Tag Archives: health

So Far So Good

6 Aug


Today is the first day in a very long time (well, maybe not THAT long. Almost two months feels like a long time when you’re exhausted and miserable but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a blink) I feel something like my normal, happy-go-lucky, energized self. I don’t feel 100% there yet but I’d put myself somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-80% and that’s not bad. Trying to be happy about all increments of change in a positive direction, even the mini ones.

I credit this good feeling to a couple of things. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

  1. I stopped falling asleep in front of the TV. In my normal life, I don’t have a TV in my bedroom. In my Steppenwolf life, I do. And at the start of the summer, I just wasn’t strong enough to turn the damned thing off before bed. In the last couple weeks, I’ve been really strict with myself. As soon as I feel like I’m drifting, I turn the TV off and go to damned sleep. I also have a cup of this “relaxing” tea that I bought in Chinatown two weeks ago and lemme tell you, that shit is the shit. Valerian root, baby. Stuff works. Ultimately, my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I’m up fewer (or no) times in the night and therefore, I wake up feeling a little more energized.
  2. I started running again with regularity two weeks ago. The picture above was taken in my run along the lake. I made a new playlist a couple of days ago and named it “run for your life.” The longer I run, the more I believe that running will save you 95% of the times. That 5% is reserved for the times in your life when you’re injured or burned out. It doesn’t take very much either. I’ve been going out for anywhere from 40-50 minutes in low zones. Just to get myself moving and get that serotonin flowing through all those little channels in my brain.
  3. I got back into the hot room. Bikram has come to my rescue so many times in my life it’s right up there with running as a total soul-saver. And the lovely thing is that Bikram and running compliment each other perfectly. Bikram postures are specifically well suited for the kinds of overuse issues that all runners suffer from. And the detoxifying effects of 90 minutes of movement in 105 degrees can’t be exaggerated.
  4. I cut gluten out of my diet. I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting everyone cut gluten out of their diets. We’re all different and have different internal chemical scenarios and some people really have no issues with the stuff. But after being glutened TWICE this week at two different restaurants, I am almost certain that this pesky little protein is an issue for me. I’d been off the stuff for six weeks and both of the times I consumed glutenous substances (once at a Korean restaurant–it was own damned fault for thinking I could get away with a Korean rice bowl–and again at an Italian place WITH A GLUTEN FREE MENU) I was having dizzy spells within 20 minutes. After the dizziness came that lovely feeling of looking at the world from the inside of a mason jar. Three hours later, I had rocks in my gut. And twelve hours later I was constipated. So yeah, sensitive to gluten.
  5. I’ve cut down my non-fruit related sugar intake to almost nothing and cut my fruit intake down to one or two plums and a handful of berries throughout the day, but not before 11AM. I did this because my energy had been super super low about two and a half to three hours after waking and it was suggested that that was due to a drastic drop in blood sugar after breakfast. I realized that my morning breakfast bowl included apple sauce, maple syrup AND berries mixed into oatmeal. I hadn’t really thought about how much sugar that amounted to until I cut it out and noticed a marked change in how I felt by noon. Most notably, I wasn’t going down for a nap three hours after getting up. Anyway, it’s working for me. So now I start out the day with a green smoothie that has NO fruit in it. This has taken some getting used to, believe me. The smoothie is almost entirely supplements (1 scoop SuperFood; 1 tsp Maca powder; 1 capsule each ginseng, B complex, probiotic and multi-mineral; and 1 tsp complete omega oil) with one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and two ice cubes. Then about an hour later, I have a couple of eggs scrambled with kale and vegan cheese with a piece of GF toast.


So now it’s 2:06PM central time and I’ve been able to run, do laundry, make myself breakfast and lunch (the above photographed gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi over sautéed kale, chicken sausage, shiitake mushrooms and tomatoes) and bake a batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for our second tech this afternoon.


I’m gonna post the recipe (adjusted from the original posted here on The Iron You–my new favorite triathlon blog). Originally, this recipe was vegan, gluten-free and Paleo. But I baked my first batch with no binder and the cookies were just too darn crumbly.


So I added one egg to the remaining dough (sorry vegans but I didn’t have anything in the house to sub. If you want to make these, add the equivalent in egg substitute or chia goop) and they second batch is holding together better. I also cut the almond meal by half a cup and added 3/4 up of gluten-free all-purpose baking flour. You could certainly leave out the flour. I just don’t know what the hell holds these babies together if they’re all nuts and no binder.

These babies definitely hit the spot if you’re looking for a chocolate fix. There is minimal sugar in the recipe and they’re packed with good fats. Granted, this cookie is no substitute for a real Tollhouse but, as with most diet-adjusted baked goods, you gotta try to forget about the original and just take the new thing at face value. This cookie is not the cookie you grew up with. But guess what? You’re not ten years old anymore. Your body has changed and maybe you shouldn’t be eating cookies like you used to. Just saying.


Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Drop Cookies
(makes 3 dozen small cookies)

3/4 cups almond meal
3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
½  cup coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 large egg
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
¾ chopped almonds

Preheat oven at 350°F and place a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, sunflower seed butter and egg until well mixed. Add flour and stir until a soft dough forms. Add chocolate chips and nuts and stir to mix well.

Drop the dough by spoon onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for another 15 minutes. Move to a cookie rack and cool completely.

Oh and just a little note: the black sprinkles on these cookies are actually Hawaiian black lava salt. I picked some up last week and I’m obsessed with the stuff. If you don’t have any (and why would you) don’t worry about it. You can throw a little bit of regular ol’ coarse sea salt onto these cookies and it really works. But if you don’t like your sweets a little salty, then by all means, abstain from the sprinkling.


Oh Well

26 Jul

I knew it was too good to be true. The maca-cacao “latte” I’ve been making for myself as a coffee stand-in? Yeah, can’t drink that anymore. I don’t know why I ever thought that was going to work considering what a clear cut migraine trigger cocao/cacao has always been for me. I guess I wasn’t really thinking about all that. I was just thinking, “Hmmm, this tastes like coffee and it sorta gives me a buzz life coffee, but it’s NOT COFFEE so it can’t be bad.”

Then on Wednesday, I had a latte before our staff run of the play and felt, meh. A little weird. Not awake at all really and then, at the end of the night I was like, “Why is the stage light so fucking bright tonight?!? And like, RIGHT IN MY FACE?” Later that night, i went out for dinner with some playwright friends and while sitting at the bar, chatting with one of them, I realized I couldn’t even see her because I was so completely blinded by the setting sun shooting in through the front windows of the restaurant. I thought this was weird but I didn’t really think any else of it.

The next morning, I slept a little late and woke up with a headache that was similar to a caffeine-withdrawal headache and I was like, “that’s weird! I haven’t been drinking nearly enough caffeine for all that.” So I got up, felt a little groggy, made breakfast and made myself a latte. I couldn’t quite wake up all morning and kept feeling like I just wanted to go back to sleep. I started doing some work and about an hour in, I was totally unable to focus and my head was starting to pulsate.

I started to freak out. I don’t know why. It’s not like I’ve never had a migraine before. But for some reason, yesterday, the fact that I was feeling how I was feeling just like completely wigged me out. I was so freakin’ dizzy, I thought I’d fall down the minute I stood up. So I decided to stand up. Classic.

Because I like to deny that I feel things, instead of just going back to sleep, I got dressed and went to Trader Joe’s. There’s one right down the block from me in Chi-town and since there are NONE in Miami and I love TJ’s, I’ve kinda been going every day. I’m self-medicating with dried mango and organic kale. Anyhoo…

On the way back from TJ’s, I nearly started to cry. Seriously. And I wasn’t even in that much pain. But the light sensitivity and the dizziness and I don’t know, man. I’m a mess. Or I was a mess yesterday. By the time I got back to the apartment, I’d stopped crying but I knew there was nothing left to do but go to sleep. And that’s what I did. From 12:30 to 2:30.

The pain never got so bad that I had to take anything and since the only thing that has ever worked on my migraines is Excedrin and Excedrin is full of caffeine I didn’t want to take anything anyway. By late evening, the dizziness had subsided and I started getting that slightly enjoyable euphoric feeling that us migraineurs get to revel in during the postdrome. It’s the least a migraine headache can do for me considering that I tend to linger in the postdrome for several days and the other symptoms are not that much fun at all.

I went to sleep last night at 11PM and slept until 9AM. I think I woke up three times but I can’t be 100% sure. Today, no cacao. No headache. And I’m messing with when I take my supplements. Thinking maybe that might have something to do with all this too. Bottom line: I can’t have pure cacao. The jury’s still out on chocolate bars with a lower cacao content. I just wanted to write “cacao” again.

In the next post, maybe I’ll tell you about the insane fight I witnessed two nights ago. Everything they say about this city and it’s violence is true. Over and out.

Crazy Begets Crazy

5 Mar

It’s been a wild few weeks of air, auto and rail travel, meetings, milestones, head colds, writing projects, performances, friends in town, friends out of town, and through it all, training, training and more training. After dropping my friend D off at the airport at 5:30AM; after a 6AM weight training session and an 8:45AM appointment with my foot and ankle orthopedist who told me that one of the joints in my feet is fused in a way that explains ALL the pain I’ve ever experienced from standing, walking and/or running; after paying some bills and taking care of some work-work, I had the day to myself.

I made a giant pot of veggie “baked” beans in my crock-pot and then finally got my gas sitch fixed so I have a working oven. Yes, I realize that’s a funny sentence. Beans, gas, ha ha. Whatever. I can eat hot food again, which is nice since it’s friggin frigid in Miami right now. Then I spent the rest of the day writing and fighting a migraine. I know I got this migraine because I fell off the wagon again and had coffee this weekend and then didn’t have coffee this morning. C’est la vie.

I was in front of the computer for about five hours working on this ongoing project that is kicking my ass but also making me very nostalgic. It was a busy day disguised as a relaxing day and at the end of it, I was feeling a little loopy and overheated from sitting under my heating pad on the couch. I debated whether or not to go out on my Monday recovery run but then realized that I absolutely had to do it because I needed some physical activity to counter the cerebral activity of the day. I had just been writing about this exact balance and so it only made sense to live the narrative.

The weather was perfect. The whole Grove smells like it’s on fire (in a good way) because everyone is using their fireplaces right now. The Commodore trail was empty but for a few runners out enjoying the night and I  just felt fantastic. So my 2o minute RR turned into a 40 minute RR and I wanted to keep running but knew to do so would be foolish. It would turn this workout into something different and I’m trying to stay on plan. Still, what a night. It all felt so good that I got home and did this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 8.29.07 PM

I’d been talking about it and talking about it and I finally decided to do it. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be all, “Never make an important decision if you’re in the midst of a runner’s high!” But I doubt it. I got twelve weeks to shed my wetsuit and get comfortable with the thought of a 1.2 mile lake swim in South Florida in May. Bring it.

You Must Gots to be Joking

23 Apr

My TP schedule for the week generally comes through very early on Monday morning. Since I didn’t know what was on tap for today when I went to bed last night, I slept in a little and checked it when I got up at 7:30. This has got to be some kind of cruel joke:

Don’t quite know what you’re looking at? I’ll help! In the top left corner of the screenshot, you will see the word “bike.” Just a bit to the right and a little above the word “bike,” you will see the description, “trainer or wind.” If you keep reading, it gets better. See the description of my workout? No? Here, I’ve enlarged it for you.

The post-activity comments are blank because, well duh, I have not completed the activity yet. But I can already tell you what I’m planning to write: “I f*cking hate you.” And I don’t know if the you I’m thinking I might direct that nastiness towards is myself or the person who loads these schedules or the wind itself; the very forces of nature that contributed to my inability to rise from the sofa for nearly six hours yesterday.

I don’t have access to a trainer, so that means I have to get back on my bike today and go find more wind. I know that I should just get dressed and get back out there. But I’m finding it extremely difficult to motivate after the brick from hell. So I’m struggling with this dilemma: do I just suck it up, get on the bike, get the workout in and breakthrough this reticence; maybe have an amazing workout? Or do I back off, just do my by 20 minute recovery run and then go to yoga later? My fear is that I am on the verge of total burn out. And I don’t want to burn out. I want to fan the flames.

When you’re involved with this kind of training, there will be challenging, wall-hitting moments and it is in those moments that you learn exactly what kind of athlete you are. Sit back, learn nothing. Break through, learn everything. This is how it went with boxing. So many nights, after working a ten-hour shift at the big bank, all I wanted to do was go home and go to sleep. But I’d lug myself and my gear to the gym where wind wasn’t the problem. Five, six, seven, eight rounds of hard sparring. With two or three different boxers. Just to mix things up. Feeling good against the girl ten pounds lighter? Here’s some body shots with the girl twenty pounds heavier. Sometimes I did well, sometimes I ended up in the locker room near tears. But every one of those training sessions made me a better fighter.

