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The Bullhorn, Issue #023 -- Monthly Motivator for February 2008
February 15, 2008

Just the right push to succeed!

Run to Eat!

Many runners will tell you that they run to support their eating habit. And while this is partly in jest, it has a grain of truth. If you’re counting calories or dieting, you know how hard is to avoid your favorite treats. Well maybe we just need to look at it another way…

Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and see how many calories you need a day (don’t include any activity or exercise in the calculator). This is the number of calories that you need to maintain your body weight on a normal day. For me, that number is about 2000 calories per day. If I do zero exercise, I know that I need to eat 2000 or fewer calories so that I don’t gain weight. Now let’s add in a nice 4 mile run. Suddenly our “calorie bank” jumps up by 400+ calories, and could afford us an added treat like a bowl of ice cream, a few cookies, or another favorite food or drink.

If you’re dieting, you may want to split the amount: ½ for weight loss & ½ for fun! This way, you can hunt around the cabinets and look for a nice 200-calorie treat. This can often lead to some creative snacking. For example, I’ve found that dry cereal is a great way to satisfy evening hunger without “horking” down a 1,000-calorie sleeve of Girl Scout cookies (Yes…it’s that time of year again ;-). Jell-o is another low calorie snack that can help snuff the snacking urge. Check out the Good Snacks page for more ideas.

It may seem like a waste of effort to spend hard-earned miles of running on a snack or treat, but it keeps many of us going. It’s hard for me to endure too many weeks of absolute deprivation before I cave in and start eating what I want to. By saving treats for only those days when we earn them through exercise, we’ll start lasting habits that will get us to where we want to be. It’s not a diet…it’s not a health-kick…it’s a life-long pursuit of better habits ;-)!

Eat to Run!

Before you do a double-take or think I’m utterly desperate for new material, think about what this reverse headline implies. What are you putting in your body and is it the right fuel for what you want to do? I know that I focus a lot of my articles and pages on counting calories, but are all calories created equal? Is there such a thing as high-powered nutrition? And, if so, how do we harness it?

Whether you’re a runner, starting to exercise, or just trying to lose a few pounds, the nutrition tips below could give your routine a boost:

  • Nutrition Tip #1: Good calories vs. Bad calories
    The body is more likely to burn calories eaten as carbohydrates and store the calories consumed in fats. Fat calories promote fat storage. Want to lose fat? Start with the foods that you eat!
  • Nutrition Tip #2: A spoonful of sugar makes the scale go up!
    No offense to the infallible Mary Poppins, but sugar can wreak some havoc on our metabolism and stymie our weight loss progress. How? Aside from the fact that most sugary foods are also high in fat (cake, cookies, ice cream, etc..), sugar will also promote the overproduction of insulin which is a reaction that can stimulate fat production.
  • Nutrition Tip #3: Get your Energy from Complex Carbs!:
    Like calories, not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbohydrates are derived from plants and are loaded with nutrients. They also are usually high in dietary fiber which has many health benefits, in addition to making you feel full on far fewer calories. Complex carbs are made up of 3 or more glucose molecules – the fuel you need to perform at top speed!
  • Nutrition Tip #4: The weight-loss roller coaster:
    Weight loss can come in ebbs and flows and sometimes seem to come to a complete stop! Why? When we initially lose weight, we burn a lot of organ-stored glycogen and the water that supports it. Often times, the initial weight loss can be almost 70% water. As we continue on, our bodies get leaner and our calorie needs decrease (BMR goes down). This is no reason for alarm, but to keep up the weight loss, we might need to rock the boat a bit. When I plateau, I change my calorie deficit goal to 500+ calories. In other words, I increase my exercise and decrease my intake in an attempt to ignite my metabolism and get to a lower set-point for body weight. After a week or so of increased effort, you’ll likely see another steep weight loss…and so the roller-coaster ride goes.

The foods that we eat can propel us to our goals, or hold us back. We need not eliminate our favorite foods or eat tree bark to reap the rewards. By adding some good habits and curbing some not so good habits, we can add quite a boost to our fitness and performance level. For more guidance, check out the pages on Nutrition 101 …whether you run to eat or eat to run!!

Exercise of the Month:
Tricep Push-ups!

The push-up gets a lot of press as a versatile and effective exercise. And it should! It builds chest and arm muscles and can be done almost anywhere. But the versatility only comes into play when we vary up our routine. If you have gotten into the morning habit of doing a set of push-ups…good for you! Now if you want to spice it up a bit, try taking your thumb and forefingers and make a diamond shape on the floor (see picture). You’ll notice that these are a bit tougher and you’ll feel the burn in your upper arms and inner chest. Push-ups come in many shapes and sizes – mix in some tricep push-ups and you’ll see added definition and toning.

Sound Off!

If you have any feedback (positive or negative), success stories to share, or suggestions for future articles, please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you and we take all feedback, suggestions...and yes, even criticism very seriously. We’ll use this information to improve our newsletter and The Fitness Motivator site to help you and others like you attain your fitness goals.

Encouragement to Succeed!

P.S. - Please feel free to forward this to a friend!

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