Tag Archives: nutrition

Ironman #3 Wisconsin

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Here it was…  Race Week!  The weeks leading up to race week were busy with the day job, coaching, swim lessons, and trying to plan a fundraiser for my Arizona 70.3.  It (race week) snuck up on me like Ashton on Punk’d.  This Ironman was different, I was having a hard time overcoming some nagging injuries and for the first time, my work really affected some of my long training days.   Anyways, we flew into Madison on Thursday and stayed with family outside of the Madison.  This was awesome because I rarely get to see family in the midwest.  It also kept me out of the excitement and I was able to focus on things for the race and stay off my feet for the most part.

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Sunday morning I arrived early and got everything situated with my bike and my bags.  My race support crew had already begun her plan for the day of spectating and supporting me.  What was cool about this race is that everything is inside.  That means no dirt or grass, but it was a long run UP to transition.  I got into the chute early so that I wouldn’t be just getting into the water as the gun went off.  As we made our way out to the start line there was a 9/11 tribute and the national anthem was playing.  I was getting ready to get this show on the road.

The Swim: 1:13:xx
56_m-100735778-digital_highres-1364_104123-3746856The cannon went off, and whoa.   This mass start was a washing machine the entire 2.4 miles.  From the start I had some people not just brushing my feet, they were grabbing them and holding (WTF?).  So I kindly kicked them in the face.  I’m sorry (#notsorry), but you don’t need to be holding onto someone’s feet when they are trying to swim.  It’s dangerous for them.  So for 1 hour and 13 minutes I endured a constant body to body contact sport.   Thankfully I am very confident in swimming and didn’t have any issue’s of panicking.   I can see how beginners hate the mass starts, it can get downright insane.  From the swim I had a nice run up the parking ramp up to transition.

The Bike: 6:26:xx
8_m-100735778-digital_highres-1364_022787-3746808There really isn’t much to write about when it comes to one of the best supported bike courses by the community other than, it was fan-f8ckin-tastic.   Getting out the doors and finding that a volunteer had my bike ready to go was awesome.   I rode it down the helix and got my Edge 1000 situated and my HR turned on.  The first thing I noted that was missing was my power was gone.  It wasn’t pairing or something.   So I took 2-3 minutes to mess with it, and then said F it.   I was to ride this old school by HR zone and feel.  Humming along at an avg 20 MPH my HR didn’t go above 141-150 much and I didn’t feel like I was over-extended which was good.  The hills were rolling and the climbs were easy since you had a really good downhill leading up to it.  There was only 2 hills that presenting a challenge:  Barlow and some other.   I had driven the course the day before with my family.   I knew what to expect so I tried to conserve leading up to it.   Then finally it where there.  Both sides of the climb were lined with fans cheering everyone up the hill.  There were people unclipping at the bottom and mid-way through.  As I approached the guy next to me looked at the hill and said F-This, and unclipped.  I powered up it out of the saddle and felt surprisingly good.   The other hill wasn’t as bad, but again it was Tour De France style cheering which helped out alot.  I got to special needs and as I was swapping out my bike bottles I was hit by another rider.  I went to the ground pretty hard and was totally unexpected.  Could tell that something was wrong once I started pedaling again and my entire right side of my butt started to really hurt.  Thankfully I didn’t have to ride up Barlow again, but loop 2 had more wind.  As I headed back to Madison, I was really worried about being able to run.  As much as I wanted to let the crash disrupt my race and get frustrated, I kept remembering what I tell my own athletes:  Don’t waste anytime worrying about stuff you can’t control, all it does is waste time and energy.   So I kept my head up and hit T2.

