I did it! I managed to complete my two week test. In the interest of full disclosure, I should share that it was actually just short of the two weeks – 12 days for me instead. We ran into my husband’s birthday at the end, and I decided that while I valued the test, I also valued the opportunity to share in celebrations with my family. Because running is awesome, but so is the rest of my life as well. Regardless, I found the test interesting in what it taught me.
The first revelation is that I was relying way too much on carbs. As with most athletes, I had bought into the need to “carb load” to support my training. I figured that since I was running so many miles, it made sense that I was eating so many carbs. Plus, I took great care to eat almost exclusively whole grain carbs, and to make sure I had ample variety, so it seemed like a smart choice for me. The thought of eliminating all grains was terrifying.
The reality? It wasn’t as hard as I thought. I substituted omelets for my daily oatmeal, ate a lot of salads, and found lots of ways to get creative with vegetables, especially cauliflower. The biggest surprise was that at times, I found myself preferring the veggie substitute to the original carbs, such as when I had tofu fried rice with cauliflower rice in lieu of brown rice.
My biggest motivator for trying this, outside of curiosity, was the desire to get my energy levels regulated. I try to prioritize sleep, but like most working parents, there’s only so much you can do. I get up prior to 5am almost every weekday in order to get in my workouts. Before the TWT, getting through the workweek was a struggle. I would find myself dragging each day between 12-3pm, and by Thursday, I often felt as if I could lay down and fall asleep at any given moment. After years of feeling this way, I just chalked it up to an inevitable side effect of so much training while leading a busy life.
My energy levels while on the TWT were drastically improved. I can’t say that I every felt particularly “energized,” but I also never felt tired. Even putting in weeks with 35-45 miles of running, I was able to continue throughout my day feeling sharp and alert. What an improvement!
The other noticeable improvement was in my appetite. Before the TWT, I ate constantly. Literally, every 2-3 hours I was having a meal or a snack, and even with all that eating, I was hungry more often than not. It was incredibly frustrating. I was eating high quality whole foods, and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t satisfy my appetite. At the same time, it was impossible for me to drop any weight. I didn’t usually gain it, but I wasn’t often able to lose it either.
During the 12 days that I followed the TWT, I found that I was often able to make it from breakfast to lunch (6 hours later) without the need for any snack. Likewise, I was able to go to bed at the end of the night feeling sated, not starving. It was so noticeable that two of my colleagues even commented on the change, as they are so used to seeing me snacking at every opportunity.
Not only was I feeling full, but I was eating less and I dropped weight without even trying. On the first day of the test, I weighed 137.8lbs, with 22.1% body fat. On the final day, I weighed 133.0lbs, with 21.0%. I changed to eating a diet almost exclusively full of veggies, full fat cheese and dairy, and high quality fats such as avocados, nuts, and olives, and I dropped weight. I know that many people will claim this was just water weight, but my scale also measures hydration levels, and my levels actually rose slightly by the end of the two weeks.
So what now? While I’m pleased with the results of this test, I know that it’s important to find a way back to a slightly more balanced diet. I’m now in the midst of slowly adding back in foods to see how they effect me. I’m hoping to reach a point where I can balance all of the healthy fats and veggies with some legumes, fruit, and whole grains, albeit at much lower levels than before. I’m looking forward to continuing to enjoy some of the new recipes that I’ve discovered, such as cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower rice, almond pancakes, and zucchini lasagna. I feel confident that now that I am aware how good it feels to have balanced energy levels, I can play around with my diet until I am eating a rich variety that continues to allow me to feel good. I’m also looking forward to continuing with my heart rate training.
An added note: One of my biggest concerns was trying to make it through this test and remain a vegetarian. I’m happy to say that I was completely successful. If you are in a similar boat, and want more details, look for my follow-up post here, which shares a more detailed breakdown of what I ate over the two weeks.