Essential Sports Nutrition


Choose Anti-Diet in 2018

You've probably noticed the sudden increase of ads and commercials promoting certain diet products and plans to help you lose weight and get healthy in 2018. As a dietitian who specializes in endurance sports, I carefully equip and brace myself for the bombardment of diet/nutrition/wellness information as the diet industry does an exceptional job to guilt you into a style of eating that claims to change your life and help you finally reach your weight loss goals or improve your health. But let's get about 18-30 days, most people have wasted a few weeks of life, all to eventually return back to old lifestlye habits.

I'm always amazed with the attention that people place on "healthy eating," making it so complicated and extreme. If you are confused as to the "best" way to eat
, there's a good chance that you are searching for the best way to get back on track with healthy eating after all of the holiday indulging.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with healthy eating and I 100% encourage and support nourishing your body with a wide range of vitamins and minerals in an effort to reduce risk for disease, optimize health and to keep the body at a healthy body composition. 

But as it relates to the methods for healthy eating, there's no one "best" approach. Sure, there's a lot of comfort and security in joining a dietary movement (ex. Paleo, whole-30, detox, vegan) especially if you find it terrifying to make nutrition decisions on your own. And with so much food freedom and uncertainty, there's great safety when you have to conform to rules and have an army of other like-minded dietary members to support and to encourage you when you feel weak and vulnerable. 

Sure, you want to get rid of your sugar cravings and eat more real food and perhaps lose some weight and improve your fitness but for many people (especially those who naturally live with an obsessive and additive personality), you may find it easy to overdo things when it comes to changing your diet, wanting to be perfect with your diet and trying to control everything in your environment in an effort to eat healthy and to lose weight.

Healthy eating does not and should not be all or nothing. It should not be extreme. Your diet should never bring you anxiety, fear or guilt. And certainly, healthy eating should not destroy your health and quality of life.

It's easy to get sucked into the beauty of food pictures on the internet alongside perfectly sculpted bodies, posing half naked after a sweaty workout, all in an effort to make you believe that the person behind those pictures (or blog post) is healthy and you should eat like so-and-so.

We must remember that every person is on his/her own individual quest to become healthier and the chapters of your life book do not have to look like the perfectly edited chapters of the book of someone else. Although similar methods and ideologies may work for the masses, like eat more real food and cook more at home, ultimately, you are on your own nutrition journey and you don't need a rule book or off limit food list in an effort to succeed. 

Consider this...

To one person, healthy eating may include making homemade almond milk, purchasing eggs and meat from a local farmer and picking produce from the at-home garden.

To another person, healthy eating may include not skipping breakfast, eating a serving or two of vegetables each day and learning how to cook a whole grain, like quinoa or barley....for the very first time.

And then there are individuals who are seeking a healthier diet by learning how to not stress/emotional eat, trying to reduce binge eating and working through strong and destructive thoughts about food and the body. 

Perhaps healthy eating means making changes in your diet so that cancer doesn't return for a second time. Or, maybe healthy eating means finally admitting that you have been struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder and after so many years trying to control your weight, health or performance, you want to get help so you can start living your life by not feeling controlled by food.

Healthy eating is different for everyone. Living a healthy life should not require you to do anything extreme. If you are considering taking an extreme dietary approach to kick start the New Year, I strongly encourage you to not waste your time, money and energy following an eating plan that is targeted to the masses.

In 2018, I encourage you to pledge NO DIETING.

It's important to eat healthy but not at the cost of your health and quality of life. Yes, you will need to make changes in your lifestyle and you may feel overwhelmed. But change doesn't have to be extreme. I strongly advise to skip the diet plan or 30-day challenge and start focusing on creating new habits in your life, one small change at a time.
If you choose anti-diet in 2018, here are some tips to help you kick-start your new healthy eating strategies in the New Year: 
  1. Create a realistic plan for the day, before it happens. What will you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for snacks? Don't get too ambitious as small changes make for long lasting results. When you have a plan for yourself, you will find it easier follow through and reflect on what went well and what didn't go as planned (and why).
  2. Don't bring a diet mentality (or off limit food list) to your New Year eating strategies. Allow for flexibility and avoid making food choices with an all-or-nothing approach. Use your best knowledge to make educated food choices as to the most practical food swaps to help you move toward a more real food, balanced diet.
  3. Make the time, don't hope for the time. Reorganize your life and dedicate 30 minutes a day to food prep/cooking. The more food that you have prepped, cooked and readily available, the easier it is to follow through with your healthy eating plan.
  4. Take a social media break. If you follow a lot of health-related blogs/twitter/instagram/facebook accounts, you may need a social media detox from the people/sites that are making you feel depressed or not good enough. Remember, people selectively post what they want others to see so as you begin your new journey, it may work against you to click on a site for inspiration, only to feel like you can't keep up with the successes of others. Plus, social media take time out of your day when you could be spending that time on yourself.
  5. Don't make eating complicated, time consuming or difficult.  Sure, at the beginning of any journey, change is tough and you will have questions but eventually, you should find that your diet easily fits into your life because it supports your life and doesn't control your life. A sustainable healthy diet shouldn't require an excessive amount of energy, thought and meticulous planning.
  6. People thrive off rules because with rules, you eliminate options and choices. A healthy diet should not require iron-willpower or an off-limit food list.
  7. Be kind to your body. If body composition modification is a desired goal to enhance performance or to improve health, the methods should not be strict or extreme. You should allow for gradual weight loss (not a quick fix), without extreme food restrictions, excessive exercising, unsafe behaviors (starving, purging, laxatives) or use of weight loss or performance-enhancing supplements. A health-conscious person cares about his/her body. Your diet shouldn't give you anxiety and your body image shouldn't make you feel frustrated or upset.

    Feel free to share and pass along in an effort to encourage others to not diet in 2018. 


Homemade waffles

I love waffles.....And pancakes.....And french toast.

I love breakfast foods.

