Saturday, June 27, 2015

Baby Steps: My First Run Back!

A few weeks ago, I posted about a climbing injury. At the time, my doctor told me that I had torn my meniscus, meaning that both running and climbing were off the table for the foreseeable future. However, after two weeks on crutches, my doctor ordered an MRI and discovered that my meniscus was not the issue! I had a deep bone bruise (which, as he explained, is basically like breaking the inside of your bone).

Although it was still a pain have to sit on the sidelines for a month, it was ultimately good news. Bone bruises heal on their own, so that meant no surgery. It also meant no physical therapy, so I didn't have a whole lot to share on here. Time is the only cure for bone bruises! He told me that I'd have to use my best judgement and go back to running when it didn't hurt anymore.

So, a little over 4 weeks post-injury, I decided to test the waters and see how my knee held up on a short jog.

Running shoes laced up and ready to go!

I decided to start off with a simple 2-mile loop. That gave me plenty of time to warm up while still allowing a bit of wiggle room if I felt like running more than a mile. I opted for a route that skipped over some of my usual hills, since I wasn't entirely sure if inclines or descents would have much impact.

All things considered, it went pretty well. I ran much, much more slowly than normal, mainly because I was being cautious (and was a bit out of running shape). My knee certainly didn't feel normal, but it also didn't exactly hurt. I'm not sure how much of that was in my head and how much was reality! The downhill parts seemed to hurt more than the uphill segments (which, in hindsight, makes sense since you come down harder on your legs on downhills).

Still, despite the odd sensations in my knee, it felt so great to get back out there! I wanted to run farther and wake up the next morning for another run...but I talked myself out of it. The last thing I need is a setback!

It feels good knowing that I'll be back to my regular runs soon...and I can't wait to share them with you! 

Friday, June 26, 2015

My 5 Favorite Apps for Healthy Living

Confession time! Despite working in the tech industry, I'm actually not very into mobile apps at all. Aside from the basics (Google Maps, Twitter, Lyft, Instagram), it's very rare that I actually take the time to download and keep an app on my phone. However, there are a few that I absolutely love and, in my opinion, play a major role in living a healthy life.

1. SleepCycle. I downloaded this on a whim (it was the featured app on one of the Starbucks free download cards!), but it has become one that I am constantly recommending to people! Using your phone's accelerometer, SleepCycle keeps track of your movements while you sleep, then wakes you up at a point in your sleep cycle that is least disruptive. I'm not a morning person, so I'll take just about any help I can get when it comes to waking up in the morning — but its benefits go beyond that. My doctor likes to check my SleepCycle stats when I go in for appointments to make sure that my symptoms aren't due to poor sleep quality!

2. MapMyRun. Everyone seems to have their preferred run tracker, and this one is mine. I love the ability to trigger voice alerts updating you on your run pace and progress (I have mine set up to alert me every mile!). There's also a feature that lets you participate in challenges (Bay to Breakers used MapMyRun for their infamous Hayes Street Hill challenge), which can make training a bit more exciting.

3. Munchery. Healthy eating and I don't even have to make it?! It's a life saver during the week (it was especially useful when I was on crutches!), and it actually is pretty affordable. I typically will order 3-4 meals at once (the delivery fee is the same regardless of how many you order) and use them as needed for the next few days. They list all nutrition information and keep all sauces on the side, which is a definite plus.

4. Duolingo. This app has been around for awhile, but I only just recently discovered it. I minored in French in college, but without others to practice with, my skills languished. I attempted to find a class here in San Francisco that would help me brush up on those skills, but none of them worked with my work schedule. So, I opted to give Duolingo a shot. Three weeks later, my French skills are noticeably better — and I've gotten several friends on board, too!

5. Spotify. Although I haven't tried their new running feature yet, Spotify has long been my go-to for when my regular running playlist gets a bit stale.

What are your favorite apps?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 2015 Birchbox

Another month, another Birchbox filled with surprises :) This month's theme was adventure, which I thought was fitting for the start of summer. It's the perfect time of year to find new and exciting things to conquer!

