Ugh! My Workout Got A Piece Of Me

So this morning I woke up a little later than usual. Fen and I were up late finishing a movie about Bonnie and Clyde (very interesting), so instead of waking around 7 I woke around 8 instead. I started to get ready for my walk, but as soon as I got out of bed I knew that I was going to have a tough workout. My body felt very lethargic and sluggish. I am not sure if it was due to falling asleep after midnight or if it was from the abundance of carbs I had for dinner (we made spaghetti with garlic bread. It was amazingly yummy). I also wondered if it was because I ate too much at dinner. I certainly didn’t binge, but I know I ate a little too much pasta and went a little crazy with the garlic bread. That’s OK – I have to recognize my mistake, forgive myself, vow to do better next time, and move on.

I dressed and washed up, did some dishes, fed, medicated, and walked the dog, then laced up my sneakers and hit the pavement. I planned to do the full 3.5-ish mile route that I had done Monday. I started off with a decent start, feeling still pretty tired but pumped and motivated. It was mostly my legs that felt super tired, now that I think about it, but I kept pushing myself forward and focused on the music in my ears.

There’s a portion of this route that is about 0.25 miles long, without any crosswalks or anything else to keep me from having to stop or look for traffic. This is the portion I ran on Monday and today I ran it again, except it was harder today than it was on Monday. After that section I kept walking, but my legs started to feel like jello! I was starting to get annoyed with myself at this point.. but still, I pushed onward.

On the way back I had to stop and admire a creek I walk by on this route. It’s always super pretty to look at, I enjoy hearing the sound of rushing water, and it’s neat to see how the water level will rise when storms blow in.

Looking up the creek. Isn’t it such a pretty view? I should try walking on the other side sometime.

(As you can see, it is pretty cloudy today. We are supposed to get rain into the weekend. Boo!)

About 3/4 of the way through the entire walk I realized I was getting a blister on my right heel.. or at least that’s what it felt like. I stopped and relaced my shoes, hoping to prevent my foot from slipping around so much, but I honestly think I need better, thicker socks.

Just before I got home, I had some extra hills to climb. I kept thinking about my dad (for inspiration) and all of the fitness/inspiration memes I have seen on twitter and instagram the last few days.. when suddenly my MapMyWalk app chimed in to let me know that my walking pace is roughly 16 min/mile and my running pace was roughly 17 min/mile…

Wait, what?

That’s actual improvement from Monday! On Monday and all week last week, my walking pace was 17 min/mile and running was 18 min/mile…

So how exactly could that be? I honestly have no idea. But apparently even though I felt like I was dragging my legs and feet behind me I was actually moving faster than I have before. Another sign of improvement! I’ll take it!!!

Since my walk this morning my left leg has been bugging the crap out of me, I think because the calf muscle is just tired, so I will need to rest it and maybe massage it a little later.

As for the rest of the day? Fen is off today and tomorrow from work so we’ll be watching some (horror?) movies and I’ll be checking things off the to-do list. I hope you all have a Happy Hump Day!

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Setting Goals Each Week

Hi all. I have normally been posting each day, but figured I would give myself a break over the weekend. I also gave myself a break from walking. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t want to take a break from walking, but it Fen kept telling me to rest so I finally did.. and I felt much better come Monday morning.

I’ve decided to set myself some goals and every few weeks I may add to it. I don’t want to overwhelm myself, so I am going to set very small goals. I will primarily focus on the fitness routine each week and setting goals for that, but will also add some goals here and there for other parts of my life, namely food.

I am going to try a new fitness routine and see how it works for me. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I will go for my 3-3.5 mile loop and will walk most of it. Each week I will try to run a portion of it, a very small portion to start with, and will gradually increase the distance so that I start walking less and running more. I have sustained back and knee issues in the past and don’t want to try and advance too quickly. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays I will be doing an hour of yoga instead. Each day of the week I walk the dog 2-3 times per day, so that still gets me up and moving, but on Sundays I will take a break from everything.

Fen and I talked briefly about eventually buying a gym membership. I want to get into cycling and maybe some weight lifting after time, but that can all happen down the road. I am not too concerned about it right now.

Yesterday morning I walked with Fen to work and back, covering 3.5 miles, and running about 0.25 miles. Now.. I recognize that running 0.25 miles is nothing for some, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me. Last week I was able to run about a neighborhood block before I felt exhausted. Today it was much further. So this week I will be sticking with that running distance and next week I will push it a little further.

As for a dietary goal, this week I have challenged myself to drink about 6-7 glasses of water a day. I think for my height and body weight I should be consuming closer to 7 glasses, but I would be happy with 6 to start off with. I think on average I only drink about 4-5 which is clearly not enough. To help me accomplish this I will be using a tracker that is built into my FitBit app on my phone. I failed miserably at this yesterday, only clocking about the same 4-5 glasses, but plan to improve on it today.

