My Week: Grading, Running Around, and Outdoor Adventures

Today was 50 degrees outside, which is almost unheard of during Chicago winter. I had a full day of being outside with my dog and now I am home blogging before I make some spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, and healthier meatballs. Last time I blogged, it was Tuesday evening, so this is a bit of a shorter recap, but I am trying to get back to blogging more because I truly enjoy it.

I had a doctor appointment last week, and we found out that my thyroid levels come in at 0.02 when normal levels start at 3.5. It’s a little disheartening and scary for me to see, but it provides a little insight into why I’ve been feeling so bad. I’m continuing testing on that, and I hope we can figure out management and treatment so I can start to feel better.

Like I mentioned last time, I’ve been on a huge soup kick lately. I will usually use chicken or keep it vegetarian, but I almost always use bone broth (vegetable broth for vegan/vegetarian versions) with onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and kale. For this soup, I added butternut squash and zucchini.

Wednesday, I had a pretty busy day at work, and I needed to finish grading. It was definitely a relief to hit “submit” after entering all the grades. It was a tough semester, but I made it through.

Later that day, I made some sweet potatoes, broccoli, and salmon. Julian caught me in a moment where the kitchen was completely disheveled! Things tend to be all over the place when I cook, but I’m a stickler for cleaning it up afterward. I did a very small workout in my room (5-lb weight arm exercises and some pilates-style leg moves) and went to bed. I have been using some CBD oil to try to get better sleep/less anxiety. It’s not a miracle cure, but I know that it’s good for inflammation and the body, so I use it regardless.

Thursday, I had an early meeting on campus and then my department had a potluck and Christmas party at noon. I made my chocolate chip banana bars. They are so easy to make and are vegetarian (can be vegan with a flax egg) and dairy-free with no added sugar. All I do is mix ripe bananas, almond milk, coconut oil, one egg, dairy-free chocolate chips. Stevia, almond flour, vanilla, and cinnamon. They were a hit. We also did a sock/mug exchange. The mug I got says “my coworkers are freaks”–hilarious! Later that day, we headed to Julian’s parents’ house to have pizza as a sendoff for his dad, who’s going to Mexico. I did not eat the pizza as I am trying not to have dairy, but I ate an orange–ha ha. I had to run to Target and Kohl’s to finish up my Christmas shopping, and when I got home, I made a quick wrap on a gluten-free spinach tortilla. It had turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes, mixed greens, and avocado. I picked up some tea from Target.

Friday, I had another long day at work, or maybe it just felt long because everyone is getting ready for the holidays and a lot of people are taking off. Plus, since the students are on break, the campus is quieter. I bet tomorrow is going to be really long! But I am working on plans for news stories, press releases, and web content for next year. After work, I hit the gym. I have been doing much lighter workouts than I used to (trying not to stress the body), but I did 10 minutes on the bike, 10 minutes on the treadmill at an incline, and 10 minutes on the elliptical. I did a series of squats, lunges, and kicks, and then I ended with some yoga-style stretching. When I got home, Julian and I picked up some food from TGIF. I got the grilled salmon, lemon butter broccoli, and mashed potatoes. It was actually really good.

Saturday, I had an early doctor appointment. We are going to do some bloodwork to test my cortisol and vitamin levels. I am just trying to cover all bases to determine whether me feeling so bad lately is just my thyroid and stress or anything more. Before I left, I made a breakfast of dairy-free coconut yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, raspberries, and walnuts.

After, I went back to the gym and did some more cardio and then finished by walking the track for half a mile and stretching. When I got home, I went for a walk with Julian since it was sunny out and made a lunch of green beans, broccoli, and a veggie burger. I spent most of the afternoon cleaning. I love weekends where my house is clean and bright and I have a good candle going. I also made some delicious healthier peanut butter cups!

Honestly, these are better than Reese’s to me. I know that sounds crazy (believe me, I was the biggest Reese’s fan), but they really are! All I did was combine no sugar-added peanut butter with honey, cinnamon, almond flour, almond milk, and coconut flour. I froze them for 20 minutes and then melted some dairy-free chocolate chips and coconut oil and dipped them in. I think I will be making these for an ugly sweater party I have this week, but I’ll add some red and green gel to make them festive.

I was actually feeling pretty decent yesterday, so I wanted to take advantage of it. Julian and I decided to go out to dinner to a restaurant he’s been wanting to try, the Irish Legend.

It ended up going pretty well and almost felt like old times, which was really exciting for me. I ordered the Irish salmon, which was a seared fillet of salmon with zucchini, squash, red peppers, and baby potatoes. We went for an evening drive through the woods after. I was so tired when we got home and actually slept pretty well for once.

Since I knew today was going to be so nice out, I took advantage of it by getting up early. These days, I can’t seem to sleep in as much as I used to, so I usually just get up and try to get moving. I ate some of my homemade peanut butter cups for breakfast (hey, there’s protein and healthy fats in there) and folded some laundry. Then, I headed to Aldi to grab all the ingredients for the things I am making for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

We spend Christmas Eve with Julian’s family, and there is always lots of games and food and excitement. I will be making a salad out of cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, red onion, avocado, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice. On Christmas Day, we’ll go to my family’s house, and I’ll be making broccoli salad and an Andes mint chocolate pie. That one won’t necessarily be “healthier,” but since I’ve been eating super-clean for months now, I may indulge in a slice.

After unpacking the groceries, I made a quick breakfast. Oliver was super-excited to be going to the woods again, and he looked adorable laying by the tree. I still find the tree and lights so therapeutic, so I really enjoy looking at it.

We walked through trails in the woods for about three hours. It was pretty mild for the most part, but some of the woods felt cold with all the trees, and there were definitely some muddy trails. Someone had a fire going in the distance and it smelled so crisp and clean–that’s my favorite scent. My boy had such a good time and was exhausted near the end.

When we got back, I made another gluten-free spinach wrap with grilled chicken, mixed greens, avocado, and tomatoes with a side of green beans. I read for a bit and then decided to blog, and I will start cooking dinner soon.

I am hoping to continue to feel decent the next few days so I can enjoy the Christmas festivities. As someone who rarely ever even got a cold, it’s been very weird and hard for me to feel so ill all the time. The saying, “if you have your health, you have everything” really rings true. I hope you all have wonderful Christmas celebrations.

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