I started making snack bites earlier this year and I am kind of obsessed with them. They are so easy to make and are a great on-the-go snack too. I have altered the recipe a few times to make them a little healthier and I love what they have become.
If you’re into high-fat low-carb, these bites make for a great snack that is sure to satisfy a sweet tooth. I’ll often eat 1 or 2 before a bike ride and they give me energy that lasts longer than sugary/carb-heavy snacks. They make for a great post-ride snack as well!
The best part is there’s only 4 ingredients!! I get most of them in bulk at Costco. Feel free to use whatever brands you like.
I use a pastry blender to combine the ingredients. I got mine from Pampered Chef many years ago, but these would do the trick as well.
Once all the ingredients are blended, start rolling these babies out by hand. If your mixture is too dry to hold their shape, try adding a bit more peanut butter and/or a splash of unsweetened almond milk. They will hold up to a certain degree if you pack these along for your outdoor adventures, but otherwise, store them in the fridge.
I usually have 2-3 per serving, but your servings and nutrition will depend on what size bites you make. Here is the nutrition information based on 2 PB protein bites per serving.
Looking back on this year so far, persistence has been a bit of a theme. Right in time for cyclocross season, I came across this quote on Pinterest that struck a tone with me- “I will persist until I succeed.”
I have been racing for a while (10 years of road, mountain, and cyclocross), and I have learned through a few burn outs how important it is to have not just physical fitness, but mental fitness too. My last few seasons of racing have been very mediocre to poor. After last year and another season of meh I got sick of racing poorly. I know I can do better.
This year, I have had more focus than I have had in many years, probably since 2010 to be specific. Whenever I don’t feel like doing the intervals, or some other hard workout, I remember some of my worst races in the past few years. I don’t want to finish races feeling like that again anytime soon! My strength training has been going really well this year, I am motivated to do the intervals and efforts on my bike, and I have made a few nutrition changes this year which has lead to losing a few lbs that I have struggled with for a few years.
I am both excited and nervous as hell for cyclocross to start. I have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into training this year. I know that my physical fitness is probably close to the best shape I have ever been in, but I still worry if my mental fitness is up to par. But, I will persist until I succeed.
Success in racing means many things to me. This year, my main goal has been to be proud of the efforts I put into races and to set goals based off of controllable factors. I have been mostly successful keeping my head in the right place. I have other goals too, such as where I’d like to finish, but those factors are somewhat out of my control- I can’t control who shows up to a race and how my competitors train. All I can control is MY OWN effort in racing and training.
What’s great about cyclocross, and mountain bike racing as well, is that there is enough skill and technique involved that it’s easy to set goals based on, for example, choosing and clearing a harder/faster line or riding section a little cleaner/faster/with less braking next lap.
I have had some great “test” rides and races this year, and I’m ready to see how this cyclocross season pans out. I am as ready as I will ever be. And I’m ready to PERSIST UNTIL I SUCCEED!
Supplement. Noun. Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.
I have a love/hate relationship with supplements. I love to see how supplements can enhance my fitness and performance (in a safe and legal way). But hate, because it can be easy to rely too heavily on supplements, especially if you have an on-the-go lifestyle.
Most supplements come and go for me but the one supplement I always come back to is a BCAA, or Branched Chain Amino Acid. The only other supplement that is a constant in my pantry is protein powder.
Dieting and cardio exercise is catabolic, meaning that they break down muscle for various reasons. BCAAs are an excellent supplement to consider if you have weight loss goals because they protect the muscle, increase muscle synthesis, and aids in maintaining energy levels during times of calorie restriction.
All of this is especially pertinent to me as an endurance athlete because I am also concerned with maintaining lean mass since most of my weekly training is cardio. I only have a few months during the off-season where I strength train 3-4 days per week. For 4-5 months of the year during and right before my peak racing season, I am only strength training about once a week for maintenance. Using Catalyst before training and racing helps to protect my lean mass to maximize my strength gains all year and helps me recover faster so I can give my next workout 110%.
My favorite BCAA supplement is Advocare Catalyst and I love that it improves my focus during training and racing, but it also helps to burn fat and improve post-exercise muscle repair recovery.
If you want more of the “science” behind BCAAs, check out these articles:
If you ever experience low back pain or other general tightness (who doesn’t?!), you need to incorporate a flexibility routine into your day! Whether you workout or not, you will benefit from this routine.
