Athletes balancing between sport and spirit

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The holiday season is finally here.

While the festive period is a time for relaxation from school and sports, healthy habits may slowly start to fade away.

Particularly for athletes, balance is an essential part of keeping focused during a break away from the sports they play.

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“It is important not to stray from healthy eating habits and a consistent diet, but it’s also really important to remember that the holidays are supposed to be enjoyable. You should not be holding yourself back from celebrating simply because you are an athlete,” said Dannika Bauman, member of  Laurier Brantford’s Cheerleading team.

Everyone deserves a break for a period to avoid burnout. The balance to enjoy oneself fully, while also sticking to a consistent diet, is not an easy thing to do. 

Around the festive period, people are advised to celebrate the time they have away from sports and school, savoring the moments they have during the holidays before refocusing for another term.

“Over the holiday I do tend to relax more and eat what I want but it is important to mentally always be ready to work and know that once the holidays are over that it is back to 150 per cent,” said Lucas Thompson, extramural athlete for Laurier Brantford hockey team.

The discipline of knowing when to take a step back from training and then come back after a break fully prepared is a difficult thing to do.

Once relaxation settles in, bad habits may start to form and cause athletes to develop poor management skills.Having the mental toughness to discipline not only the mind but the body will help ensure everyone can continue to work hard once training starts up again.

Training is encouraged during the break, but in smaller sections when compared to an in season routine.Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many sports have been cancelled this year, and athletes are still adjusting to the extra time off. 

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“For me, it is my last season with competitive sports so losing this year was a big blow. But I have maintained my focus as an athlete, understanding everything takes hard work and dedication, so keeping my mind sharp and knowing there is always a larger goal in mind, is what keeps me motivated,” said Thompson.

While sports have been cancelled, other skills have been able to grow and mature through this time.

Hard work, dedication, and focus are some of the way’s players have stayed driven and motivated throughout the school year.

“As cheer was cancelled this season, it is easier to take a break with fewer activities, such as going out for a walk or an easy at-home workout. However in season, our coach always provided at-home workouts and we often had a couple of practices over the break so we did not get too stiff,” said Bauman.

Now with the holidays and extended break, there are more reasons to not practice and avoid training. However, athletes and coaches are still finding ways to get better and stay active with more downtime available.

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Home workouts and walks are suggested ways in keeping fit during the holiday period to keep the mind and body healthy.

“With an extended offseason, it has been increasingly hard to stay motivated, especially when cheer is such a team dynamic, and a lot you cannot do on your own. I find I stay motivated by keeping myself active, even if it is just simple things such as getting out for a walk every day,” said Bauman.

According to Health Canada, “regular physical activity, such as a walk once a day, is essential for human growth and development.”

Physical activity can also help with completing daily tasks, allowing work to be done with less strain on the body and can help you with feeling better about yourself.

The benefits of physical activity allow all areas of the body to be used which is ideal when wanting to stay active during and before the holidays.

“Everything is great in moderation, so just keeping mind of a balance between treats and healthy snacks is great for anyone,” said Bauman.

Nutrition can directly impact how athletes perform during training.

While holiday meals do have an emphasis on treats, healthy options mixed into having treats are available to keep an athlete’s body lively and strong. 

The holidays are a time for rest, enjoyment, eating and joyful memories.

Staying healthy after the holidays comes with balanced training with breaks, hard work, and the necessary rest to avoid burnout.

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