Day in the Life: PT Clinical in St. Louis

5:40 am — Alarm goes off. Eye mask comes off (or I struggle to find it lost in the covers somewhere). CHUG a whole bottle full of water. Roll outta bed and say a quick morning offering prayer: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do Your will. O Blessed Mother, I consecrate myself to you; please make me an instrument of your love and peace.”

5:42 am — Use the bathroom. Not gonna lie, I chug that water so I can have a consistent morning poop. Also brush teeth, put in contacts, a little makeup to look not-dead.

6:00 am — Eat breakfast. Sometimes my stomach is not really ready for breakfast at this hour of the day, but I kinda don’t have a choice because there is no break from 7am-12pm at my clinical currently, and I’m not the kind of person, especially doing physical therapy as my job, who can fast until noon before eating.

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Breakfast is typically (still) overnight oats or a yogurt bowl during work days. Something I can prep the night before, and of course, something I love (i.e. peanut butter and banana).

6:25 am — Leave for work. One of my roommates has a car, so whenever her work days line up with mine, she very kindly drives me to work. Otherwise, I’ll take public transit, which actually only takes 15 minutes max from my door to the office!

6:50 am — Arrive at work. Definitely pee. Definitely chug more water.

7:00 am — Start chart reviewing and off we go to work!

12:00 pm — Luuuuuuunch. Truly a glorious time of the day. I am grateful to say that I am really loving working in acute care PT right now, but MAN am I ready for lunch when it rolls around.

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We (the other students from BU and I) all pretty much have the same lunch time, so we like to meet outside in the hospital courtyard if it’s nice out to get some much needed fresh air and sun. Us, all the other employees, and all the summer bugs. Ah yes.

^^This was my lunch all last week and it was GREAT. I completely made it up on the spot: Brown rice (cooked in chicken broth — do it) with sautéed onion, carrots, yellow squash, black beans, and peas with cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper…and some KETCHUP (rationale: didn’t have tomato paste but wanted it to be more taco-y). With cheese on top. Don’t hate me; I promise it was delicious.

This was also fantastic: bone-in pork chop (that I cut off the bone and into pieces) with brown rice and sautéed carrots and onions with soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and turmeric.

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Main dish is usually followed up by some fresh fruit (peaches, strawberries and green grapes have been delightful) and some nut/dried fruit mix. I try to make lunch filling because there’s no break again til I’m done with work at 4:30 and usually not until after I go to the gym.

Sometimes I have hot chocolate from the office as an afternoon pick-me-up too 🙂

4:30 pm — All done with work for the day (some days it’s 3:30 or 4). Walk to the gym.

4:45 pm — Move and groove, baby.  Some days it’s a 20 minute HIIT workout, some days it’s mostly strength, some days it’s cardio. Whatever floats the boat that day.

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I’ve been trying to lift heavier again, and I did 3 reps of 205# hex bar deadlifts last week! But the workouts that still make me happiest are HIIT workouts like this one:

5 rounds (30 sec on/10 sec off):

  • American (overhead) KB swings (35#)
  • Pushup with knee drive
  • Goblet squats (35#)
  • Single leg jackknives
  • Burpees
  • Side jump lunges

I sweated at least 1 gallon of fluid in this STL humidity.

5:45 pm — Here’s where the schedule varies a little bit. Some days I’ll go straight home, but on Thursdays there’s a young adult group at church that Janice and I like to attend, where they serve dinner followed by Adoration/confession. It is so wonderful!

6:30 pm — Let’s say I went home this day. I usually snack on some veggies before eating this basically every night because it’s an easy classic that never lets me down.

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Post dinner snack has been cereal of a peanut butter variety. For a while it was “PB&J Discs” from Whole Foods, but now I’ve moved onto Panda Puffs 😀

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8:00 pm — Pray. I have been trying to stay committed and disciplined with 20 minutes of silent prayer every day, because I lost that habit for a bit, but I don’t want that. Intentional time with God is absolutely necessary, and I can tell when it’s lacking.

8:30 pm — Maybe FaceTime a friend. Maybe talk to the roommates. Maybe derp around on social media. Definitely pack food for the next day.

9:30 pm — Shower. Brush teeth. Set out clothes for the next day.

10:00 pm (ideally, but usually later) — Sleeps time. Janice offered to tuck me in one night and now she does it for me whenever I sleep before her LOL. It’s cute.


That’s all she wrote! I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in STL so far. Having close friends with me in the same clinical has been a blessing, and having a young adult group at church has also been wonderful. The relative routine has been nice, but my friends keep me from being cooped up when I’m tired and help me try new things and motivate me in the gym, so that is A+.

So tell me: What does a “normal” day look like for you?

 

 

 

 

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The Food and Fitness Relationship is Like Any Other

…for me, at least.

And I’m sure many others. Hence the existence of blogs / Instagram accounts similar to mine that were created for the purpose of she struggles of striking what is called “healthy balance.”

The food and fitness relationship is like any other inherently good relationship — lifelong, important, often fun, sometimes frustrating, at times hurtful, evolving, dependent on other factors in life, but always able to be healed / improved.

I would consider myself fully recovered from my eating disorder. But thoughts like these still pop into my head: Belly is fluffy today. What if I just ate half of what I normally do for dinner? What if I cut my daily calorie intake but a couple hundred? Maybe I’ll do burpees when I’m digested from dinner. I’m definitely not as shredded as her. I bet I’m heavier than that guy over there. 

To be clear, these can all be thoughts that are associated with disordered eating, hands down. However, it is the result of these thoughts that matters; what is it that you do when you have thoughts like these? Do these thoughts manifest as behaviors?

Thanks be to God, although these thoughts exist every dang day, I don’t think they ever manifest in behaviors that are harmful. But I’d be lying if there is not a little bit of a fight against impulsive restrictions or even just preoccupation with the layer of fat over my belly some days.

A photo of myself in a bathing suit from approximately 6-7 years ago (wow) came up on one of those Facebook “memories” (the best and worst thing there ever was on my facebook feed), and my jaw nearly dropped. I was like, “HECK, I had a dang 6 pack!” I was approximately 40 lbs. lighter then than I am now.

This is where you might be expecting me to say, “But I’m soooo much happier now!” THAT IS VERY TRUE, 1000%. But I am also at a point where I could afford to lose a couple pounds, and I would still be healthy and strong. I haven’t been able to do pull-ups in a while due to lack of practice but also a change in my body proportions so them lower limbs are hefty little fellas. So what do I do?

Option A: Intentionally cut some calories and lose some weight, because I’d likely be just as healthy as I am now. Who knows? I might even get those pull-ups more easily.

Option B: Do nothing about it.

Option C: Honestly evaluate my overall eating habits. Rather than saying, “I wanna cut X number of calories from my daily intake,” I could try asking myself: In which circumstances do I know I tend to stuff myself more than I’d like? Which emotions make me want to eat even though I’m not hungry? Am I sleeping enough? In which situations do I feel like I want to restrict? In which circumstances is the social/celebratory aspect of eating more important to me than my hunger/fullness cues?  And then, without judgement(!), I can address those instances where my relationship with food and fitness is a little rocky. Because any relationship needs consistent and constant evaluation. Some people’s relationship with food and fitness requires a little more effort and bickering back and forth than others’ and that is o k a y.

I’ll choose option C and see where it takes me.

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the usual suspects like oats and avocado egg toast are in there because I ♥︎ them, but you bet your bottom dollar we ate a boat load of sushi and several sweets on my birthday and we continue to explore new treats every weekend *drool*

Fitness has been pretty steady and level-headed. I don’t really count rest vs. workout days, and I’m varying workouts and still getting stronger / faster (besides the fact that I sprained my ankle last week while running).

Food always seems to be the kicker. Oh how I wish I could eat to my intuition with little to no thought in the world. Sometimes that happens! But not always, and that’s what this post is aiming to iterate; no matter where you are in your relationship with food and fitness — whether you are still recovering from an eating disorder, you are kinda sorta distressed about it sometimes, or whether you face unhelpful thoughts every day like I do — it’s okay to be fighting the good fight for a long time.

It’s not okay to be consumed by an eating disorder, and that fight truly requires the help of others who are qualified to help (i.e. a registered dietitian or a counselor/psychologist who specializes in EDs). But like any other relationship, it is okay to not have a perfect relationship with food and fitness.

So tell me: Thoughts?

Summer in St. Louis

On this Memorial Day, we remember all the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.


Summa timeeeeee (almost officially)!!

Meanwhile, I’m still listening to my “winter grooves 2019” playlist on Spotify.

After finishing up the semester, I spent a week at home in NY with the family for Mother’s Day and couch time down time. My body probably needs 10 hours of sleep per night to make up for my lack of sleep this semester, but anything >7.5 hours is a MIRACLE, because this brain of mine can’t shut down for much longer than that. I’ve been a fan of using a blindfold to sleep at night so the light doesn’t wake me.

