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Holiday Eating Survival, Oh My!

An advertisement for a holiday eating nutrition seminar recently came across my desk.  It read, Holiday Eating Survival: Worried about holiday overeating? Dreading the physical exhaustion and food remorse that seems to flow from party to party? 

A few key words jumped off the page and punched me right in the gut.

“survival”, “worry”, “dread”,” exhaustion”, and finally “remorse”

As an advocate for food as the wingman in living a wildly active lifestyle, I wondered how prevalent it was to see the word “survival” associated with holiday eating; and so I asked the Google machine. It spat out 19,600,000 hits containing the language “Holiday Eating Survival”. Where is the Holiday Eating Enjoyment Guide? Not a one.

When did holiday eating become something you must “survive”?  You survive a desert for days with no food or water, being lost at sea, or living on the streets. Survival seems like an awfully strong word for something that brings you together with family, friends, or a cozy experience.

For me, the purpose of holiday gatherings, meals and treats are to bring people together and connect over our need to eat. The food is hardly the main event. Yet, we let the food become the focal point so much so that it becomes a point of stress for both the eaters and the cooks. It becomes a point of contentious angst instead of connection. I have seen it happen many times.

It is intensely personal when someone invites you into their home and cooks for you. Heading into it as if you are preparing for battle.  Your hosts are sharing a piece of themselves. Ok, so maybe Grandma thinks you are too skinny and wants to fatten you up, or maybe your Aunt Lucy refuses to acknowledge your vegetarianism. Of course, proceed with caution into these environments and bring something to contribute to the meal that you know you can eat.  Just as I tell my kids:

  • Be kind
  • Be gracious
  • Say “no thank you” with a smile

Don’t forget how to eat with purpose!

Give yourself room to be human by continuing to eat with purpose and set an intention with each eating occasion. Recognize why you are eating this food and determine how much of it you need to meet that intention. That level of awareness is a gamechanger to eating. It takes away the angst and the need to “survive” the occasion by putting you in services of whatever intention you decide it. Maybe it is to satisfy hunger or nutrient needs. It very well could be “just for the of the taste of it” and that is a-ok so long as you are aware of it.

Here are a few more tips for embracing a healthy holiday season!

  • Move it – Like the postal person – rain, shine, sleet, or snow – get out for some type-two fun the elements can offer. 
  • Be selective – Not all holiday treats are that good, really, so skip some.
  • Take in the scene! Pause before you devour every bite on your plate and enjoy the conversation, the table setting, or just good people watching.
  • Don’t go hungry! Eat your regular healthy meals and snacks so the hunger monster doesn’t take over at the buffet.
  • Eat breakfast! This relates to “not going hungry”. Skipping meals saves neither time nor calories at the end of the day.

If you are ready to eat more purposefully in 2020 and want a guide to get you started, download my free guide here. If you are interested in personalizing the guide to meet your unique needs, check out the different ways I can help you do that here.

Some Day IS Now

Being a present and available parent for my kids drives my ambitions and choice to live and work on my own terms. December tenth is a special day, a milestone day in my journey with my husband as a parent. It is a day that I hold close. Some day is today.

Thirteen years ago my Mom sat by my side in the hospital. We were sitting next to the incubator. Actually it is called an isolate. Incubators are for chickens, not people. This very special bed held my very special son, Eric, at a weight of one pound fourteen ounces. ( He now weighs ninety pounds and would be so embarrassed that I wrote this.) Those who knew us then, know this story well. I went into labor on Labor Day and two days later, after loads of magnesium and other drugs, the doctors couldn’t stop the contractions, I was nine centimeters dilated, and Eric was born at twenty–six weeks and two days gestation instead of the full-term forty weeks. I was teeth-chatteringly frightened. I mean, I was just starting to get comfortable with pregnancy and now he was here! Up to this point, I thought the scariest thing would be having the baby be born while still being undecided on his name. Little did we know. So little and, we still didn’t have a name.

A wonderful teenager now, I asked him if he knew what today was. “No, what is it?” he asked. “It is the day you came home from the hospital after you were born,” I said. “Wait. What? How is that even possible? My birthday is in September!” He knows he was born early however, many parts of his story are incomprehensible. In fact, they are incomprehensible to most anyone who hasn’t been pregnant and imagined what giving birth three months early means.

I remember staring through the glass of his isolate that first week in the Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) to see his eyes open for the very first time ever. Most babies are in utero when their eyes open for the first time. Despite my fear and anxiety, I was still able to recognize I was witnessing a miracle.

