Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stretch To Win

Are the San Francisco 49ERS in the Super Bowl because they are more flexible than their competition?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the 49ERS are the least injured team in the league due to their coach’s commitment to a stretching program.

My own view after reading the article is that the 49ERS low-injury rates have a lot more to do with just stretching.  The team and head coach (Jim Harbaugh) have made a commitment to smart training and preparation.

This is no small feat in the world of professional football.  These are big, strong and fast guys and they like to train that way.  Most people like to do things that they are good at and football players are good at lifting heavy stuff!  So getting them to work on their mobility and flexibility is not insignificant.

49ER players that have been with other organizations have said that other teams aren’t doing this and that’s likely because getting players to buy in and commit to the training is an exercise in futility.  I doubt the team has some proprietary training system that no one else has discovered yet; the league is too competitive with access to a lot of smart professionals.

However, old habits die-hard and there is a bit of an “old-boys” network within professionals sports so getting new philosophies implemented can take time.  It should also be noted that most coaches stick with their strengths as well which is the X’s and O’s or strategies of the game.  Most coaches defer the non-football stuff to staff members who likely don’t have the tools of persuasion required to get the players to buy in.

The edge the 49ERS seem to have is that their leader (Harbaugh) buys into this training philosophy and he has the power and authority to make sure the players are doing it.

According to 49ER player Donte Whitner, “We do a lot of flexibility, a lot of warming up when a lot of people in the NFL skip warming up.  That’s why we have a good, healthy football team right now.”

The team requires that their players perform a warm-up before lifting a single weight.  And this warm-up is more than just stretching in fact the warm-up procedure is position specific.  In football while all the players are very strong the body types vary greatly and a one-size fits all approach simply will not work.  The mobility/flexibility program for a 6’6 320 pound lineman will be quite different from a 6’4 200 pound wide receiver.  The “bigger” guy is more than likely very stiff and requires more mobility/flexibility while the “sleeker” guy is very mobile and demands more stability. 

The 49ERS also require “stretching” after practice as well.  And just as significant as the pre and post practice routine is their training philosophy in the weight room.

Squatting 400 pounds with little depth does not help improve a player’s joint range of motion.  In an effort to lift as much weight as possible players will often sacrifice form, additionally they will move the weight through a very limited range of motion.  Essentially what this does is develop muscles that are strong but also short.  This is a recipe for poor movement quality and will make athletes that train in this manner more prone to injury.

The 49ERS use strength training to reinforce or make their gains in flexibility/mobility “stick!”  While the team still lifts heavy they don’t sacrifice technique in the process.  Their lifts must be through a player’s full range of motion.  Resistance training through a full range of motion lengthens and strengthens muscles simultaneously.  This makes the gains in range of motion and flexibility stick or last.  When you stretch a muscle in the traditional sense such as a yoga pose the change to the muscle is only temporary.

Flexibility without strength is not a desirable quality for athletes seeking to improve durability while minimizing the risk of injury.

Look at the typical teenage cheerleader or gymnast as an example of tremendous flexibility without the requisite strength to control their range of motion.  These athletes can reach back and touch the floor without moving their feet (upside down U) and flop into the “splits.”  While the desire is to be flexible and they certainly are they have sacrificed the ability to control their movement.  The muscles have lost the ability to resist and absorb force and the joint and connective tissues are now being “hung” upon to provide stability, and that’s not what they were designed to do.  Is there any wonder why cheerleading and gymnastics have the highest rates of injuries? [2]

On the flip side of this are the big bulky guys that lift heavy weight all the time and blow off their mobility work.  They look like statues and they move just like one as well, their movement is very stiff and robot like.  Have you ever wondered why the athlete who spends all his time in the weight room spends just as much time on the sidelines with a tweaked hamstring or quad muscle?  They have trained their muscles to be short and stiff and they are not able to absorb and re-direct force efficiently.

I was at a local high school recently working with a group of young men and putting them through a routine that focused on movement quality and for many they felt like fish out of water.  Young guys like to hit the weight room and lift “stuff.”  One boy remarked during the session, “this stuff is for Michael Jackson!”  Understandably he was frustrated because the movements I was asking him to do were very difficult for him to perform. He was extremely stiff and based upon my observation this young man is a “gym rat.”  He’s always in the weight room moving big weights and while strong he does not move well.  It can be tempting as a coach to play to your athlete’s strengths and stick within your and their comfort zone by giving them only things they can excel at.  But the role of a coach is to bring the best out of each individual athlete.  And unfortunately for the athletes, in any training program the payoff come when you do the stuff you don’t enjoy and aren’t good at.

