Episode 101- Sawna Guadarrama: Solace Within Each Step

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Episode 101- Sawna Guadarrama: Solace Within Each Step

"I don't want to sugarcoat it."

-Sawna Guadarrama

The sweat rolls down your back, the dust clouds and sticks to your skin, the sun beats down, and you hear the rhythmic flow of your steps. What is running, but an accumulation of beauty? At times painful, at times joyous, usually both simultaneously, running is a trail to our better selves. Sawna Guadarrama understands this deeply and it is one of the many topics that I examine with her today. Today I am graced by her zeal and honesty to explore her story.

How her father's leukemia brought her to running, how a vegan lifestyle fuels her adventures, the dichotomy of city life and the dirtbag life, how she endures when all she wants to do is stop and cry. The mind is a malleable creature and Sawna has learned this over countless miles, but she has also learned that life is so much deeper than only running. It is great food, friends, books, and more. It is a smile. A laugh. We delve into her relationship with her adventure dog Juniper, into the ancient art of storytelling, and how she throws her own spin on that art. She lays her story out for us and I hope that you enjoy!

Gratefully,

Jarod Contreras

Sponsor:
Touching The Trail Podcast is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people like runners, cyclist, weightlifters, strength trainers, and vegans get lower rates on their life insurance.  Go to healthiq.com/touchingthetrail to support the show and see if you qualify.

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Episode 100- Year of the Soul

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Episode 100- Year of the Soul

"It is not about being good or bad, it is about being."

-Jarod Contreras

To live truthfully to your trail is to truly live. This podcast has been the honest expression of who I am and it has forged me in ways I never imagined possible. Which is why I am brought to tears of gratitude and awe at the fact that we have come together for 100 episodes. Whether you have listened from day one or from last week, you are here and I thank you for that, always. We have built this tribe centered around bettering ourselves. My only hope is that it has shaped you in some way, because I know that it has shaped me. Part of my journey of bettering myself has been my spiritual journey. Today I explore my journey through meditation and spirituality. From resistance to full acceptance. From confusion to a loving understanding of the power of wisdom from the ages and from within.

Forever grateful and to the future,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 99- Hakim Tafari Pt. 3: This is Compassion

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Episode 99- Hakim Tafari Pt. 3: This is Compassion

"The Buddha asked the sitar player, 'How do you tune your sitar?' The player told him, 'Not to tight and not to loose.' The Buddha said, 'Do the same with your practice.'"

-Hakim Tafari

The final part in my trilogy of conversations with Hakim Tafari is the perfect dovetail to our scope of examinations. There is a certain allure and fascination that we can all have with spirituality and delving within, but what about the other aspects of life? Today Hakim and I explore living the vegan lifestyle, music, compassion, and the interplay amongst all three. These three topics are all individually vital and together they build a beautiful picture of our trails. Please enjoy this conversation on fueling our body as a temple and machine, on the significance of music, and on finding compassion for those that we can easily hate.

Gracias,

Jarod Contreras

instagram.com/hakstao

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Episode 98- Hakim Tafari Pt. 2: Breaking Down the Path

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Episode 98- Hakim Tafari Pt. 2: Breaking Down the Path

"You're putting your mind in an aspect where it is your copilot to make the right moves."

-Hakim Tafari

It begins with the breath. It ends with the breath. We are each fully capable of finding ourselves within ourselves, by doing so we can find peace. In the second installment of my conversation with Hakim Tafari I am honored by his wisdom and shaped by his guidance. Today's conversation clearly displays its inherent simplicity, because we break it down. We break down the path. We dig deep into and examine what it means to find and follow our truest paths, to live purely, to go within, and to breathe into the moment. So take a breath, listen, and learn from Hakim Tafari.

Om shanti shanti shanti,

Jarod Contreras

instagram.com/hakstao

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Episode 97- Hakim Tafari Pt. 1: Metamorphosis

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Episode 97- Hakim Tafari Pt. 1: Metamorphosis

"No man is an island, that is why you have to have the support of the people around you and let the ego go."

