Can my son be vegan?

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When it comes to any kind of eating pattern, there’s always a natural worry that it could be unhealthy for your son and daughter. With veganism, which is a big change from a “standard” diet for most, it’s only natural to worry if boys can be vegan. Especially with our current culture surrounding masculinity.

If you’re on the internet, even just Facebook comments, you’re probably one of many who’s seen the term “soy boy” and stopped to wonder what that meant. Here’s a helpful video in case you’ve never heard it before (just a warning, it’s rather long) .

Like other forms of toxic masculinity before it, “soy boy” is a derogatory term used to tear men down who are “feminine” by traditional standards. It refers to the nutritional content of soy being like estrogen, which is a hormone responsible for what’s deemed to be more “feminine” traits. (Breasts, high pitched voices, less body hair, etc).

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See how “soy boy” is compared to the “manly” wrestlers? 

The belief here is that these men eat a lot of soy, and thus are soft, feminine, weak (yeah, it’s not a kind term towards women, either), or any other derogatory statement about femininity you can dream of.

All this turns to the question if boys can really be vegans.

And the answer is yes.

But why is it yes?

Myths of Veganism

Veganism is different from plant based. Veganism is connected to animal welfare and avoidance of any animal product, including things tested on animals.

Since it’s rooted primarily in compassion, often veganism is stereotyped as “feminine”. Rather, we tend to see men as more rough and tough rather than crying or compassionate. And vegans are stereotypically the modern equivalent of tree-huggers, with most outspoken vegans being female.

“Soy boy”

The estrogen in soy does not cause femininity, either. The soy in tofu carries a plant-based, not animal based, form of estrogen that doesn’t affect one’s body the way taking an estrogen pill would. It completes a different purpose and doesn’t affect a teen boy’s development at all.

There are plenty of male vegans who are, pardon the colloquialism, “manly”, including:

And plenty more I didn’t include. This is just a short list to show that veganism doesn’t reverse puberty.

Meat, development, and other things

Other myths that stop guys from being vegan are that meat is needed for muscles- which is, again, not true. There are the guys I mentioned above, not to mention tons of vegan bodybuilders and lifters who are strong without needed to eat any animal products.

Live Kindly also has a list of 5 reasons guys might be scared to go vegan– if your son wants to be vegan and you have hesitations, this list might help, as would looking at Happy Herbivore’s interviews of a bunch of vegan men who live a regular life!

Like diets that contain animal products, a vegan diet can be equally healthy with proper planning and experimentation of different recipes and strategies.

There’s no need to worry if your son will suffer any adverse consequences from going vegan- they’ll be just as, if not more, healthy than their meat-eating buddies.

Any questions or anything you want to add? What are your tips for a first-time vegan?

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and make sure to smile at someone today. See you soon!

 

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Putting yourself out there

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It wasn’t until Monday morning that I realized I didn’t write a post last week letting y’all know about life and dropping some knowledge. I want to apologize for that, and let y’all know that I MISSED YOU!

My brain and body are still getting used to working again. I love my job (I get free coffee!), and I love what I do, it’s just the process of getting used to a new schedule. I push when I can, but there are days where I fall asleep on the couch (eerily like how my mom is dozing on hers when she gets home…) and other things fall to the wayside.

As time goes on, though, the energy is getting there.

I like being honest with you guys about mental health too since my interest is in being transparent and helping people help themselves. One of the ways to do that, as I learned reading Doctor’s Townstead and Cloud’s book How People Grow, is by helping them realize they’re not alone. That failure is normal.

While I’m all for positivity, sometimes (especially with ADHD) it feels like the spaces are filled to burst with positivity. That ADHD is a gift, a blessing, or whatever helps the person feel better in the moment. That’s all well and good sometimes, but I think that does a disservice to fellow ADHDers.

People see our positivity, that “Yaaay ADHD is fun!” and they think that we aren’t hindered by this disorder. It’s okay to be positive, but we also need to be honest.

Sometimes, ADHD sucks. I hate having mood swings, spacing out all the time, or having bad “brain days” where it feels like I just cannot get my brain to catch up with my body. And for a long time, I was worried about writing about these negatives until I realized that people without ADHD get these days too- so why should I be quiet about mine?

