Essential Sports Nutrition


Athletes and body image - your body deserves fuel

Many athletes feel personal struggles with body image. Eating disorders and disordered eating habits are evident in athletes in all sports (and in non-athletes) and in all ages but specifically in sports where leanness associates with an improvement in performance (lighter = better). 

It's extremely upsetting to hear of nutrition "experts" advising athletes to restrict food around workouts and to intentionally not fuel or hydrate during workouts as a way to improve performance or to lose weight. 

Due to a society that has a poor relationship with food and overemphasizes leanness as the 'ideal' image for athletes, more and more athletes are becoming more and more dissatisfied with their bodies. 

Athletes may experience strong feelings before, during and after workouts as if they do not have "an athlete's body" and ultimately underfuel in an effort to lose weight. Rather than fueling for success, good health and a stronger body, athletes chase a body image. Workouts become haphazard as the ultimate goal becomes to train more and to eat less.
Going back to these nutrition "experts" who are anti food, carbs, water and sport nutrition, athletes are now lead to believe that the human body doesn't need fuel to function. 
This thinking is absolutely wrong!!!

The outcomes of an underfueled/undernourished body are not advantageous for it's only a matter of time when an athlete who is restricting food/fuel experiences serious health and performance detriments. 

If you have been told to not fuel before, during or after a workout OR you feel you are chronically undernourished OR you are occasionally severely restricting your food/sport nutrition intake in an effort to lose weight in order to become faster/stronger/leanner, you may be putting your body at an increased risk for injury, illness, anemia, menstrual/hormonal disturbances,chronic fatigue and reduced longevity in the sport that you love to train for. 

There are a few ways that we can help athletes who struggle with eating and body image. 

First off, we must continue to reduce the stigma of disordered eating/clinical eating disorders in athletes so we can create a positive environment where athletes can feel comfortable admitting there is an issue and ultimately, feel comfortable reaching out and talking with a professional who specializes in disordered eating among athletes. 

Secondly, we must stop the information that is coming from these body-image (not health) obsessed "experts" who are brainwashing athletes to believe that sport nutrition, carbs and even water are "bad" for athletes. Restricting fuel around/during workouts or restricting carbohydrates (your body's prime and preferred energy fuel) is simply dieting for athletes. Dieting and athletes should never be used in the same sentence. 
Diets are very common in our culture but sadly, dieting can increase the risk for an eating disorder. 
For athletes, this can be extremely serious and can cause serious health issues when the body is asked to train/perform without adequate nutrients, fluids or energy. 

Athletes are naturally disciplined, focused, competitive and hard working individuals. Whereas a healthy lifestyle change in the diet can be safe enough to change body composition without compromising energy/performance, athletes often seek the most extreme and significant change possible for the quickest and easiest result. 

Third, every athlete should include a sport RD on his/her athlete-in-training team. Just like you would consider hiring a coach, personal trainer, physical therapist or sport psychologist to help you take fitness to the next level OR to stay consistent and healthy as an athlete, you should find great relief that there is a professional (aka sport dietitian) who can help you understand how to fuel your body in motion so that you do not have to feel anxiety, concern or overwhelmed with all the information that is out there on sport nutrition and healthy eating. 

If you have concerns with your body image, eating or performance as it relates to your weight, seek help now. 
The ultimate goal for any athlete who works with a professional is to optimize health and performance so you can do amazing things with your amazing body in motion. 


Happy National Running Day!!

When I swim, I feel like a kid.
When I bike, I feel strong. 
When I run, I feel free. 

But as Karel use to say in his cycling days "why would you run if you can ride a bike???"

In honor of National Running Day, I wanted to share a few of my personal thoughts on running. 

I like to run but I don't love to run. 
But I LOVE being a triathlete. 

My training plan includes swimming, biking and running so in order to excel in triathlons, I have to put in the time/miles for running just like I do for cycling and swimming. 

Running is hard on the body. It causes injuries, it's easy to overtrain and it can bring on fatigue, sickness and health issues. 
There are so people who love to run and constantly say that it feels amazingly great to run....

