Me & My Big Mouth

Sometimes, I should just keep quiet.

Yesterday, I posted about how I planned to work out every day, regardless of fatigue. I was proud of the work I’d done on Tuesday, and thought I could maintain a tough attitude and get the job done no matter what. Honestly, it sounded like a great idea!  That is, until I got to the gym, was stretching before we started, and had a cluster of 3 or 4 seizures in a row. Adam told me in no uncertain terms that we were going home, and to stop trying to force myself to exercise. He didn’t want me to hurt myself.

Last night’s shaky fun-fest lasted most of the evening. I had so many seizures that I honestly lost count. It’s been a while since I was laid out like that. I vaguely remember being confused about where I was when we were on the car ride home, and I definitely remember being incredibly itchy, especially around my wrists, my neck, the middle of my back, and my toes. Adam suggested that the itching might be an aura, because it was most intense just before having another seizure.

Cannabis to the Rescue!

Adam thought that the itching was probably neuropathic, and not caused by allergies or anything else, because it came on all of the sudden and scratching didn’t make it stop. He suggested that I smoke a little to see if it helps. Not only did it make the seizures stop, but it also made the itching stop.

On January 1st, the medical marijuana pilot program in IL was slated to start. I haven’t read anything about it since then. No idea if people are actually running dispensaries yet or what, but I’m definitely going to ask my doctors to write me a recommendation. Fortunately, I don’t have to wait long. I have appointments coming up with both of my neurologists. I see my epileptologist on Tuesday of this coming week, and then I see my MS specialist on Tuesday of the following week. I’m hopeful that one of them will write it. I refuse to get back on any seizure meds because we’re planning to get pregnant and the seizure meds never helped me anyway. The only thing I can think that might be helpful would be a medrol dose pack, and only if this continues, because it would mean that I’m dealing with a relapse.

Under Pressure…

I’m also scheduled to see my cardiologist on Thursday of this coming week. That means I need to find or fudge my blood pressure journal. I have no idea where I put that piece of paper… but I do remember some of the numbers. So far, limiting sodium and taking the amlodipine and hydrochlorathiazide seems to be making a positive difference. My morning blood pressure has dropped from 165/105 to 141/91. It’s still not awesome, but it’s headed in the right direction.

Yoga tonight!

Tonight, Adam and I have plans to attend the 7:30 p.m. yoga class at our gym. They didn’t have night time yoga during the fall session, so I’m very glad to see they have it back at least 1 night a week. I love yoga. It’s simultaneously relaxing and challenging, and it makes me feel strong. There are also tons of sources out there that suggest that yoga is particularly helpful for folks with MS.

So, I missed 1 day of working out, thanks to seizures. It’s not the worst thing in the world, provided that I get back to it. If the seizures taught me anything last night, it’s to not write checks my ass can’t cash. I just have to keep doing my best.

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Not Letting MS Win.

Adam and I have been very committed to fitness over the last year. We’ve changed many of our eating habits for the better, learning how to live without wheat and adding many more veggies to our diet. We also managed, most weeks, to get to the gym 3 times. This year, we’re going for 4 times a week. While I haven’t seen much in the way of weight loss, my body has reshaped, so that’s a step in the right direction. I know I’m building muscle. I tell you all this not to brag, but because it’s relevant.

So Ridiculously Counterintuitive…

Monday and Tuesday of this week, I was dealing with some pretty intense MS fatigue. The idea of going to the gym was ludicrous to me. (Hey, I’m having a hard time walking to the bathroom fast enough. I know! Let’s lift weights!)

Now, you have to understand, MS fatigue is utterly and completely different from being tired. You can be in a great mood, be motivated to do things, and quite literally not be able to make your body move without extreme effort.  You can be extremely sleepy and not able to actually sleep. Sometimes, it’s like wearing a lead apron over your whole body. At other times, it feels an awful lot like turning into a weak puddle of goo.

This graphic perfectly represents what MS fatigue does to you.

