A Few More Words on Food and Also Running Because I Don’t Know Who I Am Anymore

After about a week of reintroducing non-whole30 foods back into our diets, it became clear that a.) certain foods definitely trigger feelings of UGH I FEEL AWFUL and b.) we could maintain the weight loss but would not reach our ultimate goals if we were “good” during the week and then went crazy on the weekends. So, we’re on Day 2, again. Obviously we spent the weekend “clearing out the alcohol” in the house in preparation. It’s also obvious that of the 15 pounds I lost, about 10 of it came straight from my boobs. (Hi, Dad!)

In addition to realizing I may never eat pizza again (bread: why you gotta make me feel like garbage?) I’ve been having a hard time reconciling some negative feelings about running. For the longest time I’ve been saying my ultimate goal is to run a half marathon (ideally before I turn 40, which means that would need to happen this year), and now that I’m training for a 10k, I’m not so sure that goal interests me any longer. As someone who struggles a lot with guilt over “quitting” I did some serious thinking about what was going on here, and it wasn’t the extra work that would be involved, or intimidation over the effort required. I’m simply not enjoying the activity itself. And that added another layer of guilt: not everything in life is enjoyable, right? So now I had “don’t be a quitter” and “you can’t expect to have fun all the time” running through my head (with a little bit of “you’ve been telling people you want to do this and you’ll look dumb if you don’t” thrown in).

But here’s the thing: I run because I enjoy it. It’s purely a fun hobby. Sure, I set some goals and run races but at the core of it all is my enjoyment of it. And if that is lacking, why push myself to do more of it? If my mom told me she wasn’t enjoying quilting much right now, would I push her to sign up for more workshops and buy more materials and patterns and judge her for taking a break (or at least finishing her existing project but not necessarily lining up another one)? Of course not. So why so much pressure? Am I not enjoying it because I feel pressure to be hitting certain goals? Do I need to switch up my routine so it doesn’t feel like an obligation? I’m honestly not sure. But I do know I’d like to find my way back to enjoyment, and part of that is because I know I’m at my best when I’m spending time outdoors and taking care of my body; running has fed that need.┬áMaybe it’s time to find other ways to do that. Not that I have to abandon running altogether, but maybe not assign so much importance to it as A Thing I Do or as part of my identity.

Please note that the irony that I am writing about nutrition and exercise given my fondness for pizza and Taco Bell is not lost on me.



A Lot of Words about Food

Ed and I just completed a round of whole30 and if there’s one takeaway I really am like Oprah in that I love bread.

For the uninitiated, whole30 isn’t a diet per se, but a way to rethink your relationship with food and sort of detox, but┬ánot in a strict calorie-counting way. For 30 days we eliminated dairy, legumes, carbs/flour/grains, sugar, and – wait for it – alcohol. Ed was smart enough to buy the official program cookbook, and thank god the man can cook because there are no short cuts; I am now making a modified (but very tasty!) ranch dressing from scratch to avoid the sugar and dairy in store-bought. Black coffee or most teas are fine and that really brought into focus that a.) I do not care for black coffee and b.) I was drinking a shitload of coffee each day, piled high with sugar and half-and-half. Cutting out booze was actually the easiest thing, even for winos like us, but did affect our social lives as I just didn’t feel like going to a bar so that I could sip water and not eat pub food. Actually, we’ve only eaten two meals out in the last month, which means more money for things like redecorating our living room. Yes, we have filled the carb-shaped holes in our life with throw pillows and floating shelves. You can take away my pinot but not my bougie tendencies.

One of the biggest mental revelations was how much more organized we had to be/have become. No more impulse Round Table Pizza deliveries when we felt tired; we (OK, Ed mostly because he is a little pickier) had to meal plan and prep and shop each weekend. Lunches had to be packed the night before. We started using our evenings to organize our home, instead of just plop on the couch with a bottle of wine (although there’s still some couch-plopping with LaCroix water because The West Wing isn’t going to re-watch itself, friends). The lack of caffeine/sugar highs and lows has led to some stellar productivity at work, too.

Physically, the changes were slower to manifest. The 30 day kickoff coincided with a new running program; your girl is now training for a 10k! I figured my healthy-eating-well-hydrated self would be a superstar, but it turns out some carbs really are needed for that long-term energy. I’m actually struggling a lot with increasing my distance and find I’m worn out way earlier in a run than I should be, which is discouraging. I need to find ways to incorporate good carbs back into my diet so I can get out there and enjoy running again. And then there’s the weight issue. The program discourages weighing yourself during the 30 days and to focus more on overall well-being, how clothes fit, and energy level. I was straight-up pissed when weight started melting off Ed almost immediately, while I felt I looked the same. About two weeks in, a pair of jeans I wear all the time felt a little baggy so I gave in and weighed myself: I had lost at least 10 pounds since starting, and 15 since the beginning of the year. I’m wearing jeans – comfortably – that haven’t fit in a year, and friends say that I look different, although I don’t quite see it yet.

From a sociological standpoint, this has been absolutely fascinating. Food – and sharing a meal together – is such a huge part of our culture and how we bond, and when I had to decline invitations (with a quick but firm explanation) it really bothered a lot of people. So many “Can’t you make an exception?” and “One slice of pizza won’t kill you!” with the always fun suggestion of “Why don’t you come with us and not eat?” The quick answers to each are “Of course I could but I don’t want to,” “I should hope it wouldn’t,” and “Nah, I’m good.” A few people would make comments about being good vs bad and that sure as hell brought up a lot of feelings for me. One, I wasn’t trying to be some martyr or be “good” or prove anything to anyone else. This was about my health and getting my body back to a place where I was caring for it rather than hating it. I have zero opinion on what everyone else wanted to eat and drink, and yet there were daily comments on what I was or wasn’t eating. Second, I have spent a decent chunk of time and brainspace getting away from assigning my eating habits and food choices as “good” or “bad” and I really didn’t want to fall down that rabbit hole again.

Now that the 30 days are up, we’ve decided we’d like to keep going, but maybe allow for some exceptions on weekends (i.e. occasional dinners out) since we like how we feel and we’re eating delicious meals so why not? I do need to get more involved in the meal planning and prep so this isn’t solely Ed’s burden, as well as research the best ways to get my energy up for my longer distance runs.

In related news, I could go for a bagel right now.