I’ve heard before that the easiest part of Ironman training can be the swim, bike and run. Lately, I’m tempted to agree with this. I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been abiding by the rule, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. I have been struggling through a lot of my workouts the past few months. I have felt fatigued, sluggish and overall not satisfied with how my body has been handling the workouts. There have been workouts that should have been easy that completely kicked my ass. There have been more workouts than I care to admit that have contained a few tears or minor temper tantrums. More than anything I’m just frustrated that my body isn’t doing what I want it to do, I know people think I’m just being lazy or making excuses when I try to explain how I feel and I’m just sick of feeling like crap.
I finally broke down a few weeks ago and decided to do food intolerance testing. I am a picky eater so I’ve put off doing the testing for a long time. I didn’t want to have to limit my diet any further! I was at the point where I was really considering if I would be able to continue to train for Ironman though so I knew I needed to figure something out and quickly! I was feeling so terrible one morning, crying in the car while I was driving over to do a core workout with Zeus, that I finally broke down and asked Dr. Dave Heitmann at Integrated Sport and Spine to run the test before my meeting with Zeus. Dr. Dave spent a few minutes talking with me about my symptoms and suggested a few other lab tests that I could have my doctor run as well. I met with my doctor the following week and six tubes of blood later, I had even more blood work done.
I now probably know more about the hormones in my body than any one person needs to know, but I’m hoping knowledge is power. The blood work run by my doctor showed some imbalances in my hormones and we’re working on finding the correct dosages of supplements to correct these imbalances. But the big news was the food intolerance testing… I may never eat again 🙂
I met with Dr. Dave on Monday to review the test results. The test that he ran will highlight foods to which my body has become intolerant. An intolerance is different than an allergy. Eating foods to which you are intolerant, will cause inflammation in your body. Symptoms can include fatigue, joint pain, or irritability, among others. My test showed that I am most intolerant to milk, yogurt, whey, (basically all dairy), eggs, whole wheat and spelt. I think it’s pretty safe to say that my diet was 95% dairy, eggs and wheat. I had a smoothie every morning before my workouts made with milk and/or Greek yogurt. I had cheese or hard-boiled eggs as protein sources in the afternoon and ate a lot of the Ezekial brand English Muffins (which contained both whole wheat and spelt). So basically even though I thought I was making healthy choices, I was eating myself sick. The “healthy” choices weren’t healthy ones for my body.
I spent the rest of Monday eating all of the foods I would no longer be able to eat. Someone had to clean out the refrigerator, right? 🙂 And then I went grocery shopping for foods I could actually eat. No more milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, eggs… There has been a lot of label reading over the past few days.
Along with cutting out all the foods that have probably been contributing to the way I’ve been feeling, I’ve been trying to work on making sure I’m getting enough calories. Zeus and I have talked about this a few times but it’s still something I know I have to work a lot harder on actually doing. We talked about how many calories I should be trying to consume right now, and how many I will need as training continues to reach peak season.
A few months ago I went back to meet with Tracie Hitmann, a nutritionist I’ve worked with in the past, to see how we could make sure I was supporting my body during the training. I met with her yesterday afternoon, food intolerance results and notes about my calorie intake from Zeus about in hand, to develop a plan of action. After going over the results and talking about what I already can’t eat, we decided that it would be worthwhile to go gluten-free while I’m cutting things out anyway. I was already cutting out so many sources of gluten by eliminating dairy, eggs and wheat, that we decided to just cut it out completely for the next few months and give my body a chance to heal. If I’m feeling better in a few months I can slowly start adding things back in and see how I’m feeling. Tracie also gave me some ideas on different protein sources and some new recipes to try.
It hasn’t even been a week since I cut out just about every food I used to eat, but I think I’m already noticing some changes. I can’t say for sure if everything is related to what I am and am not eating, but I’m hoping it is and that will keep me motivated to keep up with the changes. I’m hoping the first month will be the worst, as I’m figuring out what I can actually eat now.
My workouts have been pretty good the past few days so I was hopeful for my run this morning. It did NOT go well at all. At first I was really frustrated. I was in the middle of Pheasant Branch Conservancy though and at that point there was no way to give up and go home. I had to get all the way around the loop and back to my house so I calmed myself down and really thought about what I did and didn’t do right as I was preparing for this run. First, I realized I didn’t eat enough for dinner last night. I spent a lot of time staring in to the fridge trying to figure out what I could eat, but not a lot of time eating anything. Second, I did not listen to Zeus when he said to eat 30-45 min before a workout. I downed a smoothie about 5 min before I walked out the door. It sloshed in my stomach for the full 6-miles this morning. Not enough fuel and at the wrong time… Lessons learned. Once I thought about all the things I could change to make my next workout go more smoothly, I just focused on surviving the workout this morning. It was dreadfully slow, but I know what I can do to make the next workout better and I got the miles done.
I’m learning that I know how to swim, bike and run. It’s everything else that goes along with the training that I need to learn! And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. I’ve had some great experiences and have some awesome stories to tell…
Like the first outdoor bike ride on the new bike and an open water swim in Lake Monona, in April, in 50 degree water…
We survived Lake Monona in April!!
Bike is ready to be off the trainer…
Before the first brick of the season!
Or surviving the first Aquathon (still in 50 degree water)…
Or just doing a fun run with friends I don’t get to run with as much any more…
And now I must go make some dinner and properly prepare for my long bike/run brick tomorrow morning!!