Surviving PT, Day 5 and Wednesday Weigh-In

Remember how I was afraid of the scale this morning because of my really terrible eating this weekend?  The good news is that I didn’t gain anything and I didn’t lose anything.  This tells me a few things:

  1. My body is getting used to eating like a normal person and I’m not gaining 5 pounds every time I eat something that isn’t rabbit food.  This is good.
  2. Maybe the Metformin is helping me to be able to eat a little bad and have my insulin stay stable.
  3. I have spent three weekends eating badly and still haven’t gained anything.  If I had just changed one day of eating each week, I may be three pounds lighter right now.  I need to rein in my eating habits on the weekends.  Summertime is the worst for me.  Fortunately, I’m going on vacation next week.  Unfortunately, I’ll need to be really careful with my food intake.

Let’s get to PT.  Day 5 was interesting.  I started off on the elliptical for 10 minutes, this time with a “hill” program.   After that, Heather had me go and hop on the table and we talked about the knee injury from last week.  Did it hurt over the weekend?  No.  Did I try to do any exercise over the weekend?  Hell no.

She decided to try something new and she taped up my knee in such a way that the knee cap was a little more supported and said that this would help me actually use my quads better for stability purposes.  It felt weird, but certainly more stable.  Happy with her work, Heather declared that we would be back to the normal routine and we headed over to do my rounds of band work and balance work.  Oh, wait, I forgot.  Before that, she decided we could do bridge lifts with my feet on the stability ball.  ON THE TABLE.  What the?!  She said, this way, you’ll have the extra motivation to keep balanced so you don’t fall off the table.  Keep drinking your Slurpee, Heather.  I’ll just be on the floor in a second.

So back to the exercises with the knee taped up.  It really was a latex miracle!  I didn’t have any of the unstable tracking of the kneecap and I definitely felt my quads working.  Heather said that this means that I am retraining my left leg to use muscles appropriately, instead of babying that side of my body.  She was so pleased, she suggested we try getting on the trampoline to do a few jumps.  I looked at her like she was a crazy-machine, but agreed that it had been over a month, so it was worth a shot.  Thank goodness it had a bar in front of it for me to hold onto!  I jumped with both legs ten times.  No problems.  I jumped with my right leg only ten times.  No problems.  Then, I tried the left leg only.  I could NOT jump!  My foot literally was not leaving the platform.  It was like I could not get any “air”.  Heather looked at me and then looked at the intern following us around and said, did you see that.  Yes, we all saw that!  What does this mean, I begged.  Am I still hurt?  No, she says.  This means you have zero calf muscles.  Your body cannot propel itself up because you have unstable ankles, connected to weak calf muscles, connected to an unstable knee, connected to underutilized quadraceps, connected to unstable hips.  I just looked at her and laughed.  So you’re telling me now that I need to be in PT for weak calf muscles??  Shoot me now! 

Like I said before, I believe in all things Heather, so I dutifully listened to my additional exercises for home.  I’m now doing ankle strengthening, hip flexion, knee strengthening, and now calf strengthing work at home.

Then, Heather makes a leap of faith.  She suggests that I try jumping at home.  I have a small trampoline that I got when I first hurt myself, so I can use that.  She wants me to try working up to 30 second jumps on each leg.  Yay!  She follows this with a statement that it’s time for me to start trying my normal exercise routine at home, modified to my own level of ability.  And, get this, she wants me to try hopping.  We’ll see about that, Heather.  I could be here all year.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to try and walk around the lake before work.  My calf muscles were screaming at me this morning, so I didn’t even try it.  But tomorrow, I’ll tempt fate, and my feet, with a walk and see how it goes.

The annual pesto-making adventure

For those of you who know me, I love to garden and have fresh veggies in the summertime.  There’s nothing quite like a vine-ripened tomato from your own garden.  More on that later- I’ve got a promising crop this year!

In addition to veggies, I enjoy growing basil…a lot of it!  I love it in caprese salads made with goat cheese, but I grow my basil primarily for the purpose of making pesto.  Specifically, I make a pesto spread for pizzas.  Tasty.

