Essential Sports Nutrition


Off-season nutrition

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Off-season nutrition
By: Marni Rakes, M.S.

You've set your goal and have decided to train for an Aflac Iron Girl event. Great choice! You replaced the elliptical machine and stationary bike with the treadmill and a few weekly spin classes. Now, you are counting miles rather than calories burned.

The day you register for a race you begin to train like an athlete. The day you finish a race, you become an athlete. No longer do you tell others that you have to "exercise." Instead, your workout routine is structured, planned and disciplined. Although training for an event may seem tiresome and sometimes boring, an end goal will give you the determination and motivation to stay true to your training routine.

As mentioned in last month's article, winter brings cold weather and a lack of motivation for your training routine. Even non-structured activities become difficult. Do you contemplate getting out of bed, leaving that warm, snugly comforter, to get in an early 30-minute swim? Are you one of the many who stays in bed or do you fight temptation and go for the workout?

For the times you do have the motivation to exercise, and find yourself enjoying your change in routine, weight loss is probably still on your mind. Don't worry, you are not alone! There is nothing wrong with focusing on calories in and calories out during the time of year when performance is not a main concern. Of course, you are also doing a great thing for your heart, as you focus on hitting the gym six days a week. Exercising to burn calories is a practical method to gradually lose weight, so long as you gradually cut back on your caloric intake in order to create a caloric deficit.

Unfortunately, your high-calorie nutrition plan, to support arduous peak-season training and racing, tends to carry to the off-season. No longer do you have the luxury to eat a little extra during the day because you can't just "burn it off in training." In the off-season, you want to give your body a break from structured training, so you can stick to an exercise plan that will boost the metabolism without a sense of monotony.

As you choose to exercise on a daily basis in order to burn calories, it is important that you aren't just exercising in order eat whatever you want. Exercise is only one part of losing weight in the off-season.

Find foods that leave you feeling satisfied and not stuffed. One less serving a day, or 300-400 fewer calories, may be the missing link to losing those stubborn five to ten pounds. When grocery shopping, check food labels to find foods that have less than 150 calories per serving, so you don't go overboard on meal and snack calories.

When struggling to find the best heart-healthy foods in your supermarket, use your best judgment, and a little nutrition knowledge, to find the healthiest options. And, when there isn't a healthy option, think twice about buying that food. Unfortunately, there is no healthy alternative to double-stuffed Oreos (and no, regular Oreos do not count).

When planning your meals and snacks, it is important to prioritize low-calorie, low-sugar and low-fat, portioned-controlled foods to complement foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates. Furthermore, a colorful diet with a variety of wholesome and natural foods will ensure you are meeting all calorie recommendations without eating an excessive amount of calories.

In the off-season, don't be afraid to go to bed a little hungry. Start your day with a filling breakfast and try to eat fruits and veggies for your snacks. If you appreciate a calorie-controlled diet, you will not only create a lifetime of healthy eating, but you will also go into the racing season with a more efficient body.



Now that I am approaching my last week of school, I have a little extra time on my hands. So, what better than to look at old pictures. I think my life wouldn't exist without pics. I am always camera happy and I am so fortunate to be able to look back at some many good times.

Here are some great memories....

My dog Misty. She battled bladder cancer for over a year and she lived longer than expected with the help of my mom's holistic diet for her. She was the best thing that ever happened to me. I think about her every day and I miss her so much but she allowed me to truely enjoy life for what it is and to never take anything for granted. This pic was at Karel's cycling race. Misty was in her last few months of life and this was one of her best days.

I miss my 21 years in Lexington Kentucky but I don't miss this. Life in Lexington Kentucky= ICE! I miss my old house but I don't miss the ice tearing down all our trees!

But misty LOVED the snow!

My very first triathlon in 2004. I was the only one in my age group and I just got a bike 5 days before the race. To no surprise, I won my age group and I was sore for at least a week. The race was so hilly and I had no idea what I was doing...but I had fun!

My brother, being the stud that he is. 4 years on the NCAA gymnastics team at the University of Michigan and 1 Big Ten, High bar champion title. He is now a business man at PPG in Pitt, PA but he will always have a love for gymnastics.

Swimming! Where would I be without 10 years of competitive swimming. This was my life and although I was into the arts (I played piano at an arts school for 5 year before HS) I always felt comfortable in the pool. I remember getting so upset at my parents if I would have to miss practice for whatever reason. Swimming kept me grounded during HS and because of it, I didn't get involved with any bad crowds or bad habits in HS or college. Without swimming I wouldn't have triathlons and I know I wouldn't have the discipline, motivation and determination to reach my goals.



What a great long weekend. I got in a 37 mile ride on Friday morning, a 40 mile ride on Saturday morning and a 8.5 mile run this morning. I spent a bit of time on the computer working on training schedules and nutrition write-ups and I finished up a few assignments for school. This is my last week of school and I am super excited. I can't wait to have Dec. off before I start another semester of school.
Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. Karel and I went to Lenore's parents house in Riverside (downtown Jacksonville) at 2pm. I brought my fruit pizza dish and I also made a brocoli and chickpea side dish. I added a little low sodium ginger soy sauce and sesame seeds to the brocoli dish and then baked it in the oven.
I was really excited for Karel and I to celebrate our first thanksgiving together as husband and wife and I was also excited for Campy to meet his new girlfriend. I was looking forward to this all week....Lenore has a chihuahua named Annabell and this would be the first time that Campy would interact with another dog. I was really excited to see if the two got along and if they acted the similar since Campy is a chihuahua/italian greyhound mix.
As soon as campy got out of the car, Annabell and Campy had a few sniffs of each other and then they started playing. They were running all around the backyard in circles, chasing each other. I couldn't even take a picture of them they were running so fast. Campy also enjoyed his first thanksgiving with a few pieces of Turkey from Karel. Oh did he love that!
Thanksgiving was great and we enjoyed the people around the table as we shared stories and talked about random stuff. I missed being with my family but I always tell them how thankful I am to have them in my life.
I hope everyone had a great weekend.

My fruit pizza (sugar cookie dough crust, fat-free strawberry cream cheese and whatever fruit you want)

Annabell meets Campy (she dressed up for Campy)

They are so fast!

Water break

Campy is looking for his future wife (annabell)

Karel found Annabell's christmas outfit


More turkey please?

Too much turkey...