Board Certified Sport Dietitian, Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, 23-year Vegetarian, Writer/Speaker, 11x Ironman finisher including 4x IM Kona finisher, Doggy-mommy, Wife to an amazing Czech cyclist turned Ironman Kona finisher, Triathlon Coach.
Some people exercise and some people train. Either way - moving your body is great for the mind, body and soul. Regardless if you are exercising to improve your health or training to improve fitness for an upcoming event, you know that if you eat better, you will perform better.
For athletes, when you fuel your body optimally you have more energy, your fitness improves, you are happier, you think better, you delay fatigue, you sleep better and you have a more positive outlook on life.
I hope that every athlete and fitness enthusiast is on a mission to be at peace with food. Food should enhance your life and should energize your body and mind.
I encourage you to think about your current eating and fueling habits to decide if what you are doing right now is working for you.
It's important to have a great plan for good nutrition because good nutrition habits bring great workouts. And when you are consistent with your training, you can look forward to great race day performances.
Sadly, for many athletes, food is not for energy. It's the enemy.
Are you habitually using food for reward (when exhausted, you completed a hard or long workout) or punishment (you feel fat, you hate your body, you had a bad workout)? Is food the awful thing in your life that keeps you from being happy? Do you live in constant fear about gaining weight or becoming fat? Do you wish there was a way to stop your chaotic eating patterns and body dissatisfaction?
Do you find yourself unable to cope with day-to-day responsibilities and stressors and the only way to feel in control is to not eat, binge eat or excessively workout?
Are you constantly preoccupied with food?
Are you letting your desire to be thinner override practical eating habits and behaviors?
Are you pushing people out of your life so that you can maintain a strict eating and exercise routine?
If you are starving/restricting your body from key nutrients and energy, especially around and during workouts, you are moving further and further away from achieving attainable performance goals and you are slowly deteriorating your health.
Clearly exercise is a great thing and for athletes we must train a lot in order to adapt to training stress. But a lot can be defined in many ways. If you feel irritable, guilty, anxious or upset if you miss a workout or do not complete your entire workout and feel depressed and are worried about gaining weight (or not losing weight), you may find yourself with little energy for the rest of your life because you are addicted to exercise.
As athletes, we must be able to turn on and off our commitment switch. That means installing great lifestyle habits to ensure that our workouts and eating habits have positive outcomes.
If you find your training excessively to burn calories or in an effort to experience an emotional high that you may think you are missing from your ever day life, ask yourself how you can achieve a more balanced life. Address your priorities in life and bring good intentions to your workouts.
While there is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, coaxing yourself to get through a workout with the anticipation of guilt-free unhealthy or excessive eating may create a dysfunctional relationship with food.
If you are intentionally restricting calories before or during long workouts so you can "reward" yourself with "off-limit" food or food with little to no nutritional value, this will not only increase cravings for unhealthy foods but this habit undermines the importance of developing appropriate fueling and hydrating habits around/during workouts.
If your daily diet is so unappealing, boring or awful that you feel the need to "cheat" with your diet or workout for hours in order to remove the guilt of eating something "bad", you are creating an unhealthy relationship with food and the body. Eventually, you are going to find it difficult to improve performance and/or meet healthy body composition goals.
Restricting food or calories or excessively exercise, all in attempt to improve performance or to change body image is no way to live your life.
There are many healthy strategies to achieving your health, body and performance goals and those practical strategies won't impair performance or destroy your health.
Thinner doesn't mean happier. Leaner doesn't mean faster. Eating doesn't mean cheating.
Make peace with food. Don't bash your body for what is it not. Love your body for what it allows you to do.
My educational journey to today has been a long one so I thought I would share it with you today.
2000-2001 After graduating from Paul Laurence Dumber High School in 2000, I went to IUP in Indiana, Pennsylvania for my freshman year. I continued competitive swimming at this Div II University, specializing in 100 butterfly, 200 IM and 200 butterfly. I was swimming more yards than ever before and we had swim meets almost every weekend during peak season. I started my educational journey focused on medicine, wanting to be some kind of doctor. I was having a hard time balancing school with swimming as swimming was taking a big toll on my life and I was struggling to obtain the education that I wanted. Plus, I missed my family and friends back in KY.
