Category Archives: IRL

Brighter Lines on the Horizon

In the past 3 years, I can’t say there has been a time when running wasn’t the focus of my health journey. I’ve lived it and breathed it and been consumed by it. And when I wasn’t consumed by it, I felt guilty for not being consumed by it.

The past couple weeks, though, it is not my focus. And I don’t feel guilty. (Okay, I guess I might have an iota or two of guilt, but I feel guilt and anxiety over 90% of things in my life.)

A few months ago, I read the book Bright Line Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. And it made so much sense to me. I looked up studies she had referenced. I read and re-read passages. I nodded and yearned for the freedom from food that she presented.

“Bright Line Eating is grounded in cutting edge psychology and neuroscience, and its tenets fly in the face of almost every commonly accepted weight loss strategy. It gives you a plan to follow that is effective and proven to work. It’s not a quick fix or a gimmick. There are no pills and no powders. We are precise with our eating, but we don’t restrict portions to tiny amounts and we eat a lot of whole, real food.

The core principles of BLE are Bright Lines—clear, unambiguous boundaries we don’t cross just like a non-smoker doesn’t smoke, no matter what. The four Bright Lines are: Sugar, Flour, Meals, and Quantities.” –Susan Peirce Thompson

More specifically, here are the bright lines:

  1. No added sugars
  2. No flours
  3. Eat 3 meals per day. No snacks.
  4. Fixed quantities: measure out each bit of food that goes in your mouth.

And after I read all this stuff that totally made sense to me, what did I do? I put it all away, because how could I ever follow that life? It seemed too extreme, too overwhelming, too much.

A few weeks ago, the book popped into my radar again. It came up on Audible as a heavily discounted Black Friday special. So I bought it. And I started listening. Again, I thought, “Too extreme!” But a passage resonated with me in a way it hadn’t before.

Either way, you’re probably asking me right now, “Isn’t that extreme?”
To which I reply, “I’ll tell you what’s extreme.” Each year in the United States alone, over 70,000 people have to get a limb amputated because of their Type 2 diabetes. Seventy thousand people. Their doctors have warned them it’s coming, but it doesn’t matter. They can’t stop. They eat until they lose a limb. That is extreme. That is how powerful this addiction is. Giving up processed drug-foods isn’t extreme. What’s extreme is the way our society eats – and the consequences we’ve decided we’re willing to tolerate as a result.

And of course the answer is to quit. When someone is losing critical lung function because they smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, we don’t tell them to moderate their smoking. We tell them to quit.
“But how?” you’re asking. “Cigarettes are easy to avoid. Food is everywhere! And I have to eat to survive and there are special things I love to eat that have sugar and flour in them and I don’t know if I could give them up forever and you’ve just pointed out how hard it is to stick with anything…”
I hear you. And it’s okay to feel panicked – that’s actually coming from the dopamine receptors in your nucleus accumbens. They are about to get their supply cut off and they don’t like it. Not one little bit.
Which is why I’m happy to tell you that this program is stronger than they are. Your brain will heal, and there’s a very, very bright future ahead of you. Relax. It won’t be nearly as bad as you think.

And I felt it pulling me again. But I also fell the pull of a bunch of destructive thoughts.

It’s too close to Christmas. How can you do this around the holidays? You might as well wait until after cookie baking, after Christmas parties, after Christmas day, after New Year’s, after, after, after…

And then I realized I was sabotaging my own motivation to feel healthier and better. It’s no secret that I’ve yearned to lose weight most of my adult life and much of my adolescent life as well. I’m not going to hide that. It used to be for purely vain reasons. It’s not like that now, though. Now, I have a million other reasons. I want to feel better. I want my waist-line to stop expanding, even when I’m eating well and exercising. I want to know what else I can do with my life when I’m feeling like a better physical version of myself. I want to be the best possible “me” I can for the people in my life.

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One of my reasons.

And yeah, that’s going to be hard. But maybe there is a way to get there. From the BLE support groups I’ve joined, I’ve heard from dozens of people who have been doing this for a long time, and the results are phenomenal. It works. It isn’t easy, but like Susan said above, it wasn’t nearly as bad as they thought.

