Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

The Quest Begins

So it begins. The Quest for 26.2 miles has started. It began yesterday in the bright sun and blessedly cool Sunday morning at SportsBackers Stadium. I am on Team Cocoa, which the coach, Ellie, joked about us looking like UPS drivers if we actually try to wear cocoa colored clothing. It is the slower team of the two intermediate teams. The faster team intermediate team looks like it is made up of human cheetahs. My team, not so much.

The intermediate teams were scheduled to run 7 miles, the novice team was running 4.

Gory details to follow:

Since I had poisoned myself the previous day with too many delicious but wildly greasy carbs at an awesome restaurant called My Noodle, my GI system was completely uncooperative. At the best of times, my pouch and small intestine (minus about 7 feet of it) are unpredictable, but yesterday’s reaction was completely predictable in the worst sort of way. It is the main hazard of being a Gastric Bypass patient and an athlete (dehydration being a close second).

Within the first 10 minutes of the run, despite my best efforts, I knew I was in trouble and I knew the only bathroom on the route was the bathroom in Bryan Park, which would be about the 3 mile mark (yes, I know almost every single open and available bathroom in the City). I suffered for those three miles, but I made it. While shuttered up in that sketchy little bathroom, I did the math and recognizing that there were no other rest stops along the rest of the 7 mile route, I decided to cut off the “Northside neighborhoods” section of the route and went straight back to the Diamond on the Boulevard. That took a little less than 2 miles off the planned route, but it saved me from more misery.

When I hit Brooklyn Park Avenue, where the planned route and my alternate route met back up, I wound up a pack of fast runners from the Green team; those human cheetahs. Most of them were running in the 8:30 minute/mile range and I couldn’t keep up, but running with them and being a half mile from the end, I knew I could damn well speed up. My insides cooperated long enough and I think I ran that last half mile in the 9:45 min/mile range. I was grinning like a hooligan in spite of everything. I could feel a change in my brain. I am really, truly, officially, and finally training for a Marathon.

You would think I would be unhappy or upset that I didn’t make the full distance on my first week of training, but I’m not. I know my body. I know its limits. I know I could have run those two miles if my system had cooperated. It was a beautiful morning and a familiar route. But I also know myself well enough to know that I would have ended up walking, with severe cramping and doing the “two-cheek-squeak” for the last miserable mile, and I would have felt horrible.

Two extra miles was not worth that kind of suffering.

So aside from all the miles I am going to log in the next 5 months, there are a bunch of other considerations to make to keep myself healthy and uninjured.

Diet: I want to limit repeats of Sunday morning’s gastro-intestinal festival, and that means being careful with carbs, avoiding dehydration, and seeking high quality calories. I need the most bang for my nutritional buck that I can get. No 3pm dashes to the vending machine for a rice krispy treat. I am trying to keep my desk stocked with nutritious options for when the mid-afternoon munchies hit. Whole wheat crackers and natural peanut butter (my variety has added flax seeds, for what that’s worth), mandarin orange pieces in no sugar added liquid, and high quality dark chocolates for those moments when chocolate is a must (it happens). Lunches will be lean protein and vegetables. Breakfasts will not devolve into an egg and cheese bagel from Cupertinos; hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurts, and occasionally things like steel cut oatmeal (have to be careful with oatmeal though; I need extra protein or my blood sugar gets a little wonky).

We regularly plan dinners that are pretty healthy, and they are usually planned on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on balancing Byram’s low-purine food requirement, my lowish-carb requirement, and my Mom’s need for variety.

I am making it a point to really focus on getting all my daily supplements in. I know what the FDA says about vitamin supplements, but their recommendations are for the general populace, not someone who has 7 feet of missing intestine and absorbs only about 2/3rds of everything she consumes. For me, vitamin supplementation is a must.

Cross Training: I know from my history that because I sit all day, my mid-section is kinda soft like a gummy bear, while at the same time, my hip flexors are tight as piano wire. The perfect recipe for injury. Mondays on the schedule are x-training days and I am going to focus most of those days on core strengthening and stretching. In fact, I am going to bring a yoga mat to work. There is a section of the 2nd floor where no one ever comes and I can do a full core workout without any gym equipment and never have to leave my building. Over the summer, when time allows, I might add in some evening swims with Grace at the Y. Being in the water will take my weight off what are sure to be sore muscles, while at the same time, you get some resistance training and cardiovascular benefits. Also, Grace time is Good Time.

