Essential Sports Nutrition


Homemade vegetarian pizza and pizza bites

All the way down to the crust.....get ready to make your own personal pan pizza!
As you know, I just love pizza and I think I have found every way to enjoy pizza that isn't delivered to my door.
I've made pita bread pizza
I've made french bread pizza
I've made dressed-up frozen pizza
I've even made Fruit pizzaa

Well, now I took it one step further. I made my own crust and it turned out amazing. I get excited to make new creations but when they turn out super yummy (sometimes they don't but those recipes don't end up on my blog) I get really excited. I hope you share the same enthusiasm for your home-cooking as I do :) It is one thing to take care of your body through physical activity but when you prepare the food in a special way in order for it to look pretty on your plate, you should take great pride that you are taking that extra step in taking care of your body.
Enjoy my latest creation! This one is sure to re-fuel from your workout and will make you feel great about your healthy lifestyle!

Homemade vegetarian pizza
*quick, easy and yummy...and cost-friendly for your healthy budget!
*this is perfect for parents who want to get the kids in the kitchen. If your kids (or you) have trouble eating veggies, chop the veggies really small before cooking.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp corn meal
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tbsp all purpose flour (used at the end)
1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup warm water (heat water for 3 minutes in microwave)
Seasonings: A dash of Italian, oregano, pepper and basil

1. Combine whole wheat flour, corn meal flax and yeast in a bowl. Add seasonings.
2. Stir in oil and warm water until flour is well mixed (clumpy).
3. Spray your clean counter (or large cutting board) with a squirt of non-stick spray.
4. Kneed dough for 5 minutes. After 3 minutes o kneading dough, add 1 tbsp all purpose flour until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
5. Toss dough back and forth in your hands to form a ball. Cover dough in a bowl (a towel work fine) for 10 minutes.

*use whatever toppings you like and however much. You can never go wrong with leftover veggies or too many veggies for your pizza. I suggest around 1/8-1/4 cup of each topping. These are favorites for Karel and myself.
1-2 cloves Garlic
Green pepper

*Preheat oven to 450-degrees for your pizza
1. While you are waiting for your dough, heat a non-stick pan to medium heat and add 2 tsp. olive oil.
3. Cook toppings until they are soft and golden (stir occasionally). Remove from heat.

Preparing pizza:
*you will need marinara sauce, spinach and shredded cheese

1. Take half of your dough and press in a round baking dish (lightly sprayed with non-stick spray or rub 1/2 tsp olive oil in baking dish). Be sure to press the dough from the center to the outside so that you form a nice, crunchy crust.
2. Spread 2-3 spoonfuls marinara sauce on your pizza dough (sometimes I add a little salsa to my marinara sauce).
3. Top pizza with toppings.
4. Finely chop 4-5 spinach leaves and sprinkle over pizza.
5. Cook pizza for 15 minutes, until crust is stiff and crunchy.
6. Finish pizza with 1/8 cup of your favorite shredded cheese.

15 minutes later....

And what recipe is complete without mini muffins??? How about pizza muffins??
Pizza bites
1. In a mini muffin pan, sprayed with a little non-stick spray, press a small piece of your dough (about a tbsp. size) in the muffin tin. Press down so that the dough covers the edges of each tin and there is space for your toppings in the center of the dough.
2. Spoon a tsp or two of marinara sauce and add a pinch of shredded spinach, chopped mushrooms and cheese.
3. Cook in the same oven as the pizza (450-degrees) for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted and dough is firm enough to remove from each muffin tin.
*You can be super creative with the mini muffins. You could do lean ham and pineapple, feta, pine nuts and spinach, tomatoes and spinach, veggie burger and cheese or just cheese and marinara sauce. *These mini muffins will be perfect for your next party/event..what a yummy, healthy and cute appetizer.

(how cute are those???) :)


Day #6: Planning the composition of you diet

So, now that you understand what you are eating (carbs, protein and/or fat) and are beginning to make healthy swaps to include more nutrient-dense, wuality foods in your diet, it is time to figure out a good range of calories that your body needs on a daily basis.
As a general rule, I recommend that athletes (or anyone exercising on a daily basis) add 100-150 calories to your recommended total calories, per hour of daily exercise. I recommend prioritizing a 3:1 (or 2:1) Carbohydrate to Protein snack immediately after workouts (within 30-45 min) as a way to add in your extra 100-150 calories as opposed to adding those extra calories to meals. If you workout for 2 hours on Monday and consume 2000 calories on a daily basis, I recommend adding in 200-300 calories to your diet through a post-workout Carb:Protein snack and then having a balanced meal (350-500 calories) rather than stuffing down a 800 calorie meal. If you workout for 4 hours on Saturday, I recommend having your extra 400-600 calories through a Whey protein and fruit smoothie and a few healthy afternoon/evening snacks. If you have extra calories to afford by working out a bit longer or harder than normal one day a week, I also encourage you to have a portioned control sweet treat either with your post-workout protein (ex. small cookie with your whey protein smoothie) or have a 100-125 calorie treat with a protein snack (yogurt, milk, etc.) later in the day. Although quality protein is necessary in the diet (vegan, vegetarian or meat eater), in my opinion, I feel strongly that it is most important of how you are consuming your protein (when), how much (at meals and snacks) and what (quality as opposed to unhealthy).

