As per the norm, when moving to a new city about seven months ago, I gained about 15 pounds. The issue of stress eating compounded by a lack of training and races due to an impending knee surgery had me break the 190 mark for the first time in 8 years. At 5’7 on a good day, this weight equaled a very bad thing. Deciding to train for a triathlon was a way to force myself to lose some weight but the sheer amount of training appears to make it somewhat difficult. Racing at 170 or lower would make a huge difference but I am struggling to get there despite the 15+ hours of exercise each week. Here are some reasons why:
1. I love carbohydrates. LOVE them. This past week I ate pizza, pasta, and/or bread at almost every meal. I need to figure out how to add more lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables into my diet so that I am full longer and stop eating so much bread. I used to have a meal plan where salad was always available, now lunch consists of peanut butter and jelly 3+ times a week. Something needs to give and it is up to me to make that change. At the end of the day purchasing and bringing more salads to work should help me get through the day.
2. Working in student affairs is also a difficulty. We have programs and events almost everyday and you can’t have a program without food. Healthy food is generally not on the menu and when you do get healthy options they are usually just carrots and dip. Candy and other sweets are usually available at a moments notice and throughout the day very hard to regulate. Since I control the food in one area I need to make sure that I provide healthy options not only to control my diet but to help students make good choices as well.
3. Calorie overcompensation is probably the biggest issue in my world. Not only am I super hungry after a long or hard training session, I tend to eat poorly and eat a lot. While I may feel hunger like Michael Phelps after a 30 mile bike ride, I do not even come close to burning the same amount of calories he does in training. It is also unhelpful that calorie monitors on apps and in gyms are horrible. They overestimate your calorie burn and add in calories you would have burned remaining sedentary. After a training session I will normally come home and eat whatever I can justifying the caloric intake any way I can. This is only because I am hungry and not because I need it so I need to learn to slow down and let my mind/body balance reconnect and realize I am not as hungry as I think. Also, I need to eat smart and not turn to bread immediately.
These issues have made it really difficult for me to lose weight during training and did the same when I trained for the marathon last year. While my fitness is increasing dramatically, it would be that much better if I was shedding fat as well. At a lower, healthier weight, I will also lower my risk for a repeat injury. As I continue along the last 10 weeks of training, I need to develop the following habits that can stick with me after the race:
1. Eat a healthy breakfast, preferably a smoothie. In a smoothie I can control the calorie levels and supplement my protein intake. Also, since they are cold, it takes longer to consume a smoothie which will allow me to feel full without needing to turn to bread.
2. Buy and eat more fruits and vegetables. Simple but for some reason quite difficult.
3. Substitute salads for sandwiches at lunch. Add some turkey on top of the greens to get protein or even a little cheese but cut out the bread to make a big impact.
4. Drink water then shower after a training run. Hopefully that 15 min delay plus water will help offset the ravenous feelings. Sometimes I think I mistake dehydration for hunger and this should help the issue.
5. Stop eating at every student affairs program. This is a hard one but so necessary. I can try to bring my own snacks so at least I can eliminate desire while still being health conscious.
6. Drink more water overall. The more water I drink, the longer my stomach will be full. This should manage some of my eating habits.
7. Get more sleep. If I am rested I will have more energy throughout the day and will not need to rely so much on food for energy boosts.
8. Keep track of my weight. I am not a daily scale user but once a week at the same time each week will give me a better gauge on progress than my normal sporadic and rare meetings with the scale.
9. Be realistic. I love bread, pizza, and pasta. That will not change. I just need to moderate my intake and keep less trigger foods in the house.
10. Be forgiving. There will be good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. With a training and food blog there will be days like last Saturday when I eat horribly in San Francisco. This is ok, I just need to make sure I plan to compensate when those days inevitably happen.
If I can stick to the plan I will hopefully hit my sub 170 target weight on race day and be able to keep myself at a healthy level between competitions.
What helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight while training?