Essential Sports Nutrition


Getting closer....

"Everyday do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow."
Training for an Ironman requires a lot of commitment. It's a lot of training, a lot of mental preparation and a lot of believing in yourself. I am keeping it simple and fun, as I always do. Focusing on the small stuff that makes a BIG difference. Food is my fuel, no need to rely on well-marketed supplements aside from my trusted (and well practiced) products from Hammer Nutrition (heed + sustained energy, Hammer gels and Hammer aminos...yep, that's all I take to "fuel" my workouts, as well as B complex and MVI for nutritional insurance). Sleep is my best friend, no need to set the alarm for a 5:30 am recovery swim. Me and the weight room (or my yoga mat at home) have become the best of friends throughout the last 6 months. Strength training is a vital component in my IM training plan. Running...oh how great it feels to not be an injured runner. It's been around 4 years since I have ran without fear and it feels so amazing. What a beautiful concept to do all my runs off the bike. Quality is the concept underlying the training for this 140.6 mile adventure.
The Ironman is a journey but also an educational lesson. For no matter how many "chapters" are in your book, there is always something new to learn and to make you think. As you turn the page and start a new chapter, you can expect no shortage of excitement and amazement. For every chapter is different and presents new life-changing opportunities.
My mind and body have never been so connected and feeling healthier than I have ever felt in my life, I totally respect my body for allowing me to train it for my 5th Ironman event. At the age of 29, I feel as if I have accomplished a lot for I am a goal-setter and I just love finding practical and realistic ways of reaching those goals. But I have to say, nothing makes me feel more alive than training for an Ironman. I have a feeling that this Ironman is going to be super special.

Ironman #1 - Ironman Florida

Ironman #2 - Ironman World Championship

Ironman #3 - Ironman Kentucky

Ironman #4 - Ironman Wisconsin

Ironman #5 - Ironman World Championship
60 more days!!!


Feeling rested

4 weeks down, 63 day to go. With every workout, I am more energized than the day before and more and more confident for my 5th Ironman. I still get excited with every workout as I still find myself getting stronger, faster and smarter as an athlete. As the months progress with Karel as my guide/coach, I am reminded that I will save my best effort for race day and quantity training is so old-school. For October 8th is the result of many small individual quality-specific efforts. For I must arrive at the race feeling rested and hungry to race. If my mind and my body are not ready for the journey when I land in Kona, Hawaii, than I have failed with my attempt to achieve balance in my life.
Therefore, my goal for the next 9 weeks is to stick to my plan, trust my gradual gains in fitness and enjoying every moment as I train for the Ironman World Championships. Each workout has a purpose and I am careful to focus on every single component that will get me to the starting line feeling fresh and ready to race. I am careful not to progress too quickly with my volume and or intensity. I keep in mind my ultimate goals and where I want to be on race day. For if I am injured or overtrained, I have disrespected my body. Every day provides countless opportunities to prepare for my race. I nourish my body, I allow it to rest, I give it a healthy dose of exercise, I make it feel loved and happy and I respect it for what it allows me to do on a daily basis. No workout is taken for granted and I am mindful to keep my life in balance. I have not lost sight on the important things in life for when my training session is complete, I am quick to turn off the Ironman switch and resume my life as a doggy mommy, wife, lover of vegetarian cooking (trimarni creations), clinical dietitian, writer, speaker, daughter/sister, friend, coach and lover of living life to the fullest. I am amazed by the human body and now, more than ever, I realize that Anything IS possible.


