Insight


Bobby Douglas has coached some of the top wrestlers ever to grace the mat. Now you too can use some of Bobby's insight from conditioning and strength training to dieting and communicating to become a better all-around wrestler and person.

Read it all, or click on any one of the sections below to jump to the specific information you're looking for.
 


Wrestling... Pathway to the Top


The ancient art of amateur wrestling is a sport of the highest order. Its major emphases are clean living and superb physical conditioning. Wrestling is known for its ability to develop an individual's skills to act and react intelligently in stressful situations. Wrestling aids in the development of valuable qualities and traits that will last an individual a lifetime.

A wrestler's goal should be to obtain a college education. Planning, studying and managing your time are keys to success. Academics are important to wrestlers. In the United States, the majority of all National, World and Olympic champions have attended colleges and universities.

Prospective college wrestlers should be aware of the importance that is being placed on academics. How the high school wrestler performs academically and competitively will determine his chance to obtain a college scholarship. To become a champion you must continue in school.

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Fitness
No athlete is more fit than a wrestler. Wrestling is a sport that starts wit boys and turns them into men. Wrestling is very much like life: you reap what you sow. To be a champion, you have to pay the price: the miles on the track, the hours in the workout room, the pounds of sweat, the pain, the torture and the agonies of this slavery. You cannot win by just doing what is required during practice sessions. You have to work extra-running, weight training, drilling, studying films, etc. After wrestling, other things in life become easy.

Although the only way to learn to wrestle is by wrestling, you must also read about and study new methods. Keep up wit new holds. Talk to others about their training.

Every wrestler wants to be a champion. The champion is willing to do the extras that are necessary to place him ahead of the rest.

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Injury Prevention
Preventing injuries is one of the major concerns of coaches. Injuries cause a break in the training load and set students back on their timetables. Injuries in wrestling occur within microseconds and most often when a wrestler is tired. Many injuries occur on contact with the mat or when limbs are taken beyond the range of motion (e.g., a bent leg, a shoulder or elbow forced too far).

There are some positions that are dangerous if you get into them. Sometimes it is better to lose the points than to lose the ankle, knee or shoulder. You have to make that choice and have little time in which to do it.

Incorrect executions of techniques also cause injuries:

Collision type: head butts account for about thirty percent of injuries

Twisting type: these occur as a result of limbs being taken beyond their range of motion.

Other injuries are a combination of these two: e.g., head-on collision or finger in the eye, back trips or throws.

Practice safety; watch for hazards in various positions or holds. Most wrestlers will sustain a number of injuries during their careers. Knowing how to avoid injuries during their careers. Knowing how to avoid injuries will determine how successful you can become.

Wrestlers must learn to react correctly to avoid injuries. They should learn the proper method of falling to prevent injuries from takedowns or counters. Contact with the mat accounts for the largest percentage of injuries. Developing your conditioning, strength, and flexibility will help you avoid injuries.

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Stretching & Flexibility
Stretch before and after every workout. Stretching is not a competitive effort; each individual has his own level of flexibility. Stretching is for self-improvement. Each athlete should be working solely to improve his own ability.

1. Always relax as you stretch.
2. Breathe normally as you stretch.
3. Do not stretch to a point at which you feel pain.
4. Never compare yourself with someone else regarding flexibility.
5. Never bounce as you stretch.
6. Stretch your tightest side first.
7. Stretch as often as possible.

Pay particular attention to #5; do not bounce during stretching. This is dangerous, and an athlete who does this rather than completing a smooth and gradual movement is risking injury. The bounce actually forces the muscle to tighten in an effort to protect itself. Eventually, the forced motion can result in a muscle injury.

Flexibility comes with time; as in all areas of conditioning, a consistent effort is necessary. It is important to stretch often, and certainly before practice and after competition.

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Endurance Program
The long-distance phase. Running a long distance at seven to nine m.p.h. (about an eight-minute mile) will raise the heartbeat rate to about 150 beats per minute. The heart must reach this level for at least 15 minutes for any positive improvement in endurance. This type of training should be done on alternate days on a soft surface to prevent shin splints and foot injuries.

A stronger heart will be able to pump blood to the muscles and waste material will be eliminated from tissue more rapidly. The long-distance phase should cover the first four weeks of a conditioning program or preseason workout.

