NEDA Focuses on Athletes and Eating Disorders

NEDAwareness_2015_Shareable_Athletes_1

I hadn’t realized this was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and that in particular today is focused on Athletes … and by that they are not talking just about professionals – they are talking about US.

The focus today is on “Athletes and Eating Disorders”

Body image problems, disordered eating and full-blown eating disorders are common among athletes. Though most athletes with eating disorders are female, male athletes are also at risk—especially those competing in sports such as wrestling, bodybuilding, gymnastics, and running, which tend to place an emphasis on the athlete’s diet, appearance, size, and weight requirements.

In a study of Division 1 NCAA athletes, over one-third of female athletes reported attitudes and symptoms placing them at risk for anorexia nervosa (Johnson, Powers, et al, 1999). In weight-class and aesthetic sports about 33% of males and up to 62% of females are affected by an eating disorder (Thompson, PhD. 2010). The good news is that with information and awareness, coaches, parents and teammates can all play an important role in confronting eating disorders and ensuring that athletics are a positive experience for everyone.

Laura wrote a great post about this yesterday, and Meghan did as well today.

On Laura’s I wrote a comment: “I didn’t lose more than 100 pounds – twice – without being pretty messed up regarding my relationship with food.

I say I have ‘disordered thinking’ – and that it is PERMANENT.

And that is how I feel about eating disorders – they are like alcoholism except you have to eat every day. You are never cured of alcoholism, and I believe you are never cured of an disordered eating.

I am now at nearly 3 years within +/-5lbs of target, which for someone my size (6’1″, played line in high school football) is a pretty small and tight distribution. I eat 3 meals every day, enjoy chocolate and ice cream and pizza and even occasional fried foods. But as you mention, I am incredibly aware of what I am eating not just NEXT … but as a ‘5 day rolling average’ – and how it correlates with how I am feeling and my workout schedule.”

It took me until I was in my late 40s to realize that it was more than ‘just being weird about food’, or about being a ‘former obese person’, but that I had an unhealthy relationship with food … and that it extends to my relationship with exercise. It is something I feel I am in a good place with right now … at least relatively speaking. I find awareness is key.

I have to be honest that I see WAY too much disordered or borderline stuff out in the running and ‘healthy living’ community, and it is something I deliberately pulled back from in recent months. I have tried commenting and even the occasional message … but as I know myself, change must come from within.

I hope everyone reading takes a minute to look inward – maybe you have no issues, which is great. But maybe you are always hopping on the latest fad ‘diet’ – even if it is a non-diet like #eatclean or the latest fad cleanse or Paleo-based restrictions that seemed to be on half of the books at Barnes & Noble when we stopped in after Christmas.

Maybe you hop from obsession to obsession – diet to exercise to clean eating to … ? Who knows. Maybe you are constantly ending up injured for no good reason or have other warning signs. Maybe you have no warning signs and just feel everyone is out to get you. Maybe like another comment on Laura’s post said you want to be ‘just a bit too thin’ but not really too skinny.

Whatever it is, take a minute and think about yourself and your relationship with eating and exercise … and ask for help if you need it.

Friday Five – Blog-ospheric Inspiration and Love

RW QOTD

OK, so while I noted I wouldn’t writing as much, that hasn’t stopped me from reading. And while I complained a bit a couple of weeks ago about what felt like ‘post fall-running hangover’ hitting lots of blogs with the ‘blahs’, and last week about some lazy link-ups … this week has been brimming with great stuff! To the point where I am quoting stuff below and feel bad because there is so much more great content out this week that I left behind.

As for the image at the top, it might not really seem fit with my theme – but it was in an email I got from Megan at The Lyons Share today, and she said “This quote is just SCREAMING “Michael”!!!!!!! Couldn’t help but think of you! Hope you have a wonderful day 🙂 🙂 “. It was an amazingly kind and thoughtful thing to do while I was sitting at my desk scrambling to get a ton of stuff done before heading home … and was so very much appreciated!

What I wanted to highlight was some of the amazing things I have been reading this week – there are just so many awesome people in our community that have important things to say. So I will start with posts from my two ‘Most Inspiring Runners’ and go from there:

1. T-Rex Runner – Eating Disorder Recovery

I have repeatedly recommended Danielle’s ‘Life with ED’ series as ‘required reading’ for anyone who needs to eat food, and last night she posted her last entry, about trying to normalize her relationship with food and her body especially in the wake of having had both major and minor surgery this year. Here is a little bit:

Eating disorder recovery isn’t linear, and it isn’t easy. I will probably never call myself “recovered;” I’ll be perpetually “recovering,” at least, I hope, since that is better than relapse. It’s a process and something that takes a lot of hard work. No one can do it for me. While some days it seems hopeless and that I’ll never be able to change the way I think about myself, some days are days like yesterday. And then I think, “Maybe not today, but one day.”

2. Gluten Free Treadmill – Falling in Love

Speaking of essential series, I really want Laura to re-publish her series from her ‘And This Is Thirty’ blog, but that is an entirely different topic. Right now Laura is doing a ‘Best of 2014 Series’, and the other day looked at her resolutions and bucket list. If you follow her you know she had a relationship earlier this year, so I loved reading this:

8. Fall in love. I did, and then fell out. But it was totally worth every second and I’m a better person for it and really ready for the next time.

And of course this one as well:

4. Be awesome and all-around hard-core. Obviously.

There is a ton more, and the rest of the series is great. And, oh yeah – she’s running ACROSS THE COUNTRY next year. So there’s that.

