November, 2011 | The Cycle Project

Archive for November, 2011


Protein Pumpkin Pancakes


Enjoy these tasty pumpkin pancakes without guilt. Made with almond meal and packed with protein from eggs, these pancakes are sure to satisfy without shortchanging your results.
Servings: 5

Here’s what you need…

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • cooking spray
  1. In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. Heat pancake griddle to medium heat and coat with cooking spray.
  3. Cook each side about 3 minutes until brown, then flip and cook remaining side.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 255 calories, 15g fat, 112mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, and 19g protein.


How My “OCD” Eating Habits Will Save You During Thanksgiving


If any of you have ever eaten with me, you know that I am, shall we say, a picky eater of sorts.  Some have even mentioned OCD, which may be a bit of a stretch.

But as this holiday season is approaching I started thinking about my eating habits, and while they are unique, just how they might actually help you eat more sensibly this year.

So, I have decided to share with you all my eating rules and how those rules will help you control your eating during the holidays.



Rule 1:  Green Salad First On Its Own Plate - If you have a holiday dinner like ours, no one is going to serve you.  You’re on your own, so this rule serves for a lot of useful purposes.

-A small greens salad, and if necessary, applying a SMALL amount of a healthy dressing (oil and vinegar/vinaigrette) will start your meal off with a lot of healthy, nutrient dense, high fiber vegetables, with few calories.

-After eating, you are forced to get up and go back with your dinner plate to get your entrees.  This allows you time to feel full.  Remember, it takes about 15 min for you to feel full after you eat.  Plus, you could burn as much as 15 calories on the walk to the entrees!


Rule 2: Nothing Touches! - Have you ever seen anyone pile his or her plate full of food, on top of more food like a giant food volcano?  I can’t stand that.  I think its gross; I don’t like anything on my plate to be touching.  It weirds me out when things mix.  But think about this.  How much less can you fit on a plate if nothing can touch?  You definitely can’t pile it on which means there are fewer calories to eat from your plate…especially if you get that “there are starving kids in Africa” talk like I do if you don’t clean your plate!


Rule 3: Eat One Thing At A Time - I realize that this is a weird rule too, but eating things in random order feels too much like mixing the food together.  I might as well have it touching on the plate too!

Start with the lean protein first, and then the vegetables, saving the worst items for last.   This works great because after eating the healthy salad, and getting the lean protein eaten first, your meal could be complete if you get full and it would be healthy.  If you are not yet full then move on eating the healthiest things first and saving the worst for last.  Hopefully you will become full and only have room for one or two courtesy bites of the greasy casserole dishes, saving you hundreds of calories.


Rule 4: Socialize - Not only is it a great time to catch up with family that you may not see very often, but going back to the 15 min to feel full thing, it can keep you from overeating!


Rule 5: Water - Our brains control center for hunger and thirst (the hypothalamus) is the same.  So a lot of times we mistake the feeling of thirst for the feeling of hunger, which causes us to snack, instead of hydrate.  So, if you are constantly drinking water before the meal and in between each separate food item you will be sure to stay properly hydrated.  It’s also a good way to keep from drinking too much alcohol, which is full of empty calories.


Focus on the New Additions

So you’ve decided to ditch your old eating habits and to embrace a new diet of lean proteins and lots of veggies. You know that your new eating strategy will lead to many pounds lost…but you can’t get your old favorite foods out of your mind.

Watch out!

When you spend time dwelling on the burgers and pizzas that you loved, you’re setting yourself up for a relapse.

The best way to stick with your new healthy eating habits is to focus on all the new foods that you now enjoy. Get a new cookbook or visit websites that present new and tasty ways to prepare healthy food.

Find new favorite foods to love – foods that are healthy and guilt free.



Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As we focus our attention on staying active and avoiding extra calories, it can be easy to forget the spirit behind the season: Gratitude.

Below are five foods to be thankful for, enjoy guilt-free and share with others.


1. Quinoa

Quinoa is unique because it is the only grain that contains all 22 amino acid proteins. This ancient food was considered sacred among the Incas. During the European conquest of South America, the Spanish conquistadores burned down all the quinoa crops in an effort to rid the indigenous population of their culture. The locals were forced to grow corn instead, and quinoa eventually disappeared off the face of the planet.

In the early 1980s an American couple from Colorado heard of the grain and went out in search of it. They found some remnants, brought it back to the U.S., and started cultivating it. Today quinoa is an inexpensive, complete source of protein for us all.

Quinoa is great not only for vegans and vegetarians but for any athlete looking for a complete protein source.


