Essential Sports Nutrition


Reframe your thinking over the holiday season

When was the last time you beat yourself up for “cheating” on your diet or for missing a workout?

Athletes are typically very determined, passionate, focused and hard working and when put into certain life situations, athletes can be very on or off. Either choices are a success or a failed attempt.

Because of this natural tendency to want to be "on" all the time, it’s understandable that many athletes feel a loss of control around the holiday season as it relates to succeeding with healthy eating and consistent exercising. 

With 365 days in a year, there’s no reason to be extreme with your dietary and exercise habits around the holiday season. But at the same time, you can maintain great health and wellness over the holidays with a little shift in your thinking.

All you need is a little reframing to help shift your mind out of negative thinking. 

According to Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW, and author of Counseling Tips for Nutrition Therapists, “Reframing a problem involves placing it in a different context (or frame) and thereby changing its meaning. Often, this means taking something seen as bad (problem) and shifting either its content or its context so it can be seen as useful rather than bad. The new perspective leads either to acceptance or to creativity about what to do differently.”

For example, instead of saying “I can never control myself around sweets during the holidays” say, “I feel so lucky that so many people care about me and want to bake me cookies for the holidays.” Or, instead of saying, “I have so much to do, I can't even find time to exercise” say to yourself, “I’m thankful to have a family to care for and I deserve to take care of myself so I can be a better parent for my family.”

Holidays present a wonderful opportunity to enjoy different foods you likely would not consume on a daily basis and to change up your routine training regime. This may feel like an uncomfortable and overwhelming time of the year due to all the changes in your eating patterns and exercise routine but bringing behaviors of extreme discipline and restriction will only make you feel more anxious about the holidays.  Because your thought processes are creating beliefs and assumptions that this is an uncomfortable and overwhelming time of the year, it's important that you recognize that you are simply associating a negative thought to every situation out of your control.

Because the holidays are a time to share love and create memories with others, the most powerful thing you can do for your mind, body and soul is to stretch your boundaries when it comes to approaching specific situations. 

I encourage you to step away from rigid thinking (all or nothing) and think about how you can successfully navigate your way through the holiday season with a healthy mind and body.  

Instead of saying, “I hate how I feel when I eat so much bad food” say, “I am equipped with the necessary tools to indulge responsibly and to eat until I feel satisfied."

Without even realizing it, you have probably reframed countless situations in training to finish a workout or on race day, in order to cross the finish line. For example, instead of saying "I am so tired, I should give up now" you say "I may be tired but I can rest when I am done!".

In your ongoing quest to become a smarter, healthier and stronger athlete, consider the negative thought patterns that are keeping you from finding better balance in your life. 

This is a great quote from Molly Kellogg you may want to keep in mind as we approach the holiday season.

"It takes courage to demand time for yourself. At first glance, it may seem to be the ultimate in selfishness, a real slap in the face to those who love and depend on you. It's not. It means you care enough to want to see the best in yourself and give only the best to others."


Healthy Weight vs. Race Weight? A must read for performing at your best.

Athletes are constantly being told to lose weight.

Whether it's directly from a coach or from the messages and images viewed on social media and in articles and on TV, we live in a body obsessed society.

With so many different body types and so many different styles of eating (aka "diets"), driven by misconceptions about food, body dissatisfaction and misguided strategies for eating "right", it doesn't surprise me when I see the health and performance of competitive, body conscious, goal oriented and driven athletes, deteriorate.

Most athletes have no idea how much energy is needed by the body to perform at a high level. Most athletes do not feel they deserve to eat "that much food".

Now more than ever, most athletes are very obsessed with how much they weigh. Due to so many false statements relating to body weight and performance, athletes are constantly trying to be thinner, leaner and lighter, while trying to get faster and to go longer.

As it relates to your healthy weight, it's very hard to define a healthy weight as an athlete. Most charts (ex. BMI) do not account for the extra muscle and denser bones that you will develop through training. I know for myself, I am always on the high end of a "healthy" weight for my height because of my athletic build and from my genetics. For much of the year, a healthy weight is one that puts you at little risk for disease or illness, is a weight that allows you to function well in life without following dietary rules or restrictions, is one that allows you to have great energy throughout the day and is a weight that is easy to maintain with your activity regime.

