I filled my CamelBak yesterday. Orlando and I stopped at Whole Foods last night on our way to dinner so I could pick up the Vega gel I use during long runs. I had a simple dinner, never anything spicy or fancy the night before a long run. We were home by 8:30 and I took out my running clothes, made my chia overnight oats for the morning and prepared my pre-run drink. I thought I had the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer I usually drink before a long run, but I couldn’t find it so I substituted it with something called Carb-igniter that I got at some running expo. I set my alarm for 3:55 and I was in bed and asleep by 10. I felt good mentally and physically. I was ready for my 22 mile run in the morning.
My alarm went off and I was up. I followed my pre-run rituals. The Carb-igniter was a little funky, but I drank it. I set out just before 4:30. It was still dark, but so peaceful. I started out feeling great. I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast run for me, but that was ok as long as I was running a comfortable steady pace.
I chugged along. I grabbed a gel at mile 5 and after just a taste my stomach turned. By mile 7 I was so nauseous I could barely stand to sip water. I walked most of mile 13. As I turned onto a road littered with shops, gas stations and restaurants I told myself I would just run to McDonalds where I could use the bathroom. Sorry if that’s TMI!
As I exited McDonalds I tried to convince myself I was feeling better so I set off at a slow jog. Nope the nausea was right there and felt stronger. I knew there was a convenience store less than a mile away so I told myself to just keep going until I reached it. I figured I could by a small package of plain crackers and maybe that would settle my stomach. No such luck. Every cracker was covered in some kind of cheese, jalapeño flavoring, pizza flavor or other equally nauseating topping.
Back on the road and about 6 miles to go. I ran a nice downhill as I neared mile 17. As soon as Map My Run announced mile 17 I started crying. I felt so sick. I was close to home at this point. I didn’t want to give up, but the run downhill jostled my sick stomach even more. I slowed to a walk and weighed my choices. I kept walking and as I reached my house I was just shy of 19 miles. I couldn’t go any further. Of course my legs were sore by this point. I crumbled in tears as I took off my sneakers and my water pack. I have never ever walked so much on a long run. I have never not made the distance I set out to run. Damn Carb Igniter! I know that’s what caused the nausea. Never stray from what normally works when you’re training. I should have known better.
So I ate some saltines, had a little pity party, and then I called my sister for some support while I walked those last 3.22 miles. I should have kept going because in a real marathon you don’t get to stop at home if things aren’t going well. I hung up with my sister after about a mile and a half. I spent the next mile and half reminding myself that this bumpy road I’ve been on full of inconsistency, doubt, and challenge is just part of life. This too shall pass and I will be a better person for it.
I’m trying to work so many things out in my head right now. I’m so aggravated with myself. There was a time when I trained for three marathons, worked nights and took care of my son all day. I was busy then too, but I did it. Now I have a To Do list 8 miles long. I can’t seem to keep up with my own life since I changed jobs in November never mind my son’s schedule. It doesn’t help that I still do at least one night shift per week at the hospital. I’ve been trying for almost two years now to feel some semblance of balance in my life, but as the days and years slip by I feel like my life is stuck in a hamster wheel.
I need to find order, stop making excuses and start dreaming big again. There was a time a couple of years ago when I felt amazing. I was in a good place mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m not there right now. I’ve spent a long time pondering how I got off track; probably way too much time. It’s time to stop living in the past and move forward.
I read two blog posts today that had a profound effect on how I’m feeling. The first was from Roni at Roni’s Weigh. It’s called The After Myth and Why I get so Snarky. I’ve been reading Roni since before my son was born and really credit her with changing my outlook on dieting. What used to be a temporary fix in my mind shifted to becoming a lifestyle and this post that I read today drove home the point that I have to stop thinking about “the after picture” so to speak. It’s the journey we are on and the here and now that we need to appreciate. There is no pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow. The rainbow never ends and there are many pots of gold along the way if we learn to recognize them.
