Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Now that I'm mostly uninjured (two months later), I've got no excuse not to get back to regular exercise.

Except I'm really having trouble getting back to regular exercise. 

I set my alarm for 5:30 every morning and go to bed early fully intending on getting out the door when said alarm goes off. "Tomorrow's going to be the day I get back on track," I say to myself before I fall asleep.

And then the alarm sounds, and I think of a million reasons not to get up and run. It's dark out (true). My bed is super comfortable (true). My foot kind of hurts (hmm... might be in my head?). I think I have a headache (definitely in my head). 

This isn't me. I exercise 5 days a week. I care about running a sub 2 hour half marathon.

I made a commitment to myself. I don't brush off commitments I make to others... why do I treat the ones I make to myself any differently?

At some point well after my 5:30 alarm clock went off yesterday, the thought popped into my head that I'm 4.5 months from my next half marathon. OMG! Not enough time! So I did get up and squeeze in a 3.5 mile run before work. I was able to put some of the techniques I learned in Running 101 on Saturday into practice, and felt really good afterwards. Accomplished. Energized. These are the feelings I need to remember whenever that alarm clock goes off...

Only I quickly forgot that feeling this morning. Didn't get up this time. 

Still, the day isn't over. I'm feeling surprisingly energized after a super productive work day, so I'm going to get my Crossfit WOD done at 7:30. Because I'm doing an evening workout, I would not intend on doing any strenuous activity tomorrow morning - maybe I will just take a walk so that I can work on getting used to rolling out of bed early again.

Things seem to still be going well eating-wise, which I think is due to starting thyroid meds. I am still behaving much more rationally around food. My stomach and I have friendly conversations these days:

Dear stomach, you're bored, not hungry. So Shut up.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dynatherms Connected

Today marks two weeks since I've started thyroid medication, which means it's time to up the dose. I'd like to see where this takes me because so far, I haven't felt much different... except in one key area.

I do feel a little more rational around food. Before taking the meds, if thoughts of a chocolate chip cookie entered my head, that would quickly turn into MUST. EAT. ALL. COOKIES.

Cookie monster has an eating disorder.

But in the last two weeks, I find myself thinking "Do I really want a cookie?" Sometimes the answer is "Damn straight I want a cookie!" But sometimes it's "No, I really could use some water though." Or "Maybe I need to just snuggle with the dog."

Nothing else has really changed for me, though. Still kind of low energy. Still low body temps, which means crappy metabolism. Is it just the psychological effect of starting something new that has me thinking more clearly about food right now? Too soon to tell. Maybe some of these other things will improve after I up the dose.

In the meantime, I've decided to stop taking all of the other supplements I was taking because I'm not experiencing all of the amazing benefits they typically promise*.
Here's the thing - I've done my homework and I still believe that these things work. But only for those who otherwise eat normally. Trying to get myself ready to run a sub 2 half marathon by relying on supplements is like trying to form Voltron with just the green lion.

Green lion not running.
The green lion is great and all, but I need 4 more lions before I can do anything awesome.

So I'd like to see where I'm at after my next blood test (probably will be mid to late July) and how I continue to feel around food before I start introducing other things to help out again.

*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.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Running 101

This morning, I attended Running 101 at my local running store, St. Pete Running Company. My foot is feeling a little better since the Dark Side Half Marathon, and I do not want to ever deal with another stress fracture in my life again. So, time to work on form.

Non-runners probably raise eyebrows when I tell them I paid $10 for a running class. I've been running for 10+ years now, so what could I possibly learn from a "Running 101?" class. My husband said to me "What did they teach you? Put one foot in front of the other? Move forward?" I stuck my tongue out at him.

I probably never would have attended Running 101 had I not just been sidelined by an injury for 2+ months. I think there were about 30 people in the class, so I'm not the only crazy one that thinks she needs to learn how to run.

Our coach, Cody, was pretty awesome. He explained everything with appropriate visuals so that I won't forget next time I train. He helped us determine proper hip placement by first having us exaggerate our hips backward (a la Donald Duck - a problem for runners who otherwise sit on their butt at a computer all day like me), and then forward (think Steve Urkel, for those of you who are old enough to know who that is). Perfect hip placement is somewhere right in the middle - where you could hold a credit card in your butt crack and not lose it. His explanation, not mine... but it totally works though! We talked cadence, stride length, and foot strike, and had a chance to put it all into practice.

