Maintaining a healthy weight involves paying careful attention to two important parts of your life: Calories consumed and calories burned. People assume that because I’m a distance runner, I can eat anything I want, but that isn’t really the case. Paying careful attention to calories consumed remains my primary strategy in my ongoing “battle of the bulge.” It’s far easier to keep the food out of my mouth in the first place rather than relying on an insane amount of exercise to work it off. The “enjoy it now, pay for it later” mentality has never worked well for me because it’s just too easy for me to put off paying altogether.
My weekly running mileage has been slipping quite a bit lately as I’m trying to give my body a few months of light training before I hit it hard again in January to get ready for the Fargo Marathon next May. I’m also investing a few days a week into basketball, which doesn’t burn as many calories as continuous distance running. This decrease in activity alone wouldn’t hurt me, but when you couple it with consuming more calories; I could potentially gain some serious weight during the upcoming holidays if I’m not careful.
I’m going to list a few foods that spell trouble for me and explain why.
1) Ice Cream: Even though we have the low fat ice type in our freezer that only contains 240 calories per cup, I can go through a single cup pretty fast. I enjoyed two cups alone during the Vikings game this afternoon.
2) Pizza: For some reason I can put away an incredible amount of pizza in a single sitting. Sure, it’s a meal, but 1,500 – 2,000 calories is an awful lot, and that’s how much I usually eat.
3) Dairy Queen Blizzard: I don’t like to deprive myself, so I have a couple blizzards each year. It’s easy to convince myself that just one isn’t going to hurt me, and before I know it, I’m having one every week. I’m glad that the DQ nearest my home is closed for the winter because at 700+ calories each, the only blizzards I want to see until next April are the ones that keep me home from work.
4) Cookies: I absolutely love cookies. I can’t buy them and even have them in the house because I go crazy eating them until they’re all gone. One is never enough! Now that the holiday season is upon us, there will be cookies everywhere! Even the smallest of them will likely contain at least 100 calories, and it’s not too hard to get them over 200. Considering that it takes me at least four cookies before I even begin to think about stopping, these little goodies can become a very large problem.
5) Beer: The “light” beer I drink has only about 100 calories per can. Even though I’m not going to drink 1000 calories worth of beer in a sitting, it’s usually consumed in addition to a meal, instead of in the place of a meal, making all of the calories extra.
Running burns roughly 150 calories per mile for a man of my weight. You can see why it’s easier to simply not eat a cookie rather than run a mile to burn it off. A blizzard would require five miles, a cup of ice cream two miles, and three beers would equal two miles. I better not even get started eating pizza unless I’ve gotten in a pretty decent run. There was something in the “Grand Forks Herald” today that said the average Thanksgiving meal contains between 3,000 and 4,500 calories! Can you say marathon? Yes, it’s easier to simply not eat the extra calories than it is to try to burn them off at a later time. When will I ever learn?!