Essential Sports Nutrition


Let the waiting begin

At approximately 1pm on Friday Feb. 5th, 2010, I sent out my two application packets for the Tampa VA and Bay Pines VA. My smile could not have been bigger and that elephant on my back (for a consecutive 5 weeks) finally jumped off.
Each packet included:
1) Application Letter
2) ADA form
3) References (3)
4) Transcripts
5) Declaration of intent

That's one stuffed packet...but super creative and pretty :)

Although I sent out 2 application packets (2 weeks before the deadline...wahoo) I was fortunate that neither dietetic internship required an application fee. The only fee I paid was to the distance dietetic matching program (online) which costs $50 for each matching round (Sept and April). Therefore, most of my money went to my transcripts....6 of them x 2!
In addition to receiving 2 degrees (Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science w/ a minor of psychology and Master of Science in Exercise Physiology) and receiving a verification statement (declaration of intent) from my accredited online dietetics program I have taken classes at at 3 other schools. Luckily, all the "required" education is behind me and now comes the fun stuff...a possible 11-month internship in clinical dietetics.

Throughout the past 5 weeks, there were no missed planned workouts and no unhealthy meals/junk food consumed. I did consume a lot of oranges but luckily, no sticky fingers when I was typing.
There was lots of swimming, biking and running with lots and lots of zoning out and brainstorming. There was 1 mental breakdown on Feb 3rd at around 7pm but after a minute of crying and telling myself that I would never finish, I felt much better and all was good. I never give up on situations that I believe in and often, I stress myself out because I am a really hard worker and I love to write. I just wanted to make my application letter (1 1/2 pgs) perfect and after at least 50-edits/drafts, I was finally happy with my letter. In my opinion, it was a perfect packet because I really put my heart and soul into every single part of that packet.

A special thanks to Karel for putting up with me the last 5 weeks. SOOOO much time on the computer, in addition to the million other things I do (articles, blogs, nutrition consultations, answering emails, writing coaching plans, etc.). I think his dinners were pretty good for the past month because cooking is my favorite way to relieve some stress.

A HUGE thanks to my parents for editing ALL of my letters and forms. I can't tell you how many emails and phone calls we had and I am sure they were just as ready as I was to get these packets out. I have the best parents ever.

Now comes the waiting. I will hopefully receive a phone call interview (before April 5) if I am one of 25 possible applicants. If the phone call happens, I will then check the matching website on 4/11/10 to see if I was matched to one of my two possible internships and be one of 6 interns to one of the two VA hospitals.

I guess there is nothing more I can do but wait. I am happy that everything I have done in life has allowed me to feel confident with my application packet. I look forward to receiving an amazing dietetic education no matter where I am matched and most of all, being one step close to becoming a Registered Dietitian.


Heart-healthy Chili Cornbread Casserole

Today is Go Red Day. Today you get to show the world that you support Go Red For Women, the American Heart Association’s movement to help save lives.

For many active individuals, there is a poor sense of what it means to be healthy. The fact that you exercise on a daily basis, train for endurance sports or lift heavy weights does not mean that you can eat whatever and however much you want. Sure, you may require more calories on a daily basis, to support your athletic lifestyle and speedy metabolism, but there is no physiological reason to validate your high-fat, high sugar diet.
While it is certainly acceptable to have an "occasion" to enjoy something that is sugary or fattening, your "occasional treat" should be just that...occasionally. If you occasionally eat french fries every Friday, I think we have a problem. If you occasionally eat fast food, every day for lunch, we have a weakness. While your body weight may be stable and you may look good on the outside, it is likely that your performance and/or insides are feeling the effects of your poor choice of "rewarding" foods.
Fat is required in the diet, just like protein, carbs and water. However, we want to emphasize the heart-healthy foods:
unsaturated fats, foods low in fat (not always "fat-free"), lean protein, low fat protein, complex carbs and high fiber carbs.

Four words that I religiously try to use in my "nutrition" vocabulary are
1) Emphasize/de-emphasize
2) Heart-healthy/heart-unhealthy

So many people want to say "good and bad" foods but that can be very misleading. What is good? Nuts are good, but too many of them can be bad. Is cheese bad if I eat 1 ounce of it, 20 minutes before a meal? Is a "real" milkshake bad for me if I only have it once a year?
If you can start emphasizing heart-healthy foods in your diet and de-emphasize the heart-unhealthy foods, you will immediately feel the effects of changing your food choices. Not only is it likely that you will notice more energy on a daily basis and notice a chance in your body composition, but your workouts will probably improve, you will experience less (or no) GI problems at races/training and most of all, you will feel healthier on the inside.