This is what MS fatigue does to you.

“The exact mechanism of MS fatigue is not known, but studies suggest that changes in the brain caused by MS may require MS patients to use five times more effort to complete a simple task than a person without MS,” says Julie Stachowiak, PhD, author of The Multiple Sclerosis Manifesto: Action To Take, Principles To Live By.

Never being one to take things lying down (literally!), I had to research ways to combat fatigue.

The most consistent suggestions on the internet were pharmaceuticals (like ProVigil) that I can’t take thanks to hypertension, simplifying your life (which doesn’t help when you’re already in the throes of the beast), treating depression if you have it (check!), and exercise.

That’s right — exercise.  When it’s hard to move… move more. It sounded bassackwards to me. I was actually angry thinking about it.

But it works!

According to the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD), “A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah demonstrated the benefits of exercise for people with MS. Those patients who participated in an aerobic exercise program had better cardiovascular fitness, better bladder and bowel function, less fatigue and depression, a more positive attitude and increased participation in social activities.”

More recently, a 2013 study conducted by scientists at the Division of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation at Istanbul University demonstrated that supervised group exercise training is effective in improving balance, functional status, spasticity, fatigue and quality of life in moderately affected people with multiple sclerosis, with no worsening of their clinical status.

So, despite my goo-like status late Tuesday, I cowgirled up and went to the gym. Mind over grey matter. I was honestly shocked by the immediate results.

Sure, I went slower on the stationary bike than I usually do (It was so tough!), but after about 20 minutes of entirely willpower-driven strenuous activity, I was no longer desperately wishing for sleep or even wanting to quit. I felt the heavy, pressing feeling lift. I suddenly had energy like it was a normal day. I was even able to finish up my 30 minutes on the bike and do a 15 minute cool-down on the treadmill. Like a boss.

Exercising = Having Energy

I have a theory about MS fatigue and when it hits me hard.

Last week, we went to the gym 4 times (M,T,Th, &F), and then we took the weekend off. After 2 full days without any exercise, I had some of the heaviest fatigue I’ve experienced… so I took Monday off too, thinking that my body needed the rest. (Wrong.)  Tuesday morning, I was certain I’d been run over by a steam roller in my sleep… but Tuesday night, I hit the gym. Today, after working out regardless of fatigue, I feel significantly better than I did the last 2 days.  If not for the tingling paresthesia in my back, I’d actually feel normal. Then again, I’m so used to the tinglies on my back that maybe this is “normal” for me.

Anyway, my theory is that my body now requires that I work out almost every day for it to function properly. When I take more than 1 day off from exercise, I experience fatigue. And fatigue sucks so much. It’s like gravity is trying to crush both your body and your spirit. Last night, I actually had the thought that cycling was like mining for energy… that cardio, for me, is like plugging myself into a charger. I honestly think that daily cardio exercise is going to be the only way to keep fatigue at bay.

If it really is this simple, maybe this crazy broad wasn’t as insane as I thought she was.

Neither of us is going to let MS win.

Paleo Mexican Chicken Tortilla-like Soup

mexican-soup

A New Take On An Old Favorite

One of my favorite puzzles in life is figuring out to take leftovers from one meal and transform them into something new and delicious for another meal.

Yesterday, I found myself looking at about 2 pounds-worth of leftover Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken*, trying to figure out what to do with it. We’d already used a pound of it as meat for fiesta nachos. Back when we weren’t keeping a Whole 30, we would use the meat for soft tacos and then use the leftovers to make Tex-Mex Chicken Soup (inspired by Tex-Mex Turkey Soup). Since this soup contains sour cream, corn, and beans, I knew we had to try a different recipe.

I searched the web for “paleo mexican chicken soup”, and immediately found a winner: Paleo Commfort Foods’ Chicken Tortilla-less Soup. I figured, since our chicken was already flavored with salsa and spices that we could skip the part of the recipe that talks about fixing the chicken. I was primarily interested in using the recipe to figure out  how much broth to use and what other vegetables to add. It served as a great inspiration for the soup I actually made.

