6 Health and Fitness Tips from an Athlete

Do you ever feel like you need to work on your health routine – physical and mental? Of course, we all do! Springfree Guest Blogger & Canadian Athlete, Rosie MacLennan let us ask a few health, fitness & nutrition questions and she explains how she balances training and a healthy lifestyle.

Thank you, Rosie, for sharing!

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  1. How do you, as an athlete, stay healthy?

The number one key that I have learned over time to stay healthy is to listen to my body. Our bodies are really smart and incredibly responsive, both positively and negatively. It knows and responds to things that we do and the more in tune you can be with what your body is telling you, I think the healthier you can be.

What that actually means…

Here are a few things that I really prioritize, because of “listening” to my body.

Sleep/Rest/Meditation:

I have found that getting a good night’s sleep is really critical not only for performance, but for optimal function. I am not a naturally good sleeper, it has taken a lot of time to figure out what the best pre-bed routine is for me, and a little bit longer to actually adhere to it. Something that was really big for me to learn was that I cannot have caffeine after noon, it would keep me awake long into the night. Before bed, the best routine for me includes putting my phone down about an hour before I want to sleep. Have a hot shower, followed by some light stretches and then some deep breathing. I will often also read before bed on my kindle. I also really try and listen to my body during the day to ensure some moments of rest. When I am in full training, this often means a nap, but other days, it can be as little as a 5-minute period of time where I close my eyes and do some deep breathing.

Nutrition:

I don’t adhere to strict diets, I don’t “restrict” myself in terms of food, but I do really try and pay attention to how my body responds to what I put into it. Each of us is unique and what works for some people will not work for others. Our bodies are smart in terms of telling us what it needs, and alternatively, what it does not want. Over time, I have learned what my body responds to well and what it doesn’t (What helps give me energy, and what takes it away. What makes me feel really bloated, and what sits really well in my body, particularly before and after work outs.) I eat when I am hungry and try to keep healthy snacks available at all times (fruit, veggies, hummus, left-overs) so that when I am hungry, those are really easily accessible.

Physical Activity:

I try and be active every day, whether it is a full-on training day or when I am off. I often try and start my day with at least 10 minutes of biking followed by a stretch. When I do this, I feel much better through the rest of the day. I find this helps me mentally and physically. What I do varies a lot depending on how I feel and how my body feels. There are days when I am supposed to have a full training day, but my body really just wants to do something light and recover. On those days, I will focus on stretching and lighter forms of movement. Alternatively, there are days when I am supposed to have a day off, but I feel incredibly energized. I listen to those sensations. No matter what, I do try and move every day.

Mental Health:

As many people do, I have experiences with anxiety. With this, I find it really important to pay attention to my mental health and keep certain practices front of mind. When I feel anxiety coming on, it is “easier” to try and ignore it and push it down, to avoid it, but for me, this ultimately means that it comes back later and stronger. I have daily strategies that I put in place (though sometimes I slip). This includes moments of gratitude and deep breathing. It also involves giving myself some time and space to allow my mind to wander and explore my thoughts. When I have thoughts that start to “spiral” I will push myself to take time to sit down and write them out, pushing myself to logically and rationally think these thoughts through fully.

  1. What are your favorite foods?

Breakfast:

There are three breakfasts that are my favorite:

Fruit Smoothie: I use 1 cup soymilk, some water, 1 scoop BioSteel protein, a handful of berries, a handful of spinach and a tablespoon of Peanut butter.

Oatmeal Pancakes: Take half a cup of oats, cook it, then add an egg and mix It up to make a batter, pour it onto a frying pan and it makes pancakes! I will top these with some peanut butter and berries or with some maple syrup for a treat.

Eggs & Veggies: I will often put a handful of spinach, some mushroom and tomato into a frying pan, then crack an egg or two into another frying pan and have eggs with some sautéed veggies on the side.

Lunch & Dinner:

Salad & Protein: I will often make salads with lots of veggies, some seeds and protein.

Favourites: Black kale, roasted pepper, roasted zucchini, roasted mushroom, hemp hearts, greens, shredded carrot, shredded beet, cucumber, pumpkin seeds topped with salmon, chicken or steak.

Taco Bowl: Rice with ground beef, sautéed peppers, onion and mushrooms, mixed with lettuce or spinach, topped with tomato or salsa and avocado.

Snacks:

I always keep cut veggies in my fridge and some hummus. I also love to have some fruit with peanut butter. Those are probably my go-to snacks.

Treat:

Dark chocolate 

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  1. What exercises are you most excited to do?

Besides jumping…

  • I love activities that are outside or with people.
  • Hikes or long bike rides
  • Paddle boarding
  • Team workout sessions where we build our own workouts and keep each other going
  • Trying new things or pushing myself to reach a new point in an activity
  • Pilates

Lifting weights - especially squats or deadlifts

  1. How do you find balance?

Finding balance can be challenging at times. There is a constant pull towards training and ensuring all that I do is geared towards peak performance and I am grateful that my family and friends are supportive of that, but there is also a need to take a step back, breath and ensure that I make time for other things. I have always been a better athlete, and a better human, when I carve out time for things outside of sport, like spending time with my family and friends, taking some time to myself, or working on another project. I don’t always get it right and am constantly learning how to balance everything, but this also goes back to listening to my body and my mind, and honestly, scheduling. My weeks are always scheduled with trainings, some meetings and other commitments, but on my calendar/weekly schedule, you will also find things like: Meditate, nap, cook, date night. I learned that you can’t take making time for those things for granted. It is so easy to schedule other aspects of your life, but I have learned it is as important, if not more, to carve out that time for yourself and the people around you. Scheduling it makes sure it happens, but also makes me much more efficient and effective in those other periods of time too.

  1. How do you challenge yourself?

Create Long Term & Short Term Goals:

The best way to challenge myself is by creating goals. I have long term, ultimate gaols that I want to achieve but when you only have those, knowing how to go about accomplishing those goals can be overwhelming given the “space” from where you are now to where you want to be, can feel massive. I break down these goals and create weekly goals and daily intentions. I will communicate these goals to someone (like my coach or husband) to ensure I am accountable to someone for them. Not every day is going to be filled with achievement, but acknowledging that there is always something you can be doing to get a little bit closer to your goal works.

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  1. What advice would you give to kids who want to have a healthy lifestyle?

I think the easiest way to have a healthy life is to find what you love to do. There are so many aspects to living a healthy lifestyle, so I will break it down a little bit more:

Physical health/activity:

Find an activity that you love to do. I was never really good at the more conventional sports but, especially these days, there are SOOOO many ways to get active both in structured programs & sports or creatively. Take time to explore and try new things. I tried so many different activities as a kid before I found trampoline. Even now, I am constantly trying new things and while it can be scary to try something new, or to not be good at something, that doesn’t mean that you won’t love it. Your joy in an activity should not be determined by how good you are at it. This is especially true when you are starting out. I have fallen and failed so many times, but it is through that process of trial and error that you learn, you grow, you become stronger and you put tools into your resilience toolbox.

Nutrition:

Listen to your body for what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. Also, have fun with cooking! I think the best thing about nutrition is that there are so many different options out there, so many different recipes to try and you can really have fun with it. When you find a nutritious recipe that you like, add it into your weekly meal rotation so that it is an easy go to. Also, having healthy snacks that are easy to access through the day is helpful, because when we get hungry, it can always feel easy to reach for things that are not as good for us.

Mental Health:

Spend some time outside every day. Spend some time off screens every day where you give your mind and body the chance to think and breathe. There is so much in the world that can distract us or keep us entertained, but I think it is important to create time and space for yourself. Whether it is journaling, deep breathing, going for a walk or meditating (structured or unstructured), I think having this time is so important. Also, know that it is always ok to ask for help! I’ve had to reach out for help a lot, both from my family and friends, but also from professionals, to help guide me through a process to get to a place of mental health. It is a daily practice.

Resilience:

Know that falling, failing and making mistakes is ok - more than ok, it is necessary! It can suck in the moment, but these are the opportunities that allow us to grow and learn. I can guarantee that I have learned way more about myself when I am facing an obstacle and am struggling. It can be hard to see the value in the struggle in the moment, but I promise you, you will be better and stronger for it and you will add tools to your tool box on how to handle challenge the next time you face one.