Probably because we push the positive of ADHD and stigmatize the idea that ADHD might be detrimental to people. We need resources, not just endless positivity. We can keep up, we just need a hand. And there’s no shame in that.

I feel this way with anxiety too. It wasn’t until recently that I started reaching out when my anxiety got bad. It’s really helped just to express what I was feeling, especially now that I started dating. Which has been an interesting exercise in seeing how my anxiety changes in different situations. I’m sure there’s natural anxiety that comes with dating and adding that on top of regular social anxiety can just make it a large, delicious, nervous wreck smoothie.

But damn, am I glad I started putting myself out there. Let me tell you why:

Because I can feel myself grow as a person.

I was so scared of dating before I started. For some reason, I was an immovable object when it came to putting myself out there. Yeah, I can do theatre, but that’s different than auditioning people to be a part of your life like that. Especially when you, too, are being “auditioned”.

But after the first “first date”, you slowly start to get used to it, and the anxiety gives way to excitement and confidence. Something I knew I needed but never worked on. Just like blogging, doing something new has helped me work on skills I didn’t realize need working on.

So go out and do a thing that scares you, you never know where it may lead, and know that your coping mechanisms will be waiting for you when you get home.

Is “Earthlings” OK for teens?

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The documentary Earthlings is a bit notorious in vegan spaces just because of it’s content. Unlike other food documentaries, it has little to do with what we eat. While it’s interesting, it’s certainly brutal, and a quick google search reveals people exclaiming that they went vegan because of the film.

I was already vegan when I watched it back in January, and it didn’t necessarily solidify why I was vegan, just reinforced things I had already heard. However having seen it now, I can certainly empathize with people who went vegan because of it.

If your teen is considering going vegan, there’s a good chance that they already have heard of this film if they’ve been researching on their own. Of course, you can’t dictate what your teen does and does not watch, but it might be a good idea to look into Earthlings a little bit.

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I say this only because of it’s content and what they show is at least worth having a conversation about after the film is over. You don’t have to watch it with them (and if you weren’t keen on the idea of going vegan at all, skip this one), but it has heavy enough content that it should be discussed.

Earthlings starts with the thesis that humans are exploiting animals on this earth for their own gain. They travel through four supporting “paragraphs”: pets, food, clothing, and science.

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Being a dog lover and someone who relies on her pets for emotional support, the pets section nearly made me quit watching entirely. They show dogs being put down, beaten, shot, poisoned, mistreated (most notably, a man putting his dog in a garbage truck that will eventually grind him to death. I still have nightmares about this scene). This alone might be enough to skip this documentary in your home.

Earthlings doesn’t spell out whether owning pets is ethical or not. Most believe these animals provide companionship and the relationship is legitimately beneficial for both parties. I can’t speak for the opposite side, because I’m biased when it comes to pets. But Earthlings will not make you feel bad for owning a pet so long as it’s loved and cherished.

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Next it goes to food, which most emotionally driven vegan documentaries focus on in one way or another. The state of factory farming, of animal slaughter and mistreatment, is the main reason I’m vegan. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can’t imagine harming another being just to eat. Again, the footage is graphic (it is meant to shock you).

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Clothing was a surprise to me, and even though I don’t wear fur, they explain how the fur industry gets its pelts. For science, another reason I went vegan, they do show dogs (beagles, mainly), and other animals being tested on. They talk about how it’s being used, what studies have used animals, and gives you context on it.

Overall I did find it a really interesting and surprising documentary. You always need to be aware of the message when it comes to documentaries, and Earthlings was written and narrated by lifelong vegans.

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To help you, especially if you don’t want to watch the documentary yourself, I’ve compiled a list of things to talk about with your teen if they do want to watch Earthlings:

  • What do you think the main message was in Earthlings?
    • What did the filmmakers want you to know, and feel when you finished the movie?
    • How did they get you to understand and feel these things?
  • What questions do you have now that you’ve seen this?
    • What did you see that felt exaggerated, or you want to look into further?
    • What statistics and stories do you want to learn more about?
    • How will you know if a source where you find these statistics is a credible one?
      • (Shameless self plug way back to “Media Muck” to help them learn more)
    • How did the film make you feel? Did the filmmakers achieve their goal by making you feel this way?

