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Greenville, SC

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: "vegetarian"

Kona training update and food is fuel (yummy)

Marni Sumbal


This body is not disappointing me despite pushing it to higher limits and challenging workouts. Thanks coach Karel!

Today's workout was a breakthrough. I owe it to two great recovery days last week (Mon off, Tues 3000 recovery swim) and a balanced training plan since IM Lake Placid that has allowed my body to train hard but recover harder. I still don't forget that I didn't run for 90 days in Feb  - April but I thank my body constantly. Sometimes I even do it out loud. 

Wednesday - UNF masters swim team (joined Karel who has really benefited from this group and Coach Mel's assistance with his stroke)
Main set:
100 fast, 50 EZ
2 x 100 fast, 50 EZ
3 x 100 fast, 50 EZ
4 x 100 fast 50 EZ
The goal was to get faster with the fast as the set went on (2 minute cycle) but to be consistent. I really woke up my fast twitch fibers and oh boy was my body filled with lactic acid. I went from 1:16 to holding 1:14 on the last 4 and I was done after that. Whewww.

After the swim Karel and I went for a 90 minute bike, I included 8 x 2 min "fast" w/ 3 min EZ to wake up the body before Thursday's workout.

Thursday: Brick (bike + run)
Bike main set:
10 x 3 min Z4, 2 min Z3 low (Recover in IM watts) - loved this set!

Run off the bike
1 mile EZ (8:10), 1 min walk
Main set: 4 x 1 miles @ 7:30-7:40 min/mile pace w/ 1 min walk/rest in between
1 mile steady (8:10 min/mile)

Fri - 5000
Main set:
2 x 800's IM pace w/ 1 min rest
3 x 400's IM pace w/ 1 min rest
Hip/core work

Saturday: 3:37 bike (71 miles) + 1 hour run (7.2 miles)
Bike:
1 hour warm-up (building to 15 watts below IM pace)
Main set 4x's:
35 min at IM pace (my new pace is now 12 watts higher - yippe for training smarter, less is more) w/ 4 min EZ
(this set went by super fast and my body felt strong, no residual fatigue as the set went on. Sport nutrition liquid fueling was spot on (I don't do any solid foods in my training/racing) and haven't had any stomach distress with any of my IM training in many many years.)

Run off the bike:
6 x 1 miles @ interval of goal IM pace (the focus was to run faster than goal IM pace and then walk until the goal IM pace cycle was up. My goal IM pace is 8:30 so I was running comfortably 7:57-8 min/miles and then walking 30-35 sec in between. Great set, loved it! It got hard on the last mile as I was super hot and running out of my drinks in my two flasks.
10 min cool jog down (this felt sooo good to run 8:50 min/mile pace after that)


The other day while I was working in the hospital (I work PRN as an inpatient Clinical RD) I had a patient who was admitted for Jaundice and electrolyte imbalance. This patient was also diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia.

As we all know electrolytes are vital as our nerves, cardiac muscle and skeletal muscle all rely on them on a daily basis. They also help control pH balance in the blood and body fluids. Our electrolytes are best obtained from food but as we know as athletes, we also find them in sport drinks. Electrolytes are tightly controlled in body fluids (ex. plasma, blood and interstitial fluid) and must remain in specific concentrations or else serious medical conditions may arise.

Now as a clinical RD, it is appropriate for me to let everyone know that restricting food or purging food will lead to an electrolyte imbalance (among many other issues) and may cause further stress on the kidneys and heart. 

I'm sure we can all agree that restricting food for anyone is not recommended for we can put the body into a very serious situation of poor health as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

So why is it that so many athletes feel that they don't need sport nutrition during workouts? As if the body is just fine with water (or nothing) and that dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, organ failure and even cardiovascular issues are not likely because training for a sporting event means that you are immune from these issues. 

Seeing that the body can "shut" down to try to resume balance without adding exercising into the mix when a person voluntarily restricts food (for whatever reason), this is why I am very adamant about not only consuming a balanced diet for athletes and fitness enthusiasts and learning how to fuel the body for health and for fitness/performance but also supporting the body with sport nutrition during training- when the body is under the most physiological stress. Sure, you can argue with me about fat burning and that your body doesn't need it but how about training the body to need it and then training the body so that the body takes care of itself to get stronger and more efficient?

I've said it before but I fuel before every workout, during every workout and after every workout. I never sabotage my body by not fueling it properly, especially when I want it to perform as beautifully as possible during training in order to get stronger and to recover faster.

Here are a few of my recent creations to help you continue your quest of learning how to develop a healthy relationship with food as an athlete. Remember - food is for fuel, for health and for pleasure. 

Brown Rice
Frozen Veggies
Boca veggie "meat" crumbles
Frozen edamame
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese
topping: Sesame seeds
1. Microwave ingredients in bowl and top with sesame seeds.

Breakfast bread (nuts and dried fruit - Publix grocery store, made fresh daily)
Fresh fruit - raspberries, bananas
Greek yogurt (daily eats - 0% Fage)
Scrambled eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
Kale w/ olive oil (sauteed)

Roasted veggies - peppers, eggplant, onions (purple), mushrooms
Millet
Asparagus w/ garlic
Sunflower seeds
Goat cheese
Olive oil
Salt to taste
Marinara sauce
1. In 425 degree oven place veggies in large casserole and toss lightly in olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
2. Steam asparagus and then place in small casserole dish and top with chopped garlic and bake until golden brown (15 minutes).
3. Prepare millet (1/2 cup dry prepares 3 cups cooked) - 25-30 minutes
4. Place 1/2 - 1 cup millet in bowl and stir in marinara. Top with roasted veggies and asparagus and top with cheese and seeds. Season to taste.


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Pre training snack: flat bread cracker + peanut butter, banana slices, cinnamon and honey

1/2 cup oatmeal (dry)
Apples
Peaches
Raspberries
1 tbsp chia seeds
~10g whey protein powder
Almonds
Water (to meet consistency needs)
Raisins

I love supporting small businesses especially the bakers and bread makers at the farmers market. I went to the Bartram Farmers market on Thursday and as I was browsing the breads, many tables where trying to pitch me their treats/breads by what was not in the ingredients (sugar, salt, fat, gluten, etc). I guess they don't know my personal philosophy and what I am all about when it comes to eating for fuel, for health and for pleasure.
I decided on Hugo's muffins because I could tell he was truly passionate about his food and he knew I would feel great eating it.... And I did, gluten and all. C
heck out Hugo's story HERE!
YAY - Campy walks are the best!! The most looked forward part of my day (for both of us).
(Pampered shades from Oakley Women)



Kona IM training update + yummy creations

Marni Sumbal


Wow - 45 days until the big day!! I'm so excited for my 3rd opportunity to race in the Ironman World Championship and I am incredibly grateful to my body for allowing me to have some awesome workouts so quickly after recovering from Ironman Lake Placid (IM #6). 

Last week was very challenging but I allowed myself plenty of rest so that the weekly volume wasn't so high that my immune system, motivation and body would suffer. 

Sunday was a mentally and physically tough workout thanks to Coach Karel for reminding me that you don't get very far without hard work....and you have to get faster before you go longer. 

Saturday: AM 4 hour bike + 45 min run (average pace ~8:15-8:20 min/mile) (brick)
Bike Main set: 
4 x 30 min @ 10-15 watts higher than IM pace w/ 4 min EZ in between

Nothing like a 2 hour and 16 minute main set to keep my mind focused. 

Monday was a day off (+ hip/core work and stretching). 

Tuesday: AM 1:45 bike (trainer) + 6 mile run (+ 1/2 mile campy run) (brick)
Bike:
Main set 3x's:
5 min @ Z4 watts, 10 min Z3, 5 min Z4
5 min EZ spinning
(another mentally and physically tough workout!)

6 mile run off the bike:
First mile steady, perceived effort 7 out of 10. walk 1 minute.
Main set: 4 x 1 miles at sub 7:30 min/mile pace (Half IM pace) w/ good form w/ 1 min walk in between
(7:22, 7:21, 7:12, 7:18 min/mile)
Cool down + Campy run

Wednesday: AM 1 hour swim + 1 hour run (brick)
Swim: 3100 yards
Main set: (with 1 minute rest in between each set)
4 x 200's w/ 20 sec rest (IM effort)
4 x 100's w/ 10 sec rest (olympic distance effort)
4 x 50s w/ 5 sec rest (fast)
4  25's w/ 5 sec rest (fast)

Run:
20 min warm-up (walk as needed to keep good form, slow pace)
Main set (20-60 minutes):
3 min @ marathon goal pace, 2 min @ half marathon goal pace. Straddle treadmill 30 sec, keep repeating until 1 hour.
Total 7 miles with warm-up//cool down 
Stretching + light hip/core work


Body and mind feel healthy and happy. No signs of being run-down, overtrained or injured and I love the balance of training with life. Just enough training stress for my body to adapt but not too much that my life would feel overwhelming with the upcoming IM. I'm looking forward to a bike-only workout tomorrow, long swim on Friday and a solid 3-day weekend of training with focus on intensity and moderate volume (and day off Tues). My first "long" ride after Placid will not occur until Sept 7th and that will be 5 hours. 

I love to keep my body and brain fueled on a daily basis, in addition to fueling before, during and after EVERY workout that I do. No ifs, ands or butts about it...I love to fuel my body when it is under the most physiological stress as my body doesn't need  "extra" fuel when I am sitting around in the evening after dinner from 7-bed (~9;30/10pm) and it rarely asks for it because it received adequate fuel when I want it to adapt to get stronger, faster and healthier. There is no time during my day that I restrict myself from food so I am consciously aware of when my body needs it the most.

Nutty Fruity Oats

                                   
Peaches
Raspberries
Blueberries
Apples
Raisins
Walnuts
Cashews
Sunflower seeds
Almonds
Flax seeds
1/2 cup oats
Water (no milk at work)
Cinnamon
~10g whey protein powder
(I used a little of everything)

Homemade 90-second popcorn
1/3 kernels in a brown bag and fold over twice and pop for 75-90 seconds.