-Hakim Tafari

There is not quite anything like meeting someone and instantly connecting with them on a deeply emotional and intellectual level. This happened between Hakim Tafari and I. I did not know much about Hakim going into this interview, but I knew that I wanted him on the show after finding his fascinating Instagram through Noah Levine (who I also want to have on the show). Noah is someone who has deeply shaped both my life and my father's, so I figured that if Noah was friends with Hakim then that would make for a wonderful conversation.

I was not disappointed, because right from the beginning of our conversation I knew that I would be life long friends with Hakim. His insight into what it means to overcome challenges in our lives, how to learn from them, and how to follow your truest path after those challenges is an insight quite unparalleled. He delivers this insight in a relatable and straightforward way, which is what I love. Sadly I was not able to finish the interview with Hakim due to time constraints so this is only Part 1 of our conversation, we will pick back up where we left off soon. Nevertheless this conversation explores black culture and its relationship with spirituality, the vitality of family, admitting fault, and realizing and learning from failure. We discuss Hakim's story and how the many metamorphoses that we undergo throughout our lives, the radical change that might occur, are opportunities for growth and wisdom.

Namaste,

Jarod Contreras

instagram.com/hakstao

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Episode 96- Embracing Dukkha to Grow

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Episode 96- Embracing Dukkha to Grow

"The truth is this: pain, emotion, and failure are your teachers; use peace, presence, and perseverance to best learn from them."

-Jarod Contreras

Our journeys are chock full of new experiences, or at least they should be, and last week I experienced one wholly unfamiliar and strange, yet deeply moving. I gave my first talk. This has been something that I have hoped to do for a long while and thankfully my friends at Cal Poly's Yoga Club gave me the opportunity to do so. To speak in front of an audience, not into a mic or in theater, was quite foreign to me, yet excited me.

Throughout the talk my own insecurities and judgments crept in, but what I realized is that while you can judge yourself, most times the audience has no idea that you made a mistake or went on a tangent. I gave it my all, I poured my heart into it, and afterwards I knew that it was worth it. So many people from the audience came up to me to tell me how eloquently I spoke, how effortless it seemed, how great of a storyteller I was, how important it was for them to hear this at that time in their life, how much it put into perspective certain things for them, and more. My hope is that you will feel, at the very least, some of what my audience felt at my very first talk and I hope that it can help you too, in a small or big way.

Gratefully,
Jarod Contreras

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Episode 95- Elena Shifrina: From Russia with Change

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Episode 95- Elena Shifrina: From Russia with Change

"People can copy you, but nobody can think like you."

-Elena Shifrina

Recently I dreamed that I was balancing on top of a skyscraper tall ladder, barely balancing and holding on to the skyscraper next to me, yet not falling to my death. I think this speaks to the fact that over the past month and a half I have had to balance many things, familiar and new. That this has been a grand adventure where I am being tested everyday, but I am learning so much and having a fascinating experience.

I think in our busy lives it is always good to hear a new perspective, to hear about someone else's fascinating experiences. This week's episode provides a new perspective on balance and on culture. Elena Shifrina is Russian which made for a captivating discussion. Elena is a former Russian model, former oil company executive, and now a successful vegan entrepreneur. She founded the first and premier healthy (and vegan) snack bar option in Russia, Bio Food Lab's Bite bars. I took the opportunity today to discuss our dichotomous cultures, why she has been vegan since she was a teenager, entrepreneurship in Russia, and veganism in Russia. We also delve into the vanity and pretentiousness inherent in modeling, the competition inherent in the corporate world, making balance, the importance of family, and more. I hope you enjoy.

Gratefully,
Jarod Contreras

VegNews Article: vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=10215&catId=5

takeabite.ru/en

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Episode 94- Constantin Le Fou: Saying What is True

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Episode 94- Constantin Le Fou: Saying What is True

"We've lost so much of ourselves, we've lost track. In nature, if you are in balance, then nature will give you what you need, we need to be better."

-Constantin Le Fou

At the time of the recording of this episode (early-September) I was in a very different place in life. I recorded this episode with Vegan Club founder Constantin Le Fou a few days before I left for college, fear filled my heart. I did not know what college would be like and I could not imagine leaving my family. My family and I are a tribe, but I had to leave them to go study something I wasn't even excited about. I was lost.

