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  • Writer's pictureSarah Fraser

Plant powered athlete

It's the start of a new year when many people, myself included, are wanting to up their health game. I'm not one to make concrete resolutions but I do like to set goals for myself. Often, one of these goals is to hit the gym more often. For some, it's to start a workout regimen. My workout of choice is Orange Theory and this week, the place is bursting with returning members and an influx of new members. New Year's resolutions are in full swing!

Before becoming plant empowered, I found myself climbing out of bed in the morning with achy hips and joints. I was barely 40 at the time, not carrying excess weight but I chalked it up to simply growing older, or my daily running or sometimes, on the 3 kids I birthed from my body (I can be good at blaming others for my faults and weaknesses!). I was speaking with a vegan friend of mine, older than myself who looked fantastic for her age. I was explaining my morning ritual of aches and pains to her and ruminating on whether this was a normal part of the aging process. She looked at me and told me point-blank that she didn't experience that and she didn't think this "normal". Who was she to tell me this?! Doesn't everyone in their 40s experience this after all?

Well, fast forward a couple of years into this plant-based lifestyle and I can now tell you that I feel completely differently. I challenge myself harder in workouts now than I ever did in my 20s and my recovery is so much better. I can row thousands of kilometers on the rower, run miles on the treadmill and deadlift 30 pound weights and wake up with no joint discomfort. I really do attribute this to eating a more alkaline, less inflammatory diet. I believe that all of the animal protein, cheeses, yogurts, milk I used to consume was causing inflammation in my body and slowing down its ability to recover (and yes, there is good science to back this up).

More and more professional athletes are discovering the benefits of a plant-based diet. Athletes like Lewis Hamilton (formula 1 race car driver), Scott Jurek (world-elite ultra marathon runner), Mac Danzig (MMA fighter), David Carter (NFL football player), Venus and Serena Williams (we all know who they are!). In fact, Venus, switched to a raw vegan diet to help her battle an autoimmune disease called Sjögren's syndrome. Carl Lewis, multi-Olympic medallist, adopted a vegan diet to prepare for the World Championships in 1991. He says he ran the best meet of his life that year. You name it, in every sport from boxing to body building, more athletes are switching over for good reason.

I no longer accept pain and discomfort as a by-product of aging. I actually feel myself getting stronger in many ways. I want to be that grandmother who can run laps with my grandchildren some day. I want decades ahead of me where I can continue skiing, wake boarding and running. This is more than possible. We just have to give our bodies the right fuel for the engine.

This is me post Orange Theory workout eating my favourite post workout snack - steel cut oatmeal loaded with nuts and berries. At the end of class, the fitness coaches usually remind us to go eat some protein. For me, this is always the protein of choice!

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