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Eat This not That: Junk Food Substitutes


So everyone knows that they have some sort of junk food that just gets them every time.  In actuality most people eat way too much junk food daily instead of the occasional reward.

I will be completely honest with you and let you know that I have to work extremely hard to not have all the junk food that I want.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t have any, just that I do all I can to limit the consumption.

But what do you do when you just cant beat the urge?

Well here is an answer.

In this guest video post from Mark MacDonald and Venice Nutrition Mark shares fun and real family-friendly strategies on how to eat your favorite junk foods and minimize the fat storing damage. Plus provides some healthy and tasty alternative for chips, candy bars and soda.

Click Have Your Cake and Eat it Too to enjoy the video from Mark on CNN HLN



Packing Your Fitness Suitcase


By Julian A. Amedee, CSCS, Owner and Head Sports Performance Coach at Sports Fitness Experience


Part I: Things you like to do.

Trying to figure out what to do for your workout routine is one of the hardest things you may go through.  Many people just go and lift weights. Others spend their times in group classes. While others step outside on the pavement and run for their routine. All of these are good examples of fitness programs, but is doing just that optimal for you?  To get the most out of your fitness regimen you have to change things up.  If you continue to do the same thing over and over the results you get will decrease exponentially.  With so many different fitness options out there right now trying to determine what you should do can be a daunting task.  Many pieces of equipment or classes really work on the same thing and if you decide on one, how can you know if it is the best choice.  The strategy broken down in this series of articles will discuss a general way to set your regimen or pack your fitness suitcase

Building your general fitness regimen consists of three major components.  Each component is designed differently based on how often you do it, how much time is spent on it and how much you enjoy doing it to name a few.  The actual exercises or routines that you do for each component is unique to each individual, thus it is like packing your own suitcase.  The three components are;

  1. Things you like to do
  2. Things you know are good for you
  3. A few things you hate to do


Today we are going to talk about the first component and probably the most important in your suitcase; Things you like to do.  When I get asked about what to do when starting a workout program my first response back is the question “What do you like to do?” This is important because most people will not stick with anything that they do not like to do.  If you do not enjoy your workout after that first surge of adrenaline is used up the excuses of why not to go will grow.  Remember we all have reasons why we can’t work out each day.  If you really don’t like what you are going to do, then it becomes much easier to stay away.

The things you like to do are the biggest pieces in your suitcase.  It doesn’t mean that you will do them all the time, but when you do them you get a big dose of them.  They are the things that fuel the rest of your program.  They have to be exercises / routines / classes / activities that you cannot wait to do and when you do them you feel ready to take on the world.  If you do not put these components into your suitcase first you will never know how to fit everything else in.


Part II: Things you know are good for you

So, we just talked about the first step in packing your fitness suitcase, things you like to do.  Now let’s cover the second step; Things you know are good for you or things you need to do.  These are the practices that everyone knows are good for them.  They help build lean muscle.  They burn excess fat and they improve your cardiovascular fitness level.  They are undoubtable essential to anyone’s fitness routine.  The problem here is that they are not necessarily the favorite things to do.  They may not bring that level of euphoria that you desire when working out.  Whatever the reason may be these exercises are not the ones that you can’t wait to do.  This is why individually they are a smaller part of the suitcase, but overall there are more of them than anything else.

Remember no matter what, any fitness routine is about getting results.  If you are not getting results or moving towards getting results in your program then you are just wasting your time.  This doesn’t mean that the things you like to do are not good for you as well, but I guarantee that you will not love all the things that are good for you.  For example, I know that a consistent conditioning program is important for my overall health.  But since I stopped my competitive career I know that it is the toughest thing for me to do consistently.  I do my best to get it in as much as I can, but I know that it is not my favorite and it takes some effort to get it done.

