Student Athlete Performance

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Next month, I will be leading a workshop for a girls’ hockey prep school/college showcase at Breakaway Ice Center in Tewksbury. The topic is “Improve your health, Improve your performance”.

You might not think this is a necessary conversation but truly it is.

Do you know how many times I see student athletes walking into practice or a game with a Dunkin Donuts Koolatta or some other nutrient-lacking, chemical-laden fast food? All the time! You would be amazed at how many student athletes are overweight, go to their sport hung over, or struggling to control stress and anxiety during high pressure moments.

This demographic is not immune to the same temptations and health concerns of every one else.  Although they exercise and are usually physically fit, they do not always have balanced fitness routine, they are not necessarily mentally or emotionally fit, nor are they eating foods that support the body’s need for nutrition and energy. In time, these bad habits will catch up to them.  And for now, I guarantee, they are not playing as well as they could.

There was a recent article on the benefits of pilates for hockey players. From In Goal Magazine, “Hockey Players and Pilates Reformers“. It briefly discusses how pilates and yoga can help bring the body in balance.

“Hockey players spend most of their time in a crouched over position. Because of this, their bodies are extremely imbalanced.”

Physical fitness should not be the only focus of the student athlete. Mindfulness is becoming increasingly more popular among professional athletes says “The Mindful Athlete: Can Preventative Mental Health Improve Performance, Too?” on Vice Sports. Our brains cannot function when they are stressed and anxious. A calm, centered mind is more creative and capable of functioning in the most stressful environments.

As a parent, I know how hard it can be to provide healthy meals and a balanced enviroment while running from rink to rink, game to game. Sometimes you do what you have to do and, from this, we helped to establish these bad habits.  But teens can take control over their own behaviors and work with their parents and coaches to determine the best choices for them.

Health and wellness coaches, like myself, are available to work one-on-one with student athletes to determine what habits are holding them back and how they can take charge and perform at their preferred level of performance. Not all student athletes WANT to function at their optimal level and that is okay. For those that do, how they treat their mind and body should be as important as going to practice.

 

Just Do It?

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Just do it….that’s what Nike says. I call BS.

Making lifestyle changes does not come down to having information and self-control.

Think about it. We have all the resources and information we need at our fingertips and yet the American people are sicker and fatter than ever before.  The life expectancy of our children’s generation is actually shorter than ours. SHORTER? With all the advances in medicine, our children will die younger than us and primarily because of preventable diseases. (New England Journal of Medicine, Mar 17, 2005 and CDC Life Expectancy Tables).

Why are almost 50% of Americans overweight and yet we have nutritional, fitness, and health information flooding our lives?

Because the “Just do it” motto does NOT work for most people. Plus, sooooo many factors play a role in health….environment, social networks, government policies, genetics, behavioral choices, education, poverty/wealth, access to healthcare, access to mental health, access to healthy foods, trauma, chemicals and poisons in our environment, food, and products…the list goes on.

However, obesity in America crosses all socio-economic lines. WHY? Because even though we know WHAT to eat and that we need to exercise more and reduce our stress, we don’t always know HOW to implement those changes for long-term success.  We know how to “diet” and then we gain it back. We know how to deprive ourselves and then binge later. We throw ourselves into exercise routines then quit just as quickly.

This is not the way to live.

Life is about balance and enjoying life. You CAN be healthy AND happy.  Hiring a health and wellness coach has shown to be the most effective way to reach and maintain your personal goals. Trained coaches offer guidance, accountability, and collaboration.  Coaches are patient-centered, not disease-centered. When you have someone who is listening, brainstorming, and supporting you, it is uplifting, energizing, and emotionally rewarding. Coaches build confidence and success.

Here is more proof that coaching works:

Everyday Health on Coaching

The Health Coach Group

The American Academy of Family Physicians

Medical Economics

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

The Mayo Clinic

 

Meeting Zelda

“Zelda is a Storyteller,
Drum and Rattle Maker,
Creator of Personal Shields,
Keeper of the Ancestor Doll and Creator of the
Sacred Dream Circles.”

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This week my friends and I went to Circles of Wisdom in Andover, MA because there was a native american artist displaying and selling her creations, Zelda Hotaling. What was just a fun trip to check out rattles, drums, and dream catchers on Saturday afternoon, turned into a personal journey and connection to a wise mother and the importance of friendship.

Zelda was the jovial, beautiful woman with long hair, blue eyes, and a deep connection to her purpose in life.  Once we got talking to her, we couldn’t stop. She told us cool stories about the events that led up to her retirement and the creation of her 7 foot Sacred Dream Circles, something she usually gets paid to do.

