The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {Last One Ever!}

Here we areeeeeeeee!

The learning never, ever stops, but dang it feels cool to be done with being a full-time student…. okay, technically I’m still a full-time student, but no more lectures and exams! All I have left is 22 weeks of clinical experience.

Here’s what I learned during my last semester of classes EVER (I don’t think I’m going back to school again, but who knows?).

1) Training up mileage too quickly may result in a stress fracture. And apparently my right femur is a weak boi.

2) Don’t give into peer pressure to run a race for which you didn’t really have a desire to train throughout a muggy St. Louis summer.

3) How to teach an inclusion hip hop dance class.

4) How to search the literature up the wazooooooo.

5) People LOVE podcasts. And I have also taken a liking to podcasts in order to stay a little more up to date with current events.

6) Living with three international students (one from China, one from Japan, one from Ukraine) has been an enjoyable experience. We all cook and live very differently but can still keep the kitchen a (mostly) clean and organized space.

7) I become my worst, most complain-y self past 11pm.

8) I should avoid bringing up serious topics with anyone past 11pm.

9) I should probably just sleep at 11pm, but I still have a poor sleep schedule.

10) Eye masks are a GAME CHANGER for being able to sleep longer in the morning.

11) I truly should never take my family for granted; they are the bees knees, cream of the crop, top of the line. I love them and cannot thank them enough for what they have done for me and continue to do for me day in and day out.

12) Make the phone call home or to a friend. Don’t let phone calls die.

13) Focusing on form and using my b r a i n during each rep of an exercise (i.e., thinking about the energy, power, control, speed, external/internal cues necessary to perform the exercise properly) makes all the difference in how fatigued I get and also in how quickly I gain strength (not a research project; this is just how I perceive it).

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14) Everyone experiences some privilege, but everyone experiences some sort of marginalization as well. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” is never too cliché.

15) The fight to remain steadfast in the good practices and truths (e.g., always pray, working out will probably make you feel better if you’re stressed, it is good to look up and sit in silence on public transportation sometimes) that you know is a never-ending fight, especially if you’re like me and you have very little self-control and you tend to form poor habits more quickly than good habits. Fight that goooood fight.

16) Avocado egg toast and overnight oats still haven’t failed me as staple foods in a pinch (or every day, honestly).

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17) Swimming was a big fear of mine (not because I can’t hold myself up and move in water, but because I had no idea what I was doing…literally how do I put on a swim cap), but I have found it to be a fun challenge and a killer workout that I enjoy even post-stress fracture healing. (Thanks, Abby!)

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18) I can make time for the things that matter. I like to make excuses to not see a friend, for example, but there usually aren’t any good ones when it comes down to it.

19) In some moments of my life, I am the person who I never thought I would be (for better or for worse), which has taught me to be more understanding and compassionate towards others in their points of weakness. We should all call each other higher but without judgement, because I could be you and you could be me by the flip of a circumstance switch.

20) Nights never used to be a huge issue for me but these days I need to CHECK MYSELF when I get home exhausted after a long day, because all ya girl wants to do is eat and go on her phone, which is fine, but sometimes I turn my brain off and do too much of either.

21) I can tolerate finely diced red onions in my tacos. I used to despise raw onions, but I can appreciate the little sum’n sum’n they add.

22) This crew is loyal and I love them.

23) How to guest lecture (thanks, Evan!).

24) People say that I am a good teacher and a good public speaker. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ just some info for the ~future~ I guess.

25) God’s delight is to be with you.

I’m distracting myself with youtube videos and can no longer think of other things to type, so this is the end of this post. Thank you, as always, for reading along and for your support of this blog, even as it ebbs and flows.

So tell me:

What are some things you learned this fall?

Do you have plans for the holiday season?

 

 

 

 

Self-Improvement

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Veterans. Giving thanks for all those who have sacrificially and faithfully served our nation to preserve our freedom.

Moves.

