Essential Sports Nutrition


Sport Nutrition Product Review - Hot Shot

Flex Innovation Group, LLC
Boston, MA 

About the Company from the website:Invented by a nobel-prize winning neuroscientist/endurance athlete and his friend, a neurobiology profession at Harvard.Dr. Rod MacKinnon and his friend, Dr. Bruce Bean, were deep sea kayaking in the winter when they were both seized with life-threatening muscle cramps. They experienced such debilitating pain that neither could steady their kayaks. Over the next five years, Rod and Bruce worked to unravel the mystery and discover this surprising truth: when it comes to preventing muscle cramps, it’s not about treating the muscle, it’s about treating the nerve.

Certified Organic by QAI
NSF Certified for Sport


Label Claims:

Sports Shot with a Kick

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1.7 fl oz (50 ml)
Calories: 30
Total Carb: 7 g
Sugars: 6 g
Sodium: 40 mg

Filtered water, organic cane sugar, organic lime juice, organic gum arabic, sea salt, pectin, organic stevia extract, natural flavor, organic cassia oil, organic ginger extract, organic capsaicin extract.

How It Works: 

  1. Drinking HOTSHOT stimulates sensory neurons in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.
  2. Stimulated neurons send impulses to the spinal cord.
  3. These impulses overpower and inhibit repetitive signals coming to and from the cramped muscle. 
  4. This stops repetitive signals and prevents and/or treats the cramp.

Our notes:

  • Spicy
  • Use caution with GERD
  • Appropriate for athletes prone to cramping


It's National Nutrition Month!

Once a year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the organization by which I am credentialed and qualified to provide nutrition advice) dedicates the month of March to a themed campaign that brings attention to "the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits."

For 2018, the theme is "Go Further with Food."

I really love the theme this year because it can mean so many different things for everyone. To my, the theme means giving a purpose (and appreciation) to everything that I put into my body. In other words, I choose to make every bite count.

Prepping food in advance, planning ahead, cutting back on food waste, managing food resources appropriately, protecting the environment and supporting local farmers are some of the many ways that you "Go Further with Food."
Here are a few suggestions from 
  1. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  2. Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  3. Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
  4. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  5. Continue to use good food safety practices.
  6. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  7. Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

  • For more educational handouts and materials, click HERE.
  • Here's a great article on the importance of reducing food waste: Click HERE.
  • Here's a great read on reasons to support local farms: Click HERE

How will you Go Further With Food this month? 


Low(er) volume, high intensity training for endurance triathlon events

The definition of "high" or "low" volume training can vary from athlete to athlete. While I consider our training volume to be low compared to what some athletes do when training for an endurance triathlon event, it may also be seen as "high" volume compared to what other athletes do for long workouts. Since much of our weekly volume occurs from frequent training sessions (instead of two "long" workouts each week), I'd say that we have the right mix of intensity, frequency and volume to encourage training adaptations without risking injury or burnout. Certainly, this was years in the making with lots of trial and error and many athlete case studies to learn from.

Last year I was interviewed for a Triathlete magazine article on this topic of high/low volume training. I really enjoyed providing my insights on this topic for I feel many endurance triathletes adhere to haphazard training which includes high volume workouts. weekend after weekend. often in a sleep-deprived, poorly nourished state, that lack specificity and structure. In other words, the investment into training "long" does not pay off on race day as the athlete ends up burnt-out, injured or sick.  On the flip side, many athletes procrastinate with training and then suddenly ramp up training volume, which over-stresses the body and doesn't allow adequate time for physiological adaptations.

While there may be a right way to train for an endurance events and a wrong way to train, what's right or wrong for you is specific to you and only you. In today's social media, always connected world, it's easy to compare your training to someone else, feeling as if you are never doing "enough".  I believe that it takes time to "build" an endurance triathlete and it can't be done in one or two seasons. Just because you sign up for a half or full distance Ironman, this doesn't mean that the "right" type of training for you is loads of high volume workouts. Typically, we feel it takes a good 2-3 consistent-training years to gradually build a solid foundation of endurance training stress to be able to feel fully prepared to "race" in a half or full Ironman distance triathlete. And even if you don't plan to "race" a long distance triathlon event, this doesn't mean that you should skip steps or rush the process of preparing your body to handle long training sessions.

"In a time when likes and comments on social media give us instant validation of a workout well done, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the mindset that when it comes to training volume, bigger is better. After all, if your buddy is racking up the kudos for his weekly 20-mile runs and 75-mile rides while your Tuesday night three-miler goes unloved, it’s only natural to want to ramp up the mileage. But with heavy training comes the obvious risk of injury or burnout. And, often, those extra miles are just not worth it—or necessary."

To read more on this topic, you can check out the entire interview/article and my sample workouts below.....

Execute low volume-high intensity training


20 tips to get out of your own way

Have you ever said to yourself "I know what I should be doing but I can't seem to do it!"

Life is busy, stressful and exhausting so it's no surprise that excuses and barriers keep you from doing what you know you should be doing. But what if your life didn't have to be this way?

If you are tired of getting into your own way, here are my tips to lift yourself up, gain control over your mind, work through fears and doubts, break down barriers and move closer to your goals.  

  1. Celebrate small accomplishments. 
  2. Don't aim for perfectionism.
  3. Silence the negative self-talk. 
  4. Stop procrastinating. Look for patterns when you push aside what is uncomfortable or difficult to accomplish. 
  5. Address self-sabotaging, habitual behavior. 
  6. Avoid over-committing yourself. 
  7. Learn to say no. 
  8. You are not your thoughts. 
  9. Focus on the present moment. 
  10. Push aside thoughts that are non-productive or make you feel bad. 
  11. Call out your self-defeating thoughts, like distractions, stress, fear, stubbornness, anxiety, self-consciousness, that are not serving you well. 
  12. Take responsibility for your bad habits and choices. 
  13. Do everything with great self-confidence, pride and appreciation. 
  14. Stop the rational lies that make it easy to stray from your path when you have an excuse for everything. 
  15. Address the daily decisions that you make and why you make them.
  16. Don't give into instant-gratification. 
  17. Be your biggest fan. You are good enough. 
  18. Don't be so critical/hard on yourself. 
  19. Catch yourself in negative thinking. Reframe situations. 
  20. Focus your thoughts and actions on what really matters the most to you. 


The windy long ride

My week of coaching, nutrition consults, writing articles and training caught up to me and on Friday, I was a bit more tired than usual. I adjusted my Friday workouts from 3 (swim, bike/run and strength) down to one so that the only thing I did was an EZ 60-minute spin on the trainer in the morning to loosen out my legs. Knowing that Saturday was another long workout for us (4.5 hour ride + run off the bike and then a PM run) but the predicted weather was cold in the morning, Karel and I decided to swim first and then ride in the late morning - pretty much we aborted our scheduled training for plan B. After 12 years of endurance triathlon training, I've learned not to get too fixated to what's on the schedule as sometimes plans need to change. I've also come to appreciate a change in weekend workouts as this prevents me from feeling burnt-out from putting my body through the same workouts weekend after weekend. 

Around 9am (when the Furman pool opened), we started our swim. While the swim was a little intense (MS was 15 x 100's, total 3300 yards), I left the pool feeling excited to ride. After another snack, it was time to head out for our ride around 11:30am.

Sadly, we didn't consider the wind that came through after the cold left us in the late morning/afternoon. Although the temperature was nice for an outdoor ride, the wind was not-so-nice. For the first 2:20 hours of ride, navigating up and down lots of climbs as we headed into North Carolina to Flat Rock Village Bakery, we battled some intense head winds. It was mentally and physically exhausting. There was little talking between me and Karel throughout this ride as it was one of those workouts where you try to quiet all the negative thoughts in your mind and just embrace the tough conditions. As if our terrain is not hard enough, I was finding myself frustrated by the wind, the bumps on the road and Karel's pace. So many times I just wanted to give up but I kept making deals with myself to just go a little further and a little further. As someone who doesn't enjoy riding in the wind, this was a great opportunity for me to embrace my fears and work on my weakness.

Once we arrived to the bakery for our quick stop, I was relieved that we would get some tailwind for the ride home. After a few bites of our bakery treats (pecan walnut bar for me and chocolate coconut macaroon for Karel), it was time to head back for our ride home.


So much for wishful thinking of tailwind. While we were getting a little push, the wind was to the side and it was fierce. Descending quickly down climbs, especially ones where the road twist and turns, was uncomfortable for me but I stayed calm and embraced our tough training conditions. Making sure to stay fueled/hydrated with my sport drink was critical to keep my brain sharp to better manage the conditions and our terrain, along with supplying carbs to my working muscles and to prevent a drop in blood sugar.

As the ride continued, I found myself more mentally than physically exhausted from our ride. The gusts of wind at my side had me riding very cautious. Even though our roads are fairly quiet from cars, I was still hesitant to take more risks in the wind as I wanted to get home in one piece. Normally, I love this route (I suggested this route to Karel before we left our house for our ride) but on Saturday, not so much. But there's always something to learn from training to apply to race day and my lesson learned was to stay in the moment and self-manage -  mentally and physically. This ride also gave me a lot of opportunities to practice my bike handling skills.

By the time that we got a few miles away from home, I was relieved to have this ride (almost) behind me. After returning home more exhausted than normal, we decided because of the windy ride and morning swim that we would not run off the bike and just call it a day - which was fine by me. It was nearing 4:30pm and I was ready to eat, cuddle with Campy, answer a few emails and rest my tired body. Ten hours of sleep did the trick and on Sunday morning, I felt much more rested for my morning workouts (1:40 hr trainer ride with high cadence intervals followed by a 45 minute treadmill run).

Many times, we train in a controlled, comfortable environment which brings confidence for race day but rarely is race day comfortable and controlled. While we should never put our health at jeopardy, sometimes it's ok to step outside of the comfort zone and embrace what you are not good at. For me, it's the wind. I'd like to think/hope that one day I will master riding in the wind and get excited for windy conditions on race day (and in training) but for now, I will continue to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and (try to) make friends with the wind.