3 Hidden Hurdles to Peak Athletic Performance

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

Going Beyond the Obvious…

As an athlete, you know the basics to become lean and toned. Eat plenty of protein, high-fiber foods, and healthy fat. Get the nutrients your body demands for peak performance. Incorporate the right exercise and constantly mix things up so you don’t stagnate, or increase your chance of injury.

What many sports minded families and athletes often overlook, however, can seriously stall their game both on and off the field. Over my years working with both student and adult athletes (as well as non-athletes), I’ve pinpointed several hurdles that can be the deciding factor between not just first and second place, but more importantly energy, recovery and for student athletes, optimal performance in school; even when you’re doing everything else correctly. If you’re pushing yourself hard yet not making the gains (or losses) you’d like, consider these three hurdles as suspect:

Hurdle #1: Insufficient Sleep

Hurdles lined up on a track, fading focus.Recovery is a vital yet undervalued aspect of peak performance. Nowhere does that factor in more than with sleep to allow your body to repair, facilitate optimal protein synthesis, and maintain your hard-earned muscle. A good night’s sleep is like charging your iPhone to 100%. If you only charge it halfway, the battery probably won’t hold up the following day.

You’ve likely suffered the after-effects of a bad night’s sleep in school, during practice, at work or at the gym the following morning.

That sleep-deprived grogginess is hard to recover from throughout the day. You can barely get through a ‘normal’ gym or on the field training session, you snap at a friend or family member, simple chores become nightmarish obstacles, and/or you find yourself craving foods you don’t normally indulge in like caffeine-loaded drinks, sugary sweets or endless handfuls of chips. The body is smart! It knows how to get a quick pick-me-up when asked to perform even when tired, it drives you towards sugar and caffeine to get a quick spike of energy…but this energy generally doesn’t last long…so back for more junk you go…unless you get what the body really needs – REST.

Many of these miseries stem from out-of-whack hormones. Studies show, for instance, that lack of sleep can create insulin resistance leading to diabetes and obesity [1]. Or more specifically, in the short term for athletes, this could mean the inability to use and store fuel appropriately.

Insulin stores glucose (sugar) as glycogen in your muscle cells after a workout. Except over time, when you don’t sleep, those muscle cells become more insulin resistant, unable to heed this hormones call so that excess sugar gets stored as fat.

Other hormones follow suit. Leptin, for instance, tells your brain to stop eating. Inadequate sleep means your brain doesn’t always get the message (also called leptin resistance), so a few tablespoons of almond butter become half the jar. Too little sleep also increases your hunger hormone ghrelin. That’s one reason you find yourself eating more after a terrible night’s sleep.

Then there’s growth hormone, the beloved fountain-of-youth hormone that among its duties boosts muscle and aids in recovery and healing while keeping you lean and energetic. Your body makes the most growth hormone during deep sleep. Light sleepers and people who aren’t sleeping enough probably aren’t making sufficient amounts of this crucial hormone.

I could continue with other hormones, but you get the point: Even one night of bad sleep (you don’t fall asleep quickly, you toss and turn and get up to use the restroom and you don’t wake up feeling rested) can knock you out of balance, stalling performance so you don’t get the results you work so hard to attain.

Hurdle #2: Stress

Hurdles lined up on a track, fading focus.You’re probably familiar with anxiety and butterflies in your stomach with pre-game jitters. Or maybe you hit a stressful point during the game. These acute stressors can actually become beneficial as you get a powerful adrenal surge that keeps you hyper-focused.

Back in the day – going way back – adrenal hormones like adrenaline and cortisol “turned on” when a saber-tooth tiger wanted you for lunch. You ran like heck to save your life. Same deal today when you’re driving on the freeway and someone swerves in your lane. Hormones kick in, you go into hyper-alert, and you prevent what could have been a terrible accident.

Problem is, these hormones weren’t always meant to be “on.” Your body doesn’t know the difference between perceived and real threats, so for some people it keeps those adrenal hormones jacked up when they should be in the “off” position. Permanently amped-up adrenal glands lead to adrenal burnout, fatigue, compromised immunity, injuries, and other problems that stall your game.

So while, say, cortisol can give you that extra boost during your game, keeping it elevated all day breaks down muscle, can store fat and leave you feeling like you never can get enough rest and recovery.

Modern-day school, workplace and home stressors can keep stress hormones chronically elevated. What about training and competition? Over-training in general and chronic endurance training, in particular, can create the perfect storm of physiologic stress, a surefire recipe for overuse injury, fatigue and burnout.

Hurdle #3: Digestive Problems

Hurdles lined up on a track, fading focus.You likely know someone with a peanut or maybe tree nut allergy. One bite can send that person into anaphylactic shock and potentially even kill them.

Food intolerances creep in more subtly: They won’t kill you, but they can inflict misery and totally wreck your game. Take gluten. I’m thrilled to see more athletes, such as Dana Vollmer, who won her first gold medal and set a new world record for the 100-meter butterfly at the 2012 London Olympics, come out as gluten-free [2].

Other food intolerances include soy, corn, and as many of my clients discover dairy and eggs. The same foods many people see as healthy ironically put your immune system on hyper-alert and trigger inflammation, leading to pain and achiness that is every athlete’s nightmare.

As your gut wall takes a hit (from over training, antibiotic use and exposure to infections), the normally super tight gut wall barrier becomes a bit ‘leaky’. Food is not digested down to its smallest components; food particles ‘leak’ outside of the digestion system in larger than normal pieces and the body (in an attempt to protect itself from this ‘foreigner’) attacks via the immune system. It’s not ‘normal’ to have an immune response to the food you are eating unless it’s highly contaminated with bacteria. Repeat this reaction daily, even multiple times per day and you’ve got the makings of feeling like you are sick…achy, sore, rashy, bloated, heavy, unclear…and tired! Not a recipe for success in school, at work or on the training field.

Highly reactive foods like soy and gluten can create leaky gut and other gut issues. So can pain medications, over-use of antibiotics, chronic stress, and over-training as mentioned above.

Common symptoms of food intolerances include bloating, fatigue, headaches, mental fogginess, and moodiness. Gas, running to the bathroom and other uncomfortable issues after a meal are not normal, nor are they always innocuous. They could be red flags for serious digestive issues.

How to Clear the Hurdles

Let’s be clear up front. There are no quick fixes for these issues, especially if you’ve struggled for years. Getting optimal sleep, reducing stress and healing your gut take time. If you suspect any of these issues are stalling your performance, taking the time to correct them will repay dividends down the road.

If you struggle with insomnia or a severely compromised gut, I would suggest working with an integrative practitioner (like myself) to relieve these symptoms, since correcting them could sometimes require trial and error, and a professional can guide you in the right direction and actually save you money in the long run.

I spend a few months working with my clients with these three issues. Among my strategies for them included:

  • Power Down and Aim for 8+ Hours of Sleep Every Night                                     I say aim because life happens. Slowly add 15-30 minutes sleep to the evening or morning time to work towards getting 8 (kids and teens need more like 10); to restore hormonal levels and optimize recovery and repair. Power down – turn off laptops, cell phones, tablets at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from these devices keeps the brain stimulated…so does checking emails and watching movies. If you are still having trouble falling asleep consider adding Magnesium in a chelated form before bed (I use Thorne Research Magnesium Citramate). You can also consider GABA (I like Thorne Research PharmaGABA 250) if you feel you have trouble turning your brain off at bedtime.
  • Balance ‘Stress’                                                                                                         This is often easier said then done especially for an athlete that has to train 2+ hours per day for his/her sport in addition to working or going to school for 8 hours per day. Sleep is often the only stress antidote athletes and students may have. I challenge my clients to think about what is ‘fun’ to them, what takes their mind off things that might be stressful to them. We work to schedule a couple of these fun things in weekly. It could be going to a movie, hanging out with a particular friend of family member that makes them laugh, having quiet time alone to read, taking a bath, getting a message. Whatever it is, the body needs some down time for hormonal recovery and general well being. Find your ‘happy place’ and go there often to help with stress.
  • Pull the Highly Reactive Foods                                                                                 While a food intolerance test can pinpoint specific sensitivities, I’ve found that pulling the “biggies” – dairy, soy, eggs and gluten – benefit nearly everyone. Most people eat these foods at every meal, removing requires planning for replacements, so do it one at a time. You will generally notice within a week or two improvements in energy, clarity, pain levels, sleep, digestive health and/or weight maintenance if you are reacting to one or more of these foods. Here are some swaps to consider if you plan to pull one or more of these foods:                       Swap dairy for unsweetened coconut and almond milk products, vinaigrette instead of creamy dressings, coconut yogurt instead of cows yogurt and broth soups instead of creamy soups*                                                                                 Swap eggs for turkey sausage or bacon at breakfast or any other protein source     Swap gluten for veggies like sweet potatoes and gluten free grain like brown rice, quinoa and/or gluten free pasta if necessary.                                                     Swap soy milk for the dairy suggestions above. Remove all fake soy foods like soy burgers etc. and use real nuts instead of soy nuts. Also don’t be afraid of soy lecithin, this is generally not an issue for those with a soy sensitivity.                         * For those who choose to go dairy free long term, be mindful of eating other calcium rich food sources (salmon, sardines, almonds, broccoli etc.) daily in addition to taking a well absorbed calcium vitamin source is prudent.

