The Long Goodbye

Your Mother is always with you.
She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.
She’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick and
perfume that she wore.
She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well.
She’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day.
She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a
rainbow. She is Christmas morning.
Your Mother lives inside your laughter.
She’s crystallized in every teardrop.
A mother shows every emotion ………. happiness, sadness, fear,
jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy,
sorrow… and all the while, hoping and praying you will only know the good
feelings in life. She’s the place you came from, your first home, and she’s
the map you follow with every step you take.
She’s your first love; your first friend, even your first enemy, but
nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space…not
even death!

When Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he penned The Long Goodbye, a letter to the country.  He talked of the burden his wife Nancy would face in the coming years and you felt his love and concern for her.  One can’t really imagine the devastation of this disease until they live through it.  Personally, I didn’t see it as a burden, but rather the last loving gift one can give to their spouse, mother or loved one.  This burden is really borne of love and the loss is immeasurable.

Alzheimer’s disease robs one of their memories, their ability to communicate, their ability to do any of life’s basic functions.  Even worse, it causes one to lose their loved one over and over again across a long period of time.  My mother’s journey with this disease lasted over ten years.  The past six years, she was unable to speak or recognize any of her family.  She no longer smiled at us, attempted to speak, or get a glimmer of recognition in her eyes when we greeted her.  She was comfortable, cared for and well loved.  She was at peace.  Sometimes, I found comfort in the fact that she no longer was aware of what was happening to her, as I knew how much that terrified her.

Alzheimer’s disease causes one to say goodbye to their loved one, long before they actually leave.  To me, that was the worst part.   To have your mother sitting next to you, knowing she isn’t really there, is by far the worst pain I have ever endured.   You desperately seek that one glimmer of recognition when you greet her and long for the day she will smile, or look at you like she used to.  But, sadly that day doesn’t come.  What comes are long days of sitting next to someone who really isn’t there, your heart breaking over and over again.

Right before my mother stopped communicating, I had surgery on my ankle. It was the first form of sickness I went through without her love and support in my life.  I vividly remember crying over that loss.  One weekend, dad brought mom out to my house with him for a visit since I couldn’t go to visit them.  My mother was sitting on the couch in my family room that day.  When I stood up to go into the next room with my crutches, I remember her suddenly standing up and saying, “You need help?”  Lord, that moment meant the world to me.  Even deep in the depths of her new world, she still was trying to help others, to help me.  She was still there for me after all.

These past few years, I visited my mother at her nursing care facility on weekends, despite the two hours of inevitable traffic I faced each time.  There was no recognition of me, or engagement as I sat and talked with my father.  The only one she responded to anymore was my father.  She sat there with us always, but was no longer able to even try to engage in our conversations.  Each time we visited, the immense loss was like a slap across the face and heart.  Each time you walked away, you wondered if it would be the last time you were together.   Sadly, the last time I sat with my mother was early March, a full month prior to her passing. Sadly, I didn’t get to say goodbye to her or be with her when she passed.

When COVID first hit New York City, we heard repeatedly that the most vulnerable population was the elderly.  We heard our governor talk lovingly about his elderly mother and the need to keep her safe.  How fortunate for him that he has the ability to do that.  How fortunate for him, that his own mother was not in the hands of his policies as so many others were, including my mother.  How fortunate for Matilda, that she was exempt from the order his Commissioner of Health put in place, that ultimately caused the death of over 2,000 people identified as the most vulnerable population.

My mother’s death is hard for me to process, despite losing her over and over these past years.  My mother was one of the innocent victims of a policy that makes no sense.  My mother did not die from Alzheimer’s disease, or any other natural cause.  My mother died from COVID19, contracted at her care center.  My mother died when she was infected by a patient brought into that center due to these mandates, as did at least 6 other patients on her floor.  There is nothing I can do to change this outcome for my family.  But, there is something I can do to draw attention to the fatal flaw of this order in effect.  The order put forth by our Commissioner of Health, supported by our governor, is amazingly still in place despite this enormous loss of life.  In fact, Governor Cuomo seems to be doubling down that it remain as written.  His refusal to revise the order, coupled with the shifting of blame infuriates me daily.

I have lost my mother due to negligence on so many levels.  I have been met with callous remarks about how mom, living in a private room in a care center on lock down from the first week of March, likely didn’t get the virus from the patient that arrived the week before she got sick.  All of that to me is deflection.  Yes, she could have been infected from the one aide that worked with her.  Yes, lack of PPE and a plethora of other possibilities exist.  But, that does not change the fact that this order as written is flawed and poses extreme, unnecessary risk to this country’s most fragile population.  It is like throwing a match in a dry forest and blaming the store that sold the match, or the forest itself for being so dry.  The point is your order was the match that sparked this fire.

