I’m out of the boot – hooray! 🎉
Last week, I watched HEAL on Netflix. It reminded me that I have the power to fix myself, especially in a situation where my leg muscles should have healed months ago.
The tightness and burning and throbbing – like my leg is vibrating on a different frequency than the rest of my body – indicated that maybe this, like so many other afflictions, could be a spiritual issue.
From the documentary, I took the following nine key tactics of healing and took a look at how I can put them to use in my own life.
- Radically changing your diet
- Taking control of your health
- Following your intuition
- Using herbs and supplements
- Releasing suppressed emotions
- Increasing positive emotions
- Embracing social support
- Deepening your spiritual connection
- Have a strong reason for living
The good news is I can’t help but to do number two, that’s the benefit of being a little bit of a control freak. I try to do number three – that’s where most of my harebrained ideas come from.
And, if you’ve followed my journey, you know I started number one five weeks ago by going completely plant-based.
In fact, the whole foods, plant-based diet has been instrumental in changing my life. After five weeks, I have more energy. My thoughts are more focused. Scratches and cuts heal incredibly quickly. My skin has finally cleared up.
I haven’t looked into herbs and supplements but will. I just need to figure out a good place to start. 🤔
This past week, I did an exercise for number five – releasing suppressed emotions – and that was fabulous. Hard, but so good.
I’m working on number six and seven. I’ve stopped watching the news and try to surround myself with positive people.
My friends and family are the best when it comes to sending me love and healing energy. I am blessed.
I’ve meditated and prayed every day since seeing the documentary. I love connecting with God. Oddly, I seem to find reasons not to do it often, same with my yoga practice. It’s like my brain wants to keep my hands (and itself) busy with idle tasks, which I unknowingly comply with.
But when I do sit down and meditate or invest the time in a yoga class, it’s heavenly. Right now, I don’t think about whether or not I have the choice to do it. It’s simple. If I want to heal, I just do it.
Number nine. This one I struggled with, which is saying something. I love life, it’s not that I don’t. I just can’t say I have a strong reason for living.
I love my family, friends, and partner immensely. I love the earth, nature, animals, and life’s wonderful conveniences like clean hot and cold water, lights that turn on with the flip a switch, and the espresso machine.
A strong reason for living feels like something a lot bigger than animals or the espresso machine; like a purpose.
When I was a child, my purpose was to grow up and move out of the house. After I moved out of the house, my purpose was to get a degree. After I did that, it was to land a good job. After I did that, it was to land a better job that paid more money. Then, a better one, and so on. Maybe these were just goals. (I love goals.)
The truth is I can’t say I’ve ever had a bigger purpose in mind other than to survive my childhood, not become a complete basket case as I process the trauma in adulthood, contribute to the better good of society, and give of myself at both work and in relationships.
All considered, I’ve been mildly successful. I probably have something deep down, I just need to find a way to bring it to the surface so I look to that as I begin to heal.
So, while I finish up the last scheduled week of eating a plant-based diet, I’m going to find and implement a few different exercises in helping me find my purpose.
A long, long, long time ago, I read The Purpose-Driven Life. Maybe I’ll check that out again.
One more week to go. 🥒🥕🍇🍠🍆🥦🍓🍉 🙏🏼
As of late, the concept of rest, you know that thing we should all be doing but don’t have time for, has come up in both my reading and yoga practice.
Books like Peak Performance by Stulberg and Magness and Deena Kastor’s Let Your Mind Run stress the importance of rest, and sometimes that means total and complete rest for the body or hurting body part.
And last week, in a yin yoga class, which is basically all resting poses (my favorite kind of yoga), the yogi talked about the importance of rest and how we need to give our bodies permission to rest so it doesn’t have to get hurt to get the rest it needs.
I found that concept fascinating. My body might be staying hurt so I slow down and take care of myself.🤯
As ever willing to get healed, I took it upon myself to find a way to fully rest my achilles. After a little research, I discovered there’s a boot will take most of the stress off of the achilles to completely rest the tendon.
So I did it. That’s right, I ordered an actual ortho-boot from amazon and strapped it on. The boot is about as stylish as a grandpa in his sweatpants.
Upon seeing the boot, onlookers either offer sympathetic eyes in a kind of bummer-about-your-foot way, or avoid eye contact altogether and snicker while passing.
I’ve come to believe the boot is my penance for the times I put my dog in the cone of shame. It’s looks stupid and makes me feel stupid. Karma.
So what’s happened over the five days I’ve worn the boot? Quite a bit actually. Healing has happened. Instead of waking up in the mornings with a painful achilles and sometimes painful fascia, I wake up feeling like a might have a healthy, albeit a little weak, ankle.
But not everything is all roses and unicorns. When in (and out of) the boot, the back of my leg from mid-calf to mid-hammy burns with tightness. The back of my knee often aches and sometimes various muscles along the back of my leg spasm at random. Mild spasms, but spasm nevertheless.
These are newer developments. Less achilles pain, but more back of the leg tightness, enough to burn and throb, plus the spasms.
To help with these new symptoms, I’ve introduced several leg stretches in the morning, afternoon, and evening. In the morning, before I put on the boot, I start with a runner’s calf stretch for three minutes.
After the boot is assembled and strapped on, I prop it up on the kitchen table and lean in for a total back of the leg stretch. I stand there for the duration of a song or two, enough for the tightness and throbbing to stop.
Then, I switch to an inner leg stretch, moving from the table to a chair because I am not flexible at all, and sit there with my boot stretched out wide for two to three minutes, consciously breathing through all of it.
Overall, I can say that my body is still working through the trauma of the injury or whatever it is trying to work out of my system. I feel like the plant-based diet has been helping the healing, but has not healed my injury.
I had my doubts, but after four weeks on a plant-based diet, I’ve found the food to be delicious. I’ve fallen into a comfortable routine with my favorite breakfast and dinner foods. Fresh berries, granola or oatmeal, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for breakfast. Bean, legumes, rice, and a variety of raw and cooked veggies for dinner.
It’s a little scary to say out loud, but I’m not sure I can go back.
When I first started this little experiment, I followed several plant-based and vegan accounts on social media. I avoided PETA and a few others that were too graphic in nature. I wanted recipes not a loss of appetite.
Still, what I didn’t expect were the simple unintended consequences of seeing vegan messaging in between the recipes. As an example, how weird it is that humans drink cow’s utter milk considering we’re not, you know, baby cows. And how pigs are sweet and as smart as dogs.
Baby anything is cute so I get the marketing spin, but the science is what really got me. The amount of hormones and puss in dairy – milk, cream, cheese (oh god not the cheese!), ice cream, and yogurt are all incredibly overwhelming and disgusting to boot.
The fact that red and processed meats have been labeled by the World Health Organization as Group One carcinogens, like tobacco or plutonium, is mind boggling. That’s like having a cigarette or two at the ballpark. Again 🤯.
I can’t go back and pretend I didn’t learn these things. These facts are part of my reality now, as distasteful and inconvenient as they might seem. I prefer the truth anyway.
Two more weeks to go. 🌽🍇🍏🥬🍉🥕🥒🍑
Three weeks in, and I don’t hate this plant-based diet as much as I did the first weekend.
Not only am I eating healthier, I’m also learning a lot about food and food ingredients. Looking up ingredients like “confectioner’s glaze” (not vegan) or “casein” (also not vegan) is mind blowing.🤯
Just when I thought gelatin was the grossest thing that could come out of the torture and mutilation of animals, I learned about sprinkles.
That’s right, sprinkles, the seemingly harmless, colorful candy topping that kids love on desserts like donuts, cookies, cakes, and more are made from animals. And not your every day pig or cow or chicken, most commercial sprinkles are actually made from bugs. 🤢
But all is not lost. This link includes five vegan options, so you can still enjoy the rainbow on top of your plant-based cupcake.
Yes, learning lots. Another area where I’ve started to really enjoy all the new information coming out of this plant-based diet is the unending line-up of new and delicious recipes.
I absolutely loved this thirty-minute cuban beans and rice recipe. Topped it off with half an avocado, fresh cilantro, and several diced grape tomatoes, and wow.
Even with all of the positives I’m experiencing like more energy, better concentration, and my jeans are fitting just a little bit better, everything isn’t perfect. There are still two areas where I have yet to see any real improvement.
First, my skin is still not quite right. This local skin expert says soy is overall not as good for us as we might think or in my case hope. It’s just a real shame so many restaurants insist on putting soy and more specifically tofu in just about everything that is labeled vegan. 👎
The articles talks about switching out soy beans for peas or other types of beans. I’ve been doing that when possible, but sometimes the baked tofu and broccoli is the only vegan option besides the build-your-own-salad at work. Can’t a woman get a hot meal without all the tofu? First world problems, I guess.
Second area is my achilles. It is still aching in the morning and sometimes sore in the evening. Running isn’t even a blip on the proverbial summer radar. 😔
It’s so depressing. All I’d like to do is have a day where I can do an hour walk or hike and not feel like my foot is dangling off the base of my leg when I’m done. That would offer just a little bit of encouragement, but it was not to be. In fact, I’ve stopped trying to go for walks like that weeks ago when I started this diet plan.
It’s not just my achilles. My left hammy is still, acutely throbbing every now and then, like half cramping and half sore. It happens completely out of the blue – so friggin annoying.
Okay, enough complaining. I’ve made it half-way through this experiment, but am completely discouraged.
