Friday, April 25, 2014

5 Bite Diets and Part Time Diets

This is definitely another rant post.

Last night I was reading Oxygen magazine's April 2014 issue, and I came across this article* titled, "Part-Time Diet, Full-Time Fat Loss." I was left scratching my head as I read the side column written by Jessie R. Shafer, RD, LDN. Shafer wrote the informational article, detailing the ins and outs of the every other day diet (EOD) and intermittent fasting (IF). Intermittent fasting, as explained by Shafer "involves periods (hours of days) during which food is partially or completely reduced coupled with periods of feasting." What Shafer did was begin her venture into EOD with a 500 calorie day. Her explanation of that day is less than appealing. She describes "fighting off" the hunger cues, being "too nervous" to use all her calories quickly, feeling "pretty proud" of having a whole "250 calories yet to spare" for the evening, and being "hangry (a term coined by dieters referring to short temperament brought on by lack of food)." She says, "I felt anxious, even a little panicky as I ran around the kitchen trying to figure out the best way to spend my final calories."

Can I just say... WHAT?!

The following day she returned to normal eating, followed by another day of 500 calories. After six days of the EOD, she reports a 3 pound weight loss, with only a "few short bouts of 'hanger.'" Her conclusion is that she found the fast-feast days to be easier than it sounds. (REALLY, because your report makes it sound like nothing short of torture!)

*Updated-- Link doesn't contain full article, which I read in the print version of the magazine. Please read author's comments below. In the article she isn't advocating IF, she's just documenting her experience.

"The Extreme New Way to Lose 15 Pounds in One Week" (on the Dr. Oz Show)

One of the perks of being a teacher = Spring break = bad daytime t.v. shows. Apparently, Dr. Oz is a favorite of my mostly stay-at-home-husband. He's fascinated with all things nutrition and exercise-- the latest research, the latest fads, etc. Anyway, the above link is what we watched today.

The opening guest, Dr. Alwin Lewis explained his "5 Bite Diet." Breakfast is coffee and a multivitamin. Why break the fast? he says. Lunch is 5 bites of any food you want-- the food on the sample plate? A burger, well, 5 bites of one. Dinner is 5 bites of any food you want-- demo food? 3 bites of Mac n' cheese and 2 bites of apple pie. I AM NOT KIDDING. This man is a doctor and apparently running a fairly successful practice. (I was going to post a link to his website, but I just can't bear to give him any more free advertising.) Dr. Oz (thank goodness!) voiced his concerns that people would be missing key nutrients that could cause long term damage. Lewis didn't seem very worried; he says over time they get all the nutrients they need. On his website he answers the statement, "But I don't want to be skinny, I want to be healthy" by saying that people who are overweight have more health problems, so by being skinny, you are being healthy.


(Right now I'm practicing some deep breathing to calm myself down. Brace yourself for a rant.)

People! THIS is not right. THIS is not how you should live! 5 bites is a meal?! 500 calories is a day's worth of food?Are you kidding, me?! THAT is healthy?! NO!

I've said it before and I will say it a bazillion times...


THAT is the secret to a successful diet.


THAT is the secret to a healthy, happy life.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

High Fat = High Performance?

Just a note before you read this blog-- please don't ever blindly follow anyone's advice on anything (whether it be diet, exercise, or life in general). Do your own research; don't just read one article or study. This is your life. Find what works for you.
Typical breakfast: eggs, bacon and stuffed peppers

I am celebrating three weeks on a high fat, low carb diet. We have a love/hate relationship, this new way of eating and me. You see, I would consider myself to be a carbohydrate addict. I love carbs. Lately, the love has been manifested in cravings for apples and whole grain tortilla chips-- not too bad considering I once ate too many Cheez-Itz and bowls of ice cream.

It's still too early in the game to decide if this will be THE diet for me forever. But I've actually been quite surprised at the results-- especially because I'm feeling great and am losing my cravings for the most part. This week's pizza night came and went, and I DIDN'T EVEN CARE. (Pizza night has historically been my oasis in the middle of a barren week of stress and healthy eating. Something guarded and celebrated and ABSOLUTELY necessary.)

The "Diet"

Basically I am eating according to the Bulletproof® diet. I heard Dave Asprey speak at Wodapalooza Miami in January 2014, and what he said about food just made lots of sense. On his website, everything is backed by research and explained very thoroughly. Primarily, the concept is to eat high quality food-- about 50-60% of calories from fat, about 20% from protein and the remainder from vegetables. Once every 7-10 days, add a higher amount of carbohydrates to bring the body out of ketosis and "reset." Although Asprey's goal is not to become a high performing athlete, he strives to create a body that performs to the best of its abilities in all areas of life. 

So, it's Paleo? Not exactly. I don't consider any vegetables off limits. I avoid wheat and dairy (except for the grassfed butter in my Bulletproof® coffee). And the whole Paleo "thing" kind of just turns me off. True confession-- I probably will never say I'm Paleo because if you Google "Paleo" you will find a million and one "Paleo" dessert recipes. Like if you label something "Paleo," it automatically becomes a health food. That annoys me. And frankly, I believe, is the reason America has an obesity problem. We want to have our cake and eat way too much of it. Of course, I know there are people who don't use the label to binge on desserts; heck, having a treat is ok. Maybe I just get annoyed too easily. Anyway...


The husband made me do it! Well, not really. He changed his eating habits at about the end of January. Nearly 3 months in, and he's lost 30 lbs. He's ripped, and eating about 2500 MORE calories than he did to get ready for a bodybuilding show. I only wish we had before and after body fat percentages, but honestly we really didn't expect these results. His strength has also NOT been affected. 

At first I got annoyed (ok, I need to work on not getting annoyed) by his constant chatter about this new way of eating. But now I get it. (I'm sorry, honey, for being annoyed!) Because I'm just so surprised at my own results that I can't help talking about it, too. 

I had been having some stomach issues. I will spare you the details. But it was enough for me to say that I was ready to try something different. And there was my cramping issues during races. Calf and foot cramps were fairly debilitating at the end of every longer race that I've pushed hard in. Something needed to change.

My Results

3 weeks in, I'm 6 lbs down. Strength is up. But, more importantly, I feel great. Stomach issues have pretty much disappeared. I ran the Super Spartan a week ago, fueled with a Justin's honey peanut butter packet (ok, peanut butter isn't Paleo or very Bulletproof®), and I had no problems with cramping. 

I'm still playing with what I eat. Trying to determine how many carbs are optimal for me. Because this way of eating isn't about losing weight or body fat, this is about performing better. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Miami Super Spartan 2014

I've run this race every year since it's been held in Miami-- so this was my fourth year. Each year Spartan has used the same location, Oleta River State Park. I really felt the 2013 course was exactly the same as the 2012. Although bad calf cramps slowed me down last year, I finished the race clean-- no burpees. It seemed easy. I mean, 8 miles of obstacles isn't all that easy, but it wasn't as challenging as I had expected.  Had Spartan made the race easier to please the masses?

The 2014 race was a completely different experience. Personally, I had an excellent race-- no cramping, so I felt I raced at my potential. I ran the Sunday Elite Heat and finished in 1:57, placing 7th. This was my first event relying solely on a high fat, low carb diet, and I completely attribute my lack of cramping to having more stable blood sugar and electrolytes. 

Registration: I always register early to take advantage of the lowest pricing. Because I run in the elite heat, I pay an extra $30 which is annoying, but worth it to me. However, this time registering early backfired. My sons both had events in different locations, so at 5:30 on Friday night I was emailing Spartan Race to request a transfer from my Saturday heat to Sunday. I received a prompt response and was able to pay a $24 transfer fee to change days. I just showed up the second the gates opened, and the transfer was a smooth process. (*If you need a transfer, it's key that you show up to the registration area early. The line was fairly long as start time neared.)

The Start: I was really surprised at the difference in a Sunday vs. a Saturday start. I knew the elites (the ones who win the races) generally show up on Saturday, but I had no idea that so few show up for Sunday's elite heat. A friend told me that the elite wave on Saturday was about 70 deep. I lined up Sunday with about 15 other women. 

