Rest + Elimination Diet
A week ago, I finished my race season. Since being officially on ‘off-season’ time, I rode 298 miles, ran 8, roller skied and did some weight lifting. Not really taking it easy. After a hard group ride Thursday night, I took the day off Friday to rest and prepare for a weekend of fun, long rides. Saturday’s hilly 75 mile ride showed signs of my body slowing down. I couldn’t seem to hit the intensity up climbs. My legs were sore, my lungs felt flat, my heart rate wouldn’t go up. Even with earning a couple steep climb QOMs, my heart rate never climbed above 165. My perceived effort was so much higher than my HR would go. It was a really strange feeling. On top of this, I was feeling much hungrier than normal. All week it seemed like I was pounding the calories; not necessarily eating horribly, but I was no longer sticking to a ‘race season’ fueling plan. I was gaining weight quickly, 3 pounds in a week, leaving my body tired and puffy. Sunday I rode again. This time, I planned for a nice long ride, moderate but no bursts of intensity. 90 flat miles and while I didn’t feel like I was ‘slugging’ through it, it still felt harder than it should have. I ate more than I normally would; two sandwiches, ice cream and a cappuccino. My body was telling me to back off. I need to listen. I had a long, tough season, but now it’s all over and I need to really take a break. If I don’t, my body will struggle. I’ll be at risk for illness and injury. So what to do? Take a week off? Sit on the couch and catch up on TV? Well let’s not be so drastic…
- 1 full week
- No cardio over 90 minutes
- No intensity
- Focus on Weights, Easy jogs, Stretching
Since I’m physically resting my body, I’m also going take this time to reset my diet. After a long season of eating on the go, fueling my body for constant training and stage races and then a week of eating whatever…. I need to reset. My digestion is off. My body is sluggish and puffy. The best way to reset is to cleanse. I don’t mean a juice cleanse, that would be too restrictive and potentially dangerous for an athlete, but more of an elimination diet. By setting some guidelines and reducing what I consume, I can try to rebuild my off season diet in a way that supports my personal optimal health.
My Elimination Cleanse:
- No Gluten
- I put this here, but I already eat gluten free and have for ~7 years?
- For anyone currently eating gluten, it can be a GI irritant and even cause mental fogginess if you’re sensitive to it.
- No Caffeine
- Months of pre-race sugar free red bulls (my ritual)
- Daily morning lattes, mid ride cappuccinos, diet cokes while completing long drives…
- My body needs a break from pounding caffeine.
- I am hoping this will help me sleep better, lead to less GI irritation, and help reset a sensitivity to the substance.
- No Alcohol
- I was ‘dry’ most of the season to help keep my training focused and keep the pounds off.
- The last month, I dropped that to have a little more fun and climb out of the end of season hole I got myself in. It worked, I felt more relaxed by allowing the occasional drink… but the past week of ‘off season’ has been a nightly wine indulgence.
- Alcohol can irritate the GI lining, disrupt digestion, interrupt sleep patterns, and of course, add useless calories.
- No Dairy
- I truly believe that my body does very well with milk, however… I struggle with ice cream and cheese.
- Dairy can be very heavy on the GI system, it can also cause skin irritation if one is sensitive to it and I get occasional skin/scalp flare ups.
- Time to kick it and see what happens…
- No Grains/Legumes
- I completely believe grains are a healthful component of the diet, I am in no way a grain hater. However, for the purpose of this short-term elimination, I am going to cut them out.
- Phytates can inhibit nutrient absorption + whole grain fiber can be difficult on the GI system.
- With a drastic reduction in activity, my body won't struggle with the decrease in carbohydrates from no grains.
- This is not a LOW CARB cleanse as I can still have loads of squash, sweet potatoes, and other non-grain carb sources.
- No Nightshades
- This is a tricky one… Nightshades are a class of healthy fruits and vegetables that we commonly consume. There are many health benefits associated with these foods.
- So why kick them out? There are accounts citing nightshade consumption to joint and neurological issues.
- I do not consume these often, honestly not a big fan of bell peppers and eggplant is delicious but not something I make all the time.
- So it seems like a good time to eliminate this group and see how I feel.
- Small Ingredient Meals
- While traveling to races, I felt better digestion wise. I really think this was due to my limited ‘pantry’. At home I tend to pile on the ingredients (you know if you look at my IG food photos!). My mixed salad bowls contain seeds, grains, nuts, potatoes, proteins, sauces, herbs, etc etc… It’s a big mass of everything I can think to toss together.
- Too many ingredients can overwhelm the system and make it difficult to determine which food is triggering a poor reaction in the body.
- By consuming meals made up of limited ingredients, I hope to determine what my body feels good with and generally reduce the stress put on my GI system.
I’ll do this for a full week. My professional opinion is that no ‘cleanse’ should be long term, but used as a thoughtful process to determine how to proceed with one’s personal health and nutrition plan. After a full week of this restricted eating, I will add back categories, paying careful attention to how they make my body feel when being reintroduced. If anything is noticeable causing issues, I’ll have to make the difficult choice to permanently rid my diet of that item(s).
Stay tuned for posts about specifically what I ate and the results of this process!!!