Archive of ‘health & wellness’ category

Confessions of a Marathon Trainer

I feel weird telling people that I’m running a marathon this weekend. It feels like I’m talking about someone else. When I first signed up, I told everyone! I was afraid I would chicken out, so if I knew there were umpteen people keeping me accountable, I felt like I could keep going. But now? I just feel really silly when someone at work asks what I’m doing this weekend. Oh not much, just running a marathon. 

Two months ago, I secretly hoped I would have injured myself by now and, like a martyr, not been able to participate in the marathon. I admit, that was a low moment.

I can’t do math while I run. During my 16-miler, I was on a trail that would count down every half-mile until the end. I saw “2.50″ on the pavement and thought of it like a clock — 1/5 of the mile was over, instead of really 1/2. So half a mile later I saw “2.0″ written on the pavement, I thought it was the fastest mile of my life. But it really was quite an average half-mile for me.

I also can’t spell when I’m running. I once listened to a sermon and they used the word schizophrenia. I literally spent the next ten minutes in my head trying to figure out how to spell it. Is it skitsophrenia? skitsofrenia? (Both wrong.) How do they come up with words like this? How would I type this? And then I start pretending to type the word with my fingers while I run. Which reminds me of my piano lessons and I then I pretend to play the piano with my fingers songs I have memorized. I remember the chorus but forget the beginning. How does this song start again? Oh why am I thinking about spelling, typing and piano playing –JUST KEEP RUNNING! 

I wish I had raised money for this marathon. Why didn’t I? What’s the point in running 26.2 for the fun of it? Maybe there are retroactive fundraisers. Look, I did this. Donate! 

I can’t run any more than what I have mentally prepared for. If I am going out to run 5 miles, then there’s no way you’ll convince me to run just another. Which is why I’ve been practicing finishing each long run with an extra 0.2 to prepare for the race. That tiny 1/5 of a mile is longer than you think!

Running has a way of -ahem- getting things moving, if you know what I mean. I am proud to say I have never gone to the bathroom in the woods, but I admit I have stopped many a time in Walgreens. You runners know what I’m talking about. ;)

Drivers are very nice to runners. Almost too nice. I personally look forward to traffic lights because it means a forced break. A chance to take a swig of my water and relax for a moment or two. But these drivers must see my running belt and exhausted face and think, Oh, she’s a serious runner, and will give me a little wave like You go first! And I’m all like, No, seriously, you go first. And they politely insist No you go! with another wave and since it’s me against a person operating a heavy machine, I reluctantly pick my feet up and continue running.

There’s one thing I for sure am going to miss: The Calories. When you get home from running two and a half hours straight, you can pretty much eat whatever you want.

Showers are the greatest things after a run, especially a long run when you have crystalized sweat on your forehead. Has anyone else experienced that? It sounds gross, but that’s just what happens when you run for over an hour in the cold. It feels so weird and wonderful to wash it off.

Once after a really, really good run, I was so elated I fist-pumped the air and high-fived myself. I didn’t really think about it, until I realized I was near a busy intersection and a dozen cars probably saw me. Haha oh well! Maybe I’ll do that when I finish on Saturday, if I survive.

Ok, I know I sound a little jaded in this post, but I’m so scared and nervous and excited and ready, but not ready! I am taking a four-day weekend, so I’ll catch you on the flip-side!


Week 1 on the Fodmaps Elimination Diet

Alright, let me just step down off my soapbox from yesterday’s post and talk to you guys about someting a little less… raw. Like DIETS! It’s been a week since the new year started — who’s off their diet by now? ;)

I started the Fodmaps diet last Wednesday, and so far, so good. Quick refresher: I have been dealing with cronic stomach aches for the past couple of years, so I saw a nutritionist and she recommended the Fodmaps diet. Basically it’s a gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, high-fructose-free diet.

Here’s what a typical day looks like for the past week:

- Coffee with unsweetened almond milk and a little bit of sugar. It’s basically black coffee with a teeny tiny bit of flavor.
- Oatmeal with 3/4 cup of oats, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a pinch of sugar

Morning Snack:
- 1 Clementine. It’s hard to limit myself to just one.

