Staff Stories: My First Half Marathon

Our members aren’t the only ones working towards goals and striving to become a better version of themselves. Elite Sports Clubs staff share some of their own stories about their health & fitness successes.

From “I can’t” to “I did and will again!”

By Alex Yuspeh, Elite Sports Clubs Marketing Director

Alex's First Half MarathonIt started off as a dare. One of those situations where I said, “I’ll do it if you do it.” However, this was not just between myself and another person. This was with my sister, my brother and my cousin. We all agreed in December 2007 to run a half marathon together. My parents in disbelief agreed to fund the run if we all ran it. I was living in Phoenix, my brother in San Diego, my sister in San Francisco and my cousin in Manhattan, this was going to be a destination run. I Googled half-marathons in the late spring, early summer and found a fairly flat, if not a little downhill run in Vancouver in June 2008.

My sister was the only one of us that had done a run in the past. The rest of us more so resembled an offensive line of a football team than runners about to embark on 13.1 miles. My brother and I are fairly competitive. We trained together even though we lived far apart. In January, we started our training with the correct footwear. We bought running shoes and also each bought a Nike Plus to track our runs. I did not do a typical training program. Instead I just “winged it.” All I knew was in 5 months I needed to keep my feet moving for about 2 hours.

My first big hurdle was running one mile. As simple as that sounds now, I struggled when I started. However, it did not take me long to achieve that minor milestone. My brother was ahead of me with his training and warned me of the next hurdle–the 30 minute continuous run. I would go out at first and run as long as I could. I would make it 15 minutes, then walk a minute or two and then run more until I hit 30 minutes. It took me a good two/three weeks to get to 30 minutes of continuous running. Once I hit that mark, I realized that running is as much mental and it is physical. I was astonished that I could do it. After I could run for 30 minutes, I gradually increased my run times and distances. I got up to 10 miles two months before race day. (Before I go into the actual half-marathon experience, I have to say I do not endorse my program. It is not typical and if you are planning on training for a half-marathon, please consult a professional on a program.)

We all arrived in Vancouver and checked into the hotel where all the other runners were staying. You could easily tell who the runners were from the other guests. This is when I realized that this was BIG. The day before the race, we registered, picked up our bibs and went to the trade show. The trade show was an eye-opener. There was so much cool running gear. I then started realizing that running is a huge sub-culture.

On the day of the race, I did my running routine, but this time at the crack of dawn. I had a bagel, banana and an energy drink. We got our bibs on and left our hotel. All I remember were runners and that they were everywhere. My siblings, cousin, and I found a spot to do our stretching. I recall a man saying, “This is going to be fun. There are a lot of people to pass.” I thought that was so cool to have that confidence. That day my goal was to finish (and beating my brother would be a bonus). The experience was surreal. I have never been a part of something so big. My adrenaline was at a high. I was part of something, along with 15,000 runners all with a common goal–to run across the finish line.

The gun went off and I was amazed on how slow it took to even cross the start line as I was stuck in a pack in the back. I ran the first 3 miles with my brother when I wanted to run faster. I found a group of people going at my pace and ran the entire half-marathon with them. When I finished, I received my metal, got water, food and my belongings. I called my parents and found that I was the first to finish in my family. One by one the rest of my family finished.

Since that race, my sister and cousin have run 2 races together; I have run another with my brother and we are planning our next race. Going from a “I can’t even run one mile” person to now identifying myself as a runner has become a great gift, and I am thoroughly happy to be part of the running sub-culture.

We’d love to hear YOUR story! Submit your story of success (and even struggle) and you may be featured on this blog or even in our seasonal magazine!

10 Facts About Stress and Diet

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

  1. Everyone handles stress differently. Some people will eat less during that time, and others will eat more. Although there is no way to avoid stress and strain, there are ways to minimize the effects these pressures have on your mental and physical health. You can adjust your dietary habits to help you cope better.
  2. Some stress is good for us. It is what gets us up in the morning and on to doing productive things, especially if we have a good attitude about the things we are about to do. Some stress frequently comes cloaked in worry, anger, frustration, and fear; and it is these stresses, called distress, that are the most harmful to your health. The physical responses to stress causes our heart to race, our blood pressure to go up, and our stress hormones adrenalin and corticosteroids to flood our system in response to modern day “threats”.
  3. In today’s world, we often do not have physical methods to relieve this pressure. We create the stress level we are in, and then we “stew” in it. Many experts feel that long-term ongoing stress can be dangerous. Stress hormones can linger in the bloodstream, blood cholesterol and sugar levels stay high, and nerve chemicals circulate in record numbers. Such prolonged stress can lead to cardiovascular problems, peptic ulcers, asthma, and a variety of cancers. It can also put a strain on the immune system, further reducing resistance to colds, infections, and disease.
  4. Stress and diet are closely interrelated. A deficiency in any nutrient can cause a strain on all the metabolic processes dependent on that nutrient. Small amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C weaken the body’s antioxidant defenses, exposing the tissues to increased risk of damage and disease. In addition, how well your body is nourished prior to and during a stress response affects how well you handle the stress. A well-nourished person copes better than a poorly nourished one.
  5. For many people, eating habits are at their worst during periods of high stress. They can either forget to eat, or overload with an abundance of food. Consequently, a person can be more vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies during periods of stress than any other time in their lives.
  6. Mental and emotional stresses will affect the body in very similar ways. The immune system is the body’s main defense system against foreign bodies or abnormal growth cells, such as cancer cells. In a healthy state, people are able to count on the functioning of their immune system and protection against any further disease process. Optimum nutrition and low stress levels can provide years of good health, happiness, and a longer life free of disease.
  7. Research studies by the USDA found the effect of work-related stress on mineral status was greatly compromised during periods of stress by as much as a 33% reduction. These studies were especially true of the nutrients, potassium, magnesium, B vitamin complexes, and antioxidants of vitamin A, C, and E. Associated nutrients also compromised by stress responses are zinc, chromium, copper, and iron. In addition, these levels will quickly return to normal levels with vitamin-mineral supplementation and by eating foods high in these nutrients.
  8. Carbohydrates, protein, and caloric needs do increase the metabolic rate during a stressful event by as much as 13%.
  9. Stress will release the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol turns on the release in the brain for high carbohydrate or sugary-type foods, especially sweets. It will be important to have protein based foods on these days to avoid the “sugar response” to stress. Milk-based foods will allow the body to release calming levels of the body hormone, serotonin.
    Stress Eating
  10. Suggestions for healthy de-stressing habits include:
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Sleep at least seven hours a night
  • Work fewer than ten hours a day
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy breakfast, and just eat a nutrient-packed, low fat diet overall
  • Cope effectively with stress
  • Positive beliefs, attitudes, and expectations, including hope, trust, love, faith, and laughter turn otherwise stressful events into more pleasurable ones and greatly reduces the risk of suppressing the immune system. In fact, these positive emotions can actually enhance immunity!

For more information or coaching on how to manage your stress & diet, contact Rita Larsen. If you’re just interested in the types of health & nutrition programs we offer at Elite Sports Clubs, check out our website.

Do your eating patterns change when you are stressed? Do you eat more or less, and does the quality (healthiness) of the food differ? Tell us in the comments!

 

Share Your Healthy Story!

Do you live an ELITE life?

Elite Sports Clubs are not just a place to play tennis, or get in a good workout. We strive to fit your needs, fit your family, and fit your life! And a part of that is being supported by a strong community that helps you get RESULTS.

We are constantly blown away by the amazing accomplishments of our members. We are so proud of all of you! You serve as healthy examples of how it feels to be ELITE, and how exercise & good nutrition not only adds years to your life, but life to your years!

Whether you have lost weight, overcome an injury, are finally crossing that finish line, lived long enough to meet your great grandchildren, or achieved any other healthy goal; we’d all love to hear about it! It’s your stories of hard work and progress that inspire the rest of us to accomplish our own goals. So, please share them!

Elite Sports Clubs support systems extend beyond the clubs’ walls. You are all out there doing amazing things and we want to hear your stories! Because it truly is our members’ successes that make our clubs ELITE.

Have a story to share? Submit your story!

Deciphering the Truth About Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI: Measuring Height and WeightBody Mass Index is used commonly while calculating body fat and for fitness level assessments, but what does it really mean? Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a measurement that uses an individual’s current height and weight to determine their body fat using a simple equation. This equation is as follows:

BMI=weight(lb) * 703 / height2 (in2)
or
BMI (metric)=weight(kg) / height2 (m2)

The number resulting from this equation is essentially your body fat percentage. Healthy body fat percentage differs between men and women, below is a chart with each gender’s ranges:

Women’s BMI Chart:

Age Underfat Healthy Range Overweight Obese
20-40yrs Under 21% 21-33% 33-39% Over 39%
41-60yrs Under 23% 23-35% 35-40% Over 40%
61-79yrs Under 24% 24-36% 36-42% Over 42%

Men’s BMI Chart:

Age Underfat Healthy Range Overweight Obese
20-40yrs Under 8% 8-19% 19-25% Over 25%
41-60yrs Under 11% 11-22% 22-27% Over 27%
61-79yrs Under 13% 13-25% 25-30% Over 30%

Keep in mind, each individual requires body fat, and it is essential to a healthy lifestyle. If one were to drop into the “underfat” category it could interfere with normal bodily functions. Healthy and unhealthy ranges also change depending on age because individuals deposit more body fat as they grow older.

Even though the BMI calculation is fast and easy to use, it can be incorrect in certain situations. For example, if you lift weights on a regular basis, muscle weighs more than fat and therefore will cause you to be heavier. Therefore, when calculating your BMI, it is the muscle and not the fat in your body that causes you to weigh more.

Fat Calipers-Skin Fold Test

BMI is a fast and easy equation for giving a rough body/fat percentage estimate, but there are other more accurate ways of measuring body fat. One of which is the “skinfold test” offered during your initial fitness assessment through the Elite Sports Clubs’ fitness centers. Contact the fitness center to make an appointment for your own polar body age and body/fat assessment.

Exercise Can Mean Quality Time With Your Loved Ones

By Hans Bremer, Personal Trainer, Elite Sports Club-Mequon

Exercise and fitness are great ways to get out and have a good time with friends and family. Everyone is at different fitness levels, but there are plenty of options out there for everyone to enjoy.

Family Exercise

With your spouse or significant other, if you don’t share similar interests, you can take some general fitness classes together or do some couples personal training or tennis lessons. If you do share similar fitness interests, like the same sport or activity, get out there and do it TOGETHER!

Go on a nice long walk or a bike ride with your parents or grandparents. Nothing beats an inter-generational workout. You might even learn something along the way. Spend time with your children swimming or practicing their favorite sport. Join a facility that encourages children to get involved in exercise and physical activity. Everyone loves to PLAY, so get out and play with your kids! Be involved in their growth and learning about health and nutrition.

Exercise with your friends! Do group personal training, enroll in a boot camp together, or join a sports league. If you’re going to hang out with your friends you might as well have some fun playing and exercising while you do it.

Exercise and physical activity with your friends and loved ones is a great way to have fun and is extremely beneficial to both your physical and mental health at the same time. Grab your friends and family and GET OUT THERE!

Need help thinking of ideas? Let us help you find the right sports league, exercise class, or youth fitness program for you and your family. Or just start by checking out our activities calendar.

What activities do you use as an excuse to spend time with your family and friends? Tell us in the comments!