If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I have started sharing my joy of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. This year I one of my goals was to use food as a part of my training. I have always had a relatively healthy diet, albeit with a big sweet tooth, but this year I wanted to try to take it a step further.
Last year I met my friend Lottie Bildirici. I was fooling around on Instagram and looking at images that were liked by people whom I follow. Somehow I wound up on Lottie’s instagram page https://instagram.com/runningonveggies/ and I started scrolling through the pictures. The food not only looked healthy, but also delicious. I was curious. I started following her right then and there and began to look forward to her postings. Fast forward a few months and I was planning my very first “Podium Retreats with Kara Goucher”. I thought that it would be great to have someone come as a speaker who cooks healthy meals, but also makes them less daunting, someone we could be inspired by, not intimidated by. I reached out to her, we spoke on the phone, and in an instant a friendship was born. Lottie came out to Napa and we got along like sisters. I wanted to carry forward what I had learned from her, and as I was struggling with an injury over the holidays (and gaining weight thanks to my mother’s amazing baking skills) I decided that 2015 would be the year that I would explore my diet. I would listen to Lottie, try new foods and recipes, and I would see if I could recover from my injury (which required a January surgery) quicker and feel stronger.
At the same time that I was starting to take Lottie and all of her advice very seriously, I came across a course on the web called Go Sugar Free. It was a course that was 67 days long. You had to give up sugar for the entirety of the course, but you could do it at your own pace and under your own restrictions. I told my family that I was thinking about doing this and, not being mean, they laughed. “You?”, my sister asked, “but you love your dessert at night!” I started to think that they were right, that there was no way I could go 67 days without sugar. But, then I just said to myself, “this is a challenge you are going to accept.” I talked to Adam about doing it with me and then even convinced a friend of mine from far away to do it with me, as well. I am shocked to say that I loved doing Go Sugar Free! It was tough, and Adam and I decided to be pretty strict about it. We didn’t use honey, or pre-made sauces that contained any sugar at all. All of the bread I normally eat, pasta sauce, dried fruit, yogurt, etc., gone. The only thing we allowed ourselves was to sweeten things with dates. Everything else was off the table. I’m not going to say that it was easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I got a daily lesson plan from Jacqueline Smith, who runs the program, and that helped a lot. After we got through the first couple of weeks it began to be really interesting. We were learning about new grains and spices that I never knew existed. We had an incredible recipe index where we would try new foods and also I used Lottie big time to help me think outside the box. When I really wanted sugar I made her almond butter banana bread or her banana ice cream.
The point is it was a journey that was totally worth taking and left me feeling educated and empowered. I didn’t lose a ton of weight during the process although I did lose some inches around my waist. But that was never my motivation. I wanted to see how I would feel. My skin cleared up, I slept better than I have in years, I had more energy in the afternoons, and I stopped getting that “starving” feeling between meals. Now that the course is over, I mostly have stayed eating the same. Although, I do allow myself to buy a sandwich at the store again without asking to see the ingredients in the bread, I also do have some sweets once or twice a week. But, my taste buds have changed. I crave more savory, I look forward to my cooking time, and I have broken my addiction to artificial sweetener in my coffee!
I am not saying that I eat perfectly all the time. That would be a lie. But I have made a few changes that have made me feel stronger, more focused, and happier. Check out Lottie’s website http://www.runonveg.com for inspiration on healthier plant-based eating and check out Jacqueline’s course Go Sugar Free if you are interested in learning a ton about food and sugar. I’m not preaching here, just trying to spread the love of a few changes I have made that have made a big change in my life. Happy eating!