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Stephanie Diamond: Gluten Free Athlete Profile

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Stephanie has had some very cool adventures in life and in fitness!

Stephanie and her husband-that's the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in the background!

Stephanie and her husband-that’s the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in the background!

Stephanie Diamond, age 33

Hometown

I grew up in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. I currently live in Bujumbura, Burundi, Central Africa.

Sports and accomplishments

Running and hiking. I trekked to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2009.

Celiac trigger

I was under a lot of stress at my job and I’d lost nearly 10 pounds in a short amount of time. I was already pretty thin, so losing weight was a weird thing for me. Plus I was moody and just not feeling great. Being aware of the symptoms, it didn’t take me long to make the connection to celiac disease. I also quit the job. I was diagnosed in the summer of 2003. A couple years earlier, my brother had been very ill; it took a year for him to be diagnosed with celiac disease. I was able to see the symptoms in myself and get tested and get on the gluten-free diet before I got as sick as he did.

Training

I’m building my base for half marathon training. I run 3 to 5 miles several times a week. On my off days I play tennis, go hiking, or do yoga, depending on my level of energy. I never really got into strength training, even when I had to do it for my high school and college teams. When I was training for Kilimanjaro I weighted a pack to about 20 pounds and walked up and down the mountain that I live on. Three miles, three times a week. It really helped prepare me for wearing the pack on the trek.

Nutritional philosophy

I become a monster when I have an empty stomach so I graze most of the day. I listen to my body and eat what it tells me to. Sometimes that’s a lot of fruits and veggies, sometimes it’s a big chunk of meat. I do try to balance things. But I love ice cream, cheese, and other heavy, creamy foods. I run so I can eat them.

I love the grass-fed beef and other meats here in Burundi. I never thought I would eat goat, but it’s delicious! We get good fresh milk and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Many of the local traditional foods are gluten-free and I’ve had fun trying them. Lots of rice and cassava and beans. They brew beer from banana and millet. It’s a yummy treat.

When trekking, a good portion of my weight is Lara Bars and Kind Bars. They are convenient for snacking on throughout the day. I also bring gluten-free instant hot cereal for breakfasts. I love to start a day on the trail with a hot breakfast.

Pre/post workout food

Pre workout I eat very little. Before tennis or hiking I’ll usually have a bowl of gluten-free granola mixed with some flax cereal because I need to be sustained for a couple hours.

On running days I’m up and out so early to beat the heat that my stomach’s not awake yet. I usually have a little water and sometimes half a Lara Bar. I rely on having had a big healthy dinner the night before–lean meat with veggies, rice and beans, or quinoa pasta.
Post workout I love toast with peanut butter and a tropical fruit smoothie. (Mango and pineapple are always in season here. I love it!) I brought my breadmaker, so if I get 3 hours of uninterrupted electricity I can make my own gluten-free bread. There’s no Whole Foods to run out to for a loaf if I’m really craving it.

Sports supplements

I take a multivitamin with my snack after a hard workout. I started doing that on the Kilimanjaro trek. Every afternoon when we got to camp we had a snack of popcorn and tea. I took a vitamin and some ibuprofen. Luckily I don’t need the ibuprofen on a daily basis. But it helped on the mountain.

Upcoming plans

I’m looking for a half marathon to do the next time I’m back in the States, which will hopefully be this winter. I haven’t run one since before my celiac diagnosis. I’d also like to spend a week or two on the Appalachian Trail next summer. I wish I had time to try the whole thing!

Advice for other gluten free athletes

Regardless of whether you’re gluten-free or not, you have to find the foods that work for you. It takes time and dedication, but anyone who wants to be healthy has to do it.

Final notes

I’m just a regular person who likes to spend time outdoors.

I was a picky eater before my diagnosis, and I was scared my choice of foods would be all but demolished. But the gluten-free diet pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’ve tried so many new, delicious foods that I could have been eating all along.

Getting to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro on that last day was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s mentally and physically draining. But now I feel like I can do anything. It’s a little corny, but it’s true. I think of it whenever a challenge comes my way.

As you can see, Stephanie has some unique and very interesting stories. Please check her out:

Life in Africa blog: http://whereintheworld-stephanie.blogspot.com/

Gluten-free blog: http://stephaniefood.blogspot.com/

Twitter ID: @StephanieSD

Thanks so much for sharing your story Stephanie! I’m ready to go out and hike the closest mountain! (Here in South Florida that would be the bridge over the Intracoastal.) OK-maybe not, but all of these athletes have been truly inspiring.

Kelly Baker: Gluten Free Athlete Profile

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I first ran into Kelly on a bodybuilding/fitness message board. She keeps a journal there, and with gluten free in the title-I was intrigued. Kelly always keeps a positive outlook and has encouraging words for others. Here she is!

Kelly Baker

Kelly Baker

Kelly Baker

Age 31, resides in Columbus Ohio.

National Physique Committee Figure Competitor, Women’s Tri-Fitness Competitor

I was diagnosed July 21, 2008, and oddly enough it was an attempt at finding the best diet for my body. A training partner had undergone the test, received a Celiac diagnosis, and had had the most staggering transformation I’d ever seen. I figured it was worth a shot as I had thought myself lactose intolerant for years.

I didn’t have a true “trigger” so much as I was becoming more symptomatic over time. I’ve probably always been like this.

Training Program

I use the P/RR/S (Power, Rep. Range, Shock) system, combined with plyometrics, and various forms of cardio. I try to be as sports-specific as possible depending on what I’m competing in. My husband and I are looking to do some serious cycling next summer, so I will be more cycling focused between NPC shows.

Nutritional philosophy

I have other major intolerance’s in addition to Celiac Disease in the forms of soy, dairy, eggs, and most nuts and seeds. I stick with lean protein sources and lots of vegetables, fruit, and gluten-free grains. I avoid processed foods as much as absolutely possible. The more ingredients it has the less I trust it.

For pre and post workout nutrition, I have chicken and a rice cake for both. Sometimes I eat Steel Cut oats in place of the rice cake.

Favorite sports supplements

The following from ALR Industries; Chain’d Out, T-X, Zero-Stim, Hyperdrive 3.0, ProAnabol, WTF Pump’d, Primed Ultra, Poison, Comatose, and Lean Dreams. For cycling related power-ups GU Chomps work very well.

(Editor note:I have contacted ALRI in an attempt to obtain a listing of their gluten free products and have not yet received a response. Kelly notes she has never has an issue with their products.)

Upcoming competitions/training plans

I competed in my second Figure show on October 3rd, which will be followed by some medical testing to determine the extent of an injury to my knee. I plan to compete next March in Figure, take most of the summer to do some serious cycling (75-100 mile rides) and compete in two more Figure shows in October 2010.

Advice for other gluten free athletes

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. In some ways it is harder for us to function nutritionally, but in a lot more ways it is easier. We must give our systems quality fuel, and we think about what goes “in” much more than a normal person would. For anyone competing in Bodybuilding or Figure it makes the diet a lot easier. Our diets are cleaner to begin with which means less rebound between shows so returning to show conditioning is easier for us to do.

Final notes to share

July 21, 2008 I got my life back. I’d always been fatigued no matter how much I slept, suffered from low blood sugar crashes several times a day, and couldn’t make the gains I was working so hard to make. That day, I found out that 90% of my diet, pristine by conventional nutrition standards, was toxic to my system.

Once my diet changed the fatigue drained away, the hypoglycemic incidents stopped, and I no longer agonized over the way I’d react to anything that went in my mouth. Discoering I was a Celiac along with my other intolerances was freeing. For nearly 30 years, I had no idea what it was like to actually feel good. and I would not trade any of this for the world.

Thanks for sharing Kelly-best wishes with your knee and your future plans!

Editor note: Read this article about how celiac can help improve you awareness of proper nutrition and thus your diet.

Gluten Free Athlete Profile: Kimberly Bouldin

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I originally “found” Kim through her blog-she has some great stuff so make sure to check her out. Then she “twitted”-or whatever-“tweeted?” about going running and I said to myself-“Self-check this lady out!” Here she is!

Kimberly Bouldin

Kim and her daughter, Hannah

Kim and her daughter, Hannah

Hi, I am Kim. I live in central Ohio, right outside of Columbus with my husband and 2 kids. My current sport is running. I am training for a half-marathon on October 18th. I hope to train for a full marathon next May! I just ran my first race ever in July, a 10K (ran it in 53:22). I finished 2nd in my age group & 25th overall (out of 75). (Editor note: Whoohoo! Way to go! I was a gymnast growing up. I started at age 5 until I was 13 or 14.

As far as celiac and diagnosis, I had suffered on & off since I was a teen with anorexia. I had a recurrence as an adult, after the birth of my daughter. It wasn’t nearly as severe as the first time, but still, something that needed addressed. I began to see a dietician. The dietician is the one who suggested I get tested for Celiac disease after my telling her about all the foods that bothered me when I ate them. I had previously been told that I had IBS (editor note:see-the garbage can diagnosis strikes again!). My bloodwork was positive and I was instructed to go gluten-free. It was only after I went gluten-free that I saw a GI doctor, who wanted me to go back on gluten to confirm the diagnosis with an endoscopy/biopsy. I declined because I felt so much better off of gluten….it was night & day.

That was enough for me. I went on to have my kids tested and my son was diagnosed at the age of 10 with Celiac disease. He did have the endoscopy/biopsy done. I knew better by the time he was tested. He is a thriving, happy 13 year old hockey player now. 😉

I am not positive what my trigger was, but I suspect it was the birth of my first child in 1996. I started
having stomach issues after having him. They got much worse after the birth of my 2nd child in 2002.

Training

Right now my training consists of lots of running. LOL! I run 5 days/week and my max was 35 mpw-miles per week (editor note-I hardly even drive 35 miles per week). I also try to incoprorate strength training, but that has gotten tough as my mileage increased. I am now in the tapering stage of my training, so I am working back in some crosstraining & strength training.

Nutrition

My nutritional philosophy is pretty simple: I strive to eat mainly whole foods that are naturally gluten-free. I do enjoy the occasional treat (dark chocolate is my best friend), but I feel best eating little to no processed foods. I also stay clear of artifical sweetners as much as I can. They really seem to irritate my stomach. If I need to sweeten food or baked goods, I use sugar or agave nectar.

Favorite pre-post workout foods are plain & simple – bananas before. Afterwards…egg white omelet w/spinach & tomatoes, waffles or brown rice cakes with almond butter and fruit spread and fresh fruit.

Favorite sports supplements

Long runs over 8 miles require fueling mid-run & drinking gatorade (powdered & diluted) to keep me from getting dehydrated. For my mid-run fuel, I rely on Clif Shots or Shot Bloks for the most part. They are caffeine free (I don’t drink caffeine) and don’t bother my stomach.

Upcoming competitions

Half Marathon on 10/18/2009 and full marathon in May 2010

Advice for other gluten free athletes

Make sure to treat your body right. Make sure to properly fuel your body for the best performance possible.

You can find out more about Kim at her blog Gluten Free is Life

Thanks for sharing, Kim, and best wishes on your upcoming races!