But for me, I don't feel comfortable calling myself "a runner".
I am a triathlete. I have great joy for swimming, biking and running off the bike. 

I run because I am a triathlete.
And I'm ok with the fact that I don't love to run. 

Running is not easy on my body. It requires a lot of behind-the-scene work like strength training, mobility work, walking within a run, mental toughness and focus. I have to run frequently to keep my body in good health but not too much (or too little) for my risk of injury increases. 

If you want to be healthy and fit, you do not have to be a runner. You don't have to train for a marathon, you don't have to do an Ironman...heck, you don't even need to race in a 5K. 
There are so many different activities that you can do to stay healthy, fit and happy. 

But let's be honest - running is a great sport and physical activity and it really does make the body feel good when the run is over. You can do it anywhere, you can do it all year long, you can do it with others and you can do it at any age. 

If you are someone who doesn't love to run but you do it anyways, I'll share my secret as to why I keep running. 

Because I feel free. 

When I run and my body is in good health. I have tremendous gratitude for my body. 
Running allows me to explore, be close to nature, to dig deep and to really appreciate how incredible the human body can be in motion. 

Every time I run, I give thanks to my body for not failing me. So many metabolic and physical processes working together to keep me moving forward. I appreciate my lungs, muscles, organs, brain, tissues, tendons and joints with every foot strike. 

In honor of National Running Day, my message to you is to always love what you get to/choose to do with your amazing body. Whatever you reason is as to why you run, just make sure that you find a way, with every workout, to feel great joy, happiness and a since of freedom with your body in motion. 

I hope my body allows me to run for many more decades. When I run, I smile because I feel free. 

I may not love to run, but I sure do like to run.......

off the bike :) 

But I do know someone who LOVES to's my furry 12-lb sidekick Campy!


Beat pre-race anxiety with these 8 tips

I consider myself extremely lucky. 
I just happen to have a sport psychologist/mental skills coach as my best friend.
Gloria and I may live on opposite coasts but our friendship continues to grow year after year. 

Gloria emailed me before my 2nd Ironman World Championship in 2011 and I could feel her positive energy through the internet. From one email she was a stranger who instantly became a close friend. From a simple email, our friendship began.. I knew she had a gift of knowing how to say the right thing at the right time and she has helped me season after season, year after year, in every one of my races. Her mental skills tricks and ability to verbalize what "we" as athletes think when we train and race is incredible.
Ultimately, Gloria knows how to unleash great performances and it all starts with having a stronger, better, healthier mindset when it comes to training. 

Karel and I have coached Gloria and her hubby on and off over the past few years for various races and Gloria even joined me in Kona for the 2013 IM World Championship. 

Gloria and her hubby Ken have a furry child named Frida who looks just like Campy. 
Miss Frida!
Hopefully one day she will be able to meet her boyfriend Campy. 

You can find out more about Gloria on her website but you can also check her out in her recent contribution to Men's Fitness Magazine. 

8 ways to beat pre-race anxiety

In this article, the following topics/tips are discussed:
Just Breathe
Talk to yourself
Trust your training
Own your personal strengths
Embrace your nerves
Know your goal
Focus on what's in front of you
Be realistic 


Another year older...33!!

My annual tradition. Carrot cake on my birthday!

I've never been one to get excited for the New Year like I do for my birthday.

When it comes to birthdays, we celebrate our life. Another year of growing older, wiser, smarter and healthier and another year to add to the list from when we were brought into this world to live our one and only life.  

I find myself doing a lot of reflecting around my birthday as well as goal setting. I am not one for New Year Resolutions or using January 1st as the marker of when in the year I am going to begin to change my life. 

Birthdays are exciting. As Karel wrote in my birthday card yesterday

Birthdays are good for you. Research shows that the people who have the most live the longest!"

My 33rd birthday celebration started on Friday when our friends/athletes Peggy and Anthony drove down from the DC area (with their adorable silver lab Brutus) for two RETUL fits from Karel. Of course, no weekend with us would be complete without local food and some training/physical activity. 