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despite our insistence, she is still washing dishes in her beautiful red dress as we speak 🤦🏻‍♀️ happy Mother’s Day, @yeungvictoria500 I love you very much and am so grateful for your life of self-sacrificial love —————————— a prayer for mothers (adapted from a prayer at Mass today): For all our mothers - for those who are joyful and those who are mourning; for those who are strong and those who are weak; for those who are loved and those who are unloved - thank You, O Lord for the gift of mothers who share in the gift and the power of creation. Bring them closer to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Virgin Mother and to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Moves and grooves have been happening, just a little less intensely and less frequently these days. I’m just pooped. I’ll probably write a post about fitness/food life these days, since it’s been a minute since we have discussed!

But I still love getting in some good ol’ burpees. Forever and always ♥︎

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“be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9) has been the theme this week - in final exams, maintaining prayer life, choosing the good, exercising, sleeping after watching a scary movie (#regrets; still traumatized). aka normal things. but I’ve found that I need the most strength and courage for the most mundane and small things in life, because I’m a naturally lazy, procrastinating, fearful person. the Lord, our God is with us always though, so be not afraid!! hop to it! 🐰 —————————— 3 rounds (I took lots of breaks) • 10 tuck jump burpees • 10 squat cleans • 10 strict presses • 10 triple lunge jump kicks • 10 inclined clapping pushups (you can see I took a break halfway thru) • 10 prisoner squat jumps (#ouch) #moveandgroove

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So the situation for summer: I’m doing my second PT clinical in St. Louis!! I’ve completed my first week already, and I am grateful to say that I am loving it so far. I am here with three other friends from my program, which has made the transition a lot more enjoyable and comforting. You can see the Boston University crew on the top right corner of this nifty collage.

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The scrubs lifestyle is superior to all work attire. No question. Except for the fact that we also have to wear a lab coat with pulse oximeters and gait belts in the pockets too, so it’s a hefty uniform.

The gym that is affiliated with our hospital is LIT. It has a sled (see bottom right of collage), pull-up resistance bands, free fitness classes, a tire, and TOWEL SERVICE INCLUDED. I actually have only used the towels once so far, but there is something bougie about having the option, I feel. The student rate is also great!

Speaking of fitness, I did a Tough Mudder Classic Race with one of my uncles (who lives in STL) last weekend. It was a relatively impulsive, last-minute decision, but it was on sale via Groupon and my uncle kindly treated me to it as an early birthday gift (thanks, Uncle P!!). I figured it would just be for fun, and since I am missing the Spartan Race in Boston this year with my friend, Ben, I thought this would suffice as a substitute, despite not being trained at all…

It was a blast!! It’s less of an athletic race than the Spartan Race, IMO. The obstacles overall require less strength and conditioning, but if you’re claustrophobic or afraid of heights / cold water / electric shock, the Tough Mudder helps ya get over those real quick, haha! I would do it again with friends!

I got to hang out with my uncle, aunt, and cousins before starting clinical, which was fantastic. These kids are so fun and fit, man.

We even did a tabata together!

Throwback to our first tabata together ever (before their 4th child was even born!):

In other news, there was a big tornado watch in STL last week, as some of you might know. It seemed legit enough that we moved from the third floor of our apartment building to the first floor lobby entrance with our plates full of dinner (see far left second row)…priorities, ya know? Girls gotta eat. Thanks be to God, we were all okay in our area. Praying for those who were not as fortunate.

I’m actually standing in LaGuardia airport right now because after my first week of clinical, I already got a four day weekend (#spoiled). I took that opportunity to join my family and relatives in Maryland to witness my uncle being ordained a deacon! I flew into NY and then drove down to Maryland with my family on Friday. Then we drove back up to NY Saturday night after the long day of festivities and now I’m headed back to STL. Good grief.

But GOOD > grief. What an incredible, blessed weekend to be with the whole family, especially those who I had not seen in ages, to witness my uncle’s ordination. My uncle who was ordained, as well as his family, were beaming the whole weekend. There were lots of happy tears shed. It’s difficult to explain what his ordination means to each of my family members, including myself, but the best I can say for now is that we are all filled with deep joy and gratitude.

That’s the update for now! Keep an eye out for more posts this summer; I’m hoping to do a day in the life and some chats about recent fitness/body image thoughts soon!

Hope you are doing well 🙂 Thanks for reading along.

(I almost just signed, “Best, Alison” lol.)

So tell me:

Have you ever been to STL? Tips on what to do / where to eat / how to stay safe (jk but not really)? 

