Wednesday, March 11, 2015

To count or not to count

On Vancouver Island it seems the summer came a little early. I don't mind one bit though, it's making those long training hours totally worthwhile. 

So after this week I will have finished 2 cycles of Base 1 training. My training load is still fairly light in comparison to what it will be come June/July but I am still working hard. With all of this training I thought I would feel fantastic, but sadly no. I have struggled with some health issues over the course of the years but I've been working hard alongside my ND to figure out what is going on. I'm feeling better than I was 2 years ago and I do have great days but occasionally I still feel exhausted and not due to training. So I decided to look a little deeper.
I've never really worried about my calorie intake since I'm a plant based athlete. I eat good, whole, clean foods. We rarely eat out. I make all of our meals from scratch. I don't eat any meat, I don't consume any dairy. I even make my own home made vegan cheeses. So what am I doing wrong?

A few weeks ago I decided to check and see exactly how many calories I need a day without exercise. I figured I should at least have a benchmark of what my regular day to day should be. Keep in mind I have a fairly physical job that has me on my feet for up to 12 hours. I plugged in my hight, weight, age, sex, general activeness. Turns out I need about 1700 calories a day. Not bad, but that is without doing any exercise at all. Now that I've figured out one piece of the nutritional puzzle I thought I better take it a step further and track my daily calorie intake. Maybe I do over eat?
So I downloaded the App Fitnesspal.
It's a free App and the best part is it connects to Strava and I'll explain later why this is so awesome.

So after a day of tracking my food I was bang on. Definitely consuming the right amount of calories. So where was I going wrong? This is where connecting the Strava App to the Fitnesspal App is game changing.
After doing my workout for the day I connected my Strava info to the Fitnesspal App. Sure enough I had burned way more calories than I ever imagined. So here I am at 4pm and I have another 1500 to consume. Seriously. I have been under eating for who knows how long. The lightbulb went off and it all came crashing down. I was tired all of the time because I was lacking so many calories. I felt ridiculous for not looking into this sooner. I should have know better. Above all though, I was glad to solve my mystery. To celebrate and get more calories I decided to make my self an iced almond latte.
Unfortunately it only has 50 calories so I had to eat a lot more food. 

After my realization of lacking major calories I have began tracking my food and training daily. I'm now 2 weeks in and I have to tell you I am feeling amazing. I have way more energy, I'm sleeping so well and my workouts are also going well. I now plan my food around the workouts for that day. So for days like Mondays where I only swim and do weights I don't need as many calories verses the days like Saturday or Sundays when I am running and cycling therefore needing substantially more calories. 
I cannot emphasize enough at how easy it is to track food and calories through these combined apps. Every time I load my garmin onto my computer Strava automatically loads it (I do have it set up that way). The food tracking is also pretty easy and straight forward. It even has a barcode scanner for packaged foods. 

So now that I am back on track and feeling fine I got out for a fabulous 2 1/2 hour ride with my very good buddy. I love spending time with this hard core chick.

We road all around Victoria and it was fabulous. 

So now I take advantage of my rest week and heal up my poor torn calf muscle so I can get back to my hard running efforts.