Embracing The Caveman

It is a well-known fact that most overweight people who take up running do so not just for the joy of wearing out $100+ pairs of shoes and collecting Race Bibs. No, we are also looking for what I call the Happy Side Effect of weight loss.
Okay, I was/am.
So was/is HCRP.
And, to a certain degree we’ve each attained a level of success in that pursuit. I guess when you run enough miles pursuing something eventually you’re going to catch up with it!

My Left Knee (why does that sound like the really bad title of a really bad runner’s memoir?) has finally had enough rest, elevation, stretching, icing, rolling on a foam roller, braces, knee bands, and generally anything-but-running that it is now accepting of moderate exercise.
Wednesday we hit the gym to begin adding strength training to our overall program which had been The Plan all along once we/he finished that first Half. I backed off the amount of weight on the leg machines and did only one set and all was well.
Thursday we headed to our favorite outdoor running venue where I walked once around the 1.6 mile track at one of the lakes with a friend while Rich ran it twice. That little bit of walking it once wisdom was thanks to my friend saying “Uhhh… No.” when I asked “Should we go around again?” in what probably sounded the way eager puppies sound in people’s heads when they stand there wagging their tails with tennis balls in their mouths. I have smart friends. Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t all okey-dokey and rarin’ to run.  I was feeling notsomuch twinges at the end of the once-around, but definitely a little bit of stiffness and mild inflammation in the tendon by the end of the walk. But no actual pain and this morning everything is a-okay in Kneeville.
Tonight we’re back to the gym for (still modified for me) strength training, and tomorrow while Rich runs three times around the lake I’ll walk once and a quarter then turn around and head back to sit, soak in the sunshine, and read a good book.

But back to the topic of today’s post.
So HCRP and I have been running along, following The Runner’s World Runner’s Diet and dropping a pound or two one week then gaining it right back the next. Oh, yeah, I had that fabulous six pound weight loss of a couple posts back but I gotta be honest and say that was basically dumb luck + the generosity of my metabolism staying ramped up even when I wasn’t able to run + the fact that in not running my apetite has reduced itself to crap. (On the up side: I have been eating breakfast most of the days since making Meus Amplitudo Mea Culpa). But really, we haven’t been getting the consistent results we’ve been wanting.

