Saturday, January 10, 2015

Food food food food food

Running makes me even hungrier than normal.

I'm a hungry person to start, so when I run regularly I have to eat a lot. The trick to eating as much as I do is to pay attention. I don't strictly count calories for two reasons: 1. I hate counting calories; the act makes me totally twitchily irritated. 2. I was diagnosed with a non-specific type eating disorder a few years ago. Part of the recovery is not counting  calories, not weighing yourself, and talking a lot about how much you have cut back on exercise. Real fun stuff. I can tell you that the last thing you want to do after working hard at recovery is to go back to counting calories. Every once in a while, when I notice my weight slipping to a range that means new pants are imminent unless I lose a few pounds, I will count calories for a week. That is all I have patience to attempt, and it sufficiently resets my concept of how much I need to eat. I typically don't have to do much more.

This paying attention thing, how does it work? I have to confess, my style of paying attention is fairly simple: eat when I am hungry (which is all the time), and I shoot for an 80/20 split over the course of the day.

What do I mean by 80/20 split? I mean 80% of the time the food I'm eating is providing essential nutrients and is made of things that are pretty healthy. I eat a lot of vegetables. I drink green juice (which is getting easier every day, if you haven't noticed. Even V-8 Juice brand is making a green version with no tomatoes for those of us with heart burn). I focus on whole grains, lots of colors, lean protein sources. 20% of the time, I'm eating something that maybe isn't so healthy. I love chocolate. I love wine. I love any type of food that comes in dip form.

Here are the most important things to remember about food in my world:
Normal eating isn't being perfect every day. Normal eating means some days you eat more, some days less. Some days you eat all the servings of vegetables you are supposed to, some days you eat donuts. Normal eating is less about striving for perfect food days every day (and we can talk about the pain and stress of trying to have perfect food days, if you like), and more about eating things that make you feel good with out guilt.

Fuel is essential for a good run. I NEVER have a good run when I realize I am really hungry before I start. A little hungry? Fine. I can make it. Hungry hungry never makes for a good start. I putter out after a few miles. This totally seems like a duh moment, but I swear I used to always run on an empty stomach. It was part of my eating disorder, and I've finally realized that it just doesn't work.

My renegade nutritionist who helped me through the first part of my recovery gave me the gift of knowing that perfect isn't what I need to achieve; she also gave me the gift of telling me she eats Poptarts. When you are as caught up in being perfect as I was, hearing a nutritionist say she eats Poptarts is a revelation.

Oh, there is one more piece: working at maintaining a grateful heart. When you are grateful for the food in front of you, it becomes less about trying to be perfect, and more about appreciating the moment. I'm not very good at this. I'm inclined to be critical of myself. It is a practice though, and I'm trying to make this practice a part of my training.

Stay warm out there (unless you are somewhere warm, then stay cool).

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