Posted by: runawaynotes | July 9, 2012

“You ran today! You should totally be able to have that second cookie/third cheesecake slice/fourth martini….”

I’ve heard that phrase countless times. It didn’t matter if I ran 3 miles, 8 miles, or 12 miles that day. Apparently, in the eyes of my family/friends, that gave me carte blanche to pig out for the rest of the day because “you’ve already burned like 1000 calories” and “your metabolism is still revved up”. For the longest time, I used to buy into this, so, it is no surprise that even though I would burn up to 1,400 calories in a single run, I did not lose a pound over the past two years. Moreover, once I stopped running after my injury, I actually gained a few pounds because of my horrific eating habits.

Now that I’m back running again, I am determined not to repeat the same mistake. I do have a problem, however. I have no idea how much I should really be eating. I mean, theoretically, as long as the number of calories you burn exceeds the number of calories you consume, you should be losing weight, right? But it seems to me that things are really not that straightforward. First of all, when I was training for my last half marathon and I was in the last month of my training (so, pretty heavy mileage), I was constantly hungry. No, I was HUNGRY! It felt like my body was burning through all the calories in a matter of minutes. So, I was constantly munching on something. Now, I probably didn’t really need all those calories, but it was so hard to just stay away from food, especially if I knew that I had already burned 950 calories that morning, so what’s another taco (Good2Go, I’m looking at you!).

Since I’m not not quite happy with my weight right now, I would like to lose about 10 lbs by my goal race. That gives me about 20 weeks to do it, so that should be plenty of time. Now, I know that in order to lose about 1 lb of fat per week, I need to create about 500 calorie deficit per day. I assume that this rule still holds for runners. Although, I would need to factor in the fact that I would be building muscles as well as burning fat. Then there is the question of what to eat as well as how much to eat. The next couple of months are shaping up to be pretty busy at work, so I’m already seeing a lot of take-out dinners at the office in my future. It’s really hard to get well-balanced meal when your options are Mexican food, pizza, or sandwiches. And even if I do have an option of getting a salad, I never have enough will power to actually do it. I mean, you have to have superhuman strength to order salad at 8 pm when you have at least 3 more hours at the office ahead of you. That’s when your body is practically begging for comfort food (like mac and cheese).

I figured that a good way to figure out how many calories I actually need would be by first tracking how many calories I am actually consuming right now. So, I am trying to come up with a way of tracking my caloric intake/usage that would be simple, easy to do on the go, and keep me accountable. Nothing good really comes to mind. Food diaries are a pain to maintain, plus I would need to figure out caloric value of everything that is not prepackaged. I am also not sure how to track the calories burned when I am not running (just regular daily activity). Walking around all day with a heart rate monitor is really not an option. I was thinking about getting a pedometer and just making sure that I take at least 10,000 steps per day, which would mean that I am maintaining a good base level of activity. Then there’s always the good old trusted weightwatchers. Decisions, decisions… I might have to try out a couple of different things and see which one works best. Once I have a good understanding of how much I eat vs. how many calories I burn, I’ll be able to figure out how much I need to scale back.

My mom once said that she didn’t mind working out for hours a day if that would mean that she could enjoy her coffee with freshly baked bread as often as she wanted. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way [sigh]. Too bad because my mom’s bread is delicious.



  1. I’ve had very good results following Montignac diet. At one point if time I lost about 10 kg, coming to the lowest weight in my entire life post-puberty. It’s a very healthy approach and does allow for a glass of wine a day 🙂

    • Is that the one based on the glycemic index of food? (can you tell how easy it is to gain my attention once you mention wine?)

      • Yeah, that’s the one. There’ re others based on GI, but many are skewed towards too much protein (like Atkins), which is bad for the kidneys, if I’m not mistaken. If you decide to look into it, but newer books, as there was a certain evolution in the method. My only complaint – he doesn’t favor rose wine 🙂

  2. I’ve had friends and family say exactly the same thing to me. No matter how many more miles I run, I never lose weight. Like you, the closer I get to a race, the hungrier I get.

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