Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Thanksgiving Time!

It's probably no surprise that I don't like Thanksgiving. all....

BUT like a good little 'Murican I celebrate with the best of em and contrary to popular belief, I also eat. Not a lot. But I do eat. Last year we went meat free which was awesomely impressive, particularly for my carnivorous and not at all interested in changing her ways mother. This year I'm not so lucky but that's ok.

The menu is planned, at least on my part and a big thanks to GreenBEAN Delivery for helping me with that part. Basically what happened is this. We usually get our bin on Tuesdays but the holiday changed the schedule so we got it Monday. With a Tuesday delivery I have until Monday afternoon to "customize" my bin, meaning replacing things I might not like for whatever I want. Well since everything shifted up a day I missed my chance to customize and ended up with what they gave me. Well done GreenBEAN because we hit a nice little Thanksgiving jackpot! Yams, Cranberries, Potatoes and the like.

So, what do vegetarians make for Thanksgiving?

Acorn Squash
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potato Muffins

The muffins make a lovely breakfast and the squash makes a wonderful and hearty main course surrounded by the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce! Those are the foods I'm responsible for but my mom is usually good for some mac and cheese, deviled eggs and a bean dip appetizer.

I'm one of the lucky few who does not overeat and that's what I should be really thankful for. So many people struggle this time of year and I totally understand why. But as the saying goes, "Worry about what you eat between Christmas and Thanksgiving, not Thanksgiving and Christmas." It's true that it doesn't take much to sabotage your healthy eating habits and weight loss goals but keep in mind that there are a lot more meals throughout the year and if you're getting those meals right, it's ok to indulge (just a little!) for a few weeks.

I'm setting my food issues aside as best I can and (following doctor's orders of course) going to enjoy eating a holiday meal with my family. I'm also particularly excited about listening to Christmas music tomorrow night! Yep, I've managed to avoid it this year until after Thanksgiving and can happily overdose on it for a few weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Shutting it Down

I came here to write my very last blog post.

This will  not be my last blog post, but I did have a bad moment an hour ago.

Allow me to explain.

Do you remember this post when I explained the ever-present inferiority complex I often find myself battling? Well it's been rearing its head more and more often lately and I'm blaming the stress fracture (which is hurting less and less each day! hooray!). Today was a bad moment. After spending most of my afternoon watching Ironman videos and putting a mere 20 minutes in on the bike I was feeling down. I've been obsessing over Ironman Louisville for the past couple of weeks which you likely know if we're friends IRL. For some reason it crept into my brain that I should go for it in 2014 instead of my original plan of 2016...which turned into 2015.

Long story short, I've asked my lovely friends and family repeatedly to talk me out of it. Tell me why I shouldn't do the Ironman! I even googled it. Nothing seemed to work, no answer was good enough. Other than the one in my head, that I couldn't do it. I wasn't fast enough or fit enough or good enough. If my love of endurance sports has taught me anything, it's that none of those things matter and more importantly, none of them are true. But what does matter and what is true is being able to convince yourself. It's ok to say you're crazy or you're slow. It's even ok to say you aren't fit enough...yet. But "I can't do it" is the recipe for self sabotage. Until you can convince yourself that the goal isn't too big, it always will be too big.

I'm not ready for the Ironman. Not yet. I desperately want to be but in the same way it took me years before a second marathon seemed reasonable I'm not going to rush another monumental goal. I'm not going to downplay Raleigh like I've been doing. Raleigh is good enough and I guarantee it will be a challenge. I spend too much time playing with comparisons. Raleigh is my race, just like every other race is. I have never raced for anyone else and it's not time to start doing it now.

The Colonel is great with me during these moments when I'm sulking that 70.3 isn't a big enough goal. That anyone can do it. That the people who are proud of doing it are all faster than me and fitter than me and better than me. They're allowed to be proud of themselves. But not me. He took me into our office/spare bedroom/Chloe the Cat's bedroom and showed me every one of my medals on my hanger. He grabbed the first one on the end and I immediately smiled. The Disney Princess Half Marathon! I told him all about the race. Talked about the trip, meeting Ali from The Biggest Loser, the humidity, pictures of Mulan, the works. He moved over to the next one. Oh. My. Gosh! The Ohio River Open Water Swim! Again, I recapped it, laughing and even feeling that drop in my stomach from remembering how I felt stepping into the water. We continued on in the same fashion, picking up a medal and me smiling and talking all about the race. I even got to reminisce on my very first 10k, how hard it felt, how fun it was to make that turn into the finish, to be the person running the longer distance race for the first time and I was happy with the memories. That is why I race. Racing is about the experience. My experience.