Inspirational Lunch

I was told that when I become a dietitian, no one will want to eat with me. Happily, that is not true as I have not lost any friends since I earned my RD credentials. If anything, at least Karel and my furry ones enjoy my yummy creations.
Although I now love eating around others, there was a time in my life (many years ago) that I was very uncomfortable eating around others. I believe we are all on our own journey in developing a healthy relationship with food and finding out what works best for our individual lifestyles, in order to fuel for exercise and eat for health. Speaking from experience, no one likes a critic when they are eating. As I was trying to develop an appreciation for new food and new eating habits, I would often feel uneasy around the "critic" who seemed to have something to say about the way I was eating. Perhaps there was a time in my life when I didn't know how to put all the pieces together but I knew I was on a mission to find my own path in order appreciate the food that I put into my body as well as understanding my needs as an active, vegetarian endurance athlete.
Two of the most common comments that I receive now a day are "you eat so healthy" and "what does your husband eat since you are a vegetarian".
As a health conscious individual, I am always happy to give my opinion when asked. But as a professional, I understand my boundaries when it comes to discussing food, especially when around food. I believe food is a very sensitive topic for many. Although I get super excited to talk about anything food related (and I mean anything since I have no "rules" or "bad" food in my diet), I hope that people enjoy eating around me for a moment to feel inspired.
I cook all my meals and most of my meals are from foods with little to no ingredients. I didn't always eat this way and I am still on a mission to enjoy life and fuel my body with quality nutrients. I enjoy my choices and I feel confident about what I put into my body. I also believe that I make good choices, which are consistent on a daily basis. I would hope that if I were to ever order out or eat/purchase something not in my typical diet that people would not "assume" anything about the way that I eat. For I am the only one who is responsible for what I put into my body and I have learned to find foods (and a way to eat them) that work for my lifestyle at this point in my life.
I believe so many people spend entirely too much energy focusing on what others are eating. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking others what they are eating but as far as trying to educate/lecture others to change eating habits, it is important not to use your energy on others who may not have the same eating habits as yourself. Or, if you are a person who is working on changing habits, be mindful of your internal and external food dialogue that may be keeping you from reaching your performance or body composition goals. I have found that individuals who are working on changing eating habits and often repeatedly tell themselves that they are "bad" for eating x-food, find it difficult to be around others who are also on a journey of learning to appreciate food for fuel and nourishment. You must always work on our view of food for if you have "rules" in the diet, you will often feel pressure to be perfect and never truely recognize what works for you at this point in your life.

So, even though the "education" should be left to the professionals (ex. dietitian's) who are advised to abide by an ethical code and counsel in a motivational manner, you can still have an impact on how you inspire others.

Although you first need to believe in yourself that you are making balanced choices that will support your individual needs (aim for progress, not perfection), we can all do our part by using our own "creations" to inspire others. I believe eating should be an enjoyable time, a time to "break" from all activities and to appreciate the food that you put into your body. For every eating opportunity is a time to fuel and nourish the body. Rather than feeling uncomfortable around others because you are in the beginning of your journey, I recommend taking yourself away from the person who is conducting a "lecture" at lunch (or meal time). Surround yourself with people who give you energy and not take it away from you. If you are the person who is constantly telling others what to/not to eat (ex. if you eat x, you will get cancer, get fat, etc.) how about inspiring others with your food and using food to be the motivational tool.
As athletic individuals, I think we can all relate to the person in our life who is considering training for an event. As many of us our veteran athletes (I believe finishing time is not an indicator of your status in a sport when it comes to experience) we all get super excited when we talk about our sport of choice and it is really easy for us to offer advice. I also believe that our energy for training is contagious and we can inspire others to live a healthier and more active lifestyle by demonstrating that any person, at any age and any weight, can be an active individual and train for an event (ex. swim meet, running event, triathlon, etc.). But I think we would all be careful and suggest that you have to start slow. Whereas the Ironman athlete would not tell the newbie to sign up for an Ironman for his/her first event or for the marathon runner to tell an inexperienced runner that he/she should start running an hour a day. Because we all have to start somewhere, we recognize that we must start slow and respect our body as it gets faster, stronger and more efficient.
I think we should take this same mentality when it comes to eating and helping others change eating habits. I see it all the time that people are quick to tell others exactly how and what to eat to lose weight but if only it was that easy. Rather, how about thinking back when you started to change your eating habits. Whether you went cold-turkey or did the recommended way of replacing and not eliminating, I ask that you take a little time every day and develop appreciation for the foods that you put into your body and take that same energy and inspire others to learn to develop a healthy relationship with food.

I am really enjoying my time at Baptist Medical Center Beaches. Because I have lot of responsibility as a Clinical Dietitian, who is also training for the Ironman World Championships, I make sure that I use every opportunity to keep my blood sugar balanced, provide my body with quality nutrients and create habits that don't involve feelings of restriction, guilt and obsession.
After I finish my morning training, I enjoy a recovery protein drink (milk or whey protein) with a handful of whole grain cereal and a wasa cracker w/ PB. This holds me over very well and helps me refuel and recover post-workout. Once I get to work (an hour later), I have my "real" meal of Oatmeal w/ some kind of fruit, nuts and cinnamon.

