Athlete and Sports Dietitian Practices and Lives What She Preaches

Athlete and Sports Dietitian Practices and Lives What She Preaches

Sandy, Utah native Heidi Strickler was planning to major in Physical Therapy when she went to Seattle Pacific University on a soccer scholarship, but she took her first nutrition class her freshman year and found her calling.

“I kind of knew from the get-go that sports nutrition was my No. 1 focus,” says Strickler, who graduated in 2012 with a double major in Dietetics and Nutrition In Sports & Exercise and a minor in Exercise Science. “Being a competitive athlete, I got to see firsthand how what I ate affected how I felt when I was playing.”  “It was a great leaning process – I honed a lot of irreplaceable skills, but I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be ultimately,” she says. “One of the things that intrigued me most is the versatility of being a dietitian.

seattle-logoYou can work anywhere. Our society is really starting to value the idea of preventative health. There are so many venues you can plug yourself into,” including professional, college, or high school sports teams; teaching; corporate wellness; food service; culinary work; or hospitals, among other things. “I love education, and I love being an educator.”  The move also expanded her interest in the culinary side of nutrition.

The Culinary Side of Nutrition

“It fostered a love in me for cooking, I’m a total foodie” she says. “Growing up, I didn’t do a lot of it. That has been something I’ve really enjoyed as a side piece – delving into the food chemistry, the culinary side of things, and being able to hone in more of that with my nutrition counseling. I love teaching clients how to turn whole, raw foods into something delicious on their kitchen table … connecting the dots from seed to plate”

Strickler also became a serious Cross Country/Track & Field runner her Junior year at SPU after transitioning from soccer. She “ran away” with this newfound passion for the duration of her college career, and carried it into her post-college years, competing as a high-level trail runner in Utah and Washington. After graduation, she completed the year-long Dietetic Internship at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill., then spent 3 months at home in Salt Lake City playing in the mountains before returning to Seattle for potential work. Her first job was in an eating disorder and mental health recovery clinic.

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Strickler went to work for Experience Momentum Inc. in January 2015, about the same time she started a two-year online program through the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to earn a sports nutrition diploma. At Experience Momentum, she teaches fitness classes and works with individual clients, from 17-year-old high school athletes to 71-year-old triathletes, including professionals, Olympic competitors, recreational runners, and those who want to lose weight, manage diabetes, and overcome eating disorders or cancer. She also holds monthly seminars and leads grocery store tours for clients and others on a weekly basis.

Active & Healthy Living

“At Experience Momentum, I’m constantly submerged in an environment conducive to active, healthy living; I am surrounded by co-workers who are stoked on life, training hard, being passionate about their clients’ health and their own,” says Strickler, who takes advantage of the classes and facilities before and after work and at lunchtime.

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Her career at Experience Momentum has also led her to compete in triathalons, “Being an endurance junkie, it was bound to happen. I am training with 3 coworkers now for Victoria 70.3.”

Last year, Strickler was directing Experience Momentum’s sponsored multisport team when she asked coworkers to recommend products that would benefit the group. One co-worker introduced her to The Right Stuff, which he had used with athletes in the past and uses personally to head off illness at the first sign of trouble.right-stuff

“I absolutely love it,” she says. “I use it mostly for recovery after a long run or ride, to optimize that rehydration afterwards. If you drink just water after a long event, your body is not going to absorb what it needs and you’re going to end up peeing out most of the fluid. The Right Stuff really helps with my hydration and maintains that electrolyte balance.” Picking up her coworker’s habit, any time she starts feeling sick, she drinks a glass of The Right Stuff with extra vitamin C powder. “It kicks it in the butt,” she says.

I absolutely love it (The Right Stuff), especially for recovery

Strickler has also shared the product with clients, including an IronMan triathlete who suffered high sweat losses and severe cramping while training for Kona (World Championship) last summer until he tried The Right Stuff.

“I’ve seen it work for my clients as well as enjoying it myself,” she says. “As an athlete and a Dietitian, I get to practice and live what I preach, and see it unfold in my life and in others’ lives. It’s pretty cool.”

A Different Perspective for Athletes to Consider: Don’t Ice for Recovery

A Different Perspective for Athletes to Consider: Don’t Ice for Recovery

gary-reinlDistance runner Gary Reinl’s meticulous reporting destroyed the long-held practice of rest and ice for healing injuries, restoring the natural course of healing by the inflammatory response assisted by muscle activation – the intuitive “walk it off” order of coaches in his childhood. His insistence on scientific evidence also makes him a user and advocate of The Right Stuff hydration formula developed by NASA.

