Seizing life's joys and challenges physically, mentally, and emotionally.


Protein – How Essential

I have taken some time to write since my last post for a few reasons. Primarily the topic is a hard one – Protein. Also, I am feeling much better and I am back to most of my regular training schedule. As a result, I am spending more time training but still getting to bed early. This past weekend was a great one – I went to a training camp my triathlon club put on. More on the experience in a not too future post.

Okay, on to protein. We need protein in our diet. How much, what type, what source – all topics that are debated frequently. A very good description of protein and its function I found on the site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here is the quote:

Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies.

As an athlete, I am constantly doing activities that are breaking down my muscles. Protein is necessary to facilitate recovery and strengthening. I have dabbled in several dietary programs – vegetarian, vegan, and Paleo primarily. All had aspects I liked and I do not have any problem or issue with them. The US Department of Health and Human Services suggest protein make up 10% to 35% of daily calories. (see page 15) I have shared before I target 30% protein in my diet. For me I have found I recover best when I eat animal protein as a large source of protein in my diet. I have shared many times that I believe experiment, trial and error are them best ways to determine what works for each person.

What I do know is that there are 20 different types of amino acids that make up all types of protein. The human body can synthesize some amino acids, but there are 9 (some reports say 10) that the body can not make, these are called essential amino acids. They are essential parts of the diet since the body cannot produce them. A complete protein is a protein that provides all of the essential amino acids and this is found in animal protein. That said, combining beans and rice together for example can also provide essential amino acids. Vegan diets especially have to make sure enough incomplete protein foods are combined to produce the complete amino acids needed. For me, I found having a good amount of animal protein in my diet works best for muscle recovery and building. Of course lean animal protein is better because it is lower in saturated fats, so I have more fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. I also have a fair amount of dairy – eggs, milk, yogurt, whey protein, and cheese along with a mild amount of beef and bacon.

The topic of protein has been a difficult one for me to write on because I don’t have as strong convictions as I do with the proper amount and types of fats and carbohydrates the body needs. I respect those who follow a vegetarian or vegan plan as well as Paleo. It is still a very important part of the diet and knowing how much and what mix is important. Muscles get strong not directly by the physical activities we partake in, but in the healing process we experience in the muscle fibers that we break down in exercise. I see many people exercise hard, eat a heavy carb diet, and are either not losing weight or frequently getting injured – or both. Diet goes hand in hand with exercise.

My next post will be back to more of my typical posts – sharing my triathlon training experiences. And boy do I have some to share. It is good to be back and enjoying the sport I so love to be a part of. One final note – part of seizing the day for me is also appreciating those in our life who help build us up, a bit like how protein helps build our bodies. (Good tie in, huh?) Well two fellow bloggers have been checking in over the past few weeks while I have been dealing with my ups and downs of viruses and colds. I want to thank Jill at Jogging Jeans and Jim at Fit Recovery. Two friends I have made in this virtual world who have become quite essential to me.


Carbohydrates – The Simple and Complex Sides

Complex topics are difficult to write about and carbohydrates are very complex – even when they are simple. Athletic people are frequently told how important carbs are to fuel the body. Carbo loading before a big race will help fuel the body in the long, hard race – right? I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist. I am a regular person who leads an athletic life. My experience comes from trial and error. I have carbo loaded for races and I have eaten a balanced diet before races. I do know for me, carbo loading didn’t help at all. I do know that a consistent diet of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat has helped me feel better than I ever have after long runs and hard rides. I am recovering faster and I have less muscle aches. My last post covered fat. Now I am taking on carbs.

The human body is a fascinating study. When carbohydrates are digested the body breaks them down to sugars. There are more complex terms, for this post I will keep as much simple as possible. I was once asked by another triathlete when it comes to nutrition how do I get sugar for energy? My answer is simple – my body makes enough sugar, I do not need to eat additional. Carbohydrates are basically found in two forms – simple and complex. Click the link to go to a very helpful article by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I used it quite a bit for this post. Simple carbs are also simple sugars. Natural forms are found in fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. Note – this is why I stay away from skim milk products, take away the fat and it is a sugary drink like soda pop. These foods provide enough simple sugars that foods with added sugars I avoid. Added sugars are in many processed foods and drinks. Added sugar is also a byproduct of refining – white breads and pastas for example.

