My Philosophy on Food

Moderation in all things, especially moderation

It is better to rise from life as from a banquet—neither thirsty nor drunken

I don’t believe in Diets, although I think it is a wonderful idea to eat a good diet. It seems that about a few years ago, my social media started to take off with friends and acquaintances dabbling from everything to paleo diets to sugar fasts to Whole30. The fads have never pulled me in, though in the last year, I’ve paid attention to my body as a runner and learned a lot about eating well. I’ve constantly heard cleanses, fad diets, elimination challenges, et cetera described as “resets” for the metabolism. I have come to appreciate that my body is a capable machine that requires no reset. It requires sustainable and predicable maintenance and care. This begins with both eating and exercising for wellness and enjoyment.

I do not subscribe to any rules. I know my likes and dislikes. I also challenge myself to eat things that I know contain solid nutritional value. For example, I made myself scrambled eggs on Sunday after my long run. I am generally not a fan of eggs. But I spent the time preparing them in a way that smelled and tasted good to me (lots of black pepper, and a heap of cheddar cheese). I consume alcohol sparingly. I know that eating a lot of greasy food will make for a funny stomach during the next day’s run, so I find that I am eating less pizza and fried food these days. I abstain, for the most part, from red meat and pork. Consequently, I eat a lot of beans and nuts to get protein. Hummus is my favorite condiment and I put it on almost everything. I pack myself a morning snack (I am a huge proponent of Second Breakfast) and a lunch for work most every day (except for Wednesdays, when I walk to the local co-op and get a salad plate). Taking food with me to work ensures that I get a sufficiently filling lunch and it is also saving me a lot of money.

I can only speak personally, since I know we are all passionate about what works for us as individuals. If I restricted myself from a broad spectrum of food choices, I would not be well. I simply could not survive in a month dictated by “good days” and “cheat days.” Goat cheese, hummus, dark chocolate, and pinot noir are some of my favorite (and definitely not guilty) pleasures. When I cast aside the fad diets, the trendy advice, the media messages on how women should eat… I am left with the simple reality of knowing my mind and my body and observing the conversion of input-to-output. I understand what settles well and provides optimal food. I satisfy hunger and thirst. I feel energized before exercising, and I sleep well at night.

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Training, long run recap, travel plans

Yesterday was my long run, and I was in the mood to hit the trails. I ended up running three laps around one of our local lakes for a grand total of 8 miles. The first two laps were a good tempo pace, and I was joined by my friend for the last lap, which we took a bit slower since she is pretty new to running. Overall, it was a really nice run with adequate cool-down. Running long laps can be challenging for me on a mental level, because I am seeing the same thing again and again. However, on the trails in the morning when so much is changing in the environment minute-by-minute (sun breaks, fog clearing, and wild life), I find enough to keep myself present in the run.

I was really happy with the balance of running and cross training last week. I’ve consistently been doing some kind of exercise every day for the last several weeks… since right before the holidays. I am feeling really strong—and not just in my legs. Doing a Zumba toning workout on my lunch break several days a week is forcing me to lift weights. At first it was really cumbersome… but now the sequences fly by (even with heavier weights), and my arms and back are feeling so strong and well-aligned! I attended a (hot yoga) power vinyasa class on Saturday, and that class used to kill my arms. I got through it just fine! I can really feel a difference.

Next week, we are travelling to San Antonio for a conference/vacation. The hotel has a gym and a pool, plus if weather cooperates, I’d love to do a little jogging around the river walk. All things considered, I always feel like I get a good amount of exercise sightseeing… particularly with my kiddo in tow! Since she loves to walk and run as much as I do, we’re not bothering to bring a stroller. I’ll bring my TULA toddler carrier and wear her on my back if I need to.

This weekend, I believe I will be solo for my long run. I am thinking of repeating 8 miles, but this time attempting the entire distance at about a 10 minute/mile tempo.

gatorade

Running laps means I can leave the fuel belt at home. But I realized last minute I was out of clean water bottles. So I rigged up this interesting solution… At least nobody stole it from the picnic shelter while I was out running!

Nookachamps 10K Recap

On Saturday, I ran my first race of 2015… a 10K. Overall, it was a great race–ups and downs (geographically and emotionally), but a really positive way to solidify training for my early spring half marathon. I could edit this and present you with only the shiny bubbly image of the finish line, but I feel like I owe you (few readers out there) and most importantly, myself, some honest reflection.

