I’ve loved food ever since I quit smoking, more than a decade-and-a-half ago. Folks, I like to eat (funny how good food tastes).
On the other hand, I no longer workout because I make poor eating choices. I used to, of course. I’d eat a little too much, have a few to many Cokes or have a desert with dinner when I probably shouldn’t, then try to crank out extra miles the next day, usually feeling less than stellar while doing so. When I started putting in serious miles though, my attitude towards food, especially junk food and treats, changed. Sugar, sweets, candies and cakes make lousy fuel unless I’m looking for a quick pickup on the bike. Denser, good, healthy foods, like chicken, steak, salads, fruit, and even burgers, make great fuel so I can get the most out of cycling. While many have a tough time with finding the desire to put up with the effort required to ride fast, the speed is what makes cycling so enjoyable to me. If I’m going to putt about town at ten miles an hour, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about eating right. On the other hand, great speed requires great energy and if I shortchange myself on the fuel end of the equation, I will be disappointed with the output. I started looking at food as fuel. That outlook evolved over time and I realized that when I was eating deserts and junk food before long rides and then trying to put in some heavy miles to work it off, I was putting the cart before the horse. I changed my outlook and approach. Now I only eat fun stuff after a hard workout.
It’s no longer, “Hey, I’ve got a long ride coming up tomorrow, I’ll have a Coke with dinner and that piece of cheesecake.” Now it’s a good, solid dinner night before and a good breakfast morning of and I’ll mess with the desert after the ride if I really feel like it (I often don’t). In other words, I stopped rewarding myself before I did something good.
Is this way of thinking a big Earth-shattering deal? No, of course not, but whatever works – and it does.