Open Water Swimming Tips

Canandaigua

Canandaigua Lake, one of the beautiful Finger Lakes near my parents house. As a swimmer and triathlete, having the Finger Lakes near you is magnificent. I was so spoiled growing up and not realizing that not everyone got to see this, or swim in places like this. We were/are lucky to live in a place so incredible for outdoor activity. So, while here for a few weeks, I’m definitely taking advantage. And an open water swim is just about the only thing I’ll willingly get up at 5am for. In the future I know the early mornings will come again, but for now, open water is it. This pic was taken after our swim this morning having gotten into the water by 6am. The sun wasn’t even up yet. As  you can see, it was a bit windy and choppy, but that’s ok, good practice. While swimming it reminded me of something I’d written for a triathlon swim clinic I put on last year. This was written for triathletes, but 85% will apply to pure open water swimmers as well. I know the season is partway over, but hopefully some of these tips will help you out. Let me know if you have any questions. Get out and swim!

14 Swim Skills for Triathletes

1. Go further than the race requirement- If you’re swimming .5 mile, swim 1 mile, if you’re swimming 1 mile, swim 1.5, swimming, 1.2, swim 2 and swimming 2.4, swim 3 miles.

2. Practice in open water and with differing conditions– go to a swim venue similar to race day if you can i.e. lake, river, ocean and get used to swimming in different conditions. If the race is usually choppy, and you only practice on a smooth glassy lake, it isn’t preparing you. If you get used to swimming in all sorts of conditions, you’ll be better prepared.

3. Practice starting in a group-If you’re not comfortable being in a mix of people, practice what it feels like to be surrounded by others kicking, punching and splashing.

4. Have a mantra if you’re uncomfortable– Come up with a short phrase to repeat to yourself in the swim if you start to panic i.e. smooth and relaxed. Practice this when swimming, and even on the bike/run.

5. Do swim/bike workouts or swim/run workouts– the most neglected brick workout is the swim to bike workout. There are often run/bike, or run/bike/run workouts, but the swim to bike is forgotten. Good for practicing for nutrition/dehydration, dizziness, fatigue, overall effort.

6. Workouts-hypoxic sprints/zero recovery sprints/no wall/no lane lines– Do workouts that mimic similar conditions to open water swimming. If you do touch and go sprints, or do hypoxic sets where you’re getting little rest, or little breath, it can prepare you for the swim, specifically the start.

7. The swim start-Know how the swim is starting-off a dock/boat, in water-knee high/chest high, on the beach. Be prepared and practice similar starts. i.e. IM Louisville is a rolling TT start. Other races have adopted wave starts vs mass starts.

8. Seeding Yourself-Where you put yourself matters. Be realistic, are you a good swimmer, a nervous swimmer? Front of the pack swimmers are aggressive. It’s best to put yourself in the back, or to the sides, depending on if there is a wave behind you.

9. Warm up before the swim-Some swims allow warm up, some don’t. Know this beforehand. The warm up is important for neuromuscular activation, warming up your muscles and getting you used to the cold water. If a warm up isn’t allowed, bring swim bands to use to warm up.

10. Burping your wetsuit-If you’re not used to swimming with a wetsuit, practice with it first. When you get into the water burp the wetsuit to let a bit of water and release the pressure in your shoulders.

11. Sighting-sight with alligator eyes, and try not to breathe when you sight, you’ll swim “uphill.” Sight every 4-6 strokes if you’re not that comfortable and every 10 (possibly more-depending on the swim venue-a river is easier) if you are. In an ocean, sight as you are rising from the swell.

12. Breathing-learn to bilateral breath. This will help with your body position and will help with adverse conditions- sun in the eyes, waves, another swimmer

13. Drafting– practice this, as it’s a learned skill. Swim just off the hip area or behind the feet of another swimmer and you can save around 20% of your energy. Do not pull on their legs or touch their feet.

