Ingraham gained some weight over his years working as a chef for several sports teams. Inspired by his family, he made the decision to make a change. He started working out, transitioned to a plant-based diet, lost 30 pounds and didn’t look back.
He’s also a certified dietary manager, martial artist, the author of a children’s cookbook and quite a bit more. We’ll let him tell you about all that, though.
Have you always been interested in health and fitness?
As a child, my parents got me into martial arts. I was getting picked on. When somebody throws your bag across the road, or someone pays your friend not to go to your birthday party… they knew it would benefit me.
I also experienced food as medicine for 20 years. My dad got pretty sick. To see my parents identify food allergies, getting rid of dairy, not eating beef… As a kid, I was like, ‘Where’s all my food?’ I watched my parents use food to get back into better health.
You have a lot going on right now. Can you give us a quick overview?
Currently I’m the culinary director for Morrison Healthcare. By day I’m the chef, and by night I’m Dad. I’ve got those two full time jobs going on. … I’ve got a couple books out, and I’m in the later stages of developing a food product, Powerfull. It’s a clean eating brand of food.
The book I’m working on is called Plant Fed. I’ve been eating plant-based for a while. Everything we know can be flipped upside down with current data. Things we should have known 2,000 years ago when Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine.” If anybody wants to truly save the world, it’s that way. [If we all ate more plant-based,] it would help reduce greenhouse gases and global warming.
I do health coaching, I mentor, I do a life coaching process — skills and techniques to find and maximize their time. [Having them ask themselves,] ‘How can you capitalize on any free time?’ I’m on pace to read about 40 books this year. I always said I didn’t have time. That’s the reason I didn’t work out. I didn’t have time. You can always find time. If you find out what your goals are, you can definitely always find time. Utilize every moment.
That’s a problem a lot of chefs seem to have — little to no free time. Do you focus on helping others in your profession get fit?
I once put together a fitness challenge. I had five chefs. Our goal was to lift 10,000 pounds in an hour. I felt that chefs had the ability to adapt, and as I expected, they all lifted the weights.
[Chefs] have similar personality traits and ambitions. You persevere through the worst. One of them went outside and threw up … but we don’t give up. We all take things and make something better out of them.
I think the issue is [chefs] have the knowledge. Anybody who walks through their doors and have a dietary need, [they can adapt]. But they’re unable to do it for themselves. … It’s the questions along the way that make you a better chef. It’s not just about cooking. It’s the mentorship, the leadership, the innovation. That means you’re questioning. You have to see the failures as opportunities.
So why did you decide to go on Titan Games? Tell us about that experience.
The Rock had posted [online] to sign up. It was one of those ten-page applications and you have to send in a video. A lot of people would stop there. It was like, ‘Holy moly!’ You get phone calls and interviews and Skype, and then I was finally chosen to go to Los Angeles for the fitness combine to compete for the final 64 spots. I hadn’t been an athlete for very long, just a couple years.
I had to keep challenging myself. I don’t always win. Even when I went for Men’s Health Ultimate Guy, I was a runner-up. I was in a challenge for Chefs’ Roll. I just keep putting myself out there. If I didn’t lose, and I didn’t come in as runner-up, I wouldn’t have known what I had done wasn’t enough. What I thought was the most intense training wasn’t enough.
What else would you like chefs — or anyone interested in getting more healthy — to know?
You have to find what you really want to be. You could be part of a system — you don’t have to pioneer something. There is a special connectivity between us chefs — at the end of the day, we’re still a family. You have to realize that you are a part of a bigger thing that’s going on.