Friday, June 29, 2012

Food Facts Friday: The evil side of yeast extract!

I write this pool-side, sipping a little Jack Daniels (I said a little), snacking on some Annie's Organic Cheddar Snack Mix, while mini-man flexes....
...reading a Food Renegade article on "How to Decode Annie's Organic Cheddar Snack Mix Ingredients". Wait, what? Even Annie is deceiving us?
Even Annie's?

So what's so bad about Annie's? 
They're tasty, a little salty - which is a good way to replenish that much needed sodium after working out or running on a hot day - and great with a little JD ( did I mention Jack, again? My bad) when your poolside, pre-dinner time.

I thought Annie's Organic Cheddar Snack Mix was a good choice - made with no cholesterol or added sugar, low in saturated fat and it's organic - so I know there's no GMO's, ya' know, heaven forbid I slip and eat, or drink something made with a GMO (lie to me if JD is really made with genetically modified corn mash)! 

Annie's Organic Cheddar Snack Mix is even made with organic wheat flour, organic expeller pressed vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower), annatto extract for natural color and organic paprika ...heck it's even made with organic cheddar cheese & cheese cultures rest assured, those cows pumping out the milk for Annie's Organic Cheddar Snack Mix were raised on open pastures without any hormones or antibiotics!
Let's face it, it's an over-thinker's dream snack!
Well, that was until I read on....
Okay, big deal -  the wheat flour is refined and processed and not a whole grain, full of B vitamins. Alright, I can make some concessions - I love these little bunny crackers, and what, I eat like a handful ...with a couple of sips of my Jack? Another honorable mention ...maybe Jack Daniels would like to sponsor my 50 state 1/2 marathon challenge ....I can dream ...

Reading further....
Now, what's this mambo jumbo about expeller pressed oil? I thought expeller pressed oil was good? I thought they just took the safflower or sunflower seeds and pressed them under high pressure to get out all the delicious oil? No ...the seeds are also pressed under high temperatures? 

Hmm, aren't high temperatures bad for polyunsaturated oils, like safflower and sunflower oil? I remember making Christmas Cookies one time and I used oil that was rancid. My sissy will never let me live that one down! I just stored the oil wrong - I kept it in the cabinet above the oven ...where it's hot. Not a good place for oil 'cause the heat can make oil go rancid. So, how does Annie's get away without that rancid stuff happening to the seed's oils in their snack mix?
Reportedly, the oil is bleached and deodorized
to overcome the rancid smell and taste!
Ooooh, Annie!
That' doesn't sound very Organic!
Okay. I'm holding on, here. Let me take another sip of my Jack, while I brace myself for more bad news on the Annie's Organic Cheddar Snack Mix ....
Yeast Extract!
Is There An Evil Side To Yeast Extract?
Reportedly, yeast extract "ALWAYS" contains free glutamic acid, otherwise known as MSG, or Mono-Sodium Glutamate!
Not my Annie's Cheddar Cheese Snack Mix!
But I thought MSG was considered GRAS, Generally Recognized As Safe by the US Food & Drug Association?
Well, MSG is considered GRAS, but for some people who are sensitive to MSG, consuming yeast extract can promote the same type of reactions that MSG causes, such as 
numbness or tingling in the face, neck or arms
heart palpitations or rapid heart beat
 & weakness. 
Depending on the level of sensitivity, these symptoms can be short lived, or last for hours. 
The whole idea here is the deception
Claiming that a product is organic, and then intentionally adding an ingredient containing free glutamate, known by some to be a "excitotoxin" (because it can over-excite the appetite and promote over-eating) is really a big let down, better known as
I really do enjoy Annie's Organic Cheddar Snack Mix, but knowing that there's a little processed food greenwashing going on, I am sure my homemade organic dried fruit and nut mix will be a fine substitute next time I decide to sip on some JD, poolside!
Cheers Mate!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back at the track!

