changing my diet for the better . . .

We all know how to eat well. The fact of the matter is, however, that we often choose not to. And even if we think that we’re eating relatively healthy, we can always do a teeny bit better. Well, lately, I’ve been eating like crap. I don’t really get the same enjoyment out of cooking as many others do, but I’ve decided that enough is enough with this nonsense. After speaking with one of my other cross-country/track buddies tonight, here is just one sample of what a healthy diet should look like:

*It should be noted that Karen is a vegetarian.

Breakfast:

  • all natural cereal w/ milk
  • fresh blueberries
  • banana
  • raisins
  • pineapple
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • orange juice

Lunch:

  • whole wheat sandwich w/ cheese or hummus, lettuce & tomato
  • grapes
  • blue corn chips

Snack:

  • carrots
  • crackers

Dinner:

  • mixed green salad (carrots, broccoli, peppers, tomato, onion)
  • sauteed boneless, skinless chicken breast w/ brown rice & veggies [this is my addition for an option]

Ok, now that you’ve seen a sample of what someone else eats, here’s what I have been eating lately:

Breakfast: 2 cups of cereal w/ non fat milk, one lowfat yogurt, 2 cups of tea
Snack: one yogurt, one slice of bread with butter on it
Lunch: one yogurt, 2 cups of tea and/or water w/ lemon in it
Dinner: 97% lean burger with yellow onion sliced on top, tater tots on the side
Late night snack (after 8pm): something usually high in sugar like cookies- though not all the time

Sometimes the choice for dinner will vary depending on where I am though. In the past few weeks, I was astonished to see that I had been eating out more than I thought- stopping in at fast food restaurants with my boyfriend (who is a personal trainer, mind you!), and even though I am choosing grilled chicken sandwiches at these fast food establishments, I could probably stand to not eat the sandwich with the bread, french fries and soda that comes with it.

You Know Your Body Better

I know better. And I’ve never eaten this poorly in my life, so what gives? Eating well and taking care of your body takes discipline. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how counterproductive it is for me to go and run for an hour only to then turn around and stuff my face with something that is unhealthy only hours later. The problem lies in the fact that I don’t like preparing meals. In my mind, it seems like preparing a meal takes more time than it does to actually eat it.

My Solution?

Come up with a written meal plan. Talk to other people who exercise like you do and find out what they are eating. Get an opinion. Visit a few supermarkets, compare prices and compile a healthy shopping list. GET IT IN WRITING. Depending on the type o f person you are, it may be easier for you to stick with something if it is written down. Eating healthy is challenging in the fact that you have to have the mental discipline to absolutely refuse to eat the things that you know are bad for you despite the fact that they are downright d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

But enough talk. Tomorrow is a new day, and it is never too late to make a change. The hardest part is getting started. The thing about my diet is that it’s the little things that need to be changed. My diet isn’t horrible; it’s just not great. I’ll be documenting my diet as I progress, this way we can all sort of see how a diet can affect or effect athletic performance, if at all.

Runners just do it- they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first.

-Anon.

30 degrees and NOT running

So, due to the powers that be- the powers being the fact that I was up until almost 2am as well as the fact that when I did wake up it was near 30 degrees outside- I did not go running yesterday. Instead, I decided that my time would be better spent going to the mall, and then sampling apple and pumpkin pie. Ugh. Have I no resolve to do better?!

Focus.

Running, like most other sports, is extremely unforgiving if you aren’t careful. Previously, I had mentioned how I became injured during a soccer game, which forced me to take a few weeks off. Now, in those few weeks, I probably could have done some sort of other exercise to keep myself going (such as abs or…something). But I didn’t. This is why it’s important to know your body. When I went to the doctor- or even before I went, one of my friends said, “You’re going to go there and he’s not going to tell you something you don’t already know…You’re knee is sprained and you need to just rest it, take some ibuprofen and ice it.” I knew this, and that is exactly what happened. But I needed to hear it confirmed from a professional-someone who went through years of medical school and passed difficult exams…someone who could tell me what the individual names were for all of my bones and had a “Dr.” before his name. Mostly, what I wanted to hear was that I would be ok- that my suspicions were confirmed but at the end of the day, it was no big deal. I think that’s what anyone wants.

Digging out.

So, now comes the problem I’ve been struggling with: how to get and keep myself motivated. in the past, I would get up at 5:30 in the morning before classes to go for runs- not because I wanted to though, but because I had to. I was an obligated to do so because I was a full scholarship athlete on a Division 1 cross-country team- a team that was ranked among the top 20 in the nation. Now, though- what is my motivation, other than to keep the flab & cellulite monsters away?

