health · nutrition · running · wellness

five things (including thoughts on “plant-based”, new nutrition coaching services, running-ish)

Several weeks later (oops?) here I am again with another ramble on five or so things.

on running injuries and PT
Unfortunately, running in these parts has slowed down considerably because I’ve had a plantar fascitis flare in my right foot. This is not the foot I injured last year, but the previously healthy one. Go figure! I’m trying to be smarter about it this time, even though I ran through a decent amount of pain for about two weeks until my gait was really obviously affected, and take care of this problem once and for all. I went to a new to me sports MD who was great, gave me a cortisone shot and more importantly for the long term, sent me to PT. I’ve never been to PT before for this injury, and I quickly learned that my calves and Achilles are REALLY tight, and my hips week. Therein lies the possible cause of my bilateral PF. So, I’ve got lots of exercises to do and running is happening in short bouts – 25-30 minutes – a few times per week right now. I’ve been spinning and going to yoga a bit, maybe just for my sanity, and just when it doesn’t cause pain. I’m registered for a fall marathon but think that’s pretty much off the table now, which is a huge bummer.

boston marathon girl 🙂 

Training was just started to feel great! But, depending on how things go maybe I can do some shorter stuff, so trying to stay positive about that for now. Do you ever think it would be so much easier to not love running so much?

on new nutrition coaching offerings
I want to try and make ongoing nutrition coaching a more feasible option for clients, because often times we can’t get everything done in one month or even three months. Starting now, you can sign up for monthly coaching at a fixed, reduced rate following a longer, more detailed initial session. Sessions can be purchased in four, six and eight month commitments and we will have regular monthly check-ins via phone or Skype/FaceTime and lots of email support in between, as you need it.This is a great option for marathon training, if you’re struggling with disordered eating patterns and your relationship with food and/or just trying to break up with dieting once and for all. If you’re interested, more details are here, or we can always hop on the phone for a quick 10 minute chat.

on relaxing/sleeping and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
I was talking with my coach, Mary, the other day about the status of my running and one of the things she suggested was to relax, reduce stress and make sure I’m sleeping enough to support injury recovery. Have a cup of tea or glass of wine and chill out.

optimal relaxation in P-town. can I live here please?

The importance of managing stress and prioritizing sleep is something I tell clients and patients all. the. time. But for myself? That’s easy to forget. I’ve consistently been waking up before 5:00 a.m. to take Peanut out before my runs/workouts – she sometimes makes sure I’m up very early by jumping on my back and licking me – and even though I try to be in bed by 9:00 p.m., it’s exhausting. So I’m trying to get better with this, and also with just slowing down. I started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel since I got Amazon Prime for the Whole Foods discounts (nerd emoji), and it’s so funny and the perfect excuse to just chill the eff out for a bit.

on being plant-based
The term “plant-based” gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Strict vegan? Tons of vegetables and fruits only? Is there a caveman component here? While some define plant-based as being a vegan, only plants diet, I do not. Unless you’re doing it for ethical reasons, I don’t think it’s necessary to eschew all animal products in the matter of health, according to all of the research and data we have right now and my clinical experience. Like so many other restrictive diets, veganism can also be a red flag for underlying disordered eating because it’s an easy, socially acceptable way to remove a lot of foods from the diet.

a sandwich full of plants

Anyways, my definition of a plant-based diet is just that – a diet in which the basis is plants, but also includes animal products. For a lot of people looking to make small changes to their eating habits and develop a more plant-based approach, this often means eating a bigger variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, and maybe a little less meat. Going “meatless” for a meal or two per week is a great way to explore a variety of plant foods that are easy to forget about but are just as filling and satisfying as bigger meat portions, like beans, seeds, whole grains. This is one of my favorite meatless meals to date, and this is one of my favorite meaty meals right now. Both fit well in a plant-based diet, are super delicious and satisfying.

