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This blog was written by dietitian Judy Mitnick, MS, RD, CDE, CSSD.

Let’s face it: we live in a fast-paced, stressed-out world.  Some stress is vital to being a productive member of society.  We all need goals and deadlines, but excessive stress over time leads to anxiety, illness and hurts us in our efforts to improve our health.

In fact, overeating and/or eating unhealthy foods are two of the top reported habits Americans note as a result of stress. All of these extra calories are sure to lead to weight gain.  Additionally, the stress itself produces changes in the body’s hormonal balance, leading to hormone-induced cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods (comfort foods) and the storage of fat, particularly abdominal fat. It can become a viscous cycle!

While we can’t eliminate all of the stress that faces us every day, we can plan ahead to address many of the stressors that can literally make us sick and tired.  Experts talk about the four A’s of stress management:  Avoid, Alter, Adapt, or Accept. Every situation may warrant a different management strategy (one of the “A’s”).

One example:  If getting to work on time is always stressful due to traffic, altering the route or leaving earlier can reduce this stress. Similar strategies can be used to directly address the overeating that can result from stress.  Some examples include:

  • Regular eating during the day:  A stressful day followed by a traffic filled ride home is a recipe for “pigging out” as soon one walks in the door from work.  Bringing food for lunch as well as a late afternoon snack containing some protein can at least take hunger out of this equation.  Good snacks include a yogurt, a small container of Hummus and raw carrots, or a piece of fruit and a string cheese stick.
  • “Decompressing” before entering the kitchen! :  By making a habit of taking at least 15 to 20 minutes to “switch gears” from work to home mode, one is less likely to inhale food as a way to calm down.  As above, this is easier to accomplish if that snack with protein was consumed close to quitting time.  This gear switching might be accomplished by changing into comfortable clothes, taking a bath, or even going for a short walk outside.  A more relaxed (and not starving) person is much more likely to make healthier food choices and eat reasonable portions than one who is famished and fried!
  • Practicing mindful eating and adding some accountability to eating: So many of us tend to “check out” when we are eating, especially if we are eating in response to stress or after a stressful day.  Keeping a food journal or using a phone app to record what is eaten ( right as it is eaten or right after), pulls us back into the moment and refocuses us to what we are about to eat.

Stress is a part of life that isn’t likely to ever completely go away.  Managing overall stress and awareness of our eating responses to stress can help minimize the negative effects on our health and our waistlines!

Alex KThis blog was written by Alex Kenefic, Registered Dietitian, at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy and Sports Performance.

You need to eat well to fuel your top performances in races. Try out these tips to do your best at any distance:

For all exercise

High intensity, short duration athletes have different nutrition needs from endurance athletes.  General healthy nutrition, however, is important for both.  You need to eat enough calories from high quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will ensure healthy training and top performance as well as proper repair and replenishing after exercise.

Hydration is essential to all types of exercise as well.  Dehydration decreases muscle strength, power, and endurance.  During training, weigh yourself before and after a run so you can replenish 24oz of fluid for each pound lost.  Having sips of a sports drink every 15-20 minutes during activity will also help prevent hyponatremia, or overhydration.

1 mile, 5K, and 10K

Carb loading is unnecessary for exercise less than 45 minutes.  Eating a small carbohydrate snack can help for a 45-90 minute workout and is most helpful for exercise that is 90 minutes or longer.  This snack could be fruit, a granola bar, whole wheat crackers, or dry cereal.

Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Ultra-Endurance Races

Long-race athletes have higher carbohydrate requirements before, during, and after exercise.  An average male marathoner consumes 8 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day. This would equal 654 grams of carbohydrate spread out during the day for a 180 pound (81 kilogram) person.

Choosing quick and easy carbohydrates will make eating this large amount more tolerable.  Choose compact, low-fiber forms particularly on race day such as pasta, white rice, sports bars/gels, and high carbohydrate drinks (juice, chocolate milk, smoothies).  Avoid high fiber foods like beans, whole grains, and produce on race day to prevent gastrointestinal problems.

Carb loading three days before a race can be an effective way to store more available energy in the form of glycogen in muscles and liver.  Glycogen is stored with water, so don’t be alarmed if you feel stiff or heavy during this time. The feeling usually goes away with exercise.

