about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

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    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.



My Running Roller-Coaster.

It’s been quite a while since I talked about running and workouts here, because – well – I haven’t been running or working out very much.  My postpartum fitness journey has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs.  I’m slowly rolling out of a down, and hoping to get off the ride sooner than later.

I honestly didn’t imagine that postpartum fitness would be such a struggle for me.  I have always made working out and running a very high priority, because I love being active, and it’s important to me to stay in shape.  And yet, here I am – feeling sluggish and working toward getting back to a place where fitness is a big part of my life again.

After having Cullen, I had a pretty long and difficult recovery.  I am amazed by other moms who seem to bounce back so quickly and are out jogging at three weeks postpartum.  At that point, I was still working on walking  a few blocks and trying not to pass out when I went to the bathroom (TMI, but totally true).

I waited about seven weeks to start running again, and it was a slow start.  I jogged here and there, but I wasn’t physically comfortable for a long time, so runs were short and sporadic.  I missed the personal satisfaction and exhilaration of running races, so I thought perhaps setting a goal and training for a race would help get me back into the groove.

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I signed up for the Indianapolis Half Marathon and came up with a training plan, but I abandoned it pretty quickly.  I struggled to find the hours in the day to run, since Casey’s work hours continued to get longer and longer, and Cullen wasn’t old enough to go in the jogging stroller yet.

I ended up running the race anyway after a very subpar training effort, and I surprised myself by not actually doing too badly given the circumstances.

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And while I loved racing again and felt great to be back in the running community, I also knew that I hadn’t done it the right way.  I knew that my training was terrible and I could do better.  So I looked ahead and planned to run another half marathon – this time I would train properly.

I’m sure you know where this is going.

I started out well.  At this point, Cullen was old enough to go into the jogging stroller (although he hated it), and so I’d take him for short weekday runs a few times each week.  On the weekends, I’d do longer runs and trade off the stroller with Casey.  I raced a local 15k and 5k, and felt amazing.  My speed was improving, my motivation was high, and I was training well.

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Right around this time, we moved to a new house and new neighborhood.  I really struggled to find good running routes, and desperately missed my old trails and loop around the lake.  I realize these seem like easy problems to solve, but in the midst of moving, working, and being at home with Cullen for very long days – it felt pretty overwhelming.

My training tanked, and I dropped down to running only one or two days each week.  The half marathon arrived, and while I was better trained this time, it still wasn’t the effort I’d hoped to give.  I ran the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon in June, and while my run went okay, it still didn’t feel like I’d hoped.

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To be totally honest, I think I jumped into some of these races because I felt pressure that I had something to prove.  So many of you have emailed and commented in the past, thanking me for inspiration and letting me know how I have motivated you toward your own goals.  I felt really driven to continue to inspire and motivate others, and I put pressure on myself that ended up just leaving me frustrated and overwhelmed.

I decided to take a big step back and reevaluate my relationship with running.  I jogged casually all summer – short runs here and there.  Between Casey’s long hours and Cullen’s absolute hatred for the jogging stroller, I didn’t have the energy to do much more.  I stopped writing about running because I didn’t feel inspiring.  I felt more confused than anything else.  Writing about running when I wasn’t really doing much just felt forced and awkward.

The other big piece of all of this is that I am running in a totally different body now.  I know every woman recovers and changes so differently from childbirth.  Right around the time that Cullen reached six months, my body started significantly changing – mostly due to breastfeeding, and Cullen’s voracious appetite.

As his needs continued to increase, it really started to wear on me.  My weight started to drop, and I felt like I literally could not eat enough to stay full or satisfied.  I had zero energy to do more than the basic stuff to get through each day.  I wanted to stay active and get outdoors, so I did a lot of walking, but very little running.

I also went through three horrific bouts with mastitis – all of which caused major breaks in my activity level, as well as decreases in energy.  At my midwife appointment last month, I asked her to check my iron levels because I’ve felt so sluggish and lethargic lately.  I have really been questioning why I suddenly felt so apathetic and unmotivated, when I used to be someone who bounced and ran through my days with gusto.

