• [constantcontactapi formid="0"]
  • 757-564-7311
  • Archive | Blog RSS feed for this section

    Healthy gift ideas for the holidays

    Here are this year’s picks:
    1. Canning starter set. Gardeners and fresh produce fans will appreciate getting a jump start on preserving next year’s bounty. Most sets include a water bath (large pot), jar lifter, funnel, jars and lids. Newer low-cost kits have nonmetal racks that can be used in kitchen stock pots. Toss in grandma’s favorite canning recipes.
    2. Food games. There are tons of trivia games out there for foodies. Check out the latest cooking edition of the legendary “letter tile” game. Don’t forget that little ones like to play with food too — search on “kitchen chemistry toys” and “play food” for gift ideas.
    3. Muffin top pan. This fun gift makes it easy way to enjoy the best part of the muffin — and keeps the serving size reasonable.
    4. Thermal totes and reusable grocery bags. Help family and friends keep food safe and be environmentally conscious when grocery shopping.
    5. Daily calendar with tear-off healthy recipes. Great for last-minute meal ideas. While you’re at it, include a recipe box so favorite recipes can be saved.
    6. Magnetic strip and spice tins with see-through tops. Fill with favorite spices. Add a favorite recipe or two.
    7. Apron or chef coat. Dressing the part can be an inspiration to get cooking. Styles vary from nostalgic aprons to professional chef coats.
    8. Frozen pop molds or makers. Fun for the whole family, these molds can be filled with pureed fruit for a healthy frozen treat.
    9. Tea mug with built-in infuser. Add herbal, green or white tea. This gift is a great way to kick the coffee habit and get more antioxidants.
    10. Gym bag. A nice new bag may provide the motivation to get back to the gym.

    Need more ideas? Here are a few from previous years: lunch tote, water bottle, pedometer, baking stone, soup tureen, steamer insert, countertop compost crock, gift baskets with whole grains, and herb seeds and pots.

    Happy holidays!

    By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.

    Comments { 0 }

    Christmas Health-busters!

    Getty

    ChristmasDiet and nutrition
    As Christmas beckons, it’s easy to lose sight of the year’s health goals. Rich food, plentiful alcohol and lack of exercise all contribute to a sluggish system, not to mention the family hazards that might fly your way. Try following these tips to minimize the physical and emotional damage.Stay off the snacks
    Around Christmas time, many of the kilos packed on are due to snacks that lie around the house. Go easy on the chocolates and nuts, they are full of kiljoules and are unnecessary when you are also enjoying large meals! As a substitute, have bowls of fruit available (grapes and berries are good) and help fill kids’ stockings with an orange or apple, too.Plan a walk
    Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean normal life has to stop completely! Build some time into your day to take some exercise, even if it’s a simple walk along the beach, a swim or a game of cricket in the backyard. Taking time out can also be helpful for avoiding family tension: if there’s a storm brewing, calm yourself down by getting out and about for 30 minutes or so.

    Bulk up on veg
    Whatever your chosen Christmas meal, max out on vegies and cut back on the meat. It doesn’t have to be dull — look up inventive ways to make a splendid salad or dress up those sprouts. As long as your vegies aren’t covered in butter or rich salad dressing, you can scoff lots without packing on too many kilos.

    Be sensitive to others
    Not everybody finds Christmas a pleasant time — be sensitive to the feelings of those around you, especially if there’s been a recent bereavement or loss. Even happy events such as the birth of a child can cause emotional havoc, so stay aware and steer clear of potentially hazardous topics.

    Don’t start on the booze too early
    Tempting though it can be to crack open the bubbly as soon as you’re dressed, save it for later in the day. When eventually you do have a drink, remember to space alcoholic beverages with soft ones, allowing your liver a chance to fight back. Don’t forget that it’s harder for your liver to metabolize alcohol when your sugar intake has been high: it prioritizes the absorption of sugar over alcohol, so if you’ve been on the chocolates all day, any alcohol will remain in your system for longer.

    Avoid the holiday binge

    Get organized!
    If you leave all your preparations to the last minute, things can get stressful. Financially, too, leaving everything until last can create a big hole in your wallet. Space everything out by writing lists and buying presents ahead of time (this will also save you cash). Buy foods that won’t go off in advance, too, such as Christmas puddings and so on.

    Choose your drinks carefully.
    If you’re watching your weight, some drinks will kill your diet. Obvious ones to look out for are creamy cocktails, but keep an eye on your intake of premixed drinks and cocktails in general. Stick to straight spirits, mixed with low-joule drinks, or wine.

