Thursday, December 29, 2016

On 2017 and what's to come

I haven't been very good about blogging lately.

I don't know if I will be any better about it in 2017, but I'm gonna try. Because here's the thing: 2016 has been rough. I started the year with goals and plans, and I stuck with some. I didn't on others. This isn't self-loathing talking, it's just an admission of real life.

Sometimes, Doing The Things is hard.

So, 2017 is around the corner. I'm thinking of keeping it simple. For years, it was about how many races I could run. How many workouts I could get in. But this year, I'm just going to pull it back a bit.

The coming year is about two things: getting stronger (weight training, you're up!) and fueling right (most of the time.) I think that translates to three or four weight-bearing workouts per week, and eating fruit or veg and protein most times when I fill the pie hole.

That's it. Two simple methods that should net me some results in 365 days.

Oh, and love. I'm going to thank my body instead of being critical of it. I've been doing better at that lately, and really - it's a much better way.

Off we go, friends. It's time.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Six weeks in the infirmary

Oh, you guys.

It has been a long, arduous six-ish weeks. See, in mid-April I went on vacation (and totally rocked a 19.3-mile weekend). Then I went to Phoenix and slid into a bit of depression that I could not shake. For my next trick, I got sick. Like, really sick.

Between the many medical professionals I spoke with over the course of the illness, I've been told it was probably bronchitis, walking pneumonia or full-on pneumonia ... or the combo platter. Because when I do things, I do not do them half ass. No sir, the whole ass or nothing, thank you very much.

So, it's been about six weeks since I've worked out regularly (or at all.) I've tried, but breathing was nearly impossible, so every time I tried, I abandoned it again.

That wears on you after awhile. My sickness left me feeling even more depressed, and I could not for the life of me see the way out.

I've dealt with depression off an on throughout my adult life, and this was by far the worst, because I could not find a way to help myself.

Finally, last week, the right meds began to kick in, and I'm coming back to life. The thing is, the decline was so slow and steady, I didn't realize how bad it was. I had zero energy or motivation. I felt horrible, all the time. Even when I tried to do better, I just didn't have it in me.

I share this because for about 48 hours now, I've felt better. After six weeks, the light came back on, thanks to great medical care and an even better support network. I'm hurtling toward tri season completely untrained, but I am so joyful to be able to do it at all, I cannot wait.

It will not be easy. But I will cross that finish line.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

What goes through my head before a big race

I'm working from home today, and in between throwing last-minute items in my suitcase and cranking out a few projects, I'm thinking.

Yeah, this could get dangerous.

My bestie and I leave this afternoon to head to Florida for the Dark Side Challenge - two races, one weekend, totally 19.3 miles when all is said and done. We're tapping in to our inner geeks and getting ready to use the Force. But before we do that, we had to grind through about three and a half months of training.

Good days. Bad days. Scheduled runs that didn't happen, weeks when there was just too much going on. We did our best, and that's what we'll do on Saturday and Sunday: our best, whatever that looks like. Truly, I'm grateful to be able to run, and my race goal is to live in the moment every step of the way. I've packed my sense of wonderment in my carry-on.

Over the last few days, a lot of people have said, "I don't know how you do it," or "I could never do that," or "you have to be crazy!" (That last one might be true.) Here's what I want you to know: how I do it is by deciding I will and then following a plan, and you can do it if you want to.

I'm a proud slow runner. I've never even cracked the top 2/3 of my age group, and it's possible I never will. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I am out there, challenging myself, stepping up to the start line with full faith that I will cross the finish line. It's one thing to not want to do it. It's quite another to think you can't.

It's just mileage. All you have to do is be willing to keep moving forward.

Monday, February 29, 2016

This feels different

My big D.Tox experiment started six weeks ago. I was two weeks full-on damn near perfect on the program, and after that I was able to add back in to my eating the things I really missed.

The thing is, I didn't miss much.

I had zero physical issues coming off of coffee, so even though I still love it, I'm down to one or two cups a week (contrasted with two or three cups a day.) I'm a tea devotee now, and happy with that.

