Weekend Recap (Father’s Day Weekend)

Hope everyone had such a great weekend!

Friday was [supposed to be] infusion day. Even though I’m in remission, my body needs time to wean off of the infusions. My doctor said this could take time…years even. But, hey, why not give it a go right now? My infusion center FORGOT TO FILE MY NEW INSURANCE back in April… which means an entire approval process of getting the insurance on board with my diagnosis and this multi-thousand-dollar specialty medication, and this could take “up to two weeks” according to my new infusion center. Healthcare in this country is the antithesis of efficient. SO INFURIATING. ughhhh

But on the bright side, I got to hang out with these guys this weekend:

IMG_3415-1-2

Zack has been working long, hard hours with a crazy schedule, and it was so great just to hang out this weekend. Jaxon clearly missed their quality movie-watching time.

IMG_3434-2

^This went on all weekend with these two- they’re the sweetest.

IMG_3390-2
And guess who got a bath this weekend?? Hint: Jaxon. I mean, technically I did, too. But not the point.

Oh, and one of my best friends/college roommates came into town!

FullSizeRender

We hung out at Bleu Garten in OKC on Friday night. Highly recommend if you haven’t been there! Food trucks, drinks, and all outside. We shut the place down 🙂

Saturday morning was breakfast at Syrup. My chai tea was SO cinnamon-y and delicious. Not too sweet- just how I like it.

IMG_3440-2
IMG_3441-2

Saturday afternoon I got my hair cut (for the first time in over a year, oops). Then we hung out with some friends and smoked some chicken and sweet potatoes. First experience with smoked sweet potatoes, and it didn’t disappoint!

Just overall a great weekend, the kind that go by too quickly and before you know it, they’ve passed. It was also Father’s Day weekend, so here’s a throwback with me with my Day 1:

View More: http://rebeccataylorphotography.pass.us/collins-wedding

He taught me how to swing a bat, change a tire, and passed down constant misuse of clichés.
“There’s always more fish in the pond.”

View More: http://rebeccataylorphotography.pass.us/collins-wedding

And maybe his dance moves.

View More: http://rebeccataylorphotography.pass.us/collins-wedding

But most of all he taught me how to be generous and selfless and kind. I love this guy, and I’m proud to be his kid fo lyfe.

 

Advertisements

My Mythical Thigh Gap

Confession: I have body image issues.

Not mega-deep, emo body issues, and not to degrade or demean anyone who has had serious, life-altering, core-rattling body image issues that has wrecked mental havoc in your life and unwelcomely seeped its way your health. That is TOUGH, and you should feel like some version of a superhero for overcoming that. Pat yourself on the back for wherever you are on your journey of recovery. I’m offering you a virtual hug here, no matter how lame or patronizing “pat yourself on the back” sounds. Really and truly. I’m with you.

I, too, am critical of my body- the one that helps me run, fights disease, carries me to work, climbs up and down stairs, logs thousands of steps daily, hike and explore outside, and lets me live a dang good life full of strength. That body- I’m unkind, harsh, and judgemental about how she looks on the outside more often than I’d care to admit…even though I know she’s a strong and capable one. I discredit her, and sometimes I call her critical names.

I frequently refer to myself as “fluffy”, but recently I started reading books that talk about how we create our own realities by believing what we say. Our actions follow, and eventually we reinforce our own blessings or curses by what we repeat from our mouths. I’m learning to be kinder to myself.
(Reference: “You Are a Badass” or James 3:10-13…similar messages)

Sometimes I catch myself standing awkwardly in photos in a lame attempt to create a thigh gap that doesn’t exist. See?

IMG_3164
I am not even a little bit pigeon-toed naturally, but I’m trying to pose like my thighs aren’t touching. But I fail, because they are.

IMG_3210
Sometimes I even run long distances, and you know what? Those thighs still touch, AND I STILL TRY TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THEY’RE NOT.

So I call this my “Mythical Thigh Gap”. It’s about as real as any other mythical creature…like a unicorn…although I know there’s a strange following recently that believes in unicorn magic, so if you happen upon a unicorn, please holla if you find my thigh gap.

