Friday, March 8, 2013

Body Mind Mastery

This post will be a review of the book Body Mind Mastery by Dan Millman.  Within the pages of this book Millman discusses the importance of a strong mind to a sound body, the benefit of maintaining a balance between your sport and life, and what he believes are the secrets to achieving success in your life through your sport or career. Most of the book draws connections to sports such as golf, tennis or gymnastics (The author was internationally recognized gymnast in his twenties) however his ideas are easily applicable to other areas of the reader’s life.

Body Mind Mastery is split into three parts.  In the first part Millman discusses what he believes are the natural laws that the reader needs to follow to stay balanced.  Although his writing is sometimes abstract there are a lot of good takeaways from this section.  It seems the underlying theme of part one is slow and steady progress, or, progressive overload.  He discusses how events in your life are influenced through mental, physical and emotional pathways and each of these three must be understood and mastered to achieve long term success.  In the second part, Millman’s writing is less abstract and probably most useful as is the first chapter of the third part where he goes into depth on methods of practice to help develop the mental, physical, and emotional skills discussed earlier in the book.

At times Millman’s writing can come off as extreme, for instance in the third section he discusses the future of sport, citing that competition is bad and future games will be void of this characteristic.  Although it is understandable in context why he would say this, competition can be a terrific part of sport and life and often brings out the best in people.  It is important when reading this book that you keep an open mind, don’t get bogged down in some of the specifics of his writing but instead to take his concepts and practices for how they can impact your own life.

From his website,

 "Dan Millman, a former world champion athlete, coach, martial arts instructor, and college professor, is author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior (adapted to film in 2006), and numerous other books read by millions of people in 29 languages. Dan teaches worldwide and has influenced people from all walks of life, including leaders in the fields of health, psychology, education, business, politics, sports, entertainment and the arts. Dan and his wife, Joy, live in Northern California. His most recent book is The Four Purposes of Life.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recovery and Regeneration

-Strength and Conditioning makes us better... Right? 


-But I feel like I would play pretty bad if I tried to compete right after a session of lifting and conditioning. So why does strength and conditioning make us better.

-What you should be asking is WHEN does strength and conditioning make us better.

-Ok... so when does strength and conditioning make us better?

It makes us better IN BETWEEN workouts! Through REST and REGENERATION!  When you practice, lift, compete, we damage our muscles and the surrounding tissue.  This damage can be a good thing and if we deal with it properly it will help us adapt to the demands of our sport.  This repair and adaptation is really what makes us better and this happens after we train as we rest before the next workout. 

First and foremost getting a good nights sleep is a must in the reparation process.  As we sleep our body releases certain hormones, specifically growth hormone, which plays an integral role in  many bodily functions such as increasing muscle size, increasing bone density, and fat burning. 

The second component of recovery is making sure we provide our body with the right nutrition.  To start out, remember to follow the Colonials Strong Healthy Eating Guidelines.  This will get you on the right path for proper nutrition.  Remember to have a balanced intake of foods coming from a wide variety of sources.  Here are some ways food can help with recovery:
  • Fats in foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fish oil help inhibit inflammation and decrease that soreness you are feeling.
  • Eating a complete lean protein at each meal will provide your body with the building     blocks it needs to repair muscle.
  • All of those fruits and vegetables you are eating contain vitamins and minerals that play     integral roles in metabolism, cellular health and the structural maintenance of your body.
The last but just as important portion of recovery is your active rest and regeneration program.  These exercises and routines are designed to help initiate the recovery process, bring your body back down from its stressed, active state, and most importantly help clear your head and ease your mind.  There are a lot of ways we can go about this regeneration process here are a number of examples:
  • Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy treatments can be either hot baths, cold baths or both.  Hot baths will increase blood flow to the treated area to help clear waste materials and bring in new nutrients, however the heat can also increase inflammation in some instances.  Cold baths decrease blood flow and will inhibit inflammation.  Both are beneficial and it is important to take into consideration when your next training session will be when you are choosing to do a cold or hot bath.
  • Soft Tissue Therapy: This is most commonly done with a foam roller, massage stick, or various balls used for more localized points of tension and stress.
  • Lower Body Elevation and Breathing Exercises: This is usually done by resting the legs up against a wall to help flush any pooled blood and waste material out of the legs.  This can be coupled with by breathing deeply making the belly rise and fall to assist with venous return and relaxation.
  • Flush Rides:  Low intensity exercise post game or practice can help steadily bring heart rate down, increase circulation and provide a time to relax and reflect on the previous competition.
  • Basic Stretching: A post competition/practice stretching program can help restore length and tissue quality to the muscle as well as kickstart your body’s relaxation and regeneration processes.

