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The Ultimate Swim, Bike, Run: Kona Ironman World Championship 2011

Written on October 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by

The official Ironman logo.

If you’ve ever done a triathlon, then you can appreciate something as powerful as an Ironman—the ultimate competition of some of the world’s fittest people. What I consider fit may be different than what others consider fit, but there’s no denying that this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26. 2-mile run (yes, a marathon) is a beast of a competition and one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges you will experience. Training for a race like this takes much experience, determination and commitment, not to mention willpower, to get through those many miles and long hours of constantly pushing yourself.

Having competed in a couple Olympic-distance triathlons (that’s a mile swim, 25-mile bike and 6.2-mile run), I can tell you that training is intense: Long hours spent before work, after work and on weekends getting in the practice in the pool, on your bike and on the road. Sometimes, doing all three in one day. But if you’ve ever done one of these competitions, or have thought about it, then you also know how seriously fun they can be. Combining three sports in one breaks up the monotony of a regular marathon or a long bike ride. Plus, if you’re semi-”Type A” or uber competitive like me, then you might enjoy the challenge, and accomplishment, of completing each leg of the race and checking it off your list as you rush to the next challenge—swim, bike, run. To be able to train for an Ironman takes an understanding of how this sport works, including learning the proper nutrition and how to stay fueled throughout the entire race.

When I got the most amazing opportunity to watch the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 8th, I literally jumped for joy! Instantly upon arriving in Kona, I developed a much bigger appreciation for what these athletes accomplished just by being there.

And, they're off! Official swim start.

Much to my surprise, it wasn’t just the elite athletes, who blew my away—it was the oldest competitor, an 81-year-old man from Oregon, and the 60-something-year-old breast cancer survivor, and Scott Rigsby, the man with two prosthetic legs who crossed that finish line before the 17-hour time limit that brought tears to my eyes. To be fit and healthy is something that anybody can practice and aim for, no matter the obstacles pitted against you—and these athletes are proof of that. Just like the three amazing people mentioned above, everybody racing has a story worth telling.

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Female Ironman Champ Tyler Stewart Shares Her Gluten-Free Secrets

Written on September 28, 2011 at 10:48 am , by

Written by Alyssa Belanger, editorial intern

Stewart chases down the competition. (Photo courtesy of LUNA Pro Sports Team)

For Tyler Stewart, female Ironman titleholder, LUNA Chix Pro Team member and successful business owner, a gluten-free diet is more than just a passing fad. It took years of dealing with stomach pain, bloating, headaches and fatigue for Stewart to figure out that gluten was the culprit of her stomach issues. But within a few weeks of eliminating the hard-to-digest protein from her diet, she noticed her discomfort went away and her energy skyrocketed. (This diet is not the fix for all individuals, but those with gluten sensitivities benefit from eliminating wheat products from their meal plans.)

The superstar athlete, who openly admits that she “hates swimming” despite her success with the sport, shared her diet journey, daily menu and motivation tricks during a recent webcast.

Find your priorities. Stewart of course trains for upcoming events, but also runs a full-service dog grooming business with her husband and coaches other athletes. But, she says, “the key to being gluten-free is making time for you and your health.”

Make smart choices for you. “My family is so far from gluten-free,” Stewart says. “Sometimes I take it personally when we get together for dinner and they say, ‘Hey Ty, you’re going to bring your own food, right?’” Despite the joking around, Stewart’s family has been supportive of her lifestyle and she has been trying to teach them simple substitutions so everyone can eat together (opt for rice instead of pasta; potatoes over white bread).

Don’t strive to be perfect. To be successful, you have to be reasonable with yourself and avoid beating yourself up if you make a mistake—say eating an indulgent dessert or skipping a workout. “You have to manage your highs and lows,” she says. “You just have to keep looking forward.”

Enjoy your eats. “The whole perception that gluten-free is not tasty is old news,” Stewart says. She has found delicious substitutes for almost every type of food—there’s even gluten-free beer!

A typical day in Stewart’s diet:

  • Breakfast: Gluten-free muffin, banana and almond butter; coffee
  • Snack: LUNA gluten-free protein bar
  • Lunch: Big salad with chicken and roasted potatoes
  • Snack: Yogurt with fruit
  • Dinner: Chicken with baked potato and broccoli

To learn more about Tyler Stewart, the LUNA Chix Pro Team and LUNA’s gluten free products check out lunabar.com.

More from FITNESS: Diet Myths Debunked: Five “Healthy” Eating Plans You Should (or Shouldn’t) Try

The Wassner Twins: Triathlete Sisters LIVESTRONG

Written on June 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm , by

Lauren, left, and Rebeccah (Photo by H & E Enterprises)

Laurel, left, and Rebeccah won a combined nine triathlons in 2010! (Photo by H & E Enterprises)

Rebeccah Wassner began competing in triathlons professionally in 2004 and was not only inspiring fans of the sport, but also motivating her twin sister. Laurel, an athlete herself, watched her sister school the competition in races while she fought (and beat) Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 23. “I was her number one cheerleader,” Laurel says. Rebeccah’s success on the triathlon circuit fueled Laurel’s desire to get strong and healthy again. In 2008, Laurel was selected as the 2008 USA Pro Triathlon Rookie of the Year. Talk about a comeback!

