I see carbs…carbs EVERYWHERE!!!

One thing I hear too many women say is that they never eat carbs after a certain point in the evening hours. I’ve heard this so many times throughout my training years and it just seems to take on a life of it’s own. I know the mentality surrounding this idea is that if you eat carbs in the evening and you are less active than the rest of your day, the carbs will be immediately stored to fat since you didn’t burn them off with some crazy cardio or HIIT training. There is also the fact that insulin sensitivity is reduced at night, and this is also believed to be pushing those carbs to the fat storages.

The question I hear no is, “should I not eat carbs after a certain point each day?” Let’s review some of the popular ideas many of us have heard and what is the true story behind it all…

 

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Question: Do you burn calories when you’re sleeping? ¬†
Answer: Umnmmm…YES! Our bodies never stop burning calories, even when we are doing absolutely nothing – or sleeping. Sleep is actually the time that our bodies are busy repairing themselves and working harder than we realize. It’s important to get enough sleep to help us reach our goals and although we may be sleeping; our bodies are hard at work and def burn calories. ūüôā

Question: Is our insulin sensitivity lower at night? 
Answer: While it is true that our insulin sensitivity is lower at night than in the morning; it’s most likely because we have not been eating for an extended time. During the night, we are in a fast and this has been shown to enhance our insulin sensitivity but it doesn’t mean that we cannot eat carbs after the sun sets.

Question: If I eat carbs at night, will they be stored as fat? 
Answer: You basically store fat if you eat too much of anything, it doesn’t matter WHEN or WHERE you eat the food. There are plenty of lean and fit people who enjoy rice and other carbs in the evening hours and succeed with their goals of maintaining or even leaning out along the way. The¬†secret¬†is to not overeat in the evening hours; of anything for that matter. There is also some proof that supports people who eat carbs at night lose more body fat than others. I love enjoying some oats or whole grain cereal/granola with my evening Greek yogurt and it is not changing my results in any negative way. In fact, I have noticed that I’ve been steadily leaning out…and it’s the winter months too! ūüėČ ¬†That’s another important point I should share; it’s not about just eating ANY type of carbs. I choose only the complex carb choices and limit white flour and white sugar products altogether. (again, this is meant for any time of the day or night) I choose brown rice, quinoa, gluten free oats, sweet potatoes and legumes to look and feel my best.

Would you like to hear¬†why¬†you should keep eating your carbs? Let me share with you anyway ūüėČ

1. They help provide fiber into your diet 
Choosing a variety of healthy carbs will help to make sure that you get both soluble and insoluble fiber. The two types of fiber have a different effect on your health and best results.

2. They help provide energy 
Did you know that our body’s favorite source of fuel is glucose? You can see why runners “carb load” before a race to help best fuel the race. This is found mainly in carbs, but also can be made from some of the amino acids that make up protein. Carbs, ¬†however, are more easily broken down than fat and proteins. The body does use fat as a source of energy but protein is only used for energy when carb levels are really low.

3. They help to save your muscle 
By eating enough carbs, you actually ensure that you don’t waste your lean muscle. Pretty cool, right? When you don’t get enough carbs, your body does not only rely on fat stores, but also your muscle protein to get enough glucose for your energy needs. Not cool!

4. They help to boost your mood
Ever hear of a “low carb” and “high carb” energy day? These can create a major shift in our mood swings and how we relate with others. Carbs might help boost the levels of serotonin in our brain. Serotonin is a feel-good chemical, and a low level of carbohydrates is associated with lower levels of serotonin and has been shown to increase levels of depression, anxiety and anger.

5. They help you sleep….zzzzz¬†
This is one thing that I find super interesting. A sleep study actually showed that having carbs 4 hours before bed made people fall asleep faster. Wait, really?

So the moral of the story is that carbs are not bad or evil. You don’t have to cut them out at any time of the day; as long as you are getting in the right choices and amounts for your body and your goals. The important thing is to listen to your body. If you feel that by having carbs throughout the day, you are feeling good…then do it. Just don’t obsess over time and cutting it out completely or you might find yourself with less friends in your life. Avoiding carbs at night is not the secret to staying lean. It’s not true.

Will you share when you eat your carbs? I’d love to know what works for you!

 

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My First Marathon

It’s almost a whole month since my marathon! ¬†I actually cannot believe it came and went as fast as it has. ¬†It was one of the most challenging mental and time issues I’ve ever dealt with. ¬†A whole ‘nother challenge; including finding best nutrition habits and hydration; along with finding the time to run 2-3 hours most days of the week in order to fit in the long runs for the “big day”.

Cut to the “BIG DAY”….

I already shared our morning of the race and left off at the starting line…336142_364536386907790_1919357756_o

Grace started in the group just ahead of mine; as she is a faster runner. ¬†As they called out the starting time for her group; I said a small prayer for her and wished her well, aloud…although I knew there was no way she could hear me.

Then it was our turn.  As our group began to run; I felt an overwhelming rush of emotions fill my body.

I had trained to be here. ¬†I was an actual “runner” and was accomplishing my goal of taking on a full marathon. ¬†What a rush. ¬†I was in awe of this experience that laid out ahead of me.

I decided to enjoy the people around me, the beautiful scenery and weather; as well as my music I had prepared for my marathon run.

Mile 1 went by…mile 2…I was feeling strong. ¬†My plan was to take a Gu packet at every 4th mile and drink water or electrolytes at every water station; and/or every 2 miles. ¬†They say to follow your guidelines of fuel and hydration as you had on your training. ¬†I planned to do it right…this was not the time to play “hero” and take another route.

I found a good pace and kept up with a few runners around me.  My pace felt strong and I was keeping with the 4 hour pacers.  This was great!! At times, I would fall between the 4:10 and the 4:00; but that was completely fine with me.

Hearing the cheers of spectators and volunteers continued to help my energy push. ¬†They were here to watch US!! ¬†That felt amazing. ¬†I was honored that they would do this. ¬†There were spectators with signs for their family and friends who were running the race. ¬†I still felt like it was for all of us…as we were a “family”; running together in this large pack.

It wasn’t until the mark where the 1/2 marathon runners merged with us that I began to hit a mental “wall”. ¬†Although my pace was strong; my mind was in a negative state. ¬†What was happening? ¬†To the best of my understanding; (as I was busy running a marathon and not really interested in spending time and energy investigating what my “problem” was) I was thrown off with the fact that they had come in “late” and were already so much closer to the end than we were. ¬†It was an odd feeling and I don’t even understand why this fact bothered me, but it did.

I continued on anyway.  It became a bit congested on the roads.  People all running different speeds; with their groups of friends and keeping each other on track.

When I got the the 1/2 way point; we were heading down the boardwalk of the beach walkway.  It was a narrow, two laned sidewalk that became filled with runners going one way or the other way.  Who were these amazing runners anyway; already coming back towards the finish line?  It was quite impressive.

So, I kept running. ¬†I kept taking in my Gu every 4th mile and grabbing water and electrolytes to hydrate. ¬†Apparently, I had been drinking enough water as I actually had to stop and use the “port o potty” to pee. ¬†That was a new experience. ¬†I had never needed to use the restroom while I ran my long runs before so even though it slowed my time a bit; I was happy to not be dehydrated. ¬†(it’s the little things)

And I kept running. ¬†Where was this turnaround, anyway? ¬†I looked up ahead and saw the mile markers continue down the boardwalk. ¬†I couldn’t see the end of our side. ¬†I couldn’t see where they were looping around. ¬†I tried not to worry too much about this fact and just focus on the task at hand. ¬†Run, breathe, fuel, hydrate. ¬†Run, breathe, fuel, hydrate.

Now I knew we were back to only the marathoners running this part. ¬†The 1/2 marathoners were on the road alongside the boardwalk. ¬†Why was this fact even an issue? ¬†I was becoming more and more annoyed by them finishing sooner. ¬†It became a bit of a “game” as I would tell myself to STOP thinking the negativity and focus but my fatigued body and brain wanted to remind me again and again.

I continued anyway.  I ran strong and hard.  Then I passed Grace.  Wow, she was running at a good pace!! I called out to her and we smiled and waved.

Now, I was sure this turnaround was getting close.  I kept my tempo.  I kept with the beat of my music.  I breathed in the surroundings and the fact that I was accomplishing this goal.

We ran near the campsites and campers were sitting and watching us run by. ¬†One such campsite held a large table and a big sign that read “Beer and Bacon.” ¬†The campers were encouraging the runners to take some free beer or bacon for their run. ¬†Ummmmm…excuse me? ¬†Were they serious? ¬†As I laughed this off and continued to pass them by; one runner ahead of me, did a U-Turn and came back to take them up on their offer. ¬†Stranger things happen, I’m sure. ¬†At least it gave me a laugh.

I continued on. ¬†Seriously, this straight away was longer than I would have ever imagined!! Then, I saw it… I saw the U-Turn!! I saw another water table!! It was like an oasis in the desert…what a wonderful site. ¬†I could have cried. ¬†I actually might have…just a little!

As we turned, I noticed we were at mile 22. ¬†Only a little over 4 miles to go. ¬†Wow. ¬†It was almost here.535590_514182718624601_1805423726_n¬† I realized that Grace was most likely almost done; or done at this point. ¬†I wished I was too. ¬†I heard my phone ring while I ran. ¬†I ignored it. ¬†Who would be calling this morning? ¬†It was early and the only people I could imagine calling me would be those who knew I was running my marathon. ¬†It stopped ringing. ¬†I kept running. ¬†Then it rang again…seriously? ¬†I didn’t have the energy to even try to figure out who it was. ¬†It stopped again and I continued on.

The last few miles felt torturous. ¬†I almost felt like stopping. ¬†My legs were heavy. ¬†I was falling behind my goal time. ¬†I was running just ahead of the 4 1/2 mile mark. I wouldn’t let it pass me by. ¬†I kept pushing further. ¬†I focused more on my music…and the energy of the people around me. ¬†Again, we came up on some of the 1/2 marathoners but this time it didn’t upset me. ¬†I knew we were all at the end. ¬†I was ready to be done. ¬†Whenever I saw a camera person, I always gave my biggest smile and waved. ¬†It didn’t matter what point of the race I would see them; even at the most difficult stages; I would still take the time and energy to smile and wave.

It’s the little things.

I then saw the finish line. ¬†The crowds were building around us. ¬†They were cheering. ¬†Runners were encouraging others who were about to give up. ¬†One man who was obviously a faster runner; stopped to hold a woman’s hand from his running group…and take her in with him. ¬†This is what this race is about.

Sacrifice.  Challenge.  Tears.  Perseverance.

Just like life. ¬†You want to throw in the towel but you keep going. ¬†You want to give up because it’s too hard; or you’re too tired. ¬†But you keep going.

You put one foot in front of the other.  And you do it again and again.

When I was 2 tenths of a mile from the finish line, I did all that I could to speed up. ¬†I remembered how at the beginning of the race, there was the gentleman with the sign that read; “you’re almost there, just 26 miles to go”…

I knew I had to only run that 2 tenths that I had started off so strong with.

I ran my legs as hard as they could.  I pushed my body as much as possible as my lungs heaved with fatigue and gasped for breath.  I willed my mind to finish.  I had trained for this and I would not give up at this point.  I crossed the finish line just after 4:30 and that was okay with me.  I felt really proud and really tired.  My husband was there.  He whistled and called out to me.  I begged him to hurry to my side as my legs were quickly tightening and I needed to rest and hydrate.

I made it. ¬†I finished my goal and completed my challenge. ¬†It was a huge victory. ¬†When my husband finally caught up to me; I asked him, “Why do people do this?”….

And he grinned…