Saturday, September 8, 2012

Forced rest and spicy carrot-bean-garlic soup

Every now and then, it's almost a relief to be well and truly flattened by a seasonal illness - because then I am forced to slow down, regardless of all the things I think I need to do or how far behind I think I'm getting or what a lackluster parent I think I'm being. A minor cold, random stomach issues, a persistent cough - I can work around those things, even if I feel really bad. It's only when I can't get out of bed that I have no choice but to stop and give in.

Wednesday morning, my nose was runny and my eyes were watery, but ragweed levels in our area were high, so I thought that was the culprit. I took some allergy meds and waited to feel better. Nothing happened. Wednesday afternoon, I started coughing. Wednesday night, I felt feverish.

Thursday morning, I stayed home from work and went in only to teach a lab. I thought about asking my advisor (who teaches the lecture counterpart of the course) to take over for me, but he's not one for excuses. Being that I was upright and could drive, I figured he wouldn't be all that sympathetic. During lab I was so wrecked that I wanted to crawl under a table and take a nap, but the students in the class were so pleasantly determined, enthusiastic, and interested in what was an admittedly challenging set of activities that I rallied and tried to meet their level of energy. Did that happen? Not exactly. I sensed that they were taking some pity on me. I must have looked like roadkill by that point.

I slept for a total of maybe three hours on Thursday night and by sunrise I could barely sit up in bed. I ended up working from home and took frequent rest/nap breaks. Normally I'd feel guilty for not going to work, but I realized that I was in absolutely no shape to get behind the wheel, drive 20 minutes on the highway, and communicate with people in a functional manner. Plus I would have passed on this flu to my colleagues.

I'm still feeling exhausted today. I'm also dizzy, but I think that has more to do with me forgetting to take my Zoloft yesterday and this morning (classic symptom of antidepressant withdrawal, according to The Google). Hopefully I'll continue on this upswing and be ready to get back to work, running, and more energetic mothering come Monday morning.

All that said? It does drive me crazy to not be able to do what I want to do, especially run. But I know from past experience that if I try to run while I'm still congested, this thing is just going to drag on.

I did have enough energy to make something yummy and healthy for today's lunch: a spicy carrot-bean-garlic soup. It's a spinoff on one of Marlow's recipes over at Gluten Hates Me (I love that blog - go check it out, even if gluten loves you. She has great recipes.)

I heated oil in a saute pan and added 1/4 an onion and two cloves of garlic. When they were soft (~5 minutes), I added a few handfuls of chopped spinach, a can of garbanzo beans, and ~1/4 cup black beans, stirring occasionally until they were warm.

I also added several dashes of cayenne. Anything to help clear my sinuses.

Once the bean/spinach mixture was hot, I poured in one box of Trader Joe's carrot-ginger soup and let the whole concoction simmer on medium heat until it was steaming. I LOVE this soup. It's delicious - tasty, but not salty or overpoweringly ginger-y.

The result:

I've already had three bowls. Moderation is not my strong suit. But then again, don't they say to feed an illness? I can handle that.

While recovering, I'm reading triathlete Chrissie Wellington's book A Life Without Limits. It is truly inspiring. Of the three running-related books I read this summer - the others being those by Rich Roll and Scott Jurek - I think this is my favorite. Although it's about her life and accomplishments, it's also clearly about the reader. It's making me think about my own perceived limits and the importance of testing them, seeing how far back I can push them.

Her take on rest and recovery: "The idea of rest flies in the face of every value I have lived my life by. I should be the last person to preach downtime, having indulged in so little of it during my life before triathlon, but I am fully converted now. I realize it is not the actual sessions of swim, bike and run that make you fitter, it is the periods you spend recovering in between, during which your body adapts and regenerates. That's why I say I train 24/7 - recovery is training. It's the most important part of it, in fact."

Well okay then. If Chrissie says so, I will go back to sitting on the couch.


  1. Glad you're getting a little energy back -- at least enough to make delicious foods. The soup looks amazing! I've tried to pay more attention lately to when I need rest. The hardest is head colds because they can go on FOREVER. Probably because I didn't rest enough in the beginning. Thanks for the book recommend. Adding it to my list!

    1. SUCH a good book! I feel like going through and copying down all of my favorite quotes, and then plastering them on my office walls.

      I feel so much better. Still have a horrible cough, but I think I'm about 95% there.

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