I discovered Matt, the Plant Powered Coach on Instagram and love following his adventures. He is really modest too. Ask him his achievements and he’s very low key about it (see below!). Matt has actually completed 5 half Ironman’s, 3 marathons, a 50-mile ultra marathon and a full Ironman, as well as lots of other triathlons in between. He is a beautiful family man who loves to show people how to be kind and compassionate through his lifestyle and work as a certified vegan lifestyle coach. Matt can work with you wherever you are located so look him up on his website.
How long have you been vegan?
What made you decide to become vegan?
I went vegan nearly 4 years ago after I decided to train for an Ironman triathlon. While I was researching how to train for the epic feat that is an Ironman I came across numerous athletes (Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek) who had switched to a plant based or vegan diet and had more success in their athletic careers. When I came across this information I was at first very hesitant but as I read more information and talked to more people it seemed to make the most sense. I switched to a vegan diet overnight and it has by far been the best personal decision I have ever made in my life (don’t tell me wife!)
What differences have you noticed with your training or lifestyle?
Within two weeks of switching to a vegan diet I noticed a tremendous difference in my energy levels, my quality of sleep and my focus. As a high school student I was diagnosed with ADD and my attentiveness has always been an area of weakness. I noticed early on that on a vegan diet my focus improved immensely which not only helped me at work but also made me a much better husband and father. Within a 3 months I dropped 5 pants sizes and lost nearly 25 pounds.
Tell us about your chosen sport and training. What does it involve?
My sport that I truly love the most is running but I would consider myself an all-around endurance athlete. I do love the sport of triathlon and all 3 of the disciplines that are triathlon but running is so simple and requires so much less. I love the simplicity of going out my front door and simply running anywhere. I am at my true inner peace when I am out in the woods running, I love the smells, the sounds and the energy that I get from being alone in the woods.
How often do you train?
When I am training for a big event such as a marathon or ultra-marathon I am usually lacing up the running shoes 3-4 days a week, it would be pushing it to get in 5 days a week. I would love to do more but my body simply doesn’t accept that much training in a single sport, especially running. I try to mix it up with some swimming and at least 2 days a week of yoga.
Tell us about some of your achievements to date?
I haven’t yet won any race overall and honestly I am not that interested in putting in the time and effort that it would take to do so. I have won my age group a few times and have placed at a few different triathlons in my AG but that’s about it as far as official achievements. As I have gotten a bit older (36) I have learned to appreciate the simple achievement of being able to complete major endurance events. I am greatly appreciative that I am able bodied enough to challenge myself and continue to push my boundaries. I love being an inspiration for others to get off the couch and to do something positive in their life.
How do family and friends react to your vegan lifestyle?
At first my family was not totally on board with it and questioned whether it was healthy and if I should be doing it. Over time they have come to understand it a bit more and have become more open to trying the foods that I prepare. My friends were similar and I got some teasing about my lifestyle choice but when I began to explain it the teasing stopped and they actually became very interested in it.
How do you promote your vegan lifestyle?
I like to lead by example and share my knowledge to those that are interested. If a person comes to find out that I follow a vegan lifestyle and are interested in learning more I will share with them everything that they want to know. I also enjoy cooking and sharing my food with others to show them vegan food is delicious as well as nutritious. I aim to not be brash and in your face about my vegan lifestyle because that is not something that would appeal to me and I think most people would be turned off by it as well.
What do you eat in a typical day?
For breakfast I generally have either a large fruit and veggie smoothie, oatmeal or on the weekends a big tofu scramble with tons of home fries.
At lunch I generally eat leftovers from the previous night’s dinner which might be a veggie lasagna, veggie meatloaf, black bean burger with roasted potatoes or something similar.
I try to get in at least 1-2 big salads a week to make sure I am getting in lots of different veggies as well as all of my greens. I do love a huge macro bowl filled with all different types of greens, beans and roasted veggies.
My favorite dessert has to be banana ice cream with chopped dates, cacao nibs and peanut butter!
What is your favourite food or recipe?
My favorite food hands down is a macro bowl topped with a miso tahini salad dressing. I love the different flavors and textures that come together and every bite is like tasting a whole new dish!
Do you take any supplements?
The only supplement that I take is a B12 spray, which I do once a day in the morning.
What advice would you give to people thinking of going vegan?
The best advice would be to connect with some other people that are vegan that fit your mentality. You need to find someone that is also like minded that can help to support you. I don’t think that it is tremendously difficult to go vegan but like anything new it has its challenges. Having someone there to help you along the way at least for the first few months can be extremely helpful. I would also advise them to continue to educate themselves about veganism by watching documentaries, reading books and listening to podcasts. It’s helpful to be able to explain your reasons to people that will undoubtedly ask you why you are doing this.
What events or other exciting things do you have planned in the next 12 months?
I am currently training for the NYC Marathon and the NYC 60K which is just a short two weeks after the marathon. I don’t yet have any other events on the calendar but I would like to possibly get in at least 1-2 more marathons and another ultramarathon.
What do you do outside of your sport/training for fun?
I love working in my garden, cooking and wood working. I like to dabble in a lot of different things that keep my creativity active and feeds my desire to try new things. I do like to surf and paddleboard as well but again its generally a big process to get everything together to do either so it doesn’t happen as much as I would like.
Who are your biggest motivators in life?
My biggest motivators by far is my wife and my two children (with a 3rd on the way). Whenever I find myself being challenged mentally or physically with a task I think back to them and it gives me the energy to keep pushing forth. I find this especially true when I am doing something new that I am a bit scared of, I think of what kind of example I want to be for them and that is usually all I need to get over the hump.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
The last thing that I would add in is that it is extremely important for everyone to find that thing that gives them joy, contentment and gets their heart beating. Whether that is veganism, painting, writing or anything, find that thing that motivates you and start putting some energy into it. Every day I run into people that tell me how unhappy they are with their job, their life and they don’t know what to do. I ask them what would you rather be doing if money wasn’t an issue and whatever that is, I encourage them to simply start thinking more about that thing that excites them. Simply by thinking about it more it starts to motivate them to maybe make a change. I also encourage them to maybe spend a little more time each day or week doing that thing that makes them happy and to possibly start talking to other people that are doing the job that they wish they were doing. Most importantly I tell them to listen to their heart, take some time to really listen to what they most truly desire and soon enough they find their way.
If you would like to follow Matt, The Plant Powered Coach on social media head on over to the following links:
Thank you so much Matthew. Keep an eye out on the blog every Fitness Friday for more vegan athletes.