on fat and spontaneity

Today’s workout: 40 minute big gear workout followed by 70 minutes of running (pace work); yoga and/or paddle swim in the evening.

This post is dedicated to two of my favorite things. Fat, and spontaneity. I’ll start with the latter.

Not a bad day for riding.

Saturday’s ride through Joshua Tree National Park delivered a fresh jolt of the unexpected into my fairly predictable weekly schedule. Up until Thursday night, the plan had been to spend the weekend in Palm Springs doing a century ride and half marathon with a group of my teammates.

After our housing plan fell through, however, Plan B unfolded quickly before me and I ended up on a couch in Palm Desert with three familiar faces and 10 new ones. I was grateful for the new training environment, and for the chance to practice flexing that spontaneous muscle I too often ignore.

I traded my two races for a) making a whole bunch of new, incredibly generous friends from Chicago, b) getting to ride my bike through a cold, windy, and starkly beautiful desert, and c) drinking barolo at a restaurant straight out of The Godfather with a few of my favorite people. It’s a trade I’d gladly do again, changing only the bitter 4-degree C weather we started riding in.

The cuddliest of the cacti kingdom. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Hall.)

In other news, happy Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday) everyone. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent—which for many just means an excuse to eat pancakes and go out and party. For some, it means that the first tendrils of spring are starting to show, despite the still clinging winter. Whatever it means now, Fat Tuesday got its start when Christians would clear their cupboards of fat and flour in order to prepare for 40 days of leanness.

I can hear all you triathletes now: Did I hear something about leanness? Sign me up!

Last Saturday’s 80 mile trek through Joshua Tree.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, really. I’m here to talk about fat.

As a triathlete—which is basically synonymous with some degree of food obsession—the notion that eating fat doesn’t make you fat is something I’m still learning. It’s becoming more well known that stuffing ourselves with low fat and nonfat everything doesn’t work, as such foods are often loaded with extra sugar and fillers to make up for the lack of flavor. I’m still developing a healthier relationship with food overall, but I think triathlon has helped me come to love and appreciate fat. I no longer shiver in fear at the sight of a bright yellow yolk breaking over a thick slab of perfectly-cooked bacon.

I’m not knowledgeable enough to go into the whole burning fat as fuel/carbohydrate debate, but today I’m celebrating the f-word in all its delicious forms. (My favorites: Avocados, nuts, coconut oil, eggs, and all things pork.)

So go eat some good fat today. Or go be spontaneous, where it’s often the hardest. Either will do you good.

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