The Jill Lifestyle Diet

A breakfast - eggs, spinach, sun dried tomatos, avocado and some cheese

This post is a bit over due... but it's been cooking in my mind for a few weeks.  I know I still don't have it right, but I don't think I'm going to have it exactly right for quite awhile... so I guess, welcome to my journey.

If you are reading this on my actual blog site (and not in a reader), you may have noticed there is a lot of "No Sugar No Grain" additions to the site.  I've also been tweeting a bit lately with the hashtag #NSNG.  So what does that mean exactly.  Well, NSNG is the short hand for No Sugar No Grain and I believe Miss Caratunk Girl was the person who started it.  If you don't know Caratunk Girl, check out her blog, she's a rockstar and super awesome chica toughing it out and training for IM Lake Placid in the middle of Maine, in the middle of Winter.  On top of that she's got the cutest dog in the world, and a pretty kick butt job...

Well, Mandy (Caratunk Girl) is the person who introduced me to NSNG and more specifically to the Vinnie Tortorich podcast "America's Angriest Trainer".  Mandy was tweeting about how awesome she was feeling and that she was finally losing weight, instead of gaining, while training for ultra endurance events.  Following NSNG she was feeling great and losing weight.

I've always been fascinated by the phenomenon that I see all the time of athletes, women especially, who don't get thinner training for 140.6.  In fact, I've often had people say to me something along the lines of "I'm surprised you aren't thinner, considering how much you train."

So, I was intrigued!  I dusted off the old podcast listening tools (i.e. apparently you have to download a podcast app now on the phone, geeze! so complicated!!) and listened to Vinnie's podcast...  And I became more intrigued.

A step in the right direction

To paint a picture, I'm listening to Vinnie in November 2012, just before things started to turn around with my injury.

I'd not worked out seriously since January 2012 - yes almost twelve months - I hadn't been feeling "myself" in a very long time.  I was tired ALL THE TIME, and I was cranky - REALLY REALLY CRANKY - looking back on it now, it was probably the darkest I've been in the last 18-20 years.  I needed to make a change.  As I listened to the podcast, I realized that what he's saying is very similar to Bob Seebohar's Metabolic Efficiency Training (MET - which I'd dabbled with leading up to IM Lou in 2011).  I remember HOW MUCH BETTER I felt eating MET, and I was thinking about trying that again.

But Vinnie's "Rules", if you will, are a bit different than MET... The difference being NO GRAINS.

The Way We Eat Can be a Wonderful Journey

MET has a no grain period in it too... yeah, I didn't listen to that part very well.  And this is what I mean by the heading "The Way We Eat can be a Wonderful Journey".  I wasn't REALLY ready for MET, when MET came into my life.

No to be too "deeper meaning", but I was doing it for the wrong reason.  I was doing MET, because I wanted to be a faster triathlete, not because I wanted to be a healthier person, not really.  So, I didn't really stick to it, and to be honest, I never really believed it was making me a better athlete, so I cheated... a lot.

It's really no wonder my body never became fat adapted.  In hindsight, I THINK (total supposition here folks) that the reason my performance numbers were not improving as I expected them to with the training I was doing, had to do more with the budding complete breakdown of my core muscles (PITA) than with the MET - but I felt like I had no power when I trained and I assumed it was the lack of carbs and so I started adding carbs back in...

Back to my food journey here...  to tell the entire journey would take too long, but suffice to say, somewhere between the horrific diet I had during my consulting days (Cinnonmon Sugar Bagel with Cream Cheese and Coffee for breakfast, Food Court food for lunch and Dinners at Sports Bars... blech! - well I say that NOW, back then it all tasted great!)... to the (to use my Sister in Law's term for it) Food Nazi ways once I got pregnant and my body became a temple... I'm not joking,  almost overnight (it seemed to my family) I became super strict about what went in my body...  No food coloring, No trans fats, as much organic as possible, not too much salt, etc.  ... Once the kiddos were born, I was on a No Processed Food, No Sugars plan...

