When you have a 5- or 10K (you get to eat more with a half or full marathon) on your calendar, it’s important to plan out what you’re going to eat the morning of the big day—something that will keep you fueled and also go down easy. While everyone is different, “We always have good luck with a high-carbohydrate breakfast such as a small bowl of oatmeal with fruit or a couple of pieces of toast with peanut butter or cream cheese,” says Andrew Kastor, who also advises eating around 200 to 250 (primarily carb) calories about 90 minutes before you warm up for your run . And don’t worry about nixing your a.m. caffeine fix on race day. “Coffee is great for athletic performances,” Kastor adds, because it makes you sharper and may even give you extended energy. Talk about buzz-worthy!
Turn your cheat day around
Feeling guilty about that giant ice cream sundae you enjoyed at your niece’s birthday party? Don’t beat yourself up! It takes a lot of calories—3,500—to gain a pound of body fat. “So really, that one off day doesn’t usually result in any significant weight gain,” says Newgent. It’s about what you do the next day and the day after that’s really important—so don’t stay off-track. So be sure to whittle away at those extra calories over the next day or two, preferably by boosting exercise rather than eating too little. Starvation is not the healthy answer!
Be a weekend warrior
You’ve been following your diet plan to the letter, but enter: the weekend. To deal with three nights of eating temptations (think: birthdays, weddings, dinner parties), up your activity level for the week. For instance, try taking an extra 15-minute walk around your office each day, suggests Newgent. Then, go on and indulge a bit at the soiree, guilt free. Another party trick? Enjoy a 100-calorie snack before a celebration, which can help you eat fewer munchies at the event.
Fun up your food
It’s easy to get in a diet rut, even if you’re loading up on flavorful fruits and veggies. The solution? Have plenty of spices, fresh herbs, and lemons at your cooking beck and call. “It’s amazing what a little dash of spice, sprinkle of herbs, pinch of lemon zest, or squirt of lime juice can do to liven up a dish—and your diet,” says Newgent. The best part: They contain almost no calories. Experiment with your dinner, tonight!
Have a fruity ice cream sundae
Next time your family or friends decide to make an ice-cream run, don’t worry about being left out of the fun! Order a fresh (and super-refreshing) ice cream sundae, piled high with diced kiwi, pineapple, and strawberries. You’ll get a serving of delish fruit—no hefty calorie-laden toppings required.
Swap out your shoes
While we’ve all heard that running shoes break down after logging lots of miles (about 300 to 350), you may still be holding on to your fave pair. (They fit just right! They’re so cushy!) Not a good idea. “Glue has a tendency to break down under ultraviolet light, as do the other materials that make up the shoe,” says Andrew Kastor. So even if your sneaks have only 150 miles on them but are more than two years old, recycle them (try oneworldrunning.com or recycledrunners.com), because chances are they’ve already started deteriorating. And as a rule of thumb, always keep tabs on how many miles you’ve logged on them—tedious, but hey, you’ll be proud of how far you’ve gone.
Fuel for fitness
Planning on picking up the pace tomorrow? Eat food that will help keep you going strong. For breakfast, opt for a high-carbohydrate meal—one similar to what you’ll be eating on race day, so you can find out what foods digest best (for you!). Try a whole-grain English muffin or a bagel with peanut butter or a low-fat cream cheese. Then, have a well-rounded meal post-workout to help with recovery. Andrew Kastor’s favorite? One to two slices French toast with a side of fruit. “The protein-to-carbohydrate ratio is perfect for enhancing my recovery,” he says. We like that it’s super-yummy, too.
Say goodbye to peer pressure
Even if you’ve been eating right on track, it may be tough to stay on track if your partner, coworkers, or friends don’t share your healthy-eating habits. What to do? If your partner loves pizza, try ordering a pie that’s heavy on the veggies and light on the cheese—then supplement it with a side salad. Or, if your friends are having a girls’ night out, suggest a restaurant that’s got healthy appetizer options, instead of the typical fare of onion rings and cheese dip. And at work, instead of Friday baked-goods day, suggest a Friday “make it healthy” day, and swap in baked pears with cinnamon or mini fruit-and-nut muffins for brownies and blondies.
Savor your carbs
When trying to slim and trim, you may be tempted to take drastic measures like cutting out your carbs. But before you go and add dinner rolls and chips to your “no” list, remember that yummy foods like brown rice, pumpernickel bread, and even potato chips contain Resistant Starch, a metabolism-boosting carb that keeps you full for longer. And that’s great for maintaining a fit you because you won’t have to eat as much to feel satiated. So go on, rip open that (single-serve) bag of Lay’s!
Ditch your working lunch
Munching on your lunch while at the computer could lead to mindless grazing, according to a study in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition. People who ate their midday meals while playing a computer game ended up eating more cookies 30 minutes later than those who hadn’t been gaming. So carve out 20 minutes a day (we know, you’ve got a million things to do, but … ), and eat in your conference room (or outdoors!). Your whittled waistline with thank you.
There’s no denying it: Getting the fresh air from exercising outdoors is great! But along with it, you also get the harmful UV rays. To keep yourself shielded while still having fun in the sun, opt for a sweat-proof screen with SPF 30 or higher (look out for types that say “water-resistant” or “waterproof” on the bottle, terms regulated by the FDA), a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher, a lightweight hat, and sports shades. Also consider trading in your white tee and instead going for a shirt with built-in UV protection (a rating of 30 UVP is necessary to be awarded the Skin Cancer Foundation’s “Seal of Recommendation”; a white T-shirt has a rating of 10). And remember, the rays are at their brightest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so try to plan a before-or post-work sweat-session.
Slim up your snack
It’s hard to avoid that 3 p.m. stomach rumble, when nothing can stand between you and the office vending machine. And while it’s fine to eat something to hold you over until dinner (in fact, we encourage it!), some choices will help you keep on your weight-loss track—while others can surely derail you. So at the vending machine, instead of choosing that ever-so-tempting pack of Twizzlers, try a 100-calorie cookie pack or a Nature Valley granola bar. Better yet, bring a snack from home! We’re fans of sliced veggies dipped in hummus. Delish!