Getting in Shape 2019

It’s a new year and time to get in better shape. For many people that means losing weight. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 47% of Latinos, 47% of black adults and 38% of white adults are obese. Overall 40% of American adults are obese and 19% of American youths. Obesity is slightly more common in women than men. This is a major health issue in our country. It cannot be called an epidemic because it is not contagious, but it is a growing issue with rates increasing for the past 20 years. Its ironic that we seem to have so many people dieting and joining gyms and so many diet foods in 2019, but we have more overweight people than ever before. What’s the problem?

Weight gain or loss is really just simple math. If you burn more calories than you consume you lose weight. Eat more than you burn you gain weight. There are so many diets including keto diets and low carb diets, nutri system and weight watchers and even the paleo diet and Zone diet. Some diets are dangerous and you should discuss options with your medical doctor or a certified nutritionist before making any drastic changes. All diets work by reducing your calorie intake…that’s it! There is no magic or secret to weight loss.

In terms of numbers to lose a pound you need to reduce your calories by 3,500. This done by decreasing how much you eat and also through burning more calories. This is very doable by combining eating less and working out more. To lose 1 pound a week, all you need to do is decrease calories by 250 each day and burn 250 more calories each day. In previous articles I discussed that interval training is much more effective in working out in a shorter amount of time. It would take about 20 minutes on an elliptical or treadmill to burn these calories but the intervals need to be hard getting your heart rate up to 80% of your max (220-age). Do hills or sprints for 2 minutes then go lighter for 2 minute intervals.

When it comes to working out try and do something every day. Do what you like. It should be hard but somewhat enjoyable. You will feel better after even those days you are feeling less motivated.

My simple rules to weight loss.

  1. Do not eat anything fried.
  2. Do not have dessert.
  3. Do not get so hungry that you will eat whatever is in front of you – that means having a snack in the late afternoon and perhaps in the morning to offset your hunger.

The bottom line is to get in shape this year, pick realistic goals. Eat healthier and work out every day.

 

Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director of Orthopedic Surgery

Westchester Sport & Spine of White Plains Hospital

Choking

High level of emotions felt under pressure situations may undermine an athlete’s best skills leading to under-performing when it matters most. We can easily point out to the exact moment when choking occurs, but does missing a free-throw, penalty kick, or a 3-foot putt for birdie mean that the athlete choked?

Choking is more often than not the result of a process leading to under-performing than an isolated missed execution. Everybody misses free throws, penalty kicks, or short putts. And, emotions do not just show up all of the sudden. What we think prior to the game, our expectations, somebody else’s expectations, meaning of the game, and past experiences are all factors influencing performance. How we come mentally prepared to compete can greatly influence how we perform when the emotions of the game are at its highest level.

John McEnroe said it best: “When it comes to choking, the bottom line is that everyone does it. The question isn’t whether you choke or not, but how -when you choke- you are going to handle it. Choking is a big part of every sport, and part of being a champion is being able to cope with it better than everyone else.” (Goffi, 1984, pp 61-62).

As competition is about to start, the heart beat speeds up, muscles tense, and the breathing accelerates. What we think about the competition concurs with an immediate physiological reaction. Thoughts and body felt sense responses go hand-in-hand. It is a human response, not an individual response. Everyone’s bodies go through the same experience. Maybe for some individuals, the felt sense responses are less pronounced than for others. Regardless of your personal experience, negating, minimizing, or pretending that “I am fine” will only exacerbate the sensations. Unless these experiences are well managed, emotions will really come up when the game is on the line and, by then, it will be too late. The inability to better cope with normal competitive emotions will lead to loss of focus, increased muscle tension, under-performing, and later lamenting for not being able to show your true talents.

One of the ways to enhance your ability to manage emotions is by paying close attention to what you can vs. cannot manage. If emphasis is placed on meeting past successful results, then such expectations will only increase tension as past experiences do not dictate how you are performing right now. It may provide information to help you design your strategy, but it will not execute present tasks. For example, a tennis player who easily beat an opponent in their last match will be mistaken to overly rely on such an outcome to minimize his/her own preparation. If the opponent made significant improvements and you came in unprepared, when the game is on the line, pressure will tense your muscles and increase the chances of making mistakes.

Also, playing in a team sport may adds pressure as the thought of not wanting to let teammates down often enhances self-pressure. It is important that a team meeting takes place where a discussion about the pressure of wanting to do well and the fear of not wanting to let others down are verbally expressed. It is vital that teammates feel the support of one another to strengthen team spirit. Fear concerns are in everybody’s mind. We tend to believe that we are the only ones who have these concerns, but it is often a common concern that everybody has. Fearful thoughts and stressful feelings can easily remain hidden only to come up to the surface when the pressure is on and, by then, it is too late.