I am here as a motherless daughter, pleading with our governor to have some common sense.  To truly reflect on this order and change it.  To search his heart and ask himself,  if Matilda was in a care center, would he be able to sleep at night knowing that COVID patients were mandated to be admitted, despite an ability to truly keep the other patients safe.  Please take a moment to send an email requesting this order be reviewed and revised.  Do this in memory of my mother, Else Hess and the over 2,000 others who have perished in nursing care, alone, confused and unnecessarily.

If you would like to help others avoid this fate, please write to Governor Cuomo and the Commissioner of Health in New York at the following addresses:

Oxiris Barbot, NYC Commissioner of Health – Email Commissioner of Health

Howard Zucker, NYS Commissioner of Health – Email Commissioner

Andrew Cuomo, Governor New York State – Governor’s Email

The order came from Dr Andrew Zucker and Governor Cuomo.  If you are in NYC, please also reach out to your local politicians to report this abuse of our elderly population.

For those who have not read the order as written, here it is:

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The Notebook

Anyone who met my dad these past ten years would inevitably ask him the same question, “Did you ever watch The Notebook?”  He always replied, “No.”  They would then say, “You really should.”  On a rainy night in early December, I met my dad for dinner after a work event near his home.  As we were waiting for our dinner, dad told me he had watched the movie.  He said he wanted to know why everyone he met asked him if he had.   I was surprised that he watched and actually sad that he had to sit through that.  I asked him what he thought about the movie and he said simply, “I get why they wanted me to see it.  That is what I want.  I want to die like that and if I could, I would.”

Life in COVID19 times had other plans though.  Sadly, his beautiful wife of 65 years, my mother, passed on April 8th alone, without him by her side.  Losing her has been hard, knowing she was alone when she left us has been harder.  Not being able to give her a proper funeral, though he made it that for her despite just him, my brother and I being the only ones in attendance, the final insult.  COVID19 knows no boundaries and cares not for anyone it takes.

Sadly, my mother was living in a care center these past few years.  Throughout her illness, my dad cared for her himself, alone in their home of 60 years.  He lovingly did everything and anything needed without asking for help.  When we hired an agency to provide in home care, he still did everything for her including washing, diapering, cooking, feeding and anything else needed.  The aide was amazing, but merely provided company for mom and allowed dad to have some time to go shopping, or share coffee with friends at the local coffee shop.  He refused to allow anyone to provide the intimate care mom needed to protect her dignity.

When home care was no longer an option, as mom had several falls within the home and dad and the aide were unable to get her back up, it became time to consider nursing care.  We put mom in the hands of a very small nursing facility.  This became dad’s home as well, as he was there every morning before 9 to feed mom breakfast.  Despite being in his 80s, dad would walk the mile and a half, or ride public transportation to get to the nursing home daily.  He sat there every single day until late in the afternoon, despite the fact that mom was in good hands, unable to communicate anymore and sadly didn’t know who he was. None of that mattered to him.  He signed up for better and worse and he loved her more than anything.  He never came to family holiday dinners because he stayed with her as that was where he wanted to be and would never leave her side.

Dad loved visiting with mom at the nursing home and loved the aides and staff that worked there.  He thought of them as friends and treated them as such.  Sometimes I think dad thought he worked there.  He was there to feed mom her meals and helped push other patients in their wheelchairs if they needed help.  He sat with mom and talked to her as if she understood him.  He bought her new clothes all the time and personally washed all her clothing.  My mother loved to be dressed nicely her whole life.  You never saw my mom without her hair done, lipstick on and nicely dressed.  Dad ensured that this continued in nursing care.  Her hair was always clean, set and brushed.  She always had a nice outfit on and yes, even lipstick.  He made sure her nails were groomed and polished and treated her like the queen she was.

When COVID caused the nursing facility to lock down and not allow dad in, he was devastated.  I picked him up and had him come to my home for quarantine.  He was here when he first saw the Governor’s and Health Commissioner’s order mandating that nursing homes accept patients regardless of their COVID status.  We were horrified and scared for mom.  We called the NY Post, the paper dad has read daily for years, to ask them about this order.  The woman at the news desk said she knew nothing about it and asked my 89 year old father if he could prove what he was saying.  He responded, I don’t have the order here, but you can find it.  Can’t you look into this and do something?  That was on March 25, 2020.  That was well before over 2,000 people had died.

