Friday, May 27, 2011

It's a "What's for dinner?" weekend post!

I feel a bit poorly that most of my recent posts have been uploads.  Only a bit, though.  So, I thought I would be a good blogger.
This week is our first week of no school and no house guests (although I loved having them!).  It would have been totally normal except that I may have jury duty... so I actually have no clue if I will be working or if I will be in a courtroom.  Word on the street is that they prefer to not have social workers on juries...similar to cops.  We'll see.  I'll try to refrain from using the word "baby snatcher" if they ask about my career choice.
                                           ...... I keed, I keed...
Anywho, it's time to eat healthy again (and slow down a bit on the alcohol, perhaps).  So, I rocked a menu using a nice mix of Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Chef MD, and some SkinnyTaste.  A friend of mine who enjoys a nice balance of spinach and skittles in her life does Meal Planning Monday- which is a wonderful alliteration that I'm a bit jealous of (go visit her blog, she's great and she lives in my hometown.  I prefer Jelly Bellies myself but to each her own.).  Since I can't go shopping during the week due to laziness  a busy and unpredictable life I tried to come up what to call my meal planning posts since I always do my planning somewhere in the Friday-Sunday range.  And so.......

"What's for dinner?"  Weekend posts were born!

Office Max is nice and cheap.
They were born just now.  Did you see?  Did you like my flair?  It's a pity it was followed up with a menu on a legal pad.  Maybe I should type it or grab some colored pencils or something....
Also, pay no attention to my poor thumb with it's bitten nail.
                                 ....I digress.
When doing your menu planning, don't worry if you have to use arrows to move stuff around.  I plan based on what I have on hand and what is on sale.  For example, we have leftover pineapple from the party last week for our salad tomorrow.  Zucchini is coming into season and is going on sale (yay!).  Oh, and I impulse-purchased canned salmon a month ago from Costco (hence the burgers).  Sometimes as I'm writing the menu I realize that a certain meal would be better cooked on a different day due to home visits in the evening or having a high-exercise day or whatever.  Sometimes I re-do my menus when I move stuff around.  Sometimes I re-do it when I misspell things too.  I'm a perfectionist. Don't fear the arrows, though.  
It's also a good idea to mark on your menu if you need to marinade something overnight or a fresh loaf of bread is needed.  Just for reference.
I'm excited for healthy eating this week and to discover what this jury duty thing will hold.  I've been rocking some yoga and my exercise bike... adding in good food instead of Carl's Jr. (which is good for the soul, just not good for my love handles) will only make me feel better. 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm going the distance...

...I'm going the speed.... (name that song). Anywho, this is my brand spankin' new exercise bike. And Sparty. The seat is really hard (talking about the bike again) but I rocked a 35 minute ride while watching the Grey's season finale. I'm excited to get fit! I'm also excited for my ass to stop hurting. How long does it take for one's derriere to get used to bike seats?
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Title problems

My blog blurb describes me as a social worker, a student, and a lupus survivor. Problem: I'm no longer a student (yay!). Should I change my blurb? Also, I like alliterations. I could always say I'm a life long student...
Any suggestions?
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Exercise and Lupus- A frequent discussion

The Lupus Foundation of America often does these awesome segments called "15 Questions".  They ask a leading expert in the field a few question (*ahem*, fifteen of them to be exact) on various topics.  This month I'm happy to see the following:

15 Questions with Mrs. Gina Cortese-Shipley– Exercising and Staying Fit with Lupus  (Link)
She looks nice, friendly even.

"This month's 15 questions is brought to you by Mrs. Cortese-Shipley, an exercise physiologist with The Cooper Institute in Texas. She has an M.S. in Exercise Physiology from Texas A & M University and a B.S. in Exercise Science and Health and Wellness from Washington State University". 

I wonder if she's a Washington native?  Go Huskies, btw.

So, I've decided to highlight the questions that Mrs. Cortese-Shipley answered that kinda pertain to me and what I've been pondering for the past few years.

1. What are the best exercises to do for lupus; yoga, core strength, cardio, etc.? How long and how often should we workout?
Mrs. C.S. says to do basically anything you can do consistently.  "In general, low-impact, low-to-moderate intensity exercise programs are best for those with lupus."  She points out the pretty obvious benefits of cardiovascular exercise, muscle strengthening, and flexibility.  Specifically she called out yoga/core strength exercises.  Not only does yoga help with flexibility and muscle tone, but it is also stress-relieving.  And guess what I did this morning?  Hey-o!  I owe my yoga workout all to my Three Minute Eggs.
I can totally do that.

