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Lazy Girl Crockpot Curry

It has been exactly 138 days since I last set foot in a gym. In other words, 19.7 weeks, or 4.6 months. I know this specifically because I went to the gym the day before I was admitted to hospital with a 14cm mass in my chest. In retrospect, a moderate elliptical workout when there are veins protruding from your neck is NOT a good idea. But going to the gym was just a part of my day. It was a habit I spent a long time establishing and became one that was not easily broken.

I bring this up because I’ve been thinking about the gym a lot lately. When I first got sick, exercise of any kind was the furthest thing from my mind. I was on bed rest in the beginning, so walking wasn’t even an option. By the time I started chemotherapy, the cancer was pushing on my lungs and making me short of breath. The biggest roadblock so far has been the fact that the most active part of the cancer is wrapping itself around my superior vena cava – one of the main veins that brings blood into my heart. I have to be careful when I get my heart rate up and blood pumping because that area is being squeezed.

Even though I was a self-professed fitness fiend (so much so, I even turned it into my work as a personal trainer!), giving up fitness has been strangely easy for me. I still try to move my body every day for the sake of keeping it healthy for treatment. Since getting Buster, I like to save my energy for dog walks lasting 30-90 minutes each day depending on how well I’m feeling. But for the most part, I haven’t spent much of the last 138 days missing my old fitness routines and active lifestyle. It’s actually been a nice break to be lazy for a while!

That is, until recently. Over the past few weeks I find myself daydreaming about how I’m going to learn to run again, what kind of exercises I want to focus on to get my strength back, and even rejoining the gym. The trainer in me is thinking up schedules and plans to get my fitness level back up when this chemo thing is over in two months (so long as I don’t need radiation after). It’s nice to feel that motivation again, and start to feel hope that maybe, maybe, I’ll be healthy enough one day to take on an active lifestyle again.

Apart from the cancer and chemo business, I still have more roadblocks to get through until I can get there. There is of course my broken arm, which surprise, is still broken! I’ve gained a lot more mobility with it over the past few months, particularly with rotating my hand. But I’ll never be able to straighten my left arm fully, and I still can’t put any weight on it. I mentioned before that I took a gentle yoga class a few weeks ago. While I could do most of the movements, I was still very limited with my arm. Sun salutations and downward dogs are officially out of the question for me, most likely forever. Upper-body strength training will always be a challenge.

On top of that, there’s the new development of lung toxicity. The chemo poisoned my lungs and I’m experiencing decreased lung capacity because of it. I’m on Prednisone steroids now which have helped with the coughing and shortness of breath a lot. Before, I couldn’t get off the couch without gasping for air. Now I can at least yawn without breaking into a coughing fit. Next week I will start the two month process of weaning myself off the steroids, so hopefully the symptoms won’t come back. I’m also going to start seeing a respirologist to help “rehabilitate” my lungs. Here’s hoping the damage to my lungs is reversible and that they’ll be able to withstand running again someday!

I know full well that I won’t be back to my “old fighting form” as soon as all of this is over. I have learned too much throughout this experience that I don’t desire the same sort of vanity fitness goals I had before. The trainer in me is instead considering my roadblocks and thinking of ways to work around them to still have a healthy, happy, post-cancer, post-injury body.

Like any endorphin-junkie, I can’t wait to work up a sweat again. But until then, I know to keep up my daily walking routine, while enjoying this rare opportunity to be lazy. This past weekend that included lots of Beverly Hills 90210:

Chemo brain food.

As well as near-effortless meals made in the slow cooker and rice cooker:

Crockpot Chicken Coconut Curry:

Cube and brown 4-6 chicken breasts in a pan.

Cube 2-4 medium sized potatoes, slice 2 small onions, and add them to the slow cooker.

In a bowl, combine:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp curry power
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Kashmir chili powder (or cayenne)
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

Add chicken and sauce to the slow cooker, cooking on low for 9-10 hours, or medium for 6. This is not a super spicy curry, despite all the curry powder (which isn’t very spicy to begin with). Just enough heat to make your nose run a little, but all the flavours are able to shine through.

The rice was an extra special treat. I finally cracked open the saffron I brought back from Toronto!

I’ve been hoarding this and knew it would lose its flavour if I didn’t use it soon. This little box cost $10!

I used this recipe with the addition of 1 tsp parsley flakes and 1 tbsp salted butter instead of fish sauce. It was perfect in every way.

