Friday, September 30, 2016

Repairing My Shoulder

I can tell a huge difference when I lift on my right side vs the left.  There must be something in my muscle structure causing this, right?  Also, my left hand is often going to sleep and all tingly.  My coworker was thinking this was carpal tunnel.  I finally broke down and went to a sports medicine doctor.  This one is closer to work (actually on my way to the farmer's market) so it's a little more accessible (and free parking) than the rest of the doctors I've seen over the years.

Last Wednesday I stopped at the office on my way back from the farmer's market and scheduled an appointment for Friday.  When I saw the doctor she did multiple manipulations of my left shoulder.  I also had her check the bump in case that was related.  I was surprised when she took me to another room that had a portable ultrasound machine.  She took a quick informal look at the bump.  The diagnosis?

Other specific joint derangements of unspecified shoulder, not elsewhere classified, Benign lipomatous neoplasm of other sites, Impingement syndrome of left shoulder

Once I was done with the doctor I went across the hall to physical therapy.  They were able to get me in with a therapist right away; I just had to wait a little for her to finish up with her current patient.  After all I was in no hurry to get back to work.  The therapist manipulated my shoulder some more.  She determined that I also have at least one kink in my ulnar nerve, causing my pinky and ring finger to go numb on occasion.  So with all that, instead of her normal 2 exercises to work on she gave me 7!

Tweet: Physical therapy - shoulder impingement & ulnar nerve kinks @lawrtw

Yes, I tried to get creative on this picture.  Do you know how hard it is to use a stylus on a tablet to color in hair? LOL  I gave up trying to color the others.

Same as the first but using the opposite side of my arm.

This one makes me think of it as a modification on the Superman exercise.

The therapist didn't have me use a weight for this.

My fingers would go numb doing this exercise.  I like doing this one while brushing my teeth.

The therapist said that sometimes the median nerve is also affected when the ulnar is funky so she threw this one in too.

Looks like I'll be laying the smack down! LOL

Today I got to use the arm bike for the first time ever.  Both ways my hands went a little numb.  I noticed that forward pedaling (do you call it pedaling when it's your arms not your legs?) my right arm felt more dominant but backwards pedaling it was my left.  The therapist gave me 3 more exercises to do but with the therapy bands this time.

Have you ever noticed the difference in abilities to lift or carry things between your right and left sides?

Have you had a shoulder impingement?  If so, what did your treatment plan look like?

October Challenge

In the Brand New Me Healthy Living Community we will be walking and running through October. We are doing this to go along with the If Girls Ran The World campaign. This challenge will be a difficult one for me since I don't like walking in the rain and have no treadmill for indoors.  I hope the library has some Leslie Sansone walking DVDs I can pick up!

The Rules

  • Run or walk daily.
  • Choose what you are going to track over the month.
    • Time: Run/Walk for more time on Halloween vs. October 2nd.
    • Distance:  Run/Walk further on Halloween vs. October 2nd.
    • Speed:  Run/Walk a little faster on Halloween vs. October 2nd.
  • Share an image from your walk or run with your time/distance/speed noted in the post.
    • On Instagram, tagging me, and using the hashtags #BrandNewMe #IfGirlsRanTheWorld and #Walktober (if you're walking) or #Runtober (if you're running).
    • In the Brand New Me Healthy Living Community
  • At the end of the month prizes (TBD) will be awarded to the person with the most improvement in each tracked category.  This will be on the honor system.

Tweet: Join @lawrtw 4 #walktober #runtober w/ @ifgirlsrantheworld

Linking up with

#MotivateMe Monday with Fitness Cheerleader, Running Rachel, & Run Mommy Run
Sunday Fitness & Food Linkup with Marathons & Motivation & IlkasBlog

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Meal Planning with Platejoy


Eating healthy can take a lot of time.  You scour Pinterest, other online recipe sources, or cookbooks, hunting for something different to make for dinner.  Which healthy meals can you make with items you have on hand or can grab on your next shopping trip?  What will be something that your whole family would enjoy and not go to waste?  It can be difficult to sort through the recipes to make sure they match your goals and don't contain ingredients you don't like or can't eat.

I've been experimenting with this new service called PlateJoy that makes that whole process take 5 minutes not 5 hours every week. They create personalized meal plans and grocery lists to help make healthy eating easier, taking your preferences into account.

The recipes I've tried so far I've enjoyed. It's great that the software remembers what you've said that you have in your fridge when creating your shopping list, which helps to reduce food waste, so you're also getting the most bang for your buck. They also show nutritional information for all meals to make it easier to track your progress.

PlateJoy's Skillet Cilantro & Lime Fish Tacos Recipe


  • 1 ½ yellow onions
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ jalapeno peppers
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 ⅓ limes
  • 2 ¼ lbs tilapia fillet
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 ½ avocados
  • 12 cups mixed greens 


  1. Slice onion, and finely chop cilantro and jalapeno pepper (remove seeds and membranes). Dice tomato. Squeeze lime juice. Pat tilapia dry and slice into strips. Whisk together half lime juice and half olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, heat remaining olive oil and sauté onion until translucent, about 3 min. Add garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook 30 seconds more.
  3. Add tilapia and cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes, or until opaque, taking care not to break up the pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then gently stir in cilantro, tomato and remaining lime juice. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more until tomato has softened.
  4. Heat corn tortillas in dry skillet for few minutes per side, or cover with damp paper towel and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. until pliable.
  5. Spoon filling into tacos and top with sliced avocado and more cilantro. Toss mixed greens with dressing and serve on the side.

 How Much Should We Eat?

portion breakdown

What I Did

You know me, I never do recipes 100% as they're listed; I'm always tweaking things.
  • 1 ½ yellow onions
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro ---> mix of parsley, oregano, & basil
  • 1 ½ jalapeno peppers  ---> bell peppers
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 ⅓ limes ---> bottled lime juice
  • 2 ¼ lbs tilapia fillet ---> used 800-something grams
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 ½ avocados ---> zucchini
  • 12 cups mixed greens ---> skipped since they were out at Kroger
Austin didn't even want to try a bite so I had to adjust the tilapia for one less person.  Besides, when I calculated the amount of fish (2.25 lbs is over 1020 g), I didn't have enough.  I used all but one fillet from the bag of frozen tilapia from Aldi's so my fingers were numb by the time I finished cutting it into strips.  The skillet was almost overflowing so I have no idea how I could've cooked the full amount!  I tossed in the zucchini to cook with everything else.

Benny ate his two tacos but he didn't enjoy them.  I think he said something about it not having enough flavor.  That I found odd with me not tasting much I rather enjoyed the flavor.  I'd love to make this again, of course it would have to be for someone else.  The leftovers I brought to work later in the week with rice for lunch.

I plan to continue to check out the weekly recipes to see if anything pops up that I think at least Benny would be willing to eat. I like that I can go in there if an ingredient pops up that I don't want to eat (like Brussels sprouts) I can remove it from my recipe queue and get a new set of meals.  I haven't seen this option in other meal planning software I've played with.

Save $10 off the plan you choose by visiting and entering the code LAWRTWBNM.

Monday, September 19, 2016

How Your Mindset Can Actually Make You Physically Stronger

Don’t believe that simply changing the way you think can have a big impact on your life or your accomplishments?

It’s a somewhat abstract concept to think that just being more positive or more driven can attract more good things to you, or that focusing more on the good in your life can make you happier.

So how about a demonstration to show just how powerful the mind is? What if the brain could make you considerably stronger, simply if you change the way you think?

Introducing Hysterical Strength

Hysterical strength is a term used to describe historical examples of people tapping into incredible physical power. The most common story is that of mothers who have to rescue their children from being trapped under cars or some other heavy object. In these scenarios, the mothers call upon some kind of superhuman strength and manage to physically move the cars out the way. How can this be possible?

