YouTube Video | Q&A on Injuries

This video addresses some awesome questions and even some stories from you guys! Thank you so much for your questions, the more you ask, the more you learn about the tools you can develop to help you as an athlete. I am so passionate about sharing with young athletes, and I have often heard stories of athletes quitting sport due to injuries. 

This was definitely not an easy video to record. As I am getting more proficient in learning how I should speak in front of the camera, I am also learning how to transfer knowledge I have into something that is clear for you. I beg of you, be patient with me :) Sports has been my life for so long, but most of the time I have been the one asking the professionals the questions. Now, the tables are turned and I am learned how to adapt in a new role. 

I have been sharing my personal journey and experiences on injuries through out my career as a professional athlete on the National Team for Wrestling. Immediately upon graduating from college, I started my journey and adventure with a move out to the Olympic Training Center. I had come out already with an injury, a complete tear in my UCL, my very first severe injury I had ever had in my career. I was lucky to have the support and direction of the best medical staff team in the world. Even still, I realized that the rehab process doesn't do the magic it does with out my feedback and collaboration. Once I was able to rehab back to sport specific exercises, if I wasn't digging for problem areas they wouldn't get found. I had to creatively reproduce wrestling movements before I was ready to complete a entire move, and discover the areas that are uncomfortable. From there, I would work with my physical therapist to create a rehab routine that addressed the new areas I found. It was uncomfortable, very very uncomfortable. I continued to get strong and great at an area, and then I would re-assess and find more areas that didn't feel right yet. And the rehab didn't stop once I was back to sport and getting ready to compete. I would continue with movement preparation, which lead into higher-intensity movements or endurance movements. Coming back to sport wasn't good enough for me, I had to retrain my fast-twitch and endurance fibers. 

A lot of questions were pertaining to the idea of, "will I ever be the same?" You have to use that as a push of motivation. No, you may  not be the same. And guess what? Once you are "fully back to sport," that in no way means that you are the same as before. You will have to continue to train that injured area so that it can be the BEST it can be. Not so it can be like it was before. You have to honestly give it the patience it deserves, because your body is trying to do what you're telling it to do. Ask questions, learn the rehab, do the rehab, re-assess, ask more, repeat. 

Since that first surgery I had when I first moved out to the Olympic Training Center in 2010, I have had to repeat this process for (now) 2 more surgeries. A foot surgery in 2015, and my current shoulder surgery. Not to mention the countless little injuries in between. (SIGH) Life of an athlete. Did fear creep in? Yes. Did you feel discouraged? Yes, yes, and yes. But these are the moments where we decide to set ourselves apart from the rest. I couldn't let an injury tell me my future. I refused to let injuries be my fate. And since then have learned so much from the professionals around me about how I can train my body to combat future injuries, as well as how I can support and teach others to do the same. 

Our path is our own path. I can't compare my journey to anyone else who wrestles in the U.S, or in the world. I have to travel down the road that makes sense for me, at every stage. My journey has been more surgeries than other athletes, and there are plenty of athletes who have had way more surgeries than I'll ever have. I know that I wasted a lot of energy worried about what others thought about how I was training, or more like how I wasn't training. There were times I wished I had stood up for myself and the things I needed, instead of pushing little injuries because I was worried I would look weak. Finally, I realized that no one owned my career except for myself. I had the power to create my own reality, and my own situation. 



How to Track Your Cycle and Better Prepare for Competition

Tracking your cycle can help you plan for competitions, assist in unknowns if you need to manage your weight, and increase your competitive advantage. As much as I don't plan on getting into an anatomy lesson, I do believe that all girls and women should be armed with a little education. Your cycle refers to the first day of your period, up to the day before you next period begins. On average, a cycle is 28 days, but can be as short as 21 or can be as long as 35 days. It is important for you to start tracking how long your cycle is. This will help you know (on average) when your period will begin each month. This is hugely valuable for preparing yourself each month during competition seasons, for whatever sport you do. 


The first step is to TRACK. The best time to learn this process is to start in the off season. Writing down in a calendar, a journal, or using a phone app will be essential tools to track your period and your cycle so you are not required to memorize everything!

Clue is a great app, as well as Period Diary, Monthly Cycles, and Cycles. Check out the tools each app provides to help you decide which one will work best for you. Record the symptoms leading up to your period before, during, and after. Record your weight, your appetite, and your moods. All of these symptoms will help you better understand what to anticipate at what times during the month. 

Look for Patterns

The second step is to look for PATTERNS. Some girls experience no weight changes, mood changes, etc. Knowing your typical symptoms will help you understand what will be present during which parts of your cycle. If you are looking to track your weight during your cycle specifically, the BEST way to accurately track this would be while you are not wrestling or doing other sports, most likely during the summer. Begin by recording your weight at different times of the month and see if a pattern emerges. Specially record half way through your cycle, the days leading up to your period, and then each day during your period. Make sure at this time you are eating fairly normal for yourself. This is important to giving yourself a fair and accurate understanding of your body. 