Another good mental preparation happens on the night before competition. Going to bed early, imagining all possible competitive scenarios and creating mental rehearsals on how to overcome those situations, including having success and experiencing a loss, practicing breathing relaxation, and remaining positive are all mental tools that foster readiness.

We only have control over our own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is very easy to get distracted by what others are saying, bad weather conditions, unfair referee calls, and the opponent’s untimely good luck. Bring your attention to what you can control and embrace the process. If it was a successful experience, then celebrate it and remain focused. If it was an unsuccessful experience, then accept it as such without remaining overly emotionally attached and use a cue signal that fosters re- focusing.

To Parents: they can also serve as emotion regulators by reminding game strategies, focusing on variables that the athlete can control, such as positive talk, breathing relaxation, and mental rehearsal, and cheering for all his/her efforts. It builds internal trust and confidence. On the other hand, focusing on winning, saying that his/her child is the best, or yelling when an error is made will increase pressure. Learning comes from making constant adjustment. The more parents support the athlete’s ability to trust in their skills and learn from mistakes, the more likely the athlete will trust in his/her self-beliefs.

 

Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge

How to Lose Weight This New Year

It’s the New Year…a time for the usual weight loss and exercise resolutions. Lifestyle changes can be challenging and hard to maintain. How can you ensure that you will be successful in your exercise and diet goals this year?

First, diet is extremely important. Despite popular opinion, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Instead high carbohydrate diets are really the enemy because of how they affect glucose and fat storage in the body. Every diet should be high in vegetables, which have important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Intermittent fasting is also a great tool to help with weight loss. The most popular method of intermittent fasting is to eat all your food in an 8 hour window and fast for the other 16 hours.  Research has shown many other benefits to intermittent fasting including improved blood sugar levels, improved heart health, a reduction of inflammation, and improvements in memory and cognitive function.

Exercise is also key in any weight loss program. It is important to incorporate resistance training and cardio training to get the desired result. Exercise programs should be tailored to your goals, fitness level, weight, time commitment, and limitations. At times, group exercise classes, while fun, can be dangerous because the instructor can’t individualize the routine or make sure your form is correct.

THE ARENA FITNESS can help with your diet and exercise goals. First, you can make a free consultation with our dietitian, Denise Groothuis, who will help you come up with a plan. Additionally, our personal trainers can put you on a routine to promote weight loss. Our trainers take more courses and are more credentialed than 95 % of the trainers in Westchester and Connecticut, even the trainers at the “elite” gyms. It’s time to shed those pounds. Come to THE ARENA and let us help you fulfill your resolutions!

 

by Denise Groothuis MS RD CFMP

How to Eat on Vacation

Most of us look forward to our vacations from life, work, responsibilities, etc. We spend months planning to find the perfect location, amazing hotel, and great restaurants. Many of us spend time dieting to get the perfect “beach body,” and we watch our intake for weeks. However, all that hard work often vanishes the second we arrive on our trip!

Vacations are meant to relaxing, fun, and decadent. You’ll often find huge buffet breakfasts, abundant lunches, and decadent dinners & desserts. And what is a vacation without a few drinks by the pool or beach?  After a day of eating and drinking, the hotel gym is nothing but a pipedream. Often, we end a vacation a few pounds heavier than we started.

So, how can we keep lean and healthy on vacation? First, pack healthy snacks for the plane and to keep in the hotel. These include nuts, seeds, energy bars, protein powder, and fruit. Second, plan ahead. Pick a few days to exercise in the morning and choose one big splurge meal instead of eating crazy every night.

For breakfast, stay away from the bread and muffins. Instead, choose fresh fruit and eggs. Drink plenty of water at each meal and throughout the day to stay hydrated, especially if you are drinking alcoholic beverages. For lunch, choose salads with dressing on the side or lean protein or fish with vegetables.  Try to avoid the bar food and French fries! At dinner, don’t order both an appetizer and entrée. Either get your own appetizer and split a main course with your partner or friend, or avoid the appetizer all together. Make sure foods are not fried or drenched in creamy, high caloric sauces. It is also important to avoid the bread basket! As far as dessert, pick two nights to splurge, and avoid sugar the rest of the trip. If there is a buffet, start with a plate full of salad first and then have protein and a vegetable.

