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? www.Snapchat.com/add/DarkSideRunner):





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.


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

Status

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:

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

Evolution

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.




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:

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.

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."

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.