Being a big believer in the old adage about the definition of insanity being continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results, I started poking around Ye Olde Worlde Wide Web for alternatives that blend weight loss and what I like to call Fueling The Machine. As I was doing this poking a Facebook post of a friend who is a fitness machine (martial arts, running, body building – and does he have the results to show for it!) about starting the Paleolithic Diet a few weeks back towards the end of dropping his body fat percentage. Of course at the time I read his post (which accompanied a picture of a ginormous t-bone steak and half a plate of broccoli) I thought “All well and good for you Carnivore!” and dismissed this as an undoable for me since I don’t eat meat. (Actually, tomorrow it will be one year to the day since I stopped eating meat. Happy No-Meativersary to me!)
But the phrase “Paleo Diet” kept swirling around in my brain. Which led to the following thoughtversation. (Don’t you love how I just make up words? I need to become some kind of spokesperson for a society or association of word makeruppers like my friend Terri Lee is the spokesperson for Butt Falling Off Syndrome or BFOS. I digress . . . Which is another societation I could be spokesperson for. The Nationally Associated Society for Compulsive Digressors – NASCD. We need a poster. And a logo. Wait, I did it again… See?!)
Dang it. Where was I?
*scrolls back up*
Caveman eating without eating meat . . .
Runners need carbs . . .
Oh. Right.
The Thoughtversation.
Me: That Paleo Diet thing does sound interesting.
My Brain (MB): Yes, yes it does. For a CARNIVORE!
Me: True. But I do still eat fish, eggs, and dairy.
MB: Fine. Google it.
Me: Fine! I will!
GoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Ah HA!
MB: What?
Me: Look! That No Meat Athlete Guy says it can be done. And he is HARD CORE Vegetarian. He might even be Vegan.
MB: Okay fine. But what about that “Runners need carbs” thing?
Me: Vegetables and Fruits are carbs. Ask Atkins people. They practically break out in hives at the sight of anything vegetablier than lettuce!
MB: Atkins people eat more than lettuce.
Me: Whatever. Not an option.
MoreGoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Hey. You. Brain. Check this out. Written by a Runner for Runners on a Runner’s Magazine Website! HA!
MB: That’s one article.
Me: Oh yeah? *insert googling sounds* Well look at this: The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Dr. Loren Cordain. One of the guys the vegetarian runner dude had dinner with.  And it’s not “one article” it’s a BOOK!
MB: Huh. Well. Well huh.
Me: That’s all you’ve got? Look dude (yes, MB is sometimes a ‘dude’) I’m willing to try this. Obviously what we’ve been doing isn’t really working. And if I’m going to be able to train for a half-marathon without incurring any future knee injuries, and HCRP is going to be able to shave that nineteen minutes off his half-marathon time it seems to me that one of the biggest obstacles is the extra weight we are each lugging around. This isn’t necessarily a “weight loss” diet per se, but I can’t help but think that dropping grain-based carbs and dairy from our diets might help a little in that direction. Besides, Dr. Jeff has been none-too-subtle in his “go gluten free” messages and what better way to maybe kindasorta go along with that ‘nudge’ without actually going along with it than to do the same thing with a different label? Huh? This way we get the same benefits and results without him being able to come and say “I told you so!” because really, we didn’t do what he told. We did something different. Entirely.
MB: Well. Okay there is that. It’ll be like the Certs of dietary changes: Two, two, two benefits in one!
Me: You have entirely too many 70s references readily available.
MB: You’re the one who watched all that television as a child.
Me: I have Googling to do.
So after all that I ended up with the aforelinked book by Dr. Cordain and the The Paleo Diet Cookbook notsomuch because I need ideas for cooking – I love coming up with interesting and creative uses for food all on my own – but because, well, it was a reasonable excuse reason to buy a new cookbook!

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be going through our pantry, fridge, and freezer(s) and strafing all the grains and grain-based foods. (I’m not throwing them away, but one of my co-workers is gonna love me every time she makes spaghetti with whole grain noodles for the next six months!) And tomorrow evening I’ll be making up a menu and shopping list. I’m pretty much going to ‘automate’ our breakfasts and lunches and get creative with dinner.

For me it’s going to be a matter of just not eating pasta, bread, and potatoes and upping the vegetable and fruit quotient. There are a few – very few – staples of my diet I’ll have to find a new ‘source’ for. Such as yogurt. I’m hoping our local Whole Foods stocks the So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt because yogurt is a huge breakfast component for me.
HCRP may struggle a little more with the absence of bread, rice, and pasta but I’m pretty confident in the end results I expect us to see and that going a long way towards offsetting that struggle.
And yes, once this has become a habituated dietary pattern for us there will be allowances for occasional ‘cheats’. But honestly, based on everything I’ve read from people who have gone this route and stayed on it, I think we’ll find that we don’t necessarily miss all that grainy goodness as much as we might anticipate on the front end.

But today and tomorrow?
Oh honey, we’re goin’ out with a bang!
And a bagel.
And probably cookies.

Big Day for My Little Blog and Progress!

Yesterday was a really great day for me for two reasons:
The First Thing was a comment I got right here on this little blog from one of my running mentors/friends/blogging heroes Terri Lee, author of Run. Dog. Cat. Me. Check her out. She’s smart, funny, determined, and one of those people who gives freely from the benefit of her experiences not just as a runner, but as a person.
Anyway, her comment was “GIRL! YOU HAVE BEEN NOMINATED KREATIV BLOGGER! CHECK IT OUT: http://rundogcat.me/2012/03/13/you-take-a-few-days-off-and/” And for as flattering as the nomination itself was, when I went to her post (which I would have done anyway because I love reading her!) her comment about me and my blog had me absolutely puddled up sitting at my desk at work.
I’m still a little verklempt just thinking about it.

