1/22/18

Weekend training recap - goodbye snow, hello sun!


Well, Mother Nature did her thing and took us by surprise with a few cold, snowy days earlier this week. But the snow was not worth complaining about as it was beautiful while it lasted and come the weekend, we opened our house windows as it was 60+ degrees! 



Since the snow had melted around our area come Friday evening, we were so excited to venture outside for a few hours of road biking on Saturday morning. Since we ride on very quiet country roads, where we see more farm animals than cars, we had to negotiate a few sections where the snow had not yet melted. Karel has the skills to ride thru anything but I didn't take any risks and I got off my bike and walked through the icy sections. Three hours and 35 minutes later, we covered around 4300 feet of elevation gain and finished the workout with a 25 minute/3.2 mile hilly run (Karel ran 35 minutes - 5 miles). In the evening, I did my typical PM run for added running frequency but this time it was a short treadmill run for only 15 minutes just to shake out the legs. 



After a great night of sleep, I had my pre-workout snack of rye bread (note to self - I need to make more waffles!), PB, jam, banana slices and Greek Yogurt, filled up my hydration belt flasks with 1 scoop of Cranberry in one flask and one scoop Strawberry kiwi in the other flask of  Base Hydro (a product that I am testing out right now). After ten minutes of glute/hip exercises, Karel and I headed out for our run workout. 



We had a specific route planned for this run workout as this was a very specific set that requires a specific "course" for proper execution.

After a few miles of our warm-up to get to the "start" of our main set, we were ready for the "money maker" workout (in other words, a quality training session that builds confidence and fitness).

Main Set: 4x's:
1/4 mile flatish loop around a park
2 minute strong uphill run
1 minute fast uphill run
Immediately turn around to run downhill as "fast" as possible
Stop and rest at the bottom for 2 minutes.



Each interval took me around 8.5 minutes and I covered around 1.1 miles (Karel was covering a little more distance than me uphill but we both finished at the same time and started at the same time). The main set took us around 40 minutes and I covered 4.63 miles, which included our rest breaks. The focus of this workout is all about form, posture and effort and not on pace. 



This main set has a lot of components in it which makes it one quality workout. Form focused running, strong uphill running and strong downhill running are all important components to improving run fitness off the bike - in our opinion, much more so than chasing a pace or settling for easy, long slow running.

After the main set, it was time to finish off our "long run" with a few more miles of running on tired legs. Another reason why this is the money maker run is the strength that is gained from the entire run. Even though our legs were tired and shaky after the main set, we quickly changed the focus and ran with good form for another 4.8 miles (or 38 minutes) to get back home. It would have been easy to run a straight route to and from the park (about 2 miles) but as you can see from the picture above, this is a very specific, hill-focused run workout to build resilience and strength for Ironman run training. And because of where we live, there are no shortage of hills that we include in our warm-up and cool down.

I was really happy to do this workout with Karel because he always keeps me stretching my comfort zone and knows how to get the best out of me, even when I am tired. Because of my love-hate relationship with running, I really appreciated his support during this run because it kept me confident for all four intervals. I felt very strong throughout this run and as my 7th run of the week (4 of those runs were each 10-20 minutes, all off the bike), I am thankful for a healthy and strong body.

To finish off the weekend, we had our 75-minute group swim at Furman which is something I look forward to every week. Even though we arrive exhausted at 5pm on Sunday evening, we somehow have our best swims at this swim practice thanks to the group environment and awesome coaching by Kristen. 

1/19/18

Product Review - Amrita Bars and Minis


Amrita Health Foods
Based out of: Pleasantville, NY
Website: Amritahealthfoods.com
Follow on Facebook: AmritaBars
Discount code for Trimarni followers: trimarni (30% off!)

