Being Thankful for What’s Missing

Fall tends to make me feel wistful. When I was a runner, fall was my favorite time of year to run. There is nothing better than a run through streets that are lined with trees exploding with color, with the crisp morning breeze brushing my cheeks. Even though the falling leaves are a reminder that death approaches, never did I feel so alive as when I was running through the beauty of autumn.

It’s been three years since I last ran. I was training to run the St. Jude half marathon when I started having problems with hip pain, and it was on this day three years ago that I finally admitted defeat and knew I wouldn’t be running that race. I had hoped to take up running again after my hip surgeries, but that has not been possible yet.

IMG_0843

I feel the ache of that longing to run hit me at unexpected times, like this morning as I drove my daughter to school and looked at the fall foliage and thought how great it would be to run underneath the gray, cloudy sky. I will hear a catchy, upbeat song on the radio and even now still think to myself, “That would be an awesome running song.” Despite not running anymore, I guess sometimes I still think like a runner.

I wrestled with God a lot about letting go of running. I couldn’t understand how I had to say goodbye to something that was good for me, that made me feel strong and healthy and happy, especially when my body was constantly reminding me that I was weak and broken. Three years later I can’t say that I understand why I can’t run. I can’t really say with certainty why most of what has happened to me the last five years has happened. And ultimately, why isn’t the point; it’s what I do with what happens to me that matters. It’s why gratitude has been a lifeline for me. If I didn’t consistently ask the Lord to help me be grateful, I would instead find myself a very bitter woman.

Today I could have gone into a tailspin of self-pity, thinking about how sad it is that I can’t run. But instead I remembered some of my favorite runs and rejoiced in the fact that I once knew what a runner’s high felt like, that I once tasted the thrill of pushing myself to do something I didn’t think I could do, that I once did cross the finish line of a half marathon. Running was a happy surprise in my life; I was never athletic or physically active, and my body is not what you would consider a “typical” runner’s body. The fact that I was ever a runner at all is a blessing. I’m thankful that I was able to call myself a runner, if only for a few years, because it awakened in me a part of myself I didn’t know was there. If I’m ever able to run again, I will embrace every slow step and every shaky breath, and know that even if one run is all I get, it will be enough.

Weigh-In Wednesday: Stalled

Last week’s weight: 201.4
This week’s weight: 200.2
LOSS of 1.2 pounds

I can’t believe I am SO CLOSE to being in the 190s but can’t get there! Sure, I lost a little bit, but this is the same weight I was three weeks ago. I am not making progress.

I worked out 4 times between last Wednesday and yesterday. I tracked my food EVERY day, including the weekends. Here are my calorie totals for each day, with any workout I did that day in parentheses next to that:

Wednesday: 1,549
Thursday: 1,667
Friday: 1,522 (33 minutes running)
Saturday: 1,640* (I am pretty sure I ate more than this, but I did not know the calorie counts of everything I ate.)
Sunday: 1,779 (45 minutes running)
Monday: 1,957 (30 minutes running)
Tuesday: 1,489 (25 minutes walking)

So Saturday and Monday were not great days in terms of calories, but I think the others are reasonable. My calorie range, as determined by SparkPeople, is 1360-1710, so going by that I went over my range 3/7 days. Looking at it like that makes me realize that every little bit counts. Even though I tracked everything, I wasn’t as diligent as I could have been about making the right nutritional choices. I think in the back of my mind I was thinking, “I worked out today, so I can eat a little extra.” This line of thinking is silly since it’s not like I’m working out for an insane amount of time and burning tons and tons of calories, but nevertheless I found myself thinking it.

To sum it up: cardio can’t make up for poor eating habits. I have to have self-control, or I will never get anywhere with weight loss.

I WILL be in the 190s next week, or I’m shaving my eyebrows.

(Well, maybe not.)

Moving Forward

So, yesterday was Wednesday. (I know, aren’t you glad you have me around to bring you the late-breaking news?) It should have been weigh-in day for me, but I didn’t weigh myself. For one, I was sick and spent most of the day lying around, and two, I knew it wouldn’t be a number I’d want to see. The truth is, I let my 4 pound weight loss from last week boost my confidence, but it didn’t boost my self-control. Lame, huh? I didn’t track anything over the weekend, and that’s a sure sign that I’m not being mindful of my eating.