The Second Thing actually happened before The First Thing and it took place in the single most unexpected place on planet earth for Good Things to Happen: My bathroom scale!
Last Tuesday when I weighed in I had gained three pounds. Which wasn’t at all unexpected given the fact that I haven’t run in . . . awhile. Let’s just call it “awhile”. I’m tired of thinking how many days/weeks/soon-to-be-month since I last ran without pain or incident. (Although the fact that my last incident/pain-free run was a ten mile run is a nice thought. I digress . . . ) Anyway, I was prepared to have gained back some weight last Tuesday and was fully expecting the same thing yesterday.
Boy was I in for a shocker!

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a FIVE in the tens column there.

At first I doubted the veracity of my scale’s statement so I stepped off, reset it, and stepped back on. When I saw the same number twice I grabbed my phone (Because doesn’t everybody keep their cell phone handy in the bathroom when stepping on the scale? I mean, accidents happen most frequently in the home and bathroom scales have got to be responsible for a significant percentage of those. Oops, I digressed again!) and snapped a picture before Le Scale could change its mind, and that second digit!

For the record: My toes aren’t horribly disfigured or even particularly camera shy. I am however a Good Southahn Girl who happens to be woefully delinquent in removing chipped polish, I am also well-versed in The Rules about such things and feel that they apply equally to posting pictures of one’s feet in any context so I placed my poor little neglected toes in the Toe Polish Protection Program for purposes of sharing the important part of the picture which is . . .

The F-I-V-E in the tens column. I honestly can’t remember the last time there was a five in the tens column on a scale I was anywhere near. With or without a camera handy.

So that was yesterday.


Today’s Big Improvement is that I have ‘stepped down’ the level of support I’m providing to Ye Olde Patellar Tendon. After several days back to wearing the big, bulky brace

and ending two of those days pain free I decided to drop back to one of those groovy little knee bands.

So far, so good.  And in the interests of full disclosure – mine is black, not red.  So no, that isn’t my knee.
If I continue having no pain at the end of the day, I think on Saturday I’m going to get out and walk a mile or two at a good clip and see how it responds to that.
But no running.
Yet.

The One With Whining AND Confessions

If my life, and this blog, were an episode of Friends that post title up there would be what this particular ‘episode’ is both called and about.
You have been warned.

I am still in “rehab” mode for my knee.
Until yesterday I had been pain/twinge free for five days.
I feel like I need one of those tote boards you see in factories and on military bases that proclaim ” ‘X’ Many Days Incident Free!” hanging around my neck. (Which, by the way, I now have a whole new respect for.)
After two of those pain/twinge free days I decided that the brace I’d picked up was actually starting to do more harm than good in that it was causing irritation and inflamation on the back of my knee. I sought the counsel of my super-chiropractor before committing to not wearing the brace and he said I should be okay without it.
Back to “Until yesterday”.
I stood up and out of nowhere there it was, the twinge of pain behind my knee. Which continued into the night and was still there this morning.
Today I’m back to wearing the brace.

And now, it’s time for The Rest of The Story.

Since I’ve been unable to run I haven’t really been handling it with all the Zen embracement of “It is what it is” and “This is the Universe’s way of getting me to add balance to my workouts” blah blah crap I’ve been spouting.
The truth is that while I can totally see and embrace the benefits of adding strength training and yoga to my running routing, doing them instead of running feels too much like conceding defeat. It’s like I’m somehow admitting “I’m never going to run again “. And that’s a thought I’m not particularly fond of.
So I’ve “rested” my knee.  A lot.  Like totally and completely with zero actually doing anything – even the strength training, core work, and yoga I know are an integral part of the healing.

