Powdered peanut butter?

ca8c1302f7c611e2b92122000a9e0727_5Has anyone seen this? Apparently peanut butter can come in a powder now. My aunt came to visit my family this summer and introduced me to PB2, a powdered peanut butter. She explained she is watching her fat intake and PB2 has lower fat content than regular peanut butter. I’m intrigued.

I still don’t know how much fat I should be eating at all. I just eat whatever I want (not junk food but eat whatever I want in whole foods), not paying any attention to my macronutrients. I thought the idea of having a less fattening peanut butter seemed cool (even thought fats are healthy, especially fat from nuts.) So, I thought I’d give it a try and bought myself “Just Great Stuff” powdered peanut butter.

Basically, all you have to do is add water to the powder and voile instant peanut butter. Pretty cool. I smothered it on a mini bagel today and it was delicious. Surprise, surprise, it tastes just like peanut butter!

I then thought to myself, ‘Well this is cool, but I bet they do something weird to make it.’ So I turned to Google to answer my curiosity. Apparently it’s made in a not so bad way. Roasted peanuts are pressed in a machine until all the oils are squeezed out resulting in a powdery substance. The peanut oil is then sold separately. Pretty cool.

The only downside is that there is added sugar and salt (a grand total of 3g sugar and 90mg sodium.) Hey, you could do a lot worse than that.

Would anyone else want to try powdered peanut butter? Any thoughts?


Weekly Spin Playlist #2

All righty…This weeks spin playlist was made on the fly (wheel :)). I tried downloading new songs to my computer but only half of them worked. So 15min before my class I created this playlist. It is a combination of my new songs + my old playlists. It’s 45 min long total and features hills, sprints and jumps! To understand how I teach my classes check out my first playlist.

This ride focuses on using your breath. I recently just posted an article on the importance of connecting your breath to movement using yoga. I use the same principles I have found in yoga and apply those principles to my spin classes. One principle I have learned is that your breath controls your heart rate (among other factors.) But if you can slow down your breath you can slow down your heart rate. On this ride, I encouraged my students to slow down their breath after short bursts of sprints by breathing slower and deeper in an attempt to lower the heart rate faster allowing time to properly prepare for the next sprint.

New Songs (35 minutes total) 

1. All Night – Icona Pop

  • Warm up song. Get yourself on a nice flat road (level 3-4)

2. Let the Good Times Roll (Mashup) – Earmilk.com

  • Some warm up sprints to get your blood moving.
  • One Block: Increase cadence to around 90% effort level for 10 seconds. Back off to 60% effort level for 40 seconds. Repeat 10sec on/40sec off for the entire song. (About 4 sprint blocks.)

3. Treasure – Bruno Mars

  • Take this song as a seated and standing climb. Start at a level 5 (start of your hill) and increase resistance 3 times ending the song at a level 8. Stand in position 3 during the chorus then sit it back down. Repeat throughout the song.

4. Rock My DNA (Mashup) – Earmilk.com

  • A wonderfully fun standing climb (position 3). Make sure your hips are pushed back over the saddle so you can feel the saddle underneath your butt. Remember to breath. Start at a level 6 and increase resistance twice ending the song at a level 8. Stay in position 3 the entire song!

5. Summer Jam – Quad City DJ’s

  • Take this song as 1/2 recovery and 1/2 working song with jumps. For the recovery, find your flat road and let your heart rate come down for about 2:50 seconds. After 1/2 way take it up to standing, position 2. Get ready for some jumps from position 2 to position 1 (seated.) Remember to try and focus on your cadence. Don’t let yourself slowdown as you switch positions. Start your jumps at 4 second counts, take a break in standing position 2 every 8 jumps.

6. Miss Jackson (feat. Lolo) – Panic! At the Disco

  • Everyone’s favorite spinning move, the seated climb! Yayyyyy! Start at a level 5 and increase resistance to a level 8. (Turn the resistance knob three times.) And stay seated. To better activate your working muscles (your quads, glutes and hamstrings.) Shift your weight back in the saddle like your sitting back in a chair. That will get your working muscles activated, versus shifting your weight forward in the saddle loosing the power from your glutes.

