I have been asked to “diet” people into shape and write them a mealplan…forget it!
Parents ask me what their athlete-kids should eat in order to become No.1 or to prevent injury.
I treated athletes trying to change division, or ones that had to loose some pounds to perform better. Have You tried to diet?… I mean just writing this makes me cringe. It doesn’t work!
In order to perform on the level You want. You need to do a lot of things right – especially prioritize . You have to act correct, sleep correct, eat correct over and over. Change takes time and Your Bodycells will adapt over time, Yes only over time. If You train and reduce Your caloric intake, You have to adapt Your training just as if You would cut down on sleep. As said before You can’t outtrain a poor eating habits or insufficient sleep. I don’t care what Your goal is – loosing weight, gaining muscle, metabolic increase…the truth is, there is no quick fix, no shortcut. But let’s get this right. I am not trying to start one of those spectacular, motivational posts – in fact I want to talk about something totally unspectacular…
…the hardest part in Nutrition – something called Consistency !
Consistency is not reached within a timeperiod or cycle – it is something You do on a daily and hourly basis. Therefore You need to make it a habit. Now, that is in the least spectacular.
So what should You do?
Whatever “Plan” You are following, stick to it, patiently and persistently – for how long? For very long!
No cheatdays! Instead have a “cheatmeal” once a while – but then go back to eating “clean”
Don’t diet, it’s a trap – A diet binds You to “Jojo” back, that’s what it is supposed to do.
So don’t diet, go slow on change and let Your body adapt to what you are offering as nutrition. Just as one beer on one evening in one week doesn’t ruin Your whole Nutritionplan, one piece of Broccoli doesn’t detox or change Your poor eatinghabits. And here is the hard part for most of us. The mental meltdown –
“S…t Yesterday I blew it totally! oh well then I might as well “goof” for the rest of the weekend and restart on Monday.”
Don’t restart! Just keep going, as if nothing happened. Tick off Your guilt, Your bad feelings and focus back on track. That is what is hard about it. Keep going patiently and persistently. After You failed yourself.
Diet’s don’t work. Changing Your life does.
But we all know that is a whole different topic…
We all know the situation, be it in sports, in Your job, in relationships, in sickness, even in raising kids. “We want out”. We want something to change “NOW”.
Let me give You some more examples so You can identify better with it. As always of course let’s pick sports.
You are playing one of those nasty opponents, that have no real weapon or means at all except that they keep bringing that ball back at You again, over and over. You try this, You try that, it keeps coming back until You Yourself make the mistake because You want too much, You’re going for “the winner” …and blow it. You could also be practicing a new technique and keep failing at it over and over again. You could be knocked out, fumble the entire play you had planned, you could fall by grabbing the wrong grip, or fall or trip – and Your first thought is…Man I actually know what to do. What I should do, I just couldn’t. “I wanted out” “I just wanted it to stop”, “I wanted to finish him”…in short, You feel to be “in the ropes” a defenisve situation and change it, abrakadabra.
In many of these cases the problem lies firstly in the mindset and next in Your bodys capablity to process oxygen. Because, that’s what Your muscles are build to do in the first place, metabolise oxygen. I don’t care whether You’re a weightlifter or marathonrunner, Your muscles will metabolise oxygen, first and always. So in order to keep going You need oxidative metabolism. In physiology we call this aerobic capacity ( You may have heard of it ). This is a highly underestimated fundament of keeping a clear mind and being resilient. Why?
- In Order to withstand pressure You need a clear mind – and what is the minds most important nutrient? Exactly oxygen
- In order to perform difficult movements You need Your nervous system. This consumes up to 20% of Your arterial bloodflow when highly activated – And what is travelling with this bloodstream? Correct, again oxygen
- Henneman’s law tells us that we will firstly recruit our slow twitched fibres no matter how fast we are moving – slow twitched fibres are? Yes oxidative fibres
The only one not needing oxygen is Your heart. But the better Your aerobic capacity, the higher Your Hearstroke-Volume, so one stroke alone provides lots of cells with the oxygen needed and decreases adrenalin while doing so. So a low heartrate is not only healthy but also allows You to “keep calm” and not adrenalize Your situation. Another reason why athletes ( especially offseason) should do some excessive Cardiowork in high volumes.
As for the mindset let me share this story.
