Surgery Update and Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (GF)

I can’t believe it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been on here. I have been busy, but geeze, time flies. Today marked a new beginning for me post surgery, and while it was a small step, I’m moving in the right direction. I finally got to get in the pool and swim for a few hundred yards! Yes, I was slow and felt a bit awkward, and yes I could only push-off with my left leg, and no I didn’t kick, but I was swimming. I was giving a swim lesson this morning and my athlete took some pics of me in the pool for proof ūüôā

Pool pic

*If you’d like to skip to the recipe and ignore my surgery update, scroll down*

I had my 4.5 month surgery follow-up this past week, and Dr. Wolff says things are right on track. I’m on track for a 9 month recovery which is longer than I had hoped, but I’ll do what’s needed so that I can be an athlete again. 9 months is March, but I’m not sure if that means I’ll be back to athlete status by then, or just “exercising” by then. PT is also progressing and I’ve now bumped up the weight on the Alter G treadmill (70%)¬†and I have started ART (Active Release Technique).

ART is phenomenal¬†and I highly recommend it for all athletes with injuries and tightness. ART is soft tissue movements based in massage. I like to describe it as massage¬†with movement. The ART practitioner¬†(or chiropractor/physical therapist) in essence¬†holds a specific muscle/tendon/ligament or fascia¬†while you move through a range of motion. Personally it’s helped me with ITB issues and now with my hamstring. It can be painful at first, and you might be sore later, but after several treatments, you’ll feel a lot better.

I’m also up to walking 1 mile, albeit at a very slow pace-23-32min¬†miles, but I’m walking. And when I go short distances, I appear normal. Which is good, but bad for work. As I’ve talked about before, part of my job at PowerBar¬†is working event expos like triathlons¬†and marathons. Now that I’m out of my brace and off crutches, I appear normal. Unfortunately I am not, and can’t stand for long periods. Expos are 6-12 hours long, so I have to sit down often. I wish I could make a sign, or wear a sign that said “I’m not lazy, I’m just in pain.” I don’t think PowerBar would like that, but I feel ashamed sitting. It’s crazy to feel ashamed as my body isn’t ready yet, but no ones¬†knows that. If anyone has had hamstring surgery, or a hamstring strain/tear, I highly recommend getting a compression thigh sleeve. I wear my thigh sleeve anytime I’m on my feet for an extended period and boy does it help with the pain.

Tomorrow at PT I believe I get to ride the recumbent bike for 5 minutes at zero intensity, woohoo. But it’s a start. I also thought I would be out of pain by now. And while I don’t have the old pain in the sciatic notch area, the sight of the surgery (under the glute cheek) is still quite painful. For example, when walking, I’ll start off at a zero, and progress to a 5/10 pain. Once it passes a 5, I stop. It is getting better as it used to be a 5 without moving. So while it doesn’t seem like¬†a huge improvement, when I think about where I was 2 months ago, it is.

Yesterday my event was the Harbor Lights Half marathon in Norfolk, VA. It was a smaller race (6,000 runners), but fun and festive. They even had Christmas carollers every hour. Unfortunately, Brett called and said he had a bad cold (I had left a few days before). So, when I got home, I decided that chicken noodle soup was in order. Chicken noodle soup is pretty basic and I often have everything on hand. This time though, I saw that I had some wild rice that hadn’t been used. So, instead of noodles, why not wild rice.

Wild Rice is not actually rice at all, but a seed of marsh grass. This is similar to quinoa in that¬†quinoa is¬†a seed.¬†It’s a¬†bit confusing, but it is still a whole grain, so great for athletes and everyone alike.


  • High in antioxidants
  • High in fiber
  • Higher in protein than most whole grains
  • Good source of magnesium, manganese, zinc, folate, and the B vitamins

One study from the University of Manitoba even found that the antioxidant activity of wild rice was 30x higher than white rice.

While wild rice is very beneficial, it can be expensive because it is scare. Wild rice is often mixed with other rice like brown, red and white. This is how I used it in my soup.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: (Serves 4-5)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 2/3 cup wild rice, or wild rice blend
  • 5 cups of low or lower sodium chicken broth
  • 8oz of mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of milk (skim, almond)
  1.  Cook the chicken per your desired method. I placed the chicken breasts in a small saucepan and covered them with 2 of the cups of chicken broth. Heat to a boil and boil 10-15 min. Pull off, cool enough to handle, then shred. Set aside.
  2. In a large soup pan, swirl 1 tbsp of olive oil. Heat pan to medium heat and add onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add carrots and celery to the pan, and cook an additional 10min or until vegetables start to soften.
  4. Stir in the wild rice, and add the 2 cups of chicken broth from cooking the chicken, plus an additional 3 cups of chicken broth. Add in the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil for 15min, or until the rice is cooked.
  5. After the rice is cooked, add in the shredded chicken and spices. Cook over low, and stir in milk for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with whole grain bread if desired.


  • 365kcal
  • 35g carbohydrate
  • 40g protein
  • 8g fat
  • 5g fiber

40% carb, 40% protein, 20% fat




  • By Faith - on

    Awesome blog Cristina! I love hearing the exciting news about your healing. I also love the recipes. Even though I don’t eat meat, chicken soup is just good for the soul and I just may eat some anyway or maybe without the chicken meat. Either way I always look forward to the blog. Thank you!

  • By fueledandfocused - on

    Thanks Faith! You could take out the chicken and chicken broth and replace with more mushrooms and veggie broth. And I used coconut milk in this so it can be dairy free.

  • By jenny - on

    I am 7 wks post hamstring reattachment now. My PT and dr have sstarted me with strengthening exercises already and possible elliptical tomorrow. I am surised at the difference in therapy approach. Are you glad you were exta conservative?

  • By fueledandfocused - on

    Hi Jen, thanks for reaching out. Every hamstring surgery is different I’m sure. Was yours an acute injury, or an old injury that just wouldn’t heal? The longer then injury, the longer the healing. Mine was an old injury, and my hamstring was torn, plus it was attached to the sciatic nerve. So they had to remove the nerve, then re-attach the hamstring. That was a bit unusual, however even without the nerve, I believe my surgeon would still have been that conservative. And YES, I am very thankful they moved that slow with my healing. Just to give you a timeline, I had the surgery and was on crutches and a leg brace for 2+ months. I weaned off the crutches around 2 months and off the brace at 3. PT started at 3 months, but strength didn’t start till the 4 month mark. My PT said it was conservative, but the surgeon insisted. And he’s one of the top DC surgeons, so I trust him. And to top it off, I couldn’t sit on the toilet or drive for the first 8 weeks. So, if you’re able to do those two things, you’re at a different place in your recovery. I just know that I am trusting my surgeon and will follow his instructions. If you trust your surgeon and PT, then follow their advice. If you feel like you’re being rushed, say something. You are always the best advocate for your body. Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help.

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