Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fried and Scrambled

Interesting title, eh? Will I be talking about eggs? Perhaps but there is a bit more "peeling of the onion" that I would like to do before I make it to eggs.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to race my first sprint triathlon of the season with a group of my Junior triathletes (Teens that TRI). I was extremely excited for this as I love the energy they bring to a race. My last weekend of travels took a hit on my immune system so last week was spent resting, nursing a fever and body aches, and just overall not feeling well. It wasn't until the day before the race where I decided that I would race. It was a tough decision and I knew I wouldn't be 100% but I wanted to be at the race as Coach so why not race, right!

Fried...I had an okay race. Nothing spectacular and what I would term below average for me due to my immune system. An excuse? No. I train with metrics and knew exactly what I should have been able to do in the swim, on the bike and the run and the metrics just didn't line up on race day. I didn't let the illness in my head but just felt a bit off the entire day. A bit fried, if you will. I analyzed my metrics later that day after the race and confirmed that fried was a good way to describe my overall body feeling. Numbers were low, RPE was high, economy was just off.

I expected this going into the race but what was very interesting to me was to see how much less efficiency my body would give for the day. I don't think I had ever tried to test that out in a sprint triathlon. So, overall, I see it as a very positive experience in learning more about my body's ability and mental preparation going into a race. Some may say it was not wise to do that but I approach every race as a learning opportunity. This one specifically garnered me valuable experience to not only file in the data banks for the future but also to use as a teaching tool for my Junior triathlon team.

If you are wondering, I did manage to pull off the age-group victory (by over 3 minutes) but in a race like this, I should be competing for overall, not age-group awards. Am I upset? Not at all. Sometimes a placing doesn't provide you all of the meaningful information about yourself. Wise athletes will always look deeper for the true interpretation of the day's events...

Scrambled...the highlight of this race is the post-race food. It is known within the triathlon community for an unbelievable post-race buffet and they certainly did not disappoint!  This is what I call nutrition recovery in a true metabolically efficient manner!

Enjoy your week!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Do I have to eat dinner?

No, this is not a blog about trying to get kids to eat dinner. Rather, I thought I would let my travels once again spark a blog topic. I found myself traveling between three states in three days this past week and the last trip was once again with my Junior Triathlon team for a race in Washington.

As you can imagine, my dietary choices are watched closely by my athletes and parents. At our team dinner the night before the race, it was a BYOF (bring your own food). Many restaurants and dishes were represented and then there was the outcast, me, who was represented by a grocery store. Amidst pasta, chicken, salads, and sandwiches, I sat down with a tub of cottage cheese (with fat) and blueberries. Mixed together, this became my dinner.  Why you may ask (as others did)? Because I like these foods together, they are great for controlling blood sugar and to be honest, I just wasn't in the mood for restaurant food. I did top this off a bit later with some dark chocolate (85% cocao)!

It got me thinking about why our society believes that we must eat "meals" at meal times. I have been the "salmon swimming upstream" most of my career so why should my thought process on this topic be any different? Does breakfast, lunch, or dinner mandate a big sit down meal? In my world it does not and perhaps we can begin looking at these as, what I like to term, feedings instead of meals. It will take a paradigm shift to do this and you should be comfortable with receiving blank and questionable stares from colleagues and friends.

It's just a thought. You will have a few opportunities to feed your body throughout the day and control/optimize your blood sugar at the same time. This does not necessarily mean that you must conform to eating restaurant food all of the time if you are on the road. Listen to your body, identify your resources, and feed your body based on it needs and desires. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.

Enjoy your week!


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Winding down

I was reflecting on my busy weekend this evening, sitting in my hammock in my backyard when I started to ponder what "winding down" really means. Of course, it will be different for each person but specific to nutrition, what do you do to wind down? Have you ever really thought about this?

It's a profound thought because I am sure many people believe winding down nutritionally means cheating or disengaging from their "diet". I believe there is a deep behavior component to winding down which I would encourage you to search within yourself to discover. Winding down means relaxing my mind and body. Will letting my guard down produce a negative eating behavior or response?  For me, absolutely not because I am almost always in control of my perception to food and how it responds to my blood sugar.

However, the intuitive eating response may be blunted when you are tired, your mind "fried" from work or your body fatigued from training. If you find yourself eating something for no reason or are completely disengaged with the eating process (that is, the enjoyment of nutrients and satiety you receive from them), then you may have to spend a bit more reflection time in the behavior category.

Changing and adapting behavior is not easy and is, in fact, a lifelong skill development process. I would recommend one simple exercise to help you improve your behavioral realization process: ask the question, "Why?". Not in a negative sense but if you are reaching for something that you do not normally eat, ask yourself why and what is driving your behavior to make this choice. There is not a correct or incorrect answer. Rather, you are trying to become more intuitive with your eating in an effort to understand the "why" behind your food choices and how they are linked to your emotions.

Go ahead and wind down, enjoy some R&R but try to always engage with your "Why".

Until next week...


Monday, June 6, 2016

Planning, Preparation and Parfaits

This will be a short and sweet blog about one of my favorite issues that athletes normally have: what to eat while traveling.  I recently traveled to Wisconsin to coach a few of my Junior athletes at a draft-legal triathlon. My oldest son accompanied me as he was racing. This is important because the Sport Dietitian in me must be on high alert to ensure he navigates his nutrition to support optimal performance.

When I travel, I make it a point to bring a few necessities with me which typically includes a light trail mix, Generation UCAN snack bars and a few packets of UCAN protein. These are what I refer to as my “emergency foods”. I am delayed in an airport, can’t find a grocery store immediately upon arriving at my hotel, or simply need an extra snack to control and optimize my blood sugar and support my Metabolic Efficiency. These snacks sometimes make it back home without ever being consumed but they are with me just in case.

I happened to stay at a hotel that did not have many amenities (restaurant food was not good) nor was it extremely close to a bigger city with the typical eating establishments. However, there was a grocery store, Piggly Wiggly nearby and I did have a refrigerator in my room. Whenever I travel, I ensure that I have a refrigerator in my room since my first stop is usually the grocery store to purchase some basics to build snacks and light meals.

This trip was no different. I visited the Piggly Wiggly and stocked up on a few essentials. My final bill was $23 (for two people and many snacks and light meals). Some items in my basket included blueberries, bananas, cherries, grapes, beef jerky, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, granola, and spoons. Can you pick out the foods that you can combine to improve Metabolic Efficiency?  Yes, there is a reason for the foods that I purchased!

Planning and preparing is probably one of the most important things that you can do when it comes to remaining metabolically efficient while traveling. Take a little extra time on the front end of your trip to construct an “emergency food” list and pack them with you. Identify the nearby grocery stores and restaurants where you will be staying prior to leaving if possible and be sure to visit the grocery store first thing upon arriving at your destination.

As for the parfaits…well, that was one of our breakfast options. I grabbed the coffee cups that are always in hotel rooms and layered the Greek yogurt, fruit, and granola.  Quick, easy and metabolically efficient!

Until next week…