The jog and stride phase. The second stage of the endurance program requires alternate jogging and striding over a long distance without a rest period. This kind of training is done over two to three miles with the athlete doing alternate stages of jogging 200 yards and striding 200 yards. The important point is that there is no rest period over the entire distance.

As your heart becomes stronger, more oxygen will be transferred through the blood system into the muscles. This will help prevent early fatigue. As your mind adapts to an increased workload, you will be able to ignore the discomforts that precede fatigue. Willingness to accept pain complements your efforts to sustain grueling activity.

The jog and stride sequence prepares your body for intense efforts after short recovery periods. You begin to train through the "pain threshold" and to develop mental toughness.

The interval training phase. The third stage of the endurance program is speed work at a given pace with a timed rest period. The athlete is required to run distances of 120-220 yards, with a rest period in the range of 30-90 seconds.

The duration of the rest period is crucial. Any rest period of less than 30 seconds does not allow the heart enough recovery time. A rest period of more than 90 seconds is too long, since it allows the heart rate to drop sufficiently to prevent any endurance gains.

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Graduated Training, Loading
With running, sparring, and weights, you can increase distance, time, and pounds. These increases will force your body to strengthen both physically and mentally, so that your overall performance will improve. As the demands increase, your body's ability to do harder work increases.

If you are to excel, your body must be pushed to the brink on occasion. As your internal alarm goes off and your body begins to set off its defensive mechanisms, persevere! It is at this point that most of the pain will come, and you need to push to the point of exhaustion.

The final phase.
1. Increase the intensity of the work (e.g., speed).
2. Increase the length of the work (e.g., distance).
3. Increase the number of attempts (e.g., repetitions).
4. Decrease the recovery time. (e.g., rest).
5. Add to workload during recovery (e.g., exercise, jump rope).

There is no easy way of conditioning. The best conditioner for a wrestler is, of course, wrestling itself, but wrestling is not enough. The heart has to be developed, and your conditioning will be greatly aided by supplementing your training with weight lifting, dancing, running, swimming, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, handball, and other sports and activities.

Be aware that our physical limitations are unknown, and in the sport of wrestling you must be willing to undergo great physical and mental stress. The mind is the final factor in all victories. Wrestlers must be able to think their way to victory. Pushing yourself farther than you thought you could go strengthens your ability to concentrate beyond pain. This intense preparation prepares you to be a champion.

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Strength Training
Strength training is the easiest area of conditioning to improve, yet it is probably the area that requires the most self-discipline. There are no secrets to weight training: the athlete who trains most consistently and works hardest improves the most.

The off-season is the best time for improving strength. This is the time when the wrestler can get the maximum gain, since he is not concentrating on wrestling. The wrestler must deal realistically with the off-season. Very likely he will be working a job or attending school, or both. Thus he must discipline himself to insure he sets aside enough time for proper workout sessions. Normally, an athlete must spend at least one hour and fifteen minutes three times per week to make any significant gains in his strength. Remember, a stronger wrestler becomes a better wrestler.

When one muscle group (of a pair) contacts, the opposing muscle group (of a pair) lengthens, and vice versa. To reduce the possibility of injury, it is very important that an athlete exercise both muscle groups (of a pair). When one becomes disproportionately stronger, the likelihood that the weaker muscle group will suffer an injury (a pull, a sprain, a tear, etc.) is increased. Emphasize the lowering of the weight as well as the raising of the weight. When lifting, many athletes will concentrate on raising a weight, but once in the mid-range position of an exercise, they will drop the weight to return to the starting position for the exercise. Remember, the same muscles that raised the weight are the same muscles that will enable you to lower the weight. Do not circumvent half of the exercise.

I believe you can use your strength training program to increase your personal confidence, that deep-down residue of inner personal belief that allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary accomplishments in every area of life. It comes from setting realistic goals and working with intensity, dedication and perseverance to achieve them.

One of your objectives should be to organize a workout that will produce the maximum level of improvement in the least amount of time. A two-hour weight training workout is neither necessary nor productive. A three-set workout typically requires only approximately one hour to one and one half hours to complete, while a one-set workout takes a little less than one hour. A reasonable rest period between exercises is somewhere between thirty seconds and one minute. Any greater rest period can lead to a time-consuming, prolonged training session.

