30 Day Diet Reboot Day 30

30 Day Diet Reboot Day 30

How did we do?

I embarked on this 30-day diet reboot because I was getting heavier than my comfort zone and, more importantly, wasn’t feeling great.  I decided to get myself onto a correction plan.  A course correction that would set me up to be successful for my spring season.

Most people assume that since I’m a marathoner and an endurance athlete that I can eat whatever I want.  Indeed, this is the way many endurance athletes think.  This is the philosophy of the old timers.  Quentin Cassidy in ‘Once a Runner’ is often quoted as saying “If the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn.”

It is true that lots of exercise is a terrific way to control your weight and to stay healthy, but it’s not the only thing.  Ask any smart doctor and they will tell you exercise is one of the pillars to health.  They will quickly add not smoking, drinking in moderation and a healthy, whole food diet with lots of fruit and vegetables.

Especially as you get older.  Even as a committed endurance athlete I can no longer outrun a bad diet.  It’s not just the calorie burn.  I don’t know if it’s a negative or a positive, but I’m in such good aerobic shape that my metabolism is rock bottom.  If I wasn’t burning 5,000+ calories a week I would have to lower my daily calorie intact by 20-30%.

It is also about performance.  Don’t get me wrong, I was never going to win a race and never will.  That’s not the performance I’m talking about.  I mean just feeling good when I’m training and racing.  The performance boost or hit that I get from being lean and eating healthy is very noticeable in my workouts and in my training.  Once you feel that it’s hard to go back to being heavy.

Being lean makes the difference between hating a workout and enjoying a workout.  It makes my training easier, higher quality and way more enjoyable.  I feel lighter on my feet, I have more energy in the workout and I can execute them harder.

I can’t prove it, but I’m sure eating healthy and being lean prevents training injuries and helps me recover faster.  That’s really the choice; would you rather drag through a workout with a 3-beer hangover in the morning or hit it hard and joyously?

Great.  We all know what we’d rather do. Then why is it so hard?  It’s hard because your poor eating habits become burned in habits and you have to unwind those habits to get back to where you were living lean.

Bottom line, since my summer training and fall racing season I had managed to pick up some bad habits. As a result, I was heavy and dragging around too much weight.  I decided to go on a 30-day reboot to switch off those bad habits and replace them with good, whole food.  I have my 20th Boston Marathon coming up in April and I need to train lean and race lean to respect that race.

The advantage I have is that I already know what to do.  I just have to do it.  I have some good eating habits in place that I can anchor the 30 days around.  I know I can get lean.  I’ve done it before.

I choose 30 days as an arbitrary number for the most part.  I like to put an end point on these things because it tricks you mind into thinking the task at hand is smaller than it really is.  It also gives you a way to tell yourself “All you have to do is make it 30 days and then you can stop.”  This comes in handy when you’re at the 10-15-day mark and you’re hungry and you’re not making as much progress as you liked.  It gives you a finite milestone to hang on to so you can hang in there.

I also choose 30 days because it is long enough to rewire habits.  The traditional rule of thumb is that it takes 21 days to rewire a habit.  30 Days gives you that plus a buffer.  It’s long enough that you can see real progress in your actions and your body.

I also got a coach.  Do I need a coach?  Not really.  I already know what to do.  But I do need a coach to watch over my shoulder and to make sure I don’t get cute.  Having Rachel look at my food logs every day and make suggestions kept me going.  It’s part accountability and it’s part teamwork.  We are working together towards a goal.

How did I do?

I’m quite happy with what I accomplished.  I leaned out my body and feel much healthier.  My workouts are easier and higher quality.  I’m racing very well.  I have energy and, let’s face it, confidence.  That can’t be overstated.  It’s a young person’s world in the workforce and I’m at the point in my entropy where I’m fighting age bias.

That’s a conversation I don’t have to have when they all know I’m fitter than they are.

I also managed to reset and rewire a number of my eating habits for the better – change that will persist for the foreseeable future.

Numbers weren’t really the purpose of this 30-day diet reboot, but I started out over 187 pounds and finished up at 177.  11 pounds is not significant on my frame but it’s close to a 5% reduction.  I still can’t see my six-pack but I’m down a belt loop.

More importantly I’m loving my workouts and the amount of energy I have.  I’ve got no injuries or sore spots.  I feel great.  I like the way my clothes fit.  It’s all good.

Will I keep going?  Yes, I will.  Maybe not with as much focus, but the habits I’ve formed will carry over.  It works both ways.  Unhealthy habits are hard to break.  Good habits out up a fight as well.

Lessons learned

  1. Don’t pre-load. I made the mistake of scheduling the start of this reboot in the future.  I figured the holidays were not a good time to focus on nutrition.  As a result, I went way to far in the wrong direction in those last few weeks. I gave myself a license to eat and drink that cost me 6-7 pounds.  If Next time I do a diet reboot I won’t take as much runway.
  2. Meal prep is the key to staying on track.  You have to give yourself easy options.  Each weekend I make a week worth of packaged salads from kale and chard and spinach and all sorts of great veggies.  I also make my oil and vinegar dressing.  I also prepare some dinner that I can eat a couple days in a row.   If you don’t do this you’ll be at risk to fall off the plan when you are tired.
  3. Non-linear progress. I was a bit frustrated that those 6-7 pounds that I crammed in December didn’t just come off.  I was sure they would.  The human body does not care what you think it would do.
  4. I made sure to set myself for accountability.  I hired Rachel to check my logs every day.  I also committed to log every day.  This time I went above and beyond and wrote a blog post every day as well.  My goal was not only to get the community involved to see what I was doing and how I was doing it, but also to have the community keeping me on track.
  5. The win in these 30 days is rewiring your habits.  Breaking the momentum of unhealthy habits and building the momentum of healthy habits.  This way it is hard to go back to where you were before.  You’ve set up a series of habits that builds an emotional wall to back-sliding.
  6. 30 days isn’t 30 days. Because you are laying down the infrastructure of good habits the progress doesn’t stop at the end of 30 days.  I expect to keep leaning out as I train over the next 10 weeks into Boston.  This reboot sets me up on the glide path for that.
  7. Social situations. One of the big challenges of being on a diet reboot is all the people around you that you need to interact with.  This includes social events, like dinners and lunches and celebrations.  My strategy in these cases is to recognize the challenges for what they are and have a strategy going in.  Don’t be an A-hole but try to minimize the bad stuff.  Try to find a way to work around that birthday cake by taking a small portion.
  8. Change takes time. 30 days isn’t enough to create real change.  I didn’t creep up to an uncomfortable level in 30 days.  It took over a year.  That’s why I call it a reboot.  The reboot will give me the momentum I need to get lean for this spring training cycle and to stay lean through my ultra in the summer.
  9. Positive reinforcement. It great being an endurance athlete because you can feel the change.  The scale may not read what you want but you feel it in your workouts and races.  This way you get the positive feedback you need to keep going.
  10. Always another day. Bad days and bumps in the road happen.  You will fall off the wagon.  The key is to beat the average.  Do better the majority of the time and it will pay off in the long run.  There is always another day.  You can’t change the fact that you scarfed cookies, or in my case hummus, tomorrow is a new day.
  11. Looking at the world through lean eyes. The power of the reboot is that it changes your frame of reference.  You start looking at things differently.  You see the unhealthy choice people make and you try to do better yourself.  If you want lasting, significant change you have to break your frame of reference, you have to break the patterns – that’s what a reboot is good for.

I think this project was a success and I’m looking forward to carrying a lean lifestyle into a fast Boston Marathon and helping other see what is possible when you change the way you think.

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