Just recently I learned a great lesson from an inspiring athlete and it humbled me for resilience as a friend of cardio even more. I got into a situation that was new for me, a grappling situation and… I s…ck at this. However I was struggling for “the upper hand”. Imagine being in a chokehold and Your opponent keeps locking You back into it over and over – I got fed up. So I decided to do something about it and “get out of here” and blew it. I sacrificed a big possibility to cause change in this struggle beacause I wanted something to happen immediately. To be honest I actually even needed it to happen now because I was gasing out ;-P. Of course I didn’t realize, that my being uncomfortable was not only inflicted by “the opponent” but by my own body, a lack of oxygen choked me even more and the spiral started…
This happens to all of us, the chokeholds of (sports-)life get you into these situations.
So what can we do?
We’ll firstly do cardio, may it be a walk. Or go hiking, or swimming or whatever it is you enjoy. Do this in advance to prepare for “the chokehold” situation. Breathe and metabolise oxygen. And for the mindset? Try to stay where You’re at. Focuse on here and now, not on later or on if I do this, it will lead to that…be resilient, stay in it, keep bringing the ball back as well, don’t do more. Don’t run faster just catch and go. Don’t attack stay with him.
As for me…
I will try to observe how my breathing is going, and also feel where I am most uncomfortable and follow it, make it my beacon, because I believe instead of turning away I will find a way to stick with it. And maybe that’s the way out…? I’ll let You know.
Or how everybody sees why You get where You are – but still don’t know how.
In my generation one of the male “Silverscreen”-Heroes is Jean-Claude van Damme who starred in a martial arts movie called “Bloodsport”.
After this movie many actionmovies and lot’s of Sportsmovies followed the same concept of telling the story: Some inevitable trouble gets the star of the show to go through a painful time or traumatic incident. To overcome the “trauma” she or he decides to become an expert in his “art”. We whitness him or her experiencing “the moment that changed everything” and see how he picks up training or studying. A fast forward 1 – 4 minute part that is scripted in a ” Outtake” manner, shows the star failing at what soon will be mastered. A musical score undermining the evolution of the novice becoming a master with an epic crescendo in the end, showing the final “product” formed by blood,sweat and tears. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnYDrs2ykcI )
Referring to the movie Bloodsport, van Dammes Mentor is “Mr. Tanaka” We will not see much of him in the movie and foremost not learn what makes his way of teaching and his technique so special in detail. Tanaka is needed to explain WHY the hero get’s to be the best. But HOW DID HE DO IT?
I decided to dedicate this Post to the small footsteps a hero makes without anyone noticing. The Part that is not in the movie. I call this unnoticed progress “the Tanaka-phenomenon”
Now You see, in our job as Therapists we rarely whitness “The Changing Moment” and sometimes are present when our Athletes meet “Victory”. What we whitness is the time inbetween. It is exaclty THAT time that movies fast forward and only show the milestones completed. Then these milestones are what we like to consume as our “motivational espresso”. But the real fascinating part is working on the tiny little aspects of Your art. Developing a sense of perfection for one little aspect of a big kinetic chain or motion.
Like hitting a perfect forehand, executing a perfect triplejump, the perfect Roundhousekick, a fastball, easy and fluid slamdunk, or the perfect breaststroke in swimming…whatever sport You do, this is how You master the movement. Repeating this with the next part of Your movement leads to an economization of motion in Your Body.
This will save lot’s of energy, concentration and increase capacity of repetition…it is a very good path to hit the “Dim Mak”.
So from today – CELEBRATE TODAYS tiny twists, bends and micromovements, that you improved – these are the true ACHIEVEMENTS !
In the last couple of weeks I have been asked a lot about supplementation again. What do I think of it? How and what should You supplement? Are BCAAs better ? Should I go for Whey Protein? Is Arginine Nephrotoxic?
You see the Problem is, It’s an industry and as long as they can get You confused, they sell to You. This applies for a broad sector of adolescent athletes and ambitioned athletes. No doubt, supplements have their place in high performance sports and are helpful. And no the majority of products are not dangerous.
“So it can’t hurt taking it, right?” Sadly the answer is, YES it can. I am not speaking about contaminated products. We see a lot of athletes trying to supplement for a missing necessity. This kills Your foundation for performance. What does that mean?
I see people missing lunch because they finished an “important” email. They try to compensate this with a proteinshake. We hear people say, that their schedules are to packed for meals and snacks, or that prepping their meals the day before is to much of a hassle.
