Essential Sports Nutrition


Mandarin orange muffins w/ sweet glaze

I am so excited about my mini-muffin pan. I got it at Wal-mart a few weeks ago. As if my normal-sized muffins got me excited with my creations, everything seems more scrumptious when it is bite-sized. I guess these would be termed "healthy" since I didn't go overboard with the sugar and butter. Even with my buttery-sweet topping, I hope you enjoy this healthy treat.
Enjoy my latest creation.
*I have to be honest...I think these are the best muffins I have made to-date. :)

Mandarin Orange Muffins
1 can mandarin oranges
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup oats
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Smart Balance butter
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

*preheat oven to 350-degrees.
1. Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, nutmeg and allspice.
2. Add butter and brown sugar to flour mixture and mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly scramble egg with milk and add to flour mixture.
4. Drain oranges into a bowl while discarding juices.
5. Grab a few oranges and run your knife through them, cutting them into 3rd or 4th's. Add to flour mixture. Continue doing this until all oranges are added to flour mixture. Mix well until oranges are evenly mixed.
6. Spray your mini-muffin (or regular muffin) pan with non-stick spray.
7. Add batter to each muffin tin until 3/4ths full.
8. Cook for 20-25 minutes. You will smell them when they are close to being golden brown.

Glaze topping:
In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp white sugar w/ 1 tbsp smart balance butter. Mix together with a fork.
Take your fork and rub a bit of the sugar/butter mixture on each muffin (do not pour butter mixture on the muffin). A little bit of the butter topping (about 1/8 tsp) is just enough to add a little extra sweetness to this already sweet muffin.

Nutrition breakdown (using Diet Analysis Plus 9.0)
Total Servings: 27
Serving size: 1 muffin + topping
Calories: 44
Fat: 1g
Carbs: 8g
Protein: 1g
Sugar: 3g
Sodium: 23 mg
Cholesterol: 8 mg


Day 1: Get walking

Welcome to the New Year.
In order to get you going slowly, I am going to make this change simple. But I will ask that you think about this change on a daily basis, for the rest of your life. As you know, small changes make a big difference and with this will feel the difference.
Current ACSM recommendations for exercise are that the average adult should get in 150-250 min. of moderate intensity exercise per week (or at least 30 min of exercise, at least 5 days per week) and that an obese individual should aim for 150 min. of moderate intensity exercise per week an average of 200-300 min of exercise per week is needed for weight loss. If you are an athlete, you are doing just that...and more I am sure. But, please read on.
If you are getting into exercise for the first time, getting back into a routine, or just fed up with the way you look because it is "another year", I am not suggesting that you go right into exercise with that "high intensity burns the most calories" approach. So here is change #1.

I am going to ask you to take at least 30-60 minutes out of your day to just walk.

For all of the athletes out there, we have it really easy to get in exercise into our daily schedule. We are among the few (or many in some places) who actually use the word "love" and "exercise" in the same sentence. We raise people's eye brows when we talk about our easy week of training and unconsciously speak as if we are so lazy. Here's how I see it (from a subjective and objective perspective): While at first your intention to train is for performance gains, after a while, you develop a love for your new trained physique or your love for having an excuse to eat whatever and however much you want. This love for training becomes a love for burning calories and you find yourself needing (not necessarily for performance reasons) to get in a workout every day of the week (sometimes twice a day). While I do believe that sticking to a consistent and well balanced training routine will take you to the next level, it is important that you ask yourself if you are exercising for the right reasons.
I find that many athletes get obsessed with working out and the day doesn't seem fulfilled unless there is a workout. Specifically, I am talking about that day off when you know you should rest or actively recover. Because so many athletes have no idea how to eat unless there is at least an hour workout, I find that there becomes an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. While most days of the week you are eating for fuel, there are 1 or 2 days a week where you "have to" get in that workout in order to burn calories or else you feel "fat" all day.
While you may not think of it like that and I understand that not everyone is like this and of course, I would never want you to back down on your training (especially if you are training with a well-designed schedule) I ask you if you can take a day off from eating and not feel guilty about the way that you eat? Can you take a day off from training and still feel like the day has a purpose? It is ok if you said no but I also ask you, would you know how to maintain your weight if for some reason you were injured or had to miss your typical training routine for a few days or weeks? It is likely that you would say no because most people exercise in order to eat.
So, as a competitive athlete, I am asking you to redefine the way you train in order to get one step closer to that balanced life.
If you are the athlete that feels the need to workout 7 days a week (although you claim that 1 day is an easy 3 mile run), I am asking for you to give yourself, give your family, give your body just 1 day a week every now and then (if not on a weekly basis) of walking, for 30-60 min. This means that I don't want anything high intensity, I just want you to walk., You could even do yoga at home (or stretching), gardening, cooking, cleaning, etc. Just something to keep your body moving that is not swim-bike-run. I am all for an active recovery day of swimming or biking and 6 days of specific training but I want to be sure that you understand how to eat for fuel and that you aren't becoming obsessed with your training routine and feeling as if you can't miss a workout because you have absolutely no idea how to eat unless you workout hard. Last time I checked, you are going to burn the same number of calories in 30 minutes of running as you would in 60 min. of walking if you are covering the same 3 miles. Perhaps the run will make you feel more fulfilled but if you ask me, I would much rather workout in the morning, take an hour walk in the evening and make a healthy and portioned controlled dinner than making myself go for a 30 min run. in the evening for a second workout for the day.
As an athlete you would never consider walking as "calorie burning" because well, you likely don't get a good sweat. But, you are burning calories through everything you do when you move your body. Walking is a great way for you to give your body a little rest from the monotony of swim-bike-run. In many cases, athletes are afraid to take that day off from training for the fear that the love relationship they have with the way that training allows them to eat, will cause them to get fat in one day of "no exercise". By just walking, you are going to prevent overtraining, prevent a risk for an injury and most of all, learn to appreciate the value of food rather than just eating because you "worked out". Hopefully, this new found love of physical activity (for me, in the past year it has been walking with Campy in the evenings rather than working out twice a day) will transcend into your weekly routine and you will learn to get more out of your workouts and hopefully become a better athlete because you are able to look at the way you eat much more differently than just "I can eat x-food because I trained".

As for my newbies, those who don't get the way that us "athletes" think, that is ok. We have all been in your shoes and we promise, you will get addicted to exercise and become one of us. Ok-maybe not that far but with a low intensity exercise routine, you are more likely to feel in control with your exercise routine and most of all, keep it up.
If you just get outside (or inside depending on the weather) and walk 30-60 min a day or find 10 times during the day to walk 6 minutes, you will burn calories. In many cases, the mentality of "I'm just going out for a walk" may become too easy and those walks turn into runs. Or, rather than telling yourself that you have to go and run for 30 minutes at high intensity after you get out from work in the evening, you find it much easier to make working out a morning habit by waking up 1 hour earlier in the morning in order to just walk.

There are so many ways to incorporate low intensity exercise into your current routine but in my opinion, walking is the best way. How many times have you woke up in the morning and just said "I'm too tired to exercise!". Even as athletes, we have those days. Now, this isn't about those times when you are on the verge of burn out or just at the edge of being injured. In that case, time to take a day off and re-design your training routine so that you get the most out of your schedule and inforce quality over quantity.
But, athlete or not, maybe you took it too far with your love for training. All of a sudden, every day is a workout day because you have to burn calories and/or you just don't feel good without a workout. Maybe you are just getting into exercise and you can't seem to stick to a workout schedule. By just walking a bit more on a daily basis (up stairs, in the parking lot, to the grocery, to the post office, to work, to the gym) you are likely to burn way more calories than just "taking the day off" because you are "too tired to exercise".

So, for everyone out there, take a look at why you are exercising, how you are designing your workout routine and how/why you are eating to support your exercise routine. Do you have a healthy relationship with exercise? Do you have a healthy relationship with food? If you are an athlete, slow down 1 day a week and give your body a little rest every now and then. You don't have to push at 100% 7 days a week. If you are injured, traveling or busy, it is important that you learn to eat to maintain your weight as you find ways to just stay physically active. You can still burn calories by not "training" 100% of the time.
If you are a new to exercise, think small. Just getting yourself out the door for a few 10 minute walks a day is much better than telling yourself that you are too tired to exercise today but you will workout out for 90 minutes tomorrow.


31 days, 21 changes

According to John Norcross, a Professor of Psychology and Distinguished University Fellow at the University of Scranton, a clinical psychologist in part-time practice, and editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 40-46% of people will be successful with New Year Resolutions after 6 months. Having studied New Year resolutions for the past 2 years, Norcross feels that 71% of people will keep resolutions for 2 weeks but that percentage drops to 64% after a month.
As you can see, there is hope for at least half of the population who is setting a New Year resolution. However, for everyone else, it is likely that you will not make it through the year (let alone a month) with the resolution that you are planning to start, tomorrow.
I have faith in you. I know you will succeed. I know you believe you can succeed. I know your resolution is realistic, practical and doable. I know your resolution is going to make your 2010 better than 2009. I know you will have up and down days, but as long as you don't give up, I know success is on your side.
The whole point of mkaing changes is for you to recognize that there are many ways to live a healthier life. A balanced life involves making small changes that will last a lifetime. Whereas you may feel that not drinking soda is the best New Year resolution for you because you don't need those extra calories, what happens when you go 2 weeks without drinking soda and then you "give-in" for 1 soda? Are you a failure? Do you suddenly go back to your old habits? What happens if that was your only change for the New Year and you find it hard to stick to that one change because once you gave in for 1 soda, you felt as though it just wasn't worth it anymore?
I can see the practicality of only making one change and trying to find ways to make that change last. If you make too many changes, your life can get very overwhelming.
However, the all or nothing approach to your changes may also seem overwhelming.
If you tell yourself that you are going to be a vegetarian or are going to stop eating ice cream until you lose weight, what happens when you go out to eat and you aren't feeling a salad at a steakhouse? What happens after a 3 hour workout and your kids ask if you want to go out for ice cream? Are you rational enough to say that "all is not lost in one meal/day" or do you say "Screw it, my resolution is ruined".

I realize that not everyone is going to make a resolution. As I wrote about in a previous post, you will find more joy in the new year by setting short and long term goals and working towards that goal with a deadline in mind.
In order to help everyone reach both New Year resolutions and Short/Long term goals, I am going to provide my health, nutrition and fitness tips over the next 31 days.
I will post a blog every day of the week, Mon through Friday, for the next 31 days. That is 21 healthy tips, one for each day of the week (Except Sat and Sun). I will post a blog and you will try the tip the following day.
I understand that I have a diverse group of blog followers so my tips will be both practical and useful no matter what background you come from. If you think about, we can always improve on the way that we live our life, especially when it comes to nutrition, health and fitness.
Some of the changes may be new to you. For example, not going into meals starving, drinking water instead of a sport drink for 60 min or less workouts or having a smoothie for quality protein. For some people, my tips may be old and you may have incorporated my tip into your life a long time ago. For example, eating vegetarian, having fruit instead of processed food for a snack or strength training. So, for the day(s) that you read a change that you are already using, I'd love to hear how that change has made a difference in your life. Please leave a comment and let me know if you have anything else to add to the change of the day. If you don't feel like leaving a comment, I ask for you to tell a friend about my change for the day and how you can help your friend implement that change into his/her life for a better 2010.

As far as the changes go, you can choose to implement the changes into your current lifestyle or just feel proud that you went a full day with a new change. And of course, please use your best judgment when making changes. I don't foresee any of my changes being dangerous but in the case of a diet or exercise change, it is always good to consult a doctor before starting anything new, specifically, if you feel in any way that you are an at-risk individual. My changes are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. My only goal with my changes is for you to enjoy a new way (or a new day) of living life.

So, to bring you into the New Year, here is my last New Year resolution tip from the Iron Girl e-blasts. Don't forget that today is the day when you can register for any of the Iron Girl 2010 events. Don't miss out!

Registration is open.

New Year's Tip

from Marni Sumbal, M.S., CISSN, USAT level-1 coach, ADA Adult Weight management certification and Iron Girl Sports Nutritionist

Exercise is good for the mind, body and soul. Although many people associate exercise with weight loss or a specific body composition, there are countless additional benefits of daily exercise. And remember, physical activity is one form of exercise. You don't need a high heart rate and sweaty clothes to receive one (or more) of the many benefits of keeping your body active.

Benefits of Daily Exercise:
1. Improves mood, balance, coordination and self-esteem.
2. Improves productivity, memory and time management skills.
3. Prevention of chronic diseases and life threatening conditions - blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, coronary heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and cancer.
4. Weight loss and weight maintenance.
5. Strengthens the heart, lungs and muscles.
6. Better sleep and more fulfilling sex life.
7. Reduces the need for medications and prescription drugs.
8. Improved immune system (less sick days).
9. More energy and improved mental health.
10. Better quality of life.
11. Improved insurance ratings for individuals and companies.


Fun times

I've been keeping myself really busy lately. But in the midst of business, I am enjoying all of the little things in life.
First off, Campy is just a hoot. Campy and Madison like to play together, chasing each other around our place. But the funniest thing was when Madison was playing with a toy and Campy took it from her. This was before the taking of the toy.
Sorry for the darkness of the video.

Also-the other night was the first ever Master swim team x-mas party. So much fun with my friends and even got to know the other swimmers a bit better.
Here are some pics of great friends, aka my training partners.

And of course, a few pics of Campy attempting to destroy his new Duck from Laura.

And lastly, another pic of Campy and Madison. These two are inseparable.


Making changes

It's far too easy to tell yourself what not to eat when making changes in your diet. As you begin to make changes in your diet, it is well-known that cutting back on portions will encourage a caloric deficit, thus promoting weight loss. However, with that loss in calories (often, for some people, exceeding a 1000+ caloric deficit per day) comes hunger, irritability, mood swings, frequent drops in blood sugar and a loss in energy. While these characteristic symptoms of "dieting" may not be inviting as your jump start the New Year, it almost seems as if a prerequisite to weight loss is the constant feeling of hunger.
I can see it now in an ad "if you are feeling hungry, you are doing something right in your weight loss journey!"

Of course they would never say that in an ad but if you actually tried some of the "diets" out there, or tried to maintain a strenuous training routine on meal replacement bars for breakfast and a 200 calorie cookie for lunch and a "reasonable-sized" dinner, it is inevitable that you are going to feel hungry and lose weight when you are eating only 800-1000 calories a day. If you are ok with feeling hungry and ok with weight loss, I think you will draw the line and NOT be ok with an increase risk of injury with your workouts, performance losses and ultimately de-motivation to train for the sport that you love.

Well, I have news for you. I don't believe that any person wanting to lose or maintain weight should live in a life of hunger. Perhaps you may need to get use to feeling satisfied with less food but the feeling of starvation is not on the menu with your new healthy eating habits.
In my opinion, it's all about the foods you eat, not just about the calories. While most dietitians will tell you that a calorie is a calorie, when it comes to weight loss, I believe that that people still need to understand how to eat for fuel rather than just eating to not exceed x-calories on a daily basis. In my opinion, if you can feel satisfied with healthy foods, which are lower in calories than your old eating habits and you prioritize the right foods before and after training, then you will get much more out of your eating and exercise routine. Because I deal with athletes on a daily basis, I take food and exercise much more seriously than just cutting back on calories and exercising more often. Now I am not saying that all dietitians feel this way, but for athletes and exercise enthusiasts, it is important that your diet supports your training routine, in order to promote some type of fitness or performance gains.

Here's how I see it...if you can feel satisfied with your dinner and eat a small evening snack you will hopefully wake up more energized and ready to exercise for an hour on an empty stomach rather than waking up super starving and trying to get through a workout on an empty stomach..or feeling totally bloated when you wake up and putting off the workout all together. Or, if you eat a satisfying snack in the afternoon (rather than trying to cut out your calories between lunch and dinner or only eating a handful of grapes), you are better able to control your dinner portion, you don't feel the need to have a giant evening snack and the next morning, you don't feel sluggish and you are able to feel good with a small pre-training snack to get you through a high intensity workout. These are just examples but hopefully you get the point.
If you can find ways to feel satisfied with your meals and snacks you will ultimately eat less at following meals and snacks thus decreasing your total calories for the day. Following your caloric deficit you won't find a decrease in energy because you will support your training routine through healthy and balanced food choices.

Let's see if we can make some changes to your current diet to help you get more out of your training and get more control from the way that you eat. Remember, we are making changes not just eliminating foods. Be slow with your changes so that you can learn what works and doesn't work for your lifestyle and exercise routine. Some changes may need to be modified to meet your caloric needs but hopefully you will learn to recognize what your body needs rather than what you think your body needs. And lastly, give it time. If you have one bad workout or feel hungry one day because you are trying a change for the first time..don't give up! Journal your food choices/quantities as well as your comments in order to find exactly what works for you.

45-60 minutes before a 60-90 minute workout or as a light snack:

Instead of a sports bar at 230-250 calories
1-2 Wasa crackers w/ 1/2 tbsp natural PB at 25 calories for each cracker and 50 calories for the Peanut Butter
Total: 100 calories

Comforting and sweet snack after a light dinner or healthy afternoon snack when craving sweets:
Instead of 1 bowl cereal (a realistic 2 cups cereal and 1 cup skim milk) at around 225-300 calories for the cereal and 80-90 calories for the milk)
Total: 315-390 calories

1 package low sugar brown sugar oatmeal + 10 fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries and 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips (all microwaved together w/ water) at 110-130 calories for the oatmeal + 10-12 calories for the berries + 17 calories for the chocolate chips. Total = 137 calories

For lunch on the go
Instead of a PB&J sandwich with 2 slices whole grain bread, 2 tbsp PB, 2 tbsp jam at 120 calories per slice of bread, 190-210 calories for the PB and 50-60 calories per tbsp of jelly. Total: 530 calories

or instead of
Cliff Bar w/ Tall skinny starbucks latte at 240 calories for the cliff bar and 120 calories for the latte. Total = 360 calories