2001-2004 I transferred back home (Lexington, KY) and went to Transylvania University - just down the road from UK. Transy (as it's known) was perfect for me as it was a small liberal arts school with an emphasis on writing, with a great student to teacher ratio and just 20 minutes from my home. I swam competitively at Transy for the next 3 years. Transy was NAIA turning Div III. For my first year at Transy (Sophomore year) I continued to focus on chemistry as my major. As much as I loved science, I didn't find myself truly passionate with this educational decision. Sometime near the end of my Sophomore year, I transferred majors to Exercise Science. I had the most amazing mentor Dr. Brown (and one of my teachers) to help guide me in a new educational direction. I absolutely loved every class that I took as I found myself eager to learn more and more and more. In my Junior year, I minored in psychology as I loved learning about the mind and how it affects exercise performance. By the end of the Junior year, I was focused on being a strength and conditioning coach and I even interned with the UK basketball team and cheerleader team. I thought it was so cool to write strength programs for athletes who were almost double my height! As my on and off back issues continued (swimmer problems) from so much butterfly, I switched to 100 breastroke to give my back a break. I found myself improving a lot with my swimming from 2001-2003 but by my senior year, I was a bit burnt out from swimming so I thought it would be fun to try something completely different - cross country running. I joined the cross country team my senior year and trained and raced from the late summer until fall during my senior year. Well, I sure did miss the water so my burn out didn't last long as I was finishing my last year of competitive swimming my senior year of college.
2004-2005 During my senior year, I applied to several Master programs to continue my education in strength and conditioning. I figured if I was going to continue with higher education, I would go somewhere warm and sunny....so I choose FLORIDA! I was accepted into FAU (Florida Atlantic University) on the Davie Campus and received a stipend to be a graduate assistance - collecting research, assisting in lab studies, teaching undergrad classes, etc. Without knowing anyone in FL, my parents helped me move and I was starting a new life, in a new state. I forgot to add that in the summer of my junior and senior year, I participated in two triathlons. A sprint and Olympic distance, respectively. I actually received my first bike (A Giant hybrid - with a kickstand) the week of the sprint triathlon. My dad went with me to the race (I can't remember where but I still have the t-shirt!) and I won my age-group...At the age of 21, I was the only one it it (18-24). Then in the Olympic distance, I think I won my age group again (not for sure). Needless to say, I had quite the advantage after swimming competitively for the past 10+ years. Graduate school was extremely challenging. It was my entire life, all day, ever day. It was stressful and overwhelming but I learned a lot. Many of my teachers were involved with the International Society of Sport Nutrition and I was involved with a lot of research studies (the behind the scenes stuff like pricking fingers, underwater weighing, doing pulmonary functioning tests, taking or conducting other performance tests). My professors focused their research on creatine and beta-alanine so I was learning a lot about supplements. As a former water aerobics, personal trainer, spin instructor, core instructor - you name it, I also taught undergrad classes at FAU on the Boca Campus. (I actually fell in love with FAU as Transy would go there for winter training - "hell week"). Although I was extremely busy while in graduate school, something was missing in my life. I missed training. I was staying active exercising and taking aerobic and spin classes at 24 hour fitness and swimming several times a week but I really wanted to train for an event. I missed competition and the student athlete in me didn't feel balanced without sports. I signed up for my first marathon (why not?) and created my own training plan.. I also participated in a few more sprint and Olympic triathlons. After the Miami marathon, I learned that I had qualified for the Boston Marathon (3:38) and discovered that my passion for exercise physiology extended to sport nutrition. Nearing my last semester of graduate school, my desire to be a strength and conditioning coach was subsiding as I wanted to do something that included nutrition and physiology.