Here are some helpful links to keep you educated on what you should "emphasize" in your diet:

making healthy food choices

Heart-healthy diet

Last weekend Karel and I attended a Chili-athon at Steph and Sean's house, at the beach. It was SO much fun with SO much good food. Here's how the party worked... bring your best Chili dish, pay $5, winner takes all.
Karel won for the best "vegetarian" chili. Sadly, we were the only vegetarian chili. But Steph spoiled us with a great gift (bath salts) from her and her hubby's company
Recover Better

I had nothing to do with Karel's was 100% his idea and I am so happy that I was able to enjoy it. Steph did have a lot of vegetarian food, so my tummy was really happy last Sat and needless to say, my workout on Sun rocked. Also, my mini cornbread muffins were a hit :)
Karel's chili only had 1 can of beans (100% vegetarian baked beans) and all of the rest of the ingredients were fresh. He cooked it all for 6 hours in the crockpot and I swear, that was the hardest 6 hours to sit in my place and just smell that chili all day long.

Last night I made my own healthy version of chili. The pics that posted are the non-vegetarian version (chicken) but I made another one without chicken and used tofu instead.
This recipe would be perfect for your superbowl party. I recommend serving with crumbled tortilla or pita chips in a small side bowl, and topping each slice with a dollop of greek yogurt.

Heart-healthy Chili Cornbread Casserole

1 cup vegetarian chili beans (rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup onion (chopped)
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup raw chicken (sliced/cubed)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)

Cornbread topping:
1 egg
1/4 cup cornmeal
3 tbsp water
Jalapenos (2 tbsp, chopped)
Shredded cheese (2 tbsp)

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Lightly spray casserole dish w/ non-stick spray.
2. Pour beans in ban, top with chicken, corn, garlic and onion.
3. Mix together egg and cornmeal in a bowl. Add water to form a "baby-food" consistency.
4. Pour cornmeal mixture evenly over veggies. Top with Jalapenos.
5. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until edges are brown. Top with shredded cheese.


French toast Bruchetta & Sweet Fruit crumble

I love to cook. I love making time in my day to cook a healthy dinner and I can't wait until 7:10 when Karel comes home to try my creation. Coming up with recipes is so much fun and once I get cooking, I forget about how tired I was after morning training and how busy my day was because I know I will feel so good after I eat my healthy and balanced meal.
Although I cook every day of the week, there are a few (although it is very rare) days where the time passes on by and my dinner creation is put off until the next day. Because Karel and I love healthy meals all day, everyday, I never make excuses for putting something healthy in front of me, 3 times a day.
I've come up with 2 super easy creations (dinner and dessert) for you to make when you just don't feel like cooking or just don't have the time.

The best part about these recipes, besides being super yummy, is that the butter is the only "Non natural" ingredient, out of 17 ingredients, in these recipes. Additionally, you get protein, healthy fats, some veggies and LOTS of fruit in your two-course meal. How great is that for a quick meal!!?!?! :)

Enjoy my latest creation!
*I recommend starting with the fruit recipe and then preparing your quick dinner. You can put in your desert in the oven when you start eating and your warm desert will be ready when you are finished with your dinner.

French Toast Bruchetta

1 slice fresh French Bread
1 ounce fresh Mozzarella part-skim cheese (thinly sliced)
1 clove garlic (thinly sliced)
1 large Roma tomato
Basil leaves, pepper
2 egg whites + 1 whole egg
1/8 cup skim milk
Optional: 2 whole mushrooms (sliced and cooked)
2 tsp olive oil

1. Preheat a non-stick pan to low/medium heat. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil on center of pan.
2. Scramble eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. Dip bread in egg mixture (both sides)
3. Place bread in center of pan. Immediately press several garlic slices on the top of the bread, in the egg mixture.
4. After a few minutes, when bottom of bread begins to turn golden brown, flip bread.
5. Place cheese slices on bread and top with tomato, pepper and basil leaves. Remove when garlic on bottom of bread begins to brown and drizzle with the other 1 tsp of olive oil.
6. Cook remaining egg mixture and added garlic in pan (scramble quickly immediately when eggs touch the pan for 10-15 sec) and let eggs cook for a few minutes before flipping.

