Essential Sports Nutrition


Eat like me - I'm a RD!

This morning at work, while enjoying my delicious blueberry loaded oatmeal (w/ coconut shavings, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, chia seeds, a little whey protein and milk) and looking at my patients charts before seeing patients in the hospital, a nurse walked into our charting room and looked over at me and said "What are you eating?"

I smiled and told her what was in my yummy creation and her response was "Sounds interesting. I should eat like you. I always want to know what dietitians eat 'cause they are always so skinny."

Ahem. Skinny?


I politely smiled and said nothing although in a nice way, I assured her that I do not eat to be "skinny" by telling her how yummy my oatmeal was and how easy it was to make - hopefully she is inspired now.

Healthy - absolutely. Strong - yep. Fueled - without a doubt. 

This assumption has happened to me several times in the past for I guess if your profession revolves around teaching people how to eat, what to eat and why to eat, I guess it is important to lead by example.

But regardless if you are in a health-related field, shouldn't we all be proud of how we eat and are we quick to judge a person's health simply by a body composition or what we see them eat every now and then?

As an athlete, it would be no surprise for me to say that my health status is best represented by my actions - physical and daily.

I feel that no matter what you do in life, you are constantly judged when it comes to food. Maybe not all the time but how you look, how you act, how you perform and how you live all relates back to food. Nothing wrong with enjoying food but many people take it overboard. There is more obsessing and talking than doing.

I don't enjoy being in a food lecture when I eat. Do you like to be around people who tell you about bad food, what diet they are on and how awful they felt after they were bad last night. Of course, you may not want to be around those people while you are enjoying your meal (that makes YOU feel good) so rather than lecturing about food,  try to inspire. When I work with individuals who desire a change in eating, it is not my "job" as a RD to tell others how to eat in order to eat like me. There's a lot of research out there as to how to eat but if you are unable to connect healthy eating with healthy living, what's the point in following a diet plan or having an off-limit food list?

I feel we all need to re-discover the enjoyment with eating. The pleasure, the nourishment and the fuel that comes with meal time. I suppose I am doing my "job" well as an RD for I am living an active and healthy lifestyle that is supported by a plant strong diet but I hope that I am not being judged by my body composition as if the way I look is a representation as to what is required by my professional role. 

I am healthy. Not as a RD, but as a health conscious, active individual. My health is not determined by a number on a scale and certainly I am not "skinny" for I have jiggle just like the rest of the women out there who don't choose to restrict food and aim for perfection. I love my life and my diet keeps me active, it keeps me well and it keeps me happy.

Moments like this remind me why I love what I do. I get to help people in many different settings  - from athletes racing to finishing lines, to health-focused individuals and to patients in the hospital in order to help others live a more balanced lifestyle. I get to improve the quality life of others because we all know we have no guarantees in life so why not enjoy every day that happens, when it happens.

Because everyone is looking for tips and suggestions on weight loss and "getting healthy", I thought I'd share a great read from the March 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition: 

Top Eight Cancer Findings of 2012
The American Institute for Cancer Research released the top 8 scientific findings in 2012 that advanced the field of cancer prevention.

1. Pancreatic Cancer is preventable - a healthy weight can prevent 19% of pancreatic cancer cases.
2. Exercise helps cancer survivors - physical activity in cancer patients helps improve function, quality of life, body weight, strength and fatigue.
3. Soy is safe, despite previous warnings - breast cancer patients and survivors can safely eat moderate amounts of soy. 
4. Inactivity is harmful - sedentary lifestyle causes 10% of both breast cancers and colon cancers. 
5. Lightening our heavy nation - 2/3rds of adults are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of seven cancers.
6. Sugary drinks linked to weight increase - regular consumption of sugary beverages contributes to weight gain. 
7. Losing weight to lower risk - losing weight can reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to some cancers. 
8. How to keep weight off - adding vegetables and fruits is the single most effective strategy for long-term weight loss. 

