Confessions from a Personal Trainer: I love carbs

Where every week: I confess.

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Confession: I love carbs. I have always loved carbs. But they have not always loved me.

I think it really started when I figured out how to use the toaster and started making toast with peanut butter. Ahhhhh…..the melting of the peanut butter on the hot bread. YUM. That was my breakfast staple from the time I could learn how to push the bread down in the toaster until I graduated college.

Then when I learned to bake I realized there was a fantastic (and easy) recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies right on the oatmeal container. And what was better was if you cut the recipe in half, it made a perfect one person serving. Ha.

One of my distinct memories was from about the 6th grade when I was trying to be healthy. We had Snackwell’s mini chocolate chip cookies (anyone remember these beauties??) I would portion them out for my lunch because I was counting serving sizes but then I would cram another 5-10 in my mouth and truly believe that those didn’t count.

When I became more active and more interested in health, I started eating whole grains and whole wheat. Insert whole grain bread with peanut butter, whole grain english muffins, wheat bagels, whole wheat tortillas. And these foods lasted me through college and I saw no problem with them because I was extremely active, running marathons, going to class, working all day, etc.

Don’t worry – I was still making those cookies and my college roommate introduced me to the monster cookie recipe that I still use today!

Now the next part of this might be a little TMI (too much information). So if you get uncomfortable talking about stomach and bowel issues – scroll further on down.

Hindsight is 20:20. I’m going to give you a few examples of what changed my view on carbs.

  • I ran the Oklahoma City Marathon my senior year of college. I wanted so so so so so so badly to take a shower but I couldn’t because I was stuck on the toilet with such bad pooping problems.
  • When training for the Chicago Marathon, I would always eat about half a Papa Murphy’s take home pizza after a long run. I deserved it right??
  • While running a relay race, I spent half the night alternating from porta potty to porta potty because I had the worst stomach cramps and wanted so badly to poop – but couldn’t. (Weird – I had that same Papa Murphy’s pizza the night before).
  • So you might say – but all of those are exercise/extreme running related instances. Of course your stomach would have problems.
  • I give you every day of my adult life – BRAIN FOG. I thought I felt this way because I worked early, didn’t get enough sleep, but SERIOUSLY. I wanted to come home every day after work and take a nap. Some days the brain fog was so intense I would sit in the car when I got home and close my eyes for a few seconds.

I wasn’t willing to change my habits – I couldn’t possibly give up or change my carbs. I COULDN’T SURVIVE!!

Many of you have heard about my experience with a food sensitivity test. This is a blood test that measure how sensitive (not allergic) you are to foods. When I got the results back it was truly no surprise.

  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Yeast
  • Dairy
  • A few more random things.

So I instantly gave up all sources of wheat, gluten, and dairy. Crazy thing was my brain fog was instantly gone and my digestion issues (especially with exercising) cleared up.

A few months after that I ran the fastest half marathon I had ever done and I drank coffee, protein powder, and ate a few almonds right before. No carbs like I would normally have done.

Now I’m going to fast forward a bit here. I basically started associating giving up wheat and gluten with giving up carbs in general. Although I do love a french fry and always have.

I had great success – I lost some weight, I felt better, and I knew it was the perfect fit.

However, especially for women, when you are on a super low carb diet, it doesn’t always end well. It can be a wreck for your thyroid and other hormones.

If you have a lot of stress in your life (and remember – working out can be a stress) your body needs carbs to refuel and regenerate muscles and to support you.

Disclaimer – I am not a dietitian or a medical professional. I am relaying my experience and resources I have used. Please seek medical or professional help if needed.

What I have learned currently is that my body feels the best when I eat carbs – MODERATELY. I had been pretty low for awhile but have noticed that with the addition of a few sweet potatoes or regular potatoes or more starchy vegetables, I feel good. Especially when I focus these around my work outs. I also recently have noticed that having ice cream gives me major troubles …. if you know what I mean. So I have changed my weekly treat to a gluten free brownie or cookie and that is ok.

Lesson – carbs are necessary but how much your body needs is truly unique from person to person. Pay attention to how your brain, your gut, your energy levels feel and change it up. In my experience as a trainer, most (not all) people do not feel great on wheat or gluten. Experiment with nature’s sources of carbs – potatoes, starchy veggies, fruit and not manufactured carbs.


I would love to know -what kinds of carbs do you eat? How do you feel when you eat them??? Comment below and share.




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