Learning how to fuel myself and others
February 12th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Learning how to fuel myself and others

Editor's Note: Adrienne LaGier from St. Leonard, Maryland, is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program.  Each athlete receives all the tools necessary to train for and compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this September, alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  The seven athletes met up this past weekend in Atlanta for the official kickoff of the program.

One of my goals in completing this challenge is to create a new healthy lifestyle for myself, fiancé Chris, and the girls. Making exercise a priority is only half of the equation.

The other half is food.

How does this high school teacher/busy mom of busy twins/aspiring triathlete lose weight, resist temptation, and provide healthy meals for the family?

I'll start by taking some advice from CNN Fit Nation Triathlete alum Nina Lovel.

While being treated like rock stars in the Hawks suite, I had a chance to chat with Nina about food. She had brought me a bunch of her workout clothes from last year that no longer fit (thank you Nina!), and walked me through her weight loss journey. She lost 5 pounds right away (and so have I!), but then didn't lose any for awhile, even with long constant workouts. Her coach suggested she write down everything she ate, and once they analyzed the results, Nina got shocking news: She wasn't eating enough! Her coach told her if she wanted to lose weight, she was going to have to eat! Her body was in shut-down mode. She started purposefully eating and started dropping the pounds.

Nina Lesson #1 ? Don't be afraid of food – eat intentionally.

Ilana Katz, a nutritionist we met with during kickoff weekend, helped me realize that the carbs I've told myself for years are off limits (bagels, baked potatoes) can actually be my friend as I begin harder workouts. I need to consciously eat to fuel my workouts. Pick solids over liquids, replenish my salt supply, hydrate.

Ilana and Nina Lesson #2 : Eat every 3 hours

This will help stabilize my blood sugar and not make me want to stop at McDonald's on the way home from school. Or to make a plate of nachos before the girls get off the bus. So far, I've tried Ezekiel English Muffins with chocolate almond butter, apple slices with peanut butter, Greek yogurt, and the ultimate snack: a banana. These all seem to help curb my hunger and help me feel healthy and satisfied (and ready to work out!).

Lesson #3: The workout is the reward, not the food.

Friday night of Kick Off Weekend we went to Flip Burger for dinner. I obsessed over the menu in the week prior to the trip and rationalized that I "deserved" to drink the liquid nitrogen Nutella and burnt marshmallow shake as an appetizer with no guilt. I got to the hotel that night and regretted that shake a lot more than I thought I would. My body just didn't feel right. Saturday night, as we walked into the Hawks arena, all I could smell was wings, roasted peanuts, and nachos. I thought for sure that's what we'd be having in our private suite. When I opened the door and saw a fruit platter, salad, and grilled chicken instead, I had the physical reaction that I can only imagine an addict goes through. All I could think about was chicken wings. Where were they and how could I get them? Thank heavens for Nina. She doesn't know it, but she talked me down off the ledge. Clearly, I still need to work on this. I need to remember how I felt Friday after that shake and remind myself – it's not worth it.

Lesson #4: My students won't hate me if I start bringing in healthy food to deadline nights

The words "Deadline Night" in my journalism room brings about visions of Chinese feasts, McDonalds' Happy Meals, chips galore, and tons of chocolate. In other words, comfort food. It's the extra motivation teenagers need to stick around through the long haul; their "reward" for spending over 13 hours at school. Or so I've thought. But after reading CNN producer Matt Sloane's comments about why I was chosen, I realize I need to make better choices on the behalf of my students and think twice before I buy a ton of junk food as a "reward" for hard work. So, on February 23rd, we are having a healthy-food-centered deadline night, with everyone bringing in their favorite health-conscious food. I'm going to make Kale potato chips and we have big plans for spinach smoothies. Stay tuned.

Lessons Still Need to be Learned...

How to get my girls eating foods other than chicken nuggets, pizza, and cereal while not fighting me on every new food I try to introduce to them. While walking down Stone Mountain, Dr. Gupta told me his girls eat chicken nuggets too (man did that make me feel better). I love them for their ease - if we are trying to get out the door to piano lessons and we have 15 minutes to eat, 2 minutes in the microwave and we're done.

Do you have any suggestions on healthier, yet just as fast, alternatives to chicken nuggets?

soundoff (252 Responses)
  1. kristinehenry

    I used to think that buying bigger was better, Meal planning is key, so look for the items you’d need to create healthy meals, Plan your meals based on what’s on sale and see if you can find samples from "Get Official Samples" that is even better

    February 13, 2012 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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    But for many hardworking families, affordable insurance can be hard to find. The new "Penny Medical" is giving you more control over your family’s health care by expanding your options for health insurance and making them more affordable.

    February 13, 2012 at 05:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Galina L.

    Spreading such advice contributes to the national spread of obesity, while sport experts started to say something like http://www.timeslive.co.za/lifestyle/2012/02/05/sorry-but-carbo-is-really-a-no-no, http://www.srm.de/it/srm-blog/triathlon-blog/467-interview-mit-asker-jeukendrup, cnn articles declares that "bagels are fine", "comfort food is fine", " chicken nuggets are o.k.".

