Tuesday, December 22, 2009

current goal = stop making goals

It's been one month since I set my three three-month goals: run faster, save money, and smile and laugh more.

I am smiling and laughing more. I am letting myself be more free and less chained to my workout and food regimes. Actually the food is not seeming like a regime now that I am used to it. I'm cooking new recipes all the time. My latest discovery is that you can pretty much cook any vegetable until it's soft and then puree it into a soup. This is good happy comfort food. I starting swimming again and am falling back in love with it. I'm not even looking at my watch, just moving through the water. I'm not using a workout plan, just going with how I feel each day. I got an iPhone and am having a blast playing with it. It's the ultimate swiss-army knife of all time. I'm reading fiction books and watching movies and playing music. I'm socializing. It's been a long time since life has been this stress-free.

Saving money. Yes, my bank account is growing. Saving money feels kind of like being on a diet. When I want to buy something that is at all a luxury, I think to myself - do I really need that? Then I envision my future house to make that decision.

Running faster. Hmmm. Not sure. My hip is injured right now and I haven't run in a week. I know all this rest is a good thing. I can't remember the last time I did not have muscle soreness or some ache and pain so it is really a novelty to feel this fresh. It may end up being one step back to take two steps forward with running this winter.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Captain Vegetable

This is my theme song.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

i didn't want the bread

Last night was the season finale of The Biggest Loser tv show. Liz, one of the contestants and finalists, said that during the first week she told the producers that she wanted to go home because she didn't think she could do it. She didn't think she could handle the grueling 6-8 hours of working out per day that the contestants do in order to drop around 100 pounds or more in 12 weeks. The producers wouldn't let her leave the show. She said that she struggled a lot for the first few weeks but by week 4 she got into her groove and realized that she could do it. She made it to the end of the show. What an amazing and empowering feeling to have that realization that your goal is attainable.

It struck a chord with me, because that is exactly how I feel about this whole Paleo diet and leaning out thing I am doing. I wanted to quit on the second day but I didn't. I had many doubts in the first two weeks. Now I am in week 5 and I feel confident that I can keep up my modified Paleo eating plan indefinitely. I like how I am eating and see no need to go back. I don't even want the cheat meal that Crystal, my nutritionist, told me I should have. I ordered a sandwich without bread yesterday and didn't even miss the bread. Yes seriously, I DIDN'T EVEN WANT THE BREAD.

In just one month I have come a long way. I eat less and am starting to let go of childhood baggage about needing to hoard food when I can get it in case I don't get enough. I will get enough. There is plenty of food and I trust myself to get what I need. I no longer have the low blood sugar light-headed hunger episodes that make me panic in my state of dizziness. True hunger is the stomach rumbling kind and I honor that. Stomach rumbling hunger is not an instant mood emergency that requires me to stop what I am doing to get food. I am no longer a slave to carbs.

I have lost three pounds (putting me at 140 and 5'8") and I feel good. I have energy for my workouts and am running as fast as ever.  In fact, I ran my track repeats at a 6:25/mile pace today which I think is pretty much the fastest my legs have ever gone. I am on the path.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

30 days of Paleo

Tomorrow is day 30 of eating Paleo. It's been a long journey in those 30 days. I started this as Paleo with Zone portions, had a lot of experimentation in the middle, and am ending it as Paleo plus gluten-free grains and no Zone. I have tried some things that don't work for me, tried some things that work very well, and had some surprising realizations about my digestive system along the way.

1. Gluten-free is the way to go even if I can tolerate gluten. 
I had a hard time giving up grains in the beginning, but now when I eat them I notice that I feel a little bloated and gassy. I was so used to that feeling before that I never noticed it because that was how I felt after every meal. The more grains I eat at a meal now, the worse I feel. This really surprises me. Gluten-free grains like quinoa, cornmeal, and brown rice seem to be better than stuff with wheat. Even oatmeal feels kind of yucky if I eat more than a very small amount at once.