So I'm going to continue blogging, even if nobody reads. I'm going to continue to make a big, silly fuss over my plans and my accomplishments even if they seem small to everyone else. Even though I'm slow. Even though I'm not the most fit. Even though I'm crazy.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Updates on the Leg

I'm sure you're all wondering how my leg is doing and my food issues and whether or not I'm still alive. I'm happy to clear it all up for you! I am in fact, alive. I have missed blogging but with the no running thing I'm low on material.
Perfected carrying all my crap into the gym!
I've done some "aqua jogging" exactly twice so far and it's not as bad as it seems. It's only mildly terrible. Although I've only done it for 30 minutes each time. If I decide to get an hour or so in, things might be different. So far it's been a combo of swimming and then running since I've yet to allow myself more than an hour at a time at the pool. I know, I'm super lazy during the "off season". I'm going to try cycling this weekend or next week. I'm allowed to do whatever doesn't hurt so we'll give it a try and see. Before I knew I had the stress fracture I rode my bike a lot in place of running because it didn't hurt so I'm going to give it a whirl again. I've only been crutched up for just over a week but I can already tell things are getting better. It had gotten to the point that I felt a little pain in my leg all the time. Even just laying on the couch I knew it wasn't right although it may not have been particularly painful. Just from not using it at all for a week I've eliminated most of the noticeable pain which is awesome. I put weight on it from time to time when I'm brushing my teeth or in the shower and even then there's no pain. I won't be walking on it for some time but we'll see if a little cycling movement makes it hurt or not. I'm going to start with just 10 minutes easy spinning and then see how it feels after 24 hours or so before I do more. I do still have pain primarily when I'm sitting and the pressure from the chair on the backside of my leg aggravates it. That's sort of the tell tale sign of a stress fracture so I'm not surprised by that.

As far as the food issues. Well, you could say they're getting better. A lot of it is a mental game which is the hardest kind in my opinion. I'm upping the calories and trying to eat more but it's exhausting. I'm working hard not to be consumed with thoughts of food and calories but it's hard. I'm also trying not to let the pound and a half I've gained bother me too much. It fluctuates but I know I've gained at least a pound which I have to constantly remind myself isn't that big of a deal. On the one hand, gaining a little tells me I actually am increasing my calories which is good and the extra weight will likely fall off pretty quickly once I start ramping up my activity again. But then I have my fat brain which is terrified of the slippery slope and convinced one little pound will grow by 34 tomorrow morning. It's a delicate balance. I have to constantly try to look at it reasonably, first, it's seriously just a pound. It isn't actually 35. Second my clothes still fit, in fact better than ever. I'm in the grown up equivalent to the size I wore in college (7-juniors then, 8-grown up lady now) and that's awesome. So in addition to just eating more which is extremely difficult, I'm looking into vitamins and supplements that might stimulate some bone growth to avoid having this little issue again.

Making lunch time more fun by watching White Collar
 I also have very little soreness or fatigue in my upper body from using crutches like I was expecting. This isn't my first rodeo on them and I have memories of ridiculous soreness through my arms, back and shoulders and huge bruises under my arms from where I'd get tired and lean too much. Even my forearms hurt! And that was only for a week! So 6 weeks sounded tough but I really don't have any of those feelings this time which makes me super excited to be in such better shape. I do notice when I'm swimming that my arms are a little tired even when I first start and the next day I might have some extra muscle fatigue hanging around but it's nothing new and nothing worse than how I feel after arm day with my sister. Looks like I've been doing something right!

Someone's excited I'm staying off my leg more...
So tell me, what are your words of wisdom for getting some more calories? Please nothing like "eat a burger" or something. I'm talking quality, meatless calories. Any shakes or vitamins that you're a fan of?