Sweet Fruit Crumble
1 small apple (thinly sliced)
1 small pear (thinly sliced)
5 large strawberries (sliced)
1/8 cup cranberries and/or raisins
1/3 cup instant oats
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray.
2. Place fruit on bottom of the pan (arrange evenly in rows, it's ok to stack fruit).
3. Sprinkle cranberries over fruit.
4. Combine oats, butter, honey and cinnamon in a bowl using your hands. Once the oats turn into a slight crumble, sprinkle over fruit.
5. Cook for 20-30 min or until fruit is soft or oats are slightly brown.


Answers close.
Nicole - you got it correct.

Isn't amazing how close the ingredients are for English muffins and pretzels?

1) New York Style Bagel Crisps Plain - D
2) Thomas' Grains Double fiber English Muffins - B
3) Rold Gold Pretzels - C
4) Special K original Cereal - A

A) Rice, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Defatted Wheat Germ, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Dried Whey, Malt Flavoring, Calcium caseinate, Ascorbic Acid, Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Reduced Iron, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Palmitate, Folic Acid and Vitmain B12

B) Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Modified food starch, farina, wheat gluten, polydextrose, honey, yeast, sugar, salt, preservatives, soybean oil, malt, monoglycerides, natural and artificial flavor, xanthan Gum, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, whey, soy flour, nonfat milk.

C) Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), corn syrup, salt, corn oil, yeast, malt extract, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, and artificial flavor.

D) Unbleaced enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), palm oil, less than 1% of the following: sugar, yeast, salt, distilled vinegar, yellow corn flour, natural beta carotene (color), spice extractive, soybean oil, color, soy lecithin.

Quinoa Veggie-casserole

I am a member of several organizations:
American Dietetic Association
Florida Dietetic Association
Jacksonville Dietetic Association
Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition
Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetics Practice Group
International Society of Sports Nutrition

Not only do I love being a member of awesome organizations but a few times a month my mailbox is full due to lots of journals and newsletters. While my stack of magazines and journals tends to grow during the week, I love a good road trip with Karel and Campy to catch up on all of my readings.

One of my favorite things to read is Nutrition Action. I wish I could write like the contributors of this fabulous health newsletter. I love the cynical touch and truthful statements and I absolutely love the Best Bites and Right Stuff/Food Porn sections.
Here's the link if you wish to order to the newsletter. I recommend it because you will learn a lot and it isn't hard to read/understand.
Nutrition Action

One of the special features of the Jan/Feb 2010 issue was titled "NAME THAT FOOD"
When you walk through the supermarket, it's the front labels that get your attention. What would happen if you chose foods by reading the ingredients instead?
See if you can match the nine ingredient lists below to the nine foods listed on pg.11. It's tough..mostly because all nine-like hundreds of other foods - contain essentially the same (cheap) ingredients: refined carbs plus oil and/or sugar. If some-like pita chips, Special K, and English muffins (with their "hearty grains," whatever that means)-seem healthy, it's only because they're marketed to look that way.
Bottom line, spend your calories on foods like fruits and vegetables, not on white flour in its many disguises.


I want to play the game with you (directly from pg 10 of my newsletter) and see how well you know what you are eating?
(I will post answers cheating. Post your answers in the comment section)

Your choices of foods are:
1) New York Style Bagel Crisps Plain
2) Thomas' Grains Double fiber English Muffins
3) Rold Gold Pretzels
4) Special K original Cereal

A) Rice, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Defatted Wheat Germ, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Dried Whey, Malt Flavoring, Calcium caseinate, Ascorbic Acid, Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Reduced Iron, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Palmitate, Folic Acid and Vitmain B12

B) Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Modified food starch, farina, wheat gluten, polydextrose, honey, yeast, sugar, salt, preservatives, soybean oil, malt, monoglycerides, natural and artificial flavor, xanthan Gum, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, whey, soy flour, nonfat milk.

C) Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), corn syrup, salt, corn oil, yeast, malt extract, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, and artificial flavor.

D) Unbleaced enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), palm oil, less than 1% of the following: sugar, yeast, salt, distilled vinegar, yellow corn flour, natural beta carotene (color), spice extractive, soybean oil, color, soy lecithin.

