The Dairy Challenge- What happens when you cut modern dairy out of your diet?
Please read through to the end for my challenge to you!
So, as you may know I say that I am ‘plant based’ as opposed to saying I am a vegan. I do this for many reasons. The most popular reason is that when folks hear the word vegan they think of the tree hugger, animal lover that is against the modern world as a whole. (We vegans know this is not true!) One of the other reasons I say I am ‘plant based’ is that I can’t say I am a diehard vegan, I converted to a plant based diet about 3 yrs. ago and I did it for health and training reasons, not for the animals (But, I will admit the animal welfare side of it is a nice side effect ;-) ). The reason I say I am not a diehard is because there are certain food items that I still crave and one of those is ice cream! So, from time to time after a hard workout or at a celebration, I will have some ice cream, usually in the form of a sundae with a lot of peanut butter and some sort of nuts on it. I know there is vegan ice cream but, in the moment, it just is not the same. I had one of these moments this past week as I took my fellow coworkers out for dinner after a long tradeshow week and for desert we popped into a local ice cream joint. They had vegan ice cream available, but it was made with coconut milk, that I usually find to be watery, so I went for the full-blown milk based ice cream. It was very good! (There is also the sugar side of ice cream that I will get into on another post.)
Dairy has an effect on me when I eat it and it has nothing to do with my bowls, like most folks think. So, I went home, went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night with a major case of ‘cotton mouth’ and feeling really achy. I chugged a glass of water and went back to sleep. I woke up in the morning and went through my normal routine of getting ready for my run and it hit me……… I had a migraine headache that just got worse the more light I was exposed to. If I was still drinking, I would say I had a hangover about equal to a long night of hard drinking. Damn dairy got me again! After going plant based every time I eat dairy I get this effect within 24 hrs. Also, each time it gets worse and I tell myself ‘never again’…………
The longer effect on me is that I feel sluggish, have a lot of flem and after my runs I feel achy. It takes about a week of clean eating for me to feel normal again.
When I first started the process of becoming plant based I remember listening to a Rich Roll podcast about how the human body cannot process modern dairy. During the interview they just kept coming back to saying that dairy inflames the body and in particular the immune system. I did not think much of it at the time, but did proceed to cut dairy out of my everyday diet. The hardest part was cheese! I love some good cheese and crackers. (It does not help that my other half works at Trader Joes and brings home very tempting seasonal choices!) After a few weeks, I could tell I felt better and there was something to it for me. My immune system was much better and today I can feel when my immune system is stressed and take care of it before it becomes a problem.
So I have to stay strong and avoid dairy. There are plenty of dairy replacements and in a lot cases they are healthier for you in more ways than one. I have found I like products made with almonds so this takes the place of milk and cheese for me. Those are the 2 big items for me even though I never was much of a milk drinker.
So how does cutting dairy out effect my running? I cannot say exactly, but I can say that it was part of my journey and continues to help me improve. When I do consume dairy I feel I am taking a step backwards in my training. I will never eat dairy on race week as I know it will slow me down. I also don’t understand how you can drink milk after a race? My mouth would feel like I was chewing on cotton balls!
I suggested to my other half that she drop dairy for her ongoing allergy (pollen/dust) problems and she claims she felt improvement, but not enough to give up dairy. It is tough to avoid dairy. Dropping dairy is not for everyone.
In prep for this post I tried to do research and see if there were studies to support one way or the other……. But what I found was that for every study that showed that dairy causes inflammation, there was a study that showed it did not. The only consistent thing I found was that almost 100% of the studies that showed that dairy does not cause inflammation were sponsored or written by someone in the dairy industry. Wonder why that is, LOL
So my challenge for you: Cut dairy out of your diet for 2 weeks and see how you feel! Then come back and post how you feel. If you have already done it, why did you do it and how do you feel?
Note: I do not have an agenda with this post, but want folks to learn about their bodies and what works for them. I do not make any claims other than what I have posted about myself and I am not a doctor.
So from my early days of running I have pretty much run and trained alone. Early on in my running adventure I thought I wanted a running partner. The truth is, I wanted a running partner for selfish reasons………. I needed someone to pace off of. I could not control my pace worth a crap and was always going out way to fast, so my thought path was to find someone that I could run with that would worry about the pacing for me.
