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Sunday, March 31, 2013


All three of us are atheist yet both my husband and son insist on celebrating Easter. And for some reason I go along with it.

Spent the morning preparing stuff for Easter dinner.

1) Made a low carb cheesecake pie.

3 packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 tbsp real vanilla extract
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup erythritol
36 drops liquid stevia

This makes enough for a full cheesecake pie plus two or three extra little ramekins of cheesecake. Mix 1.5 cups almond flour with 2 tbsp melted butter and press into the sides of a pie plate for a crust. Put a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 325. Bake for 30 minutes, turn off oven and let it sit in there for an hour. Cool in fridge. I'll serve with fresh strawberries.

2) Put together a  low carb cheesy broccoli casserole.

3) Boiled eggs and dyed them with my kid.

4) Made mashed cauliflower topped with a little cheese that I will bake alongside the casserole later.

5) Prepped for my vegetarian son's favorite meal: chickpea cutlets, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy (def not low carb).

We bought a small pasture-raised local organic ham yesterday. It really is unbelievably expensive to eat right.

Unfortunately my stupid blister is making walking difficult so I am not working out very much today. Will foam roll and stretch and do some swim-specific dryland exercises with resistance bands later.

Yesterday I napped from 3 - 7 p.m. and then went to bed at 9 p.m. and slept until 7 a.m. this morning. I was exhausted from the trip to Philly. I can't believe "spring break" is over -- so much for that.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


In spite of a whopping four hours of sleep thanks to getting home late last night, I still rolled out of bed to run the 8.1 mile distance at Just a Short Run (JASR) this morning.

The old me still thinks 8.1 miles is a short run. But the injured me is finally getting the memo. The last run I did longer than 6.2 miles was back in May 2011.

I am training for the Pittsburgh half marathon this year so JASR was a tune up for that. I decided to shoot for a 1:30 finish.

Pre-race I put moleskin on my arch, then put on my compression socks, then laced up my ankle brace. I was hoping the moleskin would prevent blisters. No such luck.

if you really want to see this, click for larger image

This hurts. If I am going to keep running I have to figure out what to do about it. I am going to ask my sports medicine doctor if there is a different heavy duty ankle brace I can try. I am not supposed to run (or do anything really) without the brace. But it's making running even more unpleasant than usual.

Otherwise the run was fine. My pre-race nutrition was just my usual breakfast: eggs, bacon, berries, coffee. I had water before and during most of the race. I took gatorade that was very watered down at the last two aid stations. Didn't have any GI problems during the event.

I finished in 1:30 and change, exactly what I was hoping for. A friend met up with me and we ran most of the last 5 miles together. Another friend and her family were there to cheer me on as I made the last turn. Other than that painful blister on my left arch, it was a good run; ankle seems to be holding up okay.

Friday, March 29, 2013

endless love

Getting this! 17' endless pool swim spa.

Unfortunately it's 7:30 pm, I'm in a f'n Bob Evans in a Philly suburb,  and I'm supposed to run 8.1 miles at the Just A Short Run tomorrow morning.

Funny thing: I haven't run more than a 10k in two years.

Maybe we'll be home by midnight?  Who cares! I'm getting a poooooooool!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Lots of things to write about.

- Found out this morning my story was featured in Vinnie Tortorich's newsletter. If you aren't listening to the Angriest Trainer podcast you are missing out.

- Found out yesterday that my friend who is an excellent athlete currently training for the English Channel eats low carb/paleo. She said, "ketosis is bliss." I can't wait to find out what the crew hands off on the pole during her feeds.

- Went to masters, had steak & veggies for breakfast, going to class today on Bayesian models, will drink chia fresca, yadda yadda but.........

TOMORROW I am going to check out Endless Pools in Philadelphia!!!! So excited. The model I am leaning towards looks like this.

I am terrified of spending so much money but man oh man the prospect of having a pool that I can keep at 70º and swim outside (even if only in one place) all winter with minimal chlorine is just TOO exciting. 

