22/06/2024 11:35 PM


Swing your Cooking

Las Vegas rock climber Shaina Savoy wants to improve your diet, one healthy dish at a time

Las Vegas-based rock climber and nutrition therapist master-in-training Shaina Savoy lives a a beautiful life. Her Instagram (@shainasavoy) is full of pictures of her either hanging off the side of a cliff or eating delicious plant-based meals, not to mention the adorable dog pics and photos of her traveling the world with her pro-climber boyfriend Jonathan Siegrist.

While the rest of us might not be able to easily replicate her mountainous ascents, we can learn from her healthy eating habits. Savoy has almost completed her studies at Denver’s Nutrition Therapy Institute and she’ll soon be starting her own private practice to help climbers, athletes and the general public optimize their health and performance.

“I love plant-based nutrition. I love the way it makes my body feel and the performance benefits that it gives me for rock climbing,” Savoy says. “I want to help others also discover that for themselves as well.”

Savoy, who moved from Atlanta to Las Vegas for the rock climbing opportunities, discovered that she performed and recovered better when she ate a plant-based diet. What does that mean? “Plant-based can mean anything from being vegetarian to vegan to consuming a very small amount of meat a couple times a week,” says Savoy, who falls on the vegan end of the spectrum. “But the main common denominator is … minimally processed, whole-plant foods. So you’re eating a lot of whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, leafy greens and fruit.”

A plant-based diet made Savoy feel so good, she wanted to share her discovery with others. “I decided to go to school for nutrition, so that I can learn more and help others make the same choice for themselves,” Savoy says. “I love to help people transition to a plant based-diet and just make sure they’re getting the nourishment that their bodies need on a diet.”

For people who want to improve their eating but don’t know where to start, Savoy says, “Simpler is often better.” She suggests focusing on adding healthy foods rather than subtracting or restricting suboptimal foods. “That’s going to create longer-lasting change,” Savoy says.

Again, no need to overthink things. Savoy says to start by simply adding vegetables to two of your meals throughout the day. “People often overcomplicate nutrition and it’s unnecessary. It ends up stressing people out or making them feel restricted.”

Equally important to what you eat is how you think. Savoy suggests tuning into your body and reflecting on how different foods make you feel throughout the day. While eating, eliminate distractions, such as the phone or television. Observe and reflect on the thoughts, feelings and physical body sensations that you have after eating. Look at your emotions from a place of non-judgment. If you’re feeling fatigued or jittery, ask your body what message it’s trying to send you. If you’re craving sugar, rather than judging yourself harshly, consider why you might be feeling that way. Perhaps you’re not eating enough food or not fully enjoying your meals. Really ask yourself what role you want food to play in your body and then take some time to consider realistic ways to meet your goals, Savoy advises.

Ultimately, Savoy says, balance is needed to establish a lifestyle. “We should all strike a balance ultimately, between eating for enjoyment and also eating for nourishment and our health.”

Being mindful of how healthier choices improve your day-to-day wellbeing, will help keep you motivated, she says.

In her own daily menu, Savoy loves to eat plant-based “Buddha bowls.” Each bowl consists of five interchangeable elements: a carbohydrate (such as brown rice or a sweet potato); a vegetable; a protein (tempeh, tofu, beans); a small source of fat (avocado, peanut butter or some nuts and seeds); and some flavoring.

“I can’t stress the importance of choosing foods that you know that you love to eat,” Savoy says. “If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, don’t force yourself to eat Brussels sprouts.”

The key is learning to really appreciate the inherent deliciousness of real, unprocessed food. Ask Savoy about her favorite fruits and she gets downright excited. “I know they’re so basic, but I love bananas. I eat them every morning. And whatever is in season right now—I’m in love with all the melons.”

A typical day for Savoy

Breakfast Oatmeal with nut butter, banana, flaxseed, chia seeds and cinnamon.

Lunch Massaged kale with Green Goddess dressing, spicy roasted sweet potato, beets, avocado, tofu and pumpkin seeds.

Snack Mango, melon or berries with edamame or sliced peppers and carrots.

Dinner Rice with vegetable stir fry and tempeh.

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