As a lifelong swimmer, my morning would typically start very very early. I can remember many alarms being set for around 4:15-4:30am as I would need to make my way to the swimming pool for 5:00 or 5:30 am swim practice. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year....for about ten years in a row, I spent many of mornings in a dark, cold pool, following the black line for an hour or two in the morning, only to do it again in the afternoon.

You'd think that I'd be burnt out from swimming but I still love to swim. Although now I prefer a slightly later start for my swim workouts, shorter workouts (3000-4000 yards versus 7000+ yards) and water temperature around 80-82 degrees versus 78-80 degrees.

One of my favorite parts about my morning swim practice was the meal that came after the workout. With my appetite building as the yards went by, I couldn't wait to devour food (and lots of it) as soon as I returned home from the workout. Although back in my younger days I didn't care about ingredients and the nutritional value of what I was putting into my body as long as it was filled with carbs, I understand the importance of feeding my body with real food ingredients, with the right composition of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) as much as possible. I'm not strict or obsessive with my diet but I do try to make the effort to eat real food as much as possible without being extreme or restrictive. And I despise food rules!

I was so excited to receive a waffle maker for the holiday as I love my daily morning waffle as my typical pre-workout snack. I spend a few dollars every week on waffles and I always tell Karel that it would be so much better if I could make my own waffles (like I do with my homemade pancakes). The only thing that was missing was a waffle maker but now that issue is solved thanks to Karel and I can make homemade waffles anytime I want!
I quickly went right to work with my first batch of waffles and they came out great. Cost effective, natural, wholesome and delicious. Stay tuned because I am so excited to try out more recipes and share them all with you.


Holiday traditions - Czech style

The holidays are a special time of the year because every family has its own special traditional celebration. And when you only celebrate a tradition once a year, you look forward to it year after year. Because traditions are important, there's a good chance that you spend the necessary time and effort on the traditions that make the holiday extra special for you and your family/friends. 

Consider your favorite movie, song, meal, dessert or game that you always look forward to on your favorite holiday. When something occurs only once a year, on a very special occasion, it's much more enjoyed compared to taking part in that tradition week after week, month after month. Let's not forget about the meaning behind the rituals, traditions and celebrations that have been in your family for longer than you can remember. 

If you are someone who gets overwhelmed and annoyed with a holiday that is heavily commercialized, consider exploring (or better yet, celebrating), a holiday with someone who is from another culture or nation. While you don't need to stop your own traditions, embracing a new culture can be an educational, enriching and inspiring part of life. 

As you may know, Karel is from Czech Republic and all of his family lives in Czech Republic. It's been 17 years since Karel has celebrated Christmas with his family. For the past eleven years, Karel has shared his holiday traditions with me - which is very important to me as I love learning about the rich customs, traditions and celebrations that take place in other cultures.

Here are a few of the Czech Christmas traditions (from this link):

During the evening of the 5th December (St. Nicholas Eve), children are very excited and watch for St. Nicholas (Svatý Mikuláš) to arrive. He normally is accompanied by one or more angels and one or more devils. He asks the children if they've been good all year and also asks them to sing a song or recite a poem, and gives them a basket of presents, often containing chocolate and fruit. If you've been naughty, the devil might give you a lump of coal. St Nicholas' Day is a very separate holiday than Christmas.

In the Czech language Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Veselé Vánoce'

The main Christmas celebrations are on Christmas Eve. Some people fast during Christmas Eve in the hope that they will see a vision of 'the golden pig' appear on the wall before dinner! This is meant to be a sign of good luck! (Karel's family didn't do this).

The Czech traditional Christmas dinner is eaten during the evening of Christmas Eve. The meal often consists of fish soup (made of carp), and fried carp with potato salad. (We modify this meal with tempeh for me and trout for Karel. Karel always makes his famous potato salad, where the only cooked vegetable is the potatoes. Everything else is raw. It tastes incredibly good!). 

Ježíšek 'Little Jesus' (the Czech version of Christkindl) brings presents during the Christmas Eve dinner and leaves them under the Christmas Tree. Czech children have their dinner in a different from where the tree is located. When they hear the bell ring (usually after the children have finished eating their main meal but when they are still at the table), that means that Ježíšek had been and has left their presents under the tree. The presents are normally opened right after dinner. (The Christmas tree was never purchased or decorated until Christmas eve and he never saw the tree until the bell rang, which told Karel that "Little Jesus" came. The tree stayed up until the New Year.).

During the holiday season apples are used a lot by Czech people to predict the future. After Christmas dinner, every person is given a apple which they cut in half from the stem down and they study the shape that the seeds inside show. If the seeds appear in a star shape, it means that health, happiness and unity is predicted for the new year. But if it’s shaped like a four-pointed cross that means bad luck will be brought to someone at the table and someone will get sick or even die. (We have never done this but Karel told me about this tradition).

We hope you enjoyed your holiday traditions! 


Happy Holidays from Trimarni!

One of the best things about the holiday season is to reflect, look ahead at the coming year and to express gratitude to our supporters, friends and followers. 

On behalf of the Trimarni team, we would like to give you a big THANK YOU.

Wishing you a healthy, happy, loving and joyful holiday. 

-The Trimarni Team (Marni, Karel, Joe and Joey)


Keep your motivation flying high

Motivation is the most significant predictor of success. But as you, motivation is sometimes hard to find and very hard to keep. While it's well known that motivation requires breaking habits and behavior patterns, motivation can also come from something deep inside - an internal drive that fosters action. 

Whereas sometimes we feel that "pressure" inside to train, eat better or make a lifestyle change, it's important that you are able to stay motivated in the face of obstacles, fatigue, boredom, stress, distractions and oh yes, the holiday season that seems to be oh-so-busy!  

Motivation is different for everyone. Explore your unique motivation that drives you to work toward your goals.
Instead of feeling pressure to do something, feel inspired to do something. 

Instead of lowering your goals to match your struggling motivation, boost your effort to reach your goals.
I know this is a very busy time of the year but I'd like to share a personal story from Karel (as featured on my blog in January) to inspire you to keep at it, even when you don't feel like it. 