    Set out expectations.
    Christmas can be a very happy time, but it can also be stressful. If your parents are separated or if you’re planning to spend the holidays with your partner’s family, make sure the other set know in good time. Disappointment often breeds resentment and the last thing you need on your hands at Christmas is a family feud. As at any other time of the year, communication is of paramount importance — hiding away from telling somebody something they won’t want to hear will only prolong the issue.

    Comments { 0 }

    Get Kids Excited to Exercise!

    With so many distractions for kids not to exercise, from video games to computers and the fattening of America taking place at an ever increasing pace, kids are more unfit than any other time in our history.

    In major studies during the last ten years, children from the ages of six to 17 scored extremely low in areas of strength, flexibility, and cardio respiratory endurance. Television watching, electronic games, and inactive parents were implicated as major sources of the lack of exercise.

    Children, teenagers, and adults need to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. However, it’s estimated that only one in three American children participate in daily physical activity. And about one-fourth of all adults and young people from the ages of 12 to 21 are getting no vigorous exercise at all.

    Kids need to learn at a young age that fitness can be fun! Children have a short attention span (20 minutes) when it comes to fitness, yet an unlimited capacity to watch the monitor or TV. Kids fatigue in a shorter time, and become both over-heated and dehydrated in a shorter time than adults. Fitness has to be fun and diverse to peak a child’s interest and turn physical activity into a “looked forward to” time of the day.

    One of the best ways to increase the overall fitness of a family is by exercising together. Variety of activity is the key to keeping all family members enjoying exercise. The older the children, the more important it becomes for exercise to be “fun”. Motivation must come from Mom and Dad through example, creative activities, and persistence. Physical activity sessions do not need to last longer than 30-45 minutes but should be scheduled on a regular basis.

    Everyone should enjoy the sessions, and they should not be rigid or competitive in nature, especially where young children are involved. Family physical activity time results in family bonding. As each family member enjoys the activities, it should become easier to schedule the sessions. One of the most important results is the teaching of good health habits that can continue for a lifetime.

    We have two children (8-10) who have been involved in fitness with us since they were 3-4. How?

    Going for walks, playing at the park, beach. Learning how to ride bikes, swimming (year round-indoor or outdoor). We purchased a mini-tramp then a larger one for the kids to bounce on, and would jump with them. Taking the kids to the gym so they could watch us exercise for short periods and then letting them use light weights at home. Rolling balls across the floor and chasing them on all fours. Now as the kids are older, they are involved in team sports (soccer and softball). We still take the dogs for walks together, and choose to take small vacations that always include swimming, biking and some walking.

    For kids to get excited about exercising, parents have to be excited. Get out and be active with your kids. Children live what they learn.

    By Mark Occhipinti

    Mark J. Occhipinti is the President of AFPA Fitness. Be sure to visit their site for more easy-to-follow fitness articles, tips, and recipes at AFPA Fitness

    Comments { 0 }

    You Are Your Best Long-term Investment

    STRESS

    Nov. 20, 2012

    A rock group whose members have an average age of about 60 is about to launch an international tour. One of the oldest coaches who just retired from professional basketball is being lured back by a prominent professional team. An aging football player with a potentially career-ending neck injury is now playing better than ever.

    It’s very simple. These professionals invest in themselves with physical therapists, nutritionists, and strength and conditioning coaches. They have made a commitment to maximizing the remaining years of their careers.So what’s the message for us mere mortals?

    They also respect their limitations. They recognize they cannot travel as much as when they were younger. They need to be more mindful of rest and the impacts of jet lag, and they need to be mindful of managing stress within reason.

    Obviously most of don’t have access to this kind of support, but there is a lesson there that is important. We need guidance from professionals. We need to look after our health. We need to recognize our limits, of course, but we needn’t close the  door to new opportunities.

    By Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

    Comments { 0 }

    What Nutritionists Order When Eating Out

    Posted on Jul 28th 2011 11:00AM by Emma Gray

    A new study has found that only 1 out of 6 diners pay attention to posted nutrition information on menus — and while some is better than none, the reality is that the each meal eaten outside of the home tacks on an average of 134 calories to your day.

    What’s worse is that even for those who are conscious of calorie counts at restaurants, another recent report analyzing foods from 42 restaurants found that nearly 1 in 5 of those numbers may actually be incorrect.So with conflicting messages, what is a health conscious dieter to do? To help you navigate your next menu, we asked four nutritionists to tell us how they order at various types of restaurants, from a pizza place to an ice cream parlor to a burger joint.

    The experts we spoke to include registered dietitians Julie Upton and Katherine Brooking, founders of AppForHealth.com, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, Toby Smithson and registered dietitian and resident nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser,” Cheryl Forberg.

    Here’s their guide to maximizing nutrients, cutting back on calories, taking healthy shortcuts and yes, even indulging in moderation.

    Burger Joint
    What Our Experts Choose:

    -I look for a veggie burger and order it without mayo. I won’t eat at a burger place if they do not offer a veggie burger or a salad with cheese (I eat cheese on my salad so that I can get protein at that meal).

    Watch out for any extra add-ons that will increase the fat and saturated fat of the meal, like mayonnaise or special cream sauces. Also watch the high-fat sides like french fries. Ordering a salad with the dressing on the side as a side dish helps you meet the recommendations of filling half of your plate with vegetables!
    – Toby Smithson, RD

    -I usually get a burger — but protein-style, without fries but with lots of veggies! Luckily I love mustard, which unlike ketchup, has no sugar. Occasionally I’ll have cheese or avocado on my burger as well. To drink, opt for water or iced tea.
    –Cheryl Forberg, RD

    Ice Cream Parlor
    What Our Experts Choose:
    -I’ll usually just take a few tastes with the tasting spoons that they usually have. If I want something more, I’ll try to have all-fruit sorbet or frozen yogurt. Once in a great while, I’ll indulge and have a scoop of rich, chocolate ice cream!
    –Cheryl Forberg, RD

    -Just go for a kid size or one-scoop serving of a more traditional flavor like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. If you go really exotic — fudgy, chunky, nutty — that just means more calories. Opt for a cone — less ice cream can fit into a cone than a cup — and cones have hardly any calories.
    –Julie Upton, RD

    -Because I have diabetes, I look for a “sugar free” ice cream or frozen yogurt. Just because it says sugar free doesn’t mean I can eat as much as I want, but it does offer less carbohydrates. –Toby Smithson, RD

    -Well, if I find myself at the ice cream parlor, I am definitely going to enjoy some ice cream! Try not to have an ice cream treat more than once every couple of weeks … even less if you are aiming to lose weight. When you do go, stick with one scoop in a regular-sized cone. And make sure you savor the experience! Skip the sundaes and heavy toppings. My favorite: Mint Choco Chip!!
    –Katherine Brooking, RD

    To keep reading this article, visit The Huffington Post’s health and wellness destination site, Healthy Living.

    Comments { 0 }

    Holiday Survival Guide

    Tips about how to survive the holidays.

    Published
    November 12, 2012
    Media: 2012 Holiday Survival Guide

    1] Plan to Race

    Sign up for a short-term goal like a Turkey Trot or a long-term one like a spring marathon. “I register for as many races as possible between October and March,” says Sharon Weiss of Miami Beach, an RW reader since 1999. “I sign up for a marathon in mid-March,” says Abby Andrews of Seaford, DE, a reader since 2010, “so the training cycle begins around the end of November.” “Last year I signed up for a winter series: Every Sunday from December through February, it was a different-distance race at a local park,” says Rebecca Young of Fairless Hills, PA, a reader since 2008. “It definitely helped pull me out of bed on the particularly cold and snowy days.”

    2] Bring the Family

    Round up all the runners (and let the slowest dictate the pace). “Since holidays are a time for family, we go running together, even though we’re all at different paces,” says Elizabeth Obaka of Sioux Falls, SD, a reader since 2006. “My husband and I have created a family tradition to go running together on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day,” says Christina Lipetzky of Sheridan, WY, a reader since 2006. “We wear Santa hats on the Christmas run. We’re spreading holiday cheer!”

