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Posts tagged ‘food’

Lessons From My 3 Day Juice Fast

Thanks to all of my gluttonous eating around the holidays, last Thursday I decided it was time to do a 3 day juice fast.  Perhaps it was a spontaneous decision, but I’ve been wanting to do one for a while, and this past weekend was the perfect time to do it.  18 juices later, I was ready to embark on what I knew would be difficult adventure. But allow me to rewind for a moment…

First, I realize that according to many people, not eating solid food for 3 days isn’t exactly a good idea. Second, I did not do this fast in order to lose weight. In fact, I did not get on the scale before or after. I simply wanted to allow my body a break from all the junk I had been ingesting over the past few weeks. (Why so many parties around the holidays???) And finally, I’ve been talking about doing a juice fast ever since I saw Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Mentally, however, I could not let go of the idea that I would not be working out for three days. In addition, I never felt like I could take three days of feeling lethargic. My willingness to sacrifice just wasn’t there. Well, there is nothing like a piece of cheesecake or peanut butter fudge to push those reasons aside and  to start drinking kale like it’s going out of style. 🙂

My juice fast started Friday morning and 72 hours later, I couldn’t find enough food in the house to satiate my hunger. However, the purpose of this post is not to tell you about how I felt over the three days. Instead, I would like to share a few things I learned from this experience. (But if you really want to know what I went through, just scroll down to the bottom for a very short summary.)

Lesson #1: Food is everywhere 

When you can’t eat, it’s impossible to not realize what a large role food plays in your daily life. From preparing food, buying it, meeting friends out for lunch, hanging out at a neighbor’s house, planning your next activity, or any other thing you can think of… you name it and food is there. Food is central to so many of the things we do, and when it is taken it away, what the heck do you do with all this new found free time? Take away meals and suddenly your have time to watch four movies in a day and read a few books.

I also came to realize just how much food is used to make us happy or to get us to do things. On day 2 of my fast, I decided to do a little grocery shopping to get out of the house. Bad idea. Total Wine was giving out samples of champagne (at 9am) and Whole Foods seemed to have more samples than their normal selection of fruit and pita chips. Maybe it’s always like that and I mindlessly eat chips and drink champagne first thing in the morning. In fact, that’s probably exactly right. But when I was forced to be mindful about my actions, it really became clear to me how much food guides my day to day activities. Just a little food for thought. 😉

Lesson #2: Experimentation is a good thing.

There was certainly no shortage of people telling me how crazy I was or what a bad idea it was to drink only juice for three days. In fact, Mario was the only one telling me to stick with it even when I wanted to gnaw my arm off. I did this fast because I wanted to see how my body reacted. My body is not the same as anyone else’s on this planet (hooray!), and if I don’t try, how will I ever learn what works (or doesn’t work) for me? That is a lesson that can be applied to so many aspects of our lives. We rely so much on what people tell us…. run this many days a week to avoid injury, this is the best exercise to prevent runner’s knee, eat 3 times a day, eat 6 times a day, cardio before weights, weights before cardio, and the list goes on and on. In order to decide if any of this information is true or false, isn’t it almost necessary to experiment? Of course there is value in learning from other people’s experiences. How else are we going to know what to experiment with? But my take away from this fast is that in order to know if something works for my body, I have to try it out… on my body.

Lesson #3: A lot of things in life are like a marathon.

When I decided to do the juice fast, I knew it would be hard, but I wanted to do it. Kind of like a marathon. Day one wasn’t so bad. I was excited and ready for the adventure that awaited me. Just like the first 13 miles of a race. Day two was hard. I was stuck in the middle. Too much invested to turn around and not close enough to see the end. It sucked… like miles 13-20 of a marathon. Day three was hard but I knew I was going to make it to the end. The fact that I would be able to say I successfully completed my goal was motivation to keep going, no matter how hard the remaining hours would be. The end was approaching and I knew I would finish… just like miles 20-26.2.

