When Weight Loss Plans Don’t Work, Try Going “Keto”

When nothing else has worked, why not try the low carb, high fat diet?  Not Atkins or South Beach even tho it may look a little familiar.  The biggest problems with the above is the excessive focus on protein and a lack of focus on quality of food.  If you eat a slab of Hormel Bacon and Generic Eggs then you might lose a little weight initially, but you’re going to clog your arteries and rocket your triglycerides to mention a few things. BUT if you eat local free-range, hormone-free eggs and bacon that have been humanely raised then you’ll receive vital nutrients that the other meat lacks because of how it was raised and slaughtered.  Granted, if you eat such a breakfast every day and for most meals, you probably will die of a heart attack.

fat cat

The key to low carb, high fat diets (which will eventually cause “nutritional ketosis”) is eating high quality, nutrient dense versions of these foods including a ton of non-starchy vegetables. Healthy fats (50-60% of daily calories) includes avocado, coconut oil/milk, olive oil, cold-water fish like sardines, tuna and salmon. Protein can be a challenge is your a vegetarian as the best versions of protein with high nutrient load are grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free, local animals. Unfortunately, vegetarian diets can be overfilled with soy, beans, and rice, all of which are carbohydrate dense. Pescetarian can work if you watch your mercury levels. Safe starchy veggies and fruit include sweet potatoes, taro, quinoa, and low glycemic fruit like berries. BUT when these carbs or refined ones or over consumed or not used post-activity for recovery purposes, they can turn quickly to sugar which spikes your blood sugar thereby increasing AGEs (advanced glycation end-products).

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Ben Greenfield, a health and fitness professional and Ironman Triathlete, experimented with ketogenic endurance training for IM Canada a few years ago with success.  I began a ketogenic diet in January and have gone in/out of ketosis along the way.  The success has come in fewer injuries, decreased joint inflammation, better sleep, stronger digestion and increased performance as I completed my first marathon in March & my first Olympic duathlon in April.  Dr. Terry Wahls wrote a book called The Wahls Protocol after researching and trying out all sorts of traditional treatments for MS without success.  She began a paleo-style diet then eventually moved into a highly ketogenic diet which eventually sent her multiple sclerosis into remission.  Her research confirmed that diet matters and finding the right one for you can mean the difference between life and death.

LR carrollton bike

If you’re ready to try something different that allows you to eat great food and have amazing energy, then contact me to start your journey. Whether you just want a free consultant and some education or you want a full scale plan of action with detailed food, workouts, meals cooked for you, and more, I can help you meet your goals and re-discover your happiness through food.

Here’s to your health!

Overcoming & Accomplishing…Mind over Matter

On Saturday July 13, I begrudgingly drove to Carrollton, GA, to scope out my next triathlon, the Carrollton Sprint Triathlon on July 14th. Unlike my last race, I hadn’t been training as much, mentally or physically, for this one, and despite it being a simple lake swim, my nerves were already drowning me. We previewed the course and took a quick swim which was filled with good strokes followed by gasps and coughs. Fortunately, I have enough memories of successfully choking through swims and conversely, swimming smoothly through courses. Whatever was to happen would happen and I would survive the swim.

mass swim startI’m not sure what it is about the swim, but when I get to races, think about races, see OW swims or photos, my heart races and my body freezes up. When I played competitive tennis in high school, the same thing began to happen at the end of my career. The pressure to win, succeed, or something, caused me to freeze and literally forget how to swing a tennis racquet. Now I forget how to swim, trying to sight and breathe at the same time which gives me a mouthful of water and a headful of fear and panic. As a Master Scuba Diver and Lifeguard, I know how to handle stress in the water, rescue people in the water, perform CPR, etc., but I turn into a panicked child who can barely dog-paddle. Ugh!

20 seconds before the race started, we found out that the gender-based wave starts would be changed into one mass start. So with 10 seconds left, I had to figure out where to position myself and how to keep myself calm. Oh shit! So with those positively pleasant and calm thoughts the race began! I got about 10 strokes in before I started sighting and simultaneously trying to breath at the same time. Big mistake! As I began taking in big gulps of of water versus big gulps of air. Safe to say the panic began along with half-assed dog-paddling and one-legged breaststroking….with over 400 yds to swim. At the first buoy I saw a young guy flip over and start backstroking. I knew I could go faster and maybe calm down this way, so I followed suit and began swimming as fast as I can on my back. Towards the end of the swim course, I tried to return to normal swimming which half-worked, allowing me to exit the water with a horrible swim time and a head full of negative, self-defeating thoughts.

