3 Reasons I Didn’t Do the September Whole30

Why didn’t I do the September Whole30? Here’s why.

If you know me or have been following my blog for a while, you know I’m a big fan of the Whole30. I’ve done at least 5 rounds in the last few years and will probably do more. And I always recommend it to others who either want a better relationship with food or who are trying to learn more about how specific foods affect them.

A couple times a year, usually in January and September (September is the new January), there’s a massive group Whole30. It’s great for people who aren’t ready to go it alone, as they share tons of resources and support, and there’s literally thousands (or more) of others doing it with you.

I briefly considered doing the September Whole30 this year, but decided not to for several reasons:

  1. Until recently, I’ve really struggled with my energy levels. While eating Whole30 would certainly help boost my energy, I was worried all the planning and preparation that goes into it would zap any energy I did have.
  2. I wanted to focus more on the things I know I’m sensitive to already without limiting too much else. That meant avoiding dairy, eggs, and gluten, but being free to eat things like rice or corn tortillas (because tacos are basically a food group in our house).
  3. I also wanted to be able to eat at places like Chipotle when I was too tired to cook (the only compliant meat they offer is the pork, which I’m allergic to). Not doing a Whole30 also means I can have store-bought, egg-free mayo because I haven’t found a homemade recipe I like (I buy Just Mayo—it has sugar in it, so it’s not compliant).

After a tough summer struggling with depression, low energy, and almost no exercise, I wanted to focus more on the baby steps: exercising, eating mostly healthy, and doing as little meal prep as possible so I have plenty of time to actually rest and recharge.

I imagine I’ll do another round of Whole30 later this year or early next year when I’m ready for another reset.

Have you ever done (or thought about doing) a Whole30? Did you do the September Whole30?

Tips for Healthy Living

A couple tips for living a healthy lifestyle.

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Elysium Health. Since I’d never heard of the company, I did some digging. What I found is that they’re a health/wellness company that focuses on cellular health (sounds cool, right?). In my research, I found they have a scientific advisory board comprised of 7 Nobel Laureates, which definitely got my attention.

I was excited to see Elysium included one of my own tips for healthy living in their graphic, along with tips from 3 others. The final graphic, which I’ve included below, turned out great, and includes some great tips on healthy living–both from Elysium and the other bloggers.

ElysiumSCBGa

You can learn more about their supplement for cellular health here. (Please note I have not used this supplement, nor am I endorsing the use of any supplements–always talk with your doctor before taking any new supplements.)

As you can see in the graphic, one of my tips is to find an exercise you love and a time of day that works best for you. Yes, variety is good, but sometimes (especially when you’re getting started), just finding something you enjoy is a great way to start. For me, I love running and yoga, and I really like to start my day with exercise. I’ve been running every morning for 22 days in a row now because yoga is off the table (seeing an orthopedist for my shoulder soon).

Here are my 2 other tips for healthy living:

  1. Stay active throughout the day. We’re more sedentary than ever, so staying active is a true challenge. As a writer, I’m glued to my desk and computer all day long. Making a conscious effort to get up and move is crucial. I use my FitBit to give me a reminder to move every hour and I get up and take a quick walk around the office parking lot. It gives me time to stretch my legs and gives my mind a break (especially helpful for combating writer’s block).
  2. Make mindful decisions about your nutrition. You should never follow a diet just because that’s what everyone else is doing. You have to find what works for you. I’m still working on this and my diet is always a work in progress. I highly recommend the Whole30, as it’s a great way to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle while also figuring out which foods are affecting you in a negative way.

What tips do you have for leading a healthier lifestyle? Let me know in the comments!

How Do You Fuel?

Today’s question: How do you fuel for your runs? What do you eat before and/or after your runs?

I’m most curious about what you eat for breakfast if you run in the morning. Do you eat before or after your run in the morning–or both? I’m even more interested in your answer if you have food allergies like me.

I’m on day 19 of my run streak, and almost all my runs have been in the morning before work (usually between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m.). I’m having a hard time figuring out what to eat.

Unfortunately, I have several food allergies, which makes traditional breakfasts more difficult, including: pork (so no bacon or pork sausage) and egg whites. Last week I made a couple sweet potatoes and ate them with some turkey sausage and fruit.

That seemed to work pretty well, as it kept me full long after my run. I know I’ll inevitably get bored with that–even if I’m making small changes like eating different fruits.

I’ve been known to eat salads and other non-breakfast foods for breakfast, but I do enjoy having a meal that feels more like “breakfast”. I used to love savory breakfast meals like sausage and eggs or an omelette. Now that those aren’t an option, I seem to crave them even more.

I do eat turkey and chicken sausage regularly, but I found out the hard way that a couple chicken sausage links just aren’t enough to hold me over until lunch.

So tell me: What do you eat before and after your runs? Any breakfast recipes you’re willing to share?

—AB

What Do You Listen To?

When I first started running, I listened to music. Mostly angry, scream-o music. I was also a much angrier person back then, so maybe that had something to do with it. But the thought of running without any kind of music was just baffling.

I still listen to music on my runs, although sometimes it’s much happier music. Sometimes I don’t listen to anything at all (not often though). Lately, I’ve spent most of my runs listening to podcasts.

I started listening to podcasts back when we were living in Dallas and I was taking my dog on long walks all over the city (Serial, anyone?). While I enjoy all the podcasts I listen to, most of them just aren’t great for running.

After years of following her blog, I finally started listening to her podcasts. Ali Feller of Ali on the Run is a runner, blogger, writer, and lover of dogs. I always loved reading her blog posts, and now I love listening to her podcasts on my runs.

She interviews other runners who have accomplished some incredible PRs and have some really cool jobs, and she also gives tips for running, as well as sneak peaks into her life. I can say for the first time since I started running in college, I actually smile on my runs when I’m listening to her podcast. Sometimes, I even laugh/cough.

Most of her podcasts are on the longer side, so they’re perfect for long runs. Currently, I’m sticking with much shorter runs as I ease myself back into this, so I start the episode on my run and then listen to the rest while I stretch and get ready for work.

It has quickly become one of my favorite ways to start the days and it’s a great alternative to angry music.

What do you listen to on your runs? Do you like music or are you more into podcasts or audiobooks? Let me know—and if you have any other podcast recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

As always, thanks for reading!

—AB

 

Let’s Talk Sports Bras

I don’t know about you, but sports bras have been one of the worst things about trying to live an active life. They’re either not supportive at all or you have to be a magician to get them on and take them off.

I think my first sports bras were the totally non-supportive Champion ones from Target. And since I’ve been well-endowed since before middle school, I had to wear at least two at a time.

Those are what I’d wear to play softball in high school and during gym glasses. They provided zero support, even when doubled up.

In college, as I got more interested in running, I knew I needed something with better support. Luckily, I found Under Armour. I got two black racerback sports bras, which had actual cup sizes (rather than small, medium, large, etc.). This was so long ago, I’m not even sure they still make these bras, but they look similar to this one (please note the below does not come in cup sizes):

Those were more supportive and allowed me to run comfortably for the most part. I still have them, but they’ve stretched out over the years so they’re less than ideal for high impact exercise.

Later in college I discovered Moving Comfort sports bras by Brooks Running. They not only had bras with cup sizes, but band sizes too—and they had options that were actually cute.

My first Moving Comfort bra was a pink and gray Juno style, which is a racerback that goes over your head, but also has the traditional bra clasps in the back:

That bra served me well for a few years, but they were a little expensive on a college student budget, so I never bought a second one. A few years later (after gaining some weight), I started doing yoga.

I loved yoga, but none of my sports bras were right for it. Although the Juno was very supportive for high impact sports like running, it was a little too small and low-cut, making it useless for yoga. Same goes for my slightly stretched out Under Armour bras.

Basically, any time we did forward folds or downward dogs, my chest shifted around so much that I had to readjust every time we were upright again. Pretty distracting.

Eventually, I went to Lululemon to try some of their bras. I wanted something cute but also supportive. What I left with was definitely cute, but definitely not supportive:

The shifting was worse during yoga with that bra, so there’s no way I could ever run in it. I now reserve that bra for doing chores around the house and other very low-impact, fully upright activities.

After asking around, I had a few people recommend a different style by Moving Comfort/Brooks Running. The Fiona was the most recommended style because it has fuller coverage than the Juno and it’s also easy to put on/take off, because it’s not a racerback.

So I finally went and bought one. The Fiona is not cute. The bigger size you need, the less cute the bra (sports or regular). I went with a black one.

It fits well, it’s comfortable, and it provides the support and coverage I need. It still isn’t the one though.

The Fiona has this lining in it that isn’t sewn down. So it wrinkles and can be uncomfortable in general. I also really dislike the band, which constantly folds up. This may or may not have something to do with that lining issue.

While the Fiona is certainly one of the better sports bras I’ve purchased, it’s still not perfect. Maybe the perfect sports bra doesn’t exist. (Or maybe the perfect ones are all out of my price range.)

For now, I’m alternating between the Fiona and the Juno (with my Under Armour ones ready when I haven’t done laundry) while I search for better options.

