Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Time flies when you're having fun -- My 200th Post

  It kind of snuck up on me. Number 200. I was preparing last Friday's post as usual, when I realized my next entry would be the 200th of Sabrina's Crossing. I thought, a number like that shouldn't get just any old entry.

  Such a milestone was deserving of a special blog. Some special thought and reflection. A little attention and celebration. So I put things to a halt, and started working on number 200.

  Roughly 19 months have passed since I started blogging. And it's passed very quickly.

The Questions
  I've never been one to jump into something without giving it a lot of thought. Blogging had been an idea for a while, but I had always hesitated, and not taken the jump. Not til September of 2011 (my first post). It was the start of a new basketball season for me: another new experience, a new country, a new team, and I had decided, a new blog (my post on why I finally decided to start blogging).

Blogging has been an interesting turn in my journey.
  I was unsure of several things when I started: how often I would write, what exactly I would write about, would I like it, would I be any good at it, and probably most importantly, would it last? On a day-to-day basis those are still the questions I ask myself. But nevertheless, I plug along.

  It's been a good experiment, and I've surprised myself to a certain extent. Not that I've kept up with it, because usually when I commit to something, I stick to it. But because of the importance I've put on writing and blogging.

  I will sit down for three to four hours at a time working on an entry. I'll put other things off until I've published for the day. When I've given myself a deadline, I hold to it, and want to get it done. So it has held me accountable while I entertain the hours of down time throughout my days in Europe. To week in and week out, put together two to three (hopefully) quality posts. It keeps my mind working. My blog gives me someone to 'answer' to.

The Posts
  Some topics and posts are easier to write about than others. And some are more personal than others. They vary from informative, to introspective and experienced-based.

  The more difficult entries are ones that are information heavy. I want to relay the important points, and do it in the most efficient way possible. Posts that are too long, won't get read. I know that. So the struggle lies in quickly getting to the point, and laying down the facts. Those are probably the most satisfying to write because I feel like I'm 'doing good', so to speak. I like passing along information that I think has value, and that usually goes unnoticed in our daily life.

Pictures can say it all.
  Travel blogs are fun. I don't have to rack my brain for creative ideas. For those, I rely on my memory and my camera. A picture's worth a thousand words, so many times, I let the pictures do the talking. 

  And of course there's basketball. For me, basketball posts are like second nature. I could write about basketball for days.

  I like varying my posts. Being well-rounded in my life, and in my writing (and in my basketball!), holds a great deal of value to me. I like the things I've been writing about, and I think that's also an important facet: to like what you're doing.

  The ability to change topics keeps things fresh for me to a certain extent. If I were to only write about one thing or another, I think the well would run dry, and I would get bored. Having a wide variety keeps things interesting for me. And hopefully keeps you interested. 

The Process
  I'm always looking for new things to write about, and I guess new ways to challenge myself. But I've also used my blog to think aloud at times. Vent frustrations, or ask questions. You could call it an online diary, but I would prefer to think of it as more-informative than therapeutic.

Working on some notes while on the road.
  I've settled into a nice little routine, and have gotten pretty adept at getting my entry mostly-written the night before I want to post it. My goal is to publish three times a week. And more often that not, I hit that goal.

  But I find myself always brainstorming, working on some graphic, or slightly changing my layout. So I put a lot of effort and energy into Sabrina's Crossing.

  Blogging has become fairly time consuming, and whether it's time well spent, who knows? But I enjoy it. And I'm learning. About me. About the things I'm writing about. And about the inter-workings of blogging, internet graphics, promoting, and the like.

  Other interests, outside of basketball, have come forward through my writing. Not too long ago, I thought I was a 'jock' and that was it. But there's a lot more to me than bouncing an orange ball. My blog has helped me express, and explore, those other interests. So I couldn't be happier that I finally made the jump into Sabrina's Crossing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rookie to Veteran

 Our scudetto dinner -- celebrating our championship!

  Somewhere along the line I went from rookie on the team, to team vet. The team 'baby', to team 'mom'. The young and spry one, with her whole career ahead of her, to the not-so-spry-one, with her career coming to a close.

  I don't know exactly where the transition point occurred, but I've been fully towards the side of 'experienced' for quite some time now.

  I look back on the things I did, the way I was as a rookie, or a younger player, and laugh a little. I recognize the ways I have changed as my career has progressed, and of course you think you've changed for the better.

  Even so, it's always fun to look back.

  One thing you always wish you could do is ease the growing pains of the the younger version of yourself. To educate her on a few things: the expectations on the court, the ways of the leagues, how to be better prepared, how to take care of her body, and living abroad in general.

  But I suppose that's the whole point of being a rookie. It's your time to learn. Nearly every experience is a new one. And no one can give you the answers. You have to figure it out for yourself, and adjust accordingly. You either figure it out, or you head home.

Mental Adjustments
Warming up for my first game as a pro!
  I was blessed with an amazing team my rookie year in Italy (Como). We had an incredible group of professionals who couldn't have been better role models for me. I was lucky to have them to learn from. And I think it was my two years in Como that really shaped me as a professional, and set the tone for the rest of my playing career.

  I looked up to my older, more-experienced teammates, and admired them a great deal. I remember wondering how they 'did it' on a day-to day basis. Their consistency. They were always there, physically and mentally. No matter what. I strived to match them.

  So between my rookie year in 2003-2004 and now, I've hopefully grown into a player the younger girls on my recent teams look at in a similar manner.

  I've never been the 'team mom' type, and I never will be. I'm not the rah-rah cheerleader. But I will lead by example.

La Comense strolling the streets in Sicily.
   As a rookie, I didn't understand the expectations that were on me as a player. I was happy to be on a successful team. I saw the team's success as my own success. But at some point, the team (president, management, coaches, sponsors) wanted a high individual return on their investment.

  It took me several years to figure out, especially as a foreigner, you have to produce, statistically speaking. If you're on a winning team, all is well. But the second your team loses and you're not meeting individual expectations, there will be hell to pay.

  It wasn't college anymore. We had a team system, but it wasn't nearly as strict as the one I had played in at Colorado. It took some time, and some adjusting, but after several rough patches, I got through it.

  I took everything on a day-to-day basis my first few years. I didn't see much of the big picture. If I wasn't playing well, was home sick, or had just had a spat with my coach, it was the end of the world. Now, I brush it off, and know things will bounce back in the other direction as long as I keep plugging along.
Celebrating our championship!

  I also went from from not understanding at thing, whether it'd be specific things in practice, how leagues/championships function, or just day-to-day life as an American in Europe.

  On the court, this where I relied on my teammates again. If I didn't understand (because of language), I had to pay extra attention to them, to figure out what was going on. Practice wasn't going to stop just for you. I eventually learned Italian, and didn't have to rely on watching to understand.

  But the same can be said for my on-the-court adjusting with every team I've ever been on (eight countries in 10 seasons means a lot of different languages!).

  I learned the importance of the league championship because of how my teammates reacted. We won the Italian Championship my rookie year. And I didn't quite understand the magnitude of it until I realized just how important it was to my teammates. It was rare. And the only championship I've won as a pro.

My team vets -- they showed me the ropes!
  Another mental shift was probably the most important one I made. It was what allowed me to make a career out of basketball. It was realizing it was okay for me to be a basketball player.

  Prior to understanding this, I felt pressure to being doing something more 'grown up', and to know exactly what I wanted to do when I was done playing. While in my head I thought, 'I am doing what I want to do'!