I did have a thigh gap…once. I was THIRTY pounds under-weight from health complications associated with a recent “moderate to severe ulcerative colitis diagnosis” and I remember crying as I stared back at my reflection in the mirror. I always maintained a love/hate relationship with my booty, but it was completely gone. Flat. And then I realized that I liked my booty all along- what a shame. My legs looked like “chicken legs” and my boobs had shrunk down to a size A Minus, if there is such a size. I didn’t feel like myself, and I didn’t feel feminine. I felt like a small, frail, skinny shell of the person I used to be. I felt unrecognizable.

Slowly but surely, I met myself again and began to recognize her. I learned to place my self-worth in what my body could do as opposed to how it looked. Besides, our bodies are ever-changing anyway. I learned to be proud of my resilience, my intelligence, my stubborn gladness to stay the course, whatever I was doing despite discouragement from haters. Despite rough circumstances, I was given a new chance to love myself from the inside. I became more mindful of the world around me, and I felt a little more child-like and less self-critical. The whole world was brand new in this foreign but pleasant way of viewing myself, the universe, its inhabitants around me, and the people I love.

I found this picture recently, and it reminded me of that new perspective, and most of all, what it was like to be a child: playing in the sprinkler on a hot summer day, not purposely standing pigeon toed, unaware of the false importance of a thigh gap that wasn’t, and completely loving life with the people I love…

FullSizeRender

…and owning that one piece, high-pony tail, and lack of a thigh gap. No room for waiting until things disappeared to appreciate them; fully and completely appreciating life in the present.

So that’s my advice to you, dear friends. Love your life today. Love your thigh gap if you have one. Love your lack of a thigh gap if you don’t. Love your strength and your intelligence. Love your life, because it’s too short and fleeting to feel any other way. Most of all- Love yourself.

-Stacey

Sister Trip 2017 Recap

Hope you had a lovely weekend 🙂

In an attempt to not completely procrastinate, this blog post is a Sister Trip recap from last weekend: Northern Virginia Wine Country and Washington, D.C.

IMG_3252
Every year since 2015 we take a “Sister Trip”, just the two of us (woo-hoo three trips and counting!). In 2015 we went to Napa Valley, California while I ran the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half. Then last year we went to Charleston, South Carolina- our favorite trip to date, Lindsay’s choice. And last week we took this year’s trip, also situated around another Destination Race: Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon (my choice again-see a theme?). It’s a fun excuse to get together in a fun place since we don’t live near each other any more, and it’s always a good time.

We began our United Flight, Basic Economy level with ONE single personal item (not even a carry-on) due to our limited space of conveniently being assigned the last seats on the plan, so we fit EVERYTHING into a backpack each. We miraculously made it back home with our souvenirs, too.  I honestly have never packed so light in my life…and I’m a little embarrassed by that.

IMG_3146

We picked up our car in the passenger pick-up line that we rented from Turo- it’s an app that allows you to rent cars owned by locals at their own discretion. Such a fun, easy experience! And it was slightly cheaper than renting a car. Then we drove to downtown D.C. and ate crab cakes and fruit at Old Ebbitt Grill at the bar- so good!

IMG_3187-1-2

With satisfied appetites and happy hearts we walked to the White House and, to our surprise, we were able to get right up close to the lawn without security barricades. The crowds weren’t bad either!

IMG_3178

Next was the beautiful Jefferson Memorial. I excitedly called Zack to tell him how thrilled I was to see one of my favorite historical quotes engraved in one of the giant walls, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…” He was quick to remind me about Jefferson’s owning slaves/having an affair with slave Sally Hemings, which basically served as a grave reminder not to romanticize people…which is hard not to do when you’re standing inside a giant monument erected in their honor. But I digress.

IMG_3183

Next was patriotic popsicles, because we are children. Then we drove off to the race expo in Leesburg to pick up my bib number and race shirt.

Finally, we made it to our AirBnB which was more enchanted than I could’ve dreamed up. Meet our greeters, Brandy and Whiskey:

IMG_3232

And our cozy cabin

IMG_3238

Complete with entertainment

IMG_3236

As an IBD patient, I appreciated this ^.

We ended the night early after carbo-loading at a local Italian restaurant. The next morning was an early one for race day, but I wasn’t tired after sleeping nine hours.

