Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nutrition, what? huh?

Do you see these worms all over my floor?  Who opened that can?  Hmmm, I guess that would be me.  I had a feeling this would happen but I put it out there anyways.  Nutrition is so tricky to talk about.  Let me preface again by saying, I do not have my doctorate, nor am I a PH.D, nor a degree in biology, chemistry or physiology.  I am a runner, an average one at that, who has researched to find as much info as I can on diet and nutrition.  I've worked with many trainers and have asked a zillion questions.  I really should go back to school and get my own degree in Sports Nutrition.  But as of today, my 10+ years of trial and error is all I've got to work with.  I've received lots of good questions, thoughts and comments from all of you and I'm trying to figure out the best way to address them all...a few at a time I suppose...

Before I delve into those, I had my session with my trainer.  I have now been given permission to call him by name...  Zack. : )  I really haven't gone easy on him, but for those who've been following, I'm not messin' around.  I want results.  Tonight's session...nutrition.  I brought my food journal.  He gave a basic overview in a 45 minute discussion.  Can anyone make sense of his presentation?

What the crap?  I'm joking, we'll cut him some slack this's hard to write and talk at the same time.  I did pick up some useful info but really nothing that I am not familiar with. No miracle answers.  He showed the 'In vs. Out' diagram, knowing your RMR, and how your metabolism works, carbs, proteins, fats. According th Zach the trainer, did you know that 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories, 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, but 1 gram of fat = 9 calories?  Interesting...any comments on this?

We reviewed amino acids, how they work, break down and about blood sugar levels. We pulled out the microscope and looked at some slides of mitochondria while we were at it too...  : )  I'm giving him a hard time but it was good info and good reminders.  He knew his stuff.  We went over my food journal and I'm eating good.  I'm in a good range for caloric intake.  Without actually going into a lab, running on a treadmill with hoses and electrodes attached to my body to find out exactly what my VO2 max is, I'm pretty close to where I should be.  I have home brew for my body and I have figured out how they work for me, hopefully some of my home brew works for you too. I know my eating isn't perfect but it's a work in progress.  Don't worry everyone, I'm eating enough.  I'm not wasting away just yet.  As of tomorrow, bring on the carbs!  For the last 2 races I began loading 3 days before a race and I really feel like it's made a big difference!  I use to just carboload the night before.  Now I'm stacking those reserves for a few days, putting on an extra pound or two and I think it's one of the things that's helped me through the past couple of races.  Now, I'm not talking about stuffing my face, carbo-loading.  Just 2 or 3 extra servings a day and then a carb heavy dinner the night before.  Mmmmm, mouth is watering just thinking about it... : ) I will definitely report on my post-race meal - it will absolutely include a tall glass of ice cold Coke, with a touch of favorite.

How about my Intake vs. Outtake? Obviously some days you workout harder than others so your calories may be different. Different in the sense of what you're eating pre-workout and post-workout to benefit your efforts.  However, you're always looking for a deficit when you're in weight loss mode.  Now I hate saying this, but I would like to drop ten pounds.  And here's a few reasons why.  One, it would definitely make my runs easier to be a little lighter.  Also, I'm at a decent weight but I'm not as tone as I would like.  I have some layers of fat that need to shrink a bit.

Another Zack the Trainer tidbit for today...Did you know that you cannot lose fat?  You can't work it off.  It shrinks or it expands - you are born with the same amount of fat cells that you will die with. I'd heard this before but I am not sure what to think about that one. I would love for you guys to chime in with your thoughts and expertise on this one. What have you heard on this subject? Would like to hear your comments. I'll do a little more research as well. I also want to tone up more to gain a little more muscle. The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn throughout the day.  Definite advantage to add muscle. 

Back to my point, eating close to the same every day with healthy meals will keep that blood sugar level consistent, which will in turn keep your metabolism even.  You want to keep a nice even eating pattern without big spikes or dips to maintain healthy weight loss.  We don't want our bodies to go into starvation mode and start eating muscle - that would not be good. On the other hand, bingeing and eating high calories, especially carbs, makes that blood sugar spike and fall quickly. When the body digests and uses what it can there's excess left over (extra calorie intake) which converts to fat. So, I stand corrected...calorie intake does revolve around what kind of activity you do from day to day, but staying in the same range will benefit the grand scheme of it all. Try and keep it even my friends.