So in other words - no need to eat like me. Hopefully I can inspire you to love your life and the food you choose to put in your body. Use your body, love your body and respect your body. It's your life - live it and love it!


Racing weight - do you have one?

Yes, I am pouring ice down my shorts at Ironman Kentucky (2009). This was one of my favorite races because it was great to be in my home state. I loved the rolling hills on the course and I always like to see nature/wildlife when I am racing. I have been known to say out loud "Hello" to the cows and horses that I spot along course - I am sure they say hello back but I am too busy riding fast on my bike. 
This was also a favorite race of mine because it was my Ironman PR - a hard definition to use in racing because I have PR'd in separate races for each the swim, bike and run but here I put it all together for a "fast" Ironman at 10 hours and 53 minutes. But as we all know, you can't compare race to race for every race is different. I will take my 10 hours and 57 minute finishing time as my "best" race at IMWI for it was super challenging and likely the hardest IM I have ever "raced". In Kona 2011, I PR'd on the bike but I have yet to learn how to "race" that race so hopefully I will have the honor to race there for the 3rd time in the future (hopefully with Karel).

As far as racing weight goes, I hear a lot from athletes who feel as if reaching a certain weight will allow them to race better. I understand that we should not be carrying more weight on our body than is needed for that can increase risk for injuries. But in terms of a healthy weight vs a racing weight, how can we figure out what is our ideal weight for performing well on race day?

Here's how I see it  - from both a coach, an athlete and someone who has worked with many athletes on race day/race week eating along with sport nutrition and weight loss. 

If you are a newbie, you likely have no idea what is an ideal racing weight. Focus on your training and getting stronger with consistent  performance gains. A number on a scale or comparing your body composition to others will not give you a PR. Your work in the pool, on the bike and/or while running will give you the race performance you trained your body to do by race day. As for wanting to lose weight and being a newbie? That is fine and likely why you started a new sport in order to "get healthy". Never should a workout be compromised or life be extreme just to "lose weight". Create a healthy foundation diet that will nourish your body and leave you satisfied and then prioritize nutrition around (before, during and after) workouts. This can be done best with someone (ex. sport RD) providing feedback to nutrition logs to tweak the diet for better nutrient timing and of course, learning how to not over/under-eat.

Here is the big reason why veterans talk about "Racing" weight. Someone who refers to a past weight and explains that "at x-weight, I performed the best ever so that is my racing weight" is simply identifying the weight as the highlight of the training. In other words, it wasn't the weight loss or change of body composition that happened first (or in the off-season or while doing nothing) and then the performance gains but instead, the change in body composition and "ideal" racing weight was the result of training. You didn't perform well on race day because you stuck to a diet plan and sat on the couch doing nothing but instead, you likely provided your body with the right fuels at the right time to make performance gains and your body took care of itself. It got stronger, faster and perhaps leaner and you performed well on race day. Now you are likely more efficient and may be struggle with getting back to that weight but in hindsight, it wasn't that specific weight that made you have a great race but instead the training that came with it.

IMKY was a PR but I was also at my "heaviest" for IM racing. I do not perform well with a low body weight and also, it isn't fun because I don't like to feel hungry or restricted so that's a choice I make as I will take performance over a number on a scale. I don't like my body weight going under 108lbs (I'm 5 feet "tall" and I create muscle very easily thanks to genetics and good nutrient timing) and that weight only occurs during IM training. Throughout the year I hoover around 111-112. I'm fine with that as I feel energized, satisfied and most of all, healthy and balanced. I know that if my weight gets to 115 - no biggie but more than that, risk of injuries goes up for me and I am aware of that so to be respectful to my body, I need to adjust something with training/diet to get back to a healthy weight. So although at IMKY I was heavier than most IM's, I performed the best ever and at the end of the day when writing my race reports, it wasn't the weight that hopefully inspired others to reach personal health goals but rather my attitude, performance and approach to a fun, active lifestyle. Hopefully you can do the same. 

