Monthly Archives

April 2015

Meet the Athlete: John #1

By | Coaching, Fitness, Fuel, Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | 3 Comments

Meet John #1, Ironman triathlete, husband,  and newly-appointed grandfather. He pretty much does it all.  Why #1? Because John #2!

Current place of residence:  Camarillo, CA

Hometown/place of birth: Sun Valley, CA / Hollywood, CA

Day job: Architect

Favorite sports or hobbies (besides triathlon): I love to ski.

2015 triathlon/race goal: To complete two 140.6 distance events this year. IM Switzerland in July and IM Arizona in November.

Best triathlon race leg (swim, bike, run, T1, T2, beer garden): Definitely the bike. Definitely not T1.

Dream race: My parents were both from Switzerland.  I’m really looking forward to competing there this year.

Race mantra: Just keep moving.  A good friend once told me that every step I take during the race is one I don’t have to take again.  I think about that a lot.

When/how/why did you start triathlon?:  A good running friend of June’s (wife) asked me to help her with her cycling.  I said sure, what are you doing?  She said she signed up for an Ironman.  I seriously asked her if she knew what that was.  She had never participated in a tri.  I signed up for my first sprint tri with her a couple months later.  I was hooked.

Hardest race you’ve ever completed: IM Arizona, because of the distance and training commitment.  The run during the Rhode Island 70.3 with the crazy steep hills, 90 degree heat and 90% humidity was also not fun.

Most memorable race moment: I was starting the second lap of the Oceanside run in 2011 and an athlete who had finished the event high fived me and encouraged me on.  I then realized it was Andy Potts who had won the event.  That really stuck with me.

Words of wisdom to someone considering training for their first triathlon/endurance event: Baby steps.  Don’t overcommit to a race that is too hard or too long.  Build slowly and you will enjoy the experiences much more.

Something you’ve learned about yourself through triathlon/endurance sport: You can accomplish a lot if you dedicate yourself and put in the work.  You can do more than you thought possible.

Pre-race ritual or superstition: June says I wait to the last minute to pack.  Not a good thing.

Training/racing “secrets”: Coffee

Training/racing pet peeve(s): Slower riders who ride to the left of the road.  People who claw at you during the swim.

Why do you keep Tri-ing?: My training partners.  I love to associate with the people who “Get it”.

What does “Fuel” mean to you?: Coffee

What does being “Fit” mean to you?: Feeling strong. Looking forward to the next workout.  Wanting to do more.

Pick one:

Open water or pool?  Open water
Trail or track?  Trail
Solo or group training?  Group
Chocolate or cheese?  I’m Swiss, do I really have to choose?
Watch on your left wrist or right?  Left
Morning or evening workout?  Morning.  I never would have said that before doing tris.
Hat or visor?  I use both.
Swim cap or no cap?  Pool, no cap…Open water, cap.
Cheerios or Wheaties?  Wheaties
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?  Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Want to see yourself featured in a future edition of M.T.A.? All BrittFit Athletes are eligible. You could be next!


By | Coaching, Fitness, Fuel | No Comments

This week, I would like to spread a bit of awareness about something called F.A.T.  I’m not talking about the “fat” we all know and love to hate– saturated fat, intramuscular triglycerides, cholesterol, etc.  Today’s topic is a bit less widely-discussed, even among endurance athlete populations.

F.A.T. stands for Female Athlete Triad.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine:

The female athlete triad (Triad) refers to the interrelationships among energy availability, menstrual function, and bone mineral density, which may have clinical manifestations including eating disorders, functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. With proper nutrition, these same relationships promote robust health (ACSM, 2007).

Low energy availability, whether inadvertent or intentional, occurs when energy (food/drink) consumption is insufficient to meet energy (training/activity) expenditure, and has been identified as the main culprit in F.A.T. reproductive system dysfunction and skeletal health impairment.

Until about 2 years ago, when I began writing a thesis on a related subject, I knew little to nothing about the triad, except that it sounded like some obscure condition that only occurs in athletes with extreme eating disorders.  However, I learned that low energy availability (and its side effects) can be present even in athletes without disordered eating and regardless of body shape or size– that it is possible for someone to maintain low energy balance while appearing “normal” and well-nourished on the outside.  Yet, a low-energy state, coupled with resultant hormonal abnormalities, can trigger a multitude of potential performance hindrances such as bone weakening, decreased immune function and loss of mental focus.