    February 13, 2012 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ben Dover

    There are so many articles in the news today that focus on ways to lose weight or keep it off. I'd like to see an article on how to put it on or at least maintain weight while staying healthy on an almost non-existent budget. Last week I lived solely off of popcorn and cereal bars. I'm trying to get by on as little as possible for my funds are currently allocated towards my tuition and medical bills I've acquired after undergoing a laproscopic appendectomy. Over the course of three weeks I have lost 15 pounds and with a body fat percentage of almost nothing I fear that I might not have much more to lose. I also have a feeling I'm not the only person out there who has found themselves in my current predicament. I recently told a friend of mine that I once ate nothing more than a pork liver over the course of three days. I realize that my diet is nothing short of terrible for my health and because of this I would like CNN to answer a question for me if they are up to the challenge. What foods offer the most bang for their buck and at the same time offer enough health benefits that I won't find myself in a hospital in the foreseeable future as a result of malnutrition? It would also be interesting to do an article on the typical college diet and talk about the nutritional values of foods such as "ramen noodles" and other commonly ingested foods by college students. This week is spaghetti week, where I only eat spaghetti noodles and pasta sauce. We'll just have to see how it plays out.

    February 13, 2012 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Galina L.

      My son is in a university now. Please tell me your budget and I will try to give you some suggestions. Always include in your diet proteins, eggs are very affordable, next are chicken legs and organ meats.Eating one box of eggs will provide you with better nutrition content than box of pasta at basically the same price. Almost everyone should try to eat some liver once a week. Do you know that most butchers throw away extra fat they trim out of steaks in order to make it leaner? Ask the butcher department to give you that fat for free at a nominal price, ask it to be grounded . Use it as a cooking oil for rice, potatoes and some veggies. My son gets it for free. We in our family consider animal fat the healthiest fat possible, we avoid corn and soy oils like a plague. Most of the time it is very cheap to buy rice in bulk in oriental stores. Make sure you make some soup and keep it in your fridge. Hold on, never buy any snacks or drinks or waist money on a pasta souse. If you want to I will sent you soup recipes.

      February 13, 2012 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
  5. TriHardStasia

    Adrienne, I've been on that food ledge before too! I've rationalized burgers, I've told myself "I deserve this pizza for lunch because I've had a crappy day". That's one of my hardest things to do is get away from emotional eating and rewarding myself with food. Baking cookies becaue I've had a bad day always seems like a better idea than a run....but I know, rationally, that I'll feel better if I run than eat a plate of cookies. GOOD LUCK! I'm following you! KEEP IT UP!

    February 13, 2012 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RunLikeADog

    Chicken satay with Thai peanut sauce can be thrown together very fast and cooks in minutes under the broiller. Great source of protein (very important, especially as you ramp up your training) and very kid-friendly. Add raw veggies or a spinach salad and maybe some buckwheat soba (also cooks in minutes) and you're set! Fast clean-up too.

    February 13, 2012 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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  8. Josh

    Bagels are okay? Nutritionists and physical trainers alike are full of bad advice. Exercise is not what will make you lose weight. It is 99% diet. Limit carbohydrate intake – the actual reason you gain weight. If you were to limit your carbohydrate intake enough to get your body into ketosis, you can just up your protein intake. This provides more than enough glycogen your muscles need.

    Lesson 1-don't eat any of that crap.
    Lesson 2-if you restrict carbohydrates enough, you will not crave McDonalds or other carbohydrate-laden food.
    Lesson 3-you can eat peanuts and wings. Just avoid the sauce.
    Lesson 4-comfort food is a thick juicy steak smothered in garlic butter. Kale chips are good though!

    Anyway, the whole premise that exercise will help you lose weight is incorrect. Many people actually gain weight due to it – including many marathon runners. Losing weight is about carbohydrate restriction. Those people who tell you exercise worked have also in tandem cut out a lot of junk foods (carbohydrates) and don't attribute that to the weight loss.

    When you exercise, your LPL (lipoprotein lipase) enzymes are excited outside of your muscle cells, redirecting fatty acids from entering your fat cells. This is great! But temporary. When your exercise is done, your insulin begins directing fatty acids to flood your fat cells via LPL due to the fact your LPL activity on your muscles has shut down. This essentially stores fat for you more efficiently. Furthermore, the rush of fatty acids from your blood makes you hungry again.

    Lose the weight first, and then exercise. You can seriously lose a lot in just a few months. Don't need CNN, a trainer or someone else having you buy into a program. Go low-carb.

    February 24, 2012 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. tian

    "WHY SHOULD GAYS NOT SERVE???????"Too easy. WHY must they be gays to serve in the Armed Forces?NOONE wants OR needs to know the sexual eiointatron of the soldier standing next to them. I am offended that they "MUST be GAY soldiers". Why can't they be Americans, first and foremost, THEN soldiers, and last but not least, who they hell CARES to tell people if they sleep with opposite sex? MOST people tend to keep their bedroom private, except WHO?!?! That's right, gay people. NOONE cares. WE don't WANT to know. End of story.

    March 3, 2012 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rampok

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      April 8, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
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