Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Walnut Bread

Today’s Happy Note: Baking.  I love baking.  Never fails to make me feel better.

Marathon Training: I did my yoga class and 4.5 miles with strides on Wednesday.  Yesterday I started the 30 Day Shred and then USB got here so I didn’t finish.  Today I did 20 minutes of hip-opening yoga before work, and 6.5miles after work.

For the first time in a long time my legs felt great!  It felt like I was gliding along.  I felt light but also strong.  Win.  I did 6×400, two per mile for miles two, three, and four.  It was spectacular!

I am starting to think that all of my hard training may have paid off!  Hopefully the rest of taper keeps going this smoothly.

And now, a recipe!  It’s been a while since I have come up with anything.  And to be honest, I didn’t exactly create this myself.  It comes from my Uncle John!  So, thank you, Uncle John!  It’s in our family cookbook.  It’s really cool!  It has pictures of my grandparents, an extended family tree, and recipes from everyone!

Caronae’s Pumpkin Walnut Chocolate Chip Bread

Adapted from John’s Banana Nut Bread

  • 1.25 C Wheat Flour
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1 C Oats
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 C pureed Pumpkin
  • 1/3 C melted Butter/Earth Balance
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 C Milk/Soy Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 C chopped Walnuts
Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add in wet ingredients.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake it all at 350 for about 50 minutes.  Let cool before removing from pan.
It’s pretty!  Look!
I shall be back with deeper thoughts tomorrow!
Any exciting weekend plans? I plan on a trip to the farmer’s market, some pumpkin carving, and lots of friend time!

Love Your Body Day And Therapy Thursday

Today’s Happy Note: Willow Smith and her song “Whip My Hair”.  She uses her braids to fling paint.  Enough said.

I got in my nine miles this morning!  And they were really, really sucky.  It was just one of those runs that I needed to push through, and I did.  I did three miles at tempo pace in the first half.  I was supposed to do three fast 800s in the second half but there was no way that was going to happen.  Part of the problem was that I was inappropriately dressed.  I have running clothes for 55 degrees and higher and 40 degrees and lower.  I can never seem to dress appropriately for that 15 degree gap in between.  Ugh.  I really should invest in some long sleeve tech tees.

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments yesterday!  Every single one of them felt like a little gift in my inbox.  I talked through a lot of it with L today, which was nice.  I’ll share those thoughts at the end of the post.

First, in honor of yesterday’s National Love Your Body Day, I present you with 16 reasons why I love my body.  [FYI: there are many more reasons why I don’t love my body; I’m not perfect.  But I think that enumerating things my body does for me is not a futile exercise.  It does remind me of the good.]

