Your body is your MOST IMPORTANT TEAMMATE. Seriously. Think about it. You, your legs, your mind, your core, your booty, your back... it's ALL GOTTA WORK TOGETHER to help you run strong.
Which is why... dieting for runners DOES NOT work. If you're dieting as a runner, you are sending your body a VERY confusing message.
Dieting is based on the idea that you cannot trust your body's cravings, hunger cues or fullness cues. It is based on the belief that you need to reference a diet or an outside set of rules to know how to feed YOUR unique body. Think of a time you drank seltzer or chewed gum instead of honoring your hunger -that broke your body's trust with you.. and if your body is your teammate, then you know how important TRUST & communication are.
What about running is so special for us?
Running is so special because it helps us feel like a team or at one with our body. When you are a runner your most valuable teammate is your physical body! So when we go on a diet and start listening to these extraneous rules about dieting, we are not connecting with our body. We are taking our bodies feelings and concerns out of the equation because your brain has decided, "I'm going on a diet. I'm going to lose weight" and your body is not being considered.
One of the most important things you can do as a runner is make sure that you two are on the same team. When you feel fatigued and tired you need to know how to talk to your body, work with your body, pace your body, get comfortable in your body so that you can continue to run strong. We do not want to be disassociating from our bodies. Dieting disassociates you from your body.
So what happens when women join my coaching program Food Freedom Fit Fam? Let me tell you about someone who has been in my program. This woman had been dieting her entire life, obsessing over trying to shrink her body. It really had stopped her from achieving her big goals. She stopped dieting and what happened? She started to understand how to work with her body. And all of the sudden all of her sugar cravings, her urges to eat any food that does not make her feel good in her body has disappeared! She just ran her marathon, she is feeling good, she is no longer stressed and all that happened was that she stopped dieting! So we need to make sure we understand as runners and athletes, dieting is not serving us!
Dieting hinders recovery
Part of the reason we workout is to get stronger. We need to make sure that we are eating enough food to recover and to serve our body in recovery.
When you start eating more food, specifically when you understand sports nutrition, you can start fueling like an athlete. I had a client, let's call her J, she had been training with a coach and had plateaued in her performance. As soon as she started implementing sports nutrition guidelines, she was running faster and feeling more energized after her runs. All she was doing differently was that she was fueling her body like an athlete.
When we are dieting we are not giving our body enough nutrition to heal and to recover. When you are not healed and recovered you are going to feel tired. When you run you are creating micro-tears in your muscles (which is a healthy response to exercise) but then when you come home instead of resting and recovering and balancing your workouts with rest days and eating nourishing food. You say, "I'm allowed to have 300 calories and tomorrow I'm going to do another intense work out." Your body is not going to heal and recover.
Dieting sets us up for injury
You have a certain weight range that is ideal for your body to race. Your genetics are specific to just you, and we need to figure out what is your unique weight range for your body for you to have your best performance. NEWS FLASH - It is not the lightest weight you can achieve. When your weight is too low, you are not going to perform optimally. If you are in a state where your energy intake is low because you are trying to maintain a thin frame, your body is going to start to break down muscle because your body is trying to make sure you have enough energy to perform.
When our body doesn't have enough energy it shuts down the non critical systems. Like your reproductive hormones, and those hormones help you build muscle, they make you feel good in your skin. So if you are destroying your estrogen and progesterone levels to live in this really tiny body, you are setting yourself up for injury, you are going to feel terrible and your ability to build muscle is jeopardized and you are going to be breaking down more muscle. We cannot beat biology. No amount of willpower can beat biology. When you learn how to fuel correctly AND are sleeping enough AND are fueling the right way, your body finds your ideal weight range.