Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Body is Calling--Am I Listening?

I have lost over 60 lbs. on various diets over about 15 years. Truthfully I lost and found many of those pounds many times over the years. I try to eat healthy, try to eat the correct amounts, try to adjust my intake for my activity level. You'd think after all this time, after this success, I would have this all down. However, I find that when my miles creep up, my weight does as well.

Last year I gained over 5 pounds as I trained for my first marathon. That doesn't seem like a huge number, but if you are a Weight Watchers Lifetime member, that can put you back into the place where you have to pay each month rather than it being free. There are significant health issues in my family that makes maintaining a healthy weight essential for me. Add that to the recent Runner's World article stating that 5 pounds equals 5 minutes on marathon times makes me realize that controlling my weight is more than just health, vanity or frugality--I need it to run faster! This seems to motivate me more than the other reasons--probably because I see the impact rather quickly.

I know what to eat, I know about how much to eat--so why do I overeat? I think it is because after all these years I have forgotten how to listen to my own hunger signals. I think that I am being strong when I don't eat when I'm hungry and weak if I eat. I am afraid that if I give myself the freedom to eat, I will never stop eating and my diet will consist of pasta, peanut butter and M&MS. I also find that because I have let myself get so hungry in the past, that I am actually afraid of my own hunger and try to "eat prevenatively" to avoid hunger. None of these extremes are good for me.

But is it really this simple--Wait until you are hungry, make healthy choices, and stop right before you are full? Why is it that running 10 miles is easier than putting my fork down before my plate is empty?

So this is what I am trying:
  1. Ask myself if I am truly hungry before I eat--and wait to make sure I really am hungry rather than just thinking that I might be hungry.
  2. Allow myself to eat if I am hungry. If this means eating lunch at 10:30, this is okay too.
  3. Put down the fork and remind myself that food will be there later
  4. Make the healthy choice when eating--peanut butter, pasta and M&Ms all do have a place in a healthy diet!
  5. Eat the correct amount so that I am hungry in the morning, and before each meal.

I have learned to adjust my workouts for fatigue, sore muscles and my energy level. This involved listening to and trusting my body to tell me what it needed, but also knowing when to push a workout and when to back off. I can learn to trust my body for fuel as well. It will talk to me--I just need to stop and listen.


Andria said...

Wow! I go through this a lot. I'm a recent convert to running, but I've been a fairly consistent exerciser for years now. I always do the workouts and feel great afterward, but can't reign in my eating. I think sometimes I say "I ran so I can eat that" but that shouldn't be what I do. The thing about 5 pounds = 5 minutes on the marathon just may be scary enough to change me... I enjoyed the post and will keep checking in!

Tom said...

Julie, you really explained this well, and it really hit home for me. And it's not the lifestyle that's the problem...we run and eat right most of the time. It's the exceptions that keep us from managing our weight. And I've discovered so much recently, that you stated even better, that we have to turn off the brain messages that influence us to eat unwisely. I'm going to borrow your list, post it until I memorize it and then carry your advice with me.

Thank you so much for this post!

winner62 said...

Julie-how true! I loved this post! I am going to print it and hang it where I can read it every day!

The School Girl said...

Wow! I thought I was the only one who ate pre-emptively. I don't know why I panic when I feel hunger pains, or when I *think* I feel hunger pains.

I just began Weight Watcher's three weeks ago and I lost my first five pounds (YAY!). I'm trying to become active, but it suppresses my appetite then makes me ravenous. I'm trying to make better food choices.

cyberpenguin said...

Wow, great post. I've just been blogging about the same exact topic: . Funny, we must be on the same wavelength! ;-)


cyberpenguin said...

BTW, I liked your blog so much I've added it to my blogroll. Tada!

cyberpenguin said...

Like you, I write a lot about eating & nutrition on my blog. If you're curious to read the eating & nutrition-related posts, here's the link,

Maybe some of this stuff will help you?! I find it helps to garner support & compare notes with other like-minded bloggers. As a fellow runner & foodie, I can certainly understand your trials & tribulations!!!! Like you, I love to run & also love to eat, so it can be a challenging combination, to say the least.

Thanks for the great post & I look forward to reading more!