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Femme Community

“Femme Community”; A Forum for All Female Athletes

All athletes are not created equal. We are the sum total of our experience, training, desire, genetics, even geography. De Soto Sport Femme Apparel is designed with a mind for every female athlete’s celebrated differences, as well as their shared, multisport enthusiasm. Likewise, this Femme Community blog is where we may congregate to embrace our differences, share our experiences, gain support and give voice to our passion.

As the name suggests, we are a community. What you will find here are tips, tales and matters of importance to female endurance athletes. But, more, you will connect with likeminded women, sharing their own stories and concerns. Navigate the site to your heart’s content, and know you are invited to participate. Ask questions. Leave comments. Join in the exchange of ideas. Find the support you crave, while offering it to others.

By joining the Femme Community you will be kept up on activities, events and, sure, specials and product offerings. But you do not come here for pressure or a sales presentation. You come here for advice. You come here for guidance. You come here for nutritional and training assistance. You will get informed. You will hopefully be entertained. And above all, and I cannot stress this enough, you will find support. You have found us.

Now become a supported member of the Femme Community. Bookmark us. Register your email for convenient, updated blog posts. Or, simply commit us to memory and return at your leisure when in search of empathy, camaraderie and affirmation. Welcome to the family. Feel free to try something on.

To join our Femme Community and to receive special news and offers, sign up here:

10 April 2014: Sunlight and Sunscreen

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

Sunscreen, Sunscreen and more sunscreen! I see it everywhere - especially living in Southern California. Kids cannot step outside of the indoors without being slathered with chemical-induced sunscreens because the sun is evil, right? I realize I will receive some backlash from this one, but I think it's important to think about, ponder yourself for a moment or two....

In a world without sunscreen from year's past, when our ancestors lived, what did they do? Did they stay inside like hermits between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.? I doubt it because there was work that had to be done during the key hours of the day - farming, for instance demanded work during those hours, in fact, isn't that from where daylight savings came? Sure, we could say we have evolved to these conditions but actually we evolved outdoors. Sun exposure, regular sun exposure, was required then and in fact, even today our body requires it.

Now, I'm not saying go get on your bike and stay out there for seven hours without sunscreen. Of course, you could get on your bike for seven hours, or 400 miles, with our 400-mile bike short, right? But regular sunlight exposure is still important for optimal health. In fact, even newborns are now given Vitamin D drops because we are told to keep babies and all children out of the sun. Well, if we have regular limited sunlight exposure, our body produces Vitamin D, which acts more as a hormone than a vitamin and is necessary for bone mineralization, it also improves insulin sensitivity and increases fat loss, it's required for testosterone production, prevents tooth decay, boosts our immune system and reduces inflammation.

So how much sunlight is good? Well, to get the effects of what I refer to above you only need about 30 minutes a day. But Vitamin D is only made from UVB (the evil burning rays), not the UVA. So - go out for a short 30 minute run and allow yourself to basque just a bit in the sun. Sunscreen will block the UVB rays so it doesn't count with sunscreen.

Now, since most of us are in the sunlight for more than 30 minutes, first think about something to physically block the rays. Obviously when we are running, we can wear a run cap but we can also cover our arms and shoulders with Cool Wings and our legs with Leg Coolers.

But what about when we are swimming (without a wetsuit)? If it's 30 minutes, go for it! If it's more, then you will likely want to wear sunscreen. When purchasing your sunscreen, look at the "block" so to speak, in your sunscreen. What is blocking those rays? You only want sunblock that has one of two ingredients: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. All the others: oxybenzone, oxinoxate, anything methyl.., propyl..., butyl..., ethyl..., trieth.., dieth...are all chemicals. Anything you put on your skin will be absorbed by your body. That's why we say babies under 6 months shouldn't use sunscreen and children should be using natural sunscreen (my personal favorite: Thinksport). I realize this is all unconventional, but when 70% of the population is Vitamin D deficient and we stay out of the sun to avoid cancer, it's important to consider what we slather all over our body and what may actually cause problems, instead of merely fixing them.

27 February 2014: Part 2 of 2 Nutrition Series: Carbohydrates and the Female Athlete,

by Femmebassador, Kathleen Rafaat, Sports Nutrition Counseler, Team La Jolla Multi Sports Coach.

Part 2: How to Plan Your Carbohydrate Intake

If you look at training as a cycle, triathletes usually break the year down into four distinctive cycles, beginning with the Base Cycle. This is time you are laying down your foundation to develop aerobic endurance and muscular strength. It is filled with moderate intensity and high volume. If you look at the year as a whole, your carbohydrate volume should follow your training volume. So it makes sense to match up what you consume in the hours before, during and after training with the loss of fuel that happens during your training session. Once you become fatigued, you have no choice but to slow down or stop. Let’s work on how to stop that from happening!

In a perfect world, it is best to fuel your body 3-4 hours before you train but most of us have busy lives and it is difficult to eat that early. Let’s start with 1-2 hours before a training session that lasts for 75 minutes. An example is a 140-pound female triathlete. She will need between 2.5-3g/lb. of carbs for a low intensity training = 1,400 calories of carbohydrates.

Keeping in mind that you are eating 1-2 hours before your training session, it is better to limit your intake of carbohydrates to 1 gram per pound of body weight. So the 140-pound athlete could take in a max of 140 grams of carbs. Two hours before a whole grain bagel, 1 T peanut butter, banana and endurance sports drink would give you around that amount. If closer to an hour, using a liquid carb meal or energy bar is great since it is quickly and easily digested. Choose wisely and look for organic versions with the least amount of ingredients.

During your workout, you will need to ingest around 30-40 grams per hour if training longer than 2 hours. Start drinking as soon as you begin your exercise and continue to drink at frequent intervals throughout your workout. Gels, sports drink, banana, bars, are all good and should be used during your training to see which one works best for you. Remember to check your race website to see what they use, and practice what is on the course, in case your “special” combo is lost or dropped during the race!

After your training, make sure you are replenishing energy stores at a rate of about .75 grams per pound of body weight, during the first 15-30 minutes and for the next four to six hours. That is equal to 100 grams of carbohydrates for 140-pound athlete. This way you can maximize your glycogen stores and feel great for your next day of training!

17 February 2014: Compression: What You Need to Know

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

As athletes, we are concerned with so many things, but often one of them is how we can perform at our highest level. We are constantly looking for what will keep us comfortable, but also, what will help to get us to the finish line, while still feeling strong and healthy, or at least not in pain.

The recent trend in compression was evident when sales jumped 170 percent from 2008 to 2010. A compressive garment should increase blood flow and hence oxygen to the muscles, thus better performance, or perhaps in turn, better endurance. This isn’t limited to the sports apparel industry either. Over the past decade, we have seen a surge in “shapewear,” which women love because it holds in the unwanted bulges or creases.

While, we too, make compression socks, shorts and even tops, it is important to be mindful, especially as a woman, some of the problems associated with wearing compression in the wrong areas. This is particularly true when competing in long endurance events, like a half ironman, ironman, marathon or even half marathon.

One of the common problems is a waistband that can compress on your colon, stomach and intestines. This can be a particular problem on the bike, when we may sometimes encounter gastrointestinal issues. The intestines need to move food along, but if they become compressed, digestion is slowed and sometimes backed up.

An additional problem of compressive gear can be that it causes shallow breathing. As an athlete, we know this is the last thing a person wants. Sometimes, it’s all we can get, but oxygen is our first fuel source and we need to be able to breathe!

Because Femme is made of women designers and we test the gear out, along with our femmebassadors, we have made our compression and non-compressive gear as friendly as possible to women. Our Femme gear provides support for your stomach, while not allowing a tightening around your abdomen region to halt digestion altogether. In our 400 Mile Bike Short, we have created a mesh center panel that allows for expansion of the inner organs, while creating a body of leg and gluteal region. In our Femme Run Short, we have made a friendly Carrera band, that allows for expansion as well, and the placement of the drawcord, should you desire to use it, is lower, well below the abdomen.

An additional problem with compression gear is bacterial infections. De Soto Femme fabrics provide maximum breathability for air flow. Additionally, all of our shammies or pads, are microbial and antibacterial. This will help aid is helping to ward of bacterial or fungal infections.

One thing you can be certain of is that we are women, making clothing for women, who experience the same frustrations, annoyances, issues or celebrations as you. De Soto Femme is thinking of things that women athletes are, or at least should, be aware of. We've got your covered, literally, in the best possible way.

