Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Naturally Thin

A recent commenter asked, “What do you eat to make up for all that exercise?”

Good freaking question. I don’t talk a lot about food consumption on this blog. Or dieting. Or calorie counting. Or weight loss. It’s just not that kind of blog. I think too much talk about that stuff can lead to some obsessiveness. As a culture, we are already so weight and food obsessed.

I am not bashing anyone who has  food/diet/weight loss blog. It can be very helpful in the right hands. It’s just not me.

I’m going to be honest. Except for a stint in my twenties when I was staying out all night drinking beer and eating nachos and chicken wings, I have always been naturally thin. Hate me if you want, it’s the truth and I’m not ashamed of it. I like being thin. I feel terrific in my body. I am lean and muscular and have worked hard to become that way and to stay that way. Sometimes when you are thin and exercise a lot you get labeled as eating disordered. Yes, there are those people. They are not me.

I’m a believer in the work hard, play hard mentality. I exercise my ass off to reach my goals. I am not obsessive about it, I am disciplined. I calorie count when I am doing high volume training. Not to lose weight, but to make sure I am eating enough.

After working hard, it’s time to eat hard. Anything I want, anytime I want. However, food is still fuel and needs to be respected. That means I limit the crap I put into my body. There is nothing I won't eat, but the high fat, junk food does not sit well with me (think “the runs”) and does me no favors when I go out to train hard.

I believe it’s a lifestyle. It’s finding the connection between how you feel mentally, emotionally and physically and what you put into your body. There is NOTHING I eat in a given day that I eat without being completely conscious of how it is or is not contributing to the well being of my body. Awareness is key. When we get disconnected, we make poor choices.

During that time in my twenties I weighed 30 pounds more than I do now. I looked really different. I never set out to lose the weight, I just started cycling like crazy and changed my diet. It was a lifestyle shift and commitment. I’ve never gone back. And, I’ve never felt better in my own skin.

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Taken in 1991. Told you I looked different. That’s a double chin! And, yes, those are potato chips to my left.

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Twenty years and 2 kids later. I’m wearing the same earrings.

So – all of this to say that training ten hours per week requires careful attention to getting enough calories, and making sure the majority of those calories are high quality.

A day in the life:

6 a.m.: Cup of coffee with lots of cream, piece of cinnamon raisin toast with almond butter (can’t eat a lot before I work out)

7 a.m.: 1-2 hour workout (bike, swim, run or yoga). If I’m running or biking I try to eat 200-300 calories per hour during the workout.

9 a.m.: 2nd cup off coffee with lots of cream. Clif bar, protein bar and piece of fruit

12 p.m.: Eat whatever I can find in the kitchen that has high carbs/protein and incorporates fruits and veggies. Usually a “kitchen sink” egg scramble with cheese, avocado, spinach tomatoes and beans. Today’s concoction was leftover orzo with two poached eggs, three large handfuls of sautéed spinach and parmesan cheese.

2 p.m.: Dessert of some sort. Ice cream, cookies. I bake a lot so I usually have fresh brownies or banana bread on hand.

6 p.m.: Dinner with family. Typically will be grilled chicken/fish with rice and some sort of veggie.

8 p.m.: Snack time. Glass of chardonnay and big bowl of microwave popcorn (Orville Redenbocker) with melted better and parmesan cheese.

Total daily calories: 2,300-2,600.   According to this site, I need to eat 2,000 calories a day to stay even. I know my metabolism runs high, so I eat a bit more.

With this new training volume, I am constantly trying to makes sure I am fueling correctly. I go based on: Is my weight steady? How is my energy? How is my mood? I will tell you that these days I am hungry ALL THE TIME.

I know my input comes from someone who is not overweight or trying to lose weight, so maybe I lose some legitimacy. But, I have not always been healthy, that’s for sure. I have made quite a turn around in that department.

There is nothing magical about it. Eat quality foods. The more you move the more you eat unless you are trying to lose weight. Eat consciously, always. Treat your body with respect and fuel it accordingly.

What’s your eating philosophy?  How is your relationship with food? Healthy? Dysfunctional?

