August 26, 2014

Husband, Wife Row 45 Days From California to Hawaii

Sami Iniken and Meredith Loring YPO
By Brandi Neal, manager YPO-WPO networks communications

Trulia co-founder Sami Inkinen (YPO SF Bay) and his wife, Meredith Loring, took a bold stance to prove high-performance athletes don’t need sugar and processed carbohydrates to stay at the top of their game. The couple, who had never rowed before, broke a world record when they rowed in a journey they dubbed Fat Chance Row – unsupported – from California to Hawaii in 45 days.

“We wanted to make a powerful statement by actually performing 14 hours a day for two months without any sugary products people tend to be drinking even during their morning dog walk,” Inkinen says. “We thought setting this type of example would be much more powerful than just saying ‘sugar is bad.’”

The couple, who raised more than US$300,000 for the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, carried all of the food necessary for a projected 60-day journey in their boat and sustained themselves on a on a whole-food based no-sugar, low-carbohydrate diet. This wasn’t easy as they discovered that almost none of the pre-packaged foods available in grocery stores met their needs.

“We bought real whole foods, such as nuts, seeds, salmon, coconut butter, dehydrated beef and vegetables,” Inkinen says. “We then created some of our own mixes and vacuum sealed everything by ourselves. We spent several days just packing our food, but it was worth it.”

The impetus for the journey was the shocking discovery that despite being a competitive amateur tri-athlete training more than 10 hours a week, Inkinen was pre-diabetic from eating the typical “healthy” low-fat and consequently high-carbohydrate and highly processed, grain and sugar-infused diet.

“Meredith and I are both outdoorsy and athletic, and like to push our mental and physical limits a step beyond comfortable,” says Inkinen, who was determined to dispel the myth that athletes (and everyday people) need the products marketed by the multibillion dollar performance-fuel industry to succeed.

THE HIGH SEASSami Iniken and Meredith Loring 1

While Inkinen says he and Loring tried to stay in the moment during their 2,400 mile journey, the first few weeks on the open sea were difficult for the novice rowers, who trained extensively before embarking on the trip. After 24-hours in their ocean row boat Roosevelt, they experienced strong winds and waves that lasted for two weeks and almost capsized the boat.

“The stormy first weeks, constantly wet, cold and humid conditions, changing and challenging weather, small and uncomfortable (and often moldy) cabin were some of the things we found difficult to appreciate,” he says.

Being in such close quarters for 45 days was also a test on the couple’s marriage. They kept divorce papers in a sealed waterproof container in the bottom of the boat and are happy to report the papers remained untouched when they made landfall.

“It’s almost like we’re now in a separate world together after the row,” says Loring in an interview with USA Today, who before the journey told the newspaper that, although she initially wasn’t keen on it, she felt it was important to share such an epic trip with her husband. “It’s hard to describe to people what you go through on a boat in that amount of time. It would have been weird to stay home.”

Additionally, neophytes Inkinen and Loring broke the world record for fastest rowing-speed from California to Hawaii, finishing the journey 15 days ahead of schedule on 2 August.


Sami Iniken and Meredith Loring 3Since committing to cutting sugar from his diet Inkinen says he’s experienced several positive benefits:

  • It’s easier to focus on a task or problem solving without having a “monkey brain” that jumps all over the place.
  • My blood values are better than ever (e.g. low overall inflammation, low bad small lipid particles, etc.)
  • I have limited or no food cravings, even if I’m completing a several hour endurance sport event.
  • I’ve had little or no inflammation, sickness or nagging sports injuries.
  • I maintain steady energy throughout day.

The couple’s first request when they stepped off the boat in Honolulu? A glass of sparkling water with ice, please.

Neither craved sugar and instead enjoyed a breakfast of eggs and a dinner of fish and vegetables. Inkinen lost 26 pounds and they both found walking to be a bit wobbly after not using their leg muscles for more than a month.

“We finished healthy, strong and safe,” Inkinen says, “and hopefully set an example that life, and endurance sports, without sugar (and processed carbs) is possible.”

For others looking to make a life change, whether it’s detoxing from sugar or something else important to them, Inkinen offers this advice. “The hardest part is to make the initial commitment and the very first step, small or big. After that, it all starts rolling forward!”

Read more about Sami and Meredith’s journey
View the pictures

This article came from YPO Ignite blog.