Remember, strength and conditioning is vital to our success as athletes but we walk a fine line because leaving this damage untreated and unable to recover can result in poor performance and an increased risk of injury.  So remember all of the components of rest and regeneration and be consistent in treating your body and allowing for optimal recovery after every training session and competition.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Break

Why Do We Lift

Why do we come in at 6 o’clock in the morning, roll out on stiff tubes that remind us of muscles we didn’t think we had, lift weights that challenge those newly rediscovered muscles to their brink and then run, jump, bike, swim or push sleds that would put the best reindeer to shame on a daily basis?  Why do we come in day in and day out pushing ourselves beyond what we thought was our limits? Why? Because we know, that through all our hard work we will emerge as individuals and as a team better than what we were before.  It is through these challenges and perseverance that we develop the character and strength to overcome any obstacle in front of us both in sport and in life.  And for this we applaud you.  All of us at George Washington commend you for the success you have achieved over the last semester.

Your improvements have not gone unnoticed.  We see you everyday in the weight room, on the practice field and in the academic arena putting in the effort to improve.  This semester has been one of the best we have seen in the Colonials Strong Competition and it’s clear that these gains have translated into other realms beyond the weight room.  We have built an amazing foundation and now is time to capitalize on these gains.  As most of you leave for home this week, it’s so important that we recognize the critical point you all are at.

To be more specific, the reason why we lift is to put stress on our bodies.  To stress our body to the point it must respond.  And Adapt.  By putting this stress on our body we develop new muscle, new paths from our brain to our muscles to be able to jump higher, sprint faster, strike a ball harder, and push further than our opponent.

Atrophy.  It is the wasting of muscle.  The decrease in size and production of muscle due to a number of factors, none more devastating to you athletes than inactivity.  If we don’t continue to move at the rate we have been, atrophy will begin to set in.  In fact, in only one or two weeks of inactivity, your muscles will start to adapt to their new, less stressful environment and weaken.  Workouts ended two weeks ago, what are your muscles adapting to right now?

You have all come a long way, we have put in countless hours to develop athletic bodies prepared to handle the rigors of competition and this break is a pivotal point in your training.  Please, do not let your hard work be for nothing, continue to train, continue to push yourselves and if you find yourself struggling continue to look towards your teammates and your strength coach for support.  We are all here for you and will do everything in our power to help you reach your goals.  Keep training and keep taking care of your bodies through nutrition and recovery.  The time is here, the place is now.

Have a wonderful break, stay strong, stay smart, stay hungry

Ben, Paul, Brandi, Matt & Dan

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Hopefully everyone has made it or is making it back to friends and family for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  We want to take a minute to say thanks to all of the George Washington Athletics staff and the student athletes who make our jobs as fun as they are.  Further more we are thankful to have each other. Thank you Ben, Paul, Brandi,  our GA’s Matt, & Dan, and our interns Joe, Logan, Morgan, Josh, Bo, Addison, Earl, you guys are the best.

Most importantly we are thankful for our friends and family whom we go home to every day.  It is so nice to be together with all of them this weekend, don’t take it for granted.  And we are thankful to have food on the table tonight and best of all such healthy food!  Remember as your sitting down to eat this evening to choose wisely.  Look for protein (turkey), carbohydrates (sweet potato), and veggies (greens, beans).

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eating At The Marvin Center

At first glance, eating right on campus may come as a challenge to many. However we are very fortunate to have numerous restaurants in the area offering some very healthy options and perhaps the best location of all is at our own Marvin Center.  As most of you know the Marvin Center houses a number of dining options many of which offer some fantastic meals that will keep you eating healthy breakfast lunch and dinner.

