Lurong 2017, Week 1: Struggling with my Gut-Brain Connection

As we embark on a new adventure with macronutrients, I’m left exploring one of the newer ideas about gut health. In recent years, I’ve seen many articles crop up about the mind-gut connection. This one from Mindful is pretty good. So is this one from Johns Hopkins.

protein-carbs-fats-wheelBut other than occasionally being irritable when I’m having GI issues, I’ve really never had reason to ponder it deeply. Now, I’m seriously looking at it and how to make my gut happier.

So here’s the thing… When you clean up your diet and cut out some of the things that we use to mask other issues, such as coffee or alcohol, sometimes it uncovers things you weren’t expecting.

First thing I’ve noticed after a week… I don’t need coffee to survive. I’ve been starting my day with a serving of Advocare Spark (we like Limeade and Mango Strawberry, though the girls like Blue Raspberry) for many months now and then supplementing it with coffee. I never even thought to drop coffee completely until we started this Lurong Summertime Challenge a week ago.

spark-limeadeWhen we did a Whole30 challenge 4 years ago, I dropped caffeine cold turkey. I was MISERABLE as you might imagine. I had spent the previous 20 years largely addicted to soda in many forms. At the time, I was going through a 12 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper every week or more. So the caffeine withdrawal was awful.

Since Spark has a bit of caffeine in it, I haven’t had that issue. Now, I’ve had some serious energy crashes in the afternoons, but I think that’s due to trying to find a balance between carbs and protein more than anything else.

Second, the alcohol, though pleasant, isn’t necessary. It was more of a habit than anything else. I would, at the end of most days, sit down with a cider beer. And if I felt I deserved it, I would pour an Amaretto on the rocks.

Again, there’s no withdrawal symptoms — because I wasn’t really consuming that much alcohol in the first place. But I was happy to find that to be the case. I’ve seen regular use of alcohol turn into a bit of abuse of the stuff through the years with a few folks, so I didn’t want to go that way.

0511-1005-0201-0040_Black_and_White_Vintage_Cartoon_of_a_Man_Asleep_at_His_Desk_clipart_imageThird, damn my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-left.

I’m usually good through the first half of the day. And in the afternoon, I start to tank. Badly. I’ve had a couple of days, especially on workout days, where I’ve simply crashed for a good 20-30 minute nap. This isn’t a good thing in my book.

So I need to find ways to combat this without resorting to a second round of Spark in the afternoon.

And fourth, and the topic of this post, the strange road of depression on some days has been a huge challenge. Before we began the Lurong challenge, I started doing daily journaling again with the intent of focusing on a practice of gratitude to reflect on all the positive things in my day rather than the negative. I tend to dwell on the bad things and forget the good things, and usually when I go back and look at it at the end of the day, there was more good than bad.

journal-clipart-black-and-white-10735Gratitude is tough to find when you’re stuck in the depression well. I’ve never been what anybody would call a happy, go-lucky individual. And I’ve hit some dark spots here and there. But damn… I’ve been pissed off at some normal things that go on in my life for no good reason.

My journal entries lately are full of angry words. Swearing. And accusations. Not at all like the first few entries where I focused on gratitude.

But let me say this… I’m aware enough now that it’s my head that’s largely the problem, so I don’t mind vomiting all this negativity on the page rather than spewing it on my family or friends. So the journaling has been a HUGE benefit to offload my mind during some of these periods.

protein-granola-bite-fuelSo my gut, as it adjusts to a less carb- and caffeine-centered existence, is forcing my brain to deal with some of the issues I’ve been masking for years. And I think that’s a good thing to a certain extent. I just wish I could find some magic gut biome happy juice that would make me a bit happier.

I’ve added some trail mix to my afternoon routine (Bite Fuel’s Protein Trail Mix has been a godsend). But the additional carbs have definitely slowed down the weight loss. (I will easily snack on a cup of the stuff, which isn’t exactly carb friendly even if it does pack in some additional protein.)

Can anybody hook a guy up? I’m wondering if I’m the only person this weird depression crash has hit when adjusting to the macro’d lifestyle. I seriously doubt it.

I’ll write more later on this challenge as it progresses, I’m sure. I’m already down about 5-6 pounds in a week, so I won’t complain about that aspect. But I really don’t like the mental/mood swings.

Ideas are welcome. Thanks!

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