Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Challenge, Food, Home DIY, Life + Living, Menu Planning, New Food

CSA Day 3 – veggie overload!

I’m starting to wonder if maaaybe the CSA wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. I guess when I pictured farm fresh vegetables every week, I had hoped for vegetables that I usually actually eat and enjoy. Bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, even parsnips, cucumber, and celery would be cool! But what have I been getting? Turnips. Kohlrabi. Napa cabbage. I’m all for adventure, but when I get stuck on how to use an item, it gets abused and discarded. I really hate wasting the food ūüė¶


Tonight’s CSA box includes:
– Brats from Von Hansen
– Broccoli
– String Beans
– Peas
– (unidentified root vegetables)
– Lettuce
– Potatoes
– (Unidentified leafy green)
– Purple Kohlrabi


We still have from the LAST CSA:
– Strawberries
– Rhubarb
– Napa cabbage
– Lettuce
– Broccoli
– Kohlrabi
– Beets

Plus, from our standard groceries we have bell peppers, cucumber, carrots, and celery.


This is decidedly a first world problem. I’m not complaining by any means–I’m thankful for the abundance–but I’m also worried about how to best make use of it.

Last night me and Jeff blanched 3/4 of the broccoli, and 3/4 of the string beans, and froze them. We’re giving the beets, some broccoli, and some peas to my parents. I’m hoping my sister wants one of the kohkrabi…


The CSA is going to last at least another month, if not longer, so I’m going to use this as an opportunity to expand my veggie horizons and eat a lot more veggies… Even if I *do* have to Google them first ūüėõ

I think dinner tonight will be the brats and a cole slaw of kohlrabi, Napa cabbage, and carrots. I can bring it to my brother’s house to share tomorrow afternoon for lunch ^_^

Chef salad for dinner!

I’ll make another pie!

Broccoli cheddar soup!

Uh… Other stuff!!

Okay, WordPress readers… What would you do? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning, New Food, Recipe, Self-Reflection

Anti Inflammatory Diet??

A lot of why I haven’t been posting here is because there hasn’t been much fitness to speak of. ¬†On June 26th, 2012, I finally sought medical advice for my back. ¬†Here on July 9, 2013, I’m still in pain daily.

Originally, we thought it was a Rhomboid Strain and my Primary Care Physician referred me to a physical therapist. ¬†The physical therapist determined that it was not,¬†in fact, a rhomboid strain, but to do with the alignment of my hips. ¬†I followed the physical therapy for a couple of months, and my hips didn’t click anymore, but my back still hurt. ¬†I sought another option.

When I went to the Chiropractor, we found a series of issues with my back that are actually¬†there–the alignment was off, there’s the start of arthritis due to the misalignment, etc. We’ve been working hard since January to bring everything in line and I really

Dr. Pennebaker, doing an adjustment with the Gonstead Method [click to learn more]
believe it’s helping. ¬†My back still hurts every morning, though. ¬†We were getting a lot better, making a lot of good progress, and then we experienced a really bad setback.

When Jeff and I got back from the Canadian reception, I had a few really rough mornings. ¬†I thought it was just because the bed wasn’t supportive enough, or maybe the long ride in the car… But no, this felt like I was being squeezed–like my ribs were being pushed out of place. ¬†It hurt to breathe, hurt to move, hurt to laugh–should I care to, hurt to yawn, hurt to sneeze, cough, or hiccup. ¬†When I talked to my dad about it, he said “Oh, that’s just a pulled muscle–you’ll feel better in about a week.”

It’s been¬†over a week and I’m still waking up in pain. ¬†My Chiropractor gave me a sort of “ah-ha” moment when he observed that it was swelling and inflammation causing the pain. The word “inflammation,” hung in my head repeating itself like a fading memory. ¬†Until all of a sudden, the light at the end of a tunnel turned out to be a train. ¬†What if my DIET is causing me all of this stress and drama with my back!?

It makes sense! ¬†I eat a Western diet high in processed carbs and lots of sugars. Last Friday, by happenstance, I didn’t eat much in the way of sugar or refined carbs. ¬†On Saturday, as if by a miracle, I had no back pain. ¬†Yesterday, I had cereal for dinner, chex mix for a snack, a wrap for lunch, and a breakfast sandwich for breakfast. ¬†My back is killing me today.

So now, the problem that I’m faced with is “how do I convert my eating habits to the anti-inflammatory diet?”

