9 months post injury

Injured is my new normal. ‘Maybe someday’ is the new ‘Hell yes, count me in!’

This injury is creeping up on the length of a full-term pregnancy. My friends and family would probably agree that it has had just as many mood swings and terrifying outbursts of tears. I have definitely eaten more ice cream than most could possibly consume.

9 months post ankle injury-pool-lane-lines

This month was another one full of false starts and uncertainty. I still can’t run. I still can’t olympic lift. Squatting is going okay. My feet were doing well and then fell apart over the course of a busy day. I’m ending the month trying to settle down my plantar fascia and strengthening everything so it stops happening.

Some days you fail. Life keeps going. #SoClose #oly #girlswholift #fail

A video posted by Mandy Ferreira (@treading_lightly) on

A recent doctors appointment has me hopeful that the end is near and terrified that I’m days away from gut-wrenching news.

But in the meantime, I’m doing my best to stay relaxed and not worry about my doctor’s ominous warnings of potential surgery, tendon/ligament tears, and fractured bones. I’ll deal with the reality and severity of my ankle injury next week after my MRI narrows down the extent of the damage.

Until then, I’m going to lift. See you in the gym!

In case you missed it:

I sprained my ankle
One Month Later
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Eight

10 Best Summer Vacation Books

I can’t help myself from packing like Rory when I go on vacation. To be fair, I rarely return with an unread book. Vacation is synonymous with relaxation and reading for me.

These are some of my favorite books and books I have read around the world. From the plane to the beach to the tent or luxurious bed, these books will keep you hooked. You won’t regret making room for (at least) one of these great books.

10 Best Summer Vacation Books

Best Summer Vacation Books

Modern Romance
What’s a vacation without a little romance? This book was insightful (and also vaguely terrifying). When did love get so complicated?

My Life on the Road
I can’t imagine how one woman can travel so far and accomplish so much. Gloria Steinem’s story is incredible, and you will meet dozens of women who made history along the way.

All the Light We Cannot See
You might not see much of your destination either. This book dragged me in and I wanted nothing more than to read it continuously. I had trouble pulling myself away from it. I read it on a ski trip (where I conveniently couldn’t ski, more time to read!), but I don’t see why it would be any less good on a beach or by a pool.

Station Eleven
I read this book last year while in Whistler, which means this book is forever synonymous with vacation for me. Don’t let the doomsday vibe deter you – this was an engrossing story that I would have gratefully read everywhere. I loved the traveling troupe and the rich story. Although fair warning, you may never look at an airplane the same again.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Nothing says great vacation like death. I’m kidding, but despite making my cry at the end, this book had me laughing frequently. It will also help you appreciate your trip even more.

The Martian
Sand. Heat. A rough flight. Astronaut Mark Watney’s experience on Mars is sort of like a tropical vacation. A really horrific vacation. I loved the snark of this book, and it will forever remind me of the train ride from Barcelona to Valencia.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
I started this book on a flight and refused to do anything else until I finished it (I know, I’m a fantastic travel companion). Set in a quirky community in Seattle, this book follows Bee and her quest to get her agoraphobic mother and her disengaged father to Antarctica. Instead, Bee ends up on a search for her missing mother. Bonus points if you read it while on a cruise to Antarctica.

The Happiness Project
A trip is a great time to pull back and take a hard look at your life. What really makes you happy? What makes you miserable? Dive into happiness and extend the vacation glow long after you return home.

Packing for Mars
Your hand guide to the ultimate trip. Mary Roach dives deep into the oddities of trying to get humans on Mars. And you thought trying to get everything into your carry-on was hard.

Wild
I can’t end this list without one of my favorites. I may never lace up my boots and take on the Pacific Crest Trail, but this book inspired me to get outside more and push my travel limits.

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide

You don’t need caustic chemicals and piles of cleaners to effectively clean your bathroom. This simple bathroom cleaning guide will show you how to clean your whole bathroom with safe, sustainable cleaners. The best part? You can have the room clean, top to bottom, in 15 minutes or less.

Bleach, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals are damaging to the environment and you. Bleach can burn your lungs and your skin as you clean. Other cleaners are full of chemicals that are known to cause reproductive or developmental problems and cancer. Most companies do not put their full list of ingredients on the label.

There aren’t laws that require cleaning products to be tested for health or environmental safety. These toxic chemicals not only leave behind residue in your home, they are washed down the drain where they cannot be pulled out by most water treatments. Instead, they end up in our waterways.