About the Company:

In 2004, at the age of 2, Arshad Bahl’s son was diagnosed with autism and severe GI issues. In order to get their son on track, Arshad and his wife started their son on an aggressive gluten-free and dairy-free nutrition program. The nutritional changes helped heal his gastrointestinal issues, which allowed for better nutrition absorption and made it easier for him to focus on the other therapies. Now, Ayaan is in a regular classroom and doing well academically and socially. Arshad became convinced that plant-based nutrition was the right approach for managing inflammation. The significance of reducing one’s allergen load (such as consumption of gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, oils, preservatives, and chemical-containing non-organic foods) to help the body recover from daily stresses became apparent. Arshad became dedicated to developing snacks free of these damaging ingredients. Arshad realized that using brown rice protein and dried fruits—such as tropical mangoes, pineapples, and Medjool dates—together with a rich blend of raw sunflower seeds and sesame seeds would provide essential proteins and fats without the added allergens from nuts, dairy, and soy. As an added bonus, his kids could also take them as part of their peanut-free school lunches! Amrita “launched” in 2012. To really separate Amrita from other energy bars on the market, Arshad packed each bar full of superfoods, such as chia seeds, maca, unsweetened coconut, with delicious hints of vanilla and Himalayan Pink salt for taste and flavor balance. When making Amrita bars, Arshad ensured ingredients were non-GMO, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s, with a good dose of fiber and heaps of easily digestible protein. Most importantly, they had to taste amazing, which was easy to deliver based on having 3 picky kids in the house and all their peers as test kitchens.

Products:
  • Amrita Energy Bar 
  • Amrita Minis Unwrapped 

Certifications:
  • Kosher
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Raw
Label Claims: (Varies with Product)
  • Gluten-Free
  • Dairy-Free
  • Soy-Free
  • Peanut-Free
  • High-Fiber 

Bar Nutrition Facts: 

Pineapple Chia Energy Bar: 


Serving Size: 1 bar
Calories: 195
Total Fat: 7 g
Sodium: 75 mg
Carb: 29 g
Sugars: 11g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 7g
Iron 15% DV

Ingredients: Organic date paste, dried pineapple, cranberries (with apple juice concentrate and sunflower oil), organic sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, Organic sesame seeds, tahini, organic chia flower, chia seeds, shredded unsweetened coconut, organic brown rice protein, himalayan pink salt. 

Bar Product Flavors:
High Protein Bars:​
  • Chocolate chip coconut
  • Chocolate maca
  • Sunflower butter & jelly
  • Dark chocolate quinoa 
Energy Bars:​ 

  • Mango coconut
  • Apple cinnamon
  • Pineapple chia
  • Apricot strawberry
  • Cranberry raisin 
  • Sunflower Butter & Jelly 
Minis Nutrition Facts:
  • Serving Size: 1 mini bar 
  • Calories: 57 
  • Total Fat: 2g 
  • Sodium: 19 mg 
  • Total Carb: 8g 
  • Sugars: 3g 
  • Fiber: 2g 
  • Protein: 4g 
Ingredients: Date Paste, brown rice protein, sunflower seed butter, sunflower seed, coconut oil, pea crisps (pea protein isolate, rice flour, rice starch), Chia seeds, dried blueberry, dried strawberry, unsweetened coconut, chicory root, himalayan pink salt

Minis Product Flavors: 
  • Chocolate chip coconut
  • Dark chocolate quinoa
  • Chocolate maca
  • Sunflower butter & jelly
  • Apricot strawberry
  • Apple cinnamon
  • Cranberry raisin
  • Mango coconut
  • Pineapple chia 

Final thoughts:
  • Nice soft and chewy texture 
  • Not sticky/greasy
  • Delicious but not too sweet
  • Wide variety of flavors
  • Simple, real food ingredient list
  • Convenient, healthy snack for on the go/traveling 
  • Healthy dessert/sweet treat
  • Satisfying
  • High protein (plant-based protein) snack bar option



Discount code for Trimarni followers: trimarni (30% off!)

To learn more about our product reviews: click HERE.

1/17/18

Is your weight (too much) on your mind?


A common focus (or struggle) for athletes is losing weight (or changing body composition) while trying to improve fitness.

It may seem effortless for an athlete to lose weight while training for an endurance event because of the extreme energy expenditure experienced on a day-to-day basis but in truth, many athletes struggle to lose weight despite exercising 8-20+ hours a week.

