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Holistic Living and Vegan Eating for an Ultra Athlete

Living holistically is not easy. Coolibar Athlete Gene Meade, in one day, decided his poor eating habits were over. He traded his quarter-pounder with cheese for a black bean veggie patty with sprouts on top, unaware at the time that his decision would lead to a whole new way of thinking about healthy living. Gene shares his experiences along the path to holistic living.

I have been vegan for three years now. It basically started for me as a good way to eat cleaner and drop some weight, but a funny thing happened along the way.

I had been a vegetarian back in my younger days, mainly as a response to my mother’s horrific cooking, which was primarily based on bacon fat and Velveeta cheese. As the years went by, I gradually fell off the vegetarian wagon and once again became a full time carnivore. Building a career, raising children and living the good life, the pounds slowly crept on as the exercise stopped and the hearty eating went on. I was not back to bacon fat and Velveeta levels, but I was getting close.

After returning to running and cycling back in 2008, I began to feel better, but I knew I could not get to where I needed to be health wise without making some major changes in diet and lifestyle as well. So, in 2010, I quit drinking and became a vegan all in the same day. Nothing like subtle change!

I basically became vegan and more focused on diet and lifestyle for selfish reasons. I wanted to take care of ME. But as I navigated my way along my new path, I discovered that I was not only becoming more in tune with my body, but also more in tune with the world and life around me. It was not any one large change but numerous small changes I was making along the way. Reading food labels, shopping at the local farmer’s market, recycling a bit more. I was also reconnecting with nature through trail running.

I was also feeling better than I had felt in a long time! I had increased energy, less colds and felt stronger. I started running ultra marathons in 2011. I enjoyed the physical and mental demands of the sport, and was racing and training all on a plant based diet, which tended to surprise a lot of people!

Becoming vegan not only made me feel better, but also made me become a better person. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know where my food was coming from, what was done to it along the way and what impact my choices made not just on me but on everything around me. It has also allowed me to meet and work with some great people and organizations, like my friends here at Coolibar. Being Sun aware is another way I stay in touch with the environment and my impact upon it.

Small changes can make a big difference, whether it’s eating healthier or finding an activity you love to stay in shape. Stay aware my friends!

Gene Meade
Ultra Runner and Coolibar Athlete

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burger from the Ambitious Kitchen (Click photo for recipe)
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Parenting

Get Outside and Play

What are you going to do with your summer? A question all kids must answer once the school year is over. If watching television, playing video games or surfing the web are your child’s top choices, it may be time to introduce some outdoor activities into their summer routine.  Good habits start early and active children become active adults, conquering obesity and sedentary behavior. Your kids will thank you for it.

When children engage in less structured outdoor play, they typically sustain moderately energetic activity over longer periods of time – the type of activity that is particularly important for health and fitness.  In addition, there is a growing body of research on how spending time outdoors benefits children’s development beyond the obvious physical benefits.  Those benefits include kids that are more imaginative, creative and cooperative.

If the children in your life need a little encouragement to put away their video games, we’ve got some ideas to get your kids excited about playing outside.

  • Plan an Interesting Place to Visit  – The backyard may be the easiest option to get children playing outside, but by planning a little, you can find other interesting places to take your children. Walk to a neighborhood park or visit a nature center or the zoo.
  • Have Fun While Moving Around – One of the great things about playing outside is that most of the time, your kids are concentrating so hard on having fun, they don’t even realize how much effort and energy they’re using. Fly a kite at the park, skip stones at a pond or play a game such as red rover red rover, tag or hide and seek.
  • Investigate Nature – Playing outdoors is critical to a child’s development because all of his senses are engaged and he’s making decisions based on using those senses. Also, cultivating an interest in trees and other plants, animals and natural phenomena is a great way to motivate kids to get outdoors. Take a nature walk and share stories about things you remember about nature from your childhood, start a collection from your walks or plan a family hike.

Move around and demonstrate how much you enjoy being outside. This will go a long way in teaching your kids to embrace the outdoors too.  Life happens outside, get out there and enjoy it!

Outdoor play is beneficial beyond health and fitness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources:

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/getactive/children.html

http://www.childrenandnature.org/

http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/Getting-Children-Outdoors

http://www.livestrong.com/article/141891-the-benefits-outdoor-play-children/

 

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