10 min stove top dinner - Creations

We are all pressed for time. Some days, I'd rather go for a long walk with Campy instead of cooking. However, there is nothing more wonderful than having a home cooked meal with Karel and knowing exactly what we are putting in our bodies.

One of my number one suggestions of preparing a wholesome meal is to not go into the meal prep, starving. I typically have a small snack before I start cooking my meal (veggies, nuts, fruit, yogurt, milk, cheese, peanut butter) so that I can cook/prepare dinner around one to two hours before I plan on eating with Karel. By cooking the meal ahead of time, I find myself with plenty of time to get to my to-do's before dinner.....actually, Campy takes priority and we LOVE our evening walks together.

Since Karel doesn't get off work until 7 (which puts him home around 7;20 or 7:30) there is no way my body will let me go all afternoon (even including a mid afternoon snack) without food. Because I do not feel comfortable preparing a wholesome meal with a hungry stomach, I believe in rewarding my body with food every few hours...even 15-30 min before my meal is served. I don't believe in restricting my calories, especially when I am hungry. Furthermore, if I were to go into the meal prep with a starving belly, it is likely that my blood sugar is low and my plant-based meal will not satisfy my cravings. When the blood sugar is low, carbs are likely on the mind...and not the low sugar, slow digesting kinds. I highly recommend having a pre-meal snack before you start preparing your meals. You will find yourself feeling great while preparing a wholesome and balanced meal.



....in the context of sports, refers to the practice of reducing, or tapering off, exercise in the days just before an important competition.

For an Ironman, I taper for 2 whole weeks! It's crazy because the next 2 weeks will go by super fast whereas in a 3-week build, those last 2 weeks seem to take forever before a well-needed recovery week. I can't believe in 2 weeks from yesterday I will be in Madison Wisconsin for my 4th Ironman! I can't say it enough....the human body is absolutely amazing.
Before my very first Ironman in 2006 (IMFL) my #1 concern was my heart. My parents had no idea what crazy sport I had gotten myself into and although the distances didn't scare me, I was wondering "how is my heart going to beat for that long of a time". I seems kinda silly to me know to think that my heart would not be able to support 140.6 miles of "racing" but in all actuality, it is just amazing what the body does on an IM race day in an effort to cover 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running.
Because of how my schedule fell, I had a recovery week 2 weeks ago so last week was a build week. Karel's coaching plan has worked out perfectly because I am still not injured (first time in 3 years!!!) albeit, I do have the normal training aches and pains and racing on the IM Wisconsin course (which is super challenging) is not going to be easy! Also, I continue to feel myself improving with each and every workout. Although the not-injured part was a major goal of mine over the past 3 months of IM training, I have really enjoyed seeing progress with my training. Sure, I could have done a lot more volume but I really wanted to keep balance in my life so that I could wake up with a fresh mind, body and soul and make the most out of every day...even if that day included a day off from training and 8-hours of interning.

This past weekend was it. No more training for me. Just 2 weeks of high intensity, low volume tapering. The excitement will continue to build over the next 2 weeks, as will the nerves. My close friends here in Jax have been nothing but wonderful to me and super understanding with my crazy schedule of interning and IM training. I don't know what I'd do without them. My parents and Karel have seen me train and race the past 3 Ironmans (Karel wasn't in Kona but I know he was watching me on the computer) and I can't wait 'til we are all together in Wisconsin.

To finish off a summer of training, I covered 113.3 miles of riding (5 hrs and 56 min) + 2.5 campy miles (??? for time, too many pee pee stops, plus a water stop to visit Karel at the Trek store) on Sat. Karel said that my power tap had a bunch of blank spots in the data and that I probably covered around 120 miles. Well, either way, I felt great. I tried to stick to my zones for most of the ride but of course, I got a little tired at the end. One of the main reasons for my tiredness was joining the Lodge Ride from hrs 2 1/2 - 4. Oh boy, was that a fun ride but it sure did poop me out. I was very active during the ride with the boys but near the end, my legs were signaling "trashed" and I still had 2 more hours of riding (alone). I ended up doing about 1/2 dozen brides (hills for us Floridians) throughout the ride so all in all, I really felt like I gave it my best effort for my last training session. However, as Karel always tells me "you give your best effort in a race, not in training". Although I was running at 1pm with my little furry one, we had a blast. There was great cloud cover and the wind that was with me during our run. Of course, the sun popped out and we got really hot (despite having my fuel belt to keep us hydrated...campy gets a flask and I get a flask) so we stopped at the Trek store and visited Karel at work.
Since I did my longest run (21 miles) 2 weeks ago, I wanted to do a little harder of a run but without all of the miles. The run could not have been more perfect. It started out a little faster than I planned because it was cloudy and I was just happy to be running after such a tough workout on Sat. The rain started coming down around mile 6 and I was SO happy!! If you have read my past posts, I just LOVE running in the rain. It is so freeing and just makes me feel like a little kid playing in the rain. I ended up doing 4 x 1/2 mile "sprints" on a rolling loop w/ 1/2 mile easy jog prior to the sprint. I rested after each mile for about a minute and after the 4 x 1 mile "intervals" I ran home. By mile 12 my legs were feeling achy and I was really feeling the past 5 workouts from the week. I ended up running for 2 hours and 11 minutes and covering 16 miles (8:12 min/mile pace).

