Girl Talk: Body Image Chat

 

Note: Today’s post discusses body image. If this isn’t what you feel like reading today, no hard feelings! See you tomorrow ūüôā

A few weeks ago I had a crazy yet enlightening realization. I was getting dressed in my real clothes which involved my favorite pair of black high boots. As I was zipping the boots up, I noticed they were taking some extra time to pull up over my calves.

I laughed. Ha, look at me with the calf muscles! They are making my boots tight! Maybe by next winter¬†these very¬†boots won’t even zip up at all!

I literally just laughed, smiled….and moved on.

And then I realized — If it were my jeans or black pants being pulled up and taking too long to get over my thighs, feeling snug up top¬†or heaven for bid, not getting up at all, there’s a chance I would have started to freak with thoughts that would look something like this:

What did I do? What did I not do?

Did I gain weight? Am I eating too much?

Is it PMS? Am I bloated?

Am I not running enough? Am I running too much?

What happened? How did this happen?

Is it Pure Barre? Am I building too much leg muscle? Am I not targeting my thighs the right way with my workouts?

Do you see what I am saying? My calves do not phase me but higher up in the leg has the potential to send me into a frenzy.

If I need a¬†larger size in shirts, that’s cool. I need room to move my arms¬†and like to¬†be comfortable.

Need the next size in shoes? Sure thing, bring them out. No big deal.

But jeans? Because the thigh area¬†isn’t fitting right? Cue¬†freak out, call my mother.

I am not a fool, I absolutely know I am thin. And I also know that if I needed a bigger size in my jeans, I would still be a healthy size for my body.

However, I think that the brainwashing effect of living in a society that praises weight loss and small sizes combined with knowing I was once chubby and that chub was in my thighs still has the potential to play an initial role in my thought process if I allow it.

I try to replace the thought process with something like this:

You are insane, you know that? You look awesome and you feel awesome, so stop it.

Like hello, you are a runner. Those legs and muscles continue to carry you across finish lines, faster and faster.

You love Pure Barre. It is a wonderful cross-training workout that has absolutely changed your shape for the better.

You couldn’t eat less even if¬†you wanted to! What would you do, genius, what would you even do? Skip an apple? Not eat sweet potatoes? Start measuring out your servings of vegetables instead just eating the amount that¬†you actually want? Nonsense.

And, eating any less than you do right now would wreak havoc on your body and you know that! You would lose your period, slow your metabolism (and then gain weight for real rather than the fake weight you are imagining right now) and increase your risk of injury.

You realize you are able to run injury free right? I do not bring this up as to not jinx myself but I increase mileage and run 6 days a week for years without issue. I continually thank my body (and how I fuel it) for this.

And heck no,¬†you will never give up dessert. You love dessert and also know that those occasional favorite treats are not what’s going to do¬†you in but giving them up, most certainly will destroy¬†your soul.

cold stone sundae

I receive so many emails from readers each week¬†looking to me for guidance¬†regarding their own body image struggles and for answers to their¬†disordered eating recovery questions¬†that I think it’s important for me to share my own thoughts and experiences. Realizing we all have the potential to experience these moments¬†about our bodies¬†can help¬†us to see that our initial thought¬†processes¬†aren’t any different from the next girl.

The trick (and probably the most difficult part) is not only realizing that these types of thoughts will pop up from time to time but how important it is to take those body image thoughts and learn how to put them into perspective in order to keep a healthy mindset.

As fitness enthusiasts, I do believe we are most in tuned with our bodies and more likely to notice the little changes that may or may not occur in our muscles and structure.

But see, we are actually the girls who have the wiggle room. The room to eat more because we are always exercising, to skip a workout because we are so routine that hey, it’s okay to rest today! and the room to bounce between sizes because, more than likely, we changed sizes because our shapes changed for the better from our workouts, not because we were inactive and gained weight. Let’s remember this, okay?

Post of Interest:

Achieving a Balanced Attitude Towards Your Weight

Finding Balance Part One РHow many calories do you really need?

Finding Balance Part Two РHow what and why should we eat for our workouts?

Finding Balance/NEDA Week РFemale Athlete Triad chat

Do You Really Need To Lose 5 Pounds? РProbably not!

Jeans Can Lie

[bctt tweet=”body image chat #girltalk #bodyimage #disorderedeating #running #coldstone¬†#fitfluential” username=”cookiechrunicle”]

Has running changed your calf muscles and do you notice them in your boots?

How do you handle the thoughts that pop up when you think your clothes don’t fit right?

 

It’s Okay When What You Eat Changes

 

Jen from Peanut Butter Runner (one of my most favorite blogs and the first blog I ever read!) shared a terrific post last week called Food, Fitness and Feeling Good: Paving Your Own Way and Learning What Works For You.

I think what I love most about her post is how she points out that a diet or lifestyle that works for someone else may not work for you. And even more importantly, what worked for you last year may not work for you now!

I have shared the story behind My Meatless Diet (which you can read here) explaining how I suddenly transitioned to a meatless way of life.

my meatless diet

This is NOT a post saying I now eat chicken or steak! No, I am still a meatless eater! But will I always be? Will this diet always continue to work for me? I like to think so but who knows for sure.

Honestly, sometimes when I read Michele’s blog and she shares photos of burgers on her plate, I start to think that maybe I want one too.

Will I have a burger one day soon? I don’t know. Right now, the answer is no but that could change.

Lately what I want to eat is changing.

This always happens to me after a stomach virus. Always. In fact, it’s exactly how I¬†ended up giving up meat and eating a mostly plant-based diet for over four years now.

