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Great Snacks for Young Athletes

Every youth sports parents knows that you can’t show up to a soccer match or baseball game without a tub of snacks and drinks in tow. However, the unhealthy eats that tend to be on sale during sports season aren’t always the most nutritious option for an active child. When considering pre-, mid-, and post-activity snacks, avoid doling out candy, chips, crackers and other foods that are high in fats and sugars and lacking in necessary nutrients. Create snacks and quick meals that offer vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fluids. Snacks for young athletes provide necessary nutrients while still appealing to their craving for salty, sweet, and refreshing foods. Water and fresh fruit are great for half-time and after performances. However, parents can choose from a number of creative options that children will love. Remember, young athletes should always have a snack one to two hours before their activities!

Pre-Game Energy Boosters

Apple slices with nut butter offer protein, vitamins and fluid. Strawberry cheesecake roll-ups are simply low-fat or fat-free cream cheese spread on a tortilla and topped with sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of sugar. Roll and cut into bite-sized pieces. Both options also provide the carbohydrates needed as fuel. The fiber and protein also stay in the stomach longer, which ensures the energy boost lasts. Other good carbohydrate options include meals containing meat and starchy or brightly-colored vegetables. Macaroni and cheese remains an all-time favorite with children.

Half-Time Break Snacks

As time is limited, quick snacks of fresh fruit provide vitamins, minerals and an energy boost along with much-needed rehydration. Fruit juice infused water is the right combination for replacing lost fluid and electrolytes. Fresh fruit is always an ideal option and may include:

  • Clementine or orange slices
  • Apple and pear slices
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Halved bananas
  • Melon chunks

Post-game Snacks

After a practice, game or other physically demanding activity, youngsters need to rehydrate. If they perspired under the hot sun, they also need to replenish their electrolytes. A combination of carbohydrates and protein before and after activities helps replenish energy while providing muscles and connective tissues with the nutrients needed to recover and repair. Good post-activity recommendations include:

  • Fresh fruit, frozen fruit pops or fruit leather
  • Fig bar or oatmeal cookies
  • Bagels or crackers topped with nut butter, low-fat or fat-free cream cheese and fruit slices
  • Pudding cups
  • String cheese
  • Trail mix
  • Yogurt

 

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.org

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Strategies for Effective Delegation

Entrepreneurs are detail-oriented people. They know what they want, when they want it, and exactly which steps they need to take to achieve their business goals. This dual focus on big-picture goals and tiny details is invaluable for those working to get their startups or small businesses off the ground. It can, however, sometimes get in the way for entrepreneurs who have made their business dreams a reality and are trying to maintain that iron grip over the venture’s day-to-day happenings. At some point, even the most control-oriented entrepreneur needs to trust that the employees she delegates to can handle the work – maybe even better than she herself can! Here, I outline a few tips I’ve found useful as a delegating entrepreneur.

Prepare

Don’t just throw a task on an employee’s desk and expect it to be done the way you imagine. Before you even reach out to the employee, you should outline the specifics of the task you plan to delegate. Put yourself in your subordinate’s shoes: what would you ask a manager if they dropped this assignment in your inbox? Have a few answers prepared and ready at hand. Remember, you yourself need to have a clear understanding of the task at hand – otherwise, how could you possibly convey it properly?

Communicate Clearly

A worker needs to know what you expect to be done, how you expect it to be done, and when you need it to be done by. By setting clear expectations upfront, you pave the way to a smooth project execution and delivery later on. That said, managers must keep in mind that how information is conveyed matters just as much as the information itself. Check your tone and attitude! Do employees feel willing to ask questions? If not, you may find yourself needing to rectify miscommunications and mishandled projects down the line.

Confirm Understanding and Commitment

Never assume that an employee understands a project without confirming with them first. Misunderstandings can lead workers to complete tasks incorrectly and ultimately waste their time – and yours! Before you formally hand off a project, ask the employee questions about the task at hand to ensure that they fully understand their responsibilities, deliverables, and deadlines.

Follow Up

Effective communication is a two-way street. Periodically check in with your subordinates to make sure that their projects are on-track and that they themselves are comfortable and engaged in their work. Ideally, they should feel comfortable reaching out to you when they encounter a problem or need clarification on project details. Regular communication between manager and employee builds accountability, and accountability prevents last-minute mistakes.

Don’t Hover

Relinquishing control can be difficult for detail-driven entrepreneurs, but it is an absolute necessity for long-term business success. One individual can’t handle every aspect of a business! Don’t try to hover or micromanage projects, but trust that the people you hired can handle what you give them. If an employee seems to be veering off-course, try coaching them through the problem rather than stealing the task back. Remember, taking projects you’ve delegated back only overloads your own plate, undermines the employee’s confidence, and produces a lesser-quality product.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.com

Benefits of After-School Sports

After-school sports have a lot to offer children as they grow into young adults. In addition to being great for a young person’s physical health and well-being, youth sports have a wide range of mental and social benefits; they teach children the value of teamwork, resilience, and hard work. As a parent, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits that after-school athletics can offer children, and I highly recommend that other parents consider signing their children up for a seasonal sport or extracurricular activity. Let’s take a look at how after-school activities can benefit youths.

Establish Discipline and Commitment

Committing to a sport means waking up early on a game day – even when you don’t feel like rolling out of bed. This dedication is a great lesson for children to learn in preparation for becoming a young adult. It takes time and discipline to achieve an athletic skill set; over time, the children will learn firsthand that they have to work for what they want. They will also feel proud of themselves for going on those days when putting in the effort led to their having a good time or reaching a new milestone.

Learn Emotional Management

It can be frustrating to lose a game or struggle over a new skill. Experiencing these difficulties will teach your child to better handle negative emotions and prioritize good sportsmanship over personal frustrations. This will ultimately lead to more emotional stability and helping the child better process emotionally charged situations off of the field. Learning how to win gracefully has a similarly positive impact; children can both build their confidence and learn how to celebrate with humility.

Maintain Physical Health

Participating in team sports helps your child maintain their physical health and refine their basic motor-skills. It is also an opportunity for your child to learn their limits and athletic capabilities. Knowing when to push harder and when to stop is essential, and taking part in a  sport is one of the best ways to test (and set) limits and boundaries. Parents can help push this self-care even further by showing their athletes how eating the right foods can impact their game positively or negatively. You are never too young to benefit from healthy eating habits.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.org

4 Great Foodie Podcasts

For a foodie, the second best thing to picking up a fork and indulging in a delicious dish is to learn about how the food was crafted. Today, learning about the art of food is as easy as popping on headphones and pushing play. Below is a list of the best foodie podcasts sure to take you on a culinary adventure.

A Time and a Plate

This is the food podcast for history buffs. A Time and a Plate delves into the basic notion that everyone has to eat to live. The peasant in medieval times had to eat in the same way that a CEO of a Fortune 500 company today has to eat. Consuming food connects us to our human nature and to each other throughout history. While episodes are sporadically released averaging at only a handful per year, each one explores the historical and cultural context of a general food that we enjoy today, such as bread, spices, or chocolate. Each episode explains how the food came into existence, what its purpose was, and how it functioned in the society of the time period.

Bite by Mother Jones

Bite explores the science behind food and its consumption. Mother Jones editors Kiera Butler and Maddie Oatman collaborate with food/farming blogger Tom Philpott to interview acclaimed experts on all things related to food, including chefs, farmers, and scientists. The panel discusses the sociology and politics behind what we eat with topics ranging from how hippies reinvented American cuisine to whether fast food can be considered healthy.

Spilled Milk

The premise of this podcast is that comedians Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton decide to talk about a specific food and see how long they can keep the conversation going. When they say specific, they mean very specific; With episode topics such as handheld meat pies, breath mints, Hawaiian junk food, and boxed macaroni and cheese, it’s a comedic ride through common eats. Each installment is a quick listen, with most episodes clocking in around half hour and with over 300 episodes released you’ll be able to indulge in binge listening.

The Slow Melt
Devoted solely to chocolate, The Slow Melt was awarded 2017’s best food podcast by Saveur Magazine. This podcast explores every aspect of the $100 billion chocolate industry from its flavor to its impact on climate change. Interviews are conducted with individuals involved in every step of the chocolate making process, from farmers to the chocolate makers themselves. Simran Sethi, the podcast’s host, views chocolate just not as a simple food, but as “a delicious lens through which to explore the world.”

*Originally published on PhilipWardSeattle.net

5 Youth Sports Your Child Should Try

Participating in sports gives children an outlet for physical activity, and serves as a fun alternative to electronic games. The experience also gives them a chance to develop communication skills and cooperative behavior patterns. Sports offer opportunities to instill self-discipline and foster a competitive drive to achieve. By joining a team, children learn how to balance their time commitments and gain experience in vibrant interpersonal environments. With all of the possible benefits, the challenging part isn’t deciding whether or not to enroll a child in a sport, but deciding which ones may be best. Read on for some helpful information about five appealing sports options.

 

Soccer

 

This sport offers plenty of opportunities to develop fast footwork and quick-thinking skills. Players use core muscle strength to maintain balance while shifting directions and scanning the field to decide on their next move. Spending time on the field will help children develop their communication skills and push them into greater cardiovascular exercise. Boosted endurance and better-developed interpersonal skills typically follow as a result.

 

Swimming

 

Children who swim learn the importance of water safety, the value of which extends way beyond the arena of sports. They also complete exercises that tone muscles and improve lung capacity. Unlike some sports, swimming is low-impact and allows competitive participants to take part both as individuals and team members.

 

Archery

 

Children who dedicate themselves archery hone their ability to concentrate and wait patiently. Archery practice is wonderful for hand eye coordination. All this said, finding a qualified teacher may prove challenging to find in some regions.  If you are lucky, you may be able to find a formal archery learning center that offers indoor and/or outdoor experiences. However, less specialized venues such as nature centers and athletic clubs may also provide seasonal or limited classes.

