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By Mark Haas

I was actually pretty good at math in high school. Turns out I should use it more as an adult. Simple math at least.

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Back when I was in college, a friend told me the best part about training for a marathon was that he could eat whatever he wanted. He even said he had to eat ice cream at night to make sure he got enough calories.

This incredibly awesome (but flawed) theory stuck in my head for years. Scroll down in my CBS4 bio and my hobbies are “Running and Eating (the first allows for more of the second).”

Problem was I never bothered to do the simple math when it came to calories burned vs. calories consumed.

CBS4's Mark Haas during a training run. (Credit CBS)

CBS4’s Mark Haas during a training run. (Credit CBS)

I have trained for two full marathons before, and both times I didn’t lose any weight, maybe even gained a little. The problem was I thought all the running I was doing gave me a blank check when it came to what I was eating.

I’d do a 15-mile run on a Saturday, burn maybe 1500-2000 calories, but then eat an entire pizza for lunch (1500-2000 calories). I’d also snack in the afternoon, and since I’d done such a long run I felt a burger and fries for dinner was well deserved. At the end of the day, the run I did had been more than canceled out by what I ate.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

And to make matters worse, I also ate whatever I wanted Monday-Friday, even if some days I only ran 3-5 miles.

My weight was at an all time high after the Super Bowl, fueled by months of poor eating and a lack of exercise.

Over the past couple of years though I’ve seen documentaries and read more about the traps we fall into with our food industry, and this spring as I got back into running, I also made my biggest commitment to a healthier diet.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Instead of pop tarts for an afternoon snack (yes I still ate like a 12 year old), I’ve tried to eat fruits and vegetables. If there is ice cream in the freezer I eat it, so I’ve stopped buying it (at least not every trip to the store anymore). I’ve started looking at health info on the food labels, and my goodness there is a lot of sugar in everything I like.

I still drink way too much soda, and eat too many desserts, but a few simple changes helped me drop about 20 pounds, and if I can get over the hurdle on a few more I think I can get down to the weight that I want.

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And maybe when I finish the half marathon on Sunday, I’ll only eat half a pizza this time.