An Interview with Olympic Javelin Thrower Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir
|Goal||Become the best athlete I can be and feel good doing it|
|Weight lost/gained to date||4 kg (not the main goal though)|
|Sport (if applicable)||Javelin throw|
Q: Why did you decide to join Team WAG?
A: I had been struggling with my energy levels for a long time and no matter what I tried I did not seem to be able to get it under control. I struggled with recovering from my training and when I ate more to have more energy I would just start gaining weight. I had tried all kinds of macro cycling that had worked well for others but nothing seemed to do the trick for me. The real wakeup call came when I had my regular DEXA scan and noticed that it calculated my basic metabolic rate from my body composition. For those who don't know that is the energy you need to maintain your body lying in bed all day and just breathing, no movement. I realized that I was only eating 300 kcal over that while doing an active job and training for the Olympics. The task of figuring out how to best fuel my body was clearly something I needed help with. I had the Olympics coming up so I needed this fixed. I got in contact with WAG through my friend Katrin Davíðsdóttir, who has had great results and spoke very highly of the program.
Q: Was there anything about the program that surprised you?
A: I had a lot of surprises! The first surprise was how much I was supposed to eat with way more carbs and less fat than I had been having before. I was a bit afraid I would start gaining weight as that had happened before but I decided to give my coach my full trust since everything I had tried before had not worked. I started feeling great after just a few days! I had more energy, recovered a lot better from training and the people around me noticed my mood was even better since I was finally getting the nutrition I needed. Another surprise was that not only did I not gain weight as I feared but I actually started leaning out. You can say the last surprises for me were how quickly measuring everything got to be a habit and last but not least how my sugar cravings just completely vanished as soon as I was feeding myself properly. I used to be the biggest chocoholic and I had to have my dark chocolate every week. Now I sometimes randomly realize that I haven't had a single piece of chocolate for weeks.
Q: As an athlete, your training schedule is intense and varied. How have you managed to stay on track while balancing all of your commitments?
A: The easy part is when I am at home. Then I can control everything I eat and measure everything quite easily. It also helps that I am a creature of habit and I have now found breakfast and lunch that I really enjoy and can have every day with minor modifications. In the evenings the macro Tetris starts and at home it is easy to make sure I fill my macros right.
When I am away from home on training camps and competitions it gets a bit trickier. When I am eating at hotel buffets or in airports I can’t always measure everything precisely but in these situations it is important to not let the perfect get in the way of the good. What I mean by that is it is better to estimate the best you can instead of just eating whatever. I also come prepared and pack food for the travel and take with me some protein options, such as tuna and jerky, as pure protein can be hard to come by. Then it is just all about making the best choices at the buffet. I would say preparation is key here.
Q: How has your performance in the gym been affected by tracking, if at all?
A: I started with WAG in the middle of my season and my training is very light in this time. I can feel that I have maintained my power and speed well but since I haven't been training for gains I can't really tell yet. I will start my building phase in October and am extremely excited to see what my improved nutrition will do for my performance next winter.
Q: What has been the biggest change you've made in your lifestyle and/or approach to food since joining?
A: I have to spend a bit more time prepping my food and measuring myself every day. Sometimes I am the weird person that pulls out a food scale around other people (when I don't estimate) and get some questions or strange looks. The greatest change though is that I feel like I just got a few extra hours in the day! I feel so much better and am more productive and happier every day. I don't have to spend a few hours on the couch in a semi coma after a hard workout to recover. This is my biggest change.
Q: What advice do you have for other people considering hiring a nutrition coach?
A: Go for it! If you have been struggling like I was and feel like no matter what you do your body just works against you all the time it is going to change your life. I know the feeling of helplessness when you are about to accept that you just can't feel good and constantly have to swim against the stream. It is a very bad place to be in. I thought my body was just about to say stop to the intense training I have been throwing its way for years now and maybe it was time to call it quits soon. Now I feel absolutely brand new and I can't wait to start my conditioning again. You can't really put a price tag on that feeling and your mental health is worth it.
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