Essential Sports Nutrition


2015 Trimarni kits - the store is OPEN!!!!

After months of imagination, design, formatting and tweaking......
the 2015 Trimarni kits are ready for your awesome body in motion!!

The Trimarni store is now OPEN!!

Karel did an AMAZING job designing the kits and Canari really did an excellent job helping Karel get his vision/design come to life. 
And, we could not be more excited to have the support of some small and large businesses who believe in Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. 

As much as we wish we could offer our kits year-round, we are not in the clothing business so our custom clothing is a once-a-year, one-time deal. 
For the past two years, we have offered our kits to the public (and not just to the Trimarni coaching athletes) and we just love seeing our kits in action on race day, on all bodies, of all fitness levels.

We know that it's easy to not feel in "racing mode" right now and you may unintentionally pass up this offer. But believe us when we say that your race season is right around the corner and you don't want to miss out on the opportunity to race in at least a Trimarni tri top or Trimarni tri-suit this summer! 

Oh, and there is no need to wait until the spring/summer to sport Trimarni gear because we have jerseys, bib shorts and long sleeve jerseys for all of your winter needs.

It is very important that you do not miss this one-time opportunity (yes, only once until 2016!) to order your Trimarni kit item(s). 

The Trimarni store will only be open until Jan 15th. 

Every fitness enthusiast turned athlete has a reason to get started but what keeps you going?  
If you want something in life, you have to be willing to work hard for it. You may call it a dream at first but as long as you don’t give up, you can turn those dreams into a reality!

It’s hard not to be inspired and motivated to workout, after watching the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. As a 3x Ironman World Championship finisher, I know first-hand what it is like to race on the biggest stage of endurance sports. It is an honor and privilege to race among the best athletes in the world and no Ironman distance triathlon should be taken for granted as 140.6 miles is a long way for the body to travel on one day.

But you don't have to be an Ironman athlete to have a goal and to be willing to work hard for that goal. 

The design of the Trimarni kits has been tweaked over the past two years but what remains the same is our message to always dream big and to love your body in motion. The Hawaiian flowers with a tribal look has always been part of the Trimarni kit design but a recent Kona-inspired addition has been added as Marni and Karel gear-up for their first IM World Championship together…can you find it/them?

We are also so proud to have the support of some amazing companies and we are honored to have them featured on the Trimarni kits as they are all passionate about individuals who live a healthy and active lifestyle.

When it comes to our training/racing gear we always choose quality. Therefore, it was an easy selection to choose a company who makes clothing in the USA and offers custom clothing. Canari has helped us over the years and when Karel had a vision for the 2015 kits, Canari was able to turn his idea into a one-of-a-kind design. Karel has been involved in every step of designing our 2013, 2014 and now 2015 kits and we couldn’t be more excited about wearing the final product!

Sizing & Color
The clothing is gender specific. The green is male specific and the pink is female specific. This is the first year that we will be providing gender specific clothing as it is based on our experience in the past when we offered non-gender specific gear. Although some athletes requested it, more females wanted pink than wanted green and same for the males (although Karel proudly rocked his pink kit). You may certainly order a color of the opposite gender but be mindful of the sizing. Because there are guys who can certainly rock the pink and women who feel more comfortable in green, you can also check out our inventory of Trimarni kits to see if we have your color preference/style in stock. We are firm believers that if you love your training or race day kit, you will get so excited to use your body in training and racing!
We strive for athlete customer satisfaction. Because this is a once-a-year, custom order, there is a small chance that we can offer an exchange of a different size. Therefore, if you are unsatisfied with the fit, please let us know and you can return your unused item within 10 days of receiving it, for a full refund.
The Trimarni t-shirts and tanks are available for purchase anytime. 
We also have select items available in our inventory at close-out prices. 

Please allow up to 8 weeks for production/shipping on the 2015 Trimarni kit items. Do not miss your chance to order your Trimarni gear for your upcoming racing season (which will be here before you know it!). Feel free to pass along the Trimarni store page to your active friends and training buddies. The clothing is not limited to Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition athletes.
If you workout, train or race, we would love to see you sport and support Trimarni.
For more info:
Canari sizing
Canari dealer

Feel free to contact us via the contact page for more info if we have not answered your Trimarni kit questions.

2015 Trimarni kit items

Tri/run top (BEST SELLER)

Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey - NEW ITEM

 Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey

Cycling and Triathlon shorts & bib cycling shorts

One-Piece Tri Suits - NEW ITEM

Thank you for supporting and sporting Trimarni!


Smashed apple and cream cheese stuffed pumpkin spiced crepes

Crêpes - very thin pancakes. 