For a 2000 calorie diet:

45-65% of total calories should come from Carbohydrates

(I recommend a diet of 55-60% carbohydrates for athletes or athletic individuals)
2000 calories/d x .6 (60% total calories carb) = 1200 calories from carbs.
1200 calories/4 (calories per gram) = 300 grams from carbohydrates

10-35% of total calories should come from Protein
(I recommend a diet of 20-25% protein for athletes or you can choose to use 1g/kg/d for newbie athletes and 1-1.2g/kg/d for active individuals)
2000 calories/d x .2 (20% total calories from protein) = 400 calories from protein.
400 calories/4 (calories per gram) = 100 grams from protein
*Once again, I stress that is it more important to time your protein with your nutrition and to prioritize the best protein sources possible.

20-35% of total calories should come from Fat

(I recommend 20-25% from fat for athletes)
2000 calories/d x .2 (20% total calories from fat) = 400 calories from fat.
400/9 (calories per gram) = 44 grams from fat

Here's a helpful calculator

These are just examples. I recommend that you find what works for you. So long as you prioritize healthy fats, high fiber/complex carbs and lean and/or low fat protein, you can be extremely flexible with how you would like to design your diet. Some people may need the higher range of fats whereas some people may need the higher range of protein. Although simple sugars are recommended post-workout (to be combined with your protein), remember that there are many fruits and vegetables that are high in the glycemic index and should be consumed over apple danishes, milkshakes and syrupy and buttery pancakes. Above all, never forget the importance of fruits and veggies. While you may need to learn to love them, they will really help your weight loss/maintenance journey. There is nothing like feeling satisfied and full at meals and snacks, feeling good about what you are eating and knowing that you are giving your body excellent nutrients.
Hopefully this blog will be helpful as you plan out your nutrition. Most importantly, your workout schedule should always be taken into account when planning your daily nutrition intake, in order to help you maintain weight or reach your weight loss goals.

I put together a vegetarian vegetable loaf that is filled with healthy macronutrients. You've got lots of healthy carbs, some healthy protein and a little fat for a healthy and satisfying meal. You can really play around with the recipe so that you are adding in your favorite veggies (and your not-so-favorite'll never know they are in there). You can also play around with the spices (no salt/sodium are recommended) and use any type of rice/grain that you enjoy. Lastly, you can add a meat or vegetarian meat for extra protein.
Enjoy my latest creation!
*It was yummy good!

Vegetarian Vegetable Loaf
1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables (frozen green beans, corn and peas)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/8 cup chopped jalepenos
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. horseradish
1 tbsp. flax seeds
A pinch of cayenne, chili flakes, pepper and paprika
1/2 can chili tomatoes (rinsed and drained)
1/2 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
Shredded cheese + block cheese
Bread crumbs (Italian)
1 cup instant oats
1 egg
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cooked couscous (cook according to package or container - I buy plain couscous)

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
2. Prepare couscous and set aside (don't forget to fluff with fork).
3. Add everything in a bowl, except for couscous.
4. Mix ingredients until everything is well combined.
5. In a non-stick baking loaf pan, sprayed lightly with non-stick spray, press 1/2 veggie mixture in pan.
6. Sprinkle with about 1 spoonful bread crumbs.
7. Top with couscous and press down.
8. Sprinkle with chili flakes and a little shredded cheese.
9. Spoon the rest of the veggie mixture on couscous and press down.
10. Top with 1 spoonful bread crumbs and a few slices of thinly sliced block cheese (you can use your favorite cheese or use a little shredded cheese).
11. Bake for 50 min - 1 hour.


Day #5: Understanding Macronutrients

Your diet is probably comprised of macronutrients. Carbohydrates, protein and fat all contain calories and provide energy. Now, within those macronutrients, you will find micronutrients which are known vitamins and minerals. Macronutrients are needed in large quantities whereas micronutrients are needed in small quantities. Macronutrients will give you energy whereas micronutrients will aid in energy-yielding reactions. If you choose a wide selection of healthy macronutrients, it is likely that you will receive a variety of micronutrients....which is a great thing for the health of your body.

Before you determine the percentage of each of the 3 macronutrients that will support your lifestyle, it is important to understand what each macronutrient provides to your body.

