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Trimarni is place where athletes and fitness enthusiasts receive motivation, inspiration, education, counseling and coaching in the areas of nutrition, fitness, health, sport nutrition, training and life.

We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Filtering by Category: "Nutrition tip"

Eat real food - stop the off-limit food list(s)

Marni Sumbal

I eat for fuel and for health. Food also tastes good when I eat it. When I finish a meal, I feel satisfied and even better than when I started the meal feeling hungry.

I do not feel that food controls my life. I can travel, experience good/bad changes in life and keep a smile on my face all because food enhances my lifestyle and keeps me well. 

Bike riding from Znojmo Czech Republic to Retz Austria. 
I didn't develop an appreciation for real food overnight and I also did not develop the ability to plan ahead and be creative in the kitchen overnight. 

The bottom line is that I have goals for my active body and expectations for my healthy body. I can't make memories doing this......

Without making the time and appreciating this....

A visit to the  farmers market in Znojmo, Czech Republic.

Think about the last time you felt stressed, mad or overwhelmed.
How about when your fitness/training routine didn't go as planned.
What about when you compare your body, life, fitness/performance to someone else.
How about the last time you critiqued your body composition or stepped on the scale.

Imagine if you didn't body bash or consider/start extreme styles of eating/exercising every time you felt "off". Or perhaps, when you feel as if someone else has it better, you instantly want to exercise, train or look like someone else.
Consider how many times you have thought about or considered eliminating foods - perhaps even the most nourishing and wholesome foods - the moment you felt frustrated with your body.
Consider how many times you rewarded yourself with food or told yourself you would just be better tomorrow.
Consider how many days are in the year, consider your own goals and consider your own health.

Do you really think that following a diet plan or an off-limit food list will improve your quality of life?

Since when did we combine these foods...

with these foods....


And all of a sudden have a style of eating in which you describe foods that you can't eat, instead of considering all the most wonderful nourishing, energy boosting delicious foods that you can and should eat.


What about traveling, eating around family/friends, attending events/seminars at work and fueling for life. How does your off-limit, bad food list work for some of life's most special and needed events.?
Can your quest for "healthy eating" be enjoyed anytime, anywhere and with anyone?

The bottom line is that you haven't yet recognize how good you can feel with real food. Real food consumed in appropriate portions to fuel your lifestyle. Instead of getting out the pen and paper for a list of foods that you feel you shouldn't eat, just ask yourself how your past eating habits (and exercise routine) was helping you meet your goals. Prior to bashing your body, hating a number on the scale or feeling the need to compare yourself to someone else, work on a few small tweaks that may set yourself up for success rather than feeling the need to be extreme and quick with dietary/exercise changes.

With the holiday season approaching and your 2014 goals on the horizon, take a moment and consider how extreme you may be thinking/acting when it comes to developing a healthy and balanced diet.

If you are swearing off bread, dairy  or any other "bad" food because they are making you feel bloated and unhealthy, I ask you this...
How did you feel the last time you add 1/2 cup cooked Kamut (or any whole grain) to your plant strong meal?
Tell me about the ingredients you used in your homemade bread recipe?
How are you eating dairy - plain yogurt with fruit as a snack or ice cream after a long stressful day of work?
In the past few months, how much of your diet includes foods that you have to unwrap or that include a long ingredient list?
How much of your diet comes from a garden instead of a factory?
Are you letting life get in the way of healthy eating or should you eat healthy for your life?
If you can't seem to make time for your health, are you willing to make time for illness/disease?

There's really not a lot more I can say to help you appreciate real food. There are many options out there and the great thing is that a healthy diet doesn't have to exclude real food options that are naturally wholesome.

I get it. Our society loves extreme. Tell  yourself what not to eat and that is a lot easier to follow than trying to pre-cook whole grains, portion your proteins and healthy fats and eat a lot of fruits and veggies. In other words, being told what not to eat is much easier than being told what you can eat and then having to figure out how to prepare it all in the right portions for your body.

And why do off-limit food lists/fad diets work? Because without them, you have many quick-food options. Because no one likes to cook or wait for food when they are hungry, a bowl of cereal, ice cream, PB&J sandwich or frozen/fast food option is not restricted. But when an off-limit list is made (whether from a nutrition guru or a diet book/website) you are forced to come up with something that is not on your off limit food list and most of the time, it is real food.

It's not that certain foods are good or bad but instead, your lifestyle and thoughts on food have not set you up for success. It's not one food or food group but instead, how you see food and incorporate it in your life.

Arguments can be made, success stories can be told, bloggers can share their experiences to the world.

But as a clinical dietitian, endurance triathlete and lover of life, who never counts calories or uses a scale for validating the health of my body, I encourage you to stop the off-limit food lists, become a great meal planner, appreciate real food consider your own health and fitness goals as the driving forces in your own personalized diet.

Tis the season of inspiring others with how real food enhances your life.

Happy real food eating!

Cottage cheese
Tri colored quinoa
Bed of mixed greens
Bell peppers

Make these 3 changes now before 1/1/14

Marni Sumbal

65 days until January 1st, 2014!!!! 

Where are my goal setters at? I know you are dreaming big right now just like me!

Even if 2014 will be an exciting year to conquer challenges and reach new goals, are you going to put off making small daily changes for the next 2 months when you could be working your way to developing better, stronger and smart skills for 2014? Do you really want one day, on Jan 1st, to be the day when you feel pressure to make extreme, unrealistic, temporary changes in the areas of diet, exercise and lifestyle when you can spend 65 days making small changes?


Don't wait for the perfect time - there will never be one. Create one small change today that will set you up for a better tomorrow in the areas of diet, exercise and life.


Three changes I suggest:
-Diet: Eat a satisfying breakfast and continue to tweak it so that you can stay satisfied for 3-4 hours (ex. add a bit more pro/fat to your carb selection and stick with real foods).

Try this: Nutty Pear Oatmeal

1/2 cup oats (dry)
1 tbsp raisins
1/8 cup seeds + chopped nuts (mixed)
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 large pear (sliced - save the other half for snack + 20 pistachios)
~15g of protein powder (whey, soy or vegan - different products may cook differently, mix together before cooking and stir at 45 seconds)
Water/milk to meet consistency needs
(if you don't want to add protein powder, you could mix it or have a side of 4-6 ounces greek yogurt plain (0%).
1 tbsp chia seeds OR 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
-Cook for 60-90 seconds and add more water/milk to meet consistency needs. 

-Exercise: Don't think big, even a 20 minute workout or movement will burn calories. Try to aim for 30-60 minutes of movement daily. Try to walk more.

Try this: Fitness magazine walk workout (perfect for lunch break or before/after work)

-Lifestyle: Try to go to bed earlier to get a restful night of sleep. Consider evening habits that may be keeping you from getting a good night of sleep (Eating dinner too late, snacking too much in the evening, staying on the computer too late, watching TV, bringing stressful thoughts or a big work to-do list with you too bed, too much afternoon/evening caffeine).

Try this: Read an old blog post I did on sleep (it does a body good!)


So, are you ready to make the changes now in order to receive the results on January 1st? 

You are in control of your choices - don't wait, act now. Making small tweaks to set yourself up for a better tomorrow. 

Trimarni Tip: Inside-out sandwich

Marni Sumbal

I'm sure you can only imagine the fun I had at the grocery stores in Czech Republic during our trip in May. And oh did it all taste great too!

Have you been adding to your "off limit" food list over the past few months/years?

How about rethinking your meals as you learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food?

It's time to free yourself from food rules and "bad" food.

Trimarni Tip (from the Sumbal household who always has a loaf of fresh local bread in the house at all times):

Pics from our Czech Republic trip in May

I find many people are all or nothing. Either you LOVE bread and eat it all the time or bread is bad and it is off limit. I think the same is true for any food or food group. People hear low and they think no and if they hear something is good, it is consumed in excess. Since when did our society become so extreme with everything?

The key is balance for any meal but hopefully you are looking for easy ways to create more plant strong meals to provide your body with lots of vitamins and minerals to reduce risk for disease and to support your immune system.....but you also need to feel satisfied. Whereas a plate of lettuce and veggies is not going to satisfy you or fuel your body, the same may be true for two slices of bread with veggies and a few slices of meat in between.

Since I do not have any bad, off limit food in my food vocabulary, I welcome any opportunity to enjoy real food. Eating time is always a happy time for Karel and myself. There is no food critiquing but instead lots of yumming.

Consider turning your sandwich inside out and use your veggies as the base and then top with your choice of protein, whole grains and heart healthy fats. Keep in mind that you can only stuff a limited amount of plants between two slices of bread and a plant strong meal may require the use of silverware and a table (instead of eating with your hands or behind the steering wheel). As a side dish, no need to give up bread. Enjoy an open face sandwich with cheese/yogurt spread, avocado or hummus or enjoy your bread as a pre/post training snack with nut butter. Tweak your diet to find what works best for you.

Here is a creation I made to help you get excited that you don't have to have an off limit food list when it comes to enjoying plant strong meals to fuel your active and healthy body.

In case you missed this post, here is a blog on our experience to a vegetarian restaurant in Czech. 

Nutrition tips for food lovers

Marni Sumbal

Farmers market shopping in downtown Znojmo, Czech Republic  (Karel's home)

Every day I am reminded of our trip to Czech and the lifestyle that we lived during our trip. The trip was life changing but it was even more enjoyable to live such a great lifestyle while in Czech. 

When it comes to "healthy" eating, there are many tips, suggestions, fads, thoughts, rules and styles that is can be very overwhelming. When it comes to disease prevention there are many research studies as to what people do consistently well that reduces the risk for disease and illness and what people do that increases the risk for certain diseases and illnesses. We can not avoid cancer but we can reduce the risk so when it comes down to following nutrition advice in a society that loves food, it's really not that complicated. 

Eat a plant strong diet, rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Choose heart healthy fats and low fat dairy (up to 3 servings daily). Reduce intake of saturated fat, avoid trans fat and stay hydrated with water. Reduce intake of added sugar and salt and focus on portion control to maintain a "healthy" body composition. Stay active and move the body daily. 

 While traveling to Pittsburgh this past Thurs - Sat for my brother's wedding (thus the lack of  blogging for the past few days), I had a chance to catch up on some nutrition reading from various journals/magazines. As a food lover, athlete and a health and fitness professional, I really enjoy reading about food....beyond food for "weight loss". I love reading about the benefits of food, the science of food and anything that makes food special. I suppose I see food differently than many people and I think that is why my body allows me to do what I do on a day to day basis. With Karel celebrating his 37th birthday yesterday, I only hope that as we both age we can continue to travel, stay active and enjoy life with a healthy body and mind.