Unfortunately, many athletes try to maintain and achieve a weight that is based on a look or a number on a scale for much of the year, often comparing this "ideal" image to one that was achieved in peak training. Self-identity to a body image is often a struggle for athletes because your healthy weight may not be the one that you accept for what it looks like, but it may be the best weight for you to maintain great health for much of the year. My advice for athletes is to work on body acceptance and to not try to fight for a certain "lean or defined" image, size or weight. Through good lifestyle habits and a great relationship with food and your body, a healthy weight will be easy to achieve and easy to maintain regardless how much or little you are training.

So now we get to the topic of race weight. As it relates to the topic of athletes being obsessed with weight, far too many athletes are using a number on the scale to determine athletic readiness for an event. Unfortunately, this approach does not tell athletes what type of weight is being lost - is it fat, muscle or water?

Your body composition provides very specific information about your body make-up, much more than simply looking at a number on a scale. As it relates to body composition, you are focusing on the proportion of fat and lean body mass in the body.

Your body is made up of body fat and lean body mass.

Body fat can be found as storage fat and as essential body fat.

The human body stores fat in the form of triglycerides within fat (adipose tissue) as well as within the muscle fibers (intramuscular triglycerides). Through endurance training (without any dietary manipulation), there is an increase in fat oxidation from intramuscular triglycerides. As exercise intensity increases, fatty acid mobilization from adipose tissue slows but total fat oxidation increases due to the increase use of intramuscular triglycerides. Let's not forget that dietary carbohydrates influence fat mobilization and oxidation during exercise.

Storage fat is located around organs and beneath the skin, which protects the body and acts as an insulator. I don't need to tell you this but excessive accumulation of visceral fat is associated with health issues, which is why it is important to keep your body composition within a healthy body composition range - not too high but not too low.

As for essential fat, this is fat found in the marrow of bones, the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles and lipid rich tissues throughout the central nervous system. Essential fat is critical for normal body functioning. Women tend to have higher essential fat compared to men.

Your lean body mass represents everything in your body that is not fat - the weight of your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and internal organs. Certainly, you don't want to lose any of this "weight" through dieting or exercising.

As you can see, athletes should not be using a scale to assess a "healthy weight" and a number on the scale is an impractical method to determine "race weight." 

Let's continue on with this discussion for application purposes....

Athlete A is motivated to lose weight in order to improve athletic performance for an upcoming endurance event. This athlete does not want to hire a sport dietitian but has his/her own methods for weight loss. Let's not forget to mention that this athlete is not aware of how much energy is needed to support the metabolic demands of training and this athlete does not have a practice method of lowering body fat while retaining lean muscle mass. This athlete only uses the scale to asses weight loss. Seeing that a number of key hormones play an important role in the regulation of body composition and energy production, the glands in the endocrine system (ex. adrenal, hypothalamus, ovaries, pancreas, parathyroid, pineal, pituitary, testes, thymus, thyroid) are slowly being compromised. Athlete A has no professional guidance on his/her quest to weigh less and through diligent dietary adherence and structured intense and high volume training, this athlete loses weight. While this athlete may have arrived to race day at his/her race weight, this athlete will now spend the next few months or year, trying to fix his/her overtaxed, overloaded and damaged endocrine system. It's worth mentioning that even for athletes who are not seeking weight loss but do not understand the energy that is needed to support endurance or high intensity training, may end up unintentionally damaging hormonal or metabolic health by not "eating enough" or timing food appropriately with training, to support training stress.

So how about Athlete B. This athlete follows his/her training plan and works with a sport dietitian to better understand how to time nutrition with training, to understand individual energy and nutrient needs and to learn how to use sport nutrition properly to support long and intense training sessions and to maximize recovery. This athlete can train consistently throughout the entire season and notices a change in body composition over an extended period of time through sustainable healthy eating habits and a well-laid training plan. This athlete increases lean mass while reducing overall body fat without intentionally trying. This athlete recognizes that although the number on the scale has gone up by a few lbs, this athlete has actually lowered his/her body fat and has gained muscle. This athlete is in great health, has a leaner yet healthy and strong body and will arrive to race day confident and prepared.


A change in your body composition is the outcome of a well planned and executed fueling and training plan. When a healthy change in body composition is desired, it involves a team approach from a coach, sport dietitian and possibly an exercise physiologist for body composition testing and a doctor for lab work. Most athletes do not take this approach as they want a quick, inexpensive and easy approach to weight loss.

It's far too common that athletes will step on the scale and respond with "I'm too fat/heavy" or "I can never perform well at this weight". This triggers the need for control and immediate action and leads into overtraining, calorie restriction, carbohydrate elimination and improper fueling and hydrating.

Seeing that this approach places the athlete at risk for losing lean tissue, bone mass, depleted energy stores and a possible gain in body fat, why would any athlete want to compromise the body through this approach?

