Essential Sports Nutrition


Eating out...I need to vent

I don't like it. My main reason is that I'm a vegetarian who also likes to eat healthy. Therefore, aside from meat-free dishes which are mearly vegetarian because the meat is replaced with loads of cheese, I don't enjoy ordering salads EVERYTIME I eat out. Who wants to pay $9 for lettuce and a tomato when I know I am going to be hungry 1 hour after I eat. And because I'm a bit frugal with my money and impatient I don't enjoy having to drive to a place to eat, wait to be seated, wait for my food and then have to pay for something that I had to custom-make myself and I usually end up pissing off the waiter. I guess I don't like going out to eat because it isn't very fun for me due to my healthy eating habits which label me as an "outcast" compared to the rest of our culture. I'm sure those reading my blog understand where I am coming from, so I think I am speaking those who I see eating out, when I just don't understand why they don't get it. The portions are too big, there are too many calories in a single serving (when it should feed a family of four), there is too much unnecessary sodium in the food, there are too many unhealthy options and not enough healthy options and why do you need a desert menu when you are served more than enough food to last you two dinners?
I absolutely enjoy having a healthy diet. I love eating fruits and veggies, I love my bread and whole grains like oatmeal. I love my healthy fats, like olive oil, PB, nuts and cheese and love my protein sources like cottage cheese, string cheese, whey protein, yogurt, skim and soy milk, beans, tofu and vegetarian meats. I love my diet, I rarely get bored with my routine foods (Eggs, bread, oatmeal, nuts and PB) and I enjoy not having to worry about my weight (I don't weigh myself, I just look in the mirror or pay attention to how my clothes fit). I have energy all the time, I rarely eat before my morning workouts (Which can last up to 2 hours), I don't feel the need to eat big snacks or meals and I rarely crave foods. I have accepted my eating habits as the way I will eat forever and I feel 100% healthy with what I put in my mouth. But if I want something heart unhealthy, I don't feel guilty that they food is forbidden or that I shouldn't eat it cause I will gain weight. An extra 300 calories one day isn't going to matter and a treat every now and then won't throw off my routine. Although I catch myself sometimes thinking it, I try to always be concious of what I am eating and when I indulge in something (like real ice cream rather than the fat-free, sugar free, boring vanilla ice cream) I tell myself that nothing will happen to my body. I do understand that if I always eat those heart-unhealthy, foods which do not contribute to my training, I may throw my blood sugars off and I may experience a change in my energy and mood and my hormones may be thrown off. Therefore, the only thing I am very strict about is snacking and eating protein before meals. I always carry nuts with me and I try to eat some type of protein (like a piece of cheese, nuts, a few scoops of yogurt, sip of milk) or a piece of high fiber fruit (apple) before meals to keep my blood sugar stable. Therefore, if I always do that, i don't have to worry about eating that sweet treat every now and then. A few years back I was a little obsessive with my food and I saw food as fat-gaining and therefore I never allowed myself to eat certain things. Now I realize that foods which are high in calorie that you eat everyday, overtime will cause you to gain weight. But any food which will help your performance should be viewed as necessary food on a daily basis and therefore can be eaten at anytime. Heck, you could eat carrots and grapes everyday in excess and gain weight. Gosh, I wouldn't want to be the one to tell my friends that I am trying to cut back on carrots and grapes in order to lose weight. It is all about controlling what you eat so that all food is used as fuel. Simple as that.
Last night Karel and I went to Smokey Bones Bar and Grill. I was home all day writing articles and I think karel could sense that I didn't to get out and not cook for myself. Of course, when I go out to eat I have to look at menus, see if there are vegetarian options or see if there is something Marni-friendly. Karel is really good at finding places for me to eat at and I am blessed to have someone in my life (incluiding my family and most of my close friends) who understands and accepts how I eat. If anything, karel has lost a lot of weight (actually, increase lean muscle mass and decreased fat mass, weight has only dropped about 10 lbs) and really enjoys his healthy eating habits as well. He gets full quickly, he stays full and doesn't feel like he needs to eat all the time. Of course he is a guy so he can eat a lot more than I can. So, we decide to go to Smokey Bones because they have great salads. Not lettuce and an onion salad but really filling salads. I got a salad with pecans, cranberries, fresh strawberries, goat cheese, lettuce and onion w/ fat-free vinagarette on the side. It was actually a crispy chicken salad but as usual, I ask for eggs instead of the meat. Sometimes I ask for the meat on the side and give it to Karel. The salad was great and Karel enjoyed his salmon. So, here is where Karel and I started to get a little disgusted. And I really say that in a sensitive way because I am not one to call people fat or to look at people and think they are disgusting. I just question why and how people can consciously eat unhealthy. I think when food is around you when you eat out, you just tell yourself that it is ok, or you just can't resist. Well, it isn't ok and I just can't believe what people are eating. I don't sit around and just stare at people but Karel and I were discussing the big portions, fried foods, fatty, oversized deserts after a high calorie meal and most of all, the foods that kids are eating. Again, if YOU as a grown adult won't eat it or know that you shouldn't eat it than WHY are you feeding it to your kids? Even if they have fast metabolism, they are active or they are growing at the right height and weight, fatty, high calorie foods are addicting and so heart-unhealthy.
OK, I think I have vented enough but I just hope that people out there can realize that it is a lifestyle choice to eat healthy. It is much easier to eat healthy most of the time than to eat unhealthy food, regret eating the unhealthy food, feel sad about your body image because you ate the unhealthy food, feel lousy because of the change of chemicals and hormones in the body due to the unhealthy food and most of all, continously telling yourself that you need to start eating healthy and losing weight but continously putting it off. Take control and starting fueling your body with healthy food!


Happy Birthday Dad!!!!

It's my dad's birthday today and I couldn't be more proud to be his daughter and to call him my dad. As a dedicated optomestrist at the VA clinic, a dedicated dad and a loving husband, I think my dad is just great. Of course I thank him for me and my brothers' great athletic abilities, my tan greek skin, love of science and school and shortness from my dad (love ya too mom!), but most of all I have learned to just enjoy life from my dad supporting me through all my journey's. My parents helped me through college (monetary speaking) and helped me through grad school (mentally speaking after all my breakdowns). Then after grad school when I had negative dollars in my bank account my parents let me live at home while I found a job and pursued my passion of becoming a sports nutritionist. My parents have encouraged me to pursue my dreams no matter how crazy they seem...Examples being Marathons, Ironman's and going back to school for my 3rd degree. Oh, my dad takes great pics at my races and always has something funny to say to make me laugh:) I just love my dad and I wouldn't be what I am now without his help, guidance and positive words. I probably call my dad once a day and either tell him about my workouts, ask him for advice about my car or electronics, complain about bills and other money issues and of course, tell him how happy I am with Karel. A dad always wants the best for his daughter and my dad was open and loving when welcoming Karel into our family. Most of all, I feel I found a guy to spend my life with who is just like my dad in so many ways. And if anything, I hope that Karel and I can have the wonderful, loving relationship that him and my mom have had for over 30 years.
Happy Birthday Dad!!! Many more years to come....all exciting I'm sure!


This week is flying!

Well, it is already the end of Tuesday. After telling Karel I wasn't going to ride tonight I was in need of an outdoor spin after spending almost 3 full hours in my biology lab. I spun my legs in the wind for 15 miles and that is all I needed to do to finish my tuesday. After my intervals on the treadmill and 2000 yard swim I really didn't need to do anything else today in terms of training but mentally, I needed to just get outside and loosen out my legs. I feel much better now. I am working on some computer stuff as I watch Idol but I wanted to post a link to the team blog that Karel races for - Linder Capital. Enjoy!

Interval Tuesday!!!

Alarm went off at 5:45am but I couldn't get out of bed. Just 10 more minutes...ok, I was ready to get up. Karel...again, fast asleep. Oh the life of a cyclist to only have to do one sport a day :) Made my coffee, checked my email and I was out the door around 6am. It was really cold this morning for a Florida day in March but I toughed it up in the 46 degrees by turning on the heat in the car. I got to the Y a little later than planned but the treadmill was ready for me. A quick bathroom stop, filled up the water bottle and I jumped on the treadmill. I think after last weekend, I really recovered well from my two long workouts and I really feel a lot stronger by resting my legs on Mon. I feel I was starting from scratch back in December when I was almost running at 6.4 mph and I just impress myself with the slow changes that my body has made along the way. Again, I love the training aspect of what my body can do. Of course I love racing and the competition but there is something about slow changes over time and really being aware of what your body can and can't tolerate. It is so important to uderstand how to place positive training stress on the body, eat the the right foods to recover and then get stronger. Of course I have plenty of bad days but I really take note of the good today! Here's the workout:
Warm-up 7.1 mph for 5 minutes, 7.5 mph for 5 minutes. Easy..I couldn't believe how good I felt. Big Set: 10 x 50 sec. at 8.5 mph, 10 sec. straddle the treadmill. This set was just to get the heart rate up and get my legs warmed-up for speed. I felt good foreach set. Then, 5 x 1 min at 9 mph, 1 min at 7.5 mph. I probably should have stepped that up. I felt the burn after around 40 sec. but it wasn't intense. I knew I had more sets to go but I either gave myself too much recovery or I did those intervals too slow. When the whole workout was over, I probably should have bumped up the speed. I'll go faster next time.Next set, 4 x 1:30 at 8.8 mph, 30 sec at 7.5 This set was great. I was feeling super good through the whole run but I could tell I was getting stronger with every set. I decreased the speed since the intervals were increasing in time but again, I think I should have started out faster in the first set. It is alway easy to start with the long intervals first and then get faster but I wanted to do the whole set with some type of lactic acid buildup. Next set, 3 x 2 minutes at 8.6 mph, 30 sec. recovery at 7.5 mph. Now I was feeling a bit of a burn. Around 90 sec. I was checking my time to see how much longer I needed to suffer. I probably could have ran faster for the 2 minute set but I was focusing on my leg stride and steady breathing. I felt good and solid as I was running. Last set, 3 min at 8.5 mph. By this point I had been running for over 45 minutes and 35 minutes of my run was intervals. The 3 minutes was a solid tempo and running under 7 minute miles for all my intervals was a great boost for me. I finished the workout with a few minutes of easy running and walked it out for a total of 7.2 miles in 52 minutes. Sweaty, out of water and ready to get in the pool. I did a few plyometric leg exercise (step ups on a bench, quick lunges and abs) before I changed out of my sweaty clothes. I am surprised I stayed in the water for a 2000 but I wasn't feeling any speed in the pool. I stretched it out and did everything on a 1:30-1:40 100, base. Nice and smooth for the following: 3 x 200, 5 x 150 (50 fast, 100 long/50 long, 50 fast, 50 long/100 long, 50 fast..and repeat for 2 more), 3 x 100 pace and 4 x 50 kick. Then a 100 cool-down and I was finished.
Another great Interval Tuesday completed! I have biology lab at 2 until 4:40. If I get out early I'd love to get on my bike. If not, no worries..I'd enjoy the evening to recover and get ready to teach my spin class tomorrow.


Super Fast Monday!

Today came and went. 6am I didn't want to leave our place. Karel was fast asleep but I made my way to the Y with my coffee in hand. A 15 walk on the treadmill hardly woke me up but after a few hip and ab exercises I was on my way to the pool for a swim coaching session. It was 8:30am when I left the Y and I was still a little sleepy. Off to the DMV to turn in some papers and then straight to school. 1 hour of studying in the library and then to class at 11-12:15am. Back home for lunch and a brief chat with Karel as I start working on an Iron Girl article. I barely made it to 2 and I had to lay down. I guess with the increase in training volume (and intensity) I am in need of a little more sleep. I've been really good at getting into bed before 10 (around 9:20 the last couple of nights) but I think I need a few extra naps during the week and especially on the weekends. I woke up semi-refreshed after a 30 minute nap but then it was time for another swim coaching session. 4-5pm went by super fast and we had a great time in the water. I've been working with a guy, Gary, who incredibly dropped 3 minutes in his swim a few weeks ago at the Orlando Wildman olympic distance tri and with efficient swimming, he also dropped 9 minutes in his bike. He is 60 and hoping to qualify for Nationals so I am super excited to see how he does in Clermont on April 6th. So, into the shower to get warm since I have had trouble getting warm all day (it's getting cool here in Florida, 40's tonight!). After the shower I made a quick stop at Walgreens and then to the library again for my 7pm evening class. Thank goodness that we got out of class early tonight and I was able to get home before 9:30pm. Phew...the day is finally over and as Karel sits watching a movie, I am heading to bed to get ready for Interval Tuesday! Good night!


