Essential Sports Nutrition


You are what you eat

Although my recent education involved nutrition/dietetics, I come from a background of exercise. I will never loose sight of my primary passion which is exercise physiology and understanding the what's, why's and how's of the body during exercise.

I think we'd all agree that exercise and nutrition fit so nicely together. For both are important in living a quality life, while reducing your risk for disease. In regard to nutrition, there's so much chatter in our current society that it is almost overwhelming to hear another research study, "expert" opinion, philosophy, thought or ground-breaking fact in terms of good/bad food, diets and health. Having said that, I do appreciate you continuing to read my blog (and LIKING my FACEBOOK page) in an effort to learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food and make the most out of your fitness/athletic journey.

Understanding that we are all on our own personal mission of health, wellness, nutrition and fitness, I find it extremely important that we don't get too far away from the basics of nutrition and exercise. That is - eat fresh food and move the body daily. Simple advice.

Last night at the Halloween-inspired Beach Trek store Beer Run, I couldn't help but think about my body....while unning around 3 miles in a banana suit, with my dog Campy.

While watching Campy smile, while quickly moving his 4 tiny (yet fast!) legs, I made sure I didn't dismiss the fact that my diet and outlook on life allow me to do things like this in life. While I love relaxing while watching a good movie with Karel, I absolutely love "doing things" with my body. Whether I'm using my brain or moving my body, I take pride in the face that I fuel my body with the best nutrients possible (the key is "emphasize" as I don't believe in being strict when it comes to eating for health and for fuel). For often we associate exercise and nutrition with calories and I think this thought needs to take a back seat in the mind when wanting to make a lifestyle change.

With the holidays approaching, this is often a time when people become very hard on themselves as to eat a certain way (ex being "good" or being "bad" with food) or begin to construct unrealistic weight goals. Regardless if you are an athlete in your off-season or a fitness enthusiast..or just someone who is trying to find a way to fit movement into your daily routine, I ask that you respect your body during the next few months...starting today.

Remove the pressure of having to eat a certain way or to exercise for x-amount of time.

Have a plan....a realistic one and don't forget to have fun.

So whether you are aim to walk 1 mile a day, strength train for 10 minutes, three times per week, try/include 1 new fruit or vegetable to add to your diet per week or plan to run in a banana suit for 3 miles with your dog, be sure you are having fun and you remove the pressure that comes from improving or changing your lifestyle. Remove the outside voices who try to tell you what to eat, what not to eat, how to eat, when to eat, etc. You know your body better than anyone. Need help? Consult an expert such as a Registered Dietitian or Exercise Physiology/coach or speak to your primary physician. When it comes to diet, exercise and/or your health - don't let life slip on by when you can make a difference in how you act/feel tomorrow, by focusing on what you can do today.

One thing that I took away from my community nutrition internship, while interning at Preferred Nutrition, is that we (health professionals) don't change lives by telling people what to do. Rather, it's important to assess each person differently and find out...."what CAN you do?" I find this so very important in developing a healthy relationship with food and developing a balanced approach to exercise (and training). Who wants to abide by a set of rules for the rest of their life? I say "not me!" unless they are my rules...that benefit me and my ability to live a long and productive life. Additionally, although my rules are for me, they are balanced..taking into consideration that MY life requires support, passion and enthusiasm from the people around me. Therefore, my "rules" are not so rigid and extreme that I will become distant from the close friends and family in my life, who are very important in my quest to making memories in my one and only life.

A few pics from the Halloween Beach Trek Beer Run - the Beer run is held every Thursday evening at 6:30pm at the Beach Trek Store. On the first Thursday of every month, your first beer is free at Nippers. For the rest of the month (on Thursday) beer is $2.


Grilled Eggplant Salad

Over the weekend, I picked out a few yummy finds including sand pears, collard greens (thanks Doris for sharing your bunch!) and purple eggplant. The sand pears were new to my taste buds but I absolutely LOVE them. If I could describe them, they taste like an apple jolly rancher mixed with a little pear taste. So sweet and crunchy.

I have not yet learned to appreciate eggplant yet, except for eggplant on pizza, so I rubbed a little olive oil on sliced eggplant (eggplant loves to soak up oil!), sprinkled it with no salt seasoning, sliced a little garlic for on top and grilled it in the oven for until it was slightly brown. I set the oven at 450 degrees and it took around 10-15 minutes.

While the eggplant was cooking, I heated up some whole grain wild rice. Karel just loves rice so since I believe that families/couples/friends, etc. should eat similar "healthy" foods but in different quantities, I served myself a nice portion of whole grains (I aim to eat 3-servings of whole grains per day to help meet my vitamin/mineral and fiber recommendations) and let Karel serve himself since he has different energy needs than me.

To go along with our wild rice and grilled eggplant, I made a beautiful salad filled with:
Romaine, collard greens and kale
Purple grapes
Chopped hard boiled egg
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Green pepper
Orange slices
Sand pears

On a different note, I am very passionate about getting adequate calcium in the diet, especially as an female athlete. We should never take for granted that our bones are the frame of our body...we must take care of them as we respect the body with wholesome food and adequate consumption of vitamins and minerals.

While reading the October 2011 issue of Consumer Reports on Health there was a fantastic cover article on Boosting the strength of bones for women and men.
Since I work with several athletes and individuals seeking weight loss, alongside working in the hospital where I learn at least one new drug/medicine/prescription every single time I am there, I thought I would share a list featured on pg. 5 of the magazine of the medications (listed drugs are also available as generics) that can weaken your frame, in the case that you are concerned about your bones and may be considering a bone density exam.
-Anticonvulsants - Dilantin, phenobarbital: used for epilepsy, nerve pain
-Aromatase inhibitors - Arimidex, Femara: breast cancer
-Estrogen blockers - Depo-Provera, Depo-subQ Provera 104, Lunelle: endometrisosi, pregnancy prevention, pelvic pain, abnormal menstruation
-Glucocorticoids- cortisone, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisone: arthritis, asthma, inflammation, lupus
-Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists- Zoladex, Vantas, Lupron, Synarel: breast cancer, early-onset puberty, endometriosis, infertility, prostate cancer
-Heparin - preventing blood clots
-Immunosuppressant- cyclosporine, prograf: organ transplants, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis
-Proton pump inhibitors-Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Segerid, AcipHex: frequent heartburn, GERD, ulcers
-SSRIs-Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Pexeva, Zoloft: anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder
-Thiazolidinediones- Actos, Avandia, Avandaryl: Type 2 Diabetes
*If you are one of the 26 million people with Type 2 diabetes: Consumper Resports on Health pg 7 explain that aaccording to the FDA, both Actos and Avandia increase the risk of congestive heart failure and carry a black-box warning about the risk. One out of three people in 100 with no history of heart disease will develop heart failure as a result of taking Actos or Avandia. There is also a higher risk of bladder cancer in people who took Actos for more than a year. Avandia is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks.


This week....

Happy 3-year wedding anniversary to my wonderful hubby Karel.

When we were dating back in 2006, I would always tell Karel that we made the best teammates. Fast forward to 2011 (almost 2012!) and I couldn't agree more. What's great about teammates is that they have each others back. They are there for one another when times get tough and they create memories when life seems oh-so-wonderful.
You want to be sure your teammate recognizes your strengths and you don't get upset when your teammate tells you your weaknesses. For you know that the best teammates only want to make you better. They are not selfish and want more for you, than they do for themselves. It's funny how in life you can learn so much from someone else, without recognizing it (at the time) that they are only making you a BETTER you for the future.
What I love the most about Karel is his willingness to go out of his way for anyone. I am not sure if it is love, or just Karel, but he has a way of making it seem "Ok" when he wants me to get out of my comfort zone. I suppose that he often believes in me, more than I believe in my life but because I trust Karel so very much, I often find myself doing things I never once thought possible, all because I have someone who loves me unconditionally. Karel has always accepted me for me and because of that, I have found myself becoming a better person, all because he never encourages me to become someone that I think I am not or can never be.

This is one of my favorite pictures. We had just gotten Campy (about a week earlier) and I was instantly in love with this little guy (we think he was around 10-12 months old when we got him from a foster family who found him behind a building in Amelia Island) and we were 2 weeks away from getting married in Oct 2006.
Campy has really changed Karel and myself as I believe he has really opened our eyes as to how wonderful the world is..if you really live it. Campy goes everywhere with us/me (if you couldn't guess) and we love it that way. Campy has a special way of looking at you, always with eyes that scream "I love you", reminding you that life is never as bad as you think it is.

I think Karel and myself are both really lucky to have each other but our wedding anniversary is even more special because we were lucky enough to have Campy come into our lives.

On another note, I continue to feel inspired by FOOD DAY...

Avocado dip
1 medium avocado
1 heaping tbsp non-fat or greek yogurt (plain)
Pinch of sea salt
Dash of pepper
Chopped onions
Chopped garlic

1. Mix together with fork and refrigerate.

Sweet Kale protein smoothie

2 prunes
1 leaf kale (leaf removed from stem,washed)
1 stalk celery
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
5 almonds (or your favorite nut)
1/2 tbsp PB
1/2 large banana
1 small orange/tangerine
1 scoop whey protein (or your fav protein)
1/2 cup skim milk
Water (as needed)
Ice cubes

1. Mix together in blender/vita-mix.
2. Add water gradually and to meet consistency needs.

Busy tomorrow and live in Jacksonville?