  1. It’s super bendy!  I am seriously the most flexible adult ever.  I can do the splits and get into pretty much any yoga position.  I like this.
  2. My eyes are deep and dark and mysterious and nice.  I like how they fit under my eyebrows.
  3. I have really strong arms and can lift all kinds of things.
  4. My heart and lungs pulled me through my pulmonary emboli hospitalization this summer.  For that, I am eternally grateful to my body.
  5. I have nice hips for dancing.
  6. The skin on my hands is soft; I have good hand-holding hands.  USB tells me this.
  7. My spine and torso are very graceful — dancerly, I like to think
  8. In fact, I think I’m kind of good at dancing. I would love to be in a dance recital some day.  Is that weird?
  9. My feet take a beating through running, but they forgive me.  Thank you, feet.  You work damn hard.
  10. I have great hair.
  11. My body has let me climb mountains in Mexico, hike through cloud forests in Costa Rica, and run up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower.
  12. I scar really easily and have some really unique, beautiful scars.  My favorite is on my right kneecap.  I like how scars tell important stories.
  13. My hands!  Oh, how much hands do for us.  I mean, come on, opposable thumbs?  How awesome can our bodies be?!?!
  14. My senses.  I have wonderful eyesight and hearing.  My senses let me interact with the world and respond in my own way, through sensory writing.  My senses help me create poems and prose and essays.
  15. Ribs.  I like how they form a cage around my middle, protecting me.  My body has ways of protecting and defending itself.  That’s beautiful.
  16. We cannot forget my legs, obviously.  They have carried me through three half-marathons, two ultramarathons, countless long runs, and hopefully, a marathon (soon)!  They are strong and forceful.  Sometimes they just keep going even when I don’t tell them to — when my mind is too exhausted to function, my legs have a way of working, regardless.
I have much to be grateful for!  What are you grateful for, at this very moment, in terms fo your body and its amazing capabilities?
Therapy Thursday
I think I’ll keep my therapy thoughts brief today (haha, am I even capable of that?).  I don’t want to get into certain things.  We spent a while talking about my anxiety surrounding the timeliness of our session and then we talked about how I characterize myself as “lazy” and then about how I operate, socially (how I make friends, how there have been some very lonely periods in my life).  I told her about my first day at my second high school.  I was a junior.  It was August, 2005.  I cried, recounting it to her.  It broke my heart, looking back.  But I was also crying happy tears about it — I was stubborn (I had this really geeky yellow lunchbox that I refused to give up; I spent the whole lunch hour walking around the school by myself on that first day, desperately wanting a friend) and held tight to my beliefs and identity.  If that meant being alone, so be it.  I think that in some ways I am better at being alone now — I manage it; it isn’t always a lonely alone.  I will always be a person who needs her alone.  I need to be by myself, often for long stretches of time.  I can’t fathom spending time with friends every single day.  One of the things I like best about USB is that he doesn’t fear being alone — he relishes it.  He uses that time to unwind and rewire; it also means that we are comfortable not spending every single second together.  I think that’s healthy.
I used most of the second half of the session to talk about my weight/body/health problems.  For a pretty straightforward summary, see yesterday’s post. I liked that L was both tremendously compassionate and objective about it all.  I actually just got an appointment with an endocrinologist today.  We agreed that I will try that — and I will make a serious effort to try any diet variations or medications she recommends or have tests done — and move forward from there.   As I was outlining my health problems to L, she said something like “having a chronic illness is hard; it’s not fun.”  I looked up at her, started crying harder, and told her “I might be able to handle one, but having two is destroying me” — the clotting issue and the endocrine issue.  Her face softened and she just said, “I wish so much that I could make it go away.”   It was comforting.  She was comforting.
And that is the honest truth — I don’t know how much longer I can handle having both of these things.  It’s exhausting.  I don’t know what takes precedence over the other.  I am tired of scheduling follow up appointments and having my weekly blood draws and having heart echoes and breathing tests and living in terror that I’m clotting again.  Seven doctors is more than any healthy 20 year old should have to face.  It was actually kind of nice to just have that moment of complete breakdown and vulnerability with L this afternoon: I basically told her “I can’t do it.”  And she acknowledged that.  That was all I really needed out of today, I think.
I have to keep living one day at a time.  The next few months will be full of visits to specialists and blood tests and endless round of medication trial and error.  But in some sense, I’m already used to that.  I feel like I will feel less burdened when I at least know that we are doing things to try and figure it all out.  I like journeys. This feels like a journey to me.  I’m trying to stay positive.
Goodnight friends!  Happy Friday to you all!

Therapy Thursday: On Love

Today’s Happy Note: Wearing one of my favorite skirts.  My mom gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago.  It’s long and fuschia and looks sort of like crepe paper.  Makes me feel like I should twirl.  Sometimes I do.

Marathon Training: My legs hurt yesterday after Tuesday’s 20-miler.  I am pretty nervous about this Sunday’s 22-miler (which will be done with a special friend!  I’m going to keep you in suspense as to who, mwahahaha — she is a blogger though).  I think the key to the run will be overcoming my psychic pain and anxiety; the physical pain is so much less intense sometimes.  Last night I did 15 minutes of abs followed by a lovely vinyasa class at Yoga Vida (my favorite studio in the city, that I’ve been to so far).  This afternoon I busted out 8 miles of speedwork: 1 WU, 3×1 mile @ Tempo pace with easy 400 between, 3×800 Fast with easy 400 between, 1 mile CD.  I’m not sure if that adds up to 8 but whatever, that’s how much I did in total.  I estimated on the easy portions.  I was super anxious about even starting this workout but it turned out fine!  Silly Caronae.

Therapy Thursday

FYI: It might be helpful to read last week’s thoughts first, since a lot of thoughts from today are sort of continuations from last week.

USB was in my room last Sunday and we were talking, cuddling, etc.  My computer was open and I wanted to show him what the blog looked like (he is very curious about the blog; I have told him all about it but he doesn’t actually read it, at this point — I am not trying to keep it from him at all, I just am not sure if I am ready to completely share it.  I think maybe I am).  Anyways I was showing him the title and the layout and a post where I talked about him a bit was up.  He asked if he could read it and I said, “no, read my therapy post instead”.  He knows about my mental issues/general craziness and a bit about my therapy, so I didn’t think it would be a big deal.  I thought that I spent most of the post talking about my relationship with L and how she cried and it moved me and I feel fat and lalala — the usual therapy stuff.  I completely and totally forgot that I said I told L I think I might love him.  So I said “sure, go ahead, read that post” and left him to it while I went to cook some squash.

I came back about ten minutes later and immediately realized what I had done.  I had just told USB, the first man I have ever loved (it’s only been two months, but I am quite certain of what I’m feeling — I feel things very intensely, in general) that I loved him through a blog post about therapy.

I was mortified.  Not just mortified but I also felt bad.  That was never, in my mind, how I planned on saying I Love You.

He laughed and held me and was very sweet about it all.  It’s a funny story, I guess.  Bizarre.  Maybe I should be tighter-lipped on the blog.  I don’t want to be, though.

I just realized that has nothing to do with my thoughts about therapy this week but whatever.  I wanted to share.

This week was all about relationships, of the romantic love variety.  I especially talked about my parents and what seeing their relationship has been like for me. It has changed a lot over the years and has in some ways been a big source of confusion for me.  They are divorced, but still seem to love each other.  This actually isn’t where we started — we began by talking about her crying last week and what that was like for both of us.  I expressed to L that it was tremendously moving, for me.  It made me see her as more human.  It also made me reflect back on myself — how can I be kinder to me?  Anyways, she said that she had been embarrassed, but also seemed to express that it was a genuine moment of emotion for her.  It was serious — I feel like there are meaningful tears and not meaningful tears.  Her tears were meaningful.

I asked her about how it made her feel and what she was thinking about the subject that made her cry in the first place (which I won’t get into).  She was very honest with me, and very tender.  She told me that she cried even more after I left.  I felt bad.  I know that I don’t have to take care of her — indeed, that is one reason why, in therapy, the therapist is not supposed to reveal much about him or herself or show many of his or her emotions, so that the patient can be completely vulnerable and cared for and loved.  But I sort of want to.  I think I see a lot of similarities between us.  There are obvious differences as well, though.

Love relationships are all different.  It’s funny because I always imagined it would be a certain way, but it isn’t that way.  It’s its own way.  And if and when I love another man, that will happen in its own way as well.  And the way my grandparents love each other is different, and the way my best friend from MI loves her boyfriend is different.  I like that love is an adaptable thing.  It doesn’t always have to be the same; that’s part of the reason it’s so fun.  With USB I feel like everyday is something new but I also feel like there is a consistency to it.

I thought some more about my parents and their love.  I kept coming back to that today.

I arrive at 12:10 to therapy.  I usually come upstairs and settle in around 12:15 and then L checks her messages and we start around 12:20.  Then we finish around 1:10-1:15 when the next person is ready to come up.  Pretty straightforward pattern.

At the end of the hour today, that pattern was completely disrupted when the next person rang the bell at 1:00.  I practically had a panic attack.  I could not handle it.  I want to say that I have no idea why it upset me so much, but I do know.  I like consistency in general, but with L, that consistency is pretty much sacred. It’s not that I was feeling jealous that my hour would end early or peeved that I would still be paying the full ten dollars.  I didn’t care about those things.  What I couldn’t handle was the fact that something about therapy was going to change. The content may seem infinitely more important than the structure for therapy, but that isn’t always true.  I was literally shaking.

L, bless her, knows me quite well at this point.  I also feel comfortable being open with her.  I told her that it was upsetting me greatly, and I think she could tell. She told the other person to wait or come back in ten minutes.

That sounded really selfish and mean.  I probably would have been annoyed if I were that other person.  But at the same time, it was tremendously graceful and thoughtful of her and it meant a lot to me.  It meant that I could breathe again, for one thing.  It meant that I could talk for ten more minutes.  But more importantly, it meant that she values me and cares about me.  I already know this, of course, but have not necessarily felt it through her actions before.

