Don’t Ask Him Where He Gets His Protein

Our next guest is a road warrior. When he started dating my old roommate over 7 years ago he was a vegetarian, and not the ‘mac n cheese’ kind.

Today he is thriving as a vegan.

He knows his body. He pushes his body.

I know many athletes can do equally well but with a meat based plate.  What I find so intriguing is that he kicks serious butt with a plant based plate. (See, I told you my next few guests would be widely different, and still more to come!)  When Corin and I would be recovering on the couch cuddled up with our dogs he would be discovering new routes around our house on the bike he brought with him. What I would consider to be one of my long rides is his warm-up.

There are a few things that get people going these days- politics and how you feed yourself. Seriously strong emotions come out when you start talking meat vs plate based lifestyles! Maybe you tried being vegetarian at some point, I did. I have many friends who choose this lifestyle for the health benefits but also for the ethical treatment of animals. I hope everyone is able to get something out of it- even if its just trying to understand something unfamiliar to you.

I’m pleased to be able to share with you another well educated passionate perspective. Its all about finding what works for you, everyone is different.

I introduce Jayson Torres:IMG_3035

Tell us about your journey to where you are today

Growing up in a Hispanic house, we were taught to believe that a well-balanced meal meant that whatever we were eating needed to have meat, lots of meat, and here have some more meat.  Call it part of the culture or call it years of social conditioning where society dictated that meat and dairy needed to be the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle.

I was an active child, growing up in Bucks County, PA.  My childhood years were spent playing school sports ( track , wrestling, cross country).  I was also part of a group of kids that used to organize pick basketball games and baseball games at the local park.  Summers in my town were never boring.  I recall riding my bike everywhere as well.  We would ride to the neighboring towns, 20-30 miles roundtrip.  With all of this activity, I developed an early understanding on the importance of feeding my body correctly, or what I assumed to be correct.   I continued this nutritional mindset well into my late 20’s.  During this time I started getting into cycling more with interest in getting as fit, lean, and efficient as I could be.  During this transitional period, I started to notice that getting lean wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be.  I was never over weight, but I needed to drop some weight if I was to be fast, on the bike.  The watts:kilo concept was introduced to me via some information I found online regarding cycling at a high level.  The idea is for a cyclist to be as light as possible while maintain their power output.  As the weight comes off, the w:k value increases.

I was all in, once I read this and so I began my journey into transforming my body, and mind.

Through my journey of discovering what not to do, when trying to get fit, I realized that the all the years of being taught the values of “good nutrition” were all wrong.  I started to look into alternative nutritional methods and the value of eating less animal products.  I slowly started to wean myself off the chicken, fish, and dairy I was used to eating.  This went on for several years, eating less and less animal product.  I then saw a few documentaries that showed how adopting a diet rich in plants and without meat was helping sick people get healthy, lose weight, and essentially live longer.

After seeing how individuals were able to make such positive changes just be removing all animal products from their food,  I thought, this is what I needed to… go all the way and cut out all the animal product completely.  After all, I was already starting to feel the positive effects of cutting out most of my meat consumption.  The weight was coming off and I was feeling more alive and full of energy.  Always one to need more, I started looking deeper in the long-term health benefits of going vegan.  Through this research, I was introduced to the writings of Dr. Mcdougal and Dr. Barnard.   This was the last tooth in the cog that I needed to cement my belief in the value of having a plant based diet.

Now here I am almost 40 years old, and I can honestly say that I feel as in or in better shape than I did in my 20’s.  Feelings are subjective, data is objective.  As the years pass, I have watched my weight maintain while being able to lose any needed weight, effortlessly.

I kid no one, when I say that the best way to get lean and stay lean and healthy, long-term, is to stop the social norm of eating meat and dairy.   Going vegan was the best decision I have ever made.

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My son and I joined Corin in cheering Jayson on as he crossed the finish line last summer. 175 miles across WI in one day! WOW

What are your food beliefs

My food belief is simple, vegan.   Remove the animal proteins and you remove all of the health related issues that come with it.  I believe food should be enjoyed, eaten and without regret.  I can tell you that I eat the same all year around, regardless of activity level.  I have learned to eat until I am full and that’s pretty much it.  It’s fairly simple, no tricks, no gimmicks, just plants.   I believe food is energy.

The plants I eat today, will be the energy I use tomorrow to get stuff done at work, home, and on the bike.

IMG_3030I believe that society should revisit their views on food.  Everywhere we look we see, cut calories, cut portions, eat less, all while some big dollar company is trying to push energy drinks loaded with chemicals that you need a Phd to pronounce.  I say, let’s all go back to basics, eating a plant rich diet loaded with fruits, rice, potatoes, and all the carbohydrates your doctor is telling you to eat less of, while setting his own personal best for number of scripts written for the year.  I could talk about this all day!!!

What is lighting you up at the moment? (books, music, podcasts, people, places, products…)

Currently, I am trying to learn the German language, as much as I can, as quickly as possible.  I will be traveling to Germany, for business, in the upcoming months and will be there for 3 months. How does one say “ no milk, no meat, please”?  So, I am currently streaming language tutorials on familiarizing and recognizing key phrases I think I will need, during my stay.

I also, while listen to talks given by Dr McDougal or Dr. Barnard.  Their videos can be found on YouTube.  I am on a Hanz Zimmer kick, at the moment.  For those who don’t know who he is, he’s only one of the greatest film scorers of all time, Dark Knight, Pearl Harbor, Gladiator, to name a few.  EPIC!  Few things tune out the noise of office clatter better than some Zimmer.

What is your morning routine?

My morning routine is pretty simple, but changes depending on time of the year.  Being a cyclist, I ride all year around.  When the weather is less than ideal, I will ride indoors on a fixed trainer.  During the cold cold Wisconsin winter months, I will do a ride in the morning at home, before work.  Nothing is better than those early morning rides.  They really get me ready for whatever the work day brings.  It’s always a good way to keep any unwanted winter weight off.  These workouts will go on for several months, or until I am able to ride longer outside during the work week.  During the “off season” I will typically ride 1-1.5hrs indoors, dividing it among am and pm rides.

As the weather improves, I will gradually ride less in the am but ride longer, post-work.  During the weekend I will get out on the road as early and ride anywhere from 2-5 hours, depending on what I am doing that year.  This year, being that I will be out of the country for most of the summer-fall months, I will only be doing one organized event The Horribly Hilly Hundred.  It’s an epic ride that is 200k long with almost 11,000 feet of climbing.  So I am currently preparing for that.   Imagine training and riding that on a low carb diet!

While my workouts change depending on the time of the year, one thing never does.

 I start every morning drinking I liter of water.

That’s right, first thing out of bed, down the hatch it goes.  Proper hydration is so important to being healthy and feeling healthy.  I really do believe that the vast majority of society is under hydrated.  I see more soda cans and coffee drinks being held, than I do water bottles.  Crazy!

Today I am grateful for…

I am grateful for a lot of things my kids(he has twin high school boys) , my girlfriend and  many more, too many to list here.  However, I do want to say that today, a thought crossed my mind.  While it may have been a fleeting one, at that moment, later in the day it returned.  During my ride today, I passed  several convenient stores, and a grocery store that was chock full of cars.  “We live in a country where the majority of us don’t have to worry about where our next meal is going to come from”, was the thought that crossed my head.  I was reminded of this thought when I got home and cracked open the fridge and went for some much needed nourishment.  It’s true, we are truly blessed, lucky, or however you want to spin, to have what we have… we really are.

 

I asked him to elaborate on a few nuggets you could take with you:

  • His carbs come from the ground, not a processing plant- rice, potatoes, whole grains, and lots of fruit. He emphasizes that he eats less of them during the months he is riding less.
  • He really believes fat makes you fat; not carbs. To him a low carb/high fat diet means low energy and heart attack.
  • Cooking at home is the best thing you can do if you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. ( I happen to know that his girlfriend, my friend and old roommate, is an excellent cook) They eat a lot of rice based curries, stir fries, and veggie pasta dishes.

His top 3 tips for those who would like to go vegetarian/vegan:

  1. Keep it simple.  Eating should never be about making life difficult.  Find what works for you by establishing a base palate, then move on from there.  But just keep it simple.
  2. Stay away from foods high in fat.   I think that is the most common mistake people make when they try to make the switch.  Remember, just because the outer packaging say “vegan”, doesn’t really mean it’s good for you.  Read the labels, if you see lots of fatty oils, and other things that you could find in a bottle of weed killer, stay away.  Go for packaged foods that have simple ingredients in them, things you recognize.
  3. Don’t fall into the social disapproval trap.  People will be vocal about your change.  I can tell you I hear it all the time, and my decision to go vegan happened years ago!  I chalk it up to them knowing they could be or should be making better food choices, but aren’t.  Kind of like that “sour grapes” mentality.  Stick to your guns. Once you start feeling and looking better, it will all click for you. 

    Thank you Jayson!

    I am visualizing him at work with a sweeping epic score playing in my head, lol.  I have been jokingly referring to my latest spotlights as “The Men of Steep.” Health and wellness is a buzz phrase lately but it is resonating with women and men alike. These guys, even considering how far they are across the spectrum, are impressive. Not only with how well spoken they are but with the dedication to their bodies. This is exactly why I love learning about how people live, eat, fuel their bodies- to selfishly inspire me.

Steeping in Hans Zimmer on Spotify,

Tori

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