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Food As “Fuel”: Is This Part of The Problem?

30 Sep

tumblr_mniqdoAudd1rq6lflo1_500A couple of years ago when I first began blogging, I wrote a couple of articles on the topic of “normal” eating habits. Since the beginning of that series of posts, I’ve begun to think a lot about the “food as fuel” mentality that a lot of people tend to have, and how it can negatively affect their relationship with food.

There is no doubt that food can have a strong hold over us mentally. Especially for those of us who have been, or are currently battling with emotional eating. We all know that eating certain foods triggers that endorphin-like rush, and feelings of safety. This is why we call these foods, “comfort foods”.

This can create problems down the road if a line isn’t drawn. However, I see those who hold the strict “food as fuel” mentality to be the kind of people who are afraid to indulge in foods that are made solely for the purpose of making the taste buds dance.

I do say this out of experience, having been in that position before. It might be that they are prone to overindulging. Or it might be that they feel as though in order to be completely dedicated to their sport, activity, or goal, they must eat only for the purpose of keeping their body running at full capacity.

Now, there are a couple of points I can agree on. Food is not love. Food does not equate happiness. Food cannot mend our broken hearts, fix our problems, fight our battles, fill empty spaces in our lives, or provide a long-lasting calm to our troubled minds. Food is, simply, fuel.

But is there a time where we can take this mentality too far?

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I dunno, man. I find the process of cooking and eating extremely entertaining.

Food provides us with energy to perform daily tasks and activities. No matter which way you want to look at it, that’s what food is and always will be. But be wary as to what measure you implement that knowledge. I only stress this because people have completely damaged the way they view food. They cannot find the balance that comes from eating for health, enjoyment, and satisfaction, versus eating to “fuel the machine”. They believe that in order to be healthy, and in order to achieve their goals, and in order to prevent binging, they must completely eliminate the enjoyment that that comes from eating. They must eat only to stave off hunger, and to keep themselves alive. Likewise, the other party will eat beyond what their body needs or is comfortable with, and have an all-or-nothing disposition with food. Overindulgence is their downfall.

At the same time, treating food as nothing but fuel disconnects us from one of our most powerful, and enjoyable senses. Good taste is bliss. There is no denying that food which is flavorful has a huge impact on us mentally and emotionally. Food that tastes good makes us feel good. We feel most alive when we take full advantage of all our inborn senses.

So while treating food like it’s the love of your life is not the solution, neither is treating food like coals on a fire. I see too many people eating for the sake of staying alive rather than actually enjoying what they put into their bodies.

Flashback: My mom is a wonderful cook. She was always quite ritualistic about the way we ate our dinners, for as long as I can remember. We ate at 6:00pm every day, we all sat down at the same time, served ourselves, and talked about our day. She would remind me to eat slowly, put down my utensils between bites, and have a little of everything, focusing on vegetables. According to her, they would someday make me “big and strong” (joke’s on you, mom! It was donuts all along).

Now, I distinctly remember enjoying those times we had, and usually enjoying my meals, so long as the spinach was placed at the far end of the table. In those moments, I’m not even sure I was 100% positive what a carbohydrate was. I knew vegetables were good for me, but I also knew that mashed potatoes tasted so much better when they were drizzled with gravy. I couldn’t care less how many calories were in my pasta, so long as it tasted good.

Food-QuoteIt wasn’t until I grew older that the idea was put in my head that in order to excel with my health and fitness, I needed to stop eating things that made me happy, and instead eat blandly, cutting out entire food groups and macronutrients. I didn’t know how to find a balance. And unfortunately, many still don’t.

We need to get back to our roots. We were born with intuition. Gluttony is learned, not inborn.

I think most of the problems start when you take extremes, and forget to think of food as a separate activity from the rest of your daily tasks. We eat while we cook, read, watch TV, talk, walk around the house, etc. Or we eat too fast, gulping everything down at warp speed so as not to taste it’s bland flavor and texture.