I definitely have a love for L.  I have not talked to her about this yet, but will say that I am very nervous about the prospect of law school, not because the idea of law school scares me, but because the idea of leaving L, in 8 months or so, scares me.  My dream is to get into a law school in NYC so I can still have her.  I don’t know if I am being overly dependent.  I don’t think so.  L isn’t the only reason I want to stay in NYC by any means — I love the city, I love my friends here, I love the life I have set up here.  And she is an important part of that life, at this moment in time.  I think she is genuinely helpful to me on an ongoing basis.  She has a kindness and a consistency and a compassion that I need in my life.  She helped lead me out of a very scary place.

The future is a scary thing.

It’s All Mental (And Physical!)

Today’s Happy Note: Sunbutter.  I know that sunflower seed butter is made from a kind of a modified sunflower seed and has some added sugar and oils.  But I. Don’t. Care.  It is my new favorite nut butter and I am in love.  Nut butter heaven.  If that is a real place, I am so going there.

Marathon Training: Yesterday was a day off running.  I did about 15 minutes of yoga then lifted my beloved weights for 45 minutes. I really do love weight-lifting.  It’s oddly relaxing.  Anyone with me on this?

Today was a speed workout day.  It may officially have been the longest speed workout of my life:

2 mile warm-up

4 x (2 mile @ Tempo pace, 1/2 mile easy)

2 mile cool-down

It ended up being a whopping 14 miles! That’s longer than my long run on Sunday.  It was a really good workout — I felt strong and fast, but not too fast; I think I paced myself pretty well.  I definitely needed a succesful workout, mentally.  I was super anxious to get started and have been feeling a bit down about running lately.  This brought my spirits back up! I estimated the distance for the fast portions using the street numberings on lamp posts in CP (a well-kept but amazing secret — the first two numbers on any lamp post correspond to the street cumber you are at, and there are 20 blocks to a mile).

An awesome mid-week workout, although 14 miles is kind of a time-suck.

All-Around Health

I want to talk a little bit about the intersections between mental and physical health today.  I think that it’s easy to become too focused on the physical aspect of health: mainstream media frequently portrays a narrow, singular conception of health which is framed largely around the exclusion of non-physical elements.  For example, you see advertisements at drug stores with people working out at a gym and eating salads and taking supplements.  Or there are segments on news shows telling us “how to get healthy” by doing this new exercise or eating this new superfood. One of the reasons I think that Caitlin’s book, Operation Beautiful, is wonderful (and has been so successful) is because it addresses a legitimate need for emotional health information and empowerment, both amongst individuals who already consider themselves to be relatively healthy(e.g., bloggers) and amongst those who don’t know where to start, physically or emotionally. I try to deal with things holistically, although I am not always successful.  But the fun part is the journey, not perfection.

In the last two years, I have had a physical health crisis and a mental health crisis.  My experiences with each were very different, but both were powerfully formative for my conception of myself — I learned so much about my unique strengths and talents from each.  I began to understand my way of seeing the world; where I fit into things.  I think these crises helped me to figure out love — how to love myself and others.  I am not saying that you need to have a crisis in order to take care of yourself though!  There are simple things that we can all do, everyday, to make our lives the best they can be.  After all, I think that’s what health is about: living our happiest, most vibrant lives.

If my years in college have taught me anything, thus far, it is that I need to take the time to be healthy.  Taking time for myself has saved my life.

Before talking about the spaces between emotional and bodily health, I want to share some research/articles on the matter.  Some of these are more scientific than others, but I think that they all involve a good overview on the relationship or specific facets of the relationship.

How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?

Psychoendoneuroimmunology — relationship between stress and mental coping skills and somatic illness

Meditation Can Boost The Immune System

Exercise As an Antidepressant

Finding Thinner Peace II — eating right for our mind and body

Exercise, Mental Health, and Mental Ability

The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health — great roundup of articles

Improving Emotional Health — a more general but still useful overview of emotional wellbeing and its intersections with physical indicators

Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health — this has almost nothing to do with bodily health, but is a comprehensive overview of mental health (including disorders)

Most of these articles focus on the relationship between mental health and exercise.  I think this is certainly important, but it would be shallow to consider it the only significant aspect of the way our emotional and bodily health intersect.

For me, physical health means a constellation of things: regular exercise/movement (running, yoga, and weights), a good diet full of lots of plants, protein, and healthy fats, regular communication with my doctors, management of my clotting problem and my hormonal/endocrine disorders, and generally taking care of my body — proper rest, attention to appearance, stretching, etc.

