Nov 29, 2006

Smart Snacking

I always have snacks in my bag. It's kind of my Cardinal Rule... plus, I'm always hungry! Going from one place to the next, and the next, and a couple workouts in between, and riding my bike to get there, and using my brain when I am there... you get the picture, that's a lot of calories to re-fuel. I'm always looking for healthy, easy, packable snacks... that are sugar free, will travel as a bike commuter, taste great, and make me feel great. Here are my favorites:
1) Larabars - Very simple mixes of nuts and dried fruits pressed into a bar, comes in several flavors, wrapped like a powerbar, travels and tastes great with very few ingredients. I get them at New Seasons, but you can pick them up any health food store.
2) Think Organic Bars - Also simply pressed fruit and nuts into bars, but some flavors I think are more complicated and not sugar free. The cherry one is so good, and has three or four ingredients, I just stick to that one. Also at New Seasons or other health food stores.
3) Apples - Taste great, travel well, I eat one every day.
4) Hard boiled eggs - Travel well, a great protein and fat pick up.
5) Honey Stingers - Small packets of honey and electrolytes, great for long runs or long bike rides, small and easy to pack, last forever and a great way to pick up your body's glucose level if you about to bonk from low energy.
6) Odwalla bars - Some of them are sugar free and made with nice things, just read the labels and find one that sounds good. I like the super protein one, because it has 16g of protein and a nice oatmeal taste.
7) Organic fruit leathers - Small and travel great! Pure fruit, keeps for a long time.
8) Nuts, seeds, dried fruits - Always a good back up.
9) Homemade powerbars and muffins - Recipes to come!
10) Corncakes - In the rice cake section of the health food store, light, tasty, and great if you stop somewhere and grab some humus to go with them.
and the bonus # (because it is a cheater...)
11) Primal Strips - AMAZING (but they have a TINY amount of sugar in them)... the Mesquite Lime is by far the best, and it is a nice strip of wheat gluten with spices that packs a great balance of protein, salt, calories and carbs. It was reviewed in Bicycling Magazine as one of the best biking snacks, and I agree... plus it's hard to find a vegan packable protein... if they took out those few sprinkles of sugar, it would be the perfect snack food. You should feel free to eat them anyway!

Train well, eat even better....

Nov 20, 2006

Fighting Oppression Everywhere

I remember all the times I was told I couldn't do something because I as a girl, or that wasn't "ladylike", or girls can't skateboard, or, or, or.....
I remember all the times I advocated for trans athletes to compete in certain sporting events, such as the "All Girl Skate Jam", advocated for labels and places for "other" gender options, or non gendered options in sporting events I was involved in....
And I remember how much hard work has been done, and still needs to be done, for trans and non gendered athletes to be accepted.... We live in an oppressive binary gender system, and I'm a gender drop out.
There is very little medical research that has been done on transsexuals and elite athletic performance, so there are obvious debates about muscle mass, lung capacity, effects of puberty, synthetic hormone use, etc. So far the limited studies have shown that hormone therapy can transition someone to the standard athletic levels of their chosen sex, making it "fair".
I could care less about arguments of athletic standards of "unfairness" in a context of trans athletes, not only because I think the are medically unfounded, but also because the system they are operating in is completely unfair and biased to begin with. Transphobia is far from eliminated, thus every gain in transgender equality is a step towards creating a less oppressive world for all of us. If a transsexual woman is standing at the podium in first place, she walked and raced a long road to get there, and she deserves every bit of that victory.
If you want to break it down into advantages and disadvantages... every single athlete, wether they are trans or not, has some of both.... social and economic backgrounds create athletic advantages and disadvantages, air quality at home, parental support, physical abilities and disabilities, asthma, allergies, quality of the gear you own, access to the right coaches, health insurance, climate you live in, stressors in your life, the size of the body you were genetically predisposed for.... the list goes on and on....
If you look at it that way... nothing is fair about athletic competition, and to me, that's fine. It celebrates all of us as unique, and reinforces that it can always just be about fun and personal gain, rather than standing in first place. So what if I wasn't lucky enough to have Lance Armstrong's lungs and the money to pay his coach Chris Charmichael? I'm still going to finish the ironman with a smile.

