Fighting back against chronic pain with a simple, creative, & healthy lifestyle. Inspiring others to become warriors.

Monday, March 11, 2019

I was chatting with my sister this past Monday about health and options. She's got a house full of hungry kids and she's trying to make healthier choices for herself and her family. Trying to get away from the S.A.D. diet. The Standard American Diet.

She laughed when she said nothing in her pantry is healthy and didn't want to throw it out. I came up with the idea that when something runs out, buy a healthier alternative.

So she asked me to find healthier alternatives for granola bars first, so let's get into the thick of it.

When I think granola bars I'm instantly transported back to childhood and the nostalgic flavor of the gooey Quaker Oats Chocolate Chip granola bar washes over me.

If I'm going to find healthier alternatives then I'm first going to the Quaker Oats website:

Information taken from Quaker.com

I'm going to bold all the words for sugar.

Ingredients

GRANOLA (WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, BROWNSUGAR, CRISP RICE [RICE FLOUR, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT], WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, SOYBEAN OIL, DRIED COCONUT, WHOLE WHEATFLOUR, SODIUM BICARBONATE, SOY LECITHIN, CARAMEL COLOR, NONFAT DRYMILK), SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, COCOABUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA EXTRACT), CORN SYRUP, BROWN RICE CRISP (WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE, SUGAR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, SALT), INVERTSUGAR, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, GLYCERIN, SOYBEAN OIL. CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SORBITOL, CALCIUM CARBONATE, SALT, WATER, SOY LECITHIN, MOLASSES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), CITRIC ACID.
CONTAINS WHEAT, COCONUT, SOY AND MILK INGREDIENTS.
MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF PEANUT AND OTHER TREE NUTS.

Holy crap that's a lot of sugar. They should call it Crack-er Oats for the chemical addiction your brain must have to them.

via GIPHY


I guess the first question I have is, is this a snack or a meal replacement or dessert? (Hint: These granola bars should be treated as a dessert)

I'm approaching this from the standpoint of this is a snack. The kind of snack you would partake in after a day of school before you sit down to do your homework or run off to your part time job.

Also, transitioning from the S.A.D. diet can be hard so you many want to start with something on the sweeter side and transition to things like veggies and protein snacks.

I'm also approaching this from the standpoint of convenience, price, and ease. My sister is a chronic pain warrior as well so she needs something that is easy to throw together.

If you shop through any of my links in this post, you help support this blog at zero cost to you. Thank you for your support.

14 Healthier Alternatives to Granola Bars

1. 100 Calorie Almond Packs

A Quaker Oat bar boasts that it is 100 calories, but it's empty calories because of sugar. It would be better to invest in the 100 calorie nut packs.


2. Rolled Up Turkey Slices

Everybody needs more protein. Take 2 - 3 slices of a lean turkey or chicken lunchmeat and put your favorite spread on them. I'm crazy for Maille Mustard. Put a small handful of spinach leaves in them and roll them up. Close with a toothpick. Boom! Super simple to make and very cost effective. You can even throw in pre-shredded carrots!


3. Two Clementines (and maybe a handful of nuts to balance the carbohydrates)

Two clementines clock in at 70 calories and they have 60% of your daily recommendation of Vitamin C. They are sweet but they are a natural sugar. Simple to peel and very portable, it's so easy to throw into a backpack or purse. You can get crazy big bags of them at any grocery store!
4. Apples

Let's get fancy ya'll. This is my current favorite snack. A sliced up apple sprinkled with half a handful of bare chocolate coconut chips and another nut, like pistachios or almonds. You get that hint of chocolate but there is no dairy or soy, and they are sweetened with coconut sugar which does not have the glycemic reaction that normal sugar creates. The coconut has a bit of protein to balance it out.




If you really want to get that bar experience in, then I suggest the next two bars:

5. Larabars

Today at Costco I saw a 20 pack for $13.49. That's a great price. Amazon has good prices of Larabars too. Some do contain sugar so read the label. I will put some of my favorites below. Note that for a snack these should be cut in half! Unless it is a meal replacement don't eat the whole thing. They're around 200-250 calories a bar so a 16 pack, is really a 32 pack.



6. RX Bars for Kids

I had to rope #breadwinnerbff into this one. So I gave her a ring and asked what she feeds her kids. Half the price of the normal RX bar and half the size which is good because this is a snack, not a meal replacement. Normal size RX Bars are a meal replacement.


I asked her about KIND Bars and she said, "they're a candy bar."
7. Deviled Eggs (or Angel Eggs depending on where you are from)

Protein is good and so are eggs! According to WebMD, they have 7 grams of high-quality protein, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin.

