Learning to Love Turmeric

turmeric picI’ve been wanting to write a blog on turmeric for awhile, as it’s one of my latest “discoveries”. Well, I’ve been wanting to write ANY blog lately, so here it goes!

Turmeric is one of the latest “in” spices in the United States, but in places such as India they have known for a long time that this spice has many health benefits.  There it is used not only in cooking dishes, but in medicines as well and it is thought to help with a multitude of ailments.

Curcumin is the main compound in turmeric that has been studied for its health benefits, primarily the fact that it is an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.  It is well established that chronic inflammation is bad for us, so turmeric may have a role in fighting that, but the dose is up for debate, as it probably takes more turmeric than you would find in a single entrée to receive any real health benefit. It is of note that curcumin is only a small constituent of turmeric, and not a well absorbed one at that. It is better absorbed if consumed with black pepper, but still the amount one gets from food is relatively small, unless consumed on a regular basis-which maybe we should be!

Turmeric may also help with improved brain function and heart health, as well as cancer prevention. The list goes on, although those are the main ones with the most research on them.  Given all these possible health benefits, I think it’s worth incorporating turmeric into your diet, as long as you are not relying on it alone to fix any health issues. You may have even had turmeric already and not even known it- it’s what gives curry its yellow color. By the way it can stain, so be careful when cooking with it. I have the yellow baking sheets to prove that!

You can buy turmeric supplements to get a bigger dose, but I always prefer food first. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, so can easily be added to dishes you already make. Try adding it to soups, stews, and curries, sprinkling it over roasted sweet potato cubes or eggs, or try the recipe below.


Cauliflower “Buddha” Bowl with Chicken Sausage

Makes 2 servings

2 cups cauliflower rice (can find pre-made at Trader Joes)

2 cups shredded or quartered Brussels sprouts (can find pre-shredded at Trader Joes)

1 small sweet potato, peeled and shredded

2 sweet apple chicken sausage links (pre-cooked), sliced into ½ inch thick coins

2 eggs, poached

1 teaspoon turmeric

Black pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

Light/cooking olive oil


Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add cauliflower, turmeric, and black pepper and mix well. Add Brussel sprouts to cauliflower and cook until soft, 5-10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Add chicken sausage and cook another 2-3 minutes, until sausages are warmed and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat another tablespoon of olive oil and add sweet potato. Cook hash brown style, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, 10-15 minutes.

Eggs may be poached or cooked sunny side up in a small pan with cooking spray. Leave yolks slightly runny to create a “sauce” for the bowl.

Divide all ingredients evenly amongst 2 bowls and top with poached eggs. Mix and enjoy!


My New Favorite Snack

ants on a log    When it comes to snacking, I’ve been getting in touch with my inner child lately, and I’m super happy about it! I hate to admit it, but I quite often get stuck in snack ruts. I bring the same old snacks to work, get sick of them, decide not to eat them, and then get so hungry that I find myself reaching for something sugary to quickly satisfy the intense hunger. Now don’t get me wrong, I love sugar and I still believe a sugary treat is fine in moderation, but when I snack on cookies or cupcakes or whatever sugar I can find I’m usually hungry again within the hour and I don’t feel as energized or satisfied as I do when I eat a more productive snack.   So because of this cycle I’ve been perusing the grocery aisles more thoroughly these days, and that is how I discovered my new favorite snack: ants on a log. For those of you with deprived childhoods, ants on a log is celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins on them. And it’s delicious. I first discovered this as a ready-made snack pack at Target, but it was fairly expensive so I decided to start making my own and it’s so simple I had to share!

So here’s why I recommend you try my new favorite snack too:

The taste: The crunch of the celery combined with the creaminess of the peanut butter and a hint of sweet from the raisins is culinary perfection (well maybe not quite, but it’s darn good!). Plus the raisins help satisfy a sweet tooth!

The cost: Celery is super cheap and raisins aren’t too expensive themselves. Depending on if you purchase regular or all-natural peanut butter will determine if the peanut butter is cheap per se, but even all natural is a pretty good bang for your buck when you consider a serving size. I recommend all-natural to avoid trans fat and added sugars.