Each of us was drawn to an item in her store and because it was the day before Father’ssign
Day, we decided to buy these items for our respective husbands. We asked about each item and she gave us a story and a suggestion for its use. HOWEVER, she told us they were NOT for our husbands they were ours and we needed to stop giving ourselves away.  (ain’t that the truth)

 

Each time we would be ready to leave, something or some comment, would bring us back to Zelda. She showed us how to give a massage with her shell rattles and we had a ceremonial singing circle with drums, rattles, and a very special turkey feather.

The most special gift she gave to each of us was a comment. Apparently, out of the blue, she would make a statement, either out loud or quietly in one’s ear, that was exactly what that person needed at that time. It was like she could read our deepest needs and then gave us the gift of healing. Without going into private details…it was amazing for each of us. Many tears fell that day.

When we left, after promising to come visit Zelda’s Sacred Dream Circles and have a girls weekend at her place, we all just looked at each other and hugged and laughed in the hall. What a gift this day turned out to be. We lost time in that space with Zelda…3 hours had passed since we walked in.

There are so many wonderful people and beautiful teachings in this world. I was so glad to have been able to share this experience with my friends. I think Zelda was as drawn to us as we were to her.

Had I gone there alone I probably wouldn’t have talked to Zelda as much; not because I wouldn’t want to, but because I tend to get shy and reserved in new experiences. I wouldn’t want to bother her (but that’s another issue). I sink into the background and observe….soaking it in. With my friends, I was pulled in and benefited from their adventurous personalities. I definitely learned that I could be a little more outgoing in these situations. I also know to honor myself and, if that is who I am, so be it.

Doing this with friends was so much more fun than alone anyway.

Maybe THAT was the real lesson.

 

 

How do you reset your diet?

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Lately my stomach has been a nightmare. I am sure everyone can relate to that feeling. I miss feeling light and energetic. I know how I got here…to much eating out at restaurants, too much junk/sugar, emotional eating, and too much alcohol for my system.  By most standards, I don’t do any of these things a lot. I actually have a pretty healthy diet but for me the combination of all these things in a little bit of excess over time caused some annoying health issues to return.

I know what I have to do. I need to stop and reset. BUT HOW?

Here is a list of things I pulled together that I know will help me…

  1. Just stop eating crap
    • (easier said than done) I know need to stop eating those things that I know irritate my stomach and watch my portion sizes. I have been a little lax in that area lately. Plus I need to limit eating out at restaurants…there is NOTHING better than homemade. We all know what we SHOULD do, but doing it is a whole another ballgame.
  2. Take Zantac
    • Last time time I felt this way, I went to the doctor because it was such a new and terrible sensation. Zantac did help it go away BUT there are many downsides to taking such prescription meds and I prefer to heal the root of the problem and not just treat symptoms because that’s just a bandaid.
  3. Do a diet cleanse.
    • Eliminate the sugars, processed foods, foods I know I know cause me symptoms. Heal my gut. Eat simply.
  4. Hire a health coach.
    • I am a coach and I know how beneficial a coaching relationship can be to help people overcome obstacles and reach their goals. I also know how motivating and energizing talking to a coach can be.
  5. Retake my MRT food sensitivity test  with my nutritionist, George.
    • Over time, food sensitivities can change. It would not be unlikely that foods that used to be safe for me are now causing issues. Identification REALLY helps.
  6. See Sarah for ART
    • My friend Sarah specializes in the “Allergy Relief Technique” or ART, which has helped a number of my friends overcome food allergies, lyme, and chronic inflammation by teaching the body to stop over-reacting to stimuli.
    •  Per the website….”A.R.T.™ is a unique combination of advanced energy medicine and Western technology, working to balance an individual’s energy to allow the immune system to function optimally.”

This is a pretty good list of things I can do to get better. I don’t really have any excuses and there are definitely more benefits to doing something than staying where I am.

What did I decide?

I decided to start with a diet reset as described in the book “If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spirit” by Hale Sofia Schatz. I don’t do juices and I don’t starve myself but I need a plan. My friend Carol is in the middle of this plan and feels and looks great. The gist is to eat simply…just vegetables for 2-6 days, then add grains for 2-6 days, then add protein for 2-6 days.  For me the slow add is a good way to test for foods that I am sensitive and getting rid of my cravings.  No juicing, no dieting, no crap; just simple whole foods.  However, this is NOT a long-term approach.