Yoga: This goes hand in hand with X-training, but needs to become a regular act. At least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I need to get up and do a yoga routine in the morning or before I go to bed if I run in the early a.m. during the hottest part of the summer. Again, injury prevention is my main goal; I can’t cross a finish line if I am too hurt to get to the starting line.

Sleep: it’s nature’s Reboot Button. It’s a key element of a good immune system (distance athletes are not famous for their abilities to fight off a cold). It’s when your body builds muscle. It’s when your whole system slows down and recovers from the strain of hard core training. I am going to start aiming to be in bed between 9-10 pm every night because many mornings are going to see me up and at them for early a.m. runs by 4:30 and 5 a.m. A morning glory I am not, but I am going to work on it.

Finally, and probably oddest…

Positive thinking: My mind is my greatest enemy. It is crueler to me than 100% humidity, 90 degree temps, and double digit distances. I have the power to make it my greatest ally. And so I shall work to that end. Stop the self-mutilating mental talks. “I am the slowest person on the team!” needs to become “I am lucky to be running with such amazing folks. I bet I can catch up to them just a little if I push just a little harder.” “Oh my god, 20 miles will feel like forever.” needs to become “I really cherish ‘my time’ and I am lucky to have the next several hours all to myself.” I can work on it, but the mind is the hardest thing to train. Wish me luck.

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4 Year Anniversary

Happy Surgiversary to me. 4 years ago today, I went under the knife to undergo RnY Gastric Bypass, willingly undergoing a life altering surgery with the hopes of getting a new grip on my weight and my overall health and well-being.

Since then, I have run over a thousand miles, 4 half marathons, a handful of 5ks, one 10k, and a few adventure/mud runs. I am training for my 5th half marathon, and so far, that is going fairly well. I logged 7 miles on Saturday morning, which was my longest run since the AmFam Half Marathon (at least I think it was). My IT band did not give me any trouble. My GI tract did unfortunately, but that isn’t unusual given that 7 feet of my intestines are not in use and at the best of times, things can be unpredictable.

Since my surgery, I have cut certain foods out of my life for good. Fast food hamburgers and fries? I don’t think I have had such a meal even once in 4 years. Anything that has to be consumed through a straw (e.g., smoothies, frosties, frappachinos, etc.) has been stricken from my diet. I have not consumed a single ounce of a soda, diet or otherwise, in 4 years.

Then there are things that I know I simply cannot eat or I will find myself shaking, sweating, heart racing, nauseated, and all around miserable. Cake. Pancakes or waffles. Commercially made biscuits (I can get away with a really tiny homemade one on very rare occasions). Ice cream in any serving larger than maybe a tablespoon or two. Fried chicken in anything larger than a kid’s size portion (Chik-fil-A’s 6 piece nuggets are the limit for me; I refuse to eat those fake nuggets anyone else serves). Honestly, deep-fried anything is a high risk for making myself ill; I just don’t go there except on the rarest of occasions (usually while traveling and there simply aren’t any good options). I can have one or two pieces of bacon, at most. I prefer to use it for cooking with these days.

Then there are foods that surprise me that I cannot eat very well. Salads are not easily digestible and tend to fill me up too quickly leaving no room for protein. That really doesn’t work for me, so they tend to be rare and almost like a treat.

Chicken breast is another surprising one. When I cook with chicken breast, I do best if it is cut against the grain, shortening those long muscle fibers, and then cooked with lots of veggies or a sauce to try and put some moisture into the meat. Otherwise, swallowing plain chicken breast is akin to chewing and swallowing a cotton ball, only it sits in my pouch, painfully holding up anything else that wants to go down.

Hard boiled eggs. They feel like I am digesting a blown up rubber glove. Scrambled is okay, but I get off-put by the texture these days. And frying an egg tends to leave me feeling not awesome, but I eat them anyway. I have to eat something on weekend mornings.

Nuts. Well, it isn’t that I cannot eat nuts, but if I do, the aforementioned “unpredictability” of my GI tract suddenly becomes VERY predictable, but not in a good way. I only eat nuts when I know I am not doing anything very active within the next 24 hours.

