Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ironman Louisville Update: The Reward of Going Uphill Is Going Downhill

A part of being on the road to Hawaii is realizing that my objective may take longer than I thought it would. I've learned to accept that, while my son, Bob, can say he wants to go to Hawaii on a specific date, I may not be able to make that guarantee in the same time frame. The benefit in this is that I'm learning patience more than I ever have when it comes to my training. Part of being a mature athlete is realizing that, as much as I'd like to believe I can control time, sometimes time controls me. Although I believe in circular time, I live in linear time. So, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I'd like to.

At the same time, my training is going extremely well - I'm improving in every aspect. I'm a better swimmer and much better cyclist than I was 26 years ago, but I'm not as good a runner. What used to be my strength is now my weakest sport, and that's ok. Believe it or not, I'm actually enjoying cycling, the sport I used to hate the most. I love being able to cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time. When I'm in Las Vegas (2 weeks out of the month), I ride in the mountains, which is a real thrill for me having lived in Florida since 1981.

I have 11 weeks to go until Louisville, and I'm starting to implement more effort. I'm concentrating the next 3 months on bike-run transitions. Unfortunately, the ocean has been very uninviting, and I haven't been getting in open water swims. That's a problem. I'm looking forward to calmer water, but that's not up to me. All in all, i feel great. I'm maintaining my weight (198 to 200 lbs all the time), even though I'm not eating as clean as i should. I eat pizza, sweet potatoes and the occasional bread, so I can't be as lean as i want to be because of the carbs, but i need them for energy.

I'm surprised at how much fun it is to become an athlete again at this level, and I'm not disappointed in my failures. I'm much more patient with myself. I was with my son this morning, he said he thinks I'm doing extremely well. With three kids, he's struggling just like I am. But, like I say, the reward of going uphill is going downhill.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Cenegenics Food Plate: Plates Break, But Diamonds Are Forever

I'm glad they finally decided to get rid of the antiquated Food Pyramid, but I don't see the introduction of the Food Plate as an improvement so much as a change. Visuals are a very important tool for nutrition counseling, and the Food Plate isn't simple. It's actually very confusing. 

After realizing the many drawbacks of the Food Pyramid, I created the Cenegenics Food Diamond in 2008. Even though diamonds are rigid, the Food Diamond is actually very flexible.  I chose the diamond shape because, like individuals' diets, no two diamonds have the same shape. The Food Diamond is customizable - by altering the shape of the diamond, you can change the distribution of the food. If i was devising a Food Diamond for someone with kidney disease, lean protein would become less important than fruits. Vegetable protein would become more important than animal protein. I could similarly design a unique Food Diamond for people with conditions like arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, and each would take on the shape of a multifaceted diamond. 

The Food Diamond incorporates all the important aspects of nutrition. At a glance, you can recognize the importance of water, exercise, and vegetables versus fruit in a very simplistic way. It provides the opportunity to understand that all fats aren't created equal, and they can (and should) be used strategically. There is no reason to eliminate grains, but it's necessary to clarify that many can be harmful. 

Additionally, I would keep people, especially children, away from the dairy the Food Plate recommends. Dairy is laden with a lot of problems, and it's not all hormone-free. There are much better sources where you can get the critical nutrients found in dairy. Dairy was important 100 years ago. Now, we live in an industrialized world where we provide better sources of natural products that are raised in an appropriate fashion. I can live without cheese. I can't live without minerals and water.

The public needs simplicity. It needs a picture that helps people understand that one diet 'shape' may not apply to everybody. With its overgeneralization and lack of detail, the Food Plate allows for bad foods to be added to the plate. It took the government14 years to change the Food Pyramid, and who knows how much longer it will take to get it right. The problem is, as knowledge expands, we don't make changes. We need to start over with a solid foundation.

Remember: Plates break, but diamonds are forever.