Food for thought

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You can’t hide from bad fuel.

Flashback to the Pawling triathlon, halfway through the swim and I need breakfast…badly. I’m starving. The louder my stomach growls, the more depleted my energy reserves become.

Coming into transition to the bike I search for what I know isn’t there – a morsel. Gatorade doesn’t cut it. Needless to say, not my finest moment.

I’ve experienced the side effects of inadequate and incorrect eating, like going for an afternoon run after packing in some chili or calling half a dry bagel breakfast for a half Ironman. Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes.

Triathlon has been described as ‘swim, bike, run, eat,’ the fourth discipline equal in stature. So too in life. You can’t achieve peak performance unless you fuel your engine properly.

Poor nutrition has the same effect on people whether they’re running a marathon or pulling a marathon day at the office. Irritability, distraction, and fatigue don’t discriminate. If you’re on the starting line or in a meeting room, bad eating habits limit your effectiveness.

Just watch the coffee machine between 2 and 3 pm and see the parade of wannabe nappers going in for their afternoon jolt.

I am a vegan, which means I eat a plant-based diet. I’ve tried to limit carbs, mostly because if left to my own devices I’d probably eat pasta every day. Lucky for me my girlfriend, Kathy, is also a vegan and a fantastic cook who hungrily researches nutritional information and experiments with new meals. Every time she blazes culinary trails there’s an underlying method to her madness resulting in great tasting, nutritionally rich food.

These days nutrition stands alongside religion and politics as a topic sure to spur heated debate. Diets like Paleo and veganism are achieving cult status as they lash out at the genetically modified organism (GMO) world of processed food.

My message in this post is simple – if you’re not seriously considering what you’re eating and why you’re eating it, you are selling yourself short and limiting your ability to achieve your goals. Good nutrition is a choice and there is plenty of information out there to help you decide what’s right for you.

Start slow by investigating different dishes and simple recipes. Consider how much processed food you eat and how it makes you feel and experiment with new recipes. Healthy food does not need to be boring.

In order to embark on this journey you must be able to answer the question “how do I feel?” after eating a meal. This is where your athleticism can help.

When I went vegan, my biggest concern was breakfast and how I would replace scrambled eggs and a bagel for fueling my hard training days. This took patience and experimentation until I began to find alternatives, which include pancakes, oatmeal, loaded bagels, and tofu scramble, each completely vegan and able to fuel me for peak performance.

When you try something new, assess how you feel when you exercise. Write it down, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You’ll see patterns and begin developing the right diet for you.

Here’s an idea. Take the Engine 2 Diet 28-day challenge. Use this as a jumping off point for a nutritional exploration to find which foods prepare and propel you to greatness.

Your nutrition is way too important to leave in someone else’s hands. Make the right choices by doing the research and caring enough about yourself and your performance to do what’s right for your body and brain.

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2 thoughts on “Food for thought

  1. If doctors had a better road map for their patients … I think more Americans can get back to these basic rules a lot quicker. I don’t even want to say how many years it took me to realize I needed to start eating organically. But now I am 6 months strong, and feeling Great!

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