Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Mindful Eating for Athletes

NOVA mindful eating

Mindful eating involves deliberate focus on your internal and external environments. The aim is to increase your presence during eating by consciously consuming food using all your senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound). Most people however are eating mindlessly.  Mindless eating or eating without purpose, may cause your body to get confused about what, when or why you need to eat and may become driven by external cues to eat. These external cues may include: eating because others are eating or because food is in front of you and responding to appetite signals (i.e. food smells good) over hunger signals (grumbling stomach). Overeating is also common with mindless eating because you may eat too quickly to register fullness. This can impact body composition, efficient fueling for training, sleep, and your relationship with food. All of this may ultimately impact health and sports performance.  

The use of mindful eating aims to increase awareness of hunger cues of the body and fullness signals, eating with purpose and intuition. In general, your body has an instinctive way of knowing just what it needs to maintain weight and sustain health. Eating mindfully can assist the athlete in building skills in the selection of foods and quantities necessary to support training and competition needs of the body. Mindfulness practices and eating strategies for athletes can help reduce stress, improve overall quality of life, improve sleep, and even reduce the risk of injury.

Mindful eating strategies for athletes go beyond simple fueling guidelines. Mindful eating is about bringing together the ideas of what your body needs physically and also using inner wisdom (what we know and understand about ourselves and our bodies). This will help athletes succeed in figuring out individualized fueling and training plans in addition to fostering a healthy relationship with food. 

Increasing awareness of internal cues like hunger, energy and appetite and understanding what the body is trying to tell you can help to ascertain dietary energy requirements day-to-day. Being mindful of the food you are eating and the role it plays in fueling your body and being grateful for how food helps you develop and increase performance, rather than just taste and convenience, will help drive better choices to serve the body’s needs to perform at your best. 

Minimizing distractions during meals is a great way to get started with mindful eating. Other habits can include chewing your food more thoroughly, savoring each bite, and evaluating how you feel before, during, and after your meal.

Mindful Eating is Useful for Athletes

  • Increase awareness of your physical and emotional cues for eating
  • Understand the impact that training has on your body’s signals of hunger and fullness and when fueling the body is a priority
  • Develop strategies to foster a healthy relationship with food 
  • Decrease over-thinking, stress and self-criticism associated with dietary intake and eat for enjoyment and nourishment.  
  • Allow intake to be flexible with variations in training load from day-to-day and eating to meet training demands on a busy schedule
  • Assist in building skills in the selection of appropriate foods and quantities to support training loads
  • Reduce overeating or overcompensating intake for something you missed
  • Empower decision making and ownership over intake
  • Increase ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and still make a good food choice (on the road eating before and after competition)
  • Help with positive weight management and altering body composition
  • Develop strategies to foster a healthy relationship with food, reduce disordered eating, and prevent under-fueling

Tips to Help Athletes Achieve Mindful Eating

  • Eat meals without distractions by focusing on what you are eating
  • Acknowledge your meal time by sitting down to eat and dedicate time for eating
  • Avoid eating “on-the-go” when you can, so that you can focus more attention to eating
  • Prior to eating, take 10 seconds and pause to check-in with yourself and identify your internal cues to eat, and what role that food will play in fueling your training or health.  
  • Understand that you do not need to finish everything on your plate, stop eating when full and put the leftovers away for another meal.
  • Just like your sport and training, mindful eating takes practice to master; be persistent and patient, and change will come.

If you are looking to adopt more mindful eating habits, try some of these tips to enjoy food more while improving performance. Focus on making positive memories, enjoying your favorite foods, and banning any feelings of guilt over food choices. If you still feel anxious about food choices send Nikky a message and she will be happy to offer additional support!