As my mom and I sat next to Eric in the hospital she said that someday I would tell Eric the story of how he was born. I couldn’t hear it. Just as I couldn’t look at happy families with full-term babies or even former preemies grown up. I was so overwhelmed with the present that any visions of the future were incomprehensible to me. Thinking of someday was more vulnerability and uncertainty than I could take. I remember a dream I had during that time. Dreams are sometimes so vivid it is like watching a TV show in your sleep. The show was going on and then suddenly everything went dark. I woke-up startled and anxious. Too much unknown. The present was all I could do.

The present consisted of pumping breast milk six to seven times a day and scheduling pumping around my arrival and often forced departure from the hospital. My world was small and I liked it that way. It was all I could handle. Exposure to the outside world had too many germs and too many people taking me out of the present. I let the hospital serve as the boundary between where I needed to be and everything else.

Now thirteen-years-old, he has no understanding of the impact of his birth on me, his Dad, and all those who surrounded us with support back then. This is how it should be. The experience set us on a course of growth through the struggles that was difficult but not without gratitude for where it has brought us as people in our family of four today.

Watching Eric play basketball and hang out doing wonderfully normal teenager things makes those early traumatic months feel like another lifetime. As anxious as my Mom made me by saying someday I would tell him the story of his birth, she was right. Here we are. I am now telling him the story of how he was born. We look at pictures and he asks where his baby book is with photos of him out of the hosptial. I show him the binder where I tracked his weight in grams every day for three months, it was something I could do and grams felt bigger. I review with him the names of the nurses, doctors, pulmonologists, and all the angles that cared for him and me to an extent. His brother is curious and asks questions too. I show them the teeny-tiny clothes that were too big for Eric and the little diaper too. Eric someday is today and this is the story of how you were born. You are more strong, capable, resilient, and eager than you even know.

I have adapted this blog from the one we began when Eric was born. I include those stories here because this is also part of my story and why I am moved to write, run, and own a business on my terms.

Tara Dell Tells Vol. 8

Are Juice Plus products worth the cash?

In a word, no. This product claims to pack the nutrition of fruits and vegetables into a powder. That comparison will never add up. I have done the math trying to equalize CPG innovations to the benefits of whole foods. Fresh and whole-foods like actual apples, berries, and spinach win every time. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a dependable spend. I often hear people complain about the cost of fruits and vegetables. They, however, are a far more dependable investment over Juice Plus. Instead of buying Juice Plus invest in whatever it takes for you to eat three fruits and four or more vegetables each day. Maybe it means buying a blender and a stock of frozen spinach, mango, and pineapple to make really nutrient-dense smoothies! I have been on a roll with smoothies lately which can be a delivery system for all sorts of nutritious ingredients like flaxseed meal, maca root, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

Trying to limit exposure to pesticide residue as much as possible? Juice Plus fruit and veggie ingredients are not organic. How much pesticide residue is on the finished product? This is a call for someone to test it!

Plenty of other smart people have looked with a critical eye Juice Plus, and I agree with their points especially the one about it hurting your bank account. You can read some of those reviews:

Science-based Medicine Abby Langer, RDN Review SCIMoms

Must Watch

To lighten the mood away from pseudoscience-backed health claims. Let me introduce to the production company who nails athletic adventure stereotypes. Their videos are my go-to for comic relief! While food nourishes the body, laughter feeds the soul! Do you know how to be a skier? Watch this “How to be….” video to make sure you get it right.

Recovery Smoothie Combos

I made these with the Sugar Bowl Ski Academy Nordic ski team after conditioning class

Article: In case you missed it: Is flaxseed a good source of omega-3 fatty acids?

Travel Nutrition for Athletes

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I am in yet another humbling new world as both a parent and dietitian. My son is on a basketball team that travels a lot. He came home the other night telling me he ate the “worst meal he has ever had.” It was chicken nuggets and French fries from a fast-food restaurant that shall unnamed. I was relieved this was his reaction.

There are some “fast-food places” that we will eat in a pinch. They offer fresh ingredients, vegetables, and sometimes organic and sustainable ingredients. Then there are the fast-food places we don’t ever eat it because they are not actually serving real food. That was where he ended up eating.

He then began to complain of his stomach not feeling good and then a few hours later he threw up. “It must have been that food,” he said.