  • Friday morning swim with Abby. Swimming is probably the best workout I get these days, which is expected, because as I’ve been saying, air is more of a premium in this activity.
  • Saturday upper body strength
    • 3×15 TRX rows, 3×10 alternating atomic / pike pushups
    • 3×8-10 lat pulldowns, 3×1 min. plank
    • 3×10 bicep curl to OH press, 3×10 single leg box squats (R leg kicked back for balance only)
    • 3×10 DB shoulder abduction to horizontal abduction (raise side and then bring front), 3×8 weighted pistols on L leg only
    • 3×7-8 bodyweight dips
  • Sunday rowing
    • 5x500m row, 12 pushups between sets
    • 2×10 light L leg press (R toe contact only)
    • 10 minutes of abs (15 rounds of 30 sec on/10 sec off)

I was hungry and sluggish at the end of that last one, but it felt great to get the heart rate up!

Officially a stress fracture. Although I have known in the depths of my heart that I had a stress fracture in my femur, I only just received the official diagnosis from the orthopedist this past Friday.

*Orthopedist walks into room*: “Alison! You win the trophy! You have a stress fracture!”

Me: *kinda confused at his reaction* “Really!? Wow I wasn’t actually expecting to have one (at this point, because I am in virtually zero pain these days).” *laughs because shocked but also relieved and kinda still confused about why he’s smiling so big*

He seemed impressed that I self-diagnosed myself, especially since my stress fracture is in such a rare spot (the shaft of the femur), but he also knew that I am a PT student, so #ifyouknowyouknow.

His prescribed precautions: Crutches for one more week (unless it starts to hurt again). No running/super high impact exercise for 3 months. Biking and rowing are okay if it does not hurt. Strength training can slowly progress from light weight on machines and then free squatting in a month.

Honestly, the ramifications are not as bad as I thought for having a tiny crack in the strongest bone in my body. I am just amped to get the crutches outta my life by the end of this week! My left leg is going to be 2 inches larger in diameter by the end of this though, because it has literally been pulling most of the weight.

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Self-improvement. While my best friend and her husband are celebrating one whole year of marriage and adulthood stuff, I have been realizing more and more ways in which I am a) not a real adult yet, despite being > 18 years old; b) an uninformed potato. To combat my ignorance, I have started:

  • praying about little ways by which I can educate myself more without being overwhelmed with doing ALL THE THINGS and while still maintaining my priorities
  • listening to podcasts (various news, Stuff You Should Know, Freakonomics)
  • writing and (actually) checking my to-do list throughout the day
  • trying to shave off time from thinking “what should I do,” and just doing something

Date day. Food, studying, and Mass — the usual, but so much better with this sweet fella! We went to Gene’s Flatbread Cafe in Chinatown for their famous lamb cumin hand pulled noodles, and ooooo baby those noodles were doughy and delightful. The broth and lamb were so flavorful!

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“It was a v good day.” - @the_johnle

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Followed by conversation + studying at Starbucks and then Mass. Thank you for a wonderful day, John!

Hype girl. Shoutout to my friend, Megan, who will say to every person (when I am present): “alison underscore grooves… her instagram and blog game are SO STRONG.” Megan — you are the best hype girl out there. Thank you for the support! ♥︎

Brother. Happy 26th birthday, best pal. Miss your guts!

So tell me:

What are some ways you seek to self-improve currently?

Do you listen to podcasts (any recs)? What did you do this weekend?

Spontaneity

Moves.

  • Core and grip strength work at rock climbing (no actual wall climbing for now) + 15 min single leg assault biking on Thursday
  • Rest day Friday
  • 20 min HIIT workout Saturday
  • Swimming and aqua jogging yesterday

Less pressure. Because I have limited options with what I can do for my workout, I feel less pressure to choose the “perfect” workout each day. It’s very literally a matter of, “whatever I can do, I will do, and I’m happy with that.” It’s freeing, and I’ve found it to be a blessing in disguise with this femur fiasco.

MRI. I got one on Friday morning at 6am and I swear I was falling asleep in that large, loud tube they put you through. It was my first MRI ever, and what an interesting experience it was! They gave me a blanket to stay warm, large headphones to block out the noise (with the option to play music for you but I declined because I wanted to try to nap for the 30 min I was in there), and the machine is a painless, loud as heck, gentle giant. I’m glad I went in feet first though, because I think my slight claustrophobia would have freaked me out a little bit. Results will come back tomorrow I hope!

