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Archive for January, 2012


Recommended Reading – January 27

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My weeks are sandwiched between weekends filled with the kids’ swim meets, gymnastics meets and team events. The 8 weeks from January 1 – February 28 are undoubtedly the 8 craziest weeks in our schedule. But, its a good crazy – a crazy I wouldn’t trade for anything. So what does a busy, always on the go sports mom read? Below are some of my favorite articles from this week:

  • Youth Basketball – Do you have to be a star to be great?  (StatsDad) I think this article plays to all sports, not just basketball… definitely a good read.
  • It’s always a proud parent moment when the coach asks your athlete to train up with the next level or age group – but is it always a good idea? Moving Athletes Up: Good or Bad Idea? (JBM Thinks)
  • On the ice skating front, twelve year old Jin Baseman’s story is one that gives me goosebumps! Abandoned in a box on the side of a road in China as a baby, Jin was adopted by and American family, started skating at age 5  and immediately loved it. Jin has had lots of injuries and set backs, but her love for ice skating and aptitude for it indicate that she has a very bright future.
  • Determining what and how much your athlete should eat after practice or a game can be a little tricky as there is no simple one-size-fits-all answer. This article by Nancy Clark for Our Game magazine helps take some of the mystery out of it! Remember, if you are an athlete you need carbs.
  • While we are on the topic of nutrition – Chicks Play Sports has a good post about teaching your kids how to read nutrition labels.
  • Any guesses as to who will be the stand out star of the 2012 Olympic games this summer? It looks like there is not a general front runner at this point, however, gymnast Jordyn Wieber and swimmer Missy Franklin are definitely on the top of the list.

Have a great weekend everyone! One swim meet, one gymnastics meet, and one high school swim team bowling event define my weekend and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Categories : Resources
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Once the winter months hit and cold and flu season are at their peak, how to you keep your athletes healthy and ready to play? The truth is no level of vigilance and preparation will guarantee your child will not get sick two days before the championship game, however, there are things you can be doing and foods your athlete can be eating that will definitely tip the scales of health in their favor!

1. Sleep – ensure that your athlete is getting the proper amount of sleep for their age. The body needs that down time for repairs and re-energizing.

2. Fluids – make sure your athlete gets plenty of water, milk and vitamin rich fruit juices in their daily diet. Steer clear of sodas and other drinks high in sugar and artificial sweeteners.

3. Fruits & Veggies – Fresh fruits and vegetables are the absolute best source of vitamins and minerals that you can give your kids. Be creative or be fun, but get them in their daily diets. The best vitamin sources are strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe, blueberries, tomato, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, apricots, carrots, mango and bananas. Check out USA Swimming’s list of the top 5 foods to build immunity for more ideas.

4. Reduce Sugar and Sweeteners – Sugar suppresses the immune system. The fewer sugary foods you can give your athletes, the better. Sugar is the main ingredient in so many convenient processed foods. Many of the artificial sweeteners on the market today are not much better, really. Aspartame can cause headaches and more serious reactions in some. Splenda is known for causing stomach and intestinal issues. Our family doctor recommends that parents give their children Splenda when they are constipated (we have tested this one and it works).

5. Yogurt – The enzymes in yogurt are great for restoring balance in your child’s digestive tract. Look for yogurt with active cultures as they are the ones that help restore the good bacteria in your system (especially after being on antibiotics). Yogurt is also high in calcium – good for strong bones. One note – steer clear of the candy colored, high sugar yogurts.

6. Good fats – Your body needs a certain amount of good fats in order to stay healthy. Many types of fish, like salmon, are naturally high in Omega 3 Fatty acids. Another good source of Omega 3 is flax seed oil. You can easily add flax seed to oatmeal and other hot cereals and your kids will never know they are there. We use Coromega Omega-3 Supplement in the Orange Flavor. They come as little squeeze packets my kids love and they taste like orange cream with no oily residue either. I blend them into smoothies in the morning for the kids and they love it.

7. Vitamins – Vitamins B and C are two of the most important when it comes to boosting the immune system. Our pediatrician recommends a good multivitamin just to fill in the gaps in your athlete’s diet. Vitamin C is available in many forms from fresh fruits, fortified in many foods, and vitamins. Personally I love Emergen-C. It is a powder that you add to water to make a fizzy, fruit flavored drink high in vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals.

8. Supplements – Sometimes athlete’s just need a little extra boost. Low doses of zinc have been shown to boost the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of colds and other viruses. Probiotics are important for restoring balance to the intestinal tract – especially following antibiotic use. Many of the vitamin/supplement companies are now making children’s formulas of their products (never give children the standard adult dose of a supplement and always check with your doctor first).

Building your athlete’s immune system all year long will help keep them on the playing field, in the pool, on the court or in the gym when everyone around you is looking for the box of tissues!

Categories : Nutrition
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This is a guest post by Laura Amann

disappointed gymnastMy days of gymnastics are over. So are my long hours at the gym. My nervousness and anxiety. It’s all in the past. No more ponytails woven with ribbons, no more glitter spray, no more bleacher analysis. My daughter has left the sport.

For years, Caroline competed on a gymnastics team and she adored everything about it. Four days a week, we drove the ½ hour back and forth to the gym so that she could practice 15 hours a week, year-round. I volunteered, I chatted with the parents, I watched and learned and bit my nails. The parents became my friends, the meets became a social time.

Eventually after three years of this schedule, the complaints began: the coaches were too hard, she had a headache, she was tired, she had too much homework. Her message read loud and clear: she was burnt out at the age of 11.

So much attention has been given recently on the downside of focusing on just one sport at such a young age, that we overlook some benefits. Yes, kids miss out on the opportunity to dabble in other sports or activities. Homework is often done in the car or in the bleachers. Dinner is split into two meals: before practice and after.  She frequently misses out on seeing her three siblings compete in their own activities.

Yet as we leave the world of competitive gymnastics, I’m forced to reflect on all that it has given us. We’ve heard many comments lamenting our “lost investment” or pointing out all that wasted time and money we’ve expended (and it’s been a tremendous amount, don’t get me wrong) but it’s certainly not wasted.  By focusing so singularly on a sport, she’s learned tremendous life skills. Not the least of which is valuable time management skills – homework and friends must be balanced with the team schedule. Competing individually in front of judges has taught her to handle intense competition and scrutiny in a way that class presentations never could. She’s mastered stress management and developed a self-confidence that will serve her well in any type of public arena.

Her teammates have taught her about the deep bonds you develop with others who share your passion. She’s met some close friends and seen the good and the ugly side of competition.  She’s learned about nutrition, hydration, caring for injuries, pacing yourself and pushing yourself. All before the age of 12.

It’s humbling to realize how much of my version of her is wrapped up in her being a gymnast and how much of her identity involves her being a gymnast. It’s part of what defines her. This is the fine line that we must walk as parents: when to encourage them to keep going over a bump in the road, and when to guide them to another path. There are never clear street signs.

We’ve watched in amazement. And now we will watch as she walks away from what defines her the most. She’s young; there will be other time-intensive activities I’m sure. The gymnastics world will slowly fade away from our family’s routine. Life goes on. But I will be forever grateful to the sport, to any activity, that can inspire and push children to dream and grow.

Perhaps the biggest lesson that she’s learned is the one that amazes me the most. Because of her rigorous schedule, she’s developed a kind of discipline that some people only dream of: when she’s tired, she goes to sleep; when she’s not hungry, she doesn’t eat. And that’s a life experience worth learning.

Laura Amann is a freelance writer and the mother of four children. You can learn more at

Image source: Stock.xchng

Categories : Gymnastics, Parenting
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