Complex carbs are found in two types – starch and fiber. Starchy carbs turn to sugars a bit faster than foods higher in fiber, so I limit them. Starchy foods include white potatoes, white pasta, beans, corn, and some cereals, breads and grains. Many beans are also high in fiber and protein -these I don’t limit as much. A rule of thumb on carbs is this – the only white carb to eat is cauliflower. I don’t count bananas since at first sight they are yellow. (Or green!) Complex carbs high in fiber are found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. How much fiber? On average for adults 30 grams a day is the standard. The link above contains a chart that is more specific.

Okay – carbs are found in simple and complex forms, choose complex over simple and higher fiber complex carbs. The US Dietary Guidelines suggest 45% to 65% of calories come from carbohydrates. (See page 15) I follow the 40/30/30 plan that was made popular by the Zone Diet and Dr. Barry Sears. It is within 5% of the government suggestion and there are many tools to help count and calculate. My favorite is found at My Fitness Pal. What to eat? That is a difficult topic to recommend on a specific level. When it comes to complex carbs, I keep it simple – the less processing involved and the more whole the form is, the better. Personally, the vast majority of my carbs come from fruits, vegetables, beans, and sprouted grain breads and tortillas (my favorite brand is Ezekiel Bread). For fuel in training and racing I use energy bars and I have been making my own “Zone” bars. Yes, I turn to gels too – Honey Stinger and GU primarily. Training and racing nutrition is another post of information!

A final note- one eating plan I would have never chosen intentionally was forced upon me when I came down with the norovirus in February. For five weeks my diet consisted of white potatoes, saltines, eggs, chicken and chicken soup, bananas, Lorna Dune cookies, and Honey Stinger waffles. No vegetables, other than bananas – no fruit, and nothing complex at all. My stomach had a difficult time digesting anything, so I also did not take the vitamins I usually take. This diet weakened me – both my energy and my immune system. I am sure that the two terrible colds I have had were a result of my weakened immune system. This unfortunate “experiment” drove home to me the importance of diet along with exercise. I am back to eating my regular plan, this latest cold is just about completely gone, and I am slowly returning to my regular training plan.

The body needs carbohydrates to function, along with fat and protein. (Which is up next) What makes up those carbohydrates matter – not only for an athlete, but for everyone who does not like going to the doctor. Proper nutrition and exercise is the best way to stay healthy and away from the doctor’s office, giving us all the more time to seize the day.


Starting With Fat

Nutrition – I have wanted to write on this topic for quite some time. I have touched on it before, but getting into the details can be overwhelming. There is so much I want to go into – I am sure it will take a few posts. As I write this I do not have a set outline as to where this will go. Looks like we are all in for a learning experience today.

I do know I want to begin with clearing up a very common misconception. A three letter word has caused a lot of debate and discussion. FAT. When a person is over weight or obese they are called fat. Many “diets” recommend low fat. I see countless people drinking skim milk and eating fat free products thinking it is “better.” Think again. Just about every time I have a conversation with someone about fat – from family members who rarely exercise to people I see daily at the gym – they say the same thing when I tell them at least 30% of the calories in my diet come from fat. “Yes, we’ll look how much you exercise.” Huh? What does a percentage calories in fat have to do with my level of activity? Nothing.

Fat is one of the easiest fuels for the body to burn. Unless you are reading this while exercising, even as you sit your body is burning fuel and most likely 50 to 60 percent of those calories are from fat. The remaining 50 to 40 percent comes from carbs. So if eating at least 30% of calories from fat, just how is that going to cause an inactive person to gain weight?? It isn’t. An excellent reference addressing this myth can be found here.

What matters is the amount of calories consumed AND the breakdown of those calories. There are many ways to determine how much to eat in calories. The most effective way is to take a test to determine your specific resting metabolic rate of burning calories. This test is specific to an individual’s metabolism. It is also an expensive test and not readily available to many. There are formulas for men and women which can be found here. A very basic rule of thumb also is to take your weight and multiply it by 10. I have done all three and my actual test result is 1554, the formula is 1379, and my weight times 10 is 1390. As you see, they are fairly close. Because I am so active I do have a higher metabolism so my fat calories consumed are higher, but the percentage is not. Thirty percent is thirty percent.

Now, I have explained how much to eat to maintain your weight without any activity. Additional activity adds calories, such as working and exercise. How much to add again depends on metabolism, but a helpful chart is found here. Add it all up and you have an idea of total calories. Want to lose weight? Either eat 500 fewer calories each day, increase activity by 500 calories, or a combination of both. There are 3,500 calories in a pound, seven days in a week – you lose a pound a week.

