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