Saturday, March 13, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I have a confession to make. Each day, ingest at least 10 pills that I think will improve my health or performance. Inside my bathroom mirror, there is a row devoted solely to supplements. There’s a bottle of omega 3 fish oil – good for muscle repair, a daily probiotic for digestion, vitamin d for immune health and bone density, glucosamine for joint repair. The list could go on. And I’m not alone, either. Nearly half of Americans take at least one multivitamin per day. In fact, the vitamin industry as a whole makes $20 billion per year.
But are these vitamins and supplements really contributing to my health, or am I and others just a victim of good marketing and the placebo effect?
About a year ago, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute paid for a study to determine whether daily multivitamins could reduce the incidence of major illness in postmenopausal women. This study was the largest of its kind, tracking the health of 162,000 female participants over a period of eight years. According to the report:
“During the eight-year study period, 9,619 cases of breast, colorectal, endometrial, renal, bladder, stomach, lung or ovarian cancer were reported, as well as 8,751 cardiovascular events and 9,865 deaths. The study found no significant differences in risk of cancer, heart disease or death between the multivitamin users and non-users."
What does this mean for you? Well, for one, it means that you could save some money, if you wanted to, at least on multivitamins. Instead, opt for getting your vitamin content from the foods that you eat: dark leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, etc.
To be honest, though, I think I’m going to keep sticking to my vitamin regimen, and here’s why. First, I don’t take a daily multivitamin. I find that, in most multivitamins, the “A to Z” vitamins that each pill contains are rarely 100% of what you need for the day. If I’m going to be eating a healthy diet, then most of that content will come from my food. I do, however, take specific vitamins – for instance, vitamin d – because I feel that my body could use an extra amount. Whether the “issues” I refer to are real or imagined is definitely up for debate, however, I can honestly say that I feel better when I take my vitamins, and that’s worth the money spent.
In his book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, author Michael Pollan writes that it is not so important to take a multivitamin/vitamins daily, but to be the kind of person who takes their vitamins. Take an active role in your health. Be concerned about what you put in your body and how to improve it.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Most of us watched the women’s skiing events during the Winter Olympics to see the famous athletes like Lindsey Vonn and Maria Reisch try to medal. On Friday, I turned to the women’s slalom, hoping to catch a glimpse of Vonn. Instead, I saw a racer who has stuck with me for the last few days.
Her name is Sarah Schleper, and she roars before each race. See for yourself:
Schleper, is 32 and a four-time Olympian, but she’s never medaled. She’s made it to the world championships, but only won once. She is one of those athletes who always shows up and fights it out, but will never get the kind of recognition that a skier like Vonn has. Her presence at the 2010 Olympics was by no means guaranteed, either. In 2007, she missed the entire season due to a torn ACL. In 2008, she took the season off for the birth of her son, Lasse. The amount of determination and drive it must have taken to get back into Olympic-qualifying form – not only as a formerly injured athlete, but also as a young mother – is incredible.
Her story, itself, is touching, but it was Schleper's roar that had the most impact on me. Immediately before Sarah starts each race, she lets out that loud, uninhibited scream. A lion, or a cheetah roar, which gets her in the right mindset for each race. I’ve seen hundreds of pre-event rituals, but never one like this. It was a powerful statement from a female athlete, an action that both projects and also summons confidence.
I think that the concept of the “lion roar” can be applied to any sort of race or challenge that we face as athletes. If you want to win or succeed, you have to put it all out there, unabashedly. No matter what starting line you find yourself on – don’t ever apologize for your presence among your fellow competitors. If you don’t feel like you have the “right” to be standing with them at the beginning, then you’ll never beat them to the finish. Let out your roar, whether quiet or loud, and use what’s inside of you to carry you through.