I never really took my health or my fitness serious until the late 2000s. Until then, I just existed in that dimension. But since then I feel like I am always on the search for the next thing. The next bump. Sometimes they are small and hard to find. It might be changing to a different style of shoe. It might be running a different type of training program. But lately, it seems like I am after a bigger impact.
I walked off the Leadville Trail 100 course at a record high race weight of 153. I had been in the 140s prior years. I really curtailed my running in the fall because I felt burnt out physically and wanted some extended rest. Running itself burns a lot of calories but when I am not running, it is hard to shutdown the engine in my mind. The appetite. So last fall, I gained a good amount of weight. I didn’t really care at the time. I felt like my body was reacting to the rest. Was that such a bad thing? Ended the year in the mid-170s.
Then I read an article for which I have since lost the link to. But the gist of the article was that runners “mask health issues” through this large and constant calorie cycle burn. So while you are running, it does feel like you can eat anything and usually do. However, just below the surface many dangerous things were lurking. One study talked about how people who quit running found themselves with type 2 diabetes in record time over their non-running counterparts. As if the running masked all these bad things and you were laying the blueprint all along underneath. That sounded like a really shitty end result to a running career.
I started thinking about my diet more seriously at the start of the year. I kept coming to the realization that if you take the fun out of eating, then life sort of sucks. But I kept making strides at it. I kept trying to see if I could pick off the easy things that seemed like bad ideas. Ice cream at night? OK, limit that down to weekends, then one day, then no days. Kill me now. With a blunt object. Slowly. But then I started thinking about soda. I stopped buying soda at home when I went off diet soda a few years back. Diet Mountain Dew, I miss you. Call me. But now I consume vast amounts at any eating establishment with a fountain drink selection. I purposely would steer my family to eat at places where Cherry Coke was on tap. Screw the food, I would freely download as many cups as possible.
I was only cheating myself. I started doing various regimes with soda. Weekends only. Then it went to 1 meal a week. Then I went to none. All that broke down when we went to Mexico. It was vacation and I chose not to give a shit for ten days. But when I returned, I decided it was time to do something more serious.
I had been following a bunch of friends on Facebook who were Whole30 dieting. Another diet craze but out of interest I read the book in an evening after randomly watching a YouTube video on the topic. I enjoyed their description of how your body gets all messed up because of sugar and other non-natural ingredients in food. It goes on from there but the gist of the diet is sort of a 30 day cleanse to rest the signalling in your body that controls the related feelings, hormones, and your appetite. So I dove in.
Now, I didn’t follow their diet to strict plan but I made a pretty good stab at it. I removed all sugar that I reasonably could. So I drank no soda. I ate no candy or cookies or such things. No ice cream. If something contained sugar, like a salad dressing, I just made sure it was pretty minimal. I still ate fruit so I was getting more natural sources but not the mega-doses of it that I was accustomed to.
The next big target were carb-based things. I stopped with any thing bread related. No pasta. No pizza. Nothing crunchy. That was sort of hard. The only real “cheat” on the diet was that I continued to eat black beans. They say no beans. But beans are the first thing you are allowed to bring back at the end of the 30 days so I kept eating this vegetable because it seemed like an OK choice.
I ended up moving in a very tight circle eating a lot of salads either made at home or from restaurants like Chipotle or Mad Greens. Each meal just became more of a focused effort to just eat calories as designed and move on. Cheating wasn’t really an option. That would just be lazy.
The 30 days of this are up. The big question is probably “how much weight did you lose?” Answer is really a negligible amount. With all the running and weight lifting, maybe I am just converting mass rather than losing it right now. It is a bit depressing because I would be amazing just to be able to make a sacrifice, like no soda, and drop 20 pounds. But that doesn’t seem to be where my body is. But to be fair, they don’t promise weight loss with the diet yet most people do obtain some level of it.
I do think I am still in the process of resetting my sensitivities to foods so I am not ready to quit/stop this just yet. I read the other day that habits take on average 66 days to cure. So maybe that is my new number. Whole66? Why not. But once you have a solid streak going, it makes it harder to break. This might be the end of soda forever. Except on my birthday. But it will probably make me puke anyway.