12/31/12

Should you make a New Year resolution?

As a professional in the health field, I have many credentials behind my name which would make it easy for me to capitalize on the New Year holiday. With all the resolutioners (is that a word?) out there who desire a change in lifestyle habits (but really want a quick fix because 365 days is just too long to keep up with habits that are likely extreme and unrealistic), it would be easy for me to promise you quick results and instruct you on how to reach your resolution within the next few weeks. However, I will not change what I believe in to promise you something that will come quickly when I know it should not be achieved quickly. No matter what you want for 2013 and your resolutions, there is a reason behind your procrastination on not working hard on your goals in 2012 and likely, all will not change on January 1st and be maintained by Dec 31st 2013. Therefore, I will continue to support my philosophy in that life is a journey and that it is best enjoyed when the diet and exercise routine are in complete balance.

Surprisingly, I am not one for resolutions. For the past 365 days, I have been using my blog and Trimarni facebook page to inspire, motivate and educate others to live a more balanced lifestyle. I recently made a few modifications to my website specifically to my nutrition services in order to help better serve our community. I have recently updated my website - feel free to browse around and send me an email if you are interested in my services - at any point in your lifetime. Throughout the past year, I have been able to help so many athletes and fitness enthusiasts reach personal fitness and body composition goals as well as reach finish lines and personal best times. I have reflected on what worked great, what worked okay and what didn't work and I made changes. To me - that is what a New Year is all about. If we can all spend a little time being thankful for a New Year we can be equally thankful that we had the last year. Certainly you can find a few things that you are proud of and with next year being another opportunity to move you closer to your goals and dreams, it is simply another day in your life. While we don't want to think about a deadline in life, we certainly do not want to waste any days here on Earth.

I don't want to confuse, mislead or depress anyone out there so I will start this blog by saying "YES - tomorrow is a great day to start working towards a New Year. Why wait any longer?"

One year ago, I started my own business. Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC. No surprise- I blogged about it like any other important milestone/experience in my life. As you can guess, this was not an overnight dream-come-true. First, it took 3 years of obtaining my RD credential. Then it took several months of learning how to "own" my own business. Throughout that time, there was a lot of brainstorming as to my vision, short and long term plan, philosophy and focus of my business. I needed to put together the right words to describe the best services that I could offer to others. Services that would allow me to help change the lives of others and in a way that made me feel as if I was being connected with people around the world...people who shared passions and lifestyles, similar to my own or if anything, aspired to reach their own personal goals in life.

I started my business on January 1st, 2012. Talk about a resolution! In the past, I have used the first day of the New Year to reflect on ways that I could be a better person here on Earth. Never have I resolved to let one day be the day when I would start taking better care of my health or being the day when I would start working hard to reach my fitness goals. I have never once considered a "perfect" day to better my diet or exercise routine because those are two very important components of living a healthful lifestyle (certainly I don't need to be a triathlete to be healthy but it is part of my lifestyle and I choose to train for quality, thus keeping my life balanced as a triathlete). I never want one day to pass on by where I disrespect my body when it comes to exercise or the diet. As you know, I don't believe in a perfect way of living so whereas others may consider some of my actions as "bad" or "off-limit", I see it as an occasional day because of all the consistent days that come so naturally for me because of many years of reflecting and resolving.

When it comes to resolutions, resolutions often get confused with goals. Hopefully you want to achieve something by x-date or better yourself in or at something and that is fine to say that that is your New Year resolution...but then what? The main difference is that with goals, you are willing to put in the effort to achieve something and after it is achieved, it is time to move on to something else. A goal is something that requires a process, it requires time. And once it is achieved it will likely enhance your lifestyle. Whether it is a goal or a resolution, likely there is something that you don't have now in your life (or a way of living) but eventually you hope to obtain it or conquer it. When you have a goal, you are ok with not having "it" right now because you are ok with progress. With a resolution, you may find yourself rushing the process because of the pressure you are putting on yourself to start this process today (or Jan 1st).

So then comes another issue with resolutions. The positive is that there is a lot of motivation and commitment on January 1st. Likely, the holidays have left you a little "off" with your eating and exercise routine and certainly there is nothing wrong with that when there are 365 days in a year. Around this time, there is a lot of thinking going on in the brains of humans. Stop smoking, start strength training, start eating "healthy", start sleeping better, start spending more time with friends/family, etc. The thought is there but is it really what you want to be doing? Perhaps you are motivated and this time you really do want to make the changes. But why January 1st? What will it mean to you when you do keep that resolution? If you are doing something that doesn't make you happy, doesn't mean a lot to you or feeling like you are setting that resolution to make others happy, there will be little commitment and motivation in 30 days from now. 4 weeks is a long time to do something that doesn't bring you happiness, contentment and joy. If you are doing something that you are not passionate about, that is ok so long as you are open to the idea that eventually you will become passionate about it and that you hope that it will become something that you enjoy. But if you are trying the same thing and expecting the same "failed" results, there's not question as to why you keep running out of fuel by week 4 of your resolution. Sit down with yourself and search deep inside as to what is most important to you. Expand on your resolution so that January 1st is the motivation you need to get started but in years from now you will not overlook the many days in life that are also great decision making days for changing your lifestyle.

If you ask me, I am super excited for 2013. Another year, with 365 days to be consistent with healthy living and to work towards personal goals. No need to lose focus of your resolution if you are setting one and no need to feel the need to set one. Whether in your business, personal life, activity routine, sport, health or social life, know what outcome expect to receive when you reach your goal(s).

Starting tomorrow, apply yourself to everything you do in life. DO NOT rush the journey. As I say to my athletes, what's the point in a lean body if you can not do anything with it. If you are going to make changes in your life, vow to "do better" at anything that has not worked and trust yourself that your plan of action has a purpose and the actions steps are realistic and maintainable. Be sure you have a great network of social support and surround yourself with people who give you energy and will hold you accountable of your own individual goals (not convincing you to join the masses). Be driven by internal factors, not things in your life that seem like it is the "right thing" to do. If you are investing your energy in a change, consider the intrinsic factors such as enjoying the highs and lows that come with change. Avoid being so focused on the end result that you lose focus on the goal as well as accepting the challenges that come along with change.

Although the New Year can be a great launch to a new way of living or thinking, whatever you are wanting to achieve in 2013 and beyond, there is no reason to ever feel defeated if you promise to yourself that every day has opportunity to be a life-changing day.

Happy New Year!



