Why is It So Hard to Eat Normally?

A firm memory sticks in my mind as I being to write this. I had recently moved in with a new roommate a few years ago. She often had to work late and one night she came home, said she was in the mood for pizza, called the local pizza place for a delivery order, and ate her dinner while we watched TV together. I had gotten home earlier, gone to the gym, and made whatever dinner I had planned for that night; taking into account getting in all my macronutrients and having a balanced plate. While she was eating dinner, I was probably having my night snack of some low calorie ice cream. I literally sat in AWE watching her eat and enjoy that pizza, watching TV with not a care in the world. It struck me so hard that she was eating NORMALLY, not thinking about health in any way. She wanted pizza for dinner, so she ordered it and ate it. After having a couple of slices and dipping them in Ranch, she put the rest of the pizza back in the fridge and had the leftovers the next night for dinner or for lunch, I can’t remember.

My roommate was in no means unhealthy. She was in great shape, worked out when she could even though it was never her number one priority, and ate what she wanted, which included pizza, pasta, fried food, etc. along with salads, veggies, and smoothies. Quite honestly, she was in better shape than me and never had to “worry about her weight.” Why couldn’t I eat the way she did, happily and with no guilt ever associated with it?

To be honest, I do not quite know the answer to that question, but I know it started early on. I can remember the day when my relationship with food changed. I guess I started becoming “curvier” in eighth grade–not large by any means, just developing and no longer weighing under 90 pounds. My clothes were a little tighter (I probably shouldn’t have been wearing children’s clothes anymore) and my mom made a comment about how I shouldn’t have a bagel with melted cheese on it (low key this used to be one of my FAVORITE foods) for a snack–that that was more of a meal, not a snack between meals. From that point on, I decided I needed to lose weight. I began weighing myself, exercising, and watching what I ate (more on all of this later). No, I did not have an eating disorder, but I was conscious of what I put into my mouth and what I was doing.

Since then, I have almost always been conscious. Yes, this has backfired, and sometimes I would turn unconscious and eat an entire box of cookies on accident. But I have been aware of food and judged it before putting it into my mouth.

In the past year or so, I have learned the importance of balance and preached it to myself and others. I know that labeling food as “good” or “bad” will only backfire on me. If I really want something sweet, I have it and try to savor every bite and be done with it. I know that eating whole foods makes me feel good and junk will make me feel tired and sluggish. I have something for dessert most nights and usually try to make healthier versions of my favorite treats. I go out to dinner with friends and family and order what sounds good to me, but make an effort to choose something that will also make my body feel good.

But I will never be that girl who can eat greasy pizza without a care in the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve done too much research and become too interested in health to just suddenly forget every health fact and indulge without thinking about it. Maybe it’s because I’m not the type of person who is naturally slim and doesn’t gain weight. When I indulge a ton, my jeans become tight and I start feeling uncomfortable.

While I believe that becoming educated about health is a good thing 99% of the time (we are only given one body after all, it is our home and it’s important to know how to treat it right!), there is that small 1% that mourns the fact that I will never be totally carefree when it comes to eating. That when I eat a cookie, I will love every bite, but there will be still be that knowledge in the back of my head knowing that tons of sugar isn’t good for me. I fight these thoughts and still enjoy treats because I know that it’s part of LIFE and I want to enjoy life, but it’s still there.

I guess I will never be able to completely eat like a normal person. But I will continue pushing to listen to my body and enjoy life!

Learning From My Mistakes

When you make a mistake, you’re supposed to learn something, right? Well it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes I have made a mistake time and time again even though I felt an inkling in the back of my head that it was a bad idea.

Well, there is one mistake that I finally have learned from and won’t make again. This is running/forcing workouts on an injury. For me, even running through pain for 1-2 days can put me out for WEEKS. So now, as annoying as it is, I stop completely. On Monday, I noticed my hip feeling a little off. But why?! I had only run 8 miles on Saturday, shorter than my planned 11, and done an easy cross training session on Sunday. I didn’t do anything wrong! Well, sometimes your body just has other plans for you. So I have been taking it easy and not running this week. Which has been extremely tough because it’s been Spring in Chicago this week, even though it’s the middle of February. I got home from work on Tuesday and it was the perfect night. Breezy, but warm. I saw tons of people out running and I was just aching to get a run in. Just 3-4 miles! But I felt that hip pain as I was walking to my apartment and I just knew it wasn’t a good idea. So I sat on my couch with the window open watching Shameless and didn’t run. I didn’t work out at all actually. Yes, I felt kind of guilty, but I have to keep reminding myself to push past those feelings!

I’m doing a 10 mile race in March and half marathon in April! I want to go into those races feeling strong and healthy. That’s not going to be possible if I push myself to run when I’m noticing pain, as much as I want to. So, I haven’t been doing my planned workouts this week. But today I’m not noticing any pain and that’s a win. I may try to do an easy run tomorrow or this weekend, but if anything flares up I will STOP. Because I’ve made that mistake way too many times and have FINALLY learned that it isn’t worth it.

What I’ve Been Focusing On

There are SO many different workouts out there, and while I would like to be supergirl and do every single one, I know that I have to pick and choose. I’ve been trying some new things lately while still incorporating the old, and I think it’s working well so far!

My main focus has been marathon training. I’m doing an 18 week program (Hal Higdon’s Novice 2) and this is week 4! The first 3 weeks weren’t bad, but this week is a pretty big increase in mileage. I have an 11 mile run on Saturday and I haven’t run that far in almost a year. Instead of being worried about it, I think I’m just going to take it nice and slow and focus on finishing rather than being the fastest. During my 9 mile run a couple weeks ago I had to walk…that NEVER happens to me. But since then, I have felt a lot stronger on my runs and my pace has improved a little. Hoping that trend will continue and I will get back to where I used to be!

I signed up for a special at a yoga studio for the past month and I’ve really been liking doing some more challenging yoga classes! I feel like it really helps as a runner to get into a deep stretch, but it’s definitely tough! I am so bummed that my month is ending this week, but I’m going to continue going to classes at the gym at work and maybe trying out some studios too.

I’ve also been trying some boot camp/sculpt classes at my gym. I’ve always loved going to classes and find it so motivating! This is a good way for me to learn new workouts and try something different. I’m trying to do 2-3 strength/resistance workouts per week (usually on cross-train days or low mileage days) and I count these kinds of classes! I also sometimes make up my own resistance workout or do a Kayla Itsines workout–either from BBG1 or ones that I’ve found on her blog that I really like! With where I’m at right now, I’m not completely following BBG–I really liked it, but it became a little obsessive for me and I want to focus on marathon training. It’s amazing for people who can do both at once, but I think I would spend my entire life working out if I was trying to do both and not have any kind of social life.

As far as eating is concerned, I’ve been kind of up and down. I am still maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle, but am really questioning it. I do believe in it, but my energy has been down and running pace has been off ever since I started, so that’s the only reason I can think of that would be causing those problems. I am tracking my food to make sure that I get enough protein and started eating some protein shakes, so hopefully that will help. But I am also considering doing a mainly vegetarian diet, but still eat some meat. It’s still something I think about, but as a distance runner, I really need to make sure I’m getting enough protein. Still staying vegetarian for now, but it’s something I’m thinking about!

I’m still focusing on intuitive eating, but kind of tracking my food since I want to make sure I get enough protein. I am also an emotional eater, so tracking makes me think a little more about what I’m eating. This is an area that I continue to struggle with..I think it’s hard to know the difference between overeating/binging/emotional eating. Overeating occasionally is normal, but it can also be a bad habit. Training for a marathon, I really want to make sure that my eating is on point and that I’m fueling my body in the right ways–not just reaching for sweets because I’m upset about something. Definitely easier said than done. Might do another post on this later as I’m trying out some different strategies to deal with stress!

Well, if you read this entire post, I have to say I’m very impressed! I’m really going to try to post more regularly, because I really do like writing and getting all of my thoughts out. I’ll hopefully do a marathon training recap soon as well as more meal ideas. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Life Updates

Whew, the past couple of weeks have been busy! My parents were in town visiting for about a week and a half, I hurt my foot and couldn’t exercise for a week, and I have made a couple of big changes in my life, which are becoming a vegetarian and starting to eat intuitively. These are 2 really big things for me, and I’m definitely giving them both time to form a full opinion.

After doing a LOT of research/ talking to people/ watching documentaries, I decided I wanted to become a vegetarian. I think I eventually want to become vegan, but this is my way of easing into it. I will NEVER judge people based on what they eat, and hope that people will give me the same respect 🙂 My decisions are based off of studies showing the numerous health benefits of eating plant-based and cutting animal products out of the diet. It only seems like a positive thing. If you’re at all interested, I like this article which explains the benefits of eating plant-based! This switch has also been a really fun challenge for me! I’ve been buying/eating a lot of foods that I haven’t tried before and really like them! It’s definitely a shift in mindset because a lot of my “go-to” dinners include meat. But I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to replace. For example, I used to make a salad with grilled chicken in it for lunch, and now I’ve been replacing the grilled chicken with quinoa or chickpeas. Dinners have included a LOT more vegetables and veggie burgers/chickpeas/black beans as a source of protein. I also want to experiment cooking with lentils and tofu, which I’ve tried and liked, but have not prepared myself before.

