I surprised myself and ran six colorful miles yesterday morning.
I guess I was shocked to have felt like running again.
I know I run a whole lot but a race is just different. The adrenaline combined with keeping up a quick pace for over 13 miles is taxing.
Even with Monday’s easy shake out run, I sort of expected some soreness to set in but it just hasn’t.
Over time you build up your ability and your body learns to adjust and recover quicker but I gave it some thought and decided that my fast recovery has more to do with what I choose to eat on a regular basis in order to keep on running.
At The Cheesecake Factory the other night, my son did what he does best which is make fun of me.
I have been ordering this salad for a good 14 years straight but ask the waiter to leave off the chicken and replace it with extra of everything else – as in more black beans, corn, avocado and onion rings. The onion rings tie the flavors of this bowl together.
My son enjoys mocking my vegetarian diet and I always feel the need to explain myself to him.
I didn’t become a vegetarian because I felt bad for the chickens and turkeys and cows. To be perfectly honest, I never gave much thought to it – I grew up eating chicken. And turkey. And steak.
Sure, if you stop to think more about it, you can get all ethically upset and angry but that wasn’t what made me a convert.
I became a vegetarian because a diet rich in plant-based foods, high in antioxidants, complex carbs, protein from beans and occasional fish/dairy products enriched my life in so many positive ways that I never even could have imagined.
All by accident after a stomach virus, the sudden increase in eating sweet potatoes, extra servings of various fruits and vegetables along with seeking out replacement forms of protein for my plate gave me so much more instant energy.
The increase in these foods combined with a reduction in animal protein also eliminated my seasonal allergies, reduced PMS and painful cramps and also eliminated the pain associated with having the shingles virus which often left my right arm in tingling pain.
Too much protein from animal sources can be very stressful on the body, especially mine. Some people are more sensitive to it than others and I have learned I am one of those people.
I can’t help but think about what I was eating only two years ago prior to becoming a vegetarian. While I was thin, it isn’t any wonder to me now why I couldn’t run very much, couldn’t pick up the pace and certainly couldn’t build on my mileage or feel recovered the day after a workout.
How you eat is not just about what you want to weigh or how you want to look.
Not everything is defined by calorie counts and pounds gained or lost. Not every diet plan is followed just to slim yourself into your jeans.
Before my random change in diet, I lived on protein and vegetables. Aside from the morning bowl of oatmeal or English muffin with peanut butter, the rest of the day was just so….protein heavy.
Still loving oatmeal, especially with the fresh berries I bought on sale a few days ago!
Anyone who knows me knows that I do not preach about diets and nutrition. In fact, I stay out of the conversations. If you ask for my opinion, I will certainly give it but I won’t ever tell you that you must eat the way I do or give up your favorite steaks and chicken cutlets.
What I will recommend to anyone though is to consider adding more plant-based nutrient-dense foods to your diet.
Extra fruit and vegetables on your plate, complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain breads or my favorite, Ezekiel Bread.
I am still beyond obsessed by the way with the chickpea/avocado mash on Ezekiel toast. This picture actually shows the avocado mashed with a quinoa/lentil mix.
The flavors and textures are amazing and when you finished eating, I swear you feel energized. There is truth to labeling such foods as “Power Meals” when plant-based proteins/carbs and avocado are involved.
I remember when I was a nursing mom. I didn’t pump many bottles, but I do remember that it was necessary to date your bottles for the freezer because they needed to be used within a certain time frame.
Not so much because they were going to go bad quickly, more so because the milk produced one day contained certain nutrients at certain times depending upon what the baby needs.
Fascinating, isn’t it? I mean, think about it – my body was producing milk that contained different nutrients at different times all dictated by what my growing baby needed at each stage of his nursing life.
This tells us a few things.
It explains that our bodies are truly fascinating and rather intelligent works of art, as well as tells us that at different times in our lives, we require different nutrition.
It’s a shame that beyond the infant stage, we must rely on ourselves to determine our needs since so many of us ignore the cravings, hunger signals and nutrients we consciously and/or subconsciously know we need.
I know I need pre-and-post workout meals, snacks during the day and balanced plates of complex carbs, proteins and fat.
This bite of cinnamon raisin bread with peanut butter and blueberries certainly does the trick every time.
If you are going to run, or at least want to run well, you need to fuel properly. If you are going to exercise at all, or basically function beyond laying in bed all day, you need energy.
I understand that we can teach our bodies to run on high protein/low carb and burn the fat as fuel but my experiences have shown me that I am much healthier, happier and leaner incorporating many more carbs into my daily diet.
We really need to stay in tune with ourselves, constantly make those adjustments and modify our meals and choices. Run more tomorrow? You need to eat more. Have a race coming up? Add in extras of your quality fuel sources such as bananas, potatoes, whole grains and hydrating fruits.
Race recovery? Hydrate and fuel up on carbs and protein….and salt.
I craved salt three hours after Sunday’s race like nobody’s business. If you know me, I never want anything salty. I had already finished eating and suddenly needed salt in the worst way.
I salted, buttered then mashed avocado on a really toasted english muffin (half I devoured while making this plate) along side a salted up salad with anything I could find in the refrigerator. It hit the spot in an emergency situation.
If you make any change to your diet based upon reading my post, I hope the change you make is that you will listen to your body more often and give it what it asks for. It may ask for cake, which is just fine but if you pay close enough attention, it will also ask for the important nutrients you need to thrive.
Geez, I have been so busy racing, running and eating that I forgot to share with you the link to my Sunday food prep feature over at The Lean Green Bean.
If you are a vegetarian, when did you become one?
Do you notice a difference in your workouts when you eat different foods?
What do you order at The Cheesecake Factory?