This pesto-making adventure is a once-a-year deal because it’s so time consuming and I try to wait as long as I can to chop off the basil.  I typically have four or five basil plants, which is plenty for my purposes.  This year I only had four so I might go out and get another one to have ready for my summer salads.

Anyway, let me get back to this pesto thing.  Mr. Hall and I love to make pizzas in the fall and winter months.  There is something about a pizza made with homemade pesto that makes me a happy camper.  In order to accomplish this, I make a couple dozen batches of this pesto and freeze it in half-cup containers.  That way, all I need to do is defrost one and it’s like I just made it that morning.

I’ve had some people ask me about how I make my pesto, so I thought I would document my pesto-making adventure from this weekend and share it with you.  This really is a fiasco, taking about 5 or 6 hours for me to complete.  That’s including breaks to sit down and eat (my feet and back start hurting after a couple of hours of standing and hovering over the counter).  So without further delay, here it goes.

I start by cutting off the basil plants about a few inches from the soil of the planter.  I like to keep my basil in pots because they fall prey to slugs otherwise.  A few bags from Target serve as ideal carriers and I put all of my bounty in the kitchen sink.

I wish I could describe how much basil is in there, but it’s got to be around 18 or 20 stalks.  It’s just piled up.  Then, I turn on the water and start the laborious process of washing each individual leaf.  Yes, you have to do this because the undersides of the leaves get dirty and can sometimes be covered in little bugs or spiderwebs. 

Can you believe how big some of those leaves are, compared to my hand? 

As I wash the leaves, I pull them off the stalks and then place them on a paper towel by the sink.

As the paper towel fills up, I transfer the basil leaves to a beach towel that I have on my countertop and stovetop.  This picture below represents the full bounty of basil- it’s a TON of basil.

While this process may seem ridiculous, I let the basil leaves dry out as much as possible so I don’t have watery pesto.  It’s a necessary process and a good excuse to eat lunch.  To this point, I have spent an hour and a half working on the leaves.

Then, I measure out the basil and transfer them into these big popcorn tubs.  I have 32 cups of basil this year– tightly packed cups.

Then, I start to gather up my supplies.  If you want crappy pesto, buy it in the store pre-made.  If you want pesto that’s the bomb, make your own.  Be prepared to shell out some serious dough.  Pine nuts are expensive.  I think a small tray of them at Harris Teeter is $9 or something like that.  I got over a pound of pine nuts from Costco for $25.  Eep!  Then, I use a combination of parmiganio reggiano and pecorino romano cheeses.  Again, costly ingredients when you buy them in solid form, but totally worth it.  I can’t remember exactly, but I think the pecorino was around $8 and the parmigano was around $20?

Then, I get a couple of heads of garlic and start peeling.  I think I had around 20 or 30 cloves of garlic ready when I was done.

 

I use a medium-sized food processor to make my pesto.  It’s not small, but it’s not overly big.  I can fit about six cups of basil in there at a time.

Each batch consists of two cups of basil, three garlic cloves, three tablespoons of pine nuts and about 1/4C of olive oil.  I start out by throwing in the garlic to the processor to chop it up.  Then, I add triple the basil and pine nuts and throw in a few pinches of sea salt.  It takes a while to chop it all down and I have to stop a few times to scrape the sides of the processor…

After it’s chopped up, then I start drizzling in the olive oil while the motor is running.  When it gets to a creamy consistency, then I take out the blade and scrape it into a glass mixing bowl.  Repeat the entire process eight or nine times.  By the end, I’ve made a huge mess, but this is the result….basil baby food.

I know, it’s not the most pleasant looking but it’s about to get better.  I actually ran out of room in that big mixing bowl, so I had to get another one out and filled that one half-full.  I clean up my mess and start working on grating the cheese, about four cups of each.  I try to keep up with my dishes when I do this process because each phase is just as messy as the one before it!  Here’s a shot of how I stage my ingredients.

I’d like to mention that I don’t use as much olive oil as most people would use for a pesto recipe, mainly because this pesto isnt’ going onto pasta or anything like that.  I use about half of what I would normally use so it’s thicker and doesn’t make the pizza all oily and runny.

