So it seems as if since I started getting healthy 3 years ago my nutrition keeps changing. I thought about it a lot recently and felt like I was changing, but I like to think of it instead as an evolution. Many times people gawk at me when they see me pull out carrot sticks, or ask how I lost all of my weight. I explain over and over again: little changes over time. I did not go from 272 to 150 over night, and I also did not go from eating fast food everyday to being a gluten free vegan over night either. It has been a long process and one that took 3 years, but the important thing I have learned is that because I slowly converted and learned a long the way, the easier and more natural it has become for me to maintain. I would not change it. I would not try to go from zero to 100 in a week. Slow changes over time lead to a healthy lifestyle, and that lasts a life time. A drastic change is a lot harder to maintain, you miss things, you long for things to come back into your diet. This is why I am fan of evolving into a healthy lifestyle over time.
I have never been a supporter of doing a drastic cleanse, or going from one thing to the other extreme in a short period of time. I know those things don't work, I know because I did that battle for 10 years and lost every time. I would crash diet and crash at the end. Each time putting on more weight and becoming more unhealthy. This time was different. This time it took a long time to change and I have not only changed how I eat, but I have changed my views about food and what it does when it enters my body and gets broken down for fuel.
When I first started I was just happy to be losing weight. When you are 272 pounds anything is healthy as long as it does not come from a drive through or take out delivery driver. I was super unhealthy, not following a gluten free diet as I should have been since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when I was 22. Anyways, so for the last 3 years my habits have totally been ever evolving and ever changing.
Year 1 - I focused mostly on switching over to the gluten free side. I joined Weight Watchers and began losing weight. I loved that! I started measuring food I was consuming. I made little changes over time, things like drinking a large ice coffee with extra cream and extra sugar, down to a medium ice coffee with skim milk and splenda. But it took time. I stopped eating a bowl of ice cream at night, instead I would have a Weight Watchers Smart ones ice cream bar or something like a piece of fruit. I ate a lot of low fat snacks and foods. I switched from chicken thighs, and steak and pork, to lean ground turkey, chicken breast and lean pork chops. I ate greek yogurt, I ate egg beaters, I finally started eating more fruits and vegetables.
Year 2 - I started taking nutrition courses in college. I switched my major from business administration to health science, and finally Nutrition. I began to realize that losing 100 pounds was awesome, and now I started to look at what I was eating and what it did to my body. I started training for a marathon and started thinking I wanted to eat cleaner and healthier. I went on a paleo plan for a long time. I started doing more crossfit and running and eating paleo. I cut out tons of processed foods, I stopped needing those smart ones treats. I got to my goal weight of 150 pounds and ran a marathon. It all felt great! I also learned more about my health. I was able to come off all 7 medications I was taking and manage my diseases soley on good nutrition and exercise regimins. I discovered my dairy intolerance and really became strict paleo to help put my RA into a more managable state.
Year 3 - I started ultra running. I was now completely clean eating. I was off all dairy and anything derived from whey. I was eating mainly paleo, egg whites for breakfast, lots of chicken and turkey breast. Lots of vegetablles and some fruit. I ran a few ultras and even completed my first 50 miler. All without many grains, it helped my RA but did not help me maintain my weight loss. I read Racing Weight again and after studying for my personal trainer certification, I began to realize my body might need more healthy carbohydrates and less protein. The more knowledgable I became the more I started to analyze my own data. I joined my fitness pal, and stopped following Weight Watchers. I began changing my mind set from someone trying to lose weight, to an athlete trying to fuel their body. I decided to do a 100 mile ultra marathon and looked into nutrition and training for it.
I made the decision late in the year to become a full fledged vegan. I decided to do a trail run of it for 2 weeks and see if it would work with my already gluten free diet, and training load. I ran an ultra marathon a week ago after being vegan for 3 weeks. I felt amazing.
I have more energy than I ever did on paleo, or plain weight watchers life style. I needed it. I am running more miles in a week than I ever have, my lightest weeks are 30-40 miles, most weeks will be 50-70 so I really do need to make sure I eat enough.
I realized that the Racing Weight book is correct, the ratio of carbohydrates/protein/fat needed to change for me. Before I was 50% protein, and 30% carb and 20% fat. I realized I need more carbs and less protein. Today my target is and has been pretty consistently : 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein and 20-30% fat. My energy on runs is amazing, my daily energy is amazing.
After being on a vegan diet for 2 weeks I felt like a new person. I do not know if it is soley based upon just being plant based, just having more carbohydrates, or a combination of the 2, but I know one thing: I love it!!
So clearly as I enter in year 4 next month of being healthy I will now be adding vegan to my list :) I will start posting recipes and ideas too this week!! I know I have been lacking in that department on here and I am noticing the more I tweet and Facebook pictures of my meals the more I get asked for the recipes so I promise I will share! It is a little challenging sometimes being vegan and gluten free because a lot of meat alternatives for vegans have gluten in it, so I have been eating a lot of lentils, natural almonds, natural peanut butter, flax seeds, tempeh, tofu, and quinoa! Using my fitness pal helps me make sure I am eating enough and keeping that ratio.
Have you evolved your habits over time?
I really just am happy and thankful that it took time for me to make these changes because they have all stuck. I am now at a point where being healthy is not a chore for me, it is my choice and one that I make each day with a smile on my face.