14. Exiting the water-keep swimming till you touch the bottom with your hand. Don’t just stand up and start to run, you’re faster swimming. Do dolphin dives to get in closer, and when you’re in the furthest, pick up your knees
Sample Triathlon OWS/Brick Workouts:

1. Basic IM swim bike brick (8-12weeks out)- 60:00 ows with race pace start and finish, 4 hour bike at IM pace

2. Indoors Swim/Bike brick (winter training)-45:00 swim practice, 45:00 on spin bike/trainer at pool

3. Indoors Olympic Swim/Bike brick(winter training)- 2x (3x 500 descending to race pace, 6 miles race pace on the bike)

4. IM Swim/Run brick (done 4-6 weeks out)- Cut in half for 70.3 distances
2 mile run
30:00 swim
4 mile run
20:00 swim
6 mile run
20:00 swim
1 mile run

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The Last Uphill Battle

I’m brimming with excitement, but excitement that’s right below the surface. I’m almost scared to believe it, but I do believe I’ve crossed the last mountain in my hamstring/sciatic nerve battle. And yes, it’s been a hard fought, tooth and nail type battle. I wish I could describe the physical and emotional battle this has been on myself, Brett and my family. I really can’t, but I can say thank you to everyone for putting up with me.

I’m lying on a bed at our hotel in Silver Springs, MD because I can’t sit up right now to type due to the pain. But this is good healing pain. I hate typing on my iPhone, but I really wanted to get this out. I’m so confident I’m not even waiting to see if these last injections worked, because I know they did. So here I lie, trying to give a bit of hope to those athletes and everyday folks who’ve had mystery diagnosis, who’ve had ups and downs with athletic injuries and who thought they might not have that final up.

Its taken a long time, I shutter to say the past 2 years, but my journey back is going to begin. Well, in another 2 days, after the injections have done their thing that is. So for all the athletes and folks who’ve struggled with mis-diagnosis, no diagnosis, endless PT, surgery, etc. I’m telling you to hang in there. Persevere, you can do it. Thank you to everyone whose reached out to send good wishes and prayers, and thank you for those injured who’ve reached out to share your struggle. Knowing I’ve helped just one person is all I really wanted. I’m so glad I could give others hope to get through this.

I won’t try to tell you that it will be easy, because the ups and downs are tough. You’ll want to give up, I know, but stay strong. Get a good team on your side: your family, friends, doctor, priest/minister, psychologist. They will help you through this.

While I’m mentioning my team, I must say that everyone I listed above has helped me. But the honor of the most caring, honorable and gracious doctor ever goes to my hero Dr. Victor Ibrahim, my physiatrist. You might think that dramatic, and maybe I’m being dramatic, but honestly I don’t mind (hopefully you don’t either). He has been there, trying different and experimental techniques, keeping my hopes up, giving hugs when needed, an ear to listen to (and I’ve had some stressful moments) telling me to hang in, never giving up on me and going as far as fitting me into his terribly busy schedule when I need it last minute, answering emails and so much more. I’ve seen a lot of doctors over the past two years and he is the best. Going far and above any doctor. Every doctor and person should strive to be the kind of person he is. I know I will.

Ive gained a bit more insight from him regarding the importance of the core and the pelvic muscles (guys and girls alike). It turns out so many issues are caused by weak pelvic floors. It might be a touchy subject, but I’ll broach it in another post. Those pre or post surgery around the pelvic girdle (hamstring, hip, etc) really need to focus on these areas to prevent additional issues from popping up. Turns out these last few issues were related to this. And for those not pre and post surgery, it’s important for you too.

So tomorrow we’ll make the long drive back to NY (7hours), but this last minute trip was worth it. Thanks for Brett for driving me and dealing with DC traffic. We love it here, but after 1 week in upstate NY, wow, what a difference. It’s much slower, more peaceful, drivers don’t want to kill you and it doesn’t take 20min to go 1 mile. DC, we love you, but we’re ready for a change. Onto being an athlete again, and finding peace. Peace that this journey is about over. I might not ever be the athlete I once was. And really, I’m ok with that. I finally feel at peace that the joy of exercising again is all I really need. I’m going to give it 110% to get back out there and be that athlete again. But if I can lace up a pair of shoes and go for a jog, or clear my goggles before a swim without this pain, I’ll be the happiest person alive. Perspective changes after 2 years of this. So I want to tell everyone this, I’ll never take my health or mobility for granted again. If you’re not injured or disabled, get off the couch and move. Feel the wind on your face and as you jog along or ride your bike. Cherish the gift of movement and live for the good pain of exercise. If you can run and jump as fast as you can and as high as you can, do it! You’ll never hear a complaint about a workout or a race from me. Every day we’re alive and able to do what we love is a gift. Don’t take it for granted.