I made it to the track today!
First time in about 1month.
I ran 1.75 warm-up miles, stretched and did some fast twitch straight leg swings squeezing my quads, hammies, glutes and core.

Next, Coach had me run some sprints. I was definitely afraid to re-injure myself. I ran four 100meter sprints and was surprised to see that I could push out each one in about 22/23seconds.
Then Coach told me to try six 400meters at 7minute pace.
I did - even had some at 6:40pace!
BUT ...the best part pain!

Coach asked if I wanted to do 2more sets.
Of course, I said,"YES!"
Before ya' knew it ....
I'm was finished with that guy!
Overall, it was a great first day back at the track. 
I felt wiped out after all eight 400meters, but I pushed out a slow cool down mile and followed up with lots and lots of stretching. Tonight, I am definitely foam rolling and icing. My quads, hammies and piriformis are already starting to feel very tight!
I'm going to take it easy tomorrow, 
and run only 4 easy miles or SPIN on Saturday.
I also have to remember to 
take it slow, to go fast

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Something" Core ...

So we finally had another meeting with the engineering firm that is developing the prototype to our portable core training exercise device. When we walked into the office, we saw this black sheet. Under the sheet was the new prototype.
It was very dramatic!
Haven't come up with a name for this yet:
Maybe "Something" Core?
It's fun to speculate at the potential uses for this little device. It would be a dream come true just to see this device go to production and market, but when the engineer brought up possible uses, like in occupational therapy, he got me thinking ...

My mind started and sparks were flying!
Rare, but every now and then it happens.
I thought of all the stroke patients I meet at the Rehab Center.
That's when I almost lost it. 
If this device were successful and could be used in rehabilitation to help people, well, it would be:
THE single best thing I have been a part of in my life, 
of course, 
having two incredible and wonderful children!
I was so happy, I could have cried.
What a blessing that would be ....

There are still a few kinks to work out and we are still quite a ways from production, but it has been one crazy experience seeing this idea unfold, get patented, prototyped and now grow in terms of use and application!
And to celebrate...lunch at Bung's!
Sidekick. He looks upset. But we just had such great news.
Must be that the Mets keep losing to the Yankees!
Awww, so sad!
Go Yankees, Go Yankees, Go Yankees!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Fueling for a late day race.

This year, I will not be running in the local 5K Lager Run. 

I have been running very slowly and cautiously and can't risk hurting my knee again. At least I've been running, and beggars can't be choosers!

Last year after this race, I was disappointed. I thought I could have run much faster. I blame my less than optimal time on the fact that I ate lunch too late in the day, I ate too much and I ate the wrong food. When I ran, I felt like the food was sloshing around in my stomach and I was really uncomfortable.

After the race, I remember meeting up with Miss Fast-ee Pants and telling her that I wish I ran faster. I blamed my lunch. She proceeded to tell me what she ate. Of course, it was all the right amount and type of food, which was probably why she blew by everyone (even the guys in our running club), took first in her age group and made the local high school track star run home crying ...or something like that!

So all year, I planned and plotted what I was going to eat before this race. But what the heck, it doesn't matter now - I could eat a pint of ice cream before the race ...
But if I were to run, I would plan 24hours in advance. 
"Cause everyone knows, true pre-race meal
planning starts 24hours before the race!
But, besides that. 
I'm talking about the timing of the meals leading up to a late day race,
and more specifically, what I would eat immediately before the Lager run.
This year, I was going to pay more attention to the 
glycemic index and glycemic load of my meals on race day.

Using the glycemic index (GI) of foods is a great way to determine what foods you should eat before, during or after a run. Glycemic index is a way to measure the effects carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels. GI is used as a rough estimate to determine how much and how fast each gram of carbohydrate (total carbs - fiber) raises a person's blood glucose levels after food has been consumed. In general, high GI foods reach the blood stream quickly, but low GI foods reach the blood stream slowly. 

Research states that it's best to eat low GI foods 1hour pre-race so the that carbs can slowly allow the blood sugar to raise and provide muscles with a great source of energy come race-time and then, throughout the race. The idea here is to encourage the body's ability to utilize free fatty acids for energy, and avoid a spike in blood glucose leading to that "crash", which makes you feel like you've run out of energy. In general, low GI foods are fruits, vegetables, legumes, chick peas, nuts and beans.

I could eat some fruit, veggies and nuts 3hours pre-race, but never 1hour before a race - that just wouldn't work for me and my stomach. So, even though research articles recommend you go for the low GI food 1hour pre-race, each person is different and must consider their own individual physiology & experiences.

That's why this year, I would have planned all my meals throughout the day. In general, I eat breakfast at 7:30AM, have a 10AM snack, eat lunch about 12:30PM and have another snack around 3:30PM. At 3:30PM, I could have had that low GI snack, like an apple or banana with some peanut butter, but by the time 6PM came around, I know I would start to get hungry again.
Please Sir, may I have some more?
This year, I would have strategized. I would have taken advantage of foods that had a high GI and eaten them 15-30minutes pre-race. Something easy to digest, something that wouldn't give me gastro--problems. No combinations of foods (protein, fat & carbs), just strictly pure carbohydrate, with a high GI index. This would would have been like graham crackers, pretzels, rice cakes (and not whole grain - been there, done that, not pretty), dry cereal (like cheerios), or maybe a combo of these with a sports gel, like Rocktane for caffeine.
The key to how much I eat 15-30minutes pre-race 
depends on glycemic load (GL).

The glycemic load estimates the impact of carbs using the GI, while taking into account the amount of carbs consumed. So, take M&M's, it's candy, so of course it has a high GI. If you only eat 3 M&M's, if that's actually possible, you're not really eating that many carbs, so the glycemic effect (or glycemic load, GL) is low. While GI is specific for each type of food, the GL is dependent on how much of that food you eat.

There really isn't too much consistent research on GL and its effects on exercise, but you could use your own individual physiology and experiences to determine your own GL 15-30minutes before a race. As a guideline, I have used some research that was done on runners to determine the effects of a pre-race carbohydrate beverage on endurance. In this research, it appeared that 1g carb per 1kg body weight 15minutes prior to a run allowed runners to last 12.8% more than the control group. For me, that's about 200calories (1g carbs = 4Kcals). This could be (roughly) 1cup of lemonade, sports drink or coconut water with 2 graham crackers, 5 cinnamon pita chips, 3/4 cup of cheerios, 1 sports gel, or a rice cake.

And, it would've been like, 'Watch out Miss Fastee-Pants!'
Hey, I can dream.
Next year, though, I will be out there -
fueled properly and ready to race! 
This year, I'm just going to watch ....
Uuuuh, did the runners go by, yet?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday At The Track: No Weird Grinding!

Today went like this:
Woke up at 5:03. Got dressed, made the bed, made coffee, grabbed a Klean Kanteen - filled it 1/2 water & 1/2coconut water, ate 1/2 a NoGu Organic Protein Bar w/some coffee, hopped in the car and went to the gym.
Driving Girlfriend's car to the gym was weird with the word "Señor 2013"
on every square inch of window!
At the gym, I warmed up with the rower for about 10minutes. I like getting a little Ab workout on the rower, so I put my feet on the ground, instead of the foot rests. I can always feel it in my obliques if I twist a bit while I pull.

