Everything Hurts

EH Review: ZÜPA NOMA superfood soups

Amanda VinciComment
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ZÜPA NOMA is the superfood soup drink every spoon should have in their fridge. It's a magical blend of organic veggies that provides you all the nutrients you'd get in a meal, in one ready to go bottle. When I heard about ZÜPA I seriously couldn't wait to try it. I'm honestly so sick of drinking the same green juices, knowing they are full of sugar. These superfood soups come in a variety of delicious flavors, so you're bound to find a favorite!

ZÜPA NOMA uses the highest quality farm fresh ingredients, and are WHOLE 30 approved! Organic Carrot Coconut Lime is my favorite, probably because it's the healthiest way to quench my craving of Indian food during lunch.

It's so much effort to juice or prep food for the week, I haven't done it in so long. I'm usually exhausted after work and on a Sunday I try to catch up on cleaning, the last thing I want to do is make another mess. Having these soup bottles in my fridge came as a relief Monday morning. I took one into work each day and knew I had something healthy to sip on at the office.

Not only are ZÜPA NOMA soups USDA Organic, WHOLE 30 and farm fresh — they're lil sis approved! My semi-spoonie sis Alexa is highly allergic to dairy, and was so excited to learn that the soups are vegan and gluten free too. I talked her into being my soup model and helping me shoot these pics all on her 15th birthday, so a big thanks to Lil Lexi... free soup for you!

If you're looking for an easy way to add more healthy veggies into your diet, ZÜPA NOMA is the superfood solution for you. You get free shipping on an order of 6 bottles, or you can subscribe for a regular order to save even more. Boosting your metabolism, encouraging gut health, assisting your body's natural detoxification and helping you feel full are all benefits packed into these ready-to-sip bottles. I loved how I felt after having one, probably because I gave my digestive system a break from processing complex foods. Go on and visit drinkzupa.com and join the #SOUPSQUAD!

(Partner)

The Chronic Pain Playlist

Amanda VinciComment

It rarely happens but when it does, you're hooked — you find a song that relates to what it's like to have a chronic condition. I've started a collection of songs that speak to me about being a spoonie, and added them to a Spotify Everything Hurts playlist!

 

Here are some of my favs:

 

Am I Yoshimi? I think I'm Yoshimi. And the evil machines are totally metaphors for my pain and illnesses... it'll be tragic if those evil robots win.

 

My body tells me NO. But I won't quit! Cause I want more. (Definitely an anthem).

 

I got a crick in my neck, limp in my step, cramping in my muscles every time I take a step... HAS THERE EVER BEEN A SONG MORE DESCRIPTIVE OF MY PAIN???? Show me love ❤️

 

Title says it all. This was the first song I heard when I was a young teen that spoke to me about my conditions. Especially when doctors though the pain was all in my head, "I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell". #TBT

 

I'M A SURVIVOR. 'nuff said.

 

What songs speak to you about your illnesses? Let me know your favs and I'll add them to the EH playlist!

Getting out on good days

health, pain, exploring, trends, art and design, foodAmanda VinciComment

I've been riding the chronic pain coaster for a couple of months now, one week of feeling great followed by another of swollen muscles and stiff joints. During an especially bad night a few weeks ago I made a promise to myself, a promise to  have to take advantage of my good days. Make the most of them, go out there and get inspired.

I work in and live right outside of the greatest city in the world (my opinion, of course). But the last thing I usually want to do during down time is get pushed around on the subways and walk down long city blocks. But I've been keeping my promise to myself, pushing myself to get our there and explore what NYC has to offer.

Here's some of what I've discovered:

Pietro Nolita is a perfectly millennial pink instagramable hot spot just north of Little Italy. It's owner, Pietro, designed this 25-seater restaurant to reflect the warmth and happiness of his home country (and family's) – Italy. The food is quite authentically Italian, and I loved my al dente Cacio e Pepe. Everything is as the napkin suggests, "pink as fuck"... including the drinks, some of the food, and the adorable bathroom. 

Which seat would you take? I'm amazed by the skeleton stools and there was no shortage of inspiration at Collective Design Fair that took place May 3-7 during NYCxDesign. Unfortunately I didn't keep track of the names of these pieces or the artists they're by, but here are some of my favorites from the collection!

WE WILL NO LONGER BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD. Yes indeed. Love everything about this.

The piece above by Zachari Logan especially spoke to me about struggles with chronic illness and body acceptance. I related it to my recent realization that my body and mind connecting is what makes me feel whole.

I have a list of over 1,000 restaurants I want to try. Not exaggerating. And The Lucky Bee has been at the top of my list for a while now. Yet another posh and adorable restaurant, this one serves a Thai inspired cuisine and delicious drinks. I was a little disappointed with my meal (not much on the menu for veggies) but my friends really enjoyed theirs. Go for the drinks and a snack, service was slow slow slow though.

I visited Gallow Green for my second time this week, thanks to the good people at Facebook hosting my work team for drinks and snacks. I absolutely love this rooftop bar and restaurant that's located on top of the McKittrick Hotel, home of the famously creative show Sleep No More. The drinks and food here are pricey but unbelievably good.

My summer goals are officially set: eat healthy (except when at a great restaurant) drink only a little (except for brunches!) and explore a lot (except for bad pain days... and work. Still have to go to work). Hooray for getting out on good days!

Your next adventure: ¡Cuba!

Amanda VinciComment

I recently returned from one of the most exciting adventures I've taken, and I loved every minute of it. After battling one of the worst periods of pain in my life (see previous post), my creative partner Anja and I spent 6 days in Cuba — a country that has been off limits to Americans from the Cold War up until about 2 1/2 years ago. Since the day President Obama announced travel sanctions would be loosened, I knew I'd have to go experience the culture of a vibrant country that was untouched for generations.

Cuba is a land almost frozen in time. The cars, the buildings, technology and music, all almost eerily from an era before my birth — but alive and vibrant as if the year were 1956. Traveling there was easy, no time machine necessary. Just purchase your airline tickets online (for an amazing price) and upon arriving to the airport, simply fill out a visa form and purchase the type of visa you will be traveling under. Post people travel under a "people to people" visa... by doing this you're required to immerse yourself in the culture of Cuba and be an ambassador of good relations between the U.S. and those you meet — c'mon, it's impossible not to do this.

THE PEOPLE

The people of Cuba make the land everything that it is. They are hard working, full of life, proud of their land, and value every person that comes to visit it. With the lack of technology and weight of communism, everyone there is motivated to succeed as much as they can, whether it's at selling coconut water on the corner or taking you for a ride in their 1950 Chevy, they're natural hustlers in the best sense of the word. Everyone we encountered was extremely friendly and helpful, if you're seen struggling with what direction to go in (there's no Google maps!) someone is bound to run over to you within 30 seconds to help you find your way, or even to walk you to your destination. It's best to have some spare change on you at all times, tips are greatly appreciated — tourism is a main source of revenue for most of the country. Not once did we feel in danger, not when we walked up a dark hill to a club in a cave at 11pm, not when we took rides to beaches a few hours from the city, and especially not when we walked the crowded streets of Havana.

THE HOMES

The best decision we made when planning our trip was to not just go to Havana, but venture out to the crystal blue waters of Trinidad, which is about 4 to 5 hours away from the city. To break up the trip over there, we spent one night in Ceinfuegos, a lovely Spanish bay town along the way. During our trip we stayed in a total of 4 Airbnb homes, each with their own unique charm and marks of the city they were in.

For our first two nights we stayed in Old Havana, a lively historic section filled with shops and street vendors, food and museums. Easily walkable (if you're feeling good) Old Havana is a great pick of where to stay inside of the city. Our Airbnb was a two bedroom apartment, we occupied one bedroom that had double beds, a small kitchen and nice sized bathroom. This is probably the most basic place we stayed during our trip, but the location was everything and we loved the balcony that wrapped around the building, providing great views of the bustling city below.

In the beautiful bay town of Ceinfuegos we ate in an ornate palace and crashed an outdoor memorial service performance (yes, really.) Our favorite part of our stay there had to be our charming Airbnb — a true bed and breakfast complete with an outdoor courtyard adorned with murals and funky furniture. Our bedroom was a duplex with an adorable upstairs suite, all meticulously clean and filled with fun decor. Upon arriving the hosts prepared us fresh basil lemonade, and before we left in the morning they fed us an extravagant Cuban breakfast of fruit and eggs, fresh honey and homemade bread. All included, all to die for.

Once we reached the beach town of Trinidad, we stayed in yet another beautifully decorated home that looked like an apartment from the outside, but immediately turned into a villa once you entered. Our room was huge — the biggest we stayed in all week, and the outdoor courtyard was so peaceful and serene that Anja flopped onto a couch and wouldn't move. Casa Amistad was clean as could be, and the bed was the most comfortable we had (beds in Cuba are terrible, I'm so lucky this didn't lead to a flare up for me) but there was very little help from the hosts, and we felt pretty much on our own for the time we stayed.