While you can look up the safety of your products here, the homemade cleaners and castile soap I recommend here are safe for you and for the environment. They also work just as well (if not better) as what you can find on the store shelves.

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide-Simple-bathroom-Cleaning-Guide-minimalist-cleaning-natural-non-toxic-sustainable-environmentally-friendly

What You Need

Microfiber Cloth
These things are pure magic. While I wish they were made from natural materials, I think their longevity and their cleaning power more than make up for it. I was gifted some of my mom’s microfiber cloths when I went to college, and they are still going strong. My mom still uses the same ones she bought more than 10 years ago.

Microfiber cloths can be used for just about anything. They won’t scratch the surface or leave behind lint. I use them to remove hard water, clean the glass shower doors, and just about everything else. I use microfiber cloths for their scrubbing power and their antimicrobial properties. They can cut through thick soap scum better than most cleaners.

If you are really against microfiber, feel free to use a cloth towel or any rag, but be prepared to put more muscle into it.

Toilet Brush
The one you have is the best one to use. If you are looking for a new one, consider going for sustainable materials (like this one) or one where you can just replace the head of the brush (like this).

Castile Soap
I use liquid for convenience, but you can also use a bar. It is a safe, non-toxic cleaner, and I swear it cleans better than most conventional cleaners on the market. You don’t need bleach to safely clean your bathroom.

Small Towel
An old kitchen towel, t-shirt, or just about any other absorbent rag will work. You just need something to dry the top of the counter and any fixtures.

Reusable Gloves
Totally optional, but I use an old pair of dish gloves. I bought thick gloves that last really well. They are years old at this point and still work great.

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide: Mirrors/Glass

What you need:
– Warm water
– Microfiber cloth
– Small towel

All you need is water to get a streak-free mirror. Simply wet the microfiber cloth in hot or warm water and wring it out until it’s mostly dry. Wipe down the mirror or glass surface, and dry it quickly with another microfiber cloth or a small rag towel. The microfiber cloth works great for cleaning the glass because it doesn’t hold too much water or leave lint behind. However, if you are trying to stick to only natural fibers, a cotton cloth would work just fine.

Bathroom Sink and Tub

What you need:
– Liquid or solid castile soap
– Microfiber cloth
– Optional: small towel to dry

A half teaspoon or so of castile soap will do the whole sink. Wet the rag and squirt your castile soap straight into the plugged sink or onto the rag. Scrub and then rinse down the rag and the sink.

For the tub or shower, wet the surface slightly before squirting some castile soap into the bottom. I usually use as little as possible (about a teaspoon full) and squirt more if I need it. Then scrub the tub with the soap and the moist microfiber cloth.

I rarely, if ever, need anything other than the microfiber cloth and the castile soap, but if you have soap scum or mildew that just won’t budge, you can shake a little baking soda on the surface. It will not only help physically scrub the surface, but it will help break up the soap scum.

Toilet

What you need:
– Liquid or solid castile soap
– Microfiber cloth
– Toilet brush

Squirt a little bit of castile soap (less than a teaspoon) into the toilet bowl and scrub down the insides with the brush. When you are done, use the damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the toilet. Start with the seat, then wipe down the rim to the floor.

The castile soap will take away water marks, mildew, and discoloration. You might have to scrub a little harder if it’s really on there or let it the castile soap sit for a bit after you scrub some to get it all off.

Floor

What you need:
– Microfiber cloth
Homemade floor cleaner

Start with a damp rag and spray down the floor as you clean it with the floor cleaner. I like to work my way towards to the toilet (cleanest to dirtiest), but if that’s not possible, work your way out to the doorway.

Order of Operations

Before you get down and dirty, you need a game plan. I safely and effectively clean my whole bathroom with one or two rags with this method.

1. Mirror. Use a fresh microfiber cloth and clean your mirror.

2. Sink. Use the same rag and some castile soap to clean the sink.

3. Tub. Once the sink is wiped down and the rag is rinsed out, move on to the tub.

4. Toilet. As the dirtiest thing in your bathroom, this gets the last cleaning. When you are done, so is the rag. Do not use the rag again after wiping down the toilet.

5. Floor. New rag! If I am tag teaming the bathroom cleaning, the person who cleans the sink usually does the floor with the same rag while the other person washes the tub and toilet.

Easy Gratitude Practice

This easy gratitude practice is for anyone who has ever started a gratitude journal and quickly forgotten about it.