2005-2006 After graduate school, I had no money because I spent it all on triathlons and running races. At the age of 23, I moved in with my parents (who had moved to New Port Richey, FL as my dad got a job as the chief optometrist of the VA clinic) and took an intern position at the WTC (formally owned by Dr. Gills). I came across the internship position and with a new love for endurance training and racing, I wasn't sure how to use my MS in Exercise Physiology so I decided to do something fun and intern with Ironman and IronGirl. During my 6-month internship stating in Jan 2006, I was bite hard by the endurance bug - I was training for the Boston Marathon, my 2nd marathon (April), my first half ironman in Disney (May) and my first Ironman in FL (Nov). After my internship I took a position as the Wellness Coordinator of the YMCA Suncoast. I had a wonderful boss Lesley (also a triathlete). I taught spin classes and was a personal trainer alongside my coordinator responsibilities. In May 2006, I met Karel. After winning the 18-24 age group at IMFL (my first IM) and qualifying for Boston after my first marathon, I felt my calling was in endurance sports. I wanted to write articles and write a book, speak, coach and counsel and I felt that the only way I could gain the credibility of being a nutrition expert would be to obtain my RD credential. Little did I know how long, hard and expensive of a journey that would be, but I didn't consider any other options. It was the right thing to do.
2007-2010 A lot happened in these three years. Karel and I got engaged (2007), then married (2008), we moved to Jacksonville for Karel to become the GM of Trek Bicycles of Jacksonville, FL, I completed my first Kona (2007) after getting injured a month before the race (the start of 6 years of chronic on and off hip/back issues), I continued to race triathlons more competitively, I supported Karel racing bikes as a Cat 1 cyclist and we added to our furry family (welcome Campy and Madison). Oh yes, and I went back to school to become a RD! Seeing that I had my bachelors in exercise science, I discovered that I could obtain a verification statement to meet the requirements to apply for an internship. I took my dietetic classes online from UNCO (in Colorado) and took other pre-req classes locally (Clearwater, then Jacksonville). During this time, I completed my 3rd Ironman (IMKY in 2009) and found myself improving as a self-coached triathlete. I did a lot of speaking, consulting and writing for free as I continued to build my knowledge (and reputation). In 2007, I completed my level 1 coaching certification for USAT and become a triathlon coach.
2010-2011 If graduate school wasn't stressful enough, my dietetic internship really took over my life. I managed to squeeze in one Ironman at the beginning of my 10-month, 1200 hour internship (distance internship - from Marywood University) during my community rotation with Preferred Nutrition. I ended up qualifying for Kona again but thankfully it was for the following year. I ended up hurting my back/hips again so I didn't race a single run or triathlon race between IMWI (Sept 2010) until Kona (October 2011). There were things that I liked and didn't like during my internship but I learned a lot regardless if I was passionate about what I was learning. I didn't want to become a RD to be a dietitian but instead to be a qualified nutrition expert - not sure if that makes sense. Oddly enough, when I was finishing my clinical rotation at St. Vincent's, I actually found myself enjoying the constant learning of the human body when working with patients in the hospital. I found this to be a great compliment to applying nutrition to "healthy" athletes.
2011-2014 After several months of studying, I passed my RD exam on the first try. What a relief! After not wanting to be a dietitian, I found myself with the most amazing opportunity to be a PRN (as needed) clinical dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches. I learned so much and I loved the constant challenge of having to make decisions for each patient. After completing my 2nd Ironman World Championship in October, it was time to turn my passion into a profession. In Jan 2012, Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC was created.
As I continued to develop my philosophy and voice, I started speaking and writing more on sport nutrition and found myself balancing being a clinical dietitian with being a sport dietitian. I loved every day of the constant learning. I started consulting with athletes and coaching more triathletes and runners. By 2012, Karel found himself wanting a new challenge and after racing bikes all his life, he decided to train for a triathlon - and learn how to swim! By the summer of 2013, Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition was growing and I found it critically important to keep myself learning to stay up with current research and practical applications. After qualifying for my 3rd IM World Championship at IM Lake Placid and sharing the course with Karel for his first Ironman, I realized that my knowledge of sport nutrition and endurance training and racing was not only benefiting me, but I could help other athletes. However, in order to continue to help athletes with triathlon nutrition, training and racing (all distances), running nutrition and fueling and endurance sport nutrition and training, I needed some help to be able to focus on my specialty areas.