Despite the fact that both his brother and I had JUST gotten over the stomach flu, I agreed with him. “Must have been that food or, eat least it contributed a little”, I nodded.

We have since talked about how to make the best possible choices in places where food options are limited and, we pack a large cooler-style lunch box full of options.

I have also been working closely with Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy to help them navigate food challenges while traveling. Here are some of the things to consider as a traveling athlete. If you have any suggestions please add them in the comment section below!

Eating with Purpose “on the Road “

Eating with purpose is about remembering to pause before you eat, decide what the intention of this eating occasion is, and make a choice. Having a nutrition routine at home that supports your healthy, active lifestyle with a solid foundation you can lean on when your routine becomes variable and more unpredictable with travel.

Aiming to eat healthily and in line with your purpose eighty percent of the is a good rule of thumb. The other twenty percent is for being human about food. Being intentional with your food choices means leaving room to eat food just for the taste or celebration of it and, leaves room for exploration when traveling!

Nutrition Tips for General Travel

  • Don’t skip meals: Eat something about every three hours.
  • Bring Back-up Food:  Be prepared with portable healthy snacks for each day of travel in case a meal becomes further out than expected.
  • Strive to Include Fruits & Vegetables: These can be the most difficult healthy foods to come by when traveling. Bring fruit and veggies with you that travel well (apples, oranges, grapes)
  • Pack Portable Protein: Cooked chick breast doesn’t travel well. Think jerky, nuts, seeds, protein bar, Tetrapak milk/soy protein shakes
  • Stay Hydrated: Bring your refillable water bottle with you everywhere (pro tip: make sure it is empty before airline security!!

Road Trip Specific Nutrition Tips: Travel with fixings for rest stop meals

  • Bring a Cooler: Load it with yogurts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, tempeh, lunch meats, berries, carrots, cucumbers, leafy greens, hummus
  • Pack a Pantry: Whole grain bread, rice cakes, peanut/almond/sunflower seed butters/, oatmeal packets, dehydrated soup mixes, canned tuna or salmon, sardines, bananas, whole grain crackers, sweet potatoes
  • Bring a JetBoil: This is a cooking system design for camping but can be useful for boil water, making soups, cooking noodles, or steaming vegetables on the road

*Motion sickness? Try sea bands, peppermint, ginger !

Airline Travel

  • Look for a sandwich, sushi, burrito, veggie salad or bowl options for purchase to bring on the plane
  • Check coffee shops for bento boxes (of veggies, protein, fruit, grain options), Greek yogurt, fruit parfaits, or oatmeal
  • Refill water bottle at water fountain/filling station once past security
  • Keep snacks and water accessible under the seat in front of you
  • Eat high protein snacks such as almonds
  • Eat small and often over the course of the flight 

When You Arrive at Your Destination

  • Scout out a grocery store or market to stock up on healthy snacks and simple things to have in your hotel room or rental house
  • Explore local favorites
  • Try something new after your race day
  • Eat according to the time of day where you are not according to your body clock
  • Hydrate, limit caffeine and sugary drinks

Please contribute things that have worked for you! Personally I never travel with anything less than three organic apples, a bag of almonds, an energy bar, and my refillable water bottle!

Tara Dell Tells Vol. 7

As a junior in high school, I won every single cross-country race I competed in followed by an epic track season that got me sports scholarship offers to places like Brown University and the Naval Academy. Being a Montana girl, I accepted a scholarship to Montana State University and signed on as a Bobcat.

Little did I know, the path I was on as a competitive athlete was not sustainable. I was winning races based on the idea that I had to be thin to compete. During my freshman year of high school, I was a promising runner who gained the freshman fifteen, lost it, and got faster, fast enough to win. I also lost my period and my boobs. I believed this to be a good thing. I ran low on energy, didn’t eat enough protein to repair, and depleted nutrients in the bloodstream like iron, calcium, and B12. This was common among competitive runners and remains so today.

If you are a man or woman and a coach don’t be afraid to give words to this function of the female body necessary to produce life and health! Learn to talk out loud with your athletes and kids openly about the impact the menstrual cycle has training and racing and, the health implications associated with not having periods (known as Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (REDS) syndrome).

I trained with the guys and I perceived these two milestones of female development (periods and boobs) as slowing me down. After all, the guys I ran with didn’t have to deal with this inconvenience.

