Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sports Psychology: Goal Setting

Goal Setting is used as a mental tool to help an athlete achieve a personal goal within the sport they play. It can be an extremely powerful technique to use when wanting to enhance performance. It has become one of the most important strategies for success. By having goals that they are trying to reach, whether it is short term or long term, this encourages the athlete to work harder and stay more focused on the task they are trying to overcome.
There are three different types of goals in goal setting that include performance goals, process goals, and outcome goals. Brian Mac states that, “Performance goals specify a specific standard to be achieved.”1 They can be used to track achievements and progress towards the desired outcome goals. They also encourage the development of mastery and can make a performer feel satisfied with a performance even if they do not win. Mac also states that, “Process goals, over which the individual has complete control, deal with the technique or strategy necessary to perform well. Process goals can also be established to map the route to achieving the desired Performance Goals.”1 These goals are the ones that help focus attention and are very effective with controlling anxiety that the athlete might get. “Outcome goals are to do with winning or performing better than someone else”1, says Mac. These can be very motivating long term goals, even though they are not under the individual’s control. They are affected by how others perform and are limited without the process and performance goals.
“If you set primarily process and performance goals then you have done all you can within your control to achieve the outcome goal. Doing this more times than not the outcome takes care of itself.”1 This is why it is important for athletes to make up realistic goals so that they can be achievable and the athletes will not get down on themselves for not achieving their goal. It is always best to start small and work up to bigger things.
1Goal Setting. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from
2Goal Setting. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from

Choosing Your Team

Choosing Your Team

One of the hardest things to do in your life is making the decision to put your loved one in a nursing home or a rehabilitation program. Sometimes it’s for the best because a person’s safety is in question. Rehabilitation, often referred to as rehab, is an important part of stroke recovery. Through rehab, you:

  • Re-learn basic skills such as talking, eating, dressing and walking.
  • Increase your strength, flexibility and endurance.
  • Regain as much independence as possible.

You and your loved ones want the best rehab program that there is to offer. But, it is important to remember that all stroke survivors are not the same. Not only do they have different brain injuries and disabilities, but also different interests, lifestyles and priorities. What is best for you may not be the best for someone else.

          So, how do you choose the best rehab program for you? While you may have your options in front of you, it is important to always know the following things:

  • Tell the difference between one stroke rehab setting and another.
  • Identify who’s who on the stroke rehab team.
  • Understand "discharge planning" and what it can include.
  • Determine if a rehab program meets current rehabilitation industry standards.
  • Set apart an excellent program from a good to average program.
  • Figure out if a rehab program meets your personal needs.
        Never be afraid to ask questions to the staff of a facility. The process of finding the right rehab program for your loved one is important. The more questions you have, the better. Hopefully, in everyone’s case, this setting is a temporary situation, until your loved one recovers.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Back to Fitness Basics: Lifting Smarter not Harder

How is your health journey so far? By this point you must be doing well with your diet, hydration, and sleep schedule. In a previous blog, we learned about the value of lifting heavy versus cardio exercise. The blog this week is about how to “lift smarter not harder” by using proper form and technique. 
By this point in time, I am sure you are familiar with the normal gym goers that visit your gym. What you may or may not have noticed is poor technique by some participants, that may be the result of simply lifting too much weight. I tell my clients this same thing that I will share with you….. You are a bodybuilder and not a weight lifter. By this point I mean that your goal in the gym is to become stronger and develop more lean muscle tissue. Sure, improved numbers on the amount of weight lifted can be a great plus to your goal, but it isn’t the ultimate goal that is improving your overall health. So as we will discuss further soon, it important to “lift smarter not harder”.
Without going into the specifics of proper lifting form for each main lift, lets think of any lift that is similar to a Deadlift, or any other exercise, that requires lifting heavy weight off the ground. As we use this exercise example, is it a good idea to lift with the legs or the back? The obvious correct answer is to lift with your legs and not your back, but do you know why? “Repeated flexion also adds to spinal stress, greatly increasing discal pressure and continually stretching the posterior spinal tissues. Over time, repeated flexion can lead to tissue breakdown. Microtrauma of this type gives rise to classical postural pain syndromes”1.
If you start to find that your lifting form is becoming poor as well in the middle of you set, try reducing the weight in order to lift all of the reps in the set with proper form. A great way to estimate how many reps you should lift, try finding your One Rep Max (1RM). Always have a spotter when finding this number. Once you have this number, use 80% of your 1RM and perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps with this new weight. “For the client who cannot complete maximum lifting, start with a weight they can comfortably lift and gradually increase the weight until they find a weight that feels challenging by the last couple of repetitions of the rep range.”2.
Resistance training can be a great addition to your health journey. Proper lifting however, needs to be of most importance if you ever want to make healthy progress and minimize the risk of injury. Always use a spotter when you lift heavy weight. Lifting with proper technique can help you to progress in your health goals by “lifting smarter, not harder.”

