Back in May, I started a nutritional and cardio regimen to lose the large amount of weight I had put on during the past 10 or 12 years. I have since added a workout program.
I contacted The Omni Club in Evans and discussed a plan to work out with a personal trainer to aid in the weight loss and to firm up as much as possible.
That call was not an easy one. It is sort of like the adage about men not wanting to stop to ask for directions. I never really thought I needed a trainer. I was a college athlete. I knew how to eat properly, and I was fairly knowledgeable about weightlifting and conditioning. I had simply been too lazy to put forth the effort.
Well, the decision to call The Omni Club is one of the best I have ever made. I was told that I should talk to "Big Mike." I learned later that "Big Mike" was Redding, Calif., native Mike Montarvo. In just a few short weeks with Mike, I have greatly increased my stamina and energy level and can already see my flabby body firming up.
Montarvo's approach is one with which I was completely unfamiliar. I had always thought of working out as doing bench presses and squats and running laps. That method is OK, but it can get old very quickly.
Montarvo has put together a high-intensity workout for me that incorporates an incredible variety of fresh exercises, ranging from a three-stage medicine ball circuit (that is brutal, but in a good way) to a kickboxing workout. He has put me through a different set of drills every workout. This has really helped break the monotony of simply pushing weights around.
It was Big Mike's unique workouts and conversations we had about losing weight and getting fit that gave me the idea to do a series with him regarding health and fitness. In my next three columns, we will break down some key training information about nutrition, stretching, plymetrics and strength training.
This information is geared toward the high school or college athlete, so the information might not fit your situation. But keep in mind, Montarvo, and the rest of the trainers at The Omni Club, can put a regimen together that suits your needs, too.
A little about "Big Mike:"
- He has a bachelor's degree in sports medicine from Fresno State University.
- He has a master's degree in kinesiology from Augusta State University.
- He was a graduate assistant athletic trainer at ASU while getting his master's degree.
- He has worked with top athletes including quarterback David Carr and former NFL linebacker Orlando Huff (Seattle and Arizona). He also worked with NBA first-round picks Courtney Alexander and Melvin Ely.
Part 1 -- Nutrition
Protein only is a no-no
We have all heard about no-carb diets. Well, for athletes, this is a terrible idea. Whether an athlete is trying to lose weight or gain muscle, an all-protein diet is not the way to go.
Instead, athletes should have a balanced diet that includes about 60 to 65 percent proteins, 20 to 25 percent carbohydrates, and the remainder (approximately 10 percent) should be fats.
Also, you should never skip meals. Ideally, athletes should eat five to six times each day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and a couple of healthy snacks), incorporating the same percentages in each meal. Portions are important, but an offensive lineman in football will eat more than a tennis star. Just remember to eat the proper number of meals and be reasonable on portion size.
Athletes in high-intensity sports, such as cross country, should make sure to get in plenty of complex carbohydrates, especially a couple of days before events. Whole-grain rice, green leafy vegetables and potatoes are rich in complex carbs. To keep your body running like a finely tuned engine, you have to give it plenty of fuel, and for the athlete, complex carbs are a must.
I can't stress enough the importance of proper hydration. This is even a bigger issue for athletes in our area because of the extreme heat and humidity. During a workout, the body sweats to cool itself down. You must replenish those fluids. While sports drinks are marketed to the athlete, they are loaded with sugars and sodium. Your best bet is plain water.
If you are quite thirsty and your mouth is dry, you are not on the way to dehydration -- you are dehydrated. This brings in problems such as heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. This is very dangerous this time of year with high school football players. Coaches should make sure to get in water breaks every 10 to 12 minutes. Waiting until mid-practice, or even 30 minutes, is too long for athletes to go without water in our oppressive heat.
Many high-level athletes turn to supplements to help get bigger, faster and stronger. While there are some supplements on the market that have value, athletes must be cautious.
For instance, creatine is popular because of its ability to relieve muscle soreness, allowing athletes to work out harder and longer. However, creatine uses water, which means athletes using creatine must take in lots of extra water to use it properly.
Become as knowledgeable as possible about anything you are putting in your body; consulting a professional before using supplements is your best bet.
Body fat percentage
For athletes, it is important to keep your body fat percentage at a healthy level. Male athletes will have a lower body fat percentage than females. Therefore, female athletes, especially, cannot get caught up with their body fat or body image.
A high-level swimmer, for example, despite being extremely healthy, will have a larger upper body and fat percentage than cheerleaders, in most cases. That swimmer needs to realize that, in the sport she has chosen, body types might be larger than the average woman, but it is certainly not a sign of poor health. Eating disorders are prevalent among young female athletes.
Staying educated about your body can help you avoid these dangerous pitfalls.
Food and drinks
Montarvo recommends that athletes stay away from fast foods and sugary drinks. However, in the event you cannot do without a soda, limit yourself to no more than one in a single day. Also, be aware that diet drinks are not necessarily good for you. In terms of fast food, be smart. There are items at most fast food restaurants that will fit into a healthy eating plan, but burgers are not usually in that category.
Rather than heading out for your favorite fast food burger, go to the grocery store, buy some ground beef (the leaner, the better) and grill your burger at home. Another good example is pasta. Next time you crave spaghetti, go buy some whole wheat pasta, lean ground beef and Healthy Choice marinara sauce. You probably won't even be able to tell the difference.
Once again, keep in mind that, even though some of this information is great for everyone to follow, the nutrition and workout information in this series is geared toward athletes. However, the trainers at Omni can come up with a healthy game plan for anyone.
Now, all you athletes out there, make sure to put the proper fuel in your body to keep your engine running all day long.
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