100 Days of Running

Reflections on 100 days of running.

My run streak reached 100 days last Wednesday (and is still going strong—day 108 today)! If you had told me 100+ days ago that I’d run 100 days in a row, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

I’ve accomplished so much over the past 100 days. I’ve run two 5ks (and PR’d in the second!). My pace has improved. I’ve pushed my limits on speed and distance. I’ve learned when it’s time to take it easy.

Most importantly, I’ve learned my body is capable of far more than I give it credit for. This run streak started because of my shoulder injury, which was keeping me from doing yoga and lifting weights. In fact, I had stopped exercising regularly altogether after my shoulder injury.

My run streak added much-needed regular exercise back into my life. It reminded me to be grateful for what I am capable of rather than dwelling on all the things I can’t do.

IMG_2596.jpg
The face of someone who spent the last 100 days running!

I have no idea if I’ve lost weight. (My clothes aren’t fitting much looser, so probably not.) But the weight loss (or lack of) doesn’t matter. I feel better. My mind is clearer. My body hurts the way it should after exercise.

Running every day has made me want to improve other aspects of my life, too. I’m trying to make my way back to eating mostly paleo (and I’m planning to do the January Whole30!). I’m trying to make my sleep a priority so I’m rested enough to run every day. And I’m making more time in my days for quiet reflection and journaling.

These 100 days haven’t been easy (I’ve been harassed twice now), but they’ve been 100% worth it. I don’t have any specific run streak goals. I just want to keep the streak alive for as long as possible. I do have plans to run a 10k and half marathon in 2018, though. Stay tuned for my posts reflecting on 2017 and all my goals for 2018!

Have you ever tried a running streak? (Or any other type of streak?) How did it go and how long did it last? Let me know in the comments!

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

Health Check-Up

I have not been eating super healthy so far this year. The chaos of the new year and a second job made it easy to eat whatever was most convenient, regardless of how unhealthy it was. After some nasty breakouts (due to my overconsumption of dairy, I assume), I have decided that what I’m doing is ridiculous.

I completely avoid peanuts, beef, pork, and lamb, because I’m allergic. But I’m also allergic/sensitive to wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs, and I eat those whenever I want. No, I don’t break out into hives or go into anaphylaxis when I eat these things. But they do make me feel pretty crappy. So why in the hell do I keep eating them?

Good question. Convenience, mostly. If I strictly avoid all those foods, I’m inconveniencing my husband, my family, my friends, and myself. Because I love dairy and I enjoy foods that contain gluten (hello pizza!). What I fail to focus on is that these foods are negatively affecting my health. And I shouldn’t be compromising my health just because it’s inconvenient.

I finally told my husband that it’s just nonsense that I completely avoid certain foods I’m allergic to and not others. So we’re going to start focusing on avoiding foods that have anything I’m allergic to in them. I’m not going to worry about whether what we’re eating is paleo or Whole30. I’m just going to focus on not eating the foods that make me sick.

What a revelation! To make it seem a little less overwhelming, we’re taking it week by week. No, I’m not going to die if I eat cheese or eggs. So if we end up at a restaurant or family dinner where certain things are unavoidable, I’m not going to sweat it. But I am going to make more of an effort to find restaurants where I can eat without having to make those compromises (if you have any recommendations, please send them my way!).

I have to stop saying it’s okay to eat these things whenever I don’t feel like inconveniencing someone. They don’t make me feel good, so I need to stop eating them. No, they don’t always make me physically sick. But they show up in other ways: Dairy makes my skin break out in nasty pimples and I get eczema on my toes and fingers. Too much gluten upsets my stomach. Eggs really upset my stomach. It’s too difficult to try to moderate how much dairy I can have before I start seeing its effects on my skin. It’s much easier to just cut them out of my daily diet altogether. So that’s what I plan to do.

Do you have food allergies? What are they and how do you deal with them? Any good restaurant suggestions?

