A House Divided

I’m so happy to be able to say that last night we went for a run and not only was the humidity at a lower level than it’s been for a couple weeks, but there was a steady breeze that made our run feel more like resistance training. It was so nice to be able to run without feeling like I was going to suffocate from the thick, muggy air. Last night we ran farther than any other day and we have finally surpassed 5 km. It was still a hard run and it was still quite hot, but it felt good.

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photo courtesy of pixabay

As we walked home we started discussing what to eat for dinner the rest of this week, and we couldn’t agree. There’s been a “long-standing” argument of sorts (does 2 months count as long?) brewing in our house since we started watching our diet. My hubby and I disagree on the right way to approach food. He thinks that building muscle is more important than losing weight in the short term, because we will be able to burn more calories in the long-term. Therefore, he thinks eating a diet higher in protein and not limiting carbs is the way to go. Essentially, he says if it’s protein there should be no limit.

I, on the other hand, can’t agree. I think that we should follow a low-calorie diet and not eliminate carbs, but limit them. Our goal should be losing weight, because it will make running and exercise in general a lot easier, and I’m not convinced that we are going to build that much more muscle by eating more protein. So he advocates eating spaghetti and meatballs while I think salad with some grilled chicken would be more appropriate.

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photo courtesy of pixabay; this is my husband’s fantasy

We also disagree a bit on how to approach running. He thinks we should run longer, which is part of the reason we’ve changed our goal from running 5 km to 10 km. I think that it is better to run more frequently rather than longer. Under my husband’s approach, we could only ever run 3 or 4 times a week at most since I’m betting we’ll need a rest day between long runs, but I think it would be better to run less time, but more often.

It’s hard to know what to do. This week on our way to the park we walked past the cafe we used to sit at for hours on end, and we ran into our regular waiter. We haven’t been there in months having made the conscious decision to cut out unnecessary sugar and calories. The waiter was awe-struck when he saw us. “Your faces changed, your stomach shrank, what did you do?” he said. It was really funny, and obviously we’re doing something right. We eat breakfast and dinner together, but for lunch we are apart. He eats protein-heavy and I eat calorie-reduced. We’re still both losing weight.

What’s your approach to food and running when you want to lose weight?

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9 thoughts on “A House Divided

  1. I’m just starting out but I think I will be taking the chicken and salad approach.

    Must have been such a buzz for the waiter recognise your progress. Go you 🙂

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  2. I somewhat agree more with you in terms of diet but the biggest thing is to just eat controlled. I disagree with your husband that you should eat as much protein because you both need to put yourselves into a caloric deficit..
    However, I whole heartedly disagree with you about opting for more frequent rums. Running farther and longer is much more important because of how your body taps and uses energy stores. When your start running, your body is going to tap your glycogen stores in your muscles, and only after 30 min or so is when your body begins to to use fat as a energy. When your body makes the switch you’ll feel things get harder because the process for producing atp from fat is a longer chemical process. Just plug through it. Also, there’s a concept of muscle recruitment. Your brain is only going to tell certain muscles to fire to make you move. Only when you tax your muscle will it recruit more muscles in the process. There’s other things like increased capillarization that come into play, but none of those really happen unless you run long. Run/walk for an hour instead of 2 30-min workouts. This is coming from a guy who was borderline obese to a sub4 marathoner.. Just my $0.02 good luck and keep up the great work.

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    1. Thanks for the insight. It’s really useful. Regarding food, do you think our protein consumption makes any difference? Or is my husband exaggerating its effects? And with running, let’s say we choose to run longer and try work up to a 1-hour run 3 or 4 times a week, do you think that we would increase our chances for injury since we are a) beginners and b) overweight. Both of us already get hip pain after a run and we are doing 3 intervals of 12 mins running / 3 mins walking and increasing the running time every week (with 1 hour being the goal).

