I’m already at Day 6 Post-OP now, and things are moving along smoothly. I have practically no more visual swelling, the pain has subsided exponentially and I can now successfully shower, put my clothes on, walk up and down the stairs, carry some small things around (Water bottle!!). However, I am still very lucky to have my mom help me with the driving, cooking, cleaning of the house. It’s been SO long since I’ve slowed down my life pace like this…I sure miss skiing so much, but I gotta say it’s been a treat to spend some relaxing down time with my mom and soon with my family at home. There is always positive in every situation, so that’s what I choose to see. Every night, we have been hitting Netflix Holiday movies in our PJs, haha! Here is a little show of my day today, hope it can give you a little laugh, and if not, well I had fun making it haha!
If you’re a ski racing fan, you’ve heard that bad news – Marie-Michele tore her ACL and dislocated her shoulder running the Lake Louise Downhill training run. But what a run it was! She was winning by almost seven tenths of a second a minute into the course. “I was feeling really good this summer and feeling great in speed. Although I didn’t finish the training run, I’m glad I was on the right path and I know I have what it takes to compete in speed.”
There is a good article and video about it here.
But, like she was crushing the training run, she will also crush the rehabilitation. Through Alpine Strength she will document the entire rehabilitation process through video blogs. So here it is, the first day of her return-to-snow journey!
My nutrition tricks
First of all, I am not a professional dietitian or nutritionist, so you can choose to keep reading what I have to say, or totally call bulls*** on me and stop right there!!
I’m not the right person if you want to make drastic nutrition changes or lose weight…i’m just a voice…the voice of a professional athlete (with a slight french accent;)..)
Over the last ten years, I have been educated on a nutrition plan that works for my sport, my goals and my preferences. So, if you are a skier, like me, this could perhaps be interesting to you…(look who’s getting ahead of herself).
Just to give you a quick background on me, I come from Lac-Etchemin, Québec. It doesn’t get much more french than that. My village is in the countryside south of Québec city. We are lucky to have a blob of a mountain where there is a great little ski area, called Mont-Orignal. I grew up skiing there! When I was 12 years old, I moved up to the big league…well you know the city life! I went to school at Cardinal-Roy, a sport school. I was part of the Skibec ski team. Then I spent two years on the Quebec Ski Team and finally, when I was 17, I made the National Team. I’ve been competing on the World Cup tour for almost a full ten years now. (ouch!)
I know you’re like okay who cares, tell me what I should eat…so let’s get to it.
Misconception #1 in athlete nutrition
People think athletes have to be on a diet constantly…
Well maybe if I was a ballerina…but let me tell you, you’d be surprised what we get away with!
I don’t count calories, never have, though I’m kind of interested now…I wonder how many calories I typically consume when I have my heavy training block in the summertime…probably close to double the amount than when I’m not training.(which is still substantial).
I do have some rules though, to perform at my best. My goals when I first started with the National Team were always to gain muscle mass. It literally took me 5 years until that muscle mass stayed and didn’t just melt away during the winter when I couldn’t lift as often. Now, my goals are more maintenance of muscle mass and refining the details of my nutrition plan. So back to my rules now.
Rule 1 Eat 20g of protein every 3 hours
I know what you’re thinking, classic gym rat….well no, I don’t go around chugging a whey protein drink every few hours. I choose my protein source wisely. I prefer real food, so my go-to’s are: greek yogurt, almonds, cottage cheese, almond butter and of course, CLIF bars (specifically the nut butter, but all works!).
My tendency with snacking was often to eat a fruit, but that wasn’t enough to help with my recovery. Think of it as you needing to feed your muscles…and you gotta do it with proteins.
Rule 2 Drink minimum 2 litters of water per day (I probably drink 2.5-3 litters on a normal day)
You know what just happened right now, I went and filled up my water bottle because as I’m writing this, I realized I knew I didn’t get enough fluid for today…
I can totally imagine you saying like: How would I know if I drank enough without becoming my own water police ?
If you don’t want to be all intense with keeping track, the best way to know is that you probably will be going to pee every 2 hours in a day. (or maybe that’s just me…:(…)
Plus, a great benefit about drinking tons of water is that very often people think they are hungry, but really they are thirsty…so if you drink more water, you tend to eat less. Therefore, keeping weight off!
**TIPS to help drink more water:
- Just pop a few pieces of watermelon and rosemary together in a container in the fridge. Or lemon and mint…or whatever you got in your fridge, it makes the water that much tastier.
- Carry a water bottle around with you always, put one in your car, one at your office, one by your TV…then it’s a constant reminder that water is good for you;)
Rule 3 Each meal should have a grain, a protein source (meat) and a veggie.
As a skier, we aren’t often doing long long cardio session like cross country skiers or marathon runners. So a huge plate of pasta with bread is a no-no.
Our typical training days have a mix of strength training, balance, core, agility, speed…basically we are a power sport.
Therefore, a typical plate to help us recover best would be 1/3 protein, 1/3 grain, 1/3 veggie. For there, the possibilities are endless! Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be the boring looking chicken, rice and veggie every day. I love creating tasty bowls with seasonal produce. I have a favourite meal to make….and drum roll….I’m going to share it with you! It’s called the Greek Goddess Bowl, (no joke!), could it sounds any better?!
Greek Goddess Bowl recipe
•1 cup brown rice (or another grain of your choosing)
•1 cup puy (French green) lentils
•4 cups vegetable broth or water
•1 teaspoon olive oil
•1/2 small red onion, chopped
•2 garlic cloves, minced
•6 sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated or oil packed, finely chopped
•1/2 red pepper, seeded and chopped
•1 1/2 teaspoons capers
•1 recipe of Tahini Lemon Garlic Sauce (recipe below)
•1 medium sized tomato, chopped
•1/2 cucumber, chopped
•3 large kale leaves (or another seasonal green of your choosing), roughly chopped
•3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
•Salt and pepper, to taste
•Kalamata olives and lemon wedges for garnish
TAHINI LEMON GARLIC SAUCE
•1/4 cup tahini
•2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
•1/2 cup lemon juice
•1/4 cup nutritional yeast
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1 teaspoon kosher salt
•1/3 cup water
•Pepper, to taste
1.Cook the brown rice (or other grain) in 2 cups of broth or water according to package directions; cook the lentils separately in the 2 remaining cups of broth or water for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
2.Prepare the Tahini Lemon Garlic Sauce by mixing all the ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
3.In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté the red onion for a few minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper, capers and sun dried tomatoes, sauté until the onions and peppers have softened, being careful not to burn the garlic.
4.Add in the cooked lentils and Tahini Lemon Garlic Sauce and bring the skillet up to medium high heat. Cook until the sauce begins to bubble, then add in the tomato, cucumber, kale and sauté until the kale begins to wilt.
5.Remove from heat and fold in the parsley, season with salt and pepper.
6.Portion the rice into bowls and place the lentil mixture over top. Garnish with olives and lemon wedges.
Rule 4 Take my vitamins and supplements
Since I travel a ton, I don’t always get to eat what I need. Therefore, I travel with :
– Vitamin D (I’m in a winter sport, so not much skin exposed to the sun)
- Omega 3’s
- Vitamin B12
- Electrolyte mixes to hydrate such as Clif, Skratch. (made with real fruit)
- Beta-Alanine (this is a supplement that helps a high performance athlete, not recommended otherwise)
- Probiotics (travelling around the world means different foods always…but still good for everyday life too)
- Greens powder (we sometimes don’t get served enough veggies on the road so this is a good alternative, and it helps when you start feeling sick)
- L-Glutamine (I use this rarely, but in case I’m going to be on a plane for 48 hours and I feel a little sick, it boosts my immune system)
- Oregano Oil (yes, it tastes horrible, but it really helps to prevent from getting sick)
Rule 5 Try to keep at 200 calories of cheat food per day, no more
I’m not one to say no to a little treat here and there. I’d say 85% of everything I eat is wholesome and good for me, but I always leave a little room for cheat treats.
I don’t go around counting those calories either, but I try to average no more than 200 calories of cheat food. Some of my favourites cheat treats are baked goods (desserts), glass of red wine, chocolate, jujubes, a cold beer after surfing, etc… Ahead of time, I know 1 glass of red wine is around 200 calories, so if I have 2 with dinner one night, I try to skip cheat food the next day. Makes sense?
It’s a small rule that you shouldn’t feel guilty if you go over, it just gives you more awareness of how much cheat food you are consuming and it might help you make changes by yourself.
I have many more little tricks to share with you about nutrition, so stay tuned, in the next blog I will share tips on how to eat healthy while travelling, my favourite go-to breakfast before skiing and share some more of my favourite recipes!!
Our Alpine Strength Programs have many types of interval training. One of the types of interval training included in all the programs is “High Intensity Interval Training.” Recent studies have heralded High Intensity Interval training as a “fountain of youth” and that it is highly beneficial for all ages.
“…Meanwhile, at the cellular level, high-intensity interval training yielded the biggest benefits.
Specifically, in the HIIT group, younger participants saw a 49% increase in mitochondrial capacity, while older participants saw a 69% increase. Most cells in our bodies contain infrastructure known as mitochondria. These “organelles” — a mini-version of an organ within a cell — perform as tiny batteries do, producing much-needed energy.
Interval training also improved volunteers’ insulin sensitivity more than other forms of exercise. Drilling down deeper, Nair and his colleagues compared the protein-level data gathered from participants to understand why exercise provided these benefits.”
