V for Vegan! – Week #3.4

(The cover is a before/after photo of Rich Roll and the effect of his plant-based diet)

Training this week: 1h of bike, 1 of weight-lifting and about 15 clay poultices. No, this is not recovery. This is regeneration. With all my nutrition efforts and the stuff I am learning, there’s no way I’ll come back the same triathlete I was 2 months ago.

Monday:

That’s it! I signed with my new triathlon team. From now on, the French Federation knows my name, my birthday and my zip code! I signed with Vitrolles. If you don’t know where it is, check this map. The team is in Division 1, which means I just have to follow this road to make the French National team. Ever since 2001, year where I started running, it is my first time joining an actual team. I always used to train by myself like a lonesome cowboy. That’s why it is a big step for me. It symbolizes something. Dropping my registration file in their mailbox is no mere action. It means one thing: “Triathlon…I want you!”

It’s Monday and as you know, each Monday, my morning routines improves. I just finished “Listen to your body, your best friend on Earth”, my 2nd book of the month. It is interesting and made me rethink certain things a lot, especially chapters about “leaving your ego outside” or “judging others”. It doesn’t look that bad but “judging others” is truly a disease. It freaking steals your energy away, that’s crazy. Yesterday, I told you about protecting your dream. Well, I decided to adopt the same strategy regarding the protection of my spirit. I am protecting my spirit and there’s no way I’mma let some bullshit or other negative thoughts hang around my head. If I hear my brain complaining, saying: “D*mn, he’s this….she’s that”, I interrupt my brain right on the spot. ” What do you think you’re doin’? Your opinion is not interesting to me”. Yes it’s good to be kind, understanding and patient with yourself but once you have taken bad habits, you should be merciless with yourself.

The new book I am reading is Rich Roll’s ” Finding Ultra “ and I’m already done with 400 pages. The other day, I contacted Rich through Facebook to tell him that one part had light a fire inside of me. He replied 2 days later. Nice!

It’s January’s 3rd week, so I am moving up from 32′ to 33′ of meditation and japanese per day. Actually, I decided to speed things up and add myself another 30′ afternoon session of japanese study. And if I fail, read the next bit and you’ll know how I’ll react.

Yesterday, I heard something crazy amazing. It is from a Tim Van Orden’s video. Someone in his family wants to start exercising again. So he encourages that person and even offer her a stepper. Quite predictably, he calls this person the next day: “So? Did you do your 5′ of stepper?”…”Well, not really. But today I’m gonna make it up for it and do 10 minutes!” STOP!

We’ve all heard someone (or even ourselves) say something like this. Personally, when someones says that, I rather reply: “No, you’re gonna make it up for anything. You missed the first step. That’s okay, it’s not bad. But today, you have another chance to take this first step”. But this is where Tim Van Orden’s advice is gold:

“If yesterday, you didn’t find the courage, the motivation or the inspiration to do 5′ of stepper, what makes you believe that you will find the courage, the motivation or the inspiration to do 5′, today? So instead of punishing yourself by saying you should do 10′, instead of saying you should do 5′ and setting you up again for a possible failure, be kind with yourself…and just try to do 2’30” of stepper. And if you can’t find the courage, the motivation or the inspiration to do those 2’30”, then it means this first step is still too high. In that case, the next day, try to do just 1’15” and so on until you find the level of effort which is at the same level of your current level of energy”.

This is gold, I think!

I’m gonna super honest with you. In my kitchen, I often do the dishes. I have no problem doing it. I wash them and put them on the side so they can dry. But putting them away once they’re dry turns me off completely. Why? No freaking idea. Two weeks ago, I told myself: “Greg, this’s gotta change! Let’s try to put away some stuff for just 10′”. 10 minutes in 24 hours, come on, I should be able to do this. It’s nothing. The result is that for a week, I’ve let the dishes dry and dry and dry again. How can I not be able to do something that simple, that’s crazy, uh? So the next week, I changed tactic and told myself: “My dear Greg, I can’t really say the kitchen is your element so this week, I will challenge you to just put away one stuff per day. One plate. One dish. One fork. Anything. But one per day!”