Paleo Mexican Chicken Tortilla-like Soup

(Whole 30 compliant, Serves 8)

Ingredients

  • About 2 pounds of leftover Slow Cooker Cilantro Chicken
  • 4 cups of chicken stock or broth
  • 3 tsp (6 cloves) of garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP granulated onion (or 1 medium onion, diced)
  • 28 oz. fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded & diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded & diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded & minced
  • 1 orange bell pepper (red or yellow would work too). seeded & diced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Procedure

  1. Chop up all of your veggies and aromatics.
  2. Put all of the ingredients in a large pot (12 c. or greater) and stir to combine.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Enjoy!

I thought about some other flavors that we might add the next time. I think carrots would be a good addition because they’re sweet like corn. I’m also debating yellow squash.

* – When Adam and I fix Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken, we don’t use taco seasoning packets because of the extra, unnecessary stuff in most of them. Here’s what we do. The only difference now that we’re on the paleo diet is that we use salsa that doesn’t have any sugar in it. Tostitos medium is a good one. Trader Joe’s has a few good ones as well.

Non-Violent Revolution & Ending the Nanny State

One of the things I think a lot about is the corruption of our political and legal systems (and hence way of life) here in America, and trying to figure out how, as a citizen, I can help improve things.

America Is Broken

To put the problem succinctly, the American way of life that I was brought up believing was important to protect no longer exists. It has now become an ideal… a sort of imaginary utopia. As a child, living in that utopia, I was taught not to fear police, but to appreciate them. I grew up in a time where the 4th Amendment’s protections were strong and important. I didn’t need to fear that I would be detained by police because of my thoughts or opinions… but nowadays, it’s genuinely dangerous to write or talk about trying to change the system because planning any sort of revolution immediately falls into the category of terrorism.

It bothers me on a very deep level that we are now living in a nation where every electronic communication, whether it’s a cell phone call, text message, email, FB, Twitter, or a blog entry is automatically being collected by a government intelligence agency. It’s now known that our government can activate any webcam that’s connected to the internet to see what’s happening, even though a federal judge told the FBI not to.

The actions taken by our many intelligence agencies (DHS, FBI, CIA, NSA and regular law enforcement) presume guilt, rather than innocence, on the part of every citizen because it is absolutely impossible to have reasonable suspicion of illegal activity for every single citizen of our country. This kind of surveillance has a chilling effect on both free speech and freedom of association.

Many people are understandably afraid to discuss how bad things have really gotten because they are afraid of being labeled a terrorist. They would rather live as serfs in a country where they are repressed by the upper class and can’t say or do anything to actually affect the government than be jailed because they’re seen as terrorists for wanting a change in public policy to restore our freedom from unwarranted invasions by the government.

It boggles my mind that the kind of country we’re living in right now is the exact same kind of regime that we were taught to rage against and hate as children in school.

I remember in 3rd grade, crying for the kids in the U.S.S.R. who were just cogs in a communist system that didn’t allow them to grow up to be whoever they wanted to be… who couldn’t speak out against their oppression.

I remember the terror I felt as a Jewish girl learning about the political regime in the 1930s and 1940s in Germany, where citizens of many countries were too afraid of the Nazi government to stop the military from killing 20+ million of their friends and neighbors.

And now, in America of all places, we’re afraid of our own military intelligence agencies and police because Congress and the courts have stripped us of our reasonable expectation of privacy in communications with one another. We’re reasonably afraid because we have such a disproportionate amount of our population incarcerated compared to other countries. The USA comprises about 5% of the world population, but has 25% of the world’s prisoners. We have more than two million inmates. Imagine the entire population of Houston, TX. That’s how many people we have in prison.

