January 06, 2020

A Bruise to My Ego

Well, Friends, I just couldn't hack it...

Admitting failure is tough. I felt SO determined that I was going to stick out the MAF two-week carbohydrate intolerance test; but I only last four days. That's the problem with making goals so public. On one hand, it helped me to stay on track because of my pride--I would be embarrassed to quit! On the other hand, I still feel like I need to stick something out when I feel that it's just not right for me.

And this CI test, even though it was only two weeks, was just not right for my body. I know my body very well, and I could feel it.

(Please don't be offended by my choice of memes in this post... I just found some of them so funny I had to use them!)

I was completely miserable, physically and mentally. I followed the advice that many of you gave, getting my electrolytes, plenty of water, and all that; I followed the food list right to the letter. But I lost all energy to the point where I couldn't even drag myself around the house. My mind felt super foggy all the time, my vision was getting blurry, and I had horrible insomnia (which compounded the issues). I know this probably would have gone away with time, but I was so crabby and irritated that I made the decision to quit the test.

Another thing that really bothered me (even before I started doing it) was that it was against everything I've ever "preached" on my blog. Doing this two-week CI test was just like the old me... the pre-weight-loss Katie, who was always trying new ways to lose weight, things that I knew I'd not be able to stick to, but tried anyways. (Granted, this wasn't necessarily for weight loss; but that was a big part of it.)

Ever since I lost the weight in 2009-2010, I have firmly believed the following:

1. Do not make any changes you aren't *willing* to do FOREVER. This includes giving up foods and/or groups of foods that I enjoy. (The key word is "willing". It doesn't mean that it must be done, but I believe that I must be willing to if that's what it takes.) This also may change over time. For example, I was willing to do Weight Watchers forever at some point, but now I won't do it.)

2. Eat a variety of foods in moderation. (This is pretty self-explanatory. Moderation goes a long way in lots of different parts of life!)

3. Only do what works for YOU; my way of eating doesn't work for everybody, just like others' way of eating may not work for me. I think everybody is different and needs to find what works best for them.

When I only got an hour and a half of sleep on Saturday night, I decide that was it. Pride be damned, I was going to eat some carbs.

Instead of totally pigging out and bingeing on carbs/sugar, I actually immediately jumped into counting calories, which has always worked well for me before (both in how I feel and in dropping the weight).

Counting calories isn't my ideal lifestyle (I don't love it), but it's something I'm WILLING to do... even if it's forever (see rule number one above). Jerry was so frustrated and hated the two-week CI test just as much as I did, and he texted me, "I'd rather count calories for the rest of my life than do this for one more day!" So he was on board as well.

This morning, I made an old staple, just a little healthier. Oatmeal with blueberries and natural almond butter:

Going into the new year, I knew I was eating way too much sugar and not enough healthy things (see rule number two above) so this experience has made me want to clean up my diet. I want to eat the way I did when I was feeling my best: small portions of foods I enjoy.

I also like to eat on a schedule so that I don't think about food all day long: I used to do 8:00, 12:00, 4:00, and 8:00, but I might change that up now with Jerry working straight days. I don't mind going long periods between meals, so I might do 6:15, 12:00, 6:30, and 8:30.

I used to drink 2-3 quarts of water a day, and I would like to do that again (I have been recently, since I started the CI test). I want to cut back on the sugar/sweets so I only have it for my nighttime treat. I've actually had cravings for the very old school treat I used to have when I was losing weight: a chai latte and a single dark chocolate Dove. I used to make chai lattes by heating up milk with a chai tea bag and then adding a tablespoon of honey. It was SO good!

This (four-day) experiment made me want to focus more on using whole foods with as few ingredients as possible. I may use convenience foods now and then when I feel the need to, but the one thing I really liked about the two-week CI test was using whole foods. I have a whole handmade cookbook of recipes that I make frequently, so I'll go through that and pick out the ones that contain the most wholesome ingredients and use those.

Despite not making it through the two-week CI test, I feel good about the change. I feel good that I'm doing what *I* believe in and have always written about on my blog. Since I started eating carbs again yesterday, I feel a million times better already.

The big question is: How will this affect my MAF (maximum aerobic function) training?

Well, this is where I have been very conflicted. On one hand, I want to continue with the super low heart rate and zero speed work just to see what happens. But since I won't be doing Dr. Maffetone's recommended nutrition plan, I may want to adjust to what worked really well for me a couple of years ago (only toned down so that I don't get burnt out and feel over trained).

Ultimately, I decided I would like to go back to my old way of doing it. I just spent three months running at nothing but MAF heart rate (albeit a higher rate), so I've built up a small base. I don't think adding a little bit of speed work is going to hurt things, and I think it'll give me some variety to actually look forward to. I'm not going to make it as tough as when I trained for my 10K, however.

When I trained for my 10K, I used a MAF rate of 180 minus my age, which was 34 at the time, so my rate was 146. I was also using 146 bpm over the last few months. Now, with my age being 37 (almost 38!) and having taken the MAF test--which gave me the rate of 133, due to the fact that I take a daily medication for bipolar--I'm going to do a bit of a compromise.

I'll start with a rate of 142 (180 minus my soon-to-be-age of 38) and see how that works. I know there is probably a reason for deducting the 10 beats per minute due to the daily medication, but I was taking daily meds when I was training at 146 bpm as well back in 2015-2016. That heart rate worked very well for me! I saw amazing progress in my health and fitness.

