Sunday, December 29, 2013


Truth be told....

I've lost faith in traditional diets. I can pretty much say I've tried most of them over the years. None of them do a very good job of teaching you how to maintain or keep the weight off so you always seem to snap back to being fat!  

What I've learned over the years is pretty simple. Be active, minimize processed foods, eat more cleanly, and your weight will fall where it is supposed to be!   Diet is more a life long commitment.  

What I do believe in is some sort of diet periodization. Just like how we, as endurance athletes, periodize our workouts to peak for our most important races, we can peak with our diets. If we do this in a "clean eating" manor, you will hit that race weight just in time for those Spring races, be well fueled for your races, and maintain a pretty healthy weight range all year round. 

I usually only break the periods into three phases. 
1- The in season phase Spring through Fall. In this phase you want to eat cleanly and have a moderate amount of healthy carbs. Preferably from whole grains, brown rice, fruits, and natural foods. 
2- The winter phase. This is where you want to eliminate carbs, sugar and alcohol. Eat sugary fruits sparingly and mostly after workouts. No pasta, potatoes, or sugar. Workout with water only. Try a sweet potato for fuel in long rides 2 hours or more) or after them. Mix a fruit smoothie with whey protein that has very low sugar/carb content. Eat lots of lean meats and vege's and nuts. For little treats occasionally indulge in a glass if red wine, and small amounts if dark chocolate. 
3- The pre race, or peak phases.  About a week or two before races you'll want to add in a bit more carbs like while wheat pastas and brown rice. 

Besides being a good guide for endurance athletes, what does this diet accomplish?

Theoretically, the winter phase trains your body to burn fat more efficiently. There have been a number of studies that say fat is the bodies most efficient source if fuel. Late in those endurance races our bodies have run out of carbs/sugars to burn and can't process what we feed it in time to burn it as fuel. So our bodies resort to burning fat for fuel. 

The other phases maintain a healthy weight and keep you properly fueled for your races. all honesty I have no proof that this actually works except my own experience. Last year was the first time I used this winter phase. All I can say is I saw a noticeable difference late in races and long workouts. I had far less issues with fatigue, cramping and my body seemed to get stronger as the days went on. I also didn't seem to need as much fuel during long workouts. I got down to my lowest weight since high school by Spring last year, while still gaining power and speed across all 3 of my workout disciplines. So I'd have to say that I'm a believer in this type of periodization for diet for more reasons than one! 

Next post I'm going to talk about a general meal plan for day to day eating and outline some ideas for prep and successful management of healthy eating. 

Stay tuned!!!...... 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Years Resolution = FAIL!

Why do soooooo man New Years Resolutions end in failure?

The New Years Resolution actually came from a religious origin. The first resolutioners are thought to be Babylonians who made promises to their gods to do, or not do certain things in their gods pleasing. Some of us Christians can relate to this in modern days with lent. The point is, that resolutions are deeply rooted in tradition. As in religion, these resolutions tend to turn out to be things that we don't "want" to do. 

I mentioned in my first post that I'm not here for a pep talk. Healthy lifestyle is something that you have to want to do. Making a resolution about something you don't want to do is just like giving up something for the Lental Season. What happens when Lent is over?  Most people go back to whatever it is they gave up!  Nutrition doesn't work that way. You can't be can't turn it on for a couple months and expect it to last a lifetime. Even if you have a successful year you can feasibly unravel all progress in a very short time. I'm not by far the first person to say this, but health and fitness is a lifestyle

So what about resolutions?  I vividly remember the time I first started on my fitness journey. I was overweight and kept gaining and gaining. I was tired of buying clothes every time I outgrew them, I was tired of sitting at my desk feeling my stomach roll over my belt, and I was tired of being sluggish. So, instead of buying new pants again I started running. That didn't last long!  It turned out I didn't enjoy running much. Mainly because I was heavy enough that the stress on my knees was pretty painful. So I bought a bike. That bike turned into a passion that I have years later. Plus, I came back to running and after losing weight and building a base that allowed me to run some decent distance, I really enjoy it!  Add swimming, and I went from couch potato to triathlete!

I'm not saying this is what you should do. This turned out to be my Active Path.  You may find a similar path or find your own. But, to me, this was the most important aspect of dedicating your time and effort to a healthy lifestyle. A resolution will fail! A passion for something that gives you a reason to live a healthy lifestyle will last!