A set is the number of repetitions executed each time an exercise is performed. Like the controversy surrounding the question of how many repetitions should be performed in any set, there is a similar controversy over how many sets of any exercise should be performed. One theory recommends that only a single set be performed. The reasoning behind this theory is that one properly performed set will stimulate maximum gains in muscular strength mass. If an athlete properly performs one set, he will certainly not want to perform a second set; and if he were to perform additional exercise, it could eventually become counter-productive. According to this theory, if a second set is performed, it is obvious that the first set was not properly performed.

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What About Strength and Power?
When a wrestler is required to use his muscles, he often forgets to use his head. Strength and power without speed, timing, and position are useless.

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The Weights
Weight programs are a great value. Free weights serve the wrestler better because of the balance factor. When lifting in wrestling, you need to be able to shift your position several times before you can get into the proper position. With the free weights, you can get a better sense of the correct timing along with the strength and balance that are required. I do not believe in lifting heavy weights.

After I started lifting weights, I could feel additional strength playing a role when I had to finish from a tough position or adjust to a mistake. It would not take as much energy or time; lifting helped my confidence. If you are a good wrestler, and you are trying to get better, the weights will definitely help! If you are injured and have limited time, the weights can make a difference in your rehabilitation and give you the strength to compensate for your injury. Weights allow you to get a workout even when you are injured. I scored many more takedowns after I started lifting.

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Intensity
Emphasize intensity in your conditioning workouts. Maximum gains will not occur unless an athlete works at maximum intensity. Exercise through the full range of movement. If an athlete does not perform every exercise through the full range of movement, he eventually will lose flexibility in the joint areas, as well as fail to develop muscular fitness through the full range of movement. He will also be more prone to injury.

Exercise antagonistic muscle groups. Within the body, there are four major antagonistic (opposing) muscle groups.

   Chest/Lats
   Biceps/Triceps
   Abdominals/Lower
   Back Quads/Hamstrings

Whenever possible, the athlete should exercise the potentially larger and stronger muscles of the body first. The athlete should progress from the muscles of the legs, to the torso, to the arms, to the abdominals, and finish with the muscles of the neck.

A workout program should be performed three days a week with adequate rest between individual workouts. The first couple of workouts concentrate on form and balance in the squat snatch, dead lifting more with your legs than your back, rolling your shoulders back at the top of your lift. Do only three sets of nine repetitions, even though you feel you can do more. On the next two sets of nine, the last two of ten; then three sets of ten; then two of ten and one of eleven and so on.

When you can do three sets of 11, move to four sets of nine. This way your goal is one more rep at a time, or one more set, the biggest jump being three reps, i.e., 3 x 11 = 33, 4 x 9 = 36. When you can do four sets of 11, increase the weight by 5% and drop back to three sets of 9. This way you can achieve a positive, realistic gain every time; plus, you only have to work on one exercise at a time, so the potential for gain is always there.

When you finish your last set of dead lifts, take a couple of old-fashioned plates, the kind without the grooves, and carry them for as long as you can, pinching them in your hands. See what a combination of dead lifting and carrying a plate does for your grip. Incidentally, when you dot the dead lifts, keep both hands facing the same way. It will help your grip because the bar can more easily roll out of your hands.

Another factor to work against is time. Be concerned about it. Work slowly at first, but as you train, know how long a complete workout takes and then work to beat it. Start your weight training program in this manner. As you get into your program, keep a record of the total amount of weights you have lifted within a given time.

Each morning upon awakening, record your pulse (the lower the better). This will help make you more conscious of your physical condition. It can also be an indicator when something is wrong. If your pulse suddenly jumps up several points, it may mean that you have not fully recovered from the previous day's efforts, that you did not get enough rest, or that your body is fighting off an infection. In any case, it is a sign to back off; let your body recover before continuing to train hard.

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Training Aids


Rope-climbing develops the pulling muscles, such as the arms, abdomen, back, and related shoulder muscles. It also increases strength of grip and mental fortitude. (Climb five of 10 times a day.) Skipping rope is tremendously beneficial, aerobically, for any wrestler. Do it two ways: first, against the clock-three, six, twelve minutes; then count-the more jumps within a given time the greater the intensity.

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Leadership
Leadership is the quality that is responsible for people following an individual, having faith in his judgment and abilities and being willing to work under his direction. A leader is someone who can accomplish something others would not attempt. Not everyone can hold an office such as President or Vice President, yet all can develop the qualities of good leadership.

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Command the Respect of Others Wherever you are,
Whatever you do.

