I have put on a solid seven pounds over this winter season. An extra layer to “keep me warm” as I like to joke. But, honestly — I’d be lying if I told you all it doesn’t bother me. I have a closet full of clothes — including some running shorts — that aren’t fitting me well to say the least. I haven’t had optimal running conditions outdoors to get in quality interval and speed training that might otherwise crank my metabolism. And when I do run, I can just feel the extra poundage I’m carrying around.
You could say the whole issue is quite literally weighing on me.
Can you relate? I’ve been chatting with many of my running buddies, and the consensus we’ve reached is the same. This had been one doozy of a winter (in the news yesterday: we’ve had more than 80+ inches of snow!). So, we’re all looking forward to spring and warmth and, yes, leaning out a bit.
But, the question is: How can we balance a little weight loss while keeping training first? I’m no expert, but having failed many times in the past by trying to eat very little and train too much, I’ve made a few of my own “rules” to follow. I’m hoping to shed some pounds without dieting or compromising my PR-goals for my spring half marathon.
I’m not counting calories.
I know it’s different for each individual, but my holiday eating revolved around sweets and high calorie, low nutrition snacks that aren’t normally required in a daily diet. So, instead of slapping a number on how many calories I want to eat per day, I’m focusing on eating enough whole foods to keep me full.
Too often diets are restrictive and not really intended for athletes to follow. (1200 calories total? I don’t think so!) What we know is that high-quality training requires fuel, and too little food can hinder performance. For me, this means passing on the cookies and filling up my plate (and my stomach) with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of water.
I’m optimizing cross-training.
I’ll admit that in the past, I’d often skip days marked “XT” on my calendar because I didn’t value it much. These days? I’m making sure to move my body as many days a week as possible, all while saving one day for rest. I even try to sneak in a couple double workout days where, say, I’ll ride my spinning trainer at a moderate pace in the morning and do my scheduled run in the evening.
In the winter, there’s much less walking around and moving about going on. I know some of this weight can easily be attributed to too much time on the couch sitting immobilized by winter storms. The added benefit of moving more? Cross-training can be a secret weapon of sorts if you’re chasing a time goal. Just be sure to not overdo it — even just two days of double workouts can make a difference.
I’m throwing my weight around.
Or, rather, adding strength components into my training. For me, this has meant bodyweight exercises, like pushups, and other workouts like kettle bell swings. As you can see, many of my “weight loss” tactics involve moving more rather than consuming less. So long as I follow my first rule on this list (filling up on healthy foods), I’m trying to let my body do the rest of the work.
Lifting weights is great because your body, unlike with cardio exercises, will continue to burn calories at rest. YES! You torch even when you aren’t working out. So, strength training revs your metabolic engine and not only helps you shed pounds — but also create strong, lean muscle mass that will ultimately help power you forward on race day.
A word of caution, though. Five pounds of fat and five pounds of muscle aren’t the same thing, as demonstrated in this photo. So, even if I don’t immediately (or fully) budge those seven pounds on the scale, I’ll try — instead — to monitor how I feel in my clothing and in my skin.
Do you have a little extra winter weight? What’s your plan of attack?
Written by Ashley Marcin.
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