 

References:

[1] Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16227462

[2] http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Gluten-Free-Dana-Vollmer-164310186.html

 

© 2014 Lane Consulting www.JillLane.com

Shoelaces, Spirals and Spinach: Why Teaching Your Child to Cook is as Important as Teaching Them to Tie Their Shoe, or Throw a Spiral

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

How else are they (your kiddos) going to be healthy unless they learn to both identify healthy food and then prepare it for themselves and eventually for their family and friends?

I was nodding my head in agreement reading a Time Magazine article just recently entitled How To Eat Now with the tag line “Bestselling food writer Mark Bittman wants you to stay in and eat at home because it’s good for you, it’s good for your family – and it’s far easier than you think.” (1) All I could say was Amen!

In this article Mark showcases the multiple food channels we have running 24/7 with celebrity chefs making beautiful, photo worthy entrees, side dishes and beverages…they even teach us how to make these things step by step…but as a whole, he argues, we are not cooking more. Full disclosure, my 7 year old stumbled upon the YouTube show Nerdy Nummies and now knows exactly what free range eggs are – so there are some positive effects of watching cooking shows…just don’t buy takeout more often than not and settle in to The Food Network…seems like an oxymoron?

Family in the kitchenMeal prep as a family affair not only teaches kids about cooking, it equips them with valuable skills, promoting lifelong health and self-sufficiency. What’s more, eating together strengthens communication and tightens bonds. According to a study by Columbia’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teens who eat with their families 5 or more times per week claim to enjoy better relationships with their parents and are less likely to drink and do drugs.“ (2)

I don’t know many parents of teens (athlete or not) who wouldn’t welcome a hearty, conflict free conversation over a family meal in which most of the family was part of the prep.

What if you (the parent) don’t know how to cook? Well if you don’t want to learn then send your kiddo to the house of someone you know and trust that does like to cook (aunt, cousin, grandparent, fellow teammate or neighbor) and ask them to help. Most of us know someone who loves to cook, is good at it and would love to share their love. You’d get them a coach or tutor to learn a skill they were not mastering, why treat cooking with any less importance?

I’ve seen first hand in group classes I’ve taught that once armed with some simple instructions and guidance, children (teen athletes especially) take the reigns on meals, especially ones they are preparing for themselves, like at breakfast or lunch.

Benefits of learning to cook are many; confidence, bonding, health, improved performance in sport and school (if what is being prepared is ‘healthy’).

WebMD had this list of benefits to share… (3)

Some Short-Term Benefits:

  • It encourages kids to try healthy foods.
  • Kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family.
  • Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
  • Parents get to spend quality time with their kids.
  • Kids aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking.
  • Kids generally aren’t eating junk food when they’re cooking a meal at home.

Some Long-Term Benefits:

  • Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their lives.
  • Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as adults.
  • Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
  • Kids who cook with their parents may even be less likely to abuse drugs.

So when/how should you start? Here’s another great list from the same WebMD article titled “Why it’s so important to spend time in the kitchen with your children — and how you can get started” (3)

Under 5 Years Old:

  • Scrub, dip, tear, break, and snap (for example, snapping the ends off green beans)
  • Shake, spread, and cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter
  • Peel (some items), roll, juice, and mash
  • Remove husks from corn
  • Wash vegetables in a colander
  • Measure and pour some ingredients
  • Hand mix

8-10 Year Olds:

Everything listed above, plus some more advanced duties, such as…

  • Cracking and separating eggs (I started this one much earlier)
  • Reading some recipes by themselves
  • Inventing their own easy-to-fix recipes
  • Using the electric mixer (with adult supervision if needed)
  • Stirring food over the stove (with adult supervision if needed)
  • Using and reading a candy thermometer (with adult supervision if needed)
  • Operating a can opener or food processor with safety features
  • Grating cheese
  • Cutting vegetables, fruits, etc. (using a plastic knife or dinner knife)

According to a British Study “Children who learn to cook before the age of eight are 50% more likely to have healthy diet.” (4)

The Children’s Food Trust carried out a study by surveying children aged up to 16 years old and looked into the long-term effects of learning to cook from a young age. Rob Rees, of the Children’s Food Trust, said: “There has never been a more critical time to focus on getting kids cooking. It’s vital we equip future generations with the skills and knowledge to make good nutritional choices and this begins with getting them cooking”

The authors of this article mentioned how children couldn’t identify certain vegetables from one another and were a bit competitive in their comparisons of their children with those of others European neighbors stating, “British children begin acquiring culinary skills much later than youngsters from around Europe. Children in countries like France and Germany tend to start experimenting with cooking at the age of 7 – 2 years before those from the UK.”  I wonder where the United States would stack up?

These are some items I’m working on teaching my 2 oldest children (ages 5 and 7):

  • Cracking an egg (they’ve got this down from an all out smash to the delicate tap and pull open)
  • Washing veggies
  • Cutting veggies (reserved for my 7 year old right now)
  • Pouring and adding measured ingredients to recipes (olive oil, flour, oatmeal, rice)

How about this week you think of 3 ways that you and your children can be involved in the kitchen (microwave cooking does not count). Maybe it’s just some food identification. Could your child identify spinach from lettuce or Avocado from squash? Can they slice an avocado with a butter knife or can they start this week by washing the spinach in the colander to help with dinner prep? It can start with those easy tasks, with an effect spanning their lifetime.

Healthy Cooking_35294476

References:

  1. Time Magazine October 20, 2014 VOL 184, NO. 15 2014 Page 50 http://time.com/3483888/the-truth-about-home-cooking/
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/26/swensson.kids.cooking/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/cooking-with-your-children
  4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/10024945/Children-who-learn-to-cook-before-age-of-eight-50pc-more-likely-to-have-healthy-diet.html

 

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

Immune Health: Do You Have a Good Game Plan?

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com – See more at: www.JillLane.com

Our immune system has ‘game’ as long as we provide the best possible playing field for it to execute its game plan on. To tell you the truth, we can be doing a cruddy job of taking care of ourselves and our immune system will still go to bat for us! Lucky us! But will its effort still be 100% is the question?

 

Immune Function 101 Time to Plan

This is by far not a complete overview, but it’s enough to understand what’s going on and who’s doing what.

We have 2 basic ‘sides’ to our immune system: innate and acquired.

Innate (natural) immunity is so named because it is present at birth and does not have to be learned through exposure to an invader. It thus provides an immediate response to foreign invaders.(1) Some of our innate immunity is passed from mom to baby during the first 3 months of nursing – making those first 3 months critical for immune health establishment in a baby.

Acquired immunity, is just that. Once you’ve been exposed to an invader for the first time (think chicken pox), your body creates a defense against it and then has the capability to ‘remember’ chicken pox (acquires a memory) or that invader so that if exposed again, your chance of falling to infection/illness because of that invader is greatly reduced or even eliminated.

The white blood cells involved in innate immunity (all with different functions) are: (1)

  • Monocytes (which develop into macrophages)
  • Neutrophils
  • Eosinophils
  • Basophils
  • T Cells (mature in thymus gland)
  • B Cells (mature in bone marrow)
  • Natural Killer Cells (also called NK or K cells)
  • There are also dendritic cells and the complement system – that’s a big army!

I’m going to highlight a few:

NK Cells – This we should know. These are our cancer fighters. NK cells are also critical for the control of certain infections, particularly viral infections.

T Cells – Remember/recognize germs (by their surface antigens) from the past and attack them if exposed again, help with identity, produce cytokines (inflammatory markers) to alert rest of system or takes out invader all together.

B Cells – Produce antibodies which attach to outside (antigen) part of invader and call attention from other parts of the immune system.

