I went into the Runner’s Reset, hosted by Laura, expecting to pick up a few tips for fueling properly as a runner, as well as some new easy, healthy recipes. After 18 days of the 21-day program, it’s safe to say my expectations were met, but what I learned about food and nutrition for my body during the reset ended up surprising me. I was also thrilled to have lost nearly 5 pounds, without even really trying. I was definitely eating more mindfully and healthily, but I never felt deprived once.
The night before the Runner’s Reset began, Laura held a call-in chat to discuss what we were going to be covering in terms of nutrition, running and workouts during the program. I almost didn’t make it – I knew I’d be nursing Baby T at the time of the call, but I ended up dialing in with an earbud in and staying silent while I listened to Laura speak and answer questions from some of the other participants. I’m so pleased I was able to be a multi-tasking mama, because I took so many notes during that call and was immediately excited about the next three weeks.
Here are a few key points I took just from that first phone call:
- Protein at every meal (including snacks) is important for satiety.
- It’s okay to snack, but be structured about it – don’t graze all day long. Get your body used to going three hours without eating so it has a chance to use its fat stores.
- It’s a good idea to think about counting the good things, so make your focus getting 5 or more servings of veggies, and 2 – 3 servings of healthy fats, for example.
- Make your carbohydrates whole grains, rather than processed foods like pasta, or bread, as well as starchy veggies, beans, legumes and fruit.
Laura also suggested setting a specific nutrition goal for the reset, to benefit more from the program. She suggested various goals, like cutting out all added sugar, cutting back or eliminating dairy or wheat, not drinking alcohol, or increasing the amount of veggies you eat. We were also provided with a list of easy recipes (lots of which were for the crockpot – woo hoo!) as well as a sample meal plan. I used several of the recipes, but didn’t follow the meal plan – for me it was important to be able to take these recipes and incorporate them seamlessly into my life, rather than rely on a plan already mapped out in detail for me.
I had already cut out alcohol (we’re doing a dry January, which got seriously old by the 20th of the month, but I’m stubbornly sticking it out until the end), so that didn’t need to be a goal. I decided to try cutting out bread, pasta and refined carbohydrates (with the exception of Ezekiel sprouted grain English muffins). Basically, I had fallen into a rut with my eating where I would easily have 4 slices of bread a day – two pieces of toast in the morning and a sandwich at lunch – then throw together a whole wheat pasta in the evening with veggies and protein. It was still eating healthy, but I wanted to see how I felt if I reduced the amount of refined wheat products.
Here’s a look at what I was eating on the Runner’s Reset and what I learned:
Breakfast was the trickiest meal for me, partially because I couldn’t lean on my go-to of peanut butter toast, but also because while I love egg breakfasts, I cannot eat them before I run. Even if I eat breakfast at 7:30am and run at 3pm, I feel sick while running. I know so many runners who have the opposite experience and it just goes to show you that every person’s body, reaction to food and metabolism is completely different.
When I did have eggs, it was on a non-running day (my stomach handles them fine during any other form of exercise), or it was after a fasted run (more on those when I recap the running and training portion of the Runner’s Reset on Monday!). They were usually a veggie egg scramble, with peppers, mushrooms, spinach and avocado, as well as sunny-side up or hard-boiled with an avocado Ezekiel muffin. Late in the reset I added quinoa to my scramble and holy protein-packed goodness! The quinoa upped the protein, was more filling and gave the eggs more texture. SO good!
Also in rotation were smoothies, smoothie bowls and oatmeal. The protein came from greek yogurt, oats or powdered peanut butter. I added chia seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, warm almond butter and nuts as toppings. These were perfect pre-running breakfasts for me.
What I Learned:
Paying attention to protein at breakfast is a game changer. I would be hungry again within a couple of hours after my toast breakfast, but with these new choices, I could easily go 4 hours before eating without feeling hungry.
I admit I was way more of a grazer before trying this reset. I figured if I was snacking on healthy things, like apples, or veggies, then it didn’t really matter if I grazed all day long. Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to me that by doing so I was never giving my body a chance to really give me hunger signals, or know how to use stored energy efficiently.
I made sure I had snacks pre-made and ready to go. I made some date and almond energy balls that Laura gave us the recipe for, as well as these lemon energy bites from The Lean Green Bean, both of which I kept in the freezer as treats. Veggies were pre-cut and ready to dip into hummus in the fridge. I hard-boiled eggs in bulk. Some favorite snack choices were a cup of whole-milk plain yogurt with chia seeds, apple or banana with almond butter and a weekend treat of popcorn air-popped in a brown paper bag in the microwave, with spritzed-on olive oil and salt.
