Check it out, and let me know what questions you have!
Hello again everyone! I have gotten some questions from ahtletes, weekend warriors, and young people in general trying to get in shape about supplements and do they help..... Today we talk about Creatine. Vlog-style this time.
Check it out, and let me know what questions you have!
Today’s topic is a big one, but I’ll try to keep it under control. This is about those situations for those of you on sports teams where you are PASSIONATE and you LOVE your sport and you want to be an AWESOME teammate and you want to please your coach. You’re tough. You know that training can be hard, but you can do it. You care. You want to perform at your peak. And you are hoping that might lead to that college scholarship at your most wished-for college. Or to being recruited for college teams, (pro teams one day even?). So back to pleasing your coach. There are all sorts of things that your coach demands of you to get the best out of you. Sometimes (and you need to keep your eyes open to this) those demands are really dangerous to you. It can kind of sneak up on you and before you know it, you are doing things that your gut tells you is wrong or dangerous.
Now, don’t get me wrong. 99.9% of coaches are in it for the passion – for the athletes and kids - for the team – for the sport. And they really want what’s best for you and for the team. Where this goes a bit off track is when their passion for a “now” result (winning that race, wrestling match, regatta, gymnastics meet, etc) sometimes takes over what is best for you over the long term (for the rest of your life). Usually this passion is enthusiasm, but sometimes it is actually bullying. Yes, a coach can be a bully.
Not sure if your coach might be a bully or of he or she is just a tough demanding coach? Here is a definition from StopBullying.gov, and I have added little examples for you that a coach could do if he/she were bullying:
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
There are three types of bullying: verbal, social and physical.
Verbal bullying is saying mean things and includes: Teasing, Name-calling, Inappropriate sexual comments, Taunting, Threatening to cause harm.
OK, back to the matter at hand. What I wanted to talk in more depth is about “Making Weight”, and more generally about making sure that you athletes are getting enough nutrition to fuel your brains for school, your bodies for puberty, and your muscles for competition. Some sports require weigh-ins to compete at certain weight levels or classes. Others don’t have official weight classes, but there is a general belief that athletic performance is better at a very thin, low fat body make up. You can probably tell me all about these sports, but some are wrestling, gymnastics, cheer, crew, endurance running, figure skating, etc. There is actually a minimum percentage of body fat that a teen has to have to support your growth and health, and to make sure all your hormones are working properly to do their jobs. For females, this is about 15% or more; and for males about 9% or more.
So, what’s the problem? Well, often there is a demand by a coach or an inner drive from yourself, the athlete, to cut weight rapidly before competitions. Crazy things are done to try to make weight or enhance performance. Fasting, running in rubber suits, sitting in a sauna in a garbage bag, drinking no liquids, using laxatives and diuretics to pee and poop extra weight out, vomiting, even spitting to get spit weight out of you. This is what I want to spend some time on.
OK, you’re young. You’re healthy. You’re an elite athlete for goodness sake. Therefore, you are invincible and your body can withstand demands that would take the average teen down. So you’re done reading this. OK, wait a minute – read about these guys who thought they were invincible too. This was big news in the late 90’s (yes, you were babies then, if you existed at all!) :
3 college athletes that died while doing their ritual of rapid weight loss and dehydration to make weight:
You think this doesn’t happen anymore? Here’s totally insane stuff I have heard from a bunch of people that still goes on in high schools.
· Run in a rubber suit (where do you get these things anyway?!) or a trash bag
· Eat nothing.
· Drink lemon juice and cayenne pepper (what?!)
· Eat only 1 or 2 types of food – fruit / vegetable. No protein.
· Take protein supplements.
· No eating before competition.
· No drinking liquids before competition.
You get the idea. What’s the craziest thing you guys have heard? Have done? Have seen done by a teammate? Comments welcome below……
So back to what is the problem?
ONE: Dehydration is a huge problem. Dehydration is defined as more than a 2% decrease in body weight with fluid loss alone. So say you are 160 pounds and you take diuretics or water pills and skip drinking water for 24 hours and then run 4 miles in a Glad Bag. You get down to 155 the next day. That is a 3% fluid body weight loss – totally from dehydrating yourself. So what?
TWO: You need nutrition to grow. The teen years are a time when you are building your body. The body that has to last you for another 60, 70, 80 years. You need even more nutrition to fuel the athletic demands. There are a bunch of myths out there that lower body weight = better performance. There is NO evidence that performing in a lower weight class as the biggest person improves chance of victory. So let’s get rid of that myth right there. So?
THREE: You need good nutrition and fluids to concentrate in school. Probably I don’t have to tell you that, since if you are honest with yourself, you know that skipping a bunch of meals and getting yourself dehydrated as a weigh in day approaches really messes up your test-taking success. Seriously, most athletes tend to perform better in academics during their on-season; except for those in sports like wrestling where making weight is a key part of the training – these athletes are more likely to have mood swings, extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating and lower grades.