Cabbage, edamame and quinoa stir fry
Karel's mom's cabbage recipe (steamed cabbage with seasonings)
Edamame (bagged, frozen)
Stir fry - mushrooms, onions, garlic in olive oil with toasted quinoa
(My picture doesn't look that pretty but me an my belly enjoyed it so I wanted to share the wonderful mix of flavors and color). 



Warning: DO NOT EAT this little delicious ball of cuteness. 





Trail run, beach and Tacos

Marni Sumbal

When you own your own business, the weekends often get squeezed together with the weekdays as every day is a work day.

Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC works great for Campy because in his world, every day is a weekend!!


I'm really looking forward to speaking at Speaking Of Women's Health in Jacksonville on August 24th on behalf of the HeartWise for Women prevention program. I can't wait for my talk on "Keeping eating healthy, easy and delicious" and doing a cooking demo with Mai Oui Gourmet catering my talk.

I also have a talk this Sunday with two other GI MD's at Baptist Medical Center Beaches where we will all be discussing GI related diseases and how they affect the fitness enthusiast. My portion will be on fueling the individual who has a GI-related disease (Crohn's, stomach cancer, IBS, celiac). 


I wonder what they are dreaming about?
It's been a very busy two weeks since returning from Lake Placid but I wouldn't want it any other way. 

                            

This morning (after my 2500 form focused swim + hip/core work) around 7:40am, I prepped the set for my 8am hour TV segment with News4Jax on "Healthy budge-friendly lunches for kids". I will share the link via Facebook and blog when it is on the website. 

So for my last weekend of unstructured training....

A little girl time on bikes with my friend Heidi




A little mountain biking in Hanna Park for Karel (Sunday - 1 hour) after we slept in with no alarm. 9 beautiful hours of sleep and not working out until 9am.


And on Sunday, my 2nd run since Ironman Lake Placid, a 40 minute run on the trails (10 min run, 2 min walk after each trail segment). I was drenched in sweat and covered in spider webs and looking forward to wearing my new swim suit from Oakley Women. 

Love my unstoppable Oakley bag - perfect for a beach day with Karel to enjoy unstructured exercise before easing back into structured training. 





So on to more delicious news.....

Plant strong tacos

1 wrap
Veggie meat
Mixed greens
Onions
Broccoli
Mushrooms
Garlic
Lentils
Salsa
Cheese
Greek yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a casserole dish (small yet tall rectangle), spray lightly with non stick spray and place 1 cup (per person) veggie meat and 1 package sliced mushrooms (washed) w/ 2 cloves garlic chopped and 1/2 large onion chopped (thick slices) into the dish.
3. Steam broccoli and then cut into segments and place on top of mushroom mixture (the meat, mushrooms and onions will soak up a lot of flavor from the meat and the broccoli will be nicely roasted). Sprinkle with turmeric and a pinch of salt. See step #6.
4. After 20-25 minutes or until broccoli is a little brown, remove from oven (and turn off oven).
5. Remove broccoli from the top of the casserole dish and stir together meat with mushrooms, onions and garlic.
6. Prepare lentils according to package (I did a 1:3 ratio of lentils to water).
7. Place 1  warm wrap on a plate and spoon cooked lentils on the wrap. Add a little cheese (any kind - the real kind, not factory made cheese like fat-free) and a spoonful of salsa and then top with a big spoon of mushroom mixture and then with leafy greens. Close wrap and top with dallop of greek yogurt (not pictured as that would make my picture messy looking).
8. Serve with roasted broccoli and enjoy!



Homemade "chips" - toasted wrap at 375 degrees for 3-5 minutes each side (or until almost hard and slightly brown), then broken carefully into triangles (kinda) and drizzled with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. I bet cinnamon would be yummy on these too!

Fueling for an Ironman

Marni Sumbal

I believe that training and racing in an Ironman Triathlon is a gift. The more that I think about it, any time you challenge your body with an athletic goal, it is a very special thing. From 5K running to marathon running and any other sport that makes you happy. Your body is a gift that allows you to get stronger, faster and more skilled.

Therefore, the opportunity that many of us have to use our body for sports is something that should not be taken for granted. So rather than making training and racing your life, it is important to recognize that training and racing is your lifestyle. A lifestyle that is given to you because you are healthy and well enough to train and race in your sport of choice.

You can't out-train a poorly planned diet. If your body does not receive the necessary nutrients to stay in optimal health, there is no way that your body will perform and adapt during exercise like you desire.

So rather than spending all of your energy, time and money on sport nutrition products, training plans and expensive equipment, consider the power of food to fuel your active lifestyle.

In 6 days I will be doing my 6th Ironman. My diet has not changed throughout this IM journey from what I normally eat on a day-to-day basis without training for an Ironman. The only thing that changes with training is my sport nutrition as I always adjust what I eat/drink before, during and after training based on my workout load/volume and intensity. I always fuel my body before workouts, I always fuel during workouts and I always  fuel post workout but what and how I fuel differs depending on the training.

What never changes is my appreciation of real food to fuel my muscles, brain and body. It not only helps me prevent disease but it tastes good and leaves me satisfied and happy.

I wanted to use this blog to share a few of my recent creations that have been fueling my Ironman journey. Enjoy!

Baked pasta casserole
Cooked pasta and macaroni noodles
Mushrooms
Broccoli
Red bell pepper (sliced)
1 can tomato Parmesan soup
Cheddar cheese
Nutritional yeast  (~2 tbsp)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In casserole dish (rectangle) pour can of soup and add veggies. Cover with noodles (about 1/2 cup per person) and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
3. Slice a few pieces of cheddar brick cheese to place on the noodles and season with your choice of herbs/spices.
4. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until noodles are crispy. 


PB&J  morning eats
2 slices whole grain bread
Smuckers Natural PB
100% Fruit jam
Raisins, walnuts and honey
Greek yogurt plain (0% Chobani or Fage are my fav)
Fresh fruit



Fresh fruit and breakfast bread
2 slices bakery breakfast bread
Fresh fruit and plain yogurt

Roasted potatoes w/ mixed whole grains and veggies
White and sweet potatoes (sliced)
Mixed whole grains (cooked - I mixed brown rice, spelt berries and wild rice and cooked for about 90 minutes)
Tofu (firm)
Mushrooms
Red bell pepper
Frozen corn  
Sunflower oil 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on baking sheet and toss in about 1 tbsp oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and season to your liking with a little salt and rosemary.
2. In casserole dish, place veggies and tofu and bake until soft (they won't brown in the glass dish).


Eggplant lasagna
1 large eggplant - sliced
Marinara sauce
Firm tofu (crumbled before placing in dish)
Corn (from the cob, cooked and then sliced off)
Spinach
Garlic (chopped)
Shredded cheese
Nutritional yeast
Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In large casserole dish, light coat with a little olive oil before layering.
3. LAYERS: Eggplant, marinara, tofu, corn, spinach, garlic, nutritional yeast. Repeat. Then top with a little cheese.
4. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until eggplant is lightly brown and soft. 

Risotto with veggies and tofu
Corn (cooked)
Tofu (grilled on skillet in a little oil until brown)
Chives
Risotto (or jasmine/orzo)
Mushrooms (cooked)
Zucchini  (cooked)
Marinara
1. Combine in a bowl starting with the veggies and then top with a serving of rice. Mix together with marinara. 


Summer salad
Avocado
Mango
Carrots
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Almonds
Mixed leafy greens
Cranberries

Sweet and spicy tempeh w/ fruit
Tempeh
Quinoa
Broccoli
Peaches
Cherries
Olive oil

1. Grill tempeh on skillet on medium heat in a little olive oil.
2. Cook quinoa according to package (1:2 ratio of quinoa to water) while tempeh is cooking.
3. Slice fruit and steam broccoli. 


Summer veggies w/ quinoa
Beets  (fresh, cooked)
Tofu
Mushrooms
Onions
Sliced cheese
Red quinoa
Fresh basil
Corn on the cob
Hard boiled egg
Olive oil
1. Cook veggies and beets and tofu in large skill skillet on medium heat until soft.
2. Prepare quinoa while veggies are cooking.
3. Cook corn in microwave (husks removed) for 7-10 minutes or until cooked.
Season with your choice of seasonings. 

Garden-friendly dinner: Fueled by plants

Marni Sumbal

Do you live a busy lifestyle?
Do you stay active morning 'til night?
Do you have more on your plate than your mind can handle?
Do you need more hours in the day to tackle your never-ending to-do list?
Do you hate getting sick?
Do you love traveling?
Do you love pushing your body for fitness gains?
Do you love to compete in athletic events?
Do you love to use your brain?
Do you want to reduce your risk for disease/illness to live a quality-filled life?
Do you enjoy being spontaneous with your life?
Do you love your life, your family, your job, your friends, your children, your furry ones?

The only way you can function well in life is by having a functioning body and mind. You only have one place to live for the rest of your life and your body is your home so you have to take care of it. It is up to you to keep the foundation strong and to constantly tune-it-up to keep it in top-notch condition. You can ease up every now and then for what you do most of the time matters more than what you do occasionally.

There are many people who rely on a wake-up call to change dietary habits. There's nothing wrong with that for if life gives you a call to wake-up, consider yourself lucky that you have another chance at healthy living. For others, life doesn't seem worth it to change or change is just too hard, difficult and time-consuming.

Regardless of where you are in your life and your relationship with food and your body, find a way to make progress. No need to be perfect, just focus on yourself and what you can do to set yourself up for a better tomorrow.

For a plant-strong dinner to keep your immune system in optimal health, your muscles fueled, your GI tract happy and your brain thinking clearly, consider using your oven for an easy meal that needs little attention to prep. And the best part....it tastes great!!

Enjoy!