I spent yesterday tracking a bunch of athletes at IMKY and I could not be more proud of the TriLewis club as well as all of the Jacksonville athletes who took on that tough and hot course! I get very inspired by other athletes and watching others partake in endurance events reminds me how special the body can be and that we should take care of our one and only body on a daily basis.


Creative in the kitchen

My days are long but that's ok. I look forward to coming up with something creative after a long training+educational day.

Last week I made a bunch of yummy dishes. But nothing new, time gets away from me and I can't get to my blog as often as I'd like. However, there are plenty of pics to prove that I am just as busy in the kitchen as I am with everything else in my life. But hey, if you are passionate about something, it doesn't seem like a struggle to train, intern and cook on a daily basis.

For Week of Welcome, my preceptor and I served up a "shot" of powerful nutrition. We figured that the UNF college students wouldn't think twice about turning down a shot...too bad it was a healthy shot. But the students didn't complain! They LOVED our raw wrap and bean and rice wrap (recipes were posted a few posts ago) and even asked if we could serve these wraps on campus instead of the normal on-campus dining selections.
My preceptor made homemade Baba ganoush which was also a hit. If you have never had it...YUM!! It is very similar to hummus but with eggplant instead of chickpeas. Delicious!


Creatine and Dehydration

If you didn't catch the recent news in the sports nutrition world, here is a short article on a recent situation at a High School in Colorado...

Creatine and dehydration in student athletes

Without getting into the details of creatine, I'd like to say that creatine has received a lot of bad press for no explainable reason. Since graduate school, I have immersed myself in creatine research and still can't find a reason for athletes not to use creatine. While in graduate school, I helped out with several (published) research studies as the "grad student" blood lactate tester. I was an expert at pricking fingers and collecting blood samples for lactate and glucose results while athletes pedaled away on stationary bikes, all while we recorded VO2, ventilation and other metabolic indicators. We mostly studied the effects on beta-alanine and creatine supplementation over a period of a time (one study was supplementation for 28 days). Fun times with my PhD buddies!! I sure miss graduate school!

Do I think every athlete needs to take creatine? Probably not. But depending on your athletic and fitness goals and individual dietary and lifestyle needs, I believe that every person can be a candidate for at least one supplement...however, that doesn't mean you have to take EVERY supplement on the market.

Here is a great article about creatine that my good friend Cassandra wrote a few years ago...although, the research and science hasn't changed. If anything, there is more research supporting creatine usage.

Creatine for Women

Here's a good read (by a RD) on a vegan diet for weight lifters...scroll down to read about creatine for vegetarians.
Vegans and weight lifting

As a vegetarian, I likely do not have as much creatine in my blood, urine and red blood cells as a meat eater. I take 5g of creatine monohydrate a day (I have never done a loading phase which is often recommended with creatine usage) for about 3 weeks and then on my recovery week from training, I cycle off creatine. Creatine is not a booster so I take it after my workouts with my glutamine (1 tsp) in water, in my oatmeal or in my smoothie. Karel does the same. There are a lot of different creatine protocols in research but 5g/day appears to be the norm and recommended amount.

I don't know about you, but I feel much better about taking creatine compared to sipping on a 5-hr energy or red bull during the day. Furthermore, there are some crazy ingredients in several sports nutrition products (specifically the pre-workout sports nutrition drinks, powders and pills) and to this day, I am still surprised that that FDA permits those products on the market.
The fact that there is 1870 mg of an 'Energy Blend' in 5-hr energy, really concerns me. Considering that a cup of coffee has around 150 mg of caffeine, we really don't know how much caffeine is in the energy blend cocktail of Citicoline, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, Taurine, Malic Acid, Glucuronolactone, Caffeine???
The rest of the ingredients are amino acids which aren't much of a concern to me since I highly recommend taking amino acids during endurance training (I take 2 endurance amino's from Hammer every hour during my 2+ hr bike rides and runs). As for caffeine, I do recommend caffeine before training but a cup or two of coffee, 45 min before a workout or race is all you need. Most sport gels contain around 25-30mg which is also fine and may give you an extra "boost".
Based on research, more caffeine before a workout is not better and has no positive effect on performance. Typically studies use 1-5mg of caffeine per kg of body weight. A friend of mine, Jose Antonio (CEO of ISSN) is an EXPERT (and Guru) on caffeine and athletic performance. Also, research also shows that caffeine does not increase risk for dehydration during physical activity and the idea that it is a mild diuretic is not supported by very much research. Therefore...continue drinking your morning coffee before training and racing (although, in habitual coffee drinkers, the performance effects may be minimal compared to a newbie coffee drinker).

Here is an IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE from the International Society of Sports Nutrition...

Woodland Park, CO, August 25, 2010 - Recent media reports have suggested that ingestion of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate may have contributed to the hospitalization of several athletes from McMinnville High School in Oregon for rhabdomyolysis (i.e., a rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle due to injury that typically presents with marked elevations in the enzyme creatine kinase [CK] in the blood) and/or anterior compartment syndrome (ACS). It is well known that excessive exercise in hot and humid environments can promote dehydration, muscle breakdown, and result in marked elevations in muscle CK levels. In severe instances, this may lead to exertional rhabdomyolysis particularly in athletes who have been engaged in intense exercise in hot and humid environments for several days and who become chronically dehydrated. Additionally, excessive exercise in individuals unaccustomed to heavy training bouts can promote anterior compartment swelling, pain, and pressure. It is well known that dehydration and/or heat illness can exacerbate this clinical course.

According to press reports, the athletes in this case were engaged in a several day "immersion" camp. The athletes began to complain about swelling in their arms after performing a series of push-up and chair dip exercises in a 30-second alternating bouts of repetitions for over 20 minutes until exhaustion in a hot and humid wrestling room. Temperatures in the room were reported as high as 115-120°F. Moreover, the athletes were reported to have to start a repetition scheme over again if all of the athletes did not complete their repetition goals. Further, the athletes were not allowed to drink water during the training session. None of the athletes indicated they took creatine (or any other supplement or drug). Nevertheless, media reports indicated officials are investigating whether creatine may have been linked to this incident.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) is the leading professional organization in the field of sports nutrition. In 2007, the Research Committee of the ISSN formed a team of sport nutrition researchers, dietitians, and physicians to extensively review the available scientific literature on creatine supplementation and exercise and to develop a Position Stand for the Society which was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sport Nutrition (see: http://www.jissn.com/content/4/1/6). After extensive review of the literature, the ISSN adopted the following positions relative to this issue:

1. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.

2. Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe, but possibly beneficial in regard to preventing injury and/or management of select medical conditions when taken within recommended guidelines.

3. There is no scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals.

4. If proper precautions and supervision are provided, supplementation in young athletes is acceptable and may provide a nutritional alternative to potentially dangerous anabolic drugs.

5. At present, creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied and clinically effective form of creatine for use in nutritional supplements in terms of muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity.

6. Creatine monohydrate has been reported to have a number of potentially beneficial uses in several clinical populations, and further research is warranted in these areas.

Specific to the alleged association of creatine to development of rhabdomyolysis and ACS; a number of studies have evaluated the effects of creatine supplementation on dehydration, cramping, fluid retention, muscle injury, CK levels, and health status in athletes engaged in intense exercise (including football players engaged in intense training in hot and humid environments). These studies have consistently indicated that creatine supplementation does not promote cramping, muscle injury, elevations in CK, and/or heat related injuries. Conversely, studies report that creatine may improve the athlete's ability to tolerate intense exercise in hot and humid environments and lessen the incidence of injury. Athletes have been using creatine on a widespread basis as a dietary supplement since the early 1990's. No clinically significant side effects have been reported and a number of potentially beneficial medical uses are being studied. It is the opinion of the ISSN that suggestions that creatine caused this incident is inconsistent with the scientific literature and implausible.

According to noted sports nutrition scientist Richard Kreider, Ph.D., FACSM, FISSN of Texas A & M University, "Many studies have been done (since the early 1990's) that show creatine does not cause dehydration, muscle damage, or increase susceptibility to heat-related illness in athletes involved in intense training in hot and humid environments. If anything, research shows that creatine promotes hyperhydration (i.e., whole body fluid retention) leading to less thermogregulatory stress during intense exercise in the heat. It is unfortunate that individuals unfamiliar with the creatine literature are speculating that creatine caused this problem when the athletes indicated they did not take creatine and they ignore the obvious precursors: excessive and inappropriate training in a hot and humid environment."

About the ISSN: The International Society of Sports Nutrition is the only non-profit academic society dedicated to promoting the science and application of evidence-based sports nutrition and supplementation. www.theissn.org


Mashed taters and Bakes balsamic peaches - Creations

After interning all day, all I want to do is cook. Well, more like be creative in the kitchen. In an effort to enjoy my cooking experience, I typically have a small snack around 30 min before I start cooking or around 1 - 1/2 hrs before dinner is served. I think you'd agree with me that it is no fun feeling hungry and certainly, food isn't going to prepare itself...unless you defrost it in the microwave or order out. Typical snacks include veggies and cheese, cheese and a wasa cracker, milk or yogurt or nuts.
I typically brain storm about my meals throughout the day and think about previous meals in an effort to make sure that my last meal of the day rounds out the rest of the meals/snacks. I aim for balance, not perfection, so I don't feel as if I can ever go wrong with a dinner meal...even if it is an omelet or rice w/ veggies. I also think about the food in my place because I am not a recipe follower. I strongly encourage anyone reading my blog to be as creative as you can with my recipes. I don't measure my ingredients (although I put measurements as a guide) so I am all about mixing and matching my ingredients to make the finishing product balanced, healthy and of course, pretty to look at (presentation counts).

We had potatoes in our place and it had been a while since I made mashed potatoes. Super easy and quick. As you can guess, I don't do instant.

While the potatoes were cooking on the stove (you can cook them in the microwave for 7-10 min) I put a few veggies in the oven to bake. I wanted some color to my plate so I decided to be a little creative and bake sliced fresh peaches w/ a little balsamic. OMG....the peaches were DELICIOUS!!
Since my meal was lacking protein, I cooked a veggie burger in the microwave and chopped up a hardboiled egg.


College-style wraps and Tomatillo salsa - Creations

I say good bye to Recovery week + recovery weekend and HELLO to my LAST build before my 2-week IMWI taper. This might possibly be the most stressful week of my life with IM build and a final exam this coming weekend (due by Sun) but that's ok...I signed up for all of this, so I can't really complain. However, I do feel a bit disconnected with the outside world. Although stressful, the next 2 1/2 weeks will be enjoyable and memorable and I can't wait to see what awaits me at the end of this chapter of my life.

On Sun my preceptor and I had a lot of fun on the UNF campus for Week of Welcome (all new students/freshman). So many memories of my x-years of school. I've lost count by now :)

We handed out Tomatillo Salsa (which my preceptor made) and I created a flier for quick wraps. I also created a pamphlet promoting the VERB garden on the UNF campus. How awesome is that to have a garden on campus. The ECO club does a lot of really cool stuff on campus...kinda makes me wish I was a college student all over again.

