The Only Healthy Eating Guide You’ll Ever Need

My friend Brian came to me recently with a problem:

“Matt,” he said, “the other day I decided I was going to start eating healthy and get myself in shape. But then when I got to the grocery store, I realized I had no idea where to even start!”

This post is for Brian and anyone else in that same boat.  If you don’t know where to start, start here.

The most important (incredibly simple) rule of healthy eating

A lot of seemingly “extreme” diets work.  But just when you’re tempted to buy into one, you hear about a diet that’s extreme on the other side of the spectrum that also works.

The Paleo diet (and its close relative, Primal) focuses on high-protein, high fat, and lower carbohydrates.  And it’s become huge among athletes, most notably the CrossFit crowd.

But then there’s fruitarianism (also known as “30 bananas a day“), which is 80 percent carbohydrates. And Michael Arnstein, the most visible leader of the movement, just won the Vermont 100-miler.

And of course, there’s “plain old” veganism, which today I’ll call “plant-based,” to remove any moral or ethical connotation. Ultramarathon great Scott Jurek eats what appears to be a pretty traditionally-balanced vegan diet. Then there’s Brendan Brazier, Thrive author and former pro Ironman triathlete, who also eats plant-based, but focuses more on raw and alkaline-forming foods.

How can such wildly differing diets all produce healthy people, elite athletes even?

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The Simple Art of Meditating While You Run

I mentioned last week that I had been dealing with a little bit of runner’s block.  And when you’re fighting runner’s block, you try new things to make running fun.

That’s what led me to the idea of meditating while you run.

While I’m not a Buddhist (or any religion, for that matter), I’ve been intrigued by the teachings of Buddhism and even its Western bastardizations for several years now. The ability to detach from your emotions, the silencing of the chatter in your mind and access to your creative subconscious, and the compassion for living beings — these are all things I find appealing, even with no overt religious meaning attached.

The connection with veganism is pretty clear.  But it took a conversation with a reader of this site for me to realize how just well meditation jives with running.  And since I’ve started, I’ve really enjoyed it — not just for the new fulfillment I get from running, but also for the sense of presence and calm I feel during the rest of the day.

Meditation without the weirdness

For the longest time, I thought meditation was a New Age or religious thing. But it doesn’t have to be that. I find it helpful just to think of it as a way to relax and play around in your head for a while.

You don’t need special flute music. You don’t need candles. You don’t need to sit with your legs folded and palms up, and you certainly don’t need to make circles with your thumbs and forefingers.

The only thing you need is something to focus on.

That focus might be:

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My Seven Links

As a blogger, I come across a lot of opportunities to play “blogger games.” (Think Hunger Games, only without the oppression and killing.)

For example, bloggers give out “awards” to fellow bloggers, which you’re supposed to post in your sidebar, and then give the award out to a few others, and so on.  Okay, I get it, but not for me.

But earlier this week, my friend Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point did one that I really enjoyed reading (it’s more a meme than a game).  It’s called My 7 Links, and the point is simply to call attention to one post in each of seven specified categories.

Caitlin nominated me to be next, and since we’ve gotten a lot of new readers around here recently (including 13,000 fans on Facebook!), I thought it’d be a good way to highlight some of my favorite posts in the two-year history of this site.

Here goes…

Most popular post

63 Ways to Shake Up Your Running Routine.  This also happens to be the post that took me the longest to write, about eight hours.  But that work was rewarded when it went crazy on Stumbleupon, and to date it’s been viewed 133,374 times.

Most beautiful post

Beautiful??  Maybe this is why I don’t do these things very often…

Luckily, we have Susan for that.  Her post On Refusing to Settle and the Incredible Power of Denial, in which she reveals her disability and utter refusal to allow it to limit her life, is as beautiful as they come.  (Susan recently did an inspiring interview on the Badass Project where she talks more about it, so check that out.)

Of the ones I’ve written, I’ll go with An Open Letter to My Unborn Baby.  But as far as “beauty” goes, well, it was written by a dude, so don’t expect much.

Most controversial post

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How I Make Almond Butter, Juices, and Smoothies (and Your Chance to Win a Blendtec High-Speed Blender)

“$475 for a blender?  Does it do the dishes, too?”

When my wife first started pushing for us to get a high-powered blender, I just didn’t see how any blender could justify that kind of price (even if it could blend a golf ball).

But when I asked a few readers of this site what they thought of theirs, I was shocked when the responses ranged from “best investment you’ll ever make” to “I can’t believe you’re so into health food and don’t own one!”

So, I caved.  In what just might be our least romantic Christmas ever, my wife and I bought a Blendtec Total Blender as our gift to each other, as a sign of our undying love and commitment to blending excellence.

Well, it turns out that it doesn’t do the dishes (although it does clean itself pretty well).  But it does pretty much everything else… juice, smoothies, nut butter, nut milk, dough, ice cream, dips, sauces, even hot soup.

To demonstrate, I put together some videos to show you just a few of the basic things it does.

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The Thing that Keeps You From Doing Great Things

Somewhere inside your head, my head, and everyone else’s head is a traitor.  Meet the Resistance.

The job of the Resistance is to keep you where you are.  Because where you are is safe, and it’s pretty tough to fail when you’re standing still.

What the Resistance looks like

  • When you stare, paralyzed, at the signup page for your first marathon, telling yourself that the jump from 13.1 to 26.2 is just too great, that’s the Resistance.
  • When instead of just choosing a race, you research it to death until you finally decide on doing nothing, that’s the Resistance.
  • When you want to stop eating animals or putting junk in your body, but all you can hear are reasons why you can’t — your family, your work schedule, your friends — that’s the Resistance.
  • When you give in to the craving and eat the junk, that’s not the Resistance.  But when you bought the junk at the store because you knew you’d be craving it, that was the Resistance, doing its best to keep you the way you are.

It’s easy to recognize the Resistance when it shows up as fear.  It’s a lot harder when it’s in disguise.

Have you ever noticed that when you finally sit down (or stand up) to do something that’s important to you, that’s when every distraction in the world shows up?

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No Meat Athlete at Badwater Ultramarathon!

Meredith Murphy, No Meat Athlete sponsored runner in Badwater 2011

135 miles.

Through Death Valley.

In July, when the temperatures reach well over 120 degrees.

The road gets so hot that runners, who appear almost other-worldly in white suits to protect themselves from the sun, often have to run on the white painted line, just to avoid melting their shoes.

It’s enough to make even a hardcore runner ask, Why?  But to the 90 or so runners who get in to the Badwater Ultramarathon each year — making it through a competitive application process — the “why” is precisely those factors which have earned Badwater the title of “world’s toughest footrace.”

No Meat Athlete sponsored runner, Meredith Murphy

About an hour ago, Meredith Murphy, a vegetarian from Pennsylvania who runs a holistic health center, lined up at the start and began Badwater 2011.  Meredith has run several 100-milers before, but this is her first attempt at Badwater.

After seeing a message about NMA shirts on Facebook, Meredith mentioned to me that she’d like to represent No Meat Athlete at the race, and I happily obliged.  So I’m proud to announce that Meredith’s crew and van will be decked out in No Meat Athlete gear, and Meredith herself will likely wear the running carrot shirt as one of several changes of clothes (I couldn’t convince her that a full-body carrot costume would actually keep her cool, by blocking the sun’s rays).

Meredith won’t be the first vegetarian to run Badwater — ultrarunning superstar Scott Jurek famously won the legendary race twice as a vegan, holding the course record for a few years with his finish time of just over 24 hours.  But I’m thrilled that the No Meat Athlete logo will provide a highly-visible reminder, to those that see it, that you can do some pretty awesome stuff on a plant-based diet.

You can track Meredith’s progress as well as that of the other runners by following the live webcast.  Runners have 48 hours to complete the race, so keep checking back through Wednesday morning to see how Meredith is doing.  (Her time at each checkpoint will ultimately be posted here, but I’m not sure how frequently these individual reports will be updated.)

Once the race is over and Meredith is recovered, you know I’ll be bugging her to write a race recap for us.  At the very least, expect some photos to be posted soon.

And as a P.S., keep an eye on another runner, David Ploskonka.  He’s a friend of mine from high school and an incredible runner who did amazingly well at Badwater last year, finishing 17th in his first time running the race.

Oh, and last thing!  A brand new order of No Meat Athlete shirts came in last week (just in the nick of time, actually, for me to drive two hours to get them in the hands of the last of Meredith’s crew members to fly out to the race).  So you if you’ve been waiting to get one while they’ve been out of stock over the past month, now’s your chance!




How I Lost 70 Pounds and Ran My Fastest 5K — With a Fractured Pelvis

Post written by Susan Lacke.

Maybe I can’t be an astronaut, but at least I can run like one.

When Alter-G asked me to give their anti-gravity treadmill a whirl, here’s how they described it:

Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmills use patented NASA technology that allows for precise partial weight-bearing running, unweighing up to 80% of the your body weight. Simply put — it’s like running on the moon.

An invitation to run on the moon — how could I turn that down?

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