4/28/17

Attention athletes! Don't overlook your special nutritional requirements.

As an athlete, you have special nutritional requirements compared to your fellow exercise enthusiasts. There's a good chance that you do more volume of exercise during a long workout than most people do in a week. Although this may make you feel a bit superhuman at times, it may also make you feel exhausted and worn out a lot of the time. Thus, it is important to take your "athlete in training" title, very seriously, recognizing that you can only adapt to training if you have a good understanding of your individual nutritional needs AND you meet them on a daily basis. 

In working with athletes, I am never surprised how many athletes struggle to meet daily energy needs. Not only is it tough to be an athlete but it's tough to eat like an athlete!
Consider how the following affects how you well (or not well) you meet your daily energy needs:
-Training load (volume, frequency, intensity)
-Family commitments

-Meetings/social events
-Work commitments/travel
-Lack of appetite
-Little time to eat
-Poor meal planning/prep

-Environmental stress (heat/cold)
-Dietary trends/body image concerns
-Appetite/cravings
-Timing of food
-Influence of professionals/other athletes/social media
-Availability/convenience of food/drinks
As I mentioned above, you are not like other people. The athlete mindset is to adapt to each training session to better prepare for race day. Thus, every training session is an investment to your development and ultimately, your goal is to maximize fitness with the least amount of training stress.

As an athlete, your active lifestyle is quite extreme and because of that, it is important that you understand why nutrition is so critical to helping you achieve success in your sport and why you need to make the effort, every day, to stay on top of your daily and sport nutrition needs.

As an athlete, you need an opportunity, an appetite, awareness, knowledge and availability to consume adequate nutrients and fluids in recommended amounts to meet your daily energy needs, which is dependent on your training load.

As an athlete, you have high energy costs because of your high energy expenditure. In other words, you must meet carbohydrate, protein, fluid and electrolyte needs every single day to ensure that you can stay healthy and consistent with training.  If you do not meet your daily needs, your body begins to fatigue, you struggle to keep your body in good metabolic and hormonal health and you increase risk for injury, sickness, burnout or over training. 

As an athlete, you must spend more time than other people to strategically plan your meals and your snacks and to also time your nutrition around workouts. So in your already busy life, yes, you still need to make YOUR eating a priority.

As an athlete, with the racing season quickly approaching (or you may already be in it), 
I strongly encourage you to not overlook how critical and extremely necessary it is focus on your food consumption and nutrient quality throughout the day. Busy schedules, lack of planning and intentional undereating will negatively affect training so do yourself a favor and make nutrition a key component to your active lifestyle. 
As an athlete, you have the energy to train so dedicate some of that energy to healthy eating and proper fueling/hydration. Consider that that extra energy on your diet can actually help you train harder, longer and faster!
As an athlete, you likely have a tremendous amount of information on how to fuel and hydrate for workouts, how to fuel properly before/after workouts and you likely understand the basics of how to eat a healthy diet throughout the day. Apply this information to your daily life so that eating, fueling and hydration does not become an after thought. I see it all the time but athletes do not make healthy eating, fueling and hydration a priority until something bad happens with the body. 
As you continue with your summer training, consider that a loss of appetite, heavy training, fatigue, poor access to suitable (or healthy foods) and distractions from proper eating can all negatively affect your ability to train well and keep your body in good health, during the time of the year when you expect your body to perform the best. 

As an athlete, there are no magic bullets or secret nutrition tips to boosting performance. Consistent training, proper fueling/hydration, planning ahead and understanding what works best for you will help you get to that next level.

Here are a few simple nutrition guidelines to help you achieve athletic excellence: 
  1. Plan your day of eating before it happens. Plan out your nutrition before/during/after workouts, 3 meals and a satisfying snack between your meals. 
  2. For every workout, don't just show up. Have a plan for hydration and fueling before/during/after all workouts. 
  3. If you have an off day or a bad workout, underfueling or overexercising will not make things better. Just move on with the methods that are working for you so that you can stay consistent with training. 
  4. If you have a bad workout and you feel like your methods are no longer working for you, reach out to a Board Certified Sport Dietitian for help. 
  5. Don't be afraid to focus on (and eat for) your own nutrition needs when eating with family, friends and co-workers. 
  6. Plan ahead! You must shop and prepare food before a hectic day happens.
  7. Plan ahead! You must prepare your pre and post snacks/meals before fatigue/tiredness/business sets in.
  8. Sport nutrition products not only help you perform high quality training sessions and keep your body in good health but they bring confidence for race day application. 
  9. Always consider how your environment and terrain will affect how you fuel/hydrate before, during and after workouts. 
As an athlete, if you are committing yourself to training for an upcoming event, consider the reward to your training investment when you can confidently say that your nutrition is enhancing your performance and health and that your mind (and not your nutrition) is your only limiter in training and on race day. 

