In 2000 I decided to up my running and go for the full marathon. I thought by the day of the race I would be a lean, mean, muscle-machine. Boy was I wrong.
I actually gained three pounds and it wasn't muscle. Even though I was knowledgeable about nutrition (or so I thought) I had this idea that I could go to town on whatever was in my kitchen on the days of my long runs. I would run three hours and then walk to Eastern Market and buy a giant cookie (really a pancake) from the German lady.
Over the years I continued to eat a lot of sugar because I thought I could treat myself. Hey, I just ran four hours – how about a pizza! I just biked for six hours – where's my Frappuccino? I swam 2 miles then biked around Jordan Lake, I need a 300 calorie smoothie, followed by a slice of pizza, followed by a Frappuccino because I worked out for 6 hours today! It didn't matter that I was eating sugary gels and drinks the whole time I was training, I still wanted more.
Whether you're training for an endurance race or you're just doing a 45-minute workout every day, there's a time to treat and a time to get real. I actually had it all wrong the way I fed myself 5-15 years ago. Because I was an endurance racer, I should have been eating even more nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods because training is hard on the body. When I started getting real about what I was doing, it was an ‘aha', the same way eating for business travel was an ‘aha'.
If I'm traveling for business all the time, I can't eat like I'm on vacation because I'm not. This is my new norm.
If I'm training hard for racing all the time, I can't eat like it's a treat because it's not. It's my new norm.
First I started to just treat myself after races, but one summer I raced about three weekends a month. If I'm putting empty crap in my body, how did I expect to recover for my next race?
Then I started treating myself after important races.
Then I didn't really care any more about treating myself because I actually preferred the nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods I was eating. A LOT of what sports performance boils down to is nutrition. Two people can do the exact same workouts every day but how they treat themselves when they aren't training is where it counts and separates the flock.
I'm not boring. I do have desserts every once in a while. I made a rule a couple of years ago to only have sweets on the weekends, holidays and the 19th of the month (monthaversary). Now I can go a whole weekend without having anything because it's not what I crave. It has to be really good for me to want it or there has to be someone I'm enjoying it with. I'll play along when people are visiting me and suggest ice cream but it's usually because I know they want to, not because I'm really craving it.
When you change your habits you change your life. I would have NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS thought I would ever get to the point that I didn't care about dessert.
You're body doesn't know that you are treating yourself. It only knows what you are putting in it.
If you have a dessert every day, make a smaller portion.
Then try every other day.
Then just try the weekends.
Then only have something if you can share it with someone else.
Small changes make a big impact. What small change can you make this week?