Friday, September 28, 2012

Baby’s First Foods!

There is more than enough to think about when preparing for the arrival of your baby, and nutrition is certainly one at the top of the list! Babies need more calories and protein per pound than any other age group, and their nutrition is key to their growth and development.

As an infant, the mother’s milk is the number one way to obtain the needed nourishment and caloric intake. This is not always possible for a variety of reasons, or it may require tremendous support from doctors, mid wives, or doula’s. La Leche League is also an option for wonderful support and encouragement.

The introduction of solid foods can begin after the age of six months, one at time and continue for 5-7 days. If there are no adverse reactions the next food can be introduced. The age at which you introduce certain foods will vary depending on when you start solid foods, but the order is what is more important.

Starting with pureed vegetables, followed by soaked and cooked whole grains, and then fruit. Feeding babies fruit first may lead to a baby preferring the sweet taste!

The recommendations below are based on a baby getting most of their calories from breast milk for the first 12 months. In the case of using baby formula then more calories from food are recommended as well as the introduction of protein foods between 8-10 months such as legumes and egg yolks.

Food #1: Vegetables
  •  Start with pureed beans, peas, pumpkin, squash, potatoes
  • At nine months introduce spinach, beets, turnips, carrots (which require a more mature digestive system)

Food #2: Grains, no wheat yet
  •   Rice, oats, barley, quinoa, millet
  •   Soak for several hours in purified water, then cook
  •   You may add breast milk or formula as liquid
  •    Start with thin cereal and gradually thicken over time
  •    Read labels to ensure there are no additives
  •     If possible, buy grains whole and grind them

Food #3: Fruits
  •  About a month after starting vegetables try; applesauce, peaches, apricots, pears, and plums
  •   Start with cooked fruit and then move to uncooked and mashed fruit
  •   As much as possible stick to organic to reduce the amount of pesticides
  •    Imported fruit is higher in pesticide residue
  •    If not organic, locally grown fruit is wonderful

Food #4: Vegetables (that require more chewing!)
  • Once your baby has conquered fruits, try zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus tips, kale and tomatoes
  • You can steam or puree these
  • You can add potatoes or rice cereal

Food #5: Protein (10 Months)
  • The digestive system and kidneys are ready to handle some protein
  • Options include; meat, poultry, beans, egg yolks (whites can be left for a few more months as they are more difficult to digest), nut butters

As we try to with ourselves, it is ideal to avoid sugar, salt, refined flours, processed foods, additives, preservatives, dyes, and hydrogenated fats.  Fruit juices should also be avoided!

Having an easy to follow list and options to choose from will take the guesswork out of the equation. Starting our children off on the best possible path we can, will allow for a healthy, happy, thriving baby (and parents!).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shift Your Focus

 Why do we exercise? The majority of people will answer: to lose weight, to get trim, to get toned, to lean up, to get strong or one of many other ways of saying "to get in shape”. How will you know when you have reached this goal? Will you wake up one morning and say to yourself “Ah, finally I’m in shape”? Chances are this magical moment will never happen. You will always find your fitness wanes and waxes depending on your commitment level, work schedule, and motivation. Motivating yourself by focusing on your body image is not healthy and not helpful to getting you where you want to go, but most of us insist on doing just that everyday.

People are constantly meeting with personal training coaches and saying “I want to get in shape”. Their reason for is almost always to look better and lose weight. Invariably, the answer to this is  “"Okay, let's get after losing that weight” or some variation thereof. The problem with this line of thought is that it is not fun to lose weight. It is not fun to focus on decreasing your chance of chronic illness or disease. It is simply not fun to get in shape. It is really not fun to wake up in the morning and have your weight be the first thing on your mind. Changing the focus from what is not fun to what is fun is the first step in creating an actual lifestyle change that is long term and sustainable.

