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Nutrition for Recovery: Jason Fowler on Athlete Nutritional Needs
You may recognize him from Juice Plus+ LIVE! in Sacramento last year or his JPTV episode last month, Strategies to Build a Strong Mindset. Jason Fowler is a 2-time IRONMAN® World Champion who has also been a part of the Juice Plus+ community for years. We love to hear his unique perspective on fueling with plant-based nutrition, especially as a paraplegic athlete who competes in one of the toughest competitions in the world. We recently reached out to Jason for a conversation about nutrition, training, and staying motivated during a tough year.
You mentioned to us the last time we spoke that even though life is going to throw curve balls, it's important to never give up on who you are, what you want, and what is next in your life. Obviously 2020 has thrown a major curveball. What have you been doing during the pandemic to stay true to yourself and continue pursuing your dreams?
I love this question as I believe this topic defines our lives. I find it so satisfying to be able to take a situation and reframe it to make it work for me. Life is always going to be filled with challenges, and instead of looking at these events as negative, I choose to believe resistance is part of life and can shape us positively if we act with the right mindset. During the pandemic I have stepped back and used this time to focus on my health and build my youth athlete mindset business. To begin to accomplish these goals I have reverse engineered the end results I am desiring. For my health I have really focused on my nutrition and started a postural strength program. To launch my new business most effectively I have hired an accomplished business coach that has laid out a proven plan to get me to where I want to go.
What have you learned over the course of this year?
I believe so much good comes when we slow down and allow ourselves to be still and look inward. All of the downtime of the quarantine has provided a platform to chill more, and I have learned so many gems. I have had my moments where the pandemic has felt heavy, but it’s been those moments that have reminded me to focus on the result I want and to not concern myself with what I can’t control. My big personal development desire has always been regardless of what is happening in the world around me, I want to feel good and carry myself with a sense of ease and empowerment. I have re-learned to accomplish this. I must take continual ownership for my effort and realize that my happiness and fulfillment is all an inside job. No other person, thing, or accomplishment can make me happy and make me feel fulfilled; it’s up to me.
How have your competition and training schedules been impacted? Tell us what the next year looks like for you.
All of my competitions have been canceled for 2020 except for the Boston Marathon that has a virtual option. My plan is to use this “downtime” to get stronger and faster and enter 2021 refreshed physically and mentally. Assuming triathlons will be happening in 2021, I am planning to make another run at the IRONMAN® World Championships, along with competing in my 18th Boston Marathon.
As someone used to being on the go, how are you keeping yourself busy during the downtime?
The process of starting a youth athlete mindset business combined with my daily training routine has provided for busy days. Most days I feel inspired to create a new venture that helps athletes get the best from themselves, and so even though I am working long hours, it never feels like work. The key for me is to focus on the process and my why that drives me.
What are some of your current goals, and how have these had to adjust?
Great question. My big goal has been building a youth athlete mindset business serving middle school through college-aged kids. It has been quite tricky as the way in which I thought it would be structured and look has changed because of the pandemic. Not only are most sports programs not happening, everyone is being stretched economically. This has pushed me to be creative, and now I am coaching via video conferencing. Thus far it is going great and turns out kids now more than ever need the mindset skills to stay focused and be their best. For me, it’s all come down to being cognitively flexible and doing the best with what I have. I love the power I feel coming from this place that everything is figure out-able.
Your family and friends have always been major supporters of everything you do. How, if at all, has this support system adapted during lockdown?
Family, friends, and company partners are key to my ability to compete and be at my best in everything I do. As always, my support network has stepped up as they always do. In fact, my dad and I just finished building an electric assist off-road handcycle. Now I can get workouts in nature! I am so very blessed to have an amazing family.
Have you changed your training and cooking/eating habits in the current environment? Did quarantine inspire any new ways to get needed nutrition or inventive ways to train/work out?
Getting the proper nutrition daily can sometimes be a challenge and other times effortless. Quarantine has made it easy to be more consistent with good, clean plant-based cooking while eating only at home. I bought two new veggie cookbooks and am trying lots of new recipes. The best part since summer started has been enjoying fresh, locally grown veggies here in Boston. I am planning two weeks of only raw food and really looking forward to enjoying tomatoes!
My workout routine has always been a big part of my life, and during quarantine it has really turned into a necessary part of my life. Exercising and training is my stress reliever and keeps me grounded and so during this time of so much uncertainty and starting a new business I have increased my workout time by almost double and dialed down the intensity dramatically. The routine of a couple hours daily has really felt amazing!
What are your biggest tips for post-competition/post-workout recovery?
Love sharing my routine in hopes this works for others. Recovery is one of my few focuses while training for triathlons and really any time I am pushing my body. For me, this includes giving attention to nutrition, sleep, stretching, massage/bodywork, and strategically choosing workout intensities.
