Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The #1 Myth of a Dancer's Diet

This week, enjoy a guest post from my intern, Danielle. She comes from an extensive background and dance, so was the perfect fit to provide an article about a dancer's diet.

Be Extraordinary,


Along with gymnasts and figure skaters, dancers tend to be body conscious athletes because they are often assessed by if their body is aesthetically pleasing verses solely how well they perform. Although not always treated as an athlete, dancers must put their bodies through great stress during conditioning, rehearsals, and dance classes. It is important that dancers fuel the body with an ample amount of energy just as any other athlete. This sometimes does not occur due to the lack of knowledge of fueling requirements. Instead of consuming the sufficient amount of calories each day to support the high level of performance and refuel the tank for the next rehearsal, some dancers restrict because they believe this to be a good way to protect their figure. In doing so, they do not eat enough food to support the amount of energy they are utilizing, which starves the muscles of the nutrients needed to give a standing ovation performance...and leaves the dancer drained.

The Myth: Eating one, low calorie meal per day is a good way to maintain my body size.

The Truth: Skipping meals will likely force the body to use muscle mass for energy. This prevents the body from burning off any excess body fat that might be present. It also can make the dancer tired, emotionally unstable and unable to focus, which all affect performance. In addition, under-eating deprives the body of many key nutrients, which may cause deficiencies and a lowered immune function, making the dancer more susceptible to injury and illness.

The Solution: Dancers should attempt to eat several small meals (or “mini” meals) throughout the day full of nutrient dense items such as whole wheat grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins (i.e. nuts, yogurts and chicken). This pattern of eating will keep energy on-board so dancers can continue working hard. Consuming healthy foods throughout the day will also better support a lean figure.

When dancers eat better, they feel better physically and emotionally. That is sure to bring the crowd to its feet.


Picture source:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Choosing the right "sports drink"

With the warm temperatures and humidity ready to peak, athletes are often left wondering which sports drink is the best fit for their sport type, time and intensity. 

First, let me clear up a few things about sports drinks:
1. Parents often are weary of sports drinks because of the sugar content. Keep in mind that sports drink provide 3 things to an athlete's working body: fluid, electrolytes and sugar. The sugar content is relatively low compared to other sweet drinks such as juice and soda. In fact, 1 cup of regular sports drink is an amount of sugar equivalent to 1 piece of fruit or 1 slice of bread. The sweetness of the sports drinks also encourages more fluid intake than plain water.

2. Dentists often speak poorly of sports drinks, citing research showing that sugary drinks increase cavities. Note that studies involved teeth that were continuously exposed/submersed in sports drink, which of course is not applicable to real life. The closest comparison would be the athlete who continuously sips sports drink throughout the course of the day. This is unnecessary. Sports drinks were are called such because they are meant to be drunk during sports...and that's it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sports RD Race Report: 23 Weeks Pregnant and Racing a Hilly 5 Miles

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to run the Downers Grove 5-Miler at 23 weeks pregnant. What made this race more special is that this was actually my second time running the race while pregnant. My first time was in 2012 when I was 25 weeks pregnant with my first child. This time - at 23 weeks pregnant and exercising much less frequently than with the first pregnancy - I was excited and curious to see how I would do. So here it race report.

Night before: Saturday
This will not be the epic example of a night before race meal for two reasons:
1. A 5-mile race does not require epic eating the night before - though should still be well-rounded.
2. I was at a wedding.

-Salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, shaved Parmesan and a light cream-based dressing.
-3 ounces chicken, 1/3 cup mashed potatoes, roll and some type dough with mushrooms stuffed inside. Asparagus was also served, but that is the one vegetable I cannot make myself enjoy.
-To drink was water and a small amount of diet coke. No alcohol for obvious reasons, though I wouldn't have anyway.
-Dessert was (yup) cake with a few fresh berries along with decaf coffee.

Sadly bedtime was midnight (boo), but that's the cost of going to a great wedding!