SUAR

67 comments:

  1. It is often difficult for people who are not naturally thin to hear people who are give life-style eating tips. I know this because those "thin" people are just thin by the preceptive of the viewer. To my larger friends, I am "thin" and they don't always want to hear about my needs to eat healthy or keep my weight in check.
    It is important for everyone to remember that their's is the best body! We each have a limit of how much we can adjust the look and feel we have inside that skin we are given. While I won't ever be as lean as you, Beth (although I wish I could be!). I want to have that joy and drive you share with us everyday! You truly seem happy with who you are. That is the best example.
    Thanks for the great post!

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  2. Fantastic post! Staying "connected and aware" are definitely keys to successful nutrition and fueling. Just as we are what we eat, we must also be wary that we become what we don't eat...or something like that!

    And seriously, being hungry all the time is a P.I.T.A, isn't it?!

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  3. This is a GREAT post, I love it! I like to think I'm pretty conscious about what I put in my body. I definitely know when I'm giving it crap and it in turn gives me crap workouts. And I know when I'm fueling it properly and I have stellar workouts. Thanks for sharing :)

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  4. Training for endurance events helps my relationship with food because I'm always thinking of it as fuel. Plus I have a sensitive stomach so eating like sh*t isn't worth it for the sh*t it produces.
    I do hate the always hungry part when I find myself away from the house with no food.
    Great post!

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  5. Great post!!!! I started running a little over a year ago because every other weight loss technique I tried, failed. I wasn't obese, but I was overweight and unhappy, and obesity runs in my family.

    Fast forward to January of this year - I was at the peak of my first half marathon training, and I'm the thinnest I've been in almost 10 years. Now all I hear from people, "Oh, you're so skinny", "You run too much, you're too skinny", "Don't you eat".

    I'm 5'5" and weight 135 pounds! What's wrong with that? I just hate people that judge a book by it's cover. Then of course there's the people that have the even worse comments, "Oh you're so thin, I hate you." WTF? I work my ass off to look like this - hate your lazy ass self and get out and do something.

    @Adrienne - ABSOLUTELY! I'm training for my first marathon - I feel like I can't get enough food!

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  6. Are you kidding? TOTALLY LEGITIMATE! I love learning how (if) other athletes moderate their diet - it's amazing how different we all are, but it all comes down to food as fuel. It took me a long time to realize that garbage in = garbage out.

    That being said, I still believe that I DO have a dysfunctional relationship with food - hence the week long binge post BQ. I have issues with moderation and bad deprivation/binge habits. It is an ongoing battle, going back to when I was 10 years old... I know it will never come naturally to me, but viewing myself as an athlete helps me make smarter choices on a regular basis.

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  7. "awareness is key" love that

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  8. Totally agree with Shellyrm. This is such a great post. Just curious, Beth, how (and what) do you eat 200-300 calories per hour while working out? I know I need to fuel more while running...it's really a challenge for me, though.

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  9. Love your perspective. I am also a naturally thin person (who also is aware) As someone posted above, it drives me crazy when people say "oh your so skinny, eat a sandwich" like it's okay to taunt someone for being thin. I would never say to an obese person "you're so fat, you should go on a diet!" That would be a horrible thing to say, yet the skinny comments seem to be perfectly acceptable. Drives me nutzo!

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  10. Jennifer C: On bike rides its so easy to eat b/c my stomach is never upset. I do Clif Bars, fruit snacks, sports drink, banana. While running I can't eat much so I usually do a couple of gels.

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  11. I love this post. I think your legitimacy lies in your honesty--and Lord knows you're honest! I love to run and I love to eat. I find that those two things marry perfectly!

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  12. i think this is the first ever health blog that has said "i like being thin." me too. 3 cheers for honesty.

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  13. You commented on my blog right as I was reading yours. How weird is that?! :) I love seeing old pictures! An active lifestyle clearly has its benefits. Eating a ton of food is definitely my favorite! I love marathon training because I can eat half of a large pizza the night before my long runs and still lose weight unintentionally. I know that not everyone has that experience, but I am grateful my body works that way.

    Is it weird that I love when you do" a day in the life"? I must have some serious stalker tendencies to enjoy reading what you do each hour, as much as I do.