12/29/12

Homemade Pumpkin Bread


About a week ago I was craving Pumpkin Bread while doing a long swim (5000 yards) at the YMCA. Sure, I could have picked some up at the grocery store, Starbucks or Panera but that's not like me. For the majority of the time, my cravings are satisfied by preparing items at home. I realize that in today's society, the convenience to food to satisfy cravings makes it really easy to obtain food when we want it and "need" it. I also believe it makes it just as easy to crave food that we may not otherwise crave if we knew we had to prepare it ourselves in order to eat it.  Although, there are occasions when both Karel and myself crave something different, this doesn't happen a lot but I still find a way to incorporate it into our diet in a controlled manner. We don't speak of food negatively in our house so we avoid anything like "I'm being bad" "I shouldn't eat this" etc and we don't do anything extreme in this house like cleanses, juice fasts or even a list of off-limit foods.  That is not our philosophy with food. If we eat well most of the time we don't have to worry about the rest of the time.

After Karel did the Jax Bank 1/2 Marathon, he was craving ice cream. We don't crave ice cream on a daily basis and that's likely because we don't keep it in the house. Not for the reason that it is a trigger food but we learned to not "need" it on a daily basis like we did in years past when we were dating. Likely, this is because I have put my emphasis on creating satisfying meals and not intentionally leaving room at dinner for "dessert". Oh, so Karel did end up eating ice cream - he drove down the street to TCBY and made himself an ice cream treat. Enjoyed fully and no guilty feeling involved.

I came across this article written in 1987 called "Whatever Happened to Home Cooking."

When I think about all the allergies, intolerances and issues that people have with food, I simply think about the eating habits of people in society that have occurred over the past 20 years. It's not just about the obvious culprits like portion sizes when eating out (along with excessive sodium), skipping meals, eating habits secondary to poor sleeping habits/sleep deprivation or processed foods but the forgotten past of the joy of home cooking, eating slow (or making time to eat) and sitting down to eat. Now we live in a very sedentary world where wholesome food is de-valued and comes across as too time-consuming and costly and "health-claimed" processed food is overly emphasized, cheap and easy.

In anticipation for the New Year, I look forward to your reactions when you begin to appreciate home cooking and most importantly, taking the time every day to appreciate the food that you choose to fuel your lifestyle and workout routine.

Pumpkin BreadI used a recipe from Cooking Light w/ a few modifications (listed below is the recipe I used):
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup baked pumpkin (I baked a small pumpkin in the oven and pureed in my blender. Feel free to save the time and use 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree - NOT pumpkin pie filling) 
  • Cooking spray
  • Sliced almonds 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 7 ingredients (flour through cloves) in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
  3. Combine sugar and the next 5 ingredients (sugar through pumpkin) in a bowl, and stir well with a whisk until smooth. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  4. Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray (I used 1 loaf pan for the bread and the rest of the batter for muffins), and sprinkle with almonds.
  5. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool loaves completely; cut each loaf into 12 slices.
  6. Keep refrigerated for up to 5-6 days in sealed container or bag.


12/27/12

Color in Motion 5K



Looking for a fun event this weekend? Needing a little color in your bland lifestyle? Look no further - Color in Motion 5K is coming to Jacksonville and they have given me a discount for all the colorful runners who enter TRIMARNI15 when registering online. I was not paid for this endorsement but rather, excited to support families and individuals who enjoy a little twist on the same-old running routine.

Enjoy!

More details HERE

12/26/12

How's that working for you?

 
 
We are on the verge of the New Year so that means the hype is building for companies and guru's to prove that they have the best pill, fitness equipment or fad diet to help you finally reach your fitness and body composition goals. As I continue to read about weight loss pills that are dangerous for the consumers (like this one called WOW), I am sure I don't need to convince you that weight loss pills do not solve long-term problems.

I really love this picture because I feel it holds true to so many things in life. So much to do and not enough time. As someone who loves to fill my plate just as much as I love crossing things off my long to-do list, it is not exclusive to procrastinators to leave everything to the last minute. Sometimes, we let time pass by too quickly not recognizing that every day brings an opportunity to bring us closer to our goals. The bigger issue is that we can lazy and make excuses so that when we feel the pressure, we expect results. Thus, it is when we feel like there is not enough time, people are motivated by quick results....results that never last and rarely work.

However, despite dedicating the past 11 months to trying to motivate, inspire and educate you on how to create lifestyle habits and to bring you to a more balanced active and healthful lifestyle, it is likely that a few days, weeks or months of over-indulging and/or minimal physical activity have caused you to reach your breaking point. Of course, there's no better time than the New Year to resolve those habits that are moving you further away from your goals but why is it that after 11 months, you are fed-up with habits...habits that result from actions and actions that result from thoughts?

Certainly, if you need help from a professional, seek help before you find yourself setting 2014 resolutions after 364 days of doing the same things yet expecting the same results. For most people, you have the capability to change habits but perhaps you are confused as to how to make changes that will bring long-lasting results?

If you are someone who constantly finds yourself questioning if habits are bringing you closer to your goals, here are 5 of my daily tips that may help you live a more balanced lifestyle:

1) Get a good night of sleep. Try to eat dinner at least 2 hours before bed and create a balanced and satisfying meal that does not leave you stuffed and does not leave you wanting an  after-dinner "snack". If you aren't hungry enough to eat an apple, you aren't hungry (but OK to enjoy up to .5 ounce of dark chocolate or 1.5 ounce dark chocolate daily). Instead of eating or stimulating your brain w/ the computer, phone or TV, try to go to be 30-60 min earlier than normal in order to get a restful night of sleep.

2. Develop a healthy coping mechanism. I use Campy to de-stress me instead of food or alcohol. Find something that makes you feel good when you feel overwhelmed, sad or stressed. Look up quotes, funny animal pictures or just take a walk. Food and alcohol don't solve problems.

3. Create a routine that allows for consistency. If you find yourself like a zombie by Friday due to your training routine alongside balancing work, family, etc. consider a "rest" day on Wed. Too busy to make a lunch every day of the week - aim for bringing your lunch 3 days a week instead of eating out 5 days a week. Always find yourself dragging at work by 3pm, save your favorite email or project for the afternoon so that you have motivation to stay strong all day long.

4. Prepare meals when you aren't hungry. Don't expect to spend 30 -60 min on food prep if you are starving and with low blood sugar. Seek out times during your day to make a few items for meals when you wouldn't normally eat. Cook grains or start the crock pot in the am as you are getting ready for work or pack your lunch for tomorrow immediately after you finish dinner (before you sit on the couch or get to house-work).

5. Don't expect quick results, set yourself up for success not failure. Need to lose weight? How about aiming to lose 2 lbs in 1 month instead of 10? If you happen to lose 5 - you will be more delighted than if you fail to lose 10. Don't expect every changed habit to result in a change in body composition or performance. The body is a very exceptional thing. Don't confuse progress with backtrack. If you find yourself happier, healthier, more productive, more energetic, more satisfied, more balanced or more consistent than yesterday - you have made progress. If you find yourself in a cycle of habits that keep you frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted, isolated and sad - it only takes one change to prove to your exceptional body that you are ready to make progress.