The things that you need to do are important for your overall health in one way or another.  If you do just one or two things you will get you better at those one or two things, and that is it.  Your overall health is dependent on many factors and needs variation to achieve its full potential.  So to get faster results and be able to continue doing what you like to do you need to make the effort to add in those necessary components.  These components will fill up a lot of empty space in your suitcase because there are many smaller pieces to put in.  Once you get these in you are almost ready to go, but not just yet.  You will still have a little bit of space left to make your packing complete.


Part III: Things you hate to do

The last part of your suitcase falls to the category of things you hate to do.  These are exercises or routines that either don’t feel comfortable doing or don’t like how you feel afterwards.  Many times the things you hate to do coincide with the things you need to do so don’t worry about the overlap.   If you notice from the picture the things you hate count for a small amount of your space.  If you do not like to do it, it cannot be your primary form of exercise or you will not do it.  These are the things that you plug in here and there to give yourself a complete program.

On good strategy to get these components in is to add it into a day that you are doing something you like to do if possible.  In this manner you will never have to dwell on getting through what you don’t like.  Learning how and when to incorporate these components into your program, you will have learned how to designed a better training program.  They are important enough that they need to be in your suitcase, but small enough to fit between other components so that everything fits nicely.

Natural Law of Healing Elimination


5. Natural Law of Healing Elimination

The body has the innate ability to detect, select and even reject or eliminate things it doesn’t want, doesn’t need or can’t use.  Said another way, the body will always attempt to reject or rid itself of all things that won’t build health.  This elimination process aims to help ensure that self-preservation and self-healing occur in the most proficient manner possible.  This law explains the reason why they body will have to sometimes enact a “healing crisis” during the rehabilitation process; and although necessary, this may be uncomfortable and intense at times. This law helps to explain the reason why the body will vehemently reject uncomfortable treatment interventions, as well as accustomed stimulants during times of healing.  The body knows instinctively it has no use for these things at such times.


Our bodies are unique to each one of us.  There is not a particular mix of food, drugs, nutrients or supplements that will work for every single person.  Our bodies will react positively to mixes that work for us, but will reject things that it has no use for.  This is the reason that we get sick when we take something that is not made for our bodies.  So trust in the reactions you get when you intake various substances.  If you feel stronger or more lively then it is good for you.  If you get sick or feel lethargic, then something bad is bound to happen down the road if you keep ignoring it.


Natural Law of Healing Nourishment


4) Natural Law of Healing Nourishment

To heal properly, the body must be nourished properly. Correct nourishment consists not only of wholesome food intake, but other nutrients as well.  The ability to utilize all of these nutrients once taken into the body is of equal importance.  Thus, proper nutrition = proper nourishment + the body’s ability to utilize this nourishment.  When working correctly the body has the ability to produce, store and recycle some of the nourishment needed to maintain or regain its health and vitality.  The amount and type of healing nourishment required will always be dependent upon the healing circumstances.


What you eat or put into your body has an important role in how your body will react when needed.  Those that have a balanced nutrition program are more likely to be more resilient to injury and illness and have a better probability of quicker recovery.  The nutrients that you get from food and supplements are designed to keep your body in an optimal state. So knowing that we are limited in certain areas can be a big clue to some of the issues that we go through.  The human body is a complex system that if run properly can achieve great things, but once something is off the damage caused can be limitless.  This law is best relayed by the phrase ” You are what you eat”

Natural Law of Healing Movement


3. Natural Law of Healing Movement

Just as the body needs rest to recuperate and repair itself properly, it needs healing movement also.  Throughout nature the alternating of rest and movement helps to regulate the order of life.  It’s in this rhythmic way that the structure and function of the body can be rehabilitated, and/or maintained in an optimal manner.  Life depends on movement.  At the cellular level movement is needed for proper nutrition, drainage, maintenance, growth and repair.  The fluids that surround these cells must also move for this to occur properly.  The tissues and organs which pump and steer these fluids must move as well, both voluntarily and involuntarily.  Internal healing movement of the body is dependent on external movement of the body as a whole.  Without such movement (exercise) the body will be prone to weakness and degeneration.  Movement should always be proportionate to the body’s needs at any given time.  Depending on the situation too much or too little movement can impair the body’s ability to heal and repair itself correctly.


Yes rest and recovery are important to our body.  Rest allows us to do more physically, to use our minds more efficiently and to fight illnesses more effectively.  But you will never and I stress never will find a healthy person that only rests.  Exercise is an important part to keeping your body fine tuned.  Proper exercise helps to promote muscle growth, decrease fat cells, improves cardiovascular efficiency, strengthens joints and ligaments, strengthens bones, allows for easier movement.  Without exercise your body will fall apart.  The amount of things that would need healing would far out-weigh the benefits you get from resting.  Plus if all you do is rest, are you really resting?  You must get up and get out, exercise will improve your overall quality of life.  Adding consistent exercise and proper rest will help develop your optimal engine and keep you ready for life’s battles.

Natural law of Healing Reserve


2. Natural Law of Healing Reserve

During times of rest the body will store up excesses of vital healing energy in a reserve.  This reserve power may be considered one of the best “therapeutic interventions” that could be utilized during times of special need (i.e. injury or illness).  Stimulants, remedial agents, artificial treatment modalities, and perverted acts against the body can waste this vital reserve power, as the body has to use energy to overcome them.  Reserve power is also utilized, and sometimes wasted, during times of intense activity and exercise.  This explains the need for more rest and less activity during the initial stages of healing.  The body will often feel really tired during this time as it seeks to restore its reserve power, especially if its reserve was low to begin with.  During this time of rest, the closing of many channels of elimination may need to occur as well.  This allows the body to conserve its vital healing power intelligently.  These same waste outlets may then need to be reopened during the healing process, which can give rise to various and sometimes intense healing symptoms, such as pain, mucous discharge, rashes, etc.


Your healing reserve is your immune system.  It is there for you to fight off many attacks.  Your immune system will go up and down depending on what you are doing or how healthy you are.  That is why you are more likely to contract a serious virus when you are under the influence of another illness.  The body only has so much reserve for you to fight back and once used up or weakened it leaves your body open for attacks.  The good thing about the immune system or reserve is that similar to your muscle system, it gets stronger the more you use it.  But also just like your muscle system it needs rest after use to get the optimal benefits of the work done.

On the eve of this flu season you can go and get your flu shot.  They will inject the actual flu virus into you and let your immune system fight it.  The hope of this procedure is that your build up enough reserve to fight off a natural attack of the flu in the future. It is a proven procedure with positive results that hold up as long as your immune system isn’t in constant use.  Build your healing reserve to the fullest and let you body take the natural steps to defeat unwanted illnesses.

The Natural Laws of Healing


This information comes from a past colleague of mine Dr. Sam Mielcarski.  I found a manual that he published back in 2008, he has since created more editions, and found this part of it very interesting.  It puts a good spin on healing and recovery.  I am not saying that everything is the golden rule, but I believe that you can get some very good insight about yourself by reading it.  Over the next twelve days I will cover his “Natural Laws of Healing” and give some of my own feedback. To find out more about Dr. Mielcarski and his Revolutionary Rehab Manual please visit www.RevolutionaryRehab.com


Human Body

Human Body

1. Natural Law of Self-Healing (Self-Preservation)

All of the other natural laws of healing are based on this law.  This is the “Golden Law”.  Above all else, the human body will always do everything and anything it can to stay alive.  Every part of the human organism is endowed with and instinct for self-preservation, including the single cell, groups of cells that make up tissues, layers of tissues that make up organs, and collections of tissues and organs that make up the human species.  So that optimal health may be maintained and/or regained, the body has the inherent ability to repair, replenish, renew and heal itself, or at the very least, tend towards healing.  When the body’s innate healing power is utilized in a way that renders it capable of overcoming any negative or dangerous threats to its survival, self-healing will occur.  However, although the body will always attempt to protect and preserve itself, even when death is inevitable, it may not always be successful, depending on the circumstances both inside and outside the body.


