Essential Sports Nutrition


Racing for a reason

I think most triathletes would agree with me when I say that we all race for a reason. Sometimes we don't know the reason when we start a triathlon journey but somewhere down the road, we begin to make goals and find it necessary to make sacrifices in life in order to accomplish those goals. As much as we would all like to live a balanced life 24/7, sometimes we are forced to put certain things on the back-burner in order to accomplish triathlon-related goals.
Over the past 39 weeks I have devoted my life to my dietetic internship. Although I was able to squeeze in a finish at Ironman Wisconsin at the end of my first rotation, I slowly found myself running low on energy when it comes to racing for a reason. As much as I love to train in order to race, I feel it has been necessary to give all my attention and focus to my internship. Sometimes in life you are forced to make decisions and often those decisions come with consequences. But sometimes those decisions come with rewards. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and for whatever reason, I have been given a great opportunity to be in NOLA with Karel and Campy and try to relax a little. Although I am squeezing in studying at every opportunity I have (quiz tomorrow and final next weekened!), I haven't really thought much about my internship and my busy and tiring days.
Enjoying my time with Karel, as he takes care of the Jacksonville triathletes by fixing up their bikes, is just what I needed. I thought this would be tough to sit on the sidelines and watch a race that I was signed up for, but instead I feel no remorse that I not participating in the race tomorrow. Rather, I am reflecting on the positives in my life, specifically, I'm thinking about my upcoming week.
Rather than spending my energy on a 70.3 race, I am saving my energy for my last 4 days of interning. I feel like my internship has been one big race...a race that has forced me to overcome so many obstacles and at the same time, has forced me to be challenged in so many ways, in order to be a better person. While at first the "race" seemed easy, it certainly got difficult and sometimes I debated the thought of even reaching the long-awaited finish line.

I have such respect for athletes who race for a reason. For everything in life has a reason. Sometimes we don't know the reason and sometimes the reason doesn't display itself for weeks or months, but in the end, we all make sacrifices and overcome obstacles in order to accomplish our goals. Life is a race and I'm so happy to be a participant on a daily basis.


Bursting Flavors

I love it when a meal has so many flavors for my taste buds. I have really learned to love different textures, flavors and temperatures in a meal. I often find myself combining cold and hots foods as well as savory and spicy foods. It takes a little creativity to find what will work best for your current taste buds but don't be afraid to play around in order to create new habits as you try new foods.

I hope you enjoy my latest dinner meal, followed by a yummy meal for my lunch break at St. Vincent's hospital. Enjoy!

Want to learn more about Tempeh?

Tempeh Salad w/ carrot slaw
carrot slaw:
pineapple, carrots (equal parts) + lemon juice + fresh ginger (about 1/8-1/4 tsp)

Tempeh (cooked with a little olive oil)

Extra's: Strawberries, raisins, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese




Restaurant-style Salad

I made a quick stop at Big Lots on my way home from interning, in order to pick up a few goodies for our trip to NOLA on Fri. I will not be racing so expect a blank time behind my name if you check the results. I could not be happier with my decision not to race (which was made about 2 weeks ago) and I am really looking forward to a well-needed semi-vaca with my wonderfully, supportive hubby and my furry best friend. Neither one of them have been to NOLA so I am excited for us all to be together. Plus, I am excited to meet new friends and cheer on the many Jacksonville athletes participating in the race.
After my internship is complete, I will go into detail regarding my hip flexor strain that occurred 8 weeks ago. Right now I am trying to save my brain cells for the hospital but it wouldn't be fair of me to not share my injury and rehab with others, in an effort to help you all gain strength and balance with your body. I have been struggling with Rt hip and glute/piriformis pain for the past 3 years, so I have a feeling this injury has been in the making since pre-Kona 2007 (although my recent strain was on the other side). Although I have not ran in 8 weeks, I feel stronger than ever! I guess you can say that this was an injury that I can have a positive attitude about and learn from. After an excruciating Ironman World Championships in 2007, I swore to never do another race as an injured athlete. More than anything, with my philosophy of keeping life balanced, I knew it was important to be a role model to others and not let my training mentality get the best of me. Having a relationship with food has allowed me to enjoy exercise during the past 8 weeks (all while interning) and focus on the weakness's in my body. Because my "injury" occurred secondary to many years of sitting and not having strong glutes, adductors, pelvic structure and lower core (and not to overtraining), I have dedicated the past few weeks to strength training, water jogging, the elliptical, cycling (lower volume and intensity) and stretching. I have to say, as an athlete who has worked very hard to respecting my body and loving myself for who I am and not for a number on a scale, it has been amazing to see my body transform over these past few weeks of no running. My hamstrings and glutes are stronger than ever and because of my aggressive rehab/strength that I designed for myself, I couldn't be more excited for this summer of training and racing. I am really excited to share my glute-activating, hamstring-building, pelvic alignment plan so please bear with me as I hold on to any extra energy that I have during the last few days of my internship.
I am almost certain I can run right now (since I haven't had any pain in my hip/leg for the past 2-3 weeks) but I am taking all the necessary precautions to finish my internship feeling healthy and strong and on a high note as I enter the next chapter in my life. With an upcoming "RD" behind my name after I pass the National Registered Dietitian Exam, I could not be more excited to train for the Ironman World Championships.
While losing the money of a race fee may hurt at first, one can't possible justify a few hundred dollars when you think of the investment of racing with an injury or "trying" to get through a race without the proper training. In my opinion, this is my lifestyle, not my life and there are plenty of future races for me. So long as I can exercise to keep my body and mind healthy and happy, I don't mind losing a race fee if it means not having to pay for MRI's, bone scans, x-rays, rehab (time and money) and above all, living with the feeling for weeks or months (possible a year) that I didn't respect and be patient with my body during a precious time of healing.

