By Katie Bottini
All my life I’ve participated in sports, from competitive horseback riding, to college lacrosse, to triathlons. Being an athlete has become my identity, something I take great pride in. My passion for competition and for pushing my body to its limits has allowed me to excel at any sport I’ve put my mind to. I’ve even had the honor of representing the USA at the World Triathlon Championships.
Throughout my athletic career, it never once occurred to me that I might take on the identity of “model” as well. But after submitting some (less than professional) shots of myself competing in a triathlon, I found myself signed at Wilhelmina. While professional models are often associated with unhealthy lifestyles and unrealistic figures, fitness modeling embraces the opposite: a healthy, fit figure that is a result of an active lifestyle and nutritious diet. Strength is sexy — a much more realistic goal for young women.
I was never an extremely unhealthy eater, but I gradually realized how much better I felt during workouts when I adopted a healthier diet of whole natural foods and lots of water. (Gone are the days when I would end high school basketball practice with an ice cold Sprite and a slice of pizza, or eat a meal of spaghetti and meatballs and brownies before a game.) As I entered the world of Division I college lacrosse and studied exercise science and nutrition, I became much more aware of how to properly fuel my body for performance. At the same time, it’s important to be okay with eating the things you enjoy, and not create too restrictive a diet. A balance is key to staying both mentally and physically at your best.
As a triathlete, I need the proper fuel to keep me going, and I also need to stay lean for modeling. I stick to whole, natural foods straight from the earth, including plenty of greens, all fruits and vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, oatmeal, eggs, nuts, beans, chicken, fish and Greek yogurt. I eat to train, not train to eat as they say, which means no food groups are off limits, especially not carbohydrates!
For me, triathlon training can sometimes consist of up to 3 hours a day of either swimming, biking, running or core training, which means I am burning a lot of fuel. A typical day of eating for me may consist of the following:
Green smoothie of spinach, frozen mango and berries, ginger, ice, and water.
½ cup gluten free oats with lots of cinnamon and topped with sliced strawberries
4-6 egg whites for protein
Always a cup of Tea!
Post Workout: Smoothie (frozen banana, berries, 1 scoop pure whey protein powder, water)
Lunch/ Snack: 1 baked potato with Greek yogurt and lots of fresh cut veggies and avocado on the side.
Dinner: My go-to dinner is steamed spinach, tons of roasted veggies (anything from Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, red onion to peppers), a large baked organic sweet potato with lots of cinnamon, and a protein such a baked chicken breast or a wild fish.
Dessert: Greek Yogurt with lots of nuts, homemade granola, berries, and drizzle of honey
Before bed snack: Apple or banana with organic peanut butter (I love peanut butter!)
No matter what your athletic or fitness goals are, you must take care of your body in order to perform at your best, and to me, eating a healthy diet is just as crucial as training. Life can be busy, so having a solid and balanced breakfast and dinner are key (and I do not often follow the no eating after 7pm rule!). I also never train on an empty stomach — I wouldn’t want running out of energy to stop me from finishing a workout or keep me from pushing my hardest. Even if I have to get up early to train, I make sure I get something in my stomach to keep me energized and get my metabolism going. On days I don’t have a hard workout, or I am simply too busy to get one in, I still make sure to fuel myself properly and tend to eat just as much as a day when I do train.
Athlete or not, we should all want to feel our best and give our bodies the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, whether you are training for a marathon, want to be active with your kids, or simply just want to feel energized throughout your workday. Adapting a healthy way of eating can make you feel just as good as any athlete.
Katie Bottini is a Wilton graduate of the class of 2004, where she played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse, and was captain of the girls varsity lacrosse team. Katie has a B.S. degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition, and began training for triathlons shortly after graduating, named an all-American triathlete from 2009-2013 and part of Team USA in the Triathlon World Championships in New Zealand in 2012. Katie is a NASM certified personal trainer and triathlon coach, and has spent the past two years modeling for a sports and fitness agency, which has gotten her jobs with NIKE, and can be seen in various ads and their online catalog.