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?

20 Replies to “Who I am today (part 2)”

  1. Running more definitely does things to your hormones (I’ve been tracking mine as part of a study across a year. I’ve kicked into marathon training, and I can say that this last two months, if I’m ovulating at all, it’s late…The nice ladies at the study suggest chocolate, cake, cheese, peanut butter and bacon. I suspect some of that was tongue in cheek. Particularly the excitement about Easter Eggs in April). Those rice cakes with chocolate on them are da bomb, though.

    It’s really hard to eat enough, particularly after a long run (I failed on Sunday). I’ve been using the LiveStrong app to see what I’m getting in, each day, and balancing that out against the running. It’s rare that I manage to hit the target. I’m usually off by about 100-500 calories. I could do better! I have full fat everything (other than cola. Don’t like the taste!). It’s way more filling.

    I made the mistake of weighing myself at Boots and playing with their fat calculator. It has to have been off (or I was dehydrated). I can’t be 11.8% fat – I ought to have at least twice that. N weighed himself on a similar machine: it told him he was 33% fat…heaven only knows where. Do not the route of fat-calculator-scales go. It only leads to heartache.

    The best bit about gaining some fat: cleavage improvements (or is that just me?)
    Jane in London recently posted…ShoesMy Profile

  2. First up, it can’t be easy sharing this, so well done. At least you have a plan, and hopefully it will work for you. I would however be cautious about too many dairy products- I have been reading more and more studies about how milk is not good for bones, because of the acidity of it (whereas I think yoghurt and other fermented products are OK)- in countries where they eat little/ no dairy products (eg Japan) women have less fractures than they do in countries where dairy products are consumed at high levels. I know this could be down to other things, but I would tend to lean towards other sources of fat (like nuts and seeds). Have you ever tried coconut oil in porridge? I got a free sample from Ocado of a porridge mix (the name escapes me) but it had coconut oil in there too- I thought it would be weird, but it was really nice (although I love peanut butter in my porridge and I know you are not keen on that)- perhaps worth a try as you have porridge anyway?
    Secondly, doctors really need to sort this out. Your issue is common amongst so many young women- and the pill just masks the symptoms, it doesn’t get to the root of why periods have stopped. I am not bashing the pill- it is there for a reason, and for some people with extremely heavy periods, it does help with that sort of thing too. But to just have hormones to make you have a period, when the periods on the pill are not “real” ones (well, depending on which hormones I think) is just silly. One of my friends was diagnosed with PCOS recently, after being given the pill to regulate her periods when she was a teenager. Really, that should have been investigated back then, to find out why they were not regular, but it is obviously easier, and cheaper, so just say “take this every day and the symptoms will go”.
    Thirdly- yes, running does suppress my appetite to a point- I found the first time I trained for a marathon, the mid length runs (10-15 miles) left me feeling not hungry, but any longer runs I would get an awful energy crash and then nothing I ate would make me feel better. Although back then I was calorie counting so on long run days I would have stupid amounts to eat, and on rest days I would have 1,200 which isn’t much. This time I was more sensible and ate more evenly during the week- eating more than I needed on rest days (well, more than the 1,200), so that I was fueled ready before the long run, and so that I didn’t have to eat so much after. Also (and this isn’t such a problem for you) because my long runs took so many hours (4 hours) I would miss a meal because of running out of time basically.
    Finally, you lare a very slim person indeed, so although perhaps the 5-7lbs sounds daunting, you will still be very slim, and hopefully much healthier too. Good luck.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…A Golden Gate parkrunMy Profile

    1. Your point about milk has been taken on board! I’ve found goat’s milk seems to be better – less acidic and better for you apparently. It’s just an easier way to hike up calories and fat by switching milk. All the non-dairy milks seem to be very low in protein, fat and calories.
      Yep I’m far more cautious of the pill now and messing around with my hormones. My mum (a nurse) was outraged and wanted to march me into the doctors herself to say they needed to do better. Bless her. I will NOT be allowing her to do that!!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Gel Glorify and Luminus – Pound The Road, Not Your FeetMy Profile

  3. This will probably be short because I’m going to have to second everything Maria said (seriously, she gives the best advice)…particularly regarding the pill (sorry, but most docs are idiots for prescribing it in so many inappropriate situations) and dairy consumption. I’m glad Maria said it, because otherwise it would seem like vegan bias coming from me. Dairy does *nothing* for bone health and if anything it’s detrimental to it.

    I would say to also try to cut down on fibre a bit, because you do eat so many veggies and while that’s good, it makes fitting in other food a bit difficult! Obviously I’m the only one here who has NO problem eating enough and actually struggles with quite the reverse. I can put away over 3-4000 calories easily and that’s not even while bingeing. Exercise doesn’t make me any more or less hungry either.

    Also, as Maria said, 5-7lbs is nothing on you. You could gain 20lbs and still be lean and slim. More food/weight isn’t always a solution sadly, but it’s a good starting point. Some people do have to give up exercise completely for a while and then slowly reintroduce it because it’s the only way to get their bodies to funtion properly. I’m sure this won’t be the case with you, but if it should happen then just know it’s a very short term sacrifice for long-term benefit.
    Jess recently posted…So Many SetbacksMy Profile

    1. I’d never think you were “vegan bias” don’t worry! But I’ve taken Maria’s and your advice and opted instead for goat’s milk. Still dairy but apparently better than cow’s milk (and a level of fat, protein and calcium).
      Fair point about the fibre! Eating half an avocado with dinner rather than a mound of broccoli is probably the way forward and swapping an apple for almonds as well – baby steps!
      Yeah I know stopping running would be the best way forward…I just can’t stop right now. When the marathon is over I can cut back a bit (Jeeze I sound like such an addict, which I suppose I am!) but for the moment I’m just going to see how the increased calories and fat works out…I know this might be foolish.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Gel Glorify and Luminus – Pound The Road, Not Your FeetMy Profile

  4. Totally agree re the 5-7lbs being nothing – you won’t even notice it! And you always look amazing, so will continue to do so!
    In my experience, gaining weight had a positive impact on my running. When I had better reserves my body ran better than when I was lighter.
    I too worry about bone density. I had a stress fracture in my right tibia, and always worry about it coming back. I was prescribed calcium and vit d tablets by my doctor to take while I was gaining weight. Read up on Female Athlete Triad – characterised by low weight, amenorrhea and low bone density. There is some good advice re this online.xxxx

    1. Thanks, Karen.
      Maybe it will help my running, maybe it won’t – who knows! I don’t really mind if it adds 30 seconds onto my 5k or whatever really. I think at this point I’m more concerned with the longevity of my running career more than the quality of times if that makes sense? Yes there’s a “racing weight” which gives the ideal performance but for someone so amateur as myself it really has no consequence!
      I’ve been taking the calcium tablets with vit D for a while now and I’m really hoping that’s helped…I didn’t know you had a stress fracture 🙁 It’s my biggest fear. I literally think any twinge in my calf is a stress fracture, which I know is a bit paranoid!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Gel Glorify and Luminus – Pound The Road, Not Your FeetMy Profile

  5. I’ve definitely experienced period problems in the past, when I was at my lowest weight I didn’t have a period for 6 months, which was an eye opener that I needed to sort myself out, and start nourishing my body. I have also had issues with missing periods when I’m training heavily, although this has become less and less of an issue since my weight has increased. I currently weigh about 2st more than I did when I had the issues, and although I have days where I really struggle with this, ultimately I know that I’m putting my health first, and my body is functioning as it should be. Best of luck with it. Also absolutely agreeing about the dairy products as mentioned above- I have a post coming up about plant based calcium sources, so look out for that. I would maybe track your intake for a day on a tracker like my fitness pal as although you may think you eat a lot, you may be eating a lot less than you need. Increasing the fat, and eating little and often would be my recommendation: avocados, coconut oil, nut butters, nuts/seeds, unrefined oils, and possibly just increasing portion sizes ie. bigger servings of oatmeal.
    Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) recently posted…Fitness First: 1 Year to RioMy Profile

  6. Again, big props for sharing. I lost my period for a very short amount of time when I went lightweight for rowing at uni. At the time I too thought nothing of it, it wasn’t something I really worried about back then. Now I’m comparatively ‘bigger’ but have the best relationship I’ve ever had with my body as I know it’s healthy for me.
    I know what you mean about eating more on long run days, I’m very new to these but have already noticed that I feel a bit ‘meh’ about food on those days, though I do often have a big appetite the day after which I try to listen too.
    Wishing you so much love and you’ve got lots of ears here if you need to chat! Xxx
    Pip {Cherries & Chisme} recently posted…How to be your friend’s personal tour guide in LondonMy Profile

  7. I really hate how quick doctors are at prescribing the pill and not dealing with what it is actually going on. Several of the children in my form at school last year were on the pill for various issues and it cannot be that great as a thirteen year old to be filling your body with hormones it’s probably not yet sure how to deal with.
    My severe migraines last year were put down to the pill I was on. I collapsed a few times and there were a couple of days where I had to go straight to bed after work as my head hurt so badly. They changed my pill so that I now take a daily one but this also means I do not have a period. A lovely side effect to begin with but now I have no knowledge if my body is working properly and have since discussed coming off it completely.
    Perhaps you could try a week of counting calories – not just calories but protein and fats, etc, as well to see if there is any area you are falling short? Us females are supposed to be consuming much more fat than the guys so I think you have a good action plan set up. Hopefully, with gradual introduction your body will begin to function as it should once more and you will remain injury free! 🙂
    Mary recently posted…Come help me marshal!My Profile

    1. I just don’t think people understand enough about the pill really. Such a big change for the body, especially at a young age.
      I did what you said using MyFitnessPal and it was quite an eye opener to see. While I felt like I was eating enough, the numbers didn’t add up which makes this situation now not that surprising! And my fat consumption was barely anything. This has been duly rectified!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Gel Glorify and Luminus – Pound The Road, Not Your FeetMy Profile

  8. Thanks for sharing. I’ve not had a period in over 10 years, because I’m on the contraceptive injection. I don’t know if that puts me at risk of stress fractures- I’ve never really given it much thought to be honest. Maybe I am also burying my head in the sand a bit too.
    I’d suggest you go back to the doctors. They should be able to help you find the reason behind this- it’s not necessarily due to your weight.
    Lucy recently posted…InjuryMy Profile

    1. Very true, Lucy. I have every intention of visiting the doctors again if after a few weeks (or possibly months) of eating more (and more fat specifically) and gaining more weight does nothing. I don’t want to turn up there for them to then say “yeah you should try and gain weight and see what happens”. When I go back, I’m going back guns blazing 😉
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Gel Glorify and Luminus – Pound The Road, Not Your FeetMy Profile

  9. This seems to be a not so uncommon issue for women who exercise on a daily basis and I’m sure your post is very helpful and useful as many don’t want to talk about issues like that. I myself have never had a problem with it since I’m always carrying some extra padding around 🙂 I agree with everyone else who commented about the pill though – it’s way to easily prescribed. I stopped messing my body around with artificial hormones several years ago.
    MrsB recently posted…The week of hellDOMSMy Profile

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