Monday, April 30, 2012

Becoming an Intuitive Runner

At the finish of my 2nd 10K.  Notice the smile
on my face!
Since the start of 2011, I've found that I really enjoy running! I never EVER thought I would say that but it's true. All this coming from someone who swore they would never run again after Jr. High PE.

Why do I like running? First off, I feel really good about myself after a run.  I get this amazing feeling like I can do anything.  Secondly, I find that after a run, I'm more centered, my stress level is down and I feel better throughout the day.

Just like all things exercise in my past, I hit a bit of a drop in my running over the past few months.  Lack of motivation and less free time to run with my great running partner have really had an affect on my workouts. Even though I missed running, for some reason I couldn't get out and do it...even though rationally I knew I would feel better after. 

But after using some of my Intuitive Eating (IE) principles, I think I might have found the answer to my running.  I am pleased to say that I am on my way to becoming an intuitive runner! 

What is intuitive running? For me it starts with this foundation: tune into what my body is telling me before, during and after a run.

Here are some of my self-created principles for intuitive running:

1) Run just to run no matter how fast or how slow.  When I started running, I enjoyed the challenge.  I signed up for a 10K and completed it.  But a funny thing happened when I was running my race. I got really frustrated that I wasn't faster and that people were passing me.  I finished my race and looked at my time and saw that I was in the bottom 2/3rd of all finishers.  I asked myself, "Why can't I run faster?" and instead of enjoying the experience, I was beating myself up for something that was not realistic. From now on I'm taking the advice from my running partner and just running to run.  To let go of the inner dialogue and listen to what my body is telling me.

2) Who says I can't take a break?  I've changed how I run to running for 5-6 minutes and then walking for 1 minute.  It's a modified Jeff Galloway method of running and so far I love it.  I am more energized after each run and I notice that I can go further distances without more effort.  The funny thing is that when I told my wife about this she asked how this could be intuitive running with such a strict structure to your run (My wife is brilliant by the way). It made me think about it and I realized that it is intuitive running because by taking a break I can listen to my body, see how I feel and continue to run without the negative self-talk like, "Why aren't you running faster?"

3) Take a pause to listen to your body.  I've notice that during my runs in the past, I would be so focused on the time and distance that I never enjoying the journey of running.  I especially noticed this during my 10K races.  But when I ran with my running partner, we'd chat about family, food and running and the time would fly by.  It was these runs that helped me enjoy the journey.   I have seen that since I started to take a 1 minute break every five to six minutes, I can focus on how I feel, notice my surroundings and enjoy the experience of running.

Just like Intuitive Eating, my running is a process and just how I counsel clients to embrace the process of becoming an Intuitive Eater, I too am embracing the process of becoming an intuitive runner.  I  am embracing it so much that I am seriously considering doing the 2013 LA Marathon so stay tuned!

As always, I welcome your comments.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Intuitive Eating Experience at Gyu-Kaku

I'm lucky that even though we have 4 1/2 year old twins, my wife and I get to have a regular date nights.  This past weekend we went out to Gyu-Kaku.  We have been there before but not in quite some time so we were excited to try it again.  As we sat down my wife and I began to look at the menu.  We realized quickly that there are a lot of different options when it comes to ordering and for me this very overwhelming.  They have an a la carte menu as well as an all you can eat menu.  As I continued to look at the menu an unexpected thing happened that helped me focus. Our server came by to explain some of the nuances of the menu but before she started, she asked us one very simple question, "How hungry are you?"  

Her goal was to try to assess if we should order the "All You Can Eat" option with a minimum 25 different food items delivered (way for food that either of us really needed).  My first thought was not about my hunger but rather, how do most people answer that question?  Do most of our server's customers really know how much food it will take to fill them up or do they just try to order the most food for the value?   As I thought about it more, I began to really ask myself, "How hungry am I?"  I was hungry but not starving and so was my wife. If I were to put a number to it, my hunger was at about a 6 out of 10. We don't really eat beef or chicken when eating out (that's another post) so we decided to order some fish and veggie entrees. 

If you have never been to Gyu-Kaku, it is essentially a place where you BBQ your entrees at your table. Think Korean BBQ but with tapas-style portions.  As the food was delivered we started to cook. As an Intuitive Eater, I loved how the grill was only small enough to make a small portion of food.  Things were done one at a time and it allowed me time to eat, check in with my hunger after each portion and make sure I was not overeating.  By the time the meal was over (including S'mores for dessert), I checked in one last time and I asked myself, "How full am I?"  I rated my fullness a 5 out of 10.  I was comfortable, not stuff but there were no signs of hunger.  

"How hungry are you?"  It was a simple question but I'm so thankful that she asked us.  It set the whole tone of the meal for me.  It helped me stay focused on my hunger, check in with my feelings and not overeat, which is one thing that can happen when I eat out.  

If you are struggling with Intuitive Eating, a great place to start at each meal is to start to ask yourself, "How hungry am I?"  You'll notice the awareness you develop will help you make choices that are not based on your emotions or your food rules.

Enjoy some of the pictures from my meal and as always I welcome your comments.

Grilling corn, zucchini, salmon and mushrooms

Asparagus and butter fish
Corn, zucchini, mushrooms and salmon
Making smokes at the table