Cutting Back

in All Posts

Good morning!  How goes it?  Happy Memorial Day to my fellow Americans!  I don’t have today “off” (in fact, my to-do list is insane), but that’s OK – the Husband and I leave tomorrow for Charlotte to find a house (to rent). Can’t wait to share all of our choices with you!




I decided to pump up my oatmeal with a tablespoon of this smoothie mix from Vega:


I was really surprised when I looked at the ingredient list:  green pea protein, hemp protein, and organic green blend (spinach, kale, broccoli leaf).  Plus tons of other healthy- and green-sounding stuff. 


My oatmeal contained:


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 scoop Vega Vanilla Almondilla Shake & Go Smoothie
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 banana
  • Toppings:  pecans


Loved.  It was fabulous.


Cutting Back


Lately, I’ve had a few questions regarding how I feel about ‘cutting back’ on exercise, so I thought I’d address those issues here. 


In January, I ran the Disney Marathon; in March, I did an Olympic triathlon; and I just completed a 100-mile bike race.  This means I’ve been in a constant state of high-cardio training since September 2009 with virtually no real breaks


There’s no real reason to sustain this high level of activity year-around.  I certainly don’t need to be biking 15 hours a week to be healthy.  In fact, I feel more balanced when I’m exercising to energize myself, not to exhaust myself to a new level of cardio fitness. 


Secondly, it’s just not realistically feasible for most people to maintain a high level of exercise year-around for two reasons:  you get bored and need a mental break, and life gets in the way.  I’m looking forward to a break from hours-long exercises and can’t wait to focus on new things (like yoga!).  And of course, we’re moving to a new state and launching a new business.  Intensely long training sessions just isn’t feasible.


I know many of you are wondering about weight gain, and although I don’t stress it, I’m happy to address it.  My maintenance weight does NOT require me to work out for hours on end.  If it did, it wouldn’t be maintenance.  To me, a maintenance weight is something you can maintain with a healthy diet and exercise, but nothing extreme.  It’s something you can live in and be happy with.  Furthermore, I actually find it harder to maintain a maintenance weight when I’m exercising a lot – as it’s fairly well known, most people gain weight (fat, not muscle) while training for long events, like a marathon.  I’m about 5 pounds over my maintenance weight right now, but I know from experience it will melt off when I return to a more ‘normal’ exercise routine.


In conclusion… I don’t feel ‘bad’ about cutting back on exercise.  If anything, I’m looking forward to the mental and physical break.  And I still plan to exercise most days just to be healthy (plus, I love it!).  To read more about my no-guilt approach to exercise, check out: “Guilt is a drug.”



  • Heather ( May 31, 2010, 9:00 am

    I am glad you adressed this. For me its a mental thing and I get so tired mentally training for one thing after another. that’s why I think its good to pick a few events here and there that doesnt require you to be at that peaklevel all year!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs May 31, 2010, 9:01 am

    I love the look of that smoothie mix, very clever.
    Good attitude to the weight/exercise thing! I wondered how you were going to deal with all that, seeing as how you do looaads of exercise, so it’s good to know you’re cool with it 🙂 inspiring!

  • Kelly May 31, 2010, 9:01 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this. I always gain a few pounds when I am training for something, or bump up my exercise routine in any way. I get so much more hungry when I am training, especially strength training. I find it much easier to stick with normal eating when I am just exercising normally which for me is about 4 times a week, incorporating yoga. I think you are right there is just no need to feel bad about it- it’s good for your body to take it down a notch every once in awhile!

  • Hedda May 31, 2010, 9:15 am

    Once again I am amazed by you. And so glad that there are people like you with such a positive and healthy attitude towards nutrition, excercise and body- image. Not just that, but also that you share your experiences and thoughts with people who read your blog, it is so important. It makes a difference to my life, and I am convinced I am not the only one.
    ( if you and your husband ever get children, one thing is for sure : they will have great role-model in you and your husband when it comes to a healthy attitude. )

  • Evan Thomas May 31, 2010, 9:17 am

    Great attitude!

  • Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker May 31, 2010, 9:17 am

    Caitlin! This is a great post. I have been dealing with this as well (and people asking about it). It’s incredibly difficult to maintain such a high level of training — and it’s really not good for your bones and joints either. But it’s also hard to get everything back on “normal” track when you go to a more moderate program. I mostly have trouble getting my food intake to “appropriate” levels after being able to consume relatively high number of calories to sustain long runs, etc. Anyway, you’re so right that you can maintain a healthy diet/weight/etc. but not be extreme. Good luck with your cutting back — I’m doing the same <3

    • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs May 31, 2010, 9:26 am

      I have the same problem – if I cut back on exercise, it’s hard to find a food balance too, when I’m so used to eating LOADS. I look forward to seeing how Caitlin does 🙂

  • M May 31, 2010, 9:18 am

    Glad you wrote about this, I was beginning to think you were superhuman or just addicted to always having a huge race/training.Most work lives for people cnnot sustain such schedules of training, let alone the body!!I am relived to find out you are “real”-thank goodness ! 😉

    May I ask why you decided to rent?For some reason I thought you were looking to buy, but maybe I am mixing that with another blogger! Renting def gived flexibility to get to know a place first.(I rent an apt myself but would love to own something someday!)

    Yay for people not always being superhuman on blogs-thank goodness!

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 9:25 am

      i think some people had the impression we were going to buy because i talked about looking for a house (but we’re just going to rent one). we can’t afford to buy right now… we have been living off one (weird) income for 3 years + we have to start paying back my husband’s loans. we’re just in no financial position to buy… but hopefully we will be in a few years!

  • lisa May 31, 2010, 9:22 am

    I’m glad you wrote about your feelings on training, and what your future plans are. You’re right – it is unreasonable for most people to exercise more than 30 or 60 minutes a day. I’ve found that when I go through phases of exercising hard for even an hour every day, my body feels shaken up.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday May 31, 2010, 9:23 am

    Usually you gain fat and muscle when you train. You can’t gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously.

  • denise May 31, 2010, 9:27 am

    I always gain weight when training for anything. enjoy maintenance exercise for a change – you certainly deserve it!

  • Meghan@traveleatlove May 31, 2010, 9:28 am

    You have an excellent, balanced view toward working out. It is a great example for those who maybe have just finished their first enudrance event and might be stressed about what to do next. I could NEVER maintain mymarathon training fitness year round!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs May 31, 2010, 9:30 am

    I just re-read this post; how do you gain fat but not muscle training? I thought it was the other way around? :s

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 9:36 am

      It’s nearly impossible to gain muscle just cardio (as I have been doing) but it’s easy to gain fat because you tend to overeat the more you train.

      Also, I know my weight gain is fat, not muscle, because I did body fast percentages at the gym. 🙂

      • Michal May 31, 2010, 12:39 pm

        Thank you for clarifying! I was wondering that as well.

  • Mish@EatingJourney May 31, 2010, 9:30 am

    Miz works out 30 min/5x week w/ weights. And she’s ripped. I think that people have this notion that you absolutely have to throttle it to be fit..and as your’s not true.

    Enjoy the extra time.

  • Katie - Life Discombobulated May 31, 2010, 9:32 am

    Thanks for such a great and thoughtful post this morning! Posts like that (along with your humor and hilarious/cute Maggie & James pics) are definitely what keep me reading this blog! You made several points that really resonated with me! Sometimes I freak out, thinking I need to plan out my workouts week by week and feel guilty if I don’t make one of them, which is totally silly! I have always been active and have run 3 half marathons – fitness is a part of my lifestyle! Also, it IS easier to lose/maintain weight when not in training! I’m not as hungry all the time, so I can focus more on eating well rather than eating whatever is in sight. 🙂 Again, thanks!

  • rebecca lustig May 31, 2010, 9:35 am

    You are such an inspiration to many. I hope to achieve a weight that my body is happy and content with, so that I can BE (not just FEEL) happy, healthy and content.

    youre a rock star <3

  • Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers May 31, 2010, 9:37 am

    Vega products are brilliant! I love that when you use the whole food optimizer they tell you not to take any additional vitamins because you get your RDA from a couple scoops alone.

    Interesting post. I’ve been on holiday for a couple weeks and it was funny to see how exercise became less of a focus and more of a ‘just incorporate a bit into daily life thing’…taught me a few good lessons about not being so rabid about it all.

  • Jolene ( May 31, 2010, 9:40 am

    It totally makes sense that one would gain weight when training for a big event … your body doesn’t know what to do with all the exercise, so it starts to hold on to fat like crazy so you don’t deplete the stores. It will definitely go back to normal once exercise returns to normal.

  • Emmanuelle May 31, 2010, 9:45 am

    I really like your approach to on exercise, nutrition, life! I love your dedication to training for big events but also the fact that you know when to cut back and let life rule 🙂

    When my schedule is busy I do tend to feel guilty about not exercising, it’s true, but I listen more and more to my body and take it easy waiting for my planning to get lighter. I also realized that on the day I don’t exercise much, I eat less, which completely makes sense, so putting on weight is not really an issue.

    Great post!