Roasted potatoes, grains and veggies


Whole grains of your choice - I used wild rice, barley and spelt berries (I made a big batch for leftovers)
Sliced mushrooms
Firm tofu (sliced)
Corn (frozen)
Red bell pepper (sliced)
1 extra large clove of garlic (thick slices, peeled)
White potato (large, sliced)
Sweet potato (large, sliced)
Sunflower oil
Spices of your liking - turmeric, salt (sprinkle), oregano, garlic
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cook grains according to package (it took me 1.5 hours to prep my grains so you may want to do this the day before or on the weekend and plan for leftovers).
3. On a large baking sheet, drizzle oil (about 1/2-1 tbsp) to lightly cover baking sheet and toss white potatoes (sliced) in the oil and sprinkle with spices. Add mushrooms and garlic (cover garlic slices in the mushrooms so the garlic doesn't burn on the sheet).
4. Repeat the same thing on separate baking sheet with oil, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and garlic.
5. In a casserole dish, drizzle a little oil and toss tofu, corn and peppers (the casserole dish will keep the veggies soft without browning but if you like them brown, you can cook them on another baking dish). 
6. Bake items prepared for steps #3-5 in oven with potatoes on bottom rack and casserole dish on the top.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown. 
Toppings (optional): greek yogurt for dipping, shredded cheese on potatoes, nuts/seeds for a crunch, greens for a bit more color, salsa for spice.


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 life....live 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. 

Nutrient-dense event-day creations

Marni Sumbal

Salads don't have to be boring unless this is your idea of a salad.



And certainly, you don't have to be the party-pooper if you bring a plant-strong meal to a holiday event. Certainly, there will be plenty of options to enjoy a little of everything and of course, I want you to enjoy your options and feel great about whatever you put into your body. But, perhaps, as you happily indulge in some occasional treats/eats, you may inspire others by your delicious, nutrient-dense creation.


Growing up as a competitive swimmer, I was never a salad eater and didn't really focus on eating a lot of veggies..... unless they were drenched in ranch dressing and covered with croutons and cheese.  And even though I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian at the age 10ish, my definition of plant-strong was "I don't eat meat"....so that meant, bring on the cheese and anything that doesn't have meat or fish in it!

Oh how times have changed. Still a competitive athlete but I have a great appreciation of how plant strong meals can give the human body a powerful dose of nutrients.

So, in honor of any event/party that you may be going to tomorrow or in the future, here are 3 of my many favorite plant strong creations for you to enjoy!

Have a great 4th of July and be safe.

Mango-kiwi fruit salad
3 kiwis (sliced)
1 mango (cubed)
10 baby carrots (chopped)
1 small apple (chopped)
1/4 cup grapes (halved)
1/2 large lemon juice (or small lemon) for dressing




To cut kiwi's:
1)Cut kiwi in half.
2) Use a spoon to remove skin from kiwi
3) Turn skin inside out.
4) Cut off the ends.





To cut mango:
1) Cut segments out around the core
2) Use a sharp knife to make a grid on mango segments.
3) Use your thumbs on skin-side to pop out the top of mango segment.
4) Cut off cubes with knife.






Carrot, Coconut and Raisin salad


1 bag pre-cut matchstick carrots
4 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tangerines (sliced, seeds removed) + juice
1 pear (chopped)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/2 lemon (juice)


Cucumber Tomato salad




1-2 large cucumber - halved then sliced again in half (I made it look extra pretty by scraping a fork on the outside of the cucumber before cutting it)
5 roma tomatoes - halved, then sliced again in half
2 ounces block mozzarella cheese - cut in small cubes
Pepper, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar
2 tbsp balsamic or any vinaigrette
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Swim set, podcast link and tri-colored quinoa w/ tempeh

Marni Sumbal

As I have mentioned several times, I just love the Ironman journey. This time around, sharing it with Karel has been extra special for we have both been able to see progress within each other and that is really neat to see. Karel continues to push me on the bike and in return I get the reply "great job, babe" as I smile every-so kindly to thank him for the suffering. But on the flip side, Karel has really worked hard on his swimming and I can't believe he just started swimming 1 year ago!! I have really enjoyed helping Karel learn to swim and to be there to witness his major swimming breakthroughs. Karel started very slow, working on form for he knew he had a year to train for the IM and there was no need to rush speed when form is the most important part of swimming efficiently. 

The issue for many triathletes who struggle with swimming is the exhaustion that comes from swimming. No matter how fast or slow in the water, how long or short, it is just exhausting and it's not the same kind of exhaustion that you get from pushing yourself during a run or bike set. Although swimming is non weight bearing, one would think it would require less energy to perform. However, any form of exercise increases your breathing rate and as you know, when you swim you do not have a lot of opportunities to breath (or to take in a full inhale and exhale). Seeing that swimming (like any exercise) increases your heart rate and your blood circulation in response to your effort/intensity, your lung capacity, the efficiency in which you take in oxygen and transfer it to blood vessels as well as your form/strength in the water to push past the water's resistance, determine how fast and how far you can swim.

Overtime, your respiratory system will get stronger and you will find your lungs working more efficiently to help you with exchange of gases (oxygen/carbon dioxide). Thus, before you get focused on being fast in the water, it is very important to work on your stroke and swimming effortlessly (as possible) so that you can train the body to perform with the least amount of energy expenditure. The speed will come, just be patient. 

I have been giving Karel swim sets for the past few months and they are really paying off. It is amazing that he is so strong in the water although he does get tired which is to be expected. But, he refuses to give up so he is in the pool 3 times a week working on his form and just being as comfortable as possible in the water. 

On Tuesday before our brick run (immediately after swim) we had a great swim set focusing on a little speed and then pacing. I am trying to help Karel learn how to tolerate lactic acid in the water but not exhausting him (which is what happened a few months ago when Karel would just do fast swims and we figured he wasn't doing any good with consistency for he was just exhausting himself for upcoming workouts). 

Here's the set we did: 
3000 yards

500 warm-up
Main set 3x's: 
3 x 100's fast w/ 15 sec rest (I did them on 1:30, Karel did them on 1:45)
300 steady IM pace (ideally, going the same pace as your cycle, about 15-20 seconds or so per 100 slower than your "fast" pace). 
50 EZ recovery before repeating (or rest 2-3 minutes)

500 pull stretching things out (w/ buoy/paddles)
100 cool down


On Wednesday I had the opportunity to do a podcast with Real Women on Health and Iron Girl and it was a lot of fun as I got to talk about my favorite topics......nutrition, fitness and health! Here is the 30 minute podcast for your listening pleasure if you want to hear my thoughts on eating for fuel, health and pleasure.




I made the most delicious creation the other night and I am so excited to share it with you. I visited wholefoods the other day to explore some new foods to add to our diet and I picked up tri-colored quinoa. Prepared the same as regular quinoa with a nice nutty taste. Speaking of nutty, Karel and I just love tempeh for its taste but it is also packed with protein. It can taste a little bland so I recommend cooking it in a little olive oil (cubed) or you can try to find flavored tempeh (just watch the added sodium). 

Enjoy!

Tri-colored quinoa stir fry
Asparagus
Sweet Peppers
Garlic
Mushrooms
Tempeh

1. In cooking pot, prepare quinoa 
2. In large skillet, turn to medium heat and add a little olive oil (~1-2 tsp per 3 ounces tempeh per person) and cook cubed tempeh until golden brown (toss occasionally). Season with a pinch of salt, turmeric and oregano (pepper optional). 
3. While tempeh is cooking, prepare asparagus by chopping off ends (1 inch) and microwave in shallow dish for 3 minutes until tender (maybe 4 minutes if needed). Then chop. 
4. When tempeh begins to turn golden, add ~1-2 tsp olive oil and add pepper and mushrooms. Toss and reduce heat to low and cover (may need to add a little cooking spray to prevent sticking) and toss occasionally. Let cook for 5-8 minutes or until soft but not browned. 
5. Add asparagus to pan, toss and cook for 1-2 more minutes and then turn off heat. 
6. Assemble plate with ~1/2 cup quinoa + veggie and tempeh mixture. Enjoy!

Sweet and spicy wraps

Marni Sumbal

I guess I should follow up with my previous blog topic when I discussed Karel feeling "off" on Tues. Well, after a massage on Tues and a meeting with his sport nutritionist/chef (aka ME), Karel was physically feeling much better after he got off work on Tues as his mind was never "off" and he still had motivation but just couldn't find that extra gear in his legs. After a great night of sleeping on Tuesday, he was looking forward to a perceived exertion mid-week "long" ride on Wednesday, followed by a short run (his day off from work since he works Saturday's). 

On Wednesday we left our place early in the morning for a 3 hour ride and as we neared 30 minutes, I knew something wasn't right.....Karel was feeling good. Actually, more than good. 

Not even looking at his power meter and simply going by perceived exertion, Karel was "dancing" on his peddles as I was thinking to myself.....wow, if I could only have a RPE ride averaging 22-23mph!

After ~3 hours and around 64-65 miles, we arrived back at home and he went for a 4 mile "go by feel" run...I walked Campy around the block.
I, on the other hand, did not have the day off work (not sure I ever do as a small business owner), as I needed to get to work (home office) and I was glad to skip a run off the bike because my body was not expecting Karel's "steady" pace on Wed. I suppose I secretly like it when Karel has "off" days but then again, I can't get faster and stronger if I am not being pushed. Thanks Karel for bouncing back as if you never had an "off" day.....my legs thank you for that ride. 


So to return the favor as I always do, I thanked Karel for letting me discover a new limit with my cycling by preparing a delicious "light" meal on Thursday evening. I took Thursday easy and only swam in the morning - although a 4800 and a great main set solo and then with Karel (I helped him pace 4 x 400's at his IM pace). 

After Karel got home from an evening 1:20 run on Thursday, I decided he needed something light on the stomach to ensure that he could refuel but still get a good night of rest. I made a smoothie earlier that morning so I froze ~16 ounces of it for Karel for the evening knowing he would be doing an evening workout. 

Dinner was super easy to prepare and deliciously tasty.

                          

 I loved the flavors of the spicy wrap and Karel yummed his way through the dessert wrap. I hope you enjoy and feel free to modify to create your own spicy and sweet wraps/ 




Mexican wrap
1 wrap
Mixed greens
Spreadable cheese (I used farmers cheese) - you can also use avocado, hummus or any spread
1 egg +1 egg white (scrambled with a dallop of greek yogurt) - I did this in the microwave, on intervals of 45 seconds, scrambling every 45 seconds with a fork. 
Black beans
Tomatoes
Green bell pepper

Dessert wrap1 wrap
Orange slices (you could do any fruit that you like to pair with chocolate - apples, pears, banana or pineapple would go great!)
Yogurt
2 dark chocolate hershey kisses (or any chocolate of your choosing) - melt chocolate (unwrapped) on wrap in microwave on plate for ~45-90 seconds until slightly melted. Quickly spread with knife before chocolate cools and gets clumpy.


(You can use any wrap of your choosing OR you can make your own "wrap" by using your favorite pancake recipe/batter and making it a light consistency by adding extra water and then cooking on skillet to make a very large, thin pancake)








Food trend - plant strong athlete

Marni Sumbal


If you are like most individuals, you are not surprised by the number of new, trendy, hip or cool foods on the market. From fresh to processed, our culture loves to eat trendy foods, companies love to profit it off of them and the media loves to talk about them. (perhaps I have reversed this timeline as the media has a major influence on how, what and why we eat). 

Coconut, kale, gluten-free, greek yogurt, juicing, quinoa. Just a few that come to mind when you think of the recent foods that are most talked about when discussing "healthy eating" or dieting. Anyone remember Olestra?

Did you know that there are over a dozen types of lettuces? I wrote a blog a while back on the many types of green leafy options that you can add to your current diet. 

How come the media isn't obsessing about Mâche, Mesclun or Mizuna and how come the grocery stores aren't carrying them for us to enjoy? 

When I work with individuals on the diet, specifically for performance or health purposes, it is very important to me that I treat each athlete/fitness enthusiast as an individual. But in our quick-fix society, it is so easy to want to be like the masses - do like others to receive the same results. 

In the past 20 years, I have "worked" on my diet to create a diet that gives me food freedom and peace with food. Comfort with my food choices without obsessing about calories or portions or food preparation. I have worked on mindful eating the most in that keeps me constantly in the moment when it comes to eating. I know how it feels to overeat and it doesn't feel good. So I don't do it. I don't get cravings or drops in blood sugar because I have tweaked my diet in a way that prevents these issues from happening. It may not work for others how I eat but my body is happy and my body is healthy. Why should I try to  follow a food trend or diet if I have created my own diet that allows me to function well in this world (and performance to the best of my ability during training/racing)? 

 At age 10-11, I decided to not eat meat for animal reasons and since then, I have learned how to eat as a healthy and active athlete/health conscious individual. I call myself a vegetarian because I don't and will never eat meat. It isn't a fad or a temporary trend. 

I know how to maintain my diet when traveling, eating on the road, eating at events and eating at home. I am always excited to better myself with my food choices, especially when it comes to bettering my health and performance but I am not "trying" new ways of eating as if I need to fix what is not broken. I have never fasted, cleansed or detoxed for my body never gets out of whack. 

I see nothing wrong with trying new things and tweaking the diet. Some styles of eating that are trendy (Ex. Mediterranean, vegetarian) actually come with a host of health benefits but that doesn't mean that you have to follow them strictly to still receive health benefits. That is how I work with others for I believe that learning how to create a healthy relationship with food is best mastered when you recognize what foods make YOU feel the best and enhance your lifestyle. Although adding kale and greek yogurt to your diet will not override other dietary choices, certainly there are many great foods out there that without the media, perhaps we would have never seen in the grocery store or recognized at farmers markets. 

When you think about the food trends in 2012, I am sure you have tried those foods or have adopted a diet that includes those foods (some or all). Nothing wrong with that as I hope that you are still working on your diet to support your individual needs and goals and not eating something temporary or for a quick-fix because the news, a celebrity, coach or nutrition guru told you that if you eat this, you will be "healthy". 

As I mentioned above, my plant-strong diet is with me for the rest of my life. It is not something that I will deviate from but instead, enjoy it as it helps me live an active lifestyle. But in the past 20 years, I have worked at it and I invite you to do the same for your own diet. 

Elimination diets are very trendy and I am not a fan. I feel that spending your energy on what not to eat is only going to set you up for failure and restriction in the diet and lack of flexibility with eating (especially around others). Banning food is not the way to go if you want to "be healthy" so instead, I invite you to think about what you aren't eating, possibly what you could be eating instead, as a way to create a positive relationship with food and perhaps, stop blaming the outcome or effect and instead, direct your positive energy to the missing link(s). 


I love writing about plant strong eating because not only do I practice what I preach in consuming a plant-strong diet for health and performance benefits but also, because we all need to do a great job, every day, of making sure we nourish our bodies with real food, mostly plants. If you feel you have "bad" food in the diet, perhaps you just don't have room for other foods (or not making room or the time to consume them) and it is within those other foods that you can make a positive impact on your health, mood, body and performance. It isn't as if one food is better than the other and certainly, no food is "bad" when consumed on occasional eats/treats but take some time - a few weeks at the minimum, to give a little thought to your diet to make sure that you are not "working" on your diet to be like others or to "fit-in" but instead, create a diet that works for you and is here to stay.

Is Plant-Strong "Healthy" for an Athlete? By Marni Sumbal

Healthy eating can be confusing when it's aimed to the masses. With many research-supported guidelines for "healthy" eating, a plant-strong diet is often celebrated as the most effective way to reduce risk for disease and manage a healthy weight. Although it is not required that you give yourself a dietary title as to what you don't eat, consider a variety of health promoting plant-strong foods to fuel and nourish your active lifestyle.

Protein is essential to assist in growth and repair of muscles, bones and tissues, keeps hair, skin and nails in good health, is helpful for the immune system and helps to keep the metabolism, digestion and brain in optimal health.

For most athletes, meeting recommendations for protein (1-1.5 g/kg/d) can easily be accomplished through a varied diet. To ensure a decrease in fat mass (and not lean muscle mass) if striving for weight loss/body composition changes, do not neglect quality, portioned controlled protein at meals, snacks and for workout recovery. 

For proper digestion and absorption, satiety and control of blood sugar with carbohydrates, all individuals should aim for around 20-30g of protein per meal and addition protein with workout recovery/daily snacks to meet your individual daily recommend protein intake.

Nutrition plays a major role in your training regime and the choice for a specific dietary regime (or any variation) should not sabotage your training plan. Because you can't out-train a poorly planned diet, your diet should keep you healthy, active and happy. If your eating today is restrictive based on how you ate yesterday, ditch the diet plan mentality. 

Maintain a healthy relationship with food and consider a more plant strong, balanced diet as you enjoy the creativity, freedom and flexibility that come with eating a variety of whole foods.

Meat or no meat, choose foods that are simple to prepare, convenient, safe, wholesome and pleasurable as you support your healthy lifestyle with consistent fitness/performance gains.

Here's a protein-rich, plant strong meal which has an extra bonus:  many valuable vitamins and minerals within this meal aside from protein!

1 cup mushrooms - 2 protein
2 cups cooked broccoli - 8g protein
1/2 cup farro - 4g protein
1/4 cup black beans - 3.5 g protein
3 ounce tofu - 7g protein
1 cup cherry tomatoes - 1g protein
1/2 cup peas - 3.5g protein
1/2 ounce pumpkin seeds - 2.5g protein
Total: 31.5g protein


Read more: Iron Girl

Body and mind stir-fry creation

Marni Sumbal

Fuel your body with real food because your body needs fuel to function, to thrive, to live, to be happy.

Don't watch the clock.

Don't say you're being bad.

Don't regret what you choose to put into your body.

Don't say you're cheating.

Don't worry/stress about what other people are doing, what others may think or what others may assume. Own your actions.

Feed your body throughout the day when your brain and body need energy.

As I was seeing and charting on patients today in the hospital today, I couldn't help but think (as I always do) about how grateful I am to have a body that is well, happy and healthy.

Every time you think about (or do) body bash or voluntarily restrict food that can be used for fuel or for health, consider reframing your thoughts.

That same body that you think is fat, ugly or gross or just messed up or failed you, is the same body that you push to cross finishing lines, wakes you up in the morning to take care of your family, helps you have a productive day of work to pay the bills and is where you will live for the rest of your life.

 
Body and mind stir fry
 
Cubed pre-cooked potatoes (you can buy frozen, in bag or slice fresh and then microwave for 2-3 minutes until soft)
Cubed firm tofu
Red bell pepper
Sliced mushrooms
Garlic
Peas
Pistachios
Peanuts
Dark leafy greens
Salsa
Olive oil
Herbs/spices

1. In a large skillet, heat to medium heat and place potatoes, tofu, pepper, mushrooms, sliced garlic and peas in the skillet with 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Add 2 tbsp of water and cover for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking).
2. When veggies are slightly brown and soft, add a spoonful or two of salsa and then ~1/8 cup mixed nuts (pistachios and peanuts).
3. Season with your choice of seasonings - a pinch of salt, pepper, turmeric, oregano.
4. Prepare a Tupperware container (if bringing to work for lunch) or shallow dish with a large handful of leafy greens and top with the veggie creation.

Key Ironman bike workout + mental training

Marni Sumbal

I came across this article the other day and it really struck me with a big ?????

I believe that any athlete who signs up for an Ironman should physically prepare the body to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. As to the "best" approach to getting to race day, well there are many schools of thoughts to this so I thought I'd briefly share my approach.

Karel has been coaching me for the past few years with my training. I have yet to be burnt out or not arrive to a race hungry to race. I feel I have progressed a lot in the past few years with speed and endurance and most importantly, I always have fun.

