04.27 2015

Feeling good

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 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 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!



  1. Ayesha Akhtar on April 27, 2015 1:13 pm said:

    Kara – that’s so great! I recently did the Whole Life Challenge (and blogged about it at and it was also a no sugar, no bread type of challenge for 8 weeks. I did it primarily to break my addiction for dessert. I’d been following Lottie for some time and so cutting out refined sugar was something I’d dabbled with before. Coming out of the challenge I’ve learned to make healthy desserts to satisfy that sweet tooth – it’s empowering, isn’t it? I did learn on that challenge however that I cannot give up bread. I need it – and as an endurance athlete it is important to me 🙂 I love watching you explore your food! Keep it up – Ayesha

  2. Kayla Atkinson on April 27, 2015 1:17 pm said:

    Hey Kara!
    I have followed you forever, ran D1 in college and am continuing running today. Wondering how you feel about the fact that Nuun contains sorbitol- I really try to stay away from fake sugars and was surprised to see that Nuun is sweetened by it! Thanks!

    • Kayla,
      The new nuun formulation does not contain sorbitol. It will be available shortly!

  3. megan on April 27, 2015 1:19 pm said:

    Glad to see that you’re so happy and doing well, Kara. I gave up sugar this year as well because my cholesterol was borderline high and increased dietary sugar correlates to high cholesterol. I was able to break my sugar addiction and I feel so much better as a result. I’m happy that you are talking about this. I hope that you can bring awareness to the pervasiveness of sugar in our culture – food manufacturers sneak it into everything, and our food labels do not differentiate between sugar that occurs naturally in food and added sugar.

  4. Tami on April 27, 2015 1:32 pm said:

    As a huge fan of yours, this is something that I truly believe by you sharing this journey, others will benefit. Share the love I say and help others live a life of wellness. My family has been plant based for a couple years and yes, we do not eat perfectly 24/7 but no processed foods or animal byproducts in our home. And like you, I have a sweet tooth and all my treats are made with dates or local raw honey. Thank you for giving us runners an inspiring role model on and off the course. Cheers, Plants & Hugs!

  5. Christina Hogue on April 27, 2015 2:33 pm said:

    This is great! It really is amazing how much better you feel & look when you watch what you are eating…January 1st of 2014, my goal was to go 6 mths with no refined sugar (I could still eat fruits & sweeten occasionally with organic agave or maple syrup) & I have kept with that since that day…I feel so good & my skin is clearer…my body feels “clean” (if that makes any sense lol)…happy for you : )

  6. Lottie on April 27, 2015 2:37 pm said:

    Kara! I love this! I love your honestly and commitment to health. Its a crucial aspect to training for every athlete. We have become like family, Sisters! You continue to inspire me and many others.
    Lots of love

  7. Mike on April 27, 2015 3:45 pm said:

    What are you future running plans and goals?

    • I am hoping to run a short track season, run some good summer road races, and get ready for the Olympic Trials in 2016 to try to make my 3rd Olympic Team.

  8. Amanda on April 27, 2015 5:25 pm said:

    Mmmm…as I’m eating my cake for dinner, which I should henceforth throw out. Thanks for the post! Sugar addiction is (clearly) something I’ve struggled with for a long time, and can be very detrimental to the runner’s diet. I’ll be looking these sites up as soon as I finish my cake 🙂

  9. Millie Marcus on April 28, 2015 8:29 am said:

    What do you think about the sweetner bai5 uses? How do you sweeten coffee and tea?

    • I have not heard of that sweetner but I will look into it and ask Jacqueline about it. As for my coffee and tea I can’t believe it but I just put milk in mine now.

  10. Kel on April 28, 2015 9:55 am said:

    Check out these two food blog sites –
    Pinch of Yum (completed the sugar course you did)
    Iowa Girl Eats (gluten free)
    I enjoy recipes from both of them and they are both from the midwest. thanks! And best wishes to you in your running!!

    • Follow and love them both! Thanks!

  11. Lisa on April 28, 2015 11:46 am said:

    Kara – Thanks for sharing and I am interested in the Go Sugar Free plan. Just curious about your fueling strategy during long workouts. Do you still fuel with foods that contain sugar during or just before a workout?

    • There is a lesson plan on this during the course, but I really stayed clear of all sugar during this process. I was coming back from surgery so wasn’t training as hard as normal, but I still didn’t use sugar. You can make it as strict as you want and could use sugar for workouts if you wanted. Jacqueline has great ideas and she can help you with this.

  12. Thomas Hines on May 2, 2015 12:09 pm said:

    Oh boy, this makes me feel guilty after making no bake cookies this morning using 2 cups of sugar !!!

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