  • Retta @ RunRettaRun May 31, 2010, 9:45 am

    I admire the “real” post as well. 🙂 Cutting back will be a nice mental break for you. Also, you are one traveling fool! 😉

    I’m interested to know how you trained yourself for speed when running. I would love to get faster. I remember you mentioned you either train for distance or speed but not at the same time. Any tips on getting faster? Have a great day!

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 9:48 am

      There’s tons of stuff on speedwork on I never did anything complicated, just do 3 mile runs with 8 sets of .25-mile sprints. 🙂

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg May 31, 2010, 9:47 am

    I would be glad for the break too– you had a crazy race season! Enjoy the rest (relatively speaking, that is. I know your life is crazy right now!), girl!

  • Marieke May 31, 2010, 9:50 am

    I agree, exercise should stay fun and fit around your life. I honestly don’t know how you did so much running, cycling etc around your jobs. It’s incredible! And I’m glad you mentioned that you don’t need to exercise to the extreme to maintain a healthy weight, very important!

  • Jessica May 31, 2010, 9:55 am

    Last week I decided to take a break from walking…been doing it for five years and woke up realizing I was doing it because i felt i had to, not because I wanted to….
    MY body in the last week has said thank you…I think I am getting more sleep soundly…and my legs are not as tired….

    I think i might try something new in a few months…maybe yoga…but right now just a BREAK is what i need…

    and not feel gulity about it….

    Cat…you are AMAZING

  • Marissa May 31, 2010, 9:57 am

    That’s a great and healthy mindset to have. You deserve a break; you’ve been working so hard for so long! I agree with you completely; if I don’t feel like I have MORE energy after a workout (besides for my really killer ones), then I know its time to change something.

  • Krystina May 31, 2010, 10:09 am

    You’re such a great role model.

  • Kalli@fitandfortysomething May 31, 2010, 10:11 am

    Caitlin, I love your healthy approach to weight and working out! You really are a positive example and roll model. Thank you!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is May 31, 2010, 10:11 am

    Love it. Maintenance has to be REALISTIC. So many people don’t get that.

  • Lauren May 31, 2010, 10:23 am

    I agree with you 110%, Caitlin!! Maintenance doesn’t mean slaving away at the gym for hours at a time, it just means being able to balance eating healthy food and having a moderate exercise schedule.
    Where’d you find the Vega smoothie mix? I’ve never seen it anywhere around here 🙁
    Can’t wait to hear about the house search….!!

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 10:30 am

      oh it was a sample! i forgot to note that in the post. will add.

  • Helen May 31, 2010, 10:23 am

    This is a great post and very useful too. It’s great that you are looking forward to trying new exercises and not stressing out about not exercising as much as usual.
    I need to adopt this attitude and realise that having a few ‘quiet’ weeks every now and again is ok!
    I hope you have a great time in Charlotte – good luck house hunting. Can’t wait to see the places you like!

  • Amber May 31, 2010, 10:30 am

    Good luck house hunting!

    I totally agree with you on this post, I don’t even know how you train for the number of events that you do! One major event a year is enough for me – it’s physically and MENTALLY hard to do so much training!

  • Kellie May 31, 2010, 10:30 am

    great post! I am trying to cut back too, and even though I know I need to, it is still hard to do.

  • Cassie @ A Very Busy Mind May 31, 2010, 10:38 am

    Caitlin, I love the way you’re able to stay so grounded and realistic when it comes to exercise and weight (especially when you’re going through such a stressful period in your life!). As you’ve been told several times before, you are such an inspiration.

    Also, just catching up on your last few posts…totally agree with the whole “the college years are the BEST years of your life” thing. Sometimes, I get so sad that I’ll never be able to go back to that time. Aw well. Gotta be grown ups now, right? boooooooo. 😉

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope May 31, 2010, 10:47 am

    How come people gain more fat than muscle during marathon training? Is it just because you’re eating more, etc?

  • Kathryn May 31, 2010, 10:52 am

    good luck house hunting! I love charlotte and hope to end up there eventually!!!

  • Kristine May 31, 2010, 10:53 am

    Oh, I so need this post now. I literally haven’t taken a break from exercise in like 3 years. I run basically 4-5 miles 6 days a week! I’m on vacation now and really enjoying myself and don’t want to stress about not exercising! It’s nice so far! 🙂

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly May 31, 2010, 11:11 am

    Goodluck house hunting! Charlotte is a beautiful city!! 🙂

  • Jenna (Hello, I Love You) May 31, 2010, 11:13 am

    This post is really timely for me. I am in the middle of my second career change and lately, I just can’t seem to find the desire to workout. Plus, I don’t want to force it and then start resenting exercise. So now, I just do the occasional yoga or barre class and I feel really good because I am feeling fulfilled in other aspects of my life (new business). I wasn’t like that before though. I would have beat myself up for not doing enough but really I have to thank blogs like yours for showcasing such grounded perspectives on body image. They have really helped to change my thinking. Thanks Caitlin, you really are an inspiration!