A few days later dad received the call we dreaded.  Mom had a low grade fever and her oxygen levels were low.  They wanted us to know that they had no access to ventilators if needed and should they send her off to and emergency room.  I asked if they had COVID positive patients at the facility, or positive staff members.  I was informed that they had one newly admitted patient that was COVID positive on her floor.  I asked them to test my mother and they did.  Mom was positive for COVID.  Sadly, I drove my dad to the nursing home.  They suited him up in protective gear and allowed him one visit with mom.  I was not allowed in to see her, nor was my brother.

The following week was a series of ups and downs.  Mom’s fever came down after being placed on medication.   She was able to eat her food and swallow.  We were hopeful she would recover as we caught this very early.  Mom also had a private room at the nursing home, that we had paid for as dad had always wanted her to have her dignity and privacy.  We thought this isolation would prove to be her saving.  Sadly, this was not to be.  On April 8, my mother passed alone in her room.

This love story had no Notebook ending, one where my dad was allowed to die next to the love of his life.  This love story of 65 years, during which my parents never spent a day apart, despite Alzheimer’s disease and its devastation ended without him even being present.  This love story had an ending that wasn’t deserved.  My mother did not deserve what happened to her.  She was not sick, she had Alzheimer’s.  She had no underlying conditions and she was not at the end of her life.  She was placed in the hands of a nursing home, which due to the mandates of our state was unable to save her.  She was in a sense murdered by an order that our governor cares so little about and continues to pretend he has no awareness of.  I think we should rename that order Matilda’s law as a legacy to his mother.  I wonder if she is proud of her son’s actions.

My mother and father were married for over 65 years.  Neither of them deserved what happened.  Nor did the other 2,000 other patients, and families, that have died in nursing care.  Sadly, nobody seems to care about this tragedy, nor will they take the story.  Only after the death toll had risen did the NY Post report on this story.  Many papers and media outlets still have not.  It is my hope that we can draw attention to and get this order changed.  I ask that we do this in honor of my mother Else Hess, who deserved to die surrounded by the love and care that she had for her entire life.  I ask that we do this in honor of my dad George Hess who struggles to accept that he was not able to be there for her when she needed him most.

If you would like to help others avoid this fate, please write to Governor Cuomo and the Commissioner of Health in New York at the following addresses:

Oxiris Barbot, NYC Commissioner of Health – Email Commissioner of Health

Howard Zucker, NYS Commissioner of Health – Email Commissioner

Andrew Cuomo, Governor New York State – Governor’s Email

The order came from Dr Andrew Zucker and Governor Cuomo.  If you are in NYC, please also reach out to your local politicians to report this abuse of our elderly population.

 

 

 

Did You Eat Your Vegetables Today?

I am a self proclaimed veggie hater, always have been.  Imagine me now in my nutrition class, the research staring back at me saying how important those pesky vegetables really are.  So important, that my plate right now should hold about 75% vegetables and 25% lean protein.  That’s a tall order for me.  My breakfast plate should also be about 50% vegetables and my lunch plate 75%.  I can almost see my mother laughing at me and saying, “Really, did you think I made this stuff up?”2bm_sgg_dinner-plate-1.png

When I was a young girl, I blatantly refused to eat any vegetable other than corn, which isn’t even a vegetable.  Thankfully, I had a dog named Pierre who loved vegetables and would eat them fast when my mother turned her back.  When I was a teenager, my mother gave up fighting with me about eating vegetables.  It was I’ll admit, quite the fight and one I was not planning to lose.  When I moved out and was fully in charge of my eating, vegetables were never on my shopping list.  I was very thin and lived happily on my diet of Entemann’s cake, deli sandwiches and lunch from the Morgan Stanley cafeteria.   As a young mother, I made valiant attempts to get my children to eat vegetables.  My children all ate home cooked baby food.  I lovingly purchased fresh vegetables and fruits to cook and puree for each of them.  When they were young toddlers and began to fight with me about eating certain foods, I realized how hard it likely was for my mother.

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The dogs of 72nd St. Rusty, Rumple & Pierre

The past few months as I moved back into running training again, I’ve cleaned up my eating substantially.  I signed up for nutrition classes to learn how to better fuel my body and offset any genetic flaws.  What I did not do though is increase my vegetable intake to the level of 75% of my plate!  Clearly, I still have some work to do here!

