Essential Sports Nutrition

5/1/19

Smudla, we will always love you

Feb 15th, 2003 - April 30th, 2019
May 30th, 2006. 8:11pm. I received an email from Karel, letting me know that he was looking forward to meeting me the next day on a group bike ride. At the end of his email, Karel made sure to let me know that he had a roommate....who was a girl......named Šmudla. He sent me the following two pictures.



Šmudla is the Czech translation for Dopey from Snow White and the seven dwarfs. After getting to know Karel a bit more over the summer, I realized the Smudla and Karel shared a very special bond.


Three years before I met Karel, he was working three jobs. Trying to make a life for himself in America, his work was exhausting. There really wasn't a lot to his day except for working and trying to get a little sleep between jobs. There was very little money for food or clothing and there certainly wasn't any bike riding. Not able to speak much English, Karel didn't have many friends.

The day after Valentines day in Georgia, before Karel headed back to his home in Clearwater, FL, he stopped by the pet store next door to where he was working to visit the cats in the window. Karel has always loved cats. And there was this little kitten, just 6 weeks old, crying for Karel to take her. She was wild and energetic. With little money to his name, Karel managed to pay the $70 adoption fee and called her Smudla - which can also be translated to "messy."


Smudla spent her first few years of life as an outdoor cat. Because Karel traveled so much for various jobs, Smudla was free to room the neighborhood. 


In between her naps, she would climb trees, chase birds, tease the neighbors with her good looks and explore. 


She was always up to something. 

Or in something. 


Or on something. 


Or trying to find something.  


She was a curious cat with no fears. 


As a "tortoiseshell" cat, she lived up to her "tortitude." She had a very strong and forceful personality. 


Smudla loved Karel. She was always there when he came home and demanded lots of attention from him. She was always interested in whatever bag or box Karel brought home - which was always so much better than any purchased "cat house" that Karel decided to surprise Smudla with.



Smudla loved boxes. She was very curious and bold. She knew how to demand attention and was afraid of nothing. Regardless of who came into the house, she was quick to tell that person what she wanted.


In addition to boxes, Smudla loved drinking from a faucet. She was never one to drink from the water bowl. There was something about the running sink water that was so much better than the water from the bowl. 



Because of Smudlas "tortitude" she always got what she wanted...or at least she tried her best to get the attention of anyone around to help her get what she wanted.

When I cam into Karel's life, I instantly feel in love with Smudla. However, I was not thrilled that she was an outdoor cat as this made me worry about her. After just a few months of dating, I told Karel that Smudla needs to be an indoor cat. Karel's first responses was "Smudla will not like that." And oh, was Smudla not happy with me and that decision.

I remember the first night I spent the night with Karel. He left early for work and shortly after, I was getting myself ready to leave for work. Smudla was no where in sight and as soon as I opened the door to leave, there she was running right past me, making her escape outside. I quickly called Karel "Smudla escaped!" and he told me "She will be just fine." Of course, now that I felt like Smudla was my cat, I was so worried and had to find her and bring her home before I left. Smudla was not too happy about my new role in her life, especially as someone who was getting more of Karel's attention. 

After moving from Clearwater, FL to Jacksonville, FL in 2008, Smudla was starting to warm-up to me as her new "mom." But then came Campy and I was back on her bad list again in October of 2008. After Karel and I got married a few weeks later, Smudla slowly adapted to this new furry creature in the house.


And then came Madison. Smudla was not happy about this new arrangement. Madison wanted so badly for Smudla to like her but Smudla wanted nothing of it. Smudla would often look the other way, never making much eye contact. 



Smudla was not a mean cat. She just had a very strong personality and always had an opinion. You could see it in her face. We would often play a game of "what is Smudla thinking" and create a dialogue as if Smudla was talking to us or to Madison or Campy.

Over the years, Smudla become fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable. But all in a great way. She loved being in the garage with Karel, especially when he was doing a bike fit or fixing his bike. Her morning routine was laying by Karel on the kitchen table as he worked on the computer. She always had to have one paw on his keyboard........probably to annoy him :) 

As she got older, she began to run the house - letting us know when she wanted to eat and drink. It didn't matter what time of the day, she was sure to show us who was boss. She would knock stuff off the dresser, scratch on the door and cry until she got what she wanted. Oh Smudla. 


As we moved from apartment, to town home, to rental home to our house, Smudla loved the moving process....so many boxes and places to hide. Although she hated riding in the car, she was never afraid of being somewhere new for it was a new opportunity to explore.


She loved suitcases and bags and anything she could find to sneak inside. 


Smudla always told us what she wanted. She even knew how to tell Joey (our neighbor who regularly watched Smudla when we traveled) what food or treats she wanted. Anytime we would come back from a trip, Joey let us know what new food Smudla liked. Smudla was an easy cat who lived a fun and adventurous life. 


Eventually, Smudla let us know that she only wanted to eat on the counter (because it was close to the sink faucet). We obliged.


Smudla often slept with one paw over her face. We would joke "Oh so sorry Smudla, we will turn down the lights for you."




Smudla always had a special spot in the house. This spot would change every week or two. It was always a fun adventure to try to find her new spot. 


Boxes were always her favorite...especially when lined with crunchy paper. 



As Smudla got a bit older, she remained in great health. She only saw the vet two or three times between the ages of 14-16. It wasn't until the last few months that we noticed that she was beginning to age very quickly. 


After turning 16 this year, Smudla started to show her softer side. She didn't mind the company of Campy and Madison. 


Over the past few months, Madison started to follow Smudla around the house. Wherever Smudla would rest, Madison wanted to be as close as possible to her. 


Seeing that Smudla was getting closer to her later years of life, we made sure to give Smudla everything that she wanted. With her appetite changing, she was able to eat whatever she wanted. 


With Madison constantly watching over Smudla, we knew that our time left with Smudla may be short. Of course, we didn't want to believe it or accept it. 


Smudla became much more affectionate over the past few weeks and made sure to always show us how much she loved us. 



As Smudla lost weight, we made sure to keep the windows open as she was craving warmth, sun and fresh air.


Over the past two weeks, Smudla spent a lot of time outside....which is where she loved to be as a young kitten. We are thankful that the weather was so lovely for Smudla to enjoy. 


Smudla spent several hours each day (spread out throughout the day), laying in the sun and enjoying the fresh air. 

Smudla had come full circle. On Monday April 29th, we had to make the hardest decision that we've ever had to make. 


Karel shared the past 16.5 years of his life with Smudla. They have been through so many life events together. The bond that they shared will never be forgotten or replaced.


Smudla gave me 13 incredible years of love and memories. She was such a special cat to me and I will never forget her sweet and bold personality. 


After we made the decision that we would need to say "see you later" to Smudla on April 30th at 11am, we made sure to shower Smudla with our love for the next 24 hours.


While this has been an extremely emotional time for us, we want to thank the Pointsett Animal Hospital for helping us through this process. The staff was compassionate and caring and allowed us to spend as much time as we needed with Smudla during the entire process of saying good-bye to her. While an extremely difficult moment in our life, the staff made us feel comfortable and at peace with our decision.

Thank you for taking the time to read about Smudla and the impact that she had in our life. She will be greatly missed. 







4/30/19

Appreciate your body image


We all come in different sizes and shapes based on our unique genetic make-up. However, it’s common to turn to exercise to change the way that you look. Some athletes may desire a body composition change to help improve endurance, speed, strength, power and agility. Others may want to improve health. While health and performance may be of interest, athletes are often heavily invested in appearance - wanting to look leaner or more like the idealized image of an athlete in their sport. Keeping in mind that athletic success cannot be predicted based solely on body weight and composition, athletes come in vastly different body compositions. Because no two athletes are alike and sports invite athletes of all different sizes and builds, your body weight should not be your sole focus for sport enjoyment. 

Due to pressure from society and coaches, it’s not uncommon for many athletes to have body image struggles, despite not being overweight or over fat. In turn, many athletes resort to unsafe weight loss methods and strategies when feeling "too fat."

It’s not uncommon for athletes to significantly limit caloric intake, believing that a body that weighs less will lead to athletic success. Harmful or 
obsessive eating behaviors are often used in attempt to achieve a lower than normal body weight or in pursuit of an extremely healthy diet. Examples include rigid or righteous eating, fasting, anxiety, control or preoccupation with certain foods, food rituals, extreme concern with body size and elimination of food groups. 

Unfortunately, comments made by coaches, body shaming, fat talk, attributing poor performances on weight, and regular weighing intensify body image concerns, leading to disordered eating behaviors. Because many athletes are given a socially acceptable setting to justify excessive exercise and strict eating habits, it’s not uncommon for the performances by an energy starved athlete to be celebrated by coaches and on social media. Bear in mind that any initial performance improvement occurring from unhealthy weight loss is typically short-lived as nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, anemia, reduced cardio function, chronic illnesses or injuries and low motivation will eventually impair physical and mental health. 

If you are struggling with body image problems or fear gaining fat/weight, remind yourself that sport participation should improve the health of your body – not destroy it.  

As you learn to love your body image, I wanted to share this quote passed along to me by one of my athletes. 


4/29/19

Are you enjoying your athletic journey?


For athletes, it's easy to make an event the only focus in your life. But, in doing so, it's easy to become single-minded as you become laser-focused in pursuit of your goal. In turn, you forget what truly matters - the journey. Life is busy and stressful. Without even realizing it, you may find that you are never living in the moment but instead, constantly thinking about your future. 

When I approach my training/workouts for the day, I am driven by the experience. In other words, I never waste a workout - no matter the day or the training session, there's always something to look forward to and I feel grateful for the ability to train. I don't think about the outcome, but the process. 

Motivated for self improvement, the journey is what I love. The little decisions, nailing the basics and having fun are very important to me. This doesn't mean that I don't have goals and I don't work hard but my athletic goals don't dictate my life. 

Appreciate what your body allows you to do and be grateful for the ability to use your body. If you find yourself stressing over outcomes or comparing yourself to someone else, remind yourself that training should be fun. When there's a strong element of enjoyment in your athletic journey, you'll feel a greater sense of personal satisfaction, well before you reach the start line of your event.

Training for an event is much more than being physically prepared for race day. Sport teaches you patience, problem solving, courage, bravery, time-management, discipline, organization and responsibility. Training for an athletic event helps you become more prepared for life.
If you have recently found yourself feeling overwhelmed by a race day goal (or event), take a step back and just focus on doing the best that you can....today. Enjoy the road that leads you to your final destination because you don't want to look back and wish you would have done things differently.