Monday, October 26, 2015

St George Marathon 2015

The first Saturday in October was the big event that I have been struggling to train for all summer. Between kids, work, my hip injury flaring up occasionally and my demanding graduate school program I was not able to train as much as I would have liked. I still managed to do my long runs almost every weekend and cross-trained at least a few days every week.
 Four weeks before the marathon I did a twenty mile run and I felt really good. The following week I came down with a cold so I scaled way back on my training, trying to give my body time to recover. The day before the marathon I woke up feeling worse than ever so I took it easy and drank lots of fluids.
 The morning of the marathon I woke up at three and I felt ok, not amazing, but not bad so I decided to go for it. My sister-in-law and I headed to the starting line together, and hung out around the
campfires while we waited for the race to start.
 Usually it takes a few miles for my legs to get warmed up and get in the groove. After that, the running gets fun. That never happened. I never felt able to kick into gear. Almost every stinking mile was miserable. It was so frustrating to see people around me walking faster than I could run.
 Around mile 8 my knees started hurting. Around mile 19 my ovaries started wigging out (It's a thing they do a few times a year, treatment is worse than dealing with it.) and I cried silent tears when the pains would hit. I kept pushing because I wanted the thing to be done. Surprisingly my old hip injury wasn't causing much problems.
 One of the great things about the St. George Marathon is the community is so supportive. Thousands of people come out to cheer on the runners and give them snacks as they pass. I loved the lady who baked chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies. It was the perfect mid-race snack. The race support had lots of small banana and orange pieces along the way which were greatly appreciated, along with lots of water and gatorade. And my neighbor and her kids were passing out popsicles around mile 23.
 I pushed through and my family was near the finish line to cheer me on, so I smiled through the last
little bit, but wanted to break down. That thing was so hard. It really ranked up there with natural childbirth (which I have unfortunately experienced). But I did it. I finished at 5:26:32, averaging 12:27 per mile. Not my best work, but I pushed through every painful stinkin' mile.
 Then I went home and blacked out a few times. I really thought I was going to die. I remember falling in the bathroom and thinking 'Oh, shoot. I've made a really big mistake.' In between passing out I tried giving orders to my husband that were totally incomprehensible because I was so delirious. Eventually I made him take my vital signs, which were elevated for my normals, but not high enough to warrant medical treatment. (But I did contact my friend who was an ER CNS for reassurance.) I drank lots of fluids and ate as much as I felt my stomach could handle. I felt pretty weak, sore and loopy for the rest of the day. Looking back, I know that I followed all of the advice that they give to runners, I just thinking running a marathon + exploding ovaries + having a cold was just too much for my body to handle. I would say that what happened after looked a lot like heat stroke, but my temp didn't get into the heat stroke range.
I'm feeling much better now, I took a few weeks off of running to recover as well as take care of my sick family. I think I'm going to take a long break from marathons, if I ever do them again. I like the half-marathon pace. That length of race is fun. More than twenty miles plus random stuff that life sometimes throw at you, and it's just not fun anymore. I guess the lesson learned from this experience is you can't kick ass ALL the time, also never run a marathon while sick.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Home Remedy for Swimmer's Ear

When my husband was growing up, he and all of his siblings were on the swim team. More than one
of them were afflicted with swimmer's ear. Swimmer's ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. This
happens when water stays in the ear canal and creates a fertile environment for bacterial growth. Ear infections that are not treated can lead to more serious problems like hearing loss. At one point my mother-in-law got a 1 oz bottle of ear drops for one of her son's. It cost $50. (And that was years ago.) When he had used them up she called the clinic for a refill prescription. The nurse told her 'Just use Everclear alcohol. That's basically what the drop are.' And the last time I checked you can get a 16 oz bottle of Everclear alcohol for $4.

For years I have kept a small bottle with a dropper filled with Everclear in the back of my medicine cupboard. On the occasion that my kids or the neighbors kids came down with an ear infection I have put a few drops in their ears. The alcohol is effective in killing the infection, but it burns.

This week my professor mentioned another alternative. She recommends the following recipe to her patients:

1 oz white vinegar
1 oz rubbing alcohol
Use a few drops in the effected ear, or 1 drop in each ear after swimming.

Both vinegar and rubbing alcohol are effective in killing the kind of bacteria that you would find on your skin or in your ears. And my guess is that the vinegar mixture would be less painful than straight high proof alcohol. In any case, there are simple, cheap and effective ways of treating swimmer's ear so kids can keep enjoying their pool time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

10 Ways to Stay Healthy When You are a Parent in School

I often hear the complaint- "It is so hard to be healthy when you are a parent in school." Yes, yes it is.
When you are focusing on your education doesn't mean that you want to ignore your health, because you really can't afford to get sick. You have school and family obligations that don't go away when you need a sick day. However it can be really hard to squeeze those healthy habits in with your responsibilities that are tied to parenting, schooling and/or work.  Here are a few ideas to stay healthy while taking on school, parenting and generally trying to be awesome.