I don't want to give up grains completely because I feel like my workouts and recoveries are better when I am incorporating small amounts of them. This is one area where I'm not going to be 100% Paleo.

2. Fat!
Doing the Zone portions forced me to incorporate more fat. This made me realize that I was hardly eating any fat at all before. Now I eat nuts, seeds, and avocados on a regular basis, usually a small amount with every meal. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, nut butters, Sunbutter(!), and homemade tahini dressing, and mashed avocado mixed with hot sauce are some of my new favorites.

3. Focus less on food and more on living
I have become very much in tune with the fact that a lot of my extra eating was happening when I was bored, lonely, or stressed. The Zone forced me to eat so much less food than I was used to that I learned how to spread it out through the day so I would last until bedtime. I learned that I can survive on a lot less than I thought I needed.

Although I will always love food, I am learning to stop having my life revolve around it and doing other things instead. I eat and then get out of the kitchen. When I think I want food, I do a quick body check-in - am I hungry or is it really something else? There are a lot of times when it is something else. As an alternative I drink some water, make tea, or have a piece of gum.

What am I doing to fill my time that I used to spend eating? Reading, sleeping, playing cello, learning the didgeridoo, working extra, exploring new trails in Austin, or just relaxing and enjoying quiet peaceful time.

My diet is always a work in progress but these 30 days were a great experience. I am happy with all I have learned about types of foods to eat and portions. I feel like I am back on track with my diet and am in a much better place with food in my head. I'll continue to eat this way but you know, it's just food :)  Now that this is in the bag, onto my running goals.

Friday, November 27, 2009

it's just food

It's just food. It's what keeps us going through the day. It's just that and yet so much more. As I have been paying so much attention to my food and trying to optimize it, I have come to realize that it may be time to stop thinking so much. Stop overthinking, eat what I know works, and let go of all the rigid rules.

I have tried out many different types of food plans in the last 2 years: vegetarian, vegetarian plus fish, omnivore, vegan, vegan gluten-free, vegan plus fish, paleo, zone. There are good and bad things about all of them. One could take nearly any food group and come up with equal amounts of research both praising and condemning: meat, grains, cooked food, fish, etc. Pretty soon, the only thing that is safe and environmentally friendly to eat is raw spinach that you grew in your own backyard. The bottom line is that we have to eat, and we just have to weigh all the conflicting the information and go with what sounds like the most logical argument.

I cycle between all these different types of diets and have trouble landing on one that I want to stick with. What is up with that? I think the issue is that all of them are rigid and restricting in some way, whether it's type of food or quantity. I was eating vegan and then I switched to paleo to add meat and now I am thinking that I would rather switch back to vegan. Couldn't that also be my body telling me that it wants both meat and grains, and that neither vegan or paleo are right for me?

I have come to the conclusion that the key to a successful healthy diet is mindful balanced moderation. Ah yes, like so many things in life it's not a simple black and white solution. I have learned a lot from trying out the Paleo diet and I will likely incorporate much of this in my ultimate food plan.  In fact, I plan to take the best of all of the diets and combine them. Here's my best of list:

1. Eat as many vegetables as I want
2. Eat a variety of fruit, preferably around workouts
3. Fuel workouts with whole foods, no processed bars or gels
4. Choose gluten-free grains, eat more of these on long workout days
5. Eat lean turkey or fish most days
6. Eat eggs once in a while, mostly whites
7. For dairy, stick to Greek yogurt and only as a treat
8. Eat nuts on a regular basis
9. Every meal should be balanced with protein, carbs, fat
10. Eat when I'm hungry and stop before I'm full
11. Have a cheat meal every once in a while and enjoy it

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

thankful for my CSA veggies

I just recently joined a CSA in Austin for the first time.  Johnson's Backyard Garden CSA (community supported agriculture) membership means that you pay ahead to get a box of seasonal, fresh, local, organically grown vegetables on a regular basis. How it works is every two weeks I stop by the pickup location in my neighborhood and get an amazing and huge assortment of random stuff. Today my box came with spinach, eggplant, salad greens, hot and mild peppers, kohlrabi, rainbow chard, celeriac, mustard greens, tomatoes, and other things that I don't know the names of. I supplement with a few things from the store, but this lasts me almost the whole two weeks.

