Struggling to find the Healthy Balance

This is going to get weird. And by weird, I mean personal.

I just read this blog post by Monique at Ambitious Kitchen about finding a definition for “being healthy.” I’ve read countless similar posts, all ending in the same conclusion: being healthy is about “balance” and “listening to your body.” You know, eat salads most of the time, but eat a burger or the cookie when you’re craving it. Exercise, but don’t overdo it. I love the message, but I struggle with taking it to heart. In all honesty: I don’t know how to find my balance, and I am scared to try to find it. 

One of the first posts I ever wrote was about how I can’t track my calories/macros/whatever on things like My Fitness Pal because I get obsessive. Recently, I’ve been super into finding the balance. I desperately want to attain this picture of “balanced health.” Of being the person who eats intuitively, has no shame in choosing the burger or the salad, and will eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m done. I’ve read most of Intuitive Eating, and the authors advocate for people to completely give into their cravings, allowing themselves to eat cookies for breakfast if that’s what they so please, while honoring their hunger, and eventually things will work themselves out and a more nutritionally balanced diet is achieved.  Through following the intuitive eating principles, I’ll be at my natural weight, my body will want nutritious foods, and I will find “food freedom.”

The thing is, I’m scared to take the leap. I’m scared to lose control of what I am eating. I don’t trust that I will eventually even out. I am scared that my natural size is bigger than what I am now. I don’t want to buy new pants, nor do I want to gain weight. Every time I begin to relinquish control and I try to begin my intuitive eating journey, I freak. I start over-correcting and only eating healthy foods again, or turn to that darn My Fitness Pal to start counting macros or something. I honestly do love a good salad, so I just tell myself that’s what I want all the time after a weekend of pizza and beer or whatever. I’m also worried that my weird restrictive tendencies have left me with a lack of self-knowledge about my hunger levels.

Anyway, why am I even writing about this? Well, I need to get my thoughts out. I want to live this balanced life, I want to have “food freedom,” and I want to see if there are others who struggle with this or have any advice. I find the blog posts and articles about finding this illusive “balance” so powerful and inspiring, yet I cannot bring myself to embark on this journey. I know it will require work. I know I will probably gain a couple pounds. At the moment, I stand at 5’8-9ish (jury is still out on the real number), and I am around 125 pounds, which, according to that dingy old BMI standard is normal. But we all know BMI is pretty lame. Also, and this may be a little TMI, I haven’t gotten my period since going off birth control in January, and I’m a little freaked about amenorreah. Thus, I realize I will probably gain a few pounds in this journey, and I have to be okay with that. I tell people all the time that the scale has no bearing on their self worth, yet I cant bring myself to believe that.

Additionally, I begin marathon training soon. I want to be able to fuel my body properly for that. I do not want to lose steam because I am not eating enough. I have read enough blogs to know that my appetite is going to increase, and I want to be in the right mind-space to honor my larger appetite. Not just during marathon training, but after as well.

Basically, this is where I’m at now. I want to find balance, I want to get over my food issues, I am just afraid of what could happen. I’m sure this is a metaphor for my life, TBH. I’m an anxious person. I don’t take risks because I fear the negative consequences. I like having control, and letting go of some sort of control on my eating scares me. I have to trust that things will work out, that my body knows more than my mind does. I think I need to start this now. School is over, I am just going to be working all the time (your girl has gotta make dat paper) and taking a couple classes this summer, so I might as well make my ultimate summer goal to be to find the balance. Maybe I won’t completely attain it, but at least get closer to it. Stop shaming myself for eating “bad” foods. Stop even ascribing labels to food. Just be neutral. Food is food.

Thank you, lovely human, for reading this long, rambly post. I appreciate you. If you have any advice on where I should start, or feel like you’re in a similar situation, or have been in a similar situation, or just want to say hi, please do! I’m sure I will be interspersing posts about this stuff throughout the summer (yes, I am going to post regularly this summer…another goal of mine), and I welcome any help or kind words.

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I just felt like this pic of me eating a sandwich on top of a mountain fit well here

Other things that have inspired this post:

  • Cassey Ho’s (aka Blogilates) “How I healed from Metabolic Damage” video. (Full disclosure…I started tearing up while watching this…yup.)
  • The Real-Life RD’s blog. Robyn is an RD with a “more food” and “finding balance” approach that I really admire. I especially appreciate her WIAW posts.
  • Maddy Moon’s blog. This girl went from othrorexic fitness model to a beacon of food freedom hope. Super positive.
  • Fannetastic Food’s (and company, I just am a reader of Anne’s blog) new Joyful Eating program, which focuses on helping clients learn how to eat intuitively and find the joy, rather than the anxiety, that food brings. I am a strong believer in food being something that brings people together and is at the heart of a community, so the message really resonates with me. Unfortunately, I am the epitome of a broke ass bitch at the moment, so I don’t think I can actually be a part of the program. However, it is probably a great resource for someone who can afford the program and is in a similar situation as myself.
  • Sweet Tooth Sweet Life’s “How I’ve Changed” post about how she has found more of a balance in the 6 years she’s been blogging.
  • There are literally so many more inspiring posts, these are just what I’ve seen recently.

