One of our newsletter subscribers travels a lot for work and asked us for advice about eating healthy and maintaining some sort of fitness regimen when on the road.
Here are a few tips I shared with her.
- Stay away from fast and fried foods as much as possible!
- ALWAYS order a salad with dressing on the side.
- ALWAYS request a microwave and fridge in your hotel room and USE THEM for quick, healthy meals and snacks (e.g., oatmeal, Greek yogurt, bottled water, fruit, egg whites, hardboiled eggs – boil them in coffee machine)
- Find a local grocery store and purchase a few things to keep in room and purse
- Identify healthy “go-to” meals at healthier restaurants such as Panera,
- ALWAYS schedule time to use the hotel gym AND use it!
- Pack workout gear
- Walk to destinations when you can
- BEWARE of high sodium foods when eating out. Most meals when dining out are BIG sodium traps!
- Eat frequently and in smaller amounts.
- Pack healthy snacks.
- ALWAYS bring a reusable water bottle and keep it filled! (TIP: refill it for free at the hotel’s fitness center)
Who says you can’t eat healthy at a live professional sports game? I suppose having media credentials and treating all facility staff with the utmost kindness and respect allows me to bring my snack bag into each game, but hey, I’ll take it!
This is something I threw together in less than 7 minutes! I honestly didn’t know what I was going to take to the game, I just knew I had to pack SOMETHING–or else! I opened the refrigerator and made this up on the fly. Here are the ingredients.
1/2 c. Brown rice
1/2 c. Organic baby spinach
1/3 c. English cucumber (with peel)
1/2 can Albacore tuna fish (canned in water)
1/4 c. Chopped carrots
1 Tbsp. Italian dressing
Layer the ingredients in your to-go dish, pop the top on, throw it on an ice pack, and GO! Oh, don’t forget your fork.
Basic Nutrition Facts: 294 cal, 33g carb, 6g fat, 28g protein, 475 sodium, 4g sugars
SODIUM ALERT! SODIUM ALERT!
Yikes! This meal has more sodium than I thought. Low sodium alternative: ditch the dressing and use a little extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon or lime juice. Also, see if you can find some low sodium or no salt added albacore tuna.
Oftentimes when we go to the gym to exercise, we end up going through the motions. We do a little bit of this. We do a little bit of that. Lift. Do some cardio. Stretch. And call it a day.
But what if we trained like everyone was watching?
For trainers, what if we trained like our clients were watching? For all of us, what if we trained like all of the people who look up to us were watching?
Just the other day, I started my workout on an indoor basketball court at a local rec center. I did some static, active, and dynamic stretching, speed, agility, and quickness drills, and a little bit of strength and core work using my body weight as resistance. This was a very typical warm-up for me.
As I was doing my warm-up on one half of the court, two young ladies were shooting around with their coach while two family members watched on. Little did I know just how much they were paying attention to what I was doing way on the other side of the court.
As I began to pack up and exit the gym with my headphones still on, I received a standing ovation from all five of them. I removed an earbud and asked, “Why are you clapping?”
Their responses were priceless.
“You’re better than me. I don’t know how you were doing all of that.”
“I’ll never be able to do that. I was exercising through you.”
“You must eat super healthy, right?”
“That’s what ya’ll (coach pointing to his two players) need to be doing.”
We chatted a little bit about the importance of clean eating and exercise performance. Afterwards, I hit the weight room and continued to train like everyone was watching.
5 Key Takeaways:
Always be a stickler for exercise form.
Have a game plan for your training session and execute it.
Take your training seriously.
Always represent YOU because you are your brand.
Remember, you can motivate anyone anywhere anytime.
Every day I receive a “Today’s Word” email from Joel and Victoria Osteen. Admittedly, I don’t read them every day. I do manage to read most of them. This morning’s email is entitled, “Pursue Your Strengths.”
Below is an excerpt from the email.
“God has equipped each one of us with specific gifts and talents. It’s up to each of us to identify those gifts and be disciplined enough to develop them. You have to learn to stay in your strength zone. What are you naturally good at? What do you enjoy doing? Take the time to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and as the Scripture says, give yourself to your gifts. In other words, don’t spend all your time trying to improve your weaknesses. Don’t waste valuable days pursuing things that are outside your main gifting. Focus on your strengths. Be bold and step out in the area of your gifting.”
I couldn’t help but to think about how today’s word overlaps with fitness and wellness.
BE DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO DEVELOP.
Consistency. Perseverance. Will. Planned. Purposeful. These are essential ingredients to staying disciplined. Repetition of healthy habits translates into personal and physical development and growth.
STAY IN YOUR STRENGTH ZONE.
Listen to your body and find your “sweet spot.” This is that special place where you know you are pushing yourself enough to grow, feel challenged, and a little bit uncomfortable. Our bodies love to go through a process called General Adaptation Syndrome*. As a result, we must keep it guessing with purposeful and diverse exercises.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?
This is something I always ask my clients during their consultation. It’s super important for exercise to be fun and challenging. In the words of famous ice creamster, Jerry Greenfield, “if it’s not fun, why do it?” If you don’t know what you enjoy doing, start trying new things. Have fun experimenting with new healthy activities to find your niche!
Disclaimer: I sincerely apologize if I now have you thinking about ice cream and you’re trying to keep this yummy delicious treat to a minimum in your diet. (I scream. You scream. We all scream for what? ICE CREAM!)
IMPROVE YOUR WEAKNESSES.
Although the article suggests to not focus on your weaknesses, part of the fitness and wellness journey is to hold a mirror up to your daily healthy or not-so-healthy habits and identify areas you seek improvement. The magic happens when you can lean upon your strengths to help you improve your weaknesses. For example, if you have a solid knowledge base about healthy eating and reading food labels, use that to help you improve pre-planning meals and prepping your meals each week. Here’s another example. if you’re a super organized person, why not apply your organizational skills to mapping out your weekly fitness and wellness program (days, times, exercises, meal prep days, grocery shopping, etc.)?
It’s amazing what happens as a byproduct of pursuing your strengths. For example, instead of telling yourself, “I need to stop drinking alcohol,” instead try telling yourself, “I drink least 64 ounces of water daily.” As a result, alcohol (or sugary beverage) intake ends up decreasing.
It’s not about what you cannot do, it’s about what you CAN do. There are so many things that we can individually and collectively do. Start there.
“Do not neglect your gift…”
(1 Timothy 4:14, NIV)
*General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) is a process in which the human body’s kinetic chain adapts to stress placed upon it. GAS is divided into a three phase process. The first phase, alarm reaction, involves the body’s initial reaction to a stressor. It commonly results in delayed onset muscle soreness. An example is performing 12 reps of push ups and being sore in your chest and arms the next day. In the second phase, resistance development, the body “increases its functional capacity to adapt to the stressor” (NASM, 2014, p. 305). In other words, your body gets smarter and starts to get used to muscle movement patterns and resistance load. For example, if you keep doing standard push ups over 2-3 weeks, your body will adapt to this exercise. If you slightly alter the push up (e.g., push-ups with one arm on floor and one arm on an unstable surface), your body will be a little confused and go back to Phase 1. The last stage, exhaustion, is a phase we don’t want to visit. Here, you would experience too much physical stress on your body and result in injury, emotional fatigue, and joint pain.
With a last name the same as a medicinal herb known for its calming and healing qualities, Los Angeles Sparks starting center Jantel Lavender has calmed any anxiety about the void of several Sparks’ players Candace Parker, Kristi Tolliver, Nneka Ogwumike) out of commission early this season. Jantel’s stats are the best of her career in average points (15.1), rebounds (9.6), assists (1.8), and minutes (36) played per game. She has already touted five double-doubles this season. Although her additional playing time may be a result of teammate Parker’s absence from the roster, Jantel has shown the WNBA and its fans what she is fully capable of day in and day out.
As a college athlete at The Ohio State University (OSU), Jantel was the only player, male or female, to be selected Big Ten Conference Player of the Year four straight seasons (2007-08 through 2010-11). She is the all-time career scoring leader (2,818 points) at OSU and she holds the rebounding record (1,422) in the NCAA Big Ten Conference.
Originally selected by the Los Angeles Sparks as the number five pick in the first round of the 2011 WNBA Draft, Jantel Lavender currently holds the third best rebounding average per game in the WNBA at 9.6 rebounds per game—closely trailing Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne (9.9 rpg) and Tulsa Shock’s Courtney Paris (10.3 rpg). She also holds the number nine slot for average points per game (15.1 ppg) this season.
On June 23, 2015, I sat down with the six foot four inch starting Sparks center after her team suffered their sixth regular season loss (Washington Mystics 84, Sparks 80). Lavender finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots.
We chatted a little bit about her fitness, wellness, and nutrition.
What are some of the things you do (on and off season) to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually?
That’s crazy because I actually meditate before games and…yoga helps me a lot just to be calm [and] to stay focused for the game. My regimen is usually just to meditate for 30 minutes before a game—have a quiet, calm area and just kind of reflect on what I want the outcome to be.