Pulled pork BBQ. Byram makes amazing smoked BBQ and every time I eat it, I feel sick no matter how small my portion is. I suspect the combination of the sugar in the rub with the higher fat content of the meat come together to make me miserable.

Oddest of all things I think is oatmeal. I love a bowl of oatmeal, though I prefer mine savory with a touch of butter and salt. That said, if the only thing I eat for breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal, within 2 hours my blood sugar crashes to the floor and I become a shaky mess. If I have it with something else, like string cheese or yogurt, it is normally fine, but I don’t usually have room for oatmeal AND anything else. It is perhaps the one thing I miss eating most regularly.

Dining out is a completely different experience post-gastric bypass. Everyone knows that by and large, restaurant meals are vastly oversized, heavy on oils and fats, salt and sugar. Most chain restaurants do not serve very high quality meals, as well. So for me, dining out just anywhere has lost much of its allure. Visiting any buffet is a rare thing anymore, but if we do, we usually go to Chinese buffets. I aim for sashimi and sushi, maybe some soup, and a small amount of any dishes that don’t look too oily. If I am forced to darken the door of a Golden Corral, I go for a rare cut of steak, any veggies that don’t look drowned in oil, and a cup of their chili. Pro-tip: chili at most restaurants is a great fall back for gastric bypass patients. It typically isn’t horribly fatty, it is full of protein, fiber, and lots of flavor (most of the time). I used to go for New England Clam Chowder, but now I know better that the fat to protein ratio is really not in my favor.

I check appetizer lists in menus a lot of the time. It is very rare to find much that is decent in appetizers, but seared ahi tuna has become very popular and in a typically sized appetizer, it is a perfect meal for me. Some places are featuring “Hummus platters” or “Mediterranean Plates” which work very well for me too, and are often large enough that I can share with the table and still go home full. Hummus, some feta cheese, olives, tomatoes and onions, some pita bread (which I eat very little of), and I am good to go.

I love tacos. There is no getting around it. But not tacos like Taco Bell; I like the awesome taquerias that have begun to pop up all over Richmond. An order of three tacos, with fillings like al pastor, carne asada, and even lengua (ooh, scary!), are all delicious and in small enough portions that their fat content doesn’t tend to bother me. These authentic style tacos are not like American tacos that are loaded with sour cream and cheese. These just have their meat, cilantro, salsa, and typically some pico de gallo or just diced onion. And I usually tear off some of the tortilla, or don’t eat all of the tortillas, just the filling in one or two of them.

Pho is a recent culinary discovery for me. Delicious broth, fairly lean meats, and yes, lots and lots of noodles, but I can eat as much or as little of the noodles as I want. Yes, the serving is typically massive (like measurable in gallons, right?), but something everyone should remember is that while we were all taught how bad it is to waste food, it is FAR worse clean your plate and then find all that food on your waist.

Four years on and I am far from perfect. I do eat and drink the wrong things, I slack off of my work out routines, I screw up. All. The. Time. But that doesn’t mean I quit. That I say “Well, I’ve gained back some weight, time to throw in the towel.” I fight. I am fighting right now. I consider my surgery a gift and it is not one I am willing to relinquish.

I write about my surgery to remind myself where I came from, why I do the seemingly crazy things I do (like go run in the pouring rain at lunch today?), and why it is so very important that I don’t stop. I write because I know a lot of people think about this kind of life-style change, they have questions, they wonder if bariatric surgery is right for them, they wonder what life is like on the other side. There are tons of bari-bloggers out there, I am just out here offering just another perspective.

So here is to 2014. I have big plans so stay tuned to see what comes next.

Heavy Metal

I know that it is smart to train in any weather you are handed, since you cannot predict what race day will bring, but frankly, I’ve had enough rain/snow/sleet this training cycle. I have already made the executive decision to skip Saturday’s Shamrock training run in torrential downpours and I am going to run my 10 miles on Sunday in what is predicted to be much better weather (50s and sunny, though probably still in the 30s when I go out), and I will do it at home with a simple out and back route that has a perfect half-way point if it amuses Byram and Grace to meet me there.

