For those of you who have not figured out yet, I lead a fairly busy life. I usually get up round about 4:30 or 5 in the morning, get at least an hour in for training before 6am (when my boys typically start to wake up), I’m frequently at work at 7, where I will run a busy clinic with very little down time until the end of the day, usually 5 or 5:30, then its home, family time, squeeze in some more training time around 8-10pm, and then usually asleep by 10 or 11. Wake up early the next day and repeat. Whenever I am asked how I find time to get in the amount of training that I accomplish, my answer is 2 things: 1. I trade in sleep for exercise time, and 2. Caffeine!
I have never really liked the taste of coffee. I drank my first full cup earlier this year (Starbucks – caffe latte)… again, this stuff is not for me. My drink of choice has long been the nectar of the gods, or perhaps the nectar of the extreme (and who like to think they are still being healthy by drinking the sugar-free version) – Diet Mountain Dew. I’ll be the first to admit I have an addiction to caffeine. If I do not have caffeine in the morning, I have headaches by 9am, I feel completely blasted by noon, and there will be no workouts after dinner time. I also strategically plan ahead for trips, events, etc. to make sure I have it on hand. If anyone looked in my cooler during the Survive the Night Triathlon – I had two 36packs of Mountain Dew on ice… I was obviously sharing, though not many people went for it.
Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook has likely witnessed my wife’s recurrent “motivating posts” for me to quit drinking diet soda. This comes after she herself has become more motivated and has honestly been working very hard to get rid of non-essential and potentially unhealthy items from her diet, so obviously there has been increased incentive in my household for me to quit drinking diet soda.
So 2 weeks ago I decided I try to give it go and quit drinking Diet Mountain Dew, but I figured if I’m going to quit my nectar of the gods and suffer, I might as well try to do something a little more radical. I know I’m sort of rolling the dice right now since I am 8 weeks out from an Ironman, but I figured why not, so I’ve been doing the Advocare 24-day Challenge and I am 1 week in. This is one of the current healthy lifestyle change packages of supplements that comes with diet and meal plans. If you visit their website, Advocare, it is filled with motivational stories of people who changes their lives and lost mad weight. I didn’t necessarily start this diet with the goals of dropping lots of weight (I have a personal goal of dropping about 5 max), but really just to clean up my diet and shift to getting rid of the junk food. The idea for doing the Advocare came up because the day Shannon was corralling all friends to urge me to quit Diet Mountain Dew on Facebook, a new friend who has been an Advocare success story contacted me and introduced me to their energy drink, Spark.
The Advocare diet, or at least the beginning of the 24 day challenge (the “Cleanse Phase”) is really nothing more than taking Probiotics, additional vitamins & minerals, cutting out sodas, processed foods, carbs, dairy, etc. and making more appropriate food choices and serving sizes; and while you are doing this, you need to basically drink your weight in water so I’ve been downing about 120-140 ounces per day, and probably more. Then there is the additional goal of fitting in exercise – which is not really my problem… I easily surpass the minimum 15-30min per day. So, on Tuesday of last week, I started my Advocare Cleanse and quit my beloved Diet Mountain Dew.
Now, people have posted that they have lost 15-20 pounds during their Advocare 24-day challenge. That is obviously not my goal right now, so I am trying to supplement as much as I can. In addition to the Advocare supplements, I am taking B12, Folate, Iron, Glutamine & Amino Acids post workouts, and Epo-Boost (this one is legal and is basically more Iron, B12, and Folate). You are encouraged to eat every 2-3 hours in small meals, which I am definitely doing, and I am putting down in excess of 200G protein per day.