Cancer Wellness Expo!
My full time job is at a (really wonderful) breast cancer center, and I work with the most lovely women every day. Taking a holistic approach with my patients is really important – nutrition is a big part of the puzzle, but it goes hand in hand with exercise, sleep, stress and overall wellness (see above!). If you’re local to New York and have been touched by cancer in any way, the Cancer Wellness Expo on September 29 might be something you find so useful and therapeutic. I will be speaking on a wellness panel and can’t wait to talk nutrition, and hopefully help separate the many myths vs. facts when it comes to nutrition and cancer. Join me!

dogs · health · nutrition · running · wellness

friday favorites (running shoes, cookbooks & burgers)

It’s mid-August! How did that happen, exactly? I always fantasize about moving to the Bay area this time of year, when it’s so hot and humid in NYC and my friends across the country in San Francisco are wearing sweaters and talking (bragging?) about Karl the fog. I’ll start to love New York again in the fall, but in the meantime there are a lot of other things I’m loving that make up for the ever-present heat, humidity and triple digit air conditioner-induced electricity bills.

Saucony Rides
The Ride 10s were on a Running Warehouse super sale thanks to the newer edition coming out, and I snagged two pairs (with much restraint to not get a third and fourth pair). I used to work at a running store during my dietetic internship days, and have a pretty good understanding on what shoes work for me – neutral with some cushioning and not a lot of fuss. I’ve worn and liked the Rides, Brooks Launch, Brooks Pure Flow, Asics Cumulus, Mizuno Wave Riders and the Nike Pegasus, and currently my rotation is mostly Launch, Pegasus and now the Rides. Yes, this is borderline hoarder-status, but the Rides! They are a dream. Cushioned but still light, and perfect for longer runs when I want a bit more shock absorption. Big fan. And also pro top, Running Warehouse has the best prices and selection, and I always get the older versions of stuff I like when they go on sale, hence the large shoe collection (probably 14 pairs and counting, yikes).

these are the Ride 9s from last year, and the cutest girl

Run Fast Cook Fast Eat Slow
I swear I’ve been looking forward to Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow since the publishing date was announced in the spring. There are so many recipes in the first book that I LOVE and make on a regular basis because they are so good and satisfying. I am such a big fan of the message Shalane Flanagan (who is running New York again this year!) and Elyse Kopecky have in regards to nourishment and fueling runs appropriately without skimping on fat, carbohydrates and protein. In a world where the trendy diets are almost always vilifying certain foods and taking them away, it’s so refreshing to see the positive impact a book like this has on so many athletes. And I mean, the proof is in the pudding if you take a look at Shalane’s career thus far and how she still continues to kick serious butt.

peanut is a fan too

Burger Friday
Since training started ramping up – I’m aiming for the Philly Marathon this fall – I’ve been craving more chicken, fish and red meat than usual. It’s definitely my body’s way of telling me it needs a bit more right now – protein, iron, etc. I include one of these foods in at least one meal per day, and the other I might have tofu or eggs to mix things up protein-wise.

It’s fairly common for female runners to be anemic – this could be from blood loss secondary to menstruation, inadequate nutrition and/or exercise-induced mechanisms specific to endurance athletes. It’s often a combination of all of these things, and can be a real detriment to running and racing. I’ve actually never been anemic myself, but have clients who struggle with it, and the first thing we look at is their diet. It’s completely possible to obtain adequate iron from plant foods if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, but it’s a lot harder and takes some vigilance. It’s also usually worth a conversation as to why vegetarianism or veganism is important to the individual, and there is often some underlying disordered eating present to work through. While sometimes an iron supplement is necessary, dietary changes are my first line of defense with anemic athletes without other medical issues. I myself have become a fan of self-imposed “burger Fridays” because it’s a great way to stay on top of iron intake and because burgers are delicious and easy to make after a long week.

yum

Favorite iron sources:

  • Red meat (organic, grass fed if possible)
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Turkey
  • Lentils
  • Whole grains
  • Tofu
  • Leafy greens

*pro tip: if having a plant-based iron source, consume it with a vitamin C source to enhance absorption (think bell peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, leafy greens, potatoes)

Vacations
My last real vacation was when I went to Rome in March, and it was awesome. In the past couple of years I’ve tried to prioritize taking time off (I get a very generous number of PTO days at work) and investing in experiences. I’ve never really been on a summer, beach-type vacation before and this year my sister and I proactively booked a house on the beach in Cape Cod for a week. I can’t wait to relax, eat some lobster and see what Peanut thinks of sand and ocean. And run a ton, of course!

nutrition · wellness

dietitian vs. nutritionist vs. health coach (and why it matters!)