I realize that my body has it's limiters with my hip issues relating to my spine and a lifetime of back-issues but I also recognize how to train smart. It doesn't always work out as I'd like since I am a competitor and love to push my body to higher limits but in the past few years, with every down moment that I have experienced with my body, I have only become a stronger and smarter athlete. Thus, my injuries have not been setbacks but rather enhancers.

My approach to training myself and my athletes is simple. Keep things balance. Be patient, keep your mind focused on the journey and never lose sight of your goals. I understand sport nutrition so I feel my training is only enhanced in that aspect but no amount of nutrition will help me train consistently well if my training is not balanced and specific.

I use a lot of tools when I train such as HR, garmin, power meter (910XT Garmin and Garmin 500 bike computer) but as we all know, it is only on race day that your trusted gadget will fail you...never in training!

The whole focus of training is to make progress and to not let your end goal keep you from enjoying the journey. I have taught myself (as an age group athlete who has been fortunate enough to have a body that has gotten me to Kona twice and finishing 5 Ironman's) how to recognize great workouts and how to adjust any workout to ensure it will become a great workout. In other words - completing my assigned workouts means that I understand that what is ahead of me is within my limits. Although many variables such as stress, sleep and nutrition can affect my performance (controllables), I know that each workout on my plan has a purpose. A purpose that the workout is allowing me to make progress. Many athletes are so stuck on the end result that they lose sight of the journey, worry about things out of their control and also push too hard (or not enough) and often question if they are making performance gains. I suppose little progress gains are often hard to "see" but then again, who says that you have to use times/speed as the marker of improving fitness?

My approach to Ironman training is that of quality. There are no Ironman days as I don't want to be training all day in the sun on the weekend and I want to save my best performance for race day. I don't need to prove to myself or on social media that I can swim, bike and run this many hours or miles each week but instead, prove to myself that I have made progress with the workout to set me up for a stronger and faster tomorrow.

Many of my Ironman and half Ironman bike workouts (over the past 3 years) have been relatively "short". Most of my Ironman rides are around 3:5 - 5 hours and most of my half Ironman rides are around 2.5 - 3 hours. The key is the learning how to pace yourself on the bike to get "faster" as an Ironman athlete but also to become more efficient and to run steady off the bike. Thus - I do A LOT of brick runs with each run having a purpose.

With 7 weeks left until Ironman Lake Placid, I really loved today's brick workout given to me by my hubby, coach, bike mechanic and training buddy.

3.5 hour ride + 30 min run - 4 hour KEY Ironman workout

Bike:
15 minute warm-up
5 x 2 min leg openers (100+ cadence rpm)  w/ 2 min EZ
Main set: (I was drafting behind Karel so as he stuck to his zones, my zones were a tad higher than they needed to be but still doable - drafting behind Karel makes me stronger and it has really helped my cycling. I enjoy going "fast" behind Karel as I can't do his speeds alone but I understand that drafting properly keeps me in my proper zones as Karel is extremely consistent so I enjoy the bonus of covering more miles behind him as I prepare myself for my own race day effort. All zones are power based zones determined by a 2 x 20 min max sustainable power effort w/ 2 min EZ in between)

10 min Z4 low w/ 2 min EZ
15 min upper Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
10 min Z4 low w/  2 min EZ
20 min mid - upper Z3 w/ 2 min EZ
5 min recovery
35 min group ride (this effort was low to mid Z4)
5 min EZ
5 x 2 min (high cadence) w/ 2 min EZ
5 min cool down, transition to run.
Total: 73 miles, 3 hours and 31 minutes
(If training with power and/or HR on the bike and you have your zones set-up in proper endurance zones, you should be racing your endurance race in upper Z2 - Mid Z3, typically low Z3 for most athletes. If you want to get faster, you have to train smarter so that by race day, your low Z3 is "faster" than where you were when you started your endurance specific training. As for running in an Ironman - don't get caught up in paces. Used perceived exertion as much as possible while monitoring the HR and walk to help keep good form and to be steady with pacing).

Run:
4 x 1 miles w/ 10 sec walk in between
(I often walk with my IM training in most workouts as it helps me reduce gradual fatigue, it helps me better tolerate nutrition, it helps me control my HR the best I can and it helps me keep good form to reduce risk for injury. I may walk anywhere from 10-60 seconds depending on the workout and although 10 sec is brief and often I wish I could walk longer, it serves the purpose of helping me have a quality workout as I help simulate aid station walks for IM race day).
Mile 1: 7:51
Mile 2: 7:48
Mile 3: 7:51
Mile 4: 7:47
(around 10-13 second walk in between)
Total 4 miles, 32:28, average pace 8:07 min/mile (with ~40-60 seconds of walking)

Should you still do a Key "LONG" workout like a 100 mile ride + 2 mile run or even a 112 mile ride + 10-15 minute run? Yes. Those will be coming for Karel and I in a few weeks. BUT, if you can't do 3.5-4 hours of quality riding + a steady "short" run off the bike, what makes you think that your body is "Trained" to ride 100 miles, weekend after weekend? Those short IM intensity focused bricks will pay off when it is time for the long workouts. Remember - save your best performance for race day. Don't waste your time with junk miles just getting the miles in..make those miles count. And if you can prove to yourself that you can do it in training, trust yourself that you can do it on race day. Don't be a super hero in training and not be able to execute on race day.

After stretching and cooling off with Karel and enjoying a little watermelon and recovery drink (before Karel headed to work today), I had to stop by the Trek Beach store for Karel and when I finally arrived home, it was time to officially refuel!

 
Do you enjoy thanking your body for a great workout with delicious food prepared from home?
Today's creation:
An Omelet with tomatoes, arugula and goat cheese with oregano and rosemary. Rye bread with fruit jam and plain Greek Fage yogurt with fresh cherries and a drizzle of honey.
 
 
If you are wrapped up in the idea that Ironman (or endurance) training has to involve a lot and a lot of miles, how about thinking about other areas in your life that can make a positive impact on your training and racing. Certainly, we all know that even with the best preparation, there can be a variable or two on race day that can count you out from putting all that hard training to the test. Certainly - your mind and nutrition are two important components of training and racing that can help take your fitness to the next level..likely more so than in any long workout for without the right mental focus, pacing strategy and nutrition plan, there's really no point in putting your body through all that long and hard training if you are not equipped properly to handle that training stress (mentally and physically).
 
As you know, I work with my friend, Licensed Psychologist Gloria (Psy. D) on my mental training as she is an experienced mental coach and sport psychologist.
 
Here is a great video to show you the importance of mental training for fitness/performance. Even if you aren't racing or training, I recommend watching this video as it has a few helpful slides on how your mind can either enhance or limit you in terms of reaching your personal goals in life.
 

Endurance swim set and tofu pistachio stir-fry

Marni Sumbal



What a beautiful meal to fuel my body last night!

For the tofu, spritz your pan on medium heat with olive or sunflower oil. Cube firm tofu and cook until golden brown, tossing lightly occasionally to prevent sticking. Season with turmeric and rosemary and a pinch of salt.

My meal creation also included arugula, mixed greens, red bell pepper, tomatoes, pistachios and brown rice.

To make this your own creation:
Choose your leafy greens
Choose 2-4 types of veggies (or fruit/veggie)
Choose your type of protein ~20 grams (you can have a mix of protein)
Choose your type of whole grain or starch (ex. potatoes, noodles)
Choose your type of nut/seed
Top with your choice of dressing, oil or salsa


 
 
Ironman-focused Endurance set:
1650 warm-up - nice and steady.
150 backstroke - EZ/recovery
Pre-set: 10 x 100's w/ paddles and buoy w/ 10 seconds rest (I did them on 1:35) - 80% effort, focus on reaching and catching the water.
150 backstroke - EZ/recovery
Main set: 5 x 300's broken
(150 @ IM pace, rest 5 seconds. 150 @ half IM pace - the focus is on pacing yourself) w/ 30 sec rest ( I did these on ~4:50)
500 with paddles - breathing every 3 strokes, nice and steady.
50 cool down backstroke
Total: 5000 yards

Fueling oatmeal creation, wild rice side dish and pre-race dinner

Marni Sumbal

 
While at our friends house (Stefanie and Kenny Swanger) from Thursday evening until Saturday (for our race - which I will be writing our race report soon), we enjoyed lots of delicious food creations. Seeing that Stefanie has been a long-time nutrition and coaching athlete, and Kenny is an amazing cook, we are always incredibly spoiled in our belly's when we go to visit them for a race in Georgia.
 
To start off the morning before a pre-ride warm-up on the Rock N' Rollman race course, we both enjoyed a delicious oatmeal creation. Stefanie and Kenny set up their kitchen like an oatmeal buffet with all the fixings on the counter and us to create something delicious.
 
I measured out 40grams of oatmeal on their scale (150 calories) to ensure I was getting enough to meet my needs for the morning. I then added 1/2 large banana (sliced) + 3 large strawberries (sliced) and a little each of cinnamon, PB2 (chocolate kind - delicious) and ground flax seeds. I mixed it with milk and just a tad of water and voila - a delicious Trimarni creation. I added some of my homemade trail mix granola (granola + peanuts and sunflower seeds) on top for a little cold crunch on the warm oatmeal. My belly was super happy and it did what it needed to do - it keep me satisfied and fueled for the morning activities.
 
On Wednesday, I made a trip to Whole Foods to buy several items from bulk (nuts, seeds, granola) for our trip to Macon and as usual, I just love buying whole grains and coming up with a delicious creation for them. The wild rice really caught my eye as it was so beautiful in it's unrefined form. I LOVE wild rice because it has a great nutty taste to it and mixes well in stir fry's or on top of a salad.
 
