Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nutrition and Injury

Typically, we don't think of these things mutually. But, in my experience, there is some kind of relation between nutrition and injury. 

If you knew me, and some of you do, you'd know that my triathlon and MTB racing career has been riddled with bumps, bruises, broken bones and over use injuries. So looking back at those injuries I can put some sort of pattern to them.  

One of the most frustrating times for me was when I first started with fitness after years of battering my body with terrible comsumption habits and a sedentary lifestyle. I found myself buying new clothes, year after year, as my waste line expanded. At some point I decided to put a stop to that. I decided to try and start running. Admittedly, I had some knee problems in my youth, however, running, this time around, proved very challenging. My knees were always swollen and sore when I finished a run, and I could forget about putting 2 days running back to back. Eventually, I got fed up, and quit running. I had to move to the bike for a while and concentrate on losing some weight so my body could take the pounding if running. So there is the first time I related nutrition and injury....

1. Solid nutrition will keep you at a healthy weight and make the pounding of certain exercises in your joints a lot less impactful and reduce the chances of injury. 

After a while I lost a considerable amount of weight. One of my MTB buddies was into triathlons, and he convinced me to give one a try. So I gave running a try once again. With the weight loss it was much less painful, and injury ridden. I was able to string back to back days. I stepped it up!  Running was more enjoyable for me, and eventually, I ran a marathon. 

Through all that I still struggled with injuries. So, I looked back to see some commonality. While I can't say for sure some bike crashes or missed steps were due to loose rocks, other riders, or just stupid moves.  I can see some commonality in the timing of injuries. The majority are deep into long days when the body is tired and the mind is struggling to stay focused. There was the second relation between nutrition and injury.

2. While fitness, and the general rules of working out within your endurance limits applies, solid nutrition around and during workouts and races keeps your energy levels higher, and your focus up.  Allowing for better decision making and less mistakes!

Another thing I've observed was getting injuries during the recovery process. After my first marathon I ended up with some foot issues. I had more than likely stress fractured a bone in my foot training for it, and ran through that during the race. So my recovery from it was crucial to continue my plan for other races. I'm pretty sure it was then when I developed a dreaded issue that continues to haunt me today, planter faciitis. I'm not positive proper nutrition would have helped me avoid that injury, but again, it comes back to focus energy and partially the nutrition to sustain that.  At that time I tended to reward myself with food after big races or accomplishments. I was more than likely eating garbage and had no regard for proper recovery nutrition. I remember it taking me much longer than it should have to feel like I was 100% right again after that race. So just maybe, proper nutrition could have helped me recover better from that race, and keep me injury free as I recovered and started training for my next race. There was my last link between nutrition injury. 

3. Proper nutrition will help you in the process of recovery, stave off injury during your recoveries, and help get you ready for that next race safely. 

Obviously, nutrition isn't the only factor in keeping you injury free as you train. But, I can't help observe some of these links. So in addition to my three points above I'll leave you with some other things that I've found, and my coach has given me to help keep the injuries to a minimum. 

   -Proper warmup and cool downs from workouts
   -incorporating adequate rest days
   -staying within your limits, and especially running, respect proper volume building 
   -staying on top of old injuries with stretching and keeping up with therapy exercises
   -a good recovery day routine like the one found here
   -a good bike fit! I happen to know a good bike fitter that is also my coach, you can find info here
   -properly fitting running shoes with appropriate support and keeping them cycled out between 300-400 miles
   -listening to your body and knowing when and how to back off

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eat Dis, Not Dat! Vol. 1

So being, admittedly OCD, I get into a lot of habitual eating. In the past a lot of that eating wasn't the best food/drinks for me. A lot of things, I even thought were "healthy", really weren't. So I've learned to swap out some these foods for more healthy choices. I'd like to share some of those with you. 

Eat dis, not dat!

I'm really busy at work, and work lots of hours. So something easy like cereal was great for me. But most cereals are full of bad things. A lot of them are just a bunch of processed carbs and sugar. Some cereals claim to be "healthy" and some even have whole grains in them, which isn't terrible. But then we add milk from cows pumped full of steroids, and all sorts of un-natural things. Even with organic milk, cereal and milk together is probably more carbs than most people need in a day. We can, certainly, say the same for pancakes, doughnuts, or whatever else bad you're eating in the mornings. 