I am not sure how long it will take me to start drinking 6-7 glasses of water each day without having to remind myself, and I do not plan to put any pressure on myself to complete this goal in the next week.

It’s all about baby steps. Little tiny steps in the right direction. And for the first time in a long time I think my health and fitness are definitely moving in the right direction 🙂

Stereotypes (and Misunderstandings) of Eating Disorders

The last week or so I have spent some time thinking about some of the stereotypes and perhaps misunderstandings that surround eating disorders. I think part of these thoughts have arisen from my own issues in admitting to others that I have an eating disorder.

First, let me say that it’s extremely weird to say that out loud, or even in my own head. It’s weird to think that I have an eating disorder, or to even type it here. Although I have never been officially diagnosed, nor have I ever sought diagnosis, I do exhibit all predefined symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder except for purging. Regardless, whether I have a clinical diagnosis or not, I do know from my own patterned behavior that my eating is disordered.

I remember the first time I thought to myself, “I might actually have an eating disorder”, I paused in reflection, only to look in the mirror and think to myself how absurd that sounds because I am not underweight, I am overweight. I suppose I always assumed that having an eating disorder meant you were malnourished and underweight, but I recognize now that isn’t always the case. In fact, in recent years a variety of different eating disorders have been newly recognized, to include Orthorexia and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID.

This long-held assumption made it difficult for me to tell others about my issues and extremely difficult for me to even admit it publicly, through this blog, because I figured no one would believe me or take me seriously.

In talking to others about my experience and eating disorders in general, I also started to realize that some people tend to forget that even though it is an eating disorder it is still associated with mental health. In my case, food has become an addiction and a vice. I am addicted to it, because I use it to make me feel better about different things in my life. I am also addicted (in a different way, I think… and that will have to be addressed in a separate post) to certain foods, namely those high in sugar.

Addiction to food is a tricky thing. If one is addicted to cigarettes, the ultimate goal is to quit smoking them. If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, the ultimate goal is to quit using those substances. We can’t quit eating food though. It is a necessity. And I often find myself wishing I didn’t have to eat or think about or deal with food, because it would make things so much easier to manage. So instead of quitting the substance I am addicted to, I instead will have to find a way to live with it in some capacity that is healthy and not damaging to me.. and that is what I need to figure out how to do.

When Did I Stop Loving (Plain) Water?

My fiancé has poked fun at me for a while now over my recent love addiction to sparkling water. I wasn’t always a fan of sparkling water and actually found it quite repulsive for the longest time. My mom drinks a lot of it though and last summer she had me try some one day when we were out and about and I was thirsty (I should add this was during the time she helped me move to New Mexico (long story, will eventually talk about that)). I remember curling my lip in disgust as I unscrewed the cap and took a swig. Much to my surprise though it actually.. tasted.. really good! It was a bottle of Arrowhead sparkling water flavored with lemon juice. From that moment, I was hooked. So I began drinking some here and there and soon started drinking 4+ of their 32oz bottles every single day, until my stomach turned sour one afternoon (I think due to all the carbonation). After that I stuck to about a bottle a day and thus began a period during which I consumed a decent amount of both sparkling and regular (or as the fiancé calls it, “REAL” water). My job at the time wasn’t exactly labor intensive, but I would still work up a bit of a sweat and I found myself chugging bottled water in addition to the sparkling water.

After I moved (back) to Oregon, I.. well, I stopped drinking water. In general. I gave up the sparkling water to save on grocery bills for the time being (yes, I can drink that much and spending $60-$120 a month on sparkling water is a bit much, don’t you think?) but haven’t really been consuming water at all.

My level of water consumption has fluctuated throughout my life based on the types of jobs I have had or how active I am each day.. but this is the least that I have consumed, on average each day, in a very long time. I don’t really know why. I often wonder if it is somehow tied to my overconsumption of food and sweet foods. Perhaps I eat so much that I don’t feel the need to drink water between meals? Or perhaps because it is so unbelievably humid here my body doesn’t become as thirsty as it normally does? I have to remind myself too that once you are actually feeling thirst you have passed into the realm of dehydration. So does that mean I am never dehydrated? I’m not sure that’s actually true, considering I have felt worse on days that I drink hardly any water at all.

I have toyed with the idea of downloading an app to my phone that will remind me to drink water throughout the day. I did this a couple years ago and the app drove me crazy over time, but it also got me into the habit of regularly drinking water throughout the day and I realized that over time I started to feel better.

The other benefit to this is that water can help me feel full. My fiancé keeps reminding me of this and it’s not the first time I have heard it.

A Little Bit About Me and Binge Eating..

Hmm. First post, ever. I figured I would use it to talk a little bit about my binge eating habits. Most people think binge eating is the same as overeating, but it’s not. I do have a habit of overeating during my meals. I usually will eat more than would be necessary to satiate me, but I usually do this because I enjoy the taste of the food and do not wish to stop. Binge eating, however, is more of a compulsion for me. When I binge eat, I select foods that I normally do enjoy, but I feel compelled to keep consuming them, in large quantities, until I am so full that I am uncomfortable. I often think of this as trying to “fill a void” within. Sometimes I will catch myself in the act and force myself to put the food away and go watch TV instead or maybe just go to sleep. I find that if I try to switch to a different, non-food related activity, I will still think obsessively about the food I was consuming. Recently, I thought about eating more dessert after I had already eaten some after dinner one night. Not wanting to give in, I finally laid down and fell asleep, only to wake up throughout the night. Waking up every hour or two is normal for me (I have problems sleeping), but what I noticed was different about that night is each time I woke up I would be thinking about the dessert I forced myself to stop eating. It’s incredibly frustrating. There is such a strong psychological component associated with this and I honestly have no idea where to begin to work through it.

I have memories of binge eating as early as five or six years old. I really don’t know what triggered those episodes then. When I think about my childhood and what I might have been experiencing at the time, I suspect it might be linked to stress at school from bullying and perhaps low self-esteem. Regardless, I have memories of eating a huge plate at dinner, and then snacking ALL NIGHT long. My parents would notice me snacking and warn me to slow down or pick one snack and stick with it. Instead, I would eat some candy, and then switch to potato chips, and then scarf down some corn nuts, then perhaps some M&Ms, cheese snacks, popcorn, bubble gum, etc. In the end I usually wound up with an upset stomach or worse – I would vomit it all up by the end of the night. I recall as I ate and ate I never felt truly SATISFIED. Which is disturbing to me, because I was so young at the time.

I slowly (somehow, I don’t know how) worked my way out of this, only to fall back into it as a pre-teen. My sister picked up on it then and started talking to me about it. I remember she never made me feel ashamed about it, she just explained that it wasn’t healthy for me and that there were things I could do to cope.. like drink extra water, or if I really must have another snack, snack on fruit and vegetables.. not junk food. She also taught me the importance of listening to your body and being able to recognize when it’s hungry or full. Again, with time and struggle, I was able to regain control.

After that time in my life I didn’t really binge eat as much, at least not enough to warrant a binge-eating diagnosis. I still overate at meals sometimes, but was pretty good about eating right and not overconsuming food. Sometimes throughout my college years I would eat in response to stress or depression, ESPECIALLY when I would study for exams. I also discovered I have a massive sweet tooth and often found it difficult to cut back on the sugar!

During the summer of either 2007 or 2008 (I just can’t remember for some reason) I made the decision to give up eating meat. I did this slowly, first only consuming fish and eggs, and eventually letting those go as well. It was something I had thought about since I was about 12 and something I a) wasn’t entirely sure about and b) knew I would never be allowed to do until I was 18 either. I was scared of living without meat (I mean.. honestly, what would I eat? Lettuce?!), but was even MORE disgusted (for both taste/textural reasons and ethical reasons) at the thought of continuing to eat it. So I gave it up.

Over time I slowly transitioned into a vegan diet without even realizing it, because of my progressive inability to digest lactose. Me and dairy are not best friends. I am not severely lactose intolerant. I can still eat cheese and some (small amounts) of ice cream, but things like yogurt and milk will make me sick for days. I would say by about 2010 I was fully vegan and did not find it difficult at all to maintain. By that point in my life I was doing pretty good. I was finishing my degree, had plans for the future, and felt I had finally grown into myself and understood what I wanted out of life.

Then in 2011 my father died, rather unexpectedly. On paper, he died from heart failure. But the heart failure arose from complications brought on by stage three small-cell lung cancer. He died October 20th and had been diagnosed in late July. I didn’t know about it until August that year. I was in grad school at the time. The stress of school, teaching, and watching him die was enough to drive my anxiety beyond my breaking point. I began to use food to compensate for the stress and I ate ALL THE TIME. This point in my life marks the worse period of overeating and binge eating that I have ever experienced… and I am still in the middle of it.

Throughout my early twenties I gained about 30 extra lbs. I suspect part of this is from all the muscle I put on from hiking and field work. Since my father’s death though, I have put on an additional 60-70lbs of weight and am still struggling to get it off.

And so here I am.. present day. It’s now 2015 and I still don’t have much of an idea of how to stop my habits. I suspect that most of my struggle is psychological.. and so I have to start there. But the reality is I am not getting younger and the more I continue to abuse my body with food, the closer I bring myself to obesity-related diseases, such as heart diesease and.. diabetes.. which is extremely common on my Dad’s side of the family – ironically, the same side of the family I take after the most.