Three years ago, when my mother was placed full time in a care center, I vowed to not go down the same path.  I knew first hand what this disease had done to my family and did not want my children to face a similar fate as my husband and I age.  Alzheimer’s robs you of your precious memories and the ability to care for yourself.  It is quite painful to watch helplessly as your loved one fades away.  I did not want this burden for my three children and hoped to find a way to prevent, or delay it.

I’ve spent three years reading any research I can get my hands on and changing my lifestyle.  It has not been an easy journey, as it is hard work.  My why has kept me pushing forward, even on days where motivation is low.  I’ve had my setbacks along the way with injuries, but the push forward has continued.  This winter, I decided to stop spending so much money on nutritionists and put that money to use in educating myself.  I’m in the middle of my second nutrition course and hope to attend IIN Nutrition in the fall.  I am more convinced than ever, that the answer to my quest to prevent Alzheimer’s does indeed rely heavily on the foods I am eating.  I know that my best hope to ensure brain health is to change the way we eat and continue to move my body.  It’s an exciting journey and one that I truly hope I will get to share with my grandchildren and great grandchildren someday.

Today, my husband brought home a beautiful piece of ham for Sunday dinner.  He shops early in the morning on the way home from the gym and was quite excited about his purchase.  I had a 5K race this morning at 10:00 AM, so was less than excited about his purchase.  When in the world did he think we’d be cooking and preparing this ham?  He had this all planned out and brought in the Crockpot from the garage.  He said that he heard we could set it up in the Crockpot and it would be ready later in the day. Since my options were limited, I went along with his plan.  I literally washed the ham and placed it in the pot with some water.  That’s it!  I set it to 8 hours on low and got ready to leave for the race.

When we returned from the race the house smelled heavenly.  I forgot how nice it was to come home to a meal in the Crockpot.  I was able to shower, relax and unwind from my morning without worrying about preparing dinner.  When we were ready, I took the meat out of the pot and sliced it up to eat.  It was soft, juicy and delicious.  I plated it with some shredded cabbage mixed with kale and baby spinach.  I prefer my vegetables raw, so a side salad of this was just perfect for me.  If you have a Crockpot collecting dust in your garage, I recommend you pull it out, wash it up and get it going again.  It was wonderful not to have to turn on the oven today.

I’d love to hear what your favorite Crockpot recipes are.  Please leave me a message below.

The book I just finished in my course was –

 

It was very helpful to read about how certain foods that I thought were healthy are not in fact healthy for me.  Interesting read, especially if like me, you have inflammation. If you read it, please leave me a comment.

 

Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

My parents got married on May 16, 1954 in Ridgewood, NY.  I have no idea what the weather was that day, or who was in my mother’s bridal party beside her twin brother Walter and my father’s only sister Catherine.  I do know that my mother’s gown was in the style of Princess Grace and borrowed from her girlfriend.  I do know that they were both very much in love that day and that’s never changed.  I also know her parents, especially her mother, didn’t approve of my father because he was an Irish Catholic.  My grandparents had hoped my mother would marry someone better, but what they didn’t realize was that she married one of the best men ever.  If they only knew how he cares for her now, as he did their entire marriage, they’d surely change their thinking.18A6340E-D300-4DBA-B749-7201A859A55C.jpeg

Sixty four years later my mom lives in a full time care center, not by choice but by necessity.  My mom has Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disease that robs one of their memories and ability to function.  For ten years my dad lovingly cared for mom at home, including feeding and diapering her himself.  It wasn’t until there was no other option, that he agreed to place her in the care center.  Even though she has no idea, he goes and sits there with her every single day.  He still feeds her, even though there are people there who can do so.  He brings nice outfits for the aides to dress her in and makes sure her hair is done.   Though many have criticized him for sitting there each day, there is truly no place he’d rather be.  If you’ve ever read the Notebook, you know how the story goes.  It’s heartbreaking, yet so inspiring at the same time.62F3421B-2D38-4C2C-8B27-BC97E5BF133D.jpeg

I see so many sad people when I visit the care center.  One gentlemen never married and has no family to care for him.  He placed himself in the center to live out his remaining years.  Another, after eight years in the care center, still talks about how he is getting better and will be going home soon.  He has no idea that his wife will never be taking him home again.   Not too many people come to visit these long term patients, only the rehab patients seem to have visitors.  Believe me it is extremely hard for me to go there and visit.  I dread it and some weeks it takes me a few days to not feel depressed.  When we visit we always bring Sonny along because the people there love seeing him.  We always seem to end up with other patients sitting with us when we visit, but we really don’t mind.  Like my dad, I know that there’s no place I’d rather be.

