Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cutest Home Decor and Some Cheesey Meals

I'm feeling rather cheesy this week.  Not only do the weekly meals planned contain two meals that are focused around cheese, but I will completely admit my major obsession with "The Bachelor".  Yes, the super cheesy, hoaky show is one of my favorites.  It falls in line right before "The Real Housewives".  I am a sucker for some dramatic reality shows.  I even watch a little bit of "Dance Moms".  Yes, it's getting worse with each confession!

On Monday, I had a girls night with Erica & went to her house to watch "The Bachelor" and have some super tasty home cooked southern food!  Everything in moderation, right!?

Erica cooked us breaded pork chops, mashed red potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, mushroom gravy sauce & a side salad with sweet walnuts, spinach, feta & raspberry vinaigrette.  Erica lives in the same apartment Neal & I lived at when we first moved to Evansville, and I will be the first to admit hers is decorated much cuter than I ever did our place!

She even makes a mounted deer look pretty!

And she can make art...dang!

It's not girls night without chocolate & wine!

For the rest of the meals this week, Neal & I will be cooking the following:

Stuffed Shells (cheesy)
Shrimp Stir fry
  • Ingredients
    • 15-20 Medium Cooked Shrimp (or you can cook yourself)
    • 3 Cups of frozen veggies.  Walmart actually sells a stir fry veggie bag in their frozen section that I use
    • 2 T Olive Oil
    • Homemade Teriyaki sauce, the sauce that's in the Walmart bag, or a mixture of sauces from the fridge is what I do
  • How to cook
    • Prep your shrimp by defrosting them if frozen or cooking them if they are uncooked.  We put ours in a bowl of water, changing out the water with luke warm to cool water until they are no longer frozen.  Pat them dry & remove the tails.
    • Put your shrimp with your sauce mix in a separate bowl so it can marinate some flavor.
    • Heat a pan on medium, add your olive oil & cook your vegetables how you like them.  Add a little of the sauce to the pan while you are cooking.
    • Toss the shrimp and rest of the sauce into the pan.  Warm it all up and serve!
Chicken Fajitas
White Pimento Cheese Sandwiches (cheesy again!) 
  • I am planning on making some bacon to stuff along in there with the Fresh Market White Pimento Cheese & serving these on Ezekiel bread.

Music City

These past weekend was a whirlwind of adventures.  Wine tasting, candlelights , a baby shower, coffee, coffee, & more coffee, Whiskey Kitchen, the Stage & Big Bang in Nashville, & a beautiful riverfront walk in Newburgh.

On Friday, I was invited to an Alpha Chi Omega alumni event in Franklin, TN which is right outside of Nashville.  The event was a blind wine tasting, luxury jean brand trying-on, & candlelight filled night.  Somewhat regretfully, I decided I was too stressed from a busy work week & a crazy driving schedule (I hate driving and don't do it at all costs) to drive from Indiana to the Nashville, TN area.  The lovely ladies that did go had a wonderful time & three sisters announced engagements at the candlelight ceremonies!  How wonderful & special!
The Beautiful new bling for the lovely sisters & their candelight candles!
I got Brittany a gift since I knew of her engagement.  It's actually a tea light holder, but I use these types of things around my own house to hold rings while washing my hands at the sinks!  I hadn't seen one that looked so cool & blingy & when I saw it I though how adorable would that be for Brittany & her new ring!

Saturday morning rolled around & I had to get in a 6 mile run before I could consider driving into Nashville for a baby shower I planned to attend.  Those 6 miles were at a really easy pace, it was my long run at 8:50 mile pace.  Sadly, at 4.5 miles, my left knee started to hurt.  I walked a few minutes & finished up running the rest just so I could get off the treadmill.  I then got on the machines to do some leg strengthening extensions, kickbacks & other moves.  Right now, I am praying that I didn't over do it, but we will see tonight when I do my speed work run!

After running, cleaning up, swinging by a local craft fair for ideas, & driving 2 and a half hours, I was finally at the baby shower.  My friends theme is the "Lion King", and her son's room is going to be just the cutest!  He received so many adorable goodies in "Lion King" & jungle theme.
Emily, Brittany & My gift to the mama!

The hosts & the mama!
Alpha Chi Sisters
Cute Little Mama!
Since I was coming to Nashville, my friend Natalie drove in from East TN to meet me half way between our two homes for a girls night out.

