No Meat Athlete http://www.nomeatathlete.com Plant-Based Diet for Fitness | Vegan Recipes & Nutrition | Vegan Fitness & Running Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:59:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 No Willpower, No Problem! 9 Ideas to Help You Beat Food Cravings http://www.nomeatathlete.com/stop-cravings/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/stop-cravings/#respond Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:57:43 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=26010 There’s no sadder form of failure, to me, than giving into food cravings. Imagine you want to change your diet. Deep down, this feels right for you, right now. You do your research, and decide that it’s not only healthy, but ideal, to eat this way. You do the work to get your spouse on

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There’s no sadder form of failure, to me, than giving into food cravings.

Imagine you want to change your diet. Deep down, this feels right for you, right now.

You do your research, and decide that it’s not only healthy, but ideal, to eat this way.

You do the work to get your spouse on board. They’re little hesitant, but supportive. Up for giving it a try, for you.

All the pieces are in place, and so you begin.

It all goes perfectly, until one day you hit a snag: you get out of work late, your car breaks down, you have an argument with a friend.

And visions of cheeseburgers start dancing in your head.

You’re not going to eat it, are you?

Any sane, rational person just ignores the urge, right? I mean, there are so many good and well-thought-out reasons to stay on the path!

And yet, so many times I hear that this is how it ends. You pull over on the way home from work, eat the cheeseburger, and it’s curtains for your diet change.

Whaaat?!?! You wanted the cheeseburger so badly that you threw away all that good stuff you had going? Just so your mouth could be happy for 10 minutes before you felt disgusting for the next half hour? No!!!!

But alas, I get it. Cravings are powerful things. And if you’re not prepared to deal with them, it’s quite possible they’ll get the best of you. So if you’re in the midst of a transition to a plant-based diet, or just trying to take your diet to the next level, here are nine suggestions to help you when the inevitable temptation arises.

1. Remember that your taste buds will eventually change.

Talk to anyone who has made a plant-based diet (or even just a whole-food diet) last, and they’ll tell you that your taste buds absolutely do change. It takes time, but it’s real.

Eventually, raw vegetables become flavorful. Certain fruits, amazing. It’s hard to imagine if you’re not there now, but it happens.

And on the flip side, all those flavor-packed snacks that are loaded with salt, sugar, and oil — and especially artificially flavored varieties — lose their seductive power.

So if you’re thinking that the choice to eat healthy means fighting this battle for the rest of your life, think again.

2. Have a finish line.

The day you stop having cravings is one finish line, but it’s also one that’s really far off.

So what do you do?

Make up your own finish line: Treat your diet change as a “challenge.” Make it last just 7 or 10 days, or if you’re brave and have some support, go for a full month.

The point is that with a finish line in sight, in moments of temptation you won’t be fighting against I can’t eat this now, and I never eat this again. Nobody’s going to win that one.

If instead it’s, “I can’t eat this now, but in just four more days I’ll have completed my challenge, and then I can do whatever I want,” you’re way better off.

And when you reach that finish line? Then decide whether you want to extend it another 10 or 30 days. And if, not from a place of craving but in a well-fed, relaxed, and balance state of mind, you decide you’re just not up for more, then that’s cool. You did what you said you would, you gave it a shot, and at least you know what it feels like.

Chalk this up as a win, and I bet you’ll be back in the future when you’re ready.

3. Take the smallest steps you can.

You’ve heard me repeat this advice dozens of times now, but it’s just as important for beating cravings as it is for habit changes overall.

If you change everything, all at once, then of course the cravings will strike. And hard. And when they do, you’ll have nothing to fall back on, because you gave up everything all at once.

And in that moment, your new habit is extremely vulnerable.

But if you take those small steps, you can …

4. Eat something else — even junk — that will keep you on track.

Back when I was a brand new vegetarian, I missed buffalo chicken wings. When I was out with friends watching a basketball game and they all had wings, of course I wanted wings, too.

Instead, I ordered a plate of fries and smothered them in hot sauce.

Terrible for you. Borderline gross. Stomach ache afterward.

But that plate of grease, salt, cayenne and vinegar kept me on track. It satisfied the taste buds that were screaming for fried, tangy, and spicy, in a way that I could live with.

Sometimes, especially during a transition, the choice to do something unhealthy for the moment can keep you on the path that leads to health for years.

Another example: fake meats. Sure, they’re junk food, but if in the early days they keep you from second-guessing your decision to eat this way, then they’re more than worth it.

5. Know your reasons.

Particularly when transitioning a plant-based diet, motivation is your secret weapon.

If it’s just for health reasons, maybe there’s some passion there. But chances are, you’re also in this for the animals or the environment. And those ethical motivators tend to be far more powerful than the ones that just involve your own personal health.

So connect. Watch the documentaries, read the books. Figure out your reasons.

And if health is it for you? Then at least try to link it to others — does it mean being able to play with your grandkids on the floor when you’re 60? Seeing them get married? These will likely be more powerful than something that’s just for you.

Whatever it is, find out what really drives you, and do whatever it takes to amplify it.

6. Move!

My wife, Erin, recently lost a bunch of weight. And during the process, when she was hungry, the first thing she would do wasn’t eat.