2. I am so tired when I get home from work I just want to lay down.  How can I exercise when I am so tired?
Ugh.  I deal with this all the time.  I already knew the answer though- once you start, it actually feels better and you have more energy.  It may decrease your fatigue overall.  It's good stuff.  And now that I'm not in grad school anymore (Hey-o!) I may be tired but I'll actually have time to exercise.  

4. I know it is important for joint and muscle health to exercise. However, it tends to make my pain worse. How do I know when it's ok to push on through the pain, and when I should listen to my body and stop?  
I always question this, as cardio immediately makes my knees and hips bitchy.  Here's the expert's full answer.  Unfortunately, her answer is basically that you won't know if you overdid it until afterwards:  "A good rule of thumb to follow -  if joint or muscle pain lasts for more than 2 hours after exercising, you have done too much. Other signs that you have pushed yourself too hard are unusual or persistent fatigue (greater than what you typically experience), increased weakness, decreased range of motion, and increased joint swelling. If any of the previous occur, it would be important for you to reduce the amount of activity you are doing. In terms of resistance training, this may mean decreasing the amount of weight you are lifting. In terms of cardiovascular work, you may have to decrease your pace or decrease the time of your exercise session. You may even have to stop and allow your body to rest and recover before starting up again. Also remember that your body may be able to handle more work at certain times and than others. Be sure to create a flexible exercise program that can accommodate this. And use your common sense. I think most of us know when we are pushing ourselves too hard!"

Read it all, people, especially that last part I bolded!  I know for the past couple months I've been pushing myself too much.

7. Taking into consideration the increased photosensitivity of those with lupus, what are some safe ways to exercise outdoors and get out of the gym? Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Note that the question asked her is from Puerto Rico.  Yeah, I would exercise outside, too.  However, I don't want to rock one of these looks:
No offense to the sun-protection clothing carriers, I'm sure they have helped a lot of people.  That's not hot, though.  Put on sunscreen often and everywhere, that's the main point here, folks.

13. On a weekly basis, I swim 2-3 times, then offset with gym cardio class or elliptical trainer 2-3 times during same week. Now that I am eating better using WW, I lost 13lbs in 3mths.  How do i incorporate a continue weight loss goal (I have another 8-10 lbs.) if I can't make it to the gym or swim that day? (I tried a similar P90x workout program yet was too intense on my joints, so stop.)
My first thought: That cocky bitch- she can do all that in one week?!  Moving on from the petty thoughts that creep in occasionally.... weight loss is of concern to me as I've put on between 7-10 pounds in the course of grad school (not bad for two car accidents, lupus, and the diet and exercise regimen of a busy social worker writing a thesis).  
"There are a number of exercise options we can do right at home or work. Walking is a great one. How long and how intensely will depend on how your body responds to it. Stair climbing is another option again if your body can handle it. Find a stairwell at work and throw on your sneakers at lunch and walk the stairs. If you own a bicycle you can use it for your cardiovascular exercise or even use it as an active mode of transportation instead of your car!"  
I walk... I've been rockin' my shapeups.  As much as possible I walk, even at work.  Walking to talk to a colleague burns more calories than calling.  No stairwell at work, but stairs make me embarrassingly wheezy anyway.  I would love to bike to work, but I'm not quite up to 20+ miles both ways (and uphill in the morning, oy!).  
The good doctor also recommends various workout videos and looking into home fitness equipment. I'm working on home fitness equipment... I'm currently unemployed so I need to convince my hubby to invest in my health (and my figure, let's be honest here, people).

Great 15 Questions- Lupus Foundation!  Keep up the great work!

I look forward to being out of school.  I've already had my first homework-free weekend.  It was... weird.  I felt all anxious like I was forgetting something.  But I did tons of walking and housework.  I did yoga this morning and counted my calories like a good girl.  I feel like I'm on my way.  

So, here's a question to you, my fellow lupies (I'm trying out names tonight)... What would your exercise question be to Mrs. Cortese-Shipley? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy World Lupus Awareness Day!

