Many runners will tell you that they run to eat, or that running is a means 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) to 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 after-dinner 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. So go ahead and eat to run! It’s not a diet…it’s not a health-kick…it’s a life-long pursuit of better habits ;-)!
You can find this article, "Run to Eat", and other motivational fitness information in the February 2008 article of The Bullhorn. You can sign up for this free monthly e-zine below.