I started triathlon 4 years ago as a way to “mix things up” from my normal running and strength training routine that I used to stay in ‘decent shape’. I have always been an active person, enjoying a variety of sports and outdoor activities, but through my 20’s I really struggled to maintain a healthy body weight.
Last year I did my first Ironman distance race and while the experience of training and racing was incredible, I was surprised that I still struggled to get leaner and lighter even with all that training. It really drove home the point that achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is about 85% nutrition; the rest is genetics and activity level.
When discussing my goals for the 2012 triathlon season with my coach Adam Zucco of TrainingBible Coaching in February, he suggested that I try to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I laughed, “Do you have any idea how fast the girls in my age group are going Adam; sub 5 hours!” He replied “what makes you think you can’t go that fast?” Within that discussion we talked about strengths and limiters and he said he thought one of my limiters was my current body weight. I was just too heavy to ride and run as fast as I could. I knew he was right, and I needed that level of honesty to get real with what I had to do in order to chase the goal of going to Worlds.
Like many women and endurance athletes, I’ve tried every diet known to man, with varying levels of short term success. I had yet to find a way of eating that allowed me to train hard, recover easily, feel satiated all while not feeling deprived. Adam suggested I work with Amy Kubal, his Paleo dietitian. Adam had faced the same issues as I had with managing his weight, and he has had success with Amy’s program. So I gave it a try.
Amy experience with long course triathletes was apparent immediately. She understood the need to quickly recovery between workouts, so that you could feel fueled for the 2nd and sometimes 3rd workout of the day. We didn’t get everything right the first time, but she was quick to respond to email questions and concerns. We were able to find a program and structure that worked for me.
I didn’t notice the scale changing right away, but slowly the pounds started to come off. What was more noticeable was my physical transformation; I was getting visibly leaner, so much so that even I noticed it and I look at myself every day! It has been six month since I changed my diet over and I’ve never felt better. I didn’t think I could give up dairy, legumes (I love lentils) and grains, but after the first few weeks I didn’t even miss them any more. I just felt satiated and healthy, so it was easy to maintain the program. I’m not perfect, I still have ice cream or a glass of wine once in a while and Amy encourages that; I don’t feel shame for “cheating”; I choose to enjoy the treats when I have them.
Just last weekend I raced at the Calgary 70.3 and I did a huge PR, clocking a time of 4:57, good enough for 2nd in my age group and securing a spot to race at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in five weeks’ time. There was a lot of hard work and sacrifice that went into making that 4:57 possible, but I believe one of the biggest differences was that I am leaner and stronger than I have ever been in my adult life. I attribute that to the dietary change and modified Paleo program that Amy designed for me.
Thanks to Paleo, Amy, and Adam for helping me achieve my goals!