  1. Proper lifting techniques for a healthy back. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from
How Much Should My Clients Lift? (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from

Will Ferrell Shows off his Talents

Will Ferrell has shown his athletic talents on the big screen before ranging from ice skating, NASCAR driving, and Basketball. Farrell's latest athletic undertaking took him between the lines for 10 MLB teams in one day. This time Farrell wasn't working for the big screen, he was joining with the MLB and Funny or Die, in a HBO special forum to support the fight against cancer.

Ferrell’s day started off when he suited up for the Oakland A’s where, after a few plays, he was abruptly traded to the Seattle Mariners who was the team in the opposing dugout for a comedic actor to be named later. After Ferrell’s short stint with the Mariners, he made his way to Tempe Diablo Stadium where the Chicago Cubs where facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Ferrell promptly took over for All-Star center fielder Mike Trout of the Angles. It wasn't long until a ball was put into play towards Ferrell. Luckily for the Angles, Ferrell was able to keep the runner to a single. Shortly after however, Ferrell was traded to the Cubs for a washing machine (that’s pretty low). In all fairness though Ferrell was promptly struck out in his at bat for the Cubs. To get the most out of their investment, the Cubs traded Ferrell to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a Churro Dog and a D-bat Dog, two of Arizona's culinary masterpieces. When Ferrell’s day was over for the D-backs, he bought everybody in a lucky section all hot dogs and made his way over to the Cincinnati Reds where he donned a nice grey beard to play the hot corner at third base. After, another short stint Ferrell made his way to the game between the Chicago White Soxs and the San Francisco Giants. Once again, Ferrell soon found himself on the wrong side of things when he struck out for his second time of the day for as many teams. Directly after the strikeout, Ferrell donned the catchers gear and caught for the Giants and the same pitcher that struck him out. After Ferrell was released by his eighth team of the day, he made his way over to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he took the mound in a relief appearance to retire the only batter that he would face on one pitch. Ferrell would then proceed to finish his night in right field for the San Diego Padres.

For those keeping track, Ferrell spent time on the Athletics, Mariners, Angels, Cubs, D-backs, Reds, White Sox, Giants, Dodgers and Padres during his brief but exhausting MLB career. If you'd like to help Ferrell’s cause, donate, and/or own a piece of baseball (and comedy) history, game-used items are up for auction at, with proceeds being donated to Stand Up to Cancer and Cancer for College.

Here's everything you need to know about Will Ferrell's epic day at MLB Spring

Messer, L., & Candea, B. (2015, March 12). Will Ferrell Plays Major League Baseball --
All the Best Moments. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from  

