Essential Sports Nutrition


Weight loss tips and veggie bowl w/ rice

In the June 2012 issue of Environmental Nutrition (volume 35, number 6), the front page featured an article titled "11 Proved Weight Loss Tips"

Here are the 11 Science-based Tips for Weight loss:
-Sharon Palmer, R.D.
1) Don't look for a magic formula
2) Balance calories in vs. calories out
3) Spread out calories over the day
4) Boost high-volume, low-energy foods (foods that provide low calorie levels in relatively large portions, can help promote weight loss by filling you up yet reducing your overall calorie intake)
5) Follow the nutrient-rich approach (nutrient rich foods contain the most nutrients per calories)
6) Increase physical activity (cardio + strength training)
7) Push fiber intake
8) Cut down on solid fats and sugars
9) Don't drink your calories
10) Portion size counts
11) Turn to MyPlate

Certainly, trying to do all of these at once can be very overwhelming. Imagine training for your first running race and telling yourself you have to cover that exact distance for the race, on the first training session.

For with time, we progress. We get more confident, we trust ourself more and we get more comfortable.

Two strategies that I find very effective for athletes and fitness enthusiasts are:
1) Rearrange your plate with similar foods, emphasizing nutrient-dense options
2) Assess before you act

For #1 - you will see my creation below which could be titled either "rice bowl with veggies" OR, for more nutritional value and nutrient density "Veggie bowl with rice". I find this very effective for individuals who struggle with portions, have trouble making healthy changes in the diet (to be long-lasting) or struggle with giving up (or eliminating) favorite foods. This makes it much easier to make slow, gradual changes by introducing more healthful items (like veggies) but not completely give-up some of your favorites. And as we all know, habits can be changed. Learning new behaviors doesn't happen quickly so by making a few swaps you may find yourself gravitating to a new style of eating. I also find this a fantastic tip for all those who have considered an off-limit food list to change body composition. Here at Trimarni - no food is off-limit but we always address how that food makes us feel and how it helps us reach our goals....which leads me to #2.

For #2 - this is for those who struggle with second portions, deciding what to have for a meal or snack or struggling with cravings for that after-meal/mid day sugary treat. This one is simple to suggest but often a struggle at first to implement. Before every meal or snack, ask yourself how that food will make you feel when you eat. You should strive to feel better after you eat, than before you started. I find this very useful for individuals who eat a meal but always need that extra something after a meal. I certainly find nothing wrong with a nice small piece of dark chocolate but for those who always have ice cream after dinner or can't stop after one bowl of cereal or 2 pieces of bread, just ask yourself "how will this food make me feel when I am done.". Like I said it sounds very simple but this can make the difference of eating 1/2 cookie and feeling very satisfied with your small portion of a treat after dinner, versus having 2 cups of ice cream with chocolate syrup, granola and a few berries on top.
There's a saying, by Michael Pollens Food Rules to Live by, that I really enjoy and I find it very useful on a daily basis:

I hope you enjoy my latest creation.....inspired by the rice bowl at Moes Southwest Grill, here's my veggie bowl w/ rice. YUM!

Green peas
Fresh basil
Red bell pepper
Green bell pepper
Olive oil
Curry powder
Nutty dip
Wild Rice - cook according to package/box/bag (if seasoning is in seperate bag, recommend use 1/4th seasoning rather than the entire package)

1. In large skillet on low-medium heat, cover bottom of pan with 1-2 tbsp olive oil.
2. Add veggies (recommend to steam corn, peas and broccoli for 1:30 in microwave) and tofu and stir occasionally.
3. When tofu begins to turn golden brown, add sliced leeks (you can use chives or onion) and basil (chopped).
4. Turn off heat when mixture is soft (around 12-18 minutes depending on heat) and add 1-2 tbsp nutty dip and stir gently.
5. Cover and let sit for 1-2 minutes.
6. In large bowl, add 1 serving (recommend 1/3 - 1/2 cup wild rice to start) and then add veggie mixture. Mix and consume :)


Testimonial of a non-dieter

A mass marketed diet is never personalized. Everyone in the world is different. But you knew that, right?

Certainly every diet can be evaluated for both healthy and unhealthy components and any diet that restricts food (calories) will encourage weight loss.

