The Evolution of My Running Motivation

As much as I still love a good run, I haven’t exactly been a super-committed runner in a while now. These days, I’m doing a couple 5ks a week but I haven’t tackled more than 10k for a really long time. I’m slower and I feel a lack of drive. I’m running for exercise, but I don’t mind taking walk breaks and I hardly feel like pushing myself. But I miss being a 10k-a-day kinda girl! So, I’ve been soul searching to try and get to the bottom of it.

I try and remember what motivated me a few years ago when I was so friggin gung-ho. Why did I start running in the first place? What did running mean to me? What were my motivators? What pushed me out the door early on Saturday mornings to go run 20k? If I’m honest with myself, I think my driving force back then was to overcome a lack of self-esteem.When I started running it was my path to self-improvement. Deep down I wasn’t a confident person and I felt that if I was at least a decent runner, then I would earn people’s respect.  If I pushed myself through race training and across a finish line as fast as I could, then I could prove that I was good enough. But over time, and several thousand miles in the last eight years, I eventually found a lot of inner strength, I grew as a person and I’ve pulled on that strength many times to overcome obstacles and achieve other goals.

These days I feel like I have nothing left to prove. I like who I’ve grown up to be. I’m confident. I’m content with who I am. I still have goals, yes, but I am also very proud of my accomplishments off the trail as well. I have new, grown-up ways to measure my self-worth. I’m not running from my problems, and I don’t NEED to run fast to feel good about myself. There are many other feathers in my hat these days besides a decent marathon time.

So thank-you running, for pushing me when I needed it. Thank-you for getting a fire going inside me when I was a scared, timid little thing who needed reassurance, praise and to be told, “YOU ARE ENOUGH”. Without the strength I gained through running I don’t know if I would have gone back to university and finished my bachelor’s degree. I highly doubt that I would be getting ready to start grad school. I might still be clinging to an expired relationship, trying to fill a void of self-love with ego-flattery. Thank-you for helping me to finally, once and for all, genuinely like myself separate of external validation.

As spring and a new running season approach, it’s time now, to find a new source of running motivation. But, no longer will I rely on superficial goals like six-pack abs, or flattery and attention as a crutch. I know that whether I’m a size 16, or a size zero, my worth is the same. I know that whether I’m single or worshiped by a wonderful man, my worth is the same. And even if I never qualify for and run The Boston Marathon, my worth is exactly the same.

I must remember that regardless of anything else going on in my life, I always feel my best after a great run. So maybe, I’ll just rely on the buzz and the fact that I am always just one run away from a better day.

I switched from a pot of coffee a day, to green tea. Here’s what happened.

Today, February 4th marks 30 full days since I’ve had a sip of coffee!!

I am a reformed addict and a total convert! The old me drank a pot of coffee a day. The new me drinks two or three cups of green tea a day. My addiction to coffee was like being in a toxic, co-dependent relationship. The differences that I’ve noticed in the last 30 days have been nothing short of life-changing.

Here are a few things that I’ve noticed in the 30 days since I said goodbye to my old friend Joe:

  1. Let’s get the bad out of the way first: I was TIRED. I was super facking tired. I struggled to get through some short runs and had to take walk breaks that the old, over-caffeinated Liz, would not have needed. And thank god I made this huge change during a period where I was not working at a 9-5! I could sleep and nap as much as I wanted. The energy slump was just a necessary adjustment phase and now I am used to the much lower levels of caffeine supplied by my green tea. My body has learned how to produce its own REAL energy. It was hard getting used to NOT being over-stimulated all day, but I DID IT!
  2. Now let’s move on to the GOOD NEWS: The cloud of anxiety that has been hanging over my head as long as I can remember has totally vanished and I feel happier. This was the first thing that I noticed as I kicked off my new green tea lifestyle – and the change came quickly – within 3 days. I just felt calm. Every day. Considering the fact that I just moved to a new city, and would normally be stressed out about money, finding a new job, etc., the fact that I am calm and cool totally amazes me. This must be due to the L-Theanine that exists in green tea. It is known to have a calming, mood-boosting effect.
  3. My skin improved – BIG TIME. Within a week, every little blemish that I had on my face was healed, my skin was more hydrated and I swear my fine lines have decreased. Because of this, I am not really wearing much makeup anymore. I no longer feel embarrassed about redness and dark under eye circles. I am heading out into the world barefaced daily. Even the once desperately parched skin on my legs has improved!
  4. I am less hungry all the time. This is probably because excessive coffee consumption leads to dehydration. When we are dehydrated we often mistake hydration cues for hunger cues. Green tea is much less of a diuretic than coffee is. Because I am not ravenous, I believe I am eating less and making healthier food choices. I haven’t been hangry in a while!
  5. It is currently my TOM and hallelujah! I have experienced zero PMS and absolutely zero cramps. Last month I was taking pain killers, I was super tired, bloated, cranky – the worst! Proof that my hormones are regulating themselves.

When I made the decision to quit coffee cold-turkey, I had many hopes for what this change would do for my health. Regulating my hormones and resetting my cortisol levels was a huge part of it. I also wanted to fix my digestive issues, and while I can’t say that they were completely due to the high amount of caffeine I once consumed, I know that quitting coffee, at least for a little while, is a necessary part of the gut-healing process. I have recently made other big changes to my diet and I believe these changes are going to make a big difference as well. I will write a post devoted to those changes soon.

I haven’t decided if I will stay coffee free forever, or try and reintroduce a little back into my diet to see how I feel. I still miss the taste and smell quite a bit. Maybe just a decaf here and there for nostalgia.

The moral of today’s story is this: It might seem impossible to tackle addictions to food or coffee… or break bad habits, but you CAN do it. All steps forward towards better health will be worth it and the more you are willing to change, the greater your rewards will be!

I Quit Coffee!

To paint an accurate picture of why this is such a monumental achievement for me, let me start by explaining my previous dependency on coffee.

The story starts when I began working in the service industry, about sixteen years ago now… I drank a few cups of coffee a day to get me through my 3-11pm shifts. I was NOT used to working long hours on my feet and the coffee kept me going. Serving and coffee go hand in hand. There’s always a pot of coffee going at most restaurants to help staff stay awake, stay chipper and give them the energy to zoom around the restaurant for seven or eight hours each night. I have been serving in restaurants off and on for ten years now. Coffee has been a non-negotiable requirement in my ability to be a server.

I loved being a coffee addict! Nothing made my mornings better than the warming, brain-waking sensation that it brought me. As far back as I can remember, not a day went by that I didn’t have a cup of coffee to my lips within an hour of waking up. But it wasn’t just one cup; oh no, it was 3/4 of a pot each morning, just to get going, then another cup or two in the afternoons, and evenings, just to keep the buzz alive. There seemed to be no negatives. I never experienced sleep issues and have always been able to sleep 7-8 hours a night. I supported my addiction by reading many articles about the health benefits of the beans; a powerful antioxidant which prevents cancer; helps with weight loss, and enhances exercise performance. So naturally, I chose to believe that coffee basically made me a better person. It helped me be more productive at work, made me happier, and it helped me wake up and perform better on early morning runs. Caffeine and running go hand in hand after all. As do caffeine and serving.

To say coffee has been important to my life is an understatement. As silly as it might seem, I feel like it has actually been a part of my identity. I remember meeting people who didn’t drink or like coffee, and I was bewildered and even a little turned off. Coffee addicts are cool, they are edgy (maybe jittery) and they are my tribe. There is a comradery amongst those of us who rely on coffee. We understand. We get it. I was not my best self unless I had about 3-4 cups in my system. I was constantly over-stimulated and that was how I wanted / needed to be.

So now that you understand the situation I was dealing with, you see why this was such a big deal to me. Coffee was part of who I am. I am even a little sad about giving it up now as I write this post, as if I am mourning the loss of my previous self; a person I liked. Yeah, I’m being dramatic, but it is a big change for me.