And then there’s my diet.
Oh my mindfully selected, balanced, for-a-purpose diet. How I miss thee.
Don’t get me wrong now, I haven’t exactly re-embraced my Inner Hamburgler. I’m not defaulting to drive-thrus and full-on crap at every meal.
Actually it isn’t the meals I am eating that are the problem. It’s the ones I’m not. Chiefly breakfast.
And the ice cream.
Oh the ice cream.
It has become my friend.
My very dear, sweet, cold, creamy, endorphin-inducing friend. And I’m really not much of a sweets eater.

The diet/eating thing is a twofold problem really.
Without running my metabolism has slowed down and frankly I’m just not hungry early in the mornings.
Without running I know my body isn’t burning as many calories so a long-dormant part of my brain has gone back to “Don’t eat what you’re not going to burn off” mode. And yes, I know (as we Southerners are wont to say) that dog don’t hunt.

And the scale?
Shall we not even discuss its generosity on Tuesday in finding and returning three-and-a-half pounds I had accidentally left somewhere on my last few runs. Thanks.

So.
What’s a girl to do?
Well. So far she’s wallowed. And I am not a wallower.  Really.
Since about the 3.5 mile mark on Saturday, February 18th. I just looked on a calendar and that’s nearly three weeks of wallowing. And I’m generally not one to wallow.
Yowch!
No wonder we’re paining/twinging again.
When you don’t do what needs to be done to fix something, chances are better than average it’s going to stay broken.

Again, I ask you: What’s. A. Girl. To. Do?!
It’s really pretty simple.
She stops wallowing.
She stops feeling sorry for her inability to run at this time.
She realizes, embraces, and puts into action the inimitable words of Edward Everett Hale:

I am only one; but still I am one.
I cannot do everything; but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

and she will get her (slightly ampler) behind in gear doing the strength training, yoga work, and walking that she can do.
She can get her diet/eating habits back in line/under control. She can mindfully plan her meals and follow that plan.
She can begin – tonight – doing the strengthening exercises she knows to do. She can actually do that “half hour of yoga before bedtime” she’s been promising to do every night for a week now.

And so.
She shall.
Look forward to our next episode: The One With the Kept Intentions

Is there a Yoga Zone?

I put up last night’s post and went to bed confident that My Plan was going to work flawlessly.  I’d ace six today, maybe even eight, and three weeks from tomorrow I would complete my first half-marathon.
Yeah.
Well.
What’s that they say about intentions and paver stones?
That.

Regardless how solid my plan was or how strong my resolve in that plan, my left knee just wasn’t up to it.  While I didn’t get all the way to six miles, I did arrive at the inescapable conclusion that I will not in fact be participating in the March 18th half-marathon we are registered for.  Rich will be running it alone.  I did get further today than I have since this whole mess started three or four weeks ago, the ping/twinge didn’t hit until 4.38 miles today as opposed to sidelining me at 3.25 or 3.5 so that was progress of a sort.

After doing a lot of online research and talking to other runners, I believe that what I am dealing with is a simple case of Runner’s Knee.  I have believed that all along.  I continue to believe that.
I have friends – wonderful, loving, concerned friends – who are calling for me to see an Orthopedic doctor.  And I will.  As soon as I have exhausted every other avenue.
I have an appointment with my chiropractor on Wednesday and at that time he’s going to take a look at the knee, give me an adjustment, recommend some exercises, and we will give my body time to heal itself.  I do have a very good chiropractor who will refer me to an ortho doc if he sees any reason to believe I’ve done damage that needs more than time and rest to resolve itself.
I won’t be running.
At most I’ll do a couple miles on an elliptical machine but only when I am able to do normal daily activities, like oh, say, walking without pain.  And yoga.  There will be yoga.  But neither of those things until after I see Dr. Jeff on Wednesday.

Between now and then it’s Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Until I can get a good knee brace the compression is taking the form of an Ace Bandage.  Which gets the job done.

