Friday, December 23, 2016

All I Want for Christmas

Is my two front teeth. SO I got a gum graft today.

Earlier this year, I was told by my dentist to make an appointment with a periodontist asap because I was in danger of losing my bottom front teeth.

So I saw the periodontist in June. He recommended a gum graft in order to protect my teeth, because there was too much exposed bone beneath the gum line.

Let me explain how a gum graft works. After stabbing you in the mouth with giant needles of lidocaine four times (at least by the fourth time, you really aren't feeling ANYTHING), the periodontist then slices off tissue from the roof of your mouth (better let him know which side you prefer to chew on, because the side that he takes the tissue from is going to be unusable for at least a week), sutures it up so you don't have a gaping hole in your palate, and then sews that piece of tissue onto what's left of your gums to protect the exposed bone. He then stabs you one more time with lidocaine so that you at least have one more hour after the procedure is over to drive yourself home before intense pain sinks in. The whole process takes about 90 minutes, and you're awake the entire time. Meanwhile, you spend the following two weeks praying that the graft holds and new connective tissue starts growing (you assume it's going to be two weeks because that's when you have to go back to get the stitches out) so that you don't have to go through this misery again. That two weeks includes drooling all over yourself and probably taking most of your meals in liquid form.

Sexy, isn't it?

Anyway, after he explained all of this to me, the office assistant let me know they would need to receive a pre-authorization from my insurance company and that the process could take a while.

By "a while," they apparently meant six months. Now, I probably could have been more proactive in nagging my insurance company to provide the approval sooner, but... would YOU rush to get yourself a Frankenmouth as outlined above? Didn't think so.

bad teeth from eating disorder
You'd still be my friend even if my teeth look like this, right?
When the periodontist called me last week to let me know my pre-authorization had finally been granted, I paused. I really didn't think the days leading up to Christmas would be the best time to have this done, especially because I'm traveling to New Jersey and Pennsylvania next week to see my family. But over the course of the last few months, my employer had decided to change our insurance provider for 2017, meaning if I didn't get it done now, I'd have to wait for the new insurance company to provide authorization, which could take yet another six months. I also don't know how much of this procedure the new insurance company would cover, but my guess is that my employer is trying to cut costs and I'd be stuck with a larger bill if I waited.

So I had the surgery today. And now I regret it.

Because I can't have coffee for two weeks. (No, I don't count iced coffee or cold brew as coffee. Eww.) I actually can't have anything hot, which sucks because I'm headed to the arctic tundra next week.

Also, I tried quitting coffee earlier this year, and I didn't even make it a day. So this should be interesting.

I'm learning now what it's like to eat only for the purpose of staying alive. Trust me, food is bringing me absolutely no joy right now. Quite the fitting end to 2016 for me, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, December 16, 2016

DIY Gifts for Runners

If you know someone like me who must have #allthemedals, probably one of the most thoughtful things you can do for that person would be to help them solve the problem of what to do with those medals.

Let's face it, medals are pretty useless. Who decided that the award for completing a foot race should be a piece of jewelry that is way too big, too heavy, and too weird to wear the day after the event is over?

Medals are pretty good, however, at covering patches of bare wall in your house. You could hang your medals with a hammer and nail, easy enough - but that's boring. And puts a lot of holes in your wall.

You can also find medal hanging solutions at most race expos, but they'll generally run you $50 plus. I saw one vendor at my first runDisney expo during the Wine and Dine Half that sold a solution that would let you mount your medal, race bib, and a photo in one, which was awesome but had a hefty price tag of over $100! No thanks, I'd rather put that money towards running more races!

So I just bought a shadow box at Michael's craft store and made this myself for $20:

Disney Half Marathon running medals

This worked as a great way to commemorate our first runDisney race. But, as you may know, we've done quite a few more races in the last three years. So check out what we made this month with things you can get from Home Depot:

More Disney Half Marathon running medals

Here are the things you need for this project:

Wood stain
Galvanized pipe
Metallic spray paint (galvanized pipe is pretty dirty - clean it well, then spray the heck out of it)
Guy with a drill

Do I really need to give step by step instructions on how to make this? Just make sure you measure appropriately to be able to drill into your studs, you want to make sure it's well supported so you can add all of your fancy runDisney medals to it.

Here's the best part - mine is already looking pretty full, right? But if I start running again and need more space, the solution is super easy:

Disney Half Marathon running medals holder

I just need to unscrew the cap and add on another length of pipe! If I get an elbow fitting, I can really have this thing run all over my home office.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

See Cows

I've been taking a lot of morning walks while I figure out what I want to do with my life. Walking is pretty enjoyable, especially here on the Florida Gulf Coast now that it's bragging season. Dude, I get to see some cool things around here, too. I see dolphins pretty much every day. They're like the squirrels of the ocean to me now.

But manatees are NOT something I get to see every day, even though they came off the endangered species list earlier this year. So I was beyond delighted to see a mommy and baby manatee yesterday!

Actually, manatees are not that hard to photograph. They are huge and really slow and hang out in shallow water. I'm just a terrible photographer.

I was lucky enough to get up close and personal with manatees when I went scuba diving in Crystal River a few years ago and learned that they are pretty curious about people. I was going to put my tank on in the water, so I threw my dive gear over the side of the boat - and within 30 seconds, a manatee poked his nose above the water to sniff it. During my dive, others allowed me to pet them. One even rolled over for belly rubs.

So, yeah, I had to restrain myself from jumping in the water to go cuddle the baby manatee. Good thing I saw something else that distracted me:

Manatees seen while running

Pikachu wearing a Santa hat is pretty much the cutest thing in the Pokémon Go universe.

So I put him in a gym. Normally, that would be flawed strategy because he's kind of weak and super easy to defeat. But I figured other players would leave him alone because he's so damn cute, and I could hold the gym and earn lots of Pokécoins over the next few weeks:

Santa Hat Pikachu seen while running

Really, what sadistic a-hole is going to go in and beat up on Pika Claus?

The bullies from Team Valor, of course. They didn't even let me leave the park before they took over.

Pokemon Go seen while running

snook74,  I wish Pokémon Go had in-game messaging, because I have some choice words for you. But I suppose the only thing I can do is take down any gym I see you at in the future. Who's with me?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Slay, Belle

Two Christmas parties. In the same day.