One thing he acknowledged was that it's easy to do these things when you are going slow, but it all kind of falls apart when you speed up. When I start going faster, I should try scraping my foot against the pavement (as if trying to get gum off my shoe) to activate the glutes more instead of my calves or hammies. And, I know I'm doing it right when I could run and read a magazine. (Not literally read a magazine, of course - he just means my head should be stable enough that I could read one if it was there).

He talked about breathing and ended with some stability exercises I can do while brushing my teeth every night. (Standing on one leg. Simple as that.) And we all got $10 gift certificates to use at the store, so it was almost like the class was free. I love free!

I can't wait to put what I learned into practice again, but it may have to wait a few days. Spin class with my mom tomorrow. Crossfit on Monday. Wednesday run I'm guessing?

It was my fourth anniversary this week, so my husband and I are celebrating how we know best - a trip to Disney, of course. Maybe I'll get to be the rebel spy today. If you eat, sleep, and breathe Disney, you know what I'm talking about:

Star Wars, Star Tours, and what it means to be the Rebel Spy

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Running Heroes

Role models. When you aspire to improve in your sport, it only makes sense to have a few people to look up to, right? Distance runners might follow Meb Keflezighi. Track stars love Flo-Jo.

Maybe where I'm going wrong here in trying to run a sub 2 half marathon is not connecting with the usual heroes...

Here are my top 5, in no particular order:

Julie Culley. Not a household name, just someone I ran track with in high school. She competed in the 5k in the 2012 Olympics. She runs her 3.1 miles literally twice as fast as I do. Perhaps I should have spent more time following her training plan instead of goofing off at practice.

Running Hero Julie Culley

Quicksilver. Although X-Men's Quicksilver is preferred, Avenger's Quicksilver will do in a pinch.

Running Hero Quicksilver

Forrest Gump. I'm taking liberty in assuming everyone has seen the movie. If things like paid employment were not important to me, I'd take off tomorrow to go run across the country.

Running Hero Forrest Gump

Ridiculously photogenic guy. He's the reason I am all too aware when there's a photographer on the half marathon course. Maybe my new goal should be to get a photo at my next race that's even half as good as his.

Running Hero Photogenic Guy

Homestar Runner. New Strong Bad emails were the highlight of my Mondays during my early years in the workforce. Rumor has it they are making a comeback, which means I've got something else to distract me from actually going out running myself. 

If you've got a bunch of hours to waste in a day, catch up on all of the old SB Emails. Here's a good one:

And then when you're done with those, I recommend Teen Girl Squad (TGS). And if you'd like to try your hand at a game, go for Peasant's Quest.  

Who are your running heroes? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blogroll the 12th

The EMP treatments at my doctor last week definitely made a difference. I went for a 5 mile treadmill run on Saturday with no side effects! So now I just need to work on re-adjusting to waking up early again for exercise... and the pain of waking up early is far greater than the pain I ever felt in my foot.

Some things I've been reading this week:
Train Like an Athlete:
Eat Like an Athlete: 
Think Like an Athlete: 
Sleep Like an Athlete:

Star Wars the Force is Sleepy

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Squish Like Grape

I had a really awesome three-day weekend in DC and Maryland. Watched a good friend get married. It was an intensely emotional experience as I'm coming up on my own anniversary this week. Watching her on the happiest day of her life reminded me that you only get one best day of your life. It's not fair that it often happens for most of us so early in life.

I always thought I was at my healthiest and strongest on my wedding day. After all, two months before my wedding, I ran my first (and fastest) half marathon. But I now know that how I got to my "healthy weight" set me up with the difficulty I'm having today finding a good balance between diet and exercise.

My new doctor makes me get on the scale every time I go in to the office, which I take some umbrage with. My last doctor didn't force it on me. It pains me to share I'll be celebrating my 4th wedding anniversary at a weight I haven't seen since college. As I started losing weight after I graduated, I vowed I'd never see those numbers again. How the hell did I get back here?

I know how - I'm walking the middle of the road. You either karate do yes or karate do no.

This movie has my favorite montage sequence. I wish I could montage myself through the challenges life presents, but since I can't, it's time to karate do yes. No more of this 'sometimes' indulging in sugar, because we know "sometimes" turns into "all of the time".

I recently mentioned I signed up for Snapchat (DarkSideRunner). I've been trying to use it to keep good visual documentation as I transition to the healthy lifestyle I wish to live. This doesn't mean I'm leaving the blog behind, just means I'm trying something new. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Game Change

Since Snapchat is becoming a legitimate marketing tool, I asked my brother - who is as millennial as they get - to teach me how to use it last week while I was in NJ.

