Who I am today (part 2)

OK so part 1 was a tough post for me. Having a blog is tricky as there are some things that you don’t feel comfortable talking to the whole world about, but at the same time it’s sometimes important to discuss certain issues however uncomfortable and embarrassing, rather than create a taboo. Part 2 is equally tough but in a different way.

During university I became healthy again both in my body and with my relationship with food. Being relaxed around food makes social occasions and enjoying life in general so much easier, as you can imagine. My relationship with food hasn’t changed. I haven’t regressed to worrying about calories, weight or loss of control. Food is still my friend. Since writing my blog this has been the case. Rest assure that when I show photos of cake, meals and snacks that I’m eating those things and enjoying them.

However I have a keen interest in keeping fit and being healthy. I obviously don’t eat cake every night with abandon. I genuinely enjoy healthy food like salads, vegetables and regularly make ‘sensible’ choices on a daily basis. I choose a handful of nuts as a snack (pistachios being my favourite) rather than a bag of crisps. This is mainly because I know the nuts will be more satisfying and nutritionally sound. When I go to a restaurant and choose a salad from the menu it isn’t because it looks like it’s the lowest calorie option available, it’s because I love salads. And, if you’ve read my blog for a long time, you know I’m likely to order chips on the side or have a Caesar salad which is hardly low calories with that creamy thick dressing!Zippers mealA few years ago I fell in love with running, which wasn’t an issue until I started running a lot more (probably two years ago). I ate well and my weight didn’t change. I’m probably slightly more heavy than I was when I left university at my healthy weight.

But after a while my period stopped again. At this point I was still with Ben. I checked I wasn’t pregnant and was hugely confused. My weight hadn’t dropped – I’m healthy! What’s going on? I went to the doctor (a different one) and explained my issue. They said that as my weight seemed fine (my BMI is in the healthy range) I should go on the pill and it would regulate things back to normal. No problemo.

Long story short, it sort of did, sort of didn’t. I’m ashamed to admit I just ignored the situation. We didn’t want children anytime soon and I knew I was eating properly. I started taking a calcium/vitamin D/magnesium supplement every day just in case and just carried on my merry little way assuming things would eventually become OK.

Ben and me separated and I stopped taking the pill and, well, nothing has changed. It’s funny (well, no it’s not obviously) but when a couple of my favourite bloggers openly discussed their previous problems with this area I didn’t apply it to myself at all. My head was firmly in the sand.

As a runner, injuries are the bane of my training. I’ve somehow mastered to get over half a year with no injuries and I’m over the moon. But in the back of my mind I know I’m walking a tightrope as by not having the proper hormones going on I’m in big danger of stress fractures as my bones might be too weak. Every time someone even mentions stress fractures, or I read about them in magazines or on blogs, I feel sick. It scares the hell out of me.

Taking my head out of the sand, I know this IS NOT NORMAL. I’m pretty sure it’s because I run too much for the weight I’m at. My body was fine at this weight for living life but adding in 30 miles of running a week (and my gym visits) has clearly stressed it out. It’s too busy keeping me running than worrying about ‘pesky’ hormones.

But I can’t give up running. Not yet. It’s a lifeline for me right now. Instead, I’m going to try and put on more weight. More calories = more weight which means (hopefully) kicking my body into gear with more hormones = healthy bones. I won’t lie, it sucks. I like the way I look and no girl really wants to be told she needs to put on weight. But I love running more and knowing how good running feels without being injured only heightens my resolve.

It’s going to be tough. I already eat a lot through the day – it’s not like I miss out meals or go to bed hungry. I’m a three meals plus regular snacks kinda girl! It’s frustrating because I do feel like I eat enough and I don’t count calories or actively maintain a certain weight. That said, I do know where my problem areas are though. I struggle with eating enough on long run days, often only having two meals as I just don’t fancy more and I don’t really eat more on days I exercise compared to days I don’t. Perhaps I think I’m eating lots but in reality for the exercise I do, I’m not. But I have strategies to master this! I know I can add more calories into my diet without necessarily stuffing myself silly every day. My plan:

(I will just add that I know I could eat cake every day – and God knows I really want to – but I need to do this in a fairly healthy way that will also be beneficial to sustaining good running).

  • Switch almond milk to semi-skimmed milk (more protein, more fat)
  • Switch my daily low-fat Greek yogurt to full-fat
  • Eat more nuts
  • Eat more avocados
  • Eat more oily fish
  • Use more coconut oil
  • Face plant a cake every night

I’ve heard that increasing your fat intake helps regulate hormones which is why there’s a lot more fat there and when I looked at what I normally eat I saw, apart from meat (which I don’t eat all the time), I don’t really eat that much fat at all.

I’m not going to go crazy and I want to do this fairly slowly (otherwise I’ll probably freak out – what girl wouldn’t?). I’ll aim for 5-7 pounds at first and see where that gets me. When I told my mum she said (amongst many other helpful and supportive things), “yep, you definitely need more meat on you”. Point taken, mums know best.

So there we go. However embarrassing these two post have been, I wanted to be honest and wanted to make myself accountable. Though I’m in a great place with food, I’m not perfect and I’m certainly not immune to feeling fat and thinking I look fat at times. This is obviously only going to increase. But it’s got to be done if I want to run healthy and for years to come.

I’m by no means an expert in this area nor do I know lots about food and nutrition so this is very much my own deductions and judgements. Any advice is always welcome.

Do you struggle to refuel properly after long runs?

Have you had any experience in this area?