MY DIET STORY- Ultimately finding out what works...
So I will begin this blog post stating that I am no way a physician. What I am going to do is tell you my diet story and how my experiences with nutrition and dieting led to me how I am eating today.
You know how everything happens for a reason right? Here is my diet story.
Let’s start from the beginning. I came from a totally non-Paleo lifestyle of consuming cereal, pizza, bread, and sugar like the average American. I first was introduced to the Paleo diet shortly after beginning CrossFit which was almost 9 years ago. The Paleo diet was the best way to start for me and I believe it’s the best way for everyone to start a healthy lifestyle. For me the paleo diet introduced a new palate on my tongue, one that is not addicted to sugar. It took me a few years of discipline to get all the processed food to a minimum. I really started to love veggies and cooking for the first time in my life and leftovers didn't go to the fridge to die anymore. I ate all types of meat, all types of veggies, and all the good fats I could. I was feeling pretty good.
The next diet I “heard about” was the keto-diet with bulletproof coffee. This is still very popular today. Although, I may have not actually reached ketosis (when your body is using fat as its primary fuel) I learned how quality fats kept me satiated and full almost all day. After all, at that time I ate little to no carbs and only 2 meals a day. I started to lean out a little so I thought it was working but then things changed. I noticed within 2-3 weeks my performance in the gym was terrible. I started to feel very tired, like I had no drive in my legs to squat- I didn’t have brain fog- just leg fog. :)
So after my performance in the gym continued to decline I decided to ditch the bulletproof coffee. As a CrossFitter I cared about how much I squatted and wanted to get my Olympic lifts stronger and ultimately I wanted energy when I worked out. I wanted to feel good training! Next I turned to carb cycling, with little to no research I dove head first into it like I did with my version of the keto-diet. I was eating probably 500-600 grams of white rice after my workout. Picture half of your plate covered in rice! Goodness gracious, I believe that is probably close to 500-600 grams of carbs and close to 45-55g of protein. I had no idea!!!!! This diet I attribute to my fluff stage. :) But I learned something... I learned that carbohydrates help with performance, especially with CrossFit and gaining strength. My energy was significantly better than before so I was excited!
After life changed a bit and got busier I wasn't able to train as much as I used to so I settled back into the paleo groove and was not consuming white rice like I was living in a foreign country.
About 6-8 months later I discovered flexible dieting. During the early stages of this for me I was in a constant state of shock because I learned what and how much I ate affected my performance and body composition. The ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and protein was considerably WAYYY off when I first began. So within time, flexible dieting had opened my eyes to portion control. I initially lost over 15 pounds in about 3 months and have now maintained that and more for over 2 years yet the best part was even though I lost weight I was getting stronger. So for me, flexible dieting is a no-brainer because it works and will continue to work for everyone that sticks with it.
I am so thankful I went through all those stages of dieting to finally come to one that makes sense and works.
But,... there is always a but. What I have learned most recently just macro counting/flexible dieting is not perfect. Ha, you probably think I'm crazy now but let me tell you why. Macronutrients consist of protein, carbs, and fat. When I got consumed with hitting my numbers I lost track of something that is also very important, MICRONUTRIENTS! Simply put, when I know I need x amount of carbs and one sweet potato would do the trick- I make it easy for myself and just eat it. Yes, it works but what I did… is I got lazy. I got lazy in the sense of cooking. I stopped using a variety of veggies and recipes like I did when I ate paleo. If I am being honest on a normal day, I’d only have ONE serving of veggies. If I had a salad for lunch that day- that would make TWO servings of veggies. WOW, I completely stopped eating veggies like I was doing before when I ate paleo. When you neglect veggies it allows for more wiggle room for sugar to creep back into your diet. And sugar is ultimately the enemy here!
I cared so much about my macronutrients affecting my performance that I forgot the value of micronutrients. What are micronutrients? They are vitamins and minerals that come from fruits and vegetables that are ESSENTIAL FOR US TO EAT. Micronutrients are not a direct source of energy like macronutrients. Instead, they facilitate energy production, they transport oxygen and CO2, they regulate fluid balance, and protect against oxidative damage and stress. WOW, if I don’t have much micronutrients coming in… it greatly can affect my ability to make energy from protein, carbs, and fats I am eating. I had totally lost track and overlooked micronutrients.
So what do I do now? Well the average athlete, aka CrossFitter, you need 7-12 servings of vegetables/fruit per day. Do you realize how much that is? Goodness, I would be so veggie stuffed (fiber stuffed) that I wouldn’t have room in my belly to fill up my daily amount of my carbs. So that would limit me eating my favorite carby stuff like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. Knowing that I do not and most likely won’t get enough micronutrients I now take 3 capsules two times daily to fill in the gap. I started taking Juice Plus 2 months ago. Juice Plus is the most researched encapsulated product in the world and it is distributed right here in TN. What is it? It is whole food based nutrition in powdered form. There are over 30 different types of fruits and veggies in these capsules. People ask me, can you tell a difference?
Well now that my macronutrients are on point and my micronutrients are too I am recovering from workouts like a champ. One neat thing that I have also noticed is my bruising has decreased significantly, and if you know me I bruise like a peach. After all, it should be my nickname. Now my bruising is minimal but if I do bruise it heals significantly faster than before. Also, my teeth and gums appear in a better condition too. This doesn’t mean that I have thrown in the towel and just use this product and still do not eat veggies; instead, it has inspired me to eat way more. I crave way more veggies now after taking Juice Plus!
My nutrition story was a big personal experiment to find out what works for me. Currently, I am counting my macros and taking my Juice Plus as well as being mindful of how much micronutrients I am consuming. I hope by reading this you can see that no diet is perfect but what is perfect is simple, eat wholesome ingredients and see food as a fuel something to help your body (your engine) run as best as it possibly can.
Secrets of success:
Read nutrition labels.
Cut out sugar and processed foods
Eat nuts and seeds, fruits and veggies
Eat quality fats; coconut oil, grassfed beef, grassfed eggs, wild caught fish, avocados, kerrygold butter.
Eat lean meats often; chicken/fish
Get your micronutrients!
Drink 3 liters- 5 liters of water daily
Sleep 7 hours
Be mindful- get off your phone for a little while
Train. Workout. Have “ME TIME”
Questions on my experience? Questions on how to get started with Juice Plus? Questions on how to get started with Flexible dieting? I'd love to hear from you. Please forgive me of run-on sentences and improper use of commas. :)