Me vs. Food

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My diet has been a struggle since I knew what the word diet was. I have an insatiable sweet tooth, and a penchant for happy hours: two major pound-packers. Worse, for years, I thought pasta and bread with olive oil and other yummy Italian meals were “healthy” because growing up in an Italian family with two chefs for parents (not really “chefs”, but their food tastes like they are!), these were common meals.

While my family has been blessed with a fast metabolism that allows them to eat all this food and make it disappear instantly, like a magician, I do not have these magical abilities. For years, I have slugged it out, running, biking, roller blading or participating in other physical activities just to partake in these daily foods without gaining weight, certainly knowing I wasn’t going to lose any weight.

As I became more and more frustrated with my weight, I dove into cookbooks, recipe books, fitness magazines, nutrition blogs, weight-loss books – anything I could get my hands on that would teach me how to be thin. I have lived on my own for four years, and although I miss my parents’ cooking, the meager meals I serve myself contain decidedly less calories. When I first set out on my own I would boil broccoli and eat it with sprinkled pepper for dinner. This was a solution for awhile – but after a few years, I grew tired of boiled, bland vegetables every night alternated with Special K on other nights.

Although I love pasta, I rarely eat it. I drink coffee black. I switched all carbs to “whole-wheat”, all dairy is skim, I started limiting the cookies, sugar and, eventually (and heartbreakingly) the booze. It is not often I will opt to eat a burger – or a sandwich for that matter – with bread. As I worked out harder, ate healthier and STILL didn’t see my weight drop, I cut back on most carbs. Slowly, I peeled away vice by vice. Cheese? An evil now.

Why the HELL was I still the same weight?

Deep frustration set in. I spoke to a trainer who told me my skim milk and fiber cereal go-to breakfast was junk. Sure, I thought I was eating healthy, but everything I was eating was “food sugar”.

Another round of cuts. No more milk, no more fruit. Absolutely no more cereal, which was loaded with carbs. This was especially hard to take as I eat cereal sometimes twice a day and always thought it was a healthy, affordable, nutritient-rich choice. I’m at the point now, where I do not know what the heck to eat.

I thought training for a half-marathon would have me dripping off weight with my sweat, but instead I’m ravenously hungry during the day and fighting the urge to eat more simply because I’m pushing even harder during workouts.

I now start each weekday with an egg white, veggie omelet. Daily, I eat the same fiber-packed salad with a protein for lunch. I‘ve added in protein mix with water post-workout. Dinner changes daily but I try to keep it light and healthy. The problem with these alterations is that I’m too hungry to make it until lunch. My stomach is grumbling hours before dinner. I cheat on the diet a lot. If something tempting is put before me, it’s hard to resist it. Some days, I break as I give into my binge-eating cravings. Before a long run, I’m afraid to eat only a 150-calorie egg white omelet as I know that won’t sustain my energy. Instead, I eat something like whole-wheat pancakes and feel disgusting my entire run because I know that I’m barely burning off the calories in this meal.

I need a solution!

I am constantly trying to uncover others’ go-to diet tricks.

In addition to my running, and cross-training, I am weight training, eating protein at every meal, and drinking protein after weight-lifting. I’ve been convinced by over a half-dozen fitness professionals that weight-lifting will not cause me to “bulk up” as I always feared, but will torch more calories than cardio, while slimming down my chubby parts quicker. I think it’s a good thing that my appetite is up, because it means my metabolism must be kicking up. I need to make even healthier choices. From everything I’m reading/hearing, fruit is bad too – packed with sugar.

The answer seems to be at most one serving of fruit, one serving of carbohydrate. Clearly, no added sugars. No booze, no cookies. No Thai, no Italian, no fun.

This leaves me to only vegetables and bland protein for all meals. I’ve been snacking on deli turkey slices, protein shakes and 0% Greek yogurt. I work out every day for at least an hour. I walk 5 miles roundtrip to work each day. I’m training for a half-marathon!! The weight just isn’t budging.

My new goal is to uncover non-fruity, non-carb, tasty dinners/snacks that don’t contain too many calories and won’t leave me running to down half a bag of Oreos in a fit of hunger. (It was a weak moment, but it happened. And I worked out for the next two and a half hours, although I realize that probably only deleted half of what I ate.) I will research these options through my continued goal of finding the healthy mix of weight-training, cardio and food deprivation that creates permanent weight loss. And, if I ever reach my goal weight – I’m going home for a huge bowl of my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. Followed by a long run.

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About the13thmile

I am proud to now say I am a half-marathon runner! Three half-marathons qualify for that status, I think. I blog about about running, nutrition and sometimes some other stuff. I share my research, tips and experiences with you, and am inspired by the supportive running community! I enjoy connecting with other runners, and hearing about other people's running experiences. Feel free to reach out if you have ran marathons or half marathons in the past!
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6 Responses to Me vs. Food

  1. rice1077 says:

    I felt like I had written this…we have the exact same issues. I am training for a full marathon and honestly thought that at least some weight would come off. But my appetite has also increased as well negating any weight loss.

    It’s an incredibly frustrating position to be in. I recently participated in a sprint triathlon and felt like a heifer next to some of the lean, toned women. So I’ve been paying special attention to food and drink intake. I write down everything I eat, have cut out all cookies, cakes, etc, severely limited my alcohol intake, and watch my portions.

    So far I haven’t seen any weight loss via the scale. My pants are fitting a bit better so that’s improvement, right?

  2. the13thmile says:

    Thanks for your reply! This is a common problem- I have spoken to a few nutritionists recently, and will be posting some of their advice in the upcoming week or so. Stay tuned!

  3. Frustrating, huh? I’m sorry you’re having such a rough go of it, when you’re obviously putting in a lot of effort. My #1 rule is to drink cold water throughout the day. It doesn’t satisfy hunger, but it does keep me feeling refreshed and hydrated. A rule I wish I followed better is to eat lots and lots of non-starchy vegetables — think kale, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes — all of which are really good grilled, a cooking method that pumps up the flavors.

    Good luck!

  4. I completely understand. When I started cycling four years ago, I lost a good bit of weight in the first year or two. Since then, even adding running, my weight stays the same all the time. I’m not a dieter, but I do try to eat responsibly. I just know that I still haven’t matched the amount of calorie intake versus expenditure.

    But, I also know that I have to maintain a good balance of what I eat. Proteins, fats, carbs, and yes, dairy is still important in our diet for repairs as we train. In addition, we have to get some enjoyment from our diets or we might be tempted to throw in the towel.

    I know that my body has changed. It is now an athlete’s body. I listen to it. I feed it, and I make it work. Though I can’t seem to get my middle down much, my legs and lower body is much smaller. I realized that this week when I went swimming and realized that my swim togs are from the old times. They fit and feel rather loose. Time for some new ones. Keep on running…and writing.

    • the13thmile says:

      It sounds like you’ve seen slow progress over time, which is the healthy way to drop the weight. Thank you for sharing your story and hope for your continued success!

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