Quick resets do NOT establish healthy eating habits and we are most likely going to go back to bad habits if we don’t establish good ones.  But this type of approach does work for me as a reset and helps me re-establish a better and healthier relationship with food. I lose cravings and the emotions attached to eating. I also re-establish good habits such as meal planning, preparing meals, getting creative in the kitchen, and enjoying the taste of whole foods.

I also called Wellcoaches for my own personal health coach today. I am coach and I know the benefits of having a coach. What I love about BEING coached by someone else is that you don’t have to work on just one thing. Really, the factors in our health are all related anyway. I can get support and accountability for my healthier eating goals AND receive collaboration and support in my business and personal goals. It’s a total win-win! The proverbial killing 2+ birds with one stone.

My next steps, which I haven’t done yet, are to reach out to Sarah (ART) and George (Nutritionist). I want to find out what foods I am reacting to, just in case there are new ones that are causing these negative effects. The easiest way to get rid of symptoms is to identify the cause by retaking the MRT test. Then I can work with Sarah to heal my body and my gut so that it stops reacting to foods all together.

This is MY plan.

What do you do to reset when your eating habits have gone awry?

MyPlate Calculator

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Trying to eat healthier and don’t know where to start? Try the “MyPlate Checklist Calculator” at www.choosemyplate.gov. You enter your information and it tells you how cmp_slideshow_platemany servings you need in each food category. You can take that information to help you modify your diet, if needed.  There are actually a lot of good tools on this website.

 I use the MyFitness App to help log what I eat when I need to get back on track and eat a more balanced diet.  Just like everyone else, eating a healthy and balanced diet gets turned upside down sometimes with parties, eating out, and stress/emotional events. Logging my food into MyFitness App helps me and I realize that I eat a lot of protein, maybe too much. Truly, I know that but when I document it and see the real data, it’s harder to make excuses or deny the reality.  Can’t run away from facts.

For some people eating a lot of protein might be good.  I believe that one diet does not fit all. Some people function best as vegans, some NEED meat. Find what works for you.

No matter what your eating style is, we all need nutrients to help our body function properly.  Fueling our body is the #1 reason we eat…not taste, not emotion, not joy, not social…fuel and nutritional support for all the processes and functions that are occurring in our bodies. Cell division, DNA replication, liver function, brain function, heart and lungs…you get the gist. Important stuff. The taste and enjoyment and social aspects are just the icing on the cake…so to speak.

Back to the checklist. I KNOW I need to eat less protein because I have with every meal and I crave it. It fills me up, I enjoy it, and tastes good.  But I am not sure how much I should be having for my body. I also know that I need to eat MORE fruits and vegetables. No one was ever unhealthy from eating vegetables and Americans just don’t get enough, including me.

So this Checklist, really helped me understand how much protein I should be eating in a day to help reduce my saturated fat and guide me to eating more fruits and vegetables.

Next time, I reach for that Bell & Evans Chicken Tender as a snack, I will think about how much protein I have had or will have and maybe grab the apple or carrots instead. It’s a journey. This will take some time to incorporate…all change does take time.

Today, I consciously paid attention to the proteins I was eating and when I was craving them. Next step, I will make a plan and see what works. I am not far off but a little tweaking may be good.

The three S’s in SucceSS

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I have learned a lot from my coaching career, both from my class and from working with clients. One thing I learned is that success doesn’t always just happen. Besides hard work, it takes a positive attitude (the belief that you CAN do it and WILL do it),  flexible mindset (mistakes are learning opportunities from experiments) and what I am calling the 3S’s in SucceSS.  These are by no means the only factors in success but ones that coaching tends to highlight.

What are the three S’s?

STRENGTHS: : When you know your personal strengths, you can use those characteristics to help you overcome obstacles and make sure that you are being true to who you really are, not what others think you “should” be. For instance, choosing a field of study or career path is best when personal strengths and passions are taken into account.  To find your personal strengths, there are many assessments you can take. Here are a couple I have tried and liked.

Strengths Finder: Strengths Finder is a book that helps you identify your greatest strengths and then provides insights and actions based on those strengths. You can click on the Strengths Finder to go to the website and read more about it. You must order the book to take the FREE assessment. To order at amazon click HERE .

VIA Survey of Character Strengths: This FREE assessment analyzes 24 personal character strengths and provides you with a ranking of strengths based on your answers. This website also has other assessments relating to optimism and mental health.

MAPP Assessment: The MAPP assessment is a career assessment tool. I really like how they apply your personality and strengths to career options you might thrive in. This is how I found Health Educator years ago. I found the information so helpful, I paid for one of the reports and I did NOT regret it.

