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Get Healthy During the Sports Season Shuffle

April 1, 2011
By Diane Johnson

Another sports season is here and, as usual, healthy habits get shoved by the wayside. Exercise is replaced by shuttle service and bleacher conversation. Healthy eating habits are replaced with drive-thru jaunts and easy to grab snacks of pop and chips. Sanity is shot because the to-do list is filled with unmarked check-boxes resulting in rushed dinners of frozen pizzas and fast foods.

Wouldn't it be nice to end the season looking and feeling better than when it started? You can and you may just find a bonus; time to kick your feet up and relax. Implementing just one of the healthy tips will make a dramatic difference in your health and your outlook. So, pick one or all three and the sports season may just become your favorite season.

Healthy Tip #1- Exercise:

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You have heard "walk around the track while your kids practice," now is the time to do it. Mix it up and walk the neighborhood. Get your caffeine fix by walking to the local coffee house or grocery store and picking up small items you are running low on, remember to keep the load light. If you are lucky enough that your child's practices are at a stadium, use the stairs. No running necessary, walking up and down is just as beneficial. Or use the stairs for tricep dips and push-ups. According to the staff of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) "You will notice improvements in muscular endurance in approximately two weeks of exercise. And improvements in cardiovascular benefits can be seen after six weeks."

Have a younger child in tow? NASPE has a suggestion for that, too. Play with him. "Throw a ball or Frisbee, you will both benefit."

Pass on the small drink cooler. Get out the big camping cooler and keep it in the back of your vehicle. Use cold packs or gallon-size freezer bags filled with ice. Stock up on grapes, strawberries, bananas, baby carrots, granola bars, yogurt, nuts, and water. These are easy items to grab and drop in your cooler before heading out the door. Whip up sandwiches and toss them in the cooler, too: always throw in more than you need. If you get stuck in traffic or end up running errands afterward, you and your athlete will stay hydrated and picked up with healthy food rather than bogged down with fries and burgers.

Deborah Enos, a certified nutritionist who has worked with Costco and the American Heart Association, suggests adding hard-boiled eggs, lean turkey lunchmeat, and "peanut butter because it is a good protein source and, because of the fat, it will help to calm the kids down." Make it a habit to keep that cooler in your vehicle and last minute pit stops through drive-thrus will become less frequent. "When you are more organized with your food and getting a little bit of exercise, your stress levels are going to be lower," says Enos.

Healthy Tip #3 Eat A Healthy Dinner with Your Family:

Incorporate spousal team work. While one parent is at practice, the other can get dinner ready. Single or spouse unavailable? No problem, use the crock pot. As Enos says, "the best part about the crock pot is that you usually have left-over's you can use for lunch or dinner the next night. Cook once, eat twice." Having dinner ready for everyone when they get in the door is one less thing to worry about. Your child will be able to eat and finish homework with time to spare for loud music and must-place phone calls. You will have time to finish your to-do list.

The Bonus: Time for Relaxing

After implementing the above steps you are now saving time bypassing the drive-thru line, having your spouse or crock pot at the ready with dinner, and having exercised while your child practiced saving you a trip to the gym. Now you have the time to read a good book, catch up on a TV show you have been missing, or just lie back and enjoy the calm.

The NASPE staff says, "The feeling of accomplishment associated with finishing your to-do list, having exercised, and eaten well builds confidence and momentum for the next day. You'll also benefit from improved self-esteem because you will feel in control of your life rather than letting your life control you."

Bring on the sports season and get in control of your life.

Diane Johnson is a mother of five boys. When not burning through gas and slow cookers she can be found volunteering in her children's schools.



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