Deep Sleep: What is it and how to get more of it.

February 8th, 2016 by Cheryl Sherwood

By,  Elizabeth Kayfish,  Athletic Mentors Coach

Deep sleep, also known as slow wave sleep, is the combination of stage 3 and 4 of your sleep cycle. During this time your body is calm and has no muscle or eye movements2.  This type of restorativdeep-sleepe, restful sleep
comes right
before your REM cycle, and getting a good dose of deep sleep is important because tissue repair is at its fastest during this time4. Many people who find themselves not feeling rested after the night have missed
out on the essential deep sleep. Although the hormones responsible for this type of sleep lessen as you get older, research studies have found a few alternatives to increase your time in this stage4.  Here are so tips so you can feel a little more refreshed in the morning!

  1. Stay away from the alcoholic beverages before bed to ensure you reach your full sleep potential. Alcohol, which often tends to make one fall asleep fast, prevents deep sleep from occurring2.
  2. Exercise is the cure all! Several studies have shown that exercising, both anaerobically and aerobically, can increase the amount of time you are in deep sleep. A good workout and an a
    ctive lifestyle can promote deep sleep length; just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime4.
  3. Have some naturally scented lavender soaps, lotions, candles and/ or oils around before bed. Sensory therapy, like aromatherapy, has been shown to improve one’s night rest. A recent study showed increases in the percentage of deep sleep in a night after the use of lavender oils3.
  4. Keep the carbohydrates light at dinner and before bed. Studies have shown that compared to a carbohydrate heavy meal 4 hours before bed, a very light carbohydrate meal increased the percentage of time in deep sleep cycles1.
  5. Try to eliminate stressors throughout your day and before bed. You cannot control the age-related factor of decreasing deep sleep with age, but you can create a stress-free environment before you go to sleep to counter the effect. Try to have a regular pre-bedtime schedule and unwind with a bath, book, or soothing music5.




  1. Afaghi, A., O’Connor, H., and Chow, C.H. (2008). Acute effects of the very low carbohydrate diet on sleep indices. Nutr. Neurosci. 11: 146-154.
  2. Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from
  3. Goel, N., Hyungsoo, K., and Lao, R.P. (2005). An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiology International: The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research, 22, 5. DOI: 10.1080/07420520500263276
  4. Sleepdexorg. (2016). Sleepdexorg. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from
  5. The Mysterious Benefits of Deep Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from




Athletic Mentors has moved to a new and permanent home!

January 19th, 2016 by Cheryl Sherwood

20160119_150141 (1)After month’s of long days and hard work, Athletic Mentors has finally moved to a new home.  We are grateful to our clients for tolerating the short comings of our past facility where we planted our feet for the past 4 years.    The new location will enable us to continue to do all that we do, even better.  We will continue to offer high performance training and coaching while also reaching out to all levels of ability to introduce more people to the joy of sport and healthy lifestyle

We’ll ask everyone to “pardon our dust” as we finish renovation of our new yoga room and classroom.  Phase 2 of our 20160119_171531 (1)the project will include construction of new locker rooms and showers.   In the meantime, our clients will enjoy that they no longer need gloves to touch the dumbbells in the winter months (current and past customers know what I mean).  Parents will find a very comfortable and warm lobby with internet access, should they choose to wait while their athletes train.

The new facility can be found at 8610 North 32nd Street in Richland (just around the corner from our old location).  We don’t have a sign yet so look for the Athletic Mentors flag. We are between Rogers Heating and Cooling and the Dentist office on the east side of 32nd Street.

Nutrition Tips to Live By

January 19th, 2016 by Erin

Business_Man_Eating_Healthy_Choice_Horizontal By Ruth Fazinger

Commercials, magazine articles, and even food labels can make it difficult to make healthy choices. Being healthy is really quite simple. It doesn’t come in a box or a pill. It doesn’t have to cost extra for supplements, vitamins and expensive “healthy” snack bars. Being healthy isn’t gluten free, fat free and tasteless. Being healthy is a habit! It is having knowledge to make smart choices. Read on to discover the simple truth. Educate yourself on healthy habits that provide will you with energy and good health!