  1. Set realistic expectations- You don't have to do all the healthy things everyday. There are so many hours in a day and you have school work to do. Don't beat yourself up that you don't have a six-pack while you are writing your thesis or that sometimes your kids are not eating enough vegetables. Make reasonable health goals for yourself and realize that it's ok if you aren't perfect at all the things all the time.
  2. Find ways to multi-task- Get your exercise in while you chase your kids at the park. Do sit-ups while you listen to an online lecture. Prepare your meals while you listen to a recorded presentation. Listen to a relevant audio book while you run. Multi-tasking can be overdone, but it can work if you can combine something mindless (exercise, chopping veggies) with something that you have to think about.
  3. Commit to do something for your health everyday. It doesn't have to be running 10 miles. It can be drinking enough water, eating a salad and walking around the block. Small steps forward are better than no steps, or steps backward.
  4. Get yourself a water cup with a straw Keep it full of water and next to your computer/textbooks, so you can sip it constantly while you study. Water is an amazing substance that is cheap/free. Being well-hydrated helps prevent a multitude of ailments. Water literally enables all of your cells to function better. It reduces headaches, helps you focus, curbs appetites and cravings and gives you more energy. If you want to know how much you need take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 2/3. That is the amount of water in ounces that you should drink everyday. (Possibly more if you are exercising a lot or depending on the weather.)
  5. Ditch your chair. Sitting in a chair for hours is bad for your health. If you have to sit, try an exercise ball. Sitting on an exercise ball does a few things for you 1) It reduces back and hip pain. 2)It forces you to use your core muscles more than sitting in a chair does 3) Can help improve your balance. Standing at your computer can also be a good option if you can adjust your screen to make that feasible. Try reading your textbooks while laying down. Switch it up.
  6. Plan healthy meals- Don't leave what you eat for dinner up to whatever you can forage at the end of the day. Even if you don't have time every day to cook, commit to have 4 balanced dinners each week, or whatever you think you can handle. Over the weekend make a plan of what you will eat in the next week. Include some salads. Make sure you have the ingredients available so your plans don't fall apart while you're trying to prepare given healthy meal and your kids are demanding food and attention. When you are prepared it takes less will power to make healthy choices.
  7. Take exercise breaks After I have been studying for several hours it helps me to stay sane to walk away and exercise for 30 minutes. When the outside weather is unpleasant I like to do a 21 Day Fix Extreme workout at home. Other days I go for a run. Find whatever exercise you enjoy and go with it. You can find a short workout on Youtube or even just do a set of jumping jacks. Taking exercise breaks can make your study time more effective.
  8. Plan healthy snacks- If you have healthy food available that is what you will eat. Some easy examples: carrot sticks and hummus, apples with peanut butter, string cheese, grapes, yogurt with granola, etc. Sometimes it helps to prep healthy snacks (chop veggies, put in containers or baggies) on the weekend, so that they are convenient for you throughout the week.
  9. Find friends that support you in your goals- Find friends who are also in school and trying to eat healthy and exercise. If you don't know anyone in real life there are plenty of Facebook groups where you can find support and recipes.
  10. Take a few minutes to meditate- Take 5 minutes to take deep breaths, remind yourself that you can do this and that in the long run many of the little things that are causing you stress will not matter.
To all you parents out there who are also in school, I salute you. Don't give up!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Recent Races: Mapleton Fun Run and Harry Potter 5K

In Utah some people celebrate the 24th of July by dressing up in 19th century clothing, some celebrate by consuming pie and beer, but in our family it is another excuse to do a race together, followed by crazy amounts of fireworks in the evening. This year we did the Mapleton 1 Mile Fun Run. Except certain children who shall remain nameless were uncooperative about getting out of bed and getting to this race, even though they had enthusiastically agreed to this event before hand.  My child who loves running the most is the same child who hates mornings the most. This is somewhat of a conflict of interests. We got to the race, long after it started and by the time we finished the finish line was taken down to start the 5k. But it was at this race that my kids got to meet one of their new cousins for the first time, so everyone could be cheerful about that. I felt like the tech shirts and snacks were decent and I would probably do it again when my child who hates mornings is old enough to left at home alone.

This is our fam right now (minus one sister-in-law)
Then to celebrate Harry Potter's birthday we did a 5k to support the Salt Lake City Children's Justice
Finishers medal and some of those who dressed up
Center, put together by Geeked Out Running. This race was a lot of fun. Tons of runners and staff were dressed in costumes from the Harry Potter films. The medals were also fun and my kids have loved wearing their race shirts. There were so many great costumes that I did not manage to take pictures of because I was too busy trying to get my kids through the race. After the race there was a large snake that the kids could touch (that was my youngest's favorite part) and owls that you could take picture with. I also liked the Harry Potter themed motivational signs along the way like "I solemnly swear that I am running for lots of good." Downsides: the path was not very wide considering how many runners were on it, and the race didn't start until 9 am and it is summer, which means it was already getting very warm and all my kids were pretty grumpy by the end. The race was in a park in West Jordan and we ran around it four times. My oldest wanted to go faster so I ran with her and was hoping that we could lap my husband and the younger kids, except she lost motivation as it got warmer. So my husband ended up by himself and at one point was carrying our middle child on his back while pushing our youngest in the stroller, until he figured out how to squish both kids into a one-child jogging stroller. Seriously props to him. It was fun, but I wouldn't do it again unless it started at least 30 minutes earlier in the day.
The albino Burmese python and a couple owls (and my animal loving girls)
A picture of the whole fam (or those who were there) and my husband the hero

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thoughts on Researching Homeless Youth

Graduate school is hard. Period. Graduate school with small children, I already know that I am a crazy person. People remind me of this ALL the time.
 This semester I am doing a group project about
finding health promotion interventions for homeless youth. One of my jobs in this group project is to find what research has already been done on mental health and suicide among homeless youth. I have to say it is so emotionally draining. I read these articles with hypotheses and theories about what contributes to mental health issues and suicide rates and as technical as it sounds, it's not. Every one of those numbers represents a real child who is going through some really terrible things. The statistics, the details are just ugly. I want to set it aside. But I can't really, finals, end of semester deadlines and all that. (Ok, maybe I can for a minute to write a blog post and to help me process it.) And unpleasant as it is for me to read article after article about kids whose daily life is so terrible that they feel taking their life is the best answer, it is worse for them. It puts things into perspective. My life is pretty amazing. Graduate school has been beastly hard, but I WILL get through it. I have a comfortable home and even though I have to take out mad student loans, we always have food. I have the opportunity to support and love my kids in a way that they will probably never really experience that ugly side of existence. I have friends, family and a husband who support me in little and big ways. I am so grateful for all of that. It make me feel that as blessed as I am, I need to do more. I'm in a place right now, where that is hard. I don't have all the skills that are required to address their needs, but I'm working on getting some. For now I have to be content to study and research, keep loving my kids so they don't get to that place and I can speak out.
 I don't think most people are aware of how big and ugly this problem. It's not a pleasant one to look at, but it effects us in big ways and it is getting bigger. More homeless youth means more crime, which costs us as victims and also in the funds required to put the youth through the criminal system. Homeless youth means more teen pregnancies which is not a good idea for either child involved, and negatively effects the community in many ways. Homeless youth most often take one of two paths- dying young or remaining chronically homeless and on the outskirts of society. In either scenario, we as a society lose. But if we can remember that they are human beings and they just need love, I strongly believe that we can find solutions. It is cheaper to give them housing than to charge them with the crimes that they commit trying to survive, significantly cheaper and it results in better long-term outcomes. We as a society can choose to love them and try to help them and everyone benefits. I'll get off my soapbox, but as you are involved in your communities, try to support local efforts that help these kids and support politicians who are willing to take on this issue.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


 This semester I am taking advanced nursing research. Part of that is discussing the qualities that define good research. One of those qualities is authenticity. Authentic research means that everyone
had a chance to give their input. This input leads to insights and improvements. Authenticity leads to increased understanding of self and others. That kind of introspection leads to more thought and all of these insights and improvements lead to action.
 It's obvious why authenticity in nursing research is important. (I have dozens of mind gears turning of how I can use this in my future practice, but I'll save those ideas for when they are more fleshed out.) If we skew results to what we think we should find instead of what we actually find we can not effectively address problems. And really, what's the point of doing research that is inauthentic? To produce dishonest  and inauthentic research is not only wildly unethical, it is down right dangerous and it minimizes the validity of evidence-based practice. (The one study linking MMR to autism that was proven to be fraudulent comes to mind. ) That is why it is important that nursing researchers consult with patients other providers to hear their opinions. That is why peer review is an essential step in the research process.
 As I was reading about what makes authentic research, I couldn't help but notice that authenticity is also important in organizations and relationships. If you have a company that listens to their customers and employees they are able to use those insights to improve their product, to think about what that feedback and use it to get a better result. The same goes for a family. If you are in a place where you can be honest about who you are and how you feel, you are more likely to connect with other family members. When you are authentic about who you are, you are quietly giving other permission to do the same. When everyone can be really honest and listen to one another, it improves communication and it helps everyone to be more effective! Sometimes I feel in relationships we don't address issues because we feel so much pressure to be perfect 'I'm not supposed to be upset about X'. This leads to people not talking about it and not trying to solve the problem. Ignoring problems usually doesn't make them go away. In the past couple years my husband and I came to a place where we decided to be more authentic with one another and our relationship is a hundred times better. We are better partners and we are better parents. We as a team are getting more done and life is more enjoyable too. (Not that things are perfect, they're not. Stressful things still happen and there is that whole graduate school business that I deal with on a daily basis.) Authenticity is powerful.
 Being authentic can be really difficult, especially if you are living in a culture that has so much pressure on you to be very different than who you truly are. Or if you made yourself vulnerable in the past and the result was that you were hurt by the person that you were sharing with. But life is too short to spend it trying to be someone other than who you are. To paraphrase Brene Brown, in order to be successful and love others, you have to love yourself. You have to BE yourself. Recognize that you are loveable and go out and share who you truly are with the world.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trail Mix

During our last Costco trip my oldest asked for trail mix. The problem is that she hates raisins, so I feel like buying it is a waste. Today we made our own, by basically throwing in a bunch of stuff that we had in our pantry. It turned out AMAZING and my kids had fun helping me make it. Plus it has less salt and sugar than the prepackaged stuff.  Here's what we threw in it:

Trail Mix
6 oz dark chocolate covered cranberries
3 oz Sunny Seeds (chocolate covered sunflower seeds)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup dried blueberries
2 cups dried cinnamon apples
2 cups pop corn (no butter or salt)
1 cup pretzel goldfish

1. Let one of the kids stir it all together in a large bowl. 2. Bag it up for adventures and road trips. :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mom, why are we going in circles?

