Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Triathlete's Dilemma

It’s clearly been a while since we last spoke, and that is entirely my fault. For the last 2 months I have been focusing all my energy on a new goal - becoming an endurance athlete, specifically a triathlete. The combination of distance swimming, biking and running have proven to be one of the most awe inspiring and respect demanding events of my life. I've never been more challenged or fulfilled physically.

And while I have enjoyed countless benefits from training for such a task - better physique, higher levels of energy, more mental discipline - I have suffered a serious degradation in one of my most coveted relationships. Food and I have become very distant over the last 8 weeks, and I honestly haven't decided how I feel about that. My mentality has changed from someone who looks at a piece of tiramisu and swoons, who tastes wine and indulges, to someone who sees cheese and stands down because he knows it will weigh him down in the pool and is too much saturated fat for his body to process for fuel efficiency.

What happened to me???

I have been in a maelstrom of self-conflict, fighting between two sides of the same coin. I love food, but food is a big part of training for triathlons. One would think that burning up to 1,000 calories in a workout would earn you the right to eat whatever you want, but alas. You have to consider the balance of carbs, protein and fat. Incorporate the timing of meals. Layer in the types of carbs and proteins you are ingesting - are they slow release, quick absorption, and should I be eating these now, before or after my race? What's the all in caloric intake I need? What are the components of nutrition best suited for performance? All these things swirl in my head as I combat the urges to bath myself in ice cream, cookie cakes and lots and lots of brandy. The biggest problem in this lifestyle is its scientifically proven that it is impossible for a salmon burger to taste as good as a medium rare kobe beef burger with melted American cheese and whole seed mustard. Healthy and tasty eating are almost naturally diametrically opposed.

So what have I done? I have tried to approach eating as a part of training, with a clear plan, consistency and determination. I have slipped and gorged on pizza and bbq. And I have paid the price for such with cramps, stomach aches and sluggish physical performance. I can't drink like I used to. One glass of wine gets me woozy. Yes, I am now the cheapest of dates. It is a day to day learning process, but I am determined to find a way to enjoy flavorful, filling foods without sacrificing the science of nutrition training a triathlete needs.

Buy stock in Whole Foods...they will be getting ALL of my paycheck.

- The UE


lemnada said...

Call me next time you go out. I'll take your shots of tequila for ya ;)

Tamika B said...

Cute. I actually think Salmon Burgers taste better then a Kobe Beef burger -:)! I wish you the best with your triatholon! Yes foodies when you are seriously training healthy heating and little alcohol is very important. If not you will feel it in your body and performance.