Since I a most likely looking at a good month off of running I’m going to have to be extra diligent with my diet to keep from putting weight back on.  And hey, I’d been asked to write more about that aspect of things anyway.  So to keep this blog on everybody’s radar I’ll be doing that.

And I’ll be sure to let you know if/when I find The Zone in Yoga.

Happy Side Effects and Learning Curves

When I started running last July I weighed somewhere around 176 pounds.
I weighed myself yesterday morning and I am at 161.5.
That’s roughly 15 pounds in 29 weeks.
1/2 pound per week.
The ‘slow and steady’ kind that guarantees permanent results.
Which is a good thing.
But weight loss wasn’t why I started running.
Pretty ironic for a woman who’s been “on a diet” since 1979 (funny, that’s about a year after I last ran voluntarily).
For the record: I am 5′ 4″. 

No, I started running, as stated on my About page here, for a couple different reasons.
Yes, there was that “my husband was a runner and I think he misses it ” thing.
But more than that was the whole
faux Nike ad from What Women Want.  I wanted to feel that way when and from running. I wanted that love affair with “The Road”.  And slowly but surely, that has become more than just a tear-jerking scene in a Helen Hunt movie for me. I have come to love “The Road” and love that unconditional acceptance from “The Road” no matter how long it’s been since the last time I met with it/her.

And along with that has come what I call the Happy Side Effect of weight loss!

Ahhh weight loss. Let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we?

This time last year I was edging dangerously close to hitting the 200 pound mark for the second time in my life, and neither of those resulted in a bouncing baby anybody.
My blood pressure had been ‘borderline high’ (130/80) for a good four years, my cholesterol numbers have stayed below 300, but the ‘good’ cholesterol was a little on the low side and the ‘bad’ cholesterol was a little on the high side. (My personal jury is still out on that good/bad cholesterol thing, but I err on the side of caution and take the doctor’s word for it.)
I got winded walking up a flight of more than five stairs; my ankles, knees, hips, and lower back hurt far more often than there was ever any reason for them to. I wasn’t in “bad” health, nothing life-limiting, but still not as good as it could have been.
I was, in short, The Average, Low-End-of-Obesity, Out-of-Shape, American.

Fast-forward to today.
Yes, I’m losing weight.
And for the first time in thirty-four years I don’t have a Goal Weight.
That amazing, amorphously specific, all-consuming, unattainabe Number.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I thought I had one.
Wanna know what it was?
One Hundred Thirty-Five Pounds.
I am, as previously stated, 5’4″ tall and depending on which “Ideal Weight Chart” you choose to believe in my “Healthy Weight” is anywhere between 105 and 150 pounds. And I have made the trip from one end to the other of that spectrum – including a lot of swings way off that higher end – numerous times.

The truth is that I have no clue what a healthy weight is for me.
Not a truly healthy one.
And certainly not a healthy, slender one.

I know how to get skinny.
I have “attained” that particular “goal” by: starving myself; abusing diet pills (the old-school, early 80s, over-the-counter kind); abusing laxatives (that’s a hard one to put in writing); by fad-dieting (name one since 1979 and I’ve probably at least played at it); and by calorie restriction combined with over-exercise.

I know how to work-my-butt-off-out then go home and sabotage my own efforts with not just what I shoved in my face but how much of it I shoved in there.

I know how to over eat healthy.
It doesn’t matter how whole the grains are, how lean the meat is, how fresh the vegetables are, or how high the fiber is if you eat two or three times as much of something as is necessary or healthy.

What I don’t know is this: I have absolutely no idea what a healthy weight is on my body with the combination of eating a reasonable, healthy diet and consistently exercising.
None.
I don’t know if “That Number” is 135 pounds, 145 pounds, or 125 pounds.

I have never known my body in a truly balanced, healthy state.
Okay, that’s not true.
When I was eight, nine, ten years old I knew my body in that state.
Because when I was about eight years old my mother went through what my family called her “Health Food Kick”. She started reading Adelle Davis’ books and eliminated all processed food from our diet. And at that age I was playing outside – physically active – more hours of the day than I was sitting in front of a television. In school we had actual Physical Education Class, and Recess. You remember Recess don’t you? (And not the adorably quirky Disney Cartoon.)

