Posted on October 21, 2014 in Success Stories

How a Plant-Based Diet Helped Me Become an Endurance Athlete

I’ve lived most of my adult life on a roller-coaster weight cycle of chubby to fat back to chubby. Although I was an avid ice hockey player, getting to a normal weight was very difficult. In early 2000 I almost lost my life to a perforated peptic ulcer. After recovering, I never took eating for granted … and eat I did! Late in 2009, my weight ballooned to over 180 lbs. I felt weak and unmotivated and desperately needed a spark. After seeing an online ad for the 2010 LA Marathon, I decided to take on the challenge. I had less than four months to lose some weight, train, and finish my first marathon on my 37th birthday.

I transformed from an overweight guy who had never run a mile to a marathon finisher and finally back to a normal weight … MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, right??

Nope!

As a runner, my body craved calories from all my long training sessions, and I slowly started gaining back the weight I had lost during the marathon training. I justified eating anything I craved, because of all the calories I burned. Boy was I wrong! My fuel was the good old standard American (SAD) diet. I was well aware of the “calories in, calories out” concept, but I was not aware of “garbage in, garbage results.” At the time, I made convenience my priority, not realizing the repercussions of eating highly processed foods!

My journey to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle started after watching Forks Over Knives in early 2012. The documentary struck a chord with me, and a light bulb came on: I needed to get ‘vegucated.” Luckily, after searching for a local vegan restaurant on Yelp, I befriended Kevin Tran, the owner/chef of Vinh Loi Tofu, a popular vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. Kevin Tran is also a plant-based endurance athlete. With his help and several introductions to a few notable “vegucated” people, my journey began.

My plant-based transition process was slow; I started with Meatless Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. As I weaned myself from processed foods and animal products, my energy level skyrocketed!! My physical recovery from all the endurance training was amazingly fast. I gave myself bigger challenges with endurance sports, from century bike rides to multiple ultramarathon distance-training runs. My body never felt better, and the weight was no longer an issue. Then I needed a bigger endurance challenge … Ironman it was!

I took on the Ironman distance triathlon challenge in November of 2012 and signed up not knowing how to swim. But I knew that my whole-food, plant-based lifestyle made anything possible! I ran the 2013 LA Marathon in March, and with only four days to recover; I ran 40 miles for my 40th birthday. All this was possible due to my body’s new ability to recover so quickly. On November 17, 2013, I swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, and ran 26.2 miles to cross the Ironman finish line.

Now that I’m on a plant-based/vegan diet, I’ve been able to maintain a healthy balanced weight and challenge my body to its limits. I’m currently in training for a 50-mile ultramarathon … fueled by plants!

Thank you, Forks Over Knives. I have gained so much knowledge and understanding and formed lifelong friendships in the vegan community after watching the film.

With weekly meal plans, Forks Meal Planner takes the hard work out of making nutritious, plant-based meals the whole family will enjoy.

Healthy eating shouldn’t be a hassle.