For a socially anxious introvert that works from home and may now be slightly agoraphobic... well, that's a fate worse than death. 

My super charming and extroverted husband has secured his spot in our new community, earning us invites to multiple holiday soirees. It's been a while since I've had to put my social game face on. 

Man, this means I'm going to have to find something to wear that isn't a runDisney race t-shirt and yoga pants. Should I bring a gift? Bake something? Can I bring my dog? Show them just how inappropriate I can be with a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity? Can I leave early? Can I come up with a good excuse not to go?

I don't know. Maybe Siri knows. 

I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. There just isn't enough alcohol in the world to get me through the day.

Maybe I'm thinking about this all wrong. Maybe this is exactly what I need right now. Maybe I'll meet someone that can help me figure out what I want to do with my life. Or become a new running buddy. Or at least go see Rogue One with me when it comes out next week.

You totally got this, Nicole. 

Imma go get my Christmas on. In the meantime, here's something I found at CVS:


Really, they can just brand anything Star Wars now, and people like me will buy it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bucket List

I met someone on Friday night who had run Ragnar Florida Keys in the past, and she informed me - to my dismay - that I might have missed my shot at ever doing this relay race. Apparently, the residents of the area got tired of the race and denied Ragnar the permit to do it last year. It caused a big shit show for Ragnar because teams had already registered, booked flights, etc. The race still shows up on the website as "Coming Soon" but who knows if "soon" will be during my lifetime.

She is doing a Ragnar Trail relay here near Tampa next weekend. The trail relays are a little different in that you camp out instead of sleep in vans like you do for the road relays. My only experience with trail racing was pretty miserable, so I think I'll pass on Ragnar trail runs. I'd still like to do at least one more relay at some point in my future, though. Ragnar Napa Valley might be cool.

If running and I ever become friends again, I've got a pretty long list of bucket list races I'd like to hit.
  • Ragnar (any) - see above. Of course, I'll need a team to be able to do this, so I'm not thinking this is going to be my first option out of running retirement. 
  • Princess Half - a women's run at Disney World, usually held in February. 
  • Tinkerbell Half - the Princess Half counterpart at Disneyland, only it's cooler because A. it's at Disneyland and get a PANDORA medal. Oh, and if I do both the Tinkerbell Half and the Princess Half in the same calendar year, I'll get a special pink Coast to Coast challenge medal!
  • Dopey Challenge - a back-to-back 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon at Disney World. You get SIX medals for doing this. And here I thought I was cool with my four medals earned doing the Avengers Half last month. Of course, I have to run a full marathon to earn these medals, and I've never done that before. 
  • Disneyland Paris Half - I'm just adding this to the list because if I do a Disney race in the states and then do one here in the same calendar year, I'll get the "Castle to Chateau" medal!
  • Hot Chocolate - this race must have been invented for me. They just brought a hot chocolate run to Tampa, which is in two weeks, but Imma wait on this one. My only worry here is that I'll get too distracted by the chocolate and won't actually finish the race. 
  • Rock n Roll Las Vegas - Running the Vegas strip at night sounds awesome, but night races are challenging because they start after my bed time. 
Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon running
Note runDisney still will be taking most of my money in future races. Maybe I never should have done that first race...

If you've run any of the above, how was it? Leave a comment and let me know which one I should register for first after my break from running.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Identity Crisis

2016 is the worst, isn't it?

I'd be way excited that we're in the last month of the year, but frankly, I'm not all that optimistic for 2017 either. I had some time to go back and read a few things I wrote around this time last year. My god, was I naive. I need to be much more analytical about how I do things from here on out.

I've quit running, which was my intention all along for 2016 as shared in my very first blog post. Resolution achieved I guess? I was just hoping to do it after I hit a personal record. I don't think I'm done with races forever - I still think about running the "Dopey Challenge" (a back to back 5k, 10k, half, and full marathon at Disney World) and a Ragnar Florida Keys (if I can get my American Odyssey Relay teammates to think about coming down this way. Or find 11 new willing mental patients to join me).

But I'm going to wait until inspiration strikes before I break out my running shoes again. It might be a while.

So now I find myself with a lot more free time and nothing to fill it with, which has given me exceptional clarity into how much of my identity was tied to hard core fitness routines over the last 15 years. I'm having a hard time thinking of what could fill this void going forward.

I've taken to crowdsourcing ideas, so if you've got one for me, leave a comment. So far, things like knitting, sewing, and quilting seem to be popular responses. It seems as if the only things out there for me are old lady hobbies.

Old lady hobbies don't include running
We're both short and old.
And I guess I have to be ok with that. At this point in my life, I can't expect to pick up a new skill and eventually become the best in the world at it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


I'm trying to take some time to enjoy this week. I just remember the constant feeling of wonder and excitement this time of year used to bring about in my early childhood - before my parents' divorce, of course. Trick or treating. Thanksgivings at home with Mom and Dad. My grandparents driving all the way up to New Jersey from Florida to spend time with me. So awesome.

I don't know what it is about my childhood that I can't let go. I've certainly spent more of my life without the wonder than with it at this point.

I read something about procrastination (it ties into this, I promise) - that procrastinators put things off because there's pain associated with the thing that we don't want to do. But procrastinators treat life as if there's an endless supply of time. And by putting something off, we're causing ourselves the greatest pain - loss of time.

SO here's what this has to do with my childhood. I put off committing to healthier habits because I associate things like pumpkin pie and gingerbread with this time of year. I must indulge in order to try to recapture that childhood wonder. I can always commit after the holidays, right?

Let the procrastination flow through you

But it's just that sentiment that keeps me in a body I'm unhappy with. So many things are causing me pain here - avoiding the indulgence causes me severe Christmas FOMO. But submitting to temptation is just another reason I'm unable to run a sub 2 half marathon.

The solution is obvious - the sooner I realize that food isn't going to make me feel like Santa Claus is bringing me a Nintendo and a puppy, the happier I'm going to be.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Super Heroes Half Marathon Ranking

I need to jot some notes here about the Avengers half marathon before it all escapes my memory. Has it already been two weeks since I last ran? Geez, life. Slow down a bit, would you?