Here's my inspirational lunch - Salad w/ pineapple salsa and a black bean and egg pita. And a snack of peanuts in the container (sliced peaches not pictured)
What will you make for your inspirational breakfast and/or lunch?


Stayin healthy with safe food

While we all love talking about food for fuel, I find the topic of food safety so important for our society. Although there is reason to worry about how food is being prepared outside the home, it is important that you recognize the best ways to keep your food safe while eating inside the home. I hope you enjoy my latest article from the Iron Girl newsletter.

Staying Healthy with Safe Food
By Marni Sumbal

Grilled fish, veggie burgers, potato salad and cantaloupe. Grab the Frisbee and fire-up the grill - the summer is a perfect time for an appetizing outdoor feast.

With an estimated 48-million* cases of foodborne illness each year in the United States, it’s imperative that you practice safe food handling skills in and outside the kitchen (USDA, 2011). Because some individuals are at a greater risk for foodborne illness than others (ex. infants, the elderly, pregnant women, those with a weakened immune system, young children) and the symptoms and onset may vary, it’s important to note that foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following four simple steps when preparing and handling food in your own home.

1) Clean – Bacteria love the nooks and crannies in your kitchen. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm running water before and after handling food, especially after handling raw animal protein. Also, be mindful of other items in your kitchen that you may contaminate when preparing raw meat (ex. handle of refrigerator/pantry, answering your phone, etc.). Be sure to wash countertops, cutting boards and utensils with hot, soapy water, after each use. Counter surfaces and cutting boards can be disinfected by mixing one teaspoon liquid bleach per quart of water (let stand for 10 minutes and rinse with clean water). Bleach solutions will become less effective over time so discard your homemade solutions after seven days. Vegetarians, you are not immune to foodborne illnesses. Because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside of fresh fruits and veggies (ex. pineapple, watermelon), always rinse produce under running water and dry with a paper towel. Although bagged produce marked “pre-washed” is safe to use without additional washing, it is recommended to lightly wash all produce, even those marked “Organic.”

2) Don’t cross-contaminate – While the ready-to-eat food may be properly cooked and prepared, bacteria love to travel. It is advised to use a separate cutting board for raw meat, seafood and poultry and another for fresh produce. Likewise, separate plates and utensils should be used for raw foods. Although wood cutting boards are stylish, they are very porous and make for a happy home for bacteria. It is recommended to use a wood cutting board for fresh bread, a large plastic cutting board (dishwasher safe) for raw animal protein and a few small to medium cutting boards for fresh produce. Because cutting boards become difficult to clean overtime, it is recommended to replace used cutting boards at least two to three times a year. Keep raw and marinating animal protein at the bottom of the refrigerator, in a container or sealed plastic bag, to prevent the juices from dripping onto other foods.

3) Cook – Bacteria thrive on warm, moist, protein-rich foods that are neutral or low in pH (acid). Because bacteria need both food and water to grow, recognize the “Danger Zone” of 40 and 140 degrees, where bacteria multiply the quickest. Do not rely on looks to determine whether or not a food is done cooking. Always use a food thermometer. Although we like our hot food hot and our cold food cold, bacterial growth increases as a food cools. Keep your hot food above 140 degrees by using a warming tray or a chafing dish and promptly store cold food in the refrigerator or keep on ice when serving. Microwavable food and reheated food should be heated to 165 degrees, which includes the standing time for additional heating in frozen meals (which occurs after you remove your food from the microwave).
Most commonly used cooking temperatures:
-Raw beef, lamb, pork, veal steaks, chops and fish– minimum internal temp of 145 degrees
-Raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal, ham, stuffing and eggs - minimum internal temp of 160 degrees
-Poultry - minimum internal temp of 165 degrees
(Never defrost or marinate raw animal protein at room temperature!)

