No, not just from the detox…since last October, my life has changed very much. October 3rd, to be exact.
I went to see Brandon for another training session, but it was weigh and measure day. Turns out, I had gained 1.8 pounds since the last weigh-in, and for me, that was my rock bottom. In my mind, I was working so much harder, avoiding some foods I used to eat all the time, and was so angry that I was gaining weight.
But I knew why. I just didn’t want to admit it. As I cried through the workout, Brandon gently suggested we discuss nutrition again. I agreed, but admittedly freaked out when he suggested I look at the Paleo guidelines as a starting place to choose things to change. It seemed overwhelming. No grains?? No more pre-made convenient ‘health’ foods? NO MORE SAMMICHES OR PIZZA?!?! WHAT KIND OF CRUEL WORLD IS THIS?!?! What did I do to deserve this heinous punishment?
But that day was the last day I ate a sandwich.
Dinner that night was the first meal of many that featured lean protein and veggies as the starring players, cooked without sauces – simply seasoned. I quit processed foods cold turkey. I never was a smoker, but I would guess the first three weeks of clean eating were akin to withdrawals that smokers, or even drug addicts, experience…except that you can’t just avoid situations that tempt you. You HAVE to eat. The first three weeks were painful. Literally. I had headaches and body aches and stomach cramps as my body re-learned how to properly handle food and rid itself of chemicals. I craved ALL THE THINGS and wanted to stab ALL THE HUMANS.
But the next month, when it was time to weigh and measure, I knew I had done the right thing. My body needed this. It was ready to shed pounds – it just needed the right fuel to do it. In that month, I lost 21.2 pounds, 7 inches and 2.5% body fat. Just by eating REAL food.
Since then, J-Derp has helped me tighten up my diet even more (soy and hummus took a hike, I started eating a cucumber a day, started watching portion size just a little bit more closely). That plus this detox has really gotten me in a good place with food.
Now, let’s get to the reality of it: I adore my cheats. Dinner out with friends, the occasional ice cream stop, a pizza night once in a great while…I won’t live without those things. And though I was roughly following the Paleo guidelines at the beginning, I still ate legumes and rice/quinoa every now and then. That’s a Paleo purist no-no, but I don’t give a rat’s ass. It was working for me at the time, so I made the changes I could as I went. I will absolutely still eat rice sometimes after the detox is over, because sushi is a food group and I want to make sweet sweet mouth love to a salmon avocado roll in the near future.
The reality is simple. Nutrition is personal. Paleo/Primal lifestyles offer great guidelines to eating. If it’s processed, covered in chemicals, bioengineered or full of hormones, it’s not something our bodies were created to digest. Food companies have carefully formulated ‘healthy’ foods bursting with addictive chemicals and fake sugars that actually just make us crave more of those things, or make us even hungrier for other empty foods. And they can make these things cheaply, making it even harder to justify eating things that taste less yummy by comparison and cost more.
But here’s the thing. When you break the addiction to these additives and chemicals, your taste buds change. Real foods start to taste how they were meant to – delicious. Don’t get me wrong, there are still PLENTY of things I won’t eat (raw tomatoes, I’m looking at you, you gross little jerks), but my palate has expanded incredibly in the last few months. Roasted Brussels sprouts, get in my face right now. Kombucha, I am not even really sure what you are, but I tried you and I think we can be friends. Onions, I’m gonna cook you first, but then I’m gonna eat you. Bacon, we’re just not there yet. I’m sorry. You just don’t do it for me, and that makes me an outcast. That’s okay. It’s less crowded out here and I feel less stabby.
And here’s one more thing, because who doesn’t love more things?? I look way better, but I feel even better than THAT. My body works. It does what I want it to do. We are no longer enemies. We are in luuuurrrrrrve and total BFFs for life. I mean, check this out:
Talk about a huge change! Especially when you compare this to where I was when I did my first Olympic tri 2 years ago. So much change. I’m seriously amped for the New Town Tri in 2 weeks. It’s going to be a great day, and a fantabulous race. It will be my best to date. I know it, because my body is ready for it. I was NOT ready for the Oly. This year, however, I think I might get my vengeance. We shall see…
The detox has only helped me get ready even more. I often turned to gels and energy beans/chews during long workouts/runs/bricks, but obviously, if you’re not eating sugar, you can’t have those things. Or Gatorade…which is fine, because that stuff has always made my belly ache. So what do I use for fuel?? First of all, I do eat sweet potatoes the night before so I have a least a small glycogen store. I didn’t feel great after having them this past weekend, so maybe that won’t be the case, but we’ll see.
Saturday morning before my 20mi/3mi bike/run brick, I had my favorite detox smoothie – cold coffee, almond milk, almonds, a frozen banana and a hint of vanilla. I had pure coconut water, a natural source of electrolytes, in my riding and running water bottles, plus a regular bottle of water. I packed a baggie of coconut butter to eat between bike and run. That’s all. It worked great and I felt amazing – but I will probably need something with a few more calories for race day, so I’m going to experiment with homemade no-sugar chia gels.
Endurance nutrition may not always follow the new guidelines I’ve taken to on this detox, but I’m really going to continue abiding by this method in the hopes that my body learns to burn fat the way it would normally burn carbs. I think I’m getting there, based on my energy levels, but if not, I’ll make adjustments.
Also, I refuse to think that organic fruits should be avoided completely. Maybe I was too dependent on them before, but I will still eat fruit in moderation. And honey. And booze. Oh, booze. How I miss you. I can smell red wine now, just thinking about it. But that won’t happen until after the race, so I will continue to dream.
But overall, given all the changes I’ve made, I’m really happy with my lifestyle now. It’s not always easy, and I know sometimes I won’t stick to it due to work travel, vacation, etc., but that’s called living. It’s not a diet. It’s life. You do the best you can, you enjoy what you want, and you get back to what makes you feel really great. And for me, eating clean and working out makes me feel really great.
Like, a-hedgie-eating-a-dinosaur great.
Or Mr. T-riding-a-unicorn great.