The Great and Small Things I Learned {Summer Clinical #2}

Sometimes I forget I have a blog.

But I lounged around yesterday for about an hour just scrolling through blogs that I follow on my Feedly like I used to during my high school leisure days… ahhhh. It was lovely, and I remembered that I like to blog too HAHA.

I’ve given a glimpse of how this summer has been in STL. Now that I am back home in New York / Boston, the reflective mindset has started to settle a bit. Ergo, it is time for another edition of “Great and Small Things I Learned.”

How to even begin summarizing the oodles of things I learned in the hospital!?

I worked with a physical therapist on the medicine floor of Barnes Jewish Hospital. This means we saw patients who have pretty much any and every comorbidity under the sun and who were admitted for a reason that is not primarily neurological, cardiopulmonary, or orthopedic. For example, I saw a lot of patients admitted for falls, sepsis, altered mental status, acute kidney injuries, hypoglycemia, hypertensive emergencies, acute onset of weakness from metabolic causes… etc… I guess.

Communication

50% of patients wanted nothing to do with physical therapy. De-escalating situations with  patients who had altered mental status or who were agitated at the time was a big skill to learn, but by the end of the clinical, almost no amount of sass or yelling could faze me.

Empathy and Listening

Requirements in the healthcare field. In the first few weeks of clinical, it was easy to be stressed and preoccupied over my performance as a student PT, so I had to remind myself that this job is about the patient in front of me, and the patient is hurting, often in more ways than one. Listening and motivational interviewing are always helpful.

Integrity, Honesty and Moving Forward

I made plenty of mistakes during clinical, but some were bigger than others. Thankfully, none of the mistakes resulted in anyone’s injury, but I learned some valuable lessons the hard way, that’s for sure. I had to practice integrity and timely honesty about my mistakes, and furthermore, I had to move forward and continue in confidence after all was said and done. My clinical instructor (who was amazing!) counseled me that letting my mistakes get to my head does not serve anyone well.

Neuromuscular Connection

The trendy/granola term for this is “mind-muscle connection,” I think. THINKING about what I want my muscles to do and how fast I want them to it during a workout has helped with increasing strength. There’s literature about it out there… I’m not going to go find it right now. But intentionality in life is important, and working out ain’t an exception! As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would say, “FOCUS!!!”

To “Just Be”

Moving onto matters outside of the hospital, I am grateful to say that I made several great friends through the young adult group at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. So many people took me (and Janice) under their wings and welcomed us into their community with love and generosity that were just astounding. People cooked for us, drove us around, invited us to watch the sunrise with them on a hill in the park, took us grocery/thrift store shopping, helped me babysit my cousins, toured us through the art museum, swing danced with us, prayed with and for us…

In so many of these great times, my friend Maria would call it “just being” — putting the phone down (even though I’d still snap a photo or two for posterity/the blog, ya know) and soaking in the moment, whatever it is, however mundane it may be. To “just be” with pals in fellowship and faith through the everyday and not-so-everyday things, and to do it all joyfully.

My heart misses all of our friends back there. They were so f r e e. Free and secure in their love for Christ which showed so evidently and made me want to love God more.

They made St. Louis home away from home. So did Janice, my roomie! She’d tuck me in almost every night (upon her offer) LOL. We shared a lot of ups and downs together this summer, and I am grateful for her being a dear friend through it all.

Don’t Give Up on Prayer

It can be hard to maintain a consistent prayer life with a 9-5 (or in my case, a 7-4:30) job, not so much because I don’t have time, but because brain energy is limitedddd at the end of the day. Prayer takes mental energy and attention that admittedly I don’t want to give when I get home from a long day of work + going to the gym. And I failed many days and did not prioritize prayer, but I learned to fight the good fight and never give up on it. Start anew the next day. Whether you meditate, pray, do some reading for personal development, do it, man. Probably in the morning before you’re wiped out from the day. Which means you (I) have to sleep early, which is difficult at times… But God is worthy of our love, the best we can give.

I could go on for ages and pages about my time in STL, but these are enough words for now. Thank you for reading along if you’ve made it this far.

At home now, I am doing at least 20x less work/activity and I am at least 20x MORE tired. I love being with the fam though ♥︎

Off to a camping trip with Boston friends this weekend!

P.S. Tori Kelly’s new album is FIRE.

So tell me:

What are some things you’ve learned this summer?

What are your plans this weekend?

 

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VLOG: A Day Off in St. Louis

Greetings!

Long time, no vlog. Not gonna lie, I filmed this vlog almost a month ago, and somehow I had not gotten around to editing and publishing it until today. However, a day off still looks quite like this one anyway.

Enjoy!

So tell me:

Do you like runny egg yolks?

What is your favorite meat marinade?

What are you grateful for today?

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?

 

 

 

 

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!