Apr 26, 2011

Snacking 101. A Few of My Favorite Things.

Since my most popular post thus far was my sugar filled yogurt rant and solution for a healthier choice I thought I would touch on food again. Who better to take food advice from than a former chubby girl turned runner?

If you know me, you know I'm always eating. I have a snack or a meal every few hours and have since perfected the art of snacking. It should be noted that I'm not just grazing and these are well thought out portioned snacks. You could consider me a professional snacker. A good snack needs to be: filling, taste good, convenient, and nutritionally well balanced. This can be tricky.

Also, while some may be quick to think that I must have amazing will power - let it be known that I can have the self control of a 3 year old when it comes to good food. However I've learned my triggers for crap eating and that's the first step in stopping it. When I'm tired, stressed, or bored I eat. That is a habit that will never die no matter how hard I fight it but I'm always prepared. For these reasons I will gladly pay food companies extra to pre-package my snacks whenever possible. Pretzels, almonds, and yogurt are few of the things I can buy in bulk and manage not to over indulge. Everything that does not come pre-portioned is measured or counted. 17 pretzels, 24 almonds, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 cup cereal... etc. It sounds ridiculous but it works for me. I have a tendency to eat more carbohydrates than anything when given the options so I've recently been trying to make my snacks more well rounded and thought I would share a few of my favorites..

This is a new discovery/ favorite. I'm obsessed with avocados and guacamole but making it for one person is not ideal and again I have little self control with this yummy creation when it's in a big bowl. There are 3 packs of 100 calories each and it's loaded with good fats (yes there is such a thing)! I use it as a spread on sandwiches, veggie burgers, and have it with salsa and multigrain pita chips for a complete snack. SO GOOD. 

See above. 

70 calories, portable, good source of calcium, and delicious. Who doesn't love cheese sticks? Have with a small serving of crackers or almonds and you've got a complete snack. 

Pretty self explanatory. Plain or with hummus they are filling and nutritious.

My personal favorite. Great for dipping veggies and pita chips, also good in wraps and sandwiches instead of mayo.

Simply stated - LOVE. 1 tablespoon plus one rice cake. Sprinkle raisins or chocolate chips if you're feeling crazy and/or earned the calories.

Perfect little snack. They also make lots of good flavors including the new buffalo wing (drool). Just be sure to count your serving! My favorite way to eat them is mixed in my yogurt, adds a nice little crunch (if you've never put almonds in your yogurt, TRY IT!)


Super convenient. There is a granola bar in purse at all times (unless of course I've eaten it for the day..). It saves you when you are out running errands or stuck in your car in traffic and your stomach starts to growl. Prevents you from over-eating when you get home. These are my 3 favorite granola bars. Very well balanced with protein and carbs and less sugar than most granola bars.

Lastly, these two little bags of heaven are my most favorite snacks in the universe. Probably because they offer little to no nutritional value. However, they aren't bad for you either. I'm a snacker at heart and these are the closest things you can find to Cheetos and potato chips that won't make your skinny jeans hide in the closet. The portion sizes are pretty generous and calories are low (Pop Chips: 22 chips 120 calories. Quakes: 18 quakes, 140 calories). They are even non-health-conscious-man approved.

I highly recommend investing in some storage bags and measuring cups. If you struggle with portion/self control like me, divide the full sizes into portion sizes when you get home from the store. It sounds silly but it works for me. 

Apr 22, 2011

Drum Roll PLEASE...

I went to the podiatrist on Wednesday after what felt like months of waiting and not running (16 days to be exact). Let me start first by saying LOVE HIM. Finding a new physician is never a fun task, especially when you have nothing and no one to base your search on. I've come across my fair share of terrible doctors. Also, having worked with an amazing cardiology group (with a few exceptions) as a Clinical Research Assistant my bar for physicians is set pretty high. There is a lot to be said about good bedside manor and actually caring about your patient. So with that being said if you ever find yourself in the greater Philadelphia area looking for a good podiatrist I've got your man. I've also got a stellar vet if you need that too :) Anyways...

