Heeding a Coaches Advice – Youth Fitness Magazine

A mom’s point of view:

Any mother worth her salt has encouraged those around the dinner table to eat their veggies. Over-crowded schedules and extremely active children put a great deal of emphasis on the nutritional balance of our meals. I’m just as educated as the next mother when it comes to the food pyramid. I understand the value of home-cooked meals over take-out and highly processed shortcuts we can purchase at the grocery store. Knowledge withstanding, the lecture that most impacted my adult life on the value of proper nutritional guidelines came in a high school gym under the tutelage of an up-and-coming head football coach. His words helped me realize the importance of developing strong relationships with those responsible for coaching my son.

My freshman son, barely out of the equipment room with his first set of varsity football equipment, sat beside me as the room of parents and other concerned adults slowly grew quiet while the coach waited patiently for our attention. He thanked us for allowing his coaching staff to have the opportunity to work with our children. He stated that our children were our most valuable asset and that his coaching staff was aware of the worth of each child. He immediately had my attention by acknowledging the value and worth of my child, a quality I already knew was rare in most teachers and coaches. His next words impacted me even more: “Friday night football is not the most crucial moment in the big picture of high school football.”

You could have heard a pin drop. He continued, “Friday night’s outcome is most important to us because of the big … we want in the stats, but it’s about what is done the rest of the week that will make us successful on Friday night. What your son does in practice and what he puts into his mouth and into his head, and his heart, all week long will determine the level of success we can have in this program.” He followed by explaining the guidelines he expected us to implement in our home environment that could help impact his players. “Thursday night’s evening meal will sustain the player through the game as much as Friday afternoon’s snack.

A player fully hydrated on a daily basis will be immune from those sideline cramps that short-circuit performance on the field.” A review of carbohydrates and their rate of digestive impact on athletes rounded out his speech. All of us filed out of the gym better informed and thus more active members of the typical Friday Night Football craze. I lingered long enough to have a private moment with the coach and enjoyed the connection I felt with him. We were both on the same page … helping my son be the best he could be.

That night, a family meeting was called to solidify our commitment to following our coach’s guidelines. We promised each other the following:

(1) Hydration is important, not just on Friday, but all week. At lease one meal a day, we would substitute water for our usual iced tea. Our son promised to try and consume more water during practice.

(2) We would cut down on fast food. Thursday night’s meal would consist of serious nutrition; meat and veggies. Snacks after school and before practice would consist of fruit and crackers with peanut butter.

(3) Friday’s snack after school would be limited to a small amount of pasta and fruit.

So how did our nutritional changes affect our son’s entrance into high school sports? He became the fastest receiver on the team and a record-breaker in track and field. Seventeen years later, following his completion of four successful of college football and track and his continued success as an adult influencing others in the field of sports, I still find myself grateful for the coach’s advice and continue to support the high school program. The same coach continues to invest his time not only in the lives of his athletes but also in the education of parents. I challenge you to cultivate friendships with the coaching staff and other individuals that will build team efforts toward developing your athletes into the well rounded children you want them to be.

Youth Fitness Magazine | Daily Nutrition

Supporting a Young Athlete from Breakfast to Dinner

As the mother of two active athletes, I am frequently challenged to make sure my sons are properly fueled for those long days when team practices after-school keep them out of the house until the early evening. Success for a young athlete requires a well-balanced diet from breakfast, to lunch, through afternoon snacks (and practice) and dinner. What’s a mother (parent) to do?

Believe it or not, an energy-packed breakfast can go a long way. Every meal should be based around a protein, complex carbohydrates and “healthy fat,” but breakfast sets the stage for the entire day. If your goal is to send off children equipped for success, make sure to use breakfast as an energy source.

The typical American breakfast may consist of a sugary cereal, or a token bagel or muffin coupled with a synthetic fat (i.e. margarine or vegetable oil spreads). Either way, it’s packed with refined, or simple, carbohydrates. This is not the breakfast of champions— it’s the breakfast for disaster. Refined carbohydrates found in sugary cereals or non-whole grain bread products quickly break down to form glucose. Glucose enters the blood stream causing blood sugar levels to rise quickly and drop just as quick. Hence, a breakfast of this nature will cause a child to hit the wall by mid-morning. Not a great strategy for success in second period math, let alone any sporting event after school.

A healthy breakfast should include a protein, quality fat, and complex carbohydrates. The typical American breakfast consists of a token bagel or muffin, often with a synthetic fat (i.e. margarine or vegetable oil spreads). This is the breakfast for disaster. Refined carbohydrates quickly break down to form glucose. Glucose enters the blood stream causing blood sugar levels to rise quickly and then drop just as quick. Hence, a breakfast of this nature will cause a child to hit the wall by mid-morning. Not a great strategy for success in math class or any sporting event for that matter.