Sure, people haven’t been thrown in jail simply for casually stating how they feel, but there have been a lot of people who have dealt with police brutality and jail time for protesting both the nanny state and insane wealth disparity in this country. (over 7,700 convictions so far)

I used to be genuinely proud to be American. I used to feel some amount of patriotism. The thing is, the intense upset feeling I have nowadays is probably more like the patriotism of our forefathers. I mean, the Revolutionary War was fought specifically because we didn’t want to be taxed and controlled by a regime that did not represent or protect our interests.

Looking at our current setup, that’s precisely what’s occurring again. 47% of Congress is comprised of members of the top 1% of the population which controls 35.4% of our country’s wealth. That’s incredibly disproportionate. Is it any wonder that Congress keeps passing laws that benefit the 1%, gut the middle class, and hurt the poor? Nothing is a stronger motivation for writing and passing laws that oppress the disenfranchised than self-interest. Shouldn’t Congress be staffed by people who genuinely care about their constituency’s well-being?

And the corruption doesn’t stop with the law makers. Our entire justice system has been so warped by financial corruption that a rich kid in Texas got no jail time whatsoever for a DUI that killed 4 pedestrians because he had “affluenza.” The court actually gave probation for killing 4 people because they believed the defendant was too rich to understand the difference between right and wrong.

Now, I graduated law school. I know all the defenses for DUI by heart. Being rich isn’t one of them. The only way it would make any sense is if they were using an insanity defense, and last time I checked, being rich was not considered a mental illness.

Worse yet, our legal system’s very processes are ripe with racism. That certainly doesn’t seem right for a country that is so bullish about the equality of every person that we’ve made it a part of our constitution.

So What Can We Do About It?

For several years now, I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do to help improve the situation. The unfortunate truth is that without an absurd amount of money, affecting political change from within Congress seems impossible.

Many of my friends have, at times, echoed the sentiment of the French before their bloody revolution where the lower and middle classes murdered their aristocracy. It makes sense. I mean, in France in 1787, their government wanted to tax the rich to fix a deficit problem, and the rich were like “screw that.” That lead to the Great Fear, where the lower class believed the king was conspiring with the upper class against the Third Estate.

The political climate leading up to the French Revolution was similar to our current situation. American citizens believe that the President, Supreme Court, and Congress are firmly in the pockets of an aristocracy of corporations. The 1% screams bloody murder when there is discussion of raising their taxes and throws around bald-face lies, like that taxing the rich negatively affects employment.

One of the toughest questions that we face, as citizens, is how to fight our corporate elite. The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United created two huge problems for the country. It disingenuously equated corporations with people and money with speech. But corporations can’t be killed like people… or jailed… and controlling interest in an American corporation can be held by anyone in the world. Moreover it created a horrible truth for us: If money equals speech, then those with the most money get the loudest voice.

Even if we took a page outta France’s playbook and brutally murdered anyone who makes a million or more per year, the bulk of their money still wouldn’t return to the populace, thanks to the way our tax laws are set up. Most millionaires bank off-shore to take advantage of the protections afforded by other countries.

And then there’s the fact that many of the corporations in our top 1% are, for all intents and purposes, completely lawless. Our banks were first too big to fail and were supported by the populace during hard times caused by bad decisions (many of which were illegal), and now have even been deemed too big to prosecute. The idea that our economy is actually regulated by our laws is a delusion.

Many folks have suggested that we essentially fight fire with fire and create more corporations like Citizens United – ones whose sole purpose is to raise funds from the 99% in an effort to affect Congress with our money all pooled together. The sad truth is that the wealth of the 99% is dwarfed by the money controlled by the 1%. Even if everyone in the 99% banded together and could agree on something (like that would ever happen), we still couldn’t buy Congress because the lawless 1% could outbid us. And then, if they have financial problems because of buying Congress, the 99% would again be forced to bail them out in an effort to stop our economy from imploding.

So, really, what can we do?

