“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”
John Wooden

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

26 August 2014

When Ronald M Krauss decided, in 2000, to review all the evidence purporting to show that saturated fats cause heart disease, he knew that he was putting his professional career at risk. Krauss is one of the top nutrition experts in the United States, director of atherosclerosis research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and adjunct professor of nutritional studies at the University of San Francisco at Berkley. But challenging one of his field’s most sacrosanct beliefs – that the fats in meat, cheese and butter are bad for health – was a near-heretical act.

A few years earlier, when a colleague of Krauss’s had merely tried to speak about his positive findings regarding the high-fat Atkins diet, he was met with jeers and derision. One member of the audience yelled “I am absolutely disgusted that the [government] would waste my money on a study on the Atkins diet” – to the applause of many.

Challenging any of the conventional  wisdom on dietary fat has long been a form of professional suicide for nutrition experts. And saturated fats, especially, are the third rail. But Krauss persevered and concluded in 2010, after reviewing all the scientific literature, that saturated fats could not be said to cause heart disease. In March, another group of  scientists, including faculty from Cambridge and Harvard, came to the same conclusion after conducting a similar “meta-analysis”. These were stunning results. It seemed that saturated fat, our principal dietary culprit for decades, had been unfairly convicted.

Yet the truth is there never has been solid evidence that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be true because nutrition policy was derailed over the past half-century by personal ambition, bad science, politics, and bias.

Recipe for success: Vilijamur StefanssonRecipe for success: Vilijamur Stefansson (Corbis) 

Our fear of saturated fats began in the 1950s when Ancel Keys, a pathologist at the University of Minnesota, first proposed that they raised cholesterol and therefore caused heart disease. Keys was an aggressive, outsized personality with a talent for persuasion. He found a receptive audience for his “diet-heart hypothesis” among public-health experts who faced a growing emergency: heart disease, a relative rarity three decades earlier, had skyrocketed to be a leading cause of death. Keys managed to implant his idea into the American Heart Association and, in 1961, the group published the first-ever guidelines calling for Americans to cut back on saturated fats, as the best way to fight heart disease. 
The US government adopted this view in 1977 and the rest of the world followed. But the evidence backing these guidelines was weak. Mainly, it amounted to Keys’s own “Seven Countries Study”, which purported to show a link between the consumption of saturated fats and heart disease among 13,000 men surveyed in the US, Japan and Europe. Critics have pointed out that this study violated several basic scientific norms. For one, Keys did not choose his countries randomly but instead selected only those likely to prove his beliefs – including Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy – while excluding countries with low rates of heart disease despite diets with a lot of fat – such as France, Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany.

Moreover, due to difficulties in collecting accurate nutrition data, Keys ended up sampling the diets of fewer than 500 men, far from a statistically significant sample. And the study’s star subjects – men on the Greek island of Crete who tilled their fields well into old age and appeared to eat very little meat or cheese – turned out to have been partly sampled during Lent, when the study subjects were foregoing meat and cheese. This must have led Keys to undercount their saturated-fat consumption. These flaws weren’t revealed until much later. 
By then, the misimpression left by the erroneous data had become international dogma.

There were subsequent trials, of course. In the 1970s, half a dozen important experiments pitted a diet high in vegetable oil – usually corn or soybean, but not olive oil – against one with more animal fats. But these trials had serious methodological problems: some didn’t control for smoking, for instance, or allowed men to wander in and out of the research group over the course of the experiment. The results were unreliable at best.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

De La Salle's win-streak secret -- Never give anything less than your best

By Tom Barnidge Contra Costa Times Columnist
August 16, 2014

(Center L-R) Michael Chiklis as Terry Eidson and Jim Caviezel as Bob Ladouceur in 'When the Game Stands Tall.' (Tracy Bennett/Sony Pictures)
(Center L-R) Michael Chiklis as Terry Eidson and Jim Caviezel as Bob Ladouceur in 'When the Game Stands Tall.' (Tracy Bennett/Sony Pictures)

The story of the De La Salle High School football program that will flash across movie screens this week -- "When the Game Stands Tall" -- is wrapped around an unprecedented 151-game winning streak that the Catholic boys school in Concord assembled from 1992 to 2004.
The streak was built across 12 perfect seasons, including 32 playoff games, during which De La Salle outscored opponents 7,092-1,323 (average score: 47-9) and was five times ranked the No. 1 high school team in the nation by USA Today.
The program has barely blinked in the 10 years since -- a 126-12-2 record, with 10 North Coast Section titles and five state championships. Last season, the Spartans' first in 35 years without coach Bob Ladouceur at the helm, they were 14-1 and state runners-up under Justin Alumbaugh, who once played for Ladouceur.
How does this happen -- in the East Bay, of all places -- at a private school with barely 1,000 students?
Let's begin at the beginning, with the basics any football fan will recognize -- grueling practices and endless repetition of fundamentals.
"It's basic, it's the minutiae, and it's very boring," said quarterbacks/running backs coach Mark Panella. "It's the mechanics and fundamentals. We go over and over and over and over them, day in and day out. It's monotonous."
Panella played on Ladouceur's first two North Coast Section champions, and he said the fundamentals have always been pounded into players.
Then there's the unrelenting emphasis on conditioning, from the weight room to the torturous drills, in which sweat-soaked players are expected to run full out while dragging car tires across practice fields when they're not pounding on blocking sleds. Players put in anywhere from 16 to 17 hours a week in practice, film sessions and conditioning.
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Prep memories worth celebrating as N&O turns 120

