Gold medal swimmer coming to El Campo
Oct. 17, 2012 at 5:17 a.m.
Updated Oct. 18, 2012 at 5:18 a.m.
Aspiring swimmers in the Crossroads area have a chance to learn from someone who has won on the sport's biggest stage on Saturday.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Garrett Weber-Gale will conduct a swim clinic at the El Campo Aquatics Center.
Weber-Gale, an 18-time all-American and national champion for the University of Texas, was a part of the United States' 400-meter men's relay team at the 2008 games in Beijing.
He recently talked with the Victoria Advocate about swimming and nutrition.
What have you been up to the last four years?
GWG: I've founded a company called Athletic Foodie and you can find that at athleticfoodie.com. It's an online resource for people to find information about how to eat healthier and live healthier. We have nutritionists that write for us, physical therapy groups, a chiropractor writes for us occasionally, I write for it. Our whole goal is trying to get people to live healthier lives by making simple choices with what they eat. The clinics that we're running, the Athletic Foodie clinics, are a big part of it. A lot of our focus in the clinic is talking about nutrition, simple ideas people can do in order to eat healthier. I write a column for Athletic Foodie about ways that kids can eat healthier, I'm doing a bunch of public speaking on the concept. Really, what I'm doing is I'm figuring out ways to make healthy food taste delicious.
I've gone on culinary apprenticeships in famous kitchens around the world, in Italy, France, Copenhagen and most recently in Spain as well as New York. I've learned from these very famous chefs classic techniques and recipes and I've been transforming those into healthier versions. I've been working on a book and I hope to sell the book concept within the next four months.
How important balancing the workout aspect of swimming with good, healthy meals?
GWG: It's very important and I was forced to start cooking because I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I was forced to learn how to cook and I saw a nutritionist and really started getting into nutrition. I started getting private cooking lessons from a chef in Austin and kind of went crazy on this whole notion of learning how to eat healthy and make nutritious meals for myself so that's what I did. It's just been an incredible journey, I realize the huge difference that eating healthy food and food that tastes good made on my performance in the pool as well as out of the pool.
How important have these clinics been to spreading the message of healthy eating?
GWG: The clinics are definitely important. It's always important to reach kids, their parents and give them unique tips for how they can live healthier. I think we can reach a larger amount of people with this. I really love working with kids and their parents. The clinics are very important. One of the other ways I get the message out is I teach cooking classes. Last year I was featured in Sports Illustrated, this past summer I was featured in USA Today as well as Food and Wine Magazine in the September issue. It's really just all encompassing, I'm doing a lot of public speaking, working with kids, everything I can possibly do, or think to do to get my message out is what I'm trying to do to help people be healthier and continue to expand my reach and my platform.
Are there certain things that people who attend the clinics tell you they didn't know about the food they or their kids were eating?
GWG: People are always surprised when I give them tips on eating healthy. Simple things like "What should I eat after I work out?" or "What should I eat after I race?" and I tell them pack some dried mangos and a granola bar for after you work out. And they're "Oh, really. that's good to eat?" They're like "Wow, that's really simple." It really is simple. The other thing I talk to people about is assign a certain amount of treats per week that you're willing to have. It may be six or seven and a treat may be some pizza or a cookie for dessert, or whatever and stick to that. Usually, my deal is I have two, maybe three, treats a week. What I want people to do is start with a number, maybe six or seven if you're just starting out, and try to decrease it by one every month or month and a half. What you realize is it's really not that hard to eat healthier and to cut those treats out if you do it in a process over time. I can't tell you how many people come up to me and tell me "Garrett, I can't believe it's so easy to eat healthier. I didn't really know that you can have delicious food that is also healthy for you." Really, that's my message. I don't want to try to radically change anyone's diet, that's not what I'm here to do, I'm here to teach them simple ways they can be healthier and that's really what the Athletic Foodie website is about.
What can people attending the clinic expect to learn about swimming and nutrition?
GWG: Well, they can expect to definitely learn about things they can do in the water to be faster and technique is a huge deal with that. Having better technique is a really fundamental thing that everyone needs to do to be faster. And then they can also learn simple ideas for snacks which they can eat before or after practice. Simple ideas for dinners, there's so many basic things that people aren't doing. When should you be eating protein? When should you be eating carbohydrates? It's just really incredible what people don't know and it's always exciting for me to teach them. Really what I'm trying to do along with the Athletic Foodie clinic is to help people realize it's not just one thing you do that's going to make you successful. Working hard in the pool is great and you need to do it, but you need to also watch your diet, watch how much you're hydrating and think about when you're going to sleep and what you're eating. It's all about doing the little things right.