Summer Squash Noodles with Mushroom “Alfredo” Sauce

My 100th blog! I feel like this should be a philosophical blog about my journey to this point in the blogging world, however, today I give you a new (and exciting) recipe. In a way it is kind of fitting to have this as my 100th blog. The blog started off as a way to express my emotions about being injured, help other athletes deal with injury and provide healthy nutrition and endurance tips. I never dreamed I’d have a blog, and… I’d never dreamed I’d be so excited about making a vegan cashew cream sauce before. I’ve always loved to cook and experiment, but only in the past year have I really started pushing the bounds with vegan or even Asian based foods. Growing up Italian means pasta, pasta, pasta. Yummy, but I want to master everything. Or at least try. So, here’s to new things, because they can be fun, challenging, frustrating, and a whole other myriad of emotions.

I should also mention this is an exciting blog because I am the owner of a brand new top of the line Blendtec 725 blender. Thankfully, because I belong to a sport dietician/nutritionist group, I have access to discounted blenders. This is just about the gold standard, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to own it. Already today I came up with 4 new recipes to try. And I made them all today! Of the 4, 3 came out and 2 of the 3 were actually delicious. So, as the song goes, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

The amazing blender!

The amazing blender!

 

This was one of the 2 that I think came out very good. Brett, being the skeptic, watched me make it with a questioning face. He even went as far as to look in the fridge to see what else we had in case he needed a back up. But, he didn’t need it and actually said he enjoyed it and would definitely eat it again. A win!

So, today’s challenge was, a cashew cream sauce. Vegan with no milk or cream products. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Alfredo sauce without cream, butter or cheese?” I promise, you won’t miss them. The cashews provide a delicious creaminess, in addition to my secret ingredient cannelloni beans. Because this is a vegan recipe, I was trying to up the protein content. One way to make this a more well rounded meal is to use actual whole wheat pasta. And this sauce would be delicious over pasta. But I wanted to make zoodles, or zucchini noodles with my spiralizer. And to make things even more interesting, I used both yellow squash and zucchini.

If you’re post hard workout, I might add in some additional protein. Whole beans added to the pasta, seitan crumbles or even the Quorn that I cooked (and wrote about) a few nights ago. If you’re not post hard workout, this should be sufficient. And I want to highlight another ingredient-nutritional yeast.

Nutritional yeast: deactivated yeast, that tastes similar to cheese. It also provides a hearty punch of the B vitamins, including B-12, which vegans need to supplement with. B-12 is not found in plants, at least not in high enough amounts.

1 tbsp of nutritional yeast= 15kcal, 1g of carbohydrate, 2g of protein, and 75-100% of the B-vitamins (depending on the vitamin).

The Blendtec did a wonderful job creaming the cashews and creating a smooth sauce. With normal blenders you need to soak the cashews for 1-12 hours. With the Blendtec you don’t need to. It took less then a minute to blend the entire sauce, cashews, beans and all. It was quick and easy, but I do understand the one complaint about the Blendtec, it is loud. All in all, I’m very happy with it so far.

The recipe for the Alfredo/Cashew cream sauce will make about 2.5 cups. You can either cut this recipe in half, or make the whole recipe and freeze the rest. You could also use it for the week, if you plan on eating it within a few days. I’ve never frozen it, however I’ve heard that it will be fine. You might just need to blend it a bit when thawing it.

I also used my new Spiralizer to make zoodles (zucchini noodles). This was easy and a lot of fun. I used zucchini and yellow squash, however regular whole wheat or gluten free noodles would be just fine. This way I added a lot more veggies, made something fun and unusual and just changed up a typical dinner.

IMG_4926

Summer Squash Noodles with Mushroom “Alfredo” Sauce (Serves 4)

Cashew Cream:

• 1 cup unsalted cashews
• 1 cup of cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
• 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 shallot
• ¾ cup-1.25cups of vegetable broth (depending on thickness desired)
• 1 lemon squeezed
• 5 large basil leaves
• Salt and pepper to taste

  1. 1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You might need to scrape the sides of the blender or add additional broth if desired.
  2. This makes 2.5 cups of cream. The recipe below will only use about 1/3-1/2 of the sauce.