Reinl, 63, who started running in the 1960s on water and sometimes salt tablets, remembers a nearly 70-mile run from Philadelphia to Ocean City, N.J., in the summer of 1971 wearing Converse sneakers and sipping water from front-yard hoses on the route.

“Everything we did was wrong,” he says. “I’ve done it wrong, and I’ve done it right, and I’m certain that doing it right is way better.”

icedWhen it comes to treating injuries, doing it right is the opposite of conventional wisdom that held sway for decades under the popular acronym RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Reinl’s relentless research found support for the approach, and Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined the term in 1978, recanted in the foreword to Reinl’s 2014 book Iced! The Illusionary Treatment Option.

Shifting the Conversation

“We have begun to shift the conversation. We’re shifting it to muscle activation to solve the problem,” says Reinl, who represents an electro-muscle stimulation device, MARC PRO® (Muscle Activated Recovery Cascade), that promotes muscle activation. “Why would you put ice on damaged tissue? People believe it reduces swelling. It doesn’t reduce swelling. It actually increases swelling. Your immune system knows how to handle it. That’s why it sends fluid to the damaged area. Why would you try to reduce the amount of fluid sent to the damaged site?”

Ice slows the natural repair process by shutting off signals between muscles and nerves. Inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process as the body rushes blood and nutrients to the area, and muscle activation helps flush out the extra fluids through the lymphatic system. “The last thing you’d want to do is restrict swelling coming to the area,” Reinl says. “You do want the fluid to come. What you don’t want it to do is accumulate and settle.”

In fact, the delay caused by icing can suffocate healthy cells that would not have died as a result of the injury, a secondary cellular death that Reinl calls “negligent homicide.”

Reinl traced the origins of the “Ice Age” to 1962, when a physician successfully reattached the arm, preserved on ice, of a 12-year-old who was injured while jumping a train in Massachusetts. The story became a sensation, and people mistakenly associated ice with healing. “The intent of putting the severed body arm on ice was to preserve the severed body part,” he explains. “It had nothing to do with damaged tissue; it had to do with managing a severed body part.”

The RICE Approach

riceAfter Mirkin published his RICE approach in 1978, soccer moms everywhere kept nifty snap-and-chill ice packs in their pocketbooks. Athletic trainers, who became common on sports teams in the 1980s, could not perform medical procedures but could legally apply ice. Even after Medicare, recognizing the lack of evidence, stopped reimbursing for ice treatments in physical therapy clinics, the practice thrived in sports.

Reinl has worked with athletic trainers and physical therapists from more than 80 professional teams and other elite athletes who have stopped or reduced their use of ice, although some star athletes still insist on the old approach.

These days, Reinl, whose lifetime running total is above 50,000 miles, lives in the Las Vegas desert and routinely runs 10 miles through a canyon where temperatures can exceed 113 degrees. He preps with a pre-run dose of The Right Stuff and takes another packet for each hour on the road when he returns, ensuring that his body chemistry remains optimal for tissue regeneration and recovery.

“You know how good you feel from it,” he says, adding that his son, a lawyer, rejects all otherright-stuff supplements but adopts The Right Stuff regimen. “I can go out and run 20 in the desert and I’m perfectly fine. I carry a couple of gallons of water with me. I stay fully hydrated on my runs.”

He recommends The Right Stuff to runners, endurance athletes, military personnel, and even golfers who spend long hours in the hot sun. You can check out the science behind The Right Stuff.        [Editors Note: links to NASA studies can be found on the brand’s website at http://tiny.cc/TheRightStuffStudies]

“Any elites I talk to, I say just look around and look at how people are trying to solve the problem,” Reinl says. “Look at the science behind The Right Stuff.  It improves muscle function. It improves your physiology. It improves muscle activation. It feels good. Every edge counts.”

 

From Attempted Suicide to Ironman is a Tough, But Rewarding Road

Shane Niemeyer Shane Niemeyerwas running to catch up when he became an Iron Man competitor. Niemeyer had spent much of his youth drinking, overdosing on drugs, getting arrested, spending time in prison, and barely graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi when he was homeless after getting kicked out of a long-term treatment center.

His story, told in the recently-published The Hurt Artist: My Journey from Suicidal Junkie to Iron Man, turned when he tried to hang Shane Niemeyer Book Coverhimself after a few days in prison – when the withdrawal symptoms were bearing down – and the extension cord snapped.