This morning my coach suggested I rent out the pool to offset some of the cost. I told her the truth, "I don't want anybody peeing in my pool!" But of course my friends will swim in it, provided they promise not to pee.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

spring break

I am on "spring break" from work meaning I did not have to lecture today, so instead I spent the day writing two exams, two data analysis projects, a lecture, a lab, and a homework. And I am still behind....

I postponed my run until after my husband got home from work because it's more fun to run together. And our teenager came along too, even better!

I just needed to get in a short run to test the moleskin I am using on my arch where my ankle brace has been causing a huge blister. It seems to have worked. However, my "getting ready for a run" routine is getting more and more complex. I miss the days of just throwing my shoes on and going out the door.

Yesterday I ate way more than usual, well over 2000 calories, and this morning the scale was down 2 lbs. I know weight fluctuates but I usually expect to fluctuate in the upward direction the morning after I eat a lot. I keep thinking I am going to give up on figuring this weight loss thing out and just eat/train/live but now it's like a crazy puzzle and I can't stop!

Breakfast: bacon, eggs, berries, coffee.
Lunch: grassfed burger with cheddar, spinach, asparagus, chai tea with almond milk.
Snack: peanut butter and cream cheese mixed with a little stevia.
Dinner: mahi mahi pan fried in coconut oil topped with sour cream, asparagus, broccoli.
Total: 1700 cal, 43g carb, 122g fat, 106g pro, 21g fiber

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

switching it up

Since I am doing Just a Short Run this Saturday I decided to flip my Saturday workout to today. Went to the early a.m. yoga class. Here I realized the source of my pool cramp yesterday -- there is a big knot in my right glute. Between tired arms and knots in my legs yoga wasn't too fun.

Following yoga I jumped on the trainer where I caught up with the Daily Show and Colbert Report. I rode zone 2 (HR 125-130) for the show and zone 4 (155 - 165 BPM) for the commercials. This is a good way to pass the time on the trainer. But really, I am sick of the trainer and ready to ride outside.

I skipped lifting and went straight to the foam roller. I love my foam roller. If you don't foam roll, you are missing out.

I was very hungry at breakfast -- I should have eaten between yoga and cycling. Also I need to stay on top of my salt intake better now that training is ramping up.

Monday, March 25, 2013

no such thing as too much swimming

I love it when I make it to two masters practices on Monday: 5:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

This morning the mainset was 600, 2x300, 3x200, 4x150. I got there late (stupid snow!) so started with a 500. Swimming feels so much better than running.

Had breakfast with some friends after practice. We decided to try the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim next year. Been stoked about this prospect all day. You start in Istanbul, get ferried to somewhere in Asia, then swim back. It's short, only 6.5 km, but two continents! Yay! July 2014, look out.

Worked and blah blah blah and then back to the POOL, hooray! The evening practice has a reduced set option and my lane wanted to do that so I just gave it all I had, leading most of it. The mainset was 400, 2x300 neg split, 3x200 descend, 4x100 best average. Had some issues with cramping towards the end of the set. It started in the bottom of my feet and worked it's way up my calves. Unusual for me. Our lane had a ladder in it so a few push-offs were kind of wonky; that didn't help.

A solid 5500 yds for the day overall.

Pre-morning swim: coffee with cream.
Breakfast: haloumi cheese my friend brought sautéed with onions on an omelet. Good stuff.
Lunch: leftover baked chicken and a green salad.
Snack: spinach, almonds, strawberries, whey, chia in the vitamix. mmmm. Chia fresca at the pool.
Dinner: cauliflower crust pizza, salad, strawberries.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

back at it

Well, after two days of solid fail I am back at it. Got to an early Bikram class this morning and didn't suffer. Did an easy 10k run with my husband afterwards and felt good. Polished it off with some dry-land swim strength conditioning with resistance bands.

My huge lace-up Aso ankle brace is giving me a massive blister on the arch of my foot regardless of how much I hit it with the Body Glide. Not sure what to do about this but I need to solve this problem asap.