I found this film a difficult watch, not in a bad way, but in a “this is really difficult to realize this is going on” way. If your teen wants to watch it, I would say it’s a PG-13 to R rating, and something you might want to watch first or watch with them to help talk them through what they saw.

What did you think of it? Did you watch it? I want to hear your thoughts!

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. See you soon!

 

Meeting Independence Halfway

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When I left the gym today and walked to my own car- the one I was paying for with my own money- and a thought popped into my head without prompting, as I jingled my keys:

Damn, I missed this independence.

Up at school I would have some semblance of independence. I lived in an apartment, could take public transport, and would often be on my own with my own agenda. It taught me how to be resilient, how to hold myself accountable, and most how to be by myself.

“Close enough to home that I can come back for a weekend if I need to, far enough away that I get the experience I need” is what I would tell people. By the time I was planning to transfer I knew it was time to spread my wings and go.

Of course, I still cried a lot when I left home. There’s a picture of my Dad and I crying, with me holding a replica of Sully’s clipboard in Monster’s Inc that had Boo’s door.

My friends in High School got a lot more independent a lot quicker than I did. Part of it was ADHD, which I know now, another part was I didn’t know if I was ready.

I get that it can be scary for parents- is it just a matter of time, or if we never let go, will our teen ever grow? Will they ever fly?

Only you can gauge for yourself what your teen is up for and what they want to do. When I write about my personal experience, know that this is coming from an undiagnosed ADHD adult who made it through adolescence alive and doing pretty dang well for herself. I’m here to help reassure you, guide you, advise you when I can.

Everyone works on different timelines, too. My brother became independent way before I did and even now, to me, he’s more emotionally and financially independent than I am (damn you, FAFSA). My sister is in between the two of us. But we all know she’ll get there eventually.

It’s in the independence where your teen figures out who they are and what they’re like. I learned that at school and camp, too.

For a while, I didn’t really like being alone. Part of it, I think, was because I didn’t really know what I was like. But as college went on, as I made mistakes and learned from them (sometimes calling my parents about the mistakes), who I am slowly became more and more clear.  Even things like having to get my own groceries and developing my own palette helped me slowly become the person I am today!

But I won’t pretend to know 100% who I am, or what I can do, because I don’t think that’s a question that will ever have a definite answer. Just like the physical growing pains that come with puberty, so too will the emotional and mental ones come along in their own time.

We just need to be patient for those who seem a bit behind the curve. There’s a fear, especially among people my age, that once you hit 25 you’re on the downhill slope when it comes to careers, love, family, goals.

It creates this anxiety and rush for everyone who thinks that there’s this drop off of options at 25. Because of that, I think people miss a lot of opportunities to grow. Patience, too, I think gets lost in the mix of growth.

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We see this in pervasive diet culture, in school choices, in athletics. This sense of “goals need to be met ASAP or else”, or “if I don’t get it now, I never will” seeps into how we see everything else. Dating, jobs, even just going through the Starbucks drive thru becomes a “how quickly can I get this thing I want”.

(No hate on Starbucks, you all know I love my lattes).

Setting up long term success is what goal setting is all about. Rather than a light at the end of the tunnels, goals should be more like street lamps: there to light the way and see where you’re going.

If I could go back in time to high school and tell my former self one thing, besides stop frying your hair, it would be to just chill and keep working. Things come with time. You will grow up. It’ll happen, you just have to keep working. Everything you want in life won’t come to you, but it will meet you half way.

What goals have you made recently? Have you achieved any of them?

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. See you soon!

It’s my job to like me (not yours)&other random thoughts

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For people without ADHD it can be tough when you’re at a party, or out and about, and you suddenly get the intense feeling that you need to just shut up.

It can be for whatever reason: you said something ridiculous or rude on accident, you realized you were talking over the person you’re with, whatever it is it triggers some unique defense mechanism that just tells us to shut our damn mouth.

Having ADHD, this happens at least once a week.

I was often on my own these past two months before I started getting out and doing volunteer stuff, seeing friends, and stopped laying on the couch wondering what I could even do. I downloaded some dating apps (realize I’m saying this because I don’t care what your opinion on them is) to meet people.