Sadly, diets address numbers on the scale, not health outcomes and behaviors.

There are food focused diets, low-"insert any macronutrient" diet, no-"insert any food item" diet, only-"insert any food item" diet, food group diets, timing/combination diets, commerical meal and pill diets, blood type diets and really, any other fancy food-related habit that restricts or encourages food.

As a believer of a balanced approach to all things in life, I strive for consistency in everything I do. I believe everything I do in life requires hard work...albeit, somethings require a little more time, dedication and energy, than others but certainly, the easy way out is not always the best way to accomplish something.

When I work with Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition athletes and fitness enthusiasts, I try to instill the same philosophy of how I choose to live my life. When I share the accomplishments of my athletes on my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition Facebook page, I am proud to celebrate to accomplishments of others. We are all different and we all have different lifestyles and goals. Wouldn't life be boring if everyone was the same, there were no challenges, there were no adventures and you had nothing to give you that competitive drive to succeed?

When I went to a talk at UNF a few months ago and heard Dr. Rodriguez speak about diets, I took notes. A lot of them.

Here are a few red and green flags of "diets":
Quick weight loss
Expensive purchases
Excessive supplement or pill intake
One or few foods (food lists, restrictions, excessive intakes)
Skipping meals, unusual meal patterns
No (or little) fitness required
Calorie/food controlled
Magic/miracle plan
Bizzare quantities or rigid menus

GREEN FLAGSPersonlized, individual approach
Physical activity/fitness guidelines
Addressing readiness and lifestyle behaviors
Plans for stress and chaos
Long-term adaptability
Family friendliness, flexibility

Based on research, reducing 100-300 kcal a day from recommended daily calories, decreasing caloric beverages, decreasing high fat and fried food, decreasing processed food, eating smaller portions, eating every few hours (smaller meals and snacks) and eating more fruits and veggies, have been shown to encourage a favorable change in habits and body composition.

One of my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition athletes, James W. sent me the most wonderful email the other day and I felt it was appropriate to share with others. Happily, James is not the only satisfied Trimarni athlete as I am proud to say there are many more active individuals out there who are living life with a better appreciation for food and a healthy relationship with the body, exercise and the daily diet.

Thank you James for giving me permission to share your story:
Back in 1998 my cholesterol was about 212, and I went on a heart healthy diet and managed to get if down to 185 and I was happy with that. Over the years It has gotten back up and even with what I thought was healthy eating, It was not going back down.  Back in April of 2011, when I had it checked my cholesterol was 223.  I also had an elevated blood pressure 140/90 which was a first for me.  This really shocked and scarred me.  All my other test results were normal so I was relived of that.

Anyway, that is the time I started telling you about my results and we talked about things I could do in my diet to reduce the sodium and salt in my diet.  You thought with better diet my blood pressure and cholesterol would go back down.  I was so happy to hear you say that.  I did not want to start taking medications.  Its funny because I thought I was eating healthy but thanks to you, I soon began to realize, I had a lot to learn.

So after a year of learning and changing my eating patterns and what I chose to put in my mouth, I go into my doctors for my annual physical.  First thing the nurse does is puts me on the scale, my weight was 158.  A year ago it was 173.  I have not weighed 158 since High School.  This loss of weight has dropped my waste size from a 32 to a 30.  I can't remember ever wearing a 30 in pant waste.

Next the nurse takes my blood pressure.  It was 119 / 84 vs 140/90 a year ago.  I was so relieved that it went back down.  I had not had it checked in over 8 months so I had no idea where it was going to come in at.

 All my improvements are strictly a result of a healthier diet. I have not changed anything else in my lifestyle except following your coaching and nutrition advice.  The best thing about it is I love the food I eat now.  I would not be happy going back to my old way of eating.

Thanks so much Marni for believing in me.  I could not have done it without your guidance and expertise.


Spa Me 210 5K challenge - race report

I believe that every athlete brings something with him/her on race day to get him/herself through a race. Besides the necessary gear, proper sport nutrition and a few good sherpa's, I've learned that having a well-constructed racing plan along with a good attitude, are two critical components of a successful race day performance.

For if you only bring one with you on race day, likely you will find yourself struggling during the race, questioning your previous training or, even worse, questioning why you are out there doing this in the first place.