But I am not strictly plant-based, I will never be vegan and I am not strictly vegetarian either. Sometimes I eat shrimp or a spicy tuna roll and then sometimes I go extended periods with very limited dairy and no eggs for months.

Right now though I am eating as many eggs and egg whites as I do bowls of oatmeal.

I felt the need for more protein and adding eggs and egg whites back in to my diet on what feels like a daily basis now did the trick immediately. I definitely noticed an immediate difference in how I felt, both in my energy levels and appetite satisfaction.

I am¬†really enjoying¬†oatmeal lately when it’s cooked with¬†eggs/egg whites stirred in, maybe some banana, cinnamon and a little bit of Skoop. Sometimes I add a drizzle of maple syrup. It has become a terrific (and satisfying)¬†post-run meal.

oatmeal

I used to love berries mixed in to my oatmeal but right now, that is not appealing to me.

Peanut butter has lost it’s appeal too¬†which is really upsetting if you want to know the truth.

I very rarely add it to oatmeal, haven’t had it for lunch in several weeks and most of time when I try to eat peanut butter, I realize that it really isn’t what I want to be eating.

And my favorite red-capped jar of crunchy peanut butter¬†with flax and chia seeds from Trader Joe’s?

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter

It now tastes awful to me. I can’t even understand how¬†I used to eat it nor can I understand how I am saying this but it’s how I feel.

I still¬†like my Crunch Time Peanut Butter (from¬†PB & Co) ¬†but I don’t eat much of it. In fact, more than a spoonful has given me a stomach ache.

Most of the time, I am eating an apple plain or with some chocolate.

apple

Lately I find myself eating more bagels than I have in years.

I had this salad and bagel combo over the weekend. It was probably the first salad I had eaten for lunch in weeks. My appetite has started to think, at least for right now, that vegetables before dinner are dumb.

bagel and salad

This was a whole grain maple cinnamon raisin bagel – you really tasted the maple syrup, it was a genius addition.

Even my Cold Stone sundae the other night was different for me. I am a total creature of habit when it comes to my desserts but I didn’t want whipped cream, I wanted the chocolate fudge brownie frozen yogurt in place of my usual vanilla-based favorite and¬†I didn’t care that they were out of waffle bowls. I added cookie dough to the mix (with chocolate chips and hot¬†fudge)¬†and this is now my favorite.

Cold Stone

I think my point is, we are allowed to change what we eat on a regular basis. Nothing in life stays the same, our diets and food choices included.

As Jen said in her post, and I quote,

“The important thing to keep in mind is that you have to honor YOUR body. What feels good for someone else might not feel good for you. What felt good for you last year might not be your jam this year. And sometimes, something you‚Äôve been doing for your entire¬†life might quit working. You have to be open to¬†changing your ways and sometimes that can be tough when we have super hard-wired thinking patterns.”

You can read her full post here in case you missed the link at the top ūüôā

[bctt tweet=”It’s okay when what you eat changes #food #recenteats #meatless @jdecurtins #fitfluential “]

Are there any foods that you used to love and now suddenly just don’t?

How have your eating habits/patterns changed over the last few years?

If you are a meatless eater, do you ever want a hamburger?

 

 

Finding Balance Between Our Diets & Workouts Part Two

 

Before we get started with part two of finding balance between our diets and our workouts, I realize that this post may contain information that many of you already know.

But sometimes, just because we know something, doesn’t mean we apply it.

It can often take repeated exposure to hearing the same information over and over to make us finally wake up and do something with it.

You may know you need to eat more, you may know it’s important to refuel after a workout, you may know you still need to eat on a rest day yet your brain fights it in a quest to not gain weight.

I understand, really I do, but denying your body food especially when it needs it the most, is not the way to lose weight! In fact, eating too little can and will, eventually, slow your metabolism and cause you to gain weight, along with bring you a whole other host of problems.

So, just like last week’s post, I spoke with Laura (thanks Laura!) about some of the questions I often receive regarding balancing our food with our running and workouts.

I have interjected some of my own thoughts in conjunction with her advice along with a few links of interest as they relate to each topic.

 finding-balance-between-our-diets-and-workouts-part-two

The first question today discusses what we should eat before and after our workouts. I¬†know that not everyone likes to eat before a run. Please make sure you aren’t lying to yourself about this. Are you skipping the fuel in favor of consuming fewer calories or does the food really not sit well in your stomach?

Do you really want to test out glycogen depletion training or are you trying to run off last night’s dinner instead of eating additional calories?

Pre and Post Run Fuel – Why and What?

It’s important to eat a source of easily digestible carbohydrates before your workout. You want to select a carbohydrate that will give you a sustained source of energy rather than a carbohydrate crash, but you also want to avoid anything that will have you running for the bathroom.

You don’t need to eat a huge meal before a run; a small 100-300 calorie snack will work well.

Popular pre-run options:

  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Dates
  • Applesauce
  • Toast
  • Whole-Grain Waffles
  • Cereal

The amount of time needed between what you eat and when you run varies by person. Some need more than an hour to digest, others can run within 20 minutes.

After a run, you want to eat a balanced combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. To replenish your glycogen stores and start the recovery process for your muscles, be sure to eat within 60 minutes of finishing your run.

-> Although the 6o minute time frame is the benchmark, I do much better when I eat my post run meal within 30 minutes following my run, especially my long run. The sooner I eat, the better I recover and the less hungry I am for the rest of the day. If I miss the window, especially if I go longer than an hour, I get headaches, stiff muscles and remain ravenous all day long!

I shared this post-run meal ideas¬†post a little while ago and Laura recently posted this post-run breakfast recipe round-up too. It’s great to see the variety of options!¬†

How much more should we eat if we are training for a race?