I’ve found that the person I was in uni is really slowly crawling her way back to the surface the more I leave my house. (“But Em! Why were you home so much?” Because it’s cold and I’m weak, okay? I admit that). Instead of despising everything I say or thinking it’s ridiculous, I’m getting back to the place of realizing people don’t have to like me, and I don’t have to care if they do.

I can definitely run my mouth. If you get me talking on theatre or nutrition, (Or even the difference in Christian denominations, apparently) I’ll go for a while. These things are typically what get me into the shut up, Em! mode.

It’s like an Energizer bunny thing. And I hated it. I would wish I could just keep quiet, not talk too much, and listen.

Personal development of listening skills aside, I realized that what people thought of me wasn’t any of my damn business, either. It took realizing that I was a pretty rad person before I started shutting up my ‘shut up’ instinct.

I listen. I interact. I want to hear what people are saying- but if people don’t want to do the same for me, then why keep them around?

New Job

New job rocks. I can’t say much, since it’s a hospital job and I don’t want to give too much away, but I love it. It’s working with patients to order meals and help them feel comfortable while they’re in the hospital. While it is technically food service, I’m not on the line (auditory processing has taught me that would be an awful job for me), but rather on the phone.

This is also part of why I mentioned the stuff above. I’ve gotten much, much better in the span of my first week there not taking people being mad personally. I haven’t had screaming yet, just upset people, and I help them without crying after! It’s such a freeing feeling.

I like the comradery of the diet office too. If you want to know more, in the near future I’m actually going to do a split screen with Libby Rothschild! Who has been for a while someone I totally look up to, so you can bet I was fangirling when she asked me to go live with her!

I’m working hard on scheduling my writing days wisely so you guys get content from me regularly. The last thing I want to do is stop writing and podcasting for y’all. But if I start to get quiet around here, message me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and tell me to come back!

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. See you soon!

5 things vegans should pay attention to

5 things vegans should pay attention to

My mom calls me a “nerd” a lot. It’s because if you get me started on nutrition, theatre, or my dogs it’s hard to shut me up. Hence why I started blogging about it…to save my poor mom from all my ranting.

Today we get to chat about something equally nerdy and important…nutrients!

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Yaaaay! 

How often have you heard: “I need more protein”, “Where do you get your protein?”, “I heard carbs are bad…” (etc) in general conversation?

Now picture a dinner party and how many of your friends (who don’t have a condition like hypertension) are saying: “My potassium intake is INTENSE” or “My selenium is rather low today. Anyone have any brazil nuts?”

Yeah…not heard a lot. If you’re vegan, you’re a little bit more aware of these micros than someone on a standard American diet (aptly abbreviated to SAD). And if you’re not, don’t worry, you’re not going to die.

There are some micronutrients that you, or the vegan in your life, should be paying attention to regardless of diet.

What’s a micronutrient?

Like a macronutrient, a micronutrient is something our body uses to stay healthy just on a smaller scale. For example, sodium (which is part of NaCl- sodium chloride, table salt) helps our muscles, heart, and nerves fire when we need them to.

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Which ones are the ones vegans need to pay attention to? There’s a lot of micronutrients.

Here are what I consider to be the top 5 micronutrients you should be focusing on:

  • Iron (+Vitamin C) (yes, technically 2 in one…you’ll see)
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • B12
  • Zinc

Iron

Iron is used for a few things in the body:

  • Oxygen transport
  • Keeping blood cells healthy.

If you are an individual who menstruates, you may already be aware that iron is needed more during menstruation since you’re losing a bit of blood.

It also helps in handy little things like energy production, DNA synthesis, and acts like an antioxidant in the body (https://veganhealth.org/iron-part-1/#functions-iron) .

Vitamin C is tagged on there because it helps increase your adsorption of iron. Simply put, it acts like a magnet: it scoops up more iron for your body than your body would get if you didn’t add any vitamin C.

Including vitamin C in an iron-rich meal can look as simple as enjoying an orange after eating some lentil salad (you can even include some spinach, another source of iron).

I’m bad at recipes and cooking (working on it!) so here’s an article on iron sources from No Meat Athlete.

