Article provided by: Holly Pennington, PT, DPT with Andrea Steele, PA-C
Have you ever wondered about plant-based diets or considered veganism? In this Q&A with Andrea Steele, PA-C and founder of The Plant Fueled Family, we will explore what plant-based diets are, how they are beneficial for athletes and tips for getting started.
Let’s start with the basics, what’s the difference between plant-based and vegan?
Andrea Steele (AS): Great question, and I wish I had an answer that everyone agreed with! I can, however tell you my interpretation. Vegans do not consume any product derived from an animal (including wearing leather, silk, fur or wool).1 Those that follow a whole food plant based diet (WFPBD) try to get their nutrients from a wide variety of fruits, vegetable, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Many avoid oil (2), and while many avoid all animal products, some individuals consume honey or even fish from time to time (3). While you can see there is a lot of crossover with veganism, it’s not always quite the same thing. You can really get into the weeds with this, and some contentious interchanges, which defeats the purpose! The goal here is health (and for many, ethics and sustainability), and not perfection.
You are a busy, working mom of 3 young children. When and why did you decide to switch to a plant-based diet, and did your whole family transition at the same time?
AS: The short (ish?) version is that I was on maternity leave with our first child, on the couch nursing. I was binge watching documentaries (my favorite!) and came across Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., Veducated, Fat, and Sick and Nearly Dead. I was blown away. I am a medical professional, how was I never privy to this information? The data is compelling, and to the scientific thinker in me, it made sense. At that time, I was practicing in internal medicine- it was literally my job to educate patients about wellness, as well as optimally addressing and treating their acute and chronic illnesses. I immediately knew I needed to do better, learn more. However, if I were to paint the picture that we were eating tofu and snap peas overnight, I’d be a liar. Emotionally, I wanted to make the switch NOW. In reality, it took time to create the recipes, flavor profiles, and depth of flavors that make our meals so satisfying now. The resources are so much more plentiful now, and the documentaries keep coming! What The Health, Cowspiracy, and many more (look for Game Changers this September!).
What are your best tips for those wanting to transition to a plant based diet?
AS: The key is finding ways to prepare and season plants in a way that mimics the same textures and flavors as your previously favorite foods. Remember, most of the flavors we enjoy in delicious food actually come from plants (garlic, onion, basil, rosemary, chili etc). Experiment, find resources online or on Instagram. Join a FB group. You’ll find communities of folks in the same boat. Start small, and gradually make substitutions in your diet.
Do you feel it needs to be an all-or-nothing commitment to reap the benefits?
AS: I would argue no! Any changes you make to incorporate WFPB choices into your diet are going to contribute to your overall health. From a health standpoint, this tends to be one of those situations where “more is better”, but every body, every family, is so unique that there are going to be variations. It isn’t about having a “perfect” diet, it’s about striving for better food choices. It’s getting easier to do this, and eating plant-based is more popular these days! What we need to get away from is mainstream advertising that tells us a sandwich stuffed with Cheetos and a Mountain Dew on the side are an adequate lunch (yes, I saw that commercial yesterday!).
How can plant-based diet help athletes recover better, and/or heal from injuries?
AS: Plant-based diets have high antioxidant and micronutrient profiles, which in turn can speed recovery. This is accomplished by reducing oxidative stress in the cells, which contributes to everything from heart disease and cancer, to Alzheimer’s disease (and so many more!).(4) Contrary to the belief of some, a WFPBD also provides adequate protein from all 20 amino acids, which aids muscle growth and repair. This diet also lacks meat, dairy, and eggs, all of which tend to induce inflammation.(5,6,7) As an athlete, you are putting stress on the body and wanting it to recover as fast as possible for your next workout. A WFPBD provides just that-all of the key nutrients to recover faster, without the processed or inflammation-inducing components. Not only that, you’re reaping the longevity and disease prevention benefits! You’ll find hoards of athletes (many professional!) who say they have never performed better or recovered faster since adopting a WFPBD.
What is your favorite recipe right now?
AS: Oh man, you’re going to make me pick! I’ll tell you the 2 recipes we have in “the rotation” frequently right now are the Caulifredo and Black Bean Houdini brownies. Speaking of those interested in transitioning to plant-based, these are amazing!
For more great recipes, follow Andrea on Instagram @theplantfueledfamily and The Plant Fueled Family Facebook page.
Have an ache or pain holding you back this season? Come in for a free consult with a Board Certified Physical Therapist. Visit www.outpatientpt.com to find a location near you.
Written by: Phillip Kriss
On June 30 I completed my 20th 70.3 race.
