Reader Question: What I lift, What I eat

Reader Liz emailed and asked,

How do you keep your arms so toned? Do you lift weights as well as run?

I remember reading that you love salad, do you eat a salad every day? I’m just trying to decide what foods I need to eat; I just started training for another half marathon and I’m finding myself to be super hungry ALL the time.

Thanks for the email, Liz.  When I’m home and in my regular routine, I try to take at least one barre class a week.  I dig Xtend Barre and my friend Bri’s classes, although I haven’t taken one since I’ve been back.  need to get back into it…

We use really, really light weights (I use 2 pounders) but do exercise after exercise without any breaks to fatigue the muscles.  It’s definitely high reps (pulsing) and low weights, and I’m always surprised at how sore I am afterwards.  Xtend barre is all about keeping your muscles contracted and tight throughout all the movements so it’s a great core workout as well.

Here’s a one minute collage of different Xtend exercises.  Some of them look wimpy, but you do them the correct way and bam, they’re killer.

I also try to take one BodyPump-type class a week at my gym, but I’m much worse at that and tend to skip out a lot of times.  Even though there’s a lot of reps (a squat track can be 4-5 minutes!), you use heavier weights so it seems like a good balance to the barre classes.  Now if only I could actually get myself there.


As far as eating, when at home I do eat a salad almost everyday for lunch.  A big salad with a ton of salty toppings is one of my favorite meals and having it daily at the same time is a no-brainer way for me to get in servings of vegetables without even thinking.

I’m a volume eater so I prefer to eat larger portions of nutrition foods rather than a smaller portion of something else.  My family knows that when I’m home, they better bust out the large salad bowl trough.  So I’ll usually choose a salad with a grilled chicken breast rather than the burger and share the fries with my husband.  Because a life without fries would be a life not worth living.

Running is a big calorie burner so when you increase your distance, your hunger will increase as well to compensate… long distance running isn’t always the weight loss tool that some think.

I don’t deprive myself or cut out any foods, but I do try to choose the more nutritious option whenever available – that whole liking to eat lots and lots thing.  It’s all about balance and moderation: easy to say, hard to do.  There’s no point in starving all day but you want to fuel yourself in the best way too.

For me, I can skip out on cheese.  Sure, it’s good and tasty and all, but it doesn’t butter my biscuit; same thing for pasta.  Fries? Oh no, I put a hurt on those all the time every time.  Any gummy candy, same deal.  It’s all about deciding what you’re going to spend your extra calories on.

Lastly, don’t deprive yourself: fuel your body with mostly nutritious foods and some “fun” foods, refuel within 30 minutes of a run with carbs and proteins to rebuild your muscles, and hydrate so you don’t mistake your thirst for hunger.

Readers, do you have any tips for someone having outrageous runger?  What would you recommend to a first time half/full marathon runner looking for eating tips?

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22 thoughts on “Reader Question: What I lift, What I eat”

  1. I would suggest making sure you eat plenty of healthy fats! I notice I don’t feel satiated or full when I don’t get in enough fats. Avocado, nuts, olive oils, nut butter, salmon – it’s all the good stuff anyways! 😉

  2. I thought I was going to lose all this weight when marathon training. Wrong! I pretty much do the same things as you, make sensible choices most of the time and have treats in moderation. I don’t drink my extra calories (beer, etc…), instead eat chocolate almost every day. And steal my kids fries. Refueling with protein and carbs is a must-do, and I’m surprised at how many runners I know that don’t even know about that “rule”!

  3. I am also a volume eater. When I eat, I like to eat A LOT, which means I fill my half my plate with salad/veggies along with a smaller portion of a more calorie dense food, like half a grilled cheese or something.

    I am hungry all the time, but I find that I am hungriest in the morning, since that’s when I train. I eat breakfast twice, first bfast before working out, and second bfast after. My morning meals are carb and protein heavy (toast, pancakes, granola, yogurt, fruit, eggs), and my lunch and dinner are heavier on the veggies, with some lean protein. I don’t usually snack between meals, but if I get hungry, I’ll grab a handful of nuts or some fruit.

    The key to eating healthy is to stick with whole foods that are nutritious and calorie dense. Try avoiding highly processed protein powders, bars, etc. You’ll save money, as well as satiating your hunger by getting all your nutrient needs through whole foods.

