Essential Sports Nutrition


Training, food and work - catching up

I love this quote. I'm sure you agree if you love your job. 

This past week has been very busy for me (thus the lack of blogging) so I thought I'd catch you up....

I love my PRN (as needed) position at Baptist Medical Center Beaches because it allows me to help out the other clinical RDs when they need time off work. This gives me only a handful of days each month to put on my clinical dietitian hat but because the human body is so amazing, I always learn something new, every time I see patients in the hospital. This week I worked Mon, Tues, Wed (on call only), Thurs and Fri so it was really nice to follow patients all week and to spread some good health and cheer to those who were not well during this time of the year. But of course, being a clinical RD requires a lot of brain power so that leaves little energy in the evening for blogging.

Delicious tempeh and broccoli stir fry with quinoa:
Marinara sauce
1. Cooked tempeh in a little olive oil.
2. Steam broccoli and mushrooms.
3. Cook quinoa
4. Combine the veggies and tempeh and then for your serving, 1/2 - 1 cup quinoa on top of your veggie mix. Stir in marinara sauce to taste and enjoy!

Nothing beats a morning run followed by strength (or any workout) to make you appreciate a healthy body.
I did some dynamic stretching after warming up on the elliptical for 20 minutes and then hit the treadmill for some intervals.
Main set 6xs:
4 min @ half marathon pace w/ 1 min EZ recovery (straddle treadmill)
Strength work included circuits of monster walks (with band), Russian squats (holding dumbbell weight by chest), planks, single leg step ups on bench, side planks w/ leg lifts, leg drops and super mans. Many of the exercises are included in my 5-week Transition plan.

In the evening, Karel and I celebrated our Czech holiday dinner and finished it with some cookies (sent with love from Karel's mom in Czech) and watching Campy destroy his new toys.

After sleeping in and waking up without an alarm, we hit the road around 9am for a very hard 3:15hr ride. Karel really made me work hard on his wheel, alongside the wind that was at our face for the ride home.
Main set 2x's:
4 x 8 min (Z3 low, Z3 mid, Z3 upper, Z4 low - for each of the 8 minutes - using power) w/ 2 min EZ after each one (we took an extra 4 minutes recovery after #3 before we did Z4 low).
My power is very similar to Karel's power when I stay on his wheel so I was able to suffer right behind him during these intervals.
After the 40 minute set, we recovered for about 20 minutes riding in steady Z2 and then repeated the set.

Before work, and after an interval run (Main set for 30 minutes, 2 min half marathon pace, 1 min "fast", 1 min EZ for 30 minutes), I did a segment on News4Jax on "Plates Not Pills - eat your vitamins"


Karel joined me for a swim and we did a great main set:
Main set 3x's:
200 @ 85% effort, rest 30 sec.
4 x 50's w/ 10 sec rest, focusing on form, build to fast.
Rest as needed, then repeat 2 more times.
After our 3500 yrd swim we did an intense core/hip/glute workout for 20 min and then it was off to the hospital for me.....Karel had a RETUL bike fit scheduled later that morning.

Yummy morning oats (after pre swim snack, post swim snack)
1/2 cup dry oats
frozen peaches and strawberries
Cashews and almonds
1 tbsp chia seeds
Water for mixing

Campy is so nice...he let Madison sleep in his bed and roughed it up on the couch. 

Well, there you go....busy, healthy and happy.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend!


Real food, home cooking. Who doesn't love the holidays?

I've had a few life changing events that involved traveling over seas. 

When I was 13 years old I traveled to Japan as part of an exchange program with my school. It was really exciting to stay with a family for 2 weeks and to go to school with my Japanese "siblings."

When I was 20 years old, I traveled to Cebu, Philippians for a work service trip with my college. It was a life changing experience that really changed me. Perhaps it is the trip that gives the "whys" as to why I am so passionate about so many different things today particularly involving quality of life and the diet. I had no running water for 2 weeks (only bucket showers where I would pump my own water for 1 bucket per shower), I slept on concrete (with a sleeping bag), I had no air conditioning (in May) and food portions were very small. 