The mere thought of having to get back on that bike right now and go ride into a headwind is making me want to quit this whole endeavor. It feels very personal. Like my will is being tested. Like the universe is conspiring to see exactly how much punishment I am willing to endure. How badly I want to do well at TriMiami which is now less than a month away. But it’s not the universe, it’s not my coach, it’s not the wind. It’s just me. I’ve made the choice to do this so it’s me I’m mad at. Because me won’t let me quit.

Chia Vet

17 Apr

My house guest has left the building. Her trip was short and sweet but we managed to get in a recovery run last night, a pool swim this morning and we took this awesome picture that makes me laugh every time I look at it:

I am late to the Photo Booth party, I know, but I don’t care. We spent about an hour making ourselves look like trolls, elves and aliens yesterday. Instead of going out for an open water swim. C’est la vie.

It’s for the best that yesterday was not a double work out day. Some odd things happened with my body this weekend and I needed to figure out what the hell was going on. All weekend long, I had this very unpleasant, nagging belly ache. I can only describe it as the feeling of unrelenting hunger. Seriously, I could not eat enough to feel full. And along with the weird, grinding, hunger pang-like vibe, came some additional unpleasant sensations and experiences that I won’t go into. Suffice to say, it was like my stomach was consuming itself and suffering indigestion as a result. I don’t go down easy, apparently.

At first, I chalked it up to an overly ambitious workout schedule Friday-Sunday and the resulting insane amount of calories out without sufficient calories coming back in. If that makes sense. As I mentioned in my post Totally Immersed, Friday turned into a triple workout day purely by accident. Saturday, I had a 30 minute open water swim, followed by a 1hr:45minute run. Sunday was a 90 minute bike, 20 minute transition run. I did all of this feeling like my stomach was being raked over a cheese grater. It was not fun.

Now, I have made some diet changes lately. I’ve been trying to make every calorie count, eat like an athlete in preparation for the next race, nutrition is the 4th sport, blah blah blah. So I was like, OK, I’m just not eating enough. I’ll increase my calories for the next couple of days and then by Monday and Tuesday, the lightest days on the books, I’d be able to “catch up.”

I made a really awesome meal on Sunday night. It was full of healthy stuff but super filling and ended with home made ice cream sandwiches. I thought surely that that meal would get me back on track. Yesterday morning, I felt only mildly better and I was starting to get concerned. By mid day, I decided to go back over everything I’d consumed from Thursday on (the benefit of keeping a food diary) and that’s when it hit me that my joke about chia seeds in my last post might not be a joke at all.

So I did the chia vetting I should have done a week ago and found a bunch of articles and forum posts about chia (salba) seeds and stomach issues. They all described exactly what I’d been experiencing. This is one barefoot runner’s account of her issues with chia seeds:

So I started buying chia seeds back in May and had been eating the gel religiously for about a month. I started having stomach aches that were quite uncomfortable and tried being really careful about what I ate. When my stomach aches weren’t going away, I decided to just eat fruit for a week. That really helped, but in the mean time I kinda got out of the habit of eating chia. We always have chia gel in the fridge (my husband and son like it) and a couple weeks ago I had a few spoonfuls and that eve I had a bad stomach ache. Coincidence? Well, last night I made up a batch again and licked the spoon and it was so good that I had two more spoonfuls. Within an hour I was on the floor, holding my stomach. It was the worst stomach ache I’ve ever had. I spent the entire eve on the toilet or holding my guts in bed. I can’t even describe how awful I felt.

This is from Chew on This Before You Swallow:

There’s a reason why the Aztecs treated chia as a medicine taking no more than one tablespoon at a time. Consuming too much soluble fiber in a single sitting without ample water can actually cause the problem it is meant to cure: constipation. Gas and bloating are common symptoms when fiber is not introduced gradually to a gut unaccustomed to roughage.

Yep, that was me. And I am fairly well accustomed to roughage. Unfortunately, my first serving of chia was a little more than two tablespoons. And it went into my protein powder that already has chia in it. Yikes! My second serving was a tablespoon + a little extra. Double yikes.

This is from Livestrong:

Consuming salba seeds may upset your stomach. You may experience mild nausea or stomach pain, which may contribute to a temporary decrease in your normal appetite. Such side effects are typically temporary and subside within a day following treatment with salba seed.

