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The Secret Weapons of Endurance Athletes

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By Dr. Angelina Stevens

As humans, we are wired for adaptation and change. As athletes, we are wired with a desire for elevating our performance. Our own local, Shalane Flanagan told reporters that after her second place finish in the New York city Marathon, that she only slept for 90 minutes. Despite feeling like a true champion and accomplishing a huge goal, Shalane spent that night replaying the race over and over again in her mind.  It is not necessarily a search for perfection, but a movement towards expanding and transforming ourselves. We are inundated with new athletic technology from compression body wear to holographic bracelets all promising to give us that extra edge. Through my years of racing and treating top athletes I have complied some of our joint secrets that are cutting edge and inexpensive in hopes that it helps you find your next gear.

Secret Nutrition

In my line of work, nutrition comprises about 80% of the effort. If people are eating well and taking the right supplements, helping them regain health is pretty simple. I recommend incorporating the following into a balanced diet:

16-ounce Green Drink First Thing in the Morning

Use a high quality organic powdered greens or juice fresh kale, spinach and wheatgrass. This neutralizes body acidity before morning caffeine, hydrates the body and activates brain function.

Protein Fruit Smoothie a Day

This is perfect for before or after a workout or as a meal replacement. Pea Protein is the new athlete’s choice. It tastes as good as whey but without the stomach discomfort. It is also extremely high in l-arginine and l-glutamine which is important for building lean muscle and recovery.

10 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Per Day

Nothing new here, but a huge salad a day keeps cancer and illness away!

Himalayan Pink Salt

Regular old table salt and sea salt are things of the past. Regular salt is low in minerals and sea salts may contain ocean toxins, so opt for salt mined deep in the Himalayas. It has 84 different minerals and can be used with juice and water to create your own electrolyte replacement. Food and salt cravings are often disguised as a mineral deficiency. Full spectrum salts ironically can have a positive effect on heart conditions and blood pressure.

Chia Seeds

This once decorative pet is now being ingested by runners and endurance athletes to help keeping the body hydrated longer.  The gel created from soaking these seeds is a powerful source of omega 3’s. Add them into smoothies or cereals for quick delivery in the morning.

Secret Recovery Weapons

The Magical Foam Roller

By far, the foam roller is my favorite at home piece of rehab equipment. Be prepared to feel as if you got beat up after the first experience, but the upside is relaxed muscles, flowing fascia, better alignment, and stronger core muscles. Consult your doctor or gym trainer for clearance and instruction on how to use.

Energy Medicine Everyday

I start every morning with a 5-minute energy routine that involves acupressure massage, deep breathing, and stretches to activate the body’s natural energy meridian system, flush out toxins that accumulate during sleep, and quickly energize the body and focus the mind. This same routine is used by top athletes to coordinate both hemispheres of the brain and prepare for competition. Energy medicine is gaining momentum across the United States with the growing use of energy work, acupuncture, and laser therapies to heal and energize the body.

Sleep Like a Baby

So this may be old news, but the cutting edge part comes in assisting those that do not get their solid 8-9 hours per night. Physical repair of the body mostly occurs between 10pm – 2am and the mental and emotional recovery occurs between 2-6am. With the help of neurotransmitter testing, we are now able to uncover underlying causes of depression, sleep disturbances, hormone problems, anxiety and headaches. Supplementation with specific amino acids and precursors like Gaba can significantly improve insomnia and anxiety especially in those not responsive to other treatments.

The Secrets Of The Mind

As stress levels increase and our world becomes further outwardly complex, there is a growing desire to experience peace and fulfillment within.  This thirst for happiness and contentment is apparent in the huge increase in yoga and meditation classes, transformational workshops, art and music appreciation, travel and books. With the adjunct of quantum physics, we are able to quantify now how the brain adapts and instantly grows with each new experience (neuroplasticity) and how it shuts down and becomes less active as a person become ingrained in routine activity and unchallenging mental and emotional processes (neurorigidity). Being open minded to the people, experiences and thoughts you can attract and open up new ways of thinking and thus creating a fuller life experience.

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world… as in being able to remake ourselves.” – Ghandi

Everyday, I am blown away by the regenerative capability of the human body,  but am more touched by our ability to inspire, motivate, and create together. I look forward to revealing more insightful secrets in hopes that they help you achieve a new level during your next event and life.

Yours in Health, Dr. Angelina Stevens

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Dr. Angelina V. Stevens, D.C., owns holistic chiropractic and acupuncture centers in Durham and Chapel Hill.  She is passionate about healing the body naturally without the use of drugs or surgery and by finding the true causes of pain and illness.  As a triathlete, Dr. Angelina has completed in world-class events and has represented the U.S. as a triathlete on Team USA 2001.  She currently competes as an elite cyclo-cross racer and can be reached at www.stevenswellness.com or e-mail at drangelina@stevenswellness.com