Listen to your gut.

As someone who’s dealt with IBS for almost a decade I know how intertwined the relationship between gut health and overall well-being can be. I also know that listening to my gut has helped me avoid potentially dangerous situations. The more I’ve read on this relationship the more I’m shocked at how overlooked it is by most people.

Last week a new study was released that focused on rats who had the afferent portion of their vagus nerve severed. This is the portion of the nerve that carries messages from the abdomen to the brain (the efferent nerve was intact to so their brain could still control their stomach.) Researchers found that those rats were less wary of open spaces and bright lights compared to control rats with an intact vagus nerve. Simplified version: without the ability to listen to their gut the rats started doing stupid shit that could get themselves in dangerous situations!

Mouse

{Image}

Think of the last time you had a ‘bad feeling’ about something. Where was that feeling coming from? I’m guessing it was your stomach. Hopefully you listened to it, but if not you could have been like those rats and putting yourself in a situation that deep down you know you shouldn’t be in. The situation could be physical, like times my gut told me to turn around and not run down a certain street, or the situation could be an emotional one.

This study got me thinking about the book Happy Belly that I read a few weeks ago. The author, Nadya Andreeva, really stressed how an imbalance in the gut could cause an imbalance in mental states. I 100% believe it. If your brain could affect your gut, why couldn’t your gut affect your brain? Imagine what it would do to your brain if the bacteria/yeast/flora was thrown off due to imbalanced diet, stress, or antibiotics? I’ve been taking probiotics for years now (I love Florastor and these Pearls) and there is plenty of research available to show that taking probiotics can have a positive impact on mood.

Gut Health

{Image}

Sources:

Psych Central: Rat Study Shows the Power of Gut Instinct

Scientific America: Friendly Bacteria Cheer Up Anxious Mice

Has a ‘gut feeling’ ever saved you from making a bad decision?
Do you think your mood could be impacted by your gut?

Friday night I decided to go ALL OUT and went to Publix to grab my three favorite ‘treats’ (by treat I mean $$ treat not caloric.)

I’m just crazy like that sometimes. Popchips, sushi & arctic zero. Sushi is my usual pre-race dinner, and if I could afford to I’d get arctic zero and/or popchips daily. 2014-05-23 14.43.41I went to bed pretty early Friday night, which is totally not unusual for me, but this time I had a good excuse. My alarm was set for 4:30 a.m. so I could drive over to my parents house in Fort Walton by 6 so Dad and I could drive to Eglin Air Force Base together. Last year was the first time I ran the 4.4 mile Gate to Gate run and I really loved the course. It’s an interesting distance to run – I can’t go all out like I would with a 5k, but it’s still a short enough distance that I could push myself pretty hard.
2014-05-24 06.55.33
The course is one giant loop (it used to go from one gate to the base to another, hence the name) and is infamous for ‘puke hill’ just after the 4 mile mark. It’s pretty flat the entire way but there is very little shade the first half and I was sweating more 10 minutes into this race then I did for my marathon in Nashville. My last 5k pace was 8:15, and I’ve been running 9 minute miles on some of my tempo runs lately, so my goal was to hold a 9 minute pace and come in under 40 minutes. My unofficial time (based on my garmin) put me at 39:39. That’s almost 5 minutes better than last year!2014-05-24 09.26.42

The pain in my lower leg was okay until the last mile. I’m pretty sure I brought this on myself for not replacing my Mizuno’s quicker (they had about 500 miles on them) and doing to much speed work last week. I’ve been icing it 2-3 times a day and will be easing back on the pace a bit.

I was happy I was able to run into my friend Rachael who ran the race last year as well. She’s lost 40 pounds since the 2013 race and took 25 MINUTES off her time. If there was an award that day for ‘best PR improvement’ she definitely would have won.

After the race I hung out at the parents house most of the day. I spent about an hour trying to clean the carpets of my car. I was not very successful and they are still ripped up so I can shove fresh newspapers under them daily to absorb the remaining water. I also did two weeks worth of laundry and ate a ridiculous amount of food. Hey – birthday calories don’t count (even thought it wasn’t my birthday.)

My brother’s birthday is Tuesday but we celebrated early since I was in town. I found this appropriate card and the message I wrote inside pertains to their family cat who hasn’t pooped in his litter box in years.
2014-05-24 09.48.40 2014-05-24 09.50.07We grilled out for lunch and I had two of my favorite things ever; Mom’s bombass carrot salad and marinated grilled veggies. I threw a boca burger in on the side for some protein to fill me up otherwise I would have eaten 3 pounds of those grilled veggies.