Takeaways regarding low energy availability and the Triad:

Fuel Your Body

Without obtaining sufficient nutrients and energy from foods, your body cannot perform optimally.  A chronic and/or extreme low-energy state may lead to fatigue, slow recovery from workouts, decreased bone strength, immune function, power, strength, and endurance

Low Energy Availability (low EA)

    • More energy (calories) expended than consumed
    • Less available energy to maintain bone formation and other body functions
    • Common Causes: under-eating, eating disorders, illness, etc
    • Often triggered by desired weight loss for appearance or performance benefits
    • Over-exercising (without calorie compensation) is another strategy that athletes may use to lose weight and “improve” performance/looks
    • May be unintentional— the athlete is not careful to take in enough calories, and/or is unaware of the increased calorie demands of exercise

Low bone mineral density (low BMD)

    • Commonly associated with low EA
    • Can be caused by low estrogen levels and/or low dietary calcium & vitamin D intake
    • Associated with stress fractures, osteoporosis, and increased injury frequency
    • Especially dangerous for younger athletes in developmental stages

Risk factors/warning signs of chronic Energy Deficiency (low EA)

    • Overly-controlling or excessively-critical parents and coaches
    • Having a “perfectionist” and/or self-critical attitude
    • Low self-esteem, extreme fatigue and/or depression
    • Low BMD and frequent stress fractures without increased training
    • Frequent illness (weak immune system)
    • Anemia, dry skin, constipation, dizziness, or inability to concentrate
    • Poor and irregular eating habits
    • Playing a sport in which revealing attire is worn (insecurities)

What can athletes do to maintain optimal energy levels?

  • Consume sufficient energy to sustain normal body functions and to fuel exercise
    • Have a fueling strategy: eat for optimal energy and recovery
    • Choose nutritious foods and balanced meals/snacks (fruit-yogurt smoothie, baked potato with veggies & cheese, etc.)
    • Understand that there is no ideal “athlete body”
    • Focus on maintaining optimal energy and health


American College of Sports Medicine. The Female Athlete Triad Position Stand. 2007. Available at:

Meet the Athlete: Sergio

By | Coaching, Fitness, Fuel, Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | No Comments

Fueled by Cocoa Puffs, Craft Beer, and Strong Coffee, elite runner-turned-triathlete Sergio Zarate (#1 up there on the podium) is headed to Detroit this summer to earn his professional license.

Current place of residence:  Oxnard

Day job: Manufacturing Engineer

Favorite sports (besides triathlon): Cycling and Soccer

Current (2015) triathlon goal: Place top 3 in Detroit U25 Draft Legal Race

Best race leg: Running; at least that’s what should be my best leg

Dream race: Any ITU Pan-AM or World Triathlon Series Race

Race mantra: Ill never do it again, I promise” (might sound familiar to some)

When/how/why did you start triathlon?  It all started in 2011. Coming from a running/endurance background, I had always been fascinated by the Ironman Kona and the idea of putting one’s body through such extreme activity. One day, after one of  the many running injuries I accumulated over the years, I decided to try something that would allow me to continue to maintain fitness but help reduce the pounding from daily running: I showed up to a UCLA Triathlon Team workout.  And… here I am now.

Hardest race and/or workout you’ve ever completed:  The hardest race I have ever completed was at the 2014 USA Triathlon National Championships in Milwaukee–not because of distance, or because of the course, but because of the way my body behaved that day as a result of the high heat and humidity.  I over-heated during the swim, vomited during the bike, and had the most unbearable legs cramps I’ve ever experience in my life.  I could literally see the knots forming up and down my legs and there was nothing I could do to get rid of them. I would run some 50 meters and then stop to try and shake them off. It was very painful and embarrassing but I finished nonetheless.

Most memorable training and/or race moment(s): Riding along Lance Armstrong for a charity bike ride in 2014

Words of wisdom to someone considering training for their first triathlon: Enjoy every second of the “journey”: the road (training) and the destination (race).