Hiking in Znjomo, Czech Republic

I wanted to share a few articles that caught my attention during our trip.

Food and Nutrition: Sept/Oct 2013
-Pg 16-17: Beans are a tasty, nutritious and economically efficient way to meet nutrition needs year-round. They are high in protein and soluble fiber and a good source of vitamins and minerals. They are also an essential source of protein, iron and zinc. Diets rich in soluble fiber are associated with improved blood glucose control and blood cholesterol levels and may help fight heart disease. Since they're often priced less than 25 cents per cup, dried beans are affordable. Types of beans: Black, lima, chickpea/garbanzo, red, great northern, pinto, kidney, fava, black-eyed peas, navy, soybeans.
-Pg 22: Oats: a trendy, budget-friendly food staple. At 150 calorie per -one cup cooked serving, oats resemble other cooked whole grains in their energy density. The soluble fiber in oats (B-glucan) consistently has been shown to lower the heart disease risk factors of total and LDL cholesterol. In 1997, the FDA approved a health claim for the role of B-Glucan soluble fiber, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, in reducing risk of heart disease. One cup of cooked oatmeal supplies 2 of the daily 3 grams of B-glucan soluble fiber necessary for these heart benefits. 

Oat definitions: The lease processed oats come in the form of groats - the husked whole oat kernel - and require the longest cooking time (40 minutes). Oat groats  can be substituted for brown rice, wheat berries or other whole grains in a dinner side dish. Steel-cut oats are toasted oat groats that have been cut into small pieces with a metal blade. Ready in 10-20 minutes, steel cut oats have a firm texture and nutty flavor. Rolled oats (old fashioned or 5-minute) are groats that have been steamed, flattened and dried and are typically less expensive and more readily available than whole and steel-cut oats. Quick oats are rolled oats that have been cut into smaller pieces to reduce cooking time down to 2 minute. Instant oats resemble quick oats in texture but have been partially cooked before drying so that they can be reconstituted with boiling water. 

Eating Well Oct 2013
-Pg 24: Several studies show that adding more produce to your diet can improve your mental health and sense of well-being. Celery and Parsley deliver apigenin, a compound that promotes the death of cancerous cells, according to new research from Ohio State University. Red cabbage and blueberries are packed with anthocyanins, which may help keep your memory sharp. 
-Pg 17: The apple is a powerhouse of polyphenols, potent antioxidants. eating apples may lower the risk of asthma, lung cancer, stroke and prevent blood sugar spikes. According to a recent Ohio State study, adults eating just one apple a day of four weeks reduced their level of LDL cholesterol by as much as 40%. The fruit is also rich in pectin, a soluble fiber effective in lowering cholesterol. Apples offer thousands of flavor possibilities. Once more than 16,000 varieties grew just in American orchards. As shelf life an uniformity became more important, most disappeared. Find out what's growing by you at 

Remedy's Healthy Living Fall 2013 ( - FREE pamphlet from the pharmacy at the hospital
-Pg 10: Gut reactions. The connection between the brain and the gut is a two-way street. Recent research suggest that the health of your digestive system - the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon - can affect your mood and well-being. The key to the complex interaction is the enteric nervous system, which experts sometimes refer to as the "brain in your gut." "Thousands of nerves line the intestines and signal muscles to contract to propel food along the digestive tract," explains David Wolf, MD, a gastroenterologist and University of Texas Health and Science Center in Houston. Like the one in your head, your gut's brain depends on neurotransmitters such as serotonin, the famous feel-good chemical. "Around 95% of serotonin is produced in the intestinal tract," says Dr. Chait MD. 

While the serotonin in your brain regulates mod, in the gut, it promotes the growth of nerve cells and alerts the immune system to foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. Serotonin also keeps the two systems in constant communication, so when stress hits, it's no wonder your stomach starts to churn - or that GI problems make you depressed and anxious. New research is also highlighting the vital role of the healthy bacteria that exist naturally in the gut. Trillions of bacteria populate the gut and scientists are only just beginning to understand that unique habitat, according to Jack Gilbert, PhD, an environmental microbiologist at the Argonne National Lab in Chicago.
When these god bacteria are diminished by a poor diet or a course of antibiotics, your digestive health and overall well being often suffer. The best way to improve your digestion is to eat a healthy balanced diet, says Dr. Chait. Aim for plant based, fiber rich foods, plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains and bran and lean sources of protein such as chicken and fish. Daily fiber recs - 38 g for men under 50, 25grams for women under 50 and 30,21 grams respectively for men and women over 50. 

Thanks to the enteric nervous system, the digestive system is very sensitive to emotional and psychological stress. Stress busters like deep breathing, yoga, meditation and massage can play an important role in alleviating GI disorders triggered or exacerbated by tension, such as IBS, whose symptoms include cramping, bloating and often alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea. A recent study found that women who practiced mindfulness meditation for 8 weeks had greater reductions in IBS symptoms than women who were assigned to a support group.
It's true: regular exercise keeps you regular. Activity improves motility.

-Gas: If you are belching excessively, you may be swallowing air - aeorphagia. Flatulence happens when bacteria in the gut ferments undigested food; certain foods are worse than others. Avoid carbonated sodas and chewing gum. Chew foods slowly and eat small meals. If you experience gassiness, limit artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol. 

Where do you get your nutrition advice?

Marni Sumbal

With so much nutrition advice available, how do you know what to believe? 

For example, my friend Jason asked me if I heard about Almased, not because he was interested in it but because he was shocked at the diet plan and that it was endorsed by a Registered Dietitian (RD). So, if a MD and RD recommend Almased, does that mean that you should use the product to lose weight and follow the diet plan? 

At the beginning, you only drink vegetable broth, water and three Almased® shakes per day. For each “meal”, eight level tablespoons of Almased® with cold water (bottled or filtered) or milk (skim, unsweetened almond or soy). The weight loss during this phase may be higher than for the rest of the diet. You can stay in this Starting Phase for a couple of days or up to 2 weeks if you feel good. Then you begin the Reduction Phase, during which you replace two meals (preferably breakfast and dinner) with an Almased® drink and eat one healthy meal. This phase lasts about 6 weeks or until you reach your ideal body weight. Then you enter the Stability Phase. For several weeks, replace one meal a day with Almased® in order to avoid the dreaded yo-yo effect that causes pounds to come back on quickly after a diet. Weight loss continues during this phase.

If you replace your dinner with Almased®, you speed up the fat burning process during the night. Almased® not only curbs your hunger but also improves thermogenesis, the conversion of fat into heat. The body takes the energy it needs for the nightly repair of cells that were damaged during the day from fat cells – you lose weight while sleeping.

There appears to be many nutrition experts out there with plenty of conflicting information. I work with many athletes and fitness enthusiasts and patients in the hospital, who ask me about different diets, foods, products, etc. and although I hear similar questions over and over again, there is always a question or two that makes me a bit upset that there are actually people out there with no credentials who speak so strongly about how a person should eat and people actually go to certain lengths to pay money for their advice.  

Just like with a tri or running coach, a lawyer, a doctor, accountant, etc, you always want to put your trust in a person based on his/her credentials. Certainly, experience goes a long way but there is something very important in society for individuals to gain an education in an area before practicing in that area.

But what about a personal philosophy? With so many experts out there (with and without credentials), who do you trust when your health is involved....and you are willing to pay money for help/advice?

 I feel right there, this would take away a lot of confusion with nutrition for if you want nutrition help, direct your energy toward someone who has a reason to provide nutrition advice and then go with the philosophy that you feel will better your life and will fit your needs. Although I
 highly recommend working with a registered dietitian when it comes to eating for health and a RD specializing in sports when it comes to performance, your choice of who you receive your nutrition advice from should be based on a personal philosophy of the expert. Credentials or no credentials, there is a lot of advice available to the public and you don't have to believe everything that you hear. 

To help you out when it comes eating to improve your health and/or changing your diet for performance/body composition, here are a few tips to follow. 

-Ask yourself if the philosophy of your expert gives you happiness.
-Does the philosophy have meaning?
-Is the advice practice, useful and valuable during all stages of life?
- Can the philosophy apply in all situations and circumstances in life?
-Does the advice seem healthy? Would the advice of this expert work for a child, an elderly person or an individual who just beat cancer? Sure, everyone has different nutrient needs and different eating styles but is the recommendation so extreme for you that it would not be appropriate for others in some way or fashion?
-Does the philosophy work for a lifetime - what about when the quick fix phase is over?
-Can the advice of the expert carry you through the good and bad times in life? Is the advice only appropriate for you to be 100% in control all day every day?
-Does the philosophy seem appropriate to meet your personal needs and goals?
-Is your expert open to change or does he/she give extreme or black/white rules?
-Is your expert open to many ways of thinking about how to improve your health? You don't have to accept every philosophy so don't limit yourself to believe that you only have live one way for the rest of your life. 

-Does your expert appear to be an expert at everything or is his/her philosophy based on a specialty? 
-Does your expert practice what he/she preaches?
-Does your expert have an answer for everything or is he/she constantly exploring new ways of thinking to ensure that you live the best life possible?

The bottom line is where do you draw the line when it comes to believing everything you hear and read? Even when you are most vulnerable, desperate and needy to try anything and everything or feel frustrated that you have failed in the past, consider your primary goals both short and long term with your body, health and fitness/performance before you search for a person who has a philosophy that meets your individual needs.

Quick, easy and simple "healthy" eating tips

Marni Sumbal

There are no guarantees in life. We can't avoid cancer, we can only reduce it's risk. We can not prevent injuries but we can increase our chance for a speedy recovery. We can not avoid accidents but we can put ourselves into situations that reduce our odds for an accident.

But what we can do is love the life we choose to live. Every day, all day.

When I was growing up my dad always told me that we all have the chance to live to 90 or 100 years of age. As a young child, 50 was "old" so 100 was just super ancient! But now, I feel so young at 31 and I can't even imagine what it would feel like in 20 years or 70 years! Thankfully, age is just a number that does not slow people down.

I'm sure you've seen the "older" athlete tearing it up on a running or triathlon course or the "older" fitness enthusiast hiking, lifting weights or skiing. My dad always told me that just living to an old age wasn't as important as making sure you are living a quality life. What will you be doing at 70, 80 or 90 years of age? Relying on medications while sitting in a wheelchair in an assisted living facility OR traveling the world after working hard for all of your life to enjoy the riches of your success? My dad convinced me at a young age that every day we should be living a great life and to never take a day for granted. Thank you dad for teaching me the best "rule" of it to the fullest!