On January 6th, I decided that it was time to quit. I was visiting my boyfriend’s parents and was embarrassed by how dependent I was on my morning coffee – with a certain brand of almond milk. It is one thing to have a morning ritual when you are at home, but when traveling and that habit becomes a serious inconvenience and the idea of going without gives you anxiety, then it might be time to check yourself. I don’t like being dependant on anything. I’ve smoked a couple cigarettes in my life but thankfully, never liked it. I’ve drank plenty of alcohol but don’t mind going months and months without it. I’ve never been addicted to anything like I was to coffee.

So today I am 13 days coffee free and I feel great! Sure I miss it, and I don’t have quite the same energy that I am used to having but I have noticed some positive changes. For one, I am happier and calmer and have experienced far less anxiety. For two, my skin is clearer and more hydrated. At only two weeks in, it might be too soon to tell, but I also think that my stomach issues seem to be improving. I have been suffering a lot of bloating and gas for the last few years and the situation seems to be slowly getting better.

You may notice that I haven’t mentioned quitting caffeine, just coffee. I have switched from starting my day with coffee to green tea which contains about a third the amount of caffeine. It’s a different kind of buzz, much smoother and mellower. Instead of drinking 5-8 cups of coffee a day I am drinking two or three green teas. I have cut down on my caffeine intake significantly. I plan to stick to the new green tea habit and may eventually add back decaf coffee, just for the taste, after a period of at least a month. I want to wait until the mental addiction is out of my system and I refuse to slip back into my old ways. It’s a new year and I am ready to up my self-improvement game this year. Quitting coffee is like eating the frog and overcoming my long-standing coffee addiction is a bigger deal to me than previous attempts at quitting sugar – another topic I plan to tackle again soon.

Happy 2017 everyone!! I hope the new year is inspiring you all to set new self-improvement goals and committing to new healthy habits, even if that means switching to a new, healthier tribe.

#RWRunStreak – 2016 Edition

It’s funny that my last post was about a run streak. That was back in the spring and I was struggling to be consistent with my running, of course, a streak was a great idea; unfortunately it fell by the wayside. I was working too much at a very physically demanding job and my body just couldn’t take the extra punishment. Twelve hour days on concrete floors working as a frazzled; stressed out server totally burned me out this past year. But luckily things have changed a lot in the last six months. I have a much less stressful job, I’m now working fewer hours and the new position is far less physically and mentally demanding. I have also been taking part in a 30-day yoga and meditation program and think I finally have a handle on my chronic stress issues. I am super into meditation these days. Yay healing!

Yesterday was American Thanksgiving and the first day of the Runner’s World Run Streak that goes until New Years Day. I did a little 3.5k run last night in the wind and drizzle; hopefully, the weather isn’t terrible for the last 38 days of the year!

I have remained somewhat consistent with running and workouts this year but, at times, my crazy work schedule got in the way. There was a period of five weeks where I worked two jobs and literally went right from one to the other – no time even to eat supper! That burned me out quickly and reminded me the importance of making time for self-care and wellness (DUH). So my physical fitness and mental state may have suffered a bit but all work and no play helped my financial fitness improve dramatically since the spring; my debt is down and I have been saving like a madman. It’s not all bad!

My plan is to end 2016 on a positive note. I am hitting the gym for a weights workout three times a week (I’ll be writing a specific post about the details in the next few days), and my aim is to run a minimum of three km’s per day as part of the #RWRUNSTREAK. I will also be doing yoga at least once a week and eating as clean as I can. I want to enter 2017 feeling great and ready to take on some new challenges. I’m considering making 2017 another year of monthly challenges just like 2013 was. It was my healthiest and happiest year, maybe ever, and I am ready to do what’s necessary to feel that way again.

So let’s end 2016 with a bang and make the most out of the final days of what has been a challenging year for many of us. Happy streaking!!

UPDATE:

The 2016 / 2017 winter streak was a great success! My love and I ran every single day from November 24th until January 9th; a streak of 46 days!!

Let’s Go Streaking!

