It’s only four weeks until Christmas which means already the food shaming has started. IT’S HERE. There are actual infographics on how many minutes you have to run to negate your roast dinner. ACTUAL INFOGRAPHICS. And whether they are a traditional roast meal with calories pointing to every last one, or a chart of donuts based on how far you’ve run or pumpkin pie. Hey guys, if you run a marathon you get whipped cream with your pumpkin pie. And helpful little tweets from elite runners telling you that you better go off and have that run before you eat.
Let’s not do this.
For starters it’s a whole pile of crap because calories burned will vary depending on your weight. And how much you want to consume daily depends on your general level of activity as well as your metabolism and your goals. If you have a kick ass metabolism and are living well above the 1,200 calorie line of where happiness goes to die, then your calorie counting days are probably well behind you.
But even aside from basic logic or science, let’s just not.
This is just an example of everything that is wrong with everything. If I picked up almost any magazine aimed at women in fitness or running there would be practically no headlines related to fitness or running but I would get some helpful tips on how to be sexier, get abs in five days and finally achieve my dream of a bikini body. Well, it’s not my dream. Because that kind of achievement is pretty meaningless. Will I be able to run faster or further, will I be stronger? None of those things actually impact on my fitness or strength or endurance.
And once you set up appearance as the most important thing then it’s really easy to fall into the trap of exercise being punishment for food. And then you ruin the glorious time of year that is Christmas and New Year. A few days enjoying some of the most awesome food ever is not going to derail your nutrition goals or your fitness goals, but if you buy into this load of crap it might rob you of joy or zest for life or the will to live.
But the worst part is, it might take away some of your joy of running or lifting or moving. You might forget why you do this. You can’t put a calorie number on a run and define it in such meaningless terms. And it is totally meaningless. If I looked up my run today I could find out how many calories I burned: 809. Which let’s get real, I didn’t burn that many calories. My body is used to running, it is highly efficient at running, I don’t need an extra 800 calories in food today because I went for a run. And what does 809 tell me? Does it tell me about the ducks I saw out for a walk this morning? Does it tell me about the moon I saw at sunrise? Does it tell me how I totally aced my pacing (which I’ve been struggling with)? Does it tell me anything at all about how going for a run makes me feel purposeful and alive and home?
It does not.
Pass the cream.