3. Fit Fresh and Funny – Loving Life While Facing Challenges

I have always enjoyed Laura’s blog, because she has had to deal with serious medical issues – and handles them honestly (i.e. they suck) but is always funny and up front with them. Recently what she thought was a migraine turned out to be viral encephalitis (in other words, swelling of the brain caused by a virus). If that sounds like serious shit – it is. But that didn’t stop her today from taking stock of all of the fortunes and happiness she has in her life:

Because I am exhausted, have a brain infection, and a relapse going on that makes me sorry I pushed myself the last week. But I also have a husband upstairs cooking me dinner while singing to the Violent Femmes at the top of his lungs.

4. Paleo Running Momma – But I Don’t WANNA!

I like to give Michele at Paleo Running Momma a hard time about being linear and structured – and she says it wasn’t always that way – but I also know how my wife doubled-down on structure and organization as a stay-at-home mom with little ones. It just works that way … or you get even more chaos! (heck, we still have a wall calendar with everyone’s stuff on it in our kitchen that we live by!). But yesterday she wrote about how without the rigor and schedule of a training plan in support of a marathon goal, she is floundering a bit finding motivation. I love that even as she is working hard to build her brand and coaching business (btw – she is doing special coaching deals right now, hit her up for details), she beings out some totally honest posts like this one. Check it out:

Because every morning I have been not wanting to get up to run. Like there hasn’t been even one day I just got out of bed without hesitating, it’s a struggle every day.

This really sucks! It’s amazing how I will complain either way. Which is it? Do you like getting up early or do you wish you could sleep later? Meh, I think it’s both. But right now I’m wishing I was happier with early. It makes for a much less rushed and stressful morning.

5. Fueled By Lolz – Body Image Insanity

Hollie can be totally hilarious – but she is often also quite pointed in what she is saying. Her post about signing a wedding dress waiver earlier this week is one such post. Because the need for a waiver is fairly new, and is based on the whole ‘bridezilla’ thing coupled with the trend of associating body image with a size number (which is why they say that the old store ‘5-7-9’ would now be ‘0-3-5’0! And so rather than think ‘I want to look my best on my wedding day’, it is ‘I am wearing a size 4 for my wedding’. See the problem for dress shops? Hollie takes it further:

It takes me back to this straight forward point: no one knows or cares what dress you are. No one cares your weight. At your wedding, people notice how happy and how glowing you are…not your damn dress size.

I used ‘bonus’ because I am sticking to ‘Friday Five’ as a theme and then cheating by adding two bonus items. So there are seven.

Bonus #1. Running Out of Wine – Phantom Technology Woes

I love when Lisa, who always comes across so structured and organized in her posts, lets things wander about with a ‘Thinking Out Loud’ that is true-to-name. This was one of those weeks – and what she said had me cracking up:

My Garmin keeps buzzing in the other room right now and I have no idea why. And I am too lazy to go check/go make it stop. Its also continued to do whatever it wants on many of my runs. Like the map will make it look like a ran through the harbor. I swear I’m not that talented.

Bonus #2. The Lyons Share – Own Your Feelings

I alreadu mentioned Megan for the quote at the top – which was an awesome event today. But I always love her posts – she is mainly doing a ‘Motivation Monday’ and ‘Foodie Friday’, but makes them all worth reading (such as this or this). Here is a great quote from her post about dealing with your feelings:

Even while there is a time and a place to put on a happy face, though, it’s not healthy to bottle up all of your emotions inside and pretend that you never feel anything but happy. I talk to my girls at Girls on the Run about the fact that emotions might be “comfortable” and “uncomfortable,” but they are not “good” and “bad.” Being angry, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, or anxious might not be the most pleasant way to feel, but those feelings are valid and should be expressed rather than smothered.

How about me?

Well, if you follow me on social media you know I have had some good stuff happening in our family, which is exciting – more on that later. But aside from that it is just the normal wonderful life I enjoy – Lisa, the boys, the dogs and cats, great job, nice home, and so on.

What thoughts do YOU have to share?

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #3, Feeding Frenzy

gratitude

Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, perhaps coupled with post about visiting the doctor in some ways, is my ability to eat pretty much anything I want without fear of allergy or other bad bodily response … but that my natural inclination is towards healthy foods. I have talked many times about my history of disordered eating, and that I never believe you are ‘cured’, merely ‘currently successful’ in dealing with it … this is different.

Day #3 – Eating What I want … but making good choices

Because I was born in the 60s, there was a still a large ‘quick food is the future’ sentiment, and we had canned veggies most of the time. I loved fruits and things like carrots and celery and tomatoes, but not much else. Then she traveled for work when I was in high school and my dad introduced us to something called ‘steamed fresh veggies’ … and OMG.

Thing is, throughout my life I never had to deal with ‘food I can’t eat’. Beef, poultry, pork, seafood, shellfish, soy, legumes, wheats, fruits and vegetables … I never had to worry. Spicy foods? Not a problem. My young adulthood was a culinary adventure filled with all kinds of great stuff. I had no idea about food allergies or intolerances until I was in college.

Then I started hanging out with Lisa and made us a big fruit salad for a hike full of things she couldn’t eat due to allergies and intolerance issues. I learned that dealing with spicy foods was about more than just handling the heat – the spices used in many dishes are reactive for some people.

Personally, I found out that I had an intolerance to clams after spending the day at the Boston Chowda-Fest one year … and have never been able to go back. That is my only food issue.

But through the years I have learned just how fortunate I am – I can eat or drink pretty much anything I wanted without being concerned about after-effects. I think most people I know have to work around their food issues one way or another, from what to how to when they eat. The last few years I have seen so many running / healthy living bloggers with eating disorders, digestive issues, allergies, tolerance issues, or foods that they just plain hate … wow.