The second post was actually one that Roni referenced in her post. It’s called “After” Myth on the blog Can Anybody Hear Me. Wow this just blew me away. I have been grappling with such internal confusion regarding my weight. I have struggled with it since I was 10 years old. The closest I ever came to being a healthy comfortable weight was in the spring of 2013. I ran the Montreal Marathon in September 2013 and it’s been a downward spiral since. I haven’t gained back the 70 pounds I lost, but I’ve gained back a good 10-15 depending on the day (I’m guessing based on my clothing because I haven’t actually weighed myself since December). I’ve reverted back to behaviors I thought I had expelled from my life. I’ve allowed “fat feelings” and negative self-talk to dictate my mood.
Why am I holding back? I know it’s not about how I look, but how I feel inside. I know that life feels so much better when I feel good in my clothes, my mind, my soul. I move easier. My mind is clearer. I smile more. I’m more productive.
Uncovering my layers is scary and makes me vulnerable, but putting the layers back on doesn’t feel right either. I have spent the first half (hopefully) of my life mostly feeling awful about myself, being angry, sad, defensive and self-conscious. I don’t want to live this way anymore. I’ve made so many strides in a healthier direction. It’s time to embrace the life I know I can live. Stop looking to the “after” and start living in the now. It’s up to me to do what I can to have the happiest, healthiest today and then do it all over again tomorrow. In the process I might finally obtain the greatest treasure of all…learning to love myself.
It’s Marathon Monday!! I’ve been checking the forecast for days now. You might think I was running the marathon. The plan was to hang out at my sister’s all weekend and then spectate the race today, but unfortunately I have to work today. My sister lives about 12 miles from Boston. Carlos and I did spend Saturday and Sunday there and I took advantage of the absolutely gorgeous weather to go for a long run. It was a return to the seen of my Achilles injury last year. As you can imagine I spent much of the run reflecting on this past year. Due to the sinus surgery I just had I was forced to take the run very slowly so I had a lot of time to think as I ran 20 miles along the Charles River from Waltham, MA into Boston and back.
I saw so many runners who are likely running the Boston Marathon today. I felt a bit like an imposter almost like I didn’t belong. I mean it’s Boston after all. The Boston Marathon holds a distinction that to me no other marathon can claim. I think the fact that you have to qualify to run Boston makes it special not elitist as someone recently argued to me. You can raise money and run it as a fundraiser which is wonderful and selfless. Maybe someday I’ll have to do that in order to run Boston, but for now the dream of qualifying for Boston is a goal…a seemingly unattainable goal. My experience with running has taught me to never say never. I do know that this year won’t be the year.
Since I was going it slow on my long run I decided to enjoy the change of scenery, take some photos, Tweet and Instagram along the way. Here are some of the photos:
I made it home this morning from dropping Carlos off at rock climbing camp to catch the men’s elite start. Oh my goodness I get such chills. I can’t fathom how quickly their legs have to move. The weather is holding out so far and it’s actually close to ideal running weather. The women are at about 1:04 in and the announcer just reported that they are almost half way done. Truly amazing!! I would love to see Desiree Linden win, but it seems to me like she’s pulled ahead a little too early. She’s got some really strong competition at her heels, literally. Wheelchair winner, Marcel Hug of Switzerland, just finished in 1:29:53. Wave 3 just started. There is some rain coming down now in Boston, but it’s pouring where I am in Western Mass so hopefully the downpour will hold off for the runners. Desiree has dropped back as they enter the Newton hills. The African women look strong as usual. It’s anyone’s race right now.
I’ll continue to watch the event live streaming on my computer while I get some work done.
I mentioned that I was having dental surgery on Friday. There’s a story behind that surgery that connects many dots of my life. In my early 20s while a student at UMass the left side of my face became swollen and inflamed in pain. Two ER visits, a dentist visit and finally an X-ray later it was discovered that I had an infection in the root of one of my molars and required a root canal.
After graduating from college in 1996, I knew that I was going to apply to the Peace Corps. However, my stepfather passed away on December 2, 1996 and I put my Peace Corps (PC) application in a drawer because it didn’t seem right to leave my mom. Eventually she found it and told me to apply.
