New Balanced Sponsored NCAA All American Maggie Vessey Shares What Makes Her Run

Episode 103

Video Transcript

Jackie Keller: Welcome to Food Exposed where each week we look at the
story behind what’s on your plate. I’m your host, Jackie Keller, and
today we’re talking about sports. You know, over the past 26 years
heading Los Angeles leading healthy company NutriFit, I’ve had the
privilege of working with professional athletes, both men and women,
in all kinds of sports. Athletes like Ryan Miller, the ice hockey
player; Brian Goodell, the Olympic swimmer; horse racing jockey Aaron
Gryder; boxing heavyweight former champion Fernando Vargas; baseball
star Kevin Tolan; and Olympic speed skater Michael Hubbs. Each of
their needs has varied greatly as their sports do. It’s a complicated
situation, and everybody’s needs are slightly different. So, today I’d
like to talk about some of the leading tips that sports nutritionists
like Nancy Clark tell us that are really the key to how to train
effectively and fuel yourself for sports.

One of Nancy’s first tips is to make sure that you have a carbohydrate
rich breakfast, adequate protein, adequate carbohydrates, enough to
fuel your sport. She also suggests that you keep your pre- and post-
workout snacks wholesome and balanced. Athletes generally need
carbohydrates at each meal, but you also have to make sure you get
enough rest and enough sleep – which is oftentimes a problem. Spread
your calories throughout the day. Make sure that all food groups are
adequately represented in each of your meals. And, drink water
constantly. Hydration is a major issue with all of us but particularly
for professional athletes who lose so much water through evaporative
sweat. Following these guidelines will help you get the most out of
your workout and speed you towards your performance goals. My guest
today is Maggie Vessey. Maggie is a NCAA all time All American runner.
She’s competed twice in the world championships, winning the women’s
800 meter event in a time of under two minutes – 1 minute 57 seconds
for 800 meters. She is one of the fastest women in the world quite
literally and is sponsored by Team New Balance. She’s ranked among the
top 20 fastest women in the world and among the top 5 fastest United
States runners. Maggie, welcome to Food Exposed.

Maggie Vessey: Thank you so much for having me.

Jackie Keller: Well, thank you so much for joining me. I know everybody
is so curious about understanding basically what makes Maggie run.
Tell us about it.

Maggie Vessey: Well, I’ve always been very naturally athletic. It was
obvious from a very young age that that was one of the gifts that I
had been given. I tried many different sports. I tried Little League
and soccer. Just the underlying factor in all of those was that I was
a really fast runner. So, while I wasn’t necessarily like the best
with ball handling skills in soccer or the best at hitting a baseball
in baseball…

Jackie Keller: I’m sure you’re probably downplaying those skills, too.

Maggie Vessey: Well, I could get to the ball faster than anybody, or if I
got on base I could steal bases. But, you know, the key skills that
you need to have in those sports were not very… I wasn’t naturally
inclined to those. So, my mom had me go out for track and field. I
wasn’t really interested in it at first, which is kind of funny
because now I do it professionally. But, I just started winning races
and I really liked winning. So, I kept up with it.

Jackie Keller: Well, I guess… Now, how many years have you been running

Maggie Vessey: I’ve been running professionally since about 2009.

Jackie Keller: Okay, okay. I’m curious, because I know there’s a lot of
myth about whether exercise makes you hungrier or less hungry. Are you
hungrier after you train?

Maggie Vessey: I would say definitely I do feel hunger pangs after
training. Some of the sessions are particularly grueling. I think one
of the most important things is to not let yourself get hungry,
though. I feel like anybody in my family or any of my peers would tell
you that if I get hungry it’s a little bit nasty. I think while I do
feel like I’m hungrier after training, one of the most important
things to do is to immediately start recovering all the things that
you’ve depleted during a session. That’s one of the things that I try
to focus on.

Jackie Keller: Do you find that Nancy Clark’s tips, the ones about pre-
and post-snacks and the ones about maintaining your calories
throughout the day, have helped you at all?

Maggie Vessey: Definitely. You know, before I work out… I would never
go into work out without putting something in my stomach first. I
always have a really hard time with the thought of your body eating
itself, that idea of, like, inner cannibalism. So, I always try to
have something with a little bit of carb, a little bit of protein, and
definitely I’m hydrating before I go into work out. There’s something
with athletes that’s important. It’s timing. I would never have
something like that and then wait, like, five minutes and then go out,
because it might end up on the track again in a different form. I just
try to give myself maybe 45 minutes before I start training.
Definitely afterwards you’ve depleted so much energy stored, depending
on the climate that you’re in… I did a lot of training in Texas, and
at that point we’d actually salt our water and things like that.

Jackie Keller: Wow.

Maggie Vessey: Because you sweat so much.

