Thursday, March 3, 2016

My favorite things

Being an athlete is hard work. It requires scheduling & flexibility. It doesn't matter what your sport is. 

Soapbox time:  We all have bad days. There are days that we are rushing around trying to get things done. 

BUT, If more often than not, you're rushing around or stressed or moving around workouts or skipping workouts (don't get me started on ignoring the family).....it's time to take a look at your priorities. I'm saying that as someone who has gotten 3 degrees as an adult, working full time, raising two kids, being married, travelling (internationally & domestically) for work, and starting & running a business.

Now that I'm off my soapbox, there are products and services that make my life easier. 

Since people seem to be most interested in what I'm eating, I'm going to start there. (I get it. A weight loss of over 26lbs tends to get people's attention).

FOOD

FuelFood: Based in Miami, FL, Fuelfood ships out pre-cooked, fresh meals. I am on the biggest plan they have. I pay $7.50 per meal and order 20 per week--for me and Mike. (As my volume goes up, I'll order more). These meals heat up in about 1-2 minutes. When I first told Dina (my nutritionist) about this company, she looked into it and said, "This is one of the best companies I have seen." 

Why do I use them? Because I love food, and I need quick options for the middle of the day. I always prefer to get my nutrition from real food as opposed to smoothies (see below). I don't always want to spend time prepping meals for the week. 

Cons: Obs, cost will be an issue for some people. Here's how I see it. $7.50 is less than going out to eat, and it saves me from having to do that BIG shopping on a weekly basis. Most importantly, it saves me time.

Another issue: they are a small business that is growing extremely quickly. They have technical, process & communication issues at the time. I understand what that's like. We have a very good relationship with the owner, Erik. We have local companies that do something similar, but they do not offer the flexibility that Fuelfood does.

Sunbasket
Based in San Jose, CA, this company will only ship to the SW (US). They offer only organic, free range ingredients. This is another meal prep company. Sunbasket sends out ingredients, and you get to cook the meals.

We get 3 (for 2 people) meals per week, and the cost is approximately $65 per week. 

I have tried every meal company out there. I've tried Plated, GreenChef, Freshly....and two others that escape me right now.

Why Sunbasket: The food quality is the absolute best. The menus are incredibly varied (and include breakfasts if you are so inclined). The have Paleo, Vegetarian, Chef's choice, and breakfast menus to choose from. You can choose meals from any menu. Want to try a vegetarian dish? Go for it. 

Another benefit to Sunbasket. Sometimes, the side dishes are HUGE. We save half for the next night's dinner. We make a protein and use the rest of the sides.

The recipes are so good, that we save the cards and make them again. We rarely have the same dinner twice in a week now. We used to have the same stuff over and over.

Cons: NONE. I have nothing bad to say about Sunbasket. (I guess if you're not in the SW, that's a problem).

Smoothies
As I mentioned, I prefer to eat real foods. Sometimes, particularly when I'm going to masters, I know I need to eat, but I don't want to sit down to a "meal". I can make a smoothie and bring it in the car. It's also a great option for people who don't want to cook breakfast in the morning, which is shocking to me....because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. 

I have been asked many many times for my favorite smoothie recipes. It's tough to pick just one, but it would have to be this one.

Pina Colada Smoothie (keep in mind that all ingredients are to taste. I love coconut and use more. I'm not a fan of lime and use less).
3/4c of pineapple. (I prefer fresh but you can use frozen)
About 1/3 c of 100% coconut milk. (This is found in the baking, cooking aisle where the store has flour etc. Although, the link above is to the product that I use). If you aren't familiar with 100% coconut milk: once it is opened, it doesn't last long. Once refrigerated, it thinkens up to the consistency of pudding. (If you buy the canned stuff, it actually goes past thick and hardens up). Don't freak out when it happens.
1 TSP 100% maple syrup (it might be less. I don't measure it. I just put in a drop)
1/4 c of shredded, unsweetened coconut. (I love coconut, so I use more)
Juice of 1/4 lime. Mr. Tea prefers more lime. You can use half a lime of you like.
1 scoop of Paleo pure protein
About 3 ice cubes. Blend. It's very fast. I have a number of smoothie recipes that I make, but that's my favorite.

Scheduling
If you use trainingpeaks.com, you might already be aware of this. I was talking to someone recently, and they didn't know this option existed.
I have to write everything down. EVERYTHING goes into my gmail calendar. Oil change? Yep. Need to go to the grocery store after masters? Yep. Need to schedule an appointment? Yep. I am constantly putting notes into my calendar.
But what if I have a big training day? How do I negotiate that?
Yes. If I need to schedule an appointment, I can open trainingpeaks, then open gmail....but bouncing back and forth is a hassle.
Did you know that trainingpeaks gives you the option to send your training calendar to your "regular" calendar?
YES! Here's where you do it. (You might have to click on the image).


Here's how it looks in my gmail calendar.

BAM! Scheduling appointments is much easier if I know that I have swim masters. It's also helpful to know when I have a hard effort workout because hey.....I'm going to need to eat pretty quickly, and I might not have the energy for a lot of physical work after that. 
Supplements
Other than my multivitamin and iron pill (I'm anemic), I tend to get my vitamins/minerals from food. (My vitamins are Dina approved).
However for the past few years, I'd been reading about the research done on tart cherry juice. The stuff really is amazing. The downside is that the juice has a ton of (natural, not added) sugar and calories. As much as I wanted to try it, I didn't want to add sugar to my diet when I have eliminated it. (Hell, I'd rather have cake than tart cherry juice).
Two months ago, I found this stuff.
This is where the story gets interesting. I never paid attention to any of the research unless it specifically was about training.
The first day I took a pill with breakfast. I noticed that I was noticeably tired, relaxed. It made it hard to get through the day.
That was odd to me. I started reading all the research on Tart Cherry juice. Guess what? It's a sleep aid: A natural sleep aid that boosts your own melatonin and tryptophan.
Now look, since I changed my nutrition, sleep has not been an issue. Still, I thought I'd experiment with it.
I took one pill before dinner. I took a second one at bedtime. The results? I'm out cold at night. I am going into the deepest sleep that I have ever experienced. 
I have no sleep hangover the next morning either. 
There is a caveat. Mike has sleep issues. He tried the 2 pills, and nothing happened. He only did it for one night, and he is double my size. From experience, I've noticed that my sleep has gotten better over time. Second, since he is a bigger person, I think he needs more, like maybe 4 pills. That makes complete sense to me. When we're dealing with supplements, there is always a danger of overdosing on unknowns. Take this all with a grain of salt. I'm just here to say what works for me.

That's it for now. Those are the products or services that make my life easier.

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