Gluten Free Fitness

Gluten Free Athlete Profile: Peter Bronski

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This is the beginning if what will be an ongoing series. Each “episode” will highlight a gluten free athlete. You will see there are athletes of many different disciplines and experience level. Each of them is amazing and accomplished in their own right. They deserve to be celebrated.

A bit about Peter in his own words:

I am 30 years old, living in Boulder, Colorado. Competitively, I focus on Xterra off-road triathlons during late spring, summer, and early fall, and ski mountaineering races during winter. Greatest accomplishment…competing in the Xterra U.S. National Championship.

When were you diagnosed and what were the circumstances/situation that made you get tested?
I was diagnosed in January 2007 after two years of rapidly worsening symptoms that were crippling physically and psychologically.

A little information about your training?

Team Bronski-Peter, Kelli and little girl Bronski :)

Team Bronski: Peter, Kelli and little girl Bronski šŸ™‚

Pre-season, training consists of longer distance, slower speed trail runs and mountain bike rides to build an endurance base. As race season approaches, I slowly shift to shorter distance, higher intensity workouts to improve speed and explosive power. During the peak of my training for Xterra, I’m typically doing 2 open water swims, 2-3 trail runs, and 2-3 mountain bike rides per week, including one brick (a mountain bike ride followed immediately by a trail run), as well as rest days built in to allow my muscles to recover. If you do the math, that means some days have double workouts. Once I’m in the throes of race season, my pattern shifts – race, recover, complete a new training cycle to build stronger, and then taper for the next race.

A little information about your nutritional philosophy?
I don’t heavily carbo-load the way some athletes do. I like to eat a fairly well-balanced diet of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. I eat lots of fresh food, and food made from scratch at home. Tons of fruits and veggies. Carbs come chiefly from potatoes, corn, and rice (as well as home baked bread, fresh pasta, from scratch pizza, etc.). I tend to eat an animal protein almost daily – often chicken or turkey, and less often, pork or a lean cut of beef. I also get protein (as well as healthy fats) from things like nuts (peanuts, almonds) and olive oil, which I use often in cooking and salad dressings. Yogurt for calcium and strong bones.

Favorite pre and post workout foods?
Pre-workout I like foods that are light on the stomach and easily metabolized to provide glucose for muscle energy…maybe some chocolate, a serving of fruit, or an endurance sports chew (like GU Chomps). Post-workout I try to eat protein as soon as possible afterwards to help with muscle recovery, but after hard workouts my diet is suppressed, and it’s difficult sometimes to force myself to eat right away when I don’t feel like it.

Favorite Sports Supplements?
Gatorade for fluids. I’ll typically take a combo of Gatorade and water (on mountain bike rides, I’ll carry one bottle of each and more or less alternate sipping off each bottle). GU gel packs for nutrition – especially the tri-berry, lime, and orange flavors. Love ’em!

Upcoming plans and competitions?
Having just competed in the 2009 Xterra U.S. National Championships, I’m planning to take a few weeks off to let my body (and my brain) recovery from a long, hard season of racing. Then I’ll start up with my pre-race training
schedule to start building a new endurance base for the 2010 race season. This year, I went to nationals sick with an acute viral infection, which hindered my performance. My goal is to qualify for Xterra U.S. nationals again next year, and go into the race stronger than ever.

Advice for other gluten free athletes?
Although you have to rethink race nutrition as a gluten-free athlete, once you’ve solved that “problem” there are no limitations. Determination, persistence, dedication to training, and the motivation to overcome temporary setbacks and challenges will all help you achieve your athletic potential. With food working for your body, instead of against it, you can compete right along side the other non-gluten-free athletes of the world.

Editorial note from Erin-This is gold, peeps. Take it to heart. Great and wonderful words of wisdom and motivation

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

As a spokesperson for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (I’m one of their Athletes for Awareness) I’m trying to raise awareness about Celiac and gluten intolerance issues in the US, and inspire the gluten-free community to be active. Right now, I’m actively working with the Xterra organization and individual race organizers and GF sponsors to get GF foods at pre and post race events, and to host pre race clinics on GF nutrition and racing for athletes. Keep an eye out for exciting developments on this front in 2010! My wife, Kelli, and I are also the co-authors of the new cookbook, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, which comes out in October and will be widely available (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

You can follow Peter on his blog at No Gluten, No Problem or at www.peterbronski.com.

Many thanks to Peter for his story and helping to inspire us all. Now get out there and MOVE!!

Athletes Living Gluten Free

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As this is a blog about living with celiac, being gluten free and fitness-it only stands to reason that I will be spotlighting gluten free athletes. This will be an ongoing series of gluten-free athlete profiles. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to be involved, and pass the word to those you think may like to be involved. Amy at the Savvy Celiac recently shared a blog post on athletes with celiac disease, which you can find here.

The word “athlete” may have some associations in your mind. What do you think of when you think of an “athlete.” An Olympian? A collegiate D1 player? A marathoner? A powerlifter? Or a human being with a belief that moving their body can positively impact their life? A person who embraces the unique ability that they personally have for activity?

Here is my definition of “athlete.”