Before we get into specifics let’s review some basic guidelines that you should endeavor to include in all of your meals regardless of where you chose to eat:

     -Include a lean protein such as chicken, lean beef, fish, yogurt, eggs, soy products
     -Include a serving or two of vegetables. One serving is about the size of your fist
     -Look for quality carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and whole grain breads & pastas
     -Include a variety of fats such as olive oils, avocados, nuts and nut butters

Now, here are some of our favorite meals:


-All of the chicken and tofu sandwiches are great midday meals
-The lettuce wraps are a good option if looking for a lower carbohydrate meal


-Look for the made to order pasta dishes and add a protein(chicken) and some veggie toppings

Auntie Anne’s

 -This is really not a great option.  Avoid in most cases.

Simply to Go

-There are some great options for fruit and nut trail mixes and bars here.
-Try and avoid the bottled beverages that include high sugar contents

Metro Diner

-Made to order grilled items are usually great options
-Add veggies to your egg platters in the morning
-Add nuts and fruit to your oatmeal

The Coffee Stop

-Remember that coffee will make you dehydrated so be sure to drink more water if you order
-Pastries are not a good source of carbohydrates
-Watch coffee drinks that contain high quantities of sugar


-Salads made up of a variety of options are always good
-Try and add protein to these salads
-Watch out for high calorie dressings such as ranch and thousand island, stick to balsamic vinaigrettes and olive oils


-Fresh Asian cuisines can be great but keep an eye out for high calorie/high sodium sauces
-You can buy a large stir fry full of veggies and proteins, eat half for lunch and save the rest for dinner!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

It’s In The Details

It’s In The Details

Soon your next competition will be upon you.  And when you step out onto that stage there will be dozens of factors out of your control.  The surface might not be right.  You may not agree with the pace or the officiating or your opponent may be playing better than you expected.  None of these factors can be helped and fretting over them is worthless.  More importantly, it’s unnecessary if you took the steps beforehand to prepare.  What you can control day in and day out is your effort and attention to detail!  At each practice, each training session and throughout the day how focused you are on completing each repetition and each drill with the utmost diligence and urgency will pay dividends in competition.

We should move often and we strive to move well.  Doing this means not just going through the motions.  It means attacking the ball as hard as you would if your opponent was on the other side.  It means hitting every line you need to hit in conditioning and executing each rep and each movement precisely and with vigor.  Focus on what coach is asking of you and focus on how you are moving through your space.

Aim to do more than what is expected of you.  Reach the line ahead of time and when you do, turn around to help your teammates do the same.  Together as we train we can be stronger and faster than our opponents or we can stay stagnant and leave it up to the factors that are out of our control.  Be detailed in your execution on and off the field.  Know that the precision we have in our nutrition and on rest days will help us reach further in training.  Don’t let anyone decide who will win but you and your teammates.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Performance Culture

Creating a Culture of Performance

As student athletes at George Washington we all strive for Respect, Determination, and Commitment in our lives.  We work hard on the field, in the weight room, and the classroom.  But what happens when we get home at the end of the day? When we wake up in the morning and when we go home at the end of the semester.  Great athletes and great teams often find success through creating a culture around their sport and this should extend to athletic performance as well.  Don’t let your hard work go to waste because you neglect your body when you aren’t engaged in your sport.  This year let’s all strive to create a culture of performance in our lives:

Eating Right   

Maintaining good nutrition is critical for human performance, not only in athletics but in the classroom as well.  It should be a focal point for every one of you, and something we can achieve together.  Absorb the information you read in this blog, throughout our facilities, and always seek out the healthy option.  In doing so let’s make sure we are their to support each other in making these decisions as well.  As a team find ways to eat right.  Have team dinners, meet for breakfast and lunch at healthy restaurants and always make sure everyone is held accountable for what they’re eating.

Rest and Recreation

Like nutrition, proper rest can significantly improve your ability to succeed in life.  Life as a student athlete is demanding and resting and recovering properly will help you stay strong throughout the year.  Seek out recovery strategies, ask your coaches for advice on how to properly recover and help ensure you and your fellow Colonials are recovering right.  On weekends and school breaks find or create social activities that promote recovery NOT impede it.  Get moving, go hiking, dancing, bowling you get my gist. Finally find or create activities that avoid alcohol. It is one of the most detrimental substances to rest and your health around.

Ultimately we are all here to succeed and help each other succeed.  Don’t lose the determination to do so, respect your bodies day in and day out, and stay committed to working hard and improving at your sport and within your lives.