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WELCOME TO MY WRITING HOME

Last year I took a scary and risky leap in my career. I quit my day job and launched into working for myself under Summit Nutrition Strategy. Summit Nutrition Strategy is my consulting business where I work with outdoor businesses and organization to invigorate active lifestyles with turn-key nutrition programs that drive positive change in the food system and individuals health.

It has been a process so far in both discovering what works and where my unique skills as both a strategic marketer and dietitian nutritionist have the most impact. And like so many things, learning, growing, and adapting has been the welcomed process. I should say mostly welcomed because at times the process leads me to a black hole of self-doubt. Recovering from a head injury didn’t do much to move the process along this past year, but, it did force me to slow down some of my reckless enthusiasm and focus on what I could do.

I have worked on wonderful projects to date and reconnected with former colleagues while also meeting tons of amazing new people doing good work that I enjoy supporting through my special skill set. Through the work I have done so far have discovered what and who lights me up. Humans are amazing. So many want to improve and do something better by putting good food and knowledge out into the world. Those are the people for me. As my favorite quote by Jack Kerouac says “……because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

My work has to draw me in for more than money. While I have a family to support and money is needed, it isn’t what drives me to do my work. It is rather the people and impact that draws me from the trails, snow-filled peaks, and river walks to sit down and get’er done. My time outside informs my good work for certain but, at some point, I must sit and write. Writing also pulls me inward. Whether I am writing about my own projects our writing reports, articles, and insights to share with a new client, it is writing that I love.

It isn’t just writing for myself that lights me up, although that is how I sort things out. It is the opportunity to share insights, knowledge, and stories that resonate with others that keeps me wanting to write more.

So if you have visited this blog in the last year, you will notice a change BACK to what it was before I went into business for myself, a home for sharing insights, knowledge, and stories. It is nothing more than that. I have shifted my consulting business to its rightful own home at Summit Nutrition Strategy. Like everything, it is a work in progress. So, if you visit it today it will provide you with a general idea of how we might be able to write stories of business and athletism together.

Until then, welcome to the home of Tara Dell Tells where I will share stories about food, family, and my personal human-powered adventures.

Caroline Gleich: Everest Nutrition Plan

Right now, I sit here at my desk. Before I got here I fed the kids breakfast, took the dog out, fed the dog, made lunches and snacks for the kids, and got the kids off to school. Then I finally sat down at my desk to write when I read my sticky-note reminder taped to my screen. “Drink water!!!” Why do have I note to myself to drink water? Because in my daily juggle of priorities and meeting the needs of others, I need constant reminders to meet my own basic physiological needs.  Breath, eat, and drink.

At this very same moment, that is exactly what I hope Caroline Gleich, ski mountaineer, and activist is doing while on Everest expedition. Anticipation, excitement, and altitude can certainly be a distraction when it comes to remembering basic needs. It is my hope that the summit nutrition plan I put together of her is now serving as her “sticky note” reminder. She has begun her Everest expedition with fiance Rob Lea and the team from Alpenglow Expeditions.

You see, whatever our passion, be it mountain climbing the world’s tallest peaks or sitting down at our desks to write a novel, we juggle a lot just getting there. In a frenzy of nerves, excitement, hard work, and overwhelm it can be easy to overlook the basic physiological needs that sustain our ability to keep moving on towards the summit.

That is why I reached out to Caroline and created her personalized summit nutrition plan. After interviewing several mountaineers it had become clear to me that good food, water, and coffee was in abundance at base camps to support expeditions. Eating well is part of the experience and food for refueling and recovering is understood.  

Consuming fuel during the moving time, however, has its challenges and is not top always top of mind when climbers expend most the energy breathing and focusing that next step. Yet, if mountaineers knew what their fueling needs actually were ahead of time and what impact under-fueling the activity may be having on them (not enough calories to reach summit!), would they be more inclined to create a plan for what the will eat, when they will eat it, and how they will carry it when in route? While Caroline might not meet her two-hundred calories per hour goal we set, my theory is she will eat more than she did in her previous expeditions simply because she is more aware of the calorie demands.

In conversation with the crew at Alpenglow Expeditions, I learned that there are four camps and moving time between those camps is variable with conditions but, could be between four and eight hour days. Climbers also carry packs that range between fifteen and thirty pounds. These are factors I considered when determining the specific energy demands put on Caroline as she would begin her ascent each day.

Here is an estimation of Caroline’s calorie needs:

DAILY CALORIE ESTIMATION

Hours of
Moving Time
No Pack15 Pound Pack (5% more calories)30 Pound Pack (22% more calories)
Rest Day2400 calories
4 Hours 4000 calories4200 calories4880 calories
6 Hours 5370 calories5700 calories6550 calories
8 Hours 5600 calories6000 calories7000 calories

CALORIE ESTIMATE DURING HOURS OF CLIMBING

Hours MovingCalorie Goal During Moving Time
4
800 calories (4 sleeves of BLOKS or 8  GELS
41200 calories (6 sleeves of BLOKS) Swap out a bar or nut butter packets for one sleeve of BLOKS for variety)
81600 calories (8 of BLOKS) Swap out a bar or nut butter packets for one sleeve of BLOKS

Much like ultra-runners, tour de France riders, and other multi-day athletic challenges, it is nearly impossible to meet the caloric energy demands put on the body. Caroline’s nutrition object for Everest is to minimize the calorie deficit by consuming meals at camp and approximately two-hundred calories per hour of climbing. It isn’t realistic to expect her to be able to consume enough to meet her needs. Like all things, it important to look at what can be done and go from there.

To sustain her energy during the days of climbing I recommended approximately two hundred calories per hour from mixed macronutrients:

Knowing what is needed to sustain energy is only half the challenge. The other half of the fueling challenge, especially at very high altitude, is juggling the three basic physiological priorities for sustaining movement:

  • Oxygen
  • Fuel
  • Fluid

In an Everest climb, oxygen masks are worn above the twenty-three thousand feet. These means to eat and drink the oxygen mask needs to be removed. It isn’t uncommon to take the oxygen mask off for several minutes at a time but, it is one more barrier to surpass when making the decision to drink and eat. It is altogether too easy for the climber to skip fueling opting for less hassle, more breath, and continued moving forward. In the long climb, however, the benefits of eating small and often may outweigh any fuss over the oxygen mask.

In addition to eating and drinking with an oxygen mask, there are other challenges too:

  • Decreased appetite (decreased desire to eat)
  • Increased resting metabolic rate (increased calorie need)
  • Calories difficult to carry and cumbersome to acquire while on the move

To help her juggling shifting nutrient and oxygen priorities I offered these suggestions:

Caroline’s Everest Fueling Considerations:

  1. Estimate what you will be comfortably able to consume based on your previous experiences.
  2. Try sucking on the energy chews or biting them in half and tucking them between your gum to help keep the brain alert and energy metabolism stimulated.
  1. If  moving time ends up being longer than the eight-hour scenario, your daily calorie demand could be as high as 10,000 calories
  2. Eat well at camp to keep your muscle energy (glycogen) topped off while also feeling comfortable.
  3. Eating a variety of foods at the camp meals and snacks will help meet the energy demands of your day.
  4. Subtract your 200 calories per hour of climbing from the daily total to see your ballpark camp caloric need.
  5. Drink fluids containing carbohydrate at camp. Starting your days hydrated is preferred over starting behind on fluids because you didn’t drink enough at camp.
  6. If 200 calories per hour becomes impossible, consuming even one BLOK per hour is better than nothing. While the body can use some stored fat for fuel, it can not do that without a stoke of the fire (so to speak) from ingested carbohydrates.  
  7. If possible, carry calories in your fluid (versus relying on just plain water) is an efficient way to get both calories and hydration at the same time. Carrying stick packs and mixing it with melted snow along the climb might be a consideration.
  8. While carbohydrates remains the body’s preferred fuel source as well as the most oxygen efficient fuel source, you will want to also mix in some fuel from fat as well. Nut butter packs can come in really handy here and energy bars that won’t freeze.

This expedition is about more than just getting to the top of Mount Everest. It is also The Climb for Equality. Did you know only 11% of summiteers over 8000m are women? The Climb for Equality advocates for more women in leadership roles and more woman on mountain adventures. As women, juggling priorities is new not knew to us. In fact, it is what motherhood trains us to do. Hilary Nelson, ski mountaineer and mother of two boys, confessed what I have also experienced,  adventuring in the mountains is easier than parenting and motherhood.

That fact is actually what sent me literally running to mountain ridge lines I previously thought were unattainable for me. We juggle a lot as parents and twelve years in parenting, I still need the same reminders Everest climbers need to make sure I have what it takes to sustain myself through the journey. Slow down, eat, breath, and drink.

Go, Caroline! Follow her summit here

Debunking the Diet

A few years ago I had the distinct pleasure of living my childhood fantasy. As a kid, I dreamt about being on a film set, having the director holler “CUUT” and then have the take-counter (you know, the one with the chalkboard and black and white arm that makes the clicking noise) click before me. To film a series of short clips took about twenty hours.

Not only did I get the scene-counter experience, I also got to debunk some of the DUMBEST dieting myths I had ever heard under the brilliant direction of a Funny or Die director. I also got to work with a far more practiced and completely supportive , Erin Gibson, brillant author of Feminasty and is the cohost of pod-cast Throwing Shade.

All of it was and experience for the books! My mantra before delivering any kind of nutrition decree has since been “Friendly teacher me”. That was what the director kept telling me. Stick to the script (that I wrote), don’t improv, and “friendly teacher me”! Good direction. Wish I remembered her name.

Nobody Should Go Hungry

Lebanese children fed by the WFP

Last year I did a little to help people of the world buy food they needed to feed their family. I can’t do a lot. My mantra however, is always “I can
always do something.
I chose to support through the ShareTheMeal app.
Donations not only give someone food, but also provide the hope. Hope
is powerful. It can change the mind. If the mind can be changed for
positive thoughts, lives can be changed.

 
The ShareTheMeal app is a product of The World Food Programme
(WFP), the world’s leading humanitarian agency dedicated to solving
global hunger. From providing school meals to hungry children, to
feeding victims of natural disasters and conflict, WFP makes a tangible
difference in the lives of more than 90 million people each year. Consider
helping WFP do whatever it takes to feed hungry people in need.

Writing with Abandon

Perfection is the enemy of good, right? I hear this phrase a lot. My first belief about this statement is, ” I am not a perfectionist. I mean, look at how many typos and grammatical errors I publish!”

Then, I look at my saved drafts. I have hundreds of drafts filled with ideas I want to share on my website or at that very least, archive for my future reflection. These drafts are waiting for further attention to ensure they are suitable for publication on my blog. Then it occurred to me, are these drafts waiting to meet my perception of perfection?

I don’t concern myself with typos. Some day I will employee an editor focused on making sure I look like I studied grammar in school. What I do concern myself with is whether or not I have clearly articulated the idea I am trying to share, which has become a bit of an elusive task since suffering a concussion a few months ago.

Do my words reflect the feeling generated by the idea, memory, or lesson? What is the point of this piece? What if it is too weird that it has nothing to do with nutrition? Who will care to read? Will the people who care to read find this relevant or interesting? The list of questions I impose about others’ perceptions stop me in my tracks, stop me from publishing ideas, memories, reflections, or lessons.

So, for the next thirty days I am imposing a new challenge for myself. The thirty-day challenge was inspired by an experience that I have yet to write about at Outwild.CO

I am going to post something, anything, everyday for the next thirty days. I am not going to wait for my thoughts to be clear to share them, so watch out! I am going to splay them out here for the world to see. Why? Because working from a place of vulnerability is where I grow the most.  Working from this place, gives me the chance to show up and be my best into the world. When I hold on too long to the things I want to write about I can’t think clearly and become congested with thoughts about writing. I am not waiting until January or for Monday.  I am starting this count “write now” (the subject line my dearest sexy grammarian uses for her newsletters). Write today. Write with abandon.