Stroke Prevention: Exercise and Physical Activity

Physical activity includes anything that gets your body moving. You know from my previous blog, Stroke Prevention: Reduce Your Risk With Diet and Exercise, people who exercise five or more times per week have a reduced stroke risk of up to 80 percent. Some recommendations for exercising during the week include:
  • Moderate Activity- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week (brisk walking, water aerobics, bicycling) and 2 or more days a week of weight training exercises.
  • Vigorous Activity- 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week (jogging, running, swimming laps) and 2 or more days a week of weight training exercises.
  • Segmented Workouts- If you can’t fit a 30-minute activity in one time, break it up into 10-minute segments. Remember that all physical activity counts.
  • Have Fun- Walk or bike with a friend, take a dance class, and try different times of the day that fit your schedule.
Regular physical activity will improve your overall health and fitness, and reduce your risk for chronic diseases, like stroke, increasingly.
In fact, aerobic exercise deepens your breathing and increases your heart rate by activating the large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. Not only does exercise enhance your health for the future. Some short-term effects of aerobic activity are an increase in the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body and a matching increase in the amount of oxygen-depleted blood flowing from your body to your lungs. Therefore, regular aerobic exercise has long-term benefits including a strengthening of your heart, a reduction of your normal heart rate and increased blood-pumping efficiency, which impacts your goals in the prevention of stroke.
You should challenge yourself when deciding on what exercises you want to implement into your routine. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with HIIT, or high intensity interval training. HIIT is short bursts of high-intensity exercise. Your routine should typically include:
  • Warm up for three minutes
  • Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds
  • Recover for 90 seconds
  • Repeat the high intensity exercise and recovery cycle 5-8 more times
HIIT maximizes your secretion of human growth hormone, optimizes your metabolism, and helps regulate your insulin and blood sugar. Implementing exercise and physical activity, as mentioned in this blog, you can reduce your risk of stroke extensively. Keep in mind the tips that you’ve read here and remember to challenge yourself but have fun. What you do today effects your life later. Make it count!

Lifestyle Risk Factors. (2014, August 4). Retrieved March 22, 2015, from
Hoyle, M. (2014, February 7). The Best Exercise for Preventing a Stroke. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from
Mercola. (2014, October 4). Vigorous Exercise May Significantly Lower Your Stroke Risk. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from

What Do You Know About That Soda?

Obesity in America has become the “norm” for most teenage and college-aged individuals. We have seen a growth in popularity of potato chips and pizza, being ruled as fruits and vegetables by our governments standards. Many parents, educators, and children do not understand the dangers of what most of these foods and drinks are doing to our bodies. An ingredient that seems to be at the root of all of these problems is sugar. Sugar seems to be in everything, along with soy, which we discussed a few weeks ago.

Rates of overweight individuals and obesity have escalated dramatically among adolescents (1). Adults also have experienced striking increases in obesity prevalence over the past decade, with the greatest rise seen among the youngest adults. Almost 15 million adolescents and young adults in the United States are enrolled in college, and 35% are already overweight or obese. Furthermore, 27% of college students have already developed components of the metabolic syndrome.1 Metabolic Syndrome is a condition in which the body can not “burn” enough calories in daily tasks to cover what is being put in the body.

Studies have shown that  Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda has been implicated as a likely contributing factor to the growing obesity rates among children and adolescents. This is in large part because sugared beverages represent a significant source of calorie consumption in this population. Adolescents consume 20% of their total energy intake from added sweeteners, the majority of which are consumed in sodas and fruit drinks (10). Among adolescents, over 10% of the total calories they consume come from soda and fruit drinks alone.1

Being a personal trainer, I constantly see an overconsumption of sugar in my clients, ranging from food stuffs like pre-packaged breakfast sandwiches to a Starbucks oatmeal. Things that people think are “healthy” are usually the most dangerous. Pop words such as: whole wheat, gluten-free, fat free, sugar free, or artificially flavored are usually dead giveaways.

A good rule of thumb is:

  • Fat Free = Double The Sugar
  • Sugar Free = Double The Fat

You have to remember the companies that make these sugar infested products do not make them for your health. They are out to make money and are willing to risk your health to get it. In a study done by Block et. al, college-aged individuals reported that if given the choice between water and a beverage with flavor, with other factors such as price held constant, they would always choose the beverage with flavor: “I want some water, but the water is the same price as the soda. Might as well go ahead and get some flavor.”2

Clearly children have been brought to believe that if a product taste good and is cheap, they might as well buy it whether it is beneficial for their mind and body or not. We, as a people, need to start educating the future generations on the positives of eating healthier food choices. Otherwise we will have a much less populated country due to heart disease and obesity killing people off, and not being able to fit.


Smith West, Delia, Zoran Bursac, Donna Quimby, T. Elaine Prewitt, Thea Spatz, Creshelle Nash, Glen Mays, and Kenya Eddings. "Self-Reported Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake Among College Students*." Obesity: 1825-831. Print

Block, Jason P., Matthew W. Gillman, Stephanie K. Linakis, and Roberta E. Goldman. "“If It Tastes Good, I'm Drinking It”: Qualitative Study of Beverage Consumption Among College Students." Journal of Adolescent Health 52.6 (2013): 702-06. Print.

Coaching Coaches

Previously I have highlighted on helping the athlete, but in reality the athlete is not to the only one who may need help. Coaches are normal people who make mistakes, and may require some assistance from time to time. In this section will be addressing a few problems that coaches may have when they are feeling at the end of their rope.

First off, attitude is always an area that can use some adjustment and guidance from time to time. Since we spend so much time with the athletes, they tend to have the ability to read our emotions and attitudes extremely well. If you show negative attitude, then you will show your athletes that is ok to act like that. “Your main motivation must be a desire to help and guide the athlete to achieve the highest possible level he can achieve for that particular season.” 1  Remember you are a role model for your athletes, so this is a very important time to lead by example.

Secondly, it is important to maintain a high level of patience with your athletes, especially during instruction and drill work. . Making the required level of instruction a little more detailed, meaning the coach may have to slow down a little for one of the athletes who is having a hard time learning the drill. “Youth sports coaches, in particular, require patience to handle the growth and development of the young players. This patience is displayed through your own self-control and discipline, which can rub off on the players, assistant coaches and parents and ultimately lead to improved performance by the team.2 Patience is a virtue and will do nothing but ease the pain of having to repeat yourself.

Lastly, being able to communicate with your athletes will  tie it all together. Communicating what you need someone to do whether, verbally or  physically showing them can be a taxing job, but coaches who are good at it tend to get better responses from their athletes. In a study over coaches done in the early 2000’s shows, “In all, they observed more than 70 coaches, coded more than 80,000 behaviors, and surveyed nearly 1,000 athletes. They found that athletes responded positively to coaches who provided positive feedback after a good performance effort…” 3. The study is portraying how well athletes reacted to a coach who was a good communicator compared to a bad communicator.

A coaches attitude can be his best friend or worst enemy depending on his outlook, his patience level, and communication skills, but with all three of those mastered you are showing your athletes that virtues are not just something of the past.

1. Cavall, D. (1999, January 1). On Coaching Runners. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from
2. Hoefs, J. (2015, January 28). Characteristics & Qualities of a Sports Coach. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from
3. Burton, D., & Raedeke, T. (2008, January 1). Good communication skills are key to successful coaching. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bottoms Up!

water-results15.jpgWith the weather warming up it’s important to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated throughout the day is vital to one’s health.
There are many benefits to drinking water and one shouldn’t neglect drinking because of the taste (or lack thereof). Water isn’t about tasting good. It’s about hydration. Our body is made up of about 60% of water and is the building blocks of life2.
Below are a few of the many benefits of drinking water.  

·      Helps speed metabolism, You need that water to digest food, circulate blood, keep your mouth from drying out and do a number of other things we often take for granted. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles, helping them work more efficiently1.
·     What has shown to reduce headache when hydrated well.
·   Excessive hunger can be the cause of dehydration. Water won’t keep you from eating the food you need to be healthy, but it could help you stay away from the unnecessary junk food your body craves. When you crave those fatty snacks take a sip of water and you will notice a change in the cravings.
·      Dehydration leads to fatigue. The more water we drink, the more awake our bodies will feel.
·    There are many beverages to choose from when one is thirsty. There are many drinks to choose from when one is thirsty, but the obvious choice would be water opposed to sodas and energy drinks.  There are many alcoholic drinks should only be enjoyed in moderation, but the best beneficial drink and obvious choice should be water2.  