You can kind of see where this goes... I've never been a drastic change person... I take time, I settle into something and THEN I change, just one small part... (or I become a mother and I change quickly, but that's a pretty big catalyst - so perhaps, my response is directly proportional to the catalyst, but I digress...)

In the summer of 2012, my oldest was diagnosed with allergies to Wheat, Diary and Egg... so we all went gluten free... I learned how to make a ton of stuff without Wheat, Diary and Egg...

By the time I get to November, and I hear No Sugars No Grains, I'm ready to take the plunge.  We had so little grain in our daily diet to begin with at that point.

What I HAD let back in WAS THE SUGAR (duhn, duhn, dunnnnnn).  My poor baby had allergies, he couldn't eat any of the fun stuff that other kids could eat, so it must be okay to let him have Dark Chocolate, Jolly Ranchers and Gummy Bears, right??  And if he was eating it, it was in the house, so I was eating it... Dark Chocolate became a daily staple for me... especially around 3pm... oh you know what I'm talking about...

And then when you are putting dinner together.... and then a little bit after the kids go to bed... :D It's a vicious circle...

So here I am on my moderate sugar, very few grains diet...  At the point in my food journey when I'm ready to entertain the notion of "NSNG".

So who is this Vinnie Tortorich Guy? What does HE know about triathlon and going long?

The first day that I listened to Vinnie's podcast I heard several things that endeared him to me straight away...

Olive Oil as a fuel - a trick I'd learned during my MET days that I truly believed in
Salt Stick and Water - another thing I found during MET and a water bottle with ONLY water in it, is way easier to clean out than sports drink
Processed food is the biggest problem - I think everyone can agree on that one...

The kicker... Vinnie is an endurance cyclist... he's competed in the Furnace Creek 508 and all as a FAT ADAPTED athlete.  Being a fat adapted athlete - an individual who's primary source of energy for an endurance event is FAT, was what I was trying to achieve with MET.  (Short explanation - my body LOVES to burn carbs as fuel... but my stomach HATES to digest carbs while I'm active... Any race half distance or longer, I'm either bonking or puking and bonking. I was looking to MET to solve this problem for me.)

My point, he's got the experience to provide advice on how to fuel for long distance events using this type of diet.  If you didn't click to Vinnie' site yet, here is another link :D Check out the podcasts and take a listen for yourself and make your own decision.

Okay just NSNG seems like a good plan... what's the deal with you NSNG folks and the heavy cream?

When I tell people about NSNG they usually say "so, it's paleo"... ummm, I can't really say, I don't know much about "paleo".  I will say, it's NOT about all the meat you can eat.  Here's the thing... I just don't LIKE a TON of meat... I can't eat it more than once a day... and even then I make it more for the boys (hubby included) because they LOVE meat.  I could really do without it...  Every once in awhile I do get a hankering for steak... I do enjoy a well cooked steak.

We NSNG folks also like to talk about Heavy Cream in our coffee and bacon, bacon, bacon - because it makes you feel salacious!

But if you were to see what I eat every day following "no sugar no grain" (oh and you can! I'm posting pics of a lot of it here) you'd see a lot of VEGGIES (collard greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower  sweet pepers, avocados, etc.), fruit (berries, apples, etc.), and nuts (yum! - great on the go fuel source),  some meat/fish, some eggs, some dairy (everything I make for dinner has to be non dairy or be able to be made no diary no egg for my son).  Vinnie likes to use the term "Carnivorous Vegan" - I think he's trying to get the point across, this is more about fresh whole foods than it is about meat.

Like I said, dinner usually has meat in it, for the boys.  More often than not, I'll make them a dinner with the meat and a ton of veg and they little boys have rice or quinoa on occasion, and I'll have about a half portion of the meat and just make myself a huge salad.  The HUGE salad was introduced to me by Dani Grabol (she's the super awesome chica that rode her bike across the Florida Panhandle SOLO and who is getting ready to ride RAAM as part of the two woman team - Power, Pedals, Ponytails, check them out - and also, the other kick butt lady of that duo is none other than my Rev 3 teammate Kacie Darden!!!), and I love the big salad... I feel good and full.

