It’s just like that old saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
Sadly, both of these quotes could not be more accurate, especially in regards to health. As a clinical dietitian, I see it all the time. People get admitted to the hospital after a heart attack or stroke, or a diabetic gets admitted with DKA, and suddenly they are desperate to learn everything they can do to prevent it from happening again. Often that comes down to me (or another dietitian) providing diet education on heart healthy eating, carbohydrate counting, weight loss, or whatever it may be. Chances are, the patient knew they were not taking good care of their health prior to the event, but until something negative actually happened as a result, they weren’t motivated to live a healthy lifestyle, or were not convinced that their daily choices really mattered.
Every single day, we take so many little things for granted. For example, the ability to breathe in and out effortlessly. I have a few mutual friends who suffer from cystic fibrosis, and only now do I feel like I have even a teeny-tiny little glimpse of what their day-to-day must be like, and how frustrating it is to struggle to simply breathe. In, and out. In, and out.
Since I have been fighting a nasty sinus infection / bronchitis / asthma exacerbation / God knows what for about 5 weeks now, I think effortless breathing (particularly out of my nose) is what I have missed most, second only to sleeping through the night. Sleep plays such a crucial role in overall health — immune function, metabolism, mental health, weight control, etc. — and simply allows us to recharge for another day; yet, I honestly can’t remember the last time I was able to sleep through the night. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you, this is true. I am constantly coughing at night despite the fact that I’m sitting up at a 90° angle in my bed, elevated with 3 large pillows, with VapoRub spread on my chest and the bottom of my feet because old wive’s tales and even registered nurses told me it would help my cough. But sadly, no cough/cold medicine, sleep aid, or amount of VapoRub on my body has been able to help me whatsoever. So I think it’s safe to say a good night’s sleep is what I miss more than anything.
Another thing that we often take for granted and that many of us don’t even capitalize on: the ability to exercise. Throughout my recent illness, this has been a huge struggle for me. Since I’ve been sick, I have continued to exercise on days when I knew I shouldn’t, simply because it’s something I love to do, and I know that it’s good for me (when I’m well). However, in the end it was never really worth it, as it resulted in coughing fits and severe wheezing for the next few hours, something I haven’t really experienced since I was a young kid and my asthma was in full force. We take our ability to be active for granted all the time. Even the ability to walk from point A to point B. Many people will never know what it’s like to walk, or maybe they got in a freak accident that took away their ability to walk. I bet you they’d do anything to trade those of you who are perfectly physically capable of exercising on a daily basis, yet who choose to sit on the couch all evening after work instead. The doctor officially put me on one week of rest to allow the inflammation to go down and my lungs to recover. Of course, I will listen to these orders and finally give my body the rest that I know it needs, but you can bet that the second I feel capable of working out again, I will be. If you are able to walk, run, bike, swim, jump, or lift weights, I am begging you, do it; not just for yourself, but for those who can’t, and wish they could.
It’s truly sad that it takes illness for us to fully appreciate our health, just like it takes a tragedy to pull a community together sometimes. We live in such a busy, fast-paced world, and people are constantly going and doing, but rarely do we stop to appreciate the little things, such as breathing in and out effortlessly, a good night’s sleep, or simply going for a walk.
One thing that I’ve managed to do well since all these other typically easy tasks have become extremely difficult is continue to eat well. I have not let my nutrition slip, aside from a few weekend/holiday meals. Even on days when I’m tired and feel lazy and know it would be really easy to just get carry out, I continue to cook and prepare healthy meals for myself, because I know that’s such an important part of the equation when it comes to getting better. Our bodies need adequate nutrition all the time just to function, but even more so when we’re sick. All foods provide fuel and nutrients, even unhealthy foods; however, healthy, nutrient-dense foods provide far more benefits and can help prevent more negative outcomes after your illness. I can’t imagine how crummy I’d be feeling if I was putting greasy junk into my body on top of everything else that’s going on right now. Alllll the fruits & veggies, healthy fats, and high-quality protein FTW.