Summer Squash Noodles:

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 8oz mushrooms, sliced
• 2 medium zucchini-spiralized
• 2 medium summer squash-spiralized
• ¼ cup fresh parsley/basil, chopped
• Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. 1. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Swirl 1 tbsp olive oil around.
  2. Add garlic and saute for :30. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes until softened.
  3.  Stir in mushrooms and let cook until starting to wilt.
  4. While mushroom are cooking, spiralize your noodles. I find cutting the squash into 3 inch chunks makes it easier to spiralize. Also, when creating your noodles, I find it easier to cut the noodles every 4-6inches so they are more manageable to eat.
  5. Add the vegetables to the saute and cook about 3 minutes just to warm the noodles. You can also keep the zoodles raw and have a raw “pasta” salad.
  6. Stir in 3/4-1 cup of cashew cream into the vegetables. More or less cream per your desired amount.
  7. Stir in spices and serve.

Nutrition:

  • 253kcal
  • 31g carbohydrate
  • 13g protein
  • 10g fat
  • 8g fiber
  • 253mg sodium

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe. Happy cooking!

Joule Fuel, The Newest in Meal Replacements for Athletes

Joule Fuel, it’s pretty cool. That’s what I wanted the title of this blog post to be. But…then I decided it was too corny. Really though, it’s a pretty cool idea and meal replacement product. A few weeks ago while working a Rev3 race (Rev3 Rush in Richmond) I met the owner of a new nutrition/meal replacement product called Joule Fuel. The first thing I thought was, what a cool name. To those that don’t know, a Joule is a unit of energy mainly used in physics. But I thought it was pretty creative and I wanted to try the product.

It’s intriguing to me the thought of using a meal replacement for every meal. Intriguing because I love food, picking out fresh produce, preparing it, cooking it and creating delicious meals. So, the thought of having the same drink every meal wasn’t that appealing to me. But after talking with the owner Frank, I realized that while the drink was designed for that purpose, he was interested in just reaching out to athletes and other healthy adults who might want a drink that could fill in as an occasional meal.

And that’s how I would describe it to an athlete that was interested in this. So many times, athletes that I work with tell me they are too busy to eat, or often depending on the profession, may not have time to sit and eat lunch. Or, they are rushing out the door and skip breakfast. Even the 5 min meals that suggest are too much for them (at least they say). So I see where this product could come in handy.

I also have a soft spot for start-ups. Back in Oregon we took the biggest risk of our lives, opening our tri shop. We had no idea what we were doing, and it was scary. We made a lot of mistakes and learned quite a lot about ourselves, how to run a business and what it takes to succeed. So, when I met Frank (or any other start-up), I felt a sort of kindred spirit. Here is someone who is risking a lot, for something he is passionate about. So while I certainly don’t have thousands of blog followers (yet), I wanted to give him and his company a shout out. I can see how it would fit into a busy athlete’s life, and as long as they were only using it for that, I’d be ok with it. Here’s some more info on the product:

 

One Serving of Joule Fuel:

Calories 550kcal
Total Carbohydrates 58g
Fiber 9g
Sugar 5g
Total Fat 22g
Saturated Fat 3.5g
Protein 32g
Sodium 420mg

So, just looking at that, you’ve got a well-rounded meal replacement shake, that would be ready in 30 sec.

1st Ingredients: Whey protein, Organic Oat Flour, Organic Brown Rice Four, Almond Meal, Chia Seeds

-healthy protein, good complex carbs, heart healthy fat and omega 3 fatty acids

And you all should know by now, my favorite protein for athletes is whey protein. So if you’re a vegan or lactose intolerant (some can handle whey though), this isn’t a product for you. If you are not either, the fact that it’s 1st ingredient is whey is great.

From a micronutrient standpoint it has between 25- 100% + of the RDI. This is both good and potentially a negative. Some micronutrients are fine in the 1000% level-B vitamins and Vit C. The fat soluble vitamins have a lower toxicity level, so if you were to drink this 5x a day, Vit. E would be fairly high. As long as you are only replacing one meal, or an occasional meal, this will be fine.

Positives:

  1. It tastes good (I tried 2 flavors-chocolate cookies and cream and vanilla cookies and cream)
  2. It’s easy to prepare
  3. Time efficient
  4. Inexpensive (if only using 1 meal a day) at $3/meal
  5. It can help you get the correct level of macronutrients post workout. A lot of athletes struggle getting their 20g of protein post workout. This would provide that, in addition to good carb and fat sources.
  6. Organic, high quality ingredients
  7. Vegetarian

Negatives:

  1. If you ate this every day you’d potentially have too many micronutrients (potential fat soluble vitamin toxicity), and you would miss out on antioxidants from fruit and vegetables, in addition to the numerous other benefits from beans, legumes, fish, etc .
  2. Monotonous
  3. Not vegan
  4. Not dairy free
  5. Not sure if it’s certified gluten-free or kosher

All in all though, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. It’s like a thick smoothie. If interested, check them out at www.joulefuel.me.