12/25/12

The holidays - Czech style

I love the holiday season - it all starts around Thanksgiving and then we get to celebrate a New Year. The last two months of the year sure do make it seem like time goes by rather quickly because before we know it, we will be approaching 2014!
 


Last night I was thinking about the holidays and why things are so special around this time. When you only get to celebrate something once a year (holiday, event, birthday), things are much more appreciated (or at least they should be). The time that goes into cooking, the extra effort to show someone that you care about them and the planning that goes into making sure that everyone is happy and safe. I could go on about why I feel that we should enjoy the holidays and not feel restricted, guilty or depressed when it comes to the diet and exercise routine but it really just comes down to understanding that every year we get the privilege to enjoy the holidays because we have made it through another year.
 
 
I'm sure most of you flip on the Christmas Story on TBS around this time of the year and watch at least one showing of the movie as it airs for 24-hours straight. If not the Christmas Story, one of my favorites, the National Lampoons Christmas Vacation would be among the all-time holiday favorite movies.
 
I'm sure you have seen one of those movies dozens of times but yet every year, you watch it again and laugh as if you are watching it for the first time. After 364 days, you forget little details but are quickly reminded of why you enjoy watching it - because it makes you feel good. Sure, you could watch the movie anytime during the year - April, July...but there's something special about watching a movie that was meant to be enjoyed around the holidays. Watch it too much throughout the year and come December, you will be burnt out and may even be annoyed as to the thought of watching it again.
 
This is a good example as to why I enjoy having those "occasional" times in life to enjoy different things - food, places, events. It just makes everything that much more special knowing that a year or so has passed and the same (yet new in a way) opportunity to make more and new memories is gladly welcomed.
 
Since Karel's family lives in Czech Republic, the holidays can be a sad time for him as I am sure you would feel the same way if you haven't been home in 13 years. One day, I hope to share Karel's story of how and why he came to America with only a backpack and wanting a better life for himself but for now, I am happy to share pictures from our Czech Christmas. I really enjoy experiences in life that present an opportunity to make memories. Every year since Karel and I started living together, we make his traditional Czech meal which includes fish, potato salad (w/ root vegetables) and Vanocka (Czech Christmas bread - similar to Challah). Of course, there are a few modifications (tofu for my protein and no fish soup made of Carp like Karel had when he was in Europe) but overall, the traditions are still there and it is a nice opportunity for Karel to share stories w/ me as I enjoy his family traditions. Of course, no Czech Christmas would be complete without cookies so every year we anxiously await a package from Karel's mom, filled with homemade Czech cookies. This year, she did not disappoint as we were amazed by the 26 different varieties of cookies, all prepared with love. Karel's mom started on the cookies near the end of November/first week of December and mailed them to the US about 2 weeks ago. She packages them very tightly in a container and although most of them are beautiful when we get them, it's the broken ones that taste the best!
 
Always keep in mind that through a balanced active and healthful lifestyle, you can make memories every day. Therefore, no matter what holiday you choose to celebrate or how you choose to do it, it is during the holiday season that we are quickly reminded that our daily lifestyle is a direct result of our daily actions. Always enjoy yourself on a daily basis but consider how you can find comfort in saving a few things in your life for the special occasions. For most people, life brings stress, busy schedules, uncontrollable emotions, exhaustion and restless evenings. It's easy to get too wrapped up the hype of living and forget how to slow down. Even through that busy time, sometimes we find ourselves gravitating towards those "occasional" items and not really enjoying them like we should.
 
The holidays should be a time of happiness, love, good health and relaxation- thus a perfect and appropriate time to take full advantage of those occasional items that can be enjoyed with a healthy mind and body.
 
Thank you for checking out our pics - Happy Holidays!
 
 
A taste of "winter" - Sunday's first workout included removing frost from the car.
 

My homemade Vanocka. This year it came out better than ever and tasted great! I'm still struggling with the dough and getting it to rise properly so the bread was a little dense but still delicious!
I follow this recipe. One day, I will make it with Karel's mom to see how the expert makes it.

I LOVE this picture. Karel took this on 12/24 when he got home from work. I was still working at the hospital and I couldn't stop laughing at our "guard" dog. No one has a chance trying to steal our Czech cookies!


Plate 1.


Plate 2. The two plates are only 1/2 of the amount that she sent. We will try to pace ourselves this year...although we always say that and it never happens. They are SO good!


Karel's homemade potato salad. So delicious! The flavor is unbelievable!


A beautiful dinner spread, shared with my Czech hubby. I always love to hear his stories like when Karel was young and he would steal cookies from his mom as she was making them. Of course, telling her that he is just making sure they taste ok when he was caught.


Campy in his new fleece and enjoying his new toy.


Campy exhausted from destroying his toy in less than 5 minutes. Mission accomplished for Campy.


Too much fun....sleeping and thinking about all the memories he made this year.
 
video
 

12/21/12

Sweet treats for the holidays

I am not a baker but every now and then I put on my "dessert" apron in order to come up with a sweet treat creation. OK - so my creations are not that impressive and I wouldn't go so far as to call it "baking" but one of the best parts of making desserts is sharing the treats with others. I also believe that if I am going to make a dessert for someone else to enjoy, it better be enjoyed by all - including myself. I realize many people make desserts and never eat them because they are 'not healthy' but I don't understand the reasoning behind that - why would you serve something to others that you wouldn't enjoy? I feel that the better logic is to make sure that your portion at home is not too overwhelming that you feel triggered to eat that food morning, noon and night. Keep in mind that if you eat well most of the time, you don't have to worry about the rest of the time. Through a balanced diet and a healthy relationship with food, you will learn that when you emphasize the food that nourishes your body and fuels your lifestyle, there just isn't enough room for the rest of the stuff that is typically de-emphasized in the diet. Thus, you can still enjoy and not feel guilty when eating the occasional food but certainly, those first few bites should taste amazing because it is a special treat and perhaps that's all you need to feel satisfied after your meal.

For a sweet holiday gift, how about trying my chocolate drizzled popcorn. It's a very easy creation that is quick to make and super yummy to eat. I made some for the dietitians at Baptist South today since I was asked to work there today. Next week I will be at Baptist Beaches. I also made some for the employees at the Trek Store - hopefully to keep their bellies happy as they sell lots of bikes to bike-lovers, both young and old.

                                                           Chocolate drizzled popcorn
2 tbsp kernels (per person)
1/2 cup chocolate morsels
Sea salt
 
1. In brown paper lunch bag, place kernels (2 tbsp). Fold top over 2 times leaving plenty of room for the kernels to pop. Microwave for 2 minutes or until kernels stop popping. Empty popcorn into a large bowl to remove unpopped kernels.
2. Transfer 1/2 popcorn (without unpopped kernels) to a large shallow dish (a baking dish will work fine).
3. Microwave chocolate for 2 minutes in small bowl, stir w/ fork. If chocolate is not easy to stir, add a little water. If needed, microwave an additional 30 sec until chocolate is soft and is slightly dripping from spoon - it may be clumpy.
4. Drizzle chocolate on popcorn and wipe fork on popcorn to lightly cover the kernels. You will get a little messy doing this so make sure your hands are clean.
5. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt (or a few turns of the sea salt shaker).
6. Repeat w/ the remainder of the popcorn on top of the drizzled popcorn - this will help w/ even coating of the chocolate. May need to add a little water (1 tsp) and reheat for 15-20 seconds.
7. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to let the chocolate cool.
8. Place into zip lock baggies or bins and decorate as you wish (I added a silver ribbon the side).



My next creation was created for my Plate Not Pills monthly column for LAVA Magazine. I wanted to do a "dessert" for the holidays and with vitamin E as my key nutrient, I decided to come up with a sunflower creation.

Sunflower granola nuggets

This is one of my favorite creations I have ever  made and because it makes 22 nuggets, you can crumble a few of them to make your own homemade granola. These would make for a perfect after school snack for the kiddos, a sweet guilt-free treat after a meal or a perfect holiday gift or dessert at a party.



Makes 22 nuggets
 
Ingredients
¼ cup sunflower oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg
1/8 cup water
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 cup oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup your choice crunchy cereal
¼ tsp salt
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
Preparation
 
1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two non-stick cookie sheets with a little nonstick spray.
2. Combine wet ingredients in small bowl and dry ingredients in large bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix with a fork until evenly combined.
4. Roll or spoon golf-ball sized cookie dough onto the cookie sheets.
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the bottom of each nugget becomes slightly golden brown.
(if your nuggets crumble while eating, not to worry. Enjoy your sunflower granola!)

Nutrition facts (per 1 nugget): 72 calories, 4 g fat, 9 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 62 mg sodium, 2 g protein, 1.13 mg vitamin E

12/19/12

Finding time for healthy living - no more excuses



We are expected to get relatively chilly here in Jacksonville over the next few days. I have two rides on the training plan for this weekend so I have my winter-riding gear all ready to ensure a comfortable workout. Campy was all bundled up last night as he was a bit chilly from his evening walk. 

When you think about children and animals, they sure do to depend on us to keep them  healthy, safe and well. It's not like Campy can go buy himself a sweater and put it on to keep himself warm. It is up to me, his mommy, to make sure he is not suffering when he is out in the cold. I'm sure you do (or would do) the same for your children (furry or human) for they rely on you to make sure they have the right clothes to keep them warm when the temperatures drop. Always better to be safe than sorry.

Thinking about your own lifestyle as an active adult,  I'm sure you are quite impressive when it comes to planning ahead. You check the weather and depending on the forecast you know you have some shopping to do for some new "seasonal" clothing. Or, you get yourself ready for cooler temps by preparing your seasonal wardrobe well before your upcoming workouts. It's no different for work-clothes but of course, it's much more fun to shop for new exercise clothing when it comes to training throughout the year. 

You know how hard it can be to jump out of bed and start your morning workout without a glitch, so you discovered that having your workout clothes all laid out from the night prior makes it super easy to get into your rhythm in the early morning hours. You hate it when you don't have your Garmin or iPod charged for a workout so instead of making the same mistake twice, you have developed a habit of always charging your gadgets immediately after a workout so that no matter when you are planning your next workout, you and your gadgets are ready.  You probably have a few favorite outfits that you perform the best in so you make sure that days in advance, the outfit is washed so that it is ready for you to wear on race day. 


So, why can't we all have that same excitement when it comes to the planning of the diet or being consistent with daily exercise? 

Consider the time you spend throughout the day doing things that make you a better person. If you feel like your life is devoted to work, life and family, that is a good combination. However, in order to succeed in life you must find the time for you and your health before you have to make the time for illness. It may sound extreme but consider your diet and exercise routine as two vital components of the equation of living a long and quality-filled life. 


As a society, we love to compare ourselves to one another. So, let's stop that right now. Focus on yourself, your own family and your own goals. You have the time for meal planning and developing long lasting healthy dietary and exercise habits but right now you are too focused on other priorities which likely have immediate results. You show up for work late, you risk getting fired. You are behind on paying bills, your credit is affected. You accidentally slept in, you are stressed because you are sitting in traffic instead of being in a meeting. We immediately recognize the results of our actions in so many areas of life.....except for the diet and exercise routine - well, at least until it is too late. 

Perhaps we know that in today's society, we do not have to feel immediate effects of our actions when it comes to the diet because we don't have to risk starvation by not bringing meals/snacks to work because food is convenient no matter where we go. In today's society, we do not have to grow our own food or even prepare our own food because someone else will not only make your food but serve it to you and clean up after you. All you have to do is pay money for their time. 

Convinced you don't have time or just not recognizing how your life will change when you make the time? Give yourself 3 good reasons in the area of diet, fitness and lifestyle that will override a handful of excuses as to why you haven't made the time to move yourself closer to your goals. 

Don't be a victim of your own actions. Instead of making excuses, take action. Make things simple and not overwhelming. Whereas many things in today's society can make it conveniently easy to be unhealthy, taking the stairs, drinking water throughout the day, buying frozen veggies and going for a 10 min walk in the morning are four easy ways of healthy living and do not require a lot of time or energy. 

Take responsibility for your own actions and give up the excuses. Likely you are only disappointing yourself as you make an excuse that weighs heavy on your shoulders despite you having the ability to act in a favorable manner to move you one step closer to your goals. 

Give yourself a to-do list and use a day planner to schedule time for health living. Before you know it, your healthy lifestyle will be something that you have learned to love and you will question why it took you so long to stop the excuses and make the time for healthy living. 

12/18/12

Train smarter to train harder

Well, I'm happy to say that my injury is almost gone. YIPPE for being smart. What was likely about to develop into a really bad case of plantar fasciitis was minimized by icing, Alleve (since I rarely take anti-inflammatories, maybe 10 or less a year, they work when I need them to work), foam rolling, ball rolling and stretching. Realizing that I can still bike and swim, I did not "test" the injury at all with any running after my calf became extremely tight on Wednesday afternoon. Every day I am feeling better and better and I am more and more thankful that I acted before and did not react after the fact. No race but I'm likely back to running in less than 2 weeks. I'll take it!

