Sunday, August 31, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Jambalaya

Breakout the crockpot because it's almost fall, unless you walk outside right now...The weather seems to be confused. Of course it's been relatively coolish all summer then I move back to school and BAM it get smoking hot again. I always hate that- I can't enjoy the weather while I'm stuck in classes all day and it's depressing.

I tripled checked that I packed my crockpot before leaving home. For those who have been reading for awhile I live off my crockpot during the school year (eventually I will get back to my crockpot Monday posts). With my crockpot I make enough food for the week, so I can come back from class and just heat up leftovers. Leftovers make my life so much easier, especially when I come back from class really late and hangry.

I have never had jambalaya before. The sodium content is too high for my liking and shrimp freaks me out. I wanted to try it so I decided to switch out the shrimp for turkey sausage. It was so delicious and it made a giant amount of food- 9 servings! 

Crockpot Chicken Jambalaya
  • 1/2 package Tyson Chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1 low fat turkey skinless turkey sausage-I bought a 13 oz. package (two sausages) and only used 1 of the sausages
  • 16 oz frozen stir fry vegetables
  • 14.5 ounce organic diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces reduced sodium Jambalaya rice mix
  • 2 cups water

Line crockpot with crockpot liner.

Dump frozen vegetables into the bottom of the crockpot.

Cut turkey sausage in thin slices, then cut it in half.

Place chicken breast tenderloins and turkey sausages on top of vegetables.

Pour diced tomatoes on top of meat and then pour in water.

Cover crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or low for 3 hours.

40 minutes before serving add jambalaya rice mix into crockpot, stir in and switch crockpot to high. 

If you are really hungry (or hangry like I was...) you can eat a bit after 20 minutes, but it will still be watery because the water won't be fully absorbed yet.

Nutrition per serving (serves 9):
Calories: 165
Carbs: 7
Fat: 3
Protein: 17 
Sodium: 373
Sugar: 4

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Super Simple Egg White Omelette

Going through my pictures reminds me how many posts I have to catch up on. It's depressing to think summer is over and I have less time now to blog since I am back at school- it's only the fourth day of classes and the work has already been piled high. Sigh.

Anyways, when it rains it pours, literally. A few days before I moved back to college we had a stretch of days where it was sunny and nice for most of the day, but in the early evening the skies would open up and pour. It was on one of those days where it poured that my mom and I were going to grill chicken and fish. I love to grill, but I am not standing out in the pouring rain to do so. I ended up making breakfast for dinner instead.

I'm not a huge omelette fan, but we had egg whites in the house leftover from when my brother was home and I didn't want them to be thrown out. I also just felt like having breakfast. The omelette exceeded my expectations and next time when I have an omelette hankering I will definitely be making this one!

You will need:
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1/8 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/8 cup diced orange bell pepper 
  • small handful of mixed kale and spinach
  • 1.5 tablespoons mozzarella cheese

Spray a skillet thoroughly with nonstick cook spray. Heat to medium/low heat.

When the pan is heated pour in egg whites. Cook for about 3 minutes. 

Use a spatula and flip the omelette- it will look like an egg pancake. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Reduce to a very low heat. Add in bell peppers, spinach/kale and cheese. Fold omelette in half and cook just long enough to allow cheese to melt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Untimely Heat Wave

Heat waves never come at a good time do they? Yesterday was the first day of classes and of course it was 90 degrees, with the heat index it was 93 and 90% humidity. UGH. Thankfully I only had one class yesterday, but of course it was at 4:30 right in the heat of the day. I love summer, but couldn't we have had this nice weather when it was actually summer?! 

With it being the first day of classes I wanted to make a hearty, healthy meal to start the semester off on the right foot. I made a giant batch of oven roasted vegetables that are seriously to die for, roasted salmon, green beans with slivered almonds and some raw cauliflower and broccoli. I may have been craving vegetables and I definitely got my fix! 

Sometimes I find it hard to get all my servings of vegetables in in a day. After making roasted vegetables I know that it will never be a problem because I look forward to eating leftovers, so my freezer will always be stocked with roasted veggies!

Oven Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 broccoli crown or 1/2 large head of broccoli
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash and cut up all vegetables. 