What a perfect post workout meal.  

Depending on the filling, this is a perfect option for athletes/fitness enthusiasts who struggle with overeating/undereating post workout. Crepes are not too heavy or light so it fits the bill when it comes to a perfect carbohydrate-rich meal to go along with your recovery drink (or post-workout protein choice like yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese or lean meat).

Plus, you can make these ahead of time, let them cool and the refrigerate them for easy prep after your workout. 

Although crepes may not be typical in your cooking resume, they are super easy to make. Essentially, they are like thin pancakes, made with a runny/soupy batter. 

Karel is all too familiar with crepes as they are very popular in Europe - much more so than traditional American pancakes. 

During my long run yesterday, I had 10 running miles to create this delicious creation in my head. While running in on and off cold drizzling rain, running up and down the hilly streets in and around downtown Greenville and then finishing with 6 powerful, light on the feet strides up our hill outside our home (with Karel after he finished his 14-mile run), I had a quick epson salt bath and with compression on, it was time to get busy in my kitchen. 

The first step was to make pumpkin pie spice:

This recipe below makes 2 1/3 tbsp.
If you love this spice, double the recipe for ~1/4 cup. 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Mix together the above ingredients.
(if you are a baker, you likely have the following spices in your cabinet. However, not only do these spices come with great health benefits but they add a punch of flavor to any meal. Consider incorporating spices into your favorite meals and snacks. Just keep in mind that most spices go a long way so start with a pinch...unless you love cinnamon like me, then go to town with the shaker!

Now to make the crepes.

CrepesMakes 6-7 large crepes
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1-2 tsp pumpkin spice (you can omit this if you want)
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch or two of salt

1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk until batter is soupy.
2. Heat a large skillet to medium heat (but not too hot) and add a little olive oil or cooking spray for each (side) of the crepes.
3. Use a 1/4 - 1/3 cup (depending on the size of your skillet) to scoop batter on to warm pan. Lift the pan up and gently roll batter into a larger, thin pancake. 
4. Cook for 2 minutes on one side, then flip with spatula and cook other side for 30-60 seconds.
5. Taste your first crepe - add more pumpkin spice to your liking.

And for the filling.

Smashed apple and cream cheese filling

2 apples - pealed and then chopped
2-4 tbsp whipped plain cream cheese

1. Heat chopped apples in microwave bowl for 1 minutes until soft. Mash with a spoon. 
2. Add cream cheese, a drizzle of honey and dash of cinnamon and stir until combined. 
3. Heat in microwave for 10-20 seconds until warm and soft. 
4. Spoon a little of the mixture onto the far end of one crepe and then roll the crepe toward you. 

5. Sprinkle with a little more pumpkin spice on top and enjoy!

Other filling options: 
Raspberry jam and hazelnut spread
Smashed bananas and nut butter
Yogurt and fresh peaches
Smashed sweet potato, honey and chopped walnuts
Greek yogurt and pistachios
Applesauce, cinnamon and honey

Can you make pancakes from this recipe?

A basic pancake recipe will include the following:
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter or oil
1 large egg

So just omit the water from the crepes and add the baking powder, sugar and butter/oil and you will be all set for a delicious pancake meal. 


Homemade butternut squash soup with a kick

I can't believe it. My first homemade butternut squash creation. And it tasted SO good!

Throughout 3.5 hours of riding with Karel this morning (aka suffering with beautiful views), I was thinking about food. This is nothing abnormal for me because most of my delicious creations come to me while training. I was thinking that I just had to do something with the butternut squash that I bought at Trader Joe's a few days ago. I bought the squash with every intention to make butternut squash soup but I was a bit nervous as this soup would require multiple steps and well, I'm kinda a one-skillet (or I love my oven) type of cook.

Karel and I had a lot of work to do this afternoon for Trimarni which kept us super busy but as the day winded down, it was time for workout #2. 

After Karel and I finished our last workout of the day (a 35 minute form focused yet hilly run around downtown Greenville around 5;30pm), it was time. 

Time to get busy in my favorite place - my kitchen!

Although this soup does require a few extra steps, I know that you will absolutely LOVE this soup.
It's gotta a kick if you like that style of food but you can certainly remove the pepper to take it down a notch. 

Looking forward to my run and swim tomorrow....I wonder what creation I will dream-up during my workout???