Next more Abs, Bi's, Tri's, Quads and Hammies. This was the first day I was able to do hamstring curls without pain! Yeay!
So far, So boring, right?
Next stop, home to make sure the kiddies are up and moving, eating and getting ready for school. Ate my usual Cheerios with organic blueberries and granola and crushed flax seeds.
I do love to mortar & pestle the crap out of those flax seeds!
Kids are off. Read some e-mails to Rehab.
I'm new at this rehab stuff, so I don't know what's going to happen each time I go. Today, my PT heated up the whole left side, IT band and quad. Then he manipulated my knee cap, stretching the ligaments that hold it in place. Then came the It band, quad, piriformis and hammie stretches - I did not know I could stretch so far!
Well, hello Boys & Girls.
To stretch your piriformis, start in this position!
Who remembers Gumby in black & white?
Okay, I'm really dating myself!
Then, wait for it ...the real excitement in my day happened: Electrical Stim. The PT put gel on my left quad and smooshed on two rubber disks over the gel. The disks were attached to two wires, which, when he turned the machine on, tightened my quad muscle (VMO) up like I was contracting the muscle. It was the weirdest feeling. Almost like getting a little electric shock. I had to squeeze my left quad every time the impulses turned on, which was every 10seconds. Everyone was making fun of me 'cause I was really dorky laughing, cringing, yelling, "OMG, This is so weird!"
What can I say. 
It was weird!
Then everyone started to stare like they were worried and wondering why I was freaking out?
"Is it too much for you?"
Inner voice: Shut up, girl or they're going to turn this thing down. You wanna run don't you? They think you're complaining, hold it together and heal! Heal little patella heal!
"No, I'm fine, thanks." was weird!
After the electric stim, the PT taped me up & I was free to go.
Granny Knee!
Me: "Can I run? 'Cause I was gonna try 5miles today?"
PT: "I think you'll be fine.
Holy you know what! That's all he had to say ...
Next Stop: 
Home to get my sneakers, Garmin, heart rate monitor and sunglasses. 
And another Klean Kanteen - filled with 1/2water & 1/2coconut water.
It's like 100*F (37.7*C) today, which I thought was okay 'cause it would force me to take it slow. And slow I did ...
Now, that's what I call exciting!
I know, it doesn't take much!
But the best part about this run was the post run pain: 
My knee didn't hurt or have this weird grinding feeling I've been experiencing, and no, this is not because I can remember Gumby in black & white!

On the subject of Gumby (again), one thing I do religiously after every work out is stretch. And I don't skimp. I repeat all the stretches I do in rehab, hold for 30' and repeat for 3sets.
Stretching can be boring, 
especially after all the 'excitement' 
I experience each day! 
But it's definitely helping. 
I encourage all runners to stretch.
If you have a favorite, share them here...
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Fat rap!

I grew up post 'Twiggy', where skinny was beautiful, and fat was out ...and all fat was BAD, cause it well, it made you fat. Soon low-fat cookies, cakes, margarines & dairy products crowded the grocery shelves. 
Fast forward to 2012, 
where about 18% of all US children and about 67% of US adults 
are overweight or obese.
I guess those fat free cookies didn't help!
Maybe fat just got a bad rap?

How can it be that some people have really high cholesterol levels, and others, no problem? You've heard the stories - old Aunt Harriet has been eating two eggs everyday for breakfast for the last 95years and her ticker and arteries are just fine!

I just love Maxine!
That's because there's a difference between blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol.
It turns out that only a small amount of cholesterol in our diet (like 1/4) contributes to our blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol in our blood is not just controlled by what we eat, but also by our genetics. 
Maybe old Aunt Harriet has some good genes, 
and she doesn't make cholesterol, 
even though she eat foods high in cholesterol. 

Blood cholesterol is manufactured in our liver and carried through the blood in little packages, called lipoproteins. There are a couple of different types of these little lipoprotein packages, but two of the most popular are low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). For people that make cholesterol, it s*#cks - those peeps have an inherited predisposition which leads them to make cholesterol, so they really need to watch what they eat (eh,hem ...DAD!).

But if eating foods high in cholesterol doesn't really influence cholesterol levels, then why do we need to watch what we eat? 

Mainly because we don't want a lot of the bad cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol, in our blood. If LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of the arteries that feed the brain and heart, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
That yellow stuff is cholesterol deposits is an artery.
Gross, right?
A big influence on our LDL levels is SATURATED FAT and TRANS FAT.
Saturated fat is found in animal products, dairy products (whole & 2% milk, ice cream & cheese), butter, and tropical oils - like coconut oil, palm oil & coco butter. Trans fat, like partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils, can be found in fried fast food, baked goods (cake & doughnuts) and processed sweets (candy). 

