Essential Sports Nutrition


Palacinky (crepes) for dessert, or breakfast

Since I met Karel in 2006, my tummy has welcomed many Czech creations. It's always a special treat when we receive our yearly shipment of Karel's mom's Czech x-mas cookies (homemade, prepared with love and sent from Znojmo, Czech Republic).

But I also enjoy the creations that Karel makes, along with the stories that go with the meal/food.

Inspired by my Czech hubby, I made Palacinky last night for a holiday party at Open Road Bicycles Jax Beach. Not only was the party a holiday sweater theme but also an international food theme.

In bite size pieces for easy tasting.

It's a Czech dessert which is similar to crepes. I filled mine with strawberry rhubarb jam for the party. 

The ingredient list is super simple that you can make Palacinky and use it like a wrap for any of your favorite fillings.

A few ideas if you are using them as a dessert:
Peanut butter, jam, sunflower seeds and banana slices
Whipped cream cheese, cinnamon and apple slices
Pear, walnuts and goat cheese


1 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2-1 cup water to make batter thin
(Makes four large crepes or 6-8 small crepes)

1. Mix together (add water as you go) in a large bowl to form a soupy consistency.
2. Add ~1/3 cup in medium size skillet, on low heat (drizzle olive oil to prevent sticking) and move pan around to form a large thin pancake.
3. Cook both sides and set on place to cool (you want the pancake to be soft, not firm). Then add your choice of filling to meet your sweet, spicy, meaty or savory needs.
4. Roll into a log and enjoy!


Brownie Bites - Warning: you will yum when you eat them

The other day while watching the Today Show and Keri Glassman, RD discussed using an avocado in a brownie. I love being creative in the kitchen so I thought this would be a great idea for the Hammerhead Tri club holiday party (which included a cookie contest).

Like usual, when I see a food or meal that inspires me, it's typically from the Internet or in a cookbook or magazine. Aside from baking, I'm not one to follow recipes (thus why I call my meals "creations") and I rarely measure food. As a dietitian and athlete, I see food for fuel and nourishment (and pleasure) and that makes me enjoy the cooking process as well as meal time.

The majority of my meals are simply inspiration from real food and the final product is nothing more than putting several foods together for a balanced meal that's filled with flavor.  But because baking is a science and leaves little room for my creative mind, I needed a delicious avocado brownie recipe so I searched the Internet.

I couldn't believe what I saw when I googled AVOCADO BROWNIE.

Now I know that with my many titles "Dietitian, exercise physiologist, vegetarian, triathlon coach, clinical RD" I may mislead some individuals but I try very hard to be as consistent as possible with my philosophy on training, life and eating as well as how I go about educating, inspiring and motivating others. But, because I titled myself a "vegetarian" when I was 10 years old because I didn't want to kill animals, this is an area where I may come across as one-sided when it comes to the diet.

But I do not think of my diet as "meat free." Despire promoting a plant strong diet for health and environmental reasons, I don't force anyone to be called a "vegetarian." Karel is not a vegetarian, my parents are not vegetarians and we all get along just fine around food. You won't find me talking about my recipes as "meat-free" but instead "plant strong." I really don't like titling the diet but instead thinking of it as a lifestyle. I feel my "vegetarian" diet is my lifestyle because in 21 years of not eating meat I also feel I am protecting the environment, showing my love for animals (and all creatures), protecting my health and reducing risk for disease and fueling my lifestyle. But I don't believe that we as a society need a title as to what we can or shouldn't eat, unless it is for ethical, medical or religious reasons.

The very first recipe I found for an avocado brownie recipe was featured on a Paleo website. I care to not discuss my thoughts on paleo for if you believe in the diet, I would be happy to have a nice discussion as to why I feel it is not a "healthy" diet or lifestyle and to dispute any type of reasons that you have as to why you think it is the best diet out there. And I care not to do this via email but instead, face to face for I've noticed that Paleo individuals are quite agressive when they talk on forums, blogs, etc. about foods that are bad in the diet and why "we" (those of us who choose not to restrict the diet from foods that are proven to be healthy in order to eat a diet that is extremely restrictive for many of the wrong reasons) are all unhealthy because we eat foods other than meat, sweet potatos, avocados, coconut oil, butter and veggies.

This is not from a vegetarian perspective but instead, my role as a clinical RD and exercise physiologist. But then again, anyone can put a disclaimer on a website and anyone can promote nutrition advice these days so sadly, educational titles and degrees do not go very far in today's society and those of us who are qualified to provide nutritional advice typically are not the "go-to" resources on the internet (where publishing thoughts is free).

Don't believe me....ask yourself how many blogs you read that are written by individuals who enjoy sharing their passion/thoughts for eating but include the disclaimer that they are not a dietitian or MD. 