I signed up not only because it is supposed to be fun, but what happens on race day makes you think on your feet and figure stuff out on the fly. Good training for life. And my fictional adopted son Dr. Jake Brown talked about how great he thought it would be to be an Ironman. While he was talking about it, I took his phone, navigated to the CDA registration page and returned his phone for him to complete the registration. I felt like I was on the hook to show up myself. Then my buddies started to doggie pile on the event, so I had no choice!
Training started building months ago without a training plan. I was not very serious and missed or did half-hearted workouts. I was quite sure I had this event in the bag! Podium spot, here I come!
My leg got messed up a month before the event by pushing hard to cram that last little bit to make up for lost time. That caused me to miss or cut back on my runs. But I thought since I had a strong base and lots of experience, I will be able to pull a miracle out of my hat on race day.
In the car I go with the logical of the crowd, Mark Casey. The RTB camaraderie is great. It is fun meeting new people I knew only on Strava and seeing the familiar faces like the Satko’s. The weather forecast looked perfect. The water temp perfect! All systems are go. I am all pumped up! Let’s go right now!
I do love race day at Ironman events. The announcers reminding and instructing us on what to do. The excitement of body marking. Photos with friends. Cranking AC/DC tunes. Watching others stress out while you know you have it in the bag because you did these many times before (if you have).
The swim. Sucks as usual. So what else is new. One of these days I really should take this swimming stuff more seriously.
The bike, my strong suit! Other people are passing me. What is up with that? This is not normal. My leg hurts. Hmm. My butt hurts. Hmm. 10 minutes slower than anticipated. I am beginning to think maybe I made a mistake somewhere along the line.
The Run. As soon as I got off my bike and took a few steps I knew I was in trouble. Try as I may, my leg just would not work. I got out of transition OK and then watched 17 of my fellow age groupers pass me up as I posted my lowest time at that distance by almost an hour.
The thinking started at about mile 3. The negative side of my thoughts kept telling me I am getting too old to do this stuff. This hurts so bad it is not worth it. I am not going to do this anymore. This is not fun. I used to be a great athlete that almost always made it on the podium to now roadkill. I have become the guy I dreaded I would be and used to make fun of.
Controlling my negative emotions became a real challenge. At some point I remembered a good healthy dose of humility is good for me! I just don’t like it.
I forced myself into changing my thought process. I told myself I was fortunate to be out there on a great day! I told myself I will make it to the finish line. I should be proud of myself as others will be. I told me to keep moving ahead and just don’t quit! Be patient.
I actually started a little chant telling myself “I can do this. Do the best you can. Just keep moving” Then my pathetic walk turned into a pathetic jog simply by changing my mind.
Then I learned my lesson for the day at the hands of a brutal mental self-beating.
When I was smarter and took wise instruction, my mentors (Sam McComb and Bob Kaye) told me the more I raced the better I would get. I would dig a little deeper each time I showed up and incrementally I would accomplish the grandiose! They were right. When I did that that is exactly what happened.
To get faster they said you must race more. Every time you show up you will push a bit harder and do a little better. Listen more. Train more. Buy more cool toys. Think, plan and execute more. Make a total commitment and jump in with both feet!
There are some limitations, but what you put in is what you will get out. There are no miracles that magically show up on race day.
It is unlikely that anybody will place high without putting the time, determination, energy, commitment and support of others. If you don’t do that, don’t have high placement expectations and do expect to suffer double on the occasional race day. That is OK too.
I did not do what I should have done but simply went through the motions. The result was I got what I deserved, and I should not complain about it.
So, big fella within, what are you going to do about that? Sign up and go again and press forward on forging your dreams and do what you love to do or cave into life’s pressure and change course?
I found it very hard accept “Congratulations” and “Well done!” when I thought my performance sucked. (What a jerk!) Mindset is the only thing that makes it a good day or a bad day. They are all good days, but some are better than others! It is all a matter of perspective.
A few other thoughts and quotes that sank into me.
A sign in T2 “Anything is possible”
At the athlete briefing “We all want you to finish. But for that to happen you must keep moving forward and do not quit” and “Thank a volunteer. They sacrificed their day off so you can race”
“It is Ironman, not Ironbaby. It is supposed to be hard”
“Getting old sucks”
And most important at run mile 10 when I was done with my pity party, I got passed by the last of my fellow age groupers to pass me who probably knew what was going on. “You should be really grateful you are here. Some can’t and want to. Most our age would not have the courage to put on a tri kit much less show up and attempt this great feat. They are at home on the couch”
Raise the Bar
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