Ask an Olympian! Maria Ramberger on Nutrition and Training

Hi FitVista Crew,

The Olympics are my favorite, FAVORITE event every 4 / 2.5 / 1.5 years. Give me all the personal moments stories, all the competition, video montages and inspiring music. Even the NBC Theme song speaks straight to my heart. 

So I'm going to brag and boast just a wee bit that I'm friends with a real Olympian! 

Maria Ramberger stayed at my childhood home way back in September 2003 as part of an exchange trip from Austria with my high school in Rye, New York. We adored her!

Since then, our families have visited each other and I was so warmly welcomed in to her home near Vienna, Austria. 

When she mentioned she'd be in the States a few months ago and was swinging by New York for three nights, I was ecstatic! She stayed at our apartment and we had a fun trip: cooking dinners, going to Whole Foods, her kicking EVERYONE's BUTT at a local bootcamp class in my neighborhood and renting Citi-bikes, biking all around the tip of Manhattan (Instagram photo here!). 

She oh-so-kindly agreed to partake in an interview for my blog and I'm so excited to share it with you!

But first, a confession. I am posting this SO LATE. Maria and I conducted the interview in late September and I got SO behind on my blog posts, other projects and new clients. An official S-O-R-R-Y for sitting on this stellar information for so long. I'm doing a give-away to make up for it -- gifting a free Fitvista tee-shirt via my Instagram here. Check out the page for details on how to win over the next week.  

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Maria! 



Maria was born in Vienna, Austria and is currently living in Klosterneuburg, Austria. She's a (soon to be graduated) Phd Student in Legal Studies at the University of Vienna and recently married to Jonathan Cheever, on US Snowboard Team. Congrats! 

Her accomplishments are MANY in the snowboarding world, so I'll list a few: 

- 2 time Olympian (Sochi 2014 / Vancouver 2010)

- 4 X-Games Starts (4th Place 2010)

- Member of the Austrian World Cup Team from 2010 to 2016

- Ranked Top 10 in the World Season 2015/16

- Multiple EuropaCup and NorAmCup Wins

So yes ...  this lady knows what she's talking about! 


Michelle: Let's start at the beginning : Breakfast! You crafted some gorgeous and inspiring breakfasts when you visited. What's your go-to breakfast and how does it make you feel?

Maria: I love breakfast. It definitely is my favorite meal of the day. If I'm at a restaurant, I'll usually have a fruit bowl, Eggs Benedict and some extra toast with jam.

My daily go-to is super simple though and doesn't require much preparation or thinking at all. Which both is important when you're not even awake yet!  So here is what I do: I grab a coffee mug. Same mug every day - so that I don't have to think about how much goes into it. Again no thinking before breakfast.

First I add a few spoonfuls of seeds. Usually I have flax and chia seeds at home but Michelle here actually had me try hemp seeds, which are delicious as well.

I pour oatmeal on top of the seeds until the mug is about two thirds full. Afterwards I stir in as much boiling water as the mug can hold and then cover the everything and let it steep for about 10 to 15 minutes. If I know I'm in a hurry the next day I add the water the night before and let everything soak over night. It does taste better warm though.

While I am waiting I chop up a bunch of different fruit and throw them into a big bowl. The mix usually varies with the seasons but lately I LOVE a grapefruit-berries-mango-peach mix best.

I add about two spoons of low fat plain yoghurt and a handful of walnuts to the fruits, mix everything and then scoop the oatmeal up top.

And then - don't judge me on this until you've tried it - I drizzle a spoonful of olive oil over the whole thing. I originally started doing this because I heard that some vitamins are fat soluble. Since there basically is no fat in this meal I concluded I had to add some. I tried olive oil because there was nothing else in the house. And to my surprise I really liked it.  In the mean time I've tried different variations - like flax seed oil which it is supposed to be super healthy - but I have to day I like olive oil the best. Maybe I am just weird. Coconut oil tastes really nice as well and might be less of an acquired taste. 

How does it make me feel - hmmm. Full. In my experience that's the breakfast that'll keep me full for the longest time compared with other options. Relaxed too.

Sometimes too much so since breakfast can stretch into a hour long activity for me. I'll have one or two big cups of green tea with my oatmeal, read the newspaper or stream one of my fav TV-shows. Yup, as I said, I love breakfast. 