Writing a New Chapter

This picture was taken July 27,2018. It was the last time I shut down my computer in the office of what had been my dream job for eighteen years.

Shutting Down this Chapter

Working at CLIF Bar as the lead nutritionist was living my dream. It opened my eyes to opportunities, growth, and community. I could nerd out on nutrition strategy AND run at work with an extended family of friends and adventurers. Those friendships will long outlast my butt in a seat at Clif Bar & Company’s office. After eighteen years, it was time for change.

It is no secret that running is a major priority in my life. When I can’t run I am thinking about when I can run or, what else I can do to get outside and play in the dirt. When I interviewed at CLIF in the year 2000 I was told three things that left me with no doubts that this was the place for me. They saw it too because I did beat out ninety other applicants.

Those three things were:

  1. You can take time out of your work day to run or do another workout
  2. The office is closed between Christmas and New Year as additional paid time off to reset before the New Year.
  3. Every seven years you earn a sabbatical.

Prior to working at CLIF my biggest worry was, ” When can I fit in time to run?” ( know this was before kids, mortgage, etc) That worry relieved freed me to do my best work for years.

I enjoyed not one but, two sabbaticals that gave me time to devote to family, running, and writing. I ran my first 50k, explored with my family, and spent more time outside. Called to write, I also signed on with the Sexy Grammarian, Kristy, who I am still working with four years later!

Returning to an office after the second sabbatical was a struggle. Two older kids and a marriage, accountabilities at home were mounting and time at work was maximized in meetings or at my desk. The stress about “when I would run” snuck back in. What really overwhelmed me now however, was “when would I get to run on dirt or in the mountains?”  CLIF has amazing office spaces and even more amazing culture. The “BUT” here was that time in the outdoors was more a priority than ever before for both me and my family.

I began asking the questions, “Could I work in a different way? Could I work in away that prioritized what I needed to produce my best work?” My then boss asked me a very important question. She said, “Tara, what do you want to do?” Her question was work related but, I chose to answer this more holistically.  What do I want and what impact do I want to have overall and, not just within the walls of an office? How I chose to answer these questions lead me down a path of self-reflection and deep personal work I hadn’t done before with some surprising or not so surprising answers revealed. I want:

  • More outdoor adventures
  • More emotional availability for my kids
  • Daily interaction with outdoorists
  • More impact on people with big outdoor goals
  • More writing
  • More running

Lot’s of “mores” on this list that didn’t correlate with how I was currently working or living.

Today, I am working under a new model that is about integrating work with life more holistically. It required setting priorities that aligned with the impact I want to have and how I need to spend my time. It is exciting, scary, and a lot of work based on values of adventure and well-being. Everything I do is done through this lens so I can show up.

My inspiration has been the numerous professional athletes I have worked with over the years. Their ability to do their sport depends on their well-being. Talk to any outdoor athlete and it is easy to see how they intentionally design a lifestyle to support their value of athleticism and outdoors. Guess what? It isn’t necessary to be a pro athlete to do this. It is necessary to be intentional with a lifestyle.

Three years later brought me to the point in this photo where I could close down this laptop and hand it over with both melancholy for memories and relief. Leaving a good job was difficult. It was a process inclusive of  grief, anger, recovery, resolve, and determination. Now I can begin writing a new chapter.

*The majority of this post was voice recorded from the trail. Please disregard typos.

Ed Anacker Bridger Ridge Run is On My Mind

A few years ago I had the chance take part in the making of a short film about the community that gathers every year in the Bridger mountians outside of Bozeman, MT to run the four peaks. This race is one that calls you back. The beauty of Montana the and runner comradiere is hard to deny which, is why I am joining in again. Being from Montana, a MSU grad, and an ultra runner, this race and it’s people are in my DNA.

Check out this flick I was part of during my second sabbatical (earned after 14 years of leading nutrition strategy for Clif Bar & Company). I would like to dedicate this years run to someone or something. Any ideas?