Back in April, during my last build for Gulf Coast, I biked down to New Smyrna Beach with my coach, Pam, to meet my tri-bestie, Megan, for an ocean swim. While we were waiting for Megan to arrive, I was talking to Pam about some dietary issues that I (and mostly Deb) were having – indigestion, bloating, gaining belly fat even though I was working out like a machine, etc. I recall feeling so incredibly frustrated. I never entered the world of triathlon as a means to lose weight, but I kinda thought that once I started training for longer distances that it might happen.
In MY world I felt like our diet was pretty clean – we ate lots of fruits and veggies and lean meats and such; we did not eat gluten or dairy much at all; we out out very rarely – usually only when we traveled for business; and I cooked 90% of our meals from scratch. So, I was confused. I felt like we were doing everything right, and yet our results did not bear that fact out.
Pam asked me if I would watch a video – and do so with an open mind. Hey, being open-minded is my JOB, right? She met me the next day at the pool and handed me the video. It was Forks Over Knives. Pam said the video advocated adopting a whole foods, plant-based nutritional strategy and gave tons of evidence supporting the merits of such a strategy.
Hmmmm…. “whole foods, plant based…” What did THAT mean?
What it meant was:
- No meat
- No chicken
- No fish
- No seafood
- No dairy
- No eggs
- No cheese
- No processed foods
- And little to no oil
- If it had a mother or a face or came from something with a mother or a face we were to steer clear.
I took a deep breath… I WAS open to the idea of TRYING it, but DEB!!!! What the heck was I supposed to say to Deb? There was NO WAY she was gonna go for this (or so I thought)… And I am an athlete – an endurance TRIATHLETE (at least in my own mind) – where was I going to get the PROTEIN I needed to fuel my muscles for training? This seemed doomed to failure.
But, I promised Pam I would watch the video and we’d go from there.
I got home with my video in hand and I took another deep breath. You see, no so long before this, Deb had “scolded” me for jumping on diet bandwagons – trying new things in search of some “magic bullet” that would pare the fat from my thighs and elevate my swim-bike-run performance, so you can only imagine her reaction when I proposed that we consider “going vegan.” Soooo many stereotypes…
However, to her credit, she was just as frustrated as I was, so she agreed to watch the video.
And the more we watched, the more intrigued we became. When it was over, we talked about the parts of the video that resonated with us. For me, it was watching the professional and age group iron-distance triathletes and the elite MMA fighter who powered their training and races on a vegan diet. For Deb, it was the studies (not just on lab rats, but also on large populations of rural Chinese) that showed you could actually turn cancer on and off by adjusting the amount of casein in their diet, as well as the testimonials from people who were so riddled with heart disease and cancer that they were told by their physicians to go home and wait to die… LITERALLY!
We agreed to adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet for 90 days and see what happened.
So, I slowly transitioned up until Gulf Coast and then on May 10th – the day after Gulf Coast, we started our vegan experiment.
Our 90 days were up on August 10th, but we won’t go back to the way we were eating before and here’s why:
- Deb immediately started dropping weight. She wasn’t working out any harder or differently than she had been before, but it was like someone stuck her with a pin and she deflated. Within the first month, clothes that had been tight were in need of tailoring because they were so loose.
- I’ve dropped 10 pounds – of fat!
- When I started my training cycle for B2B in early June, I found that I had more stamina and I recovered more quickly than before. In fact, leading up to GCT, I hurt so bad – all the time! My chronic backache was gone, my shoulders didn’t hurt anymore, my legs and feet didn’t ache after a long run. Back to back hard workouts were no longer an issue.
- Deb and I both were sleeping better than we had in YEARS!
- I am a 50 year old woman – there are hormonal processes going on in my body. For the 6 months prior to changing our diet I was experiencing between 6-12 “hot flashes” per day – talk about MISERABLE!! I literally felt like I was going to spontaneously combust! Within 2 weeks of changing my diet, the hot flashes all but vanished! I have maybe one per week now – and that’s cool – I can totally deal with that!
- We really like the food! I was cautious at first, but there is such a wonderful myriad of vegetables, fruits, and grains that I had never tried before. The investment in cooking time is bit more than it was before, but now I just get up early on Sunday morning and prep the meals for the week and it works great.
- People think that eating this way is expensive – and there were a few items that I had to purchase to develop a whole foods pantry that WERE a little pricey, but now that it’s done, our food bill is substantially lower than it was before.
- Deb and I both feel FANTASTIC!!! We feel strong and healthy and vital!
- Deb just had her annual blood work done and her stats are even better than they were last year (and they were like a 20 year old last year).
- Josh enjoys eating this way too and it makes us feel like we are doing the best for him as well.
So, I guess I can officially come out of the closet and say “I’m a VEGAN.” Color me shocked! Those are 3 words that I never, EVER thought I would say! This is not some deeply held, moral, or ethical conviction I’ve come to. I certainly don’t intend to stop wearing leather or anything. But I’m loving the veggies!!
If you’re curious, I can’t recommend Forks Over Knives (the DVD and the book) more highly (the movie is also on Netflix)! What have you got to lose?