Live the Script to Nutrition Success

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I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life.  You see, life is a battlefield.  Life is survival of the fittest.  How many healthy people do you know?  How many happy people do you know?  Think about it.  People work at dying, they don’t work at living.  My workout is my obligation to life.  It’s my tranquilizer.  It’s part of the way I tell the truth – and telling the truth is what’s kept me going all these years. – Jack LaLanne

Despite being quite fit and strong since I can remember, there was always something missing. I never missed a workout, and if I did, I’d make up for it by doing calisthenics in my spare moments at home or in between commitments. Instant feedback, endorphin rush, muscle pump, vascularity, increased energy, etc. kept me coming back day in and day out. Nutrition wasn’t even on my radar. I consumed too much of everything bad and had an immature relationship with nutrition and health. I was lazy and took shortcuts whenever I could. Luckily, this didn’t last…

Fast forward to late 2005. I had started to make fitness and personal training my career. Surrounded by friends who had matured in their nutrition and consumption behaviors, as well as clients that struggled with this aspect (some mightily), I started to take this aspect more seriously. Still, I wasn’t ready to give up the food as pleasure outlook I’d been living my entire life. Jump ahead a few more months and my training curiosity placed me in the bodybuilding world in the summer of 2006. Good nutrition builds lean mass. A heavy rotation of protein: steak/fish/chicken/eggs, and healthy carbs: sweet potatoes and brown rice, had me realizing the work hard, eat smart equation produces results. I signed up for a competition, which built-in accountability and added a deadline feature to this process. A magic formula if there ever was one. My food choices were narrowed down to only those things that would guarantee a successful outcome. Elimination works. Just getting rid of the sweets, refined sugars, and most carbs had me leaning out and putting on muscle. The decision fatigue that plagues many adults was no longer present. I had begun to evolve as an adult.

After competing in the bodybuilding competition I realized that the weightlifting lifestyle was not for me. Being active, mobile, light, lean, and adaptable was much more appealing. I started rock climbing and trail running. Both sports require a maximum strength to weight ratio. Like bodybuilding, the sport, or activity, was the driver for the nutritional component to follow. Fueling for prolonged movement meant eating less (volume), but more nutritionally dense foods. The focus was on feeling light and agile. Over time, my appearance shifted quite drastically. I was smaller but leaner, and more striking in physicality. Think Bruce Lee versus an NFL linebacker. The saying, “appearance is a consequence of fitness” became something I could actually relate to.

Epiphany. I can control how I look and feel by moving daily, and eating only healthy foods. We all know this works. Live the script day in and day out. By doing this you will develop your own standard.

My Nutritional Environment:

  • Drink a lot of water with a pinch of sea salt. Start your day with 20-24 ounces of cold water. Drink up to 1 gallo throughout the day depending on the activity level and environmental demands.
  • Water. Coffee. Tea. An adult beverage in the evening.
  • Smoothie:
    • Almond or Coconut Milk
    • Almond Butter
    • Blueberries
    • Spinach
    • Protein Powder
    • Local Honey
  • Snacks (options):
    • Mary’s Gone Crackers (costco in bulk)
    • Avocado
    • Kirkland Protein Bars (costco in bulk)
    • Hardboiled Eggs
    • Dates
    • Macadamia Nuts
  • Dinners:
    • Chicken / Sardines / Venison / Steak
    • Occasional sweet potato, brown rice, or other carbs
    • Spinach salad w/beets, carrots, feta, avocado oil and sea salt
      • or similar combo of veggies, sometimes sauteed.
  • Cheating:
    • 1-2 meals a week. Keep it to a meal, not an entire day. Make sure you are very active on that day and it won’t set you back very much.
  • Always check in with how your nutrition is making you feel. This is key.
    • NOTE: be honest with alcohol. Don’t consume within 90 minutes of bedtime or you’ll pay for it in quality of sleep, hydration, and performance the next day.
  • Be smart when you intake carbs. Make sure they go right to an activity or are being stored for a big cardio/endurance event the next morning.

Many years later I still adhere to this philosophy. Make good choices easier by limiting your options. Repetition is beneficial or harmful. I choose to make it beneficial by making the high-calorie meal the outlier. Plan for success. Foster the environment for this to occur.

Make the transformational process of owning your health a focused competition with hard deadlines. This works! Remember that today is the best day of the rest of your life and live it that way. Positive choices > Negative choices. Win the day.

Writing this reminded me of a great article that arrived in my inbox last summer. Click here to read.

The Ebb and Flow of Training

Dealing with the Ebb and Flow of Training

Day to day, sometimes even hour-to-hour, life can feel like a rollercoaster. One moment you are excited, focused, and maybe even proud. The next you are lacking confidence, purpose, and direction. Seeking balance, in each moment, is not necessarily a possibility. Life is hard, but this too shall pass, as each day the sunsets and each morning we are given another chance.

In training we experience these emotions as well. Sometimes, you can’t predict when you’ll have a bad day of training. It just happens. As somebody that has been training, daily, for most of my life, these unpredictable bad training days are still hard to handle, but I have learned from them. The feeling of failure, or inadequacy is part of the process of improving. We must recognize that fact even before we begin our training. Sometimes doing our best means managing poor performance, or low points, when they occur.

Training for a purpose is very effective because it culminates. There is a competition, or end-point. Each day has significance as we only have so many days to make improvements. This pressure is healthy in that it helps us focus. Willpower becomes the most frequently used arrow in our quiver. By dealing with low points, struggling through tough training sessions, and working on our weaknesses we get stronger. This strength is not felt, but is part of the process of training.

When I signed up to run my first half-marathon my only goal was to be competitive and not finish last. I was naïve, but that naivety allowed me to have no ego. When my ego was essentially taken out of the equation, I had a very clear mind during the competition. I listened to how I felt, without worry about what place I was in.

This same thing happened with my first marathon, my first 50-mile, and my first 100 mile race. Sure I had goals, but I did not have lofty expectations. The races had equal amounts of low and high emotions, but what I remember more about each are the high points. You see experience, is what we seek. We are after the process of the event, not the product of finishing.

What I realized is that you never arrive anywhere. Things begin and they end. You have good days, and bad days. You have good races, and bad races. Motivation can be high or low. What ties these feelings together is the flow of training. We learn how to deal with the realness of the situation, in the moment. Removing the ego, and expectation of a result, transformation, or lofty “product” at the end of the cycle is mandatory to staying in the game.

I’ll keep running ultramarathons until I no longer have the desire. What I’ve learned thus far is that you can’t be tied to the past… your past successes or failures, in whatever form or arena they occurred in, cannot direct your future.

Work on developing your willpower. Strengthen your mind. Focus in the moment. Self-assess when things are not going “well” or “smoothly,” and recognize that you are in it for the experience and not simply the result. For most of us, walking 45 minutes a day is a lot healthier than doing a high intensity interval workout for 15 minutes three times a week.

Create flow and you give yourself a chance to be happy. Create chaos and you’ll end up cleaning up the mess both emotionally and physically.

A strong mind does not only come from getting up after you’ve been knocked down. A strong mind comes from confronting the emotional rollercoaster that is life, and learning to master how you respond to stressful, uncomfortable, situations on a daily basis.

Never give up!