Have you ever done a Tough Mudder? What about a Spartan Race? Both (if so, which do you like more and why)?

What are you up to this MDW, Americans?

A highlight of your weekend otherwise!

 

 

A Note Re: Feminism and Life

Last summer I almost left PT school to become a religious sister.

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I wanted to become like this woman, Sr. Bethany Madonna, SV. She’s a Sister of Life. The Sisters of Life are an active contemplative order, which means they pray a LOT (duh), but they are also ACTIVE in doing things in the world. Specifically, they are ceaselessly active in the work of helping mothers in any income setting and of every race who struggle with the decision to keep a child in the womb. They invite pregnant mothers and their children to live in their convent for the early years of the children’s lives. They provide oodles of practical supplies to families who are struggling and give emotional and spiritual support to fathers and mothers who are in the midst of the difficult period of having a child, wanted or unwanted. They help with logistics of giving up children for adoption. They hold joyous baby showers for single mothers. They go shopping with women who just need a pal. I went to the Bronx once to help the Sisters of Life babysit four children of a single mother so that she could have a tiny bit of rest for the evening. They are the mothers, sisters, listeners, and girl friends of women who are hurting (plus babysitters to their children and supporters of fathers). It is NEVER through force or manipulation but only through hospitality, gentleness, and self-giving love…and gosh darn it, I’ve never heard of anything more feminine than that.

Obviously, I’m not a nun right now. Ultimately, I didn’t feel like Sisters of Life was where I was meant to be, and I desired to come back to Boston to do clinical, finish school, and see what God had in store for me there (it’s been good btw). But the work of the Sisters of Life is not limited to just them, not just to those who chose that path of life. Because of the Sisters, married and single people of all ages and races help support this ministry – not just through a remote donation via Facebook but through real, physical help. For example, my friends and I had the privilege of visiting, befriending, and helping a happily married mother whose latest baby boy has an intestinal disease that required him and his mother to stay in Boston Children’s Hospital for 3 months last fall, away from their family. This wasn’t an issue of whether she wanted to keep her child or not, but this was an opportunity for support, kindness, and empowerment in her state of life as she supported the life of her son without her husband by her side.

This post is not going to answer or address every (or any) pro-choice argument that is out there. This post is not to toot my own horn, because I have done very little in the grand scheme of things. But this post hopefully shows that there is an understanding on the pro-life end that women need to be helped in order to help their children. I’m sitting on a plane currently, and the thought that comes to mind is, “Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.” Women, ESPECIALLY those who are victims of rape or incest, absolutely need to be helped in every way possible. But those “others” still need to be helped too. This post is to show that there is a way to do BOTH, and people are doing it because it matters. There are people, women, in fact, who make it their life’s work and mission to FIGHT for women – those in abusive relationships, those who never wanted to be pregnant, those who do want their babies but can’t support them financially. They do practical things in order to support and dignify and empower WOMEN while also protecting new life as well, thus raising up a whole host of new women. I, too, want to be a woman who can do both.

I’m not a Sister of Life; I am a woman who is pursuing a doctoral degree, but I don’t ever want to let go of this attitude and action of real, personal, compassionate support of women and their children. As a future physical therapist, one of the things I admire most about it is it’s inherent fight for the weakest and most vulnerable. We care for people who literally can’t breathe on their own, who can’t sit up by themselves, and we fight our dang hardest to get them to a point where they can do SOMETHING, ANYTHING functional. I think that same fight for an unborn child (yes, from the moment of conception) who may or may not grow up with a low quality of life is fair and dutiful. Can we as a society give them the chance at SOMETHING, ANYTHING in this beautiful life?

A law won’t necessarily change hearts to consider the life of an unborn child, but feminism like that of the Sisters of Life might, because they care about all life – those of women and those who have not yet seen the light of day.

There is work to do, absolutely, and Lord, allow me to do it wherever I go.

The Great and Small Things I Learned {Grad School Year II}

Well well well.

If it isn’t the old BLOGGY BLOG. It pains me to see that I have only blogged twice in 2019 thus far, but I am hoping that will change as I head off to clinical this summer and look forward to a (hopefully…please, Lord) lighter semester in the fall.

I realized that I didn’t do a “things I learned” post after last semester, to which I *GASPED* because it has been a tradition to post one after every semester…

Talk about a trip down memory lane! Just looking at that long list of blog posts reminds me of the great privilege it has been to have had such a rich college experience — one full of the most wonderful joys and the most aching heartbreaks in every aspect of life. God is good.