 

Dance

 

Creative children often love the self-expression found in dance. This sport improves flexibility and emphasizes good posture. Students who take part in dance classes memorize various routines and positions, and learn to keep their composure in front of an audience.

 

Volleyball

 

Students who take up volleyball have many chances to practice communication skills. Hard work and social skills are big components of playing competitive volleyball. Practicing and playing volleyball is a great way to improve both physical and mental power.

 

With all of the great options available, there is really no reason not to try out a youth sport option. By enrolling their children in sports, parents help their children learn about commitment and how to balance their victories and defeats. Moreover, young athletes can find a lifelong passion take strides to develop their interpersonal and physical skills by trying out a sport. It is a well-rounded learning opportunity and worthwhile experience.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.org

End Hunger in America: Why We Need Soup Kitchens

It’s five o’clock on a school night, and the cupboards are stripped bare. A mother scans her cupboard shelves, hoping in vain that she overlooked something – a stray bag of dried lentils or a can of chicken soup. She steps back a few minutes later with empty hands. Her children are eligible for free lunches at school and so haven’t become hungry enough to ask for food yet, but she knows that they will soon. She herself opted out of lunch, rationalizing that the money she would make in the hour was worth a few hours of hunger. But now, facing the empty shelves, the pangs she feels take on a greater intensity. She worked all day to feed her children, but the shelves are bare and payday a week away – so what can she do?

 

Hunger is a real and serious problem in America. In my home state of Washington, one in eight people lack the food needed to fulfill basic nutritional needs. The statistics are even worse for children; according to an October 2017 report by Northwest Harvest, one in five Washingtonian children live in a family that struggles to put food on the table. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of hungry families in the state skyrocketed from 88,000 to 163,000. These statistics are made more frustrating by the fact that the vast majority of working-age Washingtonians who grapple with poverty are actively working or looking for work. Despite working long hours and putting in Herculean efforts, many parents are left unable to provide for their children’s basic nutritional needs and give up their own meals to feed their families. Like the mother above, they are left in the frustrating position of coming home from a long day of work, only to be met by an empty pantry.

 

Hunger and its frequent companion, homelessness, is a widespread and complex issue that can’t be solved in a day. Rather, these issues will require close collaboration between communities and lawmakers to ensure that hardworking parents have the means and opportunity to provide for their children. However, this process will likely be years in the making and will not solve our real and present need. In the meantime, soup kitchens can help alleviate some of the burden that providers like the mother in the opening scenario face. Food banks and charity kitchens are vital to every community; Northwest Harvest reports that one in six Washington residents – well over a million people total – rely on their local food bank for sustenance. We need to come together as community members to aid those who struggle with hunger.

In the past few months, my family and I have taken strides to help fight the hunger epidemic in Washington. In late December, we held a dinner at the Renton Salvation Army Food Bank in Seattle. By the end of the night, we had fed over 200 people. We look forward to doing our part to end hunger in America by supporting more events in the upcoming months.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.net

Keeping Cool: Strategies for Crisis Management

Philip Ward Washington suggests a few crisis management strategies.

 

Crisis is inevitable, especially for rising businesses. Eventually, some communication mix-ups will occur; important projects will fall apart, colleagues will clash, details will be missed, and company missteps will blare across social media platforms. In situations like these, it’s easy for CEOs and team leaders to fall into a panic and begin rushing about attempting to solve the issue – only to find that their mad attempts to patch problems has made them significantly worse.

Needless to say, crisis management can make or tank a business. Successful entrepreneurs must fight the urge to panic and keep a cool head in order to guide their company through troubling times. A few strategies for handling unforeseen company meltdowns are listed below.

Stay Calm

Employees take their behavioral cues from their leaders. Think, would you be able to rationally tackle a problem if you saw your boss storming about, raging online and snapping at employees? Keep calm and set an example for your employees by staying positive. Try to steer clear of stressful hypotheticals. Odds are, the disaster you envision befalling your company won’t occur unless you panic and grossly mishandle the situation. Stay focused and take steps to solve the issue at hand rationally!

Communicate Effectively

Communication is key, both internally and in the media. Make sure to circulate a memo or set a meeting to lay out the facts about an incident before going to the press; the last thing you need in a crisis is to see a disgruntled employee tearing the company apart online after taking office gossip as fact. Then, make a plan. Decide who will talk to the press and what they will say when they do so. Our instinctual response to accusations of wrongdoing is to defend ourselves – however, an impulsive answer can land even a well-meaning representative in hot water if their words are ill-spoken or misconstrued by the media.

Implement Preventative Measures

When faced with work-related stress, most people search for someone to blame. However, starting a witch hunt and offering up a scapegoat for the company’s problems won’t solve the core issue at hand. Take a day or so to find out the root cause of the problem. If a person or persons caused said issue, consider why and how they were able to throw the company into a problematic situation. Times of crisis are stressful and unwanted, but they also serve as learning experiences. What might your company learn about it weaknesses in a crisis? Consider the question carefully, and implement changes that will strengthen your company’s structure and systems for the future.

*Originally published on PhilipWardWashington.Strikingly.com