Category Archives: Nutrition

I Scream, You Scream

We all scream for ice cream!

Recently my husband bought a gelato maker and it’s awesome!

We don’t eat a ton of ice cream but this time of year we eat a bit more than normal. It’s hard to find ice cream that’s reasonably priced with good ingredients, meaning that it’s corn syrup free. We’ve been happy with Bryer’s All Natural and Turkey Hill All Natural, the latter we haven’t been able to find in the stores lately.

So now we are making our own. It’s great because we can make it with soy milk or with cream and we can control the ingredients – a true benefit of making it yourself.

So far we’ve made blueberry, banana and chocolate mint. All have tasted incredible but I think the banana might be my favorite so far.

We’ve bought some frozen fruits like peaches and cherries to use in our future ice cream experiments. I look forward to being creative and making some interesting flavors. One in particular will be lemon – that should be the best.

Counting Calories

I’m on a mission to lose some weight. During my vacation at the first of September I put on 5 pounds from eating and drinking out all the time. Then somehow I managed to put on 5 more pounds between then and the new year.

Now it’s time to get rid of some of this unwanted weight. My first task is to take off the 10 pounds I put on in the last 4 months of the year. My second task will be to shed a few more pounds after that.

Of course one method of losing weight will be through exercise. Another important method is to count calories.

I’ve used the “Lose It” application on my iPhone to track what I’ve been eating and calories. Although this is a good way to count calories I found it a little frustrating because there were a lot of items not listed in food categories.

Recently a friend told me about Livestrong‘s “My Plate” food diary. This is an  free online service where you can log your consumption and expenditure of calories.Of course they have an upgraded paid service as well that offers more reports, features, and saves your information for a much longer time, if not forever.

I thought I’d check it out. Turns out, it’s a great tool! The food listings are quite extensive and easy to modify if you make a mistake. I use this religiously throughout the day to log my food and estimate how much I can eat for dinner without overeating. (This also lets me know if I can splurge on a piece or two of chocolate after dinner.)

You start out by inputting your age, weight, height and how many pounds you want to lose within a certain time frame. Then you start logging your food and workouts. If you weigh yourself on a regular basis then you can update your weight as frequently as daily to track your progress.

After using this site for almost a week I”m happy to report I’ve lost 3 1/2 pounds. That’s pretty significant. Of course I know that it’s always much easier to lose those first few pounds that it is to lose the last few.

The important thing to remember is this helps to keep me motivated. So much so that I almost dread having dinner with friends Friday night. It will be harder to track the calories I take in by eating something I haven’t prepared myself. That’s a great reason for eating at home as opposed to eating out, which is what got me to this point in the first place! Still, I enjoy eating out and it will be a social event with friends we haven’t seen in a while. I’ll just have to be smart about my food options throughout the day and leave a little room for a bit more consumption, just in case there are some hidden calories in my restaurant food.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out MyPlate and are in the market to count some calories, I recommend giving it a try. And for those of you with iPhones, yes, there is an app for that!

More on Bananas

I recently received this as one of those forwarded emails. I can’t verify all these health benefits to eating bananas but it’s definitely food for thought!

Banana

Bananas Contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit.  It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and  conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression:

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after  eating a banana. This is because bananas contain
tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you  relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel better.

PMS:

Forget the pills — eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia
:
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure:

This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food  and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry  to  make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power:

200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex  England
) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist  learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation:

High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers:

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to  make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels,  while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn:

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:

Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites:

Before  reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin.  Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves:

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?

Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at  5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs.  The  report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood  sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers:

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness.  It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control:

Many other cultures see  bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand ,  for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the  natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking:

Bananas can  also  help people trying to give up smoking.  The B6 and B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress:

Potassium is a vital mineral which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance.  When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels.  These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes:

According to research in ‘The New  England Journal of Medicine,’ eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death from strokes  by as much as 40%!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills.  When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods  around.  So maybe it’s time to change that well-known  phrase  so that we say, ‘A banana a day keeps the doctor away!’

Footnote:
If your roses are covered with Aphids, drape banana skins over the branches,  It’s amazing, but in a day or less, they are GONE!

Lesson Learned

I’ve posted before about my issue with cramping. I’ve tried electrolytes such as Nuun Tabs and Accelerade. Sometimes I don’t cramp with these products and sometimes I do.

Recently I’ve gotten so I digest a Cliff Shot Gel or Cliff Shot Bloks prior to a ride. That habit has served me well to give me the boost of energy I need for the ride. And surprisingly I haven’t had an issue with cramps.

