Monday, October 10, 2016

What's the price tag of your health?

“I can’t afford it.”

Perhaps you are an athlete or fitness enthusiast who has had this thought when contemplating whether to pursue one-on-one nutrition coaching in pursuit of improved health or athletic performance.  (fyi - if you are a new reader here, then you should know I work in the sports nutrition coaching realm)

And so, a short babble related to money, spending, cost, value, investment :

On the surface, the cost of nutrition coaching appears to be a barrier.  But how do you really weigh the cost versus the investment?  And short-term versus long-term benefits? 

It is estimated that triathletes can easily spend over $10,000 per year to support their training and racing goals.  Even if you’re not a triathlete, think about areas where you spend your money:  coaching-related services (training coach, swim coach, personal training, private lessons), gear (shoes, bike, apparel, swimwear/wetsuits, heart rate monitors, power meters, and other accessories), memberships, books/magazines, body work services (massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga), travel (to races, workshops, camps), sports nutrition products, and the list goes on.  It adds up fast.

How do you prioritize this spending and how do your investments support your training and competition goals?

Many will respond with something like “I spend money on the things that make me faster, stronger, and get me towards new PBs or enjoying the sport more.”  That’s all groovy, but not when the importance of health is overlooked.  You know health is the foundation for athletic performance, right?  (unless you are a pro athlete and wanting to burn yourself out fast for the gains of your short-lived athletic career… and worry about health later)

Unfortunately, the majority of us don’t fully realize the benefits of investing in nutritional health until the onset of illness or disease, DNFs or racing hardships, or some other “surprise” that makes us think twice.  Then, there’s also the cost of time.  I know individuals who will spend hours every week reading through social media posts, blogs, magazines, etc in pursuit of the answers to their health-related goals or problems only to find themselves in a world of confusion and controversy.  It's difficult to put a price tag on this time, but I'm guessing most would rather use it doing something else.

Perhaps it’s a matter of how we perceive a cost and an investment?
Cost =  an amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something
Investment = a thing that is worth buying because it may be profitable or useful in the future

I encourage you to consider that "thing worth buying" an investment in you and your health.  Believe you are worth it. And find a legitimate support team that also values you and your goals.

“… cuz, your health, man, is your wealth. And you’re a long time dead”
-John Butler Trio

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Why you need a sweat sodium test

Athletes of all abilities and of many sports, from football to hockey and triathlon to ultra running, are taking advantage of medical grade technology to accurately measure sweat composition.  This invaluable service, offered through eNRG Performance, helps athletes learn more about their bodies and how to fine-tune their hydration and electrolyte supplementation strategies.  Do you wonder if this testing is right for you?  If so, read on for 6 reasons why this testing and service deserve your consideration.
  1. Sodium is key.  There are several electrolytes that comprise your sweat, but sodium is the primary electrolyte lost in sweat. Because it is involved in many critical roles in the body, including muscle contraction and fluid balance, sodium losses can have a big impact on how you feel and perform during training and practice sessions as well as on competition day. Hydration and electrolyte replacement often go hand in hand, especially for endurance sports or any sport occurring in heat and humid conditions. Unfortunately, you do not need to reach a significant level of dehydration or sodium loss before your performance starts to decrease.
  2.  All of us are different.  It used to be believed that sweat composition was fairly consistent among individuals of similar body types or dietary patterns.  In other words, if you are bigger, you probably sweat more and hence, lose more sodium. Or if you have a high sodium diet, then you lose proportionally more sodium when you sweat.  We now know through research that individual variance is significant and our sweat sodium concentration is largely genetically determined. There can be upwards of a 15-fold difference in sodium losses between athletes, regardless of body type and diet.  Depending on your sport and how much you sweat (which we also examine as a part of the eNRG Performance service), you can easily be over-doing or under-doing what you really need.
  3. Dial it in now rather than maybe never. Recreational athletes are known for participating in “trial and error” when it comes to figuring out their hydration and nutrition needs for training and competition. Believe me, I have lots of athletes that come to me after years of trying to figure it all out on their own or with the guidance of someone who is not experienced or educated in this area. While trial and error may be fine for some athletes, others experience a range of unpleasant and even harmful consequences. Why not save time and the potential negative effects of poor hydration and electrolyte replacement strategies and work with a professional to better determine your needs?  
  4. It’s an easy test to do. This is a non-exercise, non-invasive test that takes typically less than 30 minutes to get the results. Bonus:  this is a one-time test (remember, sweat sodium concentration is largely genetic) so it’s a “one and done”.
  5. Interpretation matters.  What do you do with the results of the sweat sodium concentration testing? eNRG Performance is not in the business of selling you an electrolyte product, but rather, we are in the business of educating our athletes and developing personalized strategies. So, combined with learning your sweat sodium concentration and working with you to understand your sweat rate trends, you get personalized information tailored to your unique athletic needs.
  6. It can be a game changer.  This testing is not just for elite or professional athletes. Every athlete can benefit.  Learning more about your body and what it needs to train and perform at your best should be one of your top goals.  Athletes who participate in this testing report it is well worth the investment and has simply been a game changer.
To learn more about this testing or to schedule your testing appointment, contact me at 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