Phagocytes/Macrophages – Engulf (surround and dissolve) foreign invaders.

 

Could You be Doing Something to Diminish the Effect of Your Immune System?

Let’s take a role call of habits or conditions which could be effecting your immune system negatively:

* Lack of Restful, Complete Sleep

* Food Sensitivities (An immune system stressor itself within the digestive track)

* Exposure to Daily Toxins (Especially in work place/home)

* Inflammation from Fat Cells and Other Chronic Conditions

* Chronic Stress

* Over-Training/Exercising

Uh-oh, now what? Install the…

7 Step Immune Game Plan  

1) EAT: Veges_3192459The following foods should be eaten regularly for the specific compounds within them: Fresh raw garlic, spices like turmeric and cinnamon, veggies (all and rotate through the colors), high color fruits like berries, high Vit C foods (organic bell peppers, citrus fruits…), clean lean protein, kale (worth singling out), coconut oil (MCTs and lauric acid), mushrooms (betaglucans within may help support NK cells), non-farmed raised fish, raw nuts and seeds, healthy high fiber carbs as they keep glucose in check and help fuel immune cells (esp for those who train/exrcise often and for kids/teens). Limit simple sugar intake – some research shows that simple sugar intake (sodas, juices, crackers, breads, deserts, candy) reduces phagocyte activity 30min-5 hours after ingestion.

2) REDUCE STRESS: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on immunity, according to a 2004 review of 293 studies with a total of 18,941 participants. The review suggests that while short-term exposure to stressors can rev up your immune defense, prolonged stress may wear down the immune system and increase your vulnerability to illness.(3)

3) DRINK: Water (Dehydration has many negative effects on the body including fatigue and overeating), unsweetened green tea and tulsi tea (holy basil, great to help combat stress), green juice (with little to no fruits and lite on the carrots).

4) SLEEP: You may have noticed that you’re more likely to catch a cold or other infection when you’re not getting enough sleep. A lab experiment bears this out: When students at the University of Chicago were limited to only 4 hours of sleep a night for 6 nights and then given a flu vaccine, their immune systems made only half the normal number of antibodies. Not getting enough sleep can lead to higher levels of a stress hormone (which by itself is bad for fat loss, athletic performance, heart health and brain power). Although researchers aren’t exactly sure how sleep boosts the immune system (it’s most likely from the connection to cortisol), it’s clear that getting enough – usually 7 to 9 hours for an adult (and 9-12 for children and teens) – is key for good health.

5) EXERCISE: Moderate exercise benefits the immune system(4) whereas overtraining can reduce immune cell function. Overtraining generally only occurs in those training for more then 90 minutes per day and/or in combination with incomplete, interrupted sleep; if you train at higher intensity and duration, be aware of the signs and symptoms of overtraining one of which is illness/repeated illness.

6) PREPARE: What’s that saying…if you fail to plan you plan to fail? Be proactive in putting a few things in your home, set up your natural medicine cabinet backup plan. These items either nourish particular cells or aspects of the body that help with immune function OR have been show to when taken at first sign of illness to reduce both severity and or duration of that infection.

* Vitamin C: Boosts innate iiStock_000020276263Largemmunity activity. Dose can range from 2grams to 10grams, whatever your digestive track can tolerate. Spread throughout the day. I like 2-3 grams every 3-4 hours.

Dr. Linus Pauling discovered that Vitamin C is needed by white blood cells to engulf and absorb viruses and bacteria. In fact, a white blood cell has to contain 50 times the concentration of vitamin C as would normally be found in the blood around it.(2)

* Vitamin D3: If you haven’t had your level checked by your health care practitioner, it’s time! Vitamin D3 deficiency is problematic for many areas of health, immune health being just one. Most people need a minimum of 2000-3000IU per day, many need much more than that. While fighting infection you can increase your dose (try doubling) until you are better.

* Probiotic: Because much of your immune health is either strengthened, taxed or diminished by your digestive health, keeping digestive function in tip-top shape is important. Look for dairy free, shelf stable multi strain versions of probiotics (but not too many strains as we don’t always know what all of those strains are actually doing!) You can find the probiotic I use, Probiotic Complex, here www.JillLane.com/Network or by clicking the ThorneFX banner on this page.

* Zinc: You should be getting between 15-20mg in your daily multivitamin. You can take an additional 15-30mg while you are ill or healing. You can find the multi I use here www.JillLane.com/network

* Echinacea/Astragalus: At first sign of ‘the crud’, get these two bad boys down the hatch, if it’s from a good quality product you should notice that you don’t get the ‘crud’ as bad as your friends or colleagues. I use a product called Phytogen by Thorne Research.

* Panax or Siberian Ginseng: These herbs possibly have some positive effect on NK cells, but more importantly help the body handle chronic stress. If you think you’re too busy to take it, then you most likely need it!

7. HYGIENE: Goes without saying right? Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. Go easy on the hand sanitizer, use it only when hand washing is not available and only use brands that do not have triclosan in them! When someone is sick, and after they are better, thoroughly wash all their belongings. Trash their tooth brush and replace with a new one. If toys can’t be washed, double bag in Ziploc freezer bag and freeze for 1-2 days.

Honorable Mention: Laugh often! Chiropractic! (find a good chiropractor and go at first sign of feeling bad), elderberry (for coughs), real local honey (in tea to sooth sore throat and raspy cough), olive leaf (to combat infection), Saccharomyces Boulardii (a probiotic brilliant for battling ‘tummy bugs’), oil of oregano (also great for ‘tummy bugs’ and food poisoning), berberine (wards of infection of all kinds), glutamine (for those who seem to always be getting sick, this can help to start to build up the ecosystem from the digestive track out).

Kid Specific: If you have a child that can not swallow vitamins, here are my favorite products: Thorne Research Vit D/K2 liquid, Designs for Health ImmunoBerry liquid, Thorne Research Sacro B (open cap and mix in faux milk or applesauce for tummy bugs).

Lastly our immune system fights cancer cells on a daily basis, how does it eventually evade the system and proliferate? There are many schools of thought to why this happens: Perfect storm of bad diet, toxin exposure, inflammation, stress, genetics, lack of spiritual connection? Could be any combination, and/or others not listed. One way cancer cells evade our immune system is by putting a ‘protective’ coating around themselves to prevent either identification from our immune system (NK cells) or attachment of our immune cells (T cells in particular) which then signal attack. Tricky, very, very tricky. There is one compound that has been researched to potentially reduce this effect; it’s called fermented wheat germ extract.

If you or someone in your family seems to ‘always be sick’ or always catch something if around a sick person, take inventory of the above items. Sometimes it’s an underlying digestive health issue, sometimes it’s malnutrition, and others it’s just plain stress and lack of sleep, all of which we can correct for making this cold and flu season victorious for you and or your family!

Worth Mentioning: There is such a thing as having an overactive immune system. Auto-Immune diseases are just that. Our immune system starts attacking us in some way shape or form (our thyroid, nerve tissue, joints and other tissues or glands). Almost all of the above game plan is ‘do-able’ for someone with auto-immunity. There are some additions and subtractions, like gluten and dairy and curcumin and other nutrients. See a functional medicine trained practitioner for guidance if you have or suspect an auto-immune condition.

 

References:

  1. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/immune_disorders/biology_of_the_immune_system/innate_immunity.html
  2. http://alternativehealthatlanta.com/immune-system/sugar-and-your-immune-system/
  3. Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Gregory E. Miller. “Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry.” Psychological Bulletin 2004 130(4): 601–630
  4. Chubak J, McTiernan A, Sorensen B, Wener MH, Yasui Y, Velasquez M, Wood B, Rajan KB, Wetmore CM, Potter JD, Ulrich CM. “Moderate-intensity exercise reduces the incidence of colds among postmenopausal women.” American Journal of Medicine 2006 119(11):937-42.

 

The #1 Thing My Most Successful Clients Have In Common – A Game Plan

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

Summer. Is. Over. Well at least that’s what they say when all the kids go back to school, which should almost be the case by the time you read this blog! It’s been hovering around 100 degrees here in Dallas, so while the kids are in school, the school zone lights are forcing me to slow down and the school buses are lining up, it still feels like Summer will be in full force for a much longer!

Summer is my time. I have a bit more childcare and no rush to meet a school start deadline, so I wake up and get to workout on my own time clock. Aahhh summer! The kids back to school actually forces me to get creative. My time is not my own in the morning. There are 3 kids to wake, feed, dress and get to school on time…so the early morning workout is now just a summer memory. This used to really throw me off my game! My routine was officially busted!

