Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Food. How did I get here? The sum of the parts.

One day, a really long time ago, around the time I was in first grade, I, a totally normal sized kid, looked down at my leg on a school desk chair and saw what I now know is normal 'spread' of my thigh.  I raised and lowered my leg and saw that it was 'fat' when down and suddenly, something clicked in me.

From that point on, my eating started to get out of control.  Between the ages of 7 and 8,  I gained 20 pounds and the pediatrician blasted me at my well child appointment.  Or maybe he didn't and it just felt that way but I was so shameful.  And I had no idea what to do about it. I mean, stop eating, ok, but how?

In any case, the years have taken me through Optifast, through Weight Watchers, Diet Centre, Nutri something,  that one with the food packages (you should have seen the 'kosher' menu!) Overeaters Anonymous and every other diet imaginable.  I know a lot about nutrition.

If I was a drunk, I would be one of those bowery bum types.  A street drunk who has lost everything.  In OA, I was able to follow a food plan for a year and a half but my compulsion with food is so strong that I was using 20 hours a day to stay on plan and I sucked as a wife, mother and friend. I was absent in so many ways, that it was sort of disturbing.  Added to that, the sponsorship thing really, painfully failed me, and you have a colossal rebound which cost me a 90 pound weight gain.  It's true that I wasn't willing to do what I needed to do, but it's also true that being in OA burned me worse than anything else in my life every had.  I don't want to go into detail.  You can ask me privately if you want. I will say that the 12 steps themselves, in particular 1-10 are the best things I ever came across and they have improved my life in countless ways, even if I am actively in the programme.  All these years after my OA debacle, I still do a tenth step throughout my day if I need to.  it keeps me sane.

I saw nutritionists who never seemed to know anything about my addiction or wanted to teach me calorie counts and such but never seemed to understand that if I was going to follow a plan at all, well, I couldn't.  Doing something about my lack of control and food started to  trigger me into doing  worse than I was before, then ending in binge eating unless I could give up my whole life and focus only on staying on plan, which with small children and a husband was clearly untenable.  I'm not saying its like that for everyone, but it is for me.

For a number of years after OA, I went about my business and felt generally hopeless that I would ever be able to lose weight or enjoy a healthy relationship with food.  One day, about 4 years ago, I had a sleep study done and the doctor, who was a great guy, expressed his concern to me that I was morbidly obese, but still had plenty of energy and he was worried that I would cross the line to where the fat/muscle ratio would put me at a place where I was unable to move at all.

He referred me to a Doctor at an anxiety clinic.  At first I thought maybe that might be the accountability I was looking for but in fact, they started treating the parts of me that were chemically out of line.  I had done a lot of behaviour mod and here was the leftover part that mod could not get to.  It was then, that my weight stabilized for the first time in my life since I was 6.  For a number of years now, I have been re-wearing clothing year after year and have even known the joy of donating something when I am sick of it!  What a miracle! I am a compulsive overweigher as well, so my only real way of knowing my weight is by how clothing fits.

Last fall, I had a check up and blood tests. All my bloods were good except one that was slightly elevated- My triglycerides. I had been considering seeing if there was a way to improve my food intake for training so that I could improve my time and start eating to fuel myself instead of eating uselessly.  The doc won't treat with meds before attempting food changes, so I signed up for the practice's dietician.

God bless her, she listened.  She gave me some basic knowledge and sent me off with one instruction.  Try to avoid simple carbs (or at least combine them with higher fiber items if they had to be eaten) and to try and be mindful of what I was eating.  Nothing else.  Just a place to start.

Remarkably, I have been more mindful and that is not to say I have been perfect.  Remember, there is no perfect, because I just have to be mindful.  We met again and we were just touching base and getting to know each other but decided not to change anything pre race since it was best to not change things right before a race.

