Many families these days, mine included, invest large amounts of time and money in youth sports. We sign up for camps, seek out training opportunities, spend countless weekends traveling to tournaments, meets and games all to help our young athletes develop into their full potential. But how many of us put that same thought and effort into fueling our players' bodies?
Nutrition is the missing component in many athlete’s training programs, whether adults or kids and teens. What you eat before and after a workout or game is important for optimum performance and recovery. This overlooked piece can be remedied with a few simple steps and some advanced planning. Be sure to always remember the golden rule-nothing new on game day! Try these tips before the big day to be sure your athlete feels and performs their best.
Eat your breakfast
Choose simple, easy to digest foods. "Good carbohydrates" (such as whole grains) and protein will supply the energy needed to fuel your athlete. Whole grain toast or bagels topped with nut butter and fruit, egg sandwich or wraps, oatmeal with fruit, or smoothies are all good options that don't take a lot of time to prepare.
Hydration is crucial for performance. Dehydration can lead to cramping, dizziness and worse. At the very least it makes athletes feel sluggish and tired. Drinking plenty of water the day of isn't enough. Begin increasing water consumption several days before the game or race. Trying to drink too much the day of can backfire and doesn't properly hydrate the body. No one wants to run with a belly full of sloshing water! On a daily basis aim to drink enough that urine is light to clear.
If your athlete has long breaks between games or doesn't play until after school snacks are an important part of preparing for competition. The right snack re-energizes and refuels your athlete. The wrong snack can lead to belly aches, cramping and nausea. Some good options include nut butter or turkey sandwiches on whole grain bread or wraps, fruit, trail mix, or string cheese. In a pinch low sugar, minimally processed protein or granola bars or pretzels will keep your athlete going. Avoid high sugar, fatty or greasy foods before competing (and in general!).
Recover & Refuel
Now is the time to replenish what the body used up. Re-hydrate immediately after and fuel up with lean protein and good carbs! In the 30-60 minutes post game your athlete may benefit from additional protein and easy to digest carbs. Good old chocolate milk is a favorite with my boys! Follow up with a healthy dinner and your athlete will be ready to hit the field, court or track again in no time!
Have a tip for fueling young athletes or even grown up weekend warriors? Share it with us!
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Learning to eat clean at any age is no easy feat. As adults, we have a lifetime of unhealthy habits to break and misinformation to unlearn. My family never had a terribly unhealthy diet but I quickly found there was lots of room for improvement when I got serious about improving my health and food choices a few years ago. My boys were already school aged by this time and were less than thrilled with some of the changes I made to our grocery list! There were some bumps along the way but over time I discovered the secret to getting kids to eat healthy without fighting or forcing it on them. Want to hear it? The secret is.......wait for it.........patience. Sorry, that's it. Patience. The biggest difference between parents who raise healthy eaters and those who don't is a simple combination of patience and refusal to give up.
Teaching our kids to eat healthy from a young age can help them avoid the struggles that many adults have when they set out to change their eating habits for the better. In an ideal world our kids aren't exposed to unhealthy choices to start with and learn healthy habits from their first foods. Older kids who already love junk food? No worries! It's never too late to teach your kids healthy eating habits! Naturally, the younger they are, the easier it will be but with patience and determination you can still raise healthy eaters. I have a few simple strategies you can use to get your kids on board with clean eating at any age.
1. Give them a voice
Children of all ages love to feel like their opinions count. Ask your kids to help plan meals, let them choose between several healthy snack options, encourage them to help pack their lunch for school or daycare. If they have a voice in choosing what healthy foods to eat they will be much more likely to eat them.
2. Shop together
I know, I know! Grocery shopping with kids can turn a quick errand into a punishing chore. I have 3 children. Trust me, taking 3 children to the grocery store is not for the faint of heart. Yet just like with #1, taking the little humans shopping is a great way to encourage them to try new foods. It gives them control and makes them part of the process. Kids will be far more excited about a new fruit or veggie they got to pick out than one that just showed up on their dinner plate.
3. Be Adventurous
Get out of the food rut we all fall into from time to time and try some new recipes! Grab a stack of cookbooks or cooking magazines, watch a cooking show or competition, search Pinterest-there are so many options! Let the kids pick out new recipes to try as a family. Some of our favorite recipes are things the boys have found and asked to try. There will be a few recipe fails along the way but that's part of the fun!
