After receiving an invitation to interview Pam Boteler at the recent Riverview Community Centre’s 2019 Main Street Bldg. Open House, I jumped at the opportunity to sit down with a community member who, in my opinion, has done an amazing job. Pam is a self-proclaimed geek, a bit of a geek herself, and is extremely passionate about what she does.
Pam Boteler is a cartoonist who draws for various publications including The American Prospect and The American Prospect. She’s also written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and many other publications. She was the illustrator of the comic series The Muffin Tops, and illustrated a collection of poems by Deborah Schneider. She’s currently the Art Director for The American Prospect.
At PN, we understand how essential it is to make healthy eating choices. We realize that many people prefer plant-based diets, so we’ve included a lot of information in our PN System and the PN Member Zone on how to do it correctly.
We covered All About Raw Food last week and interviewed author Lierre Keith, who was a vegan for 20 years before making major dietary adjustments. Pam Boteler, a sprint canoeist and raw vegan advocate, is featured this week as an athlete who chose a different path.
Pam discusses her diet, champion mentality, and how nutrition drives her world-class performance in this video.
Cameron Davidson is the photographer for this image.
What are the requirements of sprint canoeing?
Sprint canoeing requires a wide range of abilities, including balance, speed, accuracy, power, and endurance.
You’re dealing with more than just your own body; you’re also dealing with the equipment that’s connected to it. Manipulation of the boat requires a high level of expertise as well as physical fitness.
You’re outdoors, and you have to contend with the elements.
What is the nature of your training?
I go to the Washington DC Canoe Club in Georgetown DC six days a week to train. My coach is a former Polish national champion kayaker. In Gainesville, GA, I have another canoe instructor who was a top Romanian canoeist and is now one of the best in the United States.
We practice on the water; depending on the exercise session and time of year, my water practice may take anywhere from 1-2 hours (longer in winter).
I work out with a strength and conditioning coach twice a week in the evenings, and the other two times I follow the coaches’ general weight lifting program, which has been customized to suit my requirements.
I work out twice a week in the evening with a professional strength and conditioning coach, and for the third or fourth weights session, I follow the coaches’ general weight lifting program, which has been customized to suit my requirements.
I, too, run. Running changes throughout the year; in the winter, I run more. Or I go for a cross-training session after practice.
On my own, I perform extra flexibility work.
In addition to water practice, I perform land training on my own at the dock or in front of a mirror to improve my technique. I keep repeating the posture I’m in in the boat, emphasizing my technique.
I also put in a lot of mental work. I see myself in the boat, paddling properly, like the world’s best paddlers; I use visual imagery as well as “feel-agery,” in which I attempt to feel what I’m meant to be doing; I think about eating and sleeping well, being happy, and surrounding myself with good supporting people.
There is a lot of additional material included in the course, which is why I refer to it as holistic training. It must all be contained in a single packaging.
I workout twice a day on certain days. On other days, I just do one 2-hour morning session. On Saturdays, I have lengthier workouts – paddling, jogging, and lifting weights — that may last up to 2.5 hours, but are typically closer to 3.
As a result, I workout for approximately 10-12 hours each week.
How do you deal with these pressures?
It has a lot to do with my mentality and how I arrange myself. I’m at a stage in my life when efficiency and precision are required.
Because I work full-time, I don’t have time to play. I work on WomenCAN projects, maintain my website, create articles, stay up with information, and develop relationships – I have to email, speak to people, conduct research, and all of that takes time.
As a result, I need to be extremely organized and make sure I get adequate sleep, as well as “recovery” in general (which sometimes means saying “no” and doing nothing).
Again, this represents my holistic training philosophy: to get the task done, you need to bring the entire person to the table and eliminate the weakest link.
There are many aspects to achieving optimum peak performance. You must put out your best effort and leave no stone unturned.
Some may think I’m a bit too anal, but I’m not interested in doing things in moderation. If I want to accomplish anything well, I want to strike everything as hard as I can and be as powerful as possible.
Discuss the value of mental preparation and concentration.
You can do all the physical preparation in the world, but without mental training to help you push beyond your pain threshold or prepare for the tension and pandemonium of the race start, you’ll be psychologically destroyed. You must be very aware of your surroundings.
Heavy meals, such as those with a lot of condiments like salts, oils, and spices, seem to weigh me down or back me up when I consume too many prepared dishes lately. They make me feel hazy and agitated. I have greater mental clarity and concentration when I consume lighter but more nutritionally rich meals. I’m more capable of processing information.
This is also true on an emotional level. Many individuals, like myself, are emotional eaters — and I’ve been a food addict for a long time. I’ve learned to identify the triggers and understand how they impact my performance and general well-being.
Our connection with food is comparable to our relationship with other people.
As I began to have more epiphanies about the foods I was eating and the issues they caused me (stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, lack of emotional, physical, and mental recovery, and so on), it became clear that my food relationship was causing me the same issues in my “real life” with people and daily challenges.
This skewed connection with food prevented me from reaching my full potential — not just as an athlete, but as a human being.
(By the way, elimination diets also include eliminating negative individuals!)
