Browsing Category

Health

20170724_163129303_iOS
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Health, Running, Solo

Connecting with my old self

Back in the spring, when I had just been cleared to run again after my prolapse and I was in the middle of my big Sun Mountain training stoke, I was watching Ginger Runner Live and heard Gary Robbins mention his Whistler Alpine Meadows race. Now I should mention that it’s customary to enjoy an adult beverage when one watches Ginger Runner Live, and since I’m a total lightweight these days, let’s just say that this led me to immediately sign up for that race and missing some key details. Like the fact that it has over 5000 feet of gain. Gaah.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

So the next morning, when I realized just what I had done, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem because after Sun Mountain I could spend the whole summer training and I would keep losing weight, too. Wrong. I totally lost my running mojo after that race and I have unfortunately resorted to some of my old potato-chips-as-a-coping-mechanism ways to get me through a pretty bad bout of sleep deprivation, so my weight has been standing still for a month and a half.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

But! Lily is now successfully (at least for now? I’m totally jinxing it by writing these words) night weaned, and I once again have enough brain capacity to understand just how hard this race is going to be. So I’m turning to my blog for accountability – I’m cutting that crap out of my diet again and I am going to run run run. Including hills hills hills.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I’m trying not to be too frustrated with myself for the loss of conditioning since Sun Mountain. Getting through everyday life is hard enough when you’re not sleeping without adding training on top of that. But yeah, I kind of feel like I’m starting from scratch again.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

JK said I should sign up for another race this summer to get my mojo back, but then we decided that instead of paying to run on Tiger or Cougar (where most of the close races that are short enough for me are in the summer), I should just go out on my own on my favorite loop in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I used to do the Melakwa-Pratt loop every summer, but this would be my first time after having kids. That actually made me a little nervous beforehand – the stakes are just so much higher now – but once I was out there again, everything felt so right.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

After dropping me off at the Denny Creek trailhead, JK and the girls went off to meet some friends for a hike around Gold Creek Pond and lunch at The Commonwealth before coming back to pick me up at the Granite Mountain trailhead. This gave me a deadline of 4.5 hours, which worked out perfectly – it allowed for a leisurely lunch at upper Melakwa (one of my many Official Happy Places) but also made me push myself a bit and run some sections where I would normally dawdle. Perfect combo of enjoying the wilderness but also getting some good training.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

It was so beautiful out there. Now that we’re no longer out doing stuff like this every weekend, I realize how spoiled I used to be when it came to mountain views.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

I just had so much fun. I felt really good physically, even better mentally, and loved getting to reconnect a bit with my former self – the person I was before nursing and diapers. It’s not that I don’t love my life now (okay, maybe not the diapers so much), but it’s important to feel like I’m 100% my own person again sometimes.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

So yes, big stoking of the running fire going on right here. Hopefully it’ll carry over to runs down here on the Powerline, too. It’s easy to be motivated when you’re up in the mountains surrounded by pikas and tiger lilies and sparkling lakes.

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

(What kind of devices are people using for tracking their runs these days? I’d like to start using Strava again for additional accountability, but I would rather not have the tracking on my phone since I am always out there alone and don’t want to waste battery life.)

Melakwa - Pratt Loop 2017

14341056925_205badb456_h
Health

The first thirty

Regarding the weightloss I described in my previous post (thank you so much for all the comments and warm, fuzzy love about that!), I should probably clarify that it didn’t just magically melt off due to hiking. I’m a firm believer in the saying that you can’t out-exercise your mouth. Those 500 calories you might burn on a hike won’t make much of a dent if you reward yourself with a giant chocolate bar afterwards (not that I would ever do that, of course, she whistles innocently).

(That said, backpacking trips and very long dayhikes did lead to weightloss for me, thanks to the combination of sustained exercise and low calorie intake, because I just ended up eating way less than I would at home. Road trips where we would camp and go backpacking were especially effective, but of course my weight would just shoot back up the second I came home and resumed my normal eating habits.)

