A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Struggling a bit . . .

You ever have those days when something is off that you can’t put your finger on? I’ve been having a lot of those. It’s like I’m anxious about something but I can’t figure out what it might be, so I can’t fix it. Not only does this mean I feel off in general, but I’m struggling with a lot binge-y feelings (and some resulting bad choices) and more lupus-y symptoms than normal.

If I knew what was wrong, I feel like I could take proactive steps to help with this feeling. Work is no more stressful than usual and my training is going okay. Long run days are actually the days I feel this anxiety the least. Our busy home life is in balance as much as it ever is and the adjustment to kindergarten has gone relatively smoothly. I feel some distress about the fact that I’ve regained so much weight and haven’t made any headway in reversing that, but it isn’t like I’m dwelling on it. I’m not sure what this is – just an odd season in life I suppose.

Without a concrete thing that’s “wrong” I’m feeling a little at sea in “fixing” this. While I’m feeling the urge to binge and have definitely made some bad food choices as a result, I’ve had nothing that tipped into full scale binge territory like it would have in the past. I need to give myself credit for how far I’ve come because that is a huge victory.

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been keeping the house stocked with fruit and other “safe” foods for when those evening munchies hit. I should remedy that. I’ve also be re-reading some of my old strategies for managing stress eating and night time, since that seems to be my biggest trouble time right now. Tea instead of snacks and going to bed early both sound like lovely ways to distract myself from the nighttime munchies and to hopefully soothe a little of this anxiety.

I’m also working on building up my bank of happy thoughts as a distraction. This afternoon, I volunteered at O’s school walk a thon and had a blast spraying kids with colored powder (and got messier than the kids!).

Messy but fun!My blue hair does not come through in this photo. 🙂

I think the most important thing, for me at least, in keeping from heading into binge territory again, is being honest about struggling. Honest with myself, honest with Darrell and honest here. It’ll be okay. I’ve handled worse than this and I can (and will) get professional help if I need it.

How do you handle those periods when things just feel off?

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Recovery and Resetting

I took this week off from running to recover from the hilly Papillion Half Marathon. My legs stayed sore for a couple of days after that race, so they needed a break. I had an active week overall, though, thanks to a visit from my parents and lots of home improvement projects.

Workouts

Monday Rest

Tuesday A lovely hilly walk with O while we were home together for the morning. He had testing for early entry into kindergarten (his birthday is two weeks past the cut off, so it isn’t actually that early but he still has to take the test). I was anxious but he was cool as a cucumber about the whole thing. I enjoyed our walk – it helped settle my nerves. He asked me what manhole covers were and I told him they allowed access to the sewers and drainage under the street. I asked him what sewers were for. His answer? “Ninjas.”
Ready for anything

Wednesday, Thursday & Friday Home improvement central, which meant tons of trips up and down the stairs, lots of lifting and hammering and LOTS of squatting. I was sore but I now have a new mantle for the fireplace in my basement (previously an unfinished box), electrical outlets in the storage section of my basement, garage shelves and a workbench, a new media center and lots of other little things done. I am so grateful this week for their help!
Good deed

My good deed this week was wearing O’s new Captain America watch to work all day on Friday to break it in a bit because he said it was “tight and stabby.” I did get lots of interesting comments on it through my meetings all day. 🙂

Saturday I went for a walk to the grocery store early in the morning and spent the rest of day running around for tee ball, pre-K graduation (where is time going?!) and enjoying my parents last day in town.

Sunday We went for a family walk in the evening hitting up our local ice cream place (which has a dairy free option!) because Oliver told us it was important to get more exercise. Good idea kid.

