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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?

watch-a-movie-copy

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.

IMG_4430

Too flippin cute.

Derp.

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!!

Desensitization is Learned, Not Inborn

1 Apr

NEW_Summer_Catskill_P9025781Child&Pig

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarian.”

– Paul McCartney

I regularly get asked what it was that made me decide to go the vegan route. After all, being a raving lover and supporter of steak and bacon, how could I make the 180? It seems ironic.

I’m not even going to talk about all the numerous health benefits I believe a vegan diet has. Getting right to it, it was for the ethical side of things.

I ultimately believe that having the idea that we are superior and more worthy of life than another being or race is the cause of all that is wrong in this world. It is when people begin to feel this fictitious superiority that we get things like racism and sexism.

And now, we have speciesism.

Animals are huge to me. And I believe everyone deserves a chance and a right to live. I believe that reproducing animals for the purpose of killing and exploiting is wrong, and not only is it destroying the health of many people, it is destroying whatever is left of compassion and empathy in human beings.

It comes to a point where you have to ask yourself: “At what age did I lose my compassion?”

enfant_avec_mouton

To be quite honest, it seems strange to me when people can see and hear of atrocities going on not only in farming, but zoos, aquariums, “hunting for sport” circuses, fur trade, etc. and turn a complete blind eye to it, or are completely unaffected by the knowledge of it. Since when has killing and hurting innocent beings simply for the sake of taste, “sport”, or viewing pleasure ever been okay?

When I was a kid, I used to go fishing with my dad and brothers when we went camping. One day I caught a couple of small fish (perch, I believe), and was so proud of myself. I put them in a bucket full of water and left them to play. When I sat down to dinner that night, I saw two things: an empty bucket, and a plate of fish.

Putting two and two together, I cried. A lot. I thought I was going to keep them as pets.

I still get made fun of for it to this day by my siblings.

But I didn’t eat fish for quite some time after that. And when I was a kid, steak wasn’t a cow. It was steak. If I would have put two and two together, I would have stopped eating cows too.

Somewhere along the line, although I eventually realized where all my food was coming from, I had been somewhat brainwashed. And of course, this was due to culture and upbringing, but there was a disconnect. If I saw a cow or pig in front of me, I would pet it, feed it, think it was cute, etc. But if it was on my plate, the fact that it was an animal didn’t even cross my mind. I just ate it.

The disconnect was so strong that even though I knew what animal was on my plate, it just didn’t sink it. Not until I really did more research, and realized what went on behind the smiling cow on the front of the milk carton.

Drink your milk, kids! (not)

Drink your milk, kids! (not)

That’s when I decided to make the switch.

(Can you imagine – some people actually are surprised by the fact that cows don’t just constantly produce milk? It’s amazing how dumbed-down society has become due to constant pressure from the dairy industry. We are lead to believe that cows just need to be milked constantly, and if we don’t milk them they will die from the swelling in their udders. What a load of bullshit.)

The funny thing is, while people are so convinced that eating meat is normal for humans, we pick and choose what is okay and what is not okay to eat. What other omnivore/carnivore in nature does that?

It’s funny how animal abuse is justified if it is done on a mass profitable level, but when it is done as a single act against one innocent being, it is an atrocity.

If you saw somebody on the street, dragging a poor and sick animal by a rope around the neck, and beating it every time it fell to the ground from exhaustion, what would you do? Most would say something, or call someone for help. Some would jump in, and some would watch idly. But I guarantee nobody is thinking, “Wow, I bet that will taste good when it’s dead.” Most of you are thinking, hey – that’s really fucked up.

So ask yourself: what is the difference?

Why is eating a dog not okay, but eating a cow is fine?

Why does raw flesh gross us out?

Why does the thought of eating a dead animal – flesh, skin, eyes, ears, brain, feet, tail, and fur – disgust us?

Why do we have to cook our meat to digest it?

Why are we friends with our victims before we eat them?

Why do we become repulsed when we hear about cruelty and the treatment of farm animals, but still continue to eat them?Why does the thought of killing an innocent being make you uncomfortable, but eating one doesn’t?

 

Just some things you have to think about.

“So why not just buy meat/dairy from humane farms?”

There is no such thing as a “humane” farm. There is no way to humanely kill something. What does that even mean? That you cuddled it and read it bedtime stories before slitting its throat? That you allowed it to live 3 years of it’s life (instead of it’s capable 15-20) instead of just 2?

Really. Come on now.

There is simply no humane way to kill somebody, just like there is no way to humanely rape somebody. So don’t kid yourself. Are the animals steroid/antibiotic-free? Perhaps. Are they somewhat healthier? Maybe. But it doesn’t make it any more humane.

A humane farm is a sanctuary farm. Where the animals are able to live their full lives, give birth to and raise their young, roam free, and live happily.

THAT is a humane farm, and the only kind of farm I would support.

That's better. :)

That’s better. 🙂

So far, my switch has been nothing but positive. My training has been going well, my energy is stable and high, and I feel an overwhelming amount of peace with myself and others.

Oh, and the physique hasn’t suffered anything negative either. I was “warned” about losing muscle and strength, but that certainly hasn’t been the case. If anything, I look better lately. So Suck it, non-believers! 😉

528424_510172759018740_10915220_n

 

(A quick note: I do not force my beliefs upon people. I simply answer questions when asked, but it doesn’t mean I have to be completely silent with my thoughts either. If you are offended by the fact that I post vegan recipes, Facebook updates, or things regarding exposure of animal cruelty, then feel free to just stop following me.

People do not stop posting pictures of meat everywhere. People still make fun of vegans and vegetarians to no end. My fiance still eats meat. I do not self-righteously judge – I simply ignore what I do not care for, and try to help when and where I can.

But just so you know, the whole “needs more bacon” or “oh so cute, I want to cook it” jokes were not funny the first time, and they aren’t funny when they are repeated. So shut the fuck up.)

 

I will leave you all with this final, very wonderful quote:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.

We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.

In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.

They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth”.

– Henry Beston

———

Hope that clears up the “why”!

Eat well, train hard.