Harvard’s football players have been challenged for over 100 years to balance not only academic excellence, but excellence on the field as well. Even during the summer, over 40 players stay in Cambridge to work out and either attend summer school or work a full-time job.
“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication,” said senior defensive back Sean Ahern. “It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”
Most upperclassmen are working a 9 to 5 job during the summer, while underclassmen take summer courses to help ease the load during the school year.
“You have to be better at time management during the season, because you have all this time that is technically free but it’s really not,” Ahern said.
Weekdays begin at 5:15 am with workouts run by Strength and Conditioning Coach James Frazier and the training staff, according to Ahern. These workouts include a lift, agilities, and conditioning exercises. Head Coach Tim Murphy and all of the position coaches are not allowed to be at summer workouts due to NCAA rules.
Ahern said that he thinks “it’s a good thing; whatever we want to put in is what we are going to get out. We usually put in a lot of work.” The team’s senior leaders additionally organize workouts in the afternoon. Ahern said he believes that the work being put in now will pay off come September 19th, when Harvard will begin their season playing the University of Rhode Island.
The summer is not much different when you’re not on campus as a Harvard football player, with working and working out still a player’s top priorities. Jacob Mayes, a sophomore linebacker from Memphis, Tennessee stayed at home for the summer session. His days are spent much like they would be if he was at Harvard, working out and working a full time job.
Mayes has focused his time on recovering from a back injury, with a goal of being healthy when the players are expected to report back on August 19. Mayes looks forward to reuniting with his teammates in Cambridge. “All the times in the locker room are just the best, being around everyone,” he said.
Ahern will be looking to replicate his standout junior season, although he didn’t set any specific goals for the summer other than “getting in the best shape possible.” He was awarded first team all Ivy League for his play during Harvard’s undefeated 2014 season, along with 37 solo tackles and with two pass breakups.
“There’s nothing more special than Harvard-Yale especially last year, with college gameday, that was the pinnacle of my football career,” he said.
“There’s something special about the history of playing for Harvard football, it’s one of the first college football teams to ever exist, to think about the guys to come before you, who put in the same kind of hard work and dedication. It’s nice to see the rewards of that when you win a big game and the fans are pumped up.”
A couple of years ago it became crystal clear to me. A concept that I had taken for granted for so many years as a trainer. It was not until I sat down at my parents’ dinner table, with the intention to discuss nutritional habits and my mother (who has been a nurse for like 90 years) drops a bomb on me. “I have no idea what the labels that are on the back of foods, no clue what it means.” WHAT! “You don’t know how to read a food label?” “You are a nurse!” Now before all the nurses out there decide to bomb my house, I am in no way saying that nurses lack knowledge in any way. What I am saying is, in general, most people do not know how to read food labels. Thus, not understanding what and how much of the foods we are eating. This is a big problem. But, this is a problem I intend to solve with today’s entry! Yes, JB to the rescue!
OK. Let’s start simple. Take a look at the food label above. We will start at the top; Serving size. This generally references how many servings are contained and what the size of each serving is. This is where some people go wrong because they will see the total calorie amount and tend to overeat because they consume too many servings. Regardless of what the food is, keep mindful of how much of it you are eating by keeping track of the serving size.
Now lets look at the calories per serving. So regardless of the serving size this will tell you how many calories per each serving. So if something is 100 calories per serving and you eat 2 servings, that’s 200 calories (and yes I am a University of Kentucky graduate.) To the right you will see calories from fat. To attain this number you take the total number of fat grams and multiply it by 9 (fat is 9 calories per gram). Now be careful here, fat is not the enemy. These food labels give you the impression that fat is the enemy, it is not. Avocados will have a lot of fat calories but they are good for you!
Now lets take a look a little lower. Fat is the red headed step child of the 3 macronutrients but I digress. The top line will show you the total fat grams and then its broken down into Saturated fat, Unsaturated Fat and Trans Fat. In some foods you will see unsaturated fat broken down into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Each will have the total number of grams and a percentage. That percentage is based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This may or may not apply to you. If you are eating less calories, the percentage would be less and vice versa.
Going on down the list you will see sodium, potassium (sometimes) and cholesterol. As I have said in past blogs, choosing foods with more potassium than sodium is always a great idea. This will help with the reduction of water retention.
Now onto carbohydrates. Pay close attention to this one because it can get confusing. Underneath carbohydrates is Dietary Fiber and Sugar. Dietary fiber blunts the effects of insulin so you want a decent amount of fiber in your foods. From time to time you will see the phrase “net carbs” this refers to taking the total amount of sugar and subtracting the total amount of fiber from it. Hence the term “net carbs.” Pay attention to something interesting, on every nutrient you will see a % daily value compared to a 2000 calorie diet, with the exception of sugar. There is no recommended daily consumption of sugar. This is because we shouldn’t be eating SUGAR!!!!
The last nutrient is protein. Again, the same drill for fat and carbs, total number of grams. As a review, fat is 9 calories per gram, protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram respectively.
Most foods will list Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. The percentages are based upon RDI (recommended daily intake) for these nutrients. The percentages are per serving how much of these nutrients you are getting based upon a 2000 calorie diet.
This is vital skill to learn and will keep you out of a calorie surplus because you understand how much per serving. Keep all of these in mind when you are choosing a food. Use these tips to help you decide on a food:
1. Pick foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber.
2. Pick foods that a nutrient dense and high in calcium.
3. Pick foods that have more potassium than sodium.
4. Typically, foods that do not have a food label (fresh vegetables and fruits) are better for you!
Stress kills, and here are the statistics from the American Institute of Stress:
Stress increases the risk of:
Heart disease 40%
Heart attack 25%
44% of overstressed people overeat and 44% lose sleep every night. Extreme stress events (i.e. divorce, jobs loss) reduces grey matter in regions tied to emotional and psychological functions leading future psychiatric problems.
And finally…stress causes up to 60% of all human diseases. Wow. Our stress is killing our bodies.
So lets look at the main culprit in our physiology that is causes havoc on our bodies, cortisol. Cortisol is the “stress” hormone. It is released during times of stress from our adrenal glands (glands that sit on top of your kidneys that also produce adrenaline amongst other hormones). Now mind you, our body looks at all stress the same, no matter if it is; psychological, physical or emotional stress. Either way the following happens:
1. An individual is faced with a stressor.
2. A complex hormonal cascade ensues, and the adrenals secrete cortisol.
3. Cortisol prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response by flooding it with glucose, supplying an immediate energy source to large muscles.
4. Cortisol inhibits insulin production in an attempt to prevent glucose from being stored, favoring its immediate use.
5. Cortisol narrows the arteries while the epinephrine increases heart rate, both of which force blood to pump harder and faster.
6. The individual addresses and resolves the situation.
7. Hormone levels return to normal.
So what is the big deal? The environment of the typical American is such where we rarely take time off (raise my hand), are constantly moving without resting and have so much on our plate that we become overstressed and do not know how to manage it. Our bodies over produce cortisol and we are constantly in fight or flight. Put all that together with a lack of physical activity and poor nutrition and you have a recipe for disaster. Here are a few ways cortisol is destroying our bodies:
The repetition of cortisol release due to stress causes weight gain in many people, more specifically body fat retention. Cortisol can relocate stored triglycerides to visceral fat cells (deep and under the muscle tissue). This type of fat is what kills us. Cortisol also suppresses insulin release causing increased blood sugar levels leading to cells that are starved for glucose and signaling to the brain for the body to overeat and thus the unused glucose is stored as body fat.
Blood Sugar Imbalance and Protein Degradation
Under stressful situations, cortisol provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein sources (dietary protein stored in the liver and muscle) and increasing blood sugar levels leading to diabetes. Cortisol essentially uses protein as fuel and can lead to burning up your muscle tissue.
Inflammation/Immune System Suppression
Cortisol functions to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good, but over time, these efforts to reduce inflammation also suppress the immune system. Chronic inflammation, caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, helps to keep cortisol levels soaring, wreaking havoc on the immune system. An unchecked immune system responding to unabated inflammation can lead to myriad problems: an increased susceptibility to colds and other illnesses, an increased risk of cancer, the tendency to develop food allergies, an increased risk of an assortment of gastrointestinal issues (because a healthy intestine is dependent on a healthy immune system), and possibly an increased risk of autoimmune disease.
*****above taken from
4. Jones DS, Quinn S (eds). Textbook of Functional Medicine. Gig Harbor, Wash.: Institute for Functional Medicine; 2006.
5. Weinstein R. The Stress Effect. New York: Avery-Penguin Group; 2004.
So how do we combat this? Taking from my chapter in Jonathan Miller’s book, “12 Steps to Surviving a Crisis” http://therecoveringpolitician.com/12steps
Sleep/rest can aid in the reduction of stress thus reducing your overall cortisol secretion. Taking a day off or taking a vacation, sleeping and learning to let go of things that do not matter will contribute to reducing your stress. Also, getting people out of your lives that cause you stress and incorporating those that have you back always are good ways to kill your stress.
Same mentioned earlier, our hormones have a big impact on our bodies. Crisis and stress enhances that. Nutritionally we eat to survive but can also eat to thrive. Excessive cortisol production will cause our bodies to tear down muscle tissue and cause us to store unwanted body fat. It will also suppress our immune systems during times of stress. Not good. The American diet consists of too much processed foods, alcohol, wheat and sugar. Reducing these can help dramatically with your stress levels and body fat percentages.
Foods shown to reduce cortisol production are eggs, lean beef, sweet potatoes, fruits, and lots of vegetables. Raw, organic vegetables are preferred because of the high amounts of vitamin C, a cortisol reducer and anti-inflammatory. Almost including foods high in fiber (not bread) will help level out blood sugar levels.
The human body does not know the difference between “good” stress or “bad” stress. So any stress put upon it will cause hormone secretion. Resistance training (lifting weights) is a stress to the body, however it allows your body to strengthen and grow your muscles and strengthen your bones. Very important in times of crisis. Also, will allow you to blow off much needed steam.
If you are a beginner start with 3-4 days of resistance training. Make sure you give your body 48-72 hours between body parts before you hit them again. As you progress you can start incorporating Tabatas, plyometrics, cross training into your program. Make sure you get ample rest and nutrition, as this you will your recovery and reduce your stressful situation.
It is said that the heart is your most important muscle in your body. That is correct, without your heart most processes in the body could not take place. The heart transports blood, oxygen, and waste amongst other things. It cannot take heavy stress over a long period of time. Diet, exercise and reduced stress play an enormous part in the hearts health. In times of crisis the heart takes a pounding due to increased hormone secretion, high blood pressure and increased anxiety.
Strengthen your heart by training, not just cardio. Cardiovascular training will help increase the amount of blood pumped in a heart beat, thus making it more efficient. 3-4 days of vigorous activity is best. Beware, over doing cardio also causes stress to the body. Keep it simple in times of crisis.
Taking into account more than just practical medicine, holistic health is a huge part of well being during a crisis. Here we will concentrate on herbs that will reduce cortisol production and holistically improve your body versus turning to practical medicines.
Black tea, green tea, ginkgo all have cortisol reducing properties. Implement them into your diet and watch your stress levels and cortisol production decrease.
As discussed earlier rest and relaxation play as big a part of crisis control than fitness. Being able to relax and meditate will increase serotonin production to relax the body.
Take 15-30 minutes per day and shut out all the distractions and just let your mind/body relax. If need be get a massage!
Yoga/meditation/massage all have similar outcomes on the brain. Allowing you to relax and shut out the worlds problems. Becoming more flexible will reduce the amount muscular stress on your body thus will help the overall stress.
Take a yoga class or just take time to do some dynamic movements like lunges or body weight squats will do wonders for your flexibility, joints, tissue strength and stress levels.
Fitness is the vehicle to get you to your goals. Use it wisely during times of crisis and stress.
Throughout the year, Mark Stoops has been adamant that the quarterback competition is still ongoing. The competition features redshirt freshman Drew Barker and redshirt junior Patrick Towles. Throughout UK’s fifteen spring practices both quarterbacks took reps with the first and second teams. Coach Stoops has admitted that Towles has the advantage over Barker but would still not name him the starting quarterback. If Stoops wants to see improvement in SEC play, he needs to name Patrick Towles the starting quarterback.
Patrick Towles comes from legendary Highlands High School where he started for three years and won three state championships along with Mr. Football honors his senior year. During his freshman season at Kentucky he played in five games completing 19 of 40 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown. He had some impressive moments but when Stoops arrived in Lexington the following season Towles was redshirted. Towles was devastated like most people would be, but he decided to make the most of it. The following spring he showed the staff that he had developed into an SEC caliber quarterback. He was named the starter in fall camp over Reese Phillips and Drew Barker.
Towles had some impressive moments during Kentucky’s 2014 season, he threw for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns. He showed his leadership in big games against South Carolina and Mississippi State. Some of his decision making against Louisville was questionable but after another year of maturing, Towles is ready for the next step. With playmakers all around him, it should be easy for Towles to put up big numbers this season. Look for Garret Johnson, Dorian Baker, and Ryan Timmons to fill bigger roles. If Coach Stoops and staff want to improve their record from last year they need to rally around Patrick Towles because of his maturity and leadership.
My blogs/newsletters/fit tips/whatever you want to call it, are usually meant to educate and inform and not concentrate highly on the technicalities. It is difficult to show form and function of movements in an email and have them received on a great level. However, today I thought we would try it and see how it turns out.
So here we go.
This week I shot a video on proper shoulder warm-up. My friend and chiropractor Dr. Tim Rogers has been working with my left shoulder for months now to get it to behave. We have put these distinct shoulder warm-ups into my workouts to ensure my shoulder progresses. I also am staying away from bench press and shoulder pressing because it increases the inflammation in the tendons and causes irritation the day after workout.
Now I made the video because I saw a gentleman warming up the other day at the gym and he was circling around with a 10lbs dumbbell repeatedly, trying to warm his shoulder up. I see this a lot in baseball as well, circling the bats around “warming up” the shoulder. Now why would this be dangerous? What issues could this cause? A lot! We could write on this topic all day and I could break out the extensive anatomy and biomechanics but the reality is no one reading this cares.
You want simple, education, So I will break this down as simple as I can make it. Your shoulder joint is the most complex joint in the body because of the amount of range of motion it has and the fact so many different muscles and joints insert or originate from it. It also is surrounded by very thin muscles that rotate it, also called the rotator cuff (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscabularis and teres minor). Big words, little muscles. In fact they are about as then as a piece of paper, yet we take a heavy weight and do a circular motion with it and expect it to be ok time and time after we do it.
Not the case.
Not only to we have the shoulder joint to be concerned with, we also have the hip joint to worry about. See when we have an injury we cannot just look at the site of the pain, we have to evaluate where the source is coming from. Interestingly, poor flexibility and improper glute activation on the right side can cause injury to the left shoulder. This is because often times, injuries happen in diagonals. Walking or gait is about rotating at the hips and swinging through with the arms. If anything in that motion is restricted, injury could occur. This is why it is crucial to warm your shoulders and your hips up together for proper function of the both joints. So without boring you anymore with shoulder function and mechanics, let me explain the exercises on the video below.
The first exercise is the one you DO NOT want to do. This could cause long term damage to your shoulder. Just stop doing it.
The second set of exercises has to do with a band, the first I am standing, lowering my shoulder blades, squaring my shoulders, with my grip so that my palm is facing the other wall. I pull with my elbow down and squeeze an depress my back. This aligns my shoulder correctly and incorporates my glutes on the opposite side because as I said before, injuries happen in diagonals.
The third exercise is the band pull aparts. This is great for horizontal training of the shoulder blades and the muscles that attach. Straighten your arms and sit up nice and straight. Pull the band till it touches your chest, with your arms straight.
The fourth exercise is the monster walks. Get a band and place your feet, wider than hip with the part. Step to the left and right as wide as you can go and drag the other foot back to the starting point. This warms the hips up, which going back to what I said earlier is just as important to the shoulder as warming the shoulder up. You should feel this in your butt.
