August 15, 2014

My first float tank experience

Wow.

I have a list of what I have found to be spiritual experiences for me – where nothing else matters except for that moment, where nothing else seems to exist.

  • Freefall (skydiving)
  • Yoga
  • “Flying” across fresh powder on a snowboard
  • BASE jumping (although I quit, for now)
  • Sweeping mountain views with a gust of wind
  • Moments with the person you love

I can now add floating to that list after visiting Float Seattle yesterday! Float tanks are also known as isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks. You float in a tub of suuuuper salty water at skin temperature in complete darkness and silence.

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It only took me a few minutes to completely relax into my hour long session. I lost all track of time and space. It was as if my body had disappeared and there was just infinite nothingness, in a good way. I was only aware of my heart beating and my breathing if I focused on them. Otherwise I was just left with my innermost thoughts. With no external stimulation, the only thoughts I had were from deep within. At various points during the session, I had no thoughts at all! It was a profoundly relaxing and meditative experience.

I was very surprised that 99% of the thoughts passing through my mind were overwhelmingly positive. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety so much the past few years, this was extremely comforting and healing. I felt as though I had no more demons to fight even when I am completely alone with nothing but my thoughts. Thoughts of gratitude, hope, happiness, peace, and self-love continued to flow out as I floated – thoughts that seemed impossible for me to access even just a few months ago.

I left the tank feeling renewed and blissful. It will definitely become a regular part of my life.

In the float tank I had felt like I freed my mind from my body. About 10 hours later, I went to Bikram yoga to free my body from my mind. Being hyper aware of every part of my body with no other thoughts, I enjoyed how the “opposite” of my floating experience still led me to the same inner peace.

 

 

It has only been a week since my last migraine ended and I have been 100% free of pain and discomfort. But what a week! I finally bought new skating boots after 8 years to officially make it a part of my life again. I wake up early feeling excited and eager to move! I hate road running, yet I ran/walked 5k comfortably without pushing myself and still finished in 32 minutes. Not the ~20 minutes I used to be able to do, but definitely not a bad start!

In addition to the complete 180 improvement in how I feel physically and emotionally, there are visible changes to how I look. My skin is clear, soft, and glowing again. My body is firming up at a MUCH faster rate than I expected. My abs are making a comeback after 2+ years (see before and after pics)! It’s wonderful to see the outside reflect the changes on the inside.

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I know this is supposed to primarily be a food blog and I haven’t been posting much food. In addition to all these activities, I have also been working a lot so I don’t have much time to cook. I’ve also been making my meals and snacks super simple on purpose to reset my tastebuds. I’ve already stopped having cravings for non-paleo foods.

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Super greens, roasted chicken (olive oil, salt, pepper), and half an avocado. Blueberries for dessert.

Now I am off for a weekend of skydiving! Happy, happy, joy, joy!

 

August 12, 2014

Choosing health and happiness

Due to a recent breakup, I find myself faced with brief moments of sadness once or twice a day. I’ve noticed that it happens especially before I go to sleep and after I wake. Lucky for me, evenings and mornings are my most productive times of the day! Actually, it’s not even true sadness. It’s more of a bittersweet reminder that I have been given the opportunity to work on myself, by myself, for myself. Rather than succumbing to sadness and heartbreak, I make myself go do something that makes me happy. I absolutely know that I have a choice on how I deal with my emotions and that is amazing! I can choose happiness AND truly feel happy.

When I was dealing with depression and anxiety, there was no choice. No matter how much I wanted to be happy, it simply wasn’t an option for me. The darkness can be so overwhelming and so pervasive that there is no way to find that light switch for yourself. I suppose that’s why it becomes easy to cling to those rare, special people who somehow manage to shine their light into your darkness.

I am so grateful to have the ability to choose again. I guess that’s why I haven’t wasted my time dwelling on the past and the things I cannot change. I can only change myself and that is exactly what I have been doing, one day at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I also believe it’s healthy to let yourself feel sadness. I am just choosing to limit it to my time driving to whatever activity I planned for myself. The drive back is usually just full of exercise-induced euphoria …and singing! I also think that having experienced the lowest lows has made me a more compassionate, more loving, and ultimately more joyful person.

Each day I become a little stronger, a lot happier, and that much closer to the best version of myself. My friends are starting to notice and it means the world to me that they never forgot who I am, even if I did for a while. They tell me how I seem like the person they met – how visibly happy I am again and how my positive energy is infectious. It’s nice to have the love, support, and affirmation from others: “I am so happy for you!” “I love you!” and “I’m so proud of you!”

