Once I started talking about running for weight loss, you showed up in droves with questions galore. I get.
In 2002, I was early in my weight loss journey as a junior in college. The extent of my knowledge was eat less, sweat more. Seriously, that was it!
Luckily that was about the time I really started to fall in love with running and more than wanting to lose weight, I realized that I wanted to feel good.
Over a few short years I went from a 35inch waist to 27 and I’ve maintained that 35lb loss without frustration or yo-yoing for over a decade! At your request, I finally put together a huge ebook of my best tips: Complete Guide to Running for Weight Loss.So does running help with weight loss?? HECK YES.
I know this not just personally, but from so many runners that the process of starting to run kick starts something else within us. While we’re burning calories, we’re also falling in love with our bodies and wanting to eat better, which is half the battle!
Today I’m providing a bonus section that’s no longer in the book, but remains valuable to the process of defining your perfect diet plan or better said way of eating to meet your goals.
Embracing the Food Journey
Instead of looking at a runners diet plan as what you SHOULD do to hit a race weight or contemplating all the foods you have to cut out, try reframing it as an adventure in food.
- Get ready to explore your best self
- take in the bright colors of the farmers market
- scour Pinterest for what appeals to you
- travel down aisles of the grocery store you might normally skip
- try out plant based meals
Food is an adventure, just like this crazy process of training for a race!
I love this quote because it is a reminder that FOOD is not the enemy!And it’s not just macros or vitamins from supplements, we need to eat.
It can be fun and enjoyable and easy, once you change your mindset, which is part of the tricks I share in the ebook. What you won’t find is a specific runner’s meal plan to lose weight because I believe in individuality and honestly, I’ve yet to find many of you who follow a meal plan after day 2 because it’s too massive of a mental shift.
However, tips like the one’s below along with how to run, strength train and change your mindset…those tools are readily available to create the perfect runners diet plan for your training.
Understanding those Tricky Food Labels
Let’s start with this simple thought: if it needs a label it’s probably not the best choice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have it or it’s bad, just that we always know what’s in an orange, a red pepper, a banana…single ingredient!If only labels were so honest, haaa!!
Have you ever seen Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with the all-natural label?? This alone should tell you that all natural doesn’t mean much. It can contain preservatives, HFCS, trans fats and more.
Sounds great, but they might have added MSG to make up for the flavor, which causes bloating or it might still be super high in sodium, just lower than the original version. I never thought much about sodium until my Dad’s heart attack. Now I’m much more aware and shocked at how high the amount is in so many foods, like bread!
No Sugar Added
A lot of foods naturally contain sugar, so just because none is added doesn’t mean it’s great for you. A Capri Sun has no added sugar, but we know it doesn’t contain what you need to fuel your body.
Sugar Free, Fat Free
If you see any of these labels walk the other way because that food is definitely processed. I will make one exception here and that is something like PLAIN Greek yogurt.
Unless you have gone through a process of determining that gluten is in fact an issue for you stick to 100% whole wheat. Why? These products usually cost more and are often higher in calories while containing less fiber
Could still contain enriched wheat or white flour, which is the processed variety that we are trying to minimize. Whole grain or 100% whole grain needs to be the first ingredient.
Made with Real Fruit
This one really blows my mind, but it’s true that box picturing strawberries may only contain pear concentrate! Especially rampant in kids’ products to help alleviate parental guilt, you’ve got to read the labels or serve up real fruit!
Can I use packaged foods?
Yes. I use Vega Sport products and almond milk because I’m too lazy to make these foods myself. That’s the key! Can you understand all the ingredients and make it yourself with enough time?
Do I need fortified foods?
These are a nice bonus for a lot of runners because it just helps us get closer to our daily nutrient needs. Our vitamin and mineral needs are often higher than the average person because of the stresses we put on our bodies.
What About Personal Labels?
Our labels go far beyond diet. We take on the “fat sister” or the “sugar fiend” or the “southern cook”. Even nice labels
like “healthy eater” can turn on us when we start feeling guilty if we ever have a cookie or piece of chocolate!
I am Vegan, I am Paleo, I am….Mug from goneforarun
Instead of learning, applying, absorbing what is useful, and rejecting what is useless, we often find ourselves caught in a label and therefore allowing it to make decisions for us.
There’s a fantastic book called Diet Cults, which debunks so many diets, but more importantly talks about how we fall in to these labels because they often give us a community, a connection to others.
Hmm now that’s interesting!
With each new trend we see a potential solution to our issues and we dive in while skipping over some pretty important facts, dietary programs need to be tailored to the individual based on:
- body type,
- activity levels
- metabolic/hormonal variances
- psychology factors
- cultural influence
- food preferences
Maybe you’ve heard all the great things about a raw diet and now you refuse to cook your veggies. I did this. I went all raw all the time…turns out my stomach got bloated and very unhappy when I didn’t cook any of my veggies. It took me months to realize that what they claimed was the BEST way, wasn’t even close to best for me.
This is not to say you can’t follow a specific way of eating, but instead to say that if it doesn’t feel right then don’t be so caught in the label that you can’t change.
Consider how things would change if you let go of one label this week?
What if you didn’t say “Oh I have such a sweet tooth”? When I stopped saying this it allowed me to start passing up treats that I didn’t really want because suddenly I wasn’t labeling myself as a someone who needed sweets. It sounds so minor, but what we tell ourselves we believe and we act on!
Don’t let your labels determine your food choices.
Start tuning in to your body for hunger signals or aches and pains, which will help you recognize things like food intolerances.
Have you noticed each time you head out to froyo you wake up with a runny nose? Or after a few weeks without grains on the Paleo program your energy has been really low and your sleep less deep? (super common as people miss out on key nutrients)
Or maybe the complete opposite, after cutting grains you feel more vibrant!
Tune in. Pay attention. Choose.
If you’re looking for more on how to lose weight running checkout the brand new ebook!
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