Today I took a back winding road to take my kids to rock climbing camp. Because there are fewer stoplights it takes just as long as the straighter, more highly trafficked path, plus the scenery is much
nicer. On the way my son asked "Mom, why are we going in circles?" I laughed. "We're not buddy. We're on our way to where we need to go, this road is just winding."
 I thought about this and how it applies to exercise and life sometimes. Sometimes we feel like we are going in circles. We're doing the same workouts or eating the same salads and we don't feel like we are making progress. We still have love handles, we still don't have a six-pack. It may feel like we are just going in circles, when in reality we are making progress. Our muscles are getting stronger. Our cardiac system is cleaner and more efficient when we exercise and eat healthy. But it takes awhile. It's not any one magic workout. There is not any one magic meal and suddenly you have hit your fitness goals. It's about the culmination of thousands of small decisions.
 Sometimes in life I feel like I am going in circles. There are days where I feel like my efforts have not yielded the results I want. I still have debt and this year has shown that things often don't go as planned. Although so many things seem like I am going in circles, I'm still making progress, I am still going somewhere. I have taken almost half the classes towards my Master's degree. Sometimes it feels like we are not making the progress we want to because the road is congested or winding, but that doesn't mean that we aren't getting stronger and we aren't moving ahead. And just because it feels like you are moving in circles does not mean that you should give up!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Goddess Noodles with Broccoli

 Here's another winner from Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week, with a few minor changes. The original recipe is all broccoli, no cauliflower, but either way I think the addition of red pepper flakes is a nice touch. I left the red pepper flakes and chives out of my kids' portions, but otherwise, they ate it and loved it.

Goddess Noodles
12 oz whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoons plus one teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped green onions
3 cups chopped broccoli
3 cups chopped cauliflower
8 oz of tempeh, diced into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup warm water

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions 2. Mix water, lemon juice, tahini, nutritional yeast,
red pepper flakes and salt. (Tahini thickness may vary by brand, you may need to add a little bit more water to get a smoother consistency.) 3. Saute tempeh in 1 Tablespoon of oil until browned (roughly 10 minutes). Transfer to a plate. 4. In the same pan saute broccoli and cauliflower in 1 Tablespoon of oil. When the broccoli & cauliflower are nearly done, add garlic and remaining oil. 5. Once the veggies are cooked, add green onions, pasta and tahini sauce. Toss to coat.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Healthy Ideas for Picky Eaters

People who have met my children, particularly my son, have heard tales of their pickyness. He is very fortunate to have been born in the time and place that he was, otherwise he would probably be a early childhood mortality statistic. As a toddler we had to put him on appetite stimulants, he was that determined not to eat. Keeping them alive this long, I've read dozens of books and articles about trying to get kids to eat healthy foods. Here are some ideas that have worked for me, they may not
work for everyone, but they are certainly worth a shot.

  1. Be an example- When your kids see you eating healthy foods, they are more likely to try it themselves. My youngest has no recollection of our family eating 'the standard American diet'. Most of the time if she sees me eating a salad, she would rather have that versus what my older kids are requesting.
  2. Dip- For some reason kids find foods you can dip very appealing. And why not? Dip=party food. It can be healthy dip too! My girls love carrots in hummus. Even Mr. Picky himself will sometimes eat carrots in ranch. Whole grain tortilla chips in salsa are a big hit at our house, as are cut veggies in tzatziki. Roasted cauliflower in peanut sauce is a winner too.
  3. Get them to help. Kids are more interested in eating things that they helped purchase, grow and/or prepare. 
  4. Get their input. Ask them 'What fruits and vegetables would you like to eat?'
  5. Keep dried fruit, nuts or popcorn in your car/purse. More often than not, when we are on the go, the kids complain of being hungry. If they are really hungry, and not just bored, they'll eat the healthy snacks that I keep on me. If not they can wait.
  6. Always have cold water available. My kids will always choose the ice water over the room temperature juice. Before we leave the house, I try to make sure that every kid has their respective water bottles and they have fresh ice water in them.
  7. Keep trying, keep exposing them to healthy foods. Try exposing them to foods prepared in different ways. I was thoroughly amazed when one day I roasted Brussels sprouts and my oldest couldn't get enough of them. She ate half a pan, when the week before she wouldn't touch them.
  8. Mix veggies in smoothies. I try not to rely completely on this. I want my kids to learn to eat healthy whole foods, but I am not above blending spinach, beets or carrots into smoothies (or soups or sauces).
  9. Stick to your rules. In our house, if my kids want a treat they have to have a fruit or a vegetable first, and they need to have eaten whatever the previous meal was.
  10. Make it fun. Arrange foods into faces or use cookie or sandwich cutters to give the food fun shapes.
  11. Stay positive. Don't get angry and keep encouraging them to try new things
I can't say that my kids always willingly eat healthy foods, but we have made so much progress!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Series of Misadventures and Failures that was Living in Colorado

