4/4/09

Iron Girl Clearwater 10K

4th year in a row...wouldn't miss it! However, once again, no taper, my body is tired and I have to convince myself that I need to run all-out for 6.2 miles. Ughhh

On Friday my mom, Campy and I picked up my stuff at the expo down at Coachman park (race venue). I gave a big hug to Judy (IG president) and I saw several other familiar faces. Judy loved Campy, as did many other people at the expo. Campy said hi to many dogs and like usual, he had a little bark and kick with his back legs to let the dogs know that he is a small dog with a big bite (even though he doesn't bite :).
I had a light dinner and some fruit w/ yogurt for desert and at 10pm it was lights out. I woke up at 5:30 to start the coffee and warm my oatmeal. I didn't want a lot of food in me so I had 1/2 packet of oatmeal and raisins. Just enought to keep my tummy happy but light enough to digest easily. At 6am I made my 50 min drive to downtown clearwater and after about 15 min of waiting around, it was time for the start.
I love and hate this course. We go over the big causeway two times, just like the 70.3 clearwter world championships. This race never gets easier.
I started towards the front before the Aflac duck told us to go...3,2,1...AFLAC!!! What a non-intimidating way to start. Plus, with over 1500 women at this race, it is really easy to enjoy yourself at the start. Judy gave us her usual positive and moving pre-race talk and off we went at 7:30.
My plan for this race was to run all out. Something I never do because I have no idea how to pace myself. Obviously, there is no real pace if you go all-out so I guess I wanted to pace myself in an all-out effort. Ha..that didn't work. Without my intervals every mile (1 mile hard, 10 sec. easy) like I do in 15K, halfs and fulls, I found myself losing time in the 10 sec recovery period and not being able to pick back up the pace again.
I just pushed as hard as I could and did the best I could. I got passed by three girls between mile 2 and 4 and after that, luckily, I was able to hold my spot.
I finished 7th overall and 1st in my age group. My time was respectable (45 min) but 3 min. off my PR. I am, however, happy with a 7:18 min/mile pace and as always, I love placing in my age group and receiving the awesome IG age group awards.
Please join me in amusement as I post my splits:
7:13 (up the bridge)
6:07 (down the bridge..seriously, I don't even run that fast in my intervals!)
7:57 (tried to recover)
7:27 (girls are passing me..they are so fast)
6:59 (where did that come from?)
8:17 (back up the bridge and down..pacing myself to not lose my legs)
1:22 (sprint to the finish)
Finish: 45.27

There is only about 2 miles total of flat course for this event. I think Judy loves challenging us. Just because it is an IG event, there is nothing "girly" about this course. However, after the race there is plenty of pink from the t-shirts (AWESOME this year) to the finish line chute to the post race breakfast cafe. If you ever get a chance to race an IG event, don't pass up the opportunity! It is one amazing experience and you will love all of the amenities. They even gave us reusable tote bags instead of plastic goody bags..totally environmentally friendly!
Enjoy the pics!








I love this bag!


This isn't your normal race bib! Gotta love the finisher medal!


Age group award w/ grace (IG logo) on the charm!


The Aflac duck! He even talks...AAAAFLLAAACC! How cute is he??!!



Awesome dry-fit shirt...how cool is this?!!!

4/2/09

The Rewards Of Eating Healthy

I think a lot of people battle with the feeling of "reward" after a workout, when it comes to food. You worked out therefore you can eat whatever. Sadly, it doesn't always work that way. Even with the most extreme Ironman training, you can't just eat whatever you want, whenever you want. However, there are always foods to de-emphasize and emphasize and so long that you are taking care of your heart and focusing on portions, there is always a time for a little reward every now and then.
However, how about rewarding yourself with good food that will keep you looking young and feeling energized. Enjoy this article that can be found on IronGirl.com or in the FREE monthly newsletter.



The Rewards Of Eating Healthy
By Marni Rakes

What woman wouldn't want glowing skin and a youthful face? Yet, in an effort to fit into a smaller size of jeans or feel skinny in a new race day outfit for an upcoming event, many women focus on a number on the scale as the primary reason for shopping for healthy foods.

However, when cravings occur and "healthy" foods become boring, all reasons for eating healthy are ignored and it is back to old, unhealthy habits.

Although increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat will allow your mind, muscles and heart to work at their finest, your main priority for eating healthy should be the rewards of longevity, a strong mind and lots of physical activity.

You either choose to reward yourself with healthy food or you choose to make unhealthy decisions, which leave you struggling to reach your goal weight. If you are the woman who wants to look and feel young, good nutrition habits are critical to living a long and healthy life. Learn to love a lifestyle of healthy eating and daily exercise, which will allow you to feel young, as you grow older. So, next time you enjoy a snack of carrots or glass of skim milk, remind yourself that eating healthy is your choice and one with many healthy rewards.

The following are foods that promote healthy skin, strengthen the immune system, promote brain health, improve memory and strengthen bones:

1) Foods high in vitamin A - skim milk, mozzarella cheese, egg yolks, spinach, mangoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, low fat yogurt, carrots, peppers, kale, cayenne pepper, parsley, tomatoes, squash, romaine lettuce.

2) Fruits high in antioxidants, vitamin C and E - blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, plums, oranges, grapefruits, bananas, kiwi, lemon juice, papaya, pineapple, watermelon.

3) Vegetables high in antioxidants, vitamin C and E - pinto and red beans, split peas, spinach, artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, green beans, celery, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower.

4) Quality sources of essential fatty acids - olive oil, lean meat, dark greens, oregano, tofu, soybeans, shrimp, eggs, hemp oil, canola oil, walnuts, salmon, flaxseeds.

5) Quality sources of selenium - whole grains, crimini mushrooms, shrimp, snapper, tuna, halibut, salmon, tofu, oats, turkey breast, brown rice, tuna, brazil nuts.
6) Liquids - green tea and water.
7) Dark chocolate - prevents against UV damage, increase blood flow to skin.

8) Food rich in folic acid - sweet potatoes, whole grains, oranges, spinach, asparagus, grapefruit, cereal, okra, chickpeas, lentils, almonds, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried beans, liver, egg yolk.

9) Foods rich in choline and boron - egg yolks, soybean products, banana, cauliflower, corn, flax seeds, milk, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, sesame seeds, whole grains, hazel nuts, raisins, walnuts, almonds, avocados, dates, apricots.

10) Foods rich in Calcium and vitamin D - low fat dairy products, salmon, tofu, calcium-fortified soy products, legumes, broccoli, skim milk, eggs, low fat cheese, low fat cottage cheese, fortified orange juice.

3/31/09

Losing those last 10-15 lbs

QUESTION:
I was put on the pill in high school to help clear up skin problems and was on it for about five years during which I gained about 40 pounds. Now some of that weight was part of going to college and getting stuck with dining hall food and I'm aware of that. I switched pills about mid-way through my freshmen year (from Yasmin to generic Ortho-Tricyclin for insurance purposes) and that was when I put the bulk of the weight on. I had food cravings all the time and it was nearly impossible for me to lose the weight. I tried literally everything. Weight Watchers, South Beach, you name it I did it. I went off the pill about a year ago and have since dropped 25 pounds without making any real change to my diet (which is high in veggies and whole grains and low in saturated fats) and exercise. Intense food cravings are gone and my normal hunger signals have seemed to return. However, I can't seem to lose another pound. I've been stuck at the same weight about two months now. I eat pretty healthy, trying to get lots of vegetables and I exercise regularly. So I guess this very very long winded question boils down to what suggestions do you have to help me drop the last 10 to 15 pounds besides the typical stuff you can read in most health magazines about plateaus.


ANSWER:
There are so many drugs out there it is amazing. The funny thing with drugs is that the same drug can be used by one person to help with a life debilitating problem whereas another person can take the same drug for aesthetic results. Take viagra (which I talked about in a previous post). Men take it to help with sexual performance and women take it to improve blood pressure. Same thing with supplements. Glutamine can help those with RLS (restless leg syndrome) and athletes swear by glutamine to enhance muscle gain and recovery. The question I posted is a perfect example of a drug known to most people as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancy but in this case, it is being used to clear up acne.
The problem with drugs is that there are side effects. While the drug is working to minimize symptoms for a certain aliment, you dread the list of side effects that seems never ending. Some side effects are worse than others. For example, weight gain from a birth control isn't as bad as platelet aggregation, increased BP&HR and tremors from Nicoderm CQ (you may have seen the commercial or at least heard the side effects on the radio).
See, the big problem with people taking hormonal medications is that they are designed to alter your hormones in a very POWERFUL way. It is no surprise that a drug makes a person feel depressed, anxious, tired, hungry or without appetite. A foreign substance is in our body and our hormones are reacting to it.
I'm not going to be the one to say if a person should or shouldn't be on birth control or on any pill for that matter. However, my role as a nutrition "expert" is to suggest natural ways to keep your body healthy to either prevent, minimize or treat serious problems (ex. disease, illness, infections, etc.).

A big problem with a lot of individuals is the idea that you are doomed with your weight loss goals if you do take prescription meds. Even if you don't take meds, I know how frustrating it is to feel like you are doing everything right with diet and exercise but you still continue to hold onto those stubborn 10-15 extra lbs.
Here are some of my suggestions to knock off those extra lbs..even if you think you are doing everything right.

I think the best thing you can do for your body is to feed it healthy foods packed with great nutrients. If you are doing that on most days of the week...that is a perfect start to losing weight! However, even eating healthy foods can cause a person to not lose weight. Just because a food is low fat, sugar free or low in calories, you can't eat more of it and justify that at least you aren't eating the foods that are higher in calories. Healthy eating is all about balance. It is better to eat a little of everything that a lot of one thing.

When it comes to meals and snacks I recommend eating protein with ALL meals and snacks. Secondly, eat a small snack (around 50-80 calories) of protein or fiber about 15-30 min before a meal such as nuts, cheese, milk, yogurt, apple/pear slices, string cheese, cottage cheese, carrots, etc. Not only you will prevent a sudden rise in blood sugar at the meal, but you will also prevent overeating and perhaps, second helpings. You never want to go into a meal starving, especially if you are an athlete trying to teach your body to efficiently use and store potential fuel for a workout or race.

When it comes to teaching your body it use fat your fuel, understand that it won't be the end of the world if you go to bed a little hungry. I'll never forget the first time I told Karel to workout on an empty stomach when we first starting dating. He specifically told me "I will die if I don't eat before a workout!" Oh-Karel :)
Furthermore, it is recommended to workout for an hour or less on an empty stomach (if you workout first thing in the morning) at least 3-4 times a week or, eat small protein/carb snack (100-200 calories) before afternoon workouts. Also, when it comes to losing those last 10-15 lbs you want to make sure that your metabolism is burning during the day. It is important that you eat 3 x 400-500 calorie meals and 3-5 x 100-200 calorie snacks + 100-200 extra calories/day for every hour of training. Use those extra training calories as pre and post training snacks, rather than adding those calories to your meals and feeling too full to snack during the day.

Unfortunatly, I find that the time that people don't eat (due to weight loss goals), is immediatly after a workout (protein drink or small snack, depending on the workout) or before a 75-90 or more min workout (around 125-250 calories, depending on the length of a workout). Here's what happens to most people who try to lose weight the unhealthy way...perhaps you didn't want to add calories to your day so you tried to run in the afternoon without a small pre trianing snack. You had no energy during the workout but made yourself run (or partake in a spin class) anyways. Then, later in the evening (after dinner) you have a one-on-one conversation with yourself that it is ok to eat that ice cream in the fridge because you finished the run (or workout) that you did a few hours ago. Then, you end up overindulging on a snack because you plan to workout hard the next day and then the horrible cycle continues day after day.
Your goal as an athlete (or exercise enthusiast) is to have energy in the body and to use that energy to push your body out of the comfort zone. If you just "try" to get through a workout on an empty stomach or tell yourself that you will lose weight quicker if you don't eat after a workout, you will only end up overeating later in the day or feeling the effects of poor recovery.
Part of losing weight is pushing your body during workouts. You can only cut out so many calories at meals and snacks before your diet gets extremely boring and unhealthy. I agree with low calorie diets but less than 1500 calories a day will not support any daily exercise routine. And, part of being at a healthy weight is having muscles, a brain and a strong heart that are trained with daily exercise. There is no point having a lean body and not being able to do anything with it.
Adding intervals or weights to a training plan makes your body work a little harder and because the workouts are designed to be less than an hour, you have plenty of opportunities to recover and work hard in a short amount of time. Intervals are one mega calorie burning workout!
You never want your body to get use to the same training routine. However, having said that, your body needs time to train. Your body will not magically let you run for 90 minutes at an 8min/mile per hour pace if you haven't trained it to do so. If you haven't lifted weights in a few weeks, don't lift like a maniac on a monday morning and expect to have a quality week of workouts. Good luck walking on Tuesday for that matter.
KEY POINT: if a workout is designed to be more than an hour, be sure that you pace yourself. If your workout is less than an hour, bump up the intensity. Sure there are recovery and tempo days and some days when something is better than nothing but if you are determined to drop those last few lbs, give your body some fuel and make that body work!

Hope this helps!

3/29/09

Protein for the vegetarian (or any athlete)

How does a vegetarian athlete get healthy protein in the diet in order to properly recover and feel satisfied at a meal? Oh-and choose to not be 100% organic/natural because she has to stay on a tight food budget in order to pay for rent, animal food, travel, races, school, etc....

What's in my kitchen right now which gives me a little to a lot of protein (no particular order)
Nuts
Seeds
Cereal
Oatmeal
Mushrooms (yep-protein in those)
Veggie burgers
Low carb wraps
High fiber bread
Chickpeas
Corn
Sweet potato
Beans
Tofu
Cheese
Cottage Cheese
String cheese
Eggs (1/2 yolk with every 3 eggs I eat...I go through a lot of eggs/day)
Yogurt
Milk
Natural Skippy PB
Whey protein powder (Body Fortress from Wal-Mart)


Here is a great protein-rich dinner for a vegetarian (or any athlete):

Salad:
Add any of the following...
Strawberries
Apples
Grapefruit
Peanuts
Sunflower seeds
Carrots
Onions
Chives
Carrots
Cucumber
Lettuce





Tofu
Italian bread crumbs
Tofu
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Garlic
Onion flakes
1/2 veggie burger





Omelet
3 egg whites
1/2-1 egg yolk
Skim milk (Soy milk doesn't cook well)
Shredded cheese
Tomatoes
Garlic
1/2-1 tbsp. Olive oil