I went for a run on Tuesday to have a way to gauge how my pain was compared to when it all started. I took it slow and easy. My intention was to run 3 miles. I didn't wear my heart rate monitor and was reluctant to even wear my running watch because I felt like I was jinxing myself in thinking that I could actually run far enough to measure. I decided the watch was a good idea so I could see when/where pain presented itself. I went out 1.5 miles and turned around. It wasn't until about mile 2.5 that I felt some discomfort with every step. I felt this was a huge success considering walking was a painful task the last couple of weeks.

Wednesday I went to the office and he checked out my x-ray to confirm what the radiologist had already found - nothing. He felt around my foot assessing pain and explaining where landmarks like the joint, metatarsal head, etc. were located in relation to my pain. I explained my situation and coupled with where my pain was he diagnosed me with capsulitis. Essentially, inflammation of the joint... Which was exactly what I expected. He said bursitis was also a possibility. We ruled out a cortisone shot because while it would help any pain and inflammation he would want me off running another 4 weeks. He was smart/intuitive enough to know immediately that wasn't a good option for me. Ultimately, he prescribed me an anti-inflammatory and this gel stuff called Biofreeze - which is like IcyHot but just stays icy.  We also tried putting foam metatarsal pads under my inserts but they were just awkward.

I'm scheduled to go back in two weeks for a follow up visit. If it's not getting better as he suspects it will then we will do further testing. An MRI, ultrasound, and possibly another x-ray. He said that since I had the x-ray done so early that a stress fracture may not have presented itself yet. However, I'm quite confident that is not what it is (thankfully/hopefully).

I have since put in 10 miles this week and feeling great. Yesterday's run was done on the treadmill since I'm trying to get my miles in on easier terms and the treadmill is great for controlling pace and provides a softer landing than asphalt. The arch of my right foot is a little sore but I have to believe that's from improper gait/stepping over the last couple of weeks to compensate for pain in my metatarsal joint. Either way I'm taking it easy.

Following the Boston Marathon on Monday still has me just as determined about the whole reason I started this blog in the first place. It was an incredible race to say the least.

Also, a few months ago I purchased a pair of Nike Frees, the new minimalist running shoe from Nike. I think I've mentioned before how I wanted to try them. I used them for one mile on Wednesday and for the entire 3 miles yesterday. The difference is amazing. The Nike's just feel so much more natural on my foot. More on that soon ...

Apr 13, 2011

Let Me Count The Ways

Whenever the discussion of running comes up with non-runners I often get the same reactions - "ugh, that's torture", "I don't know how you actually enjoy that", "I tried running but I get so bored".  Mostly I just chuckle to myself and realize that there's no way for me to make someone understand it's greatness through words.

When I first started running it was sometimes torture, I'm not sure I enjoyed it, and I don't know that I ever really called it boring. For me it was about losing weight and reaching new goals. I originally used running as a means of creating progress in my life.  I could measure that progress in miles and pounds. Running has become so much more for me over the years than a way to lose weight and adding miles to my log. Running is my sanity.

This is the second time in my relatively short running career (~5 years) that I have had to take more than 3 days off due to injury. I find my self reflecting on my journey more and my appreciation for the activity  grows immensely.

Why do I love running so much? That's hard to put my finger on and put into words. The following is an excerpt from Kristin Armstrong's new book "Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run" which I think puts it beautifully:

     "It's like asking why we love who we love.  We love them because of all the precious moments we have spent together, because of all the intimate ways they understand us, the subtle acts of kindness and grace they offer us, they way the accept us-good and bad-the way they offer us insight when we are stuck in a bad place, the way they keep us humble, and make us feel great all at the same time, the way their presence is our insurance that well will never be numb... because we are at ease in their company, because we love them even when we don't like them, because we like ourselves better when we're with them, because they lead us to our trues selves. Because we can't imagine not."
     "If running were a person, that paragraph would be my love letter. Running has taken me in and continues to comfort, heal, and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways. I am not a good runner because I am me; I am a good me because I am a runner"

Apr 10, 2011

Bump In The Road

Well it's been a couple weeks since my last post. Things have been going really well. I've been getting my mileage up; currently up to 26 miles/week with a 10 mile long run. I've been playing it smart and by the book.  I've been lifting regularly and mixing in some spinning. Smooth sailing if you will. They say "no news is good news" so I suppose that's why I fell off the blogging wagon for a hot minute.