I am so grateful that my parents gave me two international trips when I was growing up because when I met Karel, I felt like it was meant to be that I was lucky enough to spend the rest of my life with someone who grew up outside of the US. Although I love being an American, I really love learning about the lifestyles in other countries. 

Not only did Karel educate me on the "real" beers in Europe but I learned so much in our recent Czech Republic trip in May. This trip was not so much a life changer as it was a life reinforcer. I was able to live the life I aspire to live in the US and while in Czech Republic, I found it so easy. Real food, lots of walking and a lifestyle that is a bit slower and more focused on quality of life. Sure, there are some downsides (and why Karel left Czech so he could live the American Dream) of living in another country but I really felt at home in Czech. 

Beautiful views. 

Fresh bread...daily. 

Riding our bikes to Austria (Ok, it's only 10K away from Karel's hometown of Znojmo but it sounds so much more impressive to say we rode from Czech to Austria)

Touring Prague. 

I'm sure you noticed but around this time of the year, the grocery stores are packed. There's a lot of food shopping for all the holidays eats on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas (and any other celebrated winter holiday). 

Grocery shopping is a bi or tri-weekly occurrence for me for I shop for my staple foods but there's a lot of quick trips for produce. Here recently, the packed grocery store and aisles full of people have reminded me  a lot of our trip to Czech. 
Everyday in Czech the locals shop for fresh bread. They also shop at local farmers markets (in season) and do a lot of canning for the winter. There's processed food but for Karel's parents and most of his town, meals are homemade. There was not one fast food place in his hometown and most of the town closes around 5 so that people can get ready for dinner. Lunch is a large meal and there is also a lunch break for the town where most of the town shuts down. 
At the ice cream shops - there is no inside seating. You get your ice cream cone and walk around.
However, in the coffee shops, you do not get a cup of coffee for the go in a paper cup. 

Coffee is consumed slowly, in a small espresso cup often alongside a danish that is appreciated and not seen as "bad" food. 

This is the time of the year that I love for our society. Recipes are flooding the kitchen counter, ingredients are being combined and the smells in the oven make every tummy sing for joy. 
Whereas most people see this as a time of overindulgence's or fatty and high calorie meals when it comes to holiday eating, I see, think and taste real food.

I see families cooking, getting together to eat at a set table and to use silverware. They are not scarfing down a meal in 5 minutes to make a deadline or to get to the next meeting. They are not eating mindlessly in front of a computer, phone or TV or behind the steering wheel in a car. 
Although there may be a processed food option or two, the majority of our holiday meals are based on traditions, secret ingredients and memories that last a lifetime. 

 Would it be too much to ask for our society to emphasize home cooking, 365 days a year?

How about a few days per week?

Now, I am not saying that you have to break out the fine china every evening and never watch TV or sit on the couch when you eat. Also, I don't believe in a 100% real food diet (I've discussed before about choosing fortified food for the right reasons). 

I think the best place to start appreciating real food and home cooking is just that - appreciate what you choose to put into your body. And while that can  be done anytime, the holidays are a great place to start. 

I feel our society struggles the most with having a healthy relationship with food and it is exacerbated around the holidays. 
For many, eating is a time of guilt, restriction or obsession.
For others, there is absolutely no enjoyment for eating - often it is simply a stressful or boring time. 

It's as if for some people, with every bite there's little enjoyment for food for fuel and for nourishment but instead a mixture thoughts of body bashing, enjoying food, calculating calories, factoring a workout (or not) with food amounts and types, etc. 
Instead of feeling great after a meal, there's precise quick measures as to how to try to take back the "damage" that was done.
And for others, the diet is restricted to the point that food doesn't enhance life but instead controls life. 

Although it does take a little more time, planning and dedication, think about how great it feels to enjoy a meal that is cooked slowly and prepared with love. 

Enjoy this time with your friends and family (furry ones included) and be sure to thank your awesome body for another year of an awesome life. 

Happy Holidays!!


