Table Talk: Tara Wall
Maybe you’ve seen a group of badass sports bra-wearing ladies running what seems like a thousand miles on the Santa Monica bike path. Maybe you’ve seen Tara Wall. This table talk article is way overdue in my opinion, because I’ve been wondering what this superhuman lady eats to stay so energized and on-top of all her projects. Tara Wall is… get ready… a marathon runner – she’s completed 5 marathons and countless half marathons, yoga teacher in training, co-leader of Westside Wednesdays Free Fitness Group, prior November Project LAX co leader -- the first lady to lead (SLAY), professional video editor (yes, she has a full-time job), swimmer, biker, dancer, and overall gem of a human being. As you could imagine, this girl is “hella fit”, am I allowed to say “hella fine” too? You tell me.
We did you a favor and sat down with Tara Wall. This athlete from Los Angeles is giving you what she eats to fuel her insane regimen.
Can you describe your average day?
During the week when I’m working (I’m freelance so I don’t work 100% of the year, but more often than not) I’ll wake up between 6 to 7AM and get a run in. I start work around 9:30AM so I have a bit of time to do up to ten miles before work usually (usually it’s between 6 to 8 miles).
I work with a coach who gives me 2 to 3 hard workouts a week, and another 3 to 4 easy/recovery runs, and a bit of strength sprinkled in. I’ll usually have one rest day during the week that I'll either sleep in for, or hit up a yoga class depending on how that weeks sleep schedule has been. I’m usually training for either a marathon or half marathon, so my workout routines are always pretty high volume miles throughout the week and lots of complementary strength workouts.
My work schedule can be unpredictable in the evening so I’ll prioritize my runs in the morning and then depending on how much time and energy I have after, I’ll hit up a yoga class or do some strength, or settle for an epsom salt bath and foam roll.
Do you follow a specific nutritional regimen? Why do you choose to eat the things that you do?
I was technically a pescetarian for about 7 years starting at 18 years old... while eating the occasional piece of bacon and/or chicken. I used to be kind of lazy with it, and would find myself settling for pasta with pesto more often than not – so I had to make some changes. Ever since I took a blood test with Insidetracker endurance thanks to my friend Jon Levitt, I learned I needed to up my iron and vitamin C which meant focusing on eating more fish and/or meat, more peanut butter (YAY) and more beans. I ended up adding chicken back into my diet to add some variety to seafood.
I try and eat mostly organic- but I’m not super strict about it. We have a few gluten free people in my office so I’m around a few options that are gluten free and don’t mind them – I actually prefer this gluten free granola that is sold in a lot of places (whole foods, TJ’s) so that has been my go-to granola as long as I can remember (it’s probably not the healthiest, but it’s tasty and has nuts so it fills me up).
I sleep with a huge glass of water by my side and am constantly drinking water. I make sure I’m hydrated when I go to bed and it’s the first thing I do when I wake up. My morning routine is wake up, go to the bathroom, chug a ton of water and then snooze for another 5-10 minutes. This helps my morning digestion stay regulated and then by the time I actually get up and start walking around I’m ready to drop some kids off in the pool.
I don’t drink coffee everyday (it gives me headaches if I have it too many days in a row and then stop) but I drink earl grey tea pretty much everyday 1 to 2 mugs when I get to work and throughout the morning.
What do you normally have for the following meals?
I’m really into soft boiled eggs these days. On work days I’ll eat an egg or two at home (depending on how hungry I am / how hard my workout was), and then eat more when I get to the office. I’ll then do either a piece of toast with peanut butter or avocado (whatever is in the office) or this amazing chia seed/quinoa oatmeal Qia (also with peanut butter) and I’ll add some granola to the oatmeal if I’m really hungry (which is often).
If I’m especially starving before I leave the house or after a workout I make a Vega plant based protein drink which is a solid 20g serving of protein. I try and never leave the house without eating anything unless of course I’m on my way to go eat. Eating in the morning is very important to me. Even on my rest days.
I don’t eat anything before my regular weekday workouts, but anything more than 12 to 13 miles on the weekends I’ll try and eat some toast with peanut butter. Dave's Killer Bread - Good Seed is my JAM.
On work days we get lunch brought in, I try and stick to the healthier things on the menus - hearty salads, especially ones that have a protein with it. It’s not uncommon though for me to eat something like a tuna melt though, especially on days when I am starving from all the running. On the weekends that I’m not working, I’ll also try and eat something healthy. It just depends what I’ve been doing. Common meals for me are salads (if they’re filling enough), poke bowls, sushi, Thai curries and rice vegetarian Indian food with naan.
My friend Jesse owns a snack company, My Office Bites. It’s been a great inspiration to try and eat those types of foods that are high protein and low in sugar. I gravitate towards bars when I’m on the road or in need of something quick especially after a workout. My go-to’s are RX bars, CLIF bars and 18 Rabbit bars. From CLIF I really like the Builder's protein bars in chocolate mint flavor. RX - peanut butter and chocolate sea salt are my favorites. 18 Rabbits - dates pecans and coconuts are the best!
I have a bit of an obsession with 365 brand cheese curls so I try and stay away from those but also treat myself to them every so often. When I’m at work I’ll end up eating cheddar SunChips often when they’re in the office- because well, they’re amazing.
For my sweet tooth I’ll try and stick to dark chocolate over 70% instead of milk, and limit my sugar intake overall because I have a self control problem with it (currently eating thin mints as we speak and will probably finish the sleeve).
I’ve been making a lot of home cooked meals *finally!* thanks to subscribing to Blue Apron. It’s been a struggle ever since I started working because my hours are unpredictable. I used to waste food a lot by buying groceries and then getting stuck at work (I get fed if I work late, but then my food at home gets wasted), or having nothing in my kitchen and being too lazy to shop and cook when I got home. I used to have a bad routine of take out or expensive snacks and lazy cooking (pasta & pesto).
Blue apron is great because it gives me 4 meals a week and I get it delivered on Tuesday, so I have meals Tuesday through Friday. Even when I work late, I’ve started bringing the meals I cook into work and eat them in the 5’s and 6’s which has made all the difference to my overall happiness and feeling healthy. I stick to either the fish or chicken meals that come with tons of vegetables and stay away from the super dairy filled ones.
Late Night Snack:
I usually eat enough at dinner that I’m not a huge late night snacker. If I’m really hungry (like actually hungry) before bed, I’ll sometimes have a Vega drink or protein bar. But I try and stay away from snacky things late at night.
You have very long work hours sometimes. What do you do to avoid snacking?
As I mentioned above I bring my blue apron meals into the office and eat most of my dinners there (even if I only work until 6 to 7) because I like eating early. I also lose focus and get hangry/cranky if I’m not fed at a normal time, 8PM+ dinners just don’t work for me anymore so I try and just feed myself if I end up working late.
What about stress eating?
Stress eating- not a huge thing for me but of course if I'm at work late and I’m annoyed at something I’ll probably eat some candy or more chips because I think I deserve it at the time and it will make me feel better. To cope with this I’ll try and make sure I’m always really hydrated because usually when I have enough water in my system I won’t feel as hungry (cause you’re usually not, usually just dehydrated).
Has your diet changed at all throughout your life? I used to be a very picky eater growing up but have grown to enjoy healthier things with age. Cutting out most meats for a few years was probably the biggest shift.
Do you attribute any specific nutritional decisions to the fact that you have so much muscle definition? Have you noticed a recent change?
Not a whole lot. Potentially the protein increase has helped, but more so I think that’s just helped me feel less fatigued and given me more energy to work harder. I used to be tired all the time before I took the blood test with Insidetracker. But with the focus on getting enough protein in my diet and a few vitamins (iron, vitamin C) I’ve felt a lot better overall.
If you had to give people 3 tips for proper nutrition what would they be?
Take a blood test and see if you’re deficient in anything. Insidetracker is a great company to work with, especially for endurance athletes. Fuel very soon if not immediately after working out and always eat breakfast. Eat all the protein.
What do you do for nutrition when running long distances?
After 5 marathons I’ve finally figured out what (I think) is going to work with my body. This training season, I’ve started experimenting with Huma Gel, which - for anyone that is an anti gu/gel person when fueling while running, you should definitely try this because I was super against any type of gel for a long time (it made me want to gag) but after hearing from some fellow runners who I admire (Jessica Dorsey and Ava Martinez) about their experience with it, I figured I’d give it a go. I actually really enjoy the taste and texture, it’s chia seed based so you have to be familiar with that consistency. It comes in tons of flavors and you can order a variety pack on amazon to test them out. I highly recommend it. I also got introduced to these sugar tablets called glucose by my friends Lauren Duffy, John Grier, and Kylie Smith. They’re all huge inspirations to me as well so I figured I’d give that a go too! I’ve had fun mixing and matching the gels with sugar tablets on my long runs.
Anything else you’d want to add?
I’ve never been on a diet and I probably never will. That’s not to say I don’t focus on eating healthy and finding foods that serve the right purpose, I’ve just never been into paying attention to calories or limiting myself because of certain diets/trends that I hear about. I eat pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want because I know based on what I do for exercise, I need to refuel. There’s been times when I know I’m eating more than I need to (like these girl scout cookies I’m eating right now), but that’s life and as long as you can try and have some self control and moderate portions then you’ll be on the right track! It’s all about balance and thinking about food as what purpose it’s serving for all the hard work you’re doing.
Make sure you follow @Tara_Wall on Instagram to keep up with her journey.
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