What is your prospective on the Los Angeles Sparks’ pre-game warm-up and collective team preparation before games?
We get a really good workout. We sweat a lot—it’s just a lot of movement trying to get your body into game motions. We stretch, but we also do movements that [mimic] some of the stuff that we’re going to see in the game and how we’re going to be defended. It’s great. It’s a good warm-up. We all get a nice sweat going so that we can be ready for the game.
For your position, what type of exercises have proven to be the most beneficial to you on-the-court? And why?
Definitely [the] weight room for sure. I’m always in the weight room. Squats—keeping my legs strong because it’s a lot of bodying and getting low to box out for rebounds. The weight room is my best friend. I love to do upper body because there’s a lot of banging in the post and to get those rebounds you’ve got to be strong. So definitely, hitting the weights hard.
What are your “go-to” healthy snacks and meals?
I love seaweed snacks from Trader Joe’s. I eat those. I shop a lot at Trader Joe’s. I eat a lot of cashews, nuts, and salads and stuff. I try to stay away from red meat. I eat chicken and fish and vegetables. I love salads and spinach. They have a place in L.A. (Los Angeles) called Lemonade. They have a series of like 20 different salads and I go there usually almost all the time for lunch. [I’m] just trying to eat healthy—sometimes I have a donut or something, but most of the time I eat healthy [and] try to stay fueled for the game.
What advice would you give high school girls basketball players who have dreams of playing professionally one day?
Definitely start lifting weights now. It’s separates you tremendously when you get to the collegiate level and professional [level]. I started lifting when I was in the eighth grade. It [provided] a tremendous difference in my speed [and] my strength when I got to those levels. People were shocked [at] how strong I was. And definitely [start] eating healthy. Just making sure you eat healthy and watch your diet. A lot of times girls think it’s not that important when they are that young, but it is. You don’t have to have a strict diet like we (WNBA athletes) do, but I think that making sure you get a salad, making sure you get a well-balanced breakfast—that type of stuff is very essential to their health. I would say the weight room is the number one thing that separated me when I was in high school.
Below are six key takeaways from Jantel’s personal fitness, nutrition, and self-care regimen.
- Set positive intentions and visualize.
- Eat healthy.
- Life weights.
- Incorporate functional and game specific movements into a dynamic warm-up.
It was very clear just how important health, fitness, and nutrition are to Jantel as she passionately spoke about her daily practices and advice for others. She smiled the entire time we spoke.
A special thank you again to Jantel for dedicating her time to speak with me after the game.
Follow Jantel Lavender on Twitter @jlav42
Washington Mystics and WNBA media credential access via Unique Starz Sports & Entertainment
What do I mean by this?
Today’s blog was inspired by one of my personal training clients. Over the weekend I asked her to brainstorm some ways she can maintain both her fitness and nutrition regimen while out of town at a professional conference. When our Monday evening training session commenced, I asked her if she had given any thought to her anticipated travel schedule later this month.
Her responses blew me away!
Needless to say, her ideas fill almost all of the content of today’s blog post. Let’s call her ideas CFWTs…that’s short for Conference Fitness & Wellness Tips.
CFWT #1: Think about what you NEED to support your fitness and wellness goals.
Extra soft pillows?
An extra large refrigerator to store all of the fresh foods you purchase at a nearby market?
No coffee maker with cream and sugar packets in the room? (eliminate the temptation) No wet bar with alcoholic beverages? (once again, eliminate temptation)
Maybe a tea kettle and caffeine free tea packets instead of coffee?
A room far from or close to the elevator and/or ice machine?
A pool? Free weights? Resistance bands?
Maybe you need to buy a small, travel sized foam roller or resistance band to bring with you…
*Student Affairs administrator, Tara Rabinowitz, recently suggested bringing your favorite protein or superfood shake and shaker cup.
Think about your environment at home and what makes it affirming of your fitness and wellness goals and daily practices. How can you recreate some of those elements while traveling. Make a list and have it handy for CFWT #2…
CFWT #2: Call the conference hotel at least one week BEFORE your conference. Find out if they have a fitness center, a microwave and/or refrigerator in your guest room, what restaurants are onsite or nearby, and see if there are any local hiking, biking, walking, running trails and parks.
Ask for what you need. If you don’t ask for it, the hotel will not provide it. You may be surprised about the accommodations they can make for you IN ADVANCE.
