I’m glad to be back in Crested Butte after a whirlwind weekend in Denver. It was a great weekend mostly because I got to hang out with my mom, sister and nephew. Not enough but I’ll take what I can get. Not enough sleep either. Plenty of wine though! Ouch.
Two nights of solid sleep and a lot less wine and I feel great. We’ll talk about sleep some other time. Or rather we will talk about how detrimental consistent lack of sleep is to your poor bodies. I say your, not our, because it is rare that I don’t get 8 hours of sleep. Sure, I have more flexibility than most. And sure, I have to go to bed at a laughingly early hour. But it is worth it to me to get the sleep I need.
This morning Puck and I had a run date with Frank and Alexis. Frank is Alexis’ dog. Puck loves Frank. Puck loves to chase Frank. Frank is a lot faster than Puck. So for two hours Puck was that hopeful slow kid giving it his all. I wish I could capture his expression; ever hopeful! Alexis and I have learned to guard our knees when we hear them coming because they don’t slow down for us silly humans.
Puck hasn’t moved much after that. Mission accomplished.
Let me state right up front that I am not a nutritionist and do not give nutritional advice. However, nutrition is something I have invested a lot of time in personally.
Nutrition takes a back burner to training in most athletes’ minds. It shouldn’t. It has a huge effect on your performance. And how you feel. And look. And age. I could go on.
Would you buy a Ferrari and put crappy gasoline in it? No? But you would train your heart out and then go put crappy food in your body? Heck, calling half of the stuff out there food is an insult to actual food.
Nutrition feels daunting in this age of so many options and I see athletes just give up. There is this belief that you have to be perfect: follow this diet or that diet; eat this perfect ratio; take this supplement; drink this drink. Whatever.
I don’t buy any of that. I do believe that if you have the money and motivation to work with a good sports nutritionist, it is a good investment. But if that’s not you, here are some very basic rules to live by:
EAT REAL FOOD. If it comes in a package, read the label. If any of the ingredients require a chemistry degree to understand: NOT REAL FOOD. Of course you can’t be perfect here, but you can be diligent.
SNEAK IN VEGGIES & FRUIT. Prioritize veggies. You can sneak them in pretty much everything. Think of a smoothie as a vehicle for greens. Sure, if you don’t have a Vitamix, you may end up with kale shards in your teeth. It’s a small price to pay. Check the mirror before smiling. Making muffins? Throw in some veggies or fruit. Eggs are a great way to scramble up a bunch of veggies. I could go on but I suspect you get the point. There is usually a way to add a vegetable or fruit.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF (GOOD) FATS. I think many of us are still scarred by the low fat craze of the 90s (was it the 90s? I lose track). I want you to scrub your brain of “fat is bad” and “eating fat will make you fat”. Choose only good fats and don’t be afraid to eat them. Fat is not the bad guy here.
BE VERY AFRAID OF SUGAR. You were looking for the bad guy? SUGAR. Do you know how much sugar you eat? You may not add sugar to anything. But sugar is in so many foods that you are probably eating more than you think. Think that blueberry yogurt is healthy? Check the sugar content. Ouch. I challenge you to figure out where your added sugar is coming from and cut out as much as you can. It will make a huge difference in your energy and your life.
THINK VARIETY. This is tough, I know: we like what we like. One of my tools for eating healthy is to cook vats of food and freeze it. I have found I can freeze pretty much anything. My egg muffins do get a little soggy on reheating; I can deal with that. But my point is that I do end up eating the same things for a week or more. So the next time I go on a cooking frenzy I try to mix it up.
You can take these simple steps on your own; commit to be diligent and aware of what you are putting in your body.
However if, after reading this, you are really motivated to try a reset and you feel like you want a guide or a structured program, I have two recommendations. Neither of which is giving me free stuff for plugging them here.
The 21-Day Sugar Detox