Physiological adaptations to altitude: train smart

I remember my very first destination bike ride - beautiful Lake Tahoe in September of 2006. This was a very exciting opportunity for me to ride my bike somewhere new and to experience how much I love having gears. I had my tri bike less than a year but I instantly fell in love with climbing. Oh, this trip was also extra special because my "boyfriend" Karel (who I had been dating for less than 5 months) joined me for our first trip together. 

I guess if any guy would voluntarily ride his bike around Lake Tahoe with me for "fun", he would be a keeper. Lucky me!

As much as I love traveling to race and racing to travel, it's important that when I pick my races, I understand the variables that can have a positive and negative impact in my racing experience. I put a lot of time, effort and money into my race day planning and training so it is important to me that I am able to do my best on race day by controlling my variables. Because my best distance is the Ironman, I realize that spending so much time and effort to prepare my body physically for 140.6 miles is hard enough. Add in conditions that I can not properly physically prepare for and that becomes an entire different scenario. 

Although some athletes may be fine to race in an environment that has elements that are new to the body on race day, it is important prior to selecting races (or if you have them picked, to adjust race day plan properly) to address any limiters that could or may affect your race day experience. Although I live in Florida, my body loves to climb. I do not train on any hills but I know how to simulate race day conditions with my power meter to help me pace in different intervals which could resemble race day. As for racing in the mountains......not likely as I live at sea level in Florida. 

As for altitude, perhaps there may be a day when I will do a race out West in the mountains but for now, I love to race and I know my body will become compromised the higher and higher I go above sea level (especially compared to the athletes who I am competing against - who can live and train at higher altitudes than myself). This is why it is really important for athletes to properly pick races that suitable for successful race day experiences (weather considered as well). There's nothing wrong with a bucket list race but be sure to consider the physical, financial, time and mental investment you are making for your "destination" race and if are able to put all that hard work to the test on race day. 

In the Fall 2013 (vol 32, No 4) issue of SCAN there was a great article discussing endurance athletes who train at altitude. We have all heard "train low, live high" to maximize performance but there are a few things to pay attention to with altitude training. Whether you are choosing to train at altitude specifically for physiological purposes or traveling for vacation and hope to maintain your fitness/training routine, here are a few tips from the newsletter (pg 18): 

-Iron - make sure iron stores are adequate by being testing for serum ferritin before going to altitude. Ferritin concentrations below 20 ng/mL to 30 ng/mL suggest a suboptimal iron status that might not support blood based adaptations to moderate altitude. In some countries, such as Australia, endurance athletes with low serum ferritin are encouraged to take an iron supplement daily for 2-4 weeks before going to altitude. 

-Illness - start the trip when you are healthy; avoid the trip if you are sick. An athlete who feels unwell does not need any additional stress relating to the dry air and hypoxia associated with high altitudes. Instead, the athletes should rest and recover at sea level. 

-Inflammation - Research examining the efficacy of EPO (erythropoietin), a hormone that controls new red blood cell formation, in sick people demonstrates that inflammation reduces the red blood cell response to EPO. Because EPO is a cytokin (a signaling compound involved in the immune response), it is possible that other cytokines involved in inflammation also interfere with red blood cell production. That could mean reduced ability to transport oxygen from the blood into the working muscles - and that means early fatigue.
-Intensity - Athletes should avoid doing high-intensity exercise at altitude for a while. Although they may be excited to start altitude training, many athletes overdo it during the first 3-7 days. They then struggle to do high-quality workouts during the middle of the camp-or even worse, they become sick. Allowing the body a few days to get familiarized with altitude is a wise plan.  

-Intake of Energy - Eat enough: no dieting is allowed at altitude because the body needs energy to make red blood cells. although it may be easier to lose weight at altitude (due to a lack of appetite), the better time to lose weight is during the off-season. 

-Investment and interest - Altitude training camps can be extremely motivating and exciting. Athletes want to use this unique environment to build hope and optimism for upcoming competitions. 

Since I won't be racing swim, bike, run in the mountains anytime soon, I think I will stick with the snow sports when I have the opportunity to enjoy a snowy, amazing mountain view.
(picture from Oakley Women product testing trip in Utah)