Trusting My Body

gluten-free runner

As I’ve mentioned, I am a runner. Okay, maybe I’ve never actually said those words here, but I must be honest a few years into this thing: I am a runner. I’ll never be the fastest, the fleetest, the most graceful, but I’ve finally reached the point where sometimes I really enjoy pounding the pavement, and sometimes I feel like I’m floating along the sidewalk.

This surprises me, and I admit I really enjoy training for and running races. The energy I get when I’m surrounded by hundred or thousands of people all trying to achieve the same goal…on their own terms. Sure, there are competitive racers, but there are also people who have overcome incredible adversity and challenges to be at the starting line, and when they cross the finish line, they have truly accomplished great things. Sometimes I cross the line with tears in my eyes as I witness these amazing people raising their arms and celebrating.

Today, as I ran up a hill I’ve run up at least a hundred times, I realized something: my body was doing exactly what it needed to do. Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time futzing over the right gear (shoes, shorts, tops, sports bras, even headphones). I worry about nutrition and hydration (and I actually use those words when talking about running eating and drinking…though I end ever race with a nice bag of potato chips!). I’ve focused on all the external factors, and mastered them to the best of my abiity.

I trust my gear. I trust my nutrition. And today I realized something just plain cool: I trust my body.

For years, I couldn’t trust my body. I *didn’t* trust my body. It would fail me in many ways. I’d sit in meetings, plotting an escape to the restroom, hoping nobody would notice I was practically racing to make it in time. I avoided so many situations because I knew my body would fail me; it did, so often, in so many ways. There was no way I could go on a three-mile run, much less a ten-mile run. I couldn’t trust my body.

As I moved slowly and steadily up that hill this morning, my confidence in my body was a given. It’s probably been there a long time, but I guess that’s what trust is all about: you know your body will perform as expected…or even do amazing things when you least expect it.

This isn’t a gluten-free miracle. I’ve worked hard, hard, hard to get to this point. But my journey started the day I eliminated gluten from life. As my gut healed, as my energy returned, as my brain started focusing on possibilities, I redefined my view of a healthy life. My only regret is that it took so long for me to figure out what was holding me back from living my life.

When people ask if I miss gluten, I can honestly say I don’t. It’s not a part of my life, it’s not something I think back on with fondness. I see other people eat cake, cookies, sandwiches, pizza whatever, and I hope they’re enjoying their meals, but I don’t feel envy.

It’s sort of weird, sitting here and realizing that I am probably the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever been in my life. Knowing that I can trust my body to do what I need it to do. This is my gluten-free life, and I love it (even though my legs are complaining about that last hill I made them climb).

Tip of the Week

Part of discovering that I (finally!) trust my body not to let me down included discovering how certain other foods impacted me. I discovered dairy and I need to be friendly, but not bosom buddies. I learned that rice is better in small doses. And so on. Pay attention to how other foods impact you to help complete your recovery process.

Gluten-Free Meal of the Week

Just as a gluten-free diet isn’t a punishment, healthy eating shouldn’t feel like something you are doing because you “have” to. If you aren’t enjoying your meals, you won’t stick to the program. I certainly think that’s where I’ve gone wrong in the past. I saw diets and their associated foods as less than, instead of finding pleasure in the process.

I recently wrote about spaghetti squash, something we enjoy at least once a month. It’s a great example of a food that is delicious, healthy, and totally in line with my approach to eating. It is now, however, a food I eat the night before a long run or a race. Those nights are reserved for carbo loading, and nothing works better for me than rice (we all have our go-to carbs; some things never change).

So, yes, paella. Rice cooked with spices and saffron and veggies and meat. Rice cooked until the bottom layer is just a little bit crispy. Rice that is actually a complete and delicious meal.

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