After the weight loss, I learned how to keep proper growth and development at bay so I could be a “runner.” Another little known fact was that I also wrapped my chest in ace bandage wrap to keep the boobs from slowing me down. At such a young age, it is impossible to see that what you are doing to your body to run is actually bad for the “long game.”

When I went to college, the idea of being thin to be fast was perpetuated by our male coach doing body fat measurements. I had nine percent body fat and was told: “this is a little high for a female athlete”. My poor eating behaviors centered around eating too few calories to train and compete and eventually I ran myself into the ground.

This is the story of so many female runners who don’t realize they are playing the “short game” that will keep them from both good health and from running just for the love of it. My story is far from unique in the female running world. Yet, it is not talked about. Our college coach did send the entire team to a dietitian after one of our teammates ended up in eating disorder treatment for severe anorexia. The belief that thin equals fit is so pervasive, it wasn’t until adulthood that I was actually able to retrain myself to do what I coached so many athletes to do – eat in a way that makes you feel your best doing what you love. For me, that has always been running.

Today in my work with young athletes the goal is a mindset to feeding and nourishing their superpowers versus leaning up and deprivation.

Today’s share is of strong and talented women speaking up and out about theses issues common to so many female athletes. If you are a man with a daughter, sister, mother, girlfriend or wife, read and watch! There is more to the women in your life than meets the eye.

Opinion

I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike

Mary Cain’s male coaches were convinced she had to get “thinner, and thinner, and thinner.” Then her body started breaking down.

Is flaxseed a good source of omega-3 fatty acids?

A first glance at the nutrition profile of flaxseed and you might be like, “hell yeah this stuff is awesome!” Even if it isn’t as deserving of that “hell yeah” as looks appear, it is pretty dense in nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (more on these good guys in a minute).

One tablespoon contains the following:

Protein2 grams
Fiber2 grams
Magnesium27 mg
Potassium57 mg
Zinc.304 mg
Manganese.174 mg
Thiamin.115 mg
Niacin.216 mg
Lutein & Zeaxanthin (phyto-nutrients)45.6 micrograms
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA -omega-3)2.4 grams

Being a good source of protein, fiber, and plant-based beneficial compounds like phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, flaxseed packs in a good amount of nutrients in a tablespoon. Have you ever tried to eat a tablespoon of flaxseed? It is pretty dense with seeds. Mix into oatmeal, smoothies, salad dressings, soups so all those sounds don’t end up in your mouth in one spoonful. Trust me, you will enjoy the experience more.

Appearances also show it to contains the omega- 3 fatty acid found in plant foods, ALA. The thing about the ALA form of our friend omega-3 is that the body MUST convert it into the form of omega-3 that it actually uses which, are the other two you have probably heard of:

  • EPA – eicosapentaenoic acid  
  • DHA – docosahexaenoic acid

EPA and DHA can be synthesized in the body from ALA, however, very little is converted (3-15%) to EPA and DHA. Conversion rates of ALA to EPA and DHA vary greatly depending on gender, genetics, and intake of omega-6 fatty acids. Gender, for example, was shown to favor young women with greater conversion rates than young men. Why? Hormones! This is thought to be due to the presence of estrogen. Genes can also impact conversion rates. Certain gene variants (are associated with lower production of the enzymes necessary to convert ALA to EPA and DHA.

Overall, flaxseed alone can not be counted on to provide the essential fatty acids of EPA and DHA through the conversion ALA.

EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fats that have anti-inflammatory properties and are understood to reduce the risk of heart disease. This makes them more than just good fats! It makes them incredibly-good-for-you-fats. EPA and DHA can be consumed in their ready-to-use form for the body in fish, sardines, anchovies, fortified foods, and supplements. The American Heart Association recommends eating two to three servings of fatty fish per week. Omega-3 fatty acids also work in neurological and brain development of infants and growing kids.

Aside from fish, Omega-3s are lacking in our food supply. Milk fortified with a meaningful amount of Omega-3 provides another option that is easily integrated into the menu for both adults and kids. 

Daily consumption of fish is a tough sell to my kids although, sardines on crackers have become our new favorite snack when backpacking together. If your kids are turning their noses up to fish in any form, fortified milk offers another good option to supplements. 