There are indications that my iron supplementation is paying dividends. My average pace is moving back into the low 11 minute realm, back where it was last Spring when I was working so hard for a 2:30 half marathon time.

Better iron number or not, I have put in 9 miles this week all under 11:30 min/miles and I am exhausted now. My lunch run was miserable today, largely in part because I was underdressed for the windchill today, but I just had no energy left to give (maybe my 2330 bedtime had something to do with that, too?). I still managed a 11:25 min/mile pace for a little over 3.5 miles, but I just couldn’t find it in me to eke out 4 miles like I wanted to.

If I could close my eyes right now and take a nap, I would. This makes me particularly grateful for the two days off I have coming between now and Sunday’s 10 miles. If all goes smoothly this evening, I might brave my swimsuit and get in the pool at the Y for a gentle swim and a float. No getting around it; my body is tired right now. It will be so for the next 23+ days. A relaxing session in the pool and then the sauna sounds just about perfect for my weary bones.

I know I am getting into that lonely, hyperfocused place now that comes before a big distance race. It seems early to be getting there, but then 3 weeks will probably pass more quickly than I am prepared for. I sort of hope so. I am kinda ready to get this done.

I Don’t Need a New Love or a New Life…

I want to give a short addendum to yesterday’s post about low iron count and low energy.

When I tallied exactly how much iron I am taking per day per my doctor’s instructions, it comes out to 1,032% of the Daily Recommended Value (I originally thought it was only 500% but I had underestimated my assumptions about the VitronC supplements).

In someone who had a healthy level of iron or someone whose small intestine wasn’t 33% shorter than it used to be, this level would probably be poisonous. For me, it seems that near poisonous levels of iron have been exactly the panacea that I have needed.

Maya suggested giving my running a little rest this week, which I did, partly because I was forced to by circumstances and partly due to extreme low energy. But 4 days after starting my heavy iron supplementation, I ran yesterday, and I chose the most challenging route I have yet mapped out. A 3.7 mile route east on Main Street, which is uphill for most of a mile, until it hits near vertical levels going to the top of Libbie Hill. For the first time in recent memory, I was able to run some of that hill (I have been limited to walking up that hill for a very long time). Then, rather than being completely blown by the top and having to walk until I hit Grace Street, I was able to resume running. I went and made the full loop around Chimborazo Park, headed back west downhill on Broad Street, and then was even able to force out an uphill sprint back to my office to finish out my run.

Pace was 15-30 seconds per mile faster than almost anything I have managed in months (outside).

Then, in an effort to get a full 7 miles in for the day, I went to the YMCA last night and put myself on a treadmill and pushed out on tired legs another 3.3 miles; not my fastest ever effort on a treadmill by far, but a good sub-11 minute clip. I was tired but not destroyed.

Iron? Rest? More sunlight in my evenings to improve my mental state? All of the above?

Whatever it is, I will take it.

Tomorrow, I run my 13 mile training run (plus a quarter mile). Both anxiety and excitement are gone. All I have for it is a smile. The forecast is calling for light snow; nothing to stick to the sidewalks or streets, but light snow all the same. Now, I despise snow, but the idea of running 13 miles while snowflakes catch in my hair and melt in the warm clouded exhalations of my efforts appeals to me in an almost poetic sense.

“I put one foot in front of the other one, oh oh oh, I don’t need a new love or a new life, just a better place to die.” fun.

Eating Well at Our House

The experiment is over and I really can’t add anything more to yesterday’s wrap-up except that it was lovely to eat real food for breakfast and lunch. I might have dropped some water weight, but because I have developed an aversion to stepping on a scale, I cannot base my success or failure rate on my actual weight. In fact, I prefer not to. I base my success or failure rate on how I feel and how I am doing back (so far) on a solid food diet. And as I said yesterday, I feel this was a success based on my higher energy levels and the lack of carb cravings. Even my sweet tooth has relented. I have several varieties of high quality chocolate hanging out in my cabinet here at work and I am content to let them lie until a moment I have earned them or to soothe over ragged nerves on a bad work day.

Even with the low caloric intake (I was getting less than 800 per day), I was not energy deprived. I survived a tough 1 hour spin class last night where the instructor took us up and down a lot of hills. I felt like I worked hard but was not destroyed by the end.

In an effort to get all of us back on track, but especially Byram, who has struggled with weight gain due to injury and medications, we have gone back to a low-carb lifestyle. I find it can be tricky to balance the needs of the non-low carb family members (my mom and Grace) with those of Byram and me, but we’re working on it.

I almost never rely on recipes. I primarily cook with a “formula” that rarely goes wrong and changes with whatever I happen to have in the fridge.

The formula almost always starts out the same way: dice an onion and heat it in olive oil in my big skillet on medium heat. I almost always add garlic and some salt while that is happening, and frequently mushrooms because they are a cheap, low carb, and family-friendly way to boost the bulk of the meal without adding much in the way of calories. Usually after that, I add whatever meat I am cooking with, be it chicken breast or thighs, pork loin, or whatever cut of beef I pull out of the freezer — cube steak, flank, skirt, eye of round, etc. With our cow share dwindling, it is getting spotty for beef cuts these days. I let the meat start cooking, add seasonings of my choice (with props to Penzey’s for helping open my eyes to what it means to season food), and then usually frozen veggies like broccoli or green beans, or sometimes fresh ones like sweet peppers, zucchini, or summer squash. Sometimes I throw in a jar of our canned tomatoes from the CSA.

Yes, it is formulaic, but it is fun, easy, usually cooks in less than 30 minutes, and it is infinitely interchangeable. Some of the formula meals can be served over pasta or rice if you aren’t bent towards low carb, and if you have an eater in the house who cannot abide their food touching (we do), you can usually pick the meat and veggies out and separate them on the plate pretty easily (I don’t *always* succeed in this; particularly if tomatoes went in and it is more “saucy” looking).

So when I plan a menu for the month, it is pretty hard to specify what nights I know I am just going to make formula meals; maybe I should just put “Formula Meal w/ Chicken” (or whatever) on those days rather than try and name a specific plan? I don’t know. Planning our menu a month in advance surely does help keep us nutritionally on track, out of restaurants, and helps my Mom know what to expect each day, whether she or I am doing the cooking, but it is hard to know 3 weeks from now what will be on sale at the store or what veggies might suddenly be 10 for $10, like sweet peppers were last week. Suddenly, I am cooking with sweet peppers!

Tonight will be a formula meal out of the skillet though. Tomorrow, I want to make a stuffed pork tenderloin. Sunday, for the upcoming birthdays we are celebrating, I am making the most terrifying cut of beef I have in my freezer – a standing rib roast — prime rib. I did a mediocre job on the last one, overcooking it to medium; a sin against an amazing cut of meat. With this being the last one in the freezer until we get a new chunk of a Bessie Cow, this is my last chance to get it right.

It feels really good and like a genuine accomplishment to plan for and get back on the nutritional bandwagon. While we were talking about our weight this morning, I told Byram that I estimate, based on the fit of my clothes, that I am back to around 160 pounds, or about 15 pounds higher than I want to be. Now, it is all relative, and given that I had lost 125 pounds (at my lowest point last March), 15 pounds doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is for me now. I have learned that it was much easier to drop 15 pounds when I was 270 pounds pretty fast. Not so at 160. Back in the bad old days, it wasn’t uncommon for me to lose 15-25 pounds in the space of 6 weeks. Of course, it would creep back up, and I would have to do it all over again…but that was the normal.

Now, I avoid the scale and base my feeling about my weight based on what clothes fit or don’t. My size 6 pants I wore last spring do NOT fit. My 10s that I couldn’t wear last spring because they would slide off me, fit just fine though not snuggly, fortunately. My 8s still fit as much as they did last year, but without the slack I used to have in them. I will be happy when I can get back into my size 6 pants and when my small sized t-shirts are no longer too tight to wear. But I don’t think I am ready to bring the scale back into my life. Maybe when those 6s do fit, and then just to congratulate myself on whatever number it is I find that put me back in my size 6s. But in general, I don’t want to fight that emotional battle with numbers on a daily or weekly basis ever again.

Have a great weekend and I hope you are having a great start to 2013.

Worthy Challenge

It’s the last day of my Reboot 3-day Fast and even though I intended to give a full review of it tomorrow, I can express a great deal about the experiment now that I am over 90% of the way through it.

I “ate” three meals a day though I would have gone up to a 4th shake if I ever felt it necessary for blood sugar control or intense hunger pangs.

My shakes each consisted of one scoop of GNC’s 100% Whey Protein Powder (vanilla), and then most often 8 oz of 2% milk, though at least two shakes had to substitute water. I did include a couple of flavorings a few times: I added a small amount of espresso powder a couple of times, and today at lunch, I added a teaspoon of homemade “Russian Tea” from a coworker (instant tea powder, Tang, cinnamon, cloves) which was absolutely delicious — sort of creamsicle-like with a spiced undertone. I might take the mix home and do it again for my dinner shake. I know there is sugar in the Tang and instant tea, but I used such a small amount, I was unconcerned with its potential effects.

I drank a lot of peppermint tea, plain green tea, and most of all, a Green/White tea blend from Stash Teas that I keep at work. I added lemon or lime slices to all of them except the peppermint tea. Each morning I poured myself a restaurant sized pitcher of water and brought it to my desk and drank it completely before Noon with lemon or lime slices in it; the citrus really helped me get through my water better than I normally do. I gave up Crystal Light additives long ago, but still find plain water difficult to drink; particularly when I am cold (which is all the time).

In the evenings at home, I made bullion broth a couple of times. Very high sodium, I know, but I am not really getting much sodium anywhere else (only 100 mg per protein scoop), and it was comforting and savory; a much needed change from the citrus or vanilla flavors I have been consuming. I will probably do so again this evening.

My two cups of coffee per day plan worked well. I never suffered a caffeine headache, nor did I suffer the jittery hand tremors I sometimes get. I think I would like to drop back to 2 cups per day in general from this point on.

So day by day, how did it go?

1/1/13 – It was the First Day 5k and I was a volunteer, not a participant. The lack of calories and the cold dampness contributed to me feeling cold and tired, as did the late night of New Year’s Eve. I got and took the opportunity to take a nap though, and felt good when I woke up. Made dinner for the family and in general felt okay.

1/2/13 – First day back to work. I decided to buy milk from the café downstairs to mix my shake, and that cost me $1.10 for a pint! So lunch was a plain shake with water. I was feeling pretty good yesterday, able to manage my hunger and able to get in a lot more water than normal for me, partly because I didn’t have to manage the timing of no food/water within 30 minutes of each other. I kept experiencing weird emotional sensations like I was breaking a habit; literally it felt like I needed to eat something just because it was Noon, or there was food in the fridge for me, or something, even though I wasn’t actually even hungry. It was an interesting mental sensation.

1/3/13 – Today has been the best day yet in terms of mental and physical energy. I feel remarkably good. That said, I am also very much looking forward to tomorrow and enjoying solid food again, but it will not be Food Truck Friday like I have been celebrating for months. It will be a meat and cheese roll up for lunch. Maybe some sliced cucumbers, or tomato slices on fresh mozzarella. I have all kinds of weird food cravings right now, mostly for savory things or vegetables, or warm, tender meat. But what I am NOT craving is bagels, pizza, burritos, French fries, or fried chicken. I seriously want some left over ham slices with our homemade mustard or some sautéed mushrooms with greens. This is the best feeling I have had in a while; I have a grip on my cravings. I can indulge in the things I want because they are smart and nutritious choices. And I am looking forward to doing so, in appropriate quantities.

I dub this experiment a success, and might be something I even incorporate into my life once a quarter or so. I am not suggesting it was easy; I have had hunger spells, I have had longings for whatever delicious smell I catch at random moments (it was Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches today), and I have come close a couple of times to giving it up. Yesterday, I spent 30 minutes just ogling paleo-centric food blogs and fantasizing about prime rib, chicken and mushrooms, and even fish chowder. My tummy is rumbling right now just typing about all these delicious things, so yes, it has been a challenge to stick to this fast, but I think it was a worthy challenge. I feel I succeeded in rebooting my brain relating to my food choices.

Tonight, I am going to a spinning class, and Saturday, I am going to go run those 9 miles, even if I do them alone. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think it will be a worthy challenge.

If it isn’t hard, I’m not working hard enough, right?