 I think I have been asked hundreds of times why we left Colorado, so it's about time that I just blogged about it. It makes it easier for everyone.
Last August we moved to the Denver area so I could attend graduate school at the University of Colorado. (Which was an adventure in and of itself.) When we arrived we discovered that our apartment was 650 square feet smaller than our contract stated. In fact apartments as big as our contract stated did not exist. They gave us one that was 50 sq ft bigger than the first and a free garage and storage unit to put our stuff in. As there was a housing shortage and we were there with our moving truck, we didn't have a whole lot of options. The apartment was brand new and the location seemed great so we took it.
 I checked out the elementary school for our kids before we selected our place. It seemed very close in scores to the one my kids attended previously. But my kids were bullied, so I started volunteering in their classes so I could be more aware of what was going on. I felt like their teachers were great, I LOVED their teachers. However, there were other factors that made it hard, like a very large number of kids in their classrooms who didn't speak any English, and an unusually high percentage of kids with special needs. As great as these ladies are, they can only do so much.
 In November I was notified that I was a possible match to donate blood stem cells to someone with leukemia through the Be the Match program. That was super exciting.
 In December my son's 1st grade teacher quit. It was hard and she decided it wasn't what she wanted to do.
 In January I started a temporary nursing position that I was super excited about. It didn't work out very well. After a month I requested that I be oriented as much as they had promised, and they fired me. It would have been nice if they fired me the week before we bought a second car instead of the week after. :/
 A week before my winter semester started I began having intense abdominal pain. After a couple days of that, I went into the emergency room. They found a hemorrhaging mass (cyst) the size of an
orange on my ovary. They told me it might be cancer and if I needed more pain meds before I could see  a specialist I should just come back to the ER. I know that sounds completely ridiculous, but I am not making this up.
 A few weeks later, the OB/GYN said that the cyst appeared to be gone, but they would do more follow-up in 6 weeks. The upshot was that after a couple months they said I don't have ovarian cancer, (yay!) and the problem with my ovaries isn't worth treating unless I am winding up in the ER on a regular basis. (So far, so good.)
On the day that I went to the ER we also discovered that my son was failing every subject except math. Between having a string of substitute and potential replacements, he and most of his class were failing. The longer we stayed the more miserable my daughter was. There was one week where she cried everyday on the way to school, she hated it so much. We had tried to get our kids into the gifted school, but we were told that you have to live in the district for a year and then there was a long application process. So we were waiting to hear if our kids would be accepted to the gifted school for the next year.
 In February I was notified that I was indeed the best possible match for the person with leukemia. They drew a 19 large tubes of blood for diagnostic tests. I walked out of the office pale and with blue lips. I went home, fainted and hit my head in my kitchen. Be The Match decided that it was probably best to go with the second closest match. Between my hemorrhaging mass and all the blood draws I was pretty anemic, meaning finding the energy to do my homework and keep my kids alive took all my will-power. I was grateful that they had a back-up match.
  The day I was scheduled for my ultrasound I also took a practical exam that I failed. 85% was required to pass. I was nervous and I missed just a few too many points. So even though I still had an A in that class I failed the whole course by default, and I'll have to retake it later.
 Meanwhile no one wanted to buy my big beautiful house in Utah. We put a ton of money into upgrades. No offers. We dropped the price by enough that we would lose at least $20K. No offers. Nor could we
rent it for enough to cover our costs. And Colorado kept getting more and more expensive. During 2014 Denver tied with San Francisco for the highest inflation rate.  Lots of people wanted to move there (for marijuana and various other reasons) and the housing supply did not match the demand. We were paying almost twice as much for our tiny apartment as for our large house that had nearly four times the space. And in the 8 months that we were there the market value of our apartment went up 30%. We heard all kinds of crazy stories about people struggling to buy houses and the longer we stayed, the more we realized that the prospects of us getting into a place that was both big enough for our family and near a good school for our kids were not very good. The final straw was when our daughter was accepted into the gifted school and our son was put on a waiting list. Not good enough. Even though our place was convenient for me, staying right there was not a good option. We couldn't ignore the fact that his academic needs were being ignored. I may be a lot of things. I'm a nurse. I'm a student. I'm a runner, I'm a coach, but first and foremost I am a mom and I can't go after my dreams at the expense of my kids.
 So we moved back to our big beautiful house in Utah. My daughter was immediately accepted into the local gifted school and my son will be there when he is old enough (Here the gifted programs don't start until 3rd grade).  The longer we are here, the more it is evident that this was the best move our for our kids. Our kids are more free to run around and make noise. We have enough living space (and then some) with reasonable lighting. They have more friends. Within 3 weeks my son was reading at grade level. All of our expenses are less, which takes off some stress. We LOVE it here, even more so than when we lived here before.  My husband and I have great friends here.  We have easy access to lots of hiking and outdoor play. I can do most of my classes online, and the rest gets complicated, but I will make it work.
 Colorado is beautiful and there were lots of fun things to do there. We made some really fantastic friends there who we miss, but unfortunately Colorado was not a good option for our family.
 In some ways the experience felt like a big expensive and painful failure. (We had several other smaller failures mixed in that adventure, but those were the highlights.) But we learned things. Do we know where we are going to be when I am done with school? No, not really. Would I do it that way again? Probably not. But I am stronger than ever and I learned lessons that I'm not sure you can put a price tag on.
 Moral of the story, sometimes things don't work out as planned, but we keep going, we learn and we find things to be grateful for along the way.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Marathon Training

