Essential Sports Nutrition


Trust your eating plan

Far too many times, athletes who want results will try to rush the process of gaining fitness. 
This is not far from the truth when it comes any individual who is seeking a positive (and healthy) change in the body composition. 

As I think about individuals who jump from one diet plan to another looking for the magic fix, there is a tendency to think that one plan will solve everything - health issues, bloating, gas, inflammation, overeating, cravings, etc. Most magazines, diet plans and health-focused commercials want you to believe that you need fixing - you are broken, failing or desperate for change. 

Thus, by changing this, eating that and eliminating these foods, you will feel better, be better and look better.

Often times, athletes get wrapped-up into this diet-mentality thinking and stop seeing food for fuel but instead, see food as good/bad for weight loss. Despite the massive amount of calories we burn each day/week through structured training, athletes are being brainwashed to believe that the same diet plan that is marketed toward someone who is in need of a healthier or more active lifestyle, will work for our extremely active lifestyle. 

Well guess what. 

Lean people still get bloated and have gas.
Toned and fit individuals still get inflammation and feel sore after workouts.
A low body fat percentage does not make you immune to disease, sickness or injury.
And lastly, regardless how much you weigh or how much body fat you have, if you have a body and have crossed a finish line, no one can take your athlete title away from you. 

Everyone has an off-day. 

We all have a day when the body just feels blah or clothes feel a little tighter than the day before. But guess what, your personality and great characteristics do not change just because you feel a little different in your skin. You are still a hard-working, passionate, go-getting, loving type of person.

 You are not defined by what size clothes you wear, how little jiggle is in your wiggle and certainly, the scale is not designed to run or ruin your day. So if you can carry-on with your day despite feeling a little off one day, you may find that your individual eating plan is perfect just for you because no matter what plan you think you need to follow, everyone has an off-day. 

You wouldn't stop working out just because you feel tired during one workout, would you?
How many times have you felt blah before a workout but made yourself carry-on and ended up feeling great afterward?

Come to terms that you have to trust your plan, your journey, your path of improvement when you want to make a change for the better. 

Changing your nutrition habits is all about discovering what works best for you. A sensible plan is not a cleanse, fast or detox and it does not (absolutely does not) involve eliminating major food groups. Don't ever let someone tell you that you one food or food group is off-limit, bad or poison. 

Trust a plan that will provide you with realistic changes. A good eating plan will help you see food differently. See the good in food and how it enhance your life. 
Your eating plan should enhance your quality of life. If you don't feel good inside with your diet or you feel controlled by food (or food restriction), your plan is not designed for you. 

Recognize that when you follow a plan - whether it is designed just for you or a mass-marketed plan - you are going to have to make some changes. And with these changes, you are also going to experience several mind games in your journey. 

Doubt, fear, worry, second-guessing, comparison.

But with no deadline in place in your eating plan, you must learn to quite those thoughts. Just like a new training plan, if you don't trust your plan, you will never trust that the hard work you are putting in will pay off. 

And with eating, don't let one experience, one day, one occasion force you to think that your plan is not working. You must give it time and not always will it feel easy and comfortable at the beginning. 

Most people deviate from a nutrition plan when they are vulnerable to their body or life feels out of balance. 
This can go both ways. 

Someone who has been restricting food for a while and/or overexercising to control body composition or food choices may feel extreme anxiety over what may happen when eating habits change and exercise volume is decreased. Despite the necessity to put on weight and change the exercise or eating regime in order to improve health and/or performance, there are thoughts as to how uncomfortable it may feel to experience a change in the body or diet. 

And the other end of the spectrum. 

If you feel a little bloated one day or look in the mirror (or comparing to someone else) and feel that the body is not changing fast enough to drop weight, you may lose faith in the plan and decide it's just not worth continuing. 

Diet plans make you believe that you can't figure out your own style of eating on your own. 

If you have an unhealthy relationship with food and your body, you may find comfort in having a good/bad food list (whether you created it on your own or per a book/website). 
Whereas there may be some good in your eating plan, you should be putting your energy into developing a healthy relationship with food and that means trusting your own plan of mindful eating and fueling your active body. 

Do's and don'ts and many non-negotiable's. 

These are key components of diet plans or disordered eating habits. 
Absolutely do not eat this, avoid that and don't even think about that. Or else.

This all or nothing mentality can wear heavily on your mind and body and it is not a plan that you want to put all your trust into. 

Discover food freedom in your eating plan. Learn to fall in love with the process and trust your eating plan that works for you and your lifestyle. 

Positive results are in your near future, just don't give up. 

And for all you athletes reading this post, weight loss (or reaching your "racing weight")  may change your body composition and it may make you more efficient so you feel lighter when you run and bike as you will be carrying less body weight.

But weight loss doesn't bring on significant training adaptations. Losing weight through food restriction or over-exercising with an undernourished/under-fueled body, doesn't make you more powerful, faster or stronger and it certainly does not improve your endurance and lactate threshold nor does it create a positive relationship with food and the body. 

If you want training adaptations and a strong and fit body, you have to work for what you want and the only want you can get to where you want to be is following a well-designed plan with your well-fueled body. 


Jacksonville trip - recap

We spent 6 years living in Jacksonville, FL, prior to moving to Greenville, SC in May. Karel and I met in Clearwater where we lived for about 2 years before moving to Jax.
Karel was the general manager of the Trek Bicycle store in Jax (reason we moved there) and we have lots of friends/training partners/athletes in Jax so we still consider it a "home" for us. 

Karel owns the RETUL fitting system and is a professional bike fitter so almost every month since we moved, he has traveled back to Jax to do RETUL bike fits at Open Road Bicycles (Beach location). 

Every now and then, Campy let's us know that he needs a road trip so last week, I joined Karel for 4 packed days of RETUL fits. 

Before our trip, I gave a presentation on to a group of doctors and residents at Greenville Health System Memorial hospital. I then went to the Y for a strength/run workout and then it was time to hit the road for our 6 hour drive down south. 

I had a few "Campy approved" meals and snacks for our trip. 

Fruit and chocolate- yummmmm. This may be my new favorite sea salt chocolate. 

My little hot Italian and I make sure Karel is well-fed as he is on his feet, performing fit after fit for up to 10 hours a day...for 4 days straight!

Exercise does a body good so although we don't typical adhere to a "training" schedule when we travel for work purposes, it was still nice to get out and swim, bike, run in familiar places. Although we certainly did not expect cold weather but thankfully we brought our winter riding gear just in case. Brrrrrr (but happy to see palm trees again!)

Campy supervised the fits and protected us all from intruders (aka the UPS guy). 

Campy also helped me answer emails. 

You will never find me without snacks as a hungry belly is not a happy belly....especially for an athlete. 

Karel fit Veronica with Veronica's Health Crunch and we received a big box of my FAVORITE crunch. Seriously, it is so good!!!

Campy is NUTS for this crunch! (Just kidding - he'd rather eat chicken). 

On Saturday evening, a group of our friends joined us at Black Finn Ameripub. The food was delish but then again, I ended up with a morning brick and an afternoon swim with my friends so I was ready for some good satisfying food! A salad and flat bread pizza hit the spot. 

And cupcakes from Sweet by Holly hit the spot (Thanks Tricia for the sweet surprise!) PB&J for me, espresso for Karel and a chocolate mega cupcake to share. 

I enjoyed making some Trimarni creations at my friends house...

And yumming over the waffles that Tricia (where we were staying) made for us. Loved dressing the waffle up with syrup, nuts and fruit.

 I got to see my friend Susan who stole Campy from me for a selfie ;) 

And on Monday, it was back to Greenville for another RETUL fit on Wed for our athlete Ginger who was driving through town on vacation. 

As Karel was doing some mechanic work on Ginger's bike, I stole her for a swim at the aquatic center. 

And now it's back to the routine - loving the mountains but missing the palm trees. 

Yep, back to the routine....dreaming of his next road trip. 


I'll have what she's having - the comparison diet/body image struggle

Every now and then I'm approached for an interview. Often times it is for a quote or two in a magazine on the topics of strength training, endurance training, nutrition or fueling. 

However, with specialty areas specific to athletes in the areas of sport nutrition, endurance training/fueling vegetarian diets and developing a healthy relationship with food and the body, I enjoy the occasional opportunity when someone reaches out to me for an interview. 

Recently I was interviewed by an amazing woman, Dr. Brooke. I met Dr. Brooke at the Women's Fitness Summit

Brooke reached out to me as not only an endurance female athlete but also a plant strong vegetarian athlete. 
(If you are new to this blog, I don't endorse vegetarianism but I strongly believe that all athletes should embrace a plant strong diet - that is nourishing and fueling the body off real-food, grown with the help of Mother Earth. I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for almost 23 years for animal reasons).

 I am not one to celebrate "an athlete's body" for what it looks like. I don't find it motivating to just look at an athlete and marvel over his/her body parts and more so, assume she is faster, stronger or fitter (or healthier) than me.  Instead, I like to showcase/see what a healthy, fit and trained body can do. 

On race day or on social media, I don't do the comparison game and look at another athlete's body - her defined core, toned arms or sculpted legs. I have no idea what she has done to achieve that image and body image should not define an athlete's fitness, commitment, discipline or passion for her (or his) sport.

What's the point of having a lean, toned, fit body if you can not do something amazing with those trained/fit body parts? 

There is absolutely no requirement that you have to have defined body parts or a lean body in order to do something amazing with your body. There is no guarantee that by losing x-lbs or getting to x-% body fat that you will get faster, be healthier or reach your athletic dreams. You can lose 10 lbs in an effort to have a flatter core but if you didn't get stronger in the process of losing weight, that flat core will not make performing core exercises any easier - nor will it help you be more powerful in swimming, biking and running. 

When it comes to how I fuel my body, there is certainly a large emphasis on fueling my body in motion. But my food choices come with a package deal - they not only fuel my endurance body but they also nourish my body. There is no reward ritual of eating "bad" foods post workout  nor a guilty experience if I didn't work out for x-hours/miles. Food is a positive thing in my life, regardless if I am an endurance athlete or not. 

Dr. Brooke did an amazing job with her article as she interviewed three different female's who have three different styles of eating. Ultimately, the diet doesn't make the body image.

You must eat for your goals, your lifestyle and your life. Regardless if you are training for a finish line or looking to improve your overall health and reduce risk for disease, don't eat (or not eat) just to look like someone else or to achieve a body image that does not enhance your quality of life. 

*Continue to educate yourself by learning from the pros, but sooner or later you have to get pro at being you. That’s not something any of us are experts in, only you can do that.
*They all have gotten to where they are with a lot of experimenting and patience. They are all in the business of fitness so they aren’t shying away from time in the gym or eating a certain way for the long haul.  For all three of them, this is a lifestyle not a fad diet.