2017 Goals Check-In

I posted my 12 goals for 2017 about a month ago. Now that we’re a month into the new year, I figured I’d do a check-in to see how things are going. Some things I have really focused on while others I’ve made little to no progress with at all. I started the year off by doing yoga every day (31 Days of Yoga by Yoga with Adriene) which was incredible. I’m going to continue trying to practice yoga every day.

I can’t remember the last time I did any strength training exercises. I was feeling a little under the weather early in the month and thought lifting weights would just make me feel worse. Since I’ve been doing yoga–sometimes twice a day–I just haven’t gotten back into the weights. I’m hoping to get back to that this month. I also have not gone for a run in what seems like forever. I’m just not cut out for cold weather running, and the days it has been warmer, I haven’t felt up to getting out there.

We haven’t done any traveling yet, but we’ve got a nice vacation fund going. We’re hoping to take our first trip sometime this March or April. It’s kind of up in the air right now, but hopefully we get it planned soon.

Toward the end of the month, I finally got some inspiration to do a little writing. As a freelance copywriter, that’s all I do, all day every day. By the end of the day, it’s hard to find the energy or inspiration to do my own thing. But for the past week or so, I’ve been working on a little side project that I’m pretty excited about! Hopefully I can get it finished in another week or two.

I’m not quite sure if I’m on track for my “read one book a month” goal. But I’m almost finished with our first book of the year for book club and I’ve got a long TBR list going. I finally gave up on audiobooks. They just aren’t for me. But I’ve been making it more of a priority to read at least a little bit each day, so I think that’s going to help me with this goal.

I finally took that social media hiatus I’ve been thinking about for more than a month. I’ve been social-media-free for two full days now and it has felt great. I have so much free time now that I’m not constantly checking Facebook. I’ve been reading, writing, and I even got my violin out and got it tuned yesterday.

I haven’t made a ton of progress on my other goals so far, but it’s still early in the year, so I’m not too worried. I’m excited about the changes I’ve made so far and looking forward to making more changes to bring me closer to my goals.

Tell me about your 2017 goals. Are you still going strong after one month?

Turkey Trot Recap

I wanted to write this a little sooner, but things have been busy with the holidays. Last Thursday on Thanksgiving I woke up early and we drove out to Edwardsville so I could run in their Turkey Trot 5k. It was my first ever Turkey Trot. Why Edwardsville? Because Chris’s company was sponsoring the race. Plus I figured the course would be much flatter than the ones closer to home!

Unfortunately, it was a bit colder in Edwardsville than it was in Florissant, but once I started running, it wasn’t so bad. They had a wave start based on your estimated pace and finish time. I was one of the last groups to go, lol. Thankfully, I was right, and the course was pretty flat. It ran along a trail in town that was a little narrow, but fine otherwise. The course also went through parts of SIUE. There was one BIG hill during that part of the race, somewhere in mile 2, I think.

After that, it was pretty flat and smooth. I managed to keep my pace under 12 minutes/mile throughout the entire race. My official time was 35:53 and my official pace was 11:35. I don’t remember my official time or pace from my last 5k in October, but my time was around 38 minutes. So I improved quite a bit in just one month’s time.

img_1640
Pre-Turkey Trot

The rest of Thanksgiving was spent with family. We had lunch with Chris’s family and dessert later with my family. I did not attempt to eat paleo or Whole30 at either of those meals. But I was mindful of what I ate. I ate some of the mac ‘n cheese I made, along with turkey, stuffing, salad, and a sweet potato. Chris’s mom made pecan pie and that’s one of my favorites, and I only get it once a year. So I had some pie. Worth it.

I ate gluten and I ate dairy. And I probably ate eggs in some form. I felt okay afterward. I got back to eating paleo this week and have felt much better. I’ve been avoiding eggs, dairy, and gluten in particular. I even remembered not to eat the skin on my baked potato yesterday. It’s not perfect, but it’s practical 😉

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I’ll be back soon to tell you all about my Harder to Kill Challenge, as it will be wrapping up this weekend!

-AB