Nothing wrong with getting some inspiration from others for even I enjoy seeing other blogs on food, recipes, etc. from individuals who are not RDs, but when it comes to changing your health, it's highly recommended to consult a RD that has a personal dietary philosophy that you also believe in (and yes - there are RD's who promote paleo if you choose to go to them.)

I realize that many people feel more confident with their diet (especially when shopping or eating around others) when they have a diet title. It's a very easy way to exclude food from the diet. Although from a medical standpoint I would never encourage someone with celiac disease, diabetes or another disease that can be managed with food as medicine to hide their disease for embarrassment of a dietary title, I feel that many people try to fit into a diet "title" (paleo, gluten free, wheat free, low carb, south beach, raw, vegan, lacto ovo vegetarian) becaues they feel more control over what they  can't eat. The more restriction, the easier it is to follow a diet plan.

I love the idea of people adding more real food into the diet and I think that many diet titles encourage that but I don't feel that you have to give yourself a title as to what you can or can't eat unless it is for religious, ethical or medical reasons. You may have trigger foods that encourage over eating but avoiding a list of foods will not bring you to a better relationship with food and your body.

Remember that your diet should enhance your lifestyle.

As I scrolled down my google search page, I began to see many avocado brownie recipes letting me know what they didn't have in them.
Dairy free
Flour free

This is another thing that I don't feel is bringing our society to a better relationship with food. Aside from individuals with allergies, medical issues, etc. many people seeking body composition or dietary changes are always looking for recipes or foods without "x" (because you feel you shouldn't eat it) instead of focusing on what you can eat and perhaps what will feel the best in your body. If you haven't taken time to think about how food makes you feel when you eat it and after you eat it, I highly recommend learning how to be more mindful with your diet before you start excluding and restricting food (often times, "healthy" food from the diet).

Unless I feel it is needed, you will not see me talking about my food by what it doesn't have in it. Not sure about you but I am at peace with food and I really enjoy what I put inside my body and I don't think about what I shouldn't be eating but instead, what I get to eat. 

I work with many individuals who have serious food allergies or medical conditions (athletes included) and they know what foods they should not eat because of their health. I treat every individual as an individual with personal goals in mind and their health as the top priority (before performance).

For example, gluten is found in soy sauce, ice cream, gourmet meats, medications, salad dressings and cream based soups. Individuals who have severe gluten intolerances or celiac disease have (hopefully) been educated on foods that they can and can not eat for health reasons. If not, it's important to work with a RD who can help.

Seeing a recipe online (blog, twitter, instagram) that says "gluten, wheat, egg, sugar, fat" free may help the individual who has a medical condition but I would like to think that by looking at the recipe, he/she may be able to identify if she/he can eat it. It also helps to search the Internet for x-free foods if you do have a dietary title but this all brings me to my point of this blog.

For the otherwise healthy individuals of our society, that perhaps may desire a change in body composition, boost performance or improve overall health, do you really need to be told what you aren't eating in order to be healthy?

If you eat carrots for a snack, would you think to yourself that you are having a "meat free" snack?
If you eat brown rice, beans and veggies for dinner, would you think to yourself that you are a "vegetarian"?
If you use avocado in your brownie recipe does that mean you are following the paleo diet?
If you eat a grapefruit for a snack, does that mean you are following the grapefruit diet?
If you snack on celery, does that mean you are on a fat-free, egg-free, vegan, raw diet?

I feel our society would have a much better relationship with food if we could enjoy real food for what it provides our body and indulge on occasion without feeling guilty. See food for the nutrients it provides, yum when you eat, indulge and feel better after you eat than before, eat with a purpose and  pay attention to your unique individual needs as to how food is best timed with your individual lifestyle and personal health, fitness and life goals.  

That is the diet I recommend for you to follow.

So I share with you my "Brownie Bites" recipe.

It may be gluten-free, vegetarian and paleo....if you want to give it a title.

Oh wait, it's not paleo - it has soy in it.

Gluten-free and vegetarian. Sorry Paleo peps, you can add almond flour instead. 

But to me, it's yummy. Enjoy!

Brownie Bites

4 ounces of baking chocolate (unsweet) - 1 block = 1 ounce
1 mashed avocado
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy flour (you can use any flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Add-ins: Pretzels, almonds, peanut butter, cranberries and white chocolate chips
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Melt chocolate in bowel (I recommend in 45 min intervals in microwave, stir and then reheat).
2. Whisk together eggs and sugar until light and doubled in volume.
3. Gradually add in melted chocolate until combined.
4. Stir in soy powder, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla.
5. Blend in the avocado.
(these are the typical steps for making brownies. I did not follow these steps - I just added everything into a bowl and mixed together with a fork. You can take your pick as to how you want to make the brownies. Mine tasted great.)
6. Divide the batter into 4 separate bowls and then add in your add-ins.
I used about 10 almonds (crushed), 1 tbsp Smuckers Natural PB, small handful pretzels, 1/8 cup cranberries and white chocolate chips. 7. On 2 baking sheets sprayed with a little non stick spray, using 1 tsp for measuring, spoon a heaping tsp from each bowl and then place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
8. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until slightly firm.
9. Insert a toothpick into each bite when you remove from the oven and eat warm or cool in the refrigerator.
10. Refrigerate in air-tight container for up to 4 days (if they last that long).

