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Eat. Train. Race. Travel.

Welcome to Athlete Food - our continuous adventure to seek out healthy food around the globe and at our own dinner tables. Hope you are inspired to get on a plane or get out the plates and cook a healthy dinner tonight!

Melissa is on the Comeback Trail. She Swam a Mile!

Guns blazing, Laurel races under the Puerto Rican sun.  

Guns blazing, Laurel races under the Puerto Rican sun.  

Comeback Lunch by Melissa

Comebacks come in a lot of flavors. Laurel’s 10 year road from cancer survivor to Ironman winner takes the proverbial cake. But each of us has our goals and challenges, and no matter how modest our dreams seem in the shadow of Laurel’s intimidating biceps, there is nothing sweeter than that feeling that floods from head to toe when you find yourself on the cusp of success. 

My goal was to swim a mile. My comeback was (and still is) from having three kids and three back surgeries in five years. Last summer I finally had the confidence to kill that mile. I would splash into the pool, warm up with some aqua jogging, then pull strong for a half-mile—when my right leg would stop working, every time. I kept at it all summer, hopeful that if I dutifully logged time strengthening with Pilates and stretching to keep limber, the mile would come. 

Celebratig after swimming the mile. 

Celebratig after swimming the mile. 

It didn’t. After Labor Day the outdoor pool closed and the temperatures here in Nashville fell from the 90s to the bearable, making a hike on the many trails near my house a more spiritually satisfying outing than swimming a half-mile with an inevitable hard-stop. For nine months, the only hours I spent poolside were watching my kids’ swim lessons. 

Last week temperatures in the upper 90s pushed me back into the pool. I planned to swim my nine laps. But I kept going to 12. As of this morning, that mile is toast. My success came thanks to Laurel’s inspiration, Bec’s training plan, and endless patience and genius body positioning adjustment from TheAmyBody.

I’d forgotten how good it feels to decide when your workout is done, rather than hobbling out of the pool, hoping your leg regains feeling in time to drive home. I’d also forgotten how hungry I get when I swim. 

Not just right after, but for about 24 hours after a good swim, my metabolism keeps asking for more. Last week I hit a few nutritional lows. After one skimpy lunch, I munched bowl by bowl, through a bag of spicy sweet potato chips. Another day I was too hungry to fix lunch andinstead ate a Charles Chocolate crispy bar. Cue stomachache. 

This week, my comeback lunch menu is stacked in my favor: in my fridge are containers of washed lettuce leaves, sliced leftover skirt steak, a bundle of herbs from my friends’ garden, and jars of carrot ginger dressing from Gwenyth Paltrow’s cookbook (there’s a version on Goop,too). 

After logging my mile, I toasted leftover whole grain blueberry pancakes and dipped them into maple-spiked yogurt. Later, when the post-swim munchies hit, I’ll spread a few lettuce leaves on a plate, pile on the steak and basil, mint, and tarragon, dip the bundles into the ginger dressing (or my favorite peanut sesame sauce; I ignore the drizzling oil) and eat my own proverbial cake.



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