Friday, June 18, 2010

Run for fitness, eat for weight loss.

I heard that twice last week, as things that are meant to hit us on the head are usually repeated in some kind of freaky repeat-text-message-from-the-universe way. Actually, the first time I heard it, Dr. Oz said it (and don't think for a minute I really want you to know I watch that obnoxious poop show, but I don't think I can explain my thought process without that creepy little elf doctor) and it went something like "exercise for fitness, eat for weight loss." At that point I thought hmm, that's some good advice, right there. Then I saw it again on a running forum with the word "run" subbed in for "exercise" and I thought okay, P... time to see if this works.

Summer is my return-to-fitness time if for no other reason than fresh veggies and sunshine abound and I have nothing else on which to fixate. As I said, I've been doing pretty good for a few months trying to incorporate the Michael Pollan kind of advice: "eat food... [i.e. things that your great-grandma would recognize as food], not too much, mostly plants." Of COURSE I'm still eating meat, you ninny. I big puffy heart meat and fish, but I'm trying to take a side dish or accent kind of attitude when it comes to my proteins rather than a main event kind of fixation. We're trying to buy healthier meats when we can afford it. I've also taken a long hard look at how much I really need to be stuffing my face with empty carbs all day--I'm looking at you, pretzels/Cheetos/Cheez-Its/Kettle chips. If I have to choose between a bunch of crappy crackers from a box and a small piece of extra-dark chocolate or homemade bread a day, I think you know which I'll choose every time.

I've been eating full fat foods, just in small quantities. Chocolate. Avocados. Butter. Real cheese (bought some delicious Havarti at the Grocery Outlet this week). Ice cream. Whole milk in my iced coffee. Like I said, small amounts, which I then try to savor. I've been making bread all the time and loving the fact that I know where it came from and exactly what's in it. I'm trying to eschew soda and corn syrup. I've stopped buying anything that makes a health claim on it, which I'm coming to see is usually a cover for hiding lots of chemicals. I'm trying to not eat things that are processed, or if they have to be, do the processing myself. Of course this is all way easy since I'm home all the time and as I said, fresh veggies are to summer as awesomeness is to PDawg. Or something. But most notably it's all produce, all the time. I'm Crunchy McVeggieson lately, thanks in part to fruit stands and farmers' markets. I have zero ability to predict how long this will last, FYI.

The toughest thing is always eating out--by out I mean not at home, because as in E's quest to be Gluten-free, we've seen that we have so much more control when we make the food ourselves. Most restaurants have choices that make it easier, but I found myself staring down the carby end of an authentic Mexican food menu last weekend and not really having a lot of options that were going to be great. I think I did okay, but not stellar. Family BBQs are hard too because I want to slip into my old binge-y pants and stuff my face with comfort food... and at some parties every single thing called "salad" has mayo in it. So... you feel me. It's just not ideal. I got a little grabby with some french bread and spinach dip last weekend and I'm not proud. Ugh, it was a very "Gollum" kind of moment. One good thing that's come out of all this healthy eating is that when I don't eat well (like Spinach Dip Fest '10), I really notice how crappy it makes me feel. I guess that's good, in a crummy sort of way.

It's working. I've lost some weight--not anything to write home about yet, but it's steady--but I find this to be in direct contrast to last summer when I started running for weight loss and found myself gaining an inordinate amount of weight right off the bat. But what's different from last year is that last year I'd try to keep my net calories under a certain number--so basically last year I'd try to stay at X number of calories, but then if I did a long run and burned about 700 calories, I'd be like WOO HOO, 700 free calories! and I'd promptly eat X+700 calories, not paying so much attention to what those calories were. The way I'm applying the "run for fitness, eat for weight loss" mantra is to just ignore the calories I'm burning by running, but to try to make sure I'm getting all the nutrition I need in my food and not go over my calorie ideal no matter if I ran that day or sat on my patoot. Does that make sense? I hope so.

Listen. I'm no Ethiopian distance runner. In fact, I'm more of the slow-ass-granny-in-a-mauve-tracksuit persuasion. And I'm not so high on the foodie/nutritionista chain. But what I know is that when I eat good things and move my body, it's good. I know how I feel (great), how I sleep (like a rock), the mood my tummy's in (agreeable), and the state of my Crazies (almost nonexistent). I'm not getting hung up on losing the weight, because if like last year it doesn't happen, I don't want to be angry at myself again. Part of this whole being healthy deal is accepting that for whatever reason (read: hormones, aging, cruel fate, gravity), my body decided to stage a revolt at 30 and stop being what it had been for oh, the last 14-16 years: fit looking. (Paging Operation Beautiful!) It's just different and learning not to hate it is part of the deal. It might take a while, but I know that right now I am taking some good steps toward that end.

My new run schedule is basically that I'm doing two shorter runs during the week and one long one on the weekend, with two days of walking. I know this is no serious runner schedj, but it's enough to make me feel like I'm getting in better shape and not so much that I get burned out. It's what I did to prep for my race last year, and that went fine. I love walking. When I walk I get to just enjoy being outside without having to hack up a lung or chafe anything, so that's pretty cool. It helps me clear my head and catch up on my podcasts. Maybe I'll start to love running again. We'll see.

I have no idea where all this healthy stuff will go as soon as I return to work and that whole shebang, but for now I'm having a very lovely little summer. As always, I'll keep ya posted.


  1. Love "Run for fitness, eat for weight loss"!! What a good concept. Tendonitis in my foot/ankle is holding me back from running for a few weeks, but I am attempting Weight Watchers at the moment. I hate counting, but need the accountability until my eye for portions is back to normal... and doing WW while trying to eat clean is HARD. I can't substitute fake sugars for 0 points or eat frozen meals... but I'm doing it!

  2. I'm really liking this concept as well. I tend to go a little calorie crazy on the days when I get a great workout but I would be much better off with trying to eat well 90% of the time. Thanks for sharing! I also think your running sched. is great 3 days a week is nothing to turn up a nose at.

  3. This was actually a very inspiring post! Thanks for sharing :)