So, the tl;dr version of it all is this: I’m making my food choices a priority right now. I had a fabulous first week where I didn’t blur a single darn line for 6/7 days. One of those days was our annual cookie baking day. I kept my lines for the morning and most of the afternoon, and then I made a conscious decision to let them go. (This is totally not recommended on BLE, but I decided that it was necessary to make it work for me.) The next day, I could feel cookies and sugar and flour and other things pulling me in, but I rejected them. I felt like junk, and so my body kept asking for more junk. But I said no. Those foods are not for me, and I kept my lines bright for the whole day.

Guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. It took effort and it took planning, but it took a lot less willpower than I expected. And by Friday, I actually felt pretty great.

So I’m getting things under control. And once I feel a little steadier on my feet, you can bet those feet will be running again. I bet you anything, they’ll be moving a little faster, because they’ll be running on clean fuel that is meant to energize my body and keep me going for the long haul.

Have you read Bright Line Eating or heard of this lifestyle before? What changes are you trying to make for your own health? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

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P.S. Whenever I get a little too “deep and thoughtful” in a post, I feel the need to make it a little lighter. Has anyone’s elf shown up at their house yet? Beatrice was there this morning to ask LJ, “Do you wanna build a snowman?”

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A Vague Book

Earlier today, I looked up from the fifteen projects I was working on at my desk. I realized my viewpoint was a rather solid representation of my current conundrum. I know all the healthy things I should be eating and drinking (water, coffee, fruit), but dammit all, the only thing I can focus on is that Halloween candy lurking in the background. Also, I have a cough that rivals something out of The Exorcist. I’ll spare you the details, but that’s why the cough drop makes a random appearance.

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Early this week, I made some big changes. Ones I’m not ready to write a ton about here, but let’s just say my plans for future races have changed drastically. In a sense, I feel defeated and disappointed in myself. I hope others aren’t disappointed, because I do hope to redeem myself eventually. I have other things I need to focus on first, and I’m working through that. So in another sense, I am relieved. The pressure I was putting on myself was having the opposite effect I had hoped for. Rather than feeling motivated and determined like I used to in college when I’d save 20 page term papers until the night before they were due, I just felt…lost and like I was grabbing for something I’m just not ready to reach yet.

Well, enough “Vague-booking” from me. I’ll plan on expanding more another time.

Halloween has come and gone. November is here, and that means I’m legally allowed to play Christmas music in my home and car. (If you are someone who is morally opposed to this, I promise I’m not forcing it upon you. I am simply someone who basks in the glory of winter and Christmas and all the warmth and fuzzies that come from it. I love Christmas movies and snow and hot cocoa. I love trimming the tree and decorating my home until it looks like Christmas threw up in there. And I’m not going to apologize for it. I don’t ignore Thanksgiving (although, let’s not pretend Thanksgiving is based upon some warm and fuzzy event…) by any means. I just love the chance to celebrate winter and being with family and friends.

Where was I going with this? Oh, right. Halloween happened. I am hesitant to include myself in the picture below, because I am admittedly disappointed at the sight of myself in my costume. If you are overweight, maybe you understand that disappointment…when you *feel* like you look pretty good and then you see a photo of yourself that makes you want to crawl into a closet. Oh well. LJ thought I looked badass (not her word choice, but close enough), and I have to focus on that.

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My little Sith Lord had a delightful and sugar-filled day. She has such a full candy bucket, and I’ll be first to admit I’ve been sampling from it far too much this week. Especially as I am trying so very hard (for the millionth time) to be conscious of what I am consuming. I am so grossed out by the idea of sugar, and yet these rich confections still seem to keep jumping right into my mouth. Bastards.

For real, though. I have an awful cold this week. (Sorry to any of my coworkers reading this who have had to listen to my disgusting cough. Thanks for putting up with me and the massive amounts of Clorox wipes I’ve been using.) My whole body hurts from coughing, and I’m pretty sure I’ve pulled a few muscles. And this has led to me having a bit of a pity party because I can’t run without having a massive coughing attack. Which has led to some “DGAF” kind of moments when it comes to the ample amount of treats available. Goodness, I’m sure getting my use out of Urban Dictionary today.

I promise. It’s gonna get better. Did you hear that? Hold me accountable, plz and thx.

Wishing you and yours a happy Daylight Saving time. Ugh. Maybe “happy” is the wrong sentiment. Maybe “I hope we can get through this dark-all-the-time BS” is closer to the truth. Either way. Snuggle in. Have some cocoa. Watch a Christmas movie (or Thanksgiving movie or Halloween or just a movie, whatever). Enjoy yourself.

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Another month gone by…

A month has gone by since I wrote last. I don’t know that I have regrets about not writing. Disappointments, sure. But I didn’t really feel like I could get the words out on “paper” that I needed. I promised a recap of the Twin Cities 10 Mile at one point, but I don’t think I have anything to say on that race yet. It was one of those “why am I doing this?” kind of races where I was so super down on myself that I called my parents sobbing afterward. I’ve done a lot of reflecting and not enough running since then. I know it isn’t good, because I am still registered for Disney in January. I’m trying to meet myself where I am, but it sure feels crummy.

However, I AM incredibly proud of my husband who completed his very first marathon. He is a badass, and seeing him cross that finish line was monumental.

The other highlight of my weekend was hearing my favorites speak at the Health & Fitness Expo. Sarah and Dimity are a constant source of reassurance for me. On the frequent days when I am plagued with doubt and bad thoughts, they make me feel like I can do hard things. They are such an inspiration, and it is so refreshing to hear from them…in person!

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October held SO much chaos in our world. And in the midst of it all, our kiddo turned 4. I know most parents say this, but I cannot believe how fast she has grown. I cannot believe the incredibly insightful and funny and intelligent words that come out of her mouth. I cannot believe the level of compassion and understanding she has for the world. I cannot believe how fiery and determined and stubborn she is. She lives her life out loud, and I’m so blessed to see that.

Otherwise, we have just been up to the typical things. Pumpkins and Halloween movies and cider.

We’ve also been preparing for winter, which seems to have arrived this morning in full force. Snow, sleet, and gray. I didn’t make it out for my run this morning. Because that was a hard pill to swallow right away in the morning. I need to dig out my winter gear again. Before Halloween even hits. Oy.

The good people at Minneapolis Running generously published another piece of my writing today. I write about what it means to me to be a self-proclaimed “back-of-the-packer”: the doubts and fears and how those doubts and fears need to be kicked to the curb. I’m a work in progress, and I think this article shows it. But I think there are probably other runners who are works in progress, too. So maybe it’ll resonate with one of those people who has the same doubts and fears. Knowing you’re not alone is a huge, huge thing.

And we aren’t.

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P.S. I’ve been catching back up on reading lately. So I am planning on doing more regular book-ish posts. Stay tuned. (And thank you for sticking with me, because I know it’s sometimes a damn long time to stay tuned.)

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Further clarity and subsequent extreme amounts of gratitude

I am grateful. After my last blog post, I received warm comments and messages from quite a few people. It validated the fact that this blog is a good, positive part of my life. It also validated something else for me. Almost everyone who reached out expressed sentiments of, “Me too!” whether they were agreeing with weight issues, mental health issues, or just dealing with a rocky road. I hear you all. I am thinking of you all (even those who didn’t comment but had one of those, “Me too!” moments). And I am thankful you are here with me.

As I find the days until WDW 2018 passing quickly, it reaffirms the fact that I need to be taking good care of myself and sticking to my training plan.

Sidenote: Disney released pics of the medals for WDW Marathon weekend, and they are beautiful. Oh, Lordy, I hope I finish so I can get that sweet piece of bling.

I need to stick to what I know works, and I know consistently taking care of myself works. I’ve taken on a new conquest: heart rate training. And I must say I am an absolute convert. I submitted a guest blog post to Minneapolis Running detailing my experiences with heart rate training so far, so I won’t bore you with too many details. And lucky me, they posted it! Please take a look at it if you get a chance, and leave some love. They’re a great group of runners, and I’m grateful they give me an opportunity to write on a bigger platform.

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I’m a planner, don’tcha know?

I will say I’m signed up through the Train Like A Mother club, and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a training plan + community + general awesomeness. I am #coachedandloved. And you know I can never pass up an opportunity to give a shoutout to the AMR crew.