I am re-learning how to be happy for myself, to love myself, and to be proud of myself. I’ve been learning to celebrate every small victory and every forward step towards optimum health and happiness. Mondays are my days off and I went on my first real hike in over two years! (By real I mean at least moderately strenuous and 5+ miles.) By myself!

 

Ira Spring Trail and Mason Lake 

6.5 miles round trip, 2420′ elevation gain, highest point 4230′.

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I felt really out of shape on the way up. I managed to average about 23min/mi while having to take multiple water breaks to lower my heart rate. It didn’t help that I got a late start on a 90+ degree day.  I remembered how I used to run such trails and now I can only walk. I used to think 3 miles was nothing and now it’s like even a mile never ends!

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But then I finally reached Mason Lake. Alpine lakes are my absolute favorite places to eat. I changed into my sandals and found my lunch spot at the shore where I could keep my feet in the cool water. Then I savored each bite of my simple food and I could appreciate the nourishment. I felt I had not only earned the food, but the moment of tranquility. I even waded around the water like a little kid and almost fell! I love that I can still have fun and laugh by myself even at 27 years of age.

 

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The way back down was much easier. I felt energized and had an extra bounce to my steps. I never stopped and kept a brisk pace with a moderate heart rate. I skipped, I ran, I took in all the sights, and I let my hair loose when there were gusts of wind. I felt like Pocahontas. I even saw beauty in a few butterflies before remembering how terrifying they are!

By the time I returned to my car, I felt accomplished. I felt proud. I felt strong. I felt connected. And I felt absolutely beautiful. I cannot put into words how much I love mountains.

 

I recently re-read The Giver by Lois Lowry, one of my favorite childhood books:

Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss and loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.” 

This. Yes. Absolutely.

 

 

P.S. Bangarang!!!

August 9, 2014

Rediscovering the joys of exercise!

I became a bit of a couch potato while recovering from my knee injury and my surgery. It was really discouraging trying to return to my hobbies post-op. It was painful and I had no energy. I realized that most of what I do for exercise take tremendous amounts of energy and fitness. Getting in shape is hard, staying in shape is easy, but getting BACK in shape seems impossible! It’s so discouraging when I can’t do something that used to be easy. It’s depressing when your mind and body remembers exactly how to do something, but you no longer have the strength and endurance to do it. I also had zero motivation while I was dealing with depression, anxiety, severe breast pain, and migraines as a result of hormonal BC. I take full responsibility for my own laziness; I’m not trying to make excuses!

It has now been two months since I had my IUD removed – one good month followed by one really horrible month. Then a few days ago I suddenly woke up feeling good. So I went skating. The next day I woke up feeling great. So I went skating AND bouldering. I then realized it was the BEST I had felt in over two years!!

 

Yesterday I woke up completely headache free for the first time in over a month. So I went for a trail run. The views, the solitude, and the runner’s high… How did I ever let that go??

 

Today I woke up feeling AWESOME so I decided to go to Bikram in the morning. I’ve tried over the last year to go back to Bikram yoga, but would have to leave the class early due to pain or migraines. This morning I was able to finish a class without any breaks and feel the amazing mind & body high that I experience while practicing yoga. I can’t believe I almost forgot how amazing that feels. I felt so silly because I couldn’t help but smile to myself at every savasana. :)

Dare I say that I am finally 100% prescription medication and synthetic hormone free?!? I have no idea what else may come up in the future, but I will never stop moving living ever again! I’m super excited to be sharing my nutrition and fitness journey with you all again!

P.S. I bought a juicer last year. (I did a lot of binge online shopping while recovering. Not a coffee drinker, yet felt the need for a french press and milk frother. wtf was I thinking?) I’m trying to use it more so I can justify the purchase.

1 bunch kale, 2 cucumbers, 3 small carrots, parsley, 2 lemons, and spirulina. Does anyone know the best way to blend in the spirulina??

 

August 9, 2014

Almost 2 years since my last post…

The last two years have been rather tempestuous. I let myself become a shell of my former self and mostly lost my super active lifestyle. There were four main reasons for this:

1. Skydiving – 2012-2013 were full of skydiving and tunnel trips. Since I was spending so much time and money on achieving those goals, I had to sacrifice some of my other hobbies. But it was totally worth it! I had the time of my life on some of these trips, met tons of awesome people, and was a part of the women’s vertical world record!

