Meet the (Welsh) Athlete: Charlotte

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Over 8 years ago, Charlotte (Char) and I met at UCLA where we had both walked on to (and had not long after walked off of) varsity Bruin athletic teams–cross country and swim for Char and myself, respectively. We stumbled upon the mutually beloved sport of triathlon, and were introduced at a UCLA Triathlon club event. After workouts, while eating large amounts of dorm food, we quickly became chums and decided to live together for the summer. That summer, Char and I formed the “Britters” club and enjoyed many a beach run, ocean swim, and delicious carbohydrate-rich meal. Our time together soon came to an end, however, when Char went off to explore South America and later returned to her home country. Yet, the bond that we created is still as strong as ever, and I was fortunate enough to catch up with Char on her recent holiday visit to the states. Her passion for athletics and drive to discover her best self inspire me. Without further ado…

Current place of residence: Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom

Hometown/place of birth: Cardiff

Day job: Statistician

Favourite sports or hobbies (besides running): Playing my violin

Current (2016) race goal: To run personal bests in the 800m and 1500m

Best track event: 800m

Dream race: Olympics

Race mantra: Eek maybe I should think of one

When/how/why did you start running? I got in to running towards the end of high school, my teachers told me I had natural talent and I should give athletics a go.

Hardest workout you’ve ever completed: Oh gosh I’m not sure, although there are sand dunes near where I live in Wales and they can be pretty tough!

Most memorable training and/or race moment(s): I think my most memorable race moments are when I’ve run personal bests after lots of hard training and stagnation. It’s a really rewarding feeling.

Words of wisdom to someone considering training for their first running event: I think there’s a lot of pleasure and purpose to come out of training for a running event, and you’ll probably find life’s a bit more enjoyable along the way.

Something you’ve learned about yourself through running: I’m resilient.

Pre-race ritual or superstition: I need to get my eating right – if I’m hungry or full I panic!

Training tips: Focus on sessions

Training pet peeve: Long runs

Why do you keep running? To achieve my goals and because I enjoy the training mentality/lifestyle. My coach is also a massive inspiration for me.

What is something that you are known for? Doing lots of different things/having lots of experiences.

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Food that gives me sustained energy.

What does being “Fit” mean to you? I guess being in my peak physical form.

Pick one:
XC or track? Track
Solo or group training? Group
Chocolate or cheese? Cheese
Watch on your left wrist or right? Right
Morning or evening workout? Evening – I’m not good with mornings in general.
Hat or visor? Hat
Cheerios or Wheaties? We don’t have wheaties in the UK! I also don’t eat gluten so probably couldn’t eat them anyway!
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Tea, unless it’s really good coffee.

Huge thanks to my lovely “Britter” friend for sharing these insights!

UCSD Tritonman 2016

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Race: UC-San Diego Tritonman

Format: Draft-Legal Sprint (750-yard swim + 20-km bike + 5-km run)

Support Crew: Hubs, Mom, Dad, Aunt Dorothy + my Oliver fam (Lynn, Jim, Bonny + uncle Todd) + super buds Megan & Sam (& Mosby the doggie)

Pre-Race Predicament: Getting hit by another car on the freeway…and our car being totaled.  Sad to say goodbye to our brave lil toaster.

Pre-Race Dinner: Heaps of Spaghetti and Meatballs

Pre-Race Breakfast: Oatmeal, raisins, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, a banana, and coffee + green tea Skratch drink

Goals: After our incident last year, goal number one for UCSD Tritonman 2016 was to come home in the same car that we brought down. I am happy to report that the toaster made it back home safely.

Tritonman 2016 lessons:

  • Swim start: position is so important. Get out of the middle or else you will get pulled under, and have a wall of athletes in front of you splashing and kicking you.
  • T2:  switch to bungee laces to avoid the struggle of putting tight shoes onto numb feet.

Up next: Clermont (3/5) & Sarasota (3/12)





Dear Dairy

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Dear Dairy,

I love you! I think that you are super tasty and full of goodness. I wish that everyone could enjoy you the way that I do. But, some people are allergic to your proteins, and some are unable to digest your sugars. Sad. Day.

Currently, Greek-style yogurt (the full-fat kind) is my go-to snack. I like to eat it with lots of peanut butter, honey, fruit, and any type of granola. A longtime goal of mine has been to make my own yogurt at home, but past failed attempts left me discouraged. I made another attempt recently, and after hours of labor still had no yogurt to enjoy–just room-temperature sour milk. So, I tried yet again and…success!  I finally found my favorite yogurt-making process. I have already made two successful batches, and am looking forward to perfecting my techniques and consuming the delicious bacterial cultures. Yum!

My microbiotic babies swimming in a sea of granola and fruit


I especially appreciate that I can use the whey leftovers to add protein to smoothies or sub for liquids in my baked good recipes.


I love having my whey

Another thing that I wanted to talk to you about is your body composition. I don’t care if you have a high BMI due to your delicious lipid creaminess. I admire your balanced flavor and well-rounded nutrient profile of carbohydrate + protein + fat. I don’t see why people hate on you and say that you cause obesity and other diseases. I don’t think that’s very fair, and it seems that scientific research findings are behind you, too:

The Skinny On Dairy

Why Full-Fat Dairy May Be Healthier Than Low-Fat

Skimming the Truth

Thanks for being yummy and good for me.



Intuitive Eating for Athletes

By | Fitness, Fuel | One Comment

Endurance athletes typically want to be fit and healthy, right? If you are against being fit and healthy, then you probably don’t want to be exercising 10-20+ hours every week. Sorry to burst your bubble.