For a true breakfast of champions, consider eggs, oatmeal with real cream and old-fashioned butter topped with fresh berries. Add a glass of whole, preferably raw milk (I prefer from grass-fed cows), and you will provide a child with enough substance to last through the morning. Avoiding the blood sugar roller coaster is critical, as it can lead to undue stress on the adrenal glands, which are located in the endocrine system and become fully engaged when one is under physical stress, as experienced in athletic workouts. Providing a child with a balanced breakfast and lunch will ensure that they go into their after-school practices and workouts with adrenals properly nourished. Skipping breakfast or eating a sugar-based meal is like filling up a high performance vehicle with watered down 87-octane gasoline and refusing to change the oil. It’s just a matter of time before the engine wears down. Bottom line: breakfast matters if you want to succeed on the field.

But it doesn’t stop there, being able to pack a complete lunch is just as important. Sandwiches are a favorite for my sons. Start with 100 percent whole-grain bread which keeps intact the vital complex carbohydrates. Add several slices of turkey, chicken, or roast beef along with whole milk cheese for protein, topped off with a few slices of avocado which add healthy fats, and some lettuce or sprouts. In addition to a sandwich, a variety of fruits and raw vegetables are always on the lunch menu in our home. And cheese sticks or a small whole-milk yogurt can provide additional nutrition and fuel. Avoid bottled juices and stick to water throughout the day. Bottled juices generally provide no nutritional value, but plenty of simple carbohydrates in the form of sugar. The pasteurization process destroys the vitamins once naturally present in the fruits and generally, only synthetic vitamins are added back in. I often add additional trace minerals to my children’s water bottles to increase their mineral stores. Minerals are the catalyst for the body’s use of vitamins and other nutrients.

Before and after practice, it’s important for kids to have a snack that is easy to digest. If they don’t get a chance to come home before their afternoon sports schedule kicks in or they can’t get a well-balanced dinner immediately after a practice or game, a quick snack can be invaluable. For my kids I like to pack a protein bar or protein shake, but other options include:

—Almond or cashew butter and honey on whole grain bread
—Fresh and dried fruit, nuts
—Fresh or frozen fruit smoothies with flaxseed oil
—Hard-boiled eggs
—Beef, turkey, or salmon jerky
—Whole milk yogurt, whole milk, chocolate milk, raw cheeses

When a child’s physical activities are done for the day, that doesn’t mean they’re done fueling. Children should come home to a well-balanced dinner, ready and waiting. They will be ravenously hungry. As with breakfast and lunch, the meal they come home to should include protein, quality fat and complex carbohydrates. For protein, include beef, lamb, turkey, chicken or wild fish. Fats can be added to the complex carbohydrates (vegetables and grains). Wonderful and delicious fats include butter, olive oil, coconut oil, sour cream, avocados, nuts and seeds. Steamed or sautéed vegetables, as well as a beautiful raw vegetable salad should grace your dinner table every night.

The common threads of a well-balanced diet—protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats—each play a specific roll in the nutrition of children. Proteins build and restore muscle tissue, complex carbohydrates offer a quick source of energy and provide necessary minerals and vitamins and fats supply the body with long-lasting energy as well as brainpower. A well-balanced diet from breakfast to dinner will give a young athlete the nutritional tools needed for strong bones, muscles, and ligaments, as well as the mental focus to succeed in the classroom.

Kim Schuette, CN is a licensed certified nutritionist in private practice in Solana Beach, California.

Power of Sports – Youth Fitness Magazine

Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Responsible parents should realize this and accept the challenge to help their youngsters find success through proper nutrition, choosing what sports to play, and by teaching the value of good decisions regarding friendships. Research has shown that one of the most powerful tools a parent can leverage is the power of sports.

Sports provide much more than the obvious physical benefits. Young athletes look and feel fitter than their peers who don’t participate and they gain practical tools to help them develop psychological and physical habits that will carry on throughout their lives. The lessons learned through various sports programs not only benefit them now in childhood but will contribute to healthy habits that will influence them for years to come. Discipline taught in sports cannot be learned in a book or in a classroom. As parents and guardians work alongside coaches, athletes learn to apply these lessons in every walk of life.

Let’s look at some of the powerful benefits received through sports. Students who play sports can have higher self-esteem, greater awareness of their skills and increased desire to be successful in school. Kendal Gammon, an NFL Player for 15 years, and author of Life’s a SNAP, knows some students need additional motivation to make the honor roll. He says, “There’s nothing wrong with dangling the carrot of sports in front of a kid to get them to take seriously their academic work.”

He adds, “It’s also important to give them opportunities to enhance their areas of interest. We need to teach our children the value of learning things that will have the long life, activities that will last when age limits activity.” I could not agree with Gammon more. Because of sports, I received a college education and ultimately, my degree, because I had to maintain my academics to play sports. Gammon adds, “Sports have become more than a road to college; they teach a good work ethic, how to accept authority and how to be accountable for one’s actions.” There is no better place than sports to learn these priceless lessons!

The psychological effects of youth sports are numerous. Sports can be the most powerful influence on the development of your child’s character. Qualities like honesty, organization, commitment, decisiveness, motivation, discipline, and persistence are all developed in the arena of sports. Add to that goal-orientation, manners, gratitude, pride, diligence, loyalty, respect, courage, confidence, humility, and self-control and it’s obvious how powerful the game can become in childhood development.

How can sports develop these qualities in your child? Every situation in sports can be a learning experience. If the coach decides to cut your child from the team, this becomes an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson in persistence, diligence, courage, even how to be supportive. An example of encouragement might be, “If you desire to make the team next year, I will help you get organized, set some goals, learn self-control and commit to working hard toward achieving the goal.” On the other hand, you can choose to say, “Son, the coach doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Now you’re teaching disrespect of authority, or “we will show him the mistake he has made” bitterness. There are two ways to use sports in developing your child’s mental ability to cope with life. One is a positive, hard working mentality, while the other becomes a negative pity-party mentality where whining reveals a poor attitude in accepting authority.

Unfortunately, there are some poor coaches out there and you may not figure this out until the season has started, games are under way and your child has made friends on the team. Once you discover the coach may not be the best, seldom is there anything you can do until the season is over. During that season, you have a tremendous opportunity to teach your child a valuable lesson of how to handle difficult people and situations in life. Most adults have a story about a supervisor that was difficult to work with. Let’s face facts; working with difficult people is an essential life skill. Your child can learn this skill while playing sports.
How can we confront a difficult person and work through a conflict to ultimately reach a positive resolution? Don’t sell your home, change schools, all to avoid the situation. Instead, go with your child and talk with the coach asking why the offending situation occurred and listen with an open mind.

Every coach, even myself, becomes defensive when authority is questioned. A coach may not say it, but he’s thinking, “Just who do you think you are, talking to me like that?” Most athletes find themselves in the proverbial doghouse for the rest of the year after a confrontation like that. However, if a child comes with a humble attitude and asks what can he do to get more playing time, most coaches are more than willing to have that discussion with him. Parents must set the ground work for how to communicate with someone who is in a position of authority. Remember, we’re learning the power of sports. Don’t assume you know the reason why your child is not getting the playing time or position he wants. Once again, it is critical for parents to set the example of how to handle difficult and unfavorable situations. Your children are going to be facing tough situations for the rest of their lives. You want to be the one preparing them to approach these situations positively and achieve success as the final result.

Coach John Wooden in his book, Wooden – A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, said “I think parenting, coaching or teaching are the same thing. And they are the two most important professions in the world. Parents are coaches, the first coach a child has. Too many parents expect the coaches and teachers at school to do what they are not doing at home. The parents must set the foundation early. It is often too late by the time a child goes to school.” The truth of the matter remains: the arena of sports will provide powerful life lessons to develop your child into the man or woman you desire them to be. My hope is that you, as parents, will consider the powerhouse of sports to teach life lessons to your child. It can be a most rewarding journey for both you and your child.

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How to Make a Vodka Martini on Your Party

how to make a vodka martiniMartini is one of those cocktail drinks that have withstood the test of time.  The martini was created almost a century ago and it is still to this day a very popular mixed drink on bars, clubs, and other high class socialite events and gatherings.  Needless to say, the martini is not just a great cocktail drink per se, but that the overall sophistication it imbues is unparalleled by any other drink.  Perhaps the only other cocktail drink that has a very good chance of standing toe to toe with the martini is another martini itself – the vodka martini.

The original martini uses gin as its primary spirit, whereas the vodka martini makes use of vodka.  Both gin and vodka are colorless as their liquid form looks very much like water.  However, the big difference between the two is that vodka doesn’t have both taste and odor, whereas gin has the smell and flavor of juniper berries.

The biggest issue with gin is that not many are exactly a fan of its flavor.  Enter the vodka, a spirit that is a very effective alternative and substitute to gin.  Since it possesses strong points where gin is weak, for many aficionados and those with passion for fine cocktail drinks, vodka martini is the better type of martini.  If vodka was available back then during the creation of the martini, it is likely its inventor would have used vodka instead of gin.

If you are studying how to make different mixed drinks, such as how to make a vodka martini, to better train in the process of concocting this mixed drink, it is best to always have the ingredients and equipment necessary for making the drink..  For vodka martini, you will need the following:

  • Vodka
  • Vermouth
  • Garnish (olive, lemon twist, or lemon peel)
  • Ice
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Martini Glass

To make the vodka martini, get your cocktail shaker and place in your vermouth and vodka inside with appropriate amounts according to your serving.  Put in some ice inside the shaker than cover the shaker with its top lid.  Take the shaker and hold it with both hands with one hand holding the top of the shaker and the other hand holding the bottom part.  Shake the contents very vigorously.  Strain the liquid on a chilled martini glass.  Add in your garnish and finally you’re done.  Serve and enjoy.