 

 

Today, after so many days of dreary gray skies and rain, the sun made a comeback.  When I went outside this morning, I couldn’t believe how hot and humid it was.  Yesterday, we had heat on in the house and today we need air conditioning.  Cooking is very therapeutic for my after my visit to the care center.  Music, wine and cooking are the best medicine to get me out of my funk.  Today, I decided to make my husband’s favorite dish today, Chicken Parmesan.  I decided to try to lighten it up though and make a somewhat healthier version.  I used chicken tenderloins instead of full breasts and baked them instead of frying.  The tenderloins were just the right portion to eat 4-6 ounces of chicken, which is all you really need.  We both felt the chicken was super tender and delicious and it cooked a lot faster too.  Swapping out the pasta for zoodles also helped to lighten up the meal.

I made a pot of Sunday Sauce this morning to use in this recipe.  I did not make meatballs as we were eating the chicken today.  I did put some hot sausage, removed from casing, into the sauce for flavor.  Recipe for Sunday Sauce can be found by clicking here – Sunday Gravy

I made the zoodles about two hours before we ate them.  I cut them in half today (after spiralizing) to make them easier to eat, as they come out very long.   Zoodles really are awesome and honestly make me feel like I don’t miss spaghetti.  The consistency of them raw works best for me.  Recipe for zoodles can be found by clicking here – Mother’s Day

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Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast tenderloin (1 lb. package was enough for two with leftovers)
  • Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • Fresh mozzarella sliced into strips

Directions:

  1. Cover baking tray with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil spray
  2. Mix two eggs in flat bowl dish
  3. Place panko in second flat bowl dish
  4. Dip chicken in eggs, then panko and place on oiled tray
  5. Spray all chicken lightly with olive oil spray
  6. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and place in cooking tray with sauce in bottom
  8. Top with mozzarella strips and cover with aluminum foil
  9. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes covered.
  10. Serve immediately over zoodles and add sauce as needed.9F17D2BF-6920-45A3-BA91-3347DC9A42E5.jpeg

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Mother’s Day

I come from a long line of strong women.  My grandmothers Maria and Catherine were both strong, determined women who faced hardship in their lives.  They both modeled for me how to persevere and overcome obstacles with grace and dignity.  My mother was also a strong woman.  She was married in the 1950s at a time when most women did not work outside the home.  She was a stay at home mother to my two brothers and I and fully embraced her role as our caregiver.  Our house was always spotless and our life was pretty much stress free.  Mom found her true love when she was quite young and that has lasted over 60 years, in sickness and health.  She loved my dad more than anything and put him and us kids first every day of her life.

My brothers and I grew up loved and cared for even though we didn’t always have a lot.  We did always have dinner on our table and clothes on our backs.  We also always had unconditional love, as my mother put us first always.  Becoming a grandmother was the happiest time in my mother’s life.  I believe that is because my mother was a born nurturer.  She had endless patience with my children, probably more than she had with my brothers and I.  As long as they were able, my mom and dad made the trip out to my house every Sunday without fail to spend time with us and eat Sunday dinner.

Unfortunately, those days are gone now.  My mom suffers from Alzheimers and doesn’t know her own family anymore.  That is so hard for most people to even imagine or understand.  Many tell me that deep down she knows who I am.  I tell them she does not.  They tell me a mother’s heart could never forget.  I tell them it can.  At this point, she does not even know my dad, her husband of over 60 years, who sits with her every single day without fail.  I can’t think of a worse fate for my mother, who so loved her family, to suffer than this.  So, on this Mother’s Day I look back on the many wonderful memories of Mother’s Days gone by.  I can still see my mother and aunt cooking Roast Pork and potato balls in the kitchen, their tables perfectly set with china and crystal and  the house filled with kids and laughter.  These are the memories I hold tightly to these days.12A65D94-C375-4989-9400-F327E1F805D0

These days it’s just my family coming over for this holiday.  I know I’m supposed to celebrate and enjoy the day, but it is a hard day for me so we keep it simple and relaxing.  Today’s rainy weather was just perfect for this kind of low key day.  My daughter made it home first showing up before 8:00 this morning.  We went to an early yoga class together to prepare for our day.  Following that we came home and had a nice breakfast.  As we began to prepare for our Sunday sauce, my son arrived.  My other son was not able to come home this weekend and we missed him a lot.  We spoke with him on the phone and I’ll be going down by his house in a few weeks.  With the sauce simmering on the stove we all settled in to play some board games.  Today’s game choice was Scrabble since the rain kept us inside the house.