We checked into the Maxwell Millennium Hotel where we would be staying for the night since they have a great shuttle service to the downtown area & if you book on Expedia you can get up to $40 off a night!  Not a bad deal & the hotel was clean, friendly staff, & loaded with Nashville music scene memorabilia.

Even though we were beyond excited, we still knew we would need triple shot iced lattes from Starbucks to keep us up all night!  Due to my quirky excited nature and the fact that I had downed 1/5 of my triple shot latte, I spilled my drink everywhere right as we were leaving, but the kind baristas made me another one. 
Tripple Shot Drinks - Mocha & Vanilla Lattes
Natalie & I got ready & the awesome staff took some pictures for us before we headed out to Whiskey Kitchen for some pizza & of course a whiskey drink.  I wanted to try a maple flavored whiskey, but they were out, so I opted to go for one recommended by our waitress that turned out to be a honey whiskey & water.  Not too bad, but I still want to try the maple.


We then met up with my little sister in my sorority & went to The Stage, a fun bar with a live band, cool vibe, & just crowded enough to enjoy the band with others without bumping into someone at every step.

Lo & behold, we ended our night at The Big Bang.  All of my friends know that this is practically the only bar I go to in Nashville.  I have weird phobias of going to places I don't know well & I can get too buck wild or too nervous to try something new.  Yes, it's pitiful, but at least most everyone I know can have a great time at The Big Bang too! 

Dueling pianos, fun bartenders, embarrassingly cute dances on stage for people that just got engaged, talented singers & drummers, lively music, you can't ask for much more!  Oh, and I almost always get in free thanks to my sweet friend Emily who was lucky enough to get a Big Bang VIP card & lets me borrow it when I am in town!  And if she can't help me, I have become 'friends' with one of the bartenders & one of the piano players, both of which have been kind enough to get myself & some friends into the bar! 

After closing down Big Bang, it was time for some R&R back at our hotel.  We got in around 4am, and Natalie's alarm went of at 7am.  My poor husband knows this too well, but once I am up in the morning, I am up.  So instead of trying to go back to sleep, I gathered my stuff and took the 3 hour drive back home.

My friend that  recently moved from Nashville area to Evansville met me for a Newburgh Riverfront Walk, which is something I enjoy doing to help release toxins after a night where I may have drank a drink or two more than needed.  I brought my dogs along, Walden is just simply obsessed with Erica! 

Walden, you are way to big to be a lap dog!

Happy Sasha after her walk

It was a long, sometimes tough, weekend for me, but I do love Music City, Nashville.  I didn't appreciate the town enough when I lived there, but now I can see why so many people fall in love with the beautiful city by day & lively town by night!  The people are friendly, the music is spectacular, & there's always something to do!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Groupon & Power Yoga

Last night I had the opportunity to go back to yoga class, and I was thrilled!

In the summer of 2012, my friend Danielle & I purchased a Groupon for a month of unlimited yoga.  I think we went 3-5 times a week!  It was amazing!  I loved the mindset I was in after classes.  The strength and flexibility I gained from classes made me feel incredible.  I feel in love with yoga.  Then the month ended, and I did not pay for more classes.

Finally, almost a half year later, I found myself back to Evansville Power Yoga. 

Last nights class was a 'Beginners' Level 1 & 2.  Mark, our instructor, is great at making sure everyone is in tune with themselves and the room.  He ensures you are pushing yourself and going further or deeper into a move.  There was a lot more cardio involved in yesterdays class than in previous classes I had attended.  I felt great after the workout and am very glad I have incorporated a weekly power yoga class into my Half Training Workouts.

Mark is also a great Graphic Designer & artist  I loved these pieces:

To keep on my training schedule, I woke up at 5am & hit the gym to run my 6 mile tempo run.  There were a lot more people at they gym than I normally see in the morning, which is great!

After my run, I came home to Neal finishing up breakfast.  Yummy steel cut oats & Chocolate Raspberry Coffee!

Question of the day:
Have you ever purchased a Groupon?  If it was something like fitness, hair salon, laser or massage, do you ever go back after your Groupon has been used?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Love with A.M. Workouts

Whoo Hoo!  I never thought I would love an early morning workout, but I do!