Achieving Your Goal

“I had never been able to quit or tone it down,” he says. “I didn’t want to live. I needed something to latch on to.” He read about Ironman in an Outside magazine in his cell and made a championship at Kona his goal. “It was the seeds that would grow into an ideal, a vision for myself,” Niemeyer says. “It helped me pull my life together as a person, not only as an athlete. It helped me start healing myself.”

In the decade since, Niemeyer, 38, made progress despite injuries and his body’s reluctance – “you start trying to compete at a very high level with people who were competing when you were getting drunk and doing drugs,” he says – and qualified four years in a row for Kona. He has won races as an amateur and found himself in the top 10 among hundreds of competitors in some contests.

Cramping Solution

One surprise as he began to compete was the debilitating effect of cramping – sometimes engulfing his body, including neck and face.

I was completely unaware that cramping could be so severe,” Niemeyer says. “The longer the event is, the more important nutrition and hydration and food levels become.

Not paying attention to details you don’t know about, coming into these things late in life, it became more and more clear that I needed something.” I don’t have to worry about taking pills. The Right Stuff is a liquid concentrate that goes easily into your water bottle. The Right Stuff was the solution. “I don’t have to worry about taking pills,” he says. “It’s concentrated and it takes you a lot further. You don’t need to focus on it. I need about 1800 milligrams of sodium an hour, so two bottles, two-and-a-half bottles will get me through the bike portion of an Ironman. That’s what works for me.”

Shane Niemeyer and wife Mandy McLaneNiemeyer, who married professional triathlete Mandy McLane two years ago and lives in Boulder, Colo., coaches other triathletes while he keeps pursuing his vision of a championship.

“You’re going to get out of a thing whatever you put into it,” he says. “The goal from here forward is to try to win a world championship as an amateur, a couple of Ironman championships.”

How Did This Olympic-Medal Winning Sprinter Get His Plans Back On Track For Gold in Rio?

Walter DixWalter Dix started running track when he was 6 or 7 years old, guided by his father, Washington, a middle school track coach and former sprinter. The Fort Lauderdale native set a Florida record in the 100-meter dash when he was in high school and won a scholarship to Florida State University, where he set a junior record in the 100-meter and won numerous NCAA championships as well as gold and silver at the Olympic Trials in 2008 – earning him one of the highest-value endorsement contracts with Nike in track and field. Dix won bronze medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash at the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in 2008.

Dix graduated from Florida State in 2008, with a social science degree concentrating in anthropology, and turned professional.

Dix won bronze medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash at the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in 2008.

He missed the 2009 World Championships because of a hamstring injury at the U.S. championships, but in 2010, he won the 100-meter and was runner-up in the 200-meter sprints at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The next year, he won silver medals in both races at the World Championships, but another injury at the 2012 Olympic trials kept him out of the London games.

Back on Track

After a year of recovery, Dix is back on track and aiming for the 2016 Olympics, with meets in the US, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico and others. He hopes to qualify for the Continental Cup.

The Right Stuff, which he started using in 2010, will help.  “I was looking for something to help me stay hydrated, healthy, able to compete, keep my electrolyte levels up and keep me from dehydrating,” he says. “I was introduced to The Right Stuff by my friends and my brother. I started using it 30 minutes before my races. I felt a dramatic improvement in my hydration. Ever since then, I’ve been using it to keep hydrated.”

The focus on nutrition came when he turned pro, Dix says, especially after the 2009 injury.

“In college, you have class and study hall, most of us are just out there competing,” he says. “In 2008, I was a kid. When I became a professional, that’s when I really started to focus on diet and nutrition.

When I became a professional, that’s when I really started to focus on diet and nutrition.

I talked to doctors about nutrition, keeping healthy, keeping my body and legs hydrated. Dehydration is the problem.

Dix figures The Right Stuff® electrolyte drink additive will give him a boost for the comeback.

“This is the year when I really got a chance to use it,” he says. “I began using it and started to see a dramatic improvement. I’m not getting as tired or dehydrated. On my first meet, I felt the same impact of not being so tired after running and not getting “dry muscles”. I can feel my muscles loosen up and not be as tight as they used to be.

The Right Stuff is a prelude to every meet and often part of the training regimen that Dix has intensified this year. “In the past, when I have gotten hurt, I wasn’t able to work as hard in training,” he says. “I am now maximizing my fitness so I can compete and be more aerobically fit. I train two hours a day, five days a week.”

Dix, who is training at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, hopes to enter a graduate program in health administration and work as a college track coach or sports administrator eventually – after achieving his personal goals in the field. “I’m trying to win a gold medal at the Continental Cup and hopefully win the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2016,” he says.