So I tend to find that one of the hardest things about working out is the relationship I develop with food.
I know that, as a runner, I have to give my body the nourishment it demands. If I don't then it will not give me the performance that I demand. Plain and Simple. I know that quality matters over quantity. However, when do you give in? How much do you eat? what do you eat? There is A LOT of information out there. Varying opinions flood the internet.
I have been on a weight loss plateau for about 2 years. I will gain 10 back, lose 10, gain 10, lose 10....but always end up the same base weight. That is until the marathon training that I actually finished. I lost 13 lbs total during my marathon training (and have mananged to keep them all off - although I fluctuate a couple of pounds of course). Despite the obvious running my ass off. (I followed Hal Higdon's Novice Program). I did a few other things:
1. I gave up sweets. The final two months of training at least. - This is SERIOUS for me. My office is flooded with them. A handful of jelly beans here, a piece of cake there, a couple mini-candy bars next. They add up. I have a LOVE for sweet things. However, I have found that it is true what they say. The more you avoid them, the less you crave them. (and the less of a tolerance I have for them now. Since finishing marathon training I have indulged but my pieces are about half the size I would've taken before this).
2. I gave up alcohol. Another big one. I enjoy beer (and red wine occasionally). But they are empty calories. Plain and simple. A few beers a couple nights a week can seriously pack the pounds on. Plus, they are dehydrating. Not only are they a diuretic but if you're drinking them you're obviously not drinking water. Hydration is key to long distance running. It does not matter how much I've trained. If I'm dehydated than my muscles will not perform.
3. I gave up diet soda. Another HUGE feat for me. I loved diet soda. I would drink 2-3 of them a day, even more if I went out to eat. (Ever notice how much MORE you drink when using a straw...anyways.) I knew that there were tons of articles about their cons but I was hooked. If I had a sweet craving or just wanted the refreshing bubbles.....they were fabulous. I had to see what difference they made though. I stopped craving them after a while.....and extra carbs and sweets as well. I am confident that all those artificle ingredients are bad for you.
4. I began focusing on "real" food. I found this website: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/. That changed my outlook on things. My diet was already good in my eyes. For the past couple of years I had been free of all white carbs, drinks with calories, fast food and red meat. I ate a large amount of diet foods though. I used margarine. I bought "reduced-fat" and "fat free" items, particularly in the dairy department. I love granola bars and protein bars, anything Kashi, etc. What was I actually putting into my body though? Tons of ingredients artificially made that I cannot even pronounce? So I'm slowly changing that. (I still have a few things that I need to focus on changing....like bread....but I'm doing MUCH better). I started using their "5-ingredient rule" and making my own granola bars, tortillas, etc. If I do indulge in sweets now then they have to be homemade. This article will completly change your outlook: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/04/06/food-babe-investigates-birthday-cakes/.
My goal is to not become obsessive. I have been in the past. I used to count every single calorie I ate and compare it to how much exercise I did that day religiously! The problem with that is, again, the quality over quantity and the fact that these "gadgets" that we love are not always accurate. People often get nowhere with calorie counters. It is easy to miss things (like calorie-rich drinks and/or condiments). Exercise machines are known for over calculating how many calories you've burned. Calorie estimates do not take into account your body type. People with more muscle mass need more calories because they have a higher metabolism.
For all of these reasons I will listen to my body....honestly. I will feed it when it asks for it, even if I think I've eaten too much. I will feed it with natural, wholesome, nutritious food....90% of the time. I will not beat it up for the other 10%:-)