SUPPORTS: Your supports are those structures, people, things in your environment that you can rely on to help you overcome obstacles.  Supports can be your family, friends, co-worker, teacher, or neighbor. Supports can also be your calendar, phone, reminders or where you live, work, and play.  There are many factors in your life that affect your well-being both positively and negatively. It’s always a good idea to know all the good you have in your life that you can rely on for help. You are NOT alone.

STRATEGIES: Strategies are your game plan. Whether it be a strategy to overcome an obstacle or strategies for implementing a behavior change, having a well thought out plan of action can increase your chance of success. You write a business plan to start a business. You can also develop a plan and strategies to make changes to your lifestyle.

Coming soon….strategies for making changes in your life.

We feel happy and fulfilled when are basic human needs are being met. The need to be successful, accomplished, appreciated, and competent are important. Although different people surely have different levels of needs, don’t underestimate your basic human needs.

Feeling Words

Want to be successful, especially your wellness goals? Honor yourself, the good things in your life, be honest about what you need. Although you can learn from observing others and having role models, do not compare yourself to others. You have your own path that will lead you to your personal successes!

Bon Voyage!

Kids Do Well If They Can

I am not going to write much on this but I was having a discussion with a friend about kids behaviors and this article came to mind. I studied it in my teacher training program and I put it into practice when I was teaching. It is such a great thing to keep in mind…

KIDS DO WELL IF THEY CAN

It is NOT kids do well if they try.  Think about it, it is easier to be bad than to feel stupid.

 Here is the article written by Ross Greene, PhD kids_do_well_if_they_can

This video also addresses this…he has many more but this is a good starting place.

Caring Relationship

Caring Relationships….are one the best protective factors for children who the face the high pressures and demands of parents, school officials, and society.

Boston Calling

I recently attended a talk by Suniya Luthar, Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Professor Emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Dr Luthar has spent years studying resilience and vulnerability in children from many different populations.

The consistent message is that those children who have a positive caring relationship with a parent, teacher, or any adult have a higher resilience, less depression/anxiety and less destructive behaviors. Certainly there are other factors and just having a caring parent does not guarantee your child will never do drugs or have a bought of depression but it does make the case that we, as adults, need to do more to demonstrate how much we care, speak more kindly, ask how we can help, and reduce our criticisms and unreasonable expectations of our children.

This is also a call to educators to reach out and practice compassion, empathy, and non-violent communication. Ask your students how you can help. Reach out to a student who seems withdrawn or one whose grades are decreasing. Sometimes just saying ” I notice you have been quiet, how can I help?” Letting them know you care could make a HUGE difference in their lives. I have experienced the power of those words and how they can truly turn a student’s behavior around if they feel supported and know that you want to help them…that all is not lost.

Dr Luthar also explained that “bad” comments have a much greater effect on children than “good” comments. So it takes 3 positive comments to balance out the negative effects of 1 critical remark.

As parents, it is so easy to constantly harp on grades, chores, room cleaning, etc…that we forget that this constant nagging can be detrimental to the child and our relationship. I would suggest that we learn to change HOW we say things.

At the Parker School, where I taught last year, we always started our feedback with warm feedback (positive) then transitioned to cool feedback. Even then the cool feedback was discussed in such a way that the student or fellow teacher felt supported and not attacked or criticized.

Recently, I have tried to back off the nagging of grades with my son. He felt that I was constantly criticizing him because I was addressing some chronic low performance. A friend suggested I back off and I did. When I did address it, I put my “coach” hat on and tried to ask questions and give him choices. I asked how I could help and when he was going to speak to his teachers instead of telling him what to do. Same outcome…different emotional triggers.

I think my new stance is working better. We have less outbursts, fewer fights and he has admitted to not putting in the effort he should… which is a HUGE step. It doesn’t mean he is going to change right now but the admission in a calm manner was progress. Baby steps!

Dr Luthar has TONS of articles and research on her website. I highly suggest you check it out.

We don’t have to be the bad guy in our kids’ lives and we don’t have to bully them to get them to do what we want or to do what they need to do.  Helping them rebound from mistakes is huge. Remind them that mistakes are learning lessons and we can always make a fresh start.

Say…

“I Love You”

” I am here for you”

“How can I help?”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Tomorrow is a new day”

“I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

Remember, no parent is perfect. YOU are NOT perfect. We ALL have something we could be doing better; some way that we can also grow and make progress. Life is a journey. Don’t stop evolving!

 

Happy Parenting!