CFWT #3: Proactively identify ways you can eat unprocessed, whole-grain, fresh, organic and non-GMO (if possible) and nutrient rich foods during your trip.
My client told me her partner will mail her a care package full of healthy foods. This way she does not have to shop for it when she arrives at her conference hotel. She’ll be all set from Day 1!
Can you pack a travel size cooler that you can bring filled up with your favorite healthy goodies to your conference sessions?
Do you know some of the places you may “have” to eat at for networking and social events? Can you access the menu PRIOR to your trip? Figure out what the healthy meals and possibilities can be before you arrive at the restaurant.
Have a back up plan!
Bring a refillable water bottle or buy a few big 2L bottles and store them in your room so you can drink at least 1 per day.
CFWT #4: Get your hands on the conference agenda IN ADVANCE.
First, identify everything you MUST attend.
Second, identify everything you WANT to attend (maybe mark this in a different color).
Third, identify time in the days you will dedicate to implementing your fitness workout, showering, AND eating. Be willing to compromise your WANTS for your fitness and wellness goals for the week.
If you do all of this in advance, you should be able to find someone who can grab extra handouts and any other resources shared at some of the “WANT” sessions you will not attend.
Lastly, tell somebody at the conference about your fitness and wellness plan for the weekend/week. Maybe invite that person to one of your workouts or alternative healthy meals. Ask someone from back home to check-in with you daily and ask about your daily fitness and nutrition.
Learn more tips about maintaining fitness while traveling! <— that’s a link to my August 2013 blogpost about this topic. Go ahead, click on it.
Safe travels everyone!
Do you have long, thick hair?
Do you have a friend, colleague, or relative with long, thick hair?
Have you or someone you know complained about the weight of their hair and its impact on physical activity?
Here is my story (and concerns). Let me begin by saying I have been growing my locs, a.k.a., dreadlocks, since summer 2008. In October 2014, they extended almost half way down my back. My hair is VERY thick and I guess my hair weighed a solid 10 pounds wet and maybe 1-2 pounds dry. Mind you, I’m totally guessing on the weight of my hair. One day when I cut my locs off I will weigh it dry and wet to get the official numbers. (curious minds want to know)
So, back in November, my hair officially reached the point of “getting on my nerves” and I trimmed 6-8 inches off. I continue to regularly use a variety of bandanas and head bands to try to keep it stationary when I do various exercises. The key word is try.
Let me share some of my hair-tying tricks and discuss some concerns I have about the weight of my hair.
Hair Trick #1: Bandana hair tie. Those little black hair elastics are a joke with my hair. There’s no point even trying to put one around these locs. Plus, they put unnecessary stress on my hair and can weaken my hair over time. Instead, I use a bandana as a hair tie. Check out the image below. I simply wrap that around my hair to form a pony tail. This used to work, but not anymore because my hair grew. On to trick #2…
Hair Trick #2: Wear a bandana like a bandana AND use Hair Trick #1. So, I keep my hair tied up with bandana #1 AND I wrap another bandana (#2) on my head to compress my hair down so I can decrease the amount of bobbity bop movement of my big loc pony tail. Plus, the bandana absorbs my sweat and serves a dual purpose as a head band. You would think this would be enough, but my hair grew more. So, on to trick #3…
Hair Trick #3: Panty hose. Yes, panty hose, control top, to be specific. In addition to Hair Tricks #1 & 2, I resorted to using panty hose as an additional hair stabilizing force. I tie a double or triple knot with the panty hose legs, cut the panty hose legs off, and wear the part where hip/glutes portion over my Hair Trick #1 and then use Hair Trick #2 to secure the panty hose bottom around my head.
Have you ever had that feeling like you’re doing too much? Or life shouldn’t be this hard?
Although I cut 6-8 inches off my hair back in November, I continue to have concerns about the toll the weight of my hair is having on my body and quality of life.
Concern #1. Muscle imbalances: Every day I feel stress in my neck from constantly balancing the weight of my locs. I can especially feel the subtle back and forth and side to side movement of my hair when I do any type of jumping or hopping exercise. I feel like a bobble head with VERY strong neck muscles. Recently, I’ve pinpointed the two muscles that may be most stressed as the sternocleidomastoid and levator scapulae. Each muscle is responsible for decelerating neck extension and flexion, respectively. What impact could this have on my body in the long run? spine
Concern #2. Quality of sleep: It takes me quite a while to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night because of the constant challenge of finding my hair’s sweet spot—the position I can lay my head and not feel like my neck and spine are misaligned. Daily static stretching is my best bet to help ease the stress on my neck muscles, but eventually the day will come for me to chop the locs off (and weigh them).
Concern #3. Limitation of Activities: I’ve learned how I have given my hair the power to make decisions about what I can and cannot do. For example, I will not participate in any outdoor event that involves mud or swimming, nor will I go white water rafting, snorkeling, or any other salty or fresh water immersion activity.
The moral of the story….the time is coming folks. A significant hair chop is coming down the pipeline when the spirit moves me.
Is having long and heavy hair really worth it? What are you willing to sacrifice for your precious locs? Do you see it as a sacrifice? Or is it personal preference?
As Arsenio Hall used to say back in the day, “things that make you go hmmmmm……”
Today is January 1, 2015. The first day of the first month in the year of 2015.
How is today different than yesterday or last year? More importantly, how do you want today to be different than yesterday and last year? Furthermore, how will you make today better than yesterday and last year?
Together, let’s reflect on these words as we begin a new year.
- This year, why not be more mindful of our thoughts? Really challenge ourselves to reframe anything negative and turn it into a positive. Easier said than done, I know, but positive thoughts become a breeding ground for a healthy body. Mr. Gandhi is also famous for his words, “Be the change you want to see.” We can take this one step further and revise his words to say, “Think about the POSITIVE changes you want to see.” And take this another step further–proclaim your thoughts in writing and out loud. The law of attraction is real folks! (Recommended readings: Joyce Meyer’s “Battlefield of the Mind” and Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret”)
- This leads me to thinking about behavior or putting our thoughts into action. Almost every single thing we do every day is a choice. Yes, a choice. We choose to eat. We choose to sleep. We choose to communicate with others. We choose to walk the dog. We choose to buy a new smartphone. We choose to exercise. We choose to our attitude. Even during the most difficult and trying times, yes, we choose our attitude. Do we allow our environment and circumstance to define our attitude or do we choose to maintain a positive, hope-filled attitude grounded by a loving spirit? Author, activist, and amazing person, bell hooks, said, “We cannot effectively resist domination if our efforts to create meaningful, lasting personal and social change are not grounded in a love ethic,” (2011, p. xxiv). Folks, we need to love ourselves enough to be able to choose the right attitude and “create meaningful, lasting personal and social change.” This applies to fitness, wellness, and LIFE!
- Next up, habits–or repeated behaviors over time. Most of us have heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” This assumes we start with the end in mind and often, we don’t define where we want to go and end up doing several things over and over again with no clearly defined direction. Insane? Maybe to some folks, but I prefer to call it lack of a vision, clearly defined goals, and a plan to achieve said goals.Think about it. What do we need to do over and over again to expect the results (plural) we want? Get seven hours of sleep? Read the Quran? Share time with a mentor? Go for morning walks? Practice the art of saying no? Remember what Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Marinate on that for a minute.
- Our habits demonstrate to others what we value. If a stranger was able to view a snap shot of your daily life via a secret camera, what would she think you value? Take some time to reflect on your habits. Challenge yourself to include habits of behaviors that are present and absent from your life. Oftentimes, inactive habits are just as powerful or more powerful than the ones that are active. Write them down. What values do they reveal?
- Last but not least, our values shape our destiny. Now, if you back track up through this list and remember that we originally started with our thoughts, this all makes sense. Instead of saying our values shape our destiny, we can say our thoughts shape our destiny. Check out what Carter G. Woodson said over a century ago about the power of thinking. ““If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do.” Deep, huh? The good news is that you have the power to control your thinking and actions! The next time you think about having a negative thought, try to immediately kick it to the curb or immediately reframe it as an affirming thought.
It’s all connected ya’ll. Thoughts. Words. Behaviors. Habits. Values. Destiny.
Think about these concepts as they apply to your fitness and wellness. Journal about it. Share your thoughts with a confidant. Begin mapping a success plan for your destiny! Get started TODAY!
Happy New Year!
hooks, b. (2001). Salvation: black people and love. New York: Perennial.
It rained last night in DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia. With the rain comes Cleansing and Renewal. Did you know that rain stirs up NEGATIVE IONS in the atmosphere? You may be wondering, what exactly is a negative ion?
Negative Ions are “tasteless, odorless and invisible molecules that we inhale” when we are in environments that contain moving water (e.g., rain, waterfalls, rivers, beaches). “Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.”
What are you waiting for?
Go outside and enJOY the HEALTH BENEFITS of RAIN!
Reference: Mann, D. (2014). Negative ions create positive vibes. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/health/20140301/rain-brings-health-benefits