Essential Sports Nutrition


A little R&R

I'm off to Napa Valley for the Oakley Women ambassador fitness retreat. I'm really looking forward to meeting new people, a change in weather, making new friends and more than!!

A 5k, Trek bike tour w/ wine tasting, yoga, hiking....looks like my itinerary is jammed packed so I am sure I will be taking lots of pics. As for the blogging and emailing....we will see if I have any free time and what I choose to do with it :)

I'm looking forward to previewing the brand new, premier line of Oakley clothing and sunglasses and eating lots of fabulous food from out west.

Off I go for a long day of traveling and 4 days of fun and activity!


RD exam "race" report

I suppose it would be uncharacteristic of me to not write a "race" report of my RD exam experience. After spending the last 2 days reflecting on my passing grade (although, I am still in disbelief) I am now ready to write my report.

The days leading up to the exam (after many weeks of serious studying) felt very similar to getting ready for the start of an Ironman. The only difference was that with an Ironman, EVERYONE knows the "BIG" day. In contrast, I only told 2 people that I was taking the exam on Tues June 21st to alleviate any added pressure.
Over the past week, I was filled with emotions and couldn't help but reflect on all the hard work that I did to get to the RD exam starting line.

I viewed this exam as anything else important and worth-while in my life. Anyone can consider training for an Ironman although only a handful reach the starting line. Then there are the select few that reach the finish line (there are no guarantees with an Ironman, no matter how "perfect" you train). For it isn't about fitness ability or speed in reaching the finish line of a long distance race but rather having trust in your plan and being smart about your decisions. The well-known quote, "If it was easy, anyone could do it" is a saying that can be used for many things in life.

I have crossed four Ironman finish lines and have felt very prepared for three out of four of them. Despite being injured on the starting line in Kona in 2007, I still went into the race feeling confident about my swim. As for IMFL, IMKY and IMWI, I was able to predict the times for my "perfect" race and "if something out of my control happens" to the minute, primarily because I trusted my plan and believed in myself. For on race day, I know exactly what my body is capable of doing because I trained it to do so. Having said that, I am well-aware of my boundaries when racing, for if I cross them, I may not be able to reach my ultimate goal(s) because I would be forcing my body to do something that I had not trained it to do in training.

But as for the RD exam, this was a time in my life that I felt extremely nervous and I didn't like the feeling of not being in control. And if my mentality and preparation for an Ironman race describes my enjoyment of focusing on the controllables and not wasting my energy on things out of my control, it would not surprise you that I completely exhausted my options in preparing for this exam and was extremely overwhelmed by the exam.

Just like studying the terrain, weather and logistics of an Ironman race, "training" for the RD exam was only one component of feeling prepared. It was important to me that I knew what the exam was going to look like, example questions that may be on the exam, the set-up/time limits of the exam and what to expect when taking the exam. It was also very important that I did not "exhaust" myself so nutrition, sleep exercise, and not overstudying (per day) were important components as well.

The $365 Inman review course prepared me everything listed above. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into as far as what to expect for the exam because Mrs. Inman knew first hand what the exam would be like. I admit I searched on dietetic forums several times in order to get advice on how to take the exam, but unfortunately I only made matters worse for myself because I doubted my own preparation and began to read posts from people who had failed the exam, 3, 5 or 8 times!!!

I think this is one area where athletes miss the mark. Forums and advice from others is great, but everyone has a different point of view and comes from a different background. Regardless if you have a coach, many athletes do not trust their own training plan and feel the need to obtain last minute advice on the days leading up to an event. While the advice may be helpful, more often in not, last minute advice from others provide last minute fears that you did everything wrong and that your doomed for failure before you even begin.