Now more than a month later I am again in a very different place. I have begun the process of changing my major to Journalism, something that I am passionate about. In addition, I have fallen in love with the process and built my own routine of peace and adventure. While there is a dichotomy between now and then, this conversation in the heart of Downtown LA gave me a peaceful respite during those weeks of nerves.

I have seen Constantin's work all around Los Angeles, but never knew who was behind Vegan Club, until now. His ability to utilize famous vegans and influencers to begin a conversation on what it means to be vegan is unique. Through street art, apparel, stickers, and more Constantin's graphic designs have shaped the face of Los Angeles and the world. Today's conversation is about conversation. About what it takes to begin conversations that enact lasting, positive change. We delve deep into Constantin's story, his thoughts on meditation, on art, on creativity, and on how we can shape ourselves and those around us for our betters.

Gratefully,
Jarod Contreras

VegNews Article: vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=10103&catId=5

veganclub.co

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Episode 93- Emotion: A Progression

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Episode 93- Emotion: A Progression

The ramblings of thought can sometimes seem interconnected and yet random. Over the past few weeks, beginning my journey here in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I have had many forms of thoughts and musings. I have thought a lot about my past and a lot about my future, but I have realized that to truly make the most of this adventure I must live in the moment. I have been sad and I have been happy. Inherent in this adventure is an emotional roller coaster of everything from tearfully missing my family to roaringly loving a run. One theme constant throughout this beginning is that I have taken my life, my routine, and my journey into my own hands. I have been and am building a life centered on truth to who I am. We are all on a journey and I am grateful for mine.

Gratefully,
Jarod Contreras

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Episode 92- Lucy Bartholomew: The Young Gun's Steps

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Episode 92- Lucy Bartholomew: The Young Gun's Steps

"Even in the darkest of times you've just got to take a step back and be really, really grateful for where you are and what you're doing."

-Lucy Bartholomew

When we look out at our world we can see so many things. We can see death and destruction; we can see laughter and life. Our view of the world is shaped by our own life, whatever that story may be. With so many violent events that have happened recently we wrongfully resort to the exclamation of, "This world is terrible, because it is that persons fault or that persons fault." We get to caught up in pointing fingers that we fail to point the finger at the biggest culprit of all, ourselves.

Lucy Bartholomew has embodied the message that to truly change our world we must positively change ourselves. She is following her truest path. A path that she realized at a very young age, at only 14. I feel a deep camaraderie and connection with Lucy and her story, because there are many parallels. She found running through her dad and he has greatly shaped her life, she began running very young, she is vegan, and she is living truthfully. I hope that you can enjoy this conversation between two very connected souls. In today's we discuss Lucy's story, from feeling lost with an eating disorder to living intentionally through ultrarunning and veganism. We also discuss her relationship with her father, what her training looks like, how we can apply the lessons learned on the trails to everyday life (whether you are a runner or not), living the vegan lifestyle, and more. So whether you have run forever or have never run a foot, this conversation is for everyone, because we are all on our own trail.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

lucybartholomew.info

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Episode 91- Brother Phap Luu: Freedom is Possible

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Episode 91- Brother Phap Luu: Freedom is Possible

"People tend to look at compassion as something very weak, but compassion is very strong. In fact, violence is weak. Real compassion is very powerful, it is like the mountains, it is that solid."

-Brother Phap Luu

We are all on a journey, each and every one of us. We are on our own journeys. A journey that begins from the moment we are born to the moment we die. This is a journey that we can either ignore or follow. It is the journey of our truest, most fulfilling paths. Today's guest is a wonderful wealth of knowledge on the in's and out's of how we can follow our paths. Brother Phap Luu (alternatively Brother Stream) is a Buddhist monk trained by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) in Plum Village, France. I was connected with Brother Phap Luu through Plum Village, but he was not my original goal. Originally I wanted Thay to sit down and have a conversation with me, but I found out that due to his 2014 stroke he still has not recovered his ability to speak. I truly hope that he can recover soon and was honored that the people at Plum Village took the extra time to connect me with Brother Phap Luu.

Brother Phap Luu comes from an interesting, Ivy-League, yet suffering struck background that provides an excellent platform for our conversation today. A conversation on life. Today's discussion is wide ranging and covers many different aspects of the process. Today please sit back to enjoy a conversation on suffering, desire, the current political climate, how we can peacefully make change, the positive and negative aspects of the current university/college scene, how we can get young people to meditate, practicing compassion, commitment, and of course Brother Phap Luu's story.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

plumvillage.org

wakeupschools.org

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Episode 90- Emotion: A Beginning

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Episode 90- Emotion: A Beginning

For so long my life has been ruled by the act of throwing emotions into a pit and slamming a lid on top of that pit. I have always been known as the "serious" person, the person who smiles a little and frowns a little. In elementary school I was quiet and largely solitary, in middle school I built up a wall of seriousness to combat bullying, and I carried over that serious attitude into high school. Throughout my whole life I have always done my best to keep an even keel on my emotions, believing that that was a positive thing. Up until very recently.

Due to the multitude of emotions that I have had to accept over the past few weeks during the lead up to and execution of my move to college, I have come to a revelation: that emotion is a tool. That similar to how failure is a wise teacher, so to is emotion. That is today's exploration. Enjoy. 

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 89- Jared Simons: Focusing Dedication

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Episode 89- Jared Simons: Focusing Dedication

"Is there anything that I can do more to better myself today?"

-Jared Simons

This past weekend my family drove up to San Luis Obispo Cal Poly, which is where I will be attending college, and I felt a rush of emotions. At dinner I broke down and cried, not for the first time in the past few weeks either, realizing yet again that I have no idea how I am going to do this. My family makes me so happy that I could easily live with them forever. I am scared of what's to come and what I am leaving behind. However, my family helped me to understand that this is a grand new adventure where I can find my independence, grow as a person, and learn. Also they are not that far away. With that confidence and knowledge I hope to better manage the next few weeks.

Speaking of managing I think this week's guest is a perfect compliment. Jared Simons is the chef at No Name, founder of Whitechapel Soap Co., is vegan, and is an Ironman athlete. My dad found Jared on Instagram and we both thought that he would be a great guest on the show. Sadly I couldn't meet Jared in person for dinner before I left, so we had to do the show on Skype so please excuse any weird sounds or glitches. Now Jared is someone who is deeply dedicated to what he does, whether that is cooking, training, or making soap. That is what so intrigues me about him. Today we discuss Ironman, training, how coaching is beneficial, balancing training and cooking, his story, how he failed at putting health as a priority when beginning his career as a chef, how he became vegan, meal recommendations, John Joseph's Positive Mental Attitude, and more. Please enjoy this episode of intrigue into the life of Jared Simons.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

Jared Simons: 

whitechapelsoapco.com

Instagram: @jaredsimons_chef instagram.com/jaredsimons_chef

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Episode 88- Anton Krupicka: Edge of Arrogance

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Episode 88- Anton Krupicka: Edge of Arrogance

"I very much read to have that experience of identifying across different perspectives and different cultures, which generally happens through literature. The characters could be people that you would never meet in normal life, but they could be having the same emotions or experiences that I have internally. It reaffirms the universality of the human condition."

-Anton Krupicka

We choose how we interpret the world, as such we can interpret positive things as negative or vice versa. Today I am honored to sit down and converse with Anton Krupicka. A name that holds many stereotypes and preconceptions associated with it. Arrogance might be a strong word to even associate with this name, but Anton is someone who is confident in his abilities. The adventures he pursues through that confidence can be perceived as arrogant or dancing to far to one side on a knife's edge of safety and caution. Over the years people have perceived and been, either negatively or positively, shaped by Anton's actions. However, if Anton is anything, he is nothing but truthful. That truthfulness combined with his adventures has been the basis for many an assumption and opinion of Anton Krupicka.