The Anti-Inflammatory Super Power: Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice and tart cherry juice concentrate are pretty amazing. You look at the small little cherry and think “it’s a healthy fruit,” but it’s so much more. It’s an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant and even can help you sleep. Tart cherries are different from the normal cherries you find in the grocery. Those are sweeter varieties like Bing. And while they are delicious and provide many nutrients, the tart cherry is different. So you’ll need to look specifically for it.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits:

As we train, especially for long and intense events like ultra marathons and Ironman, our body undergoes inflammation induced pain and swelling. Many athletes turn to things like NSAIDs to provide relief, while they should be looking away from the medicine cabinet and instead to food sources. They are many great natural anti-inflammatories, but tart cherries are among the best. A 2010 study of marathoners showed that consuming tart cherry juice concentrate 5 days before the marathon, the day of the marathon and then 48 hours post race provided reduced inflammation and pain post marathon. The study concluded that “tart cherry juice appears to provide a viable means to aid recovery following strenuous exercise by increasing total antioxidative capacity, reducing inflammation, lipid peroxidation and so aiding in the recovery of muscle function.”

One of the great things about tart cherry juice is that it  has multiple studies which back up these claims. This was not a singular study that showed some benefit, there are dozens of reputable studies to examine.

Antioxidant Benefits:

Tart cherries provide an abundance of the antioxidant compound anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are a specific group of compounds found in various plant foods which also give fruit their characteristic red, blue and purple coloring. Antioxidants are crucial to athletes because as we train, our body produces free radicals causing oxidative damage. These compounds combat the free radicals, and are anti-oxidative. In addition to athletic benefits, they also provide protection against cancer, cardiovascular disease, degenerative disease, cognitive brain function and protect our gene DNA integrity.

Sleep Benefits:

Tart cherries are one of the foods that provides us with the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for our sleep cycles and regulating our circadian rhythms. Our body has an internal clock that tells us when to wake up, and when to go to sleep. It is often thrown off when we travel time zones causing sleep disturbances, or just when we can’t sleep. Melatonin can help to re-regulate our circadian rhythm. As athletes know, getting sleep is so important to recovery. A 2012 study with 20 subjects (in the European Journal of Nutrition) concluded that “the consumption of a tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in exogenous melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women and might be of benefit in managing disturbed sleep.” Melatonin should not be taken on a regular basis in a pill form, however I am fine with athletes taking tart cherry juice on a regular basis.

Tart cherry juice vs tart cherry juice concentrate:

Either method of consuming tart cherries is acceptable, however I find the concentrate easier to manage. The studies have shown that 8-12oz of juice, or 2 tbsp of concentrate provide the same benefits. I’d rather put the concentrate in a smoothie, or stir into some yogurt. You can feel free to drink the juice however.

*Fun side note:  1 serving (2tbsp) of tart cherry juice concentrate provides the equivalent of 80 cherries*

 

 

IMG_1130

Tart Cherry Recovery Smoothie: (Serves 1) GF, DF and Veg

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other preferred milk)
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1/2 cup cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp tart cherry juice concentrate
  • 1-2 tbsp ground flax or chia seeds
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey or vegan protein powder (20g of protein)
  • Ice if desired

1. Blend all ingredients together until desired consistency is reached.

Nutrition:

  • 387kcal
  • 62g carbohydrate
  • 24g protein
  • 6g fat
  • 8g fiber
  • 182mg sodium

*To make it more suitable for a larger athlete recovering, use a whole banana and 1 cup of cherries. You can also add 1 tbsp of nut butter and 1/4 cup of oats.

*To make it more suitable for a smaller athlete recovering, take out the banana altogether and use coconut or plain water.

Who Should Take This?

So while I really just work with athletes, tart cherry juice can be a great benefit to anyone who wants to be healthier. I’d start by taking 1-2 tbsp of tart cherry juice a day. For athletes training very intensely, I’d take 1-2 servings of 2 tbsp a day for at least a week and see how you feel. There isn’t really a toxicity to this, but not more then 4 tbsp a day is needed.