For example, one person on a forum will tell you that a course is extremely hard and has the scariest descends you will ever see and another person will tell you how beautiful the course is and that it has only a few "bumps". After you stop freaking out on the 2 days before a race (which you signed up for a year in advance) only do you find out that the first reference is from a person from pancake flat Florida and your other reference is from an ex-elite mountain biker who lives in Colorado. Of course, you didn't know that cause you took advice on a forum and now you are scared out of your mind because you feel unprepared for the upcoming "hilly" event.
I'm smiling right now because this sounds like many conversations between Karel and myself. He will tell me that he is going for an easy ride and will ask if I want to come and of course, I'm huffing and puffing trying to stay on his wheel. Easy??? Maybe for the Category 1 cyclist :)

So after taking the review course, I was ready to make the call and set up my appointment date at FSCJ (Downtown Campus) which was one of the 200+ ACT testing centers that provides the CDR RD Exam. The date was set and I was locked in..unless I changed my mind and provided 48 hours before the exam in order to change my appointment. I held myself accountable to taking the exam before July and since the end of my internship I knew exactly when I would be most prepared for the exam and how I would make the most of my 2 months in preparing for the exam.
This entire dietetic journey has been filled with steps and even at the end of my journey, it always seemed like there was always one more thing to do in order to be eligible for the exam.
Here are the requirements in becoming a Registered Dietitian and maintaining your status after passing the exam:
1) Completion of a bachelor’s degree by an American Dietetic Association accredited program (I completed a verification statement since I had previous degrees, but still had to do the same requirements by an accredited University)
(2) Completion of a minimum of 900-1200 supervised practice hours in the areas of management, diet therapy, counseling and research (I think the new number is 1200 hours to be eligible, but my internship was a 10 month, 1200+ hour internship program)
(3) Successful completion of a nationally-administered board examination (YIPPEE....I passed!!)
(4) Completion of 75 hours of approved continuing education credits in their practice area every five years to maintain their registration status. (I will receive my packet from the CDR very shortly, telling me what I need to do to keep up with my credential. Right now I will need to obtain my License from the state because all RD's are required to be Licensed in the state of Florida).
(5) Compliance with a code of ethics established by the American Dietetic Association which conveys to the patient/client a guarantee of ethical and accurate nutrition advice.

I felt as prepared as I could be on the day before the test and after 4 weeks of serious studying (in addition to my 10 month internship which prepared me very well) I went to bed with many positive thoughts. Of course, with the many positive thoughts came the negative ones and I tried so hard to push them out. Not so easy when you feel a lot of pressure to pass a $200 exam.

I did not set on alarm on Tuesday morning and did not feel the need to train/exercise. I wanted to be sure I had every brain cell possible for my exam so the last week has been very casual as far as training. I tried to just go with the flow and do what makes me happy, properly re-fuel and give at least 5 hours a day to studying. So, I let my body tell me what it wanted to do on Tuesday (test day!) and after waking up without an alarm at 6:30 and walking Campy, I decided to do a relaxing 1:15 spin on the trainer (while clearing my mind and watching TV) and one Campy-mile with my furry best friend. Exercise has a fantastic way of lifting emotions but if done too much and without balance in mind, it can also leave you exhausted to the point of no return. Luckily, I have lots of experience with training and I am happy that I have found the right balance at this point in my life.
Karel left early for the beach (to train and work) but he provided several positive words of encouragement which really made me feel at ease.

I showered and tried to eat a protein-rich breakfast but I kinda had no appetite due to stress, nerves and a rush of emotions. I had a tall glass of skim milk and made french toast (smeared with PB) and a side of fresh fruit and yogurt. Nothing more comforting if you ask me...unless you offered me pizza, then I would have happily accepted the second option :)

I gave myself plenty of time to get to the testing center (14 miles away) just as I do with my races. I'd rather be at the race venue, calm, cool and collected rather than rushing around and freaking out. I found my way to the testing center with no problem and took a few deep breaths before I entered the room. Kinda wish I had my HR monitor during this testing HR was all over the place!

I was asked to sign several papers and they also took my picture. I was placed in a room all by myself (thank goodness because I am not known to be the best test taker especially with distractions) and sat down in a cubicle with a computer. I was given a non scientific calculator which I tested every button to make sure it worked. Based on my experience with RD exam practice questions and my internship, there is one thing that is a necessity if you are a dietitian. You can't do anything without a CALCULATOR!

I had to check several boxes on the computer screen saying that I would agree to the rules of the CDR in taking the exam and at 10:30am, my 2 1/2 hour time limit began.

The test has a minimum of 125 questions and a max of 145 questions. There were 20 pre-test questions which are not counted toward the score but I didn't know which ones they are. I must of spent 15 minutes on the first 4 questions because I was so overwhelmed that I was actually taking the RD exam. I just watched the clock tick away but didn't let it bother me too much.

I finally settled into a grove and with every questions, I carefully read it, re-read it and tried to think of the answer before I read the 4 options. I am not allowed to provide any information about the exact test questions but for future RD's, my best advice is to read the question carefully. I feel that the most important thing in being a dietitian is having good ethics and for many of the subjective questions (community, education and management domains) there wasn't always a RIGHT answer that stuck out (like it would with food service or clinical) but rather you had to think about yourself in the situation in order to select the BEST answer.

In order to give you an idea of the sample questions that I used for the exam, here are a few study guide questions from my review resources (none of which were on my exam):

1) How many #8 scoops of applesauce could be served from a #10 can?
2) The most suitable material for kitchen walls is? (ceramic tile, quarry tile, wallboard, fiberglass)
3) The theory exemplified by managers exerting direct control over their employees is? (MBO, McGregor's theory X, Maslow's Hierarchy of Human needs, McGregor's Theory Z)
4) Inventory, when listed on a balance sheet, is an example of a/an? (asset, liabiliy, loss, new worth)
5) According to a Medicare regulation what is the max time span allowed between a substantial evening meal and breakfast? (8 hrs, 10, 12, 14)
6) Which of the following is not a bacterium associated with fresh meat products? (Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella, Staph aureus, clostridium botulinum)
7) Moist cooking is the method of choice to achieve max tenderness with which of the following products? (rib steak, loin steak, ground beef, round)
8) What sequence below produces the best egg white foam for use in meringues?
9) What is the major difference between a person suffering from starvation and a person suffering from stress after major surgery? (glycogenolysis, metabolic rate, gluconeogenesis, lipolysis)
10) The use of food additives found to be carcinogenic when ingested by man or animal is prohibited by? (GRAD, Delaney clause, Wagner Act, American Cancer Society)
11) Which of the following nutrients is necessary for the metabolism of carbs?
a) copper, phosphorus, iron
b) copper, riboflavin, phosphorus
c) thiamine, phosphorus, magnesium
d) thiamine, copper, iron
11) A patient receives 300 ml of a 5% dextrose solution, how many calories does that provide?
12) The drug isoniazid may cause the deficiency of what vitamin?
a) vitamin C
b) niacin
c) vitamin B6
d) vitamin B12
13) A 1500 calorie diabetic diet with 45% of calories from carbs is prescribed. One third of the carbohydrate requirements can be met with 1/2 cup orange juice, one cup of milk and:
a) 1 slice toast
b) 2 slices toast
c) 2 slices toast and 1/2 cup oatmeal
d) 1/2 slice toast
14) If a patient is receiving MAOI drugs, which of the following foods should be avoided?
a) beef liver
b) corn
c) milk
d) aged cheese
15) Numerical description of how much observations differ from one another are called?
a) sampling distributions
b) measures of variability
c) frequency of distribution
d) standards of deviation

I was told to be prepared for 145 questions and 2 1/2 hours for the exam. But when I approached question #123, there was a chance that I would be finished at question #125. Of course, I was very convinced that I failed because many questions were new to me and I had trouble deciding on the best answer. I suppose these tests have a way of making you narrow it down to two answers, which of course, are so similar it is hard to make the best educated guess if you don't know it.
Luckily, I knew the answers to question #124 and #125 and after selecting the answer for #125, the screen shut off and I was told that I finished the exam.

My heart started beating very fast and I knew what was coming next. My score??? Of course, not.....6 or 8 survey questions about the testing center. So I'm clicking away, not knowing when my results were going to be totaled and with my heart nearly beating out of my chest, the screen I had been waiting for, for the past 3 years finally appeared.