Starting off, the first day was fine. No issues other than a mild headache (Advocare very smartly puts 120mg caffeine in their Spark drink). I probably took in 2000-2400 calories on day 1 – in retrospect, not enough. Day 2 is when the headaches set in. I took Tylenol for the next 4 days and basically despite this had a constant migraine for about 72 hours, but I got through it. I just continued to drink my weight in water, take the Tylenol with my supplements, and then the fiber supplement Advocare gives you to control cravings and hunger. I was cutting out carbs the entire time, but on Friday I knew I had to get ready for a 100 mile ride on Saturday morning that I had planned to do with one of my friends. Now, the strange thing was that I was actually afraid of the ride for once. After 3 days of cutting out so much carbs I was definitely feeling the effects and starting to get very tired. Friday morning, I woke up early as usual only to bike easy for 40 minutes. After work, I skipped my run workout because I was flat out exhausted. I was afraid I was going to start my 100 mile ride and tank in the middle and not be able to finish. So, I sort of broke the diet on Day 4… didn’t really make it too far I guess…
Now, I only broke it by eating a bowl of pasta and putting down a Bonk Breaker bar each loaded with carbs. I still didn’t eat any sweets or other stuff. But then on Saturday, we started early, and headed out the door at 6am, so I needed some caffeine to get me going. Still – I tried to stay true to the plan and I just drank the Spark drink. The ride started out ok, but it was very clear I had no glycogen stores as after about every 30-40min, I could feel myself getting tired and my power would start dropping, so I just kept regulating my intake with power gels and Clif bars. When I do my long rides, I don’t like to mess around and I want to get the rides done without taking all day, so my friend Jamie and I basically hammered the entire ride. We rode 67 miles before stopping, and when we finally stopped at a gas station to refill our bottles, I had that light-headed feeling telling me I wasn’t going to last the final 33 miles unless I got more in the tank. So, after I only four days and about 3 1/2 hours into my Advocare challenge, I’m standing in front of the Mountain Dew section of the convenience store figuring out which one I’m going to buy – I opted for the Orange Kickstart, which is obviously more healthy since it contains 5% juice, right? It tasted so good, and to make myself feel a little better and stave off some guilt, I only drank half of the can. I also walked the store twice looking for more food. They used to have Powerbars and Clif Bars, but not on Saturday. As my friend Jamie is downing a Dr. Pepper and a King-sized Snickers, I’m eating sugar-free gummies and my half a can of Mountain Dew Kickstart. Then, I grabbed a Gatorade G2 and mixed up another bottle of Spark before we headed out.
The caffeine from the Kickstart helped carry me through about mile 85, and then I completely bonked. I went from leading the ride and hammering down, to falling way back in a matter of a quarter mile. Fortunately, we were getting close to home. I inhaled all of the remaining food and drinks on my bike, which included the bottle of Advocare’s Spark (important lesson learned here – stuff tastes awful when its hot, always drink it cold), and after a couple of minutes I rebounded, sort of, and managed to get home without stopping. I originally planned to run 30min off the bike… lets just say that didn’t happen.
The hardest part though, is that after my ride, which is usually followed by cold beer and cheeseburgers, was instead followed by baked chicken, kale, and edamame pasta. Compared to the tasty beverage / bloody cheeseburger combo, I packed in a solid 80G protein in one meal with a glass of water. I was exhausted, but even for the remainder of the weekend, there was no Diet Mountain Dew and no sweets/alcohol/junk food, and I stayed true to my cleanse. I did push some more carbs though on Saturday night (homemade pizza) and on Sunday as I prepared for a second day of relatively intense training. I had to take Monday off from workouts because my legs and energy level were floored, but at least this morning I was able to get up and hammer through my weekly all-out bike session and 5 mile run. This morning’s workout hurt as usual, and despite feeling tired, I completed the entire 5 x 5min at a heart rate 5 beats lower than normal. So, I guess that’s a measure of improvement. As far as the Advocare plan goes, I have dropped 3 pounds in a week, so I’ll have to work to minimize the losses in the upcoming 2 weeks. I have taken the obligatory before and weekly photos – not quite sure if I think I look any different. We’ll obviously figure out these next two weeks if I can a) continue to clean up my diet, and 2) not bottom out my weight and get sick.