Nutrition facts:
Makes ~45 bites
Serving size: 1 tsp
Per bite:
36 calories
2g fat
1g saturated fat
9mg cholesterol
4g carbs
2.5g sugar
1g fiber
2g protein
17mg sodium


Goodbye shoelaces, hello RIPLACES

Not only are we lucky to be able to train outside year-round in Florida but our weather brings for many opportunities for year-round Farmer's Markets.

We are incredibly spoiled by the many vendors at our Farmer's Markets, from local bakers and chefs to jewlery designers, farmers and other local companies. I just love to support small businesses and to learn more about people who have a dream for a service, food or skill that can make a difference in someone's life.

If you are in the Jacksonville area, I highly recommend to stop by the Bartram Farmers Market from 3pm - 7pm today (THURS 12/5). Don't forget to bring cash.


These were a few of our finds at the last Bartram Farmers Market - apple struedels, cinnamon bread, radishes, RIPLACES (given to us to try out) and a variety of 100% fruit jams.

From the Nocatee Farmers Market, our favorite: FRESH BREAD!
German rye loaf. A simple real food ingredient list with no preservatives. After one bite, you'll understand our love for real bread and why it makes our body feel so good inside.

After getting to know the owners/creators of RIPLACES, at the Bartram Farmers Market, I felt an instant connection to their passion for their product. As a small business owner myself, there is nothing more gratifying than not having to "sell" your service but instead, just being yourself and believing in your product/service and also "acting" the part. As you know, I don't agree with extreme ways of living, acting or thinking so I really appreciate people who have a balanced approach to living a great life.

I knew right away that I wanted to try this product, not only because it was something new and innovative (which I love to support) but I felt really comfortable getting to know David and his son. I really love companies that have a service or produt that enhances your lifestyle. In other words, it isn't the driving force in getting you started with your goals, but instead, you have the goals, motivation or excitement to get started and the company (food, product or service) helps you enjoy the journey even more. Whether it is purely for motivation (who doesn't love something new?) or the product/item helps to improve your health, keep you safe or helps you train smart, there's something special about companies who support your lifestyle and want to make it even better with their service/product.  
Karel and I (and Campy) had a little RIPLACE party one evening as we put on our RIPLACES. This was really quick and easy, thanks to the informative video on the Website .

After trying out the RIPLACES for various runs (and walking around), I really enjoy the simplicity of not having to worry about shoelaces on my running (and walking) shoes.
I never got into "triathlon" marketed shoes laces so for the past 5 years or so, I have kept it really simple by using jacket cord locks on my shoelaces (use your shoelace as normal and then slide your laces through the lock and then close down the lock to fit your tightness needs. Allow a few inches of extra lace so that you can loosen the cord to remove your shoe, and then make a knot and allow a little bit extra before snipping off the extra laces.)

Realizing that many people like their shoelaces tight or loose, "each set of Riplaces comes with 60 precision-made loops (12 each of 5 different sizes) of the highest quality elastic covered in a durable stretch fabric shell. The different sizes allow you to personally tune your Riplaces installation for optimimum comfort and performance. The precision sizing and stretch coefficient of our Riplace bands are a key part of the product design; comfort and performance are the key design criteria for Riplaces."

I had to borrow a few of Karel's RIPLACES (green color) because I needed all of my RIPLACES to be in the smallest loop possible. I don't find them loose when I am running and after a few times of getting use to them, I find them really easy to put on and they give me the right amount of support around my ankle and top of my foot (You  do have to use your hand to open the tongue of the shoe for if you are using for running, you will likely want the top lace to be snug to prevent your ankle from rolling).
I will say that if you are a triathlete, I recommend to try out the laces before you decide to use them in a race because many triathletes have preferences for how tight/loose they want their laces and also because many people experience swelling in their feet during endurance training/racing, you may need to modify the size of your laces.
If you feel the RIPLACES aren't ideal for your training/racing, I recommend my cord locks (above) as a simple option.