I was also following the 80/20 running method (which Dr. Maffetone actually agrees with--once you've built a base, if you'd like, you can add in up to 20% of the time spent running as speed work, going over MAF rate). The best example of all of this put together is my "Your Best 10K Plan". I did all the 80/20 math and used the MAF heart rate for slow runs.

I'm going to make a modified version of it for myself to use now--only four days a week, and only one of those days will include speed work. The other three days will be strictly at my MAF rate of 142 bpm. (No more than 20% of the time spent on speed work will be over my MAF rate)

I will do a MAF run test every month and see how it goes. If I'm not seeing results, then maybe I'll try reducing my MAF rate back down to 133 (ugh!) and walk/jog again. It's not so much that I mind the walk/jogging, but doing it on the treadmill is going to be VERY difficult because of the constant increase and decrease of speed. We've had a mild winter, but it's only just begun--I expect it's going to get crazy cold and wintery by February, and I know I'll have a hard time wanting to go outside.

I realize all of this goes completely against what I wrote about a few days ago. But I was very unhappy with the two-week CI test, as well as going against what I always "preached" about weight loss. I didn't even quit on a whim--I wanted to quit the test SO badly on Saturday, but I gave myself the night to think about it and decide on Sunday. I think I made the right decision (for me).

I'd still like to continue to write about the weight loss and running stuff this year, because I really want to work on getting back down to my goal weight by the 10-year anniversary of when I reached a "normal" BMI.

And then I'd like to really focus on training (not super hard, but very focused) on the 2021 Indy Mini. My sister already said she plans to do it, along with some of her friends. I know Jerry wants to do it, too. I'd like to make it something to really look forward to and work toward.

So, I thank you all so much for the suggestions and tips on the carbohydrate intolerance test. I really, truly appreciate it. I feel bad if I let anyone down who was looking forward to the results of my "experiment", but I just couldn't take it anymore. I have so much respect for anyone that is able to stick it out! It just shows we're all different and we need to find what works for us.

Now, I have a ton of vegetables in my fridge, just waiting to go bad, so I'm going to make a menu for the next couple of days to use them up ;)  I LOVE roasted cauliflower with garlic and parmesan cheese, so I'm thinking that will be part of dinner tonight!


  1. Since your goal was to see if there are foods that limiting or eliminating would improve how you feel, you might want to try doing the FODMAP diet. This is a specific diet used by gastroenterologists to help diagnose problems such as IBS. It can be very useful in determining if you have a problem with a specific food. It also is not an arbitrary getting rid of carbs type diet. The foods which are eliminated in the first phase are those which are short chain carbohydrates which are often poorly absorbed. You start with substituting low-FODMAP foods for those which are on the high-FODMAP list for 2-6 weeks, and then gradually add foods back in, to see how they impact how you feel. Jerry may even have this recommended by a doctor if he goes to a gastroenterologist (I did, for similar issues). It likely would be more useful than the carb elimination diet in the long run.

  2. I totally get not wanting to quit something you committed to but you know your body and knew it wasnt for you. I recently tried a 3 day cleanse and not eating any foods and just some icky shakes killed my energy and I am a EMT/firefighter so I need mental clarity and energy. So after day and half I had to stop.

  3. Katie - i've been reading your posts for a very long time and this is the first time i comment. Please don't feel bad about making it only 4 days. It was an experiment after all and obviously the experiment was successful in the fact that it showed you that this was not for you. Wishing you all the best

  4. Hey, you don't know unless you try! And now you know that the low carb life definitely is not suited for you! I give you so much credit for making it this far! Honestly, I wouldn't have made it past one hour ;)

  5. Don't feel bad about not finishing the CI test when it made you feel so sick and out of sorts. You have to do what is best for you. Hopefully the winter won't be too bad for you so you can get out to run. Here we've got lots of snow and ice on the ground until spring, so no walking outside for me.

  6. I'm proud of you for knowing what is right for you and doing it! Everyone handles food differently and if your body needs carbs as energy, eat them! If your body feels sluggish with carbs, don't!
    Instead of looking at this experiment as a failure, I would look at it as a success. You truly listened to your body and that is something to feel good about!

  7. Out of curiosity, are you an A positive blood type? I have tried the low carb diet and my weight usually responds pretty well but I feel terrible. Even after months of it. I am nauseated by too much meat protein - always have been -- especially chicken. I end up with a low level of depression and I am not prone to depression or anxiety. My body responds better to carbs and plant proteins than keto. I totally agree that what matters most is knowing your body. Also, the test was to show what your body prefers and how it reacts. I would say the test was successful :)

    1. You just hit the nail on the head! I am also a+ and that is EXACTLY what happens to me when I try a low carb diet. It got so bad that I woke up from a dead sleep puking. I was so confused because the diet worked wonders for my Mom! I thought it was just me, but this makes me feel like I am not alone (or crazy).

  8. Stick to what you believe in ! I am vaguely curious about the two week experiment, but absolutely not gonna do it myself, so I can't be disappointed if you don't, haha!

  9. I'm a firm believer that everyone is different, so it's foolish for us to think we would all thrive doing the same thing! You are doing great!

    For me, a low carb diet is what makes me feel best physically. I will note for anyone who may see my comment, that electrolytes when starting keto or low carb as astronomically important. "Keto flu" can be completely avoided if you make sure you are getting those electrolytes in! Headache, fatigue, nausea, etc., Especially when starting can all be improved on with hydration and electroyles.

    Also, insomnia can be a side effect, though it does subside... but definitely one of the worst symptoms in my opinion. I need sleep!


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