Cholesterol Drop

I dropped my total cholesterol in one month by 36 points with just a few things:
  • Total daily calorie reduction by at least 500 calories
  • Organic homemade soymilk based green smoothie 5 days a week
  • Went from 6 eggs to 3 per week
  • Tofu or okara wraps for lunch
  • Seafood dinners couple times a week (mmm, mussels!)
  • Aiming for a macronutrient ratio of 40/30/25 carb/protein/fat
Just these few swaps can help reduce those points. I wasn't actually trying to reduce my cholesterol, since it wasn't high and you actually need good fats in your body, but was wanting to lose a couple lbs for racing and before I start marathon training so I cut the calories and tried to boost the protein. I downloaded an eating free sample menu for guidance. This is the lowest my cholesterol has ever been, even when I was vegetarian. Bonus: I'm saving money! I cut back on the dairy because of water conservation* and I noticed it does create more mucus and was clogging up my throat during intense runs. Replaced it with organic soy because I am an organic soy/tofu/tempeh lover! Just one cup of organic soybeans provides me with a whole week of organic soymilk and okara lunches. I still enjoy 2 1/2 cups of Organic NF yogurt per week.  I use mostly olive oil, and sometimes coconut and red palm oil (Nutiva). I'm able to maintain a  good iron level with these dietary changes.

*Water Footprint of Various Foods

 Green Protein Smoothie
1 cup organic homemade soymilk (no additives)
2 cups chopped kale, spinach or collard greens (whole leaves)
1 frozen banana
1 scoop of your favorite protein powder (I like Nutiva Chocolate Hempshake or Whey Factors)
1 T chia seeds, hemp seeds or ground flaxseeds ( I like to rotate them every day)

Blend it all in your blender or bullet mixer until smooth. Enjoy!


Fried Plantain Bread with Dates and Chia Seeds

Here is a carb-friendly bread for you runners and endurance junkies out there:

Dry ingredients:
4 c organic whole-wheat flour or gluten-free flour of choice . Plantain flour is available but hard to find in stores.
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 T pumpkin pie spice or ground cardamom
2T chia seeds

Wet ingredients:
2 cups fried plantains (sauteed in some of the coconut oil, yum!)
1/2 c coconut oil, melted
1/2 c maple syrup
1 c pitted dates, processed
1-2 c water (can also use apple cider or fruit juice) may need more or less depending on the type of flour used.

Mix wet ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix all ingredients together. Batter should be thick. Spoon into loaf pans and bake at 375 for 30 - 45 minutes (or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean). I split my recipe into two small 9" loaf pans filled halfway for smaller serving sizes. Can also be baked in muffin tins for a shorter time. Keep in fridge in a ziploc bag for extended enjoyment. Happy running!

Each 3oz slice equals:
calories: 179
protein: 4g
carbohydrate: 34g
fat: 4g
sugar: 15g


Spring Training

Spring is here! Enjoying the open water swims and running on trails!
I have ditched my Garmin and heart rate monitor and am running by feeling and cadence. My gear is a Timex Ironman stopwatch and the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro.
For strength sessions I use the Gymboss, but the Timex also does intervals.

Swim: 21 miles
Bike: 319 miles + Bike to work miles
Run: 183 miles (less mileage, higher intensity, minimal footwear)

Jan: 3rd place women DSE Fort Mason 5k, completed SFR Point Reyes Lighthouse 200k
Feb: 3rd place masters Kaiser SF 5k, completed SFR Valley Ford-Two Rock 200k
March: 2nd AG Oakland Running Festival 5k

Mon: EZ Run 40min - 1 hr. + TRX
Tues: Swim, speed workout 30 min + dryland exercises
Wed: Run, speed workout - 1-1/2 hr + Spri Xerball
Thurs: Swim, aerobic - 30 min - 1 hr + dryland exercises
Fri: Run, hills and tempo - 1-1/2 hr + TRX stretch or yoga
Sat: Open water swim, bike, hike or rest
Sun: Open water group swim, bike, hike or rest

RW: Run Your Fastest Race with the "Timeless Challenge"


Oakland Running Festival 5k

This weekend I did better at the Oakland Running Festival 5k than I did a couple years ago, by 18 seconds! Chip time 21:17, in top ten females OA, 2nd AG. Breaking 20 minutes is tough and takes a lot of time and patience, but it will happen one day. The last mile on this course is fast, but then there is a hill right before the finish that will zap your desire to make up time on the final sprint (note to self: practice hill sprint). I've been doing weekly speedwork since last November and though the improvements are minor it makes holding the pace at slightly faster speed feel easier. There seemed to be more people signed up this time. Official tally was 2,314 5k runners! Now just imagine doing 5k pace throughout an entire marathon. That's the pace people were winning sub 3:00 marathon times! The relay looks like fun, would like to try that next year. I could probably do the 5k and then the last leg of the relay. It would be easy to hop on 19th Street Station to West Oakland for the exchange. Just putting that out there!

Next up: 10k race and try to 5k PR on a flat course similar to the one I PR'd on before. Laying the speedwork foundation to carry into the summer marathon.


Iron and Blood Donation

It's been over a year that I've been a regular donor at Blood Centers of the Pacific. The first time was on my birthday last year. I'm grateful for my health and glad I can help others in some way. This also motivates me to stay healthy and eat right so I can continue to do so.

My Hemoglobin Levels
Since I became a monthly blood donor, I've been able to monitor my iron levels through the bloodheroes.org website. Iron is important to me as a female endurance athlete because I noticed when it's low I feel more tired. I didn't realize how much running can zap my iron stores, and how effective iron supplementation was until recently when I started taking the supplement. Normally I donate platelets so I'm not losing that many red blood cells through my donation.

I try to eat a varied healthy diet of lots of leafy greens, lentils, an apple a day, whole grains (50% carb diet) and 3 servings of red meat a week, in addition to liver and shellfish and organic tofu. I have six eggs a week (cholesterol is under 150). You know I'm a big fan of green juice! I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs or medications (except caffeine!), and never take NSAIDs. But, last fall I was not able to donate blood because my iron levels were on the border, so I waited almost 4 months. I started taking a slow-release 45mg iron supplement at bedtime for 60 days before my next donation and hemoglobin went up almost two points in January (3rd bar from right). Then I stopped taking the supplement because I thought the levels were sufficient, and my hemoglobin went down again to the lowest ever in February. I resumed supplementation and one month later I'm back up almost one point! It's a quick way to build iron.
Dailymile Running Log
Dailymile All Activities (running, cycling, swimming, fitness)
Lately I have not been running that much, less than 20 miles per week. I've been training for short distance races at high intensity in minimal shoes. I was wondering if switching to barefoot shoes increased my iron loss due to "foot-strike hemolysis", but then I learned it's not just runners who experience exercise-related iron loss, it's all endurance athletes. The correct term is "exertional hemolysis". The second dailymile chart shows all activities and totally corresponds to the drop in iron levels, as activities increased in January and February, and last July when all activities peaked to 153. I also noticed it corresponds to fatigue I had been feeling years ago and reported to my doctor after another high mileage month. I have had blood work done last July to rule out anemia and then recently learned there is another condition called athletic psuedoanemia, which can account for the fatigued feeling. Runners and endurance athletes may need more iron than the average person to maintain a balance to perform. Very informative links below. Over the years, I have become so much more aware about the direct correlation between nutrition, health and performance, and now I realize the importance of recovery. Stay healthy!

Ironing Out the Details

Hemoglobin and Function of Iron

Donors Deferred for Low Hemoglobin 

Take a Closer Look at Your Lab Results

 Ryan's Story