Okay, back to 30% fat. Where does that come from when they say a low fat diet is best? My question back is just who are they? Even the U.S. Government guidelines call for 20 to 35% percent of daily calories from fat. (See page 24 of the report). Saturated fats are bad, clog arteries, we know the drill. For the most part, my rule of thumb is fat from fruit is the healthiest fat to select. Nuts, avocados, olives, coconuts – examples of fruits that are good sources of fat. Limiting saturated fats (mostly found in fat from animals) to a third of total fats is wise. So go for 2% or even whole milk and yogurts, don’t shun bacon (and save the grease!), and if you like dark meat poultry (it tastes better anyway) – eat it. A helpful article on adding fat to a diet can be found here.

Fat is filling. I sometimes have difficulty eating the daily calories I need on lower activity days because I am not that hungry. Take the fat out and the sugar content goes up, satiated feeling goes down, and the munchies hit late in the day. Fat doesn’t make a person fat overweight. More calories eaten than burned makes a person overweight. Yes, overweight people have higher body fat percentages. Carbohydrates not burned, especially simple sugars, turn to fat. Fat eaten and not burned stores easily. But not eating fat will not lower your fat percentage. You have to burn it.

See how much there is to consider? I have barely touched on the topic of fat. The diet also includes protein and carbohydrates – which will be saved for future posts. This can be more exhausting than reading about my workouts! For now, I think we have plenty to chew on. Now for dinner… with bacon.


Raise Your Glass – Or Sports Bottle

Proper hydration is essential in endurance sports. There also is no linear formula for the “right” amount. Each person is different and trial and error tends to be the best way to determine the “right” amount. What to drink is also a question – water only? Combination of water and sports drink? Only sports drink? And the biggie – which sports drink?
What works for me is something I stumbled upon to be honest.  Ever since I started in endurance sports fourteen years ago I never questioned sports drinks. The biggest change I made was moving toward a sports drink that included a little protein – 5 grams. For the most part most sports drinks are made up of 8% carbohydrates or 180 calories per 20 ounces of water. I have known many people who water down their sports drink, but in doing so they are also reducing the electrolyte content. Having a history of cramping in long workouts and races, I opt for full power sodium and potassium and on hot days supplementing with electrolyte caplets.
Last September I had a terrible time in a half iron triathlon with bloating and gas. It impacted my performance significantly. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what went wrong. I ultimately blamed it on the fiber in a whole wheat bagel I ate the morning of the race. Truth be told I was never fully satisfied with that answer. With all of the nutrition research I have been doing I have learned that the body adapts to a consistent diet and higher fiber shouldn’t impact me on race day. My regular diet has at least 30 grams of fiber and I rarely have GI stress during training.
Also  last year I started paying more attention to nutrition and managing my metabolism. That was when I came across Nuun. One tablet dissolves in water with only 8 calories but packs 360 milligrams of sodium and 100 milligrams of potassium.  I would use this for short workouts under an hour and a half and always in my water bottle when I swim. After my experience in the half iron triathlon I thought I would try Nuun more and make sure to consume gels and energy bars during long workouts. I even used it in the California International Marathon. A lot went wrong in that race, but my digestion was not an issue.
Earlier this year I was on a run and very hungry. I thought I should switch back to the higher calorie sports drink and see what happens. It helped a bit but I did notice I bloated more. Connection? (More on why I was hungry in my next post) About a month ago I went to my running store to pick up more Nuun and the owner also told me about Skratch. A bit higher in calories than Nuun, but half than that of most sports drinks at 90 calories and 4% carbohydrates but has 366 milligrams of sodium and 80 milligrams of potassium.  Also, it is all natural  with no preservatives. He mentioned the maker created it for professional cyclists in the Tour de France and it was called “the secret drink mix.” I bought a few packs and did a little research.  I entered “Nuun vs Skratch” in my web search and found this article.  (Click the link to read it.) I was intrigued because it was on Nuun’s web site but talked up the benefits of Skratch. The first two paragraphs caught my attention. Professional cyclists were complaining of gastric distress from drinking heavy carb sports drinks. I knew exactly what they were complaining about – I experienced it in that half iron triathlon.  This was a much more acceptable explanation for what I went through rather than blaming a bagel.
The article is very fair, it explains how the founders of Skratch came about their philosophy of separating calories for food and electrolytes for drink. Additionally the director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute weighs in with his view. I read it with the understanding that what works for one may not work for another. For me, separating my calories into solids – gels and energy bars – and electrolytes in fluid work. The article also suggests for intense or hot (or both) workouts to add electrolyte supplements to the drink – plop a Nuun in. Experimenting with favors is fun too. There are over laps for a consistent flavor – lemon lime for both. Or mix Skratch raspberries with lemon tea Nuun for raspberry ice tea (my favorite blend).
Several of my friends are tried and true sports drink users and have never had GI stress. If it works, there is no need to change. For me, I made the change and I have seen an improvement. Flexibility is key, but so is keeping an open mind. Enduring 70.3 miles in a half iron triathlon brings enough stress, I want to be able to raise a glass to toast my accomplishment without any added stress.