It is possible to enjoy your food and keep your body trim. Just listen to your body and do not overeat, and remember to exercise and drink plenty of water. Eating healthy is a lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge within reason on your trip. Happy Holidays!

 

by Denise Groothuis MS RD CFMP

 

 

Exercise Your Way to Calm

There are many different ways to de-stress. One of the most productive ways is to exercise. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress hormones & chemicals more than any other activity. Whether it’s just a walking or jogging around the neighborhood, joining a new sport, participating in yoga or a new class at your gym, or lifting weights, it will do wonders for your mind & body.

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives. When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind.

Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins which ultimately mean you will not only look good, you will feel good too!

Any type of exercise can increase your fitness and decrease your stress. However, it’s important to choose an activity that you enjoy rather than dread. Stress can result from many personal, professional, and environmental causes. The best way to cope with stress is by managing the stressors that are within your control. For example, you could walk away from toxic relationships or leave a stressful job. You can also practice accepting or coping with the stressors that are out of your control, with actions like meditating or drinking less caffeine and alcohol. Depression can make it much more difficult to control or cope with stressors, but seeking out counseling or therapy or taking medication can allow you to better confront stressors and deal with them in a positive, constructive way.

Stress comes in many forms and produces many symptoms. Mental symptoms range from worry and irritability to restlessness and insomnia, anger and hostility, or sensations of dread or panic. Mental stress can also produce physical symptoms. Muscles are tense, resulting in fidgetiness, taut facial expressions, headaches, or neck and back pain. The mouth is dry, producing unquenchable thirst or perhaps the sensation of a lump in the throat that makes swallowing difficult. Clenched jaw muscles can produce jaw pain and headaches. The skin can be pale, sweaty, and clammy. Intestinal symptoms range from “butterflies” to heartburn, cramps, or diarrhea. Frequent urination may be a bother. A pounding pulse is common, as is chest tightness. Rapid breathing is also typical, and may be accompanied by sighing or repetitive coughing. In extreme cases, hyperventilation can lead to tingling of the face and fingers, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, and even fainting. The physical symptoms of stress are themselves distressing. In fact, the body’s response to stress can feel so bad that it produces additional mental stress. During the stress response, then, mind and body can amplify each other’s distress signals, creating a vicious cycle of tension and anxiety. Because the root cause of stress is emotional, it is best controlled by gaining insight, reducing life problems that trigger stress, and modifying behavior. In addition to having a direct effect on your stress levels, regular exercise also promotes optimum health in other ways. Improvements to your overall health may help indirectly moderate your stress levels. By improving your physical wellness and heart health, you’ll have less to feel stressed about.

Many forms of exercise reduce stress directly, and by preventing bodily illness, exercise has extra benefits for the mind. Regular physical activity will lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and reduce your blood sugar. Exercise cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, colon and breast cancers, osteoporosis and fractures, obesity, depression, and even dementia (memory loss). Exercise slows the aging process, increases energy, and prolongs life. Except during illness, you should exercise nearly every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym or training for a marathon. It does, however, mean 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking or 15 to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. Aim to walk at least two miles a day, or do the equivalent amount of another activity. You can do it all at once or in 10- to 15-minute chunks if that fits your schedule better. Add a little strength training and stretching two to three times a week, and you’ll have an excellent, balanced program for health and stress reduction. It’s important to start out slow & not cause extra stress to your body by overtraining. If you need guidance, hire a trainer to help get you on the path to stress-free, healthy living!

by Gina Stallone

The Importance of Equipment Safety

Read this great article by our CEO, Charles DeFrancesco on the importance of equipment safety: https://www.cphins.com/the-importance-of-equipment-safety/

Dealing with GERD

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a condition that affects 20% of all Americans each year. Many people experience occasional reflux, which occurs when the stomach contents flow back into the esophagus and/or mouth. Over 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. This is usually caused by overeating, food triggers, or lying down too quickly after eating. However, GERD is diagnosed when the reflux is frequently occurring, usually more than twice a week. Sometimes the causes of GERD are unknown, but it may be caused by a weakened or dysfunctional valve at the bottom of the esophagus or from a hiatal hernia, which may cause pressure on the esophagus.

