6/30/11

Napa Food and planning your diet

I love being inspired by food. I take pride in the meals that I prepare and I also enjoy the foods that I put in my body. As a health conscious individual, when I see food, I see vitamins and minerals - good for my mind, brain and body. As an endurance athlete training for the Ironman World Championships, I see food for fuel - helping to keep me energized before and during workouts and to help me repair and refuel after workouts. As a lover of yummy food, I don't see calories, carbs or fat when I eat. While this mindset did not develop over night, I worked hard over the last few years to develop a healthy relationship with food. I do not fear an occasional dessert for when I eat well most of the time, I don't have to worry about the rest of the time. More so, my daily diet supports occasional treats (I don't believe in "cheat" days..such a harsh word to associate with food, especially since the word in other contexts is viewed as a horrible thing) whenever they come. Because I believe we have a lot of control over what we put into our body, we have the ability to plan ahead to control our cravings, appetite and intake.

I enjoyed every bite of the amazing food provided to me in Napa. I love new food and there was plenty of it on the West Coast. From fresh figs, to homemade granola to the most delicious selections of sauteed and fresh greens and vegetables. Every meal made me incredibly excited.

If you struggle with finding the right balance as fitness enthusiast, athlete or health-conscious individual, try the following:

On a piece of paper do the following (in order):
1) Write down when you are going to exercise/train (sport, intensity and duration).
2) If the workout is first thing in the morning plan your post training recovery snack (preferably protein + carb, around 100ish calories per hr of training). Depending on the intensity and duration (and phase of training), you may not need a pre training snack (coffee is fine). As a start (since we like to work our way up in calories), if the workout is around an hour and low intensity (within 45 min of waking), you may be fine without a pre training snack and water during training. If the workout is more than an hour after waking, is more than 90 min or is high intensity, plan to have a snack (most of my athletes find that 125-200 calories for a 1-2 hour workout sits well around 45-60 min prior to training) of carb and protein such as toast w/ PB or 1/3 cup oatmeal w/ nuts. Your pre training snack may vary depending on the workout so keep an open mind as you plan your perfect pre training snack which may be used on race day. Plan easy to make, easy to buy foods (most race venues will not have a whole foods or trader joes within walking distance so keep it simple).
3) After you plan your pre and post training snacks (if not training first thing in the morning and not eating within an hour of waking, I always recommend a protein pre-meal snack when you awake such as yogurt, milk, eggs or whey protein. No need to fear carbs, but likely they will be included in your breakfast), then plan your breakfast. We all differ in recommended daily calories but a good goal for active women is around 1700-2000 calories (as a baseline for daily needs, not including pre, during and post training nutrition which will exceed this calorie range). I do not encourage a daily diet of less than 1500 calories no matter the fitness routine. For men, I find that the calorie range can vary from male to male. I have worked with male athletes in the 2400-2800 calorie range as well as in the 2800-3200 calorie range. For most athletes, I find that 35-40 calories per kg body weight (1 lb = 2.2 kg) is an easy way to find a range to meet your needs. When I factor in weight loss goals, I typically adjust body weight and then determine calorie needs.
So when you find a good calorie range (there are many tools on the internet to figure estimated needs, but unfortunately, those calculators don't understand your training goals nor do they understand what phase in training you are in - which makes a huge difference on how you fuel), break that range into 3 meals and several snacks. If you are a snacker, give yourself 3-4 snacks a day. If you like bigger meals, give yourself 2-3 snacks a day. I recommend no less than 3 snacks for most people.
4) I find that most meals can be around 350-550ish (+/- 50 calories) with more calories surrounding workouts (ex. lunch before a PM workout or breakfast following an AM workout). There is no perfect plan as to how to plan your meals so my suggestion is to keep a journal with your meals, mood, hunger/satisfaction and exercise routine so that you can get in tune with your body and figure out the best balanced meals to leave you well-fueled, happy and satisfied. Snacks work well around 150-200 calories. As for a pre training snack in the afternoon, try to not make things complicated with calories. Eat when you need to fuel (not because you are bored) between meals and more than 3 hours go by and you are approaching an afternoon/evening workout, have another snack around 1-2 hours before training (carb and protein/fat such as an apple with PB or yogurt and fruit).

