Yesterday was the Thursday morning before Saturday’s Kona Ironman and the infamous “Underpants” Run took place. I joke that some of the amateur athletes diet and “train” more for this 1.2 mile Strut Your Stuff run down Ali’i Drive than they do for the actual race–extra ab workouts, low carb diets (forget about race week fueling—what about #UPR?), tanning beds (you know that someone did that lol) etc. While I’m all for fun (and a little vanity), I’m sitting here, benched this season by a bad achilles. Instead of posting a Kona Glory Days pic from years gone by, I decided to post a #TBT pic from my first MDOT race.
Wow. Taken on my 35th birthday at Ironman Lake Placid, this pic garnered more comments than I’ve seen on my feed in a long time. Much like the ultra cheese song from Dirty Dancing, I was clearly I was having The Time Of My Life. As with almost all race pictures, this one was bad. As in, REALLY REALLY bad. But I’ll admit, 13 years later I feel, look (minus a few wrinkles and grey hairs) and race my best (and still take TERRIBLE race pics). I wasn’t born with the skinny gene AND I have the job hazard of being a chef, foodie and oenophile. Slowly through the years, I’ve transformed my diet and lifestyle so that I can race near or to my potential. Call it the final piece of the puzzle or “Race Weight” if you will. Optimizing your Race Weight is low hanging fruit (no freaky genetics required) BUT you have to work at it. As my good friend and coach
share Kurt Perham said “you can’t just HOPE you get to race weight—you have to make it happen”. At 48 years old, I have to stay mindful. Unfortunately, a day or two of bad eating and extra wine is much harder to get out of my system than it was 10 years ago.
Here is a fun comparison of what I used to eat vs what I eat now
Diet during Ironman training Circa 2002-2003
- Glass of Orange Juice
- Bowl of Kashi Cereal with skim milk and banana
a.m. Snack (after some sort of morning workout—maybe a swim, Bikram yoga or 35 minute run)
- Cheese and Crackers or Cheezits
- Turkey Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread no Cheese add mustard (kind of contradicts the above snack, I know)
- A couple of Powerbars
Afternoon Workout 1.5 hours on the Lifecycle at the YMCA (I never barely rode outside until 2 years after I moved to San Diego)
- 2 bottles of Gatorade and a Powerbar
- Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Red Sauce
- Salad with Blue Cheese Crumbles
- 2-3 glasses of wine–sometimes beer
- Frozen Yogurt
Eating Regime Present Day (here’s how it went down yesterday)
- A large mug of coffee with some full fat Canned Coconut Milk or unsweetened boxed Coconut Milk or a mixture of both; sometimes Stevia
Breakfast a Couple of hours later post Dog Beach time
- ½ large Sweet Potato (about 6 ounce cooked. I don’t habitually weigh my food—I just happen to know this kind of stuff from years of working with it)
- 2 Eggs fried Over Easy in 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- Sprinkled with 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
- Sea Salt. Sea Salt. Pepper. And more Sea Salt
Pre Swim-Master’s at Noon
- 1 Banana with 1 tsp Almond Butter and a sh*t ton of Sea Salt
Post Swim Lunch
Trough Bowl of Salad
- 4-6 Cups of Greens
- As many cut up veggies as I can fit on top (as in, another 2-4 cups)
- Sometimes leftover roasted Vegetables
- ½ Block of Tempeh, 1 can of Sardines or 2 Fried Eggs
- 1/2 an Avocado
- Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds
- Nutritional Yeast
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Salt Salt Salt and Pepper
- 1 Cup Frozen Cherries (not on Salad–duh)
1.5 hour Ride on trainer
- 3 Ride Roaches (Medjool dates look like eviscerated cockroaches) or a Bar
- A bunch of Vegetables
- Repeat of Above Protein
- 2 squares of Dark Chocolate
How to do it
Eat a lot of vegetables Lots. I don’t care if you are Paleo, Pescatarian, Flexitarian, Ovo-Lacto-atarian, Vegan, Plant-based or whatever the Label-of-the-Week you apply to yourself is. Repeat after me. I WILL EAT A LOT OF VEGETABLES. I WILL EAT THEM AT EVERY MEAL. IF I SNACK, MY SNACKS WILL CONSIST OF MOSTLY VEGETABLES. Honestly, this one piece of advice is the key to optimal weight. If 50% of your plate is covered in veggies, I guarantee that you will feel, train, produce and look your best. Of course, I’m not factoring in Potato Chips, Sweet Potato Fries or a Bloomin’ Onion into this equation.
Time your Carbohydrates Bars, Fruit, Dried Fruit and to a lesser extent, Gels have their place in your athletic eating regime—just before and during a workout if longer than 1.5 hours OR if it is really intense, I usually will have a banana with some nut butter + salt before or a bar before a master’s swim session or a harder run. I’ve heard of some athletes fueling with almost all fat during endurance training and/or racing–although I haven’t heard of any success stories–so I’m still a believer that training and racing calls for mostly carbs. If you are not super active, limit sugar intake to 1-2 pieces of fruit a day.
Watch the alcohol I was just talking with someone today who wasn’t aware of how much sugar was in a Margarita. If you are a margarita fan; a shot of tequila with 2 freshly squeezed limes and a SPLASH of OJ will suffice. If you are a beer fan, you are S.O.L……..sorry, but beer will make you fat. I do enjoy beer but if I’m trying to lose a few pounds; beer is the first thing off the list. However, IF it’s post Ironman racing—well, that’s another story (Hello Imperial Russian Stout…..). When my training is compromised by work or injury, I try to limit myself to a couple of glasses of wine a week. I don’t have any problem with a glass a night for most people, but my glass seems to be extra large (and then it magically refills itself) so it’s in my best interest to stay dry when I’m trying to get to #raceweight. Everyone is different.
Limit or Omit Grains, Legumes, Dried Fruit and anything deemed as a swap for sugar Two things are going on this month. 1. I’m still injured so my training has been limited. 2. I’ve been following The 30 Clean Diet. Because of my curtailed activity and a couple other things going on; I decided to eliminate all of the above for 30 days. Guess what? I’ve dropped a dress size. My mental clarity is great (on most days) . My productivity is through the roof (on most days). My eating hasn’t been perfect–I had a couple of days when I went overboard on some wine, dark chocolate, fruit and Paleo-style crackers (the Jil’z brand–because they are so good!) However, my skinny jeans now fit. I did have a couple of “morning afters” when the overindulging countered all of above said benefits. I felt crappy, I was unproductive and unfocused. I didn’t feel like working out, I craved sugar. Yep, that was the result of unhealthy sugar-laden eating.
Stay away from processed food Period. Just because something is “Vegan” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Yes, that includes the Tofurky Pizza and Coconut Bliss Ice “Cream……..waaaaaahhhh! Another rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce an ingredient or there are 27 ingredients in something like say, a salad dressing DON’T BUY IT. Diet Soda falls into this category
Good luck to everyone racing in Kona tomorrow. Here’s to some pizza + beer afterwards.