  4. I have a fail-safe when running 60-70 mile weeks in training, I add 3 sunwarrior protein shakes a day, in between meals, to keep me from even getting to that “hangry” point from increased activity. The liquid and protein and sweetness from the fruit I use satisfy my insane sweet tooth without a brown rice donut/candy freakout, like a boss (I use coconut/coconut oil and frozen pineapple to make a pina colada type one with vanilla warrior blend sunwarrior, and I’ll use cherries and some peanut flour like PB2 mixed with coconut oil and some vanilla butter and nut extract to make a peanut butter chocolate smoothie with chocolate warrior blend sunwarrior. ALWAYS buy warrior blend version, it is 10,000,000% less chalky than straight sunwarrior brown rice protein powder, and the vanilla tastes like cotton candy).

    The rest of the time, I eat peanut flour carrot cake protein “bread” for breakfast (I have celiac disease so no grains of any kind for me), a ginormous salad with coconut oil based dressing and a bazillion vegetables for lunch with sprouted raw lentils for protein and fiber, and dinner is usually mung bean pasta (200 calories, 20g protein, and 12g fiber, tastes awesome and is gluten free) with pomi tomatoes, roasted balsamic vegetables, and another salad. Being a vegan celiac runner creates some food issues, but luckily for me (maybe?) I am forced to eat pretty clean/raw or my system bloats/swells and shuts down.

  5. I eat similar to you, and I am definitely a volume eater too!! The bigger the salad bowl, the better 🙂

  6. With my runger, it helps to drink another 8-12 ounces of water every time I feel the need to have another snack. Don’t get me wrong, I still have that extra snack, but I find if I drink enough water after the long run, the insatiable hunger goes away before I’ve eaten 4x what I burned.
    I’m a frequent grazer. 2 breakfasts every day, snack, lunch, 2 snacks, dinner, 2 more snacks (with the last right before bed so I don’t wake up in Hulk mode at 3am). With food/nutrition, what works for one might not be the best for another.

  7. Thank you for this! I like your perspective, and maybe it will help me realize that food is for fuel, not (just) entertainment, comfort, etc. 🙂 I definitely need to reprogram my thinking on food.

  8. Mmmm CANDY! Hey, we all have runger and sugar cravings from time to time. My advice to those new to longer distances would be to pack their fridge with fruits & veggies. Fruit is the ultimate fast-food and you’re much more likely to eat your veggies if you have them available. Eating high-nutrient foods with a decent dose of meat-free protein (lentils, tofu, nuts, etc) almost always takes care of constant hunger for me. I would not, however, recommend beans the night before a long run, hot date, or long run that is a hot date. Yikes.

    Almonds are also a great snack to have in the bag in case a raging hunger attack strikes while you’re out. And from time to time, especially the day of a long run… heck yes to french fries.

  9. I’m a big gummie and fry eater too. Ugh, almost self-loathingly so.

    And smoothies…packed with spinach. Makes me feel like I’m putting good stuff into my body, especially when it comes out a terrifying (awesome?) green color. YUM.

  10. I LOVE a PB&J after a long run. Grape Jelly, lots of peanut butter. And Chocolate Milk (carnation instant breakfast).

  11. I am a total volume eater as well…huge salads and huge meals centered around my vegetables makes me happy…I was just telling my good friend how ravenous I have been lately and it is totally connected to an increase in my weekly mileage. I told her that as frustrating as it is to always feel starving, it is so important to keep eating and listening to your body, especially if you want to be able to run the distance. If you don’t listen, you can’t run/workout effectively. I try to just go with it and eat when I am hungry, even if that means a full out lunch at 10:45 am. I find it all balances out if you go by your hunger and not the clock.

  12. I’m a volume eater, too, but I find it so important to have at least a little bit of fat and protein with each meal. I can eat a HUGE salad of just veggies and be hungry within 30 minutes, but if I add some nuts, chicken, tofu, beans, olive oil, or whatever else, it keeps me full for so much longer. Also, as cliched as it is … WATER! And I love your mentality of eat lots of healthy things and then really enjoy the slurges. I can pass up bread or pasta any day, but never chocolate 🙂 . Last thing – your version of fries is exactly mine … LOAD on the ketchup. If you’re going to indulge, might as well make it amazing!