This is probably the most basic life lesson we learn, but because we don’t think about it as a law or principle, we often overlook it.  This is survival of the fittest in the simplest form.  It doesn’t matter the situation that we are in we will always try to find the way out, the way to safety, the way that will prolong life.  It is not in our general nature to just give in to whatever is going on.  In the most carnal worlds of you vs me, we will do whatever we can to make sure that “me” is still standing.

Bacteria attacking a cell

Bacteria attacking a cell

Another way of looking at this is the “Fight vs Flight” paradigm.  We will instantly rationalize in our brain what we believe will be the best course of action for us to take.  This is the same thing that our bodies do on a cellular level.  We will either fight any infection or disease, or we will break down to the point where we need medical assistance.  This happens every day of our lives, continually and most of the time without our voluntary thoughts.  This is the golden law of healing.

Coaches Corner: How to Assess Your Athletes’ Needs Part 2


In part 1 of this article I talked about what you need to look for in assessing your athlete’s performance needs.  Coaches are always looking for the best athletes, but you also need to be able to help develop the athletes that you have.  The four primary areas that you need to consider while looking at your athletes are: The head, the arms, the torso and the legs.  Most athletes will have issues with at least one of these areas.  The younger the athletes the more potential for more issues there are, but do not let this make you believe that older athletes will not have any issues.

Once you figure out what is wrong the next step is to correct it. Again if you are qualified as a sports performance coach or have a strength and conditioning certification you can personally take charge of getting your athletes right.  If you do not have any of the above, don’t just wing it or follow a book.  You will end up doing more harm than good to your athletes.  Find a qualified professional that can help you out and get your players right.  What I do want to do is give you some simple remedies that can help you address each area of concern.  These are things that will help you out if you are in the middle of your season or getting ready for the post-season and time is of the essence.

The Head:  The head needs to be considered the steering device of the body. Basically it will navigate which direction you are moving in.  This is not to say that you cannot look in one direction and move in another, but problem arise when the head moves too much when running.  The simple fix for this is not controlling the head, but controlling the eyes.  You want to get your athletes to focus on a spot in the horizon. I usually say to look at the point where the ground and the sky meet (floor and wall if indoors).  If they can focus their eyes on this point their heads should stay still. The second fix is again is not with the head per say. A lot of times when an athlete’s head moves around you will notice that they are extremely tight in the neck and shoulders.  Get your athletes to relax their necks, drop their shoulders and breathe through every motion and you will see a considerable difference in how they look.

The Arms: This is a bigger problem than most people realize because the only time it becomes and issue is when the athlete looks funny.  In truth it is a huge problem and promotes bad movements.  The first problem is when the arms cross the body.  Just like the head moving from side to side this allows the body to twist while running, causing an inefficient stride pattern.  The fix for this is to tell your athletes not to let their hands cross their mid-line (the buttons on a shirt or a neck tie).  This allows the arms to move in a straight and symmetrical pattern for more efficiency.  The second problem is the arms staying too low.  This does not allow the athlete to drive efficiently.  To help fix this problem you want to tell your athletes to move their hands from the cheek to the hip.  The last problem seen with the arms is athletes moving just the lower arms or basically bending and straightening the elbow. Just like the last problem this does not allow athletes to drive effectively. Proper arm action is generated by the shoulders which allow the body to move more forcefully. Tell your athletes to drive arms down and back forcefully like they are trying to elbow someone behind them.  All three tips together will allow your athletes to use their arms efficiently and effectively while they run.

The Torso: Problems with the torso are probably the most visible of the problems listed in this article.  I know you have seen that athlete that looks like they are going to fall on their face with every step. Or the athlete that seem to stare up in the sky.  Everyone in the world used to talk about Michael Johnson, arguably the best long sprinter of our times because of his upright posture.  Different athletes will have different postures, but you do want to keep a few things consistent.  Have your athletes run as balanced as possible with a slight lean forward. Also have them try to keep their shoulders square in the direction they are running.  Lastly, they need to minimize the unnecessary body movements.  One interesting note about correcting torso issues is that fixing other areas of the body will directly affect how the body moves, so you get more bang for the buck.

The Legs: The problems with the legs are probably the most common and widely varying of all the running problems.  You can see athletes that don’t bend their knees, kick their legs out to the side or do butt kickers as they run.  To fix these problems you need to tell your athletes to think about stepping over the opposite knee on every stride. This will allow them to drive the knee up and build power that they can apply to the ground. The ability to drive the knee up forcefully and then powerfully strike the ground is one of the biggest keys to improving speed. But all of this good work will go for nothing if you do not take care of the most common problem in athletes running wrong, especially younger athletes. To get your athletes to run properly you must get them to stop striking the ground with the whole foot or heel.   You need to tell your athletes to land on the balls of their feet, in layman’s terms to hit the ground with the front of their feet.  I do have to admit that this is not a simple problem to fix.  It takes repeated drills and constant reminders to get athletes to change this issue, but if you remind them often it will help.

Now that you have assessed all the problems and gone through the simple fixes your athletes will be on a better path.  I am not saying that they will now become the fastest players on the field or court, but you should be able to notice some differences.  To make sure that they are getting the appropriate training you need to send them to a qualified professional.  Coaches are in the positions they are in because of what they know about that sport or expertise in a profession.  Yes we all know some things about other sports or training, but beyond the very basic information we have to remind ourselves that we do not know it all and getting the help that we need in other areas can only make us better.  I hope that you did get something out of this article and decide to take a deeper look at your team and their needs.  If you have any questions about this or any other sports performance subject please feel free to contact me.  Now let’s go out there and coach these kids to the best of their abilities.

The Essence of Speed

Image courtesy of freewallpic.com

Image courtesy of freewallpic.com

In athletics these days speed is everything. The more an athlete has the better the opportunities he/she can receive.  Speed is the one attribute that is unquestionable. You can see it clearly as you watch things develop.  It excites fans, drives opposing coaches and players crazy and ignites players no matter what sport.  Speed in sports sets the tone of the game. It can help make decisions, change strategies, and elicit mistakes. Speed is royalty!

Team owners covet players with it. They will pay exorbitant amounts of money for an athlete that possesses great speed, even if that athlete is just about average in the sport. It is the one attribute that owners believe can take their franchise to the top. You will never see a sub-par athlete get a big contract because he has a lot of strength or is smart.  But there are many examples of players making a career out of a sport they barely played because they are fast.  Owners will take a chance on an athlete with speed just because of potential.

Coaches on all levels long for teams with speed at all positions.  They can open up their playbooks and showcase dynamic schemes designed to get results fast.  Many coaches will use players out of position just to utilize that player’s speed.  The options for teams with speed are endless and a coach’s dream.  At the younger ages the kid with the speed will always have the ball in his hands and majority of the time there is nothing the opposing team can do about it.  With the older teams coaches will always try to get the fast kid on the field or court. They know that it can cause problems with their opponent’s game plan. For any coach, too much speed will never be a problem to have.

Players of all ages do everything to develop speed.  They know that they can have better playing options if they are faster.  Coaches will look at them when building their teams. They will most likely get the best playing time, and most of the time they may be able to get specific plays just for them.  Parents these days are spending hundreds of dollars to get their kids speed training development. College and pro athletes spend most of their off-season working with coaches to increase their speed.  Where else could a tenth of a second equate to half a million dollars. Speed is the key to everything athletics.

So with all of this uproar about speed and getting faster my question is; what is the essence of speed?  In Webster’s Dictionary speed is defined as 1 the act or state of moving swiftly, 2 the rate of motion, 3the magnitude of a velocity irrespective of direction. In physics speed is defined as the rate or a measure of the rate of motion, especially distance traveled divided by the time of travel. In Lehman’s terms speed is getting from point A to point B in the least amount of time. When it comes to sports performance and speed development these definitions are the backbone of programs, but the means of getting there is along a different path.  The rest of this article will cover my thought process behind my training philosophy. It will not cover any specific drills or movements, just the concepts that they are designed with.

Image courtesy of wiangya and freedigitalphotos.net

When I start with a new athlete in my speed program the first thing that I cover is technical power development.  Learning the technical power generating movement within each stride (leg movement) is the most important attribute in speed.  If you watch younger athletes and slower athletes the main thing that you will see is that they have no power in their movements. Even if they are strong, the way they move will never generate the necessary power to run fast.  So the first step in speed development is learning the power generating position which is getting the knees up.

The second step that I cover is how to use the generated power.  Once they learn how to get their knees up or build power they need to effectively and efficiently use that power in their stride.  Applying force or popping the ground will distribute the power built up in their legs to the ground, thus facilitating movement.  The main thing that an athlete cannot do at this stage is land on flat feet.  If this happens all of the generated power will be dissipated and resulting in slower speeds. So the second step in speed development is learning how to apply force to the ground.

The third step can be summed up in a scientific statement; “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.  When it comes to speed development this covers the proper movement pattern needed to be fast.  When the foot hits the ground the amount of force that is put into it will be given back.  This results in a longer more powerful stride. But this only occurs if the athlete demonstrates the “opposite” part of the statement.  Each stride must hit the ground under or behind the athlete so that the reactive force will be in the form of forward movement.  So the third step is to powerfully hit the ground behind or under the body so that the reaction will be a longer more powerful stride.

This is the essence of speed.  Being able to build power with each stride and apply that force to the ground under or behind the body at a quick rate!

This will cause each athlete to cover more ground with each stride at a faster pace. And if you remember the definitions from earlier speed is covering a specific distance in a shorter amount of time.

The Result: More speed and a faster athlete!!

Sports Performance Warm up Variations


The warm-up is one of the most important parts of each training session, practice and game.  It is what gets athletes ready to compete.  A proper warm-up will increase the core body temperature, increase dynamic flexibility and mentally progress the athlete to game ready.  The most important component of a great warm-up program is the progression.  A great warm-up is not just a collection of exercises done randomly, but rather it is a precise sequence that will take the body from rest to optimal readiness.  If you as a coach can master a great warm-up you can be assured that your athletes will be physically and mentally ready to perform.

Here are some warm-up variations that you can use to give your team that extra edge on each day’s event.

Warm-up #1

Set up an area 10 yards in length and as wide as you need it to be.  Each drill will start with your athletes on the line in a running start position.  As coach you give the command to go for each rep.


Lunge to Hamstring                              d

Lunge Rotation                                      b

Knee Hugs                                            d

Quad Pulls                                            b

Frankenstein Walks                               d

Frankenstein Skips                                b

Straight Leg Runs                                  d

High Knee Runs                                     b

Forward/Backward Buttkicks                  d/b

Forward/Backward Skips                        d/b

Sprints                                                   2-3 x 30 yards


Warm-up #2

Set up an area 15 yards in length and as wide as you need it to be.  Each drill will start with your athletes on the line in a running start position.  As coach you give the command to go for each rep.


Jog                                                       d/b

Forward/Backward Skip                        d/b

Forward/Backward Buttkicks                 d/b

Frankenstein Walks                               d

Frankenstein Skips                                b

Carioca                                                  d/b

Power Skips                                           d

Bound Skips                                           b

Backward Jog                                         d

Sprint                                                     b


For a more detailed description of any drill please contact Julian Amedee at julian@sfxfitness.com.



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