Yet in spite of being able to eat just about anything, when it is snack time I grab an apple or pear, I love a fresh tomato, and pretty much any fresh whole food is what draws me in. That has been a tremendous benefit for me losing and maintaining weight through the years, and keeping my fueling on target.

Eating and food thoughts?

Six Things Saturday – Reasons to Go See a Doctor (even if you’re healthy)

IMG_0269.JPG

http://misszippy1.com/2014/10/runnings-role-healer.html

Hi again friends! Thanks for all of the great comments and kind remarks on my last posts!

My last post a few Sundays ago was pretty random and reaffirmed a few things for me:
– Almost no one watches the videos … or at least no one comments
– There are only so many random topics people can absorb in one post
– Titles really don’t matter.

Why do I mention that? Because:
– there were no comments about either video (ok, mamaSalt came in late to mention the Panda 🙂 )
– Most of the comments were about one or maybe two items
– My title was only marginally related to the post I actually published!

ANYWAY, here is one subject I meant to talk about but never got there – going to the doctor as a critical thing to do every year.

My annual physical was originally scheduled for late August, then they had to reschedule, then I forgot to do my blood work so I had to reschedule, and it finally happened in early October. Because of my hypothyroidism I make it a point to get to the doctor … and also because of my age, family history and so on.

Also, I included these pictures with this post for two reasons: because it is Halloween (duh) and because these are the people I want to be with for a long time. The picture below is a #TBT to Halloween 2004, a time when the boys were 8 and 6.5 and Lisa and I were just in our late 30s.

The top picture is from the National Honor Society induction this week, where our younger son was inducted and older son reaffirmed for membership. It was a great proud moment, and a reminder I want to be around for a long time to experience many more.

IMG_0002.JPG

1. Make Sure Everything is OK / Prevention

I mean, this seems obvious – but it is also the reason many people avoid going! I have heard many people say ‘I don’t want to go to the doctor – I am fine and every time I go they find something!’ By going to a doctor regularly you can get a better idea of how your health is at the moment, and by checking in you gain more perspective on how you feel when things are good (or not).

Also, do not underestimate the human ability to adapt – we get used to just about anything, and it is not until we feel better that we realize how bad we felt!

2. Learn Your Numbers

Our bodies are unique systems, so it isn’t surprising that we will have some tests where we run high and others where we are low. Some of these numbers mean something important by themself, others only in conjunction with different tests. More than ever it is critical to be informed and in control of our own health, and the first part of this is knowing how we function when ‘normal’.

3. Establish a Relationship with Your Doctor

When I walked into my doctor’s office … well, really, when she came in, she already knew my lab results, had seen me running pretty much everywhere in the last year, knew what to be looking for on my results and the things we needed to discuss for now and for the next year.

Why is that important? Because rather than trying to start from ground zero, we already have solid basis of understanding of my health, her approach, and how to interact. That way when we have to address an issue she will know how I normally handle things and can factor that into her approach.

4. Establish a Tracking History

Two years ago when I was still losing weight my potassium was on the low end of normal, but still in range. I can now admit that I was still restricting my intake (while running 50+ weeks … moron), but had I seen a new doctor or not had a history it wouldn’t have flagged anything – because it was still in the normal range. It was only through looking at my history that she noticed it was low – and since I love bananas and sweet potatoes and other sources of potassium, and had lost a ton of weight … she just gently told me a banana every morning would be a great thing.

The same is true for everything else – we spent a lot of time this year going through my numbers and how they showed the impact of my healthy eating on everything going on in my body. Between my thyroid issues and getting me into the cardiologist last year due to family history, she has carte blanche to order loads of bloodwork for me … and does.

5. Put Your Running/Eating in Context

It was a bit of a joke when I went to the cardiologist last year and they put me on the incline treadmill to get my heart rate up for the stress test – because my resting heart rate was around 50 and they couldn’t seem to get it much over 100. They laughed because I was the longest test either of them had ever seen because it took so long – which was directly attributable to my endurance running.

Same with my blood work and eating – by looking at all of my numbers in terms of cholesterol and other criteria, the doctor could tell that I was eating good stuff – and also getting enough of it, even if she still wanted to make sure I didn’t lose any more weight.

But by the same token if you were not eating well or overtraining or otherwise not taking proper care, and had convinced yourself that everything was fine … maybe a visit to the doctor could help you realize otherwise. I have said it before, but I believe that two of the big reasons for injuries with many run-bloggers are over-training and improper fueling.

6. More Thoughts on ‘Your Numbers’

I can’t reiterate enough the importance of knowing your numbers – it is easy to think that the pants don’t fit because they shrank, or that because your blood pressure and cholesterol were fine 10 years ago that you don’t need to stress over what you eat and so on … but it isn’t true. There are many things that happen over the course of our lives that change the biochemical systems inside our body – women have even more stuff going on with natural hormonal changes throughout their lives!

Our bodies evolve over time, often slowly enough that we can’t tell the difference easily – which makes it even more important to establish a relationship with a doctor and their office, get yourself checked out regularly, and know how your habits impact your health.

What are your thoughts on doctor visits and knowing your health numbers?

Oh, and because next Tuesday is mid-term elections, here is a tool WordPress provides to help with voting info:

Things People in the ‘100lb Club’ Wished You Knew

wpid-8520146444.jpg

This month marks two years since I joined the ‘100lb club’ … again. A couple of weeks ago a coworker posted that she has also joined the club. Well, that isn’t what she said, but it was basically the same thing.

Note: my focus on the 100lb club is not intended to diminish what people experience who have lost 10 or 25 or 50 lbs or struggled to gain weight … it is more focused on the physical reality that rather than an ‘adjustment’, a 100lb weight differential represents a true body-morphing.

And further, when Lisa lost about 50 lbs a decade ago many things I talk about below happened to her – it was amazing watching some of the preschool moms change in how they looked at and treated her … all of the ‘catty’ stereotypes were in full force.

What is the 100lb club?

The 100lb ‘Club’ isn’t a club at all, but is quite simply about people who have lost more than 100 lbs. I had read about it as a term used on several forums and fitness groups to identify as a milestone for extreme weight loss. Bottom line – if you have lost 100 lbs or more … you started out significantly obese.

As I said, this month is two years of re-joining the 100lb club. Actually, I am in the ‘110lb club’ – I am approximately 110lbs lighter now than I was in March of 2012. But as I have noted – I was much heavier when I graduated college – in fact, as of my wedding in 1992 I would put myself very close to the 200lb club! The reality is I won’t step on the scale until I feel I am making positive steps, for fear of being so dejected I would quit. So when I weighed myself over 375lbs, I know I started higher. And before my wedding I was down to about 185lbs, which is 190lbs weighed difference.

My colleague posted about her weight loss as part of a Facebook ‘gratitude challenge’. What she said was touching and poignant, so I am stealing it:

I am grateful for my willpower and motivation. It has carried me through this journey to a healthier me. I am also thankful that I have found inspiration through others – their stories, their accomplishments, their pictures (thank you [redacted, but included me]). 112 baby!

She has lost 112 pounds – and it shows in every way. She looks great, feels great – and has the confidence to KNOW she looks great and be happy with that. Honestly it is great seeing that in someone else.

But something happens when you lose that much weight – the world shifts. Sure YOU change as well, but you also become aware of things that perhaps you didn’t notice before. Or maybe people feel more comfortable saying things around you that they wouldn’t have before. Either way, I thought it would be interesting to share some things I have found through the years personally, and have shared with others who have lost large amounts of weight.

We Will ALWAYS Be That Fat Person Inside

It is really weird – I have spent nearly all of the last 25 years within 20lbs of my ‘target’ (I am actually ‘below target’ now), and yet I cannot look in a mirror and see myself for the thin person that I am.

Part of that is self-image. Being so large as a child, my formative years were filled with self-identification (aided by the joys of other kids) as a fat kid. So I will always be that fat kid in my mind.

The other part is physical – losing so much weight changes your body, and unfortunately not everything falls neatly into place. The most recent public example was the case involving Shape magazine I’ve discussed in the past. The reality of ‘loose skin’ is perhaps the biggest disappointment of extreme weight loss – because all of the shows and magazines make you think you will suddenly look like one of the models they show off … or quite frankly, like a normal thin person. But you don’t.

No, Fat Jokes and Making Fun of Fat People are NOT Suddenly Funny

This one honestly shocked me when I first lost weight – because it started with people who knew I had been fat for 23 years and thin for less than a year – and yet I was suddenly supposed to take pleasure in ridiculing people who were heavy or who got out of breath easy?

For people who don’t know me, I had it explained that no one would ever look at me and think I was morbidly obese – I mean, I have a large enough frame that at 6’1″ I was on the offensive and defensive lines in high school football and was a force to reckon with … and now I have a ‘runner’s body’ and that is how people see me.

But that assumption has led people to feel it is ok to berate fat people with me standing there – someone said something last year, and another person in the group said ‘you know Mike was even bigger than that guy just a couple of years ago’. You could have heard a pin drop.

So what that did for me was to show me that that I was NOT imagining the eye-rolls, and looks and snickers and so on … because once I was no longer fat, I heard them used on other people.

We Can Never ‘Take it Easy’

wpid-20140905_060704.jpg

You see that tiny bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms? It has sat unopened in my work backpack for a couple of weeks now since I got handed a sample in the store.

I will never eat it. Never.

Sure you can tell me it is only 100 calories or so and not a big deal. You can compare it to other things I eat such as the peanut butter chocolate cake recipe I shared.

But it isn’t about the nutritional content – it is an ’emotional trigger’ food. In 2011 and into 2012 I would very often have a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms in my drawer at work, and one of the ‘WTF moments for me was eating an entire ‘large’ bag across two days. I felt disgusting in many different ways, and haven’t had any Peanut Butter M&Ms since I started back with running.

And for me processed and packaged ‘junk foods’ tend to fall off when I am running, but this time is different in many ways – I simply don’t want to eat them, and I am more careful than ever about what I put into my body.

And I hear about it – regularly.

‘Aw c’mon … you can just run another mile’.
‘You could use some extra calories, you’re too skinny’
‘You can just eat whatever you want’

And so on. Point is – once you have lost this type of weight, you don’t want to gain it back … ever. You want to maintain that great healthy feeling, so you avoid foods that make you feel lousy, and more important you avoid foods that you associate with being fat – and most of all you avoid ‘downfall’ foods. Quite often you no longer want them …

… but sometimes with food for someone who has gone through extreme weight loss, it is like waving a drink in front of an alcoholic.

Our Clothes are About US, Not You

Honestly this is true for pretty much anyone – so I am sure many people can identify with this: that moment when you go from wearing clothes that are 1 – 2 sizes too large to hide your body, to wearing fitted items that show off your body! Last Friday I wore my skinny jeans to work and realized the biggest problem with my new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was the whole issue of pockets and fitted clothes and huge phones …

I have incredible memories shopping at the Jordan Marsh back in ’89 & ’90, totally transforming my wardrobe, showing off my new looks. I never really cared before … but now suddenly I did.

You Treat Us Differently … and We Notice

When I first lost weight, I was also getting my first job, and my life was changing in many ways. But I also maintained friendships with many people from high school and college and the retail store I worked all during those 8 years … and once we got past the issue of my weight and body transformation.

It is like you are suddenly part of the ‘in crowd’ … and it feels really good, until you pass someone who is NOT … and you realize THAT person was YOU a few months before.

Some of the ways I was treated differently:
– Before Lisa and I were dating, I had a flight delay on a connection, and had a girl sit down next to me, and she ended up inviting me to come to Shakespeare in the Park with her and her family.
– I no longer feel judged based on what I eat.
– Even at 48 I have women (some uncomfortably close to my kids age) who flirt with me.
– People seek me out, remember me, and go out of their way to include me.
– I realized that for more than a couple of people my weight loss suddenly made me ‘an option’ … which seemed flattering until I realized how incredibly insulting it was.

But the biggest one is the most ironic … when I was at my heaviest, when I could literally fill a door way – I was invisible. Now I am noticed.

We Are Not Experts, Spokespeople, or Advocates

It is incredibly awesome to have people come to me looking for ‘my secret’ … sadly many people leave disappointed when I say ‘eat less, eat better, and get some exercise’ as my secret.

I have talked about it before, but I feel that just as my body seems to conspire to gain weight when I do not exercise and watch what I eat – I get into a spiral of unhealthy habits, excessive portions, and lethargy … so too does it conspire to help me when I run. When I run I want healthy foods, I tend to eat less (it has been an effort to properly fuel my running), and so on.

I am a person with a story, who has successfully lost weight – I am not a nutritionist, a fitness coach or personal trainer, or someone who can ‘help your friend/spouse/child lose weight’. Yes I have been asked to talk to someone ‘as a former heavy person’ more than once.

But at the same time, I LOVE being a sounding board, I LOVE sharing my story, what I have been through, and how much running and eating well has transformed my life. But it is hard because I become a magnet for people trying to lose weight … who then avoid me like the plague if they fail.

What This All Means to Me

To repurpose the end of this article“But deep inside, I still am and always will be a fat boy, with a fat boy’s awareness that the world is not nearly as nice as it sometimes seems right now. “

But at the same time I notice something else that I saw elsewhere and copied into a draft months ago “Turns out I was the meanest person to me while at my fattest. There was nothing anyone could’ve said that would have been worse than the constant track running through me head of “You’re a fat piece of shit and deserve nothing”.

That One Person Who Is There For You

I have heard the line countless times on TV and in movies, and I saw it again just the other night “would you love me if I was fat?” Bottom line – someone whose love is conditional upon a pant size or number on a scale doesn’t really love you.

I have talked about my love for Lisa many times, and the great fortune I feel at the life and marriage we share and work to maintain … but beyond anything else she has known me not just at my best and worst, but also my thinnest and fattest. And she loves me regardless … because beyond thin or fat there is ME. And while her weight has also fluctuated through the years, my love for her has never been in question, and neither has hers.

I have always been lucky to have the greatest supporter and teammate in the world.

Wednesday Wandering Mind – The Usual Nonsense But Mostly Health Stuff!

runnersworld.foodpyramid.500x1005.6

Now here is something interesting – I didn’t post on Monday. OK, maybe you noticed that, maybe not … but I sure did. While to an extent I could blame it on my busy anniversary weekend, or the sh!tstorm I knew I was walking into on Monday, or the kids starting band camp, or whatever. But none of it was true – the reality is I have 24 drafts in various states of completion, yet I just came up blank. So I let it go … but given how easily things have flowed lately I found it interesting. Apparently whatever was ‘stuck’ broke free …

1. Food Pyramid for Runners

I really love the food pyramid from Runner’s World, one of those classic ‘what they think, what I think …’ things, but with a twist.

The interesting thing I have talked about in the past is that for many years I was in the “I run so I can eat whatever I want” camp, and while most of my food choices were good, I regularly dipped into the lower part of the pyramid. But as I ramped mileage past 40 miles per week back in 2012 my eating shifted much more into the ‘fuel zone’, and I became very particular about what I put into my face.

So it struck me the other day when a runner friend grabbed ‘one of everything’ from an assembled ‘carb overload’ table that resulted when a few different people had coincidentally brought items the same day. And he said ‘this is why we run, right’? For me, the answer was ‘no’. Homemade stuff? Sure – and I had a great macadamia nut cookie … but not any of the store-bought items. Just me … but the ‘run to splurge’ thing isn’t important to me.

2. Take Time to Celebrate Your Victories!

A while back there was an article at Runner’s World called ‘Bask Now, Analyze Later’, which emphasizes taking time to celebrate what went well – and particularly focuses on one thing: I crossed the finish line.

Then a couple of weeks ago Nicole had a great post called ‘Things I did right during my last race’, which celebrates some of the things she did well – and that is SUCH an important thing to do. And something we rarely do …

Think about your last race or long run – what comes to mind first? Probably how it could have been better. I look at my long run from just over a week ago – I did 18.79 miles. Two thoughts – I didn’t get to 20, and I under-fueled. But … c’mon, I ran almost 19 freaking miles! Can I not celebrate THAT for a second? Sure it is important to visit our mistakes – and I did, which helped me to a properly fueled run over 23 miles this weekend. But I never really took the time to celebrate what I had accomplished.