Run: 5:33:xx
As I set out on the run I didn’t really know what to expect since I did virtually no research into this course.   I wanted to be healthy enough to run it.  I was a bit concerned about my legs from the bike accident but I set out anyways.  At this point the course was very high in energy as we ran through the capital area and out around the University of Wisconsin campus.  Soon we were on the field of Badger Stadium which as awesome.   It’s been a while since I was on the field and it was great to relive some of the memories of being a football player under the lights.   I was cruising a 10-12 min mile as I was walking up the hills and had a positive mindset the entire time.   As I approached the first turn around I was able to see my family out there cheering me on.  This was a welcome sight since I’m normally doing these things with my main girl as my on-course support.  The Base Performance tent is always the life of the party out on the course.  Matt Miller and Tony Demakis always have the energy to get everyone going, and being a part of their team is a blast.  The 2nd loop I decided it was time to enjoy some of the scenery, so I walked the entire field of badger stadium.  When’s the next time I’m going to be on the field?  Here I was at mile 20 and it was still light out and I was feeling really good still.  Everyone has read stories about the finish line at Wisconsin, it’s what sucked me into wanting to do it.  As I approached mile 25, you can see the energy on both sides of the street.   As you’re running through it, you suck the energy in and you turn the corners to the chute and it’s nothing short of amazement.   The community there is fantastic and the best that I have encountered at any of my races of any distance.  As I was running down the finish chute I made sure that there was plenty of time between me and the next person.  I was pretty happy to have a 5:30 marathon time after everything.

I really recommend this race to any athlete who wants to do an Ironman.  I believe the course and the community really set this race apart from all the others.  Yes there are so many other races out there that have scenic courses and great community support, so what makes this one different?   In my opinion having Mike Reilly there and the transition being inside really bring it out, but what brings it over the top is the bike course support from the community.  Having them out there on those climbs kept us all going and lifted our spirits.

 

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Metabolic Efficiency and the Plant-based Endurance Athlete – Dina Griffin @ eNRG

Metabolic Efficiency and the Plant-based Endurance Athlete
Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD, METS II
Sport Dietitian
Certified Level II Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist
Metabolic Efficiency and the Plant-based Endurance Athlete
Before we get into the “meat” of this article, let it be known that I am not trying to cause any controversy or debate as to whether vegetarian or vegan nutrition patterns are superior or inferior to omnivorous patterns.  There are many reasons athletes choose to follow plant-based patterns such as ethical, moral, spiritual, and/or health reasons; there are also many militant perspectives to try to persuade you one direction or another.  The purpose of this article is to highlight a few concerns for vegetarian and vegan endurance athletes from a sport dietitian perspective and to provide a short Metabolic Efficiency case study on a recent female athlete with whom I worked.
*Abbreviation you will see throughout this article:  PBEA = plant-based endurance athlete
For those who need a clarification on “vegan”vs. “vegetarian”, here is a brief description:
  • Vegan:  Avoids all animal foods, animal by-products and any food that contains any animal-derived food in it. This means no meat, poultry, dairy, fish, or eggs in any form or contained in any other food (such as baked goods). True vegan followers avoid honey, animal broths, and gelatin.
  • Vegetarian:  There are different “levels”such as those who permit eggs, dairy, or fish. All other animal foods are avoided.
Next, let us highlight some issues and concerns in the context of plant-based nutrition patterns.
Protein
While true there are ample plant-based sources of protein, I can report that many of the PBEAs with whom I have worked truly have inadequate protein intakes.  Following nutrition periodization principles, there are certain times of the training year (and within certain types of training blocks) where protein needs are increased based on the volume and intensity of training. This is a common area where I see PBEAs struggle or are simply unaware of their body’s needs.  This particularly holds true for athletes who are restricting their dietary intake to pursue weight loss. Protein intakes can range from 1.2-2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight (or 0.55-1.1 grams per pound of body weight) depending on health and training. This can be difficult to achieve for some PBEAs, especially if they have several food “dislikes”and are not a fan of cooking.
Tips:
  • Know your protein sources.  For vegan followers, these include the general categories of legumes (beans, peanuts, lentils, peas, etc.; try sprouting to improve the nutrient profile and digestibility), nuts/seeds, nut/seed butters, soy foods, whole grains, seitan, spirulina, sprouts and protein powders. Yes, there is protein in vegetables (such as leafy greens), but you must eat A LOT of vegetables. Vegetarians have more flexibility in protein sources if including eggs and dairy.
  • Vary your protein sources.  This may seem like an obvious one, but I see countless PBEAs who eat the same thing every day with little variety.  Know that not all proteins are the same, meaning the amino acid content can be quite variable. There are “indispensable”amino acids which must come from dietary sources since the body cannot make them. Supplementation of amino acids may be necessary, especially for ultra PBEAs or those in strength-building training blocks.
  • Keep it clean. It’s interesting how many PBEAs eat processed and refined foods for their protein sources, yet these items can be loaded with fillers and synthetic ingredients. Do the body better by keeping your protein sources as simple as possible.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
 