Finally, there is another life-long effect of the cycle of making weight. You know the pattern: 1) starve, fast, pee, poop, sweat, spit, cry – whatever it takes to get the weight down. 2) Compete. (Underperform actually since many sports medicine studies have shown that endurance, muscle strength and competitive advantage are all LOWERED with these behaviors). 3) Go to Five Guys or Dominoes or whatever you have a hankering for and eat eat eat. 4) Repeat.
OK, the problem here is that this called “disordered eating”. It can actually turn into an eating disorder.
One last thing....: Athlete’s Triad.
Short and sweet. Female athletes that really take some of these behaviors to the extreme can have a trio of unhealthy problems. 1) disordered eating – or a full-blown eating disorder 2) osteoporosis (thin, weak bones) and 3)amenorrhea (no periods). OK, so I know you’re thinking now “Yay! No more periods! Who needs the Curse anyway?!?!” But there is a problem actually. Did you know that your periods and your bone strength are related? That’s right. Losing your periods due to extreme thinness or low body fat is a sign that your estrogen levels have dropped. And you need estrogen to build up those bones. So, low estrogen = weak bones (made worse by low calcium that is probably also going on in girls that avoid dairy like the plague to cut calories). So the message is – if you stop having your periods, or your periods get really irregular after they already settled into a pattern for you, you need to see your doctor, since that is not normal. And guys, you can have similar affects too (minus the whole periods thing, obviously) But definite effects on messing up bone building.
So, now you know what is important to avoid with the Making Weight problem. Now, what can you do if your coach is instructing you and your teammates to engage in dangerous behaviors? First of all, remember, in the end, you are responsible for staying safe and protecting your body. So even thought it will be difficult, you can respectfully disagree or quietly ignore the unsafe recommendations. Then go to a trusted adult, someone who has your back. Such as your parent, a teacher, a school nurse, the principal. And tell them what your concerns are. Show them information – you can even print this out and show them this post! Anything to get a discussion going. If you aren’t sure what your coach in recommending is safe for you, ask your regular doctor. They are the best person to help, since they know your body type, your stage of development puberty-wise, and what is a healthy fat percentage for you. They can even provide medically rational and safe recommendations to meet your nutritional requirements for school, growth and athletics.
Now when you talk to your parents, you can even show them this link – it is information for parents to help them support kids who are being bullied by coaches – since it is hard for adults to know what to do sometimes too! Adolescents and Bullying Coaches from Psychology Today
Whew! That’s a lot of information – I hope you made it to the end. I think we’ll stop here for today. Next we can talk about something a bit more positive – what is good nutrition for teen athletes. Some athletes take stimulants to reduce their appetite while keeping their energy up and hoping that helps weight loss. Other athletes take protein supplements or creatine to improve performance at low weights. We’ll touch a bit on the different supplements and why they are just expensive, no better than nutrients from food, and even often bad for you. . I know that more teens use ‘em than we adults think! Let me know if there is anything else you want to talk about….
Comments encouraged! You can even disagree! I don’t mind. That is how we all join the discussion.
So I guess you figured out that today's topic is: Concussions. Yup, a post about brain injuries - often from sports that you and your friends may play.
No, no, no, I am NOT saying "Don't play sports!" By all means exercise is a huge part of maintaining your physical and mental health (more on that another day). What I want you to gather from this discussion, is with a concussion, how important it is to take a break from your sport and rest to heal so that you can go back and play again later! Oh, and so you can go about the rest of your life too - like school, hobbies, etc.
So, the facts please..... What is it? Who gets it? How do I know I have it? What do I do about it? And what if I ignore it?
What is a concussion?
You probably know some of this.... It is an injury to your brain, caused by a blow to or jolting of the head. Every one is serious. And no, you don't have to have been knocked out to have one.
Who gets 'em?
Anyone can get them during practices or games or other recreational activities. They tend to occur more often in males, although females seem more likely than to get them with the same activities. Football and ice hockey have the highest rates of concussions in high school sports, followed by soccer, basketball, field hockey, wrestling and other sports. Often the risk of concussion depends on what position you play.
How do I know I have a concussion?
Symptoms that occur immediately can include:
So, I banged my head. Now what do I do?
OK, so in reality, you would be reading this way after you got that knock to the noggin.... But the key things to know here are:
"I am tough - I am fine - it's no big deal - my team needs me." AKA "What happens if I ignore it?"
This is not a joke. The risk of getting a second concussion shortly after a first one, before healing occurs, can be dangerous. Like deadly. Yes, you can be really sick and even die with something called "Second Impact Syndrome". Even without that awful outcome, you may never be able to play sports again. What? Retiring form sports at the ripe old age of 15? Yep, that's what I'm talkin' about. Not really worth it, is it? Especially since all you have to do is follow your doctor's directions and REST AND HEAL! Kids usually have a full recovery from concussions if they are treated properly and allowed to heal. So that is the good news!
There is a ton of great info out there. Here is a great link to the CDC where a bunch of this information is from: Heads Up Concussion
So, what about you? Ever had a concussion? Ever had a friend with one? Did you feel pressured to get back out there and play? Click on the comments and let's get the conversation started!