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#momlife

Other than that, you haven’t missed too terribly much of my life while I’ve been on my unplanned hiatus. Been preparing for a Star Wars bday party in October, getting super duper excited for SW VIII, and vacation preparations (I make a mean scheduling spreadsheet, y’all), which will undoubtedly include many Star Wars events…I’ve been proudly flying my geek flag lately.

Okay. I guess my kiddo had her first day of preschool. And she got a big kid bed. And my dog wore a cute hat. But only a few things other than that happened.

This seems like a good place to include this post from BookRiot. It spoke to me. Because Star Wars totally is and totally always has been a girl thing, too:

As a woman in her mid-30s, watching A New Hope and Princess Leia was very different than watching it as a kid. THIS—this was a princess I could support. This was a self-rescuing, take-no-shit princess who blasted Stormtroopers, sassed the guys who were sent to rescue her, and did it all in a dress, with those fantastic buns intact, not a hair out of place. Carrie Fisher the actress was no less amazing—a sharp-tongued, razor-wit individual who was unapologetic and open about her struggles and worked tirelessly to get rid of the stigma of bipolar disorder and drug abuse. 

Preach.

Alright. I’ll leave you with that. Hoping to get into some semblance of a schedule soon along with details of my actual running life and book life and all the things I actually made this blog to document.

Again. Thank you, and I’m sending light and love to YOU.

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A Happy Place

Sometimes, I go days and weeks without blogging. Sometimes, I check out for days or weeks or months. That’s just a reality of who I am. That’s the reality of living with a mental illness. Even when you’re managing it, sometimes you’re just not “managing.”

This time, I wasn’t particularly sad. It wasn’t a dark-dark-dark time. No, it was just…nothingness. I couldn’t get a grip on my day-to-day operations, and it made blogging seem like a mountain I just didn’t have the energy or equipment to climb. Insurmountable. So I took it easy on myself, and I worked to forgive myself for this and several other things I sacrificed for a few weeks. I celebrated lots of days without pressuring myself to do more than I was capable of.

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Today, I feel a little better. There’s that little spark of warmth in my gut telling me that brighter and stronger times are coming. Which is good. Because the days are soaring past, and I’m watching the calendar get closer to my two big races (1 & 2) of fall. I have a solid training plan set before me. I will move forward.

This morning’s run was humid, but that’s not atypical for this time of year. Still, it leaves me feeling pretty sweaty and gucky afterward. Even after a shower to cool off, I still sweat. And by the time I quit sweating, it’s time to go outside so I can climb in my stuffy car and start sweating again and go to work. Vicious cycle.

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Sweaty selfie. This iPhone camera was kind to me. I swear, I was drenched. 

This past weekend was spent in Duluth, which I have officially deemed my “happy place.” It’s a city I adore on a big ol’ lake I can’t ever stop staring at. Again this year, I failed to get a shoreline run in, but relaxation and sleeping in trumped it. No regrets. (Not many, at least.)

Other than that, life has been filled with the day-to-day minutia of summer. Two weeks from now, we will be with family on a houseboating trip. And then it’s August already. I know a lot of people ask the question, “Where does the time go?” But srsly.

I don’t have much of substance to leave you with. For my bookclub, though, we did read one of my favorite books in the history of the universe. And although I love it for the big, soul-warming laughs it gives me, I also have many quotes about mental health and mental illness underlined, starred, and dog-eared in my copy. I’ll leave you with one that stands out to me every time I read or listen to it (yes, I own the digital audiobook, too).

“Without the dark there isn’t light. Without the pain there is no relief. And I remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to feel such great sorrow, and also such great happiness. I can grab on to each moment of joy and live in those moments because I have seen the bright contrast from dark to light and back again. I am privileged to be able to recognize that the sound of laughter is a blessing and a song, and to realize that the bright hours spent with my family and friends are extraordinary treasures to be saved, because those same moments are a medicine, a balm. Those moments are a promise that life is worth fighting for, and that promise is what pulls me through when depression distorts reality and tries to convince me otherwise.”

-Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Wishing you light.

SHOP

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