During my time between watching movies and reading a book, I began to think about just how many of our obstacles and adventures in life are exactly like this. Exciting at first, really crappy in the middle when things get tough, but exciting, inspiring, and motivating when the end is in sight. Sometimes the hard part may be 24 hours or 7 miles or perhaps even years, but if we persevere, we will see it through, whatever that “it” may be.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

My juice fast summary: It was a lot harder than I thought, I had a terrible headache for 2 days, I didn’t have any increase in energy levels, and I will not be doing it again any time in the foreseeable future. 🙂

Cortisol

As my running is going better that I could have expected, I find myself starting to push a little harder on my runs. Today I know I went faster than a typical easy Monday run. Therefore, tomorrow’s run will be a goal pace of 8:30-8:45/mile.

One thing that I am doing in order to stay off the injured list (in addition to lots of  yoga poses and strength training) is paying closer attention to my diet. And all of these food documentaries we have been watching just reaffirm the power of fruits and veggies. I am getting a little stricter with my vegetable intake because I know it helps with my recovery and performance. I want to take care of my body and I need to give it the fuel it needs.

One thing I have been reading about is cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in response to stress. Over trained endurance athletes (like myself) can experience elevated levels of cortisol and this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

First Endurance: 

Cortisol, known as the regulator of immune response, is a hormone controlled by the adrenal cortex. This powerful hormone is also known as an adrenalcorticol hormone, a glucocorticoid and hydrocortisone or simply cortisone. Cortisol has a catabolic (muscle breakdown) effect on tissue and is associated with a decrease in anabolic (muscle growth) hormones like IGF-1 and GH. Thus reducing levels of cortisol is ideal for an athlete to achieve tissue growth and positive adaptations to exercise training. Playing many different roles in the body, cortisol can have a negative impact on sleep, mood, sex drive, bone health, ligament health, cardiovascular health and athletic performance, potentially causing fatigue and inflammation.

As I was running home tonight, I was thinking to myself, What can I eat for dinner that will help keep my cortisol levels down? Well luckily there are quite a few options that I just happen to have in my kitchen. Green leafy vegetables, in particular those high in vitamin K, whole grains, and lean protein are all good options to keep your cortisol levels down. My dinner tonight consisted of spinach, kale, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, smoked salmon and quinoa. In addition, my afternoon snack was a kale, apple, celery, cucumber, and lemon veggie juice. So yummy!

I think my cortisol levels are feeling pretty low this evening.

Happy  Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

Running stats from today are here. Seven miles at a comfortable pace, although a little on the quick side. Tomorrow will be slower. And how do you like the pic of our breakfast yesterday morning? Delicious veggie juice 😉

My New Favorite Peanut Butter

I have a problem and unfortunately it comes in the form of peanut butter. 190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and that’s just for one serving. But who can really stop at just one serving of peanut butter? I certainly can’t.

A few weeks ago my dear friend Emily brought us a sample of PB2, a peanut powder. To turn it into actual peanut butter, just add 2 tablespoons of powder and one tablespoon of water and voilà, you have peanut butter. The best part? It’s only 45 calories, 1 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein. Now no, it doesn’t taste exactly like delicious fresh roasted peanut butter, but it’s quite similar. And there is even one with chocolate. Ingredients include peanuts, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Deliciousness.

Delicious peanut butter and chocolate

Delicious peanut butter and chocolate

Bell Plantation:

Peanut butter has always been a staple for the health conscious and physically active. But even peanut butter can be improved. PB2 reduces fat through a chemical-free process. Like all Bell Plantation products, PB2 and Chocolate PB2 are all natural, preservative free, and contain no artificial sweeteners. And that makes them a sweet alternative for active lifestyles, dieters, and moms who want healthy snacks for their kids.

You really can mix this stuff with any liquid you want. You can add it to smoothies, oatmeal, or even to your baking. It’s yummy, 85% less fat calories than regular peanut butter, and convenient. Thanks Emily for the sample! I now have a new problem, but at least it’s less fattening.

It comes in a powdered form

It comes in a powdered form

Happy Trails and happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: I am actually feeling a lot better today. Hip is still sore but I feel like my back has opened up a lot and I’m doing a better job of engaging my lower abs when I walk. I’m crossing my fingers I can start some active recovery runs next week.