2. Cinnamon

Besides tasting great, cinnamon also has a rich history. As a spice, it was so highly prized that blood was shed for it. In the first century A.D., 350 grams of cinnamon were equal in value to over five kilograms of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight.

Cinnamon is very warm in nature, which is why it’s so comforting during the winter season. It has been used to cure everything from the common cold to bad breath to diarrhea. Cinnamon is also used in the treatment of Type II diabetes and insulin resistance.

Cinnamon has two qualities that benefit athletes. Firstly, it aids in the circulation of blood due to the presence of a blood thinning compound. Good blood circulation means more oxygen supply to the muscles, which leads to higher metabolic activity. Secondly, cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and helps in muscle and joint stiffness.


3. Chia Seeds

These seeds are an amazing source of Omega-3s. Because our bodies can’t produce Omega-3s, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are nutrients we must consume regularly for optimal health and brain development.

Chia seeds are easy to throw on cereal or yogurt. An additional tip for athletes: If you soak these seeds overnight, they will absorb water and help maintain hydration levels during exercise.


4. Kefir

This probiotic is chock full of good bacteria required for optimal digestion and helps control the gastro-intestinal issues that may plague some athletes. It tastes great when added to oatmeal or cereal.

There are 10 times more bacteria cells in (and on) the human body than there are human cells. A lot of these bacteria are beneficial and necessary. Bacteria are responsible for converting our nutrients into vitamins, promoting stool regularity and boosting our immune system. When good bacteria are using up the space and resources in our bodies, there’s no room for bad bacteria to grow. This is why probiotics like Kefir work to keep athletes healthy.


5. Flax Seeds

Another great source of Omega-3s, these seeds have also been shown to promote bone health by reducing bone loss. This is important for athletes who regenerate bone more frequently than most people. Flax seeds help make active bones less prone to injury.

These seeds also help control blood pressure and have cholesterol-lowering benefits. They are rich in fiber, which helps keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. Eat these seeds ground instead of whole to maximize absorption.

Foods to be thankful for are all around us this season: pumpkin, apples, spices and squash to name a few. Prepare them healthfully and enjoy the holidays.


Your Guide to Eating Out Right

A woman sits at a restaurant studying the menu with furrowed brow. She has begun an exercise routine and knows that her frequent meals out could slow her weight loss results if she wasn’t careful.

When the waiter comes she is still deep in thought over what to order. “What can I get for you?” he asks with a smile. She looks up and frowns, no closer to arriving at a decision. On a whim she blurts out, “I’m trying to eat healthy but I have no idea what to order. What do you think I should eat?”

The young waiter looks startled but quickly rattles off his idea of a healthy meal. “The eggplant and roasted pepper pasta is filled with vegetables. You could get that with a salad.”

The woman smiles. Yes, vegetables do sound healthy. So she orders the veggie pasta with a side salad and a diet soda, then sits back to enjoy a few slices of bread.

That’s a true story. Not surprisingly the woman was unable to lose weight even though she was exercising regularly.

It is said that 80% of your weight loss results are derived from diet, and the remaining 20% from exercise—so you can see how important it is for you to stick with a healthy eating plan.

Use the following tips as your guide to eating out right:

Appetizers are a great way to start out a leisurely meal, but can also derail your good intentions with a quickness.

Don’t Order

  • Anything fried. Fried foods are a favorite, but will do damage that even the most intense workout won’t undo.
  • Creamy dips. These are filled with fat and usually come with something fried to dip in it.
  • Bread. It comes smothered in cheese or seeped in butter, and even when it’s plain it fills you up with more carbohydrates than your body needs.

Do Order

  • Green salad. Ask for very light dressing and no croutons.
  • Antipasto. A plate of thinly sliced meats, olives and cheese will start you off with some protein.
  • Lettuce wraps. These are delicious, protein-filled and low in carbs.

Calories in drinks are sneaky because they don’t fill you up. This means that you end up taking in far more calories than you bargained for.

Don’t Order

  • Regular or diet soda. On one hand you’re drinking corn syrup through a straw, on the other you’re drinking chemicals that cause you to crave sweets. It’s a no win situation.
  • Sweet cocktails. Many restaurants are advertizing sweet cocktails –resist the urge. Sugar plus alcohol equals loads of unneeded calories.
  • Sweetened tea. You may feel righteous for ordering iced tea, but if it’s sweetened then you may as well be drinking fully loaded soda.

Do Order

  • Water. Don’t laugh! Water is the best beverage of all.
  • Unsweetened iced tea. Don’t ruin it by adding that packet of sugar. Learn to enjoy the natural sweetness to the tea.
  • Red wine. Stick to one glass, and drink responsibly.