This month, every Birchbox included eyeliner. Although their preview video had said it would be from Eyeko, I received a Marcelle one instead. I already own an Eyeko eyeliner (and am not overly impressed with it, despite its good reviews on Birchbox), so I wasn't too disappointed by that! They also included a headband as a bonus sample.

In this month's box...
Beauty Protector Beauty Wash Body Cleanser
Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm
Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner
Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel
Tocca Isabel Eau de Parum
Pura Vida Lace Headband

Despite getting a fragrance sample (I hardly ever end up using them!), I was overall very happy with my Birchbox this month. Even though I don't use headbands frequently, it was nice getting a bonus sample. I haven't tried out the eyeliner yet, but I'm very excited about the fact that it's purple — supposedly, purple eyeliner works well with blue eyes but I've never given it a shot. I'm also looking forward to testing out the's one of my sister's favorites! 

What did you get in your box this month?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Birchbox + Gap Party in San Francisco

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend one of Birchbox's events celebrating their partnership with select Gap stores. They held these at a few different locations around the USA, but the concept was the same in each: build your own Birchbox bars, champagne, hors d'oeuvres and a chance to try out all kinds of Birchbox favorite products. I dragged my friend (and frequent running buddy) Whitney along with me to the event at Gap's flagship San Francisco store.

Our first stop for the evening was the build your own Birchbox bar. Whitney is not a Birchbox subscriber, so it was all new for her. As someone who has subscribed to Birchbox for almost a year, it was pretty exciting nonetheless. They had a lot of fan favorite products available for people to select, including my all-time favorite Birchbox product, Klorane dry shampoo.

As I've expressed before, fragrances are among my least favorite Birchbox inclusions. So, when I found out that you had to select a fragrance to include in your build your own Birchbox, I wasn't very pleased. They did have some fragrances that people seem to love — Harvey Prince Hello, Clean and one of Tocca's offerings — but none of them were particularly appealing to me. I opted for Clean simply because I hadn't received it in one of my boxes before. For the other items, I went with Klorane dry shampoo (I can't get enough!), Supergoop! sunscreen, Laura Geller blush and Juice Beauty cleansing gel.

After escaping from the chaos that was the box building line, we set out in search of champagne. Unfortunately, they seemed to have underestimated the amount of people who would be attending (which I found odd since you were supposed to get tickets for the event online!), the champagne and hors d'oeuvres were in short supply! It took a good 20-30 minutes of waiting before we nabbed a glass of champagne. Still, we enjoyed browsing the store, chatting with other attendees and making friends with other bloggers.

We didn't end up sticking around too terribly long since the event was pretty crowded and not particularly well staffed. Still, it was a fun time and I thoroughly enjoyed putting together my own Birchbox! 

Cheers to a fun evening!

Monday, June 8, 2015

On the Road to Recovery: First Day of PT

I'm officially on the road to recovery!

I had my first physical therapy session the other day after several days feeling more than a little stir crazy inside the house. Although I wasn't able to do much exercise-wise (they mainly just showed me a few little movements to keep my quads strong while I'm off my feet), it's nice to know I'm at least making some positive progress.

For my first session, they were primarily assessing the extent of my injury. That meant a few uncomfortable tests (they move your leg around in all kinds of interesting ways) but nothing too painful. They wanted to see how I was walking on my crutches to make sure I supporting myself properly. They had me straighten my leg out and pull it back in, measuring my flexibility along the way. Before my physical therapist left the room, she taught me a few basic exercises to do on my own (and encouraged me to keep doing crunches and other ab work at home as I've been doing).

The session ended with a 15-minute e-stim session. When I had tendonitis in my ankle a few years ago, I received this treatment pretty regularly. However, I'd never had it in my knee before. It felt quite odd.

For those of you who haven't experienced e-stim before, they hook up electrodes that sent electric pulses through the injured area. I believe it's supposed to stimulate your body's natural healing processes so they move a bit more quickly. Every time I've had it, they also wrap that particular body part in an ice wrap. So, you sit there for awhile while your muscles twitch and pulse independent of your own body movement!

