The scene is the inGamba office in Sausalito on a balmy summer’s morning. The protagonists: Ted King, the recently retired World Tour rider, and his portly apprentice, aka Jim Merithew, our Creative Director and resident funny man. Jim has decided he wants to get fit … and Ted has decided he needs a challenge. So he’s going to use his lifetime’s experience as an elite athlete to counteract Jim’s lifetime experience as a prolific consumer of ice-cream and pastries.
Jim: Hey Coach Ted. Should I forgo the carbs and get on a paleo diet like Chris Froome?
Ted: Carbs are the devil, Jim.
Jim: The Tasty Devil.
Ted: That said, unless you’re adept with a bow and arrow and have an actual spork that you’ve whittled out of mahogany, I don’t believe in the paleo diet.
Jim: Praise Jes…
Ted: Not so fast. I do however strongly believe in eating really basic foods. Think about that classic Italian food – utterly delicious, yet still really healthy. When you eat a plate of pasta in the heart of Italy, there are four or five ingredients on your plate.
Jim: Including the egg, flour and salt that goes into the pasta?
Ted: No one likes a smart-ass, Jim. Don’t make me tell João on you. The point is, if you can count the ingredients on your plate on one hand, you’re likely good to go. Cut the boxed crap, and the jarred sauces. It’s garbage. Stick to the basics.
Jim: And treats?
Ted: Since you’re not drawing a wage for your on-bike performance and you’re not trying to better your VO2 by a fraction of a percentage point, there still exists a time and place for everything. Drink a beer, have a glass of wine, eat a cookie. Heck, have two. The goal is to not eat the entire bag of potato chips and down a bottle of wine. Classy, yes. Healthy, no.
Jim: Bags of chips and bottles of wine are bad. I need to write this down …
Ted: Let’s set the goal of eating one really healthy meal per day. Lunch or dinner are easy and for that you can make an enormous salad. I mean enormous. Can you picture a salad bowl that looks fitting for a family of four? Good, eat out of that. Lots of greens as a base – arugula and baby kale are divine – then just go crazy. Chop some red cabbage, tomato, whole beans, artichoke hearts, char some Brussels sprouts, roast cauliflower, cut fresh raw corn directly off the cob, olives, a sprinkling of cheese, handful of seeds or nuts or whateverthefuckyouwant as long as it’s a single ingredient grown from the earth, put it in your enormous salad bowl. Use good olive oil and balsamic or lemon juice as a dressing. If you want a creamy dressing, add a spoonful of plain yogurt. This is healthy AF and it comes with a huge bonus: each morning when you wake up and visit the bathroom, you’ll feel like you dropped 10lbs.
Jim: And after that trip to the throne?
Ted: Breakfast is basic too. Oatmeal from a silo is 10 times out of 10 better than oatmeal from a waxy paper packet. The silo = 1 ingredient. The packet = 12 ingredients.
Jim: I’m starting to see a trend …
Ted: From there, the bowl is your canvas and you’re the artist. Go berserk.
Jim: I’m worried that you’re making too much sense.
Ted: Start with an achievable goal. Work from that one massive salad per day and don’t change anything else. Get through a week of that. Add this aforementioned basic, but filling and still freakin’ healthy and delicious breakfast, then boom, you’re cruising.
Jim: I can already feel my strength to weigh ratio climbing faster than Froomey running up Mont Ventoux.
Ted: Then reward yourself after a week. Get proper tipsy on Sunday night or have a half pint of ice cream. Just do that after a week you’re truly proud of how you’ve eaten and after you’ve had a kickass Sunday workout on the bike.
Jim: By kick-ass, you mean more than my spin to the bakery?
Ted: If you don’t know your Sunday workout, call your coach on Saturday night. He’s on call 24/7 for you, Jim. But for now, what are we getting for breakfast?
Jim: Millionaire’s bacon and french toast?
Ted: Try some steel-cut oatmeal with fruit.
Jim: I hate you, Coach Ted.
Ted: See how you feel about me when you drop a jersey size.
Jokes aside, Jim has been through the mill this year with some pretty serious health issues. You can read about his brush with death here. We’ll be tracking his progress and showering him with support here on the blog in the coming weeks, with maybe a dash or two of constructive criticism. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @inGambaTours and on Facebook for updates.