First Week of 2020 Recap

Hello, all. It’s a typical Chicago winter day–snow on the ground, chilly, and bleak. I just got back from grocery shopping and am about to work on my class portal for the spring semester, which starts tomorrow. This week, I’ve been thinking about some of my plans and goals for 2020, reflecting on my health journey, and trying to be consistent in some of the positive changes I’ve made lately.

Last time I wrote was last Friday. On Saturday, I went with my mom and brother to take our German Shepard, Brutus, to the vet. He is 120 lbs, which is crazy! After going to the vet, I came back home and decided to do a small workout in the living room. Since I started to feel sick a few months ago, my workouts haven’t been as intense, but I notice that even the smaller ones seem to make a difference. I did not use any weights, but I did a series of squats, lunges, deadlifts, donkey kicks, leg raises, and kicks, and I was pretty sore the next couple days. I’m easing back into everything.

My husband went out on Saturday night to visit his cousin. I wasn’t really feeling up to it, so I decided to order some food from a Eastern European bar nearby and take a solo trip to Target. Target has a way of cheering people up, so I figured, why not? I rarely get the apartment to myself, so I decided to light some candles, do some laundry, and have an exciting Saturday night in. I ordered the grilled salmon with a side of grilled veggies.

I randomly saw a picture of strawberry pretzel salad on Instagram and got inspired. I have been doing very well at avoiding gluten, processed sugar, and dairy, so I decided to improvise and see what we could come up with for some late-night baking. With some simple swaps (gluten-free pretzels, Swerve sugar, and vegan cream cheese and coconut oil), you can make something that tastes pretty close to the real deal!

Lately, I have been thinking about positive things I can do to help me along in the healing process. Honestly, I have started to feel a little better this week, which I am weirdly suspicious of! Some interesting things to note (which may or may not have anything to do with whatever is going on) is that I abruptly stopped taking birth control in October (when I felt the worst) and quit caffeine cold-turkey (when I’d been having around 200-400 mg per day for around 5 years). I am not sure if some of the healthy things I’ve been doing has helped or if my hormones/withdrawal phases are starting to return to more normal levels. Anyway, I have downloaded the Calm app and I am trying to do more meditation and relaxation with positive thoughts. My husband bought me a special light that casts a galaxy on the wall and it’s really nice to lie under.

I was just starting to drift off when he got home. He wanted me to hang out with him for a bit, so I did, even though it was nearly 4 a.m. and I was super-tired. Sunday was fairly uneventful. I took Oliver for a walk, did some laundry, and made a pretty delicious dinner of roasted chicken thighs, roasted red potatoes, and garlic green beans.

Monday was the first day back to work for a lot of people at the university, and I had a ton of meetings last week. I’ve been spending more time prepping my lunches to make sure I have healthy options. One of my favorites last week was spaghetti squash with broccoli, zucchini, and shrimp.

I took a lot of walks on my breaks last week because there were a few days where the weather was close to 50 degrees. I hit the gym on Monday and Friday, and on Wednesday, I did an at-home ab workout. Tuesday, I did yoga, as I always do. I made a variety of dinners last week, but Wednesday’s was really good. We had baked salmon, cauliflower, and roasted red potatoes.

Thursday, I ran to Target and the Vitamin Shoppe to pick up some birthday gifts for my brother, and when we got back, I made zucchini noodles with mushrooms, onion, and garlic and topped them with shrimp and broccoli.

I got a lot done at work this week. I am preparing for some of the stories and press releases I’ll be writing over the 2020 year, and I am also working on newsletters and web content. It feels so much better for me to be doing work that feels much more aligned with my degree and career goals. The small office I was working in before just wasn’t for me–it felt kind of like a prison a lot of the time. I feel much more productive and stimulated now, and I actually look forward to the work I do.

On Friday, after I went to the gym, I came home and made a weird dinner out of the few groceries we had left for the week–guacamole turkey roll-ups and redskin mashed potatoes. It was good, but an odd combination. Julian and I stayed up for a bit, but we ended up going to bed pretty early. We’re both usually tired at the end of the work week.

Since I started to feel sick, I cut out caffeine and alcohol. I am thinking that I may have the occasional glass of wine, but I am really determined to restore my health and I don’t want to have any setbacks or let anything get in my way. I used to have drinks a few times a week before this happened, and I realize now how unhealthy alcohol is for the body. I don’t think there is anything wrong with anyone wanting to have a drink, but the amount and frequency I was drinking before did not align with the “healthy” lifestyle I thought I was living. I am hoping that the changes I am making (and work I am doing with my doctor) will restore me to a place I feel well enough to indulge occasionally in the coming months.

Saturday, I slept in–this is actually a good sign to me! In the midst of feeling my worst, I would not get much sleep at all. I woke up early every weekend, which was very rare for me since I loved to sleep in. Because I always felt anxious and “off” I was so uncomfortable and physically distressed that I woke up early. It really was a pretty miserable time, and I am incredibly grateful that I am slowly starting to feel better. The thyroid really does make a significant impact on the body, and all of my worry and stress about it surely didn’t help.

I made a breakfast of coconut yogurt, blueberries, sliced bananas, and strawberries. After, I did a leg workout in the living room and then spent the day deep-cleaning. We finally took the tree down. It’s funny, because I guess some of our home decor would be considered Halloween decorations to some people! We decided to go for a drive a little later because it was snowing but not sticking. The woods and trees always look so pretty covered in snow.

After our beautiful winter drive, we decided to pick up some food from a local restaurant for dinner. I guess they forgot to update their online menu and did not have the item I wanted anymore, so I ordered a salad. It was pretty good. We hung out watching Netflix and reading before heading to bed. This time, we made it to midnight! Haha–I know that as people get older and have more responsibilities, they start to enjoy their time at home more. I think we were just full from dinner and feeling super-cozy while the snow fell outside.

Today, I slept in again, and I am happy about it because I missed actually enjoying sleep! I had a delicious smoothie for breakfast. It has sliced strawberries, dragon fruit, ginger, turmeric, collagen peptides, flaxseed, and chia seeds.

After breakfast, I went to Aldi to pick up some groceries for the week. I got broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, kale, mixed greens, butternut squash, grapes, peanut butter, kombucha, dessert hummus, avocados, sweet potatoes, carrots, and gluten-free bread.

I’ll probably work on school stuff for the afternoon and then I am going out to eat with my family for my brother’s birthday later. This week, I plan to make chicken and kale soup, zucchini noodles with turkey meatballs, salmon with sweet potatoes and broccoli, shrimp with cauliflower and butternut squash, and maybe some healthy baking.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s honestly kind of weird to be feeling a little better again. I guess that the symptoms I was experiencing were so uncomfortable, abnormal, and distressing that I felt like I was stuck in a dark hole. Through my research and from my therapist and doctors, I understand anxiety can make a lot of people feel like that, and both the thyroid and changes in hormones (from birth control) can cause anxiety. I am hoping that as I start to feel a little better, my body really is healing. I plan to continue going to therapy, doing yoga, trying to meditate, spending more time on positive affirmations, eating healthy, working out, taking walks, and finding time to things I enjoy, like cooking, reading, and writing. Wishing you all a great week!

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