I made it through my first semester of grad school! I ended up dropping one of my courses in the beginning of the semester because the workload was too much. I have to get my work done when the kids are sleeping and there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to take the full course load at this point. It may take me a little longer to graduate, but there’s no rush so I’m fine with that. I managed to get A’s in all of my classes which was especially surprising for my chemistry class. Unfortunately, the final grades are only submitted as pass/fail so I don’t even get to brag about my GPA…oh well :).
I’m only taking one course this summer which is the class I dropped last semester – Physiology: Healthy Function I. The reason I’m only taking one course is because in just over 2 weeks, we’re heading to Paris for 2 months. I will have even less time to get my work done while we’re gone so I would prefer to only have one class to focus on. My husband’s last semester of grad school is this summer. He found out at the beginning of the year that he has the chance to spend it in Paris and jumped at the opportunity. I studied abroad in Paris when I was in college and had an amazing experience. It’ll be a bit different this time around with 2 little ones, but we’re ready for the challenge. The last time we were there was 2 years ago when Zain was about 18 months old.
The biggest challenge we’ve faced so far is finding an apartment. I spent weeks searching for one and weeding through the listing of “kid friendly” apartments that have toddler death trap stairs. Here are a few gems from my searches. I don’t think I’d even trust myself with these kinds of stairs.
The things we absolutely must have in our apartment are WiFi, an elevator, and a washing machine. I finally found the perfect place in the Latin Quarter and booked it in February. I felt so relieved to have that part of the trip taken care of. That is until the apartment agency emailed me about a month ago to tell me that there will be construction going on in the apartment building in the month of June. We either needed to find another apartment for the duration of our stay or split our stay between 2 apartments. We didn’t want to deal with the hassle of changing apartments mid-stay so we decided to find a new one. Since we’re getting closer to our arrival date, it was even harder the second time around to find a place. We lucked out and found one that is available just a few blocks for our original place. Our fingers and toes are crossed that nothing goes wrong this time!
Our apartment has a view of the Eiffel Tower from it’s kitchen…
And a view of the Seine and Notre Dame from the living room…we might not ever want to leave!
I wanted to share some of the resources I used for finding an apartment in Paris. You can use an agency or book through individual owners. Apartment rentals are available for short and long term stays. Even if you’re only going to Paris for a week, it’s nice to have an apartment so you can buy your own food and avoid eating out for every meal.
- Paris Attitude
- Paris Vacation Apartments
- NY Habitat – Paris
- Paris Perfect
- Host in Paris
One very important note is that just because an apartment’s online calendar says it is available, that does not mean it is. I got my hopes up so many times when I thought I found the right place. I swear that 95% of the time that when I contacted the owner, they told me it actually wasn’t available. That was always disappointing.
We’re so excited for this adventure and I can’t wait to run through the streets of Parisagain!
We’ve survived a week and half in Paris and everything is pretty fantastic. The flight here went great despite a crisis on the way to the airport. We know Ezra is allergic to bananas and avocados so we obviously don’t give them to him. However, we did not know that kiwi is in the same family and he had some for the first time early in the day before our flight. On the way to the airport, he puked all over himself. We were close enough to home to rush back and clean him up. He threw up one more time on the way to the airport, but it wasn’t as bad as the first time. Poor baby was wiped out from not feeling well so he slept most of the flight.
We were quite the spectacle navigating through
the airport with all this stuff
Jet lag = family nap time
Our apartment is in the St. Germain neighborhood. It’s an area that I have been to before, but haven’t spent a lot of time in during past trips. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know the area and exploring the small winding streets. Zain was very excited to go see the Eiffel Tower so went there at the beginning of last week. Instead of taking the metro, we walked the 2 miles (we didn’t force Zain to walk the whole time, he walked some and hitched a ride in the stroller for most of the walk) to get there so we could enjoy the weather and the beautiful views along the Seine.
We went to check out my husband’s school and make sure he was okay with his metro route to get there. He started classes this week and the kids and I managed to get along okay on our own. Maneuvering the stroller on my own is a little bit of a challenge because the crosswalk ramps are frequently not flush with the street so we have to lift the front of the stroller slightly to get up. That’s a little hard to do alone when crossing a busy street. Plus a lot of the streets have tiny narrow sidewalks to it’s hard to get around in general.