- 2 Rice cakes with organic peanut butter
- Cucumbers
- Gluten free crackers with 1oz Colby jack cheese

Afternoon Snack:
- 1 tablespoon of Nestle dark chocolate chips. Okay sometimes 2 tablespoons….
- Few tablespoons of raw almonds

- Baked potato with 1 tablespoon of sour cream, a little butter, and salt
- Grilled chicken breast with seasoning
- Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. I miss my feta and goat cheese. :(

- Flourless cake that was leftover from NYE; it’s all gone now. :)
- Pickles. Yes, pickles for dessert. Yum!

I thought it would be super hard, but it’s basically just eating clean with zero processed foods. And so far I have felt better! I have had a couple of stomach aches in the past week. One happened the first night, so I don’t know what that was about, and the second time happened after I ate a salad at Moe’s. There must have been something hidden in the salad dressing I ordered. (Probably soy — it’s hidden in everything I tell you!) But otherwise, I’ve felt great and my symptoms have decreased significantly, which is really encouraging. I have also been sleeping better, which I’ve always struggled with, so I am hoping that’s an added benefit of the diet too. I still want to go to sleep at 9:30 every night, so I don’t have the energy everyone talks about when you go gluten-free, but maybe that still come with time.

The next steps is to visit my nutritionist again and create a plan to slowly add in more fopmaps to my diet to try and determine which category gives me the worst symptoms. I hope it will be easy to pin-point, but we shall see. :) I’ll be sure to share more as I learn!

Have you ever done the Paleo or Fodmaps diet?
How was your experience?
Did you ever get increased energy, and how long did it take for you to feel that way?
If you’re on any other diets, which ones are you on and how are they going? 


Take Advantage of January

I’m sorry for all you January-lovers out there, but this month has a lot of things going against it: the cold, the dark, the end of all things merry and bright. It’s the month where everyone kick-starts their resolutions and goals for the year, so it’s kosher to do not-fun things like eating healthy, hitting the gym and saving money.

Well, I say take advantage of January and embrace all that it offers. Eat healthy. Hit the gym. Save as much money as you can.

One of the hardest parts of sticking to a strict budget are the social pressures. Every day there are people and things tempting my wallet — to eat out, travel, look nice, make my house prettier, keep up with the Jones’, etc. If you are trying to save money this year, start today. It’s the easiest month to stick to be a budget, because, well, everyone else is doing it. People don’t think you’re silly when you say something like, Sorry we can’t go to that fancy restaurant because we’re trying to save money this month, because they’re most likely trying to do that as well.

Or maybe it’s not people that tempt you, but things, ideas – Pinterest – that makes you want to spend money. I love that little site to death, but have noticed it can bring a sense of discontentment when I see others’ homes or fashion that I’m not up to par with. If you find that Pinterest or reading certain sites or blogs tend to make you feel inferior, stop reading! Give yourself a month away from inspiration and you’ll most likely have a refreshed and focused appetite when you come back to it.

January is a rough month, but it can serve as the diving board into the pool of productivity, healthy and wealth for 2013. So embrace it!

Some ideas may include…
- Dining out just once a week
- Stop buying any clothes until March
- Don’t buy any decorations for your home this month
- Quit buying books and only borrow books from the library
- Take $10, $20, $30 off your weekly grocery budget and see how far you can stretch those dollars.
- Go on a Pinterest or Facebook-fast, and only focus on the things
- Limiting the amount of processed foods you eat
- Hitting the gym 3 times a week
- Planning your day the evening before
- Getting up early

I’m taking advantage of January by not buying any decorations, limiting my Pinterest time, only borrowing books from the library, eating only foods on my fodmaps diet, and examining our grocery budget to see how far I can stretch the dollars.

What about you? How do you plan to take advantage of this month? 

PS – How to create a budget, how to get out of debt, why you need an emergency fund, the biggest spending temptations


Meltdowns and Mind Games in Marathon Training

I haven’t talked about it in a while on this blog, but if you stalk me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that I am in the middle of training for a marathon. And y’all? It’s by far the hardest thing I have ever willingly put myself through.

Saturday was The Day I Had to Run 18 Miles. The sheer weight of that fact gave me weak knees long before I started running. I ran 16 miles the week prior, but it was with my friend Allison who was also training and the thought of running 2 miles longer and alone… well, I honestly didn’t think I would be able to do it.