Vitamin D

Necessary for bone health and calcium absorption. If you drink dairy milk, you might have noticed there are dairy products that include vitamin D and it’s because of the link between vitamin D and calcium.

Often, during the sunny months, humans can get vitamin D from the sun. However, during colder months, getting vitamin D can be a challenge (unless you’re one of those people who can wear shorts when it’s freezing…if you’re this person, you scare me with your strength).

There are vegan/vegetarian sources of vitamin D like algae, and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) supplements.

Calcium

Not exclusive to dairy, calcium can be found in numerous sources like spinach, tofu set in a calcium solution, sesame seeds, and fortified plant milks. You don’t have to have dairy products to get calcium, so vegans rejoice!

Much like Vitamin C + Iron, Calcium + Vitamin D is a dream team of micronutrients. Calcium is needed for bone health (something you might remember from health class) but is also needed for a healthy nervous system.

B12

Even non-vegans need to pay attention to their B12 intake. B12 is not naturally from animal products as some might claim, but rather is found in soil bacteria that we used to get by not washing our produce before we ate it.

By the way…please wash your produce. You can get B12 without eating dirt.

The book Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Ginny Messina, two vegan RDs, explains that the best way to supplement B12 is with a sublingual supplement.

If you are a vegan, you cannot skip your B12. B12 is necessary for healthy brain function and a B12 deficiency is no laughing matter.

But don’t let that scare you- B12 is easy to come by with these supplements.

If you or your teen want to go vegan, having a varied diet is key to getting these micronutrients in and making sure you’re getting what you need for your lifestyle. Just like paleo, the Mediterranean diet, keto, whatever eating fad crosses your mind, veganism just needs a little bit of time to plan for variety!

These are the top five nutrients I believe people need to pay attention to. What are your top five? Let me know!

And remember: Do your homework, eat a vegetable, and make sure to smile at someone today. Bye!

 

Validating emotions, the Fitbit Versa, and some Gary Vee

Validating emotions,

We had a bit of an upset this past week at our home when my younger sister was told she would not be competing in state this year for her sport, Tae Kwon Do, after she had thought she would be able to go. My sister and I are often on similar wavelengths when it comes to emotions and how we express them, so when she got home after hearing the news we were all on comfort mode.

And, of course, a little bit of familial anger- something I suspect you’re not a stranger to. You know, when someone in your family is wronged and you can’t help but feel a little angry?

My sister took it in stride though and did what we had been raised to do- bitched about it for a while, then set a plan in motion to fix it. And she did it without blaming her coach or team, she took responsibility and went with it. She just needed some time. 

I feel like we discredit the importance of “venting” and “bitching” nowadays because of the over abundance of memes about wanting “positive vibes only”.

In trying to create a positive culture out of the ones filled with jokes about suicide, as well as a world where death feels like it’s lurking everywhere, we forget that people sometimes just want to talk about sad things and get them out into the void and move on to fix the problem.

I’ve been neglecting this question lately, but it’s always good to gauge where someone’s venting is going. “Do you want advice or to vent?” is a nice way to understand where the person you’re talking to is taking the discussion.

This somehow ties into being a nutrition care professional, and I’m learning about that as I go.

Other cool things about this week:

Fitbit is my ride-or-die watch company since like 3 years ago. I currently have the Charge HR with athletic tape holding the strap together (hey, it works), but I’ve also been looking to upgrade since I got this replacement Charge HR.

I tweeted about this today, but Fitbit has a great policy for returns/replacements and that’s kind of what’s been keeping me there for so long. And the fact they found my tweet without me “@-ing” their company means they’re somehow watching me.

Fitbit just announced a new smartwatch, the Versa, that will include menstrual cycle tracking and phone-free music. I’ll be interested to see if I can just use spotify, but considering my sport involves throwing weights over my head, not having to worry about my phone will be nice. As far as the cycle tracking, I currently use Clue, but anything to dial down my phone apps would be nice.

Here’s the article about the Versa.

Next Friday I’m doing a comparison post on Fitbit’s calorie tracker and MyFitnessPal’s!

