February 2014


Great question!  On one hand, sports are what get most kids active.  Rec leagues, park districts and athletic associations keep kids moving and teach them valuable skills, both physical and psychosocial.  They learn motor devlopment, strength, stamina, leadership, teamwork and all manner of other great stuff on a daily basis.  However, on the other hand, as sports progress through the levels and become more elite, they also become more inherently dangerous.  Ask any athlete who played sports even through a competitive high school level to tell you about their injury list.  I played competitive sports for over 20 years, and escaped relatively unscathed.  But my list still includes bone bruises, some fractures (digits mostly) and a couple of concussions.  That’s pretty light.  I’ve watched teammates and adversaries blow out knees and ankles, injure their backs and get knocked unconscious.  These things happen.  And what of the long-term effects?  Arthritis, lingering pains and now even with the stuff about CTE.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I owe a lot of what I am and what I have to sports.  Even high level sports.  But the fact is is that we revere elite athletes to the point of ridiculousness.  People say that “Oh, they’re getting paid to play a game.”  Just want to point out the other side, is all.  Food for thought.

So, it turns out that my 5 year old is right.  Ever since he was small, one of his favorite fruits has been lemons.  He just chomps them down, rind and all.  Well, get ready, because you are going to start seeing lemons more commonly than ever.  Lemons have been indicated, by the Sterling-Rice group,  as one of the “hot foods” of 2014.  They get that distinction for numerous reasons.  First off, they make a terrific salt substitute due to their acidity.  They have the ability to create a similar response in the taste systems, without the issues with raising fluid retention and blood pressure.  Lemons also add a depth to the flavor of foods and sauces creating a snse of satiety when we eat.  This means that we feel fuller, longer and are less prone to a “too soon” bout of eating again.  In addition, lemons help balance the body’s pH levels.  Even though they are an acidic food in nature, when the body burns them to ash, that ash is alkaline.  So they can help the body buffer and counterbalance all the acidic foods that we put into our bodies on a daily basis.  So squeeze them on your salads and in your drinks.  Zest them onto meats and desserts and blend them into your smoothies.  Lemons help keep you healthy.

lemon (1)

It gets me every time.  People who think that because they have a hobby, they know everything that there is to know about it.  I have been studying the human body and exercise science for 20 years now.  Do you know what I know?  I know that there is a lot that I don’t know.  I know that what we thought that we knew then is different now.  Because in terms of REAL advanced scientific research, the fitness field is in toddler-hood.  yet I will see exerciser after exerciser and trainer after trainer not willing to learn.  They simply want confirmation of what they THINK that they know.  Then when the answer comes back differently, they pout.  It drives me nuts.  I do my best at all times to keep up on the most current research and trends in the field, and to incorporate them into my teachings.  When there are subject matter experts in my classes, I will often consult their knowledge and opinions.  It does not make me smaller to admit that I don’t know everything.  As much as I’d like to be omnipotent and omniscient, I’m just not.  And no one else is, either.  So, if you’re on your high horse and thinking that you know it all, get on off now.  I may have a unique insight into our field.  I may know a lot of information.  But what I don’t know is a big file of stuff.  I’m still learning, and hope to be doing so for the rest of my career.  I just wish certain other people in our field felt the same.

Fitness myths.  OK, so we could write an entire BOOK on the topic.  Everything from eat fat, get fat to lifting as a kid will stunt your growth.  Silly things that somewhere along the line caught some traction and started becoming “accepted knowledge”.  So today, I’m looking for yours.  We can have some fun with this one because there is so much RIDICULOUS information out there that when you apply the logic test, you say “are you serious?!”  MY personal favorite is that women shouldn’t lift weights because they don’t want to “bulk up”.  This is a prevailing myth up to and including the publish of this article.  If I had a dollar for every time that I heard “I want to tone up, but I don’t want to get big”, I’d be writing this from my own private island, as opposed to this deep-freeze that I call home.  Lifting weights will NOT turn women into men.  You will NOT build huge bulging biceps or monstrous pecs or get a big ass.  It’s not in the cards.  The reason that guys are able to see so much more muscular growth is that they have exponentially higher levels of testosterone in their blood stream.  Testosterone is the hormone MOST responsible for muscular growth.  Now, do women have testosterone?  Yes.  Do some have more than others?  Also true.  However, no (I repeat NO) female is going to turn into Arnold no matter how much lifting you do.  What you will turn into is a stronger, more functional athlete and person overall, but who wants that?  So, what’s YOUR biggest fitness myth?  I look forward to hearing the silliness that prevails!