While this has never been proven, there actually is a good scientific explanation for how it might work and some evidence to support it.

That’s because we normally are only capable of accessing around 30%-50% of our muscle fiber. When exercising or going about our normal routines, we can’t use 100% of our strength because we would risk injuring our ligaments or exhausting ourselves. You can see this when someone gets an electrical shock – this causes the muscles to contract to their fullest which is enough to throw the individual right across the room!

But under times of incredible stress or in life-and-death scenarios, it might just be that the brain is able to tap into those hidden depths. This would work because of the release of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and perhaps other neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine. Together, these could improve communication across the neuromuscular junction, thereby recruiting a greater number of muscle fibers and allowing the individual to access their ‘full’ strength.

Putting it Into Action

In theory then, you could gain more strength simply by imagining your family trapped under a car. If you could really believe it, then you might be able to access hidden strength enough to break your records in the gym.

But there are easier ways according to the research. That’s because yelling at the top of your voice just so happens to trigger a small stress response and studies demonstrate that this is enough to allow you to gain a little more strength during lifts! Talk about mind over matter...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Measure What Matters With LVL

Hey weekend warriors, let's talk about a new way to make sure that you're drinking enough water!


Wednesday pre-ordering began for the LVL (pronounced "level") - a new activity monitor from BSX Technologies measuring your heart rate, sleep, and hydration (the only product to do so) in real time.  So now we have a new stat to check and track to see reasons why we're feeling good or bad throughout the day.

The Technical Side

Unlike other wearable tech LVL uses near-infrared light (NIRS) to monitor your body.  This red light is the same as they use in hospitals because it's more accurate and can measure more.  Other wearable tech uses green light because it's both cheaper and enables the product to be put on the market faster than red light.

BSX Technologies used a patented multi-wavelength NIRS technology for LVL to go deeper and measure more parameters at once compared to the traditional green light technology.  Their fancy algorithms predicts and identifies your current health and fitness state from anywhere on your body.

All About That Hydration

Hydration is a fickle beast because frankly we suck at judging how much we should be drinking.  Studies have shown hydrating solely upon feeling thirsty results in only 30-70% consumption compared to match how much we lose from sweating.  Just 1-2% dehydration could lead to a 5.8% decrease in performance.  This kind of decrease results in poor skills testing similar to those at the legal limit for blood alcohol!

Being dehydrated also affects recovery.  If you're not drinking enough you don't sleep well, you're moody, your memory slips, and more.  Your body also gets confused between hunger and thirst, leading you to overeat.

SHOCKING FACT:  75% of Americans are in a chronic state of dehydration!

The good news is we CAN overcome dehydration, after all being properly hydrated has saved more lives than antibiotics.  Using science and cutting edge technology to track more physiological data it's possible to provide real time stats that'll help us perform better.

Who is Behind LVL?

BSX Technologies was started in 2012 down in the heart of Austin, TX, by Dustin Freckleton, MD, and Nithin Rajan.  Shortly before his 25th birthday Dustin suffered a stroke due to severe dehydration.  He was completely paralyzed on his left side and it took months for him to learn to walk again.  Once he finished medical school Dustin walked away from his career and started BSX.  He is dedicated to developing smarter tech to have better real time stats to keep everyone healthy.

In 2014 BSX developed and shipped the first wearable lactate threshold sensor (BSXInsight) that's now used by everyday athletes, pros, and Olympians worldwide who want to train with professional grade data.  This sensor identifies your optimal training zones, measuring your fitness capacity.  The technology has been independently validated by several academic and research institutions.  BSXInsight uses the same NIRS tech as LVL.

How & Where Do I Get LVL?

This first batch of LVL is scheduled to begin shipping next summer.  They are available for pre-orders at a discounted price for a limited time.

