Feeling Good

 

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I have to admit: I’ve been lucky in my life. A combination of genetics and luck has allowed me to go three decades without worrying too much about what I eat or even how much I exercise. My weight doesn’t fluctuate easily, I don’t have a finicky stomach, and I’ve never had body issues.

If you think I’m gloating, fear not. As I near the big 3-0, the good luck and I seem to have lost touch, and now I’m noticing these…things. They’re subtle, but they’re here:

I don’t recover as well from eating heavy, unhealthy foods.

My already minuscule “thigh gap” is getting smaller…and smaller…

It is so hard to get up for work in the morning, even though I usually get a good night’s sleep.

My pants feel tighter and my core muscles have lost some tone.

I frequently crash in the afternoon, feeling sluggish and “icky” from downing coffee all morning, eating a heavy lunch, and staring at a computer screen.

 

I’m not “getting fat”, or even really gaining that much weight. At least, I don’t think so. I’m not an early riser by nature, and never will be, so the pre-7:00 AM wake up call is always going to be a bit of a challenge. And staring at a computer all day is going to make my brain feel like mush no matter what I eat for lunch.

But these things are eating at me now, begging the question: do I feel good?

I was never one of those who subscribed to the philosophy that running = eating whatever I want, but I still have not made much effort to eat mindfully while training. It never seemed like I needed to – I was crushing my training, I met my goals, I recovered well from long runs, I got through high mileage weeks healthy and ticked off miles with no problem.

But…then I stopped running. And the consistent lack of energy I attributed to heavy training mileage didn’t go away. Not really.

I’m not 19 years old anymore. I can’t expect youth and good genetics to save me from a crummy diet and lack of exercise anymore.

The thing I love about running is that it made me appreciate how strong my body is, what amazing things it can do. But it wasn’t until I took a break from running that I realized I can’t have all that without taking care of myself first.

So *deep breath*..it’s time to get serious about self-care.

As I take the first slow steps back into my regular running routine, I’m also taking steps back into feeling healthy. I’ve pulled the Nutribullet out of storage. Grocery store trips are becoming more frequent. The word “breakfast” is sneaking back into my vocabulary, and cases of La Croix are gradually replacing cases of Pepsi. A slew of pre-dawn runs is set to commence in the coming weeks. And I’m beginning to get back in touch with an old bedtime ritual of a good book and a cup of hot tea.

It will take willpower. Sticking to the salad I packed for lunch in spite of the fried saucy aromas of a coworker’s take-out; resisting powerful soda cravings; mustering the energy to cook or grocery shop after a long draining work day. And I think that 5:30 AM alarm speaks for itself.

But then I imagine starting my work day with a fresh burst of endorphins and a fully belly. I imagine not feeling lethargic and heavy mid-afternoon. I imagine having a little more energy and seeing the tone sneak back into my core muscles.

I’ve taken out pressure, pace-tracking and goals so that running can feel good again. But that journey has already highlighted the need to make sure I feel good, too. So here’s to productive exercise and mindful eating; to fresh air in my lungs in the morning and good food in my belly throughout the day.

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7 thoughts on “Feeling Good

  1. Tell me about it…a couple of weeks ago, I tried giving up sugar, and gluten. Let me tell you, I felt GREAT. However, I fell off the wagon big time. (a drastic change in diet is hard, never mind when you live with 3 teenagers, and a carb loving husband!) I think I am going to try again, but maybe less drastic. The thing I can’t figure out how to replace is the night time snacking of crackers or chips…oh, and the evening glass (or 2) of wine :). I am willing to give it a shot again, but I think I need a “plan”. I am a BIG eater, and I need to have a stockpile of healthy goods around…
    I hope you post any good substitutes…

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    1. I’m not looking to make a drastic change, just generally eat healthier/cleaner. But in a way that’s almost harder than a drastic change because the rules aren’t as hard-and-fast and I have to make more decisions on a daily basis. I’m the type of person who tends to do better with an all-or-nothing approach and clear guidelines. I’m thinking about cutting out soda again, but I just can’t bring myself to completely get rid of it this time. I’m also thinking of cutting out red meat.

      We tend to eat dinner a little later (usually around 7-7:30), so I’m not much of a night time snacker. Sorry I can’t be any help there! In general, I tend to eat bigger meals even though the experts recommend not to, so that I don’t snack as much, because when I snack I just eat junk.

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  2. Although I have struggled with weight all my life, I did have a good span…almost 18 years or so I did not fluctuate that much, but I noticed shifts in my body around 35 then again around 45…I think we all get some of that naturally, we just lose muscle mass and have to work on it. Eating healthy things makes such a huge difference. During training I did salad almost every day and I didn’t enjoy it at first but then I started looking forward to it 🙂 I bet you will too.

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    1. You are a better person than I – I don’t mind salads but I just don’t like them enough to make/eat them consistently. But I am TERRIBLE about eating my greens so I have been making smoothies with frozen fruit, carrots, spinach and a little ginger for flavor. That seems to work better for me.

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  3. I struggle with this too. Good genetics, thin frame, and I’ve never really worried about my body. I started to ask myself “with all the running I do, shouldn’t my core be firmer” … But it all comes down to diet. I eat junk food, drink too much soda, and too many adult beverages lol. I know I need to be more disciplined but man oh man it’s hard.

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  4. You probably already know this about me, but I’m a proponent of eating nutritious, whole foods about 80-90% of the time because they just make everything feel so much better! I have a total weakness for beer, wine, and breads (even if it’s whole wheat, I can still eat a lot of it) so those fit in as well. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables makes such a difference in energy!
    As with energy to cook: I swear up and down by easy crockpot or everything-roast-in-the-oven meals (especially something like a whole chicken which lasts for days with just two people!). Healthy doesn’t have to be time-consuming. I get up at 5 AM so by 6 PM or 7 PM (we’re late eaters also), the last thing I want to do is make a labor intensive meal.

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  5. I love veggies but can’t eat a lot of salad in winter because I swear they make me colder! I love soups in winter because one pot lasts all week and you can pack a ton of veggies in. Geez, I didn’t know you were such a non-morning person! And to think you did all those super early runs while training–that deserves a huge kudos! It’s a great time of year to start morning runs again though.

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