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

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

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Filtering by Category: "food"

Hello from Lake Placid!!

Marni Sumbal

Race to travel. Travel to race.

Karel and I absolutely love seeing new places and making memories together. Since we both live a very active lifestyle, the combination of traveling and racing works very nicely for us for it allows us to see new sights in a very active way.

Lake Placid was a race that we decided to do last year around June. Karel was seeking a new challenge after spending most of his teenage - adult life training and racing cycling, with the past few years as a cat 1 cyclist. Karel jumped in the water last May for his first swim "workout" and after working hard in the water for a few weeks, he was ready for his first ever triathlon in mid July. Never did I ask Karel to do a triathlon, let alone an Ironman for I believe that with two active individuals being married, they don't have to have similar passions but instead, excitement for similar lifestyles. But one day, Karel said he wanted to train for an Ironman and knowing that it would take a while, he set his eyes on a June/July race for the following year ('13) so that he could train for an entire year, primarily learning the skills of triathlon. After tossing around a few ideas, we narrowed down our choices based on logistics, timing, weather and terrain and Ironman Lake Placid was on the top of our list. We both seek challenging, hilly courses and IM Lake Placid was not going to disappoint us based on what we new about the race. Additionally, we really enjoy visiting places where the town comes together to support the Ironman. Knowing that not every town is in favor of having 2500+ athletes take-over 140.6 miles, it is very special to be in a place that thrives off the Ironman weekend.

Lake Placid it was........our first Ironman together.

It was a long day of traveling, starting with a 3:45am wake-up call to drive 2 hours to Orlando (much cheaper flights in Orlando vs Jax). Before we even left Orlando to head to La Guardia, I received a message on my phone from Delta that we would have a delay in NY before heading to Vermont. So our 5 total hours of getting from Orlando to Vermont turned into 7.5 hours. Then, we had to take a ferry from Vermont to New York and I choose the longest ferry which took an hour. But we just missed the 4:10pm ferry so we had to wait until 5:30pm - which was the last one! We killed time by heading to the local grocery store for some groceries for the morning and before we knew it we were driving on board the ferry for a very beautiful trip to NY. I enjoyed a salad from Moe's which made my tummy happy. After arriving to NY, we traveling about 1 hour and 10 minutes to Lake Placid which put us to our rental cottage around 8pm. But despite all the delays and mistakes with my travel arrangements, it was an absolutely beautiful welcome to get to Lake Placid and we purposely drove on the bike course to our cottage (3 miles from the race venue on River Drive) to check out the course. Beautiful, challenging, tough.

We went to bed just before 9pm as we were both exhausted from the day. But up early without an alarm at 6am to get the coffee going w/ a small snack before we met Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G and her bf Duran for a swim at mirror lake.

Karel and I didn't have our wetsuits because they were packed with our gear bag with Tri Bike Transport and I was really worried that the 43 morning temps would freeze me from a morning swim. Laura let me borrow her speed suit and Karel wore a tri suit and actually, the swim felt great (albeit a tiny bit chilly but nothing that would keep me from swimming 1.2 miles in mirror lake). It was really nice to get the blood flowing as I am itching to push hard and release my contained energy but doing nothing will only get me tight and unfocused.

After warming up back in the cottage, it was time for a real meal, followed by check-in, expo exploring and grocery shopping. So grateful for Laura being a local (grew up playing hockey around Placid but now lives in NC) as she was an excellent tour guide, driving us around and explaining the course to us (which was an added bonus since I have been reviewing her training files on training peaks for the past 2 weeks since she has been staying up here with her family).

After a light lunch, we picked up our bikes at Tri Bike Transport and Karel put on our pedals and we were ready for a ride with Laura as our tour guide.

Karel and I needed to do a little climbing to wake up our legs as it is always a shock for the body to climb, especially when you don't do it for a while (or regularly). We rode the last part of the course by heading down the last climb to Wilmington to then head back up as if we were actually on the course (2 loop course). We rode from Wilmington towards whiteface mountain on Route 86 for around 11 miles of climbing, a few rollers and not a lot of flat. This course is extremely challenging and race day calls for a big chance for rain so this course certainly requires a lot of patience and love for mother nature. All-in-all, I love this course already!

After the ride, it was nearing 5:30 pm by the time we cleaned up so Karel and I each made some dinner and the rest of the evening was relaxing.

We are looking forward to a very easy workout in the morning with a very short swim in the lake at 7:30am followed by a 45ish minute "flat" ride on river road (well- as flat as you can get around here with a few rollers).

The pictures speak louder than words and I hope you can enjoy Lake Placid via my photos for we are absolutely loving it here!

(Karel's eats)

Ironman prep- long run + yummy berry-licious pancakes (recipe)

Marni Sumbal

After my quality brick workout on Saturday and my normal post workout recovery routine (recovery drink, stretching, foam rolling on my bac, Epson salt bath/shower, 110% Play Harder gear, food and then trigger point, I rested briefly after a nice long Campy walk and then I had to attend to "work" duties for Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC while Karel was working at Trek. After a delicious dinner last night, we both were ready for bed around 9pm as our eyes were sleepy and the body was begging for rest. Have I ever mentioned that Campy is a professional sleeper?
Without an alarm, we both got up around 5:30am this morning as I guess our bodies were ready to start the day.
For the training this am - tempo bike + long run. With the run being the primary focus of the run today.
Seeing that I am gradually progressing back with my running, I am very careful to not do too much too soon. However, I have noticed that with all my hip strengthening work, I find myself running with better form than ever before. It's as if my glutes are finally working and my back is finally liking me again. Crazy as it seems - my body always seems to function the best when I train for an Ironman...short distance, speed events - not so much.
Considering that the Ironman distance is all about putting together the pieces of swim bike and run into an endurance event, I do not do many "long" runs. The longest I have ever ran in training for an Ironman has been 2:45 as I feel it is better to go by time than by miles. However, I find that 16-17 miles is a good distance to aim for and to get comfortable with in training for an Ironman and to really get comfortable running off the bike. I do most of my runs off the bike because it works for my body to get warmed up on the bike. I don't feel that every Ironman athlete needs to bike before every run but it is good to run off every bike - even if it is for 5 minutes (and it can be  a walk, not always a run).
Because my long runs are typically off the bike, I believe that running steady is better than running fast for an Ironman. In years past, I have always tried to focus on a goal time for the marathon in the IM and I tried to simulate that in training. Well, oddly enough - I've never been even close to running that time in the Ironman. I've managed to run 3-sub 4 hour marathons off the bike in Ironman's but always running the pace of a 3:30-3:40 marathon in training. Anyone can teach themselves how to run fast or a certain pace in training but off the bike - well, that's a whole other story. For me, I run better off the bike (not always faster) so I prefer to run a long run at a steady pace.....not slow, but steady. I will always do intervals in my long runs but I am focused on my running being efficient. Thus, I can run continuous if I want but that doesn't always give me a quality week of training with an efficient body, the following week. Thus, every long run has the purpose of making sure I am able to run off the bike in an Ironman and most importantly, arrive to the race hungry and not injured, to race.  I have been keeping check of my HR in training and also on my form for I know if either of those two get off, so does my pace. Of course, the best IM runs come after a bike that has been paced well so it is important to recognize that in order to run strong off the bike (or run/walk as I will do on race day) you have to be able to put together a training plan that allows for endurance fitness gains over time. You do not want to overkill yourself with a 20 week (or even 10 week) Ironman plan with long, slow junk miles. Make your workouts count and you will be able to put that training to good use on race day.
1:15 bike
20 min warm-up
5 x 2 min leg openers (high cadence) w/ 2 min EZ
Main set: 30 min IM pace (low Z3 watts)
5 min cool down
Transition to run
Long run: 11 miles
Total time: 1:36 (average pace 8:34 min/mile - which includes my walk breaks)
The focus was to keep my HR as close to 130-145 as I could and to hold around 8:30 min/miles. There are a few faster splits because I was imagining myself on race day and I guess I got excited so I had to dial it back. Also, I ran two bridges (up and down) which was helpful for controlling my form and HR. I was running from 9am - 10:30am so it was getting very hot and humid but my body does well in the heat (not ideal as it isn't the fun type of suffering like pushing in cooler weather) so keeping my HR in check as I stayed in a steady pace was the goal for the long run.
(BTW - this is my longest run since January. What a great feeling to be able to thank my body for this run, especially after I wasn't able to run for 3 months from Feb - April. THANK YOU BODY!)