Homemade butternut squash soup 
.....with a kick

1 small butternut squash
Olive oil
1 small Hungarian wax pepper - chopped (remove if you want less spicy)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup low sodium vegetable (vegetarian) stock
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used light, canned)
1-2 tsp tumeric
Cracked pepper and salt - to taste

1. Slice butternut squash in half (long-ways) and scoop out seeds and strings. With skin side down, bake for 40-50 minutes at 375 degrees. (you can do this ahead of time, anytime during the day. You can also cut squash into large chunks and cook in slow cooker by itself for 6 hours or until soft)

2. In medium soup pot on medium heat, sauté onions and pepper until golden brown (be careful if you touch the pepper and then touch your face as it will sting - lesson learned). 

3. With heat on medium, add vegetable stock and stir. Then add in the coconut milk and stir.
4. Scoop out squash and with clean hands, crumble into the stock mixture. Add tumeric.
5. Use a wooden spoon to mix for 2-3 minutes until squash is combined. If your soup looks chunky you can use a potato masher to slowly break up the squash.
Add salt/pepper to taste.
6. After 5-8 minutes of cooking, remove squash mixture from the pot and turn off heat. Pour the squash slowly into a blender. Blend on low speed until smooth (you may need to stop the blender once or twice to mix it up to make sure it is evenly blended).

7. Pour soup from blender back into the pot and then heat once more on low-medium heat for a few minutes until hot or warm (to your liking). Taste once more for any additional salt/pepper.



Holiday eats - Czech style

Another wonderful holiday with my Czech hubby.
Karel has not celebrated Xmas with his family (who all live in Znojmo, Czech Republic) in over 15 years. It means so much to me to make this holiday all about Karel and his family who are not able to be with us in the US. Every year, Karel shares his memories with me and I never get tired of hearing the same stories over and over. I just love being married to a European because his up bringing was very different than mine, as well as his traditions around the holidays. 
This year was extra special because Karel and I welcomed my mom to enjoy our traditional Czech dinner on Dec 24th with us...this was the first time in 8 years that we had someone at our table to enjoy our spread of food with us! 

The traditional Czech Xmas dinner is very simple although each family can certainly add modifications. It is customary to eat this dinner on Christmas eve and after the meal, the Christmas tree is "revealed" with all the lights and ornaments, for the first time for all the children to see. After dinner, presents are opened.
Karel remembers no shortage of cookies on December 24th and 25th so this is something we always look forward to...Karel's mom's homemade cookies!
But sadly, our cookies from Czech have yet to arrive. It's been three weeks since they were shipped from Europe to the USA so hopefully they will be cleared from customs soon. Our Czech xmas is not complete without cookies. 

The first to-do for our Czech xmas dinner was to prepare the Vánočka. I must say, this year was my best attempt yet but I know it is still not as light and fluffy as it should be. One of these years we will hopefully be able to celebrate Xmas with Karel's family so the real pro - Karel's mom - will show me how it's done.
I started making the dough at 6am so that it could rise while we worked out. I enjoy braiding the bread but the best part is smelling the bread as it is baking in the oven. 

We like to eat the bread with butter and jam although it is also fantastic with honey. 

The traditional protein for the Czech Xmas dinner is Carpe. Rybí polévka is the name for fish soup which is traditional as well. Karel uses Tuna and then breads the fish and then fries is on the stove top (pic below). For my protein, I used tempeh and just like Karel's protein, I breaded my tempeh and then cooked it in the oven (tossed in olive oil as well). It was delicious!

Another delicious addition to our Czech meal is Sýrové tyčinky. This would be similar to breadsticks but with caraway seeds. Karel uses croissant roll dough and then rolls it out, slices it into sticks and then sprinkles with caraway seeds before baking. He also adds a little Parmesan cheese. YUM!

And last but absolutely not least is the Czech potato salad. Now, I don't even want you thinking traditional potato salad which, in its simple form is potatoes, eggs and lots of mayo.

The Czech potato salad tastes amazing and makes your tummy feel amazing. It is loaded with root vegetables and it gets its creaminess from a wonderful mixture of ingredients. The only ingredients cooked in this salad are eggs and potatoes.

For this potato salad, Karel shreds celery root, parsnips and carrots and adds in canned peas, chopped onions, pickles and chopped hard boiled eggs. He mixes in chopped potatoes (cooked) and seasons with salt and pepper. He uses a little mayo but it isn't too overpowering.
He makes this on the 23rd because the flavors are much better the next day. 

The final product - my plant strong, traditional Czech dinner.

Campy got "wasted" on fun last night with 4 new "bears" (that's what we call all his toys). 

It didn't take long for the de-stuffing to happen...that's Campy's favorite part. 

After 3 full days of non stop, cold rain, we finally got outside for a workout today!!
Over the Greenville mountains and through the woods, what a beautiful day for a long ride!

We hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. 
Wow, can you believe just one more week until 2015!!!


Happy Holidays!!

Sending our wishes to you for a happy, healthy, fun, safe and memorable holiday season. 

Thank you for your continued Trimarni support!
-Marni, Karel and Campy


The off-season weight debate - lose, maintain, gain?

Over the past few years, I find myself finishing the year, thinking of my year in terms of what I have accomplished as well as reflecting on my current state of health. As I get older, I find myself dreaming bigger, working harder and loving life more and more but I also take note on the things that are working well and what I want to continue to work on in my own personal journey of life.
And I can't achieve anything if I am not healthy.

When it comes to my workout routine and my diet (two of the most common popular New Year Resolutions), I find that for me, I have done so much personal growing when it comes to my workout routine and diet. This did not happen quickly and it wasn't always easy. If the grass looks greener on my side, just keep in mind that it took a lot of watering and experimentation.
So when I think about where I am right now in my life, I feel that I'm in a great place in my life as I feel balanced and my choices (diet/working out) are simply enhancing my lifestyle.

So when it comes to my training routine and improving my physical fitness and my diet, my personal philosophy is to always focus on ways to keep my body in the best health possible so I can reach performance and life goals. I strive to keep my body healthy just like I strive to keep my athletes healthy. It's so important to me that I work hard to be the best endurance triathlete that I can be BUT in a way that does not compromise my health.

 I personally feel that there are symptoms that we all can agree on that are not normal or healthy when it comes to training for an endurance event. Chronic fatigue, disrupted hormones (ex. adrenal fatigue, amenorrhea, low testosterone, thyroid issues), poor bone health, extreme GI issues, inadequate sleep, inadequate fueling, poor nutrient timing and frequent sickness are quite common in endurance sports among endurance athletes. Now this is not to directly blame an endurance athlete that she/he is doing something wrong.  These are just a few of the many issues that endurance athletes experience and this shows how stressful endurance training can be on the human body....especially for age group athletes already who have a lot to balance in a stressful busy life.

 So when I focus on my own health, my own fitness goals, my own training routine, my own diet and my own body composition, everything that I am doing is reflective of my relationship with food and my body. 

There are times throughout the season when my body changes and so does my diet. But my focus is never on a number on a scale....ever. 
I love my body and what it allows me to do and because of that, I find is critical that I don't underfuel, undernourish or overtrain. It's a careful balance to train enough to become resilient to training stress and to prepare for the demands of my upcoming event but not too much that I burn myself out or get injured or sick. And above all, that I also fuel enough and appropriately to support my training load and also eat in a way that keeps my immune system healthy.

A lot to balance, right? 

When I think about my journey as an endurance athlete, I can think of more than a dozen mistakes that I have made over the years. I am not perfect person and never believe I can be perfect or want to be. But in an effort to keep my body in the best health possible, I have learned how to train and fuel smart.

As I approach 2015, I want to share a list of things that I cheerish about my body and health. This list doesn't include my body fat, my body weight or what size clothes I wear but instead, very personal things about myself that I want to focus on each year as I take care of my an endurance athlete. 

So, as I share this list, it is important to understand that we should all have our own lists as to what we consider is important when it comes to our personal style of eating and how we train or workout. Perhaps you may find it important that you have lost a significant amount of weight and have kept it off for a few years or maybe you are training less so that you can spend more time with your family but still work hard enough to reach fitness goals. Or maybe you may feel that it has been life changing to learn that you have a food allergy or a clinical condition and you now recognize what foods you should eat or what supplements you need to take to improve your health. 
What's on your list?
-I have never had a stress fracture or broken bone
-I haven't had a cold or flu since 2007
-It's been over 8 years since I have been on any type of prescription medicine and over a decade or more since being on an anti-biotic
-I get my menstrual cycle regularly, every month, naturally (no pills) for the past 7 years
-I have kept a healthy weight all of my life within 15 lbs
-I have never fasted, cleansed or adhered to any fad diet
-I can take my vegetarian diet anywhere in the world and yum over food and feel satisfied
-I have not a single off-limit food in my diet
-I don't get intense food cravings, super hungry, low blood sugar or feeling of lethargy throughout the day and I don't overeat
-I get great sleep and wake up feeling rested (although Campy sleeps the best in the Trimarni household)
-I recover very quickly from workouts
-My life doesn't revolve around when I eat or what I eat or how much I train
-I have continued to experience gains in fitness, in addition to winning races, by training smarter. I don't feel as if training takes over my life but it is part of my lifestyle. 