Michelle: You've traveled a ton over the course of your career, never staying in one place longer than three months. What are some quick tips to stay healthy while on the go? How do you have to go out of your way to stand up for yourself and get what you need for your training and nutrition? 

Maria: People always complain that it is tough to stay healthy when on the road. I like to call them out on their b***t.

There are things called supermarkets all over the world. Walk in. Grab a few apples and a few walnuts or almonds and boom: backpack friendly non-squishy snacks are covered.

Also any hotel buffet has healthy options. There almost always is a fruit or salad bar and there almost always is some grilled meat or fish option. The only place in the word that I've traveled to and felt like I needed to go out of my way a bit was Spain and Italy because their breakfast options are very limited - as in limited to coffee and croissants.

But after having experienced this, the next time I'd just bring my own oatmeal mix and some fruit, politely ask for a bowl and hot water. So far no one has ever kicked me out of a hotel because of this.

Breakfast in Korea is fun as well - it's basically a dinner buffet but with eggs. So I'd have a salad with scrambled eggs, rice and soy sauce. Definitely healthy enough and I kinda liked it to be honest. 


Michelle: When we think of Vienna, Austria, we think gorgeous buildings ... coffee shops and chocolate cake! How do you incorporate caffeine and sweets in to your diet and how do you stay balanced? 

Maria: Yes, you are absolutely right to think of nice coffee shops and delicious pastries. Vienna is amazing. To  my dentist's horror, I definitely have a sweet tooth. It starts with the breakfast I've described above and ends with afternoon coffee and cake.

Although concerning breakfast: I am prepared to deny that fruit contains sugar with the same fervor some republicans deny climate change. Ha! 

And also if you truly believe something is good for you, it probably is. The latter I'm only semi-sarcastic about. There is some enlightening research about placebo effects out there - but I am getting off topic . . . . 

I try to stay balanced by only have a small piece of cake at a time. Because if we are truly honest with ourselves, the first bite usually is the best anyways. 

Michelle: Let's talk veggies. Do you juice, blend or eat them straight-up? 

Maria: I'll just eat them straight up. Even though there are delicious green smoothie options I prefer to chew my food. 

If raw is not an option I'll throw it in a non-sticky pan, add a few spoonfuls of water, cover and steam it.

Another great option is just wrapping your whole vegetable in tin foil and throwing it in the oven until it's tender. Yes, I'm a lazy cook... but seriously vegetables taste great even - or especially - if they are only flavored with a bit of salt, soy sauce and/or oil. 

In my experience you can eat almost any vegetable raw. Last week I was driving home from the grocery store. As usual I was hungry and reached into the bag closest to me to grab something. This time though the something that I could reach without causing a car accident was: beets plus beet greens. Biting into a raw beet like an apple seemed the more extreme option so I plucked one of the beet greens: Yes that red/green stuff that grows out of beets and that most people don't even use. I figured why not and just chewed on a few leaves. They actually are really good. Not too different from other lettuce options . . .  


Michelle: Snowboard cross takes a ton of strength and time spent lifting weights in the gym before the season begins. What do you think / recommend to women about lifting heavy to get results they want? 


Maria: That's a difficult question because everyone is different and so everyone needs a different approach. But what I would recommend everyone to do at least once is to find out much you can really push your limit.

[Obviously don't do any of what I am about to say if you are in a gym for the first time and have no experience in how to do exercises safely!}

But if you know what you are doing, or if you have professional supervision here is what you should do: Just train like you normally would for the first two sets of each exercise. Then for the third set pick the same weight but keep going after what you thought was your last rep. I mean it.

Keep going until you cannot move that weight not matter how much you try. You will be blown away by how much further away than you thought your actual 'rep to failure' is.

Even professional athletes need that reminder from time to time. Thinking you can't go further/heavier and actually not being able to are two very different things.

Besides it being absolutely inspiring to realize how strong you really are.

Why does this experiment help you getting the results you want? In order to get optimal results from lifting heavy you need to lift to or at least very close to failure. Thus you also need to know where that point is and how to get to it. 


I'm all about lifting those heavy weights! Thank you Maria. I hope you enjoyed, please share with your friends and join us at @michelleFitvista for our tee Shirt Giveaway and FIND MARIA AT @MariaRamberger