This week also marks the start of the early training season slim down lean up DIET (cue dramatic music)!
Ok it’s not really a diet. Having struggled with weight and body image issues for virtually my entire life (wah wahhhh), the traditional diet/calorie counting thing just doesn’t work for me. Makes me go super crazy town in a bad way. But, after the stress of moving and the temptations of the holidays, I want to get myself in a better nutritional place while I can and prepare myself as best as possible for a hard training season.
Enough whining. Instead of the D word, let’s just say here’s 10 simple (enough) rules I’ll aim to live by for the next 9 weeks.
1. Lots and lots of fresh veggies and fruits! Good thing we joined that farm share.
2. Just say no to sugars and processed carbs. Acceptable carbs include goodies like sweet potatoes and other starchy veggies. Some whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats), but with an eye to keeping those to a relative minimum as well.
3. Seriously, that also means candy. Stop eating so daggum much candy.
4. Lots of good, quality protein. After much consternation, I will be adding back in some lean animal protein into my diet. I always eat seafood, but otherwise I have been pretty much meatless since returning from our trip to Zambia last April. I’m going to try adding in some (humanely raised, local) poultry for this 9 week phase and see how it works for me.
5. No dairy except plain unsweetened yogurt. Lactose and I are rarely friends, and I find I don’t miss it when I cut it out. Keeping yogurt in for its good cultures (and low lactose content). Emphasis on good greek yogurt for its high protein content.
6. Generally, avoid processed and canned items. No one needs that much sodium or un-pronounceable ingredients.
7. Ixnay on the coffee. And minimize black tea. My mind and body are always clearer/happier when I’m drinking mate or green tea instead.
8. Smoothie for breakfast! This helps with many of the above rules, and just helps to start the day right. I’ve stocked up on hemp and other plant-based proteins that I especially like. Fruit + kale or spinach + protein powder + almond milk + a bit of nut butter. Quick, easy, satisfying, and keeps me going all morning. Yes, I am a fervent follower of the Green Monster Movement.
9. Go nuts for nuts (and seeds)! They are good for me, but also they are delicious. What do you mean you don’t eat peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon? Weirdo.
10. Lay off the booze. There’s been plenty over the holidays, and I could use a break. Occasional glass of wine here or there will be enjoyed, but no need to go crazy.
Blah blah disclaimer: I am in NO WAY a nutrition expert. So none of this is advice for anyone else except me. I just know what makes my body feel and work better, and what has worked for me in the past.
These 9 weeks of rules are geared toward getting me on track with healthy choices after the holiday season, and a much needed purging of some toxins. I happen to think that for the most part these are just good rules to live by. Eat fresh whole foods, buy them locally when you can, and don’t eat processed crap. I’m not a doctor, but it’s really not hard to figure out that eating real food is better for you than eating something made in a factory or a lab. /ENDRANT
But these 9 weeks of rules are also geared toward building lean muscle and cutting body fat in preparation for the build and peak phases of training. It’s no secret that leaner athletes are faster, more efficient, and recover better and faster as well. Cutting out processed foods and dairy, and focusing on the low carb high protein thing has worked for me in this regard in the past. Frankly, I have no idea if it would work for anyone else. I’m not in that business.
One more note on the low carb thing. My cardio training volume is low enough and the intensity is low enough for the next 9 weeks that I can manage going relatively light on carbs and it will aid in my goals. I in no way intend to continue that eating method when the training hours start piling up more and more in the build and peak phase. Low carb is not a sustainable eating method for an endurance athlete. At least not for me. I’ll be a pasta maniac come June, I assure you.