I would say that I am 90% healed so I will wait until I can go a full day without feeling anything in my foot/calf and then I will wait 2 more days before I resume running. As a recommendation to others who are injured, do not neglect the other side of your body when you are injured.  The same focus I give on stretching and rolling (especially my ITB and piriformis which is a daily routine twice a day) is being given to my left foot.

Thankfully, I have learned that prevention is cheaper than medicine. But I can't hesitate to tell you that if you are someone who experiences ongoing or painful injuries, please get it checked out as you will waste more time and energy google-ing and trying to treat yourself. Visit a sport physician and then see a physical therapist. They know their stuff and they will give you practical advice and help you out to move in the right direction. Be sure to find one that specializes in your sport so that they are very familiar with your daily exercise routine and goals.

I am working on a few presentations for January and February in which I will be talking with running groups and triathlon groups on training smarter to train harder. As age group athletes, I feel there is a lot of confusion out there as to how we can reach performance goals or personal athletic goals and not feel overwhelmed in the process. One thing I am seeing a lot of right now is athletes who are eager to start "training" again and are jumping right back into structured training with all the intensity and volume added in like it was just yesterday that they were peaking for their A race. Or, the athlete has not taken a break (only to "recover" from the last race) and is going hard again.

I am noticing athletes with a lot of energy in the beginning of a training plan (especially at the beginning of the New Year) so any free time is being taken up with "exercise" - AKA "junk".

 For many of my athletes, they are in an unstructured structured phase of training. The progression to structured training can be hard for any athlete because you never know how the body will respond and with short term goals in mind during every workout, it's easy to want to do too much too soon because you feel good.

The transition phase to more structured training should be around three to four weeks depending on how long you took yourself out from structured training. It's good to take a break but what we need to avoid is losing fitness. We need a break for the mind and body and the first priorities when we get back into a routine is strength training, flexibility work, focusing on the daily diet (prior to working on "sport nutrition) and weaknesses. Keep in mind that as an athlete, you are training for adaptations to the physiology of the body.
If you are just "exercising" you are focused on achieving x-miles or x-amount of time.
When you are training, your body is under stress. Thus, the workout has a plan and a purpose. Changes in stroke volume, cardiac output, oxygen uptake, hemoglobin levels, lung capacity, resting heart rate, VO2, an increased size in slow and fast twitch muscle fibers and muscle hypertrophy are all adaptations that occur when you train smart.

Although I am all about balance in life and with sport, I constantly remind my athletes that it will get harder. For now, they can thank me now for periodized training and making consistent gains that will pay off by race day.

When you have a training plan from a coach or put together your own plan, avoid doing too much too soon. Be ok with having a lot of energy at first because you don't want to waste energy on the first month of training only to find yourself burnout and injured 7, 8 or 9 months down the road. I encourage you to think about your training in training blocks - perhaps 1 month at a time with goals that you want to accomplish in each month. Consider the other variables in your life such as diet, sleep, flexibility and stress management that will also play an impact on your progression in fitness.

Here are two really great reads that I came across to help you develop a healthier relationship with exercise/training and to help you train smarter. Any questions, send me an email or comment on my blog. I enjoy responding to comments personally via email (or phone call if needed).

The art of recovery - By Matt Dixon
Common Mistakes made by triathletes - By Wayne Goldsmith

12/16/12

Putting training to the test!



I have spent the majority of my higher education learning about the physiology of the body during exercise. Thus, I love creating training plans for myself and my athletes that when training stress is applied, the body adapts for physiological gains. No training session is without hard work and every workout has a purpose. I love training my body and mind knowing that come race day I can perform with my trained body and current level of fitness.

Every day we make choices. Some choices we feel the effects right away whereas other choices we don't realize the outcome of our decision until later in life.

With 13,500 yards completed between Thurs and Saturday in the pool, I had plenty of time to think about my decision to not race the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon. The race that I have dedicated every run training session to in the past 8 weeks. The race that I was determined to PR and break 1:30 and the race that would take me to a new level w/ my run training.

I achieved a lot in my run training but I was bummed when my right calf got very tight on Wednesday afternoon. Wearing different dress shoes over the past few days was likely the culprit but you can't control everything in life..only your reactions. I couldn't stop reminding myself that I have come so far with my run training and that was not something that was making me determined to run. It was a positive thought that made me so lucky that I had the opportunity to come so far w/ my run fitness.

I didn't cry, I didn't freak out and call every doctor I know and I didn't keep any emotions inside. I discussed my decision with my mental coach Gloria and of course, communicated with Karel in a calm manner.

With enjoyment that I have the ability as an athlete to make good decisions, I decided on Saturday (yesterday) that as my calf was feeling almost back to normal that I would not take a single risk in running the half marathon. Knowing that I trained for a PR, I purposely did not register just for the reason that if anything were to happen, I would not want to feel pressure to do this race. Also, I knew nothing good would come from running a race where I previously hesitated about running in it.

I am not in pain, I am not injured. I am taking precautions and I will not run until I feel 100% + 2 days. I can run without pain as Campy has made me run him two times around the block but I don't want to do any "tester" runs as I feel that is the worst thing an athlete can do is to "test" things out as the inflammation is going away and pain/aches subside.

I thought about this decision in the pool because I love to swim. I also thought about my decision today while I was on the bike because I love to bike. I also love to run.....but not in pain or with an injury. I love my active lifestyle and I believe that as a competitive athlete, I am focused on a consistent active lifestyle of training my body for performance gains. So, sometimes things change in the routine and instead of wasting energy on what you can't do - you just focus on what you can do. Instead of a minute decision turning into a 6-8 week mistake/regret, I am thankful for my acquired ability to not be a stubborn athlete. Not every decision is stubborn as I do realize that as athletes we have a lot of decisions to make on a day to day basis. But, there are times that we know what we should do and not what we want to  do.

Although I can honestly say that in the past two years, I haven't had to think about a possible injury, before then, I was constantly making poor decisions and not being respectful to my body. Now I am a smarter athlete who knows what it feels like to race and train to my full potential with a strong, healthy body.

So, here was my thought process...

A tight calf that could not be "healed" with a massage this week means something isn't right. A tight calf may not be the reason why I am scared to run but it is my limiter. A tight calf may turn into a calf strain, a hurt achilles, plantar fascitis, shin splints, ITB tightness and perhaps even a stress fracture. None of this is worth it for a one hour and 29 minute race (well unlikely I would have been able to PR if I was hurt) and a t-shirt and a medal.

My calf is much better but I wasn't able to pass my two day rule. I am still working on lingering inflammation around my foot. It is strange that this developed during my taper but after a massage and after wearing different shoes for my TV segment something happened not in a run and never before in my run training.  So all I can do is reflect, write it down in my Training Peaks and make sure I learn from this.

Learning lessons: I will go back to my two week prep for a race which includes 1 week of recovery then 1 week of taper (reduced volume, high intensity with adequate recovery). I get at least 1 massage a month but for my pre-race massage, I will get it on Sunday evening and take off on Monday. Lastly, I will remind myself that I have the ability to make good decisions with my body. I am so proud of myself for not racing and although at first it was a little frustrating, I did not waste any energy on this situation. My life is too good for me to miss out on anything.

So, now I can just live in Karel's success for he did race the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon. Karel was a little sick with a stomach bug on Wed and Thurs and was really weak and tired for both days. He was able to bounce back to 70% on Fri and felt 90% better on Sat. I did not pressure him to do or not to do the race so he waited until 5pm on Saturday to make the decision to race. He did not train Thurs or Fri and did an easy 4 mile run on Saturday to test out his energy.

This morning Karel left around 6am for the race down the road and I was on my bike by 7am. I had a great pain free ride and anxiously awaited a text from Karel. I kept checking my watch and with the race starting at 7am, I figured he would text by 9am.

I pulled over on my bike to check my phone and received a text from Karel:

"That was the hardest thing ever! I suffered the last three miles. 1:22:22."

WOW - I couldn't believe it! A 7 minute PR for Karel in his 2nd ever stand-alone half marathon. He trained really hard and smart for this race and really pushed himself to see what he was capable of at this distance. He is now feeling "almost" back to normal and is looking forward to "triathlon" training. :)

RACE RESULTS

6:17 min/mile pace
4th age group (35-39)

I am really looking forward to 2013 and excited for the opportunity to share a full triathlon season with Karel.

Here's to smart decisions, healthy minds and bodies and working hard for dreams and goals.



12/14/12

Do you have time for an injury?

It concerns me that athletes think that stress fractures are simply a natural occurrence of being an athlete and training for an event (or trying to become more physically fit). I have never had a stress fracture and will do anything in my power not to get one. However, I have had my battles with long-term painful muscular injuries and I am constantly finding myself learning how to be a more proactive athlete.

 I realize that many injuries are accidents in that as athletes, we have a hard time recognizing a normal ache from painful, injury-provoking ache. And sometimes, accidents do happen such as rolling an ankle when running on uneven surfaces or crashing on the bike. But as athletes we are always teetering on the edge of getting injured because we like to push to see our limits and with a natural tendency to think "if some is good, more is better", simple decisions often come with major consequences.

As age group athletes, we are not paid to do a sport which ultimately keeps us physically fit. So, when it comes to an activity that you enjoy, that helps you burn calories, relieve stress, spend time with others and occupy your free time, why do you let your love for consistency outweigh your ability to be flexible and to be proactive? Sure, you can come up with a dozen reasons as to why you need to do that race or that training session but I have a feeling if you were to ask an athlete who is now injured or is rehabbing from an injury if he/she could have had a do-over, they would likely be jealous that you are not the one in pain or painfully having to sit on the sidelines for an undisclosed number of weeks/months. I'm sure they could easily answer, "was it worth it?"

 If only they would have listened to their instinct (or created one) and to not let a moment of  being in the now come ahead of thinking about the future.

As an athlete, I get it. It's tough to dedicate time, training and money for a race and then have to think about the possibility of not doing a race. Despite dedicating every training session to mentally and physically preparing your mind and body for the race, an injury causes you to stay in the present and regret the past. The future only goes so far as a finishing line and determination to get there outweighs any long-term consequences of your decision to do a race (or upcoming training sessions) with a body that is not physically and mentally healthy.

Without removing my athlete status, I will put on my coaching hat to help you decide if it is really worth it to train and race injured (or on the verge of an injury).

But I told everyone I was doing it and all my training buddies are doing the race. I don't want to miss out.
The one who has to live with an injury is yourself. Race with your training buddies injured, miss out on the upcoming weeks or months of training because you were caught up with peer-pressure or race-hype.  Consider your family, job, friends and your daily responsibilities which require a healthy body and mind to perform optimally on a daily basis. There will always be another race and you can still stay involved by cheering or volunteering at the race. More often than not, a missed race may only cause you to be out for 1/2 the time compared to doing the race. Thus, the quicker you will be back at it with your friends.

But I trained so hard for this race.
You trained to perform with a strong, healthy body and a strong race day performance comes when your mind is your only limiter. Put your ego aside and keep in mind that there will be other races. If you want to impress yourself with your fitness, do so with a body that is in not in pain before or during a race.

But I paid for the race and I don't want to lose my money.
Consider the time lost from training and exercise after you are rehabbing yourself to good health again. Time does not have a price tag. When you are injured you wish time would rush by so you can be back at it again. But when you are in good health you wish you had more time to enjoy the things you love. Consider next time to not register for a race until the day before, if possible. Decide if the price difference between registering early vs the day before is worth it when it comes to losing your money for early registration or having to not worry about losing anything by waiting until the day before a race and making the smart decision not to race.

But I invested so much time, money and energy in training for this race.
There should only be a handful of times in your racing career when you will need to make the call if the race is worth "it". Rather than involving your physical therapist, doctor, etc. all at once to magically heal you in x-weeks/days before a race, consider realistically if you really think that the odds are in your favor in that your team of magicians will heal you and allow you to race injury free and properly recover from the race. Realizing that even if you are experiencing an injury, there are ways to finish a race without doing more damage but you have to be realistic with your approach to racing with an injury. Consider the money for xrays, MRI's, physical therapy, time away from work and any other commitments or activities that may be affected with your decision to not race smart or to race in the first place.

But I think I am getting better. I'll just take it easy.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the race environment and not take it easy. Secondly, your definition of easy may be masked with pain relievers as you may be on the verge of healing but it will only take a matter of minutes or miles to put you back where you were before....if not worse. I have a two day rule. If you are experiencing an injury or pain, wait until you are 100% to assess your status if you should race or train again. Once you are 100%, wait two more days to be on the safe side. If you are 100% again after 2 days, you are good to go. If you are still questioning that lingering ache that won't go away or that is keeping your brain active thinking about whether or not you are healed or  not? Then you aren't ready to race or train again.

But I carbo-loaded or I am worried about my weight.
Simple. Consider not exercising for the next 2-3 months and that will answer your questions if it is really worth it to feel frustrated with your current diet routine or body image and to be even more disrespectful to your body by racing injured only to burn calories. How about thanking your body for all the good workouts OR if you have been struggling with injuries, consider evaluating whether you are eating to train or training to eat.