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with nonstick cook spray so vegetables won't stick to sheet and burn.

Spread vegetables out evenly over baking sheet. They should be as close to a single layer as possible.

Carefully drizzle olive oil over vegetables. 

Sprinkle salt and pepper over vegetables to your liking. 

Bake veggies at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The vegetables will be golden and slightly crispy when done. 

Salmon is a wonderful food for your brain! Plus it is one of my absolute favorite foods so I also had it with my roasted vegetables. It worked out perfectly because salmon bakes at 400 degrees so you can cook salmon and the vegetables at the same time.

Place salmon on tin foil and lightly spray the top with nonstick cook spray or coconut oil. I seasoned mine with GF seafood seasoning I found at Costco. Bake salmon at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Salmon is done when it is tender and easily flakes when prodded with a fork.

I know I've shared my green beans with slivered almonds recipe before, but I'll share it again.

Cut the ends of the green beans off. Place all trimmed green beans in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover the top of the green beans. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium/low and allow to simmer for 12 minutes. The green beans will be tender when they are done. Drain water from pot. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of garlic salt in with almonds and toss to coat. Add in 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds.

Finally, I had a little bit of raw cauliflower and broccoli, maybe 1/3 cup of each. 

Unfortunately I have to get ready to go to class- I have four classes in a row today yuck! On the bright side I get to go home Thursday night for a long Labor Day weekend. I can't wait to see my puppy! Have a great Tuesday!

P.S. I apologize for not responding to emails, I've been having problems with Internet and getting things to load properly. I hope to get all the kinks worked out ASAP, thank you for your patience! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Finally Settled

I am finally done unpacking! All of the boxes are gone, 95% of pictures have been hung and I finally have a stocked refrigerator. Now if only my Internet would work like it's supposed to I would be a totally happy camper (bear with me through tech difficulties please). 

Moving back and forth between school and home is exhausting. I was excited to move back to school- I am NOT looking forward to classes starting tomorrow- but I was most excited to get into my apartment and set up the kitchen. I still need to pick up a few things, but I really love how everything has shaped up. All of the moving, unpacking and adjusting to a new place have definitely left me exhausted. I need another day of summer vacation just so I can hole away and catch the blog up!

Today in the midst of everything I made a really quick, simple and protein packed lunch. A few of my friends rave about Square Bars and I finally got my hands on a few to try them so I cut one up and threw it in my yogurt bowl. 

Cocoa Crunch Square Bar Bowl
  • 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 3 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1.5 tablespoons prepared PB2
  • 1 Cocoa Crunch Square Bar, cut into chunks

I layered my bowl. First was the greek yogurt, then strawberries and blueberries. Around the edges of the bowl I placed the banana slices and smeared them with PB2. Finally I heated up the Square Bar for 15 seconds in the microwave, just enough to get the chocolate nice and gooey, and placed it on top.

I have a back log of posts to catch up on so be on the lookout for new recipes. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and if anyone is starting classes tomorrow like me have a great start to the semester!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to the Grind

I have seriously been slacking on the blog front and I apologize! Life has been incredibly crazy since we left the cabin last Saturday. If coming back from vacation isn't enough, tomorrow I move back to college only adding to the craziness. I promise I will get more recipes up this weekend after I move into my new apartment.

After we got back from the cabin, unpacked, got groceries and finally sat down we were all exhausted- even Cora was tired. Nobody felt like cooking, so we picked up Boston Market. There are plenty of healthy choices at Boston Market, but there are also some not so healthy choices so it is important to order carefully and check the nutrition facts.

We ordered plain chicken breasts, green beans, steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes. I had a little bit of chicken, but the vegetables are my favorite. I loaded up on green beans and steamed vegetables.

While on vacation I was good about working out in the mornings. I didn't have the weights and all the equipment I normally use at the gym, but I ran or power walked in the mornings. I did indulge in a few treats, but we all need to treat ourselves occasionally.

Since being back home I have been hitting the gym making up for lost time. I've been getting back into the grove of things slowly getting my mileage back up on the bike since I can't currently run due to lupus pain in my back.

