Essential Sports Nutrition


Feeding the Vegetarian athlete

I love wholesome food. No surprise. There's something about food that is made from natural ingredients that I love so much. I love veggies and fruit and eat them all day long but I know that I can never fully nourish my body without having other sources of vitamins and minerals such as healthy fats, quality protein and complex carbs such as whole grains and beans. I love it when food has a simple ingredient list and I love it even more when I don't have to read an ingredient list. I create habits in my life that help me from overeating at meals as well as after training such as not going into meals starving and having a pre meal and/or post-training snack. I don't see my life as sticking to a diet but rather finding ways to make my eating simple and enjoyable so that I can enjoy other parts of my life. I eat every few hours and I never skimp on protein or fat. I don't give myself excuses to eat x-food just because I trained but at the same time, if I want something that I typically don't emphasize in my diet, I don't feel guilty or count calories when I am enjoying it. I don't give myself guidelines as to what I can and can not eat but rather what makes me feel the best, both in life and during training. I always find it helpful to look back on previous meals and snacks in order to identify why I may be hungrier than normal at the upcoming meal (especially throughout heavy training) and I make realistic changes in order to help me feel more satisfied for the next time. I continuously work on my diet but in a fun and non-obsessive way. I see every eating opportunity as a way to provide my body with fuel and I don't fear the foods that I put into my body. I know what works best for me and my training/health goals and I remove outside thoughts/influences because the only person who knows me the best, is myself.

Because I have NO rules in my diet, I never feel as if I am making "bad" choices with my food. Just like with my training, I know that it's all about consistency. One "off" day means nothing in the big picture. I would never tell myself that I am going to get out of shape by taking a day or two off from training (in one week) just like I won't gain weight with an occasional treat or two. I also know that eating foods with carbs or calories will not make me gain weight. I see carbs as fuel so I see no reason to avoid them. Fat will not make me gain weight and protein does not always equate to an increase in muscle mass. The body is a complex thing but very smart. It knows what it likes and will tell you what it needs. The question is...are you listening to your body?
For individuals who struggle with certain foods in the diet, the easy solution is often to remove the food completely. But rather than eliminating the food, we must portion control or replace and then find ways to consume those healthy, overly-consumed foods, in a controlled manner. For we should never remove food from the diet that is proved to be beneficial for training and for health.

As for the 4th of July, I ate no differently than I would on any other day. Even though I woke up without an alarm and didn't train, I couldn't think of a practical reason to worry about calories, carbs or fat. I enjoyed my food as I would on any other day and loved every bit of it! And, had a fabulous workout on Tues as I was properly well-fueled. :)

Thank you Marilyn for the best 4th of July meal. My vegetarian belly was super happy.

On the menu:
Homemade black bean burgers w/ jalapeno cheese (grass-fed burgers for everyone else)
Grilled corn
Vegetarian beans
Homemade purple potato salad
Trimarni salad


Post-run omelet with fresh bread

Although it is nearly the weekend, I can't help but think back to last weekend, which included two quality training sessions and some TDF (Tour de France) watching.
Both workouts were Bike + Run, however, each workout had its purpose. Each workout had a different pre-training snack/meal and each workout was followed by some TLC hip stretching and recovery protein drink + recovery meal
Even Campy did his share of resting with his favorite Iron Girl Aflac duck

On Sat I biked down to watch the BFAST #3 triathlon race and after an hour of spinning my legs (which was a very exciting warm-up I must say), I was ready for the main set.
3 x 20 min tempo intervals. 5 min LT (above threshold), 10 min tempo, 5 min LT. I train with a power meter so I was able to focus on my zones for all three intervals. After the 20 min interval (which was tough but went by quick), I recovered for 10 min and repeated the set. Karel gives me a lot of sets were he has me pushing at, slightly above and slightly below my LT threshold with the idea that in time I will increase my LT threshold, while increasing my cadence and keeping the same HR. Rather than doing lots of long rides at a low intensity, we used my IMWI training to play around with the concept that it was possible to become more powerful on the bike without putting in lots of hours/miles on the bike. We don't believe in doing lots of 100+ mile rides but rather becoming more efficient and powerful at mid-distance (3-4 hours). I do believe in doing long rides but last year with only 5 rides over 5 hours (3 of them were 100-110 miles and 2 of them were in the hills, around 85ish miles) last year, I felt much more confident with my weekend workouts and a lot less fatigued for upcoming workouts. Thus, by race day, I felt as if trained with quality in mind and never reached burnout or experienced an injury. Also, we don't worry about speed since power is the relationship of force x distance divided by time. Therefore, dependent on the wind and terrain, I should be able to move my bike over a specified distance (112 miles on Oct 9 in Kona, Hawaii) at a certain power, for x-amount of time. Because I will never be able to beat the wind and the heat will affect my heart and ability to shuttle blood to the working muscles, I want to train in a way that will allow me to focus more on my given efforts and nutrition, so that I can be as consistent as possible with my training.
With 4 Ironman finishes behind me, I really enjoy the structure and purpose of our training, most specifically because I am not placing lots of unnecessary hours of training on my body.

After a 3 hour and 20 min ride, I grabbed my fuel belt (filled with heed) and headed out for a 4 mile run. The purpose of my transition run following a long ride is to get in a zone, focus on form and to be steady. I did 4 miles at a comfortable 8 min/mile pace and had a few honks from my friends who were coming back from the race. That always makes my day :)

Then came a quick .6 mile run with Campy and it was time to refuel and recover.

Sunday was a bit different as the focus was on the run, rather than the bike. I warmed up an hour on my bike, nice and easy at a high cadence, just spinning the legs.
I grabbed my fuel belt and another bottle filled with Heed (for refueling my flasks) and started my garmin.
With all my experiences with my hips, I have learned to focus more on running off the bike rather than just running. Rather than having a "long run" where the focus was to run x- miles, I gave myself a main set to accomplish within those miles.
I warmed up 3 miles and started my set:
4 x 5 min IM pace - 30-45 sec, then 1 min easy jog. This was a very tough 20 min set but I know my body is not ready to do a 20 min "pace" set. Also, with my longest run being in December, I am wise not to progress too quickly...even if my friends are running much longer distances than me. I know where I want to be on race day and I am sure to follow my plan which is designed just for me (Thanks hubby/coach Karel).
The set was tough but I managed to put in 9.3 miles and not feel completely fatigued. While it was a hard effort for 20 minutes, I didn't feel the wear and tear that I remember while training for IM #1, 2 and 3. It seemed as if I could never fully recover from those long runs. I find myself always running strong off the bike (than just starting a run from nothing) and I also feel more capable of keeping a higher cadence while running (with better form) when am not so focused on achieving x-miles...can't stop until I get to x-miles.

Once again, the workout finished with .6 Campy miles and we both happily finished our first Kona weekend by stretching, eating and relaxing.

As for my post workout breakfast on Sunday. YUM!!!
Omelet made with brown rice, fresh basil, eggs (2 whites, 1 whole), cheese, tomatoes and chives) cooked in olive oil and seasoned with a pinch of sea salt and pepper. With a warm piece of fresh, non-packaged bread from a bread shop.
Not pictured....a tall glass of milk (mixed with 1/2 scoop whey protein) with a handful of cereal - consumed while stretching after my run.