The harder you train, the more calories your body needs! Listen to your body’s hunger cues and respond accordingly.

-> Check out this post Michele recently shared which shows¬†her day of food as she trains¬†for the Boston Marathon. Even if you don’t follow a¬†Paleo diet (which I don’t), it will demonstrate for you that all you need to do is eat when you are hungry and have your meals¬†include extra of what you normally eat in order to fuel your workouts.¬†

How much more should we be eating on the days we exercise versus the days we rest?

You may be tempted to cut your calories on rest days, but eating enough is vital on those days to support recovery.

Listen to your hunger. Your body doesn’t lie to you and food plays a vital role in the recovery process. Your running is more likely to suffer if you restrict foods than if you eat according to hunger and athletic needs.

-> My rest days typically fall after hard workout days which usually¬†means I wake up super hungry. Just because I am not running does not mean I don’t eat a lot. If I am hungry, I keep eating until satisfied. If I am not as hungry, I don’t keep eating. It’s fairly simple.

How do we know we are fueling enough to maintain a healthy weight while running and increasing mileage/intensity?

Signs you are not eating enough for your body and your workouts:

  • Your weight is dropping (when you are trying to maintain)
  • Absence of period/suddenly irregular cycles
  • Increased fatigue
  • Performance suffering
  • Cravings increasing, especially for sweets

We have talked¬†A TON¬†about amenorrhea and what it means when you aren’t getting your period. For most females, it’s a true sign of a lack of energy flowing throughout the body which is often a direct result of not eating enough to support our daily functions and workouts.

Your body is real good at letting you know what’s up – appetite, cravings, performance, strength – all indicators¬†of your balance. If you pay attention, you will notice that things can change from one week to the next. It’s totally normal!¬†We are not machines. The¬†trick here though is to listen and make the adjustments¬†necessary as you notice certain symptoms. If you ignore the cues, your workouts will suffer, you run the risk for injury, medical issues (including Female Athlete Triad)¬†and, well,¬†you will be a really cranky person because you are tired and¬†hungry.

Posts of interest:

Finding Balance Between Our Diets & Workouts < – In case you missed last week!

Healthy Carb Loading Recipe Round Up

Amenorrhea Talk

I Do Not Run So That I Can Eat

[bctt tweet=”Finding Balance Between Our Diets & Workouts @thisrunnersrecipes #diet #balance #running #workouts #fitfluential”]

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Any questions you want us to address specifically in another post?

Do you find your appetite is more intense the day of a long run/race or the day after? 

What do you like to eat before you run? What doesn’t work for you that you know of? I get hungry during my run if I eat toast with peanut butter so I really stick to oatmeal and/or banana. Oh, and apples do not work for me. I cannot¬†dice apples into my oatmeal¬†before I run!

 

 

 

Finding Balance Between Our Diets & Workouts

 

I receive a lot of emails¬†asking¬†how to find¬†balance between our diets and our workouts. If you ask me (which many of you have),¬†it’s an ever evolving quest for finding that¬†balance. Although on some level it’s simple – eat to fuel your appetite – it’s not always that simple.

There’s no one size fits all dietary lifestyle and even for each individual, what works one week may not work the other. It’s important to realize that our bodies require different nutrition at different times which means we must be open to change in our diets and be adaptable.

Today is the first day in what will likely be a two or three-part series of finding balance between our diets and workouts.

My goal is to provide us with the information necessary to further understand just how much we actually need to eat and how to figure out the right balance for our bodies.

I want to help us get away from restrictive mindsets while finding pride in the foods that help fuel our muscles to keep us healthy and happy.

I¬†have enlisted Laura’s help in covering these topics. While she is not a doctor or registered dietitian, she is so insightful, a certified running coach and has a really special way of explaining things so that we can understand.

Finding Balance Between our DIets & Workouts

On average, how many calories does a female runner/female who is active need on a daily basis?

The answer is probably more than you think! Since caloric requirements vary on height, weight, training, and individual metabolism, I can’t provide an outright answer. A calorie is not always a calorie: you could eat 1,500 calories a day of crappy food or 2,500 calories a day of whole foods and weigh the same, although you would see a difference in your athletic performance.

As a running coach, what I recommend to my athletes is that they calculate how many carbohydrates they need. There are very straight-forward formulas to help them determine this. Female runners need at minimum 2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day; if you run for an hour, you need 3-4 grams; runners logging 2 or more hours of running require 4-5 grams of carbohydrate.

So let’s take a hypothetical female runner who trains for an hour a day and weighs 130 pounds. She needs 390-520 grams of carbohydrates a day; at 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates, that’s 1560-2080 calories from carbohydrates alone.

You of course need to also eat a healthy amount of protein to repair your muscles and fat to promote overall health.

While you should consult a RD for an exact number, this formula will help most female runners assess whether or not they are eating enough calories and enough of the right foods.

Editor’s note–> I am not an habitual¬†calorie counter. However, there are times when you¬†may need to¬†check in with what you are eating to not only see if you are getting enough calories but the right breakdown of nutrients. I do recommend My Fitness Pal to help you get a look at your diet but if you are sensitive to calorie counting and restriction, do not use it as an everyday tool!

What are some approaches to making sure we fuel ourselves correctly?

I personally advocate intuitive eating with an emphasis on whole foods. Eat how much you want when you are hungry; by listening to your body’s signals such as hunger and fullness, you will know when you need to eat. Quality of diet matters significantly for everyone, especially athletes, so I recommend finding a healthy eating approach that works for you and helps you feel your best.

I never recommend restriction to athletes. If you are restricting your food intake and feeling hungry often, you are likely not fueling yourself correctly. If you eat high quality foods for a majority of your diet and eat until you are satisfied, you will easily maintain a healthy weight and see your body composition improve during training.

Editor’s note—> If I find myself snacking too much at night on chocolate chips, I know I am not eating enough during the day. Maybe my mileage increased, maybe my needs are changing. I make it a point to¬†pay attention to this when it happens¬†and eat more at my meals, not restrict anything just because I overindulged on chocolate – I overindulged for a reason and that reason is usually because I didn’t eat enough!

Which foods are best for runners and easily incorporated into meals?

This will vary based on dietary preferences, but fruits, vegetables (especially starchy vegetables), legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meats, eggs, and whole grains are the best foods for runners. This doesn’t mean you should restrict other foods; rather, these foods should constitute most of your diet to fuel your running and help you maintain a healthy weight.

I recommend that runners focus on complex carbohydrates for most of their daily carbohydrate requirements. Brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole grain bread, white and sweet potatoes, vegetables, and fruit all provide excellent sources of carbohydrates. Unlike refined flours and simple sugars, complex carbohydrates do not spike the body’s insulin levels (which can lead to weight gain and affect sports performance) while also providing more vitamins and minerals as well.

Healthy fats are essential for female runners, especially when it comes to your reproductive health. Omega-3 fatty acids also help reduce inflammation and speed the recovery process, meaning that you can train better. Great sources of fat include nut butters, chia seeds, flax seeds, avocado, nuts, and healthy oils (coconut, olive, grapeseed, etc).

I also recommend that all women include iron-rich foods in their diet. Women naturally lose iron during their periods, but endurance athletes lose iron through foot-strike hemolysis (when iron is lost through the repeated impact of your feet to the ground) and through the recovery cycle (the protein hepcidin, which plays a vital role in muscular recovery, blocks iron absorption). Iron supplements can be tricky to take safely, so instead you want to consume iron from foods such as black beans, lean red meat, blackstrap molasses, raisins, and lentils.

Editor’s note–> I am very careful about iron. I have definitely noticed a difference in my energy levels by making sure I eat a lot of spinach, lentils¬†and quinoa, especially around my period. I will also say that sometimes I have experienced fatigue which turned out to be a need for more protein. Once I added in some extra protein in the form of eggs, I immediately felt better.

Never underestimate the power of food! Just a little bit extra of the right stuff goes a long way.

Stay tuned for part¬†two next week! Thanks Laura for helping us ūüôā

[bctt tweet=”Finding balance between our diets & workouts @thisrunnersrecipes #diet #exercise #balance #fitfluential #running “]

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Do you have any questions specific to this topic that you want us to address?

Is there a specific food you tend to crave more often that is your signal that you aren’t eating enough?

Are you a night-time snacker?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do not run so that I can eat

 

I had this dessert over the weekend which you may have seen if you follow me on instagram.

ice cream

I am often asked if I¬†RUN to¬†EAT my favorite desserts, how I plan my miles around what I feel like eating and, this week especially, will I cut my calories since it’s taper time.

I can’t speak for all runners but if I am speaking for myself, my response is…

 

I do not run so that I can eat.

 

For sure everything tastes that much better after a good workout, a long run and most certainly a race. If we look at it from that perspective, yes, running hard so I can better taste and appreciate my food is a given.

But running so I can eat in order to not gain weight? Nah, that’s not why I run.

Eating dessert because I can just run it off in the morning? Nah, that’s not why I eat.

I have been a dessert lover all my life. Even when I dealt with amenorrhea, dessert was never what was lacking in my diet.

No matter the amount of miles I run, I enjoy a good, overloaded with chocolate¬†dessert when I want it but I¬†actually don’t want it or eat it every single day.

I think because¬†I never deny my true cravings, I am more in touch with my appetite and what it is I want to eat, never feeling restricted. Nothing is off limits therefore I don’t feel denied.

Running a whole lot will certainly burn calories and give you some wiggle room in terms of eating more BUT —

You Can’t Out Run¬†A Bad Diet.

You have heard this phrase before, right?

While I don’t agree with labeling foods good or bad, I also don’t believe¬†in using running or any exercise regimen strictly to allow yourself to indulge under the assumption that you can burn it all off (you can’t by the way, it doesn’t work like that).

As you know by now, what I eat on a regular basis is plant-focused, carb-centered, meatless and pretty clean. I balance it all nicely with my love of dessert but overall, I fuel my body with nutrient dense foods.

I do not count calories in or calories out, I pay attention to nutrients instead. It took time over the years to understand this concept and switch from caring about calories to caring about the nutrients and quality of food.

I view food in terms of how it will benefit me. How what I am about to consume will make me feel, how it will help or hinder my ability to run.

My mindset is not on dieting. It’s not on burning off what I take in or about tapering my diet to fit my mileage in order to stay slim.

The truth is, I don’t know what I weigh so¬†how would I even receive an accurate calorie count on the treadmill?

Maybe I am making this whole diet and exercise thing sound simple but really, it can be that simple.¬†I have learned what foods are both enjoyable and nutritious, I don’t rely on packaged snacks and I choose fresh fruits and vegetables over processed foods.

Keyword right there, CHOOSE. We all have the right to choose what we eat and it’s what we do with our choices on a consistent basis that count. Not one meal, not one dessert, not a hungry day, your week’s vacation and certainly not one taper week.

Am I a perfect eater? I don’t even know what a perfect eater means.

All I know is that I like the way I feel after eating freshly prepared unprocessed food. I do not want greasy foods (okay except some onion rings) but I also know how to dine out and enjoy myself and yes, sometimes, I want chocolate and cake and cookies therefore I have some, satisfy my soul and move on.

So much is out there on dieting and quick fix approaches which all appear so restricting and limiting, it seems like torture. Same applies to those fitness programs which focus solely on the calorie burn rather than what exercise does for us overall.

I do understand that exercise can be an effective weight loss tool, just like dieting, and I do know that all of my miles combined with what I eat must keep my size in check, it’s just that I wish more people were able to figure out how to switch¬†away from the dieting¬†mindset in relation to their exercise program and enjoy the way¬†fitness (running!)¬†makes them feel.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Be sure to check out what everyone else is thinking about today ūüôā

[bctt tweet=”I do not run so that I can eat #running #diet #fitfluential #dessert”]

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Race weather update — It’s pretty nasty here but Saturday is looking to be the drier day of the next five days!!

Are your cravings for sweet or salty foods?

Are you a calorie counter or nutrient counter, or both?

Who else is racing this weekend?!

 

 

 

 

 

Running Helps Me Think – Favorite Post Roundup

 

As you figured out from yesterday’s post, the half marathon on Sunday was just plain difficult. I¬†kept attempting¬†to zone out as I normally do during my daily runs to remove myself from my¬†discomfort¬†but no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t do it.

Running, in general though,¬†is great for spacing out and letting your mind wander, don’t you think?

I have sorted through so many things while running loops around my neighborhood which not only helped to clear my head but also helped me to develop some really awesome (and deep) blog posts.

running helps me think favorite post roundup

Lately however, my head is completely clear while I run.

I have nothing weighing on my mind, nothing to sort through, nothing to ponder more than which grocery store will have the cheapest berries this week.

Like really, where the heck are the decent priced blueberries already?

I just can’t even get over though, now that I reflect back on it, how many situations I worked through in my life while logging those miles.

Unresolved issues that were still lingering in my background were somehow brought to the surface as my feet were pounding away at the pavement.

Understanding my divorce, dealing with¬†dating junk, personal growth stuff, motherhood, diet, exercise, weight….life….all tackled in such a beautiful way mentally which translated into posts to share with you.

I feel so lucky that not only was I able to dig deep so often but I was able to translate those thoughts into words to share with you, hopefully helping not only myself but others with some of the topics I have covered.

Running is awesome for mental clarity but so is writing. Getting those thoughts organized and out of your head is as great as cleaning out a closet.

It’s therapeutic, soothing and like taking a weight off of your shoulders. Sometimes we don’t actually solve a problem but we find a really good way to deal with it, live with it and make the best of it.

Since I don’t have a deep post for you right now (unless you want 700 words on blueberries), I thought it would be a good time to round some of my favorites for you instead.

Divorce/Relationships/Motherhood/Life:

Outgrowing Your Past <Рcan you ever really go back?

Never Be Stuck Again <РI still think about this post.

A Mile In My Shoes¬†<– you really don’t know what you would do until it happens to you.

Retrain Your Brain <Рthe mind is a powerful thing.

Motherhood & Marriage Are Anything But Easy <Рmy response to a controversial article.

You Never Sleep Again <–ugh, love this post on motherhood.

Remembering Your Independence <Рindependence is really important no matter your relationship status.

Listening To Your Intuition <Рdo you ignore your intuition?

Running Hills Through Your Past <Рlove this post.

Organize Your Life To Organize Your Mind <Рhow do you stay organized?

Helping A Friend <Рso important to be there for your friends.

Dating After Divorce <РI could write a book on the topic.

Understanding The Four Sides Of YOU <Рa great way to take a good honest look at yourself.

Looking for more? I am always updating my Divorce and If You Missed It section at the top of the page.

Running:

How To Start Running¬†<– not a how to, more of how I started running…we all start somewhere!

How ‚ÄúI Think‚ÄĚ I Run Injury Free¬†<– total taboo topic for me!

How Pregnancy And Motherhood Affect Your Running Routine <Рone of my faves, featured on Blogher!

I Would Back Burner It All Over Again¬†¬†<– I didn’t workout when my son was little.

How To Become A Morning Runner <РI make myself laugh.

Treadmill Racing¬†<–I still see this woman at my gym!

Definitely check out my Running page, I am always updating it to include workouts, playlists, recaps and other posts!

Finding Balance With Your Body:

A Life Without The Scale <Рstill one of my most viewed posts!

Jeans Can Lie ‚Äď NEDA Week¬†<– Jeans can lie, just like the scale.

Waiting For Monday¬†<–definitely one of my faves.

Put Away Your Measuring Cup¬†<– please don’t measure your spinach.

Food Over Medicine <Рabsolutely.

What Do You Mean You Forgot To Eat? – I will never understand.

Learning From Mistakes¬†<– that’s the goal.

So much to read, so much to read!¬†Enjoy ūüôā

[bctt tweet=”Running Helps Me Think – Favorite Post Roundup #running #thinking #roundup #divorce #motherhood #life”]

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Are you able to zone out during races?

If you are a blogger, do you write posts in your head while running?

How much are the fresh blueberries in your area right now?

Waiting For Monday

You have heard me rant about the people who forget to eat. You have even heard me question those who fail to get up in the morning to squeeze in their workout.

Thinking-Out-Loud

I  decided that those same people also fall into the category of Waiting For Monday.

Are you one of them? It’s okay,¬†you can¬†tell me.

Are you one of those people who says, I will start on Monday. I will start after New Years.

I will begin right after vacation, after this¬†weekend’s dinner party, after Sunday’s birthday cake,¬†after my coworker’s aunt’s best friend’s graduation…and any other life moment you can conjure up just to put off¬† getting started with your fitness routine or cleaner eating lifestyle.

I never understood this Waiting For Monday approach, because to me, it’s just another excuse.

Just another way to refer to what you want to change about yourself as a negative thing that needs to be put off because it is too dreadful to implement today.

The mound of laundry in my house gets put off.

laundry

I can easily ignore the pile to be folded and quite often I will take the socks out of the dryer as I need them while saying I will come back to fold the rest of the load later.

Okay, I will fold it in the morning. By tomorrow night. Really, I swear. I will get to it.

I cannot imagine treating my body as I do my laundry.

You want to eat a little cleaner? What are you waiting for? What is any different about Monday?

You want to start going to the gym? Why are you waiting until New Year’s Day? Go today. Just go. Stop putting it off.

Eating healthier is NOT a bad thing. Eating healthier DOES NOT mean you never enjoy yourself again. Making the decision to eat more vegetables on a regular basis DOES NOT mean that burgers and fries and wine and cookies are off the menu.

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Waiting for Monday further fuels this false belief that a healthier lifestyle is an all or nothing approach.

This is the exact mindset which often sets most of society up for failure and contributes to yo-yo dieting, weight gain, anxiety, depression and lots of money wasted on fad diet plans and gym memberships that never get used.

It need not be this way.

I wish people could understand that just making the decision to start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diet, throwing in some exercise, making it a point to focus on what you¬†CAN do rather than what you¬†CAN’T do is really pretty simple.

It’s not about a¬†diet. It’s not about a¬†temporary quick fix or restriction. It’s not¬†about living on small packages of food supplied to you by a company for the rest of your life or out of containers which measure away every morsel you allow yourself to eat.

You can still eat your favorite foods. You can still go out for dinner, enjoy yourself at a party and on vacation.

hershey bar cheesecake

I kinda had this cake last night even though I am all caked out but I think I found myself a new favorite.

When the majority of your lifestyle is balanced with nutritious foods and regular exercise, you have that wiggle room to live and enjoy as your social calendar (and cravings) dictate.

And really, putting your sneakers on to move yourself instead of just sitting there on the couch talking about how you should move yourself will actually make you feel more energized and better about life overall.

It may not seem so at first, but you will see. If you just got off the couch now instead of talking over and over about your plan for January 1st.

So tell me, what is so dreadful about adding a side salad to your lunch today, having a few more servings of fruit in place of the packaged snacks which are mushed and crumbled because they fell out of a vending machine and going to the gym today or for a walk/run outside for thirty minutes?

It’s Thursday, I know, but it’s okay, you don’t have to wait until Monday.

 

 

WIAW- Food Over Medicine

 

**The winner of the Stur Giveaway is Liz from the blog, I Heart Vegetables **

So yesterday I decided that blog posts are like coloring books. I will often select a page to color, get half way through the pretty picture, lose interest in the pattern and flip the pages to find a new and exciting image.

My blog writing process is the same…I start out with one idea and slowly lose interest or decide I need to talk about something else entirely which exactly¬†what happened with today’s post…

wiaw fall into good habits button

Your knees hurt for days on end? You survive on Aleve.

Your muscles ache after your runs? You pop Motrin.

Arthritis acting up? You take your winning combination of pills to relieve half of the pain.

Haven’t¬†seen your menstrual cycle¬†in over three months? Your doctor puts you on the birth control pill to¬†give you estrogen and ensure some sort of “regular” cycle.

Do you notice a pattern here? We are masking the issue rather than resolving it.

I can’t even¬†totally fault you for this. The doctors aren’t exactly prescribing sweet potatoes, pineapple and cherries for your ailments.

They should be though. The antioxidants found in nutrient dense real foods are powerhouses for our systems.

Not only do these foods taste really yummy if you would just give them the chance and satisfy the appetite in a healthy way, they provide us with the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that can actually alleviate your most common of ailments.

My father has bad knees. They ache and hurt and the arthritis is terrible and awful making him uncomfortable enough to often consider knee replacement.

What he doesn’t consider is the Diet Coke he is drinking or the lack of fruits and vegetables in his diet.

People tend to shy away from adopting a healthier lifestyle because they associate healthier with restriction, diet plans and being hungry.

I try really hard to explain to him that the focus shouldn’t be on what we are taking away from the diet, it’s about what we need to add in.

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Lunch time salad of the moment which contains roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, plum tomatoes, romaine lettuce with a giant scoop of chick pea and avocado mash.

Eating an abundance of nutrient dense foods frees you from worrying about counting the calories, portion control and restrictions while at the same time, these foods help you to feel good, fuel your muscles, reduce inflammation, balance your hormones and even help with weight management.

Before I became a vegetarian over two and half years ago, I survived on a pretty high protein diet in form of lots of chicken, lean turkey and the occasional steak with a much lower level of complex carbohydrates.

I thought I felt pretty good and I was thin so what could be wrong?

  • My muscles weren’t recovering quickly from my workouts
  • I couldn’t run too fast or for too long
  • My menstrual cycle was regular but extremely heavy with cramps that should have been against the law
  • I experienced eczema on my eyelids in the cold, winter weather
  • Horrendous hay fever
  • After having the shingles virus¬†when I was thirty, I developed PHN (lingering nerve pain long after the virus was over)¬† that left me in pain in my right arm whenever I was tired, stressed or upset. This nerve damage also prevented me from lifting more than a five-pound dumbbell¬† and even that was an issue for me.

When I randomly changed to a vegetarian diet, when I eliminated animal protein in the form of meat and poultry, cut back on dairy and increased my plant-based proteins as well as complex carbohydrates, within one week my life changed.

Not one time since becoming a vegetarian have I ever experienced the nerve pain in my arm again. Not once!

I never had eczema again and my seasonal allergies were reduced to the bare minimum.

My menstrual cycles came and went without PMS (most of the time) and even saved me some money on the super plus tampon supply.

And my muscles? Oh my goodness. The focus on plant-based foods and complex carbs changed my workouts completely.

My ability to run faster and longer happened immediately. It was almost magical.

Did you even know that inflammation, which is often caused from consuming too many processed foods or an over abundance of animal protein, can heighten the symptoms of PMS, menstrual cramps, eczema, nerve pain, allergies and pain the joints?

I am in no way saying we all need to be vegetarians or vegans nor do I want to even focus on the foods we should eliminate because I am tired of social media and society walking around with the notion of healthy means restrictions.

However,¬†learning what we should add into our diet, learning how and why incorporating more plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables into our lifestyle can help to¬†reduce inflammation in the body and remedy other health-related issues is what’s really important.

I wanted to give you a list of the best foods to fight inflammation but honestly, there are so many! Basically, just loading your plate with fruits and vegetables is a great place to start.

butternut squash stir fry

Obsessed with adding butternut squash to everything these days including the above stirfry.

Here are my favorite foods to fight inflammation that actually taste yummy too:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocado
  • Pineapple
  • Cherries
  • Quinoa
  • Coconut Oil
  • Berries
  • Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are so easy to add to your food that you wouldn’t even notice they are in your bowl of oatmeal.

oatmeal

I currently have this pot of steel-cut oats mixed with old-fashioned rolled oats cooking on the stove. Can you even see the chia seeds?

If you notice from the foods to fight inflammation list, there are foods with fat.

We need fat, especially the healthy fats. Not only do healthy fats make us feel full and fight inflammation, avocados even help to balance our hormones.

When I dealt with amenorrhea, my blood work was showing super high cholesterol and crazy out of whack liver enzymes. The doctors told me to watch my fatty food intake and limit cholesterol.

But the crazy thing was, I was not eating much fat at all.

I was doing the complete opposite of what my blood work was showing. Avoiding fat actually wreaked havoc on my body causing it to produce the bad cholesterol and screw around with my liver.

When you don’t get a regular cycle, something is wrong and that something is typically an energy deficit.

My weight on the scale was¬†on the low-end of a healthy range for my height but I wasn’t healthy.

Taking the pill wasn’t going to change that.

Nowadays we all know I live on avocados and peanut butter.

avocado

And I am super excited to say I stocked up on The Mighty Maple this week.

mighty maple peanut butter

At the end of the day, it’s really about finding the healthy balance which works for you and as we can see, being healthy certainly isn’t about what our weight displays on a scale or which size jeans you can wear.

I will say that my healthy balance will always and forever include dessert, that’s for sure.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

If only I could remember the recipe I made up to make these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Be sure to check out what everyone else is eating today!

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What positive/negative effects have you noticed from consuming certain foods? Sweet potatoes the night before a race or long run always make my muscles feel good!

Am I the only one to have Shingles at a young age?

Which squash is your favorite?

 

 

 

 

 

NNM And Little Changes Lead To Big Results

 

Pandora was really kind to me yesterday morning.

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I don’t know how Tiffany landed on a Pitbull station but I will¬†certainly take it. Maybe Debbie Gibson will¬†be next?

30 minutes on the elliptical plus a few minutes dilly dallying with weights for the biceps and I was done. Short workouts like this often leave me feeling fresh and ready for more but that’s just fine and how I like it. Not every day can be a long, strenuous run or challenging workout routine.

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I completely neglected to wish you all a very Happy National Nutrition Month. I was all preoccupied with March 1st and Peanut Butter Lover’s Day that NNM slipped my mind.

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This year’s NNM theme is “Enjoy The Taste Of¬†Eating Right”.

As the Nutrition Committee Representative for my son’s elementary school, I was responsible for putting together a month’s worth of healthy eating and exercise tips to be read¬†during their daily morning announcements¬†as well as designing a bulletin board loaded with tips, facts and pretty nutrition pictures.

I have a question for you though…

Am I overthinking this a bit or is the phrase, “Enjoy The Taste Of Eating¬†Right” bothering you too?

Not really the whole phrase, more the use of the word, “Right”.

I hate using words like right and wrong, good and bad, when it comes to nutrition and how we eat on a daily basis.

Not only is it a poor way to speak about our choices, labeling foods in such a manner makes it seem as though there are things that are completely off-limits which is only a recipe for disaster.

Once something is considered forbidden, we create an endless cycle of craving, indulging and then feeling bad about ourselves as if we did something terrible.

And, who or what determines what is “right”? What I eat might be “right” for me but not “right” for you. Right?

Maybe I am reading more into this than I should. Perhaps this campaign is targeted towards the majority of our society who don’t know from their 5-A-Day because they don’t even get their 5-A-Year.

I just believe that everything should be “right” in moderation rather than going with the thought that loving chocolate cake is completely wrong and only eating a plate that meets¬†pyramid standards is completely “right”.

Fad diets have created an environment in which we are lead to believe that weight loss and the perfect body can happen overnight if we just give up the “wrong” stuff and only eat the “right” stuff.

Wrong. Nothing magical or life-changing can happen overnight.

Recently I completed my Professional Certificate in Nutrition And Sports Performance. One of the first topics covered in detail was this very topic along with the idea that the little changes, the baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle are what we need in order to reach those big, life-long lasting results.

3tiptuesday

Last year I talked about the concept of “Start, Stop, Keep” which involves making small changes to our lifestyle each week¬†that will lead us to the big results.

What is so great about this concept is that you are in complete control. No one is throwing a specific and rigid plan at you to follow. I hate following someone else’s plan.

