Saturday, March 23, 2013

What Have I Learned?



Hi everyone.  I was busy entertaining a high level VIP in my life so I wasn't able to post last week (wink).  I'm sure you guys missed me (yeah, right), so I'll get right down to it.

My Whole 30 is over.  Monday, March 18th was my official last day.  Funny that I also had my physical that day at the doctor.  I had a fasting blood test, and I tried to get the results before posting, but I wasn't able to swing by the office and pick them up.  I'll make sure to include them next week.

I'll admit I'm a bit anxious to find out what those results say about my diet changes.  I did notice a significant drop in my blood pressure.  I'm starting to keep track of it so I can provide my doctor with historical data.  That's probably the only way I'll be able to convince him that I'm ready to be weaned off.  Sadly, once you are on maintenance medication, you just can't stop it cold turkey.  It can dangerous, and I want to get rid of all that medication. 

So, now it's time for reflection.  When I started the Whole 30, I was hoping to rid myself of my artificial sweetener dependence and get off processed foods.  I wanted to eat as wholistically as possible, and see what food choices and groups I could add back to my diet.  What foods are causing me trouble?  Where am I seeing the bloating and inflammation?

I can definitely say that I like what eating "real food" did to me.  I had lots of energy, and I felt really good. I slept great.  I had many personal bests during the last month. My body feels different.  My arms look different.  There is more definition than before.  My legs are slimmer.  My run times are faster.  I deadlifted 185 pounds... Yeah, you read that right.  185 fucking pounds!

I can also say that I was able to get away from artificial sweetener.  All I drank for the last 35 days is water.  Water.  Water. Water.  It was hard at first, but now I'm used to it.  I don't feel the need to run out and buy packets of Splenda and sweeten up my blueberries.  They are sweet enough all buy themselves.  I don't want to drink any powdered drinks or guzzle a diet soda.  I'll be fine with water. 

I've eaten gluten grains (bread), some pasta, cheese, white potatoes, and candy over the last week, and I can honestly say I haven't had any bad reactions from it.  For the most part, I've eaten these item in small amouts and "real food" continued to be the majority of all meals I ate.  So, perhaps I really don't have any issues with these foods.  However, I do find that if I compare my current eating habits to my prior, processed foods and carbohydrates were about 60% of my calorie intake for the day.  Now, I'll contain that, and focus on protein, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats.  I'll pepper in other items here and there, but I'll won't return to that. Making food choices based on pure calorie content is not a good idea, and I won't continue on that path.

I think I found my missing puzzle piece that will help me complete my good health picture.  It really is all about the food.  Eating real food and limiting other items.  Sorry!  I will NEVER be one of those people that will never touch sugar again.  I enjoy sweets, and I've found that when I exclude something indefinitely, and try to taste it again, my body goes ape shit.  I'm not going through that again.  So, yes.  I'll still eat my jelly bellies and hot tamales.  But, I'll also eat boiled eggs, avocado and sweet potatoes for breakfast, spaghetti squash pad thai for lunch, and baked salmon, greens, and carrots for dinner.  How can you go wrong with that plan?

So, now what's next? It's all about training for the half marathon and reaching my dead lift goal.  The marathon is less than two months away.  I'm changing up my workout schedule.  Monday, run. Tuesday, weight training.  Wednesday, run.  Thursday, weight training.  Friday-Free-for-all. Saturday, long run.  Sunday, rest.  I'm pleased with this schedule. It's going to be tough, but I'm ready.  I just want to perform to the best of my ability, and I'll do what it takes to get me there.

Lastly... the scale.  Oh, I almost forgot about that.  I got my scale back on Friday, and I weighed in this morning. I lost 7.6 pounds on the Whole 30, and you know what's even better than losing 7 pounds... realizing that I paid attention to my body signals, ate to satiation and Satisfaction, and didn't count ONE FREAKING CALORIE.  Yeah, folks, eat real food.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sweet, Sweet Treats?

Hey everyone!  It's a beautiful day in NE Ohio.  I mean we are pushing 70 degrees here in Ashtabula.  The windows are open.  The sun is shining.  I'm Feeling Good.  Well, I am kind of feeling good.   I'm a bit sore.