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  14. I like your blog - I get comments, as well, about being too thin at times. I'm healthy and feel good. I went vegetarian (98% vegan) about two years ago at the same time I started running more consistently. I've never been overweight, but I did lose weight. The beauty of a plant based diet and running is that I never ever count calories anymore. I count fruits, I count veggies, I count grains, nuts and beans - all to ensure I am getting enough nutrients - but not calories. I will say, though, that I do LOVE Ghirardelli chocolate chips and a huge class of chocolate soymilk after my long runs. I do eat junk on occasion - but try to keep it within reason.I threw away the scale and weigh only occasionally; never felt better! (plus, taking out the animal ingredients tends to lead to less tummy problems on the run, by the way!!!) :)

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  15. P.S. As a veggie runner - I eat constantly!!!

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  16. Love your honesty and the transformation from '91 to prove a healthy/active lifestyle makes a diff.

    I personally don't have to the patience to snap food pics...I'm usually half way through before I think of it!

    Love your naturally lean baah-day!

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  17. I love this. Your thinking is right on par with me. I allow my self to eat what I want with in reason, and as long as it makes me feel good. I do try to eat as healthy as possible when it comes to the 3 main meals, throwing in some "treats" like chocolate and sweet tea (in moderation, like once/twice a week--it is my weakness!) Would you be offended if I quoted you on my blog? I am just starting out in the blogging world and would love to make a connection from your post to my philosophies about eating and exercise.

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  18. Tough subject for me, but you hit it with 'staying connected and aware'. I am not natually thin and was previously obese. While a bad thyroid was part to blame (now removed), I also selected the wrong foods far too often. Finally I figured out a full life-style change was needed. Now I walk tons (twice a day most everyday) and run and bike often as well (completed my first full marathon 6 weeks ago!). Sweets are now treats, not staples. I simply always try to move more and eat less (and better).

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  19. Well, I'm your "before" weight and a little more (146) at 5'3'' and a size 10. But I can run 9 miles, just did a 5k in 25 minutes, and have the most muscular legs my husband says he's ever seen (in a good way)! It's all about your comfort level in your own skin and also choosing the right fuels for your body while not denying the occasional treat (or nightly glass of wine which I, too, enjoy!)

    Love your blog!

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  20. Sanity and Sweet Tea: Absolutely, feel free. I'd be honored.

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  21. This is a great post! I'm linking over from Skinny Runner and so happy to have found your site. Looking forward to being a regular reader!

    I've recently lost 25 pounds (that I gained bc of a sedentary life with crummy eating habits after my metabolism finally slowed down in my late 30's). Now that I'm reaching my goal weight, I agree that you should not deprive yourself of splurges and things you like. It's just now, I make sure I haul my tail outta bed and get a good workout in too! :-)

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  22. Great post!! I try to be aware of the food that I put into my body. Thanks for your honesty, a person should feel good in their own skin:))I really enjoying reading your blog

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  23. love your honesty! my family is naturally lean (thank god) so I can relate. But being an athlete (like yourself), quality is key. But of course, wine is always the other key too, right?

    Cheers Beth!

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  24. Yes I love this! Thank you!! I could not agree moor. I try so hard to practice just this!

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  25. My only issue with your food choices is the cream and not because of the cream but because you don't get the opportunity to actually taste the coffee.

    C'mon try it once without the cream....you will love the taste of coffee.....

    You are also the best with your honesty and I respect that immensely. No reason to sugar coat it.

    I am tired of people telling me I'm crazy. Drives me bananas b/c crazy is eating McD's and sitting on the couch all day. Yes my life is busy but go back and read that....it's MY life. I don't interject my habits onto you so don't do that to me.

    Hey...who moved my soapbox....damn it....back to work I guess.

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  26. Jason - oh no dude!! I def taste the coffee in there. Even with all that cream. I take my coffee VERY strong.

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  27. you
    KNOW
    I
    love
    this.

    my relationship now . . . . freaking awesome. I see food as fuel . . . ok 74% of the time. the other whatever percentage . . . I just freaking love carrot cake and hummus.

    weird. I know.

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  28. I don't think I'm naturally thin, in spite of Asians being classed as such. I have a bigger build that some of the really small Asians and feel self-conscious about that. However, I think my body is mostly okay, and I find it easiest to stay this way by not getting too obsessive. I mostly go for health these days, though I still indulge sometimes, which I accept.

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  29. For the most part I have a pretty healthy attitude toward food and fueling, though I tend to underestimate the importance of eating enough. I, too, tend toward 'thin.'

    My family of origin had a pretty dysfunctional outlook on food... everything was super portioned out and very restrained and guarded. I was told I was fat at one point... and I wasn't. Just weird.

    I have had some very strange eating habits at various times in my life, mostly just stupidity-related and not body image related ;-) Gummy worms are NOT a good source of protein, for example.

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  30. "When we get disconnected, we make poor choice" - that's true on so many levels, not just in terms of eating habits. Great post. Unfortunately my metabolism kinda blows. Somewhere between a hippo and a rhino. I can gain weight pretty easily, either muscle when I'm behaving well, or fat when I'm not. This was good back when I lifted a lot and ran a little, but now that the pendulum has shifted towards running it has been challenging. Trying to 'get lean' requires concerted effort on my part, regardless of whether I'm getting in 40+ miles a week of training or not. One of the reasons I like being in a training cycle is that food becomes 'fuel', and I'm aware of how it might help me the next time out. I'll always be powerless against chocolate-covered pretzels, but otherwise I've developed pretty decent eating habits over the years.

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  31. This is my first time on your BLOG and I really enjoyed reading your post! Skinnyrunner recommended checking it out and I am glad I did. So often, people comment on how I am so thin and what do I do. I want them to read your post. You were able to sum up the ideas I struggle to relay. Awareness is key! Thanks for a great post! I'll be back to read more!

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  32. My relationship with food has been really bad in the past... It's actually been on both ends of the bad spectrum. I've counted calories and restricted myself to the point of having sweaty shaking fits at night from my blood sugar being so low, but I've also gorged myself day in and day out on pure junk.

    I've just recently finally gotten to where I am happy with how I view food and I know that I am learning how to fuel my body well. I still let myself have those less than healthy foods that I crave, but instead of every night, it is once every one to two weeks.

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  33. I love this post!

    I started running years ago, and it literally changed my life ... from what I do and what I eat to how I feel about myself and my body. and like CupcakeRunner, I get the same comments ... "why do you run so much?" "you're skinny... you can eat this or that." but what they don't realize is ... is that I do what I do (and eat what I eat) because I want to. because i feel sooo good when I do.

    so... to all the Debbie downers and negative Nancys of the world, I say ... shut up. I gotta go for a run.

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  34. I love this post!

    I started running years ago, and it literally changed my life ... from what I do and what I eat to how I feel about myself and my body. and like CupcakeRunner, I get the same comments ... "why do you run so much?" "you're skinny... you can eat this or that." but what they don't realize is ... is that I do what I do (and eat what I eat) because I want to. because i feel sooo good when I do.

    so... to all the Debbie downers and negative Nancys of the world, I say ... shut up. I gotta go for a run.

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  35. I think endurance sports are a great way to find peace with eating. Instead of fueling for sitting around, you are actually using your food to take you places! And junk food won't take you far.
    Great post!

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  36. Favorite quote from your post:
    "There is NOTHING I eat in a given day that I eat without being completely conscious of how it is or is not contributing to the well being of my body. Awareness is key. When we get disconnected, we make poor choices."
    Fab post.

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  37. I do not keep track of my calories. I just eat when I'm hungry. I am frustrated because not matter how much I train I can't drop a few measly pounds. That I would love to do

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  38. I'm here from skinnyrunner too and I'm standing up and applauding from where I'm at after reading this post. (Oh, and immediately adding you to my reader.)

    I just started running about 1 1/2 years ago but it has completely transformed me. I guess I was one of those "naturally" thin people, so when I started running and dropped 3 sizes (and only 6 lbs!), people started to question me. I was almost made to feel embarrassed and ashamed of being thin, but you know what? I obviously had some padding to lose and I feel better than ever. I will not apologize for taking care of myself and living a healthy, active lifestyle.

    I almost jumped out of my seat and shouted "Me too!" when I read that you count calories to make sure you get enough - I do that too when I ramp up my training because I know I don't have a lot of wiggle room, weight-wise. But of course, no one wants to hear about that.

    So bless you for speaking the truth and not being embarrassed about being thin. We shouldn't be made to feel that way.

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  39. Don't believe in dieting, just in lifestyle changes.

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  40. relationship with food....
    hmm well I eat because I have to
    obviously.
    I am not on a diet to loose weight but I am on a really strict and frustrating diet and it sucks. so food is just something that is necessary, cannot say I enjoy it anymore. it is fuel.