While I love the idea of a gratitude journal, I found it too hard to keep up. When I was doing my 30 minutes of writing/journaling every day, I usually ended my last page with a quick list of five things I was grateful for. I loved looking back on my day and seeing the things that stood out to me, but once I was done with the 30 day project, the habit disappeared.

HanaHaus Palo Alto Green Tea-easy-gratitude-practice-Easy Gratitude Practice

Easy Gratitude Practice

For the last month or so I have been doing a really easy gratitude practice. Instead of writing down my list each day, I quickly talk through my list with someone. I got myself a gratitude buddy, and each day we take a couple minutes to share the three things we are grateful for or enjoyed the most that day. Most days we talk for a few minutes in the evenings, but sometimes we send a quick text instead.

It has been a really great way to get the benefits of a gratitude journal without the upkeep. I can share what I’m grateful for while I do the dishes or get ready for the next day, and hearing what your buddy is grateful for has been amazing. I really enjoy hearing what made his day and the unexpected things he comes up with that I don’t usually think about.

How to Start Your Own Easy Gratitude Practice or Habit

1. Find someone willing to do this with you! It could be a friend, a family member, a significant other – really anyone you would like to talk to every day. It helps if it is someone you see most days, but this can easily be done digitally through text, email, or even quick Snapchat videos!

2. Set a trigger. In order to create a habit, you have to first decide what is going to trigger or remind you of your habit. My first trigger was getting ready for bed, but I found it was too general and I could easily get swept up in my nightly routine and forget. The last thing I do every night is put arnica on my ankle and body butter on my feet. Grabbing my arnica is my new trigger.

3. No duplicates. It’s totally fine to have one thing on your list that both you and your buddy are grateful for, but try not to copy them every day. Also, once you’ve said it, you can’t use it again. (You can only be thankful for your mom once, but you can be thankful for something specific each time like the text she sent you this morning or the brownies she made.)

4. Mix up who goes first. It keeps it fair and fun.

5. Be specific. “Dinner” or “my friend Bob” don’t count. Why are you thankful or grateful for that specific person or thing? What about it made you feel that way?

6. Play with numbers. It doesn’t have the be a specific number every time. My buddy and I fluctuate between three and five most days, but I try to aim for at least three so I get past the really obvious ones and reflect more on my day.

11 Ways to Naturally Ease Sore Muscles

I love to feel the burn as much as the next person, but sore muscles can quickly go from a nice pat on the back for a job well done to crippling. Instead of popping a pill, naturally ease sore muscles with these tips.

rolling-out-tight-calves-on-barbell-8-months-post-ankle-injury-how-to-naturally-ease-sore-muscles

How to Naturally Ease Sore Muscles

1. Hydrate! Not just when you are done with your workout, but all day every day. How much water do you really need? You can try this calculator for figuring out how much you should drink during your workout.

2. Mobility and foam rolling. I know, the last thing you want to do at the end of a hard workout is roll around on the floor like a spastic seal, but it’s important to get the blood moving into all of the tissue you just used. Foam rolling (and other forms of self-massage) help break up tissue adhesions and speed recovery. Try for 10 minutes a day (wether you worked out or not!) of foam rolling and targeted muscle release. For tips, check out how to properly roll out your legs and your back/chest.

Runner's World Ice Bath Running Recovery

3. Contrast bath. Shock your system and scare the soreness right out of your muscles with a contrast bath. Not really, but a contrast bath will increase circulation and nourish your tired and torn up muscles. You can do full body plunges or stand in the shower, but I like to use two buckets and just do my knees down. Try for at least four cycles of 3 minutes in hot water and 1 minute in cold water. Always start and end on hot.

4. Sleep. My personal favorite. When you sleep your body repairs the tissue you have torn and broken down by exercising. The more sleep you get, the better you recover. Many professional athletes sleep up to 12 hours a day.

5. Arnica gel. This is your best friend for really sore muscles. Arnica helps reduce inflammation and pain. Personally, I like this gel.

6. Magnesium. I used to get horrible muscle spasms. My legs would wake me up in the night with twitches that seemed to last forever. I would jerk myself awake with a massive twitch that would send my arm or leg flying. I started drinking magnesium a couple of years ago to sleep better.

Turns out I was also giving myself a massive recovery boost. Calcium aids in muscle contraction while magnesium helps the muscle relax. An imbalance between calcium and magnesium leaves you with stiff, tight muscles.

I drink Natural Calm every night before bed, but you can also rub it straight on your sore muscles. I like the powder better than a pill because I can control the dose and make sure I get enough on the days I have a hard workout.

7. Gentle movement. An easy walk or short yoga session can go a long way toward loosening up muscles and relieving soreness. This isn’t a sprint or an hour long swim. Get your blood flowing with a bit of slow, gentle movement.

8. Legs up the wall. I love coming home from a hard run or a heavy squat session and putting my legs up the wall. Ahhh, feels so good! I like to imagine the soreness draining out of my legs while I lie back and relax. But in reality, it’s a nice boost for your circulation.

9. Compression. Jury is still out on compression for improved performance, but it does help you recover. Try socks or other compression clothing to get the blood flowing. I swear by the Voodoo band for serious compression and relief – it also really helps remove tissue adhesions and get everything gliding properly again.

10. Naturally anti-inflammatory foods. Ginger, turmeric, and fish all of have anti-inflammatory properties. Whole foods also help muscles get the amino acids, minerals, and vitamins that they need to repair and get stronger.

11. Cupping. A little intense for your run of the mill muscle soreness, but totally worth keeping in your back pocket for the days where breathing feels strenuous. You can read all about my experience with cupping here. (Spoiler, I like it.)

Hidden Toxins Around the House

It all started in the bathroom. After reading about parabens, I pulled every bottle off the shelf and took a hard look at the ingredient labels. I was shocked at the toxins hiding behind the unrecognizable words and the sheer length of the list. Once I replaced my personal care products with safe, Environmental Working Group approved alternatives I turned my diligent scrutiny to the rest of the house.

My sense of distrust grew rapidly. The more I read about the hidden toxins around the house, the more upset I was that I was being unknowingly exposed to these things. I had thought that these things were regulated, that everything in my home was tested for its safety and effectiveness.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the chemicals stuffed in our mattresses to the leaching plastic liners in our canned food, everything is presumed safe until it is proven to be harmful to humans. Unfortunately, this testing takes years, if it’s done at all, and even then it’s difficult to get it removed. And by then we have been smearing it on our bodies and breathing it in daily for years.

Make It Easier

It gets exhausting being your own scientist, investigator, and researcher, but it doesn’t have to be so hard. I made a list of all of the products that you can easily swap around your house to stay safe and live more sustainably. Check out the full article on Rodale’s Organic Life.

Hidden Toxins Around the House-toxins-around-the-house-11 Everyday Household Items You Aren't Buying Organic—But Should

Related:

What you need to know about parabens.

Clean up your beauty routine. Top ingredients to avoid. Myths about cosmetic safety.

Are you bathing in toxins?

Is organic worth it? Some scary truths about pesticides.

What toxic substances are regulated? How do they developing affect kids? What’s the link between pesticides and A.L.S.?

How to Get It All Done

Let’s be clear from the start. No one can get it all done. It’s a total myth. Like unicorns and fairies, it makes us feel better to believe in it.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get more done.

How to get it all done-how-to-get-it-all-done-improve-productivity-be-productive-work-effeciently

1. Schedule.

I cannot say this enough. There is no way to stay on track and remember everything without a schedule. I schedule time for fitness, friends, and food (and everything else that’s important). When it’s on the schedule, I have no excuse for why it can’t be done.

I use Google calendar and a paper planner. My Google calendar includes the time blocks of when I will do each thing listed on my planner for the day.

2. Plan. 

At the end of every week I map out my work schedule and write down all of the deadlines for the week. I usually sit down on Friday afternoons and roughly sketch out when I want to get everything done.

At the end of every work day, I write out my top three tasks for the next day (see below). That way when I sit down to work in the morning, I already know what I’m doing and I can jump right in. It also forces me to face the tasks that I don’t want to do.

3. Make a lists.

I make lists. I make them constantly. I have lists about other lists. Call me crazy, but without them I will forget things or stress that I am forgetting things. These lists stop the late night epiphanies that I forgot a deadline or keep me from realizing when I am already 10 minutes late that I have no gas in my car and I won’t make it to my destination without stopping for some. My lists also help me to get tasks done that typically fall through the cracks like cleaning the bathroom in a semi-regular fashion.

How to get it all done-how-to-get-it-all-done-moleskin-weekly-planner-17-months

4. Prioritize.

I am guilty of putting every task I can think of on a single day. To stop the madness, my daily to-do list is broken into two categories: my top three tasks and other tasks I would like to get done. I do my best to not start on the other tasks until I have finished my top three. There are also days where I only have a top one or two tasks that will take me most of the day and all of my energy. That’s great too.

