Stress-Relieving Foods

Ever woke up and just felt stress laying over your head or had so much work to do one night you didn’t know when you were going to sleep? The more stressed out we get the more we tend to get into unhealthy habits and eat those foods that can hurt us. If your stress is totally out of control then it’s important to try to make food our friend rather then our enemy. Here is a list of a few foods that can actually help reduce our stress.

  • Oranges. They are filled with vitamin C which is very important to our blood pressure. The less our blood pressure is, the less we are stressed. They are also an excellent piece of fruit to eat when that common cold comes along. Oranges will keep that stress down so our workouts will become more successful.
  • Spinach. Magnesium is a very important nutrient that the body needs. If we don’t consume enough magnesium then we tend to be more sick and feel more tired. Sickness causes everyone’s stress levels to rise because the more we are sick the more classes and practices we are bound to skip. So put a few leaves of spinach and that salad and start feeling good! 
  • Salmon. This type of fish is filled with a fatty acid called omega-3. Cortisol and Adrenaline are the two stress hormones that are produced through this fatty acid. Many take a supplement containing salmon if fish is usually not in their diet.
  • Avocados. They are filled with potassium that makes our blood pressure go down causing reduced stress. Potassium is credited for being one of the best nutrients in the world to lower our blood pressure. Did you know that they have more potassium then bananas?
These foods are a great source of energy as well and really help the athlete stay fit and less stressed. With all of the work and practices college athletes go through, they need any type of nutrients that is going to keep that blood pressure down. These foods will not only help your performance, but it will help your overall health as well.

Breakfast Makes Champions

Whether we had a long night before or we are simply just to tired, breakfast still needs to be the most important meal of the day. I will admit I am guilty of barely eating breakfast everyday, but when I do I am able to see the differences in how my body works. Breakfast is very important because without it, it is very difficult to get all of our daily nutrients. Most adults are less efficent when it comes to mental and physical abilities when missing a meal. The sugar levels are restored during breakfast after you have stopped eating for the past 12 hours. Most athletes who are looking to maintain weight or gain weight should eat a breakfast to make this is possible. The less breakfast meals you eat, the less your training is going to be successful. Eating breakfast has also shown to increase concentration. This helps athletes keep focused on the event and gives them the brain power they need to perform. Many nutritionists have proved that at least one quarter of your calories should be coming from breakfast. The daily nutrients needed are:

  • One serving of  fiber                                    
  • One fruit and/or vegetable
  • Milk or another source of calcium
  • Protein from meat, cheese or eggs
As a gymnast, our usual practice time is from 2 to 5. This means that eating a full breakfast is important for my practice time later in the day. It not only tames hunger, but it gives me the fuel I need during those hard workouts. It is especially important during pre season with all of our running is done. It is shown that athletes who eat breakfast and then an energy bar before workout are capable of exercising 20% harder then compared to no breakfast at all.

Alcohol And It’s Effects

Alcohol; its all around college students. But what does it really do to athletes? We all work extremely hard to achieve our goals and sometimes having to much fun really ruins everything. Some don’t really understand the affects of just a few drinks a night. Alcohol barely holds any nutritional value. Consuming alcohol really affects both muscles buildup because it erases the protein
taken in that day. Recovery is very important after a workout because it lets the body sleep and gain muscle memory. If the body doesn’t recover properly then it is deprived from human growth hormone. Human Growth Hormone is a chemical that is apart of muscle building and the body repairing from the previous workout resulting in no change of muscle strength. When alcohol is absorbed it can disrupt your muscle’s source of energy; ATP. The affect of alcohol consumption cause cause dehydration making the body unable to heal from working out. The sugars in the drink are soon turned into fatty acids causing lack of energy. Drinking the night before a practice is extremely difficult because their is barely anything left in your body. Many nutrients are lost and their is no energy left inside the body. Student-athletes need to be the most careful when it comes to partying because it can affect their season and even their career. The one thing I learned about being an athlete is how much information can get back to any coach. If your not careful your season can end in a flash and you will be suffering major consequences. Alcohol can lead to other problems such as drug use, unwanted sexual activity and even death. In order to stay fit, alcohol should not be on one’s menu. To get that successful workout done the next day… JUST BE SMART!


What’s a Stress Eraser?