On our return to Havana for our last night, we switched things up and stayed on the other side of town, central to the Malecon and the water but a little bit further from the hustle and bustle of the city. This colonial home was truly charming, an easy walk to Vedado, and the host was very helpful and arranging car services or day trips for you. On the last morning there I went up to the rooftop terrace and indulged in yet another delectable Cuban breakfast. I'm not a coffee drinker, but damn, their coffee is good! This gorgeous home was the perfect way to end our adventure.

THE PLACES

Architecture, cars, museums, art, music, and history. Cuba has it all. Here are my must-go places in Havana and then the places we had time for/loved in Ceinfuegos and Trinidad!

HAVANA

  • FAC (Fabrica de Arte Cubano) If you're going to do one cultural/artsy thing in Cuba, make it it this. A warehouse of endless rooms, filled with arts a music, movies and drinks. 
  • Havana Club Experience the creation and history of Cuba's signature rum at the factory where it all comes together. Great for all ages (except the drinking part).
  • Plaza de la Catedral One of the most beautiful spots in Old Havana, check out this historic cathedral and the surrounding square lined with beautiful buildings.
  • San Carlos de la Cabanas Fortress every night at 8 a historical reenactment takes place along with a real canon shot!
  • Fusterlandia An artist's paradise, this neighborhood created by a Cuban artist is certainly worth heading out to.
  • Rent a classic car and get a tour, including the Malecon seaside roadway. We just spoke to the concierge at Parque Central Hotel (also the best place to get wifi) and he hooked us up with an English speaking guide! Must-see spots on your tour: The Capitol, Revolution Square, San Cristobal Cathedral, Museo de la Revolución, The Opera House, St. Francis of Assisi Square, Christopher Columbus Cemetery, John Lennon Park, and the center for Santeria.

CEINFUEGOS

  • Palacio de Valle go here for the beautiful views, rooftop drinks, delicious food, eccentric multicultural architecture and beautiful decor. Just go here.
  • Jagua Hotel Classico after dinner at the palace, walk next-door to this hotel for good drinks and live music in their courtyard... and wifi!


TRINIDAD
Upon arriving in Trinidad we rented bikes from a family in town and rode past the center of town, through beautiful farmland and mountains and into the rustic beach town of Sancti Spiritus. The waters were calm, but not crystal clear, so after spending some time in the sun, speaking to the locals and drinking a mojito, we rode 2 more miles to the beautiful Playa La Boca. This private beach was just the place we were looking for, clear blue waters perfect for snorkeling, homemade food cooked in the beach house and delivered to you under your umbrella, and refreshing mojitos and Pina coladas of course! The sunshine, saltwater and drinks must have been some kind of magic potion, because my pains really weren't so bad, even after a 3 mile bike ride.

After our full day at the beach, we hitched a ride back into town. When you have chronic pain, It's so important to know when you've done enough, even when you're on vacation. We rested up, ate dinner at the delicious family owned Sol y Son restaurant and ventured out to a club in a cave and a bunch of German kids recommended to us. We didn't know what to expect, so when the taxi dropped us off at a dark parking lot at the bottom of a hill, we trekked on up with our cellphone flashlights out (the only thing they're good for in Cuba) and after 10 minutes of walking uphill on a cement sewage drain we finally found the entrance to Disco Ayala — a breathtaking club under the earth complete with five dance floors and three bars.

THE FOOD (& DRINKS!)

Before we left for our trip, everyone who had been to Cuba warned us that the food would not be that good, and there definitely wouldn't be good options for me, the vegetarian. I'm happy to say that we really proved them wrong. The key to eating well in Cuba is planning ahead. After researching, reading other travel blogs, and of course, checking where Beyonce went to eat when there, we comprised a list of the best places to eat in each town we were heading to.