Gluten, which I thought would be the hardest to give up, has proven not to be hard at all. Yes, I've had Lou's pizza, but for the most part, I've let go of wheat. There are too many other options out there. Peanuts? Gone. Turns out I really like almond butter. Dairy, you fickle minx, you've been the hardest to avoid, but even still, it isn't bad. All that crap they tell you about cravings subsiding when you start to eat better ... turns out, it's not crap.

Now, I have found ways to treat myself. I have indulged in chocolate chia pudding. It's basically almond or coconut milk, chia seeds, cocoa powder, and a bit of blackstrap molasses - one of the few "sanctioned" sweeteners - to take the edge off. I'm not gonna lie to you; this is not the chocolate mousse you're looking for, but it certainly satisfies that part of my brain that wants something chocolatey.

And yes, one night I ate a (couple of) handfuls of sugared pecans. And a slice of fruit pizza. But other than that, there have been zero sweets. I'm like a recovering alcoholic, because I want everyone to experience how good it feels to not have crap in my system.

I just feel different. I am not out of the woods yet, but really - are we ever? There's always temptation or laziness out there, threatening our success. It's a matter of telling it, "Nope; not today."

In the next six weeks, I have a lot of work to do. I'll be heading off to my first half marathon in a year, and I want to feel good when I finish. (Also, I want to look cute in pictures.) So I'm sticking to the plan; I'm (literally) working my ass off. Let's see where we go! But one thing's for sure; this feels different.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Well, that was unexpected.

So here we are at Day 12 of D.Tox, and I'm still standing. Have I been perfect? Nope, not by any means. But not because I've indulged in something I shouldn't. More in that I haven't been able to have protein with every meal or snack, and some days I haven't gotten as many servings of fruits/veg that they want me to. But for me, sticking to plan is more about not eating Ben & Jerry's than it is about being perfect.

It would have been easier to play Cloistered Nun and shut myself off from the world for two weeks, but that's not reality. Reality is being around people, celebrating life's ups and downs. But man, I was scared when those opportunities arose. A restaurant with a great menu. A comfortable kitchen with great pizza. And cake. A work meeting with artisinal cheeses.

And yet, every time, I stayed the course.

This all may sound like a load of hooey to you. It did to me up until about a month ago. Sometimes, you have to try things even though they sound like a load of hooey.

When Alisa recommended the D.Tox to me, I rejected it immediately. But in the back of my mind, something was brewing. I was considering it, trying to figure out how I could make it work, financially and lifestyle-wise.

I've made it work. As of today, I cannot begin to tell you how good I feel. My skin is clear. My body feels good. My clothes fit better. I feel just plain good. It's hard to explain, but really incredible to be inside of.

It's scary, too, because come Monday, the detox part of D.Tox is over, and the rules can be broken ... but I think I'm gonna hold steady. I will probably re-introduce gluten or dairy into the diet to see how I react, but if I'm honest, I don't much miss it, so maybe I just won't. I'm already looking forward to coffee, but I'll probably limit it to the weekends. And as for sugar ... well ... now that I've gone almost two weeks without sweets, I really don't think it would be smart to climb back on that bandwagon.

I am convinced that the body doesn't always know what's good for it. I want a donut, pretty much 24/7, but by telling myself for the last two weeks that donuts were out of the question, I've quieted the cravings down to a low whimper.

Truth is, I expected to feel hungry and crabby. I did not expect to feel peaceful and enlightened.

One of the biggest discoveries through D.Tox has been in the learning about myself. Now, I realize I'm a grown-ass woman, and I should have a modicum of self-awareness by now, but sometimes we lose track of ourselves. We change slowly over time without even realizing it, and if we're lucky, we have the opportunity to realize where we've gone off the rails.

My lightbulb moment came when, for reasons passing understanding, I became very emotional. I've always been a sensitive person, but I can generally pinpoint where it comes from, and understand where to go from there. Alas, apparently I am also very good at bottling things up and burying what I'm feeling under a gin martini (extra brine, kkthxbai) or a slab of cheesecake, because when those things aren't an option, the feelz ... oh the feelz.

Having to stand and deal ... or rather, melting down, fleeing the scene and then having to deal ... is a learning experience. Hi, my name is Maggie, and I used to eat my feelings.

For the last few weeks, I've had to use actual coping skills. I couldn't stress-eat raw almonds, because lame. So, feel the stress, and find a way out. I couldn't dull hurt with a cocktail or dessert or bacon or the bread basket. I just had to feel it.

In truth, it wasn't bad. It was kinda mind-blowing, looking back. And I think that's one of the most important ways I hope this experiment makes a lasting change. Now that I'm aware that it's my habit to quiet my soul with consumption, I'll be doing my level best not to do that anymore. It's inauthentic, and that's not me.

Including today, there are three days left in my D.Tox. I would recommend it to anyone. And it is my intention to continue to be this mindful person, understanding what I'm eating and taking care with it, rather than just eating to eat, or worse ... eating to insulate myself from feeling.

Where will we go from here? Honestly, I have no idea. But I like who I am right now, and I love how I feel. There is no reason to go back.

Ever forward, my friends.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Long time, no write

The fact that I have written exactly nothing here since October of last year should tell you that I have not been particularly on point with my quest for health. That being said, I had a great year. I had a lot of fun. And I maintained most of my good health.

All that being said, I put on a metric shit-ton of weight over the holidays in 2014, and it all stuck around (with a few of its friends) for another holiday season, and ushered in 2016 with a middle-finger salute.

I've had my meltdown. I've felt sorry for myself and I've cried in the locker room. It boils down to this: what my mom told me was right. It is a lot harder to lose as you age. Hormones are sneaky bastards, and they aren't going to just let you off the hook. So while I was being mostly good, I was also being slightly not-so, and the not-so part has caught up with me. And latched on to my extra chins.

This scares the crap out of me, because I know what three bills looks like on my frame. I don't want to go back there, but I'm currently trending in the wrong direction.

That's where my friend Alisa comes in. She also happens to be a nutrition guru and personal trainer at my gym, and she talked me off the ledge and made a suggestion.

For some people, she said, it takes some time being perfect when you hit a plateau (or worse) to shake up the metabolism. So I am dedicated to two perfect weeks on the Life Time Fitness D.Tox program.

I'm on Day 2, and I almost caved and had a gyro today. (No one said it would be easy.)

D.Tox basically takes out any foods that are known to cause inflammation in the body. (Most notably dairy, gluten, soy, eggs and some other stuff I can't remember.) So we take those out, fuel the body with high-quality protein (cage-free chicken, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish) and really good produce (and not all of it needs to be organic, either). There's  no starch, but there is plenty of food. Plus, there's a shake or two a day to provide essential nutrients and work on removing gunk from my liver.

The idea is to remove known irritants from your system, things that cause inflammation in the body and make you feel generally un-good. It's just day two, and I already have less joint pain. (Is that even possible?) But I'll just say this: it isn't easy. And I'm glad it's just for two weeks.

To keep me honest, I thought I'd share pictures of what I'm eating, and you, gentle reader, could share in my trials and tribulations. Here's the scoop so far:

Breakfast, every day. Green tea, plus a smoothie with kale and berries.

Yesterday's lunch; cage-free chicken, with cauliflower and broccoli and roasted garlic. (Yum!)

D.Tox Chili with avocado. (This is actually very good.)

Chicken, greens, broccoli and cauliflower, with dressing made from apple cider vinegar and stone-ground mustard. Not bad, but I wouldn't want it every day.
It's pretty simple, but I still need some tweaks. I need to bring in some snack-worthy food (almonds and walnuts are allowed, as are nut butters that aren't peanuts.) And I need to stop walking through places that are serving gyros. Because that's just mean.

There's 12 more days; I can do this. More later.