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! 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

McDonalds messes up the veggie wrap!

Recently, in an obvious effort to offer "healthier" options at its obesity contributing restaurant, McDonald's introduced 2 new veggie wraps to it's menu. The Santa Fe and Mediterranean veggie wrap. One might say its about time McDonald's offered some "healthy" food. Some adults may relish in the fact that now when their kids are eating "happy meals" they can eat a "good for you" veggie wrap. I mean it must be good for us right? It's a veggie wrap for crying out loud!! But McDonald's is just making an effort to fool people into thinking their veggie wrap is a healthy option.

Lets make a comparison between the Santa Fe Veggie wrap and Big Mac:

The Santa Fe Veggie Wrap has 490 calories, 24 grams of fat (!), and 980 mg of sodium.

The Artery clogging, heart disease, and obesity contributing Big Mac has 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 1020 mg of sodium. 

As you can see, the veggie wrap made at McDonald's is just as unhealthy as the Big Mac! McDonald's loads up each veggie wrap with high fat cheese and gobs of high fat sauces! The veggie wrap at McDonald's is not a healthy option at all! 

And to add insult to injury, you can order this veggie wrap as a combo with fries and a drink. Way to go Ronald McDonald!!

Congratulations McDonald's in succeeding in screwing up a veggie wrap. I feel they had a real chance here to offer a very healthy option to people. I feel they could have made these two veggie wraps into items that people can purchase from them and really feel good about eating knowing they were getting actual benefits of eating a plant based wrap. But it's McDonald's. 'Nuff said.

If you feel you need to try one of these, order it without or a small amount of the dressing and please tell them to keep the cheese off! 

Or better yet, stay home and make your own wrap! Make it your way! With tons of fresh plant based ingredients such as kale, red peppers, black beans, hummus, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and red onions. Mmmmmm. 

Stay home and make your own fast food!  Healthy fast food! Healthy plant based fast food. 

And stay away from McDonald's. They don't care about your health. That's up to you. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Medication or Food?

Now that I am 43 pounds lighter and much healthier than I was 10 months ago, I was thinking back to that fateful day when my doctor was explaining how high my cholesterol was, how high my blood pressure was, and how extremely high my chances were of getting heart disease or even a heart attack. I remember the doctor pulling out her prescription pad and writing prescriptions for my ailments. She wanted me to start taking 3 different kinds of medication. Thankfully, I pulled a Dr Mcdougall and said no. There had to be a better way and as I found out there was. A complete change in my diet changed everything. Out went the bad food (Animal based foods and processed foods)and in came the good food (All plant based foods). With that came my full time return to running. And here I am 10 months later, 43 pounds lighter, normal cholesterol levels, optimal blood pressure, healthy heart, and of course no need for medication.

One thing that really bothers me is why my doctor was so quick to write a prescription as opposed to talking to me about proper nutrition. I did a bit of research and found out that most doctors have inadequate nutritional education which may be leading many people to an early grave. If someone is suffering from high cholesterol, a pill is basically only a band aid for the issue. It's not going to to cure the ailment. Proper food and diet will cure the ailment. I am
living proof of that. When I went on a plant based diet and cut my cholesterol level in half, my doctor was amazed. I actually had to explain to her what a plant based diet was. She told me- "Whatever you are doing, just keep doing it". The only problem with that is I wished she had told me how to cure my ailments as opposed to writing a prescription.

In her waiting room she does have nutritional advice in the form of pamphlets. This pamphlet recommended you have 3-5 servings of dairy products everyday. It was also complete with cartoon pictures of milk, cheese, and happy cows. First of all, there is no such thing as a happy dairy cow who is imprisoned in a factory farm. And second, I checked the back of the pamphlet to see who funded this study. Guess who? The Dairy Farmers of Canada. I was appalled that biased nutritional advice was available in my doctors office. Dairy products have been linked to promoting certain cancers. Dairy products are high in cholesterol which can lead to heart disease. What's next? A study funded by McDonald's that claims we should be eating 3-5 Big Macs a day to maintain good health?

Give up the animal based foods which promote heart disease, high cholesterol, certain cancers, and eat plant based foods which promote healthy living. Plain and simple. Again, I'm living proof!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

My Jost Running 10k race

Last week I competed in my second Jost Running race. This time around it was a 10k race that had me competing against people from all over the world, a fact that I love! 