  Now, I understand that a career as basketball player is a short one. And it's not a career that everyone gets the opportunity to experience, so I am making the most of it. And while life after basketball is still a daunting one, I'll tackle it, just as I've tackled every other crossroads in my life. 
Anything For a Little Extra Sleep
  I remember timing, to the last possible second, when I'd have to leave the house for practice. Heaven forbid I get there too early. In Como, I'd get caught on a regular basis, at the train tracks on my way to the gym. And each time, I'd freak out that it'd make me late. Thankfully, I never was.

  Or timing my morning routine to a T, so I didn't have to get up a second too early. At some point I started setting my alarm two hours before practice, no matter what.

My German team in the oldest gym ever. At least it seemed like it.
  I used to look at, morning practice especially, as something you just had to 'get through'. Your body was tired. You were sleepy. It wasn't even a full practice. You just had to get through it for an hour or so, and then you could hurry back home, have lunch, and try to have a nap before evening practice later in the day.

  Now I look at any practice as a chance to get better. If I'm going to be there, I might as well either get a good workout in, or sharpen up my skills, and make it worth my time. Also, being ready for practice means getting there in plenty of time, so you no longer find me waiting until the last possible moment to leave my apartment.

  One rookie mistake I never made was being late to practice. Something like that is international, and I had been well-trained in my four years at Colorado.

Physical Adjustments
  Mental and physical adjustments go hand in hand. My first few years, I was very insecure as a player. I was unsure of my game, and how I was going to contribute to my team. Every week was different. I was inconsistent. And I felt the pressure to play better.

  Maybe as I grew to understand the expectations placed on me, I've grown to have 100% confidence in what I do, and how I play. I'm comfortable with what I do on the court, and the things that I bring to my team. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not. I just try to be the best player that I can be. 

Wolfenbüttel, Germany.
  This might go without saying, but like many rookies, I never stretched. Before, during, or after practice. Now, there's really not a time I'm not stretching. Ask my teammates. You have to take care of your body if you want to last in this profession.

  Another huge change has been my attitude about my conditioning. Until my third year as a pro, I never did any extra work during the season. Whatever we did in practice, I though, that was enough for me.

  Over time, I grew to take pride in my conditioning, and my body. I learned that my body was the way I earned a paycheck. And an unhealthy body wasn't going to do me any good.

  The same can be said for my eating habits. Across the board, I've become a much healthier person from the time I was a rookie, until now.

Off the Court
  Adjusting to life in Europe off the court had just as many bumps as my on-the-court adjustment did. In my first years abroad, I complained constantly about the things you couldn't get in Europe. The midday closures. How impossible it was to get anything done (it took a month to get a phone line -- and internet -- installed in my house, for example). I'd get 'America sick' very easily.

Adriatic Sea -- in Croatia.
  To be honest, I have no idea how I survived my first two years in Italy. For one, I had dial up internet (no Skype, etc)! And 10 TV channels (all in Italian). I guess that explains why I can speak some Italian. And again, a testament to my teammates.

  I think my life was much more structured my first few years as a pro. We had two-a-days every day, the entire season. This was my life: practice, eat, rest, eat, practice, eat, sleep. Then do it all over again the next day.

  These days, I try (try, being the operative word) not to sweat what I can't control. I appreciate the pace of life in Europe a whole lot more than I did when I first played in Italy. Things are much simpler. 

  I distinctly remember having countdowns (until the day I got to go home), and eagerly crossing days off the calendar. Sometimes the countdown started as high as 70 days! It wasn't that I disliked my time in Europe, it was that I felt that I was constantly 'missing out' on something since I was always gone.

Hanging with teammates in Poland.
  Now, I'm not really in any hurry. I've found ways to meaningfully make use of my days. And I no longer feel like I'm always missing out because I'm in Europe. I look at my experience here just as as valuable, if not more so, than anything I would be doing in the US.

  I remember the day I got my first pay check as pro. My coach was actually the one who pointed it out to me. Up until that point, it didn't dawn on me, that I was actually a professional basketball player. I loved the game, loved to play, and I was just proceeding with the next step in my career.