Also had a genius idea today: put lace locks on the ankle brace. At least I'll shave off a few seconds in T2.

Signed my husband, son, and I up for the Pittsburgh Triathlon Sprint this July. I would have preferred to race the Olympic distance but I cannot pass up the opportunity to have all three of us in the same event. Unfortunately my husband's 5k time is at least 10 minutes faster than mine and there is no way I can put 10 minutes in on him over a short 600m swim so I don't have a good feeling about the outcome of this. No matter what we'll have fun battling it out.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

in a handbasket

I have upped the anti from my last post: I am tired AND hungover today. It just keeps getting worse.

Had a few too many "lowcarbaritas" last night. I use this recipe with liquid stevia as the sweetener. There are about 100 calories and just a few grams of carbs in each drink. But I should NOT have had three. I hardly ever drink, and this morning I remembered why.

I blame my I.U.D. for all of this. My periods are awful but I cannot take hormonal birth control due to my medical history. Most female endurance athletes can time their periods while on the pill to not conflict with big events. For me it's a game of Russian Roulette every time I sign up.

My heaviest day is always miserable. It's hard to workout since I can't go for more than an hour without needing a pitstop. I get very strong cramps and terrible headaches. So yesterday, after battling it out with my uterus all day, I decided to have a couple of drinks.

Today, I pay.

Friday, March 22, 2013


As my training time increases, my sleeping time decreases. There are only so many hours in the day. Recently I came across this article in the NYT, "Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain." This is disconcerting.

I have been exhausted but not sleeping well lately. I think I need to stop caffeine after lunch. Usually I have no trouble sleeping, so this is a new problem for me.

It is getting harder and harder to get up at 5 a.m. to workout. I missed yoga this morning since I had trouble falling asleep last night in spite of going to bed early.

My job is already very challenging; trying to do it exhausted is a recipe for disaster.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Well I finally found out what makes me hungry, and it's speedwork in the pool. It wasn't even that long of a set distance-wise but the effort-level was intense. When I got home from masters I put away a huge breakfast: bacon mixed into leftover mashed cauliflower with cheddar cheese, blackberries with sour cream, coffee with cream.

Also my quads are finally getting the memo that we are running again. My brain still thinks like someone training for an ultra, "it's only 6 miles." But my legs have been saying otherwise. I had a solid run on Tuesday and no residual quad pain yesterday, so that's a good sign that my training is coming along.

But truth be told, I am starting to think that I just don't enjoy running any more.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

sample menu

Another athlete inspired me to post a full day's meals in detail after reading her No Sugar No Grain (NSNG) post on her blog, (Also she has a 20-mile race coming up this weekend so check in with her next week too -- go get it Caratunkgirl!!!)

I am very fussy about where my food comes from. Everything must be hormone free. Fish is sustainable and wild caught. Bacon is always uncured, nitrate free, and from pasture-raised pigs. Beef is from grass-fed cows. Dairy is organic and grass-fed if possible. Eggs and chicken are organic free-range. Fruits and vegetables are organic whenever possible. The industrial food complex is scary and I try to avoid it at all cost. 

Here's my yesterday:
  • Breakfast (pre-run): eggs, bacon, coffee with cream. (Yes, this is what I ate before my run.) 
  • Nuun on the run (6 mi).
  • Lunch: leftover pasta-free spinach lasagna (I add extra veggies), chai tea made with a few drops of stevia and almond milk.
  • Snack: blackberries with crème fraîche, an ounce of dark chocolate, chia fresca.
  • Dinner: small sirloin steak, mashed cauliflower, huge caesar salad (no croutons, obviously), strawberries.
myfitnesspal's summary for the day

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

itchy bitchy heart

Know how certain scents remind you of home? For the rest of his life every time my son uses bleach he'll think of me.

Mondays I try to get to both 5:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. practices with Team Pittsburgh Masters. It's not the swimming, it's the chlorine that is getting to me. I shower after every practice plus I took a third shower before bed (sorry, environment!). Yet I still sweat out chlorine this morning on my run.

