On Turning Pro — One Year Later

What a year.

On January 4th, 2013, I wrote a post called On Turning Pro, about my plans to overcome debilitating anxiety by “growing up and turning pro” in just about every area of my life.

I was not in a good place, coming off the most worried and powerless six months I had ever experienced. But the new year had brought me the first glimmer of light at the end of that dark tunnel, and in this post I wrote about my plans to navigate the rest of the way out.

Here’s the last paragraph:

January 1st has passed. Another year of your life is gone. And before you know it, this one will be over too. My challenge to you — before another day goes by — is to find the place where you need to grow up and turn pro. And then do it.

I hope you’ll join me.

Fast forward 10 months from when I wrote that post …

It’s October 30th and I’m in San Francisco, sharing a stage at Samovar Tea Lounge with Jesse Jacobs, the owner and founder of Samovar, and Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits and one of my personal heroes.

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My ‘Eat to Live’ Challenge

eattoliveFive years ago, a 10-day challenge led to my eventual decision to go vegetarian (and to start this blog).

A few years later a 30-day vegan challenge, which I completed successfully, actually taught me that I wasn’t ready to go vegan yet. But when I was ready six months later, that month-long experiment was probably to thank.

Why should we do uncomfortable challenges like these, with food or anything else? For me, the answer is clear: you might just discover something you love, when you learn that actually doing the thing is easier than worrying about how tough it surely must be.

But even if your experiment doesn’t lead you to change your life, a challenge around something so near-and-dear as food will almost certainly teach you something about yourself.

And so …

My Latest Challenge

For several years I’ve long been intrigued by the “don’t eat extracted oils” philosophy. Because if I’m honest, oil isn’t a whole food, and I’m fond of saying that I eat whole foods.

I also knew that I ate a lot of salt, woke up every day with an urge for a small, strong cup of coffee, and enjoyed a single (usually strong) beer almost every night.

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Crazy Goals, Running, and the Plant-Based Diet: A Live Recording of My Book Tour Talk

Podcast Radio2What else is there to say? The book tour is done (today is the final event), I’ve written what there is to write about the adventure, and I’m pretty well stoked for the next chapter for No Meat Athlete.

2014 holds some major changes for NMA, the biggest in the five years since I started this little blog. While there’s a lot I can’t unveil quite yet, I can tell you that one change, for me, is a big shift in what I personally do. A shift away from the roles of managing, emailing, accounting, and more emailing, and a return to the simple job of making things — blog posts, podcasts, ebooks, webinars, and a lot more that Doug, Susan, and I have in mind for the next year and beyond.

And what has brought about the desire to make that change is, of course, the experience of the past two months … meeting literally thousands of readers from all across the country, listening to their stories of change, and being inspired to focus again on the things that really matter for this blog. And for this movement.

So in this final post about the tour — and trust me, it’s been amazing but it’s with great pleasure that I move on — I’m pleased to share a live recording from our event at Bearded Brothers in Austin, Texas. You’ll hear me and co-author Matt Ruscigno give what became our standard talks, so that you can get a small taste of what the events were like, in case you couldn’t make it out to one.

Hope you enjoy it — and even better, I hope you use it.

Here’s what to expect in this episode:

  • The best parts of the book tour
  • Matt Ruscigno’s talk at Bearded Brothers in Austin, TX
  • My talk at Bearded Brothers in Austin, TX
  • The “easy” trick for becoming comfortable with what scares you
  • How Doug actually took my advice and put it into action
  • Doug’s plans for his 100-miler
  • The importance of “burning desire” when it comes to habit change

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Make December Your Best Month

With Thanksgiving  finished — and I hope you had a great one — we move into what for my entire life has been my favorite season of all.

No, not the “Black Friday through Cyber Monday” shopping season. Not even just Christmas. But instead, the entire final month of the year, as we head towards a brand spanking new one.

Why December is My Favorite Month of the Year

It’s only since I’ve been an adult that I’ve come to realize that New Year’s Eve and Day are my favorite days of the year. But, considering the total geek for goal-setting I’ve grown into, this isn’t surprising at all.

While I used to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s reflecting on the past year and putting plans in place for the next, I’ve in recent years expanded those behaviors and that mindset to stretch through the entire month of December.