I'm in the pink socks.
The Course: Flat and fast. I was thrilled to see that the course was pretty radically altered from last year. There was less running on the flat roads and more running on the "hillier" bike trails. Miami's obstacles offered the expected: walls, some over/unders, barbed wire crawls, tire flips, a bucket carry, sand bag carry, short swim, traverse wall, Herculean hoist, rope climb, and a "slippery" wall. The bonus obstacles (these for me were new and/or extra challenging)-- 
  • Inverted wall-- I loved this! It was just different. Not too difficult to overcome, but it required a little more thinking than the typical wall.
  • Monkey cargo net-- I have no idea what this is really called. Basically instead of monkey bars, we had to traverse the high cargo net over water. No elite women completed it that I saw. 
  • Atlas stone carry-- Again-- I LOVED this! It wasn't a long carry; we had to basically power clean the stone up and carry it, set it down, complete 5 burpees, and clean and carry it back. CrossFit pays off!
  • Bucket carry-- while this wasn't new, the placement of it was absolutely diabolical! Well played, Spartan Race, well played! (I was worried about a twisted ankle as we carried it up and down gravelly inclines.)
  • Log hop-- My advice on this one-- take your time! Running through is a bad plan. Same for the traverse wall-- being careful might save you 30 burpees. 
  • Spear throw-- definitely not new to Spartan Race, but new to this location. (Actually, the first year there was a spear throw for the first few heats, but then it was shut down for some reason.)
  • Added weight-- The Herculean hoist was heavier than last year. Last year I stood and pulled it up fairly quickly. This year after feeling the weight, I rode it down to the ground to use my body weight, and then reclined and pulled, using my feet for leverage on the fence surrounding the obstacle. Not sure I'm winning points for style, but by doing that, I was able to go hand over hand. 
The Finish: So, the big drama of late has been the removal of the Gladiators at the end of the race. Frankly, I don't care if they are there or not. The gladiators don't make Spartan Race (contrary to all those who lament). I found them so random-- in my 3 previous races, once I was relatively ignored as I ran through, once pushed hard backwards, and once pretty much given a tap. Spartan Race is all about overcoming the grueling length and scope of the course, not about guys in a costume. The gladiators aren't the "You'll know at the finish line."

Positives Changes: I was so impressed with the entire event this year. The course design was truly challenging-- given the flat, fast course, I really feel that they toughened up some obstacles. The set up of the festival area was smart. They provided changing tents for post-race.  Elite racers weren't charged for bag check-- a minimal amount anyway, but at least I got a little break for paying extra. There was a nice variety of merchandise available onsite, and those who paid the $5 bag check were given a coupon for $5 off at the merch tent-- again, a small gesture, but it was nice. There were plenty of buses providing transportation to and from the parking area. Overall, this was just a really great experience!  

Check out this awesome video of Saturday's race put together by Arnel Banawa:

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I saw a Facebook post (Preview of "Fed Up" Film) today and what began as a comment, turned into a status update, which turned into a too-long tirade for a status update. So, here it is, my rant to try to convince parents to stop killing their children:

I'm a teacher.
Based on what I see every day at school, I need to say this to parents:

1. Dessert doesn't need to be consumed at every meal.
2. "Fruit" snacks, roll-ups, etc. are candy, not fruit.
3. Fruit packaged with added sugar and heavy syrup doesn't count as fruit.
4. If you pack your kids junk with healthy food, they will likely eat the junk and throw the healthy food away.
5. "Juice" boxes, pouches, etc. are just large amounts of sugar disguised as a beverage.
6. Water and an actual piece of fruit is a great substitution for those fake foods that "contain real fruit."
7. Unless they are running a marathon at school, they do not need a sports drink.
8. Un-Crustables, Lunchables and pretty much every other "-able" is not a wise food choice.
9. Pop-Tarts, Toaster Pastries, and other such frozen sugar laced foods are not real food.
10. Buy fruit, vegetables and meat instead of buying processed food-like products that contain "real" veggies and fruit.

Ok. I feel much better after getting that off my chest.

And those rules apply to the rest of us, too.

PEOPLE: Just. Eat. Real. Food. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lessons Learned in Competitions

Read Part 1, Florida Open at CrossFit Fortress: My Experience.

Original photo by Oscar Bello
Lessons Learned from my first Rx CrossFit Competition:

  1. Rx is no joke. Ok, this might be obvious. I expected it to be harder. The loads to be heavier. However, I greatly underestimated the caliber of the athletes. These girls are FIT. 
  2. Don't judge a book by its cover. Or an athlete by her looks. I do this thing-- you do it, too-- where I size up the competition and decide who is the one to beat. Don't. Looks are deceiving, and when we're talking high intensity competition, heart is a bigger factor than size or shape. Your eyes might be on that one girl while 5 others pass you.
  3. Know thyself. What makes sense for other athletes, may not make sense for you. You train in your body every day. At competition time, why would you try a different strategy? Go with your gut. Don't try to compete with someone else's style. Don't try to run someone else's race.
  4. Stick to the known. Similar to the last lesson-- there's everything to be said for NOT trying anything new on competition/race day. No new shoes (unless they are identical to the old). No new gear. No new food. 
  5. Don't quit. It ain't over 'til the obese guy sings.
  6. Be a good sport. If you do well, be humble. If you finish before others, go cheer them on. If you don't do well, getting angry at yourself because you have an "off" event greatly diminishes the strength and the greatness of your competitors. Beating yourself up because you didn't have your best day is not helpful. Be gracious and humble no matter how you place. 
  7. Learn. You can only do your best. Things not go your way? You are better because you didn't win or podium or even place in the top 50%. What will you do differently next time? What weaknesses were unveiled that you will target in training?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Florida Open at CrossFit Fortress: My Story

March 29-30, 2014. (Read Part 2, Lessons Learned in Competitions)

My first Rx competition.
The division where athletes lift heavier loads and do more complicated moves.

