Eat Food and Don’t Think

Last week, I posted a couple shots of the cookies I was eating as an afternoon snack on Twitter. I have been loving the #restdaybrags threads as they help keep my focus on both recovering and resting but also ENJOYING the down time.

Let me preface this by saying that for some, eating big portions or without a reason (i.e. eating not out of hunger or to recover from a workout, but just because) can be hard. I won’t get into society’s standards for women nor the obesity crisis that is apparent in America today, but let’s just say if you focus on it too much it will make you question everything you put into your mouth.

Being in the vegan health scene can be like that too. There are a lot of detoxes, raw diets, low fat diets, fruitarian diets…the list goes on. I have gone down this rabbit hole a time or two in the past 5 years being vegan and at first you feel awesome and righteous…then the people in the movement really start to annoy you. You start to wonder why cooked rice is deemed “bad”. You start to hate having to pee every 30 minutes because of all the water in the fruit you are eating.

That’s not where I want to take this article, but it is a good reminder that there is a lot working against us when we want to enjoy food. So give yourself a break if you have anxiety sometimes over what you put into your mouth.

Anyway, I started getting involved in the #restdaybrags community really after I posted a picture of a large chocolate chip cookie I ate randomly during my shift at work. I had not worked out that day. I wasn’t hungry or starving. I didn’t think “I should have this because I am trying to gain energy for my next training cycle.” I simply was given an “older” cookie and so I started to eat it, and finished it.

I then did it again the next day. And the next. I also had them for dessert after dinner.

Yup, two in one day, for three days in a row. (there were about 12 old cookies…yup, I’m surprised too haha)

I was scrolling through Twitter and thought it would be a great thing to post to the feed. Even though I didn’t think about it then as part of my “resting”, it fit in with the group’s vibe. I got a lot of likes and retweets on it, which made me feel awesome.

I simply ate the cookie. I didn’t think about it besides how good it was. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t emotionally lacking anything that the cookie was giving me. It was there, so I ate it.

I enjoyed it. The end.

After about a week of my either 1 or 2 cookie per day habit (it’s now a habit that I’m trying to break only because since now I’m eating the new cookies I have to pay for them…sad!) I stepped on the scale.

To preface that, I bought a scale the day after getting my blood work to monitor progress in that area. Putting on a few pounds didn’t sound like a bad idea then (nor does it now) as I felt weak and broken. I had been weighing myself everyday, but forgot for about a week when life got busy.

Anyway, I got on the scale and had gained 6 pounds in the three weeks since I got blood work. 6 pounds!!! That’s amazing right?

Not only had I forgotten I was doing that (trying to put on some weight), but I was eating food normally without judgement or thinking too much about it. When I stepped on the scale, I was elated that I had gained weight while not thinking about it.

In those three weeks, I ate the same amount of food as when I was training. I never felt like I hadn’t eaten enough during the day and therefore tried to “make up” calories by eating more for dinner and dessert. I never felt uncomfortably full. I ate when I was hungry, when something was given to me or if I just felt like it.

A secret to gaining some weight: it’s easier to eat 4,000 calories spread out in the day and have tons of energy than like 1,000 before dinner and then stuff yourself with the rest.

That sucks.

I guess the lesson I’ve learned this month is that I have the ability to just let food be food. I have eaten great food, good food and food that was just “eh” and it all was enjoyed, but not thought about too much.

Nutrition is important, God I know that’s the truth. But sometimes, don’t think, just eat.

My Emergency Snack Kit

Some days man, I feel like an bottomless pit. Seriously no matter what I do, I am really hungry all day. This kind of sucks with the job I have, because if I’m not prepared with something, I won’t get to eat for a long time, and by the time I do, I am so hungry I stuff myself and then feel lethargic all day.


After a few weeks of this, I had to get smart, so I started bringing a snack bag both to work and with me in my car (so I have TWO snack bags!) so that I am never very far from something to eat. I waffled through a few different types of things to keep in there, and have finally found my perfect bag.

Something to hit each of my usual cravings without being too much.

The standard apple, Barney Butter snack pack, water and my new favorite granola bar: Go Macro.

I have eaten these bars in the past when I lived in Ithaca. I picked them up when they were on sale, and then rotated them in with the other bars I like. When I moved, I forgot about them as my grocery stores changed and I didn’t eat as many granola bars. Now that I like to have a few snacks each day, they have made a comeback.

Go Macro bars are nut-butter based, which is probably the most delicious way to make granola bars. The bars have super clean ingredients and no filler. Completely plant-based protein, raw, vegan and certified organic nutrition bar.

Essentially all the good things other than taste that matter to my ethical side.

I have had a great time trying each of the flavors (there are ten) and my favorite is definitely the sunflower butter bar. I am just a sucker for sunflower seeds and that delicious creamy spread. BONUS: sunflower seeds were recommended by my blood work from Inside Tracker.

Actually, all of the ingredients fit in somewhere with the foods I am trying to eat more of. They are also a higher caloric content, so I don’t have to add peanut butter on top or eat two of them. That’s kind of great!

Always having a snack has been crucial to having more energy, recovering from whatever I am doing and just making me feel better.

I just love these bars, I can’t wait to try them in my next long run or race.

Any other bars I should try?

The Mental State of Rest and How to Enjoy It

I used to think of rest as doing nothing. It freaks me out because there is sometimes nothing worse than an idle mind full of “shoulds” and the fear of missing out.

Others think of rest (from a sport in talking about) as easy cross training, not weight bearing movement etc.

Actually, rest is neither of those things. In my experience, rest is two things:

1.) Not moving very much in the same way as before

2.) Doing something completely different than the activity you are resting from

In my time off, I’ve been obsessively reading. Or well, I’ve been spending the time I would be running or lifting with my nose in a book.

I love to read, so this works for me. For my other friends this means getting into a TV show, seeing more music and theater stuff, trying new restaurants or just being more social.

Sure, I’ve done a lot more of those things too recently, but when I am actively NOT PARTICIPATING in my one hobby, running, I get really into my other hobby: reading.

Rest should be about that. It’s not about doing nothing at all or active rest, it’s about doing the other things you enjoy that don’t stress your body in the same way. For my friend Laura Kline, it’s cooking (and I love it when she’s in a taper or rest period…bring on the treats!)

I’ve found that I actually enjoy the process of rest now that it has both purpose and pointlessness.

It is purposeful in that I was tired and needed a break, but also I don’t find I have to force it either. My mind isn’t going to that place. You know that place some athletes get where they have it in their mind “I am reading/watching TV/cooking etc because I am supposed to be resting.”

That mindset takes the enjoyment out of rest for me. I am reading because I like it. I am not running because it stopped being fun and I was on the brink of injury. I do not think of reading as “the activity I am doing because I am not supposed to be running.”

I think of reading or socializing or whatever as something fun I enjoy and have time to do. I’m not thinking of it as an “I would rather be…” activity.

This mindset has allowed me to accept the state I am in both in life and running. It has given me a sense of peace. 

I’ll take that.

I know my body

I am a few weeks into “non-training” and prioritizing the information given to me by Inside Tracker. The first two weeks were spent completely off movement outside of work. Then this past Sunday, I jumped into a local small trail race.

Race recap: it was fun, felt amazing and scratched my itch to get on some trails.

I haven’t run since then, but if the urge comes, I’ll take it outside for a few miles. Not training for me does not mean not running or moving. Not training means listening to what I want to do, keeping my HR pretty manageable and stopping if I’m not feeling it.

No workouts, no heavy breathing, all enjoyable.

What I’ve learned so far in this process is that I know my own body. I can hear what it’s telling me. I do not always listen, but I know what it is saying.

I was not afraid to run on Sunday because my intentions were pure enjoyment, I knew I would walk if I wanted to and I missed this small town trail scene. That’s exactly how the race turned out.

If I decide to run from now on, I’m confident I can handle it. Of course, I’m not planning any workouts or anything specific. Simply if the urge to run comes, I’ll go with it.

My life has slowed down considerably at work with the students gone. That is both a blessing for my body, and a curse for my mind. I get bored easily, but am trying to embrace the slowness. Being the social media manager has given me a creative outlet, while also allowing me to rest my legs. Check out the Instagram @strongheartsonthehill to see my work. You can also follow us on Facebook (shameless plug).

Do I still consider myself an athlete in this period? Hmm, I think yes because it keeps my eye on the eventual goal of training again when I want to. It helps me remember to foam roll, do some hip mobility, wear my recovery gear and eat properly. It also gives me confidence that running will not hurt me. I’ll be fine if I jog a few easy miles. Just not everyday.

I think I really freaked out a few weeks ago. I was over tired, stressed and wondering how to manage it all. Then I got bloodwork confirming that. I hadn’t been listening to my body. Instead of going completely nuts and calling my sister in the middle of the night, I should have done what I’ve been doing, took enough time off to want to run again and adjusted racing goals.

My future plans have a few races, but they are not goal oriented events. I have zero planned training, am going to show up at the race and just run. Not fast or go anaerobic, but just have fun. That’s how I started racing, and that’s how I want to do it right now.

Racing as a social event, not an opportunity to test myself or compete.

That actually sounds lovely!

I know my body. I’m listening to it.

The Changes I’ve Made Based on My Inside Tracker Results

Since getting my results from Inside Tracker, I’ve made a few changes in my daily life.

I had already decided to take a break from longer endurance exercise before I got the results, but my levels of testosterone and cortisol solidified this decision in my mind. Since that time, I’ve been doing more relaxing activities like reading, napping or working instead of running.

Read how I'm fixing my blood markers from @InsideTracker #themoreyouknow #bloodwork Click To Tweet

The first week was rough, because my job was crazy busy. It’s the nature of the beast. However, since I cut out the other strenuous activities, I found that even if I worked a 10 hour day, I generally felt pretty good. I got tired at the right times, didn’t feel like I needed to nap all the time and was more present at my job.

On the nutrition standpoint, I am starting with foods I can easily incorporate. I took the foods and thought up breakfasts and lunches where I could add them in.

For example, to improve my Vitamin D, I was instructed to increase my intake of mushrooms, soymilk, chocolate almond milk and toasted oat cereal (Cherrios).

To improve my inflammation from running, in addition to taking a much needed rest, I should include soybeans, chia seeds, avocado, edamame, various nuts, beans and quinoa.

To improve my iron and ferritin, I should include dark chocolate, spinach, beans, teff flour, amaranth and oats.

To improve my DHEAS (sex hormones), I should include dark chocolate, granola, nuts and avocado.

To improve my Vitamin B-12, I should include soymilk, chocolate almond milk, Cherrios, fiber cereal and rice milk.

From this data, an example day for me would be:

Breakfast: Cherrios with soy milk and peanut butter

[note, this is not Cherrios…but it’s pretty]

Lunch: Sandwich with avocado, mushrooms, hummus, spinach, oil-based dressing, tomato, sprouts and onions. Side of an orange or soup.

Snack: smoothie with spinach, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chocolate almond milk, almond butter and banana

Dinner: Bowl of rice, avocado, tofu, beans, roasted veggies, nutritional yeast, salsa and sunflower seeds. Side of veggies.

Dessert: Ideally I’d have dark chocolate, but I’ve been hitting the Oreo train hard recently, and a raw chia seed protein bar.

Some days, I don’t always do this, but I try. I try hard. This is important.

The first week, nothing really seemed to change and I was still exhausted most of the time. However, increasing my sleep and relaxation and incorporating these foods have begun to have a positive effect (duh.) I feel more positive in general. I’m not worried about injury (because I’m not running so who cares?). I have gone out to eat with friends more times this past week than in the past month. I am more present with others as I am not thinking about how to optimally rest/train. I feel more optimistic about my future as an athlete.

I’m letting myself heal. I am enjoying the process.

I can’t wait to get back out there, but you know, here is cool too 🙂