Why did I write this list? Because I don't chase a body image in our body obsessed society. I also don't support diet fads. I am a competitive, hard working and very disciplined and motivated athlete who doesn't count weekly hours or miles. 
But I believe we all need a list. 
Why? It keeps you focused on things that are important to you, in YOUR life.

Because throughout the year, ever year, your life will change. And so will your diet.
And as an endurance athlete, so will your body.
At this time of year, you may begin to feel overwhelmed with the lack of structure and drastic decrease in physical activity in the "off-season". When you say goodbye to structure you say goodbye to discipline, and this four- to eight-week lifestyle change (over the holiday season), however temporary, can often be more difficult to accomplish than squeezing in 15-plus hours of training each week.

When you throw the "food freedom" of the off-season into the mix many athletes face an even harder struggle. Let's face it: weight changes during this time are inevitable. To add to the frustration, there are many conflicting theories about how much weight you should gain, or if we should gain any at all. Really, you only have three options: lose, maintain, or gain. 

When I wrote this article for Ironman, I wanted to stress the importance that there is no reason to lump every athlete into one category. When athletes get clumped together, you forget about "the list." When you stop being an individual, you stop focusing on things that are important to you and things that may (or may not) be keeping you in good health or moving you closer to your goals.

So as you think about your list, I hope you enjoy my latest Ironman article: 


Compare less. Be You.

Two weeks ago, Campy and I had a sleepover at my mom's house while Karel was in Jacksonville for RETUL bike fits.
I borrowed my mom's car to go to the Y for a swim on Saturday morning and when I returned home, I learned that while walking Campy, my mom had locked herself out of her rental home on accident.
We finally managed to get inside but throughout a 30-minute freak-out situation, I couldn't help but think about Campy who was really just having the best morning ever.

He got to go for a really long walk that morning, he was able to play outside in the morning and by the time we finally got inside, Campy was exhausted from his morning of fun.
Campy had no idea he was locked out for over an hour because he was just having another great day of life. 
Although I realize that Campy does get a bit stressed out when Karel and I leave him at home, Campy's perspective of life is so different than it is for the rest of us.
Campy doesn't live on a strict time schedule, he isn't worried about what he looks like and he is totally fine with a change in the routine (so long as he is with his mommy and daddy). Campy is so easy and when life gets stressful for us, we always think about Campy's life  and how he makes the most out of every day. 

Although I have no scientific evidence to prove it, I am pretty sure that Campy thinks he has the best life ever. He may not live in the biggest house, ride in the most expensive car, be the biggest dog in the 'hood or eat specialty food but he sure is happy about his life. 

Campy doesn't spend his day of social media comparing himself to others. He doesn't let the lifestyle of someone else be the benchmark for how he needs to live his life.
He doesn't know his ideal weight or what he is suppose to look like because he is just being Campy. He is just being himself.

 Small dog, big personality. We love him just the way he is. 

Comparison can bring feelings of low self confidence, low self worth, depression and anxiety.
As we inch closer to the New Year, I find it important to stress how great it is to be an individual. To be the best you that you can be.

The best you doesn't have to be what you may be comparing yourself to on social media. Social media is a fantastic platform for sharing positive emotions and to feel inspired and motivated but it can also take up a lot of time in your life while wasting a lot of your positive energy, depending who you are comparing yourself to.  
Remember, you always want to surround yourself with people who give you energy, not take it away from you. 

When comparing to others, do you draw much of your attention to what you are not? Do you feel insecure about your body, lifestyle, eating choices or training regime because your life doesn't look like someone else's? 

Every person has a "behind the scenes". Often, you just see clips or perhaps just the final show. The grass may look greener on the other side but you have no idea what it may take to keep the grass looking so perfect all the time. 

As you reflect on 2014 and you dream big for 2015, I encourage you to stop being so hard on yourself if you find that you are always comparing yourself to someone else.

In 20,30 or even 50 years, you want to be able to look back at your life and remember your own personal experiences and accomplishments.

Although it is inspiring and motivating to share success stories with others, do not let the triumphs of someone else trump your achievements.  

I'm sure Campy would agree that life is just too short to worry about what everyone else is doing. It is so much fun to share life with someone else and to celebrate with others but never lose sight of your purpose in life and that is to be the very best you that you can be. 

Campy doesn't know anything about body weight, diets, PR's or money.  Campy is a happiness machine. He is filled with it and loves to give it to us every day.  He has the best life ever and he is just so happy doing the same things every day. But somehow, he makes every day a little more exciting and fun than the last day.

Rather than comparing yourself to someone else, think about your own life. What choices are you making to better yourself? Where were you last year and how has your life changed? Are you moving in the direction of life that you wanted to move in when you found yourself in this exact same spot one year ago?
What habits have you broken and what new choices are you making that are helping you be consistent with your awesome lifestyle?

