The Mental Journey of My New Plan

author : alicefoeller
comments : 3

Tackling Nutrition and Training at 46

It was October, and I was back home after completing Ironman Indiana 140.6. It brought back memories of completing Rev 3 Cedar Point in 2010, my first and only other full iron distance race.

Back then, I was 34 and after all the training all summer, I looked and felt great. I had a friend take a few photos in my bedroom, and the result is the photo I continue to use on my profile here at I loved my body in that condition, and wanted to keep it, even though I wasn't going to do another iron distance race for awhile. My kids were still young and it was too disruptive. I promised I wouldn't go that distance again until my kids could drive themselves.

Eleven years later, my oldest had a driver's license and a car, and a friend asked me if I would take advantage of the one year Ironman was putting on a full distance race in Muncie. I said yes.

But at the end of that race, although I had done all the same training and maybe even more, I looked a lot ... fluffier. 
No visible abs.
No ripped back muscles showing.
In fact, a bit of a muffin top. 

Now looks aren't everything, and I knew I was still in good condition, and very good condition for a 46-year-old woman, but I felt ripped off. If I put in 15 hours a week of exercise for a year, I should darn well be happy with my body. And I wasn't. I had to admit my eating had gotten pretty sloppy. And my race day nutrition was a disaster, too. So when I began to chart out my goals for 2022, nutrition and body composition were near the top of the list.

As it usual goes when we declare a goal, things happen to fulfill it. I don't personally believe this is because of any mystical force, but just because my mind has identified an issue and is now listening for solutions. 

So when a text arrived out of the blue from a long-time business contact and gym owner saying he was offering a virtual coaching program including nutrition coaching and a meal plan, I perked up. Ultimately I decided to engage Travis Thiel, owner of Cardinal Fitness, for the plan he proposed.

I had no idea what I was in for. I was looking to clean up my nutrition a little and have someone else do the meal planning, which I never enjoyed doing for the household. What I received turned my world on its head. You can follow my journey here, and I'm hoping the most dramatic parts are over now. I'm feeling pretty stable about everything, although I still get the munchies when I have work stress, and I now try to satisfy them with herbal tea, which is not at all the same.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Today was very challenging. First full day on new nutrition plan that I am paying for and choosing. I'm choosing it to elevate my athletic performance and body composition, but when I sit in front of a plate of a small amount of ground beef and a cup of broccoli, I feel like I'm being punished. I have to keep putting myself mentally back into an attitude of power and choosing.

I'm not physically starving.
Psychologically it's hard not to munch on a snack when I want to.

Day 2

Hill repeats today to get ready for hilly trail running in April. 6 times up and down a two-minute long hill.

Second day of eating on the new plan.
I definitely don't feel satisfied after I'm finishing each small meal, but I think it's mostly psychological. I'm looking forward to the next meal all the time and seeing what time it will be when I can eat again.

Felt good on my run. Good energy.

Day 3

New plan says I should do a strength workout two days a week. I was supposed to do that tonight but just completely forgot until it was time for bed. I feel like I keep letting myself down. Even though I'm sticking to the nutrition 100%.

When I share this experience with others, they keep encouraging me to use seasonings and things to make the mini-meals more exciting, since it's the same thing every day and it's pretty bland. When they say that, I'm not even interested. I feel like I'm being punished for something and I don't deserve for the food to taste good. I keep saying "I'm allowed to have..." and using language like that. It's very disempowering and I know it. I'm feeling like a victim of this nutrition plan.

Day 4

I talked with some friends today about my struggles mentally and emotionally that come up as I keep having to say no to myself about the things I want to eat. It's challenging because I have two teens in the house, and they rightfully want to have snack foods and I want to make them a good dinner each night. So I'm making them something interesting with three or four parts to it, and then I sit down to a plate half the size, with three ounces of plain ground beef and a cup of broccoli.

One of my friends walked me through an exercise from our leadership program. I remembered an event from when I was very young at a friend's house. There was a party and the candy bowl was full of M&Ms. We were both looking at them and I took one out and then put it back. An adult nearby said, "If you touch it, you have to eat it." My friend and I looked at each other and shoved our hands into the candy bowl, touching as many as we could. Then we got yelled at. I was really confused because I didn't understand why anyone would say that if they didn't want us to touch all of them. I was only 3 or 4 years old. The person who yelled at me thought I was being selfish and mean, but really I was just confused. I thought there was a really cool rule that meant I could have a lot of M&Ms, and instead I just got yelled at. This exercise helped because I realized it had to do with taking extra food, and that I was NOT selfish or bad, not even in that moment, but I had collapsed the two things together.

It's still hard not to keep eating. Any time I finish a mini-meal, I am still hungry. But I notice that 30 minutes later, I'm not. Nevertheless, I REALLY REALLY want to keep eating food until I don't feel hungry anymore.

Day 5

Talked with my counselor about the struggle and feeling like I'm being bossed around and like I've done something wrong, which are all coming up as I continue to stick to my very limited nutrition plan.

She led me through a visualization where I spoke to a younger version of myself. That younger Alice really wanted more autonomy and choice. The counselor had me explain to her that I'm an adult now and I grew up and I get to choose whatever I want. No one can tell me what to eat or what to wear, and I even chose my own car.

This might sound silly, but it helped a lot. I feel a lot less like a kid who did something wrong and is being punished. It was really getting in the way and I wasn't feeling confident even around my life partner.

Day 6

Rest day today.
Nutrition is getting a bit easier. I can see the upside to having really limited choices. There's no wrestling internally with whether to have this or that. There were donuts at my meeting this morning and I probably wouldn't have eaten one anyway, but I would have kept reconsidering throughout the meeting. Today I was just like, nope, and didn't think about it again.

Had first cheat meal tonight after six days on the plan. I'm given two cheat meals per week.
Food has never tasted so good. Interestingly, I was replacing 3oz lean ground beef and a cup of vegetables as the meal I was trading, and I ended up having filet mignon and broccoli, but I also had creamy mashed potatoes, BREAD, wine, a dark chocolate strawberry truffle. I’m glad we at a place with truffles so I could have a taste of dessert, but without gorging on some enormous Oreo pie or something.

Day 7

 I was running in the morning coming off a big heavy treat meal and some red wine. I had a bit of a headache from the wine, but still did the run in the morning so that my eating wouldn't get off track, even though the weather was nicer later. I'm glad I did. It didn't exactly feel easy, but I've certainly had worse runs.

Day 8

Today was difficult with nutrition, because I had a long drive to meet someone for business meetings and it was really difficult to eat my food on my plan in the right time intervals. I made it work by taking my protein bar to the Panera as my meal, but it pushed my meals late and it was a little tricky.

I still kept to the plan, but my evening meals were too close together.

Swim workout was good - felt strong. Nice to swim with the triathlon club!
Decent pace, too.

Day 9

I really appreciate that I'm on the nutrition plan, not only because I'm already seeing some results, but also because I know I'm doing something about something that was bothering me. Throughout the day I sometimes sit in a position or wear an item of clothing that makes my belly look fatter than normal, and I have that "ugh" feeling inside. But now I have that feeling and then immediately think, "Yeah, but it's getting better. I'm doing something about it." And that's very satisfying.


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date: February 28, 2022


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.

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