It is understandable to feel a lack of motivation in the cold winter months, especially if you live in a place where there is not much community support or friends who do the same sport and have similar goals as you do.

We all go through these stages of not feeling the motivation to train and we try to use all kinds of tricks to make us put in the work. When I get into the state of low motivation, I often refer back to time when I was injured with the tear in my plantar fascia and couldn't train or race for much of the summer. I was miserable all summer and I would have given anything for the ability just go for a slow jog. 

I went to Lake Placid in July 2015, which was suppose to be my big Ironman race of the season before my first IM Kona in October 2015, and being surrounded by several of our Trimarni athletes, I tried to be supportive and be a good coach,. but deep inside, I was struggling. I forced myself to pull out of the race with a DNF after the bike so that I would not do further damage to my foot. 

Now, when I feel like not doing much, I look back at that time and use it as the extra power and motivation that I need to get myself to start and finish a workout. Because I CAN. I don't have an injury that prevents me from working out. I'm not in pain. I'm healthy. 

Everyone is different and different things work for different athletes. Use your past struggles to keep you motivated for your future successes. 


Purple yam, quinoa and Brussels Sprouts bowl

It's been a busy week for us with the launch of our new Trimarni coffee blends, and well as everything else that we have on our daily plate - coaching, nutrition consults, RETUL bike fits and training.

Alongside the time that I give to my business (which feels like non-stop, all day, 7-days a week), I make sure to schedule in time for sleep, cooking and eating and exercise. I don't feel it's selfish to take care of my health and to make sure I give myself "me time."

For anyone who is super busy (who isn't??), time management is key. Every person has their own "style" of time management and for me, I need a written to-do list alongside my Google calendar for consultations, private and group training camps and article deadlines. Karel uses his phone calendar. Because there will never be enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, it's important to make the most of the time that you have.

If you are struggling to take care of your health and/or making time for yourself, don't underestimate the power of small chunks of time to accomplish something important.

I created the most delicious creation for dinner last night and the best part is that you can easily prep the items ahead of time to make it super easy to combine together for a beautifully looking, great-tasting dish. With the help of the microwave and stove top, I got a lot done in a short amount of time and only had to use two pans/pots. I also find it really helpful to prep food before working out as it's easier to make healthy food choices and when you aren't exhausted and hungry, you spend more time enjoying the meal prepping process.

I hope you enjoy my latest creation!

Purple yam, quinoa and Brussels Sprouts bowl 

  • Purple yam or Sweet potato (cubed)
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 6 ounce Brussels Sprouts (shredded) - I bought a 12 ounce bag of shredded Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 package tempeh (cubed) or your choice protein
  • Olive oil (at least 2 tbsp)
  • Salt

  1. Prepare quinoa according to package. 
  2. In a large skillet with ~1 tbsp olive oil, sautee Brussels Sprouts until lightly brown. Season with salt to taste. Toss to prevent burning. 
  3. Cook sweet potato in microwave until soft. Remove peel and cut into cubes. 
  4. Pour Brussels Sprouts onto a plate and in the same skillet, cook cubed tempeh in ~1/2 - 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt to taste (optional pepper/cayenne). Toss to prevent burning and add extra oil as needed. 
  5. Combine all ingredients in a bowl to your serving liking (presentation counts and extra points for taking a picture of your beautiful creation) and top/drizzle with your choice cheese, sauce or dressing. For an extra crunch, top with cashews. 
  6. Now stop your busy day, enjoy your beautiful dish and savor every bite! 


Learning to reframe your thoughts

On Sunday, I shared my frustration with my body during my long run and my failed attempt at a new pancake recipe on the Trimarni Facebook page. 

I accept that life isn't all rainbows and sunshine but I try to always see the positive in every situation as this is how my dad lived every day of his life. 

It's important to shift the content or context of your thoughts so that your thinking can be useful and purposeful rather than negative and unproductive. We all experience a rush of thoughts every hour of every day and with reframing, we can adjust the frame through which we perceive and describe ourselves.

Back in August 2010, I was finishing my first rotation in my dietetic internship and also training for Ironman Wisconsin. I had a super packedweek of interning along side trying to squeeze in training for an Ironman. This was my week of interning:
  • Monday - Hospice at Mayo Campus (charting notes for patients)
  • Tues - UNF counseling for students
  • Wednesday - Community nutrition project prep for Unison facility employees
  • Thursday - Preferred Nutrition interning (private practice specializing in eating disorders)
  • Friday - Sunday - No school/interning - just homework and studying. 

As you can imagine, this was a busy time for me in my life and every day I had lots of thoughts filling my head. As I was scrolling through a book titled "Counseling Tips for Nutrition Therapists by Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW., I came across tip number ten titled "REFRAMING."

The chapter focused on clients who get stuck in ways of perceiving themselves and their world that won't allow for change. A reframe can help shift a client out of a stuck place. Reframing a problem involves placing it in a different context (or frame) and thereby changing its meaning. A new perspective leads either to acceptance or to creativity about what to do differently.

Consider your current struggle in your life - perhaps it's stress at work, relationship issues, feeling a plateau (or low motivation) in your fitness routine, feeling anxious or out of control or struggling with body composition. Do you ever find that your thoughts are constantly rooting back to that one struggle in your life? To step away from this rigid thinking, it's important to consider that life is not black or white. Even if you lose weight, there may still be stress at work or trouble in your relationship. Low motivation in your fitness routine is not because you are a lazy or unmotivated person. By practicing new behaviors with a creative state of mind, you can lessen anxiety and foster change without feeling defeated.

If you are trying to make a change in your life, consider reframing your thoughts to help you better approach your individual life journey. Here are some reframing examples from the book:

"For the taxes I pay, because it means that I am employed"

"For my aching muscles, because I am strong and able to work hard"

"For the alarm clock ringing much too early, because it tells me I am alive for another day"

"For the gutters that need fixing and the windows that need cleaning, because I have a home"

I'd like to leave you with a wonderful quote from the book:

"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."


