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358: Shaking Hands with Willy Bonka

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Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

The week before I signed up for the Ironman, I began the Whole30. Essentially, the Whole30 is a month long cleanse where only natural foods are permitted. No sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, or processed foods. Meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are pretty much all I can eat during this period. A group of about 40 athletes in my gym are doing it together as part of a challenge.

It sounded like a neat idea that had a healthy dose of strictness and intensity: perfect for an Ironman in training! Note how I use the term “sounded”, because the first week was HELL. I almost posted a curmudgeonly message on our groups’ Facebook page in the middle of my fourth night of insomnia. Those first seven days literally had me in withdrawal. One bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch surely would have scratched a persistent mental and physical itch that came as a result of changing my diet upside down. Unfortunately, just one slip up (even a bite of pizza) would nullify the effects of the cleanse. According to the Whole30’s guidelines, my body would need 30 untainted days to even begin to reset. Grrrr….

After about 10 days the new diet became slightly more tolerable. Today was day 12, and I thought my body had adjusted to working out under this new nutritional program. Summer is waning and I wanted to take advantage of one of the last beautiful days for riding. For me, that was going out and riding about 75 miles. I must’ve been feeling particularly peppy this morning, because I left for my ride with only two Lara bars and half a bag of banana chips. The products that I typically consume during these rides are big no-no’s for this diet, which requires foods to be as natural, unprocessed and chemical free as possible. GU trees and nuun plants don’t exactly exist in nature.

Around mile 35 I began to experience what I thought was boredom, as I started wondering what my fantasy football team was doing (damn you Chris Johnson!). I quickly realized that I was in the early throws of bonking with only one Lara bar left to tide me over. By mile 50, I was total shit-toast. I thought about stopping at a gas station, but two major hurdles were present:a)finding Whole30 approved foods in a gas station is like finding a holy water inside of a strip joint and b)I was still flat broke from paying Ironman entry fees. Using my debit card would put my in overdraft city. Shit.

I rolled home on less than fumes. Normally, I’d immediately take in a quick burst of sugar from a granola bar while I’d wait for a large pizza to be delivered. Instead, I “treated” myself to some mixed nuts and fruit. My crash was so hard that I really didn’t care, but it certainly was a new experience not having that reward pizza after a long workout. A few weeks ago one of my coaches asked “why do you need to eat as a reward?”, and I still am wrapping my head around that question. Hopefully I can find the answer when I find a way to revamp my overall nutrition plan. Ugh. 18 more days.

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