Have you given thought to the idea that you have accomplished a lot and perhaps done more and have achieved more than a past you?

So, your goal is to be more like Campy.

What makes your tail wag?
What makes you get excited to get out of bed, even though it is just another day? (or is it just another day?)

What makes you so happy about your life and what are you willing to change to help you move closer to your life-long goals?


Fueling the vegetarian endurance athlete - Part 2!

Thank you Girls Gone Strong for letting me share my thoughts on fueling the vegetarian endurance athlete. 

As a 22-year vegetarian and 9x Ironman finisher, I had so much to say on this topic so we decided to make it a two part series and finish with a Q&A on the Girls Gone Strong Facebook page!
To read the articles: Part 1 & Part 2 

Q: On Tuesday, in this article you gave some guidelines for protein, carb, and fat requirements for female endurance athletes. Do the numbers look different for women who mostly strength train, and whose goals are strength-based?  If so, how do they differ? 

A: Thanks for asking The main focus of fueling an endurance athlete is ensuring that glycogen stores are not the limited as we want to keep our bodies energized for the long haul. I am a firm believer that endurance athletes need a healthy amount of fat in the diet to stay satisfied and healthy as well as protein for recovery/repair but the carbohydrates would be on the greater range for endurance athletes compared to strength-focused athletes. There is also a timing issue because endurance athletes need to consider how digestion affects the gut so I encourage athletes to focus on more low fiber energy dense foods around workouts which should be low in fat/protein and fiber. Example, whereas a strength athlete may be fine with eggs and oatmeal before a workout, an endurance athlete may find this too hard on the gut before a long run so she may opt for cream of wheat with a little nut butter and maple syrup.

Q: If you would like to transition to eating more vegetarian meals what would you consider the core staples that can be used to make quick healthy meals and build the right nutrition behaviors for early adopters? Sorry, I know I am not a girl but I know you are the best at building strong healthy bodies!

A: Thanks for the question!  Whenever transitioning to a more plant strong diet we want to make sure a good solid foundation is in place. So if the diet is already rich in fruits, veggies, grains/starches and healthy fats then the modification to take place would be swapping out animal protein for plant strong protein. For example, if a standard lunch is a salad with a chicken wrap we could replace the chicken with any plant protein (ex. beans, lentils, edamame, tofu, tempeh) as an easy swap. If a standard lunch is just a chicken wrap, then my suggestion would be to get this meal more plant strong by adding some type of veggie component to this meal (salad or stir fry or raw veg) as a starter and then once that habit is in place, swap out the protein option.

Q: For a female athlete (or family) who is looking at having protein strong plant based meals. What would you suggest as an appropriate equivalent of protein in non animal protein sources

 A; In reference to the guidelines in the article (~1.3-1.8g/kg body weight of protein per day) this would be a nice starting point for total protein. I recommend to break up protein consumption per meal, around 20-30g is a nice range. 1 ounce of animal protein = ~7g of protein as a guideline so to swap out 4 ounces of chicken (28g of protein) this would look like 1/2 cup lentils, 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup cooked tempeh for around 29g of plant strong protein.

Q: A question we get a lot is whether or not endurance athletes need to strength train? Is it an important part of their overall program?  Where does it fit in? How often? What kinds? Does it ever take priority over endurance training?  How does this differ between in-season, post-season, off-season, and pre-season?

A: I actually went into this in great detail at the The Women's Fitness Summit because I think many endurance athletes do not understand the importance of strength training OR they don't make time for it. I am a firm believer that strength training needs to be part of an endurance athletes training plan but it must be periodized with the season plan. For my athletes/myself, I emphasize foundation building first to work on good motor patterns and mobility. Pretty much breaking down sport-specific movements and refining the movements. We take about 6-8 weeks in this phase while the cardio is focused more on strength (ex. using bands/buoys and paddles in the pool, heavy gear and climbing sets on the bike and slow form focused running with a few pick ups at the end of the workout). The next phase I transition my athletes to is more complex and dynamic training. Plyometrics should come to mind. Whereas the intensity and volume of the cardio training will increase a bit, the body is in a good place to accept this added stress. The goal for cardio is to keep the hard workouts hard and easy workouts easy and to plug in the dynamic strength movements that will yield favorable results to swim, bike run fitness. We call this the build phase and this will take us to the peaking phase of the season for the first key race of the year. Around 4-6 weeks before this race, the frequency of the strength increases but it is still good to keep the body primed for power in the gym once a week and then the other cardio workouts take priority as the focus is race specific workouts. There is always a continued focus on glute, hip and core/lower back strength to ensure that this is never a limiter. The #1 goal of strength training for endurance athletes is that the strength should make the athlete better at the sport she is training for. So strength training should not be designed to get an athlete strong just to be strong but to be strong, fast and powerful at her sport.
A great book for triathletes to better understand a quality approach to training alongside focusing on the strength and recovery component is from Matt Dixon with Purplepatch fitness - The Well Built Triathlete. 