If you notice that you are gaining weight around your period and are looking for ways to help manage that symptom, check out the article I did on rehydration after weigh-ins here. Knowing the foods that help you hold on to water to rehydrate, will be a smart way to also know how you can apply the theory in reverse. Salt is a fantastic way to help the body hold on to water, especially after depleting workouts and competitions. Knowing that by eliminating the salt, you can help reduce the amount of water you body holds on to. 

Remember, a typical symptom leading up to and while you are on your period is also food cravings. Its important to know the different between water retention and realizing after the fact that it was our own choices. 


By understanding and knowing when your period will start and what comes along with it when your period shows up around competition times, you will be prepared instead of surprised. The best tools we can have for combating difficult situations is always to educate ourselves on our options! 

If you would like to see a blog on the types of products you can use and can help you while you are practicing or competing on your period, let me know in the comments below! 




2 Week Post Surgery Update: Stay Humble


Its been exactly two weeks since my surgery and things are going A-Okay. I think its a good time to talk about how easy it can be to get discouraged during the first weeks post-surgery. For the most part, you can't do much.

Whether you had lower body surgery or upper body surgery (and I've had both), you can start feeling really discouraged about what you can and can't do. But what you come to realize is how easy it is to adjust to a new way of life. You learn how you operate and do the normal tasks at home.

But the big one, how do you know what you can and can't do when you work out? 

For the most part, you will be on a strict plan by your surgeon and/or physical therapist. This is not to be taken lightly, at any time during rehab.

Just... NO. Do not mess with plan that is set out for you and start doing things because you think you're too tough for your body to heal. OMG STOP. The biggest mistake I have seen athletes make over and over is when they try to come back faster than is originally suggested. And it never turns out pretty.

Just the other night, I had a stranger give me advice that they wish they didn't push it and go back to sport or normal life too soon because they ended up having the surgery re-done once they re-injured it. THAT would be my worst nightmare. As an athlete on my third surgery, I have never had complications once I came back to sport – which unfortunatley is not always the norm.

Its okay to be humbled by a big injury and by major surgery. It is what now requires all your focus and dedication. When it comes to working out post surgery, you need to have realistic expectations. Your job now is to creatively find the ways to maximize what you can do, without emphasizing or criticizing yourself for what you can't do. 

It is often the athlete's sentiment to want to prove that they are stronger and tougher than their injuries. I say no, let it humble you. Realize that you are in this situation now, and you have to do the right things, not the things you think are tough. The things you can do, do them with enthusiasm and with a focus of excitement! 

Tell me about your injuries, current or past! 


Insight into the Art of Preparation

Packing Your Bag for Competition Day

I love working on becoming more and more efficient with what I pack on competition day. Seriously guys, it thrills me! Clearly I'm a nerd, and everything pertaining to wrestling and competing is my jam! Competition day (and traveling to competition) are times where you want to pare down to your necessities and emergency extras. You don't want to have your competition bag filled with extra things you don't need, making it hard to find the things you do need!  

Preparation doesn't end when you leave the practice room. You must learn to be disciplined in more than one area, and that includes how you prep yourself for important events. How many times have you gotten to competition and are missing critical items? Being habitually messy in your personal life can effect how you handle different situations. This may seem like unimportant nuances, but getting to the next level is about paying attention to those nuances. The skill of preparation will spill over into the other areas of your life!  


Step 1- Clean your bag out! Completely!

Most likely, this is the same bag you are taking to and from practices each day. Therefore it's probably a mess as it naturally will become over time. You don't need those left over food rappers and homework assignments cluttering your bag. It really makes it difficult to find the things you need on competition day. Do the right thing, clean it out :)  


Step 2- replace if needed

if you're in the market for a new bag because your current one is falling apart, check out this past blog on great athletic bags.

Make sure if you are on the hunt, you find a bag or backpack that fits all your needs. I am not an advocate for buying something just to buy something. 

Step 3- Set out morning clothes

Choose what you will wear in the morning for your warm up and have it set out ready to go. I will even stack all my clothes in order of what I will put on first in the morning. Seriously, take the guess work out for yourself. Knowing what I will put on as soon as I wake up helps relieve the stress of getting ready in the morning. I don't want to accidentally pack the clothes I need and have to dig in the morning trying to find it! So first thing first, set out your morning clothes. 

I make sure to wear what I'm comfortable warming up in, and then I change into my singlet. Of anything, I 100% recommend changing your shirt after your warm-up. Having a fresh shirt really re-sets your mentality to help you change from warm-up mode to competition mode. If you have a favorite shirt you feel awesome in, throw it on after you've left some sweat on the mat!

Step 4- The must haves for competing

My rule always is this; as long as I have what I need to compete and step out on the mat, everything else I forget really wont matter. Singlet, shoes, head gear, knee pads, and mouthguard. I don't compete with headgear, but whether its required or not, I always bring it. If you have other must haves on your list in order to compete, then make sure those get packed in this step!

Step 5- Rehydration, Snacks, Warm-Up Gear

Two water bottles; one for water and one for my rehydration packets. This is a fairly small sampling for food I bring, but bars and a fruit are always necessity for me. If you want the full list of snacks to bring to competition, check out THAT BLOG HERE. I also focus a lot on rehydration, so sometimes thats where a lot of my calories and sugar energy can come from. Hair ties. DUH. I am obsessed with my Trigger Point travel roller and it is always part of my warm-up. I also bring a jump rope in case I need it for in between matches. If you listen to music in your down time, throw in your head phones here. Add anything else you need to refocus and prepare as you compete throughout the day. 


 Step 6- The Extras

Extra socks and underwear. Feminine hygiene products. Extra hair ties (you always break one, or you will always have a teammate who forgot theirs, be that girl with extras). Finger tape, extra knee pad from the one you're wearing for competition. Finger nail clippers (if you bring them, guard them with your life. Someone WILL walk away with them after borrowing). These items won't make or break you, and you'll probably have a few more to add to your list, but you'll see that over time having a few things here and there can help in those emergency situations. 



How to Layer Sports Wear in the Winter

Its the middle of winter, and some of you already live in a snowy-area, and there are some of you that don't. Either way, if you're going to be traveling as an athlete during winter, or you want to take advantage of wearing your comfortable athletic layers, then having the right winter clothing as an athlete will be critical. These are the winter essentials an athlete never leaves the house without:

Having layers for cold weather helps you stay comfortable and prepared for all different types of weather. You give yourself the opportunity to add or subtract as the weather gets warmer or cooler. 


Base Layer

First, the base layer is the layer that is closest to your skin. This layer is about managing moisture so you're most comfortable throughout the day. If you choose a base layer that is made with synthetic or moisture wicking material, it will not hold moisture like cotton will. I have certainly made the mistake of thinking a thicker cotton tee or long sleeve would keep me warm. If I am perspiring at all, a cotton tee and sports bra will hold all the moisture in and keep me cold. Above, I am wearing a long sleeve by Lululemon that is called the Yogini 5 year Long Sleeve (find here) made of a lycra blend fabric made for moisture-wicking. I even choose to go with a non-cotton sports bra by Athleta with the same properties. This long-sleeve tee is great for warmth and easily transforms for any venue, not just sports! 

I also throw on my favorite buff that you can wear as a neck warmer, over your face, as a head band, and even more! They are AMAZING! 



Insulating Layer

Your second layer should be your insulating layer. A sweater made of great materials for keeping in the warmth. Wool and down or a synthetic down are great for keeping you warm. The one I am wearing is by Avalanche and is made of poly. It may not be the best for keeping me warm, but I do love the length and how this sweater buttons high and slouchy up on the neck, or I can unbutton and lay it flat to ventilate if i get too hot. I will definitely be in the market for a sweater layer that keeps in the warmth better than this one day. But for now, this one is great. I really take my time looking for good pieces that will last. 


Outside SHELL 

Your last layer will be for weather protection. It should zip in all that warm goodness you put on before, and then protect you from wind, rain, and snow. Hoods are a must-have, and I am a big fan of a hip length jacket. This one is also by Lululemon called the Fleecy Keen Jacket (find similar here). It zips high up the neck so the hood fits tightly down on your head for fierce winds. It also has thumb holes and additional fabric that covers your fingers like mittens! 


Pants shoes accessories

Finding a light weight legging that can fit under form fitting pants is so huge! With technology today, there are so many options with warm leggings that dont take up the space of older thick "long johns" of the past. I am wearing Uniqlo's Heattech leggings in dark gray (find them here) underneath my waterproof pants layer by Columbia that cinches at the bottom to prevent any water or snow from getting your feet wet! Wool socks are a must have in my book, as well as ankle high boots. These ones are by Nike and were made for the Winter Olympic Team athletes. Hat and gloves are your own discretion :)


The most important thing to remember is that this is not about enticing you to get out and by a whole new winter wardrobe. Most likely, you already have a few pieces like this in your closet. I have used many of my dry-fit clothing for workout as my base layer, and the sports bras are the same ones I use at wrestling practice that wick sweat away. Start your search for one or two pieces that you can really invest in that will last you years. Try to not make the mistake of buying something in fast fashion because its cheaper and you can get it immediate. Save your money and take time seeking out great brands that that look classic, wear well, wash well, and you can wear for years!