In an effort to encourage Whole Foods with little or no ingredients, I've created a great dinner for you. It would be great if we could all eat a diet full of natural foods but I understand that that is easier said than done (even for me). So after piling up the healthy stuff, there is nothing wrong with adding a little of the other stuff. What's most important is that you are actually enjoying the healthy foods (with little or no ingredients) and eating them more often than the processed stuff. Stuff...I know, a very professional word in the nutrition world :)
Enjoy my latest creation!

Quinoa veggie casserole

1/2 cup quinoa (cooked)
1 tbsp Light sour cream
1 cup spinach (chopped)
1 cup mushrooms (chopped)
1/4 cup onions (chopped)
1/2 container Firm tofu (crumbled)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tbsp Salsa
3 egg whites + 1 whole egg
1/8 cup skim milk
Spices/herbs: Basil leaves, pepper
2 tbsp shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Lightly spray glass casserole dish with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with no-salt seasonings/herbs.
2. Combine cooked (and cooled) quinoa with sour cream and press into casserole dish.
3. Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
4. Spread veggie mixture over quinoa (it's ok if you don't use all of the veggie-mixture. You can save it for an omelet the next day)
5. Pour lightly scrambled eggs and milk all over veggie mixture.
6. Top with shredded cheese.
7. Bake for 30-40 min. or until cheese is melted and edges are brown.


Eating for health

This topic is near and dear to my heart. I am all about eating for health and not just reducing calories and exercising compulsively in order to lose weight. While it may not be fast, if you are consistent with a balanced eating and exercise routine I assure you that you will not only notice an improvement in your energy and outlook on life but you will notice a change in your body composition.
I hope you enjoy my latest Iron Girl article from the FREE newsletter.

Eating for Health

One month into the New Year and you are making great progress with your goals of balanced and healthy eating, daily physical activity and/or consistency with training.

As you take the steps to reach your goal weight, maintain your weight or push a little harder to achieve performance gains, it is valuable to your well being that you are equally committed to your health. While healthy eating and daily exercise will certainly help to achieve your recommended body composition, there are many foods that will do wonders to support a long and quality filled life. Rather than calling attention to all of the unhealthy aspects of your diet, start focusing on foods that will provide healthy nutrients for both your workouts and your health. As you incorporate or replace foods in the diet, learn to appreciate the value of nutrient-rich foods.

The following are healthy swaps that will improve your eating routine.

For a healthy fat:

Instead of stick margarine (1 tbsp: 101 calories, 11g fat, 2g saturated fat, 3g trans fat)try olive oil (1 tbsp: 120 calories, 14g fat, 2g saturated fat).

It is important to note that even if you eliminate stick margarine and butter, it's not guaranteed that your diet will be trans-fat free. Through the process of hydrogenation, liquid oil turns to a solid, producing a trans fatty acid. Replacing foods high in partially hydrogenated oils, with an alternative healthy fat or oil, is shown to reduce the risk for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease (1).

Although many manufactures list products containing less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving as "trans-fat free," processed foods and bakery items, such as chips, muffins and cookies, are still likely to contain trans fat in order to extend shelf life. If a food lists "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated" in the ingredients label, and you are consuming more than one serving per sitting, it is likely that you are consuming trans fats in the diet.

Olive oil is 72 percent monounsaturated (compared to 24 percent in corn oil) and may help to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol (HDL). Although all types of olive oil provide antioxidant-containing properties, extra virgin olive oil is recommended due to the limited amount of processing when obtaining the oil from olives.

Cooking Tip: On a non-stick baking sheet, drizzle ½ - 1 tbsp olive oil over thinly sliced sweet potatoes. Toss with hands. Season with cinnamon for a sweet fry or paprika, pepper and cayenne pepper for a spicy fry. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

For a healthy carb:

Instead of Bush's Baked Beans (1 cup: 280 calories, 1100mg sodium, 58g carbs, 10g fiber, 24g sugar and 12g protein) try Goya Low-sodium Chickpeas (1 cup: 200 calories, 240mg sodium, 40g carbs, 14g fiber, 0g sugar and 12g protein).

The secret to Bush's baked beans may as well be brown sugar and sugar, common items for improving taste while prolonging shelf life.

While beans provide an excellent source of fiber and carbohydrates, the sugars in baked means make it a less-nutritious choice. Instead, try chickpeas, which offer a nutty and buttery-like taste when cooked or puréed. These beans are high in soluble fibers and can help to reduce cholesterol levels and promote a feeling of fullness at meals. They are also rich in antioxidants and are low on the glycemic index, which is great for your athletic lifestyle.

