A Look at How My Eating Habits Have Changed as I Train

This is part 2 of a 9-part series where I cover various topics in preparation for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon on my blog. Since my eating habits don’t change too drastically when I am training for a race, I’ll cover my eating habits before and after I started running. In the previous post, I announced my involvement as a social media ambassador for the marathon.

If eating junk food was an Olympic event, I would be a gold medalist year over year and if the medals were made out of chocolate, I’d consume them while the flag of my country was raised and we were listening to the national anthem; no doubt there will be chocolate dripping down the side of my face. My sweet tooth and my constant need to snack are probably the only hurdles keeping me from being super fit and, the truth is, I’m fine with it.

I’ve always had an average build and, for a short time in my 20’s, went through a phase where I was strict about my diet and lived in a gym. I was in great shape, weighing  165 pounds, but after a few years, the novelty wore off. Working out stopped being fun and I didn’t have the time or patience to maintain a restrictive diet.

Tipping the Scale

I can’t exactly pinpoint when it happened, but at some point in my life, weighing close to 180 pounds became the new norm for me. Actually, it likely started around the time I took a job in the consumer packaged goods industry in 2012.

 

My office was located in the well known (now closed) bakery on Lakeshore and Parklawn in Etobicoke. The bakers would load-up the break room with cookies, crackers, and other tasty treats so the rest of the employees could snack on them. I gained most of my weight in the first few months working at this location. By the end of the year, I moved to another location where boxes of chocolate and candy were distributed to every employee during Easter and Halloween. They could have stopped paying me and I would have still come to work every day!

Running it Off

Shortly after I started running in 2013, the pounds started melting away and from the Fall of 2013- early 2015, I weighed just over 150 pounds. I didn’t start running because I wanted to run a marathon; I started running to get in shape. Once I was starting to feel better about myself, running took on a new form for me and I started to sign-up for races. In 2014 I ran a few 10K races as well as a half marathon and started training for my first marathon at the beginning of the year in 2015. Since that time, I’ve consistently hovered around the 147 pound mark.

Having finished two marathons last year (June and October), two this year (May and September), and a third in less than two months, I am having a difficult time remembering what it’s like to NOT be training! I did take a week off after my marathon in May, but the following week was already ramping up my long runs in preparation for my recent marathon. Carb loading aside, I have always been relatively consistent about what I eat since I started running. My daily routine rarely changes, so I’ll cover of what a typical day looks like regardless of whether I’m training or not.

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Breakfast

Aside for all the running gear I was required to purchase when I started running, I was advised I should also purchase a blender. My morning ritual was cereal (preferably something with copious amounts of sugar) but that would soon be replaced with protein shakes. For the past three years, I’ve made the same shake with the only change being the type of protein powder I use. My shakes are always 1 banana, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 cup of frozen Kirkland berries from Costco, and 1 scoop of protein powder. On some occasions, I’ll add a tablespoon of almond butter to change the taste a bit.

QOTD: Do you make shakes for breakfast? If so, what are your go-to ingredients?

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Mid-morning Snack

Almost always almonds. I keep a bag of Kirkland almonds from Costco at my desk at work and eat a handful (around 20) every day. One weekends, I will either grab some almonds or a protein bar.

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Lunch

Lunch during the week is typically leftovers from the night before (see Dinner for additional info!). On Wednesday’s the cafeteria at work makes jerk chicken and I try not to miss it! Once you add in the rice and beans and sauce, it’s probably safe to say this isn’t a healthy meal, but I’m fine with that! I make up for it the rest of the weekdays with healthier meals. On weekends it’s a free for all. Again, I’m not overly strict about my diet, so whatever the family wants to eat on the weekend is fine by me.

Mid-day Snack 

Aside from almonds, I also keep boxes of Kashi Seven Grain with Quinoa crunchy bars at my desk. We get them from Costco as well and they come in two flavors (Honey Oat Flax and Chocolate Chip Chia). They are so good!

Dinner

My wife is an excellent chef. She often finds or comes up with the most amazing recipes for us and our son. Typically every meal is healthy(ish) or at least consists of organic ingredients and healthier options. We have a pasta night, taco night, and salmon, chicken, or meat night depending on our (or the chef’s) craving that night.

Late-night Snack

At the end of the night, usually around 9:00PM, I’ll snack on something relatively healthy. Notice a theme here? I try to stick with meals and snacks that are relatively healthy, but they aren’t always. A good example is the homemade granola we have been making for the better part of this year. It’s absolutely delicious, but has a ton of carbs, sugar, and calories per serving. For months, I would eat that on its own and then I discovered Greek yogurt. I never liked yogurt growing up and my wife convinced me to try Greek yogurt. I’m now addicted to it! I started adding Greek yogurt to my homemade granola and while it was absolutely delicious, it isn’t exactly the healthiest option for a late-night snack! Lately I’ve just been eating Greek yogurt on its own.

Other Snacking

While my diet has significantly improved since I started running, I still snack a lot. I do try to keep it under control when I am training for a race and will consciously consider what I’m eating and whether it’s worth it; however, I’m not always that strict! What I like about where I am right now is I don’t have insane running goals that I am not able to accomplish because of my diet. If that changes, it may make me rethink everything above!

Next week, I’ll discuss how I find time to train, or as someone recently asked me: “How the hell do you find the time to run, write a blog, be a dad and husband?”

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6 thoughts on “A Look at How My Eating Habits Have Changed as I Train

  1. Amazing 😉 journey! I aim to run 🏃🏼 my first marathon next year. I did two half marathons so far, best time 2:15. How many months dedicated training do you recommend before the first marathon?

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    1. Hi EraMe! Thanks for commenting! Congrats on finishing your half marathons! I remember the feeling I had when I finished my first; it really was an incredible experience. Wait until you finish a full!!! I’m not a coach, so I won’t pretend to know the best answer to your question, but I highly recommend you take a look at the various plans out there and determine the best fit for you. I followed one of Hal Higdon’s marathon plans (Google it and you’ll find a few options) and at the time it was a 12 week plan. My last two marathon plans were 16 and 15 weeks respectively. Good luck training and let me know how it goes!

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  2. Sounds like a good mix of healthy and not overly restrictive! I’m pretty repetitive in what I eat daily too but I’ve definitely found the hardest thing is making an actual meal come the end of the day. I’m often just so tired and could easily rely on a protein shake when I know I feel so much better with an actual meal and lots of veggies! I’ve also learned to be very prepared with healthy snacks… or else, scones watch out! Haha.

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