To me, it seems natural, primal, and in tune with nature — take time during the cold, barren months of winter to plan, so that when it comes time for massive action in the spring and throughout the summer, you’re ready.

Sure beats overeating and getting loopy at holiday parties (though I won’t say I never do those …).

Having treated the past few winters this way, it seems a habit has been formed, and now when the chill enters the air, a sense of possibility is what comes to mind.

If you’re into New Year’s “resolutions” — and I’ll of course remind you that January 1 is arbitrary and that the “clean slate of a new year” effect is almost meaningless — I do believe you dramatically increase your chances of success by using December as a month to get a head start on those resolutions. If not by action, then at least by serious planning and anticipation, so that when the calendar changes, it brings with it a feeling of importance rather than the sense that this resolution will meet the same, silent end so many others have.

So that’s why I love this time of year. And while I’m not saying you need to go into a special goal-setting cave or shun the occasional overindulgence of the holidays (I watch almost no TV throughout the year, then suddenly become a fiend for awful ABC Family movies like Holiday in Handcuffs), I encourage you to start thinking about your goals and the changes you’d like to make now, instead of waiting until the afternoon of December 31st to start thinking about how next year will be different.

And so with that, in hallowed Black Friday tradition …

Special Deals to Get You Jump-Started

Here’s what we at No Meat Athlete have for this weekend, through Cyber Monday — aimed at helping you get a head start (or just a boost of extra inspiration) on whatever big changes lie ahead for you in 2014:

book bundle1. Book/ebook combo packs at over 35% off — a signed copy of the new No Meat Athlete print book + either the Marathon Roadmap or Triathlon Roadmap, priced at over 35% off the combined total regular prices. And as a bonus, you’ll get access to the special goal-setting workshop described below.

2. Exclusive goal-setting workshop when you buy 3 copies of No Meat Athlete: To encourage you to gift the new No Meat Athlete book this holiday season, just buy 3 copies of the No Meat Athlete book (from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooksIndiebound, your local store … anywhere EXCEPT the No Meat Athlete store) and you’ll get access to a special live webinar at the end of December, where I’ll walk you through the goal-setting process I use each year to tackle big, “unrealistic” goals — plus answer any questions you have (about anything at all). Just forward me a copy of your receipt (matt@nomeatathlete.com) and I’ll give you the details!

(And by the way, ebooks work too — the NMA book is available as an ebook, on Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. Amazon even has a special program called Matchbook that allows you to get the Kindle version for $2.99 if you’ve bought the print version!)

3. 25% off everything in the No Meat Athlete store. Shirts, magnets, stickers, ebooks, and even signed copies of the No Meat Athlete print book.

Have a great weekend! And amidst all the shopping, if that’s your thing, take just a few minutes and start to think about what you’d like to change and what you might accomplish next year if you’d let yourself believe that you could … and go into 2014 with engines fired up and raring to go, rather than playing catch up from the very start.

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40 Cities, 50 Days: My U.S. Book Tour Recap

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The 3-foot tall poster my wife and kids used to keep track of me. :)

Just like an ultramarathon, it was both exhilarating and exhausting. There were times when I looked at how far I had left to go before I could sleep again in my own bed, and — feeling completely overwhelmed — I did what dozens of ultras and marathons have taught me to do.

Focus on the next step. And then the next. And then the next.

And, just like that, I went from city to city for a month and a half. Instead of aid stations, they were hotel rooms. Instead of long hikes up hills, they were 8- and 12-hour drives. And instead of downhills, the fun parts that ended too quickly were the events themselves, where I met hundreds and hundreds of No Meat Athletes and felt anything but alone.

I’ve been back home with my wife and kids for two weeks now. I’ll hit the road next week for two more events nearby (Raleigh and Charlotte, NC), but it sure feels like I’m done. And like every ultra I’ve finished, while I’m glad to be done, I’m especially glad to have done it.

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5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality

iStock 000020646047XSmallWith the book tour just about wrapped up, it’s great to be sitting at my own desk in my own house writing a blog post again.

