Name: Mike Portman
Year of Birth: 1986
Height: 6 ft
Weight: 150 lbs
Birthplace: Redwood City, CA
Current Residence: Burlingame, CA
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.
I am a triathlon coach (www.PortmanCoaching.com) and love it. I was never the super active type but once I became a total couch potato who easily gained the freshman 15, and more, in college I took a radical move (at the time) and decided to take care of myself. Never looked back.
Besides coaching and training in the sport of triathlon I also enjoy getting heckled at small comedy clubs and playing guitar.
Why did you become vegan?
I got the idea from one of my teachers in college. He just mentioned to the class that he was a vegetarian for environmental reasons. He noted that eating food directly from the ground took such less resources than feeding animals that food to just be eaten later. It takes roughly 13 pounds of grain to make just one pound of meat. It also takes around 100 gallons of water per pound of meat as compared to just 25 gallons for a pound of grain. There's also concerns of methane gases, water pollution, and land use. I just didn't want to contribute to that anymore.
I am very big with doing as much as I can for the environment so I decided to try. Going meat free was my first and only New Year’s resolution and it stuck. Did that for about 2 years and then I was challenged from a girl to go vegan as she noted that a vegetarian is ‘vegan lite’ so I decided to go all the way.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Around my 3rd year of college I went vegetarian. When that happened I realized how much more energy I had so I decided to run that energy out of me. Knowing a little bit on how to train smart for beginners, thanks older sis, I only ran 3 times a week. Those days off became tough! So I decided to hop on the bikes at the college gym. I got to train a fair amount but wanted to get some upper body work without being stuck inside at the gym. So I taught myself how to swim. Didn’t intend to be a triathlete but it just happened that I was doing all three sports so then it just led to racing.
Over time I learned how to train smarter and made more and more sacrifices to my schedule to make this sport as much of a priority as I can. That meant things like going to bed early and eating as well as I can.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
A lot is dictated by my training so the main motivation is to stay fueled for workouts while giving my body enough nutrition to recover and get stronger. So my vitamix is my friend.
I usually have a small smoothie of fruit before my first workout if it is longer than an hour. After the workout I have another smoothie. Perhaps in between that and the next workout I’ll have a veggie stir fry with quinoa (or some other whole grain) or a BIG salad. After the next workout it’s usually another smoothie. If I have eaten enough throughout the day I shouldn’t be totally starving for dinner so it’s something like banana ice cream (frozen bananas blended), a veggie dish, or even something simple as a fruit salad.
I never count calories as eating high quality fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans without salt and oil don’t need calorie counting. I also try to stay hydrated at all times. I do supplement with protein powder after workouts but no more than the typical endurance athlete does.
How would you describe your training program?
It’s a lot of swim, biking, and running. It depends on the week and time of year but per week I usually swim 3-4x, bike 3-4x, and run 3-4x. So most days I train twice a day if not more which results in my days being roughly 3-5+ hours of training. One day off a week to completely rest. Each training session has a purpose so every day is different. I also consider core and functional strength training to be almost a necessity to get stronger and stay injury free.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
That we are weak and malnourished. Plant based whole foods have no competition when it comes to the amount of nutrients they bring to an individual, per calorie. If you are a vegan and eat enough calories whole fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans then you are a nutrient power house!
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism or training?
For veganism I’d say start out slow. If you are a person who is eating a typical American diet you may not feel great going vegan overnight as the body takes and chance as stress, even it’s a good one. Try making one meal of the day vegan. For example it’s easy to make a tasty vegan breakfast with some oats, your favorite fruit, and a milk alternative (I like vanilla almond milk). Although I don’t it may be a good idea to count calories early on as many people who start tend to under eat which can be a cause for feeling tired and not as well as you used to. If you eat enough calories from whole plant foods from different sources then you will be a-ok.
In terms of training too many endurance athletes are too motivated for their own good. No one becomes a top athlete overnight. Be patient and give it time…. A lot of time! Too many injuries are caused by people pushing too hard, too fast, and for too long. Train smart!
No matter what the training is find an activity you enjoy. If you don’t like running then don’t do it as it most likely won’t stick.
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Feel free to check out my website www.PortmanCoaching.com and ‘like’ my page at www.facebook.com/portmancoaching for updates on me and the athletes that I coach as well as fitness tips.