Learning to Eat like an Ironman
I am super excited to introduce my guest blogger on Race Smart this week. Her personal story was just too good to keep to myself, so she very graciously agreed to share it with all of you. Although she is unique and amazing, her personal account of balancing healthy eating with endurance training is very relatable and unfortunately all too common. In just a few weeks, she has seen amazing results in both performance and energy throughout the day using real food, appropriate nutrient timing and fueling well during workouts. Here goes…
“Hi, my name is Jamie and I will admit this: I thought living an active lifestyle meant eating anything I wanted, anytime I wanted. To all those little chocolates that got in my path, I’m sorry I ate each and every piece of you. That wasn’t kind of me. I didn’t even give you a chance to sit in my cupboard. All of those sugary treats went from store shelf to my belly in the blink of an eye. Why? Because I’m a hungry triathlete, that’s why. Living an active lifestyle, and in my case, a multi-sport lifestyle meant that I could eat LITERALLY anything…or so I thought. I’ve been wrong on a lot of things in my life, but this is probably the area that I’ve done the most harm. Admittedly, I assumed that I was burning a ton of calories, so I needed to eat more calories to keep going. To me, a calorie was a calorie, they were all equal and that meant keeping my motor running. In my head, chocolate covered raisins were, in fact, awesome for me. So what if they happened to fall into some chocolate, they’re raisins!!
I attempted to create a balance of enjoying life while trying to make good food choices. Hindsight is always a beautiful thing. It’s crystal clear! Little did I know, I was making horrible food choices and my workouts were really suffering! Suddenly I found myself walking during those long runs. Losing more and more power on the bike. And seriously, you can only blame that boring black line on the bottom of the pool so much. (Oh yeah, and did I mention that I happen to get really, really grumpy if I’ve had a bad workout…). After one too many bad workouts I had to face the facts: It came down to my choices!!
Now, all of my friends know me. They know I don’t like to be wrong and I don’t like to ask for help. Feel free to ask my husband. I will stand on my soapbox ALL DAY LONG pleading my case before I admit to being wrong or before I even ask for help. So of course, I kept trying the newest and “best” eating plans for training. You can’t go wrong with Google right? Here’s the thing though, just because I can Google how to perform heart surgery, doesn’t mean I should actually be performing heart surgery. The same applies to fueling an active body. Just because it’s on the Internet, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Sorry my dearest friends in sport, it’s the Internet, not the law.
I finally figured out I was in trouble when I was told to just eat organic. So, naturally I bought an organic cherry pie and ate it. I don’t think I need to say this, but I will anyway. The organic cherry pie did NOT improve my workouts. Shocking, I know! After that, I started living off of coffee. I was so frustrated with the idea of fueling my body for workouts. Apparently, all calories and nutrients are not created equal when you consider the prospect of enduring hours of aerobic activity every single day. At least the 18 cups of coffee I was drinking each day had enough caffeine in it to keep me going…or relatively going throughout my workouts.
While I was technically getting through my workouts fueled up on coffee; but finished each workout in a slumber. And, it will come as no surprise that I was barely making it through the rest of my day. After all, I still proudly have wife and mom duties!! It wasn’t long before I was positive that I must be the biggest consumer of coffee on the entire eastern seaboard. I’m pretty sure, even the biggest coffee chains couldn’t match my yearly expenditure on those magical roasted beans!
Finally, after so much time spent running into walls (yes, both physically and metaphorically – I was a walking zombie). I was too tired to trust Google anymore. Too many people told me I looked like I was dying. And to top that off, referring to the aforementioned, severe irritability after bad workouts, I was just walking around angry. I was putting so much effort into training and reaping so little rewards. It didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t fair to me. It wasn’t fair to my family. It was then that I finally gave in and admitted that my husband may possibly be right. Action needed to be taken…like yesterday. Since I lack the ability of time travel, despite what the Back to the Future franchise taught us with their magical car that was the DeLorean, I immediately decided to get the help of Susan at Race Smart. While, I’ve been with her less than a month, I’ve seen more gains than I could have imagined. The amazing part of this is: I LOVE THE FOOD. It’s not an all or nothing process. I can eat healthy AND have a little chocolate. I can have a cookie once in a while. It’s not about food deprivation; it’s about food intelligence.
I love sarcasm and hate crying. This time, however, I made an exception. I had tears in my eyes when I saw those brick workouts become more effortless than they have been in a very long time. I now finally feel like anything really is possible. Like I said, hindsight is beautiful. I wish I had started learning how to fuel my body so much earlier. I could have saved myself so much money and aggravation. I could have also eased up on myself. I am, admittedly, my harshest critic. Despite what all of those books and websites will tell you, eating is a science. A serious science. I mean, this is some M.I.T., rocket science, Loop Quantum physics type stuff. I promise, this is something you won’t find on ANY Internet search engine. However, with the right help, I’m getting there. I’m still learning and I’m definitely not graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in the science of eating anytime soon – but I am looking forward to seeing what happens in one month, two months, even a year from now. I honestly can’t wait. And maybe I’ve been watching too much Toy Story with my 4 year old but to quote Buzz Lightyear: To infinity and beyond!!!
This is just the beginning of my journey and there is no limit!.
Until next time… happy training!
Your friend in sport,”
Learning to Eat like an Ironman