Training and Racing

I've had a really busy week so my apologies to my blog readers. Karel and I took a quick trip to Jacksonville and I will post about that trip shortly. Training has been going really really really well. I emphasize really well because compared to where I was a couple months ago, I'm seeing great improvements. I'm feeling strong and consistent. Getting my speed back has been progressive but overtime I slowly see improvements. On saturday morning Karel and I needed to leave at 8:30am for his race in Webster. I really wanted to get a run in so I set the alarm for 5:30am, had my coffee and a piece of toast w/ PB and a little banana and I was out the door at 6:00am. I do not like running in the dark and 6am is a little scary for me to run outside. I do not like to take my chances training outside or in unsafe conditions. I put on my RunnerID ankle band and told Karel my route. Although I run on the pinellas trail through Dunedin, there are a couple dark places and I just don't like zoning out when I can't really see where I am going. Well, I had my radio on and the moon was keeping it a bit light out and slowly the sun was rising. I enjoyed listening to my footsteps and not hearing any cars and after about 10 minutes of running I was pleasently greated by many other early-morning runners on the trail. Finally, I could start to zone out. The plan was 12 miles and I did just that. It was a slow 12 miles but it went by fast. I ran for just about an hour and 40 minutes and as I was coming back home Karel was packing his racing stuff in the car. It was a quick hi and then i was in the shower to clean myself up. I made myself my breakfast, ate it in the car and after a grocery and starbucks stop we were on our way to webster. In about 90 minutes we arrived at the race site but just like last year, you are riding on back roads of only gravel, you feel completely lost and then all of a sudden, you see a field full of cars and cyclists. Karel has had a really tough training week, with several big GA cup races behind him so he knew this would be a tough race. The race consisted of a dirt road section which takes the life out of you to just hold on to the handlebars and just kills your butt bouncing up and down. The race started at 11:30, 12 loops and was 180KM! Karel only needed one extra water bottle since he carried 3 on his bike (2 on the frame, 1 on the jersey) and I had a successful water bottle toss around lap 5 or 6. Karel had a really great race and ended up 14th. He was a little bummed because he was 5th last year but he is racing really strong and consistent this year and it is very early in the season. He had to remind himself that he doesn't want to peak right now so after a quite ride home of me driving and him thinking about his race, he had good self-talk conversation that his place in the race was just fine. It is tough in cycling (as oppose to triathlons) because you are racing for places. You can have a great race with a fast pace but if you get dropped or you finish in a chase group, you are finishing at least 10th place or above. But if you can hang on to just one break you have the chance to place top 10 or even top 5. Cycling is a very exhausting sport both mentally and physically and although I always think Karel does great, I know he really hung in hard to finish that race. A lot of people didn't finish and after 4 hours and 18 minutes, Karel crossed the finish line. I was proud of him for not quiting the race. I had to smile when he finished because you see all the Pro 1,2 guys (and everyone else) just covered in dirt. You can see lines from the helmet and their jersey and bibs and the bikes are just covered in dirt. Well, I think it was a great race for Karel and after he slept on it (and woke up incredibly sore) he is ok with his finish. This morning I woke up early as Karel recovered and I was out the door at 6:30am on the my bike. Again, a great workout where I felt good. 60 miles on the bike and followed it with a 4 mile run (8:30 pace). I was a little slow starting the run but after 2 miles I felt a little more comfortable. Well, I will enjoy the rest of the day...studying and eating :) and hanging out with my very tired and sore Karel. Happy Easter to those celebrating the holiday and for everyone, enjoy your sunday!