The big change was, I think, a change in the way I saw myself. Suddenly I was out there experiencing a whole new world and my body started feeling stronger every time I climbed a mountain. That confidence boost made me respect myself enough to start taking better care of my body.

I flirted with a few things like Weight Watchers, but never lasted very long because I just loathe any sort of food tracking with every fiber of my being. So mostly I just ate healthier than before. Honestly, my diet prior to discovering hiking was so atrocious that even the smallest of tweaks gave big results, but I also learned to really love vegetables. I started reading healthy living blogs and learned that kale is a thing, and actually a surprisingly tasty thing! I discovered the joy of cooking, which in itself was a huge step up from eating french fries and Quorn nuggets and all sorts of pre-packaged junk every day, even though I smothered most things in cheese. (My affair with chocolate, however, kept burning with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.)

IMG_7774
I lost around 30 pounds that first year, then lost and gained the same 15 or so over and over and over and over again, depending on my state of mind. Last year, I found my preferred way of eating and (effortlessly! it’s magic!) lost 35 pounds over the course of three months before becoming pregnant, and now I’m working on the last 30 or so that it will take for me to reach a truly healthy weight. Just last week I reached the “normal” BMI range for the first time. I know everyone loves to hate BMI, but I don’t have enough muscle mass to skew the results, so I’m going to take this as a huge win.

A big difference today is that it’s truly health-motivated for me. Like a lot of women in our society, I’ve always had a strained relationship with my body and my appearance, but something about having kids has made me put much less weight (heh) on my looks. (I like to think that I’ve matured, but maybe I’m just too chronically sleep-deprived to give any f*cks.) I won’t lie, it’s fun to look at photos and see a big difference, or to be able to use the baby carrier after JK has worn it without having to loosen the waist belt (woot!), but it’s way more rewarding to be able to hike briskly uphill without getting out of breath and to finally see my cholesterol fall into the normal range.

tenyearsago
Health, Hiking, Me

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, I was a totally different person. There aren’t that many photos of me from that time because, well, let’s just say I preferred to be behind the camera. Ten years ago was also 65+ pounds ago.

IMG_8556
I don’t remember much of my life back then, partly because – thankfully – it feels like a lifetime ago, but mostly because it wasn’t much of a life at all. I remember staying up all night because I just couldn’t sleep during those bleak, dark hours, then crawling into bed in the early morning, staying there until noon or sometimes even until JK came home from work. Almost never getting out of the house, and not for my normal homebody/introvert reasons, but due to crippling social anxiety and near-constant migraines. Subsisting on a diet of faux-meat “chicken” nuggets, fries, potato chips, Pepsi, and chocolate. Trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise, because dear lord that would have been a shit show. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone a little baby.

IMG_6327
2007 was the year that changed so many things for me, all set in motion by that one backpacking trip to Shi Shi Beach, which I somehow, stepping way, way out of my comfort zone, agreed to go on. (Thank you Tom and Amy for reaching out and making it happen!) That adventure sparked a fire in me that hasn’t stopped burning since. Right when I needed it the most, along came this whole new world of fresh air, jaw-dropping views, endorphins, sunshine, and new, like-minded friends. It got me interested in life again. I set goals for myself. I felt immense pride in myself when I reached those goals. I started appreciating my body for the things it allowed me to do.

IMG_7475
Within a month and a half of that trip to Shi Shi, JK and I had visited Mount Rainier, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks. We went to Noble Knob for the first time, gobsmacked by the sight of Mount Rainier lit up bright pink at sunrise. Talk about finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

IMG_8348
Slowly but surely we hiked more and more trails, and I lost more and more weight. That fall, I couldn’t even make it halfway up the trail to Poo Poo Point because I legit thought I was going to have a heart attack, but the following summer, we backpacked to Jade Lake and the Enchantments. We started taking adventurous vacations. We got hooked on trail running. We climbed volcanoes. We finally had our wonderful babies and are continuing our life on trail, albeit a little differently these days.

IMG_2603
This trail hasn’t been without its fair share of setbacks (or should I say switchbacks?). I still tend toward depression if I don’t take care of myself, but it’s no longer a constant, towering presence in my life. Sometimes, back in the day, hiking itself brought out some of my old tendencies – my big depression problem of not feeling like I was good enough would come up whenever I hiked with a group of faster, stronger people (in other words, most other people). But over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons why I feel so happy in the mountains is because I feel competent out there. I feel like I know what I’m doing. That’s not a feeling I’ve experienced much in my life, especially now that we’ve entered the ever-changing world of parenting (does anyone feel like they know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to parenting?), so it’s more important than ever that I keep getting out there, finding myself on trail.

Poo Poo Point 2017 St Edward 2017

Anyway, this was just a long-winded way to say, well, it’s been a great ten years, trails. Let’s have many, many more.

25571733392_a4b4ea571c_k
Challenge, Health, Nutritarian

Setting goals

I’m trying to get back into posting regularly because now, thanks to me sleeping a little better (let the huzzahs be heard around the world!) and Lily being a total dream baby who has given herself a 6-7 PM bedtime most days, I totally have time to write here. Except I usually end up watching TV instead.

Mentally, I’m doing so much better! Getting more sleep (unfortunately it’s thanks to Unisom, but I hope to be able to wean off it soon) has removed all signs of depression. Sleep, man. It’s so important. Still, I know how important running, hiking, and goal setting is to my mental health, so I went ahead and signed up for the Sun Mountain 25K in May!

While I feel no shame in talking (at length, over and over and over) about my struggle with depression – it’s something so many of us go through and I don’t think we should feel ashamed of that – I’ve felt too awkward to write much about weightloss here before. It seems like such an embarrassing thing to go into, but whatever. It’s on my mind right now and it’s important for my health, so here goes.

35 Weeks

After my first pregnancy, I didn’t care about losing weight at all. I had lost weight during the pregnancy anyway, thanks to getting gestational diabetes and having to really clean up my diet, and I was too overwhelmed by the huge life change to even think about nixing the chocolate. But I gained twice as much during pregnancy this time, and our life just feels…normal again already. So I want my body to feel back to normal too. Having lost a bunch of weight just prior to pregnancy, I now know just how much better I felt without those extra pounds on me. Running was so much easier, hiking uphill was so much easier. More importantly, my everyday life was affected as well – I have never had more energy in my life than I did in the final weeks before morning sickness hit. I am now one of those “I want to lose weight so I can keep up with my kids”-people.

Paradise
(Oh heeey, look at me finally fitting into the way-too-small-but-I-thought-they-would-fit-soon hiking pants I bought in 2010 which was SEVEN YEARS AGO.)

I’ve been a vegetarian since 2004 (after handling a skinless human leg in anatomy class and realizing that human muscle looks and feels exactly like pork tenderloin), but obviously not a very healthy one. There was a lot of pizza involved. And chocolate. And potato chips. And chocolate chip cookies. Over the years, I’ve eaten healthier and healthier, especially once I got over the newborn stage last time and I realized that I had to start taking care of my health. The gestational diabetes diagnosis was a real wake-up call, since it means I have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There’s just no way I am going to do that to myself.

I eventually got to the point where almost all my actual meals were stellar, but then I went and snacked on, like, literally thousands of calories’ worth of chocolate on top of that. Since we finally stopped eating chocolate (and using oil to cook with) at the beginning of February, I’ve consistently lost around .5 lbs a day, which currently puts me at 4 lbs above my prepregnancy weight. (It’s been coming off so quickly that I’m a little worried that it’s eventually going to affect my milk supply, so I think I’m going to add even more nuts and avocado than I am already eating, just in case. I don’t need to be losing weight quite this fast, but it seems strange to add more food because I’m definitely not going hungry when I eat like this!) I’m sure some of the weightloss was water weight, but removing chocolate and oil are the only two changes we made to our diet, which should tell you how much chocolate we would eat. Ahem:

These Days
(Why yes, they did actually come home with that thing, and why yes, we did finish it in, like, three days. Insert horrified emoji here.)

