Got Goals?

This is usually the time of the year when I write an article or two about goal setting. You know, it’s the season, right? The stress (good and bad) of the holidays is upon us and everyone is looking to 2017 and their New Year’s Resolutions. However, this time around is going to be different. Instead of giving you helpful tips on setting goals, which I think is still super beneficial, I am going to address the chicken (or is it the egg?). Regardless, my focus is going to be on the front end of setting goals, that is, before you actually get to putting them on paper.

I firmly believe that many individuals do not succeed with attaining their goals because they do not approach it the proper way. What if you want to run a marathon next year? Great! Having goals are extremely important in life. However, let’s look at the background information that you actually need before setting that goal. Did I peak your interest? Keep reading!

Before setting a goal, it is first important to reflect not only on the goal itself and the process but if you are in the right place in your life to actually set yourself up for success. What I mean is have you done a personal, professional, and social inventory to first determine your success rate?  Let’s go through each of these in a bit more detail.

Personal inventory includes stepping back and evaluating what you have going on in your life that may promote and deter your goal setting process. Are you in a new relationship? Are you injured? Can you carve out enough personal time to devote to achieving your goal? What about your family commitments? Do you have children and are they entering a busier time of the year with their school or sports? All of these factor in to the amount of time that you can, or cannot, devote to yourself.

Professional inventory is all about your work. Is this a busy time of the year, working more hours? Do you have major projects looming that require more of your time and attention? Often times, we don’t factor in our work schedule in our personal goal schedule. I have seen far too many individuals be unsuccessful in their goal process because something at work that is either overlooked or unexpected comes up and throws a huge monkey wrench in the process.

Lastly, social inventory looks at your involvement in personal relationships. This sometimes overlaps into personal but more often is the product of you giving your time and energy in the friendships that you have. Will you be providing more support to some of your friends in the next few months? Will you have more social gatherings or outings that are socially rewarding but challenge your time to achieve your new goals you may have set for yourself? These social outlet, while extremely beneficial, can significantly slow your progress if you don’t factor them in ahead of time.

As you can see, there are a few points of reflection that are necessary before actually developing your goals and putting them on paper. If you take a little time on the front end of the goal setting process, it is more likely that you will see more success in whatever goal(s) you set for yourself in 2017.

Here’s to a great holiday season and 2017!



Junior Elite Triathletes

I had the honor to present on Performance Nutrition at the USA Triathlon Junior Men's and Junior Women's Select Camps these past two weeks at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. I must say it was great being back on campus again but was shocked at how many updates have been made to the facilities since I left my Sport Dietitian post there in 2008.

I was slated with teaching these 15-18 year old high performance triathletes about sport nutrition. Of course, I only had 1.25 hours (which is extremely difficult for me!) but I managed to give both entertaining and educational presentations. The reason I chose to blog about my experience is because I wanted to share some of the things I noticed regarding these young triathletes:

1. Most of them were extremely engaged and wanted to know about nutrition. However, what I noticed is that most of their questions centered around nutrient timing. I explained to them that daily nutrition is the cornerstone of their performance nutrition plan and without a strong foundation, their race day nutrition plan would not be ideal. As I normally do, I taught them that sport nutrition = daily nutrition + training nutrition.

2. As is always evident in a group setting, their nutrition knowledge base was very different from athlete to athlete. Some stated that they had some nutrition education in middle/high school but I compare that to the nutrition that physicians receive in medical school - not too detailed and perhaps not as up to date as it could be. That said, I was impressed with some of their knowledge level but was shocked that some of the basics were still not known at their level of competitiveness.  For example, and this happens too often to tell, some of the athletes quoted carbohydrate food sources as only grains and starches and not fruits and vegetables.

3. As I presented my FuelTarget™ in an effort to teach them the proper paradigm of choosing foods to stabilize blood sugar and improve energy and recovery from training, I noticed some hesitation. I expected this because many triathletes are only taught the benefit of carbohydrates and not protein and fat. As they learned eating from the inside out of my FuelTarget and the importance of assessing their individual hunger cues, I began to notice the paradigm shift beginning to take place. It is fantastic to see that proverbial light bulb go off in young athletes!

The takeaway messages I received as an educator were: 1) these young triathletes definitely had more advanced knowledge about nutrition than non-athletes of the same age, 2) they were truly engaged throughout my presentation as they actually wanted to learn how to fuel their bodies better, and 3) the sport nutrition field in general really needs to try to make a point at including more research in this age category so professionals like myself can have more scientifically based information to share with these athletes.

Of course, after teaching about optimizing blood sugar, and proper nutrient timing strategies, it does always come down to individuality. I believe many of these Junior Triathletes left with a bit more knowledge in their pockets and their nutritional paradigm shifted just a bit.  At least, that is my hope! Time will tell and the best part is that I will get to "check up" on them at each of the 2017 draft legal races that I will attend with my Junior High Performance Triathlon Team.

Have a great week!