LR carrollton bikeAt this point I assumed I’d have to be satisfied with simply finishing the race versus placing or even winning (right?!). Relieved to be out of the water, I tore off on the bike with my pre-race goal of a 40 minute bike split on my mind. Unlike my last race, I didn’t really watch my speed, simply focusing on keeping a fast cadence and steadily tracking down the people in front of me. I passed a few women, one early on a hill because her chain came off, then a young girl who was drafting with her father. I saw my wife up ahead as finished the last mile or two. Coming into T2 together was a welcomed relief after a crappy race start. As we headed out onto the run, I got my next (positive) surprise of the day. A spectator yelled out, “first female out.” My head spun around and I asked him if he was kidding. Nope, we were the first two females on the run course. Not only first female but fastest female bike split of the day (under 40 minutes). My first thought was, “HOLY SHIT! I could actually win this race!” Finally some positive thoughts!!

I’m a fast runner but many are much faster so I knew I had to run faster than I expected to win this race. For the first 2 miles, I kept the lead. Remember that chic I passed on the bike whose chain had come off? Here she was again! We ran together for the next 1/2 mile up and down some brutal hills. I finally needed to slow down, afraid I might have to walk if I didn’t. I kept her in my sights and tried to calm my breathing and savor the fact that I was still in 2nd place overall. Wow! Thoughts of settling with 2nd place came and went, supplemented by the fact that I could still win since she was less than 50 yds ahead of me. At that point I began to fill my mind with positive affirmations and memories of sprints and chasing people down in other races. I told myself to just, “shut up and run!” I began to pickup the pace about 100 yds before the last turn uphill to the finish. As I made my turn, she was only a few steps away from me, until a spectator yelled, “Here she comes behind you!” THANKS! She glanced back then picked up her pace. I knew this last 50 – 100 yds would be an all out sprint…and it was. Sprinting uphill is like torture, but I felt like a bicycle switching into easier gears in order to pickup the cadence and hopefully pickup my speed. With only a few yards to the finish line, I began to pull past her, crossing the finish line for the win by .05 second! Excited, exhausted, and in disbelief I congratulated her on a great finish then wandered off to the adjacent track to let reality settle in. “I did it! I can’t believe I pulled out a win, especially after such a disastrous swim start!” I cried and laughed and shook my head in disbelief, along with the occasional fist pump that decided to make a comeback from my tennis years. I couldn’t wait to tell Laura, who gave me a high five and told me to take off and win it when we started on the run earlier. I was hoping she would win her division as well so we could both celebrate individual wins (and she did :))

What started as a racing disaster turned into an experience of overcoming and accomplishing something I have been seeking since I began recovering my physical health 2 years ago. I learned that my mind is probably more powerful than my body and impfinish line closeupacts me more in racing and training than I had realized. All the years of yoga and mental training now had another use besides the curbing of general anxiety and depression. I must train my mind as much as if not more than my body because when it comes down to race day. If my mind is weak and unprepared, then I might as well not even step in the water. Recently, I picked up the book, Mind Gym, which is filled with stories and exercises pertinent to mental strength via rehearsal, visualization, and affirmations. Check it out here along with some of my other recommendations for gear, books, magazines, etc.

See it, believe it, then DO IT!

Beach Blast Triathlon

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This weekend in Mexico Beach, FL, I raced in my first triathlon of the season. Last year was my first time to EVER participate in a triathlon and I chose the one race with an ocean swim. For a person who loves scuba diving (over 150 dives), I sure do struggle with open water swims. So all year I have worked on my swim and visualized killing this course, especially the swim & despite the uncomfortably small wetsuit I have to wear.

Of course though, two weeks before the race, I start attending CrossFit classes because a studio wants a yoga teacher…who understands and participates in CrossFit. Being the stubborn, “I can do it myself” person that I am, I jumped right in and by the second class, I couldn’t put weight on my left shoulder. Uh oh! The day after my longest swim ever (1.2 miles), I screw up my already unpredictable shoulder. Way to go Lyndsey!

As would be imagined, over the next 2 weeks my attitude was less than pleasant, complicated by a major allergic episode to the 1″ of pollen that covered everything in Alabama. I could barely breathe, talk, or move. I began to doubt whether Beach Blast was going to be a blast or a blow-up for me. The one good thing though was at least I was going to the beach with people I loved.