After each mile, I walked 10-13 seconds after my garmin autolapped the mile and then I hit lap to restart another mile.
On my garmin 910xt, I have my garmin set to see the following on my interval screen when I run which helps me pace myself:
Lap time      Current pace
Lap pace      Lap HR
Mile 1: 8:26 min/mile, 120 bpm
Mile 2: 8:22 min/mile, 129 bpm
Mile 3: 8:34 min/mile, 134 bpm (the intercoastal bridge is ~.68 miles from one side to the other)
Mile 4: 8:34 min/mile, 137 bpm (back up the bridge again for ~.68 miles)
Mile 5: 8:27 min/mile, 139 bpm
Mile 6: 8:25 min/mile, 144 bpm
Mile 7: 8:19 min/mile, 146 bpm (got excited thinking about the IM!)
Refilled my flasks with water/sport drink - 2 minute break at most. I had a total of ~250 calories for my run, consuming gel or sport drink, a little every mile and then water/sport drink as needed - I am never strict on when I drink/take in calories - if my body needs it, I take it but no more than every 15 min on the bike or 1 mile on the run)
Mile 8: 8:27 min/mile, 142 bpm
Mile 9: 8:25 min/mile, 146 bpm
Mile 10: 8:23 min/mile, 147 bpm
Mile 11: 8:14 min/mile, 148 bpm (got super excited....allowed myself to go for it)
 After cooling off and stretching before getting into my car to drive home from Nocattee (where I love to train), Karel and I exchanged training stories from our morning bricks and we were both quick to get to the freezer for our 110% ice pads.
While we iced, I made some berry-licious rye pancakes. They came out really good as I put together this creation without looking at any recipes.
1/2 cup rye flour (you can use any flour)
1/3 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
3 large strawberries - chopped
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. unsweetened coconut shreds
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2-3 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
Makes 7, 1/4 cup wet batter pancakes.
1) Mix together ingredients.
2) Heat your skillet to medium heat (or a tad below) and drizzle with olive oil. Pour 1/4 cup serving of batter on to skillet and press down lightly with back of measuring cup to make a flatter pancake. 
3) Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side and flip when bottom of pancake is firm. cook other side for 2-3 minutes.

I can't believe this is my 6th time training for an Ironman! I am so grateful to my body for allowing me to do this. I absolutely love the journey of training for an Ironman and I never get wrapped up in the end result. I realize that competing in an Ironman is a gift and I am the first to say that the human body does not have to allow "us" to train for anything and push our bodies to higher limits. With everything that I have been through over the past 7 years since I have started racing in Ironmans, I can honestly say that it never gets easier when you keep raising your limits. However, it is always fun, I never get burnt out and I wake up super excited and motivated to see what my body is capable of for that day.

Happy training, exercising and healthy living!



VIP Oakley Progression session: DALLAS FORT WORTH

Marni Sumbal

Not even a week after returning from Czech Republic, it was time to do a light re-pack for a quick trip to Dallas for the last event with Oakley Women and Shape Magazine. San Diego and Boulder were amazing and I couldn't wait to meet 200 more inspiring women who are passionate about health and fitness. After coming back from Europe, I had a bit more material to add to my talk of my 7 top tips for healthy balanced living and couldn't wait to speak and hand out my delicious Trimarni balls.
What I love so much about these events is a place for women of all ages and sizes to get together and to have one special thing in common - each lady loves to move and use her body. There has been so much positive energy at these events and I couldn't wait get one more dose of it in Dallas Fort Worth.
But first, I was asked to teach a workout on the beach (Atlantic beach) behind Ocean One resort to a group of Lens Crafters employees on behalf of Oakley. The workout was great as I had everyone sweating at 8:15 in the morning with a beautiful view in sight to keep everyone happy that they were outside and not sitting in a conference room.

Thanks Oakley Women and Lens Crafters for having me!


After a great brick workout on Thursday morning, it was time to head to the JAX airport. Knowing that I was arriving to DFW around 1:30pm and getting picked up with a group at the massive airport, I had plenty of snacks and a PB&J sandwich to keep me satisfied and fueled for my direct flight to Dallas as well as until I arrived at the hotel. We finally arrived to the hotel around 3:30pm and we were all in need of a mini meal to hold us over until dinner which was at 7pm. We headed to the hotel restaurant and we all got delicious salads that we each modified with either egg (me) or avocado. It was delicious!

(FYI - I always try to have yogurt on a daily basis, about 4-6 ounces a day, in addition to up to 1 cup skim milk. When I travel, I try to bring yogurt with me and I have never had trouble with security and having it in my carry-on. Just a FYI in case you are interested in traveling with yogurt. Just don't forget to get a spoon!)