Tonight I went out on a local group ride with no gel or bloks. Upon the first significant climb I started cramping. First it was in my right calf, then the left. Sheesh! Then I realized I missed taking in a gel before the ride because I was rushing to make the ride, which is starting earlier these days due to fading daylight.

It’s funny that I haven’t given much thought to my cramping issue lately because it hasn’t happened. However, tonight when it did happen, I could almost pinpoint the reason. Or at least what I think is the reason. Next time I’ll take the time to grab a gel before I leave for the ride.

Recommended Reading

A while ago I posted a couple books I purchased: The Paleo Diet for Athletes and Base Building for Cyclists.

I started reading Base Building while on the trainer last season. But why read a book about something you are in the middle of? It was like putting the cart before the horse, or beside it. So I stopped reading it.

My goal was to get through the Paleo Diet book this summer so I could get going  on the Base Building book before base building starts up at the beginning of the year. My problem is that I just don’t seem to have the time to read. I like to read at bedtime but by the time I’m in bed I’m so exhausted and after a couple pages I can’t keep my eyes open any more.

I am happy to report I have finally finished the Paleo Diet. It was very good, though not a stretch from my normal eating habits, since I’ve been eating according to my blood type for several years now, and I’m a Type O. However, the book was a reminder that I need to be eating better. So I’m on a misson to do just that.

I still need to make some notes on the Paleo Diet book to keep them handy and accessible for reference going forward. (Yup, I’m a bit anal that way.)

Now on to the Base Buidling book. It’s interesting that this book references good eating habits as well, reinforcing what I just read. It was as if they go hand in hand and I’m glad I am reading them in this order. Of course the off season training is a ways off so this will give me plenty of time to digest the information and make the appropriate notes before I begin working on next season.

Going Bananas

While in the store this weekend I was buying a bunch of bananas, which I buy once or twice a week. I actually prefer to buy them in smaller quantities and more freqently because I don’t like them very ripe. I prefer my bananas barely yellow. Anything more tastes like mush to me. (But the upside is that I’ll have bananas for banana bread!)

As I stood in line at the cash register, I started thinking more about bananas. For me it’s the perfect fruit. It’s easily portable, doesn’t require a lot to eat one (no knife needed to peal or cut it), and the “wrapper” can be discarded easily in nature if you have a banana on a ride.

I tend to eat a fair bit of bananas. I often have one for snack at work, or as part of my breakfast, or in a bowl of fruit or in a smoothy following a ride.

Sometimes it’s hard to find some fruits when they are out of season, or at least they are more expensive. But bananas never seem to vary. They are less than a dollar per pound, which is really the best deal going compared to many other fruits. For this reason, I wonder how many pounds of bananas are sold every day/month/year. The banana section of the grocery store seems to always being turned over, which is good to keep the fruit fresh.

To me I think bananas are the perfect fruit. Don’t get me wrong, I love cherries, as I’ve posted before, in addition to fresh figs, pears, cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, and all kinds of berries. I haven’t gotten much into the exotic fruits such as passion fruit and pomegranites. Though I must admit I’ve had persimons before and find them to be very tasty.

So what’s your “perfect fruit” and why do you feel that way?

Trek Across Maine – Day 2

June 20th, 2009: Day 2 started out wet. As we walked to drop off our luggage and pick up our bikes it starte to rain. Luckily it didn’t last long. Still, the roads were wet, which meant eventually we would be a little wet just from the tire spray.

Right before we departed, I caught a glimps of blue sky. A ray of hope that didn’t amount to much.

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Not only were the roads wet but we hit a fair bit of heavy drizzle off and on. I wasn’t thinking and had my feet in the 6 and 12 position at one point when coasting, which caused the spray from my front tire to soak my shoe, and then eventually my foot. Stupid move!

As was the case with the last two years, it took me a long time to get my legs back from the day before. I’m not sure why that is but it’s always been the case.

I started out with a friend and a couple of his friends and eventually had to tell them to forge ahead without me – I just didn’t have it to hang on. Eventually though a small train of 3 guys came by and I snatched onto a wheel. My friend Tracey decided after a while that getting a facefull of spray from a wheel in front of her was not how she wanted to spend her day and fell off the back.

We ended up picking up another guy from the Greater Portland area and we rode together all the way to the first rest stop. (Later I found out that they were all from Portland.)

Along the way my chain was not cooperating and new I needed to have that extra link taken out from my repair a couple weeks ago. I told some other friends not to wait for me and I’d see them at the next rest stop. I actually didn’t find them at the next one and it was only a few miles more to the last one so I forged on and ended up meeting up with them there.

I have to say that I enjoyed that part of the day very much. It was just me riding tempo for several miles. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else and just rode my bike at my own pace. My only regret was that I didn’t have my iPod to keep me company, which of course are not allowed.

At one point I went by a guy with a blue and yellow Aegis. I also passed him the day before and told him, “Nice bike” so I said it to him again. As I pulled to the front he replied, “nice legs.” I had to laugh. It was the best reply I had heard in a long time. I wondered after if he was referring to my blue knee warmers.

After meeting up with my friends at the last rest stop we rode together to the finish at Colby College. I pulled for most of the way out of choice. I needed the workout and the legs finally felt good.

During this Trek I also focused on my nutrition by making sure I was taking in enough shot bloks and gels on a regular basis, along with electrolytes, to ward off the cramps. It seemed to work because I didn’t have one cramp the entire time. It also wasn’t scortching hot so my salt loss was a lot less than other times. Still, I’ll continue with this type of regimen to see if it continues to make a difference.

Annual Memorial Day Ride

Yesterday was the 6th annual CCCP Memorial Day ride in the White Mountains of NH, and my third year participating.

I was very excited for this almost 85 mile ride with almost 6000 feet of climbing for a few reasons: this ride always makes me stronger, I love the people on this ride, my husband was driving the sag wagon, and the weather was supposed to be perfect. Well, except for the fact that it was windy as all get out, which I didn’t realize until we started. Predicted gusts of 30 mph – not fun, but I was on my way and not turning back.

The Departure

4 of us piled into the car and left our house at 7:30 for the 1+ hour ride to Fryeburg, the start location of the ride. Upon arrival I realized that I had forgotten my kit jersey at home. What a bonehead move! Instead of wearing it to the event, I decided to wear a t-shirt instead and change when I got there but I forgot to throw the jersey in my bag.

This is what I was supposed to be dressed in:

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This is actually how I looked:

DLM leaving Red Jersey-25May2009

Luckily another rider had brought extra jerseys – it would have sucked to have done the ride in a t-shirt!

After a brief “meeting” and group photo we were on our way.

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The Climbing

There were about a dozen of us that chose the alternate route that took us in through North Conway to rendevoux with the main group that rode up over Hurricane Mountain Road, which averages 10% grade with a maximum of 16%. They traveled up the steeper side and it’s a two mile climb. Yeah. I’m never going to try to bike it. It’s not so much the climbing as it is the descending for me.

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Taken by my husband as he followed the group up over Hurricane Mountain Road.

After a brief stop at the Red Jersey we were on our way. The group stayed together with a moderate pace until we turned onto Route 16. I struggled early on when so many riders passed me. A club member, Fred, asked how I was feeling. I said I should be this spent so early on. Then somehow I found my legs and I was able to stay with the group. Or at least until the same spot I lost contact last year.

The wind was brutal on the ascent of Pinkham Notch. However, it seemed nothing compared to the descent. I have never been so tired from a descent in my life. The wind would either blow you to one side or another, or even bring you to a hault from the head wind. Not only was it physically taxing, but mentally taxing, too.

I was happy to get half way down the descent of Pinkhams Notch to realize I had gone down the steepest section already. The same section that terrified me the past two years didn’t seem so bad at all. I’m definitely getting more comfortable on the descents!

50 miles in I had a friend that flatted. He grabbed a tire from the sag and everyone went by us when he was changing it. I chose to stay back with him, as we had talked about riding together. After such a long break it took me a while to get my legs under me again. By the time we got onto Evans Notch they were back and ready for the climb.

Evans Notch is my favorite climb I have ever ridden. We acsend the Gorham, NH side and descend the Maine side. It’s a small incline for most of the way. I just found my rhythm, as I often do on this climb, and just held a steady pace. My friend was struggling a bit and I made him sit behind me. He dropped off a couple times and I soft pedalled until he was back on my wheel. (On a side note, the header photo of the top of this blog was taken of this same friend, James, on Evans Notch two years ago.)

Right before the grade kicks up, he told me to go ahead, to catch and pass the few riders in front of us. I asked him if he was sure, I wouldn’t have left him but I would have told him the same thing if the situation was reversed. So I forged ahead alone, passed three riders, and finished the climb strong. Though I didn’t remember the steeper section being quite so long.

Again, I handled the descent off Evans better this time around. Then it was a long trip back. It’s always the last 15 miles that are the worst. There are a few rollers that seem to just kill the legs. Then you have the long flat sections along the potato fields where the wind blows. This time it was gusting and a few times we had to lean hard into the wind to avoid getting blown into the road. 