Then, I start the process of folding in the cheese to the basil baby food mixture.  This is when it really starts smelling good in the kitchen.  It smelled good before, but now I’m licking my hands as I fling pesto all over the countertop!

You’ll notice now I’ve moved the operation into an even BIGGER bowl, which is necessary to be able to combine all of the ingredients appropriately.  This is a huge chip bowl I got from Walmart and does the job perfectly.

Wait, did you see a little owl in the corner of that picture?  It’s a set of vintage salt and pepper shakers!  A hidden Meet My Owl!!!

Now comes the fun task of getting all of this pesto into containers.  I have some screw-top Rubbermaid containers for this pesto, which hold around a cup but I only put in a half of a cup.  I find that too much pesto, believe it or not, can be a bad thing on a pizza.  This time, I’ve made so much pesto that I have to start using some other containers and even need to break out some freezer bags!

In all, this was a 22 batch pesto-making adventure.  Notice how the pesto is a little brown looking?  That’s just the basil oxidizing, which is okay.  It hits the air and turns brown, but when you stir it, it comes back to green.

This all went into the freezer and will be enjoyed once a month or so.  It’s a pain in my behind, but totally worth it.  Note the time on the stove is around 4:40pm- I’ve been at it since at least 11am.

How do I use it on pizza, you ask?  Well, what we like to do is get a thin crust pizza dough and top it with the pesto and part-skim ricotta cheese.  Then, just finish off with your favorite toppings and a little bit of mozzerella to hold it all together.

So there you go.  The annual pesto-making adventure- hope it inspires you to do something amazing with your produce this summer!

Surviving PT: Day 4

Who hurts herself DURING a PT session?  This girl. (raises hand)

After a few PT sessions, I guess Heather was feeling like I needed a challenge.  Insead of the usual 10 minute warmup on the eliptical, she suggested I try the treadmill with an incline.  How high, I ask her.  Oh, try it to the point of comfort, she says.  I get to level 4 incline and I’m feeling okay.   I chill there for awhile.  Then, the assistant comes by and suggests I try a half level higher.

Well, hello, knee.  Yes, I feel your familiar pain.  I’ve hurt myself again.  argh!!!

So, I put the incline back down again and stop walking.  Heather is concerned and takes me over for examination, telling me that she can’t believe my knee was so quick to hurt again and makes a comment about my ankle stability and my hip flexion.  Oh well.

After a few minutes, I’m feeling better so we head over to do some of my balancing exercises.  As soon as I get to my left leg, my knee pain is back.  I’m definitely hurt.

This completely messes with the groove of my appointment.  Instead of doing my normal routine, Heather decides it’s better for me to focus on my hip stregth and decides to try some new torture, er, activities.

Like this…you start with your feet on the ball and then lift your butt.  All the while, the ball is rolling around.  Oh, I forgot she wants me to hold my butt up for 15 seconds each time.  Evil.

My little knee mishap cuts my appointment down to 45 minutes instead of the hour and thirty I normally am in there for- a blessing, but also a major dissapointment.  How am I supposed to get better if I’m hurting myself during PT???

As a side note,  I looked up Heather online to see what she’s all about.  Yep, I’m stalking my physical therapist.  I like to know the people I trust with my bodily well-being.  What did I discover?  She’s done an Ironman triathalon.  No wonder this girl is a maniac.  You couldn’t pay me to do one of those.  Want to learn about her too?  See here.  Don’t be fooled, she may be cute, but she’s tough.

On a side note, I ate pretty badly this weekend, so I’m not looking forward to weigh in on Wednesday.  Not sure if it’s because of the knee and being bummed out about that or if I just had a weekend of not caring.  For the next two days, I’m upping the water and eating as clean as possible!

Wednesday Weigh-In: No news is good news

After a weekend of terrible eating, I was relieved to see that I hadn’t gained or lost any weight this week!

I find it difficult to track my food intake when I eat out because you never really know the exact point values unless you can track down the restaurant nutrition information.  Not having this for the majority of places I go has forced me to be really careful about what I eat and moderate my intake.

 

Surviving PT: Day 3

PT was pretty different on Day 3.  We didn’t do as many of the yoga bridges (I’d mentally prepared myself for 100 of them and she only asked me to do 20), I did some more hip work, and I found out that my slouching over the weekend is bad for my hips.