These are 4 simple steps that I use with my athletes to find a balanced plan that works at this point in time. Keep in mind that as your training/exercise routine changes, so will your diet. However, if you prioritize your foods around your training, you will find yourself feeling more energized throughout the day, thus benefiting more from your workouts. And most importantly, by planning your day, you will be able to find your weaknesses and strengths in your diet, as it relates to meeting your performance and health goals.













Perform Beautifully Napa 2011

I hope you enjoy the video that the Oakley Photography staff put together.

6/29/11

Appreciating the balanced approach

I had 12 wonderful hours (to and from Napa) to catch up on my magazine/journal reading. I am very passionate about my career as a exercise and nutrition professional and I enjoy sharing my passion with each and every one of you. While I have my own philosophy on how I view food and exercise, I find it extremely important to the population that I keep up to date with ever-growing and new research. I am sure I miss a lot but subscribing to professional journals, such as the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, I am able to understand, apply and disseminate scientific information, specifically as it relates to food, nutrition and dietetics.
When it comes to exercise/training, I find that research changes almost daily. While most credible scientific nutrition studies are done long term, in order to demonstrate a change (or no change) in population rather than viewing a "snap shot" of society, I find that exercise research can be applied almost immediately and within a matter of a few months, results are noticeable.
The beauty (and often, frustration) of nutrition is that it is truely about the journey. Many of us take for granted daily nutrition habits which make a difference in how we feel and perform tomorrow. Not to mention, what we provide our body on a daily basis NOW, will likely have an effect on our health 20-50 years from now.
For example, any diet craze (ex. paleo, Dukan diet, low fat, sugar-free) will likely demonstrate considerable weight loss during the beginning phase, because the body is likely being restricted of calories. For most diets restrict foods. Certainly, be bumping up the nutrient density of your diet, it is likely that you can add in a host of nutrients through fruits and veggies, alongside eliminating x-food(s) in your diet. However, my concern with any diet is the restriction of certain foods. For in my opinion, there are no "bad" foods. There are foods we should emphasize and foods we should de-emphasize. However, de-emphasizing food does not mean "never can I have it". Even for myself as a health professional, I don't require that you are a vegetarian in order to live a healthful life. Rather, don't eliminate, replace. Focus on a plant based diet and incorporate more heart healthy foods into your diet..likely, making it a lot more balanced.
While it can be done to have a balanced "diet" diet, we don't know the effects of these diets long-term. Plus, having restriction, guilt and fear surrounding food is not my idea of a balanced lifestyle. And with no long term research on some diets, this could be a concern for any individual. Most importantly, for my fitness enthusiasts and athletes, who place their body under a considerable amount of stress, we require a high quantity of macro and micronutrients (not necessarily thousands and thousands of calories) to fuel metabolic processes.
What it all comes down to is balance. We aim for balance in our training routines and we should work towards balance with our diet.
I find that many individuals read a great deal of "thoughts" on the internet and immediately assume that the same diet or training routine will work for him/her. While it is great to try new things and consider a different way of living your life, we should strive to become healthier, more physically active (not necessarily "train" more) and more balanced. What works for one person may not work for everyone....nor is the right or best thing for your lifestyle at this moment in time.

Take a minute and reflect on the weaknesses in your current diet as well as the strengths. What do you feel is helping or hurting you meet your weight goal. Secondly, assess the nutrition of your diet and your view of food. For many people manage to stay at a healthy weight (or it is your goal/ideal weight) but stick to restrictive eating habits in order to stay at that weight. Third, take a look at your exercise routine. Do you feel the need to train/exercise every day in order to maintain/lose weight. While I believe in 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, we want to focus on a healthy dose of exercise. Too many athletes get incredibly close to overtraining for the fear of losing fitness or because of the fear of gaining weight.