My confidence that the plant-based diet will fix my achilles is zero. But I’m not quitting. I said six weeks, so I’m doing six weeks. Three more to go.
The second week of plant-based eating has been better than the first. I’ve been less clumsy, had slightly more energy, dealt with a different kind of breakout, and experienced completely guilt-free eating, which I never thought about going into to this little experiment.
First, less clumsiness – thank God! I didn’t think I could take another week like last. I consider no bloodshed a win. Nevertheless, I still suffered a nasty scrape and bruise from the corner of our hallway table along with a retailer’s door slamming into me, which resulted in a not-so-pretty blue and yellow splotch on my arm.
In general, I try to not to hold on to events like these for too long and chalk them up to me burning negative karma. I’ll take a cut or bruise over something more serious any day.
The scratches, cuts, and scrapes that I mentioned last week have all healed incredibly fast. This is surprising. The stubborn blisters on the back of my heels obtained in early May, which had been lingering for weeks, also healed completely last week.
I’ve had about the same energy level, maybe a little more during the afternoon when I usually felt like taking a nap under my desk at work (George Costanza-style), but instead would get an americano from the espresso bar. I didn’t really need either as of late.
As far as my skin, I still have had little breakouts, but different from before. These little white bastards pop up on my neck too, and they’re painful. My sister told me she breaks out from tofu, so that’s something for me to keep an eye on.
Vegan meals from restaurants usually have tofu in them so it’s hard to avoid it if I want a hot meal. I could ask to hold the tofu but then the meal would be a few measly veggies in some sauce.
Overall, I’m enjoying the food more and more. I’ve found I’m not hungry between meals like I was on the Whole30 or when counting calories. Oddly enough, I also seem to be gravitating toward healthier options when given the choice.
Part of this is simply because the healthier option sounds tastier, but the other part is I’m also making sure I’m getting enough iron and protein in my meals.
As an example, I had the choice of eating vegetarian refried beans on a tortilla with all the fixings of a taco or making a southwestern salad instead, skipping the tortillas and replacing the refried beans with whole black beans, and I chose the latter.
Not only did I feel the salad would taste better, but the black beans had a little more iron than the refried. No brainer. And the salad was delicious and incredibly satisfying all for 460 calories.
One of the side effects of plant-based eating is the lack of guilt when praying over food. I used to have to thank God and the poor animal that gave its life or gave of itself resulting in milk, butter, yogurt, etc. so I might be nourished. There were feelings of guilt in those prayers. Not any longer! It’s a different type of prayer and feeling nowadays. What a completely unexpected, but welcomed, side effect.
My mood is lighter too. I’ve been a little happier in general even though these have been some of the toughest and trying months at work. Hooray for good mental health powered by plants.
Unfortunately, my achilles is only a little better, but not close to healed. I was hoping for better results by week two. I’ve heard of people coming off of all their diabetes, asthma, anxiety, etc. meds in two weeks on a plant-based diet so maybe I was expecting a similar result with my leg and achilles fully healing. Not even close.
Granted, over the past week, the tendons in my ankle on up along the knee and into the back of the hip all hurt quite a bit less. Yesterday, I took a couple 2-mile walks. One after lunch and the other after dinner. They took their toll in the way of stiffness this morning, but after a calf stretch, it felt a little bit better.
I continue to roll out both legs at night and the injured side continues to be lumpy and painful. I’m trying to stay optimistic.
Four more weeks to go. 🥬🥕🍓🍏🍒🌽🍍🍑🥔🙏🏼
It’s only been a week, and I’m so over this vegan diet. Finding acceptable food has been difficult and time-consuming and annoying. I’ve also seemed to forget how to operate my hands, feet, head, and body to my own detriment. It’s been a miserable and bloody week.
We camped in Big Sur last weekend. My heart goes out to anyone who has had to find something non-animal-based to eat over a campfire. Even friggin marshmallows have animal products in them. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and like marshmallows, don’t look it up. Gelatin is pure nastiness.
While my friends enjoyed copious amounts of processed meats and a delectable selection of artisan cheeses for happy hour, I reluctantly chomped on sugar snap peas and hummus. For dinner, they indulged in sausages, feta cheese, chicken, pizza (with cheese and sausage), and more sausages. I ate an ear of corn and sweet potato. I mean, shit.
To be clear, I take full responsibility of the crappy planning. I’d been on a plant-based diet for only a couple of days and had absolutely no business trying to camp on said diet. But life happens. It’s too easy to put something off because it’s inconvenient to begin. If I did that, I’d never start. Life is inconvenient most of the time.
Camping was happening. So was going plant-based. It was unfortunate that they coincided, but it gave me the chance to see what it would be like camping newly vegan-style. And it sucked.