Fast forward to Friday, the day before the race, where I decided to downgrade to the Sprint vs. Olympic distance because I hadn’t not swam in 2.5 weeks. At almost sunset, in a flurry of anxiety and panic, I demanded we do a practice swim in the wetsuit to the buoy about 100yds off shore. Great way to begin your practice swim when you’re already frazzled. I had my usually swim panic and frozen breath as I tried to lower my head in the cool Gulf waters for the first 50yds. Then suddenly with more determination than I’ve ever mustered when it came to fear and panic, I looked at my partner and said, “I’m GOING to the buoy!” Lowering my head I took off calmly and with focus, slapping the yellow buoy once I reached it then turned and swam steadily back to shore until I could grab sand with hands. I WAS READY!

I was a bit testy race day as usual but my stomach and mind felt more settled than usual. We had friends coming to cheer us and take photos so I focused on how happy I’d be to see them throughout the course. I took a quick spin on my bike, racked it, then went down to the water to practice until race time. The water was about 70-72 degrees and perfect with a wetsuit…..if it fit properly. Some early race humor helped further calm me as the second buoy began to drift away during the Olympic distance swim. Granted if I’d been the one chasing a moving buoy, it would NOT have been funny, but for us Sprint racers it was comic relief.

By the time they called Sprint Triathlon under 40 to the water’s edge, I was a little nervous but a deeper calm and determination. I would walk into the water behind the faster swimmers and swim MY race at MY pace. And I did. My breath stayed calm, my body stayed relaxed and I exited the water in ~11 minutes (about 2 min. faster than last year). Leaving the water I was laughing and almost crying at how calmly I executed the swim and overcame my fears. Unfortunately, transition was a quarter of a mile from the swim exit, uphill and across Hwy 98. My heart rate became my focus from them on out, climbing from 75% to 90% by the end of race.

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My new TT bike helped me shave 7 minutes off last year’s time, placing in 4th place after T2, but by then, my heart race was around 85% and the temperature was climbing. A few minutes into the run, I realized I hadn’t fueled enough during the bike so I grabbed a chocolate fit chew (Thanks Arbonne!) and let it slowly dissolve as I padded away on the windy but not windy road through a neighborhood. The run is usually my strong point, but as soon as I left T2, I knew this run wasn’t going to be easy. I was already thirsty, slightly hungry, hot as hell, and felt like I was dragging sandbags behind me. Thank God for fuel belts! Usually 5k races are short enough not to need water, but with only one water stop at the halfway point and the overheating I experienced last year during the run, I decided not to chance it. It was like an oasis in the desert to have those two tiny bottles. About .75 miles from the finish line, I timed a sprinkler pass perfectly and got showered head to toe in delight. Despite my body’s nagging for me to walk, I kept my focus on my breath and my cadence. Inhale 3 steps, exhale 2 steps, inhale 3 steps, exhale 2 steps.

As the final turn into the park & finish line approached, I knew I had one short steep hill to climb before the 25-50 yd sprint finish. I took a deep breath and quickened my step. A woman began yelling, “You can do. Get up this hill. Come on baby!” While she was clearly not talking to me, I pretended she was and began pumping my arms and pulling myself uphill. As I hit the turn, my heart was pounding and I was gasping, but I could see the finish line. I began to sprint as best I could, chick-ing an age grouper down the chute to yells of “Strong Finish! Good Job!” While that might not be the kindest thing to do unless it’ll change your placement, I had to prove to myself that I was prepared and capable of not only starting strong and steady but finishing strong by giving it all. And I did. I left everything on the course. All the worries and fears and doubts about not only my participation in triathlon but in many aspects of my life. I had arrived uncertain and afraid, but I left centered and complete. I finished 5th in my age group with 1st & 2nd also finishing 2nd & 3rd overall in the female division. Despite having a secret goal of finishing in 1hr 30min, I shaved over 14 minutes off last year’s finish time and was only 4 minutes short of my 1:30 goal.

What’s your next goal? How can you break it into small manageable steps to ensure it’s success?

My next goal is an Olympic distance. Race unknown…maybe Chattanooga on July 14th.

Finish strong!

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Race with a Purpose: World Bicycle Relief

Since I returned from Africa and even before then, I have been searching for a non-profit with a mission that I could support.  All the days, hours and dollars put into triathlon training feels futile and selfish unless it’s coupled with a greater mission besides me.  To even consider an IM or IM 70.3 requires an personal tendency towards selfishness, sacrifice, insanity, and inner searching.  At least that’s my truth and that of many of the athletes about whom I’ve read.

power of the mindMaybe it reminds me of being an adolescent athlete OR how I fantasized about racing the Kona IM every October while watching it on tv OR that I want to see how far my mind & body will take me OR that I want to free myself of failures and faults by filling every mile with prayers for reconciliation, healing and redemption.  Maybe it’s all of this and none of this.