The only thing I did do well last week was exercise. I rocked my workouts, and on Saturday I ran my longest distance since October 2012: 4 miles! I even got up early and was out running before 7 a.m. on a Saturday, which is unheard of for me. And the best part is I loved every minute of it. I told myself I would take it slow and walk if I had to, but I was completing 4 miles. No excuses. So even though I wanted to throw in the towel around mile 3 and was wishing with every step that I lived in a flat neighborhood, I just kept running. I let myself enjoy the morning and soaked in the sun peeking over the horizon, the breeze tickling my face, and the stillness of the neighborhood. It was, dare I say, fun!

Post-run victory glow.

Post-run victory glow.

The victory of that run was so exciting, and yet I feel like my lack of discipline with my eating spoiled it somewhat. I feel frustrated that I can’t get everything right at the same time and frustrated that I’m already having setbacks after just 2 weeks of trying to lose weight. But the good news? Tomorrow is a new day and a new month, and I haven’t messed those up yet. I will face the scale tomorrow and move forward.

One pound at a time, one day at a time, one choice at a time.

Listening to My Guts

Semi-serious disclaimer: if you don’t like posts that discuss bowel issues, this isn’t the post for you.

152 days. The St. Jude Half Marathon is 152 days, or approximately 21.7 weeks, from tomorrow (Monday). That seems like a lot of time, but the truth is, those days will fly by, and before I know it, race day will be here.

With race day looming in the not-so-distant future, I need to start thinking more seriously about my training. My running the past few months has been lackluster, to say the least. For example, in May I started using the Strava app on my runs. It’s a GPS tracker that logs your runs or walks and then saves them online. It will track your personal bests in certain distances and will tell you when you’ve hit certain goals. Even though I don’t think it’s the most accurate of the GPS apps I’ve used, I like it because there’s a social component to it. Strava has groups you can join and allows you to follow different people’s feeds. Basically, it allows me to see how lame my running is in comparison with the rest of the running world. 😉 Anyway, since I started using Strava in May, I have logged a total of 29.8 miles. That’s for all of May and June and the first week of July (and 9 of those miles were just this past week!). To put that in perspective, many runners run 29 miles (and often more) in one WEEK, not over the span of several weeks. Clearly, I need to up my game if I ever plan on finishing that half marathon in December.

The only problem with this need to increase my running? My darn bowels. It seems that I can’t make it through a run of longer than 20 minutes without feeling the urge to use the bathroom. Fortunately, right now all of my running has been in my neighborhood, so if I am on a run and have to go, I am never more than half a mile or so from my front door. Still, there is nothing more frustrating than being on a run, listening to tunes, feeling the breeze, and enjoying the sweat dripping down my face (well, okay, that last part not so much), only to have that all interrupted by the need for the bathroom. The first time it happened I thought it was just a fluke, but it’s now become a regular occurrence. And if it’s a run of 3 miles or longer, then I can expect to have issues for several hours after the run as well.

Honestly, I was not expecting this. With the exception of the past few weeks, my ulcerative colitis has been relatively inactive this year, which is one of the reasons I was so eager to do this race. I felt like my body was finally ready to handle consistent running again for the first time in almost 2 years, and I knew having a race to train for would help me be disciplined with exercising, but maybe I was wrong in thinking I could do this. Or maybe this is my new normal and what I have to deal with as a runner who also has an inflammatory bowel disease. When I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, my GI doctor advised against long distance running because of the stress it puts on the GI tract, but while I took him seriously, I also dismissed him as being overly cautious. I have read of many people with IBD who run half marathons or even marathons, so why couldn’t I do it? But what I am facing now is the possibility that while I may be able to run the half marathon eventually, doing so will come with a price. It’s not as though I’m running anything even approaching a “long distance” right now, and I’m already experiencing problems. My longest run to date is the one I ran tonight: 3.5 miles.

So the dilemma I’m facing is this: do I keep running and keep dealing with the bathroom stops, knowing that more than likely they’ll only increase as my mileage does? I know that GI issues with running aren’t limited to only those who have IBD, so is there another solution? Do I switch to a run/walk method? Do I stop running and just content myself with lighter forms of exercise, like walking? I really don’t know what the answer is. One thing I do know for sure: one way or another, I am crossing that finish line on December 6!