I'm still not sure I get it, but I set my account up and gave it a try since I definitely had a "story" to tell today. But let's be clear, I'll never be able to part with the written word in favor of images. I'm just not that photogenic. 
So if you are a snappy chat user, feel free to add me - DarkSideRunner - for today's story.

Follow me on SnapChat: Dark Side Runner

Otherwise, here are the highlights (if you can call them that):
  1. My periodontist explained that my gums are very healthy and that I am not actually in danger of losing my front teeth. He reminded me that there are four sides to each tooth, and 3 out of 4 sides have plenty of healthy gum to keep my front teeth solidly in my mouth. The real problem is that the gum has receded in the front of my mouth. I have exposed bone on the front side of my 3 bottom teeth, and I have suffered some bone loss. In order to protect me from losing any more bone, I will need to get a gum graft. We'll talk about that process another day, because it sounds absolutely horrid and I don't want to think about it right now.
  2. My doctor took a look at my injured foot and determined that an x-ray was unnecessary. He reprimanded me for running at all over the last two months. advised me not to run again until he says I'm clear, and then treated my foot with an electromagnetic pulse machine. The EMP is weird and uncomfortable, BUT it made my foot very happy for the rest of the day today. I'm going back for further treatment on Thursday.
  3. I also got the results of my blood test. Everything was normal. I never thought I'd be disappointed to hear I was "normal." But it's heartbreaking because at least if my tests were abnormal, I'd finally have an explanation behind all of my... idiosyncracies. The anxiety. The eating disorder. The exhaustion.
But nope, I'm "normal." Damn it.

Here's the game changer though - my doc shared that "normal" isn't the same as "optimal." The "normal" range provided by the lab is based on a statistical average of the population of that lab. The people who typically have blood work done are statistically not the healthiest segment of the population. Therefore, according to my doc, my "normal" lab results are saying that I'm just like a lot of other sick people.

So he prescribed me thyroid medication.

I've been pretty anti-drug for most of my recent adult life. And while I completely understand his explanation of "normal" vs. "optimal," I'm still skeptical. But even though the numbers say I'm normal, I just don't feel that way and really want to be "fixed."

I'm supposed to start taking it tomorrow morning. So at least I have the night to think this through a little bit more.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

This is the Part When I Break Free

Home. It's good to be here.

So now I have no excuses for not completely committing to becoming a better, healthier me, right?

Tomorrow sounds better.

Or maybe next week. I have to travel again next weekend for a wedding. Ugh. That means I have to wear a dress. And be in photos. Kinda wished I had committed to becoming a better me two months ago...

I just realized that I've been on a plane at least once a month since February this year. Twice a month in May and June. Let's keep the streak going!!!

Han Solo giving Luke a sarcastic look in Star Wars.
I'm a homebody. I hate not being in complete control of my environment.

There's always going to be a "good" reason to put off the diet to the future, and right now travel is my excuse. But no matter what the excuse, it just boils down to the fact that I think it's somehow going to be easier for future Nicole than for present Nicole to do it.

And we know this just isn't true.

Wouldn't I be doing myself a huge favor by just committing today?

Sometimes I wonder if I'm really just not that motivated. I hear so many transformation stories like this one that start with people making permanent changes because they need to for their children. Well, I'll never have that type of motivation.

I feel like I've been presented with plenty of motivational opportunities, though. Like trying to avoid public failure, for example. The purpose of pulling this blog together to announce my intention of running a sub 2 half marathon was to keep me committed. And that didn't work.

Being told there's a chance I might lose my front teeth? Scary as hell, but apparently not scary enough to keep me away from sugar.

Untimely death of a loved one? I thought I was motivated after my stepmom died about thirty years too soon, but nope. Still stuck in unhealthy behaviors.

Tomorrow's a big day. Gonna learn the fate of my teeth, and also going to see my doctor for the results of my blood test last week. I'm also going to have him look at my foot since that still isn't healed from the half marathon I ran two months ago.

Maybe I'll actually find my motivation tomorrow. And maybe I really will commit tomorrow.

Today's exercise: Spin

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Non-Running Trifecta

I have had some trouble sleeping over the last few nights. Despite being wide awake until the wee hours of the evening, I'd still wake up ready to run at 5:30 am... no alarm clock needed. However, I had to commute to work over the last two days, and there just wasn't enough time for a morning run.

