18663 Ventura Blvd, Suite 202, Tarzana CA 91356

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Farmers Market Lunch

Sweet potato, whole wheat pita with black bean hummus and garlic hummus, and a salad with Korean tempeh.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Morning Run Misadventures

I woke up early to get in a run, thinking it would be about 4 or 5 miles, mostly flat.

Just after 5:30 am, I headed out the door, with my Garmin GPS on my wrist and my IPod on my arm.  I felt slow, but that was okay -- it was my first run in about a week as I was resting from a shin splint injury -- but I felt good.  I ran up the hill to the Hollywood Reservoir to run the flat, scenic roads around the reservoir.  Unfortunately, the gate was locked, possibly due to the rain, or possibly because the sun was not up yet.

I turned around and ran back down the hill, not sure where I would go.  I ended up taking a few twists and turns up and down some small hills, then ended up on the main street.  I felt energized -- instead of my short loop up and down the hill, I 'd do my longer loop.

But, I had never done my longer loop backwards, which is what I would be attempting to do.  It was still dark out, and I was just over two miles into my run.  I started up one of the canyon hills, on the sidewalk, when I tripped on a piece of uneven sidewalk, scraped one of my knees and both of my hands.  I rested for a moment, hoping I didn't tear my favorite running pants, got up and continued up the hill on the road instead of the sidewalk.

Running uphill felt good.  And I kept going, and going, and missed my turnoff.  I realized that I was not where I should be when I looked down on what I thought would be the canyon and saw a beautiful sunrise over downtown Los Angeles.

I kept running, now five miles in.  I didn't know exactly where I was, but if I kept running in the direction that I was running, I would eventually hit a street that I knew.  And I did. 

But then I took another wrong turn, which led me to Mullholland Highway, which I had never knew how to get to.  Somehow, I managed to trip AGAIN!  I scraped both my knees and hands and hit my left shoulder.  This one hurt even more than the first fall.  Now, keep in mind, I maybe trip on a run once a year, and now I've tripped twice in a single run! 

As I get up, my knees are sore and blood is dripping from both hands.  But I keep going -- I have to get home so that I can get to work in a reasonable amount of time, and somehow in spite of the pain I still feel good!  I don't know quite where I'm running, but I find another road that I've never run on, with a sign that reads "Scenic Road 1/4 mile".  I looked down, and wow, what an amazing view across the canyon!  And just above me is the Hollywood sign.  It was just amazing.

Nonetheless, it was a wrong turn, and after I again figured out where I was, my bloodied and bruised self was home.  Instead of my flat 4-5 mile run, I had run nearly eight miles of hills!

As it was far later than I had anticipated, I very rapidly showered, rinsed off my bloodied palms and kneecaps, and headed to work as quickly as possible.

I still feel great -- a good long run, and some new sights to see!
Image from

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sports Nutrition

Just because I'm the VeganHeartDoc doesn't mean I have it all figured out when it comes to my own nutrition.

I'm not perfect in my own eating habits, but I think I do better than most.  I get my fruits and veggies. I eat whole grains instead of refined grains.  I don't eat a lot of junk, and though that big chocolate chip cookie from Follow Your Heart after lunch was delicious, it certainly wasn't necessary.  I'm also not perfect with portion control either, and I do love to snack throughout the day.

I've been thinking hard about my own nutrition and what changes I need to make.  Perhaps part of it is the extra five pounds of padding that I've acquired in the off-season.  But, more importantly, I'm about to take on the most daunting physical challenge that I've ever encountered:  The Ironman.  2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of bicycling, and 26.2 miles of running, all in the same day.  My training weeks will consist of anywhere between 10 and 18 hours of cardiovascular exercise in a week.

I've recently talked to a nutritionist, and I've discussed nutrition with my new personal trainer.  The consensus is that I need more protein in my diet.  Now, the average person needs no more than ten percent of their calories from protein, and when left to my own devices, that's about how much protein I consume.  But, as an endurance athlete, my requirements are higher so that I don't catabolize too much muscle.  From what I've read, I need about 1.3 to 1.5 grams per kilogram body weight of protein per day, which for me is about 90-100 grams of protein per day.

I've been thinking of ways to get that protein -- veggie chili, soy yogurt, Chicken-Free Chicken, Luna bars, tofu, Kashi Go Lean (which is my favorite cereal already), and protein smoothies.

My personal trainer did bring up a good point -- I would benefit from a rapidly digestable protein.  Whey protein is digested rapidly, but as a vegan, I do not consume dairy.  I am looking into a good source of rapidly digestable vegan protein.  So far, I have come up empty.  If anyone has thoughts on this, feel free to share!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Back to Training

I like having a goal.  And I like structure.  And competition.

That's why I'm a triathlete.

I've enjoyed the past three months of working out for the sake of working out, with no schedule and no coach to report to.  But, I'm ready to start training again.  I'm even ready to start swimming again.

Ironman Lake Placid training starts February 1.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Southern California Half Marathon

It is still my off-season, but I've been keeping up with my running, staying at 20-30 miles per week, much of it hills because I'm really beginning to love running in my neighborhood.

A friend wanted to do a half marathon this weekend, and I agreed to join her.

The weather today was perfect for a race -- at the 8 am start time, it was in the low 60's, and warmed up slightly during the race.

As I haven't been specifically training for a half marathon, I hadn't thought too much about pacing myself.  I have wanted to run a half marathon in under two hours.  Toward that goal, I decided that I should aim for 9:00-9:15 per mile, and if I felt good at the halfway mark to pick up the pace.

The start was crowded.  With thousands of us lined up, and no indication of where walkers, slower runners, and faster runners should start within the crowd, the first mile was crowded.  I probably spent too much time and energy dashing between people.  My first mile was 9:09. 

I had a little bit of an ache in my left ankle, which I've ignored this week thinking it was a big nothing, but during the race, it did nothing more than just ache.  I was more bothered by a blister in my left arch.  After the race, that was a different story, as I sit here typing with a bag of frozen corn on my right ankle.

Back to the race:  The course was on major roads and along canal paths, and it was mostly flat.  I had consistent mile splits, averaging about 9:10 per mile, so by mile seven, as I high-fived a guy announcing the race and wandering the course with a microphone, I decided to pick up the pace a bit, and the last half was done at an average pace of 9:00 per mile.

There were lots of enthusiastic volunteers on the course directing us, which I loved!  But, the fluid stations were horribly understaffed.  I couldn't get anything to drink at several stations because there weren't enough volunteers, the volunteers were not spread out and were too clustered together, leading to too much crowding to effectively grab fluids.  One station had only one volunteer with Powerade and about a dozen other volunteers holding water.  Another station ran out of Powerade by the time I got there; that shouldn't have been the case -- I was definitely in the faster half of runners so there was no reason to run out.  I think that the race could have done well with fewer volunteers with direction signs and more volunteers at the aid stations.

I wasn't sure that going sub-2 hours for the race was doable, since my training has been pretty free-form -- I run when I want and as far as I want.  But, when I hit the ten-mile marker and saw that my time was 1:30, I realized I could do it.  As long as I kept sub-10 minute miles, I knew I could do it.

So, I pushed the last few miles, and coming around the corner to the finish line, I knew I had it.  My finishing time was 1:58:58, my best half marathon time by four minutes.  24 out of 126 women in my age group.  202 out of over 1700 women.  896 out of over 3800 runners.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Think about the foods you crave.  What are they?  Pizza?  Nachos?  Candy?  Or maybe fruit?  Salad?


I was thinking about this while talking to one of my patients today.  She is someone who has made some major changes -- she now follows a low-fat, mostly vegetarian diet.  She also now exercises regularly.  Her cholesterol numbers, as a result, look fabulous -- her total cholesterol dropped from 239 to 139, and her LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol) plummeted from 168 to 71.

She tells me that she feels better eating lighter, and she doesn't crave a lot of the heavier foods that she used to eat.  She was surprised to find herself craving healthier items.

I can understand that from my own experience.  While I once craved fast food, I now crave things like apples, strawberries, carrots with hummus, oatmeal, and even salad.  Granted, I still enjoy a little bit of chocolate or ice cream occasionally.  But those aren't regular staples of my diet.

If you are thinking about making changes to your diet, keep this in mind:  As you make positive changes to your diet, you will feel good, and your body will crave the healthy foods that make you feel good.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Pumpkin Pudding

So I'll be honest -- the only reason I have a can of pumpkin in my kitchen cabinet is because I was afraid I might mess up the pumpkin pie that I made for Thanksgiving.  I came up with this recipe, and I'm proud of the results.

One can of pumpkin, 15 oz
Silken tofu, seven ounces
Agaven nectar, three tablespoons
One half teaspoon of nutmeg
One half teaspoon of allspice

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until well mixed and smooth.  Refrigerate in individual dishes.

Makes four servings.

Nutritional information per serving:
120 calories
1.5 grams of fat
5 grams of protein

Dinner for my parents

In honor of my parents' visit to Southern California, I cooked for them:

Squash, carrots, and sweet onion stir-fried in a tiny amount of oil and teriyaki sauce.
Whole wheat pasta spirals
Mashed cauliflower, mixed with a little soy milk and pepper.
Field Roast -- a great source of protein, but high in sodium.  If you want a low-sodium option, grill some tofu steaks.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Staying Fit on Vacation

I just returned from a relaxing trip to the Bahamas.

A lot of people see vacation as a time to throw caution to the wind, become sedentary, and eat obscene quantities of food.  I see things differently.

To me, vacation is a time to unwind.  But, because exercise makes me feel good, I keep it up.  I tone down my routine, but I still exercise in some way on most days of a vacation. 

I do a lot of running on a vacation.  I find that running is a great way to explore the local sights.  Another favorite workout is running barefoot on wet sand.  I go barefoot, and I run along the beach just where the waves touch the sand.  It's a little more challenging than running on trails and works different muscles.

I found another triathlete physician, and he put me through the paces of his own workout.  It was fun for me, because I always love a challenge.  We did intervals of ten minutes alternating on the bike and on the treadmill, and did a total of six intervals, followed by a brief swim (yes, me, voluntarily swimming in the off-season) in the ocean.

On vacation, the bottom line to exercising is to keep it fun.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

2009 was a good year.

Professionally, I joined Valley Cardiovascular Specialists and moved into my office in West Hills.  I've been fortunate to work with wonderful people, including Ashley, my receptionist, and Keely, my medical assistant.  I have had the opportunity to get to know and take care of some terrific patients.

Athletically, it was a challenging year, and yet one of great accomplishments.  I DNF'ed a marathon and came back to complete a marathon two weeks later to prove I could do it.  I learned what it was like to be a cardiac patient with my arrhythmia and ablation.  I completed two half Ironman-distance triathlons, one of which was a personal record for me, and the other is considred the second-hardest triathlon course in North America.  I even learned to not take myself so seriously by running a marathon in costume.

My most proud athletic accomplishment of this year: taking forty-five minutes off of my marathon time from 2008, getting down to 4 hours and 12 minutes for a marathon.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming year of challenges, of meeting and caring for new patients.  I'm excited to finally be able to call myself an Ironman (or Ironwoman, which is it?) once I complete Ironman Lake Placid in July.

Happy New Year... and may your 2010 be filled with health and accomplishment!