On Eating and Movement

A lot of people ask me for advice on health and fitness. So I’m giving the people what they want! I am not an expert and I recommend consulting people who are, but here is a broad look at what I do. As a reminder, I look the way I do from many years of consistently training to run competitively and I naturally have a small bone structure. Everyone’s ideal body will evolve over time as they learn what movements and foods work best for their body. I have researched and learned a lot about what makes me feel my best and I am happy to share what I have learned with you.

1. On eating: Our bodies are always trying to move us towards our ideal states, so I trust my appetite. I eat when I’m hungry and stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore. It sounds simple, but if you’re not used to doing this, it takes practice. This means when I’m training more, I naturally eat more. I focus on eating healthy foods I love to eat. After I’ve gotten healthy foods in me, I let myself enjoy dessert. It ends up being anywhere from one dessert per day to one dessert per week. In my experience, if I find myself craving too many sweets, I’m not getting enough protein or healthy calories overall. I don’t restrain myself from eating any particular thing, I just do my best to eat mostly healthy foods.

Eating should be delightful. I prefer to eat with happy company, instead of alone. I don’t eat food if I know someone angry cooked it. It’s easier to digest food when you’re calm and happy. If I’m upset, I wait until I calm down to eat. I also try to avoid rushed eating.

To also keep myself eating happy, I don’t weigh myself. I am not interested in how much I weigh, I am interested in feeling energetic, moving freely, and running fast.

I’ve been really poor and had to eat things that I know are terrible for me, but I always do what I can with what I have. Maybe I can’t afford the ideal diet, but I can eat some spinach and bananas. I can make sure I surround myself with loving people and eat food cooked by tenderhearted people. And I can still listen to my appetite.

2. On movement: I am frequently moving and I feel my best when I’m really active. Even during the times of day I’m not specifically working out, I move a lot. I walk at work and I love to go for nature walks. I go dancing whenever I can. I love to skate and rollerblade, as well. I like yin yoga a lot, because it helps me train my ability to focus. Pilates helps me with core strength and stability. I can’t do all these things all the time, so I work them in when I can. Normally if I am training less for running, I do more yin yoga, walking, and Pilates. I really enjoy swimming, so this is something else I will do if I’m resting from running. There are great Pilates and yoga books and YouTube videos to learn the basics. Classes are great to get a teacher’s guidance, if you can afford them.

Movement is another area where I do my best with what I have. When I was sleeping in my car, I would walk every day, run less often, and do pull ups, push ups and core work at the park. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to be effective, just consistent.

When I’m training to run competitively, I work out anywhere from one to three hours per day. This includes running, core work, stretching and lifting weights. I do not recommend jumping into training this much if your body isn’t prepared for it. I’ve worked up to this volume of training over time, and I follow a personalized training plan, created by coaches I trust. For most people, this amount of training isn’t even necessary. I do it simply because I love it. I also don’t always do this. I have taken months off and even up to a year off at times, for an injury or just for a mental break from it.

The important thing is finding the joy and balance in movement. The things that are hardest to do, usually make you feel the best. That consistent core routine is a bit mundane, but it prevents injury so you can keep moving. Running hill repeats makes you feel like you might pass out, but the high after you’ve competed the work is the unmatched.

There are so many different aspects of health and fitness I could go into, but the article would get too complex if I threw them all in one. Let me know what else you would like me to write about on this topic.

Thoughts on Alcohol

My grandpa on my dad’s side of the family gave me my first sip of beer when I was in elementary school. My mom was furious when she found out. I was taught that drinking was a sin, because we adhered to the beliefs of my mom’s parents (the Apostolic Lutheran Church). My mom didn’t try a sip of alcohol until she was forty years old and there never was any alcohol in our home.

After my family left the Apostolic Lutheran Church, I was told not to drink because it was against the law. And I followed all the rules. At this age, I watched a close relative’s intelligence and spirit drown in her alcoholism (and it was amidst her outwardly preaching against drinking). I learned of other family members dying or nearly dying, because of addiction. And I watched all my friends start to drink.

When I turned twenty one, I didn’t have any authority figure telling me not to drink, but it still didn’t really interest me. I tried a strawberry Jell-O shot three months after my twenty-first birthday. My head spun and I felt a strange feeling down the front of my quadriceps, but other than that, I didn’t notice much. By the time I turned twenty-seven, I could still count on my hands the number of times I had drank.

I understand why people drink. It’s a quick way to get yourself to do what you actually want, without caring what people think. You want to talk to a beautiful woman, who is a stranger, but it’s too scary. You want to dance and be free, but something in your brain makes it scary. The alcohol just turns that thing in your brain off. I think you can turn that thing in your brain off without alcohol, it just takes a lot of practice. You have to keep doing the things you want to do and you have to be okay with feeling scared.

When you drink you also forget about your problems. I get why people want to forget about their problems. Sometimes, I’d like to forget mine. The annoying thing about forgetting your problems when you drink is that they are still there when the drinking wears off. The secret is that working on fixing your problems actually brings you more joy. And running could also make you forget your problems, so could writing, or sewing (if that’s what you’re into). And all these things also help you process your problems instead of covering them up and hiding them away behind drugs.

I do occasionally drink. Sometimes, it’s just so people around me don’t feel uncomfortable with their drinking. Many times, I will get one drink and nurse it for a full night out. People eventually notice that I’ve only had one drink, but they’re usually too drunk to feel like I’m judging them by the time that realization happens. Another fun thing is to accept additional drinks when they are offered, but sneakily pass them on to someone else or add the alcohol to your friend’s cup when they’re not looking. Volunteering to drive is another fun way to not drink. Demonstrating a distaste for the flavor of alcohol someone got you also gets you out of that drink.

Ultimately some people figure out my real drinking habits aren’t like theirs and don’t want to be around me because of it, but it’s just as well.

I am usually more interested in chasing the highs the body naturally produces that don’t have a downside, when pursued in balance. I like to wake up with energy, instead of grogginess from drinking.

I’ll keep dancing freely, attending live music, trying new things that scare me, talking to strangers who interest me, working out intensely, spending time with the ones I love, laughing, spending time in nature, creating art, writing and performing.

I hope you will, too, whether you’re drinking or not.