4. Get cooking
Now that you've chosen new recipes get in the kitchen and cook together. Even little ones can help wash produce, add and stir ingredients and help with food prep that doesn't involve cutting or heat. Older kids can measure ingredients, begin to learn safe knife skills, and much more. Learning to cook is a valuable life skill and a lesson most kids really enjoy. Helping to create the meal gives them ownership and a feeling of being part of the process (do you sense a theme here?).
5. Get your hands dirty
Planting a garden is a fun way to teach kids about where food comes from and may encourage them to eat more fruits and veggies. My kids love choosing the seeds to grow each spring. Watching them grow from a sprout to a plant to a producing plant is fun and educational. They are always proud of the produce they grew by themselves and can't wait to eat the fruits of their labor (bad pun intended lol). Short on space? Go vertical or stick to container gardens.
6. Lead by example
A friend once told me she missed eating asparagus. She didn't buy it because her family didn't like it. I would encourage you to buy and eat all the fruits, veggies and healthy foods you love even if not a single soul in your house will join you in eating it. Kids hate to be preached at (don't we all!). Offer healthy options, let your kids see you eating a wide variety of foods and make them available without pushing them. You may be pleasantly surprised when they begin to follow your lead.
7. Never give up
Change doesn't come over night. There may be lots of new foods your kids refuse to accept. There will be things they try and hate. Don't get discouraged! One of the biggest mistakes parents make is quitting after one try. It may take dozens of attempts before kids are willing to accept a new food. Try different preparations or present the food in new ways and encourage kids to try just one bite each time. The first time my kids tried cooked zucchini they hated it. Now grilled zucchini (from our garden!) is one of their favorite side dishes. It takes time and persistence. All the little changes you make over time add up to big changes down the road!
Have your own tips and tricks for raising healthy eaters? Share with us in the comments! And don't forget to check out the Facebook page for more tips!
I know the wonders of coconut oil are nothing new! The internet is full of ways to incorporate coconut oil into your healthy living routine. But if you're like me, your always on the hunt for a few new (and practical!) ways to use the things you already have in your home. I began using coconut oil as a diaper rash treatment when my daughter was a baby on the recommendation of a friend. It worked better and faster than anything I'd ever tried. So well, in fact, that I was left with a big tub of oil and no clue what to do with it. I began to experiment with using it as a substitute for all kinds of beauty products and it did not disappoint. This little tub of magic can take the place of all kinds of products filled with nasty chemicals you don't want to put on yourself or your children. Check out 15 ways you can incorporate coconut oil into your daily routine below! And remember- When purchasing coconut oil be sure to look for unrefined, organic oil. You want to avoid extra processing that will reduce the natural goodness of the oil.
There are so many uses for coconut oil that I didn't include here and many that I've yet to try. If you have a great use for coconut oil share it with us in the comments!
I have a confession. If I am in line with you at the grocery check out, I am totally checking out what you have in your cart. It is a longtime nosy obsession/guilty pleasure. I love seeing what other people are buying and eating! I don't peek to be judgmental or to feel better about my own choices. Think of it more as reality t.v. for the grocery store! We all love a little glimpse of how others live and food shopping is no different! I've been doing it for as long as I can remember so I thought today I would give you a peek at what I have in my cart on any given shopping trip.
One of the hardest things about starting a clean eating journey is figuring out just what on earth you should eat. It is incredibly important to go to the store with a plan. Figure out what you plan to cook for the week, make a list, stick to it and save big! I absolutely hate to waste food. It is just like throwing my hard earned money in the trash AND it makes me feel bad knowing how many people struggle with hunger and here I am pitching food in the trash. I plan my meals, make my list and then to make life easier, I created a digital master list of our grocery staples. Why work harder when you can work smarter? #efficiencyforthewin Having an editable list allows me to quickly check off what I need and gives me space to add in things I may not buy on a regular basis. No more hastily scribbled lists and forgotten items!
I found a pretty downloadable (and free!) grocery list printable on the lovely website Clementine Creative. Visit her site to download your own copy of the file and while you're there check out her beautiful work and generous collection of freebies!
Simply customize the headings to fit your family's needs, add your staple items and check off what you need as you plan your shopping trip for the week. Check out the file below for my personal list and see just what I've got in my cart!
It's no secret that I love yoga. I've been practicing on an off for about 15 years. I discovered yoga through, of all things, cable television. There weren't any studios in my town at that time so practicing with a live person wasn't even an option. While flipping through stations one day I stumbled across a high energy instructor who played fun, contemporary music and made yoga fun, not stuffy and intimidating. There was no chanting or "oooommmms" involved and it was a great workout to boot. I was hooked. I practiced along with the show for years until it went off the air. I was so sad! My yoga practice pretty much stalled at this point. I had babies and toddlers to take care of and little time for finding a class to take the place of my beloved program. If only YouTube had existed then! I could have continued my practice from home. How did we survive before the internet? Luckily, a few years later I was able to find a local studio with a welcoming and attentive teacher and classmates who quickly became friends. Around the same time, I found a wealth of classes on YouTube I could do from home when I couldn't make it to the studio. I suffered through my share of less than stellar classes but through trial and error found some really fantastic classes and instructors that I loved! I still prefer the studio over home practice but YouTube is a great alternative when need be!
One of the comments I get most often is "I want to try yoga but I don't know how". Many people are intimidated by going to a studio, especially if they are yoga newbies. They picture the stereotypical studio as portrayed by popular culture and are hesitant to take that first step through the door. Many studios are far from this stereotype and I'm confident most people can find the right fit with a little trial and error. Unfortunately, going to a studio isn't always feasible whether due to time constraints, finances or where you live. This doesn't have to stop you from beginning a practice that can benefit your physical and mental health tremendously. YouTube offers many high quality, full length classes that range from beginner to advanced practices. Searching out the best instructors and classes can be overwhelming and time consuming so I did the work for you! Today I am sharing my top 5 favorite YouTube yoga channels so you can practice at home. Check them out and be sure to let me know who you tried out in the comments section!
1. Yoga by Candace
This was the first YouTube yoga channel I discovered that offered high quality, full length classes. It remains one of my favorite channel for all things yoga. Classes are organized in a variety of ways (length of video, type, body part focus, etc.) so it is easy to find the right class for your needs. Candace has a soothing voice and gives clear instructions. There is a companion blog and community forum as well as a free app so you can take your practice with you wherever you go!
2. Yoga with Adriene
Great channel for beginners with a wide variety of classes to choose from. Practicing with Adriene feels like hanging out with a fun girlfriend. This channel offers an extensive class list and is nicely organized to make it easy to find just what you are looking for. This is a perfect channel to start your yoga journey!
3. Sean Vigue Fitness
If you think yoga is stuffy and serious then you have to check out this channel. Sean Vigue makes yoga fun and anything but stuffy. This is a great channel for those looking for fitness based yoga and is perfect for guys who think yoga is just for the ladies. Sean offers a free 30 Day program for beginners as well as classes geared towards athletes, classes for weight loss and so much more. There is also a free app to complement this channel.
4. Fightmaster Yoga
Leslie Fightmaster (yes, that is her real name!) offers a wide variety of full length classes, including a free 30 Day program for beginners and a 90 Day Yoga Fix program. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and she offers a variety of modifications to fit all ability levels. New videos are uploaded weekly so you never have to worry about getting bored!
5. Yoga with Tim
This channel offers high quality yoga classes with a focus on having a balanced practice. There is a free 30 Day Total Body program to create total mind and body wellness. The classes are perfect for beginners and seasoned yogis alike.
Have a favorite channel I didn't include? Share it with us in the comments!
Picnic season is upon us! Graduation parties, barbecues, holiday celebrations... summer is the time for party food! This can be a real challenge if you are committed to eating clean. It's tough to find healthy options among the creamy, cheesy, calorie and fat laden party favorites. Today I'm sharing one of my favorite dishes to take to potlucks, parties, showers and more! Rice Salad is a delicious and updated alternative to classic pasta salad. It's a versatile recipe that can easily be adapted to meet your family's veggie preferences. I first had this salad years ago when my sister made it. Everyone raved over it and I had to have the recipe! Of course, I can't leave any recipe as-is so in the years since I've altered it to fit our flavor preferences and come up with this simple recipe that will be the hit of any party. Since this recipe doesn't use a creamy dressing it is safer to leave out on the buffet table than many traditional picnic salads. No one wants to end the party with a bout of food poisoning!