In today's episode I sought to transcend the stereotype, preconceptions, and associations related to Anton Krupicka. This conversation is more than just about running or even the mountains. Today Anton and I delve into a subject that has been rarely discussed with him, reading. We explore his motivations for his voracious reading, how he has been shaped by books, the importance of reading, how reading connects you with our world, and much more. The mountains may fuel Anton's day, but he begins each of those days with a book. The simplicity in routine and dedication are beautiful things, so let's explore those and more today with Anton Krupicka.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

antonkrupicka.com

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Episode 87- Dr. Neal Barnard: Opening Hearts

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Episode 87- Dr. Neal Barnard: Opening Hearts

"It doesn't take a lot to open a person's heart to these facts."

-Dr. Neal Barnard

Increasing our knowledge is a potent way to increase our ability to follow our truest path. Part of following our paths, whoever we may be, is to not poison our bodies. The way to not poison our bodies is to live and eat vegan. Today I am honored to sit down and speak with Dr. Neal Barnard about everything vegan. Today we are not only increasing our knowledge, but also following our path.

Dr. Barnard has led numerous studies on the relation between diet and health/sickness and is president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. At the PCRM he leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research. Dr. Barnard has shared his extensive knowledge through numerous books and articles. Today he shares even more of his knowledge as we discuss how to adopt a vegan lifestyle, why it is a lifestyle and not simply a diet, and about his new book, The Cheese Trap. We delve into how much this movement has spread, but also how we can reach more people, especially those who are vehemently against this way of live. We also discuss the health benefits of eating vegan and how it can revolutionize the athletic ability of any athlete.

So whether you are vegan or not, be open. I strongly believe that today's episode will greatly benefit you to optimize and revolutionize the way that you live your life. Enjoy.

Gratefully,

Jarod Contreras

pcrm.org

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Episode 86- Rickey Gates: Sage of Connection

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Episode 86- Rickey Gates: Sage of Connection

"We're all just trying to make sense of everything in the larger context than the simple act of doing it, but I'm coming back to wanting those moments to simply be the moment that it is."

-Rickey Gates

Over the past few weeks I have been putting a targeted focus on enjoying the simple routine of being at home with my family, because I know that that routine will be turned upside down when I head to college soon. Part of this relaxation has been interviewing some incredible people, one of those people is Rickey Gates. Rickey is truly an adventurer at heart, someone who desires to better understand himself and our world. He recently completed a journey of his own design, TransAmericana, where he ran across America. Yes, all 3,657 miles of it and in 152 days.

I am honored to have been able to have sat down with Rickey and have a wonderful discussion. Today's discussion is about more than just TransAmericana. We of course discuss the before, during, and after of that journey, but we also delve deep into his life and evolution as an athlete. Discussing how he tells stories and the importance of storytelling. We also examine his journey into meditation, its impact on his day to day life, and the importance of staying present. One common theme amongst our discussion is the value and importance of connecting with our world, the cultures, the countries, and the people within it. I truly hope you enjoy today's discussion and that we can all learn something from Rickey's words.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

rickeygates.com

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Episode 85- Tommy Caldwell: The Dynamic of Spirit

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Episode 85- Tommy Caldwell: The Dynamic of Spirit

"I approached it the exact same way that I do a climbing objective, I started at the bottom."

-Tommy Caldwell

Whether you know only a little about rock climbing, have just barely dipped your toe into its world, or are a dedicated climber then you have heard of Tommy Caldwell. Tommy has been heralded as one of the best rock climbers in the world with impressive first ascents and first free ascents all across the world. He has built a life around climbing since he was a young kid in Colorado and has transformed himself into a machine able to conquer the hardest routes.

Everyone wants to know about Tommy's life 'chapters' like being taken captive by rebels in Kyrgyzstan, losing his left index finger in a table saw accident, or free climbing the Dawn Wall with Kevin Jorgeson in 2015. These are topics that everyone covers with Tommy, along with his life story, if you want to learn more about those topics then buy his book. Today, however, Tommy and I delve deep into his headspace and his drive. We discuss how suffering can shape and teach us, how choosing a life of adventure is supremely fulfilling, how pushing to the edge of what's possible and beyond gives you a deep sense of awe. Today we converse on the importance of family and how living your truest life can be made possible. Specifically today we chat about the father/son relationship. On how that relationship, when forged by discomfort in the outdoors, is forged into one of the strongest and enduring bonds. Both of our fathers have played a vital role in our evolutions as adventurers, so we delve into the father and son's dynamic of spirit. Enjoy.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

tommycaldwell.com

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Episode 84- Chris 'Tarzan' Clemens: Swingin' amongst Adventures!