Food becomes “fuel”, or an add-on to whatever other activity we are currently participating in.

What we have long failed to realize is, eating should be its own separate activity. A lot of people like to combine eating with other things, and sort of condense it into one thing. This might seem more convenient for those with extremely busy schedules, but that takes most if not all the enjoyment out of eating in the first place. So even if you have taken the time to prepare yourself something that tastes great, it can’t be fully enjoyed when it’s inhaled.

As much as possible, I encourage you to put time aside for your meals rather than try to multitask. This becomes especially important when you have developed poor eating habits and a negative relationship with food. A positive bond is formed through appreciation and patience.

Just like a positive body image can only be formed through self-love and taking time for yourself, a positive relationship with food can only be formed through slowing down, enjoying yourself, and understanding your body’s needs.

If for whatever reason you feel you don’t have time to sit down for 20 minutes to eat a meal, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

“Am I eating too often?”

“Am I working too much?”

“Am I stressed?”

“Am I lazy?”

Yes, it is possible to “eat too often” for your schedule. No one says you have to eat 15x per day. If it’s inconvenient to sit down for 20 minutes every time you have something to eat, it might be time to rearrange your schedule. I believe this is crucial, especially when it comes to regaining a more positive relationship with eating.

Remember what it feels like to trust your body. To not think of anything but the moment. To savor your food. Slow down, and really taste it. How many times have you made something, shoveled it in your mouth, and wondered, “Why the hell am I still hungry?”

Chances are, you need to take a deep breath and relax.

Just don't hold it too long.

Just don’t hold it too long.

Not sure how to go about reviving your meals? Here’s a few tips to help you get started:

  • Buy a cookbook. Or five.
  • Look online for a new recipe to make every day.
  • Learn how to incorporate spices into your foods.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Revise your schedule to make room for meal times.
  • Rotate your foods. Don’t eat the same thing every day.
  • Eat with someone else.
  • Set a timer (if you need to), to help teach you how to slow down.
  • Chew your goddamn food. Seriously.

Remember. You owe it to yourself to enjoy every day you have that is spent in good health. Don’t waste time worrying about things that, when it all comes down to it, are unimportant.

Like. You know. Obsessing over numbers and stuff. Don’t do that.

Eat healthily. Not too much. Mostly fresh stuff.

– C.M.

2013 CPF Nationals: Meet Write-Up (Plus Some Dietary Changes)

10 Jun
Two fiddy.

Two fiddy. Lookit dem hamstrings!

So, before I get into the other parts of this post, let me tell you a little bit about my meet this weekend.

It sucked.

Balls.

Srs.

I got my squat opener which was actually really easy (250) but bombed 275 twice. A weight that normally I would have been able to get.

I got my bench opener and second attempt (126) but bombed on 137.

My deadlift opener got misunderstood. Was supposed to open at 265 lbs. and instead accidentally pulled 285. Bombed 303 since it didn’t even move off the ground. Gave up my third attempt since I knew it wasn’t going anywhere.

Well, at least I hit depth, haha!!

Well, at least I hit depth, haha!!

So that means I totaled at 659…which is over 50 lbs. LESS than what I totaled in December.

Uh…brutal?!?!

But, as I’ve said before, no meet is really a “bad” meet so long as you learned something. To be honest, I really learned a LOT this time around through trial and error. These things namely:

  1. The Cube Method, while an amazing program, might not have worked as well for me as I would have liked. I generally respond the best to frequent high intensity training (near 1RM’s), and having the ultra volume and lower percentages kind of threw me off a little. (I will be writing a full review of The Cube later this week)
  2. Nutrition is king. As is hydration.
  3. I need to sleep more.
  4. I need to stretch a little less.
  5. I need to think LESS when I lift.
  6. I need to not try and change things close to a meet because it throws me off big time.

The main things I want to touch on are: changing things up, nutrition, and thinking less.

