Tag Archives: Adam Kleinert


Working Toward Some Peace | FamFitter

By Adam & Kristin Kleinert 

Last month, we briefly illustrated the effects stress often has on our family. If you didn’t catch that particular column, just know that the role stress plays in our household is significant, both individually and as a family unit. And, because we agreed that our current stressors are simply a reality of a lifestyle we love, we decided to explore and employ some new management and coping skills.

First, we took a look into the concept of visualization and, particularly, how it relates to personal focus and anxiety management. We spoke with a local expert to learn about benefits of a visualization practice and we researched methods for application. This month, we began trying out some of the methods we learned. Additionally, we discovered and utilized several other concepts that proved to be effective.

Visualization, Guided Relaxation & Simple Meditation 

Visualization practice was an appealing jumping off point for us. Proponent studies have shown very positive results for people who sought improvement in multiple areas in which our family struggles. Because we each deal with stress a bit differently and also are each seeking results for varying issues, we decided this method might be a great place to start.

We began with basics such as sitting in a quiet space and simply imagining success in

an area where we needed improvement. These areas obviously vary among the individuals in our clan (for instance, Dad isn’t searching for test-taking focus, nor is Mom looking to improve her performance on the basketball court) but the concept is the same. Quiet space, open mind, visualizing a tangible, desired outcome.

As we sought more information and delved a bit deeper, we added other elements to the practice. List-making, strategy building, goal setting, reflection. We began coupling these exercises with the practice of a concept called “Crocodile Breathing” and, before we knew it, we began seeing results.

For our two youngest children, we downloaded several different free apps that offered guided relaxation and simple meditation. (We felt the above mentioned practices might still be a bit above their heads for now.) Both have seemed to enjoy giving these a try, especially at bedtime. As time passes, we’d like to add a brief meditation they can employ to calm and center themselves when they are personally overwhelmed, but for now, we’re satisfied with the improved ease of relaxation.



We stumbled onto the idea of journaling as kind of a side note. It was suggested to us by two different facets, almost the same time. The program our son Eli has been utilizing to gain focus and reduce performance anxiety recommends journaling as an integral portion of its exercises. Coincidentally, our daughter Molly was added to a program at her elementary school in which students begin their morning with quiet journaling before joining the hustle and bustle of the school day.

We were aware of the therapeutic benefits journaling can offer those who partake in it, but we overlooked the additional perks that can be experienced. Both kids (and the adults with whom they interact) noticed a reduction in stress level after each journal session. However, they also seemed to feel more in control of their own anxieties. In addition, Eli’s journal assignments have seemed to help him to become more organized and maintain his focus surrounding important tasks.

Crocodile Breathing 

Another – and quite possibly the most important – skill we’ve put into practice is that of “Crocodile Breathing.” While the concept itself is nothing new, the proper way to employ this method of intentional breath has become more well-known as both mental and physical health professionals are widely recognizing its certain benefits. This breath practice is a key element in meditative visualization and relaxation, and can also be an important catalyst for achieving the physical well-being of one’s body core. (See box for details on Crocodile Breath.)

How It’s Working for Us 

As with most of the endeavors we’ve undertaken, we are still a work in progress. We aren’t living a stress-free life, but we’re making definite improvements. Admittedly, several members of our crew are currently more invested than others, and obviously, our younger two aren’t as capable of understanding some of the concepts quite yet. But overall, we’re seeing better coping skills and a more proactive mentality. For now, that feels like success. At the very least, this has already become one of our most enlightening adventures and we’ve only just begun.


We had heard the term “Crocodile Breathing” many times, but decided to reach out to a local professional for some instruction and advice. Renee Belcher of Four Barrel CrossFit is not only trained in this type of instruction but also is an enthusiastic proponent of this concept. She stresses the physical benefits, as well as the importance, of breath focus.

“We’re chest-breathers, and that’s not what’s healthiest for our bodies. We need to put more focus into using our diaphragms. It’s so important to activate those core muscles with breath that expands our core in a 360-degree function,” Renee said.

She explained that practicing the proper mechanics of the “Crocodile Breath” is the most effective, corrective exercise for retraining ourselves to breath properly. She added that, with regular mindful practice, this type of breath will become habitual. Finally, she emphasized how beneficial diaphragmatic breathing can be for physical and mental well-being.

Renee elaborated, “When you use the crocodile breath model for breathing, you’re encouraging greater thoracic mobilization. You’re enhancing all of the key core muscles, you’re stabilizing your spine, you’re preparing your body for healthy movement. This is ideal to utilize pre-workout as well as for mindful breath sessions, like visualization or relaxation. ”

Here is a brief explanation of the basic steps involved in Crocodile Breathing. The link at the bottom is a great (and very short) online video that can provide audio and visual advice to easily let you try the concept out with your family.

Start in a prone (lying on your stomach) position on the floor.

Bring your fists together and rest your forehead gently on your hands. This creates neutral position of the head and neck, for both a clear airway as well as relaxed neck and shoulder muscles.

Keep legs straight and toes pointed down.

Relax into this position.

Inhale 4-6 seconds, Hold 2-4 secaonds, Exhale 4-6 seconds.

As you breath, focus on the expansion of your belly into the floor as well through the diaphragm.

Finally, bring focus to a 360-degree expansion on the inhale: belly into the floor, through the sides of the torso, as well as into the lower back.

Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ibSb6jQ3Ec for video and more information!


NCAA Men’s Basketball Predictions

We asked a panel of “experts” to weigh in on the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball season. Here’s what they said.


SURPRISE TEAM: Virginia Tech. I think they will be much tougher than people realize and it wouldn’t shock me if they are a Sweet 16 team this season.

DISAPPOINTING TEAM: North Carolina. They seem to be a preseason Top 10 team with a lot of question marks.

FINAL FOUR: Duke, Florida, West Virginia, Kansas

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Miles Bridges, Michigan State

COACH OF THE YEAR: Bob Huggins, West Virginia

JIM BIERY, Extol Sports Columnist

SURPRISE TEAM: Northwestern. First trip ever last year & majority of team coming back.

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: UK. Top returning scorer just 4.6 PPG.

