Living With an Elephant in the Room

elephant-in-the-room-audialtempartemI briefly touched upon epilepsy in my post about the Patriot Half IM, but I thought I would share more about living with this elephant in the room, which is my epilepsy. It is not something most people know, except some family and friends and coworkers (and those of you who read that post back in June.)

First off, what is epilepsy? It is “a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.” There are different types of epilepsy depending on their symptoms: Generalized (in which they affect the whole brain) and focal, or partial (in which they involve a small area of the brain). 

I was first diagnosed when I was 16 with what is now known to be tonic-clonic seizures. I feel media does not help with the image of someone having epilepsy, as the severity of symptoms varies. I feel people do not know enough about it, and tend to stigmatize those who might have it. No, not everyone with epilepsy wears a soft helmet to protect their head when they have a seizure. Not everyone continues to have seizures throughout their lives, either.

I would usually go 6-7 months without having a seizure (I was seizure free for a year before that!). I’ve had EEGs done, CT scans, MRIs, you name it. There have been some questionable nervous system anomalies, just things to keep an eye on.

December, however, has been a tough month: having multiple seizures and now experiencing a different type of seizure (on top of the clonic-tonic) which are simple partial seizures. The new onset of a different seizure has definitely put me into a whirlwind of fear, anxiety, and shock.   My neurologist wants me to do even more tests which involve hospital stays and started me on even more meds. There is an elephant in the room, and it is my epilepsy. Every morning and evening when I take my AE meds, I am reminded of what I have.

After these newest seizures, the voices telling me “what if you have a seizure again? what if you are not somewhere safe? what if….what if….” have returned, and they are not fun to deal with. When I was first diagnosed I was living in fear. Then, as the seizure activity lessened, I was able to go on with life. Now, that fear has returned, and is bigger than before. Having a seizure isn’t a fun experience; it scares the crap out of me, even though I have had tons before. This fear has caused more emotional breakdowns than I have had in a while. I’m pretty sure Kevin has seen more tears this past month than before–from stress, anxiety,and fear. People tell me “you can’t control them, you will be okay, you are always okay.” But, the people who tell me that are not suffering from seizures. If they had epilepsy themselves, I am sure they would have a better understanding of where I am coming from.  For me, the fear has become almost debilitating. This fear makes it nearly impossible for me to slip into the pool and swim. Logic tells me I am okay, I will be fine, I have been swimming and nothing has happened. That elephant is still there, telling me I might have a seizure in the water. What if I drown? What if I have one and no one is around to help? What if…What if….What if…?

I’ve had doctors tell me to be careful with the activities I do; to pay more attention on basic human needs to include eating and sleeping, and not to over exert myself. It is difficult being told what you can do and what you cannot do. However, having epilepsy makes me more aware of my body when training, especially electrolyte balance, as an imbalance decreases my seizure threshold.

But, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot let the elephant be in the room anymore. I love to swim. I love to bike. I love to do races. Training for this Ironman means a couple different things for me. One of the reasons is the epilepsy. I am training and will do my best to complete it in order to shove that elephant out of the room. I want to show other people like myself who may have similar fears about their epilepsy, that something like competing in an Ironman event can be done, and for me, no matter what it takes, will be done.

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap…And Other Things

I decided to write a quick post  upload loads of photos while I listen to the rain pattering away on the windows. Nope, no snow; just rain.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving; I was able to have it off from work, and the Hudson Valley was blessed Thanksgiving Eve with a snowstorm, which made it feel more like Christmas Eve actually. It was nice to have the day off with family, and my sisters, mother and I took part in the Ferncliff Forest Turkey Trot (the last time I ran it and wrote about it was back in 2010!) I was thankful that the oragnizers did not postpone the race, as other 5ks in the area had been due to the incliment weather. The last 5k I did was the off-road Billy Goat 5k and I agree with prior posts in that I am not a fan of 5ks. I mean it is great that they don’t take that long to do (less than 24minutes), but I’m not used to that all-out-I’m-going-to-barf effort. I supposed with training I could get used to it. But with my sights set on an Ironman, training isn’t based around short distances. That being said, I do have speed workouts everyweek. A part of me was hoping to beat my time from my 5k last year, but, I guess this fall isn’t my year. Anyway, it was fun having the family around for the race and that they were able to take part and do the walk.

