contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

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: "healthy eating"

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

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

Without making the time and appreciating this....

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

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

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

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

Since when did we combine these foods...

with these foods....


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy real food eating!

Cottage cheese
Tri colored quinoa
Bed of mixed greens
Bell peppers

Nutrition tips for food lovers

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking in Znjomo, Czech Republic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trimarni tip: metabolism

Marni Sumbal

The human body is complex when it comes to metabolism but there is no reason why you can't make a complicated topic easy to understand.

My classes in graduate school were overwhelming to say the least but I loved how much I was learning about the human body relating to exercise.

Cardio physiology
Adv Exercise phsyiology
Lab methods
Respiratory physiology

A few of my favorite classes.

Because now I divide my attention between working with athletes and fitness enthusiasts on training and coaching and seeing patients in the hospital, I feel my brain really gets a good understanding of the "healthy" body versus the body that is compromised. It is also overloaded at times which makes for great sleep when I can turn off my brain.

When I am in the hospital, I learn a lot about the human body and I see a lot. I am amazed by what a sick body can do and I feel that makes me appreciate a body that is otherwise healthy and normal. I feel many people disrespect the body or do things to the body because they feel "life" is too stressful and/or busy to take care of the body.

Well, my thinking is that if you don't have time to take care of the body, you have to make for illness. I really love my job as a clinical RD and being able to help people but when I leave the hospital, I  have freedom to use my body however I want. I never lose sight of that freedom for no matter what is on my to-do list for the day, my morning is best started with some type of activity. My body is healthy and I want to use it for as long as I can for there may be a time when I can't and that time is not now.

Did you know that the body burns ~38-56 calories per hour while sleeping, 100-145 calories per hour sitting in meetings and the adult brain may demand ~20% of our resting metabolic rate every day?

I feel calorie counting is very over-rated and although it may work for some, I am not a fan of it. We must eat in a way that we are eating for the right reasons. My reasons: Health (#1), fuel (performance), pleasure.
I do not count my calories but instead, see food for nutritional value, to support my exercise routine and I eat food that makes me feel good inside.

On Mon (yesterday), Karel and I started our morning with 30 minutes of core/hip/glute work and stretching and Campy was spoiled with several doggy walks in the early am and pm. As for my main eats during the day to keep my body fueled and happy and my brain functioning properly: 

 Yummy oatmeal creation with apples, raisins, nuts and seeds and a little Hammer vegan protein powder. Happy tummy and brain for the morning hours of working.

Quinoa, leeks, baby tomatoes, sweet peppers, goat cheese, cashews, tempeh, mango, avocado and mixed greens. Whoa baby... Flavor overload in a bowl full of medicine!

Pasta w/ stewed tomatoes and oregano with roasted veggies cooked in olive oil (squash, mushrooms, sweet peppers)

As an athlete, my body requires days off from training for I train hard and recover harder. I never sabotage a workout or my immune system health by not fueling before, during or after a workout. But as a fitness and health enthusiast, I must move and fuel my body on a daily basis and I must always eat for health. Last week I had Sat off from training due to my talk and after a 4 hour ride + 45 min run on Sunday for Kona training, I looked forward to another day off on Monday to rest my body and mind for another tough week of training. Last week I trained 13 hours (which includes 1.5 hours of hip/core work and a recovery 30 min swim on Monday). As you know, I do not train high volume for the IM but instead, I train smart and even with Kona on the radar in 6.5 weeks, my goal is to arrive to the race healthy and hungry to race for Ironman #7. I'm thankful to my body that I have started and finished every Ironman I have signed up for. 

Consider that your human body can demand a lot of energy even when you are not breaking a sweat so be sure to keep yourself nourish and satisfied throughout the day to support all metabolic processes.

Even more important is if you are using your body for training purposes as an athlete, remember that your body requires a lot more during activity than it does at rest so don't overlook the importance of proper fueling before, during and after workouts.

I feel if our society would spend less energy worrying about food and the "perfect" way to do things and instead, establish realistic, meaningful goals which force us to make good decisions on a daily basis to bring progress, we would all have a more quality filled life. We can not control our future or our genetics but we can certainly reduce our risk for disease. My goal is a balanced  life so that I can work hard with my healthy body to reach my performance goals but also stay healthy enough to be productive with my career. And most importantly, I do not want the days to rush by and not appreciate the little things in life.

Like doggy play time while enjoying dessert on the floor while stretching. 

Simple tips for an uncomplicated life

Marni Sumbal

A few tips for a more balanced day: 
-Aim for 60 minutes of movement today (any way you like it, split up or at once)

-Snack on fruits and veggies 

-Surround yourself with people who give you energy, not take it away from you

-Be motivated by your personal goals that are meaningful and realistic, not by what others are doing and what you feel others expect you to do.

