Essential Sports Nutrition


Banana walnut muffins & The Best Mango walnut and feta salad

I have been doing some brainstorming about my community nutrition project.
I question why people don't eat more/enough/any fruits and veggies on a daily basis.
I hear all the time from people who are on diets, such as weight watchers, paleo, gluten-free, Mediterranean Diet, Best Life diet, Eat this/Not that diet and the Zone diet (want more examples, they are all listed on this page and how they feel much better on the diet and ask my thoughts of whether or not I support the diet. Primarily, I hear a lot about gluten-free, paleo, mediterranean and the zone diet from athletes.
I believe in a balanced diet and taking time to understand your personal individual dietary requirements which support your lifestyle and your exercise routine. Although there are pro's in several of these diets, I do not believe that a person should feel restricted in an effort to live a long and healthy life.
The benefit of several diets is that you become more aware of your eating habits and perhaps your body. By making swaps and replacing foods, you likely add in foods which you have been neglecting or that your body requires....specifically fruits and veggies.
For example, there are several research studies demonstrating the inflammatory effects of foods high in sugar. Many athletes feel better when they "go" gluten-free. My guess is that you are replacing the refined sugars w/ more fruits and veggies and perhaps a little more thought in your food choices. In my opinion, if you are eliminating healthy foods in the diet in an effort to be healthy and abide by a certain diet, you are simply sabotaging yourself to feel satisfied throughout the day and help meet your fitness goals.
If you have a chance in the next few days, I would love to hear your opinion, comment or feedback to the following questions. Don't feel as if you can't be detailed. Please leave a comment or email me Based on your comments I will be creating my community nutrition project to encourage people to adopt a more plant-based diet.
(you don't have to answer every question)
1) Do you feel as if you eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies on a daily basis?
If so, do you feel satisfied during the day or hungry?
If not, why is it challenging for you to meet recommendations?

2) Do you eat fruits and veggies for health benefits or for the taste..or both?

3) Are there factors that stop you from eating fruits and veggies? ex. cravings for other foods, enjoyment of processed foods, money, availability?
Do you feel as if it is cheaper to buy process food/fast food than buy/eat fruits and veggies.

4) Would you buy more fruits and veggies if you could buy from a farmer's market?
Do you shop at farmer's markets and if so, how often (week/month/year).

5) Do you feel healthier when you eat fruits and veggies?

6) Are you on a "diet", an athlete looking to improve performance, trying to maintain weight and/or trying to lose weight?

7) Do you feel as if you eat too many fruits and veggies and not enough grains, fat and protein?

8) Although there is an abundance of articles, books and articles on the benefits of fruits and veggies, what resources would you like to encourage you/hold you accountable to eating a more plant based diet? ex. recipes, health benefits of fruits and veggies, grocery list of seasonal produce, more farmer's markets, guides/checklists, etc.

9) Any other thoughts.....

Banana walnut muffins
1 cup oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp all spice
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flax seeds (ground)
2 tbsp wheat germ
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 spotty brown bananas
1 tbsp almond extract
2 eggs (1 whole, 1 white)
2 tbsp 0% plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup skim milk
1 1/4 cup carrots (shredded) - YES carrots. There is over a serving of veggies in this recipe.

Topping: chopped walnuts and golden raisins

Makes 14-15 muffins
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl.
3. Mash bananas w/ a fork in small bowl. Mix together wet ingredients in small bowl.
4. Add wet to dry and mix well. May need to add a splash or two of water to help with stirring. You should be able to stir with ease but it should not be drippy. More like thick pancake batter.
5. In a non-stick muffin tin sprayed with a little non stick spray, fill muffin tins 3/4th full.
6. Top each muffin w/ a few chopped walnuts and raisins.
7. Bake for 25-35 min or until top of muffin is firm.

The Best Mango walnut and feta salad

Firm Tofu
Carrots (shredded)
Olive oil

1. On a non-stick pan on medium heat, cook garlic in 2-3 tsp olive oil. Add firm tofu (about 1/4 cubed per person). Cook for 5-8 min. or until tofu turns golden on most sides.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl and top w/ tofu.


Week 1

What an exciting and wonderful week. My eyes are sleepy and my brain is overloaded but I am soaking it all in.
On wed. I spent 9 hours at University of North Florida.
First on our agenda was the UNF health fair (outside) by the bookstore/cafeteria.
We were promoting eating healthy in the dorm-room and the highlight of our booth/table was the yummy food. Because Ramen noodles are a staple on college campus's, I showed people how to "dress-up" ramen and pack in a little more nutrition (and take out the sodium from the seasoning packet).