I woke up early on race day, had my usual pre-race breakfast, checked the weather, and got my running gear on. After filling my water bottle and grabbing an energy gel, I was ready to head out for my 10k race.

The night before I mapped out a route I never ran before. I did that to make it more exciting and unpredictable. I had no idea where or how many hills there would be or what the terrain would be like. As most races I run are on routes I never ran before, I thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing for this race. I headed towards the starting line and was pumped! I set my finishing goal for an 1 hour and 10 minutes. I was off! My race had started.

My plan was to run this race doing a few sets of running 20 minutes and walking 1. I started with a slow pace plans to speed it up after I passed the 5k mark. I remember thinking if anyone else was running this race at the same time I was and what their plan of attack was. 

I encountered a few early hills but I was fresh and took them on without any problems. I completed my first set of 20 minutes of running and took my first walking break. After a sip of water and 1 minute of walking, I was off again.

After I passed the 5k mark, I increased my speed. I was running a bit faster than I should have been as I felt a loss of energy after I reached my second set of running 20 minutes. I consumed the energy gel, drank more water and began running again only at a slower pace. 

As I headed toward the final part of the race, I saw something I wished I didn't see. HILLS!!! Lots of HILLS! I knew the finish was going to be tough. 

Those hills took a lot out of me. The inclines were deep. For a moment I thought I was in San Francisco! 

I finished the race with a time of 1 hour and 12 minutes. I missed my goal by 2 minutes. I blame it on those hills! 

I really enjoyed myself again during this Jost Running race.

I am currently training for my next Jost Running race which will be a half marathon. I can't wait for that race! 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

My first Jost Running 5k race

Today was my first 5k race with Jost Running. I wasn't sure what to expect as I normally run races with hundreds of other runners, this was my first stab at running a virtual race against other runners from all over the world. I anxious to know how I would handle a virtual race and today I would find out.

The words "virtual race" did not my prevent me from thinking that this was different from any race I had done in the past. I kept my same race routine leading up to race day. I psyched myself up exactly the same and I set my goal. My goal was to finish the race in under 33 minutes. I was never really concerned with speed so I figured 33 minutes was a fair goal for myself. I planned out the 5k route the night before race day and made sure I had a good night sleep.

I woke up early and had my normal pre race breakfast of granola, blueberries and vanilla soy milk. This would be enough fuel for me to finish this race. I changed into my running gear, pinned on my bib, and off I went. I approached the starting line of my 5k route at around 9:00 am. I had it fixed in my mind that this was no ordinary run but a real race and I was competing against many others from around the world. I closed my eyes, counted to 10 and I was off. My race had begun.

I started with an easy pace as my strategy was to hit the gas at the last kilometre. I was making decent time as I wanted to accomplish my goal of under 33 minutes. If at any time I forgot this was a race, my bib would remind that is was and I better not slack off. All I could think about was how I am going to compare to all the other times. I thought about all the other runners who would be running this 5k race and competing with me. With that in mind, I sped up my pace  a bit. As I got to the third kilometre, I actually had a passerby say "Go Lewis!", as they saw my race bib. That gave me a good feeling! The 4th kilometre was coming up and I knew I needed to turn it up and run hard for the finish.

As soon as I passed the 4th kilometre I started running hard as my time was 24:32 I was in the home stretch and wanted to hit my goal of under 33 minutes. I was thinking about the other runners competing and how they are going to handle their homestretch. I continued to run hard for the finish until I crossed the finish line with a time of 31:59! I was very proud that I accomplished my goal by over a minute! I took a long drink of water and immediately wondered how my time will compare to the other runners. I went home, sent my time in and now look forward to getting my medal! 

As I stated, this was my first virtual race and I had a blast! Knowing that I was competing with other runners kept me focused and motivated the entire race. Just the thought that my time will be compared to other runners all over the world is very exciting! And receiving a medal for my hard work is very rewarding! 

I'm now looking forward to my next race with Jost Running. It will be a 10k so I better start training as it is coming up later this month and I want to focus on a good finishing time. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Being a first time running instructor

This is the last week of a 10 week running clinic for beginner runners that I was instructing. It was my first go as a running instructor and I'd like think I did an good job. I met and became friends with a number of individuals who I had the pleasure of teaching the "art" of running.

It felt like yesterday when the manager of the local Running Room, which I work part time for, asked if I would like to instruct the Learn To Run clinic as she felt I would be good at it. I was reluctant at first as I never instructed anyone on the basics of running. I wasn't sure I would be any good at it. I remember thinking that it would be a great challenge to guide a group of novice runners and train them to be race ready for an upcoming 5k race. The challenge was too good to pass up so I accepted. Finding out that I would get paid for it as well was a nice bonus. So for the first time in my life, I was actually getting paid to run! 

I found out there would be 11 people in my group. That got me a bit nervous. All I could think about was how these 11 people were going to be counting on me to get them through 10 weeks and make them better runners, build there endurance, give them tips on improving, show them proper stretching techniques, offer injury prevention advice, guide them on proper clothing and shoes, proper nutrition, etc. Yep, I was getting nervous.

So the first day arrived, I had my notes ready and greeted the runners of my group as they walked in. Soon all 11 had arrived and were patiently seated waiting for me to begin. The only problem was I was in the stores washroom asking myself if I was ready for this. A co-worker  knocked on the door and said, "Lewis, its 6:30, they are waiting for you to start. This was it! It was showtime!

I walked up to the front of the group and introduced myself again. That's when I noticed that all 22 eyes are focused on me ready to learn, ready to hear me talk about running, ready to follow my lead as a runner. I talked for a bit sounding rather nervous but was okay overall. I had everyone introduce themselves and explain why they have joined the group. I felt I needed to break the ice somehow, ease the tension and my nervousness. I got my opportunity. One of the runners introduced herself and told everyone she was nervous as she didn't know "how to run". I asked if anyone shared her worry about not knowing "how to run". A few others raised their hands. I informed them it was easy to run. I told them all you need to do is put your right foot in front of your left foot, then your left foot in front of your right foot and repeat. Then I thanked them for coming and jokingly said "Good night folks!" This got a nice laugh and all tension and nervousness disappeared. 

We went out for an easy run which everyone enjoyed. I helped everyone during the run, answered questions, and offered advice. I was already enjoying the role of instructor. I knew this was for me.

The weeks went by and sadly a number of runners did drop out. One due to injury and others just stopped showing up. This made me think that I need to do more to motivate people so they won't want to drop out. The thought that I didn't do enough sticks in my mind. 

My first group ended up with a core of 6 people. Watching them complete their first race and knowing that I played a big part in that is so gratifying. It's a wonderful reward when someone comes up to you and thanks you for getting them prepared for their first race, that they couldn't do it without me.  

Yes, being an running instructor is a role I want for a long time. I was asked to instruct the next group of beginner runners. So I guess I am doing something right. And mark my words, I will see to it that nobody quits. That's my goal. Making sure all who starts finishes.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

4 food groups of the plant based diet

Since I have gone on a plant based diet, I am often asked "what do you eat"? There seems to be a misconception among some people that vegans and plant basers have very little food to eat. But this is furthest from the truth. There are an abundance of plant based food that is available to consume. Think about this - you can only find 4-5 different kinds of meat yet hundreds of different plant based foods at your local supermarket.

So what do I eat? I eat from 4 different food groups. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Major killers such as heart disease, cancer and stroke have been greatly reduced among people consuming foods from only these 4 groups.

In the fruit group we have many familiar options such as apples, oranges, berries, bananas, grapes, melons, apricots, cherries, mango, kiwi, papaya, pears, pineapples, and plums to name a few.

In the vegetable group we have favorites such as kale, chard, broccoli, beets, asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, peas, peppers, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes. There are many others as well. 

With whole grains you have your barley, brown rice, corn, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, wheat, amaranth, whole grain breads, whole grain pasta, bran and many others.

And with legumes you have your lentils, red kidney beans, peas, chick peas, black beans, northern beans, white kidney beans, lima beans, black eyed peas, pinto beans, navy beans, pink beans, tofu, soybeans, tempeh, nuts, and seeds such as flax and chia.

So you see? People on a whole food plant based diet have so many different foods they can choose from. And when you combine various foods from these groups you can create a very happy plate and a very healthy person! 

With these foods you will be getting many vitamins and nutrients such as fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, b vitamins, omega 3, vitamin A and C, potassium, and anti-oxidants. 

You will be lowering your risk of getting hypertension, heart disease, eye disease,  certain cancers, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, lung disease, bone loss, chronic inflammation, and high cholesterol. 

Bottom line - going on a whole food plant based diet is the best way to get healthy and help prevent so many ailments that are plaguing millions of people. It all starts with the food you decide to eat. You have the choice. Think of food as the greatest preventive medicine there is in the world today. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Plant Based And Running

Hello all! Yesterday was a great running day for me. I ran 6 miles and feel no aches and pains in my body. There was a time when a 6 mile run would require some serious icing for my knees.

The biggest reason for this is the 41 pound weight loss I have had since switching to a plant based diet. My recovery time is much quicker now as well. I ran 6 miles yesterday and I feel I can go again today. 

By switching to a whole plant based diet, I am giving my body exactly what is needs for fuel and recovery. I remember when finishing a long run meant I thought it was okay to go to Taco Bell or eat a bag of chip or eat some other high fat and/or processed food. Now after every run, I'll refuel with 100% whole plant based foods. I'll eat some fruits, cook a pot of beans and mix with tofu and spices, or make a wonderful massaged kale salad. 

Being able to run again seriously after experience injury after injury is such a blessing. I realize that my poor eating habits in the past contributed to my constant injuries and poor recovery. I will admit, I don't 100% understand why but I am researching this topic for a better understanding.

With 41 pounds gone and fuelled by plant based foods, my runs are stronger than ever. I feel much different when I am out there pounding the pavement. The impact running has on my body has decreased due to the weight loss. In addition to the stronger feeling, I feel my endurance level is increasing more rapidly than it has in the past. I can run longer distances without stopping than I have ever run in the past. Steep hills are not as intimidating as they once were due to my sore knees. I truly believe the whole food plant based diet is a major contributor to my running "comeback". 

I am considering a number of races this year and once again have a few marathons in mind. I am hoping to complete at least two marathons by the end of 2014. I feel with my new lifestyle which is powered by plant based nutrition, I will accomplish my goals.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Why I am Proudly Plant Based

Ever since I have gone on this 100% Plant Based diet, many people have asked me why I am doing this. The answer is simple. The main reason I have decided to become a herbivore is to become a healthier person. 

About 9 months ago, I was in bad shape. At 5'4", I weighed 202 pounds, had very high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and was heading toward either heart disease or heart attack. My diet at the time consisted of processed foods, animal based foods, sugary drinks, fast food, high fat foods, and the list goes on and on. In addition, I had to give up running due to constant knee pain and aches and pains throughout my body. So I was on a very poor diet with minimal exercise. What does that equation equal? Poor health. I knew a change was required. I had a family and wanted to be around for my daughter. I wanted to be there when she graduated college, I wanted to be there when she was getting married, etc. So I knew a serious change was in order. I did research, looking for ways to lose weight and get fit. 

There are so many fad diets out there such as Atkins, South Beach, and many others. While you may lose weight in the short term, they didn't seem to be diets that would make an individual healthy. I mean, eating no carbohydrates and very fatty foods? Would this make me healthy? I didn't think so. Plus, it's almost guaranteed once you stop this "diet", you'll gain the weight back. So what to do? What was out there that could make me a healthier individual? I was at the local library when I came across ultra marathon legend Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run. Upon reading it, I discovered he was a vegan and he had many recipes in the book that actually sounded good enough to try. That's when I realized that maybe becoming a vegan can make me a healthier person. So I did my research. I came across advocates of the plant based diet such as Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr T Colin Campbell, Rip Esselstyn and many others. They were all in agreement. A 100% whole food plant based diet will assist in lowering your cholesterol, preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure, help prevent certain cancers and that is only to name a few! So I decided to give it a try. I changed my lifestyle. One day I was a carnivore and the next I became a herbivore. And it was the best thing I have ever done for my health. 

After being on it for eight months, my cholesterol is in normal range now, I have lost 41 pounds to date, my blood pressure is optimal and I was able to start running again! With the change in my diet, I was in virtually no pain during and after running. The 41 pound weight loss made a huge difference on my entire body. One thing I have discovered is I love to cook my own meals now. No more fast food, no more processed hot dogs or chicken nuggets. It's much more fun creating my own recipes. I only eat from four groups now - Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. No more animal based foods. I say if it has a face and is able to move around on its own, let it live out it's life. We don't need to eat it. So many people think being on a plant based diet means your eating salad 3 times a day but it is so much more than that. There are so many delicious whole foods that are available to consume. And when you combine ingredients such as tofu, kidney beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale, spices you are creating a plant based masterpiece. 

Many people knock the whole food plant based diet but that's okay. I am living proof it works. I will remain Proudly Plant Based for the rest of my life.