Apparently, when I slouch or sit on floors, my lower back gets uncomfortable because the disks in my lower spine are overcompensating and pushing out.  Because my hips are weak, my pelvis moves around too.  Hence, my lower back felt like it needed a major pop! when I went in yesterday.  I knew my hips were out of whack because my lower back didn’t feel like that at all last week after Heather put them back into alignment.

I have a new exercise that I have to do now to help that area stay supported- yoga cobras!  Yesterday, I did these on a table while Heather pushed my lower back in to get the disks to move back in, rather than pushing out.  It took about 10 minutes of this up and down, breathe in and out mess before I finally felt the pressure go away. 

Right after we got that straight, she put a band around my legs and instructed me to start doing lunge walks around the room and squats from side to side.  Because I couldn’t do this without pushing my sass out, I had to keep my back supported.  It was hilarious!

This little side action cost me an additional 20 minutes of work on my ankles and knees, which landed me in there for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I was a little sweaty when I left!  On a funny note, one of my past students was doing his internship at the site, so he was my tech helping out.  It was neat to see him!

Now I need to find a way to do my cobra pushups every two hours when I am at work.  This should be interesting!

Meet My Owl: Way to go!

Today’s meet my owl is appropriate, given the recent high school graduations going on over the past couple of weeks.  He was given to me by my bestie, Gretchen, the day of my doctoral commencement! 

He’s crocheted and has the cutest little graduation cap on.  It is a fun piece to keep in my office and a lot of students talk about graduation when they see him sitting on my shelf.  He’s started many a conversation this time of year!

Surviving PT: Day 2

I got the bright idea to wear my heart rate monitor to PT this time so I can see how many calories I’m burning.  I have the type that has the chest strap so it’s accurate.  I’m always a little suspicious of the wrist only monitor.  Anyway, in one hour and 15 minutes I burned 316 calories!  Heather is no joke!!!

This time around, she decided to start me on the elliptical for 10 minues.  My job was to increase the resistence every minute and get to the hardest point of resistence (with comfort) for 2 minutes.  After getting a good warm up, she said, “let’s move to the table so I can check your hips”. 

She checked me out and I was still in alignment, so I was hoping for a massage.  I know, wishful thinking.  A girl can dream. 

Instead, she said, “while we’re here, let’s go ahead and do the bridges, but this time for 15 seconds at a time”.  WHAT?!  You tricked me, Heather.  You want me to start off this madness with 100 lifts for 15 seconds at a time?!  (eyes narrow) 

Words can’t describe the burn.  At one point, she came by, leaned over, and said, “beach body” and walked away.  Either she’s perky evil all of the time or the pregnancy hormones have sent her over the training edge.

The exercises for this session were much like the last ones:

  • Thighmaster move with the band
  • step balancing (although I’ve been told that next time it’s going to be squatting off of a higher step)
  • band balancing on one leg in all four directions (I’ve also been told I’ll be standing on a foam disk to do this soon)
  • balance board
  • ankle proximity on the tipping board
  • the one legged squats to the front, side, back, etc

We ended the session by going to the other side of the facility, which houses all of the heavy equipment.  I thought I was going to be put on a spring weight machine, but instead, I get this:

 

 

That’s right- the slide board.  Old school  hockey training equipment.  Don’t be fooled by this simplistic piece of slippery equipment.  It put me in my place, real quick!  I could not push myself off each side to save my life.  Of course, Heather is all crouched in a ski-squat in front of me growling, “push off, push off”.  If I didn’t see her cute baby bump poking out, I could have reached out and strangled her as I slide past her.  Either way, it was the coolest retro thing I’ve ever done at PT.  I informed her that my new quest in life was to conquer this slide board.

When I got home, I rewarded myself with additional band exercises and started up a new dress for myself!

This fabric was another steal off of the $2/yard table.  It’s a little dark for summer, but I love the funky pattern with the birds.  I know, it would be better if it had owls, but these birds are a quirky second in my book.  I sewed while Kevin watched the Stanley Cup and will probably finish it tonight. Yay for $4 summer dresses!