The big stiff football player needs more mobility so he can apply his tremendous strength in an athletic environment.  The gymnast or cheerleader, if she wants to be healthy and free of pain and injury, should cut back on the flexibility work and focus on strength training so she can control the tremendous range of motion that she already has.

In summary, the 49ERS are so resistant to injury because they understand the weaknesses of their team and have made it a priority to address them, and that priority has come from the key decision maker so it has impact.  They also seem to understand the importance of customizing a routine to the unique demands of the individual, in their case by position.

My own personal philosophy in regard to injury prevention is that developmentally sounds athletic development covers you.  Allow kids to develop a wide base of athletic and movement experiences from a young age and as they get older allow them to play sports seasonally.  And in the late teen years if they choose a single sport to pursue they must have an off-field training program that counteracts the unique demands of their sport.  This diverse foundation of athleticism will serve as a powerful shield against sport related injuries.

Unfortunately injures happen.  So what do you do when your young athlete does get hurt?  Is ice appropriate?  I will cover this aspect of youth sport injuries next week.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Next Great One...(Youth Sports)

When I was a kid I always loved to read Sports Illustrated (SI) and I can still recall many of the covers and stories that I read in the iconic magazine.  After reading about a 14-year-old hockey “phenom” late last week a memorable SI article from the late 80’s (Nov. 19, 1986 to be exact) jumped to the forefront of my mind.  I will get back to that article in a moment but first I wanted to share what hit me regarding the not so unique circumstances surrounding this young hockey player.

Sean Day is 14 years of age and plays for a local 16 and under hockey team.  The one aspect of this story that is unique is that Sean Day is 6’2 and 195 pounds!

His “advisor” a former NHL player is effusive in his praise of Day saying “the boy is Paul Coffey with an edge.”  For those who may not be aware Paul Coffey was a Stanley Cup Champion, All-Star and is in the Hall of Fame.  I am fairly certain in order to attain that level of success in a career requires a pretty sharp edge.  This edge described by Day’s advisor is one that can only be attained through experience and the hard knocks of development on the ice and in the game of life.

I would caution the family of this young athlete and those in similar situations not to put the cart in front of the horse.  It is apparent that Day has developed physically much earlier than his peers.  And while his immediate peers may never quite attain Day’s size they will close the gap and play making on the ice will not come quite so easy for him.  Right now he can simply over power the competition.

I am certainly not critical of this young man at all or his size, it can be a true blessing but one day soon he will literally be “picking on someone his own size.”  This is when the execution of the athletic development process becomes critical.  Continue to dominate the lesser developed competition or step into a more competitive environment and possibly be overwhelmed…

There is a middle ground and it requires parents getting sound advice from coaches and trusting their own instincts about what is best for their child.  The child they have raised since birth and know intimately what he or she can or can’t handle.  Coaches also must emphasize long-term development over winning now.  I am certain it’s fairly tempting to turn a player of Day’s ability loose on the competition to dominate but what does that do for his long-term skill development and his integration into a team concept.  It may be fun for a while to win a lot of games but if his teammates are doing a lot of standing and watching it’s not a good environment to develop a synchronized team.

Day is expected to apply for an exception to enter the Ontario Hockey League.  This league has young men ranging in age from 16-21.  This is advanced prep for young men looking to make a career out of hockey.  Is this the right environment for a 15 year old, even if his extremely talented?

Hopefully his advisor is leading him in the right direction.  Why does a 15-year old need an advisor anyway?  I am sure the advisor in this case has the best interest of the boy in mind but is it really necessary?  My hunch is the former NHL player in this case took his own unique path to a career in the NHL.  Is he trying to replicate his experience to the benefit of Sean Day?  This doesn’t seem like a good plan to me.  Athletic development is a personal endeavor not all paths will be or should they be expected to be the same.

Kids need guidance for sure but they also need space to grow and develop their own unique brand.  There is no one way to make the NHL in fact it may be one of the most diverse leagues in professional sports.  When talent is developed with a long-term vision and relies upon fundamental elements of progression the cream will inevitably rise to the top.

One more note from Day’s story that I fell compelled to share and for many parents of children participating in travel sports it won’t surprise you.  Sean Day figures to play about 60 to 70 games for Compuware, playing as far away as Chicago, Madison Wis., and Toronto, well he does have a pro body so why not play a pro-like schedule… [1]

The only flaw in that logic are his less developed teammates who could use a good night’s sleep and some down time to allow their bodies to catch up to their full grown teammate. It might be ok for Day but it’s less than ideal for the majority of young athletes.

Back to the old SI article

The feature article attempted to predict future basketball stars and they featured athletes from 7-12th grades.  I originally looked back on that cover several years ago to gage the predictions.  They hit on the 11th grader who was Alonzo Mourning who became a very good NBA player and the 10th grader Kenny Anderson also enjoyed a good NBA career, the 12th grader also made the NBA but did not enjoy a long career and was mostly a bench player but he did make it.  The only other hit was the 9th grader whose name was Damon Bailey who had a good career at Indiana University and got a shot but did not stick in the NBA.  The one thing I always remembered is the criticism Bailey received while in college that he never lived up to the hype.  The other thing I recall about Bailey is that he was often injured and never made it in the NBA because he wasn’t athletic enough.

Bailey was the classic case of a young athlete that specialized early and peaked in high school.  He never developed the broad athleticism required to succeed at higher levels of competition.  Building an athletic career on a narrow base is never a good idea in the long run.

Your Son is To Small for the NHL

A parent recently shared with me that the coach of her son’s hockey team told them that their son was to short to play goalie in the NHL, the boy is 12 years of age…

I wrote extensively on this topic several weeks ago but I will provide a brief recap. [2] Fortunately these parents kept this comment in its proper perspective, i.e. it was dumb and useless, but it was a blow to the child who in no way asked for this critique and should not be expected to handle it well emotionally.

If you or your child have had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of a comment such as this here is my advice:

First, it’s important to understand that your young athlete is at an age where kids begin to go through rapid stages of development. Development in this sense can be physical (taller, heavier, stronger, faster, etc.), psychological (more mature), and even neurological (improved coordination, and better ability to learn and refine new skills). In general, the 9-16 year-old time window is one of turbulent changes in all of these development factors. In my experience, the athletes that excel at any given level within this frame are generally those that have developed FASTER in one or more of the above components. Bigger kids dominate physically. More mature kids play a stronger leadership role and generally understand the game better. Neurologically developed kids have better technical skills and coordination than those that they play against. If you take a cross-section of all the players on any given youth sport team, it is almost always the kids that have developed sooner in these areas that excel AT THAT TIME. Unfortunately, past success is not at all indicative of future success. Many of the best peewees are not the best midgets, and in many cases, the best midgets aren’t the best college players, and the best college players aren’t the best pros. Developing FASTER does NOT mean developing to higher peak levels. In other words, if your child is lagging slightly behind now, it’s NO indication that they won’t fly by everyone in the future. Be patient, and focus on developing positive on- and off-field training habits. These are what build champions.

Being smaller and/or slower at a given level can actually be an advantage, from a technical, tactical, and psychological standpoint. It is often the under-sized players that are forced to develop above-average skill sets in order to compete at a level with larger and/or faster players. They need better hands, better technical ability (skating, pitching, shooting), an improved spatial awareness, ability to read the play, and overall understanding of the game. Think of the best players at the highest levels of any sport including hockey and then reread these qualities. You’ll likely see a significant amount of overlap. Elite hockey today is more about skill and speed than ever. The kids that are bigger and/or faster than everyone else at young ages simply push the puck past kids and then outrace them, or bowl through them. There isn’t much skill development there. Emphasize to your child that he or she has an opportunity to develop incredible skill sets while others are relying on their physical gifts, which will eventually fail them as everyone around them, including your child, begins to catch up.

  There are size mismatches at every level. Your child will need to learn to excel with his own strengths, not be victimized by the strengths of others.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that a VERY small percentage of youth players go on to compete at professional levels. Playing team sports provides an opportunity for a lot of fun, and almost as importantly, ongoing opportunities to develop characteristics that will benefit your son later in life. There are very few handouts in life. Most things of any value need to be worked for. They often need to be continually worked for despite several setbacks and periods of hopelessness. Use your child’s lack of size as an opportunity to teach them that the way they are going to be successful is by adopting the attitude of constantly outworking everyone else. Teach them perseverance. Teach him drive. Let him develop a passion for the game, and also for goal hunting (the process of setting goals and then hunting them down with an unparalleled determination).