Each week, you pick one thing you want to START doing, one thing you wish you to STOP doing and one thing you can praise yourself for ALREADY doing towards a healthier lifestyle.

start stop keep

We can all make minor changes and adjustments each week, evaluate our progress and continue to build on our own success.

This week, I will do the following:

Start: Drinking more water. Water has always been my beverage of choice. Lately however, coffee has overtaken my mornings and chewing gum later in the day has prevented me from guzzling as many bottles as I normally do.

Extreme thirst has been setting in following my runs; more water is a must right now.

Stop: Chewing gum. A piece or two of sugarless gum is just fine but for me, once piece leads to two, and then three, and then four and then the pack. Too much gum is not good for my stomach and affects my ability to drink water.

Keep: Fruits And Vegetables. I think we can all agree that I am doing well in the produce department.

In fact, I keep the local produce market in business just as well as I keep Red Mango and Cold Stone Creamery thriving on Long Island.

Everything in moderation, right? Right!

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What can you Start, Stop and Keep this week?

Am I overthinking the word “Right”?

Tiffany or Debbie Gibson? Such a tough call! I may have to go with Debbie since she grew up in my town and I loved her song, Only In My Dreams…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking Out Loud- NEDA, Finding Balance And Amenorrhea

   

Amanda suggested we Think Out Loud today regarding National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA). This year’s NEDAwareness Week theme is “I Had No Idea” to raise awareness towards the significant impact eating disorders have on individuals, families, and communities across the nation.

You¬†see “eating disorder” and immediately think¬†anorexia and bulimia. You automatically think of someone who hasn’t eaten in days or someone who binges on cookies and then purges.

What many don’t realize is that there is gray area¬†to the definitions¬†as well as¬†other forms of¬†disorders.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Yesterday’s workout: 10 minutes on the elliptical followed by 4. 25 miles on the treadmill. I felt great and could have continued but I ran out of time. Don’t feel bad for me, I run out of time just about every morning….on purpose.

I am a true morning person and a lover of starting my day with a run. I could very easily run a bit later than I normally do which would allow me a lot more time and a lot more miles.

On purpose though, I only give myself a MAXIMUM of 50-60 minutes (except for Saturday’s long run, of course). This window keeps me from doing too much. Most days I probably average about 45 minutes.

Monica over at Run Eat Repeat recently shared a link regarding running addiction. Any runner (or frequent exerciser) knows that the endorphin high can be addicting.

It seems as though the benefits of exercise far outweigh the negatives…Endorphins, reduced risk of disease, a method for weight loss and weight management as well as boosting confidence and overall self-esteem…

But at what point does it become too much?

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I don’t have¬†a direct¬†answer for this question, I just know that for me, limiting my running time most days of the week keeps me from finding out.

You like my little plan, don’t you. It’s clever isn’t it? Self-inflicted time constraints. Genius, I know.

If you recall from my post about why I gave up the scale years ago, I dealt with amenorrhea as a direct result of not eating enough for what I was burning off.

It is a slippery slope friends, especially for me. My body is super sensitive. One extra mile and one less calorie and my systems will shut down and go into self-protection mode.

I know I am not the only person who has struggled with this. Many female athletes go without their periods for months, if not years on end. Click here to learn more about the Female Athlete Triad.

You may enjoy not experiencing your monthly visitor, feeling all¬†PMS-and-tampon free…¬†but unfortunately, the torture it brings¬†every 28 days¬†is actually a¬†sign of a healthy body.

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On the outside, you don’t realize the damage you are causing¬†to your insides when you miss a cycle. It didn’t matter what the doctors told me; I heard it, I sort of understood it but I didn’t actually SEE IT.

Not getting your period affects all of your other organs and bodily processes. My blood tests at the time indicated that my liver enzymes were through the roof along with my cholesterol – the bad cholesterol.

Not only was I not a drinker of alcoholic beverages, I certainly wasn’t eating fatty foods to spike my cholesterol levels. My liver enzymes were high because my liver¬†was basically eating itself as a form of fuel. The high cholesterol was being produced by my body to make up for the¬†lack of fat in my diet.

Sounds scary right? The good news is that it was all reversible. Once I ate more to make up for what I was burning off, everything went back to normal and I was able to have a baby when I wanted a few years later.

The funny thing is, and what I am trying to point out here today, is that I never missed a meal back then, I just didn’t eat ENOUGH at each meal.

I also never over-exercised. Avid exerciser yes, over-exerciser, no. In fact, I run much more now than I ever did back then.

I really wish I could offer you the magical meal plan for your pre and post workouts, how many calories to add to your diet to make up for the miles you are running.

Finding the balance of calories in/calories out is a million dollar question. The media blasts us with meal plans and calorie slashing techniques and recipes that promise to make us run faster and farther while allowing us to drop the pounds.

If you want my opinion, take the pressure off and just, well, eat…

 

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…Balanced of course with plenty of complex carbs, nutrient dense foods, loads of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins and healthy fats….but allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite foods and cravings, such as¬†dessert, as I did last night, is mandatory.

I know they say a “minute on the lips forever on the hips” but I don’t buy it.

One brownie sundae will not do you in. But it will make you happy.

There is so much more to say on all of this and I should probably continue to cover it in future posts. I struggled a bit to write this post because there are so many topics (especially fueling your body and workouts) that deserve undivided attention. Please let me know if there is anything specific you want to me to further discuss and I will be happy to do so!

Links of interest:

Running On Empty¬†– A runner’s story of how easy it is to cross line from eating smart to barely eating

Compulsive Exercisers Рsigns and symptoms

Orthorexia Рwhen trying to eat healthy is taken too far

No specific questions today although I am interested in hearing your thoughts…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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