How to Eat Cookies and Not Gain Weight

Like most women going through a divorce, I was constantly stressed. There were so many things to worry about, arguments that would spring up when I least expected them, and big decisions to make. I’d been a runner for a few years, but never really took it seriously. During those months, however, I needed the stress relief and started to appreciate running for the way it cleared my mind.


If you’re like me, and you love cookies but you don’t like gaining weight–then you should try running!

 

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “You’re crazy! Running is hard. I’m not good at it. I can barely walk a mile right now, never mind run.”

 

Let me encourage you. You can do it. If I can, you can–trust me.

 

I was NOT an athlete when I was younger. I literally have the coordination of a giraffe at a skating rink. I’m still not coordinated or fast, but running is something I have learned to love.

 

Now, when the weather is nice, I’m like a puppy at the window, dying to get out and run around the park.

 

If you’re thinking about taking up running…

 

My top ten tips for new runners:

 

1. Start slow. I started by walking, then adding running from light pole to light pole. I gradually increased that distance, until I could get to a mile without stopping. When I could run that far, I knew it was time to get serious, which meant it was time for tip #2.


2. Get good running shoes. Running shoes. From an actual running store. DO NOT go to a chain or a store in the mall for running shoes. You need to be fitted by a professional, especially one who does gait analysis. Your feet are your most important tool in running and you don’t want to skimp here. Your running shoes will likely be at least one full size larger than you normally wear, to give your feet room to expand when you run. They should also have the proper support for your form. Buy what works for your gait and stride.


3. Stretching is important. Before you run, you should do a warmup, with dynamic stretches. There’s all kinds of science behind why you do dynamic stretches before and static stretches afterward. Google it. Be knowledgeable. After you run, ALWAYS do static stretches. It really helps your body recover.


4. Keep track. Get an app for your phone or even a simple stopwatch and keep track of how far/fast you are going. It really helps me to know, because then I want to do better next time. And when you think you aren’t making any progress, add up all the miles you have run and you’ll be amazed at how far you have come.


5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Especially if, like me, you live in Florida! It’s important to drink lots and lots of water. I drink water all day and usually run in the early morning. I don’t drink much before I run (because then I’d end up in the restroom a lot) but I do make sure to drink a lot after a run. On hot/humid days, I carry water with me—one bottle of pure water and one with electrolytes in it, usually on what’s called a fuel belt (a handy thing on your waist that holds a couple of water bottles).

 

6. Eat right. The food you put in your body is the fuel that powers your runs. If you eat donuts all day, it’s like putting watered-down gas into your car’s tank. Eat right to run/exercise right.

 

7. Cross-train. I admit I am not so good about this one. Running works one group of muscles, while cross-training, like bike riding, swimming, aerobics classes, weight lifting, will work the others, which in turn makes you a stronger runner.


8. Don’t worry about times, paces, splits, etc. You’re not Shalane Flanagan or Ryan Hall. You’re running for fun and health, so don’t worry about all the rest. Have fun.


9. Run in the rain (but not if it’s lightning out). There’s something awesome about running in the rain. A light rain is fun and refreshing, a no-holds-barred storm with wind (but again, no lightning) makes you feel seriously hardcore and teaches you that you can conquer almost anything.


10. Find running friends. You can find other runners online in social running groups or at local running stores. I remember being totally intimidated the first time I went. I’m not a fast runner, and I’m a little whiny, and I thought I’d be running all by myself. I have never ended up running by myself—runners are the warmest, most inclusive, friendliest and most helpful group of people out there. And you will have seriously epic fun times. I remember one holiday season run when we all sang Christmas carols on the run. It was literally the most fun run I have EVER had. I can’t wait to do it again!

Running is amazing and awesome and fun. Yes, it has its moments that are extremely hard. The first mile, someone once told me, ALWAYS feels terrible, and she was right. It doesn’t matter how many times I run or how far I run, I always, always, always hate that first mile. Then I find my groove and settle into my pace, and find a good song or an interesting podcast to listen to, and the miles click by. Every run, I try to push myself a teeny tiny bit farther or harder, and when I’m done, I am ALWAYS glad I ran. Every single solitary time.

My stress is lower, my life is better, and I’m happier overall. And the best part of all? I can eat cookies and not gain weight.

 

By Shirley Jump