  13. I totally agree that it’s all kind of what you spend your calories on! Since I’m a vegetarian, I’m not tempted by fast food and all that but I loooove frozen yogurt 😉

  14. YUMMM Candy! It is my weakness! It didn’t used to be but my lovely husband is the one and only Candy Man and cannot stay away and after enough times of sitting there staring at him eat it you start craving it too! lol I run for candy! haha but I do the same things I just try to pick the healthier items on the menu.

  15. I thought I was going to look amazing in a bikini after running my marathon. Well, turns out my legs looks a-mazing but everything else not so much. I have incorporated weights into my workout every other day. I switch everything up to “trick” my muscles. I don’t use machines just dumbbells and ol’ body weight. I have increased my protein intake as well. As far as being hungry I had that same problem when I started running distance. Things like organic oats, with chia seeds and some vanilla are very feeling. I also like making whole wheat pasta with some sauce and broccoli. I finish every meal with a salad so I don’t graze later.

  16. Just a questions about your barre classes. My podiatrist said that my overdeveloped calf muscles (naturally large I guess cause I dont purposely work them out!) were the reason for my muscle strains when running. He said a runner needs to have lean calves and muscular thighs in order to avoid strains when running long distance.

    Do you find your running endurance or leg strain has changed since you began working out your calves in barre class? I would think it would make my calves worse because it would cause the muscles to tighten, rather than stay loose and lean

    • Hi Casey,
      Barre classes will help you stregthen, tone, and lean out all muscles in the legs. Most of my students noticed the biggest change in their butts, stronger and more lifted. I don’t think it would negatively impact your calves, but I think it would help balance your muscle strength so you won’t use your calves as much. Find a barre class near you or download the Xtend Barre DVD on Amazon for only $9.99.

  17. When I started training for the marathon I ran in June (Seattle RnR), my biggest concern was not to gain weight. I had a baby in 2012 and was still trying to lose that stubborn baby weight. I hate counting calories, but knew that I needed to so that I wouldn’t overeat. I focused on eating good protein to keep me satisfied and delay hunger. I only counted calories (using myfitnesspal) for 1 month until I had a good grasp on how many calories I needed to consume to keep up with my level of exercise. Now I know how much I should be eating and I really try to listen to hunger cues and eat things that will keep me full for a while (nuts, cheese, hardboiled eggs, avocados, etc.).

  18. Def. Protein and in the form of shakes/smoothies.

    It’s the best way I’ve found to eat “snacks” and stay full without heading for chips, cookie dough, melted cheese, french fries, and pizza.

    I get so full after chugging down a shake that I’m good until meal time and with smoothies you can add in all types of veggies and healthy things!

  19. Beans. Beans are the ultimate food. Give me a cup of black beans and a cup of brown rice and it’s the ultimate filling food for me. It’s a complete protein when you combine the beans with a whole grain– so filling and so good for you. I like to toss on a little bit of avocado, some fresh tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers, and bam! you have dinner. or lunch. or breakfast. mmmm.

    Also, I’ve finally accepted that running has made me heavier. I was skinny before, with little muscle. I’m still well within healthy weight for my height. Even though I weigh about 10 lbs more than I did before I started marathoning, I’ve accepted that I’ve got waaay more muscle than I did before, and even if I’m heavier, I’m much healthier. I just stay off of the scale. 🙂

  20. Great comments – I like the term ‘runger.’ I’ve never heard this, but it sounds like a mashup of run and hunger. For those having hunger issues, I’d recommend more protein consumption. In fact, after a workout at the gym, notably strength training, aim for 10-20 grams of protein for muscle repair from weight lifting. Longer mileage means more calories, so this leads you one of two directions. If you are looking to lose weight while training for a half/full marathon, it comes down to calories – less per day adds up to dropped pounds per week. But I’ll also say that many runners tend to ignore the scale during a full marathon training regiment as you do need many more carbohydrates to fuel those long runs.

  21. This is a great, helpful post. I also found that when I started training for half-marathons my hunger increased dramatically. For me, I like to add in some fats like avocado to my salads. A big avocado, spinach and grilled chicken salad is a very filling lunch. I will also add an extra snack in when I am training, like yogurt. I’d have it plain or mix in a small portion of my favorite dried cereal for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.

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