Q: I'm more of a paleo eater now, but my doctor suggested vegetarian for my PMS/PMDD symptoms. Have you seen any evidence to support this or would high protein be better?
Thanks for asking Katrina Skurka Howard - I personally do not advocate a specific diet for athletes as I strive to encourage variety and balance in the diet and no food rules. But when it comes to PMS symptoms, it is important that female athletes understand how their menstrual cycle is affected (or may affect) training and fueling. Stacy Sims discussing this topic in great detail but to help manage these symptoms, I don't feel a specific diet will alleviate these issues but instead to focus on your own individual needs. You may want to start with a lab test to see your vitamin D and ferritin levels which can affect PMS symptoms if inadequate or deficient. For women who are not on the pill or other contraceptive and have a natural menstrual cycle, metabolism will be affected by the different phases (follicular and luteal) but I personally am opposed to any restrictive style of eating that eliminates major food groups. I hope this helps a little. I feel you on the symptoms, I have had my menstrual cycle naturally for the past 7 years every month so I am no stranger to these symptoms  
This is a fantastic reference from Stacy Sims.

Q: As a female endurance athlete how would you suggest balancing the nutritional needs of sport with the desire to lose weight?

A:  This is always a tough question because we want the body to be in a healthy place to tolerate the demands of training but we do not want to underfuel in an effort to lose weight. I think there are many approaches to this but it certainly can be done in a healthy way and depends on where the individual is with her relationship with food and the body. I think the focus needs to be on supporting the workout as many athletes underfuel around the workouts and end up overeating later in the day. As an athlete, making the effort to understand how to eat before, during and after workouts will help take training to the next level. I think another common issue is athletes undereating during the day which affects metabolism. Skipping snacks, not enough adequate carbs, skimping on calories/fat, etc. We need to eat enough to support the demands of training so planning out the day before it happens can be an easy way to see what the day will look like in the most balanced way possible with healthy and satisfying meals and snacks. Lastly, the evenings can be a time of overinduging or overeating so I encourage athletes to not beat themselves up if this happens in the evening but to identify any triggers during the day that may be tweaked to ensure a good balanced dinner in the evening and an early bedtime without excessive snacking. If all of this takes place and an athlete still finds it hard to lose weight, then additional modifications can be made in training to make sure that the workout routine is not too stressful for the body.


12 reasons why you shouldn't diet

Have you found yourself (for non clinical reasons) recently eliminating food sources or food groups titled dairy, sugar, grains, gluten, refined foods, carbs or un-natural in an effort to eat more “clean” or because those foods are bad?
It’s ok to have good intentions with diet changes as you want to better understand what foods work best for your body in motion but extreme dietary shifts in eating patterns are one of the most common red flag signs that you may be developing (or furthering) your unhealthy relationship with food and your body.

Sure, improvements in any area of life require attention and perhaps some degree of obsession but when your eating/food thoughts and habits are all-consuming and have taken over your life, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship with food.

If you are a performance-driven athlete, keep in mind that rule-based eating does not take into account your personal needs, your performance goals, your periodized training plan, your lifestyle and your health goals. 

In other words, diets don't work. 

As an athlete, it’s very easy to critique your body and blame food, especially when you feel vulnerable or emotional or have a bad day or workout.
Fat, ugly, heavy, disgusting, off limit, bad, guilty, remorse, hate. 

Consider all the many thoughts that go through your head in regard to food and your body and now consider how much of your day you are spending thinking about food and your body?  

If you have an unhealthy relationship with food and your body, a diet won't solve underlying issues. Believe it or not, but improving your relationship with food and the body can actually help you improve your health, improve performance and help you reach body composition goals!

When you do not perform well, compare yourself to others, are unable to meet your prescribed pace expectations or feel overwhelmed with the training/life balance, you may find yourself taking out your frustrations on your body and seeking a dietary quick-fix to make the situation better.

It seems crazy, right? 
Focusing all your attention on what not to eat? Living life thinking about what you can't eat, what you shouldn't eat, what you regret eating.....I hope you agree with me that that is absolutely no way to live!

It is completely normal to want a healthier lifestyle, improved performance (speaking to the athletes) and a body composition that makes you feel great but you must also be realistic with the goals that you have and most of all, how you go about achieving them. 

Do I really need to explain why diets don't work?
Well, to make sure that you do not consider a diet plan come the New Year (or within the next 13 days), I want you to stop the diet mentality.
Here are 12 very good reasons why a diet is not the route you want to take when learning how to have a healthier relationship with food and the body. 

12 reasons why you shouldn't diet! 

1. Your body deserves food. A varied diet provides your body with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
2. Food is not bad. It is not out to harm you. Your food choices should make you feel good while you eat and even better after you eat. 
3. Being hungry is no fun. Your day should not revolve around when you get to eat and how much you are allowed to eat. Honor your biological hunger and fuel for performance. See food for nutritional value. 
4. Not being able to enjoy eating around others is no fun. Eating around others is special and an opportunity to connect. 
5. If the methods you have to take to lose weight are extreme, there is another way to be healthier/change body composition but it probably won't be as quick and you need to be ok with that. 
6. Your body doesn't suck. It is actually quite awesome. Just look at how old you are and how much you have accomplished in life. 
7. You can not count calories and measure food for the rest of your life. You must learn how to eat so that you can be anywhere in the world, at any age and in any situation and still feel great about the food you put into your body. 
8. Special occasions will always have food and you deserve to enjoy those foods on special occasions. Would you rather eat birthday cake on a Friday because it was on sale at the grocery store or enjoy a slice of cake when celebrating another year of life.  
9. You need to be a good role model for your kids or friends. A healthy relationship with food is just as contagious as an unhealthy relationship with food. 
10. Food is your medicine. Make time for healthy eating because a healthy body can do amazing things in this world. Food should enhance your life and fuel your lifestyle. 

Got a nutrition question?
Mark your calendars for tomorrow, Friday December 19th when I will be hosting a LIVE Q&A on the 
Girls Gone Strong Facebook page from 11:30-12:30EST to answer any questions you might have regarding fueling the plant strong athlete (omnivores are welcome too!!)


Fueling the Vegetarian Endurance Athlete

Fueled by plants

With so much information on healthy eating, sport nutrition and dieting, I really enjoy writing about topics that I know a lot about from first-hand experience.

When Girls Gone Strong approached me to write an article about fueling the vegetarian endurance athlete, I was super excited about the opportunity to introduce others to my plant strong lifestyle. 

As a 22-year vegetarian and 9x Ironman finisher, I think it is safe to say that my diet is not a temporary fad and perhaps I know a thing or two about fueling the plant-strong athlete. 

I hope you find that my article is an informative way to help you understand how to eat to be a healthy endurance athlete and how to do so, if you choose vegetarianism.

This article is not persuading you to become a vegetarian athlete to boost performance, nor is it telling you that your health and performance will automatically improve should you choose to remove meat from your diet.

All endurance athletes must understand the importance of consuming a balanced, wholesome diet and this article will clear up any confusion you may have in regard to how to nourish your body as you fuel for performance.

Despite naysayers believing that endurance athletes must eat meat to be a healthy and strong endurance athlete, there is no shortage of high level athletes, achieving great endurance accomplishments, by thriving off a plant strong diet.

There are many apprehensions by athletes, coaches, and outsiders who question the athletic potential (or lack thereof) of vegetarian endurance athletes.
But remember, it is within a restrictive diet that there will always be concerns for nutritional deficiencies.  It would appear that vegetarians are undoubtedly lacking key nutrients by not eating animal protein but, let’s not pick too hard on vegetarians. Remember that an under-fueled and undernourished athlete will always under-perform.
There are often concerns of anemia or iron deficiency, inadequate consumption of quality dietary protein, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and B12 and an alleged inability to eat “enough” calories/energy from plants.

But vegetarian or not, a poorly planned or restrictive diet with an extreme exercise routine is not a winning combination. 

A deficiency in iron and B12 isn’t limited to the vegetarians. 

So, even for the omnivorous endurance athlete reading this article, hopefully you can use the following information to fill in any nutritional gaps that may be keeping you from reaching your full fitness potential.

If you find that this article was a beneficial read, please share with a friend/training partner/group. Help me spread the message about the importance of eating for fuel and for health. 

Also, be sure to mark your calendars for Friday December 19th when I will be hosting a LIVE Q&A on the Girls Gone Strong Facebook page from 11:30-12:30EST to answer any questions you might have! 

A big thank you to Girls Gone Strong for asking me to contribute to this fabulous organization of motivating, inspiring and hard working female athletes and fitness enthusiasts!