Want to Change Your Habits? Change This One First

This post is the fourth in a series of six I’m doing in partnership with the Cherry Marketing Institute. As always, opinions and wacky ideas are my own.

If there was one habit you could do that would keep you on track with all the rest of your habits, what would it be?

I wrote about this idea a few years ago, when for me this habit was reading — filling my brain with positive, inspiring ideas each morning kept me excited about improving lots of areas in my life.

But people change. We go through seasons in our lives. And when it comes to my most important habit, I’ve changed my tune.

My friend and accountability partner, Jeff Sanders, was recently asked about his “anchor” habit on Mindful Creator podcast. His answer: energy. From the moment he wakes up, drinking a liter of water first thing in the morning, Jeff focuses on maximizing his energy levels, so that he stays motivated and capable of being the person he needs to be for his business and life.

As I heard this, I realized that — perhaps due to my association with Jeff — energy has become my anchor habit, too.

The Energy Focus

We often read about how willpower is overrated, how it’s depletable like a muscle and is only one part of the habit-change equation.

But let’s not ignore it entirely: willpower is a part of habit change, and it’s a big one. And sleep, stress, and nutrition — all of which clearly influence our energy levels — profoundly affect our ability to stick it out when we want nothing more than to quit.

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The Real Value of Commitment (and a New One I’m Making to You)

Pins on calendar

There used to be a quote on a Starbucks cup that started out, “The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating.”

I always liked it and knew that somehow I could relate it to my running, but I didn’t quite understand how. Finally, I do.

This quote has a sister idea, which says that with constraints — take an artist’s committing to napkin-art, for example — comes the freedom to create. In this case, freedom from the tyranny of the blank white page.

Ever since I finished my 100-miler in 2013, I’ve been an aimless runner. It’s been pretty nice: I’ve loved the freedom to run when only I want to, unburdened by a training plan to specify mileage or pace. And I’ve done a decent job staying consistent.

But recently I signed up for my first race since then: the Richmond Marathon, mid-November, six months from now. I chose a training plan (or rather, I stitched together two of them), and I started training.

Since then, I’ve had to run what the plan says, when the plan says.

It was a hard transition at first. I mean, come on, run when I don’t feel like it?

But now, four weeks in, I fully appreciate the value of commitment to a plan. It’s not just that it ramps you up to the race distance. It’s that it forces you to stretch.

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Running on Plants in the Magic City: An Up-close Look at No Meat Athlete Miami

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Members of the fabulous No Meat Athlete Miami group

When last fall we kicked off the No Meat Athlete running groups project, with 75 groups around the U.S. and world, I thought I knew pretty well which groups would thrive and which would have an uphill battle from the beginning.

Surely, I thought, the big, vegan-friendly cities that we all think of as such would provide the most fertile grounds for our running carrots to take root.

Turns out, I was completely wrong.

Eight months after starting, the running groups project has been a huge success, and for me personally, as fulfilling as anything I’ve done with No Meat Athlete. But in a million years I’d never have guessed who our most active groups would turn out to be.

In no particular order: Miami, Virginia Beach, Oklahoma City, and Sydney (that’s right, Australia!).

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My Top 5 Favorite Guilty Pleasure Foods, Drinks, and Habits

This post is sponsored by Omission. All words, opinions, and lack of willpower are my own.

About six weeks ago, my wife and I stopped cooking with oil at home. I don’t go out of my way to avoid it when I’m traveling or just out to eat — just another example of the “small steps” approach to change I’ve used ever since I first started thinking about going vegetarian, about seven years ago.

I can see how this latest twist might appear overly restrictive. Trust me — not that long ago, it looked that way to me, too.

But like every other step on this journey, eating oil-free is one of those things that, over time and after several brief experiments, started to seem more and more workable. And which, so far, has been incredibly easy (except when it comes to popcorn, which is no longer what they call “good”).

But this post isn’t about restriction. In fact, it’s about the opposite.

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Rich Roll on the High-Energy, Plantpower Diet (Plus, Win a Copy of His New Book!)


In just a few short years since he gave up cheeseburgers and decided to train for a triathlon, Rich Roll has gotten his name on the short list of people you mention when somebody asks if a plant-based diet can work for athletes.

It started with his surprising finish at Ultraman, essentially a double Ironman over the course of three days in Hawaii.

Then it was being named one of the 25 Fittest Guys in the World by Men’s Fitness, and in 2012, sharing his story in his first book, Finding Ultra. 

Recently, it’s been spreading the message with his uplifting and thought-provoking podcast, and traveling the world giving talks about his story and the power of a plant-based lifestyle.

Today Rich’s new cookbook, The Plantpower Way, hits the shelves, and it’s my immense privilege to bring you a new interview, recipe, and giveaway from one of the most recognizable people in plant-based fitness.

The NMA Academy Seminar with Rich Roll

Just after we ran the 5K at the Marshall Healthfest last month, Rich and I sat down to record an hour-long, in-depth seminar for the No Meat Athlete Academy. Although these seminars are typically private for our members, I’m excited to make Part 1 of that interview available here, in celebration of the release of The Plantpower Way and the one-year anniversary of the NMA Academy:

In this portion, we focus on diet and Rich’s new book. In Part 2 of the interview, which you can get when you subscribe for free to NMA Radio on iTunes, we dive into Rich’s low-intensity training philosophy, his approach to mindfulness, and his now-famous advice that you should quit lifehacking and instead invest in the journey.