So I signed up for a few ‘Meet-up’ groups in my area with all intentions of going to a few, but my introverted self came out and I never went. I even started my own Meet-up group for my local area and did get a decent amount of folks to sign up and even set-up a few scheduled runs. The run days came and with 3-4 folks saying they were going to ‘Meet-up’, I was the only one that showed up ☹. So that did not work out…..
As I got into the ultra/trail scene, I ran a few events and like everyone says and knows, I quickly made friends with other runners on the course and by the end of the event we would make plans to get together for some fun runs. Unfortunately for me, I lived about an hr away from most of the folks I was meeting.
I do need to clarify here, as I said earlier I am an introvert and also feel very socially off ward in many cases when I am in a social atmosphere. I also don’t do well where there is a large group. I very much dislike crowds. This is one of the reasons I had a drinking problem. When I use to drink my social walls would come tumbling down and I was very interactive and somewhat of a socialite. Funny thing, crowds at races don’t bother me, I am not sure why….. maybe it is because I can keep to myself and not feel out of place? When it comes to my professional career or coaching, I am fine with crowds if I am in a leading type role. I do horrible at cocktail parties; I’m the guy in the corner trying not to make eye contact.
After a few years of running I soon got the idea of using my running to help others and through that I would be able to meet and find running partners while doing this. In a story for another post, I came across Back on My Feet and it appeared to be a great match. The premise of this group was that they use running to help folks that have experienced homelessness and are in shelters to get back to something stable. Running on a regular basis provides stability that only runners understand and the residents (shelter folks) soon learn after joining the team and sticking with it. Even better, the team I joined was with a shelter that was more of a halfway house and a lot of the men we were running with had substance abuse in their past and I could easily relate, again a story for another post. BoMF worked great as a place to meet other runners and also be able to get together for some weekly runs up to 4 miles. I enjoyed my early morning runs and looked forward to them and those who would show up. The only thing I was not getting out of these running partners was someone who was a regular and another runner that would run the longer runs with me. With my recent move to OH, I have left my BoMF team back in Philly.
So when you can’t find another human to be a longtime running partner, you can turn to the furry type. We got Stella just over 5 years ago and it was not long after we got her we knew she was going to be a runner. Stella is an Australian Heeler and if you know anything about that type of dog you know they want a job and it has to involve running. Heelers got their name from the fact that they are herding dogs and the way they herd is to run behind the animals they are herding and nipping at their heels. If you don’t know this, you may think they are being aggressive when they aren’t. Stella started her running career by running 3-5 mile runs with me on a leash and it soon became apparent that I had to get a waistband leash. Stella can hold a good pace, but one drawback is she tends to pull you along and over a long run it wears on you. Probably one of the best things about Stella is she is in it for the long run and has done up to 20+ mile runs with me. Then the question of ‘how much is too much’ comes into play…. Stella won’t stop, so I have to keep an eye on her. So what is better than one running dog? 2 running dogs! After Stella was a few years old, we got her brother Auggie, another Aussie Heeler. Auggie is a much more laidback dog, a lot more like the Australian culture, but he also loves to run. It is a lot gentler of a runner and he does have a limit. He is good for up to about 10 miles. Auggie also does much better on trails as he seems to care more about me, where Stella is all about getting it done. I find 2 drawbacks to running with the dogs, they don’t really help with setting the pace and in hot weather you have to be really careful not to overdo it.
So where do I stand on a running partner? I still have not found that ‘running partner(s)’ I started out searching for. Over lots of miles and using heart rate training I have learned to pace myself. I am not sure I want a running partner….. but, on the other hand it would be nice to have someone I could just meet-up with from time to time for a nice relaxing run and chat about life. I admit, I do not live or have a mainstream lifestyle or views, so whoever(s) that runner is will not be “normal”. I enjoy running alone, it is my thinking time. I normally do listen to podcasts while running, but most times I find myself zoning out the podcast and thinking about major topics for myself or work. I have a common saying around the office ‘let me run on it’ and I do.
So running partner or not, where do you stand?