Thursday, March 13, 2008

5 tips for optimal athlete diet

Every day is a work in progress. That's good because if I mess up one day I can try again the next. There are a lot of days. Right now I am trying to optimize my diet for training. My diet is already very healthy but I need to make a few tweaks. The most important thing is that I need to make sure I get 30% of my calories from protein.

My biggest challenges in having an optimal diet as I see it are: 1) getting the right caloric ratio while being a vegetarian other than eating fish (sorry little salmon swimming in the sea!) 2) not overeating when I am stressed out or bored. Things working in my favor are: 1) my body has a keen sense of telling me when it needs food 2) I already have gotten out of the habit of eating large meals 3) I love fruits and vegetables 4) I know my workouts suffer when I eat junk.

I am a fan of Gordon Byrn, triathlete and coach, and consulted his website to see if I could get any advice on this stuff. I found a good article where he broke down optimal eating into five "simple" tips. They sound simple at least.

1) Eat real food only.
In other words, if it does not occur in nature, don't eat it. Sounds good. I usually only buy real foods, but do veggie burgers occur in nature? I'd like to think that they would be considered "lightly processed" and thereby acceptable.

2) No refined sugar after 2pm.
Interesting. Challenging but managable. I'll just have to eat all the late night chocolate bars for lunch instead :) jk.

3) No bread, cereal, or pasta.
Whoa. We are bringing out the big guns now. These foods bring me happiness. If I give them up, what will I look forward to in life? It will have to be a gradual cut back with some cheating allowed every once in a while.

4) Only use sports nutrition products for workouts over 2 hours. For shorter workouts, use water and bananas.
I can handle that. I get sick of that stuff when I eat it too much anyway. Gels, bars, and powdered drinks definitely do not occur in nature. Bananas are cheaper too.

5) Eat lean protein at every meal.
That's a good strategy. It just requires some planning to make sure I have the right foods on hand.

What now? I am going to work on these one at a time. It is never a good idea to introduce too many new things at once. #1 is done. #2 and #4 won't be too hard. #3 and #5 will be the hardest. I am going to focus this week on #5 and see how I do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

appreciating the basics

I have been struggling to find a sense of peace in myself lately. I blame myself and then don't know what to do to make things better. I know what is wrong but it seems overwhelming and scary to make some necessary changes. I have been living a dream life with the flexibility that a lot of people wish for. I can be anywhere with my job, I can work the hours that I want, it pays me a comfortable salary, and I have the freedom to play in the middle of the day on weekdays doing whatever I want. What is the downside to this? Sometimes there is so much freedom that I feel like I am flailing all over the place and am not grounded in anything or even in myself.

Now that I have a steady place of my own to live, I am beginning to feel much more calm. I have my own part of a nice house with my own bathroom, and I live with a cool roommate who I just met. I'm in a nice part of Austin that I like. I found this on Craigslist. I love Craiglist because I am discovering that it can be used to solve nearly any problem in life. I have been living out of my car and a backpack for a while so I can't believe how grateful I am to just be able to leave all my stuff in one place. And I am grateful to have lots of kitchen space to put my food, all my food and workout food.

Shelter, food, clothing... check. Now that those are in order in my life I can begin to get back to other things, like finding inner peace and getting out to see new things in Austin. I am feeling optimistic.

Happiness log for today: making all my speed intervals in my swim workout, biking hwy 360 on a perfect sunny day, fresh legs after a rest day, Kashi TLC Honey Almond Flax bars

Monday, March 10, 2008

start a happiness log

I was surfing the web and came across Oprah's interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. I enjoyed that book, especially since I am on my own trip of self-discovery like hers right now. Liz had a few great suggestions on how to come to balance within yourself without requiring any travel. My favorite was to keep a "Happiness Log" where everyday you write down one or a couple of things that made you happy that day. She said that you see that there are recurring themes in the list and then it becomes very clear what makes you happy. Then you go from there in bringing more of those things into your life.

For me today, two things stand out: the breathtaking views of Austin seen while heading north on 620 on my bike, and my breakfast - oatmeal with bananas.