" passed"

There were a few sections with my scores from the domains and my scaled score of 27. I was convinced that I was taking the exam again in 45 days and even with my results, I could hear myself out loud saying "oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I can't believe it. You passed Marni". I must have sat there for 5 minutes before I went to the main desk to sign-out, give back my white board sheet and calculator and obtain my printed out result sheet.

I imagined myself running to the car to call Karel and my parents but I took my time to soak in what just happened. With my eyes filling up with tears, I was filled with emotions.

These same emotions come to me when I finish an Ironman. I do not feel I deserve anything in life because life isn't easy. But while I may not deserve things, I do feel as hard work provides a person with rewards. It's funny because we can't always recognize the rewards when they happen because we often receive them when we least expect them. But sometimes, they come right at the perfect time.

I have worked so hard for this goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian because I wanted it so very badly. This experience has provided me with an enormous amount of knowledge which allows me to be qualified to legally assess, diagnose and treat medical conditions. There is a large group of Registered Dietitians who have all met the minimum requirements of earning those two letters behind their name and I proud to be one of them. Because there are a lot of "nutrition experts" out there, I am most proud that I took a little chunk of time out of my life to do the right thing. It is in the best interest to the profession of dietitians and to the public, that I adhere to the Code of Ethics (prescribed by the American Dietetic Association) and be professional when providing my philosophy of nutrition and exercise in helping other reach individual weight and fitness goals.



I would like to share my philosophy in how I live my life...
Step 1: Set a goal and don't be afraid of the journey or the length of time it takes to reach the goal
Step 2: Be prepared for the hard work, recognize/acknowledge your strengths and weakneses and accept the temporary sacrifices
Step 3: Believe in yourself. Do not give up!
Step 4: Celebrate your achievement
Step 5: Reflect
Step 6: Repeat (with a new goal)

I believe there is a big difference in wanting something and working hard for something. I saw a quote the other day that spoke very loud to me.
"When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there."
I think this quote relates very easily to those seeking body composition changes or performance gains but to me, I take away something different from this quote. It's easy to want something really bad in life because it looks so great when someone else has it. But it isn't until you start working hard for it, will you treuly realize that you are required to give no less effort to getting "it" than the next person. And for many of us, we often have to work 10x harder than the next person, just to receive the same results.
To truely understand the difference between wanting something and working hard for something, just think of a child (or teenager). It is incredibly easy to want, want and want everything that others have (both physically and materialistically). But when it comes to working hard for "it", one can quickly realize whether or not it is truely "worth it". If you want it bad enough, it is worth working hard for it.

Coming from an athlete's perspective, I think we would all agree that it takes a lot of hard work to reach our athletic goals. For without proper training, the body is not placed under the right types/forms of stimuli that is necessary for us to get stronger, faster and more powerful. Same with body composition changes...we all love our comfort zone and what makes us feel good. For it is the unknown that we fear. So while changing the diet may seem like hard work, if you truely want it bad enough, you will learn to appreciate the balanced and realistic changes that you are making in order to reach your ultimate goal. In more cases than not, those changes for the end goal become part of your lifestyle and never go away.

With both body training/exercise and nutritional goals, I think most people would put hard work and sacrifice in the same sentence. For if you are not making sacrifices you aren't working hard enough. Or the opposite, if you are working hard enough you will quickly recognize the sacrifices that you are making. But here lies the problem with so many people attempting to reach their goals. When it comes to achieving a goal, life shouldn't become mundane. Neglecting to give hard work to other important areas in your life, will often leave you wondering if this initial goal of yours is really worth it? Often, this is the point that many people give up. Life becomes imbalanced, excuses are made and goals begin to slip away as you search deep inside of yourself for the real reason why you wanted the goal in the first place. For it is rarely about the goal in and of itself but rather who you become throughout the journey.

More than anything, it is important to love what you do on a daily basis for you only have one shot at making the most out of your days here on earth. Sure, life presents challenges and requires a high level of commitment if you want to reach your goals, but you there needs to be some kind of enjoyment factor in what you view "hard work". If your "hard work" starts to get in the way of more important things in life, it is essential that you step away for a minute (or a day) and realize that that goal achievement is all about the journey. For it is the journey that makes the person something great.

