Ways to add protein to your diet

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Part of my marathon training has involved taking a look at my diet and making some changes.  I like many marathon runners in training started gaining weight.  If you follow me on FB or twitter you could tell it was FREAKING ME OUT. I admit it may have been an over reaction, but after being 250lbs and pretty much overweight from 1st grade on I don’t want to go back there.  I worked hard the last few years to get where I am by changing my eating, gaining healthy habits, and working out.  That being said one of the big things I have done to help lessen the weight gain from overdoing carbs is I have worked to increase my protein.  There is a lot of emphasis on carbohydrates with running, in part because that is what our bodies preferred source of energy is; it is not however the only source of energy.  Also protein is very important in the repair process for our muscles and is one of the macronutrients that helps us to feel fuller longer.  Both muscle repair and not having the runchies all the time are super important in being healthy and maintaining my weight.  So I have a few things I thought I would share about how I am increasing my protein intake with snacks and meals.

  • Eggs- I love them anyway so I usually have an egg sandwich in the morning with 1-2 eggs or an egg for a quick snack in the afternoon to help hold me over for dinner.
  • Protein powder- yesterday after my 16 mile run I knew I would be starving the rest of the day if I didn’t do something about refueling right away.  I grabbed a double dose of Designer Whey vanilla protein powder, I could spare the calories so it was no big deal.
  • Nuts- I love raw nuts and nut butters so I find that they help sustain me as a quick little snack, especially paired with some pears (pun intended).
  • Dairy products- some days I find I crave milk, greek yogurt, or cottage cheese so I will have a little bit.  I also find that if the runchies get me later in the evening a small glass of milk will sit on my stomach better and not be too filling.
  • Quinoa- I love quinoa, it is so versatile, you can eat it as if it is a side like rice, you can throw it in your eggs, you can eat it instead of oatmeal, or throw it in your favorite soups.  There are so many things you can add it to that I can’t possibly list them all here.  They are used like a grain, but guess what?  They are actually a vegetable and a complete protein; I am a major fan if you can’t tell.
  • Edamame- I discovered dry roasted edamame at the store the other day and oh my goodness it’s great!  I must admit it is one of the healthy things I could easily go overboard with if I am not mindful. 

Whatever your particular diet (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, clean eater) getting enough protein is vital for muscle repair, brain functioning, and fighting off hunger (runchies) so you can maintain weight.  What are some of your favorite ways to boost your protein intake, especially after a hard run or workout?

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Teachable moments from marathon training

I have been at a loss for a few weeks at what to write so I haven’t posted for a bit.  I have had a lot going on in life and have been concentrating on doing the things I have to do.  I enjoy blogging/writing, but it it fell to the bottom of the list.  I’m back though and still working on my marathon training.  I have found that it is a pretty time demanding activity, more than I thought when I started.  There are a few things I have learned along the way and I want to share a few with you.

  1. The treadmill is not the enemy- it’s a bit more boring than running outside, but it is a useful tool when you want to run, but are maybe not feeling the best or can only fit the run in during a time period that is dark (I live in the middle of Vegas and running alone in the dark is not a choice I would make).  Options are important to have when you are taking on big challenges.
  2. Calorie restrictions are NOT for marathon training- I tried it, I gained weight; I listened to my friends (the more experienced personal trainer and the dietitians) ate more started stabilizing.  In fact it’s helped me confront an older way of thinking that focuses on restricting rather than focusing on clean eating.  It’s a different and healthier mindset because it uses more of a mindfulness perspective where I have to listen to my body more.
  3. Food prep is invaluable during marathon training- I would eat any kind of junk if I didn’t have stuff prepared already and to be honest there have been a few days where I have had some regrettable meals.  Instead of that being a major set back I use it as a learning lesson.
  4. Get support- having family around to help out has been vital, I don’t say it often enough, but I really appreciate them and all they have done to help me.  Being surrounded by supportive people can encourage you when you might feel like giving up.
  5. I have more strength than I thought- I always held back on my dream to run, I was scared and intimidated by the thought of running that far.  I talk to other people now about running, hearing that some reluctance from them, I smile and say I thought that too.  It takes a certain amount of determination and goal setting to go out there and run an insane amount of miles.  That same determination is going to keep me going on my journey.  I expect that same determination will help me facing other challenges in life.

Each goal we set, each part of our journey in life, should give us teachable moments.  I can’t wait to see what the teachable moment is when I cross the finish line.  What are some of the teachable moments you have had in your fitness journey that you have applied to your life? 

My friend the foam roller

If you are newer to fitness and just learning about running pay attention to this post…I am about to introduce you to your best friend/favorite torture device the foam roller.  This is one of those pieces of equipment that I love to hate.  I learned about the concept of self myofascial release from a trainer friend of mine about a year ago.  She explained how the use of it had helped her a great deal with muscle spasms and was a big part of treating her sciatica.  At that point I had never experienced any problems really so I found it interesting, but didn’t really go further with it. 

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My travel roller, love this thing!

Then I started working on getting my CPT and I really learned about it…I started foam rolling before runs, after runs, and other workouts.  I realized that I really dodged a bullet by not having any problems that are common to runners like IT and TFL issues.  In fact it hit me that I really hadn’t even stretched for ANY of my half marathon training…yikes!  As I started foam rolling at the gym and at home I felt the difference immediately in my hips, calves, and lower back.  Foam rolling and self myofascial release allows you to apply gentle (HA!) force to an adhesion or knot that may have developed as a result of stress on your muscles.  Doing this type of stretching stimulates the Golgi tendon organ and creates a reaction that leads to a release of the tension in the underlying musculature aka breaks up the knots.  I laugh out loud at the gentle part because there are days that it feels anything but gentle while applying the pressure.  I can’t deny that it works and it works well; the days I have to rush back and end up busy so I don’t roll I can tell.  Especially as I start doing these longer runs during the week. 

The key is to find the sensitive spot and to hold for at least 30 seconds, even if it hurts a bit hold on as long as you can. You can add pressure to it by placing one leg over another or finding another way to add body weight to the equation.  The benefits of doing it are:

  • it helps to reduce the knots
  • improves flexibility and joint range of motion
  • reduces muscle soreness
  • helps increase blood flow starting the repair process for the muscles
  • reduces the chances of injury

You will find that most foam rollers start at around $20 and go up from there.  There are some other options besides just a foam roller that you can use including some things you might have around the house: golf balls, tennis balls, soft balls, etc.  There are some rollers that come with bumps and ridges to add to the pressure and you can just get some handheld ones and ones that are more like sticks.  A foam roller and a golf ball for my feet are some of my must haves for my training and in future posts I will share a few more with you. Do warn your loved ones if you are going to use it so they don’t panic if they hear you scream…it’s a good pain really it is. LOL!

Let me ask, have you tried foam rolling or self myofascial release?  What did you think? More

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