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Verdict

If you follow me on instagram or twitter (yes, I've just learned how to use instagram and twitter) then you pretty much already know what the verdict is. Turns out that mysterious pain in my leg I've been complaining about yet ignoring for months is a femoral stress fracture. What does that mean? No weight bearing for 6 weeks (December 23rd) which means crutches and no running, walking or cycling.

Now that I've had time to digest the news I'd say I'm doing ok. Probably slightly under par. I am doing the stay positive thing and as much positive self talk as I can stomach and for the most part it's ok. I smile and am overly chipper throughout the day to keep the spirits up but by nighttime it all sort of rolls in and I just wanna stomp my feet and cry. I don't stomp, since that would just make things worse but I do sometimes get all teary and huffy and witchy.

Let's do a brief recap. Last Monday I had the initial appointment with the ortho and was scheduled for an MRI that Wednesday. That Wednesday morning I get a call canceling my MRI because it was scheduled at the wrong office. Thursday I get a call from the correct office and schedule my MRI for this past Monday. I get all dressed up at the MRI place and lay freezing on a table with headphones and a bad blanket for 40 minutes. This past Wednesday I went in for my follow up, get the news and head home on crutches. Yesterday was frustrating but today things are better.

I'm not too grumpy about being crutched up until nighttime. But don't they say everything's worse at night? That's usually when I'm just tired and my brave smiling face wears off. It doesn't help that I'm hardly home in the evenings before it's time to pack my bag(s) for the next morning and go to bed.

But my dear Colonel has put up with me like a champ. I was worried he would be too protective and want me to stop everything but he's been nothing but supportive and even went as far as to carry my packed swimming bags to my car for me last night so I wouldn't have to take so many trips in the morning. If he (we) has learned anything in the past couple of years it's that I may be tired and grumpy but I'm even worse when I don't get to take it out on myself. My success is measured by sweat.

In the meantime, I have to figure out a time to do my worldly thinking and internal blog writing since that was all previously done during those runs I loved and the ones I didn't feel like doing. I'm not a good enough swimmer to think and swim BUT I tried my hand at aqua jogging this morning per Coach Mike's recommendation and it went pretty well...I think. Once I get the hang of it maybe I can get some long thoughts in then. I feel like I've got a lot of exciting things in the cue right now but I haven't had the time to sit down and write/think them out. Hopefully I'll get back to being more regular soon. But if you simply can't get enough of me and waiting on me to finish one of my 13 blog drafts is excruciating, seriously head over to instagram and twitter and follow me. If you're not following me you're missing out on wonderful tidbits like my thoughts on the newest Superman, crutchin' to the gym, my cuddly cat and of course, what I'm eating.

So tell me, any thoughts about aqua jogging? Have you done it?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Food Issues and the Female Athlete Triad

This is a post that I've written and re-written, started and re-started about a hundred times but I think the recent developments in my injured status have sort of brought things to light and I feel like now is as good a time as ever to open up just a bit on this blog with something personal and probably something that effects more people than would like to admit it.

I can't say that I have or have ever had an eating disorder but I can confidently say that I have had and may still have a pattern of disordered eating. For anyone who isn't familiar with the term, there are a billion different definitions of who a "disordered eater" is but for my purposes I refer to myself as such because I do not eat like I would say a "normal" person does. It has nothing to do with being a vegetarian and it's not that I just don't eat. I also don't binge eat or have an obsession with healthy eating known as orthorexia. But I can't deny that I don't like to eat or activities that are centered around food (which so many American activities are), I feel some sense of guilt when I eat foods that aren't "good", and congratulate myself for "good eating" days. I've also been known to berate myself for "bad eating" moments.

This Hungry Runner Girl post and this one too does an excellent job of explaining something called the Female Athlete Triad. In a nutshell the triad is made up of three pretty serious conditions that result in decreased performance in the form of things like stress fractures and frequent injuries or fatigue. The triad consists of:
  1. Disordered Eating - Basically abnormal eating habits (eating too little for the amount of exercise being done included) and excessive exercise leading to the body not receiving enough nutrients.
  2. Menstrual Dysfunction - AKA abnormal or completely absent periods resulting from physical stress (excessive exercise), poor nutrition (undereating), or low percentage of body fat (not a problem I have although I did lose a significant amount of body fat in a relatively short period of time).
  3. Osteoporosis - Or as my high school gym teacher called it, "Osteo-bone-disease". Just like Dr. Smith said, lack of menstrual cycle halts the production of certain female hormones necessary in ensuring bone health. 
Put those things together and you get the triad and start down a bad path full of lingering pains and injuries, fatigue and fitness setbacks.

