Essential Sports Nutrition


Pics from the Smoky's!

Over the New Year, Karel, Campy and I had the opportunity to stay with our friends James and Jennifer Sweeney (at their cabin) in the Smoky's. If you are looking for a great get-a-way, with plenty of nature to keep you (and your camera) busy, Bryson City is A-mazing. Check out this rental, which James and Jennifer rent out. What a VIEW!!!

Despite the quick drop in temps as we made our 8-hour drive up North, I managed to stay comfortably warm (and in style) in my awesome clothing from the Oakley Women Gretchen Bleiler winter 2010 collection.

The fresh mountain air made for 4 exceptional good-night sleeps and I greatly enjoyed waking up to no alarm and with no plans. Purposely leaving my garmin watch behind, I welcomed a change of pace and no set schedule.

The two highlights of the weekend included me getting a mountain bike for the first time. Oh, and I rode it as well :)

Karel has been wanting me to try mountain biking for some time and although, in my head, I feel like I am a great mountaing biker ('cause it looks so fun!) I have always been a little scared to try it. Well, there was no better time than in the Smoky's, with Karel to give me pointers, to ride a mountain bike.

For over an hour, I climbed over 7 miles..up, up, and up. I had no choice but to quickly learn how to change the gears and to pedal quicker than I have ever pedaled before. Towards the top, I started to enjoy myself but as the road got steeper and steeper, I knew what was waiting for me at the turn around.

I told Karel, James and Jennifer (all experienced cyclists and MTBers) to wait for me at the bottom. SLOOOOOWLY, I made my way down the mountain. It was a lot colder going down and I quickly realized that you don't notice the puddles and wet spots on the way up, as you do on the way down.
Finally, I made it to the car and the gang was there waiting for me. Happy to be back at the car, I would say that with no falls, my first experience MTBing was a success and I look forward to doing it again.

The second highlight of the trip was hiking on the Tsali trail. Karel had gone MTBing earlier that morning in Tsali and wanted to take Campy and me to do some hiking. Without thinking as to how much/long we would hike, the scenery was beautiful and it was hard to notice time. Despite the sun beginning to set, Campy was our leader and a super-trooper for our hike. With around 7 miles and close to 2 1/2 hours of hiking, Campy earned his nap on the way back to the cabin. Karel and myself were so impressed with Campy as he didn't complain at all, during the entire hike. We just love that little guy!

I hope you enjoy the pics!


Zucchini noodles w/ orzo

Campy and me on the Tsali trail in the Smoky Mountains. Karel, me and the Campster went for a 2 1/2 hour, 7 mile hike. Talk about loving life!

Yesterday I received an email from a blog reader early in the morning, after returning from my strength + swim workout at the Y. She told me about her newest creation of baked tomatoes and pasta topped with greek yogurt. I was so inspired that I couldn't wait to make something yummy in the evening.

I've learned over the past few years that we all have different body types with different needs. Depending on our training and lifestyle, it's important that we understand that nutrition and exercise is a never-ending journey.

I enjoy cooking for Karel as well as myself. Obviously, we both have different eating styles as I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian and Karel eats fish (over the past 2 months, Karel - on his own- decided to eat only fish and to eat meat only when he craves it. As of today, he has only had chicken once in the last 2 months and is filled with lots of TriMarni creations). Another difference between us is that we have different work routines which affect when we eat. We also both train differently, have different body compositions (ex. muscle mass), have different metabolisms and have different training thresholds which affect how we metabolize fuel. Having said all of this, there is one main thing that does not differ between the two of us. We both eat for health.

In a non-obsessive, non-lecturing kind of way, we both don't feel the need to have a list of what we can't eat. We do not talk about eating for calories or to weigh a certain amount. For when it is time to eat, it is time to fill our body with nutrition to increase longevity, reduce risk for disease and to improve the quality of life.

Whether you are a parent cooking for your family or living alone, we all need to prioritize a foundation of health when it comes to our nutrition. For once the foundation is in place, you can be sure that you can make small changes that will make a noticeable difference in your body composition and performance. I'd like to think of it like building a house. Creating the foundation of the house requires a lot of work and planning. When it comes to making the house look nice, you can always re-paint the walls, move around furniture, try out new appliances, etc. without worrying about the structure of the house. If the foundation of the house wasn't strong, what's the point of making the house look presentable if it is constantly struggling to "survive". Once the foundation of the house is made, you don't have to worry about it failing. For no matter how many times you "try out" new things within the house, the foundation will always be there to support your decisions.

