Sunday, August 24, 2008

Are You Mutilating Your Lifestyle into a Diet?

This is the story of how "The Coach" got it wrong.

I have always enjoyed the process of scientific enquiry - that is to develop an experiment - ie develop a method and parameters for said experiment and to then record and analyze the results. I then draw conclusions about the results and compare them with previous studies that are similar in nature. Then I go out and apply them "in the field". This is called "evidence based" reasoning.

When I studies Human Movements I spent all of my free time applying all of the exercise physiology principles we learnt to myself. I participated in as many scientific studies as I could. I did endurance related studies (I did a study relating endurance based performance and iron consumption) and I did a strength training study, studying fibre type distribution and change with a powerlifting type protocol. When I was pregnant, I kept records and sent them to a professor in the US who was studying pregnancy and exercise. In other words, my experiences went directly into a bank of information that was being developed about certain protocols, performance etc.

After a great afternoon at Lindy's Bodytune workshop, a highlight for me was discussing how everyone is different in what works for them.

It has been the same for me with nutrition and after my Biosignature analysis( which showed my carb tolerance to be moderate ), I decided to give carb cycling a go. Now, for a bit of background, there is a big bank of evidence and studies that have been done that suggest in certain situations that carb cycling can be very beneficial, so I'd like to point out that I'm not knocking anyone that uses this method and enjoys it, I'm just having a chat about my experiences.

For a bit more background, as most of you who read this blog know, I am in maintenance mode, I'm not prepping for a competition, I'm focusing on recovery from surgery and getting my fitness levels back. When I prepare for a competition and my clients prepare for a competition, I'm averse to a low carb regime unless a) dietary fat is higher and b) said client is feeling fantastic with this type of regime. In my own preparations, I have never dropped my carbs below 35% of my intake.

Right now I am doing more endurance based exercise than strength work, due to injury,surgery eetc. I typically teach 4 RPM classes a week and run twice a week. I also am doing a fair bit of rehab and mobilization work and am now beginning to piece some strength training in.

So, off I went, low carb,high fat for 4 days and then a higher carb day. By day 3 I had turned into a raving, depleted lunatic. By the end of day 3, I was engaging in behaviours that I thought I had left behind years ago (eg head in the biscuit barrel, followed by sugary cereal, peanut butter and bread crusts...charming). Emotionally I have been a wreck.

Then it occurred to me that I have been mutilating my normal healthy lifestyle into "diet mentality".

What went so wrong?

1) Based on what I'm currently doing, there is no strong scientific rationale that suggests that carb cycling is a good thing for me right now.
2) I tried this at the wrong time (maintenance)
3) I tried it with the wrong training (mainly endurance based)

After having another session of overdoing it on the really high carb, high fat processed foods that don't do anyone any favours and feeling like a dog's breakfast because I was feeling like "I'd failed" I realized that I had unknowingly and unwittingly morphed my healthy balanced ways into a diet.

To conclude - things to look out for so that you don't mutilate (as Dave Greenwalt would say) your Lifestyle into a Diet.
You know you've mutilated your lifestyle into a diet when:
* you know you cannot sustain this way of eating for the rest of your life
*you cut out food groups with no valid reason (eg allergy or intolerance)
*you cannot involve your family in your way of eating (I rarely ate differently to my family when I comp prepped - my motto being, if you can't be balanced and be proud to do it in front of impressionable kids, especially my daughters, it is not good).
*there are all or nothing rigid rules - there is never any middle ground. For example, it's pretty obvious that eating a lot of artificial sweetener is no good for you. I like a can of Diet Coke or Pepsi Max once a day - I feel deprived if I don't have this.
*you feel deprived and look at other's food plates and wish you could have what they were eating
*you've turned into a tired, emotional lunatic who'd commit homicide for a piece of toast
*you feel like a failure every time you fall - you have to consider then that rather than you failing the plan has failed you.
*the shakes, supplements, pills and potions that are required cost more than your grocery bill
*you can never experience again the joy of eating...the odd croissant, confit of duck get the picture.

Me, I'm back to my normal way of eating and about to put the paddle in to get rid of the weight I gained during my little experiment. I was almost embarrassed to blog about it, but having things not go your way is one of the best learning tools out there!

The other think I want to do, ala KatieP is to turn off the anonymous comments feature and invite any lurkers to delurk and say "hi". I switched my anonymous features content back on due to the marketing material I was receiving for all sorts of unrelated products, so we shall see.


Kek said...

"By day 3 I had turned into a raving, depleted lunatic"

I completely relate to this. End of day 3 is definitely the sell your firstborn for a bread roll moment for me. I'd be happy to do a low-carb, high fat day now and then, but not a string of them after last week's painful effort.

On the plus side, it's always nice to have confirmation that what you're doing is the right thing for YOU. And I think it's a good thing to not be afraid to experiment, as long as you can be objective about the results. :o)

Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader of your blog and enjoy it very much. Like you I am in Qld, on the Gold Coast, also working for FF as both PT and RPM + Pump instructor and contemplating figure comp for next year. ON the carb front, I go great guns on low carb for 3 days max, funnily enough on day 3, I usually have my most powerful day, I lift heavier, bike harder just feel on top of the world, but that all goes to pieces on day 4 when I can barely muster through 7 tracks in RPM. So I have now learned that I can carb cycle effectively if I choose for 3 days tops, then re-load. I only use this method when I need an extra boost or need to shed a few pounds quickly. Keep the great posts coming.

Kimmy said...

Hi Liz, great post - love your expertise, experience and your sound advice. Keep up the good work - Live with Passion Kimmy

LizN said...

Hi Kek, Kimmy and Loraine - Loraine, thanks for delurking - nice to know I have a partner in crime down the road.
Liz N

Lia Halsall said...

Good to catch up with you on the weekend Liz. You're always such a bundle of energy. :o) xxx