After doing the entire Love Your Body series, I realized that I liked getting my workouts done and over with in the morning.  By doing an AM workout:
  • I get to go to work without feeling like I have more stuff to do after work.
  • I like that I don't feel crunched for time to workout & make a healthy and tasty dinner for Neal & myself in the evening.
  • I like the adrenaline rush I get early in the morning from and AM workout.
  • I am even at the point where I don't mind getting to work a little later (8am instead of 7am).
This morning, I awoke at 5:08.  Yes, I wanted to set my alarm for a non-rounded number!  I was out of the house by about 5:30 after getting dressed, preparing my workout drink, & getting the puppies ready by taking them out and feeding them breakfast.  I got to the gym, did my 6 x 400m Speed Training run in 20 minutes & then had a nice stretch.  I got back to the house around 6:15 am.

You know what's great after an early morning workout?  Tasty Tone It Up Protein Pancakes! 

I purchased samples of their Perfect Fit Protein, and I must say I am now obsessed with this protein.  The flavor is so sweet & it's 100% natural.  It's also vegan, gluten-free, & non gmo.  Perfect fit has 0 sugar, is only 70 calories, 3 carbs and give you 15g of protein!  It's perfect!

So far I have made 2 delicious meals with Perfect Fit Protein.  This weekend, I made the best smoothie I have ever had.  In my smoothie was frozen banana & blueberries, some yogurt, almond milk, 1/2 T maple syrup, & 1 packet of Perfect Fit!  Amazing!

This morning, I made the Tone it Up Protein Pancake with Perfect Fit for the first time.  It was absolutely amazing!  The pancakes texture was fluffy & filling.  The flavor was sweet and savory.  I topped mine with blueberries, banana & a little maple syrup.

It's been a great morning, & with this attitude, I am sure it's going to be an amazing day!

Questions of the day:
Have you ever tried Perfect Fit?  Do you have another protein you love?
What do you think about an early morning workout?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Half Marathon Training, Only 3 Days of Running

It’s time to start training for my 2nd half marathon!

Training for anything is no easy feat.   If you grew up playing sports, you know the hours of dedication you had to give before or after school to your trainers & coaches.  Your parent’s probably put in long drives to track meets, swim practice, cheer competitions, ballet practices, karate competitions, etc. because they saw the love you had for the sport.  Why does that seem to end after high school for so many of us?  Where does the drive go?

Have you ever noticed how many ‘athletes’ from your high school actually went onto being athletes in college and beyond?  It’s so rare!  I stayed active through intramurals in college & that was a lot of fun, but I didn’t necessarily train for a sorority soccer game or a flag football match.  We may have gone out to the field as a group for 30 minutes a week, but it’s not like I was running stairs, kicking my butt through plyometric fitness, or doing wall sits.
It’s a rough transition from being in a team sport to being on your own.  You are now your own team, your own coach, and your own cheerleader in that regards.  You have to find your dedication all over again.  For me, I have found a lot of it through my husband, the Tone it Up community, & through fitness goals I set for myself.  It’s not always easy, sometimes you are fortunate to have a group of people to workout with (like the Tone it Up series) and other times you just have to set that alarm and tell yourself you are getting up at 5am to go to the gym.

When I started training for my first half marathon, I was a dog walker.  The couple I worked for was really big into fitness and gave me a few pointers.  They also suggested I read “Run Less, Run Faster” by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr & Ray Moss.  ­­­­­­­­­­­I am going to admit, I read a lot of the book, but I also skipped some of it. 
For my first half, I followed almost all of the running suggestions of tempo work and speed work.  I did some of the distance runs & I skipped out on most of the cross training.  Somehow, I did manage to train just enough to get me over that finish line in less than two hours.  I grew up being a competitive athlete & I think that’s the only thing I had going for me.  I was sore for about 1.5 – 2 weeks, barely able to walk, & that’s something I’d like to avoid this time around!
After committing myself fully to the Tone it Up Love Your Body Series, I have learned that I can do anything for 6.5 weeks, so what’s another half week?  I am going to be in half marathon training for the next 7 weeks!   

