A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Development

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m kind of a nerd for personal development, but I realized the other day that I’ve really never taken the time to explain it.

The name doesn’t exactly sell it well; I much prefer self-improvement. (Both are better than self-help, though.) I say “nerd” because there’s nothing cool about it … “trying” isn’t looked upon so favorably by the masses who determine what’s cool. But I’d argue that reading or listening to something motivational, inspiring, or educational every single day is without a doubt the most important daily practice in my life.

My nerddom is to the point that more than once (in the past year alone) I’ve bought out-of-print cassette tape programs from the 1980’s on ebay, and either listened to them on a boombox in my car (really) or converted them to MP3’s. Which, I’m told by some new friends, is lame because not only do people not listen to cassettes anymore, they also don’t use ebay anymore.

But although I like to think the themes I learn from these books and tapes underlie my posts — those of taking responsibility, dancing with fear, thinking big, persisting, engineering habits — I’ve never written explicitly about personal development here. So that’s what I’m doing today.

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Updates! The 2015 Holistic Holiday at Sea, NMA Running Groups, and More

Wow — long time, not a lot of posts. Fortunately, it’s because I’ve been cranking out a ton of other stuff, and that’s what this post is about.

To start, here are a few quick updates about what we’ve been working on for the past month, before getting to even more updates about some great events that are coming up. Lots of news to share today, so get cozy!

Podcast: Doug and I have recommitted to NMA Radio, and for the past month we’ve published 1-2 episodes every week! (Now if I could just get to that frequency with blog posts we’d be in good shape.) With so many new episodes, I decided to stop putting posts about each one in the blog feed. So, you can either subscribe in iTunes to get new episodes automatically, or visit our new podcast archive to check for new episodes if you prefer to listen on-site.

Recent guests have included Badwater winner Harvey Lewis, Micah Risk from the cover of the October Runner’s World, Christy Morgan (the Blissful and Fit Chef), and #vegrunchat founder Brandon Frye. NMA Radio is back; give it a listen!

Running groups: Here we go, the real reason for so few posts recently! (Also the reason my kids have mostly forgotten what I look like.) But all the time it’s taken is worth it, because seeing these groups get started makes me happier than anything else I’ve ever done with No Meat Athlete.

I plan on writing a blog post soon to highlight what these amazing, plant-based running groups are up to, but for now, know that there are 70 (!) of them across the U.S. and the world, and many have already held their first group runs (followed by some vegan eats and drinks, of course).

Here’s a shot of last night’s inaugural Austin, TX run, organized by fearless leader Jonathan Garner:

nma austin

If you live in or near a big city, chances are there’s an NMA group there — and if not, I put together a manual to help you start one. Check out our listing of groups and join yours here!

And now, some stuff that’s in the works …

Join Me on the 2015 Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be a special guest on the 2015 Holistic Holiday at Sea, better known as “the vegan cruise,” for 7 days from March 14th to 21st.

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‘Choosing Raw’ Review and an 80/10/10 Update

9780738216874 2scaledA few weeks ago, I published a podcast episode about my most recent diet experiment: 80/10/10, also known as fruitarian.

The diet is 100 percent raw and very low in fat (only 10 percent of calories), but I’ve made it slightly less extreme by eating cooked food for dinner most nights.

I’ve felt spectacular on modified 80/10/10, but after a month of giant salads, half-watermelon lunches, smoothies made from eight bananas, and more mangoes than I’ve ever eaten in my life, I’ve had to make further modifications, and the way I’m eating now only barely resembles true 80/10/10.

The problem? It has nothing to do with all the fruit — that’s actually been really fun. Instead, it’s my weight. Eating this way, I simply couldn’t keep it on, even with only moderate training (25-30 miles per week right now). I don’t keep close track of weight these days, but I know I lost a good eight pounds in the last month, maybe more. And considering I started around 140 lbs, that’s too much for me to lose.

The thing is, I’m not convinced the weight loss is unhealthy.

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Who’s that in the ‘Vegan’ Socks on the Cover of Runner’s World?

RW1014 COV 792x1024When Runner’s World redesigned their magazine starting with this month’s issue, their stated goal was to have the magazine fit better into every runner’s world.

I’ll go ahead and speak for our crowd on this one, and say they’ve already hit a home run — in the form of two knee-high socks boasting “VEGAN” right on the cover (not to mention another instance of “vegan” in reference to the recipes).

But it gets better. On page 23, there’s a full-page feature on Micah Risk, the cover model — a 29-year-old mom, November Project devotee, 3:18 marathoner (a BQ in her first 26.2!), and nutritionist at Lighter, a company she co-founded in Boston to help women take control of their diets, with a focus on real, plant-based food. Plus she’s got a PMA tattoo … not quite NMA, but just as good!

It seems to me that you couldn’t pick a better person than Micah to spread our message on a mainstream platform, and today I’m thrilled to present an interview with this intriguing, street-stylish woman on NMA Radio.

PS — Speaking of Runner’s World, I’ll be at next month’s Runner’s World Half and Festival in Bethlehem, PA, along with Doug Hay, author of Rock Creek Runner and co-host of our podcast. The last RW event (in Boston) was a blast, so you’d like to join us, the discount codes below will save you 15% on any (or all) of the races. Hope to meet you there!