2. Sprained MCL – I hurt my knee in January last year and was in enough pain to stop exercising. I finally saw a doctor and got a knee brace only to be told that I can ride stationary bikes, use the elliptical machine, and swim – NONE of which were appealing to me. 

3. Surgery – I was supposed to have a laparoscopic cystectomy to remove large cysts on both ovaries. They ended up being melon sized so it became a laparotomy. Recovery was horrendous and long. Also, Dilaudid (hydromorphone) became my new favorite thing… I experienced withdrawal for the first time too.

4. Hormonal birth control – Due to my history with migraines, I chose progestin-only options: Depo Provera and then the Mirena. Worst mistake of my life would be an understatement. Severe mood swings to the point of being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, weight gain, pain, migraines, etc. I was a mess. Post-Mirena, I dealt with a whole new set of issues. I am happy to say it seems to finally be over… 

I’ve been slowly switching my eating and exercise habits back to what they used to be. Today I decided to blog again! Reading my old posts have been inspiring and I’m excited to be back on track! 

September 5, 2012

Too much skydiving and not enough blogging

I feel like I’ve been failing all my readers! I’ve been jumping more than ever this season and have done about 130 jumps since March! That’s nothing for lots of skydivers, but for me it’s a lot! I’ve also been traveling a lot to boogies in order to jump. In early August when I last blogged, I was about to go to Skydive Chicago for Summerfest! A couple weekends ago I was at Skydive Oregon for the All of the Above Boogie. What’s a boogie? Think lots of skydivers, lots of jumps, lots of food, and lots of booze. Something along those lines. I’ve recently discovered that describing skydiving to non-skydivers is rather difficult! I’m attending a couple more boogies this year before I hibernate in the tunnel during the winter.

Remember how I’ve always said that skydivers have the best BBQs? Well Skydive Oregon actually found two Hawaiians so that we could have Kalua pork. Real Kalua pork. From the ground! The meat was just falling off the bone! It was delicious and very much paleo.

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Unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to stay paleo whenever I go to boogies. Dropzones tend to be located in the middle of nowhere and you eat what you can find!

Here’s a video from the Oregon boogie. See if you can spot me! I’m the one in all black with the pretty turquoise and black rig (the backpack thing).

I haven’t been cooking anything new lately so I haven’t had much to post. I’ll try to be more creative with my food choices this next week so I can start blogging again!

One more thing – I started Bikram yoga again after too many months off. My first time back was horrific. I thought I was going to pass out! It was like alternating waves of nausea and euphoria. I still managed to feel a body high despite feeling super sick! I’m definitely not in hot yoga shape anymore, but I’m working on it again!

August 1, 2012

Summer Grilling Ideas?

I would really like to grill more often while it’s still nice outside. The only thing is that I am not creative when it comes to grilling. Burgers, sausages, salmon, steaks (which I prefer to be finished in a super hot oven anyway),  and kabobs can get pretty boring. I’ve recently tried to switch it up a little and try something new.

Swordfish
I bought a swordfish steak for the first time and had no idea what to do with it! Since I was too hungry to look for recipes or marinate it, I decided to throw it on the grill with just a bit of salt and pepper. Then I threw on some mango salsa that I bought prepackaged at Whole Foods. Can I just say that I make way better mango salsa than WF? This was super simple and kind of boring, but totally satisfying. This swordfish steak was massive!

 

What do you do with your swordfish?
 

Pork Chops

I usually roast or pan cook my pork chops so this was my first time using the grill. I wish I had thought to grill the nectarines and onions! That would have been amazing. Instead I was boring and just cooked those up in a pan with a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar. Fresh basil on top. This is one of my favorite ways to eat pork chops! I think I will do that next. Maybe grill some pineapple as well!

What are your favorite grilling recipes (especially for fish and pork)?? Send me some ideas!

I’m going to be on my way to Chicago in less than 6 hours for the Summerfest Boogie!! Boogies are basically skydiver conventions/events/parties. I’m super excited to skydive for 5 days straight with my friends from all over the country. They’re also attempting a new vertical world record where they hope to have 142 people head down in a formation. I won’t be on that, but I am super excited to support my friends and watch from the ground! Hopefully I can be on the women’s world record coming up and maybe the next world record! I’ll be back on Sunday night. I am camping the whole time at the dropzone so I’m a little worried about my food choices there. We’ll see how it goes!