So I ran it faster than I did the Star Wars Dark Side half in April, but I don't attribute it to any improvement in ability. I just had a better idea of what I was capable of this time around, and didn't hold anything back when the starting gun sounded. Also, I walked away from this race uninjured. Er... I didn't feel any more pain than usual lingering from April's stress fracture. Hurray for achieving the most underwhelming goal I've ever set for myself.

Here's my new ranking of half marathons I've raced, updated from last May:

6: Star Wars Dark Side Challenge: Orlando, FL

I expended a ton of physical and emotional energy in trying to assure this race would be my best ever, only to end up with my worst time. And an injury that still haunts me. This race made me realize that the Disney World races are just not as cool as the Disneyland races. Disney World is so big that in order to get you from the start to the finish in 13.1 miles, you get to spend very little race time in each of the parks - most of the course is on overpasses in between the parks. Disneyland is small enough that you get to spend significant race time in the parks, AND the city of Anaheim participates in a big way too (see #1 and #3 below).

And all of mile 11 at Disney World was uphill. Not cool, Disney.

When I last created these rankings, I predicted that the Avengers Half at Disneyland - no matter what happened - would be better than the Dark Side Half. And I was right.

5: Rock and Roll Half: Philadelphia, PA

My time of 2:02 was decent enough, but I was so freaking bored. This race had no loops or clover leafs, and city roads were closed off, which made it impossible for race supporters to cheer you on. It was great to see my husband at mile 3-ish, but I really could have used a familiar face around miles 10-12. There was also a killer hill at the end. Dislike.

3 (TIE): Wine and Dine Half: Orlando, FL AND Avengers Half: Anaheim, CA

So here's the deal... The Wine and Dine Half was awesome not so much for the race itself, but for the incredible after-party. The ability to take over Epcot until the wee hours of the morning (4am) made it all worthwhile, and got me thinking I might even be able to do a full marathon if it was at Disney. BUT since I did this race in 2013, Disney has made some changes. The Wine and Dine Half is no longer a night race. So if you had to choose one over the other in the future, I would say the Avengers Half is now going to be the better race.

The Avengers course was fun, especially for all of those super photogenic people that got to take their pictures with Spiderman, Hawkeye, and Thor. I actually don't own a single photo from the race, and can't even find a race GoPro video like I have in the past, so enjoy this photo I stole from the Disney Photopass site:

Disney Avengers Half Marathon running

Disneyland is a much smaller resort than Disney World - so you get to run the first 6 miles through the parks, and then you are out in the streets of Anaheim. Mile 9 brought us into Angels Stadium, and we got to run across the baseball field as a DJ announced our names over the stadium speakers. And - because I had run the Dr. Strange 10k the day before AND ran a half marathon at Disney World in Orlando in the same calendar year - I walked away from this race with FOUR medals!!

The only reason this race doesn't earn a higher ranking from me is because it now holds my second worst race record ever.

2: Unite Half Marathon: Piscataway, NJ

This was my first half marathon - decently priced, close to home, and had a great course that clover-leafed around the starting line so I had lots of spectator support throughout the race (thanks to my father and stepmother). My family also were easily able to get to the finish line through some back roads. This race gets a bump too because it holds my best record.

1: Star Wars Half Marathon: Anaheim, CA

Shocking, right? Like I mentioned about the Super Heroes Half, races at Disneyland keep you in the parks for the first 6 miles, and then you are out running the streets of Anaheim. We didn't get to run through Angels Stadium for this race, but it didn't matter - the entertainment was even better once we left the park. High school marching bands and cheerleaders lined the streets, along with members of the 501st. I don't know if this has been the case every year, or maybe the one I did was extra special because it was the inaugural race. If you ran it in 2016, let me know if it was just as cool!

People show up in the best costumes at these Star Wars races. There were certainly some good costumes at the Super Heroes half (including a girl dressed as my hero, Quicksilver), I think the Star Wars races bring out a whole different breed of running nerds that set the bar pretty high.

So there you have it. Six half marathons in the books. Maybe that's enough for one lifetime.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


If you only think about what you are thankful for this one day each year, buddy, you're doing life all wrong.

I've (re)added a new habit to my daily routine over the last few weeks. This is something I keep coming back to when I feel my anxiety spiraling out of control, and it really makes a difference in how I approach each day. I'm not sure why I even occasionally fall out of practice with this... I think I just get too overwhelmed sometimes and forget this is a helpful weapon in my anti-anxiety arsenal.

Here's what I do: Upon waking every morning, before I even roll out of bed, I think about three things I'm grateful for. Those three thoughts are typically the same every single day, in the following order because that's how I become aware of their existence in my slowly waking state:

  1. "Man, do I have a comfortable bed. I am so lucky to wake up every morning thinking I've just had the best sleep of my life, and even though I can't bear to part with it, I know the bed is going to be there when I'm ready to go back to sleep at night. I'm so glad I get to sleep, and sleep well, because it helps me be a healthy human being."
  2. "I have the snuggliest cuddle monster of a dog, and yes, he may be snoring like a chainsaw right now, but that just confirms he's alive and well, and here to help me get through another day."
  3. "I've got a husband that thinks I'm even more awesome than an oreo baked inside a chocolate chip cookie,  and treats me like a princess despite all of my shenanigans."
Han Solo and Princess Leia
And nobody points a finger at this princess.
Occasionally, I'll think of other things I'm grateful for. Like the fact that we get some pretty awesome holidays here in the states, and I'm grateful my employer gives me the time off of work to spend them with my family. Or that I've got a kitchen full of nutritious food, and I'm not going to be hungry today. Or that I get to live in my own personal paradise while my friends are watching a football game in thundersnow... and yes, I may be envious that they get to watch the football game, but thundersnow.

I could go on about all the things I feel so fortunate to have in my life, but I think I'm walking a fine line here between information sharing and bragging.

Besides, the point is that going through this exercise reminds me that - even on my worst days - life is pretty damn good.

I'm sure everyone can think of three things they are grateful for, even in what seems like the most difficult of times. Leave a comment if you'd like to share what your three things are. You might just help someone who is struggling right now brainstorm something they wouldn't have otherwise thought of.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Two months ago, I retired.

But it turns out I have more to say. So let's just hit ctrl alt del on this and give it a restart, shall we?

8 days ago, I ran another half marathon during Super Heroes weekend at Disneyland.

No, I didn't run it in under 2 hours. I'd love to tell you exactly what happened, but I'm pretty sure Disney would never let me run another race again, so my lips are sealed.

Avenger Half Marathon Running
I did add 4 more race medals to my collection, so that was cool.

Running is kind of supposed to be over for me now. Except... I'm addicted.

It's not enough for me to have a Coast to Coast challenge medal... I gotta have the special pink edition Coast to Coast medal for running both the Princess and Tinkerbell half marathons in the same calendar year.

While in CA, I also learned about the "Castle to Chateau" medal one can earn by running a half marathon at one of the U.S. Disney parks and a second half marathon at Disneyland Paris.

Must... have... all... the... medals.

Just not necessarily in 2017.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure nobody's listening anymore, but whaddya say... give me another chance?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The End

365 days ago, I registered for the Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Challenge, resolved to make it my last race ever, and determined to finally PR my half marathon by running it in under two hours. I started this blog to document my progress and named it "Run to the Dark Side."

I didn't know a year ago exactly how appropriate my blog title was going to be.

Every day for seven months, I'd write about what my training for the day looked like, what I ate, how I slept, what I learned. I couldn't wait for my "Danielsan" moment... you know, "Show me 'wax on, wax off'," and holy shit, I know karate! Er... how to run... you know what I mean.

Karate Kid wax on, wax off Danielsan moment

But there was no Danielsan moment for me.

And last April, what was supposed to be the best race of my life turned out to be the worst.

I should have probably put a nice, clean closure to the end of this blog back then but something kept me going for a little while longer. Because it wasn't all horrible. There was one time where I thought maybe I could be a healthy/normal human being, or this other time when I learned I DO have control over my food problems.

But despite these small breakthroughs, it feels like I'm trying to move a mountain, and progress looks like this:

Penguins running with pebbles
It's especially tough to move mountains when sometimes I mess up and put the pebble back where I found it.
And there's nothing motivational about any of this. So I stopped making daily updates. Through it all, I can't help but feel that the real lesson to be learned from my story is as follows:

Just because you will it to be won't make it so.

Alright, I do know deep down inside that there can't be success without failure. Even one of my greatest heroes, Walt Disney, knew the pain of failure.

Will I run again? I've still got the Avengers half in November, so I can't hang up the running shoes yet. But my only goal for it at this point is to walk away from the race uninjured.

Will I write again? Perhaps. This isn't my first failed blog. Some of you have come with me from prior failed blogs, and I thank you for that. For those of you that are new, know that I won't send you back to any of the others - we only go forward from here. This blog will live on, collecting some cobwebs in the corner of the web, for at least the next two years that I own the domain... so if there's anything I've linked to that you might have found helpful, you may want to bookmark it directly.

Until the next project presents itself, you can follow me on twitter or snapchat for occasional updates, or email me anytime.

Thanks for running to the dark side with me.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Blogroll the last

A shining new era is tiptoeing nearer.

Bonus points if you know what song those lyrics come from.

Here's what I've been reading lately:

Train Like an Athlete:
  • Quitting running is the right thing to do for some people.
  • I can spend 30 minutes each day walking, especially now that they released the buddy feature in Pokemon Go.
Eat Like an Athlete: 
Think Like an Athlete: 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I've got a fever

And the only prescription is more pumpkin.

I typically feel a twinge of depression this time of year - the back-to-school blues, ya know? Except I haven't had to go back to school for quite some time now. I think the shorter days and colder weather always got me down, too. But now that I don't have to acknowledge the "unofficial end of summer" anymore since I moved to Florida, I'm not really feeling all that sad.

Can't be sad when it's PUMPKIN TIME!!!

I wrote about my infatuation with pumpkin last year, and it hasn't really dissipated in the last twelve months. I've been feeling the pumpkin twitch since the week before my birthday. Every day since August 23rd that I stopped into Starbucks, I'd ask if they had #PSL just in case... always denied. (The Hilton SBux next to my old apartment building made them for me super early last year. I miss that place).

Seriously, what's this guy's beef?? It's NEVER too early for pumpkin. 

I can rank order every pumpkin coffee within a twelve mile radius of my home, but I'm not going to do that here because then I would have to divulge exactly how much pumpkin I've had in the last ten days, and that could be slightly embarrassing. But I've got my list, based on pumpkiny-ness, availability of dairy alternatives, cost, and whether I can tell if I'm drinking coffee or not. 

Sorry, clean eating. Maybe I'll see you again in January. 

Oh, I still otherwise eat really reasonably these days. I'm wondering why this guy isn't a billionaire and why he gives away the secret to not binge eating. Or maybe he already is a billionaire and that's why he gives it away? I'm thinking I might just send him a personal handwritten thank-you note.

My running blog has been sparse on content about running as of late. I still do that occasionally. And see cool things:

Sunrise running

I also saw not just one, but TWO friendly cats down near the marina on my running route. One ran off a little too quickly after saying hello, but this one decided to be my pacer for a while:

Sunrise running buddy

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Happy Eats

When I started the blog almost a year ago, I included stats at the end of each post about what I ate and how I trained in the event anybody had suggestions or guidance on what I could be doing better in order to meet my sub 2:00 half marathon goal.

Those that were following along back then probably noted there wasn't a whole lot of variation in my day-to-day or week-to-week meal plan. I tend to stick to the same foods because I approach food the same way I do everything else in the day - get it done and over with and move on to the next thing.

I'm pretty content with the way I eat, but I've been looking for ways to break up the routine a bit. So I was really excited to be offered a two-week free trial to PlateJoy, a new healthy menu planning service, as part of their Ambassador program. (Oh, and I get to offer a $10 discount to readers. You can stop reading here if you are only interested in the discount - just click the image below and use code "Run2016" when checking out*).

