As common to many endurance athletes, my annual training plan revolves around an “A” race in terms of planning and preparation. My A race is traditionally the Pole, Peddle, Paddle in Bend, Oregon each May.This multi-sport race gives me the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of my hard work and measure my fitness level compared to previous years. After having done the PPP for the past decade, I knew that 2014 would be a challenge; the planning of a big wedding, becoming a husband and growing my own business were all on my "to do" list. But these responsibilities weren't even the half of it! As as the year progressed, I helped my wife through two knee surgeries, recovered from a grease burn on my foot and dealt with a severe case of detergent-induced dermatitis that required steroid treatment. If someone had told me beforehand that I would not only overcome these life stressors but go to set a new personal record in this year's Pole, Paddle, Pedal, I would have told them they were crazy.
How did my fitness level increase despite all the stress?
Smarter training, for sure; but I attribute much of my success to following the Core 4 Nutrition principles: Become a fat burner, use proven supplements on a regular basis and eat homemade food.
Hard workouts + hard work = inflammation.
When I start to notice the visible signs of inflammation, I know that it's time to recover and heal. As I grow older, I find that I'm even more susceptible to developing chronic, inflammatory issues when my body isn’t given proper care and nutrition.
It’s easy to believe the common misconception that "more is better." But more effort in the face of excessive inflammation only leads to dead-end workouts, injury and burnout. Thanks to Dr. Cohen, who turned me on to the importance of keeping my Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids high, I have used the Core 4 formulas to give my body the necessary support it needs to recover more fully and more completely. I've had to fight far fewer battles against inflammation and I've seen steady improvements in my personal performance for the past 3 years....
But my wife's response to Core 4 was even more dramatic!
After a micro-fracture treatment in August, she was on a full prescription of Vicodin for over 3 weeks following surgery to deal with the inflammatory pain. Assessments from Core 4 showed that she was deficient in both Vitamin D3 and Omega 3 fatty acids. She immediately started supplementation for both. Four months later, she had the identical surgery on the opposite knee. But this time, with a healthier supply of Vitamin D and Omega 3's in her body, she was completely off Vicodin just 3 days after;surgery.
I now understand that fat is my friend rather than my foe.
Don’t be misled; my body needs carbs as an endurance athlete. And I eat plenty of them. But I used to consume carbs in the absence of healthy fat. In fact, I used to avoid fat like it was a contaminated food. My blood sugar levels would rise and fall between workouts and meals. With Dr. Cohen’s encouragement, I’ve made consuming fat with each meal a priority. If it’s a salad, I’m covering it with olive oil, cottage cheese or homemade bacon bits. If it’s rice or steamed vegetables, I’m layering it with fresh butter. If I’m eating meat, I seek out beef and pork cuts rich in healthful, marbled fat. By following this fat-eating strategy, I’ve found that I can go for longer periods of time between meals with no low blood sugar head-aches, shakes, or sweet cravings. On days that I’m doing a 2nd workout, I have more stability after the stress at work to go make it happen. And when it does get to meal time, I have a clearer mind to make food selections that my body can benefit from.
Food is my medicine.
My "domestication" as a husband has been a positive thing. In 2013, my wife re-introduced me to the concept of regular, homemade meals, which I hadn't eaten since I left home for college. Although my mom raised me with home cooking and a salad every night, I spent the better part of the past 15 years eating out and eating quick. I always assumed that I didn’t have the time nor the skills to make and prepare healthy food. Thankfully, these views were shattered by my wife when she helped build a small pantry in my kitchen and encouraged me to look at a few cookbooks. As I recall, the featured, theme ingredient of my first cookbook purchase was bacon! She’s changed my food preparation vocabulary to include words like "easy," "fun," "savory" and "satisfying." I have learned that the secret to good leftovers is to make meals that taste good the first time. Now I look forward to going home for left-overs at lunch the day after one of our home-cooked dinners. For my body, this has meant fresher, more nutrient-rich food with no preservatives or artificial additives. I am also in complete control of my carb, protein and fat ratios. Making home-cooked meals is a page out of the Core 4 guide to peak human performance that might be too easily overlooked.
My eye is on the prize.
Armed with these simple, yet powerful, secrets I am convinced that regardless of what difficulties and challenges lie ahead, I am capable of taking my health and performance to an even higher level. Because I have learned to honor and satisfy my body's nutritional needs, I am already looking forward to next year's Pole, Paddle and Pedal knowing that there's a very real possibility it will be my fastest one yet!