Summery Synthesis

The name of the program that I have created as Interdisciplinary Studies student is  Psychology of Exercise. It focuses on changing behaviors towards the betterment of health of an individual as a whole. I believe that mind and body are interconnected in many ways, and in order achieve the homeostasis we must balance both physical and psychological health in order to achieve optimal performance. I want to use my knowledge to improve the health and physical conditions of athletes, as well as whoever is aiming to start exercising to improve their health. The knowledge I have gained from my program has helped me understand and overcome my personal issues which I dealt with in my training as an professional figure skater. 

This is why for my applied project I decided to design an educational clinic for figure skaters, coaches and their parents. I was fortunate to be hosting this clinic at the Plymouth State Ice Arena which was absolutely the perfect place to bring my workshop to life.  

In this workshop I covered: 

  • Presentation on General Principles of Training  
  • Dynamic Warm-up:   based on specificity of figure skating 
  • Energy System Development on Ice: to improve lactate threshold, based on Rate of  Perceived Exertion 
  • What are different types of stretching techniques for active recovery  
  • Food activity

I really wanted to create an engaging activity with food in which participants made something themselves. With help from one of the former faculties, I was able to get catering for fresh fruits out of which kids made fruit kebabs.

Followed by a 40 minute presentation about the important role nutrition plays in healthy living and training. Also, why the knowledge of nutritional need is necessary to provide proper social support in order to help athletes develop a healthy relationship with food and their body image; create a healthy sporting environment in order to avoid developement of pathological eating habits that can lead to more serious mental and physical health issues.

There were thirteen athletes from ages 8 – 17 and one adult skater that participated in the training and conditioning part of the clinic. Then, coaches and parents joined us for presentation. Overall it turned out to be a really cool experience because skaters who participated came from the different skating clubs such as Gate City Skating Club in Nashua NH, Skating Club of Dartmouth NH,  and Magic Blades Figure Skating Club in Tilton. My biggest challenge and concern was to accommodate all participants because skaters had somewhat different skill levels and capabilities on the ice. However, it ran smoothly because the On-Ice part was focused on basic stroking on different intensities to get heart rate up and down according to conditioning repetitions and sets.

There were a few things that I know I want to improve on in the future, but overall it was an awesome experience throughout the entire clinic. Everyone was engaged the whole time regardless of the difference in ages.  I was surprised by the fact that skaters as young as 9 years old watched and engaged the entire presentation. To me, this was further proof to the findings of my research on how female athletes at such a young age already are or are becoming interested in the nutrition.

This is also why for the topic for my Senior Research Article I chose the Factors that lead to pathological eating habits and Eating Disorders, particularly in sports where body image is emphasized. My goal was to learn about the leading risks which are associated in triggering Eating Disorders so that I can use this knowledge to educate coaches, athletes and parents through the workshop I designed. I think raising awareness is the key in order to eliminate these risks and create a healthy sporting environment for young athletes.

TURIN, ITALY – FEBRUARY 23 (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

 As a professional figure skater, I personally struggled with maintaining my weight for most of my career. Growing up I was never properly educated about the important role of proper nutrition in order to achieve optimal performance. Growing up I’ve had coaches who told me and my peers to lose weight but, had not provided a nutrition plan and proper directions on how to do it; “Just stop eating” coaches have embedded in us, “skip a meal maybe” while we were intensely training for about 4 – 6 hours a day. The philosophy that was promoted to me growing up was, “ the lighter I am the better I am going to preform”, but based on my experience I can say that it is FALSE.

London, Ont., on Thursday, March 14, 2013.
DAVE SANDFORD 
LONDON, ON – MARCH 14: Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There was a time when I was so light that I couldn’t feel my body during the rotation in the air. It had highly affected my proprioception (awareness of the body in space) as well as my energy availability to perform. Of course, it was not all of the coaches who I worked with, and by any means, I am not saying that all coaches are this way! But since this philosophy was embedded in my head from a very young age, I had already developed these issues regarding my body weight. Once you lose the love for your “body” and yourself it is extremely hard to find the love for it again. It took a long time for me to get where I am today, and I am very proud of myself. However, I still have bad days when I am under stress and my emotions tend to surface and take over.

Education has been one of the biggest influences for my behavior change, in addition to therapy. Based on my personal experience and from what I found in my research, it is critical to recognize and address associated risks prior to the occurrence. Once you develop mental issues they don’t magically, go away, and some things may never go away.  This is why I want to put all of my energy in prevention of and elimination of these risks. As I explain in my research paper there were multiple aspects, such as pressure, exhaustion and burn out, that lead me to my breaking point, but nutrition was definitely a big one. Something that has helped me cope with my emotions was learning and accepting that these emotions are now a part of me, and must work on them, and embrace them, just as I do with the rest of myself. 

Through Interdisciplinary Studies major I was able to combine my previous experience as a professional athlete and create something that is very special and something I am really passionate about. Education had a tremendous impact on my life. The Applied Project has been very inspiring in many ways. Now I know that I possess a unique ability to make a difference for other athletes, and interdisciplinary education has given me the tools to make it happen.

  

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