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I admit it, even though it is not cool any more, I love Carbs. The whiter and the junkier, the better. I'm not sure why it happened because I was raised by a vegetarian mom who grew her own vegetables and shopped at farmer's markets (long before that was trendy). I guess somewhere along the line I deviated from this wholesome way of eating. Perhaps it was the pizza parties in college, the financially strapped newly wed Ramen noodle diet or the sleep deprived years of parenthood but I got a taste for processed food- big time!
I was an athlete growing up, probably successful because I was fueled by real food. It was the 80's, no one in my circle of runners and soccer players had heard of Gatorade (except a similar product that was used when we had the stomach flu), energy bars or electrolytes. Somehow we survived. As an adult, I discovered Triathlon. I was a bored jogger looking for a new challenge. Not long after I discovered Triathlon, I discovered Ironman Triathlon. Endurance training is a Carb Addicts dream come true. Training 10, 15, sometimes 20 hours per week while also working and raising a family, requires a lot of fuel. In order to fuel this new lifestyle, I made an effort to eat healthy but after you eat 2000 calories worth of healthy food and are still starving, that's where the fun begins. I was losing weight and spinach salads just were not filling me up so in adition to all the sports drinks and energy bars I consumed during training, I turned to my old friends: the carbs. I'm talking chocolate, cookies, cake, muffins, breads of all types, pretzels, and crackers. I smothered everything with peanut butter. But like Eric Carle's caterpillar, I was still hungry!
Ironman came and went. I was successful in checking off that goal. Life went back to normal. I assumed that my body was going to go back to normal too. Not so much. A short time after Ironman, I was in a bike crash that left me pretty injured, a short time later I had to have knee surgery. I gained weight and continued to crave sweets and processed food. I'm a pretty disciplined person. Get up at 5am in the dark to run? No problem! 100 mile bike ride in the wind? No problem. Somehow, I could not carry that self discipline over to my diet. I was a junk food vegetarian. I was also heavier and sicker than I had been at any other time in my life. As a teacher, I am exposed to many germs but it seemed like I was catching everything that was going around and it was taking me longer and longer to recover from workouts. I hit a plateau in my training and I felt like I couldn't make any progress. I was very frustrated.
I have another confession, I love to eat food and I hate gimmicks. When I first heard of Vega via The Thrive Diet book (which I received from a training partner who was probably sick of hearing me whine about my health) my first thought was "Oh no, not another meal replacement shake". However somehow I ended up in the aisle of the health food store that sold the nutritional products and there was Vega- on sale! My skeptical self wanted to walk away but deep down inside of this carb junkie is a girl that wants to feel healthy again. I decided to give it a chance. I decided to invest some time and money in myself. However, my skeptical self only bought 5 of the travel packs to test it out. For an entire week (Mon-Fri) I had a shake every day, I tried to eat better in general and I had to admit that by Thursday i was feeling pretty darn good. We went out of town that weekend and I went back on my processed food and lots of wine diet. By Monday I was feeling like a slug and welcomed my Vega shake for breakfast. Back at work I was finding I had more energy and wasn't starving at lunch time.
It's only been 3 weeks and I realize that I am a work in progress. I still crave carbs, but not as often and I am able to hold off without feeling like I might hurt someone. Next up I am going to try to cut back on the coffee. Baby steps! Above all I enjoy the Vega philosophy of improving the diet by adding to it, not necessarily taking away. And I like the idea of small changes over time. I feel that I am headed in the right direction and if this carb-a-holic can do it, any one can!