Have you struggled to find the perfect sports bra? What brands/styles have you tried? Have you found the one? Let me know!

—AB

Getting Back into Blogging—And Running

I took a long and unintended hiatus from blogging. I started a new job back in May and things have been a little hectic ever since.

I had a lot going on personally, which I decided was better not to share on a public platform. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t muster the energy or creativity to do any writing, let alone blogging.

That low energy also meant I was hardly making healthy food choices. When you have so little energy, eating paleo is hardly practical. I turned instead to fast food and other convenience junk foods.

I gained weight, felt like crap, and definitely did not have the energy to exercise. It was a vicious cycle that I’m finally breaking.

With the exception of my lunch on Monday, I’ve cleaned up my diet quite a bit. It hasn’t all been paleo because a couple things have had small amounts of sugar. But it’s progress.

I also started running again. Since I’m still dealing with shoulder pain (since February!) running is one of the few exercises I can do. I am finally going to physical therapy for my shoulder, which I found out has an arthritic spur that’s causing me pain.

After reading an article on runnersworld.com about a runner who has run 250+ days in a row, I was intrigued. She called it a “run streak”, and the only requirement was that she had to run at least a mile every day.

That’s the part that sounded so intriguing. Since I’m a slow runner, long runs take forever. We’re talking 40+ minutes for 3-ish miles, which doesn’t include warmups or cool downs.

But I can run a mile in 12-ish minutes. That’s a much smaller time commitment to try to fit into a busy schedule. So I figured, why not?

I started this past Sunday, and have successfully run at least one mile every day for 5 days. The furthest I’ve run so far is 1.25 miles. I imagine that I’ll eventually start doing some longer runs, especially on the weekends. But for now, running a mile every day is a small but achievable win.

Have you ever tried a run streak (or any other kind of streak)? How long were you able to stick with it?

Thanks for reading!

—AB

Exciting Things Happening

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here. We went on vacation the first week of April, and catching back up with work and other exciting things just made the rest of the month total chaos. I’ll start with telling you about our vacation:

Vacation started with Opening Day. We spent most of the day downtown enjoying the beautiful weather before watching the Cardinals beat the Cubs that night. The next morning, we left for Pensacola, FL. We drove, and somewhere in Tennessee, my check engine light came on. I texted my cousin who does all the work on my cars and he said as long as the light wasn’t flashing, we were okay, but he said to stop by an Autozone to have them pull the code. We did, and fortunately, it was nothing to worry about (we stopped at a Chevy dealer to double check before we drove the rest of the way).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, as any good vacation should be. We ate at all our favorite restaurants and tried a few new places too. We got to go to the beach twice, and we got in the water, believe it or not! The water wasn’t as cold as I expected, but the windiness made getting out of the water freezing! I didn’t have any books to read with me at the beach because I was in between library loans (I had just returned one and was on several waiting lists for others, which, of course, weren’t available until we got back).

It ended up being a great vacation, albeit a little too short (driving really cuts down on the amount of time you get to spend relaxing!).

When we got back from vacation, things were more than a little hectic. We still hadn’t finished our taxes, mice were still nesting in our oven (that should probably be its own post), and my car needed an oil change, plus we needed to figure out exactly why the check engine light came on.

On top of all that, I got called in to interview for a job I had applied for. The interview went really well and they offered me the job the next day. After some negotiations, I accepted the job! I put in my two weeks’ with my freelancing jobs and I start my new job as a full-time copywriter tomorrow! 🙂

All this craziness and stress had not helped my shoulder, though, and my other shoulder started hurting too. I went back to the doctor but got no answers, which was really frustrating. Finally, I decided to try getting a massage to see if that would help. It was only my second massage ever, and it was my first deep tissue massage. It ended up being so much better than my first. It didn’t eliminate my shoulder pain right away, but by the next day, I felt so much looser and more relaxed in my shoulders, upper back, and neck. I may need to make deep tissue massages a regular addition to my self-care. I’m still having some slight tenderness in my right shoulder, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before.

I’ve been running a lot more lately to make up for all the yoga I’m not doing. Most of my runs have been with Copper, which makes them more challenging because she stops so suddenly! That stopping and starting really works the legs! My runs are slowly improving, though, so at least I’m seeing some progress. I’m probably going to start doing some light weightlifting again to start re-strengthening my arms. More than a month without any weightlifting has made me weak! I’m considering going back to yoga, too, and just avoiding/modifying poses that will cause my shoulder too much irritation. We’ll see how my first week at the new job goes!

I hope you’ve all been well! I’m hoping to blog a little more frequently now that things are starting to calm down! 🙂

-AB