I sent in the application sometime in mid 1997. Applying to the PC is a long process for some of us. There is a medical exam, dental exam, lots of paperwork and an interview. I sent in all the paperwork as well as the medical and dental which included full mouth X-rays. My interview was in Boston in August 1997. By February of 1998 I was getting antsy. I wanted to move on with my life and was ready to take off for distant places whether with the PC or on my own to teach English.
In early March 1998, I called the PC headquarters in D.C. I was congratulated and told I had been invited to serve in Armenia. I told the woman that I hadn’t received anything in the mail. She put me on hold and when she returned she seemed nervous. She explained she shouldn’t have given me that information over the phone. She also mentioned I should have received an envelope from the Dental Office. I hadn’t so she transferred me to that department. I was told that it had been sent a couple of months ago and indicated a problem with the tooth I had the root canal on a couple of years earlier.
The invitation to Armenia finally arrived. The group was scheduled to leave at the end of May 1998. I eagerly began seeking as much information about Armenia as I could including connecting with current PC volunteers in Armenia via a very bare bones newsgroup on the internet. I was really excited to go especially after communicating with people who were already there. They spent vacations traveling to Greece or interesting places within Armenia and the summers sounded beautiful.
While planning my departure to Armenia, I was also being scheduled for the dental procedure to repair the root canal. I had periodontal surgery at the beginning of April. I can’t remember how it worked exactly, but by the end of April I had been told I could not go to Armenia because I would not be dentally cleared until my mouth was completely healed. My dentist wouldn’t clear me until June. I was devastated.
The PC recruiter in D.C. assured me that once I was cleared he would work on placing me somewhere else. However, when I called him in June 1998 with the news that I was finally cleared by dental, he was dealing with 4 PC evacuations out of unstable countries. His priority was placing those PC volunteers who wanted to continue their service. In our conversation he mentioned a new PC program in Mozambique beginning in the fall of 1998. I expressed my interest and he immediately apologized saying that I wasn’t going to be on the list for the new Mozambique program.
I hung up the phone and immediately called my boss at the time. He was an African American Studies professor at UMass Amherst. He also ran a scholarship program for black students in Durban, South Africa. I had been involved in organizing his trips to and from South Africa. Together we wrote a letter to PC to explain why I thought I would be an asset in PC Mozambique.
I sent the letter and waited. I waited and waited. Finally I called and spoke to the recruiter. He told me he received the letter, but was very sorry he couldn’t invite me to serve in Mozambique. I thanked him and told him I really couldn’t let PC keep me in limbo any longer. I fibbed and said I had an opportunity to teach English in Guatemala. In all honesty I could have gotten a job in a hot minute teaching English in Guatemala as jobs were plentiful then.
That evening there when I got home there ws a voice mail from Dan, the recruiter, welcoming me into PC Mozambique. I screamed!! I knew without a doubt that this was where I was supposed to be going. Armenia never felt like a good fit, but Mozambique seemed to have everything I was hoping for in a PC experience.
My PC experience is another story for another day, but suffice it to say my time in Mozambique was life changing. I loved my life in Mozambique and not just because I met my husband there. I was truly happy and comfortable there. I met such beautiful people. The food was delicious. The weather was hot. The beaches nothing short of perfect. I ate mangos and papayas from the trees in my yard. Most importantly I learned to relax.
Prior to leaving many friends and family members “warned” me not to get married over there in Africa. I laughed. I wasn’t exactly known for dating. And who goes into the PC with a goal of getting married anyway? I certainly didn’t, but it happened. Orlando and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage this September.
Not only did Mozambique introduce me to my husband, it also gave me a dear friend. For my first year in the PC, I had a site mate. Well when you live in a small house with lots of down time and no tv you become friends really quickly. Amelia and I learned so much about each other in a short time. There was no such thing as TMI! However, when she was offered an opportunity to move to the capitol and work with the Ministry of Education after a year we both knew we were ready for an independent experience. Our friendship has stood the test of time and I cannot imagine having gone through my first year of PC without Amelia.