Protein needs are increased as well during high intensity and high duration training, particularly after exercise for muscle repair and growth.  Choose lean proteins such as deli chicken or turkey, Greek yogurt, tuna, eggs, or low fat cheese.

Experiment with different food combinations and timing of meals during training.  Do not try anything new on race day.  Every athlete is different; find what works or your body and your activity.

+ Get a personalized nutrition plan from one of our registered dietitians! 

Ricasa Jocelyn MD portraitThis blog was written by Jocelyn Ricasa, MD, sports medicine physician at Bon Secours Medical Associates.

You have been happily hitting your stride and then it seems like with every step, your stride has started to hit you back on the outside of your knee! What causes that pain?  It might just be a four-letter diagnosis that all runners hate to hear: ITBS, or Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

The iliotibial band is a strip of non-flexible tissue that starts from a muscle on the outside of the hip, runs down the outside of the thigh, past the end of the femur (thigh bone), past the outside of the knee, and finally inserts on your tibia (shin bone)  just below the knee.  Yes, it is a really long strip of tissue!   As the knee bends and straightens, the IT band slides back and forth over the bony prominence on the outside of the end of the femur.

The main symptom of ITBS is pain on the outside of the knee, which stems from the friction of the IT band snapping back and forth. Runners also hate the word “friction!”

How do you fix it?  Start with the usual four-letter treatment:  RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).  Scale back on the training, and seek professional help sooner rather than later, so it doesn’t hold you back.

How do you prevent it?  Train smart. Run on level surfaces (watch those banked roads!), alternate which way you run around the high school track, augment your running regimen with cross-training, and get professional help when choosing your footwear.  Happy IT bands = happy runners!

Woman jogging by lakeExercising and playing team sports as a teenager can have long-lasting benefits for women, a new study shows.

In fact, exercising during adolescence may even reduce the risk of dying from cancer and other causes later in life.

A large study, which included about 75,000 women in China, has found that women who exercised up to 80 minutes weekly as adolescents had a 16 percent lower risk of death from cancer and a 15 percent lower risk of dying from any causes.

Exercising for 1.3 hours a week had a positive impact, according to the study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Even greater benefits were seen for women who continued to exercise as adults — they enjoyed a 20 percent lower risk for death from all causes.

“Our results support the importance of promoting exercise participation in adolescence to reduce mortality in later life and highlight the critical need for the initiation of disease prevention early in life,” said Sarah J. Nechuta, MPH, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Although the study shows an association between exercise and a lower risk for death, it does not prove that exercising leads to lower mortality, researchers said. Further studies are needed.

The research adds to an ever-growing list of potential benefits for exercise. Not only can playing sports help children build their confidence and improve their self esteem, but exercise may also improve school performance and help teens maintain a healthy weight.

Nechuta noted that “understanding the long-term impact of modifiable lifestyle factors such as exercise in adolescence is of critical importance and can have substantial public health implications for disease prevention over the course of life.”

Source: American Association for Cancer Research

+ Does your child need help with exercise and nutrition? At Bon Secours In Motion, we offer a youth fitness program to help children learn about choosing healthy foods and how to make exercise fun.

Although eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to a person’s diet, reduces their risk for disease and helps manage body weight, very few American adults are including them at mealtime.

In fact, only one in 10 American adults actually eats the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, according to a report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal researchers interviewed hundreds of thousands of Americans in a 2013 telephone survey to collect the data.

FAN9007030Health authorities say the problems vary across the country with some states faring betters than others. Virginia matched the dismal national averages with 13 percent of adults meeting the fruit recommendations and only 9 percent eating enough vegetables daily. Californians reported eating the most fruits (18 percent met the guidelines) and vegetables (13 percent).

The findings come at a time when doctors and Registered Dietitians have been urging people to replace salty, fatty and sugary foods with fruits and vegetables – much healthier choices.

How much fruit and vegetables each person needs per day depends on their age, gender and level of physical activity. A good rule of thumb is to make half your plate – at every meal – fruits and vegetables.

The problem could be addressed by promoting fruits and vegetables in grocery stores and restaurants and making them more accessible in community settings and at work, federal health officials wrote in their report.

“For example, work sites can make it easier for employees to make healthy food choices and create social norms that support healthy eating by creating policies to ensure that fruits and vegetables are provided at work-site gatherings, including meetings, conferences and other events,” the report states.

It’s not just adults who aren’t eating enough fresh and non-processed foods – 60 percent of children ate less fruits than recommended and 93 percent consumed fewer vegetables than recommended.

Instilling better eating habits earlier in life might lead to better practices later in life, federal authorities wrote. Places where children learn and play can have a strong role in improving their diet.

“School districts, schools, and early care and education providers can help increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption by meeting or exceeding current federal nutrition standards for meals and snacks, serving fruit and vegetables whenever food is offered and training staff to make fruit and vegetables more appealing and accessible,” the report recommends.

Adding fruits and veggies to your diet only takes a few minutes of planning. Consider these tips from the CDC:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Grab fresh or dried fruit to eat on the go. Bananas make an easy portable fruit.
  • Bring cut-up vegetables or fruit from home when you will need a snack somewhere.
  • Add fruits and vegetables to your favorite snack or recipe. Parents can often “hide” vegetables by adding pureed ones to muffins or casserole dishes.
  • Always serve fruit and vegetables to party guests.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report July 2015

+ Learn how to choose healthier foods for better nutrition and weight loss through the Nutritional Analysis program at Bon Secours In Motion.

+ Does a child in your life need help losing weight and making better food choices? The Youth and Fitness program at Bon Secours Sports Performance specializes in helping children of all ages improve their health through physical activity and nutrition.

Woman jogging by lakeBy: Erin Ludwig, MS, ATC, VAT/L, Supervisor of Athletic Training Services, Bon Secours Sports Medicine

With the summer months upon us, whether you’re running, playing a pickup game of basketball or going for a power walk, make sure you take care of  your body when the temperatures rise.

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. When exercising in the heat, you can potentially risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate.

If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin, pushing your body temperature even higher. In addition to circulating the blood throughout the body to cool itself, your body also uses fluids (sweat) to cool itself, causing an increase in need for fluid intake during these times.  If a person is unable to meet the fluid needs of the body, a heat illness can occur.

Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated. Heat illnesses include:

  • Heat rash – a skin irritation caused by heat
  • Heat cramps – painful muscle contractions that cause the affected muscles to feel firm to the touch
  • Heat syncope – a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting caused by high temperatures, often occurring after standing for a long period of time or standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time
  • Heat Exhaustion – medical condition characterized by sweaty, clammy skin, weakness, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, headache, fatigue, and irritability
  • Heat Stroke – medical emergency characterized by hot, dry skin, temperature over 105, rapid pulse, unconsciousness, disorientation, headache, fatigue, and irritability


If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition. If your symptoms do not improve within 30 minutes, seek medical attention.

By taking some basic precautions, your exercise routine doesn’t have to be sidelined when the heat is on. Below are some tips on how to avoid heat related illnesses.

  • Know your fitness level.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – water and sports drinks are your best choices. Increase your fluid intake before, during and after exercise and take frequent water breaks. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Avoid sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, and caffeine.
  • Watch the temperature and adjust your activity accordingly.
  • Get acclimated – if you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat and gradually increase the length and intensity of your outdoor exercise.
  • Dress appropriately – lightweight, loose-fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler.

Girl eating lunchFamilies need to take simple steps to help their children eat nutritious foods and become more active.

The advice is part of the new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which aim to give practical steps to families to help children maintain a healthy weight. They also offer guidance on how to include healthy habits into daily life such as eating a well-balanced diet, increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors.

“It is never too early for a family to make changes that will help a child keep or achieve a healthy weight,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP and co-author of the report. “Families can improve their eating habits in a variety of ways, but it is important for healthy eating and physical activity to be tailored to the child’s developmental stage and family characteristics.”