This weekend was jammed-packed with races all over the U.S. With many of my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition athletes racing in events this weekend, I stayed busy tracking athletes and updating my Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition facebook page.

I think we all strive to have a good attitude on race day but sometimes that is easier said than done. Hopefully you want to be participating in the event that you signed up for, that you registered for and that you trained for, but sometimes the body is saying something different on the days leading up to the race. Sometimes you feel tired, depressed, anxious, nervous, moody and overwhelmed and you find yourself comparing yourself to others, expecting perfect performances and doubting your potential. Many circumstance are within our control - not only having a good attitude on race day but making sure your training is reflective of how you want to feel on race day. One thing I try to instill with athletes is that you don't have to spend extra energy on the other competitors, weather or terrain.... for your race day performance is solely based on your current level of fitness. For if your mind is ready but the body is overtrained or fatigued, it's hard to find that second gear when the body is running on empty. But if you accept where you are today, well, that is going to be your best tool for how you should perform on race day. Of course, surprises come when you have a game plan and you go into the race with confidence and the belief that you can let the body and mind work together.

As for pacing, it all depends on the race but for most of us, is is a deciding factor on race day. For many times, holding back just the slightest on the bike in a triathlon can make the difference of running a consistent pace during the last leg or walking and jogging inconsistently, only to wish you had conserved 5-10 minutes on the bike to save the extra 30-60 minutes on the run - sadly, nutrition can't save you in a race when the tank is empty.

I want to give a special shout-out to my best friend and Trimarni Coaching athlete Jennifer Patzkowsky who paced her race at IM Texas. This was Jennifer's first IM and she didn't miss a beat in her training. Well, let me rephrase that. With a full time job, you better believe workouts were missed, schedules were re-arranged and creative workouts were required. However, thanks to good nutrition, proper recovery and dedicating time to streng training, recovery gear/tools, massage, epson salt baths and rest days, Jennifer spent her time training and recovering. For many, when a training plan is not balanced, I find athletes spending much of their time and money on MRI's, physical therapy, lost training days due to injuries that can't heal and of course, the waiting game to get back that mojo to feel sharp again.

Jennifer is a strong runner. She loves to run and I knew that in designing her training plan. With extra emphasis on the bike and swim, I made sure that on race day, she arrived hungry to pace her race and run her run. The last thing I asked her on the night before the race was "what are you most looking forward to on race day". Her reply "the run".

I reviewed her training files in great detail and I knew exactly what she was capable of doing on race day. By developing a good pacing strategy for the swim and most importantly, the bike, Jennifer was primed for the run. And she did not disappoint.
Finishing time: 11:34
Run: 3:47 (5th fastest age group run), moving from 33rd to 16th in the last 13 miles of the run
8.4 mi8.4 mi 1:05:448:53:067:49/mi
16.9 mi8.5 mi 1:17:3010:10:369:05/mi
25.5 mi8.6 mi 1:18:2211:28:589:08/mi
26.2 mi0.7 mi 5:5311:34:518:24/mi
Total26.2 mi3:47:2911:34:518:40/mi

Jennifer controlled her HR by pacing the first 6 miles as instructed and once she found her groove, she got into the zone. She walked every aid station and stayed fueled with a gel flask, filled with 4 gels + water at every aid station. Perfect pacing, couldn't ask for a better race day performance.

As a coach and an athlete, I learn a lot every day. With every training session, I am creating memories. Sure, fitness as fitness improves I am able to analyze workouts to create better and more efficient training plans for me and my athletes, but on race day, you are there to do the best you can do....on that day.

Taking into account previous training sessions, the timing of the year, the terrain, personal issues going on in your life and weather, it is only up to you, on the days leading up to the race, to decide what will give you the best favorable outcome on race day. For with every race finish, there will likely (and hopefully) be an upcoming race with upcoming goals. This is what is so wonderful about sports. You should always find yourself getting better as an athlete.
And when I say better, it doesn't mean coming in first or setting a PR. Better, stronger, faster, smarter.....never forget that your training is not defined in one race and at the end of the day, you are the one you have to go home with and decide whether or not you will reflect positively on the race in order to get better OR beat yourself up because you did have a good attitude or a good race day plan.


With my big race on June 2nd, training did not slow down over the last week and a half. I have a few unbelievable training sessions in my memory bank, which will come with me in Macon as I will need every bit of strength to carry me through this tough and challenging course. I love a tough course where my mind is my only limitor and thankfully, this year, I have stayed healthy and strong all thanks to taking every step possible to getting myself better as an athlete.

I re-arranged a few of my workouts this week due to my work schedule and racing a fun 5K on Saturday so with my long bike-focused brick being on Thursday, long swim on Fri (didn't do my normal strength) and long run-focused brick on Sunday, I was excited to run the inaugural Spa Me 5K at the beautiful St John’s Golf and Country Club, just a few miles down the road from where I live.

I just love racing in new venues but I also enjoy the community feel of races. Over the past few years, I have discovered races that fit my strengths and desires as an athlete, I invite you to do the same. For it is always fun to race with training buddies but at the end of the day, you are putting your body through the event so you may as well find a venue that fits your needs.
What I look for in races:
1) Country and beautiful scenery
2) Warm weather
3) Lake swims
4) Community-feel
5) Smaller or local races
6) Not repeating an Ironman
7) Easy travel
8) Safe race day conditions
9) Rolling hills

Of course, I can't have everything but I take a lot of time scoping out my races, especially the longer ones.

As the clinical dietitian for Dr. Townsend (family physician with Baptist Primary Care), I was really honored to be part of this 5K event as an effort to bring more fitness into the St. John's community. There was a fantastic turnout with over 100 people for this first-time event. I saw competitive runners, families and lots of kids...which all make me incredibly happy - people of all ages, wanting to challenge themselves and feel the rewards of training and racing.

I spun my legs for an hour before the race and arrived to the venue at 7:35am to help with the race. At 8:25pm, Dr. Townsend spoke a few words and I had my turn on the mic, reminding everyone to just keep moving forward.

We lined up at 8:35am and off we went.
By .3 miles, the kiddos who sprinted up the slight grade in the parking lot, were done. Perhaps their pacing strategy was non existent :) I couldn't help but smile.

The course was beautiful and Ultimate Racing INC did an AMAZING job with this event. I absolutely recommend them in the future if you are needing a well-organized company to put on your event.

By mile 1, I was so thankful that I did a long warm-up with many jogs and pick-ups because my heavy legs that I felt around 7:50am were feeling strong.

Mile 1: 6:20 min/mile
Heart rate 159

I was running with a group of guys so I tried to stay with them the best I could. As we rounded the corner to the right, I could feel a little wind as the sky was beginning to get a little bit cloudy.
I managed to stay close to the guys in front and I tried not to look at my watch. For the lactic acid in my legs was not going to slow me down. I kept telling myself...."Marni, it's only 3 miles!!!"

Like every race, I was playing games with when I got to mile 1, I told myself "only 1 more mile until you only have 1 more mile to go!"

At mile 2, I was breathing heavy so I tried my best to get out a good exhale and to keep a steady stride. Thinking about my last long brick a week ago where Karel had me do a 2:30 ride with long tempo intervals, followed by an 11 mile run w/ 6 x 1 mile repeaters at half ironman pace w/ 2 min walk recovery, I had absolutely NO excuse to not give it everything I had.

Mile 2: 6:31 min/mile
Heart rate 181 (I'm fairly certain, I don't see that HR very often..luckily, I know I can push hard and I'm still alive :)

I took a look behind me at mile 2 and I amazingly, I got into my rhythm when I noticed I was all alone. Certainly, I couldn't keep this pace more than the 5K course required but I felt like I was able to run a decent last 1 mile without slowing down too much at the end.

Calling every fast twitch fiber in my body to come into action (perhaps I needed to wake them up today!), I picked up  my cadence, pushed hard and when I saw the clock, I was overjoyed.

Mile 3: 6:45 min/mile
Heart rate 170

Finishing time: 19:52 (PR - best time!)
Pace: 6:32 min/mile
Heart rate average: 170 bpm
Overall female winner
4th overall

After the awards and spending some time chatting with the other athletes (I love answering sport nutrition and training questions and what better than at a race!), I spun my legs easy for around an hour and spent the rest of the day on the computer (work related stuff and tracking athletes) before my last long brick on Sunday - which went amazing!!!