Everytime I bring a platter of Deviled Eggs to a summer BBQ they disappear with in seconds. Why wait for summer BBQ's? Eggs are cheap and some stores even have already boiled eggs in a bag.

You can keep the eggs for up to four days in the fridge. In order to do this, keep the whites and egg yolk filling separate. Wrap the egg white halves well with plastic wrap and keep the egg yolk filling sealed in a Ziploc bag with all the air squeezed out (which is how you mix them anyway). Just fill when your kids (or you) are ready for a snack.

8. Watermelon

Watermelon season is just around the corner. This is a great hydrating snack for the summertime. Watermelon also contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene, and betaine.

According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits, including sun protection, improved heart health and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

9. Frozen Grapes

These are a delicious snack, just make sure you fill up a small bowl instead of eating straight from the bag. These are great for a good transition from S.A.D. diet because they are a sweet treat but still has health benefits.
10. Unsweetened Go-Go Applesauce

This is an easy to go, mass produced item that actually isn't that bad for you. Amazon has a 48 pack for around twenty bucks!
11. Ants on a Log

Cut up celery or get the precuts in the store. Top with almond butter or peanut butter (read the label and make sure there is no sugar added, check out my post on the different names for sugar) and raisins. You can also get fancy and top them with apple juice sweetened dried cranberries. Just make sure the cranberries don't have added sweetner.

12. Baby Carrots

Carrots are a great end stage transision snack. It's a veggie that does have sweetness due to a higher sugar content then most veggies. However, still a great snack. Especially when paired with my favorite Paleo Ranch Dressing.

13. Bananas

Natural beta blocker and easies anxiety are great qualities as a fruit. Start out by eating ripe bananas when you are making the transation from the S.A.D. diet to your healthier lifestyle.

14. Greek Yogurt with Berries and a Squirt of Raw Honey

Accoriding to all of the new research fat is good for you. I'll tell you to watch Fed Up, a great documentary about the sugar industry and the sugar lobbies in the government, but you may not have 2 hours. Instead watch this short clip from Adam Ruins Everything, which is a great summary of the Fed Up documentary.


So get out there and buy some full fat greek yogurt. Top a 1/2c of yogurt with a handful of berries, strawberries, blueberries, etc. and a tablespoon or less of raw honey.

During this transition phase if you or your kids find themselves still hungry, make sure the snack is eaten in conjuction with 16 oz of water, 2 glasses. Too many people mistake hungriness for thirst.

Let's not forget that boredom can also lead to unnecessary snacking. It is national craft month. Pick up something and learn or get outside and enjoy the weather.

Hell, one of the main reasons I knit and crochet is so I don't snack in front of the TV.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Sometimes I definitely fit into the basic white bitch category. It's never more apparent than when I get my FabFitFun subscription box. Yes, I'm a bad ass chronic pain warrior that defies the odds every single day but I love getting things. I do.

Self care is important and this is one of the things I look forward to. It gives me hope and excitement and those are some of the best painkillers around!

Whatever phrase you want to use here feel free but I think the kids are calling it 'extra' these days. I think my generation would say I'm outta control with my box or I'm such a drama queen about my box.

I'm so extra with my box. I love it and I hate to say it but I'd rather cancel Hulu than give up my subscription box. I might even cancel Crunchyroll.

via GIPHY

I didn't write about my winter box because it came right before Tiger's death and I just couldn't bring myself to open it. The emotion of the event was wrapped up in with the tangible, sitting right there on my dresser, a reminder that my dog was gone and my life was different.

That said, I have been looking forward to my Spring box. When my email came to pick my choices for my box, I was psyched! I also got an add on which I will talk about later.

Weirdly, I was a little disappointed I got it February 28. I actually waited for the next day to open it, that way it would officially be March and spring would be ushered in soon. Although, as I type this it's 37 outside, with a wind chill of 27. Ugh, I know it's much colder in certain parts of the country but that is too cold for this Texas girl!

Plus, I haven't seen the actual sun in a month. It's been cloudy and rainy every damn day. No way in hell I could live in a place that's cloudy more than 50% of the year.

So onto the box.


FabFitFun Spring 2019 Box

First of all, the design is always fabulous but they have updated their logo. I like the vibe the new one has, more organic instead of geometric.

If you've never subscribed to a subscription box let me school you on what it is. Basically, it's a box of curated items sent to you for you to enjoy. There's a category for everything, the self-explanatory Snack Crate or Loot Crate (which caters to geek and nerd culture).

Fabfitfun has a little of everything, gadgets, healthcare, crafts, skincare, makeup, to purses and handbags. Heck, this month they even had a bathrobe in 'choices.'

So 'choices...'