Joe DeFranco says it so well that my fellow Personal Trainers and I at Anytime Fitness of Cedarburg have been recommending this routine to everyone we come across for a couple years now.
All you need to get through this routine is a foam roller and a lacrosse ball. If you don’t already have these two tools in your possession, head to the nearest sporting goods store as soon as you finish watching the video!
This routine serves as a great warm up to any type of exercise or, do it at home as part of a daily mobility routine.
–Limber 11 Routine–
Foam Roll IT Band
Foam Roll Adductors
SMR Glutes (lax ball)
Bent-knee Iron Cross
Rollovers into V-sits
Rocking Frog stretch
Fire Hydrant circles
Seated Piriformis stretch
Rear Foot Elevated Hip Flexor stretch
Psssst, I have a secret for you…..cross is coming!
Whether or not you have been strength training in preparation for cyclocross season, I want to share some basic mobility and strength exercises that you can start doing immediately to help keep your body functioning well deep into the cross season.
I hear about a lot of back and neck injuries and ailments midway through the season and have experienced some issues myself. The combination of spending long and/or intense hours in the saddle and all the fun stuff about cyclocross- mounts and dismounts, rough/bumpy courses, and grinding through MUD just to name a few, wreck havoc on our bodies and posture. Sitting for long hours at work whether in a car or at a desk exacerbates these issues as well.
Slouching makes our upper back muscles weak and elongated and our chest and shoulders tight. Extended periods of sitting will also cause our glutes and abdominals to get lazy and hips to tighten. Think about when you sit for a while, your feet almost always splay out right? That’s lazy glutes right there.
Here are a few basic exercises you can do before and after workouts or anytime to stay strong and mobile for the entirety of cyclocross season.
Activate upper back/stretch chest and shoulders: I recommend to all my clients to do resistance band pull-aparts to activate the upper back muscles. Keep a resistance band at home and at work to do pull-aparts a couple times a day and your neck and shoulders will thank you! You can also use the same band, or a belt, yoga strap, or a broomstick to open up your chest and shoulders before your ride.
Wake up your core with basic planks. You don’t have to hold planks for very long to reap the benefits! My routine is 2 or 3 sets of front and side planks for 30-45 seconds each. I’ll top these off with core stability and rotational exercises, usually a spinal balance and Russian Twists. These are the just the basic exercises I start with and I do mix in other exercises from time to time so feel free to mix in your favorite core exercises. Or for a bigger challenge, check out some of my favorite TRX abs here .
Stretch out your hips with a deep lunge to reverse the lumbar hunch and cossack squats to stretch the inner thigh.
To wake up the glutes, start with a basic glute bridge. Do single leg glute bridges for more of a challenge. Do 10-20 repetitions before your next ride and I bet you will gain a few watts. 😉 If you really want to do your glutes a favor, add in a set or two of light-weight deadlifts.
Side note: Deadlifts are one of the most important and productive strength exercises for cyclists and non-cyclists alike, activating many muscle groups at once including the forearms/gripping muscles, core stabilizers, lats, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and upper, mid and lower back. If you have never done deadlifts before, this is a great time to start working on form while using a light weight. Once the season is over and it’s time to focus on building strength in the gym again you will be primed and ready to add resistance.
Reverse upper back slouching: The first thing you can do after any amount of time hunched over is to lay on your back to allow your body to realign. Putting your arms out like a goal post will further allow your chest and shoulders to open up again. Breathe(!) deep into your chest and shoulders for a nice stretch. If that is a piece of cake, you can lie on a long foam roller and see if you can get your forearms as flat to the ground as you can, but please don’t force it!
For all stretches, hold each for 1 to 3 rounds of 20-30 seconds, or until you can’t tolerate it. Don’t forget to BREATHE! If it is uncomfortable to breathe deeply, then you are too deep into the stretch and need to back off a bit.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a super basic routine to add daily, especially before rides and ESPECIALLY before cross practice.
Do you include other stretches in your warm-up routine? Let me know in the comments!
I had a piss poor mountain bike race this weekend. I started to feel seriously in over my head in the last couple hours leading up to the race and unfortunately I let some of that self-doubt effect my race.
A couple of very good friends reminded me before the race that it’s important to push outside your comfort zone. That’s the only way to get stronger no matter what it is you’re trying to improve on. After a bit of wallowing in self-pity after the race I came up with these takeaways:
1. Focus on the positive. Even though the race didn’t go well, I really liked the course and I feel it suits my strengths. As I ride there more and more I know I can race well there in the future. I also had a decent start which is usually not the case for me, and the weekend as a whole was awesome. It’s really hard to complain about spending a weekend camping and riding bikes with friends, even if 2 hours of it didn’t go as planned.
2. Identify your weaknesses. I know that my fitness is decent right now but my technical ability is still lacking. I have been riding and racing bikes for 10+ years but only started mountain biking regularly almost 2 years ago. It’s going to take more trail time to get to the same level as the ladies I want to compete against. Using this and other knowledge gained from the weekend, I can adjust my training going forward to address my weaknesses.
3. Keep sight of the big picture. Taking a step back and looking at the big picture, mountain bike racing is fun but it isn’t my main racing discipline. Mountain biking is a fun way for me to improve my technical ability for cyclocross and to test and build fitness during the months leading up to cyclocross season. In order to improve my technical skills for mountain biking, I need to continue to mix in a variety of technical trails with the trails that I am most comfortable on.
Stepping out of your comfort zone does not always yield happy results. But it’s important to learn from each new experience and keep pushing forward.
Mountain bikes, good friends, and camping, oh my! This past weekend was the series opener for the Wisconsin Off Road Series, or WORS, in Iola, WI. It was my first time doing this particular WORS race so I wasn’t sure what to expect of the course. It turned out that it was not very technical at all. Some racers were disappointed in the lack of technical features, stating that it felt almost more like a cyclocross course (and the cold weather didn’t help!). Although I have grown to like and enjoy more technical trails, I still perform better on less technical courses.
Overall, I have been feeling pretty good on road and trail rides lately. The only WORS race I did last year didn’t go so well AND I have a lot more mountain biking under my belt now compared to last Spring, so I had high hopes of placing well in the Sport category.
I was nervous before the race. More so than I have been for a race in a while. I’m no amateur to racing so that surprised me a bit as I was preparing to race Sunday morning. But I always say to my clients at the gym and friends who are new to racing that it’s good to be nervous because that means you care about how you do. If you’re not at least a little nervous, then you probably don’t care enough about the race to be doing it. I have struggled with my mental game in races as recent as last cyclocross season, so looking back, I’m glad I was so nervous!
After waiting for what seemed like forever for staging to begin, then for all the other waves to go (women are the last wave), I had a poor start even though I got into the front row. There is a lot of climbing in the first part of the course, and I seemed to have forgotten my climbing legs at home. I was able to pass a few girls after the initial climb, but the lead girls already had a huge gap. I did my best to stay on the gas and be fast and smooth through the single track. It took me most of a lap to recover from all the climbing at the start though and really feel “fast”, then it was time to climb again. I finished 6th in my age group and 7th overall. It was a fun, fast, and flowy course though (besides all the climbing!) and I will definitely do that race again.
Besides my own race, I had a couple highlights that made the weekend a great experience and fun time. My friend’s/teammate’s 8-year-old nephew did his first race. I got to take him on a lap of the course on Saturday after my own pre-ride and it was so awesome to see how much fun he had in both the pre-ride and in the race itself. At one point in the pre-ride he asked, “so this is mountain biking?” Priceless.
Second, camping. Yes, it was cold all weekend- there were even a few snowflakes on Saturday, but I’m lucky to have friends that have camping down to a science- and propane heaters 😉 Waking up on site on race day is always a perk. And there’s just something about camp coffee…
After being a “roadie” for so many years and lacking technical skills, I have been feeling confident in that area more and more lately. There were a couple times in the race where I caught up to a clump of racers from earlier start waves in relatively technical sections. They were struggling to get through smoothly, either lacking skills or feeling the pressure of having so many other races surrounding them, and I saw many get off their bikes. I was able to change my line quickly or take the less-desired line to get through without even putting a foot down which is a huge accomplishment for me.
And also, I LOVED taking photos of my friends racing in the Comp category after my race was finished. You should probably check them out here:WORS Iola Bump & Jump
Next up is WORS Camrock on June 5!
Saturday April 16 was my second Barry Roubaix at the 36 mile distance. It is the supposedly the largest gravel road race in the world taking place in Hastings, MI. There are three distances, 22-, 36-, and 63-milers, and it is also known as the Killer Gravel Road Race.
What a difference it was from last year! Wearing alltheclothes at last year’s race with the temperature at the start under 20 degrees, to just shorts and a jersey- and sunscreen!- this year was a very welcome change. The house we stayed in for the weekend was closer too, so I was able to enjoy a 12 mile warm up ride to the race with a couple friends who were housemates for the weekend. With the nice weather and everyone in the house having done the race at least once before, the atmosphere in the house and before the start of the race was much more relaxed.
I am a creature of habit but I will also jump at any chance at last minute or planned-ahead adventures. So with the exception of the few months during the dead of winter when I tend to fall into a pretty steady routine, my weekends can vary pretty greatly. But adventures aside, there are a bunch of things I do on the weekends to make sure my weekdays are pretty healthy. Check out this list of things I do on the weekends to stay healthy all week long.
I like to spend as much of my weekend outdoors, usually riding bikes or hiking. Even during the colder months I try to do something outside such as skiing, or snowshoeing or just plain old hiking if there’s not enough snow. Everyone’s schedules and circumstances are a little different, but try to get at least an hour or two of exercise in over the weekend.
When I am properly exercised on the weekends (or really any day of the week), I sleep better at night and it also helps me work through and process any stress I may be dealing with. There’s just nothing like fresh air to wear you out and calm your nerves!
2. Laundry, chores, general organization
I try to keep up with dishes and house cleaning during the week, but in reality, some weeks (okay, most weekds!) just get a little crazy. As clean and organized as I may start the week, by the end of the week my closet has exploded into my bedroom and the little bit of kitchen counter space I have is covered in dishes.
Starting the week with a (relatively) clean house and fresh laundry is the perfect way to start the week. Everything is in its place so you don’t have to scramble on Monday morning to find your work clothes, running shoes, ear buds, etc.
I typically do most of my cleaning right when I wake up on Saturday or Sunday morning. I prefer to do laundry later on Sunday after weekend adventures have wrapped up. Folding and putting clothes away right away is key, so that you don’t have to dig through clothes baskets of wrinkly clothes later in the week. Bonus points if you lay out your clothes for the next day right away.
I also try to keep up with dishes especially after meal prepping and cooking for the week.
3. Grocery shopping
I try to avoid the grocery stores on Saturdays when they tend to be pretty crazy, but every weekend somewhere between Friday night and Sunday afternoon I’ll hit up the grocery store to stock up on goods for the week. I tend to do two big shopping trips a month, so every other week is just a quick stop to load up on fresh produce and maybe a couple other things I have run out of during the week.
4. Meal prep
Every weekend is a little different for me, but at some point over the weekend, I spend a little time prepping breakfasts for the week (since I eat at work most days, this might be lunch and/or dinner for you dependin
g on your work schedule), portioning out snacks, and cooking any batch meals I have planned for the week, which usually includes my slow cooker. I strongly recommend to chop veggies and get as much meal prep done right when you get home from the grocery store. The longer fresh veggies sit in your fridge before prepping them for snacks or salads, the more likely they end up going bad and being thrown away.
I stay on track towards my health and fitness goals better (and feel better!) when I have my meals prepped and planned. Another added bonus is saving money on food when I’m out and about because I have snacks that are ready to grab and go and meals ready to be heated up at home.
5. Put everything I need for tomorrow into a tote bag.
Every work night, I gather everything I need for the next day. I have a specific tote bag (or backpack if I’m riding to work) that I take with me during the workweek. Any work I took home goes right back in the bag so
I don’t forget to bring it back; if it’s a lifting day I make sure to put workout clothes, shoes, ear buds, etc., in the bag; as well as any food I need that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Anything that does need to be refrigerated gets grouped together in the fridge so I can easily grab it in the morning and toss in my bag (or a lunch cooler which also gets tossed in the tote).
6. Start your nightly routine a little early on Sunday.
I always try to get into bed a little early on Sunday nights. It doesn’t always work out this way for me- some Sundays I am having too much fun outside. But it’s a relaxing way for me to start the week when I can spend a little extra time reading before lights out.
I’m no clean freak, but there’s nothing more relaxing after an active weekend than having dishes and laundry clean and put away, knowing what my meals for the week are with peace of mind knowing that some of all of it just has to be heated up, and having time to read a couple pages of whatever book I’m reading before bed.
What do you do on the weekends that help you stay healthy during the week?