October 22, 2011

No Meat Athlete

Title inspired by this amazing blog.

When I started this blog, I liked fruit, carrots, and spinach. I strived to eat whole grains and lean protein often (including but not limited to: eggs, turkey, chicken and fish), as well as low-fat yogurt, milk, and cheese. I even took part in Carne Asada day when my husband got a hankering for a piece o' red meat. I felt fine, I wasn't struggling with acne, low energy levels or weak performance in my exercise. But then again, I wasn't exercising to any super intense levels and I didn't long to anyhow.

my take on chili: as many grilled veggies as possible, pinto beans, chili powder, serrano chilis, tomato, corn, avocado + lime.

Slowly, but surely, I was influenced by other bloggers to up the volume of my daily vegetable and fruit intake and decrease the amount of meat (mainly red) I ate. Words like "cholesterol" and "high in fat" took over my mind, I read books, I watched YouTube videos, I ate every bit of it.
When Green Monsters came into my life, I fell in love: spinach/kale, rolled oats, rice milk/water (nowadays I just use coconut water) frozen fruit (banana, strawberries), wheat germ, ground flaxseed, etc.

When my fiber intake took a very extreme (and delicious) jump upwards, I began to experience symptoms of IBS and even Celiacs Disease. I also was slowly eating less and less chicken, pork, eggs and cheese. I still had yogurt almost daily and at least one serving of animal meat a week. My tummy was a grump from all the fruit binges (or so I was told, "too much fiber!!"), but I couldn't stop eating the rainbow every day, it was just too dang good. Once again, my running wasn't really getting any better or worse, but I did experience injuries that left me inable to run for months at a time. But that could have just been because of over-training. For my insides, I eventually made an appointment with my doctor after reading about lactose intolerance and Celiacs.
When my first "veggie juice" went poorly (that's what happens when you use a food processor instead of a juicer 'cause you don't own a juicer) I made the veggie mush into delicious pancakes. Take: beets, celery, apple, carrots, a hint of ginger and process it. Then add some oats (to thicken it up) and vanilla. It was a miracle!! Served with green goo and walnuts with raisins, and topped with mashed banana and almonds.
October 2010, I was in the middle of runner's rehab from a knee injury I had been battling since August, so as I made friends with the elliptical, I also went off dairy for a month and kept a log of my symptoms. Guess what? Zero changes. At that time I was eating zero animal products besides my once-a-week-salmon-fillet, and I was loving the idea of making the switch to a 100% Vegan diet. The strangest part of this journey of my mysterious tummy troubles was this: I went to Mexico that January and ate yogurt, milk, red meat, chicken, Mexican cheeses and a handful of fruits/veggies a day. 10 days of these foods and zero stomach issues! Well, besides over-eating one day and a lack of needing "to go" which I hadn't experienced in over a year or so. I also began jogging with my papa-in-law at 8,000 feet elevation (felt like I couldn't breathe!) And ran almost daily for the entire visit without any knee pain!
1 frozen banana and 4 frozen strawberries, rice milk and vanilla.
Apparently, taking almost 4 full months away from running and focusing on strengthening the leg muscles with cross training and weights was a sure-fire way to fix runner's knee and get back to pain-free movement. But my stomach symptoms? I was confused, I documented all of it and went to my doctor. We had the choice of spending thousands of dollars to bring the case to scientific laboratories and have them do study after study (including gluten intolerance), or, we could blame it on "too much fiber". But that didn't give me peace, I wanted all the fiber I could get, and I didn't want to eat one less piece of homemade wheat bread just for my gut's sake. So? I continued my salmon-once-a-week way of eating, left all dairy and eggs and other meat out, and kept the veggies, fruits, beans, legumes, soy and whole grains close by.
homemade Seitan in a jar :)
Strange enough, as I write this I realize that almost all of the IBS symptoms are gone. A few months ago I left salmon and have been on a full vegan, zero processed food, way of consumin' ever since. I love it like crazy, I feel amazing, and I don't crave animal products at all. I am eating even more vegetables than I was before, and giant fruit smoothies each morning. I have not left gluten, I actually add gluten to my homemade bread which I eat a few times a week. I eat oats almost daily as well, which some folks with gluten issues can't consume without feeling it later. So the past was a silly mystery to me, but I am so thankful it is over!
vegan date brownies with walnuts
And my running (after fighting another injury back in April) has been doing wonderfully! I brought the cardio training down to only three days a week (2 track runs of 5 miles each and a long run @ the lake of 6+ miles on the weekend) and on my off days I do 30-40 minute High Intensity Interval Training sessions (strength training movements, sometimes with weights, at max intensity over and over and over) as well as an hour of yoga, if I set aside a day for it. I feel stronger than I ever have, I'm off my migraine medication that I was taking for 5+ years and I just can't get enough of this life!
veggie spring rolls with homemade almond butter sweet n' sour sauce inside
Here's the thing: I stopped eating all animal products because I feel better inside when fueled by all plants. Some people say they do it to "live longer" but we are not in control of that, God knows our expiration date and it doesn't change when we swap donuts for carrots. It's about quality of life - how you feel every morning when you wake, how you sleep, how you work, how you sweat. I might live 'till my 50's, 60's, 90's, only God knows, and I'm excited about that! I just want to be running marathons in my 80's, I don't want to be sitting in a wheel chair, taking 7 pills a day so my body can continue to function. Quality, not quantity.

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

Thank You, Jesus!!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  
Hebrews 12:1-2


  1. Look at that....Yummy! I love what you do! It is very well known in my family and friends around me that have IBS and other problems with eating food such as milk, bread, and meat. Very helpful information. Thank you :)

  2. Wow, that's an amazing journey! I always ate a lot of vegetables but I've definitely been inspired to eat more "clean" from other bloggers! I used to only look at calories but now I look at ingredients too!

  3. I love your perspective, Nicole! It's so true, it has so much to do with our quality of life. Although I'm not COMPLETELY animal free in my eats, I can tell you how much more incredible I feel since taking out dairy and limiting my consumption of meat. Not only am I doing my body good, but it gives me a piece of mind, knowing that I don't have to worry about what hormones, artificial steroids, bad feed, antibiotics and etc that were put in the piece of chicken I'm consuming. And I think that even though we can't delay the ticking clock on our lives, we can certainly speed it up by not treating our bodies well. God gives us free will. We can choose to eat well and take care of ourselves, or we can choose to not take care of ourselves, and possibly inhibit our ability to do what God has called us to do, because we are not physically capable. God has plans for each and every person's life--up until the point of death--and if we don't treat our bodies with respect, it makes me wonder if we wouldn't be able to accomplish everything he has planned, because we wouldn't be healthy, have enough energy, or feel capable. Some people might think of this as a stretch, or a logical leap, but I think it's totally true. Living healthfully and running/exercising has not just done wonders for my health, but for my mind, my perception of myself, what I'm capable of, how I can overcome obstacles, how I can withstand pain, how I can grow, how I can make it through anything, how, if I put my mind to it, I can persevere. It's an all encompassing, lesson teaching approach to life!

  4. your so creative, seriously. When my juice turns out bad I usually toss it. Either that or throw it in a smoothie to try and salvage it! I would never think of turning it into pancakes though lol