I hope you enjoy these recipes...


Grilled Bok Choy and Wrap - Creations

Whenever I eat a new food and I don't really care for the taste of it, I like to say "I haven't yet learned to appreciate it".
I don't consider myself a super-picky eater but my preceptor likes to call people like myself "selective" eaters. I like the sound of that.
Karel, on the other hand, will eat anything and everything that is put in front of him. He makes for a great tester for my creations.

My preceptor gave me a full bag of veggies from her garden. Bok choy was one of the items and I wasn't quite sure if I was ready for a new green in my life. Romaine and spinach make me quite happy.
Well, after grilling the Boy Choy, I have decided that I appreciate a new green in my diet.
Bok choy is rich in fiber, potassium, and calcium. Did you know that 1 cup of bok choy has about the same amount of calcium as 1/2 cup of milk????
*FYI - 1 cup of milk meets around 1/3rd of your daily calcium needs.
Bok choy is also a good source of folate (vitamin B9) and has more beta-carotene (which gives carrots the orange color) than other cabbages. A cup of bok choy contains nearly the entire Recommended Daily Allowance for beta-carotene.

I hope you enjoy my grilled Boy choy recipe....as well as checking out an awesome recipe site for any and every type of wrap.

Wrap recipes


Eat Seasonally

My summer grocery budget is a lot higher than my winter budget. With an emphasis on plant-based, wholesome foods, I find myself splurging on the wonderful assortment of summer fruits and veggies. Oh do I LOVE LOVE summer fruits.
I recently created a pamphlet for UNF which I plan to hand out on Sun. I will be interning this Sunday at the University of North Florida where my preceptor and I will be doing a cooking demo for the back-to-school weekend. We will be feeding students (and parents) yummy raw and rice/bean wraps. I can't wait!
Inside my pamphlet, called "Powerful Nutrition From the Garden" I included a season guide for fruits and veggies. I also included 10 great benefits of eating local.....

Did you know that a typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table¹?

Top 10 benefits of farmers’ markets²:
1) Reduced need for packaging.
2) Direct contact and feedback between customer and producer on produce and prices.
3) Avoiding the middleman increases financial returns for local growers.
4) Improve diet by providing access to fresh and wholesome food.
5) Source of information on fresh ingredients.
6) Reduce food miles (ex. vehicle pollution, noise and fossil fuel use).
7) Encourage environmentally safe production practices (ex. organic or pesticide free).
8) Encourage social interaction.
9) Stimulate local economic development by increasing employment.
10) Fresh Food Tastes GOOD!

1) Pirog, Rich, and Andrew Benjamin. "Checking the Food Odometer: Comparing Food Miles for Local Versus Conventional Produce Sales in Iowa Institutions." Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, July 2003.

2) Certified Farmers’ Market. Retrieved Aug 8, 2010 from http://www.farmersmarkets.net/benefits.htm

Here's a great website to answer all your fruit and veggie questions (with a season fruit and veggie list)...

Fruits and Veggies More Matters


Rethinking our meals - Creations

I love being creative with my food. I am a food combiner and I love mixing together a lot of ingredients for one satisfying and yummy dish. In my eyes, there are no bad foods. Carbs are good, protein is good and fat is good. Brownies, muffins, bagels.. all fine in my eyes. However, if I were to eat them every day, I may be missing out on other parts of my diet and I may find it difficult (at times) to support my training/exercise routine. I think we would all agree that it is easy to overindulge in a few higher-calorie items as opposed to eating a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods. Often times, it takes a high quantity of a calorie-dense item to signal "fullness/satisfaction" compared to a high quantity of volume and nutrient dense foods like fruits and veggies.
Karel and I both enjoy reading ingredients. However, if we really want something as a treat, we aren't going pass on an item because of the nutrient fact label. If anything, it is likely that I am going to go with the "real" option (ex. real ice cream as opposed to splenda added, fat-free ice cream) rather than the heavily processed "healthier" (if that can be true??) option. A treat is on occasion, snacks are for every day. I have to admit, however, I don't crave very many processed, sugary or salty foods. Typically, I crave foods with little to no ingredients because my diet is very balanced and no food is "off-limits". By having a healthy relationship with food, I don't feel those intense cravings because I don't really have any "forbidden" foods. Certainly I emphasize and de-emphasize certain foods because of how they may affect my body, my blood sugar and my daily eating habits throughout the day but I enjoy my heart-healthy lifestyle and diet and I think that shows on a daily basis. In my opinion, it is not just about the food that you eat, when you eat and the calories that you eat but how you see your eating habits during the day and if you are fueling your body throughout the day. I also think people struggle with a healthy relationship with food because of the fear of being judged wherever you are..or perhaps, you judge yourself and you are too hard on yourself. Remember, aim for progress, not perfection. If you think it would be easier to eat healthy if you didn't work, if you didn't have kids and if you just stayed at home all day....well, that aint gonna happen...that's called life. If you are trying to wait for a non-stressful/busy day, weekend or week to "start" eating healthy, you may be stuck in an unrealistic and unmanageable way of thinking about your daily diet. Eating a balanced diet does not need to be complicated but you have to start somewhere.

Take a little time on a daily basis working on 1 part of your diet.

I recommend focusing on either breakfast, pre and post training/exercise nutrition or between meal snacks. Generally, people seeking changes in diet or performance focus on the evening food consumption but I believe it all starts with how you start your day. Those first few hours of your day are critical for how your body is going to perform throughout the day and how you are going to manage your food intake throughout the day. Telling yourself that you are "restricted" from an evening snack is likely not the cause of overeating in the evening. Perhaps by having more snacks throughout the day or adding more fat and protein to meals, can help you feel at ease with what and how much you eat during the evening hours.


Mexican night - Creations

I love Mexican food. I love the flavors and the food combination's. Realizing that restaurant/fast food Mexican entree's are not always balanced with a heart-healthy mix of macronutrients, I often find myself re-creating Mexican-inspired items at home.
If we are traveling, I love a great wrap from a local Mexican restaurant. If we are traveling, I want to feel satisfied and not eat the same foods that I eat at home. So when we do eat out (typically it is only when we travel. I think we eat out locally in Jacksonville about 2-3 times per year) I am not overly concerned with fat, calories, sodium, etc. Sure, healthy options, similar to my normal cuisine, will make me feel satisfied but I do not feel guilty or calorie-obsessed when dining away from the home. To me, a few times a year of enjoying something different is more of a treat rather than a diet sabotage. I love the way I eat every day of the year so eating well most of the time gives way to eating whatever I would like the rest of the time.
For example, eating Chiptole a few times per week is not only costly but not heart-healthy nor balanced to meet my daily lifestyle and exercise needs. However, 1 time during the summer is certainly not a horrible thing. Perhaps 1 time a week on a weekly basis is not such a horrible thing either. I think it all comes down to what we do the rest of the time. Perhaps people put too much pressure on themselves to eat well 100% of the time and when dining out on occasion (which is perfectly fine) the thoughts of feeling like a failure overwhelm any thoughts of enjoying the food that you really want because you don't eat it every day of the week.
Here's the nutritional breakdown of a Chipotle Tortilla:
13 inch tortilla, Rice, Beans, veggies, cheese, lettuce and tomato salsa:
685 calories
22g fat
9g saturated fat
1890 mg sodium

Certainly, eating a Tortilla at Chiptole (that satisfies your daily sodium and saturated fat recommendations in one meal) most days of the week isn't recommended for a heart-healthy diet. However, feeling guilty or restricted with your current diet because high calories or fat are forbidden in your diet, you are going to find yourself overwhelmed and restricted when you do decide to enjoy something that isn't part of your typical routine...and who wants to feel overwhelmed and restricted when you are hungry and in need of a satisfying meal.

I created a wonderful Mexican salad and homemade cornbread for the next time that you are getting a Mexican craving and want a heart-healthy homemade meal.


Vegetarian pregnancy


100 mile ride (5:24) was accomplished last Sun and 21 mile run (2:54) was accomplished yesterday. Today I rode 77 miles with Karel and it was windy and tough. Riding with Karel is not easy but it beats a 6 hr ride alone at my own pace. I ran 4 miles off the bike and felt great (33 min).
I am really happy to be 4-weeks away from IMWI. I GLADLY welcome recovery week but I am not going to take this recovery to the extreme over the next 7 days. My focus will be on keeping my body flexible and relaxed and rebuilding damaged tissues to encourage more strength gains. This last week was my 3rd week of build and the progression has been enjoyable and well-received...all thanks to my wonderful husband/coach. After this week I will have 1 week of build which will be race-specific and then I will be entering week 1 of taper. I can't believe it but in 3 weeks I will be finished with my community rotation (1 of 3 rotations) for my internship and I will be a few days away from participating in my 4th Ironman. WOW.

My recovery this weekend went really well and after getting some school work finished (and taking a quiz on sat after my long run) and eating wonderful recovery meals and snacks (thanks Laura for inviting us over for the cook-out last night!!! YUMMO!!) I went through my stack of magazines which are piling up in my place.

Vegetarian Nutrition Update is a practice group of the American Dietetic Association. Every time I receive the newsletter in the mail I feel so proud to be a vegetarian.
My latest issue (Volume XIX, Number 1, 2010) had a pull-out guide to Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy. Now I realize that many people reading my blog may not be pregnant or planning a pregnancy but perhaps we all know someone who may be approaching the world of parenting. The pull-out guide on Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy is perfect for all of us, regardless if you are a male or female. I find the information useful for any person seeking a more healthy and balanced lifestyle because the guide shows the importance of nutrients in the creation of a new life. Although I am an advocate of plant-based eating, it is an individual decision to be a vegetarian or eat semi-vegetarian or eat full vegan.

Here are the important nutrients needed during pregnancy...
(the guide was written by Christine Creighton, MS, RD)

Protein (71grams)
Builds new tissue and repairs cells
-Dried beans
-Soy products
-Nuts and nut butters
-Eggs (my tip: There is a TON of research out on the benefits of choline in the diet, which can be found in high quantity in egg yokes. As far as the current research goes, eggs, alone, are not the culprit to high cholesterol)
-Dairy products

Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA
Develops nerve and visual function
-Eggs from chickens fed a DHA rich diet
-Foods fortified with microalgae-derived DHA
(on pg. 13 of my newsletter there is a short article on a vegetarian omega-3 supplement which provides 600mg of EPA from yeast. You can find it on NewHarvest.com and search Vegetarian EPA)

Iron (48.6 mg)
Promotes tissue growth and increases blood supply
-Fortified cereals and breads: whole-grains
-Dark leafy greens
-Dried fruit
-Prunes and prune juice
*Include a source of vitamin C (ex. bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits) with meals to increase iron absorption. Avoid milk, tea and coffee with iron-rich foods, which may decrease absorption.