While I was in Big Lots I found a bag of trail mix and noticed the following:
"Kar's Nuts uses only the finest ingredients to make great-tasting snacks. We welcome your comments"

Here's the ingredient list, with the finest ingredients:
Confectionery coating (sugar, vegetable oil (fractionated palm kernel), cocoa (processed with alkali), nonfat milk, whey, lecithin (an emulsifier) and vanillin (an artificial flavor), sugar, coloring (includes blue #2 lake, blue #1 lake, red #40 lake, yellow #6 lake, yellow #6, yellow #5 lake, blue #1), gum arabic, corn syrup, confectioner's glaze (carnauba wax, beeswax, and shellac). Peanuts roasted in peanut and/or cottonseed oil, raisins, sunflower kernels roasted in peanut and/or cottonseed oil, salt.

How about my Restaurant-style Salad....nothing but the finest ingredients:

Romaine lettuce
Pineapple chunks
Sunflower seeds
Hardboiled egg


Being creative with Greek yogurt

From April Nutrition Action

What is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is strained, so even fat-free versions are thick and creamy.
And the lost liquid means that the yogurt that's left has twice the protein of ordinary yogurt (or milk) - about 17 grams in 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt. That's not trivial for people who have cut back on meat, fish and poultry.
Many people assume that yogurt is rich in protein because an 8 oz container (which used to be typical) of plain yogurt had 8g of protein, just like a glass of milk. But once companies add sugar and fruit-and now that yogurt containers are 4-6 ounces-there's less room in the tubs for yogurt, which means less protein.
A 4 oz tublet of Breyers Smooth and Creamy, Dannon Light and Fit 60 Calorie Packs of yoplait Fiber One, for example, has just 3g of protein. that makes Greek yogurt even more impressive.
On the downside, Greek yogurt has less calcium than ordinary yogurt. A 6oz container of Dannon All Natural Plain (non-Greek) has 30 percent of the Daily Value for calcium. Six ounces of Fage or Chobani plain Greek yogurt have 20 percent.
And Greek yogurt is pricer. (Ditto for and Siggi's strained Icelandic yogurt). They may be luxuriously creamy, but you'll pay around $1.30-$2.50 for a 6 ounce cup.

My suggestion as an active athlete and lover of healthy food, Non-fat Plain yogurt will provide you with a great source of calcium and protein either as a snack or in a post workout treat. Additionally, I recommend for all at least 1-2 cups/d of skim (or your choice of calcium AND protein-rich milk) to boost your intake of calcium and protein. If neither is an option for your diet, I recommend 1-2 Calcium + vit D pills (at least 500 mg calcium per pill + around 400-600 IU vit D per pill)

I created a wonderful meal the other day with greek yogurt and it made my tummy super happy. I would like to share it with you...Enjoy!

Greek yogurt wrap w/ sauteed onions, asparagus and corn

Whole wheat wrap
Greek yogurt
Shredded cheese

Onion (1/2 medium)
Olive oil

1. Steam asparagus and corn.
2. Sauté sliced onion rings in a little olive oil on low heat. Toss occasionally.
3. When onions are finished cooking, remove from pan and cook egg to your liking (I did sunny-side up)
4. Warm wrap for 15 sec. Spread with a large spoonful 0% plain Greek yogurt and top with shredded cheese and chopped spinach (about a handful). Roll it up.



Lately, I haven't been so great about blogging my yummy creations. Please believe me that I am still cooking all my meals but my creativity has been lacking. Not to mention my camera that has been very bored throughout this last part of my internship. However, even if time is not on my side, my health is still my top priority. For the last 16 weeks (my clinical rotation) I have eaten breakfast every day, have prepared my lunch at home all but 3 times and have made a fresh dinner every night.
I have to say, never had I had to sacrifice so many things in my life!! Although graduate school was difficult and time consuming, I was not an IM athlete, I was not married and I did not have 3 furry children. So while I have sacrificed my training routine, my anticipated races, social events and traveling with my hubby, I have not sacrificed by love for exercise and wholesome food.

In the April 2011 issue of Nutrition Action there was a great article on Yogurt. Here are a few facts (YOGURT 101):
1. What makes yogurt?
Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Those are the two strains of bacteria that companies add to milk to make yogurt. Many brands also add other bacteria.
2. If the label doesn't have a "Live and Active Cultures" symbol is it still yogurt?
Almost certainly. As long as it contains live L. Bulgaricus and S. thermophilus, it's yogurt. To qualify for the symbol, a yogurt has to have at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time it's manufactured. Some companies (like Stonyfield) don't use the symbol, even though they could (provided they pain the National Yogurt Association yearly fee). Just watch out for yogurt-covered pretzels and candies. Their "yogurt" coatings are largely oil and sugar. And any yogurt powder they contain has likely been "heat treated" enough to kill the yogurt's bacteria.
3. What can yogurt's cultures do?
The only well-documented benefit: they turn milk's naturally occurring sugar (lactose) into lactic acid, so people who are lactose intolerant have less diarrhea, gas or other symptoms when they eat yogurt. Many people believe that yogurt can help restore beneficial bacteria to the gut after a course of antibiotics, but no good studies have tested yogurt with live cultures against a placebo (yogurt with heat-treated cultures). Ditto for treating yeast infections.
4. What are the best yogurts?
Yogurt should be a decent source of protein and calcium without loading you down with saturated fat, sugar, or unsafe sweeteners. Just how much is enough (or too much) of each depends on the serving size. Some brands add 10-50 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin D. But missing vitamin D isn't a reason to pass over some of the best-tasting calcium and protein-rich yogurts, many of which have no added D.

Coming soon...a yummy creative dish with Greek Yogurt!