Now proudly serving Trimarni Coffee

If you have ever traveled abroad, you may have noticed that the coffee culture in Europe is a little different than what we are use to in North America. This picture of an espresso from McDonald's in Austria says it all.....

Although you may find Europeans drinking their coffee on the go, there is a greater purpose to coffee drinking beyond the caffeine-fix.
As a European, it's no wonder that Karel takes his coffee drinking very seriously. Karel knows good coffee from well, not-so-good coffee. Karel wants a small portion of good quality coffee beans to be savored and enjoyed slowly from a small cup.

Karel even got rid of our coffee maker machine as he finds joy in "making" his coffee. Whether it's from his french press, espresso machine or a stovetop percolator, Karel loves his morning cup(s) of coffee.

As I mentioned above, Karel doesn't drink coffee for the caffeine fix. He truly appreciates the flavor, history and story behind the coffee beans, similar to any wine connoisseur.

Since Karel is very particular about his coffee, he knew there was something special about the coffee that he received as a gift (from our assistant coach Joe) a while back from the Abita Roasting Company. I'm pretty sure Karel's immediate response was "oh wow."

When the opportunity came about for Trimarni to have our own custom labeled coffee, roasted and packed by Abita Roasting Company in Abita Springs, LA. Karel couldn't turn it down. Knowing how much Karel loves his coffee and he would never put our business name on something that was not to his standards, I happily agreed.

For the first time ever, we are proud to serve Trimarni coffee.

Give it as a gift or keep it for yourself, we would like to invite you to try out our genuinely great tasting coffee. Enjoy it on the go or better yet, take some time out of your busy day to sit down and savor the full flavors of our selected roasted whole coffee beans. We currently have two amazingly great tasting blends: Grumpy Puppy and Resilient Joe.


Is the process of waking up a very slow and sometimes unpleasant process for you and those around you? If you roll out of bed with morning grumpiness, we'd like to help you add a little something special to your A.M. routine. While we can't promise that you will have as much energy as a puppy, we are confident that you will feel a little less cranky with a cup of Grumpy Puppy. 
  • Uncommon
  • Rich
  • Full.
  • Bold flavor
  • Medium dark roast
  • Net Wt. 12 ounces
  • Whole Bean

RESILIENT JOE - $14.95There's no single factor that contributes to longevity but it is important to develop resilience for life's every day struggles and stressors. One of the most common features among people who live a quality filled life is to live with purpose and to find meaning in the things that occur in your life.As you drink your cup (or two) of Resilient Joe, get after that to-do list with confidence and stay strong as you discover the silver lining in even the worst of circumstances.  

This coffee is named after Marni's 94-year old Grandpa "Joe" who is mentally sharp, physically active, a great story-teller and a lover of a good strong cup of Joe.

  • Yirgacheffe which is widely considered the birthplace of coffee. A stunning Ethiopian bean unlike any other in the world.

  • Floral
  • Sweet
  • Fruity
  • Smooth flavor
  • Medium/Dark roast
  • Net Wt. 12 ounces
  • Whole Bean

  • To learn more and to order:

    Thanks for the support!


    Embracing the workouts that scare me.

    Ask me to train at an aerobic effort for several hours and I will gladly say yes please. My body was  trained/built for endurance and I love going the distance.

    As for intense workouts, they scare the heck out of me! Sprint - no thank you!

    Whenever my heart beats out of my chest, I can hardly catch my breath and my body aches, I feel so incredibly uncomfortable, my first thought is to lower the intensity or just give up. There have been countless times when I was training with Karel and I tell him "I can't do this, I need to give up" (or think those things in a race) and by simply saying this outside, I immediately call myself out on my negative thinking and stay persistent until I finish what I started.

    I have learned that if you want to excel in something, you have to step outside of your comfort zone and do the things that you are not good at (or what scares you). Nothing great will come from always doing what you are great at.

    As it relates to training/working out, there should be workouts that intimidate you based on the distance, effort, reps or sets.

    After 11 years of endurance triathlon racing, preceded by 10 years of competitive swimming, my endurance capacity is quite large and thus, I don't need to keep training my aerobic engine. Instead, I have to train my weak areas. Karel (who coaches me) knows all too well how uncomfortable I get whenever I am asked to do anything intense but it's an area that I need to embrace in order to become a more well-rounded endurance triathlete.

    Earlier this week I was given a trainer bike workout that I despise - Russian Sprints. There's nothing fun about this workout. It looks so innocent on paper but this 11-minute main set is cruel and torturous. Karel used to do Russian Sprints quite often when he was "only" a cyclist as it helped him in his crit-racing days and for his road races.

    10 sec ON, 50 sec OFF
    20 sec on, 40 sec off
    30 sec on, 30 sec off
    40 sec on, 20 sec off (this is where it starts to hurt)
    50 sec on, 10 sec off (oh the pain)
    60 sec on, 10 sec off (I want to quit triathlon)
    50 sec on, 20 sec off (it still hurts, make it stop)
    40 sec on, 30 sec off (I didn't die - yippee)
    30 sec on, 40 sec off (who knew 40 sec rest would feel long)
    20 sec on, 50 sec off (you can do this)
    10 sec on (thank goodness)

    The ON is fast cadence with a lot of power per pedal stroke. All seated and in the aero bars.
    The OFF is EZ spin, choice cadence.
    I have the Tacx trainer and I use the Rouvy app (set on free workout) and adjust the grade/slope throughout the workout.

    Thankfully, this time around I only had to do one round of the MS and I survived. I was fearful of this workout ever since I saw it on my training plan for the week but I embraced being uncomfortable and welcomed the opportunity to improve.

    Although sprinting is not a strength of mine, I find it important to not lose sight of your strengths as you work on your weaknesses. For example, I often tell myself that as an endurance athlete, I am great at suffering through pain and I have great mental focus and strength. Anytime you are working on your weak areas, don't lose sight of your strengths as this can help you avoid the tendency to give up when you recognize that you are not good at something new.

    Then, on Thursday morning, I embraced hill repeaters. Hill running = yes please! Sprints = um, can I pass on that?

    I was so glad that Karel joined me for our hill repeater workout as it is much more fun to suffer in company than alone.

    After a 20 minute warm-up on the rolling hills outside of our neighborhood, we made our way to the long steep hill behind our neighborhood for our main set.

    MS: 2 rounds of 8 x 30 sec strong hill running w/ 80-90 sec rest between
    3-5 min EZ jog/walk between the rounds.

    Karel reminded me that a workout is only as hard as you make it and I kept this in mind during my warm-up so that I didn't run with negative thoughts in my head before the main set. To help me get through this set, I only focused on one interval at a time and never let my mind wander ahead as to how many I had left. I tried to keep my mind as present as possible, which meant not thinking about my packed to-do list for the day. I also reminded myself that it will feel so great when the workout is complete. It was rewarding to see Karel suffer and it kept me going. In some weird way, I had a lot of fun during the workout as I felt strong and resilient and of course, very grateful that I could push my body to new limits (even though the last 10 sec of each interval hurt so bad).

    Many athletes are afraid of the unknown but more so, afraid to fail.  Growth occurs outside of the comfort zone and it's better to try and fail instead of hope and wonder. When you continually stretch your comfort zone, you learn so much about yourself and your capabilities. While it does you no good to be anxious and stressed when trying something new or uncomfortable, I encourage you to accept the workouts that scare you and give them a go. There's a good chance that you will surprise yourself in doing something that you didn't think you could do. And if you do fail or feel uncomfortable, give yourself a big high five for trying. As long as you don't give up, what was once your biggest fear will soon become your biggest strength.

    (I'm not sure I will ever find enjoyment from Russian Sprints!)


    Less comparison, more compassion

    Comparison stings. 
    Compassion motivates you to go out of your way to help others. 

    Comparison negatively affects your confidence and self worth.
    Compassion focuses on others instead of yourself, trying to understand another person's perspective. 

    If you find yourself in a daily competition with people who make you feel inadequate, direct your energy elsewhere and start caring about the things and people in life that give you a bigger meaning and purpose. 

    There are far too many people in this world who experience sadness, stress, pain, disappointments, insecurities, anxiety or depression on a daily basis, which is far from the picture-perfect life that is often depicted on social media.

    Compassion helps us recognize the good in people and reminds us that we all want to be loved, safe, healthy and happy. Be mindful of where you spend your energy.

    With less comparison and more compassion, you will put yourself into a world where there is less judgement and more acceptance. Although many people are taught to put other people first, the best source of compassion can be found from within. When you are kind to yourself, you can be more compassionate to others.


    Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

    It's difficult to put "healthy" and "dessert" into one category.  For me, if I am going to indulge, I don't need the item to be classified as "healthy" as I want all of the real goodness that comes in an indulging homemade treat. The idea of a healthy brownie is a bit of a paradox but I suppose there is a bit of a nutritional boost when you add black beans to a brownie recipe. 

    Black beans are an excellent source of fiber, folate, iron and magnesium, while also providing a good amount of protein per serving. They also contain high concentrations of anthocyanins, which give foods a dark color and a heart-healthy benefit, like acting as an anti-inflammatory.

    I was scrolling through an old recipe from the 2013 September/October issue of Food and Nutrition magazine and I came across a Fudgy Black Bean Brownie recipe on pg 19. I was craving a treat so I gathered all the necessary ingredients and went to my kitchen to start baking. Enjoy!

    If you are hesitate about the added black bean ingredient, give this recipe a go as I promise that you won't taste the beans! 

    Fudgy Black Bean BrowniesRecipe developed by for the Bean Institute as featured in Food and Nutrition magazine, 2013 Sept/October issue. 

    1 x 15- ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
    3 large eggs
    3 tbsp canola oil
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp peppermint extract (optional)
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    pinch of salt
    1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil or coat an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 
    2. Place the black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. 
    3. Add the eggs, oil sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt and optional peppermint extract. Process until smooth
      Note: I mixed step 3 ingredients in a large bowl and then added the black bean puree to the large bowl. 
    4. Add 1/4 cup of the chips and pulse a few times until the chips are incorporated. 
    5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
      Note: I did not have mini chocolate chips so I chopped large dark chocolate chips and sprinkled them in the mixture. 
    6. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted int the center comes out clean. 
    7. Cool in the pan before slicing into 2-inch squares. Serves 16. 


    Weekend recap - snow and training

    We are very lucky that we live in a southern city that provides us with all four seasons throughout the year. But even better, we can train outside year round. However, once or twice a year we get a beautiful snowfall in Greenville, SC. which forces us to train inside.

    On Friday late morning, after our morning swim and strength session, we were shocked to see the rain turn into fluffy white snowflakes. We had over 24 hours of constant snow falling from the sky and it was absolutely beautiful. Although I was loving the change of scenery in our tree-filled backyard, Campy was not impressed as he is not a fan of anything cold and wet. I suppose when you are a 12-lb dog and live in a world where you can never be too warm or have too many blankets on top of you, there's nothing fun about voluntarily stepping outside, onto the cold, wet ground.

    As for training, it was a nice change to spend two hours on my Tacx trainer with an hour of very specific variable cadence work. The main set was very mentally taxing but I found my legs getting super fatigued toward the end of the workout. It was a good type of hurt, which was then followed by a 25 minute run on the treadmill with a few 30 sec fast strides to open up the gait. In the evening, I had another run (well, power walk) on the treadmill for 45 minutes. This workout started with a 10 minute EZ jog and then I put on my 20-lb weight vest for a 34 minute interval main set of walking at a 15% incline. That workout had my legs shaking by the end but it felt so good to run for 5 minutes without the weight vest and at 0% incline.

    At least I had a nice view from my workout room.

    In the evening we watched the NBC coverage of the Ironman World Championship, which was incredible and super inspiring. Karel had a RETUL bike fit on Sat (and then again on Sunday) so we recorded the show for the evening.  Although I am still happy with my decision to turn down my Kona slot after winning my age group (and overall female amateur) at Ironman Chattanooga, I do believe that the Big Island of Kona is magical and I can't wait to return in October to watch Karel compete in his 3rd IM Kona.