This is not a "6-minute abs" commercial or a "12-minute a day ripped body" advertisement. This, instead, is the straight goods. This is the "work very hard for a very long time and see amazing results" plan. It is not as enticing as the "bow-flex body" that it seems you can inherit with almost no effort, but the big difference here is that this plan actually works.

How do we fight the “I guess I should go to the gym” mentality and make it “I can’t wait to get to the gym”? We shift our focus. We find things that we enjoy doing and set goals that are not related to our body image. Don’t focus your attention on the “I don’t want to’s” (I don’t want to be fat, I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want to hurt anymore, I don’t want to… etc etc..), instead focus on the “I want to’s” (I want to hike that mountain, I want to run that trail, I want to ride that canyon) and you will find that, while your attention has shifted away from the fat on your belly and your quest for fitness and to be in shape, your enthusiasm will find new energy. While it is not fun to ponder weight loss, it is fun to plan the next bike ride!
There is a magical thing that will happen with this focus shift. While you are planning your next event, adventure, workout with a friend, or run, you will be losing weight, trimming up, and getting healthy.

Exercise works 100% of the time if it is actually done. It does not work when it is done sporadically and/or with half effort. You need to put in the work to get the results; the real trick is how to put in the work and enjoy it. Don’t just dream about enjoying the eventual end game of being fit, but, instead, enjoy the right-now moments of the run, the ride, the hike, and the adventure!
          ~ Yoshia

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Parents, Step Back.

Note: the opinions expresses in this blog post are from a parent who’s son plays at a high level of youth sport and not sour grapes from a parent who believes the amateur volunteer coach carries a vendetta against their children or their family. They are also founded on the basis of a degree in Kinesiology with emphasis on instruction & coaching, skill development and over twenty years in the business of personal training.

There we were right in the thick of everything wrong with youth sport. Aligning ourselves with the influencers, nodding in disbelief with every new piece of information and politicing with the coach while inadvertently compromising the most important aspect of all; our sons experience. We knew better, seven years of coaching 300+ days / year across many sports, you see & hear it all. Every well intended parent wanting ‘the best’ for their kids. How can that be wrong? Well, it’s wrong when it’s misguided.

Last week.....
We had the fortune of listening to Drew Mitchell. Drew is a head of state with the BC Sport Agency who has spent years collecting data on the practice & business of sport (from youth to community, to provincial & national sport organizations). Drew was at a conference we held around the decline of physical literacy and shared their findings;

  1. significant decline in enrollment at the ages of 11-12-13 due to the differentiation in coaching quality between rep & house levels
  2. secondary decline in participation at the ages of 13-14-15 due to those rep kids being pushed too hard and subsequently burning out.
  3. am alarming lack of overall physical literacy by the ages of 16 & 17 from the conditions above as well as social influencers such as gaming, poor nutrition habits, decreased activity time, dual income earners, PE cuts in schools all the way to PE teachers with poor literacy skills themselves.

We can personally attest to these findings as last year we were hired to lead a dryland training program for an ‘elite level’ program. We had big goals for the kids which all changed on day #1 when we found out 9/10’s of the 10 & 11 year old players lacked the basic physical literacy skills to stand, run, and move through space properly. Interestingly, these players were & still are considered ‘high level / rep athletes’, which tells us there may be even more work to do at the lower levels.

Through their research, Drew & his team are attempting to address these issues by attempting the following.

  1. share best coaching practices in a mentorship type formula
  2. encourage youth to be as active & try as many different sports as they can vs. skipping stages, or specializing in a single sport year round
  3. partner with initiatives that promote physical literacy at early ages (5-10) so activity, quality nutrition, PE programs & teacher training are introduced and reinforced in early stages of development.

Naturally we concur, however the lynch pin still relies on one very important character; the parent(s) who seemingly don’t’ understand or are not willing to take responsibility for just how much damage they are doing. We’re all familiar with ‘that parent’ who;

  • stands rinkside yelling & coaching from behind the glass while his kid is playing hockey
  • puts their kids in 50 different sports / year and wonders why mid season they just want to sleep or are chronically injured  
  • writes letters and files complaints every time their daughter / son is ‘wronged’ by the evil association of volunteers who donate their free time bcs they are passionate about youth sport.
  • generally lives vicariously though their child under the auspice of ‘just wanting to provide the best for them’.