Upon my return to the US the pesky tooth required an updated crown. Then a couple of years ago I felt a twinge of pain in that area and the memory came flooding back. I knew it was an infection so I called the dentist. A quick X-ray confirmed it and after a short discussion with my dentist I decided to pull the tooth. I couldn’t justify anymore expensive root canals. My dentist who had nothing to do with the previous procedures showed me exactly what the problem was and admitted that the job not done properly.
In a matter of 30 barbaric seconds a dental surgeon yanked the tooth out of my thankfully numb mouth. It was horrible. I cried briefly because I couldn’t believe the manner in which it was done. I left with a wad of gauze in my mouth and a nauseous feeling in my stomach. Later on I would run my tongue over the gaping hole and feel a sense of sadness. That tooth had cost me a great deal of pain, anguish and money, but it also changed my life forever.
I was assured by my dentist that the issues did not stem from poor dental care. I refused to leave the hole as is because I didn’t want my top teeth to shift as the bottom teeth had shifted. Before I could address the missing tooth I had to straighten my teeth. A word to anyone with teens in braces…insist that they wear their retainers or get a permanent retainer placed behind the teeth. I had braces at age 10 and they were removed by age 12. I wore my retainers for a bit, but then orthodontic care fell to the wayside as did my retainers. By not continuing to wear the retainers my bottom front two teeth began to spin inwards towards each other.
I wore Invisalign from October 2013 until Friday. I now have retainers which look similar. I have to wear them as often as possible for the next 6 months and then I will go to nighttime wear only.
With Invisalign completed we could now discuss the gaping hole wear my molar once sat. I had two options – a bridge or implants. I say implants because the space is large enough to fill two teeth into it. I honestly don’t know what happened to the other tooth or if there really was another tooth. My dentist sent me for an CT scan of the head to determine if implants were a feasible option. We sat in his office and he explained that implants were possible but I would need to have a sinus lift to add more bone in which to “implant” the new teeth.
My dentist is truly enthusiastic about his profession. He admitted that he was just learning to do this procedure and offered to do it for free. I just had to pay the cost of materials. He said he would invite a more experienced colleague to assist. I had faith in his abilities so I said yes. Friday was the sinus lift and first stage of the implants. The procedure took 3 hours. I am a ridiculously good patient. I don’t flinch or whine. I am totally still. At one point I even got drowsy! It went really well, but my face is really swollen and uncomfortable.
I honestly think the worst part of the surgery was the post op instructions. Before beginning the procedure Dr. Fox told me I could do any crazy pounding exercise. I thought he was kidding because he knows I’m training for a marathon. I said, “what like a 20 mile run on Sunday.” He thought I was kidding. I reassured him I wasn’t joking and he forbade me. He and his colleague told me absolutely not, no 20 mile run. No running for at least 48 hours and then only a short run if the swelling has subsided. My eyes welled up with tears. Not only was I mentally ready for my 20 miler the weather is amazing.
At the end of the procedure he told me I should stick to a liquid (smoothies, juices, broths, pureed soups) diet for 2 weeks and then a soft/liquid diet for another 4 weeks. I have numerous sutures and the area really needs to heal without any potential trauma. I will do anything I have to in order to heal properly. This tooth has cost me more money than I care to think about.
In 6 months I will at last have the implants and this lengthy tooth saga will at hopefully be finished. When I recount the story of “the tooth” it’s difficult to be resentful of the money spent (quite possibly a down payment on a house) and the pain felt because I wouldn’t have the one thing that means more to me than anything in the entire world…Carlos.
I mixed up the order of the talks on day 2 of Healthfest. I actually saw Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s talk second and then Lani Muelrath’s lecture.
The Origin and Meaning of Whole
Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Dr. Campbell is best known for the book the China Study, the book he wrote with his son Thomas Campbell, after 40 years of research. Dr. Campbell is very much a college professor. There are no theatrics in his lectures, but he speaks eloquently and intellectually. This particular lecture referenced the works of a number of studies and emphasized nutrition confusion. Let’s face it there are so many conflicting reports which lead to misinformation and mistreatment of illness.
He stands behind his research and the research of others to defend his message that a whole food, plant-based diet has medicinal, healing and preventive effects on the body.
From my notes:
Diet, Nutrition and Cancer (1982 report by the National Academy of Sciences) – high fat diet is associated with increased susceptibility to cancer.
From the highly respected Cochrane Reviews published in 2008, “Beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E given singly or combined with other antioxidant supplements significantly increase mortality.” There is no evidence to support the theory that vitamin supplements work. Get vitamins by eating a varied WFPBD
“Long-chain and shorter chain omega-3 fats do not have a clear effect on total mortality combined cardiovascular events, or cancer.” (Hooper 2006) – study showed that supplements might actually be increasing cancer risk
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fish intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (Kaushik 2009) – 3 million studied, 9380 new cases of type 2 diabetes; no evidence that eating a diet higher in long chain fatty acids and fish reduces the risk for diabetes. Rather it might be concluded that it may increase the risk.
Supplements are a 32 billion dollar a year industry
The Effect of Vitamin E and Beta Carotene on the Incidence of Lung Cancer and Other Cancers in Male Smokers (NEJM 1994) – studied 29,133 male smokers 50 to 69 years of age from southwestern Finland to determine if supplementation with alpha-tocopherol (Vit E) and beta carotene would decrease risk of lung cancer since epidemiological studies have shown a diet rich in these nutrients are associated with a decreased risk in this type of cancer. After 5-8 years of dietary supplementation there was no decrease in the incidence of lung cancer. Actually the study raised the question as to whether or not the supplements have harmful effects.
Those are just some tidbits of information. Obviously the studies I cited from Dr. Campbell’s talk are much more in depth. I looked them up and read through some of them. Whether you believe in the information or not I will tell you I do think we are being fed a line of bull from the healthcare industry in order to sell, sell, sell particularly when it comes to supplements.
It’s really difficult to know what’s true and what’s not true. However, if we look at it from a purely common sense perspective and think back to a time when people subsisted off of what was grown in the ground or raised on their land you didn’t encounter many of the illnesses that plague our society today, namely cancer, obesity and heart disease. Sure people became ill and died and those diseases existed, but not in the numbers they do today.
Before I move on to more about the conference I am going to write about my really crappy week. This week sucked. The weather was horrible and it’s really wearing me down. I had an awesome 18 mile run on Sunday and then on the fitness front it was all downhill from there. My motivation was sapped. I had none. I am going to announce something I rarely ever say…I have been tired! Actually no, I’ve been exhausted both mentally and physically. Yes, I am human!!
On the food front the week started out great. By Wednesday I needed the jaws of life to tear me away from the jar of sunbutter. Ridiculous!
Work kind of sucked too. My new job is ok. I’m learning, but there is so much to learn. Most days I feel like I’m starting over again. I’m also still working per diem at the hospital. I was told on Tuesday morning that the Wednesday night shift I picked up at the hospital was actually taken by someone else after my boss had offered it to me. OK no big deal. I could use the night’s sleep. Later on Tuesday there was a call out so I ended up working, but the last minute nature of it threw me all off the next day.
I had a work meeting out in the eastern part of the state yesterday. What should take me an hour and a half tops took me over 2 hours. Why is there rush hour traffic at almost 10am? I could never live and work out there.
Well I suppose I could wallow in my little pity party, but I won’t. It’s time to move on. The sun is coming, so “they” say. I have a 20 mile run this weekend and I’m going to kill it! I had my lemon water this morning to start the day and now I’m eating a bowl of oatmeal with a little banana and apple. I’m having dental surgery later this morning. This afternoon I’m supposed to shuttle things from Carlos’ school over to UMass where they are holding the school’s annual auction. Carlos is having a much awaited sleepover tonight with his best friend. It’s going to be a busy day, but I’m grateful to have another day to try to figure things out. I’m not perfect, but I will progress. This is just a bump in the road of the wonderful journey I’m on.
After the data packed lecture by Dr. Robert Ostfeld, I went to the Michelson Museum for a talk by Lani Muelrath, author of the book, Fit Quickies. The book describes how to “fit” fitness into your day in short targeted bursts to maximize the effectiveness and minimize the time spent working out. Lani also follows a whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD).
Her talk was entitled the Food and Fitness Connection and like the book details not only how to fit workouts into busy schedules, but also touches diet and mindset. She refers to the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle as fitness, food and mindset.
I enjoyed the lecture and the demonstration of a couple “fit quickies” at the end. Lani is energetic and passionate about what she does. She speaks from experience, having lost 50 pounds and she lives the lifestyle she preaches. She was also very approachable throughout the weekend.
I thought this was an interesting slide she showed at the end of the talk. Since I started this new job I find that I’m working at the computer much more. From day one I noticed areas of my back tightening up and my right shoulder felt pinched after sitting for a while. Now, most days, I stand up at my kitchen island while working. I have no more back discomfort or shoulder pain.
I decided to indulge in a rare treat…a little extra sleep in the gigantic king size hotel bed. Unfortunately this meant missing the Healthfest training run at 6:30am. Instead, I enjoyed a solo run near the hotel in Marshall. There wasn’t much to see on the main road so I turned down a side street and found myself on a quiet residential dirt road. As I came up a small hill on my way back towards the main road I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise. The weather was cool, but still a welcome change from the northeast.
It was really difficult to pick and choose which sessions to attend. There were typically two or three at a time with shorter fitness sessions woven into the day. It was nearly impossible for me to attend a yoga class and make it to the lectures I really wanted to see as well. I saw as much as I possibly could in the short time.
Healthfest Day 2
Your Heart on Plants
The first session I attended was a talk by Dr. Robert Ostfeld, Director of Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY. Dr. Ostfeld presented a straightforward, research based lecture. His use of case studies, anecdotes, and ease with which he spoke of the subject matter made the talk enjoyable. The fact that the content was upheld by scientific data reinforced my understanding of the positive effects of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPBD) on the heart.
The following are notes that I jotted down during the presentation:
Lifestyle is the cornerstone of preventive medicine
65% of 12-14 year olds have early signs of heart disease
There are 2 heart attacks per minute in the United States
Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the United States
Women are 6-7 times more likely to die of a Myocardial Infarction (MI) than Breast Cancer
Framingham Heart Study – began in 1948 and continues to track three generations of participants in Framingham, MA to help identify the factors that contribute to heart disease
Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) – associated with increase in cholesterol levels in the blood. Found in meat eaters, but not present in vegans.
Goal of Dr. Ostfeld’s Cardiac Wellness Program is to prevent and reverse heart disease with a WFPBD
Case study – Female patient in her mid-60s. Status post MI (heart attack), refused surgery. Shortness of breath on minimal exertion. On cardiac medications. Started a WFPBD with no oil. In 4 months her LDL dropped 70 points and she was able to walk comfortably for 30 minutes on a treadmill. There was a strong dichotomy of opinions in her family, half of the family were in full support of the WFPBD treatment and half did not approve. Patient had to move closer to the half of the family that disapproved of the WFPBD and she returned to her previous eating habits. She quickly decompensated, had another heart attack and opted for bypass surgery.
HDL efflux = WFPBD makes HDL cholesterol (aka “the good cholesterol”) more efficient which can actually decrease HDL level (we are ingrained to believe that our HDL should be high and LDL low).
Dr. Ostfeld did another session later in the day called Beyond the Heart, but it conflicted with another lecture I wanted to hear. What impressed me the most about Dr. Ostfeld was the fact that he’s prescribing plant based diets to his patients and he’s monitoring real success. He also follows a WFPBD so he’s not just preaching to patients. He’s actually living the same lifestyle he promotes. His message, and really the overall theme of the conference, is that if we treat our bodies the right way we can live a long healthy life despite our genetic lot in life.