A registered dietitian, a nutritionist, trainer, holistic health coach, holistic nutritionist, instagrammer, blogger, person who likes food, nutrition coach… these are not all in the same.

I think I wrote a post like this on my old blog as a very new RD, but it was really snarky and sort of arrogant. I had a lot to learn, and still do! But, this is still a question I get pretty often and the answer is important.

So, what is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
A lot of this answer boils down to education, but also experience. A registered dietitian (RD) has an equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, has to complete a year-long accredited dietetic internship (unpaid, at least partly in a hospital), has to pass a national examination (the RD exam), completes continuing education credits and must abide by a code of ethics. I believe by 2020 or 2022, all RDs will also be required to have a Master’s degree in nutrition (this is the MS, RD title). There are also a variety of advanced specialty certifications like sports nutrition, nutrition support and pediatrics. To give you an idea of how much school and time this takes, I started my second career path to become a dietitian in 2008 and didn’t become an MS, RD until 2013, when I was almost 31. Granted, I had to earn another bachelor’s degree and went part time while working full time for about 3.5-4 of those years, but it’s a big chunk of time (and money) any way you look at it.

peanut went to school too! maybe for longer than some of these folks below…

The titles nutritionist, health coach, holistic health coach, nutrition coach, etc. do not have formal education or training requirements, and require very little time and money, if any, before calling oneself any of the above. Coming from someone who will be paying off student loans until about age 90 and constantly feeling like a career late bloomer, this sounds very appealing and sort of like, duh, why didn’t I just do that?? But! Registered dietitians are the only nutrition professionals allowed to work in a hospital or clinical setting (where I work), and receive all of that education and training for a reason. Understanding the science behind nutrition is crucial, as well as human biology, physiology, how to interpret meaningful research, etc. is really important for complex patients, but is also a crucial knowledge base no matter how or where you plan on practicing.

Cool. So like, how does this work?
One of the defining characteristics of being a dietitian is using evidence-based research and information from reputable, peer-reviewed literature to inform nutrition recommendations. This is the same thing doctors do when determining how to treat a patient – they don’t just pull ideas out of thin air or do what worked for them or their mother’s cousin’s friend. They have to know what has worked in a large patient population, over time, with control groups, etc. in order to form a meaningful treatment plan. And so do dietitians!

from FNCE, aka a Big Dietitian Conference

From what I can gather, folks with these alternative “nutritionist” titles often base recommendations on anecdotal stories (either their own or something they’ve heard or read), fad diets or trends like elimination diets, gluten free, dairy free, ketogenic, paleo, etc., and/or scientific information they completely misunderstand and misinterpret. A lot of times these recommendations come from a place of restriction or taking things away from the diet, which is often a slippery slope when it comes to disordered eating. That’s probably a whole different post, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

As dietitians develop in their career, it’s also common to use that clinical experience – similarities you notice among patients, what worked, what didn’t work, etc. – to inform recommendations. Doctors do this too, and it has been really key for me and how my practice has developed. On the job experience is invaluable.

What dietitians are not (strict law abiding food police)
Even though it’s super frustrating, there is an idea out there that registered dietitians follow a rigid, antiquated set of guidelines, are in bed with the government and big food companies, use mathematical calculations and formulas with all patients and clients and in general don’t think outside the box. This is totally incorrect! There is a time and a place for a lot of math, and it’s usually in complicated, sick patients being fed through tubes or IVs in which exact numbers are needed. There will always be people in any profession who sell out, whether that’s to big food companies, the government or any sort of conflict of interest (like selling supplements or cleanses that you conveniently recommend for most clients), and dietetics is no different. But that’s the minority, I think. It’s also important to know that not all dietitians put people on “diets,” despite the name. There are a ton of different specialties within dietetics and even more varying philosophies within those specialties.

