Morning Routine Glory.
I think one of my favorite aspects of the weekend is being able to pose at our kitchen table, a cup of piping hot coffee in front of me, enjoying the slowness that is invited by the promise of a fantastic weekend. Our mornings aren’t always the same, but the constant we adore is being able to sit, sometimes with our noses in a book or sometimes staring at Strava planning an adventure for the coming hours. Either way, whether delightfully active or appropriately restful, the mornings are always my favorite. No questions asked.
Because we’re taking a little time off of structured running, and because the weather here in Northern California is too marvelous not to be enjoyed, we traded our running shoes for cycling booties and opted for a ride around Berkeley.
Tour De Berkeley.
What I love about biking is ironically how bad I am. Road cycling is a whole different athletic endeavor that I have loved getting to experience. While running has always come, “naturally,” to me, cycling feels entirely different. My back goes stiff. My shoulders cramp up. My quads hurt pedaling up hills. And all those factors are what compel me to keep trying until it doesn’t feel so challenging.
On today’s glorious ride, we left our little apartment in Berkeley and cycled through Redwood Regional park (only getting lost once) for a grand loop just under 40 miles (and 3600 ft of vert)! With blue bird skies, and a couple bottles of BCAA’s, neither the heat nor a lack of energy kept us from enjoying a perfect day out on the roads.
Ride all the miles, eat all the food.
After 2 hours and 50 (ish) minutes of pedaling, Elan and I were pretty famished by the time we got back.
** I think it’s also helpful to point out that during the ride I ate a Larabar to keep my energy up. There are pros and cons to fueling with “real food,” versus sports nutrition while exercising, but for the purposes of my own ride, I wanted to chew on something a little more dense so opted for a bar rather than a gel. Everyone is different, and every body needs different things! **
So upon arrival back at our home, we stretched, showered and prepped some lunch while watching the Ohio State football game. My lunch was a thick slice of avocado toast, a collard leaf with smashed sardines, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes and mushrooms, seasoned with salt, pepper and a dash of turmeric. Because I was still a bit hungry after this meal, I also cut up a few carrots, an apple and had a cup of full fat yogurt to tide me over until dinner.
With the football game quietly humming in the background, I sat with my amazing non-school related book and treated myself to a sunny, page turning afternoon. Full belly, tired legs, and a great read, I really don’t think I could picture a better way to spend a Saturday.
The problem with me however is that I am a professional procrastinator. My mind sort of operates like a popcorn machine. At times there is just a simple kernel, unheated, un-popped, just existing in a pan. Then, all of a sudden, it’s exploding among a sea of identical kernels. Some might call this type of mindset an anxiety inducing parallel, but it’s just the way I operate, and I find more often than not I have to try really hard to make sure all the popcorn kernels of my metaphorical popcorn machine/pan don’t all explode out all at once.
So what does a popping popcorn have to do with reading? I have a Sh$t ton of it to do for my major at UC Berkeley. And it’s literature sometimes I don’t find particularly intriguing. So I like to balance out the boring with a good “candy” read as we like to call them; books that Elan and I actually enjoy reading. As opposed to picking up Moby Dick, knowing that it’s in the cannon of important English literature, and forcing ourselves to succumb to hours of reading having retained only a paragraph of text, we find that the indulgence of leafing through a book like, Ready Player One to be more satisfying for the mind and soul.
The tricky thing for me after a long day of exercise is really listening to my intuitive hunger cues. I know I’ve put in a big effort, so I know my body needs more fuel than sometimes I feel physically hungry for. Right after our ride, it seemed like nothing was satisfying my hunger. But come dinner? I just wasn’t that hungry, but honestly, I ate like I was.
Pictured below is my absolute favorite kale, walnut, shallot and feta salad from Whole Foods with a grilled chicken breast on the side. It’s my favorite combination because its simple, crunchy, packed with protein, and a satisfying meal.
Dinner is often the most “confusing,” meal for me. Portion control is what I struggle with the most, and learning to slow down and listen to my satiety feels like a game I’ve never been quite good at. Ironically, going out to eat has actually been easier for me because I’m better at really sitting, enjoying, and not eating too quickly. When we’re at home, meals can sometimes be done in 15 minutes or less and I really don’t advise this.
The longer you take to chew and sit with your food, the easier I find it goes down in the digestion department. And not only is taking your time around meals important from a social perspective, but it leaves you feeling much more satisfied and less prone to mindlessly noshing later.
Sometimes I even eat when I'm not hungry...
So having said the above, after dinner it’s a habit of mine to munch on something sweet. If I’m really full, I’ll obviously forgo this tradition. However, even if I have an ounce of space left, I’ll always make room. Again, something I’m not super proud of, but hey, I’m only human.
Tonight’s combination? A green apple (sliced), dipped in almond butter and topped with bittersweet chocolate baking medallions. And maybe I also had a spoonful or two of almond butter right out of the jar. I wasn’t totally hungry for this treat, but for some reason after dinner I just wanted to keep eating. There are a million and one reasons we could pick apart as to why that was the case, and while I feel a little embarrassed to admit it, I think it’s important to voice that eating should not be looked at as either perfect or imperfect.
Today I ate to a point where after dinner I felt a little bloated and full. Does that make me a bad human? Absolutely not! Does that mean I’m going to wake up 10 pounds heavier? Probably not either. Chances are I didn’t even over eat; digestion can often come along with a few hiccups and it isn’t always smooth sailing. If I can offer a piece of advice it would be to let go of the parameters around which you think of as food being “good” and “bad.” Our bodies have a crazy way of communicating what we need, and the best thing you can do is honor the cravings that call to you!
Data from our ride!