Friday, August 18, 2017

Twenty-One Days

Hey, I've been gluten/soy/dairy free for three weeks now. Not sugar-free, though. There's some sugar in the almond milk they use at Starbucks, and I enjoy an occasional latte now and again. I also like a little bit of maple syrup in my chia pudding, but that doesn't really count, right?

The above isn't exactly a super feat of willpower, though. I've done three or four Whole 30's at this point, so I've been here before. 

Nope, this is no big deal.

What IS a big deal is that today marks three weeks of being binge free. I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened in recent memory: earlier this year when I started Never Binge Again and around this time last year when I first heard of NBA. There have been more two-week stretches here and there, but even when I was doing Whole 30's, it was still possible to binge on compliant food like nuts or Larabars. 

So twenty-one days binge free means I can celebrate better habits formed, right?

Not so fast. We all know it may very well take more than 21 days to form better habits. And I'll never lose my healthy dose of skepticism that once I stop taking the two types of medication I'm currently on to silence my addiction, it's going to come back roaring more loudly than ever. 

I can't seem to find much on the interwebs about what happens after binge eaters stop taking these meds. Plenty of success stories for people who are currently using them, sure, but I want to know how they fare after. There's also case studies from people who have used them to treat other addictions, like smoking or alcoholism. I am hopeful because they seem to be successful, but I can't ignore the fact that food is a completely different beast than cigarettes or liquor. I can't just quit food entirely.

I can just live in the moment for once, though, and enjoy what it feels like to be free. So what if I got here in an imperfect way.

I don't have to worry about what might happen later. Because I can always use the present moment to be healthy when it comes to my food choices. And I'm doing the legwork now to be ready to come off the meds in the right way. I have to remember, I'm on the lowest possible dose of each, with so far no need to increase my dosage. 

And I can finally celebrate a binge free birthday (yes, I've got another birthday approaching this weekend, even though I told those silly birthdays to stop coming around years ago). A really excellent birthday gift would be some news about runDisney's Tinkerbell Half Marathon. Something tells me that's not going to happen, though... maybe if I use the Force...

Star Wars Han Solo telling me that's not how the Force works.

I'll be doing my long run in South Carolina this weekend so I can be in a better spot for the eclipse on Monday. A long road trip... not having access to my own kitchen... this would have been quite challenging in the past, and I'm curious to see how I'll handle it this weekend. But I'm pretty sure it will be easy for me now.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rant of the day: Socks

Let's talk about socks for a hot minute. There are a few common lengths you can find when purchasing socks for athletic pursuits, although they might go by different names depending on brand or what store you are searching at. I've found some helpful visual aids to ensure we're all on the same page here. Here they are, ordered from least to most acceptable:
No-show socks do not show above your running shoes.
No-show: I feel the same way about no-show socks as I do about strapless bras or thong underwear. God forbid someone sees your panty lines, or bra strap, or freakin' sock, so let's invent something super uncomfortable but ask you to wear it with a smile in the name of fashion. No-show socks provide some of the very basic benefits of being a sock, but absolutely NOTHING where it really counts... my heels. My heels tend to be blister magnets. Zero stars, No-show.
Anklet running sock just touch the bottom of the ankle.
1/4 or Anklet: WTF, 1/4 length? You are like the less-cool cousin of No-show because you're visible above the sneaker-line, and therefore somehow uglier according to society. So I'd love to at least give you props because you're trying to be more functional, but I can't because you still leave me with bloody, mangled heels. Fail all around.

Knee-high running socks extend beyond the calf but not over the knee.
Knee-high: Enjoyed by soccer players and my grandfather. I actually had a few pairs of pretty sweet Superman knee-high socks for CrossFit, which I appreciated when box jumps were part of the Workout of the Day. I mean, if it came down to it, the socks were going to do jack squat if I ate it to keep me from getting bloody shins, but there was still some peace of mind there. Not really appropriate for running (unless you are using compression), because you might as well be wearing pants at this point, but these get an honorable mention as they do often play an important role in costumed, themed, or fun runs.

