Last night, as I pulled out all the medications and supplements my husband Greg & I take, I decided to sort them. On the right side were all my bottles. On the left side were all of Greg’s and in the middle were the ones we both take. I am currently on 3 prescribed medications, Greg has 2. The rest are supplements and over the counter allergy pills. I was kind of shocked at the difference between what I take as a female competitive bari-athlete and what Greg takes just as a post-op bariatric male who does not train or compete.
Because I am a post-operative Roux en y bariatric surgery patient, I have blood work done every 6 months to make sure my vitamin levels are where they should be. In my type of bariatric surgery, my duodenum was bypassed and I am not able to absorb the vitamins and minerals I need from my food, on the upside, I don’t absorb as many calories either. Most people who have had this type of surgery use the liquid vitamins but even when I wasn’t training 5 to 6 nights a week the liquid vitamins were not keeping my levels steady. For some reason my body does not like them, and frankly, they taste horrid. Thus, I was forced to figure out how to get my vitamins and minerals else where.
I use a lot of Kirkland brand vitamins & supplements from Costco because I trust that brand and they are extremely soluble. It does me no good to take a million pills if they pass through my body before they work the way they should. I began testing various brands and found Kirkland, Schiff and Nature Made to be some of the best that work well for me. As I am also lactose intolerant, I have to pay attention to the ingredients and you would be surprised at how many supplements out there contain lactose!
Even if you are not training or competing, its a good idea to have all your levels checked at least once a year. We found out Greg was dangerously low in Vitamin D so we found a supplement that works for us both. Most of what we take has been suggested by our doctors, but I also go to other teammates who are around my same age and see what they use as well. Through trial and error I have found a mix of what I like and what keeps my levels where they need to be.
My biggest fluctuation is in B12 and while I am either extremely over the normal level or just under, I can’t ever get it quite right. Luckily being WAY over on B12 is not a real issue, so I keep the sub-lingual pill in my regime because I feel like I drag all day without it.
Along with my vitamin issues, I also find with increased training I have to eat more and fuel my body differently than when I am not pushing for a tournament or competition. Sometimes that’s hard to manage, especially when I am limited to about 4 ounces of food per meal. I usually have to add meals in, and make sure my snacks are mostly protein. DURING the actual competition its a completely different story, I have to worry more about my sugar intake and how quickly my smaller stomach is going to be able to break down the food and how long it takes to convert it to fuel. I never take the field without having an energy bar first and during breaks you will usually see me eating something constantly.
For what its worth the Premier Protein Crisp bars have worked the best for me and when I use protein powder I go for the Carnivore powders which are made from beef protein but also taste great. I usually mix the Vanilla Caramel in with coffee…because it tastes better to me (and I am a coffee fiend). Before I went to Spain I tested quite a few energy bars, quick dissolving gu’s and other endurance athlete products and sadly most of them were way too high in sugar for me to use. I really love the EPIC Beef & Bison bars but they require refrigeration, thus not conducive to being out on a battlefield for hours on end.
My biggest hurdle in fueling my body is when I travel. I want all the worst things when I am on long drives or stuck in airports, so I try to always have a few protein bars with me. I also load up as much as I can prior to getting in the car so I am not tempted. Yogurts, fresh fruit and bottled water help a ton, when I can carry it with me. When I can’t, I do the best I can. Or I don’t. I admit I am not a perfect eater 100% of the time and when I am at Starbucks getting my trenta shaken unsweetened iced tea, sometimes those pastries call to me, and I give in. But I know its not a constant thing and I know when I am making a bad choice.
That is really one of the big keys to success, KNOWING and admitting to yourself when you make a bad choice! Then making a plan to get back on track after that bad choices. I don’t throw myself under a bus because I ate a caramel brownie or three. I realize I wanted something sweet and normally, I get halfway through the first one and am done. I save the other 2 for later and most times, they are so stale I toss them. Sometimes I do eat all 3 over a course of several hours, but I am AWARE of what I am doing. Mindless eating is something I can not do any longer. I know too much about my body and I put WAY too much work into keeping it at a steady weight, so I can’t just sit down and binge on chips and soda.
Ok that’s a lie…I CAN actually sit down and binge on chips and the perfect ice cold fully leaded Cocoa-Cola, and I know I can, so I stay away from it as best as I can. My latest stint of Coke-sobriety has been since August 1st. The closest thing I come to soda now is an occasional Zero Ultra Monster when I can’t think straight or need a high dose of caffeine quickly but I try to limit those too. I usually stick to water, coffee and unsweetened iced tea. I do also use Zipfizz in my water when I need a boost but that’s usually during a workout and I use twice the water it calls for.
Now, when I talk about Fueling Your Body, you should also remember rest is also a required fuel. I was horrible at pushing myself hard and forgoing rest for the sake of meeting my goals but I have learned my lesson and my body has paid that price one too many times. As we get older, it gets harder and harder to burn the candle at both ends. When you are 48 and training for competition, its even harder.
Rest is a vital part of fueling your body. If it doesn’t have time to recover, no matter what else you do, you won’t see the results you hope for and you start doing serious damage to your muscles. Its hard to NOT train, believe me. But I also know how high the price is when I over exert myself and end up having to take weeks off for recovery, just for being hard headed. Even if you are just training for a 5k or simply getting back into exercise, let your body have time to heal and right itself.
Be kind to your body, listen to what it needs and pay attention to the warning signs it gives you. If you treat it well, it will perform and last so much longer!