Learning the lingo

I have spent much of my adult life understanding food as fuel. At the age of 29, I know a lot more know than in years past but I have SO much more to learn. While I am fairly certain I am finished with higher learning (I don't see a PhD in my near future) I hope to never stop learning.
I am very passionate about food but I am confident in saying that I am not obsessed. Because I love stimulating my brain, I don't have the time or desire to devote all my energy to one obsession.
But for many people, nutrition can become an obsession and I believe that is far different than a passion. For some individuals, food and eating is the purpose of life and all activities and efforts are dedicated to food. People go to bed thinking about food and wake up thinking about food. It's a fear that people who constantly think about food are not truely living their life to the fullest. People often watch the clock not for when they get to leave work but rather for when they are "allowed" to eat. People over-analyze food and read food labels for the wrong reason. People gravitate towards fad diets, typically for the reason of changing body image, thinking that "off-limit" foods is practical lifestyle change. For many people see food as "good or bad" and have a very poor understanding of what it is the body needs to improve health and to fuel workouts. I suppose the confusion of nutrition is partly due to the overwhelming amount of experts (as I have mentioned many times in previous posts) as well as trying to change the diet without taking the time to identify the strengths and weakness's in their current diet. Once again, balance is out the door for many people believe in the "all or nothing" approach.

For many of us, we live a very active lifestyle and for the rest of the Trimarni readers, you are making the steps towards appreciating a more active lifestyle and I congratulate you in your lifelong journey. But when I think of my diet and what it supports, I am proud to say that I am a strong, smart and energetic woman, not just a triathlete. In the quest of developing a healthy relationship with food, I don't "eat healthy" but rather provide my body with foods that give me health...a reason to live life to the fullest and perform every day activities. So while I strive to eat in a way that reduces my risk for disease and improves my quality of life, I can truely appreciate the foods that I put in my body. Because my lifestyle is that of a triathlete, I know that by daily providing my body with foods that build strength, improve my immune system, improve brain functioning, improve the strength of my heart and keep me from being sick, I am going to be able to achieve my goals as a triathlete. For I am passionate about living a healthy and active lifestyle and being a triathlete is just an added bonus for me to set goals and to take part in new and exciting journeys.

Many people have asked me to provide my thoughts on the Paleo diet and I suppose that there is a blog post or article in the near future. Whereas last year it was the "gluten-free" diet, I believe that the Paleo diet is another fad diet for individuals to "clean up the diet". In my opinion, I see Paleo as low-carb/Atkins but with an allowance for fruits and veggies. I see many nutritional deficiencies and I fear the long-term effects for the health conscious individual. For athletes, I find it very unbalanced and impractical to support the metabolic processes that are necessary to provide and use energy.

Have you ever been in a conversation about dieting or food? I'm sure we all are use to the remarks after we participate in a triathlon (sprint to Ironman) or running race (5K to ultramarathon) but with nutrition, the topics are endless and the debates are almost never ending. People are always hearing new research and trying new things and I am sure everyone has at least one friend/acquaintance who has tried them all (diets). While giving your race report can be an enlightening and inspiring experience, nutrition talks are often stressful, sometimes leaving people angry.

As you attempt to change your life to eat, exercise and live in a more balanced manner, how do you feel when you have a conversation with someone who wants to tell you the good and the bad of everything related to food?

Not sure about you, but it leaves me absolutely exhausted. Whereas you may not have all the facts but more of the "experiences", it is my responsibility as a RD to have the facts in line. Because it is hard to keep up with research, I try to do my best to keep an open mind and to look at the bigger picture (ex. long term effects, nutrient deficiencies, loss in energy/performance), but it's even hard for someone like myself to chime-in on conversations when they deal with food. Sure, I have a lot to say but I would rather give my energy to Campy, Karel or to my workouts. Plus, I see the body as individualistic and nutrition is not one-size fits all. So while there may be components of "diets" that work for some people, it all comes down to how you view the food the comes into your life.

Because I love the feeling of helping people develop a healthy relationship with food and learning to eat for fuel to support lifestyle habits, I think it is necessary that we all learn the right food lingo in order to change the way that others (and you) view food. Because body-image is often the primary reason for dietary changes (remember, if a person is changing eating habits for HEALTH, there would be an emphasis on balance, portion control and emphasizing a plant-based, wholesome diet), it's very important that we start changing our vocabulary when it comes to food.

As you may have learned, I do not discuss "diets" nor do I use the word "diet" in the reference to something temporary. We are making choices on a daily basis until the day we are no longer alive on this Earth. We aim for progress, not perfection. I want to be sure that I give myself quality food until the day I die, because I never want to run out of energy or reduce my years that I can live my life to the fullest.