This is the first meal planning service that I know about that creates a customized meal plan based on your specific needs. Here's how it works:
  1. Take a short quiz so they know who you are, who else you have to feed, if you have weight-loss goals, how you prefer to eat (gluten free? paleo? ketogenic? whole 30? low fat? vegan? I promise, they've got you covered!), how much you hate mushrooms, how much time you really don't want to spend in the kitchen... you know, the basics. 
  2. PlateJoy then provides you with a meal plan tailored to your needs, complete with recipes and super-organized shopping list. You can easily remove things from the shopping list you might already have in your pantry.
  3. They'll even deliver the groceries you need right to you if you live in a city serviced by Instacart. Unfortunately, mine is not, so I did have to schlep to a few grocery stores. I do pretty much all of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and Costco, and was a bit bummed to have to go out of my way to get things like "fish sauce" and "kelp noodles." 
So I gave it a try over the last two days and documented all of my efforts on SnapChat (follow me?

low carb paleo smoothie

low carb paleo noodle bowl

Dinner tonight: Manhattan seafood chowder with shrimp and tilapia. I am not a food photographer and barely know how to work my smartphone camera, so I hope I did it justice.

low carb paleo seafood chowder

Anyway, here's the verdict: I'm a huge fan. Every meal I ate over the last two days was really good, and I didn't have to spend an eternity in the kitchen to make them. I had leftovers for lunch, and meals were just as good on the second day as they were on the first. They were very satisfying, and gave me the needed variety I was looking for.

However, I noted one claim that PlateJoy makes is that they reduce food waste. In my two day trial, I was disappointed to see there wasn't a lot of overlap in ingredients, leaving me with partially used cans of tomato paste, opened cartons of broth (did I really need to use chicken broth in one meal and vegetable broth in the other?) and extra veggies that I have to figure out how to use before they go bad. If I'm making a carrot smoothie, why am I using carrot juice and not the carrots I have remaining from my stir fry?

Anyway, a pet peeve of mine is food waste, 

How to solve? Easy! Because I really enjoyed what I was eating, I have no problems making these things again to eat the rest of the week in order to use up the rest of my ingredients. 

So if you are looking for a highly tailored meal plan to shake your routine up, and you don't necessarily mind repeating recipes through the week (or don't mind food waste, although *I* mind you wasting food), I think PlateJoy can really help you meet your health goals. Don't forget to use code "Run2016" to get your $10 discount!

*In full disclosure, PlateJoy did not compensate me for this post, but they did give me a free trial and I will receive a commission if you choose to purchase. If you're on the fence or have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment below! Much obliged.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

When You're the Villain in Your Own Story

When I was seeing a therapist about my eating disorder, she tried to help me recognize "triggers" - events in my day that would inevitably lead to a binge. The problem was that binge eating was such a habitual occurrence for me, anything could really have been labeled as a trigger. Sad? Binge. Happy? Binge. Stressed? Binge.

Yes, emotional eating is a thing that some people like myself need to control. But I think looking for a specific trigger in order to avoid or negate it is flawed logic when everything can be a so-called trigger.

I can, however, recognize triggers that send my mood spiraling downward, resulting in outbursts of despondency much like I had yesterday. Long-time followers of the blog have probably recognized patterns of general contentment followed by majorly low lows. When I go back and read some of my own writing, I myself am like "Wow, this person sounds like she needs an intervention."

SO new goal... try to minimize my exposure to these triggers, but recognize them when they occur and don't jump to "end of the world" thinking.

Yes, I have a lot of work to do on myself. Didn't I just acknowledge that last week? Twenty-two years of treating my body like shit isn't going to be reversed overnight.

This same podcast that had me all bent out of shape yesterday reminded me that it could take some time through trial and error to figure out the right dosage of thyroid meds to get me running optimally. The only way I'll know for sure what's going on is to go back for some additional blood testing now that I've been on the meds for a while - something I knew I'd have to do again, but have been putting off because, well, I'm a wimp.

And we'll see where it goes. If no improvement, then I'll know I may need to try not exercising for a while, but that's not something I need to worry about right this instant. Quitting running isn't an option for me right now since I still have a half marathon coming up in November. If I'm still struggling after the Avengers Half, then we'll try changing it up.

I just have a lot more work to do than most in order to be able to go the distance..

Saturday, August 27, 2016


I thought I was doing really well. I've got my eating under control. Still taking my thyroid meds. I even saw improvement in my morning body temperature for a solid week, which I thought meant better metabolism.

But now I'm back to low body temps, and still accomplishing nothing when I try to run. My right foot hurts every damn morning, reminding me it will probably never be the same after April's stress fracture.

Then I go reading stuff like this to help me figure out why I never improve at running, and it's so overwhelming because pretty much everything on that damn page applies and I don't know what to fix first.

And then I listen to podcasts like this one about hypothyroidism and hear that I shouldn't be exercising at all. WTF? How am I supposed to believe this after a lifetime of hearing diet and exercise is the path to health? My identity for quite some time has been bundled with hard core fitness routines, how am I supposed to just stop?

Maybe I should just care a little less. People are sometimes surprised by what they can achieve when they stop trying so hard. But not caring is not easy for me to do, either. I've always been taught to work for what I want.

How is it that I can be so disabled inside? It doesn't seem fair that I'm otherwise a productive, functioning member of society, but will never be able to have this one thing I want.


I thought maybe I'd be getting closer once I beat my eating disorder, but no. Not binge eating isn't enough.

It's not enough.

I'm not enough.

Will I ever be enough?

For every step forward I take, it seems I always find a way to go two steps back.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blogroll 14

Look what I captured this week:

Like the magikarp, evolving as a runner
Confirming my theory that I am the magikarp.
A recap of the things I've read over the week:

Train Like an Athlete:
Eat Like an Athlete: 
Think Like an Athlete: 
Sleep Like an Athlete:
  • 20 things you didn't know about paleo...  like sleep is important. Ok, most of this list is about diet, but I never have any good articles about sleep anymore. If you've got something good, send it my way!

Sunday, August 21, 2016


So my birthday was yesterday. I tried to stop having my birthday seven years ago, but for whatever reason, it just keeps coming. Silly birthday.

I celebrated the way most middle-aged women do - with video games, Disney World, and ice cream.