Seesters and mom

Seesters and mom

Thanksgiving weekend the fam did our Christmas decorating, which was awesome, because I cannot remember the last time we all decorated the Christmas Tree–I don’t think we have all gone tree hunting, either. Atleast from what I can remember….Christmas cookie baking and holiday decorating was a blast.

 

Does the tree have the right Christmas tree smell?

Does the tree have the right Christmas tree smell?

 

Kevin, our arborist, making sure there are enough branches in the correct spaces

Kevin, our arborist, making sure there are enough branches in the correct spaces

 

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Everyone has their part to play in the tree decorating

Everyone has their part to play in the tree decorating

Kevin and his bicycle wheel wreath!

Kevin and his bicycle wheel wreath!

Final touches require some assistance

Final touches require some assistance

Et voila!

Et voila!

cupcake decorating is no joke

cupcake decorating is no joke

I give cookie decorators mucho credit for their patience.

I give cookie decorators mucho credit for their patience.

 

A couple days ago I was able to coherce Kevin into our yearly “Walk around Rhinebeck and look at the window displays.” I’ve found the trick to having him compliant with my requests to take photos infront of the Rhinebeck Christmas Tree: buy him a soft pretzel with brown mustard along with a Mad Elf beer. 😛 I must applaud Rhinebeck this year, as the window displays are quite good. Even Kevin admitted the displays were better than years past.

I love anything shiny or that sparkles.

I love anything shiny or that sparkles.

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Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

When You Compare Yourself to Yourself

Comparing oneself to others is natural. With media down our throats now a days, it is almost impossible not to compare oneself to others. From a young age, girls and boys learn what society thinks they should look like– how they should act–what they should wear– in order to “be accepted.” Waiting in line the other day for groceries I could not help but watch the eyes of a young girl the other day (by young she must have been eleven or twelve) flipping through a Woman’s Health magazine—the type of magazine which I now loathe– one which has scantily clothed women on almost every page, with unnatural bodies, pages filled with ways to curb your hunger, lose weight and “feel great.”

I am not unfamiliar with comparing myself to others. In fact, I’ve found myself going through different “stages of comparison.” Yes, when I was young, I compared the way I looked to other girls. I compared myself to those women in health magazines (now those magazines are banned from my house as there is nothing “healthy” about them). As I got older, I found myself comparing my athleticism to others, instead of looks. Ohh, I need to mention that during this “stage,” it was not young women my age whom I compared myself to, but the athleticism of men who were older than me.  Yeah I know, I’m weird. What young woman compares her half-marathon time to a guy 10-12 years older than her? That, my friend would be me. Now, I think the reason I was like that was because 1) I didn’t do many races at the time and 2) I didn’t really have many female friends who did the outdoor activities that I enjoyed.

Over time I realized it was quite silly to compare myself to older men (hah) and began to focus on women in my age group. I guess you could say that means I became a bit more competitive when it came to races I did, which isn’t a bad thing, as I never allowed myself to get so competitive that it took the fun out of races. It actually surprised me that I was able to do well in sports after growing up being a “so-so” athlete in school.

Last fall/winter I found myself running faster, and cycling faster/farther than I ever have. I seemed to surprise myself with my 5mile/half marathon/ casual run’s. I was able to hold a 7:30-ish min mile pace for a half marathon. Never had I been able to do that before. I was riding 100+miles a week, and felt great.Recently,  I began to notice I have been comparing myself now to how I was last year, and I think it has a greater impact on me than when I ever compared myself to other people. My last couple races weren’t horrible, but they weren’t my best, either. Long rides seem to be exhausting–not at all how I remember them to be last year. I’m not able to keep that 7:30/mile pace for more than 5 miles (well, honestly, I have not tried). When I find myself comparing where I am today, to where I was last year at this time, it almost makes me feel like I have fallen out of shape. How did I get to be so slow? Why am I not the way I was last year? In the middle of runs I would find myself wanting to just “give up and walk” since, obviously, I was out of shape since I couldn’t hold the same pace as last year.   In no time I found myself feeling horrible about where I am right now; comparing myself to myself is far more destructive than comparing myself to others.

When I find myself hearing these negative thoughts questioning why I cannot run as fast as I could, or other internal negative self-talk, I need to focus on where I am now. I work more than I did last year, I’ve started a side business, and, I am training for a much larger event than I ever have and ever was training for. My rides/runs/swims are much longer than they were last year. In fact, the workouts I have now are longer and harder than they were at the peak of my training for the Patriot Half last spring.

If comparing yourself to others helps you achieve specific goals, then that is terrific. But if comparing yourself to others–or, comparing yourself to yourself–becomes harmful and destructive, it may be time to step back and do some serious soul searching. How you can still achieve your goals without harming yourself, who is, ultimately, the person that matters most?

Monday Mantra – Happiness, It’s your Job

What a wonderful, concise message!

First Time Triathlete

Happy Monday! Let’s do this! We all could use a bit of motivation to get rolling on Monday. On Mondays, I like to share a Mantra or short inspirational message. If the message resonates with you, use to motivate yourself in training or life. Do you have your own awesome Mantra? Please share it below in the comments.

Happiness

Happiness is not an outside, it’s an inside job – Fortune Cookie

I received this message in a fortune cookie last week, and it resonated with me. Happiness is not something that just happens, it is a job. We are happy when we choose to be happy. When we choose to be happy, our actions follow. How you spend your time, who you surround yourself with, and what you focus on, have a significant impact on your happiness. How you make these choices is based on your decision to be happy.

Let’s…

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GF/V Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes

GF/V Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes

Gluten free, vegan chocolate lavender cupcakes with vanilla buttercream

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A Letter to My 14-Year-Old Self,

IMG_2536Dear 14-Year-Old-Self,

Here are a few things I wish I knew when I was your age. It has taken me thirteen years to figure these things out.

1. You are beautiful, no matter what the voices in your head tell you. Beauty is not defined by the number you see on the scale, or the size of your jeans. Beauty is more than face value; it reflects your heart and soul. It does not matter if you have blemishes on your face, or a scar on your arm.

2. You are not stupid, no matter what the voices in your head tell you. You are intelligent and smart. School, work, and life will teach you things you never imagined you would know. You will never stop gaining more knowledge as you grow older.

3. You are not perfect, and that is okay. If you were perfect, imagine how boring life would be? You would never learn and never grow. You will never be perfect in life, and it is impossible to try to achieve perfection, even when you are considered “a perfectionist.” Strive for excellence, not perfection.

4. You will be bombarded with the word “diet.” Do not take it to mean what many of your peers think it is, which is weight loss. People around you will constantly be “on a diet,” they will constantly be comparing themselves with others. It will be hard not to partake in this way of thinking.

5. Think of food as nourishment for your body; nourish the temple you were given with foods that will give you energy to do the things you want to do. There are no “good” foods and “bad” foods; yes, there may be healthier options which will be better for the cells in your body, but do not focus on that. Eat what you want, when you want. See the person next to you only eating a plate of lettuce for lunch and commenting on the sandwich you are eating and how “fattening” it is? Tell them to go f-ck off. (Okay okay, maybe tell them to f-ck off in your head).

6. Starvation is not an option. Period.

7. You cannot please everyone. Just wait until you become a nurse, and this will hit home even harder. Do not kill yourself trying to please others, either. You are set up for feelings of inadequacy if you try to do so.

8. Remember your mom told you not to go to bed angry? She was right. Don’t harbor anger inside. It’s okay to express anger, as long as you do so in appropriate ways.

9. Don’t fear being alone. It teaches independence.

10.You are never too old to be silly, and don’t allow anyone tell you otherwise. Tell jokes, and have fun. Life is too short not to do the things you enjoy. Smile, even if your teeth are crooked. You do not know what your smile will bring to those around you.

11.Your journey in life will be tough. The road you think you are traveling has detours and pot-holes. But, when you reach that detour, do not fret. There is a different path you can travel on, even if it takes you a bit longer and “is annoying.” It may even be harder than you thought. But you will eventually get back to where you wanted to be.

12. Don’t be scared to ask for help. Remember #2? Smart people are those who realize when they need help, and they aren’t scared of seeking it out.

13. Don’t be afraid to dream big. And don’t let anyone stop you from going for your dreams. Just never forget to stop once and awhile to smell the roses while you are in pursuit of your dreams.

14. Lastly, you are lovable. You will go through heartbreak. But in the end, someone, someday will love you unconditionally. He will love you, even though you are not perfect. He will think you are beautiful, even when you feel you aren’t, and he will forever be telling you that. Listen to him–he is right. And don’t forget to love yourself. You cannot truly love someone else if you don’t first love the person you are.

Always,

27-Year-Old Me

This isn’t related to biking/swimming/running, but….

I started my own little side-baking business!