But I just really want to do it.
Really? Just for a t-shirt and a medal? Consider your racing career. Do you see yourself racing for the next 20 years or do you think only race by race...just trying to get yourself to the next starting line? Keep in mind that your body is impacted in some negative way, every time you take a chance racing or training with an injury. You can only take so many chances before you will experience long-term consequences for your actions. Sure, you  may be tough as nails and with a pain threshold that is unlike anyone else. Is it really worth it to explain to your family and friends that you are sad, depressed and emotionally drained that it was completely within your ability to take a few minutes to weigh the consequences  instead of coming up with a million excuses as to why you had  to do the race? Keep in mind that when you are injured, it affects everyone. Your family, your children, your pets, your boss/employees....everyone. There is a reason why you love doing what you do.

Your active lifestyle makes you feel amazing, healthy and well. Three things that can not be achieved with an injured body.

So, do you have time for an injury?
Make the right call. It's not worth it.

12/12/12

Eat, drink and be healthy - chocolate and wine

 
Yesterday I did a segment on behalf of Baptist Heart Wise and it was great to be on set again for News4Jax. I was really excited for the segment on chocolate and wine but I received a few looks at the grocery check-out when I was prepping for the show on Monday evening.
 
 
Along with my props for the segment, I needed PB and bananas for home. Good thing I wasn't wearing my Clinical Dietitian name badge from the hospital!
 
After a sweaty 1 hour and 10 minute session on the trainer, early in the morning, I was getting myself ready around 6am and left for the TV station (downtown Jacksonville) around 7am.
 
                                          
 
The news reporters stayed busy with the morning stories as I started to prep my yummy display. For a nice presentation, I used a little mint on my chocolate plate. Each of the glasses have 5 ounces of "wine" (aka "cranberry juice).
 
 
 
 

For your viewing pleasure......
 
 

 
Thanks to Baptist Heart Wise for the still pictures from the segment.
 
Because 3 minutes and 38 seconds is not enough time to explain all about wine and chocolate, here are a few more tips, facts and suggestions:


WINE
Is red wine part of the Heart Wise eating plan?
If you already consume alcohol (beer, wine, spirits) occasionally, alcohol in moderation may play a role in heart health to  help increase good cholesterol, reduce clots and help prevent damage to the lining of the arteries.
What are the heart healthy benefits?
The benefits may come from polyphenols or antioxidants, specifically resveratrol, which is a naturally occurring non-alcoholic plant based substance which appears to protect against artery damage. It may also slow the progression of neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
Much of the "alcohol" research is done on red wine but there may be health benefits with other types of alcohol as well. We need to keep in mind that a lot of resveratrol research is done on animals and the amount of resveratrol given to the animals would be similar to an extremely excessive amount of daily wine.
Red vs. white wine? The higher resveratrol content comes from the skin of red grapes which are fermented longer than white grapes. In white wine, the skin is removed before fermentation. Also, wine in cooler climates may have more resveratrol. Both have the same number of calories.
Do other foods contain similar health benefits?
Peanuts, blueberries, grapes and cranberries all contain resveratrol. For a healthy cardiovascular system I encourage people to eat real food for the other nutritional benefits as well (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.).  

What are the negative effects of drinking?
The holidays are stressful but so is daily life. Alcohol can be addictive and for many, may be a coping mechanism which may lead to excessive drinking. Alcohol may worsen health problems like hypertension, hyperlipidemia/high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and weaken heart muscles. Pregnant women should not drink during pregnancy and individuals at risk for breast cancer should discuss with primary physician regarding alcohol consumption because alcohol may raise estrogen levels and tumor progression. Wine is also a trigger for migraines either for the tannins and histamins or from the sulfites so if you suffer from bad headaches, I recommend doing an elimination trial of wine for a few days or keeping a journal. 
Take away message:
the best advice is if you already drink alcohol, do so in moderation. You can’t just drink your way to good health so if you don't already drink, that's OK - you don't need to start. Don’t ignore the many benefits in a real-food, balanced diet.  
Recommendations:
Moderate drinking is up to 2 drinks/day for men and 1 drink/day for women. Men can drink more generally because of a larger body frame and more enzymes to help metabolize alcohol.

1 drink = 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, 1.5 ounces 80-proof distilled spirits.
5 ounces of wine is ~120 calories. Alcohol is a little more concentrated with calories than carbohydrates with more calories per gram (7calories per gram in wine vs 4 calories per gram in carbohydrates).

4 glasses or 1 bottle of wine = ~ 480 calories.
 
 
DARK CHOCOLATE
Is Dark Chocolate part of a healthy diet?

All the chocolate lovers can breathe easily now – absolutely! Dark chocolate is not only heart healthy but it can play an important role in a balanced diet.

Is all chocolate the same?
When it comes to chocolate we have many options. Butterfingers and twix to 90% cacao (pronounced kacow) or cocoa. What we want to look for is cacao – with an A - which refers to the bean itself, particularly in an unprocessed form. The cocoa is more processed due to the addition of other ingredients.
The percentage of cacao on a label refers to the percentage of ingredients by weight in that product that come from the chocolate liquor, cocoa powder and cocoa butter (see definitions below). In general, the higher the percentage, the more intense the flavor. In the US, cacao standards require that milk chocolate have at least 10% chocolate liquor, semi sweet and bittersweet have at least 35 percent. A higher % also means less added sugar. 75% cacao dark chocolate has about 25% sugar whereas 65% has about 35%. Unsweetened baking chocolate is 100% cacao and is very bitter.

 Definitions of chocolate ingredients:
(definitions found via the internet)
Cacao
: Refers to the bean, which is the source of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder.
Chocolate Liquor: Produced by grinding the center of bean, called the nib, to a smooth, liquid state. Chocolate liquor is also called chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, baking chocolate, bitter chocolate, cocoa solids, cocoa mass, cacao mass and cocoa paste.
Cocoa Butter: The fat naturally present in cacao beans that melts at body temperature and gives chocolate its unique mouthfeel.
Cocoa or Cocoa Powder: The product made by pressing most of the cocoa butter out of the cocoa bean and grinding the rest to a powder. Under U.S. regulations, “cocoa” and “cocoa powder” can be used synonymously.
What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?
Believe it or not, there are many health benefits of eating dark chocolate. Research shows that eating up to 1.5 ounces a day of dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure by improving blood flow. Dark chocolate may also help with arteriosclerosis and reduce risk for stroke but this doesn’t mean that after you eat a loaded hamburger that you will clean up the cardiovascular system with a Hershey Kiss.
Also, since chocolate appears to improve blood flow, it may improve cognitive function to help with thinking and memory. It may also help with tooth enamel.
Chocolate also contains chemical compounds that make you feel good, similar to the hormones and endorphins released when you fall in love. Maybe that’s why so many people say they love chocolate because they just feel good when they eat it....I know I do!
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids which not only help to protect the immune system and cardiovascular system but reduces free radical damage to cells and may help with the aging process. Also, dark chocolate may help with insulin resistance for better glucose control. Dark chocolate contains high concentrations of potassium, copper, magnesium and iron.
Take away: I recommend around 85% cacao but if that’s too bitter, try 65-70% and check for cacao for more flavonoids. Keep in mind that A 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine. Depending on storage, handling and processing of the cacao bean, the % of cacao doesn't always mean that you are receiving a full amount of flavonoids for many of the heart-healthy nutrients may have been destroyed or removed.
Recommendations:Savour your chocolate - suck on it, don't chew it. Portion control chocolate by choosing individual wrapped pieces or breaking into .5 ounce servings.  
For example, each square in a bar of 86% Ghirardelli dark chocolate (~.4 ounces) contains ~ 63 calories and 6.25g fat so enjoy dark chocolate in your already heart-healthy, balanced diet.