Again, thank you so much for reading.

-Julie

Linking up with Heather and Jill. Thanks ladies!

Hey, What’s Up, HELLO

I’m baaaaaaaaack 

Okay, but really, apologies for the 8ish month absence. Grad school started and this blog stopped. But you know what they say…absence makes the heart grow fonder. So right now I must be pretty darn fond of Julie and the Universe. Anyway, here’s what’s been happening for the past few months…

  • I ran TWO more half marathons!
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Harborside Half, classic post-race-beer-in-hand Julie.

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Double fisting because I PR-ed.

YUP, the first was the Harborside Half in Newburyport in November. I didn’t really train at all for it (though I typically do a 6-10 mile long run once a week anyway) and just wanted to do one more longer race before going into winter-race hibernation mode. I finished in about 2:09. Not my best, especially considering how flat the course was, but such is life. The second was yesterday, the Earth Run Rock Half Marathon in North Andover. Once again, I did not have a full-out training for this halfie (which I have begun affectionately referring to half marathons as), though I did make sure to build up to a final 12-mile training run over the few weeks leading up to it. My unofficial goal was to break two hours, but since I didn’t do much speed training and would have to break my previous halfie PR (2:07) by 8 minutes, I was not super optimistic. However, my pace has definitely gotten faster between last time I posted and now, so I didn’t think it was entirely impossible. In an effort to break 2 hours, I went out too fast and hit the wall hard at mile 10. Miraculously, I finished in 1 HOUR AND 56 MINUTES!!!!! I think I teared up when I saw the clock as I crossed the finish line. Even more impressive, I thought I was going at a snail’s pace by mile 12, and my slowest mile was still 9:15, which is pretty good in my book. This has also prompted me to finally want to invest in a Garmin or some sort of GPS running clock, please let me know of any suggestions.

  • I also ran a couple other races…

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The top picture was after a St. Patrick’s Day-themed 4-miler in March, and the bottom picture was after a 10k in October. My friend Alex never runs and ran that 10k with me (though she does hike a lot). She finished in like 1:05, which I’d say is pretty impressive for someone who doesn’t run. She’s gifted like that.

  • I went to Utah!
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Casual mountain views on the highway.

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Salt Lake: salty and pretty AF.

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Mountain chillin.

The aforementioned Alex worked at a ski resort in Utah over the winter (and is coming home today!!!!) so I visited in January. Basically, Utah was rad. Everyone is so NICE, which was super weird coming from Massachusetts (land of rude people in a hurry). It was absolutely beautiful. Also, I still can’t ski.

  • I cut my hair.
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I called it my “cool mom cut.”

2016: new me, new hair. I cut it on New Year’s Eve. I was bored with long hair. I go through this cycle every 2 years or so (cut hair…grow hair out…get bored…repeat). It was cute. Unsurprisingly, I’m growing it out now.

  • I am almost done my first year of grad school!

Too real.

In summary: first semester I was super anxious and felt like I had no friends and no business being there. Had a couple breakdowns. Slowly made friends, realized everyone felt overwhelmed, got good grades in the end. Second semester: totally slacking but getting it done. Making better connections with friends. Working at a school as a guidance intern once a week, it’s pretty good. Basically, grad school is a crap ton of work, but you’ll get it done. My final paper of the semester is due on May 13 and I cannot wait to submit it. Let me know if you’d be interested in a more extended grad school post!

  • And finally….I SIGNED UP TO RUN A MARATHON.

Yup, it’s happening.

The reason I really wanted to come back to blogging is to have an outlet to discuss marathon training. You all have super great running advice, and I want to hear it all! My 2015 goal was to run a halfie, which I did (twice…but who’s counting?), and my 2016 goal is to run a…fullie? Okay, we’re gonna scrap that nickname and call it a marathon for now. I am running the Baystate Marathon in October in good ol’ Lowell (where I went to college, Rock the Hawk yo). I don’t start training until June, and I am thinking of following Hal Hingdon’s Novice 2 plan. I’m not entirely sure yet. I want a plan that has no more than 4 days of running because I would like to continue keeping up strength training and yoga, and anything more than 4 days of running just isn’t great for me. I am nervous and excited and unsure of exactly how I’m going to fit in training with grad school, work, and my 3-day-a-week internship. But I’ve always been an act-now-plan-later type of gal, so we shall see what happens!

Anyway, that was a rambly, 8-month catch up post, but that’s where my life is at right now! What’s up with y’all?!

Questions for you lovely humans:

1. Any Garmin/GPS watch recommendations? I love Run Keeper, but I think I am ready for something a little more advanced. I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, but I am willing to invest a bit.

2. Have you gone on any exciting trips recently? If you’re thinking of planning something, might I suggest Utah?

3. Have you run a marathon before? Are you going to run a marathon this year? Any advice?

BYEEEEEEE

Julie