I have been using coconut oil for scar massage. It's great for dry skin too. Last night I used it head to toe to try to counteract the chlorine itchiness. It helped somewhat. Also, I add coconut oil to my morning coffee. I put it in my smoothies. I pan fry things in it. I use it on my scars. I feel like I am drowning in it.

Luckily you can get an giant 54 oz tub of coconut oil at Costco for under $20. I am on my third one in the last 5 months.
Ironically my husband hates both the taste and smell of coconuts. At least he's not allergic to bleach!

Monday, March 18, 2013

back to logging

My hiatus from using MyFitnessPal (MFP) nutrition log is ending. I did it for two full weeks. I neither gained nor lost. And I missed the info -- I am a data junkie.

I am making some changes to my intake goals.

kcal Daily Calorie Intake
g Carbohydrates (10%)
g Protein (25%)
g Fat (65%)

I was at 5% cho, 20% pro, 75% fat previously. Several people who are keto-adapted athletes suggested that slightly more carbs and less fat might be better;  I am trying to find the right tweak to suit me.

This seems a little low in protein but it should work out. MFP adds to your daily calories if you exercise so I will wind up with 1500 net at the end of the day. It grossly overestimates calories so I always cut their estimate in half if not more when entering in my log.

For today, given my swimming schedule,  MFP has me at 1800 cal, 45g cho 129 g fat 112g pro. That's exactly what I am going for. I am more interested in ratio of cho/pro/fat than calories.

Here is a fun calculator for folks interested in setting up a ketogenic diet.
Too bad I don't buy their weightloss timeline at the end!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

not vegan

I ate a fairly clean vegan diet for a little over three years, 2009 - 2012. I adopted a vegan diet for "health reasons". I was eating too much processed crap, and I thought animal products were weighing me down. The JFK50 was my first big race on this diet, where ultrarunner Scott Jurek passed me on the Appalachian Trail; I was star struck like a tween at a boy-band concert. There are a number of incredible vegan athletes, including Jurek, Brendan Brazier, and Rich Roll. It certainly can be done.

I never claimed to be "vegan" and always used the modifier "vegan diet" because vegans are a culture all to themselves. I would eat things with white sugar (that may have been processed with bone char). I didn't ask the chef at a restaurant if the bread was made with honey. I wore wool socks.  I was never Vegan.

I didn't give up my diet for a noble cause. My husband and I were planning a trip to Amsterdam and eating vegan in Europe is a huge pain in the ass. So I added dairy and fish, joining our son as a pescetarian. I noticed that I wasn't hungry all the time. My skin looked better. I was recovering from my workouts better. After we got back from the trip I stuck with it. Later, after much debate, I added meat to my diet.

During my stint on the vegan diet I gained quite a bit of weight. Of course I had injury after injury, so it's hard to isolate the variable that did me in. But I was hungry. Often. And while I ate clean, I would eat a lot.

Two fairly famous vegans recently (surprisingly) gave up their vegan diet, and both blog posts on the topic are worth reading:
- Morgan Spurlock's partner and vegan chef, Alex Jamieson.
- Popular blogger Kristen's Raw.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

keeping the faith

8 a.m. breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with a little cream cheese, small bowl of blackberries with crème fraîche, and coffee with cream.

Bikram yoga followed by a hard trainer ride followed by weights. Nuun only during workouts. Total time exercising: just under 4 hours.

2 p.m. lunch: raw almonds, almond milk, coconut oil, spinach, broccoli, lime, chia seeds, L-glutamine, ice blended in vitamix. So good.

Nowadays I can make it all morning through some intense exercise and not feel hungry. Previously I would have been ready to eat a horse after a morning like this. But I was vegan at the time.... so a tofu-horse? Tohorsey?