Here's my veggies from last week.

One thing I really like about it is that I never know what I am going to get. Each week I get to try things that I wouldn't normally buy and I have to figure out ways to use them, so I come up with new recipes. I am completely overwhelmed with the greens this week, and I'm going to seriously have to work hard to eat them all. This year I am extra thankful for vegetables and programs like this CSA that make it easy for me to get them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

dirty du off-road half marathon: mud mud mud

My Dirty Du Souvenirs:
3rd place prizes - Clif bars and race mug
Muddy wet shoes

Today I did the Dirty Du Off-Road Half Marathon. This was the longest trail race I have ever done and my second one. It rained all day yesterday and was still drizzling this morning so the course was nice and muddy. Really muddy with the kind of mud that sticks to your shoes and makes them feel like weights attached to your feet. Peanut butter mud. The course, at the Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville Texas, was non-stop undulating hills for a very challenging run.

Besides the mud, the trail was a river of water for much of the way, not to mention there had to be at least 30 water crossings within the 13 miles. At first I tried to jump all the crossings to keep my feet dry, but it didn't take long to realize that my feet weren't going to stay dry. I couldn't jump all of them and landed right in the middle a few times. From then on I came to the conclusion that I may as well just run straight through them with no attempt to stay dry. The cold water rushing into my shoes (and up to my ankles sometimes) felt refreshing. I was lucky that I didn't get any blisters from this. For a lot of the race I was running alone in the woods, with no reminders that it was actually a race event. I enjoyed the peaceful surroundings and had fun.

Finishing in a time of 2:12, I was moving slow by road race standards but it was super-technical and my mind had to constantly stay alert to stay on course and to navigate the terrain. I came in as the 3rd overall female finisher.

I ate Paleo before and after the race (dried fruit, apple, paleo turkey burrito), but had a Clif mojo bar and some Skittles while running. I didn't want to test dried fruit during a race in case of any GI issues and I know the processed sugar stuff works for me. I did my best to stay Paleo and in the ballpark of reasonable Zone quantities today, even though after a tough race I have a tendency to be really hungry and eat a lot. My Zone stats for the day came out to 17.5 protein, 23 carb, 19 fat. That's quite a bit more food than I ate in Week 1 and 2 of this diet, however it's less than I would have eaten on a day like today before I was paying closer attention to quantity. The key food lesson I learned today is that a tough workout is reason to eat a little extra, but not an excuse to binge.

Friday, November 20, 2009

3 month goals

I went to a goal-setting workshop last night at Crossfit Central. Since I'm in the off-season this the best time to sit down and figure out what I want to accomplish in the coming year. I am on a continuous path to athletic improvement, but what about the rest of my life? Where is that going? This workshop made me aware that I really should be setting some goals for myself outside my athletic life - financial, personal, etc. We did a lot of free-writing, brainstorming, thinking about what our lives would look like in our dream scenarios... our dream scenarios with no voices inside telling us that those things aren't possible.

If you want to achieve something you have to have absolute and complete belief that it can and will happen.

We each narrowed down our long uncensored lists to three things that we would like to see happen in the next three months. Then for each one, we wrote down why this goal had to be accomplished in that time. The deadline for these goals and next goal setting workshop: February 18, 2010.

My three goals are:

1. Run Faster.  I love running and I want to see how fast and how far I can go with it. In the next three months: Run a 1:35 at the 3M half marathon in January and a 1:33 at the Austin half in mid-February. All my diet-tweaking and workout plans need to focus on accomplishing this.

2. Start Saving Money to Buy a House. I have a specific goal for an amount that must be in my savings account on Feb 18. I have been thinking about the house-buying thing for a while, but now it's time to get down to business and actually save up the down payment.

