Dec 27, 2007

balance

this is something i've always strived for but never seem to attain. and so because it has always been so elusive to me, i especially love it when little moments of balance appear in my life.

i found some balance this christmas, when i finally acheived the perfect place of not so many gifts under the tree i was embarrased by the excess, and so few i was wrought with guilt. i have been known to go to both extremes. and that's just it. i am a woman of extremes. its all or nothing. there is no in-between.

we had a mid-ride breakfast spread out on our table the other morning, a friend of mine, who knew about my ongoing battle with dairy and now, all things sugar-free asked how things were going; and, motioning to the table full of food - asked what i could eat. i replied by saying i could eat anything i wanted. but then i wanted to elaborate, to explain more. but it wasn't the time. and i still hate talking about food. my consumption of it and relationship with it in particular. i would have explained that i suppose i could eat anything i wanted. but mostly, what i want now is healthy, whole food that keeps me in this place. this place i was never sure i'd ever get to.

this food experiment has not been about replacing one obsession (non-dairy) with another (sugar-free), but all about getting back into balance; which required remaining dairy free and becoming sugar free for a while. dairy was never the issue, and i know that now. but dairy, by nature is hard to digest - and because my intestines were such a mess, it was doubly hard. once eliminated, it made a very immediate & positive impact. and so i rightfully thought problem solved. but not so much. the symptoms remained. i couldn't figure out why. i went to three doctors and had oodles of tests. no doctor ever, ever asked me about my diet. and no doctor could ever figure out what it was. which pissed me off.

and so i spent my days while training for a marathon being afraid to eat so many things - worried about the gastrointestinal consequences i may face on the run the next day. or, i was so stressed by the air of panic and doubt over running and qualifying that hung over me like a cloud that i just didn't eat. i've never been one to turn to comfort food when stressed. rather, i just wouldn't eat at all. the maniacal pacing i did in our hotel room on marathon morning spoke volumes about my stress level. landing on the sidewalk and then in an ambulance just turned the volume up full blast.

fast forward to working with a health counselor for the past seven weeks. my system is no longer a toxic, imbalanced mess. and subsequently, neither is my head. okay. i'm still a little bit crazy and intense, but i'd like to think its been dialed back just a weensy notch and i am on a slightly more even keel.

becoming sugar free for a while is what my body needed to purge itself of all the toxins. they had nothing to feed on once the sugar was gone. i kept a food log and a fatigue log throughout the days. the fatigue log was a scale of 1 - 10, ten being exhausted. the first few weeks, my numbers were all over the place. i was a rollercoaster of exhaustion and energy. there was always a huge spike in numbers in the middle of the day. but now? now i can see the balance plain as day. the number is the same. all day long. sure, i may write a higher number down on some days - but i also may have run 19 miles that day.

i had my first scoop of ice cream in a year the other day. it was on top of a brownie & topped off with homemade fudge sauce. it was sublime. i've had greek yogurt. i've had pizza. pizza, people. dripping with cheese. and none of it resulted in any unpleasant gassy bloaty poopiness. i've gone to dinner parties and not been in a panic over whether there was dairy in anything. i finally, finally feel like a normal person. i hated that friends would ask what i could & couln't eat. and while it was lovely and thoughtful, i hated that they'd go to the trouble of making sure things were dairy free, or "zanne-friendly". but i hated more the gassy bloaty poopiness that made my running and my life a pain in the ass, pardon the pun.

i can eat now without fear of the unpleasant and painful gastrointestinal consequences. i have learned how to stave off any consequences and get myself back in balance when i do indulge. and i realize that i've acheived a level of balance when my husband says to me that for the first time in years, that i go to bed and no longer announce that i feel like crap. he can no longer hear the crazy grumblings of my stomach from the next room (and they were not grumblings of hunger, but that of toxins - making me miserable). i wasn't even aware that i went to bed every night and made this arbitrary announcement. i haven't said it in seven weeks. as far as i am concerned, jen is a miracle worker.

i have learned to apply the same structure with which i follow my running schedule to other areas. i won't die if i take away just a bit of the intensity over the running and put it somewhere else. the running still happens. it is amazing what happens when that panic and doubt are not hanging over you. you can just run. because you love it. and then you can do other things too. it all just happens. it all starts to come together.

i'm not saying that i've reached any sort of nutritional nirvana here and that by eating good food i find myself living in camelot. i was stressed to the max over errand running, gift buying, cookie baking, meal making, guests arriving and children fighting. the good food and balanced intestines don't make me hate mile repeats any less. and i still can't figure out how to get my laundry done in a timely manner, unless my mother comes to stay for a bit and does it for me. and i can take my part-time-work-from-home job to new levels of unproductivity. i am a work in progress. there's always more work to be done. there's always room for improvement. i'm just saying that i have seen how little bits of balance have eeked into my life. and i like it. i have learned things i never expected. i am amazed at how a balanced nutritional life translates into other aspects of life. and i think that maybe, just maybe i am getting a weensy bit closer to finding that in-between. that balance i have been looking for for so long. and that is a nice way to end a year and go into a new one.

my ducks are almost all lined up.

8 comments:

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Let's see, what will do this justice?

WOW.

CONGRATS.

And I probably needed to hear all that. At least I don't have m&m's in my mouth as I am reading. It's probably time for my own overhaul.

I'm so glad you found this place. Couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Amanda said...

I know as I started eating more healthfully I really did feel better about everything. Of course I have fallen off the wagon and been run over by three or four trucks in the ast weeks with my crazy food intake.

But it's good to hear how it's working for you and it makes those of us who haven't yet figured it all out feel a little better about doing it.

CONGRATULATIONS! What great strides you've made all year...that has to be very fulfilling.

monicac2 said...

Balance is so elusive. I have veered between complete abstinence from sugar (which resulted in my losing 10 pounds and literally looking borderline anorexic) to being on a sugar binge (in which I look normal (as my mother in law said, "You look better. Your face is fuller."), but feel out of control. After saying that I was going to "go back on no-sugar" the other day, I thought about it, and then said, "Maybe not. What I really need is to learn how to eat sugar/eat junk in moderation."

And that seems to be what you have learned to do. Congratulations - how freeing!

Laurie said...

I've been following your journey since your last marathon. I am happy to read that things are lining up for you so well.

You are right about balance being elusive. Great job putting in the hard work to find it.

house on hill road said...

i am so proud of you. you really do inspire me, suzanne.

Christy said...

I know it has been a hard road to follow reading your posts but I must say i am way impressed with your dedication and motivation. way to go!

Cynthia said...

So nice.

And on this same day, your miracle worker and my dear friend, was at my house treating me to a glorious lunch of yummy healthy whole foods!

Vickie said...

You're still young and learning.