I’d love to hear if anyone has tried tart cherry juice and found a benefit, or hasn’t really felt a difference. Please comment below.

References:

1.Howatson G. (Scand J Med Sci Sports.) 2010 Dec;20(6):843-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01005.x. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running.

2.  Zafra-Stone. (Mol Nutr Food Res.) 2007 Jun;51(6):675-83. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention.

3. Howatson G. (Eur J Nutr.) 2012 Dec;51(8):909-16. doi: 10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7. Epub 2011 Oct 30. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality.

Risk and Regret

As we’re packing up our house, we’re finding things that we’ve long forgotten about. You know those things that you bring from one house to the next, only to find them again, 3 years later and think “oh yes, I remember that.” Well, that happened this morning, and what Brett found truly changed my life. Enough so that I want to share it with you all, so maybe it will give you the incentive to get out and try something new, to go for a goal, to dream what might be.

Back in my early 20’s, about 10 years ago, I was struggling with a lot. I had graduated college, but didn’t know which direction to go in, I was still battling an eating disorder, I didn’t have collegiate swimming for “protection” (aka-I lost my identity) and felt a bit lost in the world. To most that doesn’t sound like a lot, but to me, it was. Especially having been a competitive swimmer for the majority of my life, and then all of a sudden it was gone was very hard.

I can’t remember where I came across this piece of writing, but I wish I did. I’d like to tell you of that moment where I read it and my world changed. It didn’t, it was a slow and gradual process. But in the end, it did change my life. I took it to heart and slowly made decisions that weren’t the safe and easy decisions. I risked because I did not want to regret. And I am proud to say, that since my early 20’s, I have not had one regret. Everything that happens, good and bad, is meant to happen. We need to learn from our mistakes, change what needs to be changed and not make the same mistake again. As the years went on, the good started to take over the bad. And here I am, about to make another life change, excited for the future, and about to risk again. And no matter what happens, I will not regret it. Only good can come from things, you just need to know how to look at it.

Here are several examples:

1.Dealing with an eating disorder-yes, those years were mentally and physically tough, but it allowed me to see one of my future goals in life-to assist other young athletes in preventing future eating disorders.

2. Starting our tri shop in Oregon/becoming an entrepreneur- it was successful enough to pay the bills, but it wasn’t successful enough to live on. What it did allow was for me to be exposed to the inside world of endurance sports, which ultimately assisted me in getting the PowerBar job.

3. Tearing my hamstring, developing a nerve injury and being taken out of endurance sports for 2 years-this one was tough to see, but it’s now clear. The time I was given away from training allowed me to have time to focus on my family, my career, schooling, become a better coach with more empathy for injury, more grateful for the health I have, and ultimately, lead me to another career.

Yes, there is risk and reward. Risk in order to achieve more. But don’t be foolish, I’m not talking about taking risks where you are risking your health, your family or anything crazy. Don’t go to Vegas and put it all on black. That’s not the risk I mean. Think about what you really want in life, and don’t be afraid to go for it. If you’re in a job you hate, why? Think about what you truly want in life and go for it. If you have passion for something, you can make money at it and be successful. It’s scary at first, but take that leap of faith in yourself. And then if things don’t work out, sit back and think on it, you’re going to see the positive come out of the negative. It might take a few weeks, a few months or a few years, but eventually you’ll see a positive emerge. Don’t let a fear of regret hold you back.

So here it is, I hope it helps you the way it helped me:

*no author/title*

To reach out for another is to risk involvement

To expose one’s feelings is to risk exposing your true self

To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss

To love is to risk not being loved in return

To live is to risk dying

To hope is to risk despair

To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing

They may avoid suffering and sorrow but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love and live

Chained by their attitude they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom

Only a person who risks is free

 

Spice up the Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition: Ginger

Ginger is a root/flowering plant that is indigenous to China. It is now widely produced and is used in tea, as a kitchen spice, as nausea relief, and for athletic health including anti inflammatory and muscle soreness relief.

Growing up, ginger wasn’t a big part of my diet as we are Italian/English, and most ginger is found in Asian cooking. I will say we did use ginger in gingerbread cookies…yum. Now that I’ve been on my own and cooking for Brett and I, experimenting with different cultures and flavors is one of my favorite things. So in addition to enjoying ginger in our stir fries, noodle dishes, and things like chicken satay, I purposefully choose dishes that I can add it to. Smoothies are a new one for me. In order to blend to the best consistency, a high-powered blender is required (if using the root vs the powder).

So how does ginger benefit athletes, and how is it anti-inflammatory?

The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have been known and valued for centuries. During the past 25 years, many laboratories have provided scientific support for the long-held belief that ginger contains constituents with anti-inflammatory properties. The original discovery of ginger‘s inhibitory effects on prostaglandin biosynthesis in the early 1970s has been repeatedly confirmed. This discovery identified ginger as an herbal medicinal product that shares pharmacological properties with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” (1)

The belief is that ginger suppresses prostaglandin (lipid compounds that act like hormones) synthesis through inhibition of inflammatory cytokines. Pretty cool right?

My goal is bringing you both sides of the story, here’s a study that show’s some benefit, but it shows ginger is not the be all end all. This study showed that ginger does have the ability to manage our inflammation, however it is weaker than ibuprofen. That being said, it’s a spice, in doses I’m suggesting harmless and it can only help. So I’ll take the smallest benefit.

With increasing interest in alternatives to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents in the management of chronic inflammation, research is emerging on the use of food extracts. There is level II evidence for the use of ginger in ameliorating arthritic knee pain; however, the improvement is modest and the efficacy of ginger treatment is ranked below that of ibuprofen. More definitive research is required.” (2)

And more recently, a study was done in 2012 that looked at the inflammatory markers, and the protection from oxidative injury after consuming ginger. They did indeed find those that consumed ginger did show decreases in the 3 inflammatory markers they were studying.

Of the 3 cytokine mRNAs studied (TNF-α, IL-1α, and IL-6), TNF-α was the most sensitive responder to oxidized LDL-treated macrophages. Clove, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric were able to significantly reduce oxidized LDL-induced expression of TNF-α. Serum from those consuming ginger reduced all three inflammatory biomarkers. Ginger, rosemary, and turmeric showed protective capacity by both oxidative protection and inflammation measures.” (3)

To make it easier to understand and to sum up:

Ginger has repeatedly shown the ability to decrease inflammatory markers in the body. It might or might not be as effective as NSAIDs like Advil, however it won’t do any harm to try it. The only caveat to that is if you’re on blood thinners. So please check with your doctor first.

I recommend starting with 1-2 tsp in a meal or smoothie, and you can build up to 1 tbsp if you like. The root is more preferable to ground, and you can freeze it for easier grating. Or cut into chunks and pulverize with a high-powered blender (for smoothies).

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Thai Red Curry with Shrimp (3-4 servings)– Gluten free and dairy free
• 1 tbsp sesame oil, divided
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp Thai red curry paste (more to add spice)
• 1 lb peeled and deveined wild caught shrimp
• 4oz mushrooms, sliced
• ½ large red pepper, sliced thinly
• 2 cups broccoli florets
• ¼ cup red onion, shredded
• 1 cup snap peas
• ½ cup carrots, shredded
• 1 cup cabbage, shredded
• 14oz can lite coconut milk
• 2 tbsp fish sauce
• 2 tsp-1 tbsp fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
• 1 lime, squeezed
• ¼ cup cilantro/Thai basil, chopped

1. Over medium high heat, swirl ½ tbsp sesame oil around a non stick skillet/wok.
2. Add shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes or until opaque. Remove and set aside till later.
3. Add the remaining ½ tbsp sesame oil, red curry paste and garlic. Cook :30-:60, stirring.
4. Add all vegetables and saute, 3-4 minutes. They will cook quickly and you must be ready to throw them all in. Prepare ahead of time by pre-chopping the veggies. You can also use a pre-chopped stir fry mix, however add in additional veggies to make it even healthier. The more veggies the better.
5. After the 3-4 minutes, stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, ginger and lime. Stir to mix and till it starts to thicken. Remove from heat.
6. Top with cilantro or Thai basil.

*can be served over brown rice or brown rice noodles, or eaten alone

Nutrition: (no grains/rice)

  • 340kcal
  • 25g carb
  • 25g protein
  • 16g fat
  • 5g fiber
  • 1441mg sodium
References:
1. Ginger–an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. J Med Food. 2005 Summer;8(2):125-32.
2. Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the present, the future. Med J Aust. 2006 Aug 21;185(4 Suppl):S4-24.
3. Bioavailability of herbs and spices in humans as determined by ex vivo inflammatory suppression and DNA strand breaks. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Aug;31(4):288-94.