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  41. those number on that site...all realtive..says I should eat 2300 calorie...there is no way I could ever eat that in a day. I think I am at 1800 maybe...if I am lucky

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  42. I think you look so much sexier now, so keep eating what you do and training like a women possessed.

    I have no control and eat to much, and to much chocolate, drink to much Coke, beer, wine, and on the weekend I eat to much chips... But I run, and run and run, so I'm not to fat.

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  43. Somedays I do great other days not so much. Just depends I wish I was naturally that thin though! You eat so balanced and healthy. I love that you are more of a run blogger. I love food bloggers, but typically I find they eat more for calorie then for running. Us crazy athletes need more fuel then that! I probably eat 2-3k a day which I am perfectly OK with!

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  44. I am what might be considered thin but I get pretty ticked off when people tell me I'm "lucky" to be thin. "Luck" has got nuthin' to do with it - I work my hiney off! I also get annoyed when they say, "She looks GREAT...for having 4 kids!" - like that somehow makes it OK to have a muffin top? I dunno.

    I have finally started to focus on how I feel as much as how I look and eating better (healthier) foods usually makes me feel better. Although I like a piece of (BetsyAnn) chocolate with my glass of Chianti!

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  45. I've actually been eating a lot more that I should, I'm dropping a pound a week still.

    The biggest thing is my waist is tightening up even more than the weight is being lost.

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  46. Sometimes I calorie count and sometimes I don't. It depends on how I feel. I started to feel as if I was getting more jelly in the belly so I started to count to really see how much I was eating. Turns out I was eating too much but I thought I wasn't. I've also been running more and as the boyfriend pointed out to me the other day, I've lost my "winter belly". Today I weighed myself and since a month ago I've lost 10 pounds. Definitely has something to do with marathon training and weight training. Plus its summer and I am 100 times more active now than winter. I think everyone is for the most part.
    Weight fluctuates over the years. What your body needs is what your body needs. Everyone is different. Builds are different. I am 5 ft even and I have friends that are as tall as 5'10. We eat soooo differently. I get full faster than all my friends, I eat a ton less.
    You do just have to be aware of what is going in your body and make sure its right especially when training!
    Now off to stuff my face with a chicken sandwich!

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  47. I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing! I recently got a lecture from my aunt who has decided that I must have a disorder or obsession with losing weight. I have dropped over 50 pounds since I started running. I feel SO much better, and I look so much better. I went from size 14 to size 4, and I still have a little fat on my body, which doesn't bother me. I eat 2000 calories a day, but I work out six days a week. It's funny what people who don't exercise will say to feel better about themselves.

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  48. Thank you for sharing. I think I was one of those people asking what you ate. You nailed it with talking about eating consciously and with awareness. I appreciate your candor. Love to read your blog every day.. you inspire me.

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  49. Thank you for sharing. I think I was one of those people asking what you ate. You nailed it with talking about eating consciously and with awareness. I appreciate your candor. Love to read your blog every day.. you inspire me.

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  50. Thank you for sharing. I think I was one of those people asking what you ate. You nailed it with talking about eating consciously and with awareness. I appreciate your candor. Love to read your blog every day.. you inspire me.

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  51. Never written about this before, but get asked all the time. My story is similar to yours and I agree 100% with your thoughts on eatting and being active. With each of my 3 kids I "kept" 10 lbs. each and added an extra 10 for "fun". When I turned 39 I felt aweful...no one ever thought I looked heavy, but I felt it. I was not active & knew what was going in my mouth HAD to change!! My lifestyle change was a light switch for me...changed my eatting habits, started working with a personal trainer and ran my first 5k! In 4 months I lost 37 lbs & ran my first 1/2 marathon for my 40th bday. I've kept off the weight for 4 years & am running my 3rd marathon this fall with hopes of a BQ after missing it by 26 seconds last spring. People say "how do you do it" or "I could never do what you do"...how can I NOT??? This is normal life to me...feels great!!

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  52. From a naturally bigger person *but the product of a naturally thin Mom and an obese Dad* I LOVE this post. I think that everyone has to do what is right for them and put good fuels in our bodies for what we want out of them.

    Thanks for sharing this... make it a great day!