I don’t know ūüė¶

The sites I’ve looked at say

Foods to Steer Clear of‚ÄĒHere‚Äôs what you‚Äôll want to wean yourself off of in order to reduce the inflammation in your body: wheat, dairy, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, sugar, citrus fruits (except for lemons and limes), pork, commercial non-organic eggs, shellfish, peanuts and peanut butter, coffee, alcohol, juice, caffeinated teas, soda, anything containing hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and fried foods. –¬†

I keep seeing conflicting information, though. ¬†One site says pineapple is to be avoided as it’s a tropical fruit. ¬†Another says pineapple will decrease inflammation. ¬†One says nightshades and tomatoes are bad. ¬†Another doesn’t mention them at all.

I’m so terribly lost. ¬†I’ve cast out the line to the Weight Loss Warriors to ask if they have any experience with this sort of conversion. ¬†I read that high quality yogurts and cheeses can be eaten in moderation, so maybe I can use that to my advantage when subbing foods?

Here’s our dinner menu for the week… If anyone has any ideas on how to convert it to an anti-inflammation version, I’d appreciate the help:

2013-07-09 06_04_49-TeuxDeux

Posted in Counseling, Emotional Eating, Gaming

The first visit

TL:DR – went to counseling. It sucked. I’m going to find a better match.

So, I’m sitting here at the moment.. eating cereal with a fork because there are no more spoons.. trying to figure out what I have to do for the day. ¬†Dishes, obviously. ¬†I hate that when I get into a funk, there is a cascade of things that stop getting done–cleaning being one of the first. ¬†Next is cooking, working out, eating right, and then showering. ¬†This is probably a¬†good thing, though, because when your hair is gross and you have nothing/no way to eat–you’re motivated to do something about it.

I don’t know why but cleaning up and seeing my accomplishments always makes me feel a lot better. ¬†One of the first things on my to-do list today includes blogging about the first steps. ¬†I’ve had a lot of positive feedback, and a lot of silence about my most previous post. ¬†My WordPress entries get shared to my facebook page (and all of the friends who choose to click the link) so a majority of my entries are superficial and at the very least entertaining (I hope?) So, for me to now be posting something so heavy is a little nerve wracking. ¬†Hopefully the friends who choose to read it will talk to me.


One of the things that’s difficult about starting counseling is figuring out where to begin and what you want to talk about. ¬†On Monday, after work, I was asked to do just two more things and I was in tears over it. ¬†They were simple things. Easy things. ¬†But it was after a day of non-stop pressure to get everything done–missed breaks, looming deadlines, everyone needing everything right when they ask for it and drop anything else you’ve been asked to do because my need trumps their need. ¬†Is it understandable why I broke down into tears? ¬†Partially. ¬†But that also happens when I listen to sappy songs or see insurance commercials. ¬†Stress is stressful and like a judgy parrot in my ear my mom has always told me “you don’t handle stress well.” ¬†That kind of stressed me out.

Tuesday, I woke up and I was still just run down. ¬†A Kelly Clarkson song (Dark Side) came on the radio and I was a blubbering pile of mush. ¬†I went to work because I was supposed to meet with my manager about a deadline that I missed. ¬†I closed the door and tried to tell her in a level voice (which was probably hard to understand as I kept feeling overwhelmed) that I need to take the day off and I’m finally going to ask for help.

She was very supportive. She gave me the day off, canceled all of my meetings, told me to take as much time as I needed, but to make sure I clued Jeff into the situation and make sure that I’m not alone.

“I’m not in danger,” I replied, “you don’t have to worry about me.”

Apparently this sounds rehearsed and was not believed (really) by anyone who heard it. ¬†So, to make sure they weren’t fussing over me, and because I was going to tell him anyway, I called Jeff on my way back out to my car and told him I was not working that day and that I was finally going to ask for help.

When I got home, I had to have basically the same conversation with him that I had already had that morning with both my mom and my boss, and he was the third to react in much the same way “If you need the help, get the help. ¬†I’ll be here for you.” This was followed by my favorite kind of Jeff-hugs–the uber gentle yet strong ones that say he’ll hold me up if I can’t hold myself up.

I idled for a while, waiting for him to go to work and not quite realizing that he wasn’t going to leave.

My employer offers an Employee Assistance Program through ComPsych and so I just sucked it up and made the call while he was there.  They did an availability search and signed me up to see the first person available.  The next day.