All in all, a very active week with an average of 10,000 steps a day and 10 flights of stairs every day. This morning, I threw out the cookies we’d had in the house all week/weekend during my parents visit. Apparently, cookies are not something I can handle having around in any quantity. I found myself eating more and more of them, only without witnesses naturally and in that rapid inhaling of a binge eater. Sigh. I normally don’t have trouble with desserts in the house but apparently something about cookies is bad news. Lesson learned and at least today I finally threw them out rather than convincing myself I should just eat them all to finish them. NSV?
Removing temptation

This week is all about resetting my healthy eating after yet another cookie-apocalypse and getting started with my off season training plan of running, strength training and planning for my hike. After a week off running, I’m ready to get going again! I have a 5 mile hilly race over Memorial Day weekend so I definitely want to get a least a few miles in to remind my legs that they know how to do this before race day, even if this is just a fun family run.

Are you handy? Do you handle your own home improvements or hire those chores out? We aren’t particularly handy ourselves, so I’m very grateful that my parents are!

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Feeding things other than hunger

Yesterday, I finished up my part of a big project at work. The last push required a lot more mental effort than I was expecting (those things left until the last minute always do!) so I was wiped out by the end of the day. I had the Cooking Light slow cooker ramen already going in the slow cooker, but even the steps to finish that seemed like more work that I was capable of that evening. I was simultaneously mentally wired and exhausted from working all day. I wanted dinner out that I wasn’t responsible for and I REALLY wanted a glass of red wine.

I called Darrell and he was on board with that plan. Then I went to fetch my kiddo and was reminded that it was pajama day at school. There aren’t a whole lot of places I could think of with a glass of red wine and a dress code that allowed a four year old in the Perry the Platypus pajamas. Sadness. Village Inn it was. At least it was Kids Eat Free night and I got refills on my Diet Coke and I wasn’t cooking dinner.
Village inn

The problem is, those weren’t really the things I was craving. I was craving that glass of red wine and in trying to fill that “want” I ordered a tuna melt, which I had the calories for in my daily allowance and was enough outside my normal eating style that I thought it would fit that “special” feeling I was craving. It didn’t. It wasn’t what I really wanted. It just left me reflux-y because I’m apparently too old to eat raw onions at dinner.

We went home and did our usual evening routine. I was still feeling unsatisfied and we were out of wine, so I got myself a big bowl of fruit. I love a big bowl of fruit and it would feel good enough to fill that empty space, right? Nope.

Fruit

I also ate a chocolate I didn’t need and yogurt that didn’t fill the spot until Darrell went out and bought a bottle of red wine. I had a glass of wine and finally, felt settled. I talk about this, not because I’m an alcoholic (although I can see where you might have that concern) but because sometimes in our attempts to avoid the ONE thing we’re craving, we end up eating a ton of food we don’t really want or need. If you’ve got an urge for something that isn’t going away, maybe a small amount of that thing is better than all of the OTHER things you’re trying to have instead.

It’s a slippery slope, of course, especially for those of us who binge, but I’m working on learning to trust that urge and that I can stop with a small amount if I let myself honor that urge.

How do you differentiate between a craving you should honor and one you just let slide? For me, when I find myself in this position where I’m eating lots of other things and can’t distract myself from the craving, I’m actually at risk of binging on other things (I won’t lie – me and that fruit bowl got to that mindless, shoveling it in state). I need to figure out how to honor the occasional craving. This is a never-ending learning process.

PS – My kid drew the Martian Manhunter as his Folk Hero at Village Inn and this geek mom is pretty proud!

Martian manhunter

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A slightly scary moment and thinking back on what used to be. . .

Last night, I had a slightly scary moment while out with a co-worker in the French Quarter. (Everyone is safe so don’t worry!) We’d wandered around the French Quarter as a group for about 30 minutes before going to eat dinner at a restaurant called St Lawrence, which is a small but tasty little place. We were seated at a tall table and had dinner and a drink. I had a strawberry Abita, but my friend had a mixed drink that was pretty strong. When we got up to leave (a group of 11 of us), I noticed my friend stumble and actually fall to the ground when we got outside the restaurant. I’m glad I noticed what was happening as I was able to brace her a bit to keep her from truly falling! Instead, I sort of helped guide her against the window and to the ground. She didn’t pass out but was definitely disoriented for about 45 seconds and it took a few minutes before any of us felt like she should try to get up. I think it was just a mixture of not enough water, a potent drink and sitting at a tall table where her legs were in a weird position, screwing up blood flow a bit. She was able to get up and walk, slowly, after a while and seems fine today, so there’s no lasting damage done.
Bourbon street

Aside from being worried about my friend, this had me thinking back to a fear I had back when I was overweight. I was always so worried I’d fall and hurt myself (a real risk given the klutz I am) or that I’d pass out or something and no one would be able to pick me up. I know, in any of those situations, that embarrassment would be the last thing I SHOULD be worried about and yet it would consume a part of my brain any time I did anything with the remote-ist possibility of that happening. It kept me from going out with other people and kept me from trying things where I might get hurt. The enormity of that fear of humiliation if I fell on someone or if no one could lift me or move me was almost smothering. I would seriously pray that I’d be unconscious if that ever happened so I wouldn’t have to be aware of the embarrassment.

My friend is a larger person. I don’t know if that fear was anywhere in her mind before or after this episode, but it definitely triggered those memories and those fears for me. I called my husband as soon as I left the group to tell him about this, both because he knows and likes this co-worker and because I needed someone to distract me from the urge to binge that was brought on by this old, recalled fear. It’s amazing how some things stick in your mind. Even now, when I logically know that I’m liftable (albeit heavier than I look), I still have that fear of “what if someone had to pick me up.”

Do you have irrational fears that just stick with you? Send good thoughts and prayers for my friend. While she seems fine today, I’m still worried about her.

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Making the next good choice . . .

You know the world sometimes likes to laugh at you? Like when you write a blog post about how your diet is generally pretty good and here’s my food diary if you want to see it and blah blah like I did yesterday? And then you proceed to have a day of DEFINITELY not optimal food choices. The universe likes to laugh at us. Or me at least. I’m good with that. 😉

I’m in Memphis for work this week. My flight from Omaha yesterday was at 5:13 am, which means I left my house at 3:30 am and woke up even earlier than that. Of course, because I was worried I’d oversleep and miss my flight, I slept horribly. I headed into the world of travel and temptation on a few hours of fractured sleep and hoped for the best. In the old days, I’d use that as an excuse to eat thousands upon thousands of calories. I’d get a frou frou coffee drink before the first flight because I’d earned it by getting up early, and a pastry of course. I’d get breakfast again between the two flights in Chicago because I was tired and needed the energy and hey, expense report! I’d buy candy bars and other snacks for the plane and end up eating a couple of days of calories all before noon.

Do you ever have the experience that you feel like you’ve seen your old self? I had that experience as I walked past some generic restaurant in O’Hare yesterday and realized that a few years ago, I’d be sitting in there in the midst of the food I described above. It’s good to be reminded how far we’ve come.

I didn’t go the food fest route entirely. Yes, I had a cookie on my first flight, but then I restocked with healthy snacks so I was better prepared for the rest of my flight. I know being sleepy makes me hungry, so having good choices to feed that hunger is definitely the better. I thought I was doing okay.

Then I got to Memphis, exhausted and with no hotel room yet because it was too early. That meant who knew if I’d be able to get to my workout gear to do my 8 mile run that afternoon like I’d planned and thus, I made the mistake of asking the lovely lady at the check in desk what she’d recommend for lunch. She suggested a place with the charming name of the Blues City Cafe and the fried catfish. I traipsed off to that cafe and proceeded to get gumbo (yummy but not as spicy as they proclaimed), fried catfish and fries. Don’t get me wrong – it was good, but emotionally I regretted it halfway through eating (yes I kept eating after the bad feeling started), with tinges of that binge-colored shame. Gastrointestinally, I seriously regretted it for the rest of the day.
Blues city cafe
How could I have handled this better? I would have been perfectly satisfied with the indulgence of the little cup of gumbo and then made a healthier choice thereafter. Making good choices doesn’t mean that you have to say NO to everything – just make the things you indulge on worth it.

