Sunday, 29 January 2017

Run Rabbit Run

As previously mentioned, I recently started running on a fairly regular basis. I'm not 110% committed to it yet, after all it's only been 4 weeks today since I started doing it properly. In that time I've done 5 runs. Before this I had been for a couple of runs, but I wasn't doing it regularly or with a plan.

I never thought running was something I would be able to do. I used to hate it as a kid, and this was probably down to the fact that it caused me quite a bit of pain and I fell over a lot as I lacked co-ordination In hindsight, these issues were obviously due to my hypermobility that was at the time undiagnosed. I used to twist my ankles regularly, hurt my knee, all sorts. 

As I continued to have problems with my joints throughout my teenage years and into my early twenties (I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact I am solidly in my mid-twenties now), I was always told and led to believe that I should not do high impact sport. I was forced to stop doing PE at school (I wasn't that bothered; actually, that's a lie - I was thrilled). I realised that I could no longer risk trampolining at friends' houses after more than one occasion when my knee decided to sublux mid-jump, causing me to land unsafely and/or nearly come off the trampoline completely. I felt I had been severely limited on what I could do in terms of exercise.

Over time, I've watched people go off running to de-stress or just to be out in the environment. It started to bother me, I wanted to be able to say "I'm stressed so I'm going for a run" rather than "I'm stressed, I'm going to get drunk". I wanted to be able to experience the wind in my hair, the satisfaction of hearing your feet pounding the pavement. But I was scared... 

I had been working hard at the gym for the first few months of last year. I realised my body was getting stronger, and it was reacting better in certain situations. If I has been sat on the kitchen counter, I could now jump off and not roll my ankle on hitting the ground. I didn't have to slide off awkwardly. I could walk faster. I discovered I could cope with using a skipping rope... I started to running down the garden when I had my trainers on, on my way to and/or from the gym. Just to see how it felt. It didn't hurt. I started jogging on the spot when I was doing other workouts at home. It didn't hurt.

So I decided to give it a go. I ran a quarter of a mile the first time, just home from my mother-in-laws. It hurt my chest but it didn't hurt my bones. I realised I could really do this... So I went for a run with a friend, and then a run on my own... This was all towards the end of  2016. Then it got colder and darker, and I got lazier. So I stopped. But we got to after Christmas and I saw how much weight I had gained over the Christmas period. That's when I decided that this year I am going to run regularly.


So, long story short, I got treated to a new pair of trainers for my birthday, and I am certainly putting them to good use. I've run/walked over 10 miles so far this year. My friend and I are currently using the Couch to 5k app to help give us some structure which involves a period of walking, a period of running and repeat, finishing with a walk. I can run for 3 minutes without stopping - something impressive for some one who couldn't run for 10 seconds before. I think in the next week, it takes us up to 5 minutes of running with a much shorter recovery time, so that'll be interesting.

I got a real good feeling about this though. 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Oh How Time Flies...

How time flies when you're having fun. I managed to fall off the radar again completely. What a surprise.

So, let's catch up on what's been happening since... er... October. Oops.

Needless to say, it's the usual story of long hours and Christmas and life in general that has got in the way of me blogging. Nothing exciting, just usual stuff that I use as an excuse. But I'm trying to not make excuses this year. I'm trying not to make excuses anymore going forward to be honest, not just this year.

There was nothing of real interest to report in the last few months of the year. I did that typical "stuff it, it's Christmas, let's eat all the food" thing and gained some weight which I'm having to work to get off again for the sake of my joints. I had a couple of mini flare-ups, and I went to see an osteopath to free up my shoulder and neck again as they were giving me issues. I also went and finally got round to do all my general health care check ups that you're supposed to do regularly and I haven't done for years.

I went and saw the opticians - all was well - I am now slightly short sighted in one eye, but not enough to warrant glasses. I saw the dentist and as a result of this first visit in some years, discovered that I needed a filling *urgh* and I went to the doctors for my (first) smear test. (Ladies, these are important - please get them done, regardless of "embarrassing" it may seem, it may just save your life - I'll get onto this one in another post though so the squeamish can avoid).

We got into the new year, and I have scored myself a new job with less hours and more money (win win). This will hopefully give me some more time to write here and to share cooking and general healthcare tips & info. I also started running. Like actually regularly running which I'm thrilled about. In fact, I'm so thrilled about it I could write a ridiculous amount, so let's save that for another post shall we as well.