Study yourself. Discover your strong points and your weak points. Study the personal qualities of effective coaching. Endeavor to develop the qualities that will win the confidence of others, such as sound judgment, open-mindedness, freedom from prejudice, coolness in trying situations, sincerity, and honesty.

When a wrestler deserves credit for achievement-compliment him. Admit mistakes and avoid excuses. Be firm when ideals, principles or goals are at stake, but try not to give offense. Refrain from hurting others' feelings unnecessarily. Have facts before you reach a conclusion. Develop good judgment. Plan to accomplish goals. Keep out of the limelight. The more difficult the obstacle, the stronger one becomes after hurdling it.

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Develop Winning Traits
Loyalty, to yourself and to all those dependent upon you. Keep your self-respect. Cooperation, with all your coworkers. Help others see the other side. Enthusiasm, your heart must be in your work. Stimulate others. Sacrifice personal gain for the benefit of the team.

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Develop Your Personality
Through people you see, observe and have contact with.
Through your associates.
Through things you read and see.
Through places you go and things you do.
Through your environment.

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Always Conduct Self Analysis
Am I easily discouraged?
Do I recognize and admit my mistakes?
Am I loyal to wrestling and its educational goals?
Can I make a decision quickly and accurately?
Can I accept honors and still keep my feet on the ground?
Am I following a plan of improvement and advancement?
Do I have a religious conviction?
Do I have a definite aim in life?
Am I honest?
Am I playing the game of life fairly and honestly with myself, my family and others?

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Have Your Heart and Soul in Your Work
The desire to excel requires the ability to make decisions and think alone, the ability to resist temptation and stay with your cause, and the ability to concentrate on your objectives and be determined to reach your goal! This requires careful planning. Continually think and plan ways to improve.

Coaching is a characteristic or trait that is not inherited but has to be developed in individuals. It is a series of abilities, characteristics and attitudes, generally evolving from experience. No one can make you a good coach-they can only point the way. You must make the transition.

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Have a Plan
When you try a hold that does not work or is blocked, switch to something else. It is generally useless to try to force a hold that is blocked; hence time, effort and energy are wasted.

The ability to analyze and predict situations before they happen, then to counterattack, plays a major role in winning.

Don't attempt things in a match that you have not made a sound part of your plan in practice. Be cool and collected in all situations. Never quit! It is difficult for an opponent to get full control of you if you are in rapid continuous motion. Don't stop before you hear the referee's whistle.

Don't complain to an official. Don't stop the clock by going off the mat needlessly when you are ahead and the time is running out. It is wrong to ease up because your opponent has done so or because you anticipate he will do so.

Learn offense, since defense is more natural and comes more easily to most wrestlers. Chain wrestling is essential to success in wrestling. Learn holds that have a good calculated risk. Determine what can happen to you if the hold fails to work properly. If there is even a remote possibility that you will end up on your back, don't do it!

Don't get into a rut by using just one or two holds at the expense of other fundamental holds.

The body has the unique ability to develop strength as you drill and wrestle. The more you work in positions that require strength and power, the stronger and more powerful you become. The faster you're able to complete a drill, the faster you'll be able to execute the hold.

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Communication - Coaches and Wrestlers Together
We can reach goals through communication. Only through communication can the coaching staff make wrestlers aware of desires, demands and expectations.

Although the only way to learn to wrestle is by wrestling, wrestlers must also read about and study new methods.

Coaches, speak simply, clearly, and plainly. Do not try to show off by using big words. Use short sentences, and effective pauses. Listen to your wrestlers' opinions and responses; be positive.

Select the techniques that are most effective and will work against the main opponents.

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Weight Loss Diet Making Weight
My first experience with making weight was at Bridgeport High School my freshman year. I was the second team 103 pounder-my normal weight was 97 pounds. When the season started I could eat as much as I wanted and never needed to worry about making weight.

I had my first bad experience when on the day of weigh-ins I was three pounds over. Shedding those pounds taught me the true meaning of wrestling. I had no idea that my weight would jump as high as it did, but I did know it would be tough taking it off. I'd never cut weight before because I was always two or three pounds under. The seniors told me what I had to do. They also told me what would happen if I didn't do it.

I learned about discipline when our heavyweight, Tiny, convinced me that if I didn't make weight, it would be a fate worse than death. I remember the fear when the captain asked me about my weight. I said that I was down.