One Foot

Forgive me, Blog, for I have sinned. It has been some time since my last update. My excuses are legion but they all come back to the same fact: my annual Black Dog has had sharper teeth this year than in years past. My mental funk has let everything around me slide, but the Solstice is always the turning point and I am making a concerted effort to get a grip on myself.

Runs have been sporadic at best, slow and negative, and I have turned around and gone back on the last two Shamrock training team runs I turned out for; both times for mental and physical distress. I have enjoyed going to the spinning classes I have done recently, but those are hard to work into the schedule based on the Y’s schedule and my own.

But the worst, the absolute worst is what I have done to my diet. I have broken the single most important rule that a Gastric Bypass Patient lives by. Too damn much food. At every sitting, I have been overeating, and then the worst part was 2 hours after a meal, I would come back and eat another meal. That is the ultimate Cardinal Sin against a pouch.

It wasn’t poor quality food, at least. I am too keyed into the Food Freedom and unprocessed movement to dive too deeply into Cheetos or soda or potato chips, or pick your poison. But it was the quantity that has been deadly.

I felt like I needed a shock to the system; a whole body and mind reboot, and so on the 1st day of the New Year, I committed to a 3 day liquid fast. Rather than one of the “cleansing” diets out there, which I have some skepticism about, I opted to treat these days like those first 6 weeks post-gastric bypass — 3 to 4 protein shakes per day, as much water, tea, and broth as I can drink, and no more than 2 cups of coffee per day.

Yesterday was tricky. Between the laws of thermogenics (calories in = heat produced), all the cold water, and a couple of hours outside, I took on a dreadful chill that was hard to shake. The late hours the night before combined with the lower calorie intake left me feeling exhausted by the late afternoon, and while I had enough coffee to ward off the dreaded caffeine headache, it wasn’t enough to feel 100%.

That said, today has been better. I have already taken in my minimum 64 ounces of water, I had my two cups of joe, I have had two protein shakes so far, and for the moment, I am feeling much better today than yesterday. I feel like this is actually working to achieve my desired “shock to the system.”

The only genuine downside is that I have become a damn fine cook and I made a delicious New Year’s Day meal of a baked ham, broccoli (for the Kidlet; it’s her favorite veggie), and a delicious sauté of spinach, mushrooms, and roasted peppers and onions bought from our CSA and preserved for the winter. The whole family is trying to eat better, and we all work very well together on a low-carb regimen, so I kicked that campaign off yesterday. None for me, thank you. It will be worth missing out on it if this pays off, though. I can always make it again.

When I do go back to a “regular” diet on Friday, I think it will be with renewed focus on how much and how often I am eating. I don’t have to change how I cook or what I buy for the family, I just have to make sure I eat less of it and accept the discomfort of those “hungry hours” that always happen to me — 11am, 3pm, 9 pm — the times my resolve is weakest. If I can survive 3 days of an uncomfortable fast, then an hour or two ought to be nothing.

I am hoping to get a grip on my brain in relation to running, next. I am not sure how, but I know I have to stop the negative thoughts that overwhelm me every time I watch the half marathon training team pull out of sight from me. I have to get back in the mindset of running my own race, suck it up when it gets hard, and be grateful even if I am the last one back to the stadium because I could be 275 pounds and unable to climb a flight of stairs without major discomfort — exactly where I was 3 years ago.

This weekend’s HMTT route is the 9 Miles From Hell I did last year in the rain and sleet mix. It is Riverside Drive, and it was one of the most beautiful and exciting (and eventually scary, since I got lost and my printed route dissolved in my hand) runs I have ever made. I am looking forward to coming back to the group with a rebooted brain and body, and a brand spanking new fuel belt from Santa. I also got a subscription to RunnersWorld Magazine, which I am really looking forward too.

I have only two race goals set in stone for this year and it’s the same two half marathons I ran last year. I haven’t seen anything on the local calendar I am dying to run yet, and I decided to pull Warrior Dash off my list of races because this year was unfun for me and disastrous for many. I don’t forsee the organizers being able to get a grip on those inherent issues, so I think I am going to skip it. I will do Henricus again if there is no major scheduling conflicts, but other than that, I have no major plans yet.

I am too disorganized and discombobulated to form a plan more detailed than that at this stage, but as light returns and I get myself back under the kind of control I prefer, then I think that will change.