Or maybe I do it because I have the ability and the opportunity and encouragement to do it….and I want to return that favor with a gift.  The gift of a bicycle through their “work for a ride” type program (i.e. Trees-for-Bikes or Mobility = Education).  Not a hand-out but a hand-up.  Kids and adults must give back and earn their bike which ensure that they create a self-sustaining community and life.

Trees for Bikes

Help me build opportunities by building bikes with World Bicycle Relief via the Ironman Foundation.

Remember: 1 bike = $134

Sponsor 1 bike and tell a friend to sponsor the next one.  If cycling or triathlon has changed your life, help it change it someone else’s too.

Let’s build a fleet of bikes so everyone can get to school, work and home, through safe, reliable transportation.  Check out their programs supporting education, health care, social enterprise, micro-finance, environment, field mechanic trainings, and disaster relief.

PHYSICALLY FIT but MENTALLY EXHAUSTED

This past week was a recovery week which gave my still recovering hamstring a chance to rest from running and focus on gentle strength work.  I think the more I train the calmer my moods and more focused my mind becomes, so when training slows yet life speeds up and fills in the gaps, I scramble to push back in order for some mental/emotional R&R.  Let’s just say that this week was stronger than me, and as I faced another last minute change of plans this morning (which could rob me of a much needed long ride & time of mental peace), I had a meltdown.

melting clocks

Dali’s melting clocks that are simultaneously drowning seemed to appropriate image for this experience.  Not only is there seemingly not enough time but the pressures and demands and expectations have me up to my eyeballs with negative self-talk.  “You’re not good enough.”  “Why didn’t you do it right?”  Rejection, mistrust, doubt, FAILURE!  Hard to find the goodness and the grace and the gratitude when it feels the world & your mind is betting against you.

Or so it seems.  The mind and body are so intricately linked yet we tend to focus on them as separate identities.  Yoga means ‘union,’ and the yoga postures and pranayama (breathing practices) give us the opportunity to harmonize and experience both simultaneously.  When I absolutely cannot bear another moment of life’s constant swirling, I fall to my “mat” – the carpet, the tile, the grass, the earth – a focus on syncing gentle movement with controlled breath.  I give my mind permission to only pay attention to how it feels to move and breathe as one.  Within minutes (or hours, depending on the size of my meltdown), I’ve found my center, my Self, and my sanity.  It’s easy for me to see why I spent almost 3 solid years practicing yoga and meditation every day for at least 2 hrs.

Personal Flow-poster

In that deep awareness and understanding of mind-body connectedness, I will devote this day to realigning my mind, body, and spirit so that Week 5 of 70.3 training won’t end like Week 4.

 

How do you balance the demands of life and leisure and training?  What are your reset buttons when you reach meltdown status?

Training for an Ironman…sorta

IM yoga tattoo
Well, actually a 70.3 or Half-Ironman, but “half” sounds so second rate. Some half-marathoners are pushing for a rename to “Pikermi” which is name of the city in Greece that is in the middle of the original route Pheidippides took from Marathon to Athens (which was less than 26.2 miles by the way), but what would you rename a Half-Ironman?

Anyways, I digress. I have been lusting over Ironman triathlons since I was a kid, watching the Kona World Championships every October around my birthday (or December when it viewed). I researched the IronKids races that were highlighted on some kid’s bread packaging to no avail because my mother was already overwhelmed with hauling us from softball to tennis to gymnastics to golf to …. the list goes on. Plus I didn’t think I had a great place to ride my cheap bike (although I lived in the woods and had miles of trails!) and my swimming was average (goggles and a swim cap might have helped). Still I dreamed of the guts and glory, ever the athlete seeking bigger challenges.

Fast forward twenty years to a physically broken 28 yr old under chiropractic care three times a week still yearning to regain her younger years and athletic feats. So as my 29th birthday and the 29th Ironman World Championships in Kona approached, my doctor encouraged more swimming and okayed my desire to start cycling with my partner. Easy cycling, no aero, no hills, short distance. You can guess how that went down – 2 weeks later and a 25 mile race later 🙂 Been hooked since! But that wasn’t what re-invigorated the Ironman itch. One day while swimming endless laps of front crawl, breast and backstroke, I realized how I raced everyone swimming in adjacent lanes. I missed competing and challenging myself and was feeling renewed and hopeful with my steady improvements under Dr. H’s care. By the time of the October Ironman, the memories of IronKids and Ironman Kona were flooding back every time I got on my bike or went for a swim. Maybe I could do this, but could I ever run again with my history of ruptured lumbar discs, shin splints, tendonitis, etc.? Would 2012 would be the year? Not only of my 30th birthday but of my athletic reawakening?

