Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sensible Sports Nutrition: Running and enjoying the journey

As some of you know, I trained for and completed my first Half Marathon Saturday October 15, 2011.  In my younger years (high school) I ran sprints and hurdles in track along with all year round soccer.  I continued soccer through my college years and in my twenties through club and co-ed teams and also ran, mostly for exercise, right up until I had children.  I would say I’ve always been an athletic person by nature but running anything more than 200 yards really wasn’t my cup of tea.
As years passed on, I started my family and was very lucky to have two beautiful children seventeen months apart.  Boy did that put some stress on my body!  After three years of being pregnant and breast feeding you can imagine how off my game I was with the whole physical activity aspect of life. 
For a dietitian, who has always been active, you can imagine how lost I felt as I continued to put myself at the bottom of the priority list.  So, last October I went out and bought a treadmill.  My youngest was 20 months old and I was ready to get myself back to where I wanted to be.  I began running 3 miles four times a week and combining it with spinning (I had purchased a spin bike for myself the Christmas before).  As I continued to change eating habits, the last of my baby weight came off quite nicely and quickly and in April of this year I ran my first 5K. 
I have to say I loved the 5K.  I surprised myself and ran faster than I thought and the atmosphere is one that someone like me thrives in.  There’s nothing like a bunch of health conscious people cheering you on as you do something that most people despise.  I completed 2 more 5K’s after that and then ran an 8K July 3rd.    While running on vacation the next week, my buddy said, “You’d really like a half marathon.  You should think about doing one.”  Are you kidding me, a half marathon?  That is 13.1 miles and I’ve only ran 5 miles max.  Either way I thought and thought about it and when I came home I told myself, I’ll run 8 miles and see how I feel. If I can do this and feel good, I’ll train for a half.  I ran the 8 miles and felt good and voila I signed up for The Baltimore Running Festival half marathon.
When I crossed the finish line of the Half Marathon I was VERY happy.  I wasn’t as emotional when I finished was because I never doubted I could do this not even one time during the race.   I contribute that to the mental and physical training I completed.
I feel like my training was excellent and will share some of my tips for you to try if you plan on any endurance training in the future.
1)       Create your plan and stick to it.  It is imperative that you build your miles for the long runs slowly and do not skip these runs.  Your body will thank you at the end of the race when it’s familiar with the mileage.
2)      Do speed work.  Yes it sucks but it is very worth it.
3)      Focus on your nutrition and get it down during your training.  I tweaked this during my long runs until I got what was right for me.  Some do not need to eat prior to running and some do.  I found that I needed at least 15 grams of a carbohydrate with a little protein prior to long runs (anything over 8 miles for me). 
4)      Replenish your body after your runs.  Again, for me, it was very important for me to eat at least 30 grams of carbohydrates and some protein after my long runs.  I did faint once when I neglected to do this and the headache that I had after long runs without proper nourishment was horrific.
5)      Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Before every run I drank 7-10 ounces of water and for any of my   runs that were longer than 45 minutes I had a “hot” fanny pack I ran with to insure I drank a couple ounces every 15 minutes. 
A week after I finished my half marathon I signed up for the inaugural DC Rock N Roll half marathon, St Patty’s day next year!   I look forward to the journey and training to cut my time.  Who’s doing it with me?
Me after finishing the race

My team: Husband, daughter and son who is hiding

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post: Recovery and Strength - a guest blog by Sarah

Read below as  Sarah writes about recovery and strength.  Sarah is hopeful and determined and making strides each and every day.  Let's cheer her on as she continues to gain strength through her recovery process.