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Alcohol: Impact on Athletic Performance and Health Goals

NOVA alcohol consumption

In the world of sports nutrition, every choice you make matters, including what you choose to drink. While a post-game celebration or a casual drink with friends may seem harmless, the truth is that alcohol consumption can have significant effects on both athletic performance and health goals. Because February is American Heart Month, we’ll explore how alcohol impacts the body, discuss its effects on athletic performance, and provide strategies for responsible consumption to support your fitness journey.

Understanding the Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that affects various bodily functions, including hydration, metabolism, coordination, and cognitive function. When consumed, it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it begins to exert its effects on the body’s systems.

Effects on Athletic Performance

1. Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. Proper hydration is essential for athletic performance, and excessive consumption can impair your body’s ability to maintain optimal fluid balance.

2. Impaired Coordination and Reaction Time: Alcohol can impair motor skills, coordination, and reaction time, which are crucial for athletic performance. Consuming alcohol before a game or workout may compromise your ability to perform at your best and increase the risk of injury.

3. Decreased Muscle Recovery: Alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery and repair processes by disrupting protein synthesis and increasing inflammation. This can prolong recovery time between workouts and hinder progress toward fitness goals.

4. Disrupted Sleep Patterns: While alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt sleep patterns and reduce the quality of your rest. Adequate sleep is essential for muscle recovery, cognitive function, and overall well-being, making consumption before bedtime detrimental to your health goals.

Strategies for Responsible Consumption

1. Moderation is Key: If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit your intake to moderate amounts and avoid excessive or binge drinking.

2. Hydrate Properly: To counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol, ensure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after drinking. This can help minimize the impact on hydration levels and support overall health.

3. Plan Ahead: If you have a game, race, or intense workout scheduled, consider abstaining from alcohol altogether to ensure optimal performance and recovery.

4. Know Your Limits: Be mindful of your tolerance level and how alcohol affects your body. Listen to your body’s signals and prioritize your health and fitness goals.

5. **Choose Wisely: Opt for lower-calorie, lower-sugar alcoholic beverages, such as light beer, wine, or spirits mixed with soda water or low-calorie mixers. Be mindful of added sugars and empty calories in cocktails and mixed drinks.

While enjoying a drink occasionally may be part of your social life, it’s essential to be aware of how alcohol consumption can impact your athletic performance and health goals. By practicing moderation, staying hydrated, and making informed choices, you can strike a balance between enjoying the occasional drink and supporting your fitness journey. 

Do you or someone you know struggle with alcohol misuse? Check out this link to see the top recommended treatment centers in Virginia.

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Sports Nutrition: Myths vs. Facts

NOVA Myths vs. FAct

Let’s debunk some common sports nutrition myths. In the world of sports, athletes might encounter a lot of information about nutrition, some of which may be misleading. To navigate through the myths and misconceptions, athletes should rely on evidence-based practices that align with their individual needs and goals. 

In this blog post, we’ll debunk common sports nutrition myths and present the facts that every athlete should consider for optimal performance. Let’s dive into the science-backed facts that will help you make informed decisions about what to eat and when, ensuring you fuel your body for success in your chosen sport whether you’re a basketball player, a swimmer, or a bodybuilder. 

Myth: Carbohydrates Should Be Avoided for Weight Loss.

Fact: Carbs are a primary source of energy. Choosing complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, vegetables) in moderation supports energy needs and overall health.

Myth: Protein Only Matters for Bodybuilders.

Fact: Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, and it’s crucial for all athletes. Endurance athletes, in particular, benefit from adequate protein to support recovery. Why specifically endurance athletes? Muscle building or power athletes typically need more than endurance, though it certainly is still very important for that group)

Myth: Hydration is Only Important During Exercise.

Fact: Staying hydrated is crucial at all times. Dehydration can impair performance and overall health. Athletes should hydrate consistently throughout the day. Pro tip: minimum fluid intake should be ½ your bodyweight in oz. of fluid per day. When exercising/sweating, that number should go up!)

Myth: Supplements Can Replace a Balanced Diet.

