“I never thought you’d be able to see abs on my body” - How Olympic Hurdler Pamela Dutkiewicz Overcame Her Insecurities
With multiple medals at national championships as a junior athlete, Pamela Dutkiewicz had always been a prodigious talent. Super fast and always in the running for podium finishes, in 2010 she was the third fastest U20 hurdler in the world. Behind the scenes though, she felt insecure and uncomfortable about her appearance. “I once overheard one of the coaching staff describe me as ‘the chubby one.’” she told WortAthleten. “The thought of a photo of me appearing in a newspaper would scare the living daylight out of me. It was all I could think about in the days following a competition.”
International sporting events are a microcosm of the world that we live in. They’re full of stories of determination and courage, of people overcoming overwhelming odds to achieve their dreams. We see the same choices we make every day play themselves out, their consequences amplified on giant screens. Success or failure, elation or disappointment. But the problems we see in society are also on show, including body image issues. A combination of revealing outfits, coaching pressure, and internal pressure to try and conform to the ‘ideal’ shape for their sport can cause even people who have physiques that the rest of us aspire to to develop a negative body image.
While still in competition Pamela started to eat inconsistently, eating nothing all day and hardly drinking anything when she knew she was going to be weighed the next day. The advice she received from coaching staff and nutritionists was conflicting and sometimes downright dangerous - “Once one of the staff told me: ‘Just have an apple and drink tea for the rest of the day.’ Knowing what I do today, I can’t believe anyone would pass on this kind of advice to an athlete. Back then I would do exactly as told: eat one apple a day and stick with tea for the rest of the day. I wasn’t questioning it. In the sprints, every extra kilo will show in tenths and hundredths of a second.” Sometime after that, she was given a meal plan to follow that included three main meals and two lighter meals each day. “That meant I’d sometimes be eating when I wasn’t even hungry. The first six months looked promising, then my weight stalled again. I came to the conclusion that if not even nutritionists could help me, I’d never be able to lose weight.”
A painful injury in 2015 turned out to be a blessing in disguise when the doctor who was treating her at the Bochum clinic referred her to Mark Warnecke, founder of AMSport and former swimming world champion. Together with another nutritionist they began to work on a plan that would help her stay in top shape while also trying to address her insecurities about food. Pamela was to keep eating similarly to how she had been, but cut back from five meals a day to three. Breakfast was a freebie, where she was encouraged to eat whatever she felt like that day. The results were impressive, and the pressure that she felt under - both on track and off - began to lift.
“I could see changes in my body every week. I never thought you’d be able to see abs on my body. Now I am confident when I am standing on the track. Back in the day my focus was on anything but the track – 1000 distractions. I’ve lost 10 kilograms since I made those changes without starving myself or dieting. Meanwhile, I gained an incredible amount of knowledge, confidence in and understanding of my body.”
Two years later, Pamela Dutkiewicz lined up in the finals of the 100m hurdles at the 2017 World Championships in London focused on nothing but the hurdles ahead of her. 12.71 seconds later she looked up at the screen to see her name next to the number three. She had been in fifth place going over the final hurdle, but a strong finish saw her take home the bronze medal. “I dreamed of this moment, but I can’t believe it - it’s just crazy” she said, once the tears had dried after her celebrations. “This is like in a movie.”|Posted: August 31, 2017|Categories: Lifestyle
As well as the physical benefits of exercise and regular activity, a fit and healthy lifestyle has also been clinically proven to be one of the most effective ways of improving your mental health. With mental health spanning from stress and anxiety through to intense depression and with an estimated one fifth of UK adults suffering from some kind of mental health issue each year, the question is how can exercise really help?
Exercise A Secret Remedy?
For many who have encountered mental health issues, the thought of getting out and exercising may be daunting, however it has been proven that regular exercise can relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better and boost your overall mood.
Building Exercise Into Your Routine?
If like so many of us you have a busy lifestyle and are not currently a fitness enthusiast, but want to reap the benefits of fitness, you will firstly be pleased to know that research also indicates that modest amounts of exercise can also make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to make you feel better. As your confidence and fitness levels increase, there are so many ways to get the best out of your fitness routine.
For the best results, try to schedule your workout at the time of day when your energy is this highest. Although a battle for many, the time in the morning before work or a school run can provide you with a great opportunity to get out in the air and get you ready for the day ahead. For added benefits, try to make your early morning session a fasted cardio session (before breakfast), this can help you to become more efficient at using existing fat stores in your body, whilst also ensuring your hormones are in the perfect alignment for fatty acid mobilisation.
