The Pomegranate Experiment!

Cut, scoop, soak & strain! Cutting a pomegranate is easy when you know how to do it!

I should have done my research first--this morning I guessed wrong. I sliced my pomegranate in half and then bit into the membrane - YUCK!

Since that bitter mistake, I've learned a bit about pomegranates including:

- How to correctly open one. A chef demonstrates here.
- You eat the little seed-type things inside (arils.) You don't eat the white stuff around the arils...
- At the store, choose a pomegranate by weighing it, not by its color. Pick the heaviest one, it has more juice inside.
- Whole pomegranates can last "up to month on the counter or two months in the fridge." And frozen arils can last for months. I'd been worried that my pomegranate was going to rot. I'd only had it a week!

Recipes from the POM Wonderful web site:
On my list to try:
Grilled Portobello with POM Mustard Vinaigrette & Garden Greens
Crimson POM Jelly & Cream Cheese Sandwiches
POM Banana Freeze
Pan Toasted Brie with a POM Reduction Sauce

I should note, I was motivated to try an actual pomegranate after tasting juice samples from POM Wonderful this fall. They sent me a case of 100% Pomegranate Juice (Thanks!). The bottles are adorable! I tried my first taste after finishing a local tri.

Questions for You:
-What's something new you've recently tried?
- Do you like pomegranates?
- Have you tasted a sample from POM Wonderful? If so, give me the link to your review.

Other POM Reviews:

40,000 lbs of Snow & Ice Cream Cones

Tonight the boys & I headed down to the Memorial Union Terrace for Hoofer's 1st Terrace Rail Jam. Fun!!

The club brought in a bunch of snow, setup a steep scaffolding stage & let things get a little crazy. The UW men's crew team parked alongside the Memorial Union Terrace waiting for the first run. I rowed for UW-Madison in college, so it was fun seeing some eights out on Lake Mendota.

We stopped inside for ice cream cones & settled into a cozy spot within the Rathskeller where I'd made sandwiches & served beer as a working college kid.
Questions for You:
-What winter sports do you love?
- Did you work during college?
- What flavor ice cream cone?
photos by me: the Memorial Union is gorgeous! What a great night with my boys!

GRATEFUL: Gastric Bypass, 5Ks & A Dash of Magic

Triathlete Patricia Miller lost 230 pounds before training for her first triathlon. She had Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass--Roux-en-Y (RGB) surgery May 21, 2007 and reached her goal weight in March 2009. Learn more about Patricia in the first post "From 405 to Finish Line." I met Patricia in's triathlon community where I volunteer as a moderator.

It's easy to describe triathlete Patricia Miller as highly motivated. On the evening of her gastric bypass surgery, this determined school superintendent was up and doing laps around the surgical floor.

"I knew the sooner I got up and about, the better I would feel," she says. She had surgery on a Monday afternoon after a busy high school graduation weekend. She was back from recovery and in her room about 5:30 p.m.

"It was pretty funny when I went to see the surgeon," says Miller. "I asked how long the recovery would be following the surgery. He said I would probably be in the hospital for a day and that I would be out of work for three weeks. I pressed on and said, 'What about highly motivated patients, how long are they out of work?' He responded, 'Three weeks.' I said, 'No, how about those who are REALLY motivated?' The surgeon responded, 'College students are usually back to classes in a week, and you are not a college student.'"

Miller stayed the course. Each time she woke up for pain meds Miller got up and did one or more laps around the surgical floor. She was out of the hospital and on her way home before lunch on Tuesday and went back to work a week later. She lost over 30 pounds in the first month.
While she laughs about her conversation with the surgeon, she takes the surgery and its related consequences seriously.

"I've talked several people OUT of gastric bypass," says Miller. You have to be committed to making serious life-style changes that will last forever, she says. Because the surgery is maladaptive and malabsorptive Miller takes regular vitamins and supplements twice daily and is blood tested twice a year for deficiencies.

"If I eat incorrectly I risk dumping syndrome," says Miller. "This happens when the contents of my stomach leave the stomach too rapidly and then dash through the small intestine. It can cause nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness and sometimes diarrhea after eating." She's generally successful at managing her diet.

Miller's post-surgery diet consisted of liquid or blended food six times a day for three weeks (serving portions of about 1/4 cup.) Protein was, and remains, the first food consumed at a meal. The amount of protein is determined by your surgeon based on height and gender. Miller must have at least 85 grams of protein a day.

"After the initial three weeks, I graduated to soft foods (limited veggies, no carbohydrates), but proteins were always consumed," she says. "At about six months I could add limited complex carbohydrates, but protein remained the first and most important item at each of the six meal times."

Miller's lifetime eating plan excludes:
  • Simple sugars
  • Simple carbohydrates
  • Or items with more than 20% of calories coming from fat, some exceptions are peanut butter and nuts on occasion.
  • Carbonated beverages could cause her smaller stomach to swell and stretch, which over time could cause Miller to overeat.

"Now I eat about 8 ounces at a meal time and fit more veggies, some fruits and whole grains into that meal opportunity," she says. "I still eat six times a day." She says having dumping syndrome is a great reminder that she must eat and drink appropriately every single day of her life.

Miller reached her goal weight in March and has maintained a healthy weight range for the last eight months.

"Overall I've lost 81% of my excess weight and I believe my high level of physical activity is part of the reason I've been able to exceed expectations," Miller says. Most RNY patients lose 50-75% of excess body weight post surgery.

"One of the huge benefits of doing triathlon training is it reminds me every day how far I've come," she says. "Even just a year ago a bike was just something I wanted because it sounded like fun. If you'd told me I would have done five triathlons before Thanksgiving of the next year, and have a sixth coming up in December, I would have been stunned."

"I don't think anyone could have told me I'd be in a place where I could run 2.25 miles without stopping or slowing to walk either, and yet I'm in a place where I think it's possible I may be able to run the full 5K on Thanksgiving Day this year," she says.

"Since I've NEVER been able to run even a mile in my life, this feels like an incredible victory," says Miller. "I realize much of what I'm celebrating isn't anything magical to others who've been athletes, but I've never been able to do this sort of stuff and it's ALL magic and worthy of celebration to me."

Patricia, thanks for letting us celebrate with you! Here's a pre-Thanksgiving Day toast to you! Cheers! I can't wait to hear about your Turkey Day 5K and December triathlon. Enjoy!!

Meet Patricia Miller: From 405 to Finish Line

Questions for You:
- Do you eat correctly 100%?
- How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

photos by: me. I bought beautiful wooden food for our toddler's 2nd birthday. I had to take it away. The little stinker likes to chuck all the food ... it hurts getting nailed by a flying wooden banana.

TRIATHLETE: Meet Patricia Miller - from 405 to Finish Line

I connected with Patricia Miller via where I volunteer as a moderator in the triathlon community. Please join me in congratulating Patricia & in sharing her story.

Many first-time triathletes hope to shed a few pounds while training for their first event. Instead Patricia Miller lost weight first (230 pounds!) and then celebrated that powerful transformation by training for and finishing her first triathlon. In a similar fashion, Miller chose a reverse triathlon (run-bike-swim) rather than a traditional triathlon (swim-bike-run) for her first event.

Even at her peak weight in 2001 (405 pounds) Miller was active, hitting the gym 3-4 times a week and walking 2-3 hours once a week. Walking was slow and steady work. Her first treadmill mile took 55 minutes. But even a slow step is a step towards a healthier lifestyle and Miller was determined to get there.

She asked for a referral to a dietitian and saw limited success with exercise and diet choices over the next four years. In 2007 Miller researched Gastric Bypass surgeons. And with her doctor’s advice, Miller dropped more weight, getting down to a safer 350 pounds by the morning of her surgery (Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass—Roux-en-Y (RGB).

“The risk of death due to complications from any surgery is significant when you are morbidly obese and rise dramatically when you are ‘super obese,’” says Miller. As far as super powers go, Miller jokes that super obese would not be her first choice.

Instead, she wanted to become a super triathlete. She saw marathons and triathlons as high-level athletic events and knew one day she’d like to do a triathlon. “I wanted to be fit and doing a triathlon seemed like the best well-rounded way to demonstrate I was now a fit person,” says Miller.

In February 2009, with her goal weight (175) in sight, she began training. Miller would have about three months to train for the Jay Benson Triathlon May 10 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Training was fun! She loved the varied training mix of swimming, biking and running. But like many new and experienced triathletes, Miller struggled to reserve training time. As a school district superintendent she works 12-14-hour days so weekdays were tight.

As a result Miller stacked most of her workouts on the weekends with some weight training and cardio during the week. She built up her bike stamina from six miles to a peak of 18 miles, averaging about 12 miles an hour. But, with no technical background in swimming, biking or running, Miller felt a bit lost.

“I had no clue how to train, what to focus on, or how to get better,” says Miller. “Basically, I ordered a book from Amazon based on the title, The Slow, Fat Triathlete, and figured anyone with that kind of self-deprecating humor could be a good role-model for me.”

Miller booked help in the pool and tested brick sessions combining the bike and run. An online search for training plans brought her to where she later registered for her first triathlon and then several more triathlons.

Race day arrived and Miller’s can-do attitude carried her through the run, bike and swim (reverse triathlon). As fellow triathletes know, the finish line is an experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first sprint distance triathlon or your first iron-distance race. What matters is what you gave to get to that finish line—what it took to get there.

Many first-time triathletes cry or at least tear up post-race, and Miller let tears of gratefulness fall. She was thankful she was physically able to do a triathlon. “It was an amazing feeling,” she says.

“After I did my first one I went home and told my husband, ‘I’m going on the circuit,’” she says. Miller’s family was supportive, but also surprised she kept going back for more triathlons!
“My husband bought me a new road bike for my 50th birthday and bought me all of the triathlon, swimming and biking books I had on my Amazon wish list,” she says.

In addition to her family Miller had a school district full of support. “I’m the superintendent of a small county-wide school system in New Mexico. Our students are outstanding athletes,” says Miller. “Last year they won four of the five possible state championships for 1A schools: football, volleyball, boys’ basketball, and boys’ and girls’ track. They were such fantastic supporters of my effort. They wanted to pack me some snacks and beverages, but I told them I require specific foods due to weight-loss surgery and that their moral support was sufficient.”

While Miller trains alone she’s spread encouragement across the state. Thanks to Miller’s support, two friends also became triathletes. One friend lives in Las Cruces (350 miles away) and another friend lives in Albuquerque (160 miles away). Miller’s new triathlete trio enjoys getting together at triathlons around the state. And, she hopes her story and example will encourage future “thinking-about-it” triathletes to take the plunge.

“I hope other folks may find this encouraging,” says Miller. “Anyone can do a triathlon. The only thing that limits us is our fear of failing. And right now I would rather try and fail than sit around wishing I had the gumption to give it a shot.”

Nobody will make fun of you for being last, she says. And nobody will make fun of your bike or your swimsuit. Take pictures, she suggests, and remember you don’t have to be first to be a winner.

Currently Miller is working to reduce her 5K time (45 minutes mostly walking). “Recently I went to to find out how to progress from walking my 5Ks to running them,” she says. “I got some training tips and hints and now I can run for 35 minutes without stopping. I am so jazzed that I’ve signed up for a 5K in Florida when I’m visiting my daughter and son-in-law for Thanksgiving. THEY are so jazzed by my excitement that they have signed up too.” Her new 5K goal time is 30 minutes. “I don’t know how realistic that is,” she says, “but I’m trying like crazy.”

And if she finishes last in future triathlons she has great perspective thanks to her husband’s purchase. When Miller finished last in three of her first four triathlons, her clever husband bought her a Frazz t-shirt. In the cartoon a little boy is running beside the main character (a triathlete) and asks, “What do they call the last person to finish a triathlon?” to which the triathlon character responds, “A triathlete.” Buy Jeff Mallet's new Frazz book Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete.

“I love that shirt,” says Miller. And in her last tri, Miller bumped up three spots to 347/350. She keeps a record of all her race times and improves consistently. “That keeps me trying,” she says.

Resources Miller Loves:
My blog (Cool!) & more “I really appreciate the effort you make to keep your blog current and to have nifty and encouraging stories on the site,” says Miller. “I don’t have a coach or a team to train with, so I get lots of encouragement from web sites, magazines, and the books I’ve collected since I decided to do this 10 months ago.” Thanks Patricia!

Other Good Stuff:
- Triathlete Magazine’s Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide: Plans, Scheduling Tips, and Workout Goals for Triathletes of All Levels by Matt Fitzgerald
- Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way To Swim Better, Faster, and Easier by Terry Laughlin & John Delves
- Cycling Past 50 (Ageless Athlete Series), by Joe Friel
- Triathlon 101 - 2nd Edition (Outdoor Adventures), by John Mora
- Going Long: Training for Triathlon's Ultimate Challenge (Ultrafit Multisport Training Series), by Joe Friel & Gordon Byrn
- The Essential Triathlete, by Steven Jonas M.D.
- The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling: Build the Strength, Skills, and Confidence to Ride as Far as You Want, by Edmund Burke, Ed Pavelka & Bicycling Magazine.
- Triathlon Workout Planner, by John Mora

Gear Miller Loves
I love my Shimano clip-on bike shoes and pedals. They make me feel like a machine when I’m on the bike. I also love my bikes. I have a Giant hybrid I use for “dirty tris” and mountain biking and a Specialized WSD road bike.
photo by hotel clerk: Patricia Miller had the hotel clerk take her picture to commemorate her first triathlon. I connected with Patricia Miller via where I volunteer as a moderator in the triathlon community. Please join me in congratulating Patricia & in sharing her story with current and future triathletes.