My Diet, Health, and Wellness Transformation
There was an article today on CyclingNews that made me recall just how far I’ve come in my eating habits. It was basically an overview of Matt Fitzgerald’s book Racing Weight. I read the book last year and it reinforced everything I knew was right, and most everything I was currently doing. But it wasn’t always like this for me.
Believe it or not, for as long as I can remember I was around 155 pounds. Sure, at 5’11″, 155 isn’t fat by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, most people would kill to be 155 pounds at nearly 6 feet tall. But for me and my body size, it was never a lean weight. I always had a little squish around the edges. This just seemed normal to me. What did I care? The squish didn’t prohibit me from pitching as well as I did, and it certainly didn’t stop me from shooting the lights out in basketball games. Without any adverse effects, I had no incentive to change my eating habits or my body.
As I went from living in a college dorm, to living with college friends in Fairfax, VA, my eating habits did not change one bit. I’d eat cereal morning, noon, and night and indulge in treats whenever I felt like it. For variety I would eat PB&J’s with different types of breads. No matter what I did or what I ate, I stayed basically the same weight. I was playing basketball regularly, running 5K’s, and playing soccer at this point. This is how normal people live. What I came to realize after leaving Virginia to come to Denver was that it was how non-Coloradans live.
Upon moving to Colorado and picking up cycling, my diet got a little better. I was living with a buddy I’ve known since I was like 10 years old and luckily for me, he was an outstanding cook. At this point I was still indulging in cereal, PB&J’s, and treats whenever I felt like it, but I was also getting some pretty decent home cooked meals. We’d have all sorts of meat and fish, and even some vegetables now and again. Denver was definitely a step up for my nutrition and health. It wasn’t until my finacee Brika moved in 2 years ago that I made a complete transformation.
Brika was fortunate enough to land a job at a doctors office where health, nutrition, and wellness are a lifestyle. The amount of knowledge she has accumulated since starting work there 2 years ago is astounding. I have been free-riding off her knowledge ever since. She not only learned the ins and outs of proper nutrition, but also how to cook really well. I have the luxury of eating whole, nutrient rich foods that are delicious each and everyday thanks to her. What sorts of food you ask? I’m talking about spinach, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, quinoa, chick peas, squash, millet, wraps, miso, smoothies, nuts, seeds, soups, and the list goes on and on. We eat more vegetables in a week that most people eat in a year. And man does it taste good. She’s brilliant because she’ll make these meals that have Indian, Thai, or Mediterranean influences. And she’s constantly expanding her menu with new foods and recipes. We don’t just sit around eating carrots all day. (although baby carrots are the shiznit!)
Because of the complete transformation in my diet, my weight has come down a lot. Like something near 20 pounds. I’m no longer squishy thanks to cycling and my diet. Now instead of being 155 lbs. no matter what, I tend to hang around the 135 to 140 pound range. Just the other day I weighed in at 136.8. It’s winter, I shouldn’t be that light now. I can’t say I’m surprised though. I’m still training a lot and eating super well. My goal was always to go into my first ever Tour of the Gila at 135. Umm, check.
I can’t stress the importance of expanding your diet to include a whole host of fresh fruits and vegetables that you may not know even exist. Don’t be boring and eat lettuce and tomatoes. Walk the aisles of your local natural grocer and witness the sheer amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that you might not be able to pronounce. Don’t overlook them! There is a ton of literature and cookbooks that divulge the secrets of preparing delicious meals with natural, whole foods, just ask Brika and she’ll point you in the right direction. It truly is a life-changing experience. But if you’re going to do just one thing, listen to Fitzgerald when he says,
If you only focus on one of the five steps to reaching your optimal weight, eating quality foods is the one. The right foods will have the highest nutrient value, but will often also have the lowest calorie density too.
Cut out the processed faux-food. Read labels. Eat small amounts of quality food throughout the day. Eat fresh green things. And most importantly: get off your ass. If you live in Colorado, you really have no excuse do you?