So that is my challenge to you AND myself: celebrate your accomplishments. And if you leave a comment – tell me something awesome about yourself that you are celebrating today!

3. Drink More Water, Gain Less Weight!

We all know how important hydration is, especially as we burn through the summer months as runners (though as we know, winter hydration is just as important!). An interesting study from a while back that was covered at Runner’s World showed that drinking water – and other non-sugary drinks – led to less weight gain.

After controlling for several factors that could affect weight gain, the researchers found that people who drank water, coffee, tea, and diet beverages gained less weight each four-year period than people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juice.

Of course, we know that diet soda definitely doesn’t help with weight loss – and might even work against it due to how it confuses your body into expecting real sugar and when it doesn’t arrive it causes another hunger cycle to get back the resources it dumped before.

It all comes back to the basics – just like with foods, so too with drinks it is best to stick with things like water, infused water, coffee, tea, wine, and so on.

4. Reminder that ‘All Natural’ is Meaningless

OK, so I have gone on and on about how all of those ‘all natural’ protein powders and supplement pills and so on that people use and say ‘hey, it is all-natural, it must be good’ … is not guarantee. And recently on Buzzfeed there was an article about just how meaningless the ‘natural’ claim really is. From the post:

Can you spot anything actually found in nature in this product?
Ingredients: Citric Acid, Potassium And Sodium Citrate, Aspartame, Magnesium Oxide, Contains Less Than 2% Of Natural Flavor, Lemon Juice Solids, Acesulfame Potassium, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Color, Yellow 5 Lake, BHA (Preserves Freshness).

Though my favorite has to be the ‘all natural’ Cheetos … seriously.

5. Another Cautionary Thought on Anti-Oxidents

Yeah, I already went off on the whole Supplement thing, but it bears noting a more recent article discusses how some of the core thoughts behind the mechanistic workings of antioxidants could be wrong, and how we could be negating benefits of exercise by our ‘couldn’t hurt’ mentality:

“A supplement industry now worth $23 billion yearly in the U.S. took root,” he notes.

Taking antioxidant supplements before exercise actually negates some of the well-documented benefits of physical exertion.

And yet, antioxidant pills have proven to be a bust. In February, a group of independent US medical researchers assessed 10 years of supplement research and found that pills loaded with vitamin E and beta-carotene (the stuff that gives color to carrots and other orange vegetables) pills are at best useless and at worst harmful—that is, they may trigger lung cancer in some people. Just this month, a meta-analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that antioxidant supplements “do not prevent cancer and may accelerate it.”

And a 2009 study found that taking antioxidant supplements before exercise actually negates most of the well-documented benefits of physical exertion: That is, taking an antioxidant pill before a run is little better than doing neither and just sitting on the couch.

Again, I don’t consider this to be remotely conclusive science, but it is interesting – and gets back to what I keep saying: know what you are putting into your body, and when in doubt – don’t.

6. Debunking “Chronic Cardio”

Michele wrote a post asking ‘is running healthy’ which brought up a post from ‘Mark’s Daily Apple’ that claims that, basically, our current methods of exercise are ‘bad for us’. When I read the article, I had a few issues:
– The ‘summary’ block wasn’t a summary but a sales pitch. Anyone using an obvious ‘click bait’ title, then leading with a sales pitch has already hit an 8 on the ‘BS meter’.
– Looking to the end, it is clear that the goal is to make recommendations that align with the primal / Paleo ideals. Which isn’t surprising since the opening was a sales pitch.
– The intro claims that the ‘conventional wisdom’ is “45 minutes to an hour a day of intense aerobic activity” … but that isn’t true at all. The REAL recommendation is “150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise”. In other words – the basic assumption of the article is WRONG – and since finding the CORRECT information took me less than 5 seconds … it is not unreasonable to assume that the article was INTENTIONALLY MISLEADING.

So it is simple enough to discount the entire article, and quite frankly it undermines the credibility of the entire website. But someone took the time to actually debunk the points that were made in the original article:

One of the main reasons that Mark is against running – it decreases fat metabolism – isn’t supported at all. In fact, this study shows that aerobic training like running burns more visceral and liver fat than resistance training.

And this study shows that running is better than strength sessions for weight loss. This isn’t to show that you have to choose between the two – both have an important part in any healthy exercise program – but aerobic running is actually better for general weight loss.

Now one thing that came up with Michele’s post and in the comments was the ease of over-doing things. In other words, if you tend to be an extreme person who refuses to recover and just does extreme exercise all the time … well, maybe you will see negative effects.

Sure – but I have two thoughts: first, you will likely be injured well before any of the stuff in Mark’s article is a major concern … and second it is pretty much like arguing that water is bad for you if you choose to drink 47 liters per day. Um, yeah. Stick with reasonable training and exercise programs, folks.

tl;dr – running isn’t bad for you, anyone who says it is probably is selling something.

7. Could ‘Intermittent Fasting’ be Good For You?

This one is pretty far out there – and the general thought could be a trigger for those already dealing with restriction and with a history of restriction and other food-related issues (i.e. me).

You can see some of the articles here and here and here and here. From one article:

The human metabolism does not grind to a halt if you skip a meal (or three). For it to slow down by even ten percent, one would need to fast for 72 hours straight (don’t worry, no one’s recommending giving up food for three days)[1][2][3][4]. In fact, even 48 hour fasts have been shown to have no negative effect on metabolism, cognitive performance, or fatigue[5][6]. That’s not to say fasting can’t be a little uncomfortable — we’ll get to that later.

But why would anybody want to fast? For starters, IF shares many of the benefits of following a low calorie diet, such as a lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases [7][8][9]. Fasting’s effect on the heart is especially interesting: One study concluded just one day without food per month can potentially halve the risk of developing coronary artery disease[10].

8. Barefoot Running – It isn’t Bad For You, But Some Shoes Aren’t Good For You!

The whole debate over barefoot running has seemed like a he-said/she-said back and forth nasty debate since I got serious about running and shoes a couple of years ago. As I started back, I began with what are described as ‘minimal-ish’ and ‘ultra lightweight’ shoes. And I tried shoes that were lighter and thinner and dropped from 4mm to ‘zero drop’ … and eventually got to the Merrell Vapor Gloves which are zero-drop with 2mm cushion (compared to the 12+mm on most shoes) – and it was just too little shoe for me.

There was a big backlash, and last year loads of reports came out noting that the science for the backlash wasn’t there … and then a few months ago courts found that Vibram had mis-represented their shoes and the potential benefits in order to increase sales.

What is reality? I’m really not sure – there are articles about why barefoot-like shoes are ‘not best for most runners’. And I think that for people starting out, finding something with moderate cushion to start seems wise – and THEN working on different shoe drops and types to see what is optimal for you, consulting with people who can observe your stride and footfall pattern. Gradual, informed changes are always your friend.

9. FDA Closes the Trans-Fat Loophole

Have you heard about the 0.5g *per serving* trans-fat loophole? That loophole has now been ‘closed’ and if the rules go into full effect foods will no longer be allowed to claim ‘no trans fats’ if there are any present at all. Here are more details:

After thirty-odd years of everyone knowing trans fats are bad for us, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed measures to ban all trans fats in our food. The move comes after decades of research finding consuming trans fat is strongly linked to heart disease and obesity. The ruling is just preliminary for now, but when (or if) it comes into effect (the timeline is kinda fuzzy), there will be some big changes on supermarket shelves.

It turns out a lot of our favorite treats are laden with the stuff, even though brands often claim otherwise. This is thanks to an egregious loophole that allows a product to be labeled “trans fat-free” if there’s less than 0.5 grams of the stuff per arbitrary “serving.” Right now, the best way to tell if a product contains trans fat is to check the ingredients: If there’s partially hydrogenated oil, there’s trans fat.

10. Psychological Effects of Exercise Deprivation

Pete Larson from Runblogger highlights a study at Science of Running that had athletes take two weeks off … from the article:

“Following the layoff, the athletes saw significant increases in feelings of tension, depression, anger, confusion and total mood disturbance. Additionally, there was a decrease in vigor. These changes in mood aren’t terribly surprising, but it’s pretty profound when you think about it. Just by taking someone outside of their norm of aerobic exercise for 2 short weeks, people’s mood states were significantly impacted.”

I think many of us can relate in some way to taking time off and really feeling like our overall state was altered. For those who have been injured, what is your experience?

What Health Issues Have Been Tweaking You This Week?

One More Pet Peeve – Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege

TRqLQ.St_.81

I had another pet peeve, something I saw in Boston (and New York, and regularly here in the Corning area), but wanted to separate it out. I have another post I am working on related to my own observations from being both very fat and very thin as well as ‘normal’ – but I decided not to clog that up with this issue. So instead you get a quickie*** on something that I have thought about for nearly 40 years since I first heard judgments passed against me based on my size and shape: Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege.

One thing that came out of the comments in the pet peeve post was something Harold said about “the general lack of people being courteous to other people”. That is very true, but I am talking here about one of the last ‘acceptable’ forms of discrimination – Fat Shaming.

But first …

Yes I know there is ‘body shaming’ for being too thin.

Suz wrote about some harsh comments she received in which she was told that the person KNEW she had an eating disorder, I know Lauren has also heard theses things, and anyone who is thin and eats very light in public has either gotten ‘looks’ or had something said to (or about) them. That sucks, and being judged and having your feelings hurt really sucks.

But as noted in this article, personal emotional impacts simply are not the same as oppression.

Most People Reading This Have No Idea What it is Like to Be Obese

I know many folks have dealt with weight loss, and some started running and healthy eating to help control weight. But I had it put in perspective for me by someone I worked with for 10 years, during which time I got back to 220lbs once and 240lbs another time. She said after reading one of my posts that “I had no idea you struggled with weight.”

Because gaining and losing 20 – 40lbs on a body that has a healthy weight of ~190lbs or so is really not a big deal. I might look at pictures and think I was fat, but it never impacted things the way it did when I was >275 a couple of years ago, and especially when I was over 375 lbs and pushing out of a 48 waist pant size (for reference I now wear a 30).

The reason I note that most people I know who are runners have never been obese, is that they generally benefit from ‘thin privilege’, and having never ‘seen the other side’, chances are they don’t know.

Glamour-1-239x300

What IS Thin Privilege

To say that the treatment from strangers is different when you are 375+lbs compared to 185lbs … is an incredible understatement.

If you look at my food posts – my huge ice creams are celebrated on Instagram, and also in real life. I got one at a recognition lunch that was way too large for its description and everyone was enjoying checking it out and there was nothing uncomfortable or judgmental. And at our department boat trip I wanted to have dessert and share it, and when there was some left one person noted that the calories ‘were like rounding error’ for the amount I burn on my runs (remember- these are all math geeks like me!).

At this point I am lean, apparently look like a runner, and people treat me differently than I ever have been in my life. I am reaping the full benefits of ‘Thin Privilege’.

Here are some examples of Thin Privilege from this article:

– You’re not assumed to be unhealthy just because of your size.
– Your size is probably not the first thing people notice about you (unless you’re being thin-shamed – the opposite of fat-shamed).
– When you’re at the grocery store, people don’t comment on the food selection in your cart in the name of “trying to be helpful.”
– Your health insurance rates are not higher than everyone else’s.
– You can expect to pay reasonable prices for your clothing.
– You can expect to find your clothing size sold locally.
– You can expect to find clothing in the latest styles and colors instead of colorless, shapeless and outdated styles meant to hide your body.
– You don’t receive suggestions from your friends and family to join Weight Watchers or any other weight-loss program.
– When you go to the doctor, they don’t suspect diabetes (or high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other “weight-related” diagnoses) as the first/most likely diagnosis.
– You don’t get told, “You have such a pretty/handsome face” (implying: if only you’d lose weight you could be even more attractive).
– People do not assume that you are lazy, based solely on your size.
– You’re not the brunt of jokes for countless numbers of comedians.
– Airlines won’t charge you extra to fly.
– You are not perceived as looking sloppy or unprofessional based on your size.
– You can eat what you want, when you want in public and not have others judge you for it or make assumptions about your eating habits.
– You can walk out of a gas station with a box of doughnuts and not have people yell at you to “Lay off them doughnuts, fatty!” (This actually happened to one of my friends.)
– People don’t ask your partners what it’s like to have sex with you because of your size.
– Your body type isn’t sexually fetishized.
– You’re more likely to get a raise or promotion at work than someone who is fat.
– Friends don’t describe you to others using a qualifier (e.g. “He’s kind of heavy, but REALLY nice, though”).
– The media doesn’t describe your body shape as part of an “epidemic”.
– You can choose to not be preoccupied with your size and shape because you have other priorities without being judged.

xfatshaming1-600x350.png.pagespeed.ic.AyGL3KhMLZ

How Fat Shaming Becomes Oppression

Fat Shaming is a well-enough known term that I don’t have to elaborate, but it is quite simply ‘active discrimination’ based on your weight or body shape (which also applies to thin shaming) … it is only one type of shaming, and people will get judged for pretty much everything. But Fat Shaming is a ‘special case’, because not only is it common (see ‘Fat Shaming Week’), it is held as acceptable to society. In fact, and as shown through many advertising campaigns, it is often seen as more than acceptable – it is seen as a GOOD THING, because some believe that fat shaming will lead fat people to stop being so fat. And if not, then they DESERVE what they get … at which point it crosses into oppression.

Oppression is a very strong word, but look at the definition:

Oppression involves “the systematic subjugation of a group of people by another group of people who have access to social power, the result of which benefits one group over the other, and is maintained by social beliefs and practices.”

Another Everyday Feminism post looks at the oppressive aspects of Fat Shaming:

1. It is pervasive.

It is EVERYWHERE in our social and societal institutions, to the point of becoming something of a shared consciousness. An example of this is fat jokes – everyone gets them immediately. Heck, there are TV shows based almost entirely on fat jokes.

2. It is restricting.

In the same way gender discrimination limits the paths of women, and racial discrimination limits opportunities for minorities, so too does fat discrimination limit opportunities for larger people .. just look at the ‘thin privilege’ list for a few.

3. It is hierarchical.

In much the way that the old discrimation joke said ‘I always pick the best person for the job … it isn’t my fault that the best person is always white, male, Christian and Republican’ … so too do we see areas where someone who isn’t thin has an inherent disadvantage.

I mean, it has come up before, but ask yourself – would you hire a fitness coach or nutritionist who is 50lbs overweight? Is their knowledge and expertise somehow lesser because they are fat? No – but because they are not fat we are allowed to pass judgment that they are unskilled (otherwise they would be thin, right?)

4. The dominant group has the power to define and name reality.

The terms “normal,” “real,” or “correct” are defined by the dominant powers. They define what is average, and what is ‘preferable’ or ‘desirable’. The problem is that the inverse – what is abnormal and undesirable – becomes obvious, and is accepted for scorn, pity and discrimination.

The article closes by noting how Fat Shaming as oppression differentiates from being made fun of for having scrawny legs, as one example that was used:

When you have hurt feelings – legitimate as they are – it isn’t the result of subjugation.

The negative attitudes toward you as a privileged person aren’t pervasive, restricting, or hierarchal.

You aren’t losing out on anything just because someone’s words, actions, or beliefs had an emotional impact on you.

Fat Shaming is EASY

We all know that body shaming – or shaming anyone for ANY reason – is wrong … but in many cases it is easy.

Take grocery stores – as noted at XOJane, “because I am fat, the contents of my shopping cart — and anything I put into my mouth, at that — are open to public scrutiny.”

I am very sensitive to fat shaming and public ridicule, and am generally very good about not judging others as an overall rule. Several of us have talked about how elements in our childhood play into things we like, dislike and are sensitive to as adults. This is one for me.

Yet I am not perfect … I have noted that my running, losing ~110lbs, and so on have been ‘inspirational’ to people at work and I had several people come up to me in 2012 as they were on their own journey, and also last year in Kentucky. The problem is when you have someone ask for advice, talk to you about their issues … and then you see them engaging in self-sabotage. It is hard to NOT judge, and I hate myself for it.

*** OK, reading through I see I planned this as a ‘quickie’ … um, totally failed. Oh well, you guys know me better than that by now! 🙂

What are YOUR Thoughts Fat (and Thin) Shaming, Oppression and Anything Else?