I stuck with the protein component for every snack as well. Why is this so important? Protein keeps you feeling full and I had already discovered from tracking a food journal on an app prior to starting the reset, that I was often falling a little short of my protein requirements for the day. One day I was meeting a friend out at a restaurant for lunch and had a salad – it didn’t occur to me that there was very little protein in it until late that evening, when I realized I’d felt hungry all afternoon and had reverted to mindless grazing to try to fill the hole. I bet if I’d had protein on that salad, I wouldn’t have experienced one of those “hungry” days – in fact, that was the only day I didn’t have a good source of protein in a meal and the only day I felt that way.
What I Learned:
Protein in your snacks as well as meals will keep your energy level steady and you’ll feel less hungry. Plan your snacks – know what and when you’re going to have as your snack and have it ready to go.
No, I didn’t skip lunch every day! Nearly every day I would have some form of leftovers from dinner as my lunch. I also pre-cooked big batches of rice, quinoa, ground turkey or beef and baked chicken breast, so I could easily throw together a bowl for lunch with some veggies, or fruit on the side.
I tried a bunch of new recipes during the reset. Laura gave us a crockpot vegan curry recipe which was out-of-this-world delicious. Even my nearly-4-year-old picky eater loved it! I also loved two stuffed pepper recipes she provided and a crockpot chicken chili. I also made my own quinoa ‘fried rice’ with some frozen veggies and an egg, as well as low-sodium soy sauce – yum! And this green avocado sauce from Oh She Glows has now become a staple in our house. We had it with quinoa pasta, on chicken, on baked sweet potatoes and in omelettes. (It’s also delicious with cholula drizzled over it.) A lot of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes were baked and loaded and I also made my favorite broccoli soup and this classic potato and leek soup.
What I Learned:
If you have pre-cooked grains ready to be heated in a dish, like quinoa, wheat berries, brown rice and barley, it’s easy to break a reliance on pasta as a go-to for dinner. I found that cooking with grains also allows you to be way more creative, as well. Cooking a big batch of a meal like a soup, chili or curry means you can have lunches for a couple of days, or you can freeze and have dinner ready to go the next time you don’t have anything planned. I also learned that roasted butternut squash is the most delicious side dish in the world. 🙂
DESSERT AND BEVERAGES
I didn’t even bother with dessert. (As you can guess by my lack of photos.) We weren’t really dessert eaters anyway, but I would be lying if I told you that chocolate every evening after the boys were asleep wasn’t a regular habit. I thought I’d really miss my Justin’s peanut butter cup, but it was much easier than I thought to just not have it. When I wanted something sweet, I’d sip a cup of Egyptian licorice Yogi tea. We even have chocolate, cookies and ice-cream in the house – I just never felt the need to indulge. I was happier with my popcorn as a treat, anyway.
I found myself naturally drinking a lot more water throughout the reset. I don’t know if I was thirsty because I had increased my protein intake, or maybe I was subconsciously more mindful of drinking water, but most of the time I found myself as thirsty as when I was first breastfeeding. Also, since I wasn’t drinking alcohol at all, I drank more water with dinner, since that’s when I’d normally have wine. A new discovery for me is hot lemon water – it is amazing. I drank it every day and when I mentioned it on Instagram, all the spice suggestions rolled in! My favorite combination ended up being with ginger, cinnamon, tumeric and cayenne pepper. I admit, I felt a little like I was doing one of those weird cleanses where you drink that cayenne honey drink, but you should try the spicy lemon water! It’s really good.
What I learned:
I have less of a sweet tooth than I would have thought. I think since I was eating such well-balanced, satisfying meals and snacks, any kind of a craving for a quick pick-me-up from chocolate or sweets was lessened.
Overall, I found I had more energy eating this way, as well as having more variety in my meals. Life’s too short to not have a PB&J sandwich every now and again, but it’s great to have so many more options when I’m deciding on what to eat, especially for breakfast and lunch.
Planning your weekly menu and doing a little prep for the week is key to being able to easily follow a healthy way of eating like I did on the Runner’s Reset. The prep is much easier than you may imagine – you write out your shopping list based one what you’re cooking for the week, do one grocery shop a week, then spend a little time cutting veggies, boiling grains and eggs and sauteeing meat. The prep was maybe twice a week for an hour each time, but I’d be covered for nearly all my meals – putting together a recipe is a lot quicker when everything is all ready to go.
I’d also suggest experimenting with how you eat, even if it’s a little outside of your comfort zone for eating and cooking. I thought trying different grains and legumes was going to be time-consuming and boring to eat, for example, but it was the opposite for me.
Have you ever tried a reset like this one?
Did you miss anything, or find out you liked something new?