If you are looking for an exercise that is easy to work around your busy schedule, love it or hate it, running is a fantastic cardio exercise, giving you the freedom to get outside and build stamina and endurance. What’s great about running is that it can also be something you do on your own, giving you the breathing space you need, or something that is extremely social. It’s rare that you head out for a morning run and don’t meet other runners, or if you get really confident in your stride there are hundreds of running clubs up and down the country many of which are easy to access and often free to join.
As well as cardio training, moderate intensity resistance training has also been linked with improved mental health, with studies showing that resistance training can also provide some real benefits to aspects of cognition in older adults. Try to build some moderate intensity resistance exercises into your cardio a few days a week.
Set A Personal Goal
One of the most difficult factors when it comes to improving your fitness, is staying on track and staying focused. All too often, no matter how great the benefits, there is a tendency to fall back to old habits and not to push yourself or progress. A sure fire way of making sure you stick to your programme is to set yourself a challenge or a goal. This could be anything from a 10km run to a half marathon, from a new personal best in the gym to a weightlifting competition, through to one of the hundreds of challenge events taking place each year. Having a date in the diary and that knowledge that you have to achieve something will help you stay on track and achieve your goal.
Diet and Fitness The Perfect Partnership
Diet and fitness are usually seen to go hand in hand and when it comes to looking after your mental wellbeing, the combination of a great diet and a quality fitness routine are essential. Nutrition plays a bigger role in mental health than many of us realise, with evidence suggesting that what we eat can contribute to the development, management and prevention of some mental health problems. So what do we need in our diets to ensure we stay as healthy as possible?
The consumption of lots of fruit and vegetables have been proven to have a positive impact, but along with this we need to ensure our diets provide adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Many of which lack from what we eat on a day to day basis.
Although certainly not a cure for mental health problems, there is clear evidence pointing towards exercise and diet as a good way to influence symptoms which many of us encounter every day. Whether it’s stress, anxiety or one of the whole host of others, finding ways to incorporate fitness into our day to day routine can help reduce symptoms and provide a new focus or goal. Even small amounts of change in levels of physical activity, or diet can have a positive impact.
Keep your eyes peeled for our range of simple home workouts and for information about supplement products that may be suited to your training programme or diet.|Posted: February 17, 2017|Categories: Lifestyle
“New year, new you.” January detoxes are all the rage right now and a lot of newspaper articles and websites are extolling the virtues of juice cleanses and other diets purported to help you get your new year off to a healthy start. But what’s the science behind them, and what’s the best way to take part in a January detox without negatively impacting your performance?
Lots of detoxes promise you that you can wash away the calorific sins you’ve committed over the holidays and flush out all of the toxins in your body by switching to an extreme diet for a short time. Some even go as far as saying that detoxes can help prevent disease. The problem with these claims is that if toxins really did build up in your body in this way you’d likely be in need of serious medical attention - your kidneys, your liver, even your lungs and your skin are all helping to detoxify your body right now.
If you go on a week long juice cleanse you might lose weight, but this is because you’re not eating, not because you’ve flushed toxins out of your body. If you aren’t getting the calories you need then your body will start burning through the stores of glycogen in your muscles for energy and once those are depleted it might start breaking down muscle tissue. Obviously this isn’t ideal if your main aim is to put on some lean muscle mass and compete!
While the fad diets might do you more harm than good, there’s still a lot to be said for starting your year off in a healthy way. Instead of worrying about cleansing your body, there are some ways you can ‘detox’ this January with a healthy diet.
One of the best things ways that you can improve your diet and increase your performance is to incorporate more foods and supplements that increase your immune function. Try to make sure that you’re getting plenty of whole-grain carbs, lean proteins, and lots and lots of leafy vegetables. Along with some quality amino acid supplements this kind of a diet will go a long way towards you starting your new year off in a healthier, stronger way.
Making sure you’re recovering in the right way is also a big part of healthily improving your performance. For the best results, consuming something high in protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of finishing bouts of high-intensity exercise such as a whey protein shake will help reduce muscle soreness and aid recovery. Try to keep yourself well hydrated with lots of water and electrolyte drinks, and eat something high in protein like an egg sandwich within an hour of finishing your training. Again, amino acid supplements are also great at helping you boost your recovery. If you don’t have one already, devising your own post-exercise routine and making sure you follow it religiously is one of the best things you can do to kick off your new year.
Snacking is a great way to keep your calorie intake up, so instead of being tempted to cut out snacks as part of a January detox it would be much better to make sure that you’re snacking right. Replace crisps and chocolate with nuts and fresh fruit, and if you need something sweet then AMSport have plenty of tasty alternatives that won’t break your new diet.
Wanting to start your new year of in a healthy way is commendable, but following a January detox from a tabloid or trying a juice cleanse will hurt your performance a lot more than it helps. Instead, if you can get into the habit of eating better and using the right supplements this January, then you’ll be on track to make 2017 your best year yet.