  And I've been extremely blessed to do so. I look at my years in Europe as an enormous time for individual growth. You learn to believe in yourself because it's just you out here. Day in, and day out, you're the only one you can really rely on.

  Though my ten seasons in Europe, I've probably experienced every scenario you can as a basketball player, positive and negative, on the court and off. I've learned to make due, adjust, and have had an overall positive experience, no matter what. And it's made me a better-prepared, more well-rounded person because of it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture.

  On several occasions, I've written about fresh produce, buying organic, and how to make organic food more affordable. We all are aware that fresh fruit and veggies aren't cheap.

  On the whole, quality -- 'healthy' -- foods are more expensive than prepackaged, processed foods. That's our food system right now. That's our reality.

  If we want to eat well, making a financial commitment is a necessity. You get what you pay for, and investing in our health is a smart one. Though it does seem public opinion, or the consumer, is slowly winning out. Prices are becoming more competitive. Just not as quickly as we'd like.

  But there are ways to get more out of our precious dollars. One of those ways is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

What Are CSAs?
  Joining a CSA is essentially investing in one of your local farms. You buy a 'share' before the growing season begins. And then throughout the season, you'll receive a box of fresh, locally grown, and quite often, organic, produce provided to you on a regular basis.

  Since you're getting your fruit and vegetables directly from the farmer, often times you're getting fresher, but cheaper produce. CSAs cut out the middle man.

  All CSA programs function a little differently: cost, delivery (method and frequency), crops, length of season, and how many people one share feeds, vary from program to program. But surely there is one that can meet you and your family's needs. No matter where you live, for example even in the heart of New York City, there are CSAs available to join!

Luscher Farms in Lake Oswego provides a CSA in my hometown.
  LocalHarvest.org has even more information about CSAs, and can help you locate a program near you. 

Expand Your Horizons
  Depending on where you live, crops will vary from place to place. For the most part, you'll get the staple foods, produce you're familiar with. But chances are you’ll also get some veggies you haven’t tried before. Week in and week out, your box of produce will be a surprise of sorts. You never know exactly what you're going to get! Don't worry however, as many programs include recipes to help you cook up the harvest.

  Some CSAs allow for a more hands-on experience. You can join a CSA that allows volunteers to help at the farm. If you have the time and interest, volunteering allows for a little appreciation and investment of a different kind! And I'm sure you'll learn a little something too.

Potential Draw Backs 
  Depending on your family's needs, for example, what you like to eat, and how much produce you go through on a weekly basis, you may or may not have to supplement extra produce with trips to the grocery store. I think it's best to expect that you will not get all of your produce needs taken care of with a share at a CSA. But it's not like you don't make frequent trips to the store anyway!

Map of potential CSAs in the US.
  The main draw back of a CSA is that you have to purchase your shares upfront (Shares usually cost between $400 and $600. Though some CSAs allow you to purchase 1/2 shares.). So at the time, it may not seem like it's a cost-effective way to get your fresh produce.

  (If the price sounds like something you can't do upfront, check with the CSA you're interested in, they may have a solution.)

  The money upfront is a necessity for the farm. CSA programs help farmers at the beginning of the season, when it's needed most, and sees them through the rest of the growing season.

  Unless you're a master budgeteer, it's difficult to estimate just how much you spend on produce on a weekly or monthly basis. If joining a CSA sounds like a good option for you and your family, check a local program out!

  Spring has already snuck up on us way too fast (though who's complaining?), and summer will be here before we know it. The time is now to start exploring seasonal CSAs to join! Have you ever joined a CSA? What was your experience like?

  Below you'll find links to CSA tips, and good questions to pose to the CSA you are thinking about joining. Let me know your thoughts and experiences!
The Farm Bill
Making Organics More Affordable
Supermarket Sweep
Which is Healthier, Organic or Conventional Produce?
Clean 15/Dirty Dozen Rundown
Clean Produce: Pesticide Removal

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Great Intangible -- Being a Teammate

This year's squad.

  When you're on the sideline, you tend to notice the little nuances about your team. You see the things that make it 'tick'. The good, the bad, the ugly. It amounts to being an outsider, with inside information.

  You see interactions and chemistry in a new way. Not being on the court during games and practices gives you a different perspective. The emotion of the game is taken out of it, so you can see things for what they are.

  It also makes you see and remember all the things it requires to be on a great team. And miss all the things you don't have.

  I guess it's true: "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

It's Not a Right
  I look at being on a team as a privilege. It's not a right. Especially as you grow older.

  As a kid, everyone is on a team. You sign up, you get a jersey. Easy as that. As you get older, maybe you have to try out. Teams get a more selective as the talent gets better and better. But as a pro, and even as a collegiate athlete, they ask you to be on their team.

The Intangibles
  I think there are two qualities that make or break your chances of being a member of a team as you get deeper and deeper into your playing career: 1) talent, of course, and 2) being a great teammate, having the intangibles.

  If you have both of those qualities, it's very likely you'll be asked to be a part of quite a few teams in your day. Your career will be a long one. There won't be a team out there that doesn't want you on their squad.

  If you're a talented athlete only, and not a stellar teammate, chances are you'll still be sought out quite often to be a part of a team. Pure talent overrides attitude and intangibles in many cases. But after time, your reputation will catch up with you, and the well will run dry. People, coaches, managers, etc will catch wind of your unwillingness to be a teammate first.

  On the contrary, if you're just an okay athlete, but a great teammate, your career will be just as long, if not longer. By being a great teammate, you can make up for any downfalls you have as a player. 

  What makes a great teammate?

Probably the best 'team' I've been a part of.
  Having a positive attitude is A, number one. I think it goes without saying, but you'd be surprised how often athletes are mired in negativity. Through thick and thin, a great teammate remains upbeat, and encouraging.

  Seasons are long, and there are a lot of ups and downs. Whether you're playing well, or not (or maybe not playing as much as you'd like). A great attitude can push you towards playing even better (or more).

  Looking from the outside, a negative attitude (pouting, disinterest, lack of effort, etc) is the fastest way to get yourself a selfish player label. 

Tireless Worker
  Great work ethic and positivity go hand in hand. And often times, they're both contagious. You talk, your teammates talk. You go out of your way to help a fallen teammate up, they're going to be more apt to do the same. You see your teammate working their tail off, you turn it up a few notches, to either match their effort, or surpass it.

  And a hard working team can't help but be successful. 

Make Your Teammates Look Good
  You make your teammates better players. I think it's a teammate's responsibility to do everything they can to help their other teammates succeed. Rotating over to help out on defense (there's nothing worse than seeing an opponent stroll in for an uncontested layin because no one rotated to help). Setting a solid screen (even if it hurts). Making a perfect pass, so all they have to do is put the ball in the bucket.

  Being a great teammate is also the willingness to go the extra mile (or kilometer, since I'm in Europe) for your teammates every time you step onto the court.

  Each member of a team has a role. No matter how big, or how small , for a team to be successful, those roles have to be fulfilled each and every time the ball goes up. You want to pull your own weight, do your job and not let your teammates down.

  Look at your role as your job. In order to do your job, first, you need to know your role. What is expected of you? What are your team's strategies, both offensively and defensively? To me, letting down a trusting teammate is the worst feeling on the basketball court.

Intangibles lead to celebrations -- Como.
Team First
  Putting the success of your team before your individual success. Are you trying to win the game, or are you trying to score 20 points?

  Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little personal success for the betterment of the team. Whether it'd be playing fewer minutes, making the extra pass, taking a tough defensive assignment, or maybe playing a different role than the one you initially had in mind (all the while keeping a good attitude), there are numerous ways to sacrifice for the good of your team.

  You cannot play with yourself, and only yourself, in mind. If you do, you might as well go play tennis, or golf.