If you are an athlete or fitness enthusiast, you likely are using your body to perform. If you are a swim suit, cycling shorts or running top model, you are using your body for a picture. There's nothing wrong with either one but from my perspective as an athlete, I would rather use my body in my swim suit, cycling shorts and running top to get to finishing lines and feel fueled and strong along the way. 

Since we are in a society that is stuck between "healthy eating for health" and "healthy eating for weight loss", I thought I'd share an article (or parts of it) from one of my favorite nutrition journals as athletes are always quick to remove food to lose weight or follow a fad diet (heavy on products or "bad" food) and I find that nutritional irresponsible and often times disrespectful for the body that we expect to be 100% all the time. For me, I'd rather work with an athlete to identify strengths and weaknesses in the diet alongside lifestyle habits that may be affecting the timing, amount and types of nutrition before assuming that that athlete has to go to any great lengths in terms of restrictive eating when it comes to meeting personal weight and performance goals. I have heard many athletes blame certain foods for GI upset and feeling 'unhealthy' but for me, I'd rather find any triggers for the reasons behind not feeling well during the day or during training rather than blaming a food source and removing it without it being the true cause.

Nutrition Action Healthletter Jan/Feb 2013 issue.
GUT MYTHS: Clearning up confusion in the GI tract.

(there are several myths listed on pg 3-5 so I will share one of them)

MYTH: Got gas? Beans, vegetables and milk are the main culprits.
Beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, milk, bran. Those are some of the usual suspects when people are trying to figure out why they're experiencing, ahem, gas. Ant those foods can cause gas.
But most of us overlook a growing source of the problem: inulin, or chicory root extract, one of the most popular ingredients in "high-fiber" foods.
"Of all the fibers added to foods, inulin is the one that probably causes the most intestinal gas, " say fiber expert Joanne Slavin, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota. "Inulin contains sugars that our digestive enzymes can't break down."
The enzymes do just fine with sugars that have only one or two basic units (called saccharides). Sucrose, or table sugar, for example, is a disaccharide, that is broken down in the small intestine into fructose and glucose.
But when it comes to sugars made up of three or more units - often called oligosaccharides - our enzymes are useless. So the sugars end up as food for the bacteria in the gut.
"Inulin is quickly and completely fermented in the large intestine," explains Slavin. And when your bacteria finish fermenting it, you get stuck with the gas they give off.
"Beans are notorious for causing gas because they have sugars like raffinose and stachyose," notes Slavin. Raffinose has three sugar units. Stachyose has four.
"If you look at literature on treating or cooking beans to make them less gassy, it's mostly t get the oligosaccharides out of there," she adds.
(Beano tablets can prevent gas because the contain an enzyme that breaks down raffinose and stachyose).
Whether inulin is a problem depends on how much you eat and who you are.
"Our review of studies found that inulin is generally well tolerated at levels up to 15g a day," says Slavin. But at around 20 grams, flatulence or bloating is more likely. "So does is a big issue and there is also individual variability."

Each serving of FIber One 90 Calorie Bronies, Fiber One cottage Cheese and Yoplait LIght with fiber has 5 grams of fiber and much of it is inulin.
Some Fiber One Chewy Bars have up to nine grams.
"If you have a serving of beans you'll get about 3 grams of oligosaccharides, not nine grams," says Slavin. "Any they're more manageable in a real food because they're digested more slowly and usually mixed with other foods."

Another hidden source of gas: sugar alcohols like sorbitol and maltitol. "They're low-calorie carbohydrates because they're not completely digested and absorbed," explains Slaving. "Typically if you are eating sugar-free candy or gum, your exposure to sugar alcohols is low, but if people eat the whole bag of candy, it can cause gas."
Sugar alcohols aren't all equal, though. In small studies, some people complain of gas when doses of sorbitol reach 10-20g but few complain unless they get at least 30-40 grams of maltitol.
Most foods don't have that much. Breyers Vanilla or chocolate CarbSmart and No sugar Added ice creams, for example, have 4-5 g of sorbitol per half cup, but many people start at a whole cup. And Baskin Robbins No sugar Added Caramel Turtle Truffle ice cream has 25grams of maltitol per scoop..