She called back a few days later to report good news – my iron levels were excellent!  But she followed that with something I hadn’t expected – my thyroid levels were way off.  After talking with my doctors and doing a good amount of Googling, I actually feel somewhat relieved to hear that perhaps I’m not just down in the dumps.  I have an actual hormonal imbalance that causes many of the things I’d described – lack of motivation, lethargy, depression, skin and hair changes – check, check, check.  (This runs in my family, so I’m not entirely surprised.)

I’m happy to have more information and a plan in place to get things back on track (medication, plus a few dietary changes).  I don’t think my thyroid condition is by any means responsible for my decrease in fitness, but I know it has had a big impact on my motivation and energy levels.  I know that you can make a million excuses for anything, but ultimately change has to come from within.

I also think I’ve taken a long enough break that I no longer feel pressured to live up to any (self-imposed) standards or requirements.  I don’t have to run marathons to be motivating.  And hopefully, with the right mindset and goals in place, maybe I’ll get back to running marathons.  Maybe not.  I have stopped guessing what will come next, and I’m trying to just enjoy the present.

In the meantime, I’ve started running again.  It feels great and I feel more excited about it than I have in ten very long months.  This post has gotten absurdly long, so I’ll share more tomorrow on where I hope things go from here…

Ultimately, my biggest motivation comes from wanting my kids to be part of a healthy and active family.  I hope that I can lead by example and make them proud.

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Thanks for sticking with me.

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168 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Alice     at 3:52 pm

Great post Emily! Btw…just got a call from my doctor this afternoon after some follow up blood work yesterday that my thyroid levels are low. It is great to find out that maybe there’s another reason (besides getting old!!) for just wanting to curl up and snooze after a long day instead of getting out for a jog. I’ll be really curious to see what kind of nutritional adjustments will work for you.

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Brittney     at 4:30 pm

I am glad you wrote this Emily. I already feel some of the same things you feel, since I’m not running during my pregnancy, and wonder what my running will look like post partum too. I don’t know that it will ever be back at the level it once was when I ran my half and full marathons. I’m ok with it, but I agree, it’s hard when you hear about all these seemingly hardcore pregnant runners and people who get right back out there and are even faster than they were before they had a baby. I just don’t know if that’s realistic for me either.

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Gena     at 4:47 pm

This is a great post, Emily. As someone who finds running to be hard WITHOUT being post-partem or a young mother, I cannot imagine how hard it would be to jump back in!

Ultimately, I believe fitness should be a joy. Part of why I’ve never run races or trained for a marathon is that, while I do like short distances, I just don’t love running that much. There are other things, like yoga, that I love enough to push through tough phases and persist with, because it really feeds my soul. Clearly, you have that kind of relationship with running, so I’m glad you’re getting back into it, but I hope you never feel pressure to do it. Your readers find you inspiring not because you’re a runner, but because you show passion and commitment to anything you do. Running isn’t the admirable trait; it’s just the outlet. xo

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks, friend! So true!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey     at 4:58 pm

I’m hypothyroid, and I can tell almost immediately when my levels are off. I’m lethargic, have no energy, and my emotions are out of CONTROL. I’m glad you got it figured out!

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Rachelle     at 5:44 pm

So glad to read that you are getting things organised. I too am a person whose body changed tremendously. I was a runner…then baby…then Adrenal Insufficiency. Diagnosed 2 years after baby. My weight dropped to 83 (from a normal 120 – I am 5’3″) and I was SO tired. I am most happy to read that you are ok with the changes. It was SO hard for me to accept the changes, but now, though I can’t run long distances anymore I am strong and fit and happy. My daughter is turning 5 in a few weeks and finally my health is almost under control. It is important to take care of your body. You only get one. So happy for you!! I love reading your blogs and cooking your recipes.

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Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy     at 5:46 pm

Thank you for being so honest! We all go through ups and downs, and I can’t even imagine how much more difficult those downs are when you have a baby to take care of. I hope that the medication and dietary changes help!

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Melanie @ Thinking Thin Loving Food     at 6:38 pm

Preach it sister! I’m in the same boat with workouts and BF issues (mastitis and recurring plugged ducts). At this point the marathon is being a new mom, moving to our new duty station and surviving the first year! I’m sorry to hear about the thyroid but happy to hear you have a STELLAR midwife. You rock Emily!

