Many people have written me asking what I eat? What do I drink? What supplements do I take? So I thought it was time to answer a few of your questions.
After running a 4:37 at the Masters Indoor Nationals in 2007, I had a guy at my home club ask me, so what are you “on” to run like that at your age? And I said, “soy and broccoli.” Thus, the name for this blog entry.
I have been a vegan now for over 20 years. I first changed my diet to be a lacto-vegetarian (still consuming milk products) back in 1985 when I was training in New England before going over to play a few tennis tournaments in Europe. Usually, people need time to feel the effects of going vegetarian. Some feel terrible during the transition because their bodies are used to a certain nutritional intake. I was different. I immediately felt the dramatic effects of more energy and more balance as I was waking up the same way with a little “bounce in my step” everyday. My change to a vegetarian diet started back in the 80’s when the veggie options available today were non-existent. But I stuck with it, and the better I felt, the more I wanted to learn about it.
So when I moved to India in 1987 to coach the Junior National Tennis Team in Madras, I went as a lacto-vegetarian and soon transformed my diet into being a vegan (no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy). Many of the reasons at the beginning were due to basic health reasons in India: ice cream in India then was eaten with a risk of typhoid, the milk needed to be boiled as it was delivered to your door in a plastic bag directly from the cow, and the cheese in the late 80’s in India (Amul brand) was disgusting. So I became a vegan. I tried dairy products again for a brief time when I returned to the United States in the early 90’s, but I felt better without the dairy – so the vegan diet stuck. Now that I reside in the United States, I try to buy “organic” products as much as possible that are fairly reasonable. Everyone’s body is different, but my vegan diet has worked wonders for me.
I should also add that I do not drink any alcohol. After my years at a Bowdoin College fraternity, I outgrew the need to consume alcohol. I stopped drinking socially in 1987 when I joined a company with a “no drinking” policy. Then, after leaving the company in 1992, it became a personal choice as I no longer wanted “to miss any moments of life.” So the combination of vegan food and no alcoholic beverages still stands 21 years later at 45. I wake up the same way everyday – no hangovers from alcohol or heavy foods. I think it helps my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
I have a long list of supplement sponsors that would like me to use their product to promote better health, recovery, hormonal balance, etc., but I choose to just take one vegetarian, multi-vitamin a day in addition to my food. With the help of my brother and Nutritional Consultant, Marc, I have a protein with every meal. This regime helps balance my sugar, blood, and nutritional levels.
I wanted this 20 week journey to reflect me and my life. I wanted this journey to represent good, clean health that anyone can do. I was always curious how fast I could go as I got older with my vegan lifestyle. With this 20 week challenge. I wanted to find out how consistent I could be every week in changing environments. My immune system has held up well so far in this long summer of travel. Now with four races to go and a lot of air travel remaining, I look to my “soy and broccoli” base to help me power through the finish.