When purchasing milk fortified with Omega-3 it is important to consider the source – which you will find on the ingredient label. Algae is a non-animal source of DHA that the body can put to use, and is commonly used in milk because it doesn’t have a fishy taste. The amount added to the milk is also worth noting. The Institute of Medicine recommends between one and one and a half grams per day (1-1.5 grams) to avoid deficiency. More is probably recommended for optimal prevention as an anti-inflammatory but, research is still emerging on what that level would be. While there is no specific recommended intake for DHA  in the United States, international experts agree that 200-250mg of each are good benchmarks for now.

So, 40 mg of DHA in milk would provide you with about as much as you would get in about 2.5oz of sardines which is about 20% of the DHA level recommended by the European Union health agency.

The bottom line is flaxseed can contribute a variety of nutrients to your diet and some ALA that can then be converted (estimates are around 3-15% is converted). Just don’t count on it as your only source of omega-3 fatty acids or you will likely fall short.

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Tara Dell Tells Vol. 6

“What should I eat?” I get this question all the time! Of course, it is because helping people answer that question is part of my profession. I find the question easiest to answer with a quote from Michael Pollan.

“Eat food, mostly plants, not too much”

It’s not that I can’t write you a menu of exactly what to eat every time you need to feed yourself. I can but the question is would you follow it? Maybe? Probably not. Maybe for a few days or even weeks but then what? You need to be able to make food choices that support your purpose. Why? Because that is how you adopt purposefully healthy eating as a lifestyle. This way instead of it being something you just do, it becomes something that just is.

So this week I provide you meal planning tools I use often to help athletes, myself and my family with fresh, new, healthy, and fun ideas that go beyond 4oz grilled chicken (no skin), steamed broccoli, 1 cup for rice!

Meal Lime App

This handy dandy app for your phone is full of simple recipes that are quick to make. They don’t even brag about being quick to make, they just are. You can save your favorites and it creates a grocery list that you can check off as you go through the grocery store! My son loves being in charge of the list, telling me what is next and checking it off so I don’t have to keep looking at the phone!

Run Fast Eat Slow

This is the cookbook that will have sticky pages and water drops because you will be using it so much! It is beautiful with great pics of what you are making and so simply. Get it now. I don’t know why I waited so long. I guess maybe because I find cooking from cookbook recipes tedious but this so isn’t tedious.

Meal Planning Guide

This is a tool created by yours truly. I have adapted it over the years to suit based on the needs of the many athletes I have had the opportunity to work with.

This year I did some summit nutrition planning for mountaineers heading up Everest. There response to how well they stuck to the plan? “It was hard. Everything felt bad. My body hurt. I had no appetite and we got our masks off just long enough for the photo. Fueling up there is hard.”

Check out this short film of the first-ever ski descent of Lhotse by a Truckee local and Telluride local.

In case you missed it Intentional and Active Lifestyle with Kids

Intentionally Designed, Active Lifestyle with Kids

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of leading workshops at festival focused on intentional living for the outdoor-minded called Outwild. The founders and the people in attendance are simply the best! Jeremy Jensen, Sanni Mccandless, and Courtney Sanford have followed their passions and are at the forefront of a movement focused on living by design rather than unknowingly falling into constructs created by society. I could go on but this post is about one of the topics I lead, living an active and intentional lifestyle with kids.

As a Mom who refuses to accept fitness and adventuring outdoors peaks after having kids, this is a topic I am extremely familiar with. Having kids doesn’t make intentional living less possible. In fact, despite the added complexity, it makes it even more important.  I have found that being active with my kids outdoors brings us closer together and makes us happier people. Yet, it can be a struggle to get out there especially when daily routines are built around being moved around by cars indoors.

My workshop attracted a broad range of people, some parents and some not with different levels of experience around intentionally active lifestyles with kids. Some said, ” It isn’t that hard. Just pack up a bunch of snacks and water bottles then hit the trail.” While others struggled with WHEN to fit it in, logistics, and prioritizing their own outdoor time without feeling selfish.

Couples with no children attended wondering how having kids would impact their ability to get outside and be active. Then there was Alex Honold, climber and Free Solo star, who thought he was attending a nutrition workshop. In the spirit of Outwild, he stayed and participated much to Sanni’s amusement. Haha!

The challenges and fears were similars across the group. Everyone wanted to involve kids in an active lifestyle without losing what they loved (climbing, hiking, gardening, trail running, skiing, surfing etc.) and be able to support the whole operation.

My approach to intentional and active living is much like my approach to trialing a new food in the market place or a fueling approach for an athlete.

PURPOSE | PRINCIPLES | PREFERENCES |PLAN

When advising a food company on the nutrition profile of a new product, I start by asking them what purpose this food serves in the lives of their audience. Then we consider principles that support how to make it happen based on audience and market preferences. After that, we outline the plan.

Then it is time to move into action. Iterating, prototyping, and problem-solving. No matter what happens we are active in the right direction and it is all training for something.

The purpose of living an intentional active lifestyle is based on values. I value fitness, outdoors, learning, and exploring. Principles of well-being support my husband and my preference for being active with our kids and on our own. So we create a plan for living that intentionally prioritizes outdoor activity.

My  approach to involving my kids has always been “it is all training for something!” A short walk around the block or backpacking trip – add kids and instant adventure and workout. Expect to carry the extra weight (literally) and walk the extra mile with it.

Running and skiing have remained none negotiables in our family. Those who don’t value those activities would advise us to “wait until the kids are older”. That just didn’t compute with our values. What did we do instead of wait? Three important things:

  1. Reset expectations of what a run or ski day both with and without kids looked like
  2. Became flexible with plan A, B, and maybe even C and always the option to abort the objective
  3. Adapted as we all grew with our ultimate adaption being to move closer to the activities we loved doing in the mountains.

Carrying 4-year-old Noah on my back in full ski gear up a mountain to the magic carpet only to be yelled at (appropriately) by the twenty-something lift operator for ducking a rope to take the shortcut was absolutely training. Running while pushing jogging stroller loaded with a kid, push-bike, and snacks down the black-topped path to see if I could maintain pace between snack, water, and bike breaks, was also training.

It is the endurance and resilience of parenting that has trained me for ultra-running and adventures like that before kids I would have been too apprehensive to say YES. In fact, I didn’t pick up trail-running and racing again until after having kids! I am running faster, further, and have more fun than I was running in my twenties!


Think about……..What do you want for you and your family right now? Are you there already? Not there right now? Why? What is holding you back? Are those things self-limiting or actual things? Write down it all down and reflect on it.


Society today is moving fast and structured to keep us churning and burning at both ends. It can be easy to miss dismiss signs that it is time to adapt. 

Recognizing signs it is time to adapt is kind of like heading off meltdowns before they happen. There are signals that show up when we need to adapt to avoid family meltdowns. I tried to push past signals until I could no longer shoulder the weight of the giant snowball I was pushing up a mountain alone.


My husband lost his job. Our marriage was suffering. The kids’ school was closing, and I was at a personal tipping point in my career. These were signals that told us it was time to act


“Dear Sir or Madam, Tara has permission to leave this amazing job that has launched her into who she is today and move to the mountains with her family. Thank you”


Give yourself permission to do the thing. Recognize signals it is time to adapt. Walk next to fear. Mitigate risk with preparation.


Common fears we all have are time, money, our own judgment or judgment of others. It is easy to rationalize these fears and problems that hold us back from doing what it is we actually know we should do for our family. The real problem is that it is easy to get stuck in what we think we must do instead of what we feel is most important for us and our families.

One of the main tenants of Outwild is acknowledging that fear exists and choosing to move forward anyway. Fear is a normal response to something that scares us. Adapting can be scary but it isn’t the saber tooth tiger. Acknowledge the fear and in the theme of Outwild, walk patiently beside it.

With Alex in our parenting workshop, we took a closer look at his approach to fear. “If there is a high level of risk you should be feeling fear. It’s a warning that there is real danger. Typically if I’m feeling a lot of fear, then I wait and prepare more, do whatever it takes to mitigate that, and then do the climb when I feel comfortable.”

Recognizing the signals allows us to prepare and mitigate risk to reduce fears (not eliminate). It is unnecessary and unwise to make one big leap into the pool of risk and uncertainty. Preparation is key.

Define what it is you want, how you will involve your kids and prepare to adapt by assessing the situation.

Adapting doesn’t have to involve a list a mile long to determine readiness. It depends on how BIG you are going! Are you adapting from camping out in the back yard to backpacking? Or, do you live on a giant hill and your kids are now able to ride bikes and you want to move to mitigate risk?

Most things come down to intuition, timing and developmental stage of you as a parent and your child as a kid. Eventually, you have to just do it or you will get stuck in expending too much mental energy and harboring resentments.

Be resolute in your purpose, principles(values), preferences, and plan because you will face judgment and criticism that will challenge who you are and what life you want for your family. You will have self-doubt and question your own sanity at times with questions like, “ Should I bring a newborn with me to the crag? Sail for 3 three months with a 4-year-old and two -year -old?” Reset, be flexible, and do what feels right.