This is where the real damage is done. When you order something carb-loaded you leave the restaurant feeling heavy and lethargic—you may not even realize this until you start eating better and experience the light, energetic way you’ll feel after eating a healthy meal.

Don’t Order

  • Pasta. I don’t care if it comes with red sauce or white sauce, meat or veggies. If you’re trying to lose weight and maintain a lean body then never, ever order a plate of pasta.
  • Pizza. Another dish that has far more carbohydrates than you need. If you’re craving the pizza toppings then simply order those over a salad.
  • Burgers. If you really want a burger then ditch the bun and the fries, and have your patty wrapped in lettuce.

Do Order:

  • Lean meat with vegetables. Fish, steak, chicken, take your pick and pair it with green vegetables.
  • Salad with protein. Ask for very light dressing and make sure you have a nice piece of protein on it.
  • Soup and salad. Stick with broth based soups that contain protein and pass on the breadsticks.

If you want to expedite your results then consider working with me on a fitness plan that will turn you into a fat burning machine.


Low Carb Pumpkin Muffins


Here’s a muffin that isn’t sugary, starchy and devoid of nutrients – like the muffins at your favorite coffee shop. These muffins are rich in beta-carotene and contain half an egg’s worth of high quality protein. The delicately sweet flavor will satisfy and have you coming back for more.
Servings: 12

Here’s what you need…

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (find at natural foods store)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 pecans for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Oil muffin pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut flour, spices, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl, place the pumpkin puree then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add melted coconut, honey and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, blend with a whisk until most lumps have disappeared.
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin pan, filling each muffin 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden.
  6. Place on wire rack to cool.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 127 calories, 7g fat, 230mg sodium, 11.7g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, and 5g protein.


Your Winter Sports Nutrition Guide

By Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD


If you are a winter athlete, you want to pay careful attention to your sports diet. Otherwise, lack of food and fluids can take the fun out of your outdoor activities. These tips can help you fuel wisely for cold weather workouts.


Winter Hydration Tips

Failing to drink enough fluids is a major mistake. A study comparing the hydration status of athletes who skied or played football or soccer, reported the skiers had the highest rate of chronic dehydration. Before a competition, 11 of the 12 alpine skiers showed up dehydrated.

Some winter athletes purposefully skimp on fluids to minimize the need to urinate. There’s no doubt that undoing layer after layer of clothing (ski suit, hockey gear, etc.) can be a hassle. Yet dehydration hurts performance and is one cause of failed mountaineering adventures.

Cold blunts the thirst mechanism; you’ll feel less thirsty despite significant sweat loss and may not “think to drink.”

Winter athletes (especially those skiing at high altitudes) need to consciously consume fluids to replace the water vapor that gets exhaled via breathing. When you breathe in cold dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. As you exhale, you lose significant amounts of water. You can see this vapor (“steam”) when you breathe.

Unless you are hot, you do not want to drink icy water (i.e., from a water bottle kept on your bike or outside pocket of your pack). Cold water can cool you off and give you the chills. The better bet is having an insulated water bottle or a bottle filled with a hot sports drink, then covered with a wool sock to help retain the heat.

Dress in layers so you sweat less. Sweaty clothing drains body heat. As the weather becomes “tropical” inside your exercise outfit, make the effort to strip down. You’ll stay drier and warmer. Simply taking off a hat is cooling—30 to 40 percent of body heat is lost through the head.


Winter Fuel Tips

You need adequate pre-exercise fuel to generate body heat. Hence, you want to fuel-up before you embark on winter exercises, particularly before you ski, run outside, or embark on any outdoor activity in extreme cold.

Food’s overall warming effect is known as thermogenesis (that is, “heat making”). Your body generates about 10 percent more heat after eating than on an empty stomach. Eating not only provides fuel but also increases heat production (warmth).

Aerobic workouts can increase your metabolism by seven to 10 times above the resting level. So if you were to exercise hard for an hour and dissipate no heat, you could cook yourself in the process. In the summer, your body sweats heavily to dissipate this heat. But in the winter, the warmth helps you survive in a cold environment. Exercise is an excellent way to warm up in the winter.

If you become chilled during winter exercise (or even when swimming), you’ll likely find yourself searching for food. A drop in body temperature stimulates the appetite and you experience hunger. Your body wants fuel to “stoke the furnace” so it can generate heat.

For safety, you should always carry some source of emergency food (such as an energy bar) with you in case you slip on the ice or experience some incident that leaves you static in a frigid environment. Winter campers, for example, commonly keep a supply of dried fruit, chocolate, or cookies within reach, in case they wake up cold in the middle of the night.

Energy Needs

Cold weather itself does not increase energy needs, but you will burn extra calories if your body temperature drops and you start to shiver. Shivering is involuntary muscle tensing that generates heat.

When you first become slightly chilled (such as when watching a football game), you’ll find yourself doing an isometric type of muscle tensing that can increase your metabolic rate two to four times.

As you get more chilled, you’ll find yourself hopping from foot to foot and jumping around. This is nature’s way to get you to generate heat and warm your body.

If you become so cold that you start to shiver, these vigorous muscular contractions generate lots of heat—perhaps 400 calories per hour. Such intense shivering quickly depletes your muscle glycogen stores and drains your energy. This is when you’ll be glad you have emergency food with you.

Your body uses a considerable amount of energy to warm and humidify the air you breathe when you exercise in the cold. For example, if you were to burn 600 calories while cross-country skiing for an hour in 0 degrees, you might use about 150 of those calories to warm the inspired air. In summer, you would have dissipated that heat via sweat.

If you wear heavy clothes, you will burn a few more calories carrying the extra weight of skis, boots, heavy parka, snow shoes, etc. The Army allows 10 percent more calories for heavily clad troops who exercise in the cold. If you are a runner, however, the weight of your extra clothing is minimal. Think twice before chowing down.


Winter Recovery Foods

To chase away chills:

  • replenish depleted glycogen stores
  • rehydrate your body
  • enjoy warm carbohydrates with a little protein (oatmeal with nuts, lentil soup, chili)

The warm food, added to the thermogenic effect of eating, contributes to rapid recovery. In comparison, eating cold foods and frozen fluids can chill your body. Save the slushie for summer workouts. In winter, you want warm foods to fuel your workouts. Bring out the mulled cider or thermos of soup!

Winter Weight Gain

Many athletes bemoan winter weight gain. Some eat too much because they are bored and less active. Others experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the change of seasons has a marked affect on their mood. Changes in brain chemicals increase carbohydrate cravings and the desire to eat more. The temptations of winter holiday foods can also contribute to weight gain.

To limit winter weight gain, stay active. Exercise helps manage health, weight, and the winter blues. The tricks are to invest in proper clothing, fuel well, and prevent dehydration so you can stay warm and enjoy winter’s outdoor wonderland.




Burn The Most

Activities that require the coordination of your entire body, such as jogging, swimming, and the elliptical trainer, burn more calories than stabilized activities, such as a stationary bike. For maximal calorie burning, choose cardiovascular exercises that use your entire body.



Though triathlon is indeed “a” sport, triathletes must be able to do the three sports (swimming, cycling and running) in a manner that gets them across the finish line in the least amount of time. As a triathlete, you may or may not be aiming for a spot on the podium but you probably want to be fast—your personal definition of fast.

In order to be a fast triathlete you need to train like a triathlete, even in the offseason. You need to train for the demands of the sport of triathlon. Your winter or offseason training needs to compliment your training in the competitive season.

Here are six strategies for your offseason training to help you be a better triathlete when race season rolls around.

1) Optimize the number of workout sessions or your workout frequency.

If you have a single-sport history, say swimming as an example, more than likely you swam six days per week and sometimes you swam twice per day. If you try to apply that template to cycling and running for your triathlon plan, aiming for six sessions per sport per week, is a sure recipe for injury or overtraining issues.

Triathletes should aim to do two to three workout sessions per sport, per week. This means you will swim two to three times, bike two to three times, and run two to three times. If you are new to the sport, or it is your offseason, one or two workouts per sport each week is a great start.

As you gain experience, get closer to race season, and increase your triathlon performance aspirations, there may be times when you have four weekly workout sessions in one, or more, of the sports.

2) Strength train for triathlon, not body building.

There are differing opinions on the value of weight training in the offseason. I think most triathletes gain value by adding strength training to their offseason program. The value is increased power output on the bike, reducing the likelihood of injuries by correcting muscular imbalances and working on core body strength and stability.

In the weight room, focus on multiple-muscle movements that complement the sport of triathlon. Minimize the exercises that isolate a particular muscle.

3) Plan fast workouts.

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing six workout sessions per week or nine; plan to go fast in some of them. Your body needs the stress of fast workouts—and recovery—in order to make gains.

In the offseason, make the fast segments of your workouts short with long recovery intervals. Miracle intervals on an indoor trainer are a good example of this principle or the speedy segments can be just simple 20-second accelerations. Because the fast segments are very short and you can keep the number of repeats low, you can include some speedy segments in nearly all of your workouts.

I will say there are some coaches that make the offseason completely aerobic—no efforts above the aerobic level, whatsoever. I am not one of those coaches and I believe keeping some fast training in your routine in the offseason is critical.

4) Remove threshold intervals in the offseason.

Though you should keep some fast segments in your training for most of the year, do not keep flogging yourself with the same old lactate threshold workouts year-round. Repeating high-intensity workouts day in and day out leads to boredom, risk of injury and certainly a plateau in performance.

When do you begin to add threshold training back into the fold? The answer depends on your short term and long term goals.

5) Plan key workouts.

Make your “hard” workouts count towards performance increases. These hard sessions should be considered key workouts. A key workout can work on improving your speed, endurance or in some cases both. Depending on what you’re doing in the weight room, a key session may be a strength session in the offseason.

A good rule of thumb is to limit your key workouts to between two and four per week—total in all sports.

6) Consider a single-sport focus in the offseason.

If your swim is your weak link in your races, try swimming four or five days per week. Keep your swimming and cycling workouts easy and limit them to only one or two per week. If cycling is your weak link, try adding a weekly group ride as one of your key workouts. If running is your weak link, add one more run session per week, but keep an eye on injury indicators.

In all cases of single-sport focus, consider spending four to six months training for a single-sport event (a swim meet, a cycling event or a running race) while keeping the other sports maintained at a minimum level.

With some key changes to your training routine and consistency in the offseason, you will be a better—and faster—triathlete next season.


Weight Gain Season Begins

It’s here—whether you’re ready or not. Just look at the seasonal shelves in your favorite store. Retailers like to call it ‘holiday season’ but let’s be more accurate.

Weight Gain season begins now and runs straight through New Year’s.

The next two months will bring ample opportunity for you to expand your waistline. Of course the choice is yours.

Why discuss it now and not mid way through December? Because now is your opportunity to plan for the weeks ahead. Once the craziness begins, you’ll be too busy to put a plan into action.

So let’s take this moment of clarity, this calm before the storm, to outline a two-part plan that will save your waist from unwanted holiday inches.

1) Part One: Your Exercise Plan. Exercise is the first thing people cut when they get busy, and the holiday season is notorious for empty gyms. This year do something different—obligate yourself to exercise. Promising to yourself won’t do it, you need to promise to others so that you won’t drop the ball.

  • Sign up to work with a fitness expert – This is the perfect solution for consistent, challenging and effective workouts. I’ll give you the attention and assistance that you need to power through the holidays in better shape than ever – talk about motivating!
  • Join a class – You won’t be as effective exercising on your own during the busy holiday season, so join a class for accountability. Find something challenging that gets your heart rate elevated and uses strength training.
  • Get a serious exercise buddy – Some friends can be an awesome help while others end up pulling you down. When looking for an exercise buddy consider the following questions:
    – Do they share your fitness goals?
    – Are they fairly encouraging?
    – Do they give up easily?
    – Are they at your fitness level?

2) Part Two: Your Diet Plan.The holidays offer ample opportunities to indulge, so you need to hammer down some guidelines before hitting that buffet line. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t indulge in any seasonal treats, but use moderation. Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to eat until the point of being uncomfortable – will you really miss that bloated feeling? Decide which treats to cut out this year.

  • Don’t bring edible treats to the office or to parties. You know that the leftovers will come home and you’ll end up eating far more than your share. This year do everyone a favor by not gifting fattening treats.
  • When faced with a buffet line, load your plate first with greens, vegetables and lean meats before breads and heavier foods. Also drink water with your meal and keep alcoholic beverages to a 2-drink maximum.
  • Beware of holiday drinks – most are brimming with calories. Hot drinks from coffee shops, cocktails at parties and creamy eggnog are all very enjoyable and all filled with empty calories. Stick with hot tea or unsweetened coffee.
  • Everywhere you go during the holiday season brings you face-to-face with a plate of sweets. To avoid being a bore but without adding inches to your waist, try the one treat rule. Each time you’re in a social situation that involves sweets just eat one, and enjoy your treat slowly.

You don’t have to gain weight this holiday season. The key is your mindset.

If you approach the holidays with the mindset of, ‘I deserve to indulge and I shouldn’t have to exercise’ then you’ll enter 2012 a few pounds heavier, a little less healthy, and with lower energy than ever before.

I believe that you deserve better. I believe that you should enter 2012 in better shape than you are today, healthier than you’ve been in a long time, and with more energy than you thought possible.

I’m here to help – call or reply to this email to set up a fitness consultation with me. I’d love to show you how to transform your body over the weeks to come.