The link between runners and insulin resistance

Have you ever wondered if you were insulin resistant?

We don’t often discuss this as a possibility in the running community, but many times the runner’s lifestyle and diet can lead to mild insulin resistance.  When I struggled with a PCOS-like diagnosis while trying to get pregnant, I learned that my body was likely a bit insulin resistant as well.

So let’s back up a minute.  What are the signs of insulin resistance?

  • feeling tired, hungry or the afternoon “blahs”
  • gaining weight, particularly around the middle
  • hypertension or high cholesterol
  • family history of heart disease or diabetes
  • gestational diabetes

Although I didn’t have most of these symptoms, my body leaned toward insulin resistance.  Post-baby my body again struggled to get back to balance until I addressed it with dietary changes and a better balance of exercise as I’m covering in the runner’s reset.

January reset Strength progressFrom my first Fresh Fix in the spring (left) to December 2015 (right)

My weight didn’t change and I was never “overweight” but my body wanted to hold weight in my belly.

When we eat sugar, refined or processed food, our body requires more insulin to metabolize it and our bodies become less responsive.  Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps to control glucose, or blood sugar.

Normally glucose is carried to individual cells and insulin signals the cells to absorb the glucose and fuel the body.  However, when there is too much insulin released, the body becomes less sensitive to it and blood sugar levels become too high.  This can disrupt metabolism, increase inflammation in the body, and ultimately lead to insulin resistance or early signs of diabetes.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen how common this issue can be among runners, particularly women.

We tend to fuel our bodies with pasta dinners pre-run, bagels post-run, and cupcakes anytime because we ran.  We use gels and gu on long runs and electrolyte drinks. All of these refined sugars and carbohydrates can lead to insulin issues.  Women with insulin issues tend to have strong sugar/carb cravings.

 

Change the food, change the cravingsThe other bad news? Sometimes we’re eating healthy food (like me) but running is teaching our body to store fat for the next run and keeping the hormones imbalanced.

However, carbohydrates are not the bad guys.  Complex carbohydrates, in the form of vegetables, fruits, some whole grains and legumes can help to slow and reverse the process.

What can you do to address it?

  • Simple dietary changes to ensure that carbohydrates have a balanced role in the overall diet with plenty of fiber and protein can balance insulin and help the body get back on track (which can be through a meat-eating or vegetarian diet)
  • A pharmaceutical grade vitamin, Omega 3s and a probiotic (such as what is included in the Vitalizer) is important to help decrease sugar/carbohydrate cravings and balance hormones.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids through diet are also important (salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil)
  • Reduce stress, get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly

greens_farmers_market_1

If you find your body beginning to exhibit any of the above signs, you may want to tweak your diet to prevent insulin resistance.  If you want a personalized plan, message me about nutrition coaching as this is one of the areas that I will be focusing on this year.

 

Are you familiar with insulin resistance?

Have you ever struggled with these symptoms?

Why I’m taking a short running break + Meal Planning

Hey friends,

I hope you’re having a good weekend!  Our runner’s reset group kicks off tomorrow- woohoo!!

A strong spring is made in the winter

Although the runner’s reset includes running, I decided to take a short running break for a few weeks.  There are several reasons.

First, I never took a solid chunk of time off after all the fall racing and even though I backed off a bit, my body is asking for a bit more (relative) rest before diving into half marathon training and 5ks this summer.

Second, one of the signs my body gives me is a little bit of soreness is my left shin and it’s been making itself heard off and on for a month now.  I’d rather take a solid month to make sure it’s happy than start training and have it turn into a problem.

Third, I’ve been focusing a lot on balancing hormones in my body as I’ve prepared for this reset and been reminded that I’ve had issues in the past.  Both times I tried to get pregnant I realized I had some hormone imbalances- especially insulin, cortisol and estrogen, and I’ve never fully focused on them.  I’ll write more about each but for now, it’s easier to address them when running is minimized.

Running doesn't define meI am really missing it already!! But these cold, dark mornings are making it much easier to take a break now and I know it will pay off in the long run.

Workout recap:

Sunday: 5 mile run with the MRTT group

Monday: Cathe’s Super Sets

Tuesday: 4 mile run

Wednesday: strength circuit

Thursday: spin class

Friday: spin class

Saturday:  30 minute strength/cardio circuit

2015-02-08 14.23.47

Meal Plan

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday: Baked Salmon, Roasted Cauliflower and Baked Acorn Squash

Tuesday: Ground turkey butternut squash chili

Wednesday: Easy black bean tacos (crock pot) with Spinach Salad

Thursday: Edamame pasta with Grilled chicken and tomato sauce and/or pesto

Friday: Spaghetti squash with ground turkey and balsalmic green beans

Saturday: Friends over… not sure yet!

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Have you ever chosen to take a running break before your body forced you to?

Reset challengers, are you prepped and ready?!

4 Throw Together One Pot Meals

Life has been busy.  Is it ever not?!

I feel like i keep saying I’m in a phase of throw together meals, but maybe this “phase” is really my new normal post-baby #2.

Moms… is it true? Will I ever get my peaceful cooking days back?

These are a few of my favorite meals that can be thrown together without a real recipe… although I’ll link to some recipes for those of you that like the specifics.

Cabbage Turkey Stew

2015-08-31 05.33.22This recipe was an experiment when I wanted to make a version of my grandma’s cabbage rolls without all the rolling.  I threw ground turkey, cabbage and tomatoes into a crock pot with a little broth/water… delish and SO easy!  It’s great topped with a little feta, avocado and parsley, and/or served over rice.

One Pot Mexican Dinner

2015-02-09 16.33.25

Begin with ground turkey or grass fed beef, onions, peppers and a little garlic.  After it’s sauteed and browned, add in a can of your favorite beans, 1/2 c. cooked rice if you have it, and tomatoes or salsa.  Sprinkle with a little cheddar and eat!

Vegetarian Quinoa Minestrone

2015-02-08 14.23.47

Saute onions and carrots in olive oil with Italian spices- oregano, rosemary, parsley and/or thyme.  Add favorite veggies and broth (I usually throw in freezer veggies like broccoli, lima beans and spinach).  Add a can of beans and cooked quinoa.  Simmer.  Season with salt and pepper and serve!

“Fried” Rice

2015-02-20 17.01.36Drain tofu.  Then chop it in cubes and saute in a little coconut oil.  Set it aside and saute whatever veggies you have: peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli all work well.  Add leftover cooked rice (2-3 cups) and frozen peas.  Season with a few splashes of soy sauce and add a raw egg.  Cook until heated through.

 

Do you have a favorite one-pot dish?

What leftover ingredients do you like to use for a second different meal?

Do your action steps match your goals?

This week I’ve been putting together a simple assessment form for my Reset for Runners participants.  I want everyone to make steps toward success and reaching their goals, but that means we won’t all be doing the exact same thing.

If you want to get stronger, your action steps will be different than if your goal is to get faster.  Or leaner.  Or work on a sweets craving.  Or cook more.  Or find better life balance.  Or whatever other goals you may have for yourself.

Years ago, my fitness goals looked very similar year after year… continue running, sign up for a few races, maybe lose a few pounds or tone up a bit.

The funny thing is, my actions never changed.  I continued to train the same way and eat the same way (mostly healthy).  I assumed I was doing what I needed to do to hit the goals, I just had to wait and see if my body would do it.

I take a different approach now.  I know what steps to take to get stronger.  I’m not always willing to do them, but if I take the goal seriously, then I change my actions.

January Reset 12 minuteStrength workout on vacation

It’s very difficult to work on getting both stronger and faster at the same time.  They compliment each other to a degree, but ideally you want different phases of training.

One phase can work particularly on strength while maintaining your cardio and running fitness.  Another phase can build toward a specific goal race and work on getting faster, while maintaining the strength you’ve built.  For marathoners, a third phase would be focused on distance and endurance.

January Reset run

Since finishing my last race in October, I switched my focus to strength and tweaked my nutrition and I’m seeing improvement.  This time I know it’s not a random side effect of working out it’s because I know what my goal is and I’m taking the steps to get there.

In February, I’ll switch over to working more on speed and running goals, and I know the extra time focused on strength now will also pay off in my running.

So for my challengers, think about what your priority is for our January kick off next week so we can make it work for YOU.

If you’re not joining the challenge, you should do the same with your own fitness goals. Ask yourself…

  • What are my goal races and where do they fit on my calendar?
  • When do I want to work on speed?
  • When do I want to work on endurance?
  • When do I want to work on strength?
  • What specific nutrition changes could I make to support these goals?

 

When you don’t leave it to chance, you are much more likely to nail those goals!

Have a plan for your goals

If you are looking for a personalized nutrition and/or running plan to get there, I’m focusing my health coaching more specifically on nutrition for runners this year.  I will have a few spots as of February and would love to help you make your goals happen.  Email me with questions or to set up a time to talk.

What are some of your fitness goals for 2016?

Have you thought about a specific plan to get there?

Workouts and Meal Planning

Happy new year, friends!

We made pork and sauerkraut yesterday and invited some friends over, which is a traditional PA Dutch meal on New Year’s Day.  Even though it was a day late, it helped me feel like the new year can now begin.  :)

We also had our first bowling outing as a family on New Year’s day.  It was a big hit with L, although we had to chase baby J around for most of it!

Bowling

It’s been so nice to have everyone home for the last ten days or so, but it will also be nice to get back into a regular rhythm… you know what I mean?

Workout recap:  We were all fighting something at the beginning of the week so I took the opportunity to sleep more than usual but am back to normal now.

Sunday: easy 30 minute run

Monday: off

Tuesday: Cathe’s super set

Wednesday: 1 hour spin with intervals

Thursday: 11 mile trail run with the running group

Friday: kettlebell and TRX workout

Saturday: 7 miles with 1 minute hard (5:45-5:55 pace), 1 minute easy x 10

Trail run on new years eveI loved exploring the miles of trails nearby- I would run them much more often if I had partners to go with!

I’m bundling up to meet the Moms Run This Town group this morning… brrr! Winter is finally here.

Meal Planning

Sunday:  Leftover pork and sauerkraut + balsamic green beans

Monday: Veggie Frittata

Tuesday: One pot cabbage turkey stew

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday:  Veggie and Grassfed Beef Burgers + Cauliflower mash

Friday: Family pizza night!

Saturday: Dad and kids are on they’re on- I’ll be at a conference

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Do you have New Year’s Day traditions?

Are there trails near you? Would you run by yourself?

Happy New Year!

 

 

Happy 2016!!

Whether you enjoy setting goals (like me!) or not, here are a few of my favorite quotes that relate to the fresh start of a new year:

 

 

The unimaginable Think you can or think you can't Accomplishment starts with the decision to try Beautiful destinationsMay this year lead you to all sorts of beautiful destinations!

2016 Goals (Continued)

Hi friends!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying some much needed down time! We got back Monday night after spending time with both sets of grandparents and catching up with several good friends.

I didn’t open my computer once! I didn’t plan to stay silent for so long but it was the perfect time to unplug and enjoy our time away.

Christmas

I shared running goals last week, but I also have life, business, marriage and blogging goals to share.  Let’s jump right in!

Life Goals

I want to focus this year on teaching my kids empathy and compassion. More giving, less getting. More sharing of time and resources… we have so much more than we need. And more gratitude.

They are not ungrateful or uncaring but these are important characteristics that I want to pay attention to nurturing in 2016.

I’ve been wrestling with this a lot this year. The culture says to keep up with the Joneses… bigger house, nicer car, stylish brands.

My faith (and experience) tells me less is more… and the rat race for fame or wealth or beauty is not where I want my focus to be.

There are so many needs in our own backyard and abroad… I’m struggling to find the happy medium with how I spend my money and how I live out my values.

So although this isn’t a very clear goal yet, I hope to figure out how to live that a bit better in 2016. To buy more consignment clothing and have the extra to go somewhere more meaningful. To communicate to my girls why there every want is not going to be fulfilled even if we can afford to meet it.

If you have suggestions for me in this area or books or anything, I’d love to hear it.

 

Business goals:

I’m shifting the focus of my coaching this year. I’ve always worked with women looking to get healthier, deal with cravings, clean up their diet and make lifestyle changes- not temporary ones.

Now even more specifically, I want to focus especially on runners who are trying to fuel properly or who have been gaining weight with distance running. I’ll share more on this soon.

I also partnered with Shaklee this year, after doing a lot of research and choosing their vitamins and protein for my family and sharing with clients and friends. What I was not expecting was how much Shaklee loved me back for sharing. Thanks to them, I have a new car…

New carAnd they’re sending Jared and I to a resort in Mexico in March! Our girls are welcome too but I think we’re going to let the grandparents handle them.

I look forward to continuing to grow my team of lovely Shaklee ladies who are helping to transform the health of their own communities and providing income for their families in the process. It’s allowed me to double my income this past year while continuing to work very part time hours.

I want to be mindful and continue to save and provide for my family’s needs but also give generously with what I am given.

 

Marriage goals:

As baby J nears 18 months, we’re settling a little more into a normal family rhythm and have more time for each other. I’m comfortable leaving the baby with others so we can keep our date nights going. But besides date night, keeping the honest communication flowing is key. I feel most connected when we are sharing on a regular basis- the highs, lows and everything in between, both from the day to day stuff and the big picture life stuff.

 

Blog goals:

I’ve had less time than ever before with two kids in the house, but I don’t want to drop the blog. My goal is to continue to share openly, to provide interesting and useful nutrition and running information, and to tell  my own training story.

However, my goal is also not to let the blog run me. I’m posting a bit less these days and skipping out when I have nothing to say, and the balance has felt amazing. So I’ll continue to be here, posting as often as I can but also keeping my computer closed when I don’t have the time or energy.

I’m also hoping to get back to planning out blog posts in advance and procrastinate a bit less.  :)

I can do it

Thank you all for making this space so much fun for me! I am amazed at the community that has come out of blogging – and the many real life friendships that have developed from it.

Here’s to a wonderful new year!!

What’s one of your non-running goals for 2016?

8 Simple Tips for Managing Portions

It’s easier to stay healthy and balanced (even through the holidays) when we’re paying attention to our choices and portions.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Focus on eating whole foods including protein, healthy fats and vegetables.  Aim to eat until you are satisfied, or about 80% full.  Processed foods have addictive components (salt, sugar, fat) and often chemical additives that make it difficult for us to have just one serving size.

2. Eat a solid breakfast and lunch.  Skimping on food the first half of the day backfires.  You end up over eating in the afternoon or evening instead.  You may eat enough to feel satisfied at dinner but your brain is reminding you that you were “starving” all day and tells you to keep going in case you face another similar famine tomorrow.

Flaxseed 

3. Include healthy fats in your diet. This will help you feel satiated longer (and allow your body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins your body needs). Aim for plant based fats, including avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter and ghee. If you’re eating a salad, you’ll feel full longer and absorb more nutrients if you add some fresh avocado or a dressing that includes healthy fat, like olive oil.

 diet coke

4) Skip the artificial flavors and sweeteners. Fake sugars can increase your cravings for sweet foods, making it harder to control portions and serving sizes.

5. Choose smaller plates and bowls. When you put food on a large plate you almost automatically want to try to fill it up and then feel like you need to finish it all.

Studies find that when we have large plates, an appropriate serving looks too small and we want to eat more but eating on a smaller plate helps us feel like we’re eating a plateful of food and we feel more satisfied.