Of course, some people may eat more than one food with sugar alcohols during the course of a day. And people vary. "Most people can tolerate normal doses, but not everybody is the same," say Slavin.

On the plus side, sugar alcohols have fewer calories than sugar and inulin spurs the growth of Bifido bacteria, which may be good for gut health (that's why it is called a prebiotic). But the more bacteria in your gut, the more gas they give off.

"Scientists argue that gas isn't bad for you, but most people say it's not acceptable," say Slavin. "If you hve gas, you should definitely consider what you're eating. If it's a lot of fermentable fiber or sugar alcohols, that could be the explanation."


Comfort zone, trail mix and Oakley Radar Lock

I am a big believer that we need to protect our eyes when we are training/exercising. I can't tell you how many athletes or active individuals I see not wearing sunglasses while training. But we don't want just any sunglasses, we want protection from flying objects and from the sun....not just a cheap pair of shades that "look" competitive or expensive.
The entire package of quality shades can not be found in all shades and if you are thinking of saving some money on a pair of glasses, I recommend do not think twice when it comes to protecting your eyes and investing in your eye health. Although many things with the body can be replaced or fixed, the eyes are two body parts that you do not want to mess with (trust me - my dad is an optometrist...he'd be very upset if any of my Trimarni readers were not protecting their eyes).
Here's a great video to learn more about why Oakley makes the BEST sunglasses out there (I am not paid to say this - I have been wearing Oakley's for 6 years and Karel has worn Oakley's since his days racing bikes as a young teenager in Europe): ROLLING O LAB

While at the VIP Oakley Progression Session: SAN DIEGO, I had the opportunity to try on the 
 Radar Lock Edge. A Trimarni follower emailed me regarding a sunglasses pair that was not heavy and fit around her check bones without feeling tight. I tried on several pairs at the Oakley event to find her the perfect pair and although I LOVE my commit shades because they fit my small face and feel like nothing when I am riding and running long hours, I really fell in love with the Radar Lock Edge shades. I really like the vents on them and this is something that Karel loves in his Radar Lock shades. I highly recommend these glasses if you are have a small face but are looking for protection around your eyes in a light pair of shades that doesn't slip or move. Also, they have a nice competitive look which is always important if you want to race fast :)

Has anyone ever asked you what food you could never live without? For me, that's hard. But I'd have to say that trail mix is one food (hopefully it classifies as a "food") that I could live on and still feel "healthy" and satisfied. I love the many combinations of trail mix that you can make from adding cereal and granola to dried fruit and all types of nuts.

Here's a yummy trail mix I enjoyed today: Goji berries, pumpkin seeds, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, granola bites. YUMMO!

I always enjoy providing content to USAT Multisport Zone. I have a great editor and friend who allows me to share some of my blogs and recipes on the website and I love connecting with triathletes from around the world. Here's a recent blog that I wrote on moving out of your comfort zone...something that I have learned to do over the past few years and believe me, it seems scary at first but it's up to you to determine your attitude and plan of action with everything you do in life. Embrace change.

Moving out of your comfort zone


Oakley Women VIP Fitness Progression Session: San Diego

Every time I attend an Oakley Women event I leave inspired. I have a saying that in life, we should surround ourselves with people who give us energy and not take it away from us. Oakley Women makes that super easy and this time was above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined in terms of feeling inspired and motivated.

I woke up around 5am on Thursday morning and headed to the Jacksonville airport around 5:30am to make my 7:20am flight. Compression socks, Oakley bag, Brooks running shoes...check! I was so excited to get to Cali for the first ever VIP Oakley Women Fitness Progression Session.