Another type of fat made in our bodies are the triglycerides. Blood triglyceride levels are really tied into lifestyle habits, like smoking, excess alcohol consumption and stress, inactivity and being overweight or obese. It's also not uncommon for people who have high triglyceride levels to have high cholesterol levels.
There is also a good side to fat
Just like high levels of LDL are bad, high HDL blood levels (>40mg/dL) are good. Some think that HDL can remove unhealthy cholesterol build-up from arteries!
Woo Hoo!
Foods that raise your HDL levels  are considered 'healthy fats'. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are health fats. Think of these as those fats that are liquid at room temperature.

Healthy monounsaturated fats include olive, canola, sunflower or corn oil, as well as oils from nuts, like almonds, peanuts, pistachios and cashews. These fats are where we find the essential Omega-6 nutrient (essential because our bodies can't make it, but has to come from food).

Healthy polyunsaturated fats include soybean oil, walnuts, sunflower, chia, flax  and sesame seeds, and fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, herring. These fats are where we find the essential Omega-3 nutrient. These are my favorite because they help fight inflammation
Still hurt running, yesterday!
Sushi salmon rolls, tonight!
So, next time you want a salty snack, like fries or chips, go for a small handful of pistachios, cashews or almonds. If you are trying to fight the sweet attack and crave cake, cookies or candy, mix some flaxseed into your favorite low fat yogurt or some dates into your favorite nut mix. Maybe you can replace that meat dish once a week with some fresh tuna or salmon. And ....
Exercise raises your HDL levels and lowers your triglyceride levels!
How much? What type? Look here!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday (Night) at the track: ROAR!

That's right! 
I ran 2.55miles on the track tonight!
I met Coach, took it slow and ran for 21.2 minutes!
I even taped up my own knee!
My Chondromalacia Patella pain is subsiding. It has to be all the stretching and strengthening exercises the PT prescribed. I stretch my quads, hammies, IT band, inner & outer thighs and my gastrocnemius twice a day! I hold each stretch for 30seconds and do about three sets per side. I even bought that Pro-Stretch for my plantar fasciitis pain.
This Pro-Stretch doesn't look like much, but it works!
And the knee strengthening exercises, I do six sets (with 2.5lb. ankle weights!) per leg. Every night I do about 20minutes on the foam roller and twice a week, I go to the chiropractor for an adjustment and cold laser therapy on my knee.

I really saw a difference last week after the PT taped me up.
Professionally taped!
Of course, I had to take full advantage of that tape - 
so I signed up for a spin class this past Saturday.

I didn't go to my regular gym - I went to a spin studio that everyone rants and raves over. It's owned by the make-up artist, Bobbi Brown. Bobbi Brown loves spin and she wanted to open a spin studio where she lives - lucky for me, that's the town next to mine! It really is a great studio. It's very cool inside with exposed bricks in an old, 1950's-ish building. The stereo system was great, the air conditioning was just right and the teacher was so full of energy!

I don't know what happened to my knee, but after that class, I was walking fine. I didn't have any anterior knee pain & my knee felt strong. I wanted to run, but just kept going with the elliptical, until today.

This morning, I ran for 2miles on the treadmill at the gym. After the 1st mile, I had a tiny bit of pain and started to cry, thinking 'what if it gets worse, and I can never run again?' But I put it on an incline, which took some pressure off my knee, and went very slow - like 10-11minute miles.

Afterward, I texted Coach and told him that I ran! That's when he said to meet him on the track ...tonight!
And the rest is bliss!
I taped up my knee (thanks to the peeps at
and ran Two+ miles, on the track!
Coach is going to e-mail me a schedule - something like 2 days on 1 day off.
I can't wait!
Until then,
more stretching,
knee exercises,
cold laser therapy,
nightly foam rolling 
and, I almost forgot
....tiger balm!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's So Exciting!