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Set Backs and Things To Come

Last I wrote I was under the weather with a terrible bout of allergies. Well, I am on the mend, but far from recovered. By last Wednesday I was back in the pool swimming, I ran on Thursday, and went to a spin class on Friday. After spin I swam, but was cut very short when my legs started cramping – a common side effect when I am taking medicine for my congestion. Saturday I rode my bike on my trainer, the weather was terrible and we even had snow that was almost a white out at one point. Fortunately it didn’t stick. By Sunday I thought I could handle a long run and I ran nine miles. It was hard – the last mile was more than I should have run. By this morning my activity had caught up with me and even after ten hours of sleep I was feeling out of it. As a result I am resting today and tomorrow – at least. I have also decided, along with the strong influence of my triathlon coach and running coach, that I will not run the half marathon I had planned on May 4th. The intensity of my training will be reduced a bit for a while. I do not like it, but I want to recover.  So I am giving my body a rest and taking it slow. My focus is to get healthy and prepare for the half iron triathlon I have scheduled at the end of June.

So what to write about? There are a few things I have been wanting to share and this little break and slow down is a good opportunity. The next few posts I will be writing about nutrition. I have been experimenting with different things, some I have sought out, some I have stumbled upon, and some have happened to me as a result of the colds and bugs I have had this year. The underlying thread is that nutrition is an integral part of fitness. Fueling our bodies to perform is important and what and when we eat matters. Yes, I will also make an effort to tie a motivational aspect into the post. (as well as increase my frequency a bit too…)

To say my continuing cold is frustrating would be an understatement. But – it is what it is. Rest is also important along with nutrition and fitness. So I will rest and recover. Sharing what I have learned on nutrition is a way for me to also stay positive. This will pass. It may take longer than I would prefer, but it will pass. I am not going to wallow in my sorrows – it won’t help and crying is the last thing my sinuses need right now! Rather, I will raise a glass to things to come – first up would be what to drink in that glass. Stay tuned.


Finding Balance

With this being the height of the election season and as I type the talk is about balance – I can’t help but think of balance in life. Work, family, friends, social, exercise, and the delicate mind/body/soul balance. Like the differing political views, so too are differing ideas of balance in life. Unlike politics, it is much easier for each person to identify their own personal balance irrespective of anyone else’s balanced life. But do we do it often enough?

My own experience is not the most even weighted scales – my scale tilts far more to my fitness side sometimes at the expense of my sleep. However I am getting much better at listening to my body and eventually balance between fitness and sleep will occur. My goal is to find the balance before I have no other choice – if I over train to the point of exhaustion without listening to my body’s need for rest and sleep, a cold or fatigue will arise and force me to take the rest. Preventive measures are far better than forced. (hmmm, sounding more and more like the debaters on television right now…) As for nutrition, I am still trying to determine my personal balance. I was asked at dinner tonight if I am a vegetarian. My response was “right now I am not eating meat, but I am not ready to be classified vegetarian.” Like so many other aspects in my life, I am doing my research and experimenting before deciding. I spoke today with a dear friend I have not seen in a while only to learn that he has walked away from a vegan lifestyle and is very protein focused. Sometimes flip flops occur – wow just like in politics…

The important thing to consider is that each person has to find what works for themselves. In the fitness realm (which I am much more willing to blog about than politics) there is no one ideal fit. I do know in fitness we are capable of far more than we think, it is our minds that hold us back. It is also our minds that lead us to sometimes jump into activities before learning how to ease into something and build up. Trial and error occurs and hopefully we learn and grow from the experiences. There is no static ground – if we are not growing we are regressing whether we realize it or not. So my choice is forward motion. It may feel like I am on a treadmill sometimes going no where, but in time I will see the advancement of my progress. Just like my run this morning – I used my inhaler and ran a speed workout with inclines on the treadmill. Although I covered 5 miles, I was running in place. My inhaler worked, my lungs felt good, and I am building strength so when I tackle the challenges outside I will be prepared.