Jackie Keller: Wow.

Maggie Vessey: You do have to be really in tune with what you’re asking
your body to do and then replacing it with the necessary ingredients

Jackie Keller: Do you have to watch your weight?

Maggie Vessey: Unfortunately.

Jackie Keller: Do you have to be careful? Is it hard to maintain your
weight even with all that energy expenditure?

Maggie Vessey: I think one of the hardest things to face was it’s not
just all about exercising. I’m somebody that definitely would like to
have it just all be about exercising, then I can eat whatever I want.
But, I definitely came to the realization that you actually can
control your weight a lot more through diet than you can with

Jackie Keller: Sure.

Maggie Vessey: If you had to choose…

Jackie Keller: That’s so very true.

Maggie Vessey: …between one you would probably… I mean you want your
body to be very balanced and harmonious, and you want to exercise and
be mindful of your diet. But, if it came down to it and you had to
make a choice in weight control I think it would be diet first.

Jackie Keller: Okay.

Maggie Vessey: So, yeah, I definitely have to worry about that.

Jackie Keller: But what about when you’re not training? What do you like
to eat when you’re not training? Do you just go out and splurge? Do
you have fun? Do you toss down a glass of wine or two?

Maggie Vessey: Right. I definitely will allow myself some of those no-no
foods that I think we’re all very familiar with. I am particularly
partial to pizza.

Jackie Keller: Oh my.

Maggie Vessey: But, I think one of the things that you start learning
about your body is that even eating those unhealthy foods, while they
might taste good, the way that you feel afterwards it’s not really
worth it. I might after a season allow myself some of those no-no
foods, but then it’s pretty apparent quite quickly that I just don’t
like the way that it makes me feel.

Jackie Keller: Okay. So, you end up sort of self-regulating as a result.

Maggie Vessey: Right. But I will, I mean I definitely am a girl that
likes a glass of red wine every now and again. It’s just with
anything, moderation.

Jackie Keller: Right.

Maggie Vessey: Keeping yourself in check.

Jackie Keller: Right, right. What tips do you have for people? You’re a
professional athlete. You’ve kind of won the battle essentially. I
mean you’re still out there winning every race. But, you’ve won the
battle of trying to find that balance for yourself and trying to find
harmony between exercise and eating. What tips do you have for people
like me who are trying to lean out, maintain their weight, but still
maintain muscle mass?

Maggie Vessey: Right. I think you kind of have to play a little part with
science and then a little part with just how you are in your life. I’m
somebody who… If you have this at your availability to be able to go
do some blood testing and just kind of see where your body is at, see
what’s going on in there, and see if any needs are addressed…
Because sometimes if you are having trouble fighting a little bit of a
weight issue it can be something that’s going on with your body that’s
not facilitating that. I think knowing what’s going on in your body
first is really important. Then, after that I just think striking a
balance is very important. You’re not going to do anything that you
don’t like doing. You’re not going to want it. For a while you might
be able to get away with eating things that you don’t like if you’re
seeing results in your body. But, if you’re not liking the way that
you’re feeling I think you’re probably going to stop doing that.

So, my advice would be just to listen to your body and definitely have
a very vegetable rich diet. That’s something that I’ve incorporated
into mine. You definitely see just your body taking on like a
healthier cycle in things. It definitely helps you lose weight as
well, just being in tune with yourself and allowing yourself to be
happy and healthy. I think that once you start seeing results and
feeling better you’re going to be naturally inclined…

Jackie Keller: Right.

Maggie Vessey: To keep up with it.

Jackie Keller: Yeah, success breeds success, right.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: Well, I know that post-recovery meals are extremely
important in an athlete’s diet, and making sure that you refuel
quickly after you’ve had a training session with the proper nutrition
so that, as you say, your body doesn’t eat itself, you’re not
cannibalizing all that lean muscle tissue that you’re building, is
extremely important. I thought today we might share one I know was one
of your favorite meals when you were with us as a client, the pasta
with turkey meatballs.

Maggie Vessey: I do love that one.

Jackie Keller: All right, let’s go make it.

Maggie Vessey: All right.

Jackie Keller: You know, today we’re making one of my favorite post-
recovery meals. It’s actually one of my favorite meals of all time.

Maggie Vessey: It’s a good one.

Jackie Keller: Who doesn’t love pasta, right?

Maggie Vessey: I couldn’t find anybody that didn’t like it.

Jackie Keller: There are so many varieties of pasta out there. For those
of you who are trying to follow a gluten free diet right now or
looking for alternatives to wheat, please know that this recipe is
quick. It’s easy. It can be made with virtually any type of pasta.
But, instead of going into the meat realm with respect to ground beef,
what we’re using today is ground turkey. Because it’s a leaner meat,
it has less cholesterol, less fat naturally – although you have to
watch the level of fat even in your ground turkey.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: Because there are fattier ones than others. What I really
like best about it is that it’s simple and quick. I know from our work

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: That getting food in quickly that is easy to digest, not
heavy, not hard on the stomach, not hard on the body, is really
important, right?

Maggie Vessey: Very important.

Jackie Keller: So, I thought we would show people sort of the key
ingredients of what’s in this pasta with turkey meatballs dish. First
of all, 100% whole wheat pasta; again, you could use rice pasta. You
could use something made from corn. It doesn’t have to be wheat. If
you’re looking for gluten free pasta there are shelves and shelves of
them now that you can find. But, today we’re doing a whole wheat
pasta. We’re using a homemade marinara sauce. You can buy marinara
sauces. There are dozens of them out on the market. But, make sure if
you’re buying something that you haven’t made yourself that it’s low
in sodium. Because although you mentioned sodium being an issue for
athletes because of your sweat loss…

Maggie Vessey: Right, depending on where you’re training.

Jackie Keller: Right. You still have to be mindful of not having too
much, I would guess.

Maggie Vessey: Right, right.

Jackie Keller: Yeah, because too much salt, you hold in your water.

Maggie Vessey: The water retention.

Jackie Keller: That must be hard on an athlete not to be able to sweat
and pour it off.

Maggie Vessey: Right. It’s all such a delicate balance.

Jackie Keller: It is. Well, I’ve made the meatballs ahead of time.

Maggie Vessey: Tasty.

Jackie Keller: You can make these ahead of time just like I did and
freeze them beautifully so that if, for example, you had a mind to
have barbecued meatballs instead of marinara meatballs you could do
that. Or, you could have meatballs with any kind of sauce that you had
a fancy for – sweet and sour, barbecue, there’s all kinds of ways you
can do that. Let’s heat up this pasta with turkey meatball dish. A
little bit of extra virgin olive oil into the skillet. Then, we’ll put
in our meatballs and let them get brown. Step back, because we don’t
want to… There we go. Again, the beauty of having pre-made the
meatballs is that if you get back from a run or a training session…

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: And you really just want to get some protein and good
quality carbs into your system… And, I think the rule is within
about two hours…

Maggie Vessey: A half an hour I would say.

Jackie Keller: A half an hour.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: Yeah. So, you want to have the stuff ready to go.

Maggie Vessey: You really do.

Jackie Keller: Then, add some of your sauce. In this case we’re doing
this marinara which is just a lovely…

Maggie Vessey: Yum.

Jackie Keller: …low sodium marinara. And, I even pre-cooked my pasta. I
like to do this ahead of time, because when I get home I’m not
training like you.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: But, I don’t want to wait for the water to boil.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: I mean isn’t that the most frustrating thing?

Maggie Vessey: Right. Then, you find yourself eating between when you’re
going to eat just to stave off some hunger. That’s really smart.

Jackie Keller: So, if we pre-cook the pasta and then wash it really well
the starch on the outside of the pasta is washed off and the pasta can
sit in a food safe container in your refrigerator for a day or two.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: Do you ever snack on pasta at all?

Maggie Vessey: I don’t usually. I have tried to do vegetables and fruit.

Jackie Keller: Good girl.

Maggie Vessey: If it was around handy I probably would eat some of it

Jackie Keller: Yeah. Then, we’re just going to heat this up. Literally,
that’s all it takes. I mean if you have some fresh basil to put in
there that would be great and add a little bit more flavor to it.
These meatballs were made with one of my salt- and sugar-free spices,
one of the blends that I’ve designed that help make food taste tasty
without adding salt, without adding sugar, without adding any fillers.
It does give a lot of flavor. Just like that. Now, obviously, what’s
missing here?

Maggie Vessey: Garlic?

Jackie Keller: The vegetable.

Maggie Vessey: Oh. I cook with so much garlic.

Jackie Keller: You know, garlic is great for you, too.

Maggie Vessey: It really is. I kind of overdo it, though. You can overdo

Jackie Keller: And what happens when you overdo it?

Maggie Vessey: You get a little bit of a funky tummy…

Jackie Keller: Yeah, yeah.

Maggie Vessey: But I really like it.

Jackie Keller: You know what cures that funky tummy?

Maggie Vessey: What? Please tell me.

Jackie Keller: Something else that would make this dish green, which I
don’t have here today. But, I would add a lot of parsley to your…

Maggie Vessey: Oh, I have a lot of parsley.

Jackie Keller: …very garlicky things.

Maggie Vessey: Okay.

Jackie Keller: Because parsley is not only great for your breath, which
is a natural breath freshener…

Maggie Vessey: Oh, good, that’ll fight my garlic breath.

Jackie Keller: Which is always good to know. Yeah, it will. Really,
truly, I mean after a heavy garlic meal just eat a plate of parsley.

Maggie Vessey: Okay.

Jackie Keller: The other reason is that it is a good digestive aid.

Maggie Vessey: Oh, perfect.

Jackie Keller: You could easily kind of kill two birds with one stone –
take care of the garlic breath, take care of the funky tummy.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: And, still have your garlic and enjoy it, too. It is

Maggie Vessey: But you are going to add a vegetable in there.

Jackie Keller: Yeah. You would want to add a vegetable in here. You’d
want to have some broccoli maybe. Or, what are some of your favorites,

Maggie Vessey: Some of my favorite vegetables… I always do bell
peppers, a ton of bell peppers. I really like asparagus. I really like
broccoli. Broccoli, I think, would probably go best with this, though.

Jackie Keller: Right, right.

Maggie Vessey: Yeah, definitely.

Jackie Keller: And the bell peppers, too.

Maggie Vessey: Right.

Jackie Keller: A lot of Italian dishes have bell peppers.

Maggie Vessey: I’d probably throw some cayenne flakes in there, too. I
like a little spicy.

Jackie Keller: Yeah, hot and spicy.

Maggie Vessey: I know.

Jackie Keller: She’s fast, hot, and spicy. Okay, guys, that’s it. All
right, are you ready to taste? Do you remember?

Maggie Vessey: Yes, I am so ready.

Jackie Keller: When was the last time you trained?

Maggie Vessey: I trained this morning.

Jackie Keller: This morning, all right. I knew that.

Maggie Vessey: This morning, right.

Jackie Keller: I knew that answer. And, you probably had already a little
post-recovery meal.

Maggie Vessey: Of course I did.

Jackie Keller: Good girl, good girl. Well, there you go, Maggie.

Maggie Vessey: Thank you so much. All right.

Jackie Keller: Right.

Maggie Vessey: Let’s get some meatball.

Jackie Keller: Just a little meatball and…

Maggie Vessey: A little bit of pasta.

Jackie Keller: A tiny bit of pasta. I know you’re careful.

Maggie Vessey: How hot is this going to be?

Jackie Keller: Good?

Maggie Vessey: It’s so good.

Jackie Keller: Oh, good, good.

Maggie Vessey: It’s so good. Thank you.

Jackie Keller: You’re welcome, and thank you so much for coming today.

Maggie Vessey: Thank you so much for having me.

Jackie Keller: You know, I know everybody wants to know when is your next

Maggie Vessey: Okay.

Jackie Keller: And how can they find you.

Maggie Vessey: My next race is February 1 in North Carolina. And, I have
a website, I also can be found at
And, of course, I am participating in all of the social media outlets.
You can follow me #maggievessey, maggievessey on Instagram, all that
good stuff.

Jackie Keller: Great. Well, thank you again for being with us. It’s been
a delight.

Maggie Vessey: Thank you.

Jackie Keller: Good luck at your next race.

Maggie Vessey: Thank you so much.

Jackie Keller: Again, February 1, right?

Maggie Vessey: February 1, coming up.

Jackie Keller: All right. We’ll be watching you run.

Maggie Vessey: Thank you.

Jackie Keller: And, I couldn’t be more delighted to have had you with me

Maggie Vessey: I am really happy that I could be here. Thank you for
having me.

Jackie Keller: I have a little story to share with you here to conclude
our show today. It’s an old parable which I still find very relevant,
and I think you will, too. It goes something like this. One evening an
old Cherokee was speaking to his grandson about the battle that goes
on inside of people. He talked about an evil wolf and a good wolf.
They both live inside us. The evil wolf is filled with anger, filled
with envy, filled with jealousy, filled with sorrow, filled with
resentment, with lies, with false pride, with superiority and ego. The
other wolf, the good wolf, is filled with humility, with love, with
peace, with joy, with benevolence, with kindness, with truth,
compassion, and faith. As the grandfather was speaking to the grandson
the little boy sat back and he absorbed it. He said to his grandfather
well, grandfather, which wolf wins the battle. The old Cherokee looked
at his grandson, smiled, and said very simply the wolf that wins is
the wolf that you feed.

The moral of the story, of course, is to be sure to feed the
positivity in your life. By feeding the good rather than the evil, by
feeding the truth rather than the lies, by feeding the joy rather than
the sorrow, you unleash the possibilities for positivity in your life
and allow more of that to happen. If you don’t feed the evil, it
doesn’t flourish within you. Thanks for coming today. Thanks for
joining me on Food Exposed. I hope you’ll share this with your
friends, with your families, with your associates. And, I hope you’ll
follow me on in next week to and
join me for Food Exposed. For more Food Exposed, check me out on Until next week, remember, make food your best friend
and exercise your companion for life.