This is one product that I recommend to try out to see if it works for you as a runner or triathlete, with your training. I think fitness enthusiasts will really enjoy the RIPLACES because you won't have to worry about training for a race in your shoes but instead, just enjoying your active lifestlye with your shoes to keep you moving.
But in terms of using the RIPLACES for every day shoe wear (ex. walking shoes, etc.) I highly recommend the RIPLACES.
One question I had was about the durability of the laces. As we all know, our shoes take a beating with training/racing and daily life. David answered me at the Farmers Market when I met him but according to the website:
"The Riplace closures are extremely durable components that should outlast the shoe itself. We use the highest quality injection-molded nylon (the same material used in many mil-spec and law enforcement tactical products) and polycarbonate (used in clear bullet-proof products). We have test users who have worn the same set of bands for nearly a year with no problem. If a band wears out or breaks, remember that your basic Riplaces kit includes 60 bands; you should have plenty of spares if the need ever arises."
There are many types of styles and colors which is important because I have a saying that "if you match, you will go fast." :)
If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or you can visit the web store (RIPLACES).

 Riplaces offers free shipping on all orders to the continental United States, regardless of order size.
You can also check them out (and follow) on FACEBOOK.
Thanks RIPLACES for letting me review your product  (in exchange for a free pair for me and Karel) and to share your company with my readers.


Returning to running after an injury

Ask any family member, training buddy or close friend to a runner (or triathlete) who is recently injured and can not run and you will quickly learn that an injured runner is no fun to be around. Sure, there are the athletes and fitness enthusiasts who keep a smiling face and a positive attitude while coping with an injury but it is completely normal to feel frustrated when you dedicate yourself to a goal and then receive a setback.

So when you get injured the focus should not be on "when can I run again" but instead, "why did this happen and how can I become a smarter athlete because of this injury."
As an athlete who enjoys to stay active, I have had many setbacks with training for events due to hip/back issues and anywhere from 6-12 weeks of no running. Although I can't say that I am always optimistic at the beginning of an injury, I have learned how to focus on the CANs and understand the physiology of my body better with an injury than when I am 100% healthy. I have worked with amazing physical therapists which I highly recommend when you are injured. I also recommend to wait no more than 7-10 days of experiencing a chronic ache before you see a sport physician to help you diagnose your symptoms. With my disclaimer that I am not a MD or a PT, I write this blog with a lot of experience in overcoming injuries and learning from MDs and PTs (from my own experience) and I have been very successful in overcoming injuries to arrive to starting lines healthy, strong, happy and hungry to race. Despite many "learning experiences" with my body, I have arrived to every Ironman starting line that I have signed up for and have finished every Ironman distance triathlon I have started. Although I am not sure of the reason behind it, my very first blog post on Trimarni was my first and only DNF. 

Because many runners struggle with returning back to running after an injury, I'd like to point out a few considerations before sharing my "return to run" plan that I have used many times (and I have also shared with several other athletes to assist in a healthy return back to structured, consistent training). 

-Many runners feel depressed after an injury. Even if running feels like it is your life, it is not. It is your lifestyle and thus you must have something else in your life that brings you joy, balance and relieve stress just as much as running. Start your list now as to what you will do if you ever get injured from running: another sport, train for another event, water jog, elliptical, painting, etc. Find something that will challenge you but will also bring you happiness when you are engaged in the journey. 

-Many runners love the endorphins or the rush of blood when they run. Nothing wrong with that. But identify if you are using running for weight maintenance or weight loss and recognize that running is not the only thing that will help you reach your body composition goals. The idea is to focus on what you CAN do to move your body and many non weight bearing activities can be performed so long as you convince yourself that yes, it's not like running but it will do the trick (check with your physician and PT first before engaging in another activity while injured. I work with great PT's that endorse activity as the body is not designed for rest). 

-Don't convince yourself that all is lost or ruined just because you can't run. If you are training for an event, the best place to start is to talk with your coach or an experienced training buddy on the best route to take. You may not like to hear it but it may be smart to pass on the race in order to ensure good health for the rest of the year. From Feb - April this past year I did not run, not even once because of my hip/back issues. I worked super hard with my PT sessions and continued to swim, elliptical, water jog and bike after the first two weeks of letting my injury flare up calm down. After 90 days of running, I still continued to believe I could qualify for Kona at IM Lake Placid. Not only did I qualify for Kona but I had a 10 min PR at IM Lake Placid but also went on to have a 6 minute PR in Kona, 14 weeks later. I know many athletes, pros and age groupers, that do not give up on their dreams and instead of spending energy on excuses they work hard and end up impressing themselves on race day. Every injury, person and scenario is different so remember that your health is the priority and no medal or t-shirt is worth racing in pain. Also, don't tell yourself you will gain weight, get fat or lose fitness because you are injured. I feel the best time to focus on your diet is when you are not expending a lot of calories because you can then get in-tune with your normal hunger signals and what it feels like to be satisfied without burning 500+ calories a day. Remember, your body burns calories every time you move so you don't have to just run to burn calories. 