Well I've got news.

Towards the end of an easy run last Wednesday (3/30) I felt a strange pain in my right foot when I was climbing hills. I didn't really think much of it and it only lingered for a very brief time after I got home. Thursday I had an easy 4 miles and got a little concerned when the pain presented itself again randomly. I had a 10 mile run planned out for Friday and the idea of scaling it back didn't even cross my radar because the pain was minimal and pretty inconsistent. The 10 miles went smoothly with a only a small amount of pain in the last couple of miles but nothing to write home about. Saturday was an off day and I had 4 miles on Sunday. I ran Sunday night after I got home from class and the pain in my foot began to send some red flags. The last mile or so I had my toes curled, which seemed to help the pain go away. The pain persisted for quite some time after the run and I was concerned.

Luckily the following Monday (4/4) was a scheduled off day for me which I always welcome with open arms, but especially so given the recent turn of events. Tuesday turned out to be an incredibly busy and productive day that also involved zero running. I felt only slightly guilty because I knew I could switch my schedule around in still get in all my miles in for the week and another rest day couldn't hurt. Wednesday morning I woke up and my foot was sore the moment I walked from my bed to the kitchen. Needless to say I knew something was wrong.

The pain is in my right foot and at first was more superficial and less localized. It felt like it was somewhere over the 3rd metatarsal and between the middle of my foot and toe. As it has progressed it feels deeper and more localized to the joint between the toe and metatarsal. The pain occurs mid step when my toes and pad of the foot are pushing off to take a step.

I still don't have a primary care doctor here yet so I went to the urgent care down the road to get checked out. My biggest concern was that it could be a stress fracture in my metatarsal. This doctor felt around my foot and I jumped when he squeezed the joint I mentioned above. He wrote me a prescription for an x-ray because he felt that if it was a stress fracture in the joint that it would be better for a more trained eye to read the x-ray ... so I was off to the hospital. After hours and a million hassles later I had an x-ray done. I realized that had I just gone to the ER I would have been in and out with a definitive diagnosis in less time than it took me to jump through all the different hoops of the health care system. After the x-ray I had to go home and just wait.

The urgent care doctor called later in the afternoon to inform me that there was nothing abnormal on the x-ray and that there was no stress fracture. I hung up with the doctor more frustrated than I anticipated. So if it wasn't a stress fracture what the heck is it? Why does my foot hurt and most importantly.. now what? After a bunch of grumbling and tantrums I came to the conclusion that whatever it is, there's no way it would get better by running through it.

After doing some research I have temporarily self diagnosed myself with metatarsalgia.  I don't know for sure that's what I have but it fits best. I couldn't get an appointment with a podiatrist until the April 20th. So until then this is what I'm going with.

One week ago today was the last time that I've been out for a run. I miss it (understatement). It really sucks because I'm finally getting my mileage up and the idea of having to start all over again is enraging and dreadful.  Luckily, I've been able to stay active by going to spin class without pain but it's just not the same. Don't get me wrong it's a great workout but it just doesn't do justice to a good run. I've been icing and taking anti-inflammatorys to help dull the pain that now comes just while walking.

The most frustrating part is not knowing exactly what is going on. I would be more willing and able to embrace not running if I had a steadfast reason to. Instead I feel like a lazy wuss who is making excuses. I can't run because my foot hurts.. wahhhh. I could absolutely run through this pain. It wouldn't kill me. I would be miserable but it could be done. BUT what good would that do? In reality I'm playing it smart and trying to think long term.

Earlier this week I couldn't even wear my regular running shoes because it hurt my foot too much. I wore my Nike Frees which gave them a little more room. I'm finally able to wear my regular running shoes without pain (progress!) and I replaced my old inserts to help provide more support in the ball of my foot.

I'm going to take it week by week because that's the best I can do... physically and mentally. Tomorrow I am going to attempt a run depending on how the rest of today goes and how my foot feels in the morning. Something flat and easy. We'll see. I'm not going to push it. I'll keep you posted.

Goals while nursing the mystery injury:
1. Play it smart
2. Stay active / keep fitness up / don't get fat
3. Stay positive
4. Don't have a mental breakdown

As a side note anyone have any experience with this kind of foot pain?