Conclusion? This last week, I’ve put away more dishes and plates and anything you can name than in the first 35 years of my life! I also spent more time cooking. When I would hang around the kitchen and saw the pile of clean dishes, I would tell myself: “Come on G, just one plate and you did your job for the day”. But what happened in reality is that since I have two arms, I would already put away two plates. I can take long strides so I would do this two times. And since I have a good endurance, I would do it for even longer. Result: in 5′, everything is put away. The reality is that it’s the thought of starting something that turns us off. Everybody says: “No, no, I don’t want to do this”. But I never heard someone say after just 20 seconds: “Okay, that’s it, I told you, I didn’t want to do this, I need to stop right now”. You just have to make a tiny effort in the direction you want to go. And if it’s hard for you, then take the tiniest step possible 🙂

This week, I spoke with Alice. Alice wants to be fluent in Croatian. But she can’t find the time to study it. After 5′ of conversation, she says the infamous: “I didn’t study for 30′ today, so tomorrow I’ll do an hour!”. There I smiled in my head: “No, you couldn’t do 30′ today so tomorrow try 15′”. Alice, if you read this, please comment and tell us if you were able to get back on track and if it’s really a good tactic.

Tuesday:

I had in mind to start this day by writing “Victory”, because yesterday, I rode an indoor bike again. Pedaled for an hour and everything went fine, despite a few tinglings in my calf. However, this morning at the gym, my leg hurt while doing some press lift, which for me is the worst possible scenario since lifting weights is what allows me to exercise, breathe, unwind and rest my calf at the same time.

So I decided to take the rest of the week OFF. 100% OFF. If I make a video, it’ll be live from my bed, to show you nothing but the decoration of my bedroom! 😉

One of the qualities I have I am the most proud of is my capacity to bounce back after a failure. David, one of my best friends, once nicknamed me “The Kangooroo”. I’m not gonna explain. You get the picture. I don’t know where this comes from. The goes back to before the earthquake, I believe. Maybe it’s the months of rehab after my 3 knee surgeries that helped reinforce this…

During the summer of 2013, I went to Singapore for the first time to try to save my relationship with my ex. Yes, this was a crazy decision but I thought staying in Europe and chew on my regrets would be crazier. When I landed in Singapore, she emailed me for the third time: “You shouldn’t have come. I don’t want to see you”. Third time was not a charm so I understood. I had just landed that I was already booking my return flight, for 3 days later. To me, this was an unbelievable failure. I went to town. Up to my hotel room. Lied down on my bed. Grabbed my legs against my chest, forehead against my knees and cried like a child.

But 5 minutes flat later, something inside of me said: “Greg, you have 72 hours in Singapore. You wanna live here? Then enjoy it and go visit the city. You wanna work here? Then go ahead and search”. So I got up, shook my grey ideas away and went downtown with the intention of enjoying it.

At that time, I had noticed a job with the WWF over there. Walking downtown and speaking a different language every 10 minutes, I thought: “Tomorrow, put your suit on and go to the WWF. Nobody knows you and you don’t even have an appointment but this job, you’re gonna get it”.

The next day, I get to their office. I am in the waiting room. But nobody comes. I go further in. “Uhhh, sir?”…”Good morning, I am coming regarding this job offer”…”Uh, yes, of course, I’ll go look for the manager”. I had overcome so many little steps to get to this upcoming meeting, I was super confident.

“Good morning Sir! You came all the way from Europe, that’s admirable. Unfortunately, the job you’re interested in has just been awarded to someone else”.

2 slaps in the face in less than 24 hours, don’t feel really good. I got back to my hotel repeating, in my head, the words from a Michael Jordan commercial: “In my career, I have missed this…I have missed that. I have failed over and over and over again in my life”. I am 10.000km away from home, alone, heartbroken and without a job. I am walking towards the MRT station with only one song in my head: “I have failed over and over and over again in my life”.