Instead, she’d go for a run. Or a walk. Or to the gym. Or to pilates class.

It wasn’t to burn extra calories (although that’s a nice perk). Rather, it was that she discovered that often when she thought she was hungry, it was really just emotional.

Exercising changed her body chemistry and took her mind off the food she was craving. When she got back home, she was in a better position to make a healthy choice.

Will it work for you? It’s worth a try — and worst case, you get a workout in.

7. Remember: “If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth.”

Surely you’ve heard the favorite checkout-line fitness magazine piece of advice: Don’t shop for groceries on an empty stomach.

Well, this is Chef AJ‘s corollary that speaks directly to those with food cravings.

Let’s face it, temptation and cravings are going to arise. If chocolate ice cream is sitting in your freezer and you start to thinking about it, there’s no unthinking about it. It’ll sits there all night, taunting you, gnawing at you … all rich and creamy and chocolate and yummy.

But if that same chocolate ice cream is five miles away in the grocery store? Most nights after dinner when the craving strikes, you’re not going to feel like going to get it. You’ll make the (sometimes tough) choice not to have it, and more easily move on.

8. Keep better choices within reach.

On a similar note, keep the healthy stuff nearby.

This means in your house, of course. But it also means in your car, for those days when you get stuck at work and the fast food restaurants are calling your name on the drive home. It doesn’t have to be a full dinner that you keep in the glove box, just something to satisfy you for a few minutes and help you make a good choice.

Or how about a jar of peanut butter in your desk at work? An energy bar in your gym bag?

Be ready for everything you can imagine.

9. Track what you eat.

I’m no fan of tracking your food, long-term, as part of your lifestyle. And for those with eating disorder histories, it might be best steer clear of this particular tip.

But otherwise, when you’re trying to change a habit, a small reward after each success helps to reinforce the behavior in your brain.

So what are you supposed to do when it’s your entire diet that you’re trying to change? (Certainly, a food reward would defeat the purpose.)

Answer: Write it down, right after you eat. Keep a Google spreadsheet or an Evernote document, and ideally, have others look in on it for extra accountability. Or even better, use an app like Two Grand, where you take pictures of everything you eat and upload them to a social media platform.

This helps you in a few ways. In addition to letting you feel the “win” when you eat the way you want to, it installs an opportunity for important negative feedback: now when you consider indulging the craving, the knowledge that you’ll need to write it down and report it might be all it takes to help you make the choice that you really want to make.

The cravings are going to happen. The question is, will you be ready?

Other than possibly the small steps approach, nothing here is going to prevent the cravings from happening. But all these ideas can all help you deal with them when they show up.

The thing is, you’ve gotta be ready. You have to take what steps that you can in advance, so that when temptation strikes, you’ll be prepared.

And if you’ve already messed up, remember that it’s not about being perfect. You can regroup, restart, and most importantly, review what went wrong before and figure out what you’ll do this time to be ready for that situation.

In this way, you change. Not all at once, and not on the first try … but eventually, you change.

Have faith, don’t give up, and you can’t help but find your way there.

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NMA Radio: Our 100th Episode: A Look Back and Forward http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-100/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-100/#respond Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:23:07 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25997 Can you believe it? A hundred episodes! We’ve come a long way with No Meat Athlete Radio over the past few years, and with two new episodes every week for the past few months, it’s safe to say we’ve finally hit our stride. To celebrate, in this episode co-host Doug and I take a behind-the-scenes

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Birthday candles number one hundred isolated on white background

Can you believe it? A hundred episodes! We’ve come a long way with No Meat Athlete Radio over the past few years, and with two new episodes every week for the past few months, it’s safe to say we’ve finally hit our stride.

To celebrate, in this episode co-host Doug and I take a behind-the-scenes look at the show. We talk about where we’ve struggled and what we’ve done well, the lessons we’ve learned from hosting a podcast for this long, and the new ideas and changes (and even the possibility of a live event!) that we’ve got planned for the next year.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration without asking for a gift, right? If you’d like to help us out and shape the next year of NMA Radio content, we’d really appreciate it if you’d share your thoughts in this quick listener survey.

To the next 100!

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Why we almost quit the podcast last year
  • Life on the other side of “the dip”
  • The top 5 episodes in NMA Radio history
  • What’s coming in the next year (including a live event?)

Click the button below to listen now:

Or:

If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Phone number to ask listener questions:

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Why I Pushed ‘Too Far’ (and Will Never Regret It) http://www.nomeatathlete.com/go-too-far/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/go-too-far/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:40:37 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25954 This post is written by Doug Hay of Rock Creek Runner. Have you ever had one of those conversations that just sticks with you? Where someone makes a comment you can’t let go? It happened to me last summer, the day after I ran a 50-mile ultramarathon. I was sitting in my 93-year-old grandmother’s house telling her

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No U-Turn traffic sign in Bangkok, Thailand

This post is written by Doug Hay of Rock Creek Runner.

Have you ever had one of those conversations that just sticks with you? Where someone makes a comment you can’t let go?

It happened to me last summer, the day after I ran a 50-mile ultramarathon. I was sitting in my 93-year-old grandmother’s house telling her about the race, and I’ll never forget her reaction.

It wasn’t one of joy or amazement.