In a lot of ways, I equate fat with laziness because in my mind, it can be prevented with a healthy diet and a good dose of exercise. But lately, I haven’t been doing well at either. Each morning, it’s up to me to get up and go for a run no matter what the weather forecast is. The thing is, I still want running to be something that is fun; something that I enjoy. And in my eyes, if I have to force myself to do it, I slowly suck a little of that joy out each time; so, I continue to struggle. I keep having to remind myself that if running was easy, then everyone would do it. It all seems to boil down to discipline, which is what I am lacking right now.


If someone says, ‘Hey, I ran 100 miles this week. How far did you run?’ ignore him! What the hell difference does it make?…The magic is in the man, not the 100 miles.

-Bill Bowerman

35 degrees and running

I’m not perfect. This morning I woke up and was comfortable and miserable all at the same time. Comfortable because I was nestled under a warm down comforter but miserable because my nose was stuffed up from the heat running intermittently throughout the night. I looked over at my clock, and just as luck would have it, it read 6:15am. I knew that my alarm was gonna’ go off in 45 minutes anyway, and as I lay there contemplating whether or not I should just get up or sleep in today, the minutes ticked by. Before I knew it, it was almost 7am, and I figured that I might as well get up because I sure as heck wasn’t gonna’ go back to sleep. I knew also that I really wanted to get myself back into a regular routine with running….but it was SO cold outside and I was SO warm!

Don’t Think; Just Run

Too often, we dwell on things and eventually we talk ourselves out of doing something that is probably good for us. When it comes to running early in the morning (especially when the weather is cold), YOU CANNOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO THINK. I say this because the more you think about how cold it is, and how comfortable you are, etc, you will quickly come up with a laundry list of lame excuses for not doing it. And the funny thing of it is, at the end of the day, you’ll feel WORSE about being lazy than you would if you had worked up the nerve to get your butt out of bed!

So that’s just what I did. I only allowed myself to lay in bed and think about it for a few minutes before I decided that if I didn’t just get out of bed and run, chances were likely that I wouldn’t run at all today.

Now, if I could just somehow stick one foot out from under my warm covers…. 


It was sorta’ like testing the pool water before you get in. Clearly, it was more difficult than usual to get myself out of bed today (ie. my comfort zone) to do something that would ultimately benefit me. I continued on:

Ok- one foot out…Geez- it’s cold! (foot quickly retreats to warmth) Ok, ok- this is ridiculous. You’re already awake for crying out loud and even though you’re tired, you’re not going to go back to sleep, so it’s better to just jump out of bed and get your running clothes on as quickly as possible before you change your mind…


And that’s what I did. I scrambled out of bed, and then I turned around and made the bed so that I wouldn’t be tempted to get back into it. Then I brushed my teeth, threw on my running gear and quietly exited my apartment. The air outside was cold, but not bitingly so. It actually woke me up. I took a couple of shallow, cold breaths, descended the few flights of stairs and jogged out of my apartment complex. Morning runs can be a bitch.

Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?’

-Peter Maher, Irish-Canadian Olympian & sub 2:12 marathoner

the journey of a thousand miles . . .

…begins with one step. And that’s what it took to get me out of bed this morning. I’ve definitely taken full advantage of having two weeks off from doing any sort of exercise or activity. This was all due to a slight injury I suffered about a month ago now when, during a soccer game, a girl from the opposing team pretty much tackled my right knee. In all of my years of being an athlete, spraining my knee was probably the first “real” injury I’ve ever suffered. Eh- but what the heck-it forced me to take some time off and gave me a great excuse to be lazy.

So, with that said, I played in my last soccer game of the season two days ago, and today I ventured out to go for my first run in well over two weeks. As I sit here typing, I could probably be spending my time better by stretching- but the point is, my knee felt great. Over the past few weeks since this mishap took place, I’ve noticed how having one thing go wrong can sorta’ throw a wrench into things if you’re not careful. For example, one of the first things I would do each morning was go for a run. However, after this happened, I decided to try to sleep in (although somewhat unsuccessfully). I’d wind up laying in bed tossing and turning because I was too awake to go back to sleep and too tired to get out of bed.

Looking back over the past month, the mistake(s) I made when I found out that I hurt my knee were:

  • I should’ve NOT played the rest of that game.
  • I should’ve given myself the full two weeks off versus coming back only a week later to play in my next soccer game.

Sometimes, when you’re an athlete (or really, just depending on your personality), it is really difficult to hold back the reigns on yourself. All I could think about while the doctor was looking over my knee was “Please say it’ll be ok so that I can play in my next game!” I wanted so badly to play in my next soccer game, that I ignored how my body felt. This is the mistake that we too often make, and one which usually results in us further injuring ourselves. So, even though I wanted to go for my run this morning and sorta’ pick up right where I left off, I had to remind myself to take it easy….just take it easy, girl….

Frustration is the first step towards improvement. I have no incentive to improve if I’m content with what I can do and if I’m completely satisfied with my pace, distance and form as a runner. It’s only when I face frustration and use it to fuel my dedication that I feel myself moving forwards. -Anon