Today’s photo is another blast from the past, this time from August 2007, eight months after we went gluten-free. We were in Colorado’s Ten Mile mountain range, doing a loop ridge traverse of Father Dyer Peak, Crystal Peak, and Peak 10 (summit elevations of 13,600 to 13,850 feet or so). I thought this photo of me “surfing” a rock horn high on the ridge was a good not-so-subtle metaphor for today’s blog post theme: balance.
Over the course of December 2011 and January 2012, my life basically didn’t have any balance. I scratched the surface in yesterday’s post, but I wanted to delve deeper today, because my recent experience is such a good example of how a lack of balance can negatively impact your health, and how regaining an active gluten-free lifestyle can restore that health.
The tipping point was The Gluten-Free Edge. The mental (and physical) energy and time it required to finish researching, writing, and revising the manuscript left precious little time for anything else. For my coauthor, Melissa, and me it had become our “precious” (Lord of the Rings reference, for any Tolkien fans!), an all-consuming thing. As we hammered away on chapter after chapter, we were painfully and acutely aware of a terrible irony: here we were writing about how a proper gluten-free diet can be part of a formula for peak athletic performance and a healthy active lifestyle, and we had—temporarily, at least—abandoned the very principles about which we were writing.
I was spending much less time with family, and virtually none at all with friends. I ceased all training and exercise. I was desperately sleep-deprived. I was snacking on gluten-free junk food at all hours of the day and night. My alcohol consumption had drastically increased (I have a touch of Hemingway in me, in the sense that a glass of wine or libation helps lubricate the writing gears from time to time…). You can see where this is going. It was a perfect storm for letting yourself go: not getting enough sleep, increased consumption of empty calories at the wrong times of day, and severely decreased physical activity.
By the time we left for the Caribbean, I tipped the scales at 166 pounds. That’s officially the heaviest I’ve been. Ever. To put that number into perspective, my off-season weight usually hovers around 155 pounds. My in-season endurance racing weight is closer to 150 pounds. I’m only 5’6″. Compared to 150 pounds, 166 pounds is a noticeable difference on my frame. It’s a 10% increase. That’s a lot. Pants didn’t fit. I was using a larger notch (or two) on my belts. It wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t happy about it.
And so, the last month—in between a trip to the hospital and family bouts with stomach bugs—has been about regaining balance. It has been about spending time with Kelli and the girls. About resuming my training in advance of a big ultra season ahead (more on that in another blog post later this week). About streamlining my gluten-free diet (more on that in tomorrow’s blog post). About living the gluten-free edge Melissa and I write about in our eponymous forthcoming book.
I’ve been patient with the process, and now it’s starting to pay good dividends. In 4 weeks I’ve logged nearly 110 miles of trail running training. I’m getting 7 hours of sleep per night instead of less than 4. And I’ve lost 8 pounds so far, down to 158 from 166—that’s 2 pounds per week, right on target for a healthy rate of weight loss.
And of course, I’m—and we’re—blogging again, which feels good. Very good.