A Look at No Meat Athlete — Oklahoma City

nma-okc

No Meat Athlete OKC, in front of the Flaming Lips’ Museum

If our first two running group successes, Miami and Virginia Beach, have been surprises, our third is a complete shocker. Oklahoma City … that’s beef country, isn’t it?

But continuing on the theme of our other successful groups, the lack of vegan options and activities nearby makes for strong, tight bonds among NMA OKC’s members.

In fact, the first time I met some of them wasn’t in Oklahoma City but at the Marshall Healthfest in Texas, to which three members (Gina, Jon, and Kaitlyn) had driven together — for six hours each way.

The point was driven home when I visited the group in Oklahoma earlier this year and several members told me things like, “Before this group, I had never met another vegan in person.” Or, “I hang out with my NMA friends more than I do my other friends now.”

Pretty crazy! Let’s see what makes NMA Oklahoma City work.

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Strong Leadership, Committed Members

Several of our other running group leaders have been frustrated by the difficulty of getting more than a few members to show up for runs when they see other groups getting 20 to 30 people for their biggest events. Here’s the thing, though: OKC doesn’t get huge numbers either, but makes it work nonetheless.

So how do they do it?

Gina Stone, the leader of the OKC group, says:

I had no idea what to expect when I scheduled the first run in October. Honestly, I was fully prepared to run by myself that first day. As it turned out, five people and one puppy showed up!

We’ve continued to meet every Sunday since then. Although we have about 137 members in the Facebook group, participation for our runs is small, ranging from about one to ten runners each week. But the bond we have with one another and the commitment of our regulars is strong.

It was so easy for us to connect each Sunday because we were just thrilled to finally have a conversation that didn’t involve us defending our protein intake. We have an amazing group of people who probably would not have ever come together had it not been for the NMA running group.

While the turnout varies each week, a few members form a rock-solid core that’s consistently showing up for runs and other group events. Another group of more casual members rotates in and out.

And it seems like it’s been that way since the beginning:

Even though I’m the one that creates the event on Facebook and “shouts” directions as we meander through downtown each week, this group would not be what it is without the initial enthusiasm, support, and participation from Kris, Jonathan, Nelly, and Emily. As the group grows, we continue to acquire new, committed “regulars” who add layer upon layer of awesomeness to the runs and the veg scene in our city.

It’s the people that make this group rock, no doubt. There is no better feeling than blazing through the odious Oklahoma weather every week with a mighty tribe of paradigm-busting, compassionate, inspiring athletes.

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Like Clockwork

Every week I scan through the photos that our running groups post in their Facebook groups, and early on, OKC stood out. It wasn’t that they had huge numbers, just that every single week, a few people turned out. One low-turnout run didn’t mean the end of the group; they’d just have fun and show up again the next week.

Same time. Same place. Every week. In Gina’s words:

Our group is consistent, welcoming, diverse, and reliable. We meet at the same time, relatively same spot, run the same course, and encourage all levels of ability and plant-based eating to join us. In a place like Oklahoma, it is easy to be a vegan freak, but it’s even easier to latch on to those individuals who share your unique beliefs and lifestyle.

What Makes It Work

In a nutshell, it’s:

  • Consistency. Even though the turnout has never been huge, the group can count on a run every week. Same time, same place.
  • Friendships. Some members also go to other running groups together, and the Facebook page really took off with lively conversation, including an ongoing argument about the merits of grapefruit.
  • The common bond in a place where vegans are few.
  • A few members who are really committed, forming a very strong core.

I had no idea what a blast I’d have visiting this group in Oklahoma City. I’ve harped on the closeness of the friendships a lot here already, but it took actually hanging out with them for a weekend to fully understand how powerful a factor this is.

The day I arrived, we had delicious almond milk cappuccino at Elemental Coffee, then pizza and beers while we waited out a tornado warning. The next day it was hot yoga and a visit to Mim’s Bakery, a vegan food truck run by Emily, a member of the group. And of course, the obligatory stop at the Flaming Lips’ museum for the official photo during our run, before enjoying one more meal out at one of just a few vegan-friendly spots in town.

