Essential Sports Nutrition


Holiday gifts under $22

Are you on a budget or looking for a last-minute holiday gift?

I've compiled a list of a few of my favorite products from a few of the small businesses that are proud supporters of the Trimarni coaching team. 

Amrita Bars Starter Pack - $16.99
Discount Trimarni

MG12 Sport - $10.95-$14.95
Discount Trimarni

Discount ZupTrimarni18

Veronica's Health Crunch - $7.95-$21.50
Discount Trimarni2018

Run In - So many options!


It's time to break up with your food rules

I am a huge proponent of guidelines. By definition, a guideline provides boundaries. A guideline provide direction to take action. In contrast, a rule tells you what you are and are not allowed to do. Rules must be followed or else there will be negative consequences. Rules bring anxiety and stress.

Most of the time, there are no real consequences to breaking a guideline. However, rules are typically set as a way to enforce the right way that things should be done. If not, there are serious consequences.

In your everyday life, you likely adhere to both rules and guidelines - at work, in society, at home, with your family, etc.. For example, when you race in an athletic event, there are rules to ensure safety and fair play. At work, you may have guidelines to ensure a positive, safe and supportive work culture.

But what about food rules? Do you constantly live life following rules as to how you should and shouldn't eat?

As a board certified sport dietitian, I don't believe in food rules. I couldn't imagine living my life with rules as to how I have to eat unless it was for medical reasons. Sure, I have healthy eating patterns that I adhere to on a daily basis but I also know that nothing bad will happen when I enjoy the occasional treat. Sadly, many athletes don't live this way.

With good intentions, you may be adhering to food rules as a way to eat better and to improve performance. For example, a rule to always refuel after a workout is great advice. But a rule of "no carbs after 7pm" or "fruit is off-limit" is worrisome. When you live with food rules, every food-related situation or decision becomes stressful and brings anxiety and stress. Seeing that athletes often take guidelines too the extreme, there can be great consequences to adhering to food rules.

Following strict and unrealistic rules can result in physical, emotional and psychological issues, including nutrient deficiencies, hormonal disturbances, anxiety, depression and obsessive thinking.
Food rules can result in extreme preoccupation with food and body image. This can be exhausting - mentally and emotionally. For an athlete, the stress you place on your body through training is more than enough for your body to handle. Food rules have no place in an athlete's diet.

Do you feel as if you are a prisoner to your self-imposed food rules? 

Is the thought of deviating from your strict food rules causing you great anxiety, fear, worry and stress?  

Food rules create structure, order and control. This is why diets, like Whole 30, work.....temporarily. Food rules keep you "on track" by taking out the guesswork of eating. At first, food rules make eating easy, but eventually they come with a consequence. Either you break your food rules and go back to unhealthy eating habits or you become even more obsessed with eating, which increases the risk for disordered eating, which may develop into an eating disorder.

Breaking food rules can be very difficult for you've likely become rather accustomed to your food rituals. During your break-up period, it is very important that you do not focus on your body as your body is likely in a state of undernourishment. You've probably become out-of-tune with your body signals. Your digestive tract may be compromised due to disordered eating. When you've ignored your body cues and signals for fear of breaking a rule, the first step in your break-up is giving your body the nourishment it needs to heal from the damage that has been done by restrictive eating and disordered eating patterns.

Eventually, likely with the help of a professional, you will be able to engage in healthy, structured and enjoyable eating patterns that are not rigid, strict, controlled or obsessive. Health should improve, alongside body composition and performance. Once the break up is behind you, you'll be on your way of creating a personalized style of eating, free of guilt, anxiety and worry.

Are you ready for a break-up?


No Bake Jingle Balls

With so much on your holiday to-do list, you may be rolling your eyes at the thought of baking another holiday treat.

If you like quick and tasty, read on.

This no-bake recipe is easy to make with the family and it's sure to be a tempting crowd pleaser at your upcoming holiday party. Or, if you like to indulge in the occasional homemade treat, this recipe is for you. The best part..... you probably have most of the ingredients at home.

With so many overly sweet desserts around the holidays, you can feel great when eating your Jingle Balls. 

Jingle Balls
By Joey Mock, RD, LD, CLT

2 cups old fashioned oats
½ cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut flakes (plus an extra 2 Tablespoons reserved for rolling finished balls if desired)
¼ cup ground flaxseed meal
⅓ cup M&Ms Minis (red and green holiday ones)*
¾ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
⅓ cup honey

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. 
  2. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to set (this will make the balls easier to roll).
  3. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator. Use a tablespoon to scoop mixture** and roll into about 25 balls. If desired, place extra shredded coconut flakes on a plate and roll some or all of the balls in the flakes (for “snow” covered Jingle Balls). 
  4. Place on wax paper (or a sheet pan).
  5. Store balls in an airtight container or ziploc bag in the refrigerator or freeze for longer storage. 
  6. Enjoy.
*I found the M&M’s Minis in the holiday candy area (1-1.77 oz stocking stuffer sized tube is a good size if you don’t want a lot of leftovers). If you can’t find the Minis, coarsely chop the regular sized holiday M&M’s.

**Time saving tip: One of my favorite kitchen tools, an OXO 1 ½ Tablespoon cookie scoop, works great to quickly scoop the mixture into evenly sized balls. This tool would make a great holiday gift for anyone who regularly makes energy balls (and/or cookies :-)). 

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Recipe: Skillet Pesto Steak and Pasta

Skillet Pesto Steak and Pasta
By Joey Mock, RD, LD, CLT

This recipe includes your carbs, protein, and fat in a one pot and one skillet meal. Not a red meat eater? Try substituting chicken and chicken broth or tofu and vegetable broth for the steak and beef broth. This dish is very flavorful and the leftovers are delicious! 


1 lemon, for zest (2 tsp) and juice (2 Tbsp)
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 lb. beef steak (such as sirloin or round)
~1 ½ tablespoons butter or olive oil
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried oregano
~5 oz dry pasta (such as bow tie, rotini, or penne)
8 oz presliced fresh baby portabella mushrooms
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 cup reduced sodium beef broth
1 (5-oz) package fresh baby spinach
¼ cup shredded Italian cheese blend

  1. Zest lemon (2 teaspoons) and squeeze for juice (2 tablespoons).
  2. Combine pesto, zest, and juice. Coat steak with 1 tablespoon pesto mixture (reserve the remainder for later).
  3. Preheat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat about 2–3 minutes. 
  4. Place butter, garlic powder, parsley, basil, and oregano in pan and swirl to coat. Add steaks and cook 3-8 minutes on each side or until brown and they reach desired doneness.* Transfer steaks to cutting board; let stand about 5–10 minutes before slicing.
  5. Cook pasta following package instructions in a separate pot. When cooked to desired doneness, drain pasta and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, increase heat to medium-high on the same pan used to cook the steak.
  7. Add mushrooms, minced garlic, pecans, and salt. Cook mushroom mixture 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender. 
  8. Stir broth, spinach, pasta, and remaining 3 tablespoons pesto mixture into mushrooms; simmer 3–4 minutes or until sauce thickens. Slice steaks and stir into pasta mixture.  
  9. Divide into serving bowls and top each with cheese and serve.
  10. Enjoy! 
*For medium-rare (an internal temperature of 135 degrees F), medium (140 degrees F) or for medium-well (150 degrees F). For beef steak, the USDA suggests a minimal internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes.

Adapted from: Aprons Pan-Roasted Steak Pasta with Pecans recipe.


Thoughts on the Dumplin Netflix Movie

I'm a sucker for a feel-good movie with a happy ending - especially one that promotes positive body image and learning to love yourself for who you are. I recently heard about Dumplin as a movie and decided to give it a watch.

As for the movie itself, there are a lot of great messages spread throughout the movie. Here's a general review on the movie: 

"To be sure, the strength of Dumplin' is very much in its true-to-life depiction of a plus-size teenage girl and how her self-image is both reflected in the way she views the world and her presumptions of how others see her. Willowdean is at the center of a complicated web crafted by society's expectations for how young women should look - expectations constantly upheld by her mother Rosie, who spends much of her own life focused on staying thin - and the empowerment and self-love her Aunt Lucy tried to instill in her from a young age. Willowdean struggles to not be defined by her weight in a world where she feels constantly defined by her weight, and the insecurities that arise from that struggle inform much of her story and the actions she takes. As a result, Dumplin' is one of the best coming-of-age films (if not the best) about a plus-size girl... though, frankly, very few such stories actually exist in Hollywood."

The movie has a very strong message of self-acceptance. I would encourage parents to watch this move with your child/teenager, as instilling self-acceptance at a young age is extremely important.

After watching this movie, I wanted to share my thoughts relating to the message behind the movie. T
he media puts a lot of focus on thin/lean/skinny - leading society to believe that this "ideal" image is worth striving for because if you reach it, you'll be happy and successful. This movie is challenging and removing the stigma around the "perfect" body image - sending the message that you can be successful and happy at any size. Seeing that this ideal image is an unrealistic and unhealthy ideal, often causing feelings of shame, guilt and low self-confidence, I appreciate that there is a movie encouraging body acceptance.

As a Sport Dietitian, I never tell my athletes that they need to lose weight. When an athlete wants to work with me on nutrition, I never put the attention on weight or use weight as a barometer of progress/success. Instead, I strive to teach athletes about behavior modifications and and principles of proper fueling. I help athletes overcome psychological and lifestyle barriers that may be keeping the athlete from reaching personal health, body composition and performance goals. I focus on long-lasting changes, not quick fixes. Ultimately, I want athletes to focus on their health and physical and mental well-being and to have a desire to live a healthier lifestyle, instead of trying to achieve a "look."

In reference to the Dumplin movie, here are a few tips to help you with self-acceptance if you are struggling with your body image:

  1. Have compassion for everyone. When you treat other people with respect, you'll have more respect for yourself. 
  2. Be kind to yourself. Often, the voice in your head loves to beat yourself up. Instead, be more compassionate to yourself. 
  3. Take the focus off your weight. Celebrate your strengths and abilities, regardless of how you look. You are worthy, no matter what. 
  4. Accept and like yourself the way you look right now. Don't try to change your body to fit the way you think you should look. You are more than a weight/image. 
  5. Respect yourself emotionally and physically. Focus on your whole self, not just your body. 
  6. Surround yourself with people who recognize your qualities and like you just the way you are. 
  7. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, depressed or anxious in life? Don't take your feelings out on your body.