Q+A: Nutrition and Eating as a Pro Athlete
Hey hey! Welcome to the next section of my little Q+A series. If you missed the first segment, I talk "Life as a Pro" by answering some more general life questions from Insta. You can always click the "Q+A" category on the blog to see them all!
Thank you again for the great questions and let me know in the comments if you want to know more:)
Here we go!
Does your diet impact your running lifestyle significantly?
I definitely think so! I would even go as far to say that nutrition and diet could be more important than physical work put in. Think about it, if you're not fueling it correctly, how can you ask your body to do these crazy difficult tasks, recover from them rather quickly, then do it again?
Fortunately, healthy eating has always been a priority for my family, and I've carried that with me since I was very young. However, I have had my fair share of realizations that my diet has to change if I want to see improvement. For example, when I was a junior in college, my race times plateaued and I couldn't figure out why. The following season, I tested my iron, found out I was lower than I should be, and started taking a supplement and eating more iron-rich foods. Not only did I perform better that year, but I felt better when I was practicing. I can't say for sure whether its all due to more iron consumption, but I believe it played a hand.
I think its important to talk about diet A LOT because people tend to confuse what healthy eating means. Not eating too much can quickly turn into not eating enough, and I've been there as well. I have a small stomach and a preoccupied mind, so a busy day can leave me forgetting that I didn't eat lunch.
Just because I choose healthy foods more often than not, doesn't mean I'm eating the right things, which is why I tested with Inside Tracker this year- and you can read about my experience here. I learned a lot (and I mean a LOT) about the nutrients I was lacking and what I could eat to gain them. I also learned how these things effect performance. I was lacking in proteins (and some other fancier terms I'm not as knowledgeable of lol) that essentially meant I wasn't recovering after hard workouts. And it kinda opened my eyes to why I was feeling terrible trying to do several tough training sessions a week.
Every body is different and needs specific things, and I've been at my best when I'm eating enough, eating a large variety, and getting the right nutrients I need. When I'm not, it shows on the track.
Do you ever worry about your weight?
I think everyone worries about weight at some point, especially women, and especially women athletes. However, I do not own a scale and for the past several years have had no interest really in checking out my weight. Your weight can change at the drop of a hat and vary day to day, so in my opinion, and for me, checking it frequently does more damage than good.
Understanding our bodies is one of the most important pieces of success as an athlete, and I've started to know when my body is getting into shape or in peak condition, and a number on the scale is NOT a black and white, yes or no, answer to the question: "am I fit?"
That being said, I know that weight plays a certain role in performance and I know the RANGE that I should be in. And that's different for everyone because of how much muscle and body fat is right for you. Instead of focusing on what the actual weight is, I worry more about day to day health factors like eating right, doing my cardio, lifting weights, getting enough water and sleep, etc.
My favorite meal in the entire world is definitely fajitas. I think I could eat them every single day. You can make them an unlimited number of ways, especially if you branch out to like taco bowls thingys. So many amazing ingredients in one spot. My favorite foods though probably are donuts and carrots. Not at the same time.
Do you log your meals?
No, but I want to! I have been experimenting with this, specifically with the My Fitness Pal app, because there are certain certain levels of nutrients I want to meet daily that I don't think I am right now. Like protein for example. I want to keep track of how much I get in a day since its so important for getting stronger and recovering well.
I also think it would be great to learn more about how certain foods make me feel. Before a workout, after a hard day, etc.
I'm a big fan of writing things down and making lists. Logging training and meals has never been a part of that for me though. The past year I finally started logging workouts, but still never took the time for food. Part of my concern is becoming excessively obsessed with diet, leading to unhealthy behaviors and wasted time on thinking too much. I will report back on my findings once I start really doing it!
What do you eat for dessert? When trying to be healthy?
I'm constantly posting the meals that I make on my Insta story (sorry), so I actually get this question a lot! Most nights I love to have a big bowl of popcorn or a bowl of berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries) with chocolate chips. Those are my fav after dinner desserts. I also like keeping some dark chocolate around to munch on.
If I actually make a real dessert, 9/10 its brownies cause my boyfriend's visiting and that's what we do. And like I said before, donuts are one of my absolute fav treats.
I recently got really into making desserts that are "healthy," with less sugar than a traditional dessert and that has things like protein in them instead. Stay tuned for more posts about those desserts, and also these super simple and healthy no bake cookies are a MUST try.
Thanks for checking out this Nutrition & Diet segment and thanks to the people who asked questions. Feel free to ask more questions by commenting below or messaging me on Instagram!