When I first started my journey to lose weight I was adamant about doing it right. I'd seen my sister and numerous other young girls and women in my life take the "cottage cheese only for 6 months" approach to weight loss and while it works to a degree it's completely unsustainable. I'd never had weight problems in my life until I was old enough to luckily understand a little bit about how the body worked so I sort of knew better. That didn't stop me from developing really unhealthy food habits. I wasn't so severe that I would binge and purge but I did restrict. I did go the route of "No chips (or other "bad" foods) EVER!" and would punish myself through exercise and internal insults when I would "slip up". When I first noticed my weight gain 3 years ago, I jumped into skipping meals and made a habit of not eating all day so that I could eat dinner with my then boyfriend (turned husband) without feeling guilty and without him knowing that I was restricting calories. Not eating does not lead to weight loss. I continued to gain through my diet of processed foods until I'd fallen into a pretty deep depression. I've struggled with depression my entire life so although this wasn't a new feeling, it had a new cause and that didn't make it any easier to get over.

Like many challenges, things had to get worse before they'd get better. At one point things had gotten so bad that I would eat snacks in the bathroom at work so that no one would see the tears streaming down my face because I was so disappointed in myself for even being hungry. This was during the time I was trying to track my food and calories to lose weight. I knew that food more than exercise impacted weight loss so while I worked out with some home DVDs during that time I honestly didn't have the energy to put in serious cardio time. I began taking doctor prescribed Vitamin D which you can read about here and it did wonders for increasing my energy. My increased energy lead to productivity which helped me to build some self confidence as I saw myself accomplishing things. I started cooking more and though I still had some hunger guilt I was able to overcome it most days and get into a much healthier state.

I won't say triathlon and running were the culprits but they were the reasons for my increased amounts of exercise. I love running and I love triathlon but I don't love eating. I had finally gotten to a comfortable weight and was proud of my achievements in fitness so I found a consistent food schedule that I have stuck with for a long time. The problem is that as my exercise increased, my food intake did not. Despite the Marathon Monster who demanded food, I became a pro at sticking to my schedule and ignoring hunger pangs that occurred outside of my normal eating hours. I continued losing for a few months before I hit a plateau with my weight and my menstrual cycle had stopped long before that. The problem was at that point I was happy with the weight I was at so the plateau and bodily changes didn't bother me enough to realize what was going on.

Fast forward and we end up here. The months of improper fueling have caught up to me and are causing me problems doing the very things I love to do and that have made me feel so healthy through this difficult time. Where I'm struggling now is with the idea of actually increasing my caloric intake. Yesterday I tracked what I ate which was difficult for me because I link tracking with the onslaught of my disordered eating but I started to see where the missing calories were. I noticed my daily lunch which seemed adequate to me is only 360 calories. The amount I eat throughout the day is fine for someone trying to lose or maintain weight but not if that person is as active as I am. If we look at it from a Weight Watchers perspective, I'm staying within my food points without taking into account my activity points. This morning was difficult for me as I got on the scale and saw I'd actually gained a couple of pounds. The logical side of my brain knows how silly it is to weigh yourself often and rely on that number for validation. The logical side of my brain knows that people can fluctuate between 5 pounds over 24 hours every single day. But it's hard for me to digest (like that play on words?) any kind of weight gain after I've been working so hard to lose.

I am so grateful for the outpouring of help from my fellow tri club members in particular regarding ways to increase my calories the right way. Last night I made my own naked burrito bowl with extra guacamole (Ole!) and this morning I added almond butter to my oatmeal which worked really well for some extra numbers and extra flavor. In the meantime if you have tricks for me to add a little more to my meals I would appreciate it very much. Please be respectful of me and anyone else you come across with any sort of food issue and keep snide or smartass comments to yourself (i.e. "Eat a burger!" or "I wish someone told me to eat more!"). Food issues are very difficult to deal with because unlike an alcoholic who can avoid a bar, everyone needs to see a kitchen.