The History of Diets

Oh diets… always changing, always evolving, and always something new to try. CNN recently published this article about diets throughout history. There are two things I took away from this article. First, diets have been around for a long time. And second, there have always been crazy diet trends.

In my opinion, some of the more interesting trends mentioned in the article, dating all the way back to 1820s, are the vinegar and water diet, the tapeworm diet (which involved swallowing a parasite packed pill), the Sleeping Beauty Diet, the cookie diet, and Beyoncé’s Master Cleanse Diet – hot water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. You can read the complete article here.

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say some of the crazier diets, such as the tapeworm diet, were not sustainable. Something tells me the side effects of swallowing a parasite would be much worse than a few extra pounds. And the Sleeping Beauty Diet? Well I guess that explains why Aurora was so thin. Either way, no matter how many extra pounds I may put on in life, I’m not swallowing a parasite,  being sedated for days at a time, or drinking water and vinegar. I think I’ll just go outside and run. It just seems a little more practical.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Last night I may have slept 2 hours. I pretty much expect to see a six pack tomorrow due to the fact my abs are so sore from all the coughing. I didn’t go to work and slept another 4 hours this morning. On the plus side, after my kombucha and a visit to Dr. Molly (my chiropractor), I feel so much better! I’m even expecting to get a run in tomorrow (fingers crossed). Dr. Molly put me through some intense Active Repelase Therapy which was no fun for my sore abs. And I got my bib number today, #5384, so that got me excited for Saturday, no matter what happens.

Krispy Kreme Challenge

This morning I had the pleasure of watching 8,000 runners run to the local Krispy Kreme, eat 12 donuts, and run back… all from my living room window. Today marked the 9th annual Krispy Kreme Challenge and I much prefer to be a spectator for this event. I have never once desired to participate in the challenge. However, a few of my crazy friends are brave enough to stomach the challenge. I guess some people really like donuts.

Raleigh, NC is home to the original Krispy Kreme Challenge. The challenge involves running 2.5 miles from NC State’s campus to Krispy Kreme, eating 12 donuts, and then running 2.5 miles back. In other words, 5 miles, 2,400 calories and all under 1 hour. Crazy!

The challenge started back in 2004 as a dare between a few college students. Only a dozen people showed up to the first race but it has since grown into an event with 8,000 participants. The proceeds from the race go to benefit the North Carolina’s Children Hospital and as of this year, close to $500,000 has been donated. The winner this year, Tim Ryan, completed the race in 31:31. That’s an average pace of 6:18.mile, not including eating the 12 donuts. The female winner completed the challenge in 37:42, which averages out to 7:32/mile (again, not including eating the donuts). I just don’t know how they do it.

Back in 2009, a reporter from ESPN did a story on the race, while actually completing the challenge himself. Check out just how crazy the people in Raleigh, NC can be:

 

Congrats to all the runners this morning! You have a stronger stomach than I do!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: This morning I woke up with a slight fever and have since developed a pretty bad cough. You know how life goes up and down and up and down? I’m definitely at one of the low points. Therefore, I watched Hakuna Matata from the Lion King to cheer me up tonight. 🙂

 

Ryan Hall’s Diet

Ryan Hall recently released a PDF document of his recommended diet. Because I’m always looking for that edge, I was ready to make my grocery list and head to Trader Joe’s. Well it turns out I already eat 95% of what he recommends. (YAY!) Kale, beets, kefir, avocado, sweet potatoes, eggplants, bananas, eggs, cottage cheese. They are all in my refrigerator, with the exception of beets. (I prefer beet juice instead.) And the best part? Also, his recommended dinner includes sweet potato fries, my absolute favorite! And his bedtime snack is oatmeal with almond milk. Well if I’m not eating peanut butter before bed, I’m eating a bowl of muesli (which includes oats) with almond milk. Perhaps it isn’t the best idea to eat that much before bed but whenever I’m running a lot, I’m pretty much hungry every 2 hours.

The main thing that I do not include in my diet, that Ryan Hall does, is Muscle Milk. There is something about the fact that it is called milk, but doesn’t include actual milk that bothers me. Plus the Muscle Milk light includes fake sugar. That’s not my thing.

Check out his diet… a lof of good information:

 

 

Ryan Hall's Diet

Check out Ryan’s Diet here

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Over the past 24 hours, my hips have popped, cracked, and stretched every possible way. Literally, my bones are sore. However, my  body feels much more in alignment and my hips feel better. We pushed my track workout to Thursday to give my body a little more recovery time. I ran an easy 6 miles today and made sure to go slower than yesterday. Other than my sore bones, everything went well. I’m amazed at how easy the miles feel. 8:00 pace and I felt like it was more of a jog. Now if it can just stay that way for 1 1/2 more weeks. Stats are here.

Whole Foods Eating

I’m one of those people who really believes in everything I do and I’ll probably do my best to convince you to do the same. Throughout the years, I’ve gone through some interesting phases. During my time as a vegetarian, I showed my sister one too many PETA videos and convinced her to go veg with me. However, after a month she gave in to a Wendy’s bacon cheeseburger. I eventually forgave her. 😉

I believe in whole foods eating. Any opportunity I see to promote the idea, I do it. (I’m a little more tactful now with my approaches.) However, I’m often met with the response everything will give me cancer or Doritos just taste so good or healthy food tastes so bad. Those comments literally make me want to hit my head against the wall. Granted, as a young teenager I ate crappy food all the time. McDonalds, Wendy’s , Bojangles, you name it. But that was because I didn’t know any better. I thought that was the norm. 

How can I get people on the whole foods eating bandwagon with me? Well I found this beautifully written article by Rachel and how clean eating not only saved her from cancer, but changed the lives of everyone in her family.

Rachel:

All my life I poked fun and laughed at “crunchy” people. I thought natural food stores were weird and smelled funny. 🙂 I would see the headlines everyday, about the “latest this or that, that may cause cancer” and think well, is there anything that doesn’t? Do I just quit enjoying life because I “may” get cancer?

Well, after having had it and been treated for it, I felt it was time to open my mind a bit and see if there was anything to this natural living thing. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly where or how it began. I believe I was just finishing up radiation therapy when I decided to drive over to the local Whole Foods Market and explore…

You can read the entire article here. To sum it up, Rachel  has a much healthier life, is cancer free ,and her mom is now able to travel, move, and actually enjoy life. Kudos to Rachel and her family.

What are your thoughts on whole foods eating?

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Oh running how I’ve missed thee. After lots of stretching and praying to the Running Gods, I was able to get a speedy 6 miles. I did have to make an effort to focus on my pelvis and hip alignment  but aerobically, I felt amazing. I ran 6 miles in 43:53. Stats are here.

Duck Eggs

Mario’s boss owns a farm, a big farm. He use to sell chicken eggs but has since switched to selling duck eggs. This morning Mario woke up at the lovely hour of 4:45am with me so he made breakfast before I left for work. What did we have for breakfast? Duck eggs!

I had never eaten duck eggs until this morning and I wasn’t sure I was going to like them. They were much bigger than chicken eggs and for me, the taste was a little off. However, it was a yummy breakfast and I was curious to learn more about duck eggs…

First, don’t eat more than one duck egg at a time. It has more than the amount of cholesterol you should consume in a day. I had two. Opps! Second, because they are bigger, duck eggs have more nutritional value (and more calories) than chicken eggs. One duck egg has about 130 calories and over half of the amount of Vitamin B12 you need in a day. Perhaps my two favorite facts about ducks eggs are they are extremely high in omega 3 (American diets are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids and too high in omega 6 fatty acids) and they are a highly alkaline food (chicken eggs are acidic). Some suggest alkaline diets might slow bone loss and muscle waste, increase growth hormone, and make certain chronic diseases less likely. And omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to lower triglycerides and decrease inflammation in the body.