something we can all agree on (mostly): avocado toast

Why I feel so passionate about clearing this up
I work full time at a breast cancer center here in NYC, and my patients mostly consist of adult women and a few men (men can get breast cancer too). Some of them have the resources to see “alternative” nutritionists before seeing me, and all of them have access to the internet, where there is way more crazy misinformation about nutrition than there is legit. When you have breast cancer, you are vulnerable and much more likely to believe what you read and what you hear, especially if it includes key words like cure, treat, cause, etc. And if this information comes from someone calling themselves a “nutritionist,” it’s often taken seriously because most people don’t know that title means very little. This is aside from the fact that most women have experience disordered eating behaviors at some point in their lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients come in so scared to eat anything because of what they’ve read or been told about food and cancer, or are already following crazy restrictive diets from the internet or prescribed by an uneducated and unqualified individual that has usually cost them a lot of money to see. It is heartbreaking to see someone going through a tough time having even more stress added to their lives because of terrible nutrition advice, and I see it all the time. The more we can educate about the differences in these titles, the better! Even if it just stops one person from believing the holistic nutritionist or instagram influencer that “soy causes breast cancer” (it doesn’t, I promise) or that the ketogenic diet is the way to go during marathon training (for sure not a thing).

What now?
It’s unfortunate that there’s no real way to stop this misinformation from spreading, especially because the ability to doll out nutrition advice is as easy as taking a selfie video and posting it on the internet, no education required. A few years ago I was very much in the “defense” camp, and spent too much time focusing negatively on all of the crap advice and those giving it out. I forgot that the best defense is a good offence, so I hope to use this blog to continue to talk about all of the cool nutrition stuff I  know and great research that is constantly coming out. If that helps to clear some misconceptions up, it will be an added bonus 🙂

health · nutrition · running · wellness

marathon training nutrition: grocery cart additions + pizza recipe

It’s no secret now that nutrition is an essential player in running performance and recovery, thank goodness. Food is not only delicious, but it’s fuel and one of the shiniest tools in the recovery toolbox (can’t forget rest, sleep and easy runs too though!). As my own training starts to ramp up – I’m aiming for the Philly Marathon this fall – I’m geeking out even more than usual on the latest and greatest research on training, racing and recovery nutrition to help me get through this training cycle feeling strong and ready to race. Here are a couple things that are going to be frequenting my grocery cart this summer/fall.

Whole milk yogurt
This is not a new one for me – I’ve been on team full fat dairy for a while. But, it’s going to be continuously present in my diet during training for a few different reasons beyond the fact that it’s creamy and delicious and I really like it. When my mileage increases during marathon training, my menstrual cycle tends to get a little nutty. I can skip a cycle completely or go longer time periods between cycles if I’m not careful, which is NO BUENO. This is not a sign that training is going well, it’s a sign that the body is either undernourished and/or going through too much stress. Every body reacts to training differently, and I’ve learned over time that mine has a bit of a lower threshold. This means being on top of my nutrition, eating enough to support my training and taking regular rest days are a priority. Whole milk yogurt not only has a good amount of protein to help promote muscle recovery after runs, but is also energy dense and a good source of fat. I wrote about this previously, but research has found regular consumption of full fat dairy products can help support a regular menstrual cycle and may promote fertility. And I haven’t even gotten into the probiotics! So many benefits, so little time.

whole milk greek yogurt, museli, berries, almond butter

Tart cherry juice
To be honest, tart cherry juice isn’t something I’ve tried before during training or in general, really. It’s expensive! And I’d rather eat cherries. But,  fresh cherry season is short and the research on juice is compelling enough for me to want to give it a whirl. Plus, drinking a concentrated juice seems a bit easier than eating 45-50 cherries every day (my intestines are shuddering at the thought). I found a great review article summarizing recent research, and findings are fairly consistent that drinking 8-12 ounces of tart cherry juice twice per day can help reduce pre- and post- race muscle soreness and reduce inflammatory markers in the body. One study of half marathoners found intake of the juice twice a day in the seven days before the race and two days after the race not only helped reduce soreness, but may even boost performance. Similar results were found in a study on cyclists. Like so many topics, more research is always needed before any general recommendations are made, but I think it’s worth a try. I’ll probably start with having 8 ounces, twice per day 4-5 days before a key long run or workout, and then continue for two days afterwards to see how I feel and maybe repeat that a couple of times. If all is well, it might become part of my race week plan.

Pizza dough
And obviously, other pizza-making essentials like cheese, pesto or tomato sauce and veggies. Pizza is probably my favorite pre-race or run fuel and one of my favorite recovery meals, and I love making my own with some good dough and lots of toppings. I’ve said this many times before, but carbohydrates are friends not foes in general, and especially when you’re an endurance athlete. There is a time and a place for cauliflower pizza, and marathon training isn’t really one of them (for the most part!). Pizza is a great way to get in some quality carbs via the dough, some protein with the cheese and if you like to add meat or sausage, and antioxidants with a variety of veggie toppings. I like making mine at home because of the unlimited freedom and flexibility on toppings, but also because a super greasy NYC pizza may not sit as well the night before a race or big training run. I also find pizza to be consistently great at satisfying crazy marathon-training hunger, which sometimes is not an easy thing to do. Ok, I’m hungry for pizza now, so I’ll leave you with the recipe for my favorite combo of all time.

the below pizza, plus red wine for good measure

 Veggie Ricotta Pesto Pizza (serves 1)

 Ingredients

  • One fist-sized portion of thawed, room temperature pre-made pizza dough (whatever you like – whole grain, plain, etc.)
  • ¼ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 cup chopped kale or baby spinach
  • 3-5 medium/large shitake mushrooms, de-stemmed
  • 1 plum tomato, sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Instructions
Set pizza dough out on counter 1-2 hours before cooking. When ready to start prep, heat oven to 425° F and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Begin kneading pizza dough with hands or use a rolling pin (I find it easier to do this by hand) and form a large circle. Place on cookie sheet. Spread pesto evenly onto dough, followed by ricotta. The ricotta can be added in little dollops throughout the dough rather than spread evenly. The add spinach or kale, followed by sliced tomato and mushrooms. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is slightly browned. Let sit for a few minutes after removing from oven, slice and enjoy!

 

health · nutrition · running · wellness

how I became a more intuitive eater during injury

Seven months can be considered a really short or really long amount of time, depending on how you look at it. That’s about how long I went without running to allow for the dramatic duo (partially torn plantar fascia, followed by a metatarsal stress fracture) of injuries to heal, and it actually seemed to go by somewhat quickly. After the initial pity party, I tried to focus on other things like starting my own part-time private practice and a little travel, and it helped to keep busy with some non-running and some running related things. I also had a lot more time to think and kind of just be, and one thing I’ve gained a bit of insight on is my intuitive eating habits.

the best tiramisu in rome

I’ve been a proponent of the intuitive eating philosophy for the past few years, both personally and professionally. I haven’t always been an intuitive eater myself, especially when I was more strongly rooted in a somewhat disordered and diet culture, but have found it to be quite liberating after having a more rigid approach to my own nutrition. Intuitive eating is NOT just listening to hunger and fullness cues, but in this post I’m going to focus on those two aspects of the philosophy.

Since I’m also a pretty serious (relatively to me, not because I’m winning anything ever) runner and almost always training for a marathon for the past ten or so years, hunger is a constant. And for me, listening to and honoring hunger cues when I’m almost always hungry became a fairly easy thing to do. In fact, I think I relied on the assumption that I’d probably be really hungry when planning my meals and snacks so much that it may have become not so intuitive, if that makes sense. So when the injuries hit and my activity level changed, especially once I was in a boot, my hunger levels changed too. They were no longer the status quo but varied more from day to day, which is completely NORMAL, but not something I had been used to. At first I was reluctant to stray from the habitual meals and snacks I had been eating – intuitive or not, I’m a creature of habit – but after having a few snacks that had typically satisfied me just enough before made me feel a bit over-full, I realized I wasn’t being the most intuitive.

Just as I tell my patients and clients all the time, the body is so great at adjusting its needs based on changes to activity level, daily living and body functions in general, if we listen to it. Quieting the external noise that’s trying to influence us otherwise is pretty difficult in this day and age. It took me a while to trust my hunger cues when they happened or my lack of hunger cues when I typically experienced them before, as well as varying levels of fullness. Here are a few things that helped me get there:

Being busy
This might sound kind of weird, but being busy with my full time job, part-time private practice and dog-momming helped me avoid overthinking whether or not I was hungry at certain times of the day. I started to trust myself and my varying appetite in a more fluid way, and became more comfortable honoring hunger and fullness cues that were different than what I was used to because I didn’t have a whole lot of time to analyze them. I’m not sure I’d recommend this, but I’m just trying to be honest about my experience.

one of the sources of my busy-ness plus a quinoa salad

Trusting the process
Des Linden says this about training, and it’s also true in this instance! Without having such a hardcore activity dictating my hunger and fullness cues so predictably, I was able to really hone in on what my body needed to function optimally every day for all of it’s other activities (i.e., keeping me alive and well!). The, “I’m hungry because I had a hard workout this morning” became “I’m hungry because my body must be going through some stuff today and needs energy,” and with those thoughts came a lot more intuition on just how special and smart the body is. Trusting the process, in this case, was trusting my body to help me understand when and how to nourish it and being comfortable with the fact that this looks different every day.

Letting go
I think letting go of what my typical appetite has been for so long was key, but also letting go of the idea that my body would remain the exact same size throughout the injury. When you’re not participating in such a rigorous physical activity like running on a regular basis after doing it for a long time, the body is bound to change. It’s natural and more than ok. I think Amelia Boone said this in a podcast interview before, but it’s not a bad thing to let the body get a little soft when recovering from an injury. It’s also not a bad thing to just do nothing as opposed to killing yourself with cross training. Though I did enjoy some cross training activities and it helped me feel a bit of the endorphin high that we as runners love so much, it’s not my favorite and I prefer running to anything else. So if more rest and less cross training = better healing and faster return to running, that is really important and I’d probably do more of it next time.

I think this whole process is sort of coming full circle now as I start to get into regular training and my hunger levels are once again changing. I feel a bit more confident trusting that my body knows what it’s doing and that increases in hunger now make just as much sense as decreases before. I’m also embracing how unique this experience can be from day to day. My insights from the past several months are also a great testament to another thing I always tell patients and clients – intuitive eating isn’t something you can or should nail perfectly every time. Rather, it’s a tool we have within us to always use and learn from, and it’s changing constantly because it’s supposed to. And just like everyone else, I need a refresher on that sometimes too.

 

dogs · health · nutrition · running · wellness

day in the life, monday edition

Usually during initial sessions with patients and clients, I’ll have them take me through a “typical day” or “yesterday.” What they’re eating, what they’re doing, from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. I find this to be helpful not just in getting an idea of their food intake, but to spark a conversation about daily habits, emotions that come up and some common challenges. Oftentimes when starting their recall, people will say something along the lines of, “well I know I should have done this, but…” or “this was bad, but…” and get all judgy with themselves. This is human nature today, but also probably partly due to the assumption that I’m judging them too, which I’m not! It’s not my job to judge and that’s not why I ask those questions, but moreso because it’s a good way to start to get to know someone and figure out how I can best help.

Anyways, I thought I’d turn the tables on myself today. There’s something appealing about reading others’ “day in the life” type posts, so here goes one of mine.

Morning (4:52 a.m.)
Peanut wakes me up either by licking my ear, pawing at my eyeball (gently), walking on my back or all of the above. She is so consistent that I haven’t used an alarm clock in months. I give her a belly rub and then we get up. I put my running clothes on, eat some banana with peanut butter and we head out for our morning walk. Now that it’s light and warm out, we probably walk for about 20 minutes with lots of stops and sniffs and attempts to eat gross old food off of the ground. When we get home, Peanut gets breakfast and I head out for my run.

the cutest girl

Recently I started working with Mary, and it’s so nice to have a (really smart and super nice) coach to think about and plan my running schedule for me with some goals in mind. Right now we’re still focusing on easy runs and building a base, but I can’t wait to start doing workouts, long runs and marathon training again! This morning was an easy 6 miles mostly on the bridle path in Central Park (i.e., my happy place), and felt amazing. It took probably about a month post-injury for my runs to start feeling even a little bit good, but I knew that going in and kept telling myself the out of shape feeling was only temporary. It was really helpful!

When I get home I do some stretching and planks while Peanut goes crazy trying to lick all of the sweat off me. It’s hilarious and a highly recommended strategy to get through planking. Then I start brewing coffee, shower and eat breakfast. I’m a big fan of the substantial breakfast – a hearty amount of carbs, protein and fat to refuel from the run and to keep me satisfied for much of the morning. Breakfast is the meal my patients and clients skimp on most often, and once we work on beefing them up a bit there is a noticeable difference in energy levels throughout the day. This often translates to better running performance and recovery too!

Sprouted grain toast, whole milk Greek yogurt with pear and honey, peanut butter with blueberries, hemp & chia seeds with some dried coconut flakes.

Once I finish two very big mugs of coffee (very into Linden + True coffee at the moment), get dressed and snuggle Peanut, we head out for a quick pee break and then I go to work.

I love my job, (and my other job) and my work schedule is different every day depending on patient appointments, groups I have in the evenings (like yoga, Pilates, cooking classes, etc.), meetings, and other patient needs like phone calls and visits during chemotherapy. Today it’s a mix of sending and answering emails, calling a few patients and visiting one during treatment. I don’t know if it’s because my mornings are busy or my breakfast is super satisfying, but I usually don’t get hungry for a mid-morning snack. I’m almost always ready for lunch on the early side, though, and hit up the hospital cafeteria between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

I think we have a pretty decent cafeteria, and usually end up getting some sort of salad bar situation of greens, a grain, protein like chicken, tuna, tofu or hard boiled egg, with steamed vegetables and/or potato from the hot bar. When I remember, I also bring half an avocado and sometimes leftover roasted veggies from home. Even though I encourage people to try not to eat in front of their computers/technology, I’m usually scarfing this down at my desk while reading studies or patient charts. Shrug emoji.

greens, tofu, cauliflower, carrots, roasted potatoes, avocado, brussels sprouts

Afternoon
My afternoon is pretty similar to the morning, but with more emails because I’m planning an employee wellness event this week and I want everything to run smoothly. Patients are my number one priority, but I’m also involved in our employee wellness initiatives and it’s really fun. This week’s events have a “game” theme, and my inner 6 year old is excited to play things like connect four and taboo. I get hungry around 2:00 p.m. so have some grapes and Babybell cheese, which hit the spot. I’m a big fan of afternoon snacks and they are definitely key on preventing “hanger” in the late afternoon/early evening. I don’t have any groups tonight, so I can head home for the day in a few hours. When I do have groups, I go home in the late afternoon to take Peanut out and feed her, and then I come back to work. It’s kind of exhausting, but this is life as a single dog mom.

Coming home to a dog is probably the best thing ever, and Peanut is always really excited to see me. After I adopted her, it probably took a good 3-4 months for her to get up the courage to greet me when I got home because she was so fearful. Now she goes nuts and I’m never not grateful for that. When I get home, I quickly change into running/yoga clothes (because comfort, not because I’m actually doing those things), eat a random Brazil nut and we head out the door to the park. It’s super hot outside, so we do an abbreviated park walk. We say hi to some of our usual dog friends and doormen along our route (Peanut really likes this one doorman and it’s so cute), but she gets tired and I have to carry her most of the way home. Sometimes she refuses to walk home because she wants to stay at the park, but this time I think she’s pooped from the heat. When we get home it’s time for her dinner and then mine. Lately I’ve been making big, hearty salads on the weekends for quick dinners during the week that don’t involve much cooking since my evenings have been pretty busy. Tonight it’s a twist on a Run Fast Eat Slow farro and kale salad with my own tahini dressing and a hard boiled egg. So good. I love tahini.

she’s into it

Evening
After dinner, we watch the news and I start getting ready for a client. I just have one follow-up tonight, so I prep a bit and then get on the phone. My typical follow-ups are between 30-45 minutes long, and this one is closer to 45 minutes because I love my client(s) and there is a lot to catch up on. After our call I’ll draft a recap and goals we talked about.

I have a bit of time to wind down before bed and decide to stretch and foam roll for a few minutes and then choose to try and finish the book I’m reading, A Gentleman in Moscow, over watching an episode of Queer Eye. It’s a tough decision, but the book is so good. I started reading it after Des Linden recommended it on a podcast and then during this live NYRR event I went to a few weeks ago. She’s awesome, so I figured her book recommendations would be too. A while ago I made a self-enforced rule of “no social media before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m.” – it’s really great and helps me feel more productive and present. I snack on some dark chocolate with raspberries, which is my absolute favorite. Around 8:00 p.m. Peanut and I head out for our last walk of the day, usually a quick one around the block or so, and it’s uneventful. She gets spooked by a ton of different things – trash bags, people dining outdoors, trucks unloading things, any sort of noise, etc. – but this walk was quieter and Peanut happier. I’m hungry when we get home so I have some yogurt (been digging this vanilla flavor lately and it was on sale at Whole Foods!) and give Peanut a spoonful when I’m done because she loves yogurt and is the cutest girl.