4) Chill – Perishable foods and leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours after cooing in order to slow the growth of bacteria. Be sure your refrigerator is kept between 32 degrees and 40 degrees and the freezer is 0 degrees or below. In order to preserve the quality and temperature of other foods, don’t place hot food immediately into the refrigerator. Rather, place the food into shallow, sealed containers and let food cool until it is comfortable to touch prior to storing. Avoid crowding your refrigerator and be sure to date and label your food to reduce the possibility of harmful bacterial growth. Egg, chicken, tuna and macaroni salads, as well as opened packaged or deli sliced luncheon meat, should be discarded after three to five days. Ground meats and fresh whole poultry should be discarded after two days. Leftover pizza and soups and stews can last up to four days. Many items can be stored in the freezer for several months, as freezing delays the growth of bacteria but does not prevent its growth. Always label, date and properly store/package your foods prior to freezing.


United States Department of Agriculture (2011). Safe food handling. How temperatures
affect food. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Retrieved July 14h, 2011, from

United States Department of Agriculture (n.d.). Foodborne illness: What consumers
need to now. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Retrieved July 14th, 2011, from

United States Department of Agriculture (n.d.). Keep food safe.
Retrieved July 14h, 2011, from

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD
Marni is a Registered Dietitian and holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology. She 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, a 4x Ironman finisher and is an Oakley Women ambassador. Marni is currently training for the 2011 Ironman World Championship. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to, LAVA online and USAT online.
Any questions, Email trimarnicoaching@gmail.comor visit


Monday Product Review


I am sure I'm not alone when I admit that I don't have a lot of cute "swim wear". I have swim suits for swim practice, I have speedsuits and wetsuits for races and I have lots of spandex which is specific to bike riding and running. However, when it comes to swim wear, well, I don't find myself that comfortable in wearing a skimpy bikini. As an active woman, I want a swimsuit that will embrace my active body. I think many swim companies miss the mark when making swim wear for active women. Why? Because no one has a "perfect" body and swim suits are often designed to fit a body that has no shape. We have strong muscles, specifically in our lower half and I am the first to say that I have trouble finding the right clothing to embrace my active body. I am not proportionate in all areas but I embrace my body for what it allows me to do on a daily basis. Therefore, I want a suit that will compliment me as an active women and not make me feel self-conscious.
I am really happy that Oakley Women has Swimwear that fits in all the right places. I recommend heading over to the site and checking out some of the swim wear, for there are lots of options for all different body types.

On the topic of swimming, I buy almost all my swim-related gear at The prices are very reasonable and the products are of great quality. For triathletes, I recommend having two good sets of googles on hand at all times (especially at races). As far as googles, my favorite is the Speedo Women's Vanquisher. For anyone who belongs to a masters swim group or swims for fun/exercise, I think it is helpful to invest in a pull buoy as well as as paddles. I am seeing less Master swim groups using fins and more emphasis on pulling and swimming with a bouy (as far as improving swim efficiency). I have the Sporti Power Swim Paddles and they have held up very well over the past year since I purchased them.

In the latest ADA Times Summer 2011, there was a great 4 page article titled The latest diet and lifestyle books: reviewed for RDs, by RDs. Although I have not read any of the books that were featured in the review, I enjoyed reading the feedback on the books. Ten books were reviewed by Registered Dietitians and each book (picture included) review included THE CLAIM, SYNOPSIS OF THE DIET PLAN, NUTRITIONAL PROS AND CONS and BOTTOM LINE. Several of the books were given great reviews whereas other books...not so much. For example, The 17 day diet: a doctor's plan designed for rapid results was given the feedback "Dieters may lose weight by lowering their caloric intake and restricting food; however, restrictive meal plans, demonizing certain foods and low calorie levels creates the perfect set up for a weekend binge, and participants never lean how to eat the foods they love as part of a healthy diet". Another book, The Dukan Diet, was given the review that "Although The Dukan Diet is likely to help readers shed unwanted weight at first, its highly restrictive nature raises several health concerns and would make it difficult to recommend".
A few books were given great reviews such as:
-Cinch! Conquer cravings, Drop pounds and Lose inches - by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
-Full: A life without dieting - Michael A. Snyder, MD, FACS
-Prevent a second heart attack - Janet Bond Brill
-The New Sonoma Diet: Trimmer waist, more energy in just 10 days - Connie Guttersen, PhD, RD