The Beginning of the AIP Journey

The first full week of living the Autoimmune Paleo Diet is complete.  I feel fantastic, but this is harder than I thought…..

First thing was first.  Shopping! IMG_9229.JPG  Minus a few kid specific items, the entire cart was full of chicken, fish, fruits and veggies.  After carrying the whole car load in solo, I proceeded to clean the entire refrigerator.  That was fun. <–sarcasm.

So after prepping the kitchen for this adventure, the fun began.  The first few days were great.  I enjoyed cooking again, more so than I have in the recent months.  This journey has given me an opportunity to take fresh ingredients and be creative.  But you can only be so creative with the limited ingredients I had at my disposal.  By the end of the week, my meals ended up being the same foods, just in a different shape. Note to self: More ingredients, less bulk.

Here are a few meals from this week:

IMG_9323Asparagus and Bacon Soup

IMG_9267.JPG Carrot and Parsnip “Fries”

IMG_9278.JPGChicken and Sweet Potato Soup

IMG_9265.JPGTilapia with sautéed greens and mashed sweet potatoes.

IMG_9281.JPG coconut crumble with sautéed greens and bacon

Those were just a few of my favorites.  I did learn that after two meals of Tilapia, that I have developed an intolerance for that specific fish.  Two gnarly stomach aches followed each meal. Adios Tilapia!

The hardest part: no coffee.

I have never gone more than a couple days without coffee.  I never realized how hard it would be to cut out a morning cup of joe. I feel like an addict in rehab, actually shedding a few tears one morning.  Pathetic now that I think back to that moment of weakness.  You never realize how much your truly rely on something until it is gone. Needless to say, my green tea replacement is becoming something I look forward to each morning, late morning, early afternoon, and evening.

As far as my mood, I was pretty grumpy towards the end of last week. My wife felt the need to comment on petulant state on multiple occasions. After the weekend, my irritability seems to have subsided and for the most part, reversed.  I feel fantastic right now, have more energy and spunk than I have in weeks.  The brain fog that took up residence in my mind has vacated, if only for a little while.  And I have even, unintentionally, dropped a couple pounds.

Bring on Week 2!

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Breaking Free from Pain and Prescriptions

About 8 months ago I began to have some significant GI distress.  The pain presented in the mid/upper section of my abdomen and initially, occurred a couple times a week at night after eating certain foods.  I visited a doctor and was prescribed antacid, which I took.  The pain only intensified and became more frequent.  Within a month it was occurring 2-3 times a day, every day, and so painful that I was throwing up after hours of being hunched over in the bathroom. One afternoon, I couldn’t take it any more.  I had my wife drive me to the ER….where they recommended I see a GI doctor (which I had already scheduled two weeks prior).  I left the ER with more medication – one to coat my stomach before I ate and another to relieve pain.  I took both as prescribed.  All along I had been keeping a food journal which produced no significant trends in food sensitivities or times of day that pain occurred.   For a couple weeks, the symptoms seemed to subside, mainly because of the medications.

It was about mid August when I hopped in my car to head to North Carolina to meet up with the rest of my family, who had taken a week long vacation.  About two hours into the drive I stopped off in at a pit stop to give my dog Kona a water/potty break.  I bent over to pick up her water bowl and immediately after standing up right, I had a blurry spot in one eye and the left side of me body was heavy and difficult to control.  I shuffled back to my car and began to text my wife that something strange was happening.  Within minutes the fingers on my left hand were numb and the numbness began to travel up my arm to my head, down to my abdomen, to my legs and toes.  The numbness never stayed in one stop, it continuously moved, crawling all over the left side of my body.  Then I began to have trouble texting and speaking.  I could read just fine, but trying to convey what I wanted to say was impossible.  I tried texting my family and friends, some texts being successful, others not so much. And amongst all the terror, I developed a very intense headache.

It took me 45 minutes to call 911.  And even then, I couldn’t tell them where I was.

It was by far the scariest moment of my life.  My mom, brother, and friend Victoria drove long distances to sit with me in the ER, get my car from the rest stop, and rescue poor Kona from animal control.  All the while, my wife was stuck in NC without a car of her own and very poor cell reception.  And in the end…it was a migraine….a migraine!

But why?  I had never had a migraine before. Ever!  Turns out,migraines are one of the side effects of the medications I was taking.  I was beyond frustrated.  Pain brought on more pain which brought on more meds.  Pain meds for the stomach, pain meds for migraines, anti nausea meds because pain meds caused me severe nausea.  I was over it.  I had become some pill popping manic and I hated every second of it.  I was paralyzed by pain and prescriptions.

Eventually, I was able to stop taking the medications.  All my GI symptoms disappeared before my appointment with the GI doctor.  She said to come back if the symptoms reappear.  And guess what?