Here's another related article about transsexual athletes and sport with some more food for thought:

Nov 19, 2006

Transsexual Athletes

There has yet to be an "out" trans athlete competing in the Olympics... and 2008 might just be that year. Kristen Worley is a Canadian cycling hopeful for the games in Beijing, and is also an out transsexual male to female (MTF) athlete. Awesome. There happens to be another amazing transsexual male to female (MTF) Canadian cyclist in the pro rankings, Michelle Dumaresq, who competes in downhill mountain biking. There is a mind blowing documentary called 100% Woman, about her and her racing career, as well as reactions from the pro cycling community. There's a link to it on the side bar, and it's well worth watching. I can also lend out my copy of the DVD.
Kristen Worley qualifies by all legal standards to compete in the female category in the Olympics, if she makes the cut.... and she is waiting to see if there is any backlash from the community.
One of the comments I hear the most, is that MTF athletes have a physical advantage, because of their "male" histories.... and this simply isn't true. This myth gets debunked by medical professionals both in Michelle's Documentary, and in Kristen's case. Transitioning from one sex to another in order to qualify for the Olympics involves hormone therapy, surgery, and a minimum of a two year waiting period after transition to compete. The basic medical science behind it is that hormone therapy shifts the bodies hormone levels to match those of the sex one is transitioning to. Male bodied people have a muscular advantage due to testosterone levels, and once these levels change, muscular mass also changes accordingly.
Here is an excerpt from an NBC article about Kristen, talking about this:

No actual advantage?
Perhaps the biggest hurdle facing the athletes is convincing critics that male-to-female transsexuals do not have a physical advantage over their competitors.

“It’s the age-old phenomenon of people fearing what they don’t know,” said Jill Pilgrim, general counsel and director of business affairs for USA Track and Field Inc., who teamed up with a physician to do research on transsexual athletes. “When a male-to-female transsexual undergoes hormone therapy, they are reducing their testosterone levels and taking female hormones. They lose muscle mass, which is the advantage testosterone gives you.”

Pilgrim said she believes the only sport in which men-to-women transsexuals might have an advantage is swimming, because these athletes gain body fat, which assists buoyancy.

That's pretty great for NBC.... and I love that they say that Male to Female transsexuals might have an advantage in swimming, because you gain body fat.... even though all non transsexual females also have female hormone levels regulating body fat!

I know which country I am cheering for in the 2008 Olympics!!!

Nov 16, 2006

homemade treats!

Almond Butter Oat Cookies
mix together:
5 TBS almond butter
1/4 CUP date syrup
1 TSP vanilla extract
1/4 CUP brown rice flour
1/2 CUP oats
1/4 TSP baking soda
1 TSP cinnamon or cardamom (optional)
1/4 CUP grain sweetened vegan chocolate or carob chips (sunspire brand)

Make into small, flatish dough balls, and place on a greased or lined cookie sheet
Bake at 325 for about 10-12 minutes

alternatives to sugar

some of my favorite sweeteners... all helping me live a sugar free year
all of these can be purchased at New Seasons Markets, with the exception of the Carob Molasses, which I get at Ya Hala on SE Stark

1) Agave Nectar - This one comes from the agave fruit and is the consistency of honey with a milder taste. I like this one in hot drinks, on cereal and oatmeal, in cake frosting recipes....

2) Xylitol - Sounds like a chemical but it's actually an extract from a tree bark. Looks like white sugar with a gentler taste and a very low glycimic index, so it is safe for diabetics. This is my sweetener of choice for coffee, and if it were cheaper I would bake with it too.

3) Brown Rice Syrup - Thick and rich with great texture. I use this for baking muffins, cookies, powerbars and rice crispy treats.

4) Carob Molasses - Rich and dark with a strong flavor, extracted from carob beans, and that's all! This one makes great cookies and peanut sauce.

5) Date Syrup - Straight from dates, so it's quite sweet. I use it for baking and sauces.

And why no sugar? Processed cane sugar causes me lots of distress for many reasons. It is very quickly absorbed into your system, so you get a fast high and a fast low... it's horrible for sustained energy. It acts as an inflammatory in the body, and therefore makes any injuries you may have worse (such as tendinitis, muscle injury, etc.), and also inflames your bronchioles, making it more challenging to get oxygen into your blood stream, which is especially noticeable in asthmatics like myself. Sugar is an immune suppressor, meaning it weakens the immune system, making recovery from a cold much slower, and making you more susceptible to getting sick in the first place. It makes me cranky and groggy, I get the "sugar hangover" the next day if I eat it. Hmmm, I guess it's just bad news in my body, and living sugar free I feel so much better mentally and physically, have not gotten sick or had asthma, and enjoy whole natural foods so much more. There's lots of research out there about it, if you are dying for more.... there's a great sugar free blog you can also check out for a great laugh and some good information: