Question of the Month

I get so many emails asking about diets for athletes. So I want to cover what it’s like to remain healthy and strong as a college athlete. You might remember that a long time ago I talked about the bodybuilding.com, they had a contest. I think it was bodybuilding.com or ironman magazine or something along those lines.

I don’t recall.

Some muscley magazine had a contest to, “Be the body builder 2013, be on our cover.” At the time, college body building was really trying to get people to vote for a college body builder so we would have college students on the cover.

It didn’t end up happening but we still want to learn more about what kind of muscle mass you can build without eating mean or even any animal products whatsoever. Two days ago, I did a major lower body workout. I thought, you know when you’re working gluts and you’re like, “You know what? I was going to go a little extra hard and really work out the gluts,” because you can’t feel the damage you’re doing at the time, it’s easy to push yourself too far. The next day is hell.

You try to sit down. Or you try to stand up. You’re in pain throughout your lower body.

I was recently reading about a woman who is a lifelong dancer, body builder and a practicing yogi. She is passionate about health, animal welfare and spreading the healthy lifestyle message. She is currently pursuing her degree in science to become a registered dietitian and plans to complete the Colin T. Campbell plant-based nutrition certification this summer at Cornell.

I tried to contact her and ended up having a lot of correspondence with her. She was just so kind so it was flattering for her to tell me the same thing back so I’ll definitely be doing that again next year. Maybe we’ll have even that much more vegan support next year.

How does one end up becoming so focused on nutrition and fitness?

In my own case, I’d have to describe it as a chain of events, really. It was in 2009, when I competed in the same show in Bend, Oregon with a fellow athlete. It was my first competition. He was at the back stage and he was really nice and just not like the other athletes in the competition. He’s just really down to Earth, likes to workout and super smiley and happy and running around with his long, blond ponytail shining.

We chatted briefly backstage about how to get the best cross training workout. Later, we connected Facebook when we both became interested in hardcore abdominal exercises. I started looking into diet and what would be best to lose weight and gain muscle mass.

What’s this all about?

I’ve been pretty health conscious all my life, but I didn’t know really about specific nutrition for specific fitness goals. After I started learning more about what I should and shouldn’t have in my diet, I became really interested in diet.

That was the initial start. Then, in early 2009, early 2010, I was sick for the last 5 months of 2009 into the early 2 or 3 months of 2010. I had bronchitis, pneumonia back to back. Then, finally went out with a bang, so to speak, with the H1N1 and was in bed for 36 hours straight. It was just terrible.

I finally got better from that. I got a kidney infection shortly thereafter. At that point, I thought, “Gosh, there must be something I’m doing wrong.” I opted to go to the doctor. She looked at me very sternly and said, “No more gluten and no more dairy.” I was like, “Okay. I can do that.” The gluten was honestly the harder part which now, I can actually have gluten and I’m fine but I dropped the dairy like a bad habit.

It was really pretty easy honestly but last thing to go was eggs. That was just because they’re in a lot of products. I wasn’t really aware of it. In 2014, I was officially on a new diet.

I honestly think my body was mostly just really upset from the egg and the dairy that was still in my diet at that time. At one point in 2011, I went over to my friend’s house for dinner. They’re vegetarian. They’ve been vegetarian for years. Usually, she’s really good about knowing what to cook for people with other dietary restrictions. She knew what mine were.

My friend ended up making these tacos. I was eating it and I was like, “Okay, so what is this meat?” I thought it was Gardein, the little groundless beef or whatever they have. They were like, “Oh, it’s some brand we found at the market,” and they got the package.

Immediately, I was like, “Oh, no.” I thought it was fine for me to eat, but it had egg in it and I ended up getting so sick. Really honestly think that the majority of my issues were stemming from my diet. Now, I can have gluten. I don’t have it all the time but if I have it, it doesn’t ruin me either. I’m not down for the count.