  Through all these elements, you and your teammates develop a trust. A trust that you'll be there when the chips are down. Whether you're tired, hurting, or on the contrary, completely healthy, you'll be there. They can count on you, and you can count on them. It has to go both ways.

  And trust, to me, is the crucial key to playing on a successful team. But it all starts from you striving to be a great teammate first.

  It's not always easy, but it'll be well-worth it!

  Playing on a team, and having great teammates, is a special situation. I think I've taken it for granted when my teams have had 'it'. But not every team has it -- where each member is striving to be a better teammate. It's what separates good teams from bad. And great teams from good.

  But it's those the teams, those seasons, you remember with a smile.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Produce Clean Up: Pesticide Removal?

Cleaning our produce is a must!

  Last week while refreshing both my memory and yours on the ins and outs of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen, I came to a realization:

   I do a terrible job washing my produce!

  No matter if we buy organic or conventional (chemical) produce, there's still a great need to wash it before we eat it. While organic produce rids us of most pesticide worry, the necessity to wash all our fruits and vegetables remains ever-present.

  Whether it'd be washing away pesticides, dirt, germs, bacteria or all of the above, we need to clean our produce prior to biting into it. I know I am guilty, from time to time, of grabbing an apple, running it under water for .2 seconds (or sometimes not at all), buffing it on a towel or my shirt, and chomping into it. Actually, I used to do it all the time!

  But really, what does that do? Next to nothing.

  We can wash pesticide residues and bacteria off. But it definitely takes a little more than a rinse and a buff.

  Following a few healthy habits can potentially reduce pesticide residue by 75%, and lower virus and bacteria presence by 90-95%. And all it takes is a few more minutes, and a couple extra scrubs!

The Roads Our Produce Travels
  Pesticides are meant to survive through rainy weather and watering, that's why farmers use them!  So obviously all pesticide residue cannot be removed, nor can they be removed when they've seeped through the skin, and into the fruits and vegetables themselves (why buying organic produce is ideal).

Pesticides: can we get rid of them?
  And what about viruses and bacteria the produce picks up as it is transported from farm to grocery store? Sitting in bins, being touched by countless hands, think about where our healthy snack or dinner salad has been!

  I don't know why, but that had never really dawned on me til now. But as I think about it, I realize just how important washing my produce can be.

  Let's make our fruits and veggies even healthier (and probably taste better) by ditching the things we can get rid of!

The Study
  Not shockingly, simply running our fruit and veggies under water for a few seconds really isn't very effective. But it doesn't require too much more effort to make all the difference in the world.

  A comparison of pesticide removal methods (on 196 samples of lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes) at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in 2000 showed that rinsing the produce under tap water for one minute, and treating produce with either a 1% solution of Palmolive dish soap or a fruit and vegetable wash, all produced roughly the same results.

  Tap water rinsing, and soap and wash products all 'significantly reduced' residues of 9 of 12 pesticides. The study went on to detail that water temperature was not the key, but friction was. Scrubbing the produce under tap water is likely the most effective method, and is likely most responsible for removing pesticide residues.

Careful cleaning's important!
Suggested Cleaning Method
  How can we effectively wash pesticides, bacteria, and virus traces off our fruit and veggies?

  Overall, the most effective method, according to the research, is to wash, and lightly scrub, produce with a vinegar solution (one part vinegar to three parts water), and then rinse with tap water for at least 30 seconds. The vinegar mixture reduced bacteria by 90%, repelled viruses by about 95%, while reducing residues of 75% of the pesticides.

  Keeping a spray bottle handy with your vinegar solution is a convenient way to make rinsing more efficient.

Effective Methods:
  -Mix 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar (3:1 ) in a spray bottle.
  -Spray on fruits and veggies to get rid of pesticide residue.
  -Rinse with water after spraying.
  -Fill a bowl with water and add 1/8 to 1/2 cup of vinegar, depending on the size of your bowl.
  -Place your fruits and veggies in the bowl.
  -Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with water.