Not much. Since Citizens United equated money with speech, the Supreme Court essentially decided that the only way to have a voice in politics is to have money, and lots of it. The only way I know to fight against big corporations is to choose to not give them our money. It may not seem like much, but money is where corporations get a voice and the power to affect our laws. So, we’ve got to vote with our pocketbooks.

1.) Shop at Mom & Pop shops, and stay away from Wal-Mart and other chains like it.
2.) Cook more food at home, and stay away from multinational fast food chains. Support local non-chain restaurants.
3.) Shop from local farms by joining a CSA and shopping at small, local grocery stores. Stop supporting big grocery chains.
4.) Move your money from a “too big to have rules” bank into a local credit union.
5.) Pick up sewing so that you aren’t dependent on big companies for your clothes.

The sad thing is that even if thousands of people did those things, the corporations and millionaires would still have more money than us.

At the end of the day, the only thing I think will make a big enough impact on Congress would be a nationwide strike of workers… but most of America is too poor to be able to afford to go on strike.

If anyone has any other ideas, I’d be really glad to hear them, because I hate to think that we’re living in a hopeless dystopia. We need to reclaim our government.

Much like Lawrence Lessig, I have hope because I love my home.

Woah, We’re Halfway There! Woah-oh, Livin On A Prayer!

15 days down, 15 to go.

It’s January 15! That means we’re halfway done with our Whole30! That rocks my socks off. So far, the thing that my meal plan has been best for is pulling up recipes to make grocery lists. We haven’t even kind of stuck to what meals we planned to have at what time. We buy ingredients for 5 meals or so at a time, and have really enjoyed many of the dishes.

Here are the dishes that we’ve liked the best:
A surprise favorite: Not Beanie Weenie – We never would have tried this recipe if we hadn’t found the Whole30 approved hot dogs! It’s a solid recipe, but it tastes even better if you add some yellow mustard. Best part — it’s a 1 pot meal.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie – Our recipe was inspired by this one. It’s one of our favorites because it’s really straightforward and easy. It also was very comforting and tasty!

Baked Pork Chops with Apple-Thyme Gravy – So Good! The gravy itself was more like a sauce than a gravy because it wasn’t thick. You couldn’t really taste the apple, but it was still so full of umami goodness that it was worth mentioning.

There was only one real problem with this recipe on its own. The cooking time suggested on the recipe’s website is cah-rayzee. Pork chops should never take an hour and fifteen minutes to cook in an oven set to 400 F. If you leave them in that long, you will end up with hockey pucks instead of pork chops. Instead, we stuck a meat thermometer in the thickest chop we were using and took it out of the oven when the pork’s internal temp reached 145 F. We let the meat rest for a few minutes, and it came up to 150 F, which is ideal for food safety. It took maybe 20 minutes, which made this meal both mouthwatering and quick. We paired it with baked sweet potato.

Last, but certainly not least, last night, we really enjoyed Tropical Grilled Flank Steak – Possibly the easiest and best tasting recipe we’ve tried yet. Instead of adding minced garlic and chopped chives or scallions, I coated both sides of the flank steak with granulated onion powder and granulated garlic powder. Also instead of mincing the ginger, I grated it, so that it would stick to the steak better. It was so much less work than the update I made to my Mom and Grammy’s flank steak recipe, and it was just as good. This will probably become a part of our regular meal rotation even after the Whole30 is over. We paired it with steamed broccoli.

Our Favorite Snacks

One of the most important things for us has been having snack food, for those moments when you’re totally hungry and don’t have time to fix something. Here’s what we’ve been enjoying.

Dried, Non-Sweetened Organic Mango Slices
Honeycrisp Apples
Navel Oranges
Dried, Salted Plantain Chips
Sunflower Seeds
Unsalted Cashews
Homemade Beef Jerky

What’s Next?

With the Whole30 being halfway through, I have a much better handle on how to cook for it. If a recipe has more than 5-6 non-spice ingredients, I usually don’t have the time or patience to make it.