One of the big changes I made when I got home was I had over half a foot of hair chopped off at a local salon. I love my long hair, but I needed a change and I was about ten minutes away from pulling a Brittney Spears and shaving it off. How come I can't get my hair to look half as good as my stylist? 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quest Bar Chunks!

Life is good when you open a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Bar and find giant chocolate chunks. Who doesn't love chunks in their Quest Bars? After a long workout I wanted to refuel, plus I was craving something sweet, so a Quest Bar was perfect. 

I chopped up the Quest Bar into small chunks, placed the chunks on a plate and microwaved it for 45 seconds. The chunks puff up real big in the microwave like they're going to explode. Microwaved Quest Bar is the bomb- seriously though it tastes like a real chocolate chip cookie.

I put my chocolate chip cookie dough Quest Bar chunks into a bowl of vanilla greek yogurt with 1/4 of fresh blueberries. The blueberries and chocolate chunks combined were seriously amazing!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Morning Glory

Mornings are my favorite time of time. People used to tell me I was wired wrong because teenagers are supposed to sleep in, but apparently my circadian rhythm never got the memo. Even at 20 I still wake up at or before 5 am every day, no alarm clock necessary. 

I love early mornings for two reasons: everything is so peaceful and I can get a kick butt workout in before having to really start my day. Early morning runs are also my favorites in the summer. I love watching the sun rise and the world come to life. 

After getting my miles in for the day I threw together a quick Pure Protein yogurt bowl. It had:
  • 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 Pure Protein Chocolate Deluxe Bar, cut into chunks and heated up in the microwave for 35 seconds
  • 2 smaller homemade granola clusters, broken into chunks
The yogurt bowl hit the spot after running and it was packed with protein to help me refuel. 

Later on my cousin brought her puppy Jake over the cabin. Cora was in absolute heaven playing with Jake. Jake also discovered his love for the lake- he loved moving giant rocks, it was pretty funny to watch! Both pups were exhausted by the time they left. Cora crashed in her crate for the night and was even exhausted the next day. A tired puppy is always a good puppy!

Review: JoJo's Natural Market

I was bummed I couldn't go ATVing with the guys the other day because it's to bumpy and jerky, which would be painful for my joints. I wasn't about to let that keep me down, so I did a little research and I found a natural market. The market was not close by, but the guys would be gone all day so I packed some snacks and made the drive.

I am so glad I made the drive the market was amazing! The place is called JoJo's Natural Market and if you're ever in Northern Michigan I HIGHLY recommend making the drive to check them out. I think one of the workers was slightly concerned because I was so excited. JoJo's had every brand I've ever wanted to try all at affordable prices- most of their prices beat Amazon! 

For being a small store they had a wide selection of everything from organic locally grown produce to meats to baking needs to vitamins and organic shampoos. I literally could have bought the entire store. I was beyond excited when I found Wild Friends Sesame Cranberry Peanut Butter. I had done extensive research and stores in Michigan don't carry that brand- until I came into JoJo's! I also found Square Bars, which are extremely hard to find anywhere. I may have bought a square bar in every flavor....

The workers were also extremely friendly. As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted and the worker asked if he could help me find anything. I really appreciated that the workers were friendly, asked how I was doing and if I needed help, but didn't hoover while I was browsing. I hate when I feel like I'm being watched when browsing in a store, but I did not get that sense at all in JoJo's. 

Overall the store is fantastic! I had to restrain myself from completely emptying my bank account there. If you're ever in Northern Michigan you must check out JoJo's Natural Market, I know I'll be driving back next year! Click here for more information about JoJo's.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Tummy

Two words: food coma. But seriously worth it. My dad had been craving a good steak for awhile and requested we go to a small steakhouse in town before we went back home. Last night we decided to go there for dinner and I can honestly say it was the best meal I have had in a long time- maybe ever!

My dad and brother of course ordered steaks while my mom and I got salads- we are not steak eaters. I ordered the Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad and oh my! The chicken was beyond delicious! If I had to eat chicken one way for the rest of my life this would be it. It was so moist and tender and just seriously melted in my mouth. I savored every last scrumptious bite of my salad.

10K and Refueling

It rained all day yesterday, so I was excited this morning was clear. I waited until it warmed up a bit and then headed out for a run. My body was craving a long run. Since well before my diagnosis I haven't been able to run far because of pain. I took it slow and ran at a leisurely pace.