    3] Don’t back off

    “I keep my mileage about the same, doing mostly easy runs with the occasional fartlek or tempo run,” says Ellie Roper of Baltimore, a reader since 2009. “The maintenance period gives me a physical and a mental break from my training without sacrificing fitness.” Winnie Clark of Peoria, AZ, a reader since 2000, finds creative ways to sneak in running: “I go for my runs at a local park immediately after work, or hit the canal area a few miles from my work.” Abby Andrews explains why: “Not only does the mileage keep off holiday pounds, it keeps at bay the blues I used to get in January and February every year.” 
    4] Run in the New Year 
    “On New Year’s Eve, my best friend and I go for a midnight run, timed with the community fireworks,” says Heather Gaines of Soldotna, AL, a reader since 1992. “I like to go for a run, think about what I’d like to accomplish in the New Year, and come home to breakfast with my family,” says Misty Gaubatz of Missoula, MT, a reader since 2011. “Isn’t a 10-K the way every year should start?” says Michael Dudley of Greenville, NH, reader since 2011.
    5] Get Out
    With proper gear and plenty of layers, it’s rarely too cold to run. “Winter is about feeling good and being outside,” says Cara Anselmo of New York City, a reader since 2002. Snow on the ground? “Cross-country skiing is a great way to improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness without wearing down muscles and joints,” says Liz Phelan of Maple Grove, MN, a reader since 2010. “I throw on the snowshoes and ‘go for a run,’” says Christina Lipetzky. “It feels more like playing!”
    6] Or GO Inside
    “My basement becomes Elliptical Nation, and I’ll go for at least half an hour a day,” says Kesha Raabe of Kearney, NE, a reader since 2011. “I use the treadmill more, mixing it up with intervals and hill workouts,” Christina Lipetzky says. “I also keep my fitness up by trying out new classes at my gym.” “The Power 90 Extreme indoor workout saved me last winter,” says Kristofer (Kris) Eveland of Tipton, IA, a reader since 2009. “Serious strength training, killer core workouts, and surprisingly tough cardio workouts—really, I was dubious, but they rocked!”
    7] Bake smart
    “I try to bake healthier treats such as cheesecake made with Neufchâtel cream cheese and a reduced-fat, crustless pumpkin pie,” says Heidi Peters of Minnetonka, MN, a reader since 2003. “I bake holiday goodies with my kiddo, but then I bring them into work for everyone else to enjoy,” says Lindsey Csepegi of Jacksonville, FL, a reader since 2006. “We get tons of sweets from my husband’s students,” says Sarah Weldy of Frankfort, KY, a reader since 2011. “We keep homemade stuff, give away boxes of chocolates, and the rest we take with us to Christmas get-togethers.”
    8] Eat first
    “Don’t skip meals to try to make up for the extra calories you’re going to eat later,” says Rebecca Young. “You’ll end up being so hungry that you’ll most likely binge on unhealthy things.” “I tell the host of a dinner party that I’m going to another party first and will eat dinner there, so I don’t overeat,” says Daniela Franco of São Paulo, Brazil, a reader since 1990.
    9] Have a Taste
    Choose one or two treats you truly love and skip the others. “A taste of something decadent might be all one needs to satisfy a craving,” says Heidi Peters. “I add small tastes of higher-calorie food if I really want it,” says Susan Linn of Pascagoula, MS, a reader since 2007. Or bring your own treats. “Take a healthy appetizer with you to a party so you have something to eat and can share with others,” says Adam Granlee of Marion, OH, a reader since 2011.
    10] Relax (A Little)
    No one can be perfect all year. So indulge—in moderation. It’s the holidays, after all! “Since I run and race hard most of the year, I like to cut myself some slack for a few weeks,” says Kimberly Cowart of South Jordan, UT, a reader since 2006. “I don’t go overboard, but I don’t beat myself up over an extra cookie.” Christina Lipetzky says, “I relax a bit, knowing my running will ramp up in the spring.”
    Join the RW Run Streak!
    Log at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. “It gets me through my high temptation period,” says Tammie Kruszczak of Hooper, NE, a reader since 2001. “It keeps me accountable and allows no excuses.” Brag about it on Twitter with the hashtag #RWRunStreak.
    Comments { 0 }

    Will Inactivity Kill Today’s Kids 5 Years Early?

    designed to move study

    Greatist News examines and explains the trends and studies making headlines in fitness, health, and happiness. Check out all the news here.

    A new study spearheaded by Nike estimates today’s 10-year-olds can expect to live roughly five years less than their parents — a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen in two centuries. The study, called Designed to Move, is an ambitious report and “action agenda” created in collaboration with more than 70 companies and organizations, meant to show the importance of sport and action in overall health.Worldwide, increasingly sedentary lifestyles combined with poor nutrition choices have led to an onslaught of obesity unlike any other in human history, and economies — along with waistlines — stand to suffer under the heavy burden of heavier people. Designed to Move hopes to curb that trend before it’s too late by reemphasizing the importance of physical activity, and maybe even redesigning our cities in the process.

    In 2010, Nike started recruiting organizations — including the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), the two other lead groups on the downloadable report — to develop an agenda to stop the obesity crisis before it’s too late. The report stands on surprisingly more ideological ground than its corporate origins might suggest. Released earlier this month, Designed to Move outlines the current worldwide trend toward inactivity and proposes sweeping reforms from local to governmental levels.

    designed to move chart

    The 120+ page report focuses on today’s youth through two main “Asks.” 1. Create early positive experiences for children and 2. Integrate physical activity into daily life. The study claims that across the globe, children are moving less than ever, which puts them at a developmental disadvantage that increases the likelihood of preventable disease. But beyond the purely physical, Designed to Move’s authors argue that because exercise increases productivity and has been tied to boosts in cognitive development, the drop in activity hurts global economies from all angles.

    Designed to Move doesn’t advocate a single regime or specific program for reforms, instead emphasizing “the effort of being physically active… rather than what is being played, the skill level or the points won or lost.” The suggestions it makes — encouraging schools and communities to get kids moving — involve increasing access to outdoor spaces and prioritizing physical education. Ironically, these are issues the world’s developed countries could have the toughest time overcoming.

    Interested in reading the whole thing? Designed to Move features some great interactive graphics and info, but the most worthwhile takeaways are buried in the second half of the full report, away from the flashy graphics and branding. If the program’s authors and fans expect this effort to become anything more than a viral flash in the pan, they’ll have to turn their impressive web campaign into real world action. If not, their efforts to get society’s youngest members active won’t move very far.

    Check out the full report — and video below, or find the author at @d_tao.

     

    Comments { 0 }

    Your Thanksgiving Help Line

    What is the average number of calories a person consumes at Thanksgiving dinner?

    By TARA PARKER-POPE

    November 20, 2012

    Evan Sung for The New York Times

    The commonly cited statistic is that the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day alone. That’s according to the Calorie Control Council, which represents the people who bring you diet foods. After thinking about how much 4,500 calories really is, I was skeptical of the claim. I decided to create a gluttonous Thanksgiving feast of traditional foods and count the calories along the way (with the help of several online calorie counters). Here’s what I found.

    Let’s start piling our plate with a generous 6-ounce serving of turkey, with the skin of course. Since dark meat has more calories, we’ll go with 4 ounces of dark meat (206 calories) and 2 ounces of white meat (93 calories). Did I mention we’re eating the crispy skin? Don’t forget the stuffing. I picked a not-so-healthy sausage stuffing (310 calories). Since it’s a holiday, let’s throw caution to the wind and eat lots of starchy, buttery foods. A dinner roll with butter (310 calories) plus two kinds of potatoes – a big serving of mashed sweet-potato casserole made with butter, brown sugar and topped with marshmallows (divide your casserole dish into 8 servings and it will be 300 calories each) plus a half-cup of mashed potatoes with butter and gravy (140 calories).

    You’re not getting full are you? Let’s add 2/3 cup green bean casserole (110 calories), a dollop of cranberry sauce (about 15 calories), and roasted brussels sprouts because our mother made us eat them (83 calories). And since we don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, we’ll take one slice each of pumpkin pie (316 calories) and pecan pie (503 calories) with generous dollops of homemade whipped cream on each slice (100 calories).

    O.K., now I feel sick. How much have I eaten? The grand total is: 2,486 calories.

    The point is I had to work pretty hard to finding enough servings of fat-laden, sugary foods to get to about 2,500 calories. Throw in a few glasses of wine, breakfast and some snacks and it’s certainly possible to binge your way to 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, but I’m not convinced it’s as common as the diet food companies would like us to believe.

    For one thing most people would have a hard time eating that much. After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea. Average stomach capacity is about 8 cups, although it can range from 4 to 12.

    The average meal takes 1 to 3 hours to leave the stomach. But a large meal can take 8 to 12 hours, depending on the quantity and fat content. Eating too much can lead to indigestion (painful) and flatulence (you probably won’t be invited back). Another reason to pace yourself and avoid a gluttonous binge is that big meals can raise the risk for heart attack, blood clots and gallbladder problems and make you a dangerous, drowsy driver on the way home.

    Bon Appetit!

    Comments { 0 }

    Good Reasons For Young Athletes to Break the Fast-Food Habit

    SEPTEMBER 14, 2012, 11:15 AM

    By SINDYA N. BHANOO
    Fast food is a popular choice for a post-game celebration.
    Mike Blake/Reuters
    Fast food is a popular choice for a post-game celebration.

    When I ran high school cross-country 14 years ago, the bus that took us to meets always stopped at a Wendy’s or McDonald’s after the event. Most of the team would order some variation of burgers, fries and a big soda. It was fast, easy and satisfying.

    Things haven’t changed much for young athletes, according to a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

    Toben Nelson, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, and his colleagues interviewed 60 parents of youth athletes, ages 6 to 13, in Minneapolis and its suburbs. They found that parents brought post-game snacks for the team that typically included such items as candy, ice cream, doughnuts, pizza, cheese puffs, chips, even something called ‘‘taco in a bag.” They also said that stopping at fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s and Dairy Queen or grabbing a hot dog and a sugary sports drink at the concession stand during a meet was the norm.

    ‘‘Generally, it’s not what you would consider healthy,” one parent told the researchers. “It’s more of the things that the kids want to eat.”

    For growing adolescents, a big meal after a tough game or race is necessary to replenish the body, said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and public health at New York University. And since they burn a lot of calories, they also need a fair amount of fat and protein.

    “They are hungry,” Dr. Nestle said. “Especially if they are adolescent boys, they need phenomenal numbers of calories.” Serious athletes, she said, are burning so much fat and so many calories that they will not gain weight from eating a couple of burgers a week. “Sure, it would be better if they ate healthier, but we have to be realistic,” she said. “Fast food isn’t poison; it just isn’t daily fare.”

    An active teenage boy requires about 3,000 calories a day, and an active teenage girl about 2,400 calories. Younger children, like those in Dr. Nelson’s study, require anywhere from 600 to 1,000 calories a day less.

    Problems can arise, though, when young athletes are taking in more calories than they are burning. Studies show that more than one in four youth sport participants are overweight, and half of youths who are obese say they participate in a sport.

    Very young athletes may be particularly prone to excess intake. “They’re not yet exercising as much, and they’re not growing as much,” Dr. Nestle said. “They don’t need to be eating every two hours.”

    And other research has shown that players spend quite a bit of time sitting on the bench during practices and games.

    “The premise of sports is not about health” and getting a good workout, said Jim Sallis, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “The premise of sports is about beating your opponent.”

    Part of the tradition in American sports is also to celebrate with food, Dr. Sallis added.

    Instead of the standard ice cream and pizza, he suggested some alternatives for snacks after games or workouts. “Maybe go to a grocery store, and everybody gets a couple pieces of fruit,” he said. “There are other ways to do it. Parents could take turns making something for the kids, or help the coach find healthy eating options.”

    Alicia Kendig, a sports dietitian for the United States Olympic Committee who works with swimmers, figure skaters and other athletes, called fruits “nature’s perfectly sized snack” and said the most important thing was to eat natural, unprocessed foods and unsaturated fats that come from foods like avocados and almonds.

    “Sports nutrition is now a competitive advantage,” she said. “If you’re eating correctly and you’re ingesting the correct nutrients, there are clear performance benefits.” Whole foods take longer to digest and keep the body full longer, she added.

    In a report published last year, Sonia Kim, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that one in four teenagers ate fruit less than once a day, and one in three ate vegetables less than once a day.

    Teenage girls should eat at least one and a half cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables each day, she said, and boys should eat two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables daily. A cup is equal to about one medium apple, a dozen baby carrots or a large tomato.

    “Fruits and vegetables are important for everyone, but especially for athletes,” Dr. Kim said.

    An athletic 15-year-old boy needs about two and a half cups of fruit and four cups of vegetables a day. An athletic girl of the same age needs two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables daily.

    Dr. Kim encouraged parents to pack healthy meals for their children so they can avoid fast food, and to leave fruit out and readily available in the kitchen. Schools and sports teams should also provide and encourage healthier options, she said, including whole grains and nuts and other healthy protein sources, like lean meats and seafood.

    For parents, the time and investment in setting a good example is worthwhile, so their young children mature into healthy, fit adults. “It will have a lifelong effect,” Dr. Kim said. “Habits formed early on track to younger adolescence and into at least young adulthood.”