So what’s on the menu in the next several days?
Our chili recipe, which I’m planning to make tonight. (I’ve gotta get off this computer and go shopping for the ingredients!)

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken – an old favorite that we ate even when we weren’t paleo! We double Adam’s Taco Seasoning and add it in place of the packet of taco seasoning in the recipe. We’ll definitely make some paleo tortilla chips to go with it, and probably some guacamole too.

Keeping with the slow cooker theme, we’re also slated to try NomNomPaleo’s Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs and Slow Cooker Cheater Pot Stew. I’m a little worried about the pork stew, just because Adam doesn’t like cabbage usually. Sometimes, he digs bok choy, though… so I’m hopeful that this recipe passes his palate’s test.

We’re also going to try Buffalo Ranch Chicken Meatballs, which, when paired with celery sticks, looks like something easy and yummy for supper. I’m thinking of adding some paprika and cayenne pepper to the meatball itself, for a little extra kick.

This food isn’t gonna buy or cook itself, so I’d better wrap it up and get to the store. Hope everyone’s having a great day!

What to eat when you’re sick and keeping a paleo Whole 30.

Being Sick Is No Fun.

Last week wasn’t such a great week, health-wise, for my husband, Adam. He was diagnosed with strep throat and a flu-like virus that completely took him out of commission from Wednesday night until about mid-day Sunday. Miraculously, even with an immune system that’s operating at 60%, I did not get sick! I am praying that I am not in an incubation period, and that I don’t end up ill in about a week or two.

Sadly, we couldn’t go to the gym on Monday or Tuesday of last week because of the polar vortex making temperatures in Chicago dip to forty degrees below zero. The gym was closed! Adam was diagnosed Wednesday, and he wasn’t feeling better until yesterday – so that’s a whole week of working out that we lost. 😦 I guess it’s better for us to have let our bodies rest and been considerate of the other gym-goers than to have pushed ourselves for the sake of keeping with our plans.

Speaking of keeping with our plans… we ran into a hard time on Friday. When either Adam or I have gotten really sick in the past, our diets were incredibly grain-heavy — noodle soups, fresh bread for dipping, Chinese food… that used to be the order of the day. But, you can’t do that when you’re paleo.

My Ginger Garlic Chicken Soup

Thursday and Friday for lunch, I made my ginger garlic chicken soup, which was great. I cut up about 12-15 baby carrots, 3 stalks of celery, and 2 chicken breasts, grated about a half inch of fresh ginger and 5-6 garlic cloves, and added 4 cups of organic chicken broth, 3 cups of water, 1 bay leaf, 1 TBSP of granulated onion (you could always sub 1 medium onion, chopped), a half tsp of poultry seasoning, some kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. I let it simmer together for an hour or so, and we had some really comforting, delicious soup.

Unfortunately, that was all I had in my bag of tricks. I became slightly panicked on Friday night because I couldn’t think of anything else that was Whole30 compliant for me to make for dinner that would soothe Adam’s cold.

The Foodee Project & Chowstalker to the Rescue!

Everyone who knows me well knows that I am a research fanatic. The first thing I did was to Google “paleo while sick” and “whole30 while sick” to get some results where I could see what others who were keeping this diet do when they’re feeling ill.

I was shocked and saddened to see that there were few answers or suggestions for anything other than scrambled eggs and bone broth. Heck, some people even advocated fasting. I thought that was crazy. Fortunately, there were a few more helpful suggestions on TheClothesMakeTheGirl – she suggested zucchini noodles with ghee and mashed potatoes. Both are very respectable suggestions. Unfortunately, Adam wasn’t in the mood for any of that.

So, I hit up Chowstalker and The Foodee Project for Whole 30 recipe suggestions. I found a lot of good options, and I thought I should share them with you! I need to add all of these to the Paleo Compendium.