Food For Thought

It seems that nutrition has been a popular topic I have come across lately. My trainer recommended a book to read on nutritional periodization, a fellow blogger Bgddy Jim and I trade somewhat opposing ideas on nutrition, and then today at work we had another lunch meeting with a nutritionist from The Cleveland Clinic. The irony here is that all three sources do not line up. The nutritionist from the Clinic targets more the “average” person, not athlete, and stresses how no added sugar and very little sodium is the way to go. Bgddy Jim – bless his heart – is all for Whoppers, onion rings and sugar sodas. Don’t laugh – he is an incredible cyclist, at least 6 foot tall and under 160 pounds. (sorry if I am off on the stats, but think very athletic, muscular and no fat). The book on nutritional periodization, which is focused on endurance athletes, targets lean protein, carbs mostly from fruits and vegetables, and whole grains when exercise is at peak. The author also stresses the need for sodium and some simple sugars during exercise.

I have been eating mostly in line with the book titled Nutrition Periodization for Athletes by Bob Seebohar. Sorry Jim – I don’t eat meat anymore, never was an onion ring fan, although I will admit I drank a diet Coke today because I had a long drive and was sleepy… With the amount of exercise I do, sodium for me is a necessity. I sweat it out faster than I can replace it. Since I made the changes, I have noticed improvements. I do think it has helped improve my metabolism which my test last week noted. As for added sugar – in endurance sports longer than 90 minutes, refueling is essential and sports gels, energy bars, and chews are simple sugars that do the trick.

My training today began with my swim – my last 2,500 meter distance swim before the race. The main set was the familiar 19 x 100 meter repeats. I averaged 2:03 per 100 meters. If I am able to keep that pace in the race, it will be a great swim. This evening I really wanted to get a ride in. I got home close to 7:00 after all I had to do, so I made it to the basement to get a quick ride in and give my legs some exercise. While I am tapering, I don’t want my muscles to forget what they have to do in the race soon. Preparation is more than exercise too – metal preparation I have worked quite a bit on, and nutrition has also played a part.

There is so much to noodle on when it comes to nutrition. (haha, pun intended) How ridged to be? I play by the 90/10 rule. Most of the time (90%) I am spot on good and follow the rules. But there is the 10% time when I indulge a bit – a little ice cream, reduced fat kettle potato chips (gasp! yes it is true), and a nice glass of wine… or two. But don’t forget the Ms. Type A Detail Junky I am – I keep track of ever calorie burned and consumed on My Fitness Pal. A little something to keep me in line, because I want to enjoy each day – just not over do it.


Back to “Normal”

Taking time off and going away helps me rest, relax, regroup and remember how much I love my bed! Sleeping at home last night was a delight. Especially with my little stomach issue. From what I can tell I did have a very mild form of food poisoning.

This morning I did sleep in a bit and was still feeling cramps in my stomach. I ate an energy bar for breakfast and wanted to get a ride in. My concerns with riding on the road were two – if I get sick while riding and I am miles from home it would not be good and with the hills in my neighborhood was I strong enough to ride them with very little nutrition over the past 36 hours. After hemming and hawing over it, as much as I prefer riding outside, I decided to ride on my trainer. I did chose a challenging course and road 18.5 miles. It felt good and I held up well. After a week off of riding I was happy to be “back in the saddle”.

As the day progressed I was able to eat a bit more. I am feeling like I am returning more to normal. As I have been writing on flexibility, I am also questioning “normal”. I remember thinking after my mother passed away that life was returning to a new normal. Sometimes events cause changes that alter forever what normal was once known to be. I know this week I will return to my regular training schedule which is normal for me. Five years ago – getting up at 4:30 in the morning and working out over 10 hours a week was far from normal. Three to five hours a week seemed very acceptable and what “normal” people do.

One thing is certain, things change. Sometimes by choice – my workout habits, and sometimes as a result of things that are out of my control. Sometimes choices are a result of something out of my control. As a result of my latest food malfunction I am beginning to do a bit of research in the realm of nutrition. This may impact how I chose my meal plan. Call it karma, coincidence, or Divine intervention – but in the past six months I have come across several people, unrelated, who have been impacted by a movie. The most recent nudge was just yesterday when I read a friend’s Facebook status that she just watched Forks over Knives. I have not seen it yet and plan to this week. I have not made a judgement yet since I haven’t seen it, but I do know that most of my food run ins have been with meats. So I am willing to explore and research. Change sometimes causes anxiety or trepidation, but I know I want to improve as much as I am able to make life all the more enjoyable. And enjoying every day is what makes life grand.


