A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Arshad Bahl, founder of Amrita Bars and the Nourish Your Passion Podcast. We discussed a variety of topics such as how I used plant based diet to lose weight, how I train for Ironman type events while being married and having 2 children and working full time. It was an awesome time and I think everyone will be able to walk away with some helpful information. You can listen to the Podcast on iTunes, stitcher or log onto https://amritahealthfoods.com/nyp005-matt-korsky-using-plant-based-lifestyle-manage-adhd-lose-20-lbs/.
The article below was featured in the October newsletter for Race Awesome.
Plants Are Awesome...
Plant Powered Coaching...
by Matt Korsky, Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, Plant Powered Coaching.
As athletes we spend countless hours a week training and are constantly seeking ways to improve on our best. We are inundated with mind scrambling amounts of information on how to fuel yourself before, during, and after a training session, yet the majority of this nutritional training information is misleading; so much so that it may in fact compromise our training, race performance, and more importantly our overall health.
Recently, sports has seen outstanding performances by athletes such as professional triathlete Hillary Biscay (66 Ironman finisher, reigning Ultra-man World Champion), endurance triathlete Rich Roll (3 time Ultra-man finisher, founding Epic 5 finisher: 5 Ironman triathlon distances on a different Hawaiian island in less than a week), and endurance athlete Scott Jurek (7 time Western States 100 winner, 2 time Badwater Ultramarathon finisher). What do these champions have in common? They are all plant based athletes who have eliminated all animal based products and processed food from their lives.
I am here to attest to the power of eating plants and how it can dramatically improve your overall health, training, and recovery. Two years ago I began researching nutrition programs for my upcoming Ironman and quickly noticed a trend with many of the high-level endurance athletes. They were switching to plant-based diets and were reaping huge gains in their fitness and race performances. After much deliberation, I too decided to make the switch. Almost immediately, I noticed a tremendous increase in my energy, endurance level, and recovery from even the most grueling workouts. I lost a significant amount of excess body fat, and noticed huge improvements in my flexibility, sleep, and overall mental clarity. I felt as if I had finally found the secret to training, and imagine my surprise that it all had to do with what I was putting into my body.
The science behind why a plant based diet is so effective is quite simple. Your body needs nutrients to live and thrive especially when training at high levels. When you give your body what it needs, it begins to do what it's designed to do. Where do you get these nutrients from? The best source is from whole foods as close to their natural state as possible- that means real food that your great grandmother would recognize, not the highly processed chemically infused packaged products we've been led to believe is best for us. These whole foods not only provide the essential nutrients our bodies need, but they concurrently decrease inflammation and are loaded with anti-oxidants to help fight those free radicals that can lead to disease and cancer. They also help bring your body to it's natural alkaline state which is what our bodies are desperately seeking.
But don't we need to get our protein from meat and other animal products? Unfortunately we have been bamboozled into thinking that animal products are the only and best source for protein. In fact, we do not need to consume any animal products to meet our daily requirements for protein. We can easily get plenty of protein on a plant based diet -- even for those of us who are regularly training 10-20 hours a week -- through simple items such as black beans, edamame, tempeh, and hemp seeds to name a few. When comparing the two sources of protein there is a significant difference. The protein that comes from the plant kingdom is more bio-available for your body, which means you can process it faster, repair your body faster, and thus have a quicker recovery. When you get your protein from animal sources you are not only getting protein but also an abundance of unwanted baggage such as saturated fats, cholesterol, an excessive amounts of calories, and increased inflammation. When this type of protein is consumed, it pushes your body into an acidic state which not only slows recovery but can also allow disease and cancer to grow.
By now you are probably asking yourself, "How can I get more plants into my diet and start eating healthier?" If fact, it is quite simple. You can start by adding more kale, spinach and other dark leafy greens into your morning smoothie and salads. You can also begin to incorporate healthier plant proteins into your meals such as black beans, chick peas, tempeh, and chia seeds. Read the labels on the foods that you are buying. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients, then don't buy them! Also scour the web, as it has many vegetarian or vegan alternatives to classic dishes like lasagna, meatloaf, and burgers. There is an abundance of meat substitute products on the market now too that can help with, if not eliminate, your meat cravings. If you do decide to take a step towards a more plant - based diet, there are plenty of resources available in the form of books, podcasts, and DVDs to help guide you along your journey.
