BY POPSUGAR.COM/ DOMINIQUE ASTORINO
Few athletes have more challenging and rigorous workout schedules than an Olympic athlete. From two-a-day weight-training sessions to multiple swim sessions each day to 32 hours a week of performance practices — it's anything but easy when you're going for gold.
But if you don't take a rest, you're doing your body more harm than good. To keep their bodies in peak physical form, Olympians have to put as much into their recovery as they do into their workouts — and we should take heed! We chatted with gold medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin about her training-recovery secrets, and we were thrilled to know that we can incorporate them into our everyday (read: NOT Olympic) workout schedule, too!
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BY THESTAR.COM/ Katrina Clarke
As a time-strapped University of Toronto student athlete, volleyballer Kristina Valjas’ go-to fuel was a bowl of Kraft Dinner or a bag of chips.
Cheap, easy and tasty, but the junk diet eventually caught up with her.
“The turning point was the shin splints. It was extreme pain,” said Valjas, now 28 and a beach volleyball player with Canada’s national team. She’d developed bone density issues, partly due to a calcium deficiency.
What athletes eat can mean the difference between high level success and body breakdowns, but it takes time, effort and education to get it right, say dietitians and athletes. This can be tricky in a world where some seem able to eat whatever they want — Usain Bolt subsisting on chicken nuggets during the Olympics, Michael Phelps eating a reported 12,000 calories per day while training and Lolo Jones downing double bacon cheeseburgers to gain weight — but athletes say as they age, they know what works for them and what doesn’t.
“It’s, like, immediate now for me,” said Melissa Tancredi, a member of the Canadian women’s national soccer team who lives in Vancouver. “I’ll know right after I eat something (unhealthy) like, oh that wasn’t good. Your body’s like, no, I feel awful ... You feel sluggish, you feel tired.”
Tancredi, now 33, admits she paid little attention to what she ate as a young athlete, but now credits healthy eating with helping her to perform at her best in her 30s. She mainly sticks to organic meats, fruits and vegetables — though she’s not averse to a rich curry.
The main thing sports dietitian Melissa Kazan notices with her athletes at the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario is that they don’t snack or plan ahead enough.
“That’s where we come in as dietitians,” she said.
Kazan teaches her athletes to pack healthy snacks, such as granola bars, soy milk packs or chocolate milk, and she advocates for an “everything in moderation” approach to eating.
“We always think, athletes, all they eat are carbohydrates or high carbohydrate diets — it really has to be varied,” she said.
Kazan said when an athlete’s training load is high at the beginning of the season, they’re likely eating more carbohydrates but as training sessions are tapered throughout the season, carbohydrate intake typically drops. Protein and fat intake typically remains the same, she said.
As for how many calories athletes consume, it depends on the athlete and the sport, said Kazan. Male swimmers competing at the national level might consume 6,000 calories per day.
The day’s schedule might also affect what an athlete eats, she said. Someone who can get away with eating greasy foods on a training day won’t be able to do so on competition day, said Kazan, since fat is a heavy nutrient to digest.
“At the end of the day, you have to realize that saturated fats, sugars and the rest of those not-as-great nutrients … still have the same effect on the body, whether you’re a runner, whether you’re an endurance athlete or not,” said Andrea Falcone, a registered dietitian and fitness professional whose clients include hockey players, marathon runners and volleyball players. “As far as performance, the best fuel is going to give you the best output.”
For some athletes, the problem isn’t eating bad food, but not eating enough or not frequently enough. High performance athletes should be eating every three to four hours — a challenge that can be overcome with proper meal planning, she said.
Falcone adds the research on sports nutrition has changed over the years, with modern research eschewing a one-size-fits all approach for a more nuanced look at what each athlete needs to perform at their best.
So could that mean chicken nuggets are the key to success? Not quite.
“Can (an athlete) eat anything they want? No, in a nutshell,” she said. “But they might be able to burn off that fuel better than your typical layperson.”
As for Valjas, she revamped her diet after meeting with a nutritionist, adding in more calcium, protein and fruits. It’s a healthful lifestyle she’s held to ever since — with the exception of the odd Coke or chocolate bar — and one that helped improve bone density issues.
“I’m mindful of what I put in my body because this is what I do for a living. It’s fuel,” she said. “I don’t even want chips anymore.”