We spoke with the Wassner twins about their amazing journey together, the power of a training partner and their work with the LIVESTRONG foundation.

Do you train together?

Rebeccah: Yes. Since I’ve been doing this longer, I tend to call the shots. I’ve had the opportunity to train with so many great athletes, so when I’m training with Laurel, I try to show her what I’ve learned from them. Of course, just having Laurel out there is a huge motivation for me.

Laurel: Bec is very driven and focused. I try to provide some of the fun, and try to keep the workouts interesting. We usually motivate each other without even talking—maybe it’s a “twin thing.” Before we know it, we’ll be racing!

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Chef Rocco DiSpirito Dishes On Food and Fitness

Written on March 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm , by

Rocco DiSpirito is serving up new recipes and advice in the follow up to his popular Now Eat This! Cookbook. (Photo by Markus Klinko & Indrani)

There are too many recipes to count in the April issue that left me wanting to run from the office straight to the kitchen when I got home! But one of the most tempting meals? The BLT Sandwich and sweet potato fries created by celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito, which also appears in his brand new book, Now Eat This! Diet (which hit bookstores yesterday).

We were lucky enough to interview the fit gourmet, who dropped 20 pounds while training for his first triathlon, about his own health journey and kitchen tricks. Here are his three secrets for success, whether in an apron or a pair of sneakers:

  • To drop pounds, keep tabs on the numbers. “Know how many calories and fat grams are in your meals and snacks, and only eat what you can afford, calorically speaking.”
  • Utilize low-calorie flavor enhancers. “A few of my ‘secret ingredients’ in my healthy recipes are fresh herbs, Dijon mustard and lemon juice.”
  • The hardest things can be the most rewarding. “The actual triathlon was much harder than most anything I’ve done. Its almost impossible to finish and the temptation to give up is much stronger than any temptation I’ve ever felt. That’s what makes crossing the finish line so fabulous.”

Awesome advice, and now I’m anxious to go try out even more of Rocco’s recipes (Chicken Pesto Pasta, Red Velvet Chocolate Squares and Crispy Loaded Pizza, all lightened up? Yes, please!)

Now tell us: What’s the most delicious dish you’ve whipped up lately?

How Do You Find a Healthy Balance?

Written on January 31, 2011 at 9:38 am , by

Karla's all smiles after completing her first triathlon.

Karla's all smiles after completing her first triathlon in 2007.

Back in junior high, my favorite meal was chicken fingers (which I ate for lunch or dinner nearly everyday), and I was fairly inactive (an afternoon of watching TV talk shows? Yes please!).

But after being tired of feeling tired and getting teased for my size, I made a pledge to hit the gym for 30 minutes every school day and cut back on fried foods. The plan worked, but I admittedly took it a little too far in the other direction, being too strict with my diet and running to the point of stress fractures and constantly sore muscles. After some time and practice, I learned to find balance in my daily lifestyle, incorporating reasonable amounts fitness and healthy living without going overboard. This experience made me realize how important good health is, in moderation, and from then on, I made it my goal to work in the wellness world.

I’m now proud to say that my body is strong and healthy enough to complete sprint triathlon, a five-mile road race or a spinning class (just not all in the same day!). But these days my favorite fitness activity is workout DVDs, so I can’t wait to share all of my new picks with you in the coming months.

Take a look at our past DVD reviews, then get ready for the 2011 list coming in the March issue, which hits stands in just a couple of weeks!

And then tell us: How do you find a healthy balance?

How I Got Back into Fitness (and How You Can, Too!)

Written on January 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm , by

Jenna celebrates her awesome finish at this year's Nautica Triathlon.

Jenna celebrates her awesome finish at the 2011 NYC Nautica Triathlon.

A few years ago, I had my very own “I did it!” moment. I had just moved into the city straight out of college and got wrapped up with all the amazing things there are to do and see in the Big Apple, all while completely putting my health on the backburner. As a kid, I played every sport—lacrosse, volleyball, and running cross-country—but really fell in love with martial arts. Ten years into training, I regretfully decided to call it quits and focus on my schooling. (Getting your black belt takes a lot of dedication!)

In college, I got back into exercising and learning my way around the gym, but only started taking fitness seriously when I hit that slump after moving out on my own. When I say I put my health on the backburner, I promise you I was doing everything wrong—I was getting no sleep, had little energy, and wasn’t caring about what I was eating. I missed the once fit girl that I knew I was. So I woke up one morning, went online, and signed up for my very first Olympic-distance triathlon (if I’m going to do something, I’m doing it big!). Less than a year later I completed that race—and then two more and three half-marathons. I’ve got my sights on the NYC ING Marathon at the end of the year and my soon-to-be hubby and I plan on climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for our first anniversary in 2012.

Are you ready to commit to your own fitness adventure? Today marks day one of our half-marathon training program! Follow along with our two running bloggers, Marla and Susan, as they test out our FITNESS plan—join them by downloading your own schedule and hitting the road today. Good luck and stay warm out there!