3/4 running socks cover the ankles but don't go very far up the calf.
3/4 or Mid: The ONLY acceptable sock length for running. My heels and ankles, while slightly whiter than the rest of my body, are well protected from the damage my sneakers can do from a long run. Unfortunately, I must be the only one in the state of Florida who has this problem because there is not a single running store that sells this magical sock. I can only find No-show. Heck, it's really hard to even find 1/4 length here, as if that extra tiny bit of sock is going to cause one to immediately suffer from heat exhaustion. I understand we get 100% humidity down here, but come on people. Really.

And barefoot purists, this is NOT your time to comment. I tried it your way last year, and ended up with an awesome stress fracture after running the Dark Side Challenge (despite training in minimalist shoes for four months) that left me sidelined for a good portion of the summer. I'm thinking your way is the right way... but only once you actually are at a healthy weight. Until then, sneakers... with socks... are for me.

Before I moved to Florida, I was a member of Roadrunner Sports, which carried all kinds of glorious socks. I swore by their R-Gear Dry Max socks, as they were reasonably priced compared to other brands of running socks (especially if you were a member!) and seem to last a long time for the number of miles I put them through. I let my membership expire since RRS doesn't exist down here, but started to get nervous as I picked up running in sneakers again last June and realized my sock collection was dwindling. So when I actually went looking for socks around here and could only find fucking No-show socks, I rejoiced when I was on the road in Colorado with my husband and... lo and behold... we passed a RRS! I made him stop for a few minutes so I could stock up on my favorite socks.

Star Wars Darth Vader dances when he finds a good running sock.
When I finally find 3/4 length socks, I be like...
Anyway, my socks seem to be wearing out again. Thank goodness for the internet and mail order.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

On a serious note

Today's the first day in a while that I've gone back to the park I had been running at - you know, the one with all of the cute baby animals and otters and stuff I've been enjoying so much? One day a few weeks ago, I woke up for a planned run at the park and just felt the urge to go running down by the bay instead. If you know me, you know I don't stray from plans all that often, but I'm so glad I did. When I got home that day, my "Nextdoor" app (if you don't have it, it's similar to Facebook, but specifically for your community) was blowing up with notifications about a dead body at the park. The park isn't that big, about a 1.10 mile loop around, which is why it's so popular with walkers and runners first thing in the morning and another reason I enjoyed it for training (besides the nature show). Police had arrived at the scene, and there was no foul play suspected. But... I'm not sure how I would have handled coming across a suicide on my run. No matter how hard things get, there's always gotta be a reason to live.

So I wanted to take a moment to share how important it is to take care of your mental health, guys. I've downplayed the role that doctors and psychologists have played in my own well-being in this blog, but that's because I'm a big, fat know-it-all sometimes. When really...

Jon Snow knows nothing.
I also know nothing, Jon Snow.
So seriously... if you're ever feeling hopeless or know someone in crisis, start here and don't be afraid to look into help from a therapist.

Ok. That's enough heavy for one day. I need something more uplifting, don't you? Let's see what I've got... how many baby ducklings can you count in this photo I took at the park today?

Baby ducklings
There were fifteen, people. Some sitting behind mama there. Or maybe she's auntie to some, who knows. I wasn't aware ducks were allowed to have that many children.

So I've been hesitant to go back to running in the park for a while, but finally got out there today, only to run straight into an orange fence:

Orange fence getting in the way of my run
This is misleading.
This presented the illusion that I could still complete a loop - but instead of it being 1.10 miles, perhaps it would take me on a short detour. Maybe it would be 1.35 miles. I didn't care, as long as it was some kind of loop around the lake.

So I took the path to the right of the sign, only to dead end into that yellow Caterpillar you see right behind it. Foiled!

The only thing to do was to end my run, go home, and go back to bed.

I kid. If I can run Garmin-free, I can certainly adjust my running route mid-run, especially since I had a working GPS watch/heart rate monitor today. I just detoured back down towards the bay and did a new 5-mile route that took me through a few pretty new streets. Yay for flexibility.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Running Recap

Alright, running friends. What do you do when you wake up bright and early on a Saturday morning for your weekly long run and find with dismay that you've let the battery die in your trusty Garmin?

Well, the first thing I did was put a reminder in my iPhone for every Friday night going forward to check my watch battery. I'm not letting that happen again.