Swap that cereal out for some eggs and some fruit!  Eggs can be prepared numerous ways and have been referred to as a "superfood". Fruits contain natural sugars and lots of vitamins and minerals you need. Together, they are very filling yet low in calories and full of things your body needs!  Don't be afraid to add some meats in there. Morning is a perfect time to load up in protein.  

Don't eat dat!  While an occasional sandwich with whole wheat bread, organic meat, and some greens are fine.  Most sandwiches are packed with empty calories and preservatives from processes lunch meats and breads. 

Make yourself a salad, or cook up some chicken breasts for the week to take to work with you.  Trust me, most people get more than enough carbs  anyway. You don't need that sandwich. 

3-chips/salty snacks
These things contain almost nothing natural and a whole lot of calories, preservatives, and sodium you don't need. 

Cut yourself up some cucumbers, eat some sugar snap peas, some carrots, or some broccoli quickly steamed in a cup in the microwave with a little water in the bottom and a touch of garlic salt. If you still crave the salt try some dried pork rinds or some beef jerky. 

4-Cookies/ sugary snacks
I don't even have to mention how bad this stuff is.  No, oatmeal raisin is not good for you! Lol

Try a scoop of natural peanut butter or a small square of dark chocolate to get past them sugar cravings. Just don't go overboard. Another good alternative is nuts. Personally, I like to keep a bag of raw almonds in my desk at work for snacks. 

5-Soda/ sugary drinks 
These are so tempting and in your face all the time. Diet soda may even be worse than regular, who knows!  They really don't know a lot about the chemicals in those drinks. Sugary drinks can really add up for calories, and when trying to lose weight almost all processed sugar really is a set back. For me this includes coffee. Because, quite honestly, I am more addicted to the cream and sugar than I am the caffeine!

Tea, water, black coffee, are all good replacements for those sugary drinks. Add a touch of pure honey in your tea to get you past those bad cravings for sugary drinks, or add some low sugar vanilla casin protein powder to help keep you full longer too. Slice up some lemons or cucumbers to put into a pitcher of water for some flavor if you need it. I know other people have thrown in limes or even some fruits for taste. 

Thise are my suggestions to get you out iof those bad habits, and on your way to a healthier way of eating choices.  Make yourself some positive changes!  I made this Vol 1 because as I think I more I'll be sure to share them here. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stuff You Should Eat!

I have to admit I'm extremely simple when it comes to my diet. I'm perfectly fine with eating the same boring things day after day. But I realize some people need variety. So I recruited some help when it came to recipes. Quite frankly, mine are just too boring!  For the first great recipe I asked Tony from to help us out. I paid a visit to Tony, and his Lovely wife Michelle, this weekend and ate this for myself. It was just wonderful!  I want to thank Tony and Michelle so much for the wonderful dinner, and the great write up for the recipe. I even stole the title from Tony on this one!  Thanks again!

From our friend Tony Zamora at
Stuff you should eat – Stuffed Bell Peppers

This time of year, most of my athletes and I are going through our winter preparatory diet phase, in which we are training our bodies to become more metabolically efficient for our spring and summer racing seasons.  To learn more about diet periodization, be sure to read some of Brian’s previous posts. 

During this season, the focus of the diet is to consume as little amount of carbs as possible (I shoot for about 150g a day, or about 1.7g per kilo body weight).  
What I hear a lot form clients during this time is, “how can I make food more appetizing?!”. The standard grilled chicken breast or steak with steamed veggies can get a bit old (although those are still staples in my diet!), so this stuffed bell pepper recipe is basically the same – veggies and meat – just prepared a little differently. 

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30min 
Ingredients (good for 2 people)
   1lb lean ground beef (we prefer grass fed)
   4 medium green bell peppers
   ½ medium yellow onion
   2 roma tomatoes 
   ½ cup shredded cheese
   Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Heat a large frying pan, adding in the garlic to begin to brown
Chop up the onions, add to the garlic to begin to caramelize
Add in the ground beef, mixing well and adding salt and pepper as preferred (I like a lot of pepper)
Once the meat starts browning, add in the chopped tomatoes
Cut the tops of the green peppers and scoop out the insides
Once the tomatoes get soft, you can turn off the frying pan
Scoop the filling mixture into the bell peppers until they are full 
Once all the peppers are full, put the tray into the oven for about 20 minutes, until the peppers get soft
Sprinkle cheese over each pepper, and leave in the oven another 5-10 minutes until the cheese melts

Once the cheese has melted, it’s ready to be served!  Just scoop a pepper onto the plate, and add in an optional side dish.  Here we had an easy dark salad with cucumber and avocado on top. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Successful Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is difficult for most of us.  A lot of us can relate right now, especially, just after the holidays. Looking back we always regret our choices. So I'm going to outline some of my best tips to stay in the healthy eating groove. 