When I returned from Miami, we had another sit down.  This time, my take away was that I needed to eat breakfast within two hours of waking up and then eat every three to four hours after that for as long as I was awake.  No food plan, just lets see what works.  Write down my food, take notes, see if the mindfulness that I have is helpful in any way.  Look for insights into those brutal feelings that I did something wrong and figure out why it was wrong even if it wasn't another time.  It's been two days and I have been keeping records and sending them to her.  Its all about experimenting to see what I really need to eat to be fueled well and also not contributing to my trigyceride issue.  I can't believe it but I feel hopeful again!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

ARE YOU READY? We are going to start recruiting for TEAM CANADA on TEAM YACHAD next year!!!

Marc and I were talking about what an amazing experience this was, and we think everyone should have this amazing thing happen to them!

My signing up for Team Yachad was a truly life changing event.  If you 'know' me, you know why, and I will just add that to further exemplify this change, I have a pair of snowshoes ready to go for some outdoor activity tomorrow now that I have had a week to recover from the Marathon!

Being in Miami with so many different people, learning so much about what Yachad is about and its services, was incredible for me.  I feel passionately about getting the word out and I plan on making my goal this year to increase the size of Team Yachad via increasing the number of runners from Canada!

Sarah K, Marc and I are all in agreement that we need to spread the word and make sure that we shout it from the rooftops.  We hope to include people from our home town, Hamilton and also Toronto, which is nearby.  If we get lucky and can go beyond that, great too!

And I will tell you what... if you don't want to do it because you are afraid you can't, well, I think I am going to walk with you next year.  So let me know.  Because if I can do it, YOU can do it!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Insane turned out to be pretty true after all. Debrief of the Miami Marathon. A difficult race for me, but you bet I am glad I tried it.

So, I always kind of assumed that this race would go well and that this blog post would be one big sunshiny one.  Except man plans and God laughs. Nothing like a little asthma and  a whole lot of humidity and neuropathy to throw a monkey wrench into your plan to be queen of the Miami Marathon!

I realized as soon as we got off the plane last Wednesday morning that the humidity is one of the things I completely never anticipated.  And although there was pouring rain that day, heat and humidity are killers for me.  I LOVE the desert.  Give me Eilat or Las Vegas where it can be 115F and I never feel wet or sloggy.  Miami this week is hugely sloggy.

From the beginning, our coaches, Jaz, Cara, Yoav and James, all made serious suggestions about how to best prepare for a marathon in heat like this.  They suggested ingesting salt packs (for those of us who don't 'do' gatorade and of course drinking lots of fluids as well as ingesting extra calories and carbs (carbs, I knew about but calories specifically, I had no idea- because our bodies burn more calories trying to stay cool we need to provide more- even those who , like me have plenty to spare in fat stores.)

So the good news is that I was well hydrated, carb loaded and ate a good, solid breakfast this time.  We got on the bus to the start line and had another team pic and then off to the corrals, where they put you according to the time they expect you to complete the race.

Our group did not get started until about 45 minutes after the starting gun.  For some reason this did not occur to me as a possibility so i was essentially blind with regard to knowing how long I had been walking or how far. I love my runkeeper but it does not work without GPS and we don't have data down here.

In any case, I had a terrible time breathing from the start.  I was really trying to walk 'slowly' but felt like I was running a marathon, so to speak. And the whole race continued like that.  Worse, in the time between the starting gun and the time corral "I" left, the sun had come up and it was instant hot and humid on the course.

By mile 4, I was DYING. My breathing was totally out of control and trying to control it meant making me dizzy... I was so far behind and really getting very dejected. They were shutting down the course ahead of me as I  walked and at some point the pick up bus at the back of the line told me that I was two miles behind pace and they were going ahead so please walk on the sidewalk because the race course was shutting down!  

An incredible lady who was a spectator cheering us on saw how upset I was and decided to join me for a walk.  Carol is a most gracious lady and insisted that "I" was doing her a favour  because she wanted to go for a nice long walk but was not motivated to until I showed up!  She walked 5 miles with me!  What a lovely and accomplished woman!  Together we endured the shutting down of the race course (yes, I was going that slowly) and a wicked storm that blew up around mile six and lasted till about mile nine.  Mind you getting totaly soaked like that was very cooling but it also made for quite heavy clothing and a wet iphone.

I walked /stopped often - my neuropathy flared up and I was still having breathing trouble.  Thankfully Coach Yoav showed up somewhere around mile ten (the course was completely taken down by then) and joined me.  It was hot and sunny and still humid again and the whole thing was becoming just unbearable.  I have to tell you that if he had not shown up, I absolutely would not have finished.  As it was we walked together and I dealt with my breathlessness/back issues and we lost the trail at some point but somehow made it back to the finish line although we hit it at a pedestrian point and had to show the police officer my bib to even get him to let us in (since it was a crossing for pedestrians.)

Still, after it all, I did finish.  I finished and while I actually think that the right thing to do would have been to quit. As soon as I finished, I grabbed some water bottles and headed for the medical tent because honestly, after how badly the race went and the inability for me to catch my breath, I was kind of worried I would drop dead or something.  It turned out that the blood pressure and breathing were back to normal quickly but I was tachycardic, which means my heart was racing, even ten minutes after sitting in the tent.  I don't know why, and today, I seem fine but that must have been going on all afternoon.  So insanely, I did finish.

Weirdly it does not particularly feel like much of an accomplishment.  It took me an hour and 45 minutes longer than the Road to Hope and I hated almost all of it. (after further consideration, I actually consider it miraculous that I finished at all and that it was a MAJOR accomplishment in so many adverse conditions!  My husband finished in exactly the same time he finished the Road to Hope half, so it really was me and my reaction to the heat, neuropathy and asthma!

The accomplished feeling TOTALLY comes from having done this marathon with TEAM YACHAD! (and honestly, whether I finished or not, I still did that!)  And the great thing is that even though I am pretty sure I would not want to do this particular marathon again (due to the asthma and likely weather conditions), I am THRILLED that I want to keep doing timed races of all descriptions!

This whole thing has been such a learning experience for me and the discoveries I have made about myself are endless!  I even love the debrief process about races.  I know it might sort of sound like complaining but actually, its really just a process of learning and analyzing.

Also, a cool new thing is that you can support Team Yachad in any Marathon you run in!  I believe that I will dedicate my 2015 Road to Hope Marathon to fundraising for Team Yachad!

I also just want to add that BOTH of my children were inspired by the weekend to run it next year and that my husband will happily complete it again!  So, net gain +2!  Running room lessons, here we come!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I can't believe it's over....Post Team Yachad debrief

Friday, we checked into the hotel where Team Yachad was staying.  Team Yachad staff had put together our race kits in nice backpacks and provided us with our shirts to wear at the race, a headband and either a hair clip or a kipah.  There were also bags from filled with water, food and treats.  Junees is a huge sponsor of Team Yachad and they have been for years.  They deserve huge props.

We settled into our room and went for a swim. We then  went back to get ready for Shabbat.  Services were very nice with Sam leading -He had amazing sincerity (kavana) and a beautiful voice.  After  services we had a lovely dinner.  We sat with the coaches, as well as Susie and Shabsa, a couple from Chicago.  It was a super table and we actually repeated it at every meal!

Yachad has serious spirit! (ruach) and it was not lost on me that the ruckus kicked up by so many high school students standing in their chairs and singing added so much to my shabbat experience!

Shabbat morning we slept in, but lunch was again lovely and that amazing ruach(spirit) was still there.  At all the meals, there were speakers (including yours truly) and they were incredibly inspiring!

After a beautiful end to shabbat that reminded me a lot of our shul at home, we all went to get into our team colours for photos and the carb loading meal.  I don't know about you but I can't imagine herding so many people (over 200!) into a group pic!

This morning we woke up at 3 am, had breakfast and went off to the race, which I am going to address in my next blog post!  Upon our return there was a victory lunch and thank you speeches as well as presentation of certificates and then most of us retired to the pool and ocean to cool our hot muscles and try to recover!  Tonight a super bowl party (although sort of sad because we had already lost some of our crew to their flights home!)

I have never felt so appreciated and warmly welcomed.  Yachad KNOWS how important each runner and each supporter is and we were truly treated as such!