If you’re going into a race or a training session, you need to be able to find a place of calm where you can process your emotions and let them flow through you like a whirlwind.
That is something that the majority of us want to avoid. We attempt to repress things much too frequently, rather than clearing the roadway and allowing the tornado to pass through. It’s OK to “park” items — that is, put them aside so you can focus on the job at hand. However, the feelings must be dealt with or they will resurface, stronger than before.
I continue to make errors, but this just serves to strengthen my positive habits and the route I’ve chosen.
I spend less time feeling “dragged down,” trudging through quicksand, foggy, or sad, and more time with clarity, concentration, and better vision, thanks to proper diet. I’m more efficient.
How do you balance your nutrition with the demands of your sport?
I believe I am stronger as a whole than I have ever been.
True, I haven’t been injury-free. I didn’t dislocate my shoulder or tear my tendons and ligaments because of my diet. The injury was caused by a weakness in my strength and fitness, which has now been addressed.
However, the manner I ate aided in my recovery. Three months after my accident, I was back racing and running close to my personal best timings. Given the intensity of the tears, I still find that amazing.
I can obtain the calories I need in a way that is rapidly digested and absorbed when I eat plant-based. I can rapidly utilize the energy and it does not drag me down.
The food I consume hydrates me. Athletes must remain hydrated at all times. Processed meals dehydrate you. I don’t want to steal Peter to pay Paul by depending on short-term energy sources that don’t really feed or hydrate me.
Fruit is my first choice for fueling my exercises since it provides the appropriate nutrients and kind of energy.
When you consider the biology of it, the source of fuel becomes almost self-evident. Bananas, melons, grapes, coconut water, and mangoes are all excellent ways to keep me going throughout a workout while still being kind on my stomach.
Smoothies made with fruits are excellent. Or “mono-meals”: for example, I’ll just take a watermelon and scoop out a bowl of it. (During the summer, I usually have 4-5 little children approaching me after Saturday exercises, begging for slices of watermelon or cantaloupe!) Then there are the greens and veggies. Banana smoothies with coconut water or just regular water, and maybe some ice for thickness, are one of my favorites. Green smoothies are a tasty treat later in the day (e.g., bananas, kale and coconut water). By blending the greens, you may enhance your greens intake (which needs to be high on a raw vegan diet).
This is straightforward and straightforward. If it becomes difficult, it’s because I’ve created it so!
I don’t want an irritated gut or adrenal glands that aren’t functioning properly. I want to treat my body as well as others treat their cars. People are much more concerned about what they feed their dogs.
How did you get started as a raw vegan?
It wasn’t simply a nutritional adjustment for me. It was a life-changing experience for me.
Change doesn’t happen until it’s more painful to stay the same and/or the change is so significant that turning back is no longer an option.
I used to be solely focused on pain avoidance, trying to discover methods to avoid feeling pain. Now I’m leaning in the direction of flourishing and optimum health.
There is no way I can go back to eating meat. I don’t want a dish of spaghetti or a plate of pancakes with hash browns on the side.
I was in a relationship with someone who was extremely knowledgeable about diet approximately 8 years ago. I’d had irritable bowel syndrome for nearly 15 years and was still dealing with an eating issue at the time (for almost 2 decades).
He took me down a path of various cleansing protocols and dietary changes. The most significant dietary change at the time was to give up cereal (for breakfast and dinner), pasta, muffins, bagels and almost all breads. These were very addictive for me and I finally figured out how addictive when I eliminated them (and then later tried them again!).
In late 2005, I had a “aha” moment while listening to Robert Cohen’s audiobook “Milk: The Deadly Poison” and then doing further research on dairy. (For additional information, see All About Milk.)
I was astounded by what I read, so I conducted my own tests on myself, gradually removing dairy. Dairy was usually included with cereals and other processed/grain-based foods, as well as in protein powders).
This was a life-changing experiment. It was the start of the next big step in my personal development.
It is not about an identity for me to eat plant-based and raw. I’ve never sought, and still don’t want, a label.
I was, and continue to be, laser-focused on my health and feeling my best so that I can perform at my highest level in all I do. As a result, in order to achieve this goal, I follow a “route” or a lifestyle.
Right now, I’m doing this by eating as much complete, fresh, ripe, raw, and ideally organic fruits and veggies as I can. “I eat a plant-based diet,” I like to say.
What part in your diet does the idea of “ethical eating” play?
It’s difficult to be in a vegan or raw vegan group without hearing or reading about the negative impacts of the cattle, dairy, and grain sectors on not just our health but on the animals and the environment.
I started looking into the inhumane treatment of animals, as well as the unsettling and filthy medicines, other chemicals, and environmental dangers that are a part of what we consume on a daily basis.
I understood that consuming animal products and stocking up on grains (which, by the way, also fuel the beef/dairy business) contributed not just to my own poor health, but also to illness in my family, friends, and people all over the globe. And research continues to show that these sectors have a negative impact on the environment.
Yes, eating mainly raw vegan allows me to show compassion not just for myself but also for animals and the environment. Everything is in place.
My first task was to deal with what I could manage.
My first concern has always been my personal health and well-being. If I don’t take care of myself first, I can’t take care of anybody or anything else in this world.
