Friday, May 4, 2018

New goals - an honest post

Lately I have been really feeling the itch to write and have been missing having this space as an outlet. I am going to make an effort to spend more time here and write more. I have continued to come back to the blog after 9 years now because I have come to find that writing is good for me mentally. It helps me process things and sort through my thoughts. I have missed the routine and ritual that I have often had of sitting down with my laptop at the end of the day; digesting and analyzing the things I felt and did as they related to training, eating, and life.

As I get ready for Ironman Chattanooga, I know finding free time in the day is going to become even harder than it is now, but I am hoping to continue to carve space in my life to dedicate towards writing and reflecting and sharing my journey on this blog.

Over the past few weeks my training has begun to ramp up. I doubled the furthest mileage I had gone on a bike last weekend, ramping up to 71 miles, and tomorrow I am jumping yet again. I am riding 100 miles with some friends - my first century of the year, and second ever bike ride of that distance!

I am going to write another post soon about both some of the things that I have been struggling with right now with training and some of the things I have been most proud of. However, today I wanted to open up a little about another important aspect of healthy living overall and the topic that this entire blog was originally founded on, before the days of me ever even running a 5K, and that is food and eating.

As winter dragged on, I found myself so much looking forward to the warmer weather and outdoor bike rides with my friends. However, one aspect of that I had been beginning to dread, was pulling out my triathlon and cycling kits from last season and squeezing back into to tight shorts, lycra (or whatever this stuff is made of), and no ability to hide stomach rolls and excess body fat. Now, I had become very comfortable with this all last season, but throughout the winter my body has changed a bit and I have put on some weight. As happens with a lot of people when you pull out your spring/summer clothing, everything fits a bit snugger and tighter than when you had packed those boxes away.

And while endurance sports has taught me to love and feel comfortable in my body for how strong it is, no matter what the scale says, I have been stressed out about the weight due to the habits that have come along with it. The tighter clothing meant I could no longer deny the weight, which means I could no longer deny the habits, which, for me, could best be described as binge eating. And was something I have felt really out of control with as of late.

I was hesitant about whether or not to really open up on the blog about this, but I thought that by sharing openly, it would help to hold me accountable to the changes I want to make. And in essence, stop the process in its track, because for me, binging also comes along with hiding these habits, the shame around it when it does happen, and discarding evidence to those around me. In addition, I was reminded that - Katelyn, you actually have written about this exact topic on the blog before! This post from May 2013, I literally could have written last week. Almost every word of it. Except now I know to label my habits as falling under "disordered eating" (which is different from having an eating disorder, I should add) and not just eating in secret.

So what exactly does that mean?

For me, binge eating is eating without thinking. It is letting the lizard brain win and giving in whenever I think to myself "I want that" despite another part of my brain telling me no. It is also the shame that goes along with it when I do indulge. Almost always alone, without telling anyone, and hide the evidence before anyone can see the candy bar wrappers in my trash can, the empty box where the donuts once were on my counter, or the empty frozen yogurt container in the backseat of my car. Sometimes I might be with someone when I buy the cookie or the candy or the food - but you won't see me eat it until I am alone (because then I can still leave that doubt in your mind.) It is eating without really enjoying it, feeling satisfied, and often is hidden afterwards, or referenced in a joking way, where in fact, I feel horrible and embarrassed about it.

Now logically, over the past months as I have been feeling out of control, I have *known* the things that I needed to do. And mentally I *wanted* to be doing them. But I haven't been able to get myself to do them. And I didn't know why.

I can pinpoint when these habits started to become an issue, and that was following the holidays and the passing of my grandmother. It continued as I returned to Atlanta and even in the months leading up to my marathon in Albany. Usually when I have a really important to me training goal that I am working on, I am more focused than ever with my diet. I recognized in the moment that the behavior wasn't smart or healthy, but at the same time, I was running 50-60 miles a week and training harder than I ever had in my life. It wasn't showing up on my waistline the binging didn't seem that detrimental to me. It felt like I could get away with going out just to buy the special Groundhog Day donutS (multiple) from the place down the street after seeing them across my Instagram feed. I mean, it was Groundhog Day exclusive donuts... I couldn't pass those up, right?!

I make a joke out of it, but in reality, I ate them alone, at my apartment, not telling anyone it happened, and feeling ashamed about it later.

Healthy eating has always been a balance for me where I have never been so restrictive as to say, "You can never eat a donut!" or completely cutting out pizza, ice cream, candy, and other things that - in reality - I love! I have been incredibly successful in the past with plans like Weight Watchers that don't restrict any foods, or eating the way that I was taught by my nutritionist a couple of years ago. So don't get me wrong in that sense, I think a donut can be okay every now and then as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Especially when exercising to extreme amounts, I think treating now and then is perfectly normal and warranted. But, when they are incorporated into a healthy way, they don't come with that shame and embarrassment and feeling of being out of control.

Lately I have felt out of control and I haven't known what to do. And in the months that have followed Albany Marathon and my training dropped way down and I wasn't burning as many calories... it became really apparent really quickly that I couldn't hide this, and other bad eating habits I have picked up over the past months.

So, last week I met with that same nutritionist. I have joked sometimes I am not sure if I need a nutritionist or a psychiatrist, but I feel lucky that I have found one who I feel I have a little bit of both. Meeting with her, we didn't talk about food. Like, at all. I did show her a log I had started with the food I have been eating, binges included. But I think that was just because I had to admit and come clean to someone what I had been doing.

Instead of talking about food - because I honestly knew the things I *should* have been doing and what works for me, we talked about what might be causing the disordered eating behaviors I had been engaging in. It had been confusing to me and hadn't made sense because I felt like I was happy. I felt like things were going well. But we uncovered and talked through some things that I hadn't necessarily realized I was working through mentally. We discussed things I could do to help manage what I was feeling, stop the binging, change other bad habits I have formed, and ultimately, get myself back to a weight where I felt strongest and most confident.

This was a week ago and it was a scary step for me to make that appointment but I am really glad I did. I set some clear goals for myself in the last week and in the next few weeks and am working away at them. I had some challenging situations to manage through off the get go, with a work trip to San Francisco, which, travel is always challenging for me.

I didn't eat perfectly over the past week by any means - I think I have had a piece of chocolate every single day - but I don't feel guilty about it. I feel in control and determined, and balanced. I feel excited to continue the streak of feeling in control with my eating and I feel a weight off of me a bit that I have opened up about some of these things to people in my life (figuratively, but hopefully literally too.)

Given the fact that I wrote a post extremely similar to this almost exactly five years ago... I'd say that this is something that is going to challenge me for a long time to come. But I feel good knowing that I am strong, I have supportive people in my corner, resources available to me, and a super strong will and determination to keep working at it.

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