Love And Spaghetti Squash And Jeans

Today’s I am proud of myself because: of how open and brave I was that day in the park when I met USB.  At that point in my life, I was truly convinced that I was unlovable, romantically speaking.  That no one would ever want to be with me. Sure, there were parts of myself that I liked.  But I thought that I was just too weird for anyone else to ever like those elements of me.  I wanted to meet someone.  I was 20 years old, about to start my senior year of college and had never had a serious relationship.  I had made out with a few boys.  But that was about  it.  Nothing ever clicked.  With USB, everything clicks.  I didn’t know it then, but I think a big part of the sadness I have felt over the last three or four years — the constant aching in my chest — was simply because I wanted to share my life with someone.  And now I do. And it is even more wonderful than I imagined.

I didn’t do a happy note!  It was really hard for me to change, lol.  But sometimes change is good, as USB has taught me. 🙂

Just wanted to say hello quickly and hear about your weekends!  I haven’t done any full workouts yesterday (Friday) or today.  The social time is infinitely more important for my health.  I probably walked a few miles both days anyways.   I also got in plenty of studying.

Other exciting things:

My first spaghetti squash!

Believe it or not, spaghetti squash has always been a secret fear of mine!  I steamed it in the microwave for about 10 minutes (cut in two halves, with the flat side down).  At first, I took it out and didn’t see any spaghetti!  I freaked out, thinking that I was a spaghetti squash failure.  That, or the farmer had simply sold me a different type of squash by accident.  But then I noticed about a teaspoon worth of “noodles” and scraped those out.  Lo, and behold, the scraping produced more noodles.  So I kept scraping and more and more noodles appeared!  Slowly, a giant smile crept onto my face.  It was great fun.  Seriously, if you’re ever super stressed, try scraping the noodles out of a spaghetti squash.

Totally unrelated, but relevant to the blog as a whole: yesterday, I went shopping.  Clothes shopping.  Clothes shopping is not easy for someone who hates every little part of her body.  I went to a bunch of different stores and kept telling myself over and over again, “you will look fat and horrible in that; you should not even try it on.”  I was starting to get really down on myself.  Eventually, I wound up in a designer jeans section at a discount store.  I am NOT a clothes elitist — I don’t have the money to be — but I truly believe that with things like jeans, and dresses, a really nice brand can sometimes look and feel better, making it worth the price.  I got into my determined mode and said “Caronae, you are going to try on some jeans and find a pair that you like and you will look beautiful and you will buy them.”

And I did.  I found a pair of jeans.  They are Seven brand.  I have never had a pair of Seven jeans before, but these really are quite nice.  I like them a lot, and a tiny part of me thinks I look decent in them.

So there. Take that, jeans.

Time to go find USB! 🙂

What are you all up to this weekend?

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Medical Stuff, Part II, Or “A Slightly Happier Post”

Today’s Happy Note: Perfect fall temperatures!  I’m in love.  The air is warm but also crisp, snappy but gentle.

Marathon Training: We had our first actual “class” of yoga today (I am taking Iyengar Yoga as a P.E. class).  We did not do much at all — it is very, very basic.  We spent the whole hour practicing standing with our feet spread apart and then doing Warrior II, Triangle, and Extended Side Angle.  We finished with some easy bridges.  I wouldn’t call it a workout, but it was a decent stretch that got my hips opening up.  I did about 15 more minutes of stretching and abs afterwards, followed by an easy four mile run.

I didn’t feel awful on the run, but my left hip and hamstring were hurting.  Again.  I really don’t know what to do since it is so inconsistent.  I think that stretching it out a lot helps a bit.  I am praying that it is not present tomorrow for my hill run — running up hills with a hip/hamstring issue is especially hard.  I was supposed to do 6×100 strides at the end of today’s run but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I made a lame attempt at doing two of them before realizing that my body just was not having any sort of speediness.  It was probably the slowest run I have done in a long time; maybe 12-ish minute miles?  The funny thing about this is that I didn’t judge myself for it.  I just acknowledged that I was tired, my body/mind were a little off-kilter, and I was slowly but steadily ambling along.  Just like that, I didn’t care.  I’m proud of myself for that!