Elite athletic development is a long-term process. Keep this in perspective.  If your child develops quality habits now, they will serve him or her forever not only on the field of play but in the game of life as well. This is the goal. Develop a better athlete player. Develop a better person.

The Hits Keep On Coming…

Three years ago I wrote about a 13-year-old that was offered a scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California (USC).  Here is an update plus the terrific idea (sarcasm alert!) his father had to create a school just for his son.

Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist




Saturday, January 12, 2013

To Much To Soon...

Too Much too Soon?

David Sills is in the seventh grade and plays quarterback on the middle school football team at the Red Lion Christian Academy.

Apparently, David is pretty good at football because something unheard of happened last week. The University of Southern California, a college football power, offered him a sports scholarship. Trojan coach Lane Kiffin made the proposal and, with his parents' blessing, David accepted.

David and Denise Sills are the parents and they have taken some heat for allowing this to happen.

David Sills III, the quarterback's dad, hasn't seemed bothered by the criticism. Recently he told "For the people that don't like kids getting recruited early, if it was their kid what would they do?...The way I look at it if David was a phenomenal mathematician and I held him back, wouldn't that be wrong?"

Mr. Sills brings up a fair point.  Put yourself in his shoes, what decision would you make?

I don’t fault the parents in this case.  If you can get someone to pay your child’s tuition in this day and age you need to consider that. 

At 13 though this boy is likely to still grow.  At some point his body will start to rebel against him during his growth spurt.  Things that were easy yesterday will become very difficult a week from now as he learns to coordinate a body that is several inches longer.  This increase in growth will also likely be accompanied with tight muscles and sore joints.

If David successfully manages his teenage years who is to say he’ll be the same athlete?  Also consider when you were 13, did you every change your mind about what you wanted to become?

Experts in child development and youth sports say they worry how Sills will handle the spotlight. Even more troubling to some is what the story of a 13-year-old being recruited by a major college program says about the state of youth sports in general.

"We're robbing children of their childhood," warns Richard Ginsburg, a sport psychologist who treats youth athletes and their families at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital, in an interview with ParentDish.

"The sports industry has become tailored to giving children the hope that they have a chance to be scouted and picked. There are so many things that can go wrong: Overuse injuries, burnout, and stress. Putting young bodies and minds into that kind of situation, they're just not ready for it.,” says Ginsburg, co-author of Whose Game is It, Anyway? a book that helps parents navigate youth sports.

Much of the medical establishment agrees about those risks. This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics sent out its latest warning. AAP's Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness reissued a caution first published in 2000: It reads: "Children involved in sports should be encouraged to participate in a variety of different activities and develop a wide range of skills. Young athletes who specialize in just one sport may be denied the benefits of varied activity while facing additional demands from intense training and competition."

At least one professional doesn’t view this situation as a disaster in the making.
Linda Petlichkoff, a sport psychology consultant and professor of Kinesiology at Boise State University, says her only reservation is whether David's dream truly belongs to him.

"Are these goals actually his goals or his dad's goals?" she says in an interview with ParentDish. "If they're his, I don't think anybody should say yay, nay or put up roadblocks. That's what life's about. Set your goals ands strive for them."

Ginsburg is more skeptical. "Five years from now, maybe it's a success story. Maybe all the stars align. But he's a superstar at 13. I'm afraid the only way to go is down."

Lane Kiffin the head coach at USC doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to loyalty.  Scholarships are not binding agreements this early in the game.  What if in 5 years another young prospect emerges and proves to be more talented than David Sills?  I’m guessing Kiffin will pull back that scholarship offer right from under David.

I hope the Sills are prepared for that to happen.  In the meantime, hopefully David is allowed to be a kid without the burden of living up to a commitment that may not exist 5 years from now.

Story Update

I wrote the above article in 2009.  Here is what has transpired in David Sills’ athletic career over the last 3 years. For his freshman 2011 season, Sills played very well in his second year as a varsity quarterback. He was named a U.S. Air Force Second Team Freshman All-American. [1] Following a freshman season, where his father contributed to financing an entirely out-of-state schedule including air travel games to California, Red Lion Christian Academy (Delaware) took actions to downsize its athletic program.

