Thursday, July 21, 2016

Food as Medicine: Thoughts on Turmeric

This week marks the second anniversary of my brain surgery and cranio-cervical fusion. Over these two years, I have tried several things to improve my health and pain - including trigger point injections and physical therapy, medications and massage - all with varying levels of success. Of all the changes I have made, diet changes have been the most helpful.

Current science believes that inflammation is one of the biggest underlying issues in chronic illness and many of my diet changes, like cutting refined sugars and dairy, have focused on cutting inflammation. There are even diets specific to reducing inflammation like the Autoimmune Protocol diet, or even going Paleo.

It sounds daunting but in reality, it's actually been delicious.

One of the herbs I have recently tried to work into my diet more is turmeric, which gives curry it's vibrant orange color. There have been hundreds of studies on the disease fighting effects of turmeric, including research on its ability to help prevent Alzheimer's, to treat Arthritis, and to even prevent and treat certain types of cancer. One of these studies even identified more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds in the herb.

A few months ago, when Trevor's family was visiting, I tried a turmeric cocktail at Vinaigrette, a great local farm-to-table salad restaurant. They've since swapped that drink out with a turmeric mimosa that I'm excited to try. In the meantime, I did find a great Turmeric Ginger tonic on Epicurious and it even has chia seeds, another super food.

We've also been squeezing lots of turmeric into our weekday diet with Curried Chicken Salad for lunch – either on a bun or over greens. While Trevor has his own secret recipe from culinary school, this option from MyRecipes seems like a close match.

Still, I was on a hunt for other non-curry recipes, and I stumbled on a great list of spicy recipes to try. I figured we could start at the top and work our way through – though I was most drawn to the shrimp with mango and basil – and so I made the Super Power Morning Smoothie earlier this week.

Not surprisingly, we had all of the ingredients needed - like banana, mango chunks, turmeric and chia seeds - for this morning recipe on hand. And, we even had fresh ginger on hand – allowing for an extra spicy addition.

So tell me, what are your favorite ways to eat turmeric? Who else is a big fan of curry?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It's Not All Spandex

Somehow, in the deserts of New Mexico, we found ourselves friends with many bike enthusiasts ranging from competitive road cyclists to mountain bikers, and even our friend Tiffany who has been quoted as saying she is only riding her bike if there is money, she often rides her bike to work, or food at the end of the ride. This means we often find ourselves in a sea of spandex.

While I love our friends and their passion for performance, I was determined to find outfits for biking that were comfortable, practical, and still cute.

That being said, the base for my favorite riding outfits is spandex. As a dysautonomia patient, with unstable blood pressure, I have found that compression leggings are vital not only for bike riding or activity, but for my day to day life. Black leggings are really my signature look.

My personal favorite? The compression leggings from Tommie Copper.

If, like Tiffany, you are biking to work or other occasions which require a little more class, I'm also a big fan of the Bike to Work collection from Beta Brand, the company who first designed yoga dress pants.

Can you tell that I'm all about comfort?

If you're going to wear leggings as pants, it's key to find the right top. Tunics are my go-to choice given their longer length.  I recently discovered a fun direct sales company called LuLaRoe which carries a wide range of tops appropriate to wear with leggings (as well as modest length dresses, and leggings of their own.)

If you aren't familiar with the brand, LuLaRoe sources unique fabrics and creates only 1,000 items from each - meaning that the inventory is always changing. This also means that you can't just visit the LuLaRoe website to browse and shop (though Instagram is a great place to find examples).

While there are consultants all over the country hosting in-home pop up shops, many sell online via their private Facebook groups.

My personal favorite piece? The Irma tunic, which I'm wearing here.

In my last post, I shared a bit about Vionic shoes and when it comes to longer rides, or just hopping on my bike for a neighborhood ride, my Fyn Active sneakers are definitely my go-to.

But, sneakers aren't always the best choice. When riding between classes, or to the office, I rely on my Crocs Sienna flats. I actually like these flats so much that I have them in black and cherry.

The finishing touch for any outfit, even while riding?  Accessories.

