from Stowed Thoughts
Back at the blogging. I botched January & February– actually let’s ‘chose to adapt,’ that is better language– deciding that one post every quarter was a more attainable goal. Language, Language, Language. The way you talk to yourself SERIOUSLY impacts personal peace, self compassion and contentment. But…. that is a talk for another time.
My last post was about being transparent in the process, regardless of how hard it is to do so. It is uncomfortable to be vulnerable with people. But, I have often times found strength in vulnerability, and a deep connection and respect for those who exhibit these character traits. So here we go.
When I chose to take on another season of training competitively and competing to qualify for the 2017 US Championships, I started by sitting down with my new coach to align and get on the same page. He asked me a few simple questions.
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What does it take to do that? (Time to qualify, place to make final, past results etc.)
- What 3 things held you back from achieving your goals in 2016?
Simple, tangible questions. Questions lead to reflection. Reflection leads to self awareness, self awareness leads to growth. Growth is, always has been and always will be, my goal. I believe learning and adopting a growth mindset is one of the greatest gifts that running has given me. Running success and good stewardship of the gift that it is, has been has given me the love and endurance to embrace growth. Often we can learn what we need, or what works, by learning what doesn’t. Reflection on ‘failure’ is essential.
The number one thing that held me back in 2016 was my weight. Yes, a runner touching on the weight topic, I am sorry. I haven’t wanted to broach this topic because it just seems too cliche, but it is also the reality and reality is to be embraced not avoided.
My story and relationship with food became one of dependency, not avoidance. I have always said ‘I don’t think I’ll ever develop disordered eating, I love food too much…’
But in one of the most stressful times of my life to date, I found myself leaning emotionally on the comfort of that love. I don’t believe I had a disorder by any means, but I definitely was emotionally eating to cope. And supposedly I’m not alone as approximately 2 million Americans identify with tendencies of emotional & binge eating. (http://www.waldencenter.org/popular-searches/emotional-eating/)
I got stuck in a cycle. This cycle was more than just a bad habit of coping with stress, it had become an ingrained dependency at the chemical level.
What happened was this:
(doctor friends, feel free to correct any research I may have misinterpreted)
Increased Cortisol ***hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism***
Increase in cortisol leads to an increases in serotonin transporters. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12467090)
Carbohydrates kick start chemical reactions that spur Serotonin release. Because Serotonin transporters are open and active, they are calling for something to uptake.
“Carbohydrates set off a series of chemical reactions that ultimately lead to a boost in brain serotonin,” says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., the former director of the Research Program in Women’s Health at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Clinical Research Center. The higher the levels of serotonin, the more content you feel (at least temporarily).
[Cue me eating a whole lot of whatever was/is available…]
[Result] Temporary contentment. Then.
Discontentment & Shaming. Repeat.
Weight Gain. Poor performance.
Repeat. On and on and on.
Anyway. Small science lesson over. Back to real life. For me this cycle had to be broken and it needed to start with decreasing my perception and interaction with stress. This is a constant area that I set and reset intention with. I by no means, have it fully figured out, as I hit the Peanut Butter jar last night… but what has helped me be able to even approach the topic has been learning this little bit of science behind it.
Knowing that at some point this cycle turned into a chemical dependency that my body has leaned on to ultimately protect my long term health, helping to provide a balance at the chemical level. This has provided a way to explain the challenge I’ve been facing in a non personal way, and to some degree take the emotion out of it.
I am not saying to just justify and render yourself the victim. What I am saying is that it can be helpful to know that if you’re experiencing these types of cravings/interactions with food it may not just be you showing weakness and and inability to exhibit self control.
It may be, that at a cellular level your body has adapted to the cycle.
The encouragement I have for you is this. Our bodies are WILD, I sit in wonder of this often. We were created, knit together so intricately, designed so precisely… it’s mindblowing. So, you can take this on, break the cycle, and reset your body from a cellular level, by approaching your diet in a different way.
[I personally took on this 3 week cleanse written by a friend and found it to be incredibly beneficial, thinking of it somewhat of a kick start. Gem’s approach is one rooted in self-compassion, and to be honest I think this was the most impactful portion of the cleanse to me- the addition of juicing was also HUGE. Check out Gemma’s goodness at this link—Gratitude Cleanse]
Alright, so there is that. I put it out there. I have been struggling with this for a good while, and no doubt will continue to. That said I have felt that the next big step for me to fully overcome this and throw a wrench in the chain, was to be vulnerable and share how hard it has been and what I have learned in the process.
I deeply desire to do well this Spring season, and as this weight challenge was identified as an area of opportunity for growth- the intention is to take it on. If you’re looking for a way to support this journey from afar, I’ll say, hit me with some prayer, meditation, intention, good vibes for this area of training specifically. It has been a battle, and I welcome some reinforcements.
With much love. Ad Astra.