How Focusing on Nutrition Helped

How Nutrition Changed my Training (and probably my life)

by: Rachel Jordan

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I grew up as a dancer, which meant nutrition wasn’t ever a topic of conversation. In fact, the less you eat the better. I have always been small-petite, you might say-but I had a butt that no matter how hard I squeezed, it never went away in those dang tights and leotards. I never bought into the idea of becoming a professional dancer, so I managed to get away with eating pretty much whatever I wanted. So that’s why, when I started training for triathlons my freshman year of college, I still had the mentality of not eating much (looking back it’s amazing I didn’t get sick). That all changed once I started hanging out with cyclists. They told me things like, “You have to eat more sugar because your body burns it so quickly” and “you get faster and stronger the more you eat.” So I started eating a lot more- a lot more sugar in particular. (At this point, protein or calories weren’t even on my radar).

It wasn’t until I got a cycling coach (bless her) that dialed in my training and caused me to subsequently focus on my nutrition to keep up. I sought out a legit nutritionist to help figure out how I could eat better and manage gut issues that started when I was racing at higher intensities (too much sugar is no bueno for me). You guys, a year ago I still didn’t even know what the heck ‘hydration’ or ‘recovery’ mix was. Water? Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself at the things you know now.

Anyway, this past winter (2018-2019) I had the primary goal of getting as strong and healthy as I could, and this included changing my nutrition. I used My Fitness Pal to see what I was eating on a regular basis. It turned out I was eating way too much fat and not enough protein. Side note: the goal of getting strong also was aided by the goal of gaining weight (in a healthy way), because in my mind this was equivalent to getting stronger.

Another life-changing discovery occurred after talking to some friends about sugar and GI issues. I realized I have high sensitivities to certain types of sugars and fats, often in combinations of each other. FODMAP stands for "fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols". These are types of carbs that are resistant to digestion. Instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream, they reach the far end of your intestine where most of your gut bacteria reside.

So, after these discoveries were made, we worked to reduce my sugar and fat intake and up my protein (the Lord knows I eat enough carbs, so that was pretty much fine). I wasn’t counting calories, exactly, but I was tracking the amounts of everything I ate. For someone who has never “dieted” or thought about my food before, this was difficult at first, but it got easier. Especially when I started noticing my body changing. I had muscle definition I had never seen before- I even had ab veins! My body more similarly resembled a 15-year old boy’s soccer body than a more feminine one. Also, making my own ride food was a game-changer (this way I could control how much sugar, fat, carbs, etc. went into them, plus they were dang yummy).

Needless to say, after all the hard work, I still weigh the exact same amount as I did last summer. BUT I feel strong and healthy, and that is what matters. I am no longer tracking my food, and I let myself eat avocados and peanut butter now. I pretty much eat what I want as long as I am meeting my daily goals, and it sure is helpful to know what foods to avoid so I can keep fueling myself and staying healthy. The one thing I think focusing on my nutrition has allowed me to do is view food as fuel for my body, rather than just enjoying what I’m craving in that moment.

Having cycling teammates that feel strongly about eating well, a cycling coach that understands the importance of fueling, and using the support of a nutritionist has really transformed my relationship with food and ability to race me bike!!!

 

I grew up as a dancer, which meant nutrition wasn’t ever a topic of conversation. In fact, the less you eat the better. I have always been small-petite, you might say-but I had a butt that no matter how hard I squeezed, it never went away in those dang tights and leotards. I never bought into the idea of becoming a professional dancer, so I managed to get away with eating pretty much whatever I wanted. So that’s why, when I started training for triathlons my freshman year of college, I still had the mentality of not eating much (looking back it’s amazing I didn’t get sick). That all changed once I started hanging out with cyclists. They told me things like, “You have to eat more sugar because your body burns it so quickly” and “you get faster and stronger the more you eat.” So I started eating a lot more- a lot more sugar in particular. (At this point, protein or calories weren’t even on my radar).

It wasn’t until I got a cycling coach (bless her) that dialed in my training and caused me to subsequently focus on my nutrition to keep up. I sought out a legit nutritionist to help figure out how I could eat better and manage gut issues that started when I was racing at higher intensities (too much sugar is no bueno for me). You guys, a year ago I still didn’t even know what the heck ‘hydration’ or ‘recovery’ mix was. Water? Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself at the things you know now.

Anyway, this past winter (2018-2019) I had the primary goal of getting as strong and healthy as I could, and this included changing my nutrition. I used My Fitness Pal to see what I was eating on a regular basis. It turned out I was eating way too much fat and not enough protein. Side note: the goal of getting strong also was aided by the goal of gaining weight (in a healthy way), because in my mind this was equivalent to getting stronger.

Another life-changing discovery occurred after talking to some friends about sugar and GI issues. I realized I have high sensitivities to certain types of sugars and fats, often in combinations of each other. FODMAP stands for "fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols". These are types of carbs that are resistant to digestion. Instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream, they reach the far end of your intestine where most of your gut bacteria reside.

So, after these discoveries were made, we worked to reduce my sugar and fat intake and up my protein (the Lord knows I eat enough carbs, so that was pretty much fine). I wasn’t counting calories, exactly, but I was tracking the amounts of everything I ate. I also started taking a daily vitamin, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on anything!! I went for the Swisse Women’s Ultivite bc it is naturally based & a trusted brand! For someone who has never “dieted” or thought about my food before, this was difficult at first, but it got easier. Especially when I started noticing my body changing. I had muscle definition I had never seen before- I even had ab veins! My body more similarly resembled a 15-year old boy’s soccer body than a more feminine one. Also, making my own ride food was a game-changer (this way I could control how much sugar, fat, carbs, etc. went into them, plus they were dang yummy).

Needless to say, after all the hard work, I still weigh the exact same amount as I did last summer. BUT I feel strong and healthy, and that is what matters. I am no longer tracking my food, and I let myself eat avocados and peanut butter now. I pretty much eat what I want as long as I am meeting my daily goals, and it sure is helpful to know what foods to avoid so I can keep fueling myself and staying healthy. The one thing I think focusing on my nutrition has allowed me to do is view food as fuel for my body, rather than just enjoying what I’m craving in that moment.

Having cycling teammates that feel strongly about eating well, a cycling coach that understands the importance of fueling, and using the support of a nutritionist has really transformed my relationship with food and ability to race me bike!!!


I balance super healthy meals with homemade ride treats!

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Some of my go-to’s include:

  • Sourdough bread

  • White or Bazmati rice (add PB2 + syrup for a ride snack)

  • Kale

  • Ground turkey

  • Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt

  • Lots and lots of fresh ginger

  • Osmo Hydration Mix

  • Vega Sport Chocolate Protein Powder

  • Bananas (only the greener ones)

  • Luna Bars

  • Homemade banana bread

  • Swisse Women’s Ultivite Daily Vitamin

Lori Nedescu