30 for 30: Can I smell your Donuts?

I made it. I'm 30 for 30.

On a whim and a bet with my wife, I hopped aboard the Whole30 "crazy train" thirty days ago. As I wrote in my first “trimester” report, I stumbled into this having no idea what Whole30 was. I have always wondered what impact nutrition would have on my training. For those not familiar with Whole30, it’s like Paleo, but harder. Think “caveman” eating. Meat, Fruit, Vegetables, healthy fats, and that’s about it. What can’t you eat? Grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol (has grain and sugar,) and did I mention sugar?

The wife and I had different reasons for doing Whole30. With my latest round of injuries, idle time is my enemy. I tend to “stress eat” when stressed and have an insatiable sweet tooth. Getting “lean” (less body fat) was my goal. I was definitely around 5-6 pounds above my normal weight. As I progress in a marathon training plan, the pounds tend to “peel off” to (or at least close to) my ideal racing weight. Reading Matt Fitzgerald’s book, “RacingWeight,” my target weight is 165 pounds. It's a fine line in marathon training, your body will burn a lot of calories so you need to fuel. Come race day, the lighter you are (within reason,) the faster you are. Five pounds equals five minutes off a marathon finish time.

Wrapping up my thirty days, I’ve noticed two things as a result of the program; 1) despite being on the front end of my current marathon training plan, I’m within five pounds of that ideal racing weight. I’ve never been at this weight so early in a training plan, 2) my energy is noticeably stronger. It’s hard to draw 100% conclusions, but for the most part I have had insane energy vs. being “off” the program. Sugar, processed foods, and perhaps dairy or wheat out of my body would be the reason why.

So, how did I manage over those thirty days and what were the toughest parts of the journey?

  • Not having a glass of wine with a nice steak on “date night” takes a lot of willpower.
  • Finding that candy bar in my backpack on the road in the hotel took even more willpower on day four. It's still sitting in my sock drawer waiting to be devoured. Or will it?
  • Yes, on another trip, I went to Dunkin’ Donuts, ordered plain black coffee (it was bland,) stared at the donuts like a Jr. High kid staring at the pretty girl in class, then asked the donut vendor “how much to smell the donuts?” #truestory
  • Travel and restaurants are tough to avoid dairy and sugar. You order a lot of salads with protein, and “hold the cheese.” Lemon makes for a pretty versatile "dressing" when the other options are loaded with sugar or dairy.
  • Two of my overall favorite foods are Mexican and Italian—both have a love of cheese like I do. A margarita with a Chile Rellano? No can do on Whole 30.
  • Liquids. I’ve basically lived on water, coffee, and tea. I’ve thrown out several bottles of tea variants that wound up having some sugar or sugar substitute in them. Honey, while seemingly healthy and innocently produced is a big “no-no.” All I can say is that it’s a good thing that coffee is allowed. My “saving grace.”
  • I have NEVER in my entire life gone thirty days without bread, sugar, or milk. I am historically a milk and cereal breakfast guy—that has all three “no-no’s
  • I've eaten more eggs in thirty days than I did in the previous six months. I like eggs, but I'm a bit "over them."
  • Going to  the movies is a particular challenge. I ALWAYS order popcorn, candy, and a Coke. No, no, and no. Yes, popcorn is not allowed, nor is corn. I opted for nuts (not peanuts. those are legumes and not allowed,) and perhaps a Larabar to satiate the stimuli of grazing and sweats in the theatre. Thank God for Larabar! They're legal (most of them,) and delicious.
  • All the avocados and bacon you want. Too much of a good thing even gets old.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Parts of it were easy to adapt to, but the fat I’ve carried for years (even after training) around my waistline is as trim as I’ve ever seen it. I wondered myself how I was able to get through the plan. I think the answer is I approached it like I approach my training. The question will be, what do I do now? 

In theory, (I’m not an expert on the plan,) you introduce the prohibited food groups one at a time to see how your body reacts.  Given all the benefits I’ve gained, I’m hoping I can maintain parts of the plan as I train for the New York City Marathon. Yes, I said that…I’m hoping (let’s call that “planning”) to race in my first marathon in nearly eighteen months.


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