Fantasy vs. Reality Strong Girl

OK, part 2 of my “Pick One” series.  Today you must tell me what is your favorite HEALTHY snack food.  And why?  For me, this was a bit of a tough one.  I DO love trail mix (usually with Almonds and cashews and raisins).  Great fats, and some sweet, but ultimately, I cannot do trail mix without M&M’s (Mars bastards!), so it’s OUT as a healthy snack and just a snack.  However, that made the choice for my fave healthy snack pretty easy and obvious.  It’s homemade guacamole.  We have it in the house pretty regularly, in season or out.  If you look at guacamole, there is not a single BAD thing in it.  People will say that the avocados are high in fat, but that, as you know, is balderdash (Ha!  I got to use the word “balderdash” in a sentence).  Avocados provide us with the essential Omega-6 fatty acids that many people have out of balance.  We get so concerned about Omega-3’s that we forget about the balance that is required for the brain and body to properly function.  They are also rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate and Potassium just to name a few.  Not to mention a full 10g of dietary fiber.  Plus, if you make it like I do, it’s chock full of other stuff like fresh tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, lime and even a hint of hot pepper.  And the nice thing about it is that in season, I will grow everything except the limes and avocados myself.  Easy.  So grab a chip and dig in!  And tell me what is YOUR favorite healthy snack-time treat?

avocado

We’re going to start a small series here.  Just for fun.  I’m calling it Pick One.  What you will be presented with is a question.  Respond in comments.  I look forward to all the responses from you all.  So, we’ll start with an easy one.  The question for today is….

If you could pick ONE exercise that you could do, what would it be?

I would choose the Squat, and here’s why.  I find the squat to be one of the most functional and versatile exercises around.  First off, what else are you going to do more in your day than sit down and stand up?  It is about the most common functional movement in the history of man (next to walking).  Now, as for the exercise itself, the best part about it is the variety that you can employ with it.  Back squat, front squat, overhead, stability ball, single-leg.  The list goes on and on.  And with these different varieties, you can stress the body in so many different ways.  You can include HUGE contributions from the core muscles (front and overhead), you can work on proprioception and balance (single-leg and SB), you can even involve some upper body stuff (overhead).  So, to me, I LOVE the squat.  I like to include some form of them in my workouts each and every week.

So, if YOU could only pick ONE, what would it be?

squat-baby

Should I go vegan?  Or should I not go vegan?  Big question, right?  As you consider, the choice, consider this.  Those of you who know me, know that I am vehemently pro-meat.  If it had eyes and a mom, I’m in.  However, I’ll try to keep this less opinionated and more factual (right).

First off, consider this.  Many, not all, but many people who go vegan become deficient in both Vitamin B12 and Iron.  Both of which are found in their largest quantities in animal-based foods.  And, in the case of Iron, meat is FAR and AWAY the best and most bio-available source.  These things ARE available in plant foods, but in smaller quantities, which means that you need to eat more of them to get the same value out of them.

Second, consider this.  The biggest meat “replacement” in the vegan diet is soy-based product.  The problem is that high quantities of soy intake have been linked (not proven, but linked) to alterations in Estrogen/Testosterone balances in the body and an increased risk of certain cancers.  Also, by the time that the majority of soy products hit the consumer market, they don’t even resemble anything basic, nutritional or good.  The best sources of soy foods are Miso and Tempeh.  The rest?  Eh.

On the positive side, it does NOT have to be more expensive.  You can get good fresh foods for reasonable costs.  You WILL, however, have to become very accustomed to reading your labels and making sure that NO animal by-products or preservatives or anything like that have leaked into your food (good luck).  Overall, your food and nutrient choices become much more limited.  We lose our best sources of CERTAIN vitamins and minerals and our most complete sources of protein.  So, it’s not necessarily a WRONG choice, but a big choice.  Personally?  Never giving up bacon….I mean lets be serious.