The original recipe starts with a base of chilled white rice but you can experiment with basmati rice, quinoa blends or ancient grains. Find the combination that works for you!
Plan to make it? Share your favorite variation with us in the comments!
This weekend was a big one for me! I turned 40 and ran not one, but two Spartan Races to celebrate my big day. To make it even better, my oldest son and husband ran both with me. We took on the Virginia Super on Saturday, a beautiful 9 mile course dotted with 28 challenging obstacles. It was my first attempt at the competitive division and my first race in the Master's age division! I finished in a respectable 3rd place in my age group and 12th female overall. We had such a great time on the course that we decided to come back the next day and take on the shorter Sprint course just for fun....or at least that was the plan. Turns out this family is a little too competitive to do a "just for fun" lap. Sunday's finish landed me in 2nd place in my age group and 4th female overall in a small field of women finishers. It was awesome watching my 14 year old son overcome each obstacle with determination and grit. He refused the offers of women's weights for heavy carries and put grown men to shame with his refusal let any obstacle beat him. I loved hearing all of the cheers and encouraging words other racers offered him time and time again. It was truly a weekend and birthday I won't forget!
The combined 13 miles of running and roughly 50 obstacles coupled with a 5 hour drive home left us feeling pretty sore and beat up the next day. Even if crazy obstacle races aren't your thing, you probably know the feeling all too well. We've all been there. You worked hard the day before and when you roll out of bed in the morning-ouch! You feel like you've been hit by a truck. Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is no joke. I've pushed my muscles to the limit too many times to count and I want to share my tried and true methods for reducing pain and speeding the recovery process with you. Remember, recovery days are part of the process and pushing yourself too far invites injury and burn out. When you are sore and fatigued take a day off or enjoy gentle recovery activities like hiking or swimming. Always listen to your body and respect when it is telling you to slow down and take on a little self care!
Whether it is caused by a workout you took to new limits, a full day of yard work or a weekend full of home remodeling projects, the DOMS aches and pains can be enough to slow you down. But they don't have to! Try my no-fail methods for recovery day success!
The end of the school year is here-yay! That means lots of time to spend with the kids enjoying a well deserved break from busy school schedules. With all that extra free time comes the inevitable chorus of "I'm bored" once the novelty of being home all day wears off. Summer is the perfect time for family workouts disguised (or not!) as playing. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Help the kids beat boredom (without a device in their hands!) while also getting a great workout.
Here are 6 of my favorite family friendly workouts:
Most kids love exploring nature. Hit the trails to get a great workout and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time! Older kids can enjoy taking on challenging terrain or longer distances while little one will love a nature walk or scavenger hunt. Bonus workout for mom and dad if you make the trek with the littlest one on your back!
Cycling is fun for kids of all ages. Find a bike trail or park near you or explore your neighborhood. Don't forget the helmets!
Yoga is a great family activity and can be done at any age. It requires little to no equipment, very little space and can be modified to fit any age or ability level. Check out your local studio or practice at home using free online videos through YouTube. Another fun option to try is yoga cards-this one always ends in laughs at our house! There a lots of kid friendly options out there! Explore your options to find the right fit for your family!
4. Playground Circuits
This one might get you a few funny looks from the other parents but your kids will be the envy of the playground! Join in the fun instead of watching from the sidelines. Playgrounds offer lots of opportunities for fitness fun. Monkey Bars are great for pull ups and dead hangs-unleash your inner Ninja Warrior and swing from bar to bar! Park benches are perfect for step ups, decline push ups, jumps, triceps dips and more. Get creative-climb poles or ropes, run, jump- do anything that your 10 year old self would have loved! Sky's the limit!
5. Fun Run 5K
We are a family of runners. Not everyone is! But that doesn't mean your family can't enjoy one of the many fun runs that can be found most weekends during the summer and early fall. There is a theme to fit just about every interest these days. You'll find races featuring things like bubbles, colored powder, zombies, costumes, mud and more. Grab your family and friends and hit the road for a fun day! Bonus-many races benefit worth while charities. Do good and have fun at the same time!
