The Daily Beet

21 Feb Guest Post: Eating Plant-Strong as a High School Athlete: by Michelle

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Confession: I’m not a natural athlete WHATSOEVER. I used to cringe at the word “exercise” up until a few years ago. I was one of those kids whose parents enrolled them in various sports, hoping that one would finally stick. My mom tried to get me to ice-skate when I was 4 or 5, but all I wanted to do is play with the “snow” I made with my ice-skates. A couple years later, my parents enrolled me in soccer. I always wanted to be goalie so I wouldn’t have to run around and could pick the flowers in the grass until the ball would come in my direction. Quit that when I was 10. Then I had a single-season run with basketball in the 1st grade, which was also a failure.

Things started to change in middle school when I began summer league swimming and decided to go out for track. I hated running, but discovered that I loved to throw discus and shot-put. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to break much of a sweat (or feel it in the case of swimming).

As I started to change my diet in 8th grade (2009-2010), I started to see minimal athletic improvements from going to a junk omnivore diet to a “healthy” omnivore diet, but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted to see. Fast forward to my sophomore year (2011-2012) when I became plant-strong at the beginning of track season (February). I began to notice a difference in my strength which I noticed in my throwing performance. Each week I would beat my PR and by the end of the season, I placed 6th overall in discus at the District meet.

In the summer, I swam my first summer season being plant-based. I continued to improve as a swimmer as well and decided to jump out of my comfort zone and go out for my high school swim team half-way through my high-school career. I started out the season swimming 10×100’s continuously on an average of 1:40 and by the end of the season (5 months later), I swam them on an average of 1:22 (an interval that currently has me under varsity consideration for next season). Additionally, I swam my PR in the 100yd breaststroke and placed 5th overall at JV districts.

So I bet you’re wondering what kind of “miracle” foods I ate to fuel myself, right? I must have been supplementing with all kinds of magical potions and protein powders… but I wasn’t. I ate real, simple plant-strong food. Whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, minimal nuts and seeds. Here’s a sample outline of what I ate during the season:

Breakfast: Rip’s (smaller) Big Bowl with walnuts, flaxseed, soymilk and 2-3 different kinds of fruit

Lunch: Jeff Novick Burgers on Ezekiel Bread (or served without bread with steak fries) with an apple and a sandwich bag filled with raw veggies (bell pepper, carrots, and celery)

Snack: A few Medjool dates or a banana

Dinner: My dinners varied on a week-to-week basis, but I tried to stick to the same “formula” every week; a serving or 2 of starch (1 medium or large potato or 1 cup of cooked whole grain), 1 cup beans or lentils, 2 cups of greens, and 1 cup of other veggies.

Evening Snack/Dessert: fresh or frozen fruit [sometimes with dairy-free extreme (88% cocoa content) dark chocolate]; Happy Herbivore Oatmeal Chews; plant-strong banana bread with nut butter

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Michelle M

Michelle is 17, and a junior in high school she has been plantstrong for 6 months. You can read about her plant-strong life over at: txvegteen.blogspot.com and @txvegteen on Twitter.

  • Laura
    Posted at 11:53h, 21 February

    Great story

  • David Stillson
    Posted at 12:02h, 21 February

    Good stuff!

  • Samantha
    Posted at 12:26h, 21 February

    This is fantastic. I am hoping that my children will catch the vision of being plant based soon. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Elaine Kean
    Posted at 13:47h, 21 February

    Michelle .. such an encouraging story of health ..keep it up!!

  • Jill C
    Posted at 13:55h, 21 February

    Great job Michelle! You are an inspiration to other young people, if you can do it, so can they!

  • Jeff Mmmmm
    Posted at 14:16h, 21 February

    Way to go!

  • Mary E.
    Posted at 14:19h, 21 February

    Awesome Michelle! My two daughters 26 and 27 are definitely coming into their own with plant based nutrition. The 26 year old suffered from a few ailments and cured them with plant based eating. They are both very conscious of what they are putting into their bodies. I’m so proud of all of you in this next generation that are taking control of your own nutrition and health. You are an inspiration!

  • 3eyedjohnny
    Posted at 14:25h, 21 February

    Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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