Did you make new year’s resolutions once again? Don’t be shy or afraid to spill the beans if you did. In my work as a Sports Dietitian, it’s common at the beginning of the year for my clients to give me the run down of their resolutions. Even with impressive line items like “Finish the Leadville trail race in sub-20”, “Qualify for Western States”, “Win the Leadman Series”, or “Try my first Skimo race”, we think of the end goal as the resolution.
Whoa, Suffer Better friends. We have lots of work in order to reach that resolution. Those process goals. Well, well… because I’m biased and want to give friendly nudges about the power of nutrition, let me plant a few nutrition-related goals you can get started on right away.
- Get athlete-specific blood testing done. You may wonder at first what this has to do with food. I can tell you that far too many of us have nutrient deficiencies due to:
- crappy eating
- restrictive eating
- lack of nutrition knowledge
- training itself (the stressors of training volume/intensity, poor nutrition strategies or not)
- any combination of the aforementioned factors
Seriously, going into the biggest race of the year with a nutrient deficiency can lead to a not so fun race experience. It can be suffering… and suffering in a not so cool way. Additionally, there can be other health consequences that extend beyond race day.
- Consider physiology testing to learn how your daily nutrition patterns are working for you (as it relates to health and athletic performance goals), how your hydration and electrolyte strategies can be improved, or specific training zones for optimizing your performance. There are a bunch of other insightful tests these days such as nutrigenomic testing which can help you to change your nutrition and supplementation strategies so that you better absorb the nutrients your body needs.
- Take a fresh look at quality. A lot of us want to lean up, get stronger, drop some of the muffin top, or just look better in shorty shorts. Unfortunately, many folks tend to over-restrict food or chase calories when they are better served by simply improving the quality of the foods they choose to eat. You don’t have to subscribe to the Fad Diet Du Jour or the bacon diet to get results. Quality comes easily when we invest in our health, learn how to eat “real food”, and get a good variety of proteins, fats, and vegetables as a key piece of the foundation.
- Prepare to plan, plan to prepare. I never met an athlete who regretted allocating time to their own food planning and preparation. It is proactive eating, not reactive. It supports the goals, the resolutions. Food planning and preparation are one of the most challenging areas for athletes, but the benefits reaped reinforce the time invested.
Let’s all have a great year ahead, but let’s put the time and resources into learning how to better nourish our bodies to feel better, train hard, have fun, and live a more healthful life. For any questions about blood testing or other testing I recommend, or if you’d like a one-on-one session with me, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board Certified Sports Dietitian / Registered Dietitian