In other running-related news: I am ravenous. I am trying really hard to photograph everything because it is VERY useful for me to mentally keep track.  I did well today minus several handfuls (about two servings) of TJs cat cookies, aka animal crackers for grown-ups.

I made an awesome fall feast for dinner!

We have half of a steamed delicata squash smothered in cinnamon, a pile of baked tofu (coated in TJ’s peanut vinaigrette, maple syrup, and ginger) and roasted carrots and okra (coated in EVOO, salt, and pepper).  This is pretty much fall seasonal eating perfection. It was a pretty tasty (and easy!) meal.  Yum.

Medical Stuff, Part II

So.  Yesterday I talked about science and medicine and my body and how the intersections thereof can be a little bit inexplicable.  Read that here. Thank you for all of your kind comments/emails!  It is heartening to know I am not the only person in the world who has these subtle-but-also-overwhelming problems.

Today I kind of want to look at the issue(s) from a psychological/mental health standpoint.

I have always equated being overweight with moral failure.  I never accepted the fact that, for some individuals, there might be other factors at play.  Until it happened to me.

Here I am, 10-15 pounds too heavy.  For me, losing a pound is an uphill battle.  Fought with medieval instruments.  While blindfolded.  And standing on my head.  Okay, you get the picture — it is harder than it should be.  Once my body acquires a pound, that pound is not going to leave without a serious fight. Usually, I just end up psychically wounded and the pound(s) stay(s).

I am so tremendously tired of this.  But here’s the thing: I accept that there are processes happening in my body right now that are beyond my control. Even if there were factors totally within my control (for example, if I were doing serious emotional eating — I’m not, but you get the point), it doesn’t matter: the point is that this emotional battle with my body, at this moment in time, needs to end.

I think that within a few months, possibly after I get things sorted out with endocrinology and gynecology, or after the marathon, my body just might settle back into its natural happy weight on its own (for me this happens to be between 145-155 pounds; I have a medium-sized frame and a fair amount of muscle).

The most important thing for me, in this moment, has nothing to do with science or medicine or numbers of pounds or calories.  It has to do with stopping the judgement and the self-hatred.  Being overweight (ever so slightly) is not a moral failure for me, or for anyone else.  I believe that different people actually have different sizes at which they are healthy.  For me, this size happens to be at the upper end of “normal.”  For some, this might be a bit above “normal.” L was telling me last week how the BMI scale isn’t necessarily considered perfectly accurate or all-encompasing anymore anyways.  I would venture to guess that I am more healthy than a woman who eats mostly processed foods and sits on the couch all day but is at a “normal” weight.  I run ultramarathons, for Christ’s sake.

Kate wrote a lovely post today that really resonated with me, about disordered eating and body-consciousness.  Unfortunately, for many women, these are all-consuming things.  That has certainly been the case for me.  I am not sure I understand why.  Do I think that I will be a more perfect woman if I weigh 145 pounds versus 165 pounds?  Will I become more caring, compassionate, creative, prolific, loving?  I would hazard to guess that the answer is an emphatic “no.”  I am Caronae, no matter what I weigh.  I have an essence beyond my body.  Kate said the following, in describing the hatred, the disordered eating, the obsession that happens to so many women in our society:

“If you don’t understand, it can’t be explained to you.”

So perfect.  So true.  It’s like a club — a club that, sadly, most women are members of.

That was so hard for me to say.  That there is something about me that has nothing to do with my body.  Think about all the things I could be accomplishing if all my physical concerns went away.  I’m going to say it again.

There is something about me, something uniquely Caronae-ish, that has nothing to do with my body, whatever my weight may be. I accept the chaos that is happening inside and outside of me right now.  I accept the stress, the confusing medication regimen, the grueling running schedule, my way of eating, my fucked-up homrones.  I accept all of that.  I accept it because I know that I am something more than that. I might not be exactly sure what this “essence of Caronae” is, but I know, in my heart that it exists.  That she exists.

Carbs, Carbs, Yoga, Macrobiotic

Today’s Happy Note: Going to a restaurant!  Sounds silly, but I hardly ever eat out and tried a most wonderful place with my cousin this evening.

Well hello there friends!  I hope you all had fabulous Friday’s and are ready for the weekend.  Mine wasn’t stellar; too much walking.  I hope my legs aren’t too tired for my ultramarathon tomorrow!  I haven’t mentioned it too much because I wasn’t positive I would do it, but I’m definitely going to try!  Lots of ibuprofen…and carbs.

Speaking of carbs, there have been plenty of them today!

Started the day with some yummy pb and j oats!  Forgot to bring my camera to work so no picture of lunch, but it was two pieces of pizza, a huge cookie, and an apple the size of my head.  Carbs, people.  Carbs.

I hardly ever crave “junk” foods, but today I absolutely had to have some pizza.  I was at an event with free food, but there were only mozzarella sticks and pigs in a blanket.  If I’m going to have an unhealthy treat, it’s going to be one that I really want!  And that pizza had some protein and healthy fats anyways.  And yumminess, of course.  I smeared the giant cookie with almond butter, duh:

The cheese-fest kept me full for over five hours!  Snacked on some trail mix afterwards, then yoga with my cousin at yoga vida.  It was great today.  I walked at least three or four miles throughout the day and the yoga was the perfect ending.  The teacher was fun and creative; we did stuff like tree pose with block’s on our heads and dancer’s standing on blocks, and lots of cool handstand prep.  I LOVE when yoga teacher’s don’t go exactly by the book.  What do you like in a yoga teacher/coach/instructor?

After yoga we went to Souen, a neat macrobiotic restaurant that I have seen many times on someone’s blog, but I don’t know whose!

I had one of the tastiest, simplest meals I’ve had in quite some time.  It was a platter with brown rice, great northern beans, squash, kale, steamed veggies (turnip, carrot) and seaweed (very tasty).

I have a few thoughts about this meal!  First of all, everything worked so well together!  I had it all with a creamy miso-tahini dressing and I was in vegan-food heaven.  I mixed most of it together and it was like a little melting pot of joy.  Secondly, normally I hate rice and kale, but I love them here.  Weird.  I think I am going to give them a try more often.  Oh, and I got to eat it with chopsticks which was super fun!

My cousin had the salmon, above.

I love the macrobiotic concept, although I think many vegans just eat this way in general, so in that sense it’s not “special”.  I would come back to this restaurant in a heartbeat — and I’ll bring friends too!

I have been muncing on dark chocolate and drinking hot cocoa since I got back.  I might still be hungry.

I’m definitely nervous about tomorrow, but knowing that I’ve done it once before helps.  I can do this!  Wish me luck, and see you with the (painful but awesome) details tomorrow evening!

I’m A Dairy-Free Pumpkin Seed

Today’s Mini Goal: Conquer this week’s speed workout.  I can tackle this baby!  I was supposed to do it today but my legs were still tired from my killer weekend (40 miles in 4 days).  Speed work totally overwhelms me, but I have a plan and I will stick to it tomorrow morning!  It’s gonna be Janetha-inspired. 🙂

I have been up since one AM paper-writing, so I apologize if this is a bit incoherent.  I had a really interesting, but challenging, assignment to examine some of the possible negative outcomes of human rationality.  Oh, homework-land.  Such a happy place .

I wrote the paper from one till almost six, so I figured there was simply no point going to sleep (I had slept for about five hours in the evening already).  I made good use of the wee hours by blog-reading and eventually heading out for a rainy 9-miler.  The Reservoir Loop in CP was covered in puddles, mud, sticks, ice, holes: basically, just how I like it!  I adore running on tricky trails, and it was like I had my own personal trail in the center of the city today!  Only three other people were braving the Loop.  Are you a standard streets-and-sidewalks only runner or do you like to get wild with your terrain choices?

In the latter half of the run I had an icky stomach cramp that never really went away.  I had had a giant bowl of yogurt while I was writing the paper, and a lot of dairy the day before too.  I am not positive, but I think this might be the tummy/digestion culprit.  So I am having a dairy-free week!  I am not doing it to restrict or deprive; this is merely an experiment to see if my tummy is happier and less bloated.  Many, many people have dairy issues, and while I have never had a problem, I think my consumption of the stuff has increased a lot lately.

