Essential Sports Nutrition


A day that changed my life

I believe we all have moments in life that we feel are "life-changers". The special occasions of finding your true love, getting married, having children come to mind but then there are the moments where you land that big job that allows you to stop living paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps it was a trip abroad, breaking news from a family member or passing a big exam. I am sure many people reading this blog can relate to crossing their first multisport finish line or maybe learning a new skill. And sadly, there are the days when someone is given a diagnosis or bad news and everything in life seems to freeze at that moment in time.

What's so great about life is that we have so many opportunities for these life-changers. It's not necessary to look for these life-changers because if you are working hard or are in the right place at the right time, great things will come. As for the not-so-great life changers, hopefully your quality of life has never been compromised up until that point and you refuse to allow excuses to stop you from living the life YOU want to live.

  I contemplated about the title of this blog, feeling that "a day" is more appropriate than "the" day that changed my life.

So, what is the day that I am speaking about???

On June 21st, 2011 - I became a Registered Dietitian.

Three years of hard work, stress, anxiety, nerves, exams, projects, papers and books to read....not to mention many checks to Universities/Colleges in order to fulfill my goal of obtaining the RD credential.

Without the support of my friends, family, blog readers (yes - you all!) and of course, my loving and supportive husband, Karel, I don't know how I would have met all the requirements of being qualified legally, to provide nutrition information to the public, counsel individuals and treat medical conditions.

It would have been easy to take the easy way out and provide nutrition info without the credential. Spend the money on a downpayment for a house, buy a new car, travel the world or race more often.

But as we all know, life-changers often come with sacrifices and that, my friends, is what makes hard work so rewarding.


Tomorrow is a very special day for me and very fitting that I will be working at Baptist medical center Beaches - solo. That's right - the whole hospital for me to see (well, not everyone but it will be a busy day for me).

Following my day of work (which of course, starts with an early morning bike-run workout), I will be heading to Clearwater for the International Society of Sports Nutrition annual conference. I am SO excited for this conference for a few reasons.

I have been a member of the ISSN since graduate school in 2004 and I always learn so much from this brilliant individuals. I am very excited to soak up as much info as I can for two packed days and of course, I can't wait to network and meet some of my favorite researchers.....with MS, RD behind my name.

Here's the program guide if you are interested in reading about the lectures that I will be attending on Friday and Saturday (as well as the bio's of the presenters).

If you have a bit more free time, I would love to share some of my favorite "RD" related posts with you for your viewing (or re-viewing). Thanks again for your support!

Although this is a day that changed MY life, I can not overlook the bigger picture that my decision to earn the RD credential was so I could help change the lives of others.

I did it again!

Over the past few years, I have never lost sight of the habits I have created. Thus, with each habit came a greater appreciation for how I want to live my life. And with that, a great lifestyle has been born and I am soaking it up every single day. I realize I blog and write a lot about food but to me, food enhances my active lifestyle.....and we can't live without it!

At the end of a busy day, I enjoy surprising Karel with a new Trimarni creation and hearing his yums, confirming the creation is blog worthy.  When my day is long and tiring at the hospital, I can't wait to get home and share some outdoor time with my happy and loving furry best friend Campy who gives me tons of energy every time I walk through the door.

Back in December 2011, Karel tried vegetarianism and enjoyed it for almost 4 months..that is, until we started traveling more for his races and he was really struggling with food (and feeling satisfied) when eating on the road.

Aside from whey protein, I am not a pill pusher, bar eater or powder obsessed. I'd rather get my vitamins and minerals from real food and because of that, I never encouraged Karel to continue being a vegetarian and suggest other ways for him to get his protein or to feel satisfied by suggesting the other non-food options. For in my mind, we eat consistently well on a daily basis and we certainly enjoy eating occasional foods when we travel or on yearly celebrations and because of that, I am not too concerned about us not living a healthful lifestyle. It's all about balance and making sure we feel the gift of health as well as respecting the body with maintaing a healthy weight (not too much, not too lean).

 I hope that this message transmits to others as I firmly believe that we must all find what works for us as individuals, in creating a healthful lifestyle. We can support one another and motivate one another but suggesting to someone else that they have to do this or try this or eat this in order to be healthy is something that should be left to the professionals, especially when greater goals are on the menu such as weight loss, clinical reasons or performance. Karel's labs are 100% and all within normal limits. He burns calories like a machine and he will never give up beer or chocolate. I'm cool with all that because I know that from morning to night, the food he is prioritizing to fuel his lifestyle and exercise routine is plant-strong. ....well, I do often hear about the cookies and brownies he is enjoying from the local bakery near the Trek store from the guys at the shop...but hey, at least it is homemade and prepared with love.

