Alcohol for Health?

Alcohol for Health?

Here to talk to you about happy hour today!
One of my favorite macronutrients (second to carbs): alcohol. I was shocked to find out that alcohol is considered a macro, along with protein, carbs, and fat, NOT because it’s nutritious (spoiler: it’s not), but because it’s consumed in large amounts. oops.

What is moderation?

Moderate drinking is 1 drink/day for women, and 2 drinks/day for men, not because the laws of drinking are sexist, but because men typically have more lean body mass, which makes the alcohol easier to metabolize.

It has suddenly occurred to me how remarkably basic I am, struck by the realization of HOW MANY PRETTY DRINK PHOTOS I have taken over the years…cheers?!

What’s considered “a drink”?

I didn’t make the rules, Sandy; The CDC did, and they say that a drink is:
– 12 oz of beer with 5% alcohol content, or
– 8 oz of malt liquor
– 5 oz wine
-1.5 oz of 80 proof distilled spirits or liquor, like whiskey, gin, rum, or vodka

What’s heavy drinking?
-more than 8 drinks/week for women
-more than 15 drinks/week for men
^that seems unfair, right? But I digress.

What’s binge drinking?
-more than 4 drinks in a single occasion for women
-more than 5 drinks in a single occasion for me

I was also mildly taken aback when I read THAT ^ was what was considered binge drinking. In my earlier twenties, I spent so much time technically binge drinking on patios, at the beach, while studying, etc. Also- if you think you’re being easy on your liver by binge drinking, but not heavy drinking over time- that is incorrect! When we get drunk, we activate a secondary system in our liver called the MEOS pathway to metabolize alcohol- this takes a LOT of energy, and our bodies preferentially metabolize alcohol over pain meds, etc to remove it from our body as efficiently as possible. This will enable meds to remain in your body longer since your body is a little preoccupied with getting rid of the alcohol, so be vigilant! Know if your meds are metabolized by your liver before drinking. Does your RX bottle warn you about drinking? Part of drinking is being responsible, and that includes knowing how your medications work in your body.

I have since slowed down substantially on drinking; it disagrees with my ulcerative colitis situation on many occasions (alcohol kills GI cells!), and I’m at point where I’d rather be pain-free than buzzed. Plus, as it turns out, combating depression and anxiety with alcohol is maybe not the best idea.
*laughs nervously*



But I thought red wine was good for you?


Not untrue! This study mentions resveratrol and potentially other polyphenols in wine that have anti-inflammatory benefits. However, there is no evidence that you should start drinking if you don’t- you can achieve health with a mostly healthy, consistent diet alone, without help from alcohol. Similar results were found in this study– where the good parts of wine alone weren’t helpful in improving longevity, cancer outcomes, or inflammation with a Western (aka mostly American) diet. Bottom line: red wine, in combination with a healthy overall diet, like the Mediterranean diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is beneficial for overall and cardiovascular health, but not wine by itself.

red wine + healthy diet with fruits, veggies, whole grains = healthy
red wine + cheeseburgers + fries + rarely if ever fruits, veggies, whole grains = not ideal for health
-we can’t rely on red wine alone to save our diets and remove our risk factors for diseases, sadly.

And if there’s a takeaway from this post- it’s everything in moderation. I even defined moderation for you! Technically, the CDC did, but you can reference it here. ūüôā

Unfortunately, I haven’t found any studies about the health effects of margaritas. But when I do, you’ll be the first to know. Who knows, maybe margaritas are the next superfoods smoothie?!
Here’s to wishful thinking.

Cheers!

For more info about alcohol from the CDC









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The Suckage of My Twenties

I consider myself to be a chaser of silver-linings. I’m not comfortable in the dark and twisty, and I’m not a super-fan of hangin’ out by myself, even though I am workin’ on it. I can mentally muster the strength to find the good in the bad most days.

For my twenties as a whole? NAH. Pass.

I’m 27. I’m fully confident to report that my twenties have sucked.
SO MUCH SUCKAGE.
The curated world of instagram, with the influencers and their crystals and their latte art, really wants you to know that life is rainbows, but I’m giving myself (and anyone else who needs it) permission: it’s cool if life sucks sometimes. xo. I mean- it’s not cool. It’s miserable.
But it’s common, it’s life, and you’re not alone in the suckage.

