Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A week of sweet nothings

When fellow athletes (and non-athletes) ask me what I've been doing lately my reply usually leaves them slightly incredulous.  The exchange often goes something like this:

Noob 1: "Yo dude, what have you been doing since your last race?"
Me: "Ahhh, not a whole lot man...sleeping mostly."
Noob 1: "But you're still pounding out the hours, right? There's no such thing as an off-season, right?"
Me: "I literally have not worked out in two weeks."
Noob 1: "Wait..what?"
Me: bites apple, continues perusing interwebs

The landscaping fact that is "peaks and valleys" is (usually) not lost on most people.  For all hills, there are valleys.  The metaphor carries over into exercise physiology as well.  I was in very, very good shape at the end of October.  Now, per Brian Schmover, I will get out of shape.  That's what the two weeks post Rev3 FL were all about: getting out of shape.  The little race in the middle did nothing to abate the process.  So, since FL I have not gotten in a pool, on my bike, or laced up my shoes other than Shipwreck.

What I HAVE been doing, is cultivating a better athlete into my daily routine.  How does he do it, you may find yourself asking...yourself...? Well, if you don't know me, one of the biggest issues I've been putting on the back burner over the past two years has been my daily diet.  There are some things I do RIGHT when it comes to eating (like eat a lot of calories), but there are more things that I do WRONG.  My weekend at Florida and the result were just the final straws.  Being around Chris Caamano further served to galvanize my process.

I really felt the need to change this (pretty) major part of my personality as an athlete.  No, it doesn't have anything to do DIRECTLY with swimming, biking or running but it has a direct impact on everything else and an indirect impact on all three sports.  It just made sense to make some changes.

On the drive home, some of the discussion for our 11 hour jaunt along the highways of rural southeastern Amurica revolved around what I ate on a daily basis.  I was embarrassed.  It's not as though I go out and eat fast food all the time (but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart/stomach for Bojangles and Popeyes) but with the lack of planning I had my diet revolved around instantaneous gratification.  That meant Dunkin Donuts coffee and bagels for breakfast.  It meant a massive sub, chips and soda for lunch.  And it meant whatever I was craving after a tough workout for dinner.  Basically three huge meals a day left me feeling calorie sufficient (really full), but with an inefficient delivery and poor timing.  It was obvious to Tara that starting to make small, smart decisions here and there could lead to an overall big change in my nutritional outlook.

Some of the things I've started doing over the past three weeks include, but are not limited to:

1) Eating a healthy and milk-less breakfast.  This is oatmeal (I have yet to graduate to legit oats, still on Quaker instant oatmeal) or healthy, whole grain cereal with vanilla soy milk.
2) Preparing and bringing a lunch to work everyday, regardless of it's simplicity.  This is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on (real) whole wheat bread (with good peanut butter and real preserves), a granola bar, an apple (or two, occasionally, if I am feeling frisky), water, and some almonds.
3) Snacking throughout the day on healthy items like almonds, apples, to hopefully not enter a calorie deficit and feel "forced" to eat big meals
4) Dinner consisting of lean proteins, whole grains, and some veggies.  Burrito is a good example.
5) "Dessert" being mostly limited to popcorn, an occasional cookie, etc.

The BIGGEST thing for me in that list, if you know me, is the incorporation of fruits and, to a certain extent, vegetables.  I've always LIKED some vegetables, I just never went out of my way to prepare them.  Fruits, on the other hand, have been non existent almost my entire life.  By almost, I simply mean I probably had some as food when I was eating baby food.  So, that's it.  Just simply eating an apple was a huge step for me.  Lo and behold, I discovered it was positively delicious! Why had I been denying myself the fruits of the earth (hehe, literally) for so long? Who knows.  So, even if nothing else had changed, simply eating a piece of fruit a day would have represented a huge shift in my diet paradigm.

I've also set some goals up for the near and long term future.  I think, honestly, that this is nothing but a positive for me.  My diet has been a cause for much, let's call it "ribbing," over the past years.  Often referred to as the "James diet," or the "tan diet," or the "brown diet" it's something of a thing I've "cultivated."  My philosophy has always been that "if the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn."  I don't necessarily feel as though my opinion on that little gem has changed, but I do feel as though if I have the opportunity to put better fuel in the fire, it can only burn hotter.  And I could use as much of that whole "hotter" thing as I can get!

So these are the new things around the house that would surprise anyone that walked in:

Felt Nine 20.  The new hotness. All I am allowed to ride for the next 2 weeks!

Wtf are those?!?!

So many granola bar options, so little time...!

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