Day 1 of competition
WOD 1. 14.5. Thrusters and burpees. 21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6 and 3 reps of each. For time. No cap. No "saved by the bell." Finish or DNF. Brutal. Honestly, I had thoughts of wanting to quit. I finished in 16:05. A good time, I thought. Although when I finished there appeared to be just one girl still working. Hhm.
WOD photos from Florida Open Facebook page

WOD 2. A floater. We could compete this workout anytime before 3:30 p.m. A 4 minute ladder of double paralette hops and keg cleans. At each minute we began with 7 double hops over the paralettes, then completed an AMRAP of keg cleans. The first minute was 30 lbs kegs (worth 1 point each clean), second was the 60 (worth 2 points) or 30, the third was 90 (worth 3 points), 60, or 30. The final was 120 (worth 4 points), 90, 60, or 30.

I didn't rest much between WODs because I didn't want to stiffen up, and wanted to approach it like I do daily training: catch my breath and move on to the next workout. I'd never picked up a keg before. Luckily, they were available to practice with for awhile at the beginning of the day. Didn't seem too difficult. Although I realized that there's quite a bit of difference between a barbell loaded with 90 lbs and a 90 lb keg. The standards said the keg had to be above the shoulder and completely touch the ground. I was careful to completely put the keg on my shoulder. A little too careful, as it turns out. After I finished, I stood around watching some athletes who merely tapped their shoulder and had reps counted.

I left pretty much immediately after finishing. This was my son's fourteenth birthday, so we went home to celebrate. After going to church and being met with an awesome sermon on pride (Hhm), I came home and discovered that scores were posted online. What I found was a swift kick to the gut. Eight competitors in my division. My placement? Eighth.  As it turns out, I finished 7th in WOD 1; 8th in WOD 2.

Last place. Oh. OH. Oh NO! I immediately replayed my workouts. WOD 1 was pure death. Not much I could do there. WOD 2 was a different story. My mind flashed back to each careful rep-- resetting the keg before moving on to the parallettes; the no rep as I set the keg down parallel to my feet instead of perpendicular; resting the keg momentarily on my shoulder with each rep-- precious seconds lost.

I was just sick. Really, I didn't want to go back. I was embarrassed (I mean, last place.) As I stared at the scores, I realized it was nearly mathematically impossible for me to break into the top 3. I wanted to cry. (And I am NOT a crier.) I told my husband I wasn't sure that I wanted him to go with me the next day. I couldn't even bear to brag share my thoughts on Facebook. I could only post this verse:
Day 2 of competition
I woke up knowing what lay before me-- an uphill battle to dig myself out of a hole. My husband reminded me of Rich Froning, who finished 30th in the pool event this year and went on to win the Games. But I didn't have days of competition to overtake those placed higher than me. I had 2 workouts. Fortunately, both were more suited to me than the first two.

WOD 3. 8:00 AMRAP. Snatches, box jumps and wall balls. 2-4-6-8... reps. I was positioned between  2 women who were in the top 3. Perfect. Exactly what I needed. I knew I needed to stay with them, and I did. I finished the workout tied for 3rd. And moved into 6th place.

WOD 4. 100:00 cap. 750M row, 50M sled push. 500M row, 50M sled push. 250M row, 25M sled push. 100 KB swings. The one I was looking forward to. I had just done a sled, row and GHD sit up WOD earlier in the week. I regularly push the sled with double my body weight. I regularly row. And more powerful than both those facts was the knowledge that I needed this win. My strategy-- go hard and outlast.
And I did. I came off the first row second and was passed on the sled push. Came off the second row just slightly behind the first place female. I kept telling myself, "This is it. Fight through the pain. I can rest when I'm done. No one has trained harder at these two moves than me. Outlast them." And I did. The only female to make it to the kettlebell swings, and I did 5 before collapsing in a heap.

And once again, I was near tears.

I didn't quit. I fought through the pain. Returned from dead last to finish tied for 4th place.
My first Rx event.