On Friday evening we went to Sidewall Pizza in downtown Traveler's Rest. I highly recommend this pizza joint as the service was great (despite being incredibly busy on a Friday night), the atmosphere was wonderful, they are dog friendly (outside) and the family style seating outside was very inviting. Oh, and the food is amazing!!!
I made my own pizza with fresh mozzarella slices, spinach, mushrooms and pineapple and Karel, Anthony and Peggy got their own pizzas as well. 

We started our meal with the strawberry walnut and blue cheese salad special. One bowl big enough for us all to share. 

Campy and Brutus enjoyed their treats as a few pieces of meat from Karel and Anthony's pizza just accidentally happened to land right in front of their faces. 

By 9pm, we were back home and Brutus and Campy were exhausted from all their fun.

On Saturday morning, Karel took Peggy, Anthony and me on a 80 minute ride and it was fun to show off our country roads. Our ride certainly woke up our legs!!

After the ride, Karel continued on riding for two more hours and Peggy, Anthony and me went for a run. Peggy recently ran a marathon so she only joined us for the first 20 minutes as a shake-out run. My workout called for 1:20-1:45 of EZ running with walk breaks so Anthony joined me for the rest of my run (Peggy took the doggies for a long walk after her run). 

It was great to chat for 12 miles and despite a very hilly course (which is my favorite route where I live), we both felt comfortable and maintained good form throughout. It was a bit hotter than normal here so we refueled our flasks in our hydration belt (Nathan) twice and we made sure to keep up with calories. Despite the slow pace that we wanted to hold, the calories were needed to help the body stay strong and healthy. 
We averaged around 8:25-8:30 for the entire run until the last mile. You know you paced a run well if you can pick it up on the last 1-2 miles.
I kicked it up for 1.3 miles and Anthony was a great pacer and we finished our last mile on gentle rolling hills at 7:43 min/mile.

After we all finished our workout, we had our recovery drinks (Clif Shot Recovery Powder mixed with 1% Organic milk) and then we all cleaned up and had breakfast (which consisted of leftover pizza :)

Karel fit Anthony in the afternoon (Peggy was fit on Friday) and then around 5pm we headed downtown for dinner. 

We ate at Wild Wing Cafe. Although not a local Greenville restaurant, the food is good and it is in a good location just off Main Street so the doggies could relax while we ate. A few rounds of IPAs were consumed by Anthony, Peggy and Karel as well as some winds. When it was time for our entrees, I yummed over this delicious meal from the fiesta menu - veggies, tomato, cheese and smashed avocado. I started my meal with a garden salad. 

After our delicious dinner, we walked all over downtown. We headed toward Falls Park and then made our way to the Westend to Karel's favorite ice cream shop - Blueberry Frog

Peggy spoiled the doggies with their own ice cream treat, complete with a doggy bone inside. Campy and Brutus both shared their dessert. 

On Sunday morning, we said good bye to Anthony, Peggy and Brutus and then the rain came.

My planned birthday ride with Karel was postponed until 11am so we spent the morning watching the Giro cycling tour (last stage) on TV and I studied sport nutrition for my upcoming board certification exam.

Although we were a bit off our normal schedule, the ride was exactly what we needed as it was so great to be out in nature for 2.5 hours. After the ride, I had enough motivation/energy to head to the Furman Pool for a swim but sadly, I made it 3 minutes until I was asked to get out due to lightening. 

And two turtles were saved during our ride. 

Around 6pm, my mom came over and we enjoyed a delicious veggie-packed meal (plus tempeh for me and chicken for my mom and Karel) on the grill.

This was our first time using our new grill, which use to be my dad's.
This was Karel's first time using the grill and he did a great job - minus a few burnt veggies. My dad would have been so proud to see Karel in action. 

After dinner we enjoyed a slice of carrot cake and finished off the night with a very appropriate gift from my mom. 

Cheers to many more years, letting the good times roll!