Spontaneity. I made a spontaneous trip to Providence, RI this weekend to visit my friend Zoe, who was hosting essentially a Catholic women’s brunch at her apartment. It was totally off brand for me to make a decision like that so last minute, but I was feeling good about the amount of work I had to do, and how often do I get to do spontaneous things like this? Making plans also helps me to actually get work done rather than derp around because “I have soooo much timeeee.”

Brunch was a blast! It was a super girly Pinterest-y thing to start, but then we started talking about farts and that’s when the real party started. I made little ham and cheese crescent rolls, and boy do I love pillsbury crescent rolls. Buttery, pillowy goodness.

Also spontaneous? Getting burgers, fries and shakes last night with my friends Abby and Joy. It was good for the soul.

Monday, here we come!

So tell me:

What was the best spontaneous thing you’ve done recently?

Have you ever gotten an MRI before? Did you enjoy the experience?

What did you do this weekend?

Both Mental and Physical Healing

Moves. Some random single leg burpees with no rhyme or reason right before dinner in my apartment room.

Less mobility and the mind. This period of limited mobility has been difficult, because besides the high impact workouts, I can’t just pick up and even go on a nice brisk walk (one of my favorite things to do). Stairs are a hassle and taking the elevator to the second floor is more of a norm. People drive me places (so grateful!). Such is the nature of healing an injury in your leg.

But I’ve reflected a bit on how my mind has actually healed a lot in these past few years. When I was a freshman in college, I would likely be in a BIG tizzy if I were in my situation today. When I came to college, I did 50 squats every day while brushing my teeth. I only took the stairs. I could count on one hand the number of times I took the bus / train. My step count would be well over 10,000 every single day. I would do burpees as a study break. And this was not even including my formal workout. I fueled myself well, but I knew that I was moving so often.

Let me tell you, I’ve been moving a LOT less these days. I do what I can, and I stay active, but my body hasn’t experienced a “formal” workout in forever it seems. Bummed? Of course! But I have so much to explore in terms of what I can do with 3 of 4 limbs. I can put a lot of my mental effort into thinking about my…plank and pushup form. My left hip hinging motion in a pistol squat. Breathing when swimming.

I have so many resources available to me, so there is no real reason for me to complain. I can also be grateful to say that it’s temporary; not everyone can say that. And I can still eat to my satisfaction. Might be less than usual since I’m just not expending as much energy, but sometimes it’s the same amount of food as before my injury, and that’s okay. It helps me get out of the mindset of “workout = must eat more food, no workout = must eat less.”

“Why does Janice’s face look like yours?” Real quote from one of our (*cough* Asian) students in dance class last night. Like, what!? Boy, in that case, my face looks like yours too! It was comical and I’m not actually mad at this 5 year old boy, but Janice and I have definitely received a lot of comments and questions about our ethnicity and/or relation to each other, especially in St. Louis this past summer (I love STL but it truly has a different demographic and… disposition). Diversity (and general manners? even in adults, lemme tell ya) is a work in progress.

Halloween. I do not have a costume, but one of my favorite embarrassing costumes from the past is a flamingo one year. Oh, and a toucan the next year. Costco apparently stocked up on exotic bird costumes back in the day.

So tell me:

Do you ever have mental struggles when required to back off from exercise / movement?

Do you ever face comments of ignorance re: ethnicity / religion?

Are you dressing up for halloween this year? What are you!?

 

Troublemaker, People Pleaser

It’s been a minute (five whole days seems like a long time to not blog now)! I had a midterm ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Doctor’s orders. Regarding my femur, I had an appointment with the orthopedic specialist on Friday, and he told me, point-blank, “You need to get an MRI,” as well as, “Even if it’s just a stress reaction [vs. a stress fracture], I’d like you to be on crutches for about a month.”

Me: “But…can it be partial weight bearing at least?”

Him: “If you want this to heal quickly, it needs to be non-weightbearing or maybe toe touch for balance.”

Hmph. It’s not so easy being on the other side of the patient-provider interaction…

Troublemaker, part 1. Putting little to no weight through my right leg has proven to be challenging, both mentally and physically. Physically, I carry a CRAP TON of stuff throughout my day, and holding all of that with mostly my arms is like its own form of training (at least I have some alternative form of cardio?). Mentally, it seems silly because my right leg does not hurt at all when I walk short distances. So I can crutch on the sidewalks and then walk completely normally when I get home. I feel…fraudulent. But I know that it’s not about the pain; it’s about the process of healing. I do miss my usual moves and grooves as well.

I’ve been a troublemaker at times, weight bearing and walking on my right leg when I’m in class or in the Catholic center (my argument: “Doc said I can walk household distances without crutches!!”). But alllll my PT friends + John are on my TAIL about using my crutches as often as possible. As they well should be (and as I well should know to do).

People have been incredibly kind though. Strangers offering to carry my bags, people offering their seats on the train, friends walking slowly with me and opening doors for me, John helping me get groceries. The list goes on and on each day, and for that I am grateful. How can I not be happy!?

Physical therapists everywhere I turn. That was this past Saturday at the American Physical Therapy Association of Massachusetts annual conference!! I learned oodles and now have an ignited flame to advocate for PT in new and #innovative ways. PT is so much more than little Alison could have imagined when she entered into this program almost 6 years ago.

Troublemaker, part 2. Over this weekend, I for some reason felt acutely aware of all the times when I have failed others, either my friends, family, or strangers. I felt heavy and ashamed for all of the times in both the far and recent past when I have hurt people out of ignorance, selfishness, accident.

I’m a people-pleaser at my core, which is good in some respects, but my people-pleasing attitude has often been a BIG source of pride for me. Almost 3 years ago, I begged God to help me break down the walls of pride in my heart — to make me more humble. It’s been a slow and grueling process (that can’t stop, won’t stop, baby) of constantly learning humility through my own failures and shortcomings (along with all the usual embarrassments of my life). And of course, God humbles me in the best ways He knows how.

He has allowed (but not caused!) me to make mistakes and see the effects of my vices, which unfortunately results in others being hurt sometimes, in big or small ways. This has made me really dang familiar with big apologies and the sacrament of confession. But this has also made me realize that I cannot perseverate and bang my head over my failures. It’s easy for me to think it’s the end of the world if someone is mad at me or know that I hurt someone. But what ought to be the reaction? Sincerely apologize, make appropriate amends, and do better. Move forward. It’s not about me.

What does “doing better” mean to me? My people-pleasing tendency has not disappeared, but the way I view myself in relation to others has shifted… On the one hand, I understand more the effects of seemingly small instances of laziness or neglect in loving others. This brings me low in knowing my weakness as a human. On the other hand, it helps me to have a healthier sense of what loving others means. It’s not the big, “WOW THANK YOU ALISON” moments. Sometimes it’s silent refrain from certain words or actions on my part — things that the world will never notice but that are truly better in the end.

Food. To lighten things up here…

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I’ve been using leftover beer cheese dip in a lot of my dinners (perks of potlucks). On toast with an egg on top. In leftover rice with egg and sriracha on top. On a spoon.

The photo got cut off, but I tried a pumpkin mochi muffin for the first time with Lauren and Joy last week, and it changed my life. Gooey, underbaked-kinda-vibe that is what baked good dreams are made of. I want to make some!!

One day last week I ate, like, two bananas and 3 tbsp of PB total before noon.

Moves. Besides crutching everywhere (exhausting!):

  • Swimming with Abby. Also aqua jogging without a floatation belt — that’s WORK.
  • Upper body strength
  • Lots of yoga
  • Single leg strength on my unaffected side (my left butt is sore and my right side is just chillin)
  • I tried single leg rowing and that was doable but felt kinda weird
  • Core work up the wazoo

Whatever works!

Halloween costume? Janice may or may not have a boba costume made for me today. We shall see. If not, I’ll be a pirate or something with my crutches.

Wednesday already, what fun!

So tell me:

Have you ever had to use crutches or follow a protocol for something to heal in your body? Was it difficult?

Are you a people-pleaser? Has this affected you in any particular way?

What is a weird way you’ve spiced up leftovers?

Have you ever eaten a mochi muffin?

Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, whatcha gonna be this year!?