Now, I will admit that it is sometimes really hard to sit back and watch people around me do the activities I love. I’d be lying to say I don’t feel a pang of jealousy when I see a runner out on a gorgeous day, or hearing about the fitness goals and accomplishments of others. Seeing as I can’t currently do most things fitness related, my interest in it has kind of plummeted.

But I keep reminding myself that this is my time to heal. I am currently doing what is best for my body, which is completely different than what is best for someone who is in a different stage of their life. Fitness is not a linear path. It’s all about the ups and downs and dealing with the roadblocks as they come. I am trying really hard to enjoy my lazy days with 90210, the slow cooker, and casual walks, while using my daydreams of fitness routines at the gym as something to look forward to and work towards.

A New Kind of Normal

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Welcome to Toronto I guess??

So nice of the city to greet me with excruciating heat, humidity and a smog advisory :P For my American friends:

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So far I’m doing okay in the heat, but there are no signs of it letting up for at least the next week, which may eventually pose some problems. As of right now, I’m learning how to cope with being a sweaty mess 24/7 ;)

The heat, combined with the decadence displayed over the last several days, has led to many simple meals on my part.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling and seeing the after-effects of my eating over the last month. I was more than happy to participate in the wonderful food opportunities I came across, especially seeing as I might never get the chance to participate in such things again. (read: a giant bison burger in Banff, my first gelato experience, or a homestyle Jewish brunch).

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I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t ecstatic to start eating kale and hummus salads again on the daily. We eat the way we do for a reason – because it works for our bodies. A deviation from that can be fun and welcome for a short period of time. But we’ll always desire to fall back into our natural patterns for the long-run.

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Grocery shopping in Ontario is proving to be a fun experience. Many of the same products as in New Brunswick, but I’m finding a few new-to-me things!

I’ve never found hummus to be overly caloric to begin with, but the foodie in me was intrigued by Wendy and Barb’s Skinny Dips Hummus.

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15 calories per tablespoon. Okay, so maybe this is good if you’re prone to eating hummus by the half-cup (I can’t be the only one!!)

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The ingredients are all very normal. It seems they simply cut out any oil to eliminate some calories and fat, something I do when I make my own hummus at home. Not great if you rely on hummus as a healthy source of fat though. Taste wise, it’s pretty good. So long as hummus has chickpeas and garlic I’m good. Texture-wise, it’s a little on the watery side.

Dessert!

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Ikea chocolate. Yes, a $1 chocolate bar from Ikea my sister insisted on getting. And by “insisted” I mean she pointed to it and I fervently agreed. I’m on a hazelnut milk chocolate kick and this fits the bill. No Lindt though. Lindt will always be my favourite.

I’ve also finally started cooking in my new place!! This is where all the magic will be happening…

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A much larger kitchen than in my old place, which was literally smaller than a closet. The fire alarms are all working, which may be a necessary quality with my cooking methods. I predict many great things coming from this kitchen!! :)

The living area just off the kitchen:

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Please excuse the mess, we are still doing a lot of unpacking and cleaning. Table is off to the side, which will be perfect for eating off of.

We have stairs!

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Which lead up to a hallway that includes a bathroom and three bedrooms. I have two roommies who I met in J-school (and played in a band with!!). I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots of them on the blog soon :)

Meet my Ikea bedroom:

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Note, that is not a comforter but a sleeping bag I brought to Banff with me. Bedding will be arriving at the end of the month.

To the immediate left is my giant closet.

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Hi!! Full length mirror came with place, score. So did this TV:

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Double score. This is the opposite wall at the foot of the bed. There’s another small closet there that is currently empty because most of my belongings are still in Moncton! I still need to find fun things to put on the walls too.

That weird halo lighting comes from these:

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Two skylights above the TV! Pretty neat, however I can’t open them which makes it pretty warm and stuffy in my room. Also, I’ve taken to wearing an eye mask because I have yet to figure out how to put curtains on them. Honestly though, I should have started wearing an eye mask a long time ago. I’m always up with the sun, and now I’m sleeping 8+ in pitch black. It’s heavenly.

I also have a second home here in Toronto:

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The coffee shop just down the street. We still don’t have internet at the new place, so I’ve been spending my afternoons hanging out in here and it really does feel like a second home! I just finished that above iced tea.

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And I maaaay have just had a coconut cookie. But the only evidence of its existence are a few mere crumbs on a plate in front of me. Hmm. Second homes with delicious baked goods could be dangerous.