To do this, I have based my training schedule again on “Run Less Run Faster”, although this time around I plan on really sticking to the plan including the cross training suggestions.  During one day a week to keep my mind & body focused & grounded, I will only consider yoga as one of my cross training routines.  Why yoga?  1) I love yoga and truly have missed going to classes over the past few month, 2) I need to make sure I still stretch out enough & focus on what my body is telling me, & 3) it’s a way to keep myself accountable.  If I pay for the class, I better go to that class!  No one likes to throw their money around, right?

So drumroll please............... here's my plan!
Don’t let the wording on this training plan scare you if you are considering it.  This seriously is an easy to follow plan & I am going to explain it all!

3 Types of runs per week will get you on your way to training & running your first half marathon. 

  1. Speed work.  That’s running distances of .25 miles, .5 mile & 1 miles at a pace per mile, much faster than you plan to run your half.
  2. Tempo.  That’s running anywhere from 2-8 miles at a pace slightly faster per mile than you plan to run your half.
  3. Long runs.  That’s running distances of 6+ miles at a pace per mile slightly slower than you plan to run your half marathon.
First, choose your pace.  I personally want to beat my other half marathon time of 1 hour 55 min, thus I am aiming for 1 hour 50 minutes.  For that I divided by 13.1 and found that I will need an average pace of 8 minutes 20 seconds (8:20).  I feel that’s definitely a pace I can accomplish. To find your half marathon pace (HPM) use the following:
  • Current 10-K mile pace and add 20 seconds per mile for your HMP.
  • Current 5-K mile pace and add 35 seconds per mile for your HMP and goal time (see chart here).
Second, familiarize yourself with what your pace needs to be on the following 5 runs.  Speed work (3 distances you need to figure out), your tempo run, & lastly your long run.

The following numbers are going to be based on the pace I would like to keep.  8:20 (8 min 20 sec) mile pace for a total race time of 1:50:00 (1 hour 50 min)
Speed work
You will run a specific shorter distance at a quicker pace anywhere from 3 – 6 times.  In between each run, take a 90 second recovery walk and/or stretch.   For example, week one is 3 x 1600m.  That means you are running 3 separate miles with a 90 second break in between.

You need to find your pace you should be running each distance (1/4 mile, ½ mile & 1 mile), use the below method to find your time:

  • 400m (1/4 mile) subtract 1min 15 sec from planned mile pace time & divide by 4
  • 800m (1/2 mile) subtract 1min 5 sec from planned mile pace time & divide by 2
  • 1600m (1 mile) subtract 45 seconds from planned mile pace time
  • My speedwork
    400m -> 7:05 ÷ 4 = 1:46
    800m -> 7:15 ÷ 2 = 3.57
    1600m -> 7:45

Tempo runs

Take your planned half marathon pace per mile and subtract 15 seconds.  For me, that’s an 8:05 mile pace.

Tempo runs train you to run at a faster pace while reaching slightly beyond your comfort zone because lets face it, you are going to be pushing yourself on race day due to adrenaline!

Long runs
Take your planned half marathon pace per mile and add 30 seconds.  For me, that an 8:50 pace.
These will allow your endurance to build not only within your body, but also with your mind, knowing you can make it to 12 miles makes that last 1.1 mile feels less daunting.
Cross- training days

Mondays, Wednesday & Friday are all cross training days for this plan.  As stated earlier, I am choosing to make Wednesday cross training strictly for yoga.  Monday & Friday will consist of some other sort of cross training.

Your activity you choose for cross training should not be strenuous on your legs.  They need a bit of a break so you don’t put more stress than needed on them.  However, using the elliptical trainer, even though it mimics running, does so in a non-impact way and is a suitable cross training workout.   Other workouts I will likely be doing are strength & weigh training & spinning.  I would love to have swimming in my cross-training days, but I sadly do not go to a gym with a pool!

For a list of great cross-training activities as well as effective cross training advice for when you are are running a half marathon, visit this link.

Yes this is a lot of information, but like I said earlier, training for anything takes time & dedication!

As you can tell, I have done a lot of research and am really excited to get the ball moving toward my 2nd half marathon!  Having this goal keeps me focused on being healthy, happy & fit!

Questions of the day:
Have you ever trained for a half marathon?  If so, did you follow a plan where you ran only 3 days a week?  If not, what did your plan look like?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love Your Body Series Recap

Congratulations all you beach babes!  We did it!  We completed the Tone It Up Love Your Body series!!!!

