|the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth
I’m not a doctor. Though I reference some who are, I trust that you will remain responsible for your own actions, and that you will do your own research before diving into any of the practices shared. This is my story and these are the resources that work for me and my lifestyle. Please take everything with a grain of salt, but also don’t downplay the flavor one grain of salt can add to your life. Keep it simple - find health - remain satisfied.
Food, nutrition, yums, noms - there are many names for the tasty morsels I love so dearly. Sitting down to write this final Pillar of Health was tougher than the others. I popped a homemade Cacao Avocado Truffle in my mouth and decided that it was now or never…actually, it was now or tomorrow, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t wait until the last minute. So without further ado, let’s dive into the final Pillar of Health - Nutrition.
Discussing nutrition is always a challenging subject to digest. The conversation generally full of words that don’t taste very good and aren’t sugar coated. When you think about it, talking about food is like discussing life and death. So whenever someone tells us that we shouldn’t eat this or shouldn’t eat that, it’s understandable that we get huffy and our eyes glaze over like a Krispy Cream Donut. These health nuts are trying to kill you with good nutrition! No no, not really, but it feels that way sometimes. So before I go any further with my personal food journey, rest assured - I love food more than you.
Ha, I can already imagine my partner Leah spitting her egg taco all over the screen with that bold statement. But I must ask, did your father find you hiding in the fridge as a kid? He said that my excuse was that I wanted to be closer to the food, period. So, I may not love food more than you; but, trust me when I say that I love food as much as you do. I’m on your team, and at the end of day I want you to live a long life, full of food. Let’s take a closer look at my approach to nutrition.
Before you get offended by some of my practices or stats below, let me say - Thank You! - thank you for sticking with me during the month of January. The Pillars of Health blog posts are not my usual, wandering through the woods, ramblings; but without these foundations, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do. So again, thank you for reading. Now, into the depths…
My nutrition values:
During my wee-years (3-6 years old) both of my parents were extremely focused on quality nutrition for me and my two brothers - think homemade formula from coconuts and dates. As I got older, I slipped on the same slope that most kids tumbled down, the sugar path. Whenever we came upon some money, we would run down to the Dollar General where we invested our legal tender into lollipops and candy bars. Looking back, I believe our motivation to venture to the store was founded in a deeper desire for adventure and reward. In case you were wondered, candy wasn’t a good investment.
As time slipped on, I drifted further from the healthy foundation that my parents so carefully poured, and continued down the path that was advertised to me - juicy fast food and energy liquids wrapped in a convenient package for only $0.99 cents. It wasn’t until I was laying in the hospital with broken ribs and lacerated liver that I manifested what nutrition and quality meant in my life, not the traditional route discovering this type of stuff. I’d nearly lost the one body I’d get, there was no stumbling upon or financing another one. It raised the question, how was I treating this one vessel I’d been gifted? My nutrition plan changed with my paradigm, my nutrition became a direct reflection of my values.
The only problem was that I still held onto a belief, an excuse, that quality nutrition was out of my financial sphere. I couldn’t afford to be healthy. Come to find out, I was only lying to myself.
Simple, Quality Food
While living in my van between thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and cycling across America, I tested a goal to eat primarily organic for less than $10 dollars a day, with no refrigerator. The results, I remained healthy, lean and proved to myself that I didn’t have to be rich to eat well. In fact, I was eating better than before. How did I do this? I ate simple.
I would often eat a sleeve of eight bananas in a sitting. At $0.74 a pound for organic, that only cost me two or three dollars. I remember noting that two bananas ended up being cheaper than a snickers. From there I would cook organic rice - adding sweet potatoes, onions, beans or some other highly nutritious vegetable or nut. Vegetables ended up being the right investment in health, not a liability like processed sugar. I have a number of friends who are getting their vegetables for affordable rates by joining local CSA farms, this helps you and helps your local farmers. Double win. I look forward to being apart of a CSA, if I stay in one place long enough.
By taking the simple is more approach I not only ate better quality food for less money, it took my appreciation of recipes and home cooked meals to a whole new level. One of my favorite meals on Mt. LeConte is simply garlic and red potatoes sautéed in raw coconut oil, drizzled with lemon juice and topped with a pinch of Maldon sea salt.
But Seth, you didn’t mention any meat. Are you a vegetarian? The short answer is, no. I eat eggs and meat, but I limit the frequency of red meat. This is mainly because meat production is extremely water intensive - it’s already bad enough that we flush our refuse down the drain with potable drinking water, and with serious water issues already developing in the south-west, I’m voting with my dollar and limiting my meat purchases.
If you’ve ever sat down with me for a meal, you’ll notice that I consume everything with zeal, including gifted foods that I don’t often buy for myself - I’m always happy, never guilty. That’s because I stick to my own diet, the B+ diet. Technically, a B+ is 87%-89% correct, healthy, nutritious. Often, we aim for A+’s on our new diets. I don’t believe that works because only accepting perfection ends up leading to guilt if you lapse, which leads to failure, which leads to quitting. I’d rather be disciplined 88% of the time and not stress the little bumps along the way. By limiting my processed dairy, sugar, and grain consumption, I’m getting A’s and B’s without even trying. There are heaps and heaps of articles, videos, and research discussing the finer details of nutrition, but I’m not a doctor and this is just what I do. I encourage you to start asking questions about different food. Pair those questions with a bit of research and you’re well on your way to creating your own fueling plan.
Here are a couple videos I’m watching right now:
— After 17 years of competitive running and experiencing various failures and successes, Jeff developed a methodical and scientific approach to nutrition and training that has allowed him to bring the best out of his athletic performance.
I started fasting regularly after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The day I decided to started fasting is still vivid in my mind. It was almost five-o-clock in the afternoon and the realization struck that I hadn’t eaten anything that day. I felt fine. My psych took over - what if I die!? I reeled the fears in with two quick questions and their answers, How did people eat before the three-meal a day system? How did the famed ancient Greeks and Romans eat? It didn’t take long to find out that the three-meal a day approach is a more recent phenomenon; and in fact, Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal day. Confident that I wasn’t going to keel over and die. I began eating during a 4-6 hour window every day.
After the first week of this fueling approach, I noticed that I no longer graved food during the intervals my body had become accustomed to - 6:00am, 12:00pm, 6:00pm. Another thing that I noticed was that, because more blood was available for other functions of the body, my head became very clear and my thinking very sharp - my energy levels were higher than before. The big bonus was that I only had to get my meals right once a day, which made hitting a B+ even easier. I quickly found myself on the honor-role and haven’t looked back.
Please, please and one more please, do your own research before trying any type of fasting. I’ve provided a solid starting point; but again, please do your own research and make your own informed decisions. Many thank’s.
Well, you’ve made it to the end. Like I said at the beginning of this blog post - thank you for sticking around and learning more about my foundational Pillars of Health. At a distance the four Pillars may seem somewhat irrelevant or too basic, but like a proper foundation these pillars hold up the structure I base my lifestyle on. Tasks like carrying 110# pounds of water from the spring, descending 5,000 feet to check my mail, and tromping out to sunrise/sunset everyday wouldn’t be nearly as fun if there wasn’t an investment in other aspects of my life. I did my best to keep the information concise and pertinent for both you and myself. People always ask me how I approach my training, diet, etc. Now, there is a place I can send them. If only one sentence from the last four blog post had a positive effect on you, I’ll considered my job complete. Thanks again and I look forward to seeing you up the trail.