 
Since I was planning to fill our bodies with medicine (salad) that evening as the main part of our meal, I decided to do the rice as a side dish, combined with steamed  broccoli and veggie crumbles and after it was prepared, I topped it with a little asiago cheese. If you are trying to make dietary changes, I encourage you to not try to eliminate food...especially food that can be beneficial to your workout routine and overall health. Wild rice is a good source of carbohydrates to help keep your body energized and without added sodium or preservatives or food coloring, you can't go wrong with this type of carb. It contains protein and dietary fiber to help keep you satisfied. You will never find yourself "missing" out on anything while having a salad as the main part of your meal for having a side dish of whole grains is the best compliment to create a balanced meal - instead of making the "carb" or starch the main part of the meal, which often leads to people blaming "carbs" and starches for weight gain due to oversized portions.  Wild rice also contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B9 as well as iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium. No need to pop pills when you can get your vitamins and minerals from real food. Plus, I absolutely love cheese that is so tasteful that you only need a little to be satisfied. Asiago cheese does just that as you can't eat a lot of it at once for it has just enough salt taste to cure your cravings and it is so delicious that you have no choice but to savor a little of it.
For cooking rice, you want to first rinse the rice. Generally, the ratio is 1 cup of rice + 3 cups of water. Boil the rice over high heat. Once the water level drops and the rice is visible, turn the heat to low and allow the rice to steam for 30 to 45 minutes. I usually keep my rice covered while cooking.

For serving sizes as a side dish, I recommend 1/2 - 1 cup of rice + ~1/2 cup veggie crumbles (or around 2 ounces protein of your choice) + broccoli (your choice of amount)  + 2 thin slices of asiago cheese.
 
For our pre race dinner at the Swangers, we kept it light and simple. Easy to digest, delicious and the right balance to keep us fueled for race day (Especially with a 4am wake up call).
 
 
When I work with athletes on race week/day nutrition as well as sport nutrition for training, it's important that I recognize that every athlete is different. We all train for different events at different intensities and our bodies are unlike our training buddies. Nerves, stress and sleep can all affect appetite and your relationship with food and individual fitness needs can also affect your dietary choices. Therefore, although the science is there in terms of how to eat before a race, I don't believe that there is a cause and effect - one size fits all (especially when research is often in a controlled setting) with how you eat before a race and how you will perform on race day. There are things to reduce (fat/fiber) as well as emphasize (carbs with a little protein) but in terms of what you choose to eat, this will always vary. My pre-race, happy tummy meal always includes a sweet potato and veggies and a little protein. I do bread and rice as well on the day before the race if it is available.
 
Kenny prepared chicken for Karel as well as all the other items on my plate. It was so absolutely delicious!

-Sautéed asparagus and mushrooms with sesame seeds (thinking back, every time I Have had asparagus before a race, I have done very well - perhaps my new good-luck food :).
-Hard boiled egg and cottage cheese - for protein.
-Salad with bell peppers and avocado with a little shredded cheese - topped with balsamic and olive oil.
-Sweet potato with cinnamon and a little butter.
-Sliced potatoes (Karel isn't a sweet potato lover like me so he typically does white potato or rice pre-race but I am happy to enjoy both).
 
I finished the dinner satisfied, around 6:30pm and felt energized and ready for a good night sleep before the race.
 

Czech trip Day 7 and 8: Happy vegetarian athlete - running, castles, hiking, wine, food, cycling, shopping

Marni Sumbal

I love waking up in the morning, excited to start the day. I find myself this way every day but in Czech, it is an adventure everyday!

The sun rises rather early in Czech and with no AC in the flat, we often wake up to the birds chirping outside of the open windows and the sun as our alarm clock. Regardless if we sleep to 8 or 5am, it all looks the same. We woke up around 6am which was usual for us and after our morning cup of fabulous coffee, along with some trigger point therapy (rolling on the ball) and active stretching/dynamic warming up, we were off for a 6-mile tour around Znojmo. I guess this was a workout as we were running but with Karel as my amazing tour guide, it was hard to think of this as a workout but instead, the best way to sight-see in a new country. Despite doing a morning run of around 2-4 miles every day since arriving to Czech, we had yet to cover the same route twice in Znojmo. Similar paths but always something new to see. I just couldn't take my eyes off the sights as Karel had me running on a trail, in a forest, on paths, by gardens, on cobblestones. Each place was familiar to Karel, new to me. 6 miles later, we were back at home for a yummy breakfast and then we got ourselves ready to officially start the day.

The day prior we had biked to see a castle that Karel was taken me to the next day. Well, today was the day and we were so happy that both Karel's mom and dad would be joining us.

After a 20 minute or so drive down the road, we parked at a parking lot and made a steep walk (about 1/2 mile) to the top of the hill to visit Vranov nad Dyjí which is a chateaux in the South Moravian region of Czech Republic,which lies on the Dyje (Thaya) river, 3 km north from the Austrian border close to Hardegg. We took a tour of the castle and Karel was my translator for the tour. The rooms were magnificent and so much beauty within each part of the castle. We had to put on slippers over our shoes and you could just smell the history.

After our tour, we hiked back down the steep road to the car and then headed back to Karel's mom's house (after dropping off his dad at his home a mile from his mom's) for lunch. A delicious lunch as usual.

After resting for an hour or so, we got ourselves ready to  meet with Karel's best friend and his girlfriend and their doggy (YIPPE) to tour an underground wine cellar and taste award winning wines. This was an amazing experience for me and although it was cold underground with mold everywhere (perfect humidity for wine), the tasting room was cozy and the wine was amazing! Although I do not drink very much (only wine as beer is not to my liking), I really enjoyed sampling all the white wines which were fantastic.

After our tour, we left with a few bottles of wine that were given to us and headed down the road for a hike with an amazing look-out point. One thing I must add is that this trip has been very special for me but it makes things so much better to have locals (including Karel) as my tour guides. Everything has run so smoothly and I feel like I am at home in another country.

The hike was amazing, with vineyards everywhere and a look out point that takes your breath away. Life just gets really good when I am outside as I just love connecting with nature.

After our hike, we had worked up an appetite as it was nearing 6:30pm (sun still shinning). We went back to Karel's mom's house to clean up and then we all met down the road to walk to the restaurant. Not a new trend as all we did in town was walk which was fantastic seeing that we love to use our bodies as much as possible.

As much as I was loving all the new foods that were served to me in Czech, Karel and I both thought it would be fun to check out something special in Czech that would make me extra happy - a vegetarian restaurant! I found Na Věčnosti online from Happycow.net which is a great website to locate vegetarian/vegan/healthy places to eat while traveling. I absolutely love trying new foods and when I have over a dozen selections to choose from on a menu, I am one happy plant strong athlete :)

Karel was also excited as he loves trying new things and will eat anything so it was nice to have some company with Karel's best friend and Girlfriend to join us for a very new experience. You can read more about our vegetarian dining experience with this link: Na Věčnosti.

After dinner, we chatted a bit more and walked around town and nearing 9:45pm, we made our way back to Karel's mom's house for a good night of rest.

The next morning we had a bike ride on the schedule but that was all! We laughed on Day 7 that for Wednesday, it would be our first unplanned, planned day. Every day was filled with something to do so we decided that for our last full day in Znojmo before heading to Prague, we would enjoy ourselves with a bike ride and then shopping around town to buy gifts for our friends and family and of course, lots of chocolate and coffee for us.

We woke up around 7am and although our first day of not running since arriving to Czech, we were both excited to just ride this day. We had a light breakfast to hold us over for our morning ride and then walked a mile to Karel's dad's house to get our bikes. No need to drive when the roads are made for walking.

We got our bikes and biked a mile or so down the road to the bike shop and picked up Karel's friend's who were joining us for a fun ride in Austria. Little did I know, my skills would be tested again on cobblestones in the town and then descending on switchbacks in Austria. Climbing is no thing for me - I just wish I never had to descend! But thankfully, Karel always gives me pointers and he knows my saying "I'd rather be a chicken than a dead duck." He knows I take my time and although hot brakes at times, I am getting much better at my descending with switchbacks. Karel makes it look so easy just flying down the hills/mountains but then again, after riding in his home, I see why he is so good at cycling. When you grow up in Europe, you have no choice but to learn good cycling skills.

Our bike ride was fantastic today. We left around 9:45 from the bike shop and although only around 35 miles, our 2.5 hours of riding and a few short picture stops was amazing. I am just having so much fun on my bike here in Czech - I fell in love with Karel on our bikes and now I am falling in love with another country on my bike. So many priceless memories.

After riding some long climbs and riding in Austria, crossing over to Czech, seeing the Iron Curtain (which brought back a lot of memories for Karel - he recalls when he was first allowed in Austria, he and his buddies couldn't wait to cycle on different roads) and riding in very gusty winds all the way back to town.

After our ride, it was early afternoon so we showered up at his dad's and then grabbed a coffee and a pastry for refueling, stopped by the bike shop to say good bye to his friend and left with more wine and a new local jersey for myself. People are so generous in Czech - we left with way too much alcohol (Karel says that's not a bad thing and thankfully - nothing broke on the way home).

We finally had some lunch and then rested about 45 minutes before heading out to see more sights (walking) and to shop around for some gifts for us and our family/friends. We finished the evening with a delicious meal and then Karel joined a few of his friends for one last beer at the pub. I decided to stay in as I wanted to give Karel a break from translating so he could just enjoy his time with his friends and just speak Czech. I caught up with my mom and Campy on Skype which was a nice way for me to end my evening.

I stayed up until Karel came home around 9pm and then we were off to bed soon after for we were excited and sad to pack up and head to Prague for day 9 and 10. Wow - I can't believe how time flies....only two more days until we have to return to the USA. Thankfully - I get to bring home lots of memories, pictures and an appreciation for a lifestyle that I have grown to love and hope to continue inspire others to live back in the states.

Czech trip: Vegetarian restaurant

Marni Sumbal


 

As a vegetarian athlete, I find meal planning very easy and fun as I have a variety of fresh and whole foods to enjoy on a daily basis to keep me fueled, nourished and satisfied. But there's nothing more exciting to me than being inspired by new plant strong creations and enoying those creations with others. I'm grateful that I have a very open-minded hubby who loves to eat and is always open to good, fresh food. He knows that between us two, the only thing that differs is that I don't eat meat or fish. So in other words, there is a lot for us to enjoy together and I rarely feel "left out" at meal time. Sometimes, I have to get a little creative when eating outside the home so you can imagine, when a vegetarian restaurant is within my reach, Karel is excited to share it with me. There are not too many times when I am stumped as to what to order from the menu AND I can taste whatever Karel is eating as well.
 After a busy day of touring a castle, walking around town, visiting a wine cellar and taking a hike to an amazing look out point, Karel and I (and his best bud and cycling teammate growing up along with his girlfriend) enjoyed a delicious, satisfying and amazing meal at a vegetarian restaurant in Czech.
I found Na Věčnosti from the Happy Cow website and the reviews were great.
 
 
 Karel and I both thought it would be special to try this restaurant as we have been loving all of the local food here but this would be an extra treat for me and for all four of us!  I am happy about last evening so I wanted to share it with all my plant-strong lovers.
 

(yay - there was a menu in English!)


                                          




 












My dish! Couscous with dried plums and tofu with ginger, nuts and raisins


Karel's dish: Robi medallion with mushrooms in creamy sauce with potatoes (OMG - so delicious!)

 

Halusky with sheep cheese and roasted onions (girlfriend of Karel's friends' dish)

Karel's friends' dish: Creamy risotto in wine, saffron, capers and parmesan cheese

 
Dessert: Fresh rye bread (which I am LOVING here!) with Zlato Cheese - with hot pickled peppers, ketchup, jam and mustard

CzechTrip Day 3: Austria, pastries, coffee and cycling

Marni Sumbal



 
 

You know that feeling in a workout when you think to yourself “It can’t get any better than that”, well, I am finding myself “wowing” my way through this trip. I hesitate using the word “vacation” because Karel and I aren’t use to vacationing Sitting around on the beach or being catered to at a resort is not our style....honestly, we'd be bored after a few hours
When we travel, it is typically for an event or race and we don't do well sitting around. Thus, every time we pack our bags for something, it is for a purpose and often includes some type of movement (or is related to our jobs which involve activity/fitness). This trip has many purposes but I am enjoying my time here in Czech making memories but also learning about a new culture that allows me to bring home new ways to live life as well as an appreciation of what I have back at home. With my blog posts and pictures, I only hope that I can inspire others to get comfortable being uncomfortable by trying new things and being open to new opportunities. I realize that traveling abroad is not for everyone and may not be practical for everyone (costs, timing, logistics, etc.) but I feel that many people take for granted the many opportunities they have in their own current life but just feel “stuck” either in a bubble of familiarity and fear change or are scared to make any changes and the “what if’s” keep you bored, stressed and overwhelmed in your current life.
This is my third trip abroad and although my last two trips were a while back in 2004 and 1995 to Philippines and Japan, respectively, I find myself constantly enjoying learning from others...particularly, the lifestyle.

Aside from the 7th day Adventists  and the Mediterranean style diet (which research consistently shows, long term, that both show high rates of quality of life and low risk for disease and improved health status by following a vegetarian or plant based diet), I've learned from those who live a high paced, wealthy lifestyle and from those who take bucket showers and have no electricity and seeing that each country may have staple foods and/or certain thoughts on exercise/fitness/sports, every village, town and city differs in terms of quality of life. Thus, to assume that there is one right way to live is absolutely wrong as it isn't about a right way of being healthy but rather, making sure your lifestyle makes you happy.


So, here is the blog post that was very hard to summarize for there were way too many wow’s and not enough brain power to put it all into words. Again, thank goodness for iPhones and photos to keep memories current and fresh.

Once again, the sun was shining early and I found myself awake at 5:20am thinking it was 9am. I was able to lay back down for a little but then around 6am I woke up to the smell of fresh European coffee.

Karel and I started our morning with a cup of coffee and headed out for a quick 2 mile run on new roads (for me) in Czech. For both Karel and myself, we love to stay active and exercise is a very important to both of us for both physical and mental benefits. But as I have repeated many times in my blog and in articles, you don’t have to be a triathlete or marathon runner to be “healthy”. I am a firm believer that you should get your heart rate up, don’t be afraid to sweat and don’t feel as if you have to conquer x-minutes, x-workouts, x-days a week. Just move whenever you can for however long feels “right.” I absolutely love our morning runs because 20-30 minutes of sight-seeing is the perfect way to start the day as it is only the beginning of a jam-packed day.

Throughout our morning run and breakfast (which was a simple meal of local yogurt, fresh fruit, egg and bread/pastries and water) Karel continued with stories of when he was growing up in Znojmo. I guess you could say that Karel is taking a lot of “runs” down memory lane.

After breakfast Karel and his dad had to run some personal errands so I joined along for the “experience” of living a day-to-day life in Czech.  Since we were in town for the errands, we stayed busy on our feet walking everywhere (which is typical for people in Znojmo as parking is tight, gas is pricey and streets are narrow and it is much easier to just walk/bike everywhere. Plus, since everyone buys local and fresh foods are so popular, most grocery stores are within walking distance so people just shop daily for small items as not many would buy packaged bread here or expect  fresh food to last a week). We visited a beautiful church as well as two of Karel’s old bike shops. It is so great to see people remember Karel as soon as they see him and although I can’t understand anything, I know they ‘re catching up and sharing great stories.

After the bike shop, it was time for a mid morning treat. Seeing that we have not snacked between meals since we have arrived in Czech, I was super excited for this opportunity to have a real espresso in Europe with a real pastry. Because I have relied on Karel to order everything for me (much easier than having him translate everything for me), he ordered me a delicious walnut pastry as well as 3 other pastries for us to share. I laughed at Karel when he told me that he would always pass a bakery on his way home from school when he was young and he would always get pastries before he came home. Now I know why my hubby has such a big sweet tooth! Although it may look like we are “treating” ourselves a lot, we have yet to feel gross or guilty after eating anything and although no scale and we aren’t very concerned with weight gain, neither one of us feel as if we have gained any weight. We do not ever use words like "I'm being bad, I shouldn't be doing this or I feel fat" as I don't believe those are beneficial words in a balanced lifestyle. Of course, we can not bring home this lifestyle to the US because it just wouldn’t work in our sedentary, fast paced society. As hard as I try to help others live a more balanced active and healthy lifestyle (and feel more confident doing so, thanks to this trip), I realize that what works in one country may not be ideal in another. In addition to the food here being prepared with fresh ingredients and not loaded with salt, high fructose corn syrup (Karel says they don't use it in processed food here that he knows of) and sugar, we are extremely active here just moving all the time. Whereas in America, for many of us, we seem to spend most of our day sitting and only get up to go and eat (often eating quickly or continuing our day while eating).
Here in Czeh, it is nice to sit down to eat with family/friends after walking around all day. Also, there is something to be said about the quality of food here. I have yet to put a preservative, food dye or artificial ingredient in my body since arriving to Europe (although I have food with me, I have not had any protein powder, KIND and Hammer bars or other “emergency” food from home for I have not felt like I needed it), food tastes so good that you don’t have to eat a lot of it to be satisfied…much different than in America where you think food tastes good and you can’t stop eating. Here in Europe, it’s hard to overeat for the food is just more delicious and meal time is a slow time. I have yet to see anyone eat in their car or behind a computer screen (although I am sure people do, but unlike America, it is not the norm). It’s really hard to explain the living and eating style here, especially because many people in America have such an unhealthy relationship with food and the body. I have a blog to write in the near future as I talked with Karel's niece about "diets" here in Czech as well as some other questions that I had in terms of the "lifestyle" here and relationship with food and the body and I found it all very interesting. To sum up one of her statements after I asked her what she thought about American culture (relating to food/bodies) after her recent trip to Miami and then a cruise, she said that yes, there are big Americans but also, way too many "skinny" Americans. When I asked her to describe "skinny" she basically described the body that I feel many athletic individuals are trying to achieve - toned, lean and not curvy. To her, it looked unhealthy.
Everything in the US from body image (too big to too small) and diets (from good food to bad/off-limit food) is so extreme and for some reason, we have this perception of what is “healthy” in terms of body image and diet (although the diet component changes daily, it seems) and thus, I feel our society is so far removed from a balanced lifestyle. People want to be healthy but they aren’t happy and their idea of "healthy" is not always a true defnition of health. Although I have been very adventurous in trying new things and being extremely “free” here, I don’t feel as if I am living a different life from what I try to do at home in Florida. I am so happy that I came to Czech with a strong relationship with food and a good one with my body that I am only continuing my balanced lifestyle rather than being shocked at any one thing here. It is a great feeling knowing that I can travel outside of my comfort zone in the US and still maintain my definition of a healthy and active lifestyle.
The only thing that is different here is that it IS the “norm” here to live a life of happiness, love and good, real food. Food is slow cooked, not fast. It is real, not processed. I do miss a few of my staple foods that I feel are healthy in my diet like nuts, seeds, tofu, lentils, peanut butter, beans and whole grains but I am functioning just fine here in Czech while maintaining my meat-free lifestyle (and Karel is enjoying his meat options here and enjoying the lifestyle just as much as me. Well, maybe a bit more since it has been many years for him to have enjoyed his mom's cooking). Sure, Karel and I are athletes and our bodies take care of themselves  because we “train” more than we “exercise” but if I have learned anything in the 3 short days that we have been here, it is that American’s waste so much energy on wanting to change the outcomes of unhealthy lifestyle choices when instead, it is not one food (or food group)  that needs to be eliminated but instead the overall lifestyle is what needs to be addressed. If you don't make time to cook real foods, you are only going to find yourself blaming carbs for weight gain for the rest of your life. It's not carbs, dairy or bread...it's the lifestyle and I can attest for that as I have eaten a diet here that tastes great and much of it is not my typical diet....but, I feel great, have not seen any negative change in body composition, both Karel and I have repeatedly said we feel very "clean" inside and we feel energized and satisfied. Let's not forget that a balanced lifestyle includes good sleep, stress management, slowing down to enjoy life, spending time with friends/family (and wanting to take care of others) and of course, real food…not too much, just enough to enjoy it, feel fueled and nourished and feel satisfied. It's not gluten-free, paleo or these others diets that Karel's niece had never heard of, but instead, it's the lifestyle of moving your body and feeling good about the food you put into your body (and not worrying about what others are doing or not doing).