I should mention that I found plenty of other websites that claim there are no known side affects or adverse reactions when taking chia. And I have many friends who swear by chia and have never mentioned going through what I went through this weekend. But every gut is different I suppose. The health benefits of chia are so numerous, I’m not sure that I am ready to ditch them outright. But my next serving will not be tomorrow and I can assure you, it will be miniature.

Further Adventures in the Breakthrough Zone

10 Apr

Waking up this morning for my swim, I felt the same mild dread that I feel when I realize it’s been a while since I cleaned my apartment and I know I need to do it because it will improve my quality of life but I kinda just want to say, frack it and wallow in filth instead.

Inevitably, I do what needs to be done in order to feel like an adult, professional human and I break out the Swiffer Wet Jet (my new favorite thing) and a pair of rubber gloves and I crank my music as loud as I like because I figure, if I have to suffer, so do my neighbors. Not very nice, I know, but I hate cleaning. HATE IT. I only do it because I know that after it’s done, I’ll be happier and able to enjoy my clean apartment in a state of semi-Zen like bliss.

This morning, I knew that getting up and getting into the pool before sunrise would yield the same kind of enlightenment and peace. Despite the fact that I really, really, really didn’t want to get out of bed. I toyed with the idea of using my shoulder as an excuse-it’s not hurting anymore but I am aware that it exists–and then I did that thing where I tell myself that I can “just do the swim on my own after work tonight.” Hardy freakin’ har. NEVER A GOOD IDEA. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months but one of the most valuable lessons has been to get the damned workout done before you have a chance to think about it. The longer you wait to do it, the less likely you are to do it.

And that made me think again about my yoga practice. And Standing Head to Knee (the posture of the week, it seems). And how the instructors always tell you to get into that posture as quickly as possible. Don’t think about, they tell you. Just pick up your foot and lock your knee. Sometimes, in class, I’ll see people take a full 15-20 seconds before getting into that posture. They leisurely dry their hands of sweat that is just going to come right back. They take a couple extra sips of water. They stare intensely at themselves in the mirror. And then, when they’re ready, they pick up their foot and slowly, oh so slowly, they raise it off the floor. They basically skip over the entire set-up for the posture which is, incidentally, probably the hardest part. They kick out immediately. Spend a couple of seconds in full expression and then they’re done.

I’m not criticizing. I’m just wondering right now if they do this and think, “Yeah, I just gave that 110%.” Or if they’re honest with themselves about the fact that they’re totally half-assing it. Too each his/her own. I shouldn’t be worrying about what they’re doing anyway. I should be focusing on my own yoga. And I normally am. Swear. I don’t like to waste any time in that class. I like to think that for every second of solid effort, I get an extra second or two of my life back. That shit adds up.

So I pushed the excuses out of my mind this morning. Got myself up. Ate some Cheerios with strawberries and had my now daily cup of Green Chai. I’d packed all my stuff (lunch, snacks, change of clothes, grading stuff) last night so I didn’t have much to gather before leaving. I looked at my swim workout in Training Peaks and laughed a couple of times thinking there was no way I’d get it done. Then I left my house.

I drove to school, got in the pool a little late, shared a lane with a teammate who didn’t care that I kicked him twice, was mindful of my shoulder, took my time and tried to focus on extension and body position, got kicked out of the pool with 800 yards left, got back in the car, drove across campus to the gym, got back into the indoor pool and finished my final 800 yards.

It took longer than the scheduled hour but I really didn’t care. My 300 yard warmup felt effortless. The last 8 x 50 with 10 second rest intervals felt challenging but doable. What happened in between happened and now it’s over. And I really couldn’t tell you very much about it.

I’m starting to think that I train better, or maybe just a little smarter, when fatigued or when I’m being extra mindful of an overused body part. I did mention to the swim coach that I’d “tweaked” my shoulder and his advice was just to get in, loosen up and keep track of it. If it started to hurt, I could just kick my entire workout. I sure as hell didn’t want to do that. So I took it one lap at a time, one length at a time, always knowing that I had an out if I wanted it. But it’s funny, the “out” is kinda like a security blanket or health insurance: when you know it’s there, you never use it. The minute it’s gone, you’re crying like a baby or you need to have an emergency (read: $20,000) appendectomy.

If you’re really injured, you gotta rest. No doubt. But 99% of the time, it’s better to keep your body moving, even if it’s a little tight or a little sore in one particular spot. Not engaging that nagging shoulder or knee or plantar fascia can do psychological damage. You start to see that part of your body as weaker or a little more broken than other parts. And then six months have gone by and you haven’t used it at all and now it really IS weaker or more broken.

