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Finding the Right Fueling Foods

Susan baked up a fiber-packed pizza this weekend. (Photo by Peter Ardito) 

I began the week running in sunny Florida and finished it back in colder NYC. You will probably think I am crazy, but as much as I enjoyed being in the warm weather, I realize I much prefer running in colder temps. Cold air is so invigorating during a run! My training went well this week and I also had time to take my all time favorite class: Physique 57. It's a 57-minute program of stretching, interval training and body weight resistance exercises. The classes are really challenging (at times tortuous), but I love it and always feel great when I am done! It will definitely make me stronger which can only help my running. I'm hoping to squeeze in at least one class per week until the half-marathon.

I’ve realized that eating the right food before and after exercise is critical to my performance, so I contacted registered dietitian Stephanie Middleberg for some guidance. As an extra bonus, she is also an athlete and able to provide me with some great tips based on her own experiences.  Over the last few weeks, I've obviously been exercising more often than normal and I’ve learned that I may not always eating the right foods, combinations of foods, or at times, enough food. I was also eating the same things over and over and kind of stuck in a rut, causing a crash or binge on unhealthy empty-calorie foods. As a result, my energy levels fell and my guilt shot through the roof. Stephanie suggested that I add more fats and complex carbs to my diet. I was skeptical because these were foods I thought I wasn't "supposed to eat." However, I trusted her guidance and started eating avocados, flax seeds, nuts, carrots, sweet potatoes, lentil soup (Amy's Organic), more fruit and peanut butter (l love Justin's Honey Peanut Butter).

I've noticed a huge difference! I’m no longer feeling hungry, crashing or binging, and I have plenty of energy and feel great. If you’re looking for some other healthy and easy snacking options or meals, check out the March issue of FITNESS! I made the Oh-So Good Granola Bars (page 126) and Black Bean Pizza (page 136) this weekend and they are both delicious, simple and quick to prepare. Do you have a go-to fueling food or recipe? Please share in the comments!