Nutrition, High-Tech Style

My son’s fitness trainer had a little chat with him last week about his nutritional needs and how best to meet them.  My son is growing taller but is still lacking in the “cushioning” category – i.e. he’s all lean body mass with very few physical reserves or extra fat on his frame.  His tennis coach (and his mother!) thinks he needs to bulk up a bit in order to have enough stamina to withstand the physical demands of competing in the Boys 18s.

The trainer told him, based on his height and weight, he needs to be consuming 115 grams of protein EVERY DAY.  Since neither he nor I had any idea how that translated to real-world eating, we turned to the Apple iTunes Store, figuring there HAD to be an app for that.

We found a free app called Calorie Counter that does everything my son needs – he enters all meal and snack items with amounts eaten, and the app tracks and totals his fat, carbohydrate, protein, and calorie intake for the day.  It even has foods listed by popular restaurants’ menu names (including Panera and Olive Garden – do the rest of you eat there as much as we do???) which makes tracking easier when we’re traveling for a tournament.  He can also add his physical activity for each day so he gets a calories-in-calories-out summary.  Then, he can email the data to his trainer for accountability purposes.

The really cool thing is that now my son can see, in black and white, which food choices help him reach his 115-grams-per-day protein goal more quickly and which slow him down.  For example, this morning he ate 2 pieces of French Toast with peanut butter and maple syrup before heading off to school for a total of 19.2 grams of protein.  Compare that to yesterday’s breakfast of a toasted bagel with cream cheese, lox, and onions with a glass of orange juice for a total of 33.24 grams of protein.  Both were filling but the bagel breakfast got him way closer to his daily protein intake goal.

I figure my kid isn’t the only one who needs a little help nutrition-wise.  And, anything he can do on his iPhone is more likely to GET done, if you know what I mean.  If you’ve found any other nutrition or fitness apps you’d like to share, please add them in the Comments box below.  Happy tracking!

Advocating for Your Child

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

We parents are our children’s best and most important advocates.  That applies to school.  That applies to doctors.  And that applies to tennis.

Every now and then, you and your junior tennis player will come up against a rule – or an official’s interpretation of a rule – that doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the child.  The rule may pertain to rest time between matches or to alternative scoring or to suspension points.

Two years ago, my son was playing in a Bullfrog (designated) tournament out of state.  It was the first really hot weekend of the year, and my son was scheduled to play 3 backdraw matches that day with an hour rest between matches.  After the first match, which lasted 2 1/2 hours and went 3 sets, I asked the tournament official if my son could have some extra time so he could refuel and rehydrate before his next match.  The official gave him 15 minutes on top of the one-hour mandated rest period.  I made my son a peanut butter sandwich to eat right away and gave him a cold PowerAde as well.  He went out and played – and won – the second match, also in 3 sets, but then had only 1 hour before his 3rd match of the day.  Once again, I asked the official for extra time so my son could have a proper meal and time to digest it before hitting the court again.  Again, the official gave him only 15 extra minutes.  We rushed to a nearby sub shop and picked up a turkey sandwich, no mayo (!), which my son gobbled down quickly.  He went back on the court to play and began to look a little “off” pretty early into the match.  In fact, one of the roving officials came over to find me and suggested my son go ahead and retire the match due to heat illness.  I tried to get my son to quit, but he wouldn’t – he said he felt okay to continue.  Finally, in the 2nd set, the official insisted that he come off the court and retire, which he did, thankfully.

It turned out that every single boy who had to play 3 matches that day either lost or retired during their 3rd match.  It was just too much tennis in that heat!

Once we got back home, I wrote to the head of Junior Competition for my section and shared our experience with him.  He advised me that, next time, I could use his name and insist on at least as much rest time as the length of the previous match.  He told me that I needed to be my son’s advocate and make sure he wasn’t put into a situation that would jeopardize his health or well-being.

Why are we parents so afraid to question the rules or the officials, especially when our children are involved?  When you think about, it’s really pretty ridiculous.  We need to insist that our children’s health is taken into account, first and foremost.  We need to speak with our section’s leadership to suggest rule changes to ensure our children’s safety, and then we need to hold the leadership accountable for making those changes.  We need to be the voice of reason when, oftentimes, there is no good reason behind the rules or policies.  A tennis match is just a tennis match.  Our children are depending on us.