The morning of travel I was exhausted and my bp was being pretty touchy but I was able to get to the airport. Brain fog had me nearly to the wrong airport before I realized I was going to the wrong one and had to turn around and go the other direction. Luckily they aren't too too far from each other and I was able to get there in the time I had left without issue. I try to always leave extra early in case of long lines, traffic, needing to stop for meds (or sit a spell), or etc. so that the stress doesn't make me more symptomatic. Having that extra time was very useful this trip. My luggage ended up getting checked 1 minute after the cut off time. 1 minute and my luggage wasn't guaranteed on the plane anymore. It was beyond frustrating since I knew that, even with the detour, I would have had no issue getting my baggage checked in on time if I didn't have dysautonomia. Luckily it did get on the plane in time so there were no issues. I made sure to wear compression stockings and added extra powdered electrolyte drink packets to my carry-on as I would be drinking them non-stop for the rest of the day. This trip I had to use a wheelchair in the airport. I don't normally need to when I am not flaring or when it is a milder flare but there was no way I could stand in the TSA line, walk through a large airport, and stand in line again to board the plane just to endure the pressure and altitude changes then walk/stand more at my layover and destination airports. It just wasn't going to happen without serious repercussions. I hate using the wheelchairs even after all this time as I always assume people think I am faking a need for one... pretty much the same as when I had a handicap parking pass and let it lapse because I hated the stares. I only use help when I absolutely need it so I need to get past that... but it is a common sentiment I hear from others like me so I am far from alone on this. On the wheelchair front I will say that having a carry on AND the pet bag was rather more difficult than I imagined it would be even though they escorted me to the gate as not all airports/airlines will let you put a backpack on the back of the wheelchair I found out.
TSA was no issue whatsoever. I walked, shakily by that point, through the detector then had my hands tested and we were done. They didn't care about any of the food items I had chosen to bring with me and my laptop and liquids bag were easily accessible so we were done within a few minutes. As soon as the pups and I were through they brought the wheelchair through to the other side of security and I gathered my belongings quickly and we were back on our way. My heart rate from that small standing/walking bit was quite high so I was grateful for the wheelchair and didn't even care about the stares at that point... I needed the help and I was glad I had it. Next time I hope I won't need it but if I do then I will make the request just as I did this time. Never judge someone if they use a service such as a wheelchair, handicap bathroom stall or parking placard, etc... you never know what is going on medically with them just by looking at them from the outside. No idea whatsoever.
The dogs know how to travel as they have been doing so for years so they were pretty much perfect the whole time in the airports and on the planes. There was one little tiff where one ended up falling on top of the other (my fault) and the landed upon pup got upset but we were cool within a minute or less. My neighbors on the plane didn't even know I had them with me. One was totally surprised when I let her know that I would let her out and then wait until the plane cleared a bit before leaving as I had the dogs so needed a bit of time and space to maneuver. She asked me if I had to drug them... I let her know that "No, they are seasoned travelers and are likely napping at the moment but will wake up when we land." and she asked a few more questions about cost, their carrier, and about them in general and then it was time to de-board. Once we arrived at my grandmother's house the pups had everything they could want in the world: plenty of people to love on them 24/7, food, toys, a big backyard that they could go out and play in whenever they wanted. They were quite happy to be there.
As for me, well my trip wasn't quite the success it was for the pups. My flare kept getting worse until I was practically hooked to a bottle of Gatorade and a bp monitor 24/7. I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without issue so I spent most of the trip lounging on a couch brain fogged and symptomatic trying to keep everything in check enough to still interact with my family who was visiting. I *think* I did a pretty good job of pretending to be 'normal' when needed but for the most part I probably just looked pretty lazy and out of it unfortunately. I'm still glad that I went of course but it was sucky not being able to really be up and about and really interacting fully with my family since nearly everyone was there- including my 19 month old niece, most of my aunts and uncles, my sister, brother-in-law, parents, a cousin and both sets of grandparents. I saw a really cute play with my grandparents the last night I was there and it wiped me out but I'm glad I got to spend that time with them nevertheless and didn't just stay home.
