Last week, you might have spotted this post on the Fit Family Together facebook page . . .
“Just returned from a tough mountain bike ride” . . .
And a few posts later . . . “I’m sitting to rest my tired legs.”
If my children had Facebook pages (which they don’t), you would have seen a description of how they went from riding pleasure to worry to anger to despair as the ride kept going and going and going. Our son threatened to eat his dad or grape leaves from sheer hunger. And our daughter described how her fury helped her up some of the last tremendous climbs.
Upon our return they spent a good hour simply lying there, moaning as they described their various aches and pains.
Yep. It was a ride for the storybook.
See, we started off with a simple plan. We had ridden up one steep trail a few days before until it hit a regular road and figured if we made a right we’d hook up with another mountain trail we’d ridden last year that ends up going right to our house.
We were right.
What we didn’t bargain for was how long it took to get to the second turn off.
Now I could go into the gory details of how many hills we climbed desperately seeking our turnoff. Or how I regretted not properly outfitting ourselves with camelbacks and snacks. I broke all the rules I had so diligently followed when we biked as a family when they were younger.
I could confess how often I invoked the name of She-RA! to power through a steep climb. Or reminded myself in a harsh chant “You’ve got muscles – now use them!”
I could also go into the lessons we all learned about our ability to get through a challenge emotionally . . . or how – after all the trauma and drama – my son lay on the couch when we finally got home, held my hand and looked into my eyes with the biggest grin on his face as he described how hard it was . . .
But I’m going to skip most of that for now with a simple ode to one element that made a difference . . .
That both my husband and I agreed gave us a distinctive advantage. (In addition to the fact that we’re just a couple old buzzards who knew we could get through this.)
It was watermelon. (Sorry if this seems anticlimactic.)
Before we left, my husband reached into the fridge and pulled out a few chunks of dripping, cold, ruby-red watermelon. I don’t know where the kids were at this moment – probably fiddling with their bikes.
We slurped it up – and it had a synergistic effect (when combined with She-Ra power.)
Now watermelon doesn’t have the reputation as a nutritional star . . . it doesn’t have the buzz that the more exotic goji berries and mangosteen have stirred up. Most people think of watermelon as ordinary. They’d never guess it’s a true superfruit.
But here’s the real unspoken secret about watermelon . . . It’s a powerhouse when it comes to energy, stress, youthfulness and even in fighting off cancer . . .
- A 2-cup serving of raw watermelon gives you 21% of the RDA for vitamin C and 18% of the RDA for vitamin A. Both of these are powerful antioxidants. When you exercise you burn up a lot of oxygen. Antioxidants like these vitamins neutralize the free radicals created when your body burns lots of oxygen. This reduces the muscle fatigue and overall tissue damage.
- Watermelon helps fight inflammation. It gives you more of the carotenoid, lycopene, than tomatoes as well as a polyphenol called cucurbitacin E. Both of these help fight pain and inflammation at the cellular level.
- Watermelon helps blood flow. It is packed with the amino acid citrulline which your body converts to arginine. Numerous studies have demonstrated that arginine relaxes the muscles around your blood vessels, opening them up so the blood flows more easily. When you’re exercising, this increase in blood flow can make a huge difference in how well your muscles perform. Better blood flow means every part of your body gets more nutrients and more oxygen.
- With all the juice and nice touch of sweetness, watermelon is like a perfect pre-workout fuel. It gives your body easy to digest carbohydrates with an extra does of hydration.
- A good source of magnesium and potassium, watermelon gives your body nutrients that keep your muscles from cramping up. And it has a dash of B vitamins that also keep stress down and energy up.
And here’s a bonus possibility – some animal studies hint that watermelon’s citrulline can eventually be turned into special molecules that may help prevent your body from making fat.
[For a more thorough rundown of watermelon's nutritional benefits, you may want to check out one of my favorite nutrition spots - The World's Healthiest Foods. Some of this information is drawn from there.]
Don’t Forget The Watermelon
Now, I know you probably don’t need much convincing. It’s hard to turn down the idea of slurping up ice-cold watermelon when the temperature climbs.
But now you have even more incentives to stock up on it this summer. It’s perhaps one of the perfect foods for active families.
We keep a constant supply in our household. I take a cooler full of it to track meets. And I regularly turn to it as a quick and healthy wake-up snack when I’m working.
When the sun is hot and your body is working hard – watermelon hits the spot.
Have a favorite watermelon story or some insight on this great fruit? Please share below!
About Sarah Clachar And Fit Family Together
Since expecting their first Since expecting their first child, Sarah and her husband Cassius have made fitness a core part of their family life. From biking to hiking . . . from the heart of New York City to a farm in New England, they have found a way to stay active together. And through all this exercising as a family they discovered that family fitness builds not only strong bodies – but stronger families.
A professional health writer with a BA in biology, gardener and foodie Sarah brings a wealth of expertise in nutrition and health. A personal trainer and inveterate tinkerer, Cassius brings innovation to making family fitness work.
Ready to make family fitness part of your family life? Take the Fit Family Together 7 Day Family Fitness Challenge and put your own family fitness plan together.