Find what you are passionate about. Try some things out. It may be endurance racing, it may be group bike rides at the local gym, it may be mountain climbing, mountain biking, hiking, tough mudders, , running, motor cross or even cooking!  Just find something that gives you a reason to eat properly and excercise regularly. Don't make a mindless resolution you KNOW you're going to hate!!!

Denial, da!, not a River!

Well....  It's the day after Christmas. I hope it was a good one!  I hope you had fun spending time with family and friends. 

I want to talk a little about that today. One thing I've learned over years of weight struggles was the effect of family and friends. One of the biggest traditions in society through history is sharing food and drink as way to pass time together. Who you eat and drink with is, many times, the people who are closest to you. So by all means eat, drink, and be merry!

When you do though, look around the table. You'll see that sometimes your friends and family aren't the same as you. One person at the table may be able to eat whatever they want and still stay skinny. Another may not be concerned about weight at all, and still others may even make attempts to get you to eat and drink things you shouldn't!  

Don't DENY the fact that you are different!  Your body may react differently to different foods, or portions than others do. Plus, if you're reading this, you probably have different goals than the others at the table do.  I am personally not one of those people who can put away gobs of food, and drink growlers of beer and not pay the price. I look at that stuff and it seems to stick right to my belly!  It's hard work and lots of dedication for me to stay thin. It was extremely difficult for me to get thin!  So don't let someone else tell you what's best for you. Listen to you're own body, and eat what you need to eat in order to meet your goals. 

I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to caving in to the pressure of friends and family. So what do you do when you make a mistake?  Daaaaaa!  You brush it off.  Get back up the next morning and get back into your healthy routine!  I can't tell you how many times I've done the wrong thing and fell into, what I call, the "might as well" mentality.  Meaning I got up the next day and head to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts and ordered a large cream and sugar with a cinnamon roll. I figured I'd already blew it the night before, "might as well" do it again this morning. Don't be that short sighted. 

When it comes to your diet I find it best to think in terms of weeks instead of days or meals. That one mistake will cost you a whole week of weight loss, or give you a good pound or two in a maintenance phase. So don't get caught up in meal to meal or compound a mistake meal into a mistake day or week. Dust yourself off and put it back on track!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

APN's Intro

For my first post I want to introduce myself. I'm  a normal person. I work a demanding and stressful job. I have all the time constraints that most people have. But I'm not satisfied  being normal, when it comes to my health. I don't want to be an average person, which by today's medical standards means you weigh enough that body fat is still perfectly visible, and certainly inhibits athletic performance.  I'm a triathlete, a runner, a cyclist, a mountain biker, and generally an active person. I decided to do all this after years of  abusing my body and sedentary lifestyle. I've come a long way, and even had some successes in racing. I've listened to coaches, went to seminars, read books, and countless articles on these subjects.  I'm, by far, not a natural athlete. My success only comes from hard work and dedication. The one thing that's always been a struggle for me is weight!!!

So that's what this blog is about. I've been fat, and I've been slim. I know the effects of being fat on my athletic performance. I know how I got fat, and I know how I got thin!  Problem is, I always seem to be on my way to one or the other. There's no in between with me. So here I hope to document some of these things in a series of articles. My hope is that it will help me stay honest with myself, stay more on the side of getting thin than getting fat, and hopefully help some others that have similar struggles, or just want to find some healthy meal plans and maybe some good recipes.

What I won't do....
-sell you crap!  This blog isn't meant to be a sales pitch
-pretend everyone is the same and should do what I do. One thing that people misunderstand about health and fitness is that one size does not fit all. People have different likes/dislikes and peoples body's respond differently to different methods, foods, workouts, etc..
-preach!  I'm not here for your pep talk, you need to want this!

What I will do....
-write articles that explain nutrition struggles and offer real non gimmick answers
-encourage you to find out what works for you as opposed to canned programs and fads
-share meal plans
-share some yummy recipes
-hope that I can help others find success in fitness and nutrition.

Disclaimer- The contents if this blog are purely suggestions and observations of my own experiences. They are in no way medical advice. Please consult a doctor before considering any diet or changes in your own consumption patterns. Be safe, and be smart!