DNSs and a Nutrition Reset of Sorts

The past 6 weeks since elbow surgery have been an interesting time for me. Not only have I learned to master some daily living skills with my left hand (like hair washing, teeth brushing, food preparation), I successfully managed airline travel (yikes on the TSA pat down!), and have seen how curious humans are about each other.  If I had a dollar for every stare and conversation about the RoboArm, I’m fairly certain my bank would show a deposit of $528,367 by now.
I have to admit that of the 15+ years I’ve been participating in endurance events, it’s been difficult to have several race DNSs ("did not start") over the past 2 months.  I am sad to defer these races.  But really, I mean REALLY, I go back to “This is just an elbow and arm.”  As my physical therapist said, “You have legitimate pain and discomfort, but you’re not as bad off as that guy… and that guy is not as bad off as that woman… and so on.” We all have our relative “woe is me” spheres, but it’s important to remember to put yourself in perspective.  I have nowhere near anything that many others close to my heart endure everyday:  severely impaired vision, recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, complex auto-immune diseases, terminal cancers, mental health challenges, and so on.  I ain’t got nothin’ so those DNSs are now just reminders of how lucky I am (and hope to be) to try again in the future.

Another interesting finding during this post-surgery recovery time has been my experience with a nutrition reset.  After surgery, I simply had no appetite for several days.  Exercise was limited and my mind had to adjust to “you just can't do XYZ for a while” (and there's that woe is me stuff). As my appetite returned about a week later and activity level increased, I realized that I had been participating in some habitual eating prior to surgery.  This is something I teach many of my athletes: learning or re-learning the WHY of eating (biological need vs. emotional need vs. habit). And here I found that even I had digressed a bit recently with ignoring the true signs of biological hunger.  Some may see this as a fault… how can she not practice what she preaches 100% of the time?  I see it as part of being human and getting caught up in routines. Sometimes we have to get out of our own everyday living to have a fresh look at what we are and aren't doing. Even health professionals need to do this periodically.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you take drastic measures like wrecking your bicycle in order to undergo a nutrition reset. However, consider changing up your usual routine for a few days to see what you notice about your nutrition-related behaviors. If you work from home, go to the library for a few days. If you have food at your desk, move it away. Think about your “why” when you eat and make notes in a log. There’s no guilt to be had about what you’re doing nutritionally.  Just observing and learning… and possibly implementing some behavior or environmental changes to support a healthier and happier you.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Part 2: To Do's To Mess Up Your 70.3 Triathlon

Important note:  This post is most definitely satirical in content.

In my previous post, I gave some nutrition-related tips to follow leading up to your 70.3 race to result in less than desirable results. Here are a few additional To Do’s (read: common mistake triathletes make) on race day that make for horror stories later.

