This month’s interview I decided to go in a different direction than the usual runner / charity / fundraiser style. Anyone who knows me knows that my relationship[ with food is pretty shocking, anything unhealthy ends up in my belly somehow despite the fact that I still manage to run 100km races… Not quite sure how that one works. Running across America is a completely different ball game though, so I reached out to someone I have been following on Instagram for quite a while to ask for some insights into how to kick my bad habits and help find out how she helps so many people with their nutrition. Introducing, Grace Rockwell.
For those people who don’t know you or what you do, can you fill us in in 20 words or less?
I am a holistic nutrition consultant and fitness coach based out of Denver, Colorado.
You are also a gymnastic strength instructor. What exactly is this and how does including gymnastics in strength training benefit you more?
The type of gymnastics that I teach is based on the GymnasticBodies program, which caters specifically to adults. We don’t do back flips or balance beam routines, but rather use bodyweight strength and conditioning to strengthen the body. Our program emphasizes the importance of flexibility and mobility for injury prevention and longevity. This type of training is especially beneficial for its focus on mobility. Most adults, including athletes, lose the natural suppleness of the joints that we are born with, and this often results in chronic pain or other injuries. Working on joint mobility alone has solved these issues for so many people.
Was there a point in your life where you decided that you wanted to help people change their health or has it been something that you were always destined to do?
I would say I was destined to be a teacher of some kind, but it took me a while to figure out what that looked like. (I wanted to be a school teacher for a while, until I realized that I don’t really like kids that much haha!) When my health improved so much just by doing things like yoga and eating a whole foods diet, it made me want to teach others how to do the same.
So now that you are teaching others, what would you say you have found is the number one thing which stands in the way of people making a change to their eating and lifestyle habits?
One of the biggest obstacles is the mindset that leads people to believe they can purchase some kind of quick fix or magic pill. We live in a society that tells us we can have what we want when we want it, and that’s just not true with health and weight loss. These things take time and effort (lots of effort!), and sometimes people don’t like to accept that. They want to lose weight (now) and cure their health problems, but they also want to continue going to happy hour every night of the week. You have to be willing to be in it for the long haul, work really hard, make sacrifices, and surround yourself with like-minded people.
If you could pick 3 foods or food items that you couldn’t live without, what would they be and why?
I definitely can’t live without chocolate, obviously, because I’m a woman! 😉 I really love eggs, as they are my favorite protein source, I also love avocados because they’re very nutrient dense and taste great with just about anything. Does Sriracha count as a food?? (Ed: Most Definitely!)
Does Sriracha count as a food??
What is your current go to snack food? How can I put down those tasty chips!
I tend to gravitate towards sweet foods, so thankfully chips aren’t a temptation for me. I love all things sweet or chocolatey so I usually reach for fruit or a snack bar such as Larabar or RX Bar. I try not to keep things like cookies or pastries in my house because I’ll eat them all day every day!
I read all over the place that nutritionists recommend consuming very little caffeine. Do you have a recommendation for a caffeine replacement?
There’s nothing quite like coffee, am I right?! Decaf is always an option, but I usually recommend drinking something that is more nutritious. Green or black teas are awesome because even though they contain small amounts of caffeine, they also have something called L-theanine. L-theanine is a calming amino acid that helps offset the cortisol spike that causes that anxious, jittery feeling you get from caffeine. Other options are chicory or dandelion tea, as they have a dark and smoky flavor similar to coffee and are great for detoxification. I also have a delicious “Herbal Mocha” recipe on my blog that I use when I’m trying to ditch caffeine!
As you know, I am running across America. What would you expect to happen to the human body during and after running 162 back to back marathons, and is it possible to sustain it for that long?
I’m definitely not an expert in this kind of extreme endurance running, but I would imagine it would cause some wear and tear on the body! You’ll be burning through a shit-ton of calories and other nutrients so I’d say the most important thing is to make sure you’re fueling yourself well. Don’t skimp on healthy carbs, proteins, and fats. I would also recommend taking a quality multivitamin and getting extra vitamin C, B’s, electrolytes, and maybe even a probiotic. Lastly, you’re going to want to manage any inflammation that occurs as a result of all this running, so I would take a quality fish oil supplements and maybe even a turmeric supp as well. You might need an extra pack just for all your supplements!
With regards to nutrition and eating, what 3 tips would you give to the average runner to help them improve or hit their next PB?
Same things as I mentioned above. As with nutrition in general, quality matters. Eat whole, unprocessed organic foods as much as possible. Just because you’re athletic doesn’t mean you can eat shit, and it does impact performance. Managing inflammation with a fish oil and/or turmeric supplement can be really helpful for optimizing recovery. This isn’t nutrition related necessarily, but getting good sleep and managing stress is also really important.
I am currently on a mission to make sure that i’m drinking at least 3 litres of water every day as, like most people, I neglect the fact that I must drink enough. Why is it so important to keep yourself well hydrated?
Water is necessary for every single function of the body. It’s used to remove toxins and waste, helps transport nutrients into your cells, lubricates joints, maintains a healthy body temperature, and so much more. Especially when it comes to athletic endeavors, even a small amount of dehydration can negatively affect performance.
If you are interested in trying out some of the recipes from Grace then make sure you check out her website. She also has an amazing 3 week meal plan for around £10 which I am currently eating my way through, which contains so much more information than just recipes! Go check it out!