A review of the Swim Bike Fuel Nutrition Plan

photo credit: Johnny Vulkan via photopin cc

photo credit: Johnny Vulkan via photopin cc

Kelly over at Some Random Thursday just wrote a review of her thoughts on the Swim Bike Fuel program, and I realized it was high time I did my own review.  Kelly and I have very different opinions on the program, but I’m in no way saying that her opinion is wrong.  I respect her thoughts.  I just wanted to present a different view.

So what is Swim Bike Fuel?  Well, if you’re a lady triathlete, especially a newer triathlete, you’ve probably heard of Swim Bike Mom.  Meredith A. is a fabulous lady who really presents the raw truth of training for a triathlon.  She discusses life balance and weight struggles, and one of the things I love about her is that she isn’t perfect and she’s happy to share that.

That said, like many of us, she found that her diet needed some work, so she started working with Meredith V., a nutritionist and all around lovely lady. Together, they developed the Swim Bike Fuel program.  Swim Bike Fuel is a 26 day nutrition program.  It’s not necessarily a weight loss program, but for many of us carrying around a lot of extra pounds, figuring out proper nutrition will probably lead to weight loss.

I joined the September group.  It wasn’t cheap, but I was at my wits end with weight loss.  I had been trying to lose weight for years.  Basically, once I got sick in 2010, all bets were off and my weight steadily crept up.  Some of it was stress eating.  I also blamed medications.  But I let it happen, and suddenly I was in the 180’s.  I’m 5’3″.  That’s not good.  So I tried Weight Watchers.  And I would lose a few pounds and gain it back.  I tried calorie counting.  I would lose a few pounds and gain it back.  I started to realize that my “lows” were just under 180.  I just wanted to say good bye to the 180 mark for good.  So in a fit of desperation, I signed up.

The plan is a 26 day plan, with one lesson a day.  The first lesson, I thought “Oh no.  This is obvious.  Did I just waste my money?”  But the lessons kept coming and on Day 5, I realized that I was already failing to follow Day 1.  And it got more into proper diet and emotional eating (I joke that I eat my feelings) and I realized that I was slowly starting to lose weight.  And yet, I didn’t feel like I was making MAJOR changes in my life.

One of the great things about the plan is the complete access to Meredith V. for the duration of the plan.  Each session has a private Facebook group, and while I wondered how she would give personal attention to all 100 people, she definitely managed it.  I can’t imagine how many hours she was spending answering questions.  There were also two “office hours” where the Merediths answered questions that were submitted, which were surprisingly helpful.  And recorded, if you couldn’t make the scheduled times.

Was it worth it?  To me, it definitely was.  I started the plan September 1.  I’m down almost 15 pounds since (soooo close to nailing that 15 pound mark).  Those 180’s are long gone and I hope to never see them again.  And that’s including a trip to Disney and a trip for a family funeral.  I did not eat particularly well during either and I’ve reached a bit of a plateau, but hey, I’ll take it.  I do think I made smarter choices than I would have a few months ago.  But the bigger key is that I feel better.  My skin is clearer.  I have more energy.  And the best part of the plan is that almost nothing is off limits.  (MV will tell you to avoid a few things, but hey, I haven’t missed them at all.)  I’m not calorie counting.  I’m not strictly logging what I eat (though if my weight loss stalls completely once I get back to really properly eating, I may log for a bit to see what the numbers look like).  I feel like I’m eating more food, but I think the key is that I’m eating a more balanced diet so I’m not dealing with cravings all the time.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the Facebook group at first, since I’m not a huge sharer in groups like that, but it turned out to be great.  Why?  Because it wasn’t a standard weight loss group where everyone is at a different spot.  Sure, we were all at different places in our weight loss journey, but when it came to this program, we were all in the same place.  And we shared recipes and successes and failures and had a great time.

I’m not saying this program is for everyone.  Like I said, I’m not sure there was a whole lot that was “new,” but rather than dealing with contradictory information from many different sources, I just stuck with what we were taught, even if it seemed counter to what I knew (like not calorie counting, for example), and accepting that this was going to happen in baby steps.  And it worked.  There were definitely a few “A ha!” moments in there too, which I did not expect.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not magic.  There is no magic pill to weight loss.  But for me, this is what worked.  I’m a smart lady.  I thought I should have figured it out by myself, given all the research and reading that I did.  But I just couldn’t put it all together into a solid action plan.  So if like me, you’ve tried all the plans and you’re still struggling with weight or proper nutrition, check out the info and consider giving it a shot.

Quick Choir Concert Recap


It has been a whirlwind few weeks.  Space Coast, Disney, home for a few days, then back to my hometown for a family funeral, then back to DC and straight into concert week, then a weekend with three choir concerts.

No wonder I’m exhausted.

I’ve missed probably 75% of my workouts since Space Coast.  I’m okay with that.  Life comes first, and I don’t have any major races for a while.  I did manage to squeeze in an 8 mile run yesterday morning, which should count for something.

The majority of my weekend was taken up with choir concerts.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I sing with the Cathedral Choral Society, the secular choir at the National Cathedral.  It is a gorgeous place to sing, and our Christmas concerts are definitely our big event of the season.  Normally, we just have one concert, but for Christmas we do three.  Two big concerts and one hour-long concert that is designed to be super kid-friendly.  It’s a lot of fun, but it’s totally exhausting.  On Saturday night, after two concerts, I could not believe how sore my body was.  I’m in fairly decent shape – I don’t know how people who aren’t manage it.  But even though it’s exhausting, this is my favorite concert set that we do.  I love the holiday music, even though it may not always be traditional.

This is a recording of my favorite piece we sang.  It’s not us, but I’d like to think we did at least half as good as this choir.  It’s sung in 8 parts and is a lot of fun to hear the lead bounce around.


Holidailies – The Holiday Brag Letter

2015holibadge-blueFor the I don’t know what-th year, I’m doing Holidailies. And I’m doing quite well, seeing as it’s the 11th and this is my first post.  Credit for the attempt?

This year, there aren’t regular prompts, just random prompts, so I figured I would give it a shot.  My random prompt for the day:

Write the annual holiday brag letter for your family.

This has been an eventful year for the Maryland Sullivans.  Still a family of three, they continue to impress with their kindness and talent, as well as their ability to leave their fur on everything that comes within striking distance.  (This includes the human, who manages to leave long red hairs everywhere.)

This year, Pippin remains on his doctor recommended diet, but he is a fan of the concept of “Go big or go home,” so he remains big.  And at home.  He’s not great at the concept.  But that just means there’s more of him to love.  He also continues to work on his singing skills.  When visitors arrive, he gleefully sings them the song of his people.  He also enjoys going outside and gnawing on the plants in the landscaping.  His war with the dove pair is ongoing, as they continue to peer at him through the window and he continues to growl at them.  Other birds are viewed more kindly, but those doves clearly wronged him and he will get his revenge.

Cadu continues to lament his brother’s weight loss plan as it often means fewer snacks for him.  However, he is skilled enough to jump onto the counter (much to his brother’s dismay) so he occasionally gets extra treats there.  He spends his day following the sunbeams around the house.  It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Now that the Christmas Tree has once again returned to the living room, he sacrifices some sunbeam time for hours spent sleeping under the tree and occasionally gnawing on its (synthetic) branches.  It’s a holiday tradition, after all.

The breadwinner of the family continues to fill up her days with work, friends, and ridiculous fitness pursuits.  She writes a blog, so you’ve probably heard this all before. After all, her blog is ridiculously popular (oh wait…).  In 2015, she aimed for quality over quantity, and the race results prove that it was a worthwhile pursuit.  No new race distances for her this year, but 2016 will involve her most ridiculous race yet.  For Christmas, she’s really hoping for some uninterrupted sleep, but somehow, sharing a bed with two cats leaves little room for her and she’s often woken up by a large furbeast trying to steal her pillow.  They are furry little jerks, but they are family.

It’s Real – 2016 IM 70.3 Augusta

IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta

Some of you may have noticed the new countdown over in my sidebar.  That’s right.  I’ve registered for my first 70.3 distance race.

(For you non-triathletes out there, a 70.3, sometimes called a half iron distance race, is a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run.)

I can’t decide if I’m terrified or excited.  Mostly excited.  A little terrified, but not of the race, just of the training I’m going to have to do to get there.  I’m confident I can cover the distance. The 8.5 hour time limit?  Well, it’s doable.  But I want to be comfortable with that time limit.  I want to be able to say “Yeah, I can totally do this within the time allotted, no worries.”

I played with a time calculator for a while.  Based on my results at Giant Acorn, if I can keep up those paces at double the speed, I’ll have an hour for transitions in order to stay within the time limits.  Of course, that was a stupidly fast run for me, and I’m not sure I can keep that up for a half marathon.

Then I put in my worst times for each segment (Colonial Beach swim, Fort Ritchie Bike, Williamsburg run).  That put me at 8:37 before transition.  Of course, that’s a terrible way to guess a pace because the Colonial Beach swim happened during a rainstorm, the Fort Ritchie bike got changed last minute and I had to walk a hill, plus the second half of the course is all uphill, and at Williamsburg, it was eleventy billion degrees so I walked so I didn’t pass out.

So then I just looked at my Williamsburg paces.  After all, Augusta could be hot.  So what happens if I have to walk a good chunk of the run?  Victory!  40 minutes for transition.

Of course, these calculations are really meaningless, but what they tell me is that if I stick to my training, this is totally doable.  I know I can cover the distance, it’s just that time limit that scares me.  Which is my typical feeling about races.

I’m spending the winter really focusing on my bike skills, plus I have my shiny new bike which has yet to participate in a race.  So my plan is to build up enough speed that whatever happens on the run, I will cross that finish line with time to spare.

And most importantly, I have a number of friends who are also racing and a few who have commented that they will come to cheer and/or sherpa, so either way, it’s going to be a great time.

Wednesday Workout Recap… yeah no

Since running the Space Coast Half a little over a week ago, I’ve barely worked out.  Zero runs.  Two trainer rides.  It definitely wasn’t a planned break, but it’s probably good for my body.

This week isn’t going to be much better.  I’m singing three holiday concerts this weekend, which means late rehearsals Wednesday and Friday.  I know I should get up early and get in a workout before work, but since I’m out til around 10:30 at night, the last thing I want to do is get out of bed any earlier than 5:15.  I don’t know how people who get up at 3 for a workout manage it.  If there are any magical tricks, please share those with me.

Apparently, my coach doesn’t think singing two concerts on Saturday counts as a workout, so somewhere in there, I’ve also got to find time for an 8 mile run.  I’m sure it will go great after two weeks of no running, right?

Good thing my next big race isn’t for a few weeks.