Big Rock Candy Mountain

Today we bring you the second in a series of guest posts from one of our earliest followers.  Kent is still trying to unlock the magic promised by a food challenge for the 30 days of April.  The first post in the series is here.  You can follow him @klassman or read about his training at

Sugar.  Damnable sugar.  The Whole30 does not abide by added sweeteners.  Sugar is itself necessary for good health and all carbohydrates are eventually broken down into simple sugars to fuel the body.  But sugar has been my mountain to climb for the second week of the nutrition challenge.

I’m learning that added sugars are in just about everything, including all of your favorite health foods.  From the “oses” like sucrose and glucose to cane sugar, rice syrup and other natural products, the overwhelming majority of manufactured foods are prepared with sugars.  I expect it in cookies and cakes, but who knew it was in every drink, rubbed on bacon and in soups and salad dressings.

My response has been to curse, disdain and generally throw nasty glances at unsuspecting food labels everywhere.  However, a reprieve from the constant headache – no doubt brought on by the radical reduction of sugar from my diet – did emerge early on day 11.  That is right: After 11 days of clean eating my body finally started to react as if it wasn’t being punished.

Progress has been made.  First, I’m still learning more about food and the relationship between what goes in my body and how I feel.  I mean last term expansively.  I have an increased awareness of emotions, attitude and physical capabilities and the link to what I’m eating.  Second, I’m no longer experiencing the near-constant hunger that has previously tracked closely with an increased exercise workload and my workouts have picked up for the past three weeks.  Third, it is easier to pre-identify situations that will cause a severe challenge to my willpower.  For example, I brought an apple to an in-office reception where I knew beer and caramel corn would be served.  The temptation is every bit as strong and the urges have not abated, but I’m better able to anticipate now.

There are still some big hurdles to get over however.  It may be more appropriate to say that I’m doing a Whole29 plan instead of the 30 days of April.  Weekends present a recurring 4-6 hour challenge that I’ve yet to find a way around.  Let me back up for a moment.

I’m training for a 2.4 mile open water swim early next month, a Half Ironman triathlon on June 2 and a full Ironman – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run – in late July.  I’m also following a fairly strict paleo diet plan and a core tenet advocated by paleo enthusiasts is that long, aerobic and repetitive activities are discouraged.  In shorthand, paleo folks like varied exercises that are short in duration and tend toward explosive movements requiring the use of multiple parts of the body.  Or, Ironman training is not simpatico.  As a result, I have not found a Whole30 compliant substitute for the nutrition necessary to fuel my body through long weekend workouts.

Last weekend, I drank Gatorade and instead of my go-to favorite Powerbars and took Bonk Breakers on the road with me.  I figured the Bonk Breakers had more natural foods – even if it included grains and peanuts – than the Powerbar so it must be better for me.  Perhaps it was but there is no doubt that Sunday morning I paid for it with a full-on sugar hangover.  This weekend, I’ll revert to a trusted alternative to high-sugar drinks and will use Nuun to help with issue of electrolyte repletion, but there will be about five hours on Saturday morning where I’m not Whole30 compliant.

Five to six hours each weekend adds up to about one full day.  Like I said, I may be on the Whole29 plan.



2 thoughts on “Big Rock Candy Mountain

  1. wow, that is quite a lot of training and food regimens! i am all about being healthy, but i feel that i’ve got to draw the line somewhere, you know? between marathon training and crossfit, i don’t have the time or energy to monitor everything i eat. maybe i would perform better if i ate even cleaner, but i think the stress of a strict diet might negate the positive effects… for me at least. good luck!

  2. Pingback: Nutrition Plan Versus Lifestyle | Workout Wonks

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