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Kate     at 6:44 pm

My daughter is just a week or two younger than Cullen, and I went through some of the same things you did (rough labor and delivery, lots of tearing, some baby blues and a lot of difficulty getting back into running) and I just have one ray of hope for you…once you decide to stop breast feeding, you might feel a bit better. I had to stop at 6 months when keeping up my supply and working 45 hours a week became too much for me…and within a few weeks I stopped feeling sick, had more energy, and felt more like myself again. It is awesome that you have made it so far with breast feeding (I am jealous because it didn’t go smoothly for my daughter and I at all and I thought you were super woman for figuring it out so well!) so I’m not trying to discourage that at all, just trying to give you hope that things may get better once you are done with it. Thanks for giving a real take on this stuff…it is refreshing to know that I’m not the only one who didn’t bounce back from pregnancy and childbirth in like two seconds. :)

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Emily Malone Reply:

Good to hear! I have a feeling breastfeeding has affected a lot of things – although I love it and am happy to have done it this long. But I’m also looking forward to getting back to just “me” again, and seeing how that feels!

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Marissa@ohhhsolovely     at 7:17 pm

this was a really great post! i had noticed that you stopped posting about running and i thought something might be up. don’t be too hard on yourself! i know firsthand that any imbalance in the body can cause some pretty significant challenges. i had several low vitamin levels last year & since i’ve gotten them up, i feel like a new woman. i’m sure you will get back on track with exercise once your thyroid levels are in normal range. good luck!

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Eileen     at 8:15 pm

I am so glad you found out somethin was wrong and are getting it taken care. I think a lot of times after pregnancy especially the first, new moms feel that the fatigue, depression just comes with the territory when there is something physically wrong. That happened to me but it took me a lot longer than 10 months to figure it out. I am happy for you and hope that this post helps other new moms to check things out sooner rather than later if they aren’t feeling right.

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Mary@FitandFed     at 9:08 pm

Hope you feel better on your thyroid meds…. I’m sure that didn’t help, and postpartum is already challenging enough. I think you have run a lot of races for a postpartum mom, I hope you are happy with all the things you did do, especially considering that your thyroid has been slowing you down.

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Army Amy*     at 1:04 am

I love reading what you have to say about running! I’m always excited to hear what’s working well and what roadblocks you are facing. I’m trying to get my running groove back (post-marathon slump plus summer heat plus a move to a new country all have my mileage and pace suffering.) Keep the honesty coming! That’s what people want to hear!*

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Jacqui     at 5:10 am

Emily,
You are such an inspiration to me. I found your blog about 6 months ago, since then you have made me look at what I put in my body and how I use it. At 27, I have started running (something I have always wanted to do). Your blog has given me a new respect for my body and what I put in in. Thank you, and keep up the good work.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Jacqui!

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Pam     at 7:36 am

Thank you for writing this! I am 14 mos post partum and have struggled so much with regaining my fitness. I finally have realized that it will come in time and have released myself from this internal pressure that I placed on myself (and for some reason felt that “others”/society placed on me!) For now, I like to jog (I can’t call it running anymore :), walk, and enjoy being with my baby outside. This is a time in my life to enjoy my days and not feel some kind of pressure to “get in a workout”…. but I do hope in a few years, when my kids are more grown, I will get back to the fitness level that I am used to. Good luck with everything! It is refreshing to hear your perspective and to realize I am not alone :) Thank you!

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laurie     at 12:24 pm

I think you’re on track with your mindset. I’m now 52 years old and am very fit (5’4″, 114 lbs). I’ve had 4 kids (all C sections!) and I decided early on that running was hard on my body and I could get just as much of a workout by walking/hiking in my hills and mountains around me. My kids are grown now(28, 26, 23, 20)and they know fitness is important to me and they look at me as a good role model and that makes me happy! My hubby and I climb a huge mountain every day for about an hour and I feel as fit or more fit than my running friends who are struggling now with knee problems!! Do what makes YOU happy!

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Lauren @ The Homeostatic Mindset     at 12:37 pm

Now THIS is an inspiring post. Real, honest and uplifting. Thank you, Emily :)

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Lyndsay     at 5:34 pm

I have not had a child and cannot compare my experience with yours but I was also fairly active until I had my gallbladder taken out, just last Thursday. It still amazes me how far back just that minor surgery can put someone, especially an active 28-year old. It took me 35 minutes to walk a mile on Wednesday, but just 20 today. After going through this experience, it definitely makes me appreciate my ability to be more active when I’m able, but I also am learning very quickly how much I really have to listen to my own body and do what works for me right now. Thanks for being so honest about your journey – you are still an inspiration!

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Ashley     at 3:13 pm

I have scanned through some of these comments and 100% agree that you are very motivating no matter what you do! I greatly appreciate reading about a person who is down to earth and, like everyone else in the world, has high and lows! Thank-you for being so honest – this in itself is motivating! But for the record, you have always been inspiring to me – even when your life changed with a baby!!! :) I will always enjoy reading your blog!

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Julie     at 8:02 pm

You are doing awesome. Be kind to yourself and if you haven’t already, read the book: Run Like a Mother. It will inspire you, it’ll make you laugh and it will remind you that you are not alone. Hang in there! :)

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Sarah     at 4:33 am

Thanks for your honesty in this post and sharing your journey. I find it difficult when my expectations don’t meet reality but I’m glad you’re going with the flow, so to speak. I love walking (it’s prob my fave form of exercise) and used to feel pressured to adopt a more intensive form of exercise in order to feel that I really am exercising. I felt this especially from reading my fave blogs (but that’s due to my own insecurities, i’m sure). Now I just listen to my body and adapt to where my life is at the time. That said, I’m not as toned as I was when I was running, and now that I’m pregnant I do miss just being able to go out for a run whenever I fancy :)

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Angela     at 12:25 pm

You’re inspiring by so much that you do! You don’t have to run marathons to do that. Any level of activity is great. Thanks for sharing your struggle to find a good place for activity.

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Corrina     at 8:30 pm

I didn’t start running until after I had my first child–and I ran 2 or 3 half marathons without properly training. I was just happy to be running and able to complete 13.1. Even without completely following a training plan or doing too many long runs, my times still improved. I think wherever you are at after having a baby–just be there! Baby will grow and things will change. I have 3 kids now, my youngest is 3.5 and I have so many running goals, but my life doesn’t allow for the training I wish it did. But I know one day it will and in the meantime I’ll run and train as I can.

I will also say that I’ve been through bad spells with my kids in joggers too—letting them cry and fuss for miles because I just needed to run. They got through it and we figured out our routines to make it work. Now when I run with the jogger, I often have Justin Beiber and other music my 3yr old likes blaring from my iphone to keep her happy. I’m more than happy to give people a chuckle as I run by!

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Chasity Grome     at 8:37 am

I know this is an older post, but I wanted to go ahead and comment anyway. Part of the reason you’re so motivating (at least to me) is because you make a real effort to stay active in your daily life and it’s apparent that fitness is very important to you. Even if your life gets to a point where you’re not able to run any races (even 5Ks) I’m motivated and encouraged by the fact that you try your best to balance your work with staying home with Cullen and with still finding the time and energy to get out and be active. Going for weekend hikes with a baby – most families don’t do that. Daily walks of 3 miles? Lots of moms just stick their kids in front of the TV, even at Cullen’s age. Part of what is so inspiring reading your stories isn’t just the specific things that you do, but it’s the overall picture of your life. From my point of view you’re doing a great job :)

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thank you so much, Chasity! This means a lot to me. :)

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Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » Weekly Wrap-Up: Workouts & Wardrobe.     at 10:09 pm

[…] but I thought I’d take a minute to talk about…running.  After Cullen was born, I had a really hard time both physically and mentally getting back into running.  It was a lot of typical new mom […]

Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » The Highs and Lows.     at 12:25 pm

[…] a consistent workout schedule.  I also discovered a thyroid issue that I started to manage (and wrote more about all of this here).  I look back at this picture now and can’t believe how worn out I look – […]

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