It was sadness.

Not sadness about the race itself — I’m sure she was proud of my accomplishment — but sadness about what I was doing.

She looked right at me and said, “I’m just so worried you’re taking it too far and will regret this one day.”

That’s not something you want to hear from your grandmother after a big race. Especially when it was only a training race for the main event: a 100-miler just a month later.

But that’s the way most people look at ultrarunning, or endurance running in general. They respond to your long run miles with:

“Aren’t you taking this a little too far?”

“You know that’s bad for you, right?”

“What’s wrong with you, man?”

Beware the Status Quo

As a society, we overwhelmingly stick to the status quo. It’s more comfortable when your actions don’t stand out as abnormal. No one questions your decisions, no one labels you an outcast.

It’s why we follow fashion trends, and why we all know at least a few Tay Swift songs.

This symmetry is all well and good until it starts to hold you back …

Without breaking free of societal norms, The Beatles would have never released their first album, or started growing their hair long. Albert Einstein would have never developed the theory of general relativity. And Matt Frazier would have never started this blog.

Yes, I just lumped Matt in with The Beatles and Einstein. You’re welcome, buddy.

When we’re too scared to do something that sets us apart, we resist growth and progress, and instead fall for the great moderation hoax … that everything is better in moderation.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you already know this.

By simply eliminating meat or animal products from your diet, you’ve broken the norm, and have to live with both the benefits and consequences.

So congratulations, you’re an outcast! And a better person because of it.

But are Social Norms Really Meant to Be Broken?

On the flip side, norms are set in place for a reason. Most often because they work. They keep us healthy, safe, and functioning as a society.

So should we always be pushing the boundaries? Probably not. Instead, there are good times and bad times to push.

Placing your entire retirement savings on a single risky bet? That’s bad.

Standing up for something you know to be right? That’s good.

See the difference?

When to Take It ‘Too Far’

Unfortunately things aren’t always as black or white as the two examples above, and you have to ask yourself if that goal or change is really worth it. Oftentimes the answer is yes.

When you need to prove something — either to others or yourself — it’s worth it.

There are times when you need to push boundaries in order to prove that something can be done. Take these, for example:

All examples of doing something big in the face of doubters, and learning, growing, and inspiring others in return.

When you need a reset, it’s worth it.

Sometimes the only way to get back on track is by first going to the extreme. You see people doing this all the time through things like juice cleanses, extended breaks from TV, or an alcohol detox.

They’re giving the body or mind a break in an attempt to push the ol’ reset button.

When finding your new normal, it’s worth it.

Around the same time I was chatting with my grandmother, Matt was traveling home from the Woodstock Fruit Festival. When I saw him a week later, he was still eating almost entirely raw fruits and vegetables, and felt completely reinvigorated about his diet.

I’m not going to lie, for me the Fruitarian diet is a bit out there, and even Matt isn’t convinced it’s good for the long term.

But it was just what he needed at the time. Even though he has moved on from only eating raw fruit today, that experience has shaped the sustainable habits that now make up his normal.

Sometimes it requires exploring new boundaries in order to know what works best for you.

And when there’s no other option, it’s worth it.

In some situations, breaking the norm and taking things to the perceived extreme will feel like your only option. For many vegans, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We’ve seen history made, and can credit many advances in our society to someone putting their foot down and declaring that enough is enough. That the alternative — the norm — would no longer work for them.

Is it Time for You to Take Something to the Extreme?

You could sit around your whole life waiting for a guarantee. You could hold yourself back and never follow your dreams, just because of how it might look to others, or fear of what could happen.

But I say it’s time to go out on a limb, take a risk, and do something so wild, it makes a statement and shatters the social norm.

Quit prancing around whatever goal you have and do something big. You could:

  • Get serious about running and commit to a marathon, triathlon, or ultramarathon
  • Ignore the critics and proudly make your art
  • Finally take those steps to go vegan
  • Quit the job you hate and follow your passion
  • Sell off everything but 100 necessary items
  • Move to the city of your dreams, even if it’s halfway around the world
  • Write that book you’ve had in your head for years

… or scratch whatever epic itch you just can’t seem to ignore. And remember, just because you try it out, nobody’s saying you have to do it forever.

What My Grandmother Will Never Understand

That conversation with my grandmother has stuck with me because I know that in some ways she is right. The distance may take its toll, and one day I may regret pushing my body so hard.

But what I know that she may never understand, is that without 100-mile goals or epic trail runs, I wouldn’t be motivated to run at all, and I wouldn’t have the fulfilling life I’m privileged to live.

I know that because I took a chance and signed up for that ultramarathon. Because I did something extreme, something at which I might have failed.

What might feel like “too far” to her, is just what I need.

Are you ready to take a chance and defy the norm?

About the Author: When it comes to running, Doug Hay is all about defying the norm. Join in on the madness through his free eBook, Why Every Runner Should Be a Trail Runner, or follow him on his blog, Rock Creek Runner.

