Snaccidents and Clam Night and Running, Oh My

I have been thinking a lot about my diet. Here are the reasons why.

1. I’m reading Scott Jurek’s book Eat & Run, and while it’s certainly not selling me on a vegan diet—the prep work! the tofu!—it is making me think that maybe I’d be a better runner if I would consistently put some thought into what I eat. Not winning-Western-States better. (Or even finishing-Western-States better. Or even thinking-about-ever-attempting-Western-States better. Just, better.)

2. I had some serious snaccidents* last week.

“Who eats an entire [nine-serving] bag of Smartfood in two days?!?” says astounded fiance. “You are forgetting that, before we dated, I was known to take down entire [same-size] bags of Jax [off-brand cheese doodles] in a single sitting,” says me.

Then, late Saturday night, I ate quite a bit of cheese, though I had help with that, at least.

This week, I felt less svelte. I don’t weigh myself often enough to know if that is mental or not, but surely, that much cheddar (on popcorn and straight-up) cannot be good for one’s svelteness.

3. This morning I was supposed to run a challenging but totally doable workout that included some time at roughly half-marathon pace and some hill sprints.

But last night I went to the Mercantile Club for Clam Night.

(“The Merc” = a mysterious members-only Emmaus institution I’ve always wanted to experience. You need to know a guy to get in. Literally—you must have a key card to open the door. Look at their effing website. When I got an invitation to go, I could not pass it up.)

At Clam Night, one orders a dozen clams, which come with brown butter, then saves the excess butter to pour over the crab cake sandwich, which comes with chips. And you’ll need some lager to wash it all down. (Yum!)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that did not sit so well, and a totally doable workout became an EPIC BATTLE. Meghan vs. Stomach! (Spoiler: I won. But Stomach racked up a few points along the way.)


 

Basically, I should probably try to eat better, consistently. I would run better. I would feel better. I don’t know that I would look better—I got pretty gaunt last year, somehow, like see-photos-of-yourself-and-say-“yikes” gaunt—but two out of three ain’t bad?

But here is the thing:

I LOVE FOOOOOD

So much of my identity is wrapped up in eating with reckless abandon. I founded The Ravenous Runner. My future in-laws tell people I’m a “good eater,” and they mean it as high praise. And I like not worrying much about what I eat.

I only have X amount of mental stamina per day. I can spend it on working out (which I am now sometimes doing TWICE a day, meaning run + soul-suckingly-boring PT exercises at the gym) or eating the right things. I’ve never managed to do both at the same time, at least not for long.

And I never want to be the person at the party who is like, “no dessert, please,” or “I’d like a Michelob Ultra, please, and just one.” BECAUSE THOSE PEOPLE ARE NO FUN. And because I don’t want people to think I’m trying to eat better for appearance reasons, because I wouldn’t be, but all the ladies would think I was, because assumptions and stereotypes.

And here is the other thing: There is a big difference between knowing how to eat well and actually doing it. I have the “knowing what I should be eating” part down. Just not the “actually doing it more than half of the time” part.

Halp?

*My friend Rebecca deserves full credit for this term. I would link to her blog or her Twitter feed but she doesn’t really update either one so, oh well.

EXPECTO PATRONUM

The only way to get into Hogwarts at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to go on the ride that takes you through the castle. Of course, I went on it, despite the not-so-clear description on the Universal website:

Then get ready to soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter™ and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with an array of magical creatures! This amazing new attraction uses groundbreaking, state-of-the-art technology (and a little magic) to create a one of a kind ride experience.

What this really means: It will be dark, and things will jump out at you.

Before the terror, with the conductor of the Hogwarts Express.

Long-term readers may recall from my last trip to Orlando that I’m not really fond of things jumping out at me in the dark.

The things that jump out at you include: A dragon, who breathes “fire” as you’re hit with a blast of warm air; Aragog, the giant spider, who spits water at you; and a group of dementors, Grim-Reaper-like creatures who “suck out your soul” (i.e., the room gets all cold).

By the time the dementors showed up, I’d shut my eyes and was screaming like I’d just seen…well, a giant spider. I’d had enough being startled for one ride, thanks.

So, that being said, I will admit that I may have yelled a spell from the books in order to get the dementors to buzz off. (It worked! …but only because Harry Potter appeared just seconds after I cast the spell to cast the same one. Expecto patronum, indeed!)

Still, the flying simulation portion of the ride was amazing, and despite my terror, I’d go on it again. (Perhaps I’d even keep my eyes open the second time around.)

The Harry Potter park as a whole exceeded my expectations. I felt like I was in the movie. (Not the books–I’d envisioned Hogsmeade and Hogwarts a bit differently–but this was still amazing.) It was super-detailed: The ATM even had a sign that said “Gringotts Automated Teller Machine” over it. And I drank a butterbeer from a commemorative cup:

Tastes like cream soda.

I’ll save the rest of the trip for a different post. This particular day, specifically the part of the day spent in the Wizarding World, was one magical highlight.

What if I’m destroying my body?

I came across some troubling research on the lady-runner front today: A new study found that healthy-weight women who exercised vigorously five or more hours a week (e.g., marathoners) had a harder time getting pregnant than moderate exercisers.

Immediate (and important) disclaimer: I do not want to have a baby any time soon.

However, this still bothers me. Having-the-babies is a normal function of the female human body. If running-the-marathons makes it so you can’t have-the-babies…maybe my “healthy” hobby (and my related “healthy” goal of eventually completing 50 marathons in 50 states) is not so healthy after all.

On the same note, I’ve had some issues with amenorrhea (TMI?), likely brought on or exacerbated by my running. I’m planning to bring this up with my doctor, and I suspect she will say something like, “What are you eating?” (It’s often associated with anorexia.) And I will say something like, “Well, last night I ate an amazing cheeseburger.” (Because I love cheeseburgers and eat them regularly.)

My order from Beefy King in Orlando. That cup holds a cherry milkshake. (Not pictured: The fruits and vegetables I do, on occasion, consume.)

I most certainly don’t have an eating disorder, nor do I have any kind of exercise addiction. I just like to run, and I like to have goals and tackle new challenges.

But, I also like to have a healthy, fully-functioning body. If I have to choose between the two, that one’s going to win.