Ali Day is an outstanding human! Not just from the perspective of how hard he trains and how hard he’s worked to overcome his nutritional deficiencies but in the way he treats those around him. Ali is one of the nicest guys in sport and it shows with his cult following. Everytime I spoke to Ali over the last 12 months it’s been a constant battle to get to the good stuff.. How is he feeling? How’s training been? Any signs of infection? How’s sleep quality? How are your strength levels? These are the questions I wanted answers to but Ali always wanted to ask about my new born baby, my wife, my training, my work with the Roosters and now Tigers. Eventually we would get to it but there was never a quick catch-up with Ali. He’s too nice of a guy!
Below you’ll see Pete Evans introduction to Alastair sharing his journey from sickness to health, from to tired to get out of bed to champion in one of the toughest endurance sports on the planet!
It’s been 13 months since I sat down with Ali and his mum and spoke about how he could get back to better than his former best through the 4 pillars approach I used to overcome the same problems. It’s also approach I used with the 2013 Premiership winning Sydney Roosters who won back to back minor-premierships and 4 out of 5 possible titles over the 2 years we followed this approach.
“I had a lot of people in my ear feeding me ideas that I couldn’t possibly sustain enough energy to train by eating only organic meats, fruits, vegetables and fats. In my sport, and most sports for that matter there is definitely a strong idea that you need loads of carbs or your going to wear out, so by sticking to the paleo guidelines and eating a diet low in carbs, I was definitely going against the grain (excuse the pun) and for that I copped a lot of criticism.”
IRON MAN —- FOOD FOR THOUGHT! You are going to love this inspiring young man’s story. It is the start of the new year and the energy radiating from todays guest is invigorating. I am pleased to introduce you to one of our brightest sports stars… Ali Day! Please share, tag and spread with your tribe.
Ali Day, Aged 24 was born and raised in Kiama, on the NSW South Coast and now lives in Mooloolaba, QLD where he trains as a Professional Ironman. Ali first qualified for the professional Ironman Series at the age of 18 and has since achieved numerous podium finishes, being a main contender to steal a series win from the Eckstein brothers. With back to back Coolangatta Gold wins under his belt Ali has made a name for himself as one of the best in the sport of professional ironman racing.
Since changing his approach to health and nutrition Ali has made a strong comeback to the sport, and currently sits at first place in the Professional Ironman Series and with only two rounds to go, it is possible he will be the only athlete to steal the crown off the Eckstein brothers in 8 years. Ali puts his improved performance down to his change in diet and new found health and if his current results are anything to go off- its clearly working. Its going to be exciting to see how he goes from here on in.
Alis vision for writing this post for you all is his wish to inspire everyone, especially the younger generation to THINK about the foods they are filling their bodies with.
Over to you ALI and thanks so much for sharing and we all wish you the very best mate!
It’s the way a lot of us work, we need something to go wrong, to shake us up a little before were ready to change, and that was me. This way of life, of health, had been suggested to me years before I gave it a go, but it was overlooked, eating the way I was, wasn’t causing me any harm (so I thought) so why change it?. How I got here today, this story, is my story of change, of how altering my diet and nourishing my body ultimately changed my life.
It was December, a year ago now, 2013, and while all the other athletes were boarding planes to fly to Western Australia, I was boarding my flight to Sydney. The South Coast of NSW was my hometown- Kiama, and a few hours drive from the AIS in Canberra where I had an appointment with (another) specialist to determine what exactly was going on with my health. After an early rise and a drive down the coast to Canberra I arrived, full of hope that this was going to be day I found out what I “had”. This marked around the 10th specialist appointment I had had in the past month, after finishing the Coolangatta Gold and not being able to return to training. None where able to tell me what I was looking for, a clear diagnosis of what was wrong with me and what I had to take to fix it. this was my view on health, if there was a problem, you went to the doctor, you got a prescription, you were better in a week (if only I knew the truth a little earlier right). After that day in Canberra and a month of hearing ‘you need rest’ ‘it could possibly be chronic fatigue’ ‘maybe your burnt-out’ I had had enough, I wasn’t going to anymore doctors, I was sick of hearing the same thing and getting no clear answers. I was down and out, I was sleeping for days, physically drained and now mentally strained as the prospect of having to live life this way horrified me. I questioned myself, my future, and my abilities as an athlete. I was never the best ironman out there growing up, (I still don’t believe I am) but I had a strong heart and determined nature that soon learnt that if I worked hard, so hard, everyday of the week, I could achieve, and now, at that time in 2013, my strength which was my hardworking, determined nature was taken from me as I struggled to get out of bed. How the hell was I going to be able to swim kilometers again? How was I going to be able to get through surf on a ski? Run along the beach? All things that a month ago I was doing fine, had been stripped from me, my strength, my fitness, my confidence, my health was gone.
“I was down and out, I was sleeping for days, physically drained and now mentally strained as the prospect of having to live life this way horrified me. I questioned myself, my future, and my abilities as an athlete.”
Days had gone by in bed and although I did my best to avoid all forms of social media and news I knew the first race of the Ironman series was approaching, and for the first time in 4 years I wasn’t there preparing. It was the eve of race one that I had a moment of clarity in what had been a month of confusion. This moment was one of determination, I knew myself better than these doctors, I knew I was capable of getting through this and I knew who I could go to, to guide me. It as two or three years ago that I was first put into contact with Keegan Smith, who at the time was working as head of Strength, Power and Nutrition with the NRL Sydney Roosters, and from what I remembered he had some different approaches to health matters and I was, at this point desperate to reconnect with him. I found his contact, shot him an email and that was it, my partner Kel and I were on our way to Bondi a few days later to meet him at a paleo café (whatever that was). Meeting with Keegan changed my life for the absolute best. He didn’t diagnose me with a set illness, or prescribe me medication in which I couldn’t read any of the ingredients. He was smart, and I hung onto each of his words. For every symptom I presented he had an immediate answer of why it was there, what vitamins and minerals I was lacking and putting pressure on my bodily systems leaving me feeling so low. Finally someone had answers, finally someone could tell me what to take, and all of it was found in food. I was about to use food to heal my body.
