The 10-Day Challenge is over. I can go back to eating any way I want, and do it without shame. I don’t spend much time thinking about my weight, but today I weighed myself, expecting to see what I usually see. I weighed-in at nearly five pounds less than I did when I started the 10-Day Challenge! For some people this might be reason to celebrate and become no-dairy, no-coffee, no-alcohol, no-exceptions pescetarians for life, or at least until John Madden’s diet book hits the shelves. But if you know what I look like, then you understand why the loss of five of my precious pounds would concern me a bit. I’m a full twenty-five pounds lighter (15.6 percent in Biggest Loser lingo) than I was at my peak in college before my exercise focus shifted from getting big to getting healthy.
So the sudden vulnerability to even moderately-strong winds certainly had me worried for a moment, but after reminding myself that I lifted more in the weight room this week than during the previous few, I became excited by the fact that my strength-to-weight ratio is much increased from its pre-challenge level. And this makes a big difference when you’re trying to haul ass 26.2 miles in a little over three hours. Maybe it’s water weight that I lost (after all I did do the whole-body cleanse), but I’ve been drinking lots of water and eating all of those water-rich foods. Could toxins weigh five pounds? Doubt it. I’m left to infer that it must be some combination of fat and water, which you won’t hear me complain about missing.
My New Diet Plan
Now that the 10-Day Challenge is complete, I need to set some ground rules for my eating so that I can relax some of the rules that I don’t find necessary without slipping back over time to my old meat-masticating ways. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- No meat other than fish, and fish only a few times a week
- Eat 70 percent water-rich foods (fruits and vegetables mainly), with a salad before every dinner and many lunches
- Limit dairy, replacing milk and yogurt by their soy versions, but allowing cheese in recipes where ‘nozzarella’ won’t do
- Alcohol in moderation (no more nightly after-dinner beer)
- Coffee in moderation (about once weekly, not daily), replacing it with herbal or green tea
- Put lemon in my water for its alkaline properties
- Take a multivitamin, acidophilus, digestive enzymes, and greens supplement
I think this is a pretty simple set of rules which I can live with. You’ll see this modified set of rules manifested in the recipes I post. I’ve done away with the no-protein-and-carbs-together rule, because I think this just doesn’t allow me to get enough food in each meal to support my training. And I’ll allow myself to drink water during meals, just not to the extent that I used to, mindlessly drinking it after every bite.
I went to Barnes and Noble today and ordered a regular coffee there (caffeine and all), perhaps relinquishing some of the street-cred that my week of ordering grande-triple-decaf-soy-cappuccinos had afforded me. But I hadn’t had caffeine in two full weeks, and decided that it was time to reward myself. I was shocked by the way it made me feel. Really happy, but jittery, scatter-brained, and even a little dizzy while trying to read and shop for groceries. I can’t believe that my body had developed such a tolerance that I didn’t experience these symptoms when I used to drink coffee every day. There are so many studies that show positive and negative long-term effects linked to daily coffee that it’s not at all obvious to me whether it’s good or bad. For example, see the Twitter ‘tweet’ that I sent yesterday (and what a perfect opportunity for me to point out the ‘Follow @NoMeatAthlete on Twitter’ link on the right side of the main page of this blog). So the only conclusion I can draw is that coffee is fine in moderation. But I think I feel better when it is not a part of my daily routine. And from a marathon-runner’s perspective, caffeine is a useful race-day supplement to help shave a few minutes off your time, but the effect disappears when your body is accustomed to caffeine. So I’m happy with hitting the old Starbucks once, maybe twice a week.
So that’s where it stands, and those rules will dictate what recipes you see here each week. As I also tweeted about, I saw a new book called The Flexitarian Diet which made me think of you, dear readers. I’m assuming that most of you are not vegetarians, pescetarians, or marathoners, but rather friends and family who are interested in eating healthily but unwilling as of yet to make any drastic changes. The book is a mostly-vegetarian nutrition plan which allows the addition of meat (and not just fish!) to most of the dishes, even suggesting in the recipes which meat to optionally add and how to prepare it. I strongly encourage you to check it out.
Come back tomorrow for a fun meal: Smoky Black Bean & Cheddar Burritos with Baby Spinach!