On that note, I am off to discover my third home here in Toronto. My nearest gym!! I haven’t worked out in five days and feel like I just need to get in there and move my body. I’m still sick as a dog, but maybe getting my blood flowing will help this cold along.

Oh! Oh! And thank you for the good luck wishes on my interview today! I have a second interview tomorrow morning so they must have worked :) Keep ‘em coming!!

 

Question of the Day: I am starting to feel out of touch with my bloggie friends, name one exciting thing that has happened to you in the last week!

Out of Hibernation

Success!!

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I finally ran outdoors today!! Oooh, it was awesome! But I’ll tell ya all about it in a second ;)

First, I was rudely awakened by my alarm at 6am on a Saturday because I had to work :( I’d been planning on an outdoor run this afternoon, but still did an exercise DVD in case I wouldn’t be able to squeeze the run in. 50 minutes of Jillian Michaels’ No More Trouble Zones. It’s mostly a strength-based DVD using hand weights and bodyweight. I like it!

And that “old favourite” I prepared last night? The breakfast cookie!!

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Oooohhhh man. I used to eat one of these every single Sat & Sun when I was working the 5am shift every weekend at the radio station. It’s been too long! (for the breakfast cookie, not the 5am shift).

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • cinnamon
  • raisins
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp butternut squash baby food

Mixed all up in a bowl, flattened on a plate, and left in the fridge to harden overnight.

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I usually eat these with my hands, but decided I wanted to “frost” it with yogurt, thus a fork was required. It was awesome! My homemade protein bars by the way, are essentially breakfast cookies with extra protein powder. Easy peasy!

Work actually wasn’t that bad today. I was working with a film crew to capture a student event. I wasn’t stuck at a desk or anything :)

I was feeling experimental when I came home, so I decided to try my hand at Heather’s homemade coconut butter. An extra source of fat? Yesplease!

I started with a bag of cheap unsweetened shredded coconut.

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Dumped into my food processor…

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And processed!

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…and processed…

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I added a tablespoon of coconut oil, but it still wasn’t getting nice and creamy like I’d pictured. Perhaps it was my cheap, dried-out coconut? Would it be better toasted?

Whatever, coconut is coconut and I still have a jar of a tasty oat topper :)

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I felt my intense food processing was adequate warm-up for my first outdoor run of the season!! A momentous occasion indeed. According to my blog archives, November 14 was the last time I ran outdoors (in similar conditions actually – 6C, or 42F).

After exactly four months of running maybe 5-10 miles a week on the treadmill, I had absolutely no expectations for today’s run. I didn’t get to take my favourite trail as parts of it are still snow covered. Instead, I took the more populated road to downtown along the river. A quick out-and-back route that took me about 29 minutes. One thing I noticed right away is that my cardiovascular abilities have improved a lot! I wasn’t huffing and puffing like I used to and my heart didn’t feel like it was going to beat out of my chest :P It’s definitely going to take my legs a little while to adjust again though. They were a little shocked today!

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Solid run folks. Felt good to dust off my running hat :D

It was 4pm by the time I got back, and I technically hadn’t eaten a “real meal” since my breakfast cookie (ie just lots of snacks to hold me over). So I dug deep into my cupboards and came up with this:

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Canned salmon and Health Valley lentil soup.

It was still missing something though, so I then burrowed into the freezer and pulled out this:

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I never have any memory of buying these blocks of spinach, and yet there’s always some in my freezer?

After a little curry, maple syrup and 15 minutes to simmer on the stove, I had this fabulous bowl:

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Impressed. I’ll definitely be buying this lentil soup again! I’ve heard people complain that Health Valley is bland because it has no salt, but I just see it as a blank canvas. I can add any flavouring I want!

After dinner I put an official end to No Grocery Week and spent a ludicrous amount of money on groceries, undoing all the savings from this past week. A stocked fridge just makes me happy :)

Then it was off to another play being put on at my university. Technically, more “work” but watching plays doesn’t really feel like work. Once again I was impressed by the talent my school has to offer!

Now it’s waaaay past my bedtime. Not to mention, losing an hour tonight with Daylight Savings! Hope y’all had a great Saturday!

 

Question of the Day: Do you exercise outdoors in the winter? I don’t. It gets cold and I just can’t handle the harsh air. Especially when it comes to running, it’s dangerous with the ice! And then there’s the summer, where I have to be out there at 5am before the insane heat sets in. Yes, I am a running princess :P

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