Speaking of homemade - Karel got me this poppyseed Czech-inspired "cake" for my birthday a few weeks ago and I forgot to share it! This brought back a lot of memories for Karel when he lived back in Czech Republic and for me, I remember Karel sharing this with me once back in Clearwater, from a polish bakery and it was one of my absolute favorite things to enjoy with Karel.

With me being a vegetarian for 19 years, my "meatless" lifestyle comes with me wherever I go.
In April, 2012, I told Karel he had nothing to prove in giving up meat but he wanted to prove something to himself that he could do "it". I simply told him that it is his life and he needs to feel good on a daily basis and if he is struggling with eating out there is no sense in feeling hungry and overwhelmed with being meat-free on the road.

Karel re-introduced chicken and continues to eat fish but I'd say that his diet hasn't changed much in that it is still primarily plant-strong....and he still enjoys cookies, beer and chocolate :)

As you know, I try very hard to not to preach vegetarianism, discuss the horor stories with animal factories or the clinical aspects of eating a high fat/high meat (aka paleo) diet. For I am here to inspire others to appreciate a more plant strong diet and in order to do that, you must be willing to try new things and more importantly, change habits within the home.

And with that.....
I did it again! I made the most amazingly, delicious plant-strong meal with a non-vegetarian plant-strong option for the chicken lovers. Enjoy!

Plant-strong grilled veggie w/ tempeh and orzo.

Large carrots (remove a little of each end)
Sweet peppers (whole)
Dark greens (I used romaine)
Green bell pepper (sliced)

Tempeh (for vegetarians) - I used a flax seed added tempeh I got at Whole Foods
Chicken (prepared to your liking for non vegetarians)

Fresh basil
Sunflower oil

Orzo - prepared according to package (1 serving per person)
Optional: Mozzarella part-skim cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. On a large cookie sheet, place veggies on sheet and cover in 1-2 tbsp oil. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt and pepper if you wish.
3. On a seperate small pan, cube tempeh and toss in a little oil (1-2 tsp).
4. In a glass baking dish, place chicken and prepare to your liking.
5. Bake veggies for 15-20 minutes or until soft and slightly brown (you will begin to smell them).
6. Cook chicken to minimum 160 degrees.
7. Bake tempeh for 8-10 minutes or until slightly firm and brown.

Non - vegetarian plate:
handful dark greens, 1 serving orzo, chopped mozzarella and sliced grilled veggies.

Vegetarian plate
1 serving orzo with fresh basil, veggies and green salad topped with mozzarella slices and tempeh

There is so much flavor to this meal I can't even explain it. The sunflower oil brings out a nice sweetness with the veggies and the warm orzo goes so nicely with the cold greens and grilled tempeh. I love mixing warm and cooler food to provide a nice twist to my taste buds. As I was enjoying this meal, I really savored every bite and there was no need to think about what was going to come next after I finished this meal. Although this meal didn't take a lot of time to prepare, I certainly took pride in what I created and I couldn't justify eating any other food option after this meal for nothing could replace the amazing feeling in my belly after finishing this meal.
If you struggle with not appreciating your dinner meal and always needing that extra something post meal, take a moment and recognize what you consumed and if the meal was balanced for your needs. Also, more importantly, do not go into the dinner meal starving. Keep in mind that every eating opportunity is an opportunity to provide nutrients to your body for fuel and for fuel from the moment you get up until you go to bed.  Although there is nothing wrong with 1/2 ounce dark chocolate post dinner or a small cup of fruit for something sweet, don't un-do the goodness that comes from a healthy, plant-strong meal by "needing" that bowl of cereal, cup of ice cream or sugar-free processed food. I promise, you will survive until the morning and likely, you will wake up feeling amazingly light and refreshed due to a restful night of sleep and the charge you are needing to have a fabulous day.


The Sumbal's will be racing together at.....

Karel and I met on a group bike rid in 2006, on my birthday. I was a newbie cyclist, barely able to ride 18mph without suffering. I had no skills on the bike and I was scared to ride with others. It was just a few weeks prior that I did  my first half ironan at Disney and I was 7 months away from my first Ironman.

Karel came into my life and ever since then, we have shared some amazing memories on our bikes.

If you read my blogs or know anything about Karel, he lives and breaths cycling. As the GM of the Trek store, Karel is the guru of anything and all things bikes and people in the community know that. Karel can disect even the smallest noise on group ride and fix it in a blink of an eye. He is just that good with bikes but also, being a perfectionist doesn't hurt him when it comes to perfecting his skills both on an off the bike.

As we all know, Karel's fire burns for cycling and he has never stopped loving the bike since the age of 3. From the suffering to daily bike riding to following riders on the internet and on TV, he loves it all...and I have learned to love it with him. 

