Tag Archives: running

Black Girls Workout, Too! {Part 3 of 3} – What Do I Eat???

This is the last and final installment of the 3 Part Series “Black Girls Exercise, Too”. In Part 1, I discussed why I run and how I started my current workout routine. In Part 2, I discussed how to stay motivated and exercise tips. In this Part I am going to discuss what I eat. I try to pack my lunch and snacks every day to save money but more importantly so that I have healthy food options when I’m hungry.

My diet changes were gradual. I started by cutting down my caffeine intake. Last summer I was up to 3-4 cups per day. I was putting in long hours professionally so I thought I needed it, but caffeine is NOT a sleep substitute. Do NOT rely on caffeine to keep you awake. For starters, it prevents you from losing weight since sleep aids in weight loss. (Did you know that?) Studies show that our bodies automatically burn fat while we sleep, so the less you sleep the fewer calories your body is burning…but, I digress.

Below is a typical list of the meals and snacks I eat daily and some options/tips that have worked for me.

Breakfast – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich w/small Coffee (skim milk, sugar)                                                                                                                                         We all know breakfast is the most important part of the day. I start my day with a pbj sandwich and usually a small coffee (my ONLY coffee for the day). I don’t know about you but I love the caramel syrup Dunkin Donuts uses in their iced drinks so I would add it to my iced coffee in the summer and my hot coffee during the winter…um WHY did I think that was okay? I realized that the calories in that caramel syrup are empty calories and not good for me. (Read about empty calories here.) I stopped adding the syrup to my drinks and stick with sugar, preferably raw sugar. There aren’t many differences between regular white sugar and sugar in the raw, but you can check out this this article to read about the differences in the process to make both. Personally I prefer unbleached sugar (and food). Thanks.

Snack 1 – Greek Yogurt with Honey & Almonds                                      I like yogurt. It’s a quick easy snack, especially on the go but the sugar can add up so you have to be careful. When I heard about Greek yogurt I was sold. Not only is it also convenient, but each cup is packed with FOURTEEN grams of protein. My favorite brand is Fage because it comes with a little attachment of either fruit or honey. I buy the honey because even though sugar is not good for you honey is the lesser of two evils and I have a serious sweet tooth. If you love sweets, too, choosing honey or agave, which are both natural, is a much healthier alternative than regular sugar or syrup.

Lunch – Salad                                                                                                  I buy two bagged salads per week. I dump both bags into a huge bowl, add a sliced cucumber and tomato into the bowl. This makes packing lunch quick and easy during the week. Every day I fill a bowl with this mixture then I add low-fat croutons in the corner of the bowl (try to keep them restricted to one side so they don’t get too soggy during the day). Next I add protein; I usually add dry tuna (1 can is usually enough for 3 salads). If I have chicken left over from dinner the night before I’ll slice up a piece and add it cold. I bought a tiny Tupperware bowl on ebay for salad dressing so I take about 2 teaspoons of my favorite low-fat dressing with me. I also add a sliced egg sometimes. This is a BORING lunch and not the tastiest but it fills me up, it’s quick and it’s relatively healthy.

Snack 2 – Fresh Fruit                                                                               This summer I’ve been loving strawberries and cherries so I’ll usually wash a few, throw them in a bowl and take them with me for later. Sometimes I take bananas to work but you have to be really careful because they bruise easily during the commute. Of course apples come with me, too, sometimes.

Dinner – Protein, Starch & Veggies                                                 Protein: I’m not a big meat-eater. I don’t eat pork and rarely eat beef. Poultry and seafood are my proteins of choice so one of these two will likely be on my dinner plate. I’m thinking about phasing the poultry out and becoming a pescetarian again but I haven’t made the leap yet.                                                      Starch: I usually add brown rice, whole wheat pasta or whole wheat bread to the mix. I’m looking forward to experimenting with quinoa and couscous in the near future, I recently purchased both. Also, sweet potatoes are the business!                                                                                                                                   Veggies: Sometimes I eat my bagged salad mix if I don’t have any other fresh veggies to saute or steam. Otherwise I’ll heat up a can of veggies from the market. But, BE CAREFUL, canned veggies can have a lot of sodium. Make sure you get low sodium and check the label before you purchase it.