They’re back…

About a month and a half ago, the same pain began to present in the same way.  As you may guess from my previous experience, I did not immediately scramble to make a doctors appointment.  I did, however, scramble for my computer.  I began to search my symptoms and natural cures.  The one thing that continued to pop up: The Autoimmune Paleo Diet.  Now, I have been trained to have a fair amount of skepticism in what I read, but the more I delved into this diet….rather lifestyle, the more I wanted to give it a shot.

In a nutshell:

“The autoimmune protocol was derived from the recent research indicating that autoimmune disease stems from a problem with intestinal permeability (or “leaky gut”), instead of the commonly assumed infection that resulted in autoimmunity. Simply put, when a person has leaky gut, irritation in the gut lining causes the tight junctions in the intestinal barrier to let unwanted molecules (food, toxins, bacteria) into the bloodstream. All the foods avoided on the autoimmune protocol are those that have been shown to irritate the gut or cause increased permeability in the gut. If you want to dig in to the science behind the autoimmune protocol, check out Sarah Ballantyne’s book – The Paleo Approach.” Mickey Trescott from http://autoimmune-paleo.com

Now, I don’t know if I have an autoimmune disorder…I don’t know what I have. But I do know my stomach and GI System as a whole is not healthy; evident by multiple a week stomach aches.  And I don’t know if this will cure my symptoms, but I do know that doctors prescribed me medications without running any test or having a definitive diagnosis.  And putting healthier foods into my body sounds like a much better idea than shoveling some pills down my throat.

So, pretty much, I have to cut out a ton of foods including

-eggs
-nuts
-seeds (including cocoa, coffee, and seed-based spices)
-nighshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the spices derived from them)
-alcohol
-NSAIDs
-excess fructose (more than 20g/day)
-potential gluten cross-reactive foods
-non nutritive sweeteners (including stevia)
-emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives

Wait…NO COFFEE….NO CHOCOLATE!  Wouldn’t it be easier to just take a pill…..you would think but after this summer…I’ll try this first.

Sarah Ballantyne from thepaleomom.com outlines these food to eat:

  • organ meat and offal (aim for 5 times per week, the more the better)–read more here.
  • fish and shellfish (wild is best, but farmed is fine) (aim for at least 3 times per week, the more the better)–read more here and here.
  • vegetables of all kinds, as much variety as possible and the whole rainbow, aim for 8-14 cups per day
    • Green vegetables
    • Colorful vegetables and fruit (red, purple, blue, yellow, orange, white)
    • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, arugula, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, watercress, mustard greens, etc.)
    • Sea vegetables (excluding algae like chlorella and spirulina which are immune stimulators)
  • quality meats (grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild as much as possible) (poultry in moderation due to high omega-6 content unless you are eating a ton of fish)
  • quality fats (pasture-raised/grass-fed animal fats [rendered or as part of your meat], fatty fish, olive, avocado, coconut, palm [not palm kernel])
  • fruit (keeping fructose intake between 10g and 20 g daily)
  • probiotic foods (fermented vegetables or fruit, kombucha, water kefir, coconut milk kefir, coconut milk yogurt, supplements)–read about them here and here.
  • glycine-rich foods (anything with connective tissue, joints or skin, organ meat, and bone broth)

Anyway, this diet is only supposed to last for 30-60 days…maybe 90.  Then you begin to reintroduce foods as you are able to tolerate.  Sometimes it takes months and years to reintroduce all the foods, some foods I may never be able to eat again.   I’m still preparing the begin the diet, as this is not something you can start on a whim.  It is either all or nothing.  If the diet is not followed 100%, then the potential benefits cannot be reached.

I know there will be critics of my choice, but it is my intention to demonstrate how healing can come from controlling what we put in our bodies, not simply adding pill after pill to cover up symptom after symptom.    For those of you with similar stories, I wanted to chronicle this journey of healing and restoration.

A Photo Training Update

I can’t believe it has been more than three weeks since my last update.  Illness and the holidays can really take a toll on your body and well being.  So instead of writing a lot of hullabaloo, here is the past few weeks in pictures 🙂

IMG_8752Spent nearly a week on the road for work.  This little hotel gym really made me miss home.

IMG_8806For Thanksgiving, we traveled to Holden Beach, NC.  Came down with a vicious chest cold and lost my voice, but it seemed less bothersome when I could look out a window and see this.

IMG_8845A little trot on Turkey day with the family.IMG_8853Followed by an overindulgence of whipped cream.