Although I haven’t written a blog post in ages, I am still a runner. Just maybe a slightly less obsessed, less interested in talking about running 24/7 type of runner. Yes, we do exist, I swear!

I just got home from my third 5k run in the last three days and I thought, “Remember when I was such a disgustingly motivated runner, that I actually wrote about every single run in a running blog? Ugh. But maybe writing a blog post will help refuel my motivation and help me get through a little spring streak?”

So screw it, here it is. I plan on running 5k a day for the next seven days to complete an even ten day running streak. No, not a huge accomplishment, but I’m hoping it’ll help snap me back into a regular running habit and get my spring training up and underway .

I’ve been going to the gym regularly for the last two years and running shorter and less frequent runs, but school has been my main focus. It took me three years but I have finally completed my degree now. Yay checking off major life goals! So now my sights are set on getting my poor little career (which I basically abandoned in it’s infancy) up and off life support. Running always helped motivate me in all areas of my life. I could use the extra motivation these days because a sweet new job is not going to just land in my lap, I’ve got to get creative and be tenacious. I also think that writing this blog will help keep the creative side of my brain alive – it really helped in the past.

 

Spring Fever

Whole30 Update: I made it 30 days, but my results weren’t exactly spectacular like I was hoping. Maybe I missed something? Maybe I snacked too much, maybe I should have pushed it to 60 days, or maybe I wasn’t that unhealthy to begin with? I love the concept of the Whole 30 Challenge and really enjoyed the book, It Starts with Food. I highly recommend giving it a try.

newly remodeled bicycleI’m happy to be back to my regular running and gyming routine. Runs are 8-10K and I am loving the grueling Signal Hill trail which takes me from my apartment, down the Rennie’s River trail and all the way around the Signal Hill hiking trail and back home. I also love scooting around town on my sweet newly remodeled bicycle (pic left), isn’t she gorgeous? I’m also a fan of running Signal Hill from the gym (7K) and following that up with a weights workout. Lifting progressively heavier weights has become my second love over the last year but and I’ve doubled my upper-body strength!

So life beyond clean eating and workouts is beyond stellar these days. I worked my butt off and managed to finish this semester with an 85% average overall! I am partaking in a study abroad program this summer in Harlow, UK. It involves six weeks of field trips around the UK and France and Belgium and after that’s done I am taking off with my backpack and classmates to explore some more areas of Europe. First up is Budapest! I also got an awesome job at a new restaurant which is a new venture by some of the finest restauranteurs in the country. Needless to say I’m stoked about this as well.

Spring as sprung, I’m feeling fit and healthy again, fun and excitement are on the horizon! #foreveryoung

 

Whole30 – Day 3

Well its day three of my Whole30 challenge and things are going great! I have been eating what feels like a ton of food but in reality it’s probably much less than before. I feel happy, satiated and content between meals.I haven’t noticed any real cravings at all yet either but the real test will be the week ahead of me as I start PMSing. I’m eating three solid clean meals a day and I’ve had a couple snacks when I needed them. For the most part though the balanced meals have been enough. Breakfasts have been two eggs, grated sweet potato and some avocado, lunches and dinners have been varied but always following the meal planning guidelines. This is basically a stepped up version of the way I ate for most of 2013. Back then I was lenient on the types of oils, minimal gluten and things like natural chips; I also ate rice, legumes and quinoa! I experienced amazing results from just basically quitting sugar, dairy and cutting back on gluten for a few months, so I can only imagine how much the coming days are going to affect me. It feels amazing to be back on track after so long! Before starting this program my anxiety had been really bad. I felt out of control and down on myself for it. I was stressing about every bite I ate and wanted to eat. Over the last few days however, I haven’t experienced any anxiety despite being at the end of another semester, writing huge final papers and looking for a new job. My skin already looks better as well! I’m so happy and I can’t wait to experience how good I’m going to feel on day 30! Here’s a couple examples of my delicious Whole30 meals.

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Two over-easy eggs, grated sweet potato and avocado

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Spaghetti squash, moose meatballs and a coconut milk, spinach and sun-dried tomato sauce