Yet sometimes seeds of doubt creep in. Is this stupid? Can I really survive on a low carb diet as an athlete? This past week I made the best discovery ever. One of my favorite athletes, Paula Newby Fraser, arguably one of the greatest triathletes of all time, trained on low carb diet. Here's a link to Tim Noakes talking about PNF's training. And here's a tweet from Paula herself on the subject.  YES!

One of my favorite pictures!

Friday, March 15, 2013

exercise vs weightloss

I have a lot of very lean friends, many of them elite or pro athletes, that would lead a person to think that surely exercise makes you skinny. But this is a classic example of correlation vs causation. One could easily conclude the inverse: skinny people are better at exercise.

Vinnie Tortorich on the Angriest Trainer podcast often comments that exercise alone is no guarantee of weight loss. Hang around an Ironman finish line after the 13 hour mark or so, he says, and you will find a lot of evidence for this.  There are plenty of heavy triathletes shlepping around extra pounds for 140.6 miles in spite of a huge training volume. When I crossed the line at IMFL I was one of them.

Recently there was an article on, 4 fatloss myths for endurance athletes, that speaks to this very issue. Most interesting to me was the last myth: the more you exercise the more fat you will lose.

Case in point. I have been struggling to lose weight ever since my training program picked up. This week I actually lost weight for the first time in months. What else about this week? It was my lowest training volume week of the year due to being sick. Then again, correlation ≠ causation.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2 days off, omg

I have been sick all week -- just sick enough to feel run down and crummy. So I took Tuesday and Wednesday off. I mentioned this at different times to four of my friends who are athletes. Each had the same reaction: aghast. You would have thought I said I flipped off the new pope.

TWO DAYS? Wow. Are you okay?

For most of us two-workouts-a-day six-days-a-week is the norm. Some do even more. The only time we take two days off in a row is directly after a big race. But even then by day two we might be sneaking in a "recovery___"(swim, ride, etc).

We are all totally neurotic.

With that said, since I wasn't feeling better in spite of resting I did my two workouts today.

This morning at 5 a.m. I had coffee with a scant tbsp of Kerrygold butter and 0.5 tbsp coconut oil and went to masters. I was falling off the back in my lane, still dragging from being sick, but I finished the set.

Breakfast: bacon, berries and black coffee. (alliteration!)

Met a friend for lunch at a great place where they make fresh gigantic salads. If you are in Pgh, check out Hello Bistro. Had a salad with salmon, olives, tons of veggies, not much dressing.

Did an easy 5k run with my husband after work. I was wheezing a bit and had to walk the hills. The most distressing part of the run was when the interplay of light and shadow on the sidewalk aggravated my concussion and I thought I was going to puke. I hit my head 11 months ago. Concussions are no joke.

Post run I had raw almonds, whey, blueberries, chia seeds, l-glutamine, almond milk, and most of a bag of spinach in the vitamix. Delicious.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

3 strategies

I've been doing more research. There seem to be three strategies for dealing with a weight loss stall while on a low carb diet.

1) eat a few more calories, slightly increase carbs from non-grain sources (i.e. more berries and green veggies), decrease fat intake somewhat, stick to whole foods. Recently a trainer I have a lot of respect for suggested this approach to me and it is the one I am currently trying. So far I am gaining weight. I am going to stick with it a little longer to give it a fair try.

2) fat fast - eat fewer calories, mostly fat, limit protein, keep carbs to a minimum. This is from the old-school Atkins approach and is known to be very effective (for short periods of time).

3) protein-sparing modified fast (PSMF) - exactly the opposite of the fat fast, eat a low-fat high-protein diet, calories and carbs to a minimum. This is the approach Lyle McDonald recommends when you need to lose fat quickly or jump start weight loss.

I am a big fan of Lyle McDonald's work. I followed him extensively 10 years ago when I was first dieting down and lifting weights heavily. Ironically he thinks Gary Taubes is full of crap. It's causing a bit of cognitive dissonance as I try to make sense of all of this. *sigh*

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

shirataki and cheese

Yesterday my friend brought over Shirataki noodles for breakfast. They were surprisingly good. One package has 40 calories and essentially no carbs since they are all fiber.

