Hey Arnold (Mendoza)

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Pickleball is the newest game to have taken the world by storm. Popular consensus is that it’s an old people game, but the average age for all players continues to drop, to 38.1 years old in 2021, a decrease of 2.9 years from 2020 according to USA Pickleball.

Many cite pickleball’s addictive nature as why the sport continues to grow while others contend that it’s the ease of getting into a game with friends or strangers. Some of course could even argue the potential health benefits or even the social connections as being a key contributor. Despite the reasoning many continue to flock to the game.

Allow me to introduce you to Arnold Mendoza, a 33 year old pickleballer out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. He has been playing pickleball since August 2020 and didn’t have any previous racket or paddle sport experience.

He is now an avid pickleballer playing 4-5 times a week citing the game has allowed him to make new friends all while getting a fun workout in. He’s had so much fun that he’s shed 25lbs just playing pickleball. Inspired by his current losses he plans on taking additional steps to focus on his health.

I was able to sit down with him recently and talk to him about the game.

Me: How did you find out about the pickleball?

Arnold: My cousin introduced me to it and I’m thankful that she did.

Me: What is your favorite thing about PB?

Arnold: PB is more than just a sport to me. PB has connected me to the most amazing people that I could ask for and has helped me make some long lasting friendships. The pickleball community is supportive, fun, and filled with people that I can rely on.

Me: What is your biggest achievement in PB so far?

Arnold: I would say winning a gold medal at a PPA tournament in Charlotte, it was the biggest competition [just shy of 800 participants] that I have ever been in and it was an amazing feeling getting the gold.

Me: What was the experience like?

Arnold: It was incredible, we won the first 3 matches, but lost our 4th match sending us to the “loser bracket.” We won our way through the grueling “loser bracket” and were matched back up against the team that sent us there. It was tough and mentally demanding, but we were able to win the first 2 out of 3 games sending it to a 4th game tiebreaker. It was a back and forth match, but we were able to squeak out the last game 16-14 to win gold. We were down 1-6 and I was ready to give up, but I said a little prayer and we were able to turn it around.

Arnold is part of the craze that is sweeping our nation. He is taking advantage of the fun that he’s having by meeting new people and losing weight. Although he didn’t initially plan on competing he has enjoyed that aspect as well.

I will always be an advocate of activities that promote exercise and pickleball is great for that. Arnold is a good friend of mine and I am thankful to have met him as well. Hope to see you out on the court.

Picking a Pickleball Paddle

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Getting into a new hobby can be intimidating. When looking to get into pickleball there’s a lot of factors that go into getting started which include learning the rules, finding people and a place to play, and having the right equipment to play with. In this short article we will focus on choosing a paddle.

There’s an old adage that goes, “it’s more about the Indian than the arrow.” Meaning that it is more about the person with the paddle than the paddle itself. That’s right racquet sport people, it’s called a paddle.

Starting out I would recommend going with a basic paddle or a basic paddle set. This thought stems from keeping the overhead low (60$ max) while there’s uncertainty whether or not you are actually going to like the game or actively participate in the local scene. A lot of brands have a beginner option, but I would recommend Niupipo, who leads in sales on Amazon, or Adidas who has a broad line of paddles and when you are ready to upgrade can just stay in that family of equipment.

Once you are bitten by the bug and are ready to commit to an intermediate paddle (75-200$) it is best to explore through the people you will meet. Having played almost every sport, I can tell you first hand that the pickleball community is unlike any other. You’ll meet people that will let you try their paddle in efforts to help you find what you like before you spend the money. There are also brands and websites that do 30 day demos as well. Ie: pickleballcentral.com

There are a lot of reputable brands out there, but don’t let the fancy colors and big dollar signs fool you. Start out with something cost effective and find out if this is an activity you are going to stick with. Then we can talk about carbon fiber faces and polycarbonate honey comb and stuff like that.

In the meantime, there is pickleball going on all around you; at the rec centers, public courts, and private clubs, don’t be the last one to try the fastest growing game in America.

If you are in the Hampton Roads area PICKLEBALL VIRGINIA BEACH is a great place to go to always find a game and if you need lessons I am a certified PPR coach. I look forward to seeing you on the courts. Happy dinking.

6 Suggestions for A Healthier New Years Resolution

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For as long as i can remember there has always been this tradition which most Americans partake called New Years resolutions. This is the time of year where people reflect on the previous year and how they can improve the next year whether they are taking it serious or not. Here’s 6 suggestions that we could easily adopt to our lifestyles for a healthier life.

Run for 12 minutes 3x a week 🏃🏽‍♂️🏃🏽‍♀️

-Whether you can run a 6 minute mile or a 12 minute mile, run or jog for 12 mins 3x a week to be in better shape. This will help improve your stamina, decrease your weight, and lead to a healthier heart.