My hubby and I are rockin' our lupus bracelets. A google search doesn't reveal very many news sites mentioning this day, which makes me sad, but also fires my passion for spreading awareness all the more!
Someone I know has lupus (not to mention me). My purple wristband is to show them that they're not alone and that I'm here to support then!
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Can you color within the lines?

I love filling out these things. I also love that I chose green to color in my little person. I'm like the hulk. Hulkess? Have a great Saturday everyone!
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One of those days...

Ever have one of those days...where everything is just awesome?  Everything! Unexpected things, things that aren't great on the surface- they all turned out just swimmingly!  My mind was just set to transform my experiences into a learning process, into a find-the-silver-lining deal. It was phenomenal.  Check me out- being all bright and shiny!
I woke up after a good, deep, night of sleep- feeling refreshed and mostly pain-free.  I was running late to physical therapy and had to come back to the apartment to grab my lunch after.  This normally would have annoyed me.  But, Nikki worked my knots out of my neck while I daydreamed about my upcoming graduation.  I mixed a healthy lunch at home of leftover Kheema-spiced ground beef, avocado, tomatoes, and some grapes.  A couple squares of chocolate may have made it in there, too.  It may have contributed to my good mood.
It was some of this guy.  Normally, I'm a dark chocolate girl.  I'm pretty strict on this.  Don't mess with me and my dark chocolate addiction.  If it has sea salt in it you best step back.

Anywho, (back to happy) work was great.  After a home visit I used the GPS on my phone to get back to the office.  It took me a strange way.  I kept waiting for a psycho with a hook for a hand to step out in front of my car. Then, I looked around.  Beautiful wildflowers, creeks running at full blast from the Spring melt-off, old barns.  Then, goats... don't even get me started on goats. Next thing I knew, a baby cow!  I then died of cuteness overload and almost ran off the road.  If I had my camera I wouldn't have made it back to work.
A taste of the gorgeousness.
My day continued be wonderful and I couldn't shake my good mood.  I even warned a coworker that I might annoy her with my spunk.  She said "please don't".  She was kidding, I'm sure.  I hope.

So, my question to all of you out there in blogger/lupus land....

What did you miss today when you were only thinking about the destination?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Lupus Awareness Month!

May is Lupus Awareness month!  May 10 is World Lupus Awareness Day, which was first celebrated back in 2004.  Lupus is a misunderstood disease- the most common response I get when I talk about my disease is "Oh.  What is that?"  Thankfully, the Lupus Foundation foresaw this problem and created a list of Lupus facts that I shamelessly stole from their website.

  • Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better). Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
  • Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot "catch" lupus from someone or "give" lupus to someone.
  • Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.
  • Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
  • Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too.
  • Women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop lupus.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.
  • More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.

This Lupus Awareness month is pretty awesome, given that there have been some amazing breakthroughs since last year.

The first drug created specifically for Lupus started getting some buzz.  Benlysta is the first new Lupus treatment in 52 years!  The FDA approved this drug on March 9,2011.  For years, Lupus patients have been struggling to manage Lupus symptoms using a variety of different cocktails.  Anyone remember the days of Vioxx?  Turns out Vioxx attacked internal organs faster than Lupus,so, uh, no bueno (Getting closer to Cinco de Mayo!).  I use the same handful of pills that many Lupus survivors do- hydroxychloroquine (an anti-malarial drug) for joint pain, fatigue, and muscle weakness, gapapentin for nerve pain, and a nice helping of Tylenol, ibuprofen, and the occasional Vicodin/Norco/Morphine/etc. to handle the pain that sneaks in around all those other drugs.  Then, of course, steroids for intense flares- meant to calm our immune systems the eff down!
Click here for more information and the Lupus Foundation info page on Benlysta.
So, this is a pretty exciting Lupus Awareness month.  Check out all the cool stuff you can get to help raise awareness:

  • Shirts
  • Wristbands
  • Magnetic Ribbons to stick on your car, your friends' cars, and strangers' cars*!
  • Totes (Everyone likes totes)
  • Hats
  • Books (Meh)
  • Mugs
  • Cell Phone Charms (How do you attach one of these to your phone?)
  • Balloons (To fill with Helium, inhale, and make yourself sound funny.  Laughter takes away from joint pain**).  
The Lupus Foundation Store is your one-stop shop for all this cool stuff.

Now, I know we said that we should band together while we wait for FDA approval, but I think we can rock these sweet purple wristbands for the month of May too, right?  Right.