Now I don't own a Garmin, or a heart rate monitor.  I'm old school.  Not by choice, I'd love a Garmin but these races aren't gonna pay for themselves, they are pricy! If it came with a music player, a water dispenser for my long runs and could convert into an automatic scooter when I was done, then maybe I would consider one...;)  Hopefully down the line I'll be able to afford one and enjoy all the fun technology that awaits me. For now, I measure the old fashioned way. When my son is tired but won't go down for a nap, we jump in the car for a ride (10 minutes and he's out) and its a great way for me to discover new running routes and measure mileage. I also gauge my physical acitivty by asking myself the following questions...Can I have a normal conversation while I'm working out or running? How hard am I breathing? Check my pulse manually. Do I feel like I'm going to pass out? Can I finish out my run or do I need to call my husband to come pick me up again? Hahahaha!  It really has worked so far for what I've done and I look forward to stepping up my game to improve my performance.

On average, I burn 80 to 90 calories per mile I run.  My RMR is 1406 for my height, weight and age.  I burn roughly 500 calories during an hour strength training session.  I even have a breakdown of how many calories I should eat at each meal of the day. I have a lot of info. I also have a life too. I'm a wife and mother of five busy children. It's the end of summer and school is starting. Say hello to basketball, soccer, ballet, jazz, guitar, piano, art lessons, scouts, homework, friends and family time.  I can only manage so much on any given day. I'm trying, but it's a real challenge to get so precise sometimes.

So here I am again working with a trainer. The next level is calling my name.  I can hear it.  I'm close.  I'm not trying to win any races here, just hit a sub 4 marathon, get lean and tone.  Qualifying for Boston would be icing on the cake.  I need to work harder and in different ways. I definitely need to keep monitoring and journaling what I eat and when.  Zack said next week 'It's on'! He's bringing his A game and I'm ready to throw down.  Whoever cries uncle first has to buy the other a protein shake at the gym bar & grill.  There will be no need for me to be bring my's on!

I hope some of the tidbits that help me, help you. As we are all different, I aim to give basic, sound nutrition advice that works for me...good rules of thumb.  However, I see that many of you are just like me and want as many details as you can.  For those who have sent me specific questions to my inbox, I welcome them and enjoy the conversations we have regarding your specific needs. I am happy to help! Numbers, percentages, rankings and results...that's what we like. These are the indicators that help us know if we are on the right track. Hopefully what I share with you here helps to keep you on track to acheive your goals. I always welcome your questions, comments and advice. Shoot me an email. I also welcome corrections if anything I share with you is different than what you have heard in your training.

Oh yeah, and I'm going to be on TV tonight!  What!?!?!?  I'll tell you more about it tomorrow!


  1. Didn't know bout the fat cell thing, that's interesting. I'm terrible with my diet (definitely not as balanced as it should be) although I've been trying. I'm sure a food journal would be very beneficial, it would definitely help me cut down the snacking.

    Look forward to hearing about your camera time. :)

  2. Thanks for all of this GREAT information! I love it. The more detail, the better. ;-)

    Have fun on TV tonight! I'd say that I'll watch, but we don't watch TV. ;-) Maybe I can catch it on the internet.

  3. You're supposed to at least tell us when to watch!...what is your "home brew?"

  4. i have been trying to decide whether to get my masters in nutrition education, ESL, or reading intervention. i think i'll just get a PhB* in nutrition education from you.

    *Ph Blog. It counts, right??

  5. Nicely done. I'm pretty sure most of that was aimed at me, but for the benefit of everybody. Like I said, well done. You seem to know your numbers, and what's going in and what's coming out. I still think you should look into a polar heart monitor, but even they are a bit pricey. I guess it's just more data in the end. You're talking to an engineer here, we love data. Remind me to show you my weight loss spreadsheet one day. :-) Have fun in Park City. Good luck!