I am still treating this as an experiment. I am definitely concerned about getting enough protein because I work out pretty intensely, and that is an important part of my life. But another aspect of my life is being open-minded and trying new things! I will keep posting updated about how the transition to being vegetarian is going.

Another thing I have decided to commit to is intuitive eating. For many people, this is something that comes completely naturally, but for me, my thoughts about food and eating have become so screwed up that eating intuitively is incredibly difficult. For so long, I haven’t been able to eat something without mentally calculating calories. This leads to so much stress and guilt about food. I have also used food as a source of control in my life. If I meticulously counted every calorie and hit my goal for the day (which used to be under 1200…NOT GOOD), then I felt like I was successful and had control over my life, even when everything else was falling apart. Restricting calories so severely only leads to overeating/binging, which makes me feel HORRIBLE and wracked with guilt. So, I decided enough was enough. I never want to feel so guilty and full of self-hatred for eating ever again. I’ve been reading the book Intuitive Eating and have found the principles so incredibly helpful. No, I am absolutely not there yet. I’ve only been doing this for a few weeks and am still learning. It takes time to recognize hunger and satiety cues when you’ve ignored them for so long. But the principles in the book and reasons against dieting ring SO TRUE for me. For a long time, counting calories was a crutch for me and I actually enjoyed it. But I think I am finally ready to let go of that, and I’m excited to finally (hopefully) have a healthy relationship with food and not worry about what I’m eating all the time. It is definitely a process though, so I’m working on it.

If you’ve actually read this whole post, I’m impressed! I will definitely have more to say on both topics, but wanted to at least post where I’m at right now.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous and damaging it is to be constantly comparing ourselves to other people. This can be applied for ANYTHING, such as wealth, houses, clothing, etc. but I tend to compare my body to others’ all the time and it’s a habit I need to break.

Yesterday, I had felt pretty good all day and went to spin class after work. Well, there was a girl in class who was really skinny…she looked like one of those people who is just naturally skinny, but I don’t want to assume anything about her, so who knows. Anyways, she was right next to me in class, and since the whole room is mirrored, I would catch glances of her in the mirror whenever I looked at myself to see how my form was. And everytime, all I saw on myself was fat and how much bigger I was compared to her. I tried to stop looking, but it was a compulsion, I couldn’t stop! By the end of class, I was hating my body. The thing that saved me was the last song, which was a sprint and I pushed myself REALLY hard and was proud of myself.

After class, I needed to take the time to ground myself and think of how far I’ve come fitness-wise and reassess my mindset. For so long, I wanted to be stick thin. Instead of looking at my body for muscle, I would look at it and want to see bones sticking out–that’s what I was striving for. That may sound sick and disgusting, but it is the honest truth. Through running and doing strength exercises, I have tried to focus on building muscle and looking HEALTHY, not skinny. But, obviously, I’m not perfect, and sometimes I do slip back into that mindset of wanting to look like a bony, unhealthy person instead of someone who is fit and strong.

On a different note, I did a different kind of running workout this morning! I thought I would switch it up since I typically just decide a mileage and go out and run. I ran about 1.5 miles to a hill near my apartment, then sprinted up the hill, and ran easy down it. Then I turned around and kept doing the same thing up and down the hill until I hit a mile and then ran back home. It was a really fun challenge, and I definitely want to do it again! Hopefully I can find a bigger hill, because the one I live by is kind of wimpy.

I also wanted to share my breakfast from this morning because for once, it wasn’t oats! I’m definitely a creature of habit and eat overnight oats or oatmeal almost every day. I start preparing them at night without even thinking about it sometimes! Today I had a yogurt bowl to switch it up and because a friend on Instagram sent me some samples of a new granola, which I really ended up liking!

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This was a Fage 0% Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 banana, raspberries, and San Franola California Raisin granola. I REALLY like this granola! The company advertises simple ingredients, low sugar, and high fiber. Flavor was definitely not sacrificed because it was delicious! Definitely recommend, I linked them above, plus they have free shipping which I always appreciate!

Well that’s it for today (if you’ve made it this far)! Happy Thursday!

Full Day of Eating

Here is a look at a typical day of eating for me! I’m trying not to count calories this week and listen to my body instead. I would guess that this is between 1500-1800 calories. I did Kayla Itsines BBG week 3 arms and abs in the morning and went to spin after work. I sometimes use a Polar watch with heart rate monitor, and according to that, I burned 1114 calories yesterday with both of those workouts combined. I don’t know how completely accurate those are, I just like to see where my heart rate is! So I still just eat to satisfy my hunger and not to eat back calories. But I’ve definitely realized that when I push myself so hard in my workouts, I can’t survive off of 1200 calories or less! Anyways, here is my food diary from yesterday:

Breakfast was overnight oats (1/2 cup old fashioned oats mixed with 1/2 cup almond milk and some cinnamon, stirred and left in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I added banana slices, strawberries, and about 1 tablespoon of Buff Bake birthday cake almond butter). I ate this around 8:45 am when I got to work after doing BBG first thing in the morning.

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Lunch (around 12:30 pm) I usually eat a variation of this lunch every day at work. It’s easy to pack and I like it! I pack a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, shredded carrots, grilled chicken, avocado, and add balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I also had a gala apple.

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Snack 1 (around 2:30pm) was green grapes and a Chobani Simply 100 yogurt. I really like these yogurts! This snack was good because it satisfied my sweet tooth, but didn’t cause me to crash later. IMG_0860[1]

Snack 2 (around 4pm): Yes, I usually have 2 afternoon snacks! For some reason, I can last all morning without a snack, but I get more hungry in the afternoon. My director got an entire case of these Suja juices sent to her, so it was like Christmas for me! I took 3 of them to have throughout the week (she probably had 40 of them). I had never tried this flavor before, and really liked it! I didn’t finish it, so I’ll probably have the rest today. IMG_1039[1]

Dinner was a Trader Joe’s Thai sweet chili veggie burger (SO yummy! This was my last one, so I definitely need to get more), roasted broccoli and grape tomatoes, and about 1/2 cup cooked quinoa with Pita Pal original hummus. Love this dinner and it was so easy to prepare!IMG_1041[1]

Dessert was a Lenny and Larry’s white chocolate macadamia complete cookie. I love these because I loveee cookies and these at least have protein in them. I kind of struggled to be honest because I wasn’t sure if I was actually hungry or just wanted dessert, so I debated eating this. But I also didn’t want to wake up in the middle of the night hungry so that’s partially why I had it too. Sometimes I cut them in half since 1 serving is actually only half of the cookie, but I just ate the whole thing and didn’t feel too full afterwards. Night time is definitely the hardest for me in terms of intuitive eating.

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I love reading food diaries/ what people eat in a day because I think it’s really interesting and I always get good ideas from people. Hope this post is helpful! I definitely think I will do more of these, I try to post them on my Instagram every Wednesday for What I Ate Wednesday.

First Post!

I’ve been wanting to make a blog for a while, but didn’t know if anyone would find it interesting or want to read it. But I’m doing this mostly for me and to track my own progress! I fell in love with running when I joined cross-country my sophomore year of high school. I’d been active through dancing and other activities, but never really ran. The first day of practice, I was put in the slowest group and I was the last to finish our 2 mile race that weekend. Throughout the season, I moved up to faster running groups and cut time with almost every race, progressing to about the middle of the team! I was never a superstar in high school cross-country (sometimes I look back and regret not being more serious about it), but I was having fun and enjoying my high school experience! I still love to run, but have learned to incorporate other activities, such as cross-training and resistance training, to get stronger and to avoid injuries. I’ve learned the hard way that my body can’t handle running every single day.

I’ve struggled with having a healthy relationship with food/ working out for almost 10 years (I hate how long it’s been). This is not saying that it has completely controlled my life for this long, but it’s been a constant struggle and something that’s always on my mind. I realized recently that every time I eat something, I think about how many calories is in it. I’m so jealous of people who don’t think like this and can just eat completely intuitively. I’ve used my eating as a means of control and also as an escape through emotional eating. I’ve swung from doing excessive cardio and eating 1100 calories a day to full-out eating whatever I wanted because I was taking out my feelings through eating.

Recently, I’ve really been trying to find balance with fitness and eating. It’s something I work on everyday. I feel best when eating mostly clean, but I know that I need to treat myself and still live my life and have fun! Going out to eat and not having all of my meals planned used to give me serious anxiety, but I’m trying to go with the flow more and not let it control my life.

This blog will be about my passion for running, fitness, and health, while I strive to live a happy and balanced life.