    On Sunday morning I opted to run outside, even though my workout would have been perfect for the treadmill. The sky was sunny and the snow had melted on the roads so it was safe enough to workout outside, even though the temperature was a tad cold (low 30's). I really enjoyed my long run which totaled almost 11 miles. The miles ticked away very quickly as the main set was a speed play set with different efforts throughout a 19-minute main set. This required me to really stay in-tune with my body which kept me engaged and present. I performed the main set twice and finished the workout with 2 x ~10 minute steady efforts. It was tough to get my legs moving again after the MS but it forced me to focus on my form (over pace) while running on tired legs (we call this fatigue based running form or FBRF).

    One of my favorite quotes says "You can't get much done if you only work on the days when you feel good" by Jerry West. I think this saying holds true for the weather that you can't just train on the days when the weather is too your liking. I'm not one to complain about the weather. Good or bad, I love to move and use my body as it does as much for me physically as it does mentally and emotionally. And if weather is not ideal outside, I have no trouble working out indoors. I always remind myself how lucky I am to do what I can do with my body and there are many people in this world who do not have the freedom or opportunity to workout on a daily basis. 


    The Art of Triathlon Training - Learning from Dirk Bockel

    It's a pretty cool experience when you can learn from an Olympian and Ironman champion.

    On Tuesday evening, we had the honor of hosting an event at the Carolina Triathlon store with guest speaker Dirk Bockel. Recently retired professional triathlete, Dirk brings 27 years of experience, knowledge, stories, wisdom and strategies to help triathletes feel prepared for a race.

    But this isn't just another triathlon training book. Dirk's passion for the sport of triathlon has helped him navigate through the stressors of life, surviving many lows that went along with his highs. In his book, he shares with us his strategies for how to create a successful and enjoyable triathlon journey.

    During the talk, there were a few big takeaways that I found very beneficial for athletes:
    • Dirk performed at his best when he switched coaches and reduced his weekly training volume almost in half.
    • Dirk placed 3rd in his first Ironman and ran sub 3 hours after overcoming a foot injury that kept him from running more than 30 minutes on land in the month leading up to his race (only water jogging).
    • Dirk was always told that he was a "bigger" athlete and would not be successful on the run. He consistently ran sub 3 hours in the Ironman distance.
    • Dirk had several serious injuries, most notable was breaking his hand 10 days out from Ironman Kona (while training in Kona). He had finished 4th in Kona the year prior and felt as if he was in the best shape of his life. Despite a broken hand, he finished 10th.
    • Dirk used mental skills to visualize himself in a race well before it happened.
    • Dirk recommends that brick runs are no more than 15-30 minutes off the bike.
    • Dirk made himself a medal before his first Ironman and used that as motivation to help him train for the event.
    • Dirk is donating profits to: To walk again and SOS Villages D'Enfants Monde

    So much of Dirk's training was mind games and the mental/visual aspect of training and racing along with having great trust in his coach.

    To hear more from Dirk's talk, you can check out the entire chat on our Facebook page:

    For more information about the book and his Facebook mentorship page: visit HERE.
    Check out this great interview with Dirk on the Intelligent Racer Podcast: click HERE.


    Drive for athletic leanness

    For much of my career as a Board Certified Sport Dietitian with a Master of Science in exercise physiology, I have spent a great amount of time and energy helping athletes with their relationship with food and the body. Knowing that athletes feel a strong relationship between food and body composition relating to athletic success, I have never refrained from speaking about this topic openly and honestly for many years in an effort to help athletes stay healthy throughout a sporting career (and for many more decades to come). I have even reached out to many magazines (and publishing companies) to write more about the topic of body image and athletes but my pitches are often denied and in exchange, I am asked to write about the latest diet fad or nutrition strategy to help athletes gain the competitive edge.

    In light of another recent social media post involving a professional athlete discussing body image struggles and restrictive eating measures, I am reminded that I have a very small voice in the big world of athletics as it relates to being heard but I refuse to stop expressing my thoughts and concerns as to how athletes eat and fuel for endurance sports as there is a safe way to achieve athletic excellence without compromising health and performance.

    Sadly, our culture is obsessed with leanness. It's far too often that an athlete is praised for being lean and competitively fit, which drives the athlete to assume that leanness is the key to athletic success, self-confidence and notoriety. On a daily basis, athletes receive persistent spoken/written/viewed messages about body composition and performance/fitness from social media, magazines, books, notable athletic figures, coaches and other experts which reinforces the need to look a certain way - often at any cost (health, performance and quality of life).

    Without even the slightest disclaimer that there can be great physical and psychological damage that stems from being strict, ritualistic, rigid and anxious about eating when training for an athletic event, athletes literally feed off the reinforcement given by society when the body becomes more athletically "acceptable" in terms of body composition.

    Every time an athlete is glorified for experiencing athletic success while achieving/maintaining a lean, toned and fit body composition, there's a good probability that society is rewarding unhealthy eating and training behaviors. Eventually resulting in low energy availability (RED-S), there are great health and performance consequences to overtraining and undereating.

    There's no denying that a fit and strong body is what every athlete strives to achieve come race day and to achieve a body that can survive the demands of race day, training and nutritional adaptations can be made to foster performance improvements. But without optimal health, the body image that you achieve is all for nothing if you can't do much with it on race day.

    What's the point of having a lean body if you can't do anything with it when you are asked to perform at your best?  Far too many athletes are training and not eating for an image competition instead of an athletic competition.

    Although more and more athletes are speaking openly about personal struggles with eating and body image, there is still a strong taboo with disordered eating and eating disorders. There are some brave athletes who openly admit to some type of body image struggle or disordered eating/eating disorder habits during or at the end of a sporting career (often concurrent with a serious health issue, debilitating injury or mental health disorder) but we can not overlook the fact that a great amount of athletes are secretly training with a very restrictive diet in an effort to change body image, often encouraged, inspired and counseled by a coach or nutrition expert.

    Knowing that goal-oriented, highly disciplined and competitive athletes who like to feel control in life and base self-worth, athletic readiness and confidence on a certain body image, are at greatest risk for an eating disorder, it's critical that coaches and professional experts address their own personal relationships with food and the body prior to delivering nutrition advice. I personally believe that due to the many uncredible nutrition experts and weight-focused coaches providing unethically safe advice to athletes, athletes are led to believe that the best/only/most effective way to experience performance gains is to change body composition through dietary/fueling manipulation and training.

    Because there is such a very thin line between maintaining your health, having longevity in your sport and maintaining quality of life and achieving athletic excellence on race day with a forced body composition change, if an athlete has even the most smallest struggle or occasional thoughts about body image or restrictive eating strategies in an effort to improve performance or to change body composition, it's highly recommended and encouraged to seek help from a trusted, credible and sport dietitian who specializes in your sport and understands how to counsel athletes who suffer from poor body image thoughts and a tendency/desire to intentional restrict food/fuel.

    Before a serious health issue negatively affects your performance, now is the time to ask yourself....

    What's driving your need for athletic leanness? 


    Super simple homemade cinnamon rolls

    Over the past few weeks, Karel and I have been enjoying the occasional longish swim to start our Saturday morning. There's something about a long swim that revs up the appetite (not complaining).

    I remember back to my high school and college swimming days when that Saturday morning swim was complete it meant two things:
    1) I could officially start my weekend.
    2) Eat. All. The. Food!

    During our swim this past Saturday, the image of cinnamon rolls kept popping into my head. If you know me well, you know that I love cinnamon rolls because well, I love cinnamon and bread.

    Rather than heading to a bakery to buy a cinnamon roll, I decided to take my first attempt at making homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch. I found a recipe that was super easy to follow so after my recovery drink, I started baking (well, first I had to make a quick stop to the grocery when I realized we were out of flour!).

    Enjoy this tasty recipe!

    Super simple homemade cinnamon rolls



    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 tbsp white sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    3 tbsp butter (softened)
    3/4 cup milk
    1 egg

    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 tbsp ground cinnamon

    (Note: I did not make the icing as Karel and I are not big icing fans. While I won't turn down a yummy cinnamon roll with icing from a local bakery, I'd rather enjoy my cinnamon filled bread without the extra sweet icing. If you'd like to add icing, I suggest a cream cheese icing like this one).

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch square baking dish with melted butter (or cooking spray). 
    2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. 
    3. Work in 3 tbsp softened butter into the flour mixture using your hands. 
    4. Beat milk and egg together in another bowl. 
    5. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.
    6. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and roll dough into a 1/4th thick rectangle.
    7. Whisk together the filling ingredients. Sprinkle 1/2-3/4th the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough (I didn't use all the sugar mixture. Instead, I saved the extra cinnamon sugar mixture in a jar to use for oatmeal and other breakfast toppings.)
    8. Roll the dough to form a log and cut into small rolls (I made mostly medium size cinnamon rolls and a few mini rolls).

    9. Place rolls in baking dish. 
    10. Bake for 22-25 minutes.
    11. Remove from oven and enjoy (this would be the part where you would add icing if you choose). 
    Don't forget to yum! 


    Affordable holiday gifts for the health conscious athlete

    For a health conscious athlete, it can be tough to find that perfect holiday gift that supports an active and healthy lifestyle. Whether your friend/family member appears as if he/she already has everything training/nutrition/cooking/gear related or you are stumped finding that special present that caters to caters to a healthier lifestyle, I have a few affordable gift options that may just do the trick (and when you purchase a gift from these companies, you are also supporting small/growing businesses).

    Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. 
    Price: $22.49

    If your health conscious athlete likes to cook (or eat healthy), there's probably a good chance that your special athletic someone already has the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook. Although the next version of this cookbook will not be released until August 2018, surprise your friend/family member with a pre-order the cookbook so that he/she will be the first to try out the new recipes (for hangry athletes) next summer. 

    Mg12 Sport 
    Price: $9.95-$13.95 (athletic bundle $45.95)
    Discount code: Trimarni

    Every athlete is bound to have sore muscles after an intense or long workout or race. Niggles and aches are just part of the territory as it relates to training for an event. But aches and niggles are not limited to athletes as any fitness enthusiast will agree that it's no fun dealing with pain.

    Mg12 Sport Balm (along with the roll on and salts) have played an important role in my training over the past two years. When I first approached and introduced to Mg12, I was a bit skeptical of another pain relieving cream but after reviewing the ingredient list and seeing the quality of ingredients, along with trying out the product and experiencing instant feedback that the magnesium cream was easy to apply with no strong odor or greasy/sticky after effect, I was hooked on the product. I use the balm before every workout and then I rub on any sore spots before I got to bed. I highly recommend supporting Mg12 as they are a small company but they have created something extra special in the pain-relieving category for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

    Price: $12.99-$26.99
    Discount code: trimarni

    Ingredients matter to me and the products that I support, recommend and use. When I was approached by Amrita, I was pleased to see the delicious flavors of minis and bars as well as the quality ingredients in each product. As I nibbled my way through each flavor, I was delighted that the taste and consistency matched my expectations. Certified non-GMO, kosher, dairy free, gluten free, soy free, vegan, high protein (plant based), no artificial flavors or sugar alcohols - each Amrita product will please the taste buds of your friend/training partner/family member who has dietary restrictions or is looking for a guilt-free, nutritious and healthy indulgence.

    Price: $6.50-$27 (12  x 8 ounce bottles)
    Discount: Trimarnicoach30

    You've probably heard that there are many benefits of tart cherry juice. Well, Cheribundi has your needs covered with a wide range of products. With powerful health benefits, all Cheribundi products are natural, not from concentrate and made in the USA. We have experimented with the regular cherry juice, rebuild and relax and have been pleased with the taste and effects. As you may have seen, Karel and I will often bring a Cheribundi rebuild with us to a race to immediately consume post race to help with the muscle damage that occurred during a race. I also enjoy sipping on the tart cherry juice after an intense workout. Karel has found the relax drink to help him fall asleep during peak training blocks and before a race. This makes for a perfect gift for your athlete-in-training. 

    Price: $7.50-$21.50
    Discount: Trimarni2017

    If you love trail mix like I do, you will love Veronica's Health Crunch. A healthy alternative to many processed sugar-filled snacks, Veronica has been a long time Trimarni supporter, ever since she approached us about her "idea" to make hand-made, all natural trail mix varieties for active individuals. And now with three delicious flavors (the cinnamon apple cranberry is my favorite), you can feel great about this healthy meets delicious product while supporting Veronica's small business. Perfect for traveling, snacking or a topping to oatmeal, yogurt or pancakes/waffles, you must believe me when I say that this crunch is so tasty that you won't stop yumming with every bite.

    Lastly, here are a few good reads available for athletes/triathletes:

    The art of triathlon by Dirk Bockel - $27.99

    Fast track athlete by Matt Dixon
    - $13.56

    The brave athlete by Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson - $16.96

    How bad do you want it by Matt Fitzgerald - $12.88


    2018 Trimarni training plans - NOW AVAILABLE!!

    High fives for a successful 2017 racing season!

    At the end of every season, Karel and I sit down and talk about our coaching methods. We discuss what worked and what didn't work for each athlete and for our athletes as a whole. We evaluate the workouts that most of our athletes benefited from and should be repeated in the upcoming season and what workouts can be discarded. We talk about everything like our education delivery, how we communicate with our athletes, creating the ideal taper week for a half or full distance Ironman, how to best bring our athletes together as a team, the placement of certain workouts and how to keep our athletes healthy, motivated and enjoying the training journey. This discussion allows us to keep learning and so our workouts do not become stale and boring (no athlete likes stale and boring training).

    We put a lot of thought into our training and although it's a ton of work, we don't repeat the same training after year. This is not limited to our training plans but also to our one-on-one coaching. Whereas it may seem like the "off-season" or October, November and December are slow months for coaches, they are actually our busiest months as we find ourselves staying extremely occupied with creating new training plans and formulating new workouts for the upcoming year. We also remade our strength training videos which took a lot of time.

    New training requires a lot of brain power and time but it's a process that shouldn't be rushed as our athletes trust our methods and deserve training that is practical, effective and safe. While the periodization and workout focus may be similar from one season to the next, we like to change things up and keep our training new and fresh to ensure steady development and progression.
    As coaches (and top age group endurance athletes), we have a wide range of workouts to select from when it comes to creating our Foundation, Olympic, Half and Full distance Ironman training plans. 

    Understanding that every athlete is different, we carefully select the workouts that have been tried out by our one-on-one athletes (and by us) that we feel will work best for the masses. We put as much attention and detail into our training plans as we do for our own coaching athletes. While a training plan is not for everyone, as some athletes seek one-on-one coaching, we take great pride in our training plans so that you can gain the necessary confidence, endurance, resilience, strength and skills for your upcoming triathlon event. 

    I'm so happy to say that our 2018 Trimarni training plans are now available!!!

    We have four detailed, well-designed plans to choose from: 
    • 8-week Foundation plan
    • 20-week Olympic distance plan
    • 20-week Half Ironman distance plan
    • 20-week Ironman distance plan
    Each plan includes: 
    • Email delivery of your plan via Training Peaks - you can choose your preferred start date of the plan and apply to your own person Training Peaks account. 
    • Strength training video links, structured workout and recommended sets/reps - included in every plan! 
    • A detailed workout prescription and focus for the workout.
    • Treadmill and outdoor run workouts.
    • Trainer and outdoor bike workouts (most bike workouts will include a trainer option).
    • Pool workouts and a few open water swim workouts.
    • "Checkpoint" week (aka testing) - results can be uploaded into our custom zone calculator (emailed to you). Note: the foundation plan does not include checkpoints. 
    • Welcome packet - detailed information about Trimarni training and recommended equipment/gear for your Trimarni training. 

    Why choose a 2018 Trimarni training plan?
    Trimarni training plans are designed for self-sufficient, goal-oriented, committed triathletes of all fitness levels who seek structured training with a well-designed training plan. The Trimarni training plans are designed to help you maximize your fitness, without sabotaging your health as we take away the guessing so that you can avoid haphazard training. With a clear focus for every workout, we are confident that our plans will keep your motivation high while minimizing burnout and risk for injury. Our plans provide the right mix of challenge and skill as you prepare for your upcoming event.

    To learn more about our plans and to purchase, click HERE.


    Book tour with Dirk Bockel

    2008 Olympian
    2011 4th Ironman World Championship
    2013 Ironman Roth champion - 7:52:01
    2014 Asia-Pacific Champion at Ironman Melbourne
    Raced for Leopard Trek and BMC Pro Triathlon Team
    27-year triathlon career

    Recently retired professional triathlete Dirk Bockel will be stopping by Greenville, SC as part of his book tour on December 5th. Dirk will be sharing some of his best triathlon racing stories and answering your training and racing questions, while also promoting his new book package: THE ART OF TRIATHLON TRAINING: A Proven Guide For Your Triathlon Journey. 

    For most professional athletes, no sporting career is without it's highs and deep, dark lows. Dirk's long sporting career was not without obstacles and setback, along with some memorable highlights. He will be sharing his best lessons learned (and perhaps a few well-kept secrets to athletic excellence). We could not be more excited to hear his tips and stories!

    Even if you aren't a triathlete, I highly recommend to attend this motivational event as Dirk is a great speaker and he has a strong passion for health and fitness. 

    Dirk will have autographed copies of his book available for purchase For full information on his books visit his website here.  

    To learn more about Dirk, check out this recent podcast interview with The Intelligent Racer Podcast:
    Listen HERE.

    We invite you to this fun, educational and inspiring event at the Carolina Triathlon Store on December 5th from 6-8pm EST.

    Any questions, feel free to send me an email.