The wonderful women behind Tone It Up wrote this heartwarming letter to all off the ladies that joined this fun & exhilarating series:

I couldn't have said it better, but I still want to give my own thank you!

I personally am so happy to have had a handful of women to keep in touch with  during this time.  I loved getting texts from Laurie, Julie, & Erica.  It was wonderful to chat almost daily with Natalie & Brittany.  I made new friends in the Tone it Up community via Facbook & Instagram; @kisstastic2 & @cahill_oneill it was so great to be able to keep in touch with you & many other ladies on an almost daily basis!  And last but not least, it truly helped to hear many of my family & friends cheering me on via personal IM or phone calls & Facebook chats & messages!  THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!

Whether you tried just one workout, joined in on 1 or 2 workouts per week, or did every single workout of the series, I am PROUD OF YOU!  Pat yourself on the back & treat yourself kindly today & every day.  It's necessary to treat your body well.  With all that you eat, drink & do for exercise, it's important to remember how it makes you feel.

I have felt stronger, healthier, and so much happier after doing these workouts & keeping in touch with my friends & the Tone It Up community!  I feel truly blessed to have been able to participate & have this great support! 

Since the start of 2013, some women lost pounds, 6-12 + of them!  Others inches, others truly 'Toned it Up' gaining muscle & cardio strength, and even more gained the confidence & happiness they needed & deserved!

It's never to late to join the Tone It Up community!  They will have many more challenges to jump in on & will be reaching out to women daily!  So join them, or form your own community.  Do what you need to find your strength & happiness!

Have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day! 

For some easy & healthy chocolate recipes, check out the Tone It Up post on Healthy Valentine's Day Desserts.

For a yummy dinner, maybe try some Cocoa Steak served with Strawberry Chocolate Salad (made with fresh greens, strawberries, goat or feta cheese, chocolate shavings & homemade chocolate balsamic dressing, YUM!)

Need an easy man gift?  Put together some of his favorite items in a cute tin!  My man is getting a Taco Bell gift card, his favorite wine wood tip cigars, Blueberry Crumble coffee, 6 unique beers, a lovely bottle of red wine & a homemade card!

Would you rather get yourself a gift, or maybe send a gift to a friend?  Check out the Lively Happenings shop on Etsy & use coupon code LOVE14 for 14% off your ENTIRE purchase!
Have a great day!  Do you have anything fun or delicious planned for today?  (PG rated, of course!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Weekly Meal Planning - VDay Week!

I am a day late on my weekly meal planning!  Opps, but I promise there is a solid reason. 

I had severe abdominal pain and upper esophagus pain Sunday night into Monday morning, and we finally ended up going to the ER to ensure my esophagus wasn’t torn & nothing else was wrong.  The doctors believe that I might have strained myself by running so hard in the cold weather for the 5K on Saturday as well as having alcohol later that night.  Had I thought more thoroughly, I would have avoided alcohol and I would have also maybe not have signed up for the 5K the day after my endoscopy, even though the doctor said it was okay to run & didn’t tell me to avoid alcohol.

Here’s the meals we have planned for this week, they include some of the usual, chicken fajitas one night and fish with veggies another.  We have a new treat, Cranberry Apple Pork Tenderloin that I think I am going to love! My father & his girlfriend had it and sent me their pictures and recipe.  I can’t wait to try!   

Monday:  Steak, Potato & Veggies

Neal grilled up our filets from his birthday gift of Omaha Steaks and we had them alongside the baked stuffed potatoes & leftover asparagus

Tuesday:  Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas - Serves 4

Marinate your Chicken (mine has to be without the spices this week…sad esophagus!)

  • 1.5lbs chicken
  • 1 t Cumin
  • 2 t Chili Powder
  • 1 t Paprika
  • Dash of Salt
  • Garlic, minced - to your taste (more is better in my opinion!)
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • Drop of Liquid Smoke
  • 2oz Lime Juice - squeeze to your taste
  • Cut your veggies
  • 1 Green Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • Optional: Mushrooms, Tomato, any other veggies your heart desires!
To Cook
  • Put a skillet on Medium heat, add in your chicken. While your chicken cooks, add in a little Creole seasoning for even more flavor.
  • Once chicken is cooked, add in your veggies and cook for another 3-5 minutes
  • Serve with your toppings of choice on a whole wheat tortilla!
My favorite toppings
  • Avocado
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Greek Yogurt (or Sour Cream)
  • Cheese (Mexican, Goat, Feta, whatever you desire, I like to keep it interesting!)
Wednesday Friday:  Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Pork Tenderloin w/ steamed veggies & sweet potato
  • 2lb pork tenderloin (plain/original) (Feeds 2-3)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (you can always sub honey, maple, or agave)
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1-3 carrots, chopped (about same size as apples)
  • 1 shallot, diced (or any kind of onion)
  • 1 pkg lipton onion soup mix, mixed in 1 cup hot water (make your own)
  • 2 Tbsp Pork “Roasting Rub” or any mixed pork seasonings
  • 3 Tbsp Apple Balsamic or any balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • Optional:  pinch of celery seed, fennel seed and caraway seed
  • Salt and Pepper (depending if your pork seasoning has it already in it then don’t use)
  • Place pork tenderloin in a crock pot then top with all ingredients in order listed above. 
  • Cover, and cook on low 8 hours.  Or on high for 4 hours and low 1
  • Serve with cooking liquid on the side as au jus. 

Thursday:  Neal’s taking us out to Red Lobster! 

Friday Saturday:  Fish & veggies

Simply by putting your fish on the stove top with a little oil or butter, sprinkle on your favorite seasoning, cook about 3 minutes. Flip your fish, sprinkle on your seasoning and cook another 3 minutes.

Want a more unique recipe?  Try the Cilantro Baked Fish 

Steam up some veggies in the microwave or stove top, and you are good to go!
Do you have a meal I should try next week? 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hearts On Fire 5k Run

Today has been a great day!  As mentioned in my blog post, Making the Most of a Quarter Century, I signed up for a 3 part running series sponsored by the athletic department at one of the local colleges, University of Southern Indiana.  Today was part 1, the 5k run, & I killed it!

The run didn't start until 9am and I was praying it was going to get warmer, but it stayed in the mid 30's for the race.  Brrr!

I started the day with some cheese eggs, a slice of turkey bacon, & a Tone It Up BC Buzz Drink.

Neal & I got to the USI campus around 8:15 for registration and I warmed up with some stretching and lunges about 15 minutes before the race.  Mostly I just needed to be outside to get used to the temperatures.  After the National Anthem was sung, we were off.

To pace myself during races I pick a girl in front of me and stay focused on her and decide if she's someone I can pace with, or pass.  I kept picking women and passing them little by little.  I honestly couldn't believe my endurance!

Finally at about 2.5 miles I saw one woman off in the distance with about 3 men in between us.  I knew it was too late for me to try to catch up to her, but that I could focus on beating a guy now.  Yes, I am competitive.

I came close enough to the men and paced with them as we busted tail to the finish line. 

Neal snapped this photo as I preparing to cross.
He came over to me and said, "You were the second woman across the finish line!"  I honestly couldn't believe it!  The SECOND woman overall!?!  Really?  I knew there were a decent amount of people in front of me, so I figured more than one of them was a woman.  He snapped this picture of me in my post race excitement!

I drank a lot of water and snacked on a banana until the races were finished.  Neal and I went back into the campus Recreation Center and saw the results were posted.

There it was, I was NUMBER ONE in my age group!  SO THRILLED!  And to top it off, I beat 22 minutes!  My official time was 21:45!  That's my personal best! WHAT! YES! OH MY GOSH!  Needless to say I did a little dance and made a little noise!

I calmed myself down, found out the woman in front of me beat me by almost a minute!  Great job!!!  She's 8 years older than me too, what an INSPIRATION!
I remained cool and collective while I received my medal and went to the back so Neal could take a picture of me and all my happy glory!

We went home so we could take care of the dogs, as you may know, never leave Walden alone for long unless you want your couch eaten...

I then heated up leftover spaghetti squash & served that with a side of avocado.  Perfect!
I began crafting new jewelry for the non-profit, Strings for Hope, as I watch the woman powered movies, "Charlies Angels" on TBS.  What a great start to the weekend!

I hope you have a lovely weekend as well! I'm off to clean up and hang out with our friends!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Living with Eosinophilic Esophagitis & Anesthesia Stories

updated 2.8.13 after reading though my typing errors from being off anesthesia, I decided to do more editing!

Today I posted pictures on Instagram & Facebook of me at my most recent doctor check-in.   I wanted to explain more about why I went to the doctor today for an esophagus scope, endoscopy. I have eosinphillic esophagitis.

Eosinphillic Esophagitis sounds big, dangerous and scary.  But so does hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) & hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth).  (source: CBC News)
In reality, eosinphillic esophagitis is not life threatening, it’s not life shortening, it’s can simply be slightly life altering. 
How we found out I had EE
We found out approximately one year ago that I have EE.  I had been having difficulty eating and swallowing over the course of about 3-4 months before I finally went to see a doctor in December 2011.  After that, a series of appointments were made, and a scope of my esophagus was recommended.  Next thing, needed was to find an allergist. 

That’s right, EE is an allergy related issue. 

EE is a newer condition without a ton of background knowledge.  As an adult, you may have it if you have difficulty eating due to the persistent feeling of chest pain or heart burn. 

It got to the point where I couldn’t even drink water in the morning without a constrictive  feeling in my throat and chest.  My esophagus was so tight it started to hurt too much to eat normally.  

Last year at my endoscopy appointment, they had to dilate my esophagus.  That’s basically stretching it with a balloon.  It took about 3-4 days before I felt normal.  It seemed as though my chest was always in pain during those days.
Later, I had an appointment with my allergist.  He let me know that EE can be caused by food allergies or outside allergies like dust, pollen, grass, etc.  He described that at the current time (Jan or Feb 2012) my esophagus lining was like an open wound and gave the following example:
When you pour gasoline on your skin, it doesn’t really hurt or affect you too much, you simply just wash it away.  But, when you pour gasoline on an open wound, it tends to burn.  A normal esophagus would be like your skin normally, it doesn’t hurt when you eat or drink, but an esophagus affected by EE is like pouring gasoline on that open wound. 
BOOM!  That that was my esophagus!
So what to do when you have EE. 
First, I took a series of allergy tests.  If you have ever had this done, I feel your extreme itching 'pain'.  My test was on my arm and I wanted to scratch scratch scratch!  I also had a 3 day test with food samples taped to my back.  Yes, it is as gross as it sounds, and Neal couldn’t help take off the samples without wanting to vomit.  I thought it was cool, he thought it was disgusting.
Turns out that I have the a lot of the allergies to pollens, trees, & grasses, but they were all very mild allergies.  We did find, however, that I ‘midlevel’ allergic to tomatoes and slightly allergic to coconut.  Well hello!  Neal and I had been making our own homemade marinara, homemade salsa, & I’d been drinking coconut milk & water.  I had basically been hurting my esophagus so much that it was to the point where foods I wasn’t allergic to were hurting the poor inner lining. 
I had to cut out tomatoes & coconut from my diet.  I have been that way for about a year now, and spaghetti with turkey marinara was my favorite food.  Thankfully, I really like pesto and have also been making homemade alfredo. I do miss pizza with red sauce still, but maybe my results will allow for me to eat it a little more this next year!
My endoscopy today
Today I went in bright and early for my endoscopy.  I arrived at 6:30am and was walking out to the car with my husband by 8:20am.

After I awoke from anesthesia, I apparently told Neal 3 times that I had posted pictures on Instagram and that I felt so happy I was ‘wagging my tail’ as I shook my butt around in the hospital bed.  Oiy vey!
They didn’t have to dilate me this year, and for that I was thankful.
Neal made me a delicious breakfast when we got back home.  There was also pancakes from the Cracker Barrel mix, which are SO good.  I actually thought I took a picture of them, but apparently in my loopy delusion of anesthesia wearing off, I didn't!
After breakfast, he and I took a nap for about an hour and a half, and when I awoke I realized I still had the monitoring sticky patches attached to me.  Ouch!  That one on my lower abs area hurt when coming off!
I then went back to work for a few hours and had a rather typical day.  I can feel a little pain in the middle of my chest where they probably took the samples from my esophagus, but it’s not horrible.  At least not yet, fingers crossed!
·         Having EE is not something to be scared of.  If you feel you have any of these symptoms described, you should consult a doctor, and do it before 3-4 months like I did, your esophagus will thank you!

·         Do you have a funny anesthesia story you’d like to share?