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      1. I don’t think your protein consumption makes that much of a difference. I think at this point, you guys are recruiting muscles not building them. The muscles are already there, dormant and just waiting to be used. Now, I won’t say outright that you shouldn’t eat protein because that’s what’s going to sustain you throughout the day, but getting carbs in your body to replete your glycogen is going to be important. you’re actually in a very weird state right now. You need to run better (ie farther, faster, longer) to be able to reap the weight-loss benefits of running but in order to do so, you need energy to get to that point. It’s kind of a catch-22. Protein is not going to save you from injury. Your injuries, if they happen, are going to be structural in nature. With that said, I would suggest starting to pick a gait (running style) that works for you now. Some suggestions: don’t swing your arms in front of you and should never cross your mid-plane (because doing so forces your hips to twist – not good), learn to mid-foot strike, and start thinking about ground contact time – as in lessen it. The more “nibble” you are (i.e. 170-180 steps per minute), the more you will be able to utilize the stored energy in your tendons, etc (there’s about 30% energy that you can gain from the springing action from your achilles/calves)..and also, you don’t need to stretch before runs. do it after. you actually want your muscles a little tight when you run (back to that springy thing I was talking about).
        Back to diet though, the biggest thing for you guys is to adopt a healthier lifestyle. If you can go 100% cold turkey, then do it, more power to you, but I find that hard. Me, i like to eat, so i do eat whatever i want – but it’s more in a controlled manner. When i train for marathons, i actually end up eating less (wierd i know) but that’s only subjective and probably points to the fact that I simply am eating more than I really should be. I think you guys have enough going on and a lot of changes ahead of you with running. Don’t get me wrong, diet is very important – quite simply, just don’t overeat and make those calories count.
        When i started running, I couldn’t run 1/4 mile without being out of breath. You guys are past that but you should get into some HR training. Find out what’s 80% of your max heart rate, get a heart rate monitor and run with effort that gets your around 70-80% of your max heart rate. Do that, and you’re in fat-burning zone, and do that for a long time, and you’ll be burning a lot of fat. Like I said, run/walk for 1+ hours. If you’re doing that 3-4 times a week, even better. Get up to 5-6 times, and you’re golden.
        Hope that’s helpful. If you want to be good at running, I suggest picking up a book called The Lore of Running. It is the bible, in my opinion about running, and you will learn much more about running than you ever thought about. For me, weight loss was secondary. i wanted to run because it was fun and challenging. You may find yourself in that zone, as well, and the weight loss will just come naturally.
        Good luck, jgo

        p.s. I’m reading your blog so keep it up. I want to see progress.

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      2. Sorry, I should’ve answered your question first – I think you will increase your chances for injury. Just math. You can minimize it with the things I wrote in my previous post about gait and running form. But I think things will get harder before it gets easier. Just a reality check – no sugar coating. The good news is, you two are doing great in terms of stick through your training. I would suggest that let running be running and not just avenue for weight loss. When you start treating it like a tool (for weight loss), you may decide later that it’s not the right tool and ditch it. Just enjoy and have fun! Here’s a goal, do a 5K in under 30 minutes?

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  3. I will definitely get a copy of the Lore of Running and check it out, and I agree with what you said. Our goal these days is to be able to do an hour of running without having to walk and then work on speed. I will talk to my husband about your advice and do a little research about what you suggested. I mean, my only reservation is not stretching before running. It goes against everything I ever learned, but I can try it. I really appreciate the information you provided and I may bother you some time with questions in the future.

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  4. Bother away, I’d be glad to help. If you do stretch, only do active stretches (i.e. your muscles are actively engaged while being stretched). Definitely think about the stretching thing, there might be some research on it and how it introduces micro tears in your muscles, but my advice mostly stems from having run with other people who suggested it to me (people being runners that have BQ’ed, elite and sub elite runners). In the 6+ years that I’ve been running and not stretching, I haven’t had any problems related to it.

    Here’s a link to the book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Lore-Running-Edition-Timothy-Noakes/dp/0873229592

    Also, do know that everything I tell you, you should take with a grain of salt. Every runner is different 🙂

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