The stroller we bought on this trip is called a Kinderwagon. I searched high and low to find the most compact double stroller and this seems to be it. Its footprint isn’t much bigger than a standard single umbrella stroller so it’s perfect for narrow sidewalks. Our only complaint is that it’s not the easiest to push or maneuver for quick turns without some effort, but it’s still the best option we could find. The front seat doesn’t recline much so when one kid needs to nap, they have to go in the back. The back is pretty comfy for either of them, but probably a little less so for Zain. The back seat is a little small, but he still likes sitting back there because he can see really well since it sits up higher.
I’ve been loving every run here. The views are stunning. We found a great area nearby that is a road closed to traffic by the Seine. It’s full of runners, walkers, and cyclists and a great place to escape the traffic and stopping at crosswalks. Plus when the road ends, you’re almost at the base of the Eiffel Tower!
The reasons why I need to keep running a lot
Berges de Seine – the perfect place to run
Walking up 5 flights of stairs post-run is always fun
That’s all for now, but I look forward to sharing more of our adventures in this amazing city!
I had another appointment last week with my osteopath as I continue to try to recover from having pleurisy almost a year ago. It is incredible the things that she has figured out that my conventional doctors would have never asked me about and definitely never attributed my pleurisy too. As I mentioned in my first post about my experience with osteopath experience, my osteopath does think that there is a structural component to why this happened. Something is definitely off with my ribs. I can still feel that something is off because my ribcage feels weird, for lack of a better word, on that side especially when I’m laying down. I also feel a slight pop when I exhale while laying on that side – an indication that a rib most likely was out of place and did not go back into place completely or correctly.
At my appointment this week, she asked me what was going on in my life when this happened. Have you ever had a doctor ask you that question? I never have. They want to know your physical symptoms so they can make a diagnosis, but they usually don’t want to know anything about your personal life, your emotional state, etc. That question is actually something I’ve been learning about myself in one of my nutrition school classes.
Anyway, back to my answer to the question – The biggest thing going on at that time was that I had Ezra in late December 2012. At 6 weeks postpartum, I started running again and immediately jumped into training for a half marathon that was in April. Her follow up question – was I pushing my body hard despite being exhausted? Yes. It wasn’t just the exhaustion of having a new baby either. I had not gotten a full night of sleep since I got pregnant with Zain (he’s not the best sleeper obviously). Over 3 years of sleep deprivation was wearing on my body and I was pushing myself to train for a half marathon because I was itching so badly to get back to running. Is it a coincidence that my pleurisy diagnosis came just a couple weeks before that half marathon? Now I know that it wasn’t.
I’m not saying that training for the half caused my pleurisy. But I do think the training was probably too much on my body at the time. I see women all the time who bounce back from having a baby and immediately start training for half marathons, marathons, an Ironman, ultramarathons. We want to get our bodies back in shape. We want to get right back to chasing our goals. Maybe jumping back in so quickly isn’t healthy for our bodies. Pregnancy, giving birth, sleep deprivation…our bodies need a chance to recover without being pushed so hard. I’m not saying we shouldn’t get back to exercising when we get the all clear, but it’s just something to think about. I think of it this way – I plan to be a lifelong runner so I don’t need to wear myself down trying to run all the races, beat all my PRs, and train for longer distances right this second. I have my whole life ahead of me to chase those goals and dreams.
My osteopath told me that it’s like everything in my body is completely tight and tense. My soft tissue doesn’t move the way it should. My body is not functioning in the fluid manner it is supposed to. It has improved since I started seeing her in January, but it’s not better yet. She said it’s like there is a wall in my body. That is exactly how it feels when I try to take a deep breath. It feels like there is a wall and the air can only get in so far before it hits the wall. The good news is that the problem with my breathing is starting to get better. She told me at my first appointment that with osteopathic treatment, you generally don’t notice an immediate difference. It may be a few weeks or months later that you realize that you’re feeling better. That is exactly how it is happening for me. I realized in the past couple of weeks that I’m breathing better. I still have quite a few moments during the day where I can’t take a deep breath, but they are far less frequent.
The thing that she said that really struck me was that if I don’t allow my body to heal (the pleurisy plus exhaustion) from this now, it will come back in another form in the future – presenting itself as an autoimmune disease or some other kind of illness. Since everything is tight and tense in my body, she recommended that I get massages and that I take a nap every day. I had my first massage with a massage therapist at the same wellness center where my osteopath is. The massage therapist recommended I come weekly for a while then every other week and eventually monthly. My osteopath was a bit surprised that the therapist recommended coming so frequently but she said the reason was because the therapist could feel how tight everything in my body is. I don’t really have the time to go weekly right now, but I am going to try to go monthly.
As for napping daily, that’s a hard one for me. Aside from the obvious that I have 2 young kids so I can’t just go lay in my bed every afternoon, I have always sucked at napping – I struggle to fall asleep then I feel groggy when I wake up. Ezra just takes one nap in the afternoon and Zain usually doesn’t nap anymore. He is good about quietly reading books though in the afternoon. She suggested that while the baby sleeps, I should lay down with Zain. If he doesn’t want to nap then he can just read books so I can rest. I tried it once this week, but then I had trouble sleeping that night because I napped so I don’t know if it’s the best idea for me. I think that I will be more mindful of when I am feeling very tired and rest on those days if I can.
Seeing a holistic health practitioner has been really eye-opening for me. I am not going to be a doctor, but as a nutritionist, I will work with clients on more than just what they are eating. One of the benefits of attending a school where they teach an integrative approach to nutrition is that I am learning how the mind and body are really one when it comes to our health and wellness. There are so many other factors that affect our health other than just what we eat, our physical symptoms, and what test results say.
This post may not be as exciting as reading about the Oscars’ winners, but hopefully it makes a few people happy
The winners of the 2013-2014 Winter 100 Challenge are….
The Nuun sample pack goes to Holly H.
The Energy Bits sample pack goes to Christine K.
The ProCompression socks go to Jamie M.
The pair of Skora Phase running shoes go to Sarah L.
The Honey Stringer sample pack goes to Julianne L.
Thank you to everyone who participated! Winners will be contacted by me today.
The Winter 100 Challenge ends on Friday (February 28) so hurry up send me your training log!
It has been so wonderful to have so many participants again this year. I love that some of you have done the challenge for the third year in a row!
A huge thank you to all of our sponsors! Be sure to check them out on Twitter and Facebook.
Winners will be announced on Monday so be sure to check back!
Grad school, kids and life have been keeping me quite busy lately, but I finally have an update.
Last April, after experiencing really extreme pain in my back wrapping around to my chest, I was diagnosed with pleurisy (inflammation in the lining of my lung). The pulmonary specialist I went to put me on a course of ibuprofen for 2 weeks. I felt mostly better when I was done with the medication, but I still had some discomfort. This was chalked up to just my body needing time to fully heal. When it still wasn’t better by November, my doctor sent me for another CT scan. The CT scan showed that the inflammation was gone…so why I am I still having the same discomfort on my right side? The next step was a course of steroids to clear up what may be remaining of the inflammation.
I didn’t want to have to take steroids and according to conventional medicine, the CT scan says I’m fine. BUT I’m not. After some intense googling, I started to wonder if there could have been an issue with my ribs that caused the pleurisy. When I was pregnant with Ezra, he spent a lot of time hanging out up in my ribcage on the right side. After reading about someone’s experience where their pleurisy was caused by a rib being out of place, I started to wonder if that could have been the case for me. I had never been sick before my pleurisy came on, but the doctors all said it was caused by a virus. Something didn’t add up. I’ve spent almost a year now not being able to take a deep breath because the air doesn’t flow into my lungs as it should. I needed to get to the root of the problem.
I stumbled upon osteopathic treatment during my googling about pleurisy and ribs. An osteopath is a physician who went to medical school and has also been trained in osteopathic medicine. An osteopath uses manual techniques to diagnose and treat conditions to help the body heal itself. Between the ER doctor, my first primary care doctor, the pulmonary specialist, and my second primary care doctor (I wasn’t happy with my treatment at the first so I switched), all anyone every did was look at my X-rays and CT scans and listen to my lungs. The osteopath felt my ribs on my back and could immediately tell that the soft tissue wasn’t moving the way it is supposed to. When I exhale while laying on my right side, I feel a slight pop which she determined to be that a rib probably was out of place and did not fully go back into correct alignment.
The osteopath’s conclusion is that the right side of my body is structurally really off balance. I was in a car accident in 2007 which left me with chronic neck and shoulder pain on my right side (I initially thought my pleurisy was just a flair up of this pain). She thinks the accident really threw things off in that side of my body and it was probably worsened during my pregnancies. The muscles in my shoulder were so tight, especially in my underarm, that she also mentioned that it could have effected the flow of lymphatic fluid possibly leading to the pleurisy. I’ll probably never know exactly what caused the pleurisy, but putting these pieces of the puzzle together along the way tells me it definitely wasn’t a virus. She also said that the muscle being so tight puts me at risk for tearing my rotator cuff. Picking up and holding kids, plus the position I hold the baby to nurse, just exacerbates all these problems.
At my first appointment with the osteopath, she instructed me to take a magnesium supplement (this one). More than half of people tend to be magnesium deficient because magnesium used to be naturally occurring in our water supply. Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body needs to keep bones strong, maintain normal blood flow, support a steady heart rhythm and a healthy immune system. Magnesium also acts as a natural muscle relaxant. Magnesium deficiency can lead to a host of health problems (read the short summary on Wikipedia).
I’ve had two treatments now by the osteopath and I can’t say I’m better yet, but I feel pretty confident that she can help me finally start to feel better by addressing the root cause of the problem. I’m tired of spending my day constantly trying to take a deep breath. It not only interferes with just feeling healthy and normal all day, but it has really impacted my running. It’s hard to have an enjoyable run when I feel like I can’t fully catch my breath because the air isn’t flowing into my lungs. I’ve also developed another frustrating problem which is that I have trouble yawning. It’s like losing a sneeze – I need to yawn, I start to yawn, but then I can’t get the deep breath of air into my lungs. This is because my body is starting to hyperventilate (not in the freaking out kind of way) – I’m taking in too much oxygen because I have to take a lot of shallow breaths so I can’t get a deep satisfying breath. The osteopath said the fix is to hold my breath for a few seconds then I can sometimes get my deep breath or actually yawn. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I’m crossing my fingers and toes that I’m on the path to feeling better through osteopathic treatment.
I intended to take a short blogging break over the holidays, but my break went on longer than planned after my grad classes started last week. I spent the first half of the week feeling completely overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to get done in just the first week. How was I going to get it all done? I knew it would be a lot of work, but I underestimated how little free time I have while taking care of these guys.
I managed to meet all my deadlines for the first week and am now chipping away at this week’s work. It’s a wee bit stressful, but I’m handling it alright. Now that I have a better grasp of my weekly assignments and requirements for each class, I hope I can avoid getting too overwhelmed and stressed out. I managed to get an A on my first chemistry homework so that was a good confidence boost :).
#PoweredbyBits while studying chemistry
I’ve been keeping up with P90X3 which I am still really loving. It feels good to break out of my usual routine of just running. Speaking of running, I’m only running short distances a couple days a week because I just don’t have the time for anything else with life and doing P90X3.
A lot has happened since I took my blogging break. The biggest of which is that my baby Ezra turned 1! I cannot figure out where the past year has gone. Sleep deprivation has turned the past year into a complete blur. I did a lot of reflecting on his crazy arrival a year ago. I also really appreciated and savored the holidays this year with the boys. Last Christmas was so hard with Ezra being in the NICU. I really soaked up the joy and excitement of Christmas with both my boys at home.
Christmas Day with the loves of my life
I hope everyone is enjoying the Winter 100 Challenge and still keeping up the cold weather running! I know I’m still not quite at my 100 mile goal. Good thing we have a month and a half to go! The link to submit your training log is up if you’ve already completed your 100 miles.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank Endurance Shield for sending me some of their awesome sunscreen to try out! It has a super light feel and a really pleasant light cucumber scent. I’ve been using it for the past month or so and I really like it. I don’t like the feel of thick sunscreens so this one is perfect. Check out the Endurance Shield website for more info. Remember than you need sunscreen in the wintertime too!
Two weeks ago, I started to come down with a cold thanks to the millions of germs my 3.5 year old likes to bring home from preschool. I thought that was the perfect time to try out some Recovery Bits – 100% chlorella algae. I’ve had such a great experience with Energy Bits that I’ve been wanting to see how well Recovery Bits work. Whenever I get a cold, it seems to hit me pretty hard and I’m sick for a solid week. I took the Recovery Bits (12 bits, 3 times a day) as soon as I felt like I was getting sick. I was amazed that my cold never got as bad as it normally would and it was out of my system within a few days.
Here are some of the benefits of Recovery Bits listed on their website:
- Preventing Colds
- Preventing Hangovers
- Speeding Recovery from Illness
- Building Immune System
- Detoxing Body and Blood
- Rebuilding RNA and DNA
- Rebuilding Blood Cells
- Improving Digestion
- Improving Elimination
I tested out one of their benefits a few weeks ago – preventing hangovers. I don’t get to enjoy adult beverages very often given that I have little ones. A few weeks ago at a friend’s wedding, there was a bit of champagne and an open bar and let’s just say that I drank enough that my rhythm greatly improved on the dance floor. I took 12 Recovery Bits before I went to bed along with a lot of water. The next morning, I took 12 more bits. I took them 2 more times during the day. I was not hungover at all. Recovery Bits = magic.
I still take Energy Bits before every run and they make a huge difference in my energy level. If I forget them, I can feel it. Ezra wakes up 3-4 times a night…and sometimes he even wakes up every hour (yawn). I count on Energy Bits to make me feel human even more than coffee. I also love them for all the vitamins and minerals they pack into a tiny package, especially B-12 since I am a vegetarian.
My wonderful friends at Energy Bits have been kind enough to offer a sample of either Energy Bits or Recovery Bits to one lucky winner. If you are already a bits believer, head on over to Energybits.com and enter code therunningmom to get 30% off your order!
Giveaway winner will be announced Friday, November 15, 2013.
Note: Energy Bits will provide one lucky winner with a free sample. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
This weekend I did something I haven’t done for months – I ran without my heart rate monitor. It was liberating and it was glorious not to hear my Garmin’s obnoxious chime that my heart rate was too high.
I had a realization this past week when I was getting increasingly frustrated with how slow I’m still going and how much I’m still walking on my runs. The baby still wakes up at night. Sometimes it’s just once, but a lot of nights, it is 2 or 3 times. On the especially bad nights, it is impossible to keep my heart rate down when I run the next day. Impossible. My run ends up being more like a walk with running breaks than a run with walking breaks.
I realized that as much as I really do believe in this form of training, I don’t think it’s going to work for me right now. Sure, it’s probably not the healthiest thing to push my body on my runs when I am so sleep deprived, but I don’t think I’m going to see enough improvement doing the Maffetone method at this point. It sucks to have put 3 months into this training and to not continue, but it what it is. I will try again when my kids let me get a little more sleep at night.
I never did post about how my pace changed doing the Maffetone method. Here’s the summary:
- Pre-Maffetone – I was running about 10-10:30 miles.
- Beginning Maffetone – During my first MAF test, my average pace (including walking breaks) was in the 13s. THIRTEEN. Three minutes slower per mile than what I was running before.
- Quitting Maffetone – My pace most recently while still doing the heart rate training was down to the 12s. That’s a decent improvement, but it’s still too slow for me to mentally accept right now.
The unfortunate thing is that now that I have ditched my HR strap on my runs, I’m not magically back to running the pace I was before I started heart rate training. I know, duh. My pace now is in the 11s, but in my defense, that pace has been while pushing one or both kids so I don’t know yet what my solo pace will look like. I’m sure it’s still going to be pretty darn slow.
The other piece of the puzzle is my pleurisy. I was still coming back to running after that health setback when I started the HR training so my body wasn’t in the best shape to begin with. I still don’t feel 100% recovered from that experience so I think that’s probably not helping either. I really do want to revisit this method in the future.
One good thing about my running is I think I finally found my perfect minimalist running shoe – the Skora Running Form (psst, they have some pretty awesome sales going on right now). I had a hard time finding a shoe that was zero drop and and had the right level of cushioning for me. Some shoes I tried were too cushy, others where too minimal. The Form feels just right for me.
In other news, I’ve been working on making more fun veggie snacks for Zain.
He has so much fun with these. He loves seeing what I make everyday. I really recommend trying this for your kids!