6. Chew well and eat slowly. Take time to chew each bite well.  This gives you more time to enjoy your food and it slows you down so that your body has a chance to register fullness. Ideally without distractions (TV, computer, driving).

 Ear at a table

 

7. Plate it. When we eat out of a bag or container, we grossly underestimate how much we are eating.  Put it on a plate so you can be more aware of how much you are eating and can portion out an appropriate amount.

8. Use your hand to eyeball portion sizes. Measure an open handful of veggies, a serving of protein the size of your palm, and a Tbsp of fat the size of your thumb.

I don’t always follow these rules- sometimes it’s more fun to eat popcorn out of a bag or in front of the TV.  :)  Right? But all the small pieces can add up when you pay attention.

 

Do you think about portions?

What tips do you have for a healthy, balanced holiday?

 

 

Running Goals for 2016

I sat down this weekend to start writing out some thoughts and goals for 2016 and between running goals, life, business, parenting and blogging, it was almost 1000 words!  So I’m splitting these into several parts over the next few weeks, posting when I have time between the holidays!
So much happened in 2015, much of which I was not anticipating at all. It makes me excited for what 2016 has in store!

I’ll start with the running piece, of course.

RW 5k 10k

My first goal is to use January and February to get stronger and fitter… with a special emphasis on nutrition, strength training and metabolic efficiency. These three things are the focus of my reset for runners… I’m so excited for this program!

By February, I’ll be back in training mode for an April half. Half marathon goal: Beat 1:35!

By the end of 2016, I want to inch as close to 1:30 as I can. I’d be thrilled with a 1:32-1:33 half.

I loved taking this past summer to focus on shorter distances so I plan to repeat that again and continue to chip away at my 5k time. Maybe THIS will be the year I’ll finally break 20 minutes?! 5k goal: 19:59!

DSC_3179One of many failed sub-20 2015 attempts!

For the fall, I’m considering throwing a full marathon back in the mix. I need to run that one by the family though. J We’ve all been enjoying the lazier Saturdays with a shorter “long run (it’s all relative, right?!)

But I also feel like I don’t want to be running marathons for the rest of my life, and these are the few years where I might still have potential to run better than I have in the past so I’d love to do one or two more.  But in the near future, I think I’ll be happy to hang up the marathon training and work with the half and shorter races.  Marathon goal: 3:20

Of course, race times are not everything.  I also want to continue to run because I love it!

Cleveland running by the water

My non race goals include:

  • stay strong and injury free
  • do more trail running
  • incorporate 1-2 running weekends with friends (like this past year- so fun!)
  • find a few kids races and/or family fun race events

Run Rise retreat pizza

What running goals are you setting for 2016?

If I go for a fall marathon, race suggestions?

Workout recap and meal planning

How is it the week of Christmas?  How’s everything coming together at your house?

We’re wrapping up a few final things and then we’ll all be off for the ten day break.  We’ll spend Christmas morning here and then head out to see family for a few days.  I love this time of year!

Growing up, we always slept “under the tree” on Christmas Eve (on the living room floor).  I don’t think we’ll keep that one going, but we’re talking about what traditions we can implement for our girls.

Workout recap:

Sunday: 6 1/2 easy run with the MRTT group

Monday: 30 minute weight circuit + 30 minute walk

Tuesday: 6 miles at 7:40 pace

Wednesday: 10×10 workout + 4 easy stroller miles

Thursday: taught 1 hour spin class

Friday: off

Saturday: 10 mile run (no watch)10 mile run

Meal Planning

Sunday:  Kale and Pepper Frittata

Monday: Indian Chicken Curry

Tuesday:  leftovers

Wednesday: Thai chicken lettuce wraps

Thursday:  maybe Quinoa Pilaf with Seared Scallops

Friday: Family Christmas Dinner

Saturday: Ham and Cheese Chicken Roll ups, Mashed/Roasted Potatoes, Green Salad

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What are the plans for your week?

Do you have Christmas traditions?