The Finish

I finished the day beating my average mile per hour slightly from last year. Not too bad considering all the wind. I also suffered no cramps on the ride – not even any hint of cramps. I tried to eat properly on the bike and did that a bit with the help of some shot block type chews. I made sure I drank a full bottle between stops and alternating between water and electrolyte drinks. Lunch consisted of a tuna sandwich because I knew it would have a good amount of sodium, though it was hard to choke it down. I find that during and after hard rides I can’t eat, even though I know how important it is. So it’s a matter of forcing myself to eat. I remember hearing a professional bike racer state that the worst part about racing is eating enough after the race. I could never understand that until now.

I simply love this ride every year. It’s one of the best rides I do all year. And I’ll do it again next year if it’s not raining. So far we’ve been lucky with three consecutive nice weather rides and I hope it continues.

 

 


Sunday Crit Series Race

It’s been a couple weeks since I participated in the Scarborough Crit Series race. The last time the wind was blowing at 20 or 25 mph and gusting to 35 mph. It was time to get back out there again today.

I wasn’t sure if I’d have the legs for it after yesterday’s race. The issue was had I hydrated and eaten properly to recover.

The plan was to ride to the race. If the legs felt good I’d play. I told my husband I’d ride a couple laps to see how I felt and bail if I needed. He chided me to talking like a quitter and giving me an out. He urged me to ride it, dig deep, and not give up.

The first two laps were the worst. I dropped off the back but worked hard to catch back on, burning matches in the process. After the first two laps I settled in and acclimated to the pace. It was such a good group today and several of us were chatting in the back. I had on my Fatty jersey so that was a topic of discussion with some.

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On the 11th lap someone took a flyer after the first turn and I couldn’t hang and dropped back. So it was a 1 1/2 lap time trial for me. Luckily I passed another rider, Scott, so I wasn’t DFL. Woo Hoo!

The first lap was also designated as the women’s preme lap. I was in the middle-back but watched Meg and Julie move up. I was able to hug the yellow line and move up, stealth like, and slide in just behind Julie. Neither one of them knew I was there until I blew past with more than 200 meters to go. I heard Julie speak an expletive and I grinned to myself. But as soon as I launched I knew I had gone with too much distance to cover. They eventually swarmed me on either side and Julie took the preme.

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I might have been better off to sit on one of their wheels for a 100 meters before going. Even so, it was great fun. Eventually I’ll get it.

Turtle Pond Race Recap

What’s worse than DFL? DNF.

I went to the Turtle Pond circuit race today. My goal was to hang on, have fun and learn.

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There was talk of launching the Pro1/2’s with the Cat 3/4’s but the decided not to do that after all.

We hit the road at 1:25pm. The first climb up Oak Hill Road was neutral, something I was very thankful for.

I managed to hold on throughout the first 8 miles of the 11+ mile course. It was the short steep pitch that I was dropped on, which I figured would happen.

I chased but most of the front group was gone.

I managed to hook up with a few CVC/Subaru team members and a few other gals. They got a little organized and started working together. I assured some of the CVC gals that I wouldn’t break them up (it looked like they wanted to remain together) so I hung out behind them. They worked their way to the front of our 7 man group and I offered to take pulls if they wanted. They were happy for the help and the 7 of us ended up taking pulls.

And then it happened. The thing that happens often when I ride hard, in particular during hilly routes: the cramps started to set in. Mostly in the inside of my thighs.

I was thoroughly disappointed. I would have finished the ride if it wasn’t for that.

I even got off the bike during the race and stretched, to no avail. On the next time they were still there, ready to cramp hard. I even had to embarrassingly walk up the steep climb for fear of a cramp setting in and not being able to get off the bike.

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I didn’t eat much before the ride and even though I was drinking a lot, it wasn’t enough.

The weather was brutally hot in the afternoon. When we were done and heading home at 4pm the outside temperature gauge on the car, which is pretty accurate, read 90 degrees! Everyone was complaining about how hot it was. Out of 45+ riders, less than 30 finished the race. Many of the girls abandoned due to stomach cramps, so I guess I wasn’t alone.

Even though I didn’t finish, my teammate Meg had a very successful day and finished 8th and Julie finished 14th!

Shannon and I were both DNF and Teresa managed to finish, even after a crash going uphill. Luckily it wasn’t a serious crash and she nor her bike suffered much damage. Teresa even told my husband that she was going to soft pedal and wait for me to catch up but he told her not to bother. He knows all too well that I could be suffering in a way that would not allow me to go on.

In looking at the board at the end of the race I noticed where some of the CVC gals I was riding with finished and they were in the 20 mark. That’s probably where I would have been had I been able to finish. I would have been very happy with that.

Out of 50 starters, less than 30 finished. There were many stories of muscle and stomach cramps in addition to the effects of heat exhaustion. I’m glad to have warmer weather but this was a little much!

It was a good outing and I think everyone is fired up about the next big event: Lake Sunapee Road Race on May 16th.

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