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Out There: The ‘D’ Word

Columnist Susan Lacke tackles her offseason weight gain — but don't call it a diet.

Columnist Susan Lacke tackles her offseason weight gain — but don’t call it a diet.

Have you tried the Cookie Diet?

I suppose that’s what some people would have called my offseason. For six weeks after my final race of 2013, I eschewed all structured training. To fill my days (and my belly), I dusted off my mixer and baking pans. It didn’t matter what I was making — brownie bites, mint swirls, or chocolate-covered cherries — if the first ingredients were “flour, sugar, and chocolate chips,” I was on it.

It’s possible I may have gone a tiny bit overboard with the baking bonanza, and it didn’t take long for my body to adapt to the circumstances. Much like the pecan cookies I had created, my center became soft and nougat-filled. With my newfound cookie-baking skills came a deeper appreciation for stretchy yoga pants.

It was the offseason, and I was going to enjoy every delicious, chocolate-covered second. I refused to obsess over calories, weight, or my slowly softening body. Instead, I subscribed to the words of the great philosopher Honey Boo Boo: “Pretty comes in all sizes. My size is Cute.”

Still, one Saturday night, I tried to slip into my fancy jeans (which double as my only pair of jeans — an occupational hazard of the running magazine columnist). I found the process to be less of a “slip into” and more of a “Honey, where do we keep the shoehorn?” I checked the tag on the back. To my surprise, “Size Cute” did not appear.

When I finally got back to running some easy miles, I felt a little wiggle in my rump. A few days later, I went to my doctor’s office for a checkup, where I had no choice but to step on the scale and have said wiggle quantified. In the six weeks since my race, I had gained 10 pounds.

It was official — it was time to start eating like an athlete again.

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I should have kept this venture to myself. As soon as the words “No thanks, I’m trying to lose a few pounds,” exited my mouth at a party, I was inundated with advice. Suddenly, I was “that girl on a diet,” and everyone was Jenny Craig:

“Eat spicy foods for metabolism!” they yelled. “Celery is a negative-calorie food! Eat more dairy! Don’t eat any dairy! Drink eight glasses of water a day! Go Paleo! Fast on Mondays and Thursdays!” And, if my sources are correct, Beelzebub lurks in every food: Coffee is the devil! Bread is the devil! Potatoes are the devil!

When someone asked me what diet I was on, I had no idea what to say. “Uh … er … ah,” I shrugged, “the one where I don’t put as many cookies in my face hole?”

Apparently, that was the wrong answer. It seems to be unheard of these days to try to drop a little weight without some sort of trademarked shtick. Even the McDonald’s Diet is a thing. A baffling, nugget-shaped thing, but a thing nonetheless.

What I’m failing to grasp here is why I’m supposed to make my own weight loss so complicated. I gained weight because I ate too much and moved too little. Can’t I just reverse the equation? Why do I have to make it a thing?

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Sorry, folks, but I’m not on a diet. Is that so wrong? Yes, I’ve got a few pounds that I’d like to lose before race season, but I still refuse to obsess over calories or weight. I definitely won’t subscribe to a fad I won’t be able to maintain. I’m a runner — food is my fuel. I’m just trying to put good food into my body so I can get some good miles out of my body.

Fitting into those jeans would be a nice bonus, too.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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