“Hi, yeah, it’s Jeff. I’m not coming into the office today. ¬†My fiancee is having a bit of an emotional break down and I’d like to stay with her.”

Jeff and I just chilled out, napped, watched House and Dr. Who and Supernatural the rest of the day.

I worked from home for half the day following, and spent some time looking into this person they had referred me to..

Her website used a lot of fluff words. ¬†“I take a strength-based approach in counseling. We not only bring our problems to counseling, we also bring our problem solving and coping skills”¬†I found myself judging this person, even though I had never met her and scoffed heartily at this statement. ¬†Coping skills?? COPING SKILLS?! I HAVE no COPING SKILLS! That’s why I’m going to come see you!


Still, though, the hardest part is always taking the first step. ¬†Even if she wasn’t the best fit for me, she was someone who was highly educated and presumably cared about helping people.

I found my way to a waiting room…nicely appointed, I suppose, if completely outdated. ¬†I sit anxiously and browse Pinterest on my phone until someone says my name.

I look up, say ‘Hello,’ and they disappear around a corner. ¬†I know their name and they know mine based on the 3rd party appointment, so I suppose no introductions are necessary. ¬†Assuming I am to follow this person, I find myself in an office with the same sort of outdated decor. ¬†She hands me paperwork, but all that I notice are the stains on her shirt and the ramen in the trash. ¬†There’s a dreamcatcher by the door.

They say that first impressions are the ones that get the most weight. ¬†No matter how hard you try to make up for it, a bad first impression isn’t going to get better. ¬†Still, though, I was there for help. ¬†She had handed me the paperwork to fill out and sent me out to the waiting room to get it done. ¬†After jotting down the above, I started looking through the pages and there was more fluff-talk and then some serious questions, which I answered to the best of my abilities. ¬†Jeff was written down as my fiance and emergency contact, stress was identified as the reason for my visit, etc.

I didn’t go on to elaborate that 1-2 hrs was during the work-week and that on weekends, I can play for 8+ hrs at a time. ¬†Nope. I wasn’t here for addiction counseling because it is a hobby, not an addiction. ¬†But, it was another point against her being a good fit for me.

When I returned to the room, she ruffled through the pages and thanked me for filling them out.  Then she set them aside and asked what brought me to counseling.  Stress.  I briefly defined the stressors in my life (I listed off various items but summarized that I have felt overwhelmed in the past and just wanted the tools to deal with stress better).

I made the mistake of mentioning that starting BCP helped me to even out so that I wasn’t so extreme during that time of the month. ¬†Even though I emphasized that I was looking to develop some personal skills to handle stress and to dissipate it on my own, she latched on to meds like a bulldog with a bone. OOH! MEDS! MEDS ARE THE ANSWER! I’m off the hook! her face practically shouted. She mentioned that she thinks medication may help me and that she can’t prescribe it herself but that she can give me a referral for these really reliable folks she works with that are just right down the road. … I had been there less than 10 minutes and expressed quite clearly “I don’t think that’s the right option for me right now. I am looking for tools, not medication.” So then she went on about how previous patients have had success, and made it out so that everyone who gets on the pills are happy and fulfilled in their life. I asked if there’s any way to test to KNOW that I need medication and she said no, talked about the side-effects that could be experienced and said “You would have to take it for a few weeks before it reaches therapeutic levels and if you don’t see an improvement, they can always try the next type of medication for you.” ¬†I deadpanned and repeated that I don’t think it’s the right option for me right now. ¬†“Well, I’m not going to twist your arm and make you take medication, but I’m still going to give you this recommendation and you take it with you. ¬†Your primary care physician can make the referral, too, if you change your mind.” And her face made that “I’m awesome and just fixed your problems but you don’t know it yet” expression.

Medication isn’t going to take the stress out of¬†work and its myriad of demands, college and its never-ending work-load, self-confidence issues partially impacted by a past relationship issue, sick cats, obligations to see family and friends even though I’m so busy all the time, lack of ability to lose weight even though I’ve been trying, financial woes,¬†wedding planning, etc. ¬†I was trying to illustrate to her that I have a helluva lot going on at this time, but that I didn’t have very good ways to cope with it and I didn’t feel like I could stop doing what’s important to me — seeing friends/family, going to school, going to work, taking care of kitties, or wedding planning.

You know what she latched on to? My relationship. ¬†Even though half of the relationship was missing from the room. ¬†She wasn’t listening to me, and now had actively taken a stance against my significant other. ¬†And that FACE!! That “I’m right, but you just don’t know it yet” face..