Let's all get LVL'd up and really Measure What Matters!

All LVL product images are courtesy of BSX Technologies in conjunction with this sponsored post.

Monday, September 12, 2016

How to Work With Your Energy Ebbs and Flows

When it comes to getting more done and being more productive, mindset is absolutely key. We need to be able to focus on our goals and stay motivated enough to take the steps necessary to accomplish them and that’s the only chance we have of completing challenges and getting to where we want to be.

But in order to do this, we often have to fight our impulses and our instincts. That means we have to force ourselves to get up and to work, even when we’re feeling tired and just want to go to bed. It means that we have to motivate ourselves to focus on a long, hard day’s work even when we’re tempted to go home early and watch the next episode of Game of Thrones (I haven't actually watched this show since I don't have cable or satellite).

This is what many of us think of as mental discipline: the ability to force ourselves to do that which we don’t want to do. To take our ‘medicine’ as it were and thereby keep progressing forward.
But it might not actually be the best method. Because as it happens, being at constant war with yourself is not conducive to great productivity!

So instead of doing that, how about working with your gut instead?

Understanding Your Energy Flow

A lot of us pay too much attention to time management. We act under the assumption that if we have time to do something, then we can do it.

In reality though, our ability to complete work is much more related to our energy. If you don’t have the energy necessary to focus or to work, then you won’t be able to do it or your work won’t be as good.

And as it happens, our energy levels come on in waves and are largely out of our control. For example, first thing in the morning many of us struggle with something called ‘sleep inertia’. This means our brains are still groggy from the night’s sleep and we aren’t as productive.

Likewise, we tend to be less efficient right after lunch or dinner. That’s because an influx of carbohydrates gets broken down to tryptophan and that tryptophan is then converted into serotonin. In turn, the serotonin is converted to melatonin, making us sleepy!

We’re all likely to be tireder during 4pm too and of course some days are worse than others depending on what we did the day before.

So instead of forcing yourself to change to meet your schedule, how about switching up your schedule so that you’re doing the most important work when you’re the most awake?

Monday, September 5, 2016

How to Turn Everything Into a Game and Get Better at It

Have you ever wondered why it is that we enjoy games so much? And have you ever wondered why it is that you dislike your job so much? What is the difference between pressing buttons on an Xbox and pressing buttons on keyboards?

The answer may surprise you: it actually comes down to your effort and how much you care.

You care about games and you make the effort because you want to get better at them and because there’s constant variety and plot progression to keep things interesting. This makes you try harder in order to progress and that in turn gives you the feeling of reward that makes the gameplay satisfying.

From a neurochemical perspective, this essentially boils down to the release of dopamine. Each time you attempt a level or challenge, you first visualize it happening in your mind’s eye. When you then attempt it for real and this then goes to plan just as you visualized it, this will in turn result in you getting a release of the reward hormone dopamine. This is actually highly addictive and that can be enough to make you want to try again – which is why it’s so hard to put down that game of Angry Birds! That release of dopamine and serotonin will also help to reinforce the neural connections required to perform the task again. This strengthens your likelihood of doing the same thing again in future with perfect technique and generally improves your technique and ability.

When we don’t care about the outcome though, we don’t have this trial/reward loop and as a result, it can end up feeling like a dull slog. To change this then, all you need to do is to start taking things more seriously and actually focus on what you’re doing.

The Most Basic

Let’s say that you have to write something by hand. This is a mundane task and something most of us won’t pay much attention to.

So instead of simply doing it absent-mindedly then, you should instead try to really focus on doing it as perfectly as possible. Try to let the pen flow perfectly as you write and to write with the most perfect handwriting you can muster. Visualize it happening as you do.

Simply paying attention to your writing in this way and making it perfect will then be enough to ensure that you are more engaged and that you get the release of dopamine when it goes well. You’ve turned the mundane into a game. Why? Because the brain loves learning and improving.