Snack 3 – Oatmeal                                                                                      My “midnight snack” is oatmeal. Oatmeal provides a balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein, so it’s a healthy choice day or night. It helps prevent heart disease and studies have shown that Oatmeal can help lower cholesterol. It also keeps you full for a long period of time because it’s packed with fiber. Again, make sure whatever brand you buy is low in sugar, if it has any at all. If it doesn’t have added sugar you can add cinnamon, honey, agave, fresh fruit, nuts, etc. for a little extra flavor.

Tea – Varies                                                                                               Right now my nighttime tea of choice is Get Clean which I bought from Whole Foods.  This caffeine-free herbal tea claims to help stimulate the liver, one of the body’s natural cleansing mechanisms. It’s light and doesn’t have much of a taste. I don’t add any sweetener, I drink it plain. I also love peppermint tea, green tea and ginger tea.

This article, Save Over 300 Calories with Simple Winter Drink Swaps, has great examples of small ways you can cut down your caloric intake. These tiny changes will help you live a little longer and feel better.

Have you made any diet changes lately? What made you change your diet? Please share below and hopefully you can inspire someone.

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Black Girls Workout, Too! {Part 1 of 3} – My Story

A few months back I came across a picture of Nicole Ari-Parker wearing the t-shirt above. I thought it was funny and so true that I had to have it. In the African-American community we often struggle with weight, being healthy and unlearning generations of bad food habits/choices. I personally and luckily have not had these struggles as an adult because I learned early on that healthy lifestyle choices really do make a difference later on in life. So, I bought that t-shirt, knowing it might offend some folks, but wanting to dispel the myth that black women do not workout and that we are not health conscious. Don’t believe me? Check out this site!

How I Started Running                                                                                   I have been running for a little over a year now and I LOVE IT. I found it by accident. Early last year I had some unplanned weight loss. I went from a “full” size 10 down to a 6 and sometimes a 4. While the weight loss was not my goal, I felt so much better about EVERYTHING: the way I looked, the way I felt, the way others responded to the “new” me, etc. that I decided it was time to make a lifestyle change, start running and taking my health more seriously.

Why I Run                                                                                                     While I initially started running to maintain my new weight and get healthy, I also started running because before I lost weight, I wasn’t at a good place in my life. Running provided me with an “escape”. For that moment, I didn’t have to think about what was going on in my life or be “present,” I could just lose myself in my thoughts and it was marvelous. I would allow my mind to wander and I always felt better afterwards.

I also run because it’s free to run outdoors.

My Usual Run                                                                                           While I do love to run, I am not a great runner nor do I run long distances. I usually run 2 miles followed by calisthenics at home (read about  calisthenics here) at least four days a week. My total workout is about 35 minutes long which is very feasible (for those of you who claim you don’t have time!!!). On the days that I don’t run, sometimes I’ll still do the calisthenics so that I burn some calories and get my heart rate up.

Do I Love Running and Working Out?                                                   No! During college and grad school I hit the gym regularly and I enjoyed it more because I was surrounded by others who kept me motivated. Running is different for me because I do it alone. Some days I would rather stay home and watch TV. But, once I’ve tied my sneakers and take my first stride, I’m glad I did. And, once I’m done I feel amazing.

I Ran a Race!                                                                                               Last year I actually ran in my very first race! It was so much fun. A college friend, Julissa, who is an ace runner and participates in races ALL the time, noticed my frequent facebook updates about running. She asked if I had ever considered running in a race. I thought that the only races were the NYC Marathon – a TWENTY SIX mile race through the five boroughs of NY – so I told her “no”. She introduced me to God’s Love We Deliver and I was sold. The Race to Deliver is a four mile run in Central Park the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

I registered a little late so I wasn’t sure if I would reach my donation goal, but I surpassed it by $85 and I was delighted. It was definitely hard and it took dedication, especially since I had to motivate myself every day. But, it was reasonable and realistic (for me), something I think people forget to be with when they start a new workout regimen (which is why a lot of people often quit).

Since my usual run is two miles, I had to train a little to build up my endurance. I also had to change the way I ate (we’ll talk about food in Part 3 of this Series). On the days leading up to the race, whenever I didn’t feel like running, I would take out my running shoes and MAKE myself do it. And, I always felt really good afterwards.

***I’m running again this year; definitely look out for an announcement!!!***

Do you run? If so, what has been your biggest struggle? How did you overcome it? If you don’t, what are you waiting for?

Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this “Black Girls Exercise, Too” Series.