Now, I DO have Heavy Cream in my coffee, and I DO eat Whole Milk PLAIN Greek Yogurt in my green smoothie...  I don't have a problem with fat, I never had... I'm the girl who was guzzling a tablespoon of olive oil to fuel my morning rides... I eat almond butter and almonds like they are going out of style (they aren't, are they?!?!).  I find with that extra fat... I'm not reaching for sugary snacks and I don't eat just to eat.

So what do you mean "you feel better"

Number one... I'm not hungry all the time... it is a concept so widespread that SNICKERS created an ad campaign around it... when you are hungry, you just aren't yourself...

Now, a snicker's bar is certainly not going to solve the problem... but eating without all the sugar, eating satisfying, filling foods...

well, you are just in a better mood!

Things I notice...
- no 3 pm crash
- no 8 pm crash!
- less yelling at the kiddos (ack! I hate being a yelling person)
- in a better mood when I wake up in the morning, I used to run down stairs to try to get something into my stomach as quickly as possible because I was SO hungry and couldn't think straight until I had some food in me.

There are other things (like being more focused and in a better mood) that I've noticed since being NSNG, but they might also be attributed to the fact that I'm working out again (yay!!).

Why didn't you title this post No Sugar No Grain then

To answer that... I will go back to the previous point... I am on a food journey...  I want to find the way of FUELING my body, that brings out the best ME.

Here is the fun part... that can be very individualized.  I know a lot of people doing NSNG (we have a club! it's fun!!) but I don't think any of us are doing it exactly the same way.  I don't want to FOLLOW someone else's idea.  I want to take their ideas and marry them with other ideas that I hear and attempt to understand.  In addition to listening to Vinnie's podcast, I've also started listening to Rich Roll's podcast (he has the most mellow voice, it's so relaxing to listen to his podcast.  I enjoy hearing the perspectives and viewpoints of "plant based" folks he has on the show.  He's also had Vinnie on and they have great back and forth discussions about Meat vs Plant Based - if you ask me Rich might be able to convince Vinnie to go Vegan someday.).

I didn't take the time to really understand what I was trying to achieve with MET, I was too focused on an end goal of FASTER FASTER FASTER...

So now, I'm trying to synthesize things into my "Jill Lifestyle" if you will...

Have Patience to Find YOUR special answer

If being injured for a year has taught me ANYTHING, it is PATIENCE.

Not the wait around and eventually it'll come to you kind of patience.

The keep searching, keep striving, keep pondering and acting, experimenting, trying, and you'll begin to improve kind of patience.

When I was in that dark place I mentioned before... I entertained the thought that I would never ride my bike again, that I would never run long again.  I am so thankful, that I kept digging for an answer, my patience was rewarded.  You have to understand how much I love, LOVE, to run and to ride my bike for hours at a time.  It is where I find my peace, and who I am, and most importantly who I want to be.   What is the next rung in the ladder? what is the next piece I add to the puzzle that is me, to come to my complete picture?

Is it as simple as "I am what I eat"? No, but I believe what you eat is a part of who you are and who you are striving to be... it IS part of the equation.  Therefore, I think what you are fueling your body with is something to be pondered, and processed, and most importantly...

part of the journey.


  1. Great post Jill. It is
    a food journey for sure that is different for all of us. I love that you take pictures of what you are eating to map that journey. I am a big component of fat as well for feeling full. I'm feel full all the time as well just still hard to break the habits at work since I've always had a snack at 10. I am slowly shrinking the snack down!!

    Oh an can't wait to run with you again!!

    1. Thanks KD!!! So excited to be doing NSNG with you! and I CANNOT WAIT to run together again!! :D :D :D

  2. Thanks for sharing, Jill! I am thinking a lot more about my nutrition lately and love hearing about what is working for other people. Getting lots of ideas :)

    1. Thanks for the comment Summer! Yeah, there are a lot of great idea out there!! Have fun with it! :D

  3. Awesome post! You did a great job explaining your journey and into NSNG. I think it really is about taking what works for you and integrating it into your lifestyle. I've had the exact same "feel better" experiences that you mentioned, and I love it!

    Yay Team NSNG! :)

  4. Great post Jill. Honest and forthright about what is and isn't working for you. I absolutely think that you have to find what works for you and your lifestyle.

    I like how you emphasized how you feel. I think that has a LOT more to do with it than losing weight, at least for me it does.

    1. Thanks Alisa!!! Yep, it's definitely more for how I feel when I'm eating this way (which I guess to term it - low glycemic??) - it's like this is my body's happy place.

  5. Hey! I love this (not giving up all grains--I'm not down with that personally, but YOUR journey!). I feel like I am on a journey too to find the balance of ethics/performance/happiness with food too! Thanks for putting so much information out there (and for the shout out!)

    Your site looks killer by the way!

    1. Aww thanks! Glad you like the new site!! Good luck finding your balance! I think it's something we all continue to work on as we move through our lives :) I know I've been thinking a lot about vegan/vegetarian diet from the standpoint of living with a sustainable (as in the earth can support people eating this way) diet and you've come to mind as a person I need to touch base with :D

  6. This has got me thinking. I need to start an ABAC diet. All Bacon. All Cheese.

    1. hahahaha nice idea Jamie! Like I said, "the right diet" is all SO individual! :D

  7. I have been on what I consider a food journey of sorts as well. I have a question though. I feel so much better when I am eating, well, with little sugar, lots of fruits and veggies etc. But, my brain seems to think that I need the junk food still and I continually end up reaching for junk. I eat it and then I feel really junky afterwards. Any ideas on how to train my brain? I don't want to keep repeating this cycle.

    1. Personally, the only way I can stave off those "mmm, that sounds really good!" demons on the junk food is to be truly committed and know WHY I'm making the change and to have that "why" be really important to me. It was never enough to want to lose weight, or get faster... I thought I really wanted those things, but the number of times I let the junk back in proved that to be incorrect. This time around, I noticed that I was a better MOM, and that single thing was important enough to me to give me the strength to say "NO" when those cravings pop up. I hope that helps!! and GOOD LUCK with your journey!!!

  8. This is a great post Jill - and I'm happy you've found what works for you! It's amazing how awesome you feel once you cut out all of the processed foods from your diet and not having that 3pm crash ;)

  9. Great Blog Post,, I can so relate,, thanks !

  10. Great post Jill! Glad to hear you are feeling a lot better! You can't go wrong with a whole foods plant based diet :)

  11. I want to try it, but I'm also scared!!!

    1. Just take it one step at a time... that's kind of how it worked best for me! no more wheat products, then no more corn, etc. Either way, it's about being happy :D

  12. Thanx for sharing! I love this shit!!!! I don't know what I would do without bacon and FF greek yogurt...

  13. From: Darin Armstrong #TeamLIVESTRONG

    Hello Jill,
    Just a quick email to ask if you would be interested in a ‘mutual’ following on twitter that will benefit you. (#FYI I do RT’s ‘ANYTIME’ for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners #Marathoners #FitnessProfessionals who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned for support…Over 41K folks at your access...) I am currently following you now and am awaiting your follow-back...

    All the very best to you & your family for the rest of 2013 & beyond Jill. Look forward to hearing from you…

    (PS. Jill, should you follow back, I'll be mentioning you 'including your website' in my #FollowFriday #Shoutouts this Friday...)



tribirdie goes No Sugar No Grain


Follow Tribirdie


Tribirdie Goes No Sugar No Grain

I started eating following the rules
No Sugar
No Grain

I am posting what eat each day on tumblr. I'm sure I'll make some mistake along the way, feel free to heckle!

tribirdie's No sugar No grain photosettribirdie's No sugar No grain photoset


"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift"
- Steve Prefontaine
"Shut Up Legs"
- Jens Voigt
"No quit in this body. No quit in this Mind"
- Jill Poon (inspired by Jason Overbaugh)