After months of failures, the engineering firm that is building the prototype to meet the specs of an abdominal/core fitness device that Side-kick and I have a provisional patent for just e-mailed us with great news:
They are closer to finalizing an updated version of the prototype design!
... It's so exciting! 
Having this patent come to fruition and then, to market, so that all can have ripped abs and a solid (running) core would be a dream come true.

Just think, all you women out there could be even more bad ass than the Queen Mum herself ...
Gotta love her - white gloves and all!
...and all you guys, well, The Situation will have nothing on you!
The first prototype worked, which was remarkable in and of itself - it weighed about 300pounds and could double as a weapon of mass destruction, but, hey, it worked!

Can't wait to see the updated, new and improved prototype!
I hope it will be the ultimate core exercise device to 
Train Smart Today!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Food Facts Friday: It's all in the packaging!

People are like food. Really, they are - and not in that "you are what you eat" sort of way. I mean, some come in beautiful packaging, but once you get passed the "packaging", there is just a bunch of crap, kinda like ....
140Kcals, 70Kcals from fat,
7grams of fat per serving,
Partially hydrogenated soybean & Cottonseed oil 
And then others may not be packaged so great, but they're great on the inside. Like my favorite mangoes when they're ripe ...
Ataulfo Mango, 100Kcal, 0 gfat,
3g fiber, 75% of Vitamin C and 25% of Vitamin A of RDA
And then, there are others - you want to like them - both the packaging and the inside - but you're just not sure.
What the heck? 
How can water be bad for you?

In September 2008, The National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicological Program (NTP) reported that BPA (Bisphenol A) needed to be studied further because it could be potentially toxic, especially to infants and children.
Wait. Who are our test subjects
when we use words like "potential"?
BPA, or Bisphenol A, is an organic compound, soluble in organic solvents, poorly soluble in water (notice I didn't write insoluble in water). BPA has been used, since the 1960's, to make hard, clear plastics, called polycarbonates. It's also used in the resin to line most food and beverage cans & to coat cash register receipts.

The scary factor regarding BPA is based on a study that found it to be a hormone-disrupting chemical. In fact, BPA can mimic the female hormone, estrogen, and at very low doses, can also mutate cell division during development (hence the potential dangers to infants and children).
I like that word, "FOUND".
It should have come to no one's surprise that BPA mimics estrogen - that's how it was discovered. Scientists created BPA 70years ago to mimic estrogen for use in pregnancy drugs.

Some studies have even linked BPA to infertility, behavioral problems in children, irregular heart rhythms, breast & prostate cancers, obesity, diabetes and even Alzheimer's disease.

So, why isn't it declared toxic and banned by the US Food & Drug Association, or by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), as it was in 2010 by Canada? At least the EU banned it in baby bottles.
Another reason breast is best!
Well, the FDA scientists have "determined that exposure to BPA through foods is much less than previously believed and that trace amounts of the chemical that enter the body, whether child or adult, are rapidly metabolized and eliminated." Basically, the FDA states that they have found "no convincing evidence" to support that BPA is a hazard to people.

The Natural Resources Defense Council does NOT agree with the FDA and is currently suing the FDA for their refusal to ban BPA. They have also conducted a huge grassroots effort to get parent & cancer groups and natural food-ists to put pressure on the food industry to make them stop using BPA to package our food & water. These grassroots efforts are working 'cause this past March, the Campbell Soup Company announced that it is banning BPA in all its cans!

