Tag Archives: exercise

A Vegan Athlete: What The Heck Should I Be Eating?

At 4:50 am every fucking morning, I convince myself to get out of bed and I drive 15 miles to a bootcamp class. It’s not the screaming, yelling type of bootcamp – it’s seven people or so, in varying forms of shape, working out and pushing themselves and their bodies to do all that they can. Beyond the gnawing alarm and having to actually wake up before 5 am – I love it. I love doing something in the morning, I love having time in the morning to get ready for my day and I just love feeling accomplished before I even set foot into my office.

One of the women I work out with has been kicking my ass recently. We used to stay neck-in-neck during the runs and we used to tire about the same time when strength training. The past month or so, she’s just been rocking and her level of fitness increased tenfold or mine declined a bunch.

Last week, when she took off her sweatshirt, I could see a little bit of her stomach. And holy hell. She was completely chiseled – I could actually see abs. Trying as hard I as I possibly could to not stare at her, I started thinking that she must be working out like three hours per day or something. Because I certainly don’t look like that.

This morning on our warm up run, we started talking. I told her she looked fantastic and I couldn’t help but notice how in shape she had become – I asked her what she had been doing – she looked at me and said “just this in the mornings.” I laughed and told her that there was no way – I was doing the same thing and I look nowhere near as good as she does and I am in nowhere near the shape that she is in. And she said “well, I changed the way I have been eating about two months ago – it seems to be working really well. I’m trying this method of eating called paleo.” and then my heart sank a little. Paleo. I had done the paleo diet for about three years. And during those three years – I was in the best shape of my life.

Paleo is essentially no dairy, no sugar (including maple syrup, honey, agave, etc.), no salt, no grains, no flour, no artificial sweetener. Paleo is very heavy on meat and eggs. But, what I liked about it despite it’s high calorie/high fat meat intake – it wasn’t low carb because fruit and veggies are encouraged. At the time, I felt like it was a very healthy, natural way to eat – meat, vegetables, fruit, healthy oil and nothing processed – perfect!

I hate to admit this, but physically, my body loved it. My runs were quick. My muscles were defined. And my athletic performance was fantastic.

All week I stewed over the fact that I was getting a bit doughy around the middle and that I had put on about 10 lbs since going vegan. And that I would never have my old body back. And that I would never look like my friend at bootcamp because I couldn’t bring myself to eat what she was eating just to look better. I huffed around my apartment. I actually yelled at my tofu (seriously, I did). I could have won an Oscar for my dramatic performance.

But yesterday, I sat down and started to think about what I could do. And the real reasons why I was getting a little flabby. The biggest reason – bread. I have probably eaten more sourdough bread in the past two months than I have in the past two years. French fries are reason number two. French fries are vegan and perfect hangover and stress cures. I’ve eaten a lot of those too. Coconut ice cream. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth – but I do love ice cream. And there has been a steady supply of coconut ice cream in my fridge since veganism and I got reacquainted. My other downfall has been chips and guacamole – I can’t seem to get enough. I have been eating chips and guacamole from a local restaurant nearly every single day during lunch.

I also thought about the things I liked about the paleo diet and the things I didn’t. What I didn’t like was obvious – so much emphasis on animal products. But, I do like the no dairy (obviously) and no sugar part of the diet. As well as the no processed food.

So, I started imagining what a vegan paleo diet would look like. I would obviously have to make some concessions – beans are not allowed on the regular paleo diet – but they would certainly be on my plan. But, I decided if I am going to have them, I have to make them from scratch and not get them out of a can (mostly for sodium reasons).

So, I am going to give it a vegan paleo diet a try. Starting today. It’s actually going to be fairly easy I think and I’m anxious to see if I get the same results that I got using the original paleo.

Oh and before I get too ahead of myself here – this is not about weight loss. This is about trying to get back into peak shape. I mean, I would never complain about nice defined abs – but being able to run long distances again without wanting to die after the third mile and to not burn out when strength training would be amazing. Getting back into tip top shape is really my goal. I’ve lost sight of that over the past few months and started becoming obsessed with calories and fat and thinking that if I lost a bunch of weight – I could run further and faster and have more endurance. That could be true – but I need to remember how to fuel my body properly. Worry less about calories and more about what I am putting into my body.

So, how is this vegan paleo thing going to work?

Well, here’s how I started today:

Breakfast – smoothie with organic hemp + fiber protein powder, organic coconut milk, organic slices of fresh coconut and organic frozen cherries. Coffee with organic coconut milk creamer (ok, the creamer is a definite no on this plan – but I’m not weaning myself off of it just yet)
Snack – organic chocolate yerba mate tea and an organic blood orange
Lunch – organic spaghetti squash with organic spicy tomato sauce, steamed organic cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. I might slice an organic avocado on top (a little bit of a strange combo, but the fat from the avocado helps keep me full).
Snack – more organic chocolate yerba mate tea and another organic blood orange
Dinner – organic tofu (not sure what I am going to marinade it in yet – since salt is out) and roasted organic vegetables – probably carrots, cauliflower and maybe parsnips. I’ll probably use 2-3 TB of organic olive oil with dinner.

Why have I said organic before everything I have eaten today? Because it’s all organic. And I truly believe that everybody needs to buy organic food, if it is within their means. I am trying to save up a fortune and I don’t make that much money – but organic food is the one thing I really don’t skimp on.

So, we’ll see how it goes. Basically, this is just making sure I get plenty of protein (I’m actually a little low today since my goal is athletic performance), plenty of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats – really the perfect way to eat and the way I should be eating ninety percent of the time.

If I get REALLY brave (and if anybody really wants to see) – I’m debating doing a before/after photo series….but I’m not sure if anybody really wants to see that.

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Let’s Talk About Running

Ok, just want to let everybody know how freaking FANTASTIC I feel. I woke up at 4:45 a.m. (my normal wake up time) with loads of energy, my stress level is way down and overall, I just feel great. This lifestyle is definitely agreeing with me.

This post isn’t going to be about veganism, so feel free to skip if that is what you are here for.

I’m a runner. Not a great runner – I don’t win any races and somedays I can barely get through running a mile before I want to pass out and die – but I run anyway.

I try to run five days per week – it doesn’t always happen – but I am making some changes to make sure that it does. I’ve started running during my lunch hour. And despite coming back to the office a little sweatier than I would like, it’s been amazing.

I always bring my lunch to work and I would normally sit at my desk and work through lunch – I would be lucky if I got outside to grab a cup of coffee. I decided last week that I wasn’t going to continue working through my lunch anymore (at least not every day). So, I’ve been throwing on my workout clothes and getting outside and running.

The runs during my lunch have been pretty easy – I don’t want to go all out and get really gross and sweaty. Plus, I keep them between 30-40 minutes. I’ve actually gone back to basics and started the Couch to 5k running plan again during my lunch break – it’s pretty easy for me now since I have been running for awhile and when it’s time for me to run – I find that I run and not jog. Also, there is nothing better for your heart than interval training. So, the running/walking combo is probably one of the best things you can do to keep your heart healthy.

I get back to the office and I feel energized and focused. It’s really great – no wonder so many people work out at lunch!

Are any of you runners? I’m trying to balance my running program with strength training and maybe some yoga…

I start my training for the San Diego Rock n Roll half marathon in the next couple of weeks – so stay tuned for lots of running updates!

Eating Animals or Not Eating Animals?

In 2009, I’ve lost 35 pounds.  I also watched Earthlings, read Eating Animals and The China Study. I fell in love with the idea of a vegan diet. I tried a vegan diet for about 5 months and was successful, except I didn’t lose weight the weight that I was convinced would just melt off my body. Instead, I gained a little. I incorporated non-fat milk based protein shakes, eggs and fish back into my diet and 5 months later…I had lost 35 pounds. But, I don’t feel good about this. The weight loss is amazing and I still have another 25-35 to go – but I want to do it in a kinder way. I don’t want to sit down to lunch and think about how the food I’m eating contributed to extreme cruelty to an animal, to the demise of our planet and likely to unfair treatment of the worker that produced my food.

But, my nutritionist and the woman I work out with have given veganism a huge red flag for reasons from I can’t lose weight to I won’t gain muscle to I might get skinny, but I’ll stay flabby – the reasons why they think veganism isn’t a good eating strategy are overwhelming and can be convincing (two super skinny, super fit women with degrees in nutrition – hard advice to ignore).

Despite this advice, I decided to gradually go to a vegan diet again. The reason for the gradual shift is that my fridge and freezer still contain fish, eggs, protein shakes (milk based) and butter. I won’t be purchasing anymore animal products. Once these products are gone, my vegan diet will start. I would guess it will fully start in a month.

I’m blogging about whether or not losing weight on a vegan diet works (coming from a diet of mostly vegetables and very lean animal protein), whether I can continue to burn fat and gain muscle, whether I can train for high endurance events (half marathon on June 6th) and how much eating a healthy, vegan diet costs. I’ve heard such different things from so many different people that I think that I just need to see for myself. Do I think I can do it? I honestly have no idea – I’d like to think so. Hopefully, it may help some of you on the edge of veganism make up your mind one way or another once and for all.

This isn’t a diet blog or a weight loss blog or an exercise blog. It’s about me. And how I’m trying to be kinder to myself, to the planet and to the people around me. It’s about trying to take a chance and see if I can make an already pretty great life a whole lot better for me and for those around me.