The race was tough!

It started the Sunday before last. I was planning to do a 5 mile solo run + an additional 2.5 miles at a more leisurely pace with friends for a total of 7.5 miles. Then, of course, my daughter woke up at 2:00 AM on Sunday morning violently vomiting the previous day’s food. By the time we all fell asleep restlessly on our towel-draped couch, we were spent. So, no early morning long run. Just a short run at the end of the day (that was all I could muster).

Despite the fact that I ran 5 miles last Wednesday night, the failed attempt at a long run the weekend before got under my skin. I suppose I should confess that I am very competitive with myself and I am most comfortable when I feel prepared. Missing out on that long run left me in a weird space. On race day, I was uncertain of my ability (mistake #1, since we all know that running is 90% mental). I was a bit sad that my two good lady friends were running the 5K–I wanted to abandon 10K ship and join them. But they encouraged me to go for the 10K and so off I went with my pack of runners.

Miles 1 and 2 were pretty good. I kept about a 10 minute pace, and tackled the hills. But at Mile 3, the Big Hill, I started to give in to some mental noise. I spent a lot of that mile alternating between running and walking. I regret expending so much negative energy! The downpour of rain honestly did not help. I felt lonely and tired.

I pushed and got through that little wall. At Mile 4, I hit the zone, and I managed to have a really good run the rest of the distance. The last mile was on trail, not roads, which was a considerable perk to my morale since my joints could sigh with relief on the soft footing!

Finishing was sweet. My arms were pumping to get me there! My friends were waiting and cheering me on… that made me feel so good and was worth the journey.

Not every run is “good,” but every run is an opportunity to learn. From this first race of the year, my takeaway is to leave the self-doubt behind. A jug fills drop by drop, and I have given my jug many drops! I must remember that I am a practiced distance runner who can finish strong.

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Running across the city at night

There are the simple rituals which build anticipation for the gifts of silence and mindfulness. Taking off the worn work clothes, and putting on the uniform of cool wicking fabrics. Tying up the laces on running shoes and indulgently wiggling toes in a spacious toe box. Tucking locks of hair under a headlamp, closing the door, and watching the first puff of breath illuminated under the bright, white light.

I ran 5 miles across my favorite neighborhoods last night, drinking up the city blocks. Each minute that passed satiated and soothed. The sidewalks sparkled with ice and frost, and Orion glittered above me. I let the stressors free. IRB applications for two universities, management responsibilities at work, students in crisis… they drifted away. I return to my work and my life with fresh eyes. I am centered.

The 10K is this Saturday, and I look forward to my first race of 2015.

Cross Training, Lately

Zumba– A perfect way to get aerobic activity without realizing that an hour of exercise has gone by. Benefit to running: Keeps me quick on my feet and gives me lots of endorphins.

Yin Yoga– Slow and mindful stretching. Benefit to running: Adds flexibility to my muscles and ligaments without risk of injury. Helps me remember to breathe.

Ballet– I’ve just added this to my rotation. A way to get exercise that allows me to feel gracefulness and poise. Benefit to running: Great for core strength and posture.

Singing– Brain is engaged with learning new music; heart is nurtured by song. Benefit to running: Better lung capacity.

The Best Self

When I am in regular running practice, I feel like I am the best version of myself. I do not mean that I feel that I look “best” or weigh “best” or that my speed is “best.” I mean that I feel mentally and emotionally grounded. I approach my work day with a hop in my step. Problems do not seem insurmountable. I sleep at night.

I am dipping my toe back in distance running… my fondest practice. 10K is in a week and a half, and I am repeating the Whidbey Island Half Marathon this spring. Although the thought of running another marathon, to be honest, made me recoil last year, I find that my heart is appreciatively open to tackling the 26.2 once again in 2015 (perhaps I am a biennial marathoner?).

This current cold and dark season is gifting me generously with opportunities to run. Health (knock on wood) is relatively good–with minimal time spend fighting colds. Running buddies are excellent and just the extra peer motivation I need to keep up my practice. A new headlamp is helping me see much better on night runs. Big, daring race goals are keeping the expectations high and the anticipation humming.

Yes, I enjoy being my best self. Here is to another year of running.