By the end of the year, 
the FDA is expected to make a decision to ban or not to ban BPA.
C'mon FDA, at least require labeling!
There really are no current BPA labeling requirements, but for now, here are some things you can do to protect yourself from BPA exposures:
  • Avoid canned foods. Unless the cans are specifically labeled 'BPA-free'. You're better off looking for fresh or frozen foods.
  • Be container savvy. Buy food and drinks in glass or aseptic cartons/boxes. Don't heat plastic in the microwave or the dishwasher. Better yet, drink filtered tap water and if you must transport it, buy a re-usable steel bottle.
  • Say "no" to trivial receipts. BPA can be absorbed through your skin from receipts coated with BPA.
  • Replace plastic shower curtains with natural, mildew-resistant cotton or hemp.
If all of this is too much, it really doesn't get any more plastic

Even some of the BPA-Free formulas are questionable and there's no way of telling if a far worse chemical is being used to produce that BPA-Free plastic jug, sports bottle, baby bottle or sippy cup. 

I really do not care if BPA is banned or not, but it would be nice to know what I am buying. If there's a potential hazard or toxin, I would like to know. You know - a little help to see if all the pretty packaging on the outside, matches what's on the inside.

Until labeling laws become more strict and protect the consumer, as opposed to the manufacturer, learn your plastics:
Pretty Safe = #2, 4 & 5. Not So Safe = #1, 3, 6 & 7.
  • Plastics marked (usu. on the bottom) with the #2, 4 & 5 are high grade plastics and resistant to leaching BPA, if they contain any BPA at all. #2 plastics are used for milk jugs, yogurt tubs and shampoo bottles. Plastics marked #4 are used for trash can liners, food storage containers and plastic wraps. #5 plastics are used for bottle caps, drinking straws and some baby bottles.
  • Plastics marked #1 & 3 will contain BPA. Plastics marked #1 are found in things like soda bottles and peanut butter jars - they are specifically made for single use & should not be re-used. Plastics marked #3 plastics are generally used for baby-bottles and cooking oil. Both #1 & 3 plastics have another chemicals that can leach out, but I'll save that for another post.
  • Plastics marked #6 contain styrene, a carcinogen, usually found in hot/cold cups - especially styrofoam cups - egg containers and some disposable plates. 
  • On the bottom of the list, we have those marked #7, which are made from a BPA monomer. Runners should pay attention to plastics marked #7 because they're often used for re-usable water bottles. Unfortunately, #7 plastics are also used for baby bottles, clear plastic sippy-cups, plastic cutlery and re-usable 5gallon water jugs.
Above all, if your food or drink smells or tastes like plastic, throw it out!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Ellipticalling": Surviving Chondromalacia Patella

So, last Friday, I went to the orthopedist. He ordered some x-rays and voila, a diagnosis: Chondromalacia patella.
My knee
The technician was funny - I took a close-up pic. & he begged me to discard it. I thought he looked fine - he agreed to let me post this one:
I think he said he's been doing this for 18years!
So after my knee smiled and said, "CHEEEEZE" and I got my diagnosis and begged for cortisone shots.

Me: Pleeeze Doc, You don't understand. I don't drink (well, ok maybe one here or there.) I don't smoke pot. I don't take Prozac, Xanax or Valium ....I run. That's what I do. I've been doin' it for the last 30years! It got me through undergrad school, working as a 23year old on construction sites with some supervisor spitting chew at my steel toed boots, through meetings summoning support for a Corporate, North American Worker's Compensation Safety Program in a male dominated Japanese Electronics Firm, two pregnancies, two terrible two's, the tragic loss of my best friend/husband, graduate school, the worst job I ever had in a completely unsupportive public school, Crohn's disease and now what? Your telling me, 'No Vermont 1/2 on June 10th?'
Doctor: Yes.
Don't you just love doctors?
Sometimes definitive and yet, other times, so vague.

Me: Can't you shoot me up with some cortisone?
I had 2 retinal surgeries. 
Afterward, my left eye still gave me trouble. 
I guess I kept bugging the retina specialist, until one day, 
she sat me down and shot me up with cortisone - 
through the cheekbone to the back of my eye. 
Damn, that hurt!
...but, it worked!

Doc: I could shoot you up with some cortisone, and you can run in Vermont on the 10th. Would you rather do that, run on the 10th ...and forgo running for the rest of the summer?
Like I said, don't you just love doctors?

Me: No (tears welling, up). You're right. So, can you fix me?
Doc: I'll try.
Yeay, why not definitive when you need it most?

Me: How do we fix this?
Doc: No running for at least one more week and Physical Therapy.
I felt like Marty Brodeur after the opening goal of Game#3!
Hey LA, back off on the goalie chants - Marty is a Hall of Famer!
Show a little respect, no?
But I digress....

So, I am waiting for my first Physical Therapy session. Nothing for new patients, until next week. I can't just wait around - so, I looked up on YouTube some treatments and exercises for Chondromalacia Patella, Anterior Knee Pain and Runner's Knee. 

Dr. Goldfarb was helpful on YouTube, as was Coach Shreck on You Tube, although the echo on this video is awful. The idea is to keep the knee cap properly aligned. To do this, the quad muscles must fire together, as one complete unit. Any pulling, left or right, will make the patella move improperly over the cartilage, causing rubbing and this awful freakin' pain! 
These exercises, stretches and the foam roller have been helping. Even though I can't run (yet), Doc said I could use the elliptical. So I've been "ellipticalling" 2-3miles per day. Today was the first day that I was able to produce some force - and I actually got my heart beat up to 80% of my VO2max!

I have also been seeing my chiropractor and he has been lasering my knee. I really don't understand this whole laser thing, but it's working! I'll have to read up on it. He is a big fan of icing and rubbing Tiger Balm into the knee area (steady, for ~20minutes) before bedtime. 

This is my first running injury. I'm learning that sometimes training smart, means you gotta heal smart, too...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Coconut Water vs Sports Drink

I have been digging the organic coconut water lately. 
Coconut water (CW) comes from young green coconuts. It's hailed for its naturally occurring electrolytes, low caloric content and no fat or cholesterol content. This is why it has quickly become a widely-accepted alternative to the lab engineered, super-sweet, sports drinks (SD).

Out of curiosity, I did a search to see if there's been any research comparing (CW) to any of the leading sports drinks (SD). The most recent articles I've come across reference one particular piece posted in the Journal of International Sports Nutrition back in January of this year (2012). This research compares CW and a SD on hydration and physical performance in exercised-trained men. In this report, the male subjects walked and jogged on a treadmill for 60minutes. The idea was to make all 12 men dehydrated and then see differences when they rehydrated with CW vs SD. The researchers did not find any significant differences regarding performance or rehydration when subjects drank CW vs a SD. They did conclude that both CW and SD fared better than just plain water in terms of rehydrating their subjects.

But no difference between CW and SD?
You can imagine why I was confused then, when I came across the Runner's World article suggesting that endurance runners stick to sports drinks vs coconut water.

Everything I read about coconut water up to that point was extremely positive: 
CW has more protein than SD (CW has 1g and SD has 0g).
CW has fewer calories than SD (CW has 43calories vs SD has 50calories per 8oz).
CW is rich in so many electrolytes. It has 500mg of potassium (that's more than 1 banana!), 72mg Sodium, 46mg Calcium, 18mg Phosphorus, 27mg Magnesium.

While SD only has 110mg Sodium and 30mg Potassium.

Coconut Water
Leading Sports Drink
So, I figured out that the Runner's World article (9/2010) based its recommendation on two things: Sodium and Carbohydrates. It seems that if you are going on a moderate run, 60minutes or less, coconut water is a great hydrating and rehydrating beverage; however, if you are going out for an endurance run and will be running 60minutes or more, sports drinks provide more sodium, a much needed electrolyte for endurance runners. Since SD also has more carbs than the CW (SD has 14g carbs vs 10g carbs in CW), SD can provide more energy needed to fuel those longer endurance runs.

SD are designed to contain a more balanced ratio between sodium and potassium in order to specifically replace sodium lost during long bouts of exercise. 
Of course, plain water is always a great choice 
for rehydrating those short runs or when
 exercising less than 60minutes and not sweating profusely.

I guess it's like everything else, variation is key. Knowing what to vary and when, well that's just training smart!