The only other time in my life that I was intentionally, all-around healthy was when I was pregnant with my son.
I was diligent about what I ate. I was conscious of sodium consumption because I was determined that I was not going to develop edema which my Ob/Gyn was nearly obsessive about. Having suffered two previous miscarriages I was (as we Southerners are wont to say) dead-set and by-god determined to bring a healthy child into the world so I ate healthy like it was my job.
I wasn’t “working out” per se, but I was in college which had me moving from class to class in different buildings, and my workstudy job entailed giving campus tours which was a lot of walking!

But past that I honestly have no clue what my body being nourished and moved and functioning as a truly healthy, living entity looks or feels like. This is the Learning Curve from this post’s title. Learning what exactly a truly healthy body feels – and yes looks – like for me.
What is its size?
What is its shape?
What does it feel like?
And yeah, a little bit of me wants to learn what That Healthy – Truly Healthy – Number is.

What I do know is this: My body – given a healthy diet and consistent exercise – will let me know what its healthy weight is.

I am that incredible combination of excited and terrified to find out what THAT number is!

Pickin’ it up – Switchin’ it up

Our Half-Marathon training has turned a corner and is increasing in mileage. Instead of two  half-hour easy runs through the week and a long run on Saturday, we’re now up to one half-hour easy run, one endurance run, and increasing long runs on Saturdays.

In order to have time to run AND get to our day jobs we’ve had to switch from running early (5 am) to running after work. While I completely understand the necessity of having more time for longer runs, and I definitely slept great last night after running four miles, I have to admit I have missed starting my day with that head-clearing run and the energy that follows me all day long.

Saturday we run six miles. I’ve never even walked six miles all at once just for the sake of doing it. I find myself excited about, looking forward to, picturing the rounte in my mind, and the thought of adding distance every week. That’s the part I find myself most terr-excit-ified about!
This is NOT me people! Well not the me I was before running.

I’ve switched blog templates here in order to have a larger, more legible font; however I need to get on the external drive where my background and banner images are stored. I’ll do that this weekend. I know, my vast following of readers all missed seeing my running shoes every time you came here. Apologies.

I had a conversation with a co-worker, actually we’ve had the conversation twice, about the whole concept of “goal weights”. Here’s the thing (I say that a lot): I honestly don’t know what my goal weight is right now.
I know what I’ve weighed when I starved myself.
I know what I’ve weighed when I abused diet pills and laxatives.
I know what I’ve weighed when I was over-exercising.
I know what I’ve weighed when I was ‘fighting my weight’ to make someone else happy.
What I don’t know is what I weigh when I am eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly and resonably. (Although there are those whose idea of “reasonable exercise” has nothing to do with half-marathon training/conditioning…)
And that’s the part of this whole little adventure that makes it both exciting and terrifying all in the same moment.

For the first time ever in my life (I’ll be 47 in a month and two days) I am appreciating my body, nurturing my body, treating my body with care, and honestly getting to know my body. What it needs, what it is capable of (a lot more than I gave it credit for), and in learning those things I am going to find out what a truly healthy weight is for me.

My biggest struggle is going to be peeling myself away from “A Number” on the scale. I’m already seeing that despite what seems to be a ‘stuck’ scale my clothes are fitting looser and I feel better all around. The running is getting easier and I am able to go further before I start feeling the fatigue and have to push myself to keep going. And so that’s what I’m learning to use as my barometers.

No, I’m not going to “pitch the scale” there is a certain satisfaction in knowing “That Number”, I just have to learn not to get discouraged when it isn’t exactly what I have in mind as being what it “should be”.

So while my running didn’t necessarily start out as a weight loss thing – although I was hoping for that ‘happy accident’ along the way – it is reframing weight and health for me.