Athletics / Nutrition

My Story: Food Issues & Fueling for Athletics

My passion for nutrition began in a slightly unconventional way. I was never a “foodie” – at least not a “foodie” in the cute and healthful way that people usually consider foodies as. What I was? Incredibly obsessed with fad dieting and losing “just an extra 10 pounds.” I’m sure you can relate. I was an athlete through swimming, and was constantly involved in whatever workout fad was out there – Insanity, P90X, Crossfit, etc. I tried every diet around – ask any of my friends. I was either Paleo, counting macros, on the ‘zone’ diet. I mastered measuring my food, and counting calories. I always thought I was ahead of the nutrition game – but little did I know how far behind I was. Looking back on it, I can’t believe the things that I ate because I thought they were healthy. My previous mindset of all or nothing was the reason I constantly held onto the weight that other athletes and people my age simply did not have.

I thought that ‘protein’ made a meal complete. I would eat meat three meals a day, I would snack on cashews and high caloric fat dense foods as a ‘guilty snack’ for hours, instead of eating a single piece of pizza – because pizza was “bad.” I bought into EVERY. SINGLE. marketing trick out there. If it said paleo? That meant I could eat unlimited amounts of it with no guilt. If it said “All-Natural” – that meant it was a healthy snack. I had NO idea what I was doing. Why? Because I believed the world of business and food marketing. I believed that if I ate like the people I wanted to look like – it was as simple as that.

I knew NOTHING about nutrition – but at the same time I thought I knew it all. My frustration with my weight, my inflammation problems, and my auto-immune issues grew and grew as I graduated high school and began training for triathlons in college. I remember repeating the phrase to myself “I eat healthier than anyone I know, and I workout more than every person my age – why do I look like this?” This carried into my fueling philosophy for nutrition and sport as well.

Before I became knowledgeable about fueling for sport – my knowledge was always: I need more fuel. No matter what it was. If I was working out, there was ONLY replenish and replace. my energy and my muscles needed processed high caloric fat + sugar and maltodextrin filled treats. My coaches, who were professional athletes, constantly advised me to eat MORE. Eat the same way that they would fuel their 6-7 hour days as professional athletes. So, I did it. I always wondered why I was carrying extra weight – I worked out so much. I trained for hours. I thought I was eating right – I always prioritized what I thought was healthy, and always listened to my coaches.

It wasn’t until I listened to @richroll talk to @raycronise and @julieannahever about plant based nutrition and fueling that I realized perhaps my method was wrong. I decided that I had to meet Ray and Julieanna. I wanted to experience the magic program they’d seemed to create. Backed by science and real success stories – I was determined to get my nutrition right, lose the weight I carried, and become the best athlete I could be. But I had NO idea what I was in for.

I eventually met Ray and J- they taught me so much about weight loss, food, plant-based nutrition, and introduced me to the world of less is more. Wants vs. need – introduced me to fueling my races with whole food – experimenting with training on less, vs training with more. My life changed after working with them, and I was hooked. I delved head first into all things plant-based nutrition, starting with their philosophy and slowly reading more and more on Plant-Based Nutrition.

The greatest lessons I learned from them were not so much that eating plant-based was the key to health, weight maintenance and yummy delicious food – but it was the lessons I learned about how nutrition information is so difficult to sift through today. People are confused, because there are so many businesses out there feeding us lies about what to eat, and what not to eat. When really, the only thing that makes sense is to eat PLANTS – the thing that mother nature gave us to begin with. I felt as if my life long struggle with food and weight was over – after losing nearly 40 pounds, and excelling in my sport more than I could possibly imagine.

After working with them, and taking tons of advice from Ray and his philosophy on exercise and nutrition – I began developing my own method for fueling. I experimented with fasted workouts vs fueled – increasing Vo2 max overtime with less weight on me + less fuel, and I felt like I had hit the jackpot. For the first time in my life – I was eating plants around the clock, and using real food for races. My performance just keeps getting better.

I decided that this was the career I wanted. I quit my finance job, and took a job at Tufts Human nutrition research on aging as a data analyst, where I currently spend my days sifting through clinical trials in nutrition – soaking up every bit of information I can get. I am also pursuing my M.S. in Nutrition Communications at Tufts Friedman school. Even in school – it is amazing what information is still so outdated and a major source of nutrition confusion.

I have lost friends, fellow athletes, and coaches to my philosophy about nutrition in athletics, but I have also gained so many new ones in my quest to take the idea that fuel in sport ≠ candy.

My story continues as I learn more and more about real food in athletics, and as I continue to grow my circle of athletes who buy into this method. All in all, real food triumphs all – and less really is more in today’s world.

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