As you know, I'm training for the Cleveland Half Marathon on 5/19.  I'm planning on walk/running.  I hope to do a 5 minute run/1-2 minute walk interval hoping to finish before 2 hour 50 minutes.  I hold myself if I accomplish that goal, I'll get myself another Tiffany charm, and this one I'll get when I travel to NYC at the end of June. 
 
Anyway, yesterday was my first outdoor run since last year.  Back then I was completing slow intervals, and the most I ran was 4 miles.  I usually finished 4 miles in one hour.  My training protocol has me running 3 times a week, Monday and Wednesday, with my long run on Saturday.  Right now, I'm practicing 3 min run/2 min walk, and I'm running at 5 mph and walking at 4 mph.  This past Saturday, I completed 5 miles in 1 hr 9 min outdoors.  That's my best time to date. 

It's vital that I get my long runs in on the road.  I want to mimic the conditions of the run so there aren't any surprises.  I also got fitted for proper running shoes, and they worked out fantastic.  I was very tired after finishing that run...so tired that I actually ended up taking a nap while preparing my Pad Thai (more to come on that).  No worries.  I napped during the resting period.

So, I'm pretty tired and sore today.  Here's to hoping these aches and pains improve over the next few weeks.  I'm pretty pleased with my run yesterday.  I hoping to improve on my time and work hard to accomplish all my goals.  Sometimes I can't even believe I'm able to run.  That's something I thought I'd never be able to do.

Now, for my Whole30 update.  It was another good week.  I'm still sleeping great.  I feel like my appetite has increased.  I did have one heck of a PT session this past Tuesday, and I don't think I did my best in Kettlebells this week.  My arms were like jello.  I don't know if my appetite increase has anything to do with my workouts, but I am listening to my body and feeding it as I feel I need to.  I've also eating post work out snacks on my heavy days.

If I've learned anything in these 22 days is that I really need to listen to my body and what it's telling me.  Getting in control of my eating and my cravings was really important to me. I have cut out quite a few food groups, and what's so funny is that I'm not really missing them.  I'm not missing cheese or Greek yogurt, milk, beans, bread...  Sure, a piece of pizza would be great right now, but it's not going to kill me NOT to eat something like that for a few more weeks. 

I think what's so surprising is that I've been able to cut out added sugar and artificial sweeteners for so long.  Even when I lost weight a few years ago on the modified fast, I was still able to rely on Splenda and get my sugar on.  The only sweets I'm getting in the Whole30 is through the whole foods I eat, and that's mainly fruit.  I am enjoying the fruit, and I'm even trying some items that I haven't in the past.
I'm a sugar fiend.  SUGAR FIEND!  I admit it.  I love candy.  I love sweets.  It makes me feel like I was predisposed to be diabetic because of my love of sugar.  I'm sure when Whole30 is over, I'll get some Jelly Bellies or Hot Tamales or Cherry Heads.  I'm just going to make it count.  I am really happy with how I'm feeling, and it has to do with the foods I'm choosing to eat.  I don't want to fully let this practice go, so when it's time to reintroduce grains, dairy, and beans, I will do so carefully and make smart choices on what foods I'll incorporate into my diet. I'm sure I'll have an occasional Jelly Belly.  That's something I feel I can manage throughout my life and not feel like I'm going crazy.  It's tough trying to slay the Sugar Demon, and in my case, I'm going to tame him. 

Lastly, I will say that I've been introduced to some amazing new foods.  This week I made Pad Thai - instead of noodles, I used spaghetti squash.  Instead of peanut sauce, I used another sauce with rice vinegar, coconut aminos (substitute for soy sauce), cayenne pepper, and orange juice.  It was fantastic.  I also made a salad dressing out of olive oil mayonnaise and added avocado, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro.  It is possible to eat holistically and find delicious foods.  After my Whole30 is up, I'm going to try another recipe for Mexican Chocolate, which came from the Nom Nom Paleo blog.  I'll continue to post pictures of all my creations.  Until next week my friends...

