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.
You 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.
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.
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.
“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.”