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Follow This Eating Guide Based On Your Activity Levels

As she resets her nutrition for the New Year, Fat Girl Running shares what she has learned about portions sizes and her training schedule.

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We’re three weeks into 2017—how do you feel? Have you crushed all your goals? Have you already run all 50 states, benched 1,000,000 pounds, and read the 52 books you promised yourself you would read this year?

If you have, a big congrats to you! If you haven’t, FEAR NOT! Guess what? We’re only three weeks into the year. Keep your eyes on the prize (or prizes) and soldier on. The year is not over yet! That said, it’s worth looking at where we are in the goals we set for ourselves every few weeks to see where we stand.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my goal of resetting my nutrition after a busy year of racing and doing athletic events. After having read Real Fit Kitchen by nutritionist and marathoner Tara Mardigan (The Plate Coach) and holistic health coach and triathlete Kate Weiler (owner of Drink Maple), I decided that I would try to incorporate some of the sensible wisdom presented in the book in my own life.

It’s week three and it’s been pretty great. I feel better, less toxic (in all senses of the word!) and ready to enter the training vortex again. As an endurance athlete, I appreciated the book’s flexible and not exclusively weight-loss focused approach to fueling and nutrition. And after sharing my own personal running goals for the year with Tara, I felt empowered to try something new with my nutrition. I took her advice and checked out the various easy-to-read diagrams in the first half of the book (the second is full of yummy recipes!).

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One of the major features of the book is re-imagining your plate to reflect your level of activity on any given day. Your plates can look different every meal and every day. It also features a checklist that is easy to follow, non-confrontational, and non-judgmental. How’s that for nutritional advice?

So for example, on a recovery day, I’ll make a huge effort to incorporate the “Less Active” plate to my dinner (remember: I’m mastering ONE MEAL A DAY for now, cause that’s all I got). And on a day that I’m doing my long run, I’ll make sure to increase my quality carbohydrate intake so that I’m fueling or recovery-eating with my athletic performance in mind following the “Endurance” plate diagram. Similarly, if it’s a day like leg-day, I might do the “Strength and Endurance” plate for dinner, ensuring that I’ve had enough quality protein and carbs right after my morning workout to make this plate work at night for dinner.

This is so easy—and so me. I don’t do complicated and I don’t do anything that tells me I can’t eat butter, because you know, it’s butter. I don’t know about you, but it’s difficult for me to succeed on any nutrition/fueling plan that is extremely rigid (barring illness-related restrictive plans). Why? Because when you need flexibility and there is little room for it in your plan, you begin to feel guilty and ashamed when you can’t meet its high standards. And then what happens?

How about trying something that is simpler, that is more flexible an adaptable to the rhythms of your day, and that makes sense? Whether it’s a Powerful Plate or some other plan that is realistic, athlete-focused, and not hell-bent on breaking your spirit, make sure to eat the way you need to fuel your body and feed your spirit. We owe it to ourselves as the incredible athletes we all are!