The Smoker’s Breath

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Recently, a friend and I started talking about smoking. We talked about the buzz that you get the first time, which inspires many younger people to keep doing it. We talked about how many people stay with because of physical addiction, habit, stress or anxiety relief, or some other reason.

What I had never considered, and my friend brought up, was that part of the stress relief and calming effect from smoking is probably the actual breathing. Smokers take a “drag” off their cigarette, (or other device) and there is generally a long slow exhale….especially with pot smokers. This is similar to the breathing exercises that reduce stress.  The act of smoking is not a natural breathing activity but a controlled and deeper breath.

So, in essence, smokers are already practicing stress relieving breathing. Maybe as they try to quit, they could maintain some of the stress management by consciously breathing as they would when they smoked.  They really are already ahead of the game.

I am not here to glorify or promote smoking but smokers can focus on the skills they have already been using in order to move forward and away from the need for nicotine and other chemicals.

So breathe like a smoker

Deep inhale, long slow exhale

Enjoy the breath

Relax into the breath

 

Teen Communication

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Teens have a special place in my heart. They are emerging adults but still have some child-like qualities and a zest for life that is untainted by the demands and experience of a full adult life. In find this dichotomy comical and amusing. It reminds me to let go and have fun.  As a teacher, I learned from them as much as they learned from me.

What I have really learned about teens is that they just want to be supported, understood, and respected. You do NOT get a teen to do what you want by demanding, threatening, and treating them like a child. (heck, even young children rebel against bossiness) That authoritarian stance will mostly backfire. It might work for some or for a little while but it just might create a tension that will get in the way when there are bigger issues to resolve.

I have noticed in my child’s high school, what seems like an increase in the carrot-stick approach to behavior management. For instance, they are cracking down on student tardiness. The school decided to give detention for students’ repeated lateness but what they fail to consider are the reasons for the lateness because most are driven by parents.  Then I saw a friend post a pile of tardy slips her daughter had accumulated and thought to myself “the detention thing sure doesn’t seem to be deterring this tardiness behavior”.  I am sure this solution is just a result of not knowing what else to do and relying on past experiences instead of trying new progressive approaches.

What could be done?

In my experience teaching and coaching, engaging the students in a discussion of WHY they are late and HOW they can overcome the obstacles getting in their way works much better. If it’s the parent’s fault, why punish the child? This teaches student that these policies are unfair and we lose their respect. Instead talk to the parent or help child do that. If it is the child, we can help them find strategies that they can work with; help motivate them to WANT to change. Let them own the process and choices but with adult guidance and support. Let them own their successes and learn from their mistakes.  I wonder how often a student is asked “What’s going on?”, “How can I help?”. I know from personal experience not as often as it should.

Power struggles between adults and teens degrade trust which is needed to accomplish great things together. If they are sent to detention…then maybe detention could be a forum for positive discussion with supportive and caring adults who can help teens figure out how to change their behaviors, and perspectives. Create the positive relationship. Honor their ideas. Instead of punishment, it could be a form of coaching.

Now more than ever, we need to create that positive relationship and a culture of teamwork. Teens just want to feel respected, trusted, and cared for. If we want them to change, we must change.  How do we do this? Non-violent communication is one way. This doesn’t just mean don’t hit/hurt. It means to observe, not judge. Ask, not tell. Work with your teen, not against them. Help them develop and own their behavior change with your support. Let them know you care. Caring and empathy go a long way.

For example, a student is not doing work. Instead of detention and ignoring them as bad or uncooperative. Talk to them…”I notice X, and I was concerned about Y. What’s going on? “. “How can I help?” and “What do you need from me?”  get a lot closer to success then “just do it”, or thinking “that’s not my problem, it’s yours”.  I have seen this work and I have helped turn student’s disengagement into success through this approach.

This goes for parenting…but it is a but harder and the relationship is MUCH more complex. But the essence is the same. Approach teens with love and respect. They are just kids who still need you while they break free and find their way into adulthood. I have done it the “my way or the highway” authoritarian approach and it only works for so long and/or it degrades the relationship and potentially the child’s self-esteem. When I changed my approach with my own children, I noticed a huge shift in them and in our relationship. No parenting relationship is perfect but my kids seem much happier with the new me.

So judge less, listen more, curiously inquire.

This is why I am coaching teens. They need more adults who are willing to help them find their way in a positive and supportive environment.  It takes a village, right?

Want to read more about teens and communication?

Parenting: “Get Out of My Life but first can you take me and Cheryl to the mall?”

Growth mindset? “Growth Mindset; the psychology of success”

Non-violent communication? Nonviolent Communication website