Cooking Tip: Drain chickpeas and blend the following together in blender or food processor: 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) w/ 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 ½ tbsp tahini (often found in the ethnic food aisle, or Asian section, of the grocery store), 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 ½ tbsp olive oil. Slowly add ¼ cup water (in spoonful increments) as you blend for three to four minutes. Stop adding water when smooth. Serve your homemade hummus with homemade pita chips (toasted pita bread).

For a healthy protein:

Instead of Edy's Grand Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream (1 cup: 240 calories, 18g fat, 12g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, 30g sugar, 6g protein) try Oikos Organic Plain Greek Yogurt (1 cup: 130 calories, 0g fat, 9g sugar, 22g protein).

Typical ingredients for ice cream include cream, milk, sugar, partially hydrogenated oil, corn syrup, flavorings, dyes and salt. Even if the first ingredient in your favorite ice cream reads 'skim milk,' it is important to choose a slow churned, no-sugar added or low-fat ice cream over a higher calorie alternative. This will reduce calories, fat and/or sugar per serving. Additionally, while ice cream may taste great after a hot workout, be mindful that a single serving of ice cream is ½ cup.

Greek yogurt is creamy like ice cream but lower in sugar, carbohydrates and calories than most yogurts (frozen or refrigerated). Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt in that the whey in milk is filtered out after the milk is heated and cultured, resulting in a delicious thick, dense and slightly acidic treat. Both Greek and low-fat yogurt include healthy bacteria and cultures, such as lactobacillus bulgaricus, streptococcus thermophilus and lactobacillus acidophilus, which are beneficial for your immune system and intestinal system. Considering that both probiotic-enhanced and conventional yogurts contain antioxidant-properties beneficial for the immune system, stock your fridge with a variety of low-fat yogurts for a perfect post-workout protein snack (2).

Cooking tip: Sprinkle 2 tbsp of your favorite chopped nut (almond, walnut, cashew or peanut) over 6 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt in a coffee mug. Add ¼ cup sliced fruit (berries, melon, banana, oranges, pears, etc.) and 1/8 cup of your favorite cereal or granola and stir for a yummy mixed parfait.

1) Mozaffarian, D. and Clarke, R. (2009). Quantitative effects on cardiovascular risk factors and coronary heart disease risk or replacing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils with other fats and oils. Eur J. Clin. Nutr., 63(Suppl 2): S220in

2) Fabian, E. and Elmadfa, I. (2007). The effect of daily consumption of probiotic and conventional yoghurt on oxidant and anti-oxidant parameters in plasma of young healthy women. Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 77(2): 79-88.

Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and finished the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on Aug. 30, 2009, in less than 11 hours. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to and

Any questions, Email


Day #21: Take on the challenge

Endurance sports can be addicting. Perhaps it is completion of your first athletic event that fuels your fire to register for a longer-distance event. I think for most of us, however, we probably feel that our drive for a longer, more challenging race, is due to one or more of the following:
1) watching Ironman on TV
2) hearing stories from other endurance athletes
3) having friends who compete in endurance events

If you call yourself an athlete, I'm sure you have somehow inspired other people to participate in their first 5K race or triathlon. Maybe it wasn't your intention to do so, but it seems to be quite easy to give others the motivation to sign up and train for a once-unbelievable, yet achievable, experience.

Recently I had two friends complete ultra marathon events. My friend Kellie Smirnoff completed the Mountain Mist 50K trail run and placed 2nd overall female after 5 hours and 27 minutes and 4000+ feet of elevation gain. I'm pretty certain that a 50K is not in my future but then again, when I was huffing and puffing to finish a 6K cross country race during my senior year of college (2000), I could not have predicted that one day I would be an Ironman World Championship finisher.
Just yesterday my friend Saswata Roy, or should I say Dr. Roy MD, who practices Pediatric Otolaryngology and is an Assistant Professor Mayo Clinic, completed the The One to Grow on Ultra Marathon. 55 miles (5 mile loop) and 33 bride-repeats later, Saswata finished in 9 hours and 27 minutes. I still can't get over the fact that he ran 55 miles but when I saw him last night at a chili-athlon party, he said it was 100% mental. I am pretty certain that my body is not designed to run 55 miles, however, my body could probably swim 5 of those miles...running, not so much. I'll stick with 26.2 at the end of an Ironman.

