Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Update on Swim Bike Fuel - 3 months on

Hello hello!

I'm still working on my post about the Hustle Up the Hancock - I promise it'll be up before the weekend! For now though, I thought I'd give an update on Swim Bike Fuel, partly because Katelyn asked me for one, and partly because I've been meaning to do one. I know that registration is open for the April session so I figured I'd get on it now and not wait! (And I encourage you to go read that post from MV!)

This post is one big wall of text - you've been warned!

Let's be honest...
I want to be 100% honest when I discuss this because I know some people reading this want to gauge whether or not they should try the program, so I'll start by saying I definitely "fell off the wagon" in January and February. Like with every other thing in life, the only person who will get you to commit to things is you, and for most of February I just didn't give two farts. February is already a really hard month for me emotionally (it is chock full from start to end with anniversaries of death and sadness), I had some seasonal depression hit, and I've been feeling a bit "stuck" in my certainly didn't help that I wasn't eating well so everything just got worse and it became a vicious cycle.

Being "off program"
I hate saying that because it makes it seem like there's some big trick to following the things I learned, like counting points or calories or doing something "special". There isn't. When I say I was "off program" I mean I was eating whatever the hell I wanted and not considering how it was impacting my body day to day.

And it really showed. It showed in my energy and performance, and I skipped more workouts in February than I have in a long, long time, because I just didn't have the energy to do them. I was eating crappy on the weekends and after dinner, and eating like that killed my desire to do anything physical on the weekends. There were actually a few Sundays when I just laid on the couch and did nothing, or only went to Saturday yoga because I go with my mom. Though I was very good at applying the principles in SBF to my breakfast and lunch at work, after that I'd just let loose (mostly in the form of cookies after dinner...). I didn't gain any weight, but like I said, I felt like crap a lot of the time.

The only big "good" change I made this year (that really has nothing to do with SBF, it's just a personal choice I made) is that I haven't been drinking alcohol. I've only had one glass of white wine all year! I realized that alcohol - even just one drink - has a nasty effect on my stomach that makes me feel nauseous (and bloated and tired in the morning), and I always find myself nibbling on things to help the nausea go away. After my cousin's wedding in December I just figured, "Forget it!" and stopped drinking. And now that I think about it, that "one glass" of wine was really half a glass mixed with seltzer water.

I'm such a lush.

Getting "Back on Track"
Now, all of that said, over the last few weeks I really started to take charge and restructure my eating. I'm drinking a ton of water again, and it's my go to when I feel an energy slump coming on.

Now, in a typical day I have the following:
  • Water:  80-100oz a day (easily), more if I do cardio.
  • Breakfast (this is what works for me, but it's different for everyone)
    • quality protein rather than mostly carbs: usually a combination of hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, and/or a Kind bar
    • greek yogurt with oatmeal and fruit
    • apple (sometimes with a bit of pb) or orange
    • coffee (3/4 decaf, working towards fully decaf as I tame the headaches)
  • Lunch
    • Dinner leftovers with a small salad
    • a salad with chicken and nuts from the cafe
  • Preworkout Snack (depends on how hungry I am)
    • Kind bar
    • tangerine
    • sometimes nothing
  • Dinner: It's generally something healthy.
    • Monday was Pot Roast
    • Sunday was turkey, vegetables, and potatoes
    • Cam and I eat a lot of eggs, brown rice, and broccoli
    • Chipotle once a week - I get a chicken burrito bowl with guac, black beans, and lettuce, no cheese or sour cream (and I don't eat all the rice they put on it because I'm usually too full when I get to that layer)
  • After Dinner "20%": Usually something sweet
    • a couple of Dove Promises
    • one of my favorite chocolate chip cookies
    • some scrumptious dark chocolate and pistachio toffee from Mariano's.
My whole point with outlining this is to say: I have gone back through the principles from Swim Bike Fuel and more fully applied them in my life by being more aware of why I'm eating what I'm eating.

Also of note
I do still struggle a bit with too much sugar after dinner, but it has gotten much, much better the last two weeks.

I make sure to NEVER let myself get too hungry because then I just want pizza and brownies :P

I've drastically reduced my caffeine intake, and I'm so glad I did. You'll read more in my Hustle post, but I had regular coffee the morning of and realized, 'Holy shit, my body DOES react to caffeine!' This is exactly what I wanted to happen, because I'm hoping I can utilize caffeine during my races this year.

I'm still working on weekend nutrition, but I'm getting better. I went out for "brunch" twice this weekend, and both times I had eggs with veggies. I splurged after the Hustle and got pancakes too, but it's because I love myself (and restaurant pancakes). Bottom line: It's getting better :)

I'm still taking the same vitamins I mentioned in the last post about SBF - a daily multivitamin, a turmeric supplement, fish oil, a D3 supplement, and a probiotic. I also have a La Croix with tart cherry juice every day with lunch.

I've now been taking all of these consistently for about four months, and there is definitely a difference in my body. I was really lax with my vitamins (read: forgot to take them) for about a week in January, and it felt like my whole body swelled up and hurt. I went back to taking the supplements and juice when I realized I'd forgot and OMG, it made such a difference. Especially with my ankle/tendinitis, the supplements make a difference. I'm a believer, and they will carry me through race season.

The Difference
The best part of "recommitting", for me, is that in the last few weeks I have seen a jump in my endurance, quality of sleep, and motivation. I've already said that I skipped about 4 training sessions for the Hustle in February, but I got back on track with eating and training about two weeks before the event. Sunday morning I had the same breakfast I used to eat when training for my half marathon: A Clif bar with about 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter. It's more added sugar than some other options, but I know it works for my stomach when combined with prerace jitters.

Sidenote: Natural pb is amazing. It's so much better than your average Skippy/Jiffy pb It has WAY less sugar (um, none). Smucker's makes a good one, and Costco has a natural pb under their Kirkland brand which I am in love with! 

Anyways, I felt amazing before, during, and after the Hustle (I wasn't sore at all), and I really feel that it's because I ate well before the race - both dinner (chopped salad with some bread) and breakfast. I also didn't hit up the post race buffet - you guys, they had pizza AND bagels, but I wasn't really hungry and knew I'd be having brunch soon. Instead, I had a banana, tangerine, and checked out the Nuun booth and sampled their stuff.

I've dropped a few pounds (I'm sure they're just water that my body was holding on to), but I've also PR'd my deadlift and had the energy to run after work and on the weekends. The change in energy has been night and day, and will be really important for me later in the month when I start adding in morning runs to get ready for my summer training schedule.

Food Guilt
The biggest change that SBF instilled in me was to not feel guilty about what I eat, whatever it is. I don't have a ton to say about this, but my perspective really has shifted. Even when I was eating poorly last month I knew it was a choice I was making, and didn't continuously beat myself up for it.

Racing and Performance via Nutrition
I still haven't had the chance to test out the race day nutrition stuff that I learned from SBF. We're getting there, though. I was ecstatic to see that Nuun had a booth at the Hustle Expo, and I tried the flavors they had so I could get a better idea of what to order for training. I'm also excited to try out Huma Gels, especially since I can get a discount with MA's code.

I cannot express how excited I am to tackle race nutrition this year, so stay tuned for a couple of months for that post! :P

Comparing SBF to something (very) different
Lastly (I hope), I want to add in that throughout February I was part of a Facebook group (that I've since left) full of women who weight lift and follow If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). IIFYM is way different from SBF. The simplest explanation of  in that you have to weigh and count everything you eat, but it doesn't matter what you eat, as long as it fits your macros. If anyone out there is a fan, I'm not trying to knock it, but it's not for me and that's the simplest way I can think of to explain it.

IIFYM is really used to change body composition via diet and lifting, rather than focusing on performance in endurance events. The Facebook group had such a negative effect on me mentally (partly because some of the women were really conceited), and only served to confuse me about eating. I truly do believe you should find a way of eating/working out that works for you, but the heavy emphasis (eh, obsession) with protein consumption that this group had seemed to border on unhealthy.

One of the things discussed over and over were protein bars, and there was especially a lot of talk about Quest Bars since they went through their reformulation while I was in this group - which included the chance to get free Quest bars mailed to you as a "Try before you by" promotion. With SBF I stopped any and all consumption of fake sugars, and when I got my free Quest bars I ended up trashing them because they tasted like straight up xylitol. Like I said - with IIFYM it doesn't matter what you eat, as long as it "fits your macros". So there was a lot of encouragement to eat things that are just totally fake foods. It put me in a mindset that it was totally okay to eat those things...except that when I did I felt like crap.

So I did a 180 and looked back at SBF and it was an eye opener that, hey, I should probably be eating real food instead and not listening to some horrific "nutrition" advice from people on Facebook who hate cardio (yes, it was a common theme to hate on anything that got your heartrate about 120bpm). I dropped the group and am feeling much happier and more secure in the decisions I'm making about what to eat.

That's not to say there isn't room for it in SBF, but no one is going to encourage you to eat a Quest bar a day and tell you, "Oh yeah, it's totally normal not to poop and be constipated from eating protein bars" because, really, we shouldn't be encouraging that...

Social Aspect
Oh wait, I thought of one more thing. SBF continues to provide support and encouragement for me. My November group was full of wonderful, supportive triathlete ladies, who acknowledge that "we're all in this together". I never once felt not good enough to be part of my group (unlike the "other" Facebook group I mentioned), and the social and support aspect of SBF and my alum group is still encouraging to me.

Bottom Line
The bottom line is that, even though I fell off the wagon, when I got back on it my performance and energy soared again. I'm back to eating real foods with a purpose, and still enjoying chocolate chip cookies after dinner. The next three months are my "preseason" and ramping up for tri training, and I will be sticking to SBF as the days get longer and workouts get more intense and numerous.

That said: At the end of the day I am still making the choices. I am in charge of myself, my effort, and my performance. As MV/MA said recently, it has less to do with motivation, and more to do with discipline.

Is it boring to eat the same thing for breakfast 5 days of the week and have leftovers for lunch almost every day? Yes. Is it boring to order a version of the same thing at every meal out? Yes. But it helps me stay disciplined, and takes away the guess work of "what will I have for lunch". It may be boring, but it's helping me to fuel my workouts every day.

It also helps me really look forward to working out after work and eating dinner afterwards, because when you eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch, dinner gets a whole lot more exciting ;) So there's that.

This has been a decent reflection. I haven't been perfect, I will continue to be imperfect, but it's all about progress anyways...not perfection.

And with that...Happy Hump Day!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing!! There is a lot of great information here and I think "falling off" and getting back on are natural. I am about there myself and trying to recommit to better health and eating well. Runs for Cookies just talked about dropping the guilt around eating poorly and I think I need to focus on that too. Good for you for recommitting, removing groups and people with negative impacts, and for being honest here. So glad you wrote this!!