Real Talk

I have been hinting lately that my relationship with food and fueling my training hasn’t been so great. Hidden away in my drafts folder is a very negative blog post that just sort of throws up all of those feelings in a nice, stress-relieving, ranty sort of way. While I believe in being real and honest here on the blog, I don’t think anyone other than myself really needs to read what I wrote there. In the interest of being honest though, here’s what’s up, in a much less negative tone:

In short, I’m struggling with body image. As I’ve said many times before, my weight is not where it was three short years ago, and it’s not where I want it to be. Since the start of the 2015 holiday season, I’ve gained a bit more, and my clothes are starting to show it. I’m feeling way, way down on myself. As many first-time marathoners do, I had rosy visions that as I increased my mileage, the 15 or so pounds I’ve put on would magically melt away, and I would feel fit, strong, and healthy.

The reality that I, and many others training for their first marathon, must face, is that most people gain weight while in training, rather than losing it. Since I started officially training 7 weeks ago, I have fluctuated a bit, maybe gaining a pound or so, which, the grand scheme of things, isn’t THAT bad. The problem is, I’m hungry. All. The. Time. And I have this overwhelming anxiety that if I eat more, I will gain weight. So even though most days at around 3 pm I’m struck by insatiable hunger, I either a) don’t eat anything, or b) eat all the wrong things because I’m not prepared and don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

I’m well aware that my main issue is probably quality over quantity. I don’t think the amount of food I’m eating is necessarily too high (although who knows, it might be), but I know that the quality of the food that I’m eating sucks. Because Ben and I are so busy, convenience is paramount. 9 times out of 10, boiling some pasta and eating it with butter and salt is easier, more convenient, and often cheaper, than a healthier alternative. My ingrained eating habits of 30 years are also abysmal, so I’m more likely to crave carb-heavy and nutrient-poor foods than things like salads, and more likely to choose comfort over nutrition.

For a few weeks I’ve been sort of in denial about this. I knew I was having issues, but was determined to just “get over it” or try to muddle through on my own. I have been feeling really down on myself and my apparent lack of motivation/dedication/will power to just figure it out. I’ve had so much anxiety and frustration and it’s stupid and annoying to feel this way. It’s weird to feel such negativity about a body that’s doing everything I could ask of it. I mean, February was an amazing running month. How can I be angry with/dislike a body that carried me through 87 miles? I don’t know. But I am.

Yesterday, I finally decided that I need an objective opinion. I’ve tried so many times to figure this stuff out on my own, with very limited success. So, I bit the bullet. I emailed Coach Suz and told her I needed help. I’ll be keeping a food journal over the next week or so to get some hard, honest data about what I’m actually eating versus what I think I’m eating, then we’ll have a Skype date so that we can talk about it.

I’m hopeful that Susie can help me out. While it’s all well and good to want to lose weight, my ultimate goal in training for the marathon is to RUN THE FUCKING MARATHON. I need to eat enough to fuel my body. I hope that making some changes will help ease some of this anxiety and allow me to fuel my training without gaining any additional weight, and then once marathon training is done, I can begin to address the weight loss issue.


Here I Go Again (Not) On My Own

Weight is a subject that I’ve touched on several times over the last few months.  To sum up, I’ve gained some weight and some inches over the last year or so, and I’m not happy about it.  Summer of 2013, I was fit, confident and happy.  I was running moderate distances 2-3 times per week, and hitting up 1-2 strength/bootcamp type classes per week.  I was eating generally well, keeping the booze consumption under control, and feeling pretty good about myself.

Fall of 2013, Ben and I tore up our Massachusetts roots and headed back to our home state of Vermont.  The transition went well in most ways, except in the diet and exercise department.  I fell off the wagon, hard, and have been running behind and trying unsuccessfully to climb back on ever since.  Now, we’re entering a time of year that is pretty much synonymous with excess–pies, cakes, cookies, eggnog and more, all trotted out on a daily basis, begging to be eaten.  Coworkers will bring in their leftover treats from home, there will be parties galore, and lots of seasonal delicacies that only emerge between mid-November and January.  I usually end up overindulging and feeling crappy about myself, and of course there’s the oft-made (and oft-broken) New Year’s Resolution to “lose weight!” or “get in shape!” that never actually happens and leaves me feeling like a failure, until the next year when I do it all over again.