The next time you’re heading to the gym, work, or class grab a bottle of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty; be proactive about it and drink water regularly. When you’re on the go a bottle of water is always beneficial, it will be a constant reminder to stay hydrated. Bottoms up!
1Dolgoff, S. (n.d.). The ultimate energy drink: how to stay hydrated. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from fitness:

2Editors, M. (n.d.). 5 reasons never to neglect water. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from Men's Fitness:

Staying Fit for Stay at Home Pregnant Mothers with Children

Being pregnant already causes people to have their reservations about what they can do exercise wise, and a little one makes it a little bit more complicated. Exercising is crucial to staying healthy, but exercising during pregnancy is even more important. Staying healthy and exercising during pregnancy can help make the labor be much smoother, healthier recovery, and losing that baby weight is much easier and faster.Doctors make women gain twenty-five pounds throughout pregnancy for the health of the baby. However, a lot of women tend to gain more which, makes it even harder to lose after the baby is born.  Obesity can be linked to pregnancy since about 34% of women tend to not stay active during pregnancy., at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 4 to 5 days a week, if not everyday. The key to this is finding exercises that work for a specific mother-to-be. Some things just aren’t for everyone!

  • A good start for a normal stay at home mother would be to walk everyday. Starting out by walking 2 miles, and then eventually, towards the end of their pregnancy most women can’t be on their feet for long periods of time due to swelling and being uncomfortable. Breaking up those walks into multiple ones will do the trick.
  • Lifting weights is another essential thing to do. Most women would need to do light weights in the middle of their second trimester or the their third. This would be due to how strenuous heavy weight can be on a pregnant woman’s body.
  • Pilates and swimming are other amazing exercises. The swimming allows the body to be weightless in the water. It allows women to get a good exercise in without actually straining their body.

All women should consult their physician first before doing exercises while pregnant, especially if they haven’t already been exercising regularly. If the body is used to it then it is not near as much of a problem as it would be for a beginner. Pregnancy can be an amazing thing but keeping it that way benefits from staying healthy and fit during that 9 months.

Evenson, K., Moos, M., Carrier, K., & Siega-Riz, A. (2008). Perceived Barriers to Physical Activity among Pregnant Women. Matern Child Health J, 364-7375.

Stay Fit and Healthy During Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2015, from

The Spread Offense

Like all sports the x’s and o’s of football have evolved over the games 100 plus year history. The game has moved away from its traditional offensive schemes of running downhill with the Wing T, Triple Option and Power I. Within the past 20 years the game has switched to a passing dominate game and the term ‘Spread Offense’ has become the norm. Running an offense that has four wide receivers and one running back is the base offense for many football teams. You may wonder what caused this change in schematics and the answer is simple, to create mismatches.
Photo courtesy of
Offensively, the game of football has always been about creating mismatches, trying to get a more athletic player guarded by a less athletic player on the opposing team. The spread offense was originally created in 1958 by Tiger Ellison and was first referred to as the Run-and-Shoot offense.1 Over the next 70 years the run and shoot will develop into what the spread is now.
During the late 90’s and early 2000’s the spread-to-pass consisted of four to five receivers that spread across the field from number to number. The coaches spread the receivers and lineman out so much to create easy throwing lanes for the quarterback. Coaches such as Hal Mumme and Mike Leach and known for lining up in these formations and throwing the ball 70 times a game. “Only problem with this is, when a defense figures out a way to stop the passing game, they make you one dimensional and force you to run the ball. With these huge splits between the offensive line it limits the schemes that you can run from a run-game perspective.”2  This puts your offense on a crutch at all time. Defenses know when they stop the passing game, they are kicking the crutch out from under you, leaving you helpless.
The adaption to this crutch is to tighten the splits of your receivers and lineman back down so you can run the ball. “A lot of guys that were spread, have come to the conclusion that we’re going to be a lot better if we can run the football. And as a result the line splits have gotten smaller which has allowed more blocking schemes to evolve.”2  This created the Spread-to-Run offense which is what teams such as Oregon, Auburn and Clemson run. These teams are spreading the formations out and running many of the same plays that were being ran in the Wing T and Triple Option, the only difference this time, it is out of the shotgun.
Within the past decade football has become a offensive dominate game. Coaches are running these formations to create mismatches on the field. Just like every other offense ever ran in football, it will eventually be figured out. When defensive coaches find a way to beat the mismatches and shut down the spread offensive on a consecutive basis, the game of football offensively will change into something else. But until this time, the spread offense is here to stay.
1Schlabach, M. (2009, July 20). Schlabach: Spread offense has been decades in the making. Retrieved March 23, 2015.

2Gemmell, K. (2014, November 25). Sonny Dykes talks evolution of the spread. Retrieved March 23, 2015.