Most people who are a casual friend to me probably assume I am a healthy eater. I guess it tends to go with the territory of an underweight ultra runner. Not to mention that any good OCD sufferer should care a lot about their diet. The catch is I did care about my diet. I cared a heck of a lot about not eating more calories than I burned and I kept painful track of every calorie that went into my body, making sure it never exceeded what I perceived I had or would burn for that day. The easiest way to do this was to eat basically the same thing every day. And I care a lot about not eating meat because I believe it drains the earth or resources.
But it was a running joke on SR's side of the family that I didn't take care of myself, after my 6 year old niece, Rebecca said this to me while I was rolling around on the ground in pain from my heart burn. She was right.
All of this is in the past tense, though, because something happened. And my approach to eating has taken almost a 180 degree turn.
(Granted I had flirted with quite healthy eating while pregnant, I inevitably fell back to my old habits when unpregnant)
So what happened? Well, the first thing was my astounding realisation that eating a chocolate bar for breakfast every morning left me tired during my workouts. One day I just said "enough!" and I bought gluten free granola and Hemp milk and ate that for breakfast instead. IT WAS AMAZING the difference in energy I experienced!
Around the same time (two months ago) I decided to give up my proton pump inhibitor (Lansoprazole) prescription antacid mediation, hoping it would decrease the stomach bloating/pregnant-looking stomach I was experiencing. While it didn't take the bloating away, it made me more careful about what I ate. When I read the article about diet soda (presumably artificial sweeteners) causing stomach bloating, I was in just the right mind frame to give up those 5-7 cans a day.
Initially I replaced the diet soda with Zevia (sweetened with Stevia, a plant which has been used as a sweetener for hundreds of years in South America),but since I read it may lower blood pressure, I also drink La Croix and just plain water since my BP is like most other ultra runners. My waist has shrunk 3½ inches.
All this opened the flood gates. I gave up all artificial sweeteners (not only did this include that pack a day of gum, but those yucky sugar free chocolates I ate on a daily basis). I joked at dinner the other night that I don't even want articial sweeteners touching my skin, but it actually wasn't a joke. I started eating fresh fish with my vegetables almost every night. Instead of eating chocolate on my runs, I eat Clif Builders bars which consist of mostly soy protein isolate and beet juice, all natural ingredients and most organic.
I have so much energy and feel so much more stable in my mood that I feel as though I truly have found the holy grail.
This past week following Afton I had two 3 hour runs and one 4½ hour run on trails, my fastest 8 x 1km interval session, 3 x 40+ mile bike rides, two with my new Team Velotek North girlfriends and one actually holding on to SR the entire distance as he went his hardest. Add to this long swims, core and yoga. And I don't have a speck of pain in my body. I feel as if I have been born again. And I basically never think about calories but only about the health benefits of what I eat- and of course my weight is the same or slightly less. And yet all I want is to have strength for my workouts.
And the acid reflux I used to have?? Well I do take probiotics daily now, but it is gone! It is better than it was when I was throwing the PPI at it every day. I have come to realise how effective diet is in controlling your body- and when I was observing in family medicine clinic the other day, I was extremely saddened by doctors still doing so much pill pushing for lifestyle illnesses, which SHOULD be treated with diet and exercise. This is 2012! Drugs are so passé.
The bad part of this is I have become (even more) annoying and I am judging people. I tease SR that he lives the "80's American dream" with all of his soda and candy (this is so ironic, though, since he has had a healthier diet than me (I?) up until two months ago). And we have a friend visiting from Denmark now who tonight wanted to go buy Fruit Loops and diet soda - and I felt I needed to stop her "but what do you get out of eating like that??" (yet that was just like me coming from Denmark in December-- "wow!! Look at all of this cheap, yummy low-cal food!").
Edit: (I need to add this info so the above post makes slightly more sense!): This is a very complicated topic for me to explain. I love eating healthy and I know it makes me feel better and I have known that for as long as I can remember. But this odd belief that I need to eat exactly the same thing every day and limit my calories to a certain amount (otherwise aliens will kill me???) has trumped every ounce of good sense in the past. Interestingly, adding artificial sweetened things to my diet was the biggest health setback I have experienced.
Running song of the day (for long trail runs or a cool down): With Just One Glance by Nicolas Jaar
(like a series of abstract paintings in deep, bright colours)