Sunday, February 24, 2013

When Your Body Fights You...

Hey everyone.  Week one of the Whole30 Program is done, and I'm still alive.  I didn't die by eliminating added sugars, alcohol, grains, beans and whatnot from my diet.  But I will tell you one thing, this week was not easy.  Let me elaborate.The creators of the Whole9 state on their website that, "Whole9’s original program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food."  In reading their book, I realized that I wasn't making the best choices for optimal mental and physical performance so I decided to give it a try.  I'm going to give you an idea of how my week went - feel free to skip through the days if you aren't interested.

Sunday... I started.  It was fun playing in the kitchen and making some new dishes that were very healthy and wholistic.  I'll share some of my photos at the end this entry.  It was exciting and new and different... But around 3 pm, I had to slow down because I starting having a headache.  Eventually, I took some Advil before dinner to get rid of it.  It went away, and I was able to finish off my evening by making some great chunky guacamole.
Monday... I woke up after a very strange night of sleep.  Not very restful at all, which is unusual for me.  The headache was back.  The headache was back in full force.  I tried to ignore it for the day, and I didn't take any medication either.  I was worried about my work out to be honest.  My run training started this week, and I knew I need to expect some lethargy.  Luckily, I busted out the run and my 50 burpees without any problem.  Unluckily, my headache never left.
Tuesday... I woke up again after another weird sleep.  Oh well.  I was again worried about my work out perfomance.  Today was my personal training session, and I had to complete 50 burpees.  No worries again!  I completed 55 burpees and did a great job lifting.  My workout partner and I worked on dead lifts, power cleans, squats and overhead presses with a barbell.  I felt awesome... it it wasn't for that damn headache!
Wednesday... I woke up after another weird sleep accompanied by an even weirder dream.  I had a dream I ate a hellacious amount of plain m&m's.  Then, as a result, my teeth because deformed, discolored and started falling out of my mouth.  I ran to my sister for help, and she ran me to an oral surgeon while packing my teeth in ice... Really?   So, today was kettlebells, and I dragged ass until about midway through the class when my energy (or more like adrenalin) kicked in.  I finished with 40 burpees and a 35 minute walk/run.  Yeah, I was beyond exhausted at that point.
Thursday... I woke up.  Hmm, my headache isn't so bad now.  By mid morning, I'm not happy.  I'm a bit grumpy and struggling with some things at work that normally wouldn't even bother me.  I can't concentrate so I'm happy when it's time to work out.  Today is Zumba... and I'm not feeling it at all, and I barely finish my 45 burpees.  This day just sucked.
Friday... I woke up.  I rested well.  Finally!  Today is a half day so I go to work knowing I have another 35 minute walk/run and 50 burpees to complete. I'm feeling pretty good since today is the last day of my burpee challenge.  Well, I finish my run and do 56 burpees for good measure... it just took me a really long time.  Buckling under peer pressure, I also join some of my friends in UNLOADED - a 30 minute fitness class.  BAD IDEA.  I just half assed it. I had no energy.  No focus. I'm grumpy again.  I want some Jelly Bellies.  I'm so over this.
Saturday... I woke up at 3:30 am!  Family had a trip to Columbus today. I'm dreading eating out so I decide to bring my own breakfast and salad dressing for later.  I know I can find a salad somewhere.  We eat at California Pizza Kitchen for lunch, and I had a cobb salad (less the bacon, dressing, and cheese).  It wasn't that bad.  I also had some wholesome snacks - dried apricots, raw cashews, and a Primal Pac (thank goodness for Primal Pacs!).  Things are looking good. I purchased my bracelet at Tiffany's for my charms so I can wear them now.  Made my first ever purchase at Victoria's Secret (TMI...).  Awesome!  Once at home, I ate a nice dinner and passed out at 8:30... and didn't wake up until 6:30 am!
What a strange week, right?  I've never really had trouble sleeping.  Why now?  Dreams.  I know I have them (everyone dreams), I just don't remember them... but I remembered that weird one.  What's with the headaches?  Why am I so tired?  What's wrong with me?
It's called the "carb flu."  Or, at least that's why the creators of the Whole9 lifestyle call it.  (PSA... I am not endorsing this plan as the gospel so don't worry that I'm turning into one of those "people."  I'm just sharing my experiment because I find it interesting - end of PSA)  They state that by removing dense carbohydrates from my diet (sugars, grains, beans), my body isn't relying on them as a fuel source.  As a result, my body is rebelling a bit, and I'm suffering from "carb flu." Symptoms include:
  • Grumpiness, irritability, crankiness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness and lethargy
Why is my body doing this?  Well, it's getting used to another primary fuel source (healthy fats like avocado, olives, clarified butter, olive oil, nuts and what not), and it's not happy, and I still want some Jelly Bellies, damnit!