4/27/17

Why you should break up with your food rules - forever!



For much of my educational career, I was taught guidelines based on scientific. By definition, a guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action. A guideline is never mandatory, not binding and not enforced. Unlike a rule, which tells you what you are and are not allowed to do, a guideline is a recommendation or a suggestion. Whereas there are no consequences to breaking a guideline, rules, when broken, do not have the same consequences/penalties as laws. Rules are typically set in place as it is a way to enforce the way that things should be done.

In your everyday life, you likely adhere to both rules and guidelines and hopefully, obey all laws. For example, it's a law to wear your seat belt when you are in a car and to not drink and drive. There are rules to the road when you ride a bike outside and at every athletic event, there are rules to ensure athlete safety and fair play. Then there are guidelines to help people make healthy choices in their daily lives to help prevent chronic disease and to improve longevity and quality of life and perhaps guidelines at your place of employment, to help you effectively do your job.

As a board certified sport dietitian, my job is to help athletes apply sound guidelines and practices to maintain optimal health while improving athletic performance. To ensure athletic success, every athlete needs to be treated like an individual. Therefore, I never enforce rules as it relates to how an athlete should or shouldn't eat. As a qualified individual to prescribe, treat and counsel athletes on daily and sport nutrition, I am often disturbed by the many "experts" that dish out nutrition advice, almost always with food rules.

Although daily and sport nutrition guidelines are needed to help an athlete stay healthy while maximizing performance gains in training and on race day, food rules, whether advocated by a coach, nutrition expert, on social media (ex. blog, website, etc.) or in a book/magazine/TV, encourage restrictive behavior.

With good intentions, many athletes use food rules as a way to eat better and to improve performance. For example, a rule to always refuel after a workout is great advice. But a rule of "no starchy food in the evening" or "bread is off-limit" or "you can only eat a cookie if you workout for 2+ hours" or"must workout fasted to burn fat" or "no sport nutrition during workouts less than 75 minutes" can place an athlete at risk for disordered eating patterns, potentially sabotaging performance and health because athletes see these rules as non-negotiable and will ignore biological cues for hunger and cravings in order to adhere to these rules. Seeing that athletes often take guidelines too the extreme, there can be great consequences to adhering to food rules. 

As an example, an athlete experiences a positive change in body composition by working out fasted in January and February. His/her sugar cravings appear to be controlled and the athlete feels energized and strong. However, come March, the athlete's training increases in intensity and duration and the athlete is now gaining weight, experiencing extreme sugar cravings and is struggling to maintain energy during workouts. Whereas once the food rule of "no food before a morning workout" was seen as a success, the athlete now has great anxiety and stress about eating before a a workout and despite knowing that the current lack of fueling is sabotaging performance and health, there is great anxiety to breaking the rule of not eating before a workout. Ultimately, the athlete, who is very resistant to change, allows him/herself to eat before the workout but feels safer with this food rule if workouts are over 90 minutes. Although one rule has been broken, the athlete now regularly workouts for over 90 minutes anytime food is eaten before a workout to feel safer about breaking the food rule.

As I mentioned before, there is no punishment for breaking a guideline or a rule. Thus, nothing bad will happen if this athlete eats before a workout. However, the athlete is now a victim of his/her rules and feels like a prisoner and slave to self-imposed food rules. In other words, the athlete is feels guilty about breaking the food rule, similar to the guilt felt from breaking a law that comes with a punishment.

In my line of work, I specialize in helping athletes overcome disordered eating patterns that are sabotaging health and performance. The biggest resistor, in my experience, is that these athletes fear a change in body composition by breaking food rules. In other words, certain athletes feel great anxiety and stress without food rules, for fear of gaining weight or not meeting the expectations of a coach, training partner or beliefs of what an athlete should/shouldn't look like.

Regardless of the source of the initiating of food rules, many athletes are unable and unwilling to deviate from the strict guidelines that they have created. Some athletes have difficulty breaking food rules set forth in the New Year, whereas other athletes have been living with food rules for many decades. Food rules can be as strict as no eating after 7pm, or never eating more than 30g of carbs at a meal, to something as simple as always drinking a full glass of water or eating an apple before a meal to trick your body into thinking it's full.

