Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beer, bacon and bananas...

...these are actually things on my shopping list. Scribbled on a post-it and stuck to the back of my phone to remind me what to pick up when I get to the market. The list struck me funny, especially since the beer and bacon weren't for me, illustrating the challenge of eating on a particular nutrition plan when no one else in your household will follow.

I am the only athlete in my house. My husband is a carpenter who has kept in shape over the years through a physically demanding job and a love for water sports; my mother-in-law is 75, has had bi-lateral hip replacement, and gets around pretty well on a regimen of yoga and an occasional water aerobics class.
This diet (I really don't like that word since I've been eating so well!) has everyone especially freaked out.

My husband sort of gets it, since he's seen me radically change my eating habits over the past couple of years; but he's stunned that I've foregone dairy and grains since those were staples of my regular nutrition plan.  My mother-in-law is another story altogether...a lover of all things food and a depression-era child who was taught to clean everything on her plate...worries that I am depriving myself and "is sad that you can't eat this delicious XYZ..."  I keep kindly reminding her that I am happy with my meals and that it is a personal choice for me.  I choose not to eat certain things and to that end am happier and healthier for it!

I've been eating probably 98% paleo since March 12.  I can count on one hand how many times I've had non-paleo food: two pieces of See's candy this past weekend - a nod to Easter and in appreciation of a gift from a family friend; one strip of bacon (that actually didn't taste as good as I remembered); and cocktail sauce I dipped my shrimp into (will someone PLEASE find or recommend a brand of cocktail sauce that doesn't have sugar or vinegar in it!).  And, OK, my egg white protein is vanilla flavored and has small amounts of sorbitol in it, but that's all I could find on this island (I have since found it on the internet without, but it is so expensive I will buy the other stuff when I run out).

This way of eating is agreeing with me! I feel great, sleep better than I ever have before, and have tons of energy for training and everyday living.  I LOVE to cook, so I've been challenging myself to find new ways to cook old favorites and I've been trying a lot of new things, too.  The photo above has become one of my favorite meals: poached eggs on a bed of sauteed cherry tomatoes, grilled onions and bell peppers, and wilted spinach, with a handful of strawberries on the side.  I eat more fruits and vegetables, don't think anything about having chicken, beef or fish for breakfast, and have been challenging myself to try a wider variety of vegetables (eggplant, kale, broccoli rabe).  Dessert is fresh or dried fruit or a couple of dates if I want something sweet.  I don't miss dairy and grains as much as I thought. 

I started this eating plan as an experiment because I could not seem to drop my post-holiday/post-injury weight and it has paid off in such a way that I am committing to this way of eating for a year to see what the continuing benefits will be.  Over the past 7 weeks I have lost 13 pounds - I now weigh 4 pounds lighter than I did at my pre-race weight last June - and am 5 pounds lighter than I ever thought possible.  I am carefully watching my nutrition, especially pre- and post-workout, to ensure I am consuming enough to properly fuel my workouts.

Right now I am supplementing my training with HEED, Hammer Gels and Recoverite because they agree with me and I feel they are the best quality products for my needs.  I know Recoverite contains whey protein, which is non-paleo, but until I become more comfortable with creating my own recovery drinks and obtaining the necessary ingredients without breaking the bank (have I mentioned that living on an island is a lesson in tenacity?), I am going to stick with Hammer.

So, paleo is working for me, I am happier and healthier, and don't feel the least bit deprived.  And my experience is showing me that I can do this even if my family can't quite jump on the bandwagon right now.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Making More of An Effort

Friday morning as I got out of the pool shortly after 7:00 my coach says, "That all you got?"  I paused for one second then said that that was all I had time for, but still had plenty left in the tank and could swim another 500 easily.

My comments weighed heavily on me for a better part of the morning.  I realized that if I still had that much energy left after swimming 2100y, then maybe I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.  And yet another comment from another swimmer (who was also a long-time coach and whose wife is a former Olympic-caliber swimmer) on the same morning stayed with me.  He said my swimming looks a LOT better and I am evening out my stroke and cadence, but he said, "Pick up the pace - you need to stop swimming the same lazy speed."

OK - I get it!  I realize that I need to push myself harder in workouts.  I have much more to give and should lay it all out there when it makes sense.  I think I even finished my race last year with some left, even though my run was slow.

Time to kick it up a notch!