The trick to cooking them I learned from Dana Carpenter at drain and rinse the noodles, then nuke for 90 seconds, then drain, then nuke for 90 seconds again, then drain. This gets all of the water out. That's it, they're cooked and ready to go.

We modified Dana’s recipe to make shirataki mac-n-cheese, deciding the best combination of ingredients is:
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 0.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp whipped cream cheese
  • 1.5 oz cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper
Stir in to drained, hot noodles. Good stuff.

In other news… still feeling under the weather. Taking today off hoping two back-to-back rest days cures me. I will make up today’s run/lift on Thursday or Friday.

Monday, March 11, 2013


I am not sick enough to be totally down for the count but I am exhausted. Air planes are incubators for germs. Not to mention that the guy next to me had no concept of personal space. *gross*

Had a tough time at swim practice this morning. Felt like I was on the brink of an asthma attack (I have exercise-induced asthma) and just couldn't push.

I keep finding myself dozing off at the computer at work.

I am skipping my second swim practice tonight. I hate missing a workout but given how I feel I just don't see the point in going.

I need to make it through lifting and a run tomorrow and then I get a rest day on Wednesday.

I think this explains why I fell apart on my bike ride yesterday. However, this is the first time all winter I've been even a little sick, so I can't complain too much.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

awful ride

Well, it finally happened. For the first time since I started this little experiment last October I felt absolutely awful and had no energy for my bike ride.

This morning my weight was up +4 lbs on the scale since I left for Florida on Friday. Travelling sucks. Who knows what's in commercial salad dressings, etc.

When I woke up today I still felt tired. Had eggs, fancy bacon, asparagus, and coffee. Drank two huge glasses of water.

Still tired, I laid back down for a while. Forced myself to get up and get ready for the bike ride. Didn't feel like riding but the weather in Pittsburgh today was just too nice not to go.

Threw some spinach, raw almonds, almond milk, blueberries, and whey in the vitamix. Drank that and took a salt stick cap.

Dragged ass out of the house and rode over to the ride start. This was a group ride for novice riders and experienced club members were asked to come along and help. I had myself in the latter category until the ride left and I promptly fell off the back. One big climb early in the ride and I knew I was done. I peeled off from the group and took a scenic route back to my house.

And burst into tears.

That 200k on March 23rd isn't looking too promising right now.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Just got home from an overnight trip. Missed a 100k ride I was looking forward to which leaves me in even worse shape for the 200k coming up soon. But the worst part of travelling is the food. Specifically, the paucity of fresh food.

Last night I went out to a nice restaurant where I ordered a steak with double vegetables. The proportion of meat to vegetables was exactly the opposite of what I would have chosen. A huge steak. A teeny tiny plate of vegetables.

This morning there was a free breakfast buffet at my hotel. 99% of breakfast was white flour served different ways.

I had a salad for lunch but even still the proportion of fresh lettuce to the other stuff was out of whack. How can you have a salad and still feel vegetable deprived?

Tomorrow I am going to pack my vitamix with two days worth of vegetables. I can't wait. For as much food as there is everywhere -- it seems like I was constantly surrounded by convenience foods -- it is almost impossible to find fresh fruits and vegetables when travelling.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I stumbled across a great podcast sometime in January, thanks to a friend who is also an athlete doing the same nutrition experiment as I am.

Vinnie Tortorich and his cohost Anna Vocino do a fantastic podcast called "America's Angriest Trainer." ← check out the embedded links, trust me.

The podcast is approx 75% BSing about random stuff and 25% fitness info but the fitness info is spot-on and the rambling is hilarious. Definitely NSFW and if you don't like swearing and raunchy humor, don't bother. But then again, if you don't like those things you probably don't like me, either.

Vinnie's philosophy is very simple, "No Sugar No Grains" (NSNG). I like the fact that he doesn't over complicate it. And he is another example of an athlete who has done incredible things on a ketogenic diet -- beating leukemia and competing in the toughest ultra-cycling event in the US,  Furnace Creek 508to name a few.