I’ll confess that at this point I was tempted to toss the whole healthy eating thing out the window and just spend the weekend in Memphis indulging (this was before my stomach tried to kill me – ugh!). I was already worried about how I was going to stick to my plan to avoid night shade plants since almost everything here has some kind of paprika or peppers in it. Might as well just not worry about it and start over on Monday? We always love Monday.

You don’t have to wait until Monday. You don’t have to wait until the right moment or the easier moment because frankly, it may never come. Pick the NEXT moment and make the best choice you can when it gets there. For me, that meant taking a nap for an hour and a half when my room was ready, because my fatigue was feeding my bad choices. I woke up and hit the treadmill for my run. It was lovely weather, but I was still tired and it is so important that you’re alert and paying attention when you run alone in a new city. I couldn’t pay enough attention to be safe outside in Memphis, so treadmill it was. I set up Captain America: The Winter Soldier and took it a quarter mile at a time until I was done with all 8 miles (around 13:30 pace). So glad I had Cap and the people watching down below me to keep me entertained!
View of the Gibson factory

That nap and that run were definitely the next best choices. Not only did the run get me out of my calorie hole (a minor perk, but a perk), it set my brain back on a path to make the best choices I can for the rest of the trip. Best choices will be relative, because I have to contend with conference food and lots of sitting, but now I feel like I can do it.

You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to let a bad choice or even a string of bad choices derail you completely. You don’t have to wait until Monday or any other magical time to stop, pick yourself up and do better. Any time is the right time. It doesn’t have to be a perfect choice, just make the next best choice.

 

 

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Book Club: It was me all along

This month’s selection for Wendy’s Taking the Long Way Home Book Club isn’t really a running book at all, but is definitely something I was interested in: It was me all along: A memoir by Andie Mitchell. Thanks as always to Wendy for hosting! Be sure to check out her link up for more thoughts on the book from others.

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Andie Mitchell is a food blogger who wrote this memoir last year about her struggles with weight and with her body image even after her weight loss was “finished.” I will confess that this book was painful for me to read, both because she was clearly in a lot of pain during the times she describes and because I could identify so strongly with her descriptions of what it was like to be overweight, as they so strongly echoed my own experience. I will be honest, it was hard to relive those feelings, so be warned about that before going into this book.

Andie was overweight and made aware of being so from a very early age. If you haven’t experienced that, it can be hard to describe how much that imprints on your brain and how that can lead to binge eating. The descriptions of binge eating were almost unbearable to read because they were so true, for me at least. The wanting to be normal, but not being able to, somehow feeds that whole cycle of binge eating. “It was this dichotomy that killed me. The wanting to be different in order to be perceived as better, yet wishing I didn’t have to try so hard.

I wished I could find some hideaway, somewhere I could be as reclusive as I pleased and just eat. And eat. And cry. And eat. And cry.” THIS. My life. Pretty much every day for years.

She describes being in classes and being unable to “bring myself to raise my hand, fearing the attention it would draw,” which was very much my experience in college when I tipped the scale from chubby kid to obese young adult. I definitely had the same reaction to running late to class, in which ““…if I found myself running late to the lecture hall, even by just five minutes, I was compelled to skip the class altogether, knowing that few things were as anxiety inducing as trying to squeeze through tight rows of fellow students to find the lone open seat.” It seems unreal or an exaggeration, but I can promise you that those things were true for me as well.

The temptation to resign yourself to being the fat girl is so real and so painful. Looking back, it seems like it was easier before I started caring about fixing this problem but I know logically it was a different kind of hard. Like me, Andie did find a way to handle the binge eating and lose weight, but she found herself swinging too far to the other side of the eating disorder spectrum in an effort to stay in control, after being out of control for so long. The swing to the other direction, of obsessive control and fear of food, is a very real possibility and something I’ve veered a bit into myself in the first year I was at my goal weight. I’m still trying to find that happy medium. It can be very easy to trade one eating disorder for another, as Andy did.

