I used to live on sugary cereal, whole milk, pizza, candy, cheeseburgers, soda, french fries and ice cream. I thought I was eating food that was fueling my body but I was very wrong. I was taking down calories just to fill my stomach and get me through the day. I never thought about vitamins, minerals, macro and micro nutrients. I didn’t know what a phytonutrient was, nevermind a gluten free whole grain. I used to make food choices out of speed and convenience.
Food is energy. It should not have the same effect as tylenol PM. I have learned that food is also medicine. We are what we eat and I used to look like a fat, swollen, antibiotic riddled, greasy cheeseburger.
The energy source in plant based food is simple. A seed is planted in the soil, it absorbs water and nutrients from the soil, it absorbs the energy of the sun and a plant begins to grow. Whether it is fruit or veggies, the plant changes colors and provides vitamins and minerals for us to pick and eat. The soil, water, and the sun's energies are harnessed in the fruit and provide us with the essentials to living a clean life. Animals raised in dark factory cages can not provide the same energy source that plants do. Everything that started as a seed can not be matched by a box of mac and cheese.
I graduated from St. Michael's College in Winooski, VT in 2003 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Business. I played 4 years of Division 2 lacrosse and was captain my senior year. I had always been an athlete as a kid, playing basketball, ice hockey, football, lacrosse, and running cross country track. After college, I started a career as a bartender and carpenter in and around NYC. In the summer of 2011, I was sworn into the Yonkers Fire Department.
I got into the sport of triathlon because of my sister Caitlin. She decided she needed a goal for herself, to set out and change up her stale work out routine. She joined Team in Training and signed up for her first Olympic distance triathlon, the Jarden Westchester Triathlon in Rye, NY. The race consists of a 1 mile swim, a 25 mile bike and 6.2 mile run.
I attended with my family that Sunday morning and vividly remember cheering all the athletes on as they swam, biked and ran around the greater Rye, NY area. As Cate came running down the finisher's shoot and crossed the finish line, I was unbelievably proud of her, jazzed up with excitement and immediately thought to myself, "this is a cool sport, I could do this."
2 years later I set out to do the same race, and I was hooked. As time went on, I thought the Olympic distance race ( 1 mile swim, 25 bike, 6.2 run) was the perfect way to mix up my boring workout routine, also, but never gave any thought to the longer triathlons. I thought people who went any longer than 2-3 hours of racing were crazy.
Fast forward to 2013 and I was signed up for my first half-ironman distance race, 70.3 miles, out in Montauk, NY. Prior to that race, I had been the heaviest in my life. I suffered shoulder injury in 2012 and was out of work, just sitting around on the couch for a few weeks and doing physical therapy. During this time, I battled with the symptoms of being inactive. I sat around on the couch drinking beers and eating cheeseburgers by the handful. I gradually and blindly hit the biggest number on the scale I had ever seen, I topped out at 235 lbs. After completing the Montauk Half ironman distance race, I thought to myself, "I didn't Die! I actually feel better from all the training!" I finished my first ever half ironman race just under 5 hours, 4:59:33, on a hilly course, which was a goal I had in mind. After the race, I rested, recovered and in just a few weeks I was looking for the next challenge. Just 1 month later, I was signed up and paid for Ironman Lake Placid 2014.
I set out at the start of the new year in 2014 and trained for 7 months from January to race day in July, for Ironman Lake Placid. I was 3 years on the job at the firehouse and eating whatever I wanted because I was putting in 7-12 hour training weeks; swimming, biking and running nearly everyday. I thought I was in the best shape of my life. Little did I know that I had a long way to go. I survived a treacherous, rainy, stormy and then hot day in Lake Placid, grinding out the 140.6 miles in 11 hours and 43 minutes. (That was my full time. Official results only counted 1/2 of the swim due to weather) A few weeks after the pain from Lake Placid wore off, I started looking for the next Ironman. How do I get faster? 2105 Mont Tremblant was on the radar.
My eyes were opened in July 2015 when I started to look past the 3 sports of triathlon for improvement, but looking to find the missing link. The 4th discipline in triathlon is fueling your body, on race day, but more importantly, day in and day out.
I was turned on to the Rich Roll Podcast in June of 2015 by my friend Steve Quinn. He simply said, "listen to the episode with David Cart r; The 300 pound Vegan and let me know what you think." It was a 2 hour chat between Rich and David, 2 athletes who explained the science behind proper nutrition. I took the knowledge and ran with it, I have never looked back.
I have been plant-based since the summer of 2015. My energy has increased, my performance in races reached new levels and my skin cleared up. I look better, feel better and sleep better. I am less sore because I recover faster, therefore I can train harder. My classic western diet was full of acidic and fatty food which are triggers for a laundry list of problems. Inflammation is the cause behind a lot of chronic pain. I became more flexible and all my old nagging injuries seemed to disappear. Even with all the running, my joints don’t hurt. The benefits are endless.
I was run over by a van when I was 4 years old and since then I have battled with digestive and stomach issues my entire adult life. The van rolled over my stomach and midsection when I tripped in a parking lot, resulting in 4 broken ribs, a bruised liver and spleen and some internal bleeding. Since I have changed my relationship with food and incorporated more plants and a higher fiber count, my childhood stomach issues have improved significantly.
Life is better when you are fueled by plants.