I'm a premiere subscriber, actually I don't even know if that is the correct term, but it means I pay for my whole year up front instead of month to month. There's a benefit in that, meaning I get to choose some of my items.
I choose the, body brush, water bottle, the essential oil diffuser, and then I had them pick for me the last one, because I couldn't make a choice. I got the sunglasses.

I think I'm most excited about the charcoal body scrub since I'm about to run out of my current one. I'm less excited about the Babe Lash lash serum because I've heard those products can change blue eyes to brown. So not worth it, besides I was graced by the gods with amazing eyelashes.

I've set the diffuser up on my bed table, so I can diffuse my sleepy essential oil mix...which I guess is worth posting. I'll get on that soon. The diffuser also came with a meditation app subscription but I already use Headspace.

The water bottle is clean and ready to go. I haven't used it yet because it's so cold I've been heating up my water in the microwave, so I've been sticking to glass jars.

The OUAI leave in conditioner, I may give to someone that needs it. I'm super happy with my hair products right now. The Dr. Brandt No More Baggage may also be given away, puffiness is not a problem I have right now, just dark circles.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019



Two weeks ago, I posted a great video on getting rid of shoulder, trapezius, and neck knots.

One of the things in the video he mentioned was self massage using a device that looks like a giant cane.

Well, I've had this for years since my massage therapist mentioned it to me back in my twenties. Apparently, I've had these knots for a while and maybe if I had dedicated my time and energy in my twenties, I wouldn't be in the bad shape I'm in today.
How to Get Rid of Neck and Shoulder Knots

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It's called a back buddy.




It was buried in the back of my closet and after I saw Tighten and Tone's video on 10 Things to Try for Knots, I went digging to find my back buddy.

I've been using it off and on for two weeks in conjuction with the exercises and I must admit, my knots are not causing nearly as much pain as they had been. My shoulder still hurts like hell, so after my month of trying to resolve the situation on my own, it's back to my orthopedic surgeon for a re-eval.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Every year of my adult life since 2009 I have met my out of pocket maximum on my medical insurance. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you don't have severe medical problems or you have an HMO.

I want to make it clear that I am well aware of my priveledge to have and have had medical insurance since graduating college. I don't know the numbers of uninsured Americans, but if you are one of those then my heart goes out to you. I don't know how you do it, let alone survive.

However, this post is about tracking your medical expenses in the hopes to get a nice tax deduction and $$$ back from the government.

How to Track Your Medical Expenses

I'm not going to get into the merits of HMO vs PPO suffice to say that if you have no medical problems get the HMO, if you have legit medical problems, Type 1 Diabetes, Chrons, or like me, Adhesive Arachnoiditis, you want the PPO.

Why? Well, after I meet my deductable, then I start paying a percentage of each visit or procedure. Once I reach a certain amount spent out of my wallet, I don't have to spend any more and the insurance picks up everything at 100%.

I'll save the nitty gritty of HMO vs PPO for another post.

Since 2016, I know I've done a diservice to our finances by not tracking what we are spending medically. Even though I reach my out of pocket maximum that doesn't include perscriptions, and now other things can be covered by FSA's like massages and acupuncture.

via GIPHY

I need to take advantage of this in 2019 and start now with writing down monthly expenses.

I have alotted a page in my bujo next to personal expenses for this, now the tricky part is filling it in, or in my case, finding the time and energy to fill it in. Shame I didn't think of this when I was setting up my bullet journal in December.

via GIPHY

Monday, March 4, 2019

Happy National Craft Month! If you shop through any of my links in this post, you help support this blog at zero cost to you. Thank you for your support.

I don't think it's a secret how much I love sewing, or maybe it is? However, if you had met me 10 years ago (Holy crap! That's 29 year old me!) sewing wouldn't have been on my radar at all. In fact, I was deep into my love of ceramics and beginning graduate school.
Which happened to culminate in my exhibit on ceramics and quilting, where I made 10 quilts and hand sewed my ceramics onto them. Weird how my life changed so much from the time I started grad school in 2009 to the time I finished in 2013. Then completely changed again when I got Adhesive Arachnoiditis.

Regardless, I have somehow transferred my love of quilting to one of my dear friends, #tomboybff, someone who I never suspected that would like, or get involved in quilting.

When she began her journey she asked me why I liked it and, if I remember correctly, if she thought I would think she'd like it.

Well, that sentence was confusing as all hell.

I told her I thought she would like it.
First, she's an engineer, although chemical, they are generally cut from the same brain wave cloth...organization is a stereotype for engineers for a reason. Quilting is all about organization. Patterns, shapes, and colors all cut precisely and put into a giant textile "chart."

Second, quilting is very relaxing. To me, there is nothing better for my OCD mind than a perfect rotary cut and the gorgeousness of removing wrinkles from fabric. I also love to iron. It's relaxing for me too. I know I'm weird.

Third, even though she is a total tomboy, #tomboybff, and can probably rewire my entire house, dig a trench in the backyard, and shoot some game if I asked her to, there is nothing more satisfying than being able to look at something as comforting as a quilt, a tangible heirloom and say, "I made that."

Chronic Pain Crafts: Learning to Quilt


Ok, so I know what you are thinking...Adina, I have (or maybe not) chronic pain (or stressful, sedentary life, etc.) so why is sewing so great?

Well for starters, you have to move, but you also get to sit (let's not rule out binge-watching Netflix).
I have my sewing room upstairs. I keep my ironing board down the hall in our game room. So when I need to press a seam or iron something I have to get up from my sewing machine, walk down the hall, press, and walk back.
This is key for chronic pain sufferers!

The more sedentary you are the more you will hurt.

Consistent movement is key to keeping your pain levels low. You have to move every day and believe me there were days that I literally hobbled from my sewing machine to the iron and back. However, because I did, I was able to see more low pain days.

Sewing is one of the things that I personally believe helped to get me to the low pain levels I experience today. The creative side of it saved my sanity. The movement back and forth saved my body.
Getting started.

I honestly believe that you don't need to go crazy out of your budget to get started. You just need basic equipment to just determine if this is something you think you want to get into.

Truly, we all could use a sewing machine in our houses. I can't tell you the times I've kept clothes from the bin with it. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Weirdly, a sewing machine is an investment that benefits you, your house, and frankly the environment. Besides it way cheaper to make your own throw pillows than to buy them!
My first sewing machine was the Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine. It made 10 quilts before it died so I counted that as a good investment. I have it listed below, along with some others that would do, just to see if you liked it. They are cheaper than an Xbox One...just sayin'



Alternatively, you can check Craig's List for sewing machine's. My #bubblegirltwinbff got a really expensive Janome (an awesome, bad ass sewing machine for those of you not in the know) for free. She checks the "free stuff" section daily and scored it because it was someone's grandmother's machine and they were moving and just wanted it gone.

Then you just need basics, a rotary cutter and mat, thread and needles, batting and such...


You also need to know what you are making, as I was saying last week, Skillshare has everything, including classes on quilting.

If you are interested, use my link and get 2 Free Premium Months. Signing up under my link is no cost to you at all and helps a starving health blogger out.

I found a perfect project to get your feet wet. Sew and Quilt a Handmade Tablerunner - a DIY Project - Skillshare

A table runner is a small quilt so you will learn all the skills you need to make a larger one, plus cool lingo like charm squares. Sounds charming right? Couldn't resist.

You should have an iron and ironing board, and you can use the kitchen counter if you don't have a table to cut fabric on. In fact, I sewed most of my quilts on a plastic folding table at grad school and when home at our table. Which I should clarify was not a big dining table, it was a round dinette set where I sewed.

When I knew this was going to be a lifelong habit, I upgraded everything, and you can too. Just find out if you like it first, and I think you will.
Me? I'm working on a quilt too. When we went to Hawaii I found a quilt shop in Maui. There is no better souvenir than me making a quilt from vintage Hawaiian fabric. Hopefully, I'll have the topper done by the end of the month. This one is a queen so I'm going to have to send it out to get it sandwiched together.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Citrus season is almost upon us. I'm super psyched for all the spring veggies and fruits to get here.

This is one of #leohusband's favorite dishes that I've made since way back when. I haven't made it in a while and when I saw the grapefruits coming out in the supermarket I just knew it was time. It's cooling and delicious, perfect for those upcoming Spring picnics.

If you shop through any of my links in this post, you help support this blog at zero cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Paleo Chilled Mint and Grapefruit Dessert


Ingredients:
1/2 cup of mint leaves, loosely packed
6 grapefruit (you can mix and match different kinds)
1/4 - 1/2 cup of coconut sugar

Supplies:
Cutting board
Sharp paring knife
Hand Juicer
Large covered bowl
Get my Paring Knife
The Victorinox

My Favorite Hand Juicer

Make it!

You will want to chill this for at least 4 hours before serving so the mint has time to meld with the juice.

Working over a large bowl to catch the extra juice, you are going to peel off the rinds of 5 of the grapefruits in a circular motion, until the rind is gone. It may take you a couple of try's but go slow and concentrate on what you are doing, you will get the hang of it and be a pro. Still working over the bowl, you are going to slip the knife in between the membranes to cut the fruit out and have it drop into the bowl.
Once you have the fruit removed, take your hand juicer and juice the last grapefruit. Add the coconut sugar, start with a 1/4 and then see if you need to add more.

Add the mint leaves and cover the bowl. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Keeps for 3 days if it can last that long.

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