  • O'Rielly 304 GO HERE, go here, go here. The first and best place we ate on our trip. The food was fresh and flavorful and the drinks were to die for. Fresh fruit mojitos are a must have.
  • Paladar Los Mercaderes this beautiful paladar served us my favorite thing I ate in Cuba, the surprisingly delicious eggplant lasagna that was, dare I say it, as good as my Nonna's.
  • LaGuardia this gorgeous rundown mansion's top floors are occupied by the most well-known restaurant in all of Cuba, the place where Queen B and Kim & Kanye dined, and famously took pictures descending the iconic staircase. Eat fresh seafood while sitting out on the roof with a 360 view of the city. Make sure to make a reservation before you go.
  • El Cocinero this trendy restaurant on the top floor of a factory has a large menu of expertly prepared Cuban cuisine. They're conveniently located next-door to FAC, so eat dinner here before heading over for a night of art and music.

But don't just fine dine, be sure to grab treats from the streets. Be sure to have some "pizza", which is basically a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich with tomato sauce - surprisingly delicious. If you see churros, get churros. Do not disobey this order. They are unbelievable. And it may be cliche, but grab yourself one of those big fresh coconuts to sip on while walking the aisles of the craft markets. 

Cuba was hands down one of the best adventures I've been on. And it's just that — an adventure. This trip isn't for you if you're looking for rest, relaxation and time to treat yourself. But if you're ready for it, this could be the trip of a lifetime. 

Flare. The other F word.

Amanda VinciComment

You're going along, completing your mundane daily tasks and trying to make time for what makes you happy in life, when out of nowhere, a flare happens. When you have a chronic illness you know the routine all too well. Just when you think you've got a hold on your constant feelings of pain and exhaustion, your somewhat manageable condition becomes totally unmanageable and sends you spiraling into a dark abyss your not sure you'll be able to come out of.

That's where I was at the end of February. Stuck in quite possibly the worst flare of my life, wishing to shrivel up like a slug touched by salt, never to move again. A combination of physical conditions that took place during a family winter weekend getaway rendered me incapacitated before I could unpack my duffle bag when I arrived home. 

After 2 days I was at the hospital getting some heavy duty meds that only dulled the pain enough so I could limp from the bed to the couch and back again. Once I was finally able to travel to the city a week later, my rheumatologist told me that the hospital blood work found my inflammation levels to be 17 times what they usually are, and he was horrified they did nothing more to help me beside mask my pain with pills, and question where my pain was. "Everywhere" I would reply. "Really? Everywhere? But... what bothers you the most?" they'd respond.

As much as I could go on and on about the inability of hospitals to deal with chronic pain patients, I'd rather talk about the very personal experience we endure during our worst days — our flare days.

Over the years I've come to realize a timeline to the emotions that comes with the flare.

  1. "It's just a bad day, I'll feel better tomorrow"
  2. "Oh no. This can't be a flare. Can it?"
  3. "OH GOD EVERYTHING HURTS. MAKE IT GO AWAY."
  4. "Meds... I need meds... why is nobody helping me? IT HURTS SO MUCH"
  5. "This is my life now isn't it? This is just how it's going to be"
  6. "I'm worthless, all I can do is lay here. I'll never be productive again"
  7. "LOOK AT ME I'M WALKING LIKE A REAL GIRL. LOOK!"
  8. "I'm going to suffer for the rest of my life. It's inevitable"
  9. ~emotional breakdown~
  10. "Hey! No, I'm doing much better now... I'm just happy to be out of the house!"
  11. Ugh. I wonder when it's going to happen again...

A flare this bad can change your outlook on life. In the midst of it you feel so stuck and unequipped to handle the pain that mentally follows such a difficult physical experience. You feel like a victim again, instead of a champion of pain. Because when you we're in between this flare and your last your forgot how bad it could be, and you forgot that you forgot.

I'd love to be able to better prepare for a flare during my healthier times, and to do so without dwelling on the inevitability of worse pain. I'm not quite sure yet how to do this. Eat healthy? Exercise regularly? Meditate? Sure, all good things — all things we need to be doing more of and promise ourselves we will, right after finishing some mac & cheese in front of the TV.

Luckily, I came out of my flare and felt almost back to normal by my 28th birthday on March 9th. I felt strong enough to spend a night out with friends, which was just what I needed after weeks in bed. A few weeks later I was even healthy enough to adventure to Cuba with one of my closest friends and career partner. But I still feel the effects of that flare today, it's been over a month and I'm still not right, I have a stiffer neck, more swollen legs and get tired easily, but what's even worse that those lingering effects is the depression and anxiety that's left over. 

I feel like every flare takes a little piece of hopefulness from me, reminds me that I am not a warrior, I am a person. And as fast as I can climb back up and push on, I can be knocked down and reminded that I am and always will be someone who's sick.

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