I hope you all had a wonderful weekend – mine was pretty lovely (see below).
So I just finished reading this book about diet and physical performance and it taught me a ton of awesome stuff. It also really got me thinking about how much my athletic performance has improved since changing how I eat to focus on eating for my performance. Sure I am pretty active; but whether we are lifting 50-pound weights, 5-pound weights, running, walking or simply living and breathing – we all need to eat to perform for life. Why? Because food (more specifically nutrients, vitamins, minerals… all that good stuff) is how our bodies function.
Eating to perform is not eating Franken-food – the processed gunk that really isn’t food at all. Eating to perform is not cutting calories and nutrients so you are not receiving adequate nutrition. I’ve done both.
Eating to perform means fueling our bodies with real, nutrient-rich foods, vitamins, minerals, drinking lots of water so our bodies can perform all of its’ necessary functions. Whether we are walking to work or running a marathon, we all need to fuel our bodies with food – when your car needs gas you fill it up right? Whatever your goal (marathons, muscle ups, fat loss, muscle gains, living to 100 years old) I promise you that you need to fuel your body with food in order to get there.
I wish I knew this when I was playing basketball and stuffing my face with Franken-foods, pasta, bagels, etc. That’s one of the reasons why, when I graduate, I especially want to work with athletes. I truly believe that proper nutrition is the key to performance – I’m living proof! I still consider myself an athlete and completely notice the difference in my health, happiness, fitness, strength and body since eating a much more nutrient-rich diet, ditching nutrition dogma (aka media lies) and calories…. eating to perform.
At first, it was hard for me to figure out how much of this real and delicious food I should be eating. The amount that I eat may be too much for you, not enough for you or maybe it’s just right (unlikely but maybe you’re my twin). During my Whole 30, I used this guide to help figure out where to begin in regards to my portion sizes. Through experimentation and listening to my body I now have a pretty good idea of what I need.
Starting your day with a nourishing breakfast begins your metabolism function and fuels your body with nutrients that enable you to think, work and play. After my workout and my post-workout smoothie, that’s just what I do. Here are some of my breakfasts from last week…
Grilled chicken, sweet potato, steamed broccoli, roasted brussels and a nut butter bite (recipe to come – working out the kinks)
Grass-fed ground beef, egg, spaghetti squash, kale, carrots and salsa – because everything is better with salsa
Ground chicken, spaghetti squash, kale, salsa and avocado
3 eggs and spinach scramble with salsa, 1/2 an avocado, frozen berries and a nectarine
Lunch is often challenging because you are usually on-the-go (check out this post for some tips) but if you are prepared, you are setting yourself up for success. Don’t skimp on the mid-day meal – if you don’t get enough of what you need prior to dinner you’ll likely a) eat a large, food-coma-like-dinner or b) eat/snack a lot throughout the evening… it happens to me!
Turkey sausages, spinach, sweet potato, avocado and salsa
Spinach salad with grilled chicken, carrots, avocado, balsamic vinegar + a banana and cashews
Bison burger with brussels sprouts, a hard boiled egg, carrots, salsa and an avocado – this was random but really good all together.
Dinner is a time to sit down to a nice meal and relax after a long day. Having some food ready when I get home and I’m tired is what works for me. The thought of cooking elaborate meals after an early morning workout, 2x commutes and a full day at work or studying is so not appealing. Keep it simple.
Grass-fed ground beef, egg, spaghetti squash, kale, carrots and salsa (same as breakfast)
Bison burger with a fried egg on top, roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflower and a sweet potato
Turkey sausages, spinach, sweet potato and apple
Beef burger, grilled asparagus and sweet potato, avocado
If I’m hungry in-between meals, I have a snack. I typically have a snack mid-morning before lunch and a snack (or dessert) after dinner. Sure I could skip the snacks by having a bigger breakfast and bigger dinner but I kinda like it this way. Nuts, dried fruit, hard boiled eggs, bananas, nut butter – they are some of my favorite snacks… but lately I have been trying to focus on eating more nutrient-dense and less “sugary” snacks.
Chopped liver and veggies. Yup, chicken liver. It’s basically a pâté with salt, pepper, onions and hard boiled eggs. Liver is a nutritional powerhouse and I actually love it (I grew up eating it – thank you Jewish grandmas). If you want to learn more about the awesome-ness of liver, read more here.
I snack on it with baby carrots…
I don’t really want liver after dinner so I opt for more dessert-y like things. Like, apples and almond butter (with an extra lick of almond butter)
or a nut butter bite (okay, two)
or celery, almond butter and dried cranberries… aka a more “grown up” ants-on-a-log
So how did eating to perform actually translate to my performance last week? Well I felt full, energized and focused to study and work; I powered through three WODs, two yoga classes, a 5K race followed by a long-run; plus two full rest days to relax and recharge. I think that is a successful week.
I did the burpees in sets of 25 and did 200 single skips instead of double unders. I did my clean and jerk @ 70lbs and got through 2 rounds and 6 clean and jerks in the 14 mins.
I love repeating WODs:
Last time I did “Ponaay” (a few weeks ago) I got 104 reps. I got 109 this time around… yay progress! I think I could have done more but we were having some spacing issues on the bars (aka too many people).
We worked on our muscle up progression – I want to do a muscle up soooo badly. Baby steps.
Another repeat WOD. I modified the double unders to singles x2 and finished in 16:08. The last time I did “Samwise” I not only modified the skipping but also used a lighter kettlebell… I finished in 19:24. Say what?! 3 mins faster and heavier weight! It must have been the new shoes…
Two classes at Om T.O. (the Toronto outdoor yoga event) with my friend Zack. It was such a perfect day! We did a lot of walking and then enjoyed a Hatha and Vinyassa class. Great event, instructors and environment.
Ran a 5K race with my friend Ruby. She wanted me to pace her to hit her goal of 26 minutes… well she crushed ti! Yay :)
Then I ran home
And ate a lot of food.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Questions of the day…
What’s one workout lately that you have been proud of?
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