So, if endurance athletes (runners, swimmers, cyclists, triathletes, cross country skiers, etc) want to be fit and healthy, then we probably care about what we put into our bodies. We probably understand that proper nutrition is a key component of our training program. We think of food as something that sustains, nourishes, and fuels us. Of course, there are some exceptions:

  1. Athletes who don’t really care about their performance…or is that just an excuse to eat poorly?
  2. Athletes who partake in endurance sport for the sole purpose of eating high volumes of calorically-dense foods
  3. Athletes who really do not think about food, and often “forget” to eat (what!?)
  4. Athletes with disordered eating behaviors

Most endurance athletes have access to nutritious foods everyday. I assume this because if you are participating in an endurance sport, and can afford to spend some leisure time training and some extra cash on your next race or piece of training equipment, then you are likely able to purchase an appropriate quantity and quality of food for yourself. I am not saying that all endurance athletes have plenty of spare cash to throw down on a $50 salad from the Whole Foods salad bar, but we can probably buy potatoes and carrots at the grocery store. What excuse do we have to not invest in our health and our training by fueling our bodies well?

Another commonality of endurance athletes is that we tend idolize leanness. The idea is that if one has a leaner body, he/she will be faster. This is true to a degree, so long as shedding excess bodyfat does not come at the cost of strength, health, or general well-being. Yet, competitive endurance athletes tend to put tremendous pressure on themselves to perform, and are at risk for developing disordered eating habits because of this tendency to obsess about leanness as a performance enhancer. Preoccupation with body weight and composition can lead to fear of food, food restriction, and clinical disorders such as anorexia nervosa. On the other end of the spectrum, an athlete’s self-induced restriction may lead to obsession with food, overeating (binging), then guilt, then more restriction–not a fun pattern. Disordered eating thoughts and habits do not work in the athlete’s favor, and can cause undesirable effects including decline in athletic performance. Extreme dietary restriction can lead to decreased immune function, delayed recovery from training, general fatigue, anxiety, and injury. Female athletes may develop symptoms of the Female Athlete Triad, including bone weakening and menstrual irregularity.

As a student of nutrition, I want to arm myself with the knowledge of where my food comes from, what each food is made of, why I need each nutrient, and how my body processes and uses these nutrients. I am fascinated by the human body, especially as it relates to nutrition and athletics. As an athlete, I value putting quality fuel into my body, but I also value being human. To me, being human means a lot more than just our physical eating and drinking and training. Being human is also mental, emotional, and spiritual. It involves relationships– with our families, with our friends, with our environment, with our creator, with ourselves, with our bodies, with our minds, and even with our food! I believe that we need to have balance when fueling our bodies merges with fueling our various relationships.

For example, if I am having tea with a friend, and she offers me a cookie, I do not have to shun her because her cookies are made with sugar and butter. I can eat a cookie if my body wants a cookie. But this poses a problem: how do I know what my body wants? Most of us have ignored our body’s natural cravings, hunger signals, and even satiety signals, for a long time. Instead of tuning into our bodies, we look to labels, scales, articles, Dr. Oz, and even our own made-up ideas, to determine what, when, and how much we should or shouldn’t eat. How did we manage to eat when we were kids, before we “learned” how to eat? I think that the real question we should ask ourselves is “how and when did we manage to unlearn our inborn eating patterns?” When did we let everyone else decide how many calories we should eat and what we should weigh? When did we even start caring about calories and weight at all? Weren’t we less anxious about food and our bodies when we were kids?


“We are all born instinctual eaters but it is the aging process, along with social and family influences, that diverts attention away from how our body feels when it is hungry. Babies cry when they are hungry. This is the body’s response to physical hunger. Somewhere throughout the developmental process, the ability to listen to the body’s instinctual eating cues are lost or forgotten…” –Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., C.S.C.S., Sports Nutrition For Young Athletes

I don’t think that healthy eating is as simple as “good food” vs. “bad food”. I also don’t think it’s as simple as eating X number and/or burning Y number of calories everyday. I think that our bodies are so complex that we can’t tell them what they need or how they should look. I think it’s time we go back to trusting our bodies like we did when we were kids–when we ate two bites of that hot dog because it smelled good and then put it down because we weren’t hungry anymore. I think it’s time to tune into our innate hunger and satiety signals.

What I’m NOT saying:

  • I’m NOT saying that Intuitive eating is easy: While listening to our bodies was easy when we were kids, it has probably been a long time since we really listened to our bodies. It takes a while to fully learn to trust our bodies again and to adapt to eating intuitively. There will be slip ups, but keep trusting!
  • I’m NOT saying that every athlete can eat every type of food: Some athletes have food allergies, intolerances, and diseases which make them unable to eat particular foods and remain healthy. These athletes can still practice intuitive eating with the foods that they can eat.
  • I’m NOT saying that we should eat junk food all of the time: Actually, if we are constantly craving junk food, it is more likely the result of feeling restricted. In order to really stop the cravings, we need to really stop restricting ourselves. Also, the more that we practice listening to our bodies, I believe that we eventually start to crave more wholesome foods!
  • I’m NOT saying that athletes should fully rely on perceived hunger and thirst signals during training and racing without regard to calorie/carbohydrate/fluid numbers: When training and competing for long hours, it is important to have a sports nutrition plan. However, in case the plan goes awry due to unforeseen issues, it is good to have the ability to know and understand your body’s signals.

Additional Intuitive Eating Resources: