Monday, March 11, 2013

On Dieting: PART 2

I am both amazed and humbled by the response of last week's post On Dieting, right here on this blog. Obviously, diet in Ultra-running is a popular subject.. but so is dieting in general. Much of the personal responses I've received included continued encouragement, but also with similar questions. The most common line of questioning was: "Any more in depth information on what your daily diet was to drop like that? " I knew after my original post that I couldn't just throw up results and leave it at that. After all, research shows you all stop reading after so many words. So, it's led to this follow up post where I'm going to outline as best I can, the choices I've made and how I've managed to see the success I have on this diet.

So, I'll start with the elephant in the room. Exercise. I've been exercising religiously since October 16th.   A few folks questioned my training for July's Vermont 100 starting to Early. Most runners are just now getting back to their wheelhouse workouts. I've been there for a few months now. I knew I had work to do, and I made the choice to do it. But what does it look like? I started out slow, baby steps, towards getting back into fitness. Like I said, that first 3 mile run on October 16th was painful and didn't offer me much in the way of hope. Here is a snapshot of what the first week of November looked like:

This would become my weekly training regime. Though, I'll add that Monday's typically offer a zero/rest day. I've been running three mid-week runs and two back-back-to-back long runs, since late October. January, of course, saw my biggest weight loss since starting the diet and is the month where I ran at least 2 miles a day (avg. 6+) on all 31 days of the month. It isn't a coincidence that I lost the most weight so far, during the month where I worked out every single day. Diet alone, is not the miracle cure. Consistency + SWEAT + Diet.. is. What have we worked up to since? Here is a snapshot of two weeks ago:
Typically, Wednesday offers my mid-week long run and Saturday my weekend long run. Based on the weather, doctors appointments, meetings, interviews, etc; things tend to get shuffled around. Yet still.. the miles are being run and in a methodical order. The same training plan that helped me lose weight and seek 100-mile success all the way back in 2007, is the same plan I'm following now and it's working. Injury Free. I started following it on December 6th and so help me god, I've followed it as closely as humanly possible since. Through good days and bad. Fast runs and slow. Feeling good and feeling awful. Well rested and exhausted. I committed to doing the work and the end of March will mark only the second time in my running career that I've run 200+ miles in three consecutive months (2008).

Repeat After Me:
Diet AND Exercise
Sweat = Good

Now for the good stuff. The real question is, what has your diet looked like that has helped you be so successful? So here it is..

Eliminations: This is the list of foods and/or ingredients that I do my very best to avoid, or have avoided completely since starting my diet back in October. I'll start by saying that I haven't had a single drop of Soda since October 25th nor have I made it to any Fast Food restaurants for anything. I don't drink beer. When I have, it's only been one, maybe two, of Corona Light. Instead, I drink wine on rare occasion and Woodchuck Hard Cider if there is reason to celebrate. 

Wait. So what do I drink? Water. Lots of water with ice in it. I'll even cut a lemon in half, and squeeze it's sour goodness into the water for taste. This is actually very good for your brain and your digestive track. So I don't mind it. When I need to drink something with flavor I'll have pure apple cider, or Iced Green Tea (sometimes mixed with natural lemonade). 

I try and stick with anything that is truly All Natural or has a USDA Organic Logo on the side. There is NO High Fructose Corn Syrup in my diet, or Corn syrup at all. If it is an item I am cooking with, I go with an item that lists these ingredients near the bottom of the list. No one is perfect, I'm certainly not, but it's working to have avoided most, if not all, sweeteners from my diet. So sugar, no soda, no HFCS, no CS, no aspartame or Sucralose. Nothing with an abundance of ingredients I can't say, name or identify with.

I've also done away with dairy. No Wheat. Nothing with any unhealthy (saturated) fats in it. No, my fridge isn't very full, neither is the pantry. I like it that way. I figure, if the fridge is full, I automatically think that I need to eat everything in it so that it doesn't go to waste. So I'll eat it, all. Instead, out of sight out of mind. Our pantry is the same way and only includes foods we will eat and very little of anything we won't. The start of the diet was throwing out the very foods we won't eat, or should eat, while on the diet. Throw them out = The End.

Breakfast: Every morning since October I have had a green smoothie for Breakfast. These are it's ingredients
1 Cup Chopped Fresh Kale - 1.5 Cups of Water - 1 Cup of Frozen Organic Berries (Blue, Rasp, Cherry, Pomegranate) - 1 Peeled Fresh Banana - 1 Tbsp Udo's Omega Blend Oil - 1 Handful of thin sliced Almonds
I blend all of this up in my Vitamix until it's all chummed up to the consistency I enjoy. The almond's give just enough protein to fill me up and tide me over until lunch. I love my smoothies, great way to start my day. About 30-60 minutes after drinking it, it's off to the bathroom for my daily colon cleanse (if ya catch my drift). Out with the bad, in with the good.

Breakfast Substitute = I've been making my own version of THESE Refrigerator Oatmeal things. Though, I substitute organic milk with Silk instead. We follow the Raspberry Recipe and substitute with Strawberries and Preserves. I'll also eat this for lunch mostly but have eaten it on mornings when I have to run. 

Lunch: I snack, all day, between breakfast and dinner. My snacks mostly include mixed nuts with raisins. I'll eat about a half a cup to a full cup of mixed nuts every day and I mix my raisins in with it all. I also snack on applesauce, mozzarella cheese sticks (yes.. I know I said no dairy.. this is all I have and have 2-3 a day), fruit leathers, all natural tortilla chips with guacamole or fresh salsa. Apples, strawberries, etc. 

If I am so included to actually eat lunch, I'll make a PB&J sandwich using all natural peanut butter with no additives or preservatives, and whatever preserves I have.

We have three things in our house. 1.) Cage Free Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts, 2.) Lean Steak 3.) Ground Buffalo.
We alternate nights between those three main meats. I do indulge in ONE pizza night a week, and I also have a pasta night (gotta live). I grill a lot. So, the meats are almost always grilled unless it's taco/gordita night with the Buffalo, or I've made buffalo meat loaf.

I have steamed sweet corn, sweet peas, or green beans with just about every meal. And our main sides rotate between baked/mashed/sliced potatoes, brown rice with quinoa, brown rice noodles, couscous and risotto.

When we do have dessert it's low or no fat, organic, yogurt (love Stoneyfield Farms). Sometimes we have a sweet tooth and we indulge in gluten free chocolate chip cookies which also feature no preservatives, HFCS, etc. 

So that is really it. Green Smoothie for breakfast, snack on healthy snacks all day to keep the metabolism cooking, and a lean meat dinner with steamed veggies and a sensible side. Water with lemon, or cider and I stay away from as much processing as we possibly can.

Keep track!!
This is the important part. Everyone should spend the time to figure out what their caloric requirements are for any given day. BMR = your Base Metabolic Rate. Everyone's is different based on age, sex, height, activity level, etc and there are websites out there that will help you figure that number out. Use online calorie counting tools to help you figure out, exactly how much you're putting into your body every day. It's a good way to open your eyes to what you're actually eating and how much of it. is a good resource for this at first.

Also keep track of your running. Look for trends. You lose weight during the weeks you exercise (x) amount vs. weeks you exercise (y) amount. 

Do the work!