    Comments { 0 }

    The Importance of Mental and Physical Maintenance

    Going for Gold

    Behind the scenes with an official physical therapist for the US national rowing team

    By Brian W. Ferrie

    Posted on: October 23, 2012
    Vol. 23 • Issue 22 • Page 16

    It has been said that rowing offers the most intense full-body workout of any sport. Whether that’s true or not is probably a matter for subjective debate, but it’s easy to see why the claim would be made. Rowing pushes muscles and bones to their limits, while revving cardiovascular systems into overdrive. The entire body acts as an engine to propel a boat across the water as fast as possible. All the while, natural conditions such as wind, cold, sleet, heat or the drenching water itself can taunt competitors. It’s a test of strength, fitness, endurance, will and commitment.

    Injuries can naturally result from such a pursuit, made all the more complicated by the traditional rowing code of suffering in silence. Pain is something to be conquered, not capitulated to. It’s part of the test. Rowers are motivated not only by proving to themselves they can overcome any obstacle, but also the fear of letting down their teammates in the boat, brothers or sisters all. So how do you convince competitors who pride themselves on being toughest of the tough that sometimes the greater good is served by getting out of the boat to rest and rehab? That’s part of the challenging job of Marc Nowak, PT, MSPT, who for more than a decade has provided physical therapy to members of US Rowing.

    Tremendous Training

    “It amazes me how much training they do, and how they can mentally and physically tolerate those levels for such a long period of time,” Nowak told ADVANCE. “For most rowers in the national team program, you’re talking about at least a quadrennium. So that’s four to six years of working out constantly, six days a week, two to three practices a day. It’s high-load, long-duration workouts. High repetitive-stress injury levels, just from the constant training. And they’re amazingly tolerant, upbeat and motivated. To be able to do that on a daily basis is tough. Particularly when injury is sustained, because they tend to downplay their injury level.”

    US Rowing is headquartered in Princeton, NJ, which is also site of the clinic where Nowak works-Sports Physical Therapy Institute (SPTI). Nowak began working for SPTI in 1992 and specifically the Princeton location in 2002. What began as a few referrals to treat both male and female national team rowers eventually grew to Nowak becoming an official physical therapist for US Rowing. Along the way, he traveled to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, 2008 Olympics in Beijing and most recently the 2012 Olympics in London to provide therapy to national team rowers. For most of the last decade, Nowak served as the only therapy provider for both the

    Archive ImageA
    Marc Nowak, PT, MSPT, an official physical therapist for US rowing, has been providing treatment to the men’s and women’s national teams for more than a decade. Here he works with Ian Silveira, a member of the national team program, at a boathouse in Princeton, NJ, where US Rowing is headquartered.

    men’s and women’s teams. However, in 2010, the men’s team moved its training operations to Chula Vista, CA, where they now receive treatment from another official team therapist, Reiko Takahashi, PT. The women’s team has maintained its training operations in Princeton, where Nowak continues to provide exclusive PT treatment.

    “If you ask a rower with a rib stress fracture what her pain level is, the truth is she basically has pain with every breath she takes, but she’ll say it’s a 4 or 5 on a scale of 1-10,” Nowak related. “The average person would say it’s a 9 or 10. So I typically need to take their pain scale and multiply it. That’s what concerns me most. Particularly for certain athletes, if they even start complaining of a problem, I’ll get them in for treatment. Because if you give that problem a week under those stress levels, it’s going to become major.”

    Rib injuries tend to be the most common that Nowak encounters among elite-level rowers. These could range from stress reactions to stress fractures. There are also thoracic spine injuries, shoulder complex issues, and lumbar spine herniations or dysfunction. Erin Cafaro, a gold medalist in both 2008 and 2012 for the US women’s eight-person boat, can speak from experience about many of these occupational hazards.

    “My first year in the program, which was 2007, I tore the quadratus lumborum in my back,” she toldADVANCE. “Then in the spring of 2008, right before the Olympics, I broke a rib. Marc was able to rehab me back into the selection process so that I made the boat for Beijing. In 2009 and 2010, I stayed pretty healthy, maintaining my back and ribs with the help of exercises from Marc. Then in 2011, a month before the World Championships, I broke two ribs – one on each side. We were racing abroad when the first one broke, so Marc wasn’t there to convince me to stop, and that’s probably why I broke the second one too.”

    When Cafaro speaks about the job Nowak has done for her, equal parts respect, admiration and amazement emanate from her words.

    “I really don’t know what I or the rest of the girls would do without Marc. I literally have his number saved in my phone as ‘The Magic Worker.’ Once they catch on with the national program, most of the girls go see Marc at his clinic at least once a week, even if they aren’t injured or out from practice, just to maintain. Because you always have a weakness cropping up. Maybe it’s your back or ribs or both. You want to make sure it doesn’t get to that degree where you have to stop training or rowing because of injury. He basically helps keep us in the game.”