I’m almost done reading all of Gary Vee’s works. Libby Rothschild made me aware of him a couple weeks back and I flew through “#AskGaryVee” and “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!”. Currently reading “The Thank You Economy” and love it. I think it’s useful not just in an entrepreneur setting but everywhere- learning to listen carefully, build relationships, and put work into it.

Match day is coming fast. Two weeks from Sunday…fingers crossed for all my “RD2Bs” out there, and keep some fingers crossed for ya girl as well.

This is a much more laid back blog post so let me know what you think of these kinds of posts. The fun part about Center Stage Nutrition is that nothing is set in stone, and I’m here for you, so I want to hear what things you like and don’t like.

You can keep up with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

As always, do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. Bye!

Weight training in your teen’s routine

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Even though I did Tae-Kwon-Do (a Korean martial art) since middle school, I was never really into fitness and exercise the way I am now. Before I graduated high school, working out was a means to an end, a way to lose weight, or just something I had to do so I could eat.

Now I know that that’s not the right mindset at all. When I go to train now, I know that the progress I’m making is because I eat, recover, and take days off when I need to.

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But after I got my black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, my parents still wanted me to be active when I wasn’t in theatre. So my Dad took me to the gym, showed me a couple lifts, and that was that.

Since then I’ve been lifting since 2011, not really hitting my groove sports-wise until I started Olympic weightlifting back in 2016. Now I have a sport that I constantly practice in, set goals for, and sometimes love to hate.

Like other extracurriculars, exercise is a great way for teens to practice patience, goal setting, planning, and helps them socialize with other teens participating in the same sport.

Regardless of your teen’s activity, I would encourage you to try weight training with your teen.

Weight training is different from Weight lifting– “weight training” means just lifting for general fitness and health. Weight lifting typically refers to the sport I do, Olympic lifting, but I’ll be using ‘training’ and ‘lifting’ to mean the same thing in this post, since that’s how it’s used in real life.

What are the benefits of weight training?

When we look at weight training, we’re not looking at Olympic lifting, bodybuilding, powerlifting, or strong man- which are all lifting sports. We’re looking at lifting for general fitness.

Weight training helps improve balance, strength, endurance, and joint mobility. If your teen is on the computer or phone all the time and you’re concerned about their posture, training abs and back can help improve how they sit, stand, and walk by strengthening core and back muscles. 

As you go about your day, take note of how many times you pick something up or move something. I know it doesn’t seem like it, because it’s not stereotypical lifting, but you are using your muscles! It’s better to have your teen learn how to properly lift things now, so they can avoid injuries (like throwing their back out) later in life.

Embarrassing story time: I did hurt my back once as a teen because I didn’t know how to lift properly. I was not at the gym…I was lifting my backpack. Yes, really. So get them started now!

Weight training has other long-term benefits like an increase bone density. The thicker your bones are, the less likely they will break or sprain, reducing a risk of fracture. People who have periods also benefit from weight lifting because this benefit reduces the risk of osteoporosis as they age.

If your teen participates in sports, weight training can also help with their performance on the field.

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Does my teen need to be an athlete to weight train?

Nope! Lifting is for everyone. And if you have a teen whose mobility is impaired, there are personal trainers who would be happy to work with you and your teen to find a routine that works for them.

Something I really liked that I read while researching for this post came from stanfordchildren.org. In this article they give a lot of the benefits and things to consider when your teen starts lifting, but I do want to emphasize one point in particular:

Training shouldn’t get in the way of other ways your teen likes to be active, or a substitute for having fun. Really, weight training can supplement any active lifestyle.

Think of it like hot sauce- some people only need a little for the flavor they like, some people love having lots of hot sauce. Even things like bodyweight exercises go a long way in long-term health.

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Okay…but why should my teen try lifting?

Maybe I’m a little biased but…because it’s fun! 😉

In all seriousness, not to sound all ‘technology is scary!’ but we do live in a predominantly sedentary society. We have this fear of exercise like it means going to the gym for hours, sweating, grueling away at a goal that we’ll never reach.

In reality, a balanced life is about figuring out how much of a hobby you want moving around to be. My brother, sister, and I are all active, but we do COMPLETELY different things!

Danny walks EVERYWHERE! He does some lifting, but it’s more weight training. But damn does that boy walk.