*I probably shouldn't suggest blanketing your town's vehicles in the purple ribbon magnets, but it would raise awareness for sure.  Hell, we painted Sacramento purple to save a mediocre basketball team.  No offense to fans.  
**I think you're not supposed to suck helium.  Maybe I should look it up.  Eh, I'll just say people under eighteen shouldn't do this.  

How will you raise awareness?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easy Chicken Mole!

Cinco de Mayo is coming up.  If I remember my Spanish classes from fourth grade, the fifth of May is when the underdogs (the Mexican forces) beat out France's invasion troops.  Or something like that.  I figure on the first day of May they were in the process of beating the French, so May 1-5th can be a time to eat yummy Mexican food.  Also, I forgot that May 1st is May Day and even if I did, I couldn't think of a food to celebrate rebirth anyway.

So here is my Easy Chicken Mole Recipe.  I think it would serve around eight if I made it correctly.  Tonight I had twice as much sauce as necessary so I'm going to freeze the rest.  I used three boneless, skinless breasts and it made about four servings (two dinner size, two lunch size).

Easy Chicken Mole (Pretend that I was able to add the accent, please.)

2 Tbs olive oil                      1 can diced tomato
1 onion, chopped                  1 chopped bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced        2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
2 tbs chili powder                1 can chicken broth 
1 tsp cumin                           2 tbs peanut butter
½ tsp cinnamon                    2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 (5 pound) chicken, cut into pieces, or chicken of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
As you're chopping everything, read ahead and realize that you're going to run everything through the blender anyway- so don't bother to make everything uniform like I did.  My arthritis-y hands always seem to suffer due to my perfectionism/inattention to detail. 
Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté.  Add garlic, spices, and continue to sauté until onions are soft.  Add remaining ingredients except for the chicken.  "Accidentally" drop a few chocolate chips onto the counter.  Convince yourself that it would be sacrilegious to put it back in the bag or into the pot.  It would ruin the ingredients ratio.  Or something. Simmer 10 minutes.
Use immersion blender to smooth the mix.
Sear chicken in a heavy-bottomed skillet.  If you're cooking skinless chicken breasts like I was, don't bother, I didn't.
Add to casserole dish, cover with sauce, and braise for 45 minutes to an hour.

I served ours with brown rice and Hungry Girl margaritas.  I never know what kind of veggies to serve with Mexican food.  I kinda suck at side dishes in general. Lime juice is healthy, right?  Besides, I had a nice big salad for lunch.  I can't say the same for the hubby but his body is used to a lack of greens.
What are your go-to side dishes?

How very domestic of me!

Every once in awhile I have a moment.  I realize that I'm married and I realize that I'm a grown-up.
This, as you can imagine, sucks.
The grown-up part... not the married part!
I love you, Kevin!
Nah, yesterday I just was very aware of how very domestic we are.  We bought a tomato cage, we went to costco, we bought groceries and commented on the price of ground beef.  We had croque monsieurs and salad for dinner.  I'm not sure if French sandwiches are domestic or not, but I thought I would mention it.  Also, they were quite delicious.  Ham + Bread + Swiss + Dijion Mustard= Delicious.  Did I mention it's cooked in a butter coated skillet?  Damn, I love the French.

I digress.
The thing about domestic is that while it's a bit shocking when you remember that you're twenty-three years old.  And then you sit down on your couch with your husband and your hive-covered dog (poor thing, he's better now), and then you realize how comfortable domestic is.  Domestic is safe.  Domestic is supportive.  Domestic doesn't flare up my lupus.
I have a friend who also has lupus.  She's single and she loves to go out drinking and dancing.  That just sounds exhausting, doesn't it? To each his own, I suppose.  When we go out it usually involves a bar with chairs and the expectation that you can wear jeans and tennis shoes.  And we're home by 11... at the latest! We love a good time but it's nice wake up at a decent hour the next morning and not need to nurse a hangover. 
Next weekend is the grand opening of Old Folsom- there's a Johnny Cash cover band and tons of sales.  We're  going to hit up some antique shops.  Maybe I'll find a new early addition book to add to my collection. It's going to be off the hizzie!
If I had been born in a different decade.... *swoon*

Where do you lie on the spectrum of domestic to party animal?  Are there certain aspects of yourself/your life that has led you to prefer that lifestyle?