Monday, August 18, 2014

I Quit Sugar - 8 Week Wrap Up

I'm embarrassed to say how long this post has taken me to write. I pretty much went off the blog grid post Ragnar…life has been super busy with some changes (cryptic I know…I will share eventually) ahead so blogging just didn't enter my mind. BUT, I really wanted to get this recap up before I forgot about it all!

I Quit Sugar
Week 1
Week 2
Reading Food Labels - SUGAR 
Week 3
Week 4 
Week 5

Yeah yeah I know I didn't do a week 6, 7 or even 8 week recap, but they would have all been the same and really it was about slowly adding back in low sugar fruits and adjusting to a new normal way of eating for me and it went really well!

In our week 8 weekend read we got a little recap of the program so I thought I would summarize that and my thoughts on each week to bring everything together:

Week One - This was all about identifying fructose and why it is bad for us.  I had a pretty good handle on this before starting this program but it was good to hear everything again and be given more resources to read when I wanted.  I summarized why fructose is bad in my I Quit Sugar post.

Favorite recipe: Paleo veggie bread (still make this ALL the time) with avocado-feta smash
Not so favorite recipe: Berry omelet…eggs and fruit…didn't work for me :)

Week Two - The beginning of quitting ALL sugar for a few weeks to reset our bodies and remove the addictive nature of sugar from the brain essentially.  The message for week two was to eat more FAT. I have no problem doing this and instead of dessert after dinner now I usually have a few pieces of cheese. 

Favorite recipe: Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
Not so favorite recipe: The cauliflower fried rice, EWW and unfortunately most of this went in the trash.

Week Three - Still no sugar of any kind and we learned how to read labels.  What ever you got out of this process was really up to you and I really used this time to educate myself on the effects of sugar and how quitting for life would be a new lifestyle for me.  Seeing the amount of sugar in products I used to consume on a daily basis (uh…Luna Bars and Picky Bars) was pretty eye opening, but now I just no longer eat them, simple!

Favorite recipe: Quinoa porridge
Not so favorite recipe: NONE really, I really enjoyed everything I ate in week 3.

Week Four - This was clean week meaning no alcohol, caffeine or gluten for just 5 days. Since I knew quitting caffeine would just make me a crazy person I decided to not cut that out, especially since it was just 5 days.  I did pretty well this week and didn't think it was too different from the other weeks since the program is pretty gluten-free as it is and I'm not a big drinker anyways.

Favorite recipe: Sweet potato salmon cakes
Not so favorite recipe: I can't remember anything I didn't like this week either!

Week Five - The last week of absolutely no sweeteners or sugar! During week 5 we were given some tactics to deal with the skeptics we may come along when describing the program.  Really I don't have a problem saying it's pure science people…your body cannot and does not process fructose in a way that is healthy.  If you want to eat mass quantities of it be my guest, but it's not for me anymore. If you want to discuss more happy to do so, just no judging please :).

Yumm yumm granola!

Favorite recipe: My take on Cocco-nutty granola that takes out the nuts and adds oats.  I still make this every other week…sooo delicious!
Not so favorite recipe: Not a recipe but stuffing my face with fried food and beer while on a mini vaca…it was my first taste of what my body does when it doesn't like what I put it into it after being on this program, lesson learned!

Week's 6-8 - The last three weeks of the program were about introducing small amounts of sugar and non-fructose sweeteners (brown rice syrup and stevia) into our diets. The goal is to ALWAYS stay under about 25 grams of sugar per day and this is something I plan on continuing for life.  I used these weeks try making my own meal plans, eating out, and just finding the right balance.

Recent eats have included the best birthday lunch ever of kale salad with garbanzo beans and parmesan cheese with a side of kombucha, sweet potato post with chicken and green beans, and mac and cheese with chicken jalapeño sausage and sautéed mushrooms and spinach (grown up mac as I like to call it).

So what sugar do I eat? I have to admit, happily, my sweet tooth is literally gone so I don't crave it much anymore.  However, low fructose fruits like raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries have been making a regular occurrence in yogurt or just as a snack.  A co-worker has been bringing in bags of blueberries from his garden and my work campus is overloaded with blackberries!  Aside from berries I've been enjoying a few squares of dark (85% cacao or higher) chocolate on occasion and not stressing as much about the sugar content of bread or other condiments with I'm out to eat.

How to I feel after all of this? In a nutshell I feel NORMAL again.  I don't think I even remembered what normal felt like as I've been dealing with stomach issues since I was literally a small kid…just ask my parents…they have stories :).  I didn't loose any weight, but my weight remained CONSTANT, I never felt bloated or run down, and things just moved through my system in a normal way…if you know what I'm saying ;).

The I Quit Sugar program has truly opened my eyes to how much sugar we eat, where sugar is hiding and how great you can feel if you just don't eat it.  I've been able to eat as much gluten and dairy as I want (something I didn't think I could do before) without feeling sick and can still enjoy a glass of wine (or 2 or 3) and chocolate when I want as well.

Join me for the next 8- week program!

I CANNOT recommend this program enough. For the roughly $150 bucks you get amazing meal plans, amazing support on the forums and access to experts and information in a very easy to digest and understand format.  I was lucky enough to be asked back to be an ambassador for their next 8-week program beginning on September 25 so if you sign up I'll be in the forums to help you out.

If you have any questions about the program just ask! If you sign up be sure to let me know…it's always more fun to go through programs like these with someone.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

So after recovering and thinking about this past weekend for a few days I decided I don't want to draw out a 3 or 4 part recap and I'm just going to shove it all in one super long blog post…so get ready!  Plus, you really only need to hear MY recap, you can go read my teammates blogs for their recaps:

This was my second year doing Ragnar ultra style and my 6th year running the Northwest Passage race. This course NEVER gets old and I got to run on some new ground this year due to our kind of complicated running schedule.  Nicole manipulated an excel spreadsheet so each of us ran 4 times and that we all got our longest run over with in the beginning of the relay. I ended up covering 35.1 miles over the course which included long gradual uphills on major roads that oil tankers speed by on, long flat river winding roads, running over deception pass, and one super duper long downhill to finish off the 35.1 miles <---you could think that would be glorious but after that many miles the pounding on the road from the downhill did not feel pleasant!  #runnerproblems I know ;)

Start line jump pic!
Team Six Pack With Racks (#199) started at 9AM Friday morning and began the long journey towards Langley on Whidbey Island full of excitement, some nerves, and a van FULL of food, water, and Nuun!

Run #1 - 12.1 miles (started at 11AM Friday) - 2:01:13 - 10:00 pace
My first run was leg 3 and 4 of the course and while the elevation chart may look intimidating it's pretty gradual and rolling really not as hard as it looks.  It was HOT and a bit humid during this run and for most of it you are running on the shoulder of a major road that oil tankers drive down…meaning you get all kinds of road dirt on you.  

Off I go!
I consistently ran about 10:00 miles (my goal!) and ran through the first exchange a little after 8 miles in and received a quick water refill from my teammates. I felt strong the whole way and the last few miles were slightly downhill so that was nice.  I handed off to Marilyn just outside of Bellingham, chugged some coconut water, ate a sandwich and wiped all the road dirt off of me...I felt like a new woman after all of that :).
Coming in to handoff to Marilyn. Ragnar has FREE race photos BTW, just one more reason they are awesome!

Unfortunately, my body did not recover property and I started to get a headache after this run that kind of ruined the rest of Friday. I managed to still cheer for my teammates, but the small headache turned into a light migraine and I got increasingly nervous I would be miserable running my next run.  I stayed super hydrated, caffeinated, and made sure to eat properly but nothing was really working :(.

Myself, Robyn, Travis, Nicole and Jordanne at the Bellingham High exchange

#teamlauren at at exchange! It was run running into Oiselle's Birdmachine team!

Run #2 - 10.66 miles (started about 9PM Friday) - 1:47:27 - 10:05 pace

These miles covered leg 15 and 16 and took our team south through Mount Vernon on very FLAT road.  I decided to listen to podcasts to try and get my mind off my headache and just hoped that running magically cured my migraine.  GOOD kind of did. My head didn't hurt during the run and I just got in a groove and ticked away the miles.  I ran by a lot of farms and saw cows and alpacas sleeping and only heard a couple of scary rustling in the bushes next to me.  Oh and it rained...the rain started just as I started running and was basically a drizzle storm for the first 5-6 miles.  Luckily, it felt nice since it was so humid out and once it stopped I ran enough after to dry off.

After I handed off to Marilyn, I got dry and settled into one of the van seats to try and just close my eyes to kick the rest of my migraine out of my head for good.  I may have slept for about 30 minutes but remaining vertical for about an hour helped.  As most of us (who weren't running of course) tried to sleep a bit Travis (van driver and husband extraordinaire to Marilyn) made sure the next runner got to the exchange and picked up the one coming in...he rocked!  I ended up having a very life changing cup of coffee at a gas station around 3AM and felt totally cured of my headache!

Run #3 - 6.44 miles (started about 5AM Saturday) - 1:03:56 - 9:56 pace
I was pretty excited about this leg. It was leg 23 over Deception Pass and it felt so awesome to not only run over this beautiful bridge, but be the one who took my team from the "mainland" to Whidbey Island.  
Deception Pass selfie
After I ran over the bridge it started raining pretty hard and then the wind came and I started to get a little pissed that I drew the major short end of the stick when it came to running in the rain.  I don't mind the rain but when you add the wind I just got too cold.  I ran the last couple of miles as fast as I could so I could just get dry and warm again.  Poor Marilyn had to run in the rain for the first part of her run but I think it stopped shortly after.  My legs were actually hurting pretty bad at this point in the relay and I had some hip pain that was making me a little nervous.  Add to that 3 blisters forming from running with wet socks and I was turning into a mess.  BUT, the fact that I only had 5.7 miles left left me very hopeful that I would complete all my miles relatively unscathed.  
Run #4 - 5.86 miles (started about 1PM Saturday) - 57:50:70 - 9:54 pace
As I took off on my last run I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face the whole time.  It didn't matter that my hip was hurting, my blisters were rubbing on my toes, or that I nauseous from no sleep...nothing was stopping me from running these last miles as fast as I could.  The majority of this run, leg 32, was downhill and while normally I would love that it made the pounding on my very tired body a bit more painful.
Funny how I really thought I was sprinting to the finish, but this photo makes me look like a snail...haha!
Handing off to Marilyn for the last time was the best feeling in the world and knowing I ran every single one of those 35.1 miles as strong as I could made the sense of accomplishment that much more gratifying!
I took my last Shower Pill shower and got ready to watch Bethany bring it all home for us!!
Come on Bethany!
And just like that, a little over 32 hours after we started we crossed the finish line together and wrapped up an amazing 196 mile journey full of laughs, new friendships, a little bit of pain, but mostly a huge sense of accomplishment as a team.

And then we ate pizza!

 I've said it before and I'll say it again...the best thing about Ragnar is that is takes a normally very individualized sport and turns it into a team sport.  Sometimes the most memorable moments from the whole experience don't happen while running...they may happen while just driving along in the van and learning one of your teammates brothers is a New Kids on the Block member ( is TRUE!), sharing upcoming new life changes with each other (cryptic I know!), and planning the next relay only minutes after finishing this one.

Every single year I've run this race I haven't known one or more of my teammates beforehand and every single year I end the weekend with new friendships, lasting memories, and a huge smile on my face. Thank you Robyn, Marilyn, Nicole, Jordanne, Bethany and Travis for making the weekend one for the record books!

QUESTION: Who is already excited for 2015 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage?


I Quit Sugar Update:

Okay, I'm done being sappy...just a quick I Quit Sugar update for you all if you are curious. Next week is the final week of the program and the past two weeks I've really just focused on making no sugar part of my life now. I successfully navigated Ragnar without sugar and even without running fuel (minus Nuun of course...that is as necessary as blood!) and am confident that eliminating sugar from my diet is definitely the life for me.  I plan on posting a week 6, 7, 8 recap at the end so stay tuned. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Six Pack With Racks Success

I plan on posting a recap or two or three soon but I just have to post some photos real quick and say what an amazing experience this was.  Even though it was my second year on an ultra Ragnar team, I didn't feel any less nervous about running 35.1 miles over this past weekend and sitting on my couch tonight I still can't quite believe what my team accomplished this weekend. 

Things weren't always pretty and I battled a migraine, blisters, some pretty intense hip pain and running in heat and pouring rain...but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.  As I powered through my last mile on Whidbey Island on Saturday afternoon I couldn't help but smile at the amazing accomplishment and be thankful that I am even able to endure an adventure like Ragnar! Being able to share it with 5 other amazing ladies and 1 insanely supportive driver was the best part and I couldn't have done it without each one of them.

Robyn, me, Marilyn, Nicole, Jordanne, and Bethany!

Team Six Pack With Racks finished Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage in 32 hours, 17 minutes!

This experience was even more memorable being an ambassador for both Nuun and Ragnar.  Nuun kept myself and my team hydrated, caffeinated, and energized throughout the whole relay and Ragnar put on yet again a flawless event.  They had more teams than ever this year but you would have never known...more port-o-potties, larger exchanges, and amazing volunteers made everything run seamlessly!

Part of my team reppin Nuun and Ragnar!  Sorry your head got cut off Travis :)
As we rode the ferry home on Saturday evening we brainstormed our next relay and even creating our own cross country relay (craziness I know!) and sang "for he's a jolly good fellow" to our driver all I thought was that I never wanted this feeling of accomplishment, friendship and fun to end!

For now I'll just have to re-live the experience with photos, memories, texts and tweets from teammates and hope that this Ragnar hangover never ends!