    Different Strokes

    There are two distinct types of rowing – sweeping and sculling. Sweeping is how rowers are typically introduced to the sport, even if they eventually become scullers. In sweeping, the practitioner uses both hands to hold one oar, rowing on only the port or starboard side of the boat. A fellow rower sweeps on the other side to provide balance. At the international level, there are three types of sweep boats – pair (two rowers), four and eight. In sculling, meanwhile, the rower holds an oar in each hand. International scullers may compete in the single, double or quadruple event. In some competitions, there are also lightweight and heavyweight divisions for the different strokes.

    Nowak hasn’t encountered an increased frequency of injury among one rowing type compared to the other. “I’ve seen just as many injuries with scullers and sweepers,” he related. “A lot has to do with sheer training volume as much as the style of rowing. So you’ll have fatigue setting in, overtraining, overstressed tissue just due to repetition. And that will attack both rowing groups.”

    He noted, however, that injuries to sweepers are more commonly due to musculoskeletal imbalance.

    “There tends to be more asymmetry in the sweep rowers, since you’re pulling predominantly from one side. So you commonly see strains or sprains more on one side than the other. It also sets up mild, and sometimes more than mild, functional scoliosis. Because a sweep rower has been sweeping for many years. At the high school and college levels, competitors mainly sweep. In the United States, most scullers don’t start that discipline until they’re already elite as a sweep. I think people who have sculled from the beginning are a little better off since they tend to be more technically savvy and have trained both sides of their system. But it’s just not that common.”

    Nowak did say he believes female rowers are more susceptible to injury than male.

    “Particularly for rib stress injuries, you’ll see predominance with women. And also with the lightweight men, although probably to a lesser degree. I think it has to do with force and work-to-bodyweight ratio. The heavyweight men are often 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5, 200-pound-plus guys with a lot of muscle mass. The women are not as strong in the upper half of their bodies, especially the shoulders. And the lightweight men pull just as hard as the bigger guys, but they don’t have the weight or often the length to help with that. So your lever is shorter and you’re working harder. Therefore your breakdown is usually a little more frequent.”

    Male or female, lightweight or heavyweight, Nowak couldn’t speak more highly of rowers as a patient population.

    “They’re the best,” he said. “Very disciplined, educated and responsive to treatment. They want to row so they’re very motivated and encouraged to eliminate their problem, get back in the boat and compete with their teammates. They’re just an awesome group to interact with, very appreciative with a great sense of humor. I worry about them more because they won’t limit themselves until breakage. That’s their motivation level. They are elite and will take punishment you or I would not. There’s a reason why they’re out there.”

    London Calls

    Certainly Nowak’s Olympic experiences have ranked among the highlights of his involvement with US Rowing over the years. He talked to ADVANCE about his experience in England a few months ago for the 2012 Games, where he helped treat both the men’s and women’s teams.

    “London was great. The setup for rowing was wonderful and the volunteer system was amazing. Whatever help you needed, they had people there to guide you along the way. They put up tents for the rowers with exercise bikes and [ergometer] machines. We had a tent for rehab right at the water. The venue itself was beautiful and the crowd was amazing. I’ve never heard cheering for rowing before like there was in London. The Brits are very into it and the sheer crowd noise when rowers were coming to the finish line was just deafening.”

    To be part of that level of enthusiasm for the sport was exciting not only for Nowak, but also the rowers themselves. “Entering the last 500 meters with that kind of crowd, none of them had experienced it before, even at other Olympics,” Nowak added. “It was just tremendous.”

    Overall, the US men’s and women’s teams performed well, combining for three medals, with two other US boats each coming within 0.3 seconds of the podium.

    “I got to watch the events on closed-circuit TV,” Nowak related. “You stop working, run over, catch a race on TV, jump up and down and then get back to work again because there are other rowers who need treatment. It’s that kind of experience, which is very special. You’re in it and watching it, dealing with the good or bad. For the rowers, if they come back to the tent and didn’t do well, you’re trying to help with their frustrations in addition to their physical ailments. But when they do well, everything feels great to them. Nothing cures any problem better than a gold medal.”

    Brian W. Ferrie is managing editor of ADVANCE and can be reached at bferrie@advanceweb.com

    Comments { 0 }