Anyway, there's my little catch up of my life. All is well, I am happy. I have lots to share and talk about, so keep watching this space for little catch ups - and hopefully some more regular blogs!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Nothing Like a Nice Bowl of Soup

One of my biggest cooking obsessions at the moment is soup. It's so easy; you can make batches; it's healthy; it stores well and there is just so many options! A big favourite of mine at the moment is Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup, and today I'm going to run through my recipe as it's a great one for spoonies.

Well, I say it's a great one for fellow spoonies. I'm not going to lie, this is definitely one to make on a good day rather than a bad day, but it can be stored in the fridge or in the freezer and just hiked out when you need a quick, healthy meal with no effort. A worthwhile to spend a small chunk of a good day in my opinion.

So what do you need?

1 onion (or I use frozen diced onion and chuck a good old handful in)
3 carrots (or you could use a small bag of prepared carrots even if they're batons)
2 sweet potatoes peeled and slice or cubed or whatever you fancy (you may be able to get some pre-prepared sweet potatoes, but I'm not sure)
1 litre of stock (vegetable or chicken or whatever floats your boat)
Garlic (or I use garlic powder though)

From here you can funk it up however you want. This time I used some chilli powder for a kick, and some mixed herbs.

So to start with, get a big old saucepan (honestly, you want the biggest one). Pop some oil in the bottom, heat up the pan and chuck in your onions. If you're using real garlic, crush it up and put it in now as well. I get my onions going for a little bit before I put in my garlic powder.

Once your onions have softened up nicely, throw in your carrots and mix round as well. Now's probably a good time to put in any of the herbs and spices you're using. Add your sweet potato in too, and follow it with your litre of stock.

Now for the easy bit. Give it all a good stir, and then leave it alone. Maybe stir occasionally if you can be bothered or feel like it. You want to leave it until your carrots and sweet potato have all gone super soft. This can be as quick as 20 minutes, or I like to leave mine on a real low heat for an hour whilst I'm making and eat my dinner usually.



Once it's all soft and squidgy you're nearly in the final stages. Take your saucepan off the stove and placed it on a solid surface with a mat as required - obviously the pan is heavy so watch weak wrists and fingers at this point as it's all too easy to end up spilling burning hot liquid over yourself and no food is worth that.

This next bit you have to be really careful with as well. I've burnt myself on more than one occasion doing this because I don't concentrate. You want to blitz your soup into actual soup now. To do this you can either put it into a blender, or I use a hand blender. All too often I lose concentration though and end up spraying boiling soup up my arm, so you do really have to focus at this point and take it steady. Blitz the soup until all the lumps have gone (unless you're into random lumps of carrot and sweet potato, then leave some of them!).

You now have ready to eat soup! Yummy! At this point I normally dish this out into my plastic dishes and get it ready to freeze or throw in the fridge. If you're eating straight away, feel free to enjoy with some bread.



I find the recipe does me 3 decent sized bowls of soup, so it's a good one to have for lunches during the week, or to freeze as a quick evening meal. I just microwave until roasting hot when I'm ready to eat. This takes between 3 and 4 minutes from fridge and will obviously be way longer from frozen.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Sweet Treats

It's been a little while since I shared one of my easy-to-make recipes, so I thought it was about time I did another one... So now it's time for dessert.

I don't know about you, but all I really want pretty much all of the time is sweet stuff. Chocolate preferably. And cakes. And icing. and generally lots of naughty things. But as we all know, it's bad for you to have too much of this stuff. And it can be especially bad for us spoonies to consume too much when we don't necessarily have the ability to work it all off. So I've been looking on good ol' Pinterest for healthy recipes and this is one that I love. It's soooo easy, so simple, tastes great and satisfies that sweet craving without being horrendously bad.

All you need is 3 ingredients. Yep, only THREE.
- 3 bananas (well ripened)
- 120g smooth nut butter (I use almond butter, I'm obsessed with it!)
- Cocoa powder to taste - I used about 6 teaspoons worth, but do it depending on your preference.

The other thing you ideally need to make this recipe as easy as possible, is a blender. I just have a cheap little hand blender that I swear by for pretty much everything.


As you can tell, I only remembered to take this picture AFTER I had chucked all the ingredients in the blender and started to blitz... but you get the idea. Bananas, smooth nut butter and cocoa powder.

Once it's all blitzed together you have this sauce type stuff. It looks pretty yummy just as it is. All you need to do now is grab a small tin and have your oven pre-heated to about 200 degrees centigrade. I line my tin with foil because I'm really lazy, but you can do it properly and use baking parchment and use butter or similar to grease the sides. Coconut oil would probably a great alternative to butter if you're being super healthy.

Chuck the batter in the tin and throw it in the oven for 20 minutes. When it's done, leave to cool. Cut up and enjoy...

As you can see, I'm *impatiently* waiting for mine to cool so I can cut it up and enjoy.

With this, I imagine it will last pretty well for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container. But let's be honest... who can leave chocolatey goodness alone for a few days?!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Pain for Gain

The phrase often goes "no pain, no gain," but rarely is that actually the case for an EDS sufferer. Normally pain is just a fact of life and you gain nothing from it but tiredness and if you're real lucky (that's sarcasm folks) then you get to have exhaustion, insomnia, and all sorts of fun and games.

One thing that I have had to try and teach myself about lately though is "good" pain... the "getting gains" type of pain... Ever since I started using the gym, going to pilates and trying to get fitter this year, I have been having to try and learn this good pain.

Trying to differentiate between the burning pain of working out, and the bad pain that is your joints protesting their inability is a hard one. At times it's near-on impossible to differentiate and if you get it wrong, it can be really bad.

I stopped working out in June until just this month... I don't really know why I stopped other than pure laziness. I did the odd day here and there and tried to eat a bit healthy but mostly I slipped back into my old ways. I wrote about a bad flare I had as a result of this back in July... I also know I wrote about trying to get motivated again in August. It didn't work... but I'm getting there now. I'm using weights and the last few times I have really felt the burn.

One of the main things I have been told on more than one occasion is that I need to strengthen my core. This is because your core is where an awful lot of your stability comes from. Zebras with EDS will know that one of the fun old symptoms of it can included a loss of balance and co-ordination. I'm a big old tick in that box. I regularly fall over thin air and I have lost count of how many times I have fallen into my desk or miscalculated where it is in relation to my body at work... My legs are a living testament to this as they are black and blue with bruises. But I digress.

So, working to improve my core strength is a big goal of what I am trying to achieve. I'm also trying to improve my leg strength to better stabilise my joints, work on the strength of my arms as I have zero upper body strength... and just generally improve my fitness. So I use weights and various exercises that work a whole bunch of these things together... But I have really had to learn between what is the pain of my thigh muscles working hard and improving, and what is my hip bone grinding away more of the cartilage.

It's a difficult journey and it's hard to learn. I don't always get it right, but I am getting stronger. Now I get to have days where I can moan about my legs and arms hurting, but I get to follow it with the phrase "but it's good pain." It's the pain that tells me my muscles have been worked hard and are going to get stronger from. It's not the pain that leaves me feeling like my world is falling apart.

So fellow zebras, please try and remember that there is good pain and bad pain. It's just a case of learning how to achieve one without the other, and maybe achieving the good pain might assist with limiting the bad pain....

I'm currently obsessed with my kettle bell weight (only a measly 3kg but present enough of a challenge for my weeks limbs) and my hand weights (a bulkier 2.5kg each.... these are blooming hard work and in hindsight I should have ordered 2kg. They didn't have them on the shelf when I was making my purchase though, and 1kg was too little, and I was impatient.)


What exercises do you like to do? Have you tried weight training?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Chaos

Life has been it's usual slightly chaotic self again lately. I've been managing to find some crafty time, but at the expense of exercise time. I've not done any proper exercise for a while now.

My gym membership expired at the end of July, and I took the decision not to renew it partly down to cost, but also to try and make me self-motivate to exercise at home. After all, what is the point in having 2 yoga mats, an exercise ball, skipping rope, weights, a kettle bell and an exercise bike all at home if you're never going to use them. Needless to say though, I haven't quite succeeded at the self motivation part - instead I've been doing other things.

This is going to change though, because I can definitely feel the difference in my joints, and my body as a whole when I don't exercise. What I'd love to do is reach a point where my body can tolerate the impact of running. I've got it to a level where it can tolerate quite a large amount of walking, so now it's time to increase that to running. I've always been envious of runners you see. There's something so freeing about it all.

I guess it's going to be a case of taking the time to re-train my body to do exercise and cope with it, and then it'll be a case of building it up slowly and gradually. I know I need to improve the strength in my ankles before I can even contemplate starting to run, but I'm hoping I'll get there!

Maybe if I can get to a point where I can actually do a fairly decent run, I could do a fundraising run for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome research, and wouldn't that be something!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Quick Bites

As part of my health kick, I've been trying to find something that satisfies my naughty biscuit craving.... And I've found one that's not perfect but it's pretty darn good. These "cookies" have the same texture as the middle squidgy bit of a really good (really naughty) cookie.... and they're only 3 ingredients!!!!

All you need is 2 ripe bananas, 1 cup of oats, and then an extra of your choice, I like to use a couple of *small* handfuls of dark chocolate chips for mine, and they are super yummy.

To make these is super duper easy...


  • Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees celsius.
  • Line a tray with foil or greaseproof paper.
  • Peel and mash the bananas. If your joints aren't up to mashing, then you can use a food processor for this bit.
  • Mix the cup of oats with the 2 mashed bananas.
  • Add any yummy bits like chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, etc at this point and mix well again.
  • Place spoonfuls onto the tray, I normally get between 8&10 depending on the size of my spoonfuls, 
  • Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are starting to brown off.
  • Allow to cool for a brief spell, then peel off the foil or paper.
  • ENJOY the chewy yummy goodness!

This is the pre-oven cookies. They look like the real deal even at this point...

And the finished product:


NOM!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Flare Up

Lately I've been talking a lot about what a difference exercising and a healthier diet have made to me. I've not had any bad flare ups since I started exercising regularly, I got myself a fairly okay bikini body for my holiday and the pain that I did have was manageable. It was beautiful.

Then I got a great big slap of reality. I came back from holiday and kept telling myself "next week I'll get back on the health kick, the exercising, etc; next week I will". The problem was, "next week" was always put off a little longer, and a little longer.... It didn't matter though I thought, I wasn't piling back on the pounds; I was happy, life was good, it didn't matter. I was wrong.

I'd had the stirrings of a flare up going on for a few days in hindsight, but at the time I didn't realise it as I had gone so long without one. I was just cracking on with life, the constant nag of pain was there, but whatever, it was always going to be there. Then it happened. The murmur of pain became slightly louder. I thought it odd, but I carried on. I went to my pilates class as normal that evening, as sometimes this has helped me during a flare, and to be honest I thought it would just settle the pain back to a murmur. God was I wrong. That was the beginning of the end that evening. My hips clunked louder than ever with every leg movement, I could feel the grind of the cartilage. My back kept twinging constantly. I struggled to even maintain the lowest level of plank, when I had been just starting to master the main level of plank. It was a disaster.

I came home, I got in a hot shower, and I cried. I poured myself a large drink, took some painkillers (remember kids, DON'T take meds with alcohol, I'm an irresponsible adult, so do as I say, not as I do) and curled up feeling sorry for me whilst I watched the final of a programme I like. Then I went to bed and cried some more until I slept.

The next day was even worse. That murmur had become a shout and scream and bellow. I couldn't walk properly, my back was killing me, my hips were killing me, my shoulders were killing me.... Lets be honest here, my everything was killing me. It was a nightmare. But I wasn't ready to admit defeat. So I dragged my ass into work, and for the first time at this job, my colleagues got to see what my illness really meant to me. We've talked about it in passing before, but I don't think they've really ever seen it as a serious problem as they've never seen me not coping with it. But this time they did.

They were supportive, thankfully. They did their best to make me laugh, to minimise the stress on my joints, and ensured they offered to adapt my work tasks. I hauled my ass through that whole damn day, and was exhausted. But I carried on, because I knew I needed to this time. I was not ready to admit defeat to my body this time.

Thankfully, having forced myself to take a walk that night as well, to try and ease out some of the pain, I woke up to just a chatter the next day. It was in that moment that I realised what I needed to do. I needed to get back into routine, and exercise again and eat healthily. So that's what I've been doing. I've mentally committed to trying to do at least 20 minutes of some sort of exercise every night, and hopefully I'll get myself back to where I've been of being in control of this beast.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Busy Bee

Life has been so crazy busy for me lately. I've been running at pretty much maximum since my last post, and I just haven't really had chance to get near a (non-work) computer. It's been ridiculous.

So, let's do a bit of catch up then... Around the last time I wrote, I was heading out to Santorini for a holiday with my beloved other half, and to watch one of my friends tie the knot. It was pretty darn exciting, and part of the reason I had been working so hard at eating healthier and exercising more, as I really did want a better beach body. It wasn't perfect still, but it was a darn sight better than what I started 2016 with.

Whilst in Santorini, I had to test my limits, a lot. But it was all for the better, and it turned out I got to see a real improvement from all the exercise I had done. Our hotel was halfway up a very steep hill, and whilst this meant it was only about 5 minutes down to the beach, it did also mean that it was about 15 minutes back up to the hotel. Nightmare. But none the less I managed to do that climb every day, at least once a day, and more often than not, I did it twice a day!

The first time we did it, I thought I was going to pass out/puke, but that was also because it was 2pm, sweltering hot, and I was tired out from exploring the beach front. I recovered much quicker that I ever used to before though, and was happily by the pool not even 15 minutes after reaching our hotel.


This was the view from our balcony; as you can see we were pretty high up, and if you can see the car in the second picture, you get a bit of an idea of how steep the hill was!

Anyway, I soldiered on with that, and went off to watch my friend get married and enjoyed a wonderful evening with her, to then go on to face my next challenge!

We booked an all day boat excursion to see some more of the island, including the volcano, a smaller island off of the main island, and ending in Oia. This day really put me to the test again, as it involved climbing up the volcano over uneven, stoney ground. It was bloody hardwork and near on killed me.


But it was worth it.... once we stopped off at the little island, and had a spot of lunch, I was pretty tired, but we still had my next challenge to undertake - the 280 steps from the port up to Oia, the place where pretty much all beautiful pictures of Santorini are taken, and THE place to watch the sunset. I had to get there. There was the option to pay €5 for a donkey ride up to the top, but I wanted to do it off my own steam. So I did it. It took me a long time, and I had to take plenty of breaks. I wanted to cry, but I made it. And that was the most satisfying achievement I have had in a long time... Boy did I get a reward for it to...

So, that was my holiday, and one of my *many* reasons for my large absence from the blog lately. Never fever though, normality will be returning hopefully.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Cheating Pizza

The other day I came in and I was exhausted. I only needed to cook for myself, and I just couldn't face going through a huge effort for anything. But I wanted food and I didn't want a takeaway. I didn't know what to do.

I had a little rummage through the cupboards and the fridge. I really wanted pizza, but we didn't have any in the freezer, and I had already ruled out a takeaway. I was wondering what I could do to ease the craving. Then I figured it out. I could make a fake pizza, and it would only take a couple of minutes to make, and it didn't matter what food was in the cupboard as I could easily change it up.

So I made a cheat pizza.... It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn tasty, and I enjoyed it. This was my one that night.


So, what do you need to make this tasty thing? Well the beauty of it is that it's pretty flexible. The main things you need are:

  • 1 Tortilla wrap
  • Handful or 2 of grated cheese

For this one I also used the following ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • Handful of frozen sweetcorn
  • Handful of pre-cooked prawns
To make this cheat pizza is so straight forward. You can either oven or grill it, depending on what toppings you use. Grilling will cook the tortilla quicker, so only use this if you've not got a topping that needs to be piping hot. I used the oven for mine as I wanted to make sure my prawns were heated through thoroughly before eating. Nobody wants to end up with a poorly belly!
  • Warm your oven or grill to arrange 200 degrees celsius.
  • Place your tortilla on a tray
  • If using tomato puree, put this on the tortilla and spread it around evenly
  • Scatter your cheese over the tortilla. I like a lot of cheese so I used a fair bit for this, if you don't like it so much, then don't use too much
  • Add any other toppings on now. You could use pre-cooked chicken, pre-cooked bacon, peppers, spinach, tuna, ham, pineapple. Whatever takes your fancy, just remember to not load it up too much as the base is not as stable as a normal pizza base!
  • Pop your tray with the "pizza" into the oven or under the grill. Then watch it carefully. Grilling takes about 5-10 minutes, but do keep an eye on it. In the oven it may taken 15+ minutes. Just ensure that anything that needs to be reheated thoroughly is done so (like chicken or prawns).
  • Once done, remove from the oven/grill and slide onto a plate. Then cut with a knife and enjoy!
I'd recommend cutting it into smaller slice than I did on the one in the picture as I found it to be very unstable and that make eating it more difficult. It was pretty tasty though and definitely made for a fairly satisfying dinner without too much exertion!

What toppings would you use when making this?