I woke up early on Saturday to fuel up properly. I suited up in my ugly running gear — shorts over leggings, duo dry shirt and jacket, and a water belt that may me look like I was trying too hard.

And the next thing I know I was weeping on the floor of my living room.

I’m not sure specifically what triggered it — perhaps it was leaving J and Leia cozied up on the couch watching a holiday movie. Maybe it was the fact that I announced I would be home by 11 or 12 at the latest — and it was still 7:30. Or maybe it was the fact that I only ran once during the week and it was a measly old 2 miler. Or maybe it was because my knee was already hurting me before I had even started. Pretty sure it was a combination of them all.

I can’t do this! 18 miles — EIGHTEEN MILES!?
I just can’t do this! I’m so tired of training.
Why did I sign up for this?
Why am I willingly putting myself through this torture?
I haven’t even lost weight!
Over three hours of running — I don’t want to do it!
I just can’t do it….

And because God put the perfect man in my life — somehow He spoke through J to give me the wisdom and encouragement I needed. I could do this. He was proud of me. I could take as long as I needed, even if I had to walk most of it. I did 16 last week, so I can do 18. The next run longer than this will be with my friends, so this is the last super long one alone. Take one step at a time. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.

I wiped my tears away, apologized for messing up his T-shirt, bid my family farewell, and drove towards the American Tobacco Trail taking deep breaths and focusing on his pep talk.

Now, anyone who has run for any amount of time may know that your mind does really weird things when you run. Your body certainly needs to work up to long distances, but it’s your mind that actually allows you finish.

In all of my long runs, the first 3 miles are the hardest. It’s cold and the thought that you have so many more ahead of you is daunting. You just can’t think about it or else you’ll go crazy. Usually when I reach mile 4, it starts to get a little easier. Then I realize I’m at mile 5, then mile 6, and then, hey mile 7, how’d I get here so fast?

My favorite part of running is the camaraderie with other runners. They start to populate the trails mid-morning. Other people have exaggerated gear on, and we both know we’re doing some gosh-awful distance that morning too. And for a split-second we bond. We have an understanding. They’ll tip their head, give me a little wave, and we weakly smile at each other in an instant that says, Good job — keep going! You can do this. One time there was a sweet old man that I passed twice who actually took off his hat and gave me a little bow. The mile following was the fastest of them all.

When you get passed the double digits, your body starts to catch up and your leg muscles get really tired. Stopping at red light to cross feels like a sweet gift from heaven — but then it’s torture to pick your feet back up and move again when it turns green. I remember at mile 12 I thought, Just 6 more miles! Just one more hour and you’re done! And then thinking,  How cool (or depressing?) is it that I consider one more hour as not a long time? How far I have come from the first day when 2 miles felt arduous! 

After some trial and error, I’ve come to realize I can’t listen to music too early or else I get burned out. In fact, on Saturday I listened to four sermons before I blasted my tunes. (In case you’re wondering, I subscribe to The Village Church, Summit Church and Redeemer Church podcasts.) It isn’t until the last 30-40 minutes that I invite Kayne and Beyonce to join me.

I could write a detailed paragraph about every inch of the way, but will spare you the boring details. Let’s just say, I finally finished. Thank goodness the last two miles were in a bad neighborhood because it kept me moving.

When I finished, the exhaustion won over the endorphins. But still, as I limped to my car, I was amazed to think that 3 hours and 20 minutes ago I didn’t think I could do it, and BOOM, it was done. Nevermind that somehow I’ll have to manage to run 8 more for The Real Thing in January (let’s not dwell on that now, okay?), but for the time being it was the greatest accomplishment I had ever done. And looking back now I wonder who that girl is that ran 18 miles — it certainly wasn’t me! Because running more than 5 miles is just crazytown.

Have you ever trained for something you didn’t think you can do?
Have you ever trained for a half or full marathon?
What is your favorite or least favorite part of training? 