A few months ago, one my best friends made the comment. "Someday when you write your autobiography, you should call it 'Living Crazy', because that usually sums up what is going on in your life." Haha, so true. But I believe that life is too short to live boring, and crazy generally isn't boring.
Seen on my run
 My latest crazy adventure is marathon training. I signed up for the St. George marathon this year. I persuaded a friend to sign up too, so we can plan some long runs together. It only takes one friend to keep you committed to exercising, then you can't let them down, so you'll do it even when you don't want to. I enjoy running (usually), and I was excited to get back into it. Of course when I signed up I fully intended on taking the summer off from school. I cleared it with my specialty option coordinator and we agreed that a break from school was feasible and well-deserved. Then I talked to the graduate

Piyo Cross Training
adviser. She said that if I took the summer off that it would mean I would be more than a year behind in my classes, and there would be a couple semesters where I wouldn't be able to take classes because they are only offered at certain times and I have to take them in order. So now I'll be working, going to school (just one class), shuttling kids to swim lessons and summer camps and training for a marathon. Yup, living crazy. But taking advantage of the beautiful opportunity to do so. I'm grateful and thrilled that I have such beautiful scenery to train in so close to my house.
 For my marathon training plan I chose a 20 week schedule where I run 4 days a week (last time I ran 5-6 days a week, I'm not such a fan). On my off days I'll cross-train with Piyo to keep my legs and joints flexible and help prevent injuries, or take the occasional rest day. If anyone wants to do the
Piyo workouts with me, the sale was extended this month, so now's a good time to get a discount. I love them, they're fun and just make you feel great. And my plan is to use them to protect my knees!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

African Americans, Diabetes and Thinking Like a Freak

Last week I was listening to Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain . The whole premise of the book is looking at problems from different angles. In it the authors shared the story of an economist who was interested in why is it that African Americans have such higher rates of diabetes and heart disease compared to other parts of the population. This is so even if you account for things like stress, education and income level. If you look at European Africans or Native Africans, their incidence of diabetes and heart disease is far less than African Americans. This isn't racism, it's just statistics. Then why is it that African Americans are prone to have these problems? The economist's theory (which he is still researching) is that those who survived the slave trade had a genetic propensity to be able to withstand extreme dehydration, because they held more salt in their sweat and bodily fluids, they retained more water.  This leads to a higher oncotic pressure in the blood and more cardiovascular damage. These people who had this characteristic  would have more tendency towards heart disease and would pass this on to their descendants, modern African Americans. Slave- traders actually selected for this characteristic by licking potential slave purchases and selecting people who tasted more salty.
An Englishman tasting an African

Now this is all well and interesting, (and the history of the slave trade is very tragic) but so what? What can we do with this information right now? This morning I had an 'ah-ha' moment while listening to my pharmacology lecture. There is a newer group of diabetic medications known as SGLT2 inhibitors (Invokana) which inhibit sodium & glucose transport in the kidney which leads to less sodium and glucose in the blood, and is essentially an osmotic diuretic. One of the side effects is weight loss and patients are more likely to experience DEHYDRATION. This is a the perfect medication to give to patients who are genetically resistant to dehydration. Of course has a pediatric nurse practitioner it is not likely that I will be treating African American patients with Type 2 diabetes, and I'm sure that someone else out there has already made this connection, but I was excited about it and am so grateful for science and people who think outside the box to try to find solutions to problems and improve healthcare.

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Ragnar Adventure

Last Thursday a friend posted on Facebook that she needed someone to take her place in a Ragnar, the next day and the race was taking in place in Zion's National Park. Me! Me! ME! Pick me! I have always wanted to do a race through Zion's (Even the Zion's Half Marathon doesn't go through Zion's, but just up to the park.) And I have always wanted to do a Ragnar relay and my plans for the weekend were flexible. I could use an adventure. Plus the race fee was already waived. Score! So I agreed, even though I had had zippo training and have only gone running twice since January.
Then it turns out that it wasn't my friend that was on the Ragnar team, she was advertising for another friend, who was actually advertising for another friend, so I ended up on a team of perfect strangers. But they had TWO team members drop out at the last minute and they were grateful to have anyone help them out. Oh and this is a TRAIL run and we're camping together. It's an adventure, right?
 The weather was forecasted to be perfect, or at least that's what I heard when I was packing my bag.
The drive up was lovely and rejuvenating. The race wasn't IN Zion's National Park, but it did overlook it and I had to drive through the park to get to the campsite. And even the drive to Zion's is beautiful.

 When I got to the campsite, the rumor was that there was supposed to be light showers for 2 hours. That's not too bad. I unpacked my gear, did homework and took a nap. During dinner it started drizzling. I ran my first leg starting at about 6:45 pm. Our team name was Adventure is Out There, which I loved because I'm a big fan of Up.

 The Ragnar trail runs are made of 3 paths, green, yellow and red. Green is the easiest & shortest (3 miles), yellow is 4 miles and red is the hardest & longest (7.8 miles). My first leg was a yellow. I ran through the forest wishing that I had waited to eat until after my race or wishing I could just throw up because my stomach was so unhappy with me. The trail was VERY hilly, but the view was beautiful. You really do get to overlook Zion's. I started out wearing several layers because it was cold, but took them off as I got going. On the last mile it started to rain pretty hard so I put them all back on. Considering I had zippo training, and I my stomach was so upset, I was pretty happy with my time of 53 minutes.
Overlooking Zion's National Park from the yellow leg trail.

