Archive for: Sports diet

Oh My Aching…

Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel Kachmar

We just put the finishing touches on our latest project…a custom-​​built bar made out of reclaimed barn boards, posts, and a massive slab of live-​​edge pine as the bar top.  Mark can now boast that he has an official man-​​cave!  The project required a lot of mental energy and more than a few trips up and down the stairs to get it done.  In the end and by some miracle of construction and design prowess which comes naturally to neither of us, everything ended up level, plumb, and square.  No small feat when you’re dealing with 100+ year old lumber, a tile floor and unskilled labor!  The keys to our success were patience and preparation.  Those qualities rarely translate to others areas of my life especially when it comes to working out.  If you find yourself diving in too fast, you may be surprised by the latest research.

Strong Defense, Part II

(Ohio National Guard photo by Cpl. Daniel Eddy)

Like most football fans around the country, I took some time out of a busy weekend to catch some college and professional football games.  Since I married a Buckeye, please forgive the indulgence when I brag on his favorite team for a moment.  On Saturday night, the Buckeyes dominated one of their top rivals, Michigan State.  Now, the biggest challenge here is that Mark’s parents and brother are Michigan State alumnus.  Fortunately, the family enjoys healthy competition and,win or lose, everyone appreciates a good competition.  The Buckeyes knew their opponent well and despite a more seasoned challenger, this young and agile football team stuck with their game plan and executed it nearly flawlessly.  This season, it’s good to know your opponents well and have a strong plan to keep you and your immune system in the game.

Strong Defense

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Over the weekend, we experienced our first snow of the season — yikes!  While the harsh weather stripped most of the remaining leaves from our trees, we have a pear tree outside of our front windows which remains in defiance of the looming winter weather.  Despite the storms, its leaves have yet to turn and all of its fruit remains on the branches.  That proved to be a sleep wrecker last night as the blustery winds caused it to sway against the bedroom window knocking us awake at unfortunate regular intervals.  This morning it got a much-​​needed trim and hopefully a gentle nudge that it’s time to hunker down.  Like nature, we all can get a little out of sync when the seasons change especially when we’re not prepared.  Here are three simple ways to put up your best defenses against winter and beyond. 

Gut Check

Gut Check Obstacle Course

Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”?  Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.”   For those of you in combat situations or as first-​​responders, you may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”.   The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.”  Merriam-​​Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.”  It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations.  You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.  

Peak Your Performance…Now!

Kuono Paddle Series Image 1 (2)_212x124_thumb

Have you ever enjoyed a summer day that you wish would never end?  Labor Day was one of those days for us here in Maine.  Usually, by this time of the season, the crisp chill of autumn has set in and I’m reaching for my fleece.  Instead, this week has ushered in steamy, hot weather and brilliant sunshine.  So, you guessed it, I’m spending as much time as possible outdoors to soak up every ounce of warmth before it becomes a fleeting memory in a few short months.  Last week we talked about peaking your performance with a better approach to sports nutrition.  Whether you’re at the gym, on a bike, in the water or at home, this week we’ll continue to shed the light on overcoming inflammation to keep you moving. 

Sports Nutrition — A Game Changer

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)

As summer winds down, I’m noticing an interesting trend that has developed over the past few months — my pension for all things water-​​related.  From swimming to kayaking to paddle boarding, I’ve been on a mission to stay on or in the water as much as possible.  I now officially have the SUP (stand up paddle board) addiction!  Put me on the water with a paddle in my hand and I’m content for hours.  If you haven’t checked it out, SUP-​​ing is an awesome full body workout engaging your core for balance, increasing flexibility, upper & lower body strength and decreasing stress…seriously, is there anything more calming than dipping your paddle into a clear, tranquil lake or the invigorating rush of catching the surf?  My newly discovered passion has made me even more aware of how to tweak my nutrition to keep me on the water as long as possible this year. 

Crushing Cortisol

smile

Last weekend I returned to my parent’s home for a reunion with my mom’s family.  We spent our days relaxing by the lake, talking up a storm and laughing until our sides were about to split!  It took a couple of years for my mom to pull off this reunion as everyone’s schedules and circumstances were decidedly chaotic and stressful.  I’m sure my family will agree that it was one of the most fun times we’ve had together in a long while. In fact, any stress we may have carried into the weekend was quickly diminished.  When I left on Monday, everyone looked relaxed and happy.  It made me realize that stress can take its toll on all of us and yet there are simple ways we can all crush it.  

What Does It Matter?

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I am an unabashed space nerd — galaxies, black holes, matter and anti-​​matter — you name it, I’m in especially when it coms to science fiction.  From reruns of Star Trek to my ongoing obsession with the Star Wars super saga, the whole idea of “Space, the final frontier…to boldly go where no man has gone before” blows my mind.  Whether you love to geek out over sci-​​fi, or not, isn’t it fascinating to imagine space travel?  If we could get to the moon and back on the equivalent computing power of a tiny little hand-​​held calculator, imagine what we are capable of when we tap into the “strange new world(s)” between our ears!  

Focus In

cameralens

I’m a bit of a photography buff and often find myself framing out pictures in my mind when I pass by a perfect sunset or a flower in bloom.  A few years ago, my family gave me a really cool camera with a 64X zoom lens.  That kind of focus gives me all kinds of creative freedom to capture images that I may otherwise miss.  The key to a perfect shot is a steady hand and a lack of distraction.   The same is true when it comes to our mental focus and sharpness.  As we continue to delve into a healthy brain, optimizing your focus and concentration can lead to a very pretty picture indeed.

Forget Something?

Brain

Has this ever happened to you?  You’re about to walk up to a friend you’ve known for a long time and suddenly your mind goes blank.  You’ve forgotten his or her name — I’m talking deer-​​in-​​headlights blank.  While at first you are mortified and embarrassed that you’ve suffered what feels like a complete brain dump, you then begin to wonder what exactly is wrong with you.  No matter your age or health, everyone experiences a mental gap once in a while for numerous reasons.  This week I met with CogSports Group who specialize in cognitive testing for Navy SEALs, corporate leaders and sports teams.  Their focus on mental toughness got me thinking (yes, I said that) about how to keep our brains as healthy as we keep our bodies.  Over the next few weeks we’ll explore tips and tools for the proper care and feeding of your gray matter.

United We Stand

HonorGuard

I come from a family of patriots.  We all support our Veterans, our military service men and women and our country regardless of the date on the calendar or the status of world events. My grandfather is part of the Greatest Generation as a WWII Veteran. My uncles are Veterans of the Vietnam War.  I am a the spouse of a GWOT Veteran who served our country valiantly during a career that saw both peace and conflict. So, during a time when we celebrate our Nation’s birth, it seems fitting to also thank those who graciously and unselfishly support our troops, respect our flag, and serve our Veterans.  This week, while we’re spending time with family and friends,  I want to introduce you to a couple of patriots & patriotic organizations that have inspired me. 

Heal Faster, Go Farther

Fitness Center

After a couple of days soaking my foot in epson salt and sporting flip flops until the swelling diminished, my foot injury from last weekend is healing up remarkably well.  It’s a good thing, too, since my list of outdoor projects and activities is growing as long as the days are this summer.  Since I’ve never been one to rush to the doctor post-​​injury or minor accident, I hobbled to the web instead to find some home remedies and explanations for my throbbing foot pain.  While I don’t advocate that you should always seek your own medical advice especially when many sources are unreliable, there are some homegrown staples and supplies that may help heal the bumps and bruises that often accompany an active lifestyle.  

Eggsceptionally Good

Easter eggs

Easter is the one time of year that I wish I could borrow my niece & nephews to help me dye hard-​​boiled eggs, fill baskets full of plastic grass and candy, and then enjoy the simple thrill of watching them race all over the house Easter morning searching for that last illusive egg — did we hide 11 or 12?  Unfortunately, for my husband, he ends up being the one who patiently humors me while I make him do the Easter egg hunt.  This year I ran out of time to hard-​​boil the eggs so he got off easy!  Unfortunately, I’ve found myself missing the colorful bounty that typically resides in the refrigerator long after Easter Sunday.  For most people, especially those watching their fat and cholesterol, eggs are off-​​limits even during the holidays.  If that’s you, you may enjoy some news to put you on the sunny side of eggs.