Because much of my life involves food and exercise and has been dedicated to learning about food and exercise, I thought I'd share some of my best quick, easy and simple "healthy" eating tips.

To live a healthy life, you need consistent actions to override the occasional opportunities. In order to maintain consistency you must set yourself up for success. If you always try to be perfect, you may always find yourself struggling to improve. Life isn't perfect so you don't have to be either. Sometimes quick, easy and simple is the way to go so here are a few of my tips to get you started.

Shop seasonally, summer time brings LOTS of fresh, local produce but if it isn't in season, consider frozen produce (without added salt/sugar). Think of your plate like a multivitamin - the more color the better. Introduce your taste buds to new flavor combinations. Set up a salad bar in your fridge so you have quick prep at any time. I recommend to prepare at least 3 days worth of veggies and fruit in tupperware so that you can ensure a few quick meals to last you til mid week. 

We all have rushed, busy days and often times, things come up. There's no need to beat yourself up for feeling "off" of your normal routine. There's nothing "lazy" or "bad" about having someone else do the work for you. Don't hesitate to buy pre-washed greens and pre-chopped veggies. Although a bit more expensive, consider pre-chopped fruit if you find yourself buying fruit that always seems to spoil before you eat it. Try to stop for produce every 3-4 days so that you don't have to waste produce. Incorporate quick proteins to your plant-strong meals such as cottage cheese, tuna, deli meat, eggs or grilled tofu. If you find yourself needing to eat out, don't stress - you can always add nutrients to your meal by adding mixed veggies or fruit as an appetizer or dessert to compliment that fast food meal. 

One pot/skillet wonders are fantastic for those who do not like clean-up (which is one of the main reasons why people do not like to cook). Consider having leftovers and throwing it all in a pan with a little oil. Grains, proteins, veggies - a perfect combo for a quick meal that you don't have to attend to (especially if you have just worked out or are coming home to a few chores that need to be complete before eating). Add herbs and spices for lots of flavor as you can eat similar foods for a few days but use different herbs/spices for a whole new flavor experience each time you eat. Consider preparing 2-3, 2-3 cup portions of grains on Sunday to last for the week for easy additions to meals (or invest in a small crockpot). 

If you are going to snack between meals, do so with a purpose. Are you trying to prevent blood sugar from dropping? Are you filling in nutritional gaps between meals? Are you honoring hunger between meals? Are you fueling or refueling? Rather than snacking on similar foods at similar times or snacking for emotions, boredom or stress, think about spending energy on the composition of your meals and then when it comes to snack time, you will find yourself snacking for the right reason and thus, it helping you feel more balance and control with your eating throughout the day. 

The best tip for "healthy" eating - because you've tried everything else

Marni Sumbal

Every person in this world has his/her own definition of "healthy" eating. For some, it's as simple as making sure there is food on the table so that no goes hungry or starved throughout the day. For others, it is much more complicated, often involving words like organic, raw, macrobiotics, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, whole, clean, super-foods, natural, all-natural, probiotic and energy-boosting. For others, it's just a way of living life to the fullest. 

According to Medical News, 

"Healthy eating means consuming the right quantities of foods from all food groups in order to lead a healthy life. Diet is often referred to as some dietary regimen for losing weight. However, diet simply means what food we eat in the course of a 24-hour, one week, or one month, etc. period. A good diet is a nutritional lifestyle that promotes good health. A good diet must include several food groups because one single group cannot provide everything a human needs for good health. Balanced diet - or a good diet - means consuming from all the different good groups in the right quantities."

Not sure about you, but I read that paragraph and found myself a bit more confused as to what is "healthy eating". 

Because that made me confused I decided to search for another definition. But this time I googled "How to lose weight fast" because for many, that means "healthy". 

According to (a website that has an article for any topic possible), 
"The speed of your success depends on your determination and ingenuity. You don't have to have a gym membership or any fancy equipment to exercise or lose weight, and can often make do with not only your own body power, but with common household items to add resistance and weight to exercise moves. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume daily, so once you have done that--and added a regular exercise routine--you'll see not only a fast drop in weight, but a drastic reduction in inches."

Ok - so now we are getting somewhere. This makes "healthy eating" much more simple. So, what are the tips we should follow to lose weight quickly according to the article?
-Exercise every day, even if it's in small chunks of time
-Cut back on your calorie intake. Try not to go below about 1,200 calories a day for long-term weight loss management, but you can dip lower for short periods of time for extra fast weight loss
-Go for a short 15- to 20-minute walk every evening or morning for an all-around mental and physical workout. 
-Drink plenty of water, which will help prevent dehydration, which will also prevent your body from shutting down processes to conserve water.

That's it??? That's all we have to do to lose weight quickly? That doesn't seem extreme enough and by now we are all a bit frustrated because haven't we all tried to eat "good" or tried to cut back on calories and exercise and move more and drink plenty of water?

So much for taking the "healthy" approach. Now it is time for extreme measures because we have wasted days, if not weeks and months, trying lots and lots of "healthy" simple tips. 

Ok, now we are talking. A website called "Weight loss and training: Extreme weight loss tips" 

This author suggests that "Extreme weight loss goals are often met with disaster, interrupted by lack of motivation, unrealistic expectations, or plateaus that feel impossible to overcome. So that’s why I’m offering up my best extreme weight loss tips. These ones are guaranteed to give you serious results fast! 

- Restrict Your Carbohydrate Intake - Restrict yourself to 3-4 small carbohydrate servings a day (no more than a piece of bread each). 
- Fill Up on Fiber - If you have a hard time getting enough fiber in your diet, try a good fiber supplement like Myogenix Pro Fiber. It’s an easy fix and can help you shed the pounds! 
-Seriously Suppress Your Appetite - Appetite suppression is a great way to lose a lot of weight quickly. weight loss success, and understandably so. There are actually some great natural appetite suppressants on the market. Hydroxycut South African Hoodia is one that’s gained a lot of attention in recent years, derived from a root that’s been shown to reduce hunger. 
-Boost Your Metabolism - there are a number of eating habits that are totally effective for enhancing your metabolism. Foods like protein, fiber, and many spicy foods will all work. But one of the best things you can add to your diet is matcha green tea. It’s one of the best natural metabolism boosters around, and it also naturally suppressed your appetite! Check out one of the best extreme weight loss supplement on the market, Magic Matcha Green Tea. 
-Sleep Better!

So, with a several tips mentioned and a few supplements and tips suggested that may be extremely harmful to your health and functioning in society, it's likely that you feel more at ease that there is an extreme way to be "healthy". For so many people wanting to change habits to be "healthy" likes (more like, LOVES) rules because when you have rules, you don't have to trust yourself, let alone listen to yourself. You put all your trust into the other person who is telling you exactly what to do to be "healthy". 

Imagine saying this:
"I don't have rules in my diet. There are no lists of food that are off limit and there is no "best time" to reward myself with food. There is no emotional, stressful or mindless eating or feeling guilty after eating."

Do those thoughts make you feel more at ease with yourself, perhaps even around food and your body? 
This entire blog up until this point was all an example as to how overwhelming "healthy" eating can be in today's society. There is always something new to try or to consider and many times, it does not involve focusing on yourself, your own needs and your own goals. Many tips out there are helpful and can be triggers to promote a more healthful lifestyle. But many times, people are so rushed in the thought of being "healthy" (or improving performance, losing weight, improving fitness) that they bypass one of the most important tips, rules, suggestions and concepts of having a healthy relationship with food. 

Mindful eating. 

Here is a recent article that I did for Iron Girl that I'd love for you to read. After practicing the exercise, try to apply a similar thinking to your every day food choices. Because I believe that any fitness enthusiasts or athlete should develop a healthy relationship with food before even considering to tweak sport nutrition or to focus more on specific training/exercise, here is another great read to help you out: Mindful Eating

Please email with any comments, questions or concerns. If you can tackle this basic (yet often challenging) idea of mindful eating (either alone or with the help of others), I promise you that you will have nailed the best tip for "healthy" eating and all parts of your life will be improved from mood, relationships with others, functioning in society and fitness/performance. 

Eat More Mindfully - It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle By Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

There’s food everywhere and likely, you have your favorites. You are constantly being told to “eat healthy”, but as an athlete, it can be overwhelming and confusing. For in today’s society, it’s hard to define “healthy” when it comes to eating as the more people worry about nutrition, the less healthy we appear to become.
As you work toward a “healthy” real-food, balanced diet, consider eating more mindfully to help you feel more at-ease with food.
Eat more mindfully
Practice this exercise. Take a Hershey kiss (or small chocolate) and place it in front of you on a desk. Observe it, your surroundings and how you feel. Now touch it. How does it feel in your hand? Unwrap the item and observe it again by touching it and then smell it. Now, take a small bite from the top. Place the other half of the inside of the wrapper and place it out of sight. Suck on the chocolate and close your eyes. Savor your treat, making it last as long as possible without chewing it. Are any special past memories coming to mind as the chocolate melts? Now open your eyes. Did you stay present and in the moment? How long did it take to fully appreciate a small bite of a piece of candy/chocolate? Did you enjoy it?

Mindful eating is being in an active state and releasing all fears, worries or concerns about food. It’s about making choices that will give you an enjoyable eating experience in the present moment. Mastering mindful eating is not easy, especially with our quick-fix, diet-fad, food-trendy society. But with many disordered eating habits and body image concerns, your hurried and stressful lifestyle may make eating time a difficult, uneasy and overwhelming experience.

To bring some joy to eating, both inside and outside of the home, mindful eating should be practiced often. Instead of fearing certain foods, bring attention as to why you are eating to result in more control and enjoyment with what you are eating. Keep in mind that mindful eating will differ for everyone for eating is a very personal experience.
Consider working on this exercise with other types of foods/meals as a way to reduce any possible stress or anxiety with food as you learn how to eat in a way that is favorable to your individual goals.

MY PODCAST IS TOMORROW! Let's talk nutrition, fitness, health, training....

Marni Sumbal

How can exercise and nutrition help improve your strength, increase your energy levels, improve your health and help you meet your fitness goals? 
Whether you're a runner, swimmer, biker or a fitness enthusiast who is new to exercise, it's time to join me for an Iron Girl event, welcoming women from all fitness levels. The only requirement is that you are passionate about living an active and healthy lifestyle.
Learn how to start living a more balanced lifestyle where food tastes good, fad diets don't exist and crossing finish lines is the reward of healthy living choices.