Folate (600 mcg)
Produce and maintain new cells, reduce the risk of neural tube defects
-Dark green leafy veggies
-Orange juice
-Wheat germ
-Enriched or whole-grain breads
-Enriched cereals
-Dried beans
-Supplements or fortified foods
*A daily intake of folate rich foods should be combined with 400µg of folic acid from supplements or fortified foods.

Zinc (11mg)
Tissue growth and function
-Fortified cereals
-Wheat germ
-Hard cheeses (ex. parmesan, asiago)

Iodine (220 mcg)
Hormone production
-Iodized salt

Calcium (1000 mg)
Build strong bones and teeth, help muscle and nerve function
-Fortified soymilk or rice milk
-Dairy products
-Some dark green leafy veggies (ex. broccoli, kale, collard greens, bok choy)
-Calcium-set tofu
-Fortified orange juice

Vitamin B12 (2.6 mcg)
Helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells
-Fortified cereals
-Fortified soymillk
-Vitamin B12-fortified nutritional yeast
-Milk and yogurt

Vitamin D (200 IU)
Help body use calcium to form fetal bones
-Cow's milk
-Fortified cereals
-Vitamin D-fortified soymilk
-Skin exposure to sunlight

As you can see, it doesn't take a lot of effort to nourish a vegetarian pregnancy. Meat-eater or not, it is important to prioritize a plant-based diet in order to provide the body with a variety of vitamins and minerals to encourage longevity, immune system support and energy.

If you are interested in raising vegetarian or vegan children, check out http://www.bostonveg.org/vegan_kids.html


Busy intern/athlete

What a week this has been. 3rd week of build for IMWI training and a busy week of being a dietetic intern.
I took Mon and Tues off from training. I typically don't take off two days in a row but as I laid in bed on Mon evening I really couldn't come up with a reason to train on Tues. I came up with about 10 reasons not to train and my first one was "I need sleep!"

My interning schedule is keeping me up late in the evening due to course work. 4:15am is my new 5:45am and I am getting use to rolling out of bed well before anyone else in my household. Well, Campy gets out of bed some mornings just to see if I will give him any PB from my pre-training snack but I don't want to get him in the habit of getting up when I get up so I always have to tell him "go back to bed with daddy". Typically, he listens :)
After interning at WIC (Women Infant and Children) with the health department all day on Tues (8am - 4:15pm) I gladly welcomed my workout on Wed.
Karel was away at Trek World on Mon - Wed so this has been an extra tough week balancing Campy, interning and training.
Wednesday workout was great. My friend Mallory joined me on the treadmill for her walk/run and I clicked away the miles for my "interval-ish" tempo run.
9.5 miles later (1 hour and 20 min) I was a sweaty mess and ready for a swim. I quickly did some hip, core, leg and arm exercises (circuit style) and hit the pool for a 3600 yrd swim.
I had my first counseling session on Wed and it went great! I am really learning a lot as an intern and it was nice to put my interning to action. I can't wait to do more one-on-one counseling!! I am trying to use motivational interviewing as my main source of counseling but I still have a lot to learn. It is hard to not educate during a session when someone wants to change dietary habits. However, sometimes it is best to just let the client counsel him/herself to get to the root of personal food/diet/weight issues. We all have the tools and knowledge to improve health but oddly enough, that knowledge doesn't always work. Sometimes we need to take a moment and address the bigger (or smaller) issues of our eating issues and find a way to reframe the situation and be more realistic and practical with our thinking/belief.

I gladly welcomed home Karel on Wed. We sure did miss him...Campy was SUPER happy! I read some chapters in my community nutrition book while Karel took a well-needed (short) nap.

Today was another busy day. I was on the trainer at 5am for a 1 hr and 45 min interval session. The ride was good and I was happy to catch up on my reality shows. Sometimes I need a break from all the professionalism in my life :) I always love a good laugh.
After the ride I put on my fuel belt (humidity was high this morning) and headed out for a 4 mile run. I averaged 7:40 min/mile for my run and I was pleased with my run. Campy was ready for his run when I returned so we quickly went for a mile run.

After I cleaned myself up, had a glass of milk w/ 1 tsp glutamine and made a super yummy oatmeal and fruit breakfast, I hit the road for St. Augustine.
I spent the day at Center for Living and had a wonderful day.
My preceptor and I did quarterly chart notes on the patients at the facility for a few hours and I can tell I am really improving on my notes and doing better with reading labs and addressing nutrition concerns w/ weight changes.
Lunch was at Manatees, a vegetarian restaurant. This has to be the best lunch I have EVER had!!!
I ordered the Breakfast Burrito:
Whole wheat tortilla, scrambled tofu, hummus, cheese, sprouts, sweet potato, avocado & salsa. Served with salad and basil vinaigrette

I can't tell you how many times during my lunch I said out loud "Oh my gosh this is SOOO good". I am not a fan of eating out because I rarely find vegetarian foods (that are filling, healthy and worth the money) that make me excited to order them...however, today I was excited to the max. YUM!

After lunch I gave an inservice to the Center for Living employees (one at 3pm and one at 3:30pm) on food safety, preparation and storage. I had everyone work in groups to fill in blanks of a handout I created and then we discussed the answers out loud. I gave a prize of chocolate to the winning team. I think everyone had a good time during the mandatory monthly inservice. I was a little nervous because food service/prep is a new area for me and I don't start my rotation until Mid Sept but it was a great experience for me and as always, I learned lots of new things.