 After my leg it started to really rain. The guy on my team who ran after me took an extra 40 minutes because of the dark and rain. Around the time he got back they decided to pause the race until 1:30 am, because it was taking so long for Search & Rescue to find the runners in the mud and rain Then they decided to pause the race until 6:30 am. It poured buckets all night long. The rain leaked on me and the two other ladies in our tent and we were glad that we weren't out running in it.
 In the morning the trails were all sludge. The race coordinators said we *could* continue the race, or we could just grab our medals and go home. I was the only one on my team who had any interest in continuing. I was not afraid of a little mud and I really wanted to have a chance to run (or wade through the mud) on the red leg. I'm probably a little crazy. But my team just wanted to go home, and frankly with that much mud and that many people, the sooner we go out the better.
My shoes after hiking to the bathroom and back.

 It wasn't quite the adventure that I expected, but I enjoyed it anyway. Taking a break from boxes and school was exactly what I needed. And the medal is a cool multi-tool.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lucky Laces 5K in Denver 2015

Last Saturday, my in-laws, my husband and kids ran the Lucky Laces 5K in Denver City Park. It was
my older two kids first 5k race and they did a great job! Both of them placed in the top 30 for their age category (although my daughter was actually in the wrong category, but whatever). I was proud of both of them that they tried hard and ran the race with very minimal whining.

 We had a rough start. Of course we were struggling to get everyone out the door. Then after we packed the minivan it wouldn't start. So we split up between our car and my in-laws. While we were still trying to find parking, they pumped up our stroller tires and one of the inner-tubes popped. Fortunately, I had an umbrella stroller to put my toddler in instead of carrying her, but it's not really great for running. After all of that we got to the start line as the tail end of the main crowd had just past.

 The weather was brisk, but not too cold. And the park is beautiful to run through. The path goes past multiple statues and the lake (pond?), and for sections of it there is a good view of the mountains. Being able to see the mountains always inspires me to keep running, and do it with a smile on my face. The support was good, the post race breakfast was great and the kids were very excited to have their own racing medals. It's also the fun kind of race where people get decked out in St. Patrick's Day trappings. (I had a good excuse to wear my piranha plant pants, but really does one need an excuse?)
Denver City Park Statues & the Finisher Medal

Denver City Park and the mountains in the background

 If anyone is considering doing this race next year, I would recommend it. (There is also a separate fun run for younger kids.) We had a good time.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

These pancakes are my family’s favorite healthy breakfast. (They still prefer  super-sugary stuff like crepes or sweet rolls, but I only let them have those on special occasions.) Even my uber picky son gets excited about eating them. I originally got the recipe from my friend, who got it from  Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock, which inspired me to purchase the book myself. The original recipe calls for pecans instead of butterscotch chips, but you can use chocolate chips or peanut butter chips or craisins or leave them plain. I love that these pancakes are low-sugar and low-fat. The sweetness comes from the bananas, and if you’re using baking chips, you don’t need syrup. I even use less chips than the original recipe because the bananas and baking chips just make these really sweet. Over time I have decreased the amount of chips I put in (from what is listed below) and my kids still love them. If you use nuts instead of baking chips, it is not hard to have an easy healthy breakfast. The original recipe also called for white flour, but my kids still willingly eat them with whole wheat flour.
Banana Butterscotch Pancakes
Food Storage Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vinegar
1/3 cup butterscotch baking chips (or chopped nuts or whatever floats your boat)
cooking spray for pan
Fresh Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1. Mix milk and vinegar, let set for at least 5 minutes.  2. Sift together dry ingredients. 3. In a separate bowl mix mashed banana and other wet ingredients. 4. Mix wet and dry ingredients together, don’t over-mix. Fold in baking chips. 5. Make into pancakes in a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray pan between pancakes.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Veggie Gyros

This recipe came into existence by mistake. I was trying to make this recipe for Greek Feta Burgers and thought I could get away with just using bread crumbs instead of herb stuffing mix. Yeah, it didn’t work. The mixture did not form patties very well and on cooking it I ended up with pan full of cooked feta, spinach and crumbles. In attempt to salvage the mess I put it on a pita with tzatiki and fresh veggies. Instant success! It has quickly become a family favorite (even for our non-Vegetarian extended family), although I wasn’t sure what to call it. We usually refer to it as ‘the greek veggie burgers that didn’t work, put on a pita’. I eventually decided that ‘veggie gyros’ was a better name. (Although I’m aware that they aren’t exactly gyros, Greek veggie tacos sounded like an oxymoron)
Veggie Gyros
For the crumbles:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp herb seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
16oz fresh chopped spinach
2/3 cup feta, crumbled
tzatiki sauce (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 medium red onion,chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed
additional feta crumbles
1 Roma tomato, chopped (optional)
chopped cucumber (optional)
1. Mix crumble ingredients into a bowl. You want to make sure that all of the bread crumbs are moistened by the oil and the eggs and everything more or less evenly distributed. 2. Cook mixture in a large oiled skillet over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, or crumbles are crispy and well-browned. 3. Serve on a pita with tzatiki, feta and fresh veggies as desired. (My fam is not big on tomatoes or cucumbers, so didn’t bother, but I am certain they would work well.) Crumbles reheat well, makes 6-8 servings.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mini Spinach Quinoa Fritatas

Recently I decided that we eat enough spinach, that the one pound package from Costco is not enough spinach to last us a whole week. The 2.5 pound package is a stretch for us to get through before it goes bad. So this week we are eating LOTS of spinach and I thought I would share the recipes that are successful. My first new victory was mini spinach quinoa fritatas. It was a big success. Everyone in my family loved it, even my son who is the pickiest eater I have ever met. He didn't even mind that they were healthy.  VICTORY! These are great for breakfast or dinner and the leftovers are easy to reheat for later.

