Having less can feel like more
One of the happiest times in my life was when I had the absolute least amount of stuff. When I went backpacking through Europe, all I took with me was what I could fit inside a 40 liter carry-on backpack. On top of that, about halfway through my trip, a bunch of my stuff was stolen and that same 40L even had extra space in it. This idea of having only what I actually needed or added value to my life was one of the most profound experiences of my trip and of my life.
It's really weird when you're getting ready to leave for a trip like that, especially if you've never done it before. I have a room, closet, and garage full of stuff, so what do I take with me? In an instant, you realize how much shit you have that you absolutely do not need.
When you do finally leave, you immediately start to meet a ton of likeminded people out traveling that are the happiest people you have ever seen. They are happy with so much less than we are expected to have here in the U.S. Growing up American, I always felt like we truly were number 1 and that we have everything figured out much more than the rest of the world, but I can tell you that although we do some things very well, that just simply isn't true. One of the biggest things I noticed during my travels was just how much happier other people are than us. We tend to value work, money, and things, whereas most of what I saw in some of my favorite places like Spain, was that these people valued lifestyle, relationships, and happiness before all of that other stuff.
Since I have come back from my trip I've been slowly selling all of this "shit" that I used to think I needed. The thing about doing this is 99% of the time, you don't ever even think about that stuff again. I was reluctant about selling my TV in my room because I thought, like most people, that I need to have a TV in my room. Well, finally I just did it and I literally forgot that I used to have a TV in my room. It added no value to my life.
The problem with buying so much stuff...
In a movie full of amazingness, this quote is one of my favorites from Fight Club. This didn't really mean anything to me when I first saw this at a younger age, but now I completely see what it meant. We as a society buy so many things on credit, loans, or just owe money in some way to have something. But as soon as you buy that new car and have a car payment to make every month, that car owns you. That payment makes you get up in the morning to go to work, at some job you probably hate, because if you don't then you can't make your payment anymore. When we buy a car, house, and have credit card debt we are now completely controlled by these things and they make us work for them. When we make big purchases we tend to always figure out what our budget is, a lot of the time with money we don't actually have, and then say, "how much can this get me?" How much house can I get for my 500k budget. Why not just figure out what you actually need, and stay out of debt or save the rest of the money to do awesome stuff with your life?
If you can stay out of debt, then you are completely free to do whatever you want. For this reason, I decided to stay at home and work my ass off through school to pay for it as I went rather than taking out student loans. Now all of the money I earn is mine and I can do whatever I want with it rather than pay interest on a loan. I think one of the best ways to live a happy life is to do whatever it takes to stay out of debt. To describe what I'm saying in one of my favorite quotes...
"We buy shit we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like."
I don't mean to sound preachy in this post, I just want to share my experiences and what I've learned as it has changed the way I think and made me so much happier. Also, minimalism can mean different things to different people. Being a minimalist doesn't mean you have to live like the Alaskan Bush people or whatever new weird show is on the 'History Channel.' You don't have to give up things you want in your life, you just need to examine why you want the things you do and whether or not you actually need them.
At first, I felt like it was hypocritical to consider myself a minimalist triathlete. How can I call myself a minimalist in one of the most gear intensive sports in the world? Because I love triathlon and it makes me happy! Adopting any form of minimalist lifestyle shouldn't feel like giving anything up, it should feel like you're becoming more free. I own three bikes. That doesn't sound minimalist at all, but I love my bikes, they add value to my life, and I ride the shit out of them. I've personally still got a long way to go but just going through the process of getting rid of all the extra stuff I don't need in my life has been awesome. If I could define minimalism in my own words as an instruction on how to do it, it would be:
Before you purchase something, ask yourself if it will add value to your life and make you happier.
Sounds pretty simple, huh? Well it is!
It hasn't only made me feel so much more free, but it literally changed my future and what I've decided to do with my life. My whole life I always wanted to be rich without ever really knowing what that meant. Mostly, I just knew I wanted to be able to do the things I wanted and I knew I would need money to do them. It turns out the things I want, like travel, really don't cost that much and are easily attainable if you're smart with your money.
Rather than spending your money on your next thing. Spend it on your next experience! Things bring a temporary rush but experiences change you. Ever since I started saving to backpack Europe I became kind of obsessive about this. Now, whenever I buy something, I think about how that money could be used for an experience. A $50 thing that I don't really need like more clothes could be days in Southeast Asia with hostel, food, and everything. This way of thinking let me save up while in school bit by bit to spend 3 months in Europe and that was the best experience of my life.
I'm not one of those people who thinks that "money doesn't buy happiness." Uhh, it definitely does in this weird society we've set up, but only to a certain extent! I'll say that again... money does buy happiness, to a point, and then it doesn't. Will having enough money to eat and take care of your necessities make you happy? Yes, of course. I remember in one of my college classes we looked at a study that addressed this particular issue. It showed that more income drastically increased happiness in people up to about 70k per year and then it completely leveled off. This obviously varies depending on where you live and I think you can be just as happy on a lot less than that but the fact is that once people weren't struggling to make it, more money didn't equal more happiness. Buying a second car will give you a little rush, and then in a few months you won't even care anymore and you'll be looking at the next purchase to make you happy. There is always some imaginary just out of reach goal where if I could just make this much... or I could just buy this... or just get this promotion... then I'll be happy. If this has ever been you, or even it it hasn't but you want to know how to be completely happy in the present moment, I strongly urge you to read this book...
One of the biggest things I've noticed when thinking about and adopting a minimalist lifestyle is the absolutely insane amount of clothes we all have. Take a lesson from Obama and feel how good it is to limit your wardrobe. Obama would either go blue or grey suit everyday to limit his decisions in the day and resist decision fatigue, which is an actual thing. When you get rid of all your clothes and just buy good quality items that you actually do need, you rid yourself of always having to make a decision about what to wear and then you can invest money in good quality items that look and feel great. Not to mention, it is so much better for the environment! The mass amount of cheap quality clothes we have is hugely detrimental to the planet in consuming so much energy and generating a ton of waste.
Why are we so miserable?
In the entirety of human history we are living in the best possible time. It's really crazy when you think about it. Even just a couple generations ago, to my grandparents time, they couldn't do near the stuff I can do now. I have a super advanced computer in my pocket that lets me talk to anyone in the world instantly. I can travel the world, book everything I need on the go, and manage everything as well as keep in touch with people I meet all in that same tiny pocket computer. Not to mention just having the ability to fly anywhere in the world is still super new. On top of this, all of our basic needs are pretty much met here in the West, so how could we possibly be miserable? Depression rates are sky rocketing and more and more people are feeling unsatisfied with life, always looking into the future and never appreciating the present.
I think a lot of this is the advertising that is constantly shoved in our face along with the American dream lifestyle that you never have enough and you always need more. As soon as you start to become aware of this constant barrage of advertising and people telling you your life isn't good enough, you realize just how rampant it is. That realization also gives you the power to just let all that shit go and not give it any more of your attention.
You don't need to go throw all of your stuff away
You don't have to get rid of everything you have in order to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, although getting rid of all of the crap that accumulates in our lives feels pretty damn good. Just stop buying crap. You'll soon realize you're saving a lot more money, and you can take that and live life the way it was meant to, by doing stuff that excites you! One day you will die, and when that time comes, I don't think you're going to care at all about how much money you have or all of the things you own. I'd be a lot more pumped on everything I experienced and the impact I was able to make on the world.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think about adopting a more minimalist lifestyle.
In the world of sport there are a lot of excuses
Sometimes they are legit, most of the time not so much. Of the not so much, there is one that really annoys me and that is when people complain about not having enough time. We are the sum of our choices and if you don't have enough time to do something, then that is the result of the choices you have made.
I find people confuse being busy and being productive to be synonymous. If you're busier than someone else you must be accomplishing more, right? Not always. In my experience, it is always the people who always complain about being so busy that are the least productive.
Are you familiar with Parkinson's Law? It states that...
"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
What does this mean? It means if we have a project or assignment that needs to be done at the end of the week, we will by nature, use that whole week to worry/work/stress about that project. If we set the deadline for that project to be 6 hours from now instead, then we would get it done in 6 hours and most likely have close to the same result if not the same result (80/20 rule). This happened to me all the time in school. If I knew all term that I had a paper to work on then I was always stressed about it but if I was assigned that same paper with a weekend to do it I would bust it out and still have the same quality paper.
In the words of Michael Scott from The Office:
Jim Halpert. Pros: Smart, cool, good-looking. Remind you of anybody you know? Cons: Not a hard worker. I can spend all day on a project, and he will finish the same project in half an hour. So that should tell you something.
That quote has stuck with me since my first go through of The Office. Yes, I've watched all 8 seasons more than once. It's so accurate into what we think as a society. All of our school, education, and a lot of jobs are focused on being busy rather than productive. It seems it's more respected to get a "real job" after college and put in 40-80hrs a week of monotonous tasks rather than doing what you want to do. I don't want my work to feel like I have to put time in to then enjoy my life outside of it. I want to enjoy all of it, including my work. I would think people are much more likely to innovate and create amazing things when they are doing something that doesn't feel like "work."
Jake, what does this rant have to do with triathlon?
I hear the excuse of not having enough time come up all the time with people talking about getting in shape or wanting to be faster. This kills me every time. "Well, if I had time to workout I'd be in shape." No one is so busy that they can't be physically fit and healthy, I can guarantee you that. There is always someone out there busier than you are that is getting the work in. Time is just being used as an excuse. If there's some impossible way that you truly don't have time to be fit, I would urge you to reconsider your priorities and figure out what is really important in life.
I've heard the same type of mindset in triathlon with age groupers talking about pros. Something like... "If I had time to workout all day then I'd be a pro too." Not with that mindset you wouldn't. Those people who get to "workout all day" just made choices to prioritize their life differently and made their racing a top priority. When it comes down to it, you have to choose the order of important things in your life and the ones at the top of the list are going to become the things you become the best at.
If triathlon moves up toward the top of that list, I can guarantee you will become faster. The defining moment of something moving up the priority list is when it clashes with something else and you are forced to make a choice. Your friends are hitting happy hour but you have a run after work, what do you do? Neither option is bad, it just depends on what you want to put your time into. If you really want to reach your triathlon potential, it is going to take making some decisions to choose your training over other other things.
The reason I've been able to improve my swimming a lot in a short amount of time is because I prioritize it over everything. Unfortunately, swimmers have this horrible thing where they wake up at ridiculous hours so I've had to conform in order to swim with them. This means that I'm not out on Friday night because we have swim early on Saturday, although occasionally I go out anyway and suffer the consequences at swim, but I never miss it!
Choosing a workout over something else should never feel like sacrifice. I see this type of mindset a lot, especially with top level athletes. If I sacrifice more and cut everything else out of my life to become this sacrificial triathlon robot then I will be the best! I don't agree with this. It's not that you shouldn't out work your competition, but you should never view it as a sacrifice to do so. You should be on the trainer for hours on a Saturday because you want to, it may not be super fun but you do it because you know it's going to make your goals a reality, not because you feel like you have to.
With this mindset you will be unstoppable and the path to success will be a lot more enjoyable! See you out there.
Traveling as a triathlete is no easy task
Yet, it is something mostly all triathletes have to do. It being January, I am currently getting ready to start doing quite a bit of traveling to get out of the cold, which inspired me to write this post. When I first started racing, the thought of flying with my bike sounded horrible. Especially since I didn't (and still) don't know much about bikes and how to take them apart and put them together. Not only do you have to fly with a bike, but you have all of your other gear as well and have to manage travel days, which tend to wreak havoc on the body and training. This post is going to cover some of the ways that I've found to be extremely helpful in making traveling as a triathlete more convenient, and cheaper.
First, don't forget your gear at home!
This is pretty basic, but there is nothing worse than opening your bag and not finding your bike shoes/wetsuit/race kit etc. In 2015, when I was racing Escape From Alcatraz, I opened my bag on the bus to the ferry to start the race and realized I had grabbed the wrong wetsuit from my house... It still worked, but definitely set me in a panic to start my race.
So how can you not forget anything?
1) Make a list! Sit down on your computer and make a list of everything you need for a race, and print that thing out. You can use the same list over and over but do it every time and don't check an item off the list until it is in the bag. This will ensure that you have everything.
2) Pack ahead of time! I am a notorious last minute packer, and that is pretty much the worst way to be. Have everything ready the day before your flight or drive so you aren't rushing your packing in any sense. Also, when you do this, it gives you a day for things to pop in your head that you forgot like a Garmin charger, nutrition, spare tubes, and all of those random things that I seem to always forget.
Ok, you followed the steps above and didn't forget anything, good job! But how do you go about flying with a bike and all of this gear?
First... which airlines are best for bike fees? There is a huge difference with bike fees in airlines. Here is a list of the best airlines for bike fees. Try and get a ticket with one of these if possible. Sometimes a slightly more expensive ticket or longer flight time can still be way worth the cost savings of the bike fee.
Best and worst airlines for bike fees
In general, it seems the budget style airlines are a lot better for bike fees. Also, this information seems to change all the time (unfortunately, usually getting more expensive) so if you are reading this from the future in your VR helmet, the prices may be different. International travel also changes everything so be sure to look into that before selecting an airline.
Important note: There are many a time that I have got away with checking my bike as a normal bag and just paying that fee. The reason is a lot of the airlines have weird confusing rules about weight and size in addition to the bike fee that seems to confuse even their employees. What I do every time it is available to me is check my bike at the self service kiosk and print out a bag tag there. Then I go to drop it off at the main desk and if they say anything I say, "Ya, it's under 50lbs. so I'm usually able to check it as a normal bag." Sometimes they say no and charge me the difference and sometimes I get by as checking it as a normal bag. Score!
Let me introduce...
The best bike bag ever!!!
I have used multiple bike bags/cases and ended up selling them or returning them until I found this one. The best part of this bag is that you barely have to do any work to your bike to travel with it. You literally just have to take the wheels off. I take my rear derailleur off as well but that is just preference. That means you can keep your seat post in, your aero bars on, and you don't have to loosen your bars or anything. Packing my bike used to take a couple hours and about 50 zip ties, foam tubing, towels, and greasy hands. Not only that, but I had to make sure I wasn't messing up my expensive bike fit by marking everything so I put the bike back together correctly. Doing this just a few times is enough to make anyone insane, so at the recommendation of some teammates and others, I got this bag and I'll probably never use anything else.
Note: Make sure you get the triathlon version above. I can actually fit my road bike in it as well, which I have done multiple times, but you can't fit a TT bike in the regular road version.
Also note: Use the bike bag to pack a lot of your other stuff inside. I pack most of my stuff around my bike inside the bag so I don't have to carry around a bunch of stuff with me. Just be sure not to go over 50lbs. as that usually incurs a price increase in most airlines!
While we are on the topic of flying, let me to tell you one of my biggest pieces of advice...
Use points for everything!
I obsessively find ways to maximize credit card points and always have my money work for me. Why would you pay for things on a debit card or cash and not earn anything when you can be getting points toward travel for every purchase? This is precisely how I was able to fly to Europe and back for free. Sites like MillionMileSecrets know a lot more than I do about this but I have at least been able to get some huge benefits out of working the system. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (one of the absolute best for travelers), if you spend 3k within the first 3 months of having the card you hit the minimum spend for the bonus and get 50,000 points (aka my flight to Europe). I've also racked up enough points on this card to go to Southeast Asia after this race season. I'm not going to go super in depth on this for this post but you can do this with lots of cards, but you have to do it smartly to avoid annual fees and not impact your credit score negatively, so do your research and contact me if you want more info.
Stay healthy on the road
This is a big one. Travel, especially long travel, is by no means healthy. You are generally trapped in a seated position for a long time leading to tightness and blood pooling, you aren't able to eat everything that you have back at home and stay on your usual diet, and it can be hard/impossible to find time to get your training in. Here are some tips I've found to be useful for my traveling to races, training camps, etc.
1) Never be sitting for long periods of time. If you are driving, pull over every hour and walk around and do some drills and stretches. You should never be sitting in the same position driving or on an airplane for hours on end. Try and shoot for never sitting for more than 2 hours at a time.
Read my post on foam rolling for triathletes to learn about the benefits of rolling.
3) Prepare your food before hand and plan out your meals and snacks for while you're on the road. I can't stress how important this is. We never make good decisions when we are already hungry, especially if we have nothing with us to curb the hunger. Especially if you are traveling to a race, you need to make sure you are on top of your nutrition and hydration if you want to perform properly. Remember, you are what you eat, and as a triathlete, this is extremely important.
Essentially the main idea from this post is to PLAN AHEAD. This has always been a weakness of mine so I almost feel hypocritical writing this... almost :) The times I have planned ahead and been smart about everything listed above are the times when I go into a race with a clear head, ready to put all of the work I've done into a result and that is the most exciting part of the sport!
I didn't go in with the mindset of making that much of a difference from my 2015 season to 2016, but it happened and I want to share with you how I made that jump. In 2015 I was consistently swimming 31-32 minutes for a 70.3 and at my last race of 2016, Ironman Canada 70.3, I swam a 27:38. First, before I go into detail about what I did, remember this is just what worked for me and everyone is different. Swimming is such a unique sport in that it can be hugely technique driven and big improvements can be made without even improving fitness.
My swim background
In short, there is none. I had literally never swam a lap in my life until I decided to try triathlon a few years ago. That is why I feel I offer a relatable perspective to a lot of other triathletes that didn't start as a kid and don't understand why they can't get faster in the water. Trying to talk with someone who grew up swimming is demoralizing and can make you feel like you have no chance to become a fast swimmer. They honestly just have no idea what it is like to start the sport as an adult. But don't worry, you can learn to swim fast as an adult too!
Before we get into the specifics, here is the swim gear I use in my training to improve my technique, strength, and speed...
I find swimming to be a lot like learning a language. There's a lot of thought that kids are better at learning languages than adults, but it actually isn't true. Adults have much more capacity and brainpower to learn a language, the issue is that they go about it in the wrong way. When you were a kid, you didn't open textbooks and start memorizing words and grammar structure to start speaking, you just listened and jumped right in to trying it without caring about anyone else's judgement. Adults get bogged down in the details instead of just jumping in and going for it. I have learned more Spanish in a couple months by speaking with native speakers and just going for it than I did with 3 years of classes in school studying it out of textbooks.
So how does this relate to swimming?
Instead of obsessively getting into every detail of the perfect swim stroke, analyzing it to death, and doing drills you're not even sure what the purpose is, just get in the pool with good swimmers and mimic them. This is my biggest piece of advice: Constantly swim with fast people and stay on their feet day after day. It will feel like death at first, but eventually your body will figure out a way to make the pace work. This is what I did, day after day, week after week, month after month. I showed up to swim groups where I was the slowest one there and just tried to hang onto feet. I didn't even work on my technique very much to cut my time down, I just swam with swimmers. This is just my personal experience, but I truly don't think I could have become much better at swimming by doing it on my own. Having other people around you that are good swimmers makes all the difference.
Technique is still hugely important
I don't want anyone to think by reading above, that I don't think technique is important, because it is. We just get too bogged down in it. I basically did 3 things to improve my technique a lot in just a couple months and I will pass them along to you here.
This book was a game changer for me. I never really knew how to think about swimming until I read this. If you haven't been around swimming your whole life, or even if you have, this book will teach you a ton about how to be effective in the water. I can't recommend it enough. What helped me so much is being able to have specific things to think about when I was in the water. When I can actually think of the three phases of the pull section of the stroke and how my hand should be when it enters the water while I'm swimming, it gives me a focus for the whole practice on making an aspect of my stroke better. Read this book, you won't regret it!
2) Film yourself
This is something I plan on doing a lot more this year. The awesome thing about filming yourself in the pool is that you can visually see something going weird in your stroke. For me, it always felt like I put my both hands in the water in about the same spot relative to my head, but after filming myself, I could see that by breathing to the left, my right hand was going way out wide to balance myself because I was moving my head too much. This made my stroke look terrible and you don't need to be a swim expert to look at that and know that if I fixed my hand position and head position, it would make my stroke way more efficient.
There are a couple methods I have found best to film yourself in the pool. It's definitely helpful to have someone there with you but I did it on my own plenty of times so it can be done.
Then I would just leave it filming and swim my warmup or part of my set, put it back in my bag, upload it to the computer and cut out all of the fill in time, and then you have a bunch of footage of your stroke. Doesn't take a lot of effort and makes a big difference!
Another method that also happens to be a lot more affordable if you don't already own a GoPro is to use a LifeProof case on your phone or iPad and have someone film you. I've never done this method on my own, but I'm sure you could set your phone or iPad up at the bottom of the pool and get some good filming. If you go this route, I strongly recommend downloading the app, Coach's Eye, which is a $5 app on the apple app store that allows you to completely analyze the footage taken and easily scroll back and forth in slow motion to see every detail of your stroke.
3) Have people watch you
If you follow my advice from earlier then you'll be swimming with other people. Have them watch you swim! Most people will not mind a couple minutes of looking at you swim and offering some pointers. If you go to a masters class, have the coach look at your stroke during the warmup or cool down and ask for some pointers. Even just the smallest things like, your head is too high or you are dropping your elbow can create mental notes to bring to focus while you are swimming. Most people are happy to help and their advice can go a long way!
Set a minimum distance
This piece of advice helped me a lot when I was first starting to really swim. To get good at swimming, just like anything, you need to swim a lot! When I was first trying to get better, I thought a 2k swim was a ton and most of my swims would be roughly 1500-2k. Some of my swimmer friends told me to set a minimum distance that I was going to swim when I got in the water no matter what. I started with 3k and made every single swim at least that. Now, the majority of my swims are anywhere from 3.5k-5k. It's just like anything in that you build a tolerance to the load and the new distances you push will start to feel like the norm. Once again, swimming with a group alleviates this issue of not getting the distance in as long as the group is swimming long and hard enough.
So there you have it...
This is what worked for me in making big jumps in my swimming and as I said earlier, everyone is different, but a lot of this advice can be applicable to people at all different levels. I am still learning a ton about this sport as I'm still relatively new to it and have a long way to progress if I want to hit my goals in triathlon. As I continue to learn more I will continue to share more on here. If you enjoyed the post, check out some of my others!
The picture is of me cooking dinner for Team Every Man Jack in Kona for the World Championships. Note: I don't always cook like this... Onto the post!
Nutrition is such a massively discussed and debated topic in triathlon, other endurance sports, life, and just about everything else. Rightly so, as there truly isn't anything more important than what you eat. I plan to blog a lot about nutrition as I am always researching a ton on the topic and want to share what I learn and what has worked and not worked for me personally.
When it comes to triathlon, there are so many different opinions on the perfect diet, from low carb high fat, to high carbs but only "good" ones, to only eating caveman foods, and much more. On top of that, there are tons of companies advertising supplements all over the place and with all of this information, it gets completely overwhelming to even know where to start. This post isn't going to create an in depth personal nutrition plan but rather explain how I go about building my diet and my philosophy behind eating what I eat.
What you eat truly becomes who you are down to the cellular level. You are built off of what you put in your body so it becomes pretty obvious that an athlete looking to squeeze the best possible performance out of their body would need to build it from a strong, healthy foundation.
Instead of counting my calories, I make my calories count
What do I mean by this? It means that when I put calories into my body, I try to make them calories worth putting in. I want them to have value and add to my well-being. These are calories that come from foods with a lot of nutritional value meaning they are from sources filled with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that benefit my health. The opposite of this would be an empty calorie. That term gets thrown around but I never really understood what it meant until my college professor gave me a great example of empty calories. The example she gave is a saltine cracker, or really any type of cracker, or pretzel, white bread, etc. The reason these are empty calories is because they are still a source of calories but offer virtually no nutritional value. As stated above, a food with nutritional value will offer more than just quick burning calories by including micronutrients. These foods also cause your body to feel satiated and will cause you to feel more full. One of the worst parts of empty calorie foods is that they don't make you feel satisfied, so you feel constantly hungry, but instead of giving your body the nutrients it wants, you continue to put more empty calories in and this can lead to weight gain, nutrient insufficiencies, and more.
So what do I eat?
I used to read so much about diet and nutrition only to find that when I walked in the grocery store, all of this information wasn't actually helping me on specifically what to buy and how to easily make it into something at home. Unfortunately, cooking has never been my specialty, but I have become much, much better in the past year at making easy, nutrient dense meals and cutting a lot of the crap out of my diet.
My typical day
This is a topic I will save for a different post as it is a huge rabbit hole to jump into but here are the ones I currently take. I'm not a huge supplement person, but I do take a few as insurance if I'm missing any nutrients. The ultragen works amazing in smoothies and is the best post workout powder I have used. Just be careful as it has a pretty high calorie content.
Breakfast (with a workout soonish after)
Oatmeal! If I'm walking out the door to a super early swim or something I'll just grab a banana otherwise my pre workout breakfast is oatmeal. I toss in raisins, blueberries, peanut butter, greek yogurt, sliced banana, and chia seeds. This works great for me before a long run or ride as it's calorically dense, easy to digest, and doesn't upset my stomach while working out.
Breakfast (without a workout right after or post workout)
Egg scramble extravaganza. I make a variation of this almost every day. It's great after an early morning workout or on a day where you aren't working out right away in the morning. I start off cooking sliced sweet potato in coconut oil on the stove. When that's done I throw chicken sausage in the pan and get that looking nice (once or twice a week I use bacon). Then I throw 2-3 eggs in and scramble them into everything while also throwing in a couple handfuls of veggies. I get this 8 veggie mix from Trader Joes that works great making it easy to get lots of different veggies in. Then, when everything looks nice and cooked I throw it on a plate, put some salsa and sliced avocado on top and enjoy!
This is the hardest one for me. Especially when I'm working and I have to pack something. It usually ends up being a couple PB&J's, some turkey jerky, an apple, and anything else I can grab from my house on my way out the door. If I'm at home, it'll usually just be leftovers.
I am guilty of eating out for dinner a decent amount but it is usually to some pretty healthy spots. Generally, when I have dinner at home it is a form of a protein like chicken or fish, a carb, which is rice a lot of the time, and a salad with olive oil.
For dessert, I generally just munch on some dark chocolate. There are actually quite a few health benefits to having some so I don't mind using that to satisfy my dessert cravings. Other than that, I occasionally will have a bowl of Peanut Butter Puffins, which are kind of my weakness.
I love smoothies and they are so easy to make along with being an effective way to get a lot of nutrients in a great tasting snack. I generally just blend up random frozen fruit with some almond milk, maca powder (link below), chia and flax seeds (links below), Ultragen, that I mentioned above, and greek yogurt.
Other than that, most of my snacks include fruit, nuts, and jerky. I try to stay away from chips, crackers, and packaged foods but I do love my chips and salsa.
Supplies I order online
It can save a lot of money and time to order certain things from Amazon instead of having to get them at the store. These are some of the things I order on there that tend to be a lot more expensive in stores and for less quantity.
Tips for leaning out
This is basically my main piece of advice for leaning out. Cut the crap out of your diet, specifically added sugar. If you can make just one change, make it to be cutting out added sugar. I promise if you cut out sugar, you will notice results very fast. I've experimented a lot with this myself and I haven't found anything that can make such a difference so fast. We consume so much sugar as a society and it has become a huge problem. Even when you think you're not, there's a good chance you're probably still consuming too much. Look at something like a flavored yogurt if you want your mind blown. A little cup of flavored yogurt, which is something a lot of people consider healthy, can have up to 30 grams of sugar or more. WHAT!? Cray cray. Don't drink any sugary drinks either, just stick to water. It might feel hard at first, but if you drink only water for 2 weeks the craving for sugary drinks will be gone and you'll probably be a lot more hydrated.
My dairy conundrum
I love dairy, but I also do really notice the effects of kicking it out of my diet. The point I'm at now is to consume very limited amounts of it, which is basically just greek yogurt at this point. This seems to be a very debated topic and one that has research on both sides, but for me personally, I feel it's a lot easier to lean out and I feel lighter and faster when I'm not consuming dairy. I still have an occasional ice cream or something with cheese on it but for the most part, not that much anymore. It was also way easier to take out of my diet than I expected. These days, there are alternatives for everything it seems so it's easy to have something like almond milk instead of cow's milk. This is definitely a personal decision but I thought I'd share my experience with it.
As long as I'm getting the good, I'm OK with the bad
This is my philosophy when I want to eat something that may not be super healthy. If the rest of my day was solid and I got in nutritious foods, then it's OK for me to eat a cookie or two. I also generally take this mindset into having a few beers or glasses of wine. If you take a super strict approach to not having any "bad stuff," you'll probably end up miserable and eventually cave worse than if you just occasionally sprinkled some bad into your diet.
I hope that was helpful in sharing my mindset in my daily nutrition and diet habits as well as some of my philosophies behind eating with you. As I said earlier, I plan to blog quite a bit more on nutrition with topics like race nutrition but in the meantime, check out my foam rolling guide. If there is anything you would like to hear more about, please let me know in the comments and don't forget to subscribe!
Jake is a triathlete and coach with a passion for travel and everything triathlon. He loves sharing his knowledge and experiences with others.
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