Exhibit A (and B and C…):


The top two photos are from lunch yesterday, which was a throw-everything-into-a-bowl-and-call-it-cereal mess.  I believe that warm cinnamon h2h, skim milk, pb, peanut butter pretzels, trail mix, and coconut are all hanging out in there.  The photo on the bottom left is banana cream pudding (with a sweet potato pie smudgin).  It was the Black History Month dinner at my school, which is one of my most favorite events of the entire year.  I had two bowls of the pudding.  On the right is a bowl containing macaroni and cheese, shrimp and grits, and cornbread.  I also had such delights as yams, green beans, catfish, black eyed peas, pulled chicken, and more cornbread.  Mmmmm.  Needless to say, my evening involved quite a lot of dairy!   Actually, it just involved quite a lot of (tasty) food in general.  I left feeling a bit too stuffed.

BUT today’s clean, lighter eats probably balanced it all out.  Despite the nine miles in the morning, I wasn’t super hungry all day.  I guess my body does really know what it’s doing after all.  I think I actually recorded all my eats today.  I know you are so totally thrilled by this fact and that you can’t wait to see them…

Breakfast: banana chia cinnamon oats with a tall Awake Tea Misto made with soy milk.  Served with a side of philosophy textbooks.

Lunch: giant salad bowl with mixed greens, chicken, cucumbers, peppers, corn, and an oregano EVOO dressing.  Lunchtime perfection.

The apple was consumed with lunch and the randomly thrown together trail mix was my afternoon snack.  It did a great job of keeping me full, actually!  It included chocolate animal crackers, walnuts, macadamia-cashew trail mix, dried fruit, and a little h2h.

I got out of class at six and was feeling snackish, but knew I wasn’t really hungry for my dinner.  Solution?

A few sips of coconut water!  I figured the electrolytes couldn’t hurt.  It did the trick and cured my snackiness.  I don’t actually really like coconut water all that much, but whatever.  Do any of you guys love the stuff?

Dinner consisted of piles of yumminess.  What’s that?  You want to know what said piles of yumminess contained?  Oh alright.  Fine.  The bowl was a spinach salad topped with leftover crumbled lamb burgers, onions, and hummus.  These flavors worked really well together!  On the side we have roasted/steamed squash slices and steamed broccoli.  I like veggies, don’t hate.

And the most important meal of the day?

Dessert of course!  This was a chocolate mint Luna cookie with DCD frosting.  I know I’ve tried one of the Luna cookies before and I didn’t love it, but this was pure deliciousness.  It tasted wonderfully decadent.  Noms all around.

I’m one tired little pumpkin seed right about now (my dad used to call my pumpkin seed!), so it’s off to bed for me.  What did your parents call you as a kid? I was (and, I will admit, still am) variously called pumpkin seed, cupcake, and bunny rabbit.

Sleep and Soup

Today’s Positive Note: I really like my hips.  It sounds kind of weird to say that out loud, but it’s true.  They’re not dainty, and I like them that way.  I think they have enough curve to be feminine without just being large.  Also, odd fact, I really like my hip bones.

I’ve always kind of had issues with insomnia, and, like most of my minor physical dilemmas, it appears most often during times of stress.  Transitioning between home (Michigan) and school (New York) is by no means difficult for me — I’m quite used to it by now — but there remains something stressful about it.  I can’t quite name it.  It’s almost a very deep, visceral physical reaction.  Like my body knows something that my mind doesn’t, which I actually find quite impressive.  Anyways.  Dear sleep, please come back soon.  Love, Caronae.

Speaking of sleep, it’s my reason (excuse?) for not running today.  Monday was strength, yesterday was four miles, and today was supposed to be a six mile fartlek.  But, after falling asleep during all my classes today, stumbling around campus in a sleepy stupor, and barely having the energy to cook my dinner, I knew it wasn’t gonna happen.  I thought about getting up to do it this morning, but I had only slept for five hours.  My goal is to do (some of) my mountains of reading tonight, do a little yoga for some movement, and go to bed early.  Not following my training plan exactly kinda makes me anxious, but I think I’m doing the right thing (I was supposed to have a rest day later this week, so I’m really just moving things around a bit).

Mountains of reading.  That’s about half of my textbooks for the semester.

One of my professors made a very bizarre, slightly irritating comment in class today.  We were looking at some texts that were early proponents of some form of human rights (think Hobbes, Locke, Kant), and she started explaining this theory of rights in which our ability to make rational, purposeful decisions makes us human, and therefore gives us human rights.  Sounds simple enough, but there’s one obvious flaw: mentally handicapped people who are unable to make their own decisions.  Okay, I’m still with her.  Then she says “and depressed people.  With everybody popping pills these days and being unable to make decisions, that’s another kind of mental handicap.”  I found this very strange.  I’m depressed, not irrational, thank you very much.  And the whole class laughed at this comment too.  Was this a joke that went way over my head?

My mom sent me a package yesterday!  Mostly it was just books, but she also threw in some Pyrex!  Just what I needed (previously, I had to use a pot as a mixing bowl when baking).  Thanks mommy, I love you!

Does getting excited about new bowls make me a nerd?

I’ve been eating lots of yummy healthy things lately to fuel me through my exhaustion.  I don’t think I’ve been eating enough (last night, as I was trying desperately to fall asleep, I decided to add up my approximate calories for the day in my head.  I think it was only 1600.  I actually felt sort of weak, so I got up to eat some cereal.  Much better).

Homemade spicy carrot-squash-peanut-broccoli soup.  Not the greatest, but not half bad for throwing a bunch of random things into a pot.

Butternut squash soup with spinach and toast broiled with goat cheese.  Is it wrong that I like things burnt?

This was dinner tonight: I made the lemongrass chili Thai Kitchen instant noodles and added my own tofu (baked with red pepper, honey, and ginger), bell pepper, and spinach.  I love the little nooks and crannies in the tofu, they soaked up the broth and the flavors wonderfully.  I guess I’m kind of on a soup kick lately?  I’m craving something sweet right now (which always happens after dinner!) so I might go get some frozen yogurt later.  Yum.

Tomorrow is my last day of class for the week!  Happy happy joy joy.

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep?  What helps?

What’s your favorite kind of soup?

Lastly, head on over to Diana’s bake sale for Haiti and bid on something.  I’m baking banana chocolate chip walnut bread, so feel free to bid on that, or anything else!

The Farmer’s Market And A Brief Rant

Today’s Positive Note: I think I’m a good leader.  Sometimes it’s because I’m bossy, but I think I do have a natural tendency to guide others within a group setting, and I try to do without being domineering.  I like to think this is a good character trait!

Run: 5 miles (1 warm up, ~2 tempo, ~2 cool down).  the tempo was more like 2.3 and the cool down 1.7 to make it an even five.  I did it all on a treadmill again.  What’s up with my little indoor-runnin streak?  Weird.  I also did 15 minutes of arm weights, and got in a solid number of moves and reps.  I should have taken a picture of my lunch because it was so delicious, but I forgot.  It involved pumpkin butter, almond butter, and chocolate chips.  All between two slices of bread.  Can you guess what it was?  I get serious chocolate cravings the week of my period.  I’m sure there’s no scientifically proven connection here, but I eat more chocolate that week than the rest of the month combined, easily.  I have learned that trying to deny the chocolate beast will only make things worse, so I try to incorporate little bits into my day here and there.  It’s a pretty good strategy.

Today was Farmer’s Market Thursday on my street!  This always makes me happy.  I acquired salad greens, a delicata squash (since I always see them on Stef’s blog), a sweet potato, and my usual ten billion pounds of apples.  Still no sign of Ronnybrook farms for my milk though.  Sad. 

I have seriously been so spoiled by the CENYC Farmer’s market system.  I’m an addict.  I would go get fresh produce and bread every day if it were right outside my door.

Mmmmm, squash.

And now for some slightly less happy talk.  At least, not food-related or running-related talk.

I was inspired to write about one of my perceived “flaws” after reading this post from HangryPants.  If you don’t want to listen to me talk about my weight, my body-image issues, or some minor medical things, I recommend that you skip this section.

I have always been very strong, and I was never “thin”.  I was always very fit and never fat, but I was not a skinny kid (unlike my sister; boo genetics).  I had very early symptoms of puberty, probably from the time of eight or nine.  My mom kept me in swimming and gymnastics, hoping to delay the onset of my period.  I was typically intensely active 15-20 hours a week as a kid/adolescent.  This was actually quite a good strategy on her part, and it prevented me from getting my period too early (both of my parents are doctors).  This may all sound very random, but she had a suspicion from my very early onset puberty that I might have PCOS.  Lo and behold, my astute mother was right.  She did me a huge favor by making sure I didn’t begin my period too young; I suspect that if this were the case, the PCOS symptoms would have become much worse and I would probably have ended up overweight (I don’t really understand the science behind this, but whatever).  I was officially diagnosed with PCOS when I was 17 and I saw a gynecologist for the first time.  There is no treatment, per se, other than taking birth control pills to maintain a regular, strong cycle.   

A majority of women with PCOS are either overweight or obese.  The reasons for this are complicated, and involve various hormones and insulin.  I myself am a bit insulin resistant (I have had fasting blood sugars of 130-150 multiple times.  This is not good.) and must be careful about how I eat.  Some women with PCOS become infertile, but because I started taking birth control pills from a relatively young age, this is unlikely.  There are many other symptoms, most of which are typically things you would associate with an excess of testerone, i.e., lots of hair growth, acne, and an increased risk for a wide variety of other diseases.  Anyways, my point here is not to give you a lesson in PCOS.

I have had “body image issues”, to put it delicately, for the last several years of my life.  I have always felt fat (even though that really hasn’t been the case).  But today, as I settle fully into my adult body, I realize that truth betold, while I am not bigger than most women, I am at the very upper range of what is considered an acceptable BMI.  To put the numbers concretely, I am 5’7 and weigh 155 pounds (my weight fluctuates between 148-158, ideally I’d like to stay at the low end of this range).  I am not trying to justify my body-hatred (I’m really working on getting over this), but I am trying to explain where it comes from.  There are weeks where I run 40-50 miles.  I cross train.  I lift weights.  I eat what I onsider to be a wonderful diet (although I am by no means perfect) full of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and grains.  It is not unusual for me to eat 7-10 servings of fruits and veggies a day.

So basically, I follow all the rules.  I exercise (sometimes too much, even).  I eat wonderfully.  I even try to take care of my spirit.  But because of the PCOS, I doubt that I will ever weigh 130 or even 140 pounds.  I will never have a BMI in the low or middle range of acceptable.  And slowly, I am coming to terms with that.  I can’t even begin to describe to you how hard it is for me to lose weight.  The only time I remember actually losing weight like a normal person was when I was eating 1200 calories a day of basically fruits, veggies, and cottage cheese.  I was not a happy person then!  Have you ever heard of marathoners and ultramarthoners losing a few pounds (sometimes even 10+ pounds) after a long run?  Well I have done many a long run (15+ miles) and this would never happen to me.  In fact, I once weighed myself before and after a long run as an experiment, and I believe I gained three pounds.  To put it politely, this is how screwed up my metabolism is.  But this is also the way my body works, and I am not going to get another one. 

Additionally, I take an anti-depressant which most liekly also makes me gain weight easily.  Not being on this medication is not an option right now, and I’m okay with that.  I also don’t have the greatest genetics when it comes to weight and body shape.  My mother, if I recall correctly, was unable to eat for a large portion of her pregnancies.  Despite not taking in any food, constantly throwing up, and surviving on IV fluids for weeks on end, she still piled on the pounds.

So there are a variety of circumstances in my life that seem to have determined my body shape and size.  I can either tell myself that I am healthy and beautiful, which are both true, or I can wallow in the fact that I’m not thin.  I am making a conscious choice to see my body in a positive light from now on.  I do what I can do.  I don’t need to weigh 130 pounds to be healthy, happy, or glowing.  In fact, I think I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life right now.  And I weigh 155 pounds.  I think I’ll survive 🙂