-There will be a day when you can run again (hopefully) so keep reminding yourself of this. One thing I stress to every athlete is to remember the moments when you are injured when you tell yourself "if I could only run 5 minutes or 1 mile or 20 minutes I would be SO happy" or "I will appreciate every step when I can run again and I won't overtrain again" or "I will promise to fuel better, stretch more, strength train, etc. when I can run again" Be proactive during your injury and be sure you address anything that may have increased the risk for injury so that you don't make the same mistake twice. 

Below are three workouts that I recommend you perform (discuss with PT if you have one - which I highly recommend to assist in your rehab process to identify any weaknesses) so long as you are given the OK to run again. My general rule with coming back from an injury is to not rely on anti-inflammatory medications (or cortisone shots) to help you run again, especially if you are still in pain. Those medications have their place for some individuals but they do not make most running injuries go away so that you can run pain free and still recover. You do not want to mask pain when you are trying to return to an injury for you will only make the situation worse. Also, you must start slow. The goal is to make progress and to get yourself strong again. Understand that you will have inflammation and a few natural aches after you have not ran for a period of time. That is normal and shouldn't be confused with "I am injured again." The plan I have developed will allow you to stop before you need to stop and to hopefully encourage a gradual run back to running. Lastly, after you are 100% pain free and feel the itch to run - wait 2 more days. 
I promise that you will thank me for waiting those extra 48 hours for many runners are near the verge of full recovery but when they run again (pain free) for the first few minutes, endorphins take over and it's really hard to stop. Thus, the body takes too much stress and the athlete is out for more days and possible a few more weeks. Play it smart. If you have waited 2, 4, 12 weeks to run, why not wait 48 more hours just to be safe. 

A few key points:
-Understand that training won't be what it was before and the goal is to be able to resume consistency with training. Remove any pressure about fitness goals, races, etc. Just enjoy the beauty of a body in motion.
-I am a big fan of run/walk for training and thus I feel it is essential in returning to running after an injury. The less stress on the better, the better for you will run with better form, you will postpone fatigue and you will still receive the physiological benefits of covering x-miles or x-minutes. 
-Perform workouts without focusing on pace or miles. Focus only on time and celebrate every milestone. 
-Don't get stuck on a schedule. It's really amazing how sometimes it just feels "right" to run. I try to avoid telling myself that I have to run mon/wed/fri for my return to running plan. Instead, I give 24 hours in between workouts to ensure good recovery and to reduce inflammation but I also listen to my body. Maybe Mon, Thurs and Sun feels better or perhaps Mon morning and then Tues evening. The goal is to accomplish three workouts within a 7 or 10 day span, only focusing on one workout at a time. 
-Keep in mind where you are running. Always perform a good dynamic warm-up before you run to warm-up your cold or tight muscles. There are thoughts as to how to progress back to running on different surfaces  - anti gravity treadmill, track or packed trail, street (no sidewalks). Discuss with your PT who specializes in your injury to determine the best course of action. 
-Do your homework!! Don't just say that you will keep up with stretching and strength and then stop when you can run again. You are better off cutting a run short to dedicate time to recovery and strength than just focusing on the miles - which may cause another injury. Also, determine the time you have to run which includes time for a pre run snack (if needed, but I recommend one), dynamic stretching and also stretching post workout. You may say you only have 45 minutes to run but really, you may only have 25 or 30 min which is fine. 
 I can't promise that these workouts will allow you to be 100% healthy enough to run again but they will tell you the following
 1) If you are able to return to running training again in the next two weeks
2) If you are still injured or recovering and it is not wise to train or race in the next two weeks
3) That you are making progress with your rehab 

Two great dynamic warm-ups to perform for 5-15 minutes before you run:
Dynamic warm-up
(I personally recommend compression - shorts, socks/sleeves. Also, run at whatever pace feels "right". Typically trying to run "slow" may affect your form so just run whatever feels the best at this time - not having a GPS will help so you don't get focus on your pace but instead your form and RPE)

Workout 1:
Run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes
Assess the body - are you OK to continue? If not, stop. If ok,
Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute.
Assess the body - are you ok to continue? Do you need to scale it back to 2 minute walk or 3 minute walk? Assess form and aches, not HR or pace (no GPS needed - wrist watch is fine).
If OK - go back to 3 min run, 1 minute. and assess.
If semi concerned, 3 min run, 2 min walk and assess.
Right now you are getting close to 15 minutes of running. WAHOO!
If you feel OK -  run for 5 minutes continuously. However, you've made it this far. The moment you feel an ache that doesn't feel right, stop! This doesn't mean you can't run again for workout #2 in a few days, it just means the body needs a little more recovery. 15 minutes is more than you have done in the past x-weeks so be happy in this moment (remember, there was a time that you would give ANYTHING to run for 5 minutes).
After the 20 min workout, stretch and ice and perform normal recovery strength/stretches/rolling, etc.
Workout 2:
Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes. - anytime in here that you are concerned, add 1 extra min walking and during the walk, assess if you should continue. This doesn't mean you can't run workout #3 in a few days, it just means your body needs to recover more.
After 11 minutes of run/walk, walk an extra 2 minutes and stretch/shake out the body. Congrats!!
Now run 5 min run, 1 min walk, 5 min run, 1 min walk. Again - stop and always assess throughout. Focus on really good form and think about being light on your feet.
Congrats, you are almost at 25 minutes of run/walk - 10 more minutes than workout #1!
Walk a few minutes here and if all is OK - you can do 5 min continuous running as a cool down to reach 30 minutes total. Way to go!
Anytime during this workout it doesn't feel right, stop and be smart.
Workout 3:
Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 5 min, walk 1 minute. You should now feel like a "runner" again.
Stop and assess - this was a lot of run stress on the body in the past few days, more stress than the past x-weeks of no running.
Be smart here - should you continue? If you are OK, then walk a few minutes and continue on with the workout.
10 min run, continuous (be smart - walk as needed and always assess). Walk 2 minutes.
If all is ok,
10 min run, continuous (assess and be smart, walk as needed).
Congrats - if all went well, you just ran your longest run in x-weeks!! You should be so proud of your body. 30 minutes of running and then 6+ minutes of walking. Way to go!
 At this time, you may want to repeat these three workouts for 1 more week or you can gradually get back into your structured training if you feel 100% healthy. 


Enjoying the benefits of mushrooms

How do you like your mushrooms? I prefer cooked over raw. I really love the "meaty" texture and flavor of cooked mushrooms. 

With over 2000 varieties of mushrooms, we have a few common ones at the grocery store (or farmers market) that are safe for human consumption. 

Mushrooms are so versatile for they can be used in so many different types of dishes. From mushroom burgers to stir-fries, there are so many options, so long as you use your creativity in the kitchen. 

While reading the July/August 2013 issue of Food and Nutrition magazine, I came across a beautiful picture of a variety of mushrooms. I just LOVE pictures of food. 

Mushrooms are a nutrient dense food which means they are low in calories but packed with nutritional value. This is how I like to choose foods that I prioritize in my diet - per bite, how much nutrition am I getting? This is also a great way to choose your indulgences - if you are making every bite count, choose the best ingredients possible and enjoy a small portion and savor every bite.  

Mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals, mushrooms are a good source of potassium as well as providing selenium, copper and three B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid) to assist in metabolism. They are also an excellent source of vitamin D if exposed to UV light before or after harvesting.

Consider the variety of mushrooms to add to your diet: 
Enoki (or Enokitak)

Here are two recent Trimarni creations that allowed me to YUM my way through the meal with the use of mushrooms. Enjoy!

Broccoli and Mushrooms with Quinoa

Head of broccoli (chopped and steamed)
1/2 cup quinoa (cooked in 1 cup water)
1 x large container mushrooms (sauteed in a little olive oil or steamed with broccoli or you can cook tofu and mushrooms together)
1 package firm tofu (cooked in a little olive oil - cubed, drain water before removing tofu and pat dry with towel)
Garlic chopped (to your liking)
Toppings: Olive oil, mozzarella cheese

For serving size, I recommend to fill a shallow dish with broccoli (1-2 cups) and then top with 1 cup mushrooms, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa  and 1/2 cup tofu. I recommend up to 1 ounce cheese and 2 tsp olive oil. 
This will provide you with a satisfying plant strong meal in balanced portions to leave you satisfied. Feel free to modify to your hunger/workout/nutritional needs by increasing amount of fat, protein or quinoa. 
The ingredients listed above will allow for leftovers.

               Tomato Basil Mushroom, Kale and Couscous soup 

1 cup tomato basil soup + 1 can of water (same can as soup)
2 cups chopped kale (or 4-5 kale leaves, stems removed), washed
1 container mushrooms (sliced)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
Pearled couscous (prepared according to box/package)
Optional: Tofu or your choice of protein

1. In large pot, add soup + can of water. Cook on low to medium heat. 
2. Add mushrooms, kale and garlic.
3. Cover and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until kale is soft. 
4. Add your choice of cooked protein.
5. When soup is ready, add 1/2  - 1 cup cooked couscous to your soup bowl. Then top with 1- 1 1/2 cups of soup and mix together with a spoon. 

Note: even though the soup is high in sodium per serving (I recommend less than 440 mg sodium per serving for soup as a good way to select low sodium options) I diluted it with the water and then added the other ingredients to make it more nutrient dense. You do not need to add additional salt to this meal but you can add fresh herbs/spices (or dried) to your liking.



In need of a bike trainer? Karel recommends........

