Progress

My heart pounded in my throat, and my lungs burned desperate for oxygen. Sweat trickled down the back of my neck. Legs were heavy, knees throbbed, and back ached.

I might actually die, I thought. How long had I been doing this? Forty minutes?

My watch showed 6:33. I’d been running for six f*cking minutes.

That’s how my first run in over three months started.

A mile into it, however, my body remembered, my heart rate regulated. Although it hit 197 and that felt a tad high, I paid little mind to such insignificant details. I was running. 

And running is f*cking amazing. 🏃‍♀️❤️🙌🏼

Best three miles of my forties. Antarctica shmantarctica.

While on the epic jaunt, I came across a massive construction project that spanned the better part of half a mile. It must have started while I was hurt.

New buildings and structures littered the once serene view. The wild grass, brush, and vast greenery (or brownery in the summertime) were gone.

The foothills were blotted out and NASA’s folded dome that I had come to think of as almost home when returning from a long run was indistinct.

What once was the only standing structure in my view had become an impotent and dusty half nickel squeezed out by the shiny titanic-sized scaffolding.

In the photo (above), I can’t tell if when the construction is completed, I’ll lose NASA’s dome altogether.

But this is what progress is: change.

I’m grateful for the progress my body and soul have made in the past few months going from not being able to walk to being in a stupid boot to running.

These new buildings represented someone else’s progress, I guess. Maybe this is how I know I’ve moved into a new chapter of my life. I resent someone else’s progress. 👵🏼

Especially, when progress destroyed the view and eliminated the oxygen-creating trees and plants along the running trail. They better install green rooftops on those massive steel dinosaurs, or I’ll write a letter. 😀

Onward. But first, I need a nap.


Eat plants, rest, get healthy

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. 🌽🍇🍏🥬🍉🥕🥒🍑


Beware of the sprinkles

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.

🥦🍇🍉🥒🥕🌽🌶🍆🍒🍠


Plant-based week two

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. 🥬🥕🍓🍏🍒🌽🍍🍑🥔🙏🏼