Runners Eating Like Pacman

I think I finally understand Pac-Man. I mean, the little fella eats all the time. His entire existence is eating. Over here, he eats a row of pellets. Over there, he’s chomping on some fruit. After that? Why not wash it down with some nice, tasty ghosts.

And I think I finally know how he can eat that much and not get pac-diabetes. 

It’s the running.

This little yellow guy moves. He might be eating with every step he takes, but he needs to. Running that much takes a lot of energy, which means Pac-Man needs to constantly refuel.

Otherwise, he would crash and those ghosts would be dragging him into the netherworld. And who can have that when running for a PR–err, high score.

I Feel Like Pac-Man

Last week, I was running 5-6 miles per session, and I was okay. I was hungry, but I’d eat, and I’d feel satisfied.

This week, I upped my mileage, and at the 7.5 mile marker, I found a new and magnificent level of hunger.

I want to eat all the time. So I eat, and an hour later, I’m hungry again. So I eat again. And a couple hours after that, I’m hungry again. So I eat.

And in my mind, I can’t help but see this level of hunger as a terrible thing. I mean, I know I need the fuel, but I have spent the past three years in weight-loss mode.

I’ve spent so much time and energy learning how to control what I eat, understanding the calories and nutrients in everything that went in my mouth, and trying to make sure that I keep burning more calories than I take in. Every day. For three years.

And now, I’m being told by Runkeeper that my morning runs–at my height, current weight, and average page–are burning around 1,000 calories. At this point, approximately 80-90% of my total daily calorie intake.

(Before you say anything, it’s taken a lot of experimentation and doctor consultation to learn that 1200-1500 calories can keep me healthy and still losing weight.)

That completely throws everything I know and that I’m used to right out the window.

So what do I do?

I do the only thing I can: I listen to my body.

It’s telling me that to eat, so I eat. And you know what? I’m still losing weight–which may actually mean I’m not eating enough. But since I still have about 10-15 pounds to go, I’m going to just roll with it.

I’m going to eat when I’m hungry. I’m going to eat to fuel my runs. I’m going to run because it makes me healthy and fit (not to mention that I love it–most of the time).

And that’s exactly what I recommend for you: eat when you’re hungry. It’s your body telling you something. That doesn’t mean that you get to go Pac-Man wild if you’re not as active as the little yellow bugger, but even if you’re in the middle of a weight loss regimen, there is absolutely no reason for you to be hungry.

What’s really awesome about this coming up is that I’m learning. I’m still learning what makes my body work, and I’m learning how to make this a sustainable lifestyle.

It’s been three years since I started, and every few months, something changes to make me rethink everything I think I know about myself. I mean, I am still learning how to run (and to eat) for fitness as opposed to running and eating for weight loss.

Is that scary? Yeah, it really is.

But it’s not any more scary than being chased around the track by ghosts. Ain’t that right, Pac-Man?

What are your thoughts on the balance between fueling for fitness and for weight loss?

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