After listening to the stories of my friend's participating and completing these crazy ultra races (yes-I know that an Ironman is pretty crazy) I do have that little voice in my head wondering if I could ever take on a challenge like that. Well, as my dietetic internship deadline date approaches in 2 weeks, I will just take 1 challenge at a time.

The thing with endurance races is that they are concrete. You know the distance and for the most part, you know what you need to do to get there. I would say that 90% of the people who sign up for an endurance event, that they not only know what to do to get to the finish line but they want to get to the finish line. The goal is typically just to finish and therefore, the steps to reaching your goal are realistic, manageable and practical. If you were never a runner or a swimmer or have little experience in cycling, you know need to work on your skills before completing your first triathlon. A baby must crawl before she can walk. If you excelled in swimming in college but are a new to running, you are likely going to create some type of "running" strategy so that you don't burn yourself out of training for an Ironman. If you have a hectic work schedule and busy lifestyle, it would be wise to create a training plan that will allow you to make the most out of your weekly workouts, in order to finish your first marathon rather than making your life fit around your training plan.
When it comes to the big day of participating in your first endurance event (for some it may be an Ironman, for others it may be a 15K running race) you think back to everything you did in order to prepare for the BIG day. You smile when you think of all of the dedication and hard work it took to get you ready for the big day. The obstacles and tiring workouts were challenging but looking back, you learned to appreciate the rewards in sticking to a training routine. There were certainly good days along with the bad days but most of all, you didn't give up.
I think we have all experienced the ups and days with training but what is a race without the "oh no's" during the race. GI upset, lightheadedness, sudden loss in drive/energy, frustration, extreme tiredness, negative thoughts....seriously, the list can go on forever. But for some reason, even with these possible "DNF" scenario's, you find a way to move on. You know you can't give up and you didn't work this hard just to give up. One foot in front of the other and before you know are at the finish line....ready to do it all over again.

So...where is this going?

How do you view your nutrition-related endeavors? While it can certainly be a challenge to live a healthier lifestyle, do you ever ask yourself what is stopping your weight loss challenge?

There is a myth that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I have provided 21 tips to my devoted blog readers (thank you for reading my blog) in an effort to help you jump start your weight loss journey or quest to live a healthier lifestyle. Certainly you didn't have to implement every tip into your lifestyle but it was my hope, that for the last month, you would learn something new or remind yourself of something you may have learned in the past. Secondly, you would find a way to make that tip part of your life or at least, become more conscious of your eating or exercise routine, by trying out the tip for a day or two.

I found this pic on the internet and I thought it was just perfect for the last day of my 21 tips.

According to the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (I had to read it in grad school and I highly recommend it)
A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.
Knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why.
Skill is the how to do.
Desire is the motivation, the want to do.
In order to make something a habit you have to have knowledge, skill and desire.

I hope that I have provided you with loads of knowledge in order to help you figure out what it is you need to focus on to reach your weight loss/performance goals. Rather than telling yourself you "need to lose weight" "I am fat" "I want to be lean" the knowledge you have of living a healthier life will help you work on the weakness's in your current eating and exercise routine.

Next comes skills. Whether you need to eat more fruits and veggie, weight train or include more quality protein in the diet, you recognize what it takes to be healthier rather than just wondering what you need to do to "look good in my jeans".
Just like you need to have a bike to train for a triathlon, you need to have fruits and veggies stocked in your fridge in order to eat more fruits and veggies on a daily basis.

Lastly comes desire. Here's the tricky part. Do you have the desire to live a healthier lifestyle? Are you committed to consistent exercise and healthy eating or do you make excuses and say "it is too hard" or "I'll start tomorrow". The day you sign up for a marathon or IM, you are 100% committed. You know that it won't be easy but you know how amazing it will feel when you reach the finish line.

Maybe weight loss, exercise and healthy eating doesn't have a finish line. Come to think of it, it doesn't. You will always have to be conscious of what you are eating, why you are eating it and how much of it you are eating. You will always have to have some type of motivation to get in a workout.

While this all sounds miserable and undesirable, it is time that you take on the challenge and realize that living a healthier lifestyle is a want and a need. More than anything, with new habits and a challenge here and there, you will learn to love your new life and never want to go back to old, unhealthy habits.

Good luck!

*I'd love to hear if any of my tips helped you out in your weight loss/performance journey?
*Did you make a nutrition/exercise-related resolution? Are you still sticking to your resolution?
*Do you still struggle with any tips in my Jan blog posts? Do you have other struggles with your healthy-journey?