And then I laced up and ran out the door anyway. I figured I'd been given a gift - a non-rainy Saturday morning where I otherwise felt great couldn't be wasted. St. Pete Run Fest will be here before I know it, so I figured I'd train using Rate of Perceived Exertion. But using RPE doesn't always work out for me when trying to stay in my target heart rate, and it certainly didn't help that it quickly got to be hotter than balls by 8am.

Star Wars Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan are also too hot to go running.
Call the police and the firemen. 
Ah well. Still glad I got out there... because I finally solved a mystery that has been bothering me for almost a year now. At this time last year, I ran into some kind of race happening put on by the Florida Ultra Runners but could find no mention of what they were up to online. So when I saw them again this weekend, I worked up the nerve to actually ask one of the runners what was going on.

The event was something called the "Durty(sp) Beer Run," an annual 6-hour run that takes place along a 3 mile-ish loop in downtown St. Pete from 6am to 12 noon. St. Pete is pretty packed with microbreweries, so I suppose it makes a good destination for that kind of run but... no thanks, I'll pass. It was 8 million degrees on Saturday. I'm only slightly exaggerating. I wonder how many people died that day.

Yet that wasn't the only event taking place on Saturday! They were also setting up for something called the Great Brain Wash, which looked much more appealing. This 5k included inflatable obstacles that were similar to giant slip-n-slides, and the race supported brain tumor research. I would have totally crashed the course, but they hadn't started yet, so I just walked my sweaty self home.

My Disney Annual Passes came out of blockout this week, so my husband and I went back to Animal Kingdom yesterday for the first time in over two months.

Dancing Star Wars Stormtroopers
When our Disney Annual Passes come out of blockout, Ben and I be like...
Also, still going strong with my puritanical devotion to healthy eating, having no difficulty navigating a day at Disney yesterday food-wise whatsoever. I will share that I have begun picking up tracking my food in MyFitnessPal again, because I do believe I may be falling into the trap of undereating. I would rather err on the side of having a little bit more food than I need right now to kill any future possible binge urges while I've got the support of medication on my side, rather than be sucked back into the same dangerous cycle the minute I stop meds. Like I said in my initial post on the subject, it's all about developing the right habits for me right now.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Inner Workings

So I'm one week into a new regimen of taking two types of medication - a low dose of an anti-seizure med and an antidepressant - to help end my eating disorder.

Morpheus from the Matrix offers two pills.
What if I told you.... I take both pills?
For the last ten years or so, I've really been strongly against taking any type of medication, even avoiding aspirin for headaches if the pain wasn't unbearable. Even last year, I was hesitant to start up thyroid medication when I learned my thyroid was working sub-optimally, but gave it a go because I thought that might be playing a role in my binging, and the thyroid meds didn't contain much in the way of chemicals (just naturally desiccated pig thyroid gland). But after a year of taking higher and higher doses of WP Thyroid until I hit the max and never seeing better results, I decided to wean myself off of those meds, and I took my last 1/2 grain of WP Thyroid this morning.

So I didn't take the decision to go hunting for help from conventional medicine lightly, but when it comes to binge eating or bulimia or whatever the hell plagues me, the pendulum swings just seem to be getting wilder and wilder in my life. One month, I'm "cured." The next, I'm so far off the rails, it's scary.

I want equilibrium. I want balance. And then I'll achieve my goals, like finally getting my sub 2 half marathon.

And um, guys... the meds are kinda working.

Let me explain to you the inner workings of my brain before last week:

Inner Pig: "Oreos."
Nicole: "Um. We don't eat that stuff anymore."
IP: "Oreos."
Nicole: "We're kinda busy right now."
IP: "Oreos."
Nicole: "I don't really want Oreos."
IP: "Oreos."
Nicole: "I have to run tomorrow, and I can't be sick and bloated for that."
IP: "WE'RE GETTING GODDAMN OREOS."
Nicole: "Eep. Ok"

That's literally how it works for me, and as I understand it, for most with binge eating disorder and other types of addictions. There's an internal argument, a power struggle that takes place until my rational, logical self takes a back seat and something else takes over for a while until I find myself knee-deep in a pile of oreos, wondering how this happened and feeling guilty as hell, and the only thing that is gonna make me feel better is running the junk out of my system, only my body is wearing down and I can't run like that anymore.