Becca does Tae-Kwon-Do. She’s an instructor, so she teaches, and she even competes!

I do Olympic lifting and have been prone to zone out on cardio machines every now and again (it’s when I let myself watch let’s plays, don’t judge!)

By exposing your kid to all different kinds of activities, there’s bound to be one that sticks. Something that gets them off the couch, gets their blood flowing, and helps them move better the older they get.

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Here’s a photo of my sibs & I congratulating my sister for placing at state! 

Sounds like a plan. Anything else we should keep in mind?

I’m so glad you asked! Here’s a small list:

  • Whether it’s you, a family friend who’s lifted for years, or a trainer, make sure your teen gets instruction on how to lift properly.
  • Lifting could be a fun way for you and your teen to bond! Don’t be afraid to give it a shot, or to let your teen tag along to your lifting sessions. Some of my fondest high school memories are lifting with my dad.

Weight training is a great supplement to active living and can even become a fantastic hobby for your teen to make friends in after high school. It teaches your teen to invest in their health early on in life, to set meaningful goals to work towards, and impresses people at parties…what’s not to love?

What’s your favorite way to move? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

Remember to do your homework, eat a vegetable, and smile at someone if you can today :). See you soon!

Patience, jobs, and internships…oh my!

Today I want to talk about something I’ve been dealing with “behind the screen” for the past few months.

Patience, jobs, and internships- oh my!

While my first job is going fine, I discovered after graduation that there was a low enrollment number in the diabetes course I was supposed to teach. No one was at fault, and sometimes these things happen, but the hours I had weren’t enough to cover graduate school costs, a car, and groceries while living at home. So I set out in search of a second job to help supplement the one I have now.

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My fellow busybodies know that not having places to go can start to drive someone up the wall. I did my best to keep working in any way I could: I kept this blog up, which proved to be a benefit because there’s a lot of regular traffic here now- hi, daily visitor! I started learning everything I could about social media and how to market yourself to other people.

In the beginning it was difficult to know what I would be up against while I job searched in the “real world” vs my undergrad. I assumed that I would be frustrated, but in the end I would be fine- after all, I knew I’d have a job eventually, so why stress? I love working on this blog, writing, podcasting, creating stuff for you guys, so I thought that would help pass time.

(By the way, shameless plug, but have you listened to my podcast? They’re super short snippets of info that supplement the blog)

But it’s not that easy. After getting used to living on my own, buying my own groceries, and having an established routine at school, living at home was already an adjustment  and not having a regular paying job on top of that was stressful.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know what to expect emotionally.

For the first few weeks I felt normal, fine, and a little bit relieved to have some time to relax.

For the next few I started feeling anxious and antsy, a bit “cabin-fever-y”. Living in the Midwest in the middle of frigid January (oh, how I miss my undergrad’s tunnels…) didn’t help.

By the time we got to February I was constantly depressed, like there was a cloud following me everywhere. I was reminded constantly that I didn’t have places I needed to go, and I felt lonely. I love my dogs, but I missed my friends at school.

I had to realize it was okay that I was looking for a job. I’m one of the lucky ones where my parents were just as upset about my hours as I was, in a “man, that sucks that that happened to you” way rather than a “what do you mean you’re not working!” way. They were patient while I sorted through the feelings and applied everywhere I could.

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I also had to realize that the depression I was feeling was okay too. Accepting that I was sad because I wasn’t working was one of the hardest parts of these past few months.

After weeks of nothing I finally broke down to my mom, crying and wondering if I would ever achieve anything, and while in the moment all these feelings felt real and painful, I knew they would pass.  Still, for the week following, I wondered if I would get anywhere.

Remember way back, when this blog was a baby, when I talked about resiliency? (Am I at the blogging stage yet where I cringe at my old posts? Or is there a time frame I’m still in? Is there a blog honeymoon stage? …Did I take my meds today?)

I had to remember those lessons too.

Sometimes we slip back and regress in the face of stress and disappointment. It can feel like you take 10 steps forward, 9 back, and you start to doubt if you were ever strong in the first place.

You just have to keep going. It sounds easy when you say it out loud or think it when things are going well, but over the past couple years, I’ve learned that waking up and filling out more applications, or waking up and job searching, is all you can do.