Carbohydrates provides 4 calories per gram.
Protein provides 4 calories per gram.
Fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Alcohol (although not a macronutrient) provides 7 calories per gram.

According to the USDA, here are the general guidelines (Also known as the Dietary Reference Intake) for the 3 macronutrients:
45-65% of total calories should come from Carbohydrates
10-35% of total calories should come from Protein
20-35% of total calories should come from Fat


Yes-bread is filled with carbs and perhaps too many carbs may make you feel fat (carbs contain water which is why many people lose a lot of immediate weight on the scale when starting a weight loss program or reducing total calories), but carbohydrates are the foundation of fuel production. Your body's main source of fuel are carbohydrates and are easily used for fuel/energy. Digested carbohydrates not used immediately for energy (glucose) become glycogen when stored in the muscles and liver for a potential use of energy. Glucose is used by all tissues and cells (even your brain) for energy. Carbs are used for the all parts of the body, especially for the muscles, heart and brain during physical activity.
Where can you find Carbs?
Starchy foods (potatoes), whole grains, oats, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, beans, pasta, pizza, raisins, crackers, chips, fast foods, sweets, cereal and rice.

It is recommended to choose complex carbs (whole grains) over simple carbs (fruit juices, syrups, jams, sugary products, etc. in an effort to promote filling at meals and reduce the risk for fluctuating blood sugar levels between meals. If you choose to have a simple sugar carbohydrate, choose to indulge (on occasion) after an hour or more workout (recommended 90 min. or more) when your body can afford the sugars (and extra calories). It is recommended to combine carbohydrates with protein, especially after workouts.

Is Fiber a carb?
Yes and no. Fiber is a type of cabrohydrate but your body can not digest them. Therefore, fibrous foods pass through the intestinal tract (intact) and excrete waste from the body. High fiber diets (25-35 g/day) help lower cholesterol, reduce constipation and hemorrhoids and decrease the risk for colon cancer. Low fiber diets may increase the risk for heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol. Because fiber digests slowly, carbohydrate foods, rich in fiber, are encouraged with meals and snacks to promote fullness when eating and to slow down digestion between meals and snacks.
Foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, beans, oats and whole grains.


Protein is a must in the diet of athletes. It often seems as though athletes prioritize carbohydrates over protein when re-fueling after workouts. While carbohydrates are needed in the diet, quality protein is necessary for tissue repair, muscular growth, to assist in glycogen resynthesis (when combined with carbs) and preserving lean muscle mass. When consuming protein with meals and snacks, protein-rich foods (specifically lean and/or low fat protein fosters growth in individuals of all ages), helps in immune system functioning and assists with hormones, enzymes and metabolic processes.
The building blocks of protein are amino acids. Essential amino acids are needed from foods that we eat whereas nonessential amino acids are produced in our body. Although many essential amino acids are found in animal sources, whey protein, eggs and milk are ranked high in terms of the biological value of protein. Therefore, it is likely that even a lacto-ovo vegetarian can receive all of the essential amino acids in the diet, increase lean muscle mass and build muscle strength without eating long as he or she consumes quality protein. Therefore, regardless if you are a vegetarian or meat-eater, it is important that you focus on lean or low fat protein food sources with meals and snacks and especially post-workout in order to obtain essential amino acids (which include the 3 BCAA's-Branch Chain Amino Acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine).
Foods rich in protein:
Fish, 3 oz, 21 grams
Chicken, 3 oz, 21 grams
Turkey, 3 oz, 21 grams
Meat, 3 oz, 21 grams
Milk, 8 oz, 8 grams
Tofu, 3 oz, 15 grams
Yogurt, 8 oz, 8 grams
Cheese, 3 oz, 21 grams
Peanut butter, 2 tbsp, 8 grams
Eggs, 2 large, 13 grams
(Although protein bars provide a convenient way of meeting protein recommendations and may look like a substantial source of protein, I recommend protein sources that are as natural as possible - few or no ingredients- especially after training and with meals. When looking for a quality whey protein to be added to milk or in a smoothie, I suggest Body Fortress from Wal-mart or Target or online. Always be sure the first ingredient in whey protein concentrate or isolate and contains at least 18g protein and around 80-130 calories per scoop/serving).
Other sources of protein include nuts and legumes and many starchy foods and vegetables. 3 1/2 ounces of Broccoli or Asparagus contains around 3g of protein.


