My Struggles with Balance (Diet)
I am fairly positive that many of you out there struggle with balancing your lives in a healthy manner. I for one, find it extremely difficult and that is in ALL aspects of my life. I guess I have always been that way. And it doesn’t seem to get any easier as I get older, even after assuming I would eventually figure it out as time progressed. Not. Even. Close. Thankfully, I do get a little frustrated with this “cycle” of putting my all into one thing and then spotting the areas that have been suffering. But since here I mostly want to talk about running, I will relate this post specifically to that subject.
It is no secret that I love running. Let me say it again, I LOVE RUNNING! I love running so much that I forget about all the other important things that actually afford me this privilege, the most serious of which is my health. It does seem like a no-brainer doesn’t it? That if I am healthy (body, mind and spirit), I will have the world at my fingertips, or rather in my case, the running trails at my toe tips. My struggles of balance fall between two major categories: diet and cross-training. I didn’t make room for either of them. I just ran and hoped that would be enough. It clearly wasn’t. Right now I just want to talk about the diet part and I am working on being more balanced, doing whatever I can do to improve my overall health (most important and not related to running) and to become the best runner I can possibly be. Being the best runner won’t happen from just running alone, it will require a better diet that will boost my immunity, aid in recovery and ensure I am out there somewhere on the trails.
I have always followed the “runners can eat anything” rule. Donuts were my biggest vice; I could polish off a half dozen of donuts in one setting. Suggested serving sizes were laughable. I never ate in moderation. I just ate. On the outside I looked fit and healthy, but in reality I was breaking all the rules. I could go nearly all day without having a sip of water; I can work through breakfast and lunch. Sometimes I’d realize that I hadn’t even eaten fruits or veggies in a few days. My bank statements repeatedly listed Del Taco and Taco Bell as debit purchases, sometimes consecutively. Gross, right?
It wasn’t until I started hanging out more with my friend Ashley that the guilt started to filter in. Not the kind of guilt that was aimed at me, but from observing her lifestyle changes which were influenced by tons of research (both books and documentaries) and even her own little health scare. This girl eats tons of fruits and veggies during her workday and obsesses about labels, preservatives and products that are gluten-free. Most recently she even tried to make the transition from vegetarian to vegan. She hasn’t had a cold in years. Very impressive.
Knowing myself and my compulsiveness, I decided to make small changes in small increments.
I first (mostly) gave up donuts a few months ago. This was probably the hardest thing to do because I absolutely love going to donut shops in the morning to buy a maple bar AND some other sort of old fashion assortment. If I bought a dozen of donuts and brought them home, I could bet by the end of the day they would be gone. No self-control with these little demons. I also gave up most junk food that happens to be in the form of pastries.
I then decided to ease up on eating meat. Part of this was to keep me out of the In-N-Out drive thru and the other part was finding myself disgusted with eating anything that had a heartbeat before it ended up on my plate. I know the ins and outs and pros of cons of eating or not eating meat and I know that I could easily incorporate it into my diet in a healthy way, but this was the best way to keep me out of the drive-thru where you could bet I’d also order some french fries and a coke. And yet no matter how I tried to justify getting meat out of my diet, I still couldn’t shake the idea of eating a chicken, pig or cow (anymore).
Even D started to research and actively follow the Fruitarian Diet which no doubt got me thinking that I need to be more healthy. I need some more of these colorful fruits in my life. A little too extreme for me, to only eat raw fruits day in and day out, I can’t do it, but I do recognize the benefits. I would not suggest for someone to in one day, after following a regular diet jump right into this. This kind of diet takes A LOT of research; you need to make sure you are getting all the nutrition you need through variety and a LOT of fruit. I am talking pounds and pounds a day. Enough fruit that you need to go to a wholesale market or farm to make your purchases. This diet is not a fad; it literally is a lifestyle that can be great if you are really prepared. Imagine road trips, visits to friends and family, etc. You have to load your cars with this stuff or else you find yourself hungry or falling off the wagon. D is doing a great job so far and has put a lot of time and effort into this transition and has been flexible enough that when we are together every few weekends, he tries to accommodate my eating needs so I don’t have to worry about where or what we can eat. I have even noticed Catra Corbett is also going Fruitarian which is probably an easier effort based on her vegetarian/vegan diet for the past 15+ years! For me, I am more into baby steps…
Finally, I started taking supplements. Supplements just as the dictionary defines as, “Something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.” I didn’t take them to replace eating fruits or veggies for example, I started to take them in conjunction with them because as I began changing my overall diet for the better, I realized I still had a long way to go before I got things right on my own. Small increments, remember? My supplement choices were based on my diet and recovery efforts (within an extreme training program that is known as ultramarathon running).
Here is what I incorporated:
- Multi-Vitamin (for women)
- Krill Oil
- Jarrow Formulas Ultra Bone-Up
- Udo’s Oil (Mostly as a salad dressing.)
So here I am today and I have a long way to go. I feel good about this change. I feel like my mood has even been stabilized and I assume that is from not having the mid-day crash that I was experiencing for years. I am having fun adding different types of fruits and vegetables into my diet too. And to be quite frank, I had a breakdown a few weekends ago where I ate six donuts in a five minute period; last night I ate a whole bar of chocolate while in bed and in the dark; and, just this morning, I ate an entire bag of potato chips for breakfast. As far as the meat is concerned, I still want fish in my diet – cans of skip jack and sushi whenever I crave it. Go figure, it doesn’t make sense but I don’t want to totally deprive myself of things I love because I know that I will just break down and lose track of what I am trying to accomplish. Another thing, even though I wince at meat products now, I still long for the excuse to have me a double-single-animal style burger with chopped chiles from In-N-Out. Hopefully this craving will pass and if not, I will just order it if I feel like I have to have it. Small steps Trace.
Big ups to you Trace for being more aware about what you put into your body. In the long run it will only help you be a better runner. A friend of mine said something to the effect of “the color of spinach and kale symbolizes the money you put in the fitness bank when you eat it”. Good food in and your body will cash in later.
I went #paleo a few months back, and while not the same as what you’re doing, it is still ALL about the preparation. Keeping the fridge stocked with fresh fruits and veggies at all times is the only way to truly make it a lifestyle. But if you come prepared, its really not all that difficult. Keep it up!
February 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm
Thanks Scott, I appreciate it. It is a big struggle for me everyday to eat the right things. I loved the paleo diet and played with it a few years ago. Still love the Paleo Diet for Athletes book. Good luck to you on your new journey. Ashley always says, “Fail to plan and plan to fail.” Oh, and thanks for the Twitter follow!
February 21, 2013 at 10:43 pm