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The closing thoughts on the things she’ll miss were things I could have written, if I’m being honest. There are definitely still times I miss eating with abandon. I miss the days when my first response to a change in my food plan wasn’t fear, as it still can be (although that’s getting better). I miss that delicious, over the top food, even though I know it would cause me such a stomach ache I’d think I was dying now. I miss not having to think about all of this.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever re-read this. I lived too much of it myself and reading it was hard. However, I’m glad stories like this are out there so that you can know you aren’t alone. There are people out there who get what you’re going through, as you move from overweight to weight loss to whatever this “after” period is supposed to look like. It’s always a good thing to have stories out there to show us we aren’t alone in the human experience. I hope that Andie has continued to find her way with a peaceful relationship with herself and with food.

Do you find it hard to read stories that are too close to your own?

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Thoughts on binge eating . . .

Today, I’ve got binge eating on the mind. The last few days I’ve definitely been feeling the urge and while I’ve been able to pull myself back from tipping over the edge, it is a reminder that this urge may never go away. Katie over at RunsforCookies has been doing a great series on binge eating (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3a, Part 3b, Part 4) that I’d definitely recommend you check out for another perspective on all of this. I particularly like the first post, which goes into the difference between binge eating disorder and the kind of overeating that people sometime refer to as a “binge.” There is no “one best” way to deal with binge eating, but I think it is important to talk about our experiences because the more we get our disordered eating out in the open, the easier it may be for someone else to reach out for the help they need.

A big thing for me, and mentioned by Katie as well, is knowing what your triggers are, whether they are emotional or food. For Katie, food didn’t seem to be much of a trigger but it definitely can be for me and I’ve been pondering why that might be different. I think for me, there are certain foods that I’ve binged on in the past, like bread and Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk. Because I still have that sense of shame tied to those foods from the binge episodes, even a taste of them takes me right back to that disgusted, hiding in the closet, why can’t I stop this, I know I should stop this, I feel sick place. Because those tastes are tied to those memories, just a whiff takes me to a bad emotional place. Thankfully, I only really have that bread experience with good bread (especially toast or a bread basket in a restaurant), so I can control it by only keeping the light bread around in the house. That stuff isn’t good enough to bring up those old memories.

My other big trigger, and the thing that has me close to the edge now, is the whole overachiever, impostor syndrome thing. This has been my problem since I was in junior high. I’m smart and have always been academically successful. The pressure to achieve more and more and more, coupled with a terror of failure because so  much of my self image was tied to that achievement, drove me to hide under the stairs or in the bathroom with a loaf of white bread more times that I care to admit. Last week, I got offered an unexpected opportunity at my job that is undoubtedly good for my career, should I be successful. It would put me on a whole new playing field. Yes, it is adding 20% FTE without giving anything up in my schedule, but I can make it work if I work hard and this opportunity may not come again. The pressure and the sense from everyone I work with that “of course Jessica is the best person for this” and “of course you can do this” is making me feel like I’m holding on by my fingernails. It should be flattering, I know, but the smart kid in me wants to run and hide with my squishy loaf of bread.

Because I know this is my big trigger, I’ve been able to be a little proactive about managing it and I think I’ll be fine binge wise. I’m talking to Darrell a lot. I haven’t said yes to the opportunity yet to give my introverted, want to think it through brain time to adjust. I’ve started looking harshly at my day to figure out where I can find the time to keep this all moving without affecting my family life.

I’ve also loosened up on my food a bit. I know this might seem counter intuitive, but when I’m feeling binge-y (is that a word?) restricting myself, even without the fairly liberal confines of Weight Watchers, can backfire. I’m making good choices for the most part, but trying to honor the little wants so that I can stay out of the dark, safe, food filled space that is my pantry.  I’ve also stocked up on my healthy favorites because if I can’t resist the urge to stuff myself until I feel sick, at least it should be on something healthy like fruits and veggies. I’ve definitely caught myself more than once getting into that can’t stop stuffing it in cycle with fruits and veggies just like I used to with unhealthier things. It is the lesser of two evils, but even that I try to head off when I can.
Grapes
Today, I’m feeling a little more even keeled. I’ve made a decision to take on the new work responsibility and am making a plan to make it work. I’m re-evaluating everything else on my plate to see what I enjoy, what is good for me, what is good for my family and what is good for my contribution to the world and making plans to get rid of the things that don’t fit that mold. I’m also working through some strategies to make the most of my time, especially at work, so I can fit this new stuff in within going nuts. Just having made the decision and moving forward with the doing really helps with the binge urge. I could fail, of course, and that terrifies me, but I know the people around me are right. I am the best person for this and I can do it. I just need to quiet that impostor voice with something other than food and red wine. 🙂
Because this is a picture light post, I have to share my little tragedy that started my world today:
 Much sadness!
I broke my Epcot “You are here” Starbucks mug. 😦 I got all four parks on our last vacation and now my set is disrupted. Instead of being sad that my Epcot mug is broken, I’m going to look at this as a sign that I should run the marathon so I can go pick up a new mug next January in Walt Disney World. Good logic right?
Do you feel a sense of relief when you’ve made a decision and move forward? Or does it make it worse once you’ve actually committed to change?

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Red flags . . .

In my goals for the month, I mentioned taking a little more time to myself because I’d noticed some red flags creeping up. In the week since I got back from Portland, I’ve already lost track of that “be nice to me” mojo and boy can I tell. Last night, not only did I eat my own free pie at Village Inn (a rarity as taking a bite of O’s usually suffices to fill my pie craving), I ate a third of O’s pie that he left behind. That in itself might just be a poor decision, but what is concerning is that it wasn’t actually a decision. I just did it mindlessly and then when I got home, I didn’t want to own it in my tracking. I actually didn’t track that piece of pie until this morning because once I was faced with writing it down, I didn’t want to look at it. That’s a problem.

It was hard to own that negative.

It was hard to own that negative.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned in the last few years is how to recognize my own red flags – those early warning signs that tell me I’m entering dangerous territory. If I go too long without dealing with whatever is stressing me out, I’ll end up bingeing and now thanks to the wonders of lupus, I’ll also end up an achy, swollen, rashy mess. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Red flags I’ve noticed in the last week:

– Not wanting to track that piece of pie and throwing away the wrappers from the two granola bars I ate on the way home Tuesday night in the garage garbage cans rather than inside the house where someone might see them. Hiding food, even from myself, is a definite early warning sign of impending binges for me.

– I’m having trouble focusing on anything because there’s so much EVERYTHING right now.

– My hands, wrists and feet are aching like they did when the lupus symptoms started this summer.

– I’m exhausted but having trouble shutting down to sleep.

– Several times this week I’ve thought I was coming down with a stomach bug because I felt so queasy in the evening. And a small part of my brain was relieved because if I’m busy being sick, I can’t be responsible for anything else.

Clearly, I’ve got to take a break. This is not setting me up to make good decisions at the holiday parties I have tonight and tomorrow – both social networking and buffet appetizer set ups that always cause me problems on even the best days because of the food choices and my introverted stress. Eating my feelings just feels so good in the moment, unfortunately. The way I feel now, I’m likely to dive head first into the inevitable spinach artichoke dip that’s going to be up there.

Why is this happening? There’s a big rush to get lots of meetings and work done before everyone scatters for the holidays. I have been sick so I haven’t taken the time to get a really good workout done in weeks (although I have been doing at least a little something every day). Today I have an exam to recertify in a part of my job I don’t even practice anymore, but for some reason feel like I need to keep certification in? For pride? I’m really regretting this decision to keep this certification, but confess I’ll be mortified if I can’t pass this!

I am at least wearing my lucky earrings for my exam.

I am at least wearing my lucky earrings for my exam.

I need to take a day off just for me.

This giant stack of books I haven't had time to read makes me so sad.

This giant stack of books I haven’t had time to read makes me so sad.

I need to take some time to figure out a better way to manage the stress related to my job. It’s only going to escalate because that’s the nature of career advancement. I love my work and it is important, but I need to feel like I’m a little more in control of it all than I have felt lately.

I need to make workouts a priority again because that really helps my mental monkeys. I haven’t been on a training plan or running a lot in a month and I really think that’s a huge part of why I feel so on edge lately.

I need to give myself credit for the things I’m doing well. I recognized these red flags and am making a plan to deal with it. I’m writing out these thoughts here (so helpful for me! Thanks for listening guys!) and adding the things I know will help, like workouts and breathing exercises, to my to do list along with all of the other “must dos.” I’ve actually added breathing exercises as an alarm on my phone twice a day.

I’ll be okay because I can see this coming and am not hiding it from myself anymore. Do you know what your red flags are? Do you have a plan for saving yourself when you feel yourself sliding?

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Weight Loss Wednesday: A near miss, but a win

Overall, I feel like things have gone really well since I decided I needed to start tracking again a month ago. I’d definitely let lots of extra snacks creep into my day and even though they weren’t bad quality calories, per se, there were too many of them. My plan of tracking during the week and then “making good choices” on the weekend has worked really well so far. I’m back down to 178, where I’d been hanging out for a few months before I took my break from tracking this summer. I’m feeling a little more in control of my snacking, but having the weekend to practice more intuitive eating has been good both to build trust in myself and to fuel my half marathon training (and yay for that training paying off!)

I’ve some difficulty with letting my eating get out of control on race weekends in the past, so I was a little worried about heading out to Des Moines alone this weekend. No witnesses + a stressful (even if it is good, excited stress) event = good situation for a binge. I had a plan though. I made a concrete plan for fueling, like I talked about here, and that plan included going to get a sandwich at Panera for dinner on Saturday night before the race. I knew it would set well on my stomach and give me a chance to get in some extra carbs. As someone who relies on a plan a little TOO much, I was thrown for a bit of a loop when I got to Des Moines and realized the Panera downtown closed at 3 pm. I know, that seems like a minor thing, but it caused major panic. Now I had to find something else to eat that would set well on my stomach but not tempt me to go to that overboard-disgusted place.

I looked at my options – no Chipotle nearby, which I know also works for me. Lots of restaurants, but as I got more anxious, I doubted my ability to avoid bad choices and a binge in the restaurant setting. I wanted something I could order and take out, so I wasn’t tempted to get more and more and more until I couldn’t stop. I know it seems silly, but it was a real fear and given my history, not an entirely unreasonable one.

I pulled into a parking lot, looked for nearby restaurants on my phone and settled on a Noodles & Company. I checked their menu and saw a pasta option that would work (pasta is tricky because sauce doesn’t set well for me before a run). I could order it to go and then I’d have a finite amount, with the door closed (relatively) to temptation once I got back to my hotel room. Without room service at my hotel, I felt relatively safe because I knew I wouldn’t head back out again for more food.

I was probably the only person in the store who was nervous about ordering pasta.

I was probably the only person in the store who was nervous about ordering pasta.

It ended up fine. I got my pasta and some chicken noodle soup, took it back to the hotel and ate while I watched some silly romantic comedy. The anxiety settled down and I was able to remind myself that it was okay. I was in control of my eating and this was a good fuel choice for a half marathon in the morning.

Pasta, with all of its comfort-food-associations, is particularly tricky for me and associated with lots of binge memories.

Pasta, with all of its comfort-food-associations, is particularly tricky for me and associated with lots of binge memories.

This may not seem like a big thing or even a thing worth mentioning, except that I feel like it is important to be honest about the fact that seemingly minor things like a change in your dinner plan can cause disproportionately big problems when you struggle with disordered eating. I haven’t had a real binge in over a year and its been months since I felt out of control about my eating, but still I have struggles. I need to write about this here both to remind myself in the future that I’ve encountered these bumps and overcome them and to let anyone who is struggling know that it’s normal (or at least I hope it is) to still have times where the beast rears its nasty head.

I didn’t weigh in today because I know I’ll be up from the race. I always am, thanks to swelling I suppose. My legs are still a little sore! I ran much harder than usual apparently! Have you noticed that you gain weight after a race? How long does it usually last?

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WLW: Making a race week nutrition plan

I’ve been running for a few years now and this is my 6th (!!) half marathon, but I still don’t feel like I have a good grasp on race week nutrition. I tend to swing from “I deserve it all / carb-loading” mentality – which leads me to binge – to an overly restrictive, must avoid the binge trigger at all cost end of the spectrum. It’s especially hard because the kinds of foods that are recommended in race week, lower fiber carbohydrates, tend to be the pastas and breads that have been binge triggers for me in the past. I still have a little fear of those foods. At the Des Moines half marathon last year, I definitely went overboard (although didn’t truly binge) and felt disgusted with myself afterwards. Beyond the emotional disgust, my stomach didn’t feel great either. This year, I need a better plan.

I’ve been pretty reasonable about my diet through this entire training cycle, focusing on healthy choices as much as possible. My interest in my reading this week has been in managing these last few days. First, I turned to “Eat to Peak”, which is a great nutrition book that I reviewed here earlier this year.

Eat to Peak cover

This book recommends increasing your carbohydrate intake to up to 70% of your calories during the 2-3 days before a race in order to ensure your muscles are fully stocked with glycogen. These carbs, especially as you get closer to race day, should be something familiar and easy on your stomach (so not high fiber or paired with a lot of fat). She also notes that your carbohydrate target for the week overall should be based on your weight, around 6 -10 grams/kg.

This is similar to what I found in Runner’s World articles on the topic, which recommended 3.5 – 4 grams carbohydrate per pound of body weight (2.2 lbs = 1 kg) in the 3-4 days before a race. For me, at 81 kg, this means I need to be eating between 485 – 800 grams of carbohydrate a day for the rest of this week. That is A LOT more carbohydrates than I normally eat. I checked a typical food day in My Fitness Pal last night and I was at 227 grams of carbohydrates.

image

Given that I’m usually well below that target and that I’m worried about walking that fine line regarding binge triggers, I’m going to aim for the 500 gram point. I don’t want to go overboard and upset my stomach or feel bloated and anxious. While some weight gain is typical when you restock glycogen (because glycogen holds onto water), I don’t really want to add 250 grams of carbohydrates to my daily carbohydrate total since that would be an extra 1000 calories a day (1 gram carb = 4 kcal). I’ll be looking to swap some of my non-carbohydrate calories for carbs. A small bump in calories is fine, but I don’t want to go overboard.

I’m not sure what this means for my Village Inn dinner tonight. I normally get Canadian bacon, an egg white omelette, cottage cheese and wheat toast. I’ll need to swap one or more of those three proteins for a carb I guess. It’ll totally confuse my waitress since I ALWAYS get the same thing.

Other things I’ll need consider over the next few days:

Increasing water with electrolytes prior to race day.

Limit high fiber foods in the 2-3 days before the race to minimize the risk of GI upset and to limit the “bulk” I may be carrying with me. We’ll just leave that there, other than to say I’ve discovered in this training cycle that my stomach on running does not like whole wheat bagels in the morning. This should be interesting because I eat A LOT of fruits and veggies.

– Two to four hours before the race, I’ll eat a pre-race meal containing about 0.5 – 1 gram of carbohydrates for every pound of body weight, with the lower end of that range since I’ll probably eat 2 hours before race time based on my practice runs. This is again consistent with the recommendations in Eat to Peak.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of overeating or undereating when you have a history like mine. At least with running all of these races, I have a lot of chances to practice pre-race nutrition, right? Do you have trouble figuring out what to eat before a race?

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