Well, time to hit the books. Oh my, it is almost 8:30pm!! Looks like I'll be falling asleep with textbooks in my arms pretty shortly.....4:20am will be here before I know it. A 3 1/2 hr training session + a full day of private practice is on the schedule for Friday and then my LAST BIG training weekend for IMWI!!!


Redifining (fruity) Oatmeal - Creations

It all depends on the day and the workout. Some days my breakfast is later in the morning and some days it is early in the morning. I plan my breakfast dependent on my workout intensity and volume as well as when I am going to have lunch. I love a whey and fruit smoothie and dry cereal for a recovery drink/meal but it doesn't always keep me satisfied til lunch. Sometimes I plan for oatmeal and a big glass of milk.
I typically have a mid morning snack but sometimes I don't need one. I've learned over the past few months (with my IM training) that I need to plan for the day and not plan to have the same breakfast ever day. Similar foods, absolutely. However, a 3 hr morning workout compared to a 1 hour workout requires a completely different breakfast in an effort to properly refuel. After a few weeks of trying things out in the morning, I am 100% certain that breakfast is really the best way to start the day. I recover quickly from workouts and I feel energized throughout the day. Most importantly, by having a filling and satisfying breakfast I am not starving all day and I feel in control of what I put into my body.
And, when I come home at the end of a super long day, I am not too exhausted to spend a little outside quality time with my favorite chihuahua!


Dinner for One - Creations

Well, one human.... and one furry little one.

Pasta is too boring and an omelet is too easy. I decided to combine my favorite veggies, alongside some tofu and eggs and add in a little leftover pasta noodles. I think I have found my new favorite dish. Oh so comforting with my furry little ones.



Good (healthy) eats - Creations

Karel is off in Wisconsin. My only taster for my creations is my furry little friend...

This morning I got a text from Karel letting me know that it was pouring and lightening in Wisconsin and the start of the 100 mile Grand Fondo ride was postponed. In the early afternoon I received another text from Karel letting me know that he was in the 4 man break (although this is a group event, I guess several of the guys were ready to race), the course was shortened to 50 miles and the roads were really wet. It was windy and hilly. Karel was sprinting for the finish about to win the race......until he flatted with 300 meters to go.
Since I am working on reframing my sentences, rather than saying "what a bummer" I will say "well, at least he was in the 4-man break". Congrats Karel!
Karel ended up 6th in the event because he just rolled through the finish line with a flat front wheel. Jeff did awesome as well and both earned a nice cold beer after the race. Jeff and Karel LOVE going to Wisconsin for Trek World...or maybe for the beer?

I invited myself over to my best friend Laura's house for dinner. Laura's hubby travels all the time so I figured this would be a great time to catch up. Because my internship + IM training keep me busy, I really enjoy making time for my friends. She loves to entertain and we both love to eat/cook so what better way to end the weekend than Curried Tofu and Peanut Butter Banana nut mini muffins....yum!



Ummmm, perhaps I have been a bit too busy this week. Sorry for the lack of blogging. I have 1 more month of my community rotation and I am about to end week #2 (of 3) for my last big IM build before Wisconsin (37 days til race day, but who's counting?). Oh how the time flies...I seem to say that on a daily basis.

Interning schedule for the week:
Mon - Hospice at Mayo Campus (chart notes for patients)
Tues - University of North Florida (meeting and student patients in counseling center)
Wed - Working day to work on my community nutrition project with Unison facility employees
Thurs - Preferred Nutrition (private practice which specializes in eating disorder/binging/weight loss/bulimia/anorexia)
Fri - OFF!!!

What a week. My brain is really overflowing with information and I am struggling to find my place in this world as a future Registered Dietitian. I am in a hard place right now because I find myself constantly wondering "what is my philosophy?". What is it that I want to specialize in? I feel like it changes every day but I am staying true to living a healthy and balanced life.
My preceptor and her employees are amazing. I learn so much from her every day. I guess at times I feel overwhelmed by the amazing words that are spoken when working with eating disorder clients but at the same time it is absolutely amazing to know that a person has the opportunity to change and be healthy. We live in a crazy world and eating disorders are more common than we perceive them to be. So then I think about all of the many people out there striving for a more active life and for whatever reason, choose triathlons or running to improve health or meet weight goals. So then I find myself returning to my comfort zone and I find myself thinking about the science and physiology of the body and how we can improve performance, prevent injury and increase speed and power. I guess when it comes down to it, if we don't develop a healthy relationship with food, athlete or eating disorder patient/client, it is hard to make the most out of life.
I am currently browsing through a book called Counseling Tips for Nutrition Therapists by Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW. I will be working with my first patient, as a dietetic intern, next week and I am nervously excited. With my background in exercise physiology and sports nutrition, I am finding myself wanting to have a plan for my first counseling session (another RD will be in the room to "sign off" the paperwork since I am not licensed or registered with her company) but we all know, life has a way to make us deviate from plans.

A chapter that really stuck out to me in this book is titled
"Tip #10: REFRAMING"
The chapter is focused on clients who get stuck in ways of perceiving themselves and their world that won't allow change. A reframe can help shift a client out of a stuck place. Reframing a problem involves placing it in a different context (or frame) and thereby changing its meaning. Often, this means taking something seen as bad (problem) and shifting either its content or its context so it can be seen as useful rather than bad. The new perspective leads either to acceptance or to creativity about what to do differently.