Well, I'll let that go for now.  No Jelly Bellies for a while, but they will return eventually.  For now, I am going to enjoy the face that I had an amazing night of sleep... which is a benefit along with increased energy, loss of cravings, less pain in joints, and so on.  I'm going to keep going although I feel like my body was really fighting me this past week.  That's ok. I'm Patiently Waiting for my chance to fight back.  That's My Style...
Pics of awesome, wholistic food.  Recipies and reference material are located in "It Starts with Food," written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

 Primal Pac - Healthy snack for people on the go!  These will be great post-work out snacks on days when I doing some heavy lifting.  Beef jerkey, marcona almonds, macadamia nuts, dried mango, and dried cranberries.  After I tried a pac, I went back online and ordered 10 more.  YUM!

Sweet Potato Hash - Seasoned ground beef, roasted sweet potatoes, peppers and other yumminess.  Great recipie!
Egg Friatta with ground beef, mushrooms, spinach, onion, jalapeno pepper and anything else I could get my hands on.  It went great with chunky guacamole and salsa.
I'm getting great at making omelets - so my mom says.  This one was stuffed with spinach and mushrooms.  I tossed some Fuji apples and left over ground beef in it too.  Great breakfast!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's Time to Try Something New

Hey Readers!  I hope you guys don't mind that I took a break last week.  I wasn't taking a vacation.  I had homework, research, and decisions to make.  Let me explain.

I knew that losing weight by using calorie restriction would only get me so far.  Our bodies are very smart, and they adapt very quickly.  In my case, I have a tremendous amount of weight to lose.  So at the beginning, eating less and moving more was a no brainer.  The weight fell off quickly and steadily.  In that time, my body was most likely in shock thinking, "WTF does she think she's doing?  I can't keep up with what she's doing!"  But, eventually, it did.

When your body adapts, the weight loss tends to taper off and stabilize - the dreaded plateaus.  I'm sure I would still be able to lose weight, but it would be slow-going and frustrating.  When this happens to a lot of people in my situation, they become despondent and start falling into dangerous old patterns, and eventually the weight may comes back.  I refuse to accept that!  So, I need to evaluate what I'm doing, and decide if I need to make a change.  (FYI - this may be a long post.)

So, what am I doing right now?
  • I make my food choices based mostly on calorie content. 
  • I exercise pretty much every day.  I now rest on Sundays.
Looking at these items, it didn't seem like I was doing anything wrong.  I know the exercise was a great choice, and I'm keeping within my calorie range to make sure I continued to lose weight each week.  It can't be all that bad.  I lost 120 pounds doing this... so why do I feel like I've come to a screeching halt.  I thought a lot about this, and it could only be one other thing... The Food.

Looking at my food diary, I realized that my breakfast and lunch was pretty simple.  Instant oatmeal. Granola bars. Egg beaters.  Fiber One bars. Sugar free fruit cups. Lean Cuisines.  Fresh fruit.  That's not bad, is it? 

Possibly.  Why?  Because most of it is processed.  The only thing that wasn't was the fresh fruit.  My breakfast and lunch was filled with mechanically manufactured, processed, easy-to-eat food filled with additives and artificial sweeteners.  When I asked for an expert opinion about my food choices, and if I was making poor choices.  I was met with a enthusiastic head nod, "YES!"  So, then I ask, "what do I do?"  Response, "Read this book."

My trainer passed along a very enlightening and frightening book, "It Starts with Food," written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  It pretty much blew my mind.  It's a very easy read, written in a conversational style that felt like the authors are sitting with you around the kitchen table having a chat.  Some of their beliefs are controversial.  I'm still skeptical about some of the things I read.  But, I'm willing to give their plan a try.  Why?  Because I do believe that my food choices are poor.  I'm eating the easiest, quickest foods I can find - processed food.  I want to make sure I'm fueling my body with the best choices out there so I can excel. 

