I’m having my biennial get in shape session. It seems every couple of years I get motivated to start exercising again, and make fitness a lasting part of life once and for all. Typically these efforts last from a few weeks to a few months, whereupon I get content to do hardly anything for a very comfortable year or so, until the guilt or the scale prompts the whole effort to start up again.
I know this is no way to approach fitness. I know all the arguments for having it be a lasting permanent part of my life. I know I should have good healthy activities built into my daily routine, like walking my imaginary dogs for two miles every day, or getting off the bus a few stops early. I know that I should treasure the temple that is my body and treat it with good whole foods in abundant quantities. I know that I’m no better than a yo-yo dieter losing the same fifteen pounds over and over again and watching them creep right back one hearty meal at a time. But I find leading an overly healthy lifestyle a big bore. And I’m lazy, and my body is not the biggest fan of exercise. The endorphin rush? Never heard of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t gorge on high fat foods and chocolate bars every day, I ski and shovel snow in the winter, and I park at the far end of the parking lot and ride my bike (at least twice) in the summer, but when I’m going on a fitness spree there’s so much more involved. First off, I make a point of exercising at least five times per week, not one or two as is typical, I make a point of eating five or six small meals a day, not two and a half large ones. I increase my consumption of veggies, greens and supplements dramatically, which brings me to the point of this post.
Since eating actual five or six meals per day is beyond the cooking and time abilities of most people, athletes who need to eat that often typically rely on meal replacement shakes and bars. Some of these are hardly more than the human equivalent of crappy cat food – full of fillers, mystery chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and token vitamins. Some are pretty good for you mixes of quality nutrient sources, and there’s a newcomer on the scene, from Canada no less, that is a veritable powerhouse of nutrition.
Developed by a BC vegan Ironman triathlete to provide a vegan source of high quality nutrients and proteins it contains some of the most helpful and unusual ingredients I’ve ever seen in a meal replacement: hemp, lentil and brown rice protein (with all the amino acids), all your EFA’s, fiber, fructo-oligosaccharides, mixed berry complex blend (antioxidants), full serving of maca (for stamina, alkaloids, minerals and hormone balancing), probiotics, digestive enzymes, and a full complement of vitamins and minerals. Sounds super healthy doesn’t it? I mean do you get a full serving of ANY of the above items in your diet every day? I sure don’t. The only caveat? It tastes awful. How awful? Awful enough that it prompted my gag reflex, which I think is sensitive to stevia, a natural sweetener that has a medicinal aftertaste.
Why would I go through the trouble of drinking something awful? Because I noticed the benefits immediately. Like day 2. Being a veteran of hard workouts I’ve noticed a familiar pattern: after the first few days of exercise my muscles ache, I get tired, shivery and weak and for about two to three weeks I feel depleted (unlike the uranium in Iran apparently), and drained. I know my body is telling me that either the effort needs to be decreased or the nutrient uptake has to go up, and since my efforts aren’t that impressive to begin with, I try to work with the nutrients. My body is simply unable to cope with the increased demands of exercise and is not shy about telling me to fix it. Multivitamins seem to have little effect, neither do power bars, shakes, or a brief experiment with super-greens. But this stuff went to work immediately and deeply. After day 1 of a brutal workout (I’ve started P90X for those of ya who know what that’s all about), I woke up properly stiff, but not sore, and I had ENERGY. Lots of it. Enough to complete workout number two, and three and four. In fact it wasn’t until day five that I needed a break due to sore leg muscles, which is a personal record.
So the stuff works no doubt about it. Now what to do about the taste? Well, after a week of experimenting I’m here to tell you the magic formula:
Add ONE scoop of Vanilla whey protein powder, a half up of almond milk and a half cup of water. Shake. It will taste something like thick chocolate milk. Maybe a vegan chocolate milk, but so much better than just the powder alone. And it will be worth it. Especially with the flu season upon us, the immune system can use a little boost, and with me exercising like a mad woman (as long as it lasts), the nutrient support is well worth it. In fact I will probably continue drinking this year round while writing letters to the manufacturer imploring them to improve the taste.
How are your exercise habits? Do you get enough? If so, how?
**Disclaimer** I have NO relationship with this company, other than sending them imploring e-mails to fix this great product.