The tour has been amazing. So many roads, people, stories, hotels and cities, and so many delicious meals (especially once I hit the west coast). There are still a few events left, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and my hometown of Asheville this Thursday, but these and the remaining dates in Raleigh and Atlanta (maybe) are short drives away. The hard part — all 11,000 miles of it in my Hyundai Elantra — is over. The goal, achieved.

Yes, this self-supported book tour was like any other goal. It started as a speck of an idea that hit me on a run one day, a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Then the day of intense, excited research to answer the “Is this possible?” question — knowing that no matter what the facts were, I’d somehow bend them into the shape of “Yes.” Finally, going public with it and creating the accountability. At which point it became real … then the rest was just details.

I’ve got plans for a book tour wrap-up post with photos, links, stories, maybe even a recording of my talk … but this is not that post.

My talk each night focused on three topics: running, the plant-based diet, and setting big freaking scary goals. Far more than the other two topics, the ones I thought were a safe bet, it was the talk of goals that people really cared about.

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No Meat Athlete Radio: ‘Approaching the Natural’ with Author Sid Garza-Hillman

Podcast Radio2Last week — after the most beautiful drive of my life along the Pacific coast from southern Oregon to Mendocino, California — I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, an (all-vegan!) eco-resort.

I was only there for one night — 18 hours in total — but in that short time I had two amazing vegan meals at the resort’s Ravens Restaurant, a fire in my room’s fireplace, and a view of the Pacific Ocean from my balcony (sliiightly different accommodations from the roadside motels I’ve been staying in for most of the rest of the book tour).

It was all arranged by Sid Garza-Hillman, director of the Stanford Inn’s wellness center and author of the fantastic book Approaching the Natural. And someone I’m happy to call a friend after hanging out for a few days in Oakland and San Francisco, where Sid joined me in speaking at two of my tour events.

But the truth is that Sid and I became fast friends long before we met in person — our approaches to health and the active, plant-based lifestyle are so similar in their simplicity and affinity for small steps over big leaps, that it was only natural that we’d connect.

All of this, of course, is a long way of introducing a new podcast episode that Sid and I did together. We lit a fire at the Stanford Inn, sat down without any plan, and talked for an hour (or so) about health, what’s “natural” for human beings as a species, and why “approaching” that ideal — slowly and one step at a time — is the best strategy for sustainable health. We recorded it to use on both of our podcasts (check out Sid’s here).

Hope you enjoy it!

PS — As the tour enters its second month, the most common question I’ve gotten has become, “How’s the tour going?” The short answer is that it has been both incredible and incredibly hectic. The fact that it took me a week and a half just to get this episode published should give you an idea … so ignore our asking you to “come out to our San Francisco event,” unless you’ve got a time machine.

Here’s what Sid and I talk about in this episode:

  • Moving past the diet paradigm
  • Making gradual improvements in diet and fitness
  • Balancing technology in your day-to-day life
  • Finding the best calorie source
  • Does eating healthy make you happy?
  • Honesty and eating habits
  • Viewing mileage differently
  • The importance of creativity for a healthy life

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Vegan on the Road: How I’ve Eaten Healthier than Ever While Driving Across the Country

It took three weeks and 5500 miles, but yesterday, I hit the unofficial halfway point of my book tour – Seattle, Washington.

Fun place, by the way, with tons of vegan-friendly restaurants. And as I head down the west coast and back across the southern half of the country, I’m looking forward to more food options than I’ve had so far.

And believe me, when you’ve spent most of the past week driving long, barren stretches through states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Nebraska, you appreciate options.

To be honest, I’ve never found eating vegan while traveling all that difficult. But the constraints of the past three weeks — owing to the fact that I’m in a car — have made it more challenging. The three big ones:

  • I’m in a new hotel every single night, always without a kitchen and often with no fridge or microwave.
  • The car is packed so tightly that there’s no room for a cooler.
  • I’m without my beloved Blendtec — I left it for my wife and kids — or any blender, for that matter.

Finally, this is all on a budget — I’d go broke if I ate out at restaurants for all or even most of my meals. Selling books has helped to offset some costs of hotels, gas, and food, but this tour is a labor of love, not something that’s financially profitable by any means. So I’ve really got to keep an eye on my food cost.

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