Strong is now the New Skinny! Let's learn how to be healthy in our active lifestyle.

Marni Sumbal, owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC  will talk to us about her perspective on the importance of developing a healthy relationship with food and your body in order to reach personal health, fitness and body composition goals. 
Join Kelley Connors, MPH, Host, Real Women on Health, with Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N and find out how you can join the movement to Get Strong with Iron Girl!

I am so excited for tomorrow! Please join me in a new podcast from the RealWomen on Health! and Iron Girl on June 26 at 12:30 p.m. EST. I will explore the theme "Strong is the New Skinny" with my tips on living a balanced, healthy and active lifestyle all while having a healthy relationship with food and the body.

Learn more  HERE and I hope you enjoy the show!

Also - I am so excited that our new item for the Trimarni shop has arrived!! JERSEY's!!
Many people pre-ordered black/white cycling jerseys and cycling shorts (which shipped yesterday!) but we now have a small inventory available of tri/run tops and bottoms (top pictures) as well as a few Jersey's and cycling bottoms which will be available soon on my website. Stay tuned via my FACEBOOK PAGE for more details. Thanks for your support!

What to do when your workout doesn't workout

Marni Sumbal

Karel and I have always been active....although I think we had our priorities different when it came to bike riding. Since when did it become uncool to ride your bike without a stuffed animal?

One of the best parts about sharing an active lifestyle with someone else is seeing each other grow in a sport (or with fitness). We all have great workouts now and then but not always are they shared with others.

The other day, Karel had an "off" day on the bike. We did a swim+ bike workout and although he had an amazing workout in the pool, he just had no power in legs on the bike. Rather than try to push through it, I continued on with the workout as planned and Karel did his own thing which involved soft pedaling and a little drafting off my wheel. We all have those days when we feel a little "off" but knowing how to handle those days may be different for all of us. Since Karel and I coach ourselves, it is easy to modify workouts on a whim although making smart choices as athletes is not always easy (hence why it is important to have a coach, even if it is your significant other as we all need someone to tell us when to "rest" and not push through).

So what should you do if your workout is just not working out? Here are a few of my tips as to how to bounce back from an "off" day.

If you are having a nutrition-related "off" day, identify what went wrong. Generally, going long hours without eating, overeating a large portion (or late at night), eating a large amount of processed food or skimping on balanced meals can contribute to feel "off". Certainly, this is why it is so important to address the daily diet when it comes to performance/fitness as food is our fuel.

Sport Nutrition
If you are having a sport-nutrition-related "off" day, address what foods/products are not working for you. Maybe it is the intensity/duration or workout or maybe a food isn't sitting right. Generally, it is recommended to reduce fat/fiber before a workout  to help with digestion and be sure to drink water to promote digestion/absorption of nutrients before and during the workout. Many times, athletes under-fuel during workouts so it is important to recognize the importance of sport nutrition before, during and after workouts when your body is under the most training stress.

If there is one area in your life to blame for feeling tired while working out, it is not getting enough restful sleep. Although exercise is important on a daily basis, one should never skimp on sleep just to workout early in the morning (or late at night). Try to create an exercise/training schedule that allows for a restful night of sleep most days a week. For many people, 7-8 hours is the magic number which may mean going to bed a little earlier or cutting a workout short a little in order to get to work on time in the morning.

Stretching/flexibility/strength training
Although stretching and strength training can certainly enhance workouts by encouraging strong muscles to move in their full range of motion, strength training should only enhance your cardio routine. Be sure to allow adequate rest after strength training so that you are not sabotaging good form while training during cardio. Also, make time for stretching post workout and include a dynamic warm-up before working out. Many times, the body just needs to wake up and get the blood flowing so before counting yourself out of a workout, be sure to actively warm-up.

Pump yourself up
A good song, a good quote, a call from a friend/family member. There are many ways to turn an "off" day into a great day. Try to see if you can bring yourself into a positive state of mind before working out as many times we can allow stress, emotions and thoughts to keep us from working out when we all know that we are always one workout away from a great mood.

Modifying workouts
I have a suggestion to everyone in that all you have to do is think small when working out. Whether you are having a hard time getting motivation, nervous about your training workout or feeling tired, just tell yourself that all you have to do is workout/exercise for 10 minutes. If you can at least get yourself started, more often than not you will find yourself working out longer than planned. If you aren't feeling it by 20 minutes, just call it a day or if anything, just go for a walk. Lastly, we all need to know how to make progress with fitness. Many times, saying "I can't" will keep you in the same place. To move yourself forward, how about modifying your workout. If you planned to run, just walk. If your workout called for intervals, reduce the intensity. Make progress, don't aim for perfection.

Keep it fun
Don't forget your goals or reasons for working out. I love to train for triathlons but I really love to exercise. I just love using and moving my body so anytime I am not "feeling it" (which is not that often thanks to a balanced training plan with quality workouts), I just feel grateful that I am moving my body.

Forget the gadgets
Ever see a kid running with a garmin while playing tag? Sometimes you just have to have fun and that means going by perceived exertion. It may be helpful to have gadgets with you to reflect on the workout but don't worry about pace, time, HR, speed, etc. Just enjoy your time out with your body.

Rest and recovery
A massage can be a beautiful thing. Karel and I get massages 2-3 times  a month as part of our pre-hab. It is very important to me that with all the work I do with my body, that I keep it as healthy as possible with recovery and sometimes I can't do that alone. We have amazing sport massage therapists in our life which are worth the money. Other methods of recovery include trigger point, foam rolling, compression, espon salt, compex, sport legs, arnica cream and simple rest and relaxation with a clear mind.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Don't let an "off" day ruin your week. Be appreciative of the progress you have made and keep your eyes on where you are heading. If you are having trouble getting the motivation you need to get started, send me an email. I have pre-built run/tri plans available if you need something to help you stay consistent or we can discuss your missing link in your diet/fitness routine.

Happy training/exercising.

Tips for an active and healthy lifestyle

Marni Sumbal

Thanks to Oakley Women and Shape Magazine, I was able to have an amazing venue to speak about topics that have changed my life. Because "healthy" can be a word that is often overused and not clearly defined in our society, I enjoy helping others live a more balanced lifestyle.
In San Diego, Boulder and DFW, I spoke to over 600 women (combined) for over 6 hours (total) and loved every minute of it. When you are passionate about something, it is easy to talk about. But when you can practice what you preach, it is easy to communicate to others with happiness, joy and satisfaction that the lifestyle that you live is so amazing that you hope that others can share it with you. Sure, this can be taken out of context as many people strive for a lifestyle that is unrealistic, extreme and often, unhealthy but I feel that to be healthy, you have to be happy. Sadly, as many people go about changing habits, they are not happy and feel that only the end result will bring happiness. With tomorrow being my golden birthday (wow - turning 31!!) I can only think back to the last year and smile when I think about all that has happened, thanks to a balanced life. Living a healthy life is not about a number on a scale, sticking to a certain diet or bragging about how many hours of weekly exercise you can do. Living a healthy life is about your quality of life and I hope my 7 top tips for balanced living, help jump start or enhance your journey to an active and healthy lifestyle.
Keep in mind that it's not about how well you balance everything on your plate but instead, making sure everything you do has a purpose and brings meaning to your one and only life. You don't have to be perfect or be like others. It's better to be really awesome and great at a few things (and spend the time working on being great) than to be OK at a lot.

1) Develop a mindful eating plan– Eat with attention and intuition. Does anyone not like to eat? Eating mindfully means that you don’t feel guilty when you eat and you always feel better after you eat than before. To eat mindfully - you have to eat! Aim for 3 balanced meals a day to nourish your body and then snack wisely. Snacks should serve 3 purposes: to fill in nutritional gaps between meals, to control blood sugar and to honor hunger.
2) Train smarter to train harder – You don’t have to be a triathlete, training for an Ironman to be "healthy". You also don't have to be  a "runner". Recognize the difference between training for an event and exercising. Remove the pressure that you have to do x workouts a week and for x-minutes a day and just focus on ways that you can move your body more - athlete or fitness enthusiast. In addition to your current cardio routine, I recommend to strength train 2-3 times per week, add in yoga, cross training and flexibility work. Also, if you own a GPS –HR enabled device, be sure you know how to use it for consistent training? Take advantage of gadgets, equipment and anything else that will take the guessing away from working out and will help with more consistent performance gains. Thus, training harder by training smarter. Focus on quality workouts, not quantity. For more info, read here for an article I did on training smarter.

3) Develop a positive relationship with food and the body – Consider this example. I bring Campy into the vet and put him on the scale. He has gained 5 lbs and in disbelief, out-loud I complain "uggh, how disgusting". The vet, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be concerned as he is telling me how healthy Campy is, how strong his bones are, how he has a good heart beat and that he is really fit and happy. However, I hear nothing of how "healthy" he is because I am obsessed with that number on the scale. So, as a result, I think about how I can get that weight off...quickly. Detox, cleanse, over-exercise, restrict his food.....Should I exercise him obsessively during the day? Should I cut out carbs and his calories? Should I not take him to the doggy park because they other doggies are going to notice his extra wiggle and talk about how bloated he looks? Should I put him on detox for 5 days?
Certainly, I'd never do that (I only give him lots and lots of kisses because he gives me unconditional love every day) but that just sounds like crazy talk, right? But what about you all or someone you know. Do you let a household appliance tell you how your day is going to go? Are you going to let numbers tell you how to eat, how to exercise and how to act for the you let a number run and ruin your day and affect your self worth? Certainly the scale can be a positive thing but for many, it is used irresponsibly. 

I want everyone to designate at least 2 rooms of your house (the bedroom and kitchen) where you avoid using words like bad, off-limit, restricted, cheat, fat, skinny, gross..  Stop counting calories, see food for nutritional value and give your body a little credit for what is allows you to do on a daily basis like crossing finishing lines and being productive at work. Every time you look at your body - thank it, don't bash it.

(Campy says he doesn't care how much you weigh.....he has a lot of love to give and doesn't judge people by a number on a scale. I agree.)