Why I Decided to See a Nutritionist

Digestive problems are uncomfortable to talk about. If you suffer from headaches or have a low immune system, you have full reign to complain and share all you want, because most people are fine hearing about pounding headaches or terrible sore throats. But digestive problems? The symptoms of an upset stomach are not so pleasant to speak about. Just google it if you’re curious what I’m referring to. ;)

Well, I started having a few digestive problems a couple of years ago. My symptoms have never required any major medical attention, but it’s been a general discomfort that would come and go randomly after I ate. I noticed my stomach hurt more when I would travel or my routine was off, but otherwise my symptoms were inconsistent. So I just figured I had a sensitive stomach and would pop the Pepto Bismal pills when needed.

I once told my primary doctor about the issue and she told me she could prescribe me some medicine to help. I declined, since over-the-counter stuff was working fine, but was frustrated that there wasn’t a resolve to the issue, just a suggestion to mask the symptoms. I then thought about going to see a nutritionist, but hesitated because I thought they a) cost a lot of money, b) would tell me to take a ton of supplements and not really fix the problem or c) worse, would immediately diagnose me with a food allergy that would cramp into my “c’est la vie” lifestyle of eating.

When I got my new job, I noticed my health insurance included up to 6 visits a year with a nutritionist at the cost of a normal in-network copay. So I thought, Well why not? Maybe they can help me feel a little bit better and I can lose a little weight in the process? 

My first visit was a pretty standard — she asked me all of my symptoms, what I eat on a regular basis, if I feel any of the symptoms after certain foods, etc. We talked about sleeping, exercising, stress, and everything in between. After describing my inconsistent symptoms to her, she gave me a few suggestions and homework to do until we saw each other next.

I loved it and am so happy that I decided to start seeing a nutritionist.

My nutritionist is, first of all, really nice. That’s pretty important when things get a little personal and you share how many times you go to the bathroom in a day. Second of all, I don’t feel like I’m being sold a lot of things. I thought they would try to sell me supplements right on the spot, but she gave me a list of things I can shop for on Amazon or elsewhere to get a better deal. And finally, I really feel like I am listened to and she is tailoring everything for me. It is so nice to share what I am feeling and hear her say, “That’s not normal, we can try some things to make you feel better.” Anyone who’s been sick — that’s all you’re looking for your doctor to say.

I will share a little more in another post what she came back with to help remedy the problem, but for today I just wanted to share my journey finding a nutritionist.

Has anyone been to a nutritionist before? Do you find them helpful? Do you have any food sensitivities or aversions? 

PS – If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area and want a reference to my nutritionist, feel free to send me an email.

Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

I have self-diagnosed myself with seasonal affective disorder. A very mild case of it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I get depressed, but the season certainly affects me.

I get a little sad every day at 4:30 pm watching the sunset in my office, no matter how beautiful it may be. Traffic is unnaturally heavy for everyone to be driving in the dark. Running errands seem strange in the dark and I feel rushed, like I need to get home soon. I tend to fall asleep on the couch at 9 pm because, why not? It’s been dark for five hours.

Do you ever feel that way?

I think if most of us are honest, we all have a little big of seasonal affective disorder in us. (Except maybe a select few like my dad and friend Catherine, whose favorite season is the dead of winter.) But for the rest of us, the sun gives us energy and life and feel its affects when we don’t see it as much. Where you live also makes a big difference. I’m used to a sunny North Carolina climate, and I can’t imagine living in the Northwest Pacific where it is rainy and cloudy 8 months of the year. I know this disorder would be amplified in an environment like that.

Some suggestions for getting out of the darkness funk include going outside in the middle of the day, even if it’s cloudy. You could also try light treatment, where you sit in front of a UV lamp for a few hours a day. Exercise always produces endorphins, so find ways to get moving when you can. If you really need help, there is always medication you can take.

But for me, despite my natural tendency to get sad with the circumstance of the season, I can honestly say I don’t mind this time of year… and that’s because of the holidays. Thank goodness for the holidays. November and December are the darkest months, and without the distraction of Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, this time of year would be so much harder to bear. But instead we have the delightful anticipation of a season filled with family and coziness. Giving and giving thanks. Togetherness and reflection over the past year. The holidays are the bright hope in the darkest time of the year, and for that I am so, so thankful.

Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder this time of year? Do you have any ways to remedy or treat the symptoms?

PS – I was reminded of the movie Darkness Falls when I wrote this post. Has anyone seen that movie? If you haven’t, don’t. It’s an awful movie about a scary tooth fairy. I advise against seeing it… :)

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