As a sophomore, Sills became the quarterback for Eastern Christian Academy (ECA) of Elkton, Maryland. The move was controversial because the school is a newly formed online educational institution. All boys that are enrolled are on the 46-man football team established by Sills father to showcase his son. Some of ECA's opponents have cancelled their games against it. [2]

Sills is a member of the class of 2015 and is still committed to USC even though he is ineligible to sign a letter of intent until 2015. 

It appears USC is standing by the young man and he just may make it to campus after all.  That is provided he doesn’t burnout first and likely more relevant, his father doesn’t do something stupid in the meantime.  I knew the youth sport culture was in need of a wake up call but even I never imagined that a parent would attempt to create an entire school to showcase his son’s athletic ability…

How much exposure does a kid really need, after all did he not land a scholarship from USC?  It seems someone is determined to engineer the greatest quarterback in the history of football… It’s just to bad the conductor of this game plan is blinded by his own ego because he doesn’t even notice he is dangerously close to driving his son over the edge. 

Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top Health and Fitness Trends For 2013...

With the New Year typically comes the air of a fresh start. From a health and fitness point of view what are your expectations for the year ahead?  Think about that for a moment and then read what the experts see on the horizon. Do their trends match up with yours?  If not do you think your ideas might change after hearing what is expected from the majority of Americans?

The Values Institute at DGWB, a social science research entity based in Santa Ana, Calif., used observational studies to identify the top health and wellness trends that Americans are most likely to embrace in 2013.

The top five-consumer health trends for 2013 will be: [1]

1. Food Waste Consciousness. Waste not; want not, especially in the kitchen. A recent Eco Pulse survey found that 39 percent of Americans feel guilty about trashing food, more so than any other “green” sin.  In the spring and summer using food scraps for compost is an excellent strategy and can give your garden a real boost.  However, when it comes to attempting to extend the life of your food be careful.  The limit is usually three days for cooked food any longer than that and you are asking for trouble.  Another great strategy for wasting less food is using more of it.  Instead of going for the “prime” parts use the whole.  For example roast a whole chicken instead of just buying breasts and use the stem of broccoli by peeling then grating it to make slaw.

2. Wellness in the Workplace. Employers are realizing that working health into the corporate agenda benefits waistlines and bottom lines. With healthcare costs expected to rise by 7 percent, companies are improving employees’ health (and minimizing healthcare expenditures) by adding wellness programs. The National Business Group on Health found that 48 percent of companies’ surveyed plan to use incentives to get workers involved in wellness in 2013.

3. Mini-meals and Snacking. As the snacking trend continues, new research shows that those who eat between meals tend to have healthier diets. reports that snacks make up one out of every five eating occasions in the U.S. Especially prevalent is the advent of multiple “mini-meals” in place of the standard three squares a day.   Best to avoid this trend if possible.  Shoot for at minimum one sit down, home cooked meal a day with your family (better nutrition and you get a chance to find out what’s going on in each others lives).

4. Meatless Mainstreaming: Veganism is OK. No longer reserved for the hip in Hollywood, going vegan is being embraced as a viable health alternative. Even professional athletes like Venus Williams and Arian Foster, whose bodies are their livelihood, have made the switch.  Eating vegan doesn’t equate to eating healthy.  Potatoes fried in canola oil would be vegan. For ethical reasons I understand the decision to go vegan, but for health reasons you had better do your research and consult a dietitian before taking the leap, nutrient deficiencies are a given without guidance.

5. Going Against the Grain. The past year saw an influx of gluten-free products as everyone and their brother is shunning their Cheerios (for good reason, more next week). Gluten has joined carbohydrates and corn syrup as the newest ingredient Americans love to leave out. While some experts see this as self-diagnosis gone awry, consumers increasingly see the “GF” logo as a guide to healthier eating. From grocery stores to brands like Betty Crocker to Domino’s, the food industry is taking advantage of this new, not-so-niche need.

Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  In fact usually the opposite is true when it comes to health.  A wise old mentor once told me look around the gym and you’ll see everybody doing the same thing, you should do the opposite.

While gluten-free products are on the rise, it’s important to note that these foods are specifically designed for those individuals who suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivities and not for those looking to eat more healthfully or lose weight. The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that there is no benefit of a gluten-free diet for the average healthy adult. It disputes the perception that going gluten-free is an effective way to lose weight and may in fact lead to weight gain because of extra sugar and fat often added to gluten-free foods to improve taste. [2]

Grains are not “unhealthy!”  As usual the devil is in the details as the quality (whole grains), quantity and preparation (extrusion anyone) of grains are more relevant.  Grains can be an excellent source of nutrition and should not be neglected due to shifts in popular media.

