Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I did it! Whole 30 successfully completed, but what now?

I am a super hero. I just completed 30 entire days on the Whole 30. This is the most successful run I've ever had on a "diet." The process has transformed my eating patterns and has helped me to understand the difference between cravings and hunger. I've also discovered foods that were not regularly in my eating rotation. So as Kai Ryssdal from NPR's Marketplace says, "let's do the numbers:"

Weight loss - I lost 8 lbs during the Whole 30. Again, pretty significant for someone who never can drop weight. It should also be noted that the first two weeks were extremely difficult to exercise because I was exhausted all the time. The sugar detox really drained me so I lost that weight without my normal exercise routine.

Inches - about 5 inches overall. I noticed this the most in my waist and thighs.

Macronutrients - My daily breakdown was give or take around 50% fat, 20% protein and 30% carb. Sometimes the carbs creeped up a little higher if I had more fruit but the percentages were in and around these ranges most days. The fat intake may seem high but it's in line believe it or not. This was a major shift in my thinking. Fat is not bad.

Calories - between 1500 and 1700 daily. On days with 45-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, I might get up to 1800. Whole 30 says not to track calories or macros but I wanted to know for when I go back to civilian life. Shockingly, I never felt hungry but I had to be careful with timing, particularly after a workout. Also, my calorie intake mostly occurred between 8a and 8p. I would sometimes bring my breakfast to work because I wasn't hungry enough to eat it until around10a.

What I learned:

  • Eating whole, non-processed foods 100% of the time is not that hard - it just takes planning. I tried to avoid eating out and cooked at home A LOT during the last 30 days to control what I was eating. I have a lot of meetings over meals and I was out of town for work 8 days this month so it required a lot of planning. If I had a breakfast or lunch meeting, I would always look at the menu before I arrived at the restaurant. I also kept Whole 30-approved snacks to a minimum but on hand for emergencies. Thank God for Larabars.
  • I was eating WAY TOO MUCH sugar before Whole 30. When I think about the amount of processed sugar I was eating before this month, it's a little embarrassing. Like a 10-year-old kid embarrassing.
  • I should probably avoid dairy altogether. I've been lactose intolerant all my life. I use lactaid, dairy pills etc, but my gut has felt so much better this month and I think no dairy has a lot to do with that.
  • I'm stronger than I originally thought. I can exercise willpower. If I ate Whole 30 even 75-80% of the time, I'd be in good shape with my nutrition.
Whole 30 complete! What now?
I plan to shift to primarily Paleo eating which is extremely similar to the Whole 30 but a little more flexible on substitutes for sweeteners and grains. Last month, I started reading Paleo Diet for Athletes, which is co-written by the guru of triathlon/endurance training, Joe Friel. He is a proponent of Paleo eating and believes it improves performance. For me, it's about finding balance and this way of eating is now understandable for me and I know it actually can taste good too.

Tomorrow on day 31, I will have a glass of wine in the evening and I will likely use Splenda in my coffee (still will use unsweetened coconut milk for creamer) but I am going to try to keep this going for a bit and drop some more weight before the main triathlon training season starts. Curious about Whole 30? I strongly suggest you read the book and get to know Pinterest. Thanks for your support these last 30 days!
This actually tastes as good as it looks!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reflections After Week 3 of the Whole 30

It's hard to believe that I have successfully completed 21 days of the Whole 30. I have been pretty honest with my food and have not strayed. Although, today I did have a chai tea with coconut milk which I suspect has a gram or 2 of cane sugar, but I'm not going to sweat it. Interestingly, I was planning to use sunflower butter on my pear yesterday and when I tasted it, I immediately knew it was sweetened. I looked at the jar and it included sugar...so I had to go back to using the raw almond butter. It's amazing that I can tell right away if there's added sugar.

As I enter my last 10 days of the Whole 30, I feel pretty good about myself. I think I may have lost some weight but according to Whole 30 rules, I'm not able to weight myself until the end. I am most proud of how I've been able to find some willpower. I have never been successful for this long on a "diet." It's definitely changed how I feel about food. I've been cooking a lot, learned a lot about food and my food cravings have virtually vanished. Would I like to have dessert, artificial sweetener in my coffee and a nice glass of wine? Yeah, sure, but I don't need it. One of the most significant lessons I've learned on the Whole 30 is the difference between hunger and craving. I've asked myself so many times: am I hungry right now or is this just a craving? It's a simple question but when you really analyze your feelings, it's a simple answer.

Ben has been back and forth from Nebraska as he finishes his PA clinical rotations so I have been cooking for myself mostly. When I cook, I've been really getting into this reality show on the History Channel called "Alone." The premise of the show is 10 people are left alone on Vancouver Island to survive until only one person is left. Each participant can choose 10 items to bring with them. They have to build their own shelters, find food (mostly fishing and rodents) and combat loneliness. As the participants remain on the island for 1 week, 2 weeks, 2 months(!), it all comes down to willpower. At any time, a participant can pick up their satellite phone and "tap out" (quit the show). Within an hour, a boat will arrive and take them home. A number of the participants have incredible survival skills  - they're able to build canoes, pretty nice shelters and a number of items that would allow them to live in the wilderness for quite some time. However, the individuals who win, have really strong mental toughness. As silly as it sounds, if these people have the mental toughness to survive in the wild for 2 months, I can go a month without sugar.

I'll post an update on Day 31. Wish me look for the next 10 days!

Monday, January 16, 2017

End of Whole 30 Week 2...and change of race plans

Week 2 on the Whole 30 was significantly better than week 1. No more headaches and I finally have the energy to exercise. I've been getting creative with my cooking and using a number of cool gadgets including my spiralizer which makes zucchini noodles, a magic bullet for smoothies and a juicer. The cravings have subsided a bit and overall, I feel pretty good. I'm in a bit of a routine at this point and I am very deliberate with my food planning. If I have to eat out, I search for Paleo-friendly restaurants, which typically fit within the Whole 30 guidelines. My brother has been in town for a few days and we went to an AMAZING Paleo-friendly restaurant in Boulder called Zeal.
I had a dish with cauliflower "rice" and braised beef. My brother had cauliflower "wings" and lavender-infused komboucha on tap. I also had a divine cup of dairy free, sugar free chai. Thank you, Zeal, for making dinner interesting last Friday. I'm now on the hunt for similar restaurants in Denver.

In other news, I decided to adjust my race schedule a bit. I've been considering the Escape Triathlon Series as an option instead of 106° West Triathlon. First place in age groups (including Athena/Clydesdale) win a free entry to the coveted Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. It's a race that has been on my bucket list and it's hard to win a lottery slot. I would register as an Athena and see what happens. I was also thinking it might be fun to race at sea level after training and racing at altitude all summer. The closest Escape event to me is Des Moines, so I decided to register while the early bird pricing is in effect.

Sunday, April 23 - Cherry Creak Sneak 10 mile run - Denver, CO
Saturday, May 27 - Sky Sprint Triathlon - Ann Arbor, MI
Saturday, June 3 - Colorado Triathlon (Olympic) - Boulder, CO
Saturday, June 25 - Tri the Boat (Olympic) - Steamboat Springs, CO
Saturday, July 9 - Tour de Ladies (metric century [62.5 mi] bike ride) - Parker, CO
Saturday, August 5 - Ironman Boulder 70.3 - Boulder, CO
Sunday, September 3 - Escape Des Moines Triathlon (Olympic) - Des Moines, IA
Saturday, September 9 - 106° West Triathlon (Olympic) - Dillon, CO

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Whole 30 while attending conference in New York...

Today is Day 9 of my Whole 30 experiment. No dairy, no sugar, no grains, no alcohol.  I arrived in New York for the APAP conference on Thursday thinking, if I could make it through the conference and maintain my Whole 30 standards, I can do anything. It's not easy. Great food and drinks are around every corner so it's been difficult but I can happily say that I am still on track. Not one slip...no drinks during dinner. I've been drinking water and club soda like it's going out of style. The only caffeine I've had has been from black coffee and tea. I'm drinking black coffee like it's the best-tasting drink I've ever had. No desserts or sweets of any sort. I thought abstaining from sugar would be the most difficult, but the food monotony has been worse. When you're sticking to non-processed foods on the road, there's a certain amount of repetitiveness. Also, I ask for almost everything without dressings, sauces, etc. so it's just a little boring. Again, it's practically miraculous that I haven't strayed.

So how do you feel, Kendra?! Well, not too bad for the most part. I've experienced headaches in the evening and occasionally I get a sugar craving. I have been trying to evaluate whether or not I'm feeling hunger or craving. I am starting to feel more attuned to the difference. I've also felt extremely tired. I haven't had a proper workout since I started but I've been walking around town a lot so I have decent step counts each day. From what I read, week 2 will be better.

I'm glad to be back in Denver where I can cook my own food and grocery shop. Walking through Sprouts this evening was a beautiful thing.

I'll report in at the end of week 2. Stay tunes!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Race Schedule and the start of The Whole 30

2016 was a good year in many ways. I finished my MBA (finally!). Ben and I made the move to Denver for a great career opportunity for me...and for him when he finishes PA school in March. Ben and I had some fun trips to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. However, 2016 was not a year for triathlon accomplishments. With a nagging calf strain, I pretty much sucked at running all year. My work/travel and school schedule got in the way of of training and I just didn't get enough hours in overall. My race times were slower and I ended up not starting at Ironman Racine 70.3 because of nasty weather (and, frankly, lack of drive). I also gained weight to the tune of 13 pounds over last year, and last year I was already 10 pounds more than I should be.

And so I begin 2017 in Denver, CO, the epicenter of healthy living. The beginning of the year is a nice time to cleanse, purge, start anew so I'm going to start with my eating habits. I've tried a number of diets and not much sticks, other than calorie tracking. My real problem is that healthy, non-emotional eating is not really part of my routine. I do well for a while and then eat a ton of junk. I often make excuses: no time, I'm on "vacay," I deserve a reward, etc.

I had heard about The Whole 30 through friends and decided to read the book. The concept is the "change your relationship with food"...exactly what I need. It focuses on whole, non-processed foods - no added sugar, no dairy, no alcohol for 30 days to "reset" your eating habits and end the cycle of poor eating, sugar/carb addiction, binging, etc. During the 30 days, you also have to eliminate grains and legumes...no bread, no beans, no peanuts. It's going to be intense, but I'm going to give it a shot. I'm going to try and document my progress at the end of each week. My Whole 30 experiment starts tomorrow, Jan. 2. Send your willpower vibes my way - I will need them!

As for 2017 racing, I'm hoping this nutrition reset will also result in stronger results on race days. One of the awesome things about Colorado is, the weather is fairly moderate throughout the year allowing for relatively comfortable outdoor training year round. Man, I love this place. I have already taken advantage of winter cycling, hiking, snowshoeing and running. I also get the opportunity to train at higher altitude than where I live. Denver is around 5000 mi elevation and one can easily get to 7500, 8K or even 10K elev. within 2 hours. Have I mentioned I LOVE Colorado?! Because I live and train in the triathlon mecca, I plan to do all of my 2017 racing in Colorado. I also plan to get a power meter this year and really build on my cycling progress, which was one of the only positive things about my 2016 season, primarily due to the purchase of an awesome bike. So, without further ado, here are my plans for 2017:


Sunday, April 23 - Cherry Creak Sneak 10 mile run - Denver, CO
Saturday, May 27 - Sky Sprint Triathlon - Ann Arbor, MI
Saturday, June 3 - Colorado Triathlon (Olympic) - Boulder, CO
Saturday, June 25 - Tri the Boat (Olympic) - Steamboat Springs, CO
Saturday, July 9 - Tour de Ladies (metric century [62.5 mi] bike ride) - Parker, CO
Saturday, August 5 - Ironman Boulder 70.3 - Boulder, CO
Saturday, September 9 - 106° West Triathlon (Olympic) - Dillon, CO

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

May Races and Countdown to Racine

May was a ridiculous month for me: MBA finals and graduation, races, travel to New York for work, travel to CO for fun. Although it was a great month, each Monday I would see the note in my calendar outlining my training for the week and the remaining training weeks to Racine. 8 weeks, 7 weeks, 6 weeks...as each week it would tick down, I started to question why I decided to do this race rather than Steelhead which is a month later. This week marks five weeks to Racine. Last week, I finally felt like I was getting it together with slow-but-pain-free training and completing all my prescribed workouts. "Yeah," I said. "Maybe this won't be a disaster after all."

My May and June races thus far have been less than stellar. Kansas City Triathlon was a mediocre performance, Bolder Boulder was my slowest time of the 4 times I've raced it and a last minute decision to race Omaha Women's Tri resulted in me pulling out of the Athena National Championships the following week. The result: a new found focus to make the most of these last 5 weeks of training leading up to Racine. This means sticking to my schedule (including long rides and long runs) even in the most awful of conditions. Last night I did a 2 hr brick workout which included a 96ish minute ride and a 20 minute run. Temps were 97 when I started and 93 when I finished. The intense heat forced me to ride slow to keep my heart rate down and religiously take in fluid and nutrition. I started to feel a little nauseous about 60 minutes in but it passed and by the time I got to the run, I was actually relatively comfortable.

This weekend I'll have a nearly 2 hr run on Saturday and a 3.5 hr bike on Sunday, riding the annual Rollin to Colon charity race. Temps are expected to be near 100 degrees on Sunday and we ride out at 7:30a. Although this record heat is miserable for training, I'm hoping it will help me build some tolerance to the heat. Being the slightly OCD individual that I am, I have been reviewing the historical temperatures of Racine over the past 2 years. July temps have been primarily in the high 70s, low 80s with the occasional 90 degree day. This means there's a good chance that the weather will be fairly moderate compared to what we're experiencing now in Omaha. But as we all know, it will be what it will be...hoping for the best.  Stay tuned.