Headed back to TX was pretty much the same issues and process... wheelchairs, Gatorade, compression stockings, nausea meds, and sleeping/resting as much as possible. I wasn't quite as symptomatic by that day as I had been earlier in the trip and might have been able to walk the airport on my own but I had parked in long term parking (I know, bad choice... I didn't realize how far it was from the entrance when I parked there. My body hated me by the time I got to the ticket counter on the way to KY. BP was crazy and I was so tachy the room was spinning and I was sick, no bueno.) and I knew I was flying into a storm so I didn't risk it. Worsening my flare was the absolute last thing on my to-do list for that day. It took a few more days for the flare to finish calming down but I am back to my 'normal' more or less now it seems thankfully.
I wanted to write this post as I was preparing to travel and give you a day by day breakdown... but then life happened. I ended up having a flare two days before traveling. Not good, not good at all. So I will write out what I usually do as well as what I ended up needing to do this time around due to dealing with the flare. The unpredictability of flares is exactly why I over plan my life the way I do and why I pack such an intense backpack. Being prepared gets me back on track so much faster and back to enjoying my life. A few minutes of preparation each week can mean an entire week back for me... so worth it!
What I Usually Do
These days if I am traveling last minute then I won't be taking the pups more than likely (unless it is an emergency) so there is less to pack and less to manage. This makes life a little bit easier. Since I already keep my hygiene kit (and most of my carry-on) packed I can pack from start to finish in less than an hour, in a pinch. I don't like to do this as it can cause extra stress which can make me more symptomatic. Plus, the rushing around will make it a lot more likely that I forget something. For just a weekend away though it isn't usually an issue.
For the dogs: I just grab the dogs' diaper bag, which stays packed, so that I can drop them at my mom's. Their diaper bag has everything that I usually put in my carry on pet bag as well as almost everything from my suitcase pet list. All that needs to be done is toss in the leashes, a few toys, Isabel's ball, fold down the pet pen and double check that I refilled the food container and they are ready to go. This takes about 5-6 minutes typically which is much faster and less stressful that having to pack from scratch! When I get back from a trip I put away the few things that don't stay in the bag and refill anything that was used so that we're ready to go again the next time.
My bag: I put my hygiene kit, the medicine containers for the days I will be gone (each day's organizer pops out for easy carrying in my purse or carry-on... it's pretty awesome), a pair of PJs and a set of clothing (including accessories, shoes and a handbag) in a dufflebag and I'm pretty much ready to go on this front.
All that's left is my carry on/backpack. For that I need about 10 minutes as I have to move any liquids to the liquids and gels bag I keep in my closet (if I'm flying, (usually last minute trips without the pups aren't air travel), add my passport and tickets/itinerary to the front pocket and put my laptop in the holder. I might add a set of clothes to my bag as well if I am flying, but like I said, last minute travel for me is rarely flying. Everything else is already in my backpack more or less all the time. If I want to add my travel blanket and pillow that is a quick fix as they are stored away for easy access in my car. You'd be surprised how often a blanket comes in handy in your car...
Most of my travel isn't done last minutes though, I prefer to plan out travel so that I can enjoy my time off as much as possible. For normal, planned trips here's my routine:
I will begin to pack a few days ahead of time, if I can. For me this means doing an extra load of laundry, getting some extra chores done each day so that I have a clean house when I leave/come back and pulling out my packing list. Since I keep my hygiene kit pretty much packed it takes only a few minutes to run through it all and make sure that I don't need to refill any of my bottles and jars in the bag as well as make sure I have my meds ready to go for the trip. Doing this a few days before will allow me time to stop off and pick anything up that I may need on my lunch break at work or on the way home which reduces stress.
The dog's 'suitcase' items and my hygiene kit are the first to go into my suitcase as I won't need any of the items in them for the next few days. Other items I am unlikely to need get added at this time as well. Most of the time I try to get this portion of the packing completed on the weekend if it works with my schedule so there is less to do during the week. Clothing I add to the suitcase as the items I need get laundered. Once I have added all of an item (such as shirts) on my list to my suitcase it gets checked off.