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How to Eat for Maximum Energy (and Where to Find the Time to Do It)

academy-aniversaryIt’s been just over a year since we launched the No Meat Athlete Academy, where each month we dive into a new plant-based fitness, nutrition, or lifestyle topic — often with the help of a guest expert.

In that time we’ve accumulated almost 16 hours of audio seminar content, plus another 20 hours of live Q&A recordings, all of it available forever inside the Academy.

To celebrate the Academy’s birthday — and, okay okay, to whet your appetite in anticipation of a relaunch we’ll be doing soon — today I’m excited to share some clips from a few of my favorite seminars we’ve done over the course of the past year.

(Most recently, we welcomed plant-based superstar Rich Roll as our guest for an hour-long seminar and a followup Q&A. I’ve got some clips from that seminar coming soon, or you can get them now by subscribing to No Meat Athlete Radio on iTunes.)

We put these clips in the form of two NMA Radio episodes, each clocking in at 42 minutes. You can stream them right from the blog, or if you prefer, download them to your device.

Players and links are below — enjoy these interviews!

Episode 1: The Optimal Diet for Health and Energy?

In the first episode, you’ll hear in-depth clips from two of our early guests.

First, elite ultrarunner Michael Arnstein shares his enthusiasm for a diet based almost entirely on raw fruits and vegetables. A fruitarian diet sounds extreme, no doubt, but it’s hard not to be excited when you hear Mike talk about the dramatic improvements to his running he experienced when he switched from a cooked vegan diet to his current raw one.

(And before you write off an 80/10/10 diet — 80 carbohydrate, 10 percent fat, 10 percent protein — as pure craziness, you might be surprised to learn that in his most recent book, Whole, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the famed China Study, recommends exactly this ratio, though not completely raw.)

But let’s face it: most people aren’t going to eat this way, and many would argue that in the long term, a certain amount of cooked food (and more fat than 10 percent of calories) is both protective against disease and more realistic than a fully raw one. And that’s the focus of the next clip, with Sid Garza-Hillman, author and nutritionist at The Stanford Inn: a high-raw, whole-food diet that still includes plenty of cooked food and a little more wiggle room.

You can check out the clips from both Mike and Sid’s interviews in the first episode, called The Optimal Diet for Health and Energy, here:

Or download the episode here (you may need to right click and “Save link as”).

Episode 2: How to Create All the Time You Need

Understanding what to eat is one thing, but making it work in the real world is quite another.

In this second episode you’ll hear advice from Jeff Sanders, host of the popular 5AM Miracle podcast (and who happens also to be my weekly accountability partner), and Heather Crosby, author of Yum Universe, on building habits to create the time you need in order to make health a priority.

With Jeff, I discuss his “5AM Miracle” system for waking early (even if not at that ungodly hour) and blocking off time in your day that’s just for you — to work on something that brings you joy and energy, whether it’s running, cooking, or something entirely unrelated.

With Heather, we focus more specifically on food, diving into some time-saving kitchen tips and a general approach to kitchen management that will help you make healthy food a priority.

Click the button below to listen to these sections of my interviews with Jeff and Heather in this episode, called How to Create All the Time You Need:

Or download the episode here (you may need to right click and “Save link as”).

There’s more to come …

If this is the first you’ve listened to No Meat Athlete Radio and you like what you hear, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes. As you’ll hear just about every podcast host say (over and over), ratings and reviews on iTunes are extremely helpful in getting our show heard by new people, so please do me a favor and leave one while you’re there. Thanks!

And in a few days, I’ll be back with a sneak peek at our seminar with Rich Roll! Until then …



What Supplements Do Vegan Athletes Need?

Everyone, it seems, wants to know about supplements. After almost every talk I’ve given, someone in the Q&A has asked, “What supplements do you take?”

After my talk at the Marshall Healthfest last month, someone asked it.

Earlier that morning, in the athlete panel I did with Omowale Adewale, Rich Roll, Christy Morgan, and Ellen Jaffe Jones (in the photo below), someone had asked it.

And when we did a Q&A with Rich earlier this week inside the NMA Academy (reopening soon, stay tuned!), someone asked it there, too.

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The vegan athlete panel at Marshall Healthfest 2015.

The Answer?

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Discover the Secrets of the Tarahumara: Stream the New Film GOSHEN in Its Entirety, This Week Only

It was six years ago that Chris McDougall sparked a revolution in running with Born to Run, the book that made seemingly everyone want to run an ultramarathon, do it barefoot, and eat pinole and chia seeds all the while. (Or was that just me?)

These behaviors, of course, are those of the Tarahumara, an indigenous Mexican tribe of incredible endurance runners whose way of life has been largely preserved by the geography of the Copper Canyon region.

That way of life, including the extreme lack of modern diseases that plague most developed cultures, is the subject of the new film GOSHEN: Places of Refuge for the Running People. And for the rest of the week, I’m thrilled to be able to offer it for streaming in its entirety here at No Meat Athlete. (April 11th is when the free streaming ends, so watch it before then!)

[Update: Since the free-streaming period has ended, I’ve replaced the embedded video with the trailer for GOSHEN.]


One message that Born to Run didn’t quite hammer home is that the Tarahumara eat a diet that is largely plant-based, with only small amounts of meat punctuating traditional meals of las tres hermanas, beans, corn, and squash.

And as we all know, it’s not just the Tarahumara who exemplify that when it comes to fitness, this diet works: as Chris McDougall says in GOSHEN, “When you start to look at super-performing endurance athletes throughout history, more often than not they’re vegetarians.”

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