ARTICLE & IMAGE: http://on.thestar.com/1RDjNQp
1) AVOIDING PAIN IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO SUCCESS
I use the gym as a metaphor on how I attack and live my life. It is my laboratory, if you will, where I break down the bad and create the good habits necessary to self-generate success. When you’re in the gym and you want to quit, when physical pain signals you to mentally checkout, it is in that moment you either develop a positive or a negative habit. Your instinctive decision creates a conditioned response. Every time you mentally shutdown, checkout or quit, the stronger that pathway becomes. Every time you’re faced with pain, stress, discomfort and you buckle down, you endure and you prove to yourself that you didn’t die when you pushed beyond your limits, you create a positive habit, a conditioned response to mentally check-in, when most want to mentally checkout.
2) HOW YOU REACT DURING A CHALLENGE DEFINES YOUR FUTURE SUCCESS
The difference between success and failure lies in the answer to this question: When life throws you challenges, do you create negative or positive habits? How did you set yourself up to be in that position? I tell people you can strengthen character by overcoming difficulties, and that starts to give you a conditioned response. When you have armed yourself with all these conditioned responses, when you do have challenges, you’re better equipped, you don't just go in with wishes and dreams. You attack endeavors with a tool belt, an arsenal of mental strength and indomitable will to succeed… Success isn’t an end state, it's not a trophy or an award. Success is waking up each morning and trying to best yesterday’s effort. It is forgetting the accomplishments already passed and focusing on the success of tomorrow.
3) SUCCESS IS A DAILY MINDSET
I am fortunate to have a highly educated and fantastically successful mentor in my older brother. Being a West Point grad/Army Ranger and now Wall Street executive he explained to me the importance of motivation versus intrinsic motivation. (e.g. people are motivated to have an expensive car.) He explained that people in the military are mostly intrinsically motivated for they put their lives on the line in service of the greater good of our nation. Celebrity status, fame and finance do not motive them. If you truly want to be the best at what it is you do, it’s not enough just to be motivated to make money, have the biggest house or date the prettiest girl, because what happens when you achieve those things? What happens when those materialistic and shallow goals are subsequently achieved? The answer—and we have seen it all too often—is that motivation fades away, the fire begins to fizzle. People view success as an end state. It is not an end state - it is a daily mindset. Every day you have to earn success. When you’re a parent you don’t stop and say, “As parent my job is done when my kid has passed 1st grade.” It is no different as a person, as an entrepreneur or business owner. Every day you try to self-improve.
4) “SUCCESS ISN’T OWNED IT IS LEASED, AND EVERY DAY YOUR RENT IS DUE.” (A QUOTE THAT JOE LIVES BY)
Every day you have to earn success for the day… you can’t just “work hard at your job.” Success is in the little things you do when the mind or body tries to tell you otherwise. Success happens when you start forcing yourself beyond your cocoon of comfort, i.e. your comfort zone. It is forcing yourself to push beyond your comfy boundaries of mental and physical complacency. To attack the fears that once paralyzed us, and kept us from living the life of our dreams. That’s truly the way to feel successful and fulfilled in ones life.
5) SUCCESS IS NOTHING BUT A PROCESS.
Many think success and achievement are synonymous. Achievement is the trophy, the award, the end state. Success is not final but rather a process during which achievements fall along the journey. Every day I’m going to get up and work my day with a relentless desire to succeed from end to end. No matter what - I am going to find a way to win every day. When you do that repeatedly you put yourself in a position to self-generate self-success. Quest Nutrition President Tom Bilyeu and I made career choices. Tom and I went in completely different directions in life; both of us have never been more fulfilled. Yet neither one of us has taken the foot off the gas even for a second. Sure it’s nice to have financial security, but if Quest was 10% of its size he would still wake up and still enjoy his life. I stopped looking at my financial bottom line 3 years ago. I enjoy the process of putting projects together, the challenge of bringing an idea to fruition. If it generates revenue then great, but some things don’t and are not meant to work out. This is the nature of the business and there is no better on-the-job training than success by brutal lessons of failure. Battles are won, some are lost. In the end you want to look back on life in its entirety and have won the war, that is the game of life.
Watch Joe Donnelly’s interview on Inside Quest for more insights on beating fear at its own game and turning obstacles into advantages.
ARTICLE & IMAGE SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1mlMfe8
A collection of Competitive Athlete articles and selected content from various online sources to help you achieve your winning goals