3. Laugh and Smile More.  I tend to get very serious and intense and inwardly focused. I forget to lighten up and smile and enjoy life with a light heart. I feel healthier and happier when I take the time to appreciate the nice parts of life.
Some things I plan to do are:
- every day make at least one stranger smile
- when I make my food log each day, write down one thing I am grateful for
- watch more funny movies and/or funny YouTube videos. get a good belly laugh on a regular basis.
Once I get the ball rolling with this I think it will get to be more natural and less of a to-do list item.

Week 3 Reboot... and the Paleo burrito

Week 2 did not go well, and so here we are at week 3. It's time to reboot this nutrition plan to be something that doesn't torture me. The main thing that wasn't working was eating foods in Zone quantities was leaving me with a sense of deprivation and lots of guilt and anger around food. This week I can eat as much as I need to in order to feel good, while sticking with Paleo foods. Here are the guidelines:

1. Paleo foods: vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, seeds, eggs

2. I can make compromises on non-Paleo and high-glycemic carbs immediately before, during, and after my workouts. If I am going to eat fruit or grains, that's when I should do it

3. Log my food and make sure I am getting enough protein

That's it. I feel a lot of stress gone already and have had a much smoother day without obsessing over when/how much I get to eat next. Tomorrow I am running a trail half-marathon and now I can eat my extra carbs tonight with no stress.

Paleo Invention of the Day: Paleo Burrito
Take one large collard green leaf and put it flat on a plate. Put deli sliced turkey breast on it (4 oz is good). Add shredded cabbage, spinach, and whatever other raw veggies you have. Top with 1/2 an avocado and Sriracha hot sauce. Wrap the collard green around it like a tortilla and voila! A Paleo burrito!  Deeee-licious!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Ok, I'm deep in week 2 of Paleo/Zone and here is my food log from yesterday:

7am: 2/3 c. oatmeal, 4 egg whites + 1 egg, 9 walnut pieces
8a-4p: 4 oz turkey, 3 oz tempeh, 24 pieces walnut/pecan, 1 sweet potato, 1 small apple (grazed on this all day at work)
4:20p: 3 oz tuna
4:45p: 5 cups spinach and greens, 1 1/2 cups okra, 2 cups cabbage, 6 oz tofu, 5 tbsp avocado (yummy delicious big! vegan! meal)
7:45p: Mixture of nuts and shredded coconut flakes, 1 oz turkey, 2/3 cup oatmeal
ZONE BLOCK TOTALS: 15 protein, 12 carbs, 24 fat

This was a rest day, so I did no exercise and was ok on this amount of food. I got pretty hungry by the end of the work day but made it home and had the tuna snack immediately while I prepared my real meal.

Today was a normal workout day with a one hour intense run and crossfit workout and didn't go so well for eating. I am having some serious doubts about this diet, particularly the Zone part.

Doubt #1:  When I do endurance workouts and need carbs before, during, and after the workout I use up almost all of my 12 carbs for the day, which means that I am unable to have any additional veggies for the rest of the day. Also, I don't like to use my glutamine recovery supplement (Hammer Recoverite) anymore because I would have to waste too many carbs on it for zero eating pleasure. Silly. My old diet had at least 500 calories more veggies per day, great for anti-oxidants and reducing inflammation. Since my family has young-age cancer genes, I need all the veggies I can get right now.

Doubt #2:  I have basically replaced beans, quinoa, brown rice, and sprouted grains with meat and eggs. Not only is that an environmentally unsustainable way to eat, I am no longer getting all the nutrients and fiber. As far as I'm concerned, meat and eggs are merely nutrient-free blobs of protein that are high in cholesterol. I am now getting less nutrients and less fiber than before. Regularity has become a problem. How is this good?

Doubt #3:  I am seriously struggling with the fact that this is taking all the pleasure out of food, previously one of my main sources of pleasure in life. The portions are so small and sometimes I would almost rather not eat at all than have a tiny portion and have to fight myself to not eat more. Physiological distress reduces weight loss anyway so I wonder if it is even worth putting myself through this?  Anyone ever heard of orthorexia? Obsessive-compulsiveness about eating healthy foods, tending towards not eating enough. This diet seems to be setting me up for that and I can definitely see how that type of mindset forms.