The recommendations comes as childhood obesity is now recognized as a public health priority. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years, according to statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

To help children, the AAP encourages parents and families to model healthy behaviors. Families can take simple steps to eat healthier. Changing the food parents bring into the home – and how they store and serve it — can help children make healthful choices. The AAP recommends:

  • Buy fewer sugar-sweetened drinks, high-calorie snacks and sweets.
  • If you plan to serve these types of foods at a special celebration, buy them shortly before the event, and remove them immediately afterward.
  • Keep healthy food in plain sight. Bring back the fruit bowl. Water, fruits, vegetables and other low-calorie snacks should be readily available and on the kitchen table or counter, or in the front of the shelf in the refrigerator.
  • Keep high-calorie foods be less visible. Wrap them in foil rather than clear wrap, and place in the back of the fridge or pantry.
  • Encourage children to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

The AAP also recommends cutting back how often and how long children watch TV. One way to achieve this is to have fewer TV sets in the home and to remove the TV and other media from the bedroom and the kitchen. 

Sleeping enough every night is also critical. Children who sleep less than 9 hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese; focusing on bedtime, and understanding how much sleep children need at various ages can help improve a child’s overall health and well-being.

Families can enjoy physical activities together to meet the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day, the report recommends. This can include participating in team sports, going to a park, playground or walking/bicycle trails, bowling, dog walking, using the stairs or walking to a destination rather than driving. The AAP offers a physical activity “prescription” that pediatricians can use to serve as a reminder to families and patients about the goals they have set for physical activity.

“Even when families have knowledge of healthy behaviors, they may need help from pediatricians to motivate them to implement behavior changes,” said Stephen Daniels, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition. “Parents and other family members are strongly encouraged to adopt the same fitness and lifestyle changes as the child.”

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics news release, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics

+ Does a child in your life need help losing weight? More children today struggle with being overweight and obese than in years past. Read about the youth fitness program offered at Bon Secours Sports Performance to help children reach and maintain a healthy weight.

+ Improve your health by learning about nutrition from the Registered Dietitians at Bon Secours In Motion. They also offer group and individual counseling for living with type 2 diabetes.

Bon Secours In Motion Sports Performance, basketball, hand injury, elbow injury, physical therapy, jump performance, vertical jump, speed and agility performance, knee pain, sports performance specialistMany parents say playing sports helps their children mentally, physically and socially, but only one in four adults participate in such activities despite knowing the health benefits.

In fact, many adults were not playing sports or exercising at all, according to a recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Health authorities are hoping that changes.

“Sports are a critical component of a healthy community. They help children and adults maintain a healthy weight, teach acceptance and teamwork, and expand opportunity for children living in poverty,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This poll indicates that we must continue to encourage children to play sports, but just as important, we must find ways to keep adults engaged in sports in order to maintain health and well-being.”

When parents were asked about the benefits that their middle school or high school aged child gets from playing sports, more than 80 percent of parents said the activities help physical health and learning about discipline and dedication.

Nearly 75 percent said youth sports help their children mental health, too.

Of the adults who still play sports, more than half said it helps reduce their stress while improving their mental and physical health.

“When adults play sports, it’s about competition, personal satisfaction, and health,” said Robert J. Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “More than one in five adults who play sports do so for health-related reasons, and it’s a priority in their lives.”

Men are more than twice as likely as women to play sports, according to the poll.

The top five sports played by men include: golf, basketball, soccer, baseball/softball, football and running or track. For women, the top five are: running or track, baseball/softball, tennis, volleyball and swimming.

About half of adults polled said they exercise regularly at a vigorous or moderate intensity level. Their motivation is to improve their health, stay in shape or lose weight. The most popular forms of exercise were walking, aerobics, running or jogging, weight lifting and biking.

“Despite the known health benefits of sports and exercise, more than 40 percent of Americans haven’t done either in the last year,” Blendon said.

+ Learn about Bon Secours Sports Performance programs to help prevent injuries and improve athletic endurance.

+ At Bon Secours Sports Performance, we help children build strength, athleticism and lose weight with our Youth Fitness Program. Our program also features a nutritional component, which is essential to living a healthy and active lifestyle.

treadmillDrivers have long been warned not to text and drive for the obvious dangers of distracted driving. But could your smartphone be hazardous to your exercise goals, too?

It can if you’re texting or talking while working out on the treadmill.

Researchers have found that people who use their smartphones for texting and talking actually lower their exercise intensity.

