Well, we’re heading briskly into winter and the weather is turning to crap. I’ve got the mountain bike at home still to ride but my pedals and shoes are starting to jump between home and the office – the 5200 is already mounted to the trainer and has seen use (unusually early this year).
For the last two years my diet has changed with the leaves. No more Burger King, portions get cut back and the rest of the junk I could eat through spring, summer and fall will be either stringently moderated or gone altogether. I go from burning a thousand calories a day (minimum) to only 500 or so. Drastic changes require drastic measures because one thing is not happening over the winter – I will not put on fifteen pounds that I’ll have to promptly peel off once the snow melts any more.
To put this into perspective, so far this year out of the 5,154 miles I’ve put in, 4,604 occurred between March and today. I’m sure I’ll put in 200-300 miles this month (outside) but I’ll be dropping from an average of 553. To put it simply, there’s no way I can continue eating the way I had to and cut my mileage in half without packing on some unwanted poundage.
The ability to shape my caloric intake to my workload is the secret to my success – I’ve stayed roughly the same weight (+ or – 1 pound) week over week for going on a year and a half. Humorously enough, I don’t count calories. I maintain my diet by feel, with a few important keys that don’t change:
* I hardly ever skip breakfast.
* Breakfast consists of 2 apples and 2 bananas
* I rarely “snack” throughout the day – though I do spread the breakfast out over an hour.
Here’s my trick: I hardly ever eat until I’m “full”. Right or wrong, I hold the belief that much of obesity or overeating revolves around eating until one is “full”. The problem with “feeling” full is that, as we all know, there’s a lag between your stomach actually filling and your mind recognizing it. If I’m shoveling food in over those five minutes, guess what? Also, right or wrong, it’s been my experience that I can get used to overeating. Eat too much too often and my “feeling” of what’s full changes so I end up overeating on top of overeating. I read a post just yesterday in which a woman described it perfectly as eating until she’s 80% full. I eat until just before I’m full and when I stick to it, I have no problem maintaining my weight.
Eating until just before I was full took a bit of work getting used to, especially when really crank up my miles. Where this gets interesting is how I dealt with cutting back… I had to get used to feeling hungry. That’s right – when I decided to run I also cut my normal diet and cutting what I was used to eating meant that I was regularly hungry. I struggled for probably about two weeks before I got used to eating less, but it worked and those hunger pangs stopped.
My biggest single mistake with eating, in other words, was relying on how I felt do decide when to push away from the table. By the time I felt full I’d already eaten too much. Of course, once I got used to the change that became the new norm and I then could get used to eating the right amount.
There is one day though that is excluded from this change: Thanksgiving. This is the one day a year where I don’t give that second piece of pie a second thought, I don’t worry about having to run it off, I let it all go and eat like I mean it.
Now, this whole post is based solely on my experience. It’s what works for me. If something you’ve read here makes sense, use it. If it doesn’t, leave it.
Have a great weekend.
UPDATE: “Playfulpups” added this in the comments section: I think there is a difference between being “not hungry anymore” and “feeling full”. If we feel full, we ate too much. We need to eat until we are not hungry, not eat until we feel ‘full’.