Plyometrics and Vertical Jumps

Plyometrics became popular for Olympic-​​bound athletes. And many professional and elite athletes are familiar with workouts that include vertical jump training to improve their performance on the track or on the court. But you’re a soldier. Is it possible that plyometric training can provide some value for the military?

The short answer is yes. Let’s talk about what plyometrics is, and isn’t, and how you can use it to improve your performance on the battle field.

A New Superhero

Superman

I seem to be on a superhero kick lately, if you haven’t noticed already!  It’s hard to talk about Mighty Mouse one week without paying homage to Superman — a favorite of my family, by the way, as the image of this classic cartoon was born the same year as my dad.  On Krypton, Superman would have been just another kid growing up on a planet with a red sun.  According to his fictitious history, Superman’s kryptonian cells absorbed and metabolized the energy from our yellow sun giving him superpowers like leaping tall buildings, running faster than speeding bullet, and having more power than a locomotive.   Beyond that, he even possessed a super-​​human ability to heal, to repel earthly diseases with super-​​duper immunity, super intelligence and that cool x-​​ray vision thing.  Would it surprise you to know that you may be more super than you ever imagined?

The ABC’s of Getting Ripped

building muscle

Here’s a question: Is there a supplement you can take to get ripped and get better results from your workouts?

Anyone who has spent time researching fitness and athletic performance has heard about nutritional supplementation. By providing your body with additional amounts of certain natural nutrients you can promote performance, boost your immune system, and aid muscle recovery. This combo allows the body to function at a higher level. It also leads to improved workouts and muscle growth. However, it can be difficult to determine which supplements are effective. Here are some of the most popular supplements to get ripped.

Have a Heart

Heart Health Hand

Living in a rural state like Maine, it’s easy to get spoiled by the solitude.  With no traffic to speak of, nights are still and silent which makes for a perfect sleeping environment.  It also makes it easier to get startled when an errant noise jolts you out of bed with your pounding heart leading the way.  Isn’t it amazing how much we don’t think about our hard-​​working hearts until they remind us in a big way?  Since February is a month in which we celebrate the decadence of Valentine’s Day along with the prudence of heart health month, let’s find a happy medium to enjoy both!

Can Vegan Bodybuilders Win Competitions?

benefit of a vegan diet

Are Vegan Bodybuilders at a disadvantage?

Many bodybuilders may avoid vegan diets because they believe that it will prevent them from winning any bodybuilding competitions. After all, how can you possibly compete against a bunch of meat-​​eating “meat heads?” However, vegan bodybuilders say that their vegetable-​​based diet actually enhances their training program because going vegan improves their overall health and decreases fatigue. This has all sorts of beneficial side affects when you’re training!

Building Muscle without Meat or Milk

weight training

What’s up with a Vegan Bodybuilding Diet? Many people worldwide have a vegan diet. However, in other places (such as the States) becoming vegan is something new. It’s also something becoming more common, especially as specialty grocery stores pop up like Whole Foods. Even so, there are still lots of misconceptions about this diet and lifestyle.

Primarily…where’s the protein?

Troubleshooting TBI: How to Beat the Odds

helmet

As a kid, I had a propensity towards injury for some reason.  Maybe it was the daredevil in me that led to compromising predicaments which ultimately ended in scrapes, cuts and an assortment of broken bones.  I was either doing stunts on my banana-​​seated bicycle, or climbing on top of the refrigerator when inclement weather kept me from my favorite backyard tree.  While those antics served me well in adulthood — I’m not afraid to try something new — several knocks to my noggin resulted in minor concussions and one major one requiring dozens of painful stitches.  My past antics have certainly made me more aware of protecting my cranium inside and out.  Recently, there has been more attention focused on brain trauma from concussions to traumatic brain injury (TBI) especially in sports and in military service due to some alarming survivability trends.