My IBD/SCD Journey
Following a restricted diet like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) takes patience, dedication, and resilience. It's hard to take a stance and follow a protocol that some people, including doctors, dismiss despite evidence of its success. It's difficult to follow a long-term plan that has slow results when so many short-term fixes exist. It's hard to believe in your body's ability to heal when it has become so broken.
When I decided to follow SCD I was lucky to have the support of my husband and immediate family but it still took a leap of faith that first year. The success I had was due to pushing forward, not letting set-backs get me down, and a willingness to ask for help. The diet worked for me and it continues to work, so I'm sharing my story here in case it inspires someone else to stick to a similar diet, question traditional thinking, or believe in their ability to heal.
BACKBONE TRAIL PT 3: THE GRANDE FINALE
The final stretch of my Backbone Trail adventure was this Sunday. If you haven't already read my first two posts, this was the third and final section of the Backbone Trail - a 68 mile trail that extends through the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers Park in Pacific Palisades to La Jolla Canyon near Point Mugu. My friend and I divided up the trail into 3 sections and completed them on three consecutive Sundays - part 1 was Will Rogers to Piuma Road (23 miles); part 2 was Piuma Road to Encinal Canyon Road (20 miles); and part 3 would be Encinal Canyon Road to La Jolla Canyon (25 miles - though it actually logged in at 28 but more on that later).
This final stretch was the farthest from my house and since we were dropping one car at the start and one at the finish, it required the most pre-hike commuting. The shorter days and our hike pace necessitated we have as much daylight as possible, so we opted to stay overnight in a nearby hotel, reducing our morning-of commute to only 45 minutes instead of nearly 2 hours.
The logistics of taking all my gear and SCD meals to a hotel for an overnight stay were more complex and so this post will go into how I prepared.
A week ago my friend and I hiked the first 23 miles of the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. We hiked for 9 hours from Will Rogers to Piuma Road as part of our goal to hike the entire 68 mile trail over 3 consecutive Sundays. In my first post, Backbone Trail Part 1, I wrote about all the type-A ways I prepared for the first 9 hour hike. This week, I'm discussing getting my body back to 'normal' and getting ready for Part 2 - Rinse, Recover, Repeat!
While hiking 68 miles over 3 days is my idea of a party, I realize I may be in the minority. Only a few of my very active friends would consider such madness, and only one actually said yes.
If you're reading this post, it's possible you are considering a similar extreme hike and if that's you I say, "Yes, yes yes, go for it! It's amazing and awful and you'll learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of". If that's not you though, maybe you are here for a different reason.
Either way, I hope this post will offer something for everyone and I am so glad you're here to read it.
Backbone Trail Part 1: What happens when my Type-A self plans to hike 23 miles in 9 hours
,Backbone is a 68 mile trail that spans the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu near Malibu. Backbone is a stunning trail with a ocean views, tree canopies, dramatic boulders, creeks, and wildlife. It is well-maintained trails with mostly good trail signage (some areas not so much) and a few bathrooms/water fountains along the way. It is accessible from several canyon roads like Topanga, Kanan, and Latigo so an out and back hike can be an excellent option for someone wanting to explore just a few miles at at time.
Over the past few years, I've run and hiked much of the trail in these small bite-sized sections but have had my heart set on traversing the entire trail in a more methodical way. While I'd LOVE to do it all in one shot, a more realistic approach for me is breaking it up into 3-4 sections. That journey started yesterday, November 8, with the first 23 miles from Will Rogers to Piuma Road.
RESEARCH: Setting off on a 23 mile hike that would take a projected 9 hours and involve over 4000 ft of climbing, meant doing some research first. There are multiple resources for learning about this trail system including the National Park Service and the County of LA websites. I personally stopped by the Santa Monica Mountains Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch to buy the 3 Tom Harrison maps that I have pinned up on my wall, guide books, and to speak to a Park Ranger (as of 11/9 though they are still closed due to the pandemic). There are also multiple online blogs like Hikespeak and AllTrails.
In this post, I'm not going to recount the details of the trails, the views, or the terrain. As you can see above, there are plenty of resources for that and honestly, until you actually get out there, it's all a bit of an enigma. Instead I'm going to focus on what I packed and how I fueled my 9 hour hike following SCD principles - i.e. real food, no grains, no processed sugar.
Instant Pot: 5 Beginner Friendly, Make-Ahead Foods that are SCD and Super Simple!
If you're new to using an Instant Pot, it can feel overwhelming (especially if you're also new a special diet like SCD). There are a bazillion amazing looking recipes online, but if you don't know the basics on how to cook with your IP, they'll likely feel a little out of reach.
When teaching my Intro to the Instant Pot classes, I focus on getting students comfortable with how to use the buttons. Once they've mastered the concepts like pressure, natural vs quick release, and saute, complex recipes seem less daunting.
I've laid out 5 simple and easy, intro to Instant Pot food prep guides (that are also SCD friendly) to help you learn the function of your machine.
The #GettingHigh tour continued this weekend on Santa Catalina, one of California's Channel Islands. Catalina Island is only about 76 square miles and is home to spectacular trails, including the Trans Catalina Trail (TCT), and 52 miles of coastline. It is a short boat ride from Los Angeles and an amazing getaway for those who seek nature with a few modern conveniences.
WHERE TO STAY IN CATALINA
Catalina Island has two main boat docks that are serviced by the Catalina Express. On the east side of the island is the well-developed city of Avalon with restaurants, hotels, shops, a botanical garden, and even concerts and festivals (during non-COVID times). It's
INSTANT POT - WHICH MODEL TO CHOOSE
With Amazon Prime Day kicking off tomorrow I thought an Instant Pot post was in order. This is the first of many that I'll be posting about Instant Pot cooking because I'm a #1 fan - I've taught classes at my local community center, library, in homes, and on Zoom! I've learned all the cool ways to use it and have even invented some of my own tricks. Keep an eye on my page for tons of info, especially for those who follow SCD or any special diet like KETO, FODMAP, GAPS, or PALEO.
INSTANT POT AS A TIME SAVER
If you are following an elimination diet or if you want to rely less on processed foods, you are well aware how cooking and eating becomes a central life focus! I’ve been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for 3 years and even though it is now second nature, much of my day is spent in the kitchen either prepping, cooking, or cleaning up. The other part of my day (or so it feels) is spent at the grocery store and wondering what to cook for dinner!
An amazing tool for the kitchen that can simplify things is the Instant Pot. I love mine - in
(please note that this trip took place pre-COVID when masks and social distancing were not a consideration. I wrote it back then but thought it had some good tips for travel during pandemic times, since many of us are sticking to our cars and not eating in restaurants along the road).
Whether you are considering participating in a Ragnar Relay (or other multi-day sport event) or have a long road trip with minimal stops in your future and want some ideas on how to stick to your special diet, this post is for you. You may need to read between the Ragnar-specific lines, but I hope anyone who is about to spend over 36 hours on the road will benefit from my experience.
WHAT IS A RAGNAR RELAY?
Imagine 12 people spread across 2 vans, taking turns running a total of 200 miles. The course is broken down into 36 “legs” that are typically 3-10 miles long. Each person takes a turn running every 12 hours or so, a total of 3 times. That means someone is running at all times, even during the night and early morning hours - until all 12 people have reached the finish line about 30-36 hours later. The two vans leapfrog for a period of 4-6 hours each. When Van One is “on” the team of 6 on board is shuttling and cheering for each other; meanwhile Van Two is “off” meaning the other 6 runners have stopped to have a meal, rest, restock supplies, etc. Then they switch, a total of three times. Sleep is never a given because 4-6 hours goes really really quickly when you have to commute to the next location. The rule seems to be sleep, eat, get clean – pick 2.
EXTREME ROAD TRIP ON SCD
Being on a restricted diet – Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for my ulcerative colitis -
SKIN PROTECTION ON THE TRAILS
Sunshine has many benefits - increased Vitamin D production and mood enhancement, plus it may even prevent certain diseases like IBD. But too much of a good thing is never a good thing (yes, even when it comes to chocolate and money!). Overexposure to sun without proper protections can lead to skin damage and possibly cancer. This risk may be enhanced for people with IBD who have underlying immune disfunction and/or are on immunosuppressive medications.
I live and run in Los Angeles. Perpetual sun, air pollution, dust and pollen, poison oak lined trails, and IBD means skin protection is an essential part of my running health. Am I overly cautious? Maybe, but in the end I don't want to look 80 when I'm 50.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE SKIN SAVERS:
MY SILLY HAT! When I opened the Amazon package and revealed my wide brimmed, neck-caped hat, my teen daughter just about had a heart attack, and so did I as it was my first step in looking seriously uncool on the trails.
I am so incredibly lucky to have a place like Griffith Park within a 15 minute drive from my home. It's a gem of greenery in the middle of my crazy city, Los Angeles, that truly has something for everyone within it's 4200 acres and 50+ miles of trails. You want flat road to run on, trails to hike, historic sites, or picnic areas? Check! check! check!
The 11 peaks of Griffith Park create a recognizable ridgeline from several vantage points around LA, with the Hollywood Sign as the crowning exclamation point! Burbank Peak (home of the Wisdom Tree), Cahuenga Peak, Mt Lee (with the Hollywood Sign), Mt Chapel, Mt Bell, Baby Bell, Taco Peak, Mt Hollywood, Hogback Peak, Glendale Peak, and Beacon Hill.
At the time of this writing Burbank Peak and Cahuenga Peak are closed to avoid crowding
About the Gutsy Runner!
Lucie is a runner, hiker, and fitness coach who follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for her ulcerative colitis. She is currently on a year long birthday celebration that includes covering 2021 miles on foot and exploring some of the areas most iconic and beautiful trails. Read more