We’ve got news for this type of parent. The biggest favor you can do for your child, team & association is a) educate yourself prior to the season on what’s necessary b) disappear during practices or games or c) press your lips tightly together before, during and after practices & games and let those who are qualified to teach skill acquisition.... Teach skill acquisition.

  • You probably wouldn’t try to dispense pills if you were not a pharmacist.
  • You wouldn’t likely prepare tax forms if you weren’t an accountant.
  • So don’t try to coach when you are not qualified to teach/coach youth sport.

*To be clear, coaching at youth sport is much more than stepping on the ice, pitch, pad, court, diamond or field and running a series of drills. Coaching is empowering confidence, inspiring performance, and building character, which if you are behaving like ‘that parent’ already... you’ve likely already blown. So while you’re scratching your head at how, where & why Johhny has a bad attitude, pull up a mirror.

What is clear is that the challenges with youth sport are real & widespread. With over 1/3rd of Canadian children being overweight and the ‘middle class’ of active/healthy children disappearing, it’s obvious we need a paradigm shift and we will need it quickly. What we can control is our influence and message and that needs to be fun as a 1st priority. Fun is the foundation of all performance at low / medium and high levels of sport (inclusive of winning), and we need to make sure we’re bringing that back at it’s essence in a non scripted, non pressured, no stigma manner.

With fun, there needs to be a specific intentional education on physical literacy, practiced and graded at the same frequency as reading & numeracy.

The time is now!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Be the Change You Wish to See.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, one of the best leaders of our time and someone that provided an incredible amount of perspective during to the world. As for his quote…sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet few truly see it through.

There are probably a lot of people that google “how to be the change” or “be the change you wish to see in the world meaning” but what is it that they are actually looking for? Maybe they are in search of something more meaningful out of life. Or they may just be looking at ways to give back. Or they are stuck in that rat race of life and are in need of a change in their personal lives or their professional careers….and they have no idea where to start. Which probably contributes to why only 2% of the people in the world actually change.  

However, when we re-read Gandhi’s words of wisdom, we truly need to grasp that change starts and happens by us. We need to understand that if we wish for a specific outcome in life, we need to direct our energies, attitudes and actions toward that outcome. Because (for the most part), we have the power and ability to make most things happen – it just requires work & more importantly ACTion.   

Time & time again, we watch and hear people that complain about x, y, and z topic, yet don’t contribute to the outcome. A perfect example is government & politics. How many people do you know that could complain about the individual or party that is in power, yet they never went to the poles to submit their vote? Or how about the person that complains about their work environment or wage, yet never take responsibility in contributing to the change that they are looking for?

This is the step where we need to look at ourselves and take action. Nike says it best - JUST DO IT. In life, we will have to make some decisions. But if we take control of our decisions with the outcome we want in mind, we are taking control of our life versus life happening to us. These actions, whether BIG or small, all contribute to our overall mission to create change. And that’s all that matters. If we want to be ‘leaders’ in our respective scenarios (at work, at home, etc), we need to be the ones that create the path and lead all of those that are looking to follow. We need to be the change that we want to see. And that exact mentality is what will separate us from all the others that would rather follow and be status quo.
 If you change nothing, nothing will change.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Crazy 8's

It’s not a complete list but it's close to the top tips shared on a weekly basis to those looking for anything from an improved body composition to just feeling better about oneself. Enjoy and good luck to whatever goal you are currently working on…

Sleep: Get a good night’s sleep by keeping all electronics and lights out of your room at nigh. Stay away from your computer late at night as the LED light tricks us into staying awake plus the emails or work you are doing will not be relaxing. Read a book by candlelight in a chair vs watching tv in bed.