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CHANGE:

I had the brilliant (or not so brilliant) idea of squatting differently at the meet than I have been at the gym all these months. I brought my stance out and took the bar a bit lower on my delts. Needless to say, this was a stupid idea.

NEVER change things up so close to a meet! I tell people this ALL the time but sometimes fail to follow my own advice. Stick with whatever you have been doing. The off-season is the time to make changes…not the platform.

THINKING LESS

I have a hard time shutting off my brain sometimes. It tends to just keep buzzing, and I focus too much on technicalities and stressing over lifts instead of just doing them the way I know how to.  Funny that I still have problems with this, but I guess it takes awhile to get over.

I find that I just end up gassing myself out from over-thinking, and by the time I’m lifting I’m thinking “Oh god, oh god, oh god…oh fuck..”

So uh…time to re-learn how to get into my zone. This is something I really need to work on this off-season.

Think. Think. Think. I am not Pooh Bear.

Think. Think. Think. I am not Pooh Bear.

NUTRITION

This is going to be a bit weird. And long.

I know that I started this blog as a vegan. And many of you know that I have been vegan since around the beginning of the year, so almost a solid 6 months.

Initially, I felt fantastic. But I have slowly but surely started to notice some issues arising. A few of them are:

  1. Drops in energy
  2. Poor digestion
  3. Drops in strength (illustrated at this meet)
  4. Drops in appetite
  5. Mood swings
  6. Foot tendonitis (what the actual fuck?)
  7. Reappearing elbow tendonitis, and knee pain

Now, before the vegan police start attacking me for thinking these things were caused from my switch to veganism, I encourage you to hear me out.

I am a strength athlete. To me, lifting is one of the most important things in my life. It is my passion, my hobby, and my sport. Given that, I need to make sure I am doing what is absolutely best for my health and performance.

Of course, I was a vegan for ethical reasons. So I obviously want to do my best to cause the least amount of harm I can, while still keeping an eye on my health and strength.

My energy was great the first few months. But It started to plummet about two months ago. I have a very bad appetite as is, but I find myself never wanting to eat at all as a vegan. Not to mention, the amount of food I have to eat in a day to reach my protein goals is atrociously high for me, given that I get extremely full off of a bowl of rice and beans. Buying vegan protein powder was also expensive as hell since I went through a tub in under 2 weeks.

My mood swings have been nuts. My hair is more dry, my nails are brittle, I have tendonitis in places I’ve never had before, and my joints feel worse and stiffer than they ever have. I attribute this to me possibly not being able to properly absorb the omega 3’s I was getting from flax oil.

I mean, when I used to consume fish oil, my joint issues disappeared almost completely. My body responded much better to it.

Not to mention – my digestion is TERRIBLE. After the first two months of being vegan, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t gassy/bloated/stomach-pained.

(Maybe TMI?)

And most importantly – my drop in strength at this meet was quite a big indicator to me that perhaps I needed a change.

…which is why I have made the decision to start re-introducing fish and eggs into my diet again.

Eep!

The eggs I used to get in the past were from a friend. Her parents own a farm and all the animals are extremely well-cared-for. I have absolutely no desire to consume dairy, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or any other kind of mammal/bird. So long as my eggs are well-sourced from happy chickens, I am rather sure they won’t be missing them too much.

Call me a speciesist if you will. I try not to be. I honestly do try my very best to do what I can to cause the least amount of harm. I love animals. But I only have one life, and one opportunity to achieve my dreams. And if that means that I have to sacrifice some integrity for some extra protein, then so be it.

It wasn’t easy to make the decision, but again, my health comes first and foremost.

I can’t express enough thanks to those who have been by my side through my transition from omnivore to vegan, and then again to omnivore. I know that they are true friends since they have supported me no matter which path I decide to take.

Thank you for your support, beautiful. Bestest friend. <3

Thank you for coming out to see me, hunny bunny! ❤

To me, what’s important is that I am doing my best to still limit the amount of damage I am doing on the animals and the environment, and that I still accept and support 150% those who still follow a strict vegan diet. I salute them, actually. They have found ways to make it work in ways that I could not.

I also understand that this is a travesty to some people, and for that I apologize. In some ways I feel like I am a failure, but in other ways I feel like I am a winner for choosing what is best for my body and performance as an athlete.

I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person. But it’s just the way it has to be.

Please, if you have something negative to say, keep it to yourself. I don’t actually give a shit. 

All in all, this was a very positive learning experience, and a great experiment. Thank you everyone, once again, for your endless support! This off-season I am going to be working with a good friend and guru of mine, Alyssa Smith (ya know, the beast that squatted 425!). She’s gonna help me get strong again. 😉

And for your daily dose of cuteness: My favouritest kid in the whole world (5 years old; left) deadlifting 5 lbs. OVER her bodyweight for the first time!

Mommy teaching.

Mommy teaching.

Way to go, Samara!!

Way to go, Samara!!

Her and her new friend decided to team up.

Her and her new friend decided to team up.

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Too flippin cute.

Derp.

Yumminess: Coconut Banana Bread

1 May

hnnnnggghhh

hnnnnggghhh

Dense. Moist. Coconut-y. Vegan.

Sign me up!

I know people sometimes get put off when you mention a baking recipe that contains no eggs or butter. But even if you are not vegan… this recipe truly does not disappoint. Seeing as before making my switch to veganism I was quite well-versed in many different types of baked goods that contained eggs and dairy, I am being completely unbiased when I tell you it is worth your attention.

Fuck it. It’s just good. So how about you just make it and eat it. Okay?

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice OR cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup shortening (can use margarine as well)
  •  cup of brown sugar
  • 3 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I used vanilla almond milk; coconut milk works well too)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded coconut
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Mix together the almond milk and vinegar in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Preaheat the oven at 350 degrees. Lightly grease a non-stick loaf/cake 9″x12″pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine together the flour, baking soda, salt and spice.
  4. In another bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the banana, vanilla, and milk/vinegar mixture.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Fold in the coconut and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for about 35-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. (Large range because it REALLY depends on your oven!!)
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. Then transfer the bread from the pan to a cooling rack and let it cool completely before slicing. (NOTE: this bread is the fucking best if it is left to sit overnight.)
  8. Eat entire loaf of banana bread in one sitting, and then repeat steps 1-7.

 

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Do I Even Lift?

17 Apr

Hey.

(For some reason wordpress isn’t allowing me to add pictures/vids today? Sad panda.)

So I’ve been away from the blog for a few days, namely due to fuckery going on with work and such. I’ve just been preoccupied. Training has still commenced though.

I’ve been eating like mad the last few days to make sure I am nice and fueled up to max squats tomorrow. The idea is scary and exciting at the same time, since I will be on my own, and I am used to maxing with a team or at least another person. But I’m confident it’ll go well.

In other training news, I’ve decided to put my interest and curiosity for yoga to the test. As of today, I am committing myself to daily practice so that I can get my moves down.

No, I can’t do crazy shit yet. But I would like to.

The challenge here is making sure that it doesn’t interfere with my powerlifting. But having spoken with some strong ladies (Jen Comas Keck, Marisa Inda, etc.), it seems that as long as I am not on the extreme side of the yoga spectrum, I shouldn’t be having a problem.

The main concern I have, and it seems to be fairly relevant from what I’ve seen/read, is that my lower body muscle (and fat too, who am I kidding!) is likely to interfere a little since it’s rather unbalanced. It is definitely harder for a chick with muscular legs to do Ashtanga than it is for a 100 lb. dainty girl. But either way, the call for more upper body strength has been made, and I am definitely up to the challenge.

My goal: to be able to do a scorpion pose by the end of the year. Which means, I first have to learn how to do a handstand. Fuck.

And, get over the fear of landing on my head and becoming paralyzed. But I’ll try to stay positive.

Unrelated diet blurb:

As a vegan powerlifter, I have gotten, and am bound to get questions about my protein intake and whether or not I think it affects my strength training. That’s when I have to say that protein is of little concern to me as of late. Eating less of it has not negatively impacted my training. What DOES negatively impact my training is:

  • poor sleep habits
  • not eating enough
  • poor warm-ups
  • stress
  • anxiety

So what does a daily diet in the life of a vegan powerlifter look like?

Well. I eat a lot of salad (come at me, junk food fanatics). But I also eat a lot of starch and fruit. For example, these were my meals today (amounts are only estimates, as I do not weigh or measure):

  1. 80-100g of raw oats with 2.5 tbsp. of peanut butter, 1.5 cups of almond milk, 1 whole banana, cinnamon, and a mix of brown sugar/splenda
  2. 1 can of chickpeas (the 800ml one; maybe 2.5 cups?) mixed with kale, 1 tbsp. EVOO, lemon, and romaine lettuce
  3. 4 oranges, protein shake (Vega Sport)

And I guess I have another 1-2 meals left to consume. Later I will probably have another shake, lots of veggies, and maybe some rice/lentils. This is on a day off, so you would subtract whatever I’d normally have as a post-training meal as well.

I will say it again, since some people just don’t get it. I don’t know how many calories I eat. I’m guessing anywhere from 2000-2500 on a given day. I don’t track, I just listen to my body. I usually have the bulk of my starchy carbs in the morning/early afternoon, and try to stick to beans/legumes/veggies for the rest of the day, only because this is the way I found my weight stays most consistent in the mornings (and I only track this because I have a competition coming up soon)

I drink typically two protein shakes a day, and this is by far the priciest thing on my menu. But, I’d say it’s needed especially with the heavy training that I do.

In addition to all my food I also take vitamin B and vitamin D daily. I take an iron tab maybe once or twice a week ONLY IF for whatever reason I am not eating a lot of dark leafy vegetables. I’m out of flax oil but that will also be added in once I can get some more.

THIS WEEK’S PR:

250 lb. SPEED deadlifts, 6×2. I am really excited about my deadlift progress on The Cube Method. Can’t wait to max next week!!

Cookies and Mobility Drills

26 Mar

Hey everyone!

So I missed a couple of days of updates just due to work and life. On my last lower body training session I had a bit of a mishap with a Bulgarian split squat and pulled my glute slightly. Felt pretty fucking awful the first day, but is pretty much 100% now due to my handy foam roller and lots of stretching!

Speaking of stretching, I put together another lower body mobility drill video. And as weird as this shit looks, it’s pretty effective. This is just an example of the exercises I will do before a lower body training session. Shoulder dislocations, fire hydrants, and hip swings are also incorporated but aren’t featured in this video.

 

 

My dog likes to observe me when I am stretching/exercising at home. She thinks I’m crazy.

 

I’ve also been doing a lot of baking this weekend. Probably one of my favorite things to do to unwind. Brownies tonight turned out to be an epic failure due to me not realizing what size pan I had put them in, but the cookies I baked on Saturday turned out marvelous. I may or may not have eaten 75% of the cookies myself.

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Yes vegan. Yes chocolatey. Yes fudgey. Yes delicious. Especially right out of the oven – oh baby!!

 

RECIPE:

You could also add walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut, or whatever else you like.

  • 1 cup of butter-flavored shortening
  • 1 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. of ground flax
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

    DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease baking sheets (or use non-stick sheets).
  2. Mix the ground flax with the water and set aside for 5 minutes to expand.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flax mixture.
  4. Combine the cocoa, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Gradually stir this into the wet mixture.
  5. Finally, fold in whatever you want, or leave as is.
  6. Roll and drop onto cookie sheets.

NOTE:

Bake for 8 minutes ONLY. They will appear uncooked at the center, but the set well when they are completely cooled.

Allow to rest on cookie sheets for 4-5 minutes before removing and transferring to wire rack to cool completely.