Mental health also means a variety of things, for me: managing my depression/anxiety/mood, actively seeking happiness and contentment, healthy social relationships and connections, a sense of calm/inner peace/spirituality, and a general awareness of my place in the world.

By no means do I think that people conceive of physical and mental health in the same ways.  Even a more generic inquiry into “health” would yield vastly different responses from similar individuals.  My point here is to notice and acknowledge what being physically and emotionally healthy means, for me, and to think about how these definitions relate and overlap and inform one another.

There is a certain calmness that washes over me on occasion.  It happens when I feel best about my body and content with my life.  It represents my ultimate healthy state. In it I feel alert, safe, and well.  I notice what my body is thinking and wanting and what my mind is thinking and wanting.  Sometimes these things are different, and that’s okay.  I accept myself for where I am at in that moment.  I am exquisitely attentive yet also tuned out from the rest of the world.  My body has moved sufficiently and been well-fed, and my intellect has been active and my emotions have been even-keeled.  This is, I suppose, my ideal intersection point.

Of course, this is not my everyday reality.  No one who knows me well would ever think to describe me as a calm or collected person.  I can be hysterical or just plain crazy.  On a regular basis.

My thought patterns have a huge effect on how I feel, physically.  When I notice that I am harshly judging myself and hating my body, I tense up — I can feel the pit of my stomach clenching and my shoulders hovering up by my ears.  Or, for another example, when I hear from my doctor that my INR is too low (for the third time in two weeks, as was the case today), I start panicking.  My thoughts race, I can’t do school work, I am suddenly unhappy.

I wish I had a graph or something scientific whereby I could chart the precise overlap of my mental and physical health over a given period of time.  For now, vague descriptions like this will have to do.  All I know, in conclusion, is that there is a connection between my body and mind beyond my spinal cord: yes, my spine runs into my brain stem which opens up into the cerebrum.  But something more is happening here.  I have a sudden change in mood after a quick, sweaty run.  I feel different sensations in my chest and lungs and stomach when I have more fulfilling interactions with those around me.

I think the conclusion is that I don’t know precisely what is going on.  Rather, I am attuned to the patterns and the existence of the connection.  And I think that the details of this connection are probably different for different people.

And that’s okay.

How do mental and physical health intersect for you?  Or you more appreciative of one over the other?  How do you balance the varied roles that they play in your life?  What would you change, if you could?

Awesome Speed Workout/Awesome Food

Today’s Happy Note: finding pomegranate tea again!  Haven’t had any in so very long, and it is one of my favorite herbal teas.  It was accompanied by lovely conversation, more importantly!

I have to be a speed blogger tonight (haha, NOT my forte — I like talking, in case you haven’t noticed) because USB is coming to visit.  It is going to be such a nice night for a walk!

Marathon Training: I really wanted to do my speed workout and weights today, for some reason.  I knew there was no way both were going to happen before work, since I didn’t go to bad until after 2 (bad Caronae!).  I start work at 11 on Fridays.  This is sad, I know.

I tend to become more of a morning person as the semester wears on, oddly enough.  Anyways, I dragged myself out of bed at 10 and headed to the gym for a half hour of arm weights. Sometimes a half an hour is all you need to get your muscles nice and sore!

I followed that up with a delicious, steamy, spicy chai tea latte (made with soy — I was not feeling the dairy today) and an apple with honey PB:

A delicious bite of cinnamon roll from the guys at the mail room was also had 🙂

I am fully aware that the icing on my hands in this picture does NOT look like icing.  It is, I swear.

I had a late afternoon lunch-snack of a chocolate chip muffin, in honor of Cookie Friday.  Sometimes I think muffins are better than cookies.  I think they *might* be my favorite baked good!  Shhh, don’t tell the cookies that I told you that.

I came home after work and lazed around.  I just did not want to start my run at all.  I was feeling very grey, I suppose.  I finally had a Luna Bar and got my butt out the door around 6:00, only because I knew that if I waited any longer it would be dark by the time I finished and I didn’t want to get mugged in the northern end of CP (which is a wee bit isolated/quiet at night).

The run ended up being wonderful! I felt really fast and strong and smooth.  Some runs you just get into a rhythm and other runs…well, you don’t.  I definitely found my groove today, which was nice after Wednesday’s sucky run.