I called an end to the session and declined to reschedule when she asked when next I’d be in.

Never, if I can help it.

The important thing here, though, is that it was not a waste of time. ¬†Making the phone call, getting a referral, asking for help, and then actually keeping the appointment when I felt a bit silly about it in retrospect–THOSE were the hardest things. ¬†Seeing this ill-fitted match is the worst that could have happened, but that just illustrates to me that it gets better.

The next step is to clarify what I want, what I need, what my goals are, and how someone else can help me to realize them. ¬†I’m going to have to call for another referral, but this time I’ll be clear in what I want vs. what I don’t, and I’ll screen their websites before I make an appointment. ¬†I may be giving up on that woman as a match, but this isn’t over, not by a long shot. ¬†I may be “feeling better” today than on Monday, but I’ve already stepped over the line–I’ve already declared that I need better tools to manage my stress and taken the step towards getting them. ¬†I’m not going to give up now just because my first attempt didn’t work.

Posted in Life + Living

Volunteers Wanted!


Assembling healthy snack packs for a kids at a local shelter

I starting working on this blog back on August 2nd at 7:00am.  It is now 10:01pm on Wednesday August 8th.  Where does the time go?!  It goes crazy, I tell you.  It goes crazy.

I am lucky enough to have a steady job in a company that I like with the flexibility to have nights and weekends off. ¬†They encourage personal development, community involvement and philanthropy–and not just on the surface! ¬†All year long I have automatic deductions from my pay check that go directly to support the local United Way. ¬†Sporadically throughout the year I get to participate in varying volunteer opportunities, but every summer we have Global Community Days. ¬†We stuff healthy snack packs to deliver to kids in the community, cooking kits for the elderly in assisted living, clean up the neighborhood, etc.

This year, I was privileged enough to be able to volunteer at Crisis Nursery in Minneapolis:

“The mission of the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery is to end child abuse and neglect and create strong, healthy families.”

Two shifts of volunteers completed 9 hours of work to transform the front garden from an almost blank patch of dirt to a riot of colorful plants and paths.  The work was hard, but the result was so rewarding.

One of my favorite memories from this experience is from the group tour of the facility at the beginning of the volunteer event. ¬†The coordinator was leading us through the halls and I became separated from the group. ¬†As I was following to catch up, I came upon a group of children who were obediently lining up against the wall in preparation to go outside to play. ¬†They were between 3 and 5 years old, probably. ¬†One girl came away from the wall and hugged my legs, giggled and looked up at me. ¬†I patted her back (probably awkwardly) and then the whole gaggle of girls came and hugged me and it was a fit of affection and laughter. ¬†I was patting backs and looking at the teacher like “what do I do now?” LOL ¬†I kindly asked the girls “Aren’t you supposed to be lining up against the wall?” and like magic they dispersed and went against the wall again but kept their giggles. ¬†For just a moment it was easy to forget that they were there because their family was in turmoil.

Another event that I participated in recently was Operation Stand Down¬†at Fort Snelling. ¬†My mom and I heard about it on Facebook 15 hours before the event and shifted our schedules all around to¬†accommodation¬†it. For a few hours in the evening, we shucked corn, served potatoes, smiled, conversed, and interacted with homeless veterans in the area. ¬†It was humbling, to say the least. ¬†One gentleman that I met is already stocking up for winter and came hoping to secure a tent, a cot, a blanket, and a can opener. ¬†He got a change of clothes and a blanket. ¬†Another that I talked to was going to school in the evenings while living in a homeless camp under an overpass. ¬†How can I complain about working and going to school? ¬†Wouldn’t one think that being homeless and going to school would be the bigger and more stressful challenge? ¬†And then there was the charmer. ¬†An 85 year old gentleman who wanted to be an architect but recognized that he wouldn’t be able to finish school in time to accomplish anything with his degree–but still appreciated the beauty in the structures around him.

I left that night hot and sweaty from the blazing summer sun, but I returned to a home with a shower and a fan if not air conditioning.  And I counted all of my blessings.

Volunteering, for me, is becoming a bigger part of my activities. ¬†It just feels so good to lend a helping hand to those who need it most. ¬†If you would like to get involved in volunteer activities in your town, just google “volunteering in [the name of your city]” or visit to find volunteer opportunities in your town where you can do as little or as much as you’d like–and then come back and share your stories ūüôā