The Whole 30 plan consists of following a holistic eating plan for 30 days and removing foods that fail their Good Food Standard.  The Good Food Standards are:
  • Foods that promote a healthy psychological response.
  • Foods that promote a healthy hormonal response.
  • Foods that support a healthy gut.
  • Foods that support immune function and minimize inflammation.
The book provides amazing detail on how certain foods and food groups either promote or violate the good food standards. I won't go into all the deets here, but believe me, it was eye opening and scary.   I mean, is it really possible that the hip pain I feel may go away based on my food choices?  I don't know.  So, I'm going to give it a try.  Thirty days isn't all that long.  I'm going to be my own test dummy, and you all can be my witnesses. 

Starting today, the following foods and food groups will be ELIMINATED!
  • Sugars, Sweeteners, and Alcohol
  • Seed Oils
  • Grains and Legumes
  • Dairy
No splenda.  No sugar free fruit cups.  No greek yogurt.  No egg beaters.  No granola bars or fiber one bars.  No whole wheat bread.  NO CANDY!  The list goes on and on.  Everything pretty much has grains, seed oils, and added sugar and sweeteners (except whole food).

So, what can I eat?
  • Meat, Seafood, and Eggs
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Healthy Fats
Now that may not seem like a whole lot, but there is a lot you can do with these items, and I'm looking forward to discovering some new favorites.  There are other items you can eat that are semi-processed like canned olives, broths, and sauerkraut.  The authors provide a laundry list of items that you can include if you wish.

What are the rules to the Whole 30 Program?
  • Eat from the approved food list (seen above).
  • Do not consume any foods that violate the "Good Food Standards."
  • Do not cheat and recreate junk foods by using the approved food list.
  • Do not step on the scale during the entire program.
I'm actually happy about that last rule.  I'm also happy that I won't have to count calories.  Counting calories it tough.  I found a way of getting around it by using as much prepackaged food as I could.  With this program, our authors provide us with a food guide that allows for simple planning without portioning, measuring, or counting.  So... no more calorie counting.  As a matter of fact, I did not track one thing this past week, and I was able to lose weight.  I'm frightened about it.  I'm so used to doing it that I don't feel right when I don't.  It did feel quite liberating after the third or fourth day.  I know I can do this.

What do I hope to accomplish?
  • Rid my dependence on artificial sweeteners
  • Better manage my blood sugars without the use of medication.  My doctor feels I should see a tremendous difference.  I'll be seeing him during my 30 day program so we will be having a medicine discussion.
  • Improve my gym performance - remember, I'm training for a half marathon.  I need all the help I can get.
At the end of the 30 days, you begin reintroducing grains, dairy, legumes, and other foods one at a time, taking note of how your body responds.  The goal of the program is to give your body a "reset."  It can pinpoint foods that may be causing inflammation within the body, cravings, and digestive problems.  If you can pinpoint these items, you can make better food choices and decide what foods you would like to keep as a permanent part of your diet.  It DOES NOT suggest eating this way permanently, unless that's what you choose to do. 

As I start this new journey into discovering food, I'm glad to be able to share it with you.  The first two weeks are going to be tough.  I should expect being very tired and irritable.  My workouts will probably suck over the next week or so.  I'll be Miss Crabby Pants! They call it the "carb flu." I'm suffering from refined carbohydrate and sugar withdrawal.  After the first two weeks, I should expect amazing changes in temperament and physical performance... boundless energy.

So this past week, I enjoyed a lot of my favorites for One Last Time... Just kidding!  I'm always going to eat my favs, but I'm going to try to put them off until after the race in May.  I'll provide more insight as I get further into the program.  I think it's good for me to journal how I'm feeling during the week so I can share it with you.  I'm going to be spending a good deal of my time today in the kitchen getting acclimated with all this new food I bought on Saturday.  Until next week...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Do You Handle Speedbumps?