Josh requested cupcakes instead of a cake so Mom made these.
2014-05-24 13.47.38Don’t let the look on his face here fool you – he is not above birthday cupcakes.
2014-05-24 13.47.57I ate three. Mom made me feel better about it by saying the cupcakes you buy in bakers now are like 3x the size of these regular cupcakes so I kind of only had one.

I also watched some of this classic 90’s flick. I can’t believe Mom bought it on DVD. Reason #247 why she is awesome.
2014-05-24 11.44.00
While I was there Dad came across this photo of me taken near my heaviest. I was so self-conscious very few pictures of me during this time exist, and I had completely forgotten about this one! I think I actually put on another 5-10 pounds after this before I reached my highest weight of 170. 2014-05-24 11.48.11Finally, I snapped this photo of Salem looking like he stayed up partying to hard with the catnip. 2014-05-23 11.33.13-1I’m not sure what I will be doing today since I have the day off. I’ll probably work a bit on the site, maybe write a few posts, do my virtual Memorial Day 5/10k run for Vacation Races, and binge watch Xena.

What will you be doing for Memorial Day?

 

Workout Wrap Up

Saturday: 6 mile tempo run (4 miles at 9:05 pace)

Sunday: REST

Monday: 4 miles (10:00) + Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30

Tuesday: 2 miles + 4×800 (8:00 pace) + 4×400 (7:30 pace) + 1 mile

Wednesday: Booty Barre + Abs & Arms + 4 mile walk

Thursday: 6 miles (9:40 pace)

Friday: 5 slow miles + Jillian Michaels 6 week 6 pack

I can’t believe every run this week was done under a 10 minute pace! I’m really trying to push myself to improve my speed over the next few months before race season starts again. Unfortunately, that also means knowing when I’m pushing it to far and taking a break when need be. I went for a walk with my friend Wednesday night and about halfway through I started getting this sharp (mild) pain in my right inner calf area. I went ahead and ran Thursday since it wasn’t really worse, and it still doesn’t feel worse, but I think it’s a sign I need to back off the speed a bit.

I have a race Saturday, the Gate-to-Gate run, that I did last year and absolutely loved. It’s a 4.4 mile loop on Eglin AFB and goes past the Veterans Memorial where each runner will toss a carnation as a man plays the bagpipes by it. It’s such a moving course. I’m going to aim to come in at 40 minutes (I think my time last year was about 45!) and after that I will cut back on speed work next week. Or, at least limit it to one day and not 3 like I did this week!

2014-05-20 07.30.43The temperatures are starting to rise but it’s still tolerable. We’ve had some gorgeous mornings here which *almost* make up for the 90% humidity and nearly 80 degree weather at 6 a.m.
2014-05-20 06.01.48

I know it’s hard to see on this panoramic shot but the fog was still rolling out on the left side of the water and I thought it made a nice contrast!2014-05-20 06.02.56-1
Eats this week have been pretty clean. I’m trying to cut back on calories just a smidge to see if trimming up may help with my pace times. I read countless articles that said something to the effect of “being 5% over race weight translates to a 5% slower pace time.” For race weight they usually go by body fat percentage. Mine is at 20% now and I’d like to get it down to 18%. The only problem is that I really, really hate counting calories and watching what I eat. I mean, I always eat healthy (or 80% of the time at least) so now I’m eating the same foods but watching my portion sizes and I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth it!

Dinners have been this faux chicken asian salad (2 cup up Gardein chicken tenders + 1 cup of steamed mixed veggies + 2 T. of Newmans Own Light Sesame Ginger Dressing) and 2 hard boiled eggs.
2014-05-19 12.05.31Lunch has been one of my favorite meals ever, my cauliflower chickpea curry, and a handful of these Pita Puffs! Food Should Taste Good sent me some to try out and they’ve been a nice snack to have when I get the munchies (which is about every 2 hours.) They have three flavors and Chive was definitely my favorite, but their cinnamon sugar was a bit disappointing. If you see the Chive one in the store definitely pick it up!2014-05-21 12.15.20This is Salem looking at me before I left the house for work one morning. I still get the sads when I have to leave him sometime!
2014-05-21 08.54.29I hit my 1,000th photo on Instagram this week and chose to use this as picture commemorate it with. 2014-05-21 20.04.03-2This weekend we are celebrating my brothers birthday a few days early since I will already be in town for the race Saturday. We are going to BBQ at the house and while I’m there I’ll be doing like 3 loads of laundry and using my parents steam cleaner to try and get my car carpets looking somewhat normal again. They are still ripped up and the padding is still damp in some places. I’ll get the car clean again just in time for hurricane season.

What are you doing this weekend?
What is the last new snack you’ve tried?