FINAL FOUR: Arizona, Michigan St, Villanova, Duke

PLAYER OF YEAR: Ethan Happ (Wisconsin) complete game defense & offense

COACH OF YEAR: Tom Izzo. Team is loaded and he is one of top teachers of the game.

ZACH MCCRITE, Extol Sports Columnist

SURPRISE TEAM: I’ll go with the homer pick for me: Indiana. Archie Miller went right to work in recruiting and, by all national accounts, really did well. Combine that with a new energy around Bloomington and why wouldn’t they return to the NCAA Tournament in 2018?

DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Louisville. With Rick Pitino not roaming the sidelines, I can’t imagine the expectations for this season being met. That’s no knock on new head coach David Padgett, it’s just a testament to my respect for Pitino as a coach.

FINAL FOUR: Shot in the dark: Kentucky, Kansas, West Virginia and Florida.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jalen Brunson – Villanova. That’s off the board a little, but his effective field goal percentage was 61.9 last season. That sounds like a number a seven-footer would have. He’s a point guard!

COACH OF THE YEAR: Give me Bill Self. He’ll continue to run the Big 12 and will do it with more ease than in recent seasons.

STEVE KAUFMAN, Extol Sports Writer

First of all, anyone who tries to predict pretty much anything is a fool. So I do not stand behind any of these picks – unless I’m right!

SURPRISE TEAM: Missouri; great freshman class, especially the Porter brothers

DISAPPOINTING TEAMS: Duke, preseason No. 1 – I don’t think they’ll finish No. 1; Louisville, preseason No. 16 – just way too much turmoil, loss of a great coach, replaced by an inexperienced rookie coach, simply unfair to him; Minnesota, preseason No. 15 – not a good year for the Pitino family

FINAL FOUR: Kentucky, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida (or some other four teams)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michael Porter Jr., Missouri or Kevin Knox, Kentucky

COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike White, Florida (for no particular reason, except he’s done good things there and I think will continue to do good things); second choice – Archie Miller, Indiana

REX BEYERS, Professional Oddsmaker/SoIN native



FINAL FOUR: Xavier, Villanova, West Virginia, Arizona

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jevon Carter, West Virginia

COACH OF THE YEAR: Chris Mack, Xavier

ADAM KLEINERT, Extol Sports Art Director & Sports Fan



FINAL FOUR: Duke, Wichita State, Michigan State, Kansas

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marvin Bagley III, Duke

COACH OF THE YEAR: Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

JEFF NUNN, CardinalSportsZone.com



FINAL FOUR: Duke, Michigan State, Arizona, Xavier

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Grayson Allen, Duke

COACH OF THE YEAR: Sean Miller – Arizona


Abel Belcher demonstrates the right way.

Health Corner | Helmet Safety

Buckle Up! Here’s Why You Should Go Head-First Into Bicycle Safety With Your Kiddo

By Angie Fenton | Photos by Adam Kleinert 

Less than five minutes after posting a photo of my toddler, Olive, on her new tricycle while haphazardly wearing her helmet on social media, I received three inbox messages essentially saying, “Your daughter’s helmet isn’t on correctly.”

Granted, we were in our carpeted living room and had only posted the photo for fun, but I took the messages seriously. Surely, I knew how to put a helmet on correctly…didn’t I? I mean, I’d only put it on for fun, but once we took her new trike outside, would she be protected?

Abel Belcher demonstrates the wrong way.

Abel Belcher demonstrates the wrong way.

Almost 400,000 children younger than 19 years of age are treated in U.S. emergency departments every year for bicycle-related injuries. In 2016, Norton Children’s Hospital had 22 bike versus motor vehicle injuries and 183 bike-related injuries.

Even if we were just tooling around in the driveway, I thought after learning the statistics, how can I keep my daughter safe?

First and foremost, said Sharon Rengers with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness, anyone riding a bicycle – or tricycle – regardless of age, needs to wear a helmet that meets safety standards. Look for ones that have the Consumer Product Safety Commission or American National Standards Institute stickers on them. I bought mine at Target brand-new. Speaking of which…

Sure, used clothes and toys are awesome and save money, but “kind of like car seats,” said Rengers, “they’re good for one crash. You can’t always tell if it’s been in a crash or not.”

Abel Belcher demonstrates the right way.

Abel Belcher demonstrates the right way.

So, if you are looking at used – which is NOT advised – look for cracks inside and outside the helmet and any evidence of a crash of any kind. “I personally would rather just get a new (helmet) instead of trusting that it’s not been damaged before,” said Rengers, and I agree. Safety first. Always.

When it comes to the proper fit, the helmet needs to sit level on the head. Put two fingers above the eyebrow; that’s where the front of the helmet should be sitting, said Rengers.

Then, be sure one strap is placed before the ear and one strap is behind it. After snapping the straps together, an adult should be able to fit only one finger below the chin. Ask your child to open his or her mouth as wide as they can; they should feel the snugness. But remember: “It’s really important that you have it level so you’re protecting all lobes of their brain,” Rengers advised.

My tot isn’t exactly going for a jaunt on her parent-steered bike, so does she really need a helmet beyond the factor that (let’s face it) she looks super cute?

“Yes,” said Rengers, emphatically, “you really need a helmet – even on the driveway, on the sidewalk in front of your house or any time.”

In addition to safety, what you’re also teaching is a pattern, Rengers explained. “It’s like wearing a seatbelt. You do it every time so when (kids) are big and on their own, they do it every time.”

If you want more information about bicycle helmet safety call Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness at 502.629.7358.

Some days Brahm would rather work on the ballfield
instead of play on it...and that’s ok.

Fam Fitter | Fostering Individual Enthusiasm

By Adam & Kristin Kleinert 

Some days Brahm would rather work on the ballfield instead of play on it...and that’s ok.

Some days Brahm would rather work on the ballfield
instead of play on it…and that’s ok.

When we began our journey to become a fitter family, we chose a cohesive approach to overall family health. This concept appealed to us not only due to the simplicity just one plan can be to implement, but also because we place such value in our time spent together. Thus far, the journey has been enlightening and even fun. But we are raising four different humans with four very different personalities. Keeping our tribe motivated to stay active means fostering each individual’s enthusiasm for movement.

