Warning: This post is more about food than trail running…although I do think the two are inseparable. Without proper fuel, our bodies can’t perform at their best. And I’ve experienced this exact thing over the past several weeks. I just finished my first 90 mile training week and am truly amazed at how good I feel. I know a lot of my blog readers are interested in performance and doing well in running and in life, so I wanted to share a big life change that has made a huge difference in my running and my life.
On March 10, I woke up with an overwhelming urge to CHANGE SOMETHING. I had been reading about the #Whole30 on Twitter and a friend at work shared a blog post with me. I had read a lot about Paleo and this sounded similar. I was intrigued. I was extremely open to a restart or a detox or whatever you want to call it. I was excited to learn something new. That morning I read through the #Whole30 website, downloaded the book, It Starts With Food, and decided to venture into a #Whole30 eating commitment (I read this word somewhere – I like “commitment” instead of “diet”. It’s empowering and speaks to honoring and making a commitment to myself.). My refrigerator was full of “good” food I didn’t want to trash (homemade lentil soup, hummus, oatmeal, etc.), so I started that first week with no alcohol, no sugar and no dairy while I finished off the grains and legumes in my fridge. I officially started the #Whole30 eating commitment on Sunday, March 17. Today is Day 14 of eating mindfully and eliminating all alcohol, sugars, grains, legumes and dairy. It is Day 14 of eating wonderfully prepared meals full of vegetables, fruits, lean, grass-fed meats and lots of yummy fats like coconut oil, clarified butter, ghee and olive oil. It is a huge commitment, but as the book says, this is not hard. “Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard….It’s only for 30 days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in your lifetime.” So while it’s been challenging, it has not been hard. And it’s been a lot of fun!
Here are just a few of the changes I’ve experienced in only 14 days of eating whole, clean, good foods:
-I’ve had shoulder/arm pain for over a year. Acupuncture didn’t help and my regular doctor said it was tendonitis from the repetitive motion of running. (an arm injury from running…seriously?) I had pretty much resigned myself to pain getting in and out of my sports bra, pain while writing on an easel in my job as a kindergarten teacher, pain on long runs, and the inability to do push-ups or other arm weight workouts. I woke up last week and the pain was GONE. Completely gone. It hasn’t returned, despite a 50K and a 90 mile training week! I’m certain the pain was caused by inflammation due to a grain, dairy or sugar intolerance. Whatever the cause, I am just thrilled that I can do my push-ups again and am in NO pain.
-I’ve had eczema all of my life. It’s on my hands and can be a real problem, sometimes reaching the point where I would need a steroid IV to get it under control. It is now completely gone. My hands are in great shape and this alone is worth never having a cupcake again.
-I’ve had issues with blood sugar since I was a kid. I used to go through my day with lows and highs – intense food cravings an hour or two after that bowl of oatmeal for breakfast…NEEDING my sugar fix mid-afternoon, feeling shaky and like I was going to pass out frequently through long runs and everyday life. These feelings are GONE. I have a steady feeling of energy and have not experienced the lows and/or highs at all. This has been amazing in my long runs. The HAT 50K was one of my best runs with no dips in energy and no shakiness at all. I fueled that run on homemade gu (sweet potato baby food, coconut milk and applesauce), bananas, and Peter Rabbit Organic fruit packets.
I am also sleeping better and waking before the alarm clock. The #Whole30 plan asks you not to weigh yourself, but I do know my clothes are fitting a whole lot looser. I am cooking WAY more than ever before and trying new foods and recipes. An evening of playing around with food as I prepare dinner and lunch for the next day has pleasantly replaced an evening of having a beer or two on the couch. I am mindful of what I eat and am enjoying food so much more. My head is clearer, my body is stronger and I am overall a lot happier. I’m looking forward to the next two weeks on the #Whole30 and to a future of Paleo, healthy, whole & clean food eating!
I had a lot of questions about this before I started. Perhaps you do too. I would recommend reading over the website and searching the #Whole30 hashtag on Twitter. If you want the answers to “WHY no sugar/grains (but oatmeal is GOOD for you!)/legumes (peanut butter?!?!)/dairy????” then read the book, It Starts With Food. The authors do an excellent job explaining all of this. I can’t begin to explain it here. I can only share the remarkable results that I’ve had. And we’re all an experiment of one, yes? Happy eating!