Isn't the point of training to become a better, stronger and faster athlete?

How can this be done with a body that you can't do anything with?

I hear about it all the time but unsupervised, uneducated and poorly guided athletes are most at risk for illness, injury, poor recovery, decreased performance and a host of hormonal, bone, cardiovascular and metabolic health issues. All of which negatively affect training and can compromise overall well-being.

For you to perform at your best AND to adapt to training, while functioning well in life, focus on achieving a healthy weight and let your race weight take care of itself. With optimal fueling and hydration strategies, a healthy and well balanced diet, consistent quality training, good sleep and great recovery habits, you will not only reach athletic excellence but your great daily habits will continue to bring you long-term health benefits.

Fat metabolism during exercise
Metabolic adaptation to weight loss
Getting a grip on body composition
Diets gone too far


Trimarni athlete spotlight: Tracy Kuhn: Mom of 3 conquers a marathon!

We are excited to announce a new feature on the Trimarni blog where we will be shining the spotlight on one of our Trimarni athletes (coaching or nutrition) every week.

We hope that you will feel inspired by the spotlight athlete as you learn a few tips and tricks to help you reach your personal athletic and nutrition goals.

Our athletes are normal individuals choosing to do exceptional things with a healthy body.

Name: Tracy Kuhn

Age: 37

City/State: Lexington, SC

Primary sport: Running

How many years in the sport: Off and on for the past 7 years, steady for the last two. 

What Trimarni services have you used: 
Nutrition  - 2 x preparation nutrition services and 1 x race week/day nutrition planning service
Training plan adjustment (Tracy used a run training plan from the Internet and purchased a consulting service for Marni to adjust workouts for more specificity and individualized training)


Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

I discovered running after having our twins in 2010. I started running in 2011, just after their birthday when I saw myself in a picture.  I didn't have a lot of time to take care of myself and never really enjoyed a gym. I discovered I could lace up and head out the front door and get a workout in without too much effort. Once I realized I could run a mile the love was born. Before I knew it I was pushing the double jogger down the trail and signing up for my first 1/2 Marathon.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

Running is always a competition with myself - faster, stronger, further, more hilly. There is always a way to make it more challenging. Running is a fun, healthy way to spend quality time with friends and something my entire family can get involved in.

What do you do for work?

Operations Director for an Electrical Contractor.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?

My work schedule is always different and requires a lot of day travel. But it also has some flexibility built in that helps me balance it all. I do a lot of early morning workouts before my family is awake. Sometimes I work from home and can fit a run a little later in the morning or at lunch time when no one else has to smell the results of my workout.

Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?

Planning. I try not to schedule out of town, early morning work meetings on heavy workout days - that requires too early of a wake-up call. I also pack a gym bag some days and hit the road running before I head home for the day.

Do you have kids?

Yes, Allison and Henry (almost 7) and Benjamin (almost 4). 

How does having kids affect your training?

I'm really lucky to have a supportive husband. Most mornings he handles getting the kids off to school so I can focus on my workouts and get to work on time. We also turned our playroom into a workout room with a treadmill. The kids have their own yoga mats and small weights so they can do their exercises; and I have learned to pull Leggos apart, tie jewelry, and settle the kid's arguments while getting my run on. Occasionally, we need help and aren't afraid to call on the grandparents for backup. 
I sign up for mostly local races that my family can attend or participate in. The kids love getting medals and demonstrating their speed.

What tricks or tips do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family?

Ask for help, involve your family, and get up early and get your workout done before the real responsibility of your family kicks in.

Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson learned that you'd like to share?

I recently completed my first full marathon! While I did not set any speed records, I overcame serious stomach upset and finished healthy and feeling strong. Marni told me that there was a chance for tummy issues in my first long distance running event so she prepped me with tips and tricks of how to best manage issues if they came about. The training and preparation worked and I am so proud of this bucket list accomplishment.

What are your top 3-5 tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
  • Workout buddies - our local FiA run group has been an invaluable support and inspiration system. I have formed such great friendships and learned a lot from these ladies. It is fun to train together and share in each others' successes.

  • Plan and commit - schedule the time and stay committed to yourself, your workouts and food preparation. 

  • Take care of your body - fuel it with yummy and nutritious foods and give it the rest it needs.

  • Enjoy the journey - keep workouts fresh and challenging, and try new things.

