Ben texted me that surfer Laird Hamilton is 48 and looks 26, eats a lot of raw and organic, and is one of the “manliest men on the planet,” and I should blog about him. Then I said, “Then how come I haven’t seen him on vegetarian athlete lists?”
He said, “Because he’s not pure vegetarian. Which is why he’s still a manly man.”
Eye roll. I texted him back and said, “Two words for you. BILL PEARL.”
(He was a vegetarian Mr. Universe. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Bill Pearl didn’t convince me to be a vegetarian. He did convince me that a vegetarian could become Mr. Universe.”) Gotta love the brilliant things that The Governator says sometimes.
I looked Laird Hamilton up, and found this quote from him: “You eat potato chips, you’re going to perform like a potato chip.”
I don’t date much anymore, but I recently went out with a guy named Brent who, like lots before him (when I used to date), was rather terrified of what I do for a living. (A bane of my existence is that men feel I will judge them when I see what they eat. Often this is a deal-breaker for them, even though I am realistic and non-judgmental. I’m not likely to meet a guy who has my philosophies about food! However, I do really like guys who at least are interested in eating better. As long as they are that AND tall-dark-and-handsome! Hehe.)
So Brent is 38, attractive, and looks fit. But he wanted me to know he eats a whole box of Cap’n Crunch, or 8 cookies and a glass of milk, before bed. And sometimes a plate of nachos. And wakes up with a flat stomach. He doesn’t work out routinely—only in fits and starts.
In other words, he’s a genetic anomaly and gets away with murder. I don’t know why some people are born capable of full-on nutritional abuse without obvious or mid-term consequences. If I did what he does, I’d have no energy and would weigh 300 lbs. almost overnight. It’s not fair!
That said, I believe in karma, and the fact that at some point, everybody has to pay the piper.
On facebook, GSG reader Joel W. pointed me to Scott Jurek, one of the world’s best ultrarunning phenomenons featured for running with the legendary Tarahumara Indians as profiled in Born to Run. (I’m reading this book, and most serious runners have done so. It fueled the “barefoot running” craze.)
Scott Jurek can run 6.5 marathons – nearly 166 miles – in a 24 hour period. And he’s a long-time vegan, after being raised in a meat-and-potatoes family. His book Eat & Run tells all about it, helps you commit to the understanding that food is FUEL. His book contains his favorite plant-based recipes.
Perhaps the most spectacularly credentialed, famous ultrarunner in the U.S., though, is Dean Karnazes, who is 46 years old and looks 20. My friend Ben is preoccupied with Karnazes, an ultrarunner with superhuman genetic gifts. But unlike my date, Brent, Karnazes is increasingly laser-precise about his diet as he gets older.
Wikipedia has his list of Karnazes’ staggering accomplishments, one of which is running 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days. (He ate 5,000 to 7,000 calories each day during that period.) He also ran 350 miles in 81 hours without stopping, even though he took a break from running from age 15 to 30.
He eats vegetables, fruits, lean meat, and things you could “pick and eat.” The Neanderthal diet, he calls it. He says, could cave people have eaten whole grain? (They couldn’t have milled it, etc.)
In an interview I read of Karnazes, he was asked if he misses pies and stuff he used to eat, and he says,
“I really don’t! It was kind of an indulgence…I really don’t long for those things anymore. I think cravings for sugar and sweets just stop when you stop eating them for a while.”
Another Karnazy quote: “…if you’re going to be a foodie, you’re going to suffer the consequences! Some people live to eat, and I eat to live…”
I don’t know that it’s a good thing to run 42 miles a day for 100 days, as Karnazy recently did. I’m in awe, while at the same time I have no interest in pushing my body that hard. But I do like that he has found things that are not FOOD to give him joie de vivre.
People for whom food is their passion are, as he says, in trouble.
And I think it’s interesting how, even though meat is hard to not eat, if you eliminate grains as Karnazy does, the best athletes, who are able to continue for decades, as Jurek and Karnazy have, eat a LOT of greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.