Fats are needed in the diet. I suggest passing on the decadent deserts, fatty meats, cheesy entrees and greasy appetizers and opting for healthy fats.
If you are a female, the regularity of your menstrual cycle may be a good predictor if you are obtaining a healthy amount of fats in the diet (my good friend Cass can tell you all about that topic if you have any questions
Fats are necessary for normal growth and development and to help absorb vitamins. Fats provide cushioning for organs and help maintain cell membranes. Although fats are a concentrated source of energy (9 calories per gram compared to 4 in protein and carbs), fats will give food taste and will help with filling at meals. Adding a little bit of healthy fat (specifically when it is found in lean or low fat protein) to your pre-training snack (ex. Peanut butter, nuts, egg, piece of cheese, low fat yogurt, etc.) will help athletes who seem to have plenty of energy during workouts but feel extremely hungry towards the end of the workout or immediately after.
Foods high in fat include meat, poultry, fish, egg yolks, dairy products, butters, margarines, oils, grains and dressings. Flax and natural PB are also healthy sources of fats.
Remember-saturated fats should be limited in the diet (less than 10g/day), as well as trans fats. Baked foods, processed foods and well, most of the foods that you likely crave, are termed "unhealthy" fats and do not support a heart-healthy diet. Unsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oils, nuts, avocados, peanut butter) are healthy fats and help decrease risk for heart disease.

Stayed tuned for my blog on Fri, where you will learn how to plan out how much of each of the macronutrients you will eat on a daily basis.
Let me know if you have any questions on today's post. :) I hope it makes sense and you can start understanding your food choices a bit better (and easier).
Starting today, look at your diet and write down the foods that you eat that are rich in carbs, protein and fat. Then ask yourself how many fruits and veggies you are eating to meet your fiber recommendations.
Evaluate your food choices. If you can swap some of your higher calorie/higher fat/higher sugar foods for whole grain carbs (complex), lean and/or low fat protein and healthy fats, start thinking of some small ways that you can improve your daily diet without feeling hungry or unsatisfied at meals and snacks.


Day #4: Understanding nutrition

Where do I begin?
I will keep this as simple as possible. While it may be easy to count up your total calories, the variety of foods in the grocery may leave you confused and overwhelmed. So many "healthy" foods...or are they? Low-fat, fat-free, low-sodium, no sugar added...the list goes on. Then there is the issue of serving sizes.
What food is a deck of cards? Is it a tennis ball or a golf ball for a serving of fruit? What finger do I use to measure an ounce of cheese?
Why don't fruits and veggies have food labels on them? What's the difference between the USDA organic symbol and a product that says organic? What is natural product? What is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain? Why are 5 of the first 7 ingredients in Campbell's cream of mushroom soup from oil?
Water, Mushrooms, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Modified Food Starch, Wheat Flour, Cream- Milk - Less than 2%, Salt- Less than 2%, Dried Whey- Milk - Less than 2%, Monosodium Glutamate- Less than 2%, Soy Protein Concentrate- Less than 2%, Yeast Extract- Less than 2%, Spice Extract- Less than 2%, Dehydrated Garlic- Less than 2%
And lastly, with all of the recommendations out there, what do all of those numbers on a food label actually mean to you as an active and fit individual?

Nutrition jargon

1) Organic - look for USDA’s “organic” symbol which is a symbol that indicates that the food was raised using organic farming procedures.

However, the product is 95% with the USDA organic symbol, unless it reads 100% organic. If a product is less than 95% organic, it will not contain the USDA organic symbol. According to the USDA and Mayo Clinic, a food with an organic label does not claim that the food is safer or more nutritious for you than non-organic foods.
understanding organic

2) Natural - the product was made without artificial ingredients or colorings and with minimal processing.

3) Fat and cholesterol:
*Fat Free - Less than 0.5g of fat per serving
*Low Fat: 3g or less per serving or 3g per 100g for a meal or main dish and 30% of total calories (or less)
*Reduced Fat - 25% less fat than a comparable food
*Low Saturated Fat - 1g or less and 15% or less of calories from saturated fat
*Trans Fat Free - Less than 0.5g of trans fats per serving
*Light/Lite - 50% less fat or one-third fewer calories than the regular product
*Lean - Less than 10g of fat, 4.5g of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per 100g of meat, poultry or seafood
*Extra Lean- Less than 5g of fat, 2g of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per serving and per 100g of meat, poultry or seafood
*Low Cholesterol - 20mg or less per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving
*Cholesterol Free - Less than 2mg per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving
*Less Cholesterol - 25% or less than the food it is being compared to, and 2g or less saturated fat per serving

4) Sodium:
*Salt free - Less than 5 mg sodium per serving.
*Sodium free - Less than 5 mg sodium per serving.
*No Salt added - No salt added during processing (does not necessarily mean sodium free)
*Very Low Sodium - 35 mg or less sodium per serving.
*Low Sodium - 140 mg or less per serving.
*Light in Sodium or lightly salted - 50% less sodium compared with a standard serving size of the traditional food. Restricted to foods with more than 40 calories per serving or more than 3 grams of fat per serving.
*Less Sodium or Reduced Sodium - at least 25% less sodium compared with a standard serving size of the traditional food.
5) Calories:
*Calorie Free, Zero Calories, No Calories, Without Calories, Trivial Source of Calories, Negligible Source of Calories- fewer than 5 calories per serving.
*Low in Calories, Few Calories, Contains a Small Amount of Calories, Low Source of Calories - less than 40 calories per serving.
*Reduced Calories, Fewer Calories - 25% fewer calories than the original product (original product may not be "low calorie")
*Light, Lite - meets definition for "Low Calorie" or "Low Fat".

