Matt Fitzgerald is a pretty neat guy. He wrote one of my favorite sports nutrition books, “Racing Weight”, and kindly sent me a signed copy of his latest piece (“Diet Cults”).
“Diet Cults” does a great job of setting the modern stage by reviewing historical cultures and eating trends in great detail. Fitzgerald continually sites scientific research and debunks many diet myths. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book (so far…I haven’t quite finished yet) is his focus on eating in an “agnostic” manner, rather than subscribing to any particular “perfect diet” formula.
The reason that I appreciate this “agnostic” eating approach is that I now consider myself pretty agnostic when it comes to eating. After struggling with food for many years, and making food– or the manipulation of what I ate and how my body looked– an idol for quite some time, I have come to the conclusion for myself that food is not the problem. I am the problem. My lack of self-control and improper motives, in particular, are the problem. Being motivated by some ideal body image, or some number on a scale, or some clothing size, only put me into a cycle of temporary victories followed by obsession, discouragement and discontentment.
But, when I began to view food as fuel– something to give my body nourishment and energy to thrive in life, rather than something to be worshiped and obsessed about, I slowly began to feel that food was no longer my master. I do have control over what I put into my body; and thus, I can control (to a degree) how my body feels and performs during a 5-hour workout, or in the middle of a final exam, or the day after a grueling triathlon event, or during a social gathering, or whatever life brings. I can fuel, and refuel myself, and not have anxieties about eating the “wrong” thing. I can eat when my body craves food, and not according to some fixed eating schedule. I can eat according to how much my body wants, not according to how much is the “perfect” amount or serving size.
Freedom, at last…or at least for today. Tomorrow, I
may will probably be tempted to count calories, or to wish I were a couple pounds lighter, or to eat too much because “my aunt only makes this cake once each year “, or to override my body’s hunger cues because “three breakfasts is just not normal, and I’d better stop eating”, but I will again remind myself that food is just food. And my body’s appearance is not who I am. There is much more to life. I am much more. I want to fuel my body well, not so that it looks up to standard, but so that it feels and performs up to my highest standards, so that I can live most fully.
What is this green machine made of, you ask?
- 1c. plain yogurt (Trader Joe’s European yogurt)
- 1.5 cups frozen pineapple and mango chunks
- 1 large banana
- 1 c. carrot juice blend (Trader Joe’s tropical carrot juice)
- 1 c. raw spinach
- *optional chia seeds and sweetened coconut flakes on top! YUM
…a perfect mini meal pre- or post-workout. I enjoyed this quality carbohydrate-protein concoction three-hours prior to a run lactate test with Coach Gareth. I always want to be at my best before a lab test so that we can accurately gauge where I am at in my training.