It’s no secret that eating the right healthy diet is a recipe for success as an athlete, especially a Tough Mudder Pro Team athlete. But here's the deal: I also have a sweet tooth. And I believe that there’s nothing wrong with finding a balance between healthy eating and allowing the occasional treat for the hard work I put in to training. Cooking and baking are a huge passion of mine, and I love food too much to have a really regimented and restricted diet. I’d go crazy if I couldn’t bake or eat the things I bake, and it would take away from my love for my career as an athlete. Part of the reason I exercise is so that I can indulge in a treat and feel I’ve earned it.
I won’t eat a whole tub of ice cream in one sitting, but one serving size of a half cup after dinner once a week contributes to the sanity that keeps a healthy diet maintainable. I don’t have any dietary restrictions, such as being vegan, or dairy- or gluten-free, because my body doesn’t seem to have any adverse reactions to those ingredients. I’ve tried cutting them out and didn’t feel any better or worse, so I didn’t see a point in restricting myself. (I did try being vegetarian for a few months, but actually found it very difficult to maintain the protein and iron intake necessary, and I lacked energy.)
So what, exactly, do I eat? Here’s a typical day (note: I generally consume around 2400 calories. I've worked with a nutritionist to calculate that my macros should be around 15%-20% protein, 25-30% fat and 55-60% carbohydrates):
Two pieces of toast (usually on homemade bread, if I can find the time) with honey, almond butter, or jam and cheese
Fresh fruit (rasberries, grapefruit, or in-season strawberries are favorites!)
A smoothie, including banana, blueberries, strawberries, or rasberries, coconut milk, homemade juice, and Greek yogurt
Salad, including kale or spinach grown in the garden, all sorts of veggies, goats cheese, and nuts
One of These Typical Pre-Dinner Snacks
Homemade granola and berries with coconut milk or Greek yogurt
Bowl of homemade soup if it’s winter time
A very large amount of watermelon or several fruits
A charcuterie board with lots of different pickled things and cheeses if there’s company over
Sesame-ginger marinated salmon, baked sweet potato, grilled brussel sprouts with walnuts and dried cranberries, and vegetable-packed salad
A slice of homemade dark chocolate-chip banana bread with Greek yogurt
Find a diet that works for you, and that you can maintain for the long-haul. Living a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be a chore—it needs to be sustainable and enjoyable. Thank your body for the hard work you put it through and all it does for you with healthy eats, but don’t forget to thank your soul, too.