Posted: Jun 21, 2012 5:09 PM by Joe Battaglia (AM)
Updated: Jun 26, 2012 12:25 AM
EUGENE, Ore. -- Stephanie Brown Trafton posed the question half-jokingly, which also means with serious undertones.
"Have you been to Burger King lately?" she asked. "Well Burger King has a bacon sundae, but I have yet to try it. And if you go to BJs and get the pazuki they will let you put bacon on it."
If you can hear your arteries clogging just thinking about a warm chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and everyone's favorite pork product, imagine how a diet that includes regular consumption of that cardiac-arrest-in-a-cup could impact the performance of an elite athlete.
Brown-Trafton never paid much attention to her diet, nor did she have a reason to. After winning the Olympic Trials here for years ago, she talked about how she couldn't wait to sink her teeth into a couple of corn dogs, her favorite food.
And, let's face it, if you're going to celebrate winning your country's first Olympic gold medal in the discus since 1932, would you rather do it with tasty, fried nitrates on a stick or the Chinese substitute, on a stick, that were readily available on the streets of Beijing?
But for 18 months between 2009 and 2010, Brown-Trafton did not resemble the champion thrower that had feasted on the world's best throwers, and anything else she wanted.
So as she began to put back the pieces of her career in 2011, she decided that she needed to make some sacrifices and adjustments if she was to be at her best in the Olympic year so she began working with a nutritionist, the one part of her regimen that went largely neglected.
Just seeing the new Brown-Trafton is believing.
"I've lost 20 pounds since October, and that is due to just eating properly," she said. "As throwers, we love our corn dogs and tater tots and bacon. I still love bacon. I've got a bacon brownie recipe from Nigella Lawson on my iPhone. Okay, so I still haven't gotten the diet down 100-percent pat. But the changes I've made have enabled me to drop 5-percent of my body fat."
A leaner Brown-Trafton has made for a meaner thrower in the ring.
In May, Brown-Trafton broke the American record in the discus with a throw of 67.74m/222-3 in Hawaii, a new personal-best by over five feet. The average of her top marks through the first nine competition of 2012 is nearly two meters further than over the same period four years ago when the 6-4 Californian carried 224 pounds on her frame.
"My strength to weight ratio has gone up," she said. "I feel like my strike on the finish is a lot faster. I see myself in the video and I am like, 'Wow, that was fast.' Before, I would have been like, 'Is the video speed turned up?' I feel really athletic. Before, I felt powerful, but not necessarily as athletic. With my fitness, I am able to go through the ring being agile. I feel like a dancer."
In the past, Brown-Trafton was notorious for being an early-round performer. Her winning throw at the Olympics came in the first round, as have a number of wins in her career. But now, she feels like she has the stamina to be a factor late in competitions.
"I have been more consistent in my later round throws than I have been in the past," she said. "Most meets I actually feel like I am getting better as the rounds go by."
Brown-Trafton said her new focus is all about attention to detail. When she is "taking care of business," as she puts it, she feels like she can contend with the top throwers in the world, women like Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, Nadine Mueller of Germany, and Yarelis Barrios of Cuba.
She was reminded recently of what can happen when that doesn't happen.
At the Prefontaine Classic here earlier this month, Brown-Trafton didn't bring the shoes she uses during wet conditions because she didn't think they would matter. When the rains came that afternoon, she fouled all three of her throws.
"Sometimes you get a little bit ahead of yourself and think that you're too good for your own advice," she said. "Because of the American record I think I was like, 'Well maybe I don't have to do the little things that I used to.' That Prefontaine Classic was a great learning experience. My approach changed for a split second and I fell flat on my face. You can't be overconfident at this level because the littlest thing can mean going home empty-handed."
And for Brown-Trafton, this weekend is all about bringing home the bacon.
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