IMG_3190

^Morning view near the starting line at Doukenie Winery. Lindsay dropped me off near here. I loved the views!

FullSizeRender-11

The race was overcast and in the upper-seventies, perfect weather!

IMG_3224

fullsizeoutput_f57
Girl YAS- LOOK at that ponytail action! :p

IMG_3215-3

Best part of the day.

IMG_3227

Sleeping at the pool was actually the best part of the day, if I’m being honest.

IMG_3229

Followed by dinner at Finn Thai and [another] early bedtime.

IMG_3247

The next day we went into D.C. for some quality American tourism…

IMG_3257

…and paid our respects to Texas veterans at the WWII memorial…

IMG_3258

…and visited Honest Abe (worth the walk and climbing the steps and the heat).

IMG_3263

We chewed on lemon Italian Ice as we sat in the grass of the National Lawn listening to peaceful protesters, then headed to find lunch.

IMG_3264

^ Hamilton’s! I LOVED this place. My turkey burger was amazing, and so were Lindsay’s California rolls and shrimp tempura.

IMG_3266

Next we went to the Holocaust Museum, a place I’ve wanted to visit since reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel in junior high school. This place shook me to my core, and I was struck by how subtle, gradual-changing political agendas gave rise to hatred. The world allowed this hatred to perpetuate by its lack of opposition and ever-increasing fear of peoples’ differences in the place of tolerance and compassion. It was so gradual and so real. I will never be the same after this museum. Never stop speaking up for groups around you who are persecuted. Support others, because they need you to be resilient.

We ended the day on a light-hearted note at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which was really TOO COOL. HOW can they fit so many planes INDOORS?

IMG_3268

That night at our AirBnB we drank local wines and ate snacks on our hosts’ patio of their house until the wee hours of the morning- I felt like we were old friends, and I loved their company.

IMG_3234

And that about wraps up our journey. We had a turbulent flight back to Texas where we promptly stuffed our faces with Mexican food and guac upon our arrival.

IMG_3339

Then Jaxon and I headed back to Oklahoma for another work week- he’s a great little traveler. Honestly, such a FUN weekend, and we can’t wait to return to Norther Virginia- we couldn’t get over how GREEN all the scenery was this time of year- something you don’t see TOO much of in Texas. We are so thankful to have experienced Virginia’s Wine Country AND D.C. What a cool little time. Where should we go next year? Any suggestions? 🙂

Hope your Monday is better than most!

-Stacey

Race Recap: Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon

Happy Global Running Day! I was a little sad there wasn’t a SnapChat filter to celebrate this fun day, but that’s okay.

In honor of Global Running Day, I’m hittin’ you with a little race recap from this past weekend. Lindsay and I go on a “Sister Trip” every year, and this year’s was Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., conveniently planned around the Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon (my idea)- But more on Sister Trip next post.

IMG_3187-1

This past Saturday I woke up at 5:30, and I made conscious effort not to think about losing an hour of sleep by waking up in East Coast time. On a very positive note, I had zero symptoms before this race (remission is still bliss). The sun also rose with me, and by the time we were ready to leave the house at 6am the sky was colorful and bright.

FullSizeRender-12

Lindsay dropped me off near the start at Doukenie Winery and headed back home to sleep (really, y’all. The girl loves her sleep and has no shame). I felt weird being alone in the corral to start without knowing anyone, and most of the runners seemed to be locals. I missed running with my Team Challenge people, but I listened to my music and stretched and all was right in the world. The weather was just barely under 60 degrees at the start- just the way I like it. The race kicked off a few minutes after seven (maybe around 7:10?).

20x30-VIRC1910

FullSizeRender-8
Around mile six I thought of a new strategy, “I think I’ll only run downhill.” We don’t  have hills like Virginia Wine Country where I live…and if I’m being 100% honest…I did zero long runs before this race. Honestly the one of the dumber decisions I’ve made, and I’m lucky I didn’t walk away injured. I know better. Kids, don’t try this at home. 

