The beauty of examining the ugly

I was mortified.

Snap from my running form reel

Snap from my running form reel

Earlier this month, I had the awesome privilege of enjoying a 5-day running camp with ZAP Endurance in the beautiful mountains of Blowing Rock, NC. One morning, after a fun speed workout in a humid, misty park, coaches captured short videos of us running to review later and assess our running form in action.

I had assumed we would review those clips with the coaches one on one.

I assumed wrong.

We would be looking at those clips as a group. I had a minor internal panic as I realized all my weaknesses would be pointed out in a public setting.

My stomach tightened as we sat down in the lounge to watch the videos on the big screen. I felt myself trying to melt into the couch cushions. I imagined Coach Pete and Matt shaking their heads as my clip appeared on the screen and saying something like, wow, this woman is a hopelessly terrible runner, or suggesting perhaps I should dump this running thing and take up knitting.

I had all these feelings despite all my accomplishments as a runner, including achieving progressively faster marathon times year after year, qualifying for the Boston Marathon at my last marathon, and zillions of hours of rehab/prehab in the gym, barre studio and pool to build myself into a stronger runner.

When my clip came up, I felt my face get hot. Then the coaches asked really insightful questions, a few light jokes were made (apparently I’m a gifted performer of the Marathon Shuffle!), and areas that need work were pointed out, along with specific exercises I can do to work on my weak medial glutes (damn glutes!). It was extraordinarily helpful.

This session also reminded me is how unbelievably brave my clients are.

Every time I meet with a client, I ask them to lay out all their dirty laundry for us to pore over. There is such tremendous courage shown and benefit gained in laying it all out there, looking at facts without emotion, and learning where we can improve.

Check out all the cool goings-on at ZAP here, and please be in touch if you have questions about this experience, or working with me to build healthful lifestyle and diet habits that stick!

Why so down on diets?

FACT: You can lose weight on any diet that creates a deficit so that you are consuming fewer calories than you burn. So why am I so down on dieting? As many of my clients have heard me say, if it takes a drastic intervention to lose weight—like Whole 30, dramatic low carb dieting, juice fasting and long intermittent fasting periods—it will take an equally drastic intervention to keep the weight off.

Most of us can’t and wouldn’t want to stay on these plans indefinitely because they’re miserable.

They ask us to deny our hunger, push down our needs, and follow a set of rules that are often arbitrary and frequently include beliefs not backed up by science (like carrots make you fat, your insides are dirty and need a power wash, and grains are toxic).

We white-knuckle it for a while, but inevitably we give in to the ravenous hunger we’ve been forcing down and denying. The weight creeps back on, leading to a shame and guilt cycle.

What a waste of time and energy!

I’m going to leave it to one of my favorite authors Geneen Roth who speaks far more eloquently than I on why diets ultimately fail us…

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Dump the cycle and listen to your hunger! And if you need some support, I welcome you to be in touch.

"Do allow yourself a cheat day?"

I often receive the question, “Do you allow yourself a cheat day?” and my answer is No, and No.

This question has two of my very least favorite words in it: Allow and Cheat.

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To say I “allow” myself to eat something is to imply I must be under restriction and require permission to eat certain foods, which is not how I choose to live, and certainly not how I want my health coaching clients to live.

And to “cheat?” Shudder, shudder. There’s a moral implication around the word cheat that just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t believe that there’s a morality attached to my food choices—I’m “good” if I eat vegetables, and “bad” or “cheating” if I eat cookies. The concept of cheat meals and cheat days again implies that most of the time I’m white knuckling it, living in deprivation…and likely counting down the seconds till my cheat.

I understand that this kind of thinking works for some folks and even allows them to manage their weight in some cases. I also regularly see how this kind of thinking can be miserable and oppressive, and easily spirals out of control. 

Instead, I choose to eat to support my health: Eating real, fresh food feels good! And sometimes eating a giant cookie made with love by and with loaded with huge melty chocolate chunks is good for my health, too. I don’t eat it with guilt or shame or regret. I savor every special bite because well-made indulgent food truly is a treat—not a cheat.

Credit to the baker: Little Fig Bakeshop, available at Stall 11 at R. House in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore.

 

Takeaways for this injured runner at running camp

Back in the spring, I excitedly signed up for a summer running camp for grown-ass women. During the course of marathon training this summer, I developed a femoral stress fracture, and when I emailed the organizers to request a refund, I got a hard NOPE. What should have been an empowering weekend for strong women to come together over running...actually was.

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