If you are feeling run-down and tired and often find yourself emotionally unraveling by the second, redefine your goals. For hard work and sacrifice requires energy and a positive outlook on life. You must love what you do as you work toward your goal and recognize that it is in the process that you will really become someone that you never thought you could be in life.

It was 11 years ago that I called myself a College Freshman.AHHH, what to do with my life??? I thought medical school but I quickly realized that my love was for exercise. Fast forward 4 years, I became a University graduate (Transylvania University in Lexington, KY) with a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. I somehow managed to divide my time between studies and swim practice, helping me earn honors as an All-American swimmer, being on the Dean's list and being the 2004 President of the Exercise Science Club.
Wanting to pursue higher education (for a career with Strength and Conditioning), I found myself with an assistantship/scholarship at Florida Atlantic University (Davie, FL). Missing my swimming teammates, I decided to train for a marathon while spending the rest of my time researching during the day and learning in Graduate classes at night. At the time, this was one of the most stressful and overwhelming periods of my life but somehow, I managed to finish for my first marathon and finish graduate school. I also squeezed in a few triathlons on my super cool Giant hybrid bicycle. Looking back (reflecting), it was in my last semester of graduate school that I took an elective undergraduate course on Nutrition. It was then that I really saw my love for nutrition and exercise begin to blossom.
With no money and a spare room in my parents new home in the Tampa Bay area, I took an internship at the World Triathlon Corporation (then in Tarpon Springs, now in Tampa) and it was there that I met Judy (from Iron Girl) who welcomed me into a whole new world of what it really means to be passionate about all things fitness. After the 6 month internship, I welcomed a year of work at the YMCA as a wellness coordinator, while teaching spin classes and personal training but desired more in my life. I also met my amazing husband Karel who taught me to get out of my routine and to not be so afraid of setting higher goals for myself.

There were many reasons behind the goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian but never did I think that it would be so challenging and difficult. From distance accredited classes, to local pre-req classes to then applying to internships. Errr, getting rejected from competitive internships. Two years later after starting my dietitic journey (and one Ironman finish in August 2009), I finally got accepted to Marywood University (distance dietetic internship program). I can't forget getting married and welcoming my furry best friend (Campy) into my life.
With three filled rotations (community, food service/management and clinical) squeezed into 10 months and over 1200 hours and my fourth Ironman finish (Sept 2010), I could see the finish line in reaching my goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian.

While spending the last two months, studying for the National RD exam, I had many opportunities to reflect on all of the many sacrifices I made in reaching my goals. I recognized my strengths in my passion (exercise) and focused on my weakness (medical nutrition therapy). I put in a lot of hard work over the past 11 years and with every accomplishment came a series of obstacles which were very difficult, stressful and overwhelming. It was never easy but I always searched for some type of joy/excitement to keep me going. For at times, training for an Ironman was my "stress-free time" and for other times, a walk with Campy after a 10 hour day at St. Vincent's Hospital was the most relaxing part of my day. But no matter what I was doing, I tried really hard to stay passionate about my goal and keep some type of balance in mind.

"Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control"

So....for the first time ever....

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD

Step #4 and #5 are currently in the works. As for Step #6, my list is long :)

To my blog readers: Thanks for your support and for believing in me.


Too many fruits on a salad?

First off, a very Happy Father's day to the best Dad ever.

My dad has supported me in all of my crazy adventures and has never given up on me, even when I wanted to give up on myself. He always has a way of making me see the brighter side and he can always make me laugh and smile. Love you dad, you are one amazing happy you are mine!
And to all those amazing fathers out there, I hope you enjoyed your special day.

When I am about to make a Marni "salad" creation, I first look inside my fridge and see what produce I have to work with. I don't like to limit myself to only veggies so in my mind, it is not possible to have too many fruits on a salad. Enjoy!

Fruity vegetable salad
Romaine lettuce or Spinach
Green peppers
Garlic (chopped)
Choice of protein (I used a hard-boiled egg)

(brown bowl for Karel, pink bowl for me)