The nutrition: Although celery gets a bad rep for being plain or “basically just water”, it does provide some important nutrients. Also, the fact that it as a high water content is not bad as this contributes to our daily fluid needs. Celery also provides small amounts of vitamins C, K, folate, and potassium to name a few. It’s also a good source of fiber and antioxidants. Plus, having celery as part of a snack is a good way to increase your overall daily vegetable intake, which most Americans don’t meet the recommendation for (5 servings a day, minimum). In addition to the celery, you get some fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B-6 in the raisins. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats but you could easily sub almond butter (or any nut butter) if that’s your preference.

So in short ants on a log will keep your stomach satisfied and your taste buds happy…and it might just help make your day a little more fun.

Recipe: Quinoa with Spinach, Almonds, and Cranberries

You’ve heard by now that quinoa is good for you.  Whole grain, high protein, high fiber, and gluten free….need I say more? Plain quinoa, however, is a little boring so spice dinner up with the recipe below. It saves well for leftovers and can be served with a protein and veggie of your choice for a complete and delicious meal.


Tofu and Brussels sprouts make it a delicious and healthy meal!

Makes 4 servings

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups spinach

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 TBSP olive oil

2 cups vegetable broth

Cook quinoa based on package directions using vegetable broth instead of water (usually 2 cups liquid for 1 cup quinoa and simmer for 15-20 minutes). Add dried cranberries and almonds during last 2 minutes of cooking and stir.

While quinoa cooks wilt spinach in olive oil over medium heat. Add cooked spinach to quinoa mixture and stir to fluff. Serve warm.

Reaching My Goals

DSC03623Yup, I’m going to Disneyland! It all started with a bet of sorts at the beginning of the summer.  I told my boyfriend that if I met my time goals in my 3 big races of the summer (Mt Evan Ascent, Pikes Peak Ascent and Denver Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon) he had to go to Disneyland with me.  I then set what I figured would be achievable but tough time goals.  Since I had never raced Evans or Pikes before I had to guess at what would be a good time goal.  I chose sub 3 hours for Evans because that is the time women need to break to get a special trophy rock, which I really wanted!  For Pikes I chose sub 4 hours, since rumor is most people take about an hour longer in that race compared to Evans and because that time would qualify me for wave 1 next year (technically sub 4:15 would do that but I wanted wiggle room!).  I had more data to use for choosing my half marathon time goal, as I’d ran 5 in the past, although only trained seriously for 2 of them.  My PR was 1:48:40 last January at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, but I really wanted to be able to average an 8 min/mile or below for the race, so I set my goal as sub 1:45.

In early October, with my Evans and Pikes goals under my belt, I started freaking out about the half marathon.  Although the time goal had seemed possible when I set it, I’d spent most of the summer running up mountains and at altitude, running more like an 11 min/mile than an 8.  Some unidentified foot pain and a cold set my training back a bit, and although I’d managed to do a few good speed and hill workouts, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to break 1:45.

The week before my race, I took my own blog advice and started focusing on Visualization and also worked on my Mental Toughness. I pictured myself on the course running a smooth and fast race, and told myself that this goal was possible but that to achieve it I needed to be willing to push myself to a place I have never been before.  Basically, I prepared to hurt!  I followed all of my usual sports nutrition strategies. I ate well and slightly upped my carbs for a few days.  I hydrated.  The morning of my race I had my typical pre-race breakfast: wheat toast with peanut butter, honey, and a banana (and coffee of course).  Forty-five minutes before the race I drank a Generation UCAN, as I didn’t want to mess with needing a gel during such a short race but knew I’d be pretty glycogen depleted by the end.