Monday, April 25, 2016

And so it begins...

It's always fun to start the new race season. This season is season #4 of triathlons for me. Unfortunately, I'm going into this season with some injuries and extra lbs so I'm not quite as optimistic about my performance as previous seasons. My first race ended in a DNF and my most recent race this weekend was the slowest time I've ever raced for this course. However, my injuries are mending and I can run again without pain and I haven't had a bike accident yet. So...that's positive.  Let's get into the mini-race reports.

Open Water Swim 3000 meter race - Lake Pleasant, AZ
On April 2, I started out the season with an open water swim race in Arizona.  I've done the AZ Open Water race series once before, swimming an astonishing 4000 meters a year after I learned how to swim. I love doing this race and it's part of the reason that Ben and I do a spring break trip to AZ every year. Normally, the first race of the series is at Tempe Town Lake, but there is something going on with the lake this year so they had to do the first race at Lake Pleasant, which is in the northwest corner of the metro area. It forced Ben and me to stay at a resort up that way which was AMAZING.  Absolutely loved this place, in the middle of the desert.

The race was to begin at 7:30a. We arrived onsite around 6:45 and it was sunny, windy and somewhat cool. Air temperatures were around 55 degrees and the water temperature was...wait for it...61 degrees. I stepped in the water and it felt like ice water...no joke. During the "warm up," I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it to the start. It was so cold and I could barely breathe. Then I see these dudes get in the water, wearing Speedos. Yeah. At this point, I was figured there is not way those guys can swim in Speedos and I will wimp out. No way.
KWI at Lake Pleasant race start

Race started about 15 minutes late as the race directors were waiting for the winds to die down. The gun finally goes off and we're moving. I was so preoccupied with the cold that I forgot to start my watch so I didn't hit it until about 400 meters in. After the first 1000 meter loop, I felt much more confident and was actually thinking I could do this. However, at the turn around, I was starting to lose feeling in my face and fingers and that kind of freaked me out. So I decided to quit after 2000 meters which resulted in a DNF (finished it in about 51 minutes). Disappointing, but it's another thing I can say I can do without fear. Note to self: must invest in a neoprene cap and maybe some neoprene booties.

Next day I did a little 5k and 25 mile amazing bike ride but nothing spectacular to report. I won second in my age group but there were only two of us.

Omaha Duathlon
Last weekend, I participated in the Omaha Duathlon which is a great local race featuring a 2.5 mile run, followed by a 14.5 mile bike on a flat but windy course followed by another go on the 2.5 mile run course. This race has some bad weather karma and after some nasty early morning thunderstorms, the clouds party for some sun and LOTS of wind. And just to make things interesting, about two-thirds of the bike course was "milled" in preparation for new pavement which is a pretty awful surface for a bike course.

I arrived at the course around 7:15 to help my fellow Team Nebraska Triathlon board members set up our info tent. Picked up my packet and started to doubt whether or not I would get to the start. (Do we see a pattern forming here?) I had driven on the milled road as I was coming to the race and it was horrible.  How the hell could I take my beautiful, precious Michonne (my new road bike) on that surface? Several people didn't show up or decided not to race, but after some back and forth, I decided to do it.

Race started and my calf was OK.  Definitely slower than I have done in previous years, but better than I expected. The bike leg was insane. I was going about 22-24 mph on a milled road and there was this moment about 3 miles in where I thought at any moment, this could all go horribly wrong and I'm going to have an epic crash. Made it to the turnaround and I kind of ran out of steam at that point. Wind in my face at 20 mph on a milled road and I kind of gave up. I made it back to the transition and lolly-gagged around contemplating whether or not I wanted to continue. The daughter of one of my neighbors, was waiting for me (she's in 4th grade!) at the transition and ran the entire 2.5 miles with me to the end. I have to say, I probably would have quit if she wasn't there. Although it was my slowest finish ever at this race, I actually felt fine (hamstring and calf) so I thought that was an accomplishment. I need to just build back my running fitness. Michonne handled that ripped up road like a champ.
Michonne - isn't she pretty?

Final times:
run 1 - 00:26:42
T1 - 00:00:42
Bike - 1:02:11
T2 - 00:01:56
run 2 - 00:30:56
Total: 2:02:29

The best part of this race was all of the great TNT folks I saw at the race. Made some new connections and socialized a bit. It was a really fun morning. Next up: Kansas City Triathlon on May 15. Stay Tuned!
TNT members at the club tent