Saturday, February 2, 2013

Real butter, real cream, real cheese....

I'm a Wisconsin girl. 

Yes, I know I live in  Minnesota, but that doesn't dispute the fact that I was born and bred in good, old Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Land of the free, home of the bratwurst.

I love all things Wisconsin -- from its cities to its cows and all things in between.   I always tell people about our favorite state motto:  Come smell our Dairy Air ( get the joke on this, say the motto out loud, but slowly...... now get it?)

I grew up the child of a father with German and Polish heritage and a mother, with roots from Sweden and Ireland, so my love of potatos (and all foods considered to be hearty) is more than likely in embedded in my DNA. 

Well, maybe not potatoes, but certainly frozen custard -- a Milwaukee staple. 

The story goes that, on a warm summer evening before I could walk, my parents drove the Oldsmobile convertible to the local drivein to enjoy a refreshing cone of frozen custard deliciousness.   My dad thought it has high time that I had my first taste of the wondrous treat and pushed his cone towards my lips.

Apparently, I licked the cone, swallowed and then my eyes widened.  I grabbed on to the cone and held on for dear life, as I buried my face in to the custard, and literally COOED, and went to town on the custard.

This explains so, so much.

My love of food has never waned, but it has, at times, been a very complicated love affair (think Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger). 

I also have the unfortunate luck to not understand the concept of "rich" when it comes to food.  You know, the type of food that is typically high in calories (and goodness) that people taste, then push away the dish and say some to the effect of "Ooooohh...that is toooo rich for me'.

I say "I'll have it!" and could not only finish their portion (including the licking of the plate) and then ask for more. 

Left to my own devices, I could very well become one of those people you read about, where they have to cut a hole out of the side of the house to extract them to get them to the hospital.

Except for two very important things:  Vanity and Triathlon.

The biggest influence for me and my eating choices was running.  I started to run when I was in my late 30s and when I was training for my first 10k, the light bulb went on.  I finally made a connection between what goes in my mouth and the results that come out of my feet. 

I gave up all fast food that year, with the exception of Subway.  That was probably 12 years ago.  I've pretty much converted off of white bread and white rice, opting instead for whole wheat, pumpernickel (see, those German roots are never too far away), brown rice and quinoa.

I gave up all soda about the same time as I gave up McDonalds.    The only time I've had soda over the last couple of years was on the runs while doing Ironman Wisconsin.  Nothing like a few sips of real Coke to get you to the next water stop.

After spending a few summers riding my bike through the hills around Dane County training for the big race and mooing at the cows I'd pass, I finally decided that it was bad form to eat my friends, so I quit eating beef and pork about 15 months ago.

I did fall victim to the "fake" food fad for a little while and ate no fat, crappy substitutes for things like cheese, butter and cream.   No taste, no flavor, too many chemicals.   I now am a firm believer in the benefits (and flavor) of the real stuff, but don't go too crazy when I choose to eat them.

I'm a significantly healthier eater today than I was when I was a kid or young adult.   My pants size(es) fall in the "normal" range and haven't had to shop Lane Bryant for decades......

So you'd think I'd finally overcome this whole weight/food thing, right?

Well, not so much. 

Every summer, by the time I get to my "A" race for the season, I finally get to a "great" weight for me.  (Other athletes will know this as their "racing weight').   This comes perfectly timed after months of training hard and burning lots of calories.   I get to race day, get on the scale and am IN LOVE with that number.  I race and then forget about the scale for months.   But I don't forget about changing my "hey, I'm in training" eating patterns.  And, oh by the way, the season changes from summer to fall, then winter; days get shorter, meals get heartier, I get lazier. 

Why, then, am I always so surprised that, when I finally get brave enough to get back on the scale, the number reflected back to me isn't even close to that race weight number?

I'm a smart girl.  I understand the concept of portion control (notice I said CONCEPT, not daily practice).   I also understand that it is easier to right the ship when it is slightly off course (aka 5 pounds) than when it is when it is more off course (like double digits). 

But, every year, I seem to be here -- again -- looking at the beginning of training season with some extra lbs and an internally screaming fat-self that says "HEY -- don't you be thinking of taking my second helping away!!"

But away it must go, along with my "friend" sugar.  I've given up a lot of stuff, but the white stuff has always been my nemesis.  It is puzzling to me why....

I had a long conversation with my coach about this weight thing....he reminded me that race weight is one thing (and not a sustainable thing) and what I should really be striving for is my "every day" weight (which is not my "2nd day of February" weight. 

He understands that weight fluctuations are a part of every athletes life (right, Kent Hurbek?) but doing our best to not let the high number too high.  (He says a good number to track for is about 8% above your "best" weight).

When I look at it that way, I'm not too far out of the (weight) ball park.

But it is time to get back on the pony (or in my case, tri bke and trainer) because spring IS coming. 

And so is my first race!