Top 10 Restaurant Trends for 2013

There is some overlap with the trends mentioned above but I wanted to cherry pick a few to appeal to my audience.  You can access the complete list in the resource section below. [3]

Healthy kids’ meals

Healthful and creative kids’ meals will continue to make an impression on the quick-service industry.

The industry “wrote the book” on understanding kids and kids’ meals, says Sharon Olson, executive director of the Culinary Visions panel, which surveyed 3,000 consumers and interviewed dozens of food experts to decide top trends. “They are leaders in knowing what appeals to kids and their parents.”

As such, operators are now going to great lengths to improve the nutritional profile of kids’ meals. The National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell initiative, which helps eateries spotlight better-for-you menu choices for children, has grown in 18 months to encompass 130 restaurant brands representing 30,000 locations nationwide.

Restaurants will look to improve the health quality of kids’ meals by taking steps like grilling instead of frying, cutting calories and fat.

These efforts aren’t just satisfying parents; kids are also becoming more comfortable with healthier foods. Look for items such a sweet potato fries, hummus and yogurt.

This is a step in the right direction and again shows the power the consumer has by voting with their pocketbook as this always grabs the attention of the food business.  That said these restaurants are businesses first and foremost so while the choices may be better (mass and nutrition usually have an inverse relationship) they are far from ideal.  But in a pinch it’s good to know that you have decent options to resort to.

More fruits and veggies

Quick-service restaurants have never been short on a few select vegetable and fruit offerings—apple slices for French fries; tomatoes, lettuce, and onions on burgers; and various items in salads—but customers will expect more fruit and vegetable variety on menus, the experts say.

“We’re seeing all kind of vegetables,” Olson says. For example, lettuce will no longer be confined to iceberg; romaine, field greens, and spinach are increasingly being used. Kale, a so-called super food, is also becoming more popular as a healthful option at some fast-casual restaurants and on college campuses.

The trend is also helping make kids’ meals healthier, Olson says. “School foodservice operators are turning vegetables into super heroes with kid-appealing names like Power Punch Broccoli and X-Ray Vision Carrots,” she says.

The food business is not just being driven purely by consumer demand; these operators are also being squeezed by rising costs for proteins.  Thus necessitating the need for more creative and lower cost options.  Quinoa anyone?

Fitness Trends

Youth Fitness & Sports Performance Will Continue to Boom

Parents are spending billions (with a B) on travel sports; billions on private instruction for their kids and the numbers are only going to keep climbing. This tells me the competition on the field of play will be more intense than ever.  It also means the rise of youth sport injuries will continue to trend upward. What this means to me is there will be an increased requirement for programs that address the overall athletic development of children.   This is essential to counteract the demands of sport specialization and the lack of free play.

There Will Be A Wave Of New Competition

In 2013 you'll see more franchise systems being sold to non-fitness pros as business opportunities and you'll see more medical professionals start adding fitness as a profit center to offset the diminishing revenue they're generating from insurance.  Access to a gym is no longer a barrier for most people with many franchises offering $10 monthly memberships.  Despite this access our nation is as out of shape as it has ever been.  Seek quality, as personal training is no longer just for the elite.  Just as you visit the dentist every 6 months to make sure your teeth don’t fall out you should have a bi-annual fitness check-up to ensure your knees or back don’t give out.  I have a strong sense that this will be a hot trend in 2013. And just as carefully as you would choose a dentist the search for the right fitness professional should be as thorough. There will be no shortage of opportunities for those motivated to take control of their own physical fitness, but you must choose wisely.

Final Thought

“Our 2013 findings are consistent with the growing importance of health in America — if not yet as a daily routine then certainly as a primary goal for three out of four consumers,” said Mike Weisman, president of the Values Institute at DGWB. “More than ever, health is the new prestige barometer — meaning that most Americans would rather be called healthy than wealthy. “

I could not agree with the above statement more, the greatest gift you can give yourself this year is something I call "deep health.”

Deep health doesn't come from a pill or an operation.

It comes from a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods.

It comes from sufficient exercise combined with genuine rest.

It comes from clean air and clean water.

And it comes from living with purpose and joy.

Make 2013 your best year yet and set your own trends.  If you have your health then you have everything you need to make this your reality.