I didn't have to commute today, so I planned to run. But the early sunrise and birds chirping didn't wake me up like they've done the last two days. Nope, I was jolted out of blissful sleep by my alarm clock. I was exhausted.

It was also only 50 degrees here this morning, not nearly as pleasant as it was on Monday. A large storm yesterday brought in a cold front, and I left all of my warmer running gear behind in Florida.


And - to complete the non-running trifecta - I just wasn't feeling very good. Once again, my eating while here in NJ has been abysmal.

I tried my best to plan for this trip north. My father and I have very different ideas about food, but I don't try to force my preferred way of eating upon him. And that usually means I eat pretty terribly while I'm here.

This time, as soon as I stepped off the plane, I called my dad and explained I needed to run to the grocery store to pick up some things for myself and that I'd be happy to cook him meals he enjoys this week - but we'd be using my own special ingredients. Chili. Stew. Tacos. I told him I didn't want to eat anything with gluten, soy, and sugar, because these things just don't make me feel my best.

And that's worked out really well for the most part, except there are still things here in his kitchen that I can not resist. Like cookies.

Cookie monster has an eating disorder.

I haven't been taking the gymnema as religiously as I should be. This visit to my father's house would have been a perfect scenario to see if it actually works or not to truly eliminate sugar cravings. I'll get back on it tomorrow.

Really, the best thing for me is to get back home where I have a little more control over what food is allowed in my house. Complete abstinence is going to be the only thing that gets me off of this sugar problem. I've read a million and one articles like this one that reinforce this is the right path for me, but none of these articles ever give solid advice as to how to say "no."

I'd really like to be completely free of sugar by the time my next visit to NJ rolls around.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Catch Me Running Dirty

As much as I always prefer to be home instead of travelling for work, I will say there are some perks to being a runner in New Jersey instead of Florida at this time of year:
  • I heart the weather. No humidity and/or Tropical Storms.
  • The sun is actually up here at 5:30am, so I feel less like I'm getting up in the middle of the night.
  • I've got access to a 400m track. They keep these pretty locked down in Florida.
Of course, the question still lingers... should I even be a runner anymore? My right foot has not healed properly since April's half marathon. It's not like I'm in intense pain all of the time - I'd say it's about a "3" on a scale of 1-10 when I run.

And a "3" is not enough to keep me off my feet. I need to be active. I'm not sure what "active" for me is without running. CrossFit is fine, but I can only handle it about once a week right now, and I can't take my gym with me when I travel.

But I can always toss my running shoes in my suitcase.

And I do have a choice in shoes.

Could it be my most recent choice in footwear is contributing to my problems? Only one way to find out.

So I ended my five-month affair with my minimal running shoes and begged my Saucony Hurricanes to take me back.

Darth Vader "The Force Was Weak with Me"

But my old shoes turned a cold shoulder.  When I hit the track this morning, I felt no different than I have felt on any other run I've attempted over the last few weeks. The heavier, more cushioned shoes were no help to my foot whatsoever.

Next two days are going to be longer than usual with work. I'll be able to try running again Thursday morning, but my optimism is low.

Guess I just need to run to the foot store and grab a new one.

Friday, June 3, 2016

National Donut Day

Not easy to be a sugar addict on National Donut Day. All I see over social media are all the places that are giving out free donuts! When will we be celebrating National Spinach Day?

And doesn't anybody else think that if they are going to hold Global Running Day and National Donut Day in the same week, why not make it the same day? I mean, if you are going to eat free donuts, you might as well earn them.

Star Wars National Donut Day

Today was actually Blood Draw Day for me. I finally worked up the courage to go have my lab tests done as prescribed by Dr. Paleo. I can regale you with wonderful tales of the numerous times I've fainted when in the presence of needles, but maybe some other time. I always blanch at the suggestion of having blood work done. But I've decided June should be my month to focus on health and do the things I've been putting off.

I'm travelling back to New Jersey tomorrow and will be gone for the next week, so my doc should have the results by the time I get back. I can then talk to him about the current state my ankle is in. I would have expected it to be back to normal by now as we're getting close to two months since I injured it, but last night's treadmill run told me otherwise.

I'm also meeting up with a periodontist when I get back to make sure things are not as dire for my front teeth as I was told they might be back in April. I had a follow-up appointment with my dentist a few weeks ago, but that office is a hot mess and I trust nothing they say. I'll be finding a new dentist, but figured it couldn't hurt in the meantime to get a true expert opinion.

Anyway, no running for the next two days (at least for me), but getting in some fun tonight with the husband before I leave him for the week. We're going to a classical concert by a well-respected artist, perhaps you've heard of him:

Thursday, June 2, 2016


My eating has been pretty terrible since I finished the Star Wars Half marathon and went on the Disney Cruise. I meant to get right back into healthy habits right after the cruise, but then my stepmom died and I was away from home for a while and I forgot to care about being healthy.

I go on these wild pendulum swings - able to commit to hardcore healthy eating like doing the Whole 30, only to go in the complete opposite direction for another month (or longer...). I keep thinking I have binge eating beat, but I don't think I'm truly ever going to kill this monster.

I can only hope to prevent him from making recurring daily appearances.

Anyway, I've been back home for a few weeks, but still can't seem to get on track. Especially when my husband makes Inception Cookies:

Inception Cookies: a cookie inside a cookie
That's an oreo baked into a chocolate chip cookie-cupcake. If you've seen the movie Inception, you get the reference.
I was once told a few years ago about the Diet Cure. The theory goes that all of the diets I've been on and the stress I've endured has caused my brain to be deficient in certain chemicals it needs to feel good, so the urge to eat something that makes me feel good overpowers my will to not eat stuff that's bad for me. The solution is to supplement with those missing compounds - amino acids - so that I feel better and don't succumb to cravings. I read the book and stocked up on everything I thought I needed - glutamine, 5-htp, GABA, and DLPA.

I tried it for 4 or 5 months to no avail. Maybe it's because I was still overtraining and underfeeding myself, but who knows for sure?

I'm a skeptic when it comes to most supplements. So I was hesitant when someone emailed me that I should consider using this:

Gymnema is an herbal supplement that - so they say - supports elimination of sugar cravings. This particular brand gets mixed reviews on Amazon, but it's what my local health foods store carried, so I figured I'd give it a try. Everything I read about it online says there's really no risk in giving it a shot. I started taking it earlier this week and so far feel pretty good, but the true test will come next week when I'm travelling back to New Jersey for work again. That's another week away from home, and it's so much harder to stay on track when I've got family and friends to see who want to socialize over food.

I'll report back next week to let you know if it's still having an impact, as well as share some of the other supplements I'm currently taking.

Today's exercise: No CrossFit... my shoulder was too angry at me. But I did get a 3ish mile treadmill run in with only a little bit of grumbling from my foot.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Happy Global Running Day!

June 1st is Global Running Day, and I celebrated by... not running. Still trying to ease my way back into training for my next half marathon and recover from the injury I sustained at my last half marathon.

But I did go to CrossFit this morning! And had to run 400m carrying a 12lb wall ball for the warm-up, so I guess I did, in fact, observe Running Day for a few minutes.

Question for my CrossFit friends - does anybody else find your warmups just as exhausting as the actual workout? We did running, wall walks, wall balls, and 30 second hangs.. before the actual workout even began!

Anyway, today was my first day back at CF since I started up again two Saturdays ago.

Obi Wan hasn't felt his running muscles in a long time.
I was kind of sore for a full week afterwards...

My CF coach told me she anticipates that we will have certain degrees of soreness, and plans the WODs (workout of the day) accordingly - so even though I expect to be sore tomorrow and will want to take the day off, I'd be doing myself a disservice by skipping out.

But... I messed up my right shoulder doing overhead squats during today's WOD.

Crap crap crap.

It's deja vu all over again. How come I'm the only one that can't figure out CrossFit without hurting myself?

So tomorrow's WOD is easier on the shoulders - some jump rope, front squats, and DB pushups/rows/squat clean thrusters. I'm committed to going just for the sake of seeing what happens. If anything aggravates my shoulder, I won't do it. But if it otherwise helps me avoid the dreaded DOMS, I'm all for it.

I'm also committed to going tomorrow because I'm heading back to New Jersey on Saturday. There's no CF WOD on Friday, so I won't be able to get my CF fix in for a good ten days or more.

But while I'm in NJ, I plan on taking advantage of less humid weather and start putting more miles on my running shoes (if my foot tolerates it, of course). I not only have another half marathon to train for, I just learned about the Hogwarts Running Club.

Accio medals!

Today's exercise:

Shoulder press - 5x3 ascending (my max was 45#)

20 min AMRAP ("as many rounds as possible" - I did 4)

5 jumping pull-ups
10 dips
15 overhead squats 35#