Today, we decided to have our traditional Sunday sauce (recipe can be found here Sunday Gravy).   Since I’m doing mostly plant based recipes these days, I decided to forgo the spaghetti for my plate.  I had two beautiful zucchinis that I purchased yesterday and pulled out my spiralizer and made some zoodles.  My daughter made a pot of spaghetti for anyone who wanted, but many ate the zoodles too.  They were delicious and worked perfectly with the sauce and meatballs.  I ate the zoodles raw, but you can certainly boil for a quick minute if you want them warmed.  I found the sauce warmed them up just enough for me.  Topped with parmesan, this was the perfect Mother’s Day meal.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Zoodles & Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green zucchini (washed, not peeled)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Cut ends off washed zucchini
  2. Place into the spiralizer and spiralize
  3. Catch zoodles in salad basket and place over sink to drain
  4. Sprinkle zoodles with salt and let sit for approximately 20 minutes.
  5. Store zoodles in the refrigerator in a covered container lined with paper towels. The zoodles will release additional moisture as they sit in the container in your fridge.  The paper towel will absorb the moisture.
  6. Let zoodles come to room temperature before serving, or boil for one minute.

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This is the spiralizer I use – Paderno World Cuisine.  (Click photo to view)

Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich

Alzheimer’s sucks!  Just throwing that out there.  I’m sure anyone else who has walked this walk, knows exactly what I mean.  Alzheimer’s = losing your loved one, but they are still here.  It’s looking into your mother’s eyes and knowing she has no idea who you are.  No recollection whatsoever.  Imagine a disease that could make a mother forget her own child, or husband.  I can think of nothing worse.  In honor of this struggle faced by so many, I’ve decided this year to do a fundraiser give back for my birthday to support Alzheimer’s research and care.  It is my hope that someday soon they find a cure before another daughter, son, husband, wife or friend has to watch as their loved one fades away.  Ronald Reagan had it right when it called it the long, painful goodbye.  Please consider donating to this cause, any amount you can by clicking the link below.

Alzheimer’s Fundraiser – Laura’s Birthday

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Wish she knew whose hand she holds

My why for this blog and healthy living has always been about preventing my children from living this nightmare we are living.  If changing my eating habits gives me a better shot at avoiding this disease, then I’m in.  I’ve been experimenting with food lately and keeping an open mind about trying new foods.  Anyone who knew me as a kid, or knows me now, knows I’m not the most open to eating vegetables or new foods.  I’m a comfort food girl all the way – meat and potatoes.  But, my mom and grandmother were too, so if I want a different outcome I’ll have to step outside my comfort zone.

Today, I experimented with a new fruit I’d never even heard of until a few months ago.  I sent a recipe to my vegetarian brother for his cooking pleasure.  I asked about the fruit, but could never find it near me.  This week I found it at a local Trader Joe’s and decided to give it a shot myself.  Jackfruit is said to have the consistency of meat and take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in.  I’d never heard of it but was certainly surprised by the texture of this fruit.  It definitely has the look and texture of meat and if I hadn’t cooked it myself I would not have known it was not pulled pork.   I served it to my husband and told him it was pulled pork and he loved it and had no idea.  Of course, the BBQ sauce is what it’s all about and I’m not going to say that’s entirely healthy, but I tried to buy a healthier version.  Next time I will definitely make it myself to cut down on sugar.

Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of young green jackfruit in water
  • 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute onion in unsalted butter or olive oil for 4 minutes
  2. Remove Jackfruit from can, drain and rinse.  Pat dry.
  3. Place Jackfruit on cutting board and shred with two forks.
  4. Add to pan with onion and saute for 5 minutes.7AB8123E-724E-4D79-9B1D-D2BC9FE0687F.jpeg
  5. Add garlic and saute all 1 minute longer.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce to pan and stir.
  7. Add salt & pepper to taste (I added no salt)
  8. Stir to combine and cover to simmer for 45 minutes289D1AB0-C820-4004-8F95-9463519A57C9.jpeg
  9. As it cooks continue to shred the Jackfruit as it softens.