Happy Superbowl Sunday everyone!  Do you have special plans for today?  My family is planning a small spread.  Some good foods and some not so good foods.  It's all in moderation folks.  Enjoy yourselves.  I'm definitely going to make sure I enjoy the guacamole and celery sticks.  That's a good treat that full of healthy fats.
I've had a lot on my mind this week.  Last week was quite exciting.  It was a huge milestone.  It was a time of reflection and celebration.  It also had me thinking about my next steps.  Getting in training mode.  Changing up my routine.  Getting my head ready.  It all starts this week, and I have to get used to taking Sunday off to rest.  So, I figure Sunday will now be my official blogging day.  It will give me something to do instead of focusing on the fact that I'm not working out.  I certainly don't want to replace one addiction (food) with another (excessive working out), so I'm glad I'm starting to take a day for me to just unwind and let my body rest.
I worked pretty hard this week too.  When working out, I try to give my all, and leave as much sweat on the gym floor as possible. When working out, I look like a sweaty hot mess.  My shirt sometimes has a sweat ring that reaches past my sports bra on the way to my belly button, and my back is completely soaked.  That may seem gross to some, but I take an extreme amount of pride in my sweat.  It lets me know I really worked out hard, and I didn't give up.
My normal routine calls for four days in the gym, and two/three days working at home.  This week, I went to work on Friday, and took a new class called UNLOADED.  The format is a 30 minute class.  2 minute intervals with a 30 second rest before the next interval.  Each interval consists of a 30 second exercise, and you go as hard as you can.  So... four exercises, all out effort, 2 minutes, 30 second break.  The exercises vary - Spiderman pushups, Scorpions, Burpees (yay!), High Knees, Jumps, Pushups... a very good mixture of cardio and strength.  It was very challenging and very awesome!  So, that was quite a workout - and I added 30 minutes on the elliptical and got my burpees in for the day too.
So, I'm not disappointed in the weight gain this week.  It's something that I must do and a necessary evil, but I'm not going to stress over it.  I'm being honest too.  I'm more interested in how I'm going to look going into this run in May, and personal training starts on Tuesday.  I'm sure I'll have lots to report next week.  I'm excited and nervous as hell.  Personal training on Tuesday and Kettlebells on Wednesday, and another session of UNLOADED on Friday.  This ought to be interesting.
Something else has been on my mind too.  The word "motivation" kept popping up this week.  Many people have said that they have been motivated and inspired by my journey, and that is so flattering.  It really wasn't my intention.  I was just hoping to share my story so others who were struggling like me knew they weren't alone.  To know that I'm impacted many people is unbelievable, and it makes me want to work even harder.  So, I thank you.  Again, it's very humbling.
Motivation.  Will Power.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I've written about will power before.  I think people give the term will power more power than it deserves.  My father and I have had lengthy discussions about it.  We are both of the same philosophy, and some may find it rather "harsh," but it's just our opinion. 
I don't feel that I can motivate anyone.  "A need or desire" must drive you "to ACT."  I cannot do that for you.  You can only do that yourself.  You feel a need and desire to change your eating habits and/or start to move, and you take that first step.
The first step you take doesn't mean, "Oh, I'm going to start exercising and eating right."  If it does, then the first time you don't get your expected results, you will stop.  The first step means, "I'm going to do this, and nothing* is going to stop me from moving in this forward direction."  I say nothing with an asterisk because there will be some circumstances that occur that may cause some need to "rearrange."  But, my question to you is, how do you handle it?  How do you handle life's speedbumps?
I've had many speedbumps.  Scheduling conflicts.  Negativity.  Doubting Thomas and Murphy's Law.  Illness.  Exhausting.  Laziness.  Boredom.  Jealousy.  Romance.  Break Ups.  Trips.  Food.  Temptations.  Family Obligations.  Work.  I've seen myself get derailed once during this process.  I felt myself slipping.  Luckily, I was able to recognize it, manage it as needed, and got myself back on track and moving in a forward direction. 
Your success in any endeavor will depend on how you handle your speedbumps, and where you decide to prioritize your health and well-being.  It will take planning and dedication, and no half-assed efforts.  You can't let outside factors take control of your forward momentum.  Take a minute and just think.  What is important to you?  Where does your health and well-being lie on your priority list?  Don't let life speedbumps take you out.  Take a minute.  Slow down. And roll over those bad boys.  Never Stop your forward momentum.