 Mini Spinach Quinoa Fritatas

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups chopped spinach
4 eggs
1 cup liquid egg white
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (whichever flavor you please)
1/2 cup mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pan*. 2. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl with a spoon. 3. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 45 minutes. Cool a few minutes before eating. Makes 18 mini fritatas

* I used silicone muffin cups, so I skipped this step, but if you're not using these you want to be sure to use cooking spray to avoid the eggs burning onto the muffin pan.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Report on the 21 Day Fix

Last week I finished the 21 Day Fix. My verdict, I'm sure that this workout and eating plan are very effective, but between work and the start of my hardest semester of school yet, I did not have enough energy to be totally committed. I missed several workouts. I ate too many carbs. (I discovered that when I am exhausted I crave carbs so hard!) I ate large quantities of chocolate because I was really stressed. I gave up my hopes of getting results in 21 days, and then I noticed that despite my half-hearted attempt I had still made progress. I continued to lose a little weight and get more toned, despite not being as dedicated as I expected myself to be. This was my first workout program that required weights and halfway through I had to buy a new set because it was too easy. Imagine how much progress I could make if I were more focused. I think I may give it another shot in the future.

The 21 Day Fix is a program with 7 different workouts (one for each day of the week) plus a 10 minute ab workout that you can throw in as you please. The workouts are designed to rotate and work different muscle groups so you are making progress without over-using any muscle groups. The program also comes with several colored containers to make weight-loss simple. (Green for veggies, purple for fruit, yellow for carbs, red for protein, orange for seeds and dressings, blue for cheese, nuts, avocados and hummus) How much you eat of each container depends on your personal caloric needs (The instruction book comes with a formula.) It takes some of the stress out of a meal plan, and if you do the workout and meal plan together, you will see changes in your body in 3 weeks.
There's a few problems with the plan. It is very heavy on the protein. I'm a vegetarian, and I track my protein so I know that I'm getting enough, but not according to the 21 Day Fix plan. I felt like it was a big change for me, and one that my stomach didn't always agree with. Another problem, food items I normally consider protein, like beans and quinoa are classified as carbs in the plan. I've seen charts like this one:
However, they just moved the high protein carbs to the protein category. This does not change the nature of those foods. If the plan classified those foods as carbohydrates, then counting them as proteins is going to be far less effective for toning muscles than eating cottage cheese, eggs and lean meat. And veggie patties are considered a protein? I find that highly suspect, depending on the patty, many of them are held together with bread crumbs. So if you're not a vegetarian, I'm sure this workout/plan would work better than for someone like me whose body (and natural flora) scream "We are not making enough enzymes to handle all of these animal-based proteins that you are throwing at us! This is not going to end well for you!!!" If you are the average meat-loving American doing this program in an effort to get a 6-pack, you'll probably be just fine. Yes, I realize their is tofu, but I really can handle only so much of that.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you will probably have to just do a little more planning and preparation to make this work. This plan also made me realize my normal diet is pretty carb heavy, even if they are healthy carbs. I eat lots of whole wheat tortillas (filled with veggies), sandwiches with high fiber bread, brown rice, various potatoes and LOTS of sweet potatoes. When you're only allowed 2 servings of carbs a day, it forces you to evaluate what you are eating. 

 I also have to say that I wasn't really in love with the workouts. Maybe because I didn't have a big motivator to drastically change my body in 3 weeks. No wedding, no high school reunion, no beach trip. And that is really the focus, put in a lot of effort for 3 weeks and you will change your body. I was just looking for a new workout to change things up. I do LOVE the 10 minute fix for abs. It's the perfect workout to do before a 12 hour shift at work. I feel like any workout with weights I have to be alert or I'm going to hurt myself. When I workout before work I am NOT alert. With the 10 minute ab fix I can lay on the floor half conscious, tired tears running down my face as I do 10 or so kinds of crunches and by the end I feel more awake and ready to hit the day. I also really enjoyed the pilates and yoga workouts on the active recovery days. Maybe I just don't like doing reps with weights because it's really repetitive. Ok, basically I enjoyed every workout except the 2 cardio workouts. I hated those. But you have to work if you want the results.
Here are a few of my Instagram collages of my  21 Day Fix workouts: (Another bonus is that my kids love to do these workouts with me too)
The Lower Fix
The Cardio Fix
The Dirty 30 Fix
The Upper Fix
The Yoga Fix
And here are my results at the end. It's not a huge change, but I lost another 2 pounds, and all of my clothes are looser, and my abs are definitely firmer. Progress, people. Progress