Food rules create structure, order and control. This is why diets work - temporarily. Food rules in a diet keep you "on track" by taking out the guess work of eating but this "good or bad" style of eating 
do not take into account your ever-changing life and unique nutritional and sport nutrition needs.

At first, food rules make eating easy, but the consequence for many athletes is disordered eating, which may develop into an eating disorder.

Following strict and unrealistic rules can result in physical, emotional and psychological issues, including nutrient deficiencies, hormonal disturbances, anxiety, depression and obsessive thinking. For an athlete, the stress you place on your body through training is more than enough for your body to handle. Food rules are like gasoline to the fire as you already risk health issues by pushing your body for performance improvements, why place it under even greater stress with food rules?

Food rules also result in extreme preoccupation with food and body image. This can be exhausting - mentally and emotionally. You may find yourself checking out of life to adhere to your food rules to ensure that you never break a rule. Understanding that unless you isolate yourself from friends, family and social events, you will eventually need to break some of your food rules, you  may experience feelings of guilt, self hatred, body dissatisfaction, anxiety and shame when you can't meet your eating expectations.  Due to intense fears relating to breaking your food rules, you may also experience unexplained GI issues due to food phobias, rules and eating strategies based on irrational fears (ex. eating gluten, drinking milk, eating too much sugar, consuming calories during training, etc.).

Breaking food rules can be very difficult. There can be great resistance to stop engaging in food rules and rituals related to food. But it's time to put yourself back into control. As you break your food rules, you will find yourself with less anxiety and more confidence with your food choices. During your break-up period, it is very important that you do not focus on your body as your body is likely in a state of undernourishment and low energy. The first step in your break-up is giving your body the nourishment it needs to heal from the damage that has been done by disordered eating (ex. restrictive eating caused by food rules). Eventually, likely with the help of a professional, you will be able to engage in healthy, structured and enjoyable eating patterns that are not rigid, strict, controlled or obsessive. As an athlete, it's likely that you want to do amazing things with your body. It is important to see food as nourishment and fuel. As an athlete, it is a responsibility to your body to relearn what it feels like to be hungry and satisfied and what it requires from you to eat "enough."
It's time to overcome your fears of certain foods and start to incorporate them into your normal life. Stop reading the blogs, articles and websites that encourage you to avoid x-food. If you find yourself worried about eating a certain food, like bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, dairy, oil, peanut butter, fruit or chocolate, it is important to your health and well-being to get rid of the mindset that forbids you to eat certain foods. Labeling food as good or bad or setting rituals for yourself as to when you are or are not allowed to eat certain foods is not health or performance promoting. 


As an athlete and coach, I am always looking for ways to experience performance improvements with the least amount of training stress. Food rules place a lot of stress on your body and make it much more difficult to experience performance gains. If you are finding yourself uncomfortable or afraid around certain foods, for fear that it will make you gain weight or you will lose control when eating certain foods, these food rules have likely caused you to avoid certain foods. Ultimately, your off-limit food list may have foods on it that are necessary and critical for you to achieve a healthy weight, maintain good health and to maximize performance. It isn't until you break up with your food rules that you will learn to create a style of eating that is free of guilt, shame, anxiety and rules and will (finally) let you live a life of food freedom. 

4/26/17

Athlete Spotlight: Kara Diamond-Husman: Leadville 100 Trail run finisher, now pacing through life with a Type 1 Diabetic daughter.


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Name: Kara Diamond-Husman

Age: 39

City/State: Denver, CO

Primary sport: Running
How many years in the sport: 12 years

What Trimarni services have you used: Training plan

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Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

I was a competitive tennis player growing up. My parents were against me partaking in any running activities, even if it was required in a team sport. They would write notes to excuse me so that I wouldn't run. My parents believed that running would causes eating disorders in girls.

My urge to run began in 2005 when I was 20 weeks pregnant and on bed-rest. I was in the midst of a complicated pregnancy with twins and was either laid up on the couch in our Wash Park home or I was at the hospital, under close watch. When I was at home, I would watch people through my house window as they ran by to do a few laps in the park. During that time, I decided I wanted to run my first marathon once our twins were born. While my husband and I did quite a bit of hiking in the high country, I never was a “runner” and I never competed in a race. Six months after our twins were born I ran my first half marathon, the Boulder Backroads Half. I loved it! I loved the energy I felt from running a race. Six months later, in 2006, I signed up for the inaugural year of the Colfax Marathon. I amazed myself by placing third in my age group and qualifying for Boston. My journey of traveling to marathons and seeing new cities began. After running Boston and then New York, I was completely hooked. I found running to be extremely invigorating, I loved the positive energy of the race environment and it helped build my self-confidence.


