For starters let me clarify what I mean when I mention the words “diet” and “nutrition”. In this blog – diet is referring to what I’m eating on a daily basis; it’s not referring to dieting for weight loss. If I talk about nutrition I’m referring to during the race nutrition and fueling. Diet = daily food / Nutrition = race fueling
One of the areas in which I’ve been struggling with during my training is my diet. My energy levels during my workouts have been unpredictable, I’ve slowly been gaining weight (which is kind of the opposite of getting back to a “racing weight”), and I want to make sure I’m supporting my body so that I don’t get back to where a was a few years ago – sidelined with adrenal fatigue and slowly killing my body and throwing everything out of whack. My only goal for my first Ironman is to finish it (preferably without having to sprint to the finish to make sure I’m in under 17 hours) 🙂 My goal during training is to not kill my body. I have complete confidence that Zeus will structure my training so that the workouts themselves won’t be more than my body can handle and so that I will finish well under 17 hours. My job during this (aside from actually doing the workouts) is to make sure I’m supporting my body so that it can do all that will be asked of it.
I finally decided that I needed some extra support to get the diet piece of the puzzle under control. A few years ago I worked with Tracie Hittman (itsyourplate.com). At that time I was was still eating out a lot and wanted to get a better handle on eating healthier. Her philosophies about food seemed to make sense to me and I appreciate the fact that she didn’t just tell me to eat more vegetables. I was a little hesitant to start working with Tracie again, first because I didn’t want to spend money on something I already knew. I also knew that some of what she suggests takes some work and planning and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make that commitment again. But after a few more low energy workouts, another few pounds gained and a few sleepless nights (which is how the whole adrenal fatigue started last time) I decided to at least sit down and talk with her.
Tracie offered me her free 20-minute session to sit down and talk about her services, what program might work best and if it would be a good fit for me again. Since I had already worked with her I knew what I liked and didn’t like about the program. I went in and outlined my goals and expectations:
- Get through Ironman training – I know I struggle with eating enough calories (especially healthy calories)
- Find a program that fits with my schedule – I know getting back on the right track will take some work on my part, but I don’t want to have to count every calorie or gram of carbs and protein. Last time I worked with Tracie she was just developing her program and I felt that I was spending a lot of time counting carbs and protein to make sure I was eating balanced meals.
- See results! Although not my primary goal, I do want to lose the weight that I’ve been slowly gaining despite my increased training (and I’d like to stop gaining weight despite the increased exercise).
We talked about each of these goals. Her philosophies are the same but she has adjusted her plan slightly in the past few years so that it shouldn’t be so focused on counting everything, but will still be balanced. And I am in a different place physically, mentally and emotionally than I was a few years ago. I have learned a lot about myself in the past few years and have already changed so much about my lifestyle that it should be a lot easier to fit her principals into my life and goals. I also like that Tracie does body composition analysis so we can tell if I’m losing fat, gaining muscle, what my resting metabolism is and all of that fun stuff. Working with someone will also give me the added accountability to make these changes so we decided to give it a try for the next few months and see how things go.
Our first meeting was last Thursday. I wrote down what I had been eating for the few days prior to our meeting so she could get an idea of my current diet. We started the meeting by doing the body composition testing to get a baseline. We’ll probably do this once a month to make sure things are moving in the right direction. I had the benefit of being able to compare these results to our last test a few years ago. Some things were better, some things were not. We also talked about my diet for the few days leading up to the appointment. She was able to highlight some meals that weren’t as balanced as she would like and some foods that we should probably eliminate. I am usually hungry right before bed, so most nights I was eating a bowl of cereal before bed. Tracie pointed out this this a carb heavy meal so it may satisfy my hunger but it’s also probably what wakes me up at about 2:30 every morning. The carbs weren’t balanced with any protein so my blood sugar was spiking and crashing. This adds stress to my body and could be the reason I wake up hungry again or just unable to sleep in the middle of the night. She’s not opposed to eating again if I’m hungry, she just gave me some ideas of foods that might be better to eat). She also noticed that I’ve been eating an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly before my workouts. I thought I was on the right track eating solid foods (instead of my milk and banana smoothie) and using natural peanut butter and jelly with no junk. She pointed out that the English muffin (with all of its processed and unnatural ingredients) is a lot more difficult for my body to digest. I just made the switch from the smoothie to the English muffin a few weeks ago and now that I think about it, this could explain why the last few 90-min Saturday mornings bike classes have been miserable and spent trying to find the energy to get my legs moving. It could also explain why I spend the entire class burping up the taste of my breakfast and drinking even less water than usual because it feels like there is no more room in my stomach. It probably would have taken me another three months (or maybe never) to make the connection between what I was eating for breakfast and the success or failure of my workouts. I just thought I was having a string of bad workouts.
I still need to get in the calories before my workouts, so Tracie suggested trying the Ezekiel Sprouted Grain English Muffins instead. These should be easier for my body to digest. And here’s where we quickly (because I know this is getting long) talk about how I’ve changed over the past few years. A few years ago I would have make a face at her, rolled my eyes and said ewww and that would have been that. I would have just kept eating my Thomas’s English Muffins and kept having crappy bike rides. This time, I said I’d try them… They may not taste as good, but peanut butter can mask a lot of flavors and I can’t keep having crappy workouts for the next 8 months.
During the last 6 months or so I’ve started doing a lot of cooking on Sunday so that I have food to eat for the entire week. Trying to find time to balance work, workouts, seeing friends, seeing my little sis (from Big Brothers Big Sisters) a few times a month, and getting enough sleep, it makes it so much easier to avoid take out if I cook once a week and have food ready to grab and go. (I’m also trying to start cooking a little extra and freezing some stuff since I know my Sunday’s are going to be filled with much longer workouts once we finally get rid of the snow). I left Tracie’s office on Thursday with her new workbook that we will be working through, her cookbook and some goals for our next meeting in two weeks.
One of those goals was to find and try 5 new recipes over the next two weeks. Yesterday I made:
- garlic chicken in the crock-pot – A “Tracie-Approved” recipe that I found on Pinterest. (It was okay but I will make some adjustments to it next time)
- Zucchini Gratin – from Tracie’s cookbook – yes, I made a vegetable recipe and it was good!
- Chocolate Pudding – another pinterest recipe that uses avocado and that I’m pretty sure will be “Tracie-Approved” – Yup – Amy’s getting in another fruit that I normally wouldn’t eat! Here’s the recipe – http://www.forgivingmartha.com/2011/06/avocado-chocolate-pudding.html (and I also added a tiny, tiny bit of Almond Extract). A few spoonfuls of this will be a good way to satisfy chocolate cravings!
- Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal using steel-cut oats – from Tracie’s cookbook – I had this for breakfast this morning. Yum!
So only one more new recipe to find and try and I still have a week and a half. I’m still on the lookout for easy carb/protein snack ideas too. So far I’m feeling positive about this “diet”. If it’s going to help me with my workouts and get me across the finish line healthy, I’m ready to give it a shot. I’m a totally different person than I was four years ago when I first walked in to Tracie’s office. I have completely different goals this time around and I’m excited to see how making a few changes to what I’m eating can have an impact on my workouts. She’s probably not going to get me to eat fish, but I may be willing to try a few other new foods 🙂 I’ll keep you posted…