We end the night with some journaling, which I try to do on most nights, and then get into bed to actually try and finish my book. Peanut usually sleeps above my pillow so that’s where she settles. Both pairs of our eyes are closed by 9:00 p.m. because we know that pre-5:00 a.m. wake-up is coming soon.

 

 

health · nutrition · wellness

letting go of “normal” mealtimes

If I had a nickel for every time a patient or client said things like, “but I shouldn’t eat after XXPM right?” or, “I was really hungry but it was only XX o’clock so I waited a while to eat,” or, “but I always eat breakfast/lunch/dinner at XX time!” I would have a lot of nickels. Maybe even enough for a student loan payment. While it’s really common and totally ok to have a routine when it comes to mealtimes, it’s also important recognize that mealtimes are pretty arbitrary. As are the “rules” we have in our heads about when we  should or shouldn’t be eating.

kale farro salad from Run Fast Eat Slow, Peanut approved

Some of these rules stem from diet culture, which encourages micromanaging not only food choices, but meal and snack times as well. This takes us further and further away from cravings and internal hunger and fullness cues. Getting so caught up in external cues happens to pretty much everyone at some time or another, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t challenge this thinking. Like I said in my last post, physical hunger is the body’s way of telling you it’s time to eat. And the body doesn’t care if it’s 10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. or 6:00 a.m. It just cares that it’s getting a steady source of energy and nutrients when it needs them to fuel all of its amazing activities. Our overworked brains complicate this beautiful simplicity so much! Let’s challenge that. The next time you:

Ignore physical hunger cues because it’s not a “mealtime.” Ask yourself where this mealtime rule came from. Maybe an old rule from childhood, a newer rule from a diet, or a routine you’ve gotten into. Why are you prioritizing this rule instead of your body’s hunger? What will happen to you if you break the rule? Probably nothing terrible, right? An example here could be having less then satisfying breakfast or a big morning workout and feeling meal hungry* for lunch at say, 10:30 a.m., but ignoring this hunger and waiting until your usual lunch time of noon or 1:00 p.m. to eat. You’d most likely be famished, which absolutely affects food choices, how much you eat and messes with blood sugar. By scrapping the rules and eating at 10:30 a.m., not only are you stabilizing blood sugar and giving your body some energy, but preventing a serious case of “hangry” that can effect every part of your day – work, relationships, workouts, emotions, etc.

Force yourself to stop eating by a certain time of day. The most common rule I hear is the “no eating after XXPM” one, but no rules like this mean much and often stem from diet culture. This rule can also be a sneaky way to restrict food intake and result in restrict-binge cycles too. If you find yourself resisting hunger after a certain time in the evening, ask yourself where this rule came from. And, what do you think will happen to you if you do eat after a certain time? Nighttime snacking doesn’t inherently cause weight gain, which I think is a popular concern, nor is it wrong or “bad.” In fact, it’s often necessary if you’re experiencing physical hunger cues that need to be satisfied. If nighttime hunger is intense, though, that’s often a clue to take a look at your nutrition from earlier in the day as you may not be eating enough.

lunch bagel sandwich eaten at 10:30 a.m. because … hungry

Eat because it’s a certain time of day that you associate with a mealtime, even though you’re not hungry. Part of letting go of some food rules also involves recognizing a lack of hunger around typical meal and snack times. This can happen too! And is a bit easier to accept as we let go of other mealtime rules and know that it’s ok to eat regardless of what the clock says. In cases like this, take a step back and tell yourself that your meal will be there when you are hungry. And when that happens, it’s time to eat!

Sidenote: I know work and life schedules can get tricky in terms of mealtimes, but I’m speaking in general terms here with the understanding that sometimes, it’s not possible to eat exactly right when you’re feeling hungry. That’s why snacks and planning are important too! And that’s probably a whole different post, so stay tuned. 🙂

*meal hungry: when you know a snack just won’t cut it and you’re ready for a meal