Sometimes when people look at me like I am crazy for not carb loading for endurance training, it's nice to know I am not alone. This podcast is super funny, chocked with solid info on nutrition and fitness, and easily passes the time on a long run or ride. Give it a listen.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

crazy diet

I saw my surgeon for a follow-up appointment the other day. I really like this guy -- skilled, smart, and personable. At the end of the visit he asked me casually, "what's up with this crazy diet you are on?"

At the store this morning the question came back to me as I was heading down the freezer aisle towards the exit. I would say that about 98% of the items for sale in the grocery store are things I wouldn't consider eating and barely consider food. Packaged, processed, huge ingredient lists -- a product of science not nature. In my cart: broccoli, berries, eggs, cheese, cream, almond milk, and organic milk for my kid.

My diet isn't crazy at all!

My answer to my doctor was that I went back to eating a low carb diet after coming across a considerable amount of information that it was plausible for endurance athletes to perform as good if not better on this program when I was looking for ways to fuel during the marathon swim relay.

But really the Standard American Diet (SAD) is the crazy diet.

When I was eating a high-carb vegan diet I didn't eat most of the junk at the store either. But I am much happier now not being hungry all the time. I don't miss the sugar highs/lows. I cannot imagine being on a boat for 8-9 hours circling Manhattan swimming with my teammates trying to time GU gels and swim; it turns my stomach just thinking about it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

husband 2mo update

My husband has lost 11 lbs in 2 months and is fitting in his jeans again. But he's not happy. His weight is decreasing but not fast enough for him.

He and I have different goals. He has no intention of sticking with this long term; I do.


  • swimming a 8-9 hour marathon relay while not riding sugar highs/lows; not having to worry about bonking in long races (major motivator)
  • not be constantly hungry on a diet I like and can sustain long term.
  • lose weight
  • go back to carbs as soon as possible.

He has been going on long runs (2-3 hours) ketoadapted on just water and been fine. You'd think that would be a motivator for a guy who is training for a 100-mile run. ??? But we'll see how this plays out. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

long work days

On Wednesdays I have a long commute and a long day at work.

My strategy so far has been to eat a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, cheese, berries, and coffee.

For lunch I bring a green smoothie in a jar.

I teach back-to-back two-hour lectures in large auditoriums. I bring chia fresca with me during the lecture. My students are a bit puzzled by this but that's okay.

On my way home I have been using Atkins packaged products since they can last all day in the car.

I think I might be better off skipping dinner entirely than drinking these shakes. Check out the ingredients:

I have really tried to cut back on artificial sweeteners and this has both Acesulfame Potassium and Sucralose, and who knows what's in the "natural and artificial flavors" - possibly my new least favorite ingredient,  beaver anal gland secretions.

I have no time for a sit-down dinner, it has to be eaten in the car. Maybe I'll just bring some balls and a refill on the chia water and call it a day.

Monday, March 4, 2013


I see people eating garbage all the time -- donuts, candy, chips, fast food, etc. Mostly I eat a clean diet of veggies, dairy, eggs, fish, meat, and berries. Yet I will gain weight from eating nuts.


Roasted and salted nuts are not allowed in this house. For a while. Maybe ever.

I have a bag of raw almonds. I'll keep these around to throw in my smoothies or make almond milk in the vitamix.

Peanuts aren't even a nut and many of the books/podcasts I have listened to recently suggest avoiding them altogether. I think I'll cut out peanut butter too.


Right after posting this I came across this article, "Top 15 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight on a Low-Carb Diet".

Sunday, March 3, 2013

1650 race report

I spent two months out of the pool recovering from surgery so I had fairly low expectations for the 1650 this year. I seeded myself in a slower heat. I figured I'd survive the swim this year, and have something to look back on next year so I could see how far I've come.