Morning of: Sunday
Up at 5:50am
Breakfast at 5:55am: Two pieces of whole wheat toast with 2 Tbsp peanut butter and 1.5 Tbsp honey; 8 ounces skim milk; 3 cups water before I left the house

6:10am: Left the house and drank 2 cups water on the way

6:35am: Arrived on-site. Picked up packet. Back to the car for a final 3 ounces of water.

6:45-7:15am: Warm-ups, stretching, strapped on my belly support band, multiple bathroom breaks

7:20am: 2 ounces water from a cooler for participants

7:30am Race Start
My goal for this race was 45 minutes flat. I had previously run a 42:59 in 2012. At that time, I was exercising 5 days per week, including lifting 2x/week. Unfortunately I was also suffering from shin splits from that belly hanging out in front of me and extra weight overall. Fast-forward to this pregnancy where I have been exercising maybe 3x/week but running exclusively/only while pushing my 20-month old and controlling my dog who trots along beside me. No shin splints this time, but some extreme calf pain. So, weighing all that, I determined that beating the 2012 time was not likely.

As I started the race, I had to hold myself back from my usual sprint start. I knew if I started TOO fast, I would run out of steam too quickly. My first mile was 7:45....faster than what I meant to do, but definitely not close to my non-pregnant 6:30 typical first mile. So I intentionally allowed myself to slow down and just run my race. Those who know me will realize how difficult it is for me to allow others to pass me and pull my pace back. But, I can honestly say I could not have run any faster than I was, even at the pace I held. With each mile, the pace got slightly slower, but stayed close to the 8:15/8:30 mark. My severe calf pain disappeared around mile 2.5 just as the hilly course turned flat until mile 4.25. Right around mile 4.25, my body decided it was time for the race to be done - likely because the rolling hills returned. Luckily right at that moment, a chiropractor I know who had just finished the race appeared and began cheering me on. That encouragement got me through that last 0.75 mile as I approached the finish.

Seeing the finish line was phenomenal. I somehow picked up the pace slightly (it's all relative, right?) and ran it in down the homestretch. Being able to see the time clock for the last 300m or so was actually helpful motivation to get me there faster. I crossed the finish line at 41:47...significantly improved from my 45 min goal time (which - lets be honest - was probably being a bit conservative for my competitive spirit). Mile pace was 8:22 vs. my typical 7:30ish non-pregnant mile pace.

Post-race fueling included 1 bottle of water, 3/4 bagel with part cream cheese and part peanut butter, 1/3 banana and 2 slices of orange.
Closing Thoughts
Overall, it was a painfully great pregnant 5-miler. I thought it would be my last race this pregnancy, but who knows. A 5K in July sounds kind of nice...

Be Extraordinary,


Friday, June 20, 2014

4 World Cup Nutrition Tips for Soccer Players

With the World Cup in full swing, everyone has soccer on the mind. For the aspiring players out there, here are 4 nutrition tactics you can use to improve your game immediately.

1. Start with hydration
Soccer is a fast-moving game, often played in the heat of the summer or on humid indoor fields. To maintain hydration levels during the game, drink 2 cups water 2 hours before, 1 cup water 1 hour before and 3 cups of water per hour of play. Heavy sweaters should consider sports drink in place of water. If play continues longer than one hour, sports drink is a must. Remember that even a 2% loss in body weight affects performance on the field.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Athlete Dads: Why you should grill this Father's Day Weekend!

With the summer season here, it is prime grilling time. And what better weekend to do this than Father's Day weekend? Whether you are the dad taking the lead or the son grilling up something special for the occasion, you are making a great choice! Grilling is a healthy way to prepare food for many reasons.

1. Grilling decreases fat
Instead of cooking in fat, the fat drips off of the food, which decreases the overall fat content of the meat.

2. Grilling retains moisture
Grilling sears the food, which helps retain moisture. This means added fats such as butter are unnecessary, which further helps to reduce total calories.