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

Filled with lots of vegan, GF options.

Bee Happy Cupcakes

🙂

I just wanted to share the news…As, my time spent off the bike/out of running shoes/out of the water and outside of work is spent busy in the kitchen.

 

 

Some Winter Re-boot recipes

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If you happened to read Winter Re-boot   then you are aware I am doing a two week winter “cleanse” so to speak, getting back to the basics of eating and nourishing my body. Which means, introducing new, healthier food options. Since I will be working the next four days (ugh, 4 12hr shifts in a row….), I decided to make my meals today and will make breakfasts the day of. I must say, I used to think quinoa was a bland food. What I have come to realize, it is so versatile, and if you are unfamiliar with it, SUPER healthy. For vegetarians/vegans, it is high in protein and gluten free (win win food, if you’d ask me).

For the next four days, here are the meals I plan on making (well, I already made the dinners and lunches).

Instead of coffee, I will have hot water with juice of one lemon, some raw apple cider vinegar, and honey (or stevia). I’ve already tried this, and it may taste strong at first, but it is addicting (in a good way!)

Breakfast

(For the smoothies, just blend everything together)

Super Green smoothie a la Molly:

  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp of each of the following: chia seeds, supergreens (spirulina) and ground flax seeds
  • 1 T cacao powder
  • 1 T hemp seeds
  • 1 c. kale or spinach
  • a couple ice cubes

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Chocolate Berry Protein shake (from Superfood Kitchen)

  • 2 T raw cashews
  • 1.5 T hemp seeds
  • 3/4 c. blueberries (Frozen is fine)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 2 Medjool dates, pits removed
  • 2 T cacao powder
  • 1 T hemp protein powder (optional_
  • 1.25c cold water
  • ice
  • stevia or desired sweetener to taste

Spinach & Pumpkin Seed power smoothie (from The Nourishing Seed)

  • 1c water, almond, hemp or coconut milk
  • 3 T pumpkin seeds
  • 1small banana frozen
  • 1c. frozen blueberries
  • 1c spinach
  • 1 T of each: ground flax and chia seeds
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • stevia to taste
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Fig Power smoothie (from Nourishing Seed)

  • 1.5c milk of your choice
  • 3-4 fresh figs, stems removed (i could not find these, so opted for dried instead)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1c. spinach
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 3-4 ice cubes (optional)

Lunch/ Dinner

Homemade Miso Soup a la Molly

Full of healthy ingredients!

Full of healthy ingredients!

Parsnip Cream Soup (to die for!)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large celery ribs,
  • chopped 1 small onion,
  • chopped 4 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 vegetable seasoning
  • 2 cups broth (vegetable) or water
  • 1/2teaspoon sea salt,  1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 c. cup rice milk (or dairy-free option)

Assemble the soup base. In a large pot, add extra virgin olive oil on medium flame. When the pan is hot, add the celery and onion. Sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add parsnips, poultry or vegetable seasoning, and broth (or water) along with sea salt and black pepper. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Then lower the flame and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. When the parsnips are tender, remove from heat.

Make it creamy. You can use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth. You can also blend the soup in batches using a standup blender. When the soup is blended, pour it back to the pot and add the dairy-free milk. Reheat the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Quinoa with Secret Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes(From Superfood Kitchen)

Making the pesto

Making the pesto

Just a FYI, this is delicious! Crazy that it is vegan and nut free. With the quinoa and hemp seeds, it has almost 17g of protein!

  • 2 c. (packed) basil, fresh
  • 1/2 c. hemp seeds
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. EFA oil
  • 1 tsp freeze-dried wheatgrass powder (I omitted this as i didn’t have it on hand)
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 4c. cooked quinoa
  • 2c. packed baby spinach, cut extra thin
  • 1/2 c. packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

To prepare: place the basil, seeds, oils, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt in a food processor and process into a pesto sauce. Then, add the sauce to the quinoa and then add the tomatoes and spinach.

Massaged Kale Salad (Adapted form The Nourishing Seed)

  • 4 cups of kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 avocado, chopped (I omitted this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt  and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pomegranate seeds (top top), sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

Prepare the kale. Add kale, parsley, lemon juice, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to a large bowl. Massage the kale and other ingredients with clean hands. The kale should turn a bright green and become softer. Massage until well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Add remaining ingredients. Add your chopped apple and shredded carrots to the kale mixture. Toss.

Sweet and Spicy Collard Slaw (From The Nourishing Seed)

  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1bunch collard greens, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red cabbage thinly sliced
  • t/1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Dressing

  • 2 naval oranges, juiced
  • 1/4c. braggs raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2c olive oil
  • 2 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1 date, pitted
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Prepare the dressing. Preparing the dressing first allows the flavors to intermingle before using it on your salad. Add the orange juice, Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar, olive oil, cumin, the pitted date, garlic clove, sea salt, and black pepper to a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Allow the dressing to sit for at least 15 minutes before dressing your salad.

Toss the salad. Add your thinly sliced collards, red cabbage, and carrot to a large salad bowl. Add enough dressing to coat the salad, but not drown it. Add red pepper flakes if desired. Mix thoroughly. Enjoy!

Lemon Basil Quinoa with Lentils(Adapted form The Nourishing Seed)

  • 2 cups lentils, soaked overnight
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa  cup raisins
  • 1 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 large lemon, juiced
  • Sea salt to taste

Cook your lentils. Drain your lentils and add them to a pot. Cover the lentils with water and cook over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients. When lentils are cooked, drain and let them cool and pour olive oil on top. Add cooked quinoa, raisins, chopped basil leaves, and sea salt to taste. Stir all the ingredients in a large bowl and add olive oil.

I rolled the quinoa up in a collard green for a wrap

I rolled the quinoa up in a collard green for a wrap

Pre-bed (or any time of day) snack options

(I am one of those people who has to have a little snack before bed.)

Homemade cashew milk mmmm

Homemade cashew milk mmmm

  • 1 c. warm homemade cashew milk (I can now scratch it off my 30 before 30 list!)
  • Chia seed pudding
  • Apple with sunflower seed butter
  • One roasted sweet potato with 3 tablespoons hemp seeds, garlic & sea salt, or opt for a sweet treat and drizzle your sweet potato with 2 tablespoons maple syrup, cinnamon & nutmeg.
  • Raw protein seed balls

On a separate, non food note, my house is officially ready for Valentine’s Day! I am pretty sure Martha Stewart would be my best friend if we ever met.

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“You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To”

In six months I’ll be attempting competing in my second half IM distance race.

The first one didn’t go so well.

But things are different now. I am in a different place in my life than I was when I tried Mooseman a couple years ago. I am determined to finish this one. And in order to do so, I am determined to train appropriately, and fill my body with the nutrients it needs in order to succeed. Being that it is winter, and we are having a snow storm, may make some workouts more difficult, and I may not be able to follow the plan to a T, but, hey, you cannot predict Mother Nature.

Below is my first week of training:

Monday: Run: 6×8:00 with 2:00 walk in-between

Ride: 21 mile road ride (my body is not used to riding in mid-30 degree weather…when will it be spring?)

Wednesday: Leisure Mtn bike ride

Thursday: 10x 2:00 @7:20 with a 2:00 walk in between

Friday: Swim 40-50minutes at a comfortable pace

Saturday: Trainer 45 min

A lot can happen between now and the race, but I am starting off the New Year excited for 2014. I feel good things are in store!

To the Person Behind the Athlete…

Behind every athlete, is a person.

Whether the person is a man, or a woman; a friend or a family member; it doesn’t matter.

That person believes in the athlete.

That person wakes up early on their days off, in order to drive with the athlete to far-off races.

He sacrifices his own schedule to be with that athlete, even if the race is as short as a 5k race, a marathon; a mountain bike race or a triathlon.

That person is the one who stands on the side lines, while the athlete prepares for a race.

He  stands by, as the starting shot goes off.

He not only cheers for that athlete, he cheers for everyone.

He cheers as the racers pass, and the racers finish.

He willingly gives a helping hand to other participants, whether it be helping with a flat tire, or taking a photo.

He is there at the end, with arms open wide, embracing the athlete, whether she finished first, or finished last.

He is there for her.

For support.

For encouragement.

Because without him, she’d never be the athlete she is today. Nor will be tomorrow.

To all of those people, who stand behind athletes:

Thank you.

For your support.

Your words of encouragement, your clapping of hands,

And your never ending enthusiasm.

It means more than words can express.

If you have never been acknowledge before, let today be the first day that you are acknowledged.

If you have never been thanked for being on the side lines, in the shadows, let today be the day that you are thanked.

For even if you were there to be with a certain athlete, and/or racer, you were actually there for everyone. 

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