This article was featured on the Main Street Vegan Blog.
Self Improvement by Setting Goals by Matt Korsky, VLCE
September 30, 2014
Goal setting is an important task for all of us and can be the difference between a life well lived or accepting the status quo. Somewhere along life’s journey our own passion and fearlessness starts to recede and we become hesitant about going after our big desires. We second-guess what we are doing and tell ourselves stories about who we are and what we are able to achieve. When the personal limits we’ve placed on ourselves aren’t enough, society likes to jump in and tell us what we can and cannot do.
To live a life that is not determined by mental limiters – our own or others’ — we need to set goals. These goals need to be viable but also far enough out of our reach to excite us and evoke a sense of fear within us. I know that can be a shocking word because we think of fear as such a negative thing, but if you see it as the incredible excitement that sends adrenaline to fuel a racer for a run or a singer for a performance, you see the positive role that it can play. This kind of fear is important because it keeps us motivated to continue on our journey especially when times are tough. People may try to talk you out of doing something so extreme (extreme in their opinion, anyway), but this is simply the limiters that they have already placed on themselves that they are now putting on you. They are scared themselves to step into the unknown and if you do it, then they will have no excuse to not do something out of the ordinary themselves, because they now see firsthand that the impossible is really possible.
The targets that you set need to be personal and important to you. If you choose a goal that is based on other people’s interests, you’ll have no inner motivation to stay focused. Having a concrete time frame in which the goal must be met is an obligatory action in order to reach the finish line. This time frame is crucial because it forces us to get the ball rolling; otherwise we may never start. It’s easy to say you’re going to run a marathon someday, but if that date is never set, it most likely won’t happen. After your goal is set and the date is in stone, the next vital step is sharing your goal with others. It’s one thing to let yourself down but quite another when you include others in on your goal.
Building a support community is mandatory for success, but is often overlooked. This support crew will keep you honest and motivate you to push past your pre-determined peak. To build your crew you need to include people in your circle who will truly support you. You’ll need to see them often, and they’ll need to check in on you often to see how you’re progressing. They’ll be the ones who’ll remind you of your goal when you fall off the tracks, and they’ll be the ones at the finish line waiting to congratulate you.
You may have family members who will be affected by your new commitment – a partner who may feel left out with the practice time you’re putting into an athletic endeavor, or a mom who’s genuinely concerned that you might “miss out on something” if you go vegan. In a case like this, it’s vital to include these important people in on your journey and to get continuous feedback along the way. It’s important to continue to love and support those closest to you, and trust that they’ll do the same for you.
The final part of this process is accepting and embracing your journey. Every major goal in life will have obstacles and roadblocks along the way that will seem to trip you up and will certainly test your grit. Have a plan of action for meeting these roadblocks if you can. I know that when I start on a new goal, I can get easily overwhelmed with the amount of work that is needed to get done and that it seems as if all that work needs to be done at the same time. To overcome this obstacle, I’ve learned to better prioritize the items that need to get done right away and put the others aside for later. By doing this I no longer get overwhelmed with what to do first, whereas I used to become frustrated and end up doing nothing at all. Forward motion, no matter how small, is better than no motion at all. The road to self-improvement is not a smooth one; there will be bumps in the road, but that is the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. All too often we’re only looking for the prize at the end of the road, but the real prize is the process it takes to get there. Take the action, do the footwork, and make something happen.
Matt Korsky, VLCE is a lifelong educator, animal lover, and health advocate. He has taught K-12 Health and Physical Education for the last 12 years. He lives in Long Island with his wife Lauren, their two daughters Rylee and Madison and their two dogs Hudson and Kaley. When not teaching or playing dress up with his daughters he is often found swimming, cycling, running, or finding his inner zen through his yoga & meditation practice. Matt is an accomplished triathlete and ultra-marathoner having completed over 35 triathlons including 5 half-Ironmans and 1 full Ironman. He is the founder of Plant Powered Coaching, which is a full service health and wellness coaching business that specializes in assisting athletes transition to a vegan lifestyle.