What do you mean by “suckage”?


hospital suckage^

Well- living below the poverty line, being sick, taking jobs that are (by the best stretch of my imagination) SHITTTTTTTY, getting acquainted with managing anxiety, realizing that bills just never stop (especially medical bills. like…I just paid you. Why do I now owe $500 WITH health insurance?!). GAAAAADDAMMMMMIT.

evidence of shitty job

I frequently thank God for the future. I also thank God for the present, but I mean… the future has GOT to get better. I thank God for prosperity, and I hang visual reminders and affirmations on my wall. I move my body, eat good things, do the right stuff, and the present is still hard sometimes often.
I thank God for now, strength, resiliency, but I get excited to thank God for future job stress, future co-workers, for future kids, and a life that I have worked hard for (please see: twenties).

In the shower, where I do my best critical thinking, I visualize my mornings that I’m excited to have:
– humid morning long runs earlllllyyyy in the morning, getting into my car: an International Scout with a “Save the Dolphins” license plate. I have to turn the wipers on briefly because of the humidity (I love sweaty, humid, morning runs). My Scout looks like a beach cruiser, and that’s cool because it’s very Stacey- so very me. We live in Texas, because that’s where home is for both of us.
– I get home, and my Zack is waiting for me reading the paper or listening to news podcasts (because he already does this. He’s an old man that I love). He’s overwhelmed about his job(s) in a good way. I tell him that I need to hurry and get an article published for Runners World, because a deadline is approaching. I need to get my morning conquered before I leave for another job/dropping kids off places, etc. WE ARE LIVIN OUR CRAZY DREAMS.
– I visualize our kitchen in detail. It has a huge island, and it’s functional. We have a few moments together before kids wake up (I can hear moms laughing at me, but it’s my future on the BEST day, okay?!).

And I thank God for all the steps it takes to get to this ^ morning. I daydream about it so, so frequently. So, so often. I know being in the present moment is important, but I am a big believer in vivid day-dreams. I’m holding on to this one until it’s a real morning. I promise to update you when it is, but I’m going to need you to be patient with me, because I’m currently in the thick of my twenties, simultaneously wanting them to be over and not wanting to wish time away.

Here’s to overcoming the suckage…one daydream at a time.

Do your twenties suck too? Did they? Did you survive them? HOW?
Do you daydream, too?


Feelin’ Myself on a Monday Morning

Feelin’ Myself on a Monday Morning

I keep reading books written by entrepreneurs, listening to podcasts by the greats like Oprah, and they all talk about taking control of your morning.

I’m not going to lie. There are some days that I don’t have a handle on things. I’ve been fighting through and sitting with depression and anxiety, and I’m not quite out of the hole and done healing just yet. On the bad days I am giving myself permission and grace to just have a bad day, pure and simple, free from guilt, and if that means that I need to sleep through the morning, or spend all day watching “How I Met Your Mother” re-runs, so be it.

But when I’m on my A-game and feelin’ like myself…I love the mornings. The whole world feels like it’s mine in the morning- unbothered by busy traffic, lines at coffee shops, or the sound of my phone going off. I love the gold light tones of the morning sun, the sound of the birds, and I wake up pretty damn chipper most days.

I have realized that it doesn’t take much to make me feel centered, but I understand what the greats are talking about…having control of my morning makes me feel empowered, fierce, beyonce-like, and ready to conquer the day.

What makes me feel centered and 100% myself? Oh- glad you asked.
music in the morning. Good stuff, like Creedence, Frank Sinatra, or lately I’ve been into Bob Seager (old soul here)
coffee– just a cup, maybe 12 oz if I’m feelin’ like I need a divine intervention. Pretty sure my resting heart-rate is something similar to a hummingbird’s, so I don’t over-do it.
movement. I’m a movement in the morning kind of person- but I understand that not everyone is like that. When I say “movement” I don’t mean crossfit- that’s not true to me, and I get stressed when people are yelling at me to move. I mean walking my dog, doing yoga on the back porch, hitting up a quick barre class, or going for a solo run.
stillness. Headspace app- thank you, Jesus.
creating. I need to write in the mornings. I need to journal, or blog, or hand-letter the shit out of something motivational, but I must create to feel 100%. If I have nothing to give, then I need to read something positive and fueling to my brain.
food. colorful and flavorful, sometimes in the form of a smoothie.