  At the very least, rinse and scrub!

  There are obvious advantages that carefully cleaning our produce has: not ingesting pesticides, and removal of many harmful bacteria, fungi, and some viruses. I'm a little ashamed that I've never really thought of these benefits until recently.

  Let's give our produce, and our own health, a little extra attention, and make our healthy snacks even healthier!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Season Cut Short?

Warming up vs. Nice.

  Last week I made a tough decision. After taking two steps forward, and subsequently falling three steps back each and every week, my coach and I decided to shut things down for the rest of the month. Possibly for the season. And quite likely, for good.

  The last couple of months have been strange. I initially 'tweaked' my back the first week in January. I guess I took it for granted, because I thought it was just a run of the mill tweak. I'd be fine in a few days, and my season would carry on, as usual. But the last two months have been anything but usual.

  While I can physically play, every morning I wake up to a question mark. And the answer generally depends on what I've done the day before.

  I run, I'm fine. I play basketball, I hurt. Obviously as a basketball player, that puts me in a bad situation. It's not a good one physically or psychologically.

  One or two days of practice leads to a lot muscle tightness and back pain. So I'm forced to sit out a couple more days of practice. By game day, I'm neither physically prepared nor mentally -- because I'm unsure if I'll even be able to play.

Nice pre-game.
  When I have played (two games since Christmas), I haven't played well. I'm hesitant, and anticipating, bracing for the twinge and tightness in my back to come. And that's not beneficial for anyone, not me or my team. Nor is it fun.

  That's been the cycle for the past several weeks. It's not fair for anyone involved: my team and teammates, my coach, and me.

  So that's why the decision had to be made. No basketball through March. And then we'll see.

  It's difficult for me to say 'I'm not playing' without even knowing how I'll feel on any particular day. But I've tried the alternative, with no improvement, and it's only lead to more discomfort and frustration.

  It's also difficult to basically tell my teammates I won't be on the court with them for a while. I feel like I've abandoned them.

  It's a little (or a lot) strange to be able to lead my everyday life as if nothing were wrong physically. I just can't play basketball. And that hasn't been part of my everyday life since before I can remember.

My spot behind the huddle, not in the huddle.
  I can't deny that I'm not thinking about the future. Not future seasons, however. About my life after the ball stops bouncing. I want to live a healthy, active life long after my career playing basketball is over. So my future health is what carries the most weight right now.

  I have a long history with my back. It goes back to my college days, and it is always a concern. If something else were ailing? Maybe I wouldn't be as cautious, as protective, as I'm being.

  Thankfully, I have a coach who understands my feelings and has my back, so to speak, 100%. Had he not been supportive, I'd probably be out on the court, playing through pain.

Player introductions.
  Even if I am done for the season, I'm truly undecided about any future seasons. Though in my heart I feel like this will be my last season as a pro. But I've learned to never say never (I never would have thought this is how season number 10 would go!), and I have to leave the door cracked open, even if just a little bit!

  You'd like to think you'll have one memorable last hurrah of sorts. But not many are lucky enough to have it happen that way (even MJ messed his up!). I'll just have to rely on the thousand and thousands of days spent on the court as my memorable moment.

  Those are the breaks! Basketball's a physical game. Both in the way it's played, and in the demands it places on your body. So injuries happen. And they happen when they want. They're never at the 'right' time, and never can be predicted.

  I'll focus on getting my back and core as healthy and as strong as possible, and re-visit playing in a couple weeks. But without question, I have things in proper perspective!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fitness on the Go

Bags are packed, where are you headed?

  I don't travel a ton. Sure, I'm away from 'home' a lot. But I would say I'm in a perpetual state of being 'home away from home', as opposed to traveling.

  When I do travel, usually it's long distances (across the pond, for instance!).

  Many of you travel on a regular basis for work, while some of you lucky ducks are able to travel frequently for pleasure.

