Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mario Lopez Will Help Me Eat Right

My recovery week from the Top of Utah Marathon has been a week of regrouping. Here's the quick lowdown:

1. I've got my plan for the Houston Marathon ready to go. It starts tomorrow....with an off day. :^)

Like my Top of Utah plan, it's from McMillan Running (home of the running calculator that many of us use). I'm excited about it. It ups the intensity and the miles a bit (3000 meter repeats! a 24-miler on Christmas Eve!) while still preserving some cross-training and step-back weeks.

I really liked the McMillan plan I used this summer. It was not only effective but fun, with a lot of variety in the workouts and a lot of choice built in. Depending on how I felt, I could go harder or easier (within a range of paces and distances). There were even frequent "Choose Your Workout" days mid-week, where I could go with a fartlek (if I was feeling the need to work on speed), or a hill workout (if I needed that--I'll be choosing this option more often in this cycle), or a stamina workout.

2. I'm (again--yawn) working on diet.

A few days after the marathon, I climbed onto the scale and found my weight still sitting pretty at 129 pounds (this is "pretty" for me in recent years). But my body fat also hadn't budged: there it was, 22%. Too high for a runner trying to BQ.

A big part of my problem with food is poor planning. Here I sit, with this super-detailed plan for running workouts that I follow like a religious zealot, but almost never do I have any idea what I'm going to eat that day. This results in lots of seat-of-my-pants meals and snacks that may or may not be what I should be eating. It also results in hunger striking at bad times (like when I'm about to enter three hours of meetings at work) and the loss of lots of money I shouldn't be spending that way being poured into unplanned eating excursions. It's not good for my kids, either. Frequently (and especially when Dan is working late), they get PB&J or macaroni and cheese for dinner. How can I expect them to be organized and healthful in their food choices if I'm not setting an example?

I've known this planning thing is a problem for a long time. Now, with some time to devote to changing my habits and that 22% chub factor literally hanging from my body, I'm going to tackle it for good. And to help me out, I've turned to the obvious source: Mario Lopez.

Yes, he's got a high cheese factor (and no, I NEVER watched Saved By the Bell). But it turns out he's written the book I've been looking for on this topic. It's called Extra Lean Family: Get Lean and Achieve Your Family's Best Health Ever. That's got two words in it that I like: "lean" and "family." And I like the inside of it even more. It's all there: four weeks of good-for-you mostly-kid-friendly meals and snacks for a family of four planned out, with a grocery list at the beginning of the week so you can (hopefully) do all of that at once too (we're also at the grocery store way too much) and plans for making enough for leftovers (and then actually using the leftovers) built in.

These meals are realistic, and these meals are easy. I really don't like cooking very much at all. Every now and then I'll get a bug and want to make something elaborate, like a cake from scratch or scallops in pistou sauce. But those bugs have been few and far between since I had my kids. And while Dan loves cooking and is good at it, the man has a full-time job and isn't really much better at the planning side than I am. Mario takes care of all of that. He does incorporate some healthful takes on fun foods, especially on weekends (this morning's breakfast was Banana French Toast). But mostly it's super-practical. Even for someone who hates cooking, has a job and has kids--but wants to cut sugar and fat out of everyone's diet.

The debut of Mario's plan in the Becker house was today. For lunch at work, I brought a sandwich of lean deli turkey on a whole wheat English muffin with lettuce, tomatoes, a slice of low-fat cheese and hummus. It was yummy, and even better it was filling enough that the planned snack (a cup of grapes) will actually be enough for me. Tonight we're having grilled BBQ chicken with brown rice and an Asian cucumber salad (that I made in advance last night).

I know I'll have to bump it up some when the miles start rolling again. But it's organized enough that I can do that easily. I'm also hoping that after four weeks, I'll be able to branch out a bit and add some easy ideas from other sources, like Cooking Light magazine.

I'm really really hoping to get that 22% body fat down to something more like 19 or 20%. Mario does say "extra lean," right?

3. I will be returning to Tammy's spin class this week. Yay! Not only will she kick my booty, I should get some new music ideas.

4. Last Thursday I started weight training again. I'll be doing this twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hopefully this will also help with the leanness factor. I'm going to really work on the leg stuff this time, too--no slacking on hamstring curls and lunges. I don't want my legs to die in Houston like they died in Logan, UT.

So there you have it! Solid plans laid on all fronts. I love new beginnings!