I am going to try duck eggs again tomorrow, but this time only one. The idea of eating duck eggs still seems weird to me but apparently people in Asia eat them every day as well as people in Europe. Oh how I love learning new things.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: I have a confession to make…. I am completely, wholeheartedly, without a doubt addicted to running. Even the thought of not being able to run, makes me depressed. All day today I was thinking my leg was going to keep me from running and I felt miserable. It was a beautiful 75 degrees here in NC and that made it even worse. My leg was still feeling off so after a few jogs up and down the hallway I emailed my coach. To do our track workout or not to do our track workout? We decided to push it back a day and I could do an easy run if I wanted to. I asked about cross training and he said nope, just try an easy run. After some serious work on my IT band and piriformis, I headed outside. I am so thankful I decided to not cross train and do an easy run instead. It was fabulous! Even though my leg still feels sore, it was an easy 6.4 miles. I focused mainly on relaxing my feet, not tensing my shoulders, and engaging the left side of my body. I even switched arms of my Garmin and #TeemHogan bracelet (in memory of my student who passed away in December). It’s crazy what a difference that made! The pace felt super easy and it was a confidence booster for my track workout tomorrow. Stats are here.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

For all of you who drink Gatorade, y ou might be interested to know that PepsiCo is removing the controversial ingredient brominted vegetable oil from some of their Gatorade drinks. Why you may ask? Well because the ingredient is patented as a flame retardant. Yummy. The ingredient is said to be linked to neurological disorders and is actually banned in the EU and Japan.

Stephanie Storm, The New York Times:

Brominated vegetable oil is banned as a food ingredient in Japan and the European Union. About 10 percent of drinks sold in the United States contain it, including Mountain Dew, which is also made by PepsiCo; some flavors of Powerade and Fresca from Coca-Cola; and Squirt and Sunkist Peach Soda, made by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. PepsiCo said it had no plans to remove the ingredient from Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew, both of which generate more than $1 billion in annual sales.

I spent some time looking through the ingredients labels of the many different flavors of Gatorade. I only saw B.V.O. in the Orange flavor. I haven’t bought Gatorade in a long time but kudos to them for taking out the ingredient. However, my next question is when are they going to remove red 40 and yellow 5? I think beet juice and turmeric would be a good replacement. 🙂

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Since I ran 21 miles yesterday and I woke up feeling pretty run down this morning, I only did weights and a little cardio at the gym this afternoon. Originally, I wasn’t going to do any cardio but then I saw there is now a stair climber beside the treadmills. I absolutely love the stair climber for some reason. Not one of those little crappy ones but the big ones with the rotating steps. I couldn’t resist and had to jump on. Then when somebody got on the one beside me, I had to up the level x10. I couldn’t help it 😉  It really is one of my favorite cardio machines.

 

Tomato Juice

Yesterday I met my sister, her husband and a few friends for lunch. Somehow I started talking about my wheatgrass shots and veggie juices. They got a good laugh at my juiced grass and my brother-in-law even suggested I start juicing clover. After all, it’s what all the animals eat (they live on a farm). I asked my sis why is eating healthy considered weird. Her response: it’s not eating healthy that’s odd. It’s eating healthy foods that nobody has ever heard of that’s interesting. Well I like to consider myself cutting edge I responded. 😉

When I was out for my run this morning, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts. I learned something new… tomato juice has been shown to reduce creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which are markers of exercise-induced muscle damage, more than sports drinks. The levels of CPK and LDH in the tomato juice drinkers returned back to a normal level while there was no change with the group that consumed a sports drink.  Maybe this visual will help:

 

The way I interpret this study – tomato juice is a good recovery drink post exercise.

If there is one juice that I have ever disliked with a passion, it is tomato juice. To me, it tastes like cold tomato soup. Gross. I can assure you I will not be switching my Endurox for a can of tomato juice. However, I think in the name of experimentation, I will try it at least once. You never know unless you try!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: I went out to the Tobacco Trail for my 20 miles this morning. It was covered in ice. I tried to run but after one mile I said forget this and headed back to Raleigh. I did my 20 miles around town and it was actually very nice. The hilly course has become so much easier. I have noticed that my need for nutrition has really decreased. I had a few sips of a Vega Electrolyte drink at mile 13 (which has zero calories) and 1 2nd Surge at mile 14. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I needed any more than that. Including my mile out at the trail, I ran 21 miles this morning. Here are my stats:

Long Run