“You are what you eat.”
“You can’t outrun or outwork poor nutrition.”
Going to the Next Level
I have searched for years and I finally found it. I have found the combination of running workouts to maximize the benefits of training. I know how to train to get faster while putting the least amount of stress on my body. That is awesome. I could not be happier!
Still, I have this black cloud that is hanging over my head. I know that to reach my full potential in the next level of running performance, I have to eat and drink wisely. Unfortunately, I am guilty of the high crime of eating what I feel like eating. Sometimes that means I am eating very healthy food. Sometimes that means I eat junk. It is a crime against me and my goals.
Why so negative? Is this really a crime? What about happiness?
If I had no goals for my health, eating what I feel like eating would be good enough.
If I had no goals for my running, eating what I feel like would be good enough.
…but I do have goals. I have BIG goals. The crime is that I am hurting my health and my progress towards goals.
The Food Failure Mindset
The unhealthy mindset thinks of food and drink as something emotional. It is a reward for being good. It is feeling cleverly sneaky while we “cheat” our healthy diet. We eat because we want to elicit some specific emotional response (happiness, relief, …) or to avoid feeling emotions (frustration, sorrow, shame, …).
These brief moments of “positive” emotions only last as long as the food or drink lasts. Does it work? For a moment. The pain, frustration, sorrow, resurface as the effects of the indulgence wears off. Then comes the shame and self-loathing. So did it make you feel better in the long run? No.
Even if it is a real hunger that we have, we must remember that cravings are for nutrients, not for junk. You may feel like you want the entire box of ice cream, but your body is craving calcium and or calories. If you are skipping meals, your body will not have what it needs. Of course you will start craving!
Whether your cravings are for real nutrition or for emotional relief, eating what you feel like eating is almost always a road that leads to frustration and shame. You steal the progress you could be making. You steal your health. You steal your own joy. That is the crime. In this mindset, you end up both the perpetrator and the victim.
The Food as Fuel Mindset
What food and drink ARE NOT:
- Food and drink are not rewards.
- Food and drink are not escapes.
- Food and drink are not quick fixes for emotional problems.
What food and drink ARE:
- Food and drink are fuel for a healthy body.
- Food and drink are long-term fixes for long-term health problems.
- Food and drink are tools to use towards your goals.
Eating wisely takes a lot of thought and preparation long before the meal or snack. If you want to get to the next level of running performance and health, you must plan and follow through.
Although I have tried to eat well, my journey of meal planning and preparation is just beginning. It is my next step to getting to the next level. As my personal meal and snack planning adventure unfolds, I will blog about it here to let you know what is working for me. Stay tuned!
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”
— P. Mark Taylor