Here is my Pad Thai.  I'm not a big fan of snap peas, as the recipe calls for, but you can substitute other veggies.  I used cabbage, scallions, and onion.  The chicken thighs worked amazingly...so juicy and tender.  I purchased the "Well Fed" cookbook, which is written by Melissa Joulwan. I've tried many recipes, and they are fantastic.  I'm definitely having a lot of fun in the kitchen. 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Changes

Hey Folks.  I hope you all had a good week.  Mine was quite terrific, and a hell of a lot easier than last week.

Yes, I am still in the thick of my Whole30 program.  I'm at the half-way point now, and I'm amazed at how quickly it's passing.  I haven't had any slip ups as far as I know, and although I still have cravings for sugar/artificial sweetener, it hasn't been too hard to get over it.  In the end, it's best that I really leave those things alone.

As I mentioned above, I had a pretty awesome week.  Energy is up.  Sleep is beyond amazing and really restful.  Everything is ticking along like clockwork.  I've started to notice some physical changes too.

When I was heavier, I had a lot problems with fluid pooling in my ankles.  Fluid retention is a very serious medical condition, and mine was brought on by high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.  My left ankle would swell so badly that I would have trouble walking as my day progressed.  Eventually, it came to the point where I would move as little as possible so I didn't have to walk on it.

As I began to lose weight, I noticed I wasn't holding water anymore and my ankle looked better.  I was very pleased because I knew my health was improving.  But I noticed sometime remarkable this week.  It was even more narrow.  As a matter of fact, it looked downright NORMAL.  Actually, my hands looked odd too.  My fingers were more slim. 

I took a picture of myself in my new glasses (which are freaking awesome and cute) and sent it to my friend, and he said jokingly, "What happened to your pinchable cheeks?"  My pinchable cheeks?  What?  So, I looked in the mirror, and my face looked different.  My cheekbones are prominent, and I still have my dimple (singular), but my face looks more slim.

What the heck is going on with me?  My legs looks different.  My tummy looks different.  What the hell?

Folks, it's called systemic inflammation.  What the heck is that?  I honestly never even heard about this condition until I heard it discussed in "It Starts With Food."  Even after reading about it, I still thought it was a bunch of hogwash.  I even asked my doctor about it, and he said it is a real condition, and pretty much everyone suffers from it in some form.  Systemic inflammation is "full body" inflammation.  It's your immune system fighting back constantly in some form or another.  Your immune system is hyperaware and active - circulating throughout your body.

Your immune system can become hyperaware due foreign bodies circulating in your body that your immune system identifies as "Not You."  Hence, it attacks and that's where you become inflamed... just like when you get sprain your ankle and get swelling.  You immune system goes into action to protect the body.

Food can play a role in systemic inflammation as well. Food that may not be that good for you.  Foods that give you uncomfortable reactions.  Food that contain a lot of manufactured ingredients.  Bloating. Gas. Sour Stomach.  So on and so on...

Don't freak out people.  I'm not writing this to scare you.  I'm my own experiment so I'm reporting my findings, and this week I found out that my body is changing once again because I'm not so inflamed and bloated by the food I ate.  I've been eating "clean" for two weeks now, and I've seem remarkable changes.  I was really tempted many times this week to get on the scale to prove my theory, but you know what, WHO CARES!   At this point, I'm so pumped full of energy, the scale wouldn't bother me if I gained.  I'm cleaning up my body.

Perhaps there is something to said about all this clean eating stuff.  I still have two weeks to go, and I'm expecting the honeymoon to be over by next week when I'm dying for cake or jelly bellies (again) or something to drink besides water.  I have never only drank water so that's quite an adjustment, and I've never gone this long without weighing myself since I started my journey.  One benefit of drinking only water, my skin looks and feels great :)

My gym performance is off the charts.  I got four miles in this past Saturday, and each Saturday I increase one mile.  I'm really putting my all into marathon training so I've been really pleased by what I've been able to accomplish.  I dead lifted 115 pounds this past week, and I'm swing 70 pound kettlebells like nothing.  Now, that's a Work Out

This week will be even more challenging.  Death by Burpee will continue until I can do 20 burpees in one minute... Yes, I said 20.  I'm working on my pushups by adding one each day so by March 31, I will do 31 pull-bodies, no cheating pushups.  No girlie push ups here.

So, let's here it for a nice, successful week! (YAY!)  I hope there are more to come, and I'm excited by what I'll be able to share next week.  Until next time...