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NMA Radio: All About Supplements! http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-99/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-99/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:39:16 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25982 It seems to me that when it comes to supplements, most vegans fall into one of two camps: The “Eh, I’m probably getting everything I need from my food” camp, or The “Ahh! I need supplements and lots of them!” camp. Until recently I was completely devoted to Camp 1 — supplements were the last

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ep99

It seems to me that when it comes to supplements, most vegans fall into one of two camps:

  1. The “Eh, I’m probably getting everything I need from my food” camp, or
  2. The “Ahh! I need supplements and lots of them!” camp.

Until recently I was completely devoted to Camp 1 — supplements were the last thing on my mind. And as much as he might not like to admit it, I think Matt started out in Camp 2.

Over time, and after blood tests, we’ve both shifted our views to reflect a more moderate approach to supplements for plant-based athletes. We both take a few, find them to be useful in some situations, perhaps even necessary in others.

In today’s episode, it’s all about the supplements. What we take, which we recommend, and which can be avoided through a whole foods diet.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Do vegan athletes need to supplement their protein?
  • Getting to the bottom of B12
  • Why vitamin D is such an issue
  • The problem with over-supplementation

Click the button below to listen now:

Or:

If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Phone number to ask listener questions:

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7 Warning Signs Your Vegan Diet Won’t Last http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-fail/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-fail/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 14:35:16 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25952 You’re trying hard … but it’s getting harder. Something compelled you to adopt a vegan diet — your health, the animals, the environment — and you dove in enthusiastically, sure that it would always feel this easy. “This is the new me!” you thought to yourself, as you pictured health, energy, compassion, and a sense

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You’re trying hard … but it’s getting harder.

Something compelled you to adopt a vegan diet — your health, the animals, the environment — and you dove in enthusiastically, sure that it would always feel this easy.

“This is the new me!” you thought to yourself, as you pictured health, energy, compassion, and a sense of oneness with the earth.

And for the first few days, maybe even a couple of weeks, it was interesting and new and fun.

But the novelty wore off — maybe it was a family gathering or an awkward conversation with friends — and now you’re wondering …

Is this really for me?

Before You Answer, Consider This

Changing the way you eat is like changing any other habit. Except it’s even tougher.

Your relationship with food is personal. Changing what you eat means feeling new emotions, some of them not so pleasant at first.

It’s also physical. Change what goes into your body, and you’re going to feel it. Hopefully for the better, eventually.

But at first? Look out. (Note: That’s actually not supposed to be a bathroom reference, but make of it what you will.)

And finally, crucially, food is social. And in case you grew up on a different planet, vegan is pretty far from what most people consider normal.

So to change what you eat means changing a lot more than just that.

If you’re new to this diet and you’re starting to feel the friction, you’re not alone. Here are seven of the most common signs that you’re headed for a crash, and what to do to prevent it:

1. You find yourself thinking, “Can I really never eat a cheeseburger / pork BBQ sandwich / buffalo wing again?”

In the moment when you’re craving a food you used to love, your focus needs to be on now, not forever. You can find something to satisfy you now, but if you’re fighting against forever, you’re not going to win.

If you find yourself thinking this way, change the game. Make it a 10-day or 30-day challenge, so that there’s a finish line. And when you get there, then decide if you want to keep going.

It’s way easier to tell yourself, “I can’t eat the cheeseburger now, but all I need to do is make it another week,” than it is to think about giving it up forever. And when that week is over, hopefully you’ll be in a better state to decide than when that Wendy’s commercial was all you could think about.

2. You’re relying on willpower when cravings hit.

Willpower is your friend, but only for so long. We hear over and over that it’s just like a muscle — lean on it too hard, too many times, and eventually it’ll fail.

Instead, you need to make your new diet a habit, one that’s automatic and doesn’t take much effort. And the way to get there is with small wins, repeated daily. So rather than going vegan all the way, all at once, get there gradually instead. Take a few weeks or even a few months to progressively more and more of the foods you don’t want to eat from your diet.

(And a bonus tip about cravings: Yes, fake meats and cheeses are junk food. But if eating a little junk food in the early days is what it takes to stay on a path that will eventually redefine your health, isn’t it worth it?)

3. You’ve started to dread going out to eat.

The experience of going out to eat (at a regular, non-vegan restaurant) changes once you go vegan, but it doesn’t have to be awkward or stressful.

The key is to change your expectations. Eat a little something ahead of time, or plan to do so afterwards. Then, in the worst case when all you can get is salad and bread or a few side dishes, it’s not so bad. Hey, you don’t feel stuffed, you get to know you ate healthily, and it didn’t cost as much!

And don’t forget that what’s listed on the menu may not be your only option. If you’re polite about it (i.e., not militant or demanding), most restaurant chefs are happy to make something vegan for you, even if it’s just some sautéed veggies. And once you’ve learned to feel grateful for even that, you’re there.

4. You don’t really know why you’re doing it.

Look, nobody’s saying it doesn’t take some effort to be vegan. But when your reasons are strong enough, the feeling of struggle melts away.

Get in touch with why you are doing this. Animals? The environment? Your health?

Whichever one (or ones) it is, strengthen it. Watch the documentaries. Read the books. Get some resolve.

5. You resent that you have to cook multiple meals for your family now.

If you’re the cook in your family, and they’re not on board with the new diet, I have some advice you may not enjoy hearing.

You have to suck it up. 