6. TV Fit Breaks
Not every summer day is picture perfect. When rainy days or high temperatures keep you indoors turn to TV fit breaks to stay active. Use commercial breaks to challenge the fam to see how many push-ups, high knees, squats, jumping jacks, sit ups, etc. they can fit in before the break is over. Give the moves silly names for younger kids, take turns pretending to be the Coach or play Simon Says. Have older kids who love competition? The person with the most reps gets to control the remote!
What activities keep your family on the move? Share your favorites with us in the comments and inspire other families to join in the fun!
Short on time? Intimidated by meal prepping? Try this beginner friendly way to prep your lunches AND plan your dinners at the same time!
Here’s the truth- eating clean is more time consuming and requires more planning than just eating whatever you happen to grab from the drive thru or making old favorites that taste delicious but are heavy, high in calories and low on nutrition. Sorry, there’s no magic trick out there. Just like all good things, eating healthy requires good old fashioned hard work, dedication to a goal and planning ahead so nothing deters you from that goal. Is it easy? No. Especially at first. But it is worth it and it does get easier- I promise!
I’ve put together a 5 day menu of meal prepped lunches created predominantly from week night dinner leftovers. This plan was a lifesaver for my husband and I recently when we found ourselves too busy to prep on a recent Sunday. It was a great excuse to get creative with our lunches and also helped make dinnertime easier since I’d planned ahead. No more last minute trips to the store or scrambling to come up with dinner ideas when everyone was tired and hungry after a long day.
Remember, this is just a suggested meal plan. You may make substitutions to fit your family’s needs. The key to success is finding healthy foods you love and want to eat! Try it out for yourself!
It's May! If your family is anything like mine the month of May is packed full of activities. Sports, family gatherings, end of school year programs and more fill the family calendar. On top of that, hubby and I are training for a half marathon obstacle course race at the end of the month so we need to use our limited hours at home wisely. I'm always looking for ways to balance training and meal prepping with our family time, errands and other commitments. I value all of these things and don't want to give up on any one of them!
As the days have gotten warmer and the sun started setting later we've struggled a little to get our Sunday meal prep done. Let's be honest, it is much easier to spend an hour in the kitchen meal prepping when it is cold and ugly out than when it's 75 and sunny! So how do I balance my desire to be outside enjoying the beautiful spring weather with my equally strong need to have healthy lunches ready to go each day? In times like these I rely on time saving kitchen hacks and gadgets. Time to work smarter-not harder!
I have two can't live without it kitchen appliances that help me save time, cook with less mess and save me from eating sad school lunches even on the weeks we fail to prep properly.
(BTW-This is not a sponsored post-I really do own and love both of these appliances! )
The first is a rice cooker. When my husband suggested getting one of these I was skeptical at best. Another bulky counter top hog that would go the way of the juicer-no thanks. Hubby bought it anyway and soon I realized it was the perfect way to cook those tricky to make ancient grain or mixed rice medleys. I'm a pretty good cook but when it comes to these rice and grain blends I've had limited success on the stove top and down right disaster attempting it in the microwave. I can dump the rice in, add water, push a button and walk away. An hour later I have a week's worth of perfect, healthy grains cooked without a single stir of the spoon from me. These grains make up the basis of many of my lunches. I love using them in burrito bowls, tossed with roasted veggies and grilled chicken, or my new favorite-as a cold salad with a light lemon vinaigrette. Delicious!
My other time saving, can't live without it kitchen appliance is the old stand by slow cooker. I have two different sizes, the one that comes to my rescue is the small, cheapie 3 quart that I picked up on clearance. Best $10 I ever spent! I love my giant slow cooker with all of it's bells and whistles but when it comes to lunch prep sometimes less is more. Its the perfect size for just a few chicken breasts or a small piece of meat and it is ideal for overnight steel cut oats. Easy clean and easy to store it is a lifesaver time and time again. I could never have imagined needing or wanting two slow cookers before I started this journey but now I can't imagine living without them! Each serves its purpose and is invaluable in its own way.
There are so many great kitchen appliances and gadgets that can make healthy cooking easier, more cost effective and even help to reduce food waste. Do you love your spiralizer? Can't live without a bullet blender? Please share your favorites in the comments!
Hi! I'm Erica, a fitness and healthy food loving wife and mother of three here to inspire you on your wellness journey!