Do I need a protein supplement?

The answer is probably not. Healthy people who eat a variety of foods likely eat plenty of protein. All the protein the body needs can come from food like chicken, beef, beans, eggs, lentils, seeds, nuts, shrimp….I could go on. The point is protein is abundant in the food supply whether you eat animal foods or not.

Supplements like protein powders and bars can be convenient when aiming to sustain a level of protein in the body throughout the day and in timing protein around work, workouts, and sleep. A scoop of whey protein can be a nice addition to a fruit and veggie smoothie too.

A common mistake many people make is not spreading those protein foods out throughout the day. They skimp out on protein at breakfast, lunch, and snacks and backfill with a big portion of protein at dinner. Daily protein intake should be incorporated into a meal pattern that distributes moderate amounts of high-quality protein (20-30 g/meal) across the day and following intense activity sessions.

Each protein is made up of single elements (amino acids) joined together, forming a chain. Amino acids are the “bricks” that allow the construction of new muscle tissue and repair old tissues; they are also the building blocks necessary to build other molecules such as hormones and enzymes, which are very important for a well-functioning body. SO don’t leave your body “wanting” for protein all day. Spread it out!

One major pet peeve of mine is when people tell me protein makes them feel “energized”. The way they ate may have been lighter and they may indeed feel like they have energy but in reality, proteins are not a source of energy. Only 10% of the energy expended during very long physical activity comes from protein and that is only if carbohydrate intake is inadequate

Another thing to note is that eating more protein than your body needs will not give you bigger and stronger muscles. Protein demands are higher for those who practice sports, compared to resting people, because they help repair and grow muscles after a workout but for the most part there is never a need to eat more than 1 gram per pound of body weight.

Following strength training activity, muscle protein breaks down, followed by an increase in muscle protein re- synthesis. Consuming high-quality protein post-activity can speed up and enhance this process, resulting in the growth of skeletal muscle.

Active individuals have higher protein needs than those that are sedentary. Protein helps repair and strengthen muscle tissue, so it is particularly important for individuals involved in both endurance and strength activities. Recommendations for protein intake for active individuals range from 1.2-2.0 g/ kg (0.5 to 0.9 g/lb) of body weight per day. 

Protein in Popular Foods

FoodGrams of Protein
6 oz. canned tuna40
4 oz. chicken breast35
3 oz. salmon23
8 oz. yogurt12
4 oz. tofu10
8 oz. milk10
1 cup beans7
1 oz. nuts6
1 egg6

Eat onward my friends and while you are at it, check out the film Game Changers. I joined my friend Scott Jurek on a portion of his Appalachian Trail quest featured in this film about athletes accomplishing amazing feats without eating animals!

Tara Dell Tells Tuesday Vol. 5


ARTICLE: To Pay Extra for Organic Food or Not…..that is the question we addressed in an article for Training and Conditioning magazine

Ultimately the answer to this question is dependent on a person’s values. While I truly believe that foods grown organically have greater potential for higher nutrient content, it doesn’t always work out that way. The primary reason to chose organic and/or local food sources is because it has less pesticide residue. If there are also more nutrients, well that is just gravy on top! I co-authored an article for an audience that I was super psyched to see interested in the information. You can check it out here at Training and Conditioning magazine


Must Listen to Podcast: The Adventureprenur’s Playbook

I have been listening to the Adventurepreneur Playbook Podcast since episode #1. Jeremy Jensen began publishing his podcast about the time I had the idea to “go pro”. He interviews big-name and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, professional athletes, and outside the box thinkers – who have built their passions for adventure, travel, and the outdoors into successful startups, lifestyles, or personal brands. To me going pro is having the courage to take your skills+experience+passion seriously enough to level-up your game an amplify your impact by being who you really are. This podcast shares stories from people who do just that. Listen, learn, and then act!


New Product Find: Birota Foods

Longtime sports dietitian colleague is in the food business with functional creamer and cocoa that intend to bring a little extra focus to your medium of choice. I have adding the creamer to my morning coffee for months now. My ‘n of one’ seems to say the primary functional ingredient ( a medium-chain triglyceride called caprylic acid) is doing what it claims to do, providing an alternative, fast-acting energy source to the brain. Their ingredients are straight-up premium too! Give it a try and let them know I sent you!