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: http://runwell.donorpages.com/TNFSanFrancisco50K15/DinaGriffinRD

-Dina

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Metabolic Efficiency Training: The Quick Lowdown and Dispelling Misconceptions

For over five years now, I have specialized in learning, implementing, and educating others in the concepts of Metabolic Efficiency Training and Nutrition Periodization (both concepts created by my colleague, Bob Seebohar).  As a Board Certified Sport Dietitian and Registered Dietitian, believe me when I say I’ve heard the gamut of reactions to these “alternative” approaches to nutrition and fueling athletes. There are the naysayers who are so embedded in sport nutrition guidelines from the 1990s that there is no possible way of opening their minds. The other end of the spectrum are those who have “been in the shoes” and have seen and felt the benefits, from a health and/or athletic performance perspective. For the in between folks or those who are semi-skeptical, I want to clear up some common misconceptions that have been perpetuated about the Metabolic Efficiency (M.E.) concept :

Not a Fad
M.E. is backed by scientific principles and has real life data to validate it. People who claim there is no research to support it are just plain wrong. Sure, there are not decades worth of double blind randomized controlled trials to show it is the one and only way.  However, there are quite a few studies out there if you know how to look for them. I am also confident more are sure to come in these next few years. And we must remember that just because something has not been “proven” scientifically does not mean it is invalid or not worth considering.  Many times, what athletes do in real life settings are light years ahead of the research.

Not a Diet
M.E. is not Paleo or a low carb, high fat diet.  It is not Zone, Atkins, or any other diet plan you can name. At its core, it is the manipulation of foods to stabilize blood sugar. It is sustainable. It is a lifestyle.  Some people do lose weight following this nutrition plan. Many people see improvements in health biomarkers.  However, it is not something to be followed for a few weeks to achieve a temporary result and then discarded.  M.E. can be implemented lifelong.

Not Just for Endurance Athletes
Although M.E. is well-known for its application in the endurance athlete community, there are numerous benefits for fitness enthusiasts, team sport athletes, and power athletes as well. No matter the type of athlete, part of the key to success is proper implementation and individualization.  Nutrition periodization concepts can enter the picture to ensure proper nutrient timing and carbohydrate availability specific to the athlete and their needs for performance, recovery, and health.

Not Food-Restrictive or Numbers-Driven
Unlike classic diets, there are no forbidden foods or required calorie counting.  Learning how to put together foods that stabilize blood sugar and working within an individual’s food preferences are pieces of the foundation.  Implementing behavior change techniques to assist the individual is essential for success. “Simple and sustainable” is not a life of avoiding XYZ food, living by a daily calorie count or a food points number.  It is true there may be times to give attention to specific amounts of macro- or micronutrients, but this typically falls within nutrition periodization strategies to ensure the individual is making progress towards their unique goals.

Not a One-Sized Fits All Approach
When implemented properly and guided by a professional, M.E. should be personalized to the individual and applicable to his/her unique health goals, health history, and athletic goals.  There is more than one way to implement M.E. and many ways to fine-tune it appropriately. For those who claim it doesn’t work, it is likely the implementation strategy was not well-followed, it was not supervised, or individualization was not implemented.

I hope this helps clear up some misconceptions about M.E. If you have questions about M.E., consider contacting me or my colleagues at eNRG Performance. If you have read this and are still curious about M.E., visit metabolicefficiency.org.

-Dina