It’s not fair to expect them to change, just because you have. The best thing you can do, if you really do want your family to eat like you do, is be an example. Let them see how you survive — or even thrive — on the food you’re eating. (And check out books like The Flexitarian Diet, which will help you keep everyone happy.)

Over time, you’ll be able to get away with replacing the butter with olive oil, and increasing the size of the salad and vegetable portions. One day, maybe they’ll even be cool with Meatless Monday, and you can go from there.

Just like with your personal change, it takes small steps and a lot of time. But it’s worth it.

6. You expect to be catered to.

It’d be nice if everybody felt the way you do about food, but they don’t.

One approach is to fight to change that, to be as loud, visible, and demanding about your choices as you can. The other approach, the one I like better, is to slowly change the world’s perception of what it means to be vegan.

Offer to bring your own dish (and enough to share!) to the party or the dinner — and make it a good one. Be open, honest, and humble with your friends and relatives. Invite them to your place … but make it fun, not weird (hint: lay off the sprouts for this one).

As normal as vegan seems to us, this is bizarre to most people. The more you can acknowledge that yes, it does make the shared meals a little bit tricky, and then go the extra mile (rather than expecting them to meet you even halfway), the more you do for your relationships and for this movement.

7. You’ve started listening to your co-workers (who have mysteriously become nutrition experts).

Of all the tips and tricks out there for changing habits, there’s one factor that all of them depend on: belief.

You have to believe two things if you want to succeed: what you’re doing is healthy, and you can make this work. And sometimes, when the rest of the world is telling you the opposite, that’s hard.

Rich Roll says that even after his first strong finish at Ultraman (essentially a double Ironman triathlon), there was a little piece of his brain that continued to ask if this diet could really work, especially for athletes. Our cultural conditioning is so strong that this is going to happen, almost no matter what.

But you can drown out that voice.

You can listen to podcasts like Rich’s. Read books like Scott Jurek’s. Watch Dr. Greger’s videos at NutritionFacts.org. Read The China Study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Diseaseor my personal favorite, Super Immunity.

I’m not saying you should cover your ears and block out the warnings from well-meaning friends and co-workers, and especially not your doctor. What I’m saying is you should equip yourself with information on the other side, and make an educated choice about what’s right for you.

The Bottom Line

If you think about it, every one of these warning signs is simply a symptom of one of two broader problems. Either:

  1. You feel alone, or
  2. You took on too much, too fast.

The good news is that both can be fixed.

If you feel alone, it’s up to you to find your tribe — trust me, we’re out here. The internet has made it so easy, and if you’re reading this post, you’re getting warmer.

Is there a No Meat Athlete group in your area? A vegan meetup? Even if you’re geographically isolated, you can still make deep connections with like-minded people online. Find a blogger or podcaster who really gets it, and gets you. Leave comments and interact. Maybe even start your own.

If instead you took on too much too fast, no problem. Stick with it for as long as you can, and if it fails, resort to Plan B, the gradual, smaller-steps approach to change.

It’s not always easy, especially at first. But it’s worth it.

Be passionate, but be patient.

Find your tribe.

Embrace your weird.

Eventually, you’ll find the way that works for you.

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NMA Radio: Staple Foods in the Vegan Athlete’s Pantry http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-98/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-98/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:00:49 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25929 Today it’s all about the staples: for a new vegan, it’s easy to find cookbooks and recipes that guide you through dinners, but what about a simple bowl of cereal, toast, or cup of tea? With an increasingly large number of vegan substitutes available, it can feel like an overwhelming task to choose the healthiest

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glass jars with spices

Today it’s all about the staples: for a new vegan, it’s easy to find cookbooks and recipes that guide you through dinners, but what about a simple bowl of cereal, toast, or cup of tea?

With an increasingly large number of vegan substitutes available, it can feel like an overwhelming task to choose the healthiest ones. Not to mention making sure your favorite bread or pasta is actually 100% plant-based.

Inspired by a listener question, co-host Doug and I dig deep into our pantries and refrigerators to discuss the most common staples you’ll find in our vegan kitchens.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Milk substitutes — what are the differences?
  • Eliminating the need for butter
  • Cooking with different oils (or none at all)
  • The spice dilemma
  • The nuts, seeds, and flours we keep in stock

Click the button below to listen now:

Or:

If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Phone number to ask listener questions:

 

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The Secret to Fulfillment: Untangle Your Happiness from Your Results http://www.nomeatathlete.com/untangled/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/untangled/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:30:17 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25933 By now you know I’m a big advocate of setting crazy, unreasonable goals. Big goals are how you generate the energy and excitement to actually make things happen. And for this reason, I believe you’re way more likely to achieve the “unrealistic” goal (that inspires you to no end) than you are the one that’s more modest (and therefore,

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By now you know I’m a big advocate of setting crazy, unreasonable goals.

Big goals are how you generate the energy and excitement to actually make things happen. And for this reason, I believe you’re way more likely to achieve the “unrealistic” goal (that inspires you to no end) than you are the one that’s more modest (and therefore, not that exciting).

But a lot of people get stressed out when I talk this way.

Unrealistic? That means I’ll be chasing this goal that I might never get. And even if I do one day make it happen, it’s going to take a really long time and a whole lot of work.

I’m not mocking. Even those who have created massive change in their lives, people I really respect, sometimes question whether goals are a good idea at all.

After all, if your happiness depends on achieving goals, then you might not be happy in the meantime. And because the finish line is usually illusory — as soon as you reach a goal, you set your sights on a new one — there’s no point at which you can finally stop, take a breath, and enjoy.

Is Life a Journey, or a Destination?

I’ve struggled with this for a while. On one hand, there’s nothing better than that moment when your heart skips a beat at the realization that, yes, you’re going to make this crazy thing happen, no matter what it takes.

On the other, I understand how easy it is to forget to just be. To enjoy what is, to be grateful, to love — and to be fully present in the moment, completely detached from what might or might not happen in the future.

So what’s the answer? Happiness now, or a vision for later?

I believe you can have both. More than that, I think if you want to want to be truly fulfilled, then you need to have both.

And here’s how you can have it all.

How to Be Happy While You Chase Your Goals

The solution, I think, is something Vishen Lakhiani calls flow. You’re working hard to the make your compelling vision for the future into something real, but it’s not stressful. Instead, it keeps you focused, mindful, present.

It makes you happy, now.

This is an attractive solution, no doubt. And I think most of us can remember a time when we were in this state of flow. When the work we were doing — training for a marathon, building a business, losing a bunch of weight — was so exciting that even though it was hard, there was a certain ease in it.

When you’re in flow, the goal brings you joy even before it’s accomplished. That joy in turn helps you to make progress on the goal, which leads to more joy, which leads to more progress, and so on and so on.

It’s easier said than done, of course. Most of the time, most of us don’t feel this way about our work, our training, or our weight. Most of the time, it’s stressful.

So how to we get that positive feedback loop started?

We do it by being happy, just because. Lessening the stress we feel every day. Fostering joy in our lives. And all in a way that doesn’t depend on progress towards our goals.

Sounds like a tall order, but thankfully, we have ways to do just that.

Meditation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Mindfulness. Physical activity. Healthy food. Simple daily habits that clearly make us happy, independent of what else goes on in our lives. The external stuff still affects us, but these habits raise our happiness set point, so that how happy we feel fluctuates around a new and higher default level.

The formula, then:

First, find a way to weave these habits into the fabric of your life. The morning is probably the best time to do them, before your day has had a chance to take on a life of its own and before ego-depletion has set in.

A meditation practice (or maybe Vishen’s Six-Phase Meditation, which I’ve been doing recently) will help you with a bunch of the above habits, and you’ll find plenty on this blog to help you with the eating well and exercising bit.

With all of this, you create a foundation of happiness. Through your daily practices, you become content, regardless of whether or not you achieve your goals.

But this doesn’t mean you don’t have goals. Your vision for the future, and your work towards its realization, is a huge source of fulfillment. And because your happiness doesn’t depend on its achievement, the goal doesn’t stress you out and rob you of joy in the present.

In short: your happiness and your results become untangled.

You have goals — massive, compelling, inspiring goals — but you’re not stressed about them. You’re happy with the simplest of things, because you’ve trained yourself to see all that’s good in your life. And that sense of happiness and ease, in turn, allows you to be effective in your work to achieve your vision.

This is flow. Happiness plus vision.

If there’s a secret to fulfillment, this is as close as we’ve gotten to finding it.

PS. Join the 30-Day Go Vegan Challenge

In case you missed my “Go Vegan the Smart Way” webinar earlier this week, check out the 30-Day Go Vegan Challenge, a program I’ll be doing for the next four weeks where I’ll work closely with a bunch of NMA readers who want to make transition to a plant-based diet together (and make it last). It starts Sunday, so check it out before then!

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NMA Radio: The Most Important Daily Habits http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-97/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/radio-97/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25905 The easiest things to do are also the easiest things to not do.  — Jim Rohn When most of us wake up each morning, we’re immediately faced with the perpetual list of to-dos. The whirlwind. Those urgent activities that demand your time: take the kids to school, answer emails, make phone calls, drive to work …

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Young female meditate in nature.Close-up image.

The easiest things to do are also the easiest things to not do.  — Jim Rohn

When most of us wake up each morning, we’re immediately faced with the perpetual list of to-dos. The whirlwind. Those urgent activities that demand your time: take the kids to school, answer emails, make phone calls, drive to work …

The problem is that often, we get so caught up in the urgent that we neglect the important.

What’s the difference? While the urgent activities need to be handled now, the important activities aren’t screaming to be done this minute. Nothing blows up if you don’t do them.

But the important hold tremendous power to shape our days positively. These are the habits that lead to physical and mental health. Happiness. Gratitude. Energy.

The crazy part? Most important habits take just a few minutes to complete, but still get brushed aside. Easy to do, but so easy to not do.

In today’s episode, Doug and I discuss our most important daily habits, why we fight so hard to keep them, and how you can establish beneficial habits of your own to start honoring the important.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Why the morning is the best time for most habits
  • The one habit Matt values the most
  • Daily writing and brain dumps
  • Gentle movements as a way to fight aging
  • The power of visualization
  • Urgent versus important
  • How to establish your own important habits

Click the button below to listen now:

Or:

If you’re a fan of NMA Radio (and you like all these new episodes we’re making!), we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Thank you!

Phone number to ask listener questions:

Links from the show:

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Want to Go Vegan? A 30-Day Plan to Make the Transition (and Make It Last) http://www.nomeatathlete.com/go-vegan-steps/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/go-vegan-steps/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 19:18:54 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25892 Of all the changes I’ve made in my life over the past six years, none has had such a profoundly positive effect as the choice to become vegan. This diet and lifestyle have changed me from the outside in: I expected the health benefits and to feel a boost in energy, and I got them. But I had

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Young Woman Buying Vegetables at Grocery

Of all the changes I’ve made in my life over the past six years, none has had such a profoundly positive effect as the choice to become vegan.

This diet and lifestyle have changed me from the outside in: I expected the health benefits and to feel a boost in energy, and I got them. But I had no idea how the choice to put different foods into my body would improve my mindset, deepen my sense of compassion, and increase my willingness to take risks and march to the beat of my own drum. And if you’re vegan or even vegetarian, I bet you’ve experienced the same.

And if you’re not yet vegan? The very fact that you read a blog like this one makes it likely that you at least know where I’m coming from. Maybe you’d even like to become vegan, but have never quite been able to make it work.

In that case, let’s talk about what it takes to make the change — and just as importantly, to make it last.

The short version: I’m hosting a free live webinar this Wednesday night, August 19th, at 8pm EDT to answer that question in detail. In it, I’ll lay out a plan for you to make the transition to a vegan diet in the smartest way possible over the course of 30 days, and answer the most common questions about making it work. If you’re interested in going vegan, I hope you can make it.

So here are the three things I believe give you the biggest chance of succeeding in this diet change (assuming you’ve got your own compelling reasons for wanting to do so):

First, a push to go for it.

You can have every good intention to go vegan one day, but it takes a “Ready, Set, Go!” to actually put forth the effort to make it happen.

Second, it takes a plan.

Sure, you can technically “go vegan” overnight — just throw away all your animal products, right? But you can probably guess how long that usually lasts: without the intermediate steps that give you a chance to become familiar with a new type of cooking, and practice ordering from progressively smaller sections of a restaurant menu, most well-intentioned attempts (including my first) to go vegetarian or vegan fail after just a few days.

Finally, to maximize your chances of making the change last, you should know what obstacles to expect and be ready to handle them.

From awkward social situations to unfamiliar ingredients to concerns about protein, iron, and vitamin B12, unexpected pitfalls are responsible for more than their share of “I tried to go vegan for a little while but it didn’t work out.”

The thing is, none of this has to be hard. I’ve spent the last few years obsessing over the most effective ways to change habits, and I believe that going vegan and thriving in this lifestyle can be just as easy for most people as it has been for me.

But it’s a matter of being intentional, not haphazard. Planning and transitioning gradually, not just diving in because you’re excited and can’t wait. (Sure, that approach might work for a few, but I’ve just seen too many people fail that way to believe it’s best way to change anything.)

If you’re serious about going vegan or even just a little bit curious — no matter where you’re starting — then I want to share that with you.

On Wednesday, August 19th at 8pm EDT, I’ll be doing a free live webinar about how to go vegan. Over the course of an hour, I’ll lay out a specific plan to make the transition over 30 days, starting next week.

And in addition to the plan and a habit-change framework that will do everything possible to ensure your success, I’ll prepare you to handle the most common causes of giving up, like:

– Nutrition concerns about protein, vitamin B12, athlete-specific diets
– Eating out at restaurants
– How to handle social situations and talk about your diet

Sound like fun? Sign up for the webinar here, and I’ll see you Wednesday night at 8pm EDT.

Two quick and final notes:

1. Preaching has never been my thing, and I’m not here to pressure you into a diet change. If you’re happy dabbling in a plant-based diet and being veg-curious — and many readers of this blog are exactly that — it really is totally cool with me. Of course I’d love for people to go all the way; that’s a huge motivator for me in keeping this website going. But I also appreciate that anything is better than nothing, and I’m happy that you’re happy where you are.

2. The webinar is completely free and I’ll fill the hour with as much information as I can pack in. But I don’t want to surprise you: at the end I’ll tell you about an opportunity to work more closely with me and others who want to take part in a 30-day challenge together, and that next level will have an enrollment fee. I really think it’s a great offer and I’m excited to share it.

See you then!

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2 New Tart Cherry Drinks for Optimal Workout Nutrition http://www.nomeatathlete.com/tart-cherry-workout-drinks/ http://www.nomeatathlete.com/tart-cherry-workout-drinks/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 17:18:00 +0000 http://www.nomeatathlete.com/?p=25864 For the final post in this ambassador series with the Cherry Marketing Institute, I set out to solve a problem in deciding how best to incorporate tart cherries into my diet. What problem, you ask? Well, we know that tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce recovery time and inflammation in athletes, as well as

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tart-cherry-2

For the final post in this ambassador series with the Cherry Marketing Institute, I set out to solve a problem in deciding how best to incorporate tart cherries into my diet.

What problem, you ask?

Well, we know that tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce recovery time and inflammation in athletes, as well as help with sleep (which itself plays a big part in athletic recovery, of course).

But the apparent downside is that, like with typical fruit juices, most of the calories in tart cherry juice come from sugar. How can you get the benefits of tart cherries without adding too much sugar to your diet?

Turns out there’s an easy solution for athletes: drink tart cherry juice at the one time during the day when lots of sugar is precisely what your body needs. And this time, of course, is around workouts.

But how do we do it most effectively?

Carbohydrate-to-protein ratio: the number that matters before and after workouts

Before and after workouts are two times when people are less sure about what they should be eating to maximize performance and recovery, and tart cherry juice certainly fits into both.

To make tart cherry juice an ideal choice, though, we need to incorporate it into drinks that meet the commonly accepted carbohydrate-to-protein ratios for maximum performance and recovery:

  • Before a workout, a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein
  • Immediately after a workout, a ratio between 4:1 and 5:1 of carbohydrates to protein

It’s useful to know where we’re starting, so how does tart cherry juice measure up on its own? Well, an ounce of tart cherry concentrate contains about 17 grams of carbohydrate (14 of them from sugar) and 1 gram of protein. So clearly we need to add some protein to make either a pre- and post-workout drink ideal.

The best way to add protein

The easiest way to add protein (in a way that we can control) would be to use an isolate, so that when you add protein, you’re not also adding carbohydrate and fat. But for a lot of reasons, this is unhealthy, so I don’t use or recommend protein isolates on any sort of regular basis. (More about why in this podcast episode.)

Hemp protein powder is not an isolate and is only slightly processed, hence the natural green color and earthy taste. So it works, but I hoped not to use it because the taste didn’t strike me as one that would complement the flavor of cherry juice.

In the end, I settled on three options for adding protein to tart cherry juice:

  1. Soy milk: it’s much higher in protein than nut milks
  2. Chia seeds: they add some carbohydrate and healthy fat, but as a whole food source
  3. Hemp protein powder: a last resort because of the flavor and grittiness, but not an unhealthy one

Other than using a quality protein source and making sure the flavor and texture were tolerable, my only concern was simplicity: a drink that’s a big ordeal to make is one that nobody’s going to drink.

So after all that and a lot of testing, here’s what I came up with.

Pre- and Post-Workout Drinks with Tart Cherry Juice

Pre-Workout Tart Cherry Drink

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) tart cherry concentrate
7 ounces unsweetened soymilk

Mix together in a glass and drink. No need for a blender!

One recipe makes 8 ounces of pre-workout drink with approximately 20 grams of carbohydrate, 7 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of fat (roughly 140 calories). The carbohydrate-to-protein ratio is very close to 3:1, so if you want more or fewer total calories before your workout, you can simply scale the ingredient amounts.

This pre-workout drink actually tastes really good as is, but to spice it up a bit you could use vanilla soy milk (still unsweetened) or add 1/8 ounce of pure cacao, either melted or blended with the other ingredients in a high-speed blender.

And if you’re not a fan of soy? First, read this. If you’re still not convinced it’s safe, then the only real option is a powder like hemp protein, a protein isolate (again, not recommended), or spirulina.

For the anti-soy crowd, here’s a soy-free recipe that gets you close to 3:1, using hemp protein powder.

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) tart cherry concentrate
7 ounces almond milk
3 tablespoons hemp protein powder

Mix the ingredients in a blender to dissolve as much of the protein powder as possible.

Optionally, you could omit the almond milk and use tart cherry juice instead of concentrate, but the amount of carbohydrate per eight ounces of juice will vary depending on the brand you use.

This one doesn’t taste as good as the first, but provides roughly 30 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fat, so it just about hits the 3:1 ratio. 214 total calories.

And for after your workout …

Post-Workout Tart Cherry Drink

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) tart cherry concentrate
7 ounces almond milk
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds

Blend all ingredients in a blender.

Notes: I like to grind the chia seeds first, but if you don’t mind the whole seeds, you don’t need to. Either way it will gel quickly, so you’ll want to make this one just before you plan to drink it.

As for nutrition, this particular post-workout drink provides approximately 27 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams protein, 11 grams fat. It’s 231 calories total, so adjust the quantity as needed.

This gets our carb-to-protein ratio to 4.5:1, which is right where we want to be for optimal post-workout nutrition.

Which one should you use?

Most of the research demonstrating the recovery benefits of tart cherry juice is based on subjects who drink one ounce of concentrate (or 8 ounces of juice) twice per day, so you can use both of these drinks around the same workout to get exactly that amount.

And although we’ve said that tart cherry juice is known for its recovery benefits, that doesn’t mean it can’t help you at other times. In fact, some ultrarunners (like Scott Jurek) drink it for the anti-inflammatory properties during workouts and races. If I run another 100-miler, I’ll definitely make use of tart cherry juice during the race as an alternative to ibuprofen, but for more typical days, a “precovery” ritual of drinking tart cherry juice beforehand suffices. This helps you get the anti-inflammatory benefits during the workout while priming your body for recovery afterward.

So there you have it: two (technically three) workout drinks with tart cherries, and the end of this sponsored series of posts about tart cherries. Thanks to the Cherry Marketing Institute for supporting No Meat Athlete and our mission, and as always, thank you for reading (and making this all possible)!

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