I served mine with homemade coleslaw.  I plated it on one half an English Muffin, but you can go ahead and serve on whole wheat sandwich rolls. F6B5CF32-9DB0-4EF6-942A-3BFA2472FED5.jpeg Here’s the recipe for my coleslaw –

Recipe Swap – Creamy, Spicy Coleslaw

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Dang, that was so good!  I could probably eat another, but packed it up for lunch tomorrow.   If you try it, please let me know how you liked it.  Tangy, spicy, crunchy – can’t you just taste it.AF1E559F-31CC-415E-B0C1-6263A20D7CBE.jpeg

Thank you to all who have generously donated.  I greatly appreciate your generosity and support.

 

 

 

 

 

We Can Rebuild Her…

Laura Kump, Principal

A runner broken down.

We can rebuild her.  We have the technology.  We can make her better than she was.  Better, stronger, faster.

I am a child of the 70s who grew up on corny television shows and slogans.  Truly, I can connect any situation to a jingle, slogan, opening song or quote.  It’s a slightly troubling habit I’ll admit, but one that helps me formulate leads when I write quite nicely.  Who can name the show this quote was taken from?

I am, as you know, injured and most likely missing the marathon I’ve trained for.  I haven’t pushed the defer button yet, because you know I’m still praying for a miracle.  If I can get this foot in a sneaker, I just may give it a go and walk/run the course.  If not, it’s over – likely it is over – but hey a girl can dream.

I’m once again planning to rebuild, learn from my mistakes and move forward toward NYC Marathon 2018.  Either way, if I make it this year or not, I’ll be there in 2018 because it’s not the experience I had in mind.  I spent my morning planning, that’s just what educators do, plan for success.  I’ve got my planning tools lined up, including my nutritionist, functional movement trainer, doctor’s orders (OK, I may not follow these exactly), books and nothing but time today to plan.  After spending some time working on planning for my job, I’ve now shifted to planning to rebuild me.

First order of business was to spend time on the phone with my nutritionist, chatting about ways to increase my intake of those pesky vegetables I love to hate and heal my broken bones.  I am going back to having a morning veggie drink in my trusty Vitamix starting Monday.  This will increase my intake of vegetables to ensure I am getting enough in my day.  I had on my to be read pile the book, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan by Dr. David Perlmutter, a world renowned neurologist.  His work around the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain related diseases has become very personal to him following the death of his father.  He has dedicated his life to the effort to help others stay healthy through diet and lifestyle changes and I purchased his most recent book to continue my fight to reclaim my health and offset this disease.  Today, I finally opened the book and began reading.  The first quote really grabs you by the throat –

In the next eighteen minutes, four Americans will die from the food they eat.  That’s one person ever four and a half minutes.

This is the opening statement I heard recently on a TED talk given by Jamie Oliver.  He too has been leading a crusade against the use of processed foods in schools, linking it to higher than average obesity rates in children, and long term to chronic disease.   Reading this again reminded me of why I began this journey and helped to reel me in from my week of pity eating.  Lot’s of bad choices were made this week for sure.  Dr. Perlmutter states that, “You can choose your health destiny.”  This gives great hope and sense of purpose to those like me who by virtue of family history, have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  What goes into my mouth and body, along with other lifestyle choices, can greatly impact my physical well being.  I need to keep myself focused on that and move forward to the next chapter of my journey.

This weekend, I hope to put a shoe on my foot, a real shoe.  I’m tired of this broken toe version, though I did find I could run in it when needed this week at work.  I admit at that realization to thinking of buying a match for the other foot and running the marathon in them, but I’m thinking my feet would not appreciate that at all.  I hope to do some light rolling and stretching work and possibly take a nice slow walk.   That is my very short term exercise goal.  My nutritional goal is to plan my menu for the week, a habit I’ve shared in earlier posts, the only way I stay on track.  Tomorrow, I will cook at least three (3) meals that I will rotate for lunch and dinner all week.  I will do my food shopping for the week and plan for successful eating that curbs those junky pretzels I ate this week in place of food.

Finally, I hope to chat with my functional movement coach at some point this weekend to plan my long term recovery sessions.  I must allow some healing time for the stress fracture before getting back to Central Park, but there are always things we can do to rebuild this broken runner.  You can definitely say this woman is down, but not out.  I’m still on the road, just recalculating the road map.

I thank each and every one of you who took time to reach out to me following last week’s blog.  Your well wishes, jokes and love really were the best medicine.  Thank you for your continued support of my blog and mission.  I leave you with an exchange I had with a student yesterday that had me hysterically laughing – the best medicine of all.

Student: “What the heck did you do to your foot now.

Me: “This is the same injury I had when I saw you Monday.  You know what happened to me.”

Student: “Well, you just keep injuring that foot, don’t you.”