Once I got “myself” healthier, I saw that becoming raw vegan had a direct, immediate, and undeniable effect on improving my athletic performance and extending my athletic career. It’s now a foregone conclusion.
I still make errors and consume prepared food or cereals on occasion. I do it sometimes when I’m going out to eat, when I’m unprepared, or just because I’m lazy. These are difficult lessons to learn, but they are becoming fewer and further between these days.
The contrast between how I feel when I’m eating mostly fruit and when I’m eating non-raw things is mind-boggling. It’s a deep statement. There’s no going back now.
Everyone is on their own path, which I appreciate. Others who were farther along in their path offered grace to me when I was a non-vegan. I just want to return the favor.
I aim to make my personal connections about the spirit, energy, and relationship at the table rather than the food on the table. I’m working on improving my sense of humour in order to assist diffuse some tense situations!
With individuals, I’m finding that more doors are opening than shutting. No one can disagree with that — or defeat me in that debate — if they realize my emphasis is on my health/well-being and optimum athletic performance.
I don’t lecture or justify what I do or what another person “should” do; I just do it, and they see the consequences. People understand it, as well as myself, without my having to say anything.
How do you deal with the dietary difficulties you face on a daily basis?
I go to the grocery store more often for fresh vegetables and attempt to go to farmers markets more often. I need to be more organized when it comes to the amounts and stages of ripeness of different foods, as well as the preparation of my daily meal requirements.
I do some preliminary research on restaurants to see if there is anything on the menu that I am interested in. In addition, I offer recommendations for locations to visit.
I’m not scared to ask for something that isn’t on the menu to be cooked differently, or to ask for something that isn’t on the menu but that I know would be used in other meals (like tomatoes or cucumbers). Unfortunately, it may occasionally create a commotion, especially if the waitstaff is impatient or uninformed about food in its natural condition (i.e., no salt, oil, more tomatoes please, etc.).
When I go to someone’s home to dine, I always offer to bring a dish – typically a huge salad or large bowl of fruit, such as a big fruit salad (which I invariably eat half of!).
My Canoe Club recently had a major race, and thereafter we prepared a large dinner for the participants (a Thanksgiving meal for our Canadian friends). I made a large salad with only greens, grated bell peppers and carrots, and cherry tomatoes, and a dressing in the blender with just tomatoes, avocado, basil, dried tomatoes, and a pinch of garlic. I was overjoyed and overjoyed that everyone enjoyed it!! For me, it’s very satisfying to figure out how to create something that people would like.
It’s not easy to date. It may seem like a barrier at times, as if eating this way is less enjoyable. To be honest, I can think of a lot more locations to have a good time than the dinner table.
What about dietary supplements?
Instead than trying to make yourself feel better by supplementing — or “adding to” — your diet, consider eliminating the source of your issues (be it lack of sleep, too many bad fats in the diet, too much stress, too many starchy and complex carbohydrates, etc.).
First and first, address the underlying nutritional issue. No stone should be left unturned.
There are times when supplementation is necessary to help a person get through a health crisis, but they are supplements, not replacements for healthy living habits like a raw plant-based diet.
What do you think the future of vegan sports will be like?
I see a future that is unquestionably vegan, but especially low-fat raw vegan.
I’ve heard many instances of national team nutritionists recommending vegetarian or vegan diets to athletes, yet their diet plans are largely focused on pastas, grains, legumes, oils, salts, and other processed foods. The nutritional plan is dominated by these items.
As a consequence, athletes grow drowsy and lose their strength – their “tiger instinct” – over time. They blame it on those whiny vegetarians and vegans, rather than on a lack of fruits and vegetables in their diet – and the calories they receive from these foods.
Getting enough fruit and vegetables, as well as sufficient calories, is the most important thing they can do to feed every cell in their body, but they aren’t doing it. As a result, they return to drug-laced meat and dairy products and resume their brief lives.
Fruits and vegetables are already recommended as the number one and two sources of nutrition for athletes by the IOC and all major medical publications for general health. Martina Navratilova, a tennis legend, showed that she could still be a vegan national champion in a highly competitive atmosphere at the age of 50. With a raw vegan diet, NBA star Rodney Grandison was able to prolong his already lengthy basketball career by many years. Today, raw vegan athletes are setting world records on the roads, winning big Ironman triathlon races, and even winning bodybuilding contests — clean.
Most importantly, these winners aren’t simply champions for a short period of time; they stay at the top for a long time. With this food and lifestyle, healing time is significantly reduced, which is especially beneficial as one becomes older as recovery time usually declines. Because the athlete’s health takes first, careers are prolonged.
These sportsmen are in good health! Consider what happens to Olympic and professional athletes when they retire. Are they in good health?
Today is the day to “up your game” and enjoy the benefits. Leave no stone untouched in how you live your life, how you go about your everyday activities, and how you train — physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually – for athletes and weekend warriors alike.
It is possible to become a better “you.” Simply eat one delicious, fruity mouthful at a time and savor it.
Find out more.
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This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- high kneel canoe
- sprint pam
- pam boteler
- interview with pam boteler youtube
- interview with pam boteler on fox news