As unlikely as it might seem in the heart of beef country, this group made being a vegan in OKC for a weekend a blast. Limited in options, sure, but amazing people to share the journey with — people who “get” you and want to see and be a part of real change for their city.

If any one factor is the reason for their success, that’s it.

A Few More Photos of NMA OKC

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Haven’t run with your city’s NMA group yet? Check out our full listing and get on it! And if it doesn’t exist in your city yet, why not be the one to start it?

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Frustrated with Your Inability to Change? How a Simple Shift in Focus Can Make All the Difference

Imagine that a change you want to make is a thousand-pound boulder you’ve got to move.

You push with all your weight against it, and it doesn’t budge. Not an inch.

So you take a break, and try again.

It still doesn’t move. Try again; same result.

Eventually, you realize the boulder is not going to move, and you give up, feeling defeated and powerless.

Until you remember what Archimedes said: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

It turns out that focusing on the lever, not the boulder, makes all the difference when it comes to making a real change in your life. But how exactly do you make this shift?

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The Ridiculously Simple Way to Peel a Mango (With a Pint Glass!)

(Click here to watch the video on YouTube.)

First, proper credit. While I would love to have invented this trick, I didn’t: I learned it from a Crazy Russian Hacker video.

To call this trick “life-changing” might be a stretch, but it’s not far off. I bet I ate 100 mangoes last August after I learned it. For real. (It helped that I was on a fruitarian kick, sometimes eating three or four mangoes for lunch.)

I’ve shown this trick for peeling mangoes to anyone who will watch, and I’m continually shocked by the number of people — even vegans, fruit people, etc. — who don’t know it. Maybe I get more excited about mangoes than most, but still: if this one were common knowledge, I truly believe there would be no wars.

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Sleep Matters: 7 Ideas for Doing It Better

bedding sheets and pillow sleep bedThis post is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute, the third in a series of six I’m doing in partnership with them this year.

Back when I was in college, I used to hear the joke that of good grades, sleep, and a social life, you could have whichever two you chose … but only two.

Replace “good grades” with a job, and you’ve got a pretty accurate description of the real, grown-up world, for most people. And when “social life” now includes mostly non-negotiable activities like spending time with your kids, exercising, and taking the time to prepare healthy food for yourself and your family, skimping on those eight hours of sleep we’re supposed to get each night starts to become a pretty attractive option.

It’s not news that as a culture, we’re sleep deprived. Starbucks wouldn’t be a $15-billion/year company if we all woke up smiling and chipper every morning. (Check out this week’s issue of Brian Clark’s Further, my favorite weekly email digest about “health, wealth and wisdom,” for loads of compelling reasons to get your z’s.)

And if you’re an athlete …

… then sleep matters even more. In his ultrarunning talk from the Woodstock Fruit Festival (starting around the 18:00 mark), Michael Arnstein says that how much sleep he gets the night before a 100-miler is one of the most important factors in how he’ll perform — he even goes as far as to wear a blindfold, earplugs, and a hat to bed; sleep in isolation; and several days before the race, start hitting the sack in the early evening so that he’ll get used to the early bedtime and be able to log eight to ten hours before waking up at 4am on race day.

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The Step-by-Step Guide to Finally Making a Plant-Based Diet Last

farm fresh vegetablesThis is a guest post by Luke Jones, a plant-based blogger at Health Room.

I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a few years now, and that change was the catalyst for a whole load of other positive changes in my life which have made me a healthier, happier human being.

Eating this way is now second nature, but it didn’t come easy at first. More than once, I nearly gave in to temptations and went back to my old habits.

I’m not alone in this regard: adopting a plant-based diet and making it last is easier said than done.

If you don’t currently eat a plant-based diet, it’s likely you’ve tried in the past, only to fall short and end up back where you started, feeling like you’ll never have the willpower to bring about lasting changes.

In that case, I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret. Here it is:

Changing your diet and maintaining it isn’t about willpower. Instead, it’s about taking the right approach.