6) Sugar:
*Sugar Free, Zero Sugar, No Sugar, Without Sugar, Trivial Source of Sugar, Negligible Source of Sugar - less than 0.5g of sugar per serving.
*Reduced Sugar, Less Sugar - at least 25% less sugar than the original item.
*No Sugar Added, Without Added Sugar - no sugar or ingredients containing sugar were added during processing. Must state if food is not "Low Calorie" or "Reduced Calorie".

Serving sizes:
Here's a guide from

Here's a helpful online guide, from
Serving sizes

A slide show for portion control, from Mayo Clinic
portion control

And one to print out for your family, from Utah Metabolic Clinic
portions and serving sizes

Food labels:

Here's a great explanation (although it may be confusing the first few times that you read it) of how to understand a food label.

understanding a food label

In my opinion, here are 10 things to look at on your food label:
1) Check the serving size.
2) How many servings are in the food item?
3) How many calories are in each serving?
4) After checking the fat, ask yourself if you are eating a food that is high in healthy fats (unsaturated-mono, poly) or unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fat).
5) What percentage of the food is fat? (this is most important if you are eating an unhealthy fat since you do need to prioritize healthy fats in the diet)
6) Check the sodium and cholesterol? Both sodium and cholesterol are needed in the diet but not in excess.
7) How much fiber is in the product? How much sugar is in the product?
8) Is the product a good source of protein (is this a low fat protein food or a high fat protein food?)
9) What is the first ingredient? What are the first 3 ingredients? How many ingredients are natural? If there are more than 5 ingredients, will these ingredients that will benefit your health?
10) Is there a healthier option to this food? If you choose to eat this food, will it satisfy you after 1 serving?

Do you understand nutrition now? Hope this was a good start for you and you feel more confident as you embark on your fitness, health and/or weight loss journey.


