When I started triathlons, I was rather obsessed. My life revolved around training morning and night. Twice a day, everyday. The training lifestyle was not too much different than my college life of swimming twice a day, 5 days a week and then a long workout on Saturday, day off Sunday. Although I had about a year of discovering triathlons after college in 2004, I welcome my new triathlon lifestyle when I was in graduate school as I loved having something to prepare for and look forward to every day, all day.
That passion, excitement and motivation has not gone away for if it did, I would not be doing triathlons now 7 years later. But instead, my approach to training has changed as I have discovered that triathlons is not my life, but instead my lifestyle. Life has presented many obstacles, highs and lows over the past few years and as much as I had my swim-bike-run routine to look forward to every single day, I had other commitments in life that required more of my attention and energy.
Before I started my journey to be a RD
I remember my dad, Dr. James Rakes, sharing his wise words with me (as he always does)...
"Marni, make sure you have something in life besides triathlons that makes you happy."
Like any stubborn daughter, I listened to him but it took a while to grasp what he was saying.
My dad never wants me to stop dreaming big and instead, he is my #1 fan that will be cheering me on as all my dreams come true with everything I do. He has encouraged me to dream big but has installed a "hard work" mantra to everything that I do in life. Nothing worth having comes easy.
After receiving my RD credential, I discovered that he was right, like always. Triathlons are my lifestyle and I never want that love of sports to go away. But, I have so many other things in my life that make me excited and motivated every day to see what the day will bring. And although I have not slowed down my life in the past 7 years, I have learned to create a routine where I can train hard with the least amount of training stress to experience big performance gains. With quality training and a less is more approach, I have so much room left in my day to spend the unused energy that I could spend training more for triathlons to other things that carry the same value (or more) as triathlons.
One of the reasons why I went back to school to earn my RD, LD/N credential (Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist) was to become more credible as a speaker and writer. Now a day, any person with a strong voice and personality can provide info to the public and receive fame and recognition but I never wanted to the loud voice. I wanted a higher education to learn more to give the right advice with a caring voice. A voice that shows that I "get it" and I also practice what I preach. Two things that required time, patience and hard work...skills also used in triathlon training.
I was invited by 2013 Speaking Of Women's Health
to speak on behalf of Baptist Heartwise for Women
a few months ago. I love public speaking but with my audience full of women, there was no way I could say no. I love my job and what I get paid to do and changing lifestyles is what I am all about.
Months of preparation on a power point presentation, time spent preparing for the cooking demo. Practicing, setting things up, rehearsing over and over. The excitement and nerves of when the day will come and then the rush before it starts and the comfort of when it actually begins. Then, the sadness when it is all over.
Public speaking is my release from triathlons. It brings me a similar excitement, passion and energy that I can not explain but welcome when I have the opportunity to provide my philosophy and knowledge about food, health and exercise.
I don't feel that everyone needs to be a public speaker or a writer but instead, finds a few things in life that bring you happiness and require hard work. Perhaps for you, signing up for that upcoming running or tri race is your hard workout and happiness and for others, finding a different outlet to bring happiness, besides training is needed. Whatever you choose to do, remember that to be successful in life, you must love what you are doing. If you are wasting your time doing something you don't love or haven't learned to love and appreciate, step back, re-evaluate and consider your goals and dreams. Sometimes hanging in there is needed and other times, it's time to move on. If something is very important to you, you will find yourself looking back sometime down the road, thinking that you couldn't believe where you were when you started.
My 45 minute presentation was not long enough for me but I did my best to squeeze in as much as I could for a room of 225 chairs. Amazingly, there were people standing in the back and guesstimates were around 240-250 people in the room. Thank you HeartWise for asking me to speak for this was my largest audience I have ever spoken to and I loved every minute of it!
I have to give a HUGE thank you to Mai Oui Gourmet Catering
for they were hired by Baptist HeartWise to prepare 4 of my creations for the participants in the talk. They perfected my 3 recipes (tempeh stir fry, avocado mango salsa with pita chip and homemade granola bar) and also provide trail mix for dessert as the participants were leaving. I never like to talk to hungry bellies so even though my talk was at 10am on Saturday, everyone was very happy during my talk...and lots of yumming was occurring too.
Who doesn't love a lecture that has free samples?
What a beautiful presentation!
Yummy trail mix for dessert.
After spending about 20 minutes discussing my philosophy for eating for fuel, for health and for pleasure and providing a few tips supported by the research of a Mediterranean style of eating, it was time for my cooking demo. When I speak, I try to make sure that my audience leaves feeling inspired and has information that they can easily apply to their every day lifestyle. I don't waste too much of my time talking about grams, portions and recommendations beyond what I feel is most important. Therefore, I stress the importance of the lifestyle component and considering the thoughts behind our actions. I feel there is enough info out there for people to learn what it means to eat healthy but it gets wrapped into a tangled mess because there are too many "experts" out there trying to make a simple concept of eating a more real food diet far too complicated. I try to make eating fun and easy to understand and to break the cycle of women having a negative food vocabulary and to stop the body bashing.
I had a few GREAT volunteers to help me with my cooking demo.
I showed how EASY it was to prepare a homemade trail mix and to bulk it up with cheerios (one of my favorite processed foods for it is fortified very well and is very wholesome) OR popcorn from a brown paper bag (1/3 kernels, roll down back twice and pop for 75-90 seconds in microwave).
While we were preparing the trail mix, I had a volunteer read the ingredients on a protein bar. She was still reading it after we prepared the trail mix in less than a minute.
The Hyatt kitchen hooked me up with a hot plate and I had a blast actually "cooking" in front of everyone. I am not a trained chef but I know food and love to talk about food so my volunteer (Who was a male, a husband of a wife who always attends this conference) was outstanding and we had so much fun cooking my tempeh stir fry. I kept it super simple: 1/2 package of tempeh (chopped) and sautéed in a few tsp olive oil on medium heat with with a cup or two of frozen mixed veggies. We seasoned it with ginger, oregano and garlic and then added prepared quinoa in the skillet for a little toss and voila....a beautiful creation serviced on a bed of greens to make our dish more plant strong.
And lastly, who doesn't love salsa? Salsa actually means sauce but many people think of it as a dip. My volunteer was incredible as she had great cooking skills and I could do all the talk. What a great combo!
I kept the salsa SUPER simple - mango, peaches, cilantro, avocado. All seasonal ingredients for a delicious topping to any sandwich, dish or salad...or straight from the bowl to help boost your vitamin and mineral intake.
I had such a great time talking that I ran out of time and had to quickly clean up before the next speaker began. What a bummer because I didn't get to answer questions so if anyone has any questions...send me an email as I'd love to help you out.
I also want to send another BIG thank you to Mai Oui and HeartWise for helping me out with my talk. I couldn't have done this without both of them! Also, for the event putting on a top-notch, inspiring, life-changing event for women. I love being part of events like this for I love helping to inspire women and I feel everyone deserves to have good health, happiness and fun in their life and I want to make sure that no day is left wasted.
At the catered lunch, there was an inspiring video with a segment on Julia Child
. I just love her message and what she was all about in life and most importantly, how she approached life and cooking. There are too many quotes of hers to choose from as I love them all but pertaining to my talk, I feel this one is most appropriate.