If you just wake up and feel depressed, that’s okay too.

Just keep going. One day at a time.

I just got a job as a diet clerk at a hospital, so I’m really excited to start getting more clinical experience before I hear back on my internship. I’ve turned in all the pre-hire paperwork and now, luckily, the waiting game is hearing my start date.

One day at a time.

Do your homework, eat a vegetable, and don’t forget to smile at someone today. Talk to you soon!

Em

Teen athletes need more protein

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I wasn’t a school athlete. I was one of those ‘too cool for school (sports)’ theatre kids who never really understood the hype of a home football game, or lacrosse game if your town is anything like mine.

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Yeah, I’m not kidding, we have a lacrosse team. And before you ask, I have no idea what lacrosse really is except tall sticks with nets on top that’s KIND of like Quidditch but there are no broomsticks involved. I did like running, but I wasn’t on cross country, and I didn’t start lifting until my senior year of high school.

So it might not be a surprise when I say that my knowledge of sports nutrition comes more from an angle as an adult who’s trying to fuel her workouts, who looked into the difference between teen athlete nutrition and adult athlete nutrition. What do we know already?

  • Teens are growing rapidly in a way like when they were babies, which burns calories
  • Moving around burns calories
  • Teens like to eat (as they should, food is awesome)

So what does this mean?

Teen athletes need a lot of calories, especially…(drum roll please) PROTEIN!

Yes, protein, the magical macronutrient we’ve covered in the past. Let’s look more in depth on how to fuel your teen athlete:

how much protein does my teen need?

Eatright.org currently recommends .5-.8g/kg of your teen’s bodyweight. Since they exercise more than teens who are just sedentary, try to aim more for .8-1g/kg body weight.

Teen athletes are still growing, so we want to make sure they’re not just getting enough protein for their sport but for their growth as well! Protein doesn’t just help build muscles, but it makes red blood cells, white blood cells, and is used for hormones (which we know teens have a lot of!) and enzymes.

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Protein helps us enjoy a lot of the good things in life! 

Lots of people tell us that the US is protein-obsessed and takes in too much. Is that true?

Yes and no. So, yes, there is an idea that we eat way too much protein which can have negative health effects like kidney strain. But what we need to look at is the quantity and quality of the protein you’re getting.

In a vegan diet, protein is coming from soy meat products, tofu, seitan, tempeh, beans, lentils, nuts.

In a standard American diet (not Mediterranean or DASH focused), protein sources are often large servings of red meat, processed meat, or restaurant style portions of animal products. Not just meat, but cheese or dairy.

If your teen is vegan and paying attention to their protein, they’ll have no issues getting their protein amounts in daily. If your teen is not vegan, it’s better to get their protein from sources like chicken, fish, eggs, nut butters, and dairy rather than red meat.

Another source of worry when it comes to protein intake is supplements.

While teens  can use protein shakes for various reasons- building muscle (“bulking”), losing weight (“cutting”), 1 scoop of vegan protein powder can offer about 20g of protein.

So while these can be really helpful when it comes to athletes, it still should be treated like other protein sources- rather than something on it’s own. Most protein powders, especially vegan powders, are safe for consumption. One place I like to go is truenutition.com and make a custom blend of soy, rice, hemp, pumpkin protein. Chocolate flavor of course!

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Mine rarely looks this good…

Fueling your athlete’s practices and games are important not just for performance but for growth  and muscle repair.

Notice how eatright’s source mentions around 3,000 calories? Don’t let that number scare you. Remember, calories are not morality currency where the more you take in, the less humane you are. They’re just the way your body takes in energy to use for the things you love to do.

And it’s important you let your teen know their appetite is normal.

If your teen is an athlete, you do want to make sure these calories are full of fruits, veggies, complex carbs, and our friend protein.

So let’s say your teen is 160lb. How much protein do they need?

160/2.2= 72kg. If they’re an athlete, let’s say they’re aiming for .9g, so:

72/.9= 80 grams of protein a day at least.

There has been a new study in sports science where they upped the protein requirement for muscle building, which I’ll write more about soon, but wanted to share it here for my fellow study nerds!

What do you think? Share some of your favorite after-practice snacks below!

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