Tissue damage and inflammation may occur to the esophagus from repeated acid exposure. This may result in ulcers in the esophagus, which are open sores that may cause painful swallowing or bleeding. Another potential complication is an esophageal stricture, which is a narrowing of the pathway in the esophagus due to a build-up of scar tissue. Barrett’s esophagus is another possible side effect of GERD. This is a precancerous change in the lining which increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

While heartburn is the primary symptom of reflux, a person does not have to experience reflux in order to have GERD. Other signs and symptoms include regurgitation, belching, burping, nausea, vomiting, chronic cough, difficulty swallowing, sore/hoarse throat, chest pain, or a sour taste in the mouth.

Lifestyle changes, medications, and supplements can all be used to treat GERD. Stress has been shown to increased reflux, and different relaxation techniques to reduce stress have been shown to decrease the risk of GERD. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, and quitting smoking decrease the incidence of GERD as well. It is a good idea to avoid eating large meals or eating late in the evening and to not to lie down after eating. Raising the head of the bed and sleeping on your side may also reduce symptoms. It is also important to remove foods that may trigger symptoms, such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cow’s milk, friend food, citrus fruits and juice, tomatoes, carbonated beverages, sugar and sugar sweeteners, and spicy foods.

Proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers and antacids are frequently prescribed to alleviate heartburn. These usually work by decreasing the level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This will prevent the erosion of the esophagus, but it will not fix the cause of GERD. Prolonged use of these medications can alter the immune function, disrupt the microbiome and alter the pH level in your stomach, which can affect the absorption of nutrients. This may contribute to poor digestion, anemia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, fatigue and infections. Supplements can be used as an alternative to drugs. Some supplement shown to alleviate the signs and symptoms of GERD are betaine HCl, probiotics, DGL, slippery elm, marshmallow root, chamomile, fish oil, magnesium, glutamine, ginger tea and  antioxidant rich foods.

Don’t let GERD take control of your life. Change your diet, exercise and stress levels and GERD and other issues will stop controlling your life!

by Denise Groothuis MS RD CPT CFMP

How Nutrition Affects Autism

Autism is part of a set of disorders called Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which is “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.”

The symptoms of ASD vary from mild to severe can include Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), seizures, anxiety etc.The causes of autism are unclear, but it seems to affect boys 4.5 times more than girls.   A combination of environmental, biological and genetic factors seem to be associated with autism. Studies have shown that symptom development and progression is influenced by changes in metabolism and in gastrointestinal function.

Research shows that children with ASD are 4.5 times more likely to complain of GI symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, limited appetite, inflammation, dysbiosis (disruption in microbial balance), poor enzyme production, and low stomach acid. Studies have also shown that there is a greater risk for gluten sensitivity and lactase deficiency with children with ASD.

The GI tract produces 75% of the body’s neurotransmitters and 80% of its serotonin.  Additionally, roughly 80% of the immune system originates in the gut. The gut actually has its own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system, which controls the GI tract. The enteric nervous system is independent of the CNS and is responsible for peristalsis and the secretion of enzymes. However, the gut and brain are still connected and send biochemical signals through neurons, the endocrine system, and the immune system. The gut microbiome, which is the microbes that inhabit the GI tract, is involved in how the brain and gut communicate and can alter mood, anxiety, pain and cognition. Balance and diversity of the gut microbiome is imperative for health since the microbes are responsible for immune modulation, vitamin synthesis, production of SCFA, GI detoxification, and many other functions.

The gut also functions as a barrier from the external environment and the body, and it only allows certain particles to pass into the blood stream. Our first line of defense is the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT), which is the mucosal lining consisting of lymphocytes and other immune supporting cells. The intestinal wall is made up of tight junctions, which allow certain particles to pass through. If the tight junctions open, toxins, undigested food, chemicals and larger food particles may enter the bloodstream and cause an inflammatory response. This is called leaky gut, and it can be caused by stress, NSAIDs, antibiotics, alcohol, toxins, gluten, inflammation, protein malnutrition, and dysbiosis. Leaky gut can also result from candida, which is an overgrowth of yeast caused by antibiotics, toxicity, immune deficiency, etc. When the overgrowth reaches a certain threshold, it causes leaky gut and the yeast enters the blood stream and can cause muscle aches, fatigue, ADHD, sore and stiff joints, and other issues.

The leaky gut triggers an immune response and increases cytokine production, which are small proteins that effect other cells. These cytokines break down the blood brain barrier, which allows changes to neurotransmitters, synapse changes and ultimately mood and behavior changes. Many studies have shown that children with ASD have increased permeability in their gut compared to controls, especially when on an unrestricted diet. This means they have a more compromised immune system and will probably absorb less vitamins and minerals and have a greater chance of illness.

