Meet Xavier :: Vegan Decathlete

I am so excited to introduce you all to Xavier Clais. He's a decathlete {one of the World's Greatest Athlete's}. He's a bronze metal winner. He's successful. He's cool. And...he's a vegan. 

I have the opportunity to chat with him over email about his diet and his life as a decathlete. Read the interview below.

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Juli: Your considered a Decathlete - which means you're the one of the World's Greatest Athletes. 

How does that feel?

Xavier: Well its feels great, I'm working hard everyday, even the days I really don't feel like doing anything, but I still get up and go for it. And if I'm on the track by myself, it take a good amount of inner motivation to keep going and make the time, if not going faster; now at the same time the fact that I have a ton of people around supporting me in achieving my goal, add to the fact that I don't want to grow old and have regrets: those are the things that keep me going toward my goal.

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J: Tell us a quick blurb about yourself and your sport. Don't be modest. 

X: Ah ahah, good thing you mention not to be modest, I'm not the kind of guy that brags about it; In general I just give the facts like they are because I know where I stand at the national level.

Anyway, I came here in 2008 on an scholarship at Eastern Michigan University for the Track and Field team. Its been 17 years that I'm running track now, and It took me 3 years to reach the level necessary (7ft, in high jump, Top 10 nationally)  to get my ticket for the US. And when I got here, the culture of sport really opened my eyes to the possibilities, potentials, and of course the joy to go after something bigger than myself.

So my first 3 years in the team we won 3 MAC Championships, and I like to think that I was a big part of it because of the way that I lead the guys, and push them: by always being in front and pushing myself harder and to bring out the best in them, too. Since I am from France and the culture of track over there being more technical, the Coach let me direct and teach some of my knowledge to the rest of the team.

So after my first year and season with the US team, I went back home to finish my personal season; and I finished with my best performance ever. I finished second in National with a Hold up at 7-2-1/2 (video on Facebook) . The following year, I won the national title in high jump outdoor, and felt really good about it. This was my first win ever in my event. Moving forward in 2011, in May I came to a point of my life where I didn't have anything to lose (sad break up to be honest), and I made two decisions, one of which was to not let anything stand in my way and go after my ultimate dream: RIO 2016, with the help of my current Coach Chris Huffins (who has a bronze medal from the Decathlon in 2000 at Sydney) because there was no way in my mind that I would grow old and have any regrets; and the second was to go after a management position in Vector (Cutco Cutlery sales job that also requires being a motivator and leader - similar to being on a team as an athlete). Now these days I'm practicing by myself, and pushing myself further every month, to be stronger and faster.

J: When did you go vegan and why {who and what made you do that}?

X: Well, I became vegan February 1rst 2010... my girlfriend at the time was vegan and challenged me to give it a try for 1 month. Also supporting her arguments showing me a lot of vegan olympians. So while researching the facts, reading The China Study and The Kind Diet along with profiles and testimonial of Olympians, I made the leap! ;D I almost instantly feel the change in my metabolism, more energy, better recovery, great new meals, and that was unexpected but awesome! 

Now you can easily imagine, after such big changes, I still had to see the difference with a meat diet, so I went to Burger King (I know I know, but this was my favorite fast food at the time) and order a double whooper...I was so excited to get that, but after the first bite, I stopped and it hit me: I was NEVER going to go back eating meat anymore. So it took me a couple months to adjust and change my entire diet and supplements and all, but I think I got it down pretty well now, since even on the road I can still keep it rolling!!

J: How has it affected {helped??} your performance, training, etc.?

X: I have always been a pretty healthy athlete, very strict on what I ate, even fast food at the time, would have been only after major competitions, but now...Wow, nothing comparable with eating meat, so much more energy and after a couple months--probably 3 or 4--I realize I had more stamina, and the best thing was my recovery afterward which was so much faster and easier. Then I got to the point where I needed to practice twice a day for more than 4hrs to actually feel sore, and not been able to walk the next day, I am much moe aware of what my body need, i love it!

J: What's your favorite pre and post workout snack?

X: Well, I practice usually right out of bed for 2.5/3hrs so I only take my vitamines, and go to practice, once I'm done, I have a protein shake using 'Vega Sport Preformance' and my traditional massive bowl of oat meal (raw!!) with almond milk bananas and almonds!!

If I practice after breakfast I will have an additional protein bar.  

J: What does your breakfast and dinner look like on a usual day?

X: My traditional massive bowl of oat meal (raw!!) with almond milk bananas and almonds => all day, everyday!

As I have a raw meal for lunch , I usually have a hot dinner, stir-fry vegetables,micro proteins, brown or red rice, or rice noodle; often have lentils soup with miso and other vegetables.

J: I know you work with Vector / Cutco Knives. Has going vegan affected your personal or work life?

X: Nope not at all, i even want to say it made it easier, because I cook a ton!! The begining (first 3 months) of full adjustments was a bit tricky but everyone around me knows now, and respects it.

J: Do you eat cheese?

X: No chesse , no dairy! And trust me being French made it difficult on this point specifically! ;D

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said in Pumping iron: "I don't drink milk, milk is for babies!"  

J: Haha. I Love it. Thank you for your time and good luck with everything you're doing. Keep it up. We all appreciate your efforts and eduction on going vegan.