Whole30 and Running

Whole foods…they’re what’s for dinner!

As I mentioned in my last post, I have committed to a modified version of the Whole30 ‘diet’ for the next month. Why? And what do I mean by modified?

I’ll start with the why. Actually, I have a number of whys. The spare tire around my middle is certainly one reason. I try not to obsess about the scale but I am in the habit of weighing myself every few days just to see where I am at. For the past year, my normal baseline has been creeping up. Two pounds here and I convince myself not to worry, I just had a few heavy dinners. Then a few weeks later and that number suddenly becomes the new norm and when it’s two or three pounds up again from that I repeat the justifications and so it goes.

My new ‘baseline,’ is now a good 10 pounds heavier than I want to be. And again, I’m not focused on the numbers here. My clothes are too tight and making me cranky. So I either need to shed a few pounds or buy new clothes and I hate shopping for clothes.

But why Whole30? I absolutely hate fad diets. I’m not a fan of Paleo or low-carb or anything else. I like to eat a wide variety of foods and I think that’s a good thing. But as of late, that wide variety has been ridiculously carb-heavy in the form of pizza, lasagna, and meatball subs and much, much lighter on the veggies than I know it should be.

The whole foods part of Whole30 really appealed to me. As did their ‘rule,’ against trying to make off-limits foods fit the program, like by using almond flour, clarified butter, and magic to whip up some kind of “whole 30-compatible” pancake. I don’t want to deny myself pancakes forever, but I want to get away from eating pancakes and scones and other carb-fluff for breakfast everyday.

Most importantly, I need to start thinking about what food goes into my mouth at meals and snack time. In general, I think my diet is fairly healthy. My husband and I both like to cook and we do it regularly. So do my daughters, but unfortunately their specialties seem to be cupcakes and cookies at the moment.

When everything is humming along smoothly, I can whip up healthy and nutritious meals three times a day and stay on track. But when I get tired or stressed or nervous or angry, my diet goes straight to the toilet. My weaknesses are soda (Coke Zero) and cheese. Cheese – glorious cheese in any shape, flavor or form. I need to break the habit of reaching for a slice of cheese any time I get the munchies because let’s face it, that one slice usually turns into half a block. And while I love to drink soda and have been doing it my whole life, I can’t deny the fact that the stuff is crap and really has no place inside my body.

So why am I doing a modified Whole30? The idea behind Whole30 is that it is essentially an elimination diet meant to help strip away all of the foods that could potentially be causing such health issues as acne or depression or fatigue or inflammation. I get that and think it’s a great idea. But I really don’t have any health issues at the moment (whew!)

As much as I love dairy, I have always been curious about how my body would do without it in my diet. I suspect that my addiction to cheese may be making me more sluggish than I would care to admit. So I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel after ditching dairy for 30 days.

But as a runner, particularly a runner training for a marathon, I’m not sure how I feel about giving up so many carb sources during training. Why can’t I have rice? I understand the purpose in terms of using Whole30 as an elimination diet, but that’s not what I’m after. I don’t have any digestive issues that I’m trying to correct and rice seems to me to fit into the whole food category.

Same goes for beans. I don’t generally eat a ton of meat so the reliance on beef, pork, chicken, and fish for the bulk of my protein is quite a change for me.

I could not find a lot of information about running and Whole 30 other than one blogger who suggested completing the 30 day program in between training cycles. I’m almost always training for something so that wouldn’t really work for me so I’m just going to have to see how it goes.

I’ll be the guinea pig and report back on my findings!

So here’s my plan. I’m going to go for one week sticking strictly to the Whole30 program. No sugar, soda, processed foods, soy, grains, beans, or dairy. And I’ll see how I feel after one week. If I feel great and my long runs don’t suffer, then I’m all for sticking with it for the remaining 30 days. But if I feel like I’m too pooped to run, I am going to add white and brown rice back into my diet. Later in the month, I may bring beans back to the table too if I get tired of meat.

If you are a Whole30 devotee and/or if you have followed Whole30 while running and training, I would love to hear from you. Any ideas for pre-long run dinners or breakfasts that don’t include pasta, rice, oatmeal, or bread? I’m all ears.