I have never asked Karel to do a triathlon because he loves his lifestyle of road racing, mountain biking and the occasional 10K and half marathon in the off-season where he effortlessly runs sub 7 min/mile pace without much training. Certainly, knowing there is a beer at the end of a run never hurts either.

Realizing that there are many multi-sport families and relationships out there, we are just like everyone else. We love competing and we love training. We love understanding our sports and keeping things balanced to profit from living a fun and exciting life.

Keeping in mind that Karel titles himself a "cyclist" and I am a "triathlete", I firmly believe that couples who are active should share similar lifestyles and it's perfectly fine to have different passions.

I think of us as a team and with us both being able to ride our bikes and have that in common, Karel has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and do some amazing things on my bicycle...of course, things I never thought were possible without his support, guideance and knowledge. 

(Lake Tahoe)

(Our very first trip together after 4 months of dating in 2006 - we rode our bikes around Lake Tahoe and enjoy some amazing scenery. I'm pretty sure this took me all day as I loved the climbs but the downhills -  not so much)

(Georgia mountains trip 2007 - climbed Brasstown Bald which is the highest natural point in Georgia)

(6-Gap century event completed in Georgia in 2009! The HARDEST event of my life - I wanted to quit 10 million times but sadly, no cell reception so I had to keep going.)

(My first time mountain biking in 2011 - why not on the Smokey Mountains??? Karel gave me pointers all the way up but waited a long time for me to finally make my way down the mountain)

And with all those accomplishments being shared together, it's been a joy over the past 6 years to feel like a team when it comes to reaching our own personal goals.


                                            (Athens Twilight criterium finisher - 2010 and 2011)

(Karel coaching me to a 4th place, roll-down Kona slot, 10:57 finish at 2010 IMWI. I love this pic because Karel is literally holding me up before my legs give out,)

(And what better than to share my 5th Ironan finish and 2nd Ironman World Chapionship finish in Oct 2011, than with my best friend, coach and bike mechanic :)

So, with no further hestitation.....

Karel has decided to put the bike racing on hold for a few months as he is now a Tri-geek!!

Ok - sorry, I had to say it. :)

Karel is always looking for a challenge and he needed a change. Still enjoying his road bike at times and his mountain bike, Karel has added goggles and Newton running shoes to his gear collection....and I have a new multi-sport training partner!

I will save the details of his progress over the past few weeks, for another blog so I suppose you are all waiting for the announcement as to what triathlon we will be doing together this summer.

A, too short.
An Ironman...his swim skills aren't ready for that yet.
An Olympic....ehh.


On September, 23rd, 2012, Karel and I will be heading to the Vegas of the Midwest......Branson, Missouri for the Branson 70.3!!!

Hello HILLS!!!

There are several reasons why we picked this race - but I will spare you the details for another blog as I am sure you are ready to see the new addition to our bike family...

(Di2 equipped Speed Concept - quark, electronic shifting, garmin 500...I'll have to get the details on the rest of the components for the bike gurus)

 According to Karel, "this ride is sick...all I have to do is steer it, it's so freakin' fast".

Looks like my blogs will be a bit more exciting over the next few months as I will have the opportunity to dedicate a few blog here or there and share our journey together - cyclist turned triathlete. Also, I am excited to put on my coaching hat a bit more than normal on this blog and provide some helpful pointers for all the newbies out there who are considering diving into a new sport....for even if you have fitness, it's all about the skills and focusing on the bigger picture.

Always keep in mind that your love for competition, racing, training and fitness is a lifestyle and there is no rush in the sure to enjoy every day by recognizing at least one thing that you are able to accomplish for that day.

Coaching tip: signing up for races

From the reports of bloggers and your training buddies, it's evident that we are in the midst of racing season. Training can be very exciting but of course, what's the point of training without a race to put all that hard work to the test.

With the release of a new Ironman next year in Lake Tahoe (2013), it's important to take into consideration a few key factors when registering for a race. Here's my top 10 suggestions:

1) altitude
2) time of the year
3) cost of race
4) cost of travel
5) support from friends and family
6) weather on race day
7) similar training conditions for the race course
8) ease of travel and loding on race day
9) other life stressors during training that may interfere with training and/or racing
10) any current injuries, weaknesses, set-backs or concerns

And of course, consult with your coach or mentors to get other opinions for a race. It's ok to look at forums but always keep in mind that a POV from a person who lives in the mountains may be completely different than the POV of someone living on flat roads and who is able to train year round in warmer conditions.

Always think before you register for a race. Signing up for a race with your friends can be fun and motivating but at the end of the race day, you are in control of getting your body from the starting line to the finish line....and every "body" needs to be trained with proper training. For on race day, it is both mental and are putting your training to the test as you control the controllables - nutrition, attitude and pacing.

Be sure to stay tuned later today for some exciting triathlon news!