After the e-stim was over, my knee felt great! It returned to feeling achey about an hour or two later, but it felt almost normal there for awhile. Hopefully, that means I can expect more of that in the future!

Has anyone else experienced e-stim? Do you like it?

And, finally, I'll leave you with something happy...despite crutches, I made it up to Sonoma County this weekend for some wine tasting in the beautiful, summer weather :)

Crutching it through wine country!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

7 Pro Tips for Making Life Easier on Crutches

As I mentioned the other day, I tore my meniscus while bouldering recently. That means crutches for at least two weeks (possibly even more if I have to get surgery). One thing I've learned about crutches over the last few days is that they are not fun! Between bruised armpits, the fact that it takes forever to walk anywhere and an inability to carry anything, they make life a little challenging. However, there are a few little things I've noticed that seem to make crutch life a little easier. So, here are some of my (kind of) pro tips for making life on crutches just a little easier.

These guys are controlling my life right now...

  1. Do not be afraid to ask for help! There are just certain things you cannot do when both your arms are working overtime to keep you mobile. At my office, I've had to ask my coworkers to do everything from carrying my laptop into meetings to getting my coffee. And as someone who likes to be self-sufficient, I hate having to do that! But, taking your chances on walking with one crutch or hobbling around crutchless can mean a longer recovery, and ain't nobody got time for that!
  2. Adjust your crutch height. When my doctor gave me my crutches, they were set a few inches too high for me. But, since I've never been on crutches before, I had no idea! My friend Arianne spent several weeks on them last year, so she helped me adjust them, and it's been a lifesaver. Instead of having the top padding up in my armpits, I keep it a few inches lower. It lets me use my arms more, letting me avoid bruised underarms.
  3. When walking, look down. Sidewalks are evil. If your city is anything like mine, there are plenty of warped sidewalks that jut up out of nowhere. They can catch you off guard even without crutches — but with crutches, it makes them all the more dangerous. I also nearly wiped out on someone's spilled coffee the other day, so watch out for liquid on the sidewalk!
  4. Embrace the carpool. Since I injured my right knee, I can't do much driving (short trips are fine, but it starts hurting pretty quickly). However, I still need to take care of basics like grocery shopping. So, I've been inviting my roommates along to run errands with me. Since they need to run those errands, too, we're combining our visits into one car trip and I am able to get food. I've also been using Lyft's carpool option, Lyft Line, to get around when I can't get someone to drive me.
  5. Tech is your friend. When you can't con a roommate into driving you to Trader Joe's, there are always delivery options. I used Instacart (sign up with that link and you'll get $10 off your first order!) for the first time last week. Although it can get a bit pricey, it's nice not having to worry about finding a way to lug groceries around without any hands! I've also used Sprig (again, get a free meal if you sign up using my code SteinmeAWP) and Munchery to have healthy-ish meals delivered (since attempting to chop up veggies while on crutches just seems a little dangerous). Yay for the on demand economy!
  6. Talk to your boss. I'm fortunate that I work for a great company that allows us to work from home when we're under the weather. However, I'd never thought to ask them if I could work from home for mobility reasons. When I asked, they were incredibly flexible on letting me work from home so I could keep my knee iced and elevated (a little awkward to do on your desk at the office!). So, don't be afraid to talk to your boss about remote work options. After all, the worst thing they can say is no...and then you're just in the same place you started.
  7. Ask your friends. Chances are, some of your friends have been on crutches at some point in time and understand your pain. Arianne, again, has been super helpful, offering to pick up lunch for me without me having to ask. She also let me borrow the nifty little pouch you see in the picture above, which enables me to carry small things like my phone and wallet (coincidentally, it also holds a bottle of wine perfectly).
So, these are just a few things that have made my life a bit easier lately. It's amazing how much easier it gets after just a few days!

Does anyone else have any crutch tales or tips for getting around?