For as long as I can remember, I would describe nutrition to my clients using a continuum. The example I would use is: "In the ideal nutrition world, you would choose the organic apple. If you can't do the organic apple, then choose the conventional apple. The conventional apple is still better than the candied apple." Everything worked along that continuum, and you would just aim to get the best you could, at that time, in that place. Of course the candy apple isn't a health food, and I don't recommend eating them, but you get the idea. The conventional apple, while not the best, is still better than the candy apple. The same thing would go for a potato: choose an organic sweet potato first and the conventional sweet potato as your second choice. Both would all be better than the french fried potato.
But there is a slight hiccup in my theory, and now, I cannot use that example for all fruits and veggies, like I used to. What changed?
Beets. That's what changed. Here I was, thinking that all beets were one of the best foods for the body. They are great for detoxing the liver, and chock full of nutrition for the body. In fact, even the beet stems and greens are some of the healthiest part of the food. And this is still true. But it's only true of an organic beet. (and an organic beet is still one of the healthiest foods we can eat for the body!) See, beets are a root vegetable that essentially "sucks up" everything in it's surrounding soil. This includes nutrients as well as chemicals, toxins, and pesticides. Therefore, a non-organic beet is, in essence, full of chemicals, glyphosate from the "roundup" pesticide that is sprayed on almost all non-organic conventional & GMO foods.
While pro-GMO activists say that glyphosate is completely safe for humans, and that it breaks down fully and non-harmfully, this is just what they want you to think. In reality, it breaks down into AMPA, a metabolite that's chemical structure can stay stored in the human body as a toxin, wreaking havoc on your organs and toxic load of the body.
So, what does this have to do with beets? Well, the "health food industry" wants you to believe that all beets are created equal. They want you to believe that a conventionally grown, genetically modified beet is just as nutritious as the organic beet. In reality, the conventional beet is full of pesticides (because remember, the beet sucks up everything in it's surrounding soil). So, never again should you eat a non-organic beet.
But what the health food industry is doing, and they had me fooled as well until just about a few weeks ago, is starting to use beet sugar as a "healthy" sweetener. You would think that this would be a much better sweetener alternative than regular sugar, since it comes directly from one of the healthiest foods on the planet. But in reality, (conventional) beet sugar is many times worse for the body than regular organic cane sugar. Some would even say it's worse than even high fructose corn syrup, simply because of the toxins that the conventional beet soaks up. (Remember when high fructose corn syrup was healthier than sugar because it came from corn?). Today, over 90% of all sugar beets grown in the USA are genetically modified, which means that sugar derived from beets is chock full of toxins.
On my continuum, now I would say, have the organic beet (or organic beet sugar), and if you can't... well then, just don't have that food.
In a nutshell, I would choose not to eat beets or beet sugar in any form, UNLESS it is organic. We don't need to add any more chemicals to our already environmentally chemically imbalanced bodies.
(This is just my opinion. I apologize if you disagree.)
The truth is, starting over ain't easy.
It's with a little bit of a broken heart that I write this post. I have decided to cancel my official marathon training program for this upcoming 2015 season. It brings up a whole slew of emotions just to even think that I will not be hosting a training program, and it's incredibly humbling. I have hosted at least 1 marathon training program every single year since 2003, training hundreds of runners for their first half or full marathon, or 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. marathons.
My marathon training journey began in 2002/2003 in Washington DC, and continued in DC through 2007, where I even used my runners as my research subjects for my graduate school research on running form and efficiency, using a technique called ChiRunning. I then moved out to Sacramento, CA where my marathon training program had to start fresh, growing steadily each year. But that wasn't the first or last time I had to start over. In 2011, I gave it all up to start fresh... again... in Columbus, MS, knowing I would only be there for a few years. I knew it would be a struggle to break into a foreign community, build trust, and gather runners. But after a couple years, that was no problem and we had a great group to train for our marathons and races in the South before the AF transferred us again.
This is the 4th time now, in a new place, where I have to start over. (cue the frustrations of being a military spouse). I know, based on past experience, that it does take a few years to really build up my training programs, as word of mouth gets out, and folks get the courage to try something they always dreamed about. With all of the mega-training-groups out there, with unlimited advertising funds, and a steady spot in their community, it's tough being the new mom-and-pop shop in town, out here on my own. Every three years or so, I am starting over as "the new trainer/coach" even though I've been doing this for 13 years.
So, as I mentioned before, I have decided to cancel my 2015 marathon training program. This is due to having only 2 committed runners sign up (and am super grateful for the two past Sacramento Live For It All ladies who wanted to train with me AGAIN!) It was super reassuring that folks were willing to drive 45 minutes to meet with me early on Saturday mornings in Winters, CA, for our long runs. They helped me to remember that not all is lost, and that it may just take some extra time to get the ball rolling... again. I can't expect to just pick up where I left off all the way across the country.
You all know that I don't do what I do for the money (though some day it will be nice to earn a full living doing what I do). I do it because I love it. While a 20 week training program takes an immense amount of time, effort, dedication, and willpower on my part, as well as the runners who are training, there is nothing that I enjoy more than seeing those who put in the effort for so long, crossing that finish line. It makes doing what I do the most worthwhile job in the world. And that is why I am broken hearted to cancel this year. I won't get to experience the feeling of seeing them cross that marathon finish line after 26.2 miles of hard work.
When you join a training group, one of the major benefits is that you have a "group" to train with. With just 3 of us, that wouldn't be fair. But, on a good note, this allows me to open up my schedule a bit more to offering other fitness activities like Saturday morning hikes, or bootcamps, unofficial training runs, 5k clinics, and more this year.
So, while my heart is a bit sad, frustrated, and even a little bit angry for the fact that I have to start over every couple of years, I do have faith that if I just continue teaching my 5 Weeks to 5k running clinics, continue teaching fitness classes, and hosting programs, that next marathon training season in 2016 will be a completely different story! I look forward to having a huge supportive group of runners helping each other find success again!
Here are a few photos from past Live For It All Marathon Training Programs
Abby Malmstrom M.S., a.k.a. The Trainer In Your Back Pocket, is an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wellness coach, and "real food" nutritionist. Her life as an active duty military spouse takes her all over the world, allowing her to influence, teach, and connect with folks in communities she never even dreamed of reaching. Life's an adventure, so join Abby for the ride! It's time to "Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well, Be Well."