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • How Micah became a Runner’s World cover model
  • The power and community of the November Project
  • How Micah trained to run her Boston-qualifying first marathon
  • What to eat before, during, and after a long run
  • Micah’s goals as a plant-based nutritionist
  • Where she got those socks!

Click the button below to listen now:

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My New Food Experiment: The 80/10/10 Fruitarian Diet

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Last week in the NMA newsletter, I promised to start publishing more frequent podcast episodes — and for the first time ever (I think), here’s our second episode within a week!

We’re shooting for 1-2 episodes per week now, and I may decide not to post all of them to the blog like this. So if you want to make sure you’re notified whenever there’s a new episode of NMA Radio, subscribe in iTunes. (And if you’d like to leave a nice review while you’re there, I’d really appreciate it.)

In this new episode, we talk a lot about fruit.

First, the Woodstock Fruit Festival, where last month my family spent a week camping and eating nothing but raw fruit and vegetables, and having a blast doing all the typical summer camp stuff surrounded by such amazing food. It’s put on each year by elite ultrarunner and fruitarian Michael Arnstein, and being able to hang out with him in person left me really inspired.

So much so that we took the diet home with us. Not quite 100 percent, but close — we’re eating fruitarian (also called 80/10/10, as in 80 percent carbs, 10 percent protein, 10 percent fat) until dinnertime each day, then a cooked meal for dinner most nights. (Our kids are still eating their normal diets all day, with just a little more fruit.)

We’re treating it as an experiment, and we’re not quite sure which way we’ll go: toward eating this way all day long (even dinner), or gradually back to our more typical (cooked) plant-based diet with slightly more focus on raw than before.

Whichever way it ends up, we’re having a lot of fun right now. Once we got over the “it’s weird to eat 3 mangoes for lunch, or make a smoothie out of 7 bananas and some water” thing, my wife and I started really looking forward to these simple “mono meals” (eating just one food until you’re full). And after three weeks of eating this way, we really feel great.

It’s way too early to say whether this diet works for us or not, but you’ll get a sense for my excitement in this new episode of the podcast.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The Woodstock Fruit Festival
  • Transitioning from cooked to raw fruitarian
  • Typical meals on the 80/10/10 diet
  • “Mono” meals — why eating just one food at a time might make sense
  • Why you often feel great a few weeks after changing your diet (no matter which type of diet)
  • Concerns about eating this way
  • Fruitarian before 4: the struggles and the rewards

Click the button below to listen now:

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How to Do the Impossible, with Joel Runyon

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After graduating from college, Joel Runyon couldn’t get a job. Not at Starbucks, not at Caribou Coffee, not at Target. He also wasn’t an athlete, and had never run a 5K.

Just five years later, he’s actually spoken at the headquarters of Target, one of the very companies that wouldn’t hire him. He’s spoken at TEDx, done a half Ironman, run an ultramarathon, raised $25,000 to build a school in Guatemala, and traveled the world. Joel now doesn’t need a job, because he makes a living documenting his perpetual quest to do the impossible and helping tens of thousands of readers to the same.

And it all started with a list. Not a bucket list, but an Impossible List.

Next on the list: run 7 ultras on 7 different continents (ending with the Leadville 100) to raise money to build 7 schools. All in the next year.

Joel has been a friend of mine for about as long as I’ve written No Meat Athlete, and it was a pleasure to have him share his knowledge and inspiration for doing the impossible on this episode of NMA Radio.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • How Joel went from unemployed and living in his parents’ basement to doing the impossible
  • How an “Impossible” list differs from a “Bucket” list
  • The 777 Project: 7 ultramarathons on 7 continents to build 7 schools
  • Breaking through self-imposed limits to do the impossible
  • How running helps build the “do the impossible” muscle
  • Joel’s tips for going from non-runner to multiple ultramarathons in just 5 years

Click the button below to listen now:

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7 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat as Well as You Do

Note from Matt: I’m at the Woodstock Fruit Festival, eating nothing but raw fruit and vegetables for a week and doing all sorts of fun stuff, from high ropes and lake swimming to listening to talks by Mike Arnstein, Tim Van Orden, and Dr. Doug Graham (I’m actually listening to him give a food prep demo right this minute).

It’s been a great experience, not just for me and my wife but for our kids, who at ages 4 and 1 are getting the chance to try all kinds of exotic fruits like lychee, durian, longans, and dragon fruit.

In that spirit, I invited my friend Sid Garza-Hillman to write a guest post about raising healthy kids. Why Sid? Because of this (those are his twins).

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Meal Planning Tips for the Busy Athlete, with YumUniverse’s Heather Crosby

Heather Crosby, creator of YumUniverse and author of the upcoming book by the same name, knows a thing or two about creating a healthy lifestyle.

At first glance, YumUniverse is beautiful and artsy and obviously focused on healthy, plant-based, gluten-free, whole food. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that Heather has the same fascination with habit-change that I do, and she incorporates those critical concepts into her recommendations for meal planning or getting started with a plant-based diet.

Heather was our guest expert in the No Meat Athlete Academy last month, and today I’ve got a 20-minute clip from our seminar to share with you. It’s packed with Heather’s brilliant tips for simplifying your entire process around food — from planning to shopping to getting it on the table — without ever sacrificing health for convenience (down to the soaking of the nuts and seeds and cooking beans from scratch).

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