7. Scream & Shout (Mashup) – S.I.R.

  • Take this mashup song with some jumps. Just like we did before, stand up in position 2 and count to 4. Sit it down, count to 4, stand it up. Count 20 jumps, do 2 sets of 20 jumps for this song taking a break in between sets by standing up in position 2. Focus on your caedence again! Don’t slow down!

8. Diamond Thrones (Mashup) – The White Panda

  • I hope there are some Game of Thrones fans out there because this song is for you. The mashup is GOT theme song combined with Rihanna. Boom. Mind is blown. Use this song as seated and standing hill climb. Start at resistance level 5 and increase to a level 9 (turning the resistance knob 4 times.) Have fun 🙂

9. Work Baby Work (The Prep) – Quad City DJ’s

  • Use this as a recovery song. Get back on your flat road and relax. Let your heart rate come down.

10. Dance the Pain Away – Benny Benassi

  • All right lets take it out of the saddle. Standing climb position 3, starting at a level 5 and increase to a level 8. Turning that knob 3 times throughout the song. Enjoy.

Old songs (10 minutes total)

11. Just Give Me a Reason – Pink

  • Don’t touch that resistance! You’re going to hate me but stay on that level 8 for this song. Sit it down. Keep it there and stand it up on the chourus. Alternate between sitting and standing without changing that resistance.

12. Shake it out – Florence + The Machine

  • Who doesn’t love a little Florence to end the ride?? Standing hill climb with bursts of weighted sprints (sounds awesome right?) Get yourself on a level 6-7 hill, the more resistance you add the more you’ll work. Stay in position 3. As the chorus pick up the speed to a 90-100% effort level. Quick 30 second bursts of speed on a hill (your legs will be screaming!!) Repeat these bursts of weighted sprints during the chorus (about 3 times.)

Cool down and stretch it out!

– Train hard. Tri Harder


Protein Powder vs. Real Food


The age old dilemma of processed protein powder  vs. real food. Do we really need protein powders, bars and shakes to fuel our body properly?

I have been struggling with the notion of fueling up and recovering with a protein shake or actually eating real food. I have recently turned into the girl at the gym who brings eggs and broccoli into the locker room. I can be seen stuffing eggs in my mouth after my workout where I promptly receive weird looks. It wasn’t always eggs and broccoli; I used to have protein powders galore shoved into my purple gym bag. Reading a bunch of news articles, I have come to a crossroads where I want to walk into GNC and purchase my protein powder again, but then I think is it really worth the $30? Am I just being sucked in by the marketing schemes of these companies to buy their products?

What the experts say

Heather Mangieri, a nutrition consultant, explained that “…ideally, people should get protein from food. But some people who have high caloric needs, such as athletes, may find it more convenient to get their protein, along with necessary extra calories, from a high-protein product.” Am I a high-calorie needing athlete? Probably not, I only work out a total of 10-15hr per week.

Nancy Clark, an expert nutritionist, explains in her book Sports Nutrition Guidebook that many people assume they need to consume a big meal because they feel like they worked out extra hard. When in fact, people often over estimate the amount of calories their body needs to properly recover and repair. Our bodies can only absorb so much protein in one sitting. Mangierie explains that our bodies typically use a MAXIMUM of 20-30g of protein from a single meal. Beyond that, any additional protein in a meal won’t be used for extra tissue repair or muscle building benefits. AKA it’s just extra calories the body doesn’t use.

Protein powder = supplement, not food

First things first, everyone must understand that protein powders are a supplement. What does “supplement” mean? Well let me Google that for you….”Supplement. An addition designed to make up for a deficit.” Meaning if you don’t get enough of ___in your diet a supplement will fill in that blank. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a dietary supplement is “not considered food.” Interesting. So we can conclude that supplements do not replace food. This is important because protein powders and bars have incomplete nutrition. They tend to be heavy on protein but fail to provide significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and healthy fats that you would find in natural sources of protein like fish, meat, eggs and beans.

Since protein powders fall under the realm of supplements they are not considered food, thus they are not regulated by the government. A Consumer Reports investigation found that many popular brands of protein powders included concerning amounts of arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium. Lesson here is that protein powders aren’t all high and mighty.

