Taking Care of your Body

My siblings and I were constantly outside playing in the woods, shooting hoops, organizing a baseball game, or just exploring the neighborhood.

Exercise, eating right and rest are three very important elements in the life of a professional athlete. I never thought about their importance when I was a child, but as I grew older and more focused on my athletic career, the impact of leading a healthy lifestyle took on a bigger significance in my development as a football player.

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My home town is Opelika, Alabama. Opelika is a midsize town in the central part of the state. It is known for its quaint charm and down home Southern heritage. It was a great place to grow up. My siblings and I were constantly outside playing in the woods, shooting hoops, organizing a baseball game, or just exploring the neighborhood. I was also involved with organized sports at a very young age playing everything from soccer, baseball, basketball and football.

As a kid, I was pretty skinny. I could eat anything with no worries that it would be detrimental to my health. For the most part, my parents kept the cupboards filled with healthy snacks, so I did not eat a lot of junk food. But there were times, often when I was staying the night at a friend's house, when I would over indulge in candy and soda. And of course, living in the South, there was an abundance of fried foods everywhere you looked!

I kept my "eat everything at anytime" attitude until I graduated high school and started playing football at Auburn University. In college, I discovered that I needed to start focusing on how I was taking care of my body. One of my coaches was also a nutritionist and he explained to me the importance of eating enough calories and the proper nutrients each day to keep my energy levels high. With a full class schedule and football practice every day, I needed to make sure I was energized and ready to go!

In addition to eating the right foods, I also needed to give my body time to rest. Many of my friends would sleep a couple hours during the night and then catch one or two naps during the day. Unfortunately, your body does not respond well to this method of rest. I made it a point to go to bed early and get 8 straight hours of sleep during the night. I found that continuous sleep made me more alert and productive during all my daily activities.

It was challenging to maintain healthy eating and sleep habits in college, but I found that my performance, both on and off the field, improved. I increased my size and muscle mass which helped me in my position as middle linebacker on the football field. I was able to stay alert and attentive in my classes which improved my grade point average. These positive results reinforced that changing my behaviors was a tremendous benefit to my body and mind.

In today's world I think it would be easy to fall into leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Fast food is easier than planning and cooking a meal. Video games are more enticing than coming up with something to do outside. Television can keep you up all night watching your favorite shows. But in the end, such behaviors can be very harmful to your future. My advice is to try and start eating healthy foods, getting more rest, and doing 60 minutes of activity a day a little bit at a time. Before you know it, you will be happy, physically fit, and making strides towards a lifetime of good health!

081029herring250.jpg


My home town is Opelika, Alabama. Opelika is a midsize town in the central part of the state. It is known for its quaint charm and down home Southern heritage. It was a great place to grow up. My siblings and I were constantly outside playing in the woods, shooting hoops, organizing a baseball game, or just exploring the neighborhood. I was also involved with organized sports at a very young age playing everything from soccer, baseball, basketball and football.

As a kid, I was pretty skinny. I could eat anything with no worries that it would be detrimental to my health. For the most part, my parents kept the cupboards filled with healthy snacks, so I did not eat a lot of junk food. But there were times, often when I was staying the night at a friend's house, when I would over indulge in candy and soda. And of course, living in the South, there was an abundance of fried foods everywhere you looked!

I kept my "eat everything at anytime" attitude until I graduated high school and started playing football at Auburn University. In college, I discovered that I needed to start focusing on how I was taking care of my body. One of my coaches was also a nutritionist and he explained to me the importance of eating enough calories and the proper nutrients each day to keep my energy levels high. With a full class schedule and football practice every day, I needed to make sure I was energized and ready to go!

In addition to eating the right foods, I also needed to give my body time to rest. Many of my friends would sleep a couple hours during the night and then catch one or two naps during the day. Unfortunately, your body does not respond well to this method of rest. I made it a point to go to bed early and get 8 straight hours of sleep during the night. I found that continuous sleep made me more alert and productive during all my daily activities.

It was challenging to maintain healthy eating and sleep habits in college, but I found that my performance, both on and off the field, improved. I increased my size and muscle mass which helped me in my position as middle linebacker on the football field. I was able to stay alert and attentive in my classes which improved my grade point average. These positive results reinforced that changing my behaviors was a tremendous benefit to my body and mind.

In today's world I think it would be easy to fall into leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Fast food is easier than planning and cooking a meal. Video games are more enticing than coming up with something to do outside. Television can keep you up all night watching your favorite shows. But in the end, such behaviors can be very harmful to your future. My advice is to try and start eating healthy foods, getting more rest, and doing 60 minutes of activity a day a little bit at a time. Before you know it, you will be happy, physically fit, and making strides towards a lifetime of good health!

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