Step one for me was an absolute detox, raw fruit and veggies along with a combination of vitamins and a whole lot of water, for a week. Being a coeliac I was used to cutting out a lot foods from my diet, and I thought it’d be a breeze, but even from me, this was a real challenge and I was lucky to have the support of Kel who was doing it with me. Week one was done, the detox was done and all of a sudden I wanted to get up, I wanted to get out of the house and get back down the beach, I felt better than I had in weeks, already. Since the detox was done, I was craving some nachos, my favorite meal prior to all this, I felt I had earned it and so, I had it, I went to bed that night crippled with stomach pains. That was an important learning curve for me, all of a sudden these food I used to fill my body with having the preconception it didn’t matter as I trained so often that I would work them off, were actually destroying me. I looked fit and healthy on the outside but on the inside I was struggling. With the guidance of Keegan I began filling up on fresh juices, salads, raw vegetables and organic meats. I began to start surfing again, having enough energy to sustain me for half an hour out in the water, I stopped driving down the beach and began walking, I started waking up earlier than 9am again. I know all of this doesn’t sound like much but a few weeks early this was far beyond possible with my energy levels. I had come so far, and I still had a long way to go. I became so intrigued by foods and there impact on the human body, all of a sudden I felt like I was back in control, It was up to me to get back to optimum health. I researched and found such a wealth of resources that fell straight in line with what I was doing, with what Keegan had suggested I try, I was almost addicted to finding out all I could about the properties of natural, organic foods and to be honest I still am. I was learning about the benefits and feeling them all at the same time.
“Week one was done, the detox was done and all of a sudden I wanted to get up, I wanted to get out of the house and get back down the beach, I felt better than I had in weeks, already.”
It was a month after deciding to try out this new way of life that I decided to jump back in the pool and get back to a bit of training. It was a slow process of increasing my distance and slowly adding in running to the program, but I was swimming again, I was running for 20minutes and I was ecstatic about it as all those days of doubt were coming to an end. Six weeks had passed and I felt ready to head back up to the sunshine coast and recommence my daily routine training under the Michael King Ironman Academy. I was scared and I was nervous to see if my body would hold up under the intense physical demands we place on it in everyday training. I had the belief after feeling the changes it had brought me this far, but I had a lot of people in my ear feeding me ideas that I couldn’t possibly sustain enough energy to train by eating only organic meats, fruits, vegetables and fats. In my sport, and most sports for that matter there is definitely a strong idea that you need loads of carbs or your going to wear out, so by sticking to the paleo guidelines and eating a diet low in carbs, I was definitely going against the grain (excuse the pun) and for that I copped a lot of criticism. I went back to training, and I tested myself out, and the body ran smooth. I couldn’t wait to get home and share the good news with Kel. I felt great, I felt comfortable, in fact I felt better than I ever remembered, and so I was at peace- mentally much clearer than ever. It took me only about a week of regular training to understand that this new way of living, of eating was right for me and to have the strength to ignore what negativity others thought of it. I soon understood that by buying into all these ‘fads’ and performance enhancing guidelines we may well be doing our body harm, as I was.
“I was running for 20minutes and I was ecstatic about it as all those days of doubt were coming to an end.”
So what I live by now? Its simple, it’s easy and it is effective. I eat a clean diet of organic fresh meats and produce. It’s high in fats and low in carbs. It dates back to millions of years ago and it is what I believe our bodies were designed to consume. Yes it took me a real scare to try it, but now that I have I wont ever go back to my old ways. I used to spend my days eating breads, pastas, refined sugars and processed junk that I though was ‘healthy’ and would keep me going all because of marketing ploys that suggest just that. It turns out it destroyed me. The usual toast in the morning, banana smoothie (with ice cream) and sandwich at lunch, and spag bowl for dinner no longer reach my dining table, replaced with bacon and eggs, bowl of fresh greens, grilled chicken salads, steak and veg, spinach and kale smoothies, activated nuts and fresh fruit salads.
“I used to spend my days eating breads, pastas, refined sugars and processed junk that I though was ‘healthy’ and would keep me going all because of marketing ploys that suggest just that. It turns out it destroyed me.”
There are few that continue to question my new way of living, whether I’m getting enough calcium without milk is a common one, when chances are they themselves are lacking more essential vitamins and minerals than I now am, and I have no problem with that, because I don’t question it for a second. Now I’m not only back where I wanted to be physically and mentally, I am so far beyond what I ever though was possible and its all due to my new way of life, my diet, my paleo lifestyle. Each day I wake up thankful for this realization and approach I now have, and as I see more and more people open up to the idea of using food to live a fuller, healthier and happier life I am glad. And if by writing this I can encourage just one of you to give it a go, I can promise you too, will too be thankful.
My vision is that I want to be able to provide the younger generations with the knowledge needed so they can make conscious decisions about what they are eating. It is my goal to share my story and show individuals just how simple it is to take control of their health to get the most out of there bodies not only as an athlete in training but a normal guy in everyday life.
Thanks Ali…you are a bloody legend mate and I can already feel that the ripple that you have created will create a massive wave of youngsters, and maybe a few of the old school change their views on FOOD is MEDICINE. Oh and a huge thank you to Cyndi O’Meara for telling me about this young man.
If you want to follow Ali on Facebook then please like his page here
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