At the end of the commercial, Michael Jordan says: “And this is why I succeed”.

5 minutes flat later, I reached the station. Dried my tears up. Tilted my head up, my chest up thinking: “Singapore is where I wanna live, d*mn it. Still 48 hours here and man, I am gonna walk it from east to west!”.

Even though I suffered from depression for 2 years, from 2008 to 2010. Today, when I am down on my knees, you can take your watch, in 4’59” I’ll be standing.

Wednesday:

I got an idea on my mind. It’s been several days. Well actually, several weeks. Or maybe it’s been forever.

I am going to launch my new career…as a running coach. I am currently coaching a friend for a 1/2 marathon. I design his training plans. Every morning, I write him about the session and mention a few pointers. Here is by the way, the greatest advantage about waking up at 5am. I send him his email before he wakes up; like a dad preparing breakfast for his child 😉 Then we talk on the phone, for about an hour a week and we debrief. Since he is directly concerned with this professional decision, I asked him: “I am going to be a running coach, officially, a real one. What do you think?”.

“Man, I sincerely hope that you will make it to the Olympics but in my opinion, as a coach, you will be able to accomplish greater things. You are so inspiring and when I read your emails in the morning, the only thing I think about all day long is to go run, come back home, write you and ask even more questions”. 

Do you have an athletic project? Do you want to start running? Do you want to run your first 10k, half or full marathon? Do you have a crazy dream that you do not dare to confess anyone? Did you decide, just like me, that your health would be your top priority for 2014? Do you want to set a new personal best? Do you want to qualify for Boston? Or the Olympics? Do you want to become the best athlete you can be and use every single drop of your potential? Do you want to call me Coach Greg?

Still a few days of creation and my coaching product will be on line. It’s now the official start of the 2nd part of my mission: “help others achieve their dream”. It is written at the very top of this blog and it starts now!

Thursday:

Today, once again, I have received crazy encouragements from you. Congratulations and words coming from another planet (but still expressed in english 😉 Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

“I believe in your dream”…”Do you promise you will go to the Olympics?”…”I was watching TV and suddenly I thought ‘If Greg can achieve his dream, I can achieve mine too'”…”I don’t know who Javier Gomez is but I know who you are: my inspiration”…”What you write makes me wanna move mountains”. I am speech…LESS! I feel like writing these comments on a wall or something because in a few weeks, I am afraid I will forget them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

In all honesty (as always), when I write, I often wonder if opening myself this much is okay and if I shouldn’t keep some for my secret garden. My writing is quite personal and when I type certain ideas, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable. I feel vulnerable.

But here’s apparently how it works between humans beings. When you give yourself, people thank you. All my life, I gave myself to my friends, my colleagues, my students, my patients, my clients. And many times, they said “thank you”. But when you give what’s deep inside of you, without hiding a lot, people don’t just “thank you”, they show unbelievable signs of love, friendship and appreciation.

It’s only been 1 year, 2 years or maybe 3 years that I started expressing what’s deep inside of me mostly through sport, public speaking, singing, my book, my quest to find my soul job…And it’s only been since this change that I started receiving the most beautiful compliments of my life. No comparison with my first 30 years of existence. When I was 19, a friend said: “The woman who will marry you will have won the lottery”. At 25, a friend said I was the kindest person he knew. Here are the 2 compliments I remember from this part of my life. However, I could mention 10 or 20 amazing compliments I’ve received within the last few years. Last year, someone told me: “You make me believe anything is possible”. Uh what? Who? Me, I can do that?

From the bottom of my heart, I encourage you to start expressing or express even more what’s deep inside of you.

24 hours after my arrival in Singapore, last october, I met a friend to talk about my job search. Then to get a better sense of what I was looking for, she asked: “But…what’s your dream?”…”To go to the Olympics” (PS: that was the end of our conversation about “regular jobs” 😉

Speaking to her, the (olympic) flame must have been shining in my eyes because a couple days later, she texted me: “Greg? How can I find my dream?”.

