Friday, April 20, 2012

A food experiment WAY out of my comfort zone

I joked on Sunday that I had Pagliai's and Diet Coke to thank for my first five-mile run. I mean, I love Pagliai's. Who doesn't? But to anyone over the age of 22, pizza and Diet Coke shouldn't be a food staple in a person's diet. (To my students: live it up while you can. Sustain yourselves on sugars and fats, and ENJOY IT. Your bodies will only be kind to you for so long ... sigh.)

On a related note, I am a cynic to my very core. If there is a popular theory, I will wrinkle up my nose and express with great disdain why I think it's lame or unfounded. Health foods have always fallen flatly in this category.

I have little patience for those conversations when people swear up and down that their bodies have undergone divine transformations since they have elected only to eat organic produce, grass-fed meats and whole grains.

My cynical, impatient mind has always been made up that a calorie is a calorie. I choose to spend 500 on a big bag of gummy worms, and you spend it on a papaya smoothie with a shot of wheat grass (dear god), we both come out the same.

Which brings us to the present, after 20 or so years of living under these beliefs that making food a complicated chore of label-reading and organic-market-hunting -- not to mention the added cost that comes along with eating this way -- would be completely unworthy of my time. Where has it gotten me? How do I feel? Could I feel better? Could I have more energy?

In the midst of my running campaign, I've been wondering these questions, and it doesn't directly have to do with additional weight-loss. What has surprised me most is that I'm thinking about these things because I want to improve as a runner. I want to improve my distance and speed. I want to think of a race like the 10Kato and not state, right off the bat, that I'm going to have to walk up the Glenwood portion. Simply put, I want to fuel my body in the most healthy and efficient way possible to get these results.

So ... I've decided to conduct an experiment. For one month, I will eat only foods that are ACTUAL FOODS, like foods my body knows what to do with. NO processed foods, no foods with ingredients I can't pronounce. Fruits, vegetables, rice, meats, a little cheese. I'm going to try to stay away from breads, and no pastas. White flour is out. So are sugary baked goods.

I just really want to see what it feels like to eat healthy and see what effects it has on my body, my energy and my running.

I've conducted two public campaigns that have been out of my comfort zone so far: I lost weight working with a trainer in front of all of you, and I learned to run in front of all of you. The difference here is that, with both of the previous events, I had an outcome in mind, which tends to be what I need. I need to have a goal, and when I do, I go for it. This time, I honestly don't know what the outcome will be. I might feel worse! I might go through sugar withdrawal or collapse from a lack of energy in the middle of a run. I might also lose patience with the extra effort one has to put into eating this way: making your own salad dressings, cooking instead of picking up fast food, spending more money than I am accustomed to at the grocery store.

Anyhow, I'll keep you posted on my findings. In the meantime, healthy and EASY recipes can be sent to ... : )


  1. Best wishes!! I have wanted to try this but have been intimidated by the expected amount of work.

  2. Good Luck and I can't wait to hear about this. I also always was about a calorie is a calorie no matter what you are eating, but I do realize that there are probably better benefits to gummy bears vs veggies...can't wait to hear about the healthy, easy recipes!