And then, I was off!  My heel started hurting right away, but I ignored it and it went away.  As the first few miles ticked by I realized that I was actually ahead of pace, running closer to a 7:30 min/mile.  I was slightly concerned that I was going too fast and might burn out, so I slowed down a tad but made sure to stay ahead of pace.  I grabbed a sip of water at the aid stations around miles 3 and 6.  I felt awesome when I was able to get a hole in one with my water cup at the mile 6 aid station!  Then, as I weaved around City Park, I got tired.  The middle miles are the worst for me. I’m not close enough to the end to even think about just pushing it to the finish line, but I’m not at the beginning and feeling fresh either.  Luckily, my mom jumped out with the “I’m Going to Disneyland!” sign around mile 7 and I got a surge of energy, reminding myself that I had goals to meet!  After slowing to get water at the mile 9 aid station, I had a hard time making my legs speed back up and realized it probably wasn’t a good idea to slow down and get water at any further aid stations, less I risk my legs failing me.  The last 4 miles my legs started to hurt more but I was still on pace and so I pushed through.  I sang some of my favorite running songs in my head.  I pictured my running inspirations.  I’d like to give a shout out to the woman in Cheeseman Park with the sign that read “Pain is temporary, but posting on Facebook is forever!”  as it totally helped me push through the little hills of Cheeseman.  I was in pain, but I really wanted to be able to post my success on Facebook. Lame? Maybe, but it got me through the last few miles!  After exiting Cheeseman I knew I only had a mile left, so I kept reminding myself how easy a mile is to run.  It’s just one mile! (You have to forget that you’ve just run 12 other miles when using this technique).  As I rounded the corner to the final sprint I almost got teary.  I was going to shatter my time goal!  I had been seriously concerned I was not going to break 1:45 and now I was doing it.  I crossed the finish line in 1:42:33.  It felt awesome.  Although I’d gone into the race saying I was going to retire from this flat fast running nonsense after this race, I left it wondering what else I could accomplish.  Sub 1:40?  Who knows what’s possible?!

Looking back I realized that my altitude training had actually helped me in the half.  I couldn’t believe how awesome my lungs felt the whole time, even when my legs were tiring.  There was a time when running continuous sub 8 min miles would’ve left me gasping for breath, but after running at 14,000 feet all summer, the Mile High City air felt like it was 100% oxygen.  I guess I stocked up on red blood cells over the summer!  I know it’s opposite of the “live high, train low” philosophy but it worked for me.

Besides recapping my race, I guess the message I wanted to convey with this blog is that we as humans are capable of so much more than we realize when it comes to athletics.  We are able to hit our limits physically and mentally, and to somehow keep going.  We are able to push ourselves to places we didn’t know we could go, but only if we are willing to challenge our minds and our bodies.  Some people might be thinking “yeah sure it’s possible, but what’s the point?”  To them I guess I would say you won’t know until you try!

Age: It’s Just a Number Right?


My goal is always to get to the top of the hill, not over it!

Today is my 31st birthday.  I’ve never been one to really freak out about birthdays and getting older.  There are moments when it sucks though.  Like when my dad told me last year “ya know, you’re getting to the age where you just don’t recover from your workouts as well”.  Thanks dad.  But I’ve always said that age is just a number, and luckily I have great examples of that in my life to keep me inspired as the years keep piling on.  My dad regularly kicks my ass on the road bike.  My mom can do 10 times more pull-ups than I can.  Literally.  I can barely muster 1 and she can bust out 10.  And my 80 year old grandma still hikes almost every day.  Maybe it’s good genes, maybe it’s hard work, or both, but it’s inspiring to have examples of people who don’t let age slow them down.  So on this day I decided to look up statistics on age and athletic endeavors that are inspiring and motivating.  I apologize if any of these stats are incorrect, as they are not well researched (just a quick Google search).  Even if they are, they are still pretty darn impressive!

  • Oldest person to climb Everest: Yuichiro Miura, who summited the highest peak in the world at age 80 this year.  He also climbed it at age 70 and 75.
  • Oldest marathon runner: Fauja Singh, who completed Toronto’s Waterfront Marathon in 2011 at the age of 100!  By the way, he STARTED running at age 89.
  • Oldest Ironman finisher:  Lew Hollander, who finished the Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 2011 at age 81.  If you think he was the only one in his age category, think again. He had competition in 81 year old France Cokan.
  • Oldest Olympian: Oscar Swahn, who competed in shooting in the 1920 Olympics at the age of 72.  He was good too, winning the gold medal in the 1912 Olympics (at age 64)!
  • Oldest Tour de France rider: Henri Paret, who was 50 years when he competed in 1904 (okay that one is not as inspiring as the others, but still pretty incredible for a race that tough!)
  • Oldest Pikes Peak Ascent finisher (male): Ivor L Welch, who completed the 1980 Ascent at age 85.
  • Oldest Pikes Peak Ascent finisher (female): Kay Martin, who completed the 2012 Ascent at age 75.

Age is not an excuse!

Racing Weight and Healthy Weight Loss

food scale

Don’t try this at home. Actually, don’t weigh your food anywhere. Ever.

It’s a diet obsessed world out there.  It’s sad, really, how much our society focuses on looks and thinness.  Working in the eating disorder field I’ve grown to hate the “D” word.  But this is not a blog about the pitfalls of our society.  No, this is a blog about finding the balance between managing ones weight for sports performance and not sacrificing ones mental and physical health in the process.  There are many athletes with unhealthy and disordered eating habits and athletes are thought to be at a higher risk for developing an eating disorder.  This is not surprising seeing as the reality is that weight does, to some extent, affect endurance sports performance.  Some runner’s talk about their racing weight as if it was a holy grail that they would do anything to obtain.  You hear stats like “your mile time improves by 10 seconds for every pound lost”, or some crap like that.  Cyclists talk about how every pound lost improves power output by so much.  I don’t remember the specific statistic because I don’t care.  I mostly ride my bike because it’s fun.  It’s important not to lose sight of that in the process of trying to lose weight.  You probably started running or riding because it was fun too.  Sure there is a correlation between weight and performance-to some extent– but I challenge any athlete to cut off their hand (that weighs about a pound right?) and suddenly drop 10 seconds from their mile time! Okay, I kid, but seriously, the point is that the mere act of losing weight will not necessarily guarantee that your performance improves.  Lose too much weight or lose weight too quickly and your performance will suffer.  And you might lose your love for the sport in the process.

If you want to lose weight solely because you feel you don’t look like the stereotypical runner/cyclist/fill in the blank kind of athlete then stop right there.  Athletes come in all shapes and sizes and I am a firm believer of not modifying ones diet and exercise in order to change how one looks.  If your only motivation for weight loss is because you think you “have” to or because you want to look better in your underwear then this is probably not the blog for you.  Trust me it’s not worth risking falling into disordered eating or even a full blown eating disorder.  I’ll even admit to my eating disorder patients: sure you can modify your nutrition and exercise to manipulate your body to look however you want, but at what cost? What kind of life would that be? How about working on body acceptance instead of weight loss?

Losing weight for health or sports performance is different, but even those motivations can be taken too far.  It’s not always easy to know when an innocent desire to drop a few pounds to become a better athlete starts to become an unhealthy obsession with weight. As an athlete AND an eating disorder professional, I am acutely aware of the issue and believe that I have developed a pretty healthy and moderate approach to the subject.  I truly believe that if you focus on training right and eating well your weight and body composition will take care of themselves over time.  However, if you feel that some weight loss is truly justified and want to get a jump start read on to learn how to do it as healthfully (for your mind and body) as possible.  I could probably write a book on this topic (maybe I will someday…..) but below are some of my top tips.