1 Flat out wrap w/ 1 tbsp PB, 3 ounces low fat strawberry yogurt, 1/2 medium banana sliced, 1/4 cup chopped apple, 15 raisins and 1 tbsp walnuts (chopped), 2 tbsp low fat granola and 1 tsp of cinnamon - all rolled up. W/ 1 cup light vanilla or chocolate soy milk
All at 90-100 calories for the wrap, 90-100 calories for the PB, 30-45 calories for the yogurt, 30-45 calories for the banana, 15-25 calories for the apple, 23 calories for the raisins, 45-50 calories for the walnuts, 45-50 calories for the granola and 6 calories for the cinnamon. Total = 384 calories.
Light soy milk at 1 cup = 80 calories


Non-typical resolutions

Now that the holidays are behind you, you can start finishing up those yummy chocolates, cakes, brownies, pies, cookies and candies. It is likely that you enjoyed your fair share of high calorie and high fat foods over the past month and a half and you are ready to get back to your normal routine of healthy eating and consistent exercise. Perhaps you don't have a consistent routine of exercise and you have struggled with your eating for the past year. Regardless of which person you are, it is likely that you are ready to throw out every "bad" food in the house, exercise like a mad-man/women in order to burn a mega amount of calories in the first week of your new lifestyle and vow to yourself that you will change every eating habit in order to get off the extra lbs that you gained during the past month or two.
If you gained a few lbs over the months of November and December, it is probable that getting back to your old healthy habits will quickly get you back to your healthy weight. However, if you gained a few winter lbs to your already overweight body you do not have to stick to a strict exercise and eating routine in order to lose weight in the next 3 weeks.
As you read in my last few resolution posts, you certainly understand that your weight loss and/or exercise journey is going to be slow. If you are planning to run a marathon, you are going to build in those miles. If you are planning to do your first IM, you are going to plan out all those long bikes and runs so you don't risk injury, risk overtraining and teach your body to metabolize fat as an efficient source of fuel. If you are planning on qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships, you are going to work on your weakness's as you build a solid base in the next few months.
If you are hoping to lose 30 lbs this year, you are going to aim for a 6-10% weight loss in the next 6 months, not exceeding 1-2 lbs per week. If you make small changes, those changes will stick.
If you are wanting to increase your lean muscle mass, you are going to get into the gym and stick to a solid weight lifting and cardio routine. You aren't going to rely on "metabolism booster" drugs or any drug for that matter. You are going to make your body do the work and you will reap every benefit from your consistent routine.
If you are planning on just getting to the gym a few times per week, then you are going to set realistic expectations. The night before you plan on going to gym, don't tell yourself that you are going to do a 1-hour workout on the treadmill if you haven't done a 1-hour workout in the past few weeks (or months). Aim for 20 minutes on the treadmill, at a slow pace or easy incline, and 10 minutes of strength training exercises (be sure to get a trained personal trainer to guide you through the proper way to lift weights or use machines).
So, now that you have a better understanding of realistic ways to incorporate exercise and healthy eating habits into your lifestyle, what's next?
While it may seem that your life revolves around the way you look, it is important that your life revolves around the way your feel. I guarantee that healthy eating and daily exercise will make you feel better in the inside, but there are many other ways to enjoy life.

In my latest New Year Resolution tip from the Iron Girl e-blast, I included some non-typical resolutions that are just as important to your new lifestyle as the way you look in the mirror.
BTW-don't forget that the Iron Girl 2010 Race series registration opens on December 31st!!

New Year's Tip

from Marni Sumbal, M.S., CISSN, USAT level-1 coach, ADA Adult Weight management certification and Iron Girl Sports Nutritionist

Typical New Year's resolutions involve dieting, cleaning out the fridge and pantry, getting a gym membership, hiring a personal trainer or all of the above. Although many people set out to reach realistic (and unrealistic) weight loss and fitness goals in the first few weeks of January, it is likewise important to focus on other aspects of your life which can bring you happiness, higher self-esteem, increased productivity and a quality-filled life.
How about some non-diet and physical activity New Year's resolutions?

1. Keep a to-do list and cross off your items with a pen in your favorite color
2. Say something positive about the day when you wake up and before you go to bed
3. On a daily basis, tell your friends and family (and pets) how much you love and appreciate them
4. Go to bed around the same time every night and get enough sleep to wake up rested
5. Accept constructive criticism and don't be so hard on yourself
6. Learn something new, try new healthy foods and ask more questions
7. Volunteer
8. Get more sunshine
9. Don't argue about pointless topics. Pick your battles and always be nice when speaking from the heart
10. Appreciate the little things in life