.

1. Would you rather…run with one of your ancestors or your role models?

I would love to run with my great grandfather on my mother’s side. I don’t think he was ever a runner, but I would love to know more about him. He came to this country from Italy as a young man. He was a very kind and gentle man from what I remember. My memories are distant, but I remember going to his house, a three family home he shared with my grandmother and great uncle. He had a big blooming cherry tree in the backyard. I know he was a hardworking immigrant who prided himself on being able to speak English. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts on immigration and stories of his journey by boat to the United States.

2. Would you rather…run a race that is a few hours drive but in a beautiful location or in your city with a short drive?

I love traveling to new, beautiful locations for races. I don’t care to repeat races particularly in my area. Running races has become an opportunity to travel for me and my family.

3. Would you rather…take an ice bath for a half hour or foam roll for a half hour?

I have to be honest, I’ve never taken an ice bath. I do foam roll, not for a half hour, but I would if I had the time.

4. Would you rather…have a black toe nail pulled off or have your entire back chaffed from running and be forced to shower for a hour straight?

The toenail definitely. I chafed under my armpits the other day and it is painful both in and out of the shower. Once the toenail is black it’s dead, gross but dead. I’ve had a couple of black toenails. It really irritates me that doing something good for your body has some really foul side effects. It’s just wrong!

5. Would you rather…spend an extra $100 a month given to you on running/fitness or save it?

I would save it. I’m a saver. However, I suppose I would probably break even given what I spend on races for the year for me, Carlos and Orlando.

6. Would you rather…be known for running the fastest marathon or running the longest distance at one time?

I agree with Carina on this one that I’d rather be known for setting a world record for the fastest marathon. There’s money in that accomplishment!

Though I’m sure running the longest distance comes with it’s own unique notoriety in distance running circles. I’ve grown very curious about running ultra distances.

7. Would you rather…have your medal handed to you by Kara Goucher or Shalane Flanagan?

Oh goodness they are both amazing. I really have no personal bias here. They are friends and training partners. If you are interested you can read about them here.

8. Would you rather…lick someone else’s armpit after a marathon, or lick their foot after a marathon?

This is just nasty. I would choose the armpit if it were a nicely shaved pit with a thick layer of deodorant then maybe I’d only be licking deodorant which is gross too, but a little less gross than armpit. Otherwise I’d go with the foot. Yuck either way!

And now a question for anyone who reads this. Would you rather live in Massachusetts or Arizona?

Free flow

Gosh I’m feeling all unbalanced today. Hormones? Change of season? Stuff swirling around my mind? Busy pace of life lately?

I allowed one bratty entitled patient last night to burrow under my skin.

Feeling really self conscious at the gym today especially since I keep losing my balance doing single leg barbell dead lifts for the first time.

Not sure if I’m doing the work I’m meant to be doing.

I just want to run in the cool crisp air and hear the crunch of the leaves under my feet. Tomorrow I will run.

I’m positive one of my arms is longer than the other.

I swear the girl at the front desk of my gym dislikes me because I’ve been going for years and she is always snotty to me no matter how polite and friendly I am to her.

I keep feeling like I want to cry. Ok it’s hormones!

Christmas is already stressing me out. I just want to hide for the holidays.

All sorts of negative body image thoughts on my mind. Wondering why my legs are still so big.

The leaves are so beautiful today. I love the fall. It’s my favorite season and probably the only reason I live in New England.

I love my fall wreath this year.

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I vow not to watch the biggest loser this season. The show upsets me anyway but especially this season because that American Idol contestant Ruben Studdard is on the show. I believe he has the financial resources and the support to lose weight on his own. I don’t believe the show is the best role model for weight-loss but it still helps people to lose weight. Someone else could really benefit from being a contestant on the show.

I seem to be the only person in my family who can put the laundry away.

My husband called me on his lunch break and made me feel little bit better.

Tonight is my last night of a 7 night stretch at work. It was self-induced. However, I’m glad it’s almost over.

I’ve been journaling my food on paper recently. Today I went back to MyFitnessPal. Want to see what I eat? Come find me there at mozaim.

I’m struggling with afternoon snacking. Those calories add up so quickly. I think I will always have to work against emotional eating. Today I will fight the urge.

4:52 pm- At last it is time for bed before work. Aside from a small apple I didn’t have anything else to eat this afternoon.

This post was written entirely by the talk to text feature on my phone. I spoke a sentence here and there throughout the day as things popped into my mind.

Half Size Me Interview

First I want to say I miss blogging. On top of a fun, active summer my computer has been having all sorts of problems. Most recently, last week I had to have the track pad replaced. I’m just not ready to put my 6 year old MacBook down yet! I love technology and my electronics, but everything I own is considered old by technology standards.   I tend to read blogs on my phone, but that’s been giving me a headache too; it’s slow and freezes up. I have an “old” iPhone 4 (no Siri).  I cannot comment on many blogs from my phone for some reason. So Carina, Biz and Marion I’m reading! I love keeping up with my favorite blogs and I enjoy commenting because it’s nice to know people are out there reading and caring about what you write. I honestly can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments and feedback.

This is an exciting week for a couple of reasons. I’ll start with the upcoming weekend. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon is this Sunday, September 22nd. I am ready! This week of training is very light. I’m focusing on my diet, stretching and a few easy runs. This training was incredible. I enjoyed every moment of it even the 22 mile run and my 20 mile runs. I endured the hot summer and surprisingly didn’t mind it too much. I tried some new things this time around including incorporating more strength training, different types of fuel for long runs, and more stretching. I feel great about this marathon. I have goals (I’m looking at you Oprah!), but no matter what happens on that day I know I am going into the race well trained, strong and healthy.

The other exciting news is that I am this week’s interview on Half Size Me. I have been listening to Heather’s podcasts for over a year now and I have drawn so much inspiration from the stories she features. Heather, herself, has an inspiring story that motivates and encourages others to stay on the road to a healthy lifestyle. I contacted Heather of halfsizeme.com first for some motivation during a time of frustration this past spring when the scale just wouldn’t budge despite my efforts. She kindly offered some advice and suggestions to help me along. I’m happy to report that I was able to push past the plateau and lose a few pounds before beginning marathon training. I then contacted Heather again after listening to one of her podcasts where a listener asked for advice about maintaining healthy habits and losing weight while working the night shift. I was honored that Heather asked me to participate in an interview.

You can find the interview today at Half Size Me. I hope you enjoy it.

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