We, as a society, put a lot of pressure on ourselves to eat a certain way. Eat this, not that is the common phrase as people are always questionning what to eat, when to eat and even how to eat.

Knowing that we are all in our own journey, I ask that you take the next few weeks to not worry about losing weight. Don't spend the time obsessing about the scale or looking a certain way but rather, work on your foundation. A diet built on plant based foods, along with balanced macronutrients such as quality protein, whole grains and healthy fats will not only allow you to form a healthy relationship with food but you will find yourself being able to listen to the body in order to understand exactly what it is that you need to "support" your active and healthy lifestyle.

I hope you enjoy my latest creation!

Zucchini noodles w/ orzo

Mini sweet peppers
Artichoke hearts (canned, rinsed well)
Tofu (firm and cubed)
3 Zucchini (small or medium size)
Olive oil
Greek yogur

1. In large skillet, generously coat bottom of pan with olive oil and sautee peppers and onions on medium heat, tossing occasionally. Remove when veggies are golden and not brown.
2. Peel zucchini with peeler (cut off ends and toss away). You will need to press hard when peeling and you do not need to be perfect. When you get close to the center, you can thinly slice into "noodles" since it will be hard to peel.
3. In boiling water, place zucchini noodles and let cook for 5-8 minutes or until soft.
4. While zucchini is cooking, place orzo into boiling water (according to package) and let cook, stirring occasionally.
5. On same skillet as veggies, drizzle olive oil (or your choice of unsaturated oil) and grill tofu and artichokes until golden brown. Toss occassionally to cook evenly.

6. In shallow dish, place zucchini noodles (strained from water) and add veggies and tofu. Top with YOUR own serving size of orzo OR combine a little orzo into the mixture.
7. Top with greek yogurt and a dash of pepper. YUM!

Mini sweet peppers

Peeled Zucchini

Sauteed veggies

Veggies, grilled tofu and artichokes and zucchini noodles

Karel's plate - a little more Orzo than me but still with a colorful foundation of veggies and tofu.

My plate - a little orzo mixed in, but still with a colorful foundation of veggies and tofu.

Don't have a lot of time?
Time saving tips:
-Use your choice of pasta noodle or grain. Quinoa cooks super quick or you can use leftover whole grains or pasta.
-Use your oven rather than the skillet (425 degrees) to cook veggies and tofu (tossed in olive oil).
-Still pressed for time, use frozen veggies and defrost in microwave as you are preparing your choice of protein (ex. side of cottage cheese or beans) and whole grain (or pasta).


The 31-day MTC diet plan

I always submit my Iron Girl articles at least 2 1/2 weeks in advance, in order to publish on the first of every month. In December, I knew exactly what I would write about for my January article. While the topic of resolutions and diets are common and easy to discuss, it was important to me that I didn't just give advice as to how to "stick to your resolution". I find it important to always look at the bigger picture and to address the many strengths and weaknesses in your current lifestyle that are affecting (either positively or negatively) how you reach your goals and live life.

I hope you enjoy my latest article from the Iron Girl Newsletter, also found at

Need a little help with your daily or sports nutrition? Looking for a little structure with your exercise routine? Check out my NEW website for services and info about me and my philosophy on nutrition and exercise.

The 31-day "MTC" Diet Plan
By Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

Now that I have your attention with a catchy diet name and a specific length of time, are you going to make up the little less than half of the population who resolves to lose weight in the New Year?

When it comes to improving health, losing/maintaining weight and becoming more physically active, how many times have you said to yourself,

“I know what I am doing wrong and what I should be doing, but..... Oh well, I’ll be better tomorrow.”

Or, maybe you have no idea as to what it takes to feel your best at this point in your life?

Regardless if you have the knowledge, skills and tool-set to achieve good health, achieving weight loss results, reducing risk for disease and improving physical fitness, modifying lifestyle habits may be extremely difficult when done alone. Because there is no one size fit all approach to weight loss, improving health and changing body composition, why place all your trust in a diet book?