IMG_3194

The course was beautiful, but miles 6-10ish were all gravel/dirt and rolling hills through a heavily shaded area, which was a challenge for running. I loved the scenery and tried to focus on being present, feeling pain where it hurt, listening to the sound of my feet swinging beneath me, enjoying the view, breathing in the cool wind, being happy, and loving this time walking/running/trotting through Virginia.

FullSizeRender-10

Even though running by myself sounds like a bummer, I appreciated the solitude.  I was exploring new places all by myself, and it was a fun experience.

FullSizeRender-11

There were many horse stables along the route, and I wished I would’ve gotten a picture! “Horse and wine country” didn’t disappoint!

FullSizeRender-6

At one point I rounded a corner and saw this little church. I couldn’t get over how enchanted it looked!

I actually purchased the race photos from this race, for obvious reasons. I’m a morning person, clearly.

20x30-VIRC3946

This race had more water stations than any other race I’ve finished. I’m not actually sure if that’s true, but it definitely felt like it. I didn’t run out of my fuel belt gatorade/water mixture until just after mile 12, which is a new record for me.

FullSizeRender-7

At mile 12 I heard someone cheering my name- turns out it was Hope, a fellow Crohnie on the run and instafriend who I never got to officially “meet” but it was so encouraging to know someone was rooting for me to finish! I WAS STRUGGLIN’ (hi I think I’ll train properly for the next one).

Lindsay was at the finish line, texting me warnings about one final hill that separated me from the finish. I carried my empty water bottles like maracas, just waiting for that finish line fiesta.

20x30-VIRB2085

When I saw Lindsay I yelled, “Help!” and she ran through the finish with me for the last few strides up and over the hill…because that’s what sisters are for :). What a fun moment!

And then, just like that, it was over and time to celebrate!

IMG_3210

Destination Races always have the COOLEST medals! My medal from Napa is a wine cork opener, and this one had a spot to hold your wine glass- purposeful and humorous, my favorite combination.

IMG_3207-1

Then we went to the Wine and Music Festival on the grounds of Doukenie Winery. The lines for wine tasting were quite long, and I had already made the grave mistake of purchasing a breakfast burrito in a New England state (no offense intended, but that was not a burrito with jalapeño chorizo, I assure you). So we bought a bottle of wine from a local winery to drink by the pond.

IMG_3215-2

Bliss .

IMG_3219

My goal of this race was to enjoy it and to finish- and that I did. I didn’t run my nike app, and I didn’t wear a garmin to record my time. I simply trotted along in a new place in a sea of unfamiliar places, and it was truly such fun.

Race days are some of my favorite days, all thanks to memories like these. Races only last a couple of hours, but the memories are enough to satisfy you for a lifetime. There’s something invigorating and addicting knowing that you just tested some physical parameters and succeeded, and if you get to explore new places along the way, all the sweat and sore muscles are well worth the race.

And it’s always fun to defy medial diagnoses and run for cures and awareness while feeling a hight off contagious race day energy. I have experienced nothing more empowering.

Happy running 🙂 wherever you are.

R E M I S S I O N

Monday was the best day I’ve had in a long time.

“Are we allowed to use the ‘R-word’? Are you saying I’m in remission?”
“Yes. You can say that you’re in remission! Be proud of our hard work.” <- my doc.

IMG_2965-2

After nearly five years since my diagnosis with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, my medical chart has added a new word to its history: REMISSION

img_2961-2.jpg
A brief recap:
Late September 2012: began noticing symptoms (x rated version: bloody stools 30x daily and through the night, fatigue, sudden weight loss, nausea)
October 2012: Diagnosis “Moderate to Severe Ulcerative Colitis”; began Remicade IV treatments immediately
April 2013: hospitalization (“holistic approach” without meds didn’t work- oops)
May 2014: Mega-flare
June 2014: diagnosis changed to “Crohn’s disease” after 2nd colonoscopy
July 2015: Ran first half-marathon while fundraising for cures to Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America; still not in remission
August 2016: Concerns that Remicade infusions are losing efficacy; increase frequency of infusions
December 2016: New medical center, new doctor, new state, new meds
February 2017: Diagnosis is confirmed to original dx after 3rd (or 4th?) colonoscopy and biopsies, “Moderate to Severe Ulcerative Colitis”
May 2017: Reached clinical REMISSION

…what does that mean?

My labs are normal, showing no signs of active disease, meaning that my inflammatory markers are all within normal range. Also my micronutrients are all within normal ranges. I have zero symptoms in a day. ZERO. And then I wake up the next day after sleeping completely through, and I have zero symptoms again, and it keeps happening.

There’s no guarantee how long remission will last, since there’s no medical cure for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. My doctor is enthusiastic to work with me though, and he thinks there’s hope in the future for me to eventually live life without my IV infusion with a 50% chance of relapse. I actually like those odds, and I’ve NEVER heard a doctor reference my life without infusions, so this made me cry happy tears…and I’m not a happy tears kinda girl. However, weaning my body off of the infusion will take months, potentially even years because it’s a slow balancing act: increase the time between infusions, check blood, remain on oral medications, check symptoms, lower dosage of oral meds, check blood, etc.

IMG_2736-3

The goal now is to stay in remission and eventually get into “deep remission”. To me it sounds like I’m currently in remission with training wheels, but I gotta ride like a pro before I can be set free. More patience and hard work, and I am completely up for it!

In order to appreciate a milestone of this magnitude, I’m gonna be nostalgic for a hot second. Lessons I’ve learned from Crohn’s/ulcerative colitis/whatever the heck my diagnosis was when I learned these lessons:

1. Vulnerability is your friend. Vulnerability leads to empathy. Be vulnerable, because it creates a genuine connection with people that you can learn from, be encouraged by, or befriend. You can still keep your dignity and humility AND manage to be vulnerable too- don’t worry :).
I can connect with people on really weird, strange, close levels now because of my new-found empathy powers…and sometimes that freaks me out. But it’s cool, too.

2. Disease is a lens to view the world. NO WAY could I see the world in the way that I am able to see it now had I never been diagnosed. I’m able to feel the importance of time. Time is vital. Time is not on our side, but we can make the most of it…because it’s a gift. Truly. Sound cliche? I don’t care.

3. Humor is your greatest weapon. Whether I’m shitting my pants in traffic, dealing with a bad report, debilitated by fatigue, or having the greatest day of my life…humor. Always, always a good reason to laugh, usually at my own expense, and that makes my day. It’ll make yours too, if you let it.

4. Strength isn’t something that comes by osmosis. Life is tough- no, really. Life. Is. Tough. But one day you’ll look back thinking, “How did I survive that? How did I make it through?” You got stronger. While you were driving that struggle bus, you were gaining character, muscles, emotional fortitude, and badassery. You couldn’t feel it, but you were resilient. And now your resilience has made you strong. Way to take those trials like a champ! Find joy in trials, because you’re gonna find strength.

5. Kindness. Be slower to judge. You don’t know what people are enduring. We’ve all been through some small version of hell at some point, and some people handle that with more grace than others. Be kind to yourself, also. Rest, breathe, relax, sleep in if you need to, but don’t beat yourself up. You’re a work in progress, and you deserve a little kindness; we all do.

Oh- and celebrate every little accomplishment along your way. The best is yet to come!

IMG_2946-2
^ How I celebrate/deal/rationalize/breathe

Thank you all for celebrating this milestone with me!!!

-Stacey

 

The Healthiest Month Yet

Hi, Friends! It’s been a hot second.

After I completed the Low-FODMAPs elimination diet (doctor recommended for heavy symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis), I thought I would have an epiphany list of foods that were contributing to my symptoms.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, not much bothered me at all once I reintroduced the restricted foods back into my diet. Not garlic, not onions (maybe some kinds of tea?), not bread (I know, I know. You’re going to tell me to go gluten free and give me a schpiel about leaky gut. I can’t for the life of me notice a difference with or without bread, but I don’t eat it often just because it doesn’t excite me), and not even some kinds of cheese bothered me.

Before Low FODMAP I stuck to a [mostly] dairy free diet (with the exception of Greek yogurt, because it is fermented, so the lactose doesn’t cause unpleasant reactions for most people), and of course, I ate pizza every infusion day.

img_1115
Because it’s important (to me) to find ways to make infusion days suck less.