For our booth I prepared an egg omelet w/ canned beans and rice and canned spicy tomatoes and green peppers. I made the omelet with greek yogurt (which I highly recommend for a fluffy omelet/eggs) and then when my "meal" was ready I served it on small plates.
I prepared the ramen with a little of the seasoning (a pinch) in hot water and then added a cooked scrambled egg and a can of spicy tomatoes.
I would say that our table got a lot of attention.
Also, I highly recommend this cookbook that my preceptor showed me
Lickety-Split Meals
After the health fair from 11-2 we cooled off in the office and then walked around campus promoting another cooking activity.
From 3-6 we went to the fitness center on campus for "Ask the Expert" and I spoke with a swimmer who recently retired (as a junior) and was training for her first triathlon. I was right at home, talking from my heart.
Afterward, we made our way to the Fountains Dorm room for a cooking demo at 6:30 but after waiting until 6:45, no one showed so we called it a day.
These are LONG days but I can't complain. An Ironman is a LONG day.

Today was also a great day! My preceptor had 3 clients at her office and I was able to sit in and take notes.
I am inspired, motivated and amazed by this field and I am so happy to be a "dietitian in training"


Ironman and dietetic internship

I'm not sure what is more exciting right now, my internship or how great I feel with my Ironman training.
However, with 26 hours dedicated to interning and 4 hours and 40 min of training in the past 3 days, I can tell you which one is more exhausting .....IRONMAN TRAINING!!
The workouts have been very challenging and with my last week of build ending on Sun, I GLADLY welcome recovery week next week. The internship is going great and I LOVE every minute. I have to admit, waking up at 4:15 over the past 4 out of 5 days has been a bit of a shock for my body. Understanding that sleep is a priority and that a change in schedule requires a big adjustment for my body, I plan to continue taking Mon off and using Thurs as an active recovery or off day. I need my sleep and anything more or less than 8 hrs just doesn't leave me feeling rested and refreshed. However, thanks to balanced and healthy eating, I sure do have a lot of energy to get me through my long days.
Here's a brief overview of my workouts this week:
2 hour bike (trainer) starting at 5am
1 hr, Enurance pace 99-134watts (zone 2), including warm-up. Focus is on high cadence. In the Under LT intervals try to stay in right around 165watts.

1min right over the LT (LT=177watts)
5min right under LT
2min right over LT
6min right under LT
1min right over LT
Recover for 15min!
Repeat the whole set 1 more time.
So I really didn't get close to my watts but I gave a good effort. Perhaps my body was still semi-asleep but I was really enjoying myself and the hard efforts. I have come a long way with my cycling and several months ago a set like this (at any watts) would have been unthinkable.
Afterward, time for a run.
4.78 miles:
7:40, 7:49, 7:40, 7;50, 9:50 (with campy, .78 miles).
Oh how I love my runs with Campy. He absolutely loves running fast but our pace kinda slows because he feels the need to mark on every twig and branch. That's ok, I enjoy Campy intervals. Also, I enjoy pooping him out.

After a great first day w/ my preceptor I came home and cooked up some delicious casseroles for Wed and Thurs. While those were in the oven, I managed to get some homework/assignments done. After our meals were cooked, Campy and I both needed a little sunshine so we went for a long walk. I made a casserole just for me and one for Karel. It's so nice to have cooked meals ready to eat after a long day.
Veggie Casserole and Tuna casserole:
Broccoli, spinach, onion, 1 can black beans, 1 can chickpeas, garlic, tomato, 1/2 can low sodium tomato soup, mushrooms, green pepper, 1/2 cup oats, curry powder, pepper, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp flak seeds, 1 tbsp wheat germ
Veggie casserole: 2 eggs (1 yoke, 2 whites) mixed with 1 tbsp greek yogurt, a little balsamic and feta.
Tuna casserole: 1/2 can low sodium tomato soup, 2 cans tuna in water, a little mayo and spicy mustard (mixed together) + 1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp greek yogurt, a little balsamic and feta.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
1) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, except eggs, balsamic, yogurt and feta. 2) Scramble egg, etc. ingredients in separate bowl
3) Take veggie mixture and evenly spread out in 2 separate casserole dishes.
4) For veggie casserole, take eggs and pour evenly over casserole.
5) For tuna casserole, pour remaining tomato soup over casserole and top with tuna mixture. Pour eggs over tuna.
6) Bake the veggie casserole for 30-40 min and tuna casserole for 40-50 min.
Side dish: Quinoa
Top dishes w/ salsa and a little cheese
Tuna casserole:

Wed. came early. 4:20am
Off to the Y for a 5am run and a 6:30 swim. All before a 10am - 8pm day of interning.
Tempo Run:
1 hr and 11 min.
8.6 miles (it's taken me a good 2 months to work my way up to this distance during the week)
Main set (1% incline): 6 x .5 mile @ 7.8mph w/ .25 mile recovery @ 7.5mph
Post set: 10 x 45 sec @ 8.0mph w/ 15 sec. straddle treadmill

Swim (which I was late for so I jumped in on the main set of 8 x 300's)
45 min
2700 yrds
Main set: 4 x 300's w/ 30 sec. rest
4:03, 3:56, 3:54, 3:52

This has been quite a week but I am loving every minute of it. I think what is helping me the most is having a training plan that is realistic and doable. The extra rest day is wonderful and because it is planned I have something to look forward to and I know I am not beating my body up until I "have to" rest.
I think all triathletes and runners enjoy having a plan. A plan of what to eat, how to eat, how much to eat, how to train, how much to train, etc. Perhaps our "planning mentality" allows us to continue along with multisports but come to think of it, I think it is why we enjoy multisports.
Try creating a plan that works for your current life. Don't worry about what you use to do, how you use to eat or how you use to train. Live in the now. Remember, heart-health, progress and enjoyment are key components to reaching short and long term goals.

Perhaps I should stop being so serious all the time...


Intuitive Eating

Loving the internship already!
First day with my preceptor and I was playing with fake food and organizing educational materials for a few events that are coming up next week.
There is another girl that is volunteering with my preceptor so it is great to share this experience with a future dietetic intern.

After my morning workout (2 hours on trainer w/ over/under intervals + 3.5 mile run + 1 mile Campy run) I spent 30 min. putting together snacks and meals for the day as I sipped on my recovery smoothie.
My food selections included a PB&J on a sandwich thin, peanuts, grapes, carrots, yogurt and an oatmeal packet as well as this flat out wrap + egg and veggie hash that I quickly put together. It was quick and easy and made for a yummy lunch (which I ate at The Trek Store at the beach since it is just 3 miles down the road from where I am doing some of my interning hours).
My hash included 2 eggs (1 white, 1 whole) made w/ 1 spoonful greek yogurt and a little balsamic, olive oil for the pan and mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomatoes and spinach. I cooked the veggies in the olive oil and at the end added my scrambled eggs. YUM!

I want to reflect a little on the last talk that I attended at the FDA conference on Mon. Evelyn Tribole gave a fantastic talk on intuitive eating and I am still thinking about it today.
I think we would all agree that we live in a society obsessed with food and/or looks. Americans are so hungry to be healthy yet we have a rising epidemic of obesity and health related diseases. Isn't it amazing that there is a diet book, diet, tv show, advocate/spokesperson and product for anything and everything related to nutrition, YET the US is extremely unhealthy when it comes to weight and eating proper nutrients???
We live in a society where we don't buy a product we buy the story attached.
Don't believe me? Have you ever bought Acai berry juice because of the antioxidants or fiber one bars for "the fiber"? How about a specific cereal because it is claimed to reduce cholesterol or a specific nutrition product because a pro athlete uses it?
The leading cause of death in the US is lifestyle related. No one is making you buy products or eat a certain way but due to the media and claims, Americans are practically killing themselves (or reducing years of quality life) by buying into the stories/claims of products.
Sure, we probably eat because of emotions, stress, memory or habits but when it comes down to living a healthy life, you don't have to feel intimated by creating new habits and rituals.
We all have meaning in our life and personal goals. Like I mentioned in my last blog, Your relationship to food mirrors your relationship to life.

I believe that many people go by the "eat this/not that" rule and don't truly understand what it is that the body needs to meet individual life and exercise requirements. It's easy to be told what to do and because of that, it's easy to pick up a diet book or read a forum and try to understand your body through the eyes of someone else. I am sure it is good to have a template of how to eat healthy but don't we know enough about what it takes to have a healthy diet?
You know to eat fruits and veggies but why is it that processed bars are prioritized over nutrient-rich foods? Perhaps you tried eating fruit for a snack once but that was a time of calorie-restriction and the diet wasn't balanced with other healthy foods that promote fullness and satisfaction.
As Evelyn said, it is time to make peace w/ food and reject the diet mentality. Clearly, if you haven't figured it out yourself, diets harm the body. There is no validation to dieting (good food/bad food) and living a long and healthy life. I believe that lower calorie diets are beneficial to the body but with that comes balance and a healthy relationship with food.
It's important to focus on your internal hunger and satiety cues. Listen to your body to understand when you should eat, how much and why you are eating what you are eating. This isn't going to happen over night so remind yourself that you have permission to eat any time of the day and whatever you want but your choices (regardless of heart healthy or not) do not have to be all or nothing. It's ok to enjoy chocolate or cheese or chips with your sandwich. But the idea is to build a balanced and healthy diet and to eat for physical reasons, not emotional.

Evelyn said that you are the expert of your body. I totally agree. Don't feel pressured to eat a certain way because you are worried about the "food police" and people questioning your intentions to eat a certain way. Believe me, I know all about questioning about eating habits.....I am the endurance vegetarian who doesn't eat a super high calorie diet but yet, understands what my body needs (depending on my exercise routine) and enjoys feeding it quality nutrients.

I hope that everyone is over the idea of dieting. There is no quick short term solution to lose weight. Just like with triathlons or your choice of exercise, nutrition is a journey and takes a great understanding of what it is that will work best for you. Dieting only leads to weight gain, overweight, disordered eating and eating disorders. Really, who wants to go the rest of his/her life obsessing about food? I suppose it is simple to say "just eat" but then again, Americans are just eating and eating and eating.
In an effort to understand what your body needs, focus on hunger awareness. Are you pleasant, unpleasant, neutral? Why are you eating? Are you watching TV, playing on the computer...are you distracted?
There are certainly exceptions in life such as stress, illness, mood and intense exercise that alter our eating so expect changes in your nutrition, just like in life.
Have peace with food.
There was a study done in different countries called the Food Worry Study looking at eating habits and health in USA, Japan, Belgium and France.
USA worry the most about food and health but we are never satisfied and have the worst health.
France doesn't care a lot about health but really cares about food and feeling satisfied. France is the staple for health.

Respect your body. Treat is nicely and appreciate your only body. Stop the body bashing. Criticizing your body doesn't make you feel good and only leads to anxiety. Anxiety and stress increase inflammatory chemicals which encourages emotional eating.

We live in a thin-obsessed world yet obesity is an epidemic and we are surrounded by toxic food leading to weight gain.

Take a moment and think about your eating habits and with all the knowledge you have of how to create a healthy and balanced diet (and exercise routine) try to focus on one area of weakness to work on for the next week. Perhaps it is breakfast or meal prep. Learn to have a healthy relationship with food. Food doesn't always cause people to gain weight, habits do. Learn to create healthy habits that will last a lifetime so that you can make the most out of your one and only life.


Day 1: FDA conference

8 hours down, 1192 to go!

I woke up super early on Mon morning (4:20am) in order to be in the car at 5am to drive 2 1/2 hours to Orlando. I spent a good 20 min. getting together snacks and meals for the day because as many people know, conferences can be a little unpredictable. Although I was attending the Florida Dietetic Association annual symposium, and anticipated a good selection of snacks, I was worried about my blood sugar and perhaps snacking on carbs all day.
I made a veggie burger and egg hash for the car w/ a few wasa crackers and coffee (and water). I also brought with me a packet of oatmeal and a bowl (anticipating hot water at the Ritz Carlton), peanuts, an apple, grapes and a PB&J.

The conference was amazing! I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed when I arrived but the first talk put me to ease.
The expo was amazing and I have never received so many FREE goodies in my life!!! I was super excited to show Karel all of my foods/snacks and coupons!
I would like to discuss the talks in more detail but I'm a little pressed for time to get to the beach for my first day of my internship w/ my preceptor.

I know health-seekers are always wanting a good read. I don't want to encourage the mumbo-jumbo "nutritionist" stuff by uncredited "experts" promoting a eat this/not that lifestyle so I'd like to recommend a few books that were mentioned in my day of attending lectures. If you have read any of them and would like to provide your feedback for me and the other blog readers, I would love to hear your comments.

1) Switch by Heath
2) Women, Food and God by Roth
3) Man's search for meaning - Frankl
4) Mindless eating - Wainsink
5) Interceptual Awareness - Kaye (I can't remember if this is a book or a study)

And I'd like to leave you with this quote that I head from my talk...
"Your relationship to food mirrors your relationship to life"

Also- I had the privilege of hearing Evelyn Tribole speak. You may have heard of her book called "Intuitive Eating".
She had a quote that really made me think...
"We don't need another diet trial, we need a change of paradigm"

Do you agree?