  • Get the help of a professional! The nutritional plans Marni helped me with gave me energy and helped me learn to fuel my body with a great daily diet and pre/post workouts too. Having a professional help me plan safe, effective training, that I can fit into my lifestyle, guiding me through my unique challenges, and preparing me for overcoming obstacles that may arise has given me great confidence and a strong mind.

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?

I finally consider myself a "real" runner. Investing in myself this year has been life changing. I am happier and more confident. I'm also more patient and have more energy to give to my very deserving family and friends, and to my work. I hope my athletic journey is just beginning and that I will consider myself a "real" athlete by the end of 2017.

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?

Ice cream. Ice cream. Ice cream.

What key races do you have planned in 2017?

I'm just recovering from my first marathon but have my eye on P200 if spot opens on one of our teams, Triple Crown (3 half marathons in 3 months) in the Spring, Lexington 1/2 Marathon in the fall, and another full Marathon late 2017 or early 2018.

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?

To enjoy the journey, keep my body healthy, and increase my strength and speed. 

Where can others follow you on social media:

Facebook: Tracy Molzer Kuhn
Twitter: @tkuhn0217


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Re-learn to love your body

Are you satisfied with your body?
Do you wish that you looked differently?
What type of dialogue do you hear in your head when you look at yourself in a mirror?

Why are you constantly receiving and believing messages that your body is not good enough? 

Healthy bodies come in all sizes.
Body weight does not predict athletic success.
A number on the scale does not define you as a person.

There is a strong association between social media usage and body image concerns. On social media, you are viewing a snapshot of life.
But what about all the filtered, edited and perfectly posed and cropped images that you believe equate to happiness and body satisfaction?

To compare is to despair.

If a visual image makes you think less of yourself or causes you to develop negative feelings about your body, it's time to stop following that image. Stop fixating on what is perfect on another person's body, thinking that you will be happier, more liked or more successful if you looked that way.

Seeing that athletes already feel great pressure to look a certain way, I feel it is very important that we (professionals/coaches) take the focus away from an athlete's weight or image when it comes to improving performance and health. Athletes are more likely to make smart, realistic and sustainable changes that foster improvements in performance and health when the end result is not for a better or change in body image. Athletes can feel a tremendous amount of pressure, anxiety and control when body image is a primary focus and we don't need to add more pressure to body that is already stressed from training and life.

Let me remind you that your body is incredible. Accept yourself for who you are right now and where you are right now and love your body for what it is, right now.

I encourage you to filter through the many images that you often like, view, stalk or obsess over and if there are images that make you feel unhappy about your body, stop following that image. It's time to stop following the life of someone else and learn to be happy with your life and your body.

It's time to become more attuned to your own successes, your own journey, your own needs and your own accomplishments.

10 "Will Powers" for Improving Body Image

By: Michael Levine, PhD and Linda Smolak, PhD
I WILL ask myself: “Am I benefiting from focusing on what I believe are flaws in my body weight or shape?”
I WILL think of three reasons why it is ridiculous for me to believe that thinner people are happier or “better.” I will repeat these reasons to myself whenever I feel the urge to compare my body shape to someone else’s.
I WILL spend less and less time in front of mirrors—especially when they are making me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious about my body.   
I WILL exercise for the joy of feeling my body move and grow stronger. I will not exercise simply to lose weight, purge fat from my body, or to “make-up” for calories I have eaten.
I WILL participate in activities that I enjoy, even if they call attention to my weight and shape.I will constantly remind myself that I deserve to do things I enjoy, like dancing, swimming, etc., no matter what my shape or size is!
I WILL refuse to wear clothes that are uncomfortable or that I do not like but wear simply because they divert attention from my weight or shape. I will wear clothes that are comfortable and that make me feel at home in my body.
I WILL list 5 to10 good qualities that I have, such as understanding, intelligence, or creativity. I will repeat these to myself whenever I start to feel bad about my body.
I WILL practice taking people seriously for what they say, feel, and do. Not for how slender, or “well put together” they appear.
I WILL surround myself with people and things that make me feel good about myself and my abilities. When I am around people and things that support me and make me feel good, I will be less likely to base my self-esteem on the way my body looks.
I WILL treat my body with respect and kindness. I will feed it, keep it active, and listen to its needs. I will remember that my body is the vehicle that will carry me to my dreams! 

