Friday, September 14, 2012
Tai Chi for Arthritis and Pancakes
I struggle at times with my osteo-arthritis. Certain movements and activities are not easy for me, or even achievable. My goal has been knowing when to just take the shame and sit it out or declining an activity even though I really really want to participate. Sometimes I say yes against my better judgement, and I learn my lesson. It has taken most of the summer to recover physically and mentally from an activity in June, it took nearly a month alone just to recover from overloading my system with the pain medication from it, I suffered a few losses from that, even more loss of mobility and the end of dear friendship, but that is my lesson learned.
I recently began a series of classes, Tai Chi for Arthritis. It looks promising and I've enjoyed the first week. I decided to practice taking the shame and sit down during part of the discussion of the moves. I can't stand for extended periods of time, funnily enough, I can move slowly far longer than I can stand still! So I took the shame and sat. The instructors did look at me weird, and again I took this as an opportunity to NOT think negative thoughts, i.e. that they think I am lazy or a loser. Soon, others followed my example and sat down during the movement discussions. Lesson learned, if I have to sit then I have to sit. I am impressed already, its almost subtle, but I can stand more comfortably, and have increased movement in my shoulders, its not great leaps, that will never happen with my joints, but even a little improvement is appreciated in my life. I live each day in some sort of pain somewhere, whether its the constant pain of standing or walking, or its the pain I feel when I need to reach or hold something. When I have a comfortable moment, its almost a surprise. I wonder sometimes if that is why I throw myself into everything I do, if I am distracted enough, maybe I won't feel the pain as much.
Many people have claimed that once they make one healthy choice, they begin to make more of those choices in their life. Its true. Once making the decision to take this class, I decided to become a part-time vegetarian. No, I haven't given up meat completely, I don't think I have the body type to do that. If you took someone my height, and my size exactly and weighed us, I would weigh more, in spite of being the exact same size, its muscles I tell ya', muscles! But on the days that Mark works and I don't have to cook a meal that includes him, I just eat vegetarian, truly vegetarian. I know many people will claim the same thing, but eating a bag of Tostitos and salsa all day does not, in my opinion, constitute a veggie day.
I love to cook, so this has been a fun area of cooking to indulge, especially now since my food coop has so many great veggies to offer! Oh, and its my excuse to eat cheese (note the word vegetarian, not vegan, look it up, there is a difference).
One of the best things I have learned so far in my week of classes has been breathing. This has helped so much in getting to sleep. When you have severe arthritis, its hard to sleep, depending on where you are damaged, sleeping on your side hurts your shoulders, sleeping on your back can hurt your knees, even when you bolster them with pillows. Sleeping on your face in impossible, so getting to sleep and staying there is tough!
But one thing they stress in class is concentrating on your breathing. When you do that, you can't think about anything else, and its true. So taking that advice, and a technique I learned from The Mentalist, of all things, I concentrate on: breathing in ONE, breathing out TWO, and soon I am asleep.
So in my quest in making healthier choices, I offer you this quick, easy and surprisingly good Greek Yogurt Pancake recipe. This is a small batch, the recipe says it will make 4 large or 8 small pancakes, for cats maybe, because it made 2 large, thick, fluffy pancakes for me!
I found this recipe here: Everyday Belle and of course changed it slightly.
6 oz of your favorite Greek yogurt, I just used plain, but flavored or vanilla would be a great shortcut
1 egg, beaten
scant 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
one little slurp of vanilla (omit if using flavored greek yogurt)*
Stir the beaten egg and vanilla into the yogurt container until smooth and creamy.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.
Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and stir well, it will be thick, real thick. Don't panic.
Spoon the batter onto a sprayed griddle or pan, heated to med high.
Flip when they start to bubble and dry, just like a regular pancake, cook until golden brown on both sides.
I think these would be wonderful topped with a blueberry compote, or pancake topping of your choice.
*what is a slurp? Probably about a capful, or just a tiny little slurp in the bowl :)