Ramping up

My friend Jennifer came to visit me on Fri. She was registered to race at the BFAST raec on Sat so I welcomed her in my place for the night. She didn't mind my multi-tasking so we ran a few of my errands and picked up her packet at the Trek beach store.
For dinner we discussed going out to dinner but it's never easy going out to eat on the night before a race especially when you want comforting food at an affordable price. Plus, who likes to wait for food the night before a race when an early night of rest is on your mind.
I decided to "make" pizza.
I bought a frozen DiGiorno pizza (mushroom, spinach and garlic) and added everything. I mean EVERYTHING!!
Tofu, broccoli, garlic, tomato, jalapenos, red pepper, veggie crumbles, chickpeas, onion.
I also made a wonderful salad of spinach, feta, grapes, peaches and onion. Balsamic for the dressing.

We watched the tour (DVR) and early to bed around 9:30.

We were all up around 4:20 to get in a pre-race (and training for me) snack and hit the road. Karel had to work at 12 so he decided to bike to the race, spectate, then bike home. Jennifer and I drove to the beach and I was a sherpa for her while she got ready for her race. As she went to beach for the swim start, I went to the car to get my fuel belt for my first long run of the year (since IMKY).
There's nothing better than training and spectating so I decided to run the bike course of the race (and a little extra). The race included a bridge but my legs gladly welcomed a big incline and decline.
All of my friends did great and it was wonderful to share my passion for all things swim-bike-run with the other athletes at the race.

Stats for my run:
16.01 miles
Time: 2:13
Pace: 8:20 min/mile

After the awards (all of my friends got 2nd in age group and 1 3rd place - YAY!!) my friend Doris joined Jennifer and I for my recovery post-run, ride.
EASYYYYY ride and it was great. 15 miles (1 hour) just spinning the legs on safe and quite roads and just chatting about everything.

Jennifer and hit the beach after the ride for a well-need dip in the ocean. The water was rather calm so we just chatted in the ocean for a good 20 min. Lovely.

As for the rest of the day, my dietetic internship was calling my name. Jennifer went home and I worked on a power point presentation and read a little of my first chapter of my community nutrition textbook. I have my first quiz on Fri!!!

This morning came early and my body was tired. First on the agenda was my walk with Campy. We went a little longer than normal so I could wake my body up.
The oatmeal didn't feel so good this morning but I ate it anyways. My body was just tired. The coffee was good however.
Thank goodness Karel joined me this morning. I needed a good 1 hour warm-up but with him by my side (or at my wheel) I was able to get into a good endurance zone for my first long ride of the season (since IMKY).
Karel and I rotated every 5 min after the 1st hour until the 2nd hour. We headed to Penny Farms which has a few rolling hills. Nothing challenging but enough to wake up my tired legs and remind me that I am in the peak of my IMWI training.
I had a few low moments during my ride but Karel helped me through them. He kept telling me that I was stronger than ever before and that I needed to just keep going. It was really windy for a section of our ride and it was just breaking me down (mentally and physically). Karel reminded me that there is no stopping during the 112 miles at an Ironman just because it is windy so I took a little mental break (drafting off Karel) and shook myself out of my low moment.
I think that's what Ironman is all about. It's the journey. You aren't going to have great workouts all the time, maybe not even good workouts. You cherish the good ones and you learn from the not-so-good ones. But more than anything, you get better with time. I have improved so much this year and Karel reminded me that I am faster than ever. Yes, for the first time in a long time we need to work on my endurance but we have spent the last year trying to build a solid base so that I could be faster than ever before. Sure, my fast is not as fast as others but I am training for me and racing for me. On race day I will know what I am capable of and I feel confident that in the next 8 weeks, the endurance will come. One day at a time.
Stats for the ride:
(karel did 3 hours and 45 min with me but then he had to speed home for work at noon. I rode the rest alone)
Time: 4 hours and 40 minutes
Distance: 87 miles
Speed: 18.6

After the ride, it was time for a HOT run in 100 degree heat index (90 degrees). I decided the best way to finish a long weekend was a run with my Campy.
He was fast and ready to run!
1 mile w/ Campy: 8:04 (including pee stops - for Campy :)
Campy doesn't last long in the heat so I gathered my fuel belt and continued my run alone.
Distance (total): 2.36 miles
Time: 19 min.
Pace: 8:03

Well, as you may have guessed....more internship to-do's all day today. My eyes are sleepy and ready for an early good-night.
I'm heading to Orlando EARLY tomorrow morning for an all day conference. It is my first Florida Dietetic Association annual symposium and I am really excited about the talks that I will be attending.