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Dizzy spells at the gym


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Hi there, 


I'm on Day 8 of the Whole30. I'm 29. I'm about 200 lbs, 5'4" and I'm incredibly active. I walk between 5-12 miles a day (this is how I went from 250 to 170lbs when I moved here four years ago, but started gaining weight again over the past year and a half (mostly do to drinking and a lack of meal planning, I think, because I stayed pretty active throughout). I'm currently fortunate enough that I can afford a trainer twice a week (for weight lifting/strength training) and I'm a runner who has been running for almost two years. I was running pretty actively but when I started the Whole30 I decided to hold off for a bit just to check in with my body and see how it was feeling so that I wasn't throwing too much at it. My plan had been to build running back into my life along with the training this week.


GET TO THE POINT: I saw my trainer this morning and I felt off. I felt off from when I woke up to when I walked over to the gym (about 2 miles) and then when we started the session. I told him I felt off, too, and he noticed, but we both agreed to work through it because I've had off days before (soon to discover, not like this). We were doing pretty intense work today and I was dragging. I just thought it was normal fatigue because I had hoped that Day 8 I would feel more energized. By the end of the workout, I was dizzy and needed to stop. I couldn't finish the last set. I felt sick to my stomach and extremely tired (some of this I'm sure was from the workout). My trainer asked me if I had had anything to eat that day, yet. I hadn't. Before starting the Whole30 I never ate before a workout in the morning. If it was in the afternoon then, sure, I would have eaten something during the day. But I hadn't needed to eat anything beforehand normally. 


I ended up waiting out the nausea and dizziness in the changing rooms. I had brought Turkey Blueberry "muffins" with me (http://summerinnanen.com/turkey-blueberry-breakfast-muffins) so I ate that and waited. It took me about 15 minutes to get enough energy to get up to take a shower. 15 minutes later, when I was leaving to get to work I felt less foggy. And now I feel fine. But it took about an hour total to feel like myself.


I was wondering if this has happened to other people. Is this something that I can offset with certain foods? I'm going to plan to eat something small before my workouts from now on and really try to check in with my body during my first Whole30 run tomorrow, but I wasn't sure if anyone else had experienced this. And it's entirely possible that it's not Whole30 related at all. 


As a side note - I did start my period today, but I've NEVER had something like this happen as a result of my period. 


Any thoughts? 



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It would help to get more details on what your eating, water consumption and sleep has been like.


Can you post 2-3 days of your food log, and include portion sizes, and pre/post wo meals, exercise, and timing of it all?  Include how much water you're drinking daily and your nightly hours of sleep.


That information will help us give you more specific feedback.

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Breakfast (after workout) - 2 Turkey Blueberry "muffin" thing above (these are smallish meatballs of goodness so two has felt the appropriate amount to start the day), large spinach salad (with red and yellow bell peppers), no salad dressing (didn't have time to make any that morning), an avocado


Lunch - Browned beef with red, green, and yellow peppers, onion over a large serving of cabbage. Half cup of carrots. Half to full avocado depending on how I feel


Dinner - Chicken breast. Sauteed broccoli, onion, green pepper, and cabbage. Serving of strawberries and blueberries.


That's pretty much what I've been eating for the past couple of days cause I ran out of eggs. Last night was the first time I had had fruit (outside the meat pie) in three or four days. 


I drink water like a fiend cause I find it keeps me full. My water bottle is 16oz and I'd say I drink a full amount once every couple hours. Maybe to 8-10 of those a day. More during the meal. I drink a full one before my workout. I make my way through a full one by the end of my workout. 


Again, I haven't been used to eating specifially pre-workout or post-workout so I haven't been doing that, as mentioned above. 


My sleep has been fine. I've been averaging 6-7 hours. Which is pretty typical for me. 

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Sleep-wise, you want to get closer to 8 hours of sleep nightly.

I would recommend at least adding post WO fuel of protein and carb after a strength training workout.  And at least pre WO fuel (even just a hard boiled egg) before your morning workout, especially since you felt off beforehand.

I can't tell how big your protein portions are, but I would increase the protein at least at meal 1 (have at least 3 of those turkey meatballs), and be sure you're getting 1-2 palms of protein at your other meals. Also get in 2-3 cups of veggies at each of your meals. 


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Boxedwine I just finished my whole 30 a couple of days ago and I had similar symptoms (though not to the point of actual dizziness or nausea). I did a combination of strength training, climbing and running for my weekly workouts and I never felt "normal" or strong in any of them. Frankly, I didn't feel "myself" during all my workouts. I didn't take it as a bad thing. I knew that there was going to be a lot of stuff happening internally once I committed to the new eating regime that also might manifest physically. My priority was nutrition and resetting. Any changes (good or bad) whether in mood, energy or strength, I just took away as feedback for my experience. So my take away/learning for weights was that I could NOT do them first thing in the morning without a PWO snack. Old life, no problem. New whole 30 life, problem.


Any of the symptoms that I felt during my whole 30, were signals my body was giving me. It was talking to me and it was up to me to figure out what it was trying to say to me and what it needed. I went into whole 30 realising that I may have some adjustments to my workouts but I had my fingers crossed for the best. I ended up having to compromise a bit (workout wise) but the benefits to my overall health and body have been worth it.


FWIW, I'm 43 and consider myself to have decent strength for a woman, and while I still managed to maintain my standard/current lifting volume/load, I *never* felt strong or ready to attempt a PR. (I also didn't try eating a PWO snack until today. Duh.) Some numbers for context: bench press 100 lbs, squat 135 lbs, deadlift 135 lbs, leg press 360 lbs, overhead press 60 lb. I run 2-3x week (45 mins to 1 hour). Climb 1-2x week. Also, my running needed to be scaled back both in time and intensity because my legs felt like lead bars.


You're putting your body through enormous stress asking it to change (for the better) when you undertake a whole 30 nutritional reset, so be patient and kind with yourself about the adjustment period and lessons learned. Best of luck! It gets better. :)

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Seems like you're not eating a lot of carbs which can definitely impact your energy levels and how well you get through a workout. In addition to a carb at your post-workout meal, try adding a fist-sized portion of carbohydrate (sweet potato, tubers, winter squash, etc.) to one of your regular meals. Another possible issue is electrolyte balance--specifically sodium. When you're eating Whole30, don't be afraid to salt your food. Your body NEEDS sodium, especially when you're highly active. Whenever I've been experiencing dizziness or blackness at the edges of my vision, a little extra salt at my next meal will fix me up.


You may also want to reconsider your activity level and ease up just a little to give your body time to rest and adjust. Walking as much as you do is plenty of cardio and the running isn't absolutely necessary unless it's just something you can't bear to give up.

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Remember the Meal Template is the minimum recommended amount of food. If you workout, you'll need more. Skimping on portions or fat is not recommended. You should be able to make it 4 - 5 hours between meals without feeling hungry if you are eating enough. Experiment with this as your body adjusts.


And for the first two weeks, take it easy in your workouts. The change your body is going through is a big one.

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