1.  You have to decide this is what you want to do. If you're reading this, you're doing this because you want to be a stronger athlete, lose the extra weight holding you back, and maybe even look good at the beach! 😀  So, it helps to remember that. Get up every morning, look in the bathroom mirror, and tell yourself!  Tell yourself that today you are going make good food choices, and then tell yourself why. 

2.  Hold yourself accountable. If your trying to lose weight, get on the scale once a week, log your meals, and set some goals for yourself.  When you're faced with temptation, you can think of having to face that scale later. It also helps to realize the results that your choices are having whether you are trying to lose weight, or maintain. 

3. Keep busy!  For some of us, boredom is our worst enemy. Stay on top of those workouts, keep up on your projects and hobbies, and/or add a walk or yoga class into your schedule. The point is, keep your time filled so your not sitting in front if the tv eating things you shouldn't. If you don't want to come to head with temptation, stay away from it by doing something else more constructive and keep your mind off of it!

4. Drink your fluids!  Stay away from the sugary and chemical drinks, but stay hydrated. There's been lots of studies around about how staying hydrated and drinking fluids with meals will keep you feeling full. Some studies suggest that warm fluids help you from feeling hungry even more. So go get yourself some tea!

5. Go to sleep!  Sleep helps you in many ways. It's in the sleep cycle that the body kicks off processes to burn fat. It also kicks off processes to recover from the days workouts so you can get back at it again tomorrow. If you don't sleep enough these processes don't kick off. I also find that if you stay up late your more likely to get those cravings for bad foods and take in extra calories. So go to bed before you reach for the cookies while sitting up watching tv!

6.  The last tip for you is PREPARATION! This, IMO, is the most important thing you can do. A lot of us don't have time to prepare healthy meals like we should. So plan these things out!  Have lots of healthy options around so you don't grab the bad things. If you look in my pantry right now you'll see several bags of beef jerky, natural peanut butter, and protein powder. These things, for me, are good for a snack when I'm feeling like I got the munchies.  Peanut Butter can especially satisfy my sweet tooth, and it's full of healthy fats and oils your body needs. All comply with the winter diet.  Having lots of veggies and meats to cook for dinners instead of that microwave meal also helps. Every Sunday night I also like to cook chicken breasts, and put them in the fridge so I have them for lunches all week. A little work now saves me a lot of trouble during the week. Have some hard boiled eggs around for meals and snacks as well.  Personally, I eat about 6 eggs a day!  They help keep me feeling full, and are packed with nutritional value. If you know your going out to eat get online and check the menu. Find something you can eat before you go. If your going to friends for a party call and ask what they are having. If they aren't having anything you can eat, bring something!  It's all about being prepared. 

These are my 6 best tips for successful healthy eating.  These are especially helpful during the winter phase of the periodization plan.  Here's an example of a meal plan outline that I use to keep me on track. Most if these things I cook a head if time, or have in hand ready to stay prepared for the week ahead. 

Breakfast:  3 eggs, a piece if fruit and tea with a touch of honey. 

Snack:  handful of nuts or almonds, maybe some tea with vanilla casin protein powder if I'm still feeling hungry. 

Lunch:  pre-prepared chicken breast, veges, an egg and a spoonful of natural peanut butter. 

Snack:  tea with vanilla casin protein and a handful if nuts or almonds

Pre-workout Snack(at least 2 hours before):  2 eggs and a piece of fruit

Dinner:  whey protein in fruit smoothie, and some beef jerky. (if I'm working out late)
             (If I have time to cook dinner I'll steam some veges and grill some meat.)

Lots of these things can be changed up for variety. Sometimes, I still run out of time, and have to go somewhere to get food. Plan that out too. Know what's around you so you can find something healthy. Again, it all comes down to being prepared.