12/10/12

Eat like a dietitian. Eat like an Elite athlete.

I was told that when I earned my RD credentials that I would lose friends because no one would want to eat with me because I was a dietitian. To the surprise of many, I did not become the food police but instead a qualified and licensed professional to give nutritional advice and to counsel individuals on living a more healthful lifestyle.

What surprises me the most is that as an athlete, I get similar questions that make me wonder if people are striving to eat like a dietitian or like an elite athlete?

Funny thing is that there is no perfect or ideal diet so it may be better to stop searching around for the "perfect" healthy diet or the "perfect" fueling strategy for an active lifestyle and instead to focus on your individual needs.

One of my best tips that has really helped me out as a health-conscious individual who trains and races at a high level, is to eat food that makes me feel good.

Certainly, this can be taken into many different contexts but if you think about it, when you live a mindful lifestyle, you are thinking about the upcoming in a balanced and healthy manner.

If donuts or pizza make you feel good, how much would you need to eat until you didn't feel good? Even if your answers may be 5 pieces of pizza or 10 donuts, you still have to consider other areas that may be impacted by the question of "how much would you need to eat until you didn't feel good. Would body composition change, would workouts suffer, would sleep be affected, would your mood change, would your future relationship w/ food change, would you be able to maintain a balanced diet afterward? All of these questions are important when you eat mindfully and this is how I have learned as a RD and as an athlete to develop a healthy relationship with food.

I can openly say that I don't bash my body or have an unhealthy relationship with food. Two habits that took a while to acquire and certainly in today's society, it's hard to maintain that healthy relationship with food and the body.

I realize that weighing 15-20 lbs more by eating "mindfully" and enjoying food that makes me feel good but in larger portions, would not make me feel good for it is too much weight on my body. On the flip side, I have voiced my thoughts in previous posts on having a healthy relationship w/ the body. I could weigh 10 lbs less by eating mindfully and finding foods that don't make me feel good because they don't allow me to lose weight...BUT, I have no desire to lose weight that perhaps to some, may feel is "not needed" on the body. To me, the pros and cons of body composition changes in relation to changing the diet always need to be weighed. At the end of the day, I am a RD and a competitive athlete. Food fuels my lifestyle and workout routine. No one is living my life except for me. If I do a 12.5 mile interval run on Sun (as I did yesterday), why should I eat like someone who didn't exercise that day? My body needs more fuel than someone who didn't place the added stress on their body and on the flip side, on my day off, I do not have to eat like everyone else just because I am rewarding my body with a day of rest to allow for an upcoming week of training.

I feel no matter how you aspire to eat or your idea of the "perfect" diet for your lifestyle, it's so important to consider your own environment and body needs and discovering an individual definition of healthy. Elite/pro athletes do not always have "perfect" diets but may have the body image you desire. The also may put in the work w/ training that you do not have time for or you may not be able to achieve. Dietitians are not required to eat by the book but rather, understand the physiology of the body and to take a personalized approach to help others live a more healthful lifestyle. If you struggle with how to eat...stop wasting time trying to search around on the Internet or in the bookstore for the answer. Consult with a qualified personnel like  a RD to help guide you in your own personal journey.

Here are a few creations that I have enjoyed in the past few days.....Enjoy!


We only eat out a few times during the year, typically reserved to traveling and a special occasion like our birthday or anniversary. With friends in town, we went out to Cheesecake factory for lunch yesterday and I enjoyed this delicious veggie burger. YUM!
A Delicious “Burger” Made with Brown Rice, Farro, Black Beans, Fresh Beets & Onion. Served on a Toasted Bun with Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Pickles & Mayo. Served with a Green Salad.

Stuffed bell peppers for dinner for Karel and our friends on Saturday evening. YUMMO! Super easy thanks to my stove and crockpot helping me out throughout the day. I prepared 1/2 bag 12- bean mix and 1/2 bag lentils in crockpot w/ water filled just a bit over the beans. I cooked for 6 hours on medium heat. I prepared bulgur on the stove for 60 minutes until soft. I started all of this when I came home from my group bike ride for easy meal prep around 5:30. I removed the top from each pepper with a knife, scooped out the center and stuffed w/ a mix of rice and beans (prepared in separate bowl) with a little marinara inside each  pepper. I topped w/ raw chopped garlic and drizzled with a little olive oil and seasoned with fresh oregano, chili pepper, pepper and a little salt. I cooked in glass casserole dish layered thinly w/ marinara sauce at 425 degrees for around 45-50 minutes until soft (as pictured above). I provided cheese (cheddar and mozzarella) on the table for toppings for each person.

Yum - oven-baked eggplant pizza slices w/ a large salad. I sliced eggplant into thick slices and lined on a glass casserole dish (I used two of them) which was rubbed in olive oil. I covered each eggplant w/ a little of the oil (it loves to soak it up) and seasoned w/ paprika, rosemary, a little salt and pepper. After baking for 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees, I drizzled with marinara and topped w/ cheese and returned to the oven until cheese was melted (~3 minutes). I prepared a salad of mixed greens and arugula, topped w/ vine tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and cottage cheese (2% Daisy Cottage Cheese).

Who loves breakfast for dinner? Or as my friend Jason B. would say "Brinner". This creation was made last week and enjoyed after a busy day of early morning training, computer work, speaking to HS kids at a school on healthy eating for an active lifestyle and then more computer work. Two slices fresh bread (in our house, you will only find fresh bread and the occasional pita bread. With Karel growing up in Europe, fresh is best and although not "typical" in US, I've grown to love this new yummy eating habit) prepared w/ 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites topped w/ cranberries, almonds and cinnamon and roasted pears (prepared on same pan in a little olive oil). 1 sunny side up egg on sauteed spinach in olive oil. Typically, I top my french toast w/ PB, yogurt or frozen fruit (lightly cooked in microwave until soft). I don't do the sugar-free stuff (syrup, jelly, etc.) so if I need a smoother spread, I'll do real maple syrup, honey or jam.