“Exercising at a lower intensity has been found to reduce the health benefits of exercise and fitness improvements over time,” said Kent State University researcher Jacob Barkley. He, and other researchers, looked at how using a smartphone to text, talk and listen to music affected average treadmill speed, heart rate and enjoyment.

The findings are important for people who exercise for better health and may be trying to burn calories to lose weight. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with having more cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high cholesterol and blood pressure levels, the researchers noted.

For the study, 44 students were asked to work out in four, separate 30-minute exercise sessions on a treadmill. Those who participated in the study went faster on the treadmill if they used their phone exclusively to listen to music. Talking increased enjoyment, maintained heart rate but reduced speed. Texting not only reduced speed and heart rate but it didn’t make working out any more enjoyable.

“It appears as if listening to music and, to a lesser extent, talking may have benefits on the durations and/or frequency of exercise due to their ability to increase enjoyment,” said researcher Andrew Lepp, PhD. “However, if an individual’s opportunity for exercise is constrained by time, then it appears best to avoid talking on a smartphone during planned exercise.”

The researchers didn’t find any fitness-related benefits of texting while exercising.

“Most people indicate that their lack of exercise is due to time constraints,” Barkley said. “When this is the case, this study suggests that a smartphone should not be used for talking or texting as both may potentially reduce fitness. If one is looking to get the most benefits and improvements out of their workout, leave the smartphone in the locker room and enjoy your music with another type of device.”

+ Learn how to choose healthier foods for better nutrition and weight loss through the Nutritional Analysis program at Bon Secours In Motion and Sports Performance.

+ Do you need help losing weight? Find the right weight loss program for you at Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute.

This blog was contributed by Curt Truhe, CSCS.

As the temperature warms up and the end of school is in the near future, it is now time to start thinking about how you will use the summer months to meet your strength and conditioning goals.

Background Information

Having a basic understanding of how a strength and conditioning program should look will help you understand what exactly you should be doing this summer.  You do not need to get caught up in all of the terminology, but understanding the basic cycles will help you avoid overuse injuries and maximize performance.  All athletes should be following a year-round exercise program.  This is called your macrocycle.  Within your macrocycle will be four main mesocycles.  To keep it simple, the four mesocycles for athletes are going to be pre-season, in-season, post-season, and off-season.   Within each of these mesocycles there will be microcycles.  These microcycles are going to be the individual strength and conditioning programs you use.

Strength and conditioning programs should be individualized and specialized to your body, your goals, and your mesocycle.  There is no one size fits all program.  All of us are different heights, weights, speeds and strengths, and we need different programs to maximize our individual strengths and attack our weaknesses.

What you need to know

When is your sports season?  Knowing what time of year your sport takes place in will play a huge role is what your summer strength and conditioning program will look like.

If you play a summer sport, you are an in-season athlete.  Your strength program should look to help you maintain your pre-season strength and help you avoid injury with corrective exercises.  Use mobility movements and exercises that help release stiffness from competition and prepare you for upcoming contest.

Fall athletes will be in your pre-season program.  This will be your max strength and power microcylces.  Your goal will be to reach max strength, power, and speed by the time the summer is finished.  Your body should be in peak condition as the season is ready to begin.  This also includes proper rest for the body in the week leading up to fall season.

Winter athletes will be just finishing up your post-season training and looking to head right into your off-season workouts.  The first microcycle of the off-season program should aim toward building the size, stability, and movement patterns needed for your strength and power phases in the pre-season.

If your sport is in the spring, then you are in your post season.  This is a good time to use your summer strength and conditioning program to help your body recover and heal from any injuries or problems your body underwent in season to prepare for off-season.

If you have any questions about a strength and conditioning program for yourself or your child, contact your local Bon Secours Sports Performance Coordinator and find out how we can individualize your program to maximize your athletic potential this summer.

We offer Summer Strength and Conditioning camps for high school athletes at the following locations in Hampton Roads:

In Motion at Healthy Way
828 Healthy Way, Suite 130
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

In Motion at Chilled Ponds
1416 Stephanie Way, Suite A
Chesapeake, VA 23320

In Motion at Boo Williams
5 Armistead Point Parkway, Suite B
Hampton, VA 23666

To learn more about the camps or register for the camps, please call 757-IM-SPORT.