Fact: While supplements can be useful, they shouldn’t replace whole foods. A well-balanced diet provides essential nutrients that are often missing in isolated supplements.

Myth: Fats Should Be Avoided for Better Performance.

Fact: Healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil) are essential for overall health and can provide a steady source of energy. They play a role in hormone production and nutrient absorption.

Myth: Eating Before Exercise Causes Cramps.

 Fact: Proper pre-exercise nutrition is important. While eating too much or too close to exercise may cause discomfort, a balanced meal a few hours before is generally beneficial.

Myth: Sports Drinks are Necessary for Everyone.

Fact: Sports drinks can be helpful for intense or prolonged exercise, but water is sufficient for most activities. Excessive sports drink consumption can lead to unnecessary sugar intake.

Myth: The More Protein, the Better.

Fact: While protein is crucial, excessive intake doesn’t necessarily lead to more muscle gain. Athletes should aim for an optimal, not excessive, protein intake.

Myth: All Athletes Should Follow the Same Diet.

Fact: Individual nutrition needs vary based on factors like sport type, intensity, body composition, and personal preferences. Personalized nutrition plans are essential.

Myth: Skipping Meals Helps Weight Loss.

Fact: Regular, balanced meals support metabolism and provide sustained energy. Skipping meals can lead to nutrient deficiencies and negatively impact performance.

It’s important for athletes to stay informed and consult with nutrition professionals for personalized advice. Nutrition is highly individual, and what works for one athlete may not work for another. The focus should be on a well-rounded, individualized approach to support performance and overall health.

NOVA Sports Nutrition is here to support you in your performance goals. We are experienced in tailoring our plans to each individual, based on their sport. Book a consultation with us to discuss where you are in your journey and how we can support you! 

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January: The Month of Sustainable Change

NOVA January health

January is a great time to reset and think about your health and to pause and reflect on
the past year to help you determine what comes next on your wellness or fitness
journey in the new year. However, January is also the time when advertisements
on quick fixes, diet supplements and fad diets too good to be true also begin popping up
everywhere. As you put your holiday decorations away and prepare for the start of
2024, remember that the best way to improve health and nutrition is not through quick
fixes, but rather sustainable changes that you can implement gradually over time. If your
health and fitness is not where you would like for it to be right now, you can focus on
getting back on track one step at a time.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some simple steps you can implement today
to start improving your health and wellbeing:

Slow Down and Breathe
A great tool for stress reduction is to take a few moments to slow down your day and
just breathe. When you are stressed, your blood pressure rises, your heart and
respiration rate may also accelerate. Taking 10-15 minutes to sit still, be calm and
breathe deeply can counteract all of this

Take time to chew your food, savor each bite
Chewing well and slowing down your intake of food, helps you savor every bite. By
chewing longer, you are allowing food to linger in your mouth and stimulate taste
receptors on your tongue. This helps start the digestive process and gives your
body time to signal the brain when you are getting full.

Be in tune with your hunger cues
Paying attention to your body’s cues for hunger can help keep you healthy and
signal you when to eat. Some common physiological hunger cues are stomach
growling, low energy, headaches, shakiness and general weariness.

Be mindful and move with purpose
The principles of mindful movement are the same as any other mindfulness practice:
keep yourself in the present moment to experience the here and now and get the
most out of each session. Be aware of your movement, focus on your breath, and
notice how your body feels as it moves. Staying in the present can keep you
mentally strong because you are no longer focusing on yesterday or worried about
tomorrow.

Stay hydrated
Your body needs to be hydrated to function at its best. If there isn’t enough liquid
in your body, essential functions like circulation and digestion will not perform
efficiently. Your organs may not get the necessary nutrients for optimal
functioning and even slight dehydration affects performance.

Prioritize Protein and Vegetables (especially the greens)
Protein
Protein is an important part of a healthy diet. You need protein in your diet to help
your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is important for growth and
development. Adequate protein reduces muscle loss, helps with recovery after
exercise, builds lean tissue and because it curbs your hunger can help with
maintaining a healthy weight.
Greens
Adding leafy greens to your diet is an easy way to get the vitamins and minerals
your body needs for optimal health. These vegetables are good sources of many
vitamins and minerals such as: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, magnesium,
potassium, calcium and fiber, but low in calories. Green, leafy vegetables help
support vision and skin health; and may reduce the risk of heart disease, high
blood pressure, and the risk of obesity.

NOVA Sports Nutrition is here to get you back on track. Whether you’re training for a team sport, endurance race, physique competition, or to improve your health generally, NOVA can create a workout plan to help you reach your goal. We take the guess work out of meal planning and will help you to take control of your diet once and for all!

Nutrition counseling services are provided via secure video chat or in-person in Northern Virginia. Please reach out via the contact page or schedule a free discovery call to learn more about pricing for our nutrition services!

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Hiking for Wellness in Northern Virginia

woman hiking

At NOVA Sport Nutrition, we believe in providing truly individualized, client-centered care that addresses specific needs and barriers reaching your goals.

One of the many ways you can reach those goals is through hiking. Check out some of the perks below. 

 

The Physical Perks of Hiking

Cardio Fitness

Hiking can get your heart pumping and make it stronger. It’s like a workout for your ticker as you tackle those uphills and downhills.

Strength and Stamina

Those uneven terrains will give your leg muscles a good workout. It’s like nature’s gym! You’ll build strength and have the endurance of a champ. Don’t forget to hydrate and fuel your body before and after. 

 

The Mental Boost of Hiking

Stress Buster

Nature is the ultimate chill pill. The sights and sounds, combined with the physical activity, release those feel-good endorphins. Stress, be gone!

Mindful Escape

Disconnect from screens and connect with nature. It’s a mindful journey where you can de-stress, think, and soak in the peace of the great outdoors.

 

This fall, lace up those hiking boots and make your way to Northern Virginia’s beautiful trails. Hiking isn’t just about getting fit; it’s about finding happiness and reconnecting with nature. So, don’t miss the chance to explore while boosting your health and joy. It’s time to step out and let the great outdoors be your ultimate wellness guide. 

 

Hiking in Northern Virginia’s Best Spots

Mount Vernon Trail

If you’re new to hiking, this 18-mile trail along the Potomac River is a great place to start. You’ll see the river, the city, and, of course, the spectacular fall colors.

Great Falls Park 

Just a short hop from D.C, this park has epic waterfalls and challenging trails. The Mather Gorge Loop will give you a workout and some amazing views.

Shenandoah National Park

On November 11th, entry to this park is free! It’s a great time to explore the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, with trails winding through lush forests and jaw-dropping vistas.

 

Happy hiking!

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The Importance of Hydration

water, hydration

Proper hydration is important year round, but it can become particularly critical during the summer months. July and August are usually the hottest months of the year in the United States, which is also usually the time that people are engaging in more outdoor activities and athletes begin ramping up training for fall sports. Unfortunately, this time of year is also a prime time for a potentially serious condition to occur: dehydration.

How does dehydration occur?

Dehydration can occur by losing too much fluid (usually through sweating) or by not drinking enough fluid. You may recall from school that the human body is made up of approximately 70% water, so this fact alone illustrates how important proper hydration is for us!

The body has mechanisms in place to urge us to drink fluids, most notably the feeling of thirst. This is the most obvious sign that our body is running low on water; however, by the time you feel thirsty, you are actually already experiencing mild dehydration.

How can you tell if you are dehydrated?

There are many other symptoms that can signal dehydration. Some examples, according to Medline Plus, include the following:

  • Mild dehydration: Thirst; dry mouth; decreased urination; yellow urine
  • Moderate dehydration: Dry, cool skin; headache; darker yellow urine; muscle cramps
  • Severe dehydration: Irritability or confusion; dizziness; rapid heartbeat and/or rapid breathing; shock (decreased blood flow to important organs); unconsciousness.