In order for you to feel and see long-lasting results without abiding by a structured diet plan or rigid weight loss routine, it is important that you Make Today Count by placing trust in yourself. According to John C. Maxwell in his book Make Today Count, “Good decisions help to create a better tomorrow, yet many people don’t appear to connect their lack of success to their poor decision making. Some people make choices, then experience negative consequences, yet wonder why they can’t seem to get ahead in life....No one says that good decisions are always simple, but they are necessary for success.”

It is easy to fail with dieting because you are always focused on food. The old dieting rules included weighing, measuring, counting, re-reading and over-obsessing. Today, we have cell-phone apps to help with all of that, along with long lists of made-up “good” and “bad” foods in order to “stay on tract”. And by the way, the food and body image obsessing will never go away on any diet. Although personal health, fitness and a greater sense of well-being may help keep you motivated at the beginning of your program, it is well-known that diets don’t work because they offer a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.

My personal philosophy in regards to nutrition is to learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food and to prioritize food that the body recognizes and knows exactly what to do with when consumed. By providing the body with a healthy, consistent dose of exercise, changing the food vocabulary and understanding how to prioritize plant-based meals in a wholesome and balanced diet, you will reduce the chance of feeling unsatisfied with meals (or missing old habits) as you find yourself with more energy and a new way of living life.

When it comes to making today count, it’s important to focus on the factors that have a significant impact on your current eating habits. Among the most common issues include:

1) Little understanding of individual calorie needs

2) Altered metabolism (and hormonal control) due to dieting, sedentary lifestyle or overeating/under eating

3) Uncontrollable blood sugar levels due to skipping meals or relying on pick-me-up high-carb/sugar snacks

4) Excessive food cravings as a result of improper meal/snack planning and emotional eating

5) Inability to control food intake (for multiple reasons)

6) Poor stress and sleep management

7) An unhealthy relationship with food

8) Little support from friends and family

9) An inability to recognize the need for food for fuel

10) Lack of emphasis on wholesome food and a balanced, plant-strong diet

To start your nutritional journey, it’s important to address the following topics:
1) Regular meal and snack planning (aka - a training plan for your nutritional needs)

2) Consistent exercise and strength training
3) A positive food vocabulary

4) The power of goal setting

5) Plant-strong, balanced eating - wholesome lean/low-fat protein, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, whole grains and a large emphasis on fruits and veggies.

6) An emphasis on a whole-food diet and a decrease in the consumption of processed, high-sodium, “diet/free” or “artificial” foods.

As you embark on this journey, it is important to always monitor/address how you feel on a daily basis. By focusing on what you CAN do on a daily basis (as in, TODAY), you will be able to make small, yet realistic changes, in order to achieve life-long “diet” success.

Starting today, start by working on the food vocabulary and developing a healthy relationship with food. Designate at least 2 rooms in the house (one being the kitchen and one being the bedroom) where you avoid negative body self-take and avoid using the words such as:


Two years ago I dedicated an entire month on my blog to the New Year. It was a lot of work but I was passionate and determined to provide my blog readers with exactly what they wanted....quick advice for long-lasting results. Providing pratical, informational and realisic advice to gradually acclimate to the New Year was my goal and today, I still find myself referring people to my 2010 January month of blog posts. I invite you to check out my blog posts from 2 years ago, regarding
31 changes, starting with day 1.

Several years ago I wanted to have my own business and most importantly, I wanted my own website. A place to call my own.
I found it important that I dedicated my entire life to my education, FIRST, prior to creating a philosophy and deciding as to what services I will offer to help athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

It took 8 years to obtain my credentials and certifications but I still have a lot more learning to do. I believe it is better to keep an open mind and be accepting to change rather than believe there is only one right way to do things.

Year after year, I have longed for this day.

For the firs time ever.....
Introducing TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC

Thank you for visiting my new website (which will always be a work in progress as I plan to add more "recent news" on a weekly basis) and for passing it along to others.

HAPPY 2012. May this be the year of YOU. For the next 12 months, believe that you CAN succeed!


Happy 2012!!!

“The freedom to move forward to new opportunities and to produce results comes from living in the present not the past” -Brian Koslow

Welcome 2012 with a positive, can-do attitude and the desire to achieve results and meet your goals. Don't let another year go by, wishing you would have......

Make this the year of becoming the person you always wanted to be, for setting goals AND accomplishing them and for challenging yourself to get outside your comfort zone.