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Episode 84- Chris 'Tarzan' Clemens: Swingin' amongst Adventures!

"My soul was getting antsy again, I had to make a change."

-Chris 'Tarzan' Clemens

Whether it's waking up in his 1985 VW Westfalia camper or along the Appalachian Trail Chris 'Tarzan' Clemens knows how to find adventure. Chris is someone that I have been following for awhile now and have always been fascinated by his ability to seemingly live so simply and yet have so many awesome adventures. Chris lives out of his camper van, he is an ultrarunner, a thru-hiker, an adventurer, a world traveler, a freelancer and someone who has forged their truest life. Chris has driven all around the US and Canada, bike toured through Chile and Argentina, backpacked in Ecuador and Peru, ran ultras, hiked the AT, and so much more.

But, regardless of how much I regale you with his exploits you need to hear about them from the man himself. That very same man gets out into our world and understands that if you go through life completely comfortable you're never going to grow, which breeds his idea of AntiComfortable. This episode is about getting rid of the junk, of simplifying, of seeing the beauty in the basics. Everyday Chris lives the basics in his camper and lives in the present, not hindered by superfluous possessions. Listen in as we discuss how to be minimal, how to live truly, how to endure, how to get out of your comfort zone, and how to find yourself. Enjoy.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 83- Ted Winters: Twinkle in His Eyes

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Episode 83- Ted Winters: Twinkle in His Eyes

"I don't know, I just enjoyed doing it, it was something to do. I mean it's a little bit different, a little bit out of the ordinary."

-Ted Winters

When we look back on our lives we should look back with a smile and a twinkle in our eyes. Life is the adventure we make it and Ted Winters understands this. Now you might be wondering who Ted is, well Ted is someone that I hold very near and dear to my heart. Ted is my neighbor and he is an ultrarunner. He ran ultras when they were in their infancy and has witnessed their evolution. From Angeles Crest to Western States, Ted knows what it means to suffer and what it means to overcome.

Ted is someone who allows us all to see what a life truly lived is. This episode of the podcast is one for the history books and an honor to hear. Today we are privileged to listen to Ted's life story. His ups and downs, his successes and failures, his time in the army during the Cuban Missile Crisis and his rock 'n roll days, and of course his tales of trails. Please allow your ears to work around the not optimal audio (I did my best) and absorb this story, for it is truly one told from love. Let us all sit back, relax, and enjoy the story of how Ted forged a life that truly fulfilled him.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

Ted's Buckles!

Ted's Buckles!

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Episode 82- Let's Eat: Dispelling the Myth that Eating Vegan is Bland

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Episode 82- Let's Eat: Dispelling the Myth that Eating Vegan is Bland

There are times in our lives when certain things take over our every thought and desire, but in a society that is culturally obsessed with food an addiction to the immediate gratification provided by processed sugars, grains, carbohydrates, and chemicals is commonplace. This world is addicted to food. That same food we are addicted to is largely pointlessly simplistic and bland. However I have been asked many times, "Isn't that whole vegan thing super bland and boring?"

This is a gross misconception and one that, in today's episode, I work to dispel. A vegan lifestyle is filled with spontaneous creativity and flavor. The flavors, nutrients, colors, and depth of any vegan meal far surpass anything I ate before I was vegan. Before I was vegan it was a piece of chicken and rice, now it is kale lentil curry soup. The lifestyle I now lead is free of the obsession with poisonous foods that I once had and allows me to be the most creative and engaged version of myself. This week let's talk about how lively vegan meals are, how hard this whole college thing will be for me, what experiencing new cultures can bring for you, and more. Please enjoy.

Graciously,

Jarod Contreras

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Strava: Jarod Contreras strava.com/athletes/jarodcontreras

 

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