Not only is Jacksonville the BEST city for having so many fast, fun, passionate and healthy triathletes, runners and cyclists..but we have the BEST beer run EVER!! Don't miss it - 6:30pm THURSDAY at Trek Bicycles of Jacksonville (beach location). Costumes encouraged!
Beaches Beer Run will start at the beach TREK store and now finish at Nippers!!!! 4.65 miles of fun then a huge outdoor deck for FREE beer and socializing. They are rolling out the red carpet for the runners on Oct 27th!

Karel is one week away from finishing his cycling season (this weekend is the state road race championships in Clermont, FL as well as the end of the year banquet celebration - can't wait to cheer on Karel!) so although it will just be me and Campy at the beer run this week, Karel absolutely loves running in his off-season...for beer that is :) And don't let him fool you that he is not "a runner". Karel has one sub-40 min 10K under his belt..his first (and only) "running" race!

For all my compression lovers...
If you aren't a lover/user of compression - be sure to put this item on your "holiday" MUST HAVE list. In addition to your CEP active calf sleeves and socks, 110% Play Harder has a new product!!! As if compression could not get any better.....compression tights + ice therapy !!! The 110%. Play Harder clutch-tights are now available!!!

And don't forget to put some Oakley Breast Cancer Awareness items (clothing and sunglasses) on your MUST HAVE list!
I just got the Hoodie which is perfect for a fall day, not to mention super comfortable to wear around the house or to put on after you clean up from a workout.
10% of the proceeds from each sale of the special edition YSC products go to the Young Survival Coalition® (YSC), which is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Lastly, I hope you enjoy my latest article on LAVA online - Plate Not Pills- Beta Carotene
Plates Not Pills: Beta-carotene : LAVA Magazine


dark green OVERLOAD!! never a bad thing so long as we focus on nutritional balance to meet our individual health, lifestyle and performance goals.

I suppose I was incredibly inspired by FOOD DAY!

I can't describe my excitement when I started my latest creation in my kitchen. Always with a vision and a primary ingredient, but never with a plan.

Although I know the many benefits of Kale - which is now the "superman" of dark greens" - I continue to say "I haven't yet learned to appreciate it". When I traveled abroad to Japan in 7th grade, I was told by my teacher that we should try new things but if we don't like what we try, to say "I haven't yet learned to appreciate it" rather than "I don't like it". Perhaps the former saying, rather than later, gives us some accountability that eventually we WILL like what we are trying.

I find it incredibly important to be creative in your kitchen when trying new foods. Certain ingredients may over power other ingredients and when you are trying to introduce new foods, your taste buds may not be familiar with what you are trying. Never tell yourself that you will never like something because as I told the kids yesterday "it takes many, many, many times to try something healthy before you realize that you really do like it".

Last night I went full-out. DARK GREEN OVERLOAD!! I almost added bell peppers and broccoli but I wanted to be sure that I didn't have too much vitamin K and A in my meal. Although I am very passionate about eating a plant-based diet, I realize even too much fruits and veggies can be negative to our health - particularly if we are excluding other foods (vitamins and minerals) that will help us reach nutritional balance.

For our dinner last night, which was shared by Karel - who LOVED this meal, I made collard green wraps and kale chips and a mango (on the side) for extra vitamin C to soak up the iron in the dark greens. Plus, the mango gave a great sweetness to the meal. By the time I finished this meal, I was super satisfied with all my taste buds super happy.

Kale Chips

Bunch of Kale (stems removed, cleaned)
no-salt seasoning
sea salt
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. On large cooking sheet, place torn kale leaves.
3. Drizzle olive oil on kale leaves and rub to cover leaves (gently)
4. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt and your favorite no-salt seasoning.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown and chip is crunchy.

*Once kale chips are done, turn oven to 425 degrees if you would like to make collard green wraps as well.

Collard wraps w/ avocado and fresh mozzarella

Collard Greens
Tuna (for meat eater)
Tofu (for vegetarian)
Mozzarella cheese (fresh, part-skim)
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cook corn, onions and mushrooms in large skillet on medium heat, in a little olive oil.
3. As veggies are cooking, open clean collard green leaf (stem removed) and rub with avocado. Place a few thin slices of cheese on green.
4. Take a few spoonfuls of cooked veggies and your choice of protein and place on center of green. Cover with a little cilantro (to your taste). Sprinkle with pepper.
5. Roll collard green and flip over on non-stick pan, sprayed with a little non-stick cooking spray (or drizzle of olive oil, rubbed on pan).
6. Cook in oven for 5-8 minutes or until slightly toasted.
7. Use leftover veggies for a side.