To make weight that day, I went to the furnace room of my high school, during the next hour and a half, I cut the three pounds. During that time I learned discipline. I felt I couldn't stop because my teammates were depending on me. I heard George Kovalick's words about courage. I felt the fear of failure, and I knew that making weight was part of the spirit of wrestling. It was during that time I really became a wrestler.

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Recommended Diet for Weight Loss, Wrestling Athletes
by Karen Moses

The following diet was planned to ensure adequate vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and protein while limiting calories for weight loss. The 1900-calorie sample diet provides adequate amounts of most nutrients for a male, age 19-22. The nutrient zinc is present at only 80% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA); thus it is advised that a multi-vitamin/mineral tablet containing 100% of the RDA for zinc be taken two to three times per week. The higher calorie diets contain at least 100% of all essential nutrients. Protein in the diets meets the RDA for protein of a 290 pound man. Dietary carbohydrate provides greater than 60% of the calories, which is suggested for athletes in order to supply the body with adequate glycogen for energy. Calories in the diet are reduced through limiting the use of fats and oils.

It is very important when losing weight that the athlete loses excess fat instead of valuable body fluids, muscle or organ protein. To prevent the wasting away of lean body mass during weight loss, an athlete should lose only one to two pounds per week. Weight loss techniques such as sweat baths, fasting, vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics or denying the body fluids may produce rapid weight loss. However, these weight loss techniques result in body water loss and muscle loss and hurt athletic performance weight. If weight stays within five to ten pounds of performance weight, an athlete should be able to lose that weight in three to five weeks without using weight loss techniques that can harm athletic performance.

The 1900-calorie weight loss plan described in this text may be too low in calories for some athletes. Instructions on how to estimate caloric need are included below. Athletes whose calorie need is greater than 1900 should add additional calories according to the instructions in the section "Meal Plan for Higher Calorie Diets."

Keep in mind that each body is different. If you find that you are losing weight too quickly or too slowly, that you are tired or weak, or even that you don't like any of the food choices offered-speak up! Your coach, doctor and/or nutritionist can design a weight loss diet that more specifically meets your needs.

After you have lost the necessary amount of weight, continue eating a well-balanced, high-carbohydrate diet. This will help you to maintain your performance weight.

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Nutrition Guidelines
1. When possible, choose low-fat or non-fat products such as light cream cheese, light mayonnaise, 1% or skim milk.
2. Avoid cheese, nuts and fatty meats. All are high-fat items and add extra calories even in small portions.
3. Cut back on fried foods. Meats that are boiled, broiled, or grilled and vegetables that are boiled or steamed are better choices.
4. Remove the skin before eating chicken or turkey.
5. Use water-packed tuna.
6. Eat at least one dark green or yellow/orange vegetable every day, e.g., spinach, carrots, and tomatoes.
7. Eat a food that is a good source of vitamin C every day, e.g., spinach, carrots, and tomatoes.
8. Drink plenty of water.
9. Cut back on the amount of fats you add to foods, e.g., butter, margarine, mayonnaise, sour cream, regular salad dressing.
10. Eat foods that are high in complex carbohydrates often. This includes starchy vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), breads, cereals and other grain foods.

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Eating Before an Event (Match or Practice)
1. Eat three to four hours before an event to make sure the stomach has time to empty and to help prevent cramping.

2. Pre-event meals should be high in carbohydrates.

Sample meals include:
   - Orange juice, corn flakes, banana, whole wheat toast with jelly
     and skim milk

   - Vegetable soup, sliced turkey sandwich on wheat bread, fruit and
     low-fat strawberry yogurt

   - Vegetable salad topped with lean ham, low-fat salad dressing, hard
     roll and skim milk

   - Pasta with tomato sauce, Italian bread and small vegetable salad
     with low-fat dressing

3. Pre-event meals should not be high in fat or protein, as these nutrients slow digestion. Foods to avoid include: Hamburgers, hot dogs, cheese crisp, sausage, peanut butter deep-fried or fried foods like doughnuts, french fries, hash browns, chips, condiments like mayonnaise, regular salad dressing, cream cheese, margarine or butter.

4. A liquid meal can be taken up to one hour before an event. For example:

   - Yogurt shakes, sports drinks, instant breakfast beverages

5. No food should be eaten less than one hour before an event. This can cause stomach upset or cramping, which can hurt performance. However, the athlete should drink plenty of water or other dilute fluids during this time.