The night before we travel I make sure to give the dog's I-Go-2 a wipe down and add in their leashes. I also run down my list of chores to make sure that everything is clean and nothing will be smelly and gross when I come home. This means doing the dishes, cleaning out the fridge, taking out the trash, and running a last minute load of laundry with linens and any random clothing that I need when I return. Hopefully the rest of the chores for the time I am gone will have been handled already. I will then put my suitcase and the girl's carrier in the car. Mornings are not my strong suit. I am kind of grumpy, definitely forgetful and symptomatically worse in the morning. For this reason I try to prepare for the next morning the evening before even when I am not traveling.
My carry on is the last thing to be packed. This is pretty much exactly like when I am traveling last minute except I pack the dog's carry-on bag, the travel blanket and pillow as well as the clothes that go in my carry-on bag (should I be flying) all at once. Isabel's ball and my empty water bottle are pretty much the only things that gets packed (other than potentially putting food in my bag) the morning of travel.
A few days before I travel I push water pretty heavily and make sure to eat more sodium than my usual. This helps bump up my blood volume as well as blood pressure as my bp can drop more than normal during air travel. I also lay off any caffeine that I may have been taking in previously. Sleep is pretty important all the time but when I am about to travel I make sure to be very rested for a few days to not add on to the fatigue travel will cause. Being tired, stressed and dehydrated is about the worse combination for me when stepping into an airport as all the standing, walking, pressure changes, and the air quality of the plane itself will just add insult to injury and likely trigger a flare.
What I Did Due To The Flare
I ended up needing to head in for an IV infusion a few days prior to travel this time around as my bp and heart rate were suggesting I might be dehydrated and was definitely flaring. The IV wasn't enough to stop the decline in my health though. I ended up continuing to salt load with electrolyte drink powders and bottle upon bottle of water for the rest of the week, barely keeping my symptoms in check enough to travel. Luckily, I had already packed quite a bit before this flare hit so it was just a matter of trying to get in a few extra chores every day... not going to lie though, I ended up sleeping in a linen-less bed the last night as I was simply too exhausted to wait for the linens to be done and was in too much pain to sleep on the couch. Such is life, I will just have to put the linens (which are still in the dryer) on the bed when I get home. Other than that, every chore that 'had to' get done was completed. The extras that I would normally do to make the coming week easier didn't get done of course but that's ok.
Getting everything done came at a cost though. When I am having a flare sleep isn't always easy. I have intermittent insomnia even when I am not having a flare but when you add in a flare it gets pretty bad. I can be lucky to get a few hours a night since I have to get up for work. This usually only makes the flare worse as I am not getting the rest my body desperately needs. If possible I will take a day completely off of work to get in some of the much needed rest. Either way, during a flare I'm exhausted and once I'm asleep I can sleep for 10-12+ hours easily, but getting to sleep... that can be difficult. The pain, nausea and heart issues make it difficult to fall asleep. So... I ended up getting on a plane exhausted and dehydrated despite my best efforts.
This recipe is what I call a 'dump' recipe. You literally dump all the ingredients into the crock pot and walk away. It can't get much easier than that. Use this shredded chicken as a topper for a baked potato, a stuffing for enchiladas or tacos, over rice, as a nacho topping, or just by itself as a protein main. Whatever suits you fancy. :)
Once again we look at chicken. This easy recipe has about 5 minutes of hands on time and is ready before I've finished my evening 'chores' making it a go-to meal when I was married. I've had it on salads, as a protein main with steamed or sauteed veggies, and sliced cold in a wrap... it was pretty tasty any way I tried it. Feel free to mix it up and try this with other spice combinations, the recipe listed below uses Taco Seasoning mix but there are other options. See the "Mix It Up" note at the bottom for two alternate versions that I have already tried out myself.
2 lbs Chicken
Enough taco seasoning to coat the chicken (1/4 C or 1-2 packets of clean taco seasoning or this)
Large bag or deep bowl for coating chicken
MIX IT UP: You can do this with a Tbsp of almond meal and Italian seasoning as well. Just add a little melted butter or ghee drizzled over the top for a delicious pairing with zucchini pasta or other Italian inspired meal!
Want a Cajun version of this? Just sub the taco seasoning for cajun spice mix and you've got the beginnings of one of the tastiest ceasar salads I have ever had. Yumm!
The possibilities are endless! :)
Hey guys! I realized the other day that I never finished out this post series... oops! I didn't quit and just not tell you guys, I finished it. I even lost a little bit of weight when it was all said and done (yay!). So... here it is, the last two weeks and review of the program.
