Tobias Harris isn't your average basketball player. The 25-year-old forward for the Detroit Pistons has been shooting hoops for as long as he can remember, and before being drafted by the NBA he played college basketball for the University of Tennessee. But Tobias has interests that expand far beyond basketball—and health and wellness is one of them.
From eating a plant-based diet to indulging in cryotherapy sessions and meditating, Tobias swears by his wellness rituals. "I just feel better this way," he says. But Tobias didn't always care for his body as diligently. In fact, there was a time when he was living off fast food and barely getting enough sleep.
Discovering basketball and a clean lifestyle.
Tobias was always gifted on the basketball court, but an unhealthy diet stunted his performance at a young age. "I wasn't always the best player. I was a pretty chubby kid, but there were little things that motivated me to better myself. It wasn't until I got to college that I saw my body changing in different ways through different types of eating and exercise, and ever since it's been a goal of mine to understand this kind of thing better. Now I do a lot of research to learn and understand different ways to help and take care of my body."
Before he had much knowledge, Tobias was all about fast food. "When I was a kid, we used to eat so much McDonald's. Now I haven't had it in years," he says. After experimenting with a low-carb diet that left him feeling exhausted in college, Tobias met with a nutritionist and learned to eat a plant-based diet. "My breakdown is probably 60 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, 10 percent plants." These days, he feels good. "I don’t eat red meat, but I still eat chicken. I feel better this way. There’s a lot of fat in red meat, and it just sticks with you before a game."
How he got through one of his worst injuries ever.
In his senior year of high school, just before college, Tobias broke his foot. "That was a nerve-wracking time for me. I was just about to go to college and I was getting to graduate, and it was tough. But I used it as a time for self-reflection and it helped me stay positive."
To get through it, Tobias made sure to look ahead and keep up the faith that he would get through it no matter what. "I was really just looking ahead at that moment and thinking about what I would be doing when I got healthy. I'm Christian, so I put my faith in Christ, and that's how I face a lot of things in my daily life now. I'm very strongly rooted in that, and that's how I put it into practice."
How Tobias recovers and unwinds.
On rest days, Tobias has a fairly long to-do list—and it's mostly made up of recovery and self-care tactics. "I do cryotherapy; that's an everyday practice for me—especially the day before games I just go over and get it done. It's really just three minutes. I turn up the music and get up out of there. You walk out and you just feel like you can do it again," he says. "I also use weightlifting for recovery, just getting in the gym and making sure that blood is flowing. This year I started lifting on game days."
He also tries to limit his smartphone time to make room for practices that make him feel happy and calm, like reading and meditation. "To meditate, I use Headspace," he says. "I like it a lot. Just to give your mind that time, that relaxation, that free time. So much of the day is occupied by us on our phones. That relaxation is key. I’m a big reader too—I read a book called Blood Brothers on Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X; it was really insightful. I have fun too! I have a lot of fun."
Inspired by Tobias' story? Read about the woman who is getting to the bottom of mental illness in college athletes.