We know our kids. We are hands-on parents and involved in every aspect of their lives. However, we thought it might be more fun – and enlightening – if we asked each of them their preferred way to be active. After all, kids change. They grow and adapt and are exposed to new ideas on an almost-daily basis. How better to foster motivation than to offer a current favorite when it comes to exercise?


Brahm was born 13 weeks premature and spent a couple of months in the NICU before coming home after birth. Combine that with the fact that he’s the youngest of the brood, and you can probably deduce that we go a little easy on him. We didn’t sign him up for sports as early as we did the others, and we’ve been a little overly excited about each physical milestone he’s met and most likely a little too worried about the asthma he’s developed. Despite our parenting precautions, Brahm is an active little guy and you’d rarely find him holding still. He’d rather be outside than in, and spends as many daylight hours as possible riding, digging, building, running, etc.

When we asked Brahm what is his favorite way to exercise, he wrinkled his nose and replied, “Um, I guess…push-ups.”

After giggling at this a bit (because, really? who loves push-ups?), we explained to him that exercise can be anytime he is moving and maybe even sweaty. He responded much more enthusiastically, “I like working on stuff outside. That gets me sweaty. And I like to swim.”


Molly is definitely our least active kiddo, though she’s far from sedentary. Remember when I mentioned how kids change and grow? That’s Molly. She reinvents herself regularly and her interests vary accordingly. She’s tried several different sports, but usually loses interest after a time. (We’ve learned she often comes back around, so we do hang onto equipment and athletic gear.)

Recently, Molly surprised us by announcing that she planned to join the cross-country team at school. Since she has never enjoyed running, we weren’t sure if she understood just what “cross country” means. When we asked her, she simply rolled her eyes. “I know what it is, Mom. It’s running. Like, running far.”

Our next order of business was to see if she could complete a mile without stopping. She surprised us again by going out and doing just that with Dad jogging alongside. Finally, we agreed to look into the logistics of her actually joining the team. (Fourth graders are allowed to run with the older kids at our school, but there is technically no team for Molly’s grade level.) In the end, Molly wasn’t able to run on the team this season. Which brings us to the biggest surprise of all: She’s still been running. Often. And of her own accord.

We asked Molly what her preference for exercise is currently, and (not surprisingly, because she IS Molly) she did NOT report running. “I like riding my bike and I love capture the flag.”

ELI, 12 

When it comes to staying active, Eli has it nailed. We never stress about a lack of exercise for Eli, and we have to put more than a little effort into making sure he gets some rest. In fact, he burns so many calories that it’s a daily battle to make sure he eats enough. He often stays after school for a practice and then goes straight to yet another practice or game. He spends his little bit of free time engaged in some type of high intensity activity.

Eli is always game for any type of exercise suggested. He’s so active that I truly did wonder what he’d choose when asked about his favorite type of movement.

“I mostly like to play basketball,” he said. “And baseball. And soccer and track and working out in the gym. Oh, and we’ve been playing this game in P.E. called Hunger Games Dodgeball.”

Yep. I should have known.


So far, Syd has been easy on us in the “raising a teenager” arena. She’s not defiant, nor is she sneaky and irresponsible. (In fact, she’s more responsible than us sometimes, but that’s a whole other article.) She does, however, experience the mood swings and fatigue that come with adolescence. Though typical and even understandable, this behavior can make it hard to motivate her toward exercise sometimes.

Luckily, Sydney has always enjoyed sports and she is on the basketball, golf and track teams at our high school. Daily practices keep her active and fit, and being on the team means she has to attend even when she may not feel like getting up and moving. Though homework has put a bit of damper on the amount of free time Syd has available, she can usually be coerced into a workout or a jog on non-practice days.

“If I’m going to pick an exercise or a workout, I’d probably pick a solo run or an interesting cross-fit WOD,” she said. “Also, I like playing games like kickball and dodgeball because I don’t realize I’m exercising.”


Motivation means a lot when it comes to physical activity. Enthusiasm for an activity can go a long way toward keeping your own clan excited to participate in a form of exercise.

When an individual’s personalities and preferences are recognized and considered, commitment to fitness becomes much more consistent.

Kids change their preferences, and that’s okay. It’s a great idea to talk to them to learn about their current interests surrounding exercise.

Siblings are most often different from one another. While family activity is important, remember to recognize and foster each individual’s enthusiasm for movement.

Building and maintaining a healthy family is an evolution. We’re working on it diligently, but we’ve got much more to learn!

Don’t forget to visit www. ExtolSports.com to check out the FamFitter newsletter. This e-post section is your quick link to great recipes, family tips and fun exercise ideas you can use to make your own family fitter. 



What’s in Your Lunchbox?


By Adam & Kristin Kleinert

By Adam &
Kristin Kleinert

Editor’s Note: Normally, Kristin Kleinert and her husband Adam pen this column together. This time, Kristin took the helm. 

My job at our local school includes daily cafeteria duty for kindergarten/first grade lunch. Believe me when I say that this ritual is a whole institution in itself: It’s messy and chaotic, and it’s NEVER boring.

Lately, however, I’ve been noticing more about what’s in student lunchboxes. Sure, that’s partly because I’m constantly being asked to peel back applesauce lids and poke straws into milk cartons, but it’s largely due to the rather fascinating selection of cuisine being toted into school each day.

I should mention that parents aren’t slacking when it comes to packing plenty of food in the lunchbox. These kids are bringing LOTS to eat, and the variety from table to table is diverse.

I’m always intrigued when I see new food items in clever little packages that were obviously manufactured just for lunch-bringers, as well as when I spot a kiddo whose parent/personal chef sent something yummy in a fancy, stackable container that is as aesthetically pleasing as the gourmet entrée packed inside. It’s fun and interesting to check it all out, and it’s part of my day – everyday – thus, it’s a subject that’s on my mind. And so,I’ve been thinking…

How can I be better at this? Am I really packing healthy lunches that fuel my kids’ brains and bodies?

I reached out to Southern Indiana based nutritionist Tarah Chieffi. In addition to a career in nutrition, Tarah has children of her own and is no stranger to young palates and picky eaters. She graciously discussed a few ideas I could implement when planning and packing lunches for my own tribe, and I wanted to share them here. We began by discussing the purpose of school lunch: to refuel and replenish, and, then, to sustain.

“We want to our kids to eat school lunches that power them and then keep them full for the duration of their day,” explained Tarah. “A big hindrance to that is all the added sugars kids often eat at lunch time. It causes them to crash not long after the meal is over.”

While we know snack cakes and sodas are all chocked full of sugar and sweeteners, we are less aware of the large amounts of sugar kids get from popular lunchtime items, like yogurts and juice boxes.

Tarah explained that while these foods are kid-pleasing and easy to toss into the bag, our kids are often using up the small amount of fuel they can actually gain from them. Then, they quickly come back down to quite a low afterward and are left to drag through their afternoons, sometimes even becoming really hungry as they anxiously await after-school snack time.

Tarah suggested looking for ways we can cut down on the sugar we’re sending in lunches. “For instance, it’s extremely hard to find flavored yogurt that doesn’t have a lot of extra sugar. Parents can try buying plain yogurt and sweetening it a little with honey. Or just tossing in some fresh berries or fruit.”

She added that when it comes to lunchtime drinks, water is usually the best way to go.

While many kids claim they don’t care to drink it, most will do so when it’s the only option available. (Trust me, every single one of those kiddos can’t WAIT for their turn at the water fountain when we’ve been out to recess.)

Lunchbox-sized waters are inexpensive and available at almost every supermarket. Even better, parents can send in small, reusable water bottles and eliminate waste. Also, you can find naturally-flavored waters (sometimes even with carbonation) for kids that insist on having something different.

“The first question they ask at any pediatric check-up or kids’ dentistry visit is always, ‘How much juice does your child drink?’ That, in itself, is an easy indication that fruit juices aren’t something kids should be drinking in excess,” Tarah said.

Next, we discussed other items that could be adjusted to make a school lunch box healthier. Pre-packaged, Lunchable-type items are widely popular and so cost-effective, they are hard for parents to pass up. But Tarah warns those little packages contain large numbers of fillers, preservatives, nitrates and hidden sugars.

“Deli meats can be a source of protein in a lunch, and protein is very important for a sustaining, energy boosting meal. But there are lots of better options out there. Parents can do a great deal toward packing healthy school lunches just by reading labels,” she said.

All-natural deli meats and cheeses are becoming widely available and are often much more appetizing. Stores are even carrying their own brands of these products, making them much less expensive than they’ve been previously. An additional source of protein is always peanut butter or almond butter, which can be eaten in sandwich form or as a dip for apples or celery. Again, it’s important to read the label to ensure you’re happy with the ingredients before you buy.

I asked Tarah to name a couple of items she’d recommend for a nutritious and delicious lunch-from-home. “Berries are always a great option. They have natural sugars that are sweet but they are sustaining and full of great vitamins and minerals.” She also said any fresh fruit or vegetable that your child likes and will eat is always a plus, and added that parents needn’t be concerned about variety when it comes to packing a lunchbox.

“If your child likes a particular fruit or veggie – say, blueberries – there’s nothing wrong with sending it almost everyday. It’s healthy and you know they’ll eat it, and that way you know they’re getting what they need when you’re not with them. My own son isn’t into cooked vegetables right now, but he loves carrot sticks and sliced cucumbers. He eats them all the time and that’s fine with me!”

As I wrapped up my chat with Tarah Chieffi, I asked if she had advice for busy families who want to be mindful about the nutrition they’re packing in school lunches. She suggested several ideas:

“First, parents shouldn’t be afraid to make up a few things ahead of time that they can keep on hand during the busy the week. If your child likes wraps, go ahead and make up a few with some deli meat and maybe a veggie or cucumber, stick a toothpick in them and refrigerate in a container. That way they’ll be ready to toss in the lunchbox during the week. Trail mix and homemade granola bars are also a great item that you can mix up quickly on a Sunday evening and then pack along for school each day.”

After talking with Tarah, I feel more motivated about the lunches I’ll be packing this school year. As a busy and often overextended parent, I’m sure that the meals I send won’t be completely natural, free of sugars and flawlessly nutritious. I do, however, know I can make a few changes from my normal routine to ensure that my brood is eating sustaining items at the school lunch table.

Don’t Stress About It! 

We asked a handful of Southern Indiana kids what is their favorite healthy food item to bring in their lunchbox. Their responses were simple:


“My favorite two snacks are sliced apples and cherries. They’re easy to eat at lunch or even in between classes.” – Justin, Floyd Central High School 



“I like granola bars because they have oatmeal that I love, and chocolate chips, too!” – Meredith, Silver Creek Elementary School 


acr90762040082432-16095185“Bananas. I eat them so I don’t cramp up at football practice.” – Deke, Charlestown High School 


Don’t stress over packing interesting and unique foods all the time. It seems the classics are kid-pleasing favorites!

Here’s my plan:

School mornings are hectic around here (that’s an understatement), so I’ll have more time to be mindful when packing lunches if I do them the night before and stow them in the fridge.

I read labels at the supermarket, but more with an aim toward family dinners than lunchbox fare. Now, I’ll be putting extra effort into the lunchtime items when shopping so that I’m more prepared when packing.

I used to feel guilty when sending the same thing two days in a row. From this point, if I know it’s a healthy item the kids are currently enjoying, I’m going to stock up and send it often…even everyday if it’s working for us.

I’m going to prep a few things on weekends to add to lunches that can made ahead of time. Trail mix and energy bites should be great for this, and those are items my kids really enjoy.

Now, am I going to judge the Lunchable and snack cake packing crowd in the lunchroom? Absolutely NOT! Chances are my own kids are still going to be eating cafeteria food on days when I haven’t gotten to the grocery. And I’m sure there’ll be plenty of times they’ll still have items inside their lunchboxes that are less than nutritious. But with some conscious effort, I plan to make the most of the time and items I’ve got on hand. My kids’ brains and bodies will benefit!

Don’t forget to visit www. ExtolSports.com to check out the FamFitter newsletter. This e-post section is your quick link to great recipes, family tips and fun exercise ideas you can use to make your own family fitter. 


Taste the “Real” Rainbow

By Adam & Kristen Kleinert

Summertime is the perfect time to up your fresh food game. Farmers markets are springing up, roadside stands are abundant and the fresh fruits and veggies at the supermarket are beautiful.

A delicious change from the produce we’re forced to purchase in the colder months (we live in the Midwest after all), the fresh fruit this time of year is sweeter and the vegetables are much tastier. Time to take advantage.

A couple of years ago, when the kids were home from school for the summer and accompanying Mom to the grocery, Dad came up with an idea to make the shopping-with-kids experience a bit more fun and interactive. Hence, the birth of “The Color Game.” (It’s a lame name, we know, but our kids were smaller when we came up with it and now, it’s stuck. You can come up with something way more creative at your house!) The game gave the kids a stake in what we purchased in the produce section at the grocery. In addition, it often required us to explore new recipes and methods for enjoying fresh food.

The premise was simple: Before we’d leave the house, Dad assigned each kid a color. When we made it to the fresh produce section of the supermarket, they had to choose an item to take home that was a shade of the color they’d been designated. One stipulation existed: When Mom or Dad decided to serve each person’s chosen item at our family dinner table, they had to try it.

This summer, the FamFitter family is resurrecting The Color Game and we encourage you to try it with your own family. Here’s a quick guide to getting it started and a couple of points you may want to think about before introducing it to your household.

The Basic Idea

Each child is assigned a color. They must pick an item from the fresh produce section of the market in their assigned color.

If you’ve got less than adventurous eaters, it’s good to start off with items they already like or have at least tried before. You can always let them choose something more adventurous a couple of trips in, but you want them to enjoy the experience enough that they want to participate in the process repeatedly.

Now, when you’re ready to shake things up a little, along with assigning a color include a short list of “typical” produce from which they may not choose. This is a great way to introduce new items to the family table and it ups the fun factor by encouraging kids to think out of the box. For instance, if you assign the color red, make strawberries and red peppers off limits. You’ll end up with a more unique item in your grocery cart and your family will have to branch out a little from its comfort zone.

How It Has Worked For Us

Overall, this has proved to be a fun way for our family to “adventure” into new tastes and recipes. Our crew loves to be involved and is definitely more enthusiastic about trying something new if they feel like they were included in the decision itself.

We’ve found that making a list of “off limits” items is helpful in keeping our kiddos from choosing the same old apples and oranges.

We haven’t always loved every piece of produce they’ve chosen, however. Once, when the assignment was “orange,” we came home with a horned melon that was met with less than enthusiastic taste buds. But, the kids enjoyed picking it out due to the crazy shape and texture of its appearance and, while we’ve never purchased one since, it was worth a try.

Unlike the horned melon, some items have been much more of hit and we’ve discovered new recipes along the way that have become family favorites.

With Color Comes Nutrients

Now, we have four children. If we assign each a different color for a trip to the farmers market or grocery store, we’re going to end up with a variety of color in our shopping bag. Depending on the number of kiddos in your family, you may want to plan accordingly by assigning two colors to each or supplementing with options in other hues when filling your basket. It’s important not to stay monochromatic.

A colorful plate of food not only looks beautiful; it’s usually packed with nutrients. (Not if it’s full of cupcakes, of course, but you get the drift.) Implementing a fun plan to put a variety of produce on your family’s plates is an ideal way to eat a rainbow of healthy foods. The colors in fruits and veggies are indicators of nutrition – and each color represents different vitamins and minerals. You can find a wealth of information concerning this topic, but we’ve included a basic list of produce colors and their nutritional value.

RED = Lycopene; decreases the risk of heart disease and certain forms of cancer

ORANGE = Beta-carotene; converts to Vitamin A and contributes to immune health

YELLOW = Carotenoids; like orange foods, boosts immune health

GREEN = Vitamins, Lutein, Zeaxanthin; strengthens bones, muscles, and brains and promotes healthy vision

BLUE/PURPLE = Anthocyanins; improves cardiovascular health and prevents memory loss

We hope your family will take a crack at its own version of The Color Game this growing season. This simple idea is an effective way to enjoy colorful, fresh produce in fun way while involving your kids in the process.


Get Your Swim On!

By Adam and Kristen Kleinert

In the spirit of this, the Extol Sports Swim Issue, we thought we’d focus on the concept of family swim time. After all, who doesn’t love an afternoon spent poolside or a weekend at the lake? But we often forget the numerous health benefits swimming has to offer and, this month, we want to spotlight those attributes.

Swimming Is All-Inclusive

Whether you’re 99 years old or just 10 months, everyone can enjoy the water. Often, people with special physical needs can exercise right alongside seasoned athletes. Small children can play happily with teenage siblings. Friends at different fitness levels can train harmoniously.

Swimming Is Adaptive

So, some of us need a lifejacket while others may be perfecting their breast stroke. But the fact is, EVERYONE can get some exercise in the water. Water is a magical vessel that puts us all on a fairly level playing field exercise-wise. From treading and doggy paddling to swimming laps for time, the list of aqua activities that can keep your body moving is extensive and can be adapted to suit the needs and capabilities of almost any individual.

Swimming is FUN

Sometimes it’s a battle to pick a family activity that all ages enjoy (or even tolerate) and – at least so far – we’ve never offered a swim outing and caught flak for it from our crew. Even after a long day, we find that a quick swim is often much more enticing than getting in a workout. Plus, we can all head out together, thus cultivating quality family time while snatching some much-needed exercise.

FamFitter Goals

As we write this article on the shining aspects of family swim time, we wonder why we haven’t been maximizing this outlet to its potential in summers past. The usual excuses come to mind: It’s a lot of work to get four kids and ourselves into swim attire, sunscreen and to the lake/pool. The water’s cold, it’s too much hassle to get wet and then have to dry off, I hate how look in my swimsuit. Whatever the excuse, we parents often end up supervising water-play rather than jumping in and participating.