Also, we don't need to say "good" or "bad" food and we don't want to overuse the word "healthy" when it comes to processed food or analyzing the food in our current diet. While the FDA provides food that is safe and wholesome for our diet, it would be hard for us to create a grocery list of "wholesome" packaged foods. Therefore, we want to emphasize certain foods in our diet with little to no ingredients. This way, we don't need to fear food that provides more calories than others. Because if we emphasize foods with little to no ingredients, we know that the calories we are eating are providing our body with quality nutrients. So while whole grains and unsaturated fats may be higher in calories than fruits, veggies and quality protein, we don't want to avoid them just because they have "calories".

The 3 P's: Planning, preparing at home and portion control. Simple enough.

Lastly, remove the words fat and skinny from your vocabulary. Replace with strong or lean or perhaps over recommended body weight. In respecting the body we must talk to it nicely and above all, thank it for allowing us to make choices on a daily basis.


Monday Product Review

I like to surround myself with people who give me energy, not take it away from me. More so, I enjoy a sense of balance in my life so that I have the ability to control my choices and feel good about how I make the most of my days here on earth. There is a lot of information available on the internet, in magazines and on TV and it can be very confusing and overwhelming. Because much of the information that people believe and attempt to apply to every day lifestyle choices is from individuals with strong personalities and promising claims, I thank you for coming to Trimarni as a resource for realistic, practical and sound advice. There are a lot of "experts" out there and it is my goal in life (and in my career) to help others meet nutrition, performance, body composition and life goals with balance in mind. In reference to my own life, aside from a long history with formal education, I have used every day of my life to learn to appreciate my body and what it allows me to do. While this didn't happen overnight, I find myself always striving for a more balanced lifestyle, thus, I nourish my body with quality food, an active and fun lifestyle and lots of laughter and happy times.

I decided that it would be fun to review products/gear that I include in my everyday routine, I welcome your feedback as well. I believe that with the right type of communication here at Trimarni, we can all live a more balanced lifestyle and live life to the fullest.


I received the Oakley Solution Tote 2.o Duffel Bag
while in Napa for the Perform Beautifully Oakley Women Fitness retreat and I absolutely LOVE it. First off, the bag is super cute (I have it in black) but also sporty. As a triathlete and fitness enthusiast, I believe that you can never have too many bags. Also, I love my "gym" bags for traveling, especially when I travel for a race and want to carry along all my important race-day items. The bag comes with a mini laundry bag (which I use for loose items) and the bag has several compartments on the outside. There is also a clear pocket in the inside which is nice for items that need a little extra protection.


For the last 7 years of my life, I could not imagine life without a blender. I have always had a blender (some working better than others) but my latest blender is so makes me super happy in the kitchen! The
Oster Fusion is a must in the kitchen of any health conscious individual, regardless of your current training routine. I use my blender for smoothies on an almost daily basis and I LOVE the pre-programmed setting "Frozen Drinks and Shakes" for a perfect, thick recovery whey protein, milk and fruit smoothie (that tastes like a milkshake).

I also love having the "Food Chop" pre-programmed setting for when I need a food processor when making some of my Trimarni creations (below- spinach, veggie and tofu "sauce" for my eggplant lasagna)

The blender also has manual controls for max ice crush, max pulse, medium blend and low stir and low pulse. It has an On/Off button as well as a Stop button and it is super easy to use and clean. The blender also has a removable section on the lid to add more ingredients.


Last year, Karel gave Campy the best gift ever....a leash and collar made from recycled bike inner tubes. Since Campy is named after Campagnolo (high-end bike components), it is only appropriate that he has quality gear for all of his Campy miles. In all seriousness, Campy has an Ironman World Championship to train for and we only have 13 more weeks!

I just love the idea of recycling products and using them for our furry little friends but Cycle Dog has all types of products (apparel, leashes, collars and belts). Campy absolutely LOVES showing off his collar and leash at cycling races where he "Barks" and cheers for his daddy.