The goal of my blog is to inform and not to preach. While I do get off on a tangent every now and then with my own personal views of the health of our nation, I try very hard to not to tell you what to do, but rather to give you the tools or the template of living a healthy and active life. Certainly there are a lot of food, health, fitness and wellness blogs out there and no matter if the blog creator is an educated professional or just a passionate individual, it is important to recognize that every blog writer (including myself) has his/her own philosophy and views of what it means to be healthy.
If I can assume that the majority of my blog readers take part in some type of physical activity on a daily basis (or most days a week), I believe that a balanced diet is 100% dependent on your individual lifestyle, your daily commitments and your exercise routine. How I eat on a daily basis is completely different than how Karel eats, it is different than how my parents and brother eats and it is different than how my best friend Laura (RD) eats. However.....although "how" I eat may differ from other individuals, "what" I eat is very similar to what I believe makes up a healthy diet. Having said that, what I eat is very similar to what Karel eats, what my parents eat and what my best friend Laura eats. I would hope, after reading my blog and checking out my many creations, that you have learned a few tricks on what to eat in order to lose/maintain weight and/or improve performance. Without a doubt, I am not perfect but I believe that there are a few key points in creating a healthy diet to support longevity and a lifetime of exercise.
Because there are so many diets out there, telling people what to eat in order to lose weight, tone up, stay healthy, maintain weight or improve performance, I find that many people are forgetting (or have never learned) that we all have different dietary requirements and different fueling strategies based on our physical activity routine, fitness levels, dietary choices, age, gender and socioeconomic status.
For example, right now in my life I am trying to be the healthiest vegetarian I can be to support my current training routine as I prepare for to go sub 5 hrs in a Half Ironman in June and qualify for Kona at IMWI. I am training very hard for my upcoming events and my eating routine is supporting the intensity and volume of training. Not only am I eating for fuel but I am eating to recover quickly and avoid injury and sickness. However, after IMWI, my focus will be on completing the 1200 hrs that I need to finish my dietetic internship in order to be eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian national exam. After Sept, I will set new racing goals for the upcoming season and for a few months after IMWI I will be exercising and not training. Although the composition of my diet will change to support a decrease in volume (and perhaps intensity) my food choices will be similar because I enjoy being the healthiest vegetarian I can be.
Rather than telling you what I eat or what I think you should eat, I will give you some pointers to help you find what works for you.
The best way to start my day is oatmeal. I feel satisfied and my blood sugar stays stable for a good 3 hrs after I eat. When I increase my volume with training, I add in extra's to my oatmeal like nuts, seeds or fruit. When I increase the intensity with my training, I add in protein to my oatmeal like yogurt, skim milk or whey protein. When my weekly volume and intensity increase and I find that appetite is larger than normal, I add in a little more fat to my oatmeal like flax seeds or peanut butter. And, when I am nearing the end of a big build week I add in a smoothie to my oatmeal.
With my two hardest workout days being Tues and Wed, I typically have oatmeal and a smoothie on Wed and a smoothie w/ oatmeal on Tues. Sounds like the same thing but they are not.
My intense interval bike and run is on Tues and I have learned that I have a great workout following an active recovery day on Mon. However, because I am feeling fresh, I work extra hard on Tues and really need to think about my recovery.
I go for a big smoothie w/ whey protein, fruit, milk, flax seeds and ice and then I add in a bowl of oatmeal w/ raisins (about 1/4 cup oats). I use to just do a smoothie w/ about a handful of cereal (like Kashi Crunch) but I found that I was extra hungry come lunchtime and snacking more than normal throughout the day. I decided to add in a little oatmeal, rather than the cereal in my smoothie and well, that did the trick. Recovery was good and I felt satisfied.
As for Wed, my early morning Run + Swim gets me out of bed at 4:30 and I get home around 8:30. It's a long morning but a quality workout...one of my favorites. My run is an interval run (usually 7-8 miles) and swim is typically anaerobic (around 4000yrds) but afterwards I am pooped and anxious for my tempo bike on Thurs...with no running on Thurs. Because I am usually super hungry after my Wed workout, I have a small smoothie w/ whey, yogurt, ice and fruit (usually a piece of banana) and cinnamon and then I have a big bowl of oatmeal w/ fruit (usually apple or peach/nectarine), nuts, seeds and raisins. If I decide to pass on the smoothie, I would just do a glass of milk instead.
As you can see, my workouts changes, as does my appetite and my morning meal. Similar foods but over the last few months, I have really tried to pay attention to what I need rather than what I think I need.
Starting tomorrow, try to work on your breakfast so that you can start your day with a balanced and healthy meal. Regardless if you workout in the morning or at night, I find that many weakness's in the diet come from not eating a balanced breakfast. Thinking back to yesterday, when did you feel the most hungry? If you say lunch through dinner, it is likely that the composition of your breakfast needs some tweaking in an effort to help you stay satisfied and energized throughout the morning.
Any questions...just let me know how I can help you! Starting with breakfast, I think this could be a great topic to discuss on the comment section.
*Once again, I have to stress that my current eating habits did not come about over night and they will always be a work in progress. How I eat now will likely change next fall and the following summer. While you may think it is stressful finding what works for you, just remember that there are 365 days in a year and because we must eat for fuel, you have plenty of time to find what works for you. ;)
What's your favorite breakfast?
Do you think your breakfast needs some tweaking? What small changes do you think will make a difference in how you start your day?
1 scoop body fortress vanilla whey protein
dash of cinnamon
1/2 small ripe banana
2 tsp PB
1 tbsp flax seed
2-3 ounces strawberry low fat yogurt
Almonds for a topping
1/3 cup instant oats
dash of cinnamon
1/2 small apple (chopped)
A few raisins
Kashi Crunch, nuts and sunflower seeds for a crunchy topping