4) Welcome change by relying on the power of goal setting – Do you  like change? Change can be scary and it can be exciting. One of my favorite quotes is "if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you." If you have goals in your life, don’t wait until tomorrow as there is no perfect time to get started. Set 3 short and long term goals, in the areas of lifestyle, exercise and nutrition to keep you motivated and excited to wake up every morning wanting to see what you are capable of achieving by the end of the day. Life doesn't always get easier, you just discover new limits.
5) Think beyond diet and exercise: work on sleep, stress and attitude management.– Everyone wants to blame diet and exercise when it comes to "health" and there's always a quick diet and exercise fix/fad to help us be "healthy". As an athlete and coach, I know that there are many variables that affect performance and to be a good athlete, you can’t just focus on the miles or a perfect nutrition plan.  For a balanced lifestyle, focus on the other variables in your life that can affect your health. Aim for a restful night of sleep most days of the week and surround yourself with people who give you energy and not take it away from you. You can't avoid stress but you can know how to deal with it with an action plan. Make time for you, don’t be afraid to say no and make your health a priority.
6) Prioritize a real food diet.  In my mind, one of the most important components of living an active and healthy lifestyle is to create a balanced eating plan that prioritizes “real” food. The keys to longevity are not special K bars, coconut ice cream, kale and chia seeds , but rather a diet rich in foods that are straight from mother nature, from the Earth. Every day you can emphasize foods that are produced by farmers and made in gardens or chemical "food" concoctions created in a factory. Think about emphasizing foods that your body knows how to metabolize and use. I don’t believe in off-limit foods or “bad” foods but rather to emphasize foods with little to no ingredients and when you choose to indulge be sure to savor and enjoy that "occasional/de-emphasized" food – don’t devour it or stress about it. 
To help you reach your fitness, health and body composition goals, consider a plant-strong diet filled with colorful fruits and veggies, alongside lean/low-fat protein, heart-healthy fats and whole grains. It's not about what you do occasionally that matters but what you do regularly.

7) Adapt to training stress with nutrient timing and sport nutrition  
Now that we covered 6 tips, it’s time to talk Sport nutrition. When it comes to sport nutrition, I do not expect you all to formulate your own sport drink or energy gels.  There’s no reason you need to make your own protein powder. Sadly, however, many people
confuse or associate the daily diet with sport nutrition and thus, many people have no idea how to properly "fuel" workouts when the body is under a tremendous amount of stress.  Sport nutrition is there to support the physiological demands of training. When you are running for an hour, your body needs fuel. When you are sitting behind a computer at 3 in the afternoon, your body  does not need an energy drink so you can sit for 2 more hours. 
When it comes to eating before a workout, your choices should be easy to find, easy to prepare, easy to consume and easy to digest. Yes, you should eat a high fiber diet to keep you satisfied throughout the day and you should monitor your portions and calories to meet your individual needs, and Yes, you should eat protein and whole grains throughout the day. But before a workout your primarily focus is energy dense food– foods that can digest quickly so you can focus on your workout, not on digestion. During a workout – fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates depending on the intensity and duration of the workout. And immediately after your workout, your body requires quick recovery fuel - generally protein, but often a mix of carbs + protein. 
If you are an athlete or fitness enthusiast, focus a bit more about how you are fueling around your workouts so that your body is primed to perform when you want it to perform. As for the rest of the day, nourish it so you can do it all over again tomorrow.
For more info, I have many articles and blogs dedicated to sport nutrition, here is my most comprehensive blog post on sport nutrition. If you need additional help, email me via my website and we can discuss my services to help you move closer to your fitness and health related goals.

When you have a healthy relationship with food, have a positive body image and appreciate food for fuel and for health, your life will change and you will find yourself living a balanced life. Remember, if you don’t take care of your body, your body won’t take care of you. Don’t forget to thank your body on a daily basis.


What's more important? Diet or Sleep?

Marni Sumbal

There was a really interesting article that I came across a few days ago: Workout or Fix a meal? In the article, "findings suggest that one healthy behavior can take time away from another healthy habit, and that public health recommendations need to take into account the time people have for beneficial lifestyle habits on a given day."

Now if you want to lose weight or change body composition , you may be thinking to yourself that you know that diet is just as important as exercise but if you are an athlete, this is likely going to ring a bell when you think about how much attention you place on your cardio routine but often feel like you don't "have time" for stretching, good sleep or meal planning. I think one of the most common reasons why triathletes don't strength train is because they say "I don't have time."

"There's only so much time in a day. As people try to meet their health goals, there's a possibility that spending time on one healthy behavior is going to come at the expense of the other," Tumin said. "I think this highlights the need to always consider the trade-off between ideal and feasible time use for positive health behaviors."

I remember writing an article not too long ago (December) on my blog about sleep and exercise and which one being more important? So many athletes sacrifice quality sleep for training and I often find it being a limiter in quality, consistent training and racing. Not to mention that culprit for moodiness, stress and feeling exhausted throughout the day. There are many people who have extremely bad sleeping habits and choose to eat large meals before bed, sleep on the couch or just don't feel as if sleep is important and then there are those who won't even think twice about skimping on sleep. 

I wanted to repost my article along with a yummy recipe as you think about some of the habits in your life and how you can tweak things to create a more balanced, healthy and active lifestyle. 


The other day I posted on my Trimarni facebook page about how much I value sleep. Appropriately, there was an excellent article from the Washington Post showing and explaining how sleep can affect disease, appetite and other health problems.


I highly encourage you to read the article if you are someone who struggles with getting a restful night of sleep, most days per week.

As for how much is enough?  I think that differs person to person but it also has to do with your lifestyle routine. We know that the body is constantly repairing when we sleep...and working. So for an age group athlete who not only trains for races/events but has a full-time job (parent or in an office), sleep is vital for consistent gains in life and to minimize risk for illness and injury. You do not have to prove you are a superhero by being able to function with only 4-5 hours a sleep.
Additionally, as you will read in the article, a restful night of sleep is the key. Good sleep means that for most nights, when you fall asleep, you are out for enough cycles to wake up feeling rested. I know for myself that I've learned that I can only afford one to two nights of sleeping 6.5-7 hours for anymore I struggle with activities of daily living. My energy fads as the week goes on, I have more afternoon cravings, I don't think as clear, I don't recover as quickly, I feel moody at times and my performance suffers with training. However, with only one to two nights of 7-hours of sleep, I know that a good night of sleep for 8-8.5 hours (depending on my training phase) most days of week will help keep my life in balance. So, the issue is not trying to make time for more sleep but rather, making sure sleep is the priority and making everything else fit in for a consistent life routine.

In other words....are you the athlete/fitness enthusiast who falls asleep at 9pm, wakes up at 11pm to get a snack because you are hungry, you go back to bed at midnight (falling asleep with the TV on or browsing through your iPhone/pad) and then wake up at 3am to go to the restroom because you had a bowl of cereal w/ milk at 11pm (or before bed) and then you jump out of bed at 4am when the alarm goes off so that you can do your 3-mile recovery run?

Sit down with a piece of paper and make sure you have your priorities in the right place:
Make time for sleep
Make time for a healthy diet

Don't expect to life a busy, go, go, go life and hope to find the time tomorrow because you will be "good" tomorrow. If you are currently training for an event and find yourself like a zombie by thurs or friday, perhaps it is more beneficial for consistent quality training to take a rest day on Wed or get a little extra sleep by modifying workouts mid week than trying to be a superhero and expecting your body not to fail you from Mon - Sun, week after week after week.

So, then the question comes into the diet - does a healthy diet override quality sleep or is sleep more important than a healthy diet?
I am sure you can guess my answer.

It's all about balance.

There is a great saying that "you can not out-train a poor diet". In other words, if your diet is not balanced in a way to support the metabolic processes during activity, don't expect to eat whatever you want and however much you want and then just "exercise" your way to "good" health. Sadly, it doesn't work like that.

I find that when it comes to creating an individualized, balanced lifestyle, people are always quick to think about the person who is an anomaly. You know, the one who can eat whatever she/he wants but still has great race results or has the "perfect" body (if there is such a thing). Or the person who ate only x-foods (aka followed x-diet) for 3 months and lost 30 pounds and now feels amazing. When was the last time you just thought about yourself and didn't compare your life to others....wishing that you could be like others or questioning why others have it so easy or why they can do it and you can't?

I think about my own journey in the past few years and I am very proud of my own changes in regard to living a lifestyle that I feel is balanced and healthy. As a health professional, I am not forcing my lifestyle on others but rather helping to inspire and motivate you to think about what it is you can do to make for a balanced life. Certainly, some of the things that make me feel healthy now were established overtime so when it comes to the diet, you can't expect to feel the positive rewards overnight.

This blog post is simply to show you that your life is your life. If you can give a little thought every day as to what works and doesn't work (depending on what you want to "feel" like and be doing now, in 10 years and in 50+ years) and how you can make small changes for tomorrow, I have a feeling you are going to feel so much more balance in your life and overall, a better way of enjoying your time on Earth.

To keep you motivated in the kitchen, here are two yummy creations that will make you feel great....and with a happy belly, I am sure you will sleep better in the evening.


Colorful Seasonal saladOrange slices
Leafy green lettuce
Quinoa (Red or white)
Pumpkin seeds
Sliced almonds

Lemon Tahini Dressing (or spread)  
(As featured in my lastest monthly Plate Not Pills Article on LAVA: Manganese)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp water (add more for desired consistency needs for a dressing)

1. Combine ingredients in small blender (ex. Ninja cup blender) and store in glass jar or Tupperware container in refrigerator.


Eat for performance, not reward

Marni Sumbal

2011 Ironman World Championships, Kona, Hawaii - warm-up ride on the Queen K

Nip not-so-constructive eating habits in the bud this spring with a fresh approach to food.

by Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N
The minute you sign up for an IRONMAN event, you’re no longer an “exerciser,” you’re an athlete. And whether you train eight, 10, or 18-plus hours a week, athletes ask a lot of their bodies. In the cycle of training and adapting, it’s imperative that you don’t lose sight of your body’s key nutritional needs: what it requires to support metabolism, reduce your risk for disease and assist in building a healthy body composition.
Many new athletes too often find themselves in a pattern of haphazard, mile-focused training and a coexisting “reward-food” style of eating (aka “I earned that cookie”). But before you progress any further with your training this year, consider any recent or ongoing habits that may be causing you to struggle with your performance, overall health or body composition goals.
We all know how easily food becomes a replacement for other things. Regardless of how much your legs burn in a workout, if you’re eating for comfort, out of anxiety, or simply because you have no idea how to properly time your meals with your training routine, something probably needs to change.
Here are some key strategies for constructive eating throughout your upcoming race season.