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  53. My relationship with food is very disfunctional overall. I over-analyze every calorie that I eat. I was a chubby child, and always remember my mom asking the department store lady "where are the clothes for *chunky* girls?". I've always been self-conscious about my weight, and have a very very bad habit with connecting my self worth to my weight on the scale. In the past several months, I have become more aware of that and have tried to reverse that. Although not completely healed, I am better about food. We eat a mostly clean diet, and I have found that diet of whole grains/complex carbs and lean protein sources to be most helpful in helping me maintain my current weight. We still indulge occasionally, be it Chinese, Mexican, brownies, ice cream, etc, but we are mostly clean eaters these days.

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  54. I am 39, 5'8", 160 lbs and a pretty solid size 8. Wife and mother of 2. A recreational runner. 10 miles a week is OK with me but I try to get more.

    Being a woman of color, maybe it's a cultural thing but I honestly believe all women look better with flesh on their bones. Not Oprah big, but Michelle Obama or Serena Williams solid. I'm not as big as any of those women but I think they look GREAT!!!

    I think of food as fuel and when I overdo it, at my age, my body responds immediately. Ack! I like real food, whether it's dinner or dessert (although I use Splenda in my green tea everyday). There is nothing I won't or at least try. I don't count calories. I just eat enough to fuel me til my next meal or workout. I try to eat 5 times a day.
    I know I could be thinner but I *LOVE* my body. More importantly, so does my husband. It's sexy in clothes, beautiful naked and it's healthy enough to carry me 13.1 miles when it needs to.
    I'm not obsessive about running although my husband would disagree. My main goal is to still be doing it when I'm 75 and I can't do that if I'm putting myself through bone-crushing training sessions.
    I've never been injured by or around running and I don't do it to lost weight. I run because my body needs it and because people like you encourage me to laugh through the down times.
    Running is way more faithful to me than I am to it. It burns off the chocolate chip cookies I like to eat, it clears my mind and it's where GOD likes to speak to me. Love it. Love food. Love you.
    Thanks for posting.

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  55. Naturally curvy and now muscular is naturally me. I have strong legs and a solid frame. I wouldn't look like me with less of it but I have struggled with body image my whole life. I am a happy healthy weight. I love being in shape and if that makes me lose a few pounds I needed to. Food and me. Never got along well but trying.

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  56. as everyone else has said, rocking post! love it! i'm here also from skinnyrunner and seriously want to clap at you for just saying it like it is: being thin feels freaking good!
    i'm thin and don't enjoy hearing crap about it. that whole double standard that exists, it's taboo to tell an obese person the truth but people feel it's okay to tell me to go eat a twinkie. i run a lot but you know what i eat a lot too! i know i could outeat most people. like you, those whole calorie calculators always tell me i'm eating 'too much' but everyone is different i guess.
    i'm going to also say, like another commenter, i admit i don't or haven't had my issues with food but now i think you put it best in addressing: yes, I consciously think about everything i put into my mouth, BUT i believe in the work hard play hard philosophy.
    so, this post is fan f'ing tastic and you've got yet another follower! :)

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  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  58. Beth, here's the link to my blog where there is a post about you...I quoted you (with your permission, of course) and may have stolen a few pictures. Since I only have 7 followers, including myself, I'm not sure many will be reading it! But anyway, here it is and thanks for letting me mooch:

    www.sanityandsweettea.blogspot.com

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  59. sounds about right. I excersize on average, 2 hours a day (some days zero, some days 2.5 hours, etc) and eat between 2500-3000 calories per day. I'm totally stoked with my body -- athletic, on the thinner side. Not as thin as you, but you look a bit bony IMO. But if you feel great, then rock out

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  60. LOVE the post - I am a personal trainer and often people think we "came out of the womb" looking like we do ! But you hit the nail on the head when you used the word Discipline ! That is the key to maintaining and being happy with your body and nutrition goals !
    =)

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  61. I just have to say I love your blog! I look forward to reading it every day! My friend and I do have "one of those" weight loss blogs, but every person's experience with food is different and I love seeing how you've trasformed your lifestyle. I'm working towards that same goal! Thanks for sharaing! ~Crystal

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  62. I am so wishy washy about reading and commenting on blogs... I scrolled through and found this post... I am so glad I read it. Great post, and I truly think you are amazing and inspiring.

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