…”Be honest with yourself”…

So here is the story of this night where I became honest with myself.

To be a professional athlete and go to the Olympics is my childhood dream…that’s it. But after my adolescence, my dream went to silent mode for 15 years.

It rose back from the ashes one night in April 2011, the day I let myself be honest with myself. I remember that night as if it was last night. This means that being honest with yourself and witnessing a dream resurface are defining moments. It’s not something casual.

On that night, I am in my small apartment, near Sapporo, in Hokkaido, Japan. I live by myself and I work full-time as an english teacher.

There’s an aspect of this job that doesn’t fit with me. Therefore, despite my love for Japan, I decide to quit my position and say sayonara to my working visa. I am at home, asking myself 5000 questions about what I am gonna do next. I am holding my head in my hands, thinking and rethinking. Could I be an osteopath again? Or maybe teaching english in France would be different? Or translator? Or go back to Canada?

But each of these options made me feel the same way: “Mmm, yes but…”, there was one thing inside of me, call it my intuition, saying: “No, no, please, not this way”.

It’s a very frustrating moment. I am brave. I am ready to take actions to improve my life but I have no freaking idea where to go. I am thinking, I am probably teary-eyed and for the 15000th time, I ask: “I am born to do something but, d*mn it, what is it!!!!!”

And…all of a sudden…in one second, no sentence, just two words: “Run”…”Olympics”. This is when a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and when a smile replaced my despair. This was my body’s way of saying: “Aaaaaah, there it is. We found it. That’s the path”.

Notice that I never asked myself questions like: “Realistically, what can I do?”…”What is possible?…”How can I pay my bills?”.

My questions were: “What am I born to do?”…”What’s my dream?”…”I cannot be good at everything but I can be unique in one thing, which one?”.

This dream offers me a feeling I am encountering for the first time: clarity. Yes. Clarity.

Everyday, when I wake up, I know why I’m here. I know my purpose. Yes, it scares me at times but I never doubt that it’s the right path. There’s not a single day I don’t know what do. When I see friends posting on Facebook: “I am bored today. What can I do?”, my heart aches.

Ever since I started studying japanese, I asked myself thousands of times if this was really worth it. Everyday, I doubted and wondered if one day in my life, japanese would really be useful. Shuuuuut! So noisy!

But thanks to this dream, all his clear in my head, It’s silent. There is no doubt.

Whether it is 6am on Monday, 2pm on Wednesday or 9pm on a Saturday night, there is no noise. It’s clear.

Friday:

Yesterday marked a great moment in my life! The 75th day of my Mac Do/fast-food rehab 😉 You would have told me last year that I would go 75 days without a double-cheese, I wouldn’t have believed you. I am quite proud of myself here.

Still on the nutritional level, it’s now been 6 days that I am vegan. You may think: “No meet, no fish, no eggs, no milk. How depressing!”. A friend even told me: “Why do you torture yourself?”.

If that’s what you think, too bad for you. When I say “I am vegan”, here is my brain’s opinion:

  • I am going to eat a bunch of super healthy stuff, yes!
  • Goodbye to all those tiny injuries which come out of nowhere and poison my love for sports.
  • No more feeling tired after lunch.
  • I am going to go below 10% of body fat. During my next race, I am gonna kill my personal best.
  • My abs are going to be cut like a m*****f*****.
  • I am going to recover from my training sessions twice as fast.
  • I am going to run faster and longer
  • I am going to look younger (in just 6 days, I already do, come one)
  • My mood is going to be more stable. I’ll smile even more.

To be vegan is a lifestyle, a way of thinking. Not a diet! If you think I am crying in front of my fridge or that I dream I am kissing a giant salmon, you’re wrong, baby! 😉

A change in your lifestyle means that you go shopping in a different shop, that you buy different products and that you cook differently. That’s it. If you wanna look or feel different, shouldn’t you do something different?

To be vegan also reflects your way of thinking. Personally, I made the switch because I am freaking bored of feeling average and to be injured quite often. I wanna be in an incredible health and run like a God, you know this. To lose weight? Yeah, that’s nice but it’s not a motivation. Respect for animals? Mmm, sorry but I am not really sensitive to it yet. I am probably missing education/information on that level.

This change of diet happened in complete harmony. Me, the world champion of sudden and incredible decisions, I let this change evolve day by day, slowly changing the food I chose…and by reading a lot!

The book who inspired me to become vegan is Rich Roll’s “Finding Ultra”. RR was a 40 year-old lawyer when he grew so tired to be unhealthy, that he built himself a plant-based vegan diet. Then, a few years later, after running 2 Ultraman, he was selected among the top 25 fittest men in the world. Also, since yesterday, I started another book, Brendan Brazier’s “Thrive”. At the end of the 90’s, BB was one of the first vegan professional triathletes.

Do you see the title of the books I am reading? Do you see one called: “I am vegan, I look depressed but I don’t care” or “Become vegan and lose 20lbs in 2 months”? 😉

Brendan Brazier writes that depending on your level of activity, it requires 6 to 8 months for 100% of your cells to regenerate. 100%. It means that in 6 months, you will have a new body, new hair, a new skin, new nails…etc.

Question: Your new body, the one you will have in 6 months, which ingredients is it gonna be made of?

Last year, I read something about self-love. Me, I am rather the opposite. Tough on myself, always asking for more. But reading this, I thought: “Maybe that’s true, to perform even better maybe I need to reward myself from time to time”. So very slowly, I started the habit of stopping by Mac Donalds, after a hard work-out, and take a little something to eat (Yeah, that was another time).

But as I kept on reading, I understood that self-love is also simply putting good stuff in your body. When you smoke, eat or drink something which will hurt you, it means one thing: “My health, I don’t give a d*mn about it”. Of course, it’s a subconscious behaviour (you do it without thinking) but it’s the truth. And me, when I go to Mac Donalds after training hard, it means one thing: “My dear Greg, your dream, I don’t give a s*it about it”.

When I am looking at a tasty snack or dish that I know I shouldn’t eat, I often tell myself: “Eat it = Short-term pleasure and long-term pain. Resist = short-term pain and long-term pleasure”. Resisting the temptation to eat a big nice meal like I used to eat 5 years ago is also hard for me. But in my head, the picture of the body and smile I will have in one year is even nicer.

To me, being vegan also means: “I love myself and my health, my mood, my smile, my energy, that’s the #1 most important thing in the world”. Slowly. I encourage you. Read about this.

Saturday-Sunday:

In 2012, I’ve visited 5 countries. In 2013, I’ve visited 7. My target for 2014 is 12, one per month.

January in France. Check. And next sunday, February 2nd, I just booked my flight to go abroad. A bit of suspense and patience and once I am there, I’ll make a nice video for you 🙂

Ever since I turned vegan, I noticed something interesting. Your hunger seems to change. You don’t seem to be hungry anymore between meals. You don’t seem to have any cravings. I’ve also been noticing that for the last few days, I don’t even nap in the afternoon anymore, even though I just sleep 5-6 hours each night. Lastly, I just lost 1.6k in the last 3 days, without even trying.

Two weeks ago, I weighed 71.1k. I thought: “Challenge for this week. Weigh 70.5 on Sunday”. Result? 72.5k on Sunday! Crap! So this week, I said: “No target weigh this week. You can’t even train so it’s ok if you need some comfort food”. Result? 70.4k this morning! It’s twice now I notice that to successfully lose weight, my recipe is pay attention, yes, but focus on a “number”, no!

If next week you want me to write about a specific topic, if there’s a new habit you would like to build, mention it in the comments or through the contact page. It’ll be great to help you, tell you what I think, what I learnt about it, what I tried, what worked and best for last, what completely failed! 😉

Peace.

Coach Greg

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