I have been on my lifestyle change of running and trying to be healthier and more balanced for a year and a half. Through this journey I have learned a lot about the amazing things my body can do, like run a half marathon. I have realized the value in taking time for self care. Fueling my newly very active body was something I also learned about.
I struggled with food for a long time. My average day on the farm includes at least 5 miles of walking. Plus, I do a decent amount of lifting, carrying and squats in my normal day. No, I’m not bragging about that. I’m saying it because that meant when I threw running in I was eating like a pig.
All. The. Time.
I simply couldn’t fuel my body enough. Or so I thought. But I wasn’t giving my body the fuel it needed. I was giving it too much of what it didn’t need and not enough of what it did. The cravings I had rivaled my nursing cravings and they were full of sugar. Anyone who is training for really long distance races will tell you the cravings are intense and hard to keep under control. It’s not uncommon for people to gain weight while training for a half marathon or any longer race.
Before I started training for my half I laughed and said that wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be standing in my kitchen scarfing down anything I could find. Well, talk about putting my foot and a lot of food in my mouth. I was definitely that person.
High Quality Food is Important
One of the things I learned to not gain weight while running long distances often is not based on a diet. It’s about eating high quality food all through the day. But, what does that mean? I like an expensive granola bar as much as the next person, but that’s not what I am referring to. I am talking about making your own food that has a lot of fruit, veggies, protein, fat and complex carbohydrates.
Buy combining these food groups most of the time, I can bet you will feel better and not get tired by the end of your training period. I’m not saying no treats. I will not tell you to cut out alcohol or sugar or salty foods during a training period. Unless you an elite athlete or if it’s the week of your race. I try to eat my best the week of my race.
Snacks are Essential
I realized while training snacks are even more important than normal. I always make sure I have snacks around the house that are healthy and quick. If I don’t have a snack I will eat way too much at lunch and dinner. I promise you it won’t be a healthy lunch or dinner choice too.
You might ask, what are my favorite snacks? Well, I have lots of easy to grab fruits and veggies. Carrots and avocado dip, Apples and Peanut Butter or a Plum and a piece of string cheese. These are a few of my favorites. Depending on how many miles I am running I might add in a piece of whole wheat bread or another slice of cheese. These snacks all include natural sugars, fats and carbohydrates. The bonus is, my toddler likes all of these snacks too so I can share.
Why Milk is An Essential Part of my Diet
When I get done with a run or workout I want something quick to refuel me. The hangry is real when I get to that point. We always have chocolate milk in our house for this reason. I’ve had a lot of people say they can’t stomach the thought of milk after a workout. Chocolate milk is a perfect combination of fluids, electrolytes and those 9 essential nutrients that are even more important after a hard workout. After your stomach settles chocolate milk can be the most fulfilling and delicious recovery drink.
Chocolate Milk provides the ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to aid your body in recovering from a hard workout. These carbohydrates help replace the fuel your body burned. The protein helps build muscles and repair the muscles that break down during running. We all loose fluids during a hard workout and they need to be replaced. Low-fat chocolate milk replace those fluids. The vitamins and minerals in milk build strong bodies.
Dairy plays a much larger part of my diet than a recovery drink. I noticed my body required a lot more protein than I originally thought. I knew I couldn’t just add more fruit and veggies into my diet, I needed a lot more high quality protein. The easiest way to get that is with cheese, yogurt and milk.
Don’t be Afraid of Your Food
When I started writing this, I wanted to get to this point. We live in a diet and cleanse centered society. It’s so easy to feel like you shouldn’t be eating anything. But let’s be honest, our bodies do amazing things and they need fuel to do that. Fuel your body in a balanced and healthy way and don’t feel bad about treating yourself. We all need a cookie or a chocolate bar and that one isn’t going to ruin everything.