6d5.pizza

And pizza elicits a genuinely positive, happy response from my body from the depths of my soul, which is the perfect cure from feeling like an actual sick person hooked up to an i.v. pole at the hospital for the better part of the day, when I should be mid-twenties and feelin’ fabulous. Amiright?

So you get the idea. Mostly cheese-free/milk-free diet (except every 8 weeks for infusion pizza days). I also didn’t eat processed meats, or beef, or fried foods. It’s great not having many symptoms after Low-FODMAPs. IT WORKED WONDERS for my symptoms, but I couldn’t seem to identify which foods didn’t work…which was kinda the whole point.

So I started eating mostly everything. Bagels in the morning. And drinking beer slightly more frequently. And working out less. And eating a cookie a day. And then maybe a handful of hot tamales candy, because why not? They didn’t hurt me! But then it happened.

I began, slowly but ever so surely, allowing food to control me, instead of using my “no” power button (Note: this WILL happen if you allow too much sugar in your diet- it is addictive…but ultimately it’s up to YOU). If I bought Justin’s peanut butter cups, I couldn’t keep them in the house, even if I froze them. I had to eat them. “I’ll start returning back to my normal, healthy eating habits tomorrow, so I better eat all the chocolate today.” And that accidentally became my daily mantra. “Tomorrow.”

“I’m going to eat CHEESE and enjoy today- but tomorrow I’ll go back to my good habits.”

Until suddenly my habits weren’t my habits anymore. Eating a cookie a day became a fix. Feeling energy-depleted and a good amount of self-remorse…I knew I had no make a change.

Which brings me to today. Now, today. As in I woke up before work and ran some miles, today. No more tomorrow.

cropped-fullsizerender-2.jpg
Today begins the Healthiest Month Yet.

And just what does that look like?

A bit of Spring cleaning on the inside. Simple. Eating foods that are fibrous and nutrient-dense and thought-out meals instead of “what’s at the cafeteria at work today?” because for me, that ends in disaster lately. And I deserve a colorful, planned meal that gives me a reason to get excited at lunch time. My main focus for the Healthiest Month Yet is non-scale victories. I don’t own a scale. I want to completely focus on how I feel. What are my runs looking like? How’s my energy fluctuating throughout the day? I shouldn’t need to rely on an afternoon coffee to carry me through until 5pm. Fueling well. That’s the name of this game (and if I happen to lose some fluff from my love-handles, I’ll take it).

But I don’t want to stress myself out with rules. I LOVE Whole30, and I reaped tangible benefits from cutting out high-FODMAP foods from my diet for six entire weeks. But I just need to apply all my food knowledge into my own daily life, no restrictions attached. Just eating good, fueling well, and moving lots; having energy and using it for good.

Because this month is the Healthiest Month Yet, starting NOW.
(Er, started on my 6am run this morning).

What are you doing for the month of May??? Sticking to an old routine? Trying something new?


P.S. If “Healthiest Month Yet” is TOO ambiguous for you, check back periodically where I will post some meals that I eat, workouts, and updates.

-Stacey

Workout Wednesday + Antioxidant Smoothie

Hi, Friends!

Hope you’re all having a great Wednesday.

I’m starting a Wednesday series called “Workout Wednesday” where I will share a workout. These always seem to help me stay focused when I need to reference some workout inspiration in a pinch, so hopefully they’ll give you some support, too!

Last night’s workout took no time at all but left me feeling accomplished, and here it is:

SunsetWork

I loathe burpees, and today I’m having trouble walking…that’s about all I have to say about yesterday’s workout :). Really good for the legs and REALLY gets the heart rate up.

Antioxidant Smoothie Stuff

IMG_2420-2

Here’s a great recovery smoothie recipe!

-1/2 C almond milk
-1/2 C yogurt of your choice
-1 tbsp coconut oil
-1/4 C rolled oats
-1 scoop protein of your choice (choose one with glutamine! It’ll  help with muscle recovery. Here’s one of my favorites by Vega).
-handfull of spinach
-3/4 C frozen blueberries
B L E N D & serve

IMG_2421-2

Enjoy 🙂

We may have our first bout of “severe storms” this week in Oklahoma. How to deal?! Tornados are a thing I have no experience with. Fingers crossed!!! Words of advice welcomed…

-Stacey