Eat fresh fruit everyday 🍌🍇

-Natural sugars are the healthiest sugars when It comes to whole foods. Eating a nutrition packed orange or banana is a great source of fiber and improves digestion. LOW IN CALORIES.

Eat vegetables with every dinner 🥒

-Eating more fresh vegetables is one of the simplest choices you can make to improve your overall health. A vegetable-rich diet can help protect you from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.

Get more sleep 🛏 💤

-Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.

Drink a glass of water before big meals

-This will curb your appetite and help emphasize portion control. Remember eating is a skill and we have to practice eating healthy to be able to improve our skills.

LOOK AT THE LABEL 👀👀

-Take a look at how much sugar is in that thing. Also take a look at the ingredients; if you can’t pronounce it ie: butylated hydrozyttoluene then why are you putting it in your body? “If ya can’t read it, don’t eat it”

It is Probably Not Sciatica

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What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a term that describes the symptoms of leg pain—and possibly tingling, numbness, or weakness that originates in the lower back and travel through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve which is present in the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body; it runs from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks, and down both legs, ending at the feet. Sciatic pain is usually more pronounced in the buttocks and legs compared to the pain experienced in the back area.

Pain and symptoms in sciatica differ depending on individual location of the nerve which is compressed. The pain always vary within affected individuals; ranging from occasional and mild to constant and debilitating. Sciatica is most often a symptom of another underlying (usually more serious) medical condition.

Sciatica usually occurs as a build up with time; it is rarely triggered by a particular injury. Most people with sciatica get relieved naturally within a few weeks or months. For others, however, the leg pain from a pinched nerve can be severe and debilitating. Permanent sciatic nerve damage rarely occurs and surgery is also very rarely needed.

Not Sciatica?

The term sciatica is often loosely used to describe leg pain and therefore, it unavoidably gets used wrongly. A pain in the leg that is referred to as sciatica might simply probably not be sciatica. A disorder known as Piriformis Syndrome might actually be the case.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis Syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle which is located in the region of the buttock spasms and causes pain in the buttock area. In some cases, the piriformis muscle can also irritate the sciatic nerve which is close to it or which passes through it and then cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot. This is very similar to sciatic pain or the pain that comes with sciatica.

The piriformis muscle is located deep in the buttock, near the top of the hip joint. It runs diagonally in the buttock. The sciatic nerve runs beneath it directly and vertically with the sciatic nerve running vertically directly beneath it. In some people, the sciatic nerve runs directly through the piriformis muscle.

Piriformis Syndrome is mistaken for sciatica because they simply have similar symptoms and are closely associated. In some cases, piriformis syndrome lead to irritation of sciatic nerve. As mentioned above, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle or beneath it. The contraction or inflammation of the tissues in this area may compress the sciatic nerve and develop sciatica symptoms. This is one of the main reasons sciatica and piriformis syndrome are often misdiagnosed.

The similar symptoms of both piriformis syndrome and sciatica include:

– Pain in the affected leg.

– Tingling and burning sensations and/or numbness down the affected leg, this can spread towards the foot.

– Discomfort while sitting.

– Lower back pain.

– Lower back and buttocks tightness.

Due to these similar symptoms, a lot of affected individuals often wrongly assume what their condition is. Sciatica and piriformis syndrome may even be present simultaneously in the same person which can make telling both complications apart more difficult.

Treatments for both conditions differ quite considerably. This makes it necessary for the right deduction to be achieved based on the specific symptoms of each condition that are different. The right diagnosis of the symptoms need to be given to the affected individual. In most cases, there is an easy way to distinguish between sciatica and piriformis syndrome. One of these is explained below:

– Sit on a chair, straighten your leg parallel to the floor on the side you are experiencing pain. If the pain increases, it is the symptom of true sciatica in which the nerve experiences irritation.

– Sit straight on a chair and pull your knee to the same shoulder and then to another one. If the pain gets worse, you have Piriformis Syndrome.

Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is made by the patient’s report of symptoms and by physical exam using a variety of movements to elicit pain to the piriformis muscle. In some cases, a contracted or tender piriformis muscle can be found on physical exam. Sciatica can also be diagnosed based on physical examinations and symptoms experienced by the affected person as well to rule out the option.

How Much Sugar?

The average American consumes upwards of 66 pounds of sugar a year.  That is about 81 grams of sugar per day and approximately 2400 grams a month.  To put that in perspective, a 12 ounce can of coke contains 39 grams of sugar, so if you were to drink 3 cokes a day that would equal 117 grams of sugar.  Based on that math, if we were to drink 3- 12 ounce cokes every day that would equate to a little over 95 pounds of sugar a year (“Everything we need to know about sugar,” 2017).  See how easy is it to consume so much sugar?  Those numbers don’t even consider the hidden sugar in the food we eat, that is just soda.  For example, yogurt, ketchup, oatmeal, bread, and milk all have tons of sugar in them.  What complicates the issue even further is that sugar is addictive.  The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse found that sugar causes changes in the human brain consistent with people that are addicted to cocaine and alcohol (Volkow, 2004).  However, being addicted to sugar isn’t daunting enough for most people to check their habit, but what if I told you that sugar has been linked to high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.

After finding out all this information, I was curious to find out how much sugar I was consuming on a regular basis being that I consider myself a fairly healthy person.  So what I did was track the amount of sugar in everything I ate for the whole month of September 2017.  The numbers that I was able to measure and compare were weight and body fat percentage.  I started at 164 pounds and 9.3% body fat that I obtained through my handheld Omron device.  I weighed and used my Omron device first thing in the morning to maintain consistency.

After the entire month with just a little deviation from what I normally eat, I was surprised with the results.  The day that I consumed the most sugar was on September 4th which totaled 81.5 grams and the day that I consumed the least was September 12th when I only consumed 12 grams of sugar.  It was challenging for me because I usually eat peanut butter every day. The peanut butter that has honey contains 7 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons.  This resulted in me not eating much peanut butter during the month.  Two things that I ate regularly that surprised me were wheat bread and relish.  Wheat bread contains 2 grams of sugar per slice which can add up pretty quick.  I was also eating a bunch of tuna which I would add 2 tablespoons of relish to which to my dismay contained 3 grams per.  After a month of looking at labels I consumed 1024.4 grams of sugar during the month.  I felt like that sounded like a lot but after doing the math (1024.4 x 12 / 448) it only equated to 27.4 pounds of sugar over the course of a year.

All in all, I think this was a good learning experience about myself.  I’d encourage everyone to track their data for a month and crunch the numbers.  Just the simple fact that I was tracking the numbers kept me conscious and prompted me to not eat as much sugar.  In the end of the mini experiment I lost 2 pounds and was down from 9.3% body fat to 8.0%.

I think the mini study could have been improved if I went to the doctor and had gotten my glucose levels checked pre and post study.  Also, if I would have continued tracking over a longer period of time, it could have given a better insight.

In conclusion, I feel like the experience was super effective.  I was able to learn about myself, test my self-control and get healthier.  Some may look at my results and think they are miniscule but the leaner you are the harder it is to get leaner.  I am confident that someone at a normal or high body fat percentage would experience weight loss by limiting their sugar intake.  The repercussions of high sugar intake are no joke.

 

Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease. (2016, November 30). Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-too-much-added-sugar-increases-the-risk-of-dying-with-heart-disease-201402067021

Everything You Need to Know About Sugar. (2016, July 26). Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https;//www.nerdfitness.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sugar/

Volkow, N.D., & Li,T-K.  (2004). Drug Addiction: the neurobiology of behavior gone awry. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5(12), 963-970.

 

How Your Bad Eating Habits Become Your Child’s

Kids are very observant and start imitating their parent right from infancy: smiling when a parent smiles or trying to reproduce any baby noises that a parent makes. As they grow older, young children start imitating mannerisms and even repeat what a parent says at every opportunity. One of the first things they grasp at this stage of their lives are your eating habits. The way you cook your meals, talk about food and how you eat are influential when it comes to developing a young child’s eating skills. Most children look up to their parents and other adults to learn everything from courtesy to nutrition behavior, it is imperative that parents be careful in order not to pass on bad habits to them unknowingly.

As a parent, you should be a role model to your child for whatever attitude you demonstrate about food; your child is bound to pick it up and run with it. Since a majority of what a child learns is by watching an adult – most likely, one or both parents – any bad eating habits you may portray will probably be imitated by your child.

To avoid such a scenario, here are the steps to take to ensure that your child doesn’t pick up and start demonstrating bad eating habits:

Practice good eating habits – When you start practicing good eating habits, your child is most likely to follow suit by eating nutritious foods instead of snacks or junks. Your child keenly observes the healthy choices you make as regards the type of food you consume per time. This may even prompt him/her to ask you questions about why you always love eating fruits instead of sweet chocolates and learn the importance of vegetables. Your child will begin to understand why you prefer certain foods instead of processed counterparts and will lean towards choosing and eating only foods rich in nutrients.

Teach your child healthy eating habits at mealtimes – A research carried out to determine how parents and children interact with each other revealed that one of the most significant impacts that children experienced as they grow over the years occurs during mealtimes. The study also showed that children that eat with other members of the family tended to develop excellent eating habits and had healthier diets compared to children who grew up without any family around them.

If you have the luxury, you should cook with your child as this could spark a healthy interest in cooking and could be educational as well. When you prepare meals together, your child learns the rudiments of balanced meals and is more likely to stick with it until adulthood.