For even myself, I think we all do this on a daily/weekly basis, especially when things don't go as planned or we expect too much from our self or from others.

Here's an example from the book:
Many clients refer to weight loss as the only outcome they want. "I need quick results" or "I'm not getting the results I want". Framing all life problems as being about weight keeps a person stuck. To get away from a rigid frame, it's important to explore what the weight loss will give a person. It may be "confidence" "feeling better about myself" or "a sense of control".
Expanding the "outcomes frame" to include larger goals can lead to addressing these goals in other ways while continuing to work on weight loss. Life is not a "black or white" world where a person fails in the reference of food or exercise habits. In a "progress not perfection" frame, you can practice new behaviors and find out which ones show promise to lessen anxiety and perhaps defeat. It takes a creative state of mind to generate reframes.

Without even realizing it, we (my blog readers) have all been on a wonderful journey of reframing. Rather than focus on athletic performance or weight loss/maintenance we are focused on health. There are no good or bad foods. I believe we should emphasize certain foods and de-emphasize certain foods but certainly ice cream, chips and french fries are not off-limit or forbidden. If you find yourself with forbidden foods, those foods only become more desirable, thus causing you to associate guilt when enjoying that occasion food. Perhaps, starting today, you can try reframing your thoughts to be more creative on how you approach your weight and athletic journey.

Here are some great reframing examples from the book to get you thinking more positively....
"For the taxes I pay, because it means that I am employed"

"For my aching muscles, because I am strong and able to work hard"

"For the alarm clock ringing much too early, because it tells me I am alive for another day"

"For the gutters that need fixing and the windows that need cleaning, because I have a home"

I'd like to leave you with a wonderful quote from the book
"It takes courage to demand time for yourself. At first glance, it may seem to be the ultimate in selfishness, a real slap in the face to those who love and depend on you. It's not. It means you care enough to want to see the best in yourself and give only the best to others"


Leftovers - Creations

I've been crunched for time lately. Hours turn into minutes and I find myself rushing out the door with no time to spare. Because I hate being late, I try to get as much done the night before in an effort to not feel too rushed in the morning. But despite waking up between 4:30 and 5am every day this week, I still find it hard to get it all done. However...at the end of the day, I sure feel great knowing that my plant-based diet is fueling my lifestyle and my IM training.

The other day I made a wonderful veggie medley which included veggies that aren't staples in my normal diet. I will be the first to admit that I don't love the taste of ALL veggies but I sure love to eat them. Therefore, I try to find a way to make them yummy in my tummy.
I made a delicious dinner the other night and was sure to have leftovers for lunch the next day.



Do you have a race coming up? I wrote my latest article just for you!
Check out my article and many other great articles in the Free Iron Girl newsletter....

As you count down the weeks and hours until your upcoming triathlon, you're likely nervously excited to put your training to the test. If you're like many athletes, you may be planning on "carb-loading" the night before in an effort to perform at an optimal level during the race. You can't help but enjoy an extra loaf of fresh-baked bread, alongside a large bowl of pasta, to top off your fuel tank. But surprisingly, carb-loading has a few drawbacks compared to its many advantages.

Carbohydrates are your primary fuel source. By consuming adequate carbs on a daily basis (around 55-65 percent of your daily caloric needs), your body will have enough stored fuel and immediate energy for exercise as well as for daily metabolic functioning. Muscles can store approximately 500 grams worth of digested carbohydrates (glycogen), meaning you'll have the opportunity to store up to 2,000 calories worth of potential fuel on the days leading up to your race.
Avoid excessively consuming carbohydrates, i.e. three bowls of pasta the night before a race, to overflow your fuel tank and ensure ample fuel on race day. Rather, taper your training volume while maintaining a normal healthy and balanced carb-emphasized diet. Carb-loading can be a very beneficial practice for an endurance event, but shorter-distance athletes will not need an extreme amount of carbohydrates on the days leading up to a race. For a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon, which typically require one and three hours of racing, forget about loading up on a heavy, calorie-filled carbohydrate meal and focus on a balanced meal, rich in slow digesting carbohydrates.

Although many athletes associate carbs with pasta, pretzels and bread, carbohydrates can be found in many nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, as well as protein-rich foods such as legumes and dairy products. Some foods break down quicker than others, a factor that is dependent on the food's glycemic index. While immediate energy through quick-digesting carbohydrates is most advantageous during exercise, as well as after exercise for transporting amino acids to the muscles for quick repair, your body will function most efficiently prior to exercise by consuming slow-digesting carbohydrates.

On the night before a race, aim for around 500 to 550 calories (+/- 50 calories) of primarily slow-digesting carbs; they should count for approximately 70 percent of your dinner meal. You can still have your pasta or pizza, but consider the other options of sweet potatoes, veggies, fruit, brown rice or quinoa. You'll also want to add in lean or low-fat protein, such as turkey, chicken, eggs, a veggie burger, tofu, milk, beans, cottage cheese or greek yogurt, as well as a little health fat such as olive oil, fish or nuts.

Avoid eating late the night before a race, especially when you will need to eat a pre-race snack at least two to three hours before your race start. Try to eat dinner around 5 or 6 p.m. so you have a few hours to digest your meal before getting a good night of sleep. Be sure to drink plenty of water on the days leading up to a race, and although it is recommended on a daily basis, it is highly encouraged to minimize processed and added sugar in the week or two leading up to your big race.

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 IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com.