So what really is a stress eraser? Is it an actual eraser that can just take all of our stress away? Well, not exactly but it is pretty close to that! The Stress Eraser is a portable device that helps the user control breathing and to keep our inhales and exhales consistent. How does it work you may ask? Well every time our heart beats, it increases and decreases in a cycle known as “Heart Rate Variability.” A sensor is located in the device where our HRV is measured from the pulse of our fingertip. The user is able to see when the inhale is taking place as well as the exhale. It is clear that when you are very stressed the lines on the device are very messy and jagged. But when you are relaxed the lines move much smoother. The Stress Eraser uses different symbols that tell us when to inhale or exhale. The two symbols include a square and triangle, both having their own purpose. Triangle is the top point of the wave which means your heart rate is at it’s highest rate. The square is a scoring system for the wave, and the goal is to get 3 squares for each wave. It is important to inhale and exhale for the same number of seconds to keep the wave smooth. One important instruction is to just exhale at the triangle. This means time the actual inhale so your exhale is at the same time the triangle appears. The goal is to get 30 waves total by the end of the session It may take a few times but the most important thing is to be patient. It is all about taking that stress away and learning to breathe correctly. It takes a few times to use the device but once you get the hang of it, it is very easy. My first time took me almost an hour to complete 30 perfect waves, but once I got the hang of it and really relaxed it took less time. Our coach was the first to introduce us to this device and we were required to use it at least once a week. I really could not believe the difference I saw in my breathing and relaxation techniques. Athletes of all sports would really enjoy using this device to deal with the stress before that big competition. It is also important to manage stress in everyday life. I highly suggest a Stress Eraser for anyone and I will continue using it.

Coaches Are Friends Too

Most of us have all had a sports coach at some point in our lives. Reaching college I have realized how many I have actually had and how much they have done for me. Being a gymnast here at the University of New Hampshire has made me lucky enough to have three different coaches. Each coach has their own job inside and out of the gym, and they are all special in their own ways. Coaches can sometimes be very demanding and push you, but it is only because they are their to prove that you can do it. Some take it offensively and others take it as a motivation skill to push themselves and work harder to be that better athlete. Coaches are people too and they are always going to be their for their athletes. It has taken me a little while but I have finally learned that my coaches are going to be their for me no matter what. They are there to teach you what they know and give you the corrections you need. I now meet with my coach once a week to talk about anything that is bothering me and she is there

to give me the best advice she can. I talk about my school work and how my practices are going as well as anything else that is on my mind. She is capable of lowering the stress I have and gives me tips on improving and handling my time management when it goes to both school and gymnastics. I am very lucky to have these coaches in my life and they are to thank when it comes to bring apart of this team. Always remember that coaches are their for you and will listen to any problems you are going through. They are there to not just be a coach but to lower any kind of stress you are dealing with. They deal with stress too and they understand everything an athlete handles.

Water Vs. Gatorade

No matter what kind of exercise you are doing, everyone needs to be rehydrated at some point during the workout. No matter if your drinking a sports drink or water, it will be beneficial to your body when needing to replace some kind of fluid. Water is seen as a drink that helps transport nutrients throughout the body as well as keeping it in balance. This becomes more helpful and easier for the body to work with if the water is consumed before, during and after workout. The recommended daily intake of water is about eight glasses. This can usually change depending on the environment and the activities that an athlete is engaging in. Gatorade is considered a sports drink and unlike water, it is full of electrolytes like potassium and sodium that will replace regular electrolytes that are lost when an athlete begins to sweat.

Gatorade also contains carbohydrates which will give the athlete more energy. Personally, I do not take part in drinking any type of sports drinks and I drink as much water as I can. It is one of the only drinks I consume and I find it beneficial throughout my workout. I drink about four glasses throughout practice, and about one before and after. When it comes to running and conditioning I tend to drink a little more. Scientifically, gatorade is recommended more for those who are engaging in vigorous activities. It does however contain many more calories then water and does not hydrate better then water. This can lead to weight gain which most athletes do not want when they are striving to be physically fit. Gatorade can also effect your teeth from all the sugar which can cause dental problems. Overall, both of these drinks are a great source of fluids when working out and the choice is mainly up to the athlete and how intense their workout is.


We All Need Sleep

Everyone dreads waking up on those Monday mornings. We all need the right amount of sleep in order to function everyday. Lack of sleep can affect our work ethic, socializing with others and having a successful workout. I know that with my schedule I must be more on top of getting my work done so I can get to bed and get a good night sleep as soon as possible. I am lucky enough to have a roommate that is an athlete as well because we both know how important sleep is. Sleep can impact us in so many different ways. The cerebral cortex in the frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for concentration, flexibility and decision making. Losing sleep makes this part of the brain not work as hard, and if this is not working as hard, then having a good practice is very rare. Another reason is that sleep is very important regarding a growth hormone release which is part of the body’s cell growth and reproduction. This hormone is responsible for both increasing muscle mass as well as stimulating the immune system. This is important in any sport in order to be successful with gaining muscle and performing to the best of your ability, as well as staying away from getting any illnesses. There are many ways that we can all improve our sleeping patterns but there are a few that really stand out. It is important to give a consistent wake up time and go to bed time everyday. It helps us adjust and make our bodies memorize that those are the times when it is important to fall asleep or wake up. Another tip is to avoid coffee, alcohol or stimulants before heading to bed for the night. These can affect getting a full night sleep with everything going through your body. The last important tip is trying to avoid vigorous exercise and large food intake after 7:30. I try every night to get a full eight hours of sleep. Getting anything less is definitely noticeable to me and it clearly affects my workouts.