Anyway, so this is what we’re eating now – we’re following nutritarian guidelines since that’s what I was doing when I felt so good last year, and we love it. In fact, I’ve entered the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study!

Every morning we all (except for Lily, because, in Nora’s words, “Lily only drinks milk! Lily drinks milk ALL THE TIME.”) eat an oatmeal bowl with blueberries, strawberries, banana, cinnamon, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds (for a quadruple ALA-punch). Neither of us used to be oatmeal fans, but now we really look forward to that warm bowl in the morning. Taste buds really do adjust, even when you’re old and gray like us.

These Days Food

For lunch, I like to eat a gigantic salad (served in a full-sized serving bowl) topped with roasted vegetables and beans or whatever random dinner leftovers I have from the night before. My favorite dressing is the enchilada sauce from Veganomicon (minus the salt, sugar, and oil). I also add shredded red cabbage and some raw onion to heed Dr. Fuhrman’s words of wisdom, plus some pumpkin seeds or avocado.

Nora obviously doesn’t eat a giant salad for lunch, so she’ll either have leftovers from the night before, or whole grain bread with hummus or nut butter, or a tamale with beans, salsa, and avocado. Or roasted chickpeas, which is her most favorite thing ever.

Fud Autumn 2016

As for dinner, we’ve been making our current favorite meals over and over and over and somehow we’re not sick of them yet. These include:

  • Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup (Nora had three bowls of this for dinner the other night)
  • Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew from the first Oh She Glows book (I put tons of frozen spinach or kale in these soups, which is a great way to get greens into a toddler)
  • These Days Food

  • We’ve only had this once so far but it’s definitely going into our rotation: Hunky Heartbeet Cabbage Soup from, you guessed it, Oh She Glows! That girl knows her soups. I topped it with pistachios and shaved raw brussels sprouts, and it was extremely comforting on a cold day. A new favorite, even though it made Nora look like a teeny tiny vampire.
  • Fud Fud

  • polenta pizza piled sky-high with roasted vegetables and walnuts, served with arugula and tomato sauce with a bunch of kale cooked in (this has become our new savory comfort food)
  • Food Food

  • tacos with spicy beans, salsa, shredded red cabbage, sauteed onions and peppers and guacamole (JK makes excellent corn tortillas)
  • These Days Food

  • lentil/pecan cabbage rolls from Vegan Bowl Attack, served with the same kale tomato sauce we use for the polenta plus some shredded raw cabbage on top
  • Food Autumn 2016

To avoid the worst of the withdrawals when we quit the ol’ chocolate cold turkey, I used dates as a sort of methadone. I can’t sleep in the morning anyway, so I like to sneak out of bed while everyone else is still sleeping and snuggle with Wellie on the couch while drinking a cup of coffee, checking the internets, and eating a date. It totally satisfies my sweets-with-coffee craving. The harder thing is when I have a bad day and immediately start thinking ‘I deserve to treat myself, damnit’. That’s usually my downfall.

Now the problem is how do I reintroduce chocolate again as a very occasional treat without going overboard? I did manage to do it last spring and maintained a once-in-a-very-long-while relationship with chocolate until morning sickness hit, so I know it’s possible, even for me. I’m definitely going to reintroduce it in some way at some point, because the second words like ‘forever’ or ‘never’ get thrown around, I immediately turn into a petulant child who may as well start liquefying chocolate in order to receive a constant intravenous flow.

Sun Mountain 2012
(Photo from Sun Mountain the year JK ran it. Look! Pretty! *pictures self running through the wildflowers*)

Speaking of things that feel somewhat awkward to write about, but apparently a lot of women struggle with, so what the hell, I’ll say it – I have a bladder prolapse. I think a coughing fit I had the day after giving birth did a number on my pelvic floor, and now my bladder has migrated to where it shouldn’t be (as if it wasn’t bad enough that one of those coughing fits broke my water).