After assessing your diet and exercise routine, think about 3 small changes that you can do on a daily basis to make yourself a more balanced person.
Perhaps taking a day off from training and taking a walk instead. Or, go to the local farmers market and pick out 3 veggies that you would never consider eating and try to find a recipe for them. Even better, write down 3 goals of how you want to feel (not look) in 30, 40 and 50 years from now. While we all want to be active and healthy, it is important that we are respecting our body now in order to enjoy the future.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ~World Health Organization, 1948

6/28/11

Performing Beautifully in Napa - quick recap




Hello Bloggers! I am back from an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Napa Valley. I thought I was heading to Napa to learn about my role as an Oakley ambassador and I came back to Florida having a new family. With over 100 women at the fitness retreat (from magazine editors, to retailers, to Oakley staff), I couldn't help but pick up on the contagious energy. I met so many inspiring people, including the other ambassadors who live around the US.



The Oakley staff did a great job of selecting the ambassadors because we are all very passionate people, each with our own philosophy and pursuits in living a healthy and active lifestyle. From dirt biking to wake boarding to yoga instructors and personal trainers, we all had one thing in common...we love our bodies, setting goals and being active.

I'm very excited about my role as an Oakley ambassador and the world is at my fingertips (according to Oakley). Seriously, a dream come true.

The Oakley Women Perform Beautifully Ambassador program is to inspire all women to perform beautifully by exposing them to Oakley products as well as the brand itself.

With 4 1/2 years of higher education behind my name, I could not be more excited to empower women (like you...sorry guys :) ) to live a healthy, balanced and active lifestyle, develop a healthy relationship with food and to love your body for what it allows you to do on a daily basis. MOVE!!

Goal setting and overcoming obstacles are powerful traits in a woman. But when done beautifully, you feel great during the process. Oakley has always had high performance products and gear but only until recently, was the brand primarily male-based. Well, lucky for us women...Oakley has a comfortable, stylish and attractive line of glasses and clothing to fit our active needs.

The Oakley team is amazing. I can't tell you how much every woman embraced a fun, energetic and free-spirited attitude. The Oakley women staff wants every woman to feel strong, independent and beautiful inside and out and because of that, they have provided apparel to promote an active lifestyle.



I am really excited about this opportunity and I plan on "running" with it. I will be creating a Perform Beautifully page on my blog for all of you fantastic and amazing women to participate. We will be sharing our passion for healthy living, both with activity and nutrition, and I encourage everyone to share personal stories on how you perform beautifully. I will provide the outlet, you will share you stories. And who knows, maybe down the line I will be able to provide some of my blog readers with some nice Oakely swag :)


So, let's start today. What does it mean to you to Perform Beautifully?


Here's my response:
To perform beautifully one must aim for progress not perfection. I love my body, not for a number on a scale, but for allowing me to cross finish lines and for being healthy and strong. Every day is worth waking up for and I’m not afraid to set goals which require dedication and energy. Every person is unique and because of that, I embrace the Oakley brand and the beauty that it brings to the female athlete or fitness enthusiast.In my opinion, when one performs beautifully she is not living a strict lifestyle but one of balance, consistency and enjoyment. I believe I perform beautifully because I give myself many reasons to smile on a daily basis. I strive to be stronger and healthier every day and to not live a life of regret, failure and obsession. I feel comfortable and beautiful in my own skin because I live my life for me and I recognize my individual needs based on my training and lifestyle requirements. I love my body for allowing me to travel the world, be adventurous and for not failing on me. When one performs beautifully, she recognizes the rewards of exercise and eating for fuel. She thanks her body on a daily basis. To perform beautifully, one must be patient. When you perform beautifully you consider every day worth waking up for and you are not afraid to set goals which require dedication and energy. A beautiful performer will take pride in the steps that are required to achieve goals in life and will find ways to overcome obstacles with beauty and grace.


I would love to hear your thoughts as you are also an inspiration to me and to everyone else around the world. As an incentive, I will offer my services to review a 3-day food log or provide a week of workouts to the most creative, motivational and inspiring paragraph of what it means to Perform Beautifully (try to make it short and sweet).

Feel free to pass along this blog to your friends as there are so many active women in pursuit of a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. But more than anything, we are enjoying the journey and making the most out of our days and loving our own and only body.

(Sorry guys - this blog is just for the ladies...but no need to stop reading this blog as we are all fitness enthusiasts and athletes, aspiring to reach our individual goals. It is my goal to provide the right information and practical advice in order to help you live a more balanced lifestyle.)