Dietary changes and supplements may help symptoms related to autism. It would beneficial to place those with ASD on an elimination diet to determine if they are sensitive to gluten or dairy. Additionally, dysbiosis and leaky gut can be healed with proper diet and the elimination of additives and unprocessed foods.

It is important to strive for a diet that is comprised mostly of whole foods instead of processed foods.  A processed food has been purposely changed from its natural state through cooking, canning, freezing, packaging, fortifying, preserving, preparing, or adding ingredients.Whole foods are in their natural state with little or no processing or artificial ingredients, and they tend to be high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Processed food tends to come in packages and can be high in sugar, calories, unhealthy fats, preservatives, and sodium, and research shows these items are correlated with obesity and chronic disease. Processing can be minimal or extreme, so focus on purchasing foods that have been as minimally processed as possible – like prewashed lettuce or cut up vegetables.  A good rule of thumb is if the food label has a long list of ingredients, don’t buy it!

Whole foods are also devoid of food additives. Food additives are chemicals added to processed foods to maintain or improve freshness, improve nutritional value (fortifying), and to change taste, texture, and appearance.  Some food additives are food dyes and artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, artificial preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Many food dyes and colors have been associated with hyperactivity, GI symptoms and skin issues, while some preservatives are linked to headaches and behavioral or mood changes. Sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup also have side effects, such as mood changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and toxic exposure.

Studies show that repairing the gut can improve behaviors. To improve barrier function, supplements such as magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are recommended. Additionally, a multivitamin, phytonutrients, glutamine, amino acids can improve leaky gut and immune function. Digestive enzymes can help break down food and a probiotic can help restore the microbiome after dysbiosis.

Research has also shown a link between autism an environmental toxins. It seems like people with autism are not as adept at eliminating toxic chemicals from their body. These chemicals can effect brain neurological functioning and the physical and psychosocial environment. Therefore, try to purchase organic foods as much as possible and definitely stay away from the dirty dozen, which are the 12 foods know to be highest in pesticides.  These include strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers.

Additionally, toxins increase oxidative stress in the body, and studies demonstrate increased oxidative stress in autism.  Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant system, which causes a derailment in many body processes.  Our cells contain organelles called mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of the cell, which produce energy in the form of ATP. During the process of creating energy, free radicals (reactive oxygen species ROS) are produced, which is a normal part of energy metabolism. However, ROS can increase through inflammation, toxins in the environment, and infections to a point where the body can no longer manage the oxidative stress. This causes damage to cell structures, cell death, mitochondrial dysfunction, and issues with important biochemical processes. Additionally, the blood brain barrier is also sensitive to oxidative damage.

Research show that those with ASD have lower levels of antioxidant enzymes and glutathione. Glutathione is the body’s main antioxidant and is responsible for free radical scavenging and getting rid of metals and pesticides. When there is high levels of oxidative stress, glutathione is depleted so free radicals and toxins are not eliminated and detoxification is impaired. Studies show decreased levels of glutathione in ASD patients. If glutathione is decreased, it is imperative to remove environmental toxins and improve detox pathways, otherwise the oxidative load further increases, glutathione continues to decrease and there are increased metabolic, neurological and immunological dysfunction. Eat a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables to increase the antioxidant levels in the body. Additionally, supplements can be taken to improve detoxification pathways. Some important nutrients from detoxification are riboflavin, niacin, B6, folic acid, B12, glutathione, BCAA, flavonoids, phospholipids, glycine, taurine, glutamine, NAC, methionine, selenium, zinc, and coq10.

In addition to supplements to repair the gut, alternative therapies can also be used to treat anxiety, depression and ADD. Vitamin C, carnosine, and carnitine have been shown to improve autistic behaviors while magnesium, vitamin B6, inositol, GABA, 5HTP, tyrosine,and phosphorylated serine have been shown to alleviate anxiety. Additionally, some herbs such as valerian, passionflower, lemon balm and theanine can have calming affects.Every child or adult with autism is unique, so different therapies and programs will be appropriate for different people.

 

By Denise Groothuis MS RD CFMP

 

 

 

 

References:

Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

https://autismsciencefoundation.org/what-is-autism/

www.neuroscienceinc.com

J Spinal Cor Med 1998 21(4) 309-334

Pediatrics 2014 May: 133(5) 872-83

J Pediatric Gastroenterol Nutr 2010 Oct 51(4): 418:24

Dr Vreeland: https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/members/1249.cfm

Methylation and Detoxification in ASD – Pinpointing the problem

Textbook of Functional Medicine – 2010

Seelig MS. Consequences of magnesium deficiency on the enhancement of stress reactions; preventive and therapeutic implications (a review). J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Oct;13(5):429-46.