  1. Clean eating
    It’s no secret that the line between food and food-like substances have, somewhere along the way, become blurred. Food-like substances have become sneakier and sneakier in their attempt to confuse us into buying into this notion that something made in a machine is also made for our body. When it comes to food, simply put, simple is best. Diets high in processed, prepackaged foods are synonymous with a diet high in sodium, refined sugar, and saturated fats. True clean eating would be eating nothing processed. This proves difficult in the modern era but we can strive for making as much of our diet as whole food as possible. Start this challenge off right by incorporating more whole foods into your diet. Limiting prepacked meals, most convenience snacks, and food that comes from a drive through window are all ways to help this process again!
  2. Frequency and quantity
    Even the cleanest eating could lead to weight gain. How? Too much, too little, too often, or too infrequent. While the QUALITY of what we eat matters so greatly, so does the amount and timing of our meals and snacks as well. Consider the following: when building a fire you hope to last all night, is it best to throw ALL logs and kindling in to start or is it best to feed the flames intermittently? For those we’ve never spent time around a campfire, you’re best fire comes from a continual fueling – this is what keeps a steady burn going. When it comes to our body, if we eat infrequently our body is much more likely to store some of these nutrients as fats, not to mention it does a number on our insulin and hormones levels! Additionally, if we eat – say once a day – for most people that is likely to be one BIG meal leaving another reason our body stores extra calories stored as fat. Think about it from the body’s perspective: “we haven’t eaten in hours! I’m starving, let’s keep eating! Oh… we better hang on to some of this in storage in case we don’t eat for a long time again!” So, the best way to fuel your own fire is to eat smaller portions and eat consistently. Aim for every 3-5 hours for the best metabolism, energy, and insulin level regulation.
  3. Hydration Station“You’re nothing but a bag of dirty water.” images (1)This is a phrase no less than 50 times a semester during my subsequent anatomy and physiology courses. My professor repeated this over and over again with clear and successful intentions of making this phrase stick permanently and refers to the amount of water making up our body – roughly 2/3rds!! Now knowing this can help complete the understanding of just how important water is to our body. Imagine our body as a swimming pool… Now imagine that this pool water was never changed, leaving the filters to become clogged over time, and leaving debris and algae to build up across the water and the lining. This is, loosely, what happens to our own system when we dehydrate ourselves. Even 2% (!!) dehydration can cause impaired mental and physical performance. It is said we should drink 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day, or 2 liters, or a half a gallon. HOWEVER, if you are sick, working out, pregnant or nursing, or if the temperature has gone up this amount becomes higher. 
  4. The power of green (PSA about fruits and veggies)  There is a imagesreason your mother always told you to eat your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies pack a nutritious punch and yet they do not contain a lot of calories. They are what we call “nutrient dense” foods and they are fantastic for you. Fruits and veggies contain heavy amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, enzymes and co-enzymes. Enzymes is the word used to describe something that helps speed up a process in the body; in other words, fruits and veggies help our body do the things it needs to do with less energy. This is one reason we feel more awake from an apple than from a cookie. Fruit does yield more of a glycemic response in the body, so aim to get more veggies than fruits everyday striving to make one of these vegetables servings some type of leafy green.There is a reason your mother always told you to eat your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies pack a nutritious punch and yet they do not contain a lot of calories. They are what we call “nutrient dense” foods and they are fantastic for you. Fruits and veggies contain heavy amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, enzymes and co-enzymes. Enzymes is the word used to describe something that helps speed up a process in the body; in other words, fruits and veggies help our body do the things it needs to do with less energy. This is one reason we feel more awake from an apple than from a cookie. Fruit does yield more of a glycemic response in the body, so aim to get more veggies than fruits everyday striving to make one of these vegetables servings some type of leafy green.
  5. Beware of the Bubbles…In our quest for better health, we often focus on what we chew and cook forgetting that our liquor calories can be the fat storing culprit as well. A diet could be spectacular in all other ways except for drinks. Poor drink choices even in combination with a healthy diet can cause weight gain, increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and/or metabolic disease, and loss of energy. Sadly enough, our nation’s number one source of carbohydrates is POP. This is most startling and concerning considering soda contains NO beneficial nutrients and can contain upwards of 50 grams of sugar for one sitting. Let’s see at 4 calories a gram that is 200 calories of nothing good! Pop is not the only questionable drink. Juices, sports drinks, alcohol, and even “fruit” smoothies can rack up the calories and decrease our overall health when not consumed in moderation. I cannot, even in moderation, condone pop consumption and I urge you to consider cutting back or stopping altogether if you’re currently consuming regular soda drinks. As mentioned above, water is the absolute perfect beverage for our bodies! I understand this can get a little dull for some; try drinking mineral or soda water with a splash of juice or fresh slices of oranges, limes, and lemons. Refreshing and alkalizing for our body!
  6. Myths part 1   Carbs are bad: The critics of carbs, such as Atkins and South Beach, make the claim that carbohydrates cause weight gain, and by excluding them you can lose weight. Well, that can be true, cut out all carbohydrates and you will undoubtedly lose weight. You will also lose muscle as your body shifts into an acidic state called ketosis. In this state, the body begins to eat its own muscle stores to use for fuel. Muscle is NOT meant a fuel source, so this is both inefficient and dangerous for our body. It also decreases our overall metabolism, as protein is more thermogenic – meaning it uses fuel more efficiently. The other factor to consider with weight loss from extremely low carbs is that it is not permanent or sustainable, meaning as soon the person goes back to consuming carbohydrates their weight comes back with it (and sometimes even more).
  7. Myths part 2  Fats are bad: Truly, fats get a bad reputation due to their high calorie to gram ratio (9:1 vs carbohydrates and fats at 4:1). Fats, however, as we already know are VITAL to our being. The line our cell membrane which make up our very being – cells are of course our most basic human building block! Fat keeps our organs safe and they keep our body warmer (a handy trick in the dead of winter). Fats also help slow digestion and are necessary for absorption of our vitamin A, D, E, and K.  Last but not least, fats add flavor to our food! So diets programs or “diet foods” that boast about having no fat or having had the fat removed must find a different way to bring flavor to their product. This is usually done by adding more chemicals and/or more sugar. You are MUCH better off enjoying a moderate, healthy consumption of fats then trying to remove all fats from the diet.
  8. Eating on the go The number one tip I have for eating on the go is to plan ahead. Leave “emergency” snacks stored away in the car. A ziplock baggy of dried fruit and nuts or a stashed granola bar does wonders in preventing that unnecessary pit stop at the drive through on the way home. If you know you will be traveling, take a moment to consider the amount of time you will be in transit and whether or not a meal will be provided for you during some of this time. Make it a goal to eat about every 2.5-4 hours while you’re traveling, and plan accordingly as you pack your snacks. If you find yourself in a situation where you need (or want) to indulge in the on the go dining options then stick to some simple tips. Avoid fried foods, sub veggies for the normal sides where possible, and avoid heavy sauces or dressings. Almost all popular restaurants and fast food places have calorie and nutrition facts available online, so when in doubt, check your options before you bite in.
  9. What to do, what to do – In ten weeks, you’ve taken in a lot of information. Maybe a lot was review or maybe a lot of this was new. Either way, what we know is only PART of the process, right? It’s up to you to apply it! Our diet impacts SO much of how we feel day to day; so much of our energy levels and our overall health comes back to nutrition. Nutrition really is one of our best medicines… Below are some quick review tips:
    1. Keep diet as simple as possible. Avoid eating food items with lengthy, complicated ingredient lists
    2. Avoid long stretches of time without eating anything. These stretches tend to lend to overeating and poorer food choices.
    3. A healthy diet contains a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Start by tracking protein first.
    4. Water is ESSENTIAL for life. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere – you’ll be much more likely to sip often.
    5. Fruits and veggies are your friends. Add 1-3 more servings of veggies into your weekly routine, making one of these servings a leafy green.
    6. If you currently drink soda, I strongly encourage you to stop or to limit your consumption. Replace one sugary drink a week with a glass of water.
    7. Ignore the claims of weight loss from removing carbs and stick to the facts: carbohydrates are necessary and completely healthy for our bodies and minds. Stick to whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for the best sources.
    8. Again, ignore the claim that fat free food is a good thing. Some things are naturally fat-free and that’s great but some things are MEANT to have fat in them and that’s great too. Fats add value to our health and flavor to our plates. Stick to unsaturated sources, particularly Omega-3 oils!
    9. Plan ahead as much as possible for eating on the go. When this fails, stick to the basic and avoid the fried foods while you’re out. Your body will thank you!


Athletic Mentors Announces New Shooting and Skills Facility

October 30th, 2015 by Athletic Mentors

Athletic Mentors has added a NEW shooting and skills development area at its facility in Richland. This area will have four shooting lanes for shot development and over 5000 square feet of area for performing stick handling drills.

Shooting Development

The shooting area will be cutting edge. We have acquired weighted pucks for our shooting area. These pucks were custom made to our specifications of various weights; up to 2lbs! By incorporating our hockey specific strength training with the weighted puck shooting area, we will take your shot to a whole new level!

Warm Up: Your Body Will Thank You

October 24th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

Many athletes find themselves constrained by time so they sometimes sacrifice the warm up or cool down during a workout. Some of us can get away with this, especially if we are young, but as we age the warm up can be critical in warding off muscular injuries.

A proper warm up does not need to take longer than 15 minutes but should include 3 parts: neuromuscular activation, dynamic stretching and the sport specific cardio related to the activity you are about to engage in. Most of us currently complete the cardio warm up by doing 10-15 minute easy spins or runs but we forgo the first two. For those of you unfamiliar with neuromuscular activation, it is the connection from the brain to muscles through motor neurons. It is the process of initiating the movement process in the brain prior to a training session. When this is done there is a higher degree of stimulation of motor units which then can lead to greater muscular contraction during your work out.

Those athletes who have been to the Athletic Mentors gym for strength training should be familiar with a proper warm up routine.

  • Foam roller: roll out key muscle groups
  • Leg swings
  • Ankle activation
  • Band pulls to warm shoulder region
  • Knee tucks to lunge
  • Quad stretch to forward lean
  • Spiderman
  • Inch worm
  • High knees
  • Butt kicks
  • Ladder drills

If you take the time to complete a 15 minute warm up and 15 minute cool down you should be able to prevent injury and decrease muscle fatigue making your next workout more effective. Eliminating the junk mile that you would have normally used to warm up and replacing it with quality and efficiency, will set you up for a better overall workout.


Florida Cycling Camp in February – Registration is Now Open!

October 18th, 2012 by Cheryl Sherwood

AM coaches, including Pro Cyclist Kelli Emmett, will be hosting 2 winter cycling camps in February 2013. This is the perfect time to escape the northern winter for some warm base miles in northern Florida while living like a pro. You’ll eat like a king, sleep like baby and train like the pro’s do with sag support, luxury housing and in house cook as just some of the great features. Check out our website for more details: Florida Camp Details

The Tri Season Ends… What Now?

October 4th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

Video & Stroke Analysis Is Back!

October 3rd, 2012 by Cheryl Sherwood even better, with 4 class sessions, our popular and effective Stroke Analysis clinic is back this fall. Optimize your stroke and reduce your swim times. Click here for details.

Michigan Titanium / Team PH Race Report

August 28th, 2012 by Cheryl Sherwood

Congratulations to the Team Priority Health MiTi finishers! Sunday was Michigan’s first ever Iron Distance Triathlon….