-Eat to be satisfied, fueled and nourished. Focus on a plant strong meal that is balanced with whole grains (1/2 - 1 cup) or high fiber starch (~30-50g carbs) +  20-30g of protein + enough healthy fat to make the meal taste great and hold you over (~7-15g). 

-Work on a good, better, best system. Don't try to be your best right now if you are just making good choices. Accept the patience that is needed to make small changes that will last a lifetime. 

-Learn to love new things in life. Not much is easy the first time you do it, especially if you want it to change you. 

-Snack with a purpose: control blood sugar, compliment meals and fill in nutritional gaps between those meals, honor hunger and don't be a clock watcher. 

-Don't let a store-bought household appliance run or ruin your day. Instead of chasing a number on a scale, use your eating and exercise routine for something more meaningful in life. 

-Reframe situations that appear to make you unhappy. Tired of your job? Be grateful you are making money to pay your bills. Is your training/exercise routine too challenging at times? Acknowledge that your body is strong enough to do something on a daily basis. 

-Let the important people in your life know that you love and care about them. 

-Tell yourself that you love yourself. 

-Stop wasting time reading tips in magazines, on the internet and in books that tell you how to get a quick fix for a healthy life. A balanced life is not extreme or rushed. Don't make excuses, make things happen with small steps that allow for some progress. 

Quick, easy and simple "healthy" eating tips

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marni Sumbal

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

According to Medical News, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mindful eating. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
Dark leafy greens
Olive oil

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.

Tips for an active and healthy lifestyle

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Clearning up confusing with healthy eating and sport nutrition

Marni Sumbal

There's a lot of confusion when it comes to healthy eating and sport nutrition. I know this from my own experience in learning about the topics in graduate school while earning my Master of Science in Exercise Physiology as well as in my dietetic program as I earned my Registered Dietitian credential. But now as I work with athletes from around the world, I clearly see how confused and overwhelmed people are when it comes to eating for fuel and for health. Don't be!

I could spend many blogs on this topic and as a writer, life-long student and lover of putting words in my head on paper, I am not sure if I can contain myself in one blog post, sharing everything I know about healthy eating and sport nutrition. But, I learned when I became a RD that it is not my job to tell everyone everything I know in the first counseling session or when asked about nutrition in a group setting. Instead, learn to treat everyone as individuals and understand that everyone has different needs and goals and what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else. Science is amazing and so is research but the truth of the matter is that if we don't love and enjoy the changes we are making in life, it's unlikely that we will stick with them as we work hard to achieve our goals and live a quality filled life.

Health first, performance second.

If you are a fitness enthusiast or athlete, there's no denying that the body needs fuel to support metabolic processes. There are plenty of great videos and textbook chapters dedicated to exercise physiology so rather than share my excitement about the kreb cycle, anaerobic glycolysis or cellular respiration, I will keep this as simple as possible. The foods we eat, primarily carbohydrates, gives us fuel. Protein assists in recover, repair and rejuvenation and fats assist in hormones and protecting organs. Certainly these foods offer more than what I just listed  and they all contribute to a balanced diet to keep us nourished, satisfied and healthy. Of course, depending on what you choose to eat within those macronutrient categories may and will affect your performance but I don't need to tell you that real foods are the best source of food for your active body and health. Not too much, just enough.

I find that many active individuals fear nutrition around workouts simply for the fact that they are most vulnerable to their body at that time. You likely wear tight clothing (or showing more skin than in work clothes), you compare your body to others and you are very in tune with your overall body composition as you feel your heart beat and muscles work to let you have a great workout. And of course, the assumption if you lose weight either through extreme activity/food restriction you will magically be healthier or faster. Not always the case. 

But here lies the problem with many active individuals. Whether you admit it or not, unless you can honestly say that 100% you eat for fuel and for health, you are likely thinking about calories consume, calories burned and weight around your workouts. There's nothing wrong with that considering that's why many people get involved with sports at an older age but when you are possibly compromising your health and workouts because of feeling as if you don't need energy dense foods around your workouts, this becomes a bigger issue than just being confused on how to eat for fuel and for health. Should I mention that as you neglect to eat/drink appropriately around workouts you likely find yourself "deserving" to eat with reward food later in the day or find yourself with a "just don't care" attitude when you aren't in your workout gear but instead, bored/stressed at work or exhausted in the evening.  Jeopardizing your body's potential for performance gains is only the beginning of issues that can occur when you aren't supporting your body with the right foods at the right times.