2 Miles warm-up (10:00-10:30 min/mile pace)

4 x (1 mile “Cruise” Pace, 1/4 mile easy)

2 Miles cool down, easy

I don’t know what the difference is, necessarily, between “fast” and “cruise” and “tempo” and “speed.”  And to be honest, I don’t particularly care.  I have a few paces: 8:30, 9:00, 10:00, and slower than 10:00.  I go based on how I feel.  I think that the important thing for me is just practicing speeding up, learning how to move my legs faster.  I definitely accomplished that today — I would say I was maybe running 8:45s?  Hard to tell, but I worked hard and felt fast on the miles, so I was happy! 🙂 Nine miles in total.

Dinner later on was the giant burrito that I wanted yesterday but didn’t let myself have!

What, you don’t have your giant burrito with a side of steamed broccoli and roasted carrots/okra doused in TJS spicy peanut vinaigrette?

Inside the burrito: green peppers/onions, pinto beans, barbacoa meat (beef), corn salsa, a little cheese, lots of lettuce.  It needed some spicier salsa, but other than that it was divine!  If you ask really nicely at Chipotle, they’ll let you have the peppers/onions (which are normally for the vegetarian burritos) instead of rice.  Rice+burrito+beans would be way too many carbohydrates for me to handle at once.

I love having the options of multiple fats at Chipotle: cheese, sour cream, or guacamole.  Do not fear the fats ladies!

I had a few squares of plain TJs dark chocolate after dinner (which I learned form Averie’s post today might be Scharffen Berger????), followed by about five gallons of water — I can always tell when I haven’t had enough to drink throughout the day based on how thirsty I am in the evenings!

Now onto a little activity inspired by the lovely Janetha G.! A few days ago she did a list of her favorite food for each letter of the alphabet.  I got really bored in Harlem Renaissance Literature the other day and started my own. 🙂

This is a really fun and oddly soothing thing to do.  I might just have to go back and expand the list one day so that I can include all my favorite foods.  For example, I feel like “avocados” and “almond butter” got left out on A.  I don’t want to exclude anybody!

A: apples

B: bananas

C: cupcakes

D: dark chocolate

E: eggs

F: fish

G: gaz (a Persian candy made with rosewater and pistachio and AMAZINGNESS)

H: hummus

I: Indian

J: jumbo shrimp

K: kiwi

L: linguine

M: muffins

N: nuts

O: oats

P: peanut butter (duh)

Q: quinoa (blended, preferably)

R: raspberries

S: spinach

T: tofu

U: upside down cake (it’s a tradition in my dad’d family — a tasty, tasty tradition)

V: vanilla

W: whey protein

X: xantham gum

Y: yogurt (especially2% plain Greek)

Z: zucchini bread

Thanks for the idea Janetha!

What is your favorite baked good?

How do you know when a run (or workout) is good?

Medical Stuff, Part I

Today’s Happy Note: My run started out terribly and then miraculously turned wonderful!  Love when that happens.

I had 11 miles of speedwork on the schedule, which I was not looking forward to.  It consisted of:

2 miles warmup @ GP (goal pace=10:00/mile)

3×2 miles @ tempo pace (9:00 miles) with four minute easy jog between each

3 miles cooldown @ GP

My body felt so swollen (more about that later in the post) during the first two miles that I thought I was going to have to call it quits.  I was tight everywhere and could literally feel water weight all over my body.  It’s a strange feeling.  I am not sure if it has to do with my period/hormones, but I think it does.  I haven’t had a period in almost two months and I can tell that my body feels weird not having cleansed itself — something is up.

But the tempo repeats ended up feeling great.  I sometimes wish I had a garmin, only for speed workouts really, though.  I am guessing they were between 8:30-9:00 per mile pace.

Yesterday we just had an orientation for the yoga class, so I did not get to do any yoga, sadly.  I did lift weights for 40 minutes though, and my arms felt dead afterwards (in a good way!)

Medical Talk

A bit of background: I was diagnosed with PCOS 3.5 years ago.  Most women with PCOS are overweight and do not have periods.  This was not the case for me, so for a long time, no one could figure out what was wrong.  When I was diagnosed, by a very clever gynecologist who works with my mother, I was put on birth control.  Over the years I have been on yaz, yasmin, and, most recently, ocella.  My PCOS seemed to be under control with the BC.  I reached a roughly stable weight and maintained within a five pound range up until this summer.