For those who don’t know, each competitor who did the Full Iron did this:

Swim: 2.4 miles

Bike: 112 miles

Run: 26.2 ( a full marathon)

People who did the half iron, did exactly half those distances. People doing the relay, had 3 team members each taking one discipline. The day started early, before sunrise with the Full Iron Athlete meeting at 6:45am and the race starting at 7. Iron distance athletes would have 17 hours to finish their race. I for one didn’t think to bring a headlamp for getting my bike ready in transition in the dark.

Transition for the race in the photo above was at Versluis Park in Plainfield Township. The lake was one of the most wonderful swims I have completed. Gas powered boats are not allowed and they say the water is considered safe to drink. It was like swimming in an aquarium, so clear and clean.

Teammate, Cricket Howard won the overall for the half aqua-bike. The Aqua-bike is the swim and bike legs, but no running. Cricket was the first person to cross the finish line of the day and he say’s the first time he has ever had the chance to run through finish line tape. I laugh when I see this photo because it looks like he doesn’t know what to do with the tape!

Photo: Our very first MiTi finisher! Half aquabike.

Here is a photo of me on my bike. This is by far my strongest discipline and favorite part of the race. Because I swim so slow, I need stellar transition and bike times to make up for it. The temps were hotter than forecast and really took a lot out of everyone. Lots of people did not finish and the run times were slow for most of the women as a result. During the bike leg, the temps hit 89, and then later in the afternoon, came clouds and thick humidity making it hard to breathe. The course was extremely hilly and we had a pretty good south wind that made some long open sections of the course very difficult. I managed the 2nd fastest bike time overall for the women, and it helped to bank some time for the run, something else I am not great at.

The run was for me, by far the hardest part of the race. The heat and humidity coupled with tired legs of the bike made it really hard keep going. When I hit the course, many of the half iron athletes were still out there and they were walking! I thought to myself, “how am I going to run 26.2 miles? ” The truth is, I didn’t run the whole thing but I was not alone. I ran as much as could, walking every aid station and parts of the hills. There was NOTHING flat on this course. Rollers the whole way. This was a really, really hard day for everyone! The picture below is of fast teammate, Katie Whidden, finishing off her half iron race.

I finished 20 minutes shy of my goal but given my placement, I was happy with the day. I finished 1st in my age group and 5th overall for the women.

Here are the results for my teammates:

Katie Whidden: 1st in age group, 7th overall (Half Iron)

Kelly Stimpson: 2nd in age group (Full Iron)

Cricket: 1st Overall (half – aqua-bike)

Dave “The Stud” Stebbins: 1st in his age group, 5th overall (Dave is in the 55-59 age group!!!! )

I would like to say THANK YOU to all of the fantastic volunteers without whom this would not have been such a successful event. Their contributions are absolutely a necessity and are priceless. As a participant I cannot express enough appreciation for what they do for us during the race. I would also like to thank all my teammates who came out and supported the runners and each taking a turn to run 0r bike part of my marathon with me: Roxane Kruse, Dan, Gauthier, Cricket Howard, Katie Whidden and Mark Olson.

The girls in the purple and blue ran me down in the marathon. They are both in their mid twenties. Maybe if I train harder, I can hang with them next time! Great job girls!


FREE Massage Clinic: “It’s Never One Thing”

July 17th, 2012 by Cheryl Sherwood

“It’s Never One Thing” when we aren’t physically able to perform at our best. Please join us as we explore the causes and solutions to common dysfunction in human anatomy. This clinic will discuss:

  • Impact of massage on athletic performance
  • Live massage demos
  • Self massage techniques
  • Q & A

This clinic will be lead by Paul S. Raynes, our nationally certified massage therapist, who is also a certified personal trainer and has been active in competitive endurance sports for 35 years. Join us for this fun, informative and free clinic. With good response we’ll consider adding an evening clinic as well.

When: Friday July 20th @9:30am

Where: Athletic Mentors in Richland

(8731 M-89, Richland MI : look for the Gull Lake Marine West Sign and we are in the same building)