We had a chance to sit down with former NFL lineman and CEO of Amp-HP, Jeff Byers, to learn a little more about how he got into sports at a young age, how his eating habits have changed since leaving the NFL and what he loves about his new life after being a professional athlete.
How did you get into sports/football at a young age?
I was always into being an outdoor kid. My parents would probably say I had too much energy and they needed me to get out of the house and do something. I remember playing every sport from gymnastics at the YMCA, to roller hockey...you name and I probably played it. I even ran cross country in 7th grade. Growing up in a family that loved the outdoors and loved activity was critical too. If we weren't studying we were adventuring outside or playing an organized team sport.
Did you always want to play in the NFL?
Like many young kids, I did grow up dreaming to be a professional athlete in one sport or another, but not football specifically until mid-way through high school. I honestly had no idea it was even an opportunity until I started to get recruited. I was lucky enough to be the #1 recruit in the nation for football and once that first scholarship offer came, it hit me - the professional sports dream could be a reality. About that time I really started to love the game of football as a whole. It's as much a physical feat as a mental challenge. Every day you can be thrown outside your comfort zone; you can win or loose the day. Football was the sport that I was built for and gravitated towards as I grew up.
What was your relationship with food like during your professional playing days?
I look at food differently than most people. I was always small for guys at my position in the NFL (offensive line). I ate so much that eating became a second job just to maintain weight, let alone gain any. It was a struggle from high school on. My engine burned so fast, oftentimes eating felt like a chore that I hated doing. It was this constant battle because I could only throw so much into my body at one time.
How has it changed since you left the NFL?
I don't eat as much, but I do really enjoy eating now and I'm lucky that I cut 80 pounds in only a matter of months after retirement. I still eat what I want, when I want it! I walk, hike, cycle and on conference calls I'm always moving around too. I say that I'm really good at burning calories dumbly because I'm rarely not moving.
Can you explain how you got into cycling?
I always loved riding, but never owned a road bike. Growing up in Colorado, we mountain biked a fair amount. My dad had a road bike, but I never got into it. Once I retired, I started riding my wife's steel frame road bike, but I didn't stick with it initially. However, I've always loved the bike because of the ability to challenge myself I'm really just a glutton for punishment and suffering. Regardless of how talented you are, you can always make yourself suffer more. Something about pushing myself to the edge is actually a very comfortable feeling for me.
I truly picked up a bike when we started to take a shot at launching Amp Human Performance. We knew we were going to launch into endurance sports and cycling specifically, so it just made sense for me to start riding more; I needed to be in the community. I bought my first road bike in January 2017 and just dove in head first. The enjoyment level over the past 12 months has been incredible. I can do a ton on a bike: work, socialize and exercise all mixed into one. It's a sport you can do wherever you are just about. The other great thing about gravitating towards the bike is that it's been a great opportunity for me to call riding a bike "work". I can do Gran Fondos, ride trails on Tuesday mornings with a new shop or group....I feel honored to call time spent on my bike "work" these days.
What is the relationship between sport, food and health for you?
Sport is health, both mentally and physically and food is a means to fuel sport.
Favorite post-ride meal?
I love a big, runny egg, cheese & bacon breakfast sandwich!
Find Jeff as a guest speaker April 27-29th at the second annual CampoVelo in Napa Valley!