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Pictured above is my vision board in my home office/home gym/ bathroom. It’s a multi-purpose room, but I still set some real, attainable intention. I wrote affirmations that force me to look at them daily, and I printed out photos that remind me of who I am/want to be more of, goals, reminders, etc. If I don’t have visual aids to remind me to set intention and live my fullest freakin’ life, then I’m not sure if I’d remember to do it, and this helps me.

I also realized that I hate fake plants, but I’m keeping the guy anyway for now, because I’m not quite at a place in life where I can nurture a real plant hanging on my wall.

How do you set intention? What brings you back to feeling like yourself?

A Life-Changing Diagnosis & 5 Ways to Cope

A Life-Changing Diagnosis & 5 Ways to Cope

The question I get asked most often by friends and strangers alike is, “How did you know something was wrong?”

Please don’t use my experience in lieu of a doctor’s professional opinion. If you think something is wrong…go get checked out!¬†

Okay. Here’s my story:

Once upon a time in early Fall at a coffee shop on campus at The University of Texas at Austin in 2012, I began having excruciating stomach cramps. When I say the word excruciating, I mean excruciating. Unbearable. The BEST way I can describe the pain¬†for the sake of being relatable…have you ever had a violent stomach virus?¬†Multiply the frequency of¬†your symptoms¬†to several times a day and night, for weeks. Then you get me.

I excused myself a couple¬†times over the duration of my brief¬†meet-up with a friend at the coffee shop. “Guess I should switch the chai lattes to soy,” I thought to myself.

But the pain and the symptoms weren’t alleviated by¬†omitting¬†dairy. Within weeks even ice chips resulted in¬†pain, followed by 10-15 wind sprints to the bathroom.
X rated version: I knew something was wrong when I noticed that my stools consisted almost entirely of blood, and nothing seemed to offer even a hint of relief¬†(not even drinking imodium from a straw…not recommended, by the way).¬†

About a week and a half later, I made an appointment with University Health Services; they accommodated me¬†quickly when I described my symptoms. They prescribed¬†me high-powered antibiotics, which didn’t phase my symptoms. “Come back in 8 days for a follow-up.” I noticed that I had already lost twelve pounds when I weighed in with the nurse before my appointment.

I found a local gastroenterologist, without a referral from a professional. Something had to be resolved fast.

At the time I would wake up two hours before class began (after a night of restlessness because of constant stomach cramps and running to the bathroom), to ensure that I would arrive to class in time, allotting plenty of time for bathroom stops in the buildings on my way to class until I was finally able to make it to my class. I received permission from my professors to record their lectures during this time, because I would have to sneak out of class three or four times to be sick. This went on for a few weeks.

During my first appointment with the¬†gastroenterologist, he scheduled a colonoscopy for the next day, and so began my life of poking, prodding, stool samples, blood samples, and biopsies. The prep juice wasn’t bad because I was pretty clear from shitting thirty times a day…still not entirely sure what the big fuss over colonoscopies is all about.

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THE DIAGNOSIS
After my colonoscopy the doctor read my diagnosis, “You have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. There’s no cure, but there are treatment options. You’ll be monitoring this disease for the rest of your life.”

Honestly, I was pretty certain that I was dying of cancer. When I was diagnosed, almost three weeks beyond my very first noticeable symptom at the coffee shop, I had lost twenty-five pounds. I looked like a bag of bones.¬†¬†I was weirdly relieved¬†to have “ulcerative colitis” as a diagnosis. Having answers makes all the difference.

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Taken two days before my scope at 102 pounds

(During this time¬†I got recruited by Abercrombie model scouts on campus for a live audition.¬†They were quickly educated…thanks to the prednisone and my lack of sleep.)

All that I had heard about “ulcerative colitis” was a brief overview in a pharmacology course, and I knew that Crohn’s was its cousin, both under the umbrella of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)…not exactly enough for me to understand what the heck the doc was talking about. He explained that my immune system was hyperactive, recognizing even food as a foreign substance that needed to be expelled immediately.
Not cool, immune system. Not cool.
My body was rebelling against my colon. Why? Could be genetics, or the environment (e.g. toxins, antibiotics altering gut bacteria), or an interaction between the two.

“What can I eat?”

“Eat whatever you want. Since you’re a bit underweight, drink as much dark beer as you want. Eat burgers.”

^ Never made sense to me. UC is an¬†autoimmune digestive¬†disease in my gut, where most of the immune system is located, and I’m being told to eat whatever I want?¬†Too good to be true. I knew immediately that dairy and beef physically hurt to eat, so I eliminated those. Next to go was processed meats and fast food, because no way are those beneficial. To my surprise there¬†were still plenty of good options to eat, despite¬†being in college and on a budget. Good food didn’t have to be expensive. I began researching which foods to eat to help with inflammation, since UC is an inflammatory disease, and I¬†tried to eat more of those helpful foods: leafy greens, grilled fish, lean meats, and blueberries became my go-tos. And so began my interest in nutrition. I watched it help me, change me, and I dreamed of how it could help the people I love. Present day Stacey is in school again pursuing a dietetics degree.

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THE MEDS
After my scope, the doc handed me a paper folder full of info pamphlets and immediately¬†prescribed me an IV biologic & immunosuppressant: Remicade. MANY people ask, “Why did you decide to be on such a high octane medication?”¬†At the time I didn’t feel a like I had much of a choice. Looking back, I still would’ve agreed to such aggressive treatment, because I felt (and looked) like I was actually dying. It’s different for everyone, but for me it was serious at the time. I mean. I LOST OVER 25 POUNDS IN THREE WEEKS, PEOPLE.

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I remember¬†my first infusion, walking into a dimly lit infusion suite with recliners¬†bordering the walls, each with a patient¬†hooked up to an IV pole. Some were asleep, others read books, flipped through their phones, and a few watched HGTV buzzing in the background on the televisions. Not all the patients had Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, some had rheumatoid arthritis, MS, and a host of other autoimmune conditions.¬†This¬†was the first time I realized that my life would not be the normal I remembered. I needed medication from an IV so I could live life like I remembered living. Weird.

Overnight, I felt like I had gone from being a normal, healthy, social college student to a smaller, weaker shell of myself: spending more time alienated by my symptoms; a more vulnerable person, more medicated, with less autonomy over my own health. I bought a pill pack from the pharmacy store that looked like the one my grandmother carried in her oversized old-lady purse, so I could keep up with my new lifestyle.

In addition, I was prescribed pain and sleeping aids (which I never took), along with a hefty dose of Prednisone, a corticosteroid. Jesus and steroids saved my life, and I honestly believe that. Prednisone was the only oral medication that seemed to ever work.
But I hated it.

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On the left: steroid-free!¬†Right: “Moon Face” side effect in full swing after a flare, taken seven months apart

Steroids¬†were great in college, because I felt very energetic (almost jittery) while taking Prednisone, so even on little sleep I was able to get a lot accomplished. However, the mood swings made¬†me feel like a¬†crazy pants to say the very least,¬†so I avoid Prednisone¬†at all costs today. I also like to sleep…and I have the hardest time sleeping when I’m on the ‘roids (disclaimer: not the same anabolic steroids that give you muscles…womp womp)

LIFE AFTER DIAGNOSIS
Slowly but surely, my energy levels began to creep back up to normal. I got my life back. ¬†Sure, I had to make some adjustments here and there (still learning), but heyyy I’m alive!

I graduated with a pretty decent GPA, even with a hospital stay, despite my family’s pleading¬†for me to take a medical leave of absence from college. I never asked for a project deadline extension. I honestly look back on this time in life and think, “How?” But I was in survivor mode. Don’t say “I could never.” You could. And you would.

I got into the working world, took some time to get a Crohn’s diagnosis, had a doc switch diagnosis¬†back to “ulcerative colitis”, changed shifts, changed jobs, conquered anxiety, and got to know myself really well. Wasn’t glamorous, and wasn’t what I anticipated, but it’s okay! I’m okay.

