Monday, January 9, 2017

Fasting and Food - Part I, What should I be eating?

"Hi, thanks for adding me to the group. I started 16:8 fasting. Does this look like a good eating plan? This is what I'm eating:
  • 1200 pm - protein shake
  • 12:30 pm - gigantic salad with chicken or fish
  • 3:00 pm - light snack of Greek yogurt
  • 6:00 pm - dinner, another gigantic salad with chicken or fish
I see some form of this post in the Facebook group (Fierce Fit Fearless 2.0) just about once a week. There is no cut-and-dry answer to this. Without knowing some key pieces of information, there is no way to answer this question.
  1. How old are you?
  2. How tall are you?
  3. How much do you currently weigh?
  4. What do you think is a realistic goal weight for you?
  5. What are your goals - Fat loss? Muscle gain? body re-composition? Other?
  6. What is your BMR?
  7. TDEE?
  8. Tell me about your fitness program - do you lift?
  9. What do you do, how much of it do you do and how often do you do it?
Answer these questions and then, and only then, can we can get started with your meal plan.
 
The first problem with the above meal plan description is that it lists no real information. How much chicken or fish are you eating? What else will be in your salad? What kind of salad dressing are you using and how much of it?
 
THE MEAL PLAN IN QUESTION: 
 
12:00 pm - protein shake - I'm going to assume this is a traditional, low-carb whey shake - 125 calories, 20g protein (if made with water)
 
12:30 pm - gigantic salad with chicken or fish (~300 calories unless fat free dressing used, then 120 cal plus any fats added)
  • 4 ounces of chicken or white fish = 104 calories / 26g protein
  • salad ingredients - negligible calories unless including beans, beets, avocado, or cheese
  • Oil and Vinegar dressing - ~100 calories per tablespoon. Let's be honest, probably at least two tablespoons were used on this gigantic salad = 200 calories pretty much all of it fat (22g)
3:00 pm - light snack of low fat Greek yogurt - 130 calories, 12g protein, 6g carbs, 2g fat
 
6:00 pm - dinner, another gigantic salad with chicken or fish 26g protein, 22g fat (300 calories)
 
Total for the day:
72g Protein (288 calories)
46g fat (414 calories)
6g carbs (plus carbs from veggies) let's round up to 50g, 200 calories
Grand Total of this day: 902 calories (maybe round up 100 calories for veggies, so 1002 calories).
 
Do you think this is a healthy meal plan? I'll save you the trouble of thinking about it. No. It's in no way a healthy meal plan for any sized adult woman.
 
So, the next question is, what can be done to make this meal plan more acceptable?

 
RECOMMENDED MEAL PLAN
 
12:00 pm - lunch - 424.5 calories / 37.5g protein, 13g Carbs, 23.5g fat
Break your fast with actual FOOD. It does wonder for hunger and satiation. Here you have your gigantic salad with:
  • 5 ounces of chicken or fish =  32.5g protein, 150 calories
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • a half of a cucumber
  • a half an avocado 10.5g fat, 6g carbs, 1.5g Protein = 117 calories
  • a handful of black beans (1/4 cup) = 4g Protein, 10g Carbs, 57 calories
  • O/V dressing with 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, a splash of water and some spices thrown in. (13.5g fat, 119 calories)
1:00 pm - snack - 256.5 calories / 30g Protein, 10.5g Carbs, 10.5g fat  
Protein shake w / Fairlife 2% milk and 1 tablespoon almond butter
 
6:00 pm - dinner -  424.5 calories / 37.5g protein, 13g Carbs, 23.5g fat
  • 5 ounces of chicken or fish =  32.5g protein, 150 calories
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • a half of a cucumber
  • a half an avocado 10.5g fat, 6g carbs, 1.5g Protein = 117 calories
  • a handful of black beans (1/4 cup) = 4g Protein, 10g Carbs, 57 calories
  • O/V dressing with 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, a splash of water and some spices thrown in. (13.5g fat, 119 calories)
8:00 pm - snack - 256.5 calories / 30g Protein, 10.5g Carbs, 10.5g fat  
Protein shake w / Fairlife 2% milk and 1 tablespoon almond butter
 
This day includes a grand total of: 1,362 calories, 135g Protein, 47g Carbs, 68g Fat. Obviously the carbs are slightly higher, but I usually don't count high-fiber green type of veggies in my counts.
 
What's even more astonishing is that this meal plan is actually way too low on calories for the majority of women out there. If you're under 5'4" tall and need to lose more than 15 pounds, this is probably a great low-carb meal plan for you - esp. if you're over 35. If you're taller, younger, and/or need to lose more than 15 or so extra pounds of bodyweight to reach a healthy BMI (not including Figure-type goals in here), you will need to significantly increase your calories.
 
To bump up calories, I recommend going with a 10-hour feeding window and a 14-hour fast, which allows for one more meal. Include some potatoes/yams and more protein and you're looking at a great day of eating!
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Optimal Fasting Times for Female Fat Loss - A discussion.

How long should I fast?

This is probably the most common question I see among women new to Intermittent Fasting. Unfortunately there is no hard-and-fast definitive answer to this question. We all react to stress differently. Yes, I said stress. Fasting is a stressor to the body - especially the female body. Like money worries, relationship drama, and exercise, fasting will cause the body various levels of stress which can, and often will, result in negative consequences regarding our health.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing most of you have jobs and financial responsibilities, relationships, some of you have children or are care takers of family members. You probably rarely get eight hours of sleep and, let's face it, who has time when living in the real world to meditate daily?

All of these things are life's stressors. Now, add lack of sleep, job and family/relationship stress to a boiling pot of intense daily exercise and a lack of food and your body will start to make some decisions for you. One of them is that you are in no place to have a baby and it begins revving down the reproductive engine, rendering you infertile. This then causes a cascade of negative affects for, you guessed it, your metabolism! When the body shuts down “non-essential” body processes such as reproduction, this is called hypothalamic amenorrhea. When you reach this state, your levels of estrogen and progesterone drop very low. Low levels of these hormones will cause the weakening of your bones while affecting your metabolism, energy and even your sanity!

How does it all work. Stay with me while I get a little sciencey for a minute. In both men and women, hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis is a term for the cooperative functioning of three separate endocrine glands. Like a cop directing traffic on a busy highway, the HPG axis is responsible for managing the following processes:
  • First, the hypothalamus releases gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). *Pay close attention to this guy because you'll read more about him in a bit.
  • This tells the pituitary to release luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH).
LH and FSH then act on the gonads (a.k.a. testes or ovaries).
  • In women, this triggers the production of estrogen and progesterone — which we need to release a mature egg (ovulation) and to support a pregnancy.
  • In men, this triggers the production of testosterone and sperm production.
Because this chain of reactions happens on a very specific, regular cycle in women, GnRH pulses must be very precisely timed, or everything can get messed up.

Scientists are beginning to explore the role of a protein-like molecule called Kisspeptin in GnRH (there it is again!) stimulation. Kisspeptin also induces the production of LH and FSH, both of which are required for menstruation.

Kisspeptin production is induced by leptin (the satiating hormone that tells you you're not hungry). Since leptin is produced by fat cells, and kisspeptin production is induced by leptin, it would be safe to reason that individuals with low fat levels may have lower levels of leptin and therefore low levels of kisspeptin as well. This explains why leaner people get hungry faster and how athletes who have low body fat levels may stop menstruating.

Interestingly, females mammals apparently have more kisspeptin than males. More kisspeptin neurons may mean greater sensitivity to changes in energy balance. This may be one reason why fasting more readily causes women’s kisspeptin production to dip, tossing their GnRH off kilter.

A STUDY: EFFECTS OF FASTING ON RATS

How lovely it would be to have an actual study regarding fasting and human women, but there is an often-discussed study on rats that delves somewhat into this. Half of the rats ate what they wanted, the other half were fed every second day with no food in between (fasting state). The study lasted 12 weeks which is supposedly the equivalent of about 10 years in a human.

RESULTS

Kisspeptin levels dropped in both male and female rats, however, the females suffered a dramatic impact on their hormones. LH dropped significantly, while estradiol skyrocketed. Estradiol is responsible for blunting/inhibiting GnRH >>> GnRH is responsible for stimulating LH and FSH >>> LH and FSH trigger the production of estrogen in the ovaries. Too much GnRH = way too little female reproductive hormones being produced. And, while the study lasted 12 weeks (equaling 10 years in humans), it took only 10 to 15 days to see these devastating hormonal affects in the female rats. If 12 weeks in a rats life = 10 years for us humans, then 10 days must equal only about a year - or less, actually.

So what? Who wants to have periods anyway? Unless you're trying to get pregnant, I think we'd all agree that periods are a hassle. Well, while they may be an annoying monthly inconvenience, a healthy period says a lot about the health of your metabolism. As I mentioned earlier, when a woman eats a restrictive diet, which happens when skipping meals or fasting, her body starts to worry about resources. Add to this hour upon hour of high intensity exercise, few-to-no rest days and you are brewing a metabolic disaster. Our bodies are greatly affected by stress. And while exercise is good for us, our bodies see it as another stressor.

Ok, that was a lot of information and I still haven't answered the question. How long should I fast?

I honestly cannot definitively say. However, based on the information in the above discussion, I feel that women should begin with a conservative approach to fasting. It takes the body anywhere from six to eight hours to digest a meal. (This does not apply to protein shakes and other liquid meals as they will move much quicker through your system.) Therefore, a 14-hour fast gives your body a solid 6-8 hours in fasting mode every day when it can clean up blood sugar, tap into fat reserves and busy itself with autophagy (cleaning up dead/dying cells). During this golden period of true fasting, your insulin will be low which, in turn, turns off fat storage mode and turns on fat-burning mode. Add to this a fasted training session or some low intensity cardio, and you can tap a bit further into your sugar and fat stores.

There's an analogy I use every time I try to explain this concept to people. You have a new car sitting in the driveway. You just drove it home from the dealership and the gas tank is full. The first time you take it out for a drive, you stop at the gas station to fuel up. What happens? Well, since your tank is already full, the gas just spills out of the tank, runs down the side of the car and pools on the ground until you shut off the pump.

This is the same concept as eating. If you have a decent first meal of the day (regardless of what time), your tank is now full for probably at least six hours. But you eat again in three or four hours because modern convention says it's time for lunch. Your body isn't finished digesting meal one, so it says, "There's plenty of energy still in circulation (sugar and fat from meal #1), let's just store any extra and deal with it later." And the cycle continues 3-4 hours later with dinner or happy hour.

If your body is still using the macronutrients from one meal, don't give it another one yet just because "it's time." Trust me, your body will let you know when it's really time to eat again. Your stomach will start growling and that hungry feeling will be gnawing at you. Your body won't forget to tell you to eat.

Now, this is where the composition of your meals makes the most difference, but that's actually going to require a whole other post about leptin, ghrelin and macronutrient composition. For now, let me just say that if you eat processed garbage or straight sugar (this includes bagels, cereal and other forms of starchy carbs), you will feel hungrier as soon as you come off the sugar high. Always eat mixed meals with ample protein, carb amounts according to rest day/training day (more on that later as well), and some fat to slow down digestion and keep your hormones happy.

Which fasting protocol is the best? Again, this could be a whole other post, but someone else has already covered it here. The protocol I like the most is Martin Berkhan's Leangains.

LEANGAINS (from the post linked above)

Fast for 14 (women) to 16 (men) hours each day, and then “feed” for the remaining eight to 10 hours. During the fasting period, you consume no calories, though black coffee, calorie-free sweeteners, diet soda and sugar-free gum are permitted. (A splash of milk or cream in your coffee won’t hurt, either.) Most people will find it easiest to fast through the night and into the morning, breaking the fast roughly four to six hours after waking up. This schedule is adaptable to any person’s lifestyle, but maintaining a consistent feeding window time is important. Otherwise, hormones in the body can get thrown out of whack and make sticking to the program harder, according to Berkhan.

What and when you eat during the feeding window also depends on when you work out. On days you exercise, carbs are more important than fat. On rest days, fat intake should be higher. Protein consumption should be fairly high every day, though it will vary based on goals, gender, age, body fat and activity levels. Regardless of your specific program, whole, unprocessed foods should make up the majority of your calorie intake. However, when there isn’t time for a meal, a protein shake or meal replacement bar is acceptable.

Pros: Meal frequency is irrelevant — you can eat whenever you want to within the eight- to ten-hour “feeding” period. That said, most people find breaking it up into three meals easier to stick to. Choosing two meals and a snack allows for two fairly large meals which will leave you feeling full and more than satisfied.

Cons: Even though there is flexibility in when you eat, Leangains has pretty specific guidelines for what to eat, especially in relation to when you’re working out. The strict nutrition plan and scheduling meals perfectly around workouts can make the program a bit tougher to adhere to. You can learn more about the specifics — as well as when to time these meals — by reading the Leangains Guide.

The reason I don't like the other fasting protocols is due to the length of the required fasts and what I believe are negative consequences of long fasts for women. Remember the mice? Leangains takes some forethought and planning, but it works without totally stressing the body, allowing you to actually slightly overeat on training days while slightly under eating on rest days. But you MUST LIFT WEIGHTS on this program to be successful.

Before I go, I want to leave you with some info to help you know if you're pushing too hard with whatever diet/fasting protocol/fitness program you are on:

Symptoms of Hormone Disruption (courtesy of PrecisionNutrition.com)
  • fatigue and low energy
  • disrupted sleep (e.g. trouble falling or staying asleep, including the dreaded 3 AM “blast out of bed”)
  • hair loss (or for some women, facial hair growth)
  • cold hands and feet
  • skin problems like dry skin or acne flareups
  • weight changes and changes to where you put on body fat (e.g. more accumulating around your middle)
  • slow injury healing; more inflammation
  • anxiety / OCD, low self-esteem and/or depression
  • elevated carotene in the blood
  • anemia
  • orthostatic hypotension
  • electrolyte irregularities
  • vaginal dryness or thinning of tissues
  • bradycardia (slower than normal heart rate)
  • chronic pain (even if it’s just a general achiness or soreness)
  • changes in digestion (such as constipation or bloating)
  • changes to your breast size or shape (which you’d probably notice as bras not quite fitting right all of a sudden)
Also, don’t ignore a series of missed periods. Along with nutritional deficiencies and energy imbalance, you could be dealing with quite a few serious underlying issues.
These include:
  • polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)
  • thyroid problems
  • uterine scarring
  • pituitary tumors
  • premature menopause
Additional Links:
Informative info here
PN's free book on Intermittent Fasting

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life, Crossfit and a Lesson on Patience

Hi everyone! I'm back. It's been way too long. I didn't realize how much I missed writing to you all here. Life, as it seems to do, has been throwing me curve after curve and finding the time to THINK let alone write just doesn't happen often.

My old laptop was basically dead and I hate blogging from my phone, so I just pushed off keeping up with this old girl here. Good news! I recently bought a shiny new laptop and have no more excuses. If I can sit on my ass on the couch, I have time to share some thoughts here.

So, what have you all been up to? I've been super busy at work, keeping up with my teenager, and spending time with the hubs. He had a setback earlier this year when his cancer returned, so his surgery and recovery really took over our lives for most of this year.  I'm not bringing that up for sympathy. Everyone has shit in their lives they're dealing with - and he's a fighter. He's doing ok now. I'm bringing this up because, while he was undergoing surgery and recovery, I put most of my life on hold and it wasn't healthy. I felt guilty for doing things when he wasn't able to do much himself, but he would have never held it against me. 

So, a couple of months ago, I started to take more and more time for myself - something I think is important for us all to remember to do. While surfing used to take up basically all of my free time when the weather is good, it's not that way any longer. Want to know why? I discovered Crossfit. I was always intrigued by the culture, but I told myself it was too expensive and the workouts didn't make any sense. An old friend of mine (I met back in college in the 90s), owns a Crossfit gym with her husband. Shameless plug - JSA Crossfit in Manasquan, NJ, is the real deal. 

The instruction we receive - whether a seasoned veteran of the box or a noob like me, is comprehensive. The warm-ups are dynamic and suited purposefully toward the day's WOD. The workouts are insanely difficult for the most part. 


245 lb deadlift out of nowhere. BAM!
More often than not, I can't even finish a scaled version in the allotted time. But you know what? That's OK. Learning this was a revelation for someone like me who can't stand unfinished checklists, incomplete work or anything that's halfway done. I have learned to enter the box, give it 100% and walk out with my head held high. I'm performing movements I've always wanted to learn. While I'm using the "training wheels" bar as I like to call it, I'm ok with working on technique with a light load. I can add weight later when my body knows what to do with it. 

I've never been a patient person but, day by day, WOD by WOD, that's exactly what I am becoming.


Monday, November 25, 2013

"I've found a love for working out."




Exhibit A
It's one month until Christmas and my friend Whitney has more to celebrate than usual. See Exhibit A above - a small mountain of clothes that are now so big and loose that she's finally letting them go. She's now four months into her training and happier than ever. Don't believe me? Read her testimonial below and get it straight from the source.

Whitney:

There are some things I can do now that I felt I couldn't before I started training with Jenn. One was to simply go into a gym and feel comfortable. I've also found that I have much more stamina and confidence going into my workouts. For example, when we started, I struggled to just get through the 10-minute dynamic warm-ups.  Now I I can get through it without feeling out of breath and having the overwhelming desire to give up before I even start. 

On the physical side, I have been able to lift more weight, complete more reps and have seen the length of time I can train without rest increase - and I move through our strength circuits faster as well. I am able to - and need to - wear my under armor shirt (from college) under my clothes since my workout T-shirts have begun to look like "Moo-moos," as Jenn calls them.  [Jenn: Hopefully some of those shirts are in the pile above...]

I have also found that the benefits of training go even further than looser clothing and better cardiovascular conditioning. Recently I was able to play in my college Alumni soccer game which I haven't participated in for a couple years because I felt that i couldn't play and didn't want to embarrass myself. This year I played in the game and did pretty well. In addition, all of my friends noticed that I seem happier and healthier. 

Moving forward, a couple things I want to tackle and look forward to is possibly completing a mud-run/short walk/run. I know that these are future goals because, right now, I'm taking it slow which is better for me. More immediate goals I'm focusing on is doing every exercise that Jenn tells me to do and to increase my reps within the time allotted. I also want to continue to lose weight by exercising and by incorporating healthy choices into my lifestyle - which I have been doing, but is always hard. 

I mentioned to Jenn that I stand taller now because that's how I feel (haha). Basically, when you have a stomach on you i feel like you naturally hunch a bit to try and disguise it. But now that I've working out and gaining confidence, I stand taller because I'm proud of myself. My 9-year old nephew, Jack, swears that I've gotten taller every time I see him. Even though I explain to him I haven't grown in years he still tells me, "Aunt Whitney, you got taller, don't lie to me". 

Through this experience, I am learning about the right types of exercise I should be doing for my goals, my weight, my limitations and how to complete them correctly so that I do not hurt myself which is very important. I've also learned that keeping a food journal is so helpful due to the simple fact that you forget what and how much you eat in a day. If it's there on your phone or a piece of paper you realize, WOW, I really should not have an extra snack right now. Also the staff at All Star Sports Academy and my coach, Jenn, have never made me feel like i couldn't finish an exercise or walked away and left me to try stuff on my own. Every time I work out, I have support from the other small group session attendees and/or the staff to keep me going. Now when I miss an exercise day I feel like crap and I can't wait to workout - even if my body doesn't feel like doing anything I always get in there and then I don't want to leave. 

I agreed to work with Jenn because I have been lazy for such a long time. I played three sports in high school and then college soccer and, through it all, I was told what to do and when to exercise. When i graduated college i just wanted to RELAX. Well, relaxing did not help me in any which way because I realize that it wasn't so much relaxing as it was being lazy. So I told myself that if an opportunity came up I had to take it because, if not, I would be an idiot. Jenn presented personal training at All Star Sports Academy to me on the off chance I would say yes and it was the best decision I have ever made. Now I've found a love for working out because I have seen improvement in myself and have overwhelming support from my family, co-workers and friends. I workout now for myself; not to please a team or a coach - just for myself. I have gained such an education on the body, food, calories, and exercises through this time spent training with Jenn that it has made a great improvement in my lifestyle. And, as the famous Carpenters sang, "We've only just begun...".


Jenn: Way to go, Whitney! Keep up the amazing work and we'll be in that mud run together next spring!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Does Originality Exist in a Modern World?

The idea for today's topic came to me after an interesting situation presented itself to me this morning. First, a brief history - I am a strength and conditioning coach at All Star Sports Academy in Toms River, NJ. We do a lot of youth athlete training at our facility and this includes team training where an entire hockey team or basketball team will come in to train with us one night a week. A few weeks ago, while I was coaching a group of young teen male hockey players, one of the owners of the gym was observing. The players were about as bad as my 14-year old daughter with their gossip and slacking off when they were supposed to be pushing through a conditioning session. The owner said to them at one point, "Somewhere there is a team getting their work done. You'll know them when you meet them."

This gave me an idea. The next morning, I fired up my laptop and created this:
I printed a couple of these flyers, featuring last year's local high school hockey regional champions, and left them on his desk, hoping he might actually post them somewhere to help motivate the kids. These kids, pictured above, obviously got their work done and it paid off big time. He told me he saw them and liked them, but that was the last I heard about it. They weren't posted anywhere or mentioned again.

Yesterday, I heard him throwing the phrase "Are you all in?" around in regards to something he had read. Ok, I know I didn't invent the phrase, but this was weird. Then, today, he posted a video on facebook asking fitness professionals if they are "all in" for their clients. Ok, good application of an awesome idea; I'm down with that. But, initially, it bothered me that it seemed like he took my motivational slogan and made it his. But then I thought about it. I obviously didn't invent the phrase - gamblers have been saying it for centuries in who knows how many languages and fitness professionals have no doubt been using it forever. I came to the conclusion that, if it was never mine in the first place, it can't be stolen.

So what is an original idea and, more importantly, do they even exist anymore? I mean, Nike didn't invent the phrase "Just Do It," but they picked a font and an application and made it their brand.

To give credit where credit is due, I only came up with the idea to use that phrase after my boss made that comment to the team during my session. I simply took it one step further in my mind. I have no idea where it came from. I read a lot of blogs and watch a lot of television and live sports. I could have heard it weeks or even months ago and it was just sitting around in my subconscious waiting for me to find an application in which I could use it that would be meaningful to me.

In essence, I arrived at the idea of athletes being "All In" because of what he had said (that combined with the new "One More" Gatorade commercial that's been on all of the time). He said he got to the idea of fitness professionals being "All In" from various reading he's done and listening to others over the past few months. For him the concept application crystalized not when he saw my flyer, but when read something by another fitness professional.

Regardless of how either of us came to our respective points, does that make the "Are You All in?" idea his or mine? Or both? Or neither? And, perhaps most importantly, does it even matter? I say no, it doesn't matter, especially if the idea continues to evolve and feed other ideas like this one most certainly has.

Which brings me to the main point of this ramble. What does it mean to be original? Do you have to come up with an idea, a product, a phrase, a song so completely new that no one anywhere has ever thought about it? Is that even possible? Or, do you just have to find a new way to arrange the words or the pieces or even invent a new use for it?

Marketing and advertising are all collaboration - just like the creation of music. There's not a single recording artist out there today that doesn't have another's "sound" threaded through his/her "original" works. Inspiration surrounds us every day - it is the blending of the sights, sounds, smells and feelings all around us, continually weaving the very fabric of our lives. In fact, each and every training session at our facility is founded on science of the body and of movement that came from other very smart people long before our turf floor was installed. This science blended with each trainer's personal style and favorite movements and methods has helped us to create something unique in our area. Just because it's a remix of sorts doesn't make us any less effective as coaches. Quite the opposite, actually. Some food for thought.




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Progress Continues

Hey everyone, I wanted to pop in and give you all a brief update on how Whitney's doing. While we haven't weighed in again, she reported that when shopping in Maine with a friend a couple of weeks ago, she was able to buy shirts a couple of sizes smaller than she had been wearing. I can attest to this because one of her (former) favorite workout t-shirts was hanging on her like a moo-moo. She's doing amazing!

While on the same trip, she was also able to bike for miles on end through the New Hampshire hills on a BEACH CRUISER no less. She was able to hike and keep up with her friend who she had been visiting who is some kind of nutsy outdoor adventure type.

Her workouts are increasing in intensity every week. She's up to five 3-minute rounds hitting the heavy bag while carrying on a broken conversation - and that's at the end of our workouts! Additionally, she's looking forward to attending her college reunion next month and playing in the alumni soccer game which she's forgone the past few years because she just couldn't play due to her weight and de-conditioning.

I have really grown to look forward to our training sessions. We have great conversations and a lot of laughs, all while working out together.

Stay tuned for more updates and maybe some pics from her alumni weekend if she's willing to share ;)




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

If your child is a youth athlete, read this


Is your youth athlete at risk?
I'm going to take some time to discuss something that I had been peripherally aware of up until I watched the documentary titled "Head Games" (available now on Netflix) about athletes and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a progressive, degenerative brain disease that you and your child cannot afford to ignore. Previously known as Dementia Puglistica (DP), the disease was originally diagnosed in those involved in boxing and is caused by repeated blows to the head. This includes concussive and sub-concussive events. Meaning, whether or not you or your child has ever been diagnosed with a concussion, you may be at risk for CTE.

Have your or your child ever been involved in a collision and reported seeing stars? Have you or your child ever been hit in the head and blacked out? Have you ever said things got "fuzzy" after a collision? If so, you have suffered a concussive or sub-concussive event.

Depending on the sport, the risk and frequency of suffering blows to the head can increase exponentially. Today, athletes in contact sports such as football, hockey, lacrosse, MMA, boxing, and, yes, even soccer, are reporting more and more concussions. Are they happening more often? Probably not. What seems to be happening is that the awareness regarding CTE by the sports organizers and the general public is increasing after a number of very high profile elite athletes committed suicide and/or murder in what seemed at first like random events. Scientists, however, have diagnosed many of these athletes, including NFL legend Junior Seau, with CTE after autopsy - and it's not just long-time NFL veterans who are suffering.

Scientists, researchers and player safety advocates are trying to raise awareness that the damage done to our children during their first 10 years in their sport is putting them at risk for CTE and related brain disease later in life.

Did you know that the only football league in this country to limit full-contact practices is the NFL? Here we have a thousand elite athletes, in prime physical condition, and they're only allowed to hit one another once a week (not including game day). Yet, we suit up our 8 year olds in helmets that are too heavy for their underdeveloped neck musculature 4-5 times a week for full-contact practices?

Concussions are bad, we all know that. What many people don't know is that all of those seemingly small hits our kids take to the head every day in practice are adding up and youth athletes, in general, are more vulnerable to the effects. It's being reported that sub-concussive hits may be as damaging as diagnosed concussions, and football players are not the only athletes at risk.

Girls' soccer players, in fact, are reporting more and more concussive and sub-concussive events.
"The American Journal of Sports Medicine studied the rate of concussions in high school athletics from 2008 through 2010...Of the 1,936 reported concussions during the study, 47 percent were suffered playing or practicing football. No. 2 on the list: girls soccer, at 8.2 percent."
So what do we, as parents, do? Do we stop our kids from playing the sports they love or is there a way to make their play safer? Advocates are working hard to introduce legislation that will help better protect our youth athletes and, according to this article, every state but one has already enacted bills to help get kids off the field at the first sign of head trauma and prevent them from returning to play until they have fully recovered.

Yet, like all legislation, the actual implementation and enforcement may not be consistent. As parents and care givers, it it our responsibility to be in tune with our children and speak out for their safety and protection. I know it's hard to tell your kids they can't go back into the game, but it's not the parent's job to always be liked. It's our job to protect first. If you see your child suffer a blow to the head or if they are involved in any kind of collision and are slow to get up or just don't seem themselves - TAKE THEM OUT. I don't care what the coach or other parents say. This is YOUR child/children we are talking about.

If your child is complaining of chronic headaches or suffering mood swings, inability to fall asleep or even cognitive/memory problems, remove them from play and have them checked out by a neurologist. Researchers are still learning about CTE and have yet to find a cure or treatments at this time. Your best defense is through prevention. Kids will get knocked around - and that's the name of the game, so to speak. But allowing them to return to play before they are ready can cause irreparable, irreversible damage.


*Please take the time to explore the linked articles. CTE is a serious disease that can be prevented through awareness.

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