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.

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