Everything athletes do - from training, to sleeping, to what they are putting in their body - are all small, important pieces to a much bigger puzzle. One vital piece is nutrition and with this month's Trigger Focus being Nutrient Density, I figured I'd address an important question: "Are all calories created equally?" The simple answer is, of course, no. To explain why, I did a comparison case study on what 3,000 calories looks like: healthy, nutrient-dense foods vs. a beloved fast food chain that starts with a 'W' and ends with 'hataburger.'
“ Don’t talk to me about recovery when you're living out of a fast food window .”
I can still hear my collegiate strength coach telling me this as though it was yesterday. He was right, my nutrition habits were trash; I was so used to eating whatever I wanted because I was young, so I thought my body could handle it. I can probably count on one hand how many of us even knew the term ‘nutrient density’ let alone what it meant. So today we are going to EQUIP you with this knowledge.
Simply stated, nutrient density means how many nutrients you get from a food, given the number of calories it contains. A.K.A getting the “biggest bang for your buck”. Why is nutrient density so helpful? Because it gives you concentrated amounts of valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients , to name a few. Adequate consumption of foods high in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals is essential for a healthy immune system and for empowering your body’s detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms. This helps protect you from cancer and other diseases. Nutrient-dense foods also provide necessary micronutrients - which are highly overlooked - that are important co-factors in reactions that produce growth, repair tissues, and increase oxygen transport. Being deficient in this will negatively affect performance and could keep you from reaching your athletic potential.
Now let me show you the difference. 3,000 calories at Whataburger looks something like this:
People typically dedicate themselves to a goal or purpose they feel adds meaning to their lives. How dedicated are you to your daily schedule? Your family? Sports? It all depends on what is most important to you. What is going to help you be the best version of yourself in everyday life? What is your ‘why’ ?
Sports have always been a very big part of my life. In high school, my passion for baseball grew and I realized I wanted to be around the game every day. I started to love the game more than anything because it had taught me more life lessons than I ever could have imagined. Over the years, I’ve noticed people who don’t have motivation typically find themselves in dark holes and tend to have a hard time getting out. They have not found anything they can dedicate their lives to. They haven’t found their ‘why’.
Being an athlete is a privilege. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the skill or money necessary to play sports. I believe it’s important to be dedicated to any sport you’re fortunate enough to play. When athletes come to DST, they aren’t just working out. They are striving to make themselves a little bit better every day . Our goal is to help every athlete who walks through the door - whether they are a professional, high school, or youth athlete - leave knowing they have improved in some way.
If sports have taught me anything, it’s that you have to be willing to work your tail off because there is someone out there who is working just as hard (if not harder) to achieve the same goals. That’s why our team is dedicated to helping each athlete maximize their potential to achieve - or even surpass - their goals. Without that dedication to our athletes, we’d just be another gym.
Find your ‘why’ and use it as fuel to get where you want to go. There aren’t any success stories about athletes who gave a 50% effort and made it to the top. Those stories are reserved for those who have dedicated their lives to living out their dreams. Whatever your dream may be, you’ll need a healthy dose of dedication to help you get there. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Proper scapular and rotator cuff stability can help guard against injuries while also provide a strong foundation to build a strengthened press or pull. Good balance and proper activation of the scapular muscles will result in proper scapular motion during vertical or horizontal movements. Scapular mechanics enable the rotator cuff muscles to contract close to their ideal length so they can effectively stabilize the glenohumeral joint with maximal force.
This exercise is working to gain optimal scapular upward rotation. It can be used as an axillary exercise or as part of a post-throwing arm recovery routine. The bottoms-up kettle bell carry teaches the athlete to relax the latissimus dorsi (lats), while firing up the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers with movement in the frontal and saggital planes.
This exercise is beneficial to any athlete whose sport is specifically overhead dominant.
What do you think of when you think of stress? Paying the monthly bills, final exams coming up, getting that job you wanted? These are all forms of stress that can have a profound impact on our lives.
The human body does not know the difference between physical, mental, or emotional stress . All the body wants is homeostasis and that is the sole focus of the responses your body experiences.
When you're stressing out because you're on a crowded highway and late for work, your body is being flooded with different hormones like adrenaline and cortisol . While this response is not abnormal, it is not ideal to be in this state for a long time, as heart rate and blood pressure will increase while immune function will decrease. Overall health will plummet if too much time is spent in this state, so this kind of stress is not optimal for our health.
Is all stress created equal? Well, kind of. The human body does not care if you are stressed about an upcoming test or because you performed physical work. The response will be the same: get back to homeostasis .