  1. Wait until race morning to finalize your nutrition and hydration plan and get it all together.  I really shouldn’t have to say more on this other than… really?!?
  2.  Consume lots of sugar right before the race. Especially the 1-2 gels in the 15-60 minutes right before your swim start.  That’s super duper for getting your body into high sugar burning mode.  Yaay for crash and burn, baby!
  3. Buffet-style eating on the bike so that you are loaded up for the run.  Many of the current sports nutrition recommendations are to aim for upwards of 350 calories per hour for training/racing events over 2.5-3 hours in duration, so go ahead and stuff anything and everything in.  You’ll love how heavy you feel when you get to the run and it will be fun to see how your stomach and gut respond.
  4. Make sure you’re trying calorie sources you’ve never tried in training.  It can’t be all that bad to introduce new sports nutrition products, especially the high simple sugar products on top of you becoming under hydrated in process. Your gut will soak it all up, so to speak.
After the race, forget about everything that went wrong.  That way you can repeat these mistakes for the next time. 

(These 2 posts were a bit harsh, I admit.  Please remember, these ‘tips’ are truly not intended to be followed. If you do find yourself with nutrition and/or hydration-related issues, give me a jingle after the race and we’ll tackle it. You really shouldn't have to suffer with nutrition being the limiter to your best athletic self!)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Do These Things To Mess Up Your 70.3 Triathlon

Important note:  This is mostly satirical in content.

With many of my athletes and friends competing in this weekend’s Boulder 70.3 race (and loads more races to come over summer months), I want to share a few things you can do to most certainly have a subpar race day. These are common mistakes triathletes make in the few days prior to their race. I do not make up this stuff.

  1. Eat meals and snacks in the couple days prior to your race that you don’t usually eat prior to a big training session. Make sure to sample all of the sports nutrition products offered at the Race Expo. Keep thinking “I will burn off these calories during the race.”
  2.  Or change your dietary patterns in the week prior to the race. You know who is eating “low carb” and killing it, so you better follow suit to see the same results. Or on the flip side, your coach demands that you “carb load starting 3 days in advance”, providing you a nutrition plan that has Pasta Jay’s and the local bagel shop staff working double shifts to meet the demand. This is all excellent because undereating or overeating both work perfectly for race day.
  3. Forget about hydration the couple days before the race. Especially here in Colorado Rocky Mountain High. You’re too busy and anyway, you’re going to have some tasty microbrews to relax and get your extra B vitamins. Electrolytes?  Poo-poo. We all sweat the same and the body can take care of itself. You don’t need no sodium.
  4. Devise your race day nutrition plan the night before.  You’ve trained well and checked the boxes from your coach for several months. That’s all that matters. The nutrition plan is easy-peasy.  Make sure to plan sports nutrition products you’ve never tried in training. The guy at the Expo swears by product XYZ, so it’s bound to work for you too.
Let’s leave it at that for now.  Next up, some nutrition-related tips on what to do on race day to guarantee good times.

Okay, I know... nutritional satire is not always funny.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Where ya been?… and picking yourself up.

Yikes. You know you’re getting older when you say things like “I can’t believe how fast time is flying”. I am partly inspired to post this blog because my colleague has lit my literal fire to resume blogging. The other inspiration is that I’ve been asked by many “What have you been up to and what are you racing this year?” so I figured it’s time for a quick catch up blog post.

My last blog post was over 6 months ago prior to my last 50K ultra run in California. That race, the North Face Endurance Challenge, was a relatively impromptu race I decided to do as part of fundraising for Runwell, a non-profit close to my heart for various reasons. It was a tough course, but beautiful to be on the coast and in forests very different from my Colorado surroundings.  I picked up 2nd in my age group, which was a surprise for the level of training I had done.  Nutrition fared well with the primary use of GenUCAN (my trustworthy energy source) and an average hourly calorie intake of less than 65. Thank you, metabolic efficiency.

My work as a Sport Dietitian has kept me quite busy. For example, since I last posted a blog, I have been involved in conducting a research study at eNRG Performance (looking at the effects of carnitine on endurance athletes), writing a nutrition chapter in a book soon to be published, establishing an eNRG Performance office in Boulder (inside the awesome Flatirons Running store), teaching Metabolic Efficiency Training certification clinics, and continuing to provide sports nutrition coaching to all levels of ultra runners, triathletes, marathoners, and other fitness enthusiasts.  I love my work.