In July, I was hospitalized with multiple massive pulmonary emboli in the main arteries of each of my lungs.  I was hospitalized for three days.  Here I am in my hospital room:

Part I of the hospital stay can be found here.

Part II here.

Hormonal birth control (or any other hormonal treatment) can serve as a risk factor for clotting (pulmonary embolism means clotting that occurs in the lungs, which is very dangerous because it can cause you to stop breathing).  Once you have a blood clot of any sort, you can never take birth control or other hormones again, unless you’re on some sort of suicidal mission.  This has obvious implications for sex, but that’s not what I want to talk about.  The problem for me is that the birth control was controlling my PCOS.  Now that I have been off of it for two months, my body’s hormonal and endocrine systems (which are related) are going haywire.  Literally haywire.

I had a really long appointment with the women’s doctor yesterday.  She was extremely nice and helpful and seems like the first doctor who has ever really taken the time to figure out what might be at the root of my hormonal/endocrine problems.

For one thing, I am gaining weight uncontrollably.  I am eating only a little bit more than I was pre-hospitalization, only now I am training for a marathon.  I am running 40-50 miles a week, in addition to strength training twice a week and yoga twice a week.  I am an active, healthy young woman.  There is no logical reason for me to be gaining weight and not having a period, among other things.

Our bodies have many, many hormones, not just estrogen and progesterone and testosterone.  Two of these other hormones are known as LSH and FH.  I don’t know precisely what my levels of these homrones are (or even should be), but I do know that their ratio is 1:1.  This is very bad.  A normal woman has a 1:3 ratio and someone with PCOS has an even higher ratio (e.g, 1:5 or 1:6).  A ratio of 1:1 is typically only seen in anorexic women or over-exercisers.  I suppose marathon training could count as overexercising, but I think she was referring to thin over-exercisers who have lost so much body fat that it screws up their hormones.

Sigh.

The only conclusion at this point is that I might not have PCOS, but may have an adrenal or endocrine disorder. I will have to see a specialist in hopes of figuring out what exactly might be going on.  I know my body quite well, and it has never been more clear to me that something is awry.  It was subtle at first, but has gotten worse over the last few weeks.  I am worried, but I feel comforted by this latest doctor, who was extraordinarily thorough and compassionate.  She saw me for over an hour.

I may need to try a medication called Metformin, which would help my insulin resistance.  As far as I can tell, the only other non-hormonal treatment for PCOS is a low-carb diet.  Have you ever tried eating low-carb while running 40 plus miles per week?  Not fun.

I am scared and confused.  I want this to be over with.  I have a million other things to deal with right now.  I wish my body just worked the way it was supposed to.

In addition to all of that, I just found out that my INR (measure of the effectiveness of the anti-clotting medication) is only 1.5.  This is bad.  Very bad.  This means that I will have to gt my blood drawn every three days until we figure out what the correct dosage of the Coumadin should be.

So basically my life is really fun right now!  Okay, so that was a little bit sarcastic.  I do have many things that bring me joy though, and I am going to list them for two reasons.  First, because this post has been a total downer and second, because I need to cheer myself up a little bit.  Happy Caronae=Healthy Caronae!

Things that bring me joy right now:

Fresh fall apples

Baking on the weekends

Studying (aka not studying) with friends on weeknights, chatting, playing

USB (he is amazingly soothing and gentle)

My crazy professor (today I spent 75 minutes learning about how minute differences in wheat/barley vs. millett/sorghum/rice/teff cultivation changed the course of history — it literally is both fascinating and hilarious)

Blended grain “soups” (just had some for dessert with nut butter and dark chocolate, of course)

Crossword puzzles in the newspaper

Yoga

Fall breezes/temperature drops (it’s my favorite season!)

Cuddling with USB

Bubble Tea

Massages

Books of all sorts

See, I’m not all negativity right now.  Just mostly. 🙂  This post was actually originally intended to go in a completely different direction.  Therefore, I am deeming it Part I of a two part series.  The other part will happen tomorrow, and hopefully it will make a bit more sense where I’m coming from at that point.

Goodnight friends!

Hungry Caronae/Back To School Adventures

Today’s Happy Note: I survived the first day of classes!  Definitely something to celebrate.