If you are a PBEA who is an ultra runner, long course triathlete, or a female, micronutrient deficiencies are more common than you realize.
Tips:
  • Work with a board certified sport dietitian who can assess your nutrition intake and physical training patterns. Food choices can be optimized to enhance the micronutrient quality. Appropriate supplementation can be recommended as it fits your own specific needs.
  • Get regular blood work. The blood work you get with your typical annual physical is rarely adequate for PBEAs. Seek guidance from a board certified sport dietitian so that appropriate labs can be ordered.
  • Variety in food intake will help.  If you refuse to follow the above tips, then I strongly recommend you get into the habit of eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
A Metabolic Efficiency Case Study:  The Female Vegetarian Endurance Athlete
 
Many PBEAs assume that to improve metabolic efficiency (how your body uses fat and carbohydrate as an energy source at rest and during exercise), you have to convert to omnivore patterns and eat gobs of steak. While omnivores have more flexibility in food choices to facilitate metabolic efficiency, it is not necessary to begin eating animal proteins to make an impact on how your body uses its fuel sources. The underlying “trick”is to learn how to put together foods to stabilize blood sugar levels throughout daily eating.
Meet “Dee”, a female marathoner in her 50s who is a lacto-ovo vegetarian (no soy). Her goals were to find out her metabolic efficiency (M.E.) level and to lose weight.  Her daily nutrition resembled this prior to beginning the M.E. journey:
  • breakfast: coffee, bagel, cream cheese prior to run OR 2 eggs with wheat toast if no run
  • post-run: baked good from coffee shop
  • lunch: veggie dog on wheat bun with ketchup, mustard
  • snack: nonfat greek yogurt
  • dinner: “fake” meat with spaghetti or risotto or pizza
This is her M.E. test data before making any nutrition changes:
As you can see in the graph, Dee was unable to utilize fat as a predominant energy source in her running paces.  After the testing, we reviewed her food preferences and devised strategies for her to begin changing her food combinations to promote M.E.  Her new nutrition day resembled more of this:
  • breakfast:  oats/quinoa with walnuts + 1 egg before run OR eggs, veggies, cheese if no run
  • snack: full-fat greek yogurt with berries
  • lunch: wheat tortilla with beans, seitan, veggies, avocado or cheese
  • snack: almonds
  • dinner: roasted veggies or salad with a whole grain and protein source such as BeyondMeat or legumes
A blood workup found that Dee was headed towards iron deficiency anemia. She also had low levels of vitamin B12, zinc, and vitamin D. This explained some of the fatigue and sluggishness she had felt during her recent training runs. Dietary suggestions were made in addition to providing her supplementation recommendations.
Dee continued with her running program, which involved 4-5 days of training per week. When she returned to the eNRG performance facility for her second M.E. test 4 months later, she had lost 9 pounds. She reported feeling stronger for her runs and having good energy throughout her days.  Here are the results of her second M.E. test:
Through her training and her dietary changes, her Metabolic Efficiency Point moved to within her targeted marathon goal pace. She ended up with a new PR and reports feeling in great health with the M.E. lifestyle.
In summary, if you are a PBEA, I recommend working with a sport dietitian who can assess your needs (in conjunction with your goals) and guide you towards optimal health within your food preference parameters. Improvements in Metabolic Efficiency can align with your health and performance goals with further dietary and training fine-tuning.  To all of the PBEAs out there, give it a try!
-Dina

59 Days and Counting till IMAZ… WTF IM #2?

Time is flying by and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts that I am ready for this.  The days are slowing ticking away and my mantra lately has been “This Ironman isn’t going to train for itself buddy.”  I’m biking longer than I ever have before  and enjoying it.  This past Saturday while I was out on a 4.5 hour bike ride it was around mile 70 where I thought to myself that man 20 miles seemed so long back when I signed up for IMAZ.   Now 20 miles just seems like a warm up.  Now with me really having the confidence in not blowing up on the bike I can start getting in more running as well which I’ve totally been slacking on.

I really need to break this mental barrier of running is punishment again.  Today after a 75 minute spin class I went out on a 2.5 mile run and had the best times in a long time and surprisingly in the heat and humidity I felt great (Yeah I just said that).   I opened up my stride a bit more but watched my cadence go from 79/80 to 76/78 but my HR instead of riding that 147 BPM line dropped to 138/140 BPM.  I was lower in my Z2 and my avg times per mile dropped from a 10:30 min/mile to a 9:31 min/mile.  Now I did have to walk once to stretch the hip flexor a bit but then chugged along.   It kind of has me wondering now if trying to get the shorter steps and higher cadence was back firing for me since I have longer legs.   I’ll monitor some of the longer runs to see what’s going on with that.

whistler

On another note yes I signed up for IM Canada as well.  WTF was I think is the first thing that comes to mind but I must be honest.   The course looks absolutely awesome and I’ve heard excellent peer reviews of it.  So why not?   This is in July so it works perfectly for my St. George 70.3 in the beginning of May.  At first I didn’t think I’d like some of the longer IM training but it’s kind of growing on me in a sadistic way.

30 Days till Summer/Fall Racing, 15lbs of Fat to Lose.

As many people know already starting May 31st I have an Olympic distance triathlon every month with very little down time all the way through to my Ironman in November.  Making it through it all will be hard and mentally challenging.  I know it’s going to be hard, but at the same time it’s going to be exciting.  Isn’t that what life is about anyways?  Challenging ourselves, find our boundaries, push our limits?  Some people are content with their lives not knowing what they are truly capable of and what they can actually accomplish.  We always here that people are all the same and people are equal.  The truth is that we are not equal, we are all different.  Some people say that they can and some people say that they can’t, which one are you?

So 30 days from now I’ll be doing my first Olympic distance triathlon of the season up at Bass Lake.  The course looks stunning compared to the city scape that I usually race in, and of course there will be some altitude.  I’ll be racing Clydesdale for this race as my weight sits around 225-230 but that will depend on what my weight is come the 30th of May.  I signed up for this race on a whim after looking at the course as part of my “1 race per month” goal.  I am out to win Clydesdale as well that is my main goal for the race.   This is a test for the ITU race in June to see where I truly need to improve.  It will most likely still be my run, no surprise there.  It will be a freshwater lake with a hilly bike and a somewhat hilly run.  It’s just what I needed.  It’s also going to be a small triathlon so I’m not expecting the usual glitz and glamour of a race that I normally see.

Now I said summer racing in my title because I fly to Chicago at the end of June for the ITU Triathlon.  Then 2 weeks later I fly to Minneapolis for the Life Time Tri followed by the New York City Triathlon 3 weeks later in August.  First week of September will be the San Diego Triathlon Classic.  2 weeks after that I’ll do the swim portion of the Tri-Rock San Diego.  3 weeks later the San Diego Triathlon Challenge, then the following weekend the Oceanside Life Time Tri.  Then it’s 3 weeks till Ironman Arizona.   We live once and I said last year that it would be fun to go out and see what it’s like to be a travelling triathlete and race like you’re on a racing circuit, 2014 is that year.

Every single person that has done a triathlon of any length can tell you that at some point they have heard from someone that they are crazy.  I hear it on a weekly basis.  I can’t stop but to think that is it really crazy?  Is it crazy that I’m out doing what I set out to do?  Is it crazy that I’m not doing what society dictates what I should be doing?  In case your wondering society thinks that I should wake up every morning grab fast food breakfast on my way to work and then sit in my car in traffic while oogling over my latest technology gadget while on my way to happy hour to meet up with the guys before finally heading home and watching some TV before bed.   All so that I can wake up every day and live to work.  If people think that doing a triathlon is crazy then yes I’m crazy.  I know I’m the type of person who wants to find out how far they can go, where are my limits and do I even have boundaries?   Outside of physical limits the only thing that limits ourselves is our mind.

Oh this 15lbs of fat to lose… you are proving to be very difficult.  Yes I know my diet has been sketchy lately and I have no excuse for it.  Make no mistake you will vanish by the time my Ironman comes around.

Looking Back at My Weight Loss Journey

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It’s hard for me to look at those pictures of me when I was for lack of better words “Fat”.  I had grown to accept that I was going to be fat for the rest of my life.  I had given up on myself.  It’s been a year since I started this blog and I started with me basically coming clean with where I started and what got me going.  It’s been 5 years since I started my weight loss journey.  When I wrote that first blog entry found here I didn’t know if I would be writing it still or that I would become a 70.3 Ironman.  I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to keep the weight off.  It’s been a true lifestyle change and that part I do know.  So how did I do it?  Did I go on some special diet?  Did I go on some brand new exercise diet that the experts hailed as the next best this?

How I did it?
Diet and exercise right, isn’t that what everyone says?  First thing I did was quit drinking.  This was a crutch that I was using to make me feel better about myself.  Then I started eating more cleanly.  While I quit drinking cold turkey I didn’t quit eating crap cold turkey.  It took about 2 months to get completely clean of all the crap.  Now I still have my day a month now where I’ll have a whole medium sized bag of Peanut Butter M&M’s.  I have also noticed that I really have no desire to drink booze.  I can have a beer or glass of whine, and even a cocktail without feeling the “Need” to drink to get drunk.  I also started going to the gym and doing more strength training with very little cardio except for that 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill that progressed into jogging.  The single most important thing though is the mindset of needing to do whatever it takes.  I needed to do whatever it takes to get to where I need to be.

Did I go on some special diet?
Yes, it’s called eating!  The one thing I heard and still hear is people saying don’t eat more than this many calories and it was typically under 1800 calories.   This is disastrous to your metabolism and only makes weight loss harder.  I started eating lots of fruits as snacks and found that I eat all day long.  I also can go out and have just 1 glass of wine or a cocktail and not want to keep drinking till I blackout.  Eating is fueling your body for whatever function you need it to do.  It’s not some glorious experience that’s going to change your life forever so stop treating it like one.  Eat to perform and be your best.

Did I go on some new fad exercise program?
No, I did it through strength training and aerobic cardiovascular exercise.  I’d wake up and go to the gym in the morning… every morning.  The goal was to go before work so that I can’t use the excuse of too tired.  Then I noticed I had a lot more confidence through the day and less stress.  I also ran in the evenings a few times a week.

The one thing that I can say that makes some people successful at weight loss and keeping it off has been keeping the mindset that I will do whatever it takes for me to reach my goals.  So many people think it’s going to be easy and they don’t realize that you’re going to have to make some life choices.  We’ve spent years gaining weight and living an unhealthy lifestyle.  To think that it’s going to be easy to change that is just naïve and ignorant.   Some people chose to to compete in a body building or physique competition to show off their new found fitness.  I went the endurance athlete path and I can honestly say that I’ve found out more about me than I even thought I would.  Set your goals and achieve them.  Don’t expect it to be easy and prepare to suffer at times.   It’s that suffering and struggle that builds the pride within yourself.

Over 150lbs Lost–Now What?

It’s hard to believe that this morning I finally was under 230lbs (229lbs to be exact).  I didn’t think I’d ever be under 300lbs again back in 2009 when I was over 380lbs.  It was an unexpected moment as I stood there looking at the scale and I thought maybe I should get a picture to mark the occasion, but I didn’t.  I jumped off and looked at myself in the mirror and even though I’d physically changed how I looked.  I still had a mental picture that I was still “fat”.  I searched for answers as to why this popped into my head and I had to step back and tell myself that I’m not “fat” I’m “fit”.  I see more muscle definition, less love handles, and not a big ole belly, so progress is progress.

Fighting that fat mentality is a much more difficult fight.  Years of looking in the mirror at the old you has ingrained this image of you that doesn’t just go away over night.  I still see some of the extra skin which is always hard to over come.  You feel it when you’re running and you have to wear compression gear so that it’s not painful during activities.  It affects your self worth and confidence and it doesn’t come back over night.  So why is it that even after losing so much weight people still feel mentally fat?   Well I don’t know I can only speak from my experience.  We turn on TV and see infomercials with “fit” models demoing equipment.  When we are in the gym we see guys and girls who have devoted their lives to being “fit” so we start to associate the 2 that in order to be “fit” we need to have this certain physique about us.  For men it’s we need to have big arms, pecs, and a 6 pack.  Ok some lat’s don’t hurt either.  We (fat people) are brought to believe that there is a singular one-size fits all body type.  When in fact that just is not the case and I’m starting to realize that.  I’m an endurance athlete whose body physique will not be what you see on those commercials or any of the brands that the fitness industry is promoting on their products.  At least not at a competitive level.  It’s just not possible for certain people’s body to do things when they are not built for it.   Just like an endurance athlete could not go out and powerlift at a competitive level.

It’s not a joke or a myth that your mind controls your body in every single facet of real life.  It’s been a slow transformation for me in believing that I’m no longer that 350+lbs guy or 250+lbs guy and as I start doing more and more things that I at one point thought impossible to me (Half Ironman, Ironman, under a 2 hr half marathon, running a 6 min mile) and embracing the mentality that it’s not about what I look like with my body, it’s about what I can achieve with my body.  So as I approach what will most likely be 220lbs of racing weight it will be interesting to see where the journey takes me.  It’s starting to move from not losing weight but losing fat, so soon I’ll be back to some weight training on a more regular basis.

Diet Over The Holiday’s and Looking Ahead to 2014

We all know it’s coming, the holiday cookies, candy, and drinks, but the hardest part is controlling yourself.  You’ve worked so hard through the year to lose weight and keep it off and you don’t want to put it back on.  I can’t say I followed mine to a “T” this year around I did cut back on the usual items and played everything in moderation.  I was 2 weeks into my Half Ironman training but still wanted to enjoy the holidays as well.  My nutritionist won’t be too happy about it but the serious training starts now and I am thankful that I had a solid base level of fitness to improve upon.  So while I kept to my main diet plan I didn’t have seconds of anything on the menu’s and I kept my portions small.  I paid close attention to my macros as well.   Overall I’m sure I put on a few pounds but nothing that won’t shed off come next week.  It was a bit strange to watch everyone going back for more and I wasn’t but that’s just part of how it all goes.   For the most part though everyone was pretty accepting of the fact and yeah some people looked at me like I was nuts.  Well I am nuts, I signed up for an Ironman!

Looking forward to 2014!
Aside from races I have a lot to look forward to and I have a lot of goals lined up personally outside of racing.  So here are a list of my resolutions.

Non racing items.
1. Cut down to 10% body fat.
2. Find more time to date.
3. Complete 1 college course at Mesa College
4. Learn more things to do around San Diego that doesn’t require drinking
5. Listen to more audio books about non-fictional subjects.

Race wise there are a lot more items.
1. Goal time for my Half Ironman under 6 hours.
2. Top 3 finish in my Clydesdale races.
3. Qualify for USAT Nationals in my 35-39 Age Group.
4. Ride a Century before June.
5. Run a 13.1 in 2 hours.

Lofty goals but I feel that they can be achieved.   Here’s to an even better year in 2014.