  No matter the reason, traveling can put the hurt on your health.

  Flying is tiring. Being on a plane zaps your energy, and unless it's a short trip, it kills your day and puts you out of routine. Even road trips are exhausting!

  More often than not, once you get to your destination, you don't feel like doing much of anything. And do I even need to mention the selection of airport/plane food we have to choose from?

  While we might enjoy our destination once we arrive, it's getting there that provides us with some stumbling blocks. So today I offer up two websites that will help keep your health at the forefront, even as you travel!

Fitness While We Fly
  I've often wondered, usually during long, boring layovers, why there aren't gyms in airports. I know I would use it to pass the time during an extended layover, if one was available.

  I don't know about you, but I get a little stir crazy when I have to sit too long. After being on a plane for a few hours, and knowing I have to go back on a plane, the last thing I want to do is sit even longer. So to appease my nerves and my legs, many times I find myself walking the concourses. Whether I'm bored, tired of reading or listening to music, sometimes I just need to get up and move. Before I find myself stuck in the air again, I try to move my body as much as possible.

Usual airport 'entertainment' -- music and coffee.
  But wandering the airport terminal isn't exactly exciting either. Usually it just leads to stumbling into a Starbucks or an ice cream shop for an unnecessary purchase.

  For those of you who think like me, and long for airport fitness centers, apparently they exist. But we just never knew about them! Or I didn't, anyway.

  There's a website that posts listings of airport gyms, exercise centers, and fitness clubs that are either inside airport terminals, or within a short distance of the airport (in the US and Canada).

  I'm not so sure about the latter, however. I probably wouldn't travel outside of the airport to hit the gym between flights. It sounds too stressful (and who wants to have to go through security again, right?).

  But a fitness center or exercise classes, inside the airport? I'd be game for that!

  Instead of sitting in the airport lounge, wandering the concourse halls for hours, or spending gobs of money on airport food and drink, why not hit the gym? I think it's a great idea.

  I'd imagine they charge you a pretty penny for use of the gym facilities, but don't we already spend ridiculous amounts of money in the airport? This would be money better spent, and much better for us! It'd be a great mid-day pick-me-up, and a fabulous way to boost your energy during a long travel day.

  Nothing would make me happier than being able to squeeze a workout in while I'm killing time during a layover.

  Too bad there aren't a few more actually inside the airport (from glancing quickly at the website), and not a short taxi ride away. Maybe they'll start popping up more frequently in airport terminals, who knows!

  Obviously, airport gyms wouldn't be something I'd want to use every time I fly. Sometimes you do just want to veg out and take it easy. But isn't it nice to know you have the option?

  My next travel tip is something you can use once you've reached your destination.

Trail/Route Finder
  Imagine you're new to an area, and want to explore some hiking, biking, or running (even kayaking!) trails. Or maybe you're traveling, and want to get outside for an adventure day on the trails. Here's the website for you: http://www.trails.com/.

Searching for trails in Boulder, CO.
  Punch in the zip code you wish to search, and up pops a map with all the trails within short distance of the location.

  You're provided with the trail length, potential hazards, topography information, and a short summary. You're also able to view the trail map.

  If you find yourself in a rut, tired of doing the same trails and routes over and over again, this can be a great resource to help you find a new activity/route to explore.

  There's a similar website, from USA Track & Field, that allows you to search (by location and trail length) a huge database to discover new running/walking routes. It relies on users to add routes, so if you have a good trail in your city, add it to the collection!

  For me, if you're in an unfamiliar area, it's better to explore an already-proven route. You might not feel comfortable heading out on a run or a walk in an unknown place. But with these trail/route finders, you can do a little research before you head out, and see what you're getting yourself into!

  No matter if we're in the comfort of our own homes, or out seeing the world, our health should be near the top of our list of priorities. I think these two websites enable us to do just that. Pretty handy tools, as far as I'm concerned!