It can be easy to complain about little things that happen on a daily basis. Sadly, that’s just what we do. We complain when we have to sit at a stoplight for 45 whole seconds, or when the internet temporarily goes down, or when our sibling or significant other annoys us.
Instead, try to appreciate the fact that you have a car and that you have a job to get to.
Appreciate the fact that you have internet access, and a device that provides you with any information you need to know right at your fingertips.
Appreciate the fact that you have family members around; although they might annoy us some of the time, they love us unconditionally all of the time.
After this long-winded rant — no, call to action — I want to ask you again to take a minute and appreciate all the amazing things your body is capable of doing for you, both big and small, and imagine how much you would miss those things if they were taken away from you. Maybe then we will all start treating our bodies with the respect they deserve on a daily basis.
That is all.
Oh wait, you want a recipe too? Okay, fine. 😉
So, last night I whipped up some shrimp fajitas – something that I do fairly regularly – but I realized that I have never posted a recipe for them! Probably because I have honestly never measured or put much thought into it, but they are always super delicious, so I thought I should share! So I actually went to the trouble of measuring the spices and tried to snap some pics along the way as well. Sorry I’m not sorry for only ever posting Mexican recipes……. I’ll work on that. 😀
Also, I just whipped this dinner up for me, myself and I, but it could easily be doubled to feed two people, tripled to feed three people, etc. We had some pre-cut onions & peppers in the fridge that needed to be used up, so that is what I used this time around, so the veggie amounts are rough estimates, because I suck and forgot to actually measure. Worst food blogger ever. *face palm* Feel free to adjust the spices according to your personal preferences! I personally like mine pretty spicy, and I add some super hot salsa to top it all off at the end.
Super Simple Shrimp Fajitas
Serves 1; takes less than 30 minutes to prepare
- 3 oz (~9 pieces) frozen, cooked, peeled & deveined shrimp (41-50 shrimp per lb)
- 1 cup large white onion, sliced
- 1 cup mixed bell pepper strips (or roughly 1/2 of a red, green and yellow bell pepper. I also have frozen fajita veggies that I have used for this in the past, which works great too if you do not have fresh peppers & onions on hand! They are a great staple to keep in the freezer for other healthy dinners, like veggie flatbreads!)
- ~1/2-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + Mr. Misto olive oil spray as needed
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder (more or less depending on how spicy you like)
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Black pepper to taste
- 3 Mission yellow corn extra thin tortillas (can use 6 if you prefer to double up on corn tortillas; only 120 calories for 3 tortillas)
- Optional: salsa, Beanitos chips, shredded lettuce, and lime wedges
- First, place your frozen shrimp in a strainer and run under cold water for 3 minutes to thaw.
2. While the shrimp is thawing, add ~1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to a medium-sized stir fry pan over medium-high heat, then add sliced peppers & onions. Saute veggies for a few minutes before adding cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper.
3. Continue to saute veggies and spices using a spatula until the vegetables become tender, and spices are evenly distributed throughout (~5-7 minutes).
4. Let the seasoned vegetables sit over heat while you remove the tails from the shrimp. (Just use your fingers to easily peel them off.)
5. Add the shrimp to the pan and continue to stir until shrimp is heated through and covered in spices. Spray additional oil using a Mr. Misto oil sprayer as needed.
6. Turn the heat down to medium. As the shrimp and veggies continue to heat through, wet 2 paper towels, wring them out, place your corn tortillas between them on a plate, and heat in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. (You can also heat tortillas over the skillet using nonstick spray, but the microwave method is quicker, easier and doesn’t require using another clean pan. The moist paper towel is crucial to make the tortillas come out of the microwave soft, not flaky!)
7. Distribute fajita veggies and shrimp evenly on top of heated tortillas; 3 pieces of shrimp per tortilla.
Add additional toppings/garnishes as desired; shredded lettuce, lime wedges, salsa, and/or Beanitos chips on the side!
Shanna Stewart, RD LD