July 30, 2012

My first BASE jumps

When I first started skydiving, I thought for sure that I would want to try BASE jumping. What skydiver doesn’t? BASE jumping has become increasingly visible in just the last few years. It’s featured in all sorts of movies and commercials, not to mention all over youtube, for your viewing entertainment. Almost starts to look safe and accessible! Almost. Because it’s not at all safe or accessible. I’ve given BASE jumping a lot of thought for the past 6 years. I ultimately rationalize the choices I make based on risk vs. reward when it comes to my hobbies. Skydiving to me has relatively little risk with unbelievable amounts of reward. I feel much more in danger driving in a car than I do jumping out of aircraft. They do say driving to the drop zone is the most dangerous part of your skydive! I knew BASE jumping had very high risk, but how much reward?

I had the opportunity to find out for my birthday back in May. I took a first jump course in Twin Falls, ID from one of the best teachers in the sport. I like structure and lots of information, which is exactly what I received from the Snake River BASE Academy. When the time came for my first jump, I felt like I was on my very first tandem skydive again! Having no idea what to expect and pretty excited, but strangely not feeling fear or nervousness. Just like on my first tandem, I kept waiting for the fear to hit me and it never did. The Perrine Bridge is 486 feet high (that’s pretty high!), BASE jumping is legal year round, and the landing area is huge. Plus I had thought about it for many years, had around 450 skydives at that point, knew lots of BASE jumpers, and felt like I had learned enough from the course to make my very first jump. I felt as comfortable as you can possible be before jumping off a bridge.

And then I jumped!

How cute is this beer from a local brewery? It’s called the Knutkase!

I’ve always loved the feeling of falling, so it wasn’t a surprise that I LOVED LOVED LOVED the falling part in BASE jumping. I always feel so free when I am falling and I find the feeling in your stomach to be very pleasant! Unlike bungee jumping where the bungee softly stretches out to stop you and takes you bouncing again, you are VERY abruptly stopped by a VERY fast opening parachute. Ouch. I think it opens in like a hundred feet? (In comparison, my skydiving canopy takes about 1000 feet to flutter open.) Then you get to fly a huge canopy to landing, that part was of course pretty familiar. I can detect a slight bit of adrenaline, but for the most part it’s all about the falling for me. So are the very real risks of death, serious injury, and arrest worth the few seconds of falling??

Maybe.

I’m still trying to decide what role BASE jumping will play in my life. I made a return trip to the Perrine Bridge and also jumped from a 250′ antenna/power tower at home last month. I finally felt pretty nervous on the antenna jump. The climbing part was fine. The slowly putting myself into place on the exit point with nothing to hold on to and lots of bars to hit if I lost my balance and fell to my death part? Not so fine. But again, once I committed to go, I felt totally in control and very much free. It feels like a (very short) escape from reality and I like that.

I don’t think 19 jumps from just two objects is really enough for me to know anything. I’m going to give myself a jump from a building and a jump from a cliff to decide. Maybe I’ll retire after I get my BASE number. I understand that there are many ways to minimize the risk involved, which is the only way I would even consider keeping this as a hobby. But that’s probably like trying to keep blackberry bushes pruned back or keeping an elephant in a toddler playpen. I would only jump easy objects?? Except I would crave more challenge after a while, which could end really badly. So who knows. I’m sure my mother (who is probably reading this) would really appreciate it if I never ever jumped again.

I look pretty good in THE CHEETAH though!

July 29, 2012

Bacon and Scallop Scramble

Besides all of my paleo eggs benedict creations, my favorite breakfasts have been seafood scrambles and omelettes! If you haven’t already, check out my Dungeness Crab Scramble and my Shrimp and Chives Omelette.

My newest one uses scallops! I’ve never been a big fan of bacon wrapped scallops; I don’t usually care for the bacon and scallop flavor combination. Apparently all I had to do was throw in some eggs to really like it! Probably because I’m not one of those “bacon makes everything better!” weirdos people. I’m one of the “bacon is only good for breakfast or on burgers or around dates” people.

Bacon and Scallop Scramble

Ingredients:
– 1 slice of (uncured, low sodium, nitrate free, blah blah blah) bacon
– 1 large wild-caught sea scallop, chopped OR .5 cup or those little bay scallops
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1/4 cup shallots, chopped
– Black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
– Fresh basil, chopped

Directions:
Add the shallots and the bacon in the pan and start cooking! When the bacon is about half done, add the scallops and the eggs. Scramble scramble! Season, add fresh basil, and enjoy!

Second blog post in one day, fourth in a week! I think this means that I’m officially back to blogging regularly! Hooray!