LR BB Swim

January 11th was the first run of many to come….and April 28th was the Beach Blast Triathlon in Mexico City Beach, FL, my 1st! Despite my initial swim panic after a mass start in a new wetsuit with an ocean swim, I was able to finish in 1:48:28 placing 5th in my age division. I got to see my partner at various points during the race which bolster my spirits and made my finish sweet…even though I knew no one and no one knew me when I crossed the finish. That has changed since joining Vulcan Triathletes as their new secretary and the Birmingham Track Club. The camaraderie along with the plethora of experienced athletes, doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, yoga teachers, etc. has made my journey and decision to Tri- harder and farther and much more pleasant and safe undertaking. One month before my 30th birthday, I finished my first half-marathon, the Talladega 21000, in under 2:15, with a good friend who has used running to lose almost 100 lbs and heal all his health problems. This stuff transforms your life – mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally!

So it is in that vein that I am committing to the lengthy but doable training for a 70.3 race this year. Definitely Augusta 70.3 because many Vulcan Triathletes and Birmingham locals race it. Plus the swim is downstream in a wetsuit – I can float to the transition if I get panicked! I will race the Beach Blast Triathlon (Olympic distance – 1st tri- at this distance) in late April again as a tune-up/season opener. If it goes well then an earlier 70.3 may be on the horizon.

Note: I do not race just for me though. I race for those who have risen from their own fiery transformations via addiction/abuse/injury/etc., for the orphaned kids I worked with in South Africa, for the SouthTown community in Birmingham, for the church on the corner where “All Are Welcomed,” for my deceased father who never saw my healing and my adulthood, for my unborn niece/nephew, and for my dear grandmother who taught me how to cook and how to love everyone.

…and I race for you in hopes that you might be inspired to reach for the goals and dreams you felt would always JUST BE DREAMS. Time to create some realities.

 

Time to Tri- with Me!

triathlete belly tattoo

Tri- Yoga

Some people are curious, others are confused, and the rest seem indifferent when they hear “yoga.”  The comments range from “I don’t like yogurt” to “I’m not flexible enough.”  The 1st comment I tend to ignore, the second follows with, “that’s exactly WHY you need to do yoga.”  At the age of 8 my mother enrolled my in gymnastics because I couldn’t touch my toes.  We practice something in order to learn it.  Yoga is not just for the flexible & fit.  In fact, it was never really about exercise & flexibility in its’ native home of India.

There are several branches of yoga, many of which emphasize disciplining the mind, but Raja (hatha) yoga, as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, focuses the mind by concentrating on health and purity of the body.  Hatha yoga is performed via behavioral disciplines (yamas/niyamas), physical postures (asanas), and breathwork (pranayama), which prepare the whole self for meditative concentration that can lead to an awareness of oneness with creation (samadhi/nirvana/spiritual connectedness).  These 8 limbs of Raja yoga outline a way to life a whole, happy, healthy life.  While it is not a religion, it is definitely spiritual in its’ nature.  Also, it can simply be a way to improve flexibility and mental stability.

Whatever your need, there is something yoga can offer you because after all yoga means union.

***What feels disconnected in your life?

***Aren’t you curious to see how a plan of yoga/union could help you connect the dots?

As a Registered Kripalu Yoga Teacher & a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Practitioner & Group Facilator, I offer individual sessions for all levels to create a health & wellness plan that works for your goals & abilities.

Here’s a sample:

This pose sequence focuses on the core areas worked during swimming, cycling, & running. Be careful when performing postures if you’ve never done yoga…in fact, make it a priority to seek out a class or instructor.

Tri Poses
By RunningYogi
1
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Bitilasana
Cow Pose

2
Marjaryasana
Cat Pose

3
Ujjayi Pranayama
Conqueror Breath

4
Baddha Konasana
Bound Angle Pose

5
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Marichyasana III
Marichi’s Pose

6
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Dandasana
Staff Pose

7
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Paschimottanasana
Seated Forward Bend

8
UpavisthaKonasana_150
Upavistha Konasana
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend

9
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Ananda Balasana
Happy Baby Pose

10
Fish_Matsyasana_150
Matsyasana
Fish Pose

11
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Halasana
Plow Pose

12
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Supta Baddha Konasana
Reclining Bound Angle Pose

13
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Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge Pose

14
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Savasana
Corpse Pose