Tyger Lyons on flipping his life from travel blogger to vegan athlete

We first came across Tyger Lyons when we interviewed him in July last year as one of the members of The Neverlandboys Co, but a lot has changed in that time… After discovering that while traveling the world is the dream job in society’s eyes, it wasn’t actually the dream job for him – Tyger started pursuing things that provided him with more fulfilment. It was around the time he shifted his focus from travel blogging to vegan athlete – a transition he calls the “toughest challenge mentally and physically” of his life.

With Tyger competing in the Lake Taupo New Zealand Ironman 70.3 this Saturday, we thought it was the perfect time to pull him aside and find out what made him decide to flip his world 180 and just what life now looks like for this Gold Coast-based lad.

Congrats on being able to compete in the Lake Taupo ironman this Saturday. Can you tell me a bit about the race?
Thanks I’m super excited – been a long road! The idea of traveling for a race gets me so psyched, seems crazy I know! Basically it’s a 1.9 km swim in the lake then a 90 km ride and a 21.1 km run in the countryside – it’s a big race and there’s an opportunity to qualify for the World Championships in Nice next year, so that’s the goal for me.

What type of preparation have you gone through in the lead up to the ironman?
I’m the kind of person that just goes all in, so life kind of flipped 180 out of nowhere, haha. I kind of went from just being a relatively fit kinda guy to training 15-20 hours a week overnight. We train everyday, no days off! I couldn’t believe that at first, but the human body is incredible how it just adapts! I learnt pretty quickly that recovery is a huge part of being consistent so I’m in an ice bath everyday after training and eating a full plant-based diet.

Have you always been keen on doing an ironman?
I’ve always been curious about what my physical capabilities are and prided myself on being fit – so it’s always been a sport that has captivated my imagination. Being an athlete has always been a dream of mine, but life seemed to have other plans over the last few years. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I always missed that pursuit of an athletic endeavour. When I was traveling with all the cultural food experiences, extreme social life, long periods of time in transit, and full on work with the Neverlandboys – there wasn’t much chance of being what I would consider fit. It got to a point where I realised that that dream was just always going to be just that, which is when I realised that I had to make it happen.

Were you into sport growing up?
Growing up, all I did was play sport – soccer, tennis, swimming, cricket you name it, haha. In my head, that was all I was going to do with life. In fact, my first big overseas trip was as an overseas professional to a club in the UK as a cricketer when I was 18. I got injured and that’s when we started the Neverlandboys. So it feels so good to be back chasing the athlete dream in a sport that I’ve felt I always was best suited to.

Lately we’ve seen you moving away from your travel blogging past and more into health and wellness. Is this something you consciously decided to do? Why is this?
One hundred per cent. Travel blogging was an incredible life and I was extremely privileged to have lived that life for the past three years, but after a while, it became increasingly apparent that I was living this life and chasing someone else’s dream because I thought it was “the dream”. To be honest, this seemingly perfect life left me feeling empty and discontent. It truly highlighted to me that all that matters is your dream. Period. Every day we travelled on, I was moving further and further away from the life that I knew I wanted deep down. I’d gone so far away from the path that I had always dreamt of that it was almost forgotten, unrealistic and somewhat silly to still be thinking about. But I just remember waking up one day and being hit with the realisation that these precious days of youth will soon be over… and that if I ever want to do something with sport, now was the time – and so I went all in.

Do you feel your life feels more rewarding since making the switch?
I love the structure and purpose it brings to my life. Everyday I am up at the crack of dawn training the house down until mid morning. By the time I get back, the world is still only just waking up and I have already achieved so much in my day. It makes me feel alive in a way I never knew before, and now I’ve felt it I know it’s all I want to do. Just little things of my life now bring huge amounts of happiness to me – like coming back and fuelling the tank with fresh juice and smoothies, or having a coffee after a long ride, even ice bath sessions with my squad are like little daily rewards – reminders that this is me, to a tee. And that’s something I am truly grateful for.

Are you still passionate about travel and photography?
I absolutely love them both. There is no doubt that experiencing the ways of the world in different parts of the planet is an extremely engaging and enthralling experience. And the ability to capture a memory in a moment is a skill I am so proud to have in my tool kit. But I feel like they came into my life to add an extra piece to the puzzle, to play a different role than before. My list of places I want to go and explore is still a mile long, but for different reasons than before. It somewhat shames me to say it, but I felt like places I wanted to travel to before were places that I wanted to go for this or that photo. Now I want to go for a race. Train up, get there in peak racing condition, put it all on the line – then take a week or so off training after to explore the surrounds and use my photography to document the whole process.

What does a usual day in your life look like now?
Alarm goes off at 4:15 – cup of tea and a piece of toast. Back-to-back sessions until about 9 or 10. Work until mid afternoon, whether that be in the smoothie bar or shooting content for a campaign – then whip up an absolute storm for dinner (making some mean curries atm), then head down to the recovery centre and put in a couple of hours getting the body prepped for the next day. I’m normally absolutely off my feet and placed out by about 9pm, haha.

Do you still do things as part of the Neverland Boys?
Unfortunately the page has turned for me on the NLB front in a full-time capacity. I have such fond memories of the whole journey we went on together. From where it started, to the places we traveled, and the people we met – but it’s just not practical with my life now. I’m content with what we achieved and the lessons we learned have proved to be invaluable in my transition into this new phase and genre of content, however, I won’t rule out the idea that maybe one day soon we’ll rekindle a little bit of NLB action for one last hurrah… if they’ll come meet me somewhere after a race, haha!

Are you all still friends?
We will always be friends. The guys were my closest friends before it all started and the connection we formed through those few years is a bond that can’t really be broken. We’re all in different time zones but when we catch up it’s like we haven’t skipped a beat.

What’s next for Tyger?!
From an athletic standpoint – I’m going to qualify for the World Ironman 70.3 Championships in Nice, France next year. Then see where it takes me. From a creative aspect, I want to bring in an artsy mix of documenting the process of transitioning and getting there – day-to-day living of this lifestyle through YouTube and Insta as well as keeping my podcast going and more live shows!

All images: Tyger Lyons

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