Fuel for the Send!
After my last series on ab exercises, I received a lot of questions about my diet. Diet is a really important part of athletic performance as well as muscle definition. I’m going to share what my diet is but there is definitely MUCH room for improvement! I may have a masters degree in nutrition, but I am definitely not a nutritionist!
I was a freshman in high school on the outdoor track team. I didn’t know how to use blocks nor did I own a pair of spikes. I had just run the 100m in one of my first competitions and thought I did not make it to finals. I was hanging out in the stands and decided to go to the concessions booth to get some hot dogs. There I was, leaning on the fence, eating my hot dog, and watching the competition, when my coach came over and announced, “you made it to finals!! You have to run NOW!!”
Having just eaten a giant hot dog, I was concerned about how it would affect my performance. At the starting line, I was also particularly nervous because I was the only athlete not using blocks and not wearing spikes. After the blast of the starting gun wore off, I felt more powerful than ever. I can’t remember how I placed, but I remember that it was definitely a personal best. The race transformed my diet for the rest of my life. I stopped carb loading and started eating red meat.
Before a big competition like American Ninja Warrior or a hard project to send, I eat red meat. Typically, I have a hamburger with cheese but without condiments, without bread, and without fries. Hamburgers aren’t healthy, so I save those for big occasions.
Most days, I eat baked chicken with a plain sweet potato. I place chicken in a pan with olive oil and a seasoning that contains no or low sodium and no sugar and I bake it in the oven for one hour at 350 degrees. I also get protein from non-animal sources. I like to mix in tofu and/or beans to my chicken and turkey dishes. They are cheaper, make the meal last longer, and add protein. Its win-win! I prefer dried beans so I can make sure there is no added sugar or sodium. If you want to add canned beans, make sure it has low sodium and no sugars added!!
Veggies: I don’t particularly like vegetables but I know how important it is to include them in my daily diet. My husband usually encourages me to eat either spinach or broccoli with dinner most nights. If we have time, we steam the broccoli and make a spinach salad with almonds, dried cranberries, and goat cheese. If we’re pressed for time, we will just eat raw broccoli and a few handfuls of raw spinach to get our daily serving of greens.
SEEDS: I love seeds. Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds. You name the seed, and I eat it. Seeds are easy to add to already prepared meals and can add protein and other nutrients.
Watch the sugars! Under no circumstance do I drink soda. In high school, my mom limited me to a couple of sodas a week and then, as a freshman in college, I stopped drinking them completely. I have filled the void with sparkling, unflavored water. I also enjoy sparkling probiotic drinks. Make sure to read the label because some have high levels of sugar. Kevita has a flavor that has 0 grams of sugar!
Make wise choices. It’s always someone’s birthday at the hospital. Bagels, cakes, and doughnuts are always easily accessible for me. It is easy to put on unhealthy weight if you eat these every day. Unless it’s a food I really really love, I don’t eat it. If it is something I particularly like, I take it to eat later. I set a time, usually at the end of the work day, to eat it. This way, I have given myself permission to splurge so I don’t have to crave it, but now there is no way for me to get seconds!
Snacking. Everyone loves snacking. I like to snack on fresh berries and nuts. As noted before, read the label. Make sure they are low in sodium and sugars.
Alcohol! I much prefer to eat chocolate, so I don’t have much alcohol in my diet.
Overall, as a climber, I eat a lot of protein and try to limit empty calories (mainly, sugars).
Here are two of my FAVORITE recipes
Snippy Stew: Simple, Easy, and High in Protein
Barley and Farro
No Sodium Tomato Sauce (warning: it will taste different the first few times but eventually you’ll get used to it)
Sanford Sandwich: Great crag food
2 slices of sprouted grain bread (often has 4 grams of protein a slice)
Mixed Nut Butter
Trader Joe’s Ancient Grain and Seed Mix
Fig butter (or another jelly substitute)