2014-2016 With some changes at the Trek store, Karel and I decided that it was time to grow Trimarni together. And in order to do so, we needed to live in a place that catered to our love for healthy eating and active living. We picked Greenville, SC and have never looked back since we moved in May 2014. Our job is coaching athletes and improving performances through the diet and sport nutrition and through RETUL bike fits (Karel). After holding my RD credential for 2 years, I met the minimum requirement to apply for my Board Certification in Sport Nutrition. This was a goal of mine since earning my RD credential and the first time since my Masters that I found myself 100% focused on exactly what I want to be doing with my career - sport nutrition, daily nutrition and training for athletes (specifically triathletes and runners). With several months of studying I was loving this chance to improve my knowledge in sport nutrition even more. I ordered several textbooks and materials to help with my studying for the 3 hour exam, I was reading more research studies than in graduate school and I was loving training in Greenville for my 4th Ironman World Championship (with Karel). I passed my board certification (found out in October, took the exam in July) and since then, I have been writing and consulting more than ever - and loving every opportunity that I have to help athletes improve performance and health.
As I look at these expensive pieces of paper on my office wall, I am constantly reminded of the steps that it took to be the nutrition expert that I am today.
Learning and communicating the "best" way to educate athletes can be challenging, especially with so much information available to the public.
But I have been determined to maintain a similar philosophy for my nutrition practices since the day I became a RD. While research and my recommendations may change, I still feel strongly that it is my responsibility to provide trustful, accurate and realistic information to each of my athletes based on my athletes needs and goals.
I am performance focused but not at the expense of sabotaging good health.
Now that my passion has turned into a profession and I have a specialty area of sport nutrition, I wake up excited every day to help athletes from all over the world improve health and performance by training smarter and learning how to nourish and fuel an active lifestyle.
I realize that there are many nutrition experts out there.
Thank you for choosing Trimarni.
Are you a tomorrow person? Do you constantly find yourself saying that you will do better tomorrow? Do you find yourself stuck in a hamster wheel, day after day, not starting something today that you promised yourself yesterday that you would do tomorrow?
As you continue to check off another day of your life today, what's making you feel like things aren't going as you planned today?
Are you already looking forward to a fresh start (or a better day) tomorrow?
Many times, tomorrow brings hope that it will be a better day. My question to you is what makes tomorrow such a better day than today?
What makes today such a bad day?
The idea of waiting until the right or perfect day or time to start something is likely causing you to put off making the change(s) that you need to make, right now.
Whether it's diet, training, exercise, career, relationships, travel or something else in life, you don't have to wait for the perfect opportunity to start something that is important to you.
One reason why you may be waiting until tomorrow to make a change (or start something new) is because you are letting your feelings get the best of you.
Sometimes feelings are inaccurate and can be road blocks in an attempt to make progress.
If you are letting your feelings become your reality, you may find it difficult to make smart decisions which can help you move closer to your goals.
The truth is that you may always feel too busy, too scared, too overwhelmed, too insecure or not good enough.
You can try to not bring your feelings and thoughts to tomorrow or you can choose to change your feelings and thoughts today to take immediate action.
Tomorrow is just another day. Your thoughts, feelings and emotions will always present.
How you deal with them is up to you.
If you keep procrastinating, you will look back with regret, wishing you would have started earlier.
Bring confidence to every day of your life and make things happen today.
I took this picture on Friday evening while driving to dinner at Restaurant 17 with our athlete and private camper Jim.
While driving, I wanted to capture this moment because I just can't get over where we live. If it's not obvious, I just love Greenville, SC and everything that we can see and do. The living is affordable, we have endless options for local foods, there are countless restaurants that take pride in supporting local farms/farmers, our roads are bike friendly (seriously - we often have to wave to cars to pass us as they will just patiently ride behind us until we give them the ok to pass), people are so nice, we have the BEST downtown and we have endless mountain and nature views.
This picture just reminds me how great it is to live close to the mountains and how lucky we are to call Greenville our home.
And because we love Greenville so much, we want you to enjoy it with us!
If you are interested in training with us, send us an email. Our private training camps are a great way for you or you and your spouse/friends to experience some unbelievable training terrain and beautiful scenery.
Our private training camps are ideal for all ages and fitness levels. We take pride in catering to your individual needs. Above all, we want to help you become a better, smarter and stronger athlete but we are mindful of your personal developmental processes. We will give you the most appropriate advice, at this time in your journey, that will help take your fitness to that next level.
Although our group camps provide the perfect mix of challenging workouts, fun and socializing, our private camps give you the individual attention that you need to improve your skills, form, confidence, mental strength, nutrition or any other area to help you reach your goals.
For Karel and myself, we love coaching our athletes. Coaching is extremely rewarding and we load our athletes with education every single week (check-in emails are emailed every Sun/Mon throughout the entire year). But the best way to coach an athlete is to see the athlete in action. This way, we can focus on specific areas that we feel are of concern or improvement.
Some of key areas that we discuss at our private camps:
Swimming - how to hold the body in the water, changing old swimming habits to learn a more appropriate style of swimming that will transfer well to open water, how to love swim training, how to use swim toys more efficiently and much more.
Cycling - (with Karel's expertise and lifetime of cycling experience, athletes will gain so much from riding with Karel) - how to change gears, how to descend/climb, how to ride on rolling hills, how to ride in turns or bumpy terrain, when to stand, sit or stay aero, how to ride in side or head wind, bike fit/position, how to ride more comfortable on the bike, how to ride with more power, how to race smart to still have the legs to run off the bike, what are the best tires and wheels for the athlete, how to ride safer and more confident and so much more.
Running - discussing common running myths for triathletes, learning how to run like a triathlete (not a "runner"), how to run more efficiently, how to run on hills (up and down), how to incorporate walking into running, how to pace better in training and racing, how to stay comfortable running longer distances, how to love running off the bike and much more.
And in addition to all the topics discussed above, I cover daily and sport nutrition in great detail.
When I work with athletes, I am very focused on how athletes fuel so that they can maximize performance. Sport nutrition can be complicated and I try to make it simple.
Far too often I see athletes not bringing the right (or enough) fuel when we train and it shows during a workout. Although our workouts may be challenging at times, I can see how comfortable (or not) an athlete is with his/her fueling. Many times, athletes are slowing down because they are not fueling adequately and this delays improvements in fitness.
This is important because we try to provide the best training environment for the athlete at our camps and we are focused on the best execution possible. When athletes train alone, it's easy to get by and not realize that your nutrition strategy (or lack thereof) is not helping you improve. You are simply getting more comfortable with a given effort but not making the necessary physiological changes that are needed to take fitness to that next level.
Far too many athletes don't realize that they can perform better, more efficiently and go longer if sport nutrition was better planned and executed. Some athletes are scared of sport nutrition and I am here to educate on the best way to fuel to ensure that sport nutrition is used properly.
That is my job as a sport dietitian, to help the athlete learn how to fuel smarter to train harder (and recover faster). I can't tell you how many athletes have told me that their nutrition strategy is just fine....until we train together. I can see all the little limiters that are not helping the athlete get to the next level. When athletes don't feel comfortable grabbing bottles while cycling, bringing or consuming nutrition while running, have complicated fueling strategies (that are difficult to replicate or execute in training and racing), are not fueling "enough" or not eating well before or after workouts, the athlete is not adapting well to training stress.
I never want my athlete leaving our camp without an improvement in fueling and daily eating.
Oh, and did I mention that when you come and visit us, I prepare all recovery snacks/drinks and we make sure to visit a few of the many great restaurants in Greenville. And we do not rush you after the end of the workout. We spend as much time needed talking about your needs, concerns and goals as an athlete and what changes need to be made to ensure great health and progress as an athlete.
We can help arrange lodging, travel and anything else you need. And our private campers have the opportunity to be RETUL fit (or refit) by Karel.
We take care of all the routes and workouts so all you have to do is show-up and do what you love to do - TRAIN!
Since our private camps are customized to your fitness level, all you need to do is contact us and we will start planning your perfect camp environment.
Here are a few pictures from 3 great days of one on one training.
3.5 hour interval ride (3500+ feet of climbing, specific focus)