In the past several weeks, I have been on the threshold of recovery's door demonstrating a balancing act most trapeze artists would be in awe of. Each time I have found myself faced with which direction to step, each time, I somehow found the strength to step towards change and recovery.
In my opinion recovery is different for every one. So I had to stand back and ask myself “What is recovery to me?” Is recovery the switch that has gone off in my head which says, “Fight harder! You are not going to let this control you anymore!”? Is it the ghost of a friend saying, “What are you doing?! I had no choice in my death, you do! Wake up!”? Is recovery the hope and dream to one day wake up and never have to think about food? Is it the chance to finally be comfortable with my body image, to love and accept myself for who I am, imperfect and flawed? Is recovery realizing I can't change the past and to understand I will never know or control my future? To me, recovery is finding the answer to all of those questions. But more importantly it is finding the inner strength to not only continue on a positive path to recovery but to one day say I beat this.
For awhile now I have been confused when people have told me I am strong person. How can I be so strong when I have never felt so weak and defeated before. But I am slowly coming to realize strength isn't how far you can run, or how much weight you can lift, or even how much emotional baggage you can endure without breaking. Strength is knowing when you are weak. Strength is asking for and accepting help. Strength is realizing you have the power inside of you to break the on going cycle and accept change as a necessary and positive force. Strength is understanding you are not truly able to help others until you have helped yourself. Strength is learning and growing from each set back that comes with being in recovery. Recovery isn't easy, but nothing in life worth having ever is. Finding the will to keep moving forward is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I have been given one life and I know doing anorexia forever is not the way I want to spend it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Family Nutrition: Parents- Powerful or Powerless When it comes to Food Choices by Toddlers

I see clients of all ages, from infancy to geriatrics.  The common theme of all of my clients is at one time or another they were toddlers.  Sometimes I see older clients who describe early patterns that I suspect are partly responsible for the way a current client eats or “diets.”  At other times, I see toddlers who “rule their roost” and need a little nudge from their parents for a stricter regimen.
I’ve written a lot about toddlers.  Mostly because I think this is a very specific time to start introducing good nutrition habits, but also because I am in the toddler zone with a four and almost three year old.  This is a time when textures, smells, and taste can be very scary.  If you mix that in with a child who is developing their independence, this can be one challenging time.
I have many parents ask me what the right thing to do is for their toddler and I’ve addressed this in some of my other articles (check them out by searching toddler in the blog search).  Here are a couple of things I will also suggest.
1)      At the age of 2, start offering your toddler the same meal you are cooking for the “adults.”
2)      Recognize that textures, smells, and taste can be sensitive to your toddler, but always stick with making the toddler try each item on their plate.
3)      Pay attention to portion size.  New items are overwhelming and portions should not be too big.
4)      When coordinating your meal, insure that there is one item that you are sure the child will eat.  This becomes the “safe” food.
5)      If your child refuses to eat any of the new items and asks for more of the “safe” food be firm and explain to the child that they can get more of the “safe” food if they eat or try the other accompanying foods.
6)      Be specific when you are talking about how much needs to be eaten of the accompanying foods.  Toddlers are smart and manipulative.  If you generally tell them to eat something they will expect and demand more of that safe food after one taste.
7)      If it becomes a battle and your child will not try the new items, simply excuse the child from the table to avoid a negative experience. 
8)      If your child complains of hunger offer an apple or other fruit or a vegetable.  If children are hungry they will eat what they are offered.  If they refuse it, they’re most likely not as hungry as their temper.

Are you reading this and thinking yeah right?  I get it.  There have been many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel, but my end goal to have  responsible children who understand the true meaning of food for fuel always wins out. You as the parent are the number one controlling factor for instilling healthy nutrition to your child.  If you are consistent with your behavior your child will start to understand that food is for fuel and that leaving a table without eating anything but ¼ of rice results in a hungry stomach.  Your smart and manipulative toddler will soon learn that he/she will need to eat dinner to prevent hunger and fatigue in the future.
Research proves my thought that the parent is powerful.  A recent research study completed at Texas A&M University studied 75 children ages 3 to 5.  In the study, the toddlers watched two shows.  One show had commercials primarily advertising french fries and another advertised apples and dipping sauces.   After the shows were completed, toddlers were allowed to pick a coupon of either the french fries or the apples.  Parents were asked to provide input, half who encouraged their child to eat healthy and half who were neutral. 
Seventy five percent of the toddlers who watched the french fry commercials chose french fries if their parents remained neutral but when parents encouraged healthy choices this number dropped to 55%.  Forty six percent of the toddlers who watched the commercials with the apple slices picked french fries and when parents encouraged healthy choices only 33% continued to pick the french fries.
This study showed that advertisements do have an influence on children’s choices; however parents encouragement to eat healthy was able to undo some of the messages by commercials. 
Parents you aren’t powerless.  Be consistent, be a good role model, and may the force be with you to be patient.  Good luck and be well.
The picky toddler not happy with his choice

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