Reassessing your plate

By TERESA HAMMOND

The basis for this column space came shortly after or right around the time I first shared my personal journey in our December 2014/January 2015 209 Magazine.

Entitled “Change comes from within,” the piece shared some personal, as well as practical insights on how I was able to take hold of my life mentally and physically. Our general manager, Drew Savage, loved the idea of a recurring space where this could be examined on a regular basis for our readers.

Fortunately, I happen to love sharing what I know from firsthand experience, which the poor guy (and other office mates) are privy to on the regular. I live with a crazy kind of passion for just about anything I latch on to, so hearing me cackle about a fun run, an inspiring community member or recent life lesson is pretty much commonplace.

The idea for this space was to maintain variety on what I’ve learned and continue to learn as I maintain a 60-plus pound weight loss going on six years later. It’s not easy, but it is doable and life can be ‘normal.’

While it has much to do with routine and commitment, acceptance is also (in my opinion) critical and key.

Acceptance in the way of setback, struggle as well as continued success. Belief in oneself and confidence in our ability can prove to be our biggest barrier. But … it can be overcome.

Since my weight loss journey began with a health coach and structured program, I’m still intrigued by food and what works versus what doesn’t. Prior to losing the weight in 2011, and running my first marathon in 2013, ‘fad dieter’ would have best described me.

What I’ve learned as of late, is that this can (and has) create bad habits, as well as propagate incorrect information. For example, several years ago I cut carbs completely from my diet. So much so that to eat a piece of sourdough bread (which I love) would bloat my stomach for days on end.

Most recently I picked up the latest book penned by endurance sports writer and athlete Matt Fitzgerald, entitled “The Endurance Diet.” A local guy, with a laundry list of book achievements, Matt and I first crossed paths last spring. As fellow writers and runners we spoke a bit of the same language.

While I don’t consider myself to be an “endurance athlete,” I was interested in learning what insight Matt might have to share. I also like his writing style and thoroughly enjoyed his previous book “How Bad Do You Want It.” It should also be noted that the word ‘diet’ should not be perceived as deprivation, but rather choice of food for optimum result in both weight and performance.

The book was a great read. Matt chooses to imbed himself in the topics he takes on. So in this case, he traveled the world and sat with top notch athletes to assess what was on their plates. How did they eat? How often and why?

Among the many things outlined in this book, as a past ‘dieter’ the thing I found most interesting was the recurrence of carb-centered diets. Not to be confused with the term ‘carb loading’ often practiced by athletes prior to a big performance. Each of the athletes he sat with chose high-quality carbohydrate foods, such as whole grains and fruit as the basis of their daily diet intake.

“The biggest misconception about carbs and fitness is that they make you fat,” Matt shared via e-mail. “The truth is that only low-quality carbs — namely refined grains and sweets — are fattening. High-quality carbs — whole grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, and dairy — are not. A diet that is high in high-quality carbs and low in low-quality carbs is best for people who exercise intensively because it promotes a lean body composition without robbing the muscles of their most potent fuel, as low-carb diets do.”

Again, as a ‘dieter’ this fascinated me. So I put it to the test. I’m a rec runner, not an elite so could this hold true for me too? Indeed it did.

I slowly began incorporating high quality carbs, whole wheat tortillas with egg whites and veggies at breakfast, quinoa or brown rice back on my plate at dinner. Miraculously, I not only felt better when active, my energy level altered and I didn’t feel deprived. And yes, a few pounds were consequently dropped, even with beer still being in the rotation on chance occasion.

Lesson: don’t get bogged down by what you know to be true. Stay open, interested and willing to explore. Most importantly, defy the labels we place on ourselves. Three years ago, I would have easily looked at that book and thought that’s not me; I’m just a mom who stays active. What I see now is I was a ‘dieter’ that needed to stretch outside of her box and recognize I’m an athlete, raising children and part of that job is to create a healthy relationship with food. Powerful stuff.

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