It’s taken me a few years to figure this out. At first I was discouraged that my summer momentum was ‘disrupted’ by a (school) schedule that I didn’t create but I soon realized, excuses don’t = success. I had to game plan accordingly.

Way to Success_19682275THREE WAYS TO SURVIVE A BLOWN GAME PLAN

1.    Set Your Non-Negotiables  

This is a lifesaver for me and something I taught to a client this past week and have taught over the holiday season for many years…I find with 3 small kids I have to just live with 2-3 non-negotiables at all times. What’s that mean? It means that if your routine is busted, your perfect game plan dissected by ‘life’ you, NO MATTER WHAT, adhere for 2-3 actions that you know keep you as close to feeling your best as possible.

For a client recently in my office the following non-negotiables were set 1) Get 4 workouts in a week 2) Only two drinks, two nights per week of alcohol and 3) Get at least 7 hours of sleep (any less and cravings and mood related issues cropped up and there were then more problems to deal with).

Mine are 1) Exercise 2) Exercise 3) Exercise. Exercise always seems to be the ‘thing’ that gets dumped when my life game plan is blown, it’s taken me too long in my life journey to figure this out. I think I’ve finally figured it out – no matter what I’ll get my exercise one way or another when life throws it’s best at me.

WHAT NON-NEGOTALBES can you set to help survive a busted routine or blown game plan?

2.     Have a Go-To Emergency Dinner Always in the Freezer:  

This is a MUST FOR ME! Good food decisions never occur when there is less then 15 minutes before dinner time, you’re rushing in the door and everyone is cranky from hunger. What healthy thing could you possibly whip up in 15-20 minutes that you know your family likes and that you’ll feel good, not guilty about?

Here’s my families EMERGENCY DINNER meal: Brown a pound and a half of either ground bison, ground turkey or grass-fed beef, heat up a jar of no sugar added organic marinara sauce, sauté a bag of frozen veggies in olive oil with salt and pepper and boil up some gluten free pasta. My kids put each in a separate bowl and ‘create’ their own concoction from the separate ingredients. This takes max 20 minutes to prep. I always have this around.

What can you keep around in case of emergency?

3.     Don’t Throw in the Towel:  

Make it Happen_34298600If you’re anything like I used to be the fact that you might lose control of your planned out schedule is enough to make you want to throw in the towel and scrap the whole day…or week! This mindset is not only the fast track to mental and physical health DESTRUCTION, it’s super stressful on the rest of your family as well. If your game plan is blown and that killer workout you were planning doesn’t happen at the scheduled time you’d been dreaming about…instead of throwing a tantrum…eating waaayy to much chocolate (yes, I’ve been there too) or both, just go to plan B. What’s Plan B…I don’t know make it up on the spot.

I recently was on my way out the door for my morning workout outside alone, it’s my sanity time both mentally and physically. 2 of my 3 kiddos begged to go with me. Don’t get me wrong I love them, but this was MY time. There was no talking them out of it and well, it was an opportunity for them to see a little of what I do when I go exercise, and why I do it. Problem was, they didn’t want to go to the soccer field and run sprints with me, they wanted to stay on the playground. Battle lost and Game Plan busted, I went to Plan B on the fly which included step ups, push ups, planks and jump squats on the playground equipment (yes there were other adults there). We all felt good when we got home – mission accomplished.

Truth is, life happens. It’s not a matter of if something is going to happen to throw you off your perfect health plan…it’s just a matter of when. In my 14+ years as a nutritionist those that are most successful have 1 thing in common, they don’t stay off their game plan very long, they fall and get right back up. They get creative with a workout or meal on the go or on the contrary, they eat a bag of chips, miss a workout, skip a meal, forget to drink water…get over it and move on…within 24 hours, maybe 48. They change the game plan as needed on the fly (or maybe just forgive themselves or others) to keep themselves looking and or feeling their best! IS THAT YOU?

This also doesn’t mean that you give yourself permission to put on the bench any other things you may be doing to keep yourself looking and feeling your best. Things like keeping a food log, eating a protein rich breakfast, not snacking and drinking plenty of water could be your non-negotiables or they could be something you can have more wiggle room with the game of life is in over-time and you are a man down…but your 3 star players, the ones you know you want in the game to give you the highest chance to ‘win’, those are the ones you keep on the field no matter what.

Most of us know 2-3 things we need to do to keep us feeling well when life busts our game plan wide open. Don’t waiver while having grace with yourself. Be prepared at home, none of us make our best decision when tired, stressed and or short on time for dinner with baby birds looking at us starving and cranky. Lastly DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT let that small inner version of you talk you into chunking the whole day just because your morning workout plan was busted up by a kid with diarrhea or a conference call that went long. 

Way to Success_19682275

 

EXCUSES DO NOT = RESULTS

REPETITION = RESULTS

 

 

See you next time!

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

7 All-Star Foods for Athletes of Any Age or Sport

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

Her question came from left field and I wasn’t immediately prepared to answer. A popular fitness and nutrition podcaster was interviewing me about how athletes could stay in peak form at any age.

“If you had to pick what 7 foods every athlete, regardless of age, should incorporate into his or her diet regularly, what would they be?” she asked.

I love these questions, except I had never really thought about narrowing it down to just 7?! Funny how I could go on and on for 45 minutes about respiratory capacity and the absorbability of different forms of amino acids and all sorts of other complex science based physiology, yet I couldn’t answer something so simple as to what my top foods would be.

After my interview, I wrote down what I said and it’s pretty much what I’d stick to…hence this blog! I think these are practical, versatile, easily accessible foods.

7 All-Star Foods for Athletes of Any Age or Sport:

1.     Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds

Loaded with amino acids, healthy fats, and fiber, I’m a big fan of nuts and seeds for super-busy athletes. I chose these two because they pack amazing nutrient density and provide versatility in salads or as snacks. Pumpkin seeds are especially rich in magnesium and zinc, two minerals crucial for peak performance. According to Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, roasted pumpkin seeds have more nutrients, fiber, and protein, plus they just taste way better. Almonds get all the glory, but walnuts provide the highest amount of omega 3 fatty acids in any nut. Because omega 3s can easily become rancid, buy raw walnuts fresh and keep them in the freezer. (BTW, Jonny’s book is a must have for your health library, packed with great info on tons of foods, it’s a go-to resource for me).

Training Tip: I use nuts and seeds when my athletes are in need of gaining ‘healthy’ weight or if they tend to lose weight quickly from high volume training.  That being said, some athletes (and non-athletes for that matter) can have issues with fast fat weight gain (watch for my Hidden Hurdles to Success blog later this summer on why this is), if that’s that case for you then monitoring the amount of these calorie rich super stars you eat per day is a must!

2.     Grass-Fed Beef

Beef provides an excellent source of iron and other nutrients as well as highly absorbable amino acids. Quality becomes key here. Grass-fed cows yield more nutrient-dense beef than grain-fed cows. Besides being richer in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, a study at Clemson University found grass-fed beef higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that studies show can curb belly fat and even fight cancer. Kids love grass-fed beef sliders on gluten-free buns or atop sautéed spinach. Trust me: Spend the few extra bucks on grass-fed ground beef rather than grain-fed, even if you’re on a super-tight budget.

Training Tip: My athletes excel when eating a grass-fed beef hash with All-Star food #3 mixed in for breakfast.  Watch my free videos to figure out your dose of protein and you’ll be well on your way to a proper fuel up!

3.     Sweet Potatoes

I often talk about increased oxidative stress among athletes, and studies show active folks need more antioxidants to combat that oxidative stress. A rock star among unprocessed carbs, sweet potatoes come loaded with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants like beta-carotene. Because they’re easy to digest, sweet potatoes make an excellent post-workout meal paired with high-quality protein. They also make an excellent nutrient-denser alternative to mashed potatoes.

4.     Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

Veges_3192459You know those kids who always get top marks in every class and still manage several extracurricular sports (at which they also excel)? Well, brassica veggies are those over-achievers, providing amazing benefits like isothiocyanates, a family of phytochemicals that help fight cancer. All brassica veggies get top marks, but I chose broccoli and brussels sprouts because they’re also the most popular kids in the class. Talk about making the grade: They come loaded with fiber, nutrients, eye-health carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and even a little protein. I’ve converted the most veggie-phobic child athlete by sautéing fresh broccoli with coconut oil and fresh lemon zest and roasting Brussels sprouts with olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

5.     Berries

BerriesPicking my favorite berry is like choosing my favorite kid: I refuse to because they all have unique benefits. Raspberries are highest in fiber, blueberries pack the most antioxidants, and strawberries are a nutrient-rich all-around favorite. Regardless of color, berries come loaded with fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. Sweet yet low-glycemic, berries make the perfect snack, dessert, or boost to your protein shake. My kids love frozen blueberries stirred in unsweetened Greek yogurt. Fresh or frozen, berries are among the most pesticide-ridden foods so always buy organic!

