Performance vs Aesthetics

This week we want to discuss how having different goals in the gym will look different in regards to nutrition. We decided that asking Sam a few questions on the topic would be good considering she is currently shifting her goals from aesthetics and body composition changes to performance as she is training for a marathon.

Margaret: What is your nutrition background? 

Sam: Up until a couple years ago I would consider myself a restrictive eater.  Food was basically the enemy and the less I could eat of it the better. I classified food as “good” and “bad” for a really long time and often equated eating “bad” food with being “bad” myself. I did not track calories, just more so tried to eat very little. I remember dieting as early as high school, doing stupid things like the “3 Day Military Diet.”  After the birth of my youngest, Levi, I really struggled to get to “pre-baby weight” and bounce back as quickly as I did with my first child, which started a whole series of yo-yo dieting. About a year ago, I started tracking calories which brought awareness to my calorie consumption and began a much healthier relationship with food. 

M: What is your nutrition like now? 

S: Currently, I’m practicing more intuitive eating. Noticing my fullness and hunger cues. Noticing cravings, what triggers them (like wanting a little chocolate after every meal). I’m learning how to not feel sorry for myself when I tell myself no or not right now. We made a new rule in our house that we don’t eat candy at home Monday-Thursday, because our 3 kids were asking for candy literally 15 times a day, and this has helped me to tell myself, no chocolate today and it’s totally okay! Also, I am very passionate about my kids making their own healthy food choices. When they pack their lunches, I have a 2 produce bins packed with washed, cut and ready for them to pack. They must pick 1 fruit and 1 veggie for their lunch every day. 

I mainly focus on eating my PROs at every meal (Protein and Produce!) I actually feel pretty gross if I don’t eat my veggies.

I don’t feel deprived and I can eat a donut or piece of pizza without feeling like I am “bad.” 

M: You’re a serious runner and currently training for a marathon; how do you feel that impacts your nutrition? 

S: If I eat like crap, I perform like crap! I am very intentional about consuming carbs, especially from fruits and veggies BUT I don’t shy away from a piece of bread or pasta. I focus a lot on hydration. I am also choosing to not consume any alcohol during my months of training. I would say I have to be most aware of my hunger cues after a run and decipher between actually being hungry or eating because “I earned it” from training hard. 

M: Is it hard mentally to switch from an aesthetics driven goal to a performance one in regards to nutrition? 

S: ABSOLUTELY!!! Generally people who are tracking their calories or “watching what they eat” are doing such to either a) maintain their weight or b) trying to lose weight. Now I’m more concerned about getting protein to maintain lean muscle and carbs to fuel my long runs. In October, we increased my protein intake while I was in a calorie deficit to lean out and lose some weight. During that time of fewer calories I noticed that lifting was a lot harder, that’s hard mentally. You’re excited to see your body changing but bummed because you don’t feel as strong. Now that I am eating more my lifts are feeling a lot stronger.  Going into my marathon training, Margaret said, “You’re training in a way you never have so you have to fuel your body like you never have.” This is mentally preparing me for the months to come where I’ll be eating approximately a million carbs a day, LOL. 

M: What’s your go to pre-run snack or meal? 

S: If it’s a meal, I eat oatmeal with a scoop of protein. If it’s closer to my run and I’m just having a snack I love some strawberry shredded wheat! 

M: How does your body feel if you’re not fueling it properly for the work it needs to do?

S: Absolutely terrible!  If I try to deprive myself of calories, in an effort to not gain weight, I don’t have the fuel needed to perform well in the gym, or sustain a long run. If I’m eating less nutritious foods, I feel heavy and sluggish. Before I consume anything, I ask myself if this is going to help or hurt my performance. Everything, has to be consumed mindfully and in moderation to ensure I can perform well in all activites.

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