IMG_8864Tried to go for a swim in the cold ocean still with a hint of a chest cold = FAIL

IMG_8873Road my bike instead and stopped at the grocery store for some laundry soap.  The brought on some odd looks as my shoes click clacked through the store.IMG_8863 Post ride meal –> awful stomach ache –> I will not eat avocado again. 😦

IMG_8889Got plenty of rest

IMG_8799And enjoyed some much needed time with the little man.IMG_8917Had a running analysis completed and discovered there are tons of problems with my form stemming from underlying weaknesses. I now run with a metronome. IMG_8937Enjoyed a 90 minute ride and am finally feeling back to 100%.  Woot Woot!

Achieving a Goal

When I was 25 years old and was bitten by the tri bug, I set a goal to complete a Half Ironman before I turned 30 years old.  Three months ago I turned 29.  Therefore, it is crunch time!

My uncle lives in St. Croix and my wife has been dying to visit.  I’ve also been dying to conquer The Beast.  It all fell into place! So in May, my wife and I will be traveling to St. Croix to visit family, celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary, and she will watch me defeat The Beast (while she drinks on the beach) and support me in accomplishing the goal she witnessed me make 5 years ago.

w97315 So every climb in training  from here until May, becomes The Beast in my mind. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Team effort or fail!

Triathlon is generally an individual sport…however…for me and a lot of full time parents and employees, it is very much a team effort to make everything work. Without the support of my amazing wife, I would be worthless. Whether she is watching the kids, lugging kids and snacks while navigating confusing race courses, suffering through another conversation about training, or plugging her nose from the stench of sweat, she is a saint and pushes me to reach the goals I have set for myself.

I saw this picture today and it immediately reminded me of the daily comments about how much dirty clothes I produce on a weekly basis.

IMG_8756.PNG
Yes my wife is amazing and supportive…that doesn’t mean she loves all the unfortunate side effects of being married to a triathlete.

I also can’t wait to see the look on her face when attempt to pack our little hybrid car for thanksgiving vacation with three kids, luggage, stroller, and all my gear. I may be riding on the roof of the car for the 9 hour drive…

Regardless, marriage is a team effort,
and for me, triathlon is a team effort. I would never make it to the finish line without my wife. She is my biggest fan and I could never express my gratitude enough.

Week 2 Summary

Week 2 started off strong.
It panned out like this:

Monday: 1 hour Bike session (spin class) focusing on strength

Tuesday:  1 hour strength swim session (see earlier post for actual workout)- This was awesome and I could have kept going, but work beckoned!

Wednesday: Strength Training and Bike session (Spin class) focusing on endurance

Thursday: 40 minute run focusing on endurance.  It was cold and dark…I loved every second.  I started the run listening to music and it quickly became irritating.  I ripped the headphones out and enjoyed the simplicity of my feet hitting the ground and my breathe in the cold night air.

IMG_8727

Friday: Sinus Pressure and Congestion….Nooooooooooo

Saturday: More Sinus Pressure and Congestion….so I head to the gym and tried to work it out with a 1 hour bike/run brick workout.  For the bike I used a Sufferfest video (which held true to it’s name) followed by a quick 15 minute treadmill run. The plan was to run 30 minutes, but I quickly lost energy and still wasn’t feeling well.  So in an effort to listen to my body, I opted for some strength work.

Sunday: Down for the count….working through the cold did not help.  Its time to rest!

Today’s swim

I didn’t feel into it after a restless night with a stomach ache…but I just busted this out and felt GREAT!

WU: 100 swim 100 kick with fins 100 pull 100kick with fins 100 swim

DS: 4×25 side kick 4×25 finger tip drill

MS: 2x (200 pull with paddles, 200 kick with fins, 2×100 swim building to hard) 30s RI 1×50 sprint

CD: 100 easy kick

Week 1 Summary

We are off. The first full week of official training is complete. The plan was to begin the preparation period with 7 total hours of training for week 1, including strength work. Let’s just say that adjusting to training with a 4 month old requiring nightly feedings…is just as difficult as I imagined. I managed a measly 5 hours, but it felt great! 2 spin classes, two short runs, one swim clinic, and one strength training session. There was plenty of rest, which was needed; however, I need to capitalize on the times when I feel well rested. I think I’m quickly learning that I can make a detailed schedule, but the 4 month old will not follow said schedule. Flexibility will be my friend I feel.

“It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” (Kudos if you can name that movie)

Honey Stinger Sponsorship…Hopefully

Slider-Gels

I just sent in my application to be sponsored by Honey Stinger for 2015.  This is by far my favorite company and product to use when racing.  The natural ingredients burn clean and leave me feeling great during a rough ride or run. If you haven’t tried their products….give it a try.  The waffles are incredible!

 

Hopefully they are willing to sponsor a relatively new age grouper!