6.     Coconut Oil and Unsweetened Coconut Milk

Most coconut oil and milk benefits come from a very healthy saturated fat (no, not an oxymoron!) called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which your body metabolizes quickly for fuel. Rapid absorption means a quick energy source for athletes: Similar to glucose but without the subsequent crash. A recent study concluded MCTs are “a good choice for anyone who has increased energy needs, as following major surgery, during normal or stunted growth, to enhance athletic performance, and to counteract the decreased energy production that results from aging.” As an added bonus, MCTs contain immune-boosting lauric acid. You perform better and get sick less often using coconut oil and milk: It’s a win-win. I love cooking with coconut oil (it holds up well under high heat) and couldn’t imagine my morning protein shake without unsweetened coconut milk.

7.     Chicken

A can’t-go-wrong source of amino acids, healthy monounsaturated fat, and nutrients. Interestingly, a 6-ounce chicken breast packs more potassium – a crucial mineral often depleted when you sweat – than a banana. Talk about a versatile meat: Grill and chill it for a post-workout meal, toss in a salad for a super-simple meal, serve it as an entrée, or make healthy chicken strips “breaded” with coconut flour for your child athletes. However you serve it, remember happy chickens are healthy chickens. Make sure you buy free-range poultry fed their natural diet whenever possible.

Can you see now why choosing 7 foods proved incredibly difficult? That’s why I also want to give honorable mention to these amazing foods. Even if they didn’t land in my top 7, they’re all A-listers in my book:

  • Spinach – Another nutrient, fiber, and antioxidant powerhouse that’s incredibly versatile as a salad or side dish.
  • Gluten-Free Oatmeal – “What’s for breakfast” combined with “fast and satisfying,” simplified.
  • Wild-Caught Salmon – An excellent source of high-quality protein and anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Bison and Other Wild Game – Ditto above.
  • Organic Omega 3-Rich Eggs – An inexpensive source of nutrients, high-quality protein, and healthy fatty acids.
  • Chia Seeds – Protein, healthy fats, and fiber make these little seeds a triple-threat in your protein shake.

Okay, I’ve had my say. It’s your turn. If you had to choose 7 foods that belong in every athlete’s food repertoire, which of them I included would make your list? And more importantly, which one(s) have I not included? Share your thoughts below or on my Facebook fan page.

 

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

 

Additional Reference:

Jonny Bowden, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (Minnesota: Fair Winds, 2007).

The Best-Kept Secrets to Performing at Your Competitive Best

Guest Blog by Ultimate Performance Expert Deborah Dubree www.YourClearEdge.com

I’m curious – does any of this ever happen to you? You work hard to build your physical strength, flexibility and power. You practice your skills and techniques over and over again to be sure you are fully prepared to play your absolute best.

But then it happens. The closer it gets to game time, the more nervous you become. Suddenly negative thoughts creep in and you begin to worry. Your heart pounds, the palms of your hands begin to sweat and your body feels tight and tense.

Because of all that…you have trouble focusing on what’s most important. You start to second-guess yourself. You lose your competitive EDGE.

So what are you supposed to do? How can you regain your focus, remain calm and stay confident under pressure?

Nerves affect even the pros at game time. Whether I’m training an NFL player, pro golfer, college athlete or high school rising star – they all deal with game time nerves. And they are all looking for The EDGE. They want to up their confidence and their consistency, so they will win more often. Here are some techniques to help you focus.

The Best Kept Secrets to Performing at Your Competitive Best

To develop your competitive edge, it’s important to first understand some simple and powerful ways that your mind works and then use that to your advantage. So let me break it down for you.

This may sound silly, but I guarantee you it’s absolutely true. Your mind behaves like a five-year old. It really does. Just like a five-year old, your mind will throw a tantrum, scream at you for no reason and causes a ruckus that embarrasses you, if you let it. Or, you can learn how to ‘manage your mind’ to build and strengthen your competitive advantage. Here’s how…

Like a 5-Year Old, Your Mind Loves Shiny Objects 

Have you ever noticed how your mind darts around from one thought to the next and then the next? It acts like a little kid in a toy store when they run from one toy to the next one and then the next shiny object that catches their attention.

That’s exactly how thoughts run in and out of your mind. You lose focus on what’s most important and start worrying about all of the, “What if’s…?”

Typically it happens during the most intense part of your game or right before a critical play.  You start to worry, “I hope I don’t mess this up. I don’t want to let my team down. I can’t believe this is happening again! What if I miss? I hope we don’t lose again!” Does your mind ever sound like that?

When the shiny object syndrome hits, you lose focus and increase your chances of messing up. You lose your Competitive EDGE. 

DD at Legacy Golf Course Cropped 2One of the quickest and most effective techniques to regain your focus and snap back into reality is to ask yourself a question. Let me correct that. Ask a question that is focused on results. Here’s some examples you can customize to you and your sport…

Result Based Questions:

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a golf tournament. You’re nervous and worried. Your mind is playing tricks on you as it bounces all over the place. You’re on the 15th hole and about to make a critical shot that could put you in the lead. You’ve got to get focused NOW!

The 3-A’s to Regain Your Focus FAST

1.     Aware: The very first step is to stay aware of what’s happening. Notice that your mind is dancing all around. Don’t judge or criticize yourself. That will only make things worse. Instead, start asking yourself Results Based Questions.

 2.     Ask: A series of questions that are all based around the results you want to achieve. Here are some examples of questions you can ask and the answers you mind will provide:

What do I want to do right now? Answer: Get the ball in the hole.

Where exactly do I want the ball to land? Answer: Just off to the right and slightly above the cup?

How do I need to feel to make that happen? Answer: I need to feel calm and confident. I need to trust my skills and myself.

What can I do to feel calm and confident? Answer: I can breathe long and slow. I notice how my breathing is slowing down, my heart rate is slowing down and my confidence is rising. I feel calm.   

What can I do to trust my skills and myself? Answer: I remember the evidence of all the times I’ve made this shot in the past. I have earned the right to be here!

Use this as a model to create your own set of questions. If you play football you’re answers are going to vary, depending on the position you play. Tennis, volleyball, track and field or whichever sport you play will have its own specific set of questions. Make your questions personal to you and your sport.

3.     Appreciate: Just like a little 5-year old, we all like to be appreciated.

–   Have you ever noticed a little kid when you praise them, tell them they did a good job or that you really appreciate them? What happens next? They get a big smile on their face. They like being praised and will remember how to please you the next time.

–   Your brain does the same thing when you appreciate and praise yourself. It “lights up” and remembers to do that exact same thing again. When you praise yourself, be specific. Say something like, “I did a great job of getting my club all the way back, following through and hitting that sweet spot, while staying in balance!”

Practice these these key steps to stop the shiny object syndrome, regain your focus fast and develop your Competitive EDGE!

Learn more now by going to www.YourClearEdge.com

Deborah Dubree Logo Cropped

Deborah Dubree, Ultimate Performance Expert, Author of and Speaker: Her insights, 37-plus years of performance expertise have attracted high performing clients that include college and professional golfer, along with NFL players from: Baltimore Ravens; Green Bay Packers; Dallas Cowboys; Houston Texans; San Francisco 49ers; Cleveland Browns and more.

Practical and thought-provoking lessons are pulled from Deborah’s book, Average Is An Addiction . . . From Mediocre to Millions!  

 

Get the EDGE Now! 2-Mindsets that will Make or Break Your Game Winning Performance

Guest Blog by Ultimate Performance Expert Deborah Dubree www.YourClearEdge.com

Everybody talks about mindset, but very few really know what it means. You’ve probably heard that the key to success is a ‘winning mindset.’ That’s not true.

The fact is you need two very different mindsets to get ahead, stay ahead and ultimately win consistently. I’m talking about a Training Mindset and a Playing Mindset. Each is very different from the other.

TRAINING MINDSET

The training mindset is very analytical. It figures stuff out. You use this mindset during practice, strength and conditioning training and during your technical skills drills. Checkout the following:   

5-Key Steps of a Training Mindset

1.     Get Clear: Get very clear on the unique details of your sport and your position. The ones that are necessary to outsmart and outplay your competition. For example:

–   How can you perform faster, quicker and with greater speed?

–   What will it take for you to improve balance or have better foot placement?

–   How specific techniques will help you stay calm and confident more consistently?

–   Exactly what strength and conditioning techniques are necessary to up your game?

–   You get the picture. Name the details that are important to you and your sport.

2.     Take Action: Once you are clear about what you need to perform at your ultimate best, now it’s time to take action. It’s time to practice and train.

3.     Analyze: Without any criticism or judgment analyze your actions, techniques and training skills.

–   Compare Step 1: Get Clear  to  Step 2: The Action You Took

–   In what area do you need to improve? Even the smallest of improvements can make a huge difference in your results. When you know the answers, then you can up your game and up your consistency.

4.     Adjust: Make a plan to adjust your performance and your results.

–   Include exactly and specifically what it will take for you to make the adjustments to your performance.

–   Be sure to include the ways you will upgrade your: technique; power; confidence; clear-thinking; and strength.

–   Knowing and naming these details is very important to getting more of what you want.

5.     Act Again: Now it’s time to work your plan and act again. Upgrade what you do and how you do it. Remember, you are still in a Training Mindset. You are working things out and making improvements.

–   It’s not about how many reps you do. It’s all about how many reps you do right!

PLAYING MINDSET

DD Talking with Fabrizio

In your playing mindset, thinking is overrated. When you strategize a shot or play, you need to think. Then, stop thinking and play with your instincts.

 1.     Instincts: Why instincts? Because when you play by instinct you can think faster and with greater clarity. Your body remembers what it’s supposed to do and responds accordingly.

2.     Trust: You trust yourself, your talent and your skills.

3.     Expectations: You expect to play well and to be at your competitive best moment-to-moment. You expect to win.

4.     Zone: You can easily and quickly get into “The Zone” where you will block out your negative thoughts, the fans and any other distractions. You are focused!

5.     Evidence and Earned: You remember all of the times you’ve performed so well in the past. You realize that you have earned the right to be here, because of the hard work, dedication and commitment you have … first to your SELF and then to your team and sport.  

Knowing these two mindsets and practicing them at the right time will catapult your performance and give you the EDGE that all great athletes look for … so you can outperform and outlast your competition!

Clear Edge Logo Cropped

Learn more now by going to www.YourClearEdge.com

Deborah Dubree, Ultimate Performance Expert, Author of and Speaker: Her insights, 37 plus years of performance expertise have attracted high performing clients that include college and professional golfer, along with NFL players from: Baltimore Ravens; Green Bay Packers; Dallas Cowboys; Houston Texans; San Francisco 49ers; Cleveland Browns and more.

Practical and thought-provoking lessons are pulled from Deborah’s book, Average Is An Addiction . . . From Mediocre to Millions!  

3 Proven Strategies for Getting Your Kids (Athlete or Not) to Eat “Healthy”

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

I knew it was bad, but statistics proved worse than I imagined. Among the latest findings at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years.
  • Over the past three decades, obesity rates jumped from 7% to 18% among 6 to 11 year olds.
  • Among adolescents, that number rose from 5% to 21%.
  • In 2012, over 1/3 of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Beyond weight, asthma, allergies, and cancer have skyrocketed among kids and teens. Between 2003 and 2007, studies show parent-reported attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased an astounding 21.8% among 4 to 17 year olds. How about the stat 1 out of 3 18-24 year olds regularly consume energy drinks?

Despite what statistics show, I choose to remain optimistic. We don’t need revolutionary measures to get our kids to make healthier choices, nor do we need to become tyrants who demand they change. We just need to start in our own homes.

Truth Talk: I’m a mom too, so I understand what the challenge of getting a healthy meal on the table can be like after you’ve had a crazy day juggling work, carpooling the kids, and dealing with the minor and major glitches that inevitably arise.

Over the years, I’ve discovered 3 simple, effective strategies that can gently but effectively become the catalyst for healthy, lasting change in children, adolescents, and for us adults too:

#1 Lead by Example – And No, You Can’t Skip this Step!

They’re waaatching youuuu! This is my tough love segment (virtual hug).

I’m firm on this step. There’s NO shortcutting leading by example.

Kids absorb more than you might realize. If you’re haphazardly shoveling a bite of cookie into your mouth as you frantically search for the car keys, or talking about how busy you were that you didn’t eat lunch…again…they pick up on those examples. (I’m not judging, by the way; we’ve all had those days!)

If you want ‘little Susie’ to cut back on drinking soda, you have to cut back. If you want her to stop eating cookies all afternoon after she gets home from school…YOU (parent, health family leader, mentor and educator) have to do it too. If you want your son to start eating breakfast before school so he can have better focus during school and better energy for practice after school, make breakfast and sit down to eat it together (AKA you have to do it too, where they can see you). Sometimes with everyone’s crazy schedule at night, breakfast can become the ‘family meal’. See Step #2 for what to talk to him/her about so they’ll want to eat something remotely healthy as well.

Bottom line…no more ‘do as I say, not as I do’ when it comes to healthy habits in the family.

#2 Make it Important / Interesting to Them

Family Biking_14885647If you’re like me, you probably had a mandatory book to read in high school English class. You hated every minute of it. Yet many years later, when you reread the book, you suddenly discovered you enjoyed it.

The same logic works with eating vegetables or exercise or any healthier habit you want to encourage. Ever forced your kid to eat a green veggie or get off the couch and do something active? I’m betting the outcome didn’t go so well.

I’ve got a saner strategy that won’t spark civil war: Put the wheels in motion, but let them stumble upon that a-ha moment and think it was their idea.

Take snacking. You want them to eat apple slices with almond butter; they have chocolate chip cookies in mind. Tell them they can’t have cookies and force them to eat the nut butter-smeared apples; my bets are this won’t end well.

Instead, don’t allow the sugary stuff in the house. Or as my friend and colleague JJ Virgin always says ‘keep the enemy out of the house’. Sure, they may still eat those cookies elsewhere, but don’t make them available in your house and you’ve eliminated a major problem source.

Rather than deprivation, replace those sugary junk foods with something healthy and delicious. Herb-roasted nuts, devilled eggs made with avocado, kale chips with guacamole, and extra-thick protein shakes loaded with nut butter and cacao nibs are among my favorites.

Truth Talk: If there are cookies at my house, 90% of the time they are ones I have made with my kids out of real ingredients – I know exactly what went into them…laughs, licks and all! Moral of the story, make a higher sugar treat really worth it, make it with real ingredients from a simple recipe. Our bodies recognize that as food and it changes the game for our health.

Keep those aforementioned healthy snacks at eye level. One study found people eat more fruits and vegetables when they visibly reside nearby. You might also very subtly discuss a healthier food’s benefits, especially if your child or teen is a health-conscious athlete.

Truth Talk: Talk about the benefits of eating healthy to your kids in terms THEY CAN UNDERSTAND, or in relation to something that MEANS SOMETHING TO THEM. For example, my almost 7-year-old daughter was recently boycotting eating much protein. A quick mention of the fact that her body uses protein to help her hair and nails grow (painting her nails are a favorite weekend luxury) not only taught her something, it also got her back to eating a few bites.

Question: If your kid athlete (or yourself for that matter) knew that eating protein at breakfast with their oatmeal or fruit would help them have more energy to run faster and possibly beat out someone they have been competing against, would they be influenced to do it?  My informal studies say YES!

You have to make it worth it to them…kids as young as 4 will ‘get it’ if you present it to them in a way that means something to their sharp little brains.

Bottom line…turn it into an engaging conversation, not a lecture.

#3 Get Them Involved – You’re Gonna Win Some and Lose Some

I’ve read about parents who “plant broccoli trees” by putting raw organic broccoli in hummus. Some kids respond well to such culinary creativity. Others might roll their eyes.

Healthy Cooking_35294476Know how your kids respond to food and prepare accordingly. Have them slice veggies or set the table if they want to feel important, in charge or included. Talk with them about their day and keep the conversation light. Or maybe listen to their favorite music (even if you hate it) while they prep food for dinner with you.

If you’ve got kids in the exploring stage, hop on Google or Wikipedia to research a new vegetable or recipe.