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Check in from the Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise!

Sadly, today is our last full day on the weeklong Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise.

And while that’s a shame, I’ll be leaving with a distinctly different feeling than I’ve ever had at the end of other cruises I’ve been on — namely, a renewed sense of enthusiasm for this diet and lifestyle.

Oh, I’ve been motivated to eat and live better by cruises in the past — but that motivation is always of the rock-bottom, “I can’t believe I ate and drank that much” variety. This time, it’s an inspired, enlightened motivation, owing to dozens of talks and classes from amazing lineup of speakers, and a menu much lower in oil than what we usually eat at home. Not to mention being surrounded by 1800 other people as passionate about all of this as I am.

Don’t get me wrong; we’ve done plenty of “normal” cruise stuff this week too. The massages (hot stones!), the beaches, the pina coladas, the gambling, the devouring of all five courses at dinner when three would have done just fine.

But all that has been balanced by the packed schedule of health content on the ship: my wife and I have attended talks by T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Michael Greger, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Robert Cheeke, and Chef AJ, to name just a very few. We’ve gone to yoga, pilates, meditation, and Qi Gong classes most every day, and still found time to relax and just be.

And none of this is to speak of what we’ve done off the boat — finding an off-the-beaten-path vegan Rastafarian restaurant in Jamaica that served just one dish, relaxing at a beach in the Cayman Islands with water so clear you could see your feet at any depth, and renting scooters in Cozumel to go to another secluded beach. Today, we’re in the Bahamas, and tomorrow we’ll round out the trip with the NMA Miami running group for a few meals and a run before heading back to Asheville.

And when I get back, I’ll have some changes to make. New books to read. Blog posts to write. Podcasts to record. And lots of thinking to do. This cruise has been exactly the refresher I needed, and I hope I succeed in capturing some of that here over the next few weeks.

Longer recap coming when I get back!

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The Frictionless Kitchen: 19 Ways to Lessen Your Resistance to Healthy Eating this Year

As I wrote in my last post, good eating habits aren’t about willpower. Willpower runs out.

Instead, if you want your healthy lifestyle to last, the secret is to remove the friction. Friction?

The time required to plan, shop for, and prepare your meals. The cost. Or simply that you just don’t like the way the food you should eat tastes — at least, compared to what you’re used to eating.

Earlier this week I examined a shopping trip and explained how each purchase helps my family eat healthily, without having to rely on willpower. It seems like a lot of people found that helpful, so today I’m taking it a step further — 19 tricks, rules, and tips we rely on to minimize the friction in the kitchen. Here goes.

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How to Put Healthy Eating on Autopilot this Year

This post is the introduction to a series of six posts (one per week) that I’m doing in partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin to start the year. As compensation, I received Whole Foods gift cards and a Garmin vívofit, both of which I’m using to create the content for this series.

(I’ve also got a $100 Whole Foods gift card and another Garmin vívofit to giveaway to a few lucky readers. I’ll include the details for entering in a later post.)

Over the past year or two, I’ve thought a lot about how we’re eating when we’re doing it “right,” versus the odd week — or sometimes, month — now and then when we get off track. Mainly, I mean those times when life with two young kids gets busy and we fall out of the smoothie routine, skip the big salad each day, and order takeout way more than we should.

And what I’ve determined is that it’s never a matter of willpower. Instead, it’s entirely about preparation.

To kick off the year, I thought it would make for a fun post if I did a big Whole Foods trip with the express purpose of buying those staples that make such a big difference in which version of our diet shows up — the foods that essentially put healthy eating on autopilot for us.

So that’s what I did last night, and below I’ll explain how we use each food to grease the wheels in our kitchen.

First, here’s the haul:

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I bought two or three of a lot of the things shown here — the point, after all, was to stock up — but couldn’t fit them all in the photo.

And here’s how each food makes healthy vegan eating (at least, the Frazier household version of it) easy. Unless otherwise noted, almost all of these foods are Whole Foods brand. And they’re mostly organic, but not always.

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