I had a small snack on my way to the airport, along with my coffee so my 1/2 banana w/ PB kept me satisfied until I boarded my first flight to Dallas (a little less than 3 hour flight). I brought along 2 pita sandwiches of PB and J along with snacks of fruit (Plum, apple, nectarine) and trail mix (cheerios mixed with nuts, seeds, granola and raisins). I had my big pink water bottle to fill up after security and before boarding my second flight, I bought a Subway Breakfast sandwich packed with egg whites, swiss cheese and veggies on flat bread. I had 1/2 of the 12" on my flight to San Diego and the other half when I arrived in San Diego. Because I was arriving around noon west coast time, my body was a bit confused on the time change. Since I have been flying out West rather frequently in the past year or two, I have learned that my body does better with small meals every 2-3 hours rather than the standard breakfast and lunch while traveling. 

My Oakley Women "mommy" Abbey, picked me up at the airport and it was great to catch up since our last Oakley Women ambassador summit in Utah. We checked in to the Hyatt at Mission Bay and then headed to the event venue just a quick 10 minute walk away. 

The event included a mass boot camp for all 200 hand-selected ladies, interviews to become the next Oakley Women ambassador (to join the team), a yoga workshop, a nutrition workshop (with me!), t-shirt making station, the Oakley Women shopping "trailer", a complimentary food truck (YUM!), a social media tent and swag for every lady in attendance. 

Before dinner at the Red Marlin, I had a little time to practice my talk a few more times (I don't like using papers when I speak so I have been working on 7 pages/30 minutes of information to recite by memory) and I was able to make time for a great 1 hour workout in the fitness studio (weights, stretching, cardio). 

After dinner I received a few goodies from my other Oakley Women "mommy" Chelsea and I was so excited to sport a few articles of clothing from the 2013 spring collection. 

I woke up early for San Diego time but felt great "sleeping in" based on EST. I planned to get my breakfast before heading to the fitness studio for a quick 30 min stretch session knowing that Einstein bagels was likely to get busy as the morning went on. At 6am, there wasn't even a line..just like I like it as I don't enjoy waiting for food, especially with a hungry belly.

I got ready in my room while enjoying my delicious bagel thin sandwich with asparagus, swiss and mushrooms. I also got a big cup of fresh, sliced mixed fruit to save for later in the morning before I began my series of workshops. The last thing I need is a brain that is low in fuel when I am asking my mind to remember 7 pages of information for 4 x 30 min. workshops!

Before the event started, I had a little segment with Channel 6 San Diego news. We tested out the Shape Diva Dash obstacle course - lots of fun!

Here's the first clip (Haven't located the second segment yet)


Oakley ambassadors Cari and Carrie from Bombshell - Bootcamp.

Hopefully all the ladies brought a credit card....hard to pass up a display of Oakley Women shades. I tried on the Oakley Women Radar Lock with vents....Love them!!! Perhaps you may see me at Ironman Lake Placid sporting this pair of comfortable, light shades with just enough competitive vibe to them. 

After setting up my table with my yummy energy balls (my creation created by a catering company with Oakley Women), it was time for bootcamp!

What a workout!!!!

Time for a snack!

I will share the recipe in a future blog but for now you can imagine how delicious they taste!!

I met so many inspiring women throughout the morning and I had such a great time sharing my top 7 tips on living a balanced active and healthy lifestyle.

I had great questions from the ladies on nutrition and I also enjoyed speaking to several aspiring "dietitians" which was so great for me to share my story and experience and how taking that challenging, long road to earning my RD credential was beyond worth it!

Talk about a busy day.....around 3pm, Oakley Women announced the new brand ambassador ( Caitlin O'Hara). 


Then it was time for champagne and cocktails with the Shape Magazine staff and Oakley Women team.

What a fabulous weekend and inspiring to say the least. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given in the past two years, thanks to Oakley Women, for letting me share my passion and knowledge with active and health conscious ladies. I was so excited to officially sign my Oakley Women agreement, letting others know that my Oakley Women gear is "for living my active life and not for impressing others".

Ladies - there is still time if you will be in the Denver and Dallas area in May. I look forward to the upcoming VIP Oakley Women Fitness Progression Session. events and meeting more inspiring women who love to get after it!