Redefine “reward”

If you eat well most of the time you don’t have to worry about the rest of the time. It’s okay to chow down on chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream as a treat after your hardest monthly bike ride or grab the occasional take-out pizza after a long run, but it’s important not to make these choices habitual. Routinely choosing such post-training “rewards” puts you in danger of missing out on key vitamins and minerals needed to support the metabolic processes required in training.
Remember that the most appropriate time in your day to properly fuel your body is around your workouts—to assist in energy support, recovery and repair. If you can’t help but associate a successful training session with a food-based reward, consider focusing on the body-benefiting nutrients instead of the "prize." A recovery smoothie that’s properly timed with your training will do more for you than that late night burger run, for example.

To read the rest of my tips, check out my latest Ironman Column article HERE 

Eat like me - I'm a RD!

Marni Sumbal

This morning at work, while enjoying my delicious blueberry loaded oatmeal (w/ coconut shavings, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, chia seeds, a little whey protein and milk) and looking at my patients charts before seeing patients in the hospital, a nurse walked into our charting room and looked over at me and said "What are you eating?"

I smiled and told her what was in my yummy creation and her response was "Sounds interesting. I should eat like you. I always want to know what dietitians eat 'cause they are always so skinny."

Ahem. Skinny?


I politely smiled and said nothing although in a nice way, I assured her that I do not eat to be "skinny" by telling her how yummy my oatmeal was and how easy it was to make - hopefully she is inspired now.

Healthy - absolutely. Strong - yep. Fueled - without a doubt. 

This assumption has happened to me several times in the past for I guess if your profession revolves around teaching people how to eat, what to eat and why to eat, I guess it is important to lead by example.

But regardless if you are in a health-related field, shouldn't we all be proud of how we eat and are we quick to judge a person's health simply by a body composition or what we see them eat every now and then?

As an athlete, it would be no surprise for me to say that my health status is best represented by my actions - physical and daily.

I feel that no matter what you do in life, you are constantly judged when it comes to food. Maybe not all the time but how you look, how you act, how you perform and how you live all relates back to food. Nothing wrong with enjoying food but many people take it overboard. There is more obsessing and talking than doing.

I don't enjoy being in a food lecture when I eat. Do you like to be around people who tell you about bad food, what diet they are on and how awful they felt after they were bad last night. Of course, you may not want to be around those people while you are enjoying your meal (that makes YOU feel good) so rather than lecturing about food,  try to inspire. When I work with individuals who desire a change in eating, it is not my "job" as a RD to tell others how to eat in order to eat like me. There's a lot of research out there as to how to eat but if you are unable to connect healthy eating with healthy living, what's the point in following a diet plan or having an off-limit food list?

I feel we all need to re-discover the enjoyment with eating. The pleasure, the nourishment and the fuel that comes with meal time. I suppose I am doing my "job" well as an RD for I am living an active and healthy lifestyle that is supported by a plant strong diet but I hope that I am not being judged by my body composition as if the way I look is a representation as to what is required by my professional role. 

I am healthy. Not as a RD, but as a health conscious, active individual. My health is not determined by a number on a scale and certainly I am not "skinny" for I have jiggle just like the rest of the women out there who don't choose to restrict food and aim for perfection. I love my life and my diet keeps me active, it keeps me well and it keeps me happy.

Moments like this remind me why I love what I do. I get to help people in many different settings  - from athletes racing to finishing lines, to health-focused individuals and to patients in the hospital in order to help others live a more balanced lifestyle. I get to improve the quality life of others because we all know we have no guarantees in life so why not enjoy every day that happens, when it happens.

Because everyone is looking for tips and suggestions on weight loss and "getting healthy", I thought I'd share a great read from the March 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition: 

Top Eight Cancer Findings of 2012
The American Institute for Cancer Research released the top 8 scientific findings in 2012 that advanced the field of cancer prevention.

1. Pancreatic Cancer is preventable - a healthy weight can prevent 19% of pancreatic cancer cases.
2. Exercise helps cancer survivors - physical activity in cancer patients helps improve function, quality of life, body weight, strength and fatigue.
3. Soy is safe, despite previous warnings - breast cancer patients and survivors can safely eat moderate amounts of soy. 
4. Inactivity is harmful - sedentary lifestyle causes 10% of both breast cancers and colon cancers. 
5. Lightening our heavy nation - 2/3rds of adults are overweight or obese, which increases the risk of seven cancers.
6. Sugary drinks linked to weight increase - regular consumption of sugary beverages contributes to weight gain. 
7. Losing weight to lower risk - losing weight can reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to some cancers. 
8. How to keep weight off - adding vegetables and fruits is the single most effective strategy for long-term weight loss. 

So in other words - no need to eat like me. Hopefully I can inspire you to love your life and the food you choose to put in your body. Use your body, love your body and respect your body. It's your life - live it and love it!

Racing weight - do you have one?

Marni Sumbal

Yes, I am pouring ice down my shorts at Ironman Kentucky (2009). This was one of my favorite races because it was great to be in my home state. I loved the rolling hills on the course and I always like to see nature/wildlife when I am racing. I have been known to say out loud "Hello" to the cows and horses that I spot along course - I am sure they say hello back but I am too busy riding fast on my bike. 
This was also a favorite race of mine because it was my Ironman PR - a hard definition to use in racing because I have PR'd in separate races for each the swim, bike and run but here I put it all together for a "fast" Ironman at 10 hours and 53 minutes. But as we all know, you can't compare race to race for every race is different. I will take my 10 hours and 57 minute finishing time as my "best" race at IMWI for it was super challenging and likely the hardest IM I have ever "raced". In Kona 2011, I PR'd on the bike but I have yet to learn how to "race" that race so hopefully I will have the honor to race there for the 3rd time in the future (hopefully with Karel).

As far as racing weight goes, I hear a lot from athletes who feel as if reaching a certain weight will allow them to race better. I understand that we should not be carrying more weight on our body than is needed for that can increase risk for injuries. But in terms of a healthy weight vs a racing weight, how can we figure out what is our ideal weight for performing well on race day?

Here's how I see it  - from both a coach, an athlete and someone who has worked with many athletes on race day/race week eating along with sport nutrition and weight loss. 

If you are a newbie, you likely have no idea what is an ideal racing weight. Focus on your training and getting stronger with consistent  performance gains. A number on a scale or comparing your body composition to others will not give you a PR. Your work in the pool, on the bike and/or while running will give you the race performance you trained your body to do by race day. As for wanting to lose weight and being a newbie? That is fine and likely why you started a new sport in order to "get healthy". Never should a workout be compromised or life be extreme just to "lose weight". Create a healthy foundation diet that will nourish your body and leave you satisfied and then prioritize nutrition around (before, during and after) workouts. This can be done best with someone (ex. sport RD) providing feedback to nutrition logs to tweak the diet for better nutrient timing and of course, learning how to not over/under-eat.

Here is the big reason why veterans talk about "Racing" weight. Someone who refers to a past weight and explains that "at x-weight, I performed the best ever so that is my racing weight" is simply identifying the weight as the highlight of the training. In other words, it wasn't the weight loss or change of body composition that happened first (or in the off-season or while doing nothing) and then the performance gains but instead, the change in body composition and "ideal" racing weight was the result of training. You didn't perform well on race day because you stuck to a diet plan and sat on the couch doing nothing but instead, you likely provided your body with the right fuels at the right time to make performance gains and your body took care of itself. It got stronger, faster and perhaps leaner and you performed well on race day. Now you are likely more efficient and may be struggle with getting back to that weight but in hindsight, it wasn't that specific weight that made you have a great race but instead the training that came with it.

IMKY was a PR but I was also at my "heaviest" for IM racing. I do not perform well with a low body weight and also, it isn't fun because I don't like to feel hungry or restricted so that's a choice I make as I will take performance over a number on a scale. I don't like my body weight going under 108lbs (I'm 5 feet "tall" and I create muscle very easily thanks to genetics and good nutrient timing) and that weight only occurs during IM training. Throughout the year I hoover around 111-112. I'm fine with that as I feel energized, satisfied and most of all, healthy and balanced. I know that if my weight gets to 115 - no biggie but more than that, risk of injuries goes up for me and I am aware of that so to be respectful to my body, I need to adjust something with training/diet to get back to a healthy weight. So although at IMKY I was heavier than most IM's, I performed the best ever and at the end of the day when writing my race reports, it wasn't the weight that hopefully inspired others to reach personal health goals but rather my attitude, performance and approach to a fun, active lifestyle. Hopefully you can do the same. 

If you are an athlete or fitness enthusiast, you likely are using your body to perform. If you are a swim suit, cycling shorts or running top model, you are using your body for a picture. There's nothing wrong with either one but from my perspective as an athlete, I would rather use my body in my swim suit, cycling shorts and running top to get to finishing lines and feel fueled and strong along the way. 

Since we are in a society that is stuck between "healthy eating for health" and "healthy eating for weight loss", I thought I'd share an article (or parts of it) from one of my favorite nutrition journals as athletes are always quick to remove food to lose weight or follow a fad diet (heavy on products or "bad" food) and I find that nutritional irresponsible and often times disrespectful for the body that we expect to be 100% all the time. For me, I'd rather work with an athlete to identify strengths and weaknesses in the diet alongside lifestyle habits that may be affecting the timing, amount and types of nutrition before assuming that that athlete has to go to any great lengths in terms of restrictive eating when it comes to meeting personal weight and performance goals. I have heard many athletes blame certain foods for GI upset and feeling 'unhealthy' but for me, I'd rather find any triggers for the reasons behind not feeling well during the day or during training rather than blaming a food source and removing it without it being the true cause.

Nutrition Action Healthletter Jan/Feb 2013 issue.
GUT MYTHS: Clearning up confusion in the GI tract.

(there are several myths listed on pg 3-5 so I will share one of them)

MYTH: Got gas? Beans, vegetables and milk are the main culprits.
Beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, milk, bran. Those are some of the usual suspects when people are trying to figure out why they're experiencing, ahem, gas. Ant those foods can cause gas.
But most of us overlook a growing source of the problem: inulin, or chicory root extract, one of the most popular ingredients in "high-fiber" foods.
"Of all the fibers added to foods, inulin is the one that probably causes the most intestinal gas, " say fiber expert Joanne Slavin, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota. "Inulin contains sugars that our digestive enzymes can't break down."
The enzymes do just fine with sugars that have only one or two basic units (called saccharides). Sucrose, or table sugar, for example, is a disaccharide, that is broken down in the small intestine into fructose and glucose.
But when it comes to sugars made up of three or more units - often called oligosaccharides - our enzymes are useless. So the sugars end up as food for the bacteria in the gut.
"Inulin is quickly and completely fermented in the large intestine," explains Slavin. And when your bacteria finish fermenting it, you get stuck with the gas they give off.
"Beans are notorious for causing gas because they have sugars like raffinose and stachyose," notes Slavin. Raffinose has three sugar units. Stachyose has four.
"If you look at literature on treating or cooking beans to make them less gassy, it's mostly t get the oligosaccharides out of there," she adds.
(Beano tablets can prevent gas because the contain an enzyme that breaks down raffinose and stachyose).
Whether inulin is a problem depends on how much you eat and who you are.
"Our review of studies found that inulin is generally well tolerated at levels up to 15g a day," says Slavin. But at around 20 grams, flatulence or bloating is more likely. "So does is a big issue and there is also individual variability."