July 29, 2012

Paleo-friendly Chocolate Chip Muffins – Recipe in progress

This is a recipe in progress! After my success in making delicious paleo muffins including banana berry and pumpkin pecan, I decided to try making chocolate chip muffins!

I’ve made really tasty chocolate chip cookies in the past (I’ll save that recipe for a future post) using Enjoy Life Semi-sweet chocolate mini chips. Only THREE ingredients: evaporated cane juice, chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter! They’re as paleo friendly as chocolate chips can get! Plus the mini chips means that you can use a lot less chocolate. Who wants that really, but being paleo you’re probably trying to keep your sugar intake at a minimum.

These muffins turned out grainier than the others. Haha, a grainier grain-free muffin! I used 2/3 cup almond flour and 1/3 cup coconut flour, which is a different coconut to almond ratio than I’ve used in the past. It was also a tad dry. I also either used too much banana or not enough. There’s a hint of banana flavor of which I ended up wishing there was more or none at all. I think next time chocolate chip banana muffins would be better, especially since the extra banana will help with the dryness. There’s lots of potential here though. I basically followed the banana berry muffin recipe, using chocolate chips instead of berries. I only added some vanilla and used less banana. I won’t post a recipe until I feel like I’ve perfected it though! Leave a comment if you’d still like the recipe or if you have any baking tips!

Even the batter/dough was dryer and doughier than the other muffins I’ve made.

 

Good thing I made half a batch and ended up with only 5 or so muffins! These weren’t bad at all. They were good enough for me to eat all of them in two days, actually… They were better than most gluten-free muffins. Just not up to par with the other muffins I’ve made, so that’s why it’s in progress. :)

 

July 27, 2012

Mango Tarragon Scallops

Second blog post in a week! I’ve been continuing to cook with fruit lately due to the abundance of fruit at my house right now.

This time I experimented with some mango! I saw a recipe card at Whole Foods while buying scallops for Scallops with Cherry-Tarragon Sauce. I was out of cherries, so after nibbling on tarragon and then nibbling on various other fruits, I decided on using mango. I mostly stuck to the recipe with a few substitutions, so I’ll just list the ingredients that I used. However, I added the mango at the very last moment for a quick stir because I didn’t think I would care for cooked mango.

Mango Tarragon Scallops

Ingredients:
– 3 large wild-caught sea scallops
– sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
– 1 Tbsp coconut oil (I would have used clarified butter, but was out of it)
– 1/2 to 1 shallot, chopped
– 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 cup mango, chopped
– 1.5 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped

I ate it with arugula, my favorite green! This was really good for the first scallop and then progressively got too sweet for me. I definitely enjoy the taste of tarragon and mango together. I also decided that I like my mangos cold, not so much warm. It’s also not much of a sauce and I can’t imagine it being saucy even if I used cherries like the original recipe. I think squeezing some lemon juice over everything would have brightened up everything for me. Or maybe some spices added to it to cut down on the sweetness. It was a beautiful plate of food though! I would make this again with a tart fruit.

I’ve been having a pretty awesome week with some pretty awesome friends!
Monday – “The Dark Knight Rises” in IMAX (loved it), tunnel flying
Wednesday – tunnel, 3 skydives, skating
Thursday – tunnel, indoor bouldering
Friday-Sunday will be full of more skydiving!!!

It was the first time I had been on the ice in many many months. My ankles and feet hurt really bad from not being used to my skates anymore. I’m still on my last pair of skates, made for me in 2006! That was after I quit, so the skates are still in pretty good shape. It’s crazy to think how much I used to skate to need new boots every year and blades every other year. They make super light skates nowadays though, I kind of want new ones! I’m starting to think I want to skate regularly again, just recreationally, to not waste the massive investment my parents made. I skated a public session so I didn’t try to do much, but I know I’m out of shape.

Climbing went a lot better. I let too many months go by without climbing as well. I had lost all my calluses and my hands were burning by the third route. However, I was super happy that I didn’t have to downgrade TOO much. I was climbing most V3s easily before I stopped climbing regularly, now V2s are still easy but V3s are more challenging than I remember. I managed to climb a couple of them, but with my hands and grip strength not where they used to be, it was much more challenging. I had really missed the climbing gym! I didn’t think I’d ever be so happy to smell stinky feet and sweat! Of course I renewed my membership, so now I have to go regularly.

Conclusion: I’m in excellent tunnel shape, but out of shape for everything else I like to do that I haven’t been doing. Time for more balance in my life!

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