 Sorry - I digress.

After our morning adventure, Karel and I went to his mom’s to change quickly for we were about to take a bike ride to Austria!!!

Karel’s old cycling buddy, Jirka, invited us for a ride on his “lunch break” since many of the business shut down for lunch. Another one of Jirka’s friends joined us and I was thrilled that he could speak a little English.

So excited for a bike ride of a lifetime, we rode ~10K and crossed the Austria border! It was around 12:30pm when we started but I’ve completely lost track of time here in Czech as Karel is keeping me incredibly busy and on my toes (love it!). And I thought Czech was beautiful, the scenery in Austria was gorgeous! I just couldn’t believe my eyes and I couldn’t stop taking pictures while riding. I am happy that my bike handling skills have improved over the years for this ride offered many new experiences for me such as riding through small towns with small roads and cars zipping buy (although they don’t seem to mind cyclists), signs which I couldn’t understand and thus had no idea where we were going, riding on cobblestones and riding on a few rollers (Very smooth roads outside of the towns).

When we arrived to Retz, Austria we took a few pics and then, why not…let’s have a cappuccino! Coffee drinking is much different than in America..it’s not coffee, it’s the culture of drinking coffee. Seeing that I normally have 1-2 cups a day (before and after my morning workout or in the morning), I don’t ever do “energy” drinks or afternoon coffee pick-me-ups. But here, there are no paper cups or weak coffee beans that require loads of sugar and sweeteners to provide flavor. It’s 2-3 ounces of strong coffee that must be consumed slowly and it is hard to not enjoy it. Of course, I am use to this because I have lived with a European in America for the past 6.5 years so it is something that I welcomed but had not yet appreciated until I came to Europe.

After coffee, we headed up a climb on cobblestones (nervous at first but I did just fine thanks to Karel giving me pointers as to not ride slow as I needed to keep my momentum riding up the climb) and then up a windy, smooth road to see a beautiful windmill on the top of a hill which overlooked the city. Talk about a priceless opportunity in life while doing what Karel and I love to do….and how we met, on our bikes!

After a few more pics, we climbed a bit more and then had  a fast, fun descend on a smooth open two lane road back to Retz and then we made our way back to Znojmo. Although the total ride was around 25 miles and the way there was rather casual, the guys picked it up on the way back and with the wind blowing strong in the open fields, I had a nice workout on the way home by drafting with the guys pulling away.

After the ride, it was nearing 2:45pm and we had yet to eat lunch so to no surprise, Karel’s mom had lunch ready for us (from earlier since we missed it)…fried cheese and homemade mashed potatoes! Karel had been telling me about the Smažak for a while and it reminded me of mozzarella sticks…but of course, so much better as it was prepared by Karel’s mom and served in the perfect portion as I could have eaten so much more but Karel and I always eat until we are satisfied (in other words, we could eat a few more bites but we stop before). And here in Czech, Karel keeps reminding me you don’t want to eat until you are full because you never know when someone will have more food for you J What a great thought as many people eat until they have eaten one too many bites and thus, feel uncomfortable and regret that last bite (or 5).

We rested for about an hour and then Karel’s niece (from his sister who passed away in 2001) and her husband came over to take us to a trip to Vienna!!

All new news to me, I was so super excited when she told me where we were going in the car. It was ~80K to Vienna from Karel’s home and when we pulled off the interstate to downtown Vienna, I “wow’d” once again. Oh wow – so beautiful!! You could just feel the history between the buildings and on the streets. Oh and those streets were super bike/runner friendly (and in-line skating). We had coffee at one of the most famous café’s in Vienna called Landtmann along with a pre dinner dessert. The atmosphere was amazing with people just socializing after work, drinking coffee, enjoying a small dessert, reading newspapers and just enjoying talking to one another (minimal cell phone use). After a once in a lifetime experience in Vienna, we drove around the city before heading to another small city about 80K away for dinner. Karel’s niece is a vegetarian as well and she was excited to take me to my first restaurant meal in Czech….well, not exactly a Czech meal.

The restaurant Schickh was in Austria so the menu was in German and the waitress also spoke German (and a little English). Nothing new, I relied on others to choose for me as Karel’s niece Jitka read the German menu, translated Czech to Karel (she also speaks English but it was much easier for Karel to find something for me as he knows what I like to eat and also he knows what I may like to try for something new) who then told me what I would be eating. Talk about a new experience on a whole new level!!

For starters, the beautiful bread basket came and seeing that it was around 8:15pm, we welcomed the variety of fresh bread along with the fresh veggies and chive dip that also came with the bread. We also got a bottle of white wine to share. For appetizers, I had a salad w/ fried goat cheese and Karel had a steak Tatar plate. For our entrée, the chef prepared a vegetarian item just for me which included boiled potatoes w/ parsley (no salt added by the chef, I didn’t even have to worry about salty potatoes as he didn’t even feel the need to salt them) along with a full plate of a variety of roasted veggies tossed in olive oil. Karel said that I never have to feel the need to finish my plate and you don’t ask for a “doggy bag” and it is OK to not finish your meal. I wasn’t able to finish my meal so I ate until I was satisfied and I felt really great after I finished (albeit, very tired from a long, busy day). Karel, no surprise, had Schnitzel with potatoes and he loved every bit of it.

As I mentioned before, it was a wow-type of day. All new to me and lots of memories made in Czech (and Austria). I am learning so much about the culture and I am so grateful that I have Karel as my tour guide and that we are staying with Karel’s family. I feel my life has already been changed from this trip and I can’t wait to get back to “work” (Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition) and to change more lifestyles when I return home from Europe. Although I have never been one to read “diet, fitness and health” books written by guru’s and professionals but instead get my knowledge from research and textbooks, I can honestly say that a lot can be said from the experiences you get by living a lifestyle in another country, learning from the locals and addressing the pros and cons in another country in relation to your own. Sometimes you have to be willing to make a change to feel a change and often, those changes can’t be read in a book but instead, through life experiences.
 
Stay tuned for pics from Day 3 as well as a recap of Day 4: traveling to Karel's brother's house in Příbor, CZ , checking out Stramberk and eating LOTS of awesome, delicious, fresh food!
 
Thanks for reading and enjoying the pics on Facebook. I'm happy we can share this journey with everyone in hopes that you can be inspired to live a more balanced healthy and active lifestyle.


Happy vegetarian anniversary to me!

Marni Sumbal



A 2009 article by Harvard Health Publications did a really nice job of summarizing the benefits of becoming a vegetarian.  

"People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources. Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses."

Articles like this pop up all the time and likely you have read them and have learned about the many benefits of eating a more plant strong diet. If you are a regular reader of my blog or facebook page, you have seen plenty of plant strong creations that have been enjoyed by me and my hubby to fuel our active lifestyle (feel free to google trimarni and a food of your choice and likely many pics will come up on the images page to get your mouth watering).

But this month is a special month for me and to keep with my philosophy, I am here to motivate, educate and inspire you to live a more balanced active and healthy lifestyle. Not to tell you to be like me.

Because it is not my job to tell you what diet to follow (or what not to eat) on this blog, especially if I know nothing about you and your personal health, fitness and diet history or goals, I hope that I can only inspire you to adopt a diet, lifestyle and activity routine that makes you happy.



                     


If you know just a little about me, you know how much I love Campy. If you know me well, you know how much I love animals. And if you know me really, really, really well, you know that I became a vegetarian long before it was "cool" to be "meat-free or plant-strong" because I love all kinds of animals and creatures.

I can't believe that 20 years ago I decided to stop eating meat because I didn't want to kill animals anymore. At the young age of 10 years old, it was sometime in April that I came home from school and told my parents that I was not going to eat meat "ever again". Although my parents thought that it was just a phase or a temporary radical decision with my stubborn adolescent personality, it was only a matter of time that my parents recognized that at 10 years old, I made up my mind that I was going to live a great active life without eating meat or fish and haven't consumed either (not even a bite) in twenty years.

It took almost a decade to learn how to eat like a healthy vegetarian and that a diet of Dr. Pepper, Cheeze-it's and Bagel Bites was not going to ensure a long and healthy life. Although my competitive swimming lifestyle kept me looking healthy on the outside, I'm not sure if I could have faked that diet throughout collage and onward.

It was early in my collage years that I began to educate myself on making a few tweaks in my diet to be a "healthy" vegetarian but I struggled at times with my diet as it was not providing the right nutrients in the right quantities to fuel my active lifestyle.

So, I went back to the books and began educating myself some more on how to eat for fuel as a vegetarian athlete. There wasn't one or two key books that I read that helped me out but rather, it was my entire formal education (bachelor and master degrees) that allowed me to put the pieces together as to how to understand the physiology of the body during exercise.

Once I put the pieces together for eating for fuel, I began to see performance gains as I progressed with endurance sports. This started a great phase in my life of appreciating food for fuel and this hasn't gone away.

But, as a lover of education, I craved more knowledge.


A Master of Science in Exercise Physiology wasn't enough........

To think that my entire life has been molded around food and exercise, likely all starting from a decision at 10 years old to not eat meat and to learn how to eat for fuel and for health, is really incredible. It's funny how our life is a journey and at times it looks like it has dead ends and many twists and turns, all the pieces can come together as long as we are passionate for the things we want and do in life.

So I suppose that the RD credential was the icing on the cake as now I feel all the pieces are together in my yummy puzzle of appreciating food for fuel and for health.

                                       

Because the learning will never stop and research will always tell us something new and exciting, I am excited to share 20 years of being a plant-strong athlete with you and I hope that you are able to appreciate your individual diet and exercise routine, knowing that the choices you make, make your lifestyle. And if you are happy you are healthy and if you are healthy you are happy.

                       

Here's to 20 years with a body fueled by plants!!