I announced a few weeks ago that I will be working with a nutritionist as I train for my first triathlon at the end of August (and I also recently through out the name, date and distance of said tri - eeeek).
For today's What I Ate Wednesday I'm going to talk about some of the things my nutritionist, Julie Sparkes from The Athlete's Palate, has been chatting about with me. It's all so fascinating to me, so I hope you find it interesting as well!
I'm also going to be posting some of my recent #foodporn for your viewing pleasure. ENJOY.
Food Mood Journal
I think I failed my first assignment from Julie BIG TIME. She asked me to keep a "food mood" journal for 7 days and while I was pretty good about tracking my food - I was pretty bad about the whole "mood" thing.
Julie wanted to know details like how my energy levels shifted throughout the day, any stomach issues, trouble concentrating, etc.
To be quite honest, it was eye-opening for me to realize that I m incredibly out of touch with these subtle shifts and signals in my own body.
I also did a pretty crummy job specifying serving sizes and my workouts throughout the week. But after some follow-up emails and a phone call to clarify some things, Julie had a ton of great information for me.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
The week that I kept my food mood journal I was really good about starting each day with a shot of apple cider vinegar mixed in water.
Julie mentioned it and said that while some people swear by it, ACV can make others not feel so hot while they exercise. Honestly, I didn't notice anything from drinking it and I haven't maintained the habit.
I am the first one to admit that I do not drink enough water.
I could probably go an entire day, even with exercise, and drink about 2 cups and not think anything of it. I know that's bad. I know dehydration is bad and that being well hydrated has a host of health benefits. Not to mention, drinking water keeps you full and would likely do a lot to quell my snacking.
Two recent developments have done wonders for my water intake.
DRINKING FROM A STRAW
I have a new cup with a straw that I drink my water out of at my desk and it's a serious game-changer. I don't know what it is, but I am so much more likely to take a sip from a straw. Ultimate laziness perhaps. But it's been working.
FLAVORING MY WATER
I've been putting mint leaves in my water and it's so refreshing and tasty! Julie suggested lemon, but to be completely honest, always having fresh lemons available is too much effort for me. Again, laziness. For awhile I was using lemon juice from a squirt bottle but I didn't love that because it wasn't natural, fresh lemon juice. This mint leaf thing is much easier. I rip up a few leaves into my cup each morning and just refill with water throughout the day.
On the days that I still struggle to drink enough water, Julie gave me a list of the fruits and veggies with the most water content.
ONE PROTEIN AT A TIME
One tip Julie gave me that I had never heard or thought about before was to have one protein per meal. So, for example, if you're eating chicken for dinner - don't eat it with black beans or Greek yogurt. Sticking to one protein source per meal has been surprisingly more difficult than I expected, but it's something I'm trying to be more conscious of when I'm cooking for myself.
Julie suggested adding fermented foods to my diet to support gut health. Next time I go grocery shopping I'm hoping to pick up some sauerkraut or kimchi - I've seen a ton of bloggers who add this to their meals and I like the taste, so why not?
FUELING BEFORE AND DURING WORK OUTS
A major topic that Julie and I discussed that is new to me is fueling DURING workouts. Right now, I'm not doing many workouts that last more than an hour, but as I hopefully up my running and biking mileage, Julie really wants me to try eating during workouts to keep from crashing.
A huge obstacle for me is my pre-workout fueling. I know that running 10 miles on half a banana is not ideal - but it's something I've always done. "Fasted" cardio is no big deal for me - and for the most part it's because, you guessed it, I'm lazy. I set my alarm for 10 minutes before my workouts. I roll out of bed already dressed in my sports bra and shorts. Brush my teeth, maybe grab a spoonful of peanut butter or a piece of a granola bar, and I'm out the door.
If I look to seriously train for a longer distance race or tri, I'm going to need to work on waking up at least an hour before to eat something. OR start doing some evening workouts so that it's not difficult to eat something substantial an hour or two before a run, bike or swim.
Monday morning I took my first step by eating a half of a banana before my bike ride and a Clif Shot Block during my ride when I started to feel some hunger pangs. Damn those things are hard to chew! But they tasted good and didn't upset my stomach so I definitely plan to try 2 or 3 on a longer workout one of these days.
Julie blew my mind with this fun fact: when you eat fruit with other foods, it leads to a slower energy release. That's why so many athletes fuel with oatmeal and banana! If you're looking to lose weight, it might help to eat fruit on its own so that it doesn't stay in your system longer when paired with other things. But if you want a slower energy release for a workout - mix fruit into your meal!
Since taking to Julie about this, I've realized that I add fruit to SO MANY THINGS! I love the burst of sweetness that fruit can provide in savory meals and therefore, it's usually in my salads, my tacos (mango salsa), oatmeal, yogurt, etc.
This is one thing that I considered trying to alter during a non-peak training time - but eating fruit only on its own has proven way too difficult for me and I don't foresee it being a change I can realistically make. Fruit in all the things!
I was shocked when Julie told me she thought I needed to eat more fruits and veggies. When I cook for myself during the week, I mainly eat vegetarian, but apparently I needed more veggies in my diet. Lucky for me, I love veggies! This was something that was easy to remedy. I started packing a sandwich bag full of crudite for an office snack every day and adding side salads to my dinners.
To be honest - a lot of these changes are going to require some serious dedication and life-style changes on my part. I don't want to become obsessed - I'm not interested in going back to the person who turns down happy hours and dinner plans because it means a lack of control over what I'm eating. Life is wayyy too short for that and summer is way too fun. But learning, experimenting and finding a balance that works for me, with Julie's help, is definitely a great experience that I hope will benefit my training.