I, do hereby declare that from this day forward I will choose to live my life by the following tenets.  In so doing, I declare myself free and independent from the pressures and constraints of a weight-obsessed world. 
  • I will accept my body in its natural shape and size.
  • I will celebrate all that my body can do for me each day.
  • I will treat my body with respect, giving it enough rest, fueling it with a variety of foods, exercising it moderately, and listening to what it needs.
  • I will defy our society’s pressures to judge myself and other people on physical characteristics like body weight, shape, or size.  I will respect people based on the qualities of their character and the impact of their accomplishments.
  • I will refuse to deny my body valuable nutrients by dieting or using weight loss products.
  • I will avoid categorizing foods as either “good” or “bad.”  I will not guilt or shame myself for eating certain foods.  Instead, I will nourish my body with a balanced variety of foods, listening and responding to what it needs.
  • I will not use food to mask my emotional needs.
  • I will not avoid participating in activities that I enjoy (e.g., swimming, dancing, enjoying a meal with friends) simply because I am self-conscious about the way my body looks.  I will recognize that I have the right to enjoy any activities regardless of my body shape or size.
  • I will base my self-esteem and identity on that which comes from within!


Tips to get the most out of your indoor workout


At some point in the season, almost every athlete will find him/herself training indoors. For many athletes, indoor workouts are the norm for several months of the year due to winter storms/temps.

Are you the type of athlete who loves training indoors?

Training indoors provides a safe, controlled environment with few to no distractions. Due to time constraints, many athletes prefer indoor training as the only/best way to get in workouts early in the morning or late at night or to stick to a schedule.

Are you the type of athlete who views indoor training as the last resort training environment?

Training indoors may feel boring and isolating, making you feel less motivated to start or finish a workout trapped inside walls.

Reasons for working out indoors
  • Unsafe weather conditions (ex. storm, ice, snow, extreme wind, etc.)
  • Impractical weather conditions to safely exercise or execute a workout
  • Personal preference - safety, accountability
  • Specific workout requiring constant monitoring of effort or metrics
  • Skill specific workout requiring controlled environment
  • Practicality - location, time

Although training outdoors is fun and necessary, especially as it relates to putting yourself in a similar race day environment and practicing pacing, skills and nutrition, indoor training provides a safe, controlled environment to challenge you physically and mentally.

Tips to get the most out of your indoor workout 

-Create a positive training environment so that you can get and stay excited to train. While a gym membership may work for some athletes, investing in a home gym may work for others.

-Select the best entertainment to keep your mind stimulated based on the workout (ex. podcast, TV, movie, music, silence).

-Eliminate distractions so that you can stay focused and present.

-Write down your workout on a piece of paper or white board so that you are constantly reminded of what you expect your body to do throughout the entire workout. This will also foster a smoother workout flow of your workout.

-Treat your workout like a class. You have your start time to "show up" and then your finish time. In a class environment, a great excuse to leave a class early is when you are crunched for time or you have another commitment. It's not the best excuse to leave a class because you feel bored or you don't have motivation that day. Sometimes you have to hang in there and finish what you started.

-Understand that your mind will wander during an indoor workout and you will have waves of enjoying the workout and not enjoying the workout. This is normal (and not unlike race day!). Break down your workout into segments so that you can focus on one part of the workout at a time (don't think about how much longer you still have to work out, stay present and the time will pass).

-Mix up the training. You will find yourself enjoying indoor workouts if you have a mix of very specific workouts with intervals and then loose freedom workouts.

-Stay well hydrated and fuel appropriately. Treat your indoor workout like an outdoor workout, based on volume and intensity. Many athletes don't fuel properly for indoor workouts, assuming that the indoor workout is less taxing. Although an indoor workout eliminates dealing with gravity and environmental conditions like hills and wind, there are many specific indoor workouts that require proper fueling and hydration as training stress is still training stress, even indoors.

-Work on your mental toughness. As an athlete, you are going to race in all types of environmental conditions and on different courses. Racing will not be comfortable. You will want to quit. Use every indoor workout as a great opportunity to explore your thoughts as it relates to being uncomfortable and wanting to give up/in. Regardless of the intensity and/or volume of the workout, indoor training provides one of the best opportunities to train your mind. Use your indoor workout to develop strategies or mantras that keep you going and make note of them so that on race day, you can pull them out of your mental tool box.

-Don't neglect mobility before and after your indoor session as well as strength training. Being in a fixed position (ex. cycling on a bike trainer) or on controlled terrain (ex. treadmill belt) may cause bad habits in form and posture because you don't have to deal with environmental stress or changes in terrain. Spend some time warming up your body before a workout with dynamic stretching and stay mobile after your workout to prevent your body from getting stiff and tight. Strength training will also help you address any weakness in your form, posture or balance so that you can prevent a possible injury from happening later on in your season.