Not only was I not able to have s’mores over the campfire every night, my adjusted vegan meal usually consisted of simply removing the meat and cheese from the meal, so I was left with a couple of warm vegetables and some pasta. Never again will I go camping so unprepared. No – never again will I go camping on a vegan diet.
Switching gears to a meal I really enjoyed: breakfast. I stumbled on these single-serve instant hot cereal cups, and on a whim picked up a couple of them. Angels must have been with me because they were delicious! 👼🏼
They’re organic and contain multigrain oats, chia and dried berries. All I needed to do was add hot water and bam! instant breakfast goodness. They’re also reasonably priced at a dollar and some change per cup at Whole Foods. I added nuts, seeds, and dried cranberries (vegan trail mix), and it was a perfect camping meal.
I also enjoyed the snacks I brought – dried mangos, dates, walnuts, and homemade granola. Side note about going vegan, the amount of fiber that is added to your diet overnight will clean a body out. Go easy on the dried fruits, girl.
My first week on a plant-based diet has also been the clumsiest week of my life. And that’s saying something for someone who has had two hundred stitches put in and taken out of her body, excluding the hernia stitches. (They just kept those in.)
Last week, I burned, cut (thrice), scraped, banged, gnashed, stubbed, knocked, hit, twisted, and poked various different parts of my body. Half of it included bloodshed. I have new scars, bruises and swelling throughout my body from injuries I’ve sustained while on this diet. Can someone tell me why? What’s happening to me?
Not only has my own body taken a hit, I’ve done really clumsy things. Before leaving for camping, I spilled almost an entire bag of popcorn seed while transferring them from one container to another. What felt like hundreds of thousands of them poured on to the counter, floor, sink, stovetop, and God knows where else. It sounded like I hit the jackpot on the slot machine. Ring, ting, ting, tingle, dingle, ling. When all the chaos was over and the last kernel it the floor, it looked like my kitchen got the chickenpox. Oy vey.
The lack of food options while camping, the injuries I’ve sustained, the injuries I’ve caused (mostly to my kitchen and myself), and my bad attitude have all contributed to an awful week one on the plant-based diet. Plus, my face broke out for no apparent reason. Finally, my achilles is exactly the same, if not more achy and sore than it was last week. 😕
Five more weeks to go.
It’s been a couple of months since returning from Antarctica and almost four months since the injury to my achilles happened.
The pain has moved around, from my achilles to my arch to my hamstring and back to my achilles again. It’s like playing whack a mole with the pain.
On Monday, the PT told me she is going to start treating the achilles problem like a chronic issue instead of an acute injury. My heart sank. I don’t want to be labeled chronically anything, except happy, rich, or spiritual.
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” And I say, hell yeah to that. If rest, icing, taping, massaging, and physical therapy aren’t working, could it be something in my diet?
It’s been five years since I started eating meat again. I’d been vegetarian for the previous seven years. In 2014, I was diagnosed with severe anemia and when iron supplements didn’t remedy the problem, doctors encouraged me to eat meat.
Looking back, I’m not sure that was the best thing for my health, but doctors strongly recommended it and I didn’t want to stay anemic and tired.
After learning more about iron intake and requirements, I feel like I could have found another path to health, but I chose the easiest, fastest, and most convenient. And, in a few months, the blood tests indicated that it worked.
So imagine my surprise in 2018, after four years of eating meat, a routine blood test showed I was anemic. Again.
Instead of reexamining my diet at that time, I added an iron supplement and forgot about it. Maybe eating animals and animal products had become too convenient and ingrained my life for me to think there was another option. Going back to vegetarianism didn’t even cross my mind.
Fast-forward to Feb 2019 when my injury happened. I’ve not thought of changing my diet as a way to heal myself, but after four months of nursing a lagging injury, it came like a rocket during a meditation session in the form of a question. What are you eating?
The answer to the question was a little embarrassing. In February, I had just come off the bulletproof diet and was recovering from a terrible reaction to the flu shot. I had been back running only for a week or two when I was injured. (The bulletproof diet encourages copious amounts of grass-fed cow butter in your coffee along with meats and veggies, oils, and proteins.)
When I look back at my food log, I’d been eating various forms of meat, including processed (but paleo) bacon, sausage and lunchmeat, butter, yogurt, and cheese two or three times a day. I’m not saying this is what caused the injury, but the correlation is interesting.
Previous to bulletproof, I did the Whole30 diet time and time again, which focused exclusively on consuming copious amounts of meat, fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables.
I lost weight, and after two weeks of suffering through terrible grumpiness and sugar cravings, settled into it. But could it have been hurting me?
I don’t know, but I’m going to run my own little experiment. For six weeks, I’m going on a plant-based diet.
My goal is to see if this diet will help heal my chronic achilles/foot/leg injury. I’d also love a little more energy (and happiness) throughout the day, but I’m not going to get pushy.
Let’s see what happens next.