  1. Your amazing. 22% body fat would be ideal for me. I am 5'9.5'' and would KILL to be @ in my eyes, your already rockin' it!! Good luck with the eating plan. Please let me know how your kids handle it, I am very interested it my family is on board as well!!! Keep us updated!

  2. Awesome plan! I'm finally reading Racing Weight. I like the message that it's okay for me to want to be very lean to reach my running goals. I have a much longer way to go than you do, but I believe it is very doable!

    I think the Lopez plan sounds great for you with your family. Nick and I eat so differently from each other that I'm not sure if we could adopt it, but your kids are young enough for a plan like that to make a difference.

  3. Sounds like you've got a lot of good things in the works. I love that Mario Lopez is going to help get you where you want to be. Sadly I must admit that I did watch Saved By the Bell. I loved that show!

  4. You know ... Mario ran the Boston Marathon in 5:41:41. Maybe you should write a book about running that he should read ;)
    And while I'm on the subject ... you, my dear, are faster than Sean Astin, Meredith Baxter Bearney, Shia LeBouf, Ted Koppel, Oprah, Alanis Morissette, Jared from Subway, Bobby Flay, and .... wait for it .... Sarah Palin!!!!
    ... and yes, I watched Saved By the Bell, too.

  5. Funny Mario Lopez with no shirt is one ot the searches that bring many people to my's from the tri he did. :) Who knew he had a cook book!

    I can only dream of ever being at 20 anything percent!

    So did you purchase one of the Plans at McMillan? I clicked on a link that took me to a plan but I'm guessing that is not what your using..just wondering...not that I plan to do a marathon....

  6. I think in most races I carry a little extra weight too. I'm not fat, but at 6'2", 180ish - it's tough to get down to where I feel light. I feel like I could always drop a few more pounds to be faster.

  7. Ha, ha--I'd have a hard time getting past Mario's name on the book. But--it does sound like a good plan. I hope it works for you. And your training aspect sounds good to. Your BQ is out there!

  8. I never watched save by the bell but I did meet your new cooking inspiration once on the WB lot. he was quite charming I have to say

  9. I did watch saved by the bell and thought it was cheesy then but I still watched. I need to have a better eating plan too I do way too much by the seat of my pants.

  10. I can't believe you never watched Saved by the Bell! I totally do, I mean did...hmm should I be embarrassed by this? I don't like to cook either so maybe I should check out Mario's book.

  11. Way to plan girl! The McMillan plan sounds good...may need to investigate that one if, I mean WHEN I'm up and running again (hopefully soon). Mario seriously? Whatever works right? I BQ'd at 128.

  12. I'm intrigued by a cookbook that is described as "realistic" and "easy". I hate to cook and eat only to fuel my running (exception: love junkfood) I might have to check it out.

    New beginnings are so energizing :) You're also likely not to have hail in Houston - oh no, now I've gone and jinxed you :)

    Happy training!

  13. Late congrats for your great sub 4h marathon!

  14. You are awesome! I love your tenacity to keep striving to do better and keep improving! I think that's why we're good e-friends :). Let's get a run in on a day you're off soon, ok?!? Ok!!

  15. Congrats on your sub 4 marathon. Quick question: How did you get your new mcmillan plan for houston so quickly. did you order before the utah marathon or after? the reason i ask is that I'm doing a McMillan plan for NYC maarathon and than I'm going to do New Orleans in March. A 16 week plan for New Orleans would start one week after NYC. thanks

  16. jdsnipes: Thanks for the congrats!

    I didn't order my new plan until AFTER my Utah race. I wanted to include that race's time in the new questionnaire, and I wanted to use the filled-in spreadsheet from the old plan as my new "running history" for the new questionnaire as well. So I waited until Sunday night (the TOU marathon was on a Saturday) and paid for the new plan. Then I emailed McMillan about my new PR and thanked him, told him I'd bought another plan. He replied the next day (Monday), sent me the questionnaire, which I filled out and sent back to him the next day (Tuesday), along with the spreadsheet of the old plan with how I did each workout. He had the new plan to me on Friday.

    I hope that helps! Great luck in NYC (it's a huge party--I did it in 2005) and New Orleans. What's your goal?

  17. Thanks for the info. 3:30 for NYC and then New Orleans will depend on how I do at New York

  18. Your new marathon and eating plans sound great!