Sunday, January 19, 2014


So I'm kind of totally into experimenting with different things... keeping an open mind, trying new things, paying attention, and evaluating what works and doesn't work. I find the process fun and fascinating, even when what I try doesn't work. :)

That's sort of what all last year was about... I found myself intensely curious about 'The TBB Way'... so I tried it, and not just for a month because I don't think that's really a fair trial when it comes to something like that. I tried it for long enough to really see if it would work for me or not, and once I was 100% convinced it wasn't for me, I switched gears. I don't feel that curiosity anymore and that is good for my brain.

The thing I still find myself curious about is all this nutrition talk... HFLC (high fat low carb), NSNG (no sugar no grains), Paleo, Whole 30, etc. I don't have a desire to label myself as any of these things- honestly the label and the association with any of these groups might just be the biggest deterrent I feel to even trying out this type of eating! The other big deterrent is my belief that carbs are necessary to fuel long endurance training and I've never really understood how to completely eliminate sugar when training 20+ hours/week. I have always preferred to preserve the quality of my training sessions, which I can do when I am taking in sugar, and tend to not be able to do when I am not.

But then a few weeks ago I was at my Crossfit gym and they introduced a "Nutrition Challenge". It's an interesting take on the food choice thing b/c it has different 'levels' and you pick which level you want to commit to... So the first level is eliminate sugar, level 2 eliminate grains, level 3 eliminate beans/legumes, etc all the way up to level 10 which basically requires you eat meats and veggies but no salt, no dairy, no nuts, no starchy veggies like potatoes, max 2 pieces fruit/day, etc. So it gets harder and harder as the levels go up because level 10 is super restrictive. I couldn't for a second wrap my head around eliminating all of that stuff from my diet while also trying to swim bike and run!?!

Anyway, I looked at the poster explaining the challenge and, in front of the CF coach, stated out loud that I couldn't even get to level 3 because I could not eliminate beans from my diet... His response: Well you could, if you decided to. Damn! He got me! So then I argued that it's not as easy for me because I have a husband and a daughter to feed... and he got me again... Well YOU are in charge of how you feed your family. Damn again! What got me about that exchange was how he called me out on my excuses in the same way I have called out the athletes I coach when I hear them making excuses... He was right! The reason I "can't" eliminate sugar and grains and beans from my diet is because I choose not to.

So I contemplated the challenge for a few days and eventually decided to go for it, but only to level 6, which basically means I eliminate sugar, grains, beans, alcohol, and non-fat dairy. I decided to keep butter and full fat dairy, potatoes, nuts, and fruit. I just felt like I would need to be able to fuel my training somehow so potatoes and fruit had to stay. I'm training a moderate amount right now but NOT 20 hours/week, and my longest weekly session is just a 3 hour bike, so I feel like this is a good time for me to do this kind of experiment.

It's a 45 day thing and we are on Day 5 now. My goal with this challenge is mostly just curiosity to see what all the hype is about (true story as an aside: I ended up giving birth without pain killers because I wanted to experience what all the labor pain hype was about... How bad could it really be?? Lol. I should remember that Curiosity killed the cat.) and also just to see if it is indeed possible to train for triathlon while also eliminating sugar and grains?? Of course I'd also like to lean out a bit though I don't know if that will happen with all the cheese and nuts I find myself snacking on now... But that ridiculous month of glutenous eating in December is still showing itself on my ass so shrinking that down a bit would be a good thing if that is indeed a side effect of eating this way.

Surprisingly, eliminating grains has not really been hard at all. I didn't eat a ton of grains before so this was really just finding something other than oatmeal to eat for breakfast, something other than packaged energy bars for training, and skipping rice at dinner. Ok, I admit I used to make quinoa salad a couple times/week because it is so easy... so I am finding different types of meals for dinner. Eliminating sugar has been harder, but mostly b/c it means I pretty much can't eat anything that has a label or comes in a package. It's true- some form sugar or artificial sweetener is in everything. This challenge also means that, since I'm eliminating all soy and legumes, I have gone back to eating meat. My main gripe with meat this past year was never really about health- it was more about voting with my dollar against the factory farming industry... but then I heard a viewpoint that totally made sense to me- that a more impactful vote against factory farming is to give your money to the family farms who sell grassfed beef. So if in that industry they start to see a shift in market share toward grass fed vs conventional then maybe more farms will opt to go that route if they see the demand?  Anyway, that's where I'm at with that.

So far I'd say that it has been less challenging than I thought it would be. It has required quite a bit more planning ahead, and it requires a change in habits. But it hasn't been that hard to overcome. I have felt low energy toward the end of some of my training sessions and pretty sure a coke would have solved those problems in about 10 seconds but I didn't give in, just went with the bonk and slowed down. (Though I will admit that yesterday when I was bonking at the end of my ride, I was cursing the fact that I live at the top of a hill!) I'll continue to go that route for the next 40 days and see if there is a change one way or the other. I don't have any races coming up soon so if the quality of my sessions is diminished a bit right now I don't feel like it would be the end of the world. :)


Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

you REALLY are BSC. I'm glad I'm not curious as a cat ;)

Kathy said...

Following those rules basically gets you to paleo, right? But why no nuts? I thought nuts were paleo-ok.