Bottom Line:
I am committed to doing this for 30 days. I would like to lose about 5 more pounds of fat. After that, I am leaving myself open to the option of switching back to vegan and eating high fiber unlimited veggies again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week 2 - Figuring out natural foods during long workouts

I've definitely leveled-out this week. I'm not hungry all the time and feel better overall. Saturday I went on a 3 hour trail run/walk and I ran about half of it. I went to Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville, TX and explored the mountain bike trails. It's beautiful single track, both hilly and flat. Next weekend there is a trail half marathon there, and I was also actually checking out the course for that.  Thumbs up - definitely going to do it :) Sunday I rode my bike for 2:30 and did some intense hill repeats on Mesa Dr. here in Austin. I was amazed how strong my legs were on that hill since I've really only been practicing hills in spin class for the past 6 months.

As part of Paleo, I'm trying to transition to more natural energy sources while working out... i.e. gels and sugary processed bars are out.  So far Larabars and apples are working well. I'm excited to try some other things to see if they are just as good as the processed stuff. I went to the store and got dates, raisins, and dried apples to test out next weekend. I'd much rather use whole foods for re-fueling anyway and have only used the gels out of convenience.

One difficulty I'm having is that when I work out in the neighborhood of 2-3 hours, I need a significant amount of carbs during and immediately around the workout in order to make it through. However, with the Zone prescription I am on of only12 carb blocks per day, almost all my carbs are used during the workout and then there are none left to use on veggies in post-workout meals and meals later in the day. I consider the veggies key to recovery and getting anti-oxidants to reduce stress. On long workout days, it really doesn't seem possible to limit myself to 12 carb blocks. 16 is the minimum I was able to do and even then I felt like I was skimping on what I needed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Starting week 2. More fat = better attitude.

I made it through the first week and feel good about that. It was hard. The only cheat I had was a granola bar, and I didn't even really want it so I'm not sure what I was thinking. I am less hungry than when I first started and have evened out around a 15 block Zone. I feel a little low on energy but good overall. Not once this week have I felt weighted down or sluggish after a meal.

I met with Crystal yesterday and for the next two weeks she has switched me to a 15/12/24 protein/carb/fat block ratio. Basically, I am decreasing my carbs a little and increasing my fat. Today is the first day of that, and wow, all that fat really makes a difference. I am aiming for 4/3/6 block meals. I was able to make it from 8:30am-noon without being hungry at all. That is unheard of for me. I am eating lunch as I write this and am actually happy about my lunch:  2 1/2 cups steamed veggies (cabbage and greens), 2 oz turkey, 4 oz tofu, 6 tbsp avocado. That's almost a whole avocado.

With more fat allowed, I can eat more nuts and more almond butter too. This is such a relief because I don't need to be constantly fighting hunger this way.  I am motivated for week 2 and am excited to get a little more creative with trying out new recipes. I joined Johnson's Backyard Garden CSA and just got my first box of veggies this week so I have lots of new things to try.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 5. The worst is over.

I am getting into a routine where I eat a lot of the same foods over and over. Hmmm. And a lot of meat. A lot. Overall I am feeling better than I have been in the last 4 days. My energy is coming back and I am not completely starving all the time, though I am never truly full. I am able to function in life and do workouts on this. My run today was good. It amazes me how quickly I have gotten used to eating literally HALF as many calories as I was eating before.  My only vice in life now is oatmeal, which really isn't too bad :)

Changing my diet like this is bringing up childhood issues about food and sticking points that I have held onto for a long time. Coming out of a past where food deprivation was an issue, I am able to reverse that psychologically by eating a lot as an adult and then justifying it by working out a lot. With this diet, the portion sizes are small but I am becoming very aware of the basics of what my body truly needs outside of any mental hooks I have. I am forced to comfort myself in ways other than with food, ultimately with things that are more therapeutic anyway. There has been a wall holding me back from getting to the next level of performance and I think these issues are it. 