Day #3: Goal setting

Already, you can tell that my whole mission for the month of January is to open your eyes to reality that is health and fitness. You are not eating "healthy" just to lose weight. There is so much more to choosing an apple over a doughnut than just for the reason that doughnuts are fattening, bad for you and they will cause your butt to turn to fat (likely those are your words and not mine).
If you asked a healthy individual, who has maintained his/her healthy weight for the past 6 months, if he/she would instantly gain weight eating a doughnut, it is likely that he/she would say "of course not". Now, that person may feel that the doughnut is a trigger for other unhealthy choices but it is likely that the reality of eating 1 doughnut will not make your jeans suddenly "tight". People don't just maintain (or lose weight) by one day cutting back on calories and exercising a lot. People who live a healthy and active lifestyle look and feel a certain way because of the choices they make on a daily basis. I always like hearing from people "Marni, you are so you ever just give in to junk food?"
If you are eating an apple and piece of cheese, 5 days a week, and you understand how to control your portions and calories through the rest of your weekly meals and snacks, than one doughnut will do nothing to your body. I have to be honest. Many health-conscious individuals (myself included), who truely see the value of food, in which it provides nutrients and fuel as opposed to a source of providing calories, fat and carbs which cause weight gain, are not afraid of food. When I say I don't eat doughnuts that is because I don't like the taste of them, nor what they provide (or do) to my body when I eat them. However, I will eat an occasional cookie, piece of chocolate candy or serving of chips because I do like the taste of those foods. Sure, they may be no healthier than the doughnut but if I choose to indulge, I will likely choose homemade cookies over a doughnut because I know I can stop eating after a small serving of cookies.
My lifestyle of being active started at a very young age. My brother and I had a Sega and that was only used when we traveled (my dad was way ahead of the times and we would travel with a small TV , VCR and Sega in the 80's and 90's for gymnastic and swim meets). We were so busy playing outside, going to practice (swim for me, gymnastics for my brother) and of course, finding time for my piano lessons and homework. Although I had a diet of cheese with everything and I could easily eat a box of cinnamon toast crunch or cheeze its in a day, we spent little time in front of the TV.
My mission to live a healthier and balanced life, through healthy eating AND exercise, is a work in progress. I have been a vegetarian since they age of somewhere around 11 or 12 but the "healthy" vegetarian didn't start until I was around 20 or 21 (I was always a picky eater and probably still need to learn to appreciate more cauliflower, beets and radishes). The "healthy" vegetarian, who trains and races in IM distance triathlons, didn't come together until about 3 years ago. As I continue with my education, I constantly find myself experimenting with new foods and training exercises/workout as nutrition or exercise-related research unfolds. So, along this journey that I call life (alongside being a life-long student and passionate athlete), I always find myself setting goals. I guess you could say that I am working towards one big long term goal of helping others with nutrition and exercise through my education, blog and writings. Although many of my goals are health and fitness related, I also have many short and long term goals involving my life with Karel...specifically, getting us a house one day soon. Campy could really use a big yard :)
I have spent a lot of time and money in my education in order to help others. You, my blog reader, are self-educated and rely on people like myself (and many other fabulous educated professionals out there) to provide you with the best tools and education to become healthy, fit and active. Therefore, tomorrow many not be the day that you suddenly know how to eat vegetarian and train for an IM. One week from today, you may still be wondering how you can stick to a workout routine and possibly train for (and actually run) a 5K race. While there may be a need to consult a trained professional to help you reach your short and long term goals (health, fitness, money, life-related), sometimes the first step is actually deciding how you are going to achieve those short and long term goals.
So, I ask you to read my latest IG article (from the FREE newsletter and BTW 2010 IG registration is open!) and answer the questions in the bottom of the article. Rather than answer them in your head, write them down on paper and post your answers on your bathroom mirror or fridge. Because many people resolve to lose weight or become more fit and active, this article will really come in handy as you work towards your short and long term goals. If you are a competitive triathlete, hoping to qualify for Kona or 70.3 world championships, ask yourself how you will reach your goals? If you are signed up for your first IM, short and long term goals will keep you focused and help prevent and injury or overtraining. If you are just getting into exercise, short term goals will get you to the gym on a daily basis if you tell yourself why it is important that you go to the gym. Rather than saying that you are going to be healthy and live a balanced life this year (my famous words), make your goals more clear and concise. As you write down your goals such as eating more fruits and veggies or replacing high fat foods for healthier fats, I hope that this article reminds you that life is all about balance. While an idea of a goal may seem practical in your head, it isn't until you take the steps to reaching that goal that you may find yourself second-guessing yourself along the way. However, there is absolutely no reason to give up on a goal, especially if it is practical, healthy, balanced and reasonable.

*after your read this blog post, I'd love to hear your short and/or long term goals.

Another Year, Another resolution

-Marni Sumbal, M.S., CISSN, ADA Adult weight management certified

The New Year is finally here - happy 2010! If you haven't already started, you are just in time to start planning for the upcoming year. Statistics show that a majority of people who enjoy the tradition of setting a New Year's resolution will have given up on said resolution by spring and some even by the end of January. It's quite clear that unrealistic resolutions are destined for failure, but without the right type of motivation and strategy, even the most realistic resolutions may leave you stressed, anxious and hopeless.

Year after year, the top resolutions set by Americans appear unchanged. With weight loss as the most notable New Year resolution, common resolutions include the topics of jobs, education, personality, smoking/drinking, family/friends, money, exercise, stress, happiness, adventure and volunteerism. While one person may desire to get more involved in the community or become more "green" at home, others set out to make more money, go back to school, stick to an exercise schedule or avoid fast foods. Regardless if you are the type of person who enjoys making a resolution or you feel that the New Year is a great time to start setting short-term and long-term goals, answer the following questions to ensure that you will have great success in 2010.

My short-term goals (6 months):
My long-term goals (12+ months):

Based on each of your short-term and long-term goals:
1) Evaluate your readiness for change
-Are you ready to change?
-Are you ready to commit to this new change?
-Are you confident in your ability to reach your goals?

2) Defining your goal/resolution
-Why are you setting this goal?
-What are the risks/benefits and pros/cons of your goal?
-What will change in your life if you reach your ultimate goal?
-What will change in your life as you attempt to reach this goal?
-Is this a short-term or long-term goal?
-Is this a realistic and specific goal?
-What is the importance of this goal?
-Do you have a plan of action in achieving this goal?

3) Motivating yourself
-Do you have a strong support group?
-Do you have the right resources to reach your goal?
-Are there any obstacles in your way to reaching your goals?
-How will you overcome barriers?
-What are your healthy rewards as you progress closer to your ultimate goal?

4) Achieving your goals
-How will you track progress?
-How will you maintain your enthusiasm for your goal if you being to experience failure?
-Are you sticking to a realistic timetable of reaching your goal?
-What will it mean to you if (when) you reach your goal?
-What will be the best tool to maintain your success?