And here's how it's worked since last Friday, like almost immediately:

IP: "Or-"
Nicole: "SHUT THE FUCK UP."

Star Wars Finn telling Phasma he's in control
Who's in control? Me.
Also, the meds give me a potty mouth.

And that's it. I eat three normal meals, mostly things I've prepared myself from fresh meats and veggies, and have an extra healthy snack if I have worked out, which has been most days this week. I also have dinner at the table with my husband - it's worked out really nicely that he's not traveling this week for work to get me into the habit of sitting at the table to have meals.

And that's exactly what I'm looking for... building good HABITS around food so that in a few months time, I can eliminate the meds and be a normal human eater. I also believe that - because I won't be eating the things that suppress thyroid function like gluten and dairy - I'll be helping my body out in that respect, too.

I've got hope again. Haven't seen you in a few months, friend. Glad to have you back.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Insert Clever Title Here

I kinda spazzed out last night at kickball. There were a few things working against me:
  • New medication
  • I woke up early yesterday to get in a 5 mile run, since I wasn't certain kickball was going to happen (we've been rained out 80% of the time this season). The rain did not work in my favor this time, however. 
  • We had a double header... against the same team, who is pretty good
  • Our (2) games didn't start until 8:30 pm... and usually I'm in bed and winding down around 9:15pm, so I really didn't want to be there
It doesn't help that every week, we're always fighting to get enough women to play on our team. We always barely eek by with the required 5 minimum, which means that every single one of us is playing the field every single inning, while the guys get to rotate in and out, and the ladies never get a break. Don't get me wrong, I like to play, but I think I'm going to need to take the next season off to really focus on half marathon training. I'll try to find someone to replace me as short stop.

Running went well yesterday.

No it didn't. It went more like this:

Andy from Parks and Rec also hates running.
Minus the whole stripping part.
I did find this article about running form interesting. It appears my natural stride is what's going to be most efficient for me after all, and I don't really need to give it much further thought.

Weird dreams continue. Last night, there were a few different ones, but the one that stands out most vividly right now involves me being part of a focus group at work reviewing new commercials where we fired the guy who has been acting as our spokesperson over the last few years... and replaced him with an animated version of him and used his voice. Pretty sure we can't do that. Also, the commercials were nonsense.

I'm so tired today. Here's to a much-earned rest day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Right Life

Today's day 5 on the topiramate/bupropion combo, and I have to say the side effects have generally been minimal and not unpleasant. Except for the weird dreams.

Star Wars Luke Skywalker putting Yoda to sleep.
Strange things happen when I go to sleep these days. 
Last night, a nice gentleman named Vlad showed me how they made blue breastplates at Epcot's Norway pavilion for Disney's army. Two nights ago, OJ Simpson was running for mayor of St. Petersburg, which I hope is not prophetic considering we do have a mayoral election coming up, OJ's daughter lives here, and he did mention living in Florida once he gets out of prison.

Speaking of living in Florida, I've lived here since July of 2015. When I first got here, I felt like I was finally living my "right life"... no more commuting, more time to dedicate to running and my other passions, and - yes, still feeling pressure to perform at work - but pressure I could alleviate with a quick look out of my bayview balcony. (I temporarily lived in a condo overlooking Tampa Bay when I first got here. So awesome.) Well, here I am two years later, and I'm not really feeling that "right life" feeling anymore.

Surely, I'm missing my waterfront property. 

Ok, I know it's more than that. I really think I'm just not in the right line of work anymore. I've been in my role for 4.5 years, with my company for about 10. But I'm afraid to look elsewhere. I do love my company and there are plenty of reasons to stay with them, but I think it may be impossible to land another job with my company as a remote worker, and moving back north is not an option for me right now. 

Besides, I really love working from home. I can think clearly. I can be here to let in contractors when needed. I can do other things with my life besides drive myself to and from work. Yet I believe it is going to be very difficult to land another work-from-home job, and this article agrees with me

And yet I fear I might be forced to look elsewhere in the coming months. 

All signs point to the fact I should find a new role that gives my life meaning and purpose, especially as this month I will enter my late 30's which is mid-life crisis territory. But I hesitate because I'm not sure the benefits of finding meaningful work outweigh the stress of having an office-based job again.