Each serving of FIber One 90 Calorie Bronies, Fiber One cottage Cheese and Yoplait LIght with fiber has 5 grams of fiber and much of it is inulin.
Some Fiber One Chewy Bars have up to nine grams.
"If you have a serving of beans you'll get about 3 grams of oligosaccharides, not nine grams," says Slavin. "Any they're more manageable in a real food because they're digested more slowly and usually mixed with other foods."

Another hidden source of gas: sugar alcohols like sorbitol and maltitol. "They're low-calorie carbohydrates because they're not completely digested and absorbed," explains Slaving. "Typically if you are eating sugar-free candy or gum, your exposure to sugar alcohols is low, but if people eat the whole bag of candy, it can cause gas."
Sugar alcohols aren't all equal, though. In small studies, some people complain of gas when doses of sorbitol reach 10-20g but few complain unless they get at least 30-40 grams of maltitol.
Most foods don't have that much. Breyers Vanilla or chocolate CarbSmart and No sugar Added ice creams, for example, have 4-5 g of sorbitol per half cup, but many people start at a whole cup. And Baskin Robbins No sugar Added Caramel Turtle Truffle ice cream has 25grams of maltitol per scoop..

Of course, some people may eat more than one food with sugar alcohols during the course of a day. And people vary. "Most people can tolerate normal doses, but not everybody is the same," say Slavin.

On the plus side, sugar alcohols have fewer calories than sugar and inulin spurs the growth of Bifido bacteria, which may be good for gut health (that's why it is called a prebiotic). But the more bacteria in your gut, the more gas they give off.

"Scientists argue that gas isn't bad for you, but most people say it's not acceptable," say Slavin. "If you hve gas, you should definitely consider what you're eating. If it's a lot of fermentable fiber or sugar alcohols, that could be the explanation."

Move outside of the diet comfort zone

Marni Sumbal

I absolutely love this quote. I think we are all guilty of feeling comfortable in our comfort zone. Although we don't recognize the need to change right at this moment, it isn't until we are open to the idea of change (whether it is necessary or not) that we find it easier to learn more about what we are capable of achieving. Although not everything works out perfectly when you try something new, it is the ability to not fear change that is so very powerful.

Over the past few years, I have worked with athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages, levels of fitness and with all types of personal health, fitness and diet goals. I love my job in that no two individuals are alike. 

One thing I have learned is that a small change can make a big effect on how a person lives, makes choices and acts. To not approach training or the diet as "black or white" or all-or-none can be hard as everyone wants a quick fix. However, I believe in making small changes and not changing everything at once. In reviewing the many success stories of athletes and fitness enthusiasts that I have worked with, it has been small, consistent changes that have allowed individuals to move closer to reaching their personal goals.

I have seen a lot of different styles of eating and training and of course, my first thought is "a lot needs to be changed". But that is not my approach to helping a person change their lifestyle. If a lot needs to be changed, I start with a few small changes that are practical, realistic and meaningful. Changes that can be felt and acknowledged. Changes that can impact how a person feels so they are more inclined to keep that change and to want to make other changes to feel just as good.

Here are a few easy, simple changes that you may want to try in your daily routine. These are changes that I have helped others with and they have noticed dramatic results in how they live, eat and train/exercise.

-Instead of pre-packaged flavored oatmeal, use 1/2 cup plain oatmeal and add your own berries, healthy fat (ex. PB, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, oil, nuts, seeds) and your choice of protein (powder, milk, yogurt).
-Add a salad to your lunch meal. If you currently eat a salad for lunch, be sure it is a satisfying "meal".
-Add intervals into your exercise/training routine.
-Ask yourself how much time you have a day to train for an athletic event after you factor in meal prep, work, sleep, commuting, family/friends time, etc. There is no "perfect" number of hours/miles you need to train per week.
-Train for time, not miles.
-Aim for 20-30g of protein per meal.
-Don't forget to include a healthy fat in your meal to help keep you satisfied.
-Honor your hunger, don't watch the clock.
-Fuel frequently during workouts and recognize when your body needs fuel (be proactive) instead of waiting until x-minutes or x-miles passing by.
-If your spouse/significant other doesn't understand your active lifestyle, keep in mind that we can have similar lifestyles but different passions. Not everyone has to be a triathlete, runner, etc.
-Don't lecture others about food. Inspire with your choices and actions.
-Set goals for yourself in the areas of life, exercise and diet.
-Add variety with your meal choices every 2-3 days.
-Add more color to your diet.
-Replace, not eliminate. Focus on more nutrient-dense, whole foods.
-Enjoy your occasional treats - make them count and feel better after you eat them than before.
-Don't be afraid to cook.
-Make time for meal-prep.
-If it isn't in the house you can't eat it (this goes for cookies and for dark leafy greens)

T or F: Healthy Living answers

Marni Sumbal

I hope you enjoyed my blog  from yesterday as well as the video on my HeartWise TV segment with News4Jax. Since four-minutes leaves very little time to talk about all my helpful tips for healthy living, here is the extending version for your reading pleasure....

1) T or F: You have to exercise 1 hour  a day to have a healthy heart?
2) T or F: To lose weight and to be healthy you have to avoid sugar and salt?
3) T or F: You have to eat only whole grains on a healthy diet?
4 T or F: To help your heart, eating, body composition and sleep habits you need to manage stress?
5) T or F: You have to be a vegetarian to be healthy?
6) T or F: Portion control is the most important thing in a healthy eating plan?

Research says that all you need is ~150 minutes of moderate intensity activity  a week to improve health and quality of life (Yes triathletes/runners - that is per week, not one workout). However, because of our very sedentary lifestyle, I encourage people to move as much as possible. 10 minute segments add up throughout the day so just try to move your body as much as you can. Because consistency is key to exercise benefits, perhaps breaking it up throughout the day may work best for you depending on your fitness level, time restraints, energy and workout.

No need to be extreme as we do need salt and sugar in the diet. However, where it is coming from will make the difference as to how much you can/should eat. Focus on a more whole food diet and you will find yourself involuntarily reducing added sugar and salt in the diet. Read food labels to be a more educated consumer as the hidden sources of food (Ex. bread, cereals, cheeses, processed meats, frozen foods, canned foods, etc.) can add up throughout the day. Add flavor (and antioxidants) with herbs and spices and when you find yourself consuming primarily real food, a little salt is fine and will go a long way for flavoring food. As for sugar, again you need to read the labels as you can find added sugar in everything from cereal and granola bars to yogurt, marinara sauce and peanut butter). Emphasize natural sugars which also have fiber and the body will have an easier time digesting them to keep you satisfied. For women, up to 25g a day of added sugar (35g for men) is fine so prioritize where your added sugar is coming from and of course, enjoy it!

The best part about whole grains (besides being yummy) is that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. An easy way to incorporate more whole grains into your diet is to aim for ~3 servings of whole grains a day as a minimum. A serving counts as 1 whole grain slice toast, 1 cup whole grain cereal, 1/2 cup grains (ex. brown rice, quinoa, barley). 

4) TRUEStress can be good or bad. We want to reduce stress to help with blood pressure and to help with immunity. The key is not just minimizing stress but managing stress. Because we can't live a stress-free life, we need to recognize our major stressors and then have an action plan as to how we will (in a healthy manner) manage/deal with the stress.

5) FALSERather than following a branded diet (aside from religious, ethical or health reasons), create your own diet that is plant strong. We want to create a diet that is filled with fruits and veggies (nature's medicine) along with whole grains, quality protein (animal and primarily plant protein) and healthy fats.

6) TRUE AND FALSEPortion control is a great way to manage your calories in vs your calories out but most importantly it is a way to be sure that you are giving your body enough vitamins and minerals and nutrients to meet your individual needs. But besides portion control, think about your lifestyle in terms of food. Try to be a better meal planner, eat slowly, make time to eat, eat with your utensils and a napkin, eat behind a table (not behind a computer screen or in the car) and learn to develop a healthy relationship with food. Appreciate the food that you choose to fuel your lifestyle and don't forget that prevention is cheaper than medicine.

True or False: Healthy Living

Marni Sumbal

It's kinda interesting how a LIVE TV segment is very similar to someone who is wanting to make lifestyle changes. 
On TV - it is very rushed. You just never feel like you have enough time and you can't cover every topic as planned. There are delays and things can go wrong but yet you just have to carry on and make the best of everything.
I really enjoy being on TV for that very reason....I just have to do the best I can with the time available, hoping that it was enough to allow at least one person to feel like they can walk away with something practical and realistic in terms of info to change their lifestyle. 

When I was becoming a RD, I quickly learned that it is not my job to tell people everything I know. First off, experience is key in my field and I can't tell you how awesome it is to be a clinical RD. I learn so much every time I work and although I feel more and more comfortable at the hospital every time I am there, I still have a long way to go...just like nurses, MD's and other health professionals. Even in my specialty field of sport nutrition and exercise physiology, the human body is so complex that I can't go a day without learning something new. Having said all that, it is not my responsibility to act as if I know everything but instead provide information to individuals that is case-appropriate and to keep on learning throughout my career as a RD/Exercise physiologist.

Just like writing an article, I have to know my audience, the perceived/wanted goals (or outcome) of my talk/article/presentation and what take-aways will be valuable to the audience. I have really enjoyed being part of Baptist Heartwise for Women and helping women change their lifestyle to improve heart health and quality of life.



Here are a few questions for you (seeing that I didn't have time to cover everything during my "long" 4 minute segment):

1) T or F: You have to exercise 1 hour  a day to have a healthy heart?
2) T or F: To lose weight and to be healthy you have to avoid sugar and salt?
3) T or F: You have to eat only whole grains on a healthy diet?
4 T or F: To help your heart, eating, body composition and sleep habits you need to manage stress?
5) T or F: You have to be a vegetarian to be healthy?
6) T or F: Portion control is the most important thing in a healthy eating plan?

Answers will be posted later..... or you can watch the segment and stay tuned on my blog for more details about the answers.

If you knew the answers, ask yourself where you found out the correct information? Was it common sense, from a website, from a friend, from a health professional? Bottom line, healthy living and eating does not require a degree or extreme program to follow. Think about a few changes you can make today to help you prepare for a better tomorrow. If you put off changes and keep doing the same things, you can expect the same results. You know the answers as to how you can start living a healthier lifestyle - it doesn't require a diet book, a magazine subscription or a trainer. Sure, a health scare from your MD or a wake-up call in your personal life may convince you it is time to change some habits but for the most part, everyone can make a few changes in their personal life (diet, exercise, lifestyle) to improve quality of life.

No-guilt nutrition on recovery/off days

Marni Sumbal

Two weeks of quality training are behind me. It doesn't seem like a lot but I still have 6 more months to go before Ironman Lake Placid and without emphasis on recovery, there is no way I can progress with intentional exercise-induced stress and fatigue.

My body is going strong but to be proactive, I will rest my body and mind before I really need it. A solid 9 hours of sleep last night and I know a day off from training was needed since I am not a napper and nighttime is the only time I can rejuvenate and repair. I am a fan of active recovery (ex. swim, non-weight bearing activity) as a replacement for a day off but never when it comes with waking up with an alarm. Seeing that the drive to and from the gym may take more time than the actual swim, alongside feeling rushed, meal prep, etc. I didn't even need to think twice about not doing an active recovery/drill-focused swim this morning since I asked myself last night "What will I gain from this swim?" NOTHING. I'd rather walk Campy and stretch.

Sometimes active recovery does a body good but I do not associate active recovery with body-image control, feeling guilty about eating on off days or feeling "off" without a workout. All I have to think about is my upcoming week of training on Training Peaks and the day off is exactly what I need to help me out with the next 6 days of training.

A while back I wrote an article on nutrition on off/recovery days and I feel it is an appropriate time to share the article again. Seeing that we are almost into February, if you are sticking with an exercise resolution or if you just started your triathlon training/running/cycling plan to gear up for the upcoming season, it is likely that you still going strong and perhaps, haven't considered the beauty in rest and recovery.

The key with off days is to not lose focus of recovery. The idea of a planned rest day (whether Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday - depending on when you need the recovery to ensure a quality, consistent week of training) is to keep up with all the things that you need to do to ensure a great next x-days of training. Sleep, stress management, stretching and diet are key as you can not assume you will recover from the past 6 days or so of training just by not doing cardio or strength training and eating whatever you want and sitting around with tight muscles. Take that control that you have with the diet and exercise/training (which is likely the reason why you struggle with taking planned "off" days) and use that for your recovery day so that you will increase the chance of having consistent training all month long.

Thanks for reading!

Nutrition on rest days from exercise/training

How's that working for you?

Marni Sumbal

We are on the verge of the New Year so that means the hype is building for companies and guru's to prove that they have the best pill, fitness equipment or fad diet to help you finally reach your fitness and body composition goals. As I continue to read about weight loss pills that are dangerous for the consumers (like this one called WOW), I am sure I don't need to convince you that weight loss pills do not solve long-term problems.

I really love this picture because I feel it holds true to so many things in life. So much to do and not enough time. As someone who loves to fill my plate just as much as I love crossing things off my long to-do list, it is not exclusive to procrastinators to leave everything to the last minute. Sometimes, we let time pass by too quickly not recognizing that every day brings an opportunity to bring us closer to our goals. The bigger issue is that we can lazy and make excuses so that when we feel the pressure, we expect results. Thus, it is when we feel like there is not enough time, people are motivated by quick results....results that never last and rarely work.

However, despite dedicating the past 11 months to trying to motivate, inspire and educate you on how to create lifestyle habits and to bring you to a more balanced active and healthful lifestyle, it is likely that a few days, weeks or months of over-indulging and/or minimal physical activity have caused you to reach your breaking point. Of course, there's no better time than the New Year to resolve those habits that are moving you further away from your goals but why is it that after 11 months, you are fed-up with habits...habits that result from actions and actions that result from thoughts?

Certainly, if you need help from a professional, seek help before you find yourself setting 2014 resolutions after 364 days of doing the same things yet expecting the same results. For most people, you have the capability to change habits but perhaps you are confused as to how to make changes that will bring long-lasting results?

If you are someone who constantly finds yourself questioning if habits are bringing you closer to your goals, here are 5 of my daily tips that may help you live a more balanced lifestyle:

1) Get a good night of sleep. Try to eat dinner at least 2 hours before bed and create a balanced and satisfying meal that does not leave you stuffed and does not leave you wanting an  after-dinner "snack". If you aren't hungry enough to eat an apple, you aren't hungry (but OK to enjoy up to .5 ounce of dark chocolate or 1.5 ounce dark chocolate daily). Instead of eating or stimulating your brain w/ the computer, phone or TV, try to go to be 30-60 min earlier than normal in order to get a restful night of sleep.

2. Develop a healthy coping mechanism. I use Campy to de-stress me instead of food or alcohol. Find something that makes you feel good when you feel overwhelmed, sad or stressed. Look up quotes, funny animal pictures or just take a walk. Food and alcohol don't solve problems.

3. Create a routine that allows for consistency. If you find yourself like a zombie by Friday due to your training routine alongside balancing work, family, etc. consider a "rest" day on Wed. Too busy to make a lunch every day of the week - aim for bringing your lunch 3 days a week instead of eating out 5 days a week. Always find yourself dragging at work by 3pm, save your favorite email or project for the afternoon so that you have motivation to stay strong all day long.

4. Prepare meals when you aren't hungry. Don't expect to spend 30 -60 min on food prep if you are starving and with low blood sugar. Seek out times during your day to make a few items for meals when you wouldn't normally eat. Cook grains or start the crock pot in the am as you are getting ready for work or pack your lunch for tomorrow immediately after you finish dinner (before you sit on the couch or get to house-work).

5. Don't expect quick results, set yourself up for success not failure. Need to lose weight? How about aiming to lose 2 lbs in 1 month instead of 10? If you happen to lose 5 - you will be more delighted than if you fail to lose 10. Don't expect every changed habit to result in a change in body composition or performance. The body is a very exceptional thing. Don't confuse progress with backtrack. If you find yourself happier, healthier, more productive, more energetic, more satisfied, more balanced or more consistent than yesterday - you have made progress. If you find yourself in a cycle of habits that keep you frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted, isolated and sad - it only takes one change to prove to your exceptional body that you are ready to make progress.

Finding time for healthy living - no more excuses

Marni Sumbal

We are expected to get relatively chilly here in Jacksonville over the next few days. I have two rides on the training plan for this weekend so I have my winter-riding gear all ready to ensure a comfortable workout. Campy was all bundled up last night as he was a bit chilly from his evening walk. 

When you think about children and animals, they sure do to depend on us to keep them  healthy, safe and well. It's not like Campy can go buy himself a sweater and put it on to keep himself warm. It is up to me, his mommy, to make sure he is not suffering when he is out in the cold. I'm sure you do (or would do) the same for your children (furry or human) for they rely on you to make sure they have the right clothes to keep them warm when the temperatures drop. Always better to be safe than sorry.

Thinking about your own lifestyle as an active adult,  I'm sure you are quite impressive when it comes to planning ahead. You check the weather and depending on the forecast you know you have some shopping to do for some new "seasonal" clothing. Or, you get yourself ready for cooler temps by preparing your seasonal wardrobe well before your upcoming workouts. It's no different for work-clothes but of course, it's much more fun to shop for new exercise clothing when it comes to training throughout the year. 

You know how hard it can be to jump out of bed and start your morning workout without a glitch, so you discovered that having your workout clothes all laid out from the night prior makes it super easy to get into your rhythm in the early morning hours. You hate it when you don't have your Garmin or iPod charged for a workout so instead of making the same mistake twice, you have developed a habit of always charging your gadgets immediately after a workout so that no matter when you are planning your next workout, you and your gadgets are ready.  You probably have a few favorite outfits that you perform the best in so you make sure that days in advance, the outfit is washed so that it is ready for you to wear on race day. 

So, why can't we all have that same excitement when it comes to the planning of the diet or being consistent with daily exercise? 

Consider the time you spend throughout the day doing things that make you a better person. If you feel like your life is devoted to work, life and family, that is a good combination. However, in order to succeed in life you must find the time for you and your health before you have to make the time for illness. It may sound extreme but consider your diet and exercise routine as two vital components of the equation of living a long and quality-filled life. 

As a society, we love to compare ourselves to one another. So, let's stop that right now. Focus on yourself, your own family and your own goals. You have the time for meal planning and developing long lasting healthy dietary and exercise habits but right now you are too focused on other priorities which likely have immediate results. You show up for work late, you risk getting fired. You are behind on paying bills, your credit is affected. You accidentally slept in, you are stressed because you are sitting in traffic instead of being in a meeting. We immediately recognize the results of our actions in so many areas of life.....except for the diet and exercise routine - well, at least until it is too late. 

Perhaps we know that in today's society, we do not have to feel immediate effects of our actions when it comes to the diet because we don't have to risk starvation by not bringing meals/snacks to work because food is convenient no matter where we go. In today's society, we do not have to grow our own food or even prepare our own food because someone else will not only make your food but serve it to you and clean up after you. All you have to do is pay money for their time. 

Convinced you don't have time or just not recognizing how your life will change when you make the time? Give yourself 3 good reasons in the area of diet, fitness and lifestyle that will override a handful of excuses as to why you haven't made the time to move yourself closer to your goals. 

Don't be a victim of your own actions. Instead of making excuses, take action. Make things simple and not overwhelming. Whereas many things in today's society can make it conveniently easy to be unhealthy, taking the stairs, drinking water throughout the day, buying frozen veggies and going for a 10 min walk in the morning are four easy ways of healthy living and do not require a lot of time or energy. 

Take responsibility for your own actions and give up the excuses. Likely you are only disappointing yourself as you make an excuse that weighs heavy on your shoulders despite you having the ability to act in a favorable manner to move you one step closer to your goals. 

Give yourself a to-do list and use a day planner to schedule time for health living. Before you know it, your healthy lifestyle will be something that you have learned to love and you will question why it took you so long to stop the excuses and make the time for healthy living.