Reference: Scutti, Susan. March 18, 2017. Interval training exercise could be a fountain of youth. Link
Here’s an example of what one of our recreational programs has for H.I.I.T. during week 1 of block 1:
On a bike, elliptical, or while running, do 5 sets of 1 minute at 70 % of your max, with 3 minute breaks at 30% of your max between each set. The entire thing takes 20 minutes not including warmup or cool down.
Warming up is an essential part of any athlete’s daily routine. Through the Alpine Strength programs we’ve focused a ton on all types of warmups that are each different for each different workout. There are specific warm-ups for lifting, for muscular endurance, for plyometrics, and for balance. The main warm-up that we’ve seen over and over again is the dynamic warmup. This is the one that is done usually before lifting – AND before skiing!
You may not have realized it throughout these training blocks, but creating this routine of performing the dynamic warmup multiple times a week (while it may get boring), is so important for you! Not only because you need this type of warmup before any intense workout, but the routine that you’ve memorized can now be used on the ski hill, right before getting into your boots. And, it’s the exact same dynamic warmup that Marie-Michele is doing, that national team athletes are doing, and that you see people doing in the lodge before skiing. Make it a goal to integrate this warmup into your ski routine!
When it comes to ski days – whether it be a training day or a race dar, Marie-Michele typically has two warmups that she does before skiing: a static warmup right after she wakes up, before breakfast, and a dynamic warmup that she does right before putting her boots on.
Ok – so you know it off by heart… good! It’s not a mistake that some days the warmup may take longer than the actual workout – these are important! Check out this article from the science of sport https://www.scienceforsport.com/warm-ups that talks specifically about some of the benefits of a dynamic warmup:
“ The practice of ‘warming-up’ has been universally accepted for a very long time. While the general principles surrounding the need to warm-up remain valid, in recent years there is growing evidence which questions the usefulness of historic warm-up methods and introduces potential areas for future development.
In past years, particularly within recreational and amateur sport environments, warm-ups were typically employed to serve only two purposes: 1) prepare the athlete mentally, and 2) to prepare the athlete physically for exercise or competition. However, in recent years whilst the same principles apply, warm-ups are now often viewed to serve four primary purposes:
- Mental readiness
- Physical readiness
- Injury prevention
- Performance enhancement
In professional and elite sport environments, using warm-ups to serve these four primary purposes appears to now be very common. As a consequence, warm-ups have evolved to also serve as a method of enhancing performance and reducing or preventing the occurrence of injury. In most of these professional and elite environments, the days of a simple 2-minute jog around the field, followed by some poorly coached and light-hearted static stretching are rapidly vanishing due to modern knowledge and the accessibility of information.
As it is understood that warm-ups can both reduce injury (1, 2) and improve performance (3, 4, 5), it is extremely important that exercise professionals understand not only the importance but also the potential of a well-designed warm-up if they are to maximise the athletic potential of their athletes.
A well-designed warm-up can increase blood flow, muscle temperature, core temperature (6), and also disrupt temporary connective tissue bonds (7). These effects can have the following positive effects on performance:
- Faster muscle contraction and relaxation of both agonist and antagonist muscles (8).
- Improvements in rate of force development (9).
- Improvements in reaction time (9).
- Improvements in muscle strength and power (10, 7).
- Lowered viscous resistance in muscles (7)
- Improved oxygen delivery due to the Bohr effect where higher temperatures facilitate oxygen release from haemoglobin and myoglobin (6)
- Increased blood flow to active muscles (6)
- Enhanced metabolic reactions (7) “
Enough about dynamic warmup! What’s up with the static warmup?
There are mixed reviews online about whether or not a static warmup is warranted – but in this case it’s almost more of a meditation / yoga moment that is done in the morning. It’s not meant in any way to warm you up for aggressive athletic endeavors. This static warmup is meant as a wakeup warmup / moment to connect with your body and feel that it is in tune with it’s normal feelings. As you’re stretching you can feel whether anything’s off or tighter than normal, and focus on those areas. After the static warmup you should feel relaxed and mentally prepared for a day of skiing. And like we mentioned earlier: static is right out of bed, before breakfast, and it’s paired with dynamic, which is right before putting your ski boots on.
The static warmup is more of a personal warmup. It’s unique to each athlete, and in Marie-Michele’s case, it focuses on yoga movements that she knows make her feel good. It’s not just a physical warmup, but mental one as well. By knowing your body and understanding what it needs to wake up in the morning, you are also giving your mind a moment to relax and boosting your confidence through this type of routine. You do it everyday before skiing, you know it works, and it gives you a moment of “you” time. It’s one more thing you can check off the list of “don’t have to think about this and I’m better prepared for this day by having done it.”
Check out this video of her static warmup and use it as inspiration for your own. What makes you feel good and makes you feel ready to take on the day!