In my opinion, there's no shortage of proper education on how to nourish and fuel the athlete. The problem lies in application. Athletes often fail to properly time nutrition with training and plan out a well balanced diet and thus, there's always a struggle to maximize fitness, health and body composition throughout a training/racing season. In other words, most athletes don't eat enough of the right foods at the right times. I also blame the lack of time, focus and energy that athletes give to the daily diet relative to the time, focus and energy that is given to training. Most athletes fail to create sustainable healthy eating habits because well, nutrition is just not a priority until it really needs to become one.

Like many things in life, healthy eating habits require education but also a lot of trial and error, planning ahead, commitment, organization and flexibility. If you are willing to work for your performance goals, you should also be willing to work on your diet - in a healthy, non-extreme manner. The key word here is "work" - it's not a quick fix or elimination diet but instead, a constant work in progress.

With so much nutritional advice available at your fingertips and ears these days, not to mention a lot of overly confident food gurus, I recommend to not get your nutrition tips from non-credible blogs, forums, podcasts, interviews, magazines and experts. Thanks to social media, anyone can claim to be an 'expert'. Year after year, I see a common trend of athletes trying to adhere of extreme methods of eating and fueling in order to change body composition while trying to train for an athletic event because they read about it somewhere on the internet.

When an athlete has weight (too much) on his/her mind, there's a good chance that an extreme approach will be taken. Restrictive eating has issues; it may cause food obsessions, social isolation, fatigue, weakness, hormonal issues, bone loss, irritability, anxiety, depression, low blood sugar, sleep disturbances and low energy to name a few. Many negative physical and psychological issues develop when weight loss methods are taken to the extreme yet athletes continue to seek a quick fix/extreme approach.

If you are currently abiding by food laws, adhering to a good food/bad food list eliminating whole food groups, avoiding anything with sugar in it, not using sport nutrition to become more fat adapted or considering going keto, ask yourself why you are choosing the extreme approach? Is this style of eating/fueling sustainable for the rest of your life? Your diet does not have to be (and should not be) all or nothing. 


Sadly, there are far too many misinformed athletes and unqualified professionals following and prescribing extreme styles of eating (or not eating) in an effort to help athletes lose weight without considering the health implications of extreme dietary recommendations.

If you feel unhappy with your body shape, size or weight and worry all day about what to or not to eat all in an effort to look differently, remind yourself that when you restrict yourself from food, you don't become a better athlete. Instead, you become weak, tired and withdrawn. Food is your fuel. Food is your medicine.

Seeing that there are safe, responsible and healthy ways to change body composition and many unsafe, irresponsible and unhealthy ways to change body composition, I encourage you to ask yourself the following YES or NO questions to see if your weight is too much on your mind as it relates to your current eating habits? 

  • You have drastically cut out a significant amount of calories in an effort to lose weight?
  • You have recently cut out specific food groups or macronutrients from your diet?
  • You are constantly comparing your current body image to a leaner version of yourself (or another athlete), assuming that if you weighed less, you would be faster/better?
  • You are intentionally avoiding consuming calories before and during workouts in order to become fat adapted? 
  • You don't want to properly refuel post workout because you want to keep your body in a calorie deficit?
  • Your weight loss goal is often a primary motivator to start and finish workouts, no matter how exhausted, tired or fatigued you feel?
  • You are finding yourself overeating on the weekends because you "deserve it" yet restricting during the week?
  • You find yourself irritable, moody, low in energy and sometimes have difficulty focusing/concentrating?
  • You are almost positive that you can't maintain your current style of eating for the rest of your life but you are determined to reach your weight loss goal at any cost?

As you embark on another year/season of exercising/training with weight loss on your mind, remind yourself that you can not maintain good health and optimize your performance with a rigid and restrictive style of eating.  

If you feel you could benefit from a change in body composition/weight for health and/or performance, don't use forums and the internet for advice. Reach out to a Board Certified Sport Dietitian for help.