An individual who recognizes the importance of doing something the human body is designed to do: move. One who makes regular physical activity a part of their day, and may even feel odd if a day goes by where they don’t move as much. One who takes any challenges they are given, whether physical or mental, and uses that challenge to fuel them. One who chooses to not make excuses, but design solution when problems arise in the way of their fitness goals. You don’t have to compete to have the mindset of a warrior and an athlete. Don’t sell yourself short. Think, train, eat, live like an athlete. You are an athlete. Accept no limitations.

An athlete may be a walker, a triathlete, a weightlifter, a football player, or none of these categories.

An athlete is one who moves their body with the intention of making themselves better-physically, emotionally, mentally.
Move your body. Honor your design. Live your life.

What is an athlete to you? Let me know…share your thoughts in the comments!

Preparing ahead for healthy gluten free eating success

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You’ve probably heard it before, and deep down you know it’s true.

Preparing your own food is generally less expensive and can be more healthful that eating out or buying prepared food.

And for celiacs, it’s safer too. No risk for cross-contamination, no worries.

Some people think they don’t have the time to cook for themselves, or that they just are incapable of cooking.

I can assure you, I am not a chef.

An example of what I take to work for a day

An example of what I take to work for a day

I have learned a lot from watching the Food Network, but you’ll see the recipes I post are not gourmet by a long shot. There are other gluten free bloggers out there who are extremely talented. (like Karina the gluten free goddess, Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, or Elana’s Pantry, to name just a couple of the many very talented cooks out there.

My recipes are easy, straightforward, and healthy. Because quite frankly, these are my priorities and what I am capable of. I am a big fan of cooking in bulk-cook once, eat multiple times. If you have to heat up the oven, you may as well cook a metric ton (otherwise known as several pounds-I tend to exaggerate) of chicken breasts, your eggy breakfast casserole, some fish and some veggies at the same time.

This helps save time in the long run. Spend an hour or two a couple times a week, and save time, money, energy, and calories all week long. You will probably need some food storage containers for all your stuff, so make sure you’re prepared with those.

Sunday: Shop, cook and Prepare Day

Really, this could be any day, but if you work a regular work week you may find it easiest to get a large amount done on the weekend. When you go to the grocery/market, choose items in large quantities if possible. I am fortunate enough to have a food market nearby where I can buy boneless skinless, antibiotic free chicken breast for $1.79/lb.

A large turkey breast can be thrown in the crock-pot, or a couple whole chickens. A couple pork tenderloin, a big top round beef roast-you get the idea. Take advantage of what is in season and what’s on sale to stretch your grocery dollar. And it may mean buying something you’re not familiar with. Take a chance! Google it up and try it out-a little variety is good for the soul, and the body.

Some veggies that are great for roasting are brussel sprouts, (give ’em a shot-they’re better than you remember I’ll bet) fennel, asparagus. Root veggies like potaties, sweet potatoes, tunips and rutabaga are wonderful roasted, along with squashes. Summertime zucchini roasts awesomely well. I mention roasting because for now we’re addressing stuff can can cook in the oven all at once. When you get home, clean up your veggies.

Snacks

I’ll buy some bell peppers and slice them up to keep in the fridge when the snackies hit, and they are great in salads. Jicama is terribly ugly in it’s natural state, all brown and furry, but when you peel it and slice it it is a lovely white sweet-ish crunch. Broccoli can go on sale and be very inexpensive when you buy the whole head, same with cauliflower. Cut ’em up. They roast really well too. I was shocked how sweet broccoli got when roasted, not bitter at all.

So here’s an example. Clean and trim up your chicken breasts, and line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Give it a little mist (LOVE the Misto) and sprinkle with sea salt and lemon pepper. One layer only, please. Combine your ingredients for the eggy breakfast casserole and get that ready. Peel some root veggies and cube ’em up. For this time of year, you can go for some butternut squash too. Or halve an acorn squash and place it cut side up. Then, put your ovenat 400 and let everything cook for 30 minutes. I use a convection oven, so that does it for me, but adjust as necessary. Toss in some scrubbed whole potatoes if you’ve got room.

Multitasking to save time

All prepared within an hour-5# of chicken breast, egg casserole, and green beans

All prepared within an hour-5# of chicken breast, egg casserole, and green beans

While that’s cooking, you can use your stovetop to boil some water and cook some gluten free oats, some quinoa, or some rice. Hard boil some eggs while your at it. Blanch some green beans. You can get the majority of your breakfast foods, side dishes for grains, done now. If you want to check and see how long things will keep if you pre-pare them (for lack of a better word) check out Still Tasty. Great resource, beats the smell test by a mile. At the end of this hour or so, you’ll have enough food for at least a couple days. The “bones” of your meal are there, just fill in with fresh/frozen veggies or salads, or fruit.

Cook up some more bulk protein foods such as a big turkey breast or pork loin in the Crock Pot while you’re at work on
Tuesday/Wednesday. Good for another couple days.Buy in bulk and divide into single servings almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, etc.

Now that you have everything cooked, you can divide up for storage

Generally I’ll keep all the chicken in one container, rice in another, etc. Then, the night before I divide up enough meals for my next day. Because I eat every few hours, I take several food containers to work. I’ll put my protein, carb, veggie portion into a container so in the morning I grab my stack and go. During the day, I pull out my dish and I’m ready to eat.

You can do this! It’s easy when you plan. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

I’d love to hear your suggestions-please post up in the comments!

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