Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Tri Harder

If you're a longtime reader, you may have noticed I've posted more infrequently lately. There's a reason for that: In order to fulfill a personal New Year's Resolution this year, I'm training for my very first triathlon — a sprint tri in Central Park that takes place next month.

Now, maybe some people can complete an Ironman event in their sleep, but if you'd known me when I was a sprout, you'd know what a big deal even a sprint-length triathlon is for me. My high school class did not vote me "most likely to drop a lot of money on protein powder."

I was an arty kid. I couldn't even make it the one mile around the track for the Presidential Physical Fitness tests they administered every year in gym class. Just running a quarter mile made my lungs feel like they were burning.

But after college, a funny thing happened. I jogged a bit, and it wasn't so bad. No burning lungs. So I jogged a bit more. I thought I'd be the best I could be when I hit that long-awaited mile run, but it turns out I can now zip out for a 3.5-mile run before breakfast.

Chickpeas on the Run

So what made the difference? I credit two success factors: 1. Lack of judgement from gym teachers and classmates. 2. Not living with a smoker (Dad was a heavy smoker throughout most of my childhood).

And the best part? progress with running helped show that I wasn't athletically retarded (something I'd long believed). This year I enrolled in swim classes at the YMCA. And while I'm not a sleek dolphin in the water yet, I'm now proud to say I'm less of a sea cow.

A great benefit I've discovered about training for a triathlon is the diversity. If I have a blister from running, I can switch over to swimming. If my arms are sore from swimming, I can work on my biking. The built-in variety means I'm never bored. There's just so much to concentrate on.

That's also part of the downside of triathlon training. Even for a shorter-distance triathlon (like the sprint tri I'm working toward) there's a major time commitment to balance each aspect of the sport.

Aside from juggling the schedule to accommodate training, anyone attempting athletic events quickly finds that eating becomes a major planning factor. When do you eat? What do you eat? How much do you eat? In what form should you eat it? I must admit, I'm not really jazzed about eating (slurping?) those sugary little goo packets I see in sporting goods stores.

Additionally, many events start early. Should you wake up extra-early to eat so you have time to digest beforehand? When the event is long, as in the many hours involved in a marathon, how do you eat on the run (literally), without upsetting the tummy?

Luckily, those who work out tend to experiment and find their own solutions to these questions. And they're usually happy to share.

Dave's New Pizza Oven
Dave's New Pizza Oven

Just yesterday, I stopped by the Fort Greene Brooklyn Flea to chat with my friend Chef Dave Sclarow of Lunetta and Pizza Moto while he kneaded dough into crusts. (BTW, he's expanding into the Sunday Flea in Dumbo in a couple of weeks.)

He gave me a handy tip for even more simple smoothies: Instead of using an upright blender, use a big cup (or a mason jar) with a stick blender (aka "immersion blender"). Fast, easy and less laborious to clean up. Brilliant.

Smoothie in a Jar
Smoothie in a Jar

Dave offers this recipe for his workout smoothies: two ice cubes, half a banana, big scoop of peanut butter and soy milk. Sometimes he adds a little maple syrup if he wants it to be sweeter.

So today, I made my morning smoothie in a mason jar with a lid, and kept it cold in the fridge for my post-workout recovery drink. Slick.

One of his pizza-slingers mentioned that the sesame-seed & honey bars that are sometimes found in natural food stores make good workout snacks, too. A little protein. Some sugars. Easy to carry. A good option.

I've done posts on workout snacks before, but I'm always open to new tips and helpers. Drop 'em if you've got 'em!

Yours in good health,
Miss Ginsu

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7.12.2009

Resolution #5: It's All In the Timing

What's even more confusing than the research flip-flopping every decade or so on whether it's okay to eat buttered toast or not? Recent findings indicate that you really need to pay attention to the time of day to determine what to eat.

Yup. One more thing to think about. But the good news is, Resolution #5 is pretty easy to incorporate. You just have to remember two little rules about timing:

Watchman

1. The morning is the best time for protein and carbs. Go low-carb for the rest of the day.
2. ...Unless you work out. You have up to an hour after a hard workout (the "golden hour") to refuel your body with carbohydrates and protein.

The reasoning behind these rules is simple.

While you're sleeping, you're fasting. Carbohydrates at breakfast deliver glucose to your bloodstream, starting up your brain and muscles. If you eat a big breakfast, you're going to give your body what it needs to perform better mentally and physically (and you might even lose weight). Carbs eaten later in the day are more likely to be processed to make fat.

A few good carb + protein breakfast options:
  • Beans on Toast
  • Poached Eggs & Toast Points
  • Yogurt & Granola
  • La Crepe Complete
  • Spinach Omelette and Whole-Grain Toast
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Cottage Cheese & Sliced Fruit
  • After a hard workout, your muscles need to rehydrate, regain their glycogen stores and repair damage. During the "golden hour" after a sweaty workout, you can eat the simple carbohydrates (like bananas) that you should normally avoid, because your body processes them differently. Eating enough carbs (and some protein) immediately after a workout will help you feel stronger the next day. Some research recommends chocolate milk.

    Here's a more elaborate version of chocolate milk that J sometimes gets post-workout at a local juice bar. Just the thing to dream of while you're on the last, most difficult stretch of your exertions...
    Bulldozer Smoothie
    1/2 banana
    1-2 Tbsp peanut butter
    1 scoop chocolate whey protein
    (or 1 scoop regular whey protein + 1 tsp cocoa powder)
    1 cup milk or soymilk
    2 ice cubes

    1. Combine banana, peanut butter, protein powder, milk/soymilk and ice in a blender.
    2. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass and serve immediately.
    And you'll find more recovery-ready smoothie variations here .

    So that's it for wellness resolutions this year:
    1. Better Brown Bagging
    2. Rearrange the Plate
    3. Get Cultured
    4. Keep it Low & Slow
    ...aaand #5: It's All in the Timing

    Know a great one you think I've missed? Working on something worth sharing? Spill the beans in the comments.

    To our health!
    Miss Ginsu

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    1.09.2009