I’m married to a chef. The first time I walked in on him giving a chopping lesson to my kids, then 6 and 4, I almost fainted!  I later realized when they were scarfing down what they chopped, the connection/ownership made via the knife! It can simply be them pouring the olive oil and seasoning onto something you are about to roast or snapping the ends off the green beans (not that fun unless there’s a race to see who can do the most!).

The point is to keep food and it’s prep fun, interesting and part of their responsibility as well. Eating healthy doesn’t mean bland chicken breast or soggy vegetables. How you approach food now will help with the way they approach food as they grow older. In the worst case, a healthy relationship with food can prevent eating disorders, which are still of high prevalence among teenage girls and even boys, especially athletes.

Bottom line…establish some of your own ‘FAMILY TEAM’ roles (like helping with prep, picking a new recipe or veggie that week) and stick to them while being flexible.

When you’re eating, eat. Be mindful and present. Your kids know when you’re uh, huh-ing them or tuning them out, so really listen. Put down your newspaper or iPad and pay attention even if your son’s rambling about something silly that happened during basketball practice today.

At the same time, don’t feel like you have to be perfect. You live in the real world, not a sitcom or a women’s magazine, and you’ll have nights where a rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies from the Whole Foods hot bar will be your only healthy meal option.

As the parent of a child or adolescent, you’ve probably got some savvy tips under your belt to implement lasting healthy changes. Share your strategies in the comment section below or on my Facebook fan page.

 

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

 

References:

Hyperlinked within this blog and accumulated through client experiences : )

 

Amino Acid Supplementation: Secret Weapon or Waste of Money?

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

I’m giving you a rare peek into my toolbox. I’ve had more then a handful of Pro Athletes (think NFL, NBA and MLB) who said they’d “tried everything” to keep weight on…“they couldn’t eat enough” they’d tell me…“I start to lose weight half way through the season, get weak and then hurt”. Cut to the chase, this is one way I help to fix that problem, for good!

First, let’s set the stage: You’re eating enough protein, so why even consider supplementing with amino acids?

Protein is hard to digest. It requires optimal levels of strong digestive acid and enzymes to thoroughly break down the protein into amino acids (more on what these are below). Simply put, protein takes time and energy to be broken down and then absorbed.

With aging, stress, chronic medication use and over-training, many people produce fewer enzymes and less stomach acid, making it more difficult to digest whole-food protein. On top of that, we do not get all the amino acids out of the protein we eat because we just aren’t that efficient, even with a well functioning digestive track, at pulling them out.

Even if you are meeting your protein requirements…age, stress, over the counter medications and over-training could be reducing the ability and efficiency of your digestive track to digest and absorb the critical amino acids. As you can see it’s a tight rope act between intake, absorption and utilization.

And liquid protein doesn’t solve this. Protein shakes are an easy way to get quick, high doses of protein, but the liquid still has to be digested into amino acids – the protein in protein shakes is not in a ready to use form.

Now imagine you are NOT eating enough protein, which is how most of my clients (athlete or not) present to me…and couple that LOW intake with a HIGH need for amino acids because of training, competition, muscle repair, new muscle production, healing from injury or surgery, mitochondrial dysfunction and/or immune deficiencies. Your body is starving and needs amino acids for all of these things and more…so it goes to get them…it begins to ‘eat itself’ by breaking down the only place we store amino acids in large quantity in the body…MUSCLE!!

You read that right, we actually in times of amino acid/protein need, breakdown our own muscle to get these amino acids…sometimes for repair of other muscle. Fascinating and unfortunate news for athletes, vegans and vegetarians, and those trying to maintain muscle mass, especially those who are ill and losing mass such as those undergoing cancer treatment.

Here’s the cool thing, amino acids require no energy or enzymes for absorption. So regardless of the health of your digestive track, or health in general, they are getting into the blood stream. That’s why a clean, well built amino acid blend (see my recommendation below) can be so powerful…strong enough to put muscle on stage 4 cancer patients who are already losing weight at rapid pace (Mediterr J Nutr Metab (2010) 3:165–172).

What Do Amino Acids Even Do?

It is easiest just to rattle off a list of the most important things:

  • signal protein synthesis (AKA grow & repair muscle)
  • signal mitochondrial biogenesis (AKA helps make more new mitochondria, which is where we make energy and burn fuel)
  • become a substrate to the Krebs Cycle, especially in times of inability to burn fat and sugar for fuel well (AKA help increase energy, especially in diabetics and those with insulin resistance)
  • aid in formation of enzymes, mood chemicals and immune support molecules

The Most Important Amino Acid for Muscle Growth

Arm MuscleLet’s go back to high school anatomy and physiology (no pop quiz, but you’ll want to remember this). If you’ll recall, protein breaks down into 20 amino acids, which are either essential or non-essential.

“Non-essential” means your body can make them from other combinations of amino acids, therefore getting these amino acids from food is helpful but not essential. Your body cannot make essential amino acids, which makes them essential to get from food or supplements.

Among their super-important roles, amino acids help build enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and lots of other important things your body needs to do its numerous jobs.

What does all this have to do with building muscle? Well, L-Leucine triggers the strongest signal or in different terms, is most responsible for protein synthesis (new muscle formation). When researchers gave rats a leucine supplement, it prevented muscle tissue breakdown by increasing muscle synthesis.

While you can supplement with leucine, you’ll more likely find it combined with isoleucine and valine, together known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) – so named because of the structure of their side chains – that comprise about 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle protein.

Leucine is the most-studied of the three BCAAs. Dr. Donald Layman, a nutrition professor at the University of Illinois, is a top researcher of higher-protein diets. Several of his studies focus specifically on leucine’s benefits.

According to Layman, leucine can help modulate insulin signaling and muscle glucose use. Leucine helps maintain muscle protein during periods of restricted energy intake, such as intermittent fasting and during high volume training days and for those who have a hard time taking in enough calories to meet their metabolic needs.

Other studies confirm this. One looked at how this amino acid affected post-exercise protein synthesis. The high-leucine group had 33% greater protein muscle protein synthesis compared to the other group. Nice.

Pea and high-quality whey protein powders contain generous amounts of leucine, but even then (like my clients) you might not be getting enough of this crucial amino acid. That’s where amino acid supplementation comes in.

BCAAs: The 3-Amigo Amino Acids 

Building Blocks_16709482Leucine, isoleucine, and valine – together known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) – make a powerful team for muscle synthesis and repair. Because leucine plays the dominant role here, you’ll find most BCAAs formulated with a 2:1:1 ratio.

Among their other benefits, BCAAs help recovery, mitochondrial support, and improve glucose control. BCAAs can also help you burn fat.

Copious research supports athletes supplementing with BCAAs. One study found because athletes should get protein intakes higher than RDA recommendations, BCAAs (especially leucine) become crucial for muscle protein synthesis.

Another found exercise increases your need for BCAAs, and that supplementing with BCAAs before and after exercise can decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and boost muscle-protein synthesis.

BCAAs can also help your body better fight fatigue and increase fat burning during exercise in glycogen-depleted subjects. They can even help boost immunity in athletes.

But there is one thing to know about BCAA use…read on…

Use a Proven Amino Acid Formula Because BCAAs Have a Limitation

I’ve long been a fan of Amino Acid Supplementation, ONLY IF it’s the right product.

Here’s What you Need to Know When Buying Amino Acids:

  • High dose, extended use of BCAAs can deplete other essential amino acids levels in the body according to World Renowned Amino Acid Expert, Italian Researcher Francesco Dioguardi. Always take a BCAA that has the essential amino acids blended, and carefully dosed, with it.
  • Most amino acids, especially BCAAs, smell and taste really bad. Think rotten meat and eggs! Most commercial supplement companies cover this up with artificial sweeteners and flavors, creating a junk food supplement!

Good news! I found THE BEST product that handles all the previous objections. It’s called Amino Complex by Thorne Research. It has the proper ratio of BCAA and essential amino acids (patented and studied for over 25 years!). There are no artificial sweeteners and it actually tastes and mixes well! The beauty of this product is that it is in powder form so titrating the dose to get desired results is easy.

Sum It Up: Amino Acid Supplementation is a Secret Weapon if the Right Product is Used

Protein is hard to breakdown and most aren’t eating enough. This leads to a need for supplementation in those populations who have greater need; athletes fit that need. Amino Complex by Thorne Research is the only amino acid blend I use and recommend. Bottom line, if used correctly it works!