Athletically, I set my sights for the early part of this summer to spend time up high and to choose shorter races due to time constraints for adequate training.  By ‘up high’, I mean choosing a few running and road cycling races/events in the mountains. I have focused mostly on ultra running the past couple years, so getting back on the road bike just sounded fun. I adore hill climbing and with where I live, there is no shortage of hills and mountains.

So, there are the past 6 months in a nutshell.

And then, there’s the most recent life ‘event’ that dealt the card I didn’t want. To be brief, I had a bike accident that left me with a severely broken elbow and needing surgery. An amazing orthopedic surgeon, eight screws and a plate later, I am on the mend. At least, I have some fun new nicknames.

Just call me Bionic D
I am very fortunate that my accident wasn’t worse. I was riding at 21 mph, touched the rear wheel of my husband's bike in front of me, and over I went. My helmet cracked in 4 places and yet, all I got was this broken elbow, a sprained shoulder, and some road rash. 

I have to pull out from my May and June races to heal from surgery and get rehab on the damaged goods. Although I am bummed about having to adjust my training and racing plans, I have learned to put this in a better perspective.  I mean, really… there are tons of people who have it much worse than me, acutely and chronically. This is just a tiny bump in the road in the grand scheme. 

In the words of a former mentor wellness coach of mine, when we fall down (no matter if it is figuratively or literally), we need to “Pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and keep moving forward.”  I am grateful I get to do this.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Being in each other’s shoes: Compassion, at a minimum.

Note:  This blog post contains no nutrition content.

Note #2: I may be slightly sappy.

Sometimes our lives become enriched by people we barely know or by people from different backgrounds than our own.  Our paths cross and if we are lucky, we are forever changed by that experience.

A weekend experience in October was one that changed me. It wasn’t one specific moment or person. It was every person I met, every story I heard, and how I reflected on my own life. 

I had been invited to give a nutrition presentation on Metabolic Efficiency at this year’s Ambassador Retreat for the non-profit organization, Runwell.  Although I was familiar with this company and have been fortunate to previously spend  time with the founder, Linda Quirk, I had no idea the impact this weekend would have upon me. If you are unfamiliar with Runwell, the vision of this company is:
To shift the worldview of addiction and the perception of those afflicted from one of disgrace to one of acceptance and hope. Through the positive effects of sport, Runwell will provide opportunities, enabling individuals to accomplish endeavors beyond their perceived limits.

Runwell’s mission is: to provide access to alcohol and drug treatment programs through financial scholarships. We also engage individuals in exercise to foster a healthy lifestyle, provide a continuum of care for those in active recovery, and to bring people together in a positive way that helps to break down the negative perceptions of those struggling with addiction.

In a quick nutshell and to be completely honest, I learned so much about a disease I did not fully respect. It is not easy to admit, but I bet many of us have misjudgments and don’t care to open their minds to any disease not present in our own lives.

Learning about the stigma of drug and alcohol addiction from the Runwell Ambassadors and a separate rally on Capitol Hill was life-changing and helped me to put my ‘problems’ at the time in perspective. Hearing first-hand the personal journeys was incredible. Seeing how a non-profit such as Runwell is helping individuals suffering with addiction get into a treatment center, and then eventually enable them to turn to walking or running as a complementary therapy and a more healthful way of living was a downright joy. Hearing passion from the Ambassadors about how good life is and their overwhelming sense of gratitude are moments sealed in my heart.

What I’m asking

It’s been a long while since I’ve done any personal fundraising.  The last time was in memory of my Dad and to support cancer research.  From this recent experience, I have decided to raise some funds for Runwell, to participate in a 50K trail run to honor those who are in addiction recovery, and to honor my new friends from Runwell. Although my personal connection may be different than my previous fundraising efforts, the feeling of compassion is similar.   So, no matter whether you have been “in the shoes” of addiction or what lies behind it, most of you can relate to the story of sharing some compassion and helping others to get to a better place.

Thank you for considering a donation: