A Brief History of my Nutritional Journey

When I was a college student in Colorado..before Karen swept me off my feet…I used to hang out with a rag tag dirt bag crew of local climbers who prided themselves on their ability to shun normal responsibilities like jobs to ensure more free time up at the boulders.   I did my best to keep up with the lifestyle, pursuing courses that I found to be both interesting and would potentially end at noon everyday…leaving me ample time for an afternoon of bouldering.  See at Colorado College, we took One class at a time for three weeks, with a week off in between. This can make your experience there a whole lot of fun or not so much.  I chose to study Sculpture which to this day my parents will convince you was a decision purely based on my passion to be out climbing rather than studying.  Karen was a geology major which as interesting as it sounds, meant mornings in class and afternoons in the lab looking at rocks. Not to mention the geology department at Colorado College was one of the best in the country and to me that meant..seriously hard! I just really liked to climb rocks anyway and appreciate their natural beauty and sculptural lines. I only had a casual interest in how they got there.

I’m getting off point here, but pretty much when me and my crew weren’t climbing we were hanging out at “the cave”. The Cave was  my friend &  fellow climber, Dana’s drive-thru coffee bar… otherwise known as CaveMan Coffee.   The cave was legendary during its heyday and we all loved it because the coffee was amazing and it was free!  Anyway, Dana offered a collection of espresso based coffee drinks of every flavor imaginable.  This was obviously the bulk of his business.  He did have a few baked goods to offer but pretty much everyone only wanted the coffee.  Pretty soon the muffins would start to pile up after a few days and you know how hard it is to sell “day olds”.  I think it was my buddy Noah (now an avid Crossfit coach and hot shot forest firefighter in Flagstaff, AZ)  who came up with the idea for the muffin challenge, pronounced in french style muffin (shall- pause- lawn- ja).  The idea was to go head to head with a buddy. Each had to eat a muffin and match each muffin with drinking a “tall” glass of whole milk.  The person who consumed  more muffins and milk was the winner.  Vomiting was an automatic loss, I believe even the winner had to hold in the contents for at least an hour for it to be legit.  This Challenge was a welcome and free way to stock up on calories for those of us who had little money or care for what they consumed.

Looking back on my whole nutritional intake during those college years is an absolute trip…A highlight reel would definitely include 3 gallon jars of vlasic pickles eaten by the fistful, tang as a beverage of choice, Cheez-its galore, cold cuts by the pound and beef, beef and more beef. We were cutting edge with the beef…pretty much celebrating “beef” nights a few times a week where we would buy 5 pound tubes of ground chuck and eat it all. I once did a week long surf trip to Baja, where my whole caloric content was achieved through Little Debbies nutty bars because perishable food was well…perishable and that’s no good right?   And who could forget  all the drum cigarettes we rolled as we rested between attempts of hard boulder problems.  The climbs were super short and we pretty much held our breathe anyway, so  our need for long effort capacity was nada..plus I was an endurance Athlete in high school and had some lung tissue to spare. As my doctor said to me while I was a senior, “you have a big heart. And it pumps A LOT of blood very efficiently”  My resting heart rate during those years was 36 beats per minute which is 6 beats above what it takes to sustain life I was once told..So i thought I’d be the picture of health forever pretty much.

It really wasn’t till I started to hang around with Karen that I started to increase my consumption of fast food.  Lucky for us, Colorado Springs was a Hot Bed of fast food options with most in high competition to offer many items under a dollar. Ideal for a college student or dirt bag climber. Remember that run McDonalds had with the 39 cent Cheeseburgers and 29 cent Hamburgers? Why even bother with the hamburgers?.. unless your really broke!  Those were good times! Pretty much Karen and I would meet for lunch in her white honda. Some days it was Arbys, some days Taco Bell, some Wendys or Karen’s favorite..Popeyes.  More often than not it was the golden arches, winning our hearts and spare change in exchange for a tasty treat and a romantic mid day drive.

Think I’m kidding about Karen being my accessory to bad habits. Think Again! She once tripped the whole electrical system in her college dorm because she was frying homemade  fried dough in a wok in her room. I will  take some of the blame as my appetite does not discriminate. My mom describes post college visits  to her kitchen and pantry as ” it’s as if a ravenous bear has come through here”.  Others in the past have coined me flatteringly as “a garbage disposal”.

Fast forward 10 years with moderate to little change in our eating habits..  We had maintained a fairly active lifestyle between surfing, climbing and running since we graduated college.  I just had just found CrossFit and was loving it.  I was feeling good and getting noticeably stronger and hitting pr’s all the time.  I felt like I was on the up and up from training.  Then I went to have a physical.  The lab results were not good. I was dumbfounded. WTF??? I was kicking ass at crossFit, running a bunch and just leading a super active life.  In a doctor version of “scared strait” my physician was grilling me on what I ate…”meat” I told him.  He said “your a meat and potatoes guy”…”just meat” I replied. What I left out was all the processed carbs I ate and that my caloric consumption was  pretty huge. Anyway, he gave me some flyers on nutrition explaining the FDA food pyramid which in retrospect is pretty funny now. But basically that was my AH HA moment that what goes in really does matter.  No matter how good you look and feel on the outside..its what’s going on on the inside that really matters! So think about that in the final Month of the Paleo Challenge.  I know I got a little overzealous with all the paleo “treats” in the past few weeks.  Keep in mind they’re still “treats” and are not substitutes for the basics of lean meats and vegetables.

I think the last challenge changed a lot of peoples lives. I still find it hard to pass certain things up, but on the whole I am a lot better as I know my brain function, performance and recovery all excel on paleo. Karen is working at a farm every morning because of her curiosity about food origin and quality..all derived from the last challenge.  Make good choices for the next month and the Cash could be yours…

*last minute fun facts on McDonalds..in an ironic seinfeldian twist, Americas downfall with nutrition coincided nicely with the fact that my grandfather purchased stock in McDonalds way back in the day and it was that stock that helped pay the bulk of my college tuition! Like my ski coach always used to say..”with misfortune comes opportunity”

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