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/processed-foods-whats-ok-and-what-to-avoid

https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm094211.htm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244154.php

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/010713p46.shtml

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

Anger in Competition: How to Better Manage It

Athletes and coaches display of anger is becoming a repeated scene in sports. From youth leagues to professional athletes, the pressure to win at all cost or the fear of losing, leads individuals to become emotionally reactive, often characterized by an unacceptable display of anger, yelling, and even aggressive behavior. What is more concerning is the explicit permission and justification for displaying such a reaction. If anger leads to under-performance, what can be done to better manage those emotions?

An athlete who carries a lot of stress, continually focuses on must-win games, feels edgy, and repeatedly verbalizes angry thoughts to self or others demonstrates signs that must be paid attention as this pent-up mind-set can easily lead to over-reacting for apparently no good reason. Many athletes become so impatient or overly sensitive to casual comments that it becomes very difficult to interact with them. Also, the use of drugs, alcohol, or pain medication may exacerbate their ability to cope with stress, hence becoming more likely to overreact, especially if the athlete perceives the other person as having mal-intended behaviors. In this case, immediate rage culminates in aggressive behavior.

Teaching behaviors

The best way to address anger is by taking a pro-active stance where athletes, coaches, and even parents are made aware that they are having difficulty managing highly stressful situations. Hence, the first step is to name what the precipitants are thinking that lead to feeling anger. Rather that brush over all emotions as one, different situations lead to different emotions. “Feeling impatient,” “frustrated that my teammates are not understanding me,” “I want to have more playing minutes,” “my parents put a lot of pressure on me,” etc. are some of the thoughts that trigger upsetting emotions. The higher their level of awareness of the triggers that lead to becoming impatient or angry, the more likely they will be willing to use a strategy that promotes calming their frustration.

Also, athletes are more willing to live by the rules when:

  • They have a hand in formulating them
  • When determining consequences for rules violations
  • Focus on the team policy that was broken without degrading athletes to feel “in the dog house”
  • Use positive reinforcement to strengthen  team participation 

    The use of breathing relaxation has shown to ease tension. Bringing awareness to a slow, deep, and full in and out breathing takes the mind away from the racing thoughts. It helps to calm the arousal in the nervous system and reduces the respiratory rates.

    When addressing anger in a team setting, bouncing ideas about triggers and strategies that help bring arousal down helps teammates to incorporate new ideas. Often time, players who lose their temper tend to think that they are the only ones with an anger issue when there may be other players who feel equally angry but channel their emotions in a more productive manner.

    Self-awareness is the most important tool to own. It provides information which can be used to better manage your emotional responses.

    Alex Diaz, PhD

    Sports Mental Edge

13 Minutes to Strong

For those who repeatedly use the excuse that there just isn’t enough time in the day to do any meaningful exercise, a recent research study begs to differ. This study showed that the same strength gains can be made by doing one set, to failure, of 7 basic exercises as opposed to 3-5 sets for each. But the key is to remember that you have to reach muscular exhaustion by the end of the set.

For the study, 34 healthy young men, who previously did some resistance training, were randomized into three groups.  One of the groups performed 5 sets of each exercise, another performed 3 sets of each exercise, and the last performed just one set of each exercise.  All three groups exercised three days/week, rested for 90 seconds between sets, and were required to lift to failure between 8-12 repetitions. Seven basic and straight-forward exercises were performed, including bench press and leg press, to cover all muscle groups. The group that completed 5 sets spent about 70 minutes in the gym. The group that completed 3 sets spent about 40 minutes on their workouts. The third group that performed only 1 set per exercise spent an average of 13 minutes in the gym. After eight weeks, their muscles were measured and compared to their baseline measurements from the beginning of the intervention.

All of the men increased their strength after the eight weeks, and regardless of which group they were in, all of the strength gains were essentially the same.  Additionally, muscular endurance was about the same in all three groups.  The only thing that differed was muscle size, which increased more in the group of men that performed 5 sets of each exercise than the groups that only did three sets or one set. Based on these findings, one can surmise that spending less than twenty minutes in the gym, three days per week, can yield increases in muscular strength and endurance.  But remember, you must push your muscles to failure, meaning that you cannot perform another repetition of the exercise.  No more excuses.  We can all find an extra 13 minutes.

by Rima Sidhu, Exercise Physiologist

Maze Sexual and Reproductive Health