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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: "healthy relationship with food"

Kona training update and food is fuel (yummy)

Marni Sumbal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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 Today.com, 

"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 Livestrong.com (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.
 



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

Marni Sumbal

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the set we did: 
3000 yards

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

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


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




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

Enjoy!

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

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

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

Marni Sumbal


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

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

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


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

Learn more  HERE and I hope you enjoy the show!


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


Athletes and fitness enthusiasts: a few good reads

Marni Sumbal


I remember this day like it was yesterday. 2006 Ironman Florida.

Months and months of training were put to good use when I crossed my first Ironman finishing line in PCB Florida. What an exciting day...a day that I will never forget. Everyone thought I was crazy for "racing" 140.6 miles but my 24 year-old mind and body fell in love with endurance triathlons and since then, I still continue to find myself  looking forward to another IM journey.

I've been a bit busy with work at the hospital, my business and training...oh, and of course, cooking and snuggling with Campy. Luckily, I get to spend many "dates" with my hubby these days as we are swimming, biking and (not at the same speed) running together on a daily basis. We get to share the highs and lows of Ironman training together and I have really enjoyed every moment (the good and the lessons learned) since signing up for IM Lake Placid last July.

(2006 Ironman Florida - Karel and I were dating. He made me this sign...you will see a few important references such as a burger from McDonald's to make me laugh, animals to make me smile and a sign pointing to Kona to keep me focused at my first Ironman). 

Here are a few articles that I have been quoted in as well as a few helpful articles that I wrote for all the athletes and fitness enthusiasts out there who are working toward individual health, fitness, diet and body composition goals. 

Move out of your comfort zone
Hydrate yourself for summer training

Body and mind stir-fry creation

Marni Sumbal

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

Don't watch the clock.

Don't say you're being bad.

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

Don't say you're cheating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 day....do 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.

 
 




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 …..today.” 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 bread...it's the lifestyle and I can attest for that as I have eaten a diet here that tastes great and much of it is not my typical diet....but, I feel great, have not seen any negative change in body composition, both Karel and I have repeatedly said we feel very "clean" inside and we feel energized and satisfied. Let's not forget that a balanced lifestyle includes good sleep, stress management, slowing down to enjoy life, spending time with friends/family (and wanting to take care of others) and of course, real food…not too much, just enough to enjoy it, feel fueled and nourished and feel satisfied. It's not gluten-free, paleo or these others diets that Karel's niece had never heard of, but instead, it's the lifestyle of moving your body and feeling good about the food you put into your body (and not worrying about what others are doing or not doing).

 Sorry - I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Eat for performance, not reward

Marni Sumbal



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


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

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

Redefine “reward”

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

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