My disease is a complicated one, and there are many theories as to what may have caused it. Simply put, my immune system is terribly confused. It declares war on the parts of me that are healthy. The reasons for this mess can be anything from my genes to something unhealthy in my environment. I am the lone sufferer in my family, so my genes probably aren’t to blame. But at this point, an environmental component can’t be proven or disproven.
With the way we eat, the stress in our lives and the environment we live in, all of us can use a little detoxing. The seemingly impossible part is finding an enjoyable way to do it. Who wants to resort to extremes and deprivation?
When I was diagnosed nearly fifteen years ago, I wanted answers. And in my quest for knowledge I became fascinated with the inner workings of the body. I read so much and learned so much, I almost felt like a doctor without the required and lengthy education.
I grasped every bit of information I could get my hands on. I wanted to be well, and I didn’t want to be ignorant. That is when I started learning a lot about the lymphatic system and what it means to our well being. Essentially, our lymph moves waste, damaged cells and other icky stuff out and away from our healthy cells. It also moves those healthy cells around to where they need to be. This system relies on the movement of our bodies to work properly. It lacks a pump (what our heart is to our circulatory system), and therefore needs our help to get things moving.
I have tried lymphatic drainage a few times, a body treatment that involves gentle massage and pressing of lymph nodes throughout the body to stimulate movement of lymph. I’m sure it was worthwhile, but honestly it wasn’t exactly gratifying. The experience wasn’t really soothing, and it didn’t leave me glowing and relaxed, with happy muscles. I walked out feeling just as I did before.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I like to feel something working, like a good exercise high or invigorating shower. So when I started reading about rebounding exercise (or trampoline exercise) and how it is great for lymph and overall health, I was eager to look into it.
My local sporting goods store had basic fitness trampolines on sale for $40. I jumped at the chance to get one. I felt that $40 was a minimal cost, and once I got the hang of it, in time I could graduate (if I wanted to) to a larger, more sophisticated rebounder with a stability bar. They can be pricey, $300 or more for a really good one. Besides, not only did I want to get the hang of it, I wanted to make sure I even liked jumping up and down before I spent a lot of money. I wasn’t sure if it would be uncomfortable, everything bouncing and jiggling. And being sick, exercise can be very difficult. I didn’t want to try it once and then crap out because it left me tired and in pain.
I started my trampoline workouts barefoot, with what I call a “safe bounce”, moving up and down with my feet in full contact with the trampoline, or with my heels lifting up just slightly. This made me feel more secure and confident. After all, I didn’t want to bust an ankle right out of the gate. Something really cool and surprising happened as I was safe bouncing. My heart rate went up and it was very easy to keep that pace while moving my arms in different ways. I didn’t get tired at all, and I’m not in good shape like I used to be. Research shows that gentle bouncing has benefits equal to that of rigorous jumping. You can start this way and be very confident that you are doing your body good.
Feeling safe, I quickly graduated to lifting my feet off completely, and this felt easy, too. I tried a simple bounce up and down, lifting my arms above my head or doing a “jump rope” motion. I then twisted at the waist, and tried jumping jacks, too, opening my legs slightly (my trampoline is four feet wide). The time flies having so much fun, and it is so gentle on my joints. I have been doing this for several weeks and not once have I felt sore afterward.
And remember how fun it was jumping up and down on your bed when you were a kid? Well, this is your chance to capture that same free feeling all over again, but in a way that’s acceptable for an adult.
I have been doing about ten minutes five or six days a week. And I split up my ten minutes in four short sessions. Some days I do more if I am feeling strong. I enjoy it so much that I use it as a kind of reward system with myself. If I clean for an hour I will get to rebound for a few minutes. If I make all the beds and water the plants, I get to rebound. If I do a few loads of laundry, I get to rebound. And having lupus, it is also my job to rest, so when I do lay down for a while I promise myself I get to rebound afterward. Seriously! I never thought I would see the day when I would reward myself with exercise.
I am sleeping well, my digestion is a bit better, and I feel more energetic. And I get to experience that awesome exercise high after just five minutes of bouncing. What a fun and easy way to improve the health of my lymphatic system, and my health overall.
And ladies, I have two words of advice for you: sports bra. Things can get a little crazy with all that bouncing. Treat your girls well and keep them safe and secure.
For more information on the awesome benefits of rebound exercise, visit: http://www.healingdaily.com/exercise/rebounding-for-detoxification-and-health.htm
Easter may have come and gone just over one week ago, but if your house is anything like mine, you may have a bowl or basket of candy still hanging around. You know how it is. You walk past it and grab a few things to nibble on. And then you grab an even bigger handful (or two), sit down in front of the tv, and let the mindless munching begin. I have been known to take it to a whole different level. A few times last week, dinner constituted a giant milk chocolate bunny, two big Reese’s peanut butter eggs and handful of Haribo gummi bears. All washed down with a few cups of coffee.