By Tim Stevens
tstevens@newsobserver.comAugust 12, 2014 
Athens Drive High School baseball star Josh Hamilton was once considered one of the best players in the country. GARY ALLEN — 1999 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/12/4067617/stevens-prep-memories-worth-celebrating.html?sp=/99/103/124/#storylink=cpy
The definition of “most memorable” is pretty easy for me. Whatever I remember is most memorable.
But much of what I remember probably isn’t very noteworthy in the grand scheme of things. My first basketball game was at old Henderson Vance High in the spring of 1967. I remember returning the next year and getting lost. I ended up in Virginia, my first trip out of state. Those memories probably register on no one else’s memory chart.
The same is true of my first football game in the fall of ’67, when Clayton played Meadow. I remember former Clayton football coach Glenn Nixon saying after a win at Apex in a downpour that the last time he’d seen a game played under those conditions was in the leather helmet days. In hindsight, that might have been no exaggeration. I remember I couldn’t get in the announcer’s booth and my notes washed away.
I remember when Oxford Webb played in a basketball gym where spectators could beat on the ceiling and when Bunn played in a gym with all the bleachers on one side. Fuquay-Varina was a girls’ basketball power in the late 1960s behind the play of Sheila Cotton, but back then there was no state playoffs for girls.
I once was the only white guy in the gym.
Baseball was played on a red-clay infield, and the 100 referred to yards, not meters. Track athletes competed in the hop, skip and jump. A local athletics director said the school would add swimming if the kids were willing to practice in the Neuse River.
I also remember plenty of stories I wish I hadn’t written, or had written a different way. There have been times when I literally threw up because of printed mistake.
But those are my memories and not really the most memorable events in covering high school athletics for about 50 years. In honor of The N&O’s 120th birthday Tuesday, here are some of the more memorable things that have happened to high school athletics in North Carolina. Some are good. Some, I think, are bad. Some are just different.
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Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/12/4067617/stevens-prep-memories-worth-celebrating.html?sp=/99/103/124/#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Raise a Lion Chaser!

By John O'Sullivan
August 4, 2014
“Coach, I don’t want to take a penalty shot,” said a very nervous 13 year-old player of mine a few years back. We were in the Oregon Soccer State Cup semifinals, and this talented but not quite confident young girl looked in no mood to take a shot in the penalty shootout to determine whether or not our team advanced to the state finals.
“I’ll take it,” said her teammate Rachel, with a look of determination on her face. I smiled. The player who backed out of shooting was a great player, but not always for the big occasion. Her teammate who volunteered was also very good, but I smiled because she had actually MISSED the deciding penalty kick a year earlier at the same stage of the competition. Yet here she was, unfazed. Of course I let her take the kick (and if you want to know what happened, read on).
Why is it that some players see obstacles and problems as opportunities, while others focus on the negative consequences of failure?
What if our greatest opportunities in life lie right beneath our nose, masked as our biggest problems, our worst failures, and our greatest fears?
These are the questions that are asked in Mark Batterson’s fantastic book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars, which was recommended to me by my friend Joshua Medcalf at Train to be CLUTCH (thanks Joshua, what a book!) The book is written by a Christian pastor, and thus has many references to God and the bible, but regardless if you are a Christian or not this is well worth the read!
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day tells the story of the Old Testament hero Benaiah, a famous warrior who gained notoriety by literally chasing a lion into an icy, snow filled pit and emerging victorious. Batterson uses that story as a metaphor to explain how life often positions us in the right place at the right time, only in Batterson’s words “the right place seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time.”
As a coach, we want a team full of lion chasers. We want fearless, confident competitors, risk takers, and athletes who are unfazed by pressure.
As a parent, there is perhaps nothing more frustrating then seeing your child presented with a great opportunity, yet paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. When we look back at our own lives, most of our regrets are often the things we didn’t do (inaction), and not the ones we did (action).
Of course we don’t want our children to make some of the same mistakes we did. Yet far more importantly, we don’t want them to miss the opportunities we missed out on. With the perspective of adulthood, we can see what lies before them, and we have the opportunity to create a world for them where they see opportunity instead of problems, and they take the plunge instead of fearing failure. This is especially true when it comes to sports. We don’t want fearful athletes who lack confidence.
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