Today's food log:
7:30am: 1 egg+4 whites, 1 cup oatmeal, 9 almonds
10:00am: 12 almonds, 1 sweet potato
11:30am: 6oz tilapia, 1 small apple
1:15pm: 4 cups spinach, 4 oz turkey
4:00pm: 1 cup oatmeal, 1 tsp almond butter
*5:30-7:30pm: 5.5 mile run (44min), Crossfit class
6:30pm: 6 almonds
8:00pm: 4 cups spinach, 2 cups broccoli, 1/2 cup salsa, 4 oz turkey
9:00pm: 3 tbsp avocado, 1 small apple
ZONE TOTALS:  15 protein, 14 carb, 14 fat

Monday, November 09, 2009

Day 4. Solid.

Every day is a little easier. Today I managed my food well and ended up with a solid 14 block day and only mild hunger, no bonking. I talked with a friend at the gym that told me that my adaptation to Paleo/Zone may be like an adaptation to the "Master Cleanse"... first couple of days are rough with detox but then you feel great. Today one way I managed my hunger was by drinking water with lemon juice during work. That stuff really fills me up and tastes more interesting than regular water. Since that's the only thing you can eat during the master cleanse, there really may be some parallel going on.

Another note to self, I should not write blog posts during a bonk as I did last night. No doubt they are going to come up really negative and cranky. Ha.

Today's Food Log:
7am: 1egg+4 whites, 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 9 almonds.
10am: 6 oz turkey, 12 almonds
1:00pm: 1 1/2 sweet potato, 2 tbsp avocado, 1 small apple
3:30pm: 3/4 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 6 walnut pieces.
5:15-6:30pm: Spin class with lots of hill work, tough workout but felt well-fueled.
6:45pm: 1 small apple
7:15pm: 4 cups kale, 2/3 cup onion, 2 cups cabbage, 4 oz. tilapia, 1 tsp almond butter.
ZONE TOTALS: 14.5 protein, 14.5 carb, 14 fat

I am still fine-tuning this thing but I tend to eat all the same foods all the time.  Fruits are only supposed to be eaten around workouts, veggies are always good but I'm not always in the mood for them, so that leaves basically sweet potatoes and the "unfavorable" oatmeal as my only carb possibilities.  It's not easy to go overboard on carbs with this plan. It's very easy to go overboard on fat though... who can get out the almond butter and just eat 1 teaspoon? Seriously.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Third day. Better but still starving.

This is day 3. The day started out ok but it's evening now and I am struggling. I am starving. I am sick of meat and greens. I am dying for a normal meal with normal size portions where I feel a satisfying full. I want to learn how to get by on less food. I want to be healthy. This transition hurts as much as the peak of Ironman training or the last 6 miles of the Ironman run. This is an endurance event in accepting hunger pain and fighting through. Emotionally it is hard. Here's today's log.

7:45am: 2/3 cup oatmeal, 4 egg whites+1 egg, 2 cups spinach, 2/3 cup onion, 9 almonds. I felt empty but not starving when I woke up.

9:30am: 1/2 sweet potato. Fuel extra for the workouts.

10-11am:  Run 7 miles at Town Lake. 58:30. Solid effort and felt pretty good other than sore legs from all the recent crossfit workouts I have done.

11:15am: 1 small apple. In the car on the way to the gym.

12-1pm: Spin class. Intense intervals but I couldn't give it my 100% because I was starting to get very hungry and light-headed.

1pm: 1 small apple

2:00pm: 2 cups spinach, 3 oz turkey, 2 cups mixed veggies, 3/4 cup cottage cheese.

2:45pm: I am completely starving and my stomach hurts in a painful kind of way. I am really craving a full meal with some real carbs other than greens.

3-4pm: Nap. Making time go by....

