Eat to Train, Train to Eat?

I’ve spent the last year working on improving my nutrition, not just to be a better triathlete but to be healthier in general.  I know how to eat well for a relatively active individual.  I know how to eat to not gain weight.  Apparently, what I did NOT know was how to eat to fuel multi-sport training.  I knew I was missing something but I just couldn’t figure out what I was missing and it seemed to be getting harder and harder to make the right choices.  SO… I went to see Jim White of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios.  When I met with Jim, one of the first questions he asked me was what was more important to me “performance or physique?”  I’m happy to say that I responded, without hesitation, “performance.”  I told him that I wanted to lose body fat but only if that resulted in improved performance.  He said he could help me and a few days later, I had a nutrition plan.

I was both excited and nervous to receive my nutrition plan.  I was a bit nervous about being told what I could and could not eat.  Any picky eater would understand my fear. haha.  It didn’t turn out to be as bad (strict) as I had imagined.  Jim worked with my preferences and gave me several options for each meal/snack.  It actually made meal planning MUCH easier.  A few weeks after my visit with Jim, Justin went to see him as well.  What we were both surprised to learn was that we had been under-eating.  Well, I don’t think either of us were surprised that Justin was under-eating because he was WAY under-eating, but I was rather surprised to learn that I needed to eat more.

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My first dinner on the nutrition plan, a bowl of homemade vegetable soup, some chicken and a freaking TON of quinoa!  I had no idea I was supposed to be eating that much carbohydrate.

In addition to needing to eat more, I needed to eat things that I wasn’t all that crazy about.  It turns out I was getting virtually no protein compared to what I need.  I told Jim I would give chicken a try.  I don’t like chicken.  I know that’s weird… I mean, who doesn’t like chicken?  Well, I don’t.  Or so I thought.  I have jumped in with both feet and have tried (and liked!) five different chicken recipes!  Justin has be very helpful in finding and creating these chicken concoctions that taste as little like chicken as possible.  I also have the option of eating tofu, lean red meat or fish but chicken just seems the easiest to make and reheat, etc.  Anyway, I’m always telling my patients to try new things to stay healthy and fit so this was an opportunity to practice what I preach!  In addition to chicken, I’ve also tried different grains (it turns out that I do NOT like farro) and I’ve begun drinking Kombucha, a fermented tea, in an effort to reduce my afternoon coffee cravings.  Jim told me Kombucha was an acquired taste… so I’ve set about acquiring it.

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This was my first experience with Kombucha.  It was lavendar-flavored and quite good, though it has a very odd kick to it.

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Enjoying some Kombucha during a rainy day of work-related writing.  This was a “green” flavor that included forms of sea weed.  Very healthy.  Not very tasty in my opinion. haha.  I probably won’t be purchasing any more of this flavor.

While I was excited to hear a dietician and fitness expert tell me I could eat more (I mean, I LOVE eating), it was still kind of difficult to wrap my mind around how much food I am supposed to be consuming.  Having spent most of my adult life worrying about my weight and the contours of my body, it can be a bit scary to start loading up a plate.  I had to check in with Jim a few times for reassurance, especially on days when I felt especially hungry.  He encouraged me to tune into my body so that I could make intuitive decisions about when to eat more and when to back off.  He told me to look at my success in workouts as a gauge of the accuracy of my nutrition.

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Enjoying a post-four-hour ride refuel with french press coffee and whole wheat banana chocolate chip pancakes.  I actually felt pretty good about diving into these because my ride had gone really well, despite windy and rainy conditions.  I was pretty confident that this was a consequence of my eating the day before and the morning of the workout.  I had consumed rather healthy portions of… everything and it paid off so… cheers!  Btw, these pancakes were SO GOOD that they did not need ANY syrup. 

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A few weeks into my nutrition plan, I PR’d a half marathon at the end of a hard week.  I ran a 1:40 and some change in some unexpectedly hot/humid conditions on tired legs.  My previous PR was a 1:49:40 (from approximately 2 years ago – hadn’t run a half since then).  My energy level was much higher than usual at the end of such a tough week; the increased carbohydrate and protein intake was already starting to pay off.

Now it’s just two weeks until my last triathlon of the season.  Last week was my final hard week and I’m wrapping up a medium week this weekend before heading into taper.  I already have a follow-up appointment scheduled with Jim White a little over a week after my race.  I wanted to give myself time to relax and NOT think about nutrition or training, etc so immediately after was just a bit too soon. 😀  Anywho, I’m looking forward to making a plan for my nutrition and training through the winter season.  In preparation, we’ve made a few purchases.

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I’ve been using a less than stellar, cheap-o magnetic trainer for the last year.  Don’t get me wrong… it works.  However, it isn’t ideal and it basically sounds like there is a plane taking off in our living room the entire time I’m using it and my husband and furr-kid are less than thrilled with this.  CycleOps Power makes FANTASTIC trainers and I was very excited to see my new trainer kit (including climbing blocks) sitting at my front door!  Bring ooooon winter.

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Justin bought me a pair of photochromatic lenses so that I can begin my ride with glasses on, even if it’s dark, and they will provide UV protection as my ride progresses and the sun comes up!  When they came in the mail, I was so happy that I told Justin I would wear them on my next long ride, even if the rain didn’t let up and I had to ride the trainer.  Well, I wore my photochromatic lenses! haha

As I said, only a few weeks away from my last race of the season!  I’m looking forward to racing and I’m definitely looking forward to recovering. 🙂  Happy training, everyone!  How do you manage your nutrition?  How do you know you’re eating enough?  Anybody else ever consult with a professional regarding nutrition?

3 thoughts on “Eat to Train, Train to Eat?

  1. I have definitely found that eating more, especially through frequent healthy snacks, works to boost my energy and rev my metabolism. The key is choosing quality foods. Also, the higher quality workouts that come from greater energy levels also results in a higher caloric burn too! It all balances out in the end, but it doesn’t mean there might have to be tweaking along the way. Glad you’re trying new foods! Something we all need to do (including myself).

    I got on the trainer for the first time in years this week. Rode on the back deck under the stars… it was a blast! I might have to look into a new trainer too though, this one is OLD!

    Good luck with your last race of the season! Goooo get’m!

  2. mary says:

    This week, I had two patients come in with fatigue, all their blood work was normal, low end of the healthy weight range, reported good sleep, but their diets were severely lacking in those complex carbohydrates and proteins. It’s a fun change to actually have to explain to patients that they need to eat MORE. One woman is an athlete, so I’ll direct her to Jim White.

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