Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Diet as an Endurance Athlete ...

Last week I wrote a couple of posts (here and here) that talked about performance gains I have been experiencing with a new focus on optimizing my body composition. Both of these posts focused on the outcomes of being much lighter than previous years but neither mentioned the "how" my diet has changed. I received a few emails and some comments asking to explain the "how"?:

Let's do that today.

First, let me step back and give you brief history of my ups and downs with weight loss over the years.

Like many people, after I got out of college and entered the real world I began to slowly pack on the pounds. One night back in 2008, at the age of 32, I stepped on the scale and was disgusted to see the digital read out before my eyes flashing a rather larger number - 210 LBS.

At 5'9",under any metric you choose, that weight would place me squarely in the category of "obese".

It was time to make some changes.

I ordered P90X, everyone's favorite at-home fitness program, and religiously followed the program for 6 months - it worked because I was back to my fightin' weight of around 170LBS (2nd Pic Below) and I looked and felt healthy. After these 6 months and a new appreciation for living a healthy lifestyle I needed a new challenge and found Triathlon.

After 14yrs of Beer and Pizza -
Day 1 of P90X
After 180 Days of P90X

After my first Sprint Triathlon, I realized quickly that compared to the fast people (which I was not one) that day I was still heavy. Through consistent training over the next couple of years I was able to get my weight down to around 155LBS. I looked skinny and felt fast, this was my perfect racing weight ... so I thought.

Now flash forward to October of 2012. I was coming off of being sick (and on the couch) and had once again packed on some extra insulation and was sitting at 163LBS. But what was more concerning to me was that I looked unhealthy and all the weight I had gained was in my stomach. Once again, it was time to make some changes.

This is when Annie, my better half, and I decided to hire a nutritionist who caters to Endurance Athletes.

Below is a description of how I now eat:

- Breakfast (5:30):  6 Eggs Whites, 2/3 Cup Starch

  • Egg White Omelets with Hashbrowns/Oatmeal or Egg White Waffle using Oatmeal.
- Mid-Morning (9:00-9:30): Shake or Yogurt/Fruit
  • 1 Cup Egg Whites mixed with 1/2 Cup Almond Milk and 2 tsps Sugar Free Nesquik.
- Lunch (12:00): 6oz LEAN Meat, 1 Cup Starch, 1 Cup Veggies, Vinegar dressings
  • Most of the time I make a bowl of Lean Turkey or Chicken with Corn or potatoes and Leafy Greens with Broccoli and Carrots. It is awesome.
- Mid-Afternoon (3-4pm): Protein Muffins or Balanced Snacks.
  • My Nutritionist gave us a bunch of recipes for this ... Bananas, Veggies, Fruits ...
- Dinner (6-7pm): 6oz LEAN Meat, 2 Cups steamed or raw veggies, fat free dressings.
  • I usually cook a low fat meat (Tilapia, 99/1 turkey breast, LEAN Chix Breast - no rib meat added) and eat a ton of veggies. Starch/carbs are not add for dinner unless a big workout or race is coming up.

So, overall this is pretty simple. We try and keep the fat in our Lean Meats extremely low (less than 10%) and eat a ton of vegetables and take in the carbs at breakfast and lunch.

The key to success for us has been to plan out our meals weekly. Each weekend we go to the grocery store and load up on our proteins. We will toss 6-8 LEAN Chicken Breasts in the crock pot on Sunday and they last us for most of the work week. We cook more than we need and refrigerate the rest for lunch.  

BUT the most important thing we did was buy a digital food scale. Portion control is key and without the scale we would not be able to do this like we have been. Get a scale.

I have heard many a person make the claim that eating healthy like this is expensive and I am not going to lie and tell you otherwise because our grocery bills have been higher then in the past. HOWEVER, our overall expense on meals has gone down slightly because we RARELY eat out anymore. Especially for lunch.

Another important fact that has helped me is having a solid support group in place. Annie, who probably does not want me posting her weight online, looks amazing right now and has been my dedicated partner throughout. We keep each other accountable and give each other a kick in the butt when faced with temptation (like cookies or cake). I have also leaned heavily on Jason, as we have been following very similar plans and have seen virtually identical results. Jason is a vegetarian and has really helped me with selecting the right veggies and preparing them. Check out his site for tons of great recipes for Endurance Athletes.

So, this brings us to the end, and you all are probably wondering where I am today?

-  On October 22nd 2012, my weight was 160LBS and my Body Fat Percentage was an embarrassing 17%. 

-  Today, February 17, 2013 - about 4mos later, my weight is 142LBS with a Body Fat Percentage of a lean looking 9%.  

More importantly, is that I look and feel fantastic. I have never slept as good as I have been in my entire life and between the extra sleep and healthy foods my recovery from hard training days is much quicker. 

Back in 2008 when I decided to "make some changes" I never imagined that would equate to being 68 LBS lighter today, but based on how I look and feel this is exactly where I need to be!

If you have any questions please feel free to email me ( and I'll do my best to answer.

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Who is that guy in the first pic? No way I would have recognized that guy today with where you are now.

    It is awesome having the support from you as well. I know that we are on essentially the same plan so knowing there is support there is a huge help.

    I am getting very close to race weight for Puerto Rico. 141.2 pounds and 8.1% BF as of this morning.

    1. I think the weight was around 190ish in that first pic. Had started eating better and exercising before P90X arrived but I was a fatty.

      You are at a perfect race weight right now. I really do not like to get under 8% BF as I seem to be more prone to injury.

  2. Are you going to show us current pics? As a mom, I'm getting worried. I did a thing where I got down to 107 and wasn't psycho about it...I had a specific reason for doing it. But truth be told, 107 and 5'7" wasn't a healthy place. Sure I felt "fast" and was running effortlessly, but there was a lot more going on with my body than I realized. No, it wasn't an eating disorder. I also was utilizing a sports nutritionist. There was a specific athletic goal with an endpoint. Apparently, even though I felt fit and amazing, I looked scary. Please be careful.

    1. Thanks for the concern!

      But I am in a good place right now and as you can see from the eating plan in the post I am tossing back the calories as well. It seems like I am always eating!

  3. Way to go! You have to use a fixed gear bike if you come visit me here!

    So, here I sit, flight to LAX in 3hrs and wondering what the week will hold with all the fine eating establishments in Mojave CA. Instead of a lite saute on the rattlesnake, I could broil it?

    I do like the scale idea while at home and pre bagging..

    1. Fixie in Austin - Hells no!

      The scale and planning out the week has been invaluable - we really could not do it any other way.

  4. If Annie is your better half, what is your worse half? The half of you that you lost doing P90X???? haha!

    Dude, you look like a totally different person. I wouldn't recognize the 2008 Jeff. Did you ever submit your photos to P90X?

    Sounds a lot like how we eat. The key, I think, is figuring out the healthy snacks in between meals. That (at least for me) is where it is easiest to get off plan. Too easy to grab some quick junk food to feed the hunger.

    Keep it up skinny!

    1. That really is the key Kevin. And to make sure you do not skip the snacks as they keep you from spiking up and down and you body stays an efficient burning machine.

  5. P90X is a great tool! However, as we both know, 75% of getting the P90X body is nutrition!

  6. P90X is a great tool! However, as we both know, 75% of getting the P90X body is nutrition!

  7. Appreciate the cliff notes of your journey and what you are eating now. I've been thinking about my diet a lot lately as I know it isn't good. I'm mostly maintaining through exercise, but I should drop at least another 20 lbs.

    1. "Maintaining through exercise" -- that was my mantra for the last 3 years!

  8. Diet definitely plays an important role on this process and your discipline to what you are doing as well as to your goals. I noticed you are not that into veggies and I think it is helpful for good digestion that most of us are not aware about, a cup of vegetable salad is just enough.

  9. I eat very similarly in terms of lots of veggies, more carbs in the morning, less at night. I have to admit after a long time of planning and using a scale, I'm eating more intuitively now and allowing myself more deviations but my weight is staying stable. You look great!! Congrats on the dedication that it took to do that and I'm glad you are feeling the payoff!!

    1. Thanks! You are right, as it has become more intuitive today than it was four months ago. On Sunday I had a cheeseburger with fries - it was spectacular. First time eating any red meat since October. But, by Sunday evening I was back on board with my normal plan. Dedicated doesn't have to mean obsessive, right?

  10. Wow, that is a huge change! Congrats! I've been thinking about getting a nutritionist for a little while now. I'm not exactly fat, but I'm a good 10-15 pounds heavier tha. Before I started running and my body fat is up 7%. On the other hand.... At least 50% of my diet is processed crap and sugar so I know exactly what I need to do, I'm just unmotivated or unwilling. How did you buckle down and start saying no to all of the delicious processed carbs?!?!

  11. My Achilles heel is baked goods, especially cookies. Love them. Annie and I just tossed all the processed junk in the kitchen. We went through the pantry, all the cabinets and the fridge and tossed the junk. Out of sight, out of mind.

    When I grocery shop sometimes I avoid the bakery section completely - will even walk in the other direction as not to have to pass through!

  12. Great read coach! I'm proud of you for getting control of your diet and sticking to it. Appreciate you sharing the plan with us and setting a good example to everyone else in your life. You and Annie look amazing!!

  13. 142 and 9% body fat ... awesome. Even more awesome that you have done it the right way, and clearly continue to do it the right way. Gotta say I'm inspired to step up my game in terms of healthy eating. I'm generally pretty good, but get lazy sometimes - stuck on autopilot and lose focus. Good work sir.

  14. Good stuff. I think out of all of this, the 2 key things are the scale and the wife.

    If Heather wasn't on the same diet as me, I would have failed after day one haha.

    The scale is huge because we "think" we know portion sizes, but until we see what an ounce of anything is... we have no freaking clue!

  15. Jeff - as someone who has read along for several years, all I can say is DAMN GOOD JOB! Unbelievable how much weight you've lost.

    I agree with Matty - it's really hard to change a diet if everyone in the house isn't doing the same thing. Take for example, Casa Strickland - my wife is a living carb (she's Italian after all). Hardly a meal goes by when there isn't some sort of pasta or rice or other carb. I'm trying to make a go at it just by portion control....which is easier said than done.

    Major props to you! I'm totally impressed.

  16. Ha, your starting weight is my race weight goal.

  17. Your reply to an above comment stating that dedicated need not mean obsessive hits the nail on the head. Paying attention to what really makes one's body feel good and work well is what's important. Sometimes we just WANT something – like that cheeseburger – and it's okay to go there. I get bummed for people who feel guilty when they deviate from a strict regimen. Sounds like you're not doing that. Stay healthy and keep on feeling good!

  18. Hey....send some of that mojo up this a way
    need to get mentally strong and push through for like 3 weeks
    still too much cheating for me

    congrats and kudos on the new path and new sucesses


  19. Love this!!! I think that it is awesome that you found something that totally works for you!!! Great work!!!

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