Of course I freaked out when I found out, imagining a future of never getting to run again (or even just not getting to run this winter/spring, which is the basis of my mental health plan during the postpartum period), but luckily my physical therapist is a fellow “mental health runner” who is very understanding. She says I can run again after another couple of weeks or so of training my pelvic floor muscles, and I can hike in the meantime! I had grand plans of taking advantage of JK’s long, luxurious parental leave to go on, well, long, luxurious runs, but now I obviously can’t do that, which means I won’t have much time to train for Sun Mountain. That brings me back to food – right now, eating healthy and becoming lighter is the easiest way for me to help my future running.

header
Baby, Challenge, Health, These days

These Days | New Year/New Baby Edition

We’ve been absolutely spoiled by having grandparents around through the holidays, but they left yesterday and now we’re on our own until September or so – eek! It’ll be nice to settle into our real life as a family of four, but we’re definitely feeling the absence of extra hands today since I am sick as a dog, again. I need to get my insomnia under control so I’ll have an immune system up and running before Nora starts daycare in a couple of months and inevitably brings home every virus under the sun.

These Days These Days

Anyway, both girls are miraculously napping at the same time right now – Nora only takes a nap once every fortnight or so, but we promised her a cup of hot cocoa if she slept, and by gawd it’s working #worldsokayestparents – so I’m going to attempt to blog. I expect I’ll finish this post in, oh, five days or so. Either that or it’ll be super hurried, random, and not proofread. But at least it’s something.

Christmas was a little different this year, given the aforementioned insomnia and the fact that I constantly feel as if I’m teetering on the brink of full-blown depression. Nora was totally into it though, so I’m already looking forward to next December when I can fully enjoy her infectious wonderment. Something that added to the magic this year was that we received several millimeters of snow, which is a Pacific Northwest miracle.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

So, self-care: When I go through depressive periods, it usually centers around feelings of guilt about not being good enough, and those particular feelings are plentiful when one adds another baby to the family. Add many months of sleep deprivation to the mix, and it’s no wonder I’m up and down, up and down. But! This time around, I know that the sleepless baby period does in fact end, eventually. (However, my own pretty serious sleepless period has been going on since July, which does not seem like a phase – that terrifies me.) And Lils is six weeks(!) old now, so I assume I’ll be cleared to start running again next week at my checkup, which will add some much-needed endorphins to my body. Had I known we would be able to get pregnant so quickly this time, I would never have timed the birth and postpartum period to coincide with (a) the darkest, coldest, wettest, time of year and (b) cold and flu season…but I’m so, so glad we have Lily, and I know I’ll get through this like I always do.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

I’ve also started cooking healthier meals again, which should make me feel better. And I’m trying, somewhat successfully, to stop mainlining chocolate.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

Another good (excellent, marvelous, wonderful) thing is that Lils is a pretty damn chillaxed baby, at least compared to, ehm, our previous experience. She even does that whole “falling asleep drowsy but awake” thing sometimes, which I seriously thought was just a myth perpetuated by supposed sleep experts and smug parents. Huzzah! I really do wish I could combine the confidence that comes with baby number two with the freedom that comes with only having one kid – that would be a dream. Oh, and she started smiling on New Year’s Eve, which is pretty much the best thing ever. I can’t get enough.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days One Month
These Days These Days

Nora is taking her big sister duties seriously, as you can see, and is increasingly interested in Lily now that she’s getting more interactive. I’m so glad she seems to have handled this transition so well.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

As for Wellie, he’s hanging in there even though the house is ruled by little women…he’s apparently already looking forward to Lily starting solids. Nora trained him well.

These Days These Days

Ehrmagerd, I managed to finish this just in time for Nora to wake up and demand her cocoa. Duty calls. Please send sleepy vibes my way and watch this space for more fragmented, not-at-all proofread, only-interesting-to-me-and-my-future-self blog posts in the future.