Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nutrition for young athletes, and the lack thereof

Wednesday afternoons I meet up with Pattie and whomever else we can coerce into joining us for a spin class, led by our good friend and coach Dorian Cuccia. We started out in Dorian's back yard, then tried Makiki District Park until we got fed up with the lack of parking and the abundance of homeless people, and ended up at Manoa District Park, on the grass south of the swimming pool under big, shady trees. There cannot be a better outdoor spin class venue on the planet.

I see a lot of kids at the park engaged in a variety of sports. Tennis, swimming, running, baseball, football, soccer, and a crossfit program. No doubt I could see volleyball and basket ball if I went looking for them. It should not surprise you that I also see a lot of parents. Nor would I expect you to be surprised that virtually none of the parents look physically fit, and a great many are seriously obese. They expect their kid to go run around the playing field when it is all they can do to carry a folding chair from their car to the edge of the fied. A few never make it past the sidewalk.

It shouldn't be this way. Parents should set the example.

As I was packing up my gear after class I saw a boy in a nearby van -- maybe eight or ten -- who had just finished football practice, gurgling the last of a large cup of soda. The cup was from McDonald's, which just happens to be the only handy fast food place in the valley. I heard someone nearby shout "We're going to McDonald's, see you there?" I spotted three or four mom types, all fat and jiggly. "Burgers, fries, and soda. Just what you need," I said to myself.

I busted out my chocolate milk and drove away thinking how much better kids could be at their sport if someone taught them the basics of nutrition for athletes. Who would do that? Shouldn't the coaches do that? But the football coaches I've seen are no better than the general population, out of shape and seriously overweight. Who is going to impress upon these kids, and their moms, that before practice they need to eat something. Not a large french fries and diet coke. A Cliff bar, or a half a peanut butter and jam sandwich on whole grain bread, and just plain, common water. They should all have a recovery drink to consume as soon as practice ends. What kid doesn't like chocolate milk?

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