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What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?
Over the next couple of years, I ran many marathons and half marathons around the country, often placing in the top three of my age group. In 2012, I was named one of Colorado’s fastest marathon runners in Colorado Runner Magazine. Then in 2012, I raced my first Ironman race, Ironman Arizona.The day was so unbelievable and so emotional. It was everything I thought it would and could be. I loved the entire race atmosphere and loved all the encouraging people around me – including my family who flew out to support me. Crossing that finish line was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Those six words, “Kara Diamond-Husmann, You, Are, An, Ironman,” will always be with me. My life was changed forever.


My Ironman Journey continued with Ironman Mount Tremblant in 2013, Ironman Boulder 2014 (Kona Qualified), Ironman Kona World Championships 2014, and Ironman Wisconsin 2015. However, recently, one of my daughters was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. After this diagnosis I needed to be on call for her at all times of the day. I stopped going to the pool and I have not been back on my road bike. When I have free time, I enjoy doing things I love and that is RUNNING! As my passion for running was growing exponentially, I felt an urge to share this passion with others. Shortly after my running career began, I heard of a program called Girls on the Run, a national organization that teaches 8 to 13 year old girls self-respect, confidence, and healthy lifestyles through running. I immediately knew that I wanted to be part of this organization.  I could integrate my love for teaching young kids (I am a former teacher) with my love for running and help build self-confidence in girls. I’ve been a coach and site director for Girls on the Run since 2006 and brought the program to my own children’s school in 2010. The Girls on the Run program ends each year with the girls completing a 5K run at an organized race event. It is very rewarding being an inspiration to all the young girls that I get to work with. And, watching all the young girls cross that finish line with a sparkle in their eye, an uncontrollable smile on their face, and an “I can do it” attitude is so inspiring to me.


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What do you do for work?
GOTHR coach and Type 1 Diabetes mom.

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How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?

My 12 year old daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is 7 days a week 24 hours a day for 365 days. It never sleeps and it never has a vacation! I have not slept a night since her diagnosis 20 months ago. I carry my phone with me on the trails and monitor her blood sugar while on runs. My runs are often interrupted with phone calls from school about her high or low blood sugars and I talk them through it from my runs. Thank goodness for technology.

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Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?

Not let work get in the way of training. Booking your workouts as appointments with yourself. or with training partners.



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Do you have kids?
Twin 12-year old girls. 

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How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance it all?

My daughters are my biggest cheerleaders! I train after I drop them off at school during the week. On weekends in the summer, they hike 14ers with me and in the winter, they telemark ski with me. They run at night with me and we decorate ourselves in cool flashing lights and call ourselves "FIREFLIES."

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What tips and tricks do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family? 

Incorporate your kids into your training. 


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How do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?

My husband and I both race, so he trains early in the morning and on some nights after work. We are lucky that my parents live near us so we can drop our girls off at their house and have dates on the trails (it's our HAPPY PLACE!!!)

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Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson
learned that you'd like to share?
I always wanted to run 100 miles and in the Emergency Room, at Hailey's diagnosis, it was then that I decided to run the Leadville 100 to raise money for Type 1 Diabetes.
I raced Leadville 100 Trail Run August 20, 2016 to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I had 30 hours to complete the 100 mile trail race in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado with almost 18,000 feet of climbing. I finished in 29 hours 59 minutes and 50 seconds. I was the last finisher to get in at the 30 hour mark and only 50% of racers finished in 30 hours! And I raised $16,776.20 for JDRF!
 
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What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
1. Set a goal.
2. Always have fun with training.
3. Include your family members in your training.

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How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?

Setting a goal that you are committed to and stay determined until you conquer it! "I will not quit and I will not give in until I reach the END!" is my motto. Keep putting one foot in front of the other until the end.

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
Frozen yogurt with sprinkles and a 7-11 coffee.

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What key races do you have planned in 2017?

I just completed the Boston Marathon. I will be racing the Run Rabbit 100 in Steamboat, Colorado in September.

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What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?
Running the Boston Marathon every year and running Ultra races, in exciting new places.
Anything else? 

During training, I learn more about myself than I ever know. The long training runs give you plenty of time for self introspection. Training has taught me discipline, time management, and mental toughness. It has also built my self confidence and has made many of life’s big “obstacles” seem not so big any more. Training is very difficult at times, but I love every minute of it. I feel so alive. And, I make a lot of new friends on the way who have the same goal orientated attitude and zest for life as I do.
You can follow Kara on social media: 

Instagram @ 
karamarathoner
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