Hopefully this has been some good information for everyone (men and women) and please leave some feedback on whether or not you think this type of thing is worth talking about. I'm here for you (sort of) and if you all think I should keep my blogging strictly to racing, training and pictures of my cats I'd be happy to consider obliging.

It's almost Friday friends so for those of us who don't work weekends, we're almost there!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Possible Stress Fracture Heard Around the World

I knew it was only a matter of time really before a big one hit but hopefully it's not as big as I'm afraid it will be.

Since I'm now an insured individual and the marathon is over I decided it was finally time to visit the ortho doc about this stupid leg pain. It's only been 2 months right? ...or 3... But I want to be in tip top shape before Raleigh so I made an appointment to get checked out. An hour and twenty minutes after my appointment time I was taken back to the little waiting room and threw on my pair of shorts I put in my purse so I wouldn't have to wear their terrible paper ones. I should've taken a picture. Work top and sweater with some gray short shorts. Hot stuff.

Dr. Smith came in (who I apparently saw in 2009 about my IT band after my first half) and was all sports analogies charismatic fit doctor I-won't-call-you-sweetheart-again-after-that-look-you-gave-me-but-I'll-still-call-you-things-like-champ-and-hotshot. He's actually a cool guy in the douchy cool guy way. The best part about the orthos is that they never judge you for waiting until after a big race to have things fixed. He asked how long I'd had pain and I said probably 2-3 months but I had a marathon to run. Instead of judgment he asked how it went. Dr. Smith, you're the best. He poked and prodded and then decided on an xray just to rule out a break or bone tumors (WHAT?!) and bet his house it would come back normal. He said he was really thinking quad strain or the dreaded femoral stress fracture. The xray came back clean and then he randomly (I thought) asked me about my menstrual cycle.


But if you're a female athlete, read on because this could effect you too.

I thought it was bizarre he asked me that but he's a doctor so I told him the truth (no nervous lying!). I probably never mentioned it here but up until September I hadn't had a regular period in over a year and went a good 8 to 10 months at least without having one at all. At first I thought it was awesome since I don't like or want kids but then I thought it was a little weird that I had nothing going on. Then I started to panic a bit and took about 150 pregnancy tests of varying brands at varying times which all came up thankfully negative. So like any good athlete who cares about their body, I ignored it and chalked it up to being evolutionarily challenged. (This is a joke I make about me and The Colonel since we don't have the urge to procreate.) Dr. Smith informed me that when your cycle stops it could be a sign of the reproductive system essentially shutting down for one reason or another which throws off female hormones which leads to a screwed up bone metabolism. Weak bones can equal stress fractures.

Well crap. So much for free birth control through slightly excessive exercise.


I consulted my dear friend Google for symptoms of quad strains vs. symptoms of femoral stress fractures and it wasn't pretty. Bone cancer did come up of course since it's the internet but luckily the X-Ray wrote that off. Everything I read about femoral stress fractures was right on and quad strain was close but not quite. 

I looked for causes and found a lot of information regarding nutrition. I started to worry my vegetarian diet was the culprit but that isn't so. Plus I asked the doctor who clarified it isn't necessarily what I eat, it's more a problem of quantity. I know from random days of tracking that I run a calorie deficit far too often but I never considered it to be THAT big of a deal. For example, marathon day my Garmin predicted I burned over 3000 calories. The meal I ate after was a sandwich from Jimmy Johns which runs around 680 calories. I can't remember what I had for dinner but I know it wasn't much because I wasn't hungry. I replaced a few hundred calories as I ran but the numbers alone don't lie. Huge deficit. Today I calculated what I ate yesterday and my trail run yesterday morning which burned a Garmin estimated 900+ calories. Turns out I ate about 1300 calories and burned over 900. Doesn't take a genius to see the issue with that. 

So. Now we wait. My MRI to confirm or deny a stress fracture/quad strain is Wednesday afternoon and next Wednesday I see the doctor again. If it is indeed a stress fracture it looks like crutches and a lot of swimming is in my future. For a quad strain we can look at physical therapy. Either way, no running for a while which broke my little "running an impromptu half marathon THIS Sunday" heart. Thankfully I do have Raleigh hovering around which has enabled me to keep the focus on getting better and will hopefully keep me from doing anything stupid like "an easy short run" in the meantime.

This is NOT how I was hoping to start my relationship with my new coach :(