Eat less + burn more =weight loss. Eat more + burn less=weight gain. Simple equations that even my mathematically impaired brain has understood since grade school.
One would think that my amped up running /cardio blast routine would require me to increase calories to keep up with my more demanding energy output. After all my goal was to be fit and strong not to lose more weight. Right? However, at the age of forty about a year after I started running, my weight had dropped yet again ( another ten pounds to be exact) and although I didn’t acknowledge it at the time, it was teetering on an unhealthy weight for me, actually and unhealthy weight for anyone. I, however, was not concerned about the smaller number on the scale, in fact it gave me a rush to see that shrinking number. Having felt “big” for most of my life, being at a weight this low was something that always felt unattainable to me and although I was starting to get comments like “you are not planning on losing more weight, are you?” They were balanced with ”you look great/fit/strong,” compliments and those were the ones that stuck. What bothered me, was that I was starting to have less energy for my workouts, it became harder to push myself and when I did (and I always did), afterwards I felt more fatigued than energized and my legs were often stiff and sore. This was frustrating to me. I had just begun training for my first race, a half marathon my sister had signed me up for as birthday gift, and I was determined to kick ass, which at the time meant I wanted to finish it without having to stop and walk. I was bothered enough by the fatigue to see a sports nutritionist, I wanted someone to tweak what I felt was already a pretty fantastic diet, so I could run farther and faster. A marathon runner and accomplished athlete, this nutritionist had been featured on national news shows and in sports publications so I was confident she would get me on the right path. Ironically, she expressed no concern for my weight and she actually applauded my heathy fruit and veggie filled diet, she said I just needed bigger portions of macronutrients. What? I should eat more? She sent me on my way with a personalized meal plan, one I felt was very reasonable. On paper, anyway.
When I started on the prescribed plan, it just seemed like so much food. I even whipped out my measuring cups and scale to make sure I had the portions right (I had not used them in a while as I had a pretty limited and familiar rotation of meals). Oatmeal, bread AND pasta all in one day? Eating according to that plan made me feel gluttonous and over indulgent. If I eat like this every day I will GAIN weight. I had spent most of my life trying to keep my eating under control so I struggled to wrap my head around allowing myself permission to eat more food. I understood the necessity if I wanted to feel better and reach my fitness goals, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.