4:30pm: 2 oz turkey, 2 tbsp avocado, 2/3 cup oatmeal. My stomach still hurt but this helped me feel better. The oatmeal gives me some comfort.

7:00pm: 3 tbsp avocado, 4 cups kale, 1/3 cup onion, 4 oz tilapia. I am pleasantly hungry but not in pain anymore.

7:30pm: Dinner is over and I'm already close to a 15 block day. My stomach is having those shooting pains again. I am at 1122 total calories. I have done 2 hours of intense cardio today. On this diet we are not supposed to be counting net calories but I can't help it... I'm at about 200 for the day.... is that even enough for normal organ functions? Is this what the carb detox is supposed to feel like? Is my body going to adapt or is it just going to shut down? I'm going to either lose a pound every two days or crash and burn on this diet. In order to get through this I am visualizing the lean body I want to have.  Dara Torres, Lisa Bentley, I see you in my mind. 10 minutes off my marathon time with no extra training, I see you in my mind.

9:00pm: 1 tsp almond butter, 1 grapefruit, 1 cup cottage cheese. I couldn't make it without a bedtime snack.

ZONE TOTALS TODAY: 19 protein, 14.5 carbs, 17 fat.

I have made it through the weekend but I am worried about the week. On the weekend I had free access to my kitchen at all times. I am scared to get caught in a situation where I am away from home and am completely bonked out feeling sick and I can't eat anything from any restaurant or cafe. Paleo meals are delicious but they take time to prepare. Other than 3 almonds, I have no idea what to grab in case of a "food emergency". I need to figure that out.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Day 2 - I can do this.

Today was much better than yesterday. I spread the food out more evenly and ate more overall. Every day is a work in progress. I have more confidence that I can do this.

8:30am: 2/3 cup oatmeal, 1 egg+ 4 whites, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 tsp almond butter. I felt hungry but ok waking up this morning.

9:30-10:30am: One hour trail run. Decent workout but I didn't feel fresh and my stomach was getting rumbly.

10:30am: 1 small apple. In the car on the way to the gym.

11-11:30am: Crossfit workout - DB snatch and pushups, then 100 situps. I was starting to get light-headed but made it through the workout.

11:45am: 1 cup mixed berries, 1 scoop protein, 9 almonds. Smoothie!

12:30pm: 2 cups spinach, 1 cup cabbage, 2/3 cup onion, 4 oz turkey, 3 tbsp avocado, 1 small apple.

4:00pm: 1/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 cup strawberries. Mid-afternoon bonk. I got caught away from home and not prepared with snacks. Mo put together this Paleo snack for me :)

6:00pm: 5 oz turkey, 2 cups spinach, 1 cup cabbage, 1 cup snowpeas, 1 sweet potato, 2 tbsp avocado, 6 almonds. Extra large dinner since I didn't eat much since lunch.

9:30pm: 2 tsp almond butter, 1 small apple, 2/3 cup oatmeal.

**Zone Total for the day: 15 protein, 17 carb, 16 fat **

I am happy I could get in a decent run today. I was hungry but not painfully so. I think I was still hungry from yesterday. My dinner and lunch was turkey cooked with a bunch of veggies and spices was totally delicious. Now that I've got almond butter in the house, it's hard too not eat too much. That stuff is amazing. I am going to have fun finding more new Paleo recipes to try.

Friday, November 06, 2009

day 1 paleo/zone sucked

I just finished my first day of eating Paleo/Zone and here's the report.

7am: 1 egg+ 4 egg whites, 2/3 cup oatmeal, 9 almonds.

7:30am: bike to work - 30 minute easy ride.

10am: 3oz turkey, 2tbsp avocado, 3 almonds.

11am: I am starting to get hungry but need to wait until 12:30.

12:10: 4 cups spinach, 2 cups mixed veggies, 9 walnut halves, 4.5 oz cod. I was so hungry I couldn't concentrate on work anymore. Had to eat early. This meal was big but not totally satisfying.

