Essential Sports Nutrition


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?