While I love throwing on a bright scarf -- this floral print beauty was only $1.50 at Walmart -- the most important accessory is definitely a well fitting helmet.

While it can be tempting to forgo a helmet to preserve your hair style, I've found that throwing a hat in my bike basket lets me ride safely and end stylishly.  (Plus, I kind of love the fact that my Shoreline helmet and Streamliner are nearly a perfect match.)

So tell me, what are your favorite outfits for bike riding?

This year, I am partnering with Schwinn Bikes as a #SchwinnAmbassador to share my wellness journey. Catch all of the updates here, on Instagram (with the hashtag #fromwherejenrides) and on the Schwinn Red blog.

This post contains referral and affiliate links. All products linked are products that I personally own and love and think that you will, too.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kicking Chronic Pain with Vionic

There was a time that I wore a size 7.5 shoe. A perfectly average size which meant that finding shoes on the clearance rack was unlikely. But then, my shoes began to slip on my heels and I realized that I needed a size 7. Then a 6.5. Then a size 6. No longer perfectly average, but certainly better odds when it came to the clearance rack.

It turns out that having a tethered spinal cord damaged not only my lower back, but a majority of my leg muscles. For months, I went from doctor to doctor, explaining that I felt as though I had severe shin splints. All. Of. The. Time.

I would later learn that my leg muscles were in constant spasm, affecting me from hip to toes. And most notably, in the arch of my foot which was getting increasingly higher as time went on.

When my surgery failed to help my pain, I turned to a podiatrist. After all, I had met my out of pocket max for the year, meaning that my orthotics would be free. When they were ordered, I was elated. Finally, hope for my aching feet. And legs. And back. But then I saw the shoe catalog.


Clueless, I turned to Facebook and polled friends and family on their favorite shoes for orthotics. Only to realize that the orthotics I needed - which are very tall, and rigid - wouldn't fit in their shoes of choice. I checked Zappos. I used their filtering tool to select only brands which worked for orthotics and that's how I stumbled upon Vionic.

It was winter at the time so I started with a pair ankle boots. But after wearing them daily for three months, Spring came and with it, new sneakers.

For my first pair of Vionic sneaks, I went with the Fyn Active in black. While I love the little pop of pink in the toe and sole of the shoe, I thought I'd upgrade them by replacing the pink ombre laces with a set of Hickies no-tie shoelaces.

It's the end of May and these shoes have already helped me to cover mile after mile, by foot and by bike, to hike the familiar desert and to see new cities, all without leg and back pain.

(I'm kind of obsessed.)

This year, I am partnering with Schwinn Bikes as a #SchwinnAmbassador to share my wellness journey. Catch all of the updates here, on Instagram (with the hashtag #fromwherejenrides) and on the Schwinn Red blog.

Fyn Active Sneakers were provided to me by Vionic in exchange for writing this review, but all views are my own. You have my promise to  never share a product with you that I do not personally use and love.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Getting Back on the Bike

Nearly two years ago, I had brain surgery.

I went in to surgery with a lot of expectations. I expected there to be pain. I expected there to be weeks of recovery. I expected that there would be months of physical therapy. I expected driving to be tricky. I expected to be tired. And while all of those expectations came true, there were so many things - both small and large - that I didn't expect.

I never expected that watching fish at the aquarium would make me dizzy. I didn't expect that would need another neurosurgery so soon after the first, or I would keep my handicap placard permanently. I never considered that swimming with a fused neck might be difficult, or that motion sickness would make riding a bike nearly impossible.  After all, how many times have we been assured in doing new things that, "it's just like riding a bike?" And yet, all of those things were true.

But this Spring, I'm getting back on the bike.

This year, you'll be able follow my journey as a Schwinn Ambassador as I learn to balance on two wheels, find the best bike friendly businesses in the ABQ, and figure out how exactly a girl can avoid helmet hair.

(But really, if you have tips on the hair, do share.)

Catch all of the updates here, on Instagram (with the hashtag #fromwherejenrides) and on the Schwinn Red blog.