It is difficult to eat well in our world- unless you’ve learned otherwise

I’m generally a very optimistic person, but I’m also realistic and shy away from misleading people into thinking something is going to be easier that it is. Why? Because making long-term, sustainable health behavior change takes, well, a lot of change. And work. Preparing people for this work helps them overcome the barriers that will no doubt arise. Too often I see/hear those who have spent years thinking about eating well, good nutrition, veganism, exercise, etc as saying these things are easy to do. You just need to want it! Just be disciplined! They forget what it was like to not know what they know now. Think about that for a minute- what was it like before you had the knowledge you have now? Are you even able to?

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When I broke my dominant arm last year I had to write with my other hand. It’s incredibly hard. Why? Because I’ve had a lifetime of developing the habits and muscles memory to use a specific hand. Switching over just doesn’t make sense to my brain. What is this we are trying to do?? That’s an extreme example though clear in how we learn our behaviors over a lifetime to a point where we don’t think about them. We interpret this as being ‘easy.’

Our world today is not just full of unhealthy food, but cheap, heavily advertised food served in large portions. When we look at individuals’ diet/nutrition from this perspective- the influential environment- it’s no wonder we are in a health crisis with rampant chronic disease.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that a young person in the US sees 3000 advertisements a day.

Three thousand! If those advertisements weren’t influential it wouldn’t be a billion dollar industry. It’s as if our environment has been engineered to make eating healthy as difficult as possible.

I’ve been thinking about this because this Wednesday night is my 3rd lecture of four at the Digital Gym (put on with Cycling Camp San Diego who are also hosting the epic Dirty Devil this Saturday!). I’ll be talking about this topic- why is it so hard to eat healthy? What are the factors working against us? It’s an important lecture if you’ve had trouble turning knowledge into action. You are not alone! The fourth lecture, on Wednesday April 1st, will cover the ‘how to’ of eating plant-based and healthy. You can sign up for both here for a discount!

Both lectures start at 6pm at Digital Gym, 2921 El Cajon Boulevard, 92104 (map).

 

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San Diego: 4 upcoming nutrition lectures!

I’m so excited to announce a series of nutrition lectures! With the help of Cycling Camp San Diego and Digital Gym in North Park, I’ll be presenting four 75-minute lectures on nutrition. You can sign up for just one or the entire series for a discount. This is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your nutrition knowledge! With four workshops we can really get into not only understanding nutritional science, but applying it. While my focus is plant-based, I cover the basics of nutrition, disease prevention and the practical issues of eating healthy in today’s world. And these are fun, I promise! You can sign up here and there’s a facebook event page as well.

All lectures start at 6pm at Digital Gym, 2921 El Cajon Boulevard, 92104 (map).

Wed March 4th, 6pm (1)- Nutrition 101: What you need to know about the food you eat
From carbohydrates to gluten to antioxidants, we hear a lot of nutrition terms, but what do they all mean? Which components of foods are most important to consider for a healthy diet? Matt will discuss the basics of nutritional science and give you the vocabulary to understand dietary claims.

Wed March 11th, 6pm (2) – Diet and Disease: What the research says about risk and prevention
Does sugar cause diabetes? Will eating only fruit prevent cancer? There are many claims relating food to disease, but what does the research say? Matt will cover some of the bigger long-term research studies that look at diet, disease and death.

Wed March 25th, 6pm (3) Hard Fight: The challenge of eating well in today’s world  
Ever feel like the world is working against your diet goals? It is! The food environment in America in 2015 is ripe with unhealthy choices at every turn. It’s no coincidence that the proliferation of empty calories has lead to an increase in obesity and disease. In this lecture you’ll learn how we got to this point.

Wed April 1st, 6pm (4) Take Action!: How to make healthy changes that last
Having knowledge and applying it are two different things. In this lecture Matt will discuss the behavior change ideas that will help you apply what you’ve learned so you can make lasting, sustainable health changes. Plenty of time for Q&A in this lecture too!

 

Please help me get the word out on this series. If you have friends who are curious about nutrition please let them know about this. Four lectures for a cost less than one consultation with me is a deal. You can sign up here or join the facebook page here. Hope to see you! If you have any questions please let me know.

 

farmers market messenger bag

 

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Speaking at Umass Amherst on Monday Feb 23rd

For those of you in the Northeast enduring the harsh winter, I’d like to invite you to this talk I’m giving at UMass Amherst next week.  I’m honored to be a guest of the UMass Nutrition Association, Kinesiology Club, Students in Graduate Nutrition and the Department of Nutrition. The topic will be my work with plant-based athletes and my experience in alternative career paths for dietitians. It will be fun and there will be snacks! This event is free and open to the public. More details below and on the facebook event page. Special thanks to Eliza Beth Mellion who has done a huge amount of leg work to make this happen.

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Be sure to follow me on twitter and instagram for photos of snow and cold and to see how 13.5 years of living in Southern California has made me soft!

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Book signing and talks in Austin this week!

Austin, Texas is a great place. I was there on the No Meat Athlete book tour where we did an event at the Beard Bros factory and presented to the Whole Foods corporate office. And it happens to be one the first place I flew to on my own (with a friend) as a tiny, teenage BMXer. Austin, like where I grew up, is huge for BMX and an older friend / local hero had moved so we went to check it out and get away from the harsh Pennsylvania winter and ride our bikes.

Ever since, I have loved Austin so I jumped at the chance to be a part of the Whole Foods / Engine-2 28-Day Challenge this year.

 

MattatWFMAustin

 

 

Two Events This Week

Both are a combination cacao book signing and a talk about staying active while maintaining a plant-based diet. These are laid back events and I love answering questions so if you have friends in Austin please send them along!

*Thur Feb 5, 530pm. Bee Cave Whole Foods Market. Engine 2, 28-Day Challenge. Book signing and talk12601 Hill Country Blvd. Bee Cave, TX 78738.

*Sat Feb 7, 12pm. Lamar Flagship Whole Foods Market. Engine 2, Meet The Experts series. Book signing and talk525 N Lamar Blvd. Austin, TX 78703.

 

Going Back in May!

And I’ll be there in May for the awesome Vida Vegan Con blogger conference. I can’t wait. Strongest Hearts will be there and both Sasha and I are speaking!! And it just so happens the wonderful organizers will be in Austin this week and made this terrific map of vegan spots: Austin Vegan Food! And you can probably count on seeing food photos on my Instagram and the VVC Instagram. I know I can’t wait to eat some Tex-Mex.

 

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I’ve a few other events already scheduled for 2015 that will get their own post, but you can peep them at my events page. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at an event!

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Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer will be Sunday November 9th, 2014

Excited to finally confirm the date for this year’s event. We’ll meet at the normal spot, Sunset Triangle Park in Silver Lake, at 745am. For some resources see the summary from 2013 or my Feel My Legs category with the 8 years of history. Also trying to put on Thus Climbed Zarathustra (4th one?) on that Saturday. It’s a combination alley cat / stair climb event that utilizes the stairways in the same neighborhoods as Feel My Legs. History of posts about that here.

There is a facebook event page, where I’ll be posting updates.

 

A few points worth reiterating for FML:

While a few cyclists are competing for points, the majority are out there to simply ride up some of the steepest hills in Los Angeles. It is open to everyone.

There are no entry fees or prizes.

Between hills is neutral; we ride together. At the top of each hill we wait for everyone else to make it. If you are fast you will be sitting around a lot.

Please no jock mentality or bad attitudes. If you think cyclocross is too crazy and you wish USAC had more races than this is probably not the event for you.

No spectator or support cars on the hills. We try and keep this low key as it’s busy enough in some of these neighborhoods.  Spectators encouraged to ride bikes. Same with photographers and journalists.

Rain does not cancel. In fact, it has rained a surprising number of times on this day over the years. Check your almanac.

We will group ride from the last hill back to the start.

Please review the write-ups from previous years!

Hill order TBD.

 

Eldred St from the top. Some say it's steeper than Fargo... Photo by @WolfPackHustle

Eldred St from the top. Some say it’s steeper than Fargo…
Photo by @WolfPackHustle

 

 

Thanks for reading, hope to see you there.

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I wrote a book about cacao and chocolate!

So stoked to finally, officially, make this announcement! Yes, an entire book about cacao and chocolate with 75 vegan (mostly savory!) recipes:

Superfoods For Life, Cacao (available: IndieboundSkylight | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

SuperfoodsForLifeCacaoIndieboundSkylight | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Why cacao?  Last year the No Meat Athlete book publisher asked if I was interested in writing a book in their series, Superfoods for Life. Super foods? Not necessarily my cup of tea. But when they said cacao, I said maybe. Then I spoke with DIY chef and friend Joshua Ploeg- who absolutely loves using ingredients in unique ways- and it was set. We’d do it. Yeah, I can’t believe it either!

I’m going to be writing about this more extensively over the next few months as this topic lends itself well to discussion. Like the woman in Mexico who is the current ‘oldest ever human’ who claims chocolate has played a role in her longevity (anecdotal, of course). Or this recent news article in the Las Vegas Review Journal that is totally inline with my view of the subject.

  • There’s a lot of research on cacao, chocolate and the phytochemicals they contain. I used over 60 peer-reviewed studies to write this book and discuss the role these compounds have on everything from type-2 diabetes and heart disease to dementia and athletic performance. This paper in the journal Nutrients is an example of what’s out there. It’s a very exciting direction of research.
  • Yes, I’ve seen the video about superfoods and science. I agree! In the book I write about the beneficial components of everyday plant foods; you don’t need to eat exotic berries, mushroom extracts or antioxidant pills to be healthy. Cacao does have especially high amounts of phytochemicals, but one ingredient, no matter what it is, doesn’t determine your health.

 

Photo: Fairwinds Press

Tamarind-Chocolate Chili. Photo: Fairwinds Press

 

If you want to support me and the book here’s how you can help:

  • Share this post or information about the book with your friends and social media contacts. If you know me- you know I don’t do a lot of self-promotion. But I’m very proud of this work and I want more people to be exposed to solid science and fun recipes. I’m all about expanding people’s experiences through food and this book definitely does that.
  • Come to an event! Keep your eye on my website and social media for announcements about book signings, talks and other events around the country. I’m currently planning events in Oakland, Santa Rosa, Boulder, Ashville, Atlanta, Chicago and Bethlehem; to name a few for 2014.
  • If you have a website and discuss food, veganism, cacao or any related topics please get in touch if you’d like to write about the book, share a recipe, do an interview with Joshua or I, etc. I’m happy to supply you with what you need.
  • Check out the work of the Food Empowerment Project. There are issues around the production of cacao and if you are buying chocolate, you should make yourself familiar with them. I write about this in the appendix of the book and I’m also donating 10% of my royalties to them because I love what they do.

 

As always, I appreciate my readers and everyone who has supported my endeavors. Thanks for reading!

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Strongest Hearts, email newsletter and so close to book announcement!

How’s summer going for you? Mine has been unusual, mostly because I’m still recovering from my broken wrist! What an experience this has been. I’m nearly back to normal; I’m riding my commuter bike and have gone on a few road rides, but no mountain biking (or even pushups!) just yet.

Strongest Hearts

I’ve neglected my website, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I’ve spent a lot of the last few months focused on Strongest Hearts, the new manifestation of our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes project:

  • We traveled to Austin to film the Plantbuilt team compete in the Naturally Fit Games and made this pre-competition episode.

Like our videos showing that you can be vegan AND an athlete? Please share them. We make these as tools to crush stereotypes about vegan diets and rely on our fans to help get them out there. Thank you!

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Email Newsletter

Between my facebook, twitter, instagram and this site, I’m constantly sharing lots of information, articles and stories about nutrition, adventure and everything else (especially dogs).  It’s hard to keep up, so I created a newsletter where I can put the best, most important stuff in one place and send it directly to your inbox. Please sign up here so you can stay up to date on my speaking engagements and other announcements, as well. I promise to not send more than a few emails per month.

 

Cacao Book

I keep burying info about the book, Superfoods for Life, Cacao, I wrote with superstar chef Joshua Ploeg because everything hasn’t been set up to make the big announcement. But that time is coming very soon since the book will be available September 1st! I cannot believe it. The cover and updated info STILL isn’t on the online sites, but it is available for pre-order. And here’s a sneak peak at a recipe. Ordering now, from anywhere, helps out a ton because it shows interest in the book to distributors AND you get it cheaper. Win-win. Big announcement and details soon, for now, see it here:

IndieboundSkylight | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

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