No matter what mentality you have towards the New Year, goal setting can be very empowering. The ability to plan and execute a vision is a powerful process and with the right attitude and course of action, both short-term and long-term goals are within your reach. As you build self-confidence through goal setting, you will learn to create healthy habits of achieving even your most difficult meaningful goals and ambitions.


Day #2: Know your numbers

As a parent, you probably insist that your children know by-heart, 3 very important numbers:
Home phone number
Emergency cell phone number

As an adult, it is very important that you know your numbers as well. What are your numbers?
Blood Pressure
Resting heart rate
Blood sugar

The purpose of this change is to get to know your numbers. Since we are starting fresh with a new year, it is time to call the doctor for the recommended yearly visit and start understanding why you are choosing to live a healthy and active lifestyle. While you may be starting a diet in order to fit into your college or pre-pregnancy jeans, it is more important that you are eating healthy and exercising in order to control your cholesterol levels or prevent a rise in BMI.
While not all numbers can be found at home (ex. blood sugar), it is important that on a yearly-basis, you recognize that your body is going to change as you age. The best way to maintain weight is to know your weight. The best way to control your cholesterol is to know your cholesterol. The best way to balance your blood sugar is to know your blood sugar. If you go to the doctor once a year and your doc says that your blood work and lab values came back positive...pat yourself on the back that you are taking great care of your insides as well as your outsides. If you step on the scale and you don't like the number you see, evaluate the steps that you are taking (or have taken) to reach a recommended weight...which is not always your goal weight. Remember, you must ask yourself what changes you must make in order to take your body weight down by 5-10 lbs, if that is all you want to lose to "tone up". If you know you need to lose 50 lbs to move yourself from an overweight BMI to a healthy BMI, be realistic of how long that will take you. If your physician tells you that your resting HR (which should be taken first thing in the morning) is too high, let him/her know that you are starting an exercise program and that you needed his/her permission to start working out with a trainer.

While some of these numbers are old news, I hope you find it refreshing to remind yourself of why you are working out on a daily basis and choosing to reward your body with heart-healthy foods. If these are new numbers, tell yourself that you are starting fresh and nothing long-term happens overnight. While a number can be misleading (ex. BMI or weight on the scale) and may not represent your actual health status, it is always good to have a guideline and something to work towards.

Optimal numbers

Blood pressure:
hypotension 90/60 mm Hg
normal 120/80 mm Hg
pre hypertension 120-139/80-89 mm Hg
Stage 1 hypertension 140-159/90-99 mm Hg
Stage 2 Hypertension 160/100 mm Hg

Most nurses will rush you from the waiting room, into a room, plop you on a chair and take your blood pressure. For a more accurate reading, ask if you can sit upright in a chair, feet flat on the floor and with limbs uncrossed, for 5 minutes. If you are taking blood pressure at home, it is best to do it first thing in the morning. Do not drink coffee, have caffeinated products/drinks or engage in strenuous exercise for at least 30 minutes before taking BP.

You need cholesterol in the diet and in the body. However, too much cholesterol can cause “sticky” arterial walls. Commonly due to high fat foods (although high cholesterol can be genetic), plaque builds up in the arteries, which can narrow or even block blood flow. And you thought exercising at a high HR was hard enough? Diet and exercise can have extreme positive effects on cholesterol.
Total Cholesterol – less than 200
HDL(good cholesterol) – should be more than 40 for men and more than 50 for a women
LDL (bad cholesterol) – should be less than 100

Fasting blood sugar:
It is important to note that your fasting blood sugar levels do not 100% mean that you have diabetes. It is important to know your numbers when it comes to blood sugar, especially if you are at a healthy weight, exercise daily and feel that you suffer from hypo or hyperglycemia. I find that hyper and hypoglycemia are often self-diagnosed by many athletes who feel light-head before, during and after training. However, with a few changes in the diet, spastic blood sugar problems are solved. If you are overweight and feel you may suffer from diabetes, get yourself to a doctor, accept the fact that you will need insulin and move on. There are athletes (successful) and celebrities with diabetes and do not use it as a limiter.
Normal: less than 100 mg/dL (typically 79-99)
Hypoglycemia: less than 70
Hyperglycemia: typically above 180 but symptoms may occur around 270-360
Fasting blood sugar will help determine if you have diabetes or if you have trouble with your blood sugar levels.
Your A1C levels are also tested if you are at-risk or diagnosed for diabetes. Normal is 4.2-4.6%. The higher your A1C level, the more likely you may have diabetes.