These people have a priorityproblem not a supplementationproblem.
You can’t supplement for a poor choice in priority.
Don’t try to change “THE WHOLE” by supplementing “PARTS” to recalculate Your “SUM”.
So, before You bother spending money on supplements, take Your time to sit down with a pen and Paper a calender and a watch. Make a mealplan using the simplest of rules that You picked up in gradeschool. I don’t need to tell You that Broccoli is better for You than Potatochips. That’s gradeschoolknowledge. Forget about fibrous carbs vs. complex carbs. Forget about the chemical concept of different diets. Now believe it or not and yes I am writing this here, yes me – Mr.Scientificalizeverything
DON’T OVERANALYSE YOUR DIETPLAN !
For the beginning just stick to:
3 healthy meals a day ( Don’t bother if You start with Omelette or Oats, just no cornflakes or Toast or stuff )
2 Snacks a day ( Snack in the sense of Banana or Carrot…)
Drink enough water
Sleep a lot
REPEAT 90 times and see what happens, oh and NO Cheatdays!
I assure You, You will feel good, perform good and You will look different. No magic supplement needed. The Supplement is not a necessary thing. Your ” whole” diet, over the years is! It’s Your foundation, Don’t miss this, this can’t be supplemented.
If You finish this cycle successfully, then we can talk diets and Your Bloodscreening.
“Movements are only as good as the sensory impressions that govern them!”
Parents of young Athletes, Coaches and Athletes often ask me the same questions: ” How much is enough? How stressable is she/he? How far should I go? Was it too much? How many reps?…
The Answer is simple. All You need to be is disciplined and diligent to answer it. Before You get all involved in biochemics, performance physiology and sportsscience there is one simple rule to follow. “Watch for signs of fatigue…” “What that means is 2 out of 5…” “Do You know our simple 5 step cycle of fatigue?
- muscle fatigue – leads to…
- constrained coordination – leads to…
- increased concentration – drops and leads to…
- lack of sensory impressions ( from periphery ) – leads to…
- loss of motivation
These are 5 Basic things to look out for when You are coachen or training.
Imagine You are running. After a certain time you feel your legs tighten up or getting heavy, without getting to much into the biochemistry of what exactly is happening, we all agree- Your muscle is getting tired ( 1.). If you watch closely You will find, that coordinating Your steps and pace now becomes somewhat more concious, meaning you have to coordinate conciousely because your muscles don’t respond as automatically as they did some time ago (2.).Your coordination weakens. To compensate, You increase Your focus and switch to a higher level of concentration. You might say “fine”…Yeah but do You have unlimited concentration ( 3.)? Of course not. Even when driving long distance with Your car or writing an exam you can feel getting tired. But back to our example, Your muscle gets tired, Your coordination becomes weaker, Your Concentration to control first increases, then wears off. Thus an additional load of neurological “traffic” occurs in Your brain and nervous system, some of it overlaying or later even overwriting feedback-information of Your limbs – You are starting to have a decreased sensory impression or input. So now You even get little or poor information from the bodyparts working. That makes controlling Your movements even harder because You are playing the ” fill in the gap game” with Your Motorcortex.
The result is loss of control –
Now imagine this for Your sport? Tennis, Figureskating, Martial Arts, Football, Racing…
If running becomes hard, try controlling a ball, a skate or an opponent on top of it…?
Coaches – are You sure You want to pre-tire Your Athlete so she can really feel what it means to play a hard opponent and after that You finish the lesson with some Serves?
Do You really want to go through a hard workout and in the end do techniquecorrections or things that need concentration?
All this often leads to number 5 – Your Athlete or Yourself throwing in the towel. Getting frustrated repeating the same mistake over and over, beware this motivational loss is only the symptom of a massive problem beneath it. You are training or coaching your motorcortex how NOT to do it, instead HOW to do it…You are giving yourself a lesson in negativity and failure.
This cascade of fatigue is unstoppable, merely because the weariness of one of the 5 automatically will lead to a higher load and earlier fatigue of the other. So watch out for the mighty 5 and if you reach 2 out of 5, it’s time to STOP doing what you are doing. This even is a perfect tool for governance of Your training to find out if there is a muscledeficite, coordinationdefecite or a concentrationproblem? Which tires earlier? Then start working on this isolated.
Else it is time for REST…oh and that is whole other chapter
A lot of the athletes we treat are running around and posting all kinds of great and motivational quotes and pictures. It has become easy to identify with certain “Heros” of Your sport through the internet.