6. Within the first hour after training, replace lost carbohydrates (glycogen) with beverages, meals and snacks that are high in carbohydrates. This will aid recovery from a strenuous workout.

High-carbohydrate items include:
   - Cereal, bread, pasta, muffins, pancakes, rolls and other grain foods

   - Fruit, fruit juice, dried fruit and vegetables, especially starchy
     vegetables like potatoes and corn

   - Milk, yogurt, cocoa, ice milk, milk shakes, ice cream and frozen
     yogurt-these foods can also be very high in fat, so choose the
     low-fat varieties
 

   - Legumes like refried beans, lima beans and chili beans
 

Cakes, pies, cookies, and soft drinks get their carbohydrates from sugar and are often high in fat and low in nutrients. Supply carbohydrates by using the other carbohydrate sources listed above.

Meat and cheese are low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and often high in fat.

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Hints for Weight Loss
1. Use the sample diets on the following pages as a guide for weight loss.
2. Fats are truly fattening, so it is especially important to avoid fried foods, fatty meats, cheese, whole milk and added fats like sour cream, mayonnaise, salad dressing, margarine and butter.
3. Stay away from sugary snacks like soda pop, candy and other sweets. These snacks can make your weight loss program backfire.
4. Drink lots of noncaloric beverages before and during a meal. Beverages like water, tea and diet pop will help fill you up without adding calories.
5. It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to tell your brain that it is no longer hungry. Eat a low-calorie snack about 20 minutes before a meal and, like your mother says, "You'll ruin your dinner." Low-calorie snacks include apples, oranges, grapes, carrots, lettuce, etc.
6. Another idea is to make the salad course last 20 minutes, or to eat slowly. It is common to eat two plates full of food before you realize you are no longer hungry.
7. Make sure you are not confusing hunger with thirst. You may think you are hungry when a glass of water would satisfy your craving.
8. Keep busy, within about 10 minutes your hunger pangs usually ease up.

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Drink Water and Other Dilute Fluids
1. Drink plenty of dilute fluids before, during and after events and practice sessions. Commercial fluid replacement drinks contain a small amount of carbohydrate. Drinks like this will help maintain carbohydrate. Drinks like this will help maintain carbohydrate stores in the body. Stay away from fruit juice before and during workouts-it is high in natural sugars, which can cause stomach discomfort or, for some athletes, can cause a sugar rebound.
2. Drink about 2 1/2 cups of water or dilute fluids two hours before training.
3. Drink about 2 cups of fluid 10 to 15 minutes prior to training.
4. Drink about 1/2 cup of fluid every 10 minutes, or 1 1/2 cups every 30 minutes, during an even or practice session.
5. After a workout, drink 2 cups for every one pound of body weight lost during training. (Two cups of water weighs one pound.)
6. Don't forget to drink or eat something high in carbohydrates within one hour after training. This will aid recovery from the workout.

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Choosing a Diet  
Keep in mind that it is never wise to lose more than one to two pounds per week. If you are following a diet and find you are losing weight too quickly, increase calorie intake.

In order to decide which diet to follow, you will need to know approximately how many calories you body needs each day to maintain weight. The formula below will give you an estimate of your caloric needs.

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Dietary Formula
1. Multiply your weight by 11. (Example: 200 lbs. x 11 = 2,220)
2. Multiply the product by one of the following amounts, based on your activity level. This will give a calorie range appropriate for you.
   Light 1.4 - 1.6
   Moderate 1.6 - 1.8
   Hard 1.8 - 2.0
   Severe 2.0 - 2.8
   Very Severe 3.0

(Example: 2,220 x 1.4 = 3,088 calories 2,220 x 1.6 - 3,520 calories
Calorie range: 3,088 to 3,520 calories per day.)

Aim for about 3,000 to 3,500 calories per day. Theoretically, 3,500 calories is equal to a pound of fat. This means that by reducing the number of calories you eat by 500 per day, you may lose one pound per week. There are other factors that affect the rate of weight loss; however, use the above formula to estimate the calories you need for weight loss. Once you calculate the number of calories you need, eat 500 to 1000 calories less than you need. This should result in a one to two-pound weight loss each week.

Reminder: It is best to lose only one to two pounds per week. Otherwise, you may lose muscle along with or instead of fat. A 500- to 1000-calorie change in your diet should keep your weight loss within this range. If not, then switch to a lower or higher calorie diet.

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