I felt amazing when I finished running. It so great to have the wind in my face and just run. Running also serves as my prayer time, so it was nice to be able to connect with God while enjoying his beautiful creation.

Once I got back and cleaned up my stomach was rumbling. I had picked up a Dannon Light and Fit Mango Lemonade Greek yogurt at the grocery store a few days ago and decided to give it a try. I threw in two tablespoons of homemade granola with the yogurt. Normally I am not a fan of flavored yogurt because they often taste artificial. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious the flavor was. The yogurt was a delicious post run snack and helped me refuel.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Is Real Beauty?

The beauty debate is a hot topic. As a women there constantly images coming as us telling us how we should look, dress, how we should act and what we should weigh. In recent years there has been an ongoing beauty battle with Dove's Real Beauty Campaign and Victoria's Secret's I Love My Body. 

I've always been envious of the women in the Victoria's Secret ads. Their bodies are perfect, but are their bodies actually perfect or are they photoshopped to perfection? Don't get me wrong I'm sure those girls have worked hard to stay in shape, but who knows what extremes they have gone to to attain those bodies. 

The Dove Real Beauty Campaign I think is more relatable. I love that it features real women who are embracing their body- imperfections and all. All too often we focus on tearing ourselves down instead of embracing what makes us who we are. 

Recently I came across an article by blogger Samantha McClelland from Minor Numbers. It's a beautifully written article and Sam was gracious enough to let me share it with all of you. Be sure to check out her blog here!

Dove vs. Victoria's Secret: What is Real Beauty?

I know that there has been a lot of controversy for awhile over Dove and Victoria's 
Secret love your body campaigns. These two campaigns are in stark contrast even 
though they are trying to convey the same idea: to love your body. The problem?
What exactly are you supposed to look like in order to love your body? According 
to Victoria's Secret, you should look something like this:

Photo courtesy of Victoria's Secret ad. 
In short, to love your body you should basically be a super model. Long limbs 
that are thin and toned, flowing and curved abs, and not an ounce of extra fat
anywhere to be found on your body. Now, I'm not trying to put any of these 
models down because they are all drop-dead gorgeous but the truth is that 
the average woman does not look like this. For the women who are not in the 
fashion industry or not genetically endowed with a 5'10" frame, it's pretty 
impossible for all of us to look the way the models do in real life. Just because 
we can't look like those models doesn't mean we're not beautiful, though, 
and I don't think that's what Victoria's Secret is trying to say with this ad. 
The point of this post is not to analyze marketing ploys of this ad but rather to 
talk about how these images affect women and most importantly how it makes 
us feel about our bodies. I can't say for sure what was going on with this 
idea at Victoria's Secret because I wasn't there when this was developed but 
what I can say is that for me, as a woman, it missed the mark entirely.

Personally, I don't want to be shown images of stick-thin women that I will 
never be able to look like and then be told to love my body. Seeing an ad like 
this will never teach me to love my body as it is. That comes from changing my 
perspective and the way I feel about myself, not just being told to do it by an 
advertisement of women who all appear self-confident in their skin and possess 
perfect beauty, as determined by societal ideals today. Sorry Victoria's Secret, 
this isn't meant to be a nasty rant tearing this ad apart, but it's the perfect 
example of why so many girls, young women, adult women, or women of any 
age, have insecurities. It's because society gives us an unattainable image and 
then tells us that's what real beauty is, and if you don't look like that then society 
will not see you as beautiful. I still have a hard time when I see a picture of a model 
in a magazine to stop myself from comparing my flaws to her perfections. It's so 
unhealthy and makes me feel so bad about myself. But that kind of behavior and 
thinking needs to stop and I'm glad that people are stepping up to the plate and 
trying to change things. With that being said, I'm a fan of the Dove campaign and 
I'll tell you why with one simple reason: it gives me hope.

Photo courtesy of Dove Real Beauty Campaign
I know what critics have said about Dove's campaign but like I said this post isn't 
about marketing strategies and I'm not going to discuss that at all. It's about how 
these campaigns affect me as a woman, and when I found out about Dove's 
campaign and watched the videos, it gave me hope. Hope that maybe things were 
going in a more positive direction. Think about it this way: would you want to 
watch your daughter, sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandma, best friend, any 
female loved one in your life criticize themselves the way you do it to yourself? 
You can't understand why they would do that to themselves because you can 
see just how beautiful they truly are so why can't we do that for ourselves? 
Because we are our own worst critics. I mean if I ended up the topic on Fashion 
Police, Joan Rivers couldn't say meaner things about my appearance than I've 
already said to myself. I can rip myself limb from limb and have nothing left 
but what does that do to help me? Absolutely nothing. Would you want to hear 
someone you love say the same awful things to themselves that you've said to 
yourself before? No, you wouldn't because it would break your heart to hear 
them say that and to know that's what they think about themselves.

The point is that we're able to see others' beauty but we can't always find it 
in ourselves. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to that but I love how 
Dove is trying to show women that it's not healthy and it needs to change. We 
can't keep on living like this as a society, tearing ourselves down and worse, 
thinking that tearing other people apart will make us feel better about ourselves. 
Remember Mean Girls, ladies? Calling someone else fat or ugly or stupid won't 
make us any prettier, thinner or smarter. All it does is make us mean and teach 
us to only look on the outside of people. We are all beautiful, inside and out, 
and we need to start feeling empowered by our beauty. For so long, I shoved 
away my issues and hid them in a dark corner of my life. I was afraid to face my 
insecurities and unable to cope with the bad feelings about myself and my body. I 
kept trying to lose weight and depriving myself because on some distorted level in 
my mind I thought some day I would be able to look like the girl in the magazine. 
Sounds crazy right? That's in the past, though, and the only way I could learn to be 
comfortable in my own skin was to love and accept my body. In order to do that, I 
had to face the reality that I would never be able to look like the women in the magazine. 
I'm 5'1" and have short legs so do you really think I could ever be a Victoria's Secret 
model? On top of that, I run 5 days a week so my legs are pretty muscular and will 
never be dainty or fragile-looking. It doesn't mean my legs aren't perfect the way 
they are, just different from someone else's. And that's the idea behind the idea 
of real beauty that Dove is trying to tell us-- that we all come in different heights, 
body type, bone structure, hair color, eye color, etc. That's what makes us all 
beautiful in our own way!

Think about it, we can't all look like the models or actresses. It's not genetically 
possible but most importantly, it wasn't planned that way. We were all 
created individually with our own purpose in life so we need to embrace the 
diversity of our beauty. Everyone is different but that's what makes us beautiful. 
There is no one else like us and we need to celebrate that fact. I think it's 
wonderful and amazing that no two people are alike. Real beauty is looking 
around at all the different faces and appreciating the fact that each one is 
a unique creation! So next time you're feeling down on yourself or picking 
out your flaws in your reflection, just remember that you're your own worst 
critic. Chances are someone else will see what you see but rather consider 
it a flaw, they'll see it as something that makes you beautiful just the way you 
are. Just to prove this point, Dove did an experiment where they had women 
describe themselves to a forensic artist so he could sketch them but then had 
to describe one of the other women they were asked to get to know 
beforehand. The results are very touching and moving. Watch the full video 
here to see just what happens. I also love Dove's Selfie project andEvolution video.

I think Dove's efforts are wonderful and it makes me hopeful about the future 
to see a large company going against the grain in order to help women. People 
can say what they want about Dove's true motives with this campaign or that 
they didn't do any better than Victoria's Secret but I believe that's just negative 
people having nothing nice to say. To me, this is a campaign for a good 
cause by showing women of all ages that beauty is attainable because it's 
already within us. We don't need society trying to tell us what is actually 
beautiful because we are all already beautiful, inside and out, but the problem 
is that we just have never seen it there before. Beauty is just being exactly 
as you are and that's why it's real. It's not a photoshopped picture in a magazine 
or the result of heavy amounts of make-up, it's being just the way you 
naturally are. That's why I love the Dove Real Beauty because it's honest and 
realistic. It encourages women to be proud of who they are, what they look like, 
and what they can do. Dove is trying to tell us that we don't have to fit this 
mold that society has made for women. We need to stop tearing apart 
our physical appearance and see ourselves as beautiful. I love Dove's Campaign 
for Real Beauty because it reminds me to be good to myself and to love 
my body as it is because it's all mine. I'll never have another body so 
I need to respect this one. I'm 100% real and I'm proud of that!

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Over the weekend I posted about the 5K race I participated in. The race was part of a small town festival called Timberfest. I love small town festivals and seeing the pride people have in their hometown. 

Saturday morning was the 5K, so after driving back to the cabin and cleaning up I made the drive back to check out the rest of the small town celebration. 

There were all sorts of vendors selling everything from crafts to clothing. My favorite thing was the wood carver. I've never been a crafty person, so watching someone take a log and make it into something beautiful amazes me. The man had a variety of carvings for sale- everything from bears to signs to furniture. He was incredibly talented and I loved watching him work.

I thought this bear was kind cute. I liked how he was peeking out of the log. 

There was also a balloon artist. I don't think you're ever too old for balloon animals or a balloon crown. A little boy had a dinosaur balloon crown, which was totally awesome- I may have been slightly jealous. The balloon artist made me a snail crown. My family thought it was ridiculous, but I think they were just jealous of how awesome it was :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Grilled Veggie Wrap

Summer is BBQ season in my family. I love grilled salmon and chicken, but nothing beats fresh grilled vegetables. The other night while I was grilling up chicken breasts I grilled a giant basket of fresh veggies in one of those grill baskets (a worthy investment in my mind).

The veggies came out perfectly tender and my family raved about them for days. Once you taste them you'll understand why they're so delicious. We had enough leftovers for another meal. I heated up leftovers in the microwave and served them on a GF low carb tortilla with some shredded grilled chicken.

Grilled Veggie Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced 
  • 8 oz pack of organic baby sliced mushrooms
  • 1 pound fresh green and yellow beans
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • OPTIONAL: 1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Seasoning of choice

Wash and slice all vegetables. 

Lightly toss vegetables with olive oil and seasonings of choice.

Place all vegetables in a grill basket. 

On a heated grill place basket. Every two to three minutes stir vegetables with a grill safe spatula. Cook for twenty minutes, or until vegetables begin to darken and become tender.

Allow vegetables to cool before placing in an airtight container and storing in a fridge.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Here Goes Nothing

I have been reluctant until now to share my diagnosis. I didn't want people to think I just wanted attention or sympathy, but honestly I'm done worrying about what other people think of me. This is who I am and this is my story.

The past year and a half has been extremely challenging with my health. For the longest time doctors could not figure out what was wrong, why I was losing weight, why I couldn't keep food down or why my joints were so swollen and painful. I was in and out of doctors offices, the emergency room and the medical clinic on campus. With each different diagnosis I grew more frustrated because nothing was helping.

By Thanksgiving last year I had become scary skinny because no matter how hard I tried I could not keep food in my body. I tried everything from soup to the BRAT diet, but nothing seemed to work. I was exhausted all the time and was struggling to stay on top of all my school work. Doctors told me I was working myself too hard. Then came the diagnosis of thyroid problems. Next it was mono, which I knew wasn't it because I already had mono years ago.

Around Christmas my stomach finally stopped revolting and I was able to keep food down. I started regaining strength, but I was still exhausted all the time. It didn't matter if I slept 5 hours or 10 hours I was exhausted. 

Severe migraines crippled me next. I have always had migraines so I didn't think anything of it until I started having one every day. I was referred to different doctors and neurologists, but none of them understood why there was a sudden increase in the frequency of headaches. 

In beginning of July I was back at my regular doctor complaining again about how swollen and painful my joints were. It was then that she asked me about all the little bruises on my legs and the lacy pattern of bruising up my arms. I had had the bruising for so long I no longer thought anything of it. Of course I was self conscious about it and that's why I shied away from pictures, but I never thought all of my symptoms could be connected. 

My doctor ran massive amounts of bloodwork on me (again), but this time I finally had a diagnosis. I had lupus. All of the aches, pains, weight loss and bruising was caused by the lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease where your bodies immune system attack itself causing all sorts of problems like weight loss, joint pain and headaches among other symptoms.

Getting the diagnosis was a bit of a shock, but also a relief. It was nice to finally have answers, but also scary because there is no cure for lupus. Lupus is fully manageable with medication and a great team of doctors, thankfully I have an awesome team of doctors. 

It has been a long road to get a positive diagnosis, but finally knowing has given me some peace of mind. While I have only had a diagnosis for a little over a month and am still working on a treatment plan with doctors I am optimistic about the future. I was able to start running again and that has brought me more joy than anyone could understand. I've fought hard to be able to run again and while I'm nowhere near the level I used to be I am still proud. I am proud that I fought through the aches and pains and ran my first 5K yesterday since being diagnosed.

Lupus will affect the rest of my life, but I refuse to let it set limitations on what I can or cannot do. I am determined to run a marathon, despite what doctors have told me. Yes lupus will make things more difficult, but it does not make them impossible. 

Lupus is a part of me, but it does not define me. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

5K Race Fuel

Life is good. Six months ago I never thought I would be in the place or state of mind I currently am, but I couldn't be happier. This afternoon I shared a picture on instagram from the 5K I ran in this morning. 

I had so much fun participating in the run and I can't wait to race again soon. Taking part in the 5K was a blessing for me because a month ago I was diagnosed with lupus- I will write a separate post about that. 

While my time was not my personal best or close to what I used to be able to do prior to health challenges I am proud I was able to participate. 

It was a great first race post diagnosis because it wasn't the traditional 5K. They didn't keep track of our times, instead everyone got participatory medals. Gotta love small town races.

Last night prior to the race I made sure to fuel my body properly for today. I had the other half of my Michigan Salad (the one with smoked turkey breast), a delicious GF roll and a baby sweet potato. Food is fuel and it's always important to fuel your body properly!

For dinner today, post-race, I had a firework salad, a small veggie plate with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, cooked green beans and the last GF roll.

Nothing better to refuel your body with than lots fresh veggies! Plus they were all fresh and locally produced, which just adds to their awesomeness. Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend and enjoying this beautiful weather as much as I am!

Night Out: A Different Michigan Salad

I know, I know the salad has the same name, but I promise it's not the same salad or the same restaurant. We wanted to eat a nicer restaurant, however in the middle of nowhere food choices are limited.

We found a restaurant, but were not at all impressed by the service or food. We got to the restaurant and there was a bunch of empty tables, but we still had to wait 20 minutes to be seated. Once we were finally seated we waited another 10 minutes (if not more) to get a waitress to our table. By then we were thirsty, VERY hungry and angry (what I call hangry which is NEVER a good combination). We basically had memorized the menu by then so we ordered immediately and it took an hour to get our food, which was not overly impressive especially given the price.

Overall the food was good, but I don't think it was worth what they charged. I did enjoy my salad, but it could be made at home with a few simple ingredients.

Michigan Salad (same name different place and salad)
  • 2 cups mixed greens lettuce
  • one smoked, shredded turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries

Friday, August 8, 2014

Almost There

Happy FRIDAY!! I am kicking off this cloudy Friday morning while watching the sunrise over the lake. I also have ants in my pants about tomorrow because I am participating in a 5K. 

The past few months have been a roller coaster ride with my health and one of the things that was brought up was I might never get back to where I was running wise. It was a devastating blow especially after working so hard to build up mileage. After months of being unable to run I started running again, but it became an extremely frustrating task. I couldn't- and still can't- perform at the level I used to and that is a hard pill to swallow. Long story short, I am still nowhere near where I used to be- and yes sometimes I am way too hard on myself about it- but I am not letting the voice in my head get me down. I AM running in this 5K and I won't beat myself up over my time.

I have been working really hard hitting the trails in the mornings to get ready for the 5K tomorrow morning. It hasn't been easy, but I am excited to race tomorrow. Yesterday I ran on the trails around the cabin and besides being eaten alive by mosquitoes I felt surprisingly good. 

After I finished, cooled down and stretched I grabbed a quick lunch before heading out to enjoy the lake with some family.

I still had my Michigan Salad leftovers from the other night, so I reheated the grilled chicken in the microwave and added in a hard boiled egg for extra protein. I also had a cup of fresh cherries- they are in season here in Michigan and they are so good! Anyone have any good cherry recipes to share?