Interview: Dietitian on the Run
You might already follow this month’s interviewee on her blog, Dietitian on the Run, where she chronicles her workouts, meals, explorations, and adventures in Washington, DC. If not, we bet you will head straight over to her blog as soon as you read her awesome perspective on maintaining balance, eating veggies, and finding motivation.
Willow & Stephanie: You seem to consistently balance living an active (how many marathons have you run now?), healthful lifestyle, with fun and practicality. Do you ever start to lose steam?
Heather Calcote: Training for marathon #4 starts in August, and I couldn’t be happier that I took the spring season “off”! I do lose steam, and I’ve learned to recognize the “burn-out” signs early enough that I try to avoid reaching that point. When I start to realize that running doesn’t sound exciting, and a workout feels more like a burden than a fun thing I get to do that day, I turn it down a few notches. I take a week where I just walk in the mornings or evenings, to get some fresh air and a mind-break, and I do a few yoga classes. That week or two will leave me rested and ready to ramp up again!
The point is, I’ve learned how to listen to myself and find a balance. It also helps that I think my workouts are fun. Yoga class, to me, is a mix of dance, relaxation, and low-intensity strength training. Running is freeing, challenging, and both social (I love group runs!) and “me-time”. I’ll ride my road bike when I feel up to it, or hike when I need an outdoor “adventure”, and just go for a walk when I simply want to move my muscles but not tire them out.
W&S: What is the thing that motivates you most when you’re just not feeling like going for the run you have planned, or cooking a healthful meal?
HC: One thing I tell myself is that I’ll feel better afterward – and I always do. There are many mornings when that early alarm is not my friend, but as soon as I’m out of bed, I know that I’ll be glad to have gotten those miles in. I’ll be thankful that I chose to wake up outside, with fresh air, and give my muscles some action before sitting at work for the day! When I’m running, or at a class, I’m so happy to be breaking a sweat and feeling the rush of a good workout. The same goes for a morning yoga class, walk, hike, or bike ride. The endorphin rush has a strong pull, and I know I’m doing something healthy for myself.
Cooking hasn’t always been my forte, but I really enjoy it on most days. I do live in a city, so the eating out options are appealing and available! We eat out 1-2 days per week, mostly just to get out of the apartment, be social, or experience somewhere new. When I’m cooking at home, I like to get creative with what’s on hand and see how I can use different ingredients to make new meals. I enjoy the challenge here, too – using new foods, seasonings, recipes, etc. keeps it interesting!
W&S: When training for a race, whether a first 5K or a marathon, what basic tips can you give our members to make sure that they’re getting the right nutrition to fuel themselves, but not going overboard and eating too much?
HC: No matter what distance you’re training for, it is key to learn to listen to hunger and thirst cues! This becomes increasingly important as athletes tackle endurance training (for any sport). Rather than focusing that energy on counting the numbers to a T, focus on eating balanced meals (carbohydrates, lean protein, veggies and/or fruits!) with a variety of foods, and eating until you feel full. When you start to feel hungry again, eat appropriately – snack on nutrient-dense foods (fruits, veggies, nuts) and create meals that will fill you up.
Also, rehydrate all day long! Thirst cues are often mistaken for hunger; aim to take in enough water before, during and after working out. And remember that some foods contribute to fluid intake – fruits & vegetables, low-sodium soups, etc.
W&S: We challenged our readers this month to eat at least 2 cups of veggies each day. Do you ever struggle with getting in your daily veggie servings?
As a vegetarian/pescetarian, I can safely say that I rarely struggle with getting my vegetables in! I usually have some form of a salad topped with a protein such as beans, tempeh or lentils for lunch. My salads are rarely made up of the same veggies – variety is key to keep it interesting and get different nutrients. Dinner always has a veggie focus, too – stir-fry, roasted/steamed veggies, etc. Sometimes I will snack on carrot, cucumber and/or celery sticks with hummus as a snack, too.
W&S: What are some of your top tips for making sure that you get enough veggies each day?
HC: Try NEW vegetables, and try to make at least one meal per day focused around vegetables. This could be in the form of a salad, or it could be that you pick one vegetable you like and make it the “star” of the meal. Even better, pick a few new vegetables and challenge yourself to find a way that they work well together. I once roasted leeks, cauliflower and mini red potatoes – drizzled lightly with olive oil and seasoned with some garlic, cayenne and salt/pepper. I had never cooked leeks before, and just happened to have the other two veggies on hand. It turned out really well.
Two of my favorite versatile, veggie-packed meals: veggie pizza and stir-fry. Anything works with these meals and it’s easy to throw in your favorite grains and protein to bring it all together! Trying new-to-you foods makes it more fun, too. You learn things you like, and probably things that you don’t too. Either way, trying a new vegetable often means you’re trying a new recipe – variety in the diet is always a good thing.
W&S: All-time favorite meatless meal?
Black bean tacos! But veggie enchiladas come in a close second. I grew up in the Southwest, on New-Mexican food. At one point in time I could’ve survived off of chicken enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas. When I went meatless, I thought I would miss these dishes. Instead, I realized how easy it is to make meatless variations… and I don’t even notice! Between black bean tacos and black bean enchiladas, I’ve used mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, avocado, green chiles, onion, sweet or regular potatoes and spinach — they all work! Add shredded cheese and salsa, and my taste buds are 100% content.
Stacked Vegetable Enchiladas (Optional: add black beans!)
Ten Minute Tacos (Black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, and cheese)
W&S: What healthy mantra/s do you live by?
Do it NOW. Sweat once a day. Step outside of your comfort zone. Mind over muscles – trust yourself, your training and your abilities. Find the challenge, and tackle it.
One of my favorite quotes: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Being physically active and eating healthy are a part of my lifestyle. They’re important to me, but more importantly, I enjoy them because I choose to do things that I deem fun, and eat foods that taste good to me. It’s not always easy to make the “healthier” choices, but find the balance and do what works for you.
Thanks so much for your tips and insight, Heather!
If you haven’t already started the veggie and fruit challenge, hop on board here!