Karel's plate:

My plate:


I have way too much to blog about..which I hope is a good thing!

I hope you had a fantastic FOOD DAY!! I am super excited to share my morning, which involved speaking to over 300 school kids about the importance of adding more COLOR to their diet. I also had the kids try NEW foods like fresh cilantro (pic below) as well as quinoa, edamame, greek yogurt, raisins (a sweet alternative to candy) and wheat thins (a whole grain alternative to chips).

I was so inspired by Food Day that I couldn't wait to make dinner. When my tri-season comes to an end, I gladly welcome the cooler temperatures as well as my ability to try new foods and get more creative in the kitchen. Whereas I LOVE summer fruits, I absolutely LOVE the flavors that come from fall/winter foods.
For I am on a journey, just like you, in appreciating the goodness of wholesome foods and because I have no "rules" in my diet, I believe in following the same advice that I give to others. I believe that falling in love with a plant based diet is not about what you CAN'T eat but what you CAN eat. Therefore, by reducing my emphasis on processed foods, I focus on natural foods (not necessarily organic as I personally do not follow an organic diet) with little to no ingredients. I don't see boxed, canned or restaurant food as "bad" and I don't believe in wasting my energy telling others what NOT to eat. Rather, I welcome those items on occasion and understand that they make up a small part of my diet (thus they don't affect my health, performance and well-being in a negative way because I de-emphasize them in my diet). Plus, if something has more than "a little" ingredients, don't feel guilty when you eat it! I believe that the easiest way to change habits is to always look forward to one thing in a meal. Therefore, if you are trying something new, like a new way to prepare eggplant or squash, don't be afraid to add something to the meal (portion control) that you really really enjoy. I think of it like parents and kids. Parents tell their kids to eat dinner first to get their vitamins and minerals, before eating dessert. The kids are still eating dessert but the best part is that the child ate dinner which provides nutrients to encourage an improvement in health. If you are eating a beautiful filling salad but topping it with your favorite pita chips or croutons - think of it as a great thing that you spent the time to prepare a colorful meal, full of vitamins and minerals. More often than not, you will find yourself controlling cravings, feeling more control over eating and actually looking forward to new diet changes, because of your ability to enjoy a little of everything rather than try to be so strict or "perfect".
Life is all about a journey and I am on the ride, just like you. The best part is that once you jump on the ride, you will stay on it because there is no pressure as to how fast or slow you go. You can take your time as to how long it takes you to get "there" and it is up to you as to what direction you will take (often there will be lots of "turn-around" points).

Although I don't believe that you need to be a vegetarian to be a successful athlete or to live a quality, balanced and healthy life..this quote makes me smile.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” -Albert Einstein

So, speaking of HOT press!!
If you get a chance today, check out the newly released FITNESS Magazine (Nov/Dec 2011)! As you are reading all the information, be sure to read pg 68 and 70. An inspiring story that I think many of you can relate to! I am so happy to see such as a successful ending to this project, that I worked on for a few months early this summer. A new vegetarian lost 15 lbs through a healthy diet and exercise! Don't miss my suggestions on pg 70 for a sample menu and a few healthy tips to reaching your weight loss goals.


Happy Food Day!!

I invite you to try a full day of REAL food. One day to put away/pass on the bars, frozen lunches, fast-food meals and heavily processed foods and to spend today appreciating the food that you put into your body.

A few tips or helpful starters: emphasize foods with little to no ingredients (aim for 5 or less ingredients - all ingredients that you can pronounce and are found in nature), turn 1 "meal" into a "salad", start your day with a satisfying breakfast, eat a piece of whole fruit between meals and eat balanced meals comprised of whole grains or high fiber carbohydrates, lean/low fat protein and healthy unsaturated fats along with fruits and veggies.

Enjoy this designated one day of emphasizing real food as possibly the start of learning how to create plant based meals to fuel your active lifestyle and exercise/training routine.

Here's a few tips from Women's Health magazine (online) published October 21st:
4 Ways YOU Can Help EAT REAL this FOOD DAY
• Replace junk food with the good stuff: Plan snacks and meals around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and yogurt, fish, and lean poultry.
• Eat Local: Buying locally grown food not only helps local farmers and the environment, it also provides tastier, healthier food for you at no extra cost.
• Expand access to food: Some 50 million Americans are “food insecure”—get involved with your local food banks and charities to help end hunger.
• Eat less meat: American factory farms are linked to serious air and water pollution. Cut back on your meat consumption and eat more plants!