All of this boils down to mindfulness.


It’s really kind of insane.

Becoming fully aware pays dividends. And the only way to become fully aware is to confront your ignorance. Ask it questions. Demand that it justify its existence in your world. Today I laughed at 2700 yards. I thought, No way. I was ignorant of my own potential. By hitting the pool and finishing the swim, I became just a little more aware of my own infinite possibilities.

All you ever have to do is try the right way.

My Chicken Wings

30 Mar

Yesterday’s pool session was brisk but challenging. Brisk because we’re tapering this week; challenging because our swim coach pointed out that I am still throwing hooks in the water. This was distressing because I’ve made a concerted effort over the last week to really address my less-than-perfect crawl. And I really felt like things were changing. When we bring awareness to the problem, change can happen quickly, right? But the coach got a little video of me on his iPhone and when I watched it, I was kinda horrified because what felt straight to me is SO not straight.

This has a lot to do with muscle conditioning from boxing and scar tissue built up after a mild dislocation I suffered in the ring but honestly, it’s just how I’m built. I was never even a very good straight puncher. My money shots were always power punches. When I did throw straight lefts and rights, my boxing coach would call me, “chicken wing arms.” My elbows pop out to my sides. I can’t help it. Even when I run–and I’ve seen it in recent race pics–I always kind of look a jet plane on a runway about to take off.

I want to become a more efficient swimmer and “fixing” this little musculo-skeletal issue could help me shave time off of my swim. But what’s the end game here? Is it just about getting faster, better stronger? Or is it about trying to be something that I simply am not? A swimmer. Is this even something I can change? Or am I just setting myself up for a massive disappointment?

It’s one thing to build muscles where they don’t exist; muscles that are needed for specific activities. Like, I should be doing lat pulls because lat strength would help me with my swimming. But we’re talking now about adjusting the mechanics of the body.

There is quite a lot of debate about changing up running form. I read a story in the June 2011 issue of Runner’s World, about elite runner Paige Higgins, who despite efficiency and speed, had hit a sort of rut in her racing career.

By early 2010, two years after quitting her job as an art teacher, moving from Colorado to Arizona, and joining a full-time training group, Higgins hadn’t cracked the elite tier of American marathoners. With her coach, Greg McMillan, she was engaged in an increasingly desperate search for a breakthrough performance, and after a series of so-so marathons, she and McMillan decided that her form was partially to blame. So they decided to rebuild it from the ground up.

This took a lot of time and work and involved a three phase approach to training.

First, he [McMillan] had her focus on a series of non-running movements—one involved standing in place and lifting her knees one at a time, which was meant to engage the full range of movement and the full power of her hip muscles. In the second phase, Higgins did drills—high knees and lunges—hoping to take advantage of her new range of movement with dynamic, rather than static, exercises. In stage three, McMillan had Higgins run with a mid-foot strike, higher knee lift, and a slightly longer stride.

There were some positive changes but in the end, Higgins wound up injuring herself while training for the NYC marathon. She got a stress fracture diagnosis that she partially attributed to the change in foot strike. McMillan refused to offer a simple explanation.

‘She was training for a marathon. It’s impossible to know for sure.’

When asked about the whole form-change process, Higgins had this to say.

‘…I learned the hard way that being too aggressive can lead to injury.’

And is it injury because we’re trying to make our bodies do something they don’t want to do? Or aren’t built for? Some of us have crooked spines, or uneven hips. Some of us have abnormally high centers of gravity or abnormally short arms or narrow shoulders. Some of us have chicken wings. These variations might not make us “perfect” athletes, but there’s no reason we can’t still swim or bike or run with them.

Nobody is suggesting that my chicken wing arms make me a bad person, just that they slow me down in the water. So ultimately, the choice is mine. If it is so important that I get faster on the swim, I might have to consider attempting to “rebuild” a part of my body.

The broader implication: if it is so important that I look good in this pair of jeans, I might have to compromise my nutritional needs; or

if it is so important that this specific person wants to date me, I might have to consider compromising my needs; or

if it is so important that I make a shit ton of money right now, I might have to consider compromising my ideals.

I guess we know we’re fully evolved when the really important thing is just to do what you do. Naturally. Without trying so desperately to fit the square peg into the round hole. I’m working on it in other areas of my life, but in terms of training, the chicken wings might have to go.