Soon enough, it was time to head to downtown Fort Worth to eat at a touristy restaurant with a group of 18 (Shape Magazine, Oakley Women and ambassadors). The restaurant was a steakhouse and I was hoping for some corn on the cob, brown rice and sweet potato but no options available and no vegetarian chef-inspired options. No worries - I enjoyed a delicious airy bread roll and then enjoyed a large filling salad and the most delicious baked potato with toppings on the side. I left the restaurant very satisfied and was excited to wake up in the morning for a 6.5 mile interval run on the treadmill and then a full day on my feet outside, speaking to 200 amazing ladies.

After a delicious buffett breakfast of  milk, fruit, oatmeal, cottage cheese, and a veggie stuffed omelet it was time to head to the park/field for an amazing day of fun!!

The event included yoga with Lacey, my nutrition workshop, social media learning, lunch from a food truck (YUM!) and interviews to be the next Oakley Women ambassador. The event kick-started with a tough bootcamp with Carrie and Cari. My friends Michelle Lovitt and Sarah Dussault were also attending the event to help others better understand fitness and social media.
Here are a few pics from Instagram - I LOVE instagram and connecting with others, just like with facebook. It's so great to be inspired by others and to associate yourself with like-minded individuals. To stay connected, you can link with me #trimarni on Instagram or @Trimarnicoach on Twitter and Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition on facebook. For Oakley Women, use #Oakleywomen. Enjoy the pics from some amazing women!

Congrats to Laila for being the next Oakley Women ambassador!!!

(Shape Magazine Diva dash)

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 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 Day 6: From Pribor to Znojmo. more cycling, food and beer

Marni Sumbal

After a quick morning run with Karel (around 4 miles) in the misty rain but on a great paved road, we cleaned up, enjoyed another delicious breakfast in Czech of eggs, mixed veggies, fresh yogurt w/ dried apples (homemade) and muesli, and a slice of bread with homemade cheese spread and Karel and I packed up to head back to Znojmo. It was sad to say good bye to his brothers family but we were looking forward to our last week in Znojmo as Karel still had so much more on our unplanned to do list. I can not believe how time is just flying by!

After our 2.5 hour drive (a bit faster than before due to beautiful weather!) we were back in Znojmo and Karel's mom had a delicious meal waiting for us (Slovakian-inspired) along with several desserts (she said she was in a baking mood the night before). All these treats are exciting but Karel and I typically share any treat that we are offered. There are certainly times for occasional treats but each time should be enjoyed and if you treat yourself day after day, it becomes less and less special. Certainly I do not feel like we are restricting ourselves from anything that is special here and can be consumed with enjoyment but we are not eating anything and everything just because we are in Czech. We have turned down a few treats and second helpings only because we are satisfied from a meal and I feel that is the most appropriate time to say no thank you as oppose to fearing food for calories, fat, sugar, salt, etc. I am really enjoying the fact that I can enjoy this city with Karel and we have both kept our great relationship with food here in Czech. We always feel better after we eat, than before. Just like at home in Florida, no low blood sugar levels, stomach issues, hunger pains, intense cravings, headaches or anything else that many people accept as normal when trying to eat "health"...we have lots of energy all day, sleep well, wake up rested and never use the words guilty, off limit, restricted, cleanse, detox, bad or any other popular fad diet word that brings attention to a style of eating that appeals to the masses.

After we rested for an hour, we headed over to Karel's dad's place to get our bikes from his basement and headed out for an awesome ride in Czech. Karel knows these roads like he road them yesterday for each ride we ride somewhere new, see beautiful scenery and Karel tells me stories of when he was racing/training here in Czech. We are not training here in Czech so we have no schedule or specific miles-time that we have to accomplish everyday. We are not exercising to "burn" calories so we can eat pastries or not feel guilty when eating. We are just enjoying our time here being active, which we love to do with our fueled bodies.

This ride was amazing because we rode in straight headwind and sidewind to a castle and well-worth the brutal conditions heading out there. There was a chill in the air so it was rather chilly while descending to the castle so we only went half way because the rain was coming. We took a pic and then, my favorite part - began climbing again to head back home. We had the most helpful tailwind coming back and we were flying! Karel extended our ride a little to show me some special scenery spots and then it was time to head back to his dad's to clean up.

We walked to Karel's first bike shop and first job to meet with his first boss. Since leaving Czech, Karel's boss turned the basement of the bike shop into a wine cellar where he has received many awards for his wines. We tasted a few wines (with white wine being very popular here due to the seasons and the production of white grapes) and then enjoyed the most amazing pizza ever. Karel told me that the pizza in Czech was out of this world and as a big lover of local pizza, I was so excited to try it! On the side, we had pizza dough (cooked) w/ garlic which was amazing as well. Wow - totally in love with the pizza here and after a long day, I was so happy about our early evening eats.

Since Karel hadn't seen all of his friends yet in Znojmo, Karel arranged a get-together at a pub (of course) for his old cycling teammates to get together and catch up. It was a bit overwhelming for Karel for he wasn't able to translate everything to me but that is ok - several of the guys had their dogs there which is a great thing for me as there are doggies everywhere in Czech so I get lots of doggy love (and it doesn't matter what language they speak) :)It has been very hard for Karel but I know he is gaining a lot more brain cells to extend his longevity as his brain is on 100% of the time, translatting for me all day. Sometimes he forgets to switch and talks English to others but overall, he is doing a very great job as my translator.

As Karel enjoyed a glass (or 3) of beer following our wine tasting, we ordered a light "dinner" at the pub since we had just had pizza. I had a delicious salad w/ a baguette and goat cheese with black walnuts (delicious!) and Karel had a steak tatar plate.

It was a late evening but a great one! Afterward, we walked home (a big trend which I am loving here - we walk miles and miles everyday, especially to and from eating) and it was time for a great night of sleep to begin another fun-filled day.

Stay tuned for Day 7: a run around Znojmo, touring a castle and an underground wine cellar, hiking and eating at the vegetarian restaurant.

Change can be good

Marni Sumbal

When I work with athletes and fitness enthusiasts during my lifestyle service (2 month program) it is my goal that by the end of our time together, the individual has a new or improved tool set to live a more balanced healthy and active lifestyle. It is not my job to tell a person how to live, eat or train/exercise as I don’t feel there is one best way of living. Certainly, there a tremendous amount of long-term research as to the most appropriate ways of living a healthy life but we are not a controlled science experiment in a laboratory and we all have different ways of describing a quality filled life. Although I feel many people have an impractical definition of a quality filled life, I believe that most people would like to live a disease-free, active lifestyle with a healthy body and mind. So, it is my hope that I can continue to inspire, educate and motivate others to live a lifestyle that feels balanced and moves you closer to personal life, diet and exercise related goals.

On the detailed questionnaire that I ask each individual to fill out for the 2 month program (additional questionnaires for each of my services) one of the questions is “
what are you least looking forward to during our time together?”

I sometimes receive the response “NOTHING! Can’t wait to get started” but generally I get the response of “I am afraid to give up my favorite foods” or “I am afraid of failing” or “I’m not good with change”.

Because I understand that we don’t go to visit the doctor when we are feeling 100%, but instead, pay  money for a professional opinion/advice when we need help and want to feel better, I welcome all responses. Because of that, I also ask the question of on a scale of 1-10, how motivated/excited are you to make changes for a more balanced lifestyle? Certainly, a person who is afraid to give up favorite foods but let’s me know that they are a 10 on the motivation/excitement scale, allows me to recognize that they are open to change. However, if someone ranks their excitement as 4, I know that the journey may move slowly and that is still OK. It’s all about making progress and moving forward as one of the most frustrating things in life for us all is wanting a change but being afraid to change and thus, finding yourself staying the same or worse, moving backward.

This has all been on my mind here in Czech because as I try new food creations and live a lifestyle that is out of my control, I am a firm believer that we can all change and change is not always as bad as we may think it may be. We can change our outlooks, our moods, our dietary choices/cravings, our activity routine and anything else that involves healthy living. The problem is that people don’t like change for it is uncomfortable and even more so, people have this false idea of the outcome of change which makes it easy to resist change. Sometimes change isn’t always good but how do you know if you don’t try?

I have given this example in my talks when I speak to women but I have expressed my thoughts on body composition as it seems to control many people (males included) in terms of how they live life. Not sure how we got to this in our society but it has been so great to be free from “Dr. Oz says not to eat this” and to not hear “new research says that eating this food will make you healthy” or what I hear the most “this food is so bad for you …” Of course, diet and fitness is my profession and I am strong with my philosophy of food for fuel, nourishment and pleasure but being here in Czech has reminded me why I am so happy with the changes I have made in my lifestyle, although not all were easy and I had many doubts, it’s nice to be in a good place in my life for the past few years….especially with Karel in another country.  So, at 5 feet tall, I have told others that I could be 100 lbs. However, I choose not to be this “ideal” weight for my height because I don’t feel it would make me happy. I don’t need to see my veins and have my bones sticking out and I don’t need to sip ripped abs. My body is trained to performed so I expect it to be strong but I am not training for a fitness pageant, I need to use my body, not look “perfect” in a mirror. I have maintained my healthy weight for almost all my life due to exercise and a balanced diet. I have never been overweight but to be “skinny” I  would have to restrict food, I’d likely have a headache all the time due to low blood sugar, I would find myself being inconsistent with life, with every thought revolving around diet and exercise and I would not find myself energized like I am now with 10-14 more lbs on my body. I didn’t say that those extra lbs were disgusting fat or that I hate my blubber on my body. But unfortunately, when you think about a quality life when it comes to body composition, there’s this concept that if you gain weight to live a happier life, you are going to be unhappy and “fat” compared to others who are happy and skinny. Truth be told, it doesn’t have to be this way and life isn’t about a number on a scale. Sadly, I feel that when people eat, they are constantly fearing weight gain or have body image on their mind. Sadly, I feel those who are body composition focused (not in a “health conscious”, extreme way) are too focused on the outcomes of eating and exercise and thus, fear change when it comes improving daily living, possibly outside of your comfort zone.

As many people know, I love trail mix. It is part of my daily diet and my absolute favorite food. Back at home, I couldn’t imagine a day without nuts, raisins and cheerios. It makes me happy, feel energized and satisfied. But here in Czech, I have not had any trail mix for 5 days and I am surviving just fine. I don’t miss it, I don’t feel deprived and I don’t feel as if my life is over because I have “given up” my favorite food…for I didn’t give up anything and I have some with me in my travel bag but I have so many options here to enjoy for food choices that I am enjoying changing up my routine to discover new foods or a different way of eating. I am not on a diet here so it isn’t as if I have an off-limit food list as so many people do when it comes to wanting a change.
Here in Czech, aside from a few chocolates that Karel’s family have mailed to us over the holidays, I don’t have favorites. Karel shows me food in the grocery or shops and tells me stories “Oh! This was one of my favorites!” but if I have never had those foods, I can’t say that I am missing out on anything. It’s interesting because here in Czech, fruit is very seasonal. Like US, some of it is expensive if not seasonal but for the most part, fruit is not a big part of the diet here. I love fruit and certainly miss eating it like I do at home but I am surviving just fine. When I was in the Philippians, we ate very little veggies and ate a lot of fruit and it was all exotic and delicious!

 I feel this is one of the biggest issues with our society in that we have too many favorites and when we want a change, it because this horrible, guilt-obsessed feeling that “all is gone that is good” and everything has to be extreme for a new result. Perhaps not everyone is this way but in my experience in working with a variety of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, there are very few individuals who want to accept slow progress and are ok with change for a different, better or new way of living. As I said before, I don’t believe that there is an ideal way of living but instead, taking chances on making changes to see if there is a more balanced way of living to make you happier. Thanks to the media and food companies, everything is big, fast and “easy” in America. People want change yesterday.

When it comes to fitness enthusiasts or those who seek a more active lifestyle, I encourage you to start slow. 10 minutes a day is better than no minutes a day of walking. Not every workout has to be an hour or intense. I wore a pedometer on our travel day from Tampa to Prague and just in the airport alone, we walked 2.5 miles. Sure, for a “runner” that doesn’t sound like a lot but considering the amount of time we were sitting, every little movement added up and that was my point in wearing the pedometer in that I wanted to show that you have opportunities to move (or ‘burn’ calories) and it doesn’t have to be extreme or expensive with a gym membership.
When it comes to athletes, I encourage you to disassociate training from food rewarding. If you  ever think about your appetite while you are training intensely for an event compared to your appetite while you are taking some time off (or an injury), it is likely that you are much more hungry while you are training….and with good reason because your body is expending much more calories than just sitting around or walking. But regardless of the calories burned, there doesn’t have to be the thinking that if you don’t work out for x- minutes a day, you don’t deserve to eat or can’t eat carbs. On the flip side, just because you work out doesn’t mean that you get to “reward” yourself with anything and everything or because you want to indulge, you use exercise as your reason to do so. Sure, there may be times when you can treat yourself because of your activity level (and even without exercising) but I find that in America, there is such a bad relationship with food and the body from both athletes and fitness enthusiasts and I think it all comes down to the lifestyle that we choose to live. Sure, we can blame the food industry and preoccupation with the “perfect” body image but I feel for the most part, our society has no idea how to live a balanced lifestyle.

It’s not as if Karel and I can be in Czech and eat until we are stuffed. I find that we are not eating as large of portions as others around us and we have yet to finish a meal feeling stuffed. We still understand that a balanced diet is not a free-for-all but instead, recognizing the many things that promote a healthy lifestyle and not being obsessed with any one specific component.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts as I have been thinking a lot as I live life like a local in a different country. I can’t possibly get all my thoughts on to paper but Karel and I have really enjoyed an “active” lifestyle here in Czech, without feeling food-deprived from some of our favorite foods (albeit, we will be coming home with new favorites) and there has been no talk as to calories, bad food or diets. That is complete heaven to me for I don’t feel anyone should live a lifestyle of poor body image and a bad relationship with food. Here in Czech, it just feels so great to move our body and to eat around others without negative food/body talk.

When Karel came to the US in 2000, he had never tried peanut butter. It wasn’t until we met in 2006 that I introduced him to peanut butter. He enjoys it now but it isn’t as if his life would be over if he didn’t have it every day. When we met, we use to eat ice cream almost every night. Around 2008, I felt as if the ice cream treat after dinner was not enjoyed anymore like it once was – as a “treat”. I didn’t tell Karel that we were going on diet from ice cream or that ice cream was bad but since 2008, we have not had ice cream in our house, we don’t miss it and rarely do we even get it outside of the home. I find that this statement applies to many people who make favorable replacements in the diet, instead of just eliminating foods that they feel are “bad”. Replace, not eliminate. No ice cream means more room for fruit or perhaps, if ice cream wasn’t needed, an earlier night of rest. But with this concept, I welcome others to the idea that not all food is bad. Karel and I will never rid our diet of fresh bread. We feel so good with it, just like we do with dairy, legumes and any other proclaimed “bad” food that is “in” today (thankfully, we haven’t watched TV in over a week and I can’t speak the language here so I am not hearing about any diet trends/fads right now in the US”).

This trip has opened my eyes in many ways but  a good thing is that I came to Czech with a lifestyle that allowed me to function well in a new country. There will always be treats in life, indulgences and yes, even times when food is too good and you will say you ate too much. But to live your entire life the same, fearing change or being extreme in order to change is not the way to achieve a balanced, healthy and active lifestyle.

I feel my trip here has been enhanced because I am sharing it with Karel. Everything we do is meaningful here to Karel and we are around family who give unconditional love. I wish everyone could enjoy an opportunity like this whether internationally or just within your own state. Consider spending your next few days evaluating your lifestyle choices (wants, needs, can’ts, can’s – you have to make time, not find time) instead of wasting energy on the outcome of your lifestyle choices. For if you don’t work toward making small changes now, you may find yourself living the same, unhappy or monotonous lifestyle 10, 20 or 50 years from now.


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'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’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.

Czech trip Day 2: First “official” day in Czech

Marni Sumbal


After one of the best sleeps ever, we both woke up to the sun shining, birds chirping and cars driving (window’s open – no AC, but the most perfect weather!). I figured it had to be well past 9am but Karel told me “it gets bright here early, it’s only 6am”.

Wheww….the day wasn’t wasted!

After we took our time with our morning coffee (always nice to slow down in life), we got ourselves ready for a run around Czech. Well, fast moving feet but a few stops for pictures. Karel shared stories with me here and there and we both enjoyed the ups and downs of running around the town, but primarily on running trails and bike paths. The terrain is absolutely beautiful and the weather was perfect (around 60 degrees). We saw gardens, the hospital and several schools. All bringing back memories for Karel.

After 3.5 miles, we made it back to his mom’s and sure enough, Karel’s mom was already cooking us breakfast.

After showering in the bath tub, I got myself ready and enjoyed another delicious homecooked meal. Scrambled eggs with fresh chives, tomatoes and potatoes, served with a fresh roll and unsalted butter. Oh, and more coffee.

Breakfast hit the spot and I finally started to feel like I was on European time. Afterward, we picked up Karel’s dad (who doesn’t have a car) and with his mom, we all went to two commentary’s so Karel  could see his grandma and sister, who both passed away in the past 13 years while he was in the US and was unable to come back for their funerals. It was a happy but sad time as Karel never thought this day would come he would be back in Czech with his family. He misses the many years that he could have spent with his family but he knows that immigrating to the US was the right thing for him and I feel lucky that I can share all these experiences with him. Life is best enjoyed when it is shared with those who you love.

It was sad for Karel to see his sister’s grave, who passed away in 2001 (one year after Karel came to the US) when she was only 35 years old (a condition/illness that caused her brain to swell) and Karel was 24 years old and he said that he really appreciates the times that he can share with his family now as they are in their 70’s and getting older and he really loves being with them after being away for all these years.


After the cemetery visits, we needed to lighten the mood so it was time for a grocery store trip….MARNI in HAPPY LAND!

I was picture crazy with all the fresh foods and endless amount of beer and bread (two staples here in Czech) but both Karel and I wanted to try everything! He was telling me lots of stories of foods when he was younger “Oh, I use to LOVE this, and that, and that”….and I loved it!

I absolutely love being in a new country and living like a local so although no peanut butter in the Czech grocery stores and plenty of cereals, I refuse to eat “American” food. Although there are many similar items in Czech, I only want fresh, local and/or new foods. I welcome it all!! Well, I will save the meat for Karel as he is loving it all! I can't wait to talk about the European lifestyle in more detail but I will need to save that for another blog when I return.

After our grocery trip, it was nearing 12 pm local time and Karel said that lunch time is the “big” meal of the day where everyone comes together at a certain time to eat together. People don’t just eat when they feel like it but instead, come together at meal time and stop what they are doing. Love it!

Lunch was sautéed spinach with onions and garlic, stuffed inside homemade crepes. The texture of the spinach made me a little concerned but after one bite, I was yumming my way through lunch. Delicious! Dessert was chocolate, a fresh sliced orange and a crepe stuffed with homemade apricot jam. The great thing is that neither Karel and I feel stuffed and we don’t stop moving.

After lunch, we got our stuff ready and we headed over to Karel’s dad’s place for Karel to get our bikes ready for our first bike ride in Czech. Although Karel rode with his dad in 2008 when they came for our wedding, Karel said that his dad has been so excited to ride bikes with Karel here in Czech. Karel’s dad is 73 and doesn’t ride a lot anymore but still loves any opportunity to be on a bike and surrounds himself with cycling friends, likes to still work on bikes and often visits the local bike shop where Karel use to work while growing up. Yep – like father, like son. Karel Sr. showed me some of his trophies and awards from some of his Master’s races in the past few years, just smiling with pride.

Karel had to assemble his bike and “fit” my bike based on my measurements from my road bike at home (what a bonus being married to a bike mechanic, nonetheless, one from Europe) and about an hour later, Karel told me that one of his best childhood friends, Honza, was going to ride with us.

Around 3:30pm we headed out for a very casual ride…..nice and steady for Karel’s dad (who did amazing!), and conversational for Karel and Honza who chatted the entire time. As usual, Karel is most comfortable on or around bikes and I could just tell he was loving riding on his old training routes.

The ride was absolutely beautiful…I just couldn’t help but take pictures the entire way. Goats, horses, green terrain, bumpy roads, small towns….It was absolutely priceless. There were a few small climbs on the rolling terrain but other than that, the windy roads made for the most pleasant 25 mile, 2 hour ride and I just loved that I could share this with Karel, his friend and his dad. Again – super impressed with Karel’s dad…I’m happy that Karel has good riding genes in his family as I hope we can live the active lifestyle that we love so much, when we are in our 70’s and onward.

After a quick shower at Karel’s dad’s place, we headed back to his mom’s place and prepared our own dinner. Because lunch is the main meal of the day (which seems appropriate since we don’t do a lot of activity after dinner and in Czech much of the town “shuts down” around 6-7 for business’s), we decided we would keep dinner a bit simple since Karel’s mom has been cooking for us since we got here (but she loves it and refuses to let us make anything – she is happy when she is cooking and taking care of us). Karel’s mom was actually at her garden down the road when we came home so we decided to do a salad and a variety of bread for dinner w/ fresh cheeses and Karel had a little leftover pork with his dinner.

After dinner, we had a light dessert of fruit and homemade pastry and cookie and then we walked around downtown, historic Czech for around 90 minutes until it was too dark to see anything. I knew Czech was pretty from the pictures on the Internet and in books but I just couldn’t believe my eyes as Karel was taking me on the roads which he walked to school every day and again, sharing lots of stories with me of when he was growing up. To be honest, traveling with Karel has been the best blessing ever because there is something so very special to be with someone who can share memories with you as you both make memories together.

After our walk, I was ready for bed. Nearing 10pm local time, I couldn’t wait to go to bed to see what tomorrow would bring.
Pictures to come soon......


Czech trip Day 3: Cycling, pastries and Austria