Well, it turns out I did okay in spite of my surgery. I finished 18 seconds over last year's time and about 48 seconds over my best time. I am pleased that I didn't lose as much fitness as I had feared during all of those weeks sitting on the couch doing nothing.

Also this was my first race on a low carb diet.

Last night before bed I had a Vanilla UCan shake. I made it with almond milk and a few frozen strawberries in the vitamix. It tasted like I threw three sticks of chalk in a blender with a strawberry. But I got it down, and it did not throw me out of ketosis.

My heat wasn't until a little after 11 a.m. this morning. I was not the least bit hungry when I woke up. But I made myself eat since I knew I would likely be hungry by noon. So what did I have? Bacon, eggs, and coffee. That was my pre-race meal, about 3 hours before the swim. And a Salt Stick Cap.

I had a bottle of water on deck at the pool to make sure I stayed hydrated.

Post swim I was not hungry. That was a first. We went out to a chinese restaurant and I had some tofu and vegetables, no rice, and I scraped off as much sauce as I possibly could.

Other than the UCan (U can drink chalk, apparently), everything was a success. My 50 yard splits in the pool were consistent. In fact I would say that my GI system and energy levels were much better than previous 1650s when I was running on Gus and Gatorade.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

a break from counting calories

I think triathlon often brings out the worst in the Type A personalities it tends to attract. Take something relatively simple and over-think it until it is as complicated as possible. That is a finely honed skill for many in this sport; I am guilty.

As of the first of March I am finally taking a break from my food journal.

This is actually harder than it sounds. I have kept one since I left the Atkins diet and got into triathlon years ago.

Previously on my diet I never worried about calories, just keeping my carbs low and eating when I felt like it. It was easy and worked great. So I am bringing it back. I figure I will try this for two weeks or so and see what happens.

The 1650 is tomorrow. Tonight I had a cauliflower crust pizza for dinner. I was going to drink a UCAN shake to top off my glycogen stores before bed but I think I am too full. I doubt I need it -- I guess I'll find out the hard way tomorrow.

Friday, March 1, 2013

1650 strategy

Sunday I will swim the 1650, again. Today I thought I would share my strategy.  Full disclosure: I am slow. My 1650 personal best is 28:02 (1:42/100). So my advice is what it is. While I am trying to be more positive, truth be told, I’d rather swim six miles outside than one in the pool.

The 1650 is 66 lengths of a 25 yard pool. Olympic swimmers finish under 15 minutes. You swim against yourself, seeded in a heat with comparable swimmers. There is a counter at the end of the pool who drops big plastic numbers into the water as you approach your wall, starting at 01, ending at 63. For 65 you get two red boxes that mean, “haul ass you are almost done”.

My husband or son counts for me (holds the number board). My counter knows what split I need to be on pace. So to swim a 1:42 I needed to hit 51 seconds for each 50. If I am falling off pace they shake the board so I know I need to pick it up. If I see a still set of numbers then I know I am okay. The USMS has a pace chart that is very helpful in figuring this out.

In my opinion the 1650 is very similar to running a 5k. I break the race down into 3x500 and then 3x50.

  • First 500: Smooth, don't go out too fast. Take long strokes. Grab the water. Streamline. I find the pace that’s as hard as I can stand knowing I have a long way to go.

    When I see 21 on the number board, leg one done. Yay.

  • Second 500: Build, focus on staying strong. If I can I try to pick it up a little while keeping my breathing and heart rate under control. Swim strong. Grab the water. Solid push off the walls.

    When I see 41 on the board, two legs done. Double yay!

  • Last 500. Hard. Heading into the home stretch. I allow my HR to pick up a little as I try to get the dang thing over with. Time to empty the tank. I focus on my form since I tend to get sloppy when I am tired. Are my hips sagging? Is my finish weak? Where can I find some speed?

    When I see 59 on the board, it’s almost over. Triple Yay!

  • Go Go Go! (61 on the board).

    HARD! (63 on the board).

    Two red squares! Suffer!

    I’m in HELLLLLLLL and then done. Whew.