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The weighting game

November 19, 2009

(Excuse the terrible pun.) When I rediscovered running in February of this  year, I wanted to get fitter and be closer to my own self-image. Back then, we were staying with some friends who had a set of digital scales in their bathroom. Frustratingly, I can’t remember the actual figure, but it was somewhere over 165lb (as near as dammit to 12 stone, or 75kg, depending on your relationship with metric measurements). Now the tide has turned.

Gradually, I began to run further and faster, and I noticed the weight starting to drop. I had set myself the notional target of 145lb (just under 10 and a half stone, or 66kg), and eventually reached it. For a while the weight loss was fast, and as with any slimming programme, there were periods with little progress as my body adapted to its new exercise regime.

Alongside the running, I’d been eating more healthily. At breakfast I cut out the fruit juice (basically a glass of sugar), stopped eating jam, and moved to muesli. Lunch (which had formerly been a canteen greasy sandwich and a packet of crisps) was replaced with a mountain of salad with tofu, seeds, nuts and eggs. Dinner was a sensible main meal of pasta or potato, vegetables and veggie protein.

I hit my weight target a while ago, and my weight stabilized around this point. However, as I’ve been running more, adding distance, building strength and speed, my weight has continued to decrease very gradually. We went to visit the same friends with the digital scales about a month ago. This time around I weighed 139lb (just under 10 stone, or 63kg).

I’ve now added complex carbs into my diet, so while I’ve stuck with my breakfast format (although the bowls of cereal have got larger), I’m now eating a sandwich at lunch (with around 5 pieces of fruit to snack on through the day) and dinner is getting ever larger! There’s a fine balance between getting the energy I need to maintain my weight and ending up bloated, but ultimately I think I’m going to need to bulk the complex carbs as I get further into this training schedule.

Now, the kicker is that being a vegetarian gives you a real challenge when trying to eat healthily (especially so when you’re trying to eat more). It’s so easy to over-rely on dairy products loaded with saturated fat to get your protein – cheese is fatty, nuts and seeds are fatty (although the fat is unsaturated), eggs are full of cholesterol… Pulses and tofu will get you so far before you get bored.

Part of my  problem, I think, is that being vegetarian actually leads you to eat more processed food (i.e. foods stuffed with salt and water). Linda McCartney, Cauldron, Quorn, et al, provide you with your protein on the assumption that you’re missing meat – chicken-style pieces, beef-style mince, bacon-style rashers (facon, as I like to call it), pork-style sausages, even veggie pork pies!?! I’d love to eat some kind of square meal, every now and then, without tucking into fake meat or having a curiously brown and bitty plate that looks like it’s been taken from a cliche of seventies cuisine.

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