Lisa Bentley was an 11-time (yes, eleven!) Ironman Champion in her 20-year career as a professional triathlete. Lisa competed at the highest athletic level despite having Cystic Fibrosis – a genetic lung disease resulting in chronic infections and limited lung capacity. Since retiring, Lisa has continued her career as an inspiring motivational speaker, a marathon runner, a television commentator and more recently, a fan of FlavaNaturals!
We’re excited to share more about Lisa’s journey with you, as well as how she’s incorporating cocoa flavanols into her daily diet. You can also watch Lisa’s very inspirational TEDx talk here!
1. Please share some background about you and your career as a professional triathlete.
Lisa: I am an 11-time Ironman Champion but I certainly wasn’t the most talented or in anyway identified as an athlete prior to embarking on my career as a triathlete. I ran track in high school but I was very academic and determined to earn an academic scholarship. My focus was on school rather than sports. I went to the University of Waterloo in 1987 and graduated with a degree in Math and Computer Science in 1992 with a degree in teaching as well. During University, I ran track and I began to dabble in triathlon in 1989 and loved it right away. I taught high school math and computer science for 7 years all while racing as a professional triathlete. I raced Olympic distance triathlon to start and made the National Team in 1991 and raced in several World Championships and even represented Canada at the Pan Am Games in Mar del Plata in 1995. By 1997, I made the switch to Ironman and won my first long distance race in Japan (3k – 150k – 42k) and I was hooked. I won my first Ironman in 2000 at Ironman New Zealand and I went on to win at least one Ironman every year from 2000 to 2007 for a total of 11 Ironman wins in 33 Ironman races.
2. What inspired you to write your first book, An Unlikely Champion?
After retiring from professional sport in 2009, I did quite a bit of speaking and I would always be asked whether or not I had written a book. I had not. Then as time went on, I realized that the tactics I used to win 11 Ironman and compete at the highest level in endurance sport were tactics worth sharing and putting into print. I also knew that I need a book to legitimize my speaking. So with the great mentorship of author and speaker Tom Deans, (Every Family’s Business), I started to write and published my first book at the end of March 2018.
3. What are your best insights on achieving peak performance?
Peak performance is more about heart, mind and attitude than it is about talent. Yes, you have to have some talent and drive but the heart and mind is everything. Attitude is more important than any fact and regardless what fact is facing you, your attitude will be the deciding factor in your success. Wholeheartedness is absolutely key in any undertaking. And adversity will always lead to greatness if you put your whole mind, body and heart into the task. I suggest that we all create an asset list of what we have going for ourselves. This is almost like a “resume-on-the-go”. Just little reminders of why we will be successful and that can be things like “I never quit. I am loved. I am educated. I have a great support team.”. Anyone can do well when the going is good, but a true champion does well in the face of challenge. Be that champion. We can all be that champion when we throw our heart over the obstacle!
4. What is your general philosophy on nutrition as it pertains to health and athletic performance?
Nutrition is absolutely paramount. I truthfully do not know any different than to put healthy whole foods into my body. I remember in 2003, I was having a tough year emotionally with my personal life. I could not sleep and I was still racing (surprisingly racing well) and I just kept eating my whole head of broccoli every night and my fruits and vegetables and healthy proteins and real food and I never got sick all year. That is unreal for me. I was tempting my immune system every day with hard training, sleepless nights and endless hours of sadness and yet I stayed healthy. I believe that was my diet. I stay away from all white foods (white poison) and anything processed. I eat fish, greek yogurt, blueberries, all fruits and vegetables, beans and brown rice. My one treat is my FlavaNaturals – my FlavaMix– which I am drinking right now to load up on my antioxidants but it is unsweetened and I love it.
5. Tell us about your views and experience with FlavaNaturals products and cocoa flavanols. How you do like to #HavaFlava?
Knowing that a food/drink is healthy is the key for me to consume it. I receive a lot of products to try but I will not even try it if it is loaded with chemicals or unnatural or processed ingredients. When I researched FlavaNaturals, I found a product that was an antioxidant, healthy, chocolatey but not sweet or loaded with sugars or sugar alcohols. I was so excited. I made my first hot “chocolate” drink and I was warned to add sugar to it since it wasn’t sweetened. But that was what I liked. I liked that it was natural goodness. And I loved it just as it was in all its purity. It tastes really good and it satisfies my little chocolate craving and it loads my body with antioxidants and helps with circulation. So I just feel good drinking it knowing that I am enjoying something that is good for my body. I have the FlavaBars and FlavaMix. My favourite is the FlavaMix but I do have a bit of the chocolate bar after dinner too since it is also loaded with goodness and hits the dessert spot before bedtime!
To learn more about Lisa, visit her website here.