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LEARNING TO COPE
1. Haters Gonna Hate
People will criticize you whether or not it’s warranted. I have been criticized¬†for being a “pill popper”; for¬†“taking the easy way out” with the infusion (that one is beyond me); for being “too stressed”; for not taking a medical leave of absence from college; for drinking beer; for the way I eat.¬†People don’t mean to be as nasty as they can be sometimes; they simply¬†don’t know your situation. I control as much as I can with diet, but I’m also human and sometimes I slip up or make conscious decisions to indulge.¬†The meds¬†help where nutrition cannot for me. My dream is to be 100% in remission with diet, but I’m not there yet.¬†I can’t advise YOU if you were recently diagnosed on which course¬†of action you should take. This disease is different for everyone. What works for one person may¬†NOT work for another. It’s all about figuring out what works for YOU until there’s a cure. But shake off the negativity. You’re living with this- YOU are the badass.

2. Keep your people close
There will be people in your life who are with you during your diagnosis, and I don’t just mean the people who happen to be around. Who is WITH you? Who is there keeping you strong? These are the people you want around forever. For me that’s my sister, my college roommates, and my Zack. Story time 2.0:

One night in my apartment that I shared with friends, I was THE most physically ill I had been in my life, sick from both ends for hours and hours (pretty, huh?). I called Zack and begged him to come over. He spent the entire night on the phone with pharmacists, arguing with my doctor about medications, all while I slept on the bathroom floor in between being sick. Finally, around 4am, after much harassing Zack managed to get me some anti-nausea meds. My gawsh, the guy is a saint.

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¬†He fought with me. He went to bat for me. He never judged. He didn’t do good things for reward. He was just there, beside me, gutting it out¬†with me. And so were my roommates. The BEST people I know.

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After Roommate Haley’s UT Graduation, the Spring after the diagnosis. We rewarded our girl bossery by finishing a¬†sprint triathlon

I promised myself that if I ever had the energy again to move, then I would. Sounds overly emo, I know. But y’all. I really struggled with weakness for so long.¬†So my roommate and I¬†did this thing ^. Not pictured: Roommate Becca, still one of my greatest friends, probably drinking a mimosa at the finish while¬†snapping this photo.¬†
KEEP YA PEOPLE CLOSE.

3. It gets better
There will be times when you think, “TF HAPPENED? I was doing¬†so good! Where’d these symptoms come from?” This will pass. It will get better. You will prevail. You’ll come out stronger with every flare. You’ll live to tell about it, and you’ll develop a pretty damn good sense of humor from it, too.

4. Find your silver lining
There may¬†be days when you shit yourself in your car while in traffic. It’s okay to cry about it, but then try to find some humor in that. ¬†When you’re in a flare and EVERYTHING makes you sick, think about all the amazing Netflix you’ll be able to watch. “I won’t be able to do this when I’m better.” ¬†Think about all the food you CAN eat. If none¬†of those options work, recognize¬†how this has changed your life. I wasn’t interested at all in¬†nutrition before this disease, and now it is my life. I sho wasn’t going to run before UC, and now it’s my hobby.

5.¬†You’re still you
You’re still you, but you’re more relatable. You’ve seen struggling, and SO.MANY.PEOPLE. are struggling. You’ve seen sickness, and SO.MANY.PEOPLE. are sick. You’ve seen recovery, and people NEED to find their strength to recover. Help them find it. See this as a weird superpower.¬†This disease doesn’t define you, but if you let it, it will make you a better, bigger, badder, stronger, gassier(?) version of you. You’re still you, only better.

Please let me know how any unexpected life situations have changed YOUR life! ¬†I’m with¬†you.¬†Solidarity!

Keep moving forward ūüôā

-Stacey

OH! And have a great Monday! There is such a thing, I promise.

Wedding Recap: Georgetown, TX

Wedding Recap: Georgetown, TX

This post obviously has nothing to do with running or food. But it’s a pretty cool part of life that I’d like to remember, and I thought, “HEY! Maybe someone else is planning a wedding and would like to creep on mine???”

So… in honor of receiving the¬†wedding photos (from our amazing¬†photographer),¬†here’s one of the most fun¬†days of my life:

7:00 am: Wake up Call

We stayed the night at the cozy cabins located onsite at the venue. I was SO NERVOUS/excited, and I’m not sure if I actually went to sleep. We woke up to a frigid seventeen degrees, a record low this year for Austin, Texas. I still had high hopes¬†completely naive wishes of having the ceremony outdoors.
We headed over to Flair Austin for our 8:00 AM hair appointments, champagne and Round Rock Donuts in hand. Disclaimer: No one felt like drinking champagne, so we just towed it around with us.

12:00 pm: Make-up

As soon as the hair fun had ended, we raced over to the venue for makeup, courtesy of Veronica Smiley, ESPN, celebrity, and freelance makeup artist (AKA miracle-worker). I felt like Samantha Ponder.
Shoutout to my face for having zits after weeks of being clean and clear.

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Zack’s dad was kind enough to deliver sandwiches for everyone, so all¬†stayed happy and full. I snacked on EPIC brand turkey jerky, wine (may or may not have been from a straw), and lots of water. I finally had to make a game time decision of where to have the ceremony due to the ridiculous cold. My bridesmaids were amazing, “It’s YOUR day. Where do YOU want to have the ceremony?” What did I do do deserve these people? We all thankfully decided on our Plan B: indoors. No way I could make people sit in 22 degrees while we said our vows!

2:30 pm: Dress

This deserves a shout-out to the photographer, Rebecca Taylor Photography. Everything was SUCH a blur and I wasn’t thinking straight most of the day, but it was her idea to pull me into the courtyard to get my mom and sisters get me into the dress. Such a sweet moment. Thank you, Becca!!!

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Earrings, a gift from Zack’s mom:

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And Zack was getting ready with his guys at the cabins at the same time:

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He look good.

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And those tuxes were fiyah.

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Zack said this was their “album cover”
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3:00 pm: “First Look”

A special moment, just for my #1 since day 1, my sweet dad:
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Love my dad ‚̧

3:30 pm: Bridal Party Pics

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Oh. My dress wasn’t ready in time for bridal portraits, but Becca miraculously made time to squeeze in a few while my gals finished getting ready. THANK YOU ‚̧

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Girl had her work cut out for her, because I am hella awkward.

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4:00 pm: Note Exchange
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4:45 pm: LET’S GET MARRIED!

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My late granddad’s wedding band was a gift to Zack from my Memaw. Zack had my ring custom made and hand-picked the diamond, and we designed my sapphire band together.

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I feel like I should maybe write a post about how we saved SO much money on our wedding, but I literally downloaded these invitations from Etsy for $12, and they were perfect.

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And I made all the signs myself #BrideOnABudget
*flips hair*

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Okay. Wedding time.

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Our ushers were the best.

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YAY!

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5:30 pm: Fajitas & Party Time

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[Really good] Speeches

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When the MOH spills a drink all over the groom… :p

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Father-Daughter Fun ‚̧
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Really surprised that our cake was amazing…our baker forgot it was our wedding day, and had to make an emergency delivery after I sent a panicked text. But it turned out GREAT!
Lemon cake with real raspberry filling. mmm.

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Devin, 3x garter toss reigning champ

Dancing with the bouquet toss winner, Lorraine Ralaine
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Invite Germans to your wedding. Let them lead the party.
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The most fun night!
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Thank you to EVERYONE who came to make us feel celebrated! You all are the reason why we had so much fun, and we hope you did too!

If I could offer any advice to anyone planning a wedding, just remember that at the end of the day, you’re going to walk away married to the person you love,¬†and that’s the ultimate goal! It doesn’t matter if your baker forgets to bring the cake, or your wedding spontaneously gets moved inside because of record breaking weather (ha)…but all those memories certainly make the day all the more fun, I promise.

ūüôā

Stacey

Shoutout to:
-Rebecca Taylor Photography, a true God-send
-Flair Austin (hair)
-Stefanie Cutler (hair)
-Veronica Smiley Makeup
-Norma, Anthony, and Angel Springs Event Center
-Mario, our amazing caterer, who even took the time to pack us to-go meals and had them ready in our car that picked us up form the reception. HOMEMADE EVERYTHING.
-Rocks With Sass (bridesmaid jewels)
-My hard-working dad
-Jesus. None of this would’ve happened without Jesus.¬†
-Lindsay (MOH & BFF) for dealing with me, and Sydney, Becca, Shelby, Christy, Hailey, Susanne, and Haley for being the greatest friends

Why did I start running?

I’ve been wanting to do this post for awhile:

Why did I start running?

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For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in 2012, the year before my college graduation. I had never heard of ulcerative colitis until my diagnosis. I remember thinking, “Thank God- it’s not cancer.” Because after two-three hellacious weeks of losing over 25 pounds and not recognizing what the heck was happening to my¬†body, I was sure that it was something drastic.

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The day before my diagnosis

I ignored people, even some who I loved, pleading with me to take a medical leave of absence; my GPA even increased during this time, probably because: 1. I was quarantined to my house with no social life since I was shitting 30 times a day, and 2. I was determined to prove that my limitations weren’t limiting me.

I remember the doctor explaining “there’s no cure, ¬†but it is treatable,” and thinking “Well, why bother telling me there’s not a cure if it’s treatable?” But I know now that what he meant was, “We’re going to try a lot of different medications, and see how you respond. Over time, they may lose efficacy, and you’re going to have to try new meds. Some of these medications may require lifestyle adjustments, like having to go to the hospital every few weeks for an infusion for the rest of your life. You’ll try dietary adjustments. You may feel anxious and face sleepless nights; you may become a person you don’t recognize; you’ll lose your hair and have weight fluctuations, but you’ll gain the best kind of people for¬†friends. You’ll have a struggling social life, but you’ll adjust. Each and every time, you’ll overcome,¬†and you’ll be stronger for it.”

^That’s what he implied. Honestly, it’s taken me years to figure out that this is a lifelong thing. Sometimes I still don’t get it.

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That year of college was memorable. I recall not knowing if I’d have the energy to make it up the stairs to class. I promised myself that if I had the ability to¬†move again, then I would.

That following May in 2013, my roommate and I completed a sprint triathlon.

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Then I graduated, moved out into the real world, found a job, and got angry.

I started researching. I realized that I wasn’t alone in this unglamorous, poop struggle, and¬†not many people talk about it¬†(not victim-blaming. It’s not a sexy disease).¬†There’s over a million people in America alone with this disease…but there’s no cure. Absurd. I was angry that there weren’t cures. I was angry that I was going to have to deal with rollercoaster flares. I was just…angry.

So I¬†thought, “I think I’ll go for a run.” Because honestly, I’m¬†rarely¬†angry. I remember being angry and upset only a handful¬†times growing up, and I went running, huffing and puffing my way around the neighborhood each time.

But this time was different. I wanted to prove to myself that I was tough, despite my weakness. I wanted to push against my limitations, and I wanted to¬†feel¬†strong. I needed to know that I was not damaged goods, and I wasn’t the diagnosis code on a medical chart, but that I was¬†even more capable than ever before in my life.
My way of dealing was running.

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After my first 13.1 in Sonoma, CA

Around my angry/I want to feel better and make some trouble on behalf of others/time of chronic badassery, I found Team Challenge¬†and trained for a half-marathon while fundraising for cures to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease- and I channeled¬†my anger into some productivity.

And today I keep running.

If you want me to be real with you, I took a break from October until this month…zero runs, because I physically and mentally couldn’t, because of a nasty flare¬†that has required¬†time, energy, and commitment to dietary adjustments and more meds to shake me outta my funk. I haven’t felt like me…

I’ve spent days in bed until nearly afternoon. I’ll drop Zack off at work, go to bed, and then pick him up after a day asleep, only to go back to sleep. He has been the real slim shady through all of this.

And it’s okay. Struggles are temporary.

Finally, my meds have started working, my dietary adjustments began healing my gut, things started clicking, and the wheels started turning.

Tonight I ran two miles without stopping. Two miles of up and over hills, around neighborhood corners, and hopping over sidewalk cracks, and I feel alive. I can feel my lungs struggling to get their rhythm, and I can feel my legs swinging happily beneath me while my feet pound the pavement, and I’m thankful for my 90’s playlist in my ears and the wind through my hair.
(Shoutout to Mother Nature for allowing me to run with my hair DOWN today- freedom!)

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In short, I run because I can and for me, that is the greatest reason of all. I don’t think about ulcerative colitis. All I think about is making it to the next light pole, around the bend. And suddenly I’m there, and I keep going. I run because I get to keep going, past my limitations and beyond sickness.
Because I can :).

Why do you run?

P.S. When I can get a bit more organized, I’m thinking of making a couch to half-marathon training list with the help of one of my running coach friends.

Sincerely,

A UC patient from the couch to a half-marathon…or two or three

 

 

Day 1 Half-Marathon Training Recap + Pick-Me-Up Morning Smoothie Recipe

Today started off with a phone call from my neighbor.

“Are you Jaxon’s owner? He’s in my living room.”

Silly me-thinking we had a morning routine, especially on gorgeous days like these.

fullsizerender¬†Jaxon normally likes to do his business and then sunbathe when it’s a warmer day, just for about ten or twenty minutes, and then he comes to the back door when he’s ready to come back inside. But today, he decided that he needed to explore beyond his monstrous back yard and travel WAY down the street to the neighbor’s house. Thank goodness for dog tags.

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Also thank goodness for friendly neighbors, because I’d be lost without my Jax. ūüė¶

Last night’s run was slow, but it was good. I bought these New Balance shoes awhile back, because they felt¬†so good when I got fitted for them, and I do like them. But my all time faves are still my Brooks Launch 3’s. I also can’t do a run without water. It doesn’t matter if it’s only two or three miles- girl needs her H2O. I’ve tried to train myself out of it, but it’s not worth it to me.

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My absolute favorite part of running is exploring, and since I’m in a new town in a new state, each run has taken me on a new adventure.

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I felt like I was trespassing here, so I didn’t cross the bridge. Maybe that makes me less adventurous than I thought? Oh well.

Check out that sky magic!

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When I got home, I spent some time planking and doing some light abs. I was short on time, but I felt accomplished. It’s so, so tough to get back into movement sometimes…
But it’ll be worth it; it always is.

Reminder: If you’re feeling sluggish and heavy on your runs, push through. Sometimes¬† Most of the time, the¬†first couple of miles are the hardest. It feels like you’re learning to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time, and your feet feel heavy, and your legs feel uncoordinated, and your breathing feels all off. Just keep going. Your body will find its rhythym, and soon enough you’ll forget how uncomfortable you were.

Then our friends picked us up for “burger night”. There’s a place in town that has half-price burgers on Wednesdays, and we have gone religiously for the past three weeks.

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I always get a chicken breast with avocado and sweet potato fries. This is my favorite beer currently, and if you’re a fan of sours, you’ll love it too. <- sounds like I know what I’m talking about, but really I have no idea. I just know that this is “yummy”.

And today’s breakfast smoothie snack was really just too good not to share, so here’s a “pick-me-up smoothie”.

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I know you’re probably like, “This girl loves the crap outta some smoothies.” <- Not untrue, but I am also taking¬†a¬†protein prescription¬†from my doc to help my immune system, and I have found this has been the easiest way to hide it in a breakfast snack. Normally, I’d scramble myself eggs or make an omelet for breakfast…but since life has brought me here for now, a recipe:

Pick-me-up Morning Smoothie

-1/2 cup coffee
-1/2 frozen banana
-1 cup (lactose free yogurt for Low FODMAP), or yogurt of choice
-1 handful of greens
-2 tbsp pb
-dash of cinnamon
-1 scoop chocolate Vega Sport protein (1/2 scoop if Low FODMAP)
-1 C ice (add this last if the coffee you’re using is still hot)
Blend, serve, and enjoy ūüôā

Pro-tip: Top with 1/4 C granola, and thank me later.

* you’ll notice that I like my smoothies THICK, because I like to eat them with a spoon, so it feels like I’m EATING. Feel free to add more yogurt and ice to make it creamier, or use less ice than I recommended to make it more watery, depending on your preference.

Let me know what cha think! ūüôā

-Stacey