I also looked back on other journals and blogs I've kept over the years. Good to know 365 days have passed and I'm in exactly the same spot I was last year:
  • I still have problems with food.
  • I still haven't run a sub 2 half marathon.
  • I still feel like I haven't reached my potential.
But am I really in the same spot I was last year?

It occurred to me I never really thought about exactly how long I've had an eating disorder. The overexercising/undereating patterns started right after college, but it hit me over the weekend that I know precisely when my relationship with food turned messy. The exact moment. And it was well before college.

It was twenty-two years ago - my first day of high school. The routine I had held pretty much my entire life was disrupted at that point. My first class started an hour earlier than it did in middle school. I had to take a bus for the first time. I looked and sounded so much younger than my 14-year-old self, and spent a good portion of that first morning agonizing about it. I skipped breakfast, of course, because I figured I could use the extra ten minutes of sleep instead (a habit I continued through early adulthood). And - when lunch time came around that first day - I found myself to be too self-conscious to eat. I felt like people were watching me, and I worried more about finding a group of friends to sit in the cafeteria with. So I never ate lunch in high school, either.

I was always ravenous by the time I got home from school, sometimes not until well after 6:00 pm depending on the time of year and the activities I was involved in. I lived on one decent meal each day at dinner, and junk from vending to hold me over when I really needed it.

When I got to college... well, that's not really the place you learn healthy habits. So there you have it. Twenty-two years of bad eating behavior. And I've spent only 1/5 of that time trying to correct it.

I may not be perfect today, but within the last month, I find myself getting pretty damn close. I just need to have a little patience with myself.

Pokémon Go players understand I'm like the magikarp. It might take me a long time to evolve, but when I do, I'm going to be pretty bad ass.

Like the magikarp, evolving as a runner

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

On turning 21

I'd be disappointed about turning a year older this week if it wasn't for the freebies I get at this time of year. It's the bargain addict in me. I've signed up for so many restaurant "birthday clubs" that, five years ago, it got to a point where I realized I couldn't use all of my birthday free food coupons before they expired unless I started eating two dinners each day.

My husband's birthday is almost exactly one month after mine. Since many of these birthday clubs send birthday freebies one month in advance, the restaurant free-for-all typically spans from early August to late September for us. Two months of dining out is actually more stressful than you'd think.

So now, whenever I sign up for a new birthday club, I tell them my birthday is in April or October. I'm shameless.

This year feels a little bit different, though. I'm not sure why, but I feel like I haven't received as many birthday freebies as I have in the past. Maybe these restaurants have somehow gotten word that I've formed new eating habits and either are doing me a favor or don't want to deal with all of my pain-in-the-ass questions about what contains wheat and what cooking oil they use. I've been holding off on posting this list because I feel like more should be coming - but with one week left, I guess maybe a lot of restaurants aren't giving away birthday freebies this year.

Or maybe I've just forgotten the extent to which I've lied about my birthday... Should I expect an ambush of freebies in October? Well, if you are interested, here are the restaurant birthday clubs that have sent me something so far this year. Most of these I can't actually use because these are restaurants that are in the Northeast, and I moved last year.
  • Applebees - Free dessert
  • Baskin Robbins - Free sundae AND a $3 off ice cream cake coupon - This cracks me up. Should I buy my own birthday cake?
  • Bonefish Grill - Free Bang Bang Shrimp
  • Cold Stone Creamery - Buy One Get One Free Any Size Creation
  • Dennys - Free Grand Slam- They'll substitute something of equal value
  • Dunkin Donuts - Free Coffee
  • Friendly's - Free medium sundae
  • Houlihan's - Free Entree
  • Kahwah Coffee - $3 towards purchase
  • Panera - Free Coffee - They used to give out a free pastry. Happy they made the change!
  • Red Robin - Free burger - Hello, lettuce-wrapped Royal Red Robin burger!
  • Ruby Tuesday - Two Free Cupcakes
  • Starbucks - Free beverage
  • Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation - Buy One meal w/ drink, Get One Free
  • Ted's Montana Grill - Free Dessert
Any birthday clubs I'm missing out on? I'll probably want to go out to eat again sometime in January.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Things Seen

It's been a while since I've done a "Things Seen on Today's Run" post. Mostly because I live in Florida and running outside is absolutely miserable 50% of the year (I only find it mildly tolerable the other 50% of the year), so I've been sticking with the treadmill when I actually manage to find the motivation to run lately. Things seen on the treadmill at Globo Gym aren't usually that exciting. Like Fox News. Or intimidating muscle heads grunting during deadlifts. Or 25 other people on treadmills running a lot faster than me.

I saw that the weather might just be cooperative enough to get a run in today, so I got my ass to bed early last night and was up at 5:30 to go out before it got too hot. First time I've been up and out in the dark since... I can't remember. My last outdoor run I think was in New Jersey in June, and sun's up much earlier there than here.

So here we go. Things seen:

  1. Raining Lizards. I flicked on my porch light and stepped outside, only to have a gecko drop from the overhang right in front of my face. Nothing quite gets your heart rate up like being suicide bombed by a crawly. At least it wasn't a palmetto bug. Those have rained on me too :(
  2. Santa. He lives here in St. Petersburg, Florida for 11 months out of the year.
  3. A dolphin show. I've seen dolphins before on my run, but usually just fins. These guys were acting like they were at Sea World doing complete aerials. Flipper was having tons of fun. Or maybe there was something super scary in the water, I don't know. I hear there are lots of these things hanging around:
Like the magikarp, evolving as a runner

And the craziest thing I saw today was... other runners! Like, lots of other runners. At first I thought there must be some new running club, but then I saw that 99% of them were wearing bibs. So I managed to find myself in the middle of some kind of race, but it was really weird because I hadn't heard anything about any races in St. Pete this week. Plus, none of the roads were shut down like they usually are for road races. And most races that I know of don't start earlier than 6am (other than Disney, but that's because they need to get you out of the parks before they open) - yet these runners looked like they had been going at it for a while. 

And then I found one small sign advertising the "Florida Ultra Runners." A ha! This group is super top secret though, because I have found no mention of whatever event they were running today online anywhere. So I have no idea where they were going or where they had been or how far they still had to go! Leave a comment if you're part of the group or can clue me in to what was going on. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Where's my dinner?