Okay, so I’m going to go ahead and be straightforward about something: I have senioritis, and I have it bad.  I want nothing to do with lectures or seminars or expensive textbooks or essays.  I do not want to write response papers or sit still for two hours at a time.  I’m just not good at it.  I’m tired of it.  But alas, I do want to graduate from college and have come to terms with the fact that I need to make it through this year.  Some of my classes seem like they could potentially be interesting.  Others seem downright snore-inducing, at best, and offensive to my sense of self at worst (case in point: I had a professor say to us today “This is my last year of teaching; I am retiring next year.  Therefore I can say and do whatever I want and there are no consequences — I can teach you total bullshit if I want!”).

That pretty much sums up the day.  Blah.

Marathon Training: I took advantage of yesterday’s rest day and did a lot of yoga and stretching.  I took a class at Yoga Vida and the instructor showed me a few poses that help stretch out the back of the hip.  They have been feeling great so far and I had no pain on today’s run!  Today was speed work day.  I did 2 miles GP (goal pace — 10:00 miles for me)/2 x 2 miles Tempo (about 9:00 miles for me)/3 miles GP.  Same as last week.  I felt a little bit stronger, especially on the second set of 2 miles.  I might have been just under a 9:00 pace — I don’t have a watch so I don’t know precisely what my time is.  To be honest I kind of like it that way.  There is no pressure and I feel physically freer.  I ended up with about 9.5 miles in about 95 minutes.

I was hangry today — like so hangry that I was ready to gnaw my arm off twenty minutes after every meal.  I think there are two things going on here:

1. I did not eat enough Sunday after my 16-miler (or Monday, for that matter) and

2. My metabolism has officially entered what I like to call “Marathon-training-overdrive-mode.”

Hmmmm.  At this point I am still in the noticing-and-not-judging phase.  I think I have been doing a great job with healthy fats (I have incorporated things like avocados, plain nuts, flax meal, more oils like EVOO, etc.).  I think that helps.  I think eating more frequently also helps.  It’s bothersome because gaining weight is the last thing I need right now.

I am feeling strong and fast though, so that’s a good thing.  Higher mileage makes a hungrier Caronae, I suppose.  One other thing I like to do is photograph everything I eat because it helps me keep track of how much I have had and not snack mindlessly.

Any other runners out there who know how to deal with that bottomless-pit feeling?

I realized yesterday that I have not shared an Adventure with you in weeks!  I have been having small adventures here and there, but nothing blog-worthy.  Until yesterday! USB happens to be an avid adventurer and explorer, which is wonderful.  I love people who like to do things.  He had a surprise adventure for me yesterday!

Can you guess?

It’s the US Open! Somehow USB’s friend had extra tickets to see Roger Federer’s fourth round match vs. Jurgen Melzer.  I’ll be the first to admit that I do not follow traditional sporting events, but this was quite fun (although perhaps USB’s presence had something to do with that… :)).  My dad is obsessed with Federer and always used to make me watch his matches on ESPN, so it was neat to see him play live.  He was clearly very talented (although Melzer put up an admirable fight).

I love getting out and seeing the world, in whatever way that may be — travelling, exploring a new neighborhood in the city, or seeing a sporting event, in this case.  I think that my adventuresome, open spirit is one of my favorite things about myself.  If I hadn’t gone out for a run to the Union Square Park Farmer’s Market a few weekends ago I never would have met USB!

What is one of your most favorite things about yourself?

Onto dinner…

This was my first time really cooking in the new dorm kitchen.  It is not an ideal kitchen, but it gets the job done, and this was pretty damn tasty.  I sauteed a giant pile (as in it was the size of a tennis racket) of rainbow chard in EVOO, salt, and pepper.  I then added in broccoli, yellow bell pepper, and yellow squash.  I rinsed and drained some thawed TJ’s precooked shrimp and threw those in, along with a “sauce” of TJ’s spicy peanut vinaigrette and shredded coconut.  I topped it all with avocado.  The asian-inspired flavors here were amazing!  I hardly ever measure anything, but the combinations were just right.  It turned out sort of stew like, because the chard was half-frozen and released a lot of water.  I didn’t mind though!  I might try this same stir-fry combo again in the future with the goal of making a soup.  It was the best homecooked meal I have had in quite some time, and the best part is that I made enough to have about four rounds of leftovers.

I won’t lie, I was a little bit proud of myself.

I am more than ready for bed!  Goodnight.

Tell me how all of your days were — I feel like even if you didn’t start school or a new job or anything, today was sort of the beginning of fall.  What’s new and exciting and autumnul in your life right now?

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