2:30pm: My stomach is rumbling and I am getting a mild headache from hunger.

2:52pm: Shooting pains in stomach and headache from hunger. Leaving work.

3pm: Bike home from work - 30 minute easy ride but I am working to hold it together to concentrate. So hungry. Lots of negative thoughts.

3:30pm: 1 cup blueberries, 1 scoop whey protein, 2/3 cup oatmeal.  This helped the hunger a little but it felt like just drinking a big glass of water to fill my stomach but not give any sustenance.

4pm: I don't know if I can make it to dinner. Taking a nap will make time pass. Nap 4-5:30.

5:30pm: Complete emotional meltdown. I am so hungry it hurts. I need food. Questioning goals. Questioning this extreme caloric restriction. Time to get online... internet research suggests that this 12 block Zone prescription is way too low for my body size and activity level. I feel better knowing that.

6pm: Small apple, 3 almonds. Snack while making more food.

7pm: 5 cups cooked cauliflower, 4 oz turkey. Ok, my stomach is full now.

9:12pm: I am starving again. The stomach pains are starting.

9:30pm: 1 sweet potato, 2 tsp almond butter. I am full and ready to have this food day be over.

Today's total:  14 blocks protein, 15 blocks carbs, 16 blocks fat.
I probably would have died on the calories in 12 blocks (960). I barely made it as is.

What I learned today is that jumping in to Zone and Paleo at the same time is too much change. It would be better to get a handle on Paleo first and then build Zone into it. I am not sure about eating this much meat and so many eggs (cholesterol and inflammation?) but I think I will learn to be ok without the grains as long as I can still have small amounts of oatmeal.

With Zone it is strange to have to measure and count how many veggies I eat. Usually I just call veggies free and don't worry about eating unlimited amounts. Also, the concept of 3 almonds as a serving seems silly... 3??  I couldn't do any real workouts on this little amount of food so I need to figure out a Zone block prescription that will work better.

Tomorrow I am going to try an 18 block day to see if it will support a normal weekend training routine. Today was day 1 and it did suck as predicted but I am ready to make day 2 better.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Going Paleo and facing fears

Amsterdam Marathon post-race meal....
the only food around: chicken sandwich and fries.
It was hard to eat well while traveling.

I finished up my 2009 training season with the Amsterdam marathon two weeks ago and am now in a "rest and recovery" phase. I put that in quotes because although I have cut back on running, I am now getting a chance to ride my bike again, and most excitingly for me, I am back at CrossFit hammering away on the strength workouts. It's also a great time for me to work on my diet since I am not as concerned with workout quality now. If I have any changes in energy levels, I can just roll with how I am feeling.

So, tomorrow I am starting the Paleo/Zone diet. For the past 18 months I have been experimenting with the amount of meat and dairy I eat to see how to optimize my body composition and performance. So far I have not been able to get below 19% body fat. A typical healthy clean omnivore diet with grains was good at first and then I started to gain weight. I saw huge performance gains when I switched to a vegan diet but then plateaued and began to go downhill after about 4 months. Neither of those diets were completely sustainable over the long-term for me.

CrossFit people swear by this Paleo/Zone combo thing, so that's my next plan of attack. It's a 40/30/30 carb/protein/fat ratio, with emphasis on fruits, veggies, nuts, and meat. It's actually going to be a lot like the Engine 2 vegan diet, except with meat and fish added. I'm choosing not to eat any dairy other than eggs.

The hardest thing about this for me is going to be cutting out the grains. Giving up my morning oatmeal is going to be a bit traumatic. This challenge feels almost more daunting to me than Ironman training. There is probably a reason I have done two Ironmans, but have never been able to optimize my diet. This is about facing my deepest fears and learning to be ok without the comfort that I am used to getting from certain foods. I am ready to do it. 100% or nothing.

Nutrition coach Crystal Nelson of CrossFit Central is going to keep me on track. She says the first three days will be very hard, the first week will be challenging, but after two weeks my body will be used to the change and I will start to see the benefits.