In summary, start wielding a positive influence on the type of food you eat – You should try as much as possible not to restrict foods by labeling them ‘bad’ or ‘good’ as this could be counterproductive. Apart from being observant, children can also be very inquisitive and be tempted to have a taste of the ‘bad’ food when no adult is around to dissuade them. Show your child how good it is to eat all foods but in moderation.

“Healthy Eating – Healthy Kids – Eat, Play, Love.” HealthyEating.org, www.healthyeating.org/healthy-kids/eat-play-love/article-viewer/article/271/healthy-eating-starts-with-parent-role-models.

Ipatenco, Sara. “Bad Eating Habits in Children Because of Their Parents and Family.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 3 Oct. 2017, http://www.livestrong.com/article/496378-bad-eating-habits-in-children-because-of-their-parents-and-family/.

Taub-Dix, Bonnie. “3 Bad Eating Habits All Parents Should Avoid.” TODAY.com, TODAY, 15 Mar. 2017, http://www.today.com/health/3-bad-eating-habits-parents-should-avoid-t109227.

Diabetes and Prediabetes Management

Are you 45 years of age or older? Are you overweight? Do you have a parent or sibling with diabetes? Are you active on less than 3 days a week?  If you answered yes to two or more of those questions you are at risk to have diabetes.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015 and is still on the rise.  In 2015, there were 30 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes and another 84 million with prediabetes (“CDC NEWSROOM,” 2017).  There are two different types of diabetes: Type 1 which is typically dependent on family history and Type 2 which is primarily caused by lifestyle choices.  There is one major difference between the two types and that is how the body handles insulin.  With Type 1 Diabetes the body attacks the cells that release insulin and therefore cells can’t absorb sugar.  Conversely, in the second type, the more common type, the body isn’t able to use insulin in the right way.

 

There are many ways to avoid being diabetic, but first you should talk with your doctor about your risk factors.  Once we have found those out we can start taking the battle into our own hands.  Here are a couple tips that we can follow to avoid Type 2 diabetes or reverse prediabetes:

WORKOUT- Exercise is a multipronged attack against diabetes.  Being more active will help you lose weight and reduce abdominal fat.  Reducing abdominal fat is very important because it gives the organs more space to operate.  Another reason to increase activity is that your muscles will use some of the excess sugar in your blood and promote the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

REDUCE PORTION SIZES- Try eating a little less.  If you usually eat a 4 egg omelet, try 3 eggs, or if you usually have potatoes and bread, lets leave out the bread this time. Half of our plate should consist of fruits or veggies, a quarter of a lean protein, and the last quarter of a complex carbohydrate (Living with Diabetes,” 2017).

MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES- Do the right thing for your body.  Eat more fruits and vegetables and keep healthy snacks around.  Know your quick healthy options when life gets in the way and you are short on time (“Choose More than 50 Ways,” 2014).

 

Having diabetes or prediabetes is not the end of the world, but also shouldn’t be taken lightly.  If we take the right steps we can make diabetes manageable or eliminate prediabetes altogether.  However, if we ignore it, it can lead to more serious issues like heart disease and kidney failure.  The time to act is now; 35% of people have prediabetes, but only 7% actually know so let’s start taking steps to improve.

 

CDC Newsroom. (2017, July 18). Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html

Choose More than 50 Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. (2014, September 01). Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-type-2-diabetes/50-ways

Living With Diabetes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2017, from http;//www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes

Building Good Habits and Eating for Who You Want to Be

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Building good habits are the foundation for success in the world. In the fitness realm things are no different. Self control, discipline, and confidence to execute a plan are needed to reach your goals. 

It’s the small victories from day to day that start the process of building better habits. We have all been tested and felt weak; we’ve been working out regularly; we’ve even packed our lunch today and then someone shows up with a box of donut holes. “WTF?!? What am I going to do?” It’s that self control, discipline, and confidence that we have to trigger to say “no thanks.” Trust in the process and know your hard work is going to payoff. 

It seems ridiculous at first, like “you want me to turn down a donut?” Yes, but I assure you that you won’t have to every time. You’ll be able to have some ice cream or a donut occasionally, but first you have to sacrifice to establish good habits then eventually it will be second nature. See, I’ve learned that eating is essential and that everything we eat not only directly affects our bodies but gives us the energy to complete our daily tasks.

Food is literally the body’s fuel and we are comprised of our choices. Therefore, we have to eat for who we want to be not necessarily who we already are. For instance, if you are 250lbs and you want to be 210lbs, then stop feeding a 250lb person. Don’t eat until you are stuffed; eating shouldn’t be looked at as sport or entertainment but as a method of survival. Eat to live not live to eat.  

The beautiful part about fitness is that we all get a second chance. No matter what you look like if you put the time and effort in, you can make change. However, if you aren’t eating right, you aren’t maximizing your results. Work smarter not harder.