For the last couple of months, I’ve been tracking and choosing foods based on getting my weight down a bit before marathon training. Now that I’m less than two weeks out from marathon training, it’s time to shift my focus a bit. For such a big new running goal, my focus needs to be on fueling performance rather than weight loss.
I’ll be honest – this is a tough mental shift for me. I’m not happy with where my weight is. I feel like the last two months of diligent tracking, good choices and frankly the “best” vacation eating I’ve ever done, have done zip for my weight which is incredibly frustrating. I’m not sure if it is age, something about the lupus, just a phase or my thyroid has gone out of whack (getting it checked as thyroid dysfunction commonly comes along with lupus) but the whole calorie in-calorie out balance is not working for me this summer. For a control freak who felt like I had a handle on losing weight thanks to my prior success, this is unsettling to say the least. To know I have honestly been eating good foods in good amounts and continue to gain is incredibly frustrating.
Looking on the bright side: This phase of getting my eating in shape again has health benefits beyond the scale, undoubtedly. (Thanks to my fabulous husband for reminding me of that!) It’s also got me aware of the little bites and treats that were sneaking into my day during my winter/spring training earlier this year. While weight loss isn’t my goal in marathon training, avoiding that “reward” mentality of indulging in too many treats when long runs ramp up will go a long way toward minimizing unnecessary weight gain during training.
Marathon training will be an important time to focus on really fueling my athletic endeavors (ha! I’m an athlete!) with my food and honestly, I’ve never really approached food that way consistently. When I was training for the back to back races I did for the Star Wars races, I thought about refueling on the weekend but didn’t really think about my weekday eating as fueling my workouts. Marathons are a whole different beast and the back to back half marathon training in the first half of my training cycle is also a serious undertaking. I need to think about food as fuel every day. I’m actually sort of hopeful that this shift in thinking (if I can get there!) will help with my food perspectives overall, not just during training.
With less than two weeks to go until training, I’ve already started this shift.
- I switched to a whole grain toast for my usual breakfast instead of my usual light bread (which I’ll be honest – who knows what that really is: low calorie but not a lot of health virtues).
- I also switched from egg whites to actual eggs.
- My lunches have become more protein and veggie based (mixed bowls of goodies mostly) than the usual deli meat on light bread that I bring.
- My family dinners (whether they realize it or not) have also shifted a bit to focus on a balance of veggies, whole grains and lean proteins with more of a nutrient than calorie focus. Last night, we had a steak salad with mixed greens, lean grilled steak, grilled bell peppers and feta cheese topped with an A1 vinaigrette modified from this recipe (I used 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt, 1/4 cup A1 and a bit of red wine vinegar that I didn’t measure, leaving out the honey because Darrell doesn’t like it and swapping sour cream for greek yogurt to up the protein a bit)
I’ve also carried on that water habit I established on vacation, where I set a goal of drinking no soda, into my daily life now. Since we’ve gotten home, with the exception of one beer and Diet Coke on Wednesday nights at Village Inn, I’ve been a water and coffee girl. Bonus: more water than coffee! Definitely an improvement for this working mama.
I’m not sure what to do about weighing in. My clothes are honestly all uncomfortable enough now that I’ll definitely be able to tell any changes good or bad with those, so I think I may stay off the scale for a while. That’s a scary thought, but if my focus is truly on good nutrition and good training, I think that might be the best so I don’t a) get depressed and chuck healthy eating all together if I continue this weird period of gaining and/or b) start underfueling my training in an effort to lose weight. A marathon is a big, once in a lifetime goal. It deserves my best effort in all respects.
I am still tracking, because I think that is going to help keep me honest. If I find myself struggling with obsessing over the calories in My Fitness Pal, I’ll switch to tracking on paper instead. I’m also going to start checking my food with the “Diet Quality Score” from Racing Weight just to give myself a little reinforcement that I’m doing the right things.
How do you handle the shift from eating for weight loss to eating for performance? In an ideal world, I suppose that wouldn’t really be much a shift in eating – and for me it really isn’t going to be in terms of actual food – but it is a HUGE shift in mindset for me, it turns out.