by Sue Aquila
I have posted this photo for a credibility check. I am about 18 years younger in that picture. Things to notice (besides the bad fashion choices and the cute baby) are my weight and the bag of Cheetos behind me. Not pretty.
Unfortunately, that is not pregnancy weight. I actually adopted my daughter and managed to put on weight in the process!
I keep this photo next to my computer in my office to remind me where I have been and to reinforce my choices today. I was carrying almost 40-50 pounds of extra weight in that picture. Today I celebrate that I am a healthy weight and very fit.
How did I get here? Some simple rules:
- Eat real food; preferably organic
- Quality protein at most meals
- A decent amount of fat in the form of coconut oil, nuts, avocados and olive oil
- Avoid sugar
- Minimal amounts of alcohol
Most days I consume oats or quinoa, fresh berries, dark leafy greens or salads, colorful vegetables, sweet potatoes, eggs, and lean protein.
How do I eat to compete? Equally simple:
- Solid breakfast: Oatmeal, almond butter, bagel half, banana, Gatorade
- 200-250 liquid calories of mixed carbohydrates (60g per hour minimum) on the bike
- 150 calories of mixed carbohydrates on the run (gels or Coke)
After I compete:
- Mix of carbs and protein -- liquid if available, regular food if not.
When I completed my first ironman, I used predominantly solid food. As my fitness increased and my times decreased, I began to transition from regular food to a liquid competition diet. I have found liquid nutrition to be an effective way to stay fueled with little to no GI distress. I did try protein at one point but found that it leads to GI distress for me.
As you are on your competitive journey I recommend trying new things during training and your lower value races. Log your changes and the resulting performance. The key is to practice frequently in training as the most recent research shows that we can train our guts to process the fuel we need.
As a smaller woman, I have found a nutritional strategy that works best for me from years of competition. Learning to eat to live became my priority for a healthy life. Learning to eat to win became a priority for my success in my triathlon journey.
Sue Aquila is a USAT Level 1 coach who balances her ironman training with running a successful business that she built from the ground up. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @fewoman.