If you have taken a peek around my site, you know I am a former Division I athlete. You know I coached collegiately, you know I have my Masters in Sports Nutrition, you know I am a certified Holistic and Integrative Nutritionist, you know I have my performance enhancement certification and personal training cert as well. One might say I’ve done some things in the few years since I graduated… *patting myself on the back*
What you may not know is that while getting my M.S. I was suffering physically from numerous health issues (both the gut and thyroid kind). I began the path to healing by researching holistic and natural remedies, listening to health and wellness podcasts, reading books on these subjects and, essentially, absorbing as much information as I could. I was STUNNED at how things I had once viewed as healthy were at the root of my host of health issues. Keep in mind, here, that during this time of learning and healing on my own – I was also in school for Sports Nutrition…
I began to find myself constantly rolling my eyes in class, disagreeing with my professors, and the literature alike, biting my tongue during lectures and doing my best to just focus on the science. But sometimes I couldn’t help myself. For example – seeing people in the field handing athletes protein shakes (brand name I will not mention) after practices and games that included 26 grams of added sugar and loads of ingredients I can’t even pronounce (Carrageenan, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Maltodextrin, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, to name a few). Many of these ingredients are KNOWN to cause inflammation not only in the gut but all over the body…and don’t even get me started on the added sugar – none of which is natural.
I am all fired up even writing this…it was just wild for me to see Sports Nutritionists recommending supplements and diets that could cause health issues for the sake of “20 grams protein per serving!”
So, I took all this passion for my health and the health of others, and after getting my M.S., I went back to school for Integrative and Holistic Nutrition. I was on a mission to educate people on just how important it is to be aware of what is going into your body.
I have to admit, for a long time I thought these things (sports nutrition and holistic wellness) needed to remain separate. I would think to myself “what a shame athletes aren’t told this stuff”, “if I knew then what I know now, I would have been 10x the athlete”.
Within the past year working as a Holistic Wellness Coach, I found myself talking to college and high school athletes and coaches who I have been close to throughout my years playing and coaching. I was telling them about the benefits of herbal supplements, the positive effects of mindfulness for performance, how crucial sleep is, how prevalent mental and emotional disorders are among college athletes…and it finally clicked: these two domains, sports nutrition, and holistic wellness, don’t have to be separate…
Cue the creation of Sport Wellness. I say creation because after weeks of searching for other people combining the principles of sports nutrition with holistic wellness and coming up with nothing – it is safe to say I am beginning to create the practice of Sport Wellness.
As I mentioned earlier I very clearly do not agree with the current protocols and practices of sports nutrition. There are far better ways that athletes can fuel themselves for performance that don’t include eating 4 servings of pasta for dinner, and Skippy and Smucker’s peanut butter and jelly before bed. The fundamentals of sports nutrition are what I vibe with and what I preach to not only athletes but any active clients of mine. You need adequate protein (duh) and yes you need carbs for fuel, but healthy fats are also a major key to properly fueling your body for performance.
What holistic wellness brings into the conversation is deeper than protein, carbs, and fats. It talks about the not as glamorous sources of each that are better options than your typical chicken, pasta and oil. Most importantly, it covers the potential health disrupters that lie in food most athletes are told to eat. Holistic wellness also ties in other crucial topics needed for performance that sports nutrition just doesn’t cover. Sleep. Strong support systems. Relationships – romantic, with yourself, your team, your coaches and your peers. And most importantly, holistic wellness shines the light on mental health.
Together, sports nutrition and holistic wellness provide athletes with the full picture of what it means to make their health a priority while significantly improving their performance.
Sport Wellness is a beautiful and necessary combination of sports nutrition and holistic wellness. And I am proud to say – I am trying to give as many athletes the tools that I did not have. I am trying to open the door to personal growth while managing the expectations of being an elite athlete. I am trying to instill practices that will not only benefit one’s life as a student-athlete but their entire life post-grad.
When working with teams I speak on my own experience as an athlete and the struggles I endured both mentally and physically (serious, I know, but I bring lots of humor along with the sob story). I go through the 5 pillars of Sport Wellness: Nutrition, Sleep, Passion & Purpose, Sleep, and Emotional Health. I provide research, data, real-life examples and I remain open to the needs of individual teams.
I am STOKED to have found a career that combines my passion for sport, for coaching and for wellness. This is Sport Wellness. #realwithemma