Breaking news - Starbucks is finally offering almond milk beverages! Of course the northeast gets it first, we'll have to wait here in Florida until the end of September. My only regret in moving here from New Jersey. I don't know what the specific ingredients are for their almond milk yet, but I'm really hoping it will give me a Whole 30 compliant latte option.

Last night, my crossfit gym brought in a local pre-made meals company, Fia's Paleo. I'm always more inclined to workout if someone is making me dinner afterwards. I did my WOD and then dined on the samples they brought - apple barbecue pulled pork, almond flour fried chicken, and sweet potatoes.

So good. The meals are about $8-10 each, which is about in line with other meal services I've looked into from Groupon deals or Living Social. The key difference is that the delivery fees are much cheaper with Fia's since they drop everything off at the gym instead of delivering to your house.

I've never pulled the trigger on these pre-made meal services before because of price. I can totally make my own almond flour fried chicken, thankyouverymuch. The only thing is... I don't. I like easy. I like fast. So I stick to the things that get me through the entire shopping/preparing/cooking/eating experience as quickly as possible. 

But like I've said before - I love routine until I hate it. I'm thinking about maybe adding one or two pre-made meals to my meal plan for the week to shake things up a bit. Let me know if you use any pre-made meal services in the comments - which ones and if you'd recommend them or not.

Alternatively, I can save on the delivery fees and just pick up dinner at a place called Fresh Kitchen nearby. It's about the same price, and they'll make you a bowl with 2 bases (things like rice or quinoa, but I can get greens and sweet potato noodles), 1 veggie (their brussel sprouts are the best), a protein, and a sauce. 

I've got options. Options are good, unless I find myself falling victim to decision fatigue. Tonight, I get to break up my routine because a friend is visiting her parents in Naples, so my husband and I are meeting up with her for dinner before she heads back to New Jersey tomorrow. 

The Star Wars Dark Side Weekend registration opened yesterday. The 10k option sold out (the 10ks always go first) but the half marathon and challenge runs are still open in case anybody is interested. Of the two Star Wars themed races, the Light Side at Disneyland is the better race, but if you can't swing it because of time of year or distance to travel, the Dark Side is certainly worthy. But watch out for all of the Star Wars "extras" you might feel compelled to buy.

Star Wars phone case
My new cell phone case. It says my name in "Star Warsian", or so I've been told.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Younger Self

Yesterday, I was participating in a phone meeting at work and someone was breathing on the line way too loudly, to the point where I was having trouble hearing the individual speaking. So I used my workplace instant messenger to ping a co-worker who was in the same meeting to find out if I was the only one irritated by the heavy breathing. She and I often exchange somewhat inappropriate messages during these meetings, so I thought nothing of typing in the following message:

"OMG, who is breathing like Darth Vader?"

All of a sudden, the breathing stopped. And then I knew... it must have been her! I was mortified that I had offended her, so I quickly typed out a follow up:

"Better now, but that was really distracting for a minute."

"I think it was me!" she wrote back. "I was walking around for a minute and not on mute."

I gave her a laughing emoji and wrote "OK, just don't do the force choke on me."

Darth Vader Choking
But she didn't write back. I don't think she got it.
I have to remember not everyone is hip to the Star Wars.

I also have to remember, doesn't matter how friendly I am with people at work... sometimes, it's just better to keep my mouth shut. Nobody ever got in trouble for being professional.

Anyway, on the Star Wars front, the 2017 Star Wars Dark Side Challenge registration opens next Tuesday. No, I will not be registering. But let me know in the comments if you are registering and I'll come cheer you on.

I'm still not really sure where running fits in my life anymore. I've taken a few treadmill runs over the last month because I still need to be able to run the Avengers Half in November.  But there's not a lot of motivation for me to get out there, especially after I read this article that informed me it becomes increasingly less likely I'm ever going to run a sub 2 half marathon with every year that passes.

Bummer. How timely I get to read that in the same month I'll be celebrating my... 21st... birthday.

But can I just drop it, walk away from a lifetime goal, and forget about ever running a sub 2 half? Maybe. At the end of the day, if given the choice between going for a run or taking a walk with my level 20 Flareon to take over some gyms, Pokémon Go always wins. Or Crossfit. Or rollerblading with my 60-year-old mother (yes, I am doing that tonight, and it was her idea, not mine).

Maybe I'll find inspiration in the Olympics over the next two weeks. Maybe I'll be inspired by my continuing success with Never Binge Again. Or maybe I'll just continue being content with not really being a runner right now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Solution

Last week, I learned about Dr. Glenn Livingston from one of my favorite resources, Mark's Daily Apple. Dr. Livingston is an expert on binge eating disorder, but I was unfamiliar with him prior to reading Sunday's blog.

So I felt the need to devour everything I could find on this guy. I downloaded his free Kindle book, got all of the reader bonuses on his website, and started listening to interviews he has shared on his own blog. And what I learned from him that the big secret to never binging again is as follows:

Just... never binge again.

WTF, mate. Is it really that simple? What kind of Jedi Mind Trickery is this?

The underlying concept Livingston shares in his book isn't entirely new. The theme was originally put forward in Brain Over Binge* years ago, by Kathryn Hansen. The two authors share a common theory that the primitive "animal" brain is what drives binge behavior. Binge behavior is just a survival instinct running amok. Those who can successfully stop binging are those who can separate themselves from their animal brain, and ignore the impulse to binge. 

But... How does one separate themselves from their animal brain? I don't know how to do that. Nicole is Nicole is Nicole... So while Brain Over Binge made a lot of sense to me, I couldn't really act on what I learned from reading it.

Enter Never Binge Again.  Dr. Livingston gives such a simple way to be able to separate my own logical, ambitious, goal-oriented self with the dumb, ugly animal that happens to share a brain with me. Let me use my very advanced, awesome graphic design skills to illustrate this concept.

Binge Eating Solution

Never Binge Again works for people who have been beaten down repeatedly by their food struggles and are desperate for a solution. And by "food struggles," I mean any problem with food you may have. It doesn't have to be binge eating disorder. Let's say you have a mostly healthy relationship with food, but oh, I don't know, can't resist Mickey Mouse shaped soft pretzels (because, let's face it, everything tastes better when it's in the shape of a Mickey head). You would feel so much better about yourself if you could just say "no" to a Mickey pretzel next time you are at Disney World.