  • Don’t count calories.  Just because you meet your body’s caloric needs doesn’t mean you are eating right or getting the nutrients your body needs.  You could meet your daily caloric needs with ice cream for Heaven’s sake!  Calorie counting can easily become compulsive, as it puts so much emphasis on hitting numbers and looking at nutrition labels.  Instead of counting calories, count servings from the food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, proteins, and fats.   All the rest, desserts and alcohol for example, would fall into the category of extras and you wouldn’t have a target for those, you would just aim to not have too many of them! (Not sure how many of each group you need? Consult an RD!)
  • Keep a food journal.  But not all the time, especially if you know this tends to become a compulsive “diet” activity for you.  Keeping a food journal for a few days will give you a picture of how much you are getting from all of the food groups mentioned above.  Once you know your baseline, you can work on eating more from some of the food groups, and possibly less from others.  Keeping a food journal can also help you keep tabs on mindless eating and boredom eating, which are common problems.  A handful of food here and there might not seem like a lot in your head, but it can add up quickly, and having it on paper helps put it in perspective.
  • Keep an eye on portions.  Most people have no concept of portions, and it’s not surprising given the ridiculous amount of food we are served at some restaurants.  Note: a giant plate of pasta does not count as one serving.  One grain’s worth of pasta is actually only ½ cup- the size of ½ of a baseball.
  • Focus on what you want to eat more of, not less.  The answer will probably be vegetables and fruits, as most Americans don’t meet the minimum recommendations of 5-9 servings/day.  I think that it’s mentally more helpful to focus on what you want to eat more of, instead of what you want to eat less of, since telling yourself you can’t have something will likely make you want it more (blame human nature). Plus, I find that when I’m able to up my vegetable intake I naturally do not have room for, or crave, the less than healthy foods I typically like (desserts and wine mmm!).
  • Choose foods that don’t come in a package more often than not.  You’ve also probably heard that it’s best to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s because that is where most of the whole foods are, like fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, and to some extent whole grains.   There are plenty of healthful foods that come in packages though, so don’t avoid the inner aisles completely.  When buying packaged products aim for ones with very few ingredients (i.e. if you are buying brown rice the ingredient list should look like this- ingredients: brown rice).
  • Don’t make food rules.  Then you fall into the good food, bad food trap and feel like a bad person when you eat a “bad” food.  Take the judgment out of eating. There are no “good” foods and “bad” foods.  Just foods. Some foods you should eat more often and some foods should be occasional treats.
  • Don’t skip breakfast.  I truly believe it’s the most important meal of the day and studies have consistently shown that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast skippers.  This could be because skipping breakfast makes you hungrier and more likely to overeat later in the day.
  • Listen to your body.  Try to check in with your hunger.  If you are hungry eat.  If not, wait until you start to feel some hunger.  Don’t wait until you are starving to start eating, as you will be more likely to reach for high sugar/more processed foods and to over eat.  Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed.
  • Plan ahead.  Think about what you want to make for your meals during the week and make sure you have the food on hand.  I know that if I leave work hungry and with no dinner plan I’m not going to have the patience to go to the store and cook something healthy. I’m doing take out.  Same with snacks. Bring your own snacks to work so that you don’t have to rely on the office donuts for a mid afternoon pick me up.
  • Drink up.  Water that is.  Thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  Make sure you are meeting your fluid needs.  Not sure if you are? Hint: your urine should be a very pale yellow.
  • Know when to use sports nutrition products.  Sports drinks, energy gels, and protein shakes are all great when used appropriately.  But if you are drinking Gatorade throughout the day or eating gels on 45 minute runs you are taking in more sugar and calories than you need to be.
  • Be safe.  DO NOT use diet pills, laxatives, diuretics, or any other weight loss aid. Period.
  • Monitor your body fat too, not just weight.  Your body fat percentage tells you a lot more than a number on the scale. Healthy ranges are:
Males Females Rating
5-10 8-15 Athletic
11-14 16-23 Good
15-20 24-30 Acceptable
21-24 31-36 Overweight
>24 >37 Obese

(from Sport Nutrition, 2nd Edition, by Asker Jeukendrup, PhD, and Michael Gleeson, PhD, on the Human Kinetics publishing website)

  • Don’t weigh yourself more than once a day.  Don’t even weigh every day if you can help it. Your weight will fluctuate naturally from day to day and seeing those fluctuations may just psych you out. It’s more important to look at overall trends, taken into consideration with body fat percentage, than daily numbers.
  • Be realistic. Set small and slow weight loss goals.  If you lose too much weight or lose it too quickly you will sacrifice your performance. You shouldn’t lose more than 1-2 pounds/week.  You might not lose any weight one week, and that’s okay too-it doesn’t mean you need to lose more the next.
  • Monitor your sports performance as you lose.  You may not need to lose as much as you think to hit those time goals.  You may also need to accept that your body may be built a certain way, and to change that may involve extreme deprivation or excessive exercise.  If you find that you have to cut your intake to the point of starving to drop weight your body is telling you something. Listen to it.
  • Train right.  As I mentioned above, to some extent your body will adapt and change naturally in response to your training. Be patient with this process.  Try to focus more on your training then your weight.
  • Don’t try to lose weight during the middle of your racing season.  Your performance will likely suffer if you do so.  The off season and pre-season are actually the best time to tackle weight loss goals.

The Not So Simple Science of Hydration

ImageYou would think that hydration requirements would be pretty straight forward.  Your body needs water, so it’s good for you right?  Well, yes, and it’s not that simple.  While sports dietitians have long known about the dangers of hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) due to drinking too much water, they don’t always agree on how much water you need when exercising, what the optimal carbohydrate concentration in a sports drinks is (not to mention when to start using one), if coconut water is a superior hydrator, or even when and how much electrolytes to include. 

I myself am in the process of trying to figure out my hydration strategy for my next race, the Mt Evans Ascent.  Being at altitude means I’ll have increased fluid needs from increased respiration, both from being at altitude and because I will be running uphill.  However, if I drink too much water I may experience that uncomfortable sloshing feeling.  Also, if I drink too many carbs I run the risk of GI distress, particularly stomach cramps and nausea, something that has on occasion been an issue for me. Below are some general hydration tips, and how I’m planning to implement, or ignore, them.  The bottom line is that it’s important to personalize your own nutrition and hydration strategies and to practice them before race day!

  • The main goal of consuming water during exercise is to replace water lost as sweat and prevent dehydration.  General recommendations are to drink 6-12 ounces every 15-20 minutes (18-48 oz every hour) and 16 oz of water for every pound lost after exercise.  The reality is that water needs vary from person to person, and some people can get away with drinking less water during exercise than others without sacrificing performance.  While it was originally thought that water weight loss as little as 2% during exercise could hinder performance, some researchers are not saying that is not the case.  It also depends on if you are running in the heat or not-you can lose more water weight in the cold and not sacrifice performance.  To calculate your personal sweat rate you need to weigh yourself naked before and immediately after a 1 hour run.  The difference, in ounces, is how much water you need to drink during your run.  So for instance if I weighed 2 pounds less after my 1 hour run I would need to drink 32 oz/hour (16 ounces in a pound). Of course this test assumes you didn’t drink anything during your run. If so, you have to factor that in.  For short runs it’s probably not necessary to bring water, as long as you are not starting dehydrated and make sure to drink water afterwards. 


  • Conventional (sports nutrition) wisdom has called for sports drinks with a 6-8% carbohydrate concentration (meaning 6-8 grams of carbohydrate per 100mL) for exercise greater than 60 minutes.  Anything higher than that is too concentrated for your stomach to handle during exercise and may result in GI issues and actually hurt your hydration.  There is some data that suggests that even 6-8% is too much for optimal hydration.  From this data have come products such as Skratch Labs and Osmo, which have a 3-4% carbohydrate concentration.  Everyone’s stomach is different, so some people may be able to tolerate a 6-8% concentration drink such as Gatorade, others might not.  I personally have a very hard time tolerating products such as Gatorade, which falls in the 6-8% range.  Check out the link at the bottom for an article on why too high of a concentration may actually dehydrate you.  Listen to your gut (pun intended) and practice drinking different amount of fluids with different carb concentrations to see what makes you feel your best (and fastest).


  • Ah how the coconut is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame. Coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut oil are all enjoying some good press these days it seems.  Coconut water is higher in potassium than pretty much any sports drink, and is marketed as being the perfect hydrator.  However, sodium is the main electrolyte lost during exercise, not potassium, and coconut water provides very little sodium.  So if you are a heavy sweater or a salty sweater who prefers to use coconut water during exercise you’ll have to make sure to get your sodium in some other way, like salt tabs.  There is no good data to prove that coconut water hydrates better than plain water, so don’t feel like you have to use it if you don’t like it.  I had major GI distress the one time I drank it before a run, and almost had to stop running for fear of throwing up. I’m not sure what that was related to, because I have never had a problem with coconut water after exercise and do sometimes use it as a post run beverage because I like the flavor. More evidence for practicing your sports nutrition strategy before race day!


  • When does one start needing electrolytes?  Generally for workouts lasting longer than 60 minutes.  This is also the time frame where you may need a sports drink of some kind as well.  If you are doing an intense workout or tend to be a heavy sweater you may want to start including them sooner though.   Use your judgment.  I generally don’t take a carbohydrate or electrolyte supplement for any flat run less than 8 miles (which would take me a bit over an hour). For a hill workout I may take electrolytes sooner, but not necessarily carbs.  The recommendation is for 250-500 mg Sodium per hour, which is hard to get in most sports drinks without drinking way more fluid than necessary. This is where electrolyte replacement tabs may come in handy.

My plan:  For the Mt Evans Ascent I plan on wearing a small water belt that contains two 8 oz bottles.  I’m thinking in one bottle I will have plain water and in the other I will put a half tab of Gu Brew electrolyte tabs (1 tab has 10 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 320 mg Sodium, 55 mg Potassium), but I may decide to do electrolyte in both (game time decision!). I plan on bringing 2 more tabs to use to refill the bottle, ½ tab at a time.  I plan on using gels for carbohydrates instead of a sports drink. Since I’ll be running close to 3 hours, I will need anywhere from 54-144 oz of fluids during the race.  Sadly, I have not calculated my own sweat rate (note to self: calculate sweat rate), so I’ll have to estimate. My goal is to drink both of the water bottles (so 16 oz) per hour, which is a little under the general recommendations, but I want to avoid that sloshing feeling.  Especially since I also worry a lot about drinking too much during the race and having to stop at the bathroom!  If it’s cold I may have a hard time with even 16 oz per hour.  Since I tend to drink on the mid-lower side of water requirements, I make sure to really focus on proper hydration after!



For an interesting read on Osmo and hydration:


More interesting info (if you’re a sports nutrition nerd that is):




Disclaimer: I have no relationship with any of the above mentioned products


Why Bother Exercising

I’m still in the process of re-posting blogs from my old site.  Here’s an old one on exercise. I’m assuming most people reading this blog are already fairly into fitness but it never hurts to have a reminder as to why exercise is good for you!

iron horse

If you read the title of this blog and thought “Great, she’s going to tell me it’s not all that important” you couldn’t be more wrong. Making regular physical activity a part of your lifestyle is probably the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health. Nutrition advice can get confusing but exercise advice is pretty straight forward: it’s good for you and most people don’t do enough.   As more and more studies on physical activity are completed more health benefits are discovered. Sadly, over half of all US adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise and our health and waistlines are suffering because of that.

The health benefits of exercise are numerous:

  • Decreases risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, and breast cancer
  • Decreases stress, enhances mood and reduces depression
  • Improves body image
  • Helps maintain bone and joint health
  • Helps maintain or reach a healthy weight
  • Improved heart health, cardiovascular fitness, and muscle strength
  • Better sex drive!
  • And….it can be fun! Seriously, one of the main reasons I exercise is because I truly enjoy it.  The trick is to find the type of exercise that you find fun.  For instance, I love running, cycling hiking, skiing…but put me in a group fitness class and I’ll be hating life for the next 60 minutes.  If you enjoy the exercise, you’ll be more likely to stick with it than if you force yourself to do something you hate. That’s not building a good relationship with exercise!

Just how much physical activity does it take? The guidelines are as follows:

  • For general health: 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days (or about 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity/week)
  • For weight loss: 60-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day

Moderate intensity activities are those that elevate your heart rate and increase breathing rate but are still easy enough that you can talk (but not sing) while doing them. Examples include brisk walking, dancing, gardening/yard work, pedaling easily on a bike, and light weight lifting.

Vigorous activities are more intense. You should be breathing hard enough that you cannot carry on a normal conversation. Examples include running, bicycling, aerobics, basketball, and heavy weight lifting.

The intensity that you exercise at will be dictated by your health and goals. Do not start out too intensely or you risk injury. If you haven’t been exercising or have health complications begin at a low/moderate intensity. If you’ve already been exercising moderately for awhile you may see improvements by taking it up to a more vigorous level. It is important to continually change up your workouts (whether intensity, time, or type of exercise) to make sure that you are constantly challenging your body and to prevent burnout.  The human body is highly adaptable and after months of nothing but the same old 30 minutes of walking a day your body will adapt and you will hit a fitness plateau.

Be sure to include a mix of aerobic/cardiovascular (walking, jogging, biking), strength/resistance (lifting, or other weight bearing activities such as push-ups and squats), and balance/flexibility(stretching, yoga) exercises.

So why bother exercising? Because you will feel better physically and mentally, and live longer and have less health complications!

Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be some boring activity that takes place in a gym. Walk, hike, bike, dance, rollerblade, swim, kickbox, ski, rockclimb, row, play a team sport,…the key is moving your body. The human body was not meant to sit at a desk all day. Try new activities until you discover one that you find enjoyable. That way you will be much more likely to keep doing it. Don’t force yourself to participate in an activity that you can’t stand, that’s not the point and you won’t be able to keep it up forever. That picture on this blog….that’s me riding in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. I found cycling, now you go and find your passion!

The Joy of Pumpkins

 pumpkinIt isn’t very difficult to get me to try just about any pumpkin themed food or drink.  In fact, from the months of September to November I’m pretty much obsessed with all things pumpkin!  Fall is coming to an end, but it’s not too late to enjoy this favorite fall food. Not only is pumpkin festive and delicious, but it’s a great source of multiple nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and beta-carotene, which is responsible for the bright orange color.  Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, a type of phytonutrient (i.e. a nonvitamin, nonmineral compound in food that provides health benefits) which acts as an antioxidant in the body.  Carotenoids are believed to promote health and fight disease, and have been linked to a decreased risk of some types of cancers.  Not a pumpkin fan?  Butternut squash, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes are also a good source of these nutrients.  Pumpkin seeds are also nutritious, packed with minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc, so don’t throw them away when carving pumpkins!  Instead, try roasting the seeds at 350°F for 20 minutes and lightly salt.  They can be eaten plain, tossed on top of a salad or for a unique snack try mixing them with other assorted nuts, dried fruit, and/or dark chocolate bits to create your own trail mix.  You don’t have to cook your own pumpkin to get the health benefits either.  Canned pumpkin puree (not to be confused with pumpkin pie mix which has added sugar) is just as healthy and easy to incorporate into baked goods, soups, and oatmeal.  Try the recipe below for a healthy and hearty breakfast or snack.


Pumpkin Oatmeal

1 cup cooked oatmeal

½ cup milk (I prefer vanilla soy for a little sweetness but dairy, almond, or coconut will all work fine)

½ cup canned pumpkin

Dash of cinnamon and brown sugar (to taste)

Cook the oatmeal according to package directions. Be sure not to make it too watery since you’ll be adding milk to it. Add cooked oatmeal and all other ingredients to a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Enjoy.


Bonus recipe! It doesn’t technically have pumpkin in it but is still great on cool fall or winter days.

Fall Chili

1 package (about 1.5 pounds) lean ground turkey

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 large sweet potato, cubed

2 cups chicken broth

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 TBSP brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 pumpkin beer (optional)

Sweet Potato Chips- I highly recommend Garden of Eatin brand

Pre-cook sweet potato in the microwave for 3-5 minutes, peel, then cube. Sauté the onion in a pan with 1 TBSP olive oil. Add ground turkey and sauté until cooked. Add turkey/onion mixture and all other ingredients except for the beer to a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add beer if desired. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes. Top with crushed sweet potato chips if desired.

When it Comes to Food, Are There Just Two Kinds of People?

A colleague of mine was recently confronted with the following question by a person she met on a plane.

“Which type of person are you? An “eat to live” or a “live to eat” person?”
This person held the theory that all people fall into one of two categories: those who only eat because they have to in order to survive, but who get no joy out of eating, and those who get great joy out of eating and would do it whether or not their survival depended on it.  Ah, how simplified!  I guess I get where this person is coming from, but I disagree that all people can be shoved into one category or the other based solely on the fact that I believe I can’t wholly be placed on either side. It’s a good thing I didn’t bump into this person because my answer would probably be way more info than they wanted! Case in point: as a sports dietitian I’m very interested in how to properly fuel the body, particularly during exercise.  I guess that would fall into the “eat to live” category since it’s all about science and performance and not enjoyment.  However, I really like food (well good food). My Denver Restaurant Week experience at ChoLon Bistro was amazing! There is a foodie side of me that loves to explore new restaurants and try the occasional indulgent meal.  That would be my “live to eat” side.  Depending on the day or specific situation I might be more on one side than the other, but overall I think I’m pretty much in the middle.  Both sides are there, as equally balanced as can be.  I guess you could say I’m a “live to eat to live” person!
 I’m also not sure it’s healthy to only consider yourself one or the other. Where’s the balance? It’s okay to enjoy eating, but it’s also okay to think about health and fueling your body with productive foods.  Amazing indulgent meals lose their appeal if they’re eaten every night after all.  But eating based off numbers all the time is a rigid way to live.  The human relationship with food is complex.  We use it in all sorts of social situations, from work lunches to weddings.  We use to celebrate, to comfort ourselves, and to connect with others.
So let’s not divide ourselves into two categories.  It’s okay if you fall more on one side than the other, but we are all people, and we all need to eat, and deserve to enjoy it!
Bon appétit!