Who: Ali Register
Does: iLift Academy founder and personal training director at Balance Gym-Capitol Hill
“The best way to add years to your life is through a balanced diet,” says Register. After spending six years in the Navy, Register is a fitness professional living and working in DC. He wasn’t always into healthy eating, he says—it wasn’t until he was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease that his perspective on food changed.
“A lot of people see losing weight or building muscle as how we get healthy,” says Register, but he believes it actually all starts with food. “If you can create a healthy host [by eating better], then things like losing weight and building muscle have an atmosphere where that can happen a lot easier.”
Register gets that it can be easier to eat unhealthily. “Wholesome, nutritious, healthy food isn’t just going to fly into that hole in the middle of your face,” he says. “It takes a bit of effort, yes, but you don’t have to cut down a freakin’ tree and figure out how to cook it.”
Here, he shares what he eats in a day: “I eat a lot to keep lean muscle on.”
For his first meal, Register is all about avocado toast on Ezekiel Bread with Za’atar and hemp seeds, as well as a hardboiled egg on the side. “The healthy fats in the avocado help me feel satiated and get my brain going first thing in the morning,” says Register. “The eggs help me keep up with my high protein needs.”
Around 8:30 AM, Register just bites into an orange bell pepper like an apple, he says. “Occasionally people stare or offer me their food, but I assure you, it’s quite tasty,” he says. “They’re packed with vitamins A and C and potassium, and have significant amounts of fiber, folate, and iron to help keep Lyme disease symptoms and pains at bay.”
Register often opts for leftovers for lunch, such as a bowl of turkey meatballs, kale salad with olive oil, avocado, sweet peppers, and sweet potatoes. “Bam—got my protein for the day, complex carbs, essential fats, and nutritious greens,” he says of the mixture. “Kale is one of the major superfoods that you need to start eating a lot of.”
“Avocado with Everything But the Bagel seasoning saves the day again,” says Register of his snack, which also includes apples, pistachios, and pressed juice. “The body gets its nutrients extremely fast from vitamins and minerals, and the quickest way to load the body with fuel from vegetables is to juice,” says Register. “Having Lyme disease, this is my number one defense.”
Register opts for combinations like spinach, parsley, carrot, kale, beet, cucumber, celery, garlic, and apple cider vinegar. “How does it taste? Kind of like spicy dirt,” says Register. “[But] how does tequila taste? It tastes like gasoline and you know it. But that’s never stopped you from yelling ‘woot-woot’ while pumping your first in the air with your BFFs somewhere on U Street.”
“Dinner is where I really try to outdo myself,” says Register. “Hell, I’ve waited all day for it!” He typically doubles up on protein, like serving pan-seared lamb chops with chilean sea bass alongside an arugula and olive oil salad and rosemary potatoes. “It’s safe to say I like eating my own home-cooked food over what’s offered at any overpriced salad shop, vending machine, or food truck,” he says. “Unless it’s a taco truck. In that case, take my money!”
This interview has been edited and condensed. Readers should consult their doctors before making health and wellness decisions.