Somehow we are already back to January of another year. Time just seems to speed up, especially over the month of December.
We are now at the end of the holiday season. The time where there are seemingly endless parties and too many opportunities to overindulge.
It is just too easy to let go of your eating plan during this time. We can pledge that we will be good, and sometimes we may be able to hold out, but other times the smell of our fresh cooked weaknesses is just too much and we fall off the bandwagon.
It happens to all of us, and we all look to January as our saving grace. I will be better, I will start the year right.
Now, you know at Runners Connect we are not hear to beat around the bush. We are not here to give you the fluff. We are here to give it to you straight, and to tell you what really works and what doesn’t.
Today we are going to share 5 tips to get you back on track with your healthy eating, to make sure that 2016 is your best year yet when it comes to your running.
Start with the Fruits and Vegetables
The more you try to add in those foods that are going to help you feel stronger, recover faster, and stay healthy, the more you will find there is less room for those foods that are not going to help you on your journey.
When you are thinking about meals for the week, rather than starting with meat and pairing it with a starch, followed by adding in a vegetable last minute, try starting with the vegetable. Make that the focus of the meal, and then add in the protein source (meat or not), and the starch.
Here’s the deal:
Most people think that cooking involves following a perfect recipe, and end up making it more complicated than it is.
Many of the greatest meals, especially for those who are not blessed with superior chef skills, are those meals that are just a combination of vegetables thrown into a pan, cooked, and some kind of grain stirred in at the end.
There are now almost unlimited options when it comes to grains, and many of them are packed with protein and fiber to keep you fuller for longer…..and keep you on track with your diet.
Therefore, select the vegetables that sound good to you (or the ones that are on sale), and then as you are cooking, throw in the spices and other ingredients that seem to be jumping out to you. With a big variety of vegetables in there, it is likely to taste good from all the flavors, even if you do not know whether to add parsley or oregano.
Make it actionable
Make the vegetables you enjoy eating be the star of the meal. Cook up your meals in one pot, and add ingredients as you go. Recipes do not need to be complicated, just do it! You will find your skills improve quicker than you think. And besides, you can make eating healthy a priority this way, rather than an afterthought.
Stick to the Edges of the Grocery Store
When you go to the store, follow the perimeter of the store first. Collect up many different fruits and vegetables into your cart as you can, along with meats (or healthy meat alternatives), and dairy products.
Have you ever noticed that all the bad foods are in the middle aisles (and of course on the end caps- sneaky sneaky)?
That means if you avoid those aisles as much as you can, you are likely to come out with a healthier shopping trip worth of food. Try to avoid the temptation of going down each and every aisle, as your willpower to resist those items will go down the more of them you see.
Try to only go down the middle aisles for bulk items such as rice, beans, spices or other pantry items that will help you to create a healthy meal.
This is important:
Make sure you take a shopping list with you. That way you are more likely to stick to the foods you need for your meals, rather than just purchasing what looks good as you move around. Most people tend to purchase more food than they can consume in a week, leading to waste and overeating.
Make it actionable:
Try to do most of your shopping around the outside aisles of the store. Stock up on as many fruits and vegetables as you can, and stick to a list as much as possible.
Meal Prep as Much as Possible
Many of us work full time or have a busy week with family activities. That makes it difficult to prepare fresh meals and snacks every night.
Rather than scrambling each evening with what to do, prepare some of your meals and snacks on a weekend. This could include:
- Wash, peel, and chop vegetables before placing them into portioned containers that are easy to grab in the morning rush
- Baking snack bars such as these Quinoa Breakfast Bars from the Lean Green Bean, and placing them in foil, ready prepared for an on-the-go snack
- Make some hard boiled eggs
- Prepare some tempeh or tofu with spices and seasonings as a high protein meatless snack
- Cooking up some chicken breasts in the oven before slicing up for snacks and serving with the vegetables you prepared as an easy, healthy meal.
- Double your recipes for your weekend dinners to leave an extra meals worth for leftovers
- Put your crockpot to use by making a meal that your family can enjoy during the week on a day you do not have time to cook. Separate the food out into portioned containers for easy reheating when you need them.
Try to prepare as much of it as possible at the same time. That means while your chicken breasts are cooking, use that time to wash, chop and prepare your vegetables. This limits the amount of time spent in the kitchen preparing.
We know that the last thing you want to do is spend the last of your precious few moments of free time cooking and preparing food.
For many that sounds like a nightmare, but if you get your children involved, or use the time you are preparing to listen to a podcast, then you can be more relaxed when you are tired after a long day at work, and can enjoy the evenings with your family, as a big chunk of the preparation is already done.
Make it Actionable
Prepare some of your food on a designated evening, that way you can relax knowing you have healthy foods available for the whole family, and are less likely to reach for the unhealthy snacks as you have taken the time to prepare those foods.
Only Make Changes You Can Follow for Life
This one may sound a little depressing, but we learned it from our friend Katie over at Runs for Cookies. Katie shared her running journey of losing over 125lbs on our Run to the Top Podcast last week. One of her secrets was to commit to changes that she could make for life.
Katie knew that cutting out cookies for life was not realistic. In the same way that sticking to 1200 calories a day is not realistic. Sure, you might lose 10lbs in a few weeks, but you are going to pack 15lbs back on again the second you reach your goal…..or when you fall off the bandwagon.
By making changes you are prepared to make for life, you are able to cut out the foods that you do not particularly enjoy to lose weight, without sacrificing your favorite foods.
An example would be if we offered you a slice of cherry pie. If your reaction would be “YES! Cherry pie is my favorite dessert” then cutting pie out of your life is probably not going to be the best idea. However, if you were not particularly a big fan of cherries, and pie is a little too dry for you, then cutting that out should not be a problem.
The next time someone offers you a slice of pie (or whatever you decide is not on the top of your priority list), you are able to say no, as you know that you have chosen your favorite foods, and you are saving yourself for those.
By making changes you can stick to for the rest of your life without feeling deprived, you are more likely to stick to those.
Make it actionable:
Write yourself a list of all the foods that you could remove from your diet for life and be perfectly happy without. Make another list of foods that you are not prepared to give up (be realistic here).
If you enjoy one of your favorite foods, you have enjoyed what you love, and can therefore keep the rest of your eating healthy without feeling deprived.
Think of Your Food as Energy to Run Better
We all want to run to the best of our ability.
Whether that is running a Boston Qualifier, following your marathon training schedule, or just being out there enjoying being in nature, we all want to feel good on our runs. The best way you can go about this is to put good foods into your system.
If you think of the food you are consuming as energy; energy that you are putting in that is going to be able to allow you to achieve your potential, then you are more likely to make better choices. Crowd out the bad foods with the good, and notice how much better you feel.
You put all this time, money, and of course mental energy battling those inner demons to be able to run well, why would you throw it all away by constantly filling it with less than ideal fuel.
Yes, during those special occasions, like the parties we just had in December, it is a worthwhile sacrifice. The memories created with friends and family, and the foods that are only available at this one time of year, it is worth struggling a little on your run, but now your spring marathon is closing in, and it is time to knuckle down.
Put in the good food, and your body will thank you.
Make it actionable
The more wholesome, quality foods you put into your body. The better you will feel on your runs. The better you feel on your runs, the faster you run (or the more enjoyable your run becomes). The more of those runs you have, the more you want to keep looking after your body. Once you get into that cycle, it will continue getting better and better.
Here’s the deal:
We all enjoyed that past month of excess eating. We all fell off the healthy eating train, and we are all feeling a little guilty together (misery loves company right), but that also means we are all in this together. We all need to get back on the horse, and focus on the future.
It is time to think of the finish line of that race, when you cross, smiling, knowing that you truly committed to eating well, and it has paid off.
This does not mean obsessing over the scale, but instead just focusing on eating the right foods and allowing the result to take care of itself. Your training will naturally allow you to lean down, especially if you are following a marathon training schedule, but fueling right will help you go get those goals you have been so dedicated to achieving.
Get more great injury prevention advice from Tina Muir (plus other great training & maintenance tips from Jeff Gaudette & Co) on the RunnersConnect blog.