Fuel Yourself for Exercise

So, I used to post once a month on a blog called Today’s Housewife. During fall 2012, the group decided together to stop posting due the busyness of life and families and such. Though sad, I enjoyed being part of the group. As of early January, the blog was officially taken down. But I don’t want to lose my recipes, so periodically I will be reposting them on here. Enjoy!

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from September 23, 2010… update: now I’ve been a runner for about 16 years [since spring 1998!] and have now run 4 marathons including one with Ben! These tips are still true today, four years later. Hope they help you! 

Sarah and Ben after the mini marathon.

So, I’ve been a runner for about 13 years, including 10 years of competitive team running.  Currently, I am in the early stages of training for a marathon (my second) and trying to convince my husband, Ben, to run one with me!  Though I have sat through countless lectures on nutrition as part of team education and read many articles about healthy eating, it has only been over the past few years that I have truly begun to understand the connection between nutrition and exercise.  It may seem elementary, but what you eat contributes to how well you can exercise.  Nutrition needs do vary based on your exercise goals (training for a marathon versus general fitness), but regardless of your aspirations, there are five basic tips I have learned and seek to practice in my life to fuel myself for exercise.

  • Stay hydrated. Water is the best way to do this.  Find out what temperature your prefer water (I like it ice cold), and how many ounces your favorite water bottle/glass holds.  Then drink and fill it up enough times each day to get in at least 8- 8 ounce glasses!  Water doesn’t have to be boring either—try adding lemon, cucumber, or orange slices to your water to make it fancy.  Staying hydrated fuels your muscles to help you move well and not feel weak during exercise.
  • Eat regularly. Life is busy, and regardless of your life status, it can be hard eat three meals a day.  There are many ways to plan ahead so you can have healthy and tasty meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Making a meal plan, setting out breakfast the night before, and freezer cooking are just some of the ways I make sure that my husband and I will be well-fed and not tempted to get take-out.
  • Eat a variety of foods.  All foods provide our bodies with different vitamins and minerals.  We need carbs and fats and protein and more, which can be found in a variety of foods.  Don’t worry about knowing specific about each vegetable or fruit or grain—no one food is perfect, and different colors equal different nutrients.  So fill your plate with colors!
  • Be educated about your food choices. There is a lot of hype surrounding eating organic, vegetarian, local, etc.  I personally am not a vegetarian and do not eat all organic or all local.  However, I do believe in knowing where my food comes from and being educated about nutrition and issues with food production in this country.  Some of the most helpful resources I’ve found in educating myself have been by reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, as well as In Defense of Food and Food Rules by Michael Pollan.  These books have made me consider the nutritional benefits found in foods that have been packaged in different ways: frozen, canned, or fresh—local or sent from 2,000 miles away, and has also challenged me to consider the effects processed foods can have on my body, especially as an athlete.  This applies also to everyone too—even if you don’t consider yourself to be an “athlete!”
  • Be flexible, and give yourself grace.  No one is going to eat completely healthy all the time.  Sometimes we crave sweets or salty foods, and it’s okay to indulge your cravings at times.  Some people try to eat healthy and clean about 80% of the time, and indulge the other 20%.  Others may follow stricter guidelines.  Moderation is key.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the technicalities of eating and nutrition to the extent that it becomes the end all, be all of our self-perception and life.  That is not healthy.  What is healthy is enjoying food for what it is and what it does for us, without becoming obsessive.  God gives us grace in all areas of life, including our food choices and nutrition.  Let’s believe that!
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