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

 

References

J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2011 Jun;2(2):75-80. Epub 2011 Jun 11.
Clinical use of amino acids as dietary supplement: pros and cons.
Dioguardi FS

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21766052

 

My Top 6 Supplements for Peak Athletic Performance

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

Athletic success (for any age, skill level or sport) takes a multi-disciplined approach. Proper sleep and recovery, specific exercise and sport training along with meal planning and timing are at the foundation of any well-developed plan (athlete or not).

Athletes, especially those who train at high intensity and/or high volume, can easily fall victim to what I call the “Hidden Hurdles to Peak Sports Performance” (watch for my blog on this topic coming this summer). These hurdles include digestive distress (including but not limited to food sensitivities), poor sleep habits, overtraining and chronic adrenal stress (from overtraining, under eating and poor sleep) and immune dysfunction (from all of the above). They all are connected and can cause the other if not proactively supported.

Because of these factors, I approach sports nutrition and supplements for athletes with a focus on building a foundation with adequate metabolic protection from the hidden hurdles FIRST.

With that, here are My Top 6 Supplements for Peak Athletic Performance:

1.     Amino Complex

Thorne Amion Complex_EditedBranched chain (BCAA) and essential amino acids literally are the building blocks for lean muscle mass.  They signal both protein synthesis (the BCAA l-leucine is most responsible for this), act as substrates for the Krebs cycle and induce mitochondrial biogenesis (more mitochondria means more ATP, which means more energy). Whether you want more energy, enhanced recovery, protection of loss of lean muscle and/or more strength and power out of the muscle you currently have, or you want to add more lean muscle mass, a BCAA and essential amino acid blend is for you. [1] They are not all created equal, so read labels carefully. Amino acids notoriously taste and smell bad so watch for artificial sweeteners, sugar and other fake food additives. I use Amino Complex (AKA DaxibeQOL), a scientifically validated source with over 25 years of clinical research to back its effect. Research shows taking BCAAs alone can reduce the levels of other essential amino acids in your body, so make sure to take a cleanly sourced blend like Amino Complex or DaxibeQOL.

2.     Magnesium Citramate (or Albion Chelate)

Magnesium is easily one of the most overlooked, inexpensive sports performance aids available. An Alternative Medicine Review Monograph from 2002 states that “Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including ATP synthesis, protein synthesis, glycogen breakdown, fatty acid oxidation, and maintenance of membrane stability of the cardiovascular, neuromuscular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems”…all of which is critical for an athlete! Magnesium has been shown to aid in recovery, performance, heart health and muscle fiber contractility. Research has demonstrated that athletes who take magnesium perform better. Overtraining can place undue stress on cardiac (heart) muscle. Magnesium has been shown to protect heart muscle function and overall heart health. Most athletes (and people) need way more then they would think to take. Dosed before bed, magnesium can help with sleep (another undervalued sports performance aid). [2]

3.     Probiotic Complex

Over time I noticed a common thread in my high-mileage, high-intensity, multi-hour training athlete clients: digestive distress. A topic no athlete wants to discuss, although it can be devastating to performance. Distress can vary from gas, bloating and indigestion to diarrhea and other more serious inflammatory GI issues. Eating The Virgin Diet way for an athlete can help mitigate many of these symptoms. Additionally, most athletes will benefit from ongoing digestive support through a balanced, dairy-free, acid-resistant probiotic blend. A high percentage of our immune health resides in our digestive track; probiotics can boost gut-based immunity, which is not only great for performance, but overall health. Taken daily probiotics in athletes may also help reduce total body inflammation, not to mention if your digestive track is optimally functioning you digest and absorb all that healthy food you’re eating! [3]

4.     Elevate Adrenal Tonic

Thorne Elevate Box_EditedAthletes are some of the most stressed out people I know. How could a multi-million dollar a year athlete playing the sport he/she loves be stressed, you might wonder? Exercise and sport specific training causes, by effect of normal physiology, an increase of adrenaline and cortisol. Endurance, high-intensity and multi-hour training bouts can increase the demand of these hormones even higher. Sustained stress/adrenal hormone production can be associated with reduced performance and overtraining like effects. Many athletes are experiencing the signs and symptoms of overtraining and adrenal burden (fatigue, drop in performance, headaches, reoccurring colds/flu, drop in appetite, moodiness, loss of interest in sport, muscle pain and soreness that does not go away, elevated resting heart rate and more). I love this definition of overtraining from about.com: “Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body’s ability to recover.” Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. Without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance. Oh and don’t forget that athletes are people too; others may just simply be ‘burned out’ from other responsibilities and demands in their life. When the adrenals glands are either over or under-producing stress hormones, performance and other hormone levels like testosterone and thyroid also suffer! [4]

5.     A Multi Vitamin/Mineral/Fish Oil Combo, Specifically Thorne’s Daily Basics Packets

Athletes should always be taking a professional grade multi vitamin, mineral and antioxidant blend. The average person is rarely getting what he or she needs from their food supply due to lack of food variety and poor food quality all together. An athlete has higher needs for nutrients because he/she is pushing metabolic functions to their peak. The simple action of training and/or practicing for a sport causes free radical release, which can age us quicker, slow muscle repair and stall performance. Multi mineral blends should be free of unnecessary fillers that can impede nutrient absorption like magnesium or vegetable stearates, be free of synthetic vitamin E, have a nice dose of a variety of antioxidants and include a pure, highly concentrated omega 3 fatty acid blend.

6.     Rebound Curcumin

Athletes are always recovering from inflammation, even if they are precise about days off and proper recovery. Curcumin (the extract from turmeric) has been show in numerous studies to help support healthy inflammation pathways. Because athletes are prone to ‘over-doing’ over the counter and prescription pain meds which can wreak havoc on either the digestive track or liver or both, having a safe solution that can be used chronically with no downside is worth it’s weight in gold. Not all curcumin is created equally, as you probably figured out already, I’m picky. Curcumin is hard to absorb, don’t be fooled with those that add pepper extract essentially causing leaky gut and allowing other ‘stuff’ to get it into your system (‘stuff’ like bugs and food that aren’t digested all the way yet). That’s why I use the product mentioned above, the phytosome technology has been proven to safely enhance absorption. Enough said. P.S. Don’t waste your money on turmeric (cook with it of course), but if you want the inflammation support use curcumin. Turmeric is only 5% curcumin at best.

Honorable Mention – Extra Fish Oil Liquid for higher dosing (if my list was a top 7 which I considered changing it to, this would be my #7 for sure), L-glutamine, D-ribose, CoQ10, something for the liver if the athlete regularly takes Tylenol based pain meds and L-Carnitine if the athlete needs to also trim body fat and/or manage lactic acid better.

Want to grab some of the products I’ve mentioned above for yourself or your student athlete?  Go here www.JillLane.com/network

 

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

 

References:

[1] Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Volek JS, et al. The effects of amino acid supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance training overreaching. Metabolism 2006;55:282-291.

Solerte SB, Gazzaruso C, Bonacasa R, et al. Nutritional supplements with oral amino acid mixtures increases whole-body lean mass and insulin sensitivity in elderly subjects with sarcopenia. Am J Cardiol 2008;101:69E-77E.

[2] Ebel H, Gunther T. Magnesium metabolism: a review. J Clin Chem Biochem 1980;18:T257-270.

Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biol Trace Elem Res 2011 April;140(1):18-23. Epub 2010 March 30

Update on the Relationship Between
Magnesium and Exercise
Nielsen, F. H. and H. C. Lukaski
Magnes Res. 2006, Sep; 19(3): 180-89

[3] Relationship between gastro-intestinal complaints and endotoxemia, cytokine release and the acute phase reaction during and after a long distance triathlon in highly trained men. Clinical Science (2000) 98, 47–55 (Printed in Great Britain)

[4] Szivak TK, Hooper DR, Kupchak BK, et al. Adrenal cortical responses to high intensity, short rest, resistance exercise in men and women. J Strength Cond Res 2012 May 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Tremblay MS, Copeland JL, Van Helder W. Influence of exercise duration on post-exercise steroid hormone responses in trained males. Eur J Appl Physiol 2005:94:505-513.

Karkoulias K, Habeos I, Charokopos N, et al. Hormonal responses to marathon running in non-elite athletes. Eur J Intern Med 2008;19:598-601

Bouic PJ, Clark A, Lamprecht J, et al. The effects of B-sitosterol (BSS) and B-sitosterol glucoside (BSSG) mixture on selected immune parameters of marathon runners: inhibition of post marathon immune suppression and inflammation. Int J Sports Med 1999;20:258-262.

Disclaimer: Jill Lane is a consultant for Thorne Research