15 February 2014: Part 1 of 2 Nutrition Series: Carbohydrates and the Female Athlete,

by Femmebassador, Kathleen Rafaat, Sports Nutrition Counseler, Team La Jolla Multi Sports Coach.

Part 1: What is a Carbohydrate?

As a female, we have been taught to be careful, almost fearful, of carbohydrates. When you become an athlete, the fear becomes a stumbling block if you do not approach it as a way to maintain physical strength and stamina in your daily workouts and races.

Understanding carbohydrates and how to use them is one of the most important tools in your workout routine. If you are a triathlete, your workouts are based on cycles and each cycle requires a different amount and timing, of those carbohydrates. It can get complicated, but let’s look at the simple side of what carbohydrates do for your body and how you can use them to your benefit.

Carbohydrates are found in all food and are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are simple carbs, or sugars, which include glucose (blood sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and galactose. There are also two-molecule carbs that include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and maltose (malt sugar). Complex carbohydrates, or starches, contain large 300 to 1,000 molecule compound and contain nothing but glucose molecules. It takes these compounds longer than simple sugars to come apart in the digestive system.

The nutritional advantages that complex carbohydrates have over simple sugars as a source of energy, derive not only from the rate at which their glucose is absorbed, but also from the amount of fiber they add to the diet and from the other nutrients present in the major sources of starch (grains, beans, tubers). However, an increasing amount of evidence indicates that distinguishing which carbohydrates are good for you is more complicated than this simple dichotomy suggests.

What is also important when differentiating between various types of carbohydrates is how rapidly a particular carbohydrate will get metabolized into sugar and impact blood sugar (glucose) levels, otherwise known as the Glycemic Index.

Part 2: See above!

6 February 2014: Why We Do What We Do

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

After being in touch with many women endurance athletes throughout the year, we were inspired as women to fit all women endurance athletes. Don't get me wrong. We are not there yet. But we aspire.

We have found that many other apparel brands require a certain physique. A certain size. Or a certain shape. De Soto Femme decided that we wanted to be a "hard-core" triathlete brand, that cared about women of all sizes and women of all levels. We understand that everyone starts somewhere. Some of us may have always been an endurance athelte and have always been in shape. Others of us may have been that same athlete, but became pregnant or injured and needed to pull overselves back into the shape that we desired. Others may have decided to join endurance sports later in life. We, at De Soto Femme, embrace all women.

Trust that when you join our Femme Community, you will not be judged and you will not be made to feel inferior or silly. We will not tell you that the deconstruction of our apparel is due to your body structure. We may help size you, but it will be from other women. And I can promise you, that we care. We want to ignite that passion in you for endurance sports, for fitness, for health! We want to make you comfortable and allow you to not think about the clothing you're wearing. If you do, we have failed.

Please note that above, I said we are not there yet. We recognize that WE NEED YOU! We need your feedback and questions and issues to make us work harder. For you. For women. For female athletes.

27 January 2014: What is the Femme Community?

by CFO/Attorney/Mother/Triathlete, Tracy M. De Soto

After launching the Femmebassador program in 2013, I found myself connecting with our Femmebassadors, and they reaching out to me. I enjoyed the camaraderie of other women, just as they did. It's not that we can't find other women with whom to speak, share thoughts, feelings, current events and politics, but it's also comforting to be able to connect with those whom do similar sport and training. Why? Well, we, as women tend to experience some of the same pains, trials, joys or sorrows. We are all trying to find life-work balance and that balance includes trying to get in daily workouts (I know, we can't always get them in, but we certainly try!) And training for three sports certainly presents its own challenges, right?

I was inspired to start this blog because a Femmebassador informed me of the #megsmiles hashtag due to the terrible accident of a mother of three hit by a drunk driver while she was out running. Training. Just like you. Just like me. You may not be a mother but immediately, I thought of my two young sons. Motherless sons. And my heart sank and I felt physical pain for her children and her husband.

I find comfort and feel stronger knowing that women around the country and even globe rallied behind this horrific event and joined forces and went out and ran. Why? Because that's what we do. We run. And run. And run. Not from something (well, maybe occasionally) but rather to celebrate life, to support each other and to express ourselves. But this community, built of mere "strangers" is so beautiful. You see, we are not strangers. We are a community. We are strong. We are women.

To join our Femme Community and to receive special news and offers, sign up here:

For more information, email femme@desotosport.com