Prioritize what you have to do to prevent wasted time and leaving things that must get done that day until it’s too late. When everything feels like a huge priority, realize that you will get everything done on the list if you have been realistic with your schedule. All you need to do is get started and start hacking away at it.

5. Be realistic. 

Accept that getting it all done is a myth. You cannot do it all one a day. But you can make a serious dent and have a productive day. Be honest with yourself about how long things will take and do not try to get more done than you can. You can’t get it all done if you overcommit yourself and burn out.

6. Stay focused.

You have to keep yourself on track. Your boss, professor, or mother cannot sit next to you all day and remind you to be working. Your job is to stay on task and not let yourself waste time you don’t have. I use the Pomodoro Technique to keep myself on task and motivated.

Put away distractions, especially social media and often the entire internet in general. Go to a place where you get work done like the library or coffee shop. If you like to work from home, make a special space for working where you don’t let yourself get distracted.

7. Treat yourself!

After all of your hard work, you need to seriously show yourself some appreciation. Go for a run, watch a TV show, go out with friends, read a book, whatever you want it to be. Just be sure your top three are done first.

*This is an updated version of this post about getting it all done in college.

June Reads

Without time-consuming training for the past 8 months, I have been devouring books. This month was no exception.

I read nine books this month, although to be fair, three of them were short, read-in-one-sitting, books. I don’t want to overly brag about my selections, but this month’s book are so good! I just couldn’t get enough of them.

June Books 2016-what-to-read-this-summer-june-reads

June Reads

Rising Strong
I am new to Brené Brown. I had heard her name quite a few times, and she is even in Big Magic. I put the book on my list after hearing her on Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast.

The book was a little hard for me to get into, mostly because I was missing the helpful background from all of her books that came before it. Still, this book taught me to recognize the stories I tell myself and realize that they are not The Truth. I have stopped myself quite a few times this month from a negative story where everyone is clearly out to get me and changed it to a positive. It hasn’t rocked my world, but Brown has definitely given me more awareness of my tendencies and encouragement to take control of my experiences.

WomanCode
I had such high hopes for this book. Maybe too high. On the first page I thought I was going to tell all of my friends to read it, but by the last it didn’t seem worth their time, or mine. It did not draw on science enough in my opinion, and there was a bit too much emphasis on changing behavior like exercise and deep, emotional conversations around the monthly menstrual cycle. Not for me.

Creative Confidence
This book left me fired up about creating and writing. Written by the founder of IDEO and Stanford’s famous design school, this was a rich, rewarding book. I have notes on notes on notes. A must read! Especially if you are creative or you think you aren’t. Loved it.

The Age of Selfishness
I never pick up graphic novels, or really anything about the economy, but this one reminded me of a friend when I was browsing the library and it ended up making its way home with me. It was a bit of an odd book for me, but I appreciated the clear breakdown of Ayn Rand’s beliefs and ideas as well as the explanation of the economic collapse. Overall, it left me with great new knowledge and fairly depressed.

Retox
I spoke with Lauren Imparato for a story on the best habits of yoga teachers, and I ended up checking out her book after the piece came out. I thought I might flip through it a bit and look at the pictures. Instead I surprised myself and read it cover to cover.

I have’t used any of her solutions for things like headaches or “rage against the female machine” yet, but I have my notes at the ready. This one is great if you are vaguely familiar with yoga or interested in how you can influence what’s going on in your body.

We Should All Be Feminists
This little nugget warms my heart. It is an essay adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s (just as incredible) TEDx talk. If you have recently watched the talk most of it will feel familiar to you, but I still loved reading it. I mean, the woman was sampled by Beyoncé! She’s amazing. I moved Americanah to the top of my list after realizing she wrote it.

Grunt
I love Mary Roach. She’s one of my writer heroes, and this book is a great example of why. It’s funny, personal, and downright odd. She gives you a look at some of the weirder things all while making science interesting and easy to understand. I loved this book so much I went and heard her speak on her book tour. #HardCoreFan

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
I understood 30-40 percent of this book. It’s not Carlo Rovelli’s fault. Physics theory is not my strong point. But I do feel smarter just for reading it. The book started as columns in an Italian newspaper before they were compiled into this short (less than 100 pages) read. Whether you are a nuclear physicist or you cringe when you hear ‘chemistry’, I recommend this one.

Attachments
This is my only fiction for the month, and it was well worth the read. I really enjoyed the story, up until the end when I got mad because I didn’t feel like it was real enough. I think all of this non-fiction might be ruining my sense of fantasy. Even with my “That would never happen!” outburst at the end, I still really enjoyed it.