Cake Isn’t Fuel

After I had both my kids, I did Weight Watchers. Throughout last summer, I played with being grain and gluten free. I’ve done South Beach (for a second) and I’ve gone meat-free (for about two seconds). I’ve read a bunch of books, I’ve started gung-ho into a new way of eating, only to end up shoving whatever the “bad” food was into my pie-hole.

In December of last year, when I first started training for my marathon, I decided to eat for fuel. I focused on food that would help me be a better runner. I had set myself an ambitious goal of speed and endurance, and I knew that night time binges of ice cream (and then guilt) wasn’t going to get me there.

Weight fell off me, literally. I mean, I’m not a large woman and didn’t have a lot of weight to lose, but about seven pounds fell off in a couple months. But more importantly, I felt really good. About myself, because my pants were looser, sure, but I felt more… awake.

I can tell you how sugar is so bad for you or how you should avoid fast food and processed food, but I don’t know that “showing” works. Often it just leaves a sense of guilt and failure in people because they do eat processed foods and fast food.

The biggest change I’ve noticed since changing the way I eat is the way I feel about food. I read somewhere that you can’t “earn” food. You can’t eat a huge brownie and then go for a run and consider it gone. Calorie-wise, sure the math works, but food fuels our body and if you put garbage in (or empty calories, as I prefer to look at them), then you don’t get optimal results. And I don’t just mean in your physical activity, I mean in life. Energy level wise.

Anyway, I’m not into converting people, so I’ll just tell my story that I had come here to tell and then be done with it.

On Sunday we had a blow-out party for the girls’ birthdays (May 26 and June 14, so we’ve always just had a combined party in our backyard). After everyone left and we scrubbed the kids and tossed them into bed an hour early (crazy energy + bouncy castle = exhausted), Steve and I loaded up bowls with pound cake, ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzled all over. I happily chowed down and then we watched a silly romantic comedy and my belly was bloated and I was satisfied. And then yesterday morning I was a holy terror. I woke up with a pounding headache and in a sour mood. I was actually kind of in a frump most of the day. I went for a 1k swim and tidied the house and then worked on some research I’m doing for a prof and I ate really well. Last night, I had a bowl of fresh berries topped with Cool Whip. This morning I woke in a good mood. Patient with the kids, I made Steve his lunch with one hand and fed the kids with the other. And didn’t snap at anyone.

It’s all the proof I need that what I eat affects how I feel. It affects my mood, my mental state, the way I talk to myself, my sex drive, you name it. That’s not to say that I never eat cake or chips or ice cream or a huge bag of popcorn at the movies or that I never have a Gin and Tonic on the porch, but it is to say that since I truly realized that these foods are empty calories with no real benefit or fuel, that have changed from something I can’t have (and all the intense desire and guilt that tags along with deprivation) to something I don’t usually want.

4 Comments on “Cake Isn’t Fuel

  1. That’s really interesting how your mood was affected so drastically. I’ve never thought of that connection but I should really pay a bit of attention there.

  2. I wish things like cake and brownies, etc were good fuel for our body because they are so tasty, dammit! however, they also make me feel like shit for more than one reason, so I completely agree with you. Great post. 🙂 Now we need to share some recipes. xo

  3. My daughter’s birthday is May 26 as well! And I agree with linds…share some recipes please!

  4. I never thought to share recipes! I’ll think of some of my faves… we’re not Foodies or anything, but it’ll easy stuff that you can make quickly. Thanks for the comments!

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