The third, and what should have been the final, week was pretty easy. Sticking to the meal plan was pretty much second nature by this point so there really weren't any big issues. I did have a bad health day on one day but for the most part my energy level was pretty consistent and I wasn't getting hungry between meals at all. There were days I would easily forget about lunch altogether and end up eating pretty late in the afternoon even. I added a lot more red meat during this week for the iron and there were a few more carbs for energy as this was a week that I needed those things but this is consistent with my normal monthly cycle so it wasn't a side effect of the program.
For the final, fourth, week I decided to add back in strawberries in small quantities. There was a good sale on them and, to be honest, I missed them quite a bit during the first three weeks since I used to eat them nearly every day. I didn't eat many of them and I subbed them for the banana I was allowed to eat on the program so the sugar was limited but I did eat some and strawberries which are not on the program. Just for full disclosure. I ate quite a bit of chicken this week and lots of zucchini (which apparently I love) and ended the week feeling pretty good. At the end of the program I didn't go crazy and binge on sweets but I did get a frozen yogurt which is a super rare treat for me. It was too sweet to finish so my taste buds have definitely been affected in a good way by being on the program.
21 Day Sugar Detox states that it isn't a weight loss program and doesn't want you to limit your carbs or calories necessarily in order to complete the program successfully. With that being said, I ended up losing a little over 5 pounds during the month I was on the program. I'm not sure that it was the program though as I was trying to up my calorie expenditure gradually during this time span.
All in all I liked the program and would likely do a version of it again in the future if I find myself craving sweets or foods that have too many carbs for my body to handle. My digestion felt better by the end, my sugar and carb cravings had lessened considerably, and I felt pretty good energy-wise... I even saw a decrease in my insomnia during the later part of the program. Again, I can't guarantee that it was caused by the 21DSD but it was a welcome change nevertheless.
I'm going to start this post with saying that I don't use this app like it is intended- to run with. Instead I walk to it. I am getting a little faster (yay!) but I can't push myself too much right now as I could put myself back even further if I do. I was right on the cusp of being able to job for a minute when things went a bit topsy turvy in my life and my health responded by getting worse, of course. I took my time, managed to get off most of most of the medications I ended up back on with the flair and even managed to leave behind some of my supplements over the past year or so. Now it's time to exercise again... slowly. So I pulled out my old standard cardio app and realized they had completely revamped the entire app! That was interesting but pretty cool. I had already paid for seasons 1-3 before they redesigned it to be an annual subscription which was a little sad because new players will have paid less than me when it is all said and done but that's ok... I was there back when it started and supported it's growth so I don't mind too much. The app is called Zombies, Run and is by a UK based company called Six to Start. They have a few other apps that I will be reviewing later this month as well that are along the same lines: game meets radio show meets exercise app.
The game's website says the following about the game: "Run in the real world. Become a Hero in another. Only a few have survived the zombie epidemic. You are a Runner en-route to one of humanity's last remaining outposts. They need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their home. And you have another mission- one they don't know about..."
That's a pretty general but accurate plot line... at least for the two and a half seasons I have worked my way through in the past. I restarted the series so I am back in season one working my way back to where I was in the story before. There were plenty of details I missed the first time through so feel free to re-run missions. They don't get boring.
If you look in the settings area you will see that you can change the units to Standard or Metric, input your weight, change the volume of the game clips and etc. but there is also a section called 'clip spacing' that allows you to decide how often you would like a story clip to play... effectively lengthening or shortening your run. It is taking me about 20 minutes to get through a mission at 'clips play every 2.5 minutes' so if you want a longer mission then perhaps make it every 5 minutes or so. It is very easy to personalize your runs. I suggest checking this screen out fully before your first mission so that you know what your options are.
Click on the mission and you are brought to a screen that allows you to choose the playlist that you wish to run to from your phone, chose how ZR will track your movement/pace/run, and decide if you want zombie chases (more on this later). When you start a new episode there is a recap to start with, similar to a TV series, and then the new 'mission' begins. For the majority of season one, as I assume that is where you will start, your comms operator is Sam Yao. He briefs you on your missions, warns you of incoming zombies he sees on his scanners, provides humor and generally just watches your six while you are outside the gates. Once you have been briefed you head outside the gates for the day's mission.Your chosen playlist will be interspersed with story clips that keep you in the alternate world of ZR throughout your run... I don't suggest you run at night as those zom noises can get a tad creepy. And there's a reason we don't send scouts out at night... just sayin'.
If you selected to have zombie chases, which you are also able to customize when it comes to frequency, then you will also hear a warning about incoming zombies throughout the mission at various points. There will be tones that warn you how far away the zombie is as well as a voice that will tell you if you outpaced the zombie or needed to throw an item at it in order to escape. In order to escape you have to put on a burst of speed for about half a minute if I recall (I can't do these right now so have the feature turned off)... basically you sprint as fast as you can. If you throw an item at the zombie then you have lost an item that you 'picked up' on your run. These items can be used to rebuild Abel Township... where your character lives and works. This portion of the game has really grown over the years compared to what it started as.
That pretty much covers the story missions... there are other types of missions you can chose to run as well. You can use Airdrop mode to retrieve supplies from Mullin's airbase at a location you chose in the real world, run a supply mission that is general and doesn't affect the storyline (so you can skip them or run them again and again... like we used to do in between seasons), do interval training that you customize yourself in the app, run with Radio Abel instead of a mission, or run in race mode. Radio Abel is basically a radio show that takes place within the world of ZR. These aren't missions but rather you just out running but getting to also hear about the world of post zombie apocalypse and learn more about the world your character resides in. They are a good change of pace and I find the hosts quite humorous. Race mode is exactly like it seems. There are 2 sets of 3 races- a 5k, 10k and 20k race with story lines all their own that take place either in the world of Abel Township or New Canton, the militarized quasi-enemy township not too far away. Abel and New Canton's powers that be to not see eye to eye but the runners will generally help each other out in a bind if they can... it is, after all, the fate of the world at stake.
If you want to get really into the alternate world you can go into the game and read about the various things you pick up... some are supplies like water and sports bras (yes, sports bras... it's a running joke actually) and some are 'artifacts' that give you details about the developing story such as a CDC box or a newspaper clip about Netrophil. These items can be read about in the Codex tab. You can also go online and download the Abel Runner's Guide for free to get more into the mythology of the game.
Just recently they have added a store where you can make purchases related to the game on their website if you are interested. There are also fans who have etsy and similar shops for "Runner 5" gear. The big news though is that they just launched the first ZR virtual race. I signed up even though I won't be running it... I'm hoping to get a few short jogs in by then though, we'll see! This was big news in the ZR community and spots sold out fairly quickly.
Finally, you can sync your runs to the cloud, use health kit with the app to track your workouts and, of course, share your runs to social media. This is by far my favorite exercise app of all time and it doesn't surprise me one bit that it is now an award winning app... it rocks.
(Once I am able to restart and complete the 5k training app that is a companion to ZR I will write a review of it as well but from what I recall it wasn't as in depth as this game is but it was still quite good. It takes place between episodes 1 and 2 of the original ZR game and is a C25K program so you go from walking to running/jogging a 5k by the end if you follow the program.)
Fajita chicken is a staple at my house. I use it in fajitas, tacos, on salads, as a protein main with other veggies such as green beans or squash and zucchini... you could even top a potato with it and other 'fajita' toppings for a tasty meal higher in carbohydrates. It's pretty versatile. Quick and simple, just like I like it!
NOTE: If you have a George Foreman grill or similar you can simply season the meat and put it on the grill for a fast salad topper. It is lower in fat this way and not quite as tasty in my opinion but very fast and easy. I do not have a grill at the moment, of any type, so am working on fajita meat on the stove top. This one is just a seasoned meat rather than a marinade but I am working on a marinaded fajita chicken as well.
I promised updated packing lists so here they are! Obviously these are personal to me so update them to fit your needs. I decided for this set I would group clothing items by style of attire... then I just have to choose how many days/outfits of each I will need for the trip. If using a printed list I would write out the number of each I need and check it off as it is put into my suitcase- not before. Otherwise I could have prepared it and STILL forgotten it at home. It has happened... brain fog is no joke man. :)
IDENTIFICATION AND PERSONAL (FRONT POCKET/QUICK ACCESS)
NOT IN AN ORGANIZER BAG
EYE CARE AND MAKEUP BAG
PET CARE BAG
LIQUIDS AND GELS BAG (CAN BE DISBURSED IF NOT TRAVELING BY AIR)
To get through TSA faster:
A while back I did a post about DIY deodorant. I wasn't a big fan of the scent and the consistency needed to be firmed up a bit in my opinion. The original recipe can be found here and is pretty awesome in and of itself so you should go check it out. My tweaks are below.
Sometimes I crave pizza. Shocking, I know. Not! Everyone likes pizza... why wouldn't you? There's the tang of the tomato sauce, tasty toppings ranging from crisp or sauteed veggies to savory meats and herbs, lots of cheesy goodness, and the garlic. I love garlic. Most of the time I end up just having to suck it up and deal with the consequences of eating a slice or two from the local pizzeria but the other day I went to Firecrust again and it was pretty amazing. I have been to Firecrust before, I got a fairly traditional pie with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, basil, tomato sauce, olive oil and mushrooms. It was pretty fabulous. The crust was thin and crisp, perfect for the lightness of the toppings. All the toppings were fresh, from the ball of mozzarella they tore a chunk off of for my pizza to the basil and roasted mushrooms. I was a happy camper... but still had some tummy upset later.
This time when I went I saw that they had gluten free pizza crusts now! Hurray! I was pretty excited to try out my same pie but on their new crust. It did cost $2 extra but $2 and no consequences later? Totally worth it. The procedure to make the gluten free pizza went beyond just grabbing a gluten free crust and assembly lining it to the end though. They pulled special utensils out for my pizza, made sure to get ingredients from beneath the counter so there was no cross contamination from the wheat flour pizzas, and even checked to see if their pepperoni was gluten free (it isn't *sad trombone*)... all without me even asking or saying a word about it. The manager put my pizza in the oven and chatted with me while I waited... she was very knowledgeable about why the gluten free pizza crusts took longer and made sure that the box she put my pizza in didn't even get the packets of cheese and peppers 'just in case'... and never once did they make me feel like I was putting them to extra effort in any way. The customer service was fantastic! I got my pizza and felt very confident that it wasn't cross-contaminated in the slightest. I just have a sensitivity but if I had Celiac I would feel comfortable eating something these guys had whipped up for me, they were that on point with what their procedure should be. They even have a gluten free flat bread now for their salads I was informed as I picked up my order.
On to the flavors and textures. The toppings were as on point as they ever were, of course... creamy ricotta, flavorful mushrooms, tangy sauce... basically perfection on a pie. The crust wasn't the best I've ever had but it was far from the worst as well. The flavor was actually pretty good but I'm a big texture person. Flavor-wise, it was a little sweeter than traditional wheat flour crusts but very mild in flavor which was a plus as sometimes these crusts can taste quite nutty. I was told that they use tapioca starch as a main ingredient in the crusts so this could be reason for the more neutral but slightly sweet taste. The biggest issue I had with the crust was that it was a little too thick in my opinion which made it somewhat chewy in the center. This isn't an uncommon problem by any means and I've come to expect it from gluten free pizzas but if they would make the crust just a little thinner I think this issue would go away completely. It would also help solve the issue of needing to be cooked longer than their other pizzas which causes a little singe on the outside edge (it didn't taste burnt though!). It was a pretty good pizza all in all and was very filling. I would likely split this pizza if I went again as it is equivalent to a small pizza but, as with most gluten free 'breads', more calorie dense so you get filled up faster. As it was I ended up saving half to eat later in the day as a second meal. It was pretty tasty cold as well.
Oh! And for you vegans and vegetarians out there... they have vegan cheese and plenty of non-meat only toppings to try on their pizzas! I have not tried that cheese as I don't eat soy and I assume that it is soy based (I didn't ask but many of them are) but they do have it. They even have a sauce-less 'white' pizza if you can't have tomatoes. Auto-immune protocol people this could work for you. I'm not sure about the ingredients in their crust though, I'd suggest calling to ask if you were interested in going to make sure. They are pretty accommodating to various eating styles and needs I'd say.
I recommend this restaurant for both my gluten eating and non-eating friends as the pizza, and the customer service, is top notch.