Nutrition is vital to my recovery. If I am not recovering properly daily, then I can’t execute workouts, and if I am not at my best in workouts, I don’t accomplish my goals! For nutrition I first make sure I am eating as clean as possible and also getting the necessary calories, micronutrients, and macronutrients. I eat a whole-food, plant-based diet and focus on eating as many fruits and veggies as possible, mixed in with some grains. I learned long ago eating good food alone isn’t enough, and so I supplement with several super foods, but only one daily, which is Juice Plus+ Fruit, Vegetable, and Berry Blends. Juice Plus+ Omega Blend is my favorite new Juice Plus+ product as I notice much less soreness the day after workouts in my hands when I double up my dosage. This is HUGE for me as it gives me the confidence I am getting what I need to best recover and optimize my longevity as an athlete. I have big goals in sport and business, and there is no way I can be my best if my body is not taken care of.
Sleep is also a big focus for recovery. I used to think it was cool to sleep 6 hours or less, which by the way I could never get away with, and now I know less sleep is a huge mistake. As a para-triathlete who trains on average 15-20 hours per week, I am always craving sleep. I aim for 9 hours of sleep, and often this isn’t enough and I require short naps. I have learned our bodies do all the healing and recovering while asleep. Also, sleep is key to stress modulation and longevity.
My stretching routine includes using a vibrating foam roller & massager daily pre workout to aid in my warmup, and I find it optimizes my workouts being looser. I also see a massage/bodywork professional several times per month that makes sure my soft tissue stays healthy, and we work effortlessly on my posture and balance.
Lastly, I work with a coach that schedules my workouts such that we optimize building strength and endurance—making sure I am not pushing too hard too many days in a row and also training hard enough. I also find it useful to use an activity tracker in which I track my quality of sleep, heart rate variation, and resting heart rate.
What are some of your unique nutrition and training needs?
Being a paraplegic and only having muscle control from the chest up, I am constantly “walking” a tight rope in terms of my health. If I don’t pay attention to all the details of my health, my workout schedule quickly catches up with me. Nutritionally I require a high amount of antioxidants and more micronutrients to combat the stress I am placing on my body, and so I often double up on my Juice Plus+ dosage. For training, I am constantly seeking out clever ways to be my best and have learned I can’t be my best alone and finding a coach that can help me be my best has been most useful.
Who are other athletes or public figures you’ve drawn strength from?
I have many athletes and public figures that I look up to, but I am mostly drawn to those who help others be their best and promote personal growth. Rich Roll is someone I look up to for his devotion to serving others in the mission of promoting a plant-based lifestyle, and he himself is a vegan ultra-triathlete. I look up to Michael Gervais who is a sports psychologist and has given himself to examining how high performers make it all work and sharing this with the world. I love his thoughtful examination of high performers and how this has the potential to help so many to unlock their own potential, super inspiring!
What is some advice for anyone feeling set back by this year?
I have learned via the daily challenge of not being able to use my legs and pushing myself to achieve tough goals that life is made to challenge us. Hard times force us to grow, and so I encourage you to look at this time as an amazing opportunity to learn how you can come out the other side stronger and more your best self. Resistance naturally brings up the stuff we need to work on, and so don’t shy away from hard challenges. I have learned life will continue to throw challenges our way until we figure it out and that these are all gifts. I also know when we focus on what we can control it puts us in the driver’s seat to our own happiness and fulfillment. It is all an inside job! Hope everyone is having a great summer. Please reach out with questions and stay in touch via social media or go to my website at jasonfowler.co to sign up for my newsletter to stay connected.
Jason’s favorite ways to fuel with plant-based nutrition:
High Antioxidant AM Tea Recipe:
- Fresh ginger root (about half a thumb)
- Fresh turmeric (same)
- Dandelion root, burdock root, sarsaparilla root (heaping tablespoon)
- Two ounces of almond, coconut, soy, or oat milk
- Tablespoon coconut oil or MCT oil
- One scoop Complete by Juice Plus+ French Vanilla
- Sweetener to taste (about a tablespoon of honey, coconut sugar, monk fruit sugar)
Add all ingredients into a blender (stainless steel preferably as the turmeric can stain plastic). Add about 6-8 oz of hot water. Blend thoroughly (about 10 seconds). Let steep with lid on for 3 minutes. Strain.
Complete Coconut Power Shake:
- One scoop Complete by Juice Plus+ French Vanilla
- 1 cup fresh coconut
- 6-8 ounces of coconut water
- One teaspoon of cinnamon
Avocado Shake Recipe:
- One scoop Complete by Juice Plus+ (either flavor tastes good in this one)
- One small or half of large avocado
- 8-12 ounces of almond, coconut, soy, or oat milk
- Dash sea salt
Try out these recipes and tag @JasonFowler13 and @JuicePlus_US in your Instagram pictures. And learn more about Jason’s health journey on our blog.
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