How (and Why) I Cut the SAD CRAP From My Diet
For as long as I can remember, the annual physical is something I have been religious in doing. I always figured, if I have the time to drop off my car for a yearly “tune-up,” then scheduling the annual physical was a no brainer.
Like most endurance athletes, I thought that as long as I was “training,” I was “healthy.” I ate whatever I wanted, and I always focused on the recommended high carbohydrate diet: pasta, bread, rice, etc. I never gave much thought about what I was eating in terms of quality because I was thin and in relatively good shape. Plus I was “healthy,” right? When I went in for my annual physical this year and got the results from my blood test, I became concerned.
For the second straight year, my triglycerides—essentially, the “sugar” in your blood—were high. We’re not talking about a little higher than normal here; normal is below 150, and mine were 330 in 2012 and over 600 in 2013. YIKES!! Alarm bells! In 2012, my doctor assumed I didn’t fast prior to the blood test so his only recommendation was to focus my diet on whole grain consumption. In 2013 when my triglycerides nearly doubled over the previous year, my doctor wanted to prescribe medication to help lower my cholesterol, which was also considered high by medical standards (>200).
“Medication? Clearly I have a better option,” I thought to myself. “Diet: how about I start there?” And so I did.
I reached out to a good friend and nutritionist, Lenny Parracino, CMT, FAFS of Functional Therapy in California. Lenny helped me begin a program that has included some major changes in my diet. My goals with this new program were to not only lower my triglycerides but also switch to a diet that would improve my athletic performance and help me feel “good” on a daily basis.
The main change I have made is to eat REAL food and to avoid SAD CRAP (Standard American Diet – Carbohydrates – Refined, Artificial or Processed). Essentially, if it has a bar code on it, I’m not eating it. My daily focus is on consuming:
- protein (eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, etc., making sure the meats are organic, grass fed or free range)
- healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, nut butters, avocado, etc.)
- carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables
As I begin training for my 23rd marathon, The Wine Glass Marathon on October 6th, I will proceed with a training approach that is more focused on my nutrition. My training program will continue to be based on the philosophy of Jack Daniels (check out the videos & training programs the Run SMART Project has done in collaboration with Jack).
One of the biggest differences is that I will forego my former pre-run meal of oatmeal and banana before and gels or gus during my run. Instead, for a pre-run breakfast I will now eat carbs in the form of fruits (primarily berries) and vegetables (sweet potatoes) and trade my chocolate gu in for homemade fuel (nut butter, honey and sea salt).
How it will go? Time will tell. But I feel confident in this new direction. At Finish Line Physical Therapy, we always talk about discovering the root cause of an injury instead of treating symptoms. In this case, taking medication wouldn’t have addressed the underlying cause of my high triglycerides.
Check back in the coming months for updates on my training with specifics about nutrition and performance. In the meantime, let’s hear from you: what would it mean for you to shift your habits and eat less SAD CRAP?