Soups

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Roasted, Curried Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup
Curried Apple Soup
Sweet Potato Basil Soup
Indian Spiced Sweet Potato & Bacon Soup
Beef & Mushroom Soup
Spicy Chicken Vegetable Soup
Smoky Mexican Tortilla-less Chicken Soup
Tuscan Chicken Soup
Ginger Chicken Soup
Curried Cauliflower Soup
Golden Cauliflower Soup
Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup
Avocado Soup with Cucumber
Gazpacho With Zucchini Pasta
Squash & Crab Bisque

Not Soup


Fall Harvest Mash

Butternut Squash & Yam Mash
Turnip-Cauliflower Mash
Lemon Cucumber Noodles with Cumin

Feeling Better

Today is Monday, and Adam is back at work. The sun is shining, and temperatures are back up above freezing. That means that tonight, we’re definitely headed to the gym, and that I need to get something started in the slow cooker about… now, actually. (Geesh! Better finish this entry.) Tonight, we’re having Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken & Sweet Potatoes.

Hope you’re all doing well!

Records

Chicago Record: Broken

Thanks to the polar vortex, currently in Chicago, it is -16° F degrees outside, with a wind chill factor that makes it feel like it’s -42° F.

Today, Chicago Public Schools are closed. That’s all but unheard of in a city where they bust out the salt and plows at the first sight of snowflakes. Many people are missing work today because some of the public transportation trains aren’t functional in this weather. Heck, even our local YMCA is closed! (No gym for Adam and me today.) The weather has actually broken all of this city’s previous records for cold. It snowed for 3 days straight, but now that it’s actually at its coldest, the sun is shining brightly. I’m definitely not complaining about that. It just deceptively looks like a good idea to go outside.(It’s not. You can get frostbite from being outside for 10 minutes!)

Sounding like a broken record… The Whole 30

Adam and I have been doing well on the Whole 30. I can’t believe that it’s only 1/6. How is that possible? It feels like we’ve been on this diet for-ev-er, and not just 6 days. There were 2 things that made it really tough to stay on track during the last week – but I am really proud of Adam and myself for staying true to our course.

First, we received a box of chocolate-covered strawberries from Sherrie’s Berries. Fortunately, we were able to give them to Adam’s folks, and they didn’t go to waste. Receiving chocolate strawberries and not eating them felt wrong. On the one hand, I felt a moral imperative to eat them because they were a present from my parents, and I *love* chocolate strawberries. On the other hand, I wanted to maintain integrity to the diet because I’m trying to help my blood pressure so that we can get pregnant sometime soon. Apparently, I’m really dedicated to this kid.

It was even harder to keep the diet on Saturday night when we went out to Chuck’s BBQ for a friend’s birthday. I didn’t have a hard time with avoiding the 120 beers on tap, but the pervasive smell of sweet BBQ sauce made my brain want to go splodey. Appetizers were ordered: BBQ nachos and cheesesticks. The nachos smelled so good, I actually whimpered. Surprisingly, I didn’t care about the cheesesticks. Fortunately, there were a few dishes on the menu that were paleo-friendly. Adam got the roasted chicken with salad and I got cochinita pibil with cajun green beans and salad. Were they delicious dishes? Yes. Did it make it any easier to not think about the plates of BBQ nachos on the table? Not even kind of. Thus, I think I’m going to try not to go to anymore restaurants this month. The temptation is just too intense.

We haven’t kept true to the meal planning chart that I made because we’ve made food as we’ve felt like it. We also managed to source some ingredients at Trader Joe’s that we weren’t expecting to be able to find, so we got to try some recipes for which I hadn’t planned. BTW, if you’re curious, Applegate Organic Beef Hot Dogs are totally yummy, and Paleo Parents recipe for “Not Beenie Weenies” is totally good with a little mustard.

Stationary Bike Personal Record: Broken

The plan of doing 45 minutes a day of cardio may have been a bit lofty. Ok, so it was totally unrealistic… but good things have come from trying to achieve that goal.

Last week, we went to the gym 5 times. One of those days, I had to quit 20 minutes in because I was so fatigued, but I hit 45 minutes the other days. As for breaking my biking record: in the past, I have, at the most, been able to use the stationary bike to go 6 miles in ~30 minutes. On Thursday of last week, I biked for 30 minutes and made it 6.7 miles! Sure, it’s only another seven tenths of a mile, but it shows me that I’m getting stronger and faster. It encourages me to keep going.

Just for the record…

As for overall health, things have been really wonky this past week. Monday, I was too fatigued to keep going after 20 minutes at the gym. Thursday, I was so fatigued from MS that when I woke up, I couldn’t physically get out of bed until 2:30 p.m. (And *WOW* did I have to pee when I finally managed to move.) I felt better after lunch, though, so I still did 45 minutes at the gym that day. I felt good for a few days, but then yesterday, out of nowhere, I had a ton of seizures.

I really hate the rare occasions when I don’t have an aura and just spontaneously have seizures. I actually fell yesterday. That hasn’t happened in a long time. I only know this because today, my left knee and hip are hurting, and I have a vague recollection of waking up on the floor.

So, there was no gym this weekend, and there won’t be any today. Life goes on. At least, I’m doing the best I can. Maybe I’ll do some yoga here at home.

Spinning round and round…

I’ve been really struggling to not relapse into depression recently. It’s sometimes very tough work battling irrational thoughts.

My mom unintentionally pushed one of my FML (fuck my life) buttons hardcore a few days ago by sending me a job posting and suggesting that I apply. We talked, and I understand that she was only suggesting that I apply for the job because she was thinking how lucky the company would be to have me on board, but her explanation didn’t change the fact that being sent a job opening and suggestion to apply highlighted the facts that I am both disabled and am not working.

One of the things I really devoted myself to learning with my therapist last year was finding my worth without employment. She consistently made me acknowledge the fact that having a job doesn’t give a person any more or less worth to the world. I worked hard to be able to say and believe that my worth as a person exists in the fact that we are each unique expressions of God that can only be experienced for a limited time. Even a clone wouldn’t be the same me.

I think one of the hardest things that I’ve had to accept in the last several years is that all of the planning in the world doesn’t really matter when reality smacks you in the face with an impediment. What matters is how you react to the impediment. What matters is resilience.

I have a hard time coping with the reality of not only not being employed, but also not actually being employable. On the rare, wonderful days when I feel well, I irrationally feel like I’m stealing… like I should magically have a job to go to… as though I should only have financial support if I’m feeling bad, which is ridiculous, because with MS, I *am* genuinely always ill. On the days when I feel particularly bad, I am intensely grateful to not have the added responsibility of a job to deal with.

When confronted with thoughts about employment, I immediately flash back to the countless lectures Mom and Dad gave me and my brother while we were growing up about the importance of personal financial responsibility, stability, and independence from others… and I feel deep shame that I haven’t figured out a way to be the independent, self-sufficient woman that my parents wanted me to be, and who I aspired to be, despite my health complications. Not to mention the promise I made myself after my first husband gutted our bank account when he left – which was that I would never be dependent on anyone ever again. That was my whole reason for going to law school. Oops. Guess that didn’t exactly work out.

It only complicates things for me emotionally when friends-of-friends do any of the following: 1.) Ask me what I do for a living 2.) Go on political rants about makers and takers 3.)Talk about how their relative with MS works just fine. Nevermind the fact that I have seizures or that MS is different for everyone who has it. All 3 of these things have happened in the last 3 days.

Living with intense shame is miserable. There’s only 2 ways to fix it: either live in concert with your integrity (which is not an option here) or change your attitude. Changing your personal views about something that previously was such an integral part of your identity isn’t easy. It takes time, and there are always relapses to your old way of thinking that you have to fix.

So, I’m doing what I can. I’m staying busy. I’m trying to focus on things I can do, rather than what I can’t. I’m looking to the future with hope.

And my inner-juke box is playing Are You Satisfied? by Marina and the Diamonds on repeat.