Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mirena Confusion: Running and Birth Control

Heyyo, I have not written a blog in a long, long time since I have been far too busy with classes, my internship, running, and a little bit of working.  I suddenly have a lot more time now that classes finished up this past Friday.  With this sudden free time, I want to talk a bit about IUDs.  I thought the Mirena was my BFF, but it turns out, it was probably more like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, feeding me Kalteen bars while telling me they will help me lose weight.

Image result for mean girls protein bars

I have been frustrated with my fitness so far this year.  While I have been running pretty well, I am far from feeling like the finally tuned machine of last year.  Of course, some of this is easily explained by a move, new coach, and grad school, but as of a couple months ago, I felt like there was still a big piece missing from the equation.  I have been about 10 pounds over race weight (and 5-8 pounds off my usual training weight) this entire school year.  Usually my body gets done there naturally, but I have had a hard time the last three years.  It made sense to me coming off surgery, but this spring I started to get really irritated.  No matter what I did, my body was stuck at a weight that felt much too heavy for racing fast.  I checked in with our team nutritionist, badass steeplechase Olympian Rasa Troup.  We added more protein to my diet, had me start eating more frequently, and made sure I was getting the right balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.  While my energy felt evenly distributed, I still wasn’t shifting to my usual racing body.

Which is when we talked about birth control.  In the past, I have taken low hormone birth control pills, but around the time I had hip surgery 3ish years ago, I had a Mirena IUD put in.  The doctor told me weight gain was not one of the side effects, and it would probably work well for my sensitivity to hormones because the Mirena hormones are localized.  However, Rasa said that despite what doctors report, she has seen large increases in weight in some people.  While a 1 or 2% weight change may not be statistically valid in medical trials, it can represent a large impact on women who are trying to compete at an elite level.  I did a little more research into the Mirena, and found that some of the great side effects, like no period, happen because the device is tricking your body into thinking its pregnant.  Unlike pills, the hormones are constant. 

My IUD keeping me at my current weight makes so much sense.  Even last year, when I had no stress and enough time to pay attention to all the details, I couldn’t get more than 5 pounds off my usual race weight.  When I took two recovery weeks at the end of the season, my weight bounced back to my current weight after only a couple days. 

I want to feel comfortable running fast, so I got my IUD taken out six weeks ago.  I didn’t feel much difference until this past weekend when I got my period.  Now that my body realizes it’s not pregnant, I’m hoping it feels okay getting ready to race.  It’s still too early to tell, but I will update with any further conclusions.

A few more thoughts on birth control: If you are using birth control, and it’s working well for you, awesome.  I think the world is a lot better place now that women can have more control over when they get pregnant.  I also think when women are using their bodies for something that require a low percentage of body fat, they should be given full information about their birth control options.  We do not have a lot of information about the exact consequences of birth control on, say, high level athletes (cause why would anyone want to study that?), but, at the very least, I should not have been told with such certainty my body weight would not be affected.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Goal Setting for Anytime of the Year

            I have never really bought into New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because it conjures up images of unrealistic goals which quickly crash and die.  Some people make goals to run for an hour every day when the last time they ran was six months ago.  No wonder gym parking, which were crammed the first few days of the new year, are back to normal traffic by mid-January.

              Many companies take advantage of our insecurities, especially at this time of year, and I get sick of hearing how I can lose x amount of weight without changing my lifestyle, simply by buying a magical product.

Image result for sensa 30 pounds image

         I really like setting goals, and I like the idea of everyone being prompted to reflect on what they want to accomplish in the next year, all at the same time. 

             If you are going to make a NYR, let’s talk about how to set some good ones.  Good goals don’t necessarily mean you will succeed at accomplishing them.  As a runner, I set all kinds of goals; some of them are successful and some are a complete failure.  But good goals are realistic changes in our daily life, which improve our well being.  I don’t think adding Sensa to all of my meals would improve my well-being, but I haven’t tried it.

My three pieces of advice are:
  •      Write Outcome Goals and Process Goals.
  •      Tell at least one person about your goal. Even better - have them work towards similar goal.
  •      Put goals in a visible place and check in to see progress.

Outcome and Process Goal-Setting

                As a society, we talk a lot more about outcome goals, meaning the exact accomplishment we would live to achieve after hard work.  We learn these goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound).  This past year I made a goal of wanting to PR in the 1500m and the steeplechase during the 2016 track season.  I was able to PR in the 1500m by 5 seconds, but fell 10 seconds short of setting a new best in the steeplechase.

                What folks often think less about the steps they have to take to achieve outcome goals.  Process goals are about the things you are going to do to set yourself up to achieve your outcome goal.  I came up with a lot of process goals for the 2016 track season including stretching for 20 minutes 5x per week and getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night.  These goals were much more flexible for me. They served as guides for how I wanted to live while pursing my dreams.  Getting enough sleep each night wasn’t in and of itself a difficult goal for me, but it was part of what I needed to do to race well.

Tell Someone

                I believe I have a fair amount of self-discipline, but it’s funny how easily I can allow myself to binge-eat Oreos when I haven’t told anyone about my goal of eating a balanced diet and minimizing processed foods.  Last year, when I told my family and close friends I was cutting out desserts and alcohol going into the Olympic Trials, it was almost impossible to break my goal because they would have called me out.  Even more helpful was my fiancĂ© was kind enough to join me in my goal, so I didn’t have to watch him enjoying all my favorite things while I tried to stay strong. 

Image result for goal setting image holistic


                Lofty goals can include a lot of moving pieces; I’ve found that when I write down my goals, and put them in a visible place, I’m more likely check in with my process and outcome goals to see how I’m doing.  In the future I want to try setting aside time, maybe twice a month, to reflect on my progress, and if I need to add, tweak, release any goals.