I consider myself really lucky to be married to my bike mechanic. Not only is he crazy smart in all things related to bikes and a talented cat 1 cyclist (turned endurance triathlete and Trimarni coach) but with his retail experience as the former GM of the Trek Bicycle Store of Jacksonville for the past 5 years, Karel does a great job of staying up to date with products, gear and technology.
With the temps dropping, many athletes and fitness enthusiasts have a few options for riding in the winter months:
-brave the cold and bundle up
-dust off the bike in the spring
-compu trainer or spin classes
-indoor cycle trainer
I receive many questions about indoor trainers (obviously, the questions are for Karel for that is not my area of expertise) so I thought I would highlight a few trainers that Karel recommends.
A few things that Karel suggests to consider for when you are purchasing an athletic/fitness product/gear/equipment:

-Customer service - can they help you when your product malfunctions? what's the return policy? are they helpful from reviews?
-Budget - what's your price range? what are you willing to pay extra for and what's a deal breaker?
-Reliabilty and function - if you are paying for quality, what are you getting in return?
-Safety - if applicable
-Upgrades/updates - are there updates for software? do they have a good website for update features or new additions?
An indoor trainer is a great investment to help you stay consistent with training, no matter rain or snow/ice. But with so many brands and types of trainers on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to find the right trainer. And when we say "right", one that won't eat up your rear tire, won't cause a lot of noise and one that will provide enough resistance to simulate outside terrain.
Before I get into trainer models, let's talk tires. There are many trainer tires out so he recommend to invest in a tire specific to the trainer if you are doing most of your riding inside (if you only ride the trainer once or twice every month or two inside, you are fine with what you ride outside just inspect it before you take it outside). 
Karel recommends to have a seperate wheel for your trainer (if you use a rear wheel - see below) to make your life a lot easier so that you can just put on your trainer wheel and you won't have to worry about ruining a tire. But, if you need a "trainer specific tire", Karel recommends Cycleops trainer tire ($34) for your rear wheel. Also, do not ride your trainer tire (that you have used all winter or for most of your rides indoors) outside. There will be a "hot" spot or a flat part of the wheel where the tire was rubbing and this can make the tire sensitive in turns as well as for a flat tire outside.

Here are a few trainers that Karel recommends:
(we were not paid to promote these products. Also, many websites have videos to learn more about their trainers. Any questions, you can send me an email @ )
Cycleops Fluid ProFor a simple trainer without fancy features (ex. no virtual reality courses, etc.) this is a great option with a lifetime warranty. Smooth, quiet and realistic resistance. It has a good frame and won't break the bank account. Karel really likes Cycleops as a brand. They have excellent customer service and are very quick if anything happens with the product (warranty or non-warranty issues).
Price - ~$399 
Another great trainer from Cycleops but one that will substitute your rear wheel. With the cassette in place on the trainer, all you need to do is remove your rear wheel from the bike and fit it right into the trainer. The best part is that you don't have to worry about ruining your rear tire from The silencer provides direct drive technology and is promoted as a "silent" trainer. resistance.
Price: $659 - $729 (with or without cassettee)

If you want to have more fun riding indoors and on different courses Karel suggests the Wahoo Kicker. It can be connected via Bluetooth to a smart phone or tablet. It's a newer trainer on the market but has been shown to be reliable and the company has great customers service and support. It also substitutes the real wheel so you won't ruin your tire.
Price - $1099

The last category of trainers is a virtual reality trainer or training with power, which are two features of the Computrainer trainers.
Although a bit more expensive than most trainers, this is a great option for anyone who may get bored riding inside and wants to have some fun with different courses. This is also an effective trainer that has been shown to help riders improve their fitness on the bike.
This is also a good trainer for athletes who work with coaches so that the coach can see the power file after uploading to a training software program (ex. Training Peaks).
The Computrainer requires a lot more settings whereas the Wahoo trainer is a bit more simple. But everyone has their own likes/dislikes so like with any technology, some things take getting use to but are worth the extra money, time and attention. The computrainers are  compatible with ANT+ and heartrate. There are other features like Spin Scan to help improve pedal strokes as well as Real Course videos to be able to "ride" on your upcoming race course (if available).
Price - varies ($1400-$5000)


Getting ready for the new year

If you are saying to yourself "I can't believe it's already December," you are not the only one who feels like time just rushes by. 

So, perhaps this coming year you can do things a bit differently. Rather than waiting, hoping for the perfect moment or picking the day when everything will feel right, how about treating every day as if it was the first day to work on you. 

To work on your goals, your body, your health, your outlook on life, your relationship with others. Whatever you choose to work on, why wait?

Here are a few tips to help you get ready for the New Year:
1) The first step is always the hardest 
I always learn so much when I ride my bike with Karel. Lately, I have been performing single leg drills, realizing how weak I am on the upstroke of my pedal stroke with my left leg. Well, yesterday Karel really challenged me when we went for our ride. He told me I have to unclip and step-down with my non-dominant leg (which for me, I typically unclip and step-down with my right leg). This terrified me! I felt so unnatural unclipping with my left leg and I was so scared that I was going to fall in the opposite direction (with my right foot clipped in). For me, I have created a habit of using the same leg to unclip ever since I bought my first tri bike w/ clip pedal (7 years ago). This was a very hard habit to break but Karel is always looking for ways for me to be a better skilled rider. You'd think this was something so easy to change but for me, it was scary. 
After a few times of telling Karel there was no way I could do it, I took a risk and did it. And wouldn't you know, now it's no big deal. It took all of 5 minutes to prove to myself that I could at least try this "challenge" and now it's just as easy as the other leg.

We tend to build things up in our mind that they are bigger, harder and more difficult than they really are so we often psych ourselves out before we even try. We all have fears or things that make us uneasy and we can not all relate to each other's obstacles - and that is OK. Don't be afraid to start something. Either find someone who can help you get started and keep you motivated or have someone help you learn how to create the right skills to keep moving forward. 

2) Stay in check with your goals 
Can you remember the goals you set for yourself 3,6 or 12 months ago? How about 2 or 3 years ago? Are you still on track or are you considering a different path to take? Use this time to think about your goals and tweak them as needed so that they are realistic, practical and meaningful. Your goals should be reflective of your lifestyle and how you want to live and every day you should enjoy moving yourself one day closer to your goals. 

3) Choose a daily goal
There's nothing more gratifying than having a to-do list and crossing out each item on the list when it's done and then seeing a completed list at the end of the day. A to-do list is a great way to feel accomplished but it also helps you keep your priorities in check. Sometimes you can't finish everything but you don't want to push back deadlines just because you are spending time on something that isn't a priority for that day. 
The best way to enjoy every day is to feel like you accomplished something for that day. This is easier said than done because often, we have a dozen things on our plate and even when they are completed, we still feel pressure that there's more we need to do.
Have a clear objective of a daily goal that you want to achieve for that day. Is it working out for 30 minutes, working on your skills in the pool, bringing your lunch to work or getting to bed earlier. Direct your energy to that one goals and don't take it for granted when you conquer your daily goal.
Write down your daily goal in a notebook and after a week, see how much you were able to accomplish. Then reflect after a month and see if you created any new habits with your daily goals. 

4) Focus on one thing at a time 
One of the most common results of a person feeling overwhelmed/frustrated with their body composition is making extreme changes in the diet. A list of foods become off-limit and instead of addressing the one or two problem areas, a radical shift is made. Although our society loves to multi-task, the side effect is that we tend to do a few things OK rather than one or two things really really well. Also, at a result, our focus and attention toward the important things gets diluted. 
Whatever goals you have for yourself, you should not feel overloaded with a list of things you have to do, follow or abide by in order to meet your goal. Concentrate on one thing that can help you move closer to your goal. Laying out your clothes the night before a morning workout or making your lunch as you are making dinner the night before are two very easy ways to feel less rushed in the morning. Don't let all day go by and then feel guilty that you didn't work out or eat a lunch from home and then workout fanatically in the evening to try to burn off all the calories you consumed from your fast-food lunch. Set yourself up for a great tomorrow by focusing on one thing at a time that can make you feel great. 
Be sure that you acknowledge accomplishments that you have made so far and what work you still need to do to help you reach your goals. Don't get discourage but instead, feel motivated by how hard you are working to reach your goals (Even when you have a setback - which we all do). 

5) Keep going when the going get tough
What's your reason for the goals you made? There will be tough times ahead and life will not be in your favor so how will you stay focused and motivated during the tough times? Why are you doing this? 
Link what you are doing today (or what you want to accomplish) with where you'd like to be in 30, 60 or 90 days. Keep your timeline short enough that you have check points to keep you honest and humble with your efforts but a long enough vision that you will feel totally awesome when you reach your goal and never gave in to excuses.
Be sure to always focus on the little details. Athletes, for example, often get stuck with garbage yardage and just go through the motions to check it off the list. If you are putting in the time, be sure you are getting something back in return that will move you toward your goals. You must be aware of what you are trying to achieve each day with your actions, whether it's in the diet, exercising, at work or in any part of your life. There will be times when you need to be disciplined to give that little bit of effort even when you are tired, unmotivated and exhausted and there will be other times when you need to step back and reflect on why you aren't making progress (and perhaps, take a short break from the task at hand to re-evaluate your path). 

I hope you find these tips helpful.

Rather than counting down the days until a New Year, enjoy every day as you move yourself closer to your short and long term goals.....your goal timeline is up to you. 

Enjoy the journey, have fun and never have limits on how big you want to dream.