Ok friends, so I have made a decision, and now that I’m blogging about it, and telling all of you, there is no going back. I’m going to join the thousands of crazy people who decide to do the impossible. Or seeming impossible. I’m going to run a marathon. I have been contemplating this for a few years now. I ran two half marathons when I was in New York, and it was one of the major highlights of my young adult-life—especially the first one, all women mostly above 40 years old, in Central Park. Runners take their sport very seriously, and I have always been a “runner,” but somewhat of an aimless runner, clocking my jogs between 30 and 60 minutes, and getting on with my day.
But now I am committed to pushing myself a little farther than I have been. I’m going to be honest with you folks. I love to eat. And thankfully I do enjoy running. For me the benefits are just as much spiritual as they are physical. If there’s anything that manages the stress, the noise and the chaos that goes on in day to day life, it’s exercise! Food Rules? So now that I am putting a tentative July 31st half marathon and an October marathon on the calendar, it’s time for me to crack down on my snacks as well as my running.
I generally eat pretty healthy, but I tend to cheat. I fully intend on taking advantage of the hunger that comes from running—by indulging in good healthy food, but there are small tricks you can do to get more bang for your buck from your food choices.
Here is a photo I took with my dad after running a race in Long Beach California in December 2008. I need to get back to running like this.
Fighting Fat Is More Fun With Friends:
I will tell you a secret. When I was living in New York I did weight watchers. I wasn’t overweight, I just wanted to learn about healthy eating. My friend and I would go to meetings every Monday and I absolutely adored these meetings. The meetings were generally full of high powered women. It was Rockefeller center. And I loved that these women could so openly talk about their own body issues, their food, support each other and laugh at themselves in their own struggles to manage their weight.
I learned a lot of “tricks” at Weight Watchers. I also learned that when one wants to lose weight, one does not have to starve, or become a strict disciplinarian never to touch chocolate or alcohol ever again.
I remember one woman saying one day, “my kids can’t believe that mommy eats peanut butter toast every morning and mommy is still losing weight.”
I have to admit I really miss my 30 rock WW group. They were a colorful bunch and were a refreshing break when work on a Monday was depressing (somewhat bad culture) and I wanted to be around a group of colorful, loud, empathetic emotional women.
Our teacher was an actress and writer who was so animated and passionate. We all adored her.
I’ve taken you on this circuitous journey to tell you that I will be somewhat tracking my food and marathon journey.
Here are some of my favorite tools I will be using on my marathon journey. I would love for you to share your own as well!
I love kettle corn popcorn (99% fat free)
You all know (especially for the ladies) that sometimes you just feel like chomping on a lot of something—and sometimes the crunch of carrots just doesn’t do it. You want….salt. So popcorn is a way to enjoy a large amount of something low calorie. And according to my running magazine in a study presented at the 2009 American Chemical Society Univ. of Scranton researches tested a wide range of whole grains for polyphenol count. Polyhpenols are antioxidant plant chemicals that may protect your body from cell and tissue damage linked to heart disease and certain cancers.
Also Jacob is reminding me if you get plain popcorn you can top it with natural brewer’s yeast. When I was working at Kresge Coop in Santa Cruz we used to call this “natty yeast.” It tastes like Parmesan cheese and is high in protein. I’m not going to lie—it looks and smells a little strange but don’t judge a food by its cover :-]
Lean turkey is super healthy for you. Sliced thin it tastes really wonderful and it’s easy to make it sexier. Please don’t judge me for using that adjective. I am a big fan of mustard and salsa, two yummy condiments that add flavor. Also you can purchase honey cured turkey or peppered turkey at trader joe’s that’s really delicious and healthy. There is a mushroom store at the Embarcardero in SF that sells hot truffle mustard that is to die for. Mustard is obviously very very low calorie. Salsa is also really low calorie—I like Jack’s Special Salsa or some of the blends from trader joe’s (in the refridgerator section—not the jarred kind). Pico De Gallo is also a good option.
When I am cooking I tend to snack. This is a tradition passed down in my family from generation to generation. We like to pick at things. I didn’t say this was glamorous. But something that can make you feel like you are enjoying food without spoiling your appetite is a pickle. They are very low calorie and pack a good crunch.
Egg Whites (the French Kind):
I love Egg Whites but I didn’t always. Until I learned you could make egg whites taste like French Toast. All you need to do is break your eggs open, mix a few egg whites in with a little skim milk and add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract and cinnamon. I also sprinkle pepper and salt. It truly tastes like French Toast. Pair this with a little low fat cottage cheese and light vanilla yogurt (just 1/3 cup each) and some fruit and you have a breakfast for a queen.
Homemade Cole Slaw:
I don’t know if it’s because my family hails from eastern Europe, but I am ruined by anything sweet, cold or pickled. So Cole Slaw fits into that. I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s in Charleston this weekend and they ordered cole slaw catered for a family dinner (authentic southern food). The cole slaw was magnificent—but you could tell it was packed full of real mayonnaise and sugar. And this my friends will make runs very difficult. So I cheat. I make my own fake cole slaw. All you do is go buy broccoli slaw at Trader Joe’s (one bag). Mix the bag of slaw in with a healthy amount of light mayo (not globbed on, but just enough so it lightly covers the slaw). Add a little sugar and if you like a little vinegar. Let it sit in the refrigerator. It’s delicious!
Five things I cannot give up:
Wine, peanut butter, chocolate, cheese and coffee. The health benefits of all of these items are largely debated. In moderation…they aren’t that bad! I have gotten pretty healthy while still eating them, so I know I can do it again.
I’ve had a few different trainers in my life. A few that were young like me. One that was a former lingerie and bikini model, and I have one now. I have to tell you having a trainer doesn’t help unless you are personally committed. I think the fallacy here, is that hollywood makes it look easy. We look at people like Jessica Alba and think that’s 1.easy 2.normal. I will tell you it’s not. But I will also tell you that whether you beat yourself or you gently encourage yourself to push your self, just a little farther, and celebrate your successes, the second half of that sentence will make your life much more pleasant. And you have me and a lot of other people supporting you. :-]
Here is a link to a blog I wrote on Jean Nidetch, CEO of Weight Watchers, after reading her book.
Here’s to living a life of joy!