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter May 31, 2010, 11:17 am

    I love your tidbit about maintenance weight. I’m currently working on holding that weight. I realized that I actually have a very similar stance on it. This week I was busy working on a project for school 9 hours every day. I wasn’t moving as much, plus I was sick. I’m a couple pounds over that weight, but I’m not fretting. I know once I resume my normal exercise level I will be fine.

  • Jessica @ Jessica Balances May 31, 2010, 11:20 am

    This post was really helpful; people keep asking me if I’ve gained back the freaking five pounds I lost while training for a half marathon and I’m like, WHO CARES! It’s five pounds! – Rant over – I appreciate your healthy attitude about weight, Caitlin, and am thankful you offer such a strong reminder to not obsess about such things.

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 11:23 am

      TRUTH – obsession sucks. go you!

  • Danielle (Runs on Green) May 31, 2010, 11:25 am

    I totally agree- if anything, long/high-endurance training makes you more susceptible to weight-gain. I think weight maintenance comes down to 85% diet, 15% exercise…which is why you should ENJOY exercise and not be using it soley as a tool to keep your weight in check!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople May 31, 2010, 11:30 am

    “Guilt is a drug” is one of my favorite posts of yours. You have such a strong and healthy mind-set that is incredibly inspiring! I love it!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) May 31, 2010, 11:37 am

    Thank you for addressing it! I love that you are okay with getting back to less stressful schedule for your sanity as you have a lot on your plate. It shows adjusting is key to being healthy.

  • Lisa May 31, 2010, 11:44 am

    This is actually something I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve been an exercise fiend for several years now. Sometimes I think about taking a break. The unknown part keeping me from taking a break is: if I stop, will I be able to start again?

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 12:12 pm

      yes you will 🙂 you’ll want to get back into it after a while. i think the key is just to cut back, not fall completely off the wagon (which isnt healthy anyway!)

  • KatieTX May 31, 2010, 11:48 am

    I took a short 3 day hiatus from exercise and it was great!! I am ready to go again today!!

  • cyndie May 31, 2010, 11:49 am

    excellent post, caitlin.

    I ran a marathon last year, and all last year (even before marathon training) I was running about 50 miles a week. After my marathon I definitely cut down, and I’m really happy with my routine now. I definitely gained weight during my training (7 lbs?) and it all came off after I stopped training and got into a more laid-back routine.

  • Christina May 31, 2010, 11:50 am

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. It is exactly what I needed. I had a text from a friend this morning that said “READ CAITLIN’s POST!” lol. I get frustrated because I exercise and train so hard and I am no thinner (in fact I am a few pounds heavier) than when I was only doing moderate exercise and perhaps this is the answer. Maybe I just need to accept the weight I am and cut down the exercise and see what happens. thanks for the post!

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 12:11 pm

      hahah thank you!

      i think accepting the weight you are at and focusing more on HEALTH is soooo important. it was very freeing for me personally.

  • ~Jessica~ May 31, 2010, 11:54 am

    Thanks so much Caitlin ~ I’m injured at the moment and finding it so difficult to get over the guilt of not being able to exercise having maintained a 70-80 mile week for the past year. I’m terrified of gaining weight and also I’m feeling worthless compared to every other blogger who appears to be training for something all the time, the distances becoming ever longer and the races becoming more extreme.

    I sometimes wonder whether there isn’t an overly competitive element to these endurance events and it’s important to know when to stop. You have nothing to prove to anyone with regard to fitness and you’re setting such a brilliant example by not becoming totally obsessive and saying that you have to push further and further…sometimes, it seems like a marathon suddenly isn’t enough, then an Iron Man isn’t enough, and before you know it people are running 50 miles or more and putting themselves at serious risk of their bodies breaking down. I’ve learned that the hard way.

    Your observations about training and weight are so interesting ~ I really, really hope this applies to me as well…

    Thanks again and enjoy Memorial Day!


    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 12:10 pm

      i agree but for me (personally, can’t speak for other bloggers of course), it’s just a matter of being competitive with myself. you get to the point where paying for shorter races seems like a ‘waste of money.’ LOL it’s insane how warped you get when you’re training for long races!

      take a few weeks off… 70 to 80 miles a week is a lot. you might get injured. rest is sooooooooooo important.

