I don't know what it is, but something is seriously working. I'm two weeks out from the Revel Marathon and despite a bit of fatigue this week, everything is clicking. My last 20-miler on Saturday was downright enjoyable and the monster speed workout on Tuesday (10x1000m + addt 4 miles) felt manageable. My legs didn't fall off, so I'm going to consider it a success.
Most interestingly, I did something I haven't been able to do for the last four marathon training cycles: lose weight. In the past, my weight would hover around the same number for the duration of training, and then five pounds would vanish (unhelpfully) in the week AFTER the race. I've never been able to manage diet + training = weight loss, despite my best attempts. Those long run promote serious hunger, and after you've logged 16-20 miles, it's hard to say no to the occasional treat. We are only human, after all.
I weigh myself once a week, only on Fridays, and record the number. I have been doing it for years; it's especially helpful when looking at the big picture. Imagine my surprise when today yielded a whopping eight pound loss since mid-March. It was a number I haven't seen since the first Bush administration (i.e when I was 15). I'm officially at race weight two weeks early.
Um...where did it go? This is no water weight/bowel movement weight loss; it's legit. How is this happening - is it the coconut oil? The insane amount of bananas I consume? (I'm officially a banana hoarder; more on that in another entry). Interval training? Logging fifty-plus miles a week probably isn't hurting things. And then, as I stared dumbfounded at the scale, I noticed my reflection in the mirror and saw...lines on my tummy. Like, the good kind. I knew I had muscles in there somewhere, they've just never come to visit before. Whoa. I thought ab definition was only reserved for elite athletes and males under the age of 25. Sadly, this will not result in a Instagram duckface bathroom selfie (sorry, that's just not my jam) but I'm pretty excited about this discovery. The quads continue to grow in size (thank you, eccentric movement), but everything else appears to be shrinking. Praise everything!
They always say abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym, and to that I say: chocolate chip cookies are too! But let's make the good kind of cookies - the kind that taste good and don't contain all the things that are going to cause you to carry extra weight, especially in the mid-section. I stumbled upon this cookbook in early March and cannot say enough good things about the author and her recipes. Over the last few weeks, "Cut the Sugar; You're Sweet Enough" by Ella Leche has helped me indulge in the occasional sweet treat without blowing my training, especially in those crucial post-long run hours. She uses natural, unprocessed sweeteners that essentially trick your taste buds into thinking you are eating the real thing. Everything from blackstrap molasses, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, and raw cane sugar is noted, along with their Glycemic Index rating with comments about the flavor, benefits and bottom line. Best, almost all of the recipes are gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and sugar-free or low-sugar. They taste so good, I don't know why you'd ever consider eating something loaded with processed sugars, saturated fat or dairy.
It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle, which means in order to be successful, I have to learn new ways to prepare old favorites. What is more favorite than the chocolate chip cookie? The recipe below drew rave reviews, including from my own child and husband, my two toughest critics. My friend Krista couldn't believe it when I told her they are mostly made from chick peas (all hail the mighty chick pea!). Pair one or two with a cup of rooibos tea and enjoy the perfect evening snack. Or better - make your own almond milk, and channel your inner 8-year old. Milk and cookies! (I ate the second-to-last photo while editing this entry).
So thank you, Ella Leche and your awesome cookbook (order your copy here!). Everyone else, enjoy!
Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from "Cut the Sugar; You're Sweet Enough" by Ella Leche)
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 sea salt
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or better yet, vanilla paste)
1 bag vegan mini chocolate chips (I like the "Enjoy Life" brand)
Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or baking liners.
Like all good vegan cooking, this employs the "dump and blend" technique (very easy to master): dump all the ingredients except the mini chips into a food processor and blend. Occasionally scrape sides of the bowl. Blend, baby, blend. Within two or three minutes, you'll have a nice soft mixture. Transfer this into a new bowl and let it cool. Very important! If you mix in the chips now, the batter will melt them. The batter is warm from blending. So pop it in the fridge for about 10 minutes before folding in the chips.
(or you can add the chocolate when it's still warm and you'll have chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Not aesthetically pleasing but extra tasty!)
Once the batter has cooled and chips are folded in, drop the batter on cookie sheets in rounded tablespoons. The original recipe says it will make about 12 cookies; I squeeze out 36. Tiny cookies are more fun to eat and have less guilt. Smush each cookie down with a tiny bit of water on your fingertips to give it more of a cookie-shape (it will not spread once in the oven.)
Bake at 350 for 12-13 minutes. Remove from oven and let them continue cooking for another 8 minutes on the sheet. Let cool on a baking rack. They will last for 3 days or in the fridge for a week. These are SUPER soft cookies so handle delicately!
Nutritional info per cookie:
Carbs: 8.3g (5g sugar per cookie)