Bouncing Back

A few months ago I decided enough is enough. Have you ever allowed yourself extra ‘treats’ you’d normally pass over but all of a sudden you find yourself indulging in because you just completed a big run or better yet, a goal race? But then all of a sudden weeks have gone by and you’re still treating yourself? And it doesn’t feel so good anymore.

In my case it was months. The first 3 months were out of control (Christmas was in that time frame and I ate and drank everything – need I say more?!!). My cravings were completely out of control. I’d eat – and literally turn around 20 minutes later wanting to eat again. Anything with sugar or made with any type of flour. I was hungry all the time.

In January I mostly got rid of the foods I know personally make me feel awful and don’t agree with me (gluten and dairy). So now my treats were mostly ‘eat2run’ treats (aka healthy versions of traditional cookies or muffins) – just way too many at once. A batch of power cookies would come out of the oven and I’d eat four. Maybe six. All at once. Because I just ran a 100-miler. I ate whole bars of (dark) chocolate at once and went through a case of kombucha each week. How could that be so wrong – it’s all good food right? Plus I’d just run a 100-miler. I’d stop on the way home and get a big huge cinnamon bun – with icing. Or order food at restaurants I knew wouldn’t agree with me but sounded so tantalizing on the menu. Why? Because I just ran a 100-miler.

The only problem was that my 100-miler was now over 5 months in the past. I’d been using it as an excuse to eat things I never should have been eating, even if in celebration! Why consume foods I have a known sensitivity to? Why would I do that? From past experience, I know exactly the devastating effects it can have on my health. I knew was eating far too many carbs (for my body type) all the while struggling with fatigue that nearly immobilized me (I’d also stopped taking my iron supplements post 100-miler). Overall, it was a recipe for disaster. I see that now. But in that moment I felt powerless.

I stopped posting to my running instagram account. Ashamed I could no longer run 10k without needing a nap. Ashamed of the extra pounds I’d gained. Ashamed of my inability to control my insatiable appetite. Feeling like an imposter. I might have run 100-miles last September but I certainly felt nothing like an ultra marathoner now. In truth I was terribly embarrassed of my struggles and annoyed with my inability to just snap out of it.

And probably worst of all, I felt beyond horrible that I wasn’t practicing what I preach – as I went around giving nutrition talks and working with clients.

And then a few months ago (beginning of March), as I finished up a client plan and realized I had some extra time, I thought why not do up my own plan? If I want to get back on track so badly, and this is how I advise clients to do so – then why not just do it myself? So I did… I took the next few hours and I mapped out exactly what I wanted my week to look like, including runs, meals and snacks and when to take my iron. Using my menu for the week I jotted out a grocery list. The next day I got started. When I ate or completed something on my menu I’d put a checkmark over it – if I switched things up I’d just cross out what was there and write in what I actually did or ate.

I also added making sure I was getting enough sleep to the mix – ensuring I got at least 8 hours each night. I pulled back on projects and gave myself more free time. I napped without guilt. I tried my best to practice self-care at its finest.

The result?

I felt like a completely new person by the end of that first week. When I pulled my tights on, the waistband didn’t cut in so much (bloating gone!) and as I ran I already felt so much lighter. I noticed already I was so much more productive during the day – every item on my to-do list was checked off. Renewed motivation had me contemplating my next 100-miler (something I was getting worried I’d never have the energy to train for again) and I began researching Rio del Lago 100 for this coming November.

All of a sudden I felt like I’d got my spark back – I wanted to get out and run! I wanted to run long. I wanted to get back to the trails. I wanted more again! It was a really good feeling.

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Really, all I did was set myself up with a menu for one week, then shop and prep. The next week I changed the menu up a bit, given what I learned of myself the week before – and then shopped and prepped. And with small changes once again, into the 3rd week I went. It wasn’t a diet and there was no restriction – I simply outlined all the foods I wanted to ensure I was eating regularly and added them to my menu. I was definitely eating more veggies – more along the lines of what I speak to in talks. Most importantly, I was finally eating in a way that makes me feel good (higher fat / moderate carb) while making versions of each meal for my hubby that makes him feel good (higher carb / moderate fat).

By the time I made it to my Naturopathic doctors appointment (which I had made a month earlier when I was at my wits end – just before I created my menu plan), she listened to my story and pretty much told me to keep doing what I was doing! And gave me a number of additional helpful suggestions.

FullSizeRenderNow, 2 months later, I’m still feeling good and I slowly continue to feel better each week. My motivation is stronger than ever and while I still need to be mindful of listening to my body, I’m now able to train pretty much as hoped for – and even managed to run respectable times I’m truly proud of in the Sun Run 10k and BMO Half Marathon a month ago, and in the Whistler 30k race last weekend.

I live, eat, sleep and breath running and nutrition for runners – I’ve literally made it my job to do so. By no means does that mean I’m perfect or even that I’ve got it all figured out. I’m not and I don’t. Some days I feel like I’m an outright failure and know nothing at all (those are inevitable the days I ate too much sugar, ha). But over the past 5 years I’ve learned a thing or two about myself and about others – as well about how the human body works and how different we all are.

What I’ve just been through underlined for me the importance of eating and nourishing ourselves based on what works for each of us as individuals. Keep learning. Keep experimenting. If you’re searching for that more energized, lighter, stronger version of yourself – keep looking and I promise you will find it. You might lose sight of it every now and again at various points, but you’ll find your way again and come back wiser. Just never give up.

For weeks, I allowed myself to believe the reason I felt so awful was out of my control and I was powerless. To be fair, for some it might be. For me, it was not – I just had to step back into the drivers seat. And I plan to stay there 🙂

Run happy… Run faster…

sarah

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