Me: “Guess so.”

Student: “Well, if you keep this up you know that foot may just fall off already.”

Me:  Laughing inside.  “Hope not!”

Here are some resources I’m spending time with this weekend:

Jamie Oliver’s TED talk

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan
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Functional Movement Specialist 

Jessica Leggio, Run Pain Free

Free consultations are available (includes workout) when you mention my blog or name Laura Hess Kump.  Online option available if you can’t make the trip.  Worth the time – life changing stuff.

Always love connecting with readers of this blog for feedback and conversation.  Feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me directly.

Taking the Plunge

What do you do when you need to try something new?  Do you hesitate, or jump right in?  Do you try every new thing you encounter, or are you cautious and selective?  I am the cautious and selective type.  I like to read and research before taking the plunge, especially when it comes to what I put into my body.  I want to be healthy and not fall victim to the mind robbing disease that has devastated my family.  I must admit it is hard with so many “things” out there.  I get emails, see videos, advertisements on Facebook and encounter people who truly believe in programs on a daily basis.  If I took the plunge each time, I’d be broke and most likely still in the same boat.

The way I stay focused is to remember my why.  My why is to remain healthy, active and maintain my memories long into my 90s.  With this in mind, I must remain careful about what I eat and drink.  My philosophy around nutrition is that food is fuel for my body and the means to remaining healthy.  These weight loss programs sound so darn appealing and I must admit those who have had success are totally passionate and committed to them.  The before and after photographs are so inspiring and I am extremely happy for them all.  But, I just can’t do them.  Those programs are not for me as I don’t want to get my nutrition from powders and pills and often if you dig deep enough the ingredients are not totally pure.

With the exception of Purium, a program which I’ve yet to find any bad ingredients in, most of the other programs have at least one ingredient that just won’t work for me personally.  I did use Purium for a while last year and will say I had no problem buying it.  I truly didn’t mind the expense and it was expensive.  My only problem with some of their drinks was the taste.  For me, they just didn’t taste good.  I am a fan of the Apothe Cherry drink and like to drink that at bedtime.  I found a version that cost less though and has the same impact for me.

Dynamic Health Tart Cherry Turmeric and Ginger Tonic Supplement, 16 Ounce

I mix 2 tbs of this juice with 8 oz of water and drink about 30 minutes before I go to bed.  You can drink it straight, but I prefer to dilute it.

Last week, I told you I was planning to do a 10 day green cleanse and shared the book I use with you.  I cleaned up my act this week for sure, but still was not able to feel totally on track again.  It just feels like there is something every day that gets in the way of my nutrition.  I made better choices and definitely lost 5 pounds, but I’m still not satisfied that I’m fueling my body properly.

This week I attended two days of professional development, not for nutrition mind you.  As part of the presentation, the presenter was sharing his struggles with weight loss.  As he talked, he shared an app that he was using to keep focused.  I am not a fan of programs, but found myself at a center signing up that very afternoon.  I have decided to do this program only because –

  1. I get to prepare and cook my own food.
  2. I don’t have to count or think about anything.
  3. I will get daily feedback on my journey.

I signed up at Weight Watchers not because I need them to tell me how to eat, what to eat or why to eat that way.  Believe me I know that already.  I signed up because they have made it so easy to monitor what I am doing on a day to day basis.  I love the app (yes I know I could just use a free app) and how simple they have made it to track my day.  Yes, the program is about tracking points and that’s just fine.  Yes, I’m aware that it really is about counting calories and portion control.  Yes, I know that I need to eat healthy fats and this program attempts to limit that, but I think I can make this work to keep me focused and get me back on track.

Right now, I can eat 30 points a day.  My superfood coffee counts as 9.  Though they would encourage me to swap that out, I know I need the healthy fat it contains and that in the long run it connects to my why.  I am able to eat vegetables and fruits as low point and no point options.  So, of course you know this will motivate me to increase my intake of those foods from my least favorite food group.  The best feature of all is I don’t have to convert or count anything to figure out points.  I get to simply scan the barcode and it’s there, or type in the food.  Thank you for this wonderful feature!  Lastly, you get points to swap the more you move which sure motivated me to take an extra walk last night with my dog.

Am I excited about the program itself, not so much.  Am I excited to have a focus to get me ready for training, yes!  This sign up for me was for a 3 month pass.  Just enough time to get ready to toe the line for my marathon training program which officially starts in June.

I’d love to hear your success and failure with Weight Watchers.  Please feel free to share below, or shoot me an email.