Resting HR:
While there are several recommendation tables, it is best to find your resting HR (find pulse on neck or on wrist, count for 60 seconds), 3 consecutive days, first thing in the morning (laying in bed, before you get up) and then average your results. Keep track of your resting HR as you progress through your training/exercise routine. Resting HR is a great FREE tool to tell if you are improving with your training or if you are overtraining (higher than normal resting HR after a few hard days of training may indicate overtraining...not that you are burning calories while sleeping because your HR is pumping overtime). Also, you can use your resting HR as part of the Karvonen HR method to determine an estimate of your training zones.

Body Mass Index:

BMI is a popular method to determine total body fat or to place you at-risk for several diseases. It may overestimate body fat in athletes (ex.muscular build) and may underestimate body fat in older persons (ex. those who have lost muscle mass).
To find:
Body weight (KG)/Height2 (meters) = BMI
Try this site:
To determine BMI

BMI of
40 or higher is extreme obesity
35 - 39.9 is very obese
30-34 is obese
26- 29 is overweight
25-18.5 is normal
Less than 18.5 is underweight

Waist circumference:
Waist circumference is actually the most reliable tool to predict body composition and risk for disease. I'm sure you have heard of apple and pear body shape? Measure your waist with measuring tape, just above the hip, meeting at your belly button.
less than 40 in. for men
less than 35 in. women

There are many more numbers that important to your health but I thought I'd bring up a few that I feel are valuable for you as you move forward to meet your short and long term health goals. Are there other numbers that you feel are important to your health? I'd love to hear them!

Cherry Almond Bread

I love cherries. I'll be honest, Maraschino canned cherries are my "candy" of choice... but I never buy them. I only indulge in them around Thanksgiving when Maraschino cherries are a must on my fruit pizza. I also enjoy fresh cherries. Come to think of it, I probably like fresh cherries a bit better than the canned version because they are much more satisfying and "real" tasting.

Nutrition facts of Maraschino cherries:
10 cherries
83 calories
19.4 g sugar
10.5 mg potassium

Nutrition facts of fresh cherries:
10 cherries
50 calories
10.5 g sugar
182 mg potassium

Here are some fun facts about cherries that I found on the internet:
*Cherries are part of the Rosaceae family. Other fruits in this family include almonds, apricots, plums and peaches.
*Cherries are easily perishable and rarely ripen after harvest. Cherries will remain fresh in the refrigerator for at least 2 days. Always refrigerate fresh cherries right when you purchase them.
*Red cherries contain melatonin, anthocyanins, quercetin and antioxidants.
*Red cherries have been shown to help with inflammation, pain and arthritis.
*Cherries are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and a very good source of fiber and Vitamin C.
*Cherries can be a healthy alternative to the banana for potassium.
*Sweet cherries are recommended for jams while sour cherries are recommended for pies, souffles and recipes which require cooking the cherries.
*Cherries are a rich source of pectin (soluble fiber) which can help lower cholesterol.
*Sour cherries are known to contain a higher level of beta carotene compared to sweet cherries.
*75% of tart cherries produced in the US are from Michigan. Washington grows more sweet cherries than any other state. 70% of US cherries (sweet and tart) come from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah.
*Broadway in NY shifts west at East 10th street because a cherry tree once stood there.
*There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries in the US but less than 10 are commercially produced.
*Utah is the Cherry State.

Well, enough about cherries. How about my healthy version of cherry almond bread. So moist, naturally sweet and filling. I know I am biased but it is REALLY good, especially warm. I hope you enjoy my latest creation!

Cherry Almond Bread
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 tbsp white sugar
1/3 cup skim milk
1 banana
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp smart balance butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp flax seed
1/4 cup chopped sliced almonds
15 fresh cherries (chopped into small pieces)

*preheat oven to 325 degrees.
1. In a large bowl, add eggs and sugar.
2. In a small bowl, add banana, applesauce, honey, Greek yogurt butter, milk and vanilla.
3. In a seperate large bowl, add flours, baking powder, baking soda, oats and flax seed.
4. Starting with your egg bowl, beat eggs and sugar for 5 minutes on high until light and fluffy.
5. Add small bowl ingredients containing banana mixture, to your eggs. Beat in ingredients until well-combined.
6. Stir in your flour mixture bowl ingredients to your banana + egg mixture. Stir until evenly mixed.
7. Fold in cherries and almonds.
8. Pour batter into a 9x5 baking bread pan, sprayed with non-stick spray.
9. Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees.
(you will begin to smell your bread around 35-40 min and you will think it is done. However, wait the full hour before removing your bread from the oven, unless the top of your bread begins to turn from golden brown to dark brown. Remove before an hour if the top of your bread becomes dark on top)

Nutrition facts:
18 servings
Serving size: 1/2 inch slice
Calories: 86
Fat: 2g
Carb: 14g
Protein: 3g
Cholesterol: 12g
Fiber: 1.5g
Sugar: 3.6g
Sodium: 93 mg