Last but not least is the kettlebell swing. Grab a decently heavy kettlebell and drive your hips back and hinge at the hips. This is great for getting your glutes involved and ready to lift upper or lower body. I hope you enjoyed that tutorial of the shoulder warm ups. Until next time…
Fear is paralyzing. The fear of failure. The fear of success. The fear of being looked at as abnormal. These can all avert us from achieving things in life. We condition our thoughts to drive us or to sink us. We can choose to go workout when we “don’t have time” or we can choose to apply for a better job, inversely we can choose to make excuses that we don’t have time or that we are not qualified for that position. Either way, you choose to do it or don’t. We choose to avert the situation or you choose to ascend to great heights and try without fear of failure. The choice is ultimately yours.
Either fears win or freedom wins.
Excerpt from the book Motivational Manifesto by Brendon Burchard:
“Why are some people more driven by fear than freedom?
It can only be because in the past they were conditioned to be fearful, either by those around them or by their poor application of mental faculties. There is no genetic curse or personality trait that permanently condemns one person to fear more than another even a genetic predisposition for anxiety can ultimately be flipped on or off by mental conditioning. We are not slave to our history; we can be freed by our conscious thoughts and disciplined habits.
This is not to blame our past or excuse our fears. When people choose fear as an adult, they are choosing not to manage or overcome it. This is difficult work for many because fear has become their default impulse. The thoughts ruling their minds and their self-talk replay the cutting barbs of the critics and misguided caretakers who once demeaned them. The good news is we can change this conditioning. When we awaken to responsibility, we realize that nothing can be done about our past but to see it from a new perspective. We can release ourselves from its grip. We cannot control how others treated us yesterday, so let us work instead on understanding how we are currently dealing with those who stoke our fear today. The great efforts to move our lives forward always come down to a new moment when we interrupt our fear and activate our freedom by choosing how to feel, interpret, and direct our lives.
Part of the mastery of life comes from anticipating that the same kinds of characters that sought to instill fear yesterday shall be met again today or tomorrow. Knowing this, we become wary of people who chip away at our freedom. These are the worriers, weaklings, and, in rare cases, the wicked.
From the above you can see certain situations and people can have an effect on ourselves, preventing us from being who we want to be. The worriers, weaklings and as he says in rare cases the wicked, steal our freedoms and instill fear in us. Lets discuss these three:
The most common are the worriers. These are people that without knowledge, are often the people who induce the most amount of fear. The are not unkind or malicious but always extra cautious and always reminding us “be careful” or “are you sure you want to do that?” or “thats not who you are, you cant do this.” These people can disrupt our ascension to greatness. We must tune them out and listen to ourselves. You can do this. This can be you. And being careful never created greatness.
A wise man told me once, “don’t argue with fools because from a distant you can’t tell who is who.” This couldn’t be more correct. Weaklings will speak out against your hard work. They will ask, “why do you workout so much?” They will say, “you can have just one piece of pizza, it won’t kill you.’ They downplay hard work and dedication because they are not hard working or dedicated. We must not give these people our ears and keep moving.
We have all met someone (or lots of someones) that are just out to tell us we cannot do something. Or are so malicious in their intent, it only disrupts our flow and our attaining greatness. These are the people of the world who do not want you to succeed because it will make them feel better about themselves. The wicked are the people on social media watching your progress in life just hoping you will fall off the wagon and return to your previous state. We must rid our lives of these people. Listen to your heart, gut and soul not some one who can’t do what you are doing.
Victory can be ours if we stay true to ourselves, trust the process and keep a positive attitude. We must also eliminate people who are not contributing to our mission or do not see the our goals as important or attainable.
Aaron Harrison, along with his twin brother Andrew were regarded as top 5 players in the 2013 recruiting class. `They were expected to shine at Kentucky immediately and be drafted in the lottery of the 2014 NBA draft along with fellow Kentucky signee, Julius Randle. Aaron did shine in his freshman season by averaging 13.7 PPG and hitting huge shots in the NCAA Tournament but it was overlooked by NBA scouts because of his inconsistency and body language on the floor. If Aaron would have entered his name into the draft he most likely would have been drafted in the late 1st round because of a weak draft class. After hearing that from NBA scouts Aaron decided it would be best to come back for his second season at Kentucky to compete for a National Championship.
Coming into his sophomore season Aaron was named the SEC preseason player of the year, it looked as if he was ready for a big season. On a star loaded roster, Aaron lead the team in scoring for the regular season with 12.0 PPG. Throughout the season Aaron’s draft stock moved up and down when his play became inconsistent. Heading into the NCAA tournament with an undefeated record Coach Calipari looked at Aaron for big plays down the stretch. Scouts were again impressed by his clutch shots down the stretch. After a disappointing loss to Wisconsin in the Final Four, Aaron had a decision to make. He could either bet on himself in pre-draft workouts or he could head back to Kentucky for a third season.
Aaron decided to enter his name into the 2015 NBA Draft along with 6 other Kentucky players. At the NBA Combine, Aaron struggled with his shooting and overall play, he looked to be forcing too much. His draft stock plummeted heading into workouts with individual teams. His workouts for interested teams went a bit better than the combine had. When draft night rolled around Aaron watched on patiently as his 6 teammates were drafted before he was. After the draft Aaron went on to sign with the Charlotte Hornets summer league team. Aaron has been very upfront about the chip that he has on his shoulder from being undrafted. After watching him play in the summer league it looks as if the Hornets want Aaron to make the switch from shooting guard to point guard. Aaron will do whatever it takes to make his place on an NBA roster.
I love myths. They are fun to me. This wild and wacky fitness world provides us with a LOT of myths and the problem lies in the fact people believe them. Quite frankly, sometimes I get caught up in the myths. It is very easy to do with all the magazines, fitness gurus and my favorite the internet trainers, dispelling all this wonderful information to the world. EVERYONE is an expert these and its hard to decipher what is correct and what is not. And truth be told, there are no absolutes, sometimes it just depends. So, let us take a stroll down my four favorite nutritional myths, shall we?
If you eat after a certain time, it turns to fat
This one is predominant and would be willing most people believe this. There is no clock on your stomach that says after 8pm everything that is eaten will go straight to your fat cells. It is a fallacy. For example I eat after 10pm (because of my long days and nights) nearly everyday. I workout late at night and my body needs fuel to repair my muscles and replace what was lost. If this myth were true, people in different time zones would be in massive trouble. Its not so we are all safe. However, people who tend to have a regular schedule (eat dinner around 6pm) who cut off their snacking or eating before 8pm tend to take in less calories and do not tend eat out of boredom. However, there is nothing wrong with having a protein shake or some type of protein packed food prior to bed time. In fact, it can be very beneficial while you sleep.
Cholesterol causes heart disease
It has not been until recently that this has been questioned. Most, for a long period of time, have been under the assumption that cholesterol had a significant impact on the increase of heart disease. Now that is starting to be questioned http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/why-cholesterol-may-not-b_b_290687.html. The fact that 75% of people who have heart attacks have a normal cholesterol (whatever that means) damn near debunks this myth. If I had to put something in jail as the culprit for the rise of heart attacks and heart disease, I’d lock up sugar. There you have it.
Eating less calories means I will lose more weight
False. False. False. In the short term this could work, in the long term this will cause metabolic turmoil and can cause you to gain weight because your metabolism is screwed up. We are predesigned to be grazers and eat periodically, even though we had to “eat what we killed” we still snacked on fruits vegetables. My advice, do not play the calorie game, eat whole foods and give your body what it needs to survive. 1200 calories or less or anyone is not going to make that happen.
Whole grain bread is better than white bread
Not necessarily. There is a minute difference in the following: color, fiber and micronutrient content. But this is minute. Even thought white bread goes through more processing and is stripped of its vitamins and minerals, many white breads are later fortified with those same vitamins and minerals. The fiber amount is not that different and you can do a lot better by eating high fiber vegetables than you can eating wheat bread. Simply put, if you are eating wheat bread as a substitute for white bread and to increase your fiber per day, you are better off eating neither and concentrating on your vegetable intake. For more information check this link out http://examine.com/faq/is-whole-wheat-bread-better-than-white-bread.html