Read the book and see if you really want that pretzel next time you're hanging out with The Mouse.

Now, I can tell you all about how this really works, but Dr. Livingston asked me not to. No, we didn't have a one-on-one conversation (although he does offer that as part of the "reader bonuses"). But he does mention in the book (and I agree) that not everyone is going to readily accept this as the solution. So I don't want to hear any backlash that will knock me off a positive path. I also don't want to list out all steps here for fear of doing you a disservice, dissuading you in any way from accepting the concept... so if you happen to have real problems with food, just do yourself a favor and read the book. It's free, and it's a quick read. Nothing to lose.

And so much to gain. I'm finding the techniques I've learned from Dr. Livingston to be VERY effective.

*Amazon Affiliate Link. This means that if you click any of the links to Amazon through my site and buy something, I may earn a commission. Much obliged.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hanging on by a Blogroll

One week has passed since I imploded. I see a downward trend in the number of blog posts I've been doing per month since April. Even if I wrote everyday for the next week, I would not be reversing that trend in July. But hey, the sun is in Leo now, and lions are totally my power animal, so I'm thinking it's a good time to go out and get my mojo back.

In the meantime, here are some things I read this week.

Train Like an Athlete:
Eat Like an Athlete: 
Think Like an Athlete: 
  • Five ways running can help when you're feeling sad. Five again!
  • Twenty things you know when you are dating (or are married to) a runner.
  • Three words to say to yourself when you're feeling anxious.
Sleep Like an Athlete:

  • Once again, I am coming up short on anything relevant about sleep this week. So instead, how about 15 summer movie reviews presented in haiku? (See also: Running haiku presented by Nicole).
Today's running blog is brought to you by the number 5
Today's blog is brought to you by the number 5.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


I think I've lost my mojo.

I'm just not feeling any compulsion to do any of the classic "Nicole" stuff lately. I had a great time in Colorado since I last wrote, had some more adventures at Disney yesterday, but... meh.

I don't want to write.

I don't want to run.

And I don't feel guilty for not wanting to do either of these things. Weird.

Han Solo doesn't want to run.

I didn't early register for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon two weeks ago. That used to be a "bucket list" race. I love runDisney. And one of the perks of living in Florida now is that I can do these races without having to fly anywhere to do them (disregard my desire this year to earn a "Coast to Coast" challenge medal - attainable only by running a half marathon at Disney World and a half marathon at Disneyland in the same calendar year - and my subsequent registration for the Avengers Half Marathon in California in November).

Also, a perk of being a Disney annual passholder is the ability to register a week earlier than everybody else for runDisney races. I'm not known to pass up on perks.

But I let the early registration date pass.

Then I let the regular registration date pass.

So, no. I'm not going to be running the Princess Half Marathon.

And I'm feeling really apathetic about the runDisney race I am registered for right now.

I don't even feel the need to analyze why I'm feeling this way, as I've done so heavily in the past.

But let's do a little analysis anyway.  Maybe it will help my old self return.

  1. Pokémon Go. I've gotta catch 'em all. There's no time for running when I've got to strategize Team Instinct's rise to glory.
  2. Altitude sickness. I woke up every morning with a sore throat in Colorado and chalked it up to being well above sea level. But nah, I really was sick. Still fighting off the cold even now that I'm home.
Honestly, though, these two things aren't to blame. They certainly aren't helping, but I've been feeling pretty indifferent about what used to be a lifetime goal even before I left for my short vacation and before the game was even released in the App Store.

I know the real reason. And for the first time, I don't want to publicly share. Because maybe this is only a phase. Maybe it's not permanent. And maybe I'll be back to doing typical "Nicole" things tomorrow.

Don't misunderstand. I am very content with life right now. I'm ok with not caring.

It's just... while I know why I'm feeling a lack of interest about the race, I'm not sure I understand why I'm ok not caring about it.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


I love routine. Having a plan and knowing exactly what I'm going to be doing makes me less prone to decision fatigue. I plan my meals, plan my exercise (except when I need to be flexible), and go to sleep at roughly the same time every night.

So routine is great...

...Except I also hate routine.

There's something about spontaneity - doing something new, exciting, dangerous even. I crave it.

I think about my life up until my very recent working years. There was always something that broke up my routine. Summer vacation as a child brought two months worth of camp, bike rides with friends, and flights to Florida to hang out with my grandparents. In college, I'd look forward to summer jobs, free laundry at  home, and reconnecting with high school friends. My first career after college was at a university in California - so even though I worked through summers, it was far from the routine of the school year.

When I left higher education - and CA - I had a full month to make my way across the country to Connecticut. This was one of my most memorable adventures with my husband before we were married. We'd wake up with no real agenda, drive off to wherever felt right - Napa, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore - and set up camp for the night whenever we got tired of driving. We ate a lot of hot dogs over the fire that month.

Just three years later, we were presented with the opportunity to take a four-month sabbatical of sorts to work aboard a cruise ship for a program called Semester at Sea - a floating university that circumnavigated the globe and took us to ten countries.

A healthy me in Vietnam
From Vietnam

These extended periods of spontaneity have been harder to come by since I did Semester at Sea in 2009, though. Maybe it's one of the reasons I job-hopped a bit since then, although I think that was more largely due to anxiety.

I moved to New Jersey from Connecticut, and then to Florida, and each move brought the promise of something new, fun, and exciting. I can't say I'm not having fun living in paradise. But even that has brought with it a certain routine... and the feeling of a need for extended escape.

I think this recent article from Mark's Daily Apple sums up the way I've been feeling over the last few years. He's got a decent list of ways to bring more adventure into daily life.

Me? I'm giving it a shot with a quick escape to Colorado this weekend. I've never been, so looking forward to shaking things up. I've only got 5 days - not the month long sabbatical I've been craving, but certainly every little bit of adventure helps.

There may not be blog posts over this time, but likely plenty of documentation through SnapChat since there may be photos I don't want to live on forever...

How do you bring adventure into your daily life?