Keeping an eye out for these signs are important for everyone, but they are particularly critical for two groups: older adults and athletes.

Who is most at risk for dehydration?

Older adults have a decreased response to thirst and are more likely to be on a diuretic. These factors make it important for this population to drink fluids constantly throughout the day, even when they may not feel thirsty. This is especially important during prolonged exposure to heat during activity, such as walking, gardening, mowing the lawn, etc. These activities may not always seem strenuous, but they can cause the body to sweat profusely. During activities that are of a more vigorous intensity (such as jogging/running, hiking, biking, etc.) the sweating effect is more pronounced and proper hydration more critical.

Athletes exercising in the heat can lose an average of 2.0 liters of water through sweat per hour (which is equal to a large bottle of soda!). Not replacing the lost water can cause serious fluid imbalances and dangerous rises in core temperatures. Unfortunately, student athletes are often the victims of poor monitoring of hydration status. According to sports nutrition experts William McCardle and Frank and Victor Katch, “Hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperatures) has occurred more than 100 times over the past 30 years among football players who died from excessive heat stress during practice or competition.” These situations are completely preventable by making sure to either have water or an electrolyte replacement beverage at all times during outdoor activity in the heat.

What can you do if you suspect dehydration?

If dehydration does occur for any reason, there are several steps that can be taken, depending on the severity of the condition:

  • Sip water or suck on ice cubes (or an electrolyte sports drink)
  • If heat exhaustion is also a problem, lie down somewhere cool and focus on breathing slowly
  • For severe situations, go to a hospital immediately

Notice that the first suggestion is to sip water. While replenishing fluids is a critical step to treating dehydration, it is possible to drink too much water at one time, which isn’t healthy either. Rehydrate slowly if you become dehydrated!

How much fluid should you be drinking?

A good rule of thumb is 2 cups of water 20 minutes before being active in the heat. For athletes or anyone engaging in vigorous exercise, you can weigh yourself before and after activity takes place to gauge how much fluid you need to take in to replace losses. The amount of weight lost in pounds should be replaced at least 100% to account for fluid loss in sweat and urine. For example: If 2 lbs., or 32 oz., is lost during an hour of activity, 32 oz. (or 4 cups) of water or a sports drink should be ingested over the next hour. In terms of choosing between water and a sports drink, always choose the sports drink if activity is lasting longer than an hour. Below an hour, water is usually sufficient.

So whenever you leave the house this summer, always bring a water bottle with you! And remember to always drink more when exercising or being active in the heat. Dehydration is 100% preventable, as long as you provide your body with the fluids it needs every day.

 

References

 

McArdle W, Katch FI, Katch VL (2013). Exercise, Thermoregulation, Fluid Balance, and Rehydration (4th ed.). Sports and Exercise Nutrition (pg. 319-335). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Popkin B, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH (2010). Water, Hydration, and Health. Nutrition Review; 68 (8): 439-458.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2013). Dehydration. Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000982.htm

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LiveLifeBig Podcast

podcast

One of the best parts of being a small business owner is connecting with other business owners in the community. In March of 2020, I was invited to appear on the LiveLifeBig podcast by host Ben Glass. In addition to hosting LiveLifeBig, Ben is the owner of Ben Glass Law, a personal injury and disability law firm. He also started his own marketing firm, Great Legal Marketing, to help other lawyers and small business owners learn how to market their businesses effectively. Ben is a great example of the importance of authenticity, networking, and personalized service for both his clients and his colleagues.

To learn more about Ben and the services he offers, visit the Ben Glass Law website to learn more!

Learn more about NOVA Sports Nutrition here

 

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Contact

Email

info@novasportsnutrition.com

Location

Fairfax, VA 

Virtual Telehealth
USA