Gluten Free Fitness

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.

Calorie Intake and You: Calories Do Count – Part 1

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You may have heard various and sundry diet and nutrition gurus touting the benefits of a given “diet”-you can eat as much as you want and not gain fat, as long as it is under the full moon, the color red, and you eat standing up.

OK, so maybe not that extreme, but the idea that total calories don’t matter if you eat specific foods is around and pervasive. Well, calories do count.

There’s no way around the laws of thermodynamics, at least not yet. Quality of food is an important issue as well, don’t get me wrong. But from a strictly energy balance perspective-it’s calories that are king (or queen.) It’s not magic, it’s not difficult, but it does take a bit of attention-at least if you’re interested in improving your health and or the way you look.

Calorie Intake and You

We’ll be looking into the idea of energy balance ie:calories in versus calories out. Today we’ll take a look out the calories you expend-energy output. In Part 2 we’ll take a look at calories in, energy intake, and the ways to track that.

Calories out=energy expenditure=all activity, bodily function, energy required for digestion of food, exercise, cleaning the house, everything. Definition of terms that create your total calorie burn:

  • RMR=resting metabolic rate-the amount of calories you need to exist without any activity-ie:bedrest
  • TEA-thermic effect of activity-this, obviously, represents the caloric burn of activity, both exercise and non-exercise acitivty.
  • NEAT=non exercise activity thermogenesis=general activity like walking the dog, playing with the kids, cleaning the house, fidgeting, general moving around that is not “exercise.” (This can have a VERY large impact on your daily caloric burn. It’s the difference between sitting on your butt on the computer or watching TV and moving, just doing something, anything.)
  • TEF-thermic effect of food. Basically the energy expended to digest and assimilate food into usable energy.

Lyle McDonald, a very smart guy, has a great article that goes into more depth regarding all of these terms. You can find it here.

Calorie expenditure calculators

The RMR is the component that we don’t control very much. TEF and TEA we can make changes to. There are many calculators out there which can help you determine your energy expenditure. One that seems to be fairly accurate is the Mifflin equation, and you can find the calculator here. To get an idea of how many calories are burned for specific activities, you can use the calculator at Fitness Partner here. Keep in mind these are all estimates, but good starting points.

If you like to get even more specific, you can use the Bodybugg or GoWearFit devices. These are small devices you wear on your arm that measure motion, heat given off, skin response to stress, and temperature. You may have see the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” wearing them. They are cool little toys, and definitely make you more aware of how much you are, (or are not) burning in a given day. They also give you more individualized information than an equation.

I think the most useful application of these is that it truly makes you think about moving more and get the burn higher, and you are super aware of when you are just sitting (oh dang, I’m only burning a calorie a minute here.) Leigh Peele has done a comparison of the two devices which you can find here.

I’ve used the Bodybugg on several different occasions, and I am going to share a few of my observations. I hope this helps you see the impact of how moving, and kind of movement, can impact your calorie burn. Oh-any why does this matter? Because if you burn more, your calorie balance is altered. This can positively impact your weight and your health.

My observations

So here we go: I am 35 years old, female, and weighed 127. My RMR has been tested at 1500 calories which also was shown by the Bodybugg. Here’s some examples of calories burned.

  • 30 minutes moderate intensity steady state cardio-(treadmill walking on an incline)-200 calories
  • Sitting at a computer at work-80 calories per hour
  • Taking a 20 minute walk outside during my break at work-100 calories (see the difference between sitting an just walking-this was a casual walk, not a power-exercise walk)
  • 45 minutes of heavy weight training-220 calories

Calorie burn total for this day, which included 45 minutes of weight training and 30 minutes of cardio for structured exercise, was 2350 calories.

A day where I was mostly sedentary, sitting at work all day and then going to get my hair cut and colored in the evening (which was more sitting) I burned 1800 calories.

Had I just gone for a short walk I could have bumped that burn by a couple hundred calories WITHOUT GOING TO THE GYM! That’s a huge difference in calorie burn. 550 calories is a big difference day to day. Cleaning the house burns a ton of calories. Which reminds me I really need to clean the floor….

Get up and move!

Although the structured exercise had a positive impact on my net calorie burn, it wasn’t the main area. Many people are under the impression that an hour at the gym will counteract all the sitting. Guess what-it doesn’t. Getting up and moving during the day can have much bigger impact than we realize. You don’t HAVE to set aside many hours to dedicate to exercise to get in better shape.

I hope this helps shed some light on how you can burn calories, and the importance of general movement.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below, or share if you have used the Bodybugg or GoWearFit!

Now-go forth and burn!

Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

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Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

Purely Elizabeth Ultimate Cacao Muffin Mix

The Purely Elizabeth baking mix line was recently launched, and offers a healthier choice for individuals with food intolerances including celiac disease. The mixes are free of sugar, dairy, wheat and gluten. Eizabeth Stein is a holistic nutrition counselor. She was very kind and had sent me the Apple Spice muffin mix which you can find the review here, the cacao muffin mix, and the pancake mix which is calling my name from the cabinet, but I have not yet tried.

I made these this morning as a kickoff to what should be a fun weekend. Chocolate on A Saturday morning-can life get any better?

Still no nutritional info on the package

As I mentioned in my previous review, it would be my preference to have the nutrition facts printed on the package instead of having to go to the site. Also, the nutrition facts given are for the mix only, not the muffin as prepared, so be aware. I believe the labeling may be addressed in the future as this is only the beginning of what I think is a company with great potential in the future.

Ingredients

The ingredients in the mix are:

Millet Flour, Corn Flour, Almond Flour, Organic Raw Cacao Powder, Flax Seed, Organic Hemp Seed, Organic Chia Seed, Aluminum Free Baking Powder, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt.

So far, so good. Stuff you can recognize as actual food, and pronounce.

The instructions recommend adding agave syrup, rice milk, one egg, olive oil and vanilla.

Here I took a few liberties. I added 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips (had to be done,), used moo juice instead of rice milk (no dairy probelms here and didn’t have rice milk,) substituted 1.5 TBSP coconut oil and 1/2 cup applesauce for the olive oil (personal preference,) cut the agave syrup amount in half and added a bit of stevia (personal preference again to keep caloried slightly lower, especially since I was adding in the chocolate chips-you have to give a little to get a little, you get me? Make the calories even out.)

I also kept the baking time slightly lower to 18 minutes as I have a convection oven. The smell while they were baking was absolutely heavenly.

Verdict

These ROCK!!!

I am a chocolate freak, I admit that. When it comes to ice cream, I always will have chocolate or a variation thereof. So I am biased toward anything chocolate. These were very good-lots of chocolate flavor. The hemp, flax and chia seeds add a nice crunch to counter the sweetness. They are sweet without being overly sweet, really a nice balance. Taste I give these a 9/10.

Nutritionally, far better than any other chocolate muffin you may find. Ingredient list is great. As I prepared them, here is the nutritional breakdown per muffin (makes 12.)

  • 137 calories
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 23 grams of carbohydrate, 4 from fiber
  • 3 grams of protein.
For breakfast or a snack

The Purely Elizabeth Cacao muffins would be great to have along with a protein source for breakfast or a snack. You could have some greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs or egg white omelette. (For more information about setting up a healthy nutrition plan, sign up for the free guideline at the end of this post or the top right hand part of the page.)

The trick is eating just one. I may freeze them individually and remove one at a time. Otherwise I could easily eat them all, like now.

For more information on Purely Elizabeth and to order click here.

All in all, highly recommended. Give them a shot! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

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