Saturday, 23 November 2013

Great Month of Racing!

November has been a huge month of Jost Running races for me. The theme is "Run Your Mass Off".  I have run half marathon and 5K races this month with a 10K race coming up. I am without a doubt up for the challenge!

I went into my 5K race with a simple plan. To run at a fast pace for the entire race without stopping. My goal was to finish under 30 minutes. My last Jost Running 5K race was completed in 31:59. In past races I would use the 10 and 1 strategy (run 10 min and walk 1 min), but on this day I wanted to challenge myself to run fast with no stopping. I choose a local 5K route that I knew well. I wanted to run on a familiar route to make things a bit more easier on my concentration. I was poised and ready to get this done in under 30 minutes.

I headed up to the starting point, hit the timer on my watch and simply started running fast and hard. I knew there was a bit of an incline in the beginning but the strategy was get up that incline as quickly as possible. Once I got past the incline I really turned on the heat. I was flying! Really running fast. I made it a point not to look at my watch until I finished the race. I didn't want to be concerned with the time. My only concern at this point was if I would be able to keep up this blistering pace. Now bear in mind - I say blistering pace but my blistering pace would probably be considered a slow pace by most. :)

I knew to be successful at keeping this pace up was to get my breathing under control. If I was huffing, puffing and gasping for breath I would be doomed. While running, I kept taking big, deep belly breaths through my nose and exhaled through my mouth. With this method (thank you Scott Jurek) I was able to control my breathing.

I got to the halfway point running the same, fast pace. I felt the strain of this fast pace but I didn't want to stop. I just closed my eyes and told myself to 'keep up the pace", which I did. It seemed like I was running with blinders, all I could see what was in front of me as I had the finish line etched in my mind. I wasn't looking at the time, but I felt I had a great chance to finish under 30 minutes.

As i was nearing the finish line, I was really feeling fatigued. My pace did slow down a bit but I continued to run as fast as I was able too. I got up a small incline near the finish line. Once I got up the incline, my body told me to stop. And much to my disappointment, I obliged. I still had a bit to go but I stopped for about 30 seconds after I got up that incline. I knew I had to press on if I wanted to reach my goal. I continued running again at the fastest pace I was able to. I saw the finish line and really turned on the heat. It was funny, as I turned on the heat, an elderly lady laughed and asked if that was as fast as I can run. I responded with a hearty "Jost Running baby!"

When I crossed the finish line I was exhausted. I crouched down and took a few very deep breaths. I thought I had a great run and was proud that I kept up this pace even though I did have to stop 1 time. I wondered if I had finished under 30 minutes. The moment of truth had come. I looked at my watch and saw 25:41. I thought it might have been a mistake but it was no mistake. I had run this 5K with my best ever time of 25:41. I suddenly became a very proud runner.

With that best ever time, I was able to accomplish something I thought I would never be able to accomplish. I finished 1st in the Jost Running 5k race for November!!  I won my first race! This really made me a proud runner. Its great to see the results and my name is at the top of the list. That is awesome!

In addition to the 5K, I also ran the Jost Running half marathon. I decided to run this race through a local trail and to make a leisurely 13.1 mile run. I enjoyed this run, taking in the sites without trying to break any records or anything. I finished this race in 2:31:43. My second half marathon in two months.

I am very proud of my running these days and I don't intend to stop.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

But where do you get your protein from?

Being on a plant based diet, the question I get many times is, "But where do you get your protein from?". And when a carnivore asks me this question, they usually do it with a "I got you now" look on their face. Despite popular carnivorous belief, protein is abundantly available for herbivores. But first, let's talk about what protein is and it's importance.

Protein is basically a large complex molecule which is made up of one or
more chains of amino acids which are linked by peptide bonds. The amino acids that are linked up to make protein are available in our bodies. The only catch here is our body can make 14 different amino acids but our bodies require 20. So that means 6 proteins need to come from outside sources in the form of the food we eat. The 14 our bodies make are considered non essential proteins and the rest we must get from food are called essential amino acids. They are called essential because of the fact our bodies doesn't produce them and we have to get them from outside sources.