      • ~Jessica~ May 31, 2010, 2:13 pm

        Thanks Caitlin ~ I wasn’t referring to you at all, just a bit of a trend I’ve noticed!

        And I am actually injured at the moment (ruptured hamstring tendon) so that’s what has forced me to take a break. I was pretty much at rock bottom when I read this post and it pulled me back up again, hence the long but badly articulated comment lol 😉

  • Amanda Adams May 31, 2010, 12:00 pm

    Good for you, Caitlin. It takes a really strong mentality to not freak out over gaining five pounds.

    Good luck with your to-do list.


  • kate May 31, 2010, 12:20 pm

    I love the focus on health instead of weight. Its so important. You have such positive attitudes about these kind of things 🙂 Enjoy your weekend.

  • Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) May 31, 2010, 12:24 pm

    Happy Memorial Day!!

    I don’t think it’s necessary to be extremely active all the time. Just like with food, it’s all about the balance. 🙂


  • Camille May 31, 2010, 12:29 pm

    As long as you do something physically active then you are doing great!

  • Michal May 31, 2010, 12:44 pm

    I also want to thank you for this post. I’m at the very beginning – week 3 of 5k training – and I’m still on constant alert for slips into obsession/overdoing it after years of making that habit (and trying to stop obsessing over the bizarre ups and downs my weight is doing as I train). I will keep this post in mind… a reminder to just focus on how my body feels, not what a scale says or the voice in the back of my mind.

  • Susan May 31, 2010, 12:55 pm

    It is SO important to have periods of lighter activity. Even professional athletes have on and off seasons. It’s unrealistic and dangerous to push our bodies to the max 365 days a year. Thanks for addressing this 🙂

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing May 31, 2010, 12:55 pm

    Great post! You shouldn’t feel guilty at all for cutting back! You are an amazing athlete but everyone deserves a break, it’s good for your body!

  • BostonRunner May 31, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Funny you should post this today. I just ran a half marathon and I couldn’t be more ready to take a break! I think training and preparing for this half has given me a new perspective on exercise, I really don’t think you need to go crazy with exercise. It should be fun and something you do to make yourself feel good. I plan to mix it up more from here on out – like more yoga!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit May 31, 2010, 1:57 pm

    Thanks for writing about this, Caitlin! I have been wondering about your decrease in exercise but didn’ ask about it. Good job being level-headed and healthy about everything 🙂

  • Jackie (Peaces of Earth) May 31, 2010, 4:42 pm

    You’re so right on. I’m training for a marathon right now and honestly can’t even imagine jumping right into training for a triathlon then for a century!! No one thinks about it, but it’s so easy to gain weight while training for a huge endurance event. Yeah, you’re working out for hours upon hours, but you have to eat A LOT (or what feels like a lot compared to normal) to maintain any sort of energy. I’m looking forward to the break as I’m sure you are. You deserve it! Good luck with the house hunting. 🙂

  • maria @ Chasing the Now May 31, 2010, 5:52 pm

    Love what you said about maintainance. I definitely agree!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) May 31, 2010, 6:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing your views Caitlin 🙂 I agree with your views re maintenance 🙂

  • Kath May 31, 2010, 8:44 pm

    Ooooo glad the Vega was good in oats – I’ll have to try that ASP!!

  • Zuzanka May 31, 2010, 9:46 pm

    What a strange coincidence and perfect timing!!! I gained a few pounds in the final weeks of marathon training and I would be lying if I said they don’t bother me..I just feel my best a little lighter, so I’ve been struggling a bit to accept that my body looks and feels the way it does right now because it’s ready to run those 26.2 miles and will get back to it’s usual self once the training is over. Anyways, I read your post where you mentioned this, but still didn’t feel very comfortable in my own skin. While out with some friends this afternoon, I went to the bathroom and saw an operation beautiful post-it on the mirror that said “you are powerful and beautiful”. It couldn’t have been worded or timed better..and by the way, I live in Baltimore, I’m not used to people spreading any kind of nice messages, so this was really really cool.

    • caitlin May 31, 2010, 9:53 pm

      how cool that you found a note 🙂 thank you!

  • Carol May 31, 2010, 11:50 pm

    It is such a mental thing…I just finished a marathon yesterday, and it’s one I’ve been training for since the beginning of January. With the running and my usual Boot Camp attendance, it just felt wrong to not go out and do anything tonight. Granted, my body would have totally given up on me if I had, and I am so looking forward to actually sleeping in on Sunday (first time since January!), I am itching to get back to doing something that makes me all sweaty. Looks like I’m addicted!
    Good luck house hunting! Find your dream.

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