Good Bye Status Quo, Hello Something Else

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It’s been a while and a lot has happened since my last post. So, I thought I’d put finger to key and give you the scoop on how I tipped a few sacred cows over the past 10 months.

Running again – Farther and faster than ever

I’m now putting in 35 miles a week with some of my longer run days up above 8 miles.  I’ve run PB 5 and 10ks.  Back in February, my body was feeling broken and old.  How did I go from not being able to run much at all, to running better than I ever have?  Simple.  I tried something else.

The main thing keeping me on the sidelines was my toe and it just didn’t seem to be getting better.  My podiatrist had me taking ibuprofen and applying ice after walks, both of which made me feel better for a couple of hours.  But, I couldn’t keep this up for the rest of my life, could I?  So I said goodbye to the doctor and hello to my own R&D.  I started by cutting up insoles from some old running shoes to make my own custom metatarsal pads.  I figured out exactly what shape worked best for my foot and discovered wearing it inside my sock kept it in place.  Before long, I was off the meds and ice, and back to jogging again.

My make-shift toe pad still didn’t seem like a viable long-term solution, especially if I wanted to get back to full running.  So, I started looking at my shoe options.  I after some research, I found Altras.  They’re specially made with a super-wide toe box to let your toes spread out.  The minute I put these on, I felt like my toes were free.  I decided to switch to Provisions and Olympus’s for trails.  I also increased how often I replaced my shoes.

Aside from the shoes and the pads, was there something different I could do with my running?  I started looking at workouts online and reading books such as Daniel’s Running Formula and Build Your Runner’s Body.  I learned that my workouts were too hard.  In order to prevent injury, I needed to incorporate more slow or easy runs into my weekly workout schedule.  In fact, most of the running I do now is easy.  I only push myself two or three days a week.  The other days I just run at a nice, leisurely pace.

With all these changes I believe I’ve completely overcome my toe problems.  Now I’m able to gradually slide up my weekly mileage, speed, and fitness level without injury.

Bacon, Butter, Beef and Coconut: the 4 Food Groups

Call it Atkins or call it Paleo.  Whatever you want to call it, most of my calories are coming from fat now and I’ve lost 9 pounds and at least an inch off my waist!  I never considered myself fat, but I don’t really miss that extra baggage, either.

It all started with a trip to the doctor.  I hadn’t had a physical since college, but with my Dad going through some serious medical issues this past summer, I was motivated to get myself checked out.  After taking a routine blood test, my doctor diagnosed me with high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia.  He thought both my LDL and my overall cholesterol were too high.

This was a complete surprise to me.  I always felt like I was pretty healthy.  I ate right, I exercised, and I never really had any major medical issues.  High cholesterol was for older people who lived off of fast-food and surfed the couch all day, right?

Well, the doctor seemed to think it was pretty serious and wanted to put me on a drug called a statin right away to tank my cholesterol levels.  Whoa, hold on!  I’m not the kind of person that likes to just jump on a pill to make my problems go away.  What is this statin and is there some sort of lifestyle change I can make before committing to a lifetime of strange mystery meds I know nothing about?

So, once again, I ditched the doc and started my quest for more answers.  I found the EatingAcademy.com and picked up a few books including The Great Cholesterol Myth, Grain Brain, and Wheat Belly.  I discovered statins are bad, cholesterol (as it was measured in my blood test) doesn’t affect your risk for heart disease, inflammation and high blood sugar are much better indicators of heart disease risk, and fat consumption (saturated and monounsaturated) does not increase your risk of heart disease.  These new findings completely blew my mind.  The food pyramid I was used to (with bread on the bottom and fat on top), was completely turned upside down!

So I cut WAY down on the grains and sugars, and upped my intake of saturated and monounsaturated fats (also more veggies).  Think Buddy the Elf‘s diet, but the complete opposite.  As a result, my pants are way too big now.  Not to mention, my energy levels are steady throughout the day, I sleep great, and I just feel better overall.

Six Months and the House is Ours

Assuming no unforeseen mishaps or pay increases, six months from now we should be living in a completely paid-for house.  It’s hard to believe we’re almost there.  And now that we’re so close, it’s hard not to get impatient and day-dream about life after a mortgage.  Mrs. Pennypacker and I often think about buying a second house in the mountains.  Six months from now, that may be our next big ocean to cross.

I’ve already written extensively about why we decided to be different and pay off our house.  It’s a similar story to the toe and the diet – me just looking at normal and thinking, “there has to be another way.”

How did I get here?

I questioned.  Maybe it’s the Gen X in me, or maybe I’m wired differently, or maybe my parents raised me to be a rebel.  Society tells us to take pain pills and apply ice to our injuries.  Everyone says eat less fat and eat more whole grains to be healthy.  In America, you take out a mortgage and keep making payments until you retire or die.  In all these cases, I wasn’t satisfied with normal.  I had to find a better way.  It’s like that old T.J. quote…

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god…”
– Thomas Jefferson

Are there any principles or societal norm that you’ve flipped upside-down lately?

4 thoughts on “Good Bye Status Quo, Hello Something Else”

  1. After so long, I’m so glad I decided to look for your blog again – and did it tonight instead of last week.
    Again, well written, detailed, impressed that you look outside the box now and then when it seems like a good idea.

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