Protein is a vitally important component of every cell in the body. Protein is used by the body to repair muscle, rebuilds cells, and is a building block of bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. You body only needs a certain amount of protein to function well. Extra protein is not necessary and will not make you stronger. Too much protein can actually be dangerous.

But you have to eat meat to get the protein that a person needs, right? A vegan can never be strong like a meat eater because a vegan has no foods with protein, right? Carnivores have us herbivores up against the ropes and cowering when the topic of protein comes up, right? Wrong to all three. 

There are many, many plant based sources for protein such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, non dairy milks, and whole grains to name a few. 

Spinach is very high in protein as are mushrooms, corn, oatmeal, and whole grain pastas.  

If a variety of plant based foods are consumed, you will easily get all the essential amino acids your body requires. 

Now for the real advantage - when you get your protein from plant based foods you're also getting a package complete with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All these add up to amazing health and contribute to preventing disease! On the flip side, animal proteins are combined with unhealthy saturated fats and high levels of cholesterol with no antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients and almost no vitamins and minerals. Yeah, you're getting your meat protein but you are also contributing to potential heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, turning on those cancer cells, etc.

There you have it Mr. or Mrs Carnivore. That's where we get our healthy proteins from. No need to ask the question again.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Plant Based for 1 year


On October 17 2013, I celebrated my 1 year anniversary of being on a plant based diet. It was the one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. By going on a plant based diet, I have lowered my cholesterol, lowered my blood pressure, lowered my risk of heart disease, and lost 43 pounds to date. I was once overweight and unhealthy with medication being recommended by my doctor. Thank GOODNESS, I discovered Dr Caldwell Esselstyn and Scott Jurek on the web. Both are advocates of the plant based diet. I took their advice, gave their recommendations a try, and here I am today. The healthiest I have ever been.

Gone are the days of stopping at a fast food restaurant and filling my body with bad food. Bad food does bad things such as raise cholesterol, promote heart disease, raises blood pressure, and makes pharmaceutical companies very happy as you will be paying for their medications. 

These days I have swapped fast food and all animal products for nutrient dense plant based foods such as kale, leafy greens, beans, whole grains, etc. This way of eating has made me feel better all around. It's so simple! The food is the best medicine available!! While pharmaceutical medication simply places a band aid on your ailments eating the right foods which is plant based food will prevent and even reverse your ailments. 

Dr Caldwell Esselstyn called heart disease a paper tiger than need never exist. Dr Esselstyn is 100% right. Dr. Esselstyn promotes a plant based, oil free diet. He doesn't push pills on his patients. He pushes the plant based, oil free diet. And he has cured countless of patients who were suffering from heart disease and other ailments. He is truly one of the great doctors in the world today.

Another thing I have discovered is that I love to cook my own meals. In my animal based food life, it was so easy and boring to grab a few frozen chicken nuggets and fries and throw them into the toaster oven. Now I prepare my own meals such as 3 Bean vegan chili, Massaged Kale Salad, Curried Cauliflower, etc. I am not quite a Melanie Esqueda when it comes to cooking but I think I can hold my own.

So after a year of being on a 100% plant based diet I can honestly say I'll being eating this way for the rest of my life. I highly recommend this diet for everyone!!

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Oktoberfest Jost Running Half Marathon

It wasn't too long ago that I almost gave up running because of injuries. I suffered calf injuries, knee injuries, foot injuries, etc. I had two half marathons under my belt and one failed marathon attempt. I had to pull out of the marathon after suffering a calf injury half way through. I couldn't seem to completely heal after that. Every run was painful. My knees were so achy. I had just about given up on running.

But I couldn't. I decided to take a few months off and start all over again. Unfortunately, I let myself gain weight. I reached a weight of 202 lbs. At 5'4" tall that was not healthy. After a bad doctors report, I decided to make a huge lifestyle change. I committed to a plant based diet and started running again. 

I took it slow, running short distances. Slowly building myself up. I felt okay after each run. Everything was holding up. My new diet played a huge role in that. I started running longer distances without any recurring injuries. My recovery time was decreasing. I was feeling like a runner again! 

