A Holistic Approach to Sports

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Prepared by: Meagan Duhamel, R.H.N.  |  lutzofgreens.com 

My interest in holistic health was sparked about 15 years ago when a dietician that I was sent to work with gave me a meal plan that included cheese strings. Cheese strings—those stringy, processed yellow sticks. That’s what I was supposed to eat if I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater? Of course, my meal plan offered other foods, but this food in particular boggled my mind and I couldn’t let it go. What types of nutrients are in this cheese string? Isn’t it entirely processed? Why would I use this as fuel? It turns out the dietician calculated that the fat, protein, and calorie content of the cheese string was ideal, but I didn’t care about the math. I didn’t understand why something void of any nutritional value was being recommended to me by a dietician.

Fast forward five years later, and I’m still scratching my head over this cheese string issue as I decide to start following an entirely plant-based diet. I still don’t know much about nutrition, but my curiosity is growing. I want to be healthier, take care of my body more seriously, and excel further in my sport, but I need more knowledge. A friend of a friend introduced me to the program offered by the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and I was immediately hooked. I quickly found myself learning new things and becoming more and more engaged with holistic living.

Holistic health goes further than simply nutrition. Of course, I want to fuel my body with proper nutrition—and for me, that consists of plant-based, nutrient-dense whole foods—but it goes deeper than that. For me, the body, mind, and spirit are not separate; they are one. I feed my spirit, I train my body, and I focus my mind. And it’s this combination that has allowed me to excel at the highest level of Olympic sport. Being an athlete is not just about going to a competition and winning a gold medal. It’s about the daily pursuit of excellence.

During this daily pursuit of excellence, I followed a strict schedule that involved a combination of training my body and training my mind. Every day, I worked with holistic practitioners, such as osteopaths, chiropractors, sports massage therapists, energy healing massage therapists, and acupuncturists. I didn’t follow the conventional medical doctor and physiotherapy routine that my partner and training mates followed; I always tried to think outside the box for more alternative options.

Over eight years with these amazing therapists, we healed my body from the inside out. We fixed injuries, and we prevented injuries from happening. We created harmony in my body, so I could train and push myself to the limit.

I also looked to essential oils to help me reduce pain, and turmeric and magnesium to help reduce inflammation and muscle pain, instead of Advil, Tylenol or other medications.

Another tool that I used for my sports training and performance was mental training. I used techniques like visualization, hypnotherapy, gratitude, and communication and I brought these tools into my training and competitions. Meditation and yoga have become a regular part of my life over the past few years. Many holistic techniques helped me a lot as I prepared for major competitions. Sometimes I would sit back stage, roll on some lavender, ylang ylang, or frankincense oil and sit in meditation as I prepared to go on to the ice at the Olympics or World Championships.

I hope to inspire others to engage in a deeper understanding of their bodies. What affects one thing, always affects another. The search for our best self is a never-ending process. The deeper you dig, the more you find.

-Posted July 2018-

Meagan is a 2018 Olympic Bronze and Gold Medalist, 2015 & 2016 World Champion and 7-time Canadian Champion Figure Skater. Learn more about her on her wellness blog, lutzofgreens.com/about-meagan-duhamel/

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