This year I’m saying “no.”  Not again.  No more.  No more eating to the point of illness.  No more, “But it’s Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years, don’t hold back!”  No more packing on the pounds and feeling sorry for myself.  And I know I (and many others) say this every year, but this time is different.  This time, I’ve got help–my accountabilibuddies (Kim, Lisa, Kellie and Nicole) are back on the case, and we’re going to stop being enablers and get tough on each other.  We check in daily, we encourage each other to be active, and say things like “Back away from the donut box.”

This will likely be even more challenging due to my current non-running status, but I know for a fact that diet is 90% of the problem for me anyway.  This means it’s more important than ever to really focus on eating nutritious foods, cutting back on the sugar and booze, and getting a handle on portion sizes.

I probably won’t be doing regular check-ins on this, but I’ll be sure to do a wrap up after the holidays.

How do you combat holiday weight gain?

Calorie Counting Woes

You may recall that on Monday I mentioned going back to My Fitness Pal for a bit to try and get a handle on my eating.  Boy, has that been educational.  And frustrating.

It’s amazing how much you can trick yourself into thinking that you generally eat “well.”  You can ignore super-sized portions because it’s brown rice instead of white, or think that grilled cheese is a valid choice when paired with salad, or believe that eating dessert after every meal is acceptable.  And then you wonder why the weight on the scale is creeping up.  Why pants are a bit more snug.  Why you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

I had a wake-up call recently.  One of my favorite pairs of summer work pants no longer fits.  Granted, they were always a bit snug, but I could get them on, zip and button them, and wear them all day with no issues.  Now, I can’t even pull them up over my butt.  If it weren’t for the number on the scale, I could maybe believe that my butt is now just extra muscular because I’ve been running and working out so much.

But when your macros look like this:

So much fat.  So little protein.

So much fat. So little protein.


…It’s not hard to understand why these things are happening.  And when you only have 317 calories left in your daily allowance and it’s 3pm, it’s pretty plain that you’re not doing as well as you thought you were.  In fact, you’re doing pretty poorly.

Bad Diet

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I (foolishly) assumed that as I started running more, I would automatically lose weight.  Instead, I have used my extra calorie expenditure as an excuse to eat more and worse foods.  I just ran 8 miles, give me that pasta!  I deserve fro-yo, I went to the gym today!  I am proving to myself the truth of the saying, “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”

So now I feel the need to do a massive diet overhaul.  Make better choices.  Plan better.  Prepare better.  Actually, oh I don’t know, measure my servings instead of guessing.  More protein, more veggies, and less sugar.

Unfortunately, healthy eating doesn’t come naturally to me.  It’s not how I was raised.  Growing up, most of our meals consisted of meat and starch with a side of starch.  “Vegetable” was a four-letter word to my dad, and since he did all the cooking, I never tried or developed a taste for most vegetables–the only “vegetable” he ever made was corn.  As an adult, I have had to learn to prepare and like vegetables that are second-nature to most people.  Over time I’ve gotten better, but it’s still not my first instinct to order a side salad instead of fries, or prepare a vegetable with every meal.

I have started down this path so many times and only found frustration.  Undoing 28 years of eating habits is REALLY HARD.  Retraining your brain and your taste buds is REALLY HARD.  Right now, I’m approaching the heaviest I’ve ever been, and if I were truly being “healthy” and eating well, I honestly wouldn’t mind so much.  But I know that what I’m doing isn’t healthy, and with a family history like mine (type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, breast cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and on and on), I can’t keep doing what I’m doing and expect to live a long, healthy life.  Something’s got to give.

Logically, I know this doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  I know that making healthy choices more often than not will make a huge difference.  I know that small changes will add up.  But I have a hard time even committing myself that far.  Emotionally and irrationally, I’m afraid that I’ll “miss out on things” by adopting healthier eating habits.  No more muffins at the office?  No more maple creemees on a summer night?  Is that really worth it?  My little sister has an eating disorder, and I’m terrified of becoming like her.  I don’t want to be so consumed with fear of being overweight that I’m afraid of food.

I know, I know it’s possible to find balance, I just haven’t found it yet.  I need to keep struggling along and hope that as I keep trying, things keep falling into place.