 We don’t NEED protein powder to properly fuel our bodies

Real food has a better nutritional balance than protein powders. Post workout I usually consume hard boiled eggs for protein, sometimes broccoli for some carbohydrates or maybe a mini bagel. I am no nutritionist at all but I am trying to learn. And so far it seems to me that real, all natural, non-processed foods will give you better nutrients any day over a less nutritious protein powder.

*Disclaimer…when I am training for an Ironman I will most likely be drinking some kind of protein shake. (One that isn’t full of poison)

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.


3 Reasons Why Yoga is Awesome for Athletes

Long before I started running and competing, I used to hate yoga. It was really hard, and holding all those different poses hurt. My body did not move, stretch, or bend in any way like the freakishly flexible yoga instructor who could turn herself into a pretzel. I gave it up for a while. Once I started college, I slowly started going to classes with friends and started to appreciate the mental and physical aspects yoga had to offer. Since college I started practicing yoga regularly (about twice a week.) I have included it into my training schedule to help my flexibility, breathing and mental awareness, all key elements when it comes to endurance sports.

Here are 3 reasons why athletes should include yoga into their training regime:  

1. Increases VO2max

  • Probably one of the most surprising statements I have come across. A study on the Effects of Hatha Yoga Practice on the Health-Related Aspects of Physical Fitness proved that regular practice of Hatha yoga improved VO2max.  VO2 essentially has to do with your amount of oxygen uptake. The more oxygen you can take in during exercise the better your muscles can perform. The average untrained healthy female will score an average of 27-31 ml/kg/min. Elite female athletes can consume 77 ml/kg/min. The study found that VO2max of the individuals who participated in Hatha yoga, on average increased 6-7%.

2. Improves flexibility 

  •  This one is obvious. But maybe you didn’t know that yoga is based on the premise of correcting the imbalances our bodies incur from daily activities and for triathletes that means activities like biking, swimming and running. The human body does not perform optimally when one aspect of the body dominates the other. Maybe one of your legs is stronger than the other or maybe one ankle can flex better when you swim. If you are unbalanced you aren’t using your body efficiently. Yoga has proven to decrease imbalances through the development of core strength. Your core is where all of your power and stability emulates from. The poses from yoga strengthens your core and elongates the muscles through stretching making joints more flexible by improving the range of motion (ROM). By incorporating stretching based practices like yoga you will improve your ROM which will help prevent joint injuries and keep your body in balance to help you perform optimally.

3. Creates mental awareness 

  • Have you ever listened to what your body is telling you? Besides being hungry. Taking a moment to listen to what your body is telling you while you tackle a busy day full of activities can prove challenging.  One aspect of yoga I believe is a key factor to being self aware is connecting your breath to your body movement. Yoga teaches you to become aware of your breath. Tracy Weber explains, “This integration of breath and movement requires mindful attention and is the key reason yoga is so powerful at connecting body, breath and mind.”  I cannot tell you how many times I have “checked in” with my body to see how I was breathing during my training sessions. Am I panting to hard? Can I slow my breath down? Yoga reminds you that you are in control of your breath, and in turn your heart rate (a key factor when optimally performing.) By practicing yoga and connecting your breath to body movement you become self aware of the power your breath has on your own body, and ultimately your performance.

I encourage all athletes to give yoga a try! You might actually enjoy a good stretch after weeks of pounding pavement. And who knows, maybe by next year you can turn yourself into a pretzel…..

That doesn’t look very plesent

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.


Race Day Lesson #1: Every Second Counts

I just competed in my second sprint triathlon this past weekend and I finished 4th out of 9 girls in my age group. Not bad, not bad at all. But I missed 3rd place by a second, literally 1 second. I finished with a time of 1:08:04 the girl a head of me finished with a time of 1:08:03. I was that close to a podium finish. I was mad, and I wasn’t mad at the girl who beat me by 1 second, I was mad at myself. Where did I lose that 100 milliseconds? Where could I have gone faster? Pushed myself harder? My mind was racing with so many emotions that I didn’t know what to think. I let myself be mad for a while but looking back at the race I really did awesome. Especially with how my race day started….


View from my ZipCar @5:50am. Hello, Boston.

My wonderful support crew (aka. my boyfriend) was to be designated driver for my race. But, alas my driver fell threw. He decided to go out the night before and had one too many drinks. He didn’t get home until 3am and we were set to leave at 6am. For those of you who think 3 hours of sleep is enough to sober up, it’s not. I couldn’t get him to get out of bed to save my life. I made the executive decision to get a ZipCar at 5:30am. I booked the car online and ran, literally ran, to the garage to pick it up.(Guess I am warmed up for the race, I thought to myself.) I got back at 5:50am, kicked my boyfriend’s butt into gear and loaded up my stuff. I really thought this would throw off my good mood and ruin my race mentality but I didn’t let it get to me. I just thought to myself “Good thing I’m pretty awesome.”

Fast forward to the race, and my swim went really well. I was probably inspired from Rick and Dick Hoyt, the famous father and son duo, start the race off. This triathlon was their 1,100th race. I was absolutely blown away by the love and dedication of one man to his son. It was amazing to see Dick pull his son in a inflatable boat, the man is 73 years old! I hope to be his age and racing in my 1,100th race.


The Hoyt’s getting ready to start the race. So happy I was able to see them! #Inspirational

After the Hoyt’s took off I had to wait awhile for my wave to start. I entered into the beginners wave and it was the last wave. So there was a lot of waiting. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with a wetsuit! My past two attempts with my new wetsuit failed on me completely, my whole top filled with water and it was tough. This time I was kitted out with a bright neon suit (I partially wore it so my really hungover boyfriend could spot me easily.) The water was 83 degrees and half way through I thought to myself, ‘This isn’t refreshing at all.’ Yuck, I exited the water and ran to the transition area.

My bike was awesome. It was a 9mi route with rolling hills. I crushed it. My average speed was 16mph and my fastest speed was 33mph. (Not bad for hardly riding my bike this month…actually at all.) I felt good.

I transitioned out to the run quickly and hit the road. It was only a 3mi run and I told myself “Just run hard.” I let my legs get used to carrying my weight again after a fast bike ride and stepped up my pace a little to about 8:30min/mi. Average pace, but I decided to take it slow until the last mile. That’s when things got interesting…

I have a tendency not to turn around and see who is closing in on me. As I hear people approach me from behind I let the anticipation and nerves drive me a little harder. I hit the last mile and hear fast footsteps, I don’t turn around. I assume it was the really fit 40 year old woman I just saw passing me. I feel someone grab my arm and say, “Come with me.” I glanced down at her calf and she’s 24, it was one of my age group competitors. She picked up her pace and I picked up mine. We were running side by side for the last mile. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is what it’s all about. To be truly racing.” I was filled with adrenaline, but I was still conscious of my heart rate. I wasn’t wearing a monitor but I was breathing heavily enough to judge it was rising fast. I kept the pace with her for 4min then she backed off. I kept my pace (about 7:30min/mi) and ran until I saw the gate leading to the finish line. I had about .25mi to go and the girl pulls up next to me and she pulls up fast. I pick up my speed and it’s an all out battle to the finish line. She pulls ahead of me just a touch, probably 3 seconds ahead of me. And I think to myself as she closes in on the finish line, “Let her go she has it.” She crosses the finish line before I do. I couldn’t tell by how many seconds, I was just so winded I could hardly stand up. I shook her hand and congratulated her.

Battling it out to the finish line.

Battling it out to the finish line.

I just raced my hardest. My competitive spirit was thrilled! I was on a high. It felt awesome to be giving it all I had against someone else. Finding out I lost the podium by 1 second sucked. Like really sucked. It was a wake up call for me. I realized how close you can be to lose a podium finish. I am sure all triathletes (amateurs and professionals) have faced a millisecond loss like I have. I have to remind myself this was only my 3rd triathlon. If I am getting close to that podium now, imagine what I can do in the future! It was that one second, and that second humbled me and showed me I am good at this. I cannot wait for my next race.

– Train Hard. Tri Harder.