Water: Set and work on your daily water goal by sipping your water all day long. Any gulps will cause more bathroom breaks as heavy gulps will end up further/faster down the line vs absorbing evenly as you sip.

Protein: Set and work on your daily protein goal by starting your days with protein and including it in your snacks and meals. Ensure you are getting enough healthy fats by eating nuts, seeds and supplementing on fish oils made from small cold water fish.

Vegetables: Your mom was right! Hammer vegetables down like it’s your job. Pick a variety of in-season vegetables and rotate them in your meals as the body can get use to the fiber. Choose different ways of preparing that include; juicing, raw, steamed, cooked and grilled.

Move around: Exercise is more than important, it’s essential. Stretching is as important as exercise. Don’t be the one who goes for a run and doesn’t stretch. Adopt a weekly yoga class or rent a yoga dvd from the library because improving flexibility can reduce the chance of injury and even help us sleep.

Sugar: Cut it down or even out. It’s a tall order but sugar is toxic and removing it will help you more than you may realize. We messed up; we are killing ourselves with this addictive substance. Damn you tasty treats!

Processed foods: Only allow whole foods into your mouths. Any foods that need 10-30 processing steps will not have the nutrients that your body needs. Eating heavily processed foods is the same as starving yourself as these foods only trick us into feeling full or that we have satisfied our natural cravings for healthy foods.

Inflammation: This little gem causes us to age and die. Cut down on oxidative stress by removing foods that are difficult to digest or that cause an inflammatory response in your body. A top 6 list would look like this; eggs, soy, corn, gluten, yeast and dairy.

Less is more ya’ll and setting an achievable plan/goal will get you there faster than setting yourself up with something you can’t follow ;)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Getting Kids Focused

After spending today in several elementary schools, and experiencing how difficult it can be for teachers and myself to hold their attention, it brought me back to a fairly debated topic. How much does diet play a role in our ability, and especially our children’s ability to focus and hold their attention? There are several possible triggers that we should be aware of that can make a big difference. 

Sugar is number one on this list and should be avoided at all cost when kids are growing up. These are critical years when young people are establishing number of fat cells and metabolic rates based on diets and activity levels. White flour, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors should also be avoided. 

Special attention on what labels are reporting and if there are numerous ingredients, and especially if the ingredients are words that are not recognizable then it is better left on the shelf. 

These items on this list can contribute to an array of imbalances in the digestive system such as the inability to properly digest food. When this occurs there is the chance that large undigested molecules can enter the blood stream through the intestines and lead to allergies and inflammation in the body. Sugar is a double-edged sword in that it requires extra nutrients to deal with it and it can also block nutrients from being properly absorbed. 

One option is to use a Rotation Diet to find out which foods a child may be sensitive to and then they may be foods that can be avoided entirely for a period of time. During this time your body has a chance to heal from inflammation caused by the food or foods that are causing the allergy or food sensitivity. 

Often foods that you eat often or tend to “love” are often the same foods that are not being broken down properly. Here is a list of common allergy culprits:
1. Dairy products 
2.  Wheat products, which includes wheat, oats, and barley. 
3.  Meat, fish, or poultry 
4.  Oranges 
5.  Chocolate 
6.  Refined sugars, which include white table sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, and honey. 
7.  White flour or anything made with white flour 
8.  Corn 
9.  Potatoes 
10. Eggs 
11. Soy

In addition to eliminating foods from the diet it is important to increase certain nutrients. One important one I would suggest is essential fatty acids such as omega 3. 

The time you should eliminate a food or foods from your child’s diet anywhere from 4-6 weeks or until you notice the symptoms have lessened. 

When it is time to try a food again, only introduce one food item at a time. Wait 1-2 days before doing this again with another food item. Sugar and white flour should always be avoided, as there are no health benefits to them. 

As close to a whole diet as possible should be followed by the whole family and especially when a child has difficulty with paying attention or concentrating, the diet should be a main focus.