Lately I see more parents posting them too. I hear coaches quoting them.
You all are forgetting one thing.
“There is no JUST…in JUST DO IT…” (S.Godin) Lot’s of people in our industy claim, that all You need to do is put on the shoes, buy the racquet, jump, sprint and WIN. While quoting and posting all of this, people forget that it takes way more than motivation for the start and the finish – NOBODY TALKS THE TIME “INBETWEEN”. What I mean by that is:
We need to paraphrase our “Just do it” and ask:
Just do …- What exactly?
Just do it – when exactly?
Just do it – why exactly?
Just do it – how exactly?
This is what coaching is about, this is what makes leading and guiding athletes so difficult. Especially young, adolescent athletes AND their parents.
MAKING THE PLAN
Over hundreds, maybe thousands of years people have been trying to figure out how to improve performance. And all of them come to the conclusion, that planning and monitoring are the 2 essential tools to guiding the athlete or adept. There are scientific basics to every sport and how to train it. But, You need to do more! Sit down before YOU “Just do…”- anything. Think about WHAT is necessary in order to take the next step. Plan WHEN will this step be reached ? And question, when does it make sense? Sit down and search yourself WHY exactly this step or this method is the one You choose? Perhaps You are only following Your “best practice” method…? Sit down and think about HOW exactly will You teach, the WHAT, WHEN and WHY…and Dear Coaches and Parents – the method is not being choosen by Your experience or what “somebody said”, ADAPT to your athletes demands. Because not everybody is the same!
It seems common sense but it’s not. Search Yourself and be honest, how often do you switch schedules, plans and coaches, because you react to a temporary phase or mood?
At BB UYP we even see parents that try to tell us, that there are sports in which planning and monitoring is impossible. I like to tell this to topathletes of these disciplines when I meet them. Usually I receive a very loud and profund laughter with the response, that planning and monitoring in this sport is the most important thing at all. Right, because it is so complicated and influenced by so many distractions in their sport. And with every year that athletes and their entourage grow into the age where they need to start planning and scheduling, I see families and coaches stating that they will be the first to prove that it is unnecessary or impossible in this sport…well, it’s been 16 Years and I am still waiting for someone to prove it. Meanwhile I see young careers turning to dust, burnt out coaches, fed up parents, entwined families, coachhoppers…I’m sure You’ve seen it too. But just a paragraph ago it all seemed like common sense, right?
Coaches and Parents if You don’t plan midterm and longterm, if You don’t monitor Your kids and athletes regardless of the sports. You will fail, Your children will learn to fail instead to win, You and them will feel overchallenged and helpless. You will create chaos and this will reflect on you. Coaches will first be known as “unorganized” later as “unable” or even as “Bad”. Parents, after hopping,switching and following all the “really good coaches” and GURUS there are, You will probably even injure Your Kids. Of course not intentionally.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Plan early, monitor a lot, think long and strong and stick to it period. This is the part we need powerful “oneliners” and quotes for. We don’t need to praise the feeling of victory. We need to celebrate the journey and accept what it demands us to do. Unlock Your potential is not the quality of getting back up quickly when you fall – it’s staying down- for as long as you need to…until it’s time to get back up.
But that better be planned well…
A couple of moths ago my old friend and former coach Alexander König asked me if I would join him on his “International Summercamp”. Alex handles these things great. His inspiring way of teaching and his technique are very unique. We both come from politically different backgrounds ( me the american living in germany, him from the former GDR and the soviet system ), probably it is this mixture that lets us team up and have such a great time
The Idea: bring together Young, dedicated athletes, from different backgrounds to learn, motivate and share with one another
So there we where, the Sportsphysio from Stuttgart (Me) and the Coach from Oberstdorf (Alex ), our athletes –
from Belgium, Slowenia, America, Germany and Finnland all off to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to eat, train and live under one roof for 2 weeks…
Our schedule: 6 hrs of Training per day
Me – Athletics and Physio ( created a special programme for a microcycletraining – will post this here soon )
Alex – Ice and Methodical exercises ( will be posted soon )
In addition we had special skating hours in which Alex coached and I took a look at the biomechanics to find out if the skater
had a biomechanical problem…a very specific and detailed analysis, it brought great progress.
The Girls and Ruben lifting the “Kitchen-Chef”