Mind & Body



The Non-Diet Runner's Diet that Helped a Marathoner Drop 50 Pounds

Story from




Ben Kaplan

My name is Katie Rylance. I am a 43-year-old mother of four kids. I'm a wife to a husband who works various shifts, mainly nights. I'm a teacher, currently supplying grades K-12. I have every excuse in the book to not take care of myself, to not exercise, and to not eat right. And trust me, I tried that for years. But you know what? IF NOTHING CHANGES, NOTHING CHANGES.
In February of 2021, I was tired of being “tired.” I could not play with my kids without getting winded. I could not sleep on my back due to the pain. I had gained 50 pounds over the course of COVID and knew something had to change, but did not know where to start. For me, starting was looking myself in the mirror and being brutally honest. I was 185 pounds and on my 5 foot 4 inch frame, that was a lot. It was the heaviest I had been since I was pregnant. All the late nights, eating and drinking had caught up with me and I was devastated.
I bought a treadmill. I started walking. I would walk for 10 minutes and then would try again the next day. I did this over and over again until I built up to 30 minutes of walking. After a few months of this repetitive movement, I incorporated running. I would walk for a minute, run for a minute and I would do this for 10 minutes. After a few weeks, I would slowly build up the time I was running for, until I was no longer walking.
I was solely running.
Besides incorporating physical fitness into my life, I knew I had to change how I ate. I knew that I would have to cut calories because at the end of the day, it is simple: calories in, calories out. I couldn’t keep eating 4,000 calories a day, but do minimal to no exercise. At that rate, I would constantly be gaining. I download a free app on my phone (My Fitness Pal) and inputed my current weight, uploaded my ideal weight, and started logging every single thing I would eat during a day. I learned very quickly that I had been overindulging all the time and most of what I was eating was full of fats, sugars, and salts. No wonder I was constantly gaining weight.
After a year—yes a year—of doing this simple workout (running/walking mix) and logging every single thing I would eat, I signed up for my first 5K. I had always dreamed of running that distance since I was in high school, but never thought of myself as a runner and I never felt I was good enough to race. I knew if I wanted to push myself to the next level, I would have to put something on the calendar to work towards. Well, in July of 2022, I ran my first ever race, a 5K, in the time of 27 minutes.
I had never felt more accomplished in my life.
Since then, I have run numerous 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons, and the Chicago Marathon in October 2023. I am currently training for four spring races, one of them being the Toronto Marathon where I will be running the half.
I attribute a lot of my running journey success to my diet. I have always enjoyed food and felt I was a fairly healthy eater—pre-COVID that is. I ate fruits and vegetables, but would still dabble in some fast food and treats here and there. It hasn’t been until the last few months that I have really honed in what I am eating and how it affects me, physically and mentally. I am someone who suffers from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome.) If I eat too many fried foods, legumes, complex carbs, my stomach is in knots for days. Trust me, it is hard to avoid these foods, but I do my best.
I've learned that my body reacts well to a lot of green vegetables, fruits, high protein yogurts, proteins such as eggs and chicken, and grains. I'm the first to say I'm not a certified nutritionist. I'm someone who has researched about the foods she likes, and has found success through trial and error.
A typical day of eating for me will consist of three meals, with two or three snacks intertwined.
An Average Day on My Non-Diet Runner's Diet.
Immediately after I wake up:
1 glass of water with a scoop of electrolytes
1 cup of coffee with 2 scoops of collagen
Two pieces of sourdough bread with peanut butter and banana slices, raspberries, honey, and a mix of chia and flax seeds
2 scrambled eggs with cheese
Yogurt banana split with fruit, seeds, and honey.
Green smoothie
Protein yogurt with berries and granola
2 slices of rye sourdough bread
5 ounces of turkey breast
1 cheese slice
3 cucumber slices
3 grape tomatoes
Alfalfa sprouts
Tea with honey
Protein muffin
Bbq chicken, roasted potatoes, spinach, and broccoli.
As a family of six, I'm very aware of the price of groceries and that eating healthy may not always seem affordable. However, I have come to realize that it is. You have to be smart about your shopping. I buy most of my groceries at Walmart, but supplement here and there at Fortinos. There are amazing options everywhere that don’t cost a fortune.
One thing I have learned during my fitness journey and transformation is that FOOD IS FUEL. I eat to fuel my body. I do not eat to be skinny: I EAT TO BE STRONG.
Now that I have lost the weight and am maintaining a weight of roughly 130 pounds, I no longer count calories. I no longer have to be in a calorie deficit as my goal is no longer to lose. I went as far as to throw out my scale. For me, it's no longer about the number, rather how I feel. My goal is to feed my body with healthy foods in order to ensure it is able to produce for me—in this case, it is able to produce quality runs.

iRun logo

Article provided by iRun.

Find more articles HERE.

More Articles

iRun logo
5 Nutrition Facts to Fuel your Next Race