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Something Has To Change – Geek Turned Athlete

Something Has To Change


I just want to feel like this!

After the Paris Marathon a week and a half ago and the Weinstrasse Half Marathon 3 days ago (and not to mention, the Tour de Flanders 2 1/2 weeks ago), I’m pretty exhausted. I actually feel like I have a cold coming on. Annoying. Then again, it is finals week, and I always get sick during finals week. I was supposed to go on a 2 hour bike ride this evening, but I thought that rest would be the best thing for me right now. I haven’t gotten a solid 8 hours of sleep since before my marathon. I NEED sleep BADLY. My body is obviously pissed at me right now. I feel like shite! I’m sorry that this post is a downer, but I have feelings other than happiness sometimes, you know?

I’m frustrated about my stomach problems as well. This has been going on for the past 4 years. To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure that I have IBS-C, but b/c I have crappy doctors over here who shove me out the door with laxatives and stool softeners once they get into to see me is NOT helpful. I feel like they are treating the symptom not the cause. I have gone to another doctor and asked if they can test me for food allergies. Guess what they told me? They said that they CAN’T test for food allergies! WTF!!! I know they can. I’m just stuck using the doctors here in Germany, but when I get back to the states, you can bet I’m getting a second opinion.

I don’t like it when I can go 4-7 days without a BM. It can turn the nicest person into a raging B-I-T-C-H when they haven’t had their morning constitution or even their weekly constitution for that matter. I’m sure all of my friends are sick of hearing about how constipated or bloated I am. I have had my diet analyzed by a nutritionist before, and they swear that I should be pooing 2-3 times a day with how much fiber I’m getting. I’ve tried adding MORE fiber like Benefiber into my diet and all it does is give me and my husband gas. Thank god my husband loves me because he puts up with ALL of my stomach issues.

I’ve gotten stomach cramps (and they are not menstrual, trust me I know), that are so bad that I will not be able to stand up straight, and I’m in tears because it hurts that bad. This is no way to live. I’ve had a colonoscopy, and the docs say I’m perfectly healthy. Plus, I’ve been getting headaches almost every other day for the past few months. If I am healthy, why do I feel this horrible? I’m frustrated and desperate for a change.

So…I’m taking matters into my own hands since western medicine is NOT helping. I’m contemplating doing an elimination diet or trying the Thrive diet. The elimination diet is where you basically eliminate foods that are common food allergens from your diet. You slowly integrate these things back into your diet, one week at a time until you figure out what you’re allergic to or have a sensitivity to. The only problem with doing this is I don’t want to live on lamb and rice for weeks at a time, and I still want to be able to train and be healthy while I am on this diet. This entire process could take a couple of months.

Thrive, Home..jpg

The thrive diet is supposed to be really good for you, and Brendan Brazier competed at an elite level with this diet so I know that I at least have a chance of training on this diet. Not only is it plant-based, but it helps address the whole food allergens/sensitivity issues as well. I haven’t bought the book yet, but I plan on looking in the book store on base for it tomorrow. If it is not there (and there is a very good chance that it won’t be), then I will be buying it on Amazon. But Brendan, if you read this, feel free to send me a copy. I swear, I’m not this moody all the time!

Back to business: I’m trying to decide between these two methods of curing my stomach issues. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE comment! I need all the help that I can get.

Also, I don’t have a training plan, and I know that I better get one together soon since my first triathlon of the season is in 2 months. For that one, I’m not having a problem getting a plan together. It is my Half Ironman that I signed up for that is mid September that I’m worried about. I have no clue which Half Ironman plan I should go with. Any suggestions?

So between my training plan and my stomach issues, I feel like I’m in limbo, and I don’t like not having a plan. The type A in me is freaking out!

Good luck to anyone going through finals week like me!!

Check these links out:

— USAT Triathlon Rules Explained – I needed this! It all makes so much more sense now!

— It is Earth Day tomorrow! Get with it!

{ 27 comments… add one }

  • Katy April 21, 2010, 8:43 pm

    I know I already told you about my experience w/ elimination on Twitter, but just saw your vegetarian/husband freak-out post. That was another thing I figured out…GREATLY reducing fat content was a key for me. So…yeah, very lean meats (if any) on my plate, and yes my husband is not a fan. I’m trying to get the nerve to tell him about Thrive… Considering it… Or at least getting the book. You’ve got me intrigued.

    • Nicole April 21, 2010, 8:55 pm

      Yeah, he didn’t get mad, but he said that it was a little extreme. I was bringing up the way animals were treating, not my health as a reason though. I wonder if he would reconsider if he found out that he didn’t have to deal with my stomach problems anymore as well!

  • Heather (Where's the Beach) April 21, 2010, 8:53 pm

    Hey girl – I love the intro with the picture. I’m wishing I felt like that right about now in general. I am sooo lucky that I do not have any stomach issues. My hubby did, got allergy tested, and discovered he was allergic to dairy. He is taking allergy shots and I started cooking mostly vegan dishes. Don’t get me wrong, we still eat dairy and love our cheese, just a whole lot less. So, I firmly believe that diets have a huge impact on us. I definitely think you should give the new diet a try just to see if it helps the situation.

    I have no advice on training plans. I do have a friend who completed his first half ironman in Nov. But I am not sure of what his training plan was.

    • Nicole April 21, 2010, 8:56 pm

      I love cheese too!

      • Heather (Where's the Beach) April 21, 2010, 8:59 pm

        Hate to say it, but maybe try cutting out the cheese entirely for a week or so and see how you feel?

        • Nicole April 21, 2010, 9:01 pm

          Hmmmmm. Good idea!

        • Katy April 21, 2010, 9:03 pm

          And, I know it’s not as good, but soy cheese really isn’t TERRIBLE if dairy is the issue.

          • Heather (Where's the Beach) April 21, 2010, 9:04 pm

            I agree with Katy. We’ve been using that a lot more. Though after a while, you sort of get used to not having the cheese. I know it sounds like crazy talk LOL

  • Megan April 21, 2010, 9:38 pm

    My half ironman/full ironman plan was based around my strongest sport- Running. I basically used a marathon plan and tweaked it to include swimming and biking. I kept the key workouts (speedwork, long runs, etc) and swapped out recovery runs for recovery rides. Every other week, I’d swap out long runs for long rides.

    It’s probably easiest to match a half-iron training plan with that of a marathon training plan instead of a half-marathon training plan, because the race duration for a half iron is similar to that of a marathon (albeit a bit longer). You want to make sure you have endurance, but also speed. Hmm…. maybe I will blog about this later.

  • Erica April 21, 2010, 10:58 pm

    Girlfriend! You rock. I had such tummy problems last year (similar to yours) and went through the sameeeeeee thing. Since I’ve adjusted my diet, no such issues!! I am planning on email you- sorry I’ve been swamped!

    • Nicole April 22, 2010, 12:36 pm

      No prob, girl! It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone!

  • Joanna Burgraf April 21, 2010, 11:48 pm

    Hi there. I’m fairly new to reading your blog, and I usually keep quiet but this one had me want to share my experience, maybe it will make a difference for you. I had officially been diagnosed with IBS when I was in college. But I had it from the time I was about 8 years old until 25. It was horrible, waking up in the middle of the night, horrible pain in the middle of class, having to miss events because the pain was so bad, being put on meds for it, eventually being hospitalized.

    I’ve been free of symptoms for 5 years now. What changed? I can’t pin point one thing and I don’t want to give you annoying tips. The major life changes that occured were less stress, drinking 4+ liters of water per day and going back to eating meat, incorporating raw veggies and fruits, eating 5-6 times per day. I had been vegetarian for 15 years, prior to that.

    Also, learning that everyone’s body is different, not everyone is built to poop 2-3 times a day for some people it really is once a day or every other day. It’s getting in touch with your body and knowing what’s normal. And not stressing about it.

    There is a really cool product out there that is an aloe juice-based that has helped me become more regular. If you’re interested in learning more I can send you a link. Aloe is a great for digestion too.

    Additionally, I took on doing a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge, there are yoga postures specifically designed to help with digestion and elimination. That made a huge difference.

    None of these things are a quick fix or a cure-all, for me it’s a constant journey always being on the look out for what will have my body respond well. And I know this isn’t a popular thing to say, but please be careful with a vegan/vegetarian diet, it can cause side-effects that can affect your health for the rest of your life. I have close personal friends who made themselves very sick by eating vegan.

    You can also visit He is a doctor based out of the Chicago area, and he has helped many people I personally know, although I myself have never seen him. You can at the least get his articles and read how to heal yourself while you’re abroad.

    I’m not a doctor, but natural healing is a passion of mine. Hopefully some of this info will be of use and interest to you.

  • Tiffany April 21, 2010, 11:50 pm

    I was lucky enough to be married to a MEDAC unit medic over there, Nic. I understand what you’re saying about the doctors (at least some of the ones at the Baumholder unit), so it was nice to know who knew what and whom was going to actually help me.

    As far as the diet: You can’t go wrong with trying something new. Just make sure to keep a journal regarding mood, energy levels, etc.

    As far as the HIM: If you can run a sub-4 mary, you will dominate a HIM! If anything, tweak a 16-18 week training plan with more double-days than a sprint or oly distance plan. The only differences are frequency and time, hon. You’ll figure out something that will suit you…just take calm in that.

    Happy finals week (next week for me)! This semester is D-O-N-E!

  • Tea April 22, 2010, 1:23 am

    oh wow! I really wish I could offer words of wisdom on the stomach issue, but I can’t. So, I’ll just offer my support and hope that you find a solution/cure soon.

    As for the Half Ironman training, I really love Gale Bernhardt’s plans in her book: Training Plans for Multi-sport Athletes. (She has plans ranging from sprint to Ironman in one book). I used it in tandem with her Swim Workouts in a Binder. I followed the plan religiously and had a huge 70.3 PR in Sept 09.

    If you don’t want to buy the book, you can also look at the workouts on The only complaint that I have about those workouts is that the swim workouts are very boring. But, if you use Swim Workouts in a Binder instead of the workouts included in their half iron training plans….maybe it would be better.

    As an fyi-I am planning on using Gale’s stuff again for my next half iron.

  • Emily Elizabeth April 22, 2010, 2:32 am

    So sorry to hear you are getting sick. You deserve a vacation for sure when your Hubby gets back. You both will need it :)

    I am sorry to hear about all the stomach problems too! Hope the new diet helps.

  • Marisa April 22, 2010, 12:55 pm

    Let me know if the BX has that book…Looks like a good book. Hope you find something to help your problems.

  • Laura Georgina April 22, 2010, 4:59 pm

    Oh no, I feel your stomach pain! I had a couple of years of worsening stomach issues (cramps, bloating, etc) and then I started to get weird rashes on my skin. I did an elimination diet–no dairy, citrus, leafy greens, nuts, fish, and certain legumes, i.e. nothing good to eat!–and it turned out to be dairy. It’s made a HUGE difference.

    Though it might not be dairy for you, it’s still worth trying something new, whatever that might be (and what you can live with)! Good luck and I hope you get your mojo back soon :-)

  • Julie @savvyeats April 22, 2010, 6:23 pm

    I totally understand your frustration right now…this is where I was a few years back! Since being diagnosed with (and getting treatment for) hypothyroidism, these problems have largely disappeared. But another thing they looked at back then was the possibility that I had a gluten sensitivity…but I’m sure that is one of the things the elimination diet ‘checks’ for!

    Hope you figure it out soon… it sucks to feel sick all the time!

  • Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather April 22, 2010, 6:53 pm

    Sounds like horrible stomach issues! I suffered a couple years with stomach problem and finally found out it was from dairy. I pretty much keep it out of my diet most days and have found that helps.

    I’m reading the thrive diet book right now and think that slowing adding some of his concepts to your diet would be good, but if you switch to it completely and quickly then it might shock your body in a not so possitive way. Definitely focussing on leafy green vegetables, the largest portion of the thrive diet, is something I’d try to incorporate. Sometimes when my stomach is upset I’ll eat a huge spinach salad and it fixes my stomach pains. Maybe try that out sometime? I hope you can find something that works for you Nicole, stomach pains are the worst for sure!

  • Heatherio April 22, 2010, 9:57 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. It’s a difficult subject and it sounds very similar to the stomach issues I’ve been having. I’ve been wondering if I might have a food allergy/intolerance as well. After the last couple years of testing and doctors here in the states I can tell you that you’ve probably just saved alot of time and expense by your current limitations.
    I’ve had definite improvement since switching to a clean diet and drinking tons of water but I am going to read up on the elimination diet and I may try it to see if maybe dairy or gluten may be causing my issues.
    Good luck! I hope you find relief.

  • Pure2Raw Twins April 23, 2010, 1:45 am

    Get the Thrive book. You will love it. We use that training method for our trainings. We have stomach issues as well, though we know it is from food sensitivities. Eating a high raw diet and vegan and gluten free (among other allergies) has helped us. I so keep a food journal, we do that and it really helps you track when things upset your stomach.

  • Christy April 23, 2010, 3:57 am

    I too have similar stomach issues. About three months ago a friend gave me a copy of the “E2 Diet”. Similar to the The Thrive Diet. Look it up online. Anyway it is a plant based vegan type diet. I stuck to it for about 6 weeks, down to the letter. And I must say my stomach issues, for the most part went away. Now for the first couple of weeks it intensified but once my tummy got used to the “extra” roughage it went away. I did have to learn how to make sure I got enough protein. Now I have “morphed” it a little to where I eat Greek yogurt occasionally, eggs and a little cheese. I’ve had no meat or milk since February. Give it a try what do you have to loose?

  • Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear April 23, 2010, 6:47 am

    My friend had done the elimination diet twice and totally loved it! :)

  • Christine @Grub, Sweat and Cheers April 23, 2010, 6:01 pm

    Just thought I’d commiserate. I have something similar going on and only recently noticed how completely BRUTAL my moods get when I can’t crap. It’s so bizarre how it affects more than just one aspect of your life. And I hear you on the fiber…I eat more greens than a frikkin rabbit some days.

    I find out my gluten intolerance test results tomorrow – but I don’t think that’s my prob – I think it’s dairy.

    Funny, I just took the two Thrive books out of the library yesterday. Had read the diet one before but only focussed on the workout aspects and not the food.

    You can send away to labs to get tested for food intolerances – have you thought of that? You can bypass your local doctors completely.

  • Jenny April 28, 2010, 3:33 pm

    Hey – unfortunately, its something that doctors don’t really take too seriously, especially in women – it might help if you could get in to see a specialist?

    Anyway, saw you had lots of suggestions and tips but a few things that worked for me:
    – Get checked out for high acidity in your stomach…too much is not a good thing. For me, it felt like a balloon was being blown up under my sternum – such an intense pressure!
    – Get a lactose test (if you eat dairy at all)
    – Interestingly enough, my gastrointestinologist suggested I avoid glucose-fructose. It’s the generic name in Canada for high fructose corn syrup (its in almost everything!). She also suggested I avoid apples, prunes and juice drinks.

    I also use something called Iberogast.

    Hope that helps – feel better!

  • Jenny April 28, 2010, 3:50 pm

    Sorry – one more thing! Sorbitol, maltitol and the other fake sugars that end in “ol” – those just kill me too. Twas a sad day when I figured out I couldn’t have gum anymore.


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