And I wonder why I feel like hell when I wake up in the morning.
I know it’s bad. And if you have visited here before and read previous posts, you will notice my dietary ups and downs. Hey, I’m human. I believe in enjoying life and enjoying food. But that’s the thing. Part of enjoying life is feeling good. And someone like me, who lives with a chronic illness, well, we need to be extra respectful of ourselves. My chocoholic ways of late have been kicking my expanding backside. Bigtime.
Time to get healthy again. My body is literally screaming for it. For about five days now I have been walking around feeling incredibly stressed. Right down to my core. I just feel heavy, with nagging lower back pain and a lingering headache threatening to bust out into a full-on migraine. Even when I sit down to pee it doesn’t feel all that great. Every inch of me is pissed off.
To add insult to this self inflicted injury, Husband just made some cutesy reference to the upcoming bathing suit season, accompanied by a sly and horny smile. Now I’m really freaked out.
There is good news. I am really motivated. Yes, I feel that bad. I got back on the workout kick two days ago, as a detox step if you will. I do feel a bit more clear physically and mentally. And I actually do enjoy healthy food. But now I need to be more conscientious, and I have to plan. The planning part has a tendency to make me a bit crazy.
When things get like this and I have to get my act in gear, my go-to meal of choice is the very versatile veggie burger, perfect for lunch or dinner. Totally delicious and filling, and when piled high with its healthy buddies like mixed greens, avocado and tomato, it has a way of hitting the spot. Now, I’m not here to push my issues on you. Some of you out there would rather enjoy a burger made with meat. Yes, I personally prefer not to consume my animal friends, and ethics aside, my body feels better when I follow a vegetarian diet. But I do prepare organic beef, bison, chicken and turkey burgers for Husband. See? I’m not a total militant nutball.
I love reading magazines, and my home office is overrun with clippings of articles and recipes. I keep putting my organizing projects on the back burner. But when I received my March 2012 issue of Shape magazine in the mail, I was beyond thrilled when I turned one of the pages and found an absolutely gorgeous image of a veggie burger staring back at me. I tore it out right away and was sure to keep it right atop my desk so it wouldn’t get lost. I was excited to give it a try.
After my epic Easter chocolate super binge (and the subsequent days of self loathing), I ran up the street to Safeway after scanning the ingredients list. I had most of what I needed already. My two missing ingredients: zucchini and yellow squash. I was super pumped up. I had never made my own veggie patties before. With so many delicious varieties on the mainstream market, I can always find something good. We have come a long way since the original Boca patty days, with little else in the store to choose from. I love Morningstar Farm’s spicy black bean patties. I buy mine at Costco. Gardenburger also makes a portabella mushroom patty that’s pretty darn good. But I really wanted to give this a try. The Shape magazine recipe had seduced me, with its sleek photography and its descriptive writing. My favorite thing about it? The sentence across the top of the page that read “a savory burger your body will thank you for.” Well, hot damn! Just what I need! It was about time my stressed out bod got a break. I should be thanking it for putting up with me.
So here is Shape magazine’s March 2012 Recipe Of The Month, created by Executive Chef Marc Boussarie of The Counter in Culver City, California. For the most part I followed the recipe closely, though I did make just a few adjustments on the measurements, which I have listed below in parentheses.
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (I ended up using 4 tablespoons)
1 onion, diced (I used 1/2 red onion, diced)
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 large cloves, minced)
2 carrots, peeled and grated (I used 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and grated)
1 yellow squash, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I didn’t measure my freshly ground pepper, but I know I used more than what the recipe calls for, I’m a pepper freak)
1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained (I used 1/3 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (I used 3 tablespoons)
1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats
All-purpose flour for dusting (I used my Bob’s Red Mill stone ground wheat flour)
Level Of Difficulty: Somewhat Easy
I began by heating half the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, adding the onion and garlic. I then reduced to medium heat and sautéed for about five minutes.
I then mixed in my grated veggies, salt and pepper, cooking for about five minutes over medium heat. Next came my black beans, beaten egg, paprika, parsley and oats. I stirred together thoroughly, reduced heat to low and cooked for just a few more minutes. I then transferred the mixture to a large bowl and allowed it to rest at room temperature for about one hour.
After dividing my mixture into 4 patties, I coated each well with my wheat flour, and proceeded to coating my skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once my oil was heated over medium high heat, I added my patties and cooked for about five minutes on each side, turning about four times until both sides were golden brown.
The Shape recipe specifies 6 servings. I prefer to make larger patties, hence the 4 servings I came up with.
For lunch I melted both aged swiss and sharp cheddar cheese on my patties, and enjoyed on a multigrain bun with organic mixed greens, pickles, mayo, spicy mustard, tomatoes, extra pepper and a squeeze of Thousand Island dressing. I got fancy on round 2. I piled my burger high with extra carrots, cucumber slices, avocado and red bell pepper, and spread some cool and flavorful tzatziki over the top. The dill and cucumber in the tzatziki made it really interesting and delightful!
The burger was substantial, crazy yummy, and even though it filled me up I didn’t have that gross heavy feeling I have been carrying around for way too long. I felt satisfied for hours. I have to warn everyone that it was messy and fell apart toward the end, but a minor inconvenience for such deliciousness!
So how do I feel? Good! My digestive system is happy for the first time in a week. It really doesn’t take long to feel less toxic. It only tells me my body doesn’t want to feel bad. It is eager and excited to get back to life and feeling great. And I feel quite pleased with myself, finding a fantastic recipe that was easy to follow. I will surely enjoy these burgers again and again.
It is worth mentioning my burgers didn’t exactly look like the photo in Shape magazine. I panicked at first, thinking I did something wrong, but my concerns were unwarranted. In addition to tasting super good, they still looked fab.
For the PDF version of the Shape Magazine recipe and additional serving tips, visit:
The day didn’t start out too hot. My days usually don’t, but it was different this time. I woke up with a tummy ache, sore throat and a pounding head. My body felt stressed and toxic after nine crap hours of sleep.
Slowly getting over the feeling that I had been hit by a truck, I crawled out of bed and made it to the bathroom mirror, to be met with my very tired face. I used my pH test strips over the potty, and they showed I was running very acidic, way below of where I need to be on the alkaline scale.
Why was this happening? Yes, I do battle fatigue and general malaise on a daily basis. But the ante had been upped, so to speak, and I had my theory.
I hadn’t been eating well. And with my health the way it is it really shouldn’t be that way. I need to be smarter, better, and most important I need to be more kind to myself.
‘Tis the season for chocolate and sweets. At least in my house. It seems from Halloween and straight through Easter, they have a constant presence in my world. Actually, it always seems to be sweet season, regardless of what the calendar says.
I made two chocolate cakes with homemade buttercream frosting last week for my husband’s birthday. Count ‘em: two cakes. And that’s just for us. With so much chocolate buttercream it would make you sick. Two pounds of butter and fifteen cups of sugar in all. Ugh. And with Easter right around the corner, Cadbury creme eggs are a mainstay in my house. Gooey, straight up sugar fondant encased in milk chocolate. It’s so bad. And Husband also likes to have the big Reese’s peanut butter eggs around. I helped him polish off a fresh 6-pack just the other night. My two to his four.
I get into this really destructive pattern. I do really well and eat clean until the evening hours. And then for some reason after dinner I just fall apart. Any semblance of self control just flies straight out the window. I eat things loaded with fat and sugar, telling myself all along that it is so delicious (it really is) and tomorrow is another day. Before long the self loathing begins and I swear up and down I will be an angel from that moment on. But it never turns out that way. I was going on a solid ten days of this habit.
I can’t blame my mate. This problem lies entirely with me. Granted, I am not thrilled with all the crap he eats and what it means for his health, but that’s a battle for a different day. It was time to focus on moi and getting her back on track. I would work on him some other time.
I thought foregoing sweets would turn out to be an easy task, at least for one day. On day one of the new me, Husband started his day at the crack of dawn with half a package of Double Stuf Oreos, about ten spoonfuls of my homemade cake frosting and two ice cream chocolate brittle bars. At 6 in the morning. Who does this? The sight was enough to make me queasy.
I spent my morning taking it easy over a few cups of herbal tea, but I knew I would have to face it soon. What to eat? How could I keep it clean? At noon my tummy started talking, ready for food. I grabbed a carrot stick out of the fridge, with no clue as to what my grand plan was after that.
When I am naughty for days on end, find myself in the throes of yuckiness and then have my “epiphany”, my first step on my road to righteousness is usually a run to Trader Joe’s. I was ready to grab my car keys and spend a good hour roaming the aisles for all things healthy. But surely I had to have something on hand I could already work with.
I opened the fridge and had one of those moments that can best be compared to opening my jam packed closet. Just like telling myself I have nothing to wear, I swore there was nothing to eat. Even though I had bright and colorful fruits and vegetables staring back at me. I compelled myself to look again, and accepted that I may actually have to think (not my strong suit) and put forth more effort than I want to. I am looking forward to when I am rich and famous. My first order of business? Hiring someone to do this crap for me.
I had beautiful bell peppers, squash, cucumbers, even broccoli on hand. And hidden on a shelf in a corner of the kitchen I spied a box of plain organic quinoa. From none other than Trader Joe’s. I must have bought it when I was coming off one of my many legendary sugar benders. Tucked away and forgotten.
Quinoa has been getting a lot of good attention lately. Read any health minded magazine or online resource (like this one) and you will find recipes and articles touting its virtues. It was a staple in the diets of the ancient Incas and remains popular in South American cuisine. Its flavor is delicate, it contains more protein than most popular grains, it’s high in fiber and a decent source of iron. For many reasons, quinoa is a good grain to get acquainted with. Think of it as an exotic and equally healthful alternative to the more familiar rice or couscous.
So what to do? Well, given what I had to work with, why not try a salad? Time to get to work. I didn’t have a specific plan. But with something as versatile as quinoa, even someone like me couldn’t screw this up.
As I chopped my peppers, onions and cucumber, I spotted a half eaten box of Milk Duds on the kitchen counter. Yes, I actually thought about it for a minute. Then I grabbed the damn box and threw it in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
Here is my first quinoa creation, a delicious salad with black beans:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups organic vegetable broth
2 medium size cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 large onion (I went with white onion-finely chopped)
1 15 oz. can black beans (drained and rinsed well in my colander)
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh parsley (chopped, and optional)
Level Of Difficulty: Easy
In a saucepan I sautéed the onion and garlic in vegetable oil under medium heat until browned. Then added 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups veggie broth. I brought all ingredients to a boil, and then reduced heat to simmer, covering for 20 minutes. Once cooked, I fluffed with a fork and added my drained and rinsed black beans.
Once cooled, I added my red bell pepper, cucumber and parsley. I would imagine that steamed broccoli and squash would also be delicious additions, but I really needed to keep it easy. It was one of those days.
I threw together a quick impromptu dressing just to make the salad a bit more interesting. The dressing part is certainly optional, the quinoa and its buddies taste great on their own, and whatever dressing you do use can cater to your taste. What I came up with below is very mild when mixed in with the salad. I whisked together all ingredients and then poured over my salad and tossed:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (I think apple cider vinegar would work nicely, too)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
The juice of one lime wedge (large lime)
With my healthy detox tea, filtered water with lemon, and this quinoa salad as my late lunch, I felt much lighter and more centered. My tummy was settled and happy, and I felt less crazy. I resisted the urge to eat candy. I really didn’t want it after the hell I had put myself through. Instead I enjoyed a crisp Granny Smith apple smothered in flaxseed almond butter. And my almond butter had no added sugar, for those of you who are wondering.
The salad was surely delicious, easy to make, and it would be the perfect thing to pack for lunch and take to work. I ate my share, and Husband enjoyed it, too. Together we plowed through the bowl.
I realized I had over half a box of quinoa and half of my organic veggie broth left, and my first salad was already gone. Why not make another one, just different? This time I thought I would put a Mediterranean twist on it.
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups organic vegetable broth
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small orange bell pepper, chopped
4 medium sized stalks celery, chopped
1 cup black olives, sliced
1 cucumber, chopped
3 ounces crumbled feta cheese (I go with full fat cheese every time)
1 medium tomato chopped (I had tomatoes on the vine handy, I would imagine cherry tomatoes would be especially delicious)
Salt and pepper to taste
Level Of Difficulty: Like the first one, easy
I brought the veggie broth to a boil and poured in my uncooked quinoa, then reduced to simmer and left covered for 20 minutes. Once done, I removed from the heat and allowed to cool in a large bowl, just as I did with the first salad. While my quinoa cooled, I chopped all my veggies, olives and tomato, and prepared a simple and light dressing, whisking all ingredients together:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 quick splash red wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove finely chopped
Juice of one small lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped basil
A few twists of my freshly ground pepper
I added my chopped veggies, olives, tomato and feta to the quinoa, then drizzled my dressing over it, stirring well before refrigerating. Like the first salad, the second one was more delicious after it sat for a while, allowing all the ingredients and flavors to blend.
After two days I am still waking up tired, but I’m always tired. My head isn’t pounding, my tummy is less upset, and I don’t feel like I am carrying that heavy, toxic feeling inside of me. I have slept better, too, and my pH testing shows I am more alkaline than before. Granted, I think all of these good things have less to do with the power of quinoa and more to do with me eating less refined sugar. But it feels great. And I have made two very easy and delicious salads I can whip up anytime, perfect for lunch or a side dish to a main course.
It is empowering to feel more disciplined, knowing I am putting good things into my body. I hope to keep up the good habit.
Easter will be here soon. Let’s see if I can get through and escape the seductive wiles of the chocolate bunnies, gooey Cadbury creme eggs and anything Reese’s. Just under two weeks to go.
May the force be with me.