Enough sap for now. There will be more sap sometime later in this post, I’m sure.

Here we go — a list of the GREAT and s m a l l things I learned in this second year of DPT school:

1) B’s get DPT degrees, man. Sometimes you just gotta celebrate that B-level grade with all the joy and gratitude in the world and then mmmove on with ya life.

2) I need to get more sleep to be a good human.

3) There is so much grace and beauty in witnessing your best friend enter into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony *heart eyes x1000*.

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[Nicole Ellen Photography]

4) Evidence-based health care practice is possible and very important.

5) The why, how, and when to “crack someone’s back” (read: not for everyone and not super often). This is one tiny aspect of what I learned, in addition to a heck of a lot about treating many neurological conditions and neck/back pain, which involves mostly EXERCISE!

6) I’m a big Khalid fan. Also H.E.R. Just into those R&B vibes, I guess.

7) I am capable of taking lukewarm/cold-ish showers for 90 days straight (it was a fasting thing that happened before Lent and through Lent).

8) I have an endless list of weaknesses that seems to grow by the day, but this has caused me to learn how to lean hard into God’s strength and grace.

9) How to really think, pray, and reason through a relatively big decision, even if others do not approve of the decision I make.

10) Young people living out their faith steadfastly and truthfully can and will be persecuted for it.

11) There are many ways that I as a Catholic need to love others better. Through reflection and prayer, I have actually learned a great deal about how to be a better Catholic from my friends who do not share my faith. God has no limits and continues to humble me as a human being.

12) I COULD run a half marathon if I really wanted to run one. I have NOT yet, but I COULD.

13) My sides have gotten pudgier, but I have learned to embrace them and, honestly, I think I perform better in my workouts having them around ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

14) It is important and good to call my parents more often (love you, mom and dad!).

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15) Sometimes, if it’s past 10pm, conversation with friends is more important than studying.

16) “Athleisure” is the way to go, baby (95% of the time). Whether I exercise or not that day. Because studying in jeans is not a comfortable lifestyle.

17) I realized in the last month of school that having a daily goals list is a good idea. Go figure!

18) Studying with friends is very encouraging, motivating, and sometimes it even saves my butt when I’m like, “Wait, I didn’t know she posted lecture that we’re supposed to do on our own…”

19) Talking out loud to myself / a friend to study is helpful and probably my study method of choice. Writing things down is second place.

20) There are plenty of things that I need to constantly reflect upon or let others reflect back to me in order to know how to improve and grow as a person.

21) It’s never too late to ask for forgiveness, and it’s never too late to forgive.

22) Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls are the best cinnamon rolls of all time (thanks to Sarah’s mom and to Zoe for making these and introducing me to such a heavenly treat).

23) How to not take straightforward confrontation/comments personally all the time.

24) I need to work on my spine mobility.

25) Using kitchen scissors to make a “chopped” salad is highly effective.

26) I’m starting to like my overnight oats a leeeeetle more liquid-y than I used to… just 1/4 c. more of milk perhaps.

27) A sense of how to teach and manage an inclusion dance class for children with and without disabilities.

28) I can make it to literally the last pair of underwear / socks before doing laundry, and that takes approximately 2 weeks only HAHA.

29) Talking to trusted, holy people about my inner turmoils and battles is very good and allows for a lot of room for grace to help me emerge from the struggles.

30) Even if I do not have make time to sit down and pray for 20 minutes each day, it is fruitful and good to talk to God throughout the day in between everything that is happening. It’s like texting/calling your best friend to keep them updated on every last detail 🙂

31) The people who have journeyed with me during my time in Boston are some of the most precious gifts I have received these last 5 years.

32) I have to start thinking about real-life things like jobs and ~the future~ in less than one year, even though I still feel like I’m just in school for the rest of my life. AGH!!!

33) I missed blogging. ♥︎ It was kinda hard getting the wheels turning, but here we are.

One more year of grad school to go, and I am both terrified and stoked. It’s been a trip so far, but I’m grateful for each day of the journey.

Thanks for tuning in, friends! I hope you are having a great May so far. We are almost halfway through 2019 — w-h-ho-hooaaaa. Why is it still < 50° outside right now though!?!?

Have a great week!

So tell me:

How has 2019 been for you?

What are some of the great and small lessons you’ve learned so far?

College/Grad school students: what’s new!? How was this year?

What is everyone doing for the summerI have a 12-week clinical at a hospital kinda far from home, which will be an adventure, I’m sure!