The Best Laid Plans….

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Robert Burns This quote came to mind when I thought of what to write today. I had hoped to get a run in this morning before packing and flying home. Unfortunately my plans did go a bit awry, and it began with a chicken sausage with lunch yesterday.

Nutrition is a very important component of my training. Just as I enjoy working out, I also enjoy eating healthy. Rest days from training are different than nutrition. If I eat a lot of fried food or high fat food, I feel lethargic and sluggish. Not fun. So even on vacation I make what I believe to be healthy choices. For lunch yesterday I opted for a salad and for my protein I cooked a chicken sausage. It was a better choice than several other meats we had in the refrigerator. I wish I had remembered what happened to me a year and a half ago when I had turkey sausage. And got food poisoning. That hit me on an air plane. Very not fun. Well yesterday by 7:00 in the evening I had a vaguely familiar feeling similar to the turkey sausage experience – like I had paste in my stomach. I will spare the details, but fortunately it was not as sever as my turkey sausage experience.

As a result, I have had very little to eat over the past 24 hours. This morning I did most of my packing sitting down. A run was out of the question, that was for sure. Being a planner, I had packed an electrolyte powder drink mix and sipped on that this morning. My greatest fears were put to ease as my first flight was uneventful. I have a long layover in Atlanta right now and I was able to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. My stomach is slowly coming back.

Planning is a part of me. I have training plans mapped out through the end of the year. I have already started thinking about what I may do as far as races go next year. Flexibility is becoming a part of me. Regardless of whether I welcome it or not. I sprained my ankle in April and got my first big taste of flexibility. Vacations are time off and I expect to encounter the need to adjust training during the week. This stomach issue has really thrown a wrench in my plan. I am planning to ride long tomorrow, when I do may have to change. Getting enough sleep, fuel and hydration is going to dictate when I ride. Unexpected instances just can not be planned. Hence the term “unexpected”. But that is a part of life. Planning is good to do, it gives us structure. Flexibility, I am learning, is essential. Just as in stretching to be physically flexible, mental and situational flexibility will help me bend so I don’t break. So when things do go awry, I will still land on my feet. Even when my stomach doesn’t like it.


Climbing Pyramids

Today was a pyramid day, and not just in swimming. I swam 3,000 meters this morning and did three 500 meter pyramids after my 1,000 meter warm up. Between the first two pyramids I pulled for 200 meters to recover and warmed down with a 100 meter pull. A 500 meter pyramid is building up: 25, 50, 75, 100 and down 100, 75, 50, 25 all done on time segments based on 2:20 per 100. I paced myself well and completed all within the time allotment for send off. I felt great, both emotionally and physically. One thing I started doing this week is eating a little more pre workout. I usually have a small container of 0% fat Greek yogurt before I leave for the pool. This week I also added a banana. Nutrition is something I follow very closely. A useful tool I use is my fitness pal. I always hope to learn something new every day and I learned a lot today.

I attended a presentation today by a sports nutritionist about Foods That Energize Your Body. A little information on me – I am thin with a BMI ( body mass index) of 20.5 and I track my calorie burn and intake to maintain my weight. As a triathlete I have to make sure I eat enough to not lose any more weight. Yes, I know how rare it is and I am fortunate, but it can be a problem too. One thing I enjoy on big workout days is a bowl of ice cream. After a 50 mile cycle or longer you may see me at McDonalds ordering a double cheese burger with fries. Me? The health nut? Hey, I figure I need the calories to keep my weight up. Well, I learned a lot to change my mind today. One lesson – added sugar causes swelling, the last thing an athlete needs. Second – happy meals are not so happy. The Davies Happy Meal Project took a look at a burger and fries over a year, yes the same one decomposing over time. It didn’t change much… Also, within an hour of eating a fast food burger the arteries in our body can have impaired function. So, I guess all calories are not created equal, huh?

That leads to another pyramid – the food pyramid. I have done both the 60% carbs, 25% protein, and 15% fat as well as the Zone 40/30/30. Personally I like 40/30/30 better. A trainer phrased it well – we burn what we eat – fat and carbs. As active as I am, I was gaining a little when I ate 60/25/15. And I eat good carbs with high fiber. It all depends on the body and the person. But we do have to pay attention to our nutrition – choosing the pyramid that works best. I didn’t think climbing was part of a triathlete’s training, but climbing pyramids is important. Both in the pool and on the plate.