Fast forward to today. I am 43 pounds lighter and worked long and hard at building myself back. I felt I was ready to run a half marathon again. I chose the Jost Running Oktoberfest Half Marathon and ran it on Oct 14.

I will admit, I was a bit nervous. It was my first half marathon in three years. I knew in my heart that no matter what, I would finish this race. 

My strategy for this half marathon was to start slow and use the 10 and 1 formula, which is run 10 minutes and walk 1. My goal was to finish with a time of 2:30 or under.

I started nice and easy and was able to get into a nice rythem. My pace was perfect. I hit such a huge runners high very early as all I was thinking about was I am really running a half marathon again! I reached the 10 minute mark but didn't want to stop for a 1 minute break as I felt so awesome,  so I continued running. I stopped for the first time at the 30 minute mark and proceeded to use the 10 and 1 formula for the remainder of the run.

The route was a very good one. Not too many hills and scenic. I was enjoying every single step I was taking. There was no doubt I was finishing this race. I wondered about all the others competing in the Oktoberfest Half Marathon and wondered if they were enjoying it as much as I was.

When I hit the 11 mile mark, my legs were tired but I knew I needed to push ahead for two more miles. They were two tough miles but I got through them and finished the half marathon with a time of 2:23. I was so proud when I finally crossed the finish line and proud to be back at half marathon level.

As this is only the third half marathon I have run, it will always be the most special. I will always remember how I went from almost quitting running to returning to half marathon level. Hard work and a never quite attitude always pays off! My next goal - finishing my first marathon! Training commences now!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Think beyond your taste buds

The Whopper. The Big Mac. Overstuffed beef burritos. Ultimate bacon cheeseburgers. KFC Double Down. I bet you're taste buds are tingling right now. But are you thinking about the long term effects these garbage foods can have on your body? Are lifelong health issues worth the 5 seconds your taste buds have in contact with these foods? The answer of course is no.

I have heard it so many times - "I know a whopper is bad for me but it is SO good tasting". Fine a whopper or any of the fast food oversized meals may taste good. But what happens after it passes your taste buds? Remember, you are consuming high amounts of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. After it passes your taste buds, it has been given the freedom to clog your arteries, raise your blood pressure, and promote cardiovascular disease. Is all this worth 5 seconds of pleasing your taste buds?Hopefully, you have answered no.

Let's stick with the whopper as an example. A whopper with cheese has 710 calories (380 calories from fat alone!) which is half of the calories an average person takes in each day. This food poses the danger of eating more than you burn which results in weight gain. In addition, it has 42 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1380 mg of sodium, and 85 mg of cholesterol. All incredibly high and unhealthy numbers! And this is just the whopper! It does not include the fries and sugary drinks included in the meal which will considerably add to these disease promoting numbers! And get this- Burger King has a double and triple whopper which contains 65 grams of fat and 1480 mg of sodium alone!!! Why are we eating this?!? Oh yeah, because it tastes good. Does taking high cholesterol and high blood pressure medication taste good? Answer this question for me - do you think a heart attack FEELS good? Stop using the "it tastes good" excuse to eat these bad foods. There are so many foods, plant based foods, that tastes delicious and are good for you as well.

Instead of a fast food burger like the one I named above, try making a quick and easy black bean burger. There are so many recipes for this online. I have made many of these and they are delicious!! The burgers I made only have 100 calories, 4g of total fat, 1g saturated fat, 350 g of sodium, and 0mg of cholesterol.  Add hummus, tomatoes, leafy greens, onions, pickles, hot peppers and you got a healthy black bean burger masterpiece!

I have seen recipes for various bean burgers such as a three bean burger, kidney bean burger, etc. These burgers tastes outstanding grilled on the barbecue! Brush on some BBQ sauce and wow!!!

Beans aren't your thing? Try a veggie burger! You can make them on your own or find them frozen. They normally come with 100 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, and 350 mg of sodium. Again, add all the plant  based trimmings and you have yourself a healthy burger that will keep your taste buds happy!

To close off, the best way to keep healthy is to adopt a 100% plant based diet. Give up the animal based and processed foods which only promote the ailments I discussed above and more. And please STAY AWAY from the fast food restaurants! Yes, I used to frequent these places. But I don't anymore. All it did for me was keep me overweight, gave me high cholesterol and put me at risk for cardiovascular disease. 100% plant based foods will lead to a happier and healthier life. Trust me! I know! 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Plant Based Diet vs Fad Diets


There have been so many different diets that have come along from low carb, no carb, all carb, low protein, high protein, no protein, blue protein, single food only diets, miracle diets, scam diets, no fat, low fat, fat burning pills, low carbs mixed with more carbs and no protein, 500 lb bull sitting on the sidewalk picking daisies diet. You get the picture. All these fad diets are based on 1 thing. To help you lose weight BUT not get you healthy. They use the same formula, cut your calories and lose weight. In other words, starve yourself. But once you go
off the diet, you'll most likely gain all the weight back. 

As I stated, these fad diets will not get you healthy. Here's a perfect example. Years ago, I tried the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet suggests you cut out most of the carbohydrates from your diet. I was allowed to eat meat, butter, eggs, oils, and everyone's favorite low carb snack pork rinds. The philosophy behind this diet was that it's okay to load up on meat and cheese but not breads, pasta, or even fruits and vegetables. I see now how ridiculous this is. I remember losing weight but not feeling good at all. I remember getting headaches every day. And I gained all the weight back when I decided to stop following the diet. It is my belief that this diet will also raise your cholesterol, blood pressure, steer you towards heart disease, and cause other complications. This diet will make your doctor and pharmaceutical companies very happy as it will most likely lead you to becoming a monthly money spending pill popper. And you DON'T want to go there.

The diet that is a sure fire bet to work is the plant based diet. It's more of a lifestyle change really. The Plant Based Diet is not about starving yourself, or limiting carbs, increasing proteins
or a miracle pill. It's about eating nutrient dense whole plant based foods and as much as you'd like to eat! Go ahead and fill your plate with as many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, or legumes as you'd like. You have so many options to choose from! So many people think it's hard to give up their beloved meat or cheese but it's not that hard at all. It's quite easy. Remember, eating animal based foods will only promote high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, cancer cell growth. It's a proven fact that people who adopt a whole food plant based diet reverse their ailments, lower their cholesterol, lose weight safely, and drastically reduce their risk of heart disease. 

So forget about all the fad diets. They don't work as there are always going to be new ones popping up becoming the latest "craze". I am waiting for someone to come out with the martian diet. Eat like a martian does on their home planet! All kidding aside, the plant based diet is the only diet, in my opinion, that will cover all the bases. You will lose weight, you don't have to starve yourself, you WILL get healthier, and you will feel great! 

Friday, 20 September 2013

What was I thinking? The common thought of a overtraining runner

Some lessons are never learned. Two weeks ago I ran 10 miles and felt great about the accomplishment. I set out to do ten and I did it. I should've rested the next day but thinking I was superman, I ran another 4 miles. I felt okay as well! My legs were tired, so that meant rest the following day, right? Nope! I put on my running attire and pushed myself to knocked off another 10 miles. That was 24 miles in three days. 

Rewind a few years back when I first started running and thought I could be an ultra marathon runner. I ran distances I was not ready to run and it led to a serious injury.

The same principle applies here. I ran more miles than my body was ready for. I know this because for the next few days my knees hurt and my right calf was tight. I definitely fell into the category of an overtraining runner. Thankfully, I let myself rest for a few days to let my achy knees and calf heal. 

As I am on a plant based diet, my recovery time has, without a doubt, reduced. I was okay after only a few days. If I was still eating animal based and processed foods, I would have been in recovery mode a lot longer. Eating nutrient dense whole plant based foods has made a huge difference in my running and recovery. 

I want to get to marathon level and I know will. I just need to do it right. Running 24 miles in three days is not going to get me there. Following a marathon training plan, listening to my body for subtle warning signs to prevent injuries and continue eating nutrient dense plant based foods will get me there.

My goals - two marathons in 2014 

And yes- I want to run an ultra in 2015.

I know I can get there. I just have to be smart about it!