This summer, we plan to approach the water with a different objective. We plan to become more mindful of our time spent at the lake and pool. Sure, we want to the kids to play and enjoy themselves, but what’s wrong with encouraging them to actually swim a bit more in the process? When it comes to Mom and Dad, we plan to view it as an opportunity to be active participants rather than deskside observers. We may have to do some treading or some water-exercises, but we may just be able to get a few laps in now and then as well. And when the kids ask if we can head back to the lake? We plan to say “yes” as often as possible.


Progress Spotlight

We officially began our quest to become a healthier family just after the New Year. Adam, however, had begun just a bit earlier — in November — to watch more closely what he ate. So, when his annual physical arrived in January, he was excited to see if a healthier diet would make a difference in the numbers he received at his doctor’s visit. Sure enough, his blood pressure was lower than it had been in years and he received the go ahead to discontinue his blood pressure medication on a trial basis. (He’s taken it for more than seven years.)

This past month, it was time for his follow up appointment for re-evaluation. He’s been feeling much more energetic and fit as we’ve progressed these few months, and he was excited to learn if it would translate medically. First, he learned he’s lost fifteen pounds. Now, Adam has never tried to lose weight and has always been pretty slim. However, clearly the adjusted diet coupled with the exercises we learned from Case Belcher at Four Barrel Crossfit have allowed Adam’s body to become stronger and leaner. But best of all, Adam’s blood pressure was even lower than it had measured in January and not only does he no longer need medication to keep it low, his diagnosis of hypertension has been removed from his chart!

I’m so proud of him and his hard work. I know that the majority of the credit is due to his diet. For me, a healthy diet is such a struggle, and I am crazy impressed at his will power. In fact, as he and I were discussing this concept, we realized that when Adam was first diagnosed with hypertension and prescribed medication, we had one less kid and were much less busy. He was also swimming and exercising multiple times a week at that time. I think this is a testament to the power of nutrition. Hopefully I can take some inspiration from his achievement. –Kristin Kleinert


Editor’s Note | May 2017

Before you dive into the Extol Sports swim issue, I’d like to help navigate the (figurative) waters by directing you to a few must-read pieces, the first of which has nothing to do with swimming, but is a story about a man who made a choice to plunge headfirst into fighting for his life.

Jeff Nunn is a senior contributor for Cardinal Sports Zone and now a monthly writer for Extol Sports. His depth of knowledge is immense, but it wasn’t until the two of us had an informaled conversation that I learned about the incredible adversity he has faced. Instead of writing about athletics, in this issue, Jeff gives a first-person account (page 26) that is harrowing, heart-warming and inspiring. I am grateful he chose to share his story with our readers.

Speaking of inspiration, Marjorie Vowels found just that at her local YMCA swim classes. The 84-year-old shares her journey (page 10) along with advice that can be applied at any age.

Within these pages, you’ll also find stories about classes for kids at Home of the Innocents (page 24), true talk about protecting your skin by Dr. Jae Jung, oncologic dermatologist at the Norton Cancer Institute (page 12), a beautiful fashion spread by photographer Antonio Pantoja featuring handmade suits by Louisville resident Laura Patterson (page 18) and a thriller about University of Louisville athlete Mallory Comerford written by 790 KRD’s Howie Lindsey (page 32).

In this issue, you’ll also find so much more, including an update that surprised even me because it was about one of Extol’s team members.

Art Director Adam Kleinert has struggled with hypertension for years, though if you saw him in person you’d never guess that. He looks to be the picture of health and has since the day I met him years ago. You never know what the person next to you is battling, but Adam has an amazing update about his health that his wife, Kristin, shares (page 45) in this issue. Check it out. It just might inspire you to make some changes in your life. I know it has for me.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to pick us up.


Angie Fenton

Extol Sports

Editor in Chief



A Day at the Beach is No Day at the Beach

It’s good to be outdoors in the summer sun, staying active and enjoying  a vigorous lifestyle. Just do it in a healthy manner. And know the risks.

By Steve Kaufman | Illustration By Adam Kleinert

Oh, the things we tell ourselves when the summer sun begins to blaze.

I’ll only be out for a little bit. I’ll wear a hat.
I have sun screen.
It’s overcast.
It’s just golf.
I never burn.

The problem is, this isn’t about falling asleep on the beach, getting a bad burn and being in pain for a few days. This is about cancer.

Skin cancer is like any other cancer. Abnormal cells grow and multiply, often ignited by the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Not all skin cancers are the same. Not all are potentially fatal. Not all skin pigmentations are as susceptible to sun-related skin cancer as others. There are all kinds of factors related to skin cancer, as to other cancers: health history, family health history, age, lifestyle.

But why would you want to roll the dice?

There are risks because there are so many things people don’t know or don’t understand, said Dr. Jae Jung, oncologic dermatologist at the Norton Cancer Institute. “There are right and wrong ways to apply sunscreen,” she said. “There are right and wrong clothes to wear. And there are right and wrong ways to evaluate the marks and moles on your skin so you know the proper actions to take.”

As an oncologic dermatologist, Jung is used to seeing patients who already have a diagnosed issue. So maybe she seems more cautious than others might be. But her advice is an excellent roadmap to avoiding problems and addressing common mistakes, like these:

My sunscreen has a 30 SPF. That’s the recommended level by the American Academy of Dermatology. I’m good!

Not necessarily, said Jung. “The academy’s recommendations are based on the testing it does. But they tend to lather it on in thicker amounts during their tests than most people do. At thicker amounts, it’s messy, or sticky, or uncomfortable, especially on the face – or it becomes expensive when you use so much at one time.”

As a result, she said, people use thinner amounts. And that’s less effective.

“I recommend an SPF of 50 or above. And even then, layer it on thickly. And cover everything that’s exposed – hands, feet, ears.” Any exposure to the sun – playing golf, going fishing, even just walking your dog – can be problematic.

“Cover whatever is expos e d,” Jung recommended.

I’m only going out for a drive.

Most cars’ front windshields are tinted to block out UV rays. Not so the side windows. Jung has even written prescriptions for certain patients to get tinted treatments on all their car windows.

“One of the most common incidents of skin cancer are on truck drivers’ left sides,” she said. “They roll the driver’s side window down and hang their arm out. But even with the window closed, their left arm and hand and left side of their face are exposed.”

I’ll be wearing a hat.

“The average baseball cap won’t protect your ears or the back of your neck,” said Jung. “Even those nice, wide-brim sun hats are designed more for fashion than for protection. They have an open weave, which of course invites the sun’s rays right in.”

It’s not a sunny day.

Then there are fewer UV rays in the air, said Jung, but they’re still there – and they’ll still burn your skin.

“They’re especially dangerous because if you don’t feel so hot, you’re inclined to stay outside longer.”

It’s cool out.

“Air temperature is not the issue if the sun’s out,” Jung noted. “Skiers get horrible sunburns.”

I’ll be wearing clothes – head to foot.

First of all, Jung said, few people cover themselves head to foot on a hot summer day. And while clothing is a much better screening agent than sun block – for one thing, you don’t have to keep reapplying it – she said not all clothing will protect you in the same way.

“Some clothing lines are specifically treated with a UV protectant and also woven in such a way as to keep UV light from getting through. They’re specifically designated as UPF 50.”

UPF is a rating that indicates a garment’s effectiveness against UVA and UVB rays. By comparison, an average T-shirt has a UPF rating of 7.

Jung said hunters and fishermen knew about this a long time ago, so these lines of clothing have been available for a while at specialty outdoor sporting goods stores like Dick’s, Cabela’s, Bass Pro and REI.

A variety of web sites specialize in these clothing lines, too – www.coolibar.com, www.uvskinz. com, www.cabanalife.com, www.shedolane. com and www.sunprecautions.com are just a few of the sites that come up by Googling “sun protective clothing.”

These are full lines of clothing, from robes and shifts to swimwear. Coolibar claims it is “the first company to receive the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation for sun protective clothing.”

I’ve never gotten a sunburn.

Jung acknowledged that there is a range of skin pigmentation rated on its risk of becoming cancerous. It’s called The Fitzpatrick scale, Jung explained, “and it runs from 1, always burns, never tans – albinos would be the most extreme example – to 6, never burns, always tans – the darkest-skinned person from sub-Sahara Africa.

“Everybody else is in between. The average Caucasian of Irish ancestry would probably be a 2 – pretty much always burns, never really tans.”

However, Jung said, never having burned is no guarantee of healthy skin.

“We believe the amount of UV damage you get in childhood actually affects your risk of melanoma at an older age,” she said. “The risk of all skin cancer will increase with age and with UV damage. Every time ultraviolet radiation hits your cells, there’s a chance it can mutate. Accumulate enough mutations and you’ll get a cancer.”

My doctor said I need sunlight to get my Vitamin D level up.

“That makes me crazy,” said Jung. “Someone decided that 80 percent of the U.S. population has decreased Vitamin D levels, and low Vitamin D leads to disease. More and more, though, there’s research that says having a disease leads to low Vitamin D levels, not vice versa.”

However, she said, there are lots of other sources for Vitamin D. “Your body can’t tell the difference between Vitamin D from a chewable supplement and Vitamin D that’s absorbed by your skin from sunlight – but your skin can tell the difference.”

I’m in my 60s. I spent years in the sun and never had a problem. I imagine I’m immune by now.

If only. Jung said the dry, leathery skin so many people get after years in the sun is all evidence of skin damage “and likely pre-cancerous.”

There’s also, she pointed out, the lifestyle nature of people who grew up in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, feeling it was okay to lather on baby oil or iodine and sit for hours with a reflector under their chins. “Those people did untold damage that may only now be coming back to haunt them.”

So, I’m doomed. Not necessarily at all, said Jung.

“The ‘beauty’ of skin cancer is that you can see it,” she said. “Going to a dermatologist regularly and getting a thorough skin exam is the best way to deal with skin cancer. If you catch it early, it’s 100 percent curable.”

Self-examinations are an excellent way to evaluate your risk, but while a melanoma is relatively easy to spot, Jung said [a] people don’t always know what to look for; or [b] they know exactly what to look for but are in denial and don’t seek treatment.

Unfortunately, she said, you can’t count on your general practitioner to do a thorough skin exam. It’s not a billable service. “The American Academy of Dermatology is working hard to get skin exams coded, like mammograms and colonoscopies, to prove that a general skin screening would lead to a reduction in patient deaths.”

Then I’m locking my door and drawing my drapes until November.

Don’t do that, Jung said. There is much to be gained from being outdoors when the weather is nice. Your mood elevates. You generate endorphins. You get good exercise and stay active. You swim and run, walk and play tennis or golf. You socialize with others much more during the summer months.

Just know your risks and how to protect yourself. Understand that white surfaces – sand, concrete, the bottom of swimming pools – are more intense sun-reflectors. Rethink the things you thought about protective hats and clothing.

Put all that medical and cancer research to work for you. And make your dermatologist a part of your life.


Everybody into the Pool

It’s summer. If you want to do more than splash around, here are some water workout tips for you.

By Steve Kaufman | Illustration by Adam Kleinert

To the fitness instruction world, you’re a “health seeker.”

If you’re anywhere from your late 30s through your 50s, and you’re seeking to get back in the gym or the pool, you’re categorized. (Clearly, that age category is bendable – from the 20-something who’s rehabbing a sports injury to the senior looking to stay active.)

You’re anxious, enthusiastic, unboundingly willing – and, left to your own devices, you’ll probably overdo it. Or you’ll run out of steam, get discouraged and quit.

Give yourself an A for intentions, but probably a D+ for results.

Swimming has become perhaps the most popular form of fitness workout. After all, you already know how to swim, don’t you? Most people do.

“Actually, a lot of people come in and think they know how to swim, but they really don’t,” said Adam Johnson, senior aquatics director at the Northeast Family YMCA in Lyndon in Louisville. “People get in the water, and if they don’t know what they’re doing, they’ll spend about 10 minutes in there and get tired, get discouraged and never come back.”

So, if you’re thinking of starting a swimming-for-health program this summer, start by acknowledging you might not be that strong a swimmer.

The problem, said Johnson, is breathing. “The cardiovascular effort in swimming is different than that of running or cycling, because you have to hold your breath for certain lengths of time. So you do one length of the pool and you’re out of breath. We get that a lot.”

It’s not uncommon for triathletes – runners and cyclists in good condition – to come into the water and be blown away by how quickly they become out of breath.

exsp_5_illustration_swimmer“People of a certain age who get into a pool and get tired after a lap blame it on age or weight or condition or some joint issue, when often it’s simply that they’re swimming wrong,” Johnson said. “Their technique or breathing or something is wrong, and always has been.”

There’s swim instruction, of course. But there are also other pool activities that produce some of the same benefits.

Aquafit classes, which may include weights, cycling, running or just aerobic exercises, provide a lot of the same benefits as swimming, without the need for technique. Classes are also aligned for age, strength, conditioning or personal goals.

“Aquafit classes range from beginner to some pretty tough advanced classes,” Johnson said.

The secrets of all water exercise are buoyancy and resistance. “Water is 900 times more dense than air, so moving your body through water takes that much more energy,” he explained.

Water weights are lighter, easier to manage and buoyant. But instead of a regular weight resisting being lifted, the flotation weight resists being pushed down into the water. But they work the arms and shoulders, all the same muscle groups as “land” weights.

Buoyant “noodles” are amazing devices in the pool, said Johnson. “You can float around on a noodle, and when you suspend your body in the pool, you can more easily engage your legs in the workout.”

Even doing a vigorous standing or running-in-place activity in the water takes the weight and pressure off your joints.

Also, aquafit workouts are generally in group situations, which promotes social interaction, especially important for the elderly.

“So you see, water exercise doesn’t have to be swimming laps, like a lot of people think,” Johnson said.


“It’s tough to ask for help,” said Adam Johnson, senior aquatics director at the Northeast Family YMCA in Lyndon in Louisville. “At the (YMCA), we try to foster that nurturing environment.”

Johnson suggests a frank conversation with a fitness instructor, during which you ask questions and spend 15 minutes having your swimming stroke and technique evaluated.

“People come in all the time taking tours of the gym and asking details about how to use the equipment,” he said, “but rarely do they take us up on the pool side.”

It’s worthwhile, said Johnson, “because the benefits of swimming are awesome.”


On its website, www.usm.org, the U.S. Masters Swimming organization called swimming “the magic pill.”

“Swimming might be the single best thing you can do to avoid the diseases that plague our sedentary society and to vastly improve the function of both your body and mind. . . . The health benefits of swimming – at any speed and any age – are enormous.”

Among a long list of benefits the article lists are:


• Lowers blood pressure

• Reduces bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol

• Aids in weight loss and weight maintenance

• Benefits your immune system

• Makes your heart a better and more efficient pump

• Slows down the aging process

• Reduces your risk for heart disease and diabetes

• Reduces chronic pain, particularly from arthritis

• Develops lung capacity and helps COPD and asthma

• Exercises nearly every muscle in the body, especially if you swim all four strokes


• Improves problem solving skills and memory

• Reduces stress

• Reduces depression and anxiety

• Offers relaxation through the repetitive nature of movement

• Improves self-esteem and mental toughness

“The concentration required of swimming – synchronizing arm or leg movements with breathing, making sure your hands are in the right position, produces neurotransmitters,” said Johnson. “Any time we’re challenging our brain mentally, we’ll reduce stress and anxiety, reduce mental fatigue and improve our confidence, which carries over out of the pool.

“The total self: physical, mental and spiritual.”


The beauty of swimming is that all you pretty much need is a bathing suit and a towel. But here are some other considerations:


For men, Johnson discourages anything that goes past the knees. “You want general flexibility around the knee.”

A generic swimsuit is fine. Johnson’s has a 12-inch inseam and is cut three or four inches above the knee. “Believe me, you don’t need tight jammers or bikini-cut Speedos. That’s a tough thing to wear if you’re not real fit.”

He also recommends something that ties and can be adjusted or tightened, “so you won’t lose your shorts.”

For women, he recommends a one-piece over a two-piece. “You want comfort and support. It’s not the beach, you’re not tanning.”

Johnson’s suit is 100-percent polyester, which he says will last longer. He said he’s had nylon shorts that faded quickly. But mostly, “wear whatever feels comfortable. Not everyone likes the way rayon or nylon feels.”


Johnson said he doesn’t necessarily recommend them, but he knows some people’s eyes burn in the pool, or they want to be able to see where they’re going – or they might wear contact lenses.

If you’re going to use goggles, though, Johnson recommended investing in a good, large, well-fitting pair.

“The most important thing in swimming is to reduce the barriers that ruin your experience. And if you don’t have a good pair of goggles and spend a lot of time fidgeting with them trying to get water out, that’s a barrier.

“The goggles didn’t work.

I hate swimming!” So spending $15 or more on a pair of goggles is probably a good idea.


“We don’t require them in our pool, but if you have long hair, it’s probably a good idea.” And if you do, he said, the best caps are silicone.

“The latex ones are really tight, rip out your hair and often cause headaches.”


“I discourage them, I want people to be able to breathe out of all their orafices. But if you don’t like water in your nose, spend $2 to remove that barrier. They make comfortable, adjustable ones now.”


“We see more of those than of nose plugs. Keeping water out of your ear reduces the risk of infection. And certain people get uncomfortable when their ears clog up. Another barrier that’s easy to avoid.”

Also, another basic $2 investment.


Johnson recommends considering a waterproof in-water MP3 player. “It’s a great way to enjoy your workout. Load it up with your favorite music. It’s a way to take the exeprience from the land into the water.”


All six Louisville-area YMCAs and the two in Southern Indiana (Clark and Floyd counties) have pools and thorough swim instruction. (The Southwest YMCA on Fordhaven Road even has a bubble pool that converts to outdoors in the summer.)

And if you’re a member of one Y branch in Louisville, you can use all the Louisville Y branches plus any in Kentucky and about 90 percent of the YMCAs around the country.

Family rates are $89 a month; couple rates are $84 a month; individual rates are about $53 a month; and then there are senior rates, as well. Plus, some of the Ys participate in the Senior Sneakers program, an insurance-coordinated benefit that makes membership free on senior policyholders.

“The main thing about the membership rates,” said Johnson, “is that the YMCA’s mission statement is ‘we’re for all.’ So if you can’t fit the membership fee into your budget, we’ll find a price that fits your budget.”