Sometimes, we have to learn the hard way what should have been easy.
Like many others, I've been athletic my entire life. I played tee-ball, baseball and basketball as a youngster and then moved on to wrestling, football, bowling and golf during junior high and high school. During college I played plenty of intramural sports like flag football, walleyball, bowling and softball. I swam and lifeguarded during that time also. At age 15, I started lifting weights as a means to get stronger for wrestling and I've not stopped since. My goals have changed a few times since but I've not stopped.
My competitive nature hasn't quieted down either. Interestingly enough, I've seldom found myself getting caught up trying to be "better" than someone else. Instead, I'm always trying to find ways to improve and with the right attitude this is one of the healthiest ways to live. Notice you need the right attitude or mental environment for this to be good. Sometimes, I forget about that important but seemingly small aspect.
Recovery is the most often overlooked component of performance improvement. For us guys, it must be built into our egos to not want to stop or rest but it's crucial to gaining and maintaining your competitive edge. I don't know why we think we can go on forever like that. Soon enough, our bodies decide to put on the brakes for us via injury or sickness. We become physically stressed and our body has no choice but to begin slowing down a particular body system, forcing us to also slow down and rest.
My most recent bout with this unfortunate situation came along about the same time as I was becoming toxic from chlorine (see chlorine story HERE). This overtraining, as the industry calls it, has happened to me several times over the past 21 years where I'll pull a muscle in my upper back, my shoulders ache to the point of insomnia or get a cold that knocks me out for a couple of weeks. It was a bit different this time, however.
My workout partner and I had been training fairly intensely with little-to-no rest periods between sets in the gym along with off-trail running and plyometrics, usually four days per week without fail. On top of that, I held to a very strict 90% vegetarian and gluten-free diet. This has served me well since late 2008 but wasn't enough on its own to replenish all I was using during these extreme workouts. It soon became very apparent to me that I needed to make some changes. I cut back to three days in the gym, went to bed around 9pm and tried to find some quiet time.
It helped but wasn't enough. I didn't go to the gym for the better part of two months because my immune system was so weak. I tried to force the matter and workout a couple of days in the middle of all that. Bad move on my part. Even though I was resting, my body still didn't have the necessary resources to properly rebuild and recover. Part of my prayer to God was to reveal all things regarding my health. Soon enough, I began taking a closer look at my diet and the sources of the macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat and water). I discovered, and felt, I needed more protein so I started analyzing where I could get the best protein for my body and lifestyle. Now, I'm not at all opposed to eating meat so keep your hateful emails to yourself! In fact, I love it when sourced and prepared properly. Who can resist a burger and beer on the Fourth of July?
I love researching this sort of thing because it lends itself to wisdom that not only benefits me but others as well. First, I wasn't consuming enough protein. Second, the protein I was consuming contained too much arginine (a semi-essential amino acid) and not enough lysine (an essential amino). In other words, there wasn't the right balance of amino acids in my protein intake. This lead me to search the best vegan protein supplement I could find. Warrior Blend protein from SunWarrior is that balanced source for me. The classic version is great also since it's sourced from rice and has a 98% assimilation rate. However, the Warrior Blend has a better arginine to lysine ratio because its protein comes from cranberry, pea and hemp. Side note - I consume meat 2-3 times per week now - GREAT move!
I still take additional lysine supplements as well as Vitamin C. Together, they act as a sort of insurance. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is used in many processes throughout the body as an antioxidant, in collagen formation, and enhancing immune strength. Most people know this. What most don't know is that the RDA (recommended daily allowance) was contrived as a guideline to prevent the majority of the populatin from getting epidemic diseases like scurvy. Vitamin C prevents scurvy at doses of 60mg per day for most folks so that's why the government created this minimum intake. I started consuming anywhere between 7.5-10 grams per day. That's over 100 times higher than the RDA! With the additional protein and Vitamin C, I have so much more energy and strength. Plus, I recover much faster but still only workout 3 days per week for now.
It should occur to most people that because of our processed foods and hectic lifestyles, we should take a multivitamin daily as a minimum. The Synergy Company makes the best organic, vegan, whole-food-based multivitamin on the market. You can absolutely tell the difference it makes even if that's the only supplement you take. You'll have more energy and your body will treat these vitamins as food because that's exactly what they are. The only caveat is that you'll need to figure out how many multi's to take each day. I recommend taking one for the first week, then two the second. Note the difference, if any. If you feel even better on two, take three per day. Maybe you don't notice anything different so then you know to go back to two.
These products helped me in such an unusual and deep way that I cannot keep it to myself. Even if I tried, I couldn't contain it. I want as many people to be helped by this as possible. Please do as much of your own research as you need. As always, if you think you have something better, I want you to email me.