Something you’ve learned about yourself through triathlon: I am highly adaptable.  It takes long hours of work and dedication, but sooner or later it will feel “easier’.

Pre-race ritual or superstition? Before the gun goes off, I try to stay relaxed, quiet–no music or anything to pump me up. I say a quick prayer and off we go.

Training/racing “secrets”/tips? There are no secrets, it just takes work.

Training/racing pet peeve(s): When someone complains about a workout given to the team or class

Why do you keep Tri-ing?: Because it’s addicting. You have to dig deep and go places you’ve never gone within yourself. It makes me more spiritual in a way (if that makes sense).

What does “Fuel” mean to youFuel to me means more than just the calories and nutrients necessary to perform. For me “fuel” includes everything that can help you accomplish your goals. It can be something or some one that fuels your emotions or your spirit. It can be knowledge from your coaches; anything that gives you that little extra boost.

What does being “Fit” mean to you?:  Maintaining a sound body and mind.

Pick one:
Long ride or long run? Long Ride
Open water or pool? Open, in  a lake though (motion sickness)
Chocolate or cheese? Craft beer
Watch on your left wrist or right?  Left
Morning or evening workout? I do both, but prefer morning
Hat or visor? Neither
Swim cap or no cap? Cap
Cheerios or Wheaties? Cocoa Puffs
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Strong Coffee

Want to see yourself featured in a future edition of M.T.A.? All BrittFit Athletes are eligible. You could be next!

Simple Stovetop Granola

By | Fuel | No Comments

Situation #1: You are staring into your bowl of smooth, tart, yogurt, wondering how you might be able to make your snack even better…

Situation #2: You just finished your sweaty 90-minute turbo session on the bike, and need a yummy carb-protein combo to boost your recovery.  You pour yourself some yogurt, reach for your box of Quaker granola (or other favorite crunchy cereal), and are absolutely mortified.  You are out of your fave yogurt topper.  This is a serious and probably life-threatening situation. Who can you call (besides Ghostbusters)?

The answer to these two dilemmas may be simpler than you think.  You (probably) don’t even need to go to the grocery store, or spend an hour waiting to take your own homemade yogurt topping out of the oven.  Nope.  You can mix up some crunchy, nutty, satisfying, granola oh so fast, sprinkle it on top of your otherwise-naked yogurt, and be enjoying a protein-packed-(healthy)oily-carb-o-licious snack in less than 10 minutes–with only a few ingredients from your cupboard!

Situations #1 & 2 pretty much happened to me one morning last week.  I got back from a morning of coaching + swimming, with a rumbly in my tumbly for a crunchy something to mix into my TJ’s Greek Honey Yogurt.  But, I live with a hungry man who loves crunchy cereals practically as much as I do, and we go through the stuff way too fast.  So, the three boxes of cereals/granola on our shelf (purchased about a week ago) had disappeared.  I could have given up on my dream to enjoy a bowl of crunchy, sweet, goodness right then and there.  But, this was one of those stubborn, intense, cravings.  So, I decided to make some granola on the stove.  It turned out just as good as the full granola recipe that I bake in the oven, but took like 0.156% of the time.


Ingredients: (serves 1)

  • 1 T coconut oil (you could also use any cooking oil, or even butter…just be sure not to burn it)
  • 1/2 c. oats (I used a combo of whole rolled oats and steel cut)
  • nuts and/or seeds (I used chia seeds, almonds, and pecans) *other ideas: cashews, walnuts, macademia nuts, sunflower seeds
  • sweetener/seasonings (I added honey, cinnamon & sea salt) *other ideas: brown sugar, maple syrup, agave, nutmeg, cocoa, applesauce
  • extra things (e.g. coconut flakes, dried fruits, chocolate pieces) *add fruits/chocolate after cooking.


  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over low-to-medium heat, just to melt (doesn’t take long…don’t go anywhere!)
  2. Toss in oats, and stir to coat in oil
  3. Toss in nuts/seeds (and coconut flakes, if using)
  4. Allow ingredients to toast until lightly browned and fragrant, then remove from heat
  5. Stir in sweeteners, seasonings, etc, and stir.  Pour granola on top of your yogurt/milk, or snack on it by itself!

Go and have yourself a merry little bowl of yogurt and crunchies–no waiting necessary!