Energy dense foods like fruits, potatoes, cereal, granola, bread, honey are just a few of the many low fiber, low fat and high carb (or energy dense - packing a lot of fuel in a small quantity) options that can be consumed around workouts to fuel your body. There is not one right protocol for pre during and post training nutrition so without spending an entire blog on this topic - keep it simple to prepare, simple to digest and easy to tolerate. It's not a pre trianing meal unless you are eating 2-4 hours before a workout. Call it what it is - a pre and post training snack to fuel your upcoming workout and to help you recover. 

But Marni - these foods you listed are not going to help me loose weight!!! The media tells me these foods are bad!!! UGGGH, I'm so confused. 

So here's the deal. Health first, performance second. Support your body with nutrient dense foods on a day to day basis and when your body is most active, support your body and brain with energy dense foods.

Considering how sedentary our lifestyle is these days (even with "training/working out" 8-20 hours a week) we spend much of our days sitting and for many, only getting up to go get something to eat. We are not sitting down to eat from being extremely active with our job and needing that 'break' to recharge our body to support 4-6 more hours of "working". Instead, we are sitting or moving just a little and not supporting our body with the right foods to leave us satisfied and nourished (thus leaving us grazing and over snacking). Of course, not everyone will fit this mold - there are people who undereat, those who can't put on weight, those who choose to underfuel/restrict and those who have a great diet. But for the most part, active individuals are not supporting workouts properly and thus overeating at certain times (ex. evening before bed) and not recovering/fueling properly when the body needs fuel to assist in metabolic processes and sometimes not able to be consistent with workouts due to feeling sick, exhausted and burnout without feeling as if the training routine is intense enough to warrant those issues. However, for many athletes, training volume is excessive and not of quality and with a diet that is not properly planned, this is another topic to discuss in another blog.  

Now this isn't to say that we should restrict calories on light or off training days or that we should have good and bad food when working out. The bottom line is that we need to identify the times when our body is most active and we need to support it properly with "energy". All other times, we need to think about nourishment and what many people don't do, is feeling satisfied - not stuffed, not guilty and not restricted.

Here are a few of my recent creations for you to enjoy. I am not sure if this blog clears up any confusion but I hope that this gets you thinking a bit more about what your body allows you to do on a day to day basis in terms of life and with exercise/training. Your body doesn't have to let you do what it does and often we take for granted how complicated our body is when it comes to its physiology during exercise...let alone daily life.

To keep it simple - focus on yourself. You've read the articles on the internet, you have the books and you have resources. Eat the right foods at the right times to support your workouts and don't be afraid of gaining weight as it isn't that 30g of carbs during a 1+ hour workout or that banana w/ PB before and glass of milk post workout that is causing you to gain weight. Keep the food easy to digest so you don't experience GI distress and find what works for you before, during and after workouts for every type of scenario. When it comes to the daily diet, accept what a portion looks like of grains, fats, dairy, protein etc. and rather than having a black or white mentality - be appreciative of what food can offer your body instead of thinking about what's so bad about food. And most of all, remove pressure to eat a certain way for weight loss. Your body will take care of itself as you find yourself eating for fuel, health and for pleasure. 

Creamy broccoli slaw
1 package broccoli slaw
2-3 spoonfuls pineapple Chobani Yogurt
Salt/sugar to taste (~2-3 tsp sugar, pinch or two of salt)
1-2 tbsp sunflower seeds

1. Mix together and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving (it will be better the next day!)

Veggie stacked pizza creation
1 frozen pizza (or local cheese pizza)

1. Preheat oven to recommended temp on box (or 400 for veggies).
2. Toss veggies in a little olive oil and place on non stick pan.
3. Bake veggies for ~15-20 minutes.
4. Bake pizza (top with pineapple)
5. Top pizza with veggies. 

Fruit salad with baguette
1 serving fresh baguette (toasted and sliced in half)
Dark green mix
Protein of your choice (cottage cheese in picture)
Fresh fruit - pineapple, red pears, orange slices
Veggies - onions, carrots, peppers
Coconut shreds

1. Toss and enjoy. Serve with